Friday, January 31, 2014

day no. 12,884: all CAPS no BUTS‏

1 Peter 5:10

Now the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ Jesus, will personally restore, establish, strengthen, and support you after you have suffered a little.

RESTORE: bring back initially
ESTABLISH: set up permanently
STRENGTHEN: make stronger abundantly
SUPPORT: aid continually

Jesus Christ will PERSONALLY do all of this for you because of His grace.

AFTER you suffer a little.

AFTER you suffer the loss of self-esteem,
He will RESTORE your esteem by hiding it in Himself.

AFTER you suffer the loss of self-righteousness,
He will ESTABLISH your righteousness perfectly by Himself.

AFTER you suffer the loss of self-reliance,
He will STRENGTHEN your reliance in Himself.

AFTER you suffer the loss of self-help,
He will SUPPORT with help from Himself.

He PERSONALLY will see to this.

He is not delegating this or outsourcing it.

The God of ALL grace PERSONALLY guarantees it.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

day no. 12,883: a committed welcoming‏

1 Peter 4:9
 
Be hospitable to one another without complaining.
 
How difficult is that sometimes, right?
 
It would be one thing to merely be welcoming.
 
It’s a whole another thing to do so without grumbling or complaining about “having” to do it.
 
I have a lot to learn with regard to granting people access to my life and our home in respecting that BOTH my life and home need a door, but they also need a lock (and then rooms inside the home need doors and locks as well).
 
That’s code for saying not everyone has equal access to each and every part of me. My wife has access to me in a way that is different than my neighbor. She also has access to me in a way that is different than my children.
 
But I digress….
 
Thanks for the kick in the crotch Pete.
 
God have mercy on us.
Holy Spirit renew our minds.
Jesus mediate on our behalf and praise be to You for welcoming us into Your perfect life.
 
Things were great until You invited us over for dinner.
 
We ruined your rug and made noise, noise, NOISE at Your peaceful table.
 
You welcomed us in.
 
You were hospitable with Your life and Your home.
 
Thank You for doing that perfectly and without complaining so that by faith in You we are perfectly welcomed in Your presence and seen as being perfectly hospitable and welcoming.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

day no. 12,882: while i was on hold‏

While I was on hold for a phone call I was making for work I decided to handwrite Psalm 1.

You can tell where I began to worry if I would get it done before the hold music came to an end.



I am hoping to get diligent and disciplined about handwriting and bang out a handwritten copy of the NT.

My friend Travinci inspired this (as his name would suggest, he's quite the muse).


***Also, happy 5 month old day to little miss Laurelai!!!

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

day no. 12,881: 2013: the year in books‏

I didn’t get to read as much as I would have liked this year. With a reduced commute, I wasn’t able to delegate as much of my “reading” time to driving time, but that’s OK. I will always have books I want to read and books I want to read AGAIN. I like reading and I like learning. I like learning about new books to read. My main reading is devotional (My Utmost for His Highest daily), Bible (NT in a year read through plan), more Bible (OT on the weekends) and the reading for Connection Group leaders and PIT crew (Pastors In Training – a.k.a. Elder Team).
 
But I digress.
 
Here’s what my eyes looked at this year:
 
1. Crime and Punishment – Fyodor Dostoevsky
2. My Utmost for His Highest – Oswald Chambers
3. New Testament – Holy Spirit
4. Quitter – Jon Acuff
5. Just Do Something – Kevin DeYoung
6. Am I Called? – Dave Harvey
7. The Fisherman – Larry Huntsperger
8. Deep and Wide – Andy Stanley
9. Discipleshift – Jim Putman
10. Dangerous Journey – John Bunyan
11. Lone Survivor – Marcus Luttrell
12. The Treasure Principle – Randy Alcorn
13. The Jesus Storybook Bible: Every Story Whispers His Name – Sally Lloyd-Jones
 
I have simply adored working through “Dangerous Journey” with the kids and could not recommend a single book other than the Bible more highly than I do this one for training and instructing children in the Gospel and obedience of the faith.
 
