Tag Archives: new creation

That Could Still Be Me

Yesterday I received a phone call from someone I was involved with in my past.   It’s been nearly three years and this came as quite a shock.  I’m not sure how she found my number.   The conversation was short and one-sided. My side.   I told her that the person she thinks she is calling no longer exists and that she should never call or contact me again.   Ever.   And I hung up.   Later I told my wife all about it.   She figured this would happen sooner or later and hugged me and thanked me for telling her.  All is well at home.

The most haunting, frightful thought for me surrounding that phone call was this:  That could still be me.    Three years later this person is still seeking thrills over a phone line, consumed with lust and chained to fleshly desires.   It’s a living hell which I know all too well.   And but for the grace of God, that could still be me.  

Last night my wife and I gave thanks to God for this reminder of where we once were and where we are today.   Perhaps I was in need of a reminder of what God has saved me from and the ridiculousness of it all.   Because it really is, you know?    God made something so wonderful and yet millions of us settle for a cheaper, fake model.   We are fixated by pixels on a screen or a voice on a phone line or a stranger in a hotel.   AND NONE OF IT IS GOOD ENOUGH.    More is always desired and necessary and yet the itch never stops.   It’s absolutely ridiculous.   Yet at the same time it seems like the most powerful, intoxicating, necessary thing  and we can fathom nothing better, in heaven or earth.   Such is the pull and delusion of sin.  

Indeed, as Augustine said, our hearts are restless until they find their rest in Thee, O God.

I was shaken by the thought that that could still be me.  Three years later I could still be a slave to my desires and passions, ruled by my flesh, no doubt divorced, alone, estranged from my kids and family, wanting nothing more than a cold pizza for breakfast and an internet connection.    That could still be me.

But thanks be to God, who in Christ Jesus broke the chains of the devil in my life and set my heart and mind free!   It is a wonderful thing to be able to say, “The man you seek no longer exists.”    God has made good on his promise to make a “new creation” (2 Cor. 5:17)!   The old has passed away, behold, the new has come !

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If you are where I was three years ago, and where she is still today, think about where your life will be three years from now if you continue on the path you are on.   All your best thinking has brought you to this point, and you have to admit it’s ridiculous and a mess.     Will you accept the offer of life that Jesus extends to you even now?    He loves you madly, and has gone to great lengths to prove this to you!   The fact that you are reading this now is a sign of His mercy on your life.    He is trying to break through the delusion of your sin and bring you to a place where you can, as though for the first time in your life, hear His words – pure words – afresh and new.      Matthew 4: 16 says,

For those dwelling in the region and shadow of death, on them a light has dawned.

You have been there long enough, haven’t you?   Do you wish to be there still in three years?    It only gets darker and more hellish, my friend.

This morning during morning prayer time my wife and I prayed for that woman who called.   We prayed that God would flood her with need-filling mercy, that He would save her soul, that He would open her heart to receive the good news that Jesus more than satisfies and can do far more than we can even ask or imagine (Eph. 3:20).    It’s the same prayer we pray for you, dear reader, every day.    In three years time may you, too, be able to say, that could still be me, but thanks be to God, it is no longer I!

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Can You Really Change?

Today was a monumental day for me.  This morning I sat in a room full of pastors who would vote as to whether or not I should move forward in the ordination process as a United Methodist pastor.   It is nothing short of a miracle that this would even be a consideration.   That they voted unanimously to advance me forward is a testament to God’s ability to do the impossible.  

During my time in the “hot seat” this morning I was asked what my life is like today compared to before, and whether or not I consider going back to my addiction.    It is so awesome to be able to say along with Paul that my old self has been crucified with Christ, and it is no longer I that live but Christ in me.    Am I perfect?  By no means.  I still struggle with things like pride and selfishness – I still battle with wanting my way.    But by God’s grace even that battle is not the struggle it once was.   

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Pastor Jeff Colon, President of Pure Life, wrote the following article called, “Can I Really Change?”    I recommend it to anyone who stumbled on this blog, whether you are struggling with habitual sin/addiction or know someone who is.     I remember a few years ago thinking that it was impossible to change.    How wrong I was!   The words from one of my favorite hymns are true:

He breaks the power of canceled sin,
He sets the prisoner free;
His blood can make the foulest clean,
His blood availed for me.

This can – and should! – be every person’s testimony.   Nothing is impossible with God!   You are not destined to live a defeated Christian existence.    If God can set this sinner free, God can set anyone free.  

Can you really change?   YES!  Praise be to God!

 

New town, new church, new creation!

It’s been awhile since my last post.   A month ago our family moved to the other side of the Tennessee River to Dayton where I have been appointed to serve as pastor at Mountain View United Methodist Church.    I’m in awe of the power of God to do far more than I could ever think or imagine.   The promise He gave me 2 years ago while at Pure Life, that if I would surrender everything and walk in obedience to His word He would restore everything the locusts (my sin) have eaten (Joel 2:25), has been realized.   That we are here today, ministering to God’s people in God’s church, is a testament to the faithfulness of God to do the impossible.     I’ve never felt so full and free as I do today and I’m excited for the opportunity to share at every opportunity I have the transforming, resurrecting power of Jesus Christ.   He makes all things new!

That was the theme of my first sermon at Mountain View.   It’s my testimony.   It’s what God wants to do for anyone who will humble themselves and cry out.   He will do it for you!   May God’s mercy fill your every need, and may this word provide you with hope.

No Longer I

“For if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature.” For our Lord Jesus Christ came for this very reason, that he might change, and renew, and create afresh this soul that had been perverted by vile affections, tempering it with his own Divine Spirit. He came to work a new mind, a new soul, and new eyes, new ears, new spiritual tongue; yea, to make them that believe in him new men, that he might pour into them the new wine, which is his Spirit.

This is from Macarius in his Homilies, an Eastern Church Father whom John Wesley admired and employed often in his thinking.

It resonates with me because it expounds on one of my favorite Scriptures, 2 Cor. 5:17:

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.

In the margin of my Bible next to that verse I have written:

God does not want to make me better, but new.

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New!   The person who puts their entire self under the blood of Christ will not rise up a better version of their old self but a completely new one!    So radically, so fundamentally, does Christ make a change in our hearts that you are no longer you, but Christ in you, the hope of glory.

There is a story about Saint Augustine following his conversion where he passed by one of his former mistresses on the street.    Seeing him walk by she yelled after him, “Augustine, it is I!”    Without turning back Augustine replied, “Yes, but it is no longer I!”

Augustine had been made new.    Jesus said that for any of us to see the kingdom of God we must be born again (John 3).   Tragically, we have far too many people who have come to God to be made better but refuse to be born again!   They refuse to be made new.

If you are beset with sins and habits which you are convinced you cannot shake I have good news for you.   When you come to God broken and open for His cure, willing to obey His words before all others, willing to lay down your old life not to ever take it up again, you will walk away a new creation.   You will be born again.   His promise is sure and true.   The dead are still being raised by Jesus.   I know this to be true because I was once a dead man…..but God!   Thanks be to God I am no longer I.

God doesn’t want to make you better, but new!   Praise God!