Tuesday, November 4, 2014

The Mercy I Don't Deserve, and Neither Do You

That Moment

That moment that you realize that everything isn't about you, never has been, and never should have been. It took me a long time to realize that my life was not my own, my decisions, my wife, my son Elijah... Nothing was mine, the money in my bank account, to the house we rent in Fruitland... Nothing belonged to me truly, because in reality it belongs to God... All of It!

This was humbling to realize, because it means letting go, letting God take control of everything in yours and my humble little short lives. Along with this humbling feeling I also had the revelation that I don't even deserve to be loved by Christ! I listened as someone (whom I can't remember) said, "willing to believe in the forgiveness of Christ is easier than being willing to forgive ourselves."  And how true that statement is, for in the title alone of this little blog, it declares that while I know that Jesus Christ has forgiven me of all the sins in my life, the ones i've already committed and the one's i've yet to commit. in my heart I still don't get it... "How could Christ so easily forgive, what I can not?" 

If your reading this and you have asked the same question, then you know that you aren't alone. for even Pastor's struggle with this situation. I know in my heart that I have been forgiven, but there are things in my life, situations and choices that i've made that I can't allow God to forgive me for. And that's the key isn't it? I can't allow God to forgive, and how ridiculous i sound to myself right now writing this down, I can't allow God, who forgives all and every sin, no matter what it is.. to forgive me. Yet I am forgiven? Seems like an odd psychotic interchange in my head...

The reality is that You and I have been forgiven! We must be able to acknowledge the forgiveness that exists for all who claim Christ as their Lord and Savior. No we don't deserve mercy yet even though this is true, Christ still willingly gave his life for all of those who claim him. 

"For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him."       John 3: 16 - 17  

Verse 17 is the one that sticks out in my mind when I struggle with the above problem, i'm not perfect and neither are you, yet because of John 3:16 - 17 and continuing show that Jesus while knowing that we don't deserve mercy, still willingly gave of himself that you and I might not be sentenced to death as we so rightly deserve, but Jesus as propitiation (meaning one who steps in and takes your punishment), stood in our place, taking our punishment for our sins, our transgressions, our faults! So we don't deserve Mercy, yet mercy is what we have found in Christ, not judgement or condemnation, mercy.

My hope for those reading this article, is that you realize that because you have been given mercy and grace, that others are deserving of the same grace and mercy. We have a reason for living, a reason for existing and it is firmly rooted in Jesus Christ. God bless and remember to remain fixated upon Christ! 

Monday, September 29, 2014

Truth Speech

Truth Speech

Speaking the truth in all circumstances

By: Matthew Phipps

One day a thought occurred...

"Why don't I write a blog?" I thought to myself, "But what would I say?" or "Nobody would pay attention, or care." For three weeks I have wrestled with the idea of writing a blog, often times I have plenty to say but struggle with finding avenues to speak. Often I fear that what I have to say will just be rejected and thrown aside, as chaff on the threshing floor. But as a person who desires to be truthful and honoring to God almighty I decided, maybe truth should be the subject of my first blog, so here it goes...

Truth, and Transparency

So to be fair, i suppose I should be transparent. I consider myself to be the chief of sinners, lower than dirt compared not only many people I have met through-out my short time as a pastor, but also in my life. I know it might be hard to consider myself worse than the Apostle Paul whom coined the phrase, but I don't feel worthy often times to lead a small portion of God's people. I would hope that I am not alone in this feeling, and i know in certainty that I am not, but I wanted to take a moment and speak in transparency that; I will not always get things right, I will mess up, or screw up many things through-out my life. But my hope does not lie within myself, for if hope resides inside the soul of humanity we are all lost. No, my hope resides in Jesus Christ, in the sacrifice that he paid upon the "Mercy Tree" he paid for it all, all of my sin, all of my anguish, every deserved punishment. All paid by the Savior of the world.

I believe that truth resides in Christ, meaning that Truth is absolute, not representative in what humanity deems true. but in what God through Christ deemed true. Which means that if I wish to become or maintain to be a champion of truth, I will loose friends, I will be mocked by those either ignorant of truth, or mislead into believing that all truth is relative, which I will not fall prey too. I know that there are those who may read this blog and feel the need to correct or "enlighten" me of the errors of my thinking or how "foolish" I may be. But I only promise each and every reader one thing, truth. I will not pull the wool over your eyes or stupefy readers by asking un-answerable questions, I will simply do my best to speak truth.. regardless of the circumstance, regardless of the outcome. But I digress.

