Diary of a Misfit

SO, How’s That First Week of LENT Goin’ For Ya?

Give up chocolate? Booze? Facebook, sugar, Pokémon or TV?

Maybe you gave up something too deep to tell anybody but God.

Does your sacrifice remind you of His? Or your own self-pity?

The IDEA, in the Spirit, was to join Him in His suffering so we can feel closer to Him in His victory when He rises again. Spend 40 days in the “desert’ of temptation like Jesus did before He began His mission.

A holy and beautiful thing.

Then….

BAM!… Reality. Flesh. Failure.

Nothing like failing to keep a genuine, heartfelt Lenten commitment to demonstrate, yet again, what hopeless, fleshy losers we are, huh? Why we so desperately need saving. Why we love Someone who says He will not only SAVE us, but FORGIVE us when we fail.

What I’ve learned from my Lenten journey so far is that I never would have made it this far without the Lord’s grace and mercy. And that I won’t make it another step without it now.

AND I see how HIS 40 days in the desert, tempted by the devil himself, was necessary. Praise GOD He went first, huh?!

The devil hasn’t changed. He tempted Jesus and lost. But he’s still after us. When we fail, we smell his presence. Especially those of us misfits with very wounded souls. He knows our weak spots and he targets them all the time.

Seems like the holier our GOALS, the harder he tries to shoot us down. The guy lounging by the pool or watching TV all day isn’t much risk, is he? Why bother? But anyone looking to give glory to God, build up His Kingdom? BAM!

I think of the monks of old, wearing scratchy hair shirts as a sign of repentance. Thomas Becket was wearing one when he was martyred, Charlemagne was buried in one.

But today we just don’t deny ourselves many creature comforts. Spend most of our time, in fact, seeking new ones. A new exotic food, or stylish clothes, rare wine. It simply doesn’t occur to us to WANT to suffer. Mainly just to avoid it at all costs.

Then comes Lent. And we want to try. Some of us strong and pure enough to do it and succeed “as unto Him.” Some of us shot down by our broken, wounded flesh. Again.

He knows our struggle. Carries us anyway. Loves us anyway. Not because we are so loveable, but because He IS love. (1 John 4:8).

Thank You, Lord. Thank You for carrying us when we fail. For loving us when we grinch and groan. For forgiving us when we stubbornly refuse to do Your plain and obvious will instead of our little plans. Thank you. You knew how we would be and loved us anyway. Whew.
*******
Our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Ephesians 6:12

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The Birth of a Misfit

 

 

If we are misfits, we know it by now.

People hurt us. Or left us.

Dreams withered on the vine.

The crooked path has been nothing like the straight-forward dream.

Maybe tortured, maybe blessed.

How we came to be wounded.

And what God did about it.

The real difference between us humans is rooted in the mists of childhood. Because everything that ever happened to us is still inside, dense and convoluted like a walnut in its shell.  The seedling we once were learned everything from the very beginning, flourishing in rich soil or barely surviving among stones.  Young brains lay down pathways that only an older soul will try to understand.  That the world is harsh, confusing, frightening.  Or steady as the waves of the sea.  That we are important, secure, loved.  Or nothing to anyone, afraid for our very lives, hungry as trapped dogs.

Maybe that’s when we decide about God, when we don’t even have words.  Later, when we do, they are colored by the blood or blessings of those first years.  Life is so unfair, how can there be a loving God?  Maybe we give a weak nod, afraid to rule Him out in case He is there.  But that first idea is set in concrete.  And you just can’t kill an idea once it’s made a home.  Why would God love me?  Nobody else did…


Romans 8:37-39  No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

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THE HUMBUG REPORT–A Campfire For the Rest of Us

Soooo…the pretty lights and music aren’t doin’ it for you, huh?
Yeahhhh. Me neither.

Lots of us out here, from what I hear. Lonely, sad, hurting, lost… in spite of the hope and promise of the season. Something about the organized glee all around makes us feel a leeetle dark n crusty by comparison. Amplifies our losses and sufferings, then distills them down into tears.

I got stuck in the dark this year too. My faith and hope not rising to the occasion. Too wounded to choose.

