The Firm Distinction


The water of a well worn river rides on rock. It spent it’s time gouging out the temporary. It has found its place and has no need to seek another.  

The River of Life from God has gouged out the temporary among us. He not only found his place upon the permanent rocks, he has become the foundation of the Waters of God.  


People use cute phrases to sum up what they call “good things”. But that’s like assuming that sand can be a good foundation for a permanent river.  


No one is good but God alone. No good thing exists but that which is the will of God.


What should we do about this? Doesn’t God say that he will give us wisdom without judgment? Doesn’t he command us to make a distinction between what is holy and what is common? Doesn’t God expect us to pray earnestly for all the things that are good?


Does more need to be said?

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The Good Ritual


I said to the Lord, “I am a liar and a fool. The only good I have is imagined honor. Imagination is not food.  

But you Holy Father, in Christ your Holy Son, are righteousness and purity forever. In your wisdom you created mercy. In your Holiness you created justice.”


Then I said, “Let me own my sins. Let justice rain on my soul. Let the condemnation of my doings come and cast me to the ground. Let me see the damage I do so easily. Let me understand the murder I inflict.  


It is then that I will seek mercy. It is then that I will cry out to you. It is then that you will offer your gracious hand of love. It is then that you will forgive my sins, allowing no punishment to come to anyone else because of me.  


Let the matter be finished in the blood of your Holy Son. Let my legs find strength to stand. Let my folly be replaced with wisdom and restraint. Let me bring you honor by believing your Holy Word; your promise to bring life through forgiveness of sins.”


And so begins another day. And so the next morning will hear these words again.  


By His Grace.

Good Works


There are nice things people do. The kind of things you see praised on the news every day. If this is what a man wants to be, there’s plenty of it to be had (both work and accolades). There is certainly a lot of suffering to mend.  
But if you want to rise above even these good things, if you want to become superhuman, you will need God to set you free and teach you his ways. The good works of man are only the good works of man. But there is something vastly more to be gained.  

See how the camera is used to incite people to good works. But the inspiration of a man of God will not be photographs. And if he is inspired by his fellow man, it is because his fellow man is speaking the words of the living God.  

The good works he does are not inspired by his fellow man. No, he is led and driven by the perfect good will of God. As God invisibly sustains all creation, even the wicked who hate him so desperately, so the man of God will work as if in the shadows. Such a man will be demeaned and misunderstood. Because the God who drives him is demeaned and misunderstood.  

If Christianity is a warm fuzzy, it is then misunderstood. Christianity is the family tradition of the one who voluntarily walked to his death on the cross. It is the family tradition of the one who was despised by all men, simply because he did the will of God.  

If Christianity is an easy and pleasant path, there’s every good chance it is the wrong path. The good works of man may be nice, but they are far short of what God can do in us.  

I have not accomplished hardly anything in Christ. Yet I find the path he has taking me to be thousands of miles above my ability. And as I do his will I am reminded of his glory in Christ Jesus. When I fail to listen to him, I revert to the man I used to be. I simply become a man who has done a few “good” things.  

Look at what Jesus said.  

16 Jesus answered, “My teaching is not my own. It comes from the one who sent me. 17 Anyone who chooses to do the will of God will find out whether my teaching comes from God or whether I speak on my own. 18 Whoever speaks on their own does so to gain personal glory, but he who seeks the glory of the one who sent him is a man of truth; there is nothing false about him. 19 Has not Moses given you the law? Yet not one of you keeps the law. Why are you trying to kill me?”

God will give understanding to the one who asks earnestly. The way of God is light years beyond man’s ability to perceive. “you can do nothing without me”, The Lord said.  

Good


​Define the word “good”.


Now after you just shot some definition at the word, think about the definition you used.  Did your mind really define the word “good”?  


“Good” isn’t subject to fault.

It doesn’t offer itself to personal opinion.

It doesn’t even wonder whether you are right or wrong.

“Good” is absolute, endless, unwavering, pure, exclusive, wise, dutiful, and all the other words we have to describe perfection.


The next time someone asks how you are, try not to respond “good”.  God alone is Good.  At best, we are in reasonably fair condition considering the circumstances.


The Lord told us to season our conversations with salt.  That means understanding what we say, injecting truth without mercy into our tongue, and making sure people understand that there is good truth to be had.  If we don’t display it, who will.

Dignity


No one digs a grave for the broken rotting tree. 

Exposing its inward parts, it lays exposed for all to see.

Though it gave shelter and shade, and a break from the troubling winds, dignity in its trouble escapes its mortal grasp.

Gone unnoticed all its hundred years, it goes unnoticed by the caring hands of its benefactors.

How long has this been true for man?  Like a cow shot among the herd, the rest go about eating and drinking as if their fellow had never been.

Are we but animals?  Are we not designed to live in God’s image?

Then where is mercy?  Where is godly compassion?  Where is patience among the days expectations?  Where is dignity if we gather it only for ourselves?

Is this indeed, what Christ showed us?

Shall we honor a man only to cover him in dirt?  Or at best, shall we attribute sayings to the things he did among us?  Or will he carry testimony that a few cared deeply?  Deeply enough to give what no one can take.

Dignity is a living cause.  Many take it upon themselves to receive such from others.  But you cannot snatch dignity from the air.  If it is contrived it is apparent and useless.  Dignity must be given, and that by humble hands.

The Woman


I watched a woman drive by me.  With both hands on the wheel, she watched carefully straight ahead.  But the car spoke louder of her character than her attentiveness.  It was a rusty beat up old boat from the eighties.

Obviously, she is trying hard to do the best she can with what she has.

But I wondered about her hope.  Being a born protector, the woman is concerned about her family, children, parents, friends, sickness, stability.  Does she know how intensely greater a protector is the Lord Jesus?

Has she learned to be protected?  Does she have joy inside all that dutiful good habit?

Setting a man on one side, and a woman on the other, consider their characteristic behaviors.  If a man could lay his hands on the father of lies, he would tear and punch and kick and scream venomous violence, as he tried to take down his foe.  How would this woman act in the same environment?

Would she huddle with her children in a darkened corner?  Or with excellent fearless violence, would her face explode with fierce anger as she rushed to dismember this one who has harmed her so; this one who threatens her great instinctual desire?

Would she cower in abject terror, or would she do as Peter has told her: Be fearless!  Believe!  Live your life in Christ with complete peace of heart.  Show no fear, trusting that God is greater than you.