Why Was I Made This Way? (For His Love)

As Jesus passed by, He saw a man who had been blind from birth. And His disciples asked Him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he would be born blind?” Jesus answered, “It was neither that this man sinned, nor his parents; but it was so that the works of God might be displayed in him.

I’ve been reading through the book of John once again, and this small text from chapter 9 always jumps out at me. Being born with cerebral palsy, the question always came out of my mouth” why did God make me this way. A step further, and we see that people that don’t even believe in God ask this question as well.

A soft answer to the question from various people is “God made you special” or “you’re this way for a reason”. The second answer, has more explanation to the question. In verse three, Jesus says that it was neither the man who sinned, or his parents. But the man was born blind that that works of glory of God might be displayed through him. Admittedly, in the early stages of my life, this kind of answer would be something that I’d blow off as BS.

However, when my very being understood how much God loved me, even in spite of having cerebral palsy. It was only then that the shame began to melt away from my life. I began to love all the scars on my body from surgeries, I began to love my right hand, which does not have full dexterity.

It truly breaks my heart to see others like myself, wrestle with the same self- hatred that I did for my life. And at times it still pops up in my mind, which is why it is of deep importance to fixate on the love of God daily. The scars that we hate, the hand that we wish were different, are the same scars and hands are the very same ones that God loves so deeply.

Getting to this point, is not an easy venture. It really never ends until we see Christ face to face in eternity. You will stumble, and wrestle with different thoughts and temptations daily. Some days the sun will shine brighter, and sometimes the darkness will seem as though it has sealed any light from coming in.

Once again, if we allow ourselves to go into strict training, in dwelling on Gods mad love for us. We then will understand that his love will hold us through in an all tribulation in life. If you have never thought about Gods love, and much he loves you. I encourage you to do so today, it doesn’t have to be some super religious experience. All you have to do is talk to him, be honest, tell him that you are tired of living as you have been, that you need his forgiveness and grace and make you new again from the inside out.

I promise you that he will do that tenfold for you, he will love you in ways you have never imagined.       

A soft answer to the question from various people is “God made you special” or “you’re this way for a reason”. The second answer, has more explanation to the question. In verse three, Jesus says that it was neither the man who sinned, or his parents. But the man was born blind that that works of glory of God might be displayed through him. Admittedly, in the early stages of my life, this kind of answer would be something that I’d blow off as BS.

However, when my very being understood how much God loved me, even in spite of having cerebral palsy. It was only then that the shame began to melt away from my life. I began to love all the scars on my body from surgeries, I began to love my right hand, which does not have full dexterity.

It truly breaks my heart to see others like myself, wrestle with the same self- hatred that I did for my life. And at times it still pops up in my mind, which is why it is of deep importance to fixate on the love of God daily. The scars that we hate, the hand that we wish were different, are the same scars and hands are the very same ones that God loves so deeply.

Getting to this point, is not an easy venture. It really never ends until we see Christ face to face in eternity. You will stumble, and wrestle with different thoughts and temptations daily. Some days the sun will shine brighter, and sometimes the darkness will seem as though it has sealed any light from coming in.

Once again, if we allow ourselves to go into strict training, in dwelling on Gods mad love for us. We then will understand that his love will hold us through in an all tribulation in life. If you have never thought about Gods love, and much he loves you. I encourage you to do so today, it doesn’t have to be some super religious experience. All you have to do is talk to him, be honest, tell him that you are tired of living as you have been, that you need his forgiveness and grace and make you new again from the inside out.

I promise you that he will do that tenfold for you, he will love you in ways you have never imagined.

      

Stop Saying Your Broken

Growing up in my faith, it was very common to hear fellow believers, exclaim that they were a broken person, after all it makes sense, within the the framing of the Christian faith. Is the idea the sin a broken and corrupted everything within the human existence.

A pastor I once listened said that Christians are image bearers of God, and are like a mirror image of Christ. But sin has broken the mirror inside us that reflects christ. Hence why Christ had to come and die, to repair what was broken in us.

