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So I just read one amazing book – “The Shack” by William P. Young. Although this book has been around for several years, I’ve never had the time or desire to read it until now. What stunned me about this book was how it showed our loving Father in a way that many of us have experienced, but our religious thinking could never really allow us to believe.

The main character in this story is Mackenzie Allen Phillips, or “Mack” for short.  Mack has never had a close relationship with God, or “Pappa,” as He is often referred to in the book.

I don’t want to spoil the ending if you haven’t read it, but I do want to leave you with some favorite lines I highlighted while I was reading it. I think I could have highlighted the entire book, so forgive me if this gets a little long.

“Oh”— now Jesus was serious—“ don’t go because you feel obligated. That won’t get you any points around here. Go because it’s what you want to do.” (p. 98)

“Life takes a bit of time and a lot of relationship.”  (p. 103)

“Mackenzie, the truth shall set you free and the truth has a name; he’s over in the woodshop right now covered in sawdust. Everything is about him. And freedom is a process that happens inside a relationship with him. Then all that stuff you feel churnin’ around inside will start to work its way out.” (p. 107)

“When all you can see is your pain, perhaps then you lose sight of me?” (p. 108)

“Most birds were created to fly. Being grounded for them is a limitation within their ability to fly, not the other way around.” She paused to let Mack think about her statement. “You, on the other hand, were created to be loved. So for you to live as if you were unloved is a limitation, not the other way around.”  (p. 109)

“Growth means change and change involves risk, stepping from the known to the unknown. —Author Unknown”   The Shack (p. 132)

“Though chains be of gold, they are chains all the same.” (p. 141)

“Trust is the fruit of a relationship in which you know you are loved. Because you do not know that I love you, you cannot trust me.” (p. 146)

“It’s not the work but the purpose that makes it special.” (p. 152)

“You must give up your right to decide what is good and evil on your own terms. That is a hard pill to swallow— choosing to live only in me. To do that, you must know me enough to trust me and learn to rest in my inherent goodness.”  (pp. 158-159)

“Without wisdom, imagination is a cruel taskmaster.” (p. 166)

“The person who lives by his fears will not find freedom in my love.” (p. 167)

“All I want from you is to trust me with what little you can, and grow in loving people around you with the same love I share with you. It’s not your job to change them, or to convince them. You are free to love without an agenda.” (p. 217)

“Does that mean,” said Mack, “that all roads will lead to you?” “Not all.” Jesus smiled as he reached for the door handle to the shop. “Most roads don’t lead anywhere. What it does mean is that I will travel any road to find you.” (p. 219)

“If I take away the consequences of people’s choices, I destroy the possibility of love. Love that is forced is no love at all.”  (p. 229)

“Honey, you asked me what Jesus accomplished on the cross, so now listen to me carefully: through his death and resurrection, I am now fully reconciled to the world.” ; “The whole world? You mean those who believe in you, right?” ; “The whole world, Mack. All I am telling you is that reconciliation is a two-way street, and I have done my part, totally, completely, finally. It is not the nature of love to force a relationship, but it is the nature of love to open the way.” (p. 232)

“It is true that relationships are a whole lot messier than rules, but rules will never give you answers to the deep questions of the heart, and they will never love you.”  (p. 239)

“Those who are afraid of freedom are those who cannot trust us to live in them. Trying to keep the Law is actually a declaration of independence, a way of keeping control.” (p. 246)

Jesus now spoke again. “Mack, I don’t want to be first among a list of values; I want to be at the center of everything. When I live in you, then together we can live through everything that happens to you. Rather than the top of a pyramid, I want to be the center of a mobile, where everything in your life— your friends, family, occupation, thoughts, activities— is connected to me but moves with the wind, in and out and back and forth, in an incredible dance of being.” (p. 251)

“Forgiveness is not about forgetting, Mack. It is about letting go of another person’s throat.” (p. 272)

“Forgiveness does not establish relationship. In Jesus, I have forgiven all humans for their sins against me, but only some choose relationship.”  (pp. 272-274)

“Oh, child,” spoke Papa tenderly. “Don’t ever discount the wonder of your tears. They can be healing waters and a stream of joy. Sometimes they are the best words the heart can speak.” (p. 279)

“Mackenzie, this world is full of tears, but if you remember, I promised that it would be I who would wipe them from your eyes.”  (p. 281)

“Earth’s crammed with heaven, And every common bush afire with God, but only he who sees takes off his shoes; The rest sit round it and pluck blackberries. —Elizabeth Barrett Browning” (p. 285)

Young, William P. (2008-06-20). The Shack. Windblown Media. Kindle Edition.

