The Pursuit

“What do you think? If a man owns a hundred sheep, and one of them wanders away, will he not leave the ninety-nine on the hills and go to look for the one that wandered off? And if he finds it, truly I tell you, he is happier about that one sheep than about the ninety-nine that did not wander off. In the same way your Father in heaven is not willing that any of these little ones should perish.” — Matthew 18:12-14

My life as a Christian didn’t begin with a decision. I didn’t pray a prayer or kneel at an altar. I never saw it coming. It was like I looked up, and there He was. To borrow a line from the wonderful hymn Amazing Grace, “I once was lost, but now I’m found; was blind, but now I see”. I didn’t find God; He found me.

At best, I was the prodigal son, coming to both the conclusion that I’ve made a mess of my life and the realization that things would be better if I went back to my Father. Unfortunately, just like the prodigal son, I focused on how I could earn God’s love; working my way back into God’s favor which isn’t actually possible (this is why Jesus died on the cross). Thankfully though, God isn’t passive. He is watching, waiting, and even pursuing. How happy is that lost little lamb to look up from total despair to see the loving and familiar face of the Good Shepherd! “You sought me! You found me!” And what a surprise and joy it must have been to the son, who was rehearsing his thorough plan of penitence on his way back home, to be intercepted en route by his loving Father!

Jesus was pursuing me. He sought me. He found me. He saved me. Amen! (If you’ve got a few more minutes, you can hear more of my story here).

Is He pursuing you? Is He calling out to you? How will you know unless you look up?

“Look unto me, and be saved, all the ends of the earth: for I am God, and there is no other.” — Isaiah 45:22

Midnight, Christians

My favorite version of ‘O Holy Night’ is the original, based on the French poem “Midnight, Christians”. Because you (probably) and I (definitely) don’t speak French, this is the English translation of the lyrics:

Midnight, Christians, it is the solemn hour,
When God as man descended unto us
To erase the stain of original sin
And to end the wrath of His Father.
The entire world thrills with hope
On this night that gives it a Saviour.

People kneel down, wait for your deliverance.
Christmas, Christmas, here is the Redeemer,
Christmas, Christmas, here is the Redeemer!

May the ardent light of our Faith
Guide us all to the cradle of the infant,
As in ancient times a brilliant star
Guided the Oriental kings there.
The King of Kings was born in a humble manger;
O mighty ones of today, proud of your greatness,

It is to your pride that God preaches.
Bow your heads before the Redeemer!
Bow your heads before the Redeemer!

The Redeemer has broken every bond:
The Earth is free, and Heaven is open.
He sees a brother where there was only a slave,
Love unites those that iron had chained.
Who will tell Him of our gratitude,
For all of us He is born, He suffers and dies.

People stand up! Sing of your deliverance,
Christmas, Christmas, sing of the Redeemer,
Christmas, Christmas, sing of the Redeemer!

Words from: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/O_Holy_Night

my story: sin & grace

I had the opportunity to share my testimony, my story, at church recently, and here’s the audio. I thought about writing it all out, or adding some clarifications or writing a brief summary, but it didn’t happen. So, hopefully you’ve got a minute (well, 40 minutes) to hear more about me, God and the wonderful things He’s done in my life.

Only the Ship

“But now I urge you to keep up your courage, because not one of you will be lost; only the ship will be destroyed.” Acts 27:22

Whenever I’m in the middle of a crisis–physical, spiritual, emotional–I am reminded of Paul’s words to the crew of the ship in Acts 27. “Only the ship will be destroyed”. Never has the idea of destruction brought so much comfort. Only the ship. Wait, the ship that we’re on? While we’re in the middle of a sea that is tossing us around and is only moments away from swallowing us… Only the ship?

Yes. Only the ship! What wonderful news! I will eventually lose everything I own in this life. Everyone I love will eventually be taken from me. I’ll be forced to throw everything overboard, but I’ll escape with my life. Only the ship will be destroyed! Peace starts to take root.

But then, I begin to dread the journey. Surviving a shipwreck is not something I want to experience. It doesn’t sound fun. It doesn’t sound easy. It doesn’t sound peaceful. I don’t want to throw it all overboard. It sounds horrible. It sounds agonizingly difficult. It sounds impossible.

“Then Paul said to the centurion and the soldiers, ‘Unless these men stay with the ship, you cannot be saved.'” Acts 27:31

The only way to survive is to stay with the ship. It goes against all reason. “Abandon Ship!” sounds like the logical thing to do; otherwise you risk being pulled under with the sinking ship. But Paul tells them there is no way they’ll be saved if they jump ship.

How true is this for us today. Friends, Jesus is that ship. ‘Only the ship will be destroyed’. ‘Unless these men stay with the ship, you cannot be saved.’ Whatever difficulty you are facing, whatever trial you’re in, whatever the storm that is looming over head, threatening to destroy you, abide in Christ; He has taken every strike and every blow on our behalf. He suffered in our place and was beaten and killed–our substitute. Only the ship was destroyed; we were spared.

Jesus answered them, ‘Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.'” John 2:19

Only the ship was destroyed, but it was raised up again! Jesus died as payment for our sins, but death did not have the final word. He conquered death and is alive today.

Just as Paul said to those on that ship, I repeat to you, Christian: “Keep up your courage, because not one of you will be lost.”

“And this is the will of him who sent me, that I shall lose none of all those he has given me, but raise them up at the last day.” John 6:39

If you don’t know and trust Jesus, won’t you today? Why should you be lost when only the ship need be destroyed? The warning is very clear, unless you stay with the ship, unless you put your trust in Jesus, you cannot be saved. Won’t you trust in Him today?