The New and Living Way

crossEmotional faith is the inward psychological feeling of trust we have for God. Emotional faith encompasses a hope which is more than mere wishing, and a peace which is greater than mere serenity.

Faith is the assurance of things hoped for (Hebrews 11:1). The hope of the Christian is unique. Christians do not hope that they might be good enough to be accepted and rewarded by God. Their hope is in Christ alone.

In other religions there is no real assurance of a reward from God(s). This is because in every other religion human being must work to attain the desired goal. Muslims believe that God places each persons’ deeds on a scale, and if the good outweighs the bad they can enter Paradise. Zen  Buddhists seek enlightenment through meditation. Hindus seek first kama (pleasure), artha(wealth and power), dharma (duty), and ultimately moksha (spiritual liberation), each goal progressively greater than the next.

At what point can it be said with any certainty that any person is good enough? Have you ever met a Buddhist that had reached enlightenment? A Muslim with certainty of paradise? A Hindu who achieved moksha?

Even in the Bible, God’s people under the old covenant tried to please God by living according to the law of Moses, following the rituals of their forefathers and trying to atone for their sins by the blood of bulls, goats, and doves. God had commanded the Israelites to live according to these laws, but it was never his intention that the law could be used as a way to earn His favor. Instead, it was a prophetic foreshadowing of the coming Messiah, Jesus of Nazareth, who was God in human form, tempted as all people yet without sin. His perfect righteousness made it possible for Him to be the true Passover Lamb whose sacrificial blood takes away the sins of the world.

For since the law has but a shadow of the good things to come instead of the true form of these realities, it can never, by the same sacrifices that are continually offered every year, make perfect those who draw near. Otherwise, would they not have ceased to be offered, since the worshipers, having once been cleansed, would no longer have any consciousness of sins? But in these sacrifices there is a reminder of sins every year.  For it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins.

Consequently, when Christ came into the world, he said,

“Sacrifices and offerings you have not desired,

    but a body have you prepared for me;

 in burnt offerings and sin offerings
you have taken no pleasure.
Then I said, ‘Behold, I have come to do your will, O God,
as it is written of me in the scroll of the book.’”

When he said above, “You have neither desired nor taken pleasure in sacrifices and offerings and burnt offerings and sin offerings” (these are offered according to the law), then he added, “Behold, I have come to do your will.” He does away with the first in order to establish the second. And by that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.

 And every priest stands daily at his service, offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins.  But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God, waiting from that time until his enemies should be made a footstool for his feet.  For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified.

 And the Holy Spirit also bears witness to us; for after saying,

 “This is the covenant that I will make with them

    after those days, declares the Lord:

I will put my laws on their hearts,

    and write them on their minds,”

 then he adds,

“I will remember their sins and their lawless deeds no more.”

Where there is forgiveness of these, there is no longer any offering for sin.

Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus,  by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh,  and since we have a great priest over the house of God,  let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.

– Hebrews 10:1-22, ESV

Since the Christian hope is not grounded in what they have done or failed to do, but in what Jesus of Nazareth did once and for all, there is true assurance of salvation from the curse of sin and death. That is why God’s grace is so amazing! It liberates the believer from trying to do anything to appease God. Because of the finished work of Jesus, grace is poured out on undeserving sinner. That is real hope. It is more than a wish that you or I can be good enough–Christ our righteousness is more than good enough. That is real peace. We can have peace with God forever through faith in Jesus.

~ Jared Abbott

Legacy

 passing-torchFrank and I talk a lot about this word. Both of us came from broken, damaged, diseased and addicted legacies. Looking at our earthly treasures in our children, our desire is to leave behind a strong, unwavering, Godly legacy.

We understand that everyone has their junk, we have junk. To pass on a legacy, however, is so much more than just the junk the we must all sift through. You can understand the kind of legacy I’m referring to. The kind to find identity in. The one that covers your existence with purpose, worth and value. It’s the kind of legacy that, at the end of your life’s journey you were proud to be a part of it. You are proud to pass it on.
My prayer is to give my children this privilege. Do you find yourself thinking on these things as well? Let’s ask the Holy Spirit to guide our endeavors. To lay the ground work for a strong foundation. Then to give us the boldness, faith and strength to walk the walk and live out this legacy.
One of my favorite songs is sung by Nichole Nordeman. I’m going to leave you with the lyrics that have brought tears to my eyes and pride in my heart so many times.