Thanks for taking the time to read through those great lines from the book. I can’t say enough about this wonderful little book. If you’re interested, you can find The Shack here at amazon.com.

Grace and Peace

Chad

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Reblogged from phildrysdale.com Many people wonder what I think about the law. As I continue to relentlessly preach grace they seem to jump to the conclusion that I hate the law and that I believe the law is no longer relevant.

Let me address this concern by saying this – I think the same thing the apostles thought about the law.

Here are just a few verses that describe what they thought of the law, as recorded throughout the New Testament. I encourage you to take time and go through them, check them in context, I have, and I am very confident of what the New Testament writers had to say about the law. I know it’s a relatively long list but it’s well worth it.

As a disclaimer, if this list makes you angry, please hear me out to the end. I actually love the law and so did the writers of the NT – so long as it remains in its rightful place!

What the NT authors had to say

Acts

The law is an unbearable yoke. (Acts 15:10)

Romans

The law reveals sin but cannot fix it. (Romans 3:20)

If the law worked then faith would be irrelevant. (Romans 4:14)

The law brings wrath upon those who follow it. (Romans 4:15)

The purpose of the law was to increase sin. (Romans 5:20)

Christians are not under the law. (Romans 6:14)

Christians have been delivered from the law. (Romans 7:1-6)

The law is good, perfect and holy but cannot help you be good, perfect or holy. (Romans 7:7-12)

The law which promises life only brings death through sin. (Romans 7:10)

The law makes you sinful beyond measure. (Romans 7:13)

The law is weak. (Romans 8:2-3)

1 Corinthians

The strength of sin is the law (1 Corinthians 15:56)

2 Corinthians

The law is a ministry of death. (2 Corinthians 3:7)

The law is a ministry of condemnation. (2 Corinthians 3:9)

The law has no glory at all in comparison with the New Covenant. (2 Corinthians 3:10)

The law is fading away. (2 Corinthians 3:11)

Anywhere the law is preached it produces a mind-hardening and a heart-hardening veil. (2 Corinthians 3:14-15)

Galatians

The law justifies nobody. (Galatians 2:16)

Christians are dead to the law. (Galatians 2:19)

The law frustrates grace. (Galatians 2:21)

To go back to the law after embracing faith is “stupid”. (Galatians 3:1)

The law curses all who practice it and fail to do it perfectly. (Galatians 3:10)

The law has nothing to do with faith. (Galatians 3:11-12)

The law was a curse that Christ redeemed us from. (Galatians 3:13)

The law functioned in God’s purpose as a temporary covenant from Moses till John the Baptist announced Christ. (Galatians 3:16 & 19, also see… Matthew 11:12-13, Luke 16:16)

If the law worked God would have used it to save us. (Galatians 3:21)

The law was our prison. (Galatians 3:23)

The law makes you a slave like Hagar. (Galatians 4:24)

Ephesians

Christ has abolished the law which was a wall of hostility (Ephesians 2:15)

Philippians

Paul considered everything the law gained him as “skybalon” which is Greek for “poop”. (Philippians 3:4-8)

1 Timothy

The law is only good if used in the right context. (1 Timothy 1:8) (see next verse for the context)

It was made for the unrighteous but not for the righteous. (1 Timothy 1:9-10)

Hebrews

The law is weak, useless and makes nothing perfect. (Hebrews 7:18-19)

(As a side – that’s some fighting talk – no wonder the author of Hebrews remains anonymous to this day!)

God has found fault with it and created a better covenant, enacted on better promises. (Hebrews 8:7-8)

It is obsolete, growing old and ready to vanish. (Hebrews 8:13)

It is only a shadow of good things to come and will never make someone perfect. (Hebrews 10:1)

But… but… the Old Testament

Let’s not kid ourselves, even in the Old Testament the Mosaic Covenant was one that had five times more curses than blessings. There are 13 verses of blessing described (Deuteronomy 28:1-13) and 65 verses of curses (Deuteronomy 27:15-26, 28:16-68).

