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Friday, February 26, 2010

Have A Heart . . .

Jesus never said "I am the way, the law, and the life" because the law cannot free us while at the same time condemning us. You cannot tell a man he is free as you continue to sentence him to death.

Truth sets us free because it reconciles the law to redemption.

The law is not part of the Gospel. It's the entire reason why the Gospel is needed.

Some have asked "Isn't the Law the heart of the Gospel?" and "Didn't Jesus come to fulfill the Law?"

I don't think the Law is the heart of the Gospel. I do think it is most certainly the mirror God uses to show us our condition without Him.

I think that the heart of the Gospel is Love. Matthew 24 talks about this when Jesus says that the entire Law hinges on loving God and each other. ...

The law hinges on the Gospel. Not the other way around. In fact, we could word it as such . . . the heart of the Law is the Gospel.

For without the Gospel, the Law has no heart at all.

So, I guess one could say that Christ fulfilled the Law by giving it what it lacked . . . a heart.


© Copyright Derek Hickman 2010

Thursday, February 18, 2010

My Letter to Shawna Taylor

Hello Shawna,

I'm a youth pastor here in Winchester. I, along with many members of my youth group, have been saddened to hear of your death. I don't know you, but I know our paths have probably crossed at DQ many times!

I took the opportunity to look at your facebook wall today.

I’m amazed.

Your death seems so senseless and tragic, and to our limited view, it is exactly that.

But I’m noticing, as I scroll down the dozens of comments left on your wall, that there’s something much more going on here . . .

So many of us, as teenagers, live life far from where God wants to place us.

But you didn’t.

A life lived well leaves a legacy and an impact that death cannot steal or destroy. Right now we mourn, we ask “why”, and we remember your smiles and the way you were.

Your legacy, however, will be what your LIFE gave us, not what your death was about. Death IS senseless and tragic, but strangely irrelevant and small when compared to LIFE’s grand, eternal picture.

Your LIFE is what we remember. Your LIFE is what gives your loved ones hope for a grand reunion. Your LIFE is what changes our focus to what matters. Your LIFE is what inspires us to live like you did.

What an amazing achievement . . .

Thank you for living.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

There's A Deeper Life . . .

There's a deeper life, there's a higher call
There's a giant sleeping in us all
There's a God who gives rest to the soul
There's a deeper life than the one we know

I was recently reading Mark 9:14-24, where Jesus turns his attention to a crowd of people who are obviously in a moment of chaos and confusion. Jesus goes to them and asks what is going on, and a man steps forward and says, “Teacher, I brought you my son, possessed with a spirit which makes him mute; and whenever it seizes him, it slams him to the ground and he foams at the mouth, and grinds his teeth and stiffens out. I told Your disciples to cast it out, and they could not do it."

Jesus chides his disciples for not being prayed up enough to cast the demon out, then turns his attention to the father for the largest part of what follows. He asked him, "How long has this been happening to him (the son)?" And he said, "From childhood. It has often thrown him both into the fire and into the water to destroy him. But if You can do anything, take pity on us and help us!"

And Jesus said to him, " 'If You can?' All things are possible to him who believes." Immediately the boy's father cried out and said, "I do believe; help my unbelief."

This father figure embodies where I'm at on my journey.

“I brought you my son” . . . the real question was not whether he believed. he already believed. There’s no other reason he would have bothered to bring his son to them, unless he believed there was a chance for healing. His real crisis was accepting that it would be real for him, that God would even want to meet his need.

It actually doesn't seem too hopeful at first, does it?

“I told Your disciples to cast it out, and they could not do it” . . . The miracle didn’t happen. You could say that his first attempt at faith failed miserably. Nothing but more of the same bondage and failure.

Have you been there? To be honest, I am there right now. Sometimes I am overwhelmed by the difficult circumstances that my family and I face, and right now, this story hits close to home! Sometimes the curse of ministry is that you have to struggle alone; that you have to constantly have the right answers and attitude. We have to be the strong ones, they say.

I’m not strong right now. Honestly, I’m beat down, depressed, and feeling like a massive failure. My struggle isn't even close to the anguish this man felt, but when you consistently fail at something, no matter how small, it grinds at you. We all struggle with unbelief, and I’m just like this father who has believed, but is now looking at a wall of confusion. I’m the man who musters up the courage to bring my need to Providence. I’m that man who is waiting for the miracle, and nothing is happening. Nothing but more of the same . . .

I sympathize with that father. He must have been so frustrated! Scripture says that the commotion was so great that it caught Jesus’ attention.

This is a guy who’s incredulous! He’s seen miracles all around him. He knew that this Rabbi, this Teacher, had the solution to his problem. Jesus was constantly healing and casting out demons for others, so why not him?

He had tried so long to provide for his family, for his hurting son. He had summoned the strength and courage to endure the stares and ostracism as he carried his shaking boy through the crowds of people, working his way to where Jesus was, stopping occasionally to hold his son while he seized . . . keeping him from hurting himself or others.

He had belief. He goes through all of that to get to the disciples. His belief carries him so far, all the way to the inner circle . . . just to be told “I’m sorry, it’s not working for some reason!” Can you imagine the humiliation?

He lost it.

Can we blame him? If this was all of the story, I would give up. I’d throw in the towel because I couldn’t take the realization that providence is preferential – that somehow I didn’t qualify.

But that’s not the end of the story.

Thank God.

This wounded soul lost it, but that doesn’t mean he was giving up, and that is the lesson learned here. It would have been easy to accept that he wasn’t worthy. we all do, to a certain degree.

But there was no way he was quitting after all he had just gone through, after carrying his son, enduring the comments, and seeing the devastation the enemy was causing.

No way.

He was going to have his say, and he was going to find answers. He was NOT going to be satisfied with “I’m sorry, it’s not working for some reason”!

So he stood his ground. He demanded an audience.

And God showed up.

Where does your faith take you? To Sunday School? To Church? To Counseling? To Accountability Group? To Scripture?

Those are such good resources for our progress, but understand this clearly:

There will come a day when our faith is taken to a place of discomfort, to a place of darkness, and to a place of doubt.

You will feel alone.

You will feel unworthy.

You will wonder where God went.

Take heart and grit your teeth. Stand your ground. Demand an audience. In our dark places, sometimes we fail to see what is right in front of us . . . a door.

This is the door of the Deep.

This is where God takes us to the end of struggle, and to the beginning of rest. This is where He waits for us to call out, to stand our ground, to cause a commotion!

Romans 12:12 says "Rejoice in hope, be patient in suffering, persevere in prayer".

James 1:2-3 - "Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance, for perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything".

Does God want us to be halfway filled, halfway effective, or halfway redeemed?

No, He doesn't.

Our pain is our path to progress. He is faithful to complete us, in the work He calls us to do.

We just have to persevere, to stand our ground, to remain faithful, and to demand an audience.

This is when God shows up.

This where we surrender our spiritual inferiority and put on His infinite worth.

This is where Belief no longer stands on a precipice.

Here, in the dark, I'm reaching for the door . . .

Join me.

© Copyright Derek Hickman 2010