Category Archives: Repentance and Salvation

pic from steph

The Woman on the Internet

My heart has been grieved by recent events involving the Ashley Madison account, and especially when I hear of fellow Christian families whose lives have been impacted by this. I am burdened as a fellow sinner in this fallen, tainted world. Who isn’t impacted in some shape or form by the seduction of this present world, and the ever readily available and in-your-face pornographic content flooding it? Who is there without need of grieving? Of fearing? Of praying and battling? This is an issue the church and individual families need to face with the seriousness of Proverbs 5-7. Father’s need to be warning and instructing their sons. Go down this path- and die, says Solomon to his son. What comes to those who follow the adulteress is this: The hunting down and destruction of precious life, burning, scorching, punishment, violence, wounds, dishonor, and disgrace.

“All at once he follows her, as an ox goes to the slaughter, or as a stag is caught fast till an arrow pierces its liver; as a bird rushes into a snare; he does not know that it will cost him his life (Proverbs 7:23).”

Blind lust makes dumb, and it makes men forget. Would you forsake your wife? Would you forsake the “water from your own cistern, flowing water from your own well (Proverbs 5:15)”? Would you harden your heart to the Lord and pretend He does not see? So many do, and they do it not only to their own hurt, but to the hurt of their God and their families. It doesn’t get more serious than that.

There is much that needs to be said on this topic, but I wrote this poem only to address men, and to point to the hope found in Christ. I hope it might be used in somebody’s life to the glory of God.

The Woman on the Internet

The woman on the internet
Doesn’t make you wise,
The woman on the internet
Doesn’t give you life,
The woman on the internet
Leads you into lies,
The woman on the internet
She is not your wife.

The woman on the internet
Calls you with allure
The woman on the internet
Says you’ll dwell secure
The woman on the internet
Hunts down life that’s dear
The woman on the internet
Perverts what is pure.

Now to the men who look at her-
Do not cast your blame,
Now to the men who look at her
You did seek your shame.
Now to the men who look at her
Quick pleasure your aim,
Now to the men who look at her
Like fire is a game.

That woman – does she know your touch?
That woman – does she love you much?
That woman – do her arms surround?
That woman – does her kiss resound?

Your secrets have a thin veneer
Your secrets God has seen quite clear
Your secrets to the surface near
Your secrets which enslave with fear.

The woman on the internet
Seemed to you so free,
The woman on the internet
Came so easily,
The woman on the internet
Had you as if drunk,
The woman on the internet
Where many men have sunk.

The Lord would from such trouble save,
The Lord would lift you from this grave,
The Lord would tell you to repent,
The Lord would straighten what’s been bent.

hem

Hem Me In

He had hemmed me in
Behind and before,
Drew the lines that fall
But I thought to soar
Past sunsets that looked
Like bars might prove more.

Pastures green, like plain
Bread, stale and dry
Rolled on for days; Streams
Meandered nearby-
My eyes gazed elsewhere,
I refused to lie.

“Pleasant places, these,”
Said a lamb. I nod,
Pretend, but o’er the
Valley there’s a broad
Place with less restraints-
To please! But not God…

Oh, but there to taste
To spread like wild vine!
Should such a pleasure
Be deprived of mine?
Can sweet fruit not grow
Among fainter lines? Continue reading

broken glass

When Your Profession Has No Power

Shortly after I had asked “Jesus to fill the God shaped hole in my heart” at fifteen years old, I went to a Christian bookstore for the first time. I came out with a Teen Study Bible and a poster for my bedroom. Finding a poster that I wouldn’t be embarrassed of was hard work; A lot of flipping past rainbows, butterflies, and kittens was involved. I found one poster that appealed to me, black with scrawled writing on it, and a scratchy, blood streaked cross. This is what it said:

“If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.” -Matthew 16:24-25

I cannot tell you how many times that poster glared at me. Or maybe I was glaring at it. It sounded hardcore, intense, life changing. It didn’t reflect the soft peddled message of Christianity I had heard, neither did it reflect my experience. That poster stared me down, hanging above my own reflection in the bedroom mirror, and kept on telling me to do something that I had no power to do.

Deny myself. Lose my life in order to save it- In order to find it. The commandments of God weighed heavy on my soul and there was no ability in my flesh to carry them out in a way that would please God. I was supposed to go out my bedroom door and die to self. Live for God. Obey commands that were only burdensome, and only death to me.

Romans 7:10-11 “The very commandment that promised life proved to be death to me. For sin, seizing and opportunity through the commandment, deceived me and through it killed me.”

That is the condition of a spiritually dead person hearing the commandments of God, feeling the weight of His law, and recognizing that at the very core of your being you cannot fulfill them. I couldn’t make that sin-loving person in me die in order that I might live. I could not, in the weakness and corruption of my flesh, deny myself and follow after Jesus Christ. For that dear friends, I needed to be truly born again, not of the flesh, but of the Spirit (John 3:6-8).

