Archive for the ‘Repentance’ Category



November 22, 2013

“Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline, so be zealous and repent.  Behold, I stand at the door and knock.  If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come into to him and eat with him, and he with me.  The one who conquers, I will grant to him to sit with me on my throne, as I also conquered and sat down with my Father on his throne.  He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”  Revelation 3:19-22

“I love you” manifests itself in a variety of pleasing forms when uttered in response to gratitude and appreciation.
“I love you” has a startling different appearance when declared in a warning.

Julian E… / / CC BY-NC-ND

Would it be “loving” for me to stand on the edge of the pool as my son thrashed through the water and simply watch him drown?
Would it be “loving” for me to speak words of affection and affirmation, spaced for those times when his head jerks above the surface in a gasp for air.

The loving response would be to reprove my son for not grabbing the pole that I have reached out to him.
The loving response would be to discipline him to learn how to swim.

We are attuned to recognizing the emotion of love in the context of relational harmony.  Love is hugs and kisses, fond family gatherings and reminiscing, feelings of warm emotion and happiness.  Songs are sung of this love.  Romance novels are written honoring this love.  Greeting cards fill store racks with sentiments of this love.

Love is harder to appreciate when it comes in the form of a warning. 

YanivG / / CC BY-NC-SA

I am distressed for those who define God’s love only in terms of warm affections and affirmations.  I am befuddled by those who refuse to hear the warnings of our Lord only as being judgmental, intolerant, and unloving.  Somehow, a belief has grown that true spiritual conquerors are individuals who love a god of their own definition, make it inside the walls of a church, or are spiritual in some sense.

The warnings that the Spirit spoke through John were to those within the church.  These were warnings to professing Christians.  I have listened and read many sermons regarding the applicability of these warnings to the churches of our time.  I was inclined to join my voice to the choir, pointing to the reality of the continuing presence of these same attitudes in today’s Christianity.  Then I read,

He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. (Rev. 3:22)

Will I have an ear or am I just another voice?  Will I listen to what the Spirit says to these churches or will I ignore the plank in my own eye?  Will I submit myself to the love of God?  Will I submit to my Father’s reproof and discipline?


Church of Ephesus: 

Do I toil in patient endurance?
Do I bear with those who are evil?
Do I test teachers to determine if they are false?
Do I bear up for Christ’s name sake?
Do I grow weary in my faith?
Do I still have the love I had at first?

Church of Smyrna:

Am I willing to bear tribulation?
Am I willing to bear poverty for His name sake?
Am I willing to be slandered by those who hate my Lord?
Am I fearful of suffering?
Am I ready for the testing of my faith?

Worship/Skit- Grosvenor Pk, Saskatoon

Church of Pergamum:

How am I holding fast to the name of Christ?
How am I proclaiming my faith when opposed?
How am I opposing the heretic?
How am I protecting my brothers and sisters in Christ from the stumbling blocks of false teachers?

Church of Thyatira:

Are my works known?
Are my actions motivated by a love for God?
Are my steps reflecting my faith?
Are my steps following in patient endurance?
Are my works increasing?
Are my thoughts tolerant toward the sexual immorality in myself?
Are my opinions tolerant of the sexual immorality of others?
Are those who I allow to lead and teach me tolerant of the sexually immoral?
Are safeguards in place to allow me to hold fast to my savior?

Stuck in Customs / / CC BY-NC-SA

Church of Sardis

What is the pulse of my faith?
What is the completeness of my works complete in the sight of my God?
What am I remember?
What am I keeping?

Church of Philadelphia

Have I kept his word?
Have I denied his name?
Have I held fast?

Church of Laodicea

Is my spiritual temperature hot?
Is it cold?
Is my soul lukewarm and worthy of being spit out?
Is a love of riches and prosperity blinding me?

He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. (Rev. 3:22)

It is easy to bemoan the spiritual condition of the churches we attend.  However, I don’t believe these problems are with the churches.  The problems arise from the people who attend these churches and the leaders they choose to follow.

These warnings are for you and me.  I embrace these warnings even though I cannot answer them all like I would hope.  I am thankful for these warnings because they demonstrate God’s love for me.  God loves me.  God loves His Church.  The healing of my church starts with me.  It starts when I hear and respond to the warnings that the Spirit has for me.  If the children of God will hear these loving warnings and repent, God will heal our churches.  He will make us conquerors who will sit with Him on His throne if we heed His warnings.