So let’s gather ‘round each other here, my “real” brothers and sisters. We can pray for each other, share our needs, send our love, ask our questions. Isn’t that what we really wanted all along? Someone WITH us, who HEARS us, who KNOWS?

After a week of tears, here is our Lord’s hand to me just now. You won’t believe what He used to show me what I need! A tiny green LIZARD.

A baby lizard inside my front window pane had won my heart this week, eating the odious houseflies from a recent plague. We got used to each other, almost friends. He never ran when I swatted flies. I never shooed him outside. We came to trust each other. I called him Izzy. He stared and blinked.

Then, just now, as I walked past the window, there the poor little thing was…TRAPPED. Helplessly glued to a sticky fly trap. STUCK from his tiny nose to the end of his long tail and every microscopic toe. His efforts to leap and catch his meal had not ended well. Only his tiny eyes could move.

I knew just how he felt.

Don’t tell anyone, but I cried. The sight stabbed the other pains in my heart–for the grandson STUCK in addiction. Then twisted it deeper for loved ones STUCK in poor choices, and myself STUCK in waning hope.

I knew I had to try to save him. Had to pry his delicate thin skin off that tenacious death trap. Was afraid it would hurt him or kill him. Knew I had to try.

I trimmed the sticky trap away around his imprisoned body, then gently touched his outline with an oily swab, a teensie careful move at a time.

The fear and hopelessness was as plain on his face as it has been on mine lately. “Shhhh,” I whispered to him, slowing my motions so as not to worry him. And applied the oil gently, slowly, until he was FREE. Then watched helplessly as he ran away, his fear hurling him into a bowl of water. So I saved him from that TOO. And dried him on a paper towel.

“It’s OK…shhh….slow down there…all is well, little Izzy, all is well.”

When I returned him back to his spot in the big window I whispered to him “Now I know you didn’t know I was saving you all along…” and watched his tiny eyes flicker. “I know it was hard and you can’t understand me.” Still teary, I gently set him down.

Then heard my own words come from another place. God. The REAL God. Whispering the same to me.

We DON’T understand. It CAN be hard. WHY?!

The cure is not always easy. We don’t understand the “why”.
But we know Him when we see Him there in the faint light at the end of the tunnel. Again.

That one holy star still shines.

So maybe this year the “Merry” that comes before “Christmas” doesn’t ring as true as other years. Maybe we don’t even recognize our own selves, wonder if we ever even HAD faith. But we “know” we are loved, even if our “feel” is broken. “Know” He has us, even though our faith flags and fails.

I love you, brothers and sisters who share my wordless pain for the hard “cure” our Lord is using on us now. Let’s pray for each other. Wait together in the darkness. Cry for the sorrow, smile for the light.

Even those three Wise Men had to trudge a long time through the desert to find Him.


Cast your cares on the LORD and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous fall. Psalm 55:22

So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. Isaiah 41:10

In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33

I consider that the sufferings of this present time are as nothing compared with the glory to be revealed for us. Romans 8:18

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Giving Thanks ANYWAY

Life hard? Family toxic? Kids ungrateful? Job suck? Friend dump you? Lover reject you? Broke again? Drunk again? Sick again? Grieving someone you lost? Failed at your last effort? Can’t find the right “other”? Lonely? Overworked? Stressed?

We all have something it is very hard to give thanks for.

Two “God things” come to mind, though. He DID promise He would turn ALL things to GOOD. Which, WHEW, hard to imagine. (Romans 8:28 if you want to check)

Plus He DIDN’T exactly specify we had to give the praise and thanks for those exact hard things…cuz there’s always plenty of OTHER things…many mercies…for which we CAN be grateful.

And there really is something holy and healing about giving thanks ANYWAY.

Bible says God actually somehow lives in our praise, it ties somehow to His glory. And comes back to us in some mysterious way we cannot really fathom.

Try it! Give it some heart then give it some time. Watch your faith at work.

Besides…Black Friday sales start after dinner   🙂

Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. I Thessalonians 5:18

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Hard Core Sinner? Think God Hates You?

