I Want to Be Wed

My heart, it throbs with love and with pain.

In love with my Lover, but He is away.

Oh, where can I meet Him?

When can I see Him?

Why has He hid His face?

 

Jesus! Rend now the Heavens

And come to me–Quickly!

Come now and take me away.

I want to be with You.

I want, Lord, to see You.

I want You to kiss my face.

To have You and to hold You,

Adore and extol You,

Your profile’s each feature to trace.

 

Tired and sickened by life at such distance,

Wearied, how much of this mundane existence?

You are my awakening. You are my revival.

Oh Jesus, dost Thou bid me wait?

Insufferable arrangement,

I cannot explain it,

Except, as I think of Thy wait.

 

Fearsome hours in the empty garden,

Sleepless, shameful night of trial and pain,

Six agonizing hours of asphyxiation,

With patience, unwavering, You waited for me.

Your love, unfailing, endured all for me.

 

And still You abstain from the cup of our cov’nant

Until no one who would be repentant is absent

Until Your Bride in perfected completeness is present.

Then sacredly, joyously, together we’ll drink

Drink the mercy skimmed from dregs of judgment

 

Never again to suffer such an estrangement

To have the Beloved after lifetime’s engagement

Finally, eternally,

Wed.

 

 

 

 

 

Seeking Satisfaction, Finding Christ

Last Friday, a small group of Moody Bible Institute students went out to the State and Division bar district in Chicago as part of the Free Prayer ministry on Friday nights, in which we hold cardboard signs saying “Free Prayer” up to passerby from 11 pm-2 am or later and pray for people, love on them, and share the Gospel with them.

Three of us, Katelyn Shedd, Joey Lackey and I, were standing there on the street corner around 1 am, when an Asian man came up to us and asked us what we were doing. As soon as we explained, the very next thing he said was, “Can you see the frustration on my face?” Slightly apprehensive of his answer, we asked what he was frustrated about, and he said “I feel so empty inside.” You could tell that he was at rock bottom, because he had nothing left to hide and was so brutally honest about his life and how miserable he was. He told us that his family and girlfriend are all still in China, and he feels homesick and utterly alone. As soon as he said that, I said to him “Man, I just want to tell you that you are so loved. People are fickle, and they fail us, but God loves us with perfect loyalty. He said that He would never leave you nor forsake you.” He seemed to listen to that for a moment, and told us that his name was Gen Li. Then he proceeded into a total rant about the meaninglessness of life (which so strongly reminded me of Ecclesiastes!). He was adamant that nothing in the world really fulfills. He said “I make $270,000 a year, but I’m not happy. I bought this shirt for $800, but no one even notices.” He said he could go get drunk (we were on a bar street), or even get sexual action, but it wouldn’t really give him sustainable happiness. He pointed around to everyone bustling from one bar to the next, and started decrying how shallow and futile their lives were. I could tell Katelyn couldn’t keep silent anymore, it was at this point that she spoke up and said, “Yeah! Nothing really satisfies, right?”

I began talking about how satisfaction can only be found in Christ. I don’t remember exactly what we said, but we affirmed everything he had said about the futility of striving for fulfillment in anything outside of Christ. We spoke to the effect that in Him is to be found FULLNESS of joy, love, peace, and hope. That He is the very meaning of life itself.

He responded, “I hear what you’re saying, but it’s still an abstraction to me. Can you tell me like your story?” (YES!, we all shouted internally!) Joey then took him aside and told him his testimony. This was not the first time he’d encountered a Christian. He told us that once he’d been driving to St. Louis, and his tire blew out. A man pulled over to the side of the road, helped him change his tire, and gave him a Bible, which he still had to this day. He said that the guy had created his own evangelistic website, and had told him that the whole mission of his life was to make Jesus known to the world.

A couple other women came up, and Kaitlyn and I were occupied with talking with and praying for them for a while (which were clearly God-ordained conversations as well in their own right!) Afterwards, when we regrouped with Gen and Joey, he had given Gen a full-on Gospel presentation. Later, I drilled Joey about what he said to him, and he just clearly explained the tenets of the Good News, including that every person has sinned innumerable times against a holy God, and that there is no amount of good deeds we could do to save ourselves. He said he explained it to him with the illustration of a list in which all of your good deeds over the course of your life are written down in green, and all of your sins, your wrongdoings, in red. He said that if there was even one red item on the list, we are total sinners, deserving of the eternal punishment of God. Joey told me that the entire time he was explaining the Gospel, Gen was engaged, and would ask insightful questions and comment in his own words on what Joey was explaining to him–showing that he fully understood the Gospel Joey was proclaiming. When Joey explained to him about Christ’s substitutionary sacrifice–that God sent his own Son to be excruciatingly executed for sin in our place, so that we would be redeemed from our sins and given immortal life with Him in Heaven after our death–Gen exclaimed, “That’s insane!”