Stuck in Customs / / CC BY-NC-SA

I don’t know what the future holds for the churches of America.  I pray that there will be repentance and a return to our Lord and Savior.  I feel powerless in the larger context of the church but that does not relieve me of responsibility.  I am still responsible for my soul and my family.  Therefore, I plan to follow the example of the faithful in the churches of Thyatira and Sardis

 But to the rest of you in Thyatira, who do not hold this teaching, who have not learned what some call the deep things of Satan, to you I say, I do not lay on you any other burden.  Only hold fast what you have until I come.  (Revelation 2:24)

 Yet you have still a few names in Sardis, people who have not soiled their garments, and they will walk with me in white, for they are worthy.  (Revelation 3:4)

 My encouragement for the faithful in the churches of this continent and the world is to hold fast.  Do not be lead astray by teachings that come from Satan.  Hold onto the teachings that we have been given in the Scriptures.  Hold fast because our Lord will return.  May we be found anxiously awaiting the bridegroom without anything to be held against us or our church.

PRAYER: O Lord, give me ears to hear your warnings.  Show me all that you may have against me.  Forgive me for all the ways that I fail like those in these churches that you warned.  Help me to hold fast.  Lead me in repentance.  Move me to turn to you in all things.  Enable me to walk by faith in white.   Keep me from soiling my garments.  I pray this in the precious name of your Son,  Jesus Christ.   Amen.



November 19, 2013

“Sow for yourselves righteousness; reap steadfast love; break up you fallow ground, for it is time to seek the Lord, that he may come and rain righteousness upon you.”  Hosea 10:12

Plowed  FieldOn Sunday, I bundled up for a morning run before Church.   I run along roads that crisscross farm ground.  The harvest has been reaped but the work is not done for these farmers.  Most of the fields were quiet on this Sunday morning but I could see acres of effort spanning out before me.  Fields that were full of corn, wheat, and mint a mere month ago have been plowed, furrowed, and sown for a winter crop.

I was reminded as I ran along these prepared fields that a harvest of value requires an effort in sowing.  It takes no effort to reap an invaluable harvest.  I own a fallow field.  I expended no effort on that field this year.  Yet, I got an incredible harvest of weeds that I will have to burn in the spring.  A harvest of value takes intention and effort.

If I want to harvest the steadfast love of my heavenly Father, then I need to be sowing righteousness.  That takes intention and effort.

There are several steps in the process of sowing for a harvest.  The two main steps involve preparing the soil and planting the seed.  We are told in Hosea that we will reap steadfast love when we plant the seed of righteousness into fallow ground that has been prepared – broken up.  However, man cannot do this process on his own.  No one is capable of both preparing the soil and planting the seed.

Dry harvest-field of Aegilops sp.

Just like a plow breaks apart hard fallow ground, repentance breaks open a person’s heart to allow the seed of righteousness to grow into a harvest of steadfast love.  The seed will never be planted into the hardened soil of an unrepentant heart.  Therefore, every person must come to the Father as a child, with a repentant and humble heart; a heart that has been broken by the reality of its own sin, recognizing its unrighteousness, and need for a Savior.

Man can come to God in repentance but he does not have what is needed to finish the sowing process.  He does not have the seed.  Our works cannot create a seed of righteousness.  God has the seed of eternal life.  God has to rain righteousness upon us .  God, in his grace and mercy, rains his righteousness down upon those who have been called in true repentance to the Son.  In them, in the good soil, the free gift of righteousness is planted through the blood of the Christ.

This is the good news of the Gospel of Jesus Christ presented long ago in the prophecies of the Old Testament.

Today, everyone sows to something.

Sow for yourselves righteousness; reap steadfast love. (Hosea 10:12)


For they sow the wind, and they shall reap the whirlwind. (Hosea 8:7)

The Pharisees tried to sow their own seed of righteousness.  They did not reap a harvest of steadfast love.  In fact, that was Christ’s criticism of the Pharisees.  They did not love God or God’s people.  They loved themselves and the religion that they had created, both of which were detestable to Christ.