Hard Core Sinner?  Think God Hates You?

Good news!  You are in VERY good company.  With a VERY happy answer.

This poem by my friend says it all.  And reminds us that those horrid, stupid things we did were just another example of WHY He came in the flesh to SAVE us.

It sure gave me hope.  A bandage for my wounded self-esteem.  Pray it blesses YOU as well.

 

 

I am Adam

I lusted and felt the delight

Of taking that very first bite

I am Cain

I was filled with darkness and hate

Despising my well-deserved fate

I am Jacob

I was given years full of pain

As my pay for deceitful gain

I am Moses

Striking out with my foolish plan

I shamefully buried the man

I am a Hebrew slave

Delivered from Egyptian land

I looked back and fell in the sand

I am an Israelite

I failed to drive out the heathen

Their women caused me to weaken

I am Jonah

I ran from the Lord’s chosen path

And then had to endure His wrath

I am Job

I longed for God’s intercession

Humbled by all of His questions

I am a Pharisee

I love to be seen working hard

The praise of man is my reward

I am the prodigal son

After wasting my youthful years

I ran back to my Father in tears

I am Peter

I was quick to pull out my sword

But fainted at a maiden’s word

I am Lazarus

I was bound and buried in death

Till the Holy Ghost gave me breath

I am the thief on the cross

I used my last words to confess

With my hands stretched out to be blessed

I am Thomas

I couldn’t quite figure it out

But Christ loved me despite my doubt

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Abortion…WITHOUT Doctrine or Politics or Judgment

The Lord surprised me with this one.  Why talk about abortion right now, on the verge of the holidays Lord?  But He insists.  So must be some wounded hearts out there that need it.  If abortion is something you are wounded or confused about, this is for YOU.  Let’s start with a medical person’s personal testimony:


As a young new nurse in a large metro hospital, I was recruited for a new clinic.  “PIC” they called it.  “Pregnancy Interruption Clinic.”  It was 1973.  Roe v Wade had just legalized abortion.  Very kind doctors interviewed me and presented the opportunity as a great way to help people.  AND, in complete truth, our FIRST patient group did include a ten-year-old girl who didn’t even know HOW she got pregnant.  And always sobbing women, desperate and hopeless–victims of rape, abuse, or just poor judgment.  So, yes, it fed our notion we were doing good things for the poor and downtrodden.  And helped us not judge the ones who came.

Until we saw the results.

The procedure itself was not shocking.  Doctors called it “removing the tissue.”  There were no ultrasounds yet, so no one had seen the beating hearts and tiny flailing legs. Just a large glass suction jar with a pump and a little white gauze sock inside.  As the doctor worked, we could see the white gauze inside pulsing and filling, blood dripping.  They covered the jar so the patients couldn’t see it.

Fifteen or twenty minutes, all kind words and gentle hand-holding.  Then we wheeled the women back to the recovery room and gave them snacks until they felt strong enough to go home.

THEN, after everyone had gone home, the appalling revelation of what we were REALLY doing there.  We had to empty those white gauze socks into little tin foil pans to take up to Pathology, to make sure everything was out of the uterus.  Standard procedure for clinics that remove “tissue.”

Yeah.  That cured us.  The Truth DOES set you free.  Tiny flayed bodies.  Broken bones, torn flesh. Tiny heads and arms and legs and ribcages torn completely apart, scattered in the slick of blood like war carnage. Yes we could tell boys from girls, all torn completely apart like nothing we’d never seen.  And nurses have SEEN some stuff!  Stupefied, we carried the tiny foil pans up to the Lab, as instructed.  No words.

We did not NEED a moral argument or theology or politics of “rights” to know we were seeing a Holocaust worse than the stacked bodies out of Hitler’s ovens.  What remained was only to decide what we should DO about it.  We still struggle with it to this day.  Because there are horrid situations that require life and death decisions about this.  Women do have rights over their own bodies; of course they do.  I couldn’t imagine that ten year old carrying the baby that was aborted that day.  And pitied the victims of crime, abuse and disappointments of life.  But there is also no mistaking what you SEE when you SEE it.