Mmm, that reaction does my heart so much good. He got it! He saw the insanity of God, the scandal of grace! Oh church, may we see the Gospel with the eyes of a lost soul discovering it for the first time.

He told Joey that his mother, a Buddhist, used to teach him that everyone’s souls were reincarnated after they die. Joey pointed out that would just be an endless cycle, and Gen replied, “I know, it doesn’t make sense!” At a couple other points in the conversation, he asked, with customary frankness, “So what do I get out of it?” and then “So what do I do?” [Joey and my roommate later remarked to me that it was as if the Holy Spirit were putting words in his mouth to draw out the full Gospel.] To the first question, Joey said, “To be fulfilled forever in the presence of God.” To the second question, Joey answered, “Nothing. Christ did it all. All you do is trust in what Christ did for you.”

After having shared the Gospel from beginning to end with him, Joey asked him, “So man, do you want to make that decision? Do you want to pray to make Christ your Lord, your Savior?” Gen looked up at the sky as if thinking for a moment, looked back down and said with a tone of what I can only describe as decisive and yet broken surrender, “Yes.”

At that point, Kaitlyn and I lost it. We both just started sobbing for joy. Right then, right there, on a street corner in the middle of passing crowds trying to get tipsy, we circled up and put our arms around each other, and Joey led him in praying through the Gospel, the sinner’s prayer, the prayer of salvation. He said, just tell Jesus whatever is in your heart, and you can pray after me too. It had been sprinkling/raining the entire time we had talked with him, but out of nowhere while we were praying someone stuck the handle of an umbrella in between our heads so that it rested on our shoulders and covered our heads, then when we were just finishing praying, the same person (I never saw who they were) came and lifted the umbrella off and took it back.

Afterward, there was a gentle smile playing around Gen’s lips. Joey, Kaitlyn, and I on the other hand, couldn’t wipe the grins off our faces! We all gave him and each other so many massive hugs I lost count. Joey told him, “We’re family now!! You’re our brother!!” We all got his phone number, and Joey immediately invited him to his church that Sunday, which he said he would go to. He said that he had gone to a Baha’i church in Chicago a few times before, and that they believed that there was one true God, but that every religion’s worship was equally received by that God. I clearly explained to him that this was in total contradiction with all of Christ’s teaching, and that it nullified the Cross. Upon hearing this, he said, “Oh, well I guess I don’t need that church anymore.” After the countless hugs and promises to get together again for further discipleship, he finally said goodbye and headed off down the sidewalk.

The rest of the night we could hardly contain our joy, and the rest of the weekend I was positively glowing inside.

I had come SO close to not coming that night though. The previous weeks of me doing Free Prayer had been extremely intense and very spiritually taxing. At one point I was surrounded by hecklers. At another, after sharing the Gospel with someone he told me that he was “no longer buying what I was selling.” But what impacted me most was encountering a man who flat-out told me that he knew his heart was so dark and that he was running from God in his pride, and yet after hearing and showing receptive agreement with my fervent intercession for his soul and my heartfelt pleading with him to stop running and even my warning him of the inevitability of the coming judgement I saw him swaggering shirtless out of a gay bar.

My discouragement had resulted from my prizing results over obedience, however. When I talked to the man who made all the admissions about his own prodigality and inward depravity, I felt very clear peace from the Holy Spirit that I had prayed what He wanted me to pray and said all He wanted me to say. I made the exceedingly foolish mistake of going to bed that night frustrated at God for that man’s responses. The next day I repented, because it was the sheer grace of God that He was extending an offer of mercy to him that night, though He knew He would be rejected and spurned once again. I had forgotten the Scriptures. Isaiah 65:2-3 says, “All day long I have held out my hands to an obstinate people, who walk in ways not good, pursuing their own imaginations—a people who continually provoke me to my very face…” 

Don’t misunderstand me. Evangelism, and discipleship, are hard ministries. They are not for the faint of heart. However, those who commit to them will be empowered by the Holy Spirit to keep their head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, and discharge all the duties of their ministry (2 Timothy 4:5). And if we do not give up, we WILL see the fruit of all of our painstaking labor. Souls WILL be brought to Christ through our ministries (Galatians 6:9). NEVER GIVE UP PREACHING THE GOSPEL!