“Am I Called?” was a great book that helped me answer, “Yes,” this is what I want to do with my life.
 
“Lone Survivor” was given to me by Paul Sabino to read. So billy bad apple. Now I’m excited to see the movie (mind you I’m writing this on January 3rd so by the time this posts, I will likely have already seen the movie.).
 
“The Fisherman” was a super-interesting creative take on the life and discipleship of Peter. I found my eyes welling up on several occasions as Huntsperger fleshed out what it may have been like to live life next to Jesus in light of the living and walking Gospel.
 
So those were the books I read this past year. I’m sure many of them will appear again on next year’s list. I do love reading new books, but I don’t have much time and I have a few books that I love most.

Monday, January 27, 2014

day no. 12,880: the inevitable result of being alive‏

Clear the Chamber and keep firing away. Here’s what Ozzie shot my way today.

Faith by its very nature must be tried, and the real trial of faith is not that we find it difficult to trust God,but that God’s character has to be cleared in our own minds. Faith in its actual working out has to go through spells of unsyllabled isolation. Never confound the trial of faith with the ordinary discipline of life,much that we call the trial of faith is the inevitable result of being alive. Faith in the Bible is faith in God against everything that contradicts HimI will remain true to God’s character whatever He may do. “Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him” – this is the most sublime utterance of faith in the whole of the Bible.

Many people endure life’s little loops and navigate the day’s difficulties without faith in God. 

We often say that we don’t know how we would get through the day without God, but most of our days (and the good majority of any individual day in particular) is spent getting through the motions of life largely without any thought given to God.

We are practical atheists. We say we believe in God, but we act and orient our lives in a way that largely ignores Him in any significant capacity or import.

We do this and when something that shakes up our usual common-sensical approach to dealing with life comes along, we panic and wonder if God still loves us or if He’s really good. It is embarrassing and deeply discouraging that I am so quick to question God’s character in a moment of difficulty considering how little I consider His goodness and grace all the time when things were going well.

Are you faithful and loyal to God’s character as He reports it?
Have you read what He says about Himself?

Do you believe Him?

Do you trust He is Who He says He is?

Friday, January 24, 2014

day no. 12,877: the point of preaching‏

James 3:1-2
 
Not many should become teachers, my brothers, knowing that we will receive a stricter judgment,2 for we all stumble in many ways. If anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a mature man who is also able to control his whole body.
 
I am eager to grow with regard to leveraging my gifts to help others grow through preaching His Word.
 
Jeremiah was a good preacher and no one changed.
Jesus was a perfect preacher and some were changed.
Jonah was a horrible preacher and everyone changed (except him).
 
It is essential that we continue to guard the message and equip the messengers to proclaim the Good News of God’s revealed righteousness in His Gospel.
 
The nuances of style, organization of material, tone, pace , time, etc… are worthwhile areas of dissection and discussion. We can only control what we can control. We should do our very best to honor God as well as we can by our words (and especially those spoken before others in a context where we are elevated to a position of teacher/preacher/prophet/priest etc…)
 
There is great comfort in being surrounded by a plurality of elders and leaders as one attempts to use all the talents God has given them.
 
A friend of mine asked an amazingly potent and practical question regarding our morning debriefs of the previous week’s teaching when he said, “What is a successful sermon?”
 
This is worth thinking about on a weekly basis.
 
What’s a “win” from the pulpit?
 
How do we know we “won” from the perspective of the teaching team?
 
These are the types of things I thought about this morning in reflecting back upon my time this morning with the teachers and leaders from the Salt Co.
 
I delight to dwell on these types of things.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

day no. 12,876: a dangerous proposition‏

My wife showed me THIS video the other day.

Loving your neighbor as yourself is sometimes as easy as putting yourself out there in order to get to know somebody new.

We have been given such Good News to share!