The Truth...

Ok, (big breath) so the truth... well simply put, your not that good. Sorry if I burst any bubbles, but seriously that is the biggest lie humanity has ever told itself, you in and of yourself are not good enough. we are all flawed, and it wasn't caused by some tyrannical, vengeful, hateful, God. we did it. humanity caused our own downfall, nobody else did that. And the sooner we get this first lie out of the way it makes room for the second...

The only way, the "Big Truth", you ready... "YOU NEED GOD" I know that sounds "in your face" or to real, or intense but you need God! It's not the other way around, how foolish it is to believe that God needs us to believe in him, he's not Santa Clause, he's not some wimpy Greek pagan Zeus who needs to hold believers under foot to have power, no God has power, God Is the epitome of Power! he is the definition of Power! it exerts from God. and it is a never-ending well, We have allowed God to become a nice bedtime story that we read to our children, but he is oh so much more than humanity gives him credit for. And in all of this power and might, and justice, God created us!

Not to be slaves to God in a worldly sense, but to live in righteousness and truth with him, free of the tyranny of sin, free of the true slave driver, free of the devil's prison. Again this lie that God is a bully with a magnifying glass over an ant hill is a lie, contrary to the Truth! that God loves each and every person, regardless of your sin, regardless of your past! God wants You!

So what...

I would like to say this, "All sin, is sin to God" Yes that means everything from homosexuality, murder, speaking hatefully or mean to a neighbor, to stealing the smallest of things.... it's all the same before Christ! It's not a question of "Tolerance" or love for thy neighbor... It is simply a question of "Mene, Mene, Tekel, Peres" If you didn't catch the reference, its Daniel 5:26 - 28 (NIV). The story of Daniel and king Belshazzar, Mene, meaning "God has numbered the days of your reign and brought it to an end." now for my purposes today, mene is not what I would like to focus on, but this next word is... Tekel, meaning; "You have been weighed on the scales and found wanting." If you remember the movie,  A Knight's Tale, you might remember how Heath Ledger's character used this to taunt the antagonist near the end of the movie... The meaning is true, and trustworthy, our lives stand upon one side of the scale, all of our deeds, whether good or bad stack up, but on the other side of the scale stands Jesus Christ, the only person to have ever lived a perfect and spotless life, the perfect sacrifice. We all have fallen short of Christ's glory, he is the weight that stands upon the other side of the scale, and without Christ, We have been weighed, and been found wanting.

The Hope...

The beauty, the hope that we have, our solace. is that while alone we are found wanting upon the scale of God, Christ is willing and able to act as or propitiation, in other words Christ is willing to come across the scales, stand in your place, and take your punishment, imagine standing in a court room and the judge is handing out your sentence... you have been found guilty of counts of sin, and as you stand there hearing your judgement, a man step's in, he speaks to the judge, and the judge then let's you go, free, not shackled by the transgressions you were just proven guilty of, still you did those things, yet Christ stands in your place and HE! took that punishment to the cross for YOU!

All you have to do, is find it in your heart to accept Jesus Christ, bring him into your life and allow him to reign, be transformed and changed from with-in. This will be no hasty process, it will take time, and some of the sin in our lives will still rear it's ugly head from time to time. but we must remain focused upon the cross, keep our eyes upon Jesus, he in Christ alone, our hope will stand.

The Conclusion...

So I spoke rather blatantly with all of you who ventured to read this blog. Some of you agree without question, while other's are turned away, disgusted with the "hateful" and "bigoted" words of judgement and condemnation that I spoke, but I love you, and you might ask, "how can you love me, and yet seem to judge me?" simply because Christ loves me, in spite of my sin, in spite of my transgression, Christ has always loves you, even if you don't pay him attention, he still loves you!

I hope that you continued to read this whole article, It is my hope that we can still be friends and disagree, I hope that I can challenge you to seek out the truth, to not believe everything the world says about Christians, or what some Christians have done to harm the name of Christ. I hope that you see the desire to show you love in Truth...