I had been doing street evangelism at least weekly, seldomly missing a week, for 2 years 4 months, and had never seen someone pray to receive Christ. And then, when I was least expecting it, grace collided with a frustrated and dissatisfied man, and He. answered. my. prayers. I have been interceding heavily for the Holy Spirit to do the miracle of regeneration in the souls of the lost for years now. I and many others have interceded in weekly prayer gatherings for the salvation of the Christless. He responded to every tear over the lost that was shed, every cry of our souls on our knees in secret prayer.  

He’s answered our prayers.

I still can’t believe that I got to see it happen. It’s a moment I will always remember, and never stop blessing the Lord for all my life. I am not ashamed of the Gospel, because it is the power of God to save.

How could I? Do you understand what I witnessed? That night a sinner became a saint. A beggar became royalty. An infidel became a son of God. A foreigner to the covenants became a partaker of the promise. A rich, bankrupt man was given an true and incalculable wealth by becoming a co-heir with Christ. He was given salvation, justification, regeneration, redemption, and atonement. He will never again know the utter misery of being separated from Christ. He will never taste the second death. All the joys of the world left him achingly empty, but now he will be saturated, past maximum capacity, with the joy of the Triune God forever and ever unending.

Once again, this has only affirmed to me that there’s no God I would rather serve, worship, pursue, and give my whole heart to.

I love my life.

I love my God.


“Filled with wonder, awestruck wonder

At the mention of Your Name

Jesus, Your Name is power, breath and living water

Such a marvelous mystery

Holy, Holy, Holy

Is the Lord God Almighty

Who was, and is, and is to come

With all Creation I sing praise to the King of Kings

You are my everything. And I will adore You.”

–Revelation Song by Kari Jobe

 

 

“Good, Good Father” vs “Soli Deo Gloria”?

“This, then, is how you should pray: ‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name,'” Matt. 6:9.

I know many Christians who have a sound and truly earnest desire to see the glory of God. The banner of their lives and their desire for the world is “Soli Deo Gloria.” However, they deem trivial or overly emotional, and on some occasions mock songs such as “Good, Good Father.” Jesus does not see a contradiction between cozying up to God as a child to their Father, and yet interceding and striving for the glorification of God Almighty. In fact, He instructs us to pray out of a direct connection between the two.

We will genuinely be jealous for God to be glorified to the extent that we trust Him as our Father.

I have seen clearly the outworking of this principle in my own life. It felt nearly impossible to desire and strive for God to be glorified when my heart was oppressed with doubts about His character. When there is an unvoiced and yet inescapable question in the back of your mind, “Is God really good?” it is hard to worship Him without intellectual dishonesty. However, when I had, through the grinding discipline of daily prayer, seen the overwhelming goodness of His answers and felt the inimitable goodness of His presence, I could hardly contain the exuberant desire within me for others to know the greatness of God and for Him to receive the adoration He was due!

John Piper rightly said, “God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him.”

Christian, do you want the glory of God more than anything? Or do you want to want the glory of God more than anything? Then seek satisfaction in Him as your Father. As your trustworthy provider. As your fierce protector. As your best friend and closest confidante. Do not ignore the areas of discontentment or distrust toward the Lord in your pursuit of His glory. Be vulnerable with Him about it all, and beg Him for greater intimacy and greater trust. Then run for His name to be hallowed throughout the nations as the King of Heaven who fathers all who were adopted into His family through His Son.

The Last Enemy to Be Destroyed

My mouth gapes. Opens and closes as if the mute were trying to speak.

My mind is blank. Attempts once again to connect a thought, but all is bleak.

The weight of confusion compresses my forehead, rendering thought and speech impossible.

I sit like a statue, stiff and immovable from the shockwave that has just gone through me.

Speak to me, Jesus, for I can’t say I word. Help me. I cannot unsee the images that have assaulted my eyes and have so unmade my world.

I just saw images of human corpses.

No, that’s not RIGHT! They weren’t human. We’re human. Those corpses aren’t us, they’re monsters. Monstrosities. Nightmares. Deserted, deformed shells of those who once lived.

Where did their soul go?

Why blood? Why do we have to bleed?

Why are we so easy to kill?

Every single person dies?

I wrack my brain for answers but it feels like a vast emptiness has opened up inside my mind. This is the first time I’ve seen death. This real. This raw. Not a skull on a graphic t-shirt, a real photograph of a deadened human body. The emptiness is because I’ve formed no worldview with which to respond to this level of horror. I don’t yet have any thoughts to think or words to live by concerning this.

I’m so enormously relieved that You are not wordless concerning death. You have spoken a true word. A better word. A final word.

What does the Bible say, what does the Bible say?

