From “The Pilgrim’s Progress” | Morality Avoids the Cross

Upon Christian turning from the way, and turning to morality to relieve him of his sin, Evangelist corrects him with these words:

“The man that met thee is one Worldly-Wiseman, and rightly is he so called; partly, because he favoureth only the doctrine of this world (therefore he always goes to the town of Morality to church) and partly because he loveth that doctrine best, for it saveth him from the Cross; and because he is of this carnal temper, therefore he seeketh to prevent my ways, though right.

Now there are three things in this man’s counsel that thou must utterly abhor:

  1. His turning thee out of the way.
  2. His labouring to render the Cross odious to thee.
  3. And his setting thy feet in that way that leadeth unto the administration of death.

First, thou must abhor his turning thee out of the way; yea, and thine own consenting thereto: because this is to reject the counsel of God, for the sake of the counsel of a Worldly-Wiseman…

Secondly, thou must abhor his labouring to render the Cross odious unto thee; for thou art to prefer it before the treasures in Egypt…

Thirdly, thou must hate his setting of thy feet in the way that leadeth to the ministration of death. And for this thou must consider to whom he sent thee, and how unable that person was to deliver thee…He to whom thou was sent for ease, being by name Legality…this Legality therefore is not able to set thee free from thy burden…there is nothing in all this noise that thou hast heard of this sottish man, but a design to beguile thee of thy salvation, by turning thee from the way in which I had set thee.”

I knew that Morality and Legality make bad saviors, but what I had never thought of was the fact that pursuing them means I am simultaneously leaving the path which leads to/through the Cross. In pursuing these things, I am attempting to bypass the Cross and render it unnecessary to my salvation! This is the hideous truth of idolatry. Pursuing anything rather than Christ for redemption is the practice of denying the Cross and buying a lie.

Photo of the Week: Through the Trees

Austin, 2011

Lessons from 1 John (Part 1)

Chapter 1

1-4: Jesus was from the beginning, and made himself known to man by coming to earth

5-10: Jesus is truth (not a truth among many) and he is light; you are either in truth and light or you are not. Because he is truth, he is the standard by which your life is measured. We cannot use our life to measure his.

Chapter 2

1-6: Jesus did not sin, so we should not either. But when we do, he will advocate for us as the only righteous advocate.

7-11: The “old” command was to “…love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might” and ” (Deut. 6:5)…”love your neighbor as yourself…” (Lev. 19:18). The “new” command is the same as the old but with a new, severe warning: if you don’t do these things, it means you are not in the light (see note on 1:5-10, on light).

This new amendment to the old command is not for instruction on how to merit a relationship with the Father. It is a divine observation of the nature of the command. In other words, it is saying: “if you love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might and you love you neighbor as yourself, it is because you are in the light.” It is not saying: “If you do these things, then you will be in the light.”

Important distinction; severe warning.

12-14: An encouragement to believers at different stages.

Teens are not too cool…

I found this little gem recently on my old blog:

{dated April 3, 2009}

So, remember when you were a teenager and you’d be in public with your parents, which you secretly didn’t mind, but you didn’t want the world to know? And remember how you’d act like you were too cool for your parents if you saw a member of the other gender and you’d say something loud enough to your parents so that person knew you were too cool?

Well, about a week ago, I witnessed one of the greatest examples of this act…ever!

I was at the grocery store. I had stopped to search for my desired item. And, of course, the teenager and her mom turn the corner. This girl was frizzy-haired and pimply, not that there’s anything wrong with that…maybe there is. Back to the story…

The girl sees me right when her mom asks her a question. At this moment, the girl has to decide, in a matter of milliseconds, how she will respond and this is how it went down:

mom: hey, do you need any salt and pepper or anything?

girl: (looks at me then back at her mom, lowering an eyebrow) mom! i’ve never used salt and pepper in my life!

Salt and pepper?! Never? In your life??? I had to laugh and I immediately wrote the whole thing down on my grocery list. If it had been, sayyy, baking soda, that might have been alright. But salt and pepper??? Come on! Teens are NOT too cool…

The Parable of Tellson County Prison

A few months ago the challenge went out for The Eternal Footmen to re-write a parable. It may have taken me three months but I finally wrote my response. See below:

originally posted at The Eternal Footmen: here

The last cell of the east wing of Tellson County Prison was home to Paul Matheson. He was convicted and charged on three counts of child molestation, serving thirty years. No probation. No bail.

At night, the prison was as dimly lit as the souls of its residents, and the sound of Warden Bill Murphy chewing his tobacco played in stereo for the inmates, as he roamed the halls.

This prison had a reputation: offenders either came to die or be reborn. The Warden was feared, and rightly so, as he was known for his harsh, reforming ways. He trained the other officers never to look the prisoners in the eye; never call them by name; and never touch them unless by the end of an officer’s baton. To Bill Murphy and his unit, inmates were wild animals in need of breaking.

As one can imagine, the arrival of the prison twenty years earlier created a dramatic and seemingly unforgettable commotion among the neighboring towns. Some folks sold their homes and moved. Others remained but fearfully so, for the proximity of the prison was ominous. However, all fears disappeared into the shadow of Bill Murphy’s growing legacy as a persuasive arbiter of justice, a faithful churchgoer, and respected leader in the community.

Days fell from the calendar, and calendars from the wall, until July 14th of Paul Matheson’s thirtieth year in prison finally arrived. This was his scheduled release date – the day he would be “free.” But thirty years is a long time, and freedom seemed to be but a foreign concept to him.

Upon his release, he began scouring the newspapers looking for work, spending several months on the hunt before being hired as a hand for one of the local farmers. He kept mostly to himself but when he did speak it was about the transformation that happened during his time in prison – the story of his rebirth.

With soft eyes and a gentle smile, he would tell of how the grace found in Scriptures changed his heart one friendless night; and he eagerly celebrated the changing agent of grace that went where the severe rule of the Warden could not go, and change things the law could not change.

For the next eight years he enjoyed the labor, satisfied knowing he was helping the community; and he gladly told his story to any that would listen, until he passed away into obscurity one cool, summer night.

As the scandal of Paul Matheson grew dim in the collective memory of Tellson County, the Warden continued to publically capitalize on the depravity of his inmates for the sake of his antithetically clean reputation. Unfortunately, he was successful until the day he died, never aware of the shortcomings and criminal intentions of his own heart.

One man died. One man was reborn.

“To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everybody else, Jesus told this parable: ‘Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood up and prayed about himself: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men – robbers, evildoers, adulterers – or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’

But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’

I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.’”            

Luke 18:9-14 (NIV)