People lived constantly under the awareness of both the severity of the law and their inability to fulfill it! The law was always more of a curse than a blessing to those who were under it! That was its very purpose – to show just how much trouble they were in!

They knew they were to celebrate the law because it was God-given, but they never ultimately had a revelation of why it was given.

It was given to a people who wanted to do things their own way, as a way to show them they couldn’t! It showed them the standard of God’s holiness was far beyond anything they could ever hope to achieve themselves. This law was required and yet at the same time wholly impossible to obey. It was meant to drive them to grace and mercy and that grace and mercy could only come through the One who did the impossible by fulfilling the law.

The law made things worse

I know personally when I have a sin in my life I have a tendency to want to deal with it using law. When I see a sin, I think “what law can fix the problem here?” Or “what structure can I implement in my life to stop me from sinning?”

The problem is, that this is an Old Covenant way of thinking. The law is not applied to control sin, actually in both Romans 5:20 and 1 Corinthians 15:56 Paul explains to us how the law actually makes sin worse! Wherever there is law, sin starts to run rampant! It throws gasoline on the flames! That’s what the much misunderstood passage Romans 7 is all about, many think it’s about a sinful nature, actually it’s about the law stirring up sin! For more details on this see my article“Romans 7: Did Paul Struggle With a Sinful Nature?”

But Jesus came to fulfill the law, not do away with it!

I hear this argument a LOT when I talk about this stuff, let me ask you a hypothetical question:

Let’s say you have a mortgage for $500,000 owed to the bank. Now imagine that a rich man comes along and pays that mortgage off in full. He gets his receipt of the payment and you receive written notice of the mortgage being paid in full.

Now suppose the first of the month comes round and you get your monthly bill, from the bank, demanding your $2000 monthly repayment.

What are you going to do?

You are going to go straight to the bank with your piece of paper saying that the contract you had with the bank has been paid in full! You would be crazy to keep paying according to the old, fulfilled contract.

Jesus is saying in Matthew 5:17-20 that it is imperative that the standard of the law remains. Because if that standard is not left for those who do not believe in Him people will not realise their inability to do it! To put it in another way, the law must be there otherwise nobody will realise they need grace!

Jesus paid your debt in full. He fulfilled the law. In fact Paul says that the law was nailed to the cross with Him! (Col 2:14)

OK, but just the ceremonial law right?

This is where it gets complex and I want to make it as simple as possible for us all.

You see, a lot of people try to break up the law, into either two, ceremonial and moral, or three parts, ceremonial, civil and moral. I often hear people explain that it was the ceremonial law that was nailed to the cross.

This is a nice idea we use to try keep a hold of as much of the law as we possibly can, while doing away with some. The problem is the Bible doesn’t break up the law as nice and neat as that, in fact it doesn’t break up the law at all.

However, I’m not going to argue about whether or not the law is broken up into sections, let’s just go straight for the jugular.

Paul explains that the “law” which is no longer relevant in the believer’s life is the law which is “written and engraved on stones” in 2 Corinthians 3:7.

Which law does that sound like? The ceremonial law? The civil law? Obviously this is the Ten Commandments Paul is talking about, they were the only laws to be engraved in stone.

Paul isn’t being vague here and wants everyone to know that when he says that the law is no longer applicable in the Christian’s life he means the whole package it came in!

If you feel a need to divide the law up, that’s fine, just so long as you know the whole thing was fulfilled in Christ and the whole thing is for the unbeliever not the believer (1 Timothy 1:9).

So you are saying I should go sin as much as I like?

This is the most common question I get asked, for that reason I won’t be addressing it in this blog.

For those of you who believe that Christians have a sinful nature or perhaps you don’t but are still finding yourself assuming that this is what I’m saying, please read the following articles (there are many more on the website that will help you understand your righteousness in Christ as well.)

Romans 7: Did Paul struggle with a sinful nature
So you are saying it’s impossible to sin
Extreme grace: A license to sin

In short, sinners sin, saints don’t. If you think God made you righteous so you could keep on sinning then you’ve completely missed the point that He made you righteous. Righteous people find it hard to sin. If you think I’m saying you cannot sin as a Christian I again refer you to the above articles!