We, above all other people, should be motivated to be friendly and interested in getting to know new people for the sake of introducing them to that which we value so highly as to risk discomfort in engaging strangers in order to communicate.

That is assuming you first value God so highly as to want to exalt most what He exalts most: the Gospel, AND that the whole purpose and motivation behind wanting to be influential and friends with more people is for the sake of using said leverage to direct attention to Jesus.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

day no. 12,875: there was something wrong with the first covenant. i'll give you a hint: it begins with "u"

In reading Hebrews 8 in our Bible read through, my friend Tim absolutely nailed it when he said, “We were what was wrong,” in response to reading:
 
Hebrews 8:7

For if there had been nothing wrong with that first covenant, no place would have been sought for another.
 
We could not keep the covenant of Mt. Sinai. Although we said, “All of this we will do,” we didn’t.
 
We probably meant well.
 
We may have even believed that we would accomplish it.
 
In those moments of ecstatic devotion you believe you could obey anything.
 
The problem with the first covenant was that we continually broke it.
 
It said, “Do this and don’t do that and be blessed. If you fail on either account you will be cursed.”
 
My friend Tim then went on to say, “the New Covenant has been tailor made for broken people,” in response to reading:

Hebrews 8:9

It will not be like the covenant I made with their forefathers when I took them by the hand to lead them out of Egypt, because they did not remain faithful to my covenant, and I turned away from them, declares the Lord.
 
God made the New Covenant based on what HE COMPLETED in Christ.
 
The problem with the first covenant is removed.
 
We were screwing up the equation.
 
So God sent His Son to live perfectly and pay it all (perfectly).
 
The strength of the New Covenant is that it is only as weak as Jesus is weak.
 
And He isn’t weak at all.
He is mighty to save.
 
This New Covenant is tailor made for people who are not very good at keeping their end of covenants.
 
Sounds like a match made in heaven, eh?

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

day no. 12,874: no other reason at all... none.

Hebrews 2:11

Both the one who makes men holy and those who are made holy are of the same family. So Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers.

My friend Tim nailed it again when he wrote the following in response to the verse above:

"Christ can call me ‘brother’ because I am holy through Him. No other reason at all... none."

I love listening to people testify rightly with regard to who they are and who God is and how much greater and good and worthy of praise He becomes in their minds and hearts in dwelling upon these things.

Monday, January 20, 2014

day no, 12,873 continued... what do i say?

My name is Todd Van Voorst.

Todd means "fox."

Van Voorst means "from the forest."

Do you see where this is going?

I think someone owes me royalties.



What does the fox say?

Subscribe and you can see five days a week, M-F, what this Fox from the Forest says.

day no. 12,873: sweet chin music

This is me unleashing the beast that is my beard on the unsuspecting public.


See?  Fear the Beard!  Yes, that's Beard with a CAPS B. It will put a CAP in your sass.


And just like that, it as over. No more fear.  No more Beard.

 
No beast to unleash. Just me.
 
See you next year Mr. Beard.

Friday, January 17, 2014

day no. 12,870: it is easier to educate a doer than it is to activate a thinker‏

“It is easier to educate a doer than it is to activate a thinker.” - Andy Stanley

I heard this when listening to “The Power of Team - Part 2” at the suggestion of my friend Joel, one of the pastors at Candeo.

In my experience, this has been unsettlingly true.

My timidity was bred by thinking and overthinking.

I wanted to have something so thought through as to avoid error or inefficiency.

But that kind of thinking rarely gets much of anything done.

I was the difficult person many tried to activate for years.

I’m not entirely a doer per se at this point, but I am doing far more.

I’m still a thinker.

I just now think doing what I think about it is more worthwhile than merely thinking about doing stuff.

James 1:22

But be doers of the word and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

day no. 12,869: shooting do-do with be-be's‏

It wouldn’t be the AM unless I checked in with one of my favorite dead friends:
 
Sin is a fundamental relationship; it is not wrong doing, it is wrong being, deliberate and emphatic independence of God. The Christian religion bases everything on the positive, radical nature of sin. Other religions deal with sins; the Bible alone deals with sin.
 
