Thursday, December 21, 2006

Some Thoughts On Christmas

"When the Lord smelled the pleasing aroma, He said to Himself, 'I will never again curse the ground because of man, even though man's inclination is evil from his youth....'" (Genesis 8:21).

"Indeed, I was guilty when I was born; I was sinful when my mother conceived me." (Psalm 51:5).

"The wicked go astray from the womb; liars err from birth." (Psalm 58:3)

I thought of these verses while sitting in my parents' church at Christmas. As the preacher spoke I thought of these verses and about man. I can't help but contrast these verses and the Bible's description of man with the picture of Jesus presented in Revelation 5.

In Revelation 5, John sees a scroll with writing on the inside and on the back, sealed with seven seals (5:1). He soon finds out that no one can open the scroll or break its seals b/c no one is worthy. Upon realizing this he wept (5:2-4). No one was able, no one was worthy to open the scroll. There's not a person on earth nor a person in heaven who is worthy to open the scroll. As I read these words in church, I remembered the verses above and man's state. I remembered how he is wicked, how he is a liar from birth, and how his every inclination from his youth is evil. Of course no man can open the scroll. Who, then, can?

Revelation tells us:
Then one of the elders said to me, 'Stop crying. Look! The Lion from the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has been victorious so that He may open the scroll and its seven seals. Then I saw one like a slaughtered lamb standing between the throne and the four living creatures and among the elders....He came and took the scroll out of the right hand of the One seated on the throne. When He took the scroll, the four living creatures and the 24 elders fell down before the Lamb...And they sang a new

You are worthy to take the scroll
and to open its seals;
because You
were slaughtered,
and You redeemed people for God
Your blood
from every tribe and launguage
and people and nation.
them a kingdom
and priests to our God,
and they will reign on the
The Lamb who was slaughtered
is worthy
to receive power
and wisdom and strength
and honor and glory and
Blessing and honor and glory
and dominion
to the One
seated on the
and to the Lamb, forever and ever!
The four
living creatures
said, 'Amen,' and the elders fell down and worshipped (Rev

I am in awe of the difference between Jesus Christ and me. Could there be a bigger difference? Probably not. I am the liar. I am the cheater. I am the sinner from birth. But He is the Lamb who is worthy to take the scroll. He is the One slain from the foundation of the earth to take my place in death. He is the Most Holy Son who gave up His life for me so that I may live. He is everything. He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation (Col 1:15). He is the beginning (Col 1:18), He is the Word, He was the Word, and He was and is with God (John 1:1,2), He is the agent of creation (John 1:3) and He carried life in Him so that man might live (John 1:4). He is the radiance of God's glory, the exact espression of God's nature, and He sustains all things by His powerful word (Hebrews 1:4).

As I thought of these things at Christmas, I quickly realized that no present waiting under a tree could touch this. No thing I'd placed on a Christmas list could come close to this. As I sat in a dimly lit church warm with candle light & I thought, truly thought, about the difference between Christ and myself, I was overwhelmed. The resounding thought in my mind was, "Who is man that you are mindful of him? Who am I that you are mindful of me?" The greatness and the goodness of Christ is found in the answer to this question. He is mindful of me because I am His. I have truly never been so thankful for my salvation and for my relationship with Jesus as I was this Christmas.

Monday, September 11, 2006

My Testimony

Oh my... September is upon us. I cannot even describe how much I love the fall. Okay, I'll try. Cool air, no humidity, sweaters, hoodies, boots, riding with the windows down, blankets, red leaves, yellow leaves, the mountains, the beach house, Thanksgiving, Halloween, & FOOTBALL!
Also, this Fall is the 5th anniversary of 9/11. Can you believe it's been 5 years? Where were you that day? I was in my dorm at SEBTS skipping chapel (as usual) to try to finish some homework. My friend came running down the hall saying the first tower had been hit. We thought she was kidding. We turned on the tv & (I don't remember if I saw it live or not) saw the demise of the second tower. I left & went to class where we prayed for 1.5 hours for the survivors, those lost, their families, & our country. I remember the scary feel of the day. I also remember the overwhelming desire to go to NYC. I just had to go. Turns out, so did about 10 other students.
We loaded up that Friday & drove to the City. We got there late at night & stayed with some family of one of our fellow students. I don't think we even got to thank them b/c we were up and gone so early the next day. Anyway, we went to Union Square Park to prayer walk & to share the gospel. I have never in my life felt such a wall in a place. That's the only way to describe it. This huge wall that people had built up around themselves to keep the gospel out. I was astonished. We left that night (that's right -- it was a quick trip) & stayed in NJ. Then we drove back the next day. I can still see the people we spoke to, the memorials set up all over the city in futile hope of finding people from the top floors of the buildings or firefighters who ran in at the last minute. I can still see the wax from the candles dripping all over the concrete in various colors. The sun dripped through the leaves in the park, there was a cool crisp breeze, people were everywhere but nowhere at the same time.
So, what did I take away from my trip? I was literally petrified & overly emotional for weeks. Finally it all came to a head one day in the car. I was driving along wondering why people were so hard-hearted & what it meant to truly give your life to Christ. I was angry b/c I felt like I'd never actually been given a chance to do that (I grew up in a Southern Baptist church & was baptized @ 13 b/c I was afraid of the end of the world). I felt cheated & like I never even knew what I was getting myself into. One night in October I sat down with my roommate & told her all these things. She said to me, "I must ask, have you ever decided on your own, for yourself, to give your life and your heart to Christ?" I hadn't. I had tried to grandfather my way into heaven. I'd tried to work my way there &, quite honestly, to cheat my way there. What I learned through 9/11 is that none of my works, none of my deeds, none of my hopes were enough to get me to heaven. Isaiah tells us that all our deeds (even our best) are filthy rags before the Lord & Ephesians tells us that no one is saved by works but by grace alone. I was astonished to come to the realization that the reason I had felt so empty, the reason I'd mistreated so many people, the reason I'd been so afraid and so at war with myself is because I'd never known Christ. I'd lived so many days completely sinful & thinking I could save myself -- I'd had head knowledge of him but I'd never turned over my life to Him. So, in October 2001, I gave my life to Him & haven't looked back. That's not to say there hasn't been times of struggle, times of doubt, or times of wonder but He is faithful to me even when I am not to Him.
To all my friends who knew me before 2001, I apologize to you. I know I showed you a hypocritical "Christian". I know I showed you the stereotypical Bible-belt Baptist who is going to church on Sunday morning & living how ever she wants to the rest of the week. My prayer is to never be that way again! Who I was in high school & college was who I thought I should be. I thought I should act that way to present a Christian facade so that everyone would think I was living right. What I learned is that there's no such thing. Either you're for Christ or your against Him. That's what He says. There's no middle road, there's no thinking He's a good teacher. Either you believe & trust Him or you don't. I've also learned that, once you're saved, your days aren't filled with pleasure and devoid of worries. Paul described it best when he said it's a marathon. We're not devoid of the trials of life. Instead, we walk forward with the knowledge of a Savior greater than any problem or any task ahead of us. And we keep walking. Even when we become disenchanted with life. Even when we are tired. Even when we don't want to do it anymore. Even when we're running away from Christ. He stays with us.
I learned in fall 2001 who I was & who Christ is. I've learned that there's more to following Christ than just going to church & singing some songs. It's not a sprint. It's not a casual thing. It's a life-long marathon. Since then, I've learned that He's amazing and that He's passionate and that He's real. I think I've grown since then & look forward to continued growth. So, thanks for reading this long blog -- this time of year, this season, is always a reminder for me that the phoenix really can rise from the ashes.