Our local church did a video for use in a recent marriage seminar where we talked about the role-reversal God has brought to us. The video also includes our engagement story. The testimony begins at the 11 minute mark.
I still enjoy basketball though God has not allowed me to play it anymore. In fact, ever since the brain injury, just watching a full basketball game is a pretty big chore. So, when this video popped-up on my Facebook feed I was interested. It appeared to be a short clip of an NBA game featuring a dunk by an athlete I had never heard of before. Come to find out the player was actually recruited and signed by the Utah Jazz. Take a look…
This was very classy of the NBA and the Jazz. What a thrill for J.P. to get to do this! He is a cancer patient who was allowed to have a thrill of a lifetime. The little boy’s joy reminds me of the future when I will get to stand before Christ. I’m thinking of the Bema Seat when God Himself will judge every believers life’s work. The Bible says, that God will bring to light every action and thought that we ever did – the good and the bad. Of course, Christians will not be condemned for the bad works. Those are already forgiven by Christ’s work on the cross and will be burned without reward (I Corinthians 3:13-15). The good deeds, however, will be rewarded both by rewards and …. something else that is actually very amazing. Here is the passage:
“Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord comes, who will both bring to light the hidden things of darkness and reveal the counsels of the hearts. Then each one’s praise will come from God.” – I Corinthians 4:5
So, God Himself will praise us! How can that be? After all, anything good in us is only because of Christ. On that day we will be praised for things that we really had NOTHING to do with.
Patience, love, perseverance and even true-joy is the Holy Spirit playing out Christ’s character in us (Gal. 5:22-25). When we witness, it is also a result of the Holy Spirit rehearsing God’s eternal plan through our mouths and lives. In the same manner, local church ministry is the Lord accomplishing HIS WILL (our sanctification) in HIS OWN BODY (the called out assembly) by means of HIS OWN words (the Holy Bible). Yet, though we had nothing to do with “our” own good works, the Lord will still give us the credit! Amazing.
Realizing these things will make the Bema seat humbling – no doubt! It will also be humbling to have all our actions brought to light and see how much was actually forgiven. So, it will be humbling, but I imagine it will also feel euphoric. Like the sweet boy in the video, perhaps we will feel an incredible joy because of receiving a true affirmation that we so long for! Very few people get to make a slam dunk in the NBA. Much less a short little boy. Can you imagine! Now, imagine the tall and strong omnipotent God telling us that we did good and giving us rewards even though we did absolutely nothing. Indeed, we are without strength talent and ability; yet, on the universe’s biggest stage our Heavenly Father will be giving us high fives all around (metaphorically speaking). It will be epic! Indeed, somehow ”...each ones praise will come from the Lord.”
Oh Lord, thank you for redeeming me and loving me. Thank you for Christ. Please change me and sanctify me. Help me to be rid of this sinful flesh along with its pleasures. May I be rid of everything in my life that will be useless in eternity. Instead, may your fruit be produced in me. May you allow me to be Christ-like in all I say, do and think. Help me to simply be well pleasing to You. Someday, may I hear you say, “Well done thou good and faithful servant.” Then, I and all the redeemed will praise Christ for eternity. After all, it was Him all along.
PS – I can’t help but to think that perhaps there are those who stumbled upon this blog post who are not sure where they will go when they die. Is that you? Here is what the Bibles says:
“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” – Romans 3:23
“For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” – Romans 6:23
“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.” – John 3:16
“That if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.” – Romans 10:9
May I ask you, do you know for sure where you will go when you die? If there has never been that moment in your life when you realized you were a sinner and placed your faith in Christ, then I encourage you to place your faith in Christ. Take your faith off of whatever you may have tried to do to get to heaven, and place it on what Christ has already done.
The Bible says that we cannot get to heaven by being good. Ephesians 2:8 says, “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works lest anyone should boast.”
Maybe you have more questions or doubts. If so, I would recommended reading the Bible. Maybe you are not even sure if the Bible is true!? That’s OK, I would encourage you to read the Bible anyway. The Bible will tell you much about your sin, the Savior and eternity. By the way, when you get into reading the Bible for the first time, the book of John is a great place to start.
Also, I would like to invite you to church. Of course, a church will not save you, but good churches are a place where the Bible is regularly and faithfully taught. If you don’t attend a good church, just ask! I or a friend who shared this post would love to invite you.
Bible-believing churches are made up of forgiven sinners. We try to please Jesus by what we say, do and think because we love HIm. “We love Him because He first loved us” (I John 4:19). In fact, the reason we shared this post with you is because we love you. Joy and forgiveness is so incredible that we can’t keep it to ourselves!
PPS – I love the Mario jingle in the video when they announce J.P. Gibson into the basketball game. Did you notice? How fun! My kids and I really enjoy playing Mario and know this song that plays at the end of the level when Mario leaps to the flagpole. Maybe this is what standing before Christ will be like for believers. The journey is hard and full of obstacles, but at the end we get to jump on the flagpole and see fireworks! Once we hit the flagpole the stages of this life will be done. Then the celebration of Christ begins.