So what are you saying?

Firstly let me say this, I’m not saying we tear out the first half of our Bible and never read it again. It is still the Bible and God still uses it to teach us and direct us. The Spirit of God helps us divide the scriptures so we understand how to read them in light of the New Covenant. God’s grace is just as present in the Old Testament as it is in the New Testament. However this article is not about the Bible, it’s about the law.

So, secondly, I’m not saying you should never read the law or that the law should no longer exist either. We can find in the law loads of things that speak of who God is and teach us the grace and mercy of God. Not only that, but without understanding the law, our sin and the consequences of them, we will never fully be able to celebrate the freedom that God’s grace has brought us into!

We must however be able to divide correctly who the law is for. It is for unbelievers not believers. It is imperative that we understand this, those who put themselves back under the law put themselves right back under a curse. In fact it says if you do so, you are “severed from Christ”, pretty scary language if you ask me! (Galatians 5:4)

It is so important to understand that the law is good, it is perfect, it is holy (Romans 7:7-12), but most importantly it’s essential that we remember that it has a purpose. That purpose is to lead people to the end of themselves, it is there to push people, until they give up on the law and choose to rely on God’s gift of grace!

The law will never save anyone, nor will it make them a better person, whether they are a believer or unbeliever. It is simply there to show us how lost we are without grace.

The law is a mirror, but nobody ever uses the mirror to clean themselves. The purpose of a mirror is to show you your dirty face – not to clean it – you need Jesus to clean that dirty face.

Another reformation

The church is in desperate need for another reformation. For too long we have straddled the fence of the New and Old Covenant. A bit of grace here, a bit of law there. But the truth is that a little leaven ruins the whole bread. We don’t mix grace and law. Grace + Law = Law. The only way to drink grace is undiluted.

Let’s make it a priority to keep the law in its rightful context, as a tool to lead people to the end of themselves.

We must stop teaching the law as if it were a list of rules for us to follow, they are not a list of helpful moral guidelines which we are supposed to focus on trying to keep. It absolutely devastates me that the first thing children learn when they go to church is the ten commandments! Did we not read 2 Corinthians 3:14-15?

“But their minds were hardened. For to this day when they read the Old Covenant that same veil remains unlifted, because only through Christ is it taken away. Yes, to this day whenever Moses is read a veil lies over their hearts”

What are we doing to our children? To ourselves?

The truth is we have been set free from the law, and our lives in grace will look better than those of any person trying to keep the law. Because we are not cleaned from the outside, we are cleaned from the inside. We have become a new creation.

Have you ever thought about the tree of the knowledge of good and evil? If Adam and Eve didn’t have knowledge of good and evil then how did they please God?

The truth is that God has never wanted the human race to do life constantly trying to figure out if things are good and evil. He’s made us righteous so that everything we would do is good.

You see the biggest hinderance to us doing good is our knowledge of good and evil! If we were willing to put aside our desire to do good and avoid evil, and instead just follow God’s voice, we would see the most incredible changes in our lives.

What might happen if we trusted that Christ in us is good at His job and that the Holy Spirit, actually produces the fruit of the Spirit and not us?

The only thing a believer needs, to live a holy life, is to remain conscious of the fact that God has fully accepted them as His son or daughter, making them a new creation and one with Him, filled with the Holy Spirit. Forever. Amen.

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It seems like forever that I’ve heard this:  As Jesus was dying on the cross of Calvary, His Father turned His back on Him. Is this true? A lot of you may be thinking – “Uh… didn’t Jesus say ‘My God My God, why has hast Thou forsaken Me?'” And I would say – yes – He did say that in Mat. 27:46.

So why do I question that the Father actually did forsake His son?   If you read the verse again, you will notice that is was not a statement but actually a question being asked.  Jesus, while He was fully God, was also fully man. He, at this moment, was carrying the weight of the world’s sin, sickness, depression and a host of other undesirable things that keep us in bondage. At that moment, it is worth noting that this is the first and only time Jesus addresses the Father as my God.

This, my friends, is what sin, sickness, and disease does to us. It makes us feel as though we are far from our heavenly Father. But let’s get back to the question at hand:  Did the Father forsake His only begotten Son?