Again, it all makes sense. At least to me, and if you’re a follower of Christ. But I don’t believe that it was it was the healthiest of narratives to believe after becoming a Christian via the power of the holy spirit. I believe that most of us that have the name of Christ on our hearts, have forgotten that we have the holy spirit inside us. (1 Corinthians 12:13- Eph 1:13-14)

God put the spirit inside of us. Shouldn’t that do something to the psyche of a Christian? Absolutely!

God also gave us spiritual armor and a sword to fight back with, Ehp 6. Again, that should tell you something.

Once again, I think there is nothing good that comes from a fellow Christian that simply believes that they are weak and broken person, waiting for Christ to come and put them back together. Negative. Absolutely not! Outside of Gods grace and love, yes we are weak and broken people left to our own stubborn and tired ways.

But when the holy spirit invades your whole being, you have the mind of Christ, you have been made a new creation and have been enlisted in the army of God. Because we have the spirit, because we have been made a new creation and because we have been enlisted in the army of God.

Guess what, God calls us to go set other hostages free, he calls us to go on the attack against sin. That doesn’t seem like a broken person to me. Some many of us walk around with our heads down and shoulders slouched, thinking and believing that we may never have victory in our lives. In no way shape or form is that how the father wants us to live our lives. If anything living like that is like living out a lie from the pit of hell.

Your past has been forgiven. Any sit that you will ever commit. Past, present or future has been forgiven. That is every reason to hold your head up, to stand up straight with your shoulders back. It is every reason to achieve a sense of mastery over the self, in the grace of God.

So, my fellow believer. Stop saying your broken, rip that narrative up. Yes you may struggle and stumble at times, but that isn’t who you are. Remember what God has done for you, remember who he has made you to be. Hold your head up and stand up straight.

The Key To Paradise

I believe that one of the “hard” things of the Christian faith, is that if we are not careful things can become lost in translation. We can read the same things over and over in our bibles, without having what we read move us or change us. I’m no different, I struggle to pray as I should, and though my bible reading is disciplined. It can seem very robotic, as though I only do things out of “religious duty”

We all know the story when Christ is on the cross, with two people on each side of him. If you don’t know of it, I encourage you to read Luke 23:26-44. Again, I have read this passage quite a bit over the span of my faith journey, and it sadly doesn’t move me sometimes or nothing jumps out at me. The story kept coming to memory, so I opened my bible with the thought in my mind

“Okay Lord, what are you saying to me?”

As I was reading, it came to my attention that there were two different types of hearts: On one hand, there is the heart of stone, the first criminal almost has a mocking tone of voice and posture of heart. “Your Jesus right? So why not get yourself off this piece of wood and save us!?” (My translation). If I’m not careful, this can be me too, I can have a horrible attitude about my life and faith as well. In which case, I have to bring myself in Gods presence, seek forgiveness for my hard heart and allow him to soften my heart over again.

I love the words of Ezekiel 36:26:

26 I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will remove your heart of stone[a] and give you a heart of flesh.

In my observation, this is what happens to the second man hanging beside Jesus, something happens inside of his own heart to invoke a different response. He says “Do you not fear God, since you are under the same condemnation ? And we indeed justly, for we are receiving due reward of our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong.” And he said “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom .” And he (Jesus) said to him “Truly, I say to you. today you will be with me in paradise.”

Again, I’ve read this before, this really isn’t anything new to me per say, but what I noticed, is that there is so much going on between the second man and Jesus. I don’t know much at all about this mans life, his past or anything. But I think it’s safe to assume, that he knew deep down he made a mess of his life, wasn’t proud of himself at all and knew that there wasn’t much at all that he could do to merit the grace of God.

I believe that that is the best place a person can be, because when we are to proud, full of pride then there really is no way we can see the grace of God, can we? No we can’t. And our hearts cannot ever really soften, unless the spirit of God breaks through with a holy sledge hammer.