I be wrong.
You be wrong.
 
Every religion attempts to address the wrongs we do.
 
Christianity alone addresses the wrong we be.
 
Sin is not simply the tally of bad don’ts you’ve done and good do’s you’ve left undone.
 
Sin is the desire to live by your own standards of what should be done and avoided respectively.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

day no. 12,868: i am my own god (and not a very good one at that)

Oswald doesn't take the weekends off.
 
The disposition of sin is not immorality and wrong-doing, but the disposition of self-realization – I am my own god. This disposition may work out in decorous morality or in indecorous immorality, but it has the one basis, my claim to my right to myself. When Our Lord faced men with all the forces of evil in them, and men who were clean living and moral and up right, He did not pay any attention to the moral degradation of the one or to the moral attainment of the other; He looked at something we do not see, viz., the disposition.
 
Whether highly decorated moral achievement or highly undecorated immoral disaster, we sin in our disposition toward God and our need to receive His revealed righteousness in Jesus Christ.
 
The essence of sin is, "I know what's best for me."
 
Not only this, but expecting God to reward or overlook the things you reward or overlook in yourself.
 
The ultimate middle finger we give to God is not only that we choose and prefer our ways to His ways, but that we fully anticipate Him to agree with us at the end of the day.
 
We expect Him to curb His preferences in order to cater to ours.
 
We flip Him offf and tell Him that He can't be mad at us because He should be above that.
 
We do all of this because we believe we make better gods than He does.
 
We don't.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

day no. 12,867: and yet another sine qua non‏

Psalm 90:12
 
Teach us to number our days carefully
so that we may develop wisdom in our hearts
 
We do not, by nature, number our days carefully.
We likely don’t count them at all and those that do don’t do it carefully.
 
We need to be taught by God the discipline of numbering carefully our days.
 
Why?
 
“so that we may develop wisdom in our hearts.”
 
Our hearts do not, by nature, contain wisdom.
 
Wisdom itself is not a static thing.
It can be matured, grown, fertilized, expanded, etc…
 
We develop wisdom in our hearts by numbering carefully our days.
 
We daily must return to this careful numbering and assessment in order to develop, grow, mature the wisdom we have been granted when we first began to reflect upon our days.
 
As the days of our lives grow in number, so do the days upon which we reflect and number as source material upon which to look back on God’s working in our lives.
 
As the days of our lives grow in number, the days of life remaining begin to dwindle one at a relentless time. The number of days left to reflect upon God is decreasing daily.
 
Lord, teach us so that we may develop wisdom in our hearts.
We all know that we are going to die. We know it.
 
But our hearts don’t often follow that head logic.
 
In order to develop wisdom in our hearts, we need to be taught to number our days carefully.

Monday, January 13, 2014

day no. 12,866: we want to be where we never live for His glory‏

Ozzie punched me in the face this morning. I felt it only fair to punch you. Pass it on.
 
We see His glory on the mount,but we never live for His glory there. It is in the sphere of humiliation that we find our true worth to God; that is where our faithfulness is revealed.Most of us can do things if we are always at the heroic pitch because of the natural selfishness of our hearts, but God wants us at the drab commonplace pitch, where we live in the valley according to our personal relationship to Him. Peter thought it would be a fine thing for them to remain on the mount, but Jesus Christ took the disciples down from the mount into the valley, the place where the meaning of the vision is explained.
 
We often make a fetish of chasing moments of exhilaration where we feel like we would do anything for God. The rub is that we want the moments where we feel like we would do anything to come back, but never get around to doing much of anything for Him when the feeling wears off. That is to be expected in some regard. I get it. Adrenaline and emotion can spur on some great achievements. But I think Oswald’s point this morning isn’t just that the feeling wears off and we end up doing basically what we did prior to the reboot – that understandably in some respects – it’s that we never actually do much of anything in the moment either. When we look back on it, it is largely characterized by us taking in and digesting and feeling warm and fuzzy and motivated. We like that we feel that way. But careful reflection will often reveal that those moments had no more good works being done in them than the months of power-down that followed.
 