But woe to you Pharisees!  For you tithe mint and rue and every herb, and neglect justice and the love of God.  These you ought to have done, without neglecting  others.  (Luke 11:42)

The result is that they…

…became detestable like the thing they loved. (Hosea 9:10b)

The Pharisees, like so many other people, sowed to the wind and reaped the whirlwind.

There is a harvest in everyone’s life.  There will be a harvest in my life.

It will be either a harvest of righteousness or a whirlwind of judgment.
We all will become like that which we love either righteous or detestable.

Corn field

It is so easy to forget to be sowing.  It is so easy to become lackadaisical about where we set our eyes and start to become focused more on this world than on God, the source of our righteousness, and then wonder why we do not feel the steadfast love of the Father.  We missed the harvest because we failed to sow.

We need to remember that a harvest of value takes intention and effort. 

We have been called to maintain repentant and humble hearts; hearts that stay broken and open to the work of the Spirit in our lives.  We are called to keep our eyes fixed on the things of the Spirit; acknowledging that the seed of righteousness, the fruit of the Spirit, continues to come from the grace and mercy of our heavenly Father.

May we be good and faithful farmers of our souls and reap the harvest of steadfast love.  What have you sown today?

PRAYER: O Lord, I am so inclined to wander.  I am so inclined to becoming proud and unrepentant.  Father, soften my heart.  Help me to stay focused on You in all that I do.  Make me a sower of righteousness.  Grant me a harvest of your steadfast love.  I pray this in the precious name of your Son,  Jesus Christ.   Amen.



September 22, 2013

“Then he said to me, ‘Son of man, have you seen what the elders of the house of Israel are doing in the dark, each in his room of pictures?’  For they say, ‘The Lord does not see us, the Lord has forsaken the land.’”  Ezekiel 8:12

English: Herb Knot Garden, University of Michi...

English: Herb Knot Garden, University of Michigan Matthaie Botanical Gardens, 1800 Dixboro Road, Superior Township, Michigan. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Walk with me my friend through the garden of my life.

A garden of one’s life takes many years to craft and nurture.  Through those years, a garden design has emerged from my life that has areas of contemplation, vistas and focal points.  My garden has a logical progression of hedges, trees, shrubbery and lawn that directs visitors through various garden rooms.  The accomplishments of life anchor these garden spaces supplemented by plantings of context to provide an interesting assortment of colors and texture.

Stroll through my garden and you will find that the intention of the design is to lead all back to the same area – the amphitheater of praise.  A large mound dominates this broad expanse. It is high and lifted up.  It stands above all other rooms and structures.  The amphitheater is open and inviting, providing clear vistas in all directions, and wonderfully bright.  The plantings and borders provide the shape of my personality to draw the eye to the single focal point of the garden.

English: Amphitheater of Porolissum

English: Amphitheater of Porolissum (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Upon the mound, my Savior stands.  He is alive and welcoming.  He is always in my amphitheater when I come.  I come to Him for comfort and direction.  I come to Him for love and correction.  I come to Him for knowledge and refreshment.  I come to Him directly.  I also stumble before Him inadvertently.  However, I always leave in praise.

The design of the garden of my life intends to guide myself and others to the same place for the same purpose, which is the praise of the King of kings.

English: Hidden shed Hidden brick shed by the ...

English: Hidden shed Hidden brick shed by the footpath. Don’t think it’s used though it is in an overgrown garden. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Walk further with me.  Push through this wall of vegetation.  Pull back these branches and behold a secret entrance that is far away from the amphitheater.  It is an entrance to my secret gardens that have been hidden away from the eyes of others.  I have many of these entrances hidden away in my garden.

We must let our eyes adjust to the darkness of these hidden gardens.  Allow me to guide you through this dark labyrinth of weeds and thorns.  You will see many small rooms tucked in the secluded corners and off narrow corridors.

Each room has a mound in the center upon which stands a different statue.  There are no vistas from these rooms.  They are not inviting nor are they welcoming.  These rooms have tall walls and thick overgrowth that cover their created purpose.  Each statue is the focal point of their room.  In discontent, I come to these rooms to drink from the intoxicating pool that these rooms promise.  Each room promises to fulfill my indwelling desires and wants, the only condition is that I worship there.