The way Christ responds to this man, completely blows my mind, Jesus doesn’t lead this man in a prayer, tells him to repent or anything of the sort. The man only cries out from his heart, which is in a way a form of repentance and asking for forgiveness. And Christ accepts him willfully. The man knows, that if he is to enter paradise with Christ, it has everything to do with the goodness of Christ and zero to do with himself.

This, my friends, should set us free! Why? Because it’s no longer about us, we know longer have to slave and white knuckle our way into Christs love. We can rest in the grace and mercy of Christ, and breath with great joy because it’s all about the finished work of Christ for us.

Trust me, if you feel like God is done with you, or wants nothing to do with you, you’re mistaken. He just wants you. All of you. While you are still alive, there is still time to know the grace and goodness of God. All you have to do is cry out to him.

The Beauty and Invitation of Grace

Lots of people are addicted to many things, me, however. I am addicted to the grace of God. I can’t get enough of it, I need it almost every moment of every day. Grace is the one sustaining reality in my life that keeps everything else going. I talk about grace so much, because it has utterly changed my life.

Many churches have hot button topics that they love to preach about, and for me grace is that truth. I was am the prodigal sons, before I gave in to the affectionate calling of the Lord drawing my heart, I was the other younger son that was arrogant, and felt like God owed him everything (if there was a God) and now, being a redeemed Christ follower, I am the eldest son that runs away and comes back home.

Yet, the father still runs to be every single time. No, grace is not an invitation to live a careless life, grace is the gift and ability to walk closely with Christ each and everyday. And with joy. But the reality is that, we do wander off the path. Take for example, the timeless hymn “Come Thou Fount”

“Prone to wander Lord I feel it. Prone to leave the God I love”

We sing this all the time, but I don’t believe that we understand what we are singing. God is not stupid, he isn’t. He knows that you and I are gonna screw up and screw up a lot. He knows we are gonna lose our tempers, say things we don’t mean, totally blow it and act counter to how we Christians should act.

But you know what? He’s not shocked. He knows. And dare I believe that he is shaking his head at us, rather he picks us up, brushes us off and reminds us who we are in him. And sets us on the narrow road. Any anger that we may believe that God has toward us, was poured out on the cross. If you are in Christ, you are a new creation. The old has been done away with and the new has come.

The sins you cannot forget, are the sins that God has forgotten.

I believe that because God is slow to anger, his hearts cry is for people to finally notice how much they need his grace. On one hand, proud people who already think they are amazing. Have no need for the beautiful gift of grace. While on the other hand, those that know they have blown it time and time again. The grace of God is the most precious of gifts.

It’s a gift, you can do nothing to deserve it, let alone un-deserve it. But you can embrace it with all its joy and beauty.

But I’ve Sinned Too Much (Grace Part 2)

The other day I was writing in my journal, about how I simply could not understand how God could be so loving toward me. How deep and wide his grace is for me, how!? I have clearly sinned far too much in my life, I am far too prideful, stubborn and absorbed and have clearly out sinned the grace of God…

Except, I haven’t, you haven’t and we cannot exhaust his grace for us. If you are in Christ, your sin has been removed as far as the east is from the west (Psalm 103). We are new creation in Christ Jesus (2 Corinthians 5:27).

The problem becomes, when we can know this in our heads, but we fail to live as if we are out of our hearts. We know it mentally, be we live as though we are still condemned. Yet scripture tells us, that there is NO condemnation when you are in Christ (Romans 8:1-1)

There is no condemnation for us, no guilt, no shame! But I still struggle, you say, yes me too, I believe that we are struggle in our own ways. And anyone who says that they no longer struggle I believe is a liar. Furthermore, if a person is fully healed and does not struggle with his or her sin nature any longer. Then they need to speak up and share their secrets.

For the the only way I have learned to combat my former self, is to renew my mind with the truth and love that Christ offers me through his word.