So while we feel unashamed about wanting to be back in the place where we felt like we would do anything, we ultimately have elevated our sense of wanting to a place seated higher than that of Jesus. We want to feel like we want to do things for Jesus. So we chase that. But nothing gets done in the meantime and if we’re honest, not much gets done if we are to be revisited by the mountaintop moments. We just feel better about the time in the valley in between although both flesh themselves out in mostly identical fashion.

Friday, January 10, 2014

day no 12,863: to the rescue‏

I often explain to Atticus that God has made men strong so that we can use our strength to serve, protect and provide for others. This conversation usually takes place because Atticus has used his strength to bully one of his siblings into getting what he wants. As the oldest and strongest, he can physically accomplish most of his desires regarding property rights and his siblings. I say this all by way of preface to set the stage for the story I’m about to relay.
 
So the other evening, Atticus and Penelope were wanting to play bunk beds. Sounds innocent enough since they have actual bunk beds, right? Well, their version involves me pretending to be a bunk bed as seen HERE. Penelope was on the bottom bunk and Atticus was off and on from the top bunk. After a while my arms got a little tired and I got a little bored ,so I pretended to collapse upon Penelope. I did not actually collapse, but I did kind of squash Penelope a little in a playful way. She played along and said, “Stop squishing me! Be a bunk bed!” Then I felt a tiny hammer on my hands. Then I felt it again and again. I looked up and observed Atticus punching my hand with his tiny fists.
 
I returned to regular bunk bed mode and jokingly said, “Atticus, why did you punch me? That hurt.”
 
He replied, “I’m sorry Daddy, I love you.”
 
I naturally responded, “If you love me, why were you hitting me?”
 
He answered, “I love Sissy (Penelope) too and I didn’t want you to hurt her anymore.”
 
What could I do?
 
I extended the proverbial high-five and told him I was proud of him.
 
“Good job!” ended the altercation.
 
I love being a dad.
 
Yeah, was there a teachable moment in there about not hitting your dad? Probably.
 
But I was proud to see him rising to defend his sister.
 
He used his strength to protect someone weaker, but attacking someone who was stronger.
 
He displayed selflessness and courage.
 
And to that I tip my hat.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

day no 12,862: what will you do now that He has done it all?

In preparing for a sermon on Philippians 3:12, I googled up from the miry depths of the interwebs the following gem:

“It is not imitation that makes sons; it is sonship that makes imitators.”~ Martin Luther
 
The real question then is this:
 
What are you going to do now that you don’t have to do anything?
 
What will your life look like lived under the banner which reads “It is finished"?
 
What you’ll discover is that once the gospel frees you from having to do anything for Jesus, you’ll want to do everything for Jesus so that “whether you eat or drink or whatever you do” you’ll do it all to the glory of God.
 
You can read the full article HERE.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

day no. 12,861: obedience is better than sacrifice‏

Oswald reminded me this morning that nothing is too small to consider sacrificing for God.
 
Never discard a conviction. If it is important enough for the Spirit of God to have brought it to your mind, it is that thing He is detecting. You were looking for a great thing to give up. God is telling you of some tiny thing; but at the back of it there lies the central citadel of obstinacy: I will not give up my right to myself – the thing God intends you to give up if ever you are going to be a disciple of Jesus Christ.
 
It is not just the big sacrifices that count; it is the ones that God asks you to sacrifice. There are things we want to give up. Our hearts are stirred and we desire to do something big and then God calls us to something small: small and humbling. It reminds me of Naaman.