Walk with me into these secret rooms:

This statue has been created in my own image.  I come to this room when I feel good about myself.  I come here when I feel bad about myself.  The praise of others drives me before this statue as does criticism.  The tug of my own boot straps often lands me upon my knees before this statue.  Let us walk some more…

This is a statue of others.  Notice all of the nice things that they have.  Look closely at all of the abilities that they possess.  Do you see how much they are liked and appreciated?  I come here when I am aware of what I don’t have.  I linger in this room while I focus on what could have been.  Discontentment has given me long nights of worship before this statue.  Let us walk some more…

This is a statue of all that satisfies.  It is a statue of images carved in the stony fabric of my life.  There are innumerable images within this statue, many of which are covered by the prickly vines of neglect.  I often discover new objects of worship as I pull back the overgrowth that has long hidden my secret remedies to the pain of life.  The pint of ice cream and case of beer are carved into the wall.  The cheesecake and bag of caramels are there.  If you look closely, you will see the images of hobbies, entertainment and the distraction of sport, all prominently featured.  I come here when I am depressed and long to feel better.  When I have been overwhelmed and seeking an escape, I sat  before this statue in mindless worship, not even realizing what I was doing.  Let us walk some more…

This is a statue that promises every bodily pleasure.  Isn’t she beautiful?  She is a statue of unnatural proportions and unrealistic expectations without a face.  A slightest hint of the erotic will send me here.  A glimpse of the inappropriate will entice me to bow down.  A lingering glance is all that it takes to inflame natural passions into unnatural directions.  The modern harlot takes on many manifestations that are so easily accessible in this secret room.  When obedience becomes oppressive and self-control a theory, I have often found myself in front of this harlot in degrading worship.  Let us walk some more…

This is a scary statue.  It is the image of my rage.  All that is the opposite of love is represented in that image.  My outright anger and hate is there but if you look close you will see all of my gossip, back-biting, unkindness, indifference, scheming and deceitfulness.  This is a very ugly statue.  When I refuse to forgive, this is where I go.  Those times when wrath was allowed to freely flow across my tongue, it was a proclamation of praise within this room.  All of those times when I have been hurtful and unloving, this is the statue I kneeled before.  Let us walk some more…

 This is a statue of a dollar bill but it represents so much more than currency.  This is a statue to all my desire for material wealth and gain.  This is the statue for the lifestyle of the rich and famous.  This is the room for all those day dreams of winning the lottery.  This is the statue for payday’s discontentment.  All the worries of tomorrow’s retirement find their home here.  I have found myself here when I have debated how much to put in the offering plate.  Generosities constraints have often been formulated within this room.  My love of money is really the worship of this statue.  Let us walk some more…

This is a statue of my couch.  Here is the comfortable confines of omission.  This is where I go when I know that I should do something but just don’t feel like it.  I come here when I am tired.  I have come when I am simply fed up.  I have spent significant periods before this statue with the justification that I don’t have sufficient calling to move away.  My refusals to do what I know the Bible tells me to do were really just worship of this statue.

I think that is enough walking.  I wanted to take you through these secret gardens of mine because I believe that we all have them in some sense.  There are attitude and actions that we do in private that no one else can see.  Those are our secret gardens.  However, they are not secret from God.

These gardens must be continually destroyed because they keep us from the presence of Christ and worship of Him.  We may think that they are gone but they have an insidious way of growing back and drawing us away.  Therefore, we must vigilent in seeking them out and destroying them as they are revealed to us.

We do that through the power of the Spirit and repentance.  As the Spirit reveals the false gods of our hidden worship, we must repent and return to the amphitheater of Christ.

When our Lord and Master Jesus Christ said, “Repent” (Mt 4:17), he willed the entire life of believers to be one of repentance.  Martin Luther

Our entire life should be spent in destroying these secret gardens (repentance) and cultivating a garden of praise to our Lord and Savior.

What is the design of the garden of your life?

PRAYER: Lord, forgive me for my worship of these false gods.  Forgive me for wandering away from your presence and returning to the vomit of my former life.  Lord, I want to worship you and you alone.  Create in me a heart of worship that seeks only you.  I pray this in the precious name of your Son,  Jesus Christ.   Amen.