2 Timothy 3:2-5 talks about people who inwardly hate righteousness while loving self, money, and pleasure, all the while “having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power.” They might look alright on the outside, at least to a distant spectator. But there is no effectual power in their lives. No power to obey God, live righteously, or overcome sin. In their hearts, there is no desire even to do so.

If you are somebody like I was, then I have good news for you. “The letter (that is the written law) kills, but the Spirit gives life (2Corinthians 3:6).” If the law has produced death in you and you have seen that you have no ability to fulfill it (and fulfill it you must, James 2:10), then the law has done its work in you. Perhaps, you have been living as a false convert like I was. Maybe you’ve attended church since childhood but have never received forgiveness for sins, a new heart and Spirit, and in Christ the promise of eternal life. Or maybe you don’t care about God and you don’t even pretend to. I don’t know.

If you don’t have a saving relationship with Jesus Christ, then at this point I’ll refer you to a series I did a few years back called “An Appeal to the Modern Mind,” which discusses salvation at length. Or, if you only have a bit of time part 4 of that series: How Does Jesus Make Entrance Into His Kingdom Possible?

If you are a believer, chances are part of you still resonates with some of the struggle I described. Though we are no longer slaves of sin (Romans 6:6), our new reality still includes a daily war with our remaining sinful man, or flesh. As Galatians 5:17 explains “The desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do.”

I want to write some more about that war and how to wage it, so check back in soon. God bless.

light

Before the Throne of God Above: A Hymn For the Sin-Grieved Soul

Sometimes Christians lose sight of the gospel. I’ve been there. You give yourself over to ruthless self examination and slip into works righteousness thinking that loses sight of hope. You’ve seen that your heart is fickle. One second you worship God and the next you curse men who are made in God’s image (James 3:9). You read Proverbs about fools, and nagging wives, those who are quick to anger, stinginess, pride, and laziness, and you see more of yourself painted than you would like to see. Perhaps you read Matthew 5 and 6 and you’re struck by your own harsh words, love of money, lustful thoughts, or nagging anxieties.

If you lose sight of the cross, then you lose sight of God’s love for you. You think only of His holiness and wrath and start believing He does not want to hear from you. Do you need to grovel? Do you need to be punished? Do you need to just “get right” before you can approach God again? How can He be appeased?

Examining yourself, sorrow over sin, focus on holiness, and a desire to change are all very good things. But to think about these things without remembrance of the gospel, God’s power and promises towards you, your thoughts will not only become burdensome, they will become faithless. The soul in that place, dear friends, whether saved or not, is in desperate need of the gospel of grace. Continue reading

sing

Just As I Am: Singing to God

It would be hard for me to fully express the role that worship songs- especially hymns, have had in my life. God used the lyrics to “Amazing Grace” to reach me when I was a teenager, finally and reluctantly confessing I was a sinner on my bed at night. Words I never knew existed in my memory bank came rushing back to me from childhood and all at once the word “wretch” struck my heart with tremendous force. I was a wretch, it was true. But the song said God had an interest in saving wretches like me. I didn’t know how yet, or why He could save a wretch like me, but I’m grateful He shone a light in my heart and kept on drawing me.

I had started attending church around that time, and having not grown up in one, witnessing people worship was fascinating to me. It just seemed amazing that people could really sing to God, and the looks on their faces were like they actually knew Him. I still have a poem I wrote as a teenager reflecting on what I experienced during this time they called “worship”:

I stand, swaying just enough
To blend in with the world
As they are wrapped up in their ecstasy.
Shouts of joy bounce off the walls
And I try to reach out;
To catch it without making a statement
Of my obvious attempts.

There are those who wear their love so
Glorious across their faces,
And I would expect them to be proud
Yet they are the meekest.

Often I hear words of great inspiration,
And the thirst deep inside of me pleads
To be filled.

(I smirk every so often, so that the
Stranger next to me won’t know the ways
Of which I have been intrigued)

I walked to the back of the room
Into a corner where no one would see,
And tried to speak a word to God
(To the air?)
My heart raced…
“It’s because you fear God!”
Or is it only for the people who have glanced back?

