Paul says we Christians are running a race. Here's what I'm looking at on my run toward Christ.

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Fighting for Faith

My grandma is in the I.C.U.

Things at the moment are not good.  I won't get into the details, but she's sedated and on a ventilator in critical condition.

My grandma, my Mimi, has been like this since this Monday.  Just last Wednesday she was visiting Christine and me and eating a big steak at the diner.  This has all happened so fast that we don't know how to feel.

Things are not good.

This morning I read Psalm 107.

"Give thanks to the LORD, for He is good;
His love endures forever." Psalm 107:1

I trust that what I read this morning is true.  I trust that God is good, that He is the very definition of good.  I trust that His love endures forever and that He is the very definition of love.  I do trust God and I'm trusting that whatever happens with my grandma will be a expression of my God's goodness and unending love, but it's a fight.

I can hear right now in my mind my Mimi singing "God is so good, God is so good, God is so good.  He's so good to me."  I've repeated Psalm 107:1 over and over this morning in prayer because I am fighting for faith.  Fighting for faith to believe that God is good and loving.

My grandma is still in the I.C.U. as I type this.  She's doing worse today than she ever has.

"Give thanks to the LORD, for He is good;
His love endures forever."

How is this God's goodness?  How is this God's love?

I don't know.

I'm praying that God heals my Mimi.  I'm praying that I see His goodness and eternal love in healing.  I want this badly and so does my entire family.

I'm also praying for faith.  Faith that trusts God's goodness and love no matter how things turn out.  I'm praying this for myself and my family and my grandma.

Please pray this for us, too.  Pray that God would choose to heal my grandma and pray that God would give us supreme trust in Him today.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Adding to the Noise

I'll admit upfront that I'm adding to the noise.

Everyone knows now about the tragedy in Orlando.  50 dead including the murderer and 53 injured in a gay night club called Pulse.

As someone who hosts a morning radio show I've been here before.  Unfortunately, even though I'm young, I've become very familiar with how to host a morning show the days after a mass murder.  I know how to transition from the tragic to the trivial.  I shouldn't have this much experience in this dark matter, but I do.

That being said, I'm not here to add to the noise of those who claim to be experts on how to fix this.  I'm not an expert and I won't pretend to be in this post.  I don't know how to keep this from happening again.

However, I do want to offer a few pieces of advice to Christians about things we need to keep in mind following this horrific tragedy.

1) Christians, we must grieve with the gay community.

The Bible tells us to weep with those who weep.  Right now there are 50 moms, 50 dads, hundreds of siblings and thousands of friends who will never see their loved one again.  We must weep with those people.  But we must also weep with the so called L.B.G.T.Q. community as well.  Right now that community is scared.  That community is deeply saddened because 49 people were killed and 53 people injured and they were targeted because they were at a gay night club.  Make no mistake, these people were mowed down with a gun because they were or might be gay.

Russell Moore, the president of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, has said this better than I can.  Please read his blog post.

2) Religious liberty only exists when all religions have liberty.

This murderer, terrorist, idiot... was a Muslim who appears to have been radicalized in the vein of I.S.I.S.  Because of fear of Muslims and people of Middle Eastern decent some people have rushed to violate the religious freedom of Muslims.  Donald Trump has called for a ban on Muslim immigration.  Some people, including a few ill advised pastors, are calling for F.B.I. surveillance of mosques and more.

Christians, we cannot support this.

Religious freedom is one of the bedrocks of our country.  It is one of the sweet blessings of living here.  Christians all around the world are meeting underground praying to one day obtain the religious freedom that we possess in the United States.  But if we allow one religious community's religious freedoms to be infringed upon we are laying the ground for our religious freedoms to be violated.

President Bush famously said after 9/11 that "We respect your faith... the enemy of America is not our many Muslim friends."

Today President Obama said this in response to Donald Trump's plan to ban Muslim immigrants and he's on point.

Some Christians may be wondering, "But Matt, what about what the Bible says about homosexuality?  And are you saying that Islam and Christianity are equal truths?"  The Bible makes clear statements about homosexuality but that should never keep us from treating anyone in the L.G.B.T.Q. community as people that are made in the image of God and deserve to be treated with dignity and respect.  And Islam and Christianity are not equal truths.  Everyone needs the Gospel; Jesus is the only way to the Father.  But as American citizens we must fight for the religious liberty of all.  If we treat Muslims as lesser today we will be treated as lesser one of these tomorrows.

I'm sorry for adding to the noise, but please grieve with the gay community and remember that religious liberty is a fragile ideal that must be protected today.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Beauty Wins the Beast

In 1991 Disney released Beauty and the Beast and in 2017 Emma Watson will star as Belle in a live action retelling of the classic story.  When Disney made the announcement that the new film was to be made people (including my wife) got very excited.  If you remember the '91 original you'll remember that throughout the film (unless you were a young boy like me who wanted to become a bison-man-beast) the audience is left wondering time and again why Belle, the beauty, would love a wretched beast who had little to no beauty on the inside or outside.

Sunday during at church I was left wondering a similar thing.

We sang the song "Jesus Thank You" and we got to the bridge when it hit me.  During the bridge we sing, "Lover of my soul.  I want to live for you."  I had to sit down because I was so struck by what I had just sang.  Lover of MY soul?  Lover of MY soul?  I want to live for you.

As I ponder/think about/gaze on the beauty of God I'm left with a great question.  When I consider His eternally perfect qualities and compare them to my own I can't help but ask perhaps one of the greatest question: How could God love me?  But then we all discover that our greatest problem is: How can I love God?

See, while God is the very definition of beauty, pre-conversion me was a hardened rebel.  While God's true North perfection was burning white hot, my soul's compass was fixed toward Hell.

This is much like Beauty and the Beast, Beauty has to win the Beast.  The one worthy of love in the movie had to sacrifice and be thought a fool by the rest of the town to win the heart of the Beast.  When the town was wondering "how could she love him?" she was working on making him love her.  This is strikingly similar to the Gospel.  The definition of beauty humbled Himself to win the hearts of beasts.

Ezekiel chapter 16 paints a more ugly picture of us to make this point, the book of Hosea paints a similarly disgusting picture of us and both to make the same point: God sought after and won the hearts of those who lacked any inner and/or outer beauty that could draw Him to them.

"But God demonstrates His love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us." Romans 5:8

But not only are we loved in this ultimate Beauty and the Beast story, but we're also loved in a Princess and the Frog way.  The lovely Royalty of royalty, the King of kings finds we toads and loves us.  He loves us in a metamorphic way that transforms us into princes and princesses ourselves.  Through His sanctifying and glorifying love He transforms us "from one degree of glory to another" into something really beautiful.  The King bends down to beautify the frog, warts and all, into a gorgeous queen.

How could God love me?  I truly don't know how or why.  How can I love God?  Only through the power of His love.

Give thanks that Beauty wins the Beast today.