“‘All men are like grass, and alll their glory is like the flowers of the field. The grass withers and the flowers fall, because the breath of the Lord blows on them. Surely the people are grass. The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God stands forever” (Isaiah 40:6).

People are mowed down by death like so much grass. But Your word, oh God, stands forever. Christ is the Word, the fulfillment and embodiment of all of Your words. He died like men. He lost His life. But now He stands forever. Alive forevermore.

“I am the Living One; I was dead, and now look, I am alive for ever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and Hades” (Revelation 1:18).

“For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive” (1 Corinthians 15:22).

Death is not irreversible. Jesus was the firstborn of the slain.

My God died.

He was himself murdered, so that where sharp things broke His skin and His precious lifeblood welled up through the exposed areas, He might heal and restore the similarly torn skin and shed blood of people who have been killed. His spirit left his body when He gave it up to God in death so that my spirit might one day reenter the body they left at the moment of death.

I couldn’t ever love or worship a God that hadn’t experienced death. There’s no connecting to a deity that doesn’t connect to the person-by-person death of the human race.

“The last enemy to be destroyed is death” (1 Corinthians 15:26).

I’M SO GLAD DEATH IS YOUR ENEMY, JESUS!! It’s my fiercest enemy. I hate death. I hate it, I hate it, I hate it. You hate death just as much as I do and more.

At the tomb of his friend Lazarus, “Jesus, once more deeply moved, came to the tomb. It was a cave with a stone laid across the entrance. ‘Take away the stone,’ he said” (John 11:38).

So massively grateful that I read this in Timothy Keller’s book Encounters with Jesus. “I get frustrated with virtually every English translation of verse 38. Here we read it as ‘Jesus, once more deeply moved, came to the tomb.’ But this verse contains a Greek word that means ‘to bellow with anger,’ and somehow no translator feels that he or she has the freedom to say what every commentator and Greek expert says the text is saying. Jesus is absolutely furious. He’s bellowing with rage–he is roaring…Dylan Thomas was right: ‘Do not go gentle into that good night. Rage, rage against the dying of the light.’ Jesus is raging against death. He doesn’t say, ‘Look, just get used to it. Everybody dies. That’s the way of the world. Resign yourself.’ No, he doesn’t do that. Jesus is looking squarely at our greatest nightmare–the loss of life, the loss of loved ones and of love–and he’s incensed. He’s mad at evil and suffering….’” (pg 53).

Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might break the power of him who holds the power of death—that is, the devil— and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death” (Hebrews 2:14-15).

“I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us” (Romans 8:18). “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love Him” (1 Corinthians 2:9).

Again, I am utterly relieved that there is nothing on earth that can compare to Heaven. If there was, I would be dispossessed of the idea that it could make amends for the death of all the billions that have inhabited earth. I cannot fathom what could possibly make up for this. But I walk by faith not by sight. I know, firmly, that Jesus Christ was dead and now He is alive again. He is the resurrection and the life. 

“Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me will live even if he dies, and everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die. Do you believe this?” (John 11:25-26).

An article that was helpful to me is: “Who Is in Control of Death” by Wayne Jackson.

My playlist tonight is as follows, and as I listened I went from just grasping for a lifeline, to worshiping out of joy to the one who paid for my resurrection:

“Economy,” “Murdered Son,” and “Death in His Grave” by John Mark McMillan

“Dead Come to Life” by Jonathan Thulin

“Dead Come Alive” by New Albany Worship, animation by Full of Eyes YouTube channel

Without You

I’d be a missing link missing the mark

Like I lost my chance to change

A freak of nature unfit to sustain here

Without You I’d be a hamster on a wheel

Frenzied and trapped

Both amusing and disturbing to spectators

A soul that’s lost its bearings

Life spanning years generous but distance slim

Without You I’d be spinning my wheels

Polishing the pavement underneath me

Going nowhere fast

Thank God!

Thank You,

For singly sparking my ignition into action, into life

Now slowly but surely gaining momentum

Created in Christ Jesus to do good works

Pointed toward my predestined destination

I have to trust the One who sees the end from the beginning of the process

The inscrutable, unbearable process

Who finishes what He starts

And sanctifies what He saves.

The earth appears motionless–unmoving and immovable

But truth is lightyears away from that

This perspective is so peripheral

Though Earth spins on its heel day after day

It is being patiently, gravitationally pulled

Moving by the power of the Sun

You haven’t given up on me

I’m not too much for You

You’re still charting my course

This floundering is finite

Soon I’ll take flight

Jesus Is Enough

Jesus is Loving Barabbas YouTube sermon clip by Judah Smith

“And the nerve, the gall, the audacity of believers to think ‘I got saved by grace but now that I’m in this deep, dark place of bondage, I better work hard to get myself out.’

