>Humbling Truth, Joyous Truth, well, Just Truth

>Today is my physical birthday. I had nothing to do with my conception, development, and birth.


January 30, 1974 was my spiritual (re)birthday. I had nothing to do with my conception, development, and (re) birth.


Salvation is of the Lord.


Spurgeon says it best:


Salvation is the work of God. It is he alone who quickens the soul “dead in trespasses and sins,” and it is he also who maintains the soul in its spiritual life. He is both “Alpha and Omega.” “Salvation is of the Lord.” 


If I am prayerful, God makes me prayerful; if I have graces, they are God’s gifts to me; if I hold on in a consistent life, it is because he upholds me with his hand. 


I do nothing whatever towards my own preservation, except what God himself first does in me. 


Whatever I have, all my goodness is of the Lord alone. 


Wherein I sin, that is my own; but wherein I act rightly, that is of God, wholly and completely. If I have repulsed a spiritual enemy, the Lord’s strength nerved my arm. Do I live before men a consecrated life? It is not I, but Christ who liveth in me. Am I sanctified? I did not cleanse myself: God’s Holy Spirit sanctifies me. Am I weaned from the world? I am weaned by God’s chastisements sanctified to my good. 


Do I grow in knowledge? The great Instructor teaches me. 


All my jewels were fashioned by heavenly art. 


I find in God all that I want; but I find in myself nothing but sin and misery. “He only is my rock and my salvation.” 


 Do I feed on the Word? That Word would be no food for me unless the Lord made it food for my soul, and helped me to feed upon it. Do I live on the manna which comes down from heaven? What is that manna but Jesus Christ himself incarnate, whose body and whose blood I eat and drink? Am I continually receiving fresh increase of strength? Where do I gather my might? My help cometh from heaven’s hills: without Jesus I can do nothing. As a branch cannot bring forth fruit except it abide in the vine, no more can I, except I abide in him. 


What Jonah learned in the great deep, let me learn this morning in my closet: “Salvation is of the Lord.” 


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>My Story of His Invasion

>I am now involved in Kairos Prison Ministry.

Is it Baptist? Pentencostal? Methodist? etc.

Yes, and no.

It is designed to be focused on the essentials of the Christian faith, and thus I spent the weekend with a bunch of men with whom I could debate a lot of secondary theological issues.

But I don’t have time for that.

Neither does Kairos.

The goal is to demonstrate and share Jesus with inmates in an intense, strategic, focused four-day-weekend.

As I shared my story of Christ’s invasion into my life (I wasn’t looking for Him, but I’m grateful He looked for me) it reminded me of an editorial I wrote for “The Family Life Journal” in 1997.

Oddly, I still have it, so I republish it here (with no changes….

Having just celebrated my 23rd spiritual birthday, I reflect on the goodness of God that first drew me to Himself and has more than sustained me since conversion.

Very often Christians speak of “when I found Christ.” The intent is good, the theology is not. Christ finds us! I certainly was not looking for Him, or for salvation, or even for hope in 1973. I had just been arrested and was awaiting extradition. Drugs were found in our cell, the Texas authorities removed everything except the religious material. After a few days of boredom I picked up a paperback book simply because it had the word “Prison” in the title.

As a 26-year old college-educated, alcoholic, drug selling Vietnam Vet I was introduced to the love of God as demonstrated in the sacrifice of His Son Jesus Christ. No human being was directly involved; I simply read the book. I had no idea there even was a Holy Spirit, but He was doing His work of conviction and drawing. I knew nothing of a trinity, nothing of the “infallibility of Scripture,” zero about predestination, and “secondary separation” would have sounded like a terrible body wound. (Which, on reflection, it is if one capitalizes the “b” in Body). All I know is that on January 30, 1974, I confessed my sins, and turned to God. Though I did not break out in a cold sweat, nor had any outward manifestation, nor tears, I simply knew that Jesus was real, that I was His, and that He was truth.

Subsequently, I was sentenced to prison, did my time, got out and went to Bible school. On this journey, I became painfully familiar with the fact many Christians seem to exist for one purpose…to argue with other Christians.

In the two decades plus of striving to walk with Christ, I’ve not seen any improvement in the infighting. I am known to be opinionated and vocal. Too often I spill my thoughts before I think them through1 but as I reflect, I am sure there are only a few things for which I’ll go to the proverbial wall.

Paramount is the deity of Jesus. He was, is, and always has been God. You don’t believe that , I don’t call upon you for silent prayer, much less have religious fellowship with you. The fact that the death for Christ has paid in full for my redemption is non-negotiable. The physical resurrection of Jesus can not be denied.

The necessity of repentance and faith in the completed work of Jesus for salvation is etched in stone (Acts 26:17-18; 26:20). The reality of heaven and hell are based on the clear words of Christ (Matt. 25:46). The return of Christ is not only a glorious hope, but part and parcel to the gospel.

Well, what about 24 hour days of creation? Are you pre-post-a millennial? What about tongues? Can you lose it? What about Christian rock? Which version is trustworthy?

Folks, when the Vietcong were trying to kill me, I didn’t care a bit about the muzzle velocity of my M16 or 50 caliber, nor did I care about the relative merits of each. I just kept my head down and shot at the enemy. I sure didn’t shoot at another GI who preferred to use a captured AK! I just wanted to stay alive and negatively impact the enemy. Maybe that’s an apropos parallel to spiritual warfare?

What spawned this thought process? I am blessed to have a perpetual calendar of Max Lucado’s writings, and the one I just read is from this book, Six Hours One Friday. I have placed it on my desk and on my bathroom mirror to be a vital reminder:

Seek the simple faith. Major on the majors. Focus on the critical. Long for God.

Though too wordy for a Lucadoism, I add, “Although you may not always see eye to eye, walk hand in hand with others saved by grace.”

>The Omission in the Commission

>What’s the “great commission”?

Did you include “obedience” in your definition?

Or is that the “omission” in the “commission”?

Here it is in the ESV (Matthew 28, 19,20) Go therefore and make disciples (not “decisions”) of all nations…teaching them to observe (obey) all that I have commanded you.”

I was reminded of this as I read Romans 15 this morning.

In verse 18 Paul states, “For I will not venture to speak of anything except what Christ has accomplished through me to bring the Gentiles to obedience – by word and deed,”

Yup, we are saved by grace through faith, but saved for the purpose of bringing forth good works. (Eph 2.8-10)

Work on!

>How Does Salvation Occur?

>No, I’m not going to get into the whole predestination, calling, election “thing”, though I have some strong opinions about those glorious truths.

But just a reminder from the book of Acts, particularly as it describes the conversion of Lydia, who already was a “worshiper of God” (which, of course, confirms that, like the apostle Paul (prior to the Damascus Road), you can love God and serve God and yet be unsaved).

Acts 16.14 states, “…The Lord opened her heart to pay attention to what was said by Paul.”

Step one…The Lord opens a heart

Step two…one of the Lord’s flunkies brags on Jesus

Addendum Spoke to someone about this; I did not make my point clear…If the Lord has not initiated step one; all of our step twos will be ineffective (though, if we push, we may produce a “decision,” but not a conversion. Why? Because “salvation is of the Lord.”