June 16th, 2004



Salvation is easy for us, because it cost God so much. But the exhibiting of salvation in my life is difficult. God saves a person, fills him with the Holy Spirit, and then says, in effect, "Now you work it out in your life, and be faithful to Me, even though the nature of everything around you is to cause you to be unfaithful." And Jesus says to us, "...I have called you friends...." Remain faithful to your Friend, and remember that His honor is at stake in your bodily life.

Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest (16 June,"'Will You Lay Down Your Life?'")

Deeply thankful this morning for God's gentle, consistent lovingkindness with me. My discipline, especially spiritually, has been awful for a while. Acting that way is somewhere between foolishness and madness. Yet the Lord of all Creation, who has every right to demand my obedience or to pour out wrath on me for my sin, simply bids me to come to Him. The One who could condemn me, woos me. I want to learn to spend time with Him again.

Saw Saved! with John yesterday afternoon. I expected to get a big kick out of it, and in some ways I did, but I was surprised by the ways it left me literally sick to my stomach. The broad criticisms and incisive satire weren't the problem at all—in fact, these elements were hilarious to me. But the underlying premises and message were seriously misleading in significant respects. Overall, the film painted a world where Jesus continually failed people, where their efforts to ask His will and seek it, from hero and villain alike, resulted in gross misunderstanding and tragedy. It was a world where there really weren't any answers at all, His place in it filled only with clichés or absence, where He was for whatever reason silent, and the best anyone could hope for is to muddle through with the help of friends and family.

That's not true. He's not absent, no matter how far the Church and Christian culture may have strayed. And the major questions and dilemmas the characters struggled with called for the laying down of their lives, the yielding of their rights to themselves and trusting in Him. No one did that; it didn't even seem like a valid option. The sense of brokenness and alienation, the need for loving community—these are true things. But there is good news—gospel—and a ministry of reconciliation between God and us, and between us, that was represented as impotent and ultimately absent.

Community Group was just what I needed after that—a living, breathing, active, loving picture of what it looks like for people not only to seek Him together here on Earth, but to know the living, breathing, active, loving presence and ministry of Christ through the Holy Spirit. He is with us, ministering in and through us. Life is more than a struggle, and following Him is more than a guessing game. It was a perfect time to begin looking at Acts together, to see how He was active in His church after His resurrection and learn how He is still at work. By grace we are witnesses and recipients of this.
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