This morning marks about the fourth Sunday in a row that health has not allowed me to church. I really really miss it. Though the church we attend is small and struggling, there is no substitute for that sense of encouragement and admonishment from fellow believers. When I was impacted by the delectable truths of my own personal devotions this morning (Romans 12 and 13) I was reminded of the main reason why I LOVE church – it is where the living words of God are heralded. Preaching! The exposition of God’s Word. There is something about the “foolishness” of preaching (I Cor 1:23) which is uniquely used to convince, rebuke and exhort believers (2 Tim 4:2)!
As I miss and ponder the church this morning, my heart is burdened to encourage you. May I encourage you? Here are a few thoughts:
1) Pour your life into your church – it is God’s design! I believe that one of the reason’s to have a career is to fund one’s involvement in their own local church.
- Is your pastor not perfect? Pray for him. God wants to change him and can! Pray every time you are tempted to complain.
- Is your church getting boring? Personally, I think rehearsing biblical truths is never boring, but necessary. Check your appetite for the Word instead. Then add some life yourself by your attitude and demeaner. Just one spark can spread!
- Is your church changing too much? Hang in there, do what you can to be involved. Pray for your leaders. I find that most ministers (myself included) get a little off-balanced at times. If the leader’s heart is close to God’s, then God will bring them back around and things usually even out. There is a point where churches do fundamentally change and choose to leave sound doctrine. May God give you discernment, just make sure that you have no attitude or edginess better defined as a “root of bitterness”. You cannot please God with this heart condition no matter what state your church is in.
2) Love the church as biblically defined – it WORKS when Scripture is followed. There is no greater design to disciple believers than the biblical model. When it does not work, it is usually the simple fault of un-dealt-with sin of its members, leaders, or both. The main thing you can do is to allow God’s Word to do the work as it penetrates you. As God changes you, your church will change!
3) Finally, THANK YOU! Thank you to those solid churches out there. Thank you to those who faithfully preach the Word and actively live it while leading others to do the same. Thank you for allowing Christ to live in a visible, worldwide body which is tangible in your local assembly. We miss you! We love you. We praise God for you.
Keep looking up and moving forward. Christ is coming back anytime. It will be worth it all.
A few months ago I had a bout with struggling for purpose. I was increasingly becoming discontent as I longed to have a life of active ministry as I did before I was physically disabled. In the emptiness I found myself searching, reading and pondering. All-the-while I felt empty inside. My heart longed for that elusive “secret” that would give me renewed resolve to make the most of my predicament. I tried several resolves. Each time though my physical limitations got in the way. Indeed despite my concerted effort God brought it to halt. You can imagine my growing frustration. The more I searched the more I hungered for the way life was (have you ever felt this way?). I lusted for a different “now” than what the now was giving me.
Then one morning, the Lord brought to mind the following passage:
“He has shown you, O man, what is good; And what does the Lord require of you But to do justly, To love mercy, And to walk humbly with your God?” – Micah 6:8
There it was! God’s purpose for my life was written there all along. I can’t tell you the encouragement the passage was to me. I have been thinking about this passage for a couple of months. You know, there are some truths here that can serve as a Northern star to guide all of us in our walks
Perhaps you are finding yourself at a crossroad. Maybe there are circumstances beyond your control in your life and you find yourself bewildered and without direction. Well, can I encourage you? In this passage (Micah 6:8) God gives direction. He tells us to…
1. Keep it Simple
In the passage, the prophet Micah is sent to proclaim judgement on Israel because there were lying prophets and wicked rulers. Israel was consequently facing conflicts with their enemies. Yet along with the message of punishment God tells them of the hope that can be theirs. He reminds them of the the future reign in Zion and the triumph and restoration which will come. By the time we get to chapter six, God is now pleading with Israel through His prophet. God is saying “Listen to me!” “This is what you need to do!”
Do you realize that the entire Christian life is narrowed down to this simple plea from God to His people? We often read endless books in order to discover the “brand new” insight into Christian living. It seems like every few years a well meaning expositor will introduce Christendom to a formula or a secret which catches on like wild fire in the church. The new concept, principle, or formula soon becomes old; however, and we then search for the next great church growth secret or formula for answered prayers. All the while God takes us back to what he has already said. Listen, no preacher author nor otherwise will ever have anything to say that is better than what God has already said. So God pleads with us just as He did to Israel through the prophet. “Have I not shown you?” It is as though he grabs us be the shoulders and turns us to look at what is already before us. “Just do this,” He pleads. “This is All I require of you!” Oh may we hear God’s plea.
May God forgive us for pursuing a thousand lesser things as though they were the main thing. We are often too busy doing what we think is good (or wishing to be able to be busy doing what we think is good in my case) and have lost sight of that which is required. We often attempt to make the Christian walk more complex or intellectually elusive than it is. May we just simply take God at his Word … and obey.