~Kristy

“I don’t mind if you’ve got something nice to say about me ! And I enjoy an accolade like the rest
You could take my picture and hang it in a gallery
Of all who’s who and so-n-so’s that used to be the best ! At such’n’such … it wouldn’t matter much

I won’t lie, it feels alright to see your name in lights
We all need an ‘Atta boy’ or ‘Atta girl’
But in the end I’d like to hang my hat on more besides
The temporary trappings of this world
I want to leave a legacy
How will they remember me?
Did I choose to love? Did I point to You enough
To make a mark on things?
I want to leave an offering
A child of mercy and grace who
blessed your name unapologetically
And leave that kind of legacy
I don’t have to look too far or too long awhile
To make a lengthly list of all that I enjoy
It’s an accumulating trinket and a treasure pile
Where moth and rust, thieves and such will soon enough destroy!
Not well traveled, not well read, not well-to-do or well bred
Just want to hear instead, “Well Done” good and faithful one…”

A New Adventure

UntitledYep, it is indeed April fools day, and as I was searching for a topic to share, I realized that this is the most proper day to start this blog.  First, it is April, second, I’ve been playing the fool.  As this years unfolds, I am in the process of starting a new business and as I began this new adventure I was surprised that the whole,thing was moving quickly and smoothly and it seemed that God was opening doors in all directions.

Well, of course that was short lived.  As is usually the case, little things that alone seemed insignificant starting popping up.  Work starting crowding me for the time I need to put this thing together, one of our dogs starting experiencing renal failure (that translates into having pee pads throughout the house), then Suzanne’s car starting a downward slide.

I’m not so naive as to expect smooth sailing all the time.  I’m also not strong enough to attempt this on my own without my Father beside me.  But I did slip when I stopped depending on His guidance and tried to do it all myself.

As I tried to be strong and tough it out, my old friends anger and negativity showed up, and I let them in.  I call them old friends because although I have denounced them and have been forgiven for the sins I’ve committed because of them, they are always resting just within reach waiting on me to crack open the door and here they come.  If you have stink bugs right now you will know what I mean.  It takes constant work to keep them at bay.

Everyone has these times, I’ve got that, this is one of the hard truths we as Christ followers know will come.  Just is.  The real measurement for almost anything worth doing in life is not how we respond to the good times, that’s easy, it is how we respond to the hard times.  Again, no new ground covered here, but when I respond poorly to the tough times, I’ve got no excuse.  I have a loving Father God to lean on, to hold tight to and to be calmed by.  My funky mood kicks in when I get so caught up in my own foolishness that I act like I forgot that He is there.

I’m no youngster, I’ve got the years behind me and I’m not remotely new to this faith thing.  Sometimes I simply drop the ball and act the fool.  I should know better, I should be always prepared for these times.  But, as a fallible mortal, I’m no different than anyone else in that I’m pretty sure I can fix things myself.  I take pride in having been able to tough out some ugly times, to succeed against the odds and overcome.  That’s the point, I was only able to overcome with the grace and love of my Father God, without Him, I am nothing, period.

I think that by sharing my weakness and failure with Him, I become ultimately stronger and closer to the God I so love.  This goes against everything that this earthly world represents.  I was raised to be a strong independent man, not showing weakness or vulnerability, the husband and father, the worker, the friend who always comes through.  Guys will understand this, we don’t like to let our guard down, when we do we feel naked and useless.  And that is exactly how we should come before God when it starts to get tough.

I am having to become more like a child to become more like a man.  As I embark on this adventure my Father has invited me on, I am reminded of how Christ sent His disciples out, with no change of clothes, money or weapons.  He sent them out guarded and guided by the Holy Spirit, that was enough.  Too often when I get involved in life and the struggles of each day, I have failed to stop and be thankful for all that my Father, through His Son, has done for me and give thanks.  I’m gonna try and not make that mistake again, and yes I said try.  Because even if I again slip and fall, I’ve got a Father to pick me up, dust me off and send me back into the fray.  Always.

It’s not April fools day now, and I’m feeling more focused and excited about my new adventure, not because I’m the strong independent guy I’ve tried to prove that I was, but because I’m the son of a Heavenly Father who sent His Son to take my place on the cross.  He is guiding, I am following, I am nothing without Him and that makes me a stronger man.

A Prayer

Prayer_SunsetOn March 19th, I had the pleasure of being allowed to go over to the Loudon County Jail to minister to the inmates who could make it to chapel. The other days a week the recreation room is just that, but on those Thursday nights, it’s church. Every time I’ve been there God always shows up in a miraculous way. This particular evening, God showed up in the beauty of a prisoner’s poem. A poem that was suggested to be shared here. ~ Brad

A Prayer

I pray for new eyes that I can see

The beauty the Lord has laid out to be

I pray for new ears that I may hear

the music of angels as they come near

I pray for a new voice that I may say

how wonderful the Lord has been on this glorious day

I pray for new breath that I may breathe

the breath of life that God has given to me

I pray for a new mind so that I may know

the wonder of God as the knowledge He gives me

continues to grow.