You might even think that there is no way, you could have victory over the besetting sin in your life. whatever it is. And so you think, there’s no way Gods grace is big enough for your situation, but I tell you that that is a lie the enemy wants you to believe.

I believe that the grace of God is big, far and wide, that you can complete wreck your life, and God’s grace would still be more than enough to cleanse, re-create your heart and sustain you.

Consider the thief on the cross (Luke 23:39-43)

Not much is know about this man, he might have had an entire life of stealing, cheating and lying has way to get what he wants. And in the last moments of his life, he begs the Lord to remember him in his kingdom.

What happens inside this man? In the final moments of his life, I believe that the holy spirit softens this mans heart and opens his eyes to see the Christ that is suffering beside him and for him. And so in other words he, says, Jesus have mercy on me a sinner.

The common reply to this is:

So your saying I can screw my life up and God will forgive me?  Well, yes and no. We just saw that Christ can forgive the man on the cross, who was asking to be remembered. Yet that was only by the grace of God to begin with. And even though Gods grace can make anyone new, I do not believe that God is saying to go make a disaster of your life. In fact, I would submit that he wants us to live a better life. One in line with him.

I’m telling you that the grace of God is so good, is more amazing than anything else in the world. It can make everything new in your life, regardless of what your prior life has been. But it is always amazing because it will set you on a pathway to a new destiny.

For his grace to us is this, when you and I are in Christ, it as though we have never sinned. For the father see’s the perfect image of his son in us, therefore the father see’s us as he see’s his beloved son.

There is hope,

don’t give up the fight.

Because he hasn’t given up the fight for you!

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Gods Grace

Gods grace is the single most beautiful, amazing and life changing gifts in my life and the world around us. Jesus Christ is the perfect, beautiful and amazing embodiment of that. His grace is all that I am and all that I have. Without his grace I am utterly lost, like a homeless soul begging to be let in to a warm home or begging for scraps.

gods-grace1His grace has changed my life, grace has rescued me from myself. Grace has given me the ability to discover my true self, it has given me the ability to live free from within and grace has taught me to smile regardless of what circumstances may be put before me.

The apostle Paul said that Gods grace made him what he is (1 Corinthians 15:10), the apostle Paul is most famous for his conversion in acts 9. Before his conversation, he hated and persecuted Christians, he had them thrown into prison and even killed.  Paul was a man who new the Jewish tradition inside and out, he even followed with utmost care and perfection it seemed. Though, he was a deeply religious man, he did not know true inner peace or who he really was or meant to be.

In my own spiritual journey, that following the commands of the Lord, is far more difficult when I am trying to do them out of my own strength and religious piety. But when I am operating out of a place of love and grace, things are more easy and light. Jesus says in Matthew 11:28-30

28 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

You might be thinking: Okay, well how does one begin to operate out of the heart beat of grace? Great question, but I will first tell you that, at first, grace will not feel comfortable or even very “loving” why? Because grace has to break through the resistance of your mind, heart and being.

Again, this might be very comfortable at first, because God in his love, has to break through your pride, your self-reliance, your will, your desires everything. Basically in love, the Lord has to break you down to build you back up. He makes you a new creation.  He gives you a new mind, heart and will.

God did this in my own life, when he graciously allowed me to encounter his son Jesus. He melted me, he made me see all that I ever longed for and was longing for. He made me see, just how miserable I was and how horrible I was at playing god with my life. More importantly, he showed me that only he could be the satisfaction and peace that I so deeply longed for.

Feeling and knowing his amazing grace, spun me inside and out in the best way possible. I was happy and truly smiled! What I learned though, over time and actually on countless occasions, is that grace is much more than a feeling, but a true state of being, a deep anchor that a child of God can hold onto in the midst of life’s most violent storms.

No, I don’t always feel grace, but I have learned that it is so profoundly sufficient. Some days I am reminded of the sins of old, and the shame and regret that comes with them. Somedays I am so desperate to feel his grace, as though I am some sort of addict. I’m crying out for it.