May 27, 2013

“Let us walk properly as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and sensuality, not in quarreling and jealously.  But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires.”  Romans 13:13-14

I have a century (100 miles) bicycle ride coming up way too fast and I am not ready.  I have not had the time to ride any distance greater than 34 miles.  So, I was determined to solve that problem yesterday.  I went for an early morning ride on a route that would garner me 60 miles.  I left my driveway with the sun still coming into its full light.  There were dark clouds in three directions but I figured that I would risk it.

It was a beautiful ride.  There were no cars on the road at that time of morning.  I had the countryside to myself.  The cool morning kept the sweat from my eyes as giant clouds paced me through the undulating hillsides.  It was so quiet that the songs of the birds created a melody with the rhythm of my breathing and the turning of my bike chain.  The words of Matt Chandler and then John Piper were preached from my ipod straight into my mind.  The Word they expounded was confirmed in my soul as I beheld the glory of God in the delicate wild flowers along the fence lines and the power in the gathering storm clouds.

My ride was going so well.  I passed through the town that marked my halfway point and began pedaling the return leg of my long loop.  I felt good.  I was still attacking the climbs and powering through the flats.  I was maintaining a respectable 18.5 mph/ average.  I had not had to stop.  My confidence in being able to do a century ride was rising with each pedal stroke.

I held my crouch with my forearms firmly on my aero-bars as I pushed to better my average speed.  I passed over pavement that had recently been wetted by a light shower.  I craned my neck to see what clouds lay ahead of me.  It did not look very promising.  However, I did not have many choices at that point.  My route was set.  I had decided to head out this morning with threatening clouds so this was not much of a surprise.  Home and rest lay ahead.  So, I had to just keep pedaling.  I was feeling good and my average speed was still 18.4 mph.  I rode through the last town of my route.  I had about 7 miles to go.  No problem.

English: Corn blowing in the wind

English: Corn blowing in the wind (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It hit me just as I passed beyond the city limits and into the open farmland.  A brutal headwind that stretched flags and bent trees had taken possession of the land that a mere 3 hours earlier had been so pleasant and tranquil.  I geared down and hunched over to try offering the wind the least amount of opposing surface area as it flowed into my face.  My neck began to ache.  My thighs began to cramp.  My eyes dried out.  My heart was evaporating as quickly as my speed.  I struggled to keep a 13 mph pace.  I mourned the loss of my 18 mph average.  I just wanted this once enjoyable ride to be over.  I thought about calling my wife to come pick me up.  I could not do that – I was just 5 miles out.  I could make it but it was no longer fun.  I no longer felt good.  I no longer felt strong.  I was being spent at an alarming rate as I pushed through this wind.

Dave Zabriskie attacking the final 3 kilometer...

Dave Zabriskie attacking the final 3 kilometers of the USA Cycling Pro Individual Time Trial Championship in Greenville, SC. Zabriskie won the US title when defending champion Chris Baldwin fell on the course’s last corner. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I finally made it back to my driveway.  I did not feel very good.  I felt a little sick.  However, I was very thankful that I had spent the time that morning to clamp my aero-bars back onto my bike.  My aero-bars had helped me get home by giving that wind the least provision of holding me back.  It would have be so much worse if I had been forced to ride upright.  I was disappointed because the wind had affected me, slowed my average to 17.8 mph and stole the joy of my ride.

That wind makes me think of my flesh.  My sinful desires so often feel like a brutal headwind.  I will be feeling confident in my spiritual walk.  I will be feeling so good and strong.  My joy will be overflowing and no distance will seem insurmountable.

I will turn into the headwind of my own flesh and my pace and optimism will be spent in a matter of moments.

The truly frustrating part is that this headwind is usually of my own making.  I know where the dark clouds of my life are.  I know where the storms reside.  I know where I am particularly weak and susceptible.  I am well aware of where I have stumbled in the past.  I know the routes that hold the headwind of my own sinful desires.

I usually end up bucking a spiritual headwind because I have turned into it.  God has promised us a route around every temptation.  We are not required to ride through our own sin.  There is a route that God has paved that will protect us from the headwind of our flesh.  Every provision for sin that I allow in my life is a road sign directing me to a lie.  It is a lie that I sometimes believe.  It is a route that has always led to difficulty and pain.  It is a route that has ground me to a near halt.  It has stolen my joy and expended my strength.