I pray for a new heart that I may feel

The love of my God within me is real

I pray for new feet that I may run to my Lord

It’s always amazing when He says welcome aboard

I pray for new hands to work for the good

It’s the will of the Father as it’s understood

I pray for a new body to gather around

The body of Christ is Heavenly bound

I pray for a new life to serve for my Master

Not one that leads to further disaster

I pray for a new spirit that it may discern

To hear from my God is my only concern

I pray for a new type of love

That can only come from my Father above

Who Said Life Was Fair?

father-holding-babies-handDuring the past few weeks, I’ve been fighting a nasty illness.  I thought it to be a common chest cold, something I believed I’d conquered before leaving town to see my son graduate a long military course {a once in a lifetime affair}.  Within two days of travelling, I found myself in the ER with a high temperature and diagnosis of sepsis and pneumonia.  NOTwhat I’d planned!  I was upset and angry with myself and with God.

After crying out and complaining to God a bit about how many times I’ve been sick when something important in the lives of my family or friends has come along, He spent time reminding me that He is in control, and His purposes are higher than mine or anyone else’s plans.  He had things He needed to accomplish through this series of events, perhaps in the lives of those around me at that time.  It put me in mind of a line from “The Princess Bride” where Peter Falk {the Grandpa} says to his grandson, “Who said life was fair?  Where is that written?”

No, life is not fair, but our walk with Jesus isn’t about things being fair, understandable, or even doable.  Our walk is about the minute by minute decisions of dependence on His strength alone to do His will, the miracle of His invited intervention in our lives.  That is what makes His plans for us doable.  On that very simplicity hangs the balance of our faith and our walk.  We cannot often see past His robes, or even more than a step in the path in front of us; nonetheless, holding onto His hand is the only thing we are responsible to do.  He will watch our steps, our journey, and guard our hearts from harm, provided we look to Him for everything at every turn.  As the popular song goes, “Don’t believe me, just watch!”

“He Himself will deliver you from the hunter’s net, from the destructive plague.  He will cover you with His feathers; you will take refuge under His wings.  His faithfulness will be a protective shield.  You will not fear the terror of the night, the arrow that flies by day, the plague that stalks in the darkness, or the pestilence that ravages at noon.”  

Psalm 91:3-6 CSB

“Don’t worry about anything, but in everything, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God.  And the peace of God, which surpasses every thought, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

Phillippians 4: 6-7 CSB

We humans have a need for worship built into the very fabric of our minds, hearts, and souls.  No matter what we worship, for we all worship what is first in our hearts, it is a fundamental part of who we are.  When we worship God only by placing each passing decision and moment into His hands, trusting in His wisdom and care, we can live successful lives no matter what it looks like on the surface through human eyes.  Life does not need to be fair in order for us to live successfully; we only need the assurance of His guidance through holding His hand through each step.

 

Denise

Flexible Expectations

66293_1636160152834_1485882_nHave you ever tried to put God in a box? You’re probably thinking to yourself, “Well, that’s just nonsense. One cannot put the almighty God in a box!” But isn’t that kind of what we do with our expectations of Him sometimes? We have these ideals in our mind of how and when God should act. We envision His blessings coming in certain form or by certain means. With our human intellect and our human emotions, we create a sort of containment system in our mind of how we think God will or should operate, essentially telling Him, “This is what I want/need, and this is how and when I want You to deliver.” However, this never changes Him; it just leads to disappointment or frustration on our end.

We cannot expect God to operate within the confines of our rigid expectations. He’s too big for that. That’s one of the many things I find so beautiful about having a relationship with Him. And truthfully, I do not think I could revere and worship a God who allowed me to set the parameters for His mode of operation.

I think sometimes we need to remind ourselves of who God is–that His greatness and wisdom far exceeds what we can ever truly comprehend, and that no matter what, He is always good. Maybe He doesn’t always do things the way you think they should be done, but maybe because of His infinite wisdom and love, He knows what is best for you (that’s cliche, yes, but truth, nonetheless). Keeping this in mind and allowing our expectations to be a bit more flexible, we might just find ourselves a little less disappointed, a little less worried, and a lot more grateful and trusting of our Heavenly Father.

~Alanna

” ‘For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways,’ ” declares the Lord. ” ‘As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the shower and bread for the water, so is My word that goes out from My mouth: it will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it. You will go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and hills will burst into song before you, and all the trees of the fields will clap their hands.’ ” Isaiah 55:8-12

#TheLuminousLife

Leesa Rains talks about her thoughts on John 8:12 “Jesus spoke to the people once more and said, “I am the light of the world. If you follow me, you won’t have to walk in darkness, because you will have the light that leads to life.””

Join us at Canvas Church for Resurrection Sunday, 11am April 5th, 2015. 201 N B ST, Lenoir City, TN.

A Response to Grace in Words

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