>"Forms of Religion" Can’t Deal With Forgiveness

>Was reminded of this older clip from ER. God’s forgiveness in Christ is absolute…but if you don’t hold to substitutionary atonement there is no gospel, and thus no forgivenss, and thus hopelessness, guilt, and condemnation.

This brief video is the “testimony” of people all around us…the gospel, repentance from sin and faith toward God, is our only hope:

>Forgiven to Forgive

>I preach a message on the absolute totality of God’s forgiveness, and our responsibility to pass it on. I utilize four passages from the Old Testament (which should be called the First Testament, so people don’t think it is, well, old) and conclude with Ephesians 4.32.

Though I love to preach it in prison and jail, the Lord uses it in teen camps and churches…as many “free” Christians are locked up tightly in the chains of bitter unforgiveness.

A friend sent me this…watch it and stick with it to the quote at the end:

>The Danger of Christian "Retreats," "Camps" etc…

>As I read the following cartoon this morning I thought of the students/adults with whom I spent this last incredible weekend at the NWTFC Bible Quiz Tournament.Then I again prayed that this first morning back in the “real world” that those who had made commitments to would follow through with them rather than cave to the pressure of the world, the flesh, and the devil.

Whether a four-day event, a week of camp, or even a missions trip; the reality is Spirit of God can seize those days away from peers, negative garbage, etc to cause people to truly hear from God. But then it’s back to the war zone…

Much like when I served in Vietnam and “R & R” (Rest and Recreation) came up. One moment I’m riding on the Armored Cavalry Assault Vehicle (ACAV), the next I’m on my way to Sydney, Australia for seven days. Once arriving there I spend all the time focused on partying (long before I got converted!), but in the back of my mind…five days, three days, 36 hours, 7 hours…and the dreadful knowledge that I would soon be back in the Nam.

Thus the burden is on the speaker, staff, counselors etc at such spiritual events to NEVER make it “easy” to make a “decision” for Jesus….to NEVER get into body-counting “decisions” as a way of determining whether the event was “good,” and to tell the attendees that the camp or whatever is NOT real life…it is rather a taste of heaven, and that the most dangerous time of our spiritual lives is the first several days after what is often referred to as a “spiritual high.”

And the burden of the person who MADE a genuine commitment to Christ to deepen their relationship and obedience is to focus on the gospel, and on walking in faith and trust that this time it will work…even as Spirit of God works within us…IF we get out of the way and, duh, ask Him to!

The life of a disciple (which is what the great commission tells us to make, rather than “converts” and/or “decisions”) is, at its root, one HUGE decision to repent and trust the gospel; followed by a gazillion moment-by-moment decisions to obey.

And, when those inevitable stumblings come, we run to my most-needed verse…First John 1.9. Reminds me of an early DC Talk song…Watch the following video and remind yourself that “If we confess (“agree with God”) that we have sinned, He is faithful and just to FORGIVE us our sin, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

>Sober Thoughts for the New Year

>Good stuff from RAY ORTLAND

2010 might be your year of release.  It might be mine.  One year from today, we might be with the Lord.  Better by far.

How to get ready and stay ready?

One, let’s die fully reconciled.  Are we clear with every brother?  “Strive for peace with everyone” (Hebrews 12:14).

Two, let’s die fully consecrated.  Are we set apart to God?  “Strive for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord” (Hebrews 12:14).

Three, let’s die fully forgiven.  Are we enjoying the grace of God?  “See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God” (Hebrews 12:15).

Four, let’s die in sweetness.  Is any resentment spoiling our hearts?  “See to it that no root of bitterness springs up and causes trouble, and by it many become defiled” (Hebrews 12:15).

Five, let’s die in purity.  Is the blessing of God more savory to us than the pleasures of the body?  “See to it that no one is sexually immoral or unholy like Esau, who sold his birthright for a single meal” (Hebrews 12:16).

The battle rages.  Let’s be ready to die at any time.  Our moment will come.

>Forgiveness – Better Late Than Never

>Thanks to a good friend, I watched this video with tears. I served in Vietnam ’68-’69 attached to the 11th Armored Cavalry. At this point I’ve no desire to return. But I’m glad this man did, and am so grateful for the forgiveness Christ purchased (at such a horrific cost) for those who repent and trust; and will continue to strive to obey His command to “pass it on” – “forgiving one another even as God in Christ Jesus has forgiven you.”

>The Fear of God and Forgiveness

>“Do you ever think that your sins are too bad, and that forgiveness for those sins requires you to get your act together first? If so, you don’t fear God. You are minimizing his forgiveness. You are acting as though his forgiveness is ordinary, just like that of any person or make-believe god. In contrast, the fear of the Lord leads us to believe that when God makes promises too good to be true, they are indeed true.”

– Ed Welch, Running Scared (Greensboro, NC: New Growth Press, 2007), 195.

>No Expiration Date on Mercy!

>Sometimes the most familiar verses become so “common” they lose their freshness. Here’s a great reminder:

“If you are one of God’s children, there is something in your life that will not wear out. In fact, it has the amazing capacity to be new day after day after day. Scripture says that God’s mercies are ‘New every morning.’

Now, you know you need mercy, because you know you need forgiveness and help. Almost every day you mess up in some way. Almost every day you face things that are bigger than the size of your personal wisdom and strength. You and I constantly need the mercy of forgiveness and the mercy of enablement. And so, it is very encouraging to know that God’s mercy is new every day! God’s mercy never grows stale and it never loses it’s transforming power. God’s mercy is brand new morning after morning after morning.

This also means that God’s mercy is form-fit for the problems that you are facing right here, right now. Each morning you are given new mercies for the particular things that you will face that day.

So, you can wake up tomorrow with courage and hope. And you can do this, not because of your strength and wisdom, but because you know that the most important thing you have ever been given will never wear out. You can also have hope because you know that the God who has given that new mercy, knows exactly what you are about to face.”

—Paul David Tripp