Sunday, March 21, 2010

Lessons From A Five-Year-Old

My little brother, Jack, turned five today. He is just about the sweetest (and cutest) little boy in the whole wide world, but that's another post. When we went out the each lunch today, Dad told Jack Henry that he was going to get him an ice cream sundae for dessert. Without a moment's hesitation, Jack reached into his pocket and pulled out a penny. He held it up to Dad's face and said, "I can pay for it, Daddy!" Dad very seriously turned to Jack and said, "Thank you, but it's your birthday so I'll pay for it."

It reminded me of something. How often do we try to do that with God? He has given us the greatest gift of all, salvation (much more costly than a couple scoops of ice cream with whipped cream and sprinkles). It is nothing we have in any way lended to, and yet how proud we are of that little shiny penny. "Here, look, God, I go to church every week." Or, "See, I'm reading my Bible." We don't like to feel indebted. And we very effectively (in small, subtle ways) convince ourselves that we somehow aided God in our salvation. We responded. We prayed. We read our Bible. We went to church. We forget that we gave nothing. God gave everything.

"For by grace you have been saved, through faith, and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God. Not as a result of works, so that no one may boast." (Ephesians 2: 8-9). It doesn't get any clearer than that.

As silly as it was for Jack to assume that he could pay for a dessert with a penny, it is far more ridiculous for us to assume that we can pay for our salvation with...nothing. At least Jack had something to offer. But we have nothing to offer God. In fact, it is even worse than nothing. The only thing we bring to God is our sin.

Not the labors of my hands
Can fulfill Thy law's commands;
Could my zeal no respite know,
Could my tears forever flow,
All for sin could not atone;
Thou must save, and Thou alone.

Nothing in my hand I bring,
Simply to the cross I cling;
Naked, come to Thee for dress;
Helpless, look to Thee for grace;
To Thy fountain, Lord, I fly;
Wash me, Savior, or I die.

-Rock of Ages
Words by August M. Toplady

Monday, March 15, 2010


I've been thinking about change lately. These thoughts have no doubt been brought on by the seemingly inevitable changes that are about to take place in my life. Over the years, I've always seen change as a good thing. What I've been realizing lately is that, as Ralph Waldo Emerson said, "For everything you miss, you gain something else; and for everything you gain, you lose something else." College is just around the corner, and although it is something I have always looked forward to, now the gravity of exactly what that means is starting to catch up with me. Yes, there will be a lot of great things about college. I'll be independent. I'll get to go to classes (is it strange that I'm actually looking forward to that?). Even the little things about college thrill me. But then there's the other side of the coin. I'll be leaving my family (can I even imagine what that will be like?). I'll be leaving the friends that I've had for the past six or so years. I'll be moving to live at a university in a different state. And that's just part of it. I guess I've been naive. I've just assumed that things would stay the same...maybe because I couldn't really imagine anything different than the way things are. But the truth is that there's no way I could possibly keep up with all of the friends I've had through high school. Things will have to change. I'll be at a different church every Sunday. I'll be living in a 6 x 8 dorm room (as least I have my own room!). But I'm realizing now just how unavoidable change really is.

My location will change. My friends will change. My church will change. My daily schedule will change. But there is one thing that will not ever, ever, ever change. There is one person (and only one person) that I can place my complete trust in and know with absolute certainty that He will never disappoint me.

"For I am the Lord; I change not."
Malachi 3:6

Friday, March 12, 2010

quote for today

"This moment is as much beyond our grasp, and as much in God's care, as that a hundred years away. Care for the next minute is as foolish as care for a day in the next thousand years. In neither can we do anything; in both, God is doing everything."

C.S. Lewis

Monday, March 1, 2010

We Deserve One Thing

The world tells us that we have certain rights. We have a right to think whatever we want. We have a right to say whatever we feel like, whether it's the truth or not. We have the right to personal property. We have the right to privacy. We have the right to at least a little bit of "me-time" every day. In fact, it is considered "unhealthy" if we don't have that worked into our daily schedule. We have the right to an education, as well as the right to get a good job. In essence, we are told by the world around us that we have the right to do whatever it takes to be happy. When things don't work out the way we think they should, we feel: angry. Because we "deserve" better. Thanks to Starbucks billboards, we even think that we are entitled to a coffee everyday because we "deserve it" and need to "treat ourselves".

No one owes me these things. There is only one thing that I deserve.

I deserve hell.

Anything better than this is grace. I should be overflowing with thanks that God is not heaping his wrath upon me at every moment. That is what I deserve. But He has given so much more than that. He has not just wiped away my sin and made me clean; He sees me as He sees Christ. I am not just in a neutral zone with God. He has blessed me with every spiritual blessing in Christ (Ephesians 1:3). Imagine that. Thank God that we are not given what we really "deserve".