Friday, March 25, 2011

The Hub in the wheel of Truth

"The Gospel isn't the first step in a stairway of Truth.  It is more like the hub in a wheel of truth." -Pastor Tullian

I just want to discuss my growth in grace and knowledge of Jesus.  This quote sums up what has been a big reason for the power in it.  I grew up in a Baptist church where the gospel was mainly talked about towards the end of the sermon on Sundays.  It was used as an "altar call" for non believers.  The gospel was preached as the answer for Christians at conversion and then you grew in your Walk to deeper things that were tough to understand.  Over the years, through learning about God's grace and more about Jesus' sacrifice for our sins, God has shown me the truth of the importance of a gospel-centered focus.  This goes for everything from sermons to alone bible reading to our prayer life and daily life, the gospel applies.
The gospel (Jesus' life, what he did on the Cross for us as sinners, being Risen, and sitting at the right hand of God) is more than just what you believe to be saved.  It is what grows us deeper in our knowledge of God.  The answer is not accept the gospel at conversion and then please God with your works and daily life. The gospel frees us to be ourselves as we live for God's Glory.  The answer is to accept the freely given Grace in salvation, and then grow in that to the truth that you are already accepted and righteous to God because of what Jesus has done.  Grace alone and Christ alone for our salvation and justification.  A gospel-centered, Christ-focused heart, awakened by the Holy Spirit, is the only way to become truly in love with Christ.  When you realize this and hunger for it, you get that Joy in the supremacy of Christ we were created for.  The gospel should and can be applied to all parts of our life.  Pray that God stirs in you to a deeper knowledge of all that the Gospel has accomplished.  I pray God continues to keep me going and growing in Him as I long for more of the gospel everyday.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

A Peace that can't be understood.

"I've got the Peace that passes understanding down in my heart.  Where?  Down in my heart.  Down in my heart to stay!"
After a week off from writing on this blog, a good topic hit me this morning.  What am I known most for?  What is my identity?  Well, outside looking in, most would describe me as a good guy who is a baseball player.  Pitcher Andy Mitchell.  Well that may well be a past title.  After all of the offseason done gone by and still no offer to stay in MLB affiliated professional baseball, I would say a career change has to come.  Ten seasons of chasing a dream, pitching at a high level in baseball, and traveling all around the country could be over.  God blessed me with a job that was a dream of mine and every boy growing up.  Through this blessing, I was able to take my career past any expectations based on my ability.  It's all an example of God's grace at work in my life, but there is one example bigger than that.  The fact that that part of my life may be coming to an end (still hold out a little Hope to stay in baseball) and I can have this much Peace and calm about my future is amazing.  It all comes down to the Faith I have that God is sovereign over my life.  I know I have to act out His miracles and plans, but I know they are HIS plans.  Romans 8:28 says, "And we know that for those that love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to His purpose."  This is one of many verses that give me the calm in such a situation.  This verse is also one that gave Becky peace at a hard time in her life when her mom passed away.  This verse doesn't mean we will be given what we want or think we need.  It means that God's plan is greater than ours.  It means we can rest our Faith on him, no need to worry or try to plan everything in the future.  It also makes me realize that when it does "work for the good" it is working for His purpose.  Our purpose is to glorify God.  
This post is my small way to point the Peace I have towards Him.  I'm not strong enough to handle the disappointment of not getting offered a contract this season.  I'm not strong enough to be patient on the next door to open up.  But Jesus, The Holy Spirit that lives in my heart is strong enough.  This is the same Holy Spirit that stirred in me and called me to open my eyes to acknowledge Christ as Lord.  This past season I sat on an inactive roster for 100 out of 144 games in AAA.  The opportunity God gave me to show Himself in me was great.  I was able to stay patient, upbeat, and be an example for others going through the same thing.  A couple times certain teammates would ask me how I can handle such a situation so well.  I was able to share my Faith and explain the calm I have knowing God is in control and His plan was for me to glorify Him wherever I am placed.  
So this being said, Baseball is great.  I wouldn't want to do anything else if I had the choice.  But as I grow in Christ and grow in a deeper knowledge of the gospel, my main goal is to glorify His name in whatever I do.  I want to get my flesh out of the way so that He can live through me for His purpose.  My identity is not Pitcher Andy Mitchell.  It is Andy Mitchell, child of God by grace through faith in Jesus Christ.  I will still sin and make mistakes by forgetting all of this truth, but as long as I can preach the gospel to myself and others I will feel the truth of being accepted by God and seen as righteous no matter what I do in the future.  Thank you Lord for your Sovereignty, Grace, and Mercy.  I want to know it more and more, this truly Amazing Grace.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

What are we "saved" from as Christians?

According to a website I go to frequently, the Gospel Coalition, there is a new book being released by a pretty well known author and Christian speaker named Rob Bell.  The book is titled Love Wins.  Reviews and interviews by Mr. Bell say that the book discusses heaven, hell, and the after-life.  He, and many new-age Christians, suggests that a loving God would not send any of His creation to Hell for punishment.  
To me the idea that a Christian speaker and author, who must read his Bible regularly, can come to this conclusion is just baffling.  Let me just list a few things Jesus himself said about Hell and Eternal Punishment:

-Matthew 25:41- And then he will say to those on his left, 'Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the      Devil and his angels.'
-and verse 46- 'and these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.'
-Matthew 5:22- "...whoever says, 'You fool!' will be liable to the hell of fire."
-Mark 9:43-49- line after line says, "better than to go to hell, unquenchable fire" "thrown into hell" "where their worm does not die and the fire is not quenched."

Shouldn't this be enough for us to KNOW that Hell is real.  Any other logic is the same old Satan trick from the Garden of Eden, "You will not surely die..."  When the Fall of Man happened there, everyone was headed to Hell because sin cannot exist around God.  This quote from C.S. Lewis illustrates the gradual you that needs Jesus as redeemer:

Hell begins with a grumbling mood, always complaining, always blaming others . . . but you are still distinct from it. You may even criticize it in yourself and wish you could stop it. But there may come a day when you can no longer. Then there will be no you left to criticize the mood or even to enjoy it, but just the grumble itself, going on forever like a machine. It is not a question of God 'sending us' to hell. In each of us there is something growing, which will BE Hell unless it is nipped in the bud. - C.S. Lewis

Only by God's grace through Faith in Jesus can this sin be nipped in the bud.  We are counted as Righteous and no longer under the bondage of sin.  An undeserved gift of Grace from the Creator of all.  Our sinful hearts replaced with the seal of Christ, adopted as God's children.  The best part is, he pursues you.  Our sin is huge, but God's grace is bigger!

What are we saved from?  By His mercy and grace, we are saved from an all powerful God's wrath and punishment in Hell (a terrible place, apart from God)

So back to Rob Bell's title LOVE WINS.  He says Love Wins because God is only Love, there is no Wrath.  Well that is not biblical.  As for the title, Bell is right, love does win.  It wins because God's love freely saves us from the eternal punishment we deserve and those that do not know Him or accept Jesus as Savior will go there.  This is how you find true Joy in what Christ has done and finished by defeating Sin.  I pray that I can become more compassionate to those who are not in Christ.  I also pray that God will move in their hearts and open their eyes to all of His Glory.