Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Conviction, Condemnation, and Chumbawumba

Here are some thoughts of mine from last October. A short "how to" on how to tell the difference between conviction and condemnation, as I understand it.

The Holy Spirit brings conviction about things that He wants to work on in our lives--we get a clear sense or gut feeling of "I should or should not be doing X." And repentance should follow. Condemnation is when we feel like scum for having done or not done X and just wallow in that guilt. In condemnation, we stay distant from God. But, we are not under condemnation (Romans 8:1), praise Jesus! Conviction, when we respond, will bring us closer to God. It is the kindness of God that leads to repentance (Romans 2:4).

Remember, in whatever God's working on, He's got us, no matter how many times we trip up. Proverbs 24:16 says that the righteous person (that's you and me in Christ) falls seven times, but gets back up again. This is not a literal seven. You're not forsaken if you fall eight times. Seven means a complete amount of times. Thus, every time you need to fall until you conquer this thing.

So, when the Holy Spirit comes knocking and you feel convicted, repent and run after Him. You'll trip, but get back up. Borrow from Chumbawumba and let your motto be: "I get knocked down, but I get up again, you're never gonna keep me down." (Where the "you" would be the devil or your own self doubt.) :o)

But, um, just don't do anything else that song says. Or you may feel more conviction. :o)

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Living with Your Friends

Several years ago a particular speaker came to town. I had listened to tapes of his from an earlier conference and was really impacted. So I was excited to have the chance to hear him live. Unfortunately (or maybe fortunately) God used him to push practically all my buttons that weekend. One button pushing story in particular related how he loved going back home to England and having a great big meal with all of his closest friends. He said that he would sit back and watch his friends talking and laughing, and just be refreshed and joyful. Hearing this, I was incredibly jealous. I grew up in Massachusetts, went to college in Maryland, studied abroad in Israel, and now live in Washington State. Even if everyone I ever met never moved, there is still no way to get everyone who I would want in one room, in one room.

This morning, I read the following passage:

“Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.”
John 14:1-3 ESV

Then I had one of those Aha! moments. Jesus wants all of His friends in one place, too! And His friends are seriously scattered! Jesus is busy preparing His Father’s house so that there is a room and a place for each individual friend. This won’t be like staying at the YMCA, with rooms full of bunk beds. He knows each of us intimately and has specific preparations tailored for each of us. The Lord of Hosts that He is, is preparing a comfortable place, where we’ll feel at home and be ourselves. He’s having all of us over to His Dad’s house and throwing a big party for all of His friends.

Going and visiting people is excellent. I’m planning a few trips right now. But I would always prefer to get my house ready and have people over. I love providing them with things to make them comfortable and welcome, and then hanging out. Jesus is coming again, and He is going to take us to Himself, so that where He is, we can be, too. This goes beyond and in addition to the Holy Spirit being with us always.

This just made me really excited. Jesus wants all of His friends in one place, too! And beyond just wanting it, He’s making it happen. That is very exciting!