Sunday, March 22, 2009

Impressions of God's Mercy and Grace

The last 24 hours (and a few moments of the Connecting Church and Home Conference) have been some hard times for me - good, but hard. Here - let me try and explain.
At the beginning of 2009 I asked God for a very specific prayer request. Some of you reading this know what that is - and no, He hasn't answered it. However, He has thrown some stuff in my face to show me areas in my life that aren't quite up to His standards. Here is the last 24 hours (and some of Friday and Saturday)...
1. Steve Wright (friend and student pastor at Providence in Raleigh) said this to close out his main session talk on Saturday morning:
See the gospel as the greatest thing. That God gets bigger, when the work of the Spirit gets mightier, when grace is more, when sin is uglier, when gospel roots go down deeper, when eternity gets louder. Keep this in mind: never let the gospel get smaller in your hearts.
This does not resonate with me right now. I make the gospel so light - only lip service right now it seems.
2. I was in the presence of some humility this weekend at the conference. And when you see it - then know it is absent in your life - you see how much God has to work in your life. I also was around some very prideful people this wknd. And I didn't like it. And that is unfortunately what people see in my life and they don't like it either.
3. Before all this - I've been in sin conversations (what are mine, where do I sin constantly and how is God working His grace into that sin to make it change for His glory) with some community. What a blessing they have been - even though I leave those sessions very beat up - I so need it. Am thankful for them.
4. A friend that I have known since middle school spoke truth and the harsh wonderful reality of TOTAL DEPRAVITY and how I say I believe that - but what is coming out of my mouth is all about me. I think that I am better for the world in Christ. Maybe not deep down in my soul - but maybe so. At least what comes out of my mouth and in my actions.
5. I was around a woman this weekend that exudes kindness and graciousness. I don't. Do I want to - yes. I don't know how. I honestly don't. I'm at a loss.
6. The song All Because of Jesus by Steve Fee - Cornerstone of Knoxville put some more verses to it. One line said he is my all in all. Yes, I know, very trite. But, that is where the tears started for me. I don't technically live that out. God is not enough for me. I seem to be enough for me right now.
7. Chris Tomlin's Amazing Grace. We sing that often at Crossing. But, at Cornerstone - with 1000 people singing it like they mean it - man...good stuff. But, the lines...
That saved a wretch like me - see number 4. I know this, but this morning I was stunned with the reality of it.
The Lord has promised good to me. His word my hope secures. He will my shield and portion be, as long as life endures. I have to know the Word. This is where my security lies - in God - not in who I am, who I know, what I do, what I've done, etc.
And like a flood His mercy rains Unending love, Amazing grace. I just wanted to stand there and let mercy rain down on me. Knowing the closeness of God. The impression of God. The depth of my sin - and believe I don't know it half nearly as good as He knows it.
8. The sermon was on 1 Cor 3 - part of it was - believers need to be humble. Really God - are you trying to get my attention? I hadn't noticed. Oh, the grace and mercy of God - how good He is to me.
9. My friend (as mentioned above) kept saying the word kindness over and over again in our conversation in the wee hours of this morning. Every time she said it - I thought of
Romans 2.4 - do you know that the kindness of God has led you to repentance? Great verse, I love it, know it - but I don't live it.
10. On the way home today I heard the song Empty Me by Jeremy Camp. Great stuff. Again, God - are you trying to say something:
Holy Fire burn away,
my desire for anything that is not of you and is of me,
I want more of you and less of me,
Empty me,Empty me,
Fill, won't you fill me, with you,
11. God - I can NOT do this on my own. You have to continue to cut away. You have to put people in my life who will speak harshly into it. I need it. Thank you for the community of believers.

That is just some of what God has broken and He will mend. God is a good and gracious out-pouring God. I was very thankful for friends this weekend, a chance to get out of Louisville, and Cornerstone of Knoxville. A church - that I believe - understands what it is like to live out the gospel, call sin sin, hold their members accountable, and proclaim the gospel in exuberant worship and expository preaching.

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