Archive for the ‘Restoration’ Category

The movie ‘Gladiator’ is the story of a great general who becomes a slave, who challenges an emperor, and dies to restore Rome to its people. It’s fiction.

But there is a great story that is true, of One who was in the form of God, who did not count equality with God as something to be forcibly seized and exploited for personal gain; who instead emptied himself, disrobed his glory while retaining his identity, and took the form of a slave, that is, the likeness and appearance of a human, an incomprehensible self-abasement or lowering, the magnitude of which will require an eternity to grasp, a lowering of stature and of divine power and honor the likes of which will never again be known in the entirety of the cosmos.

And as if that were not enough, he abased himself a second time, to the point of an ignominious and excruciating death on the cross for the sins of the world, an experience so alien and divorced from existence in the Godhead as to render rational explanation meaningless.

This is the mind of Christ – the mind that treats others as more important than one’s self, that considers the interests of others over one’s own. The one who died to enable people to be restored to life (true life, abundant life), to, like Christ, ultimately triumph over death, to be restored to their Creator.

You want a story? That’s a story. A story to be told for all eternity to the praise and glory of God the Father.

— by Robert A.J. Gagnon with editing and addition by Jeff Wilson

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I recently finished reading “Out of the Ashes” by Anthony Esolen. Wow, what a fascinating, challenging and convicting read! I encourage any and all to read the book — but beware, it is not for the faint of heart nor those easily offended. Dr. Esolen is a man of learning and conviction, and his tone and some of his thoughts on culture and divine truth will put off some. He also tends to interrupt a line of thought for another line and it is up to the reader to determine how the thoughts are related to the immediate subject he is on at the time. Having said that, the author is largely accurate in his broad cultural analysis (if not always in the remedy, particularly regarding generalities on manhood and womanhood). The book has much to offer, and boldly and accurately state, regarding truth, beauty, education, God and man, how we rationalize evil and ugliness, and the need for ordinary people to be willing to resume the humanity that has often been lost (and how to do it). The last two chapters are classic and timeless! While the book is meant for more than the church, the universal church would do well to adapt what is discussed into how to recover its true mission and how to engage and influence by being distinct and thus true light.

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Awhile back, my son had done something wrong — probably not a huge thing in isolation, but troubling because it seemed to be becoming a potential habit.  As we talked about it, I could tell he was troubled and knew he was wrong.  But he wouldn’t admit that wrong nor seek my forgiveness.  It was difficult for me not to just say “Oh, it’s all right, don’t worry about it.”  It was difficult because I could see, as the hours passed, that he was very down, morose, quiet, had no appetite. It was guilt and my chastening that was having this effect.
Finally, I asked, “Is something bothering you?”  He nodded with tears in his eyes.  I asked him, “Are you bothered that things aren’t right between us.”  Again, he nodded with tears.  Then I asked, “What do you think you should do?”  And at that point, he confessed he was wrong and asked forgiveness — at which point I rushed over to him with my arms open wide and held him close.  I reminded him I loved him and would always love him and would forgive him always when he confessed and was truly sorry (a godly sorrow we might say :-)).  And I reminded him what repentance was really about — changing direction, acting differently in the future. Our relationship was restored — the effect on him was like night and day. Appetite returned, smiles returned — he knew he was forgiven and that he could count on my love.

Someone else had an experience like this — and at a much deeper level.  He tells of his experience in Psalms 51, 32, 130 and 103.  There is much to relate to and learn.

Key Points in Forgiveness/Restoration

Psalm 32:5 – “Then I acknowledged my sin to You and did not cover up my iniquity.  I said, ‘I will confess my transgressions to the Lord’ – and You forgave the guilt of my sin.” (NIV)

Psalm 51:17 – “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, You will not despise.”  (NIV)

Psalm 130:7-8 – “O [Jeff], put your hope in the Lord, for with the Lord is unfailing love and with Him is full redemption.  He Himself will redeem [Jeff] from all [his] sins.”  (NIV)

Psalm 103:11-12 – “For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is His love for those who [revere] Him, as far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us.”  (NIV)
These four Psalms contain so much truth regarding sin, forgiveness and restoration that bring hope, joy, and a deeper faith it is hard to know where to begin.
Perhaps the best place is with the fact that it is foolish to try to ignore or cover up our sins.  

Warren Wiersbe points out that “Guilt is to the conscience what pain is to the body: it tells us that something is wrong and must be made right, or things will get worse.”  David felt that guilt for some time as he tried to pretend everything was all right.  But he (David) describes vividly in Psalm 32 the effects of guilt and God’s chastening.  He became a physical and emotional wreck.  I can personally attest to such effects of ignoring sin and refusing to confess it to God (and, if needed, to others).  

But David, through this guilt (which is in itself a form of God’s grace and mercy) and God’s calling in it, does come back to God and confess his sin.  And from there, the wonder of God’s love and grace is well chronicled in these Psalms.

1) David is forgiven.  A burden is removed from David’s soul and psyche.   

2) David was cleansed and restored.  He was able to make a new start.  David was terrified that God would reject him.  But God responds to godly sorrow and a broken heart!  Truly, there are consequences of sin which cannot be eliminated, but God can and does renew and open new doors.

3) David wants to tell others of God’s grace and mercy and lead them home.  Forgiveness should result in a life with a new direction, a walking in the way of God and in accordance with His calling on our lives.  God doesn’t forgive us so we can go back to sinning.  Forgiveness is not a blessing to be taken lightly or for granted – it cost God His Son.  As Wiersbe reminds us: Salvation is a serious and costly transaction.

4) Renewal of a sense of joy, wonder and awe as a result of what God has done.  David had lost hope and lost freedom, but God restored the joy of his salvation.  The burden of sin was removed, the debt was paid (by another), and the record of sin blotted out.  If it were not, who could stand before God (Psalm 130:3)?

I, personally, have experienced the guilt, despair, depression and the wondering if I’ll ever be “good for anything or anyone” as a result of sin I have committed in my life.  I, like David, have been a physical and emotional wreck because of sin in my life.

How can I experience what David did?  When I, like David, cry out to God, confessing my sin with a repentant & broken heart — because of Christ’s blood, my faith in His death and resurrection, and God’s love for us — God the Father will bring forgiveness, healing, redemption, and renewal.

God is so wonderfully and mysteriously good!  The depth of His love seemingly beyond understanding and inscrutable.  May we truly put our hope in the Lord and His word and His Son — and experience the joy of restored relationship, renewed vigor, and deepened faith and hope because of His forgiveness and love for us.

Who am I, that the Lord of all the earth would care to know my name, would care to feel my hurt
Who am I, that the Bright and Morning Star would choose to light the way for my ever wandering heart
Who am I, that the eyes that see my sin would look on me with love and watch me rise again
Who am I, that the voice that calmed the sea would call out through the rain and calm the storm in me
Not because of who I am, but because of what You’ve done
Not because of what I’ve done, but because of who You are
I am a flower quickly fading here today and gone tomorrow
A wave tossed in the ocean, a vapor in the wind
Still You hear me when I’m calling, Lord, You catch me when I’m falling
And You’ve told me who I am — I am Yours, I am Yours
                                                                     — “Who Am I,”  by Casting Crowns

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