2 Kings 5:9-14

9 So Naaman came with his horses and chariots and stood at the door of Elisha’s house.
10 Then Elisha sent him a messenger, who said, “Go wash seven times in the Jordan and your flesh will be restored and you will be clean.”

11 But Naaman got angry and left, saying, “I was telling myself: He will surely come out, stand and call on the name of Yahweh his God, and will wave his hand over the spot and cure the skin disease. 12 Aren’t Abana and Pharpar, the rivers of Damascus, better than all the waters of Israel? Could I not wash in them and be clean?” So he turned and left in a rage.

13 But his servants approached and said to him,“My father, if the prophet had told you to do some great thing, would you not have done it? How much more should you do it when he tells you, ‘Wash and be clean’?”14 So Naaman went down and dipped himself in the Jordan seven times, according to the command of the man of God. Then his skin was restored and became like the skin of a small boy, and he was clean.
 
We have in our hearts big dreams and lavish displays of devotion that we imagine ourselves doing when all the while there is something we count as small and unimportant about which the Spirit is pressing us constantly. We are in no position to count the significance of the sacrifices we make. God asks you to give what He commands which may cost you the most cherished possession you cling on to with ferocity: your right to choose the scene of your own martyrdom.
 
We must die where He tells us to die.
 
Obedience is better than sacrifice.
 
1 Samuel 15:22

Then Samuel said:

Does the Lord take pleasure in burnt offerings and sacrifices
as much as in obeying the Lord?
Look: to obey is better than sacrifice,
to pay attention is better than the fat of rams.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

day no. 12,860: temptation yielded to is lust deified‏

Just another morning with my pal Oswald.
 
Temptation is a suggested short cut to the realization of the highest at which I aim – not towards what I understand as evil, but towards what I understand as good. Temptation is something that completely baffles me for a while, I do not know whether the thing is right or wrong. Temptation yielded to is lust deified, and is a proof that it was timidity that prevented the sin before.

We are not tempted to do what we think is bad.
We are tempted to do what we think is best for us.

We are tempted to side with Satan and choose fruit from forbidden trees because we distrust the counsel of the Sovereign.

We want what is best for us.

Without any command necessary, we seek our best.

When we sin, we are seeking what we think is best.

That is the heaviest tragedy of sin: we think short cuts are better than sanctification.

Another tragedy of sin is that we often sidestep sin, not because we agree with God, but because we are worried what God would do to us if we did what we really wanted to do.

We are too timid to act upon our deepest desires (or at least some of them).

So some our victories are to a certain degree owed not to our character, but to our cowardice.

James 1:13-15

13 No one undergoing a trial should say, “I am being tempted by God.” For God is not tempted by evil, and He Himself doesn’t tempt anyone.14 But each person is tempted when he is drawn away and enticed by his own evil desires.15 Then after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin, and when sin is fully grown, it gives birth to death.

Monday, January 6, 2014

day no. 12,859: the grace of God and a license to sin

I got my license to drive when I was in elementary school. I grabbed the keys to the kingdom (or so I thought) without committing to the King. Christianity was as much of my identity as being Dutch and where I’m from “If you ain’t Dutch, you ain’t much,” as the saying goes. The same can be said for being a Christian. The question growing up was not IF I was a Christian, but rather what flavor of Christian was I?  The debates that took place between me and my peers were not what kind of faith saves, but rather which province in the kingdom was best.
 
Because I never questioned if I was a Christian, I didn’t feel particularly compelled to live like one. It never cost me anything and Jesus, from what I had been told, had paid it all. Sounded good to me. I got to have my cake and eat it too. So I flirted with sin, danced with the Devil, let my stomach make some decisions and all in the confidence that I was OK because I knew that Jesus died several years back in a country I’d never been to.
 