I think the answer is found in Psalms 22. Jesus was actually quoting this Psalm on the cross. Let’s look at it now.

1 My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? why art thou so far from helping me, and from the words of my roaring?

As you can see, this was what Jesus was quoting on the Cross.  But if we continue to look at Psalms 22, we see that the whole chapter is a prophetic view to the crucifixion. Let me pull out a few more obvious verses that will show you what I see.

14 I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint: my heart is like wax; it is melted in the midst of my bowels.15 My strength is dried up like a potsherd; and my tongue cleaveth to my jaws; and thou hast brought me into the dust of death.  16 For dogs have compassed me: the assembly of the wicked have inclosed me: they pierced my hands and my feet.17 I may tell all my bones: they look and stare upon me.18 They part my garments among them, and cast lots upon my vesture.

T0his is clearly about the crucifixion. But wait – we are looking for answer to the question that Jesus asked.  For too long, we have made our own interpertion of what the Father actually did.  Remember, Jesus asked a question.  So where is the answer?  If the Father raising His Son on the third day after they had defeated hell, death and the grave wasn’t a good enough answer for you, let’s finish out Psalm 22 and see if we can find the answer (this time from the NKJV in verse).

21 Save Me from the lion’s mouth ad from the horns of the wild oxen! YOU HAVE ANSWERED ME. (capitals are mine for emphases)

So what’s the answer? If we continue to read down to verse 24 we find the answer – and yes, my friends, this is good news.

24 For He has not despised nor abhorred the affiction of the afflicted; NOR HAS HE HIDDEN HIS FACE FROM HIM; BUT WHEN HE CRIED TO HIM HE HEARD.

My friends, this is the answer to the question that Jesus asked. The Father did not turn his back on Him. He did not hide His face from Him because of all the sin that was on Him, but when He cried, the Father heard Him. If we continue to look at scripture  we find that the Father was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them 2 Cor.5:19.

This is good news! Really it’s great news.  The Father never left His Son – not even the moment He carried the weight of the world’s sin. You see, He promised never to leave us or forsake us.  Nothing can separate us, and nothing could ever separate the Trinity. NOTHING.

You may ask, “Why does this matter?” It matters because Jesus was the expressed image of the Father. To think Jesus loves us one way and the Father  loves another, or that He might turn His back on us when we sin, is something I think needs to be corrected in our thought process towards our Heavenly Father.  Sin, my friends, has been dealt with at the cross.  It can no longer keep you from the love that your Father has for you. The only thing that will keep you from that love is a refusal to receive it. Grace is on the table.

It’s time to eat!

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The New Covenant in a nutshell.

Well honestly, I don’t think we can fit it in a nutshell, but I’ll try to keep this as short as I can. We all know that Jesus’s blood was the blood that forged the New Covenant.

Matt. 26:28, “This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.”

It’s all about the blood of my Savior. But what are the terms of the New Covenant? The word covenant is simply contract, and if there is a contract there must be terms to this deal. And this is were the Good News begins.

You might ask, “Why did we need a New Covenant with God if we had an Old Covenant with God?” Was something wrong with the first one? No, there was nothing wrong with the contract itself, but God had found fault with the people (Heb.8:7-8). The Law couldn’t make anyone perfect, but it left us tired and worn out trying to please God. My friends, God is much more interested in pleasing You than He is about you trying to please Him.

So the New Covenant has come. It is the Covenant that the blood of Jesus has made for us. The terms of this contract are found in Hebrews 8:10-13.

10 This is the covenant I will make with the house of Israel after that time, declares the Lord. I will put my laws in their minds and write them on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people.11 No longer will a man teach his neighbor, or a man his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ because they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest. 12 For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.” 13 By calling this covenant “new,” he has made the first one obsolete; and what is obsolete and aging will soon disappear.

Notice the underlines I will, I will, I will, I will. It seems God has done all the work in this new contract. So if God has done it all, if it really is finished, what is our part? Our part is trust. Trust that He is who He says He is, that He has forgiven our wickedness and our sins He remembers no more. Read that again slowly. He has forgiven our wickedness, and our sins He remembers no more. That is just plain Good News that is the what the Gospel is all about. God says “I will,” and we believe.