–Anonymous, R.N.


So, it is not as simple as people on EITHER side think.  Probably almost as hard to see as that small church full of shot up bloody bodies must have been in central Texas last week.

So many women have gone through this for so many years for so many reasons.  Millions every year.  We do know more now, due to the advanced technology.  And grieve, whether we are people of faith or not.

No one can heal that wound except God.  Others like to have you believe it is GOD who BLAMES you.

No.  It is God who HEALS you.

Like any loving parent, He taught us “right” from “wrong” so we WOULDN”T have the grief and disappointment of our poor choices.  But He DOES have healing for what we did in ignorance or desperation.    WE don’t have to “pay for our sins” when we kneel before Him and ask His forgiveness because HE already did that FOR us.

Even better, we have Someone to go to with the grief and pain and loss.  Everyone else has opinions or judgments.  Only He gives the love and forgiveness you crave.

The Bible is full of scripture that says the same.  Many hurting, damaged sinners in the Bible, forgiven and set free.  King David murdered a man and committed adultery—but when he repented, God called him “a man after My own heart.”   There are many others, from tax collectors to prostitutes.

There’s so many lies and misperceptions in this fallen world.  Many of us get our “beliefs” from CNN or fellow addicts or neighbors with their own problems.  Always better to get them straight from ABOVE.  He KNOWS our heartache.  The STATISTICS don’t HELP us, do they?  The political or social or doctrinal debates don’t heal. Only one place safe to take heartache and confusion and grief that deep.

You won’t get the slap of judgment you thought you would.

Promise.


There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.  Romans 8:1

He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.
Psalm 147:3

For I will be merciful toward their iniquities,
    and I will remember their sins no more.”  Hebrews 8:12

 Create in me a clean heart, O God,
    and renew a right spirit within me.   Psalm 51:10

 

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BE YOURSELF

“BE YOURSELF!”  you hear from every side.

Really?  Selfish, Mad, Drunk, Scared, Lonely, Addicted, Angry, Lazy, Self-Centered?

Many of us would rather NOT “be ourselves.”

You gotta dig kinda deep under the broken sinful confusing BEHAVIOR you’ve acquired in order to SURVIVE and be the REAL you God MADE you to be.

Confusing, isn’t it?

Be ourselves?  like we would know who THAT is.  We’ve tap danced to win approval or rebelled to escape.  We made it past the adolescent angst and the teenage performance anxiety.  Now we mostly think we ARE what we DO.  And if THAT ain’t goin’ good, our self-esteem shrivels up.

Here’s a guy who will give you hope.  His name was Saul.  God had to knock him off his high horse to quit being a Pharisee, stoning Christians.  Then he GOT it… and became the Apostle Paul and went on to write ¾ of the New Testament.

He was just like us.  Not perfect.  He put it pretty plain:

For I know that nothing good dwells within me, that is, in my flesh. I can WILL what is right, but I cannot DO it. For I do not do the GOOD I want, but the EVIL I do not want is what I do.           [Romans chapter 7 if you want to read his whole struggle]

So we have to decide…am I the loser I think I am?  Or am I who God SAYS I am.  “Holy, blameless, chosen in love, His child, beloved forever…..”  (See verses below)

I didn’t make it up.  It’s right there in the Book.  Promise.  GOD!  Not the people we were tap dancing for, or the ones we ran away from, or the ones we loved who didn’t love us back.  GOD!  –“HOLY!  BELOVED!  BLAMELESS!”  The instant we say “yes” to Him, He says that to us.  The thing we wanted all along.

If you never SAID “yes” to Him, you are stuck with your “performance” and what “they” say, aren’t you?  Don’t fall for it.  Say YES to the One who MADE you.  He MADE us and had a PLAN for us, quirky little faults and all.

I found that out the hard way myself. My BIRTH parents said I was trash and threw me out, others SAID love and didn’t SHOW love.  Worst of all, the world AND the devil AND my wounded little inner Psycho all talked trash to me all the time.

