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Tuesday, August 23, 2011

My MRI appointment and Contemplative Prayer

   What I learned while I was in a MRI machine this morning

"Man, I'm glad I'm not claustrophobic."
"Oh boy, maybe I am claustrophobic."
   While I was in a MRI machine this morning at Smith Northview Hospital, with the MRI doing its best impression of a bad "European disco-tech drum machine" pulsating through my ears for over forty-five minutes; I was trying to be still before the Lord and listen to His voice. While I was in the MRI machine and trying my best not to move or look at the small space above my head, I spent my time being still before God. But I asked myself; did it take a hurt lower back, 45 days of denial, and then a MRI appointment 48 hours later, to get me to the place of being quiet and still before God… unfortunately it did. You see, I am a person who loves to move, to be on the move, and sitting still, unless it involves watching Jack Bauer on "24" or Liz Lemon on "30 Rock," it does not appeal to me to sit still. I remember reading an article by Jim Baker, the television evangelist who was sent to prison, that during his stay in jail he spent an entire day with his son on the prison grounds. Before leaving, Jim's son told him that he had just spent the best day with his dad. Jim realized that it took God putting him in prison, to see what was really important in his life.
   I realized that I had been neglecting being still before God. Being still before the Lord to me is different than my normal prayer time. It is being calm, reflective and quieting myself before the Lord and listening to what God wants to tell me. Sometimes God will speak to us when we are still before Him and at other times He will just surround us with His presence.
   "Be still and know that I am God" Psalm 46:10
   What I felt God tell me when I was still before Him was that I cannot earn my way to heaven. I don't believe that one can enter into heaven by doing good things for the Lord, but I was, in my own way, still trying to earn my way to heaven. Salvation is a gift, a free gift. And due to the price of that gift, God's Son Jesus Christ dying on a cross for you and me, I cannot earn it. In fact, I can never begin to repay any part of it; it's too great a price. The price that was paid was an exchange of each person's sins for our salvation and restored relationship with our Father. To begin to think that we can ever earn that within ourselves is foolish and lessens the price that Jesus paid for us. I'm not saying that we need to stop doing well for others; I'm saying that salvation in and of itself is a free gift that must be willingly accepted by us, with no reservations and a thankful heart.

Monday, August 1, 2011

What I need to understand...

   What I need to understand is a forgiveness that transcends that time, understanding, and human reason. A forgiveness that was purchased through blood in the name of love for me. A love that requires my willingness to exchange my wrongs in exchange for One that committed no wrong but willingly gave up life and blood for a relationship with me. Such a love seems beyond human reasoning and intellect but is just as real and concrete as me. A love that harbors no resentment and keeps no record of wrongs suffered, of sins committed, but instead sees me pure, forgiven, and clothed in a wonderful place of grace and love. This is a love I commit to understand with my frail, human reasoning.
   Ephesians 1:7, He is so rich in kindness and grace that he purchased our freedom with the blood of his Son and forgave our sins.
   1 Corinthians 13: 4-5, Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.