David said:

Romans 4:7 “Blessed are they whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered. 8 Blessed is the man whose sin the Lord will never count against him.”

It is finished! The Lord is not counting, keeping track, taking score, or watching for every sin you commit. You do not have to hide from Him because of sin. Because of His forgiveness and because of His grace, we now have the ability to overcome sin by boldly approaching the throne of grace and receiving the love, mercy, and grace that is available to all who believe.

Grace and Peace,

Chad

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Todays blog is from Heather Lidwell. For more from Heather check out gracepluszero.com

The man stood in front of the children and pulled out a long, gleaming, golden chain. Attached to the end of it was a thick, round pocketwatch engraved with a black railroad engine. He grinned big as the children looked it. One boy, in particular, reached out to grab it. The grubby, 5-year-old fingers ran almost reverently across its surface as the man asked, “Do you all know what this is?”

The boy nodded enthusiastically, and one cried out, “It’s a pocketwatch!”

“Yes, it is!” he affirmed. He turned the pocketwatch over and said, “Right here, it reads the words, ‘World’s Greatest Dad.’ Guess whose watch this is? It’s mine!”

The kids grinned, and a few chuckles popped up like the beginning of popcorn from the crowd that had gathered on Sunday. Each week, right after the choir sang, the kids all gathered around while someone from the congregation, usually someone in children’s ministry, told the children a story or taught them a lesson in front of everyone. Every Sunday, without fail, one of those kids would say something off-the-wall, touching in its innocence, or mesmerize all the folks with wisdom beyond their years. It had become a favorite of everyone, the short 15 minutes it took to show us all how the kids were growing up in the Lord.

“I want to tell you a story about this watch. When I first got it, it was the best gift ever. I wore it every day. I wore it to work. I wore it to church. I wore it to special events. Everywhere I went, the watch went. Then, I started getting worried something might happen to it, or that it wouldn’t look as nice if I took it everywhere. I didn’t want to wear it out, so I decide I would just take it out and wear it on Sundays and on special occasions. So I put it up on the shelf and only wore it to church on Sunday morning and to family reunions, things like that.”

The kids nodded. They didn’t really know where he was going with this, but I did. I felt the pit of my stomach sink, because I knew this story all too well. I knew what conclusion he was going to draw, how wonderful he would think it was going to be, and what an impact it would make on the children. My throat tightened, and I looked down as he continued.

“Have you ever had a toy you really loved, and then just kind of stopped playing with it as new toys came along? Well, that’s kind of what happened to this watch. It got too hard to remember to take it out on Sundays and special events, so I decided only really to take it out for Christmas and Easter. I decided it would keep looking really well if I only took it out those few times a year.  It would keeping it look brand new, even years later.”

He then raised it up, gave it a shake, and held it up to his ear and shrugged, “But guess what?” He asked.

The kids all asked. “What?”

“Can anyone tell me what’s wrong with this watch?”

He held it out for them all to see, and one by one, they listened for a sound that never clicked. A moving hand that never moved. A spinning wheel that never spun.

“It don’t work!” one girl said and shook her head.

“No, it sure doesn’t,” he said gravely. “It was a prized possession, but because I neglected it… that means, I didn’t take it out when I was supposed to, I didn’t check on it every day, didn’t polish it, didn’t watch after it, didn’t care for it… well, it stopped working on me. I could hardly even find it to bring it to show you all.”

And, of course, that’s when he said what I’m sure those children will remember forever.

That’s how Jesus is.”

One little boy turned his head. A tear welled up in my eye and slid down my cheek as I endured again in silent frustration and anger as my Savior and King was described in the most hopeless, worst way possible to eager ears and young hearts for whom He is fighting, whom He has spilled His blood, who He longs to save and love, rule and reign with, protect and dwell within.

The man nodded sadly, “That’s just how Jesus is. You accept Him into your hearts, but then you just go about your life, and you forget. You don’t read your Bible, you forget to come to church. You don’t pray like you should to Him. Then, one day, when you really want Him, when you really need Him, you won’t hear Him. He’ll be silent, because it won’t work for you anymore. Just like this watch.”

He put it in his pocket and then pointed a finger, admonishing them.

