For the past couple of weeks, a war has waged in my heart: a war between the Spirit and my flesh (which has found an ally in the whispered lies of the enemy). I have lived between the tension of grace and shame. There have been moments that I have gratefully sought shelter in the shadow of the Cross and moments that I have tried to climb up on that Cross and blasphemously become my own messiah.
As I sat the other night listening to traditional hymns and carols sung in worship (as was their original intention), the words of the songs washed over me. One song in particular was Amazing Grace (My Chains Are Gone). As I sang the words, the enemy (and my heart) condemned me saying, you can't sing those words honestly...you still have some pretty heavy chains.
Grace spoke. The Holy Spirit shut the mouth of the enemy and my heart. He said, yes, your chains ARE gone. Jesus, God wrapped in flesh, Emmanuel, came and lived the life you should have but couldn't and died the death you should have but won't. And that's not all. He rose and intercedes for you even now.
"for whenever our hearts condemn us, God is greater than our heart, and He knows everything." (1 John 3:20)
AND HE KNOWS EVERYTHING.
He knows the filth I've thought. He knows the self-righteousness I've felt. And yet He does not condemn me!
"There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit." (Romans 8:1 - 4)
My chains ARE gone!
I HAVE been set free!
My God MY Savior has ransomed me!
And like a flood, His MERCY reigns...
Unending love, amazing GRACE!
Wednesday, December 8, 2010
While in Sudan, we had the privilege of working with Bishop Taban. He and his wife, Grace Ann, were a blessing to know. Their love for the Lord and for the people of Sudan and beyond was convicting. They have a vision for the fulfillment of the Great Commission. Through the network of their churches and ministries, they are empowering people all over Africa to spread the gospel by loving orphans, training pastors, educating the people, funding clinics, creating jobs...the list goes on and on.
Will you pray that the Lord would bless and increase their work there? Will you pray how you can help the people of Sudan? Here are a few ways you can help:
Aid Sudan - make a donation or buy a radio by which people may hear the gospel
His Voice for Sudan - help build an orphanage
Actions Speak Louder - purchase a great song and contribute to His Voice for Sudan
His Voice Global Silent Auction - attend this event which will feature a screening of the documentary The New Sudan
You might be wondering what Matt is wearing in the photo at the beginning of this post. While we were in Sudan, Matt was officially made a bishop. There was a ceremony and everything! It was a huge honor. We were humbled to be a part. Here are a few more photos of the ceremony: