Tuesday, March 26, 2013

For Emmy and Boone

Dear Emmy and Boone,

You are both asleep in your rooms right now. I just left the grocery store empty handed after realizing we had no money to buy the groceries piled in our cart at Costco. On the way home I screamed at you both for some minor disobedience. Now I sit here battling the urge to feel sorry for myself and let discouragement ruin this gift of a day. You will have these days. You will wonder why God ever chose such a wretch to be His. You'll wonder if the power of the Holy Spirit actually dwells in your heart. I hope. I hope you will wrestle with these things because this will be a picture of how you desire to be like Christ and still have to put up with the enemy before Christ comes back.

My blog began as a sort of love letter to you both. I want to continue to share my journey with you so that when the time comes and I am no longer by your side, you will have a bit of my journey on hand. Why? So you can be encouraged as you cling tightly to Jesus. I pray you would come to know Him as I have. I pray you would agree that Jesus is Lord and nothing else in this world will ever satisfy your soul the way He CAN. I love you both.

I just read this blog post from our friends who are living in Africa right now. It encouraged my heart.
Exerpt from Jeremy and Christina Gabrysch's blog:
"How are you doing spiritually?” Have you ever been asked this question? I have. In fact, I probably have asked other Christians this question. But as I study the Gospel more and more, I see that it’s just not about how or what I am doing. It’s about what Christ has done. The problem with this question is that it forces me to come up with some laundry list of spiritual disciplines or ministry activities to justify myself. And the Gospel reality is that we are utterly unable to justify ourselves. Only Christ through his active obedience and death on the Cross can do that.

Tullian Tchividjian puts it this way: “To focus on how I am doing, more than on what Christ has done, is Christian narcissism (an oxymoron if ever I heard one) – the poison of self-absorption which undermines the power of the gospel in our lives. Martin Luther noted that "the sin underneath all our sins is the lie of the serpent that we cannot trust the love and grace of Christ and that we must take matters into our own hands.””

Now, I know that the well-meaning question I opened with isn’t aimed to undermine the gospel. I believe it is asked to provide some accountability or perhaps to be compassionate if things “aren’t going well.” And perhaps to celebrate if things are going well. But that’s my point. What are we celebrating? That I am racking up the spiritual disciplines and/or ministry activities? Or in the other case, what are we bemoaning? That I am failing to achieve that which Christ has already achieved for me? (By the way, this brings up accountability groups. Don’t get me started on those…)

The Gospel takes us outside of ourselves. It’s not about us. It’s not about a moral improvement program that cleans up the outside. It’s about what Thomas Chalmers called “the expulsive power of a superior affection.” We must focus on all that Christ has already done, and the riches and the right standing that we possess in Him!

The next time someone asks me this question, I will answer like this: “You know what? I’m actually doing pretty bad spiritually. I daily have to die to sin and remove myself from the throne of my own life. I daily have to fall on the good grace of God in Christ just to make it through the day. Thank God for the Gospel! It’s the only hope I have.”

Or maybe I’ll just say I’m doing fine, thanks.

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