Then I moved to Ames. I was in a band and the lead singer was going to be attending ISU in the fall. The singer and drummer in my band ended up working together at a pawn shop to earn pizza money and get discounts on gear for the band. It was there I met a co-worker of theirs who attended Cornerstone Church. He told me I could wear shorts if I wanted to and I decided to check it out. I had metal all over my face and a beard that hung to my chest, but I had been told that wouldn’t be a problem. I went to church by myself. It had been years since I had stepped foot into a place where the Bible was opened and yet, there I was…. in church.
 
It was over the course of the next few years that I heard the Gospel preached from the Bible. I learned that I wasn’t a Christian merely because I found myself sitting in church that morning. They were right. I wasn’t. But I didn’t know that until they told me.
 
So now I was faced with the dilemma of wondering what would happen to me if I died and it kept me awake at night. I had a bad feeling the bad things I had done and the good things I wasn’t doing were going to be more than I could manage to explain before God. I was nervous. I didn’t want to die, because I didn’t want to hear the verdict.
 
This pushed me to take Jesus seriously for the first time in my life and the fact that He died made sense to me. I understood why He had to if anyone was going to have a good night’s sleep ever again. It was only through Him and He was gracious enough to offer Himself to make it available.
 
I placed faith in Christ, but I also brought with me an idea that I now needed to work hard to make up for lost time. I had not been a good Christian before. I had not even been “a” Christian. So now I was going to get after it and be good. I’d give God the reassurance that He made a good choice in revealing Himself to me. I wouldn’t let Him down.
 
But I did. I let myself down too. And I didn’t know what to do. Mind you, this took place after months of doing quite well. That initial kick of adrenaline and excitement carried me to new heights like the first week home from Church camp. I was moved and I moved in response. But my stomach still spoke and the old man rose up to provide alternate counsel. I sinned. Again. How could I sin if I was now saved? I knew why I had sinned before. It was because I wasn’t really a Christian. But a worse situation had come upon me now. I had no excuse. I could make sense of the former walks in darkness, but I knew better now and those alibies didn’t stick.
 
Embarrassingly enough, it was not until years into my Christian faith that I realized that Jesus lived a perfect life for me. I knew He had paid for my sins, but I was left with the dilemma of being the kind of person who sinned and still, on occasion, stored up new wrath for myself to deal with. I figured Jesus paid the back debt, but expected me to keep from accruing new lines of credit. I had no categories previously for what was happening. How could I be a Christian and think and do some of things I thought and did. The only solution was EITHER to stop thinking and doing those things without exception OR admit that I probably wasn’t a Christian and simply fell short of His high calling. I did not know what the name for a person who loved Jesus, but couldn’t live up to His standards was called. My WWJD bracelet convicted me regularly. Yeah, I bought a few t-shirts and learned some new songs, but if I still sinned, how could I call myself a follower of Jesus?
 
I needed my debt paid. I knew that. But I needed my merit earned for me too. I needed a mediator for both occasions. I didn’t know that before. Or if I did, I ignored it and strived to earn the latter on my own.
 
I am now set free. Free to believe in Christ and make much of Him. He not only took upon Himself my sin, but He offers me His perfect righteousness. How free am I from sin? As free as one who has been bought by the most precious substance in creation: the blood of Jesus. How holy am I before God? As blameless and spotless as the Lamb who gave His white garments to me.
 
I always assumed the grief of falling short was the only fuel powerful enough to produce change in my heart. I needed to feel burdened in order to feel enlightened. But I have found that the Gospel produces in freedom what guilt could never manufacture in slavery. Being free from all sin and condemnation has not produced a desire to abuse the license the way the slavery of self did. When you have nothing and no one to rely upon to get you where you want to go other than yourself, you will despair at some point. And when not despairing, you will be arrogant and unappreciative of Christ’s work on your behalf. Jesus died for everything: your sin and your life. Do not receive Him as a sacrifice for your sin only and assume you can work the rest out without Him. You can’t and you won’t. His life, His death and His resurrection are our ONLY hope.
 
1 John 1:9

If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

2 Corinthians 5:21

He made the One who did not know sin to be sin for us, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him