I really was lost, but now I really am found.  I have had my life saved.  Maybe you have too.  It’s not easy, it’s not quick.  But o baby it is true.  If you look up long enough, God will answer you.  You study Truth, it soaks in eventually.  You share your secrets, you find out He is the safe one who will love you anyway.

Don’t let anybody ELSE tell you who you are!!!!

Believe who GOD made you to be instead of what others expect you to be. God wants people to be FREE, and find their own “call” in Him.  He calls some to feed the hungry, some to marriage and family, some to pastoring other sheep.  And some susrprises too—martyrdom, music, madness.  Once we know Him and love Him long enough, His unique path for us is all we care.

God really IS the ONLY thing that can raise you above this fallen world: depression, addiction, sadness, foolishness, sinfulness and loss.  The.  Only.  Thing.  If there was another way I woulda found it.  You too.

Now, on a bad day, when I talk trash to myself, I can still hear the holy whisper:

You are My child.  I love you.  You are holy and blameless.  You have your cross, but I had Mine and we will carry them together.

 And I get up.


John 1:12 – I am a child of God (Romans 8:16).

John 15:15 – I am Christ’s friend.

Romans 8:1 – I am forever free from condemnation.

Romans 8:14, 15 – I am a son of God (God is literally my “Daddy”)

Romans 11:16 – I am holy.

Romans 15:7 – Christ has accepted me.

Galatians 3:26, 28 – I am a child of God and one in Christ.

Ephesians 1:1 – I am a saint (1 Corinthians 1:2; Philippians 1:1; Colossians 1:2).

Ephesians 1:4 – I am holy and blameless

Ephesians 4:24 – I am righteous and holy.

Philippians 3:20 – I am a citizen of heaven.

Colossians 3:4 – Christ is now my life.

Colossians 3:12 – I am chosen of God, holy and dearly loved

1 Thessalonians 5:5 – I am a child of light and not of darkness.

2 Timothy 1:7 – I have been given a spirit of power, love, and discipline.

Hebrews 4:16 – I may come boldly before the throne of God to receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need

1 Peter 2:5 – I am one of God’s living stones and am being built up as a spiritual house

1 Peter 2:9, 10 – I am a part of a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people of God’s own possession.

1 Peter 2:11 – I am an alien and stranger to this world that I temporarily live in.

1 Peter 5:8 – I am an enemy of the devil. He is my adversary.

1 John 3:1 – God has bestowed a great love on me and called me His child.

1 John 4:15 – God is in me and I am in God.

 

 

 

 

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WHO’S YO DADDY?

If your father wasn’t quite what you needed…no worries.  You are fixin’ ta get the best Daddy ever.

What, yours damaged you?  Set a bad example, made you unworthy?  NONE of us ever WAS worthy except Jesus, and He Himself called God “Abba,” a warm and intimate Aramaic word for “Daddy,” as He trembled before the coming cross.

Then Jesus picked the Apostle Paul AFTER Paul stoned and fought the first Christian believers.  Hardly the most deserving candidate to write ¾ of the New Testament, huh?  So don’t worry about your haters or judgers…Our Lord picks us wounded warriors every time.

Sometimes we are so broken that we don’t have confidence in what He’s asked us to do.  But if He calls you to it, do it anyway!  God chose you, He’ll enable you.

Nobody will like it?  They won’t think you’re qualified?   No worries…it’s not your popularity among men you’re after.  YOUR prize will be FOREVER, not this month’s magazines.  Bible says Jesus Himself was the “chief cornerstone” that the builders REJECTED at first.  Then He did it ALL.  Forever.  Let Him be your role model if that other one didn’t work out.

So forget where you CAME from and praise where you’re going.  And thank your Daddy NOW….”Abba, Father” the Bible calls Him.  “Daddy” plain and simple.  He has a plan JUST for YOU!

*****

For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!”  ROMANS 8:15

And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!”   GALATIANS 4:6

He was saying, “Abba! Father! All things are possible for You; remove this cup from Me; yet not what I will, but what You will.”  MARK 14:36

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Hard Core Sinner?  Think God Hates You?

Hard Core Sinner?  Think God Hates You?

Good news!  You are in VERY good company.  With a VERY happy answer.