It’s kind of funny to have this poem as a little reminder of the foreignness and intrigue a “worship service” held for me then. I remember having a sense of the seriousness of singing songs to God. One Sunday morning I was singing a song, something about giving Jesus all of my life. But it wasn’t true. He didn’t have my life, and I knew it full well. I also knew the guy leading worship- a highschool friend, and that Jesus didn’t have his life either. I just remember shutting my mouth mid-song. How could I sing to God words that weren’t true? Words that I didn’t mean? The weight of it felt heavy enough to crush me so I fled, but on the way I asked the worship leader’s mom to send him outside when the singing was over. Continue reading

Hdr-The-Gospel-of-Grace

The Gospel of Grace: A Refresher Crash Course

Do you find yourself constantly coming back to the foundational truths of Christianity found at the cross, or are you trying to walk out your Christian life in your own strength? Are you motivated to obey God today, or do His commandments feel like a heavy burden? Do you feel that Jesus Christ has made you free indeed or do you live under a weight of guilt and uncertainty about your salvation? Did you know that the gospel is not only the entry way for unbelievers but the entire residence of Christian living? Consider the following, which I hope might prove encouraging and helpful.

Galatians 3:1-3 “O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? It was before your eyes that Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified. Let me ask you only this: Did you receive the Spirit by works of the law or by hearing with faith? Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh?”

How did you get saved? Was it by law-keeping or by hearing the gospel and receiving grace through faith? I think you know the answer. If you are saved you know the power of the risen Savior Jesus Christ. Salvation has come in a person who is “Christ Jesus, whom God made our wisdom and our righteousness and sanctification and redemption. Therefore, as it is written, ‘Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord (1Corinthians 1:30-31).” He is all these things for us, and He will produce fruit in us through the power of the Holy Spirit.
In regards to our salvation the law contributed nothing but only bound everything up under sin (Galatians 3:22) and shut every mouth in regards to making an appeal of innocence before God (Romans 3:20). “For by works of the law no human being will be justified in His sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin (Romans 3:21).”

So the question comes- if we were saved apart from the law (read the rest of Galatians 3, or Romans 3:28), and if Jesus Christ is our salvation and our sanctification, then what becomes of the law?
Now, as believers, “Do we then overthrow the law by this faith? By no means! On the contrary we uphold the law (Romans 3:31).” We recognize that “the law is good if one uses it lawfully”- which is to use it for its intended purpose of convicting unbelievers of sin and pointing them to Christ (see 1Timothy 1:8-11). There is no problem with the law, but it presents a problem for law-breakers. God’s righteous standards still stand, and in fact, Jesus Christ explained the heart of the commandments in such a way that he exposed sin hidden within men’s hearts (see Matthew 5:17-48). Jesus upheld the law, kept the law, and bore the punishment for our law-breaking, so that “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us (Galatians 3:13).” Now, we see the law, but we turn away from looking to law-keeping to gain righteousness, and we look to Jesus Christ who redeems us and sets us free to live by grace. That is faith. Continue reading

Hdr-Preach-Penal-Substitution

Preach Penal Substitution

I didn’t grow up in a Christian family or in church and I still managed to ask Jesus in my heart three times by the age of 15. As a kid, it was kind of like fire insurance, something to tag on in case Hell was real. As a teenager, it was because I was invited to church and the preacher told me I had a God shaped hole in my heart only He could fill, and that resonated with me. Tears running down my face I raised my hand to accept Jesus. Christian kids from school smiled and got teary and gave me hugs. I went home with a One Minute Daily Devotional and felt pretty certain that now I was headed for Heaven.

Soon after, I went to the local Christian book store. I found a Teen Study Bible and bought the only poster available that didn’t look like it was for pansies. It was black with scrawled writing and a bloody cross, and I thought it looked pretty hardcore. Not only that but it had some pretty profound words- words that truly did speak to me and testify to my soul as being true: “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it (Matthew 16:24-25).” Continue reading

blog without god

Without God, Without Hope

I’m going to share three stories with you from my pre-conversion high school days.

I was at a local punk rock show, throwing my fists aimlessly and thrashing in a blur of spiked bracelets and colored mohawks. It was circulating that someone I didn’t know wanted to fight me because they heard I had a black belt in karate. I found that to be enormously entertaining, so at the break I wandered outside to find this person. When someone pointed me her direction I approached her asking “So I hear you want to fight me?” I didn’t know that she was drunk. Within seconds her and her two friends were on me, dragging me around the parking lot by my hair and kicking me. There was nothing I could do, and I was laughing.
Continue reading

Who Will Deliver Me?

Who Will Deliver Me?

Oh sin, that dwells within
That wages war and threatens
To destroy my joy,
That sin that seeks to win
The battle and mock at my defeat.

Oh sin, that enemy within
Crashing through my great resolve
Outpouring words, I’ve cringed and heard
Them, hasty and marking me a fool.

Continue reading

Women: Come to Christ

Let me first say, this is written out of my grief, love and hope for women. You may see it differently and say it is hateful, harsh, and judgemental. Let me say this: “Whoever brings back a sinner from his wandering will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins (James 5:20).”

I have often thought how I wished a Christian would have been honest with me when I was living in sin. How I might have been spared from sinning and heartache. Maybe I would have hated the person who warned me. Or, I may have repented sooner. I pray the later will be the case for you. Continue reading