English: Blowing in the wind Lonely daffodils ...

English: Blowing in the wind Lonely daffodils on the River Trent embankment. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The good news is that I have never been abandoned because of poor routes that I have taken along the way.  We can still ride through the headwind of our failings.  God will still give us strength to overcome the powerful resistance of our sinful desires.  He will guide us back to the safe route and into the light.  When we find ourselves confronted with the headwind of our flesh, then we need to hunker down to give it the least area for it to cling to us.  We do that by going to our knees in repentance, preaching the gospel to ourselves, believing the promises of our Redeemer.  We cut off the powerful headwind of our flesh by eliminating all the provisions for it in our lives.  We are told to not give any provision for the flesh in our lives.  Every area of our lives that we expose to the gratification of our sinful desires is an area for sin to cling to and hold us back in our sanctification. God has paved a way for us that is easy, with a burden that is light.  May we not believe the lies of our flesh.  There is no lasting pleasure in the gratification of our flesh.  We have been given a narrow road to glory that already has many challenges.  Let’s not add a headwind of our making to the challenge of our daily walk.

PRAYER: Lord, thank you for never abandoning me.  I know that I allow too many provisions for sin in my life.  Show them to me.  Teach me to kill the sin that resides in me.  Thank you for always providing me with an escape from my sinful desires.  Thank you for always providing me a route home to You when I have taken the wrong route.  Father, complete the work that You have started in me.  I pray this in the precious name of your Son, Jesus Christ.   Amen.



January 29, 2013

“for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith.” Romans 3:23-24

There is one redeeming fact about snow – skiing.  Yesterday, my family and I got to do that glorious activity for the first time this year.  It was an absolute blast.  However, our day almost got off to a rough start.

The mountain is about two hours from our home so we have to get going early on a ski day.  Alarms rang out through our home and everyone surprisingly started moving without much door banging.  We pretty quickly had our gear stored in the van, electronic devices were all powered up, an adequate supply of CD’s were gathered, coffee mugs topped off, Costco muffins in hand and we were jettisoning ourselves out of the driveway on our way to a winter playground.

There are several small towns along the way that annoyingly increase our travel time.  Upon exiting the city-limits of the second town, we saw what no traveler wants to see in their rear-view mirror; flashing lights.  My initial thought was that I just needed to get over to let this brave responder speed onto whatever emergency was calling.  My indignation raised when the lights slowed and the car pulled in behind me; “You have GOT to be kidding me,” were the words I chose to express my displeasure.

Police car emergency lighting fixtures switche...

Police car emergency lighting fixtures switched on. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The police officer greeted me with a blinding light to my face and notified me of my wrong doing.  I had done the grievous offense of actually rolling through an intersection under the yellow-light of a traffic signal.  The officer acknowledged that I was doing the speed limit. He acknowledged that the light was yellow when I entered the intersection and turned red only when I was fully in the middle of the intersection.  However, he felt that I should have tried to stop.

I was trying to summons all of my poker-face will-power to maintain an expression of innocence all the while I was thinking,

“Come ON; this is ridiculous – THAT is not even illegal.”

I dutifully gave the officer my license, registration, and proof of insurance.  He sauntered back to his police cruiser to determine if I was a “wanted man.”  A few minutes of lost travel time later, the officer came back to my window with the words that I was hoping to hear, “Mr. Blom, I am going to let you go with a warning.”  He talked on after that opening sentence about the hazards of yellow-lights, blah, blah, blah.  I had already determined that the reason he didn’t give me a citation was because he couldn’t – “Let me go; Really”.  He was going to see me again in court if he had given me a ticket so “letting me go” was good for all of us.

The police officer had shown me grace by letting me go with a warning but I definitely was not very appreciative.  I grounded away at my Costco muffin and slurped my coffee as I contemplated the arrogance of that officer for the next 30 miles.   As far as I was concerned, his grace saved me from nothing more than having to come back to this little town to plead my case in front of the county judge.  I was sure that I would win because “I had done nothing wrong.”