May God help us to keep it simple and..
2. Keep it Real
Indeed, God’s plea is simple that we sinfully try to complicate, but at the same time we can fall into the opposite trap. We can be so familiar with the commands that we fail to whole-heatedly pursue obedience to them.
These are simple requirements from God but at the same time they require a life-time of Bible study and spiritual struggle. Even with our full effort, we can only begin to explore the depth of what is required of us. All too often we are trivial at striving to grow in our walk with God. In our complacency we say “I’m doing all that is required of me.” when in reality we are lazily and sinfully taking advantage of grace.
I remember being really convicted in Bible College once when an evangelist was sent to chapel for a full week of revival meetings. It was spiritual emphases week – the first week of classes at Faith Baptist a bible College. Tom Farrell was the visiting speaker. You know, he can get pretty fiery and I remember sitting there as a Junior in Bible college thinking, “I don’t need revival!” After all, I was walking with The Lord. I had spent my summer sacrificially ministering for The Lord. I was “walking that line” and actually excited to dig into the studies and learn more about God and the Bible.
Then, during one sermon, Tom Farrell made a statement which was very convicting. He said something like, “If there has ever been a time in your life when you had a greater hunger for the Word, a higher standard of holiness or a greater love for souls than you have now; then you have back-sliden and need revival.”
God immediately convicted me. I had grown complacent. I was thinking that I was obeying well enough. Yet looking back my heart had gone astray and become arrogant.
Oh how sinful we are! Oh how easily our deceitful hearts can get off balance! May God help us to be 100 percent dedicated to these commands. May we passionately be searching his Word. Oh it is so easy to think that we are doing “well enough” in our Christian walks so that these principles are no longer vivid and real in our lives.
3. Keep it Going
As a response to God’s plea, Israel eventually cried out to God, (7:8-13) and God did hear and forgive them (7:13-20). I see a progression in this passage. After we have seen our miserable failure of keeping God’s simple command of doing what is just then we are at God’s mercy! Once they sought and found forgiveness there was only one thing they could do – walk with God again. The same is true with us. After we undeservingly taste God’s mercy then we have to brush-off and pick up where we left off. We start walking with God again but this time much more humbly. Thus Micah 6:8 says, “And to walk humbly with our God.”
God wants us to humbly and steadily walk with Him. No matter our circumstance and no matter the environment we find ourselves in – we can walk with God. God wants us to keep it going.
God says, “So you’ve messed up? – keep going.”
“Your shameful sin has found you out? Cling to mercy and be humbled. Then keep going.”
“You are completely overwhelmed and have no idea in which direction to go? I’m beside you,” God says, “just walk with me. I’ll show you.”
It has been about two years now since the doctors confirmed that the damage to my brain because of CO poisoning has resulted permeant defects. Before we exactly new the end-results Melissa and I were struggling but were still hopeful. I ran across an entry from my devotional journal written during that time…
Today’s Meditation – December 19, 2010
Well, unfortunately I am still not doing well. Cognition is not the best. Strength, balance, and coordination are still lacking. It is hard to be in that place between health and disability. There is no lasting strength to accomplish anything. On the other hand, there is no lasting weakness that merits complete rest. Yet, rest usually wins out as dizziness and weakness appears at any moment without warning. I short I have had a half of day of feeling just OK this week.
Uncertainty is commonplace as no-one can know for sure if these Carbon Monoxide caused effects are permanent or not. In other words there is no prognosis. The only prognosis that I have is that God is in control and that He ordains everything for His own wonderful purposes. This truth is enough to get me through each week, day and hour not matter how hard that may be.
My more recent struggles for purpose came because I had forgotten that truth that God reminded me two years ago on that day in December.
I do not know what you are going through. I have friends who are going through incredible trials much worse than my own. No matter the circumstance may I encourage you? God is in control and He ordains everything for His own wonderful purposes. This truth is enough to get us through each week, day and hour no matter how hard they may be.
So, when we’re struggling for direction, let’s start here: just do justly, love mercy and walk humbly with Him. Everything else will become clear in time.
The following video moved me and reminded me of my wife. Not every detail in our stories are the same, but nothing comes closer to relating to who my wife is and what she goes through since my accident with CO two & a half years ago and the subsequent effect that my disability has had on our life and marriage. Some differences are that the function of my brain is up & down and only is occasionally as far gone as the gentlemen’s in this video. The other major difference is that God has added three precious little kiddos in our story.
The bottom-line is that I praise the Lord for godly godly wives; but most of all for the GOD who gives them the sufficient grace that they depend on day in and day out. Thank you Melissa for being such a wonderful wife and mother. Thank you for taking care of me. Thank you for your unconditional love. I love you honey!
Note: I have not read the book that is being promoted, so I cannot give a recommendation. God bless!