“You may not even be able to find Him. You’ll look everywhere, but He won’t be where you left Him. Don’t let that happen to you.”

And then it was quiet, as many of the “righteous” nodded their sanctimonious heads in agreement.

Those same fears were instilled deeply into me when I grew up believing in this kind of “relationship” with God. It took so long, with so many years of humbling, of learning about His unfailing love and mercy, of His abiding grace, to learn the truth about my Savior. Still, it is all I can do sometimes to sit back and listen while this kind of unbelief and fear is perpetuated in our children. In grown-up children too, sitting in the pews still, after all these years, searching for their pocketwatch.

I wonder what will happen when young Bobby is hooked on crack one day, and, sitting on the toilet, with a needle shaking in his hand, getting ready to put it in his vein, he cries out in desperation, “Oh, Jesus, please help me!” as he searches for his pocketwatch.

I wonder what will happen when Gayle sobs when she sees the little double line appear, confirming her worst fears that she’s pregnant. She puts her hand on her still-smooth, young belly, and wonders if, just fingerbreadths above the little baby growing in her uterus, if her pocketwatch is still there in her heart, when she accepted Him so long ago?

I wonder what will happen when Darren lays wide-eyed, in bed, staring at the ceiling and trying to reconcile whether or not a pocketwatch even exists, this idea competing with all the worldviews he’s learning in college. Who to trust in. What to believe. I wonder if he will even go looking for something that must be maintained every day to be real.

The day will come all too soon when there will no longer be men in suits with broken pocketwatches, ladies in flowery dresses giving admonitions, and concerned members of the local church to turn to with their theology. The day will come when each of these children will need to listen for the voice of the Lord. The ticking of the watch. The hand of the King.

And I wonder how the King feels about being described in such terms, having given His life’s blood to pay the price so that they might hear Him in their darkest hour. I can only imagine. If someone ever told my sons or daughters that “Mommy loves you now, but if you forget to call her for awhile, or if you forget to do nice things for her, or if you get wrapped up in your life, and you don’t come to her birthday parties, forget it, kiddo. No more mom for you. She just won’t pick up that phone when you call if you really need her,” I would be filled with so much rage and hurt that I’m not sure I’d be able to respond in a godly way.

Because of this root of fear, I had at one time forgotten about important scriptures such as these, when it was my moment to seek. “If you seek me with all your heart, you will find me,” He says again, “If you seek me, you will find me.” “The gracious hand of our God is on everyone who looks to him,” “The LORD looks down from heaven on the sons of men to see if there are any who seek God.” “You, LORD, have never forsaken those who seek you.” “Blessed are they who … seek him with all their heart.” “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” “Seek and you will find.” “The Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost.” “God did this so that men would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from each one of us.” “He rewards those who earnestly seek him.”

Thankfully, when I cried out to Him, when I looked for my pocketwatch, I heard it ticking loud and clear. Full of life. Full of safety, assurance, love, reception, and reconciliation that would have been denied me, had I believed the “pocketwatch dogma.” I thank my Savior, who is Christ Jesus, who is able to save children even such as myself from the legalistic lies that are taught to them that might keep them in bondage. Whatever you might ascribe to my King, please do not forget that He is real and will demonstrate in the power of the Holy Spirit His reality, majesty, and Lordship over what is His. Be sure your theology and what you teach others is in agreement with that. It is an awful thing to be on the wrong side in the matter of reconciliation of Jesus and who the Father has given to Him to hold in His hand. This is His kingdom. The pocketwatch does not stop.

The Midst of Confusion

Posted: December 22, 2012 in Identity, Kevin West
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The Midst of Confusion
Posted by Pastor Kevin on December 22, 2012 at kevinwest.org
For more resources from Pastor Kevin check out his website at kevinwest.org

As I reflect back on this past Friday’s events, I can’t help but think of how painful it must be for the families of the young children that were killed.

As we begin to know more about the mental state of the young man who committed the murders, our hearts are even more burdened with how the enemy used his disorder to harm these precious children and their caregivers. It would be easy to just point the finger at why this happened, but the reality is, this situation is complicated. It is reflective of the state of confusion and turmoil this nation is in. Politically, socially, and unfortunately spiritually, the nation has been in confusion and decline, and it seems like the enemy has used these horrific situations to spin us around in circles for last several years.