In this time, Christ cries back to me saying I am the embodiment of grace! His life, death and resurrection is the all the grace I need, not a mere feeling. When I cannot feel the grace of God, he reminds me of what he did on the cross for me.

One) He took my place on the cross, and died the death that should have been for me (and you).

Two) He took my sin, shame and guilt. And in a great exchange, he gave me his perfection and made righteous in the sight of his father.

Three) While on the cross, he was momentarily separated from his father, so that you or I never have to be.

Four)  The resurrection of Christ, means that we have died to our old selves and that we have risen with him. Furthermore, it means, we will have a resurrection of our bodies when he comes again.

This is the only assurance we will ever need, in regards to his grace towards us. Even if we never saw another shred of evidence. Christ’s actions on the cross are more than enough evidence to show us the depth, width and breadth of his grace for us.

 

 

Fighting My Addiction Part 2

I believe that one of the hardest elements of fighting any addiction, be it porn, sex, food, drugs or what have you. Is actually believing that you can fight back against it. The truth is that when we have been bogged down by addictive patterns for so long it can be extremely difficult to believe that anything better can become of your life.

Being that I fight my own addiction daily (porn), there was a time when I deeply believed that I couldn’t break free from the grasp that addiction had on my life. So I basically surrendered myself to this addiction, believing that it was now my master. Eventually though, I became sick of looking at pornography and quickly realized that it was never really that satisfying as people made it sound.

And if we’re honest, we might very well say the same thing. We also have to remember that simply because people choose porn over a real person, yes very little to do with them actually  being “satisfied” and more to do with the wiring in their brains being so high jacked.

There are some therapists who claim that there are some people, whose brains will never be the same because of how much exposure they have had to pornography. While that might be true, it does not mean that things cannot get better. Far too many in medical/ helping professions have very little belief in faith and what inner strength and courage can actual do.

When I first started walking away my own addiction, it was the most difficult challenge I have ever had to face. Everyday that I fought the temptation grew stronger. There were many times when I had no choice but to get on my knees and cry out to God for help. There were many times when I would call a friend or spend lots of time in the gym. Anything to get myself through the tempting moments. Slowly but surely, days started to stack on top of one another.

By God’s grace, my desire to look at poronagraphy became less and less. And I began to desire a real relationship, with a real woman. Change is possible, healing is possible, hope is possible. You just have to be willing to commit to a daily fight. One that you will not win on your own.

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Looking at Jesus

The more I read trough the bible, the more convinced that Jesus is who he says he is. As CS Lewis Brilliantly wrote:

“I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept his claim to be God. That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic — on the level with the man who says he is a poached egg — or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God, or else a madman or something worse. You can shut him up for a fool, you can spit at him and kill him as a demon or you can fall at his feet and call him Lord and God, but let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about his being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.”

For me, it is extremely difficult to read about his life, how he fearlessly loved people, how he performed miracles and he was strong like a lion. Growing up in a buddhist family, I was never drawn to the teaching of Buddha, they way I was to Christ.

Jesus takes failures and outcasts and re-writes their history with grace. He doesn’t allow them to stay as they are, but ignites their hearts to live for something greater. I know that around this time of year a lot of people like to present what they believe Jesus looked like, I mean, I tend to believe that he was more of the short haired person that resembled something like this:

jesus-christ

Though, I like to believe he had a much thicker beard and was a man that wasn’t afraid to get his hands dirty. The point I want to make with this, is that when we are faced with shame, guilt, despair, loneliness, rejection, regret and so many more avenues of human life. That when we face these elements of life, we must teach ourselves to look at the face of Jesus. Knowing that when we are in Christ, we are looking into the eyes of a God-man that doesn’t see us as we see ourselves. In fact, he see’s us a white as snow.

May we patiently teach ourselves to look into the saviors eyes, and there we will find our fullest worth and who we truly are.