Tag Archives: grace

court is tomorrow, easter is today

I don’t get to be at home to preach on this fine Easter Sunday, so this is my version of a sermon. Really this is what I am thinking today, so you guys get to share in it. It is adoption related since that is how my mind works right now. We also have some court day thoughts mixed in here.

Adopted. It is who we are at our core if we are in Christ. We were predestined to be adopted according to God’s favor and will (Eph. 1:5). But the predestination in itself didn’t finish it. It established what was to come, and even settled it, but it had not yet come into effect.

But then came Jesus. Jesus. The one who would pay the debt for the sins of the world. Jesus. There is no sweeter name.

So many people, Christian and non-Christian alike, give lip-service to the name of Jesus. He was a good man. He helps us in life. He saves us and loves us. He was our example. He is who you need to “pray to receive.” In some ways he has become cliche and maybe even vintagey or possibly even cool in some weird, sick way to talk about. Not that Jesus being cool is a sick idea. To those who have been rescued from the kingdom of darkness he is very “cool.”

But honestly Jesus is not “cool.” John Piper says a good word about this in his book Don’t Waste Your Life, but cool is just too flippant and idiotic to call Jesus. He is the Savior. He is holy. He is the King of all kings, the God of all gods. He stands in judgment over the entire world and everything is laid bare before his eyes. Knowing who I am, that doesn’t sound cool. It sounds freaking scary. Like I would rather pee in my pants than give him an ongoing, dap, slap, shake, grab, snap, cool handshake.

But the glorious thing in that is that he knows who we are. He knew who we were when he chose us. He didn’t choose us because we impressed him or because he thought we might make good pastors, or church planters, or parents, or accountability partners. He knew we were wretched and gross and filthy with the guilt of our sin and that we would continue in it up until the day he saved us and only get slightly better about it afterward. He knew us before and knows us better than we know ourselves…and he saved us and called us, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace (2 Tim. 1:9). We are his because he chose us to be his, and he chose us to be his knowing exactly what he was getting and what he would need to do to make us who he wanted us to be.

He adopted us. And our adoption was not cheap. His grace to us was not cheap. It was costly…deep…overcoming.

He was pierced because of our transgressions, crushed because of our iniquities;
punishment for our peace was on Him, and we are healed by his wounds.
We all went astray like sheep; we all have turned to our own way;
and the Lord has punished Him for the iniquity of us all. Isaiah 53:5-6 

You were redeemed from your empty way of life inherited from the fathers, not with perishable things, like silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ. 1 Peter 1:18-19

Not sure we can live up to the standard of our own adoption in our adopting process. Not sure we can really even come close. But what we hope is that this process and the final outcome will be such a clear picture of the gospel to anyone who cares to observe it that they will rejoice in our own adoption as sons and daughters. The blood of Jesus is rich, and it changes everything. His resurrection gives us victory over death. Amen.

My sin, oh the bliss of this glorious thought,
My sin, not in part, but the whole,
Was nailed to the cross and I bear it no more.
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, oh my soul. 

Tomorrow we go to court. It has sobered us some. It’s a really big day. This is the day we have been working two years to get to. It’s tomorrow at 3pm. We have been working 2 long years to get to tomorrow at 3pm. How glorious is that? How stinking scared should we be. But we’re not. We’re nervous of course, but we are confident that the Lord will do what seems best to him, and we trust him.

Please pray.
1) that these 2-3 issues that we have been warned about will not come up or be minor, passing issues.
2) for peace in our hearts as we prepare and as we listen and speak.
3) for favor and a soft heart in the judge.
4) for clarity and favor as we make our statements to the judge.
5) for all the details that will go into tomorrow by a lot of people.
6) for approval.

Thank you for walking with us. Maybe, just maybe, we are getting close to the end of the road. Or at least to the end of this road before a new one goes in a new direction.

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except by grace…

This is a brief post that is not about the Claytons, except to say that my heart is broken tonight reading about some other families. If you are here to read our latest news it is the post right before this one called news of a different kind. Please read this first.

I won’t share the entire story, but to shorten it, there are some families who have received a “no” in country when they went to court for a decision about their child. You can read a short update about these stories here:

http://owensgotokaz.blogspot.com/

Read the post titled Unbelievable. It really is almost unbelievable. It was hard for me to read. I cannot imagine being in the situation that these parents are. They went, met their child, saw them every day for weeks, and started thinking and preparing for a life with them, only to have them snatched away.

I don’t know how I would respond, and hopefully we will not find out, but for tonight I hurt for these families. Thank God that his grace is enough, that his love is faithful, that his mercies are new every single day, and that they never fail. What God is so great as our God?

I think in a moment like this it would be hard to echo these thoughts, but I will not pretend to know what they must be going through, and I won’t trivialize it. Our hearts are full for them right now.

Some days we just have to say that if it were not for grace that does not depend on us we would never make it.


An uncommon way to glory

(Edited on August 14: We posted two blogs on the same day to break up the reading some and because they were sort of different in focus. One is more of an update on the new situation. The other is some thoughts Aaron had on it. This post was actually written second, so If you want to see all the latest in the right order read the post right before this one, then this one. Thanks.)

There is a theme running all the way through Hebrews of endurance. The writer keeps encouraging them to endure and not to give up. With all that would have been going on around them with opposition (past, present, and future) and struggles it would have been tempting to either just give up or to turn back to the old law. Hebrews encourages them to endure, even when it is hard and not getting any better. 

There are several passages that emerge with this theme, and it sort of climaxes in Chapter 12, but one passage that is a little more obscure, but is so powerful is chapter 10, verse 23. It says, “hold on to the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful.” Those are incredibly encouraging, motivating, and challenging words for me.

It is so motivating to press on through difficulty, especially when the focus and purpose of the struggle is for something that is based on the gospel, which is how we see our adoption. But it’s also challenging. I don’t just endure because of prideful wanting to finish something or to preserve character. In fact, those things are lifeless and drain me about as much as anything because when I am motivated by them I get bitter, angry, frustrated, scared, and just not pleasant. They are all man-centered ways of thinking, and they don’t have anything to do with hope.

But this says to hold on to the confession of our hope. So the motivation is purely out of hope, which is what our confession is based in. But a lot of the time, my confession is not in hope. I am self-reliant, selfish, self-centered, and any other self-exalting word you can think of. My confession, spoken or not, is in myself and what I can and feel like doing. It has nothing to do with hope.

But God-centered, gospel-centered, gospel-glorifying endurance is always based in hope. Our confession is in hope that springs out of the grace that God has lavished on us in his kindness to us in Jesus. And he is faithful. He never changes. Our perspective changes, and our expectations from him change, but it is only us who change. He has never changed.

And so while endurance is really not much fun and wears me out, even brings out the very human side of me in anger, grief, distrust, self-righteousness and 100 other things, it is incredibly good for me and is in some ways a privilege. Because when I endure the right way, it screams of the gospel. It screams of grace and of Jesus. And that is really why we started in the first place.

Thank you for walking with us. We love you.

Aaron


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