The Bible says God did not give us the spirit of fear, but of power, love, and of a sound mind. There was a time when there were clear voices speaking on behalf of morality or even the church, but in recent years some of these voices have become so confusing that we aren’t even sure what voice is speaking and for whom. In times like these, we see the need for true, sober spiritual leadership with a clear vision to arise within the body of Christ and, with the power of their focus, make these circles of confusion disappear – laying clear the path to a righteous destiny for the kingdom of God on the Earth.

We are in desperate need for a clear prophetic voice to speak life into this nation again – one that accurately represents Christ and who His church is within Him – her power, her security, her righteousness, mandate, and above all, her glory. The confusing streams of our new covenant reality mixed with what seems to be obligations to an old covenant performance has caused delusion, confusion, and despair in a land where people are crying out for sanity, hope, and grace. It has caused the bride of Christ to carry an air of hostility, politically and morally, and to cloak herself in this imaginary self-righteous garment that is turning away an entire generation and offering no solutions for the lost.

I am praying for a call that will cause the bride to turn her face to the bridegroom – for the dormant believer to awaken and accept responsibility for this nation – not just for our generation – but for the generations to come. It’s the goodness of God that leadeth men to repent. When we throw off this cloak of confusion and self-righteousness, this nation will begin to see the bride for Whose she is. And it will be Him.

And He is glorious.

And He is sanity, love, and power.

And He is our King.

Let God arise and His enemies be scattered.

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None but Jesus.

Posted: December 7, 2012 in Faith, Trust
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I think Charles Spurgeon said it best “None but Jesus.”   What a statement!  Yes, you all shake your head and say Amen!  I can hear it now as the congregation begins to stir.  Some say COME ON!  Some say PREACH IT PASTOR!  Ah yes, we all love our Jesus.

Lately though, I’ve been hearing something that sounds nothing like Jesus.  I recently received a revelation of pure Grace from the Holy Spirit, and now when I listen to those same sermons I hear something that I hadn’t noticed before.  The pastor is still preaching from the bible, the message still tickles the ears, and it still sounds pretty good, but there is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death (Proverbs 14:12). 

Before this revelation, I would sit in church and hear a little bit of Law and a little bit of Grace; a little bit of Moses and a little bit of Jesus, and I didn’t mind at all (or usually even notice).  Now, with my heart so desiring to hear pure grace, the mixture of the message in this way is no longer tolerable.  These little bit o’ this, little bit o’ that-style messages come across as harsh, glaring, blatant legalism that bring nothing but the death mentioned in Proverbs and the curse Paul talks about in Galatians (Chapter 3, verse 10).

I realize that the flesh often just wants to stay in its comfort zone.  It wants to know what rules to keep.  It sometimes seems simpler to just do A and avoid B, obey the rules and God will be happy with us, than it is to rely upon the completed work of Christ.  This is exactly the sort of thinking that is “what seemeth right unto a man” and we’ve already learned where that leads.  Death.

Personally, I think following the leading of the Holy Spirit is a much better choice, as it leads to Life.  I understand that walking in faith, rather than by sight, can be challenging and even frightening at times, but when Jesus is preached it all sort of just falls into place.

Which brings me back to Spurgeon’s “None but Jesus.”

Let me explain;

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. (John 1:1)

I think we can all agree that John was speaking here of Jesus.  He is the Word of God.

So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. (Romans 10:17)

Paul says that faith comes by hearing the Word of God.  The Word of God is Jesus Christ.  Thus, faith comes by hearing Jesus preached.  So, let’s build our faith and preach “None but Jesus.”

It’s really simple math.
Grace + Law = Law and Law = Death and Curse.
Grace + zero = Grace and Grace = Truth and Life.

In closing, I’ll leave you with the great Spurgeon quote I’ve been using:
“I sometimes wonder that you do not get tired of my preaching, because I do nothing but hammer away on this one nail. With me it is, year after year, ‘None but Jesus!’ Oh, you great saints, if you have outgrown the need of a sinner’s trust in the Lord Jesus, you have outgrown your sins, but you have also outgrown your grace, and your saintship has ruined you!”

Grace and Peace

Chad