This poem by my friend says it all.  And reminds us that those horrid, stupid things we did were just another example of WHY God came in the flesh to SAVE us.

It sure gave me hope.  A bandage for my wounded self-esteem.  A promise for forever.  Pray it blesses YOU as well.

***

I am Adam

I lusted and felt the delight

Of taking that very first bite

I am Cain

I was filled with darkness and hate

Despising my well-deserved fate

I am Jacob

I was given years full of pain

As my pay for deceitful gain

I am Moses

Striking out with my foolish plan

I shamefully buried the man

I am a Hebrew slave

Delivered from Egyptian land         

I looked back and fell in the sand   

I am an Israelite        

I failed to drive out the heathen       

Their women caused me to weaken          

I am Jonah

I ran from the Lord’s chosen path   

And then had to endure His wrath  

I am Job

I longed for God’s intercession                   

Humbled by all of His questions     

I am a Pharisee

I love to be seen working hard

The praise of man is my reward

            I am the prodigal son

            After wasting my youthful years

            I ran back to my Father in tears

I am Peter

I was quick to pull out my sword     

But fainted at a maiden’s word                   

I am Lazarus

I was bound and buried in death                

Till the Holy Ghost gave me breath

I am the thief on the cross

I used my last words to confess      

With my hands stretched out to be blessed

I am Thomas

I couldn’t quite figure it out

But Christ loved me despite my doubt

                              By Jacob Titus c2017

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You Can’t Shock God


You Can’t Shock God

“Church” does have its problems.  Confusing doctrines, unkind members, and, most of all, a sense of shame before the God we know is there.  Whether we are mad at him or ashamed of ourselves, we think our presence will SHOCK Him or the other people.

The neighbor who saw you in that dark alley might be shocked, it’s true.

But God’s not.  Nope.  Not a bit.

Jesus poured God’s love out on murderers, prostitutes, and tax collectors just as richly as He did the faithful.  Because He is not the naïve parent we’ve been hiding from.  Sin IS the reason He came.  DIED nailed to a wooden CROSS…all that agony in spite of His own innocence.  So we wouldn’t have to suffer like that FOREVER for ours.

So NO…our sins do NOT shock Him.

Besides, there are no new sins, just the same old tired ones from forever.  If they were ever going to bring joy, we would surely know about it by now.  “Sex, drugs, and rock n roll” always feel good…right up to where they ruin your life, steal your joy, and kill you.

And remember—Jesus Himself was always in trouble with the goodie-two-shoes (Pharisees) for hanging out with sinners.  He IS our number one ADVOCATE.  And a misfit like us.

These days we think we have OTHER answers…doctors and shrinks and welfare and a million other things to support our bad choices.  And we never have to call it sin.  We think we are good to go.

Yet we know, somewhere deep inside, that we have a dark side, a person we don’t even like living inside the person we pretend to be.  A darkness.  A sickness.

We hurt people we love.  Take things that aren’t ours.  Keep secrets, tell lies, and worse.  You know it.  Nobody needs to tell you.  If anybody else did what you know you’ve done in secret, you’d want them punished.  For yourself, you make excuses, keep your head down, and hope nobody finds out.  And if they do, you have your explanations always brewing.

Justice for them.  Mercy for me.

And God knows, too.  He knows our heart.  That it’s OUR sin we don’t want to hear about.  The sins of other people are endlessly fascinating.  Crooks, addicts, pedophiles and crooked politicians dominate the evening news.  We think we must be good, by comparison.

The gospel is not “good news” to the self-righteous who are not even aware of their sin.  But it is the best news to us misfits who know we need to be rescued.  It is not good news to unbelievers, or people who believe but don’t want to surrender to it (like demons).  But it is wonderful news to those who have been trapped in their sin, had their lives ruined by it.  And want to be free.


You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe—and shudder! James 2:19

The eyes of the Lord are in every place,
keeping watch on the evil and the good.  Proverbs 15:3

THERE IS THEREFORE NOW NO CONDEMNATION FOR THOSE WHO ARE IN CHRIST JESUS!!!  Romans 8:1

 

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