At about mile 31, I realized that my attitude was pretty bad.  I realized that I was acting in a very similar way as many people do toward God’s grace.  They don’t feel like they need it.  After all, “they have done nothing wrong.”  We Christians talk a lot about sin and the resulting judgment.  We quote the Bible verses about how if you hate someone, then you have committed murder; if you lust, then you have committed adultery.

Many people think or actually say, “Come ON; this is ridiculous – THAT is not even illegal.”

This is why the gospel is so offensive to many.  They don’t believe that they have done anything that is deserving of a punishment; particularly a punishment like hell.

These folks will typically admit that they may not be perfect but that they are mostly good.  They are not criminals; they haven’t hurt anyone; they love their families; they are responsible; they have done more good things than really bad things.  They are in the intersection of life on a “yellow” at the absolute worse and that is not illegal – they don’t need grace.  Grace is just a manipulative device of arrogant religious people who want to feel better than everyone else.

There are many people who are offended by the arrogance of Christ’s grace for something that they don’t think they really need.  Grace is of no value when you don’t think that you have done anything wrong.  It’s a “yellow” after all. The only ones who need that kind of grace are the ones who have lived life in the “red.”

There is an attempt by some to make the gospel more palatable by emphasizing that being born-again will make your life better.  It is an attempt to make the gospel less offensive by removing the issue of repentance.  A person will never have to face the issue of their sin and condemnation if they are presented with a faith that will make their life better.  The problem is that faith based on a better life devalues grace and can be easily tossed aside if it doesn’t work.  No one will appreciate the grace shown by our Savior if they don’t believe that they really need it.

True faith has to start with repentance.  Perseverance is grounded in the understanding that we need to be shown grace.  Jesus did not come to make this life better. He did not give us a parachute to make our flight through life more comfortable.  He gave us a parachute because this life is going to crash and burn and we need to be saved.  Repentance is an acknowledgment that I actually do need a Savior. It is a demonstration of the belief that our judgment is not ridiculous and that the way we have been living is against God’s law and is worthy of eternal punishment.

I discovered something disturbing after a quick Google search upon my return from our ski trip.  It actually is illegal to enter an intersection on a “yellow.”  According to the legal code that I read, “A driver facing a steady yellow arrow signal… is thereby warned that the related right of way is being terminated. Unless entering the intersection to make a movement permitted by another signal, a driver facing a steady yellow arrow signal shall stop at a clearly marked stop line…”   Hmmm, that was unexpected.  I have been running yellow-lights for a long time.  I didn’t realize that was illegal.  However, that doesn’t mean I haven’t been a chronic violator of the law.

That police officer had shown me grace. 

I feel a little foolish after all the ranting I did.  I feel like I should go back to that little town and give him a real apology; give him a real expression of my gratitude.  He had not been arrogant.  He had actually been giving me a warning and showing kindness to me and my family.

I am very thankful I had not openly rejected his grace, even though I didn’t really value it at the time.  If I had rejected his grace, I would have stood before a judge, plead my case, and lost.  I believe that will be the case for everyone, believers and unbelievers. I believe there will be so much of what we thought was safely “yellow” that will be revealed to us as still worthy of condemnation; that we are violators of God’s law even though we don’t realize it.  I think that we all will be amazed at the extent of grace that Christ has made available to us.  The issue that we all face is that we can’t grudgingly  accept God’s grace but not really value it.  If that police officer knew my heart, I am pretty sure I would have gotten a citation.  I deserved it after all.

God knows our hearts.  We can’t accept Christ as a safety net.  We either accept him as our Savior for our sins that we acknowledge are worthy of punishment or we don’t.

The grace that we have been shown is truly amazing.  It is amazing whether we appreciate it or not.  However, that grace must be received based on the purpose that it was provided – to save us.

PRAYER: Lord, thank you for your grace.  Thank you for having me pulled over yesterday to get the opportunity to contemplate your grace more.  Father, please forgive me for not appreciating the gift that you have given me like I should.  Your grace is truly amazing.  I cannot even comprehend what you have fully done for me.  Lord, continue your work of opening the eyes of this unbelieving world to their desperate need of a savior.  Father, continue to draw the lost to you; use me Lord to speak the truth of your grace and mercy to those who you are calling.    Amen

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