WHAT?!

That’s the opposite of the Gospel!

Are you bound?

Are you held under the power of this temptation, this sin? Do you feel like it’s controlling you?

What are you going to do? ‘I’m going to shake myself free.’

STOP IT! NO, YOU WON’T!

You’re no match for the powers of Hell and the urges of sin….

‘God, I’m so ashamed…’

‘Give Me your shame.’

‘But God, what if I do it again?’

‘I’ll still be here.’

‘But God, I don’t want to hurt You. I love You. I don’t want to do this any more.’

‘Give Me your sin, son.’

It’s all we got. It’s all I’ve got, it’s all you’ve got….Your greatest challenge is not your discipline, your devotion, your focus. Your greatest challenge is believing the Gospel!

It’s Jesus; it’s always been Jesus; it’ll always be Jesus! His blood is sufficient for your salvation, and His blood is sufficient to sustain you through every challenge, and every sin, and every temptation.

Jesus. Is. ENOUGH!

Reaching the Unreached–through Facebook!

Never–NEVER did I think Facebook could have this kind of impact. That could have this kind of impact on an unreached people group from my own home.

I recently downloaded the Joshua Project app (download here). The Joshua Project has amassed data about the unreached and unengaged people groups of the world, and uses it to mobilize the body of Christ to pray, to give, and to go to them. An unreached people group (UPG) is an ethnic group of people which are effectively and largely unreached with the Gospel. In order for a people group to be classified as unreached, they must have a population that is 98%, or more, non-Evangelical. There are currently 6,688 unreached people groups.

An unreached unengaged people group (UUPG) is an ethnic group whose people have an even more miniscule chance of hearing the Gospel. By definition, they do not have any Evangelical (Bible-believing) Christian planting churches or attempting to plant churches among them. Of the 6,688 unreached people groups, 3,058 are also unengaged.

As I grow closer to and fall deeper in love with Jesus, the more insistent, urgent, and ardent my desire grows for those who don’t know Him to discover Who He is. I resonate with the lyrics of “Oh for a Thousand Tongues to Sing” by George Whitefield:

“Oh, for a thousand tongues to sing my great Redeemer’s praise

The glories of my God and King, the triumphs of His grace

My gracious Master and my God, assist me to proclaim

To spread through all the world abroad the honors of His Name.”

It cuts me to the core that people look up at a night sky blanketed with trillions of stars, and cannot connect the splendor to the Creator Who hung them in a vaccuum, the Father Who loves to see the look on their face the stars prompt, and the Christ Who died for them so that they could know this incomparably magnificent creating and fathering God.

So I finally downloaded the app after meeting a missionary family from Tunisa whose love, faith, and groundbreaking prayer propelled me to do something I’ve never done before to reach the unreached. I don’t know why it took me so many years of walking with Christ to download the Joshua Project app. Lack of discipline and initiative, primarily, added to a deficient understanding of God’s objective in Creation and the Cross (a people that love Him from every corner of the globe), and a little selfishness. Praise God for His patience, I downloaded the app, and now am full of joy that I did, because I discovered an unprecedented opportunity scrolling through this app, staring at the screen in my palm. I’ll let you discover it too (taken from their site):

Facebook and the Unreached

Metamorphosis

monarch-butterfly-chrysalisNobody knows what makes the monarchs migrate.

What guides them like an infallible inner compass to the oyamel firs of Mexico every year?

Is it instinct? Magnetism? The position of the sun? A sense yet undiscovered?

But I know. Not an it, but He. He is the same Spirit Who beckons me to my eternal resting place. He is the same God Who charts my steps over the tortuous paths of life to my unchanging destination. The way feels so crooked from down here at ground-level, but to my God it is straight as an arrow, pointed resolutely at home.

I only call it home because He is there. Without Him, Heaven would be no haven at all.

Nobody knows what makes the monarch’s metamorphosis possible. How can the caterpillar self-destruct into enzyme-induced DNA soup in the chrysalis, and then emerge so wonderfully transformed? How can it become such an unrecognizable creature with wings like stained glass?

Is it a freak of nature? An atavism? A riddle defying explanation?

Call it what it is for once; call it a miracle. I know, because the same God who directs the monarch’s metamorphosis once recreated me. 

Just a few years ago, I felt like a worm. Writhing on the bedroom floor in the fetal position, terrified by the sinful evil within me. No matter how many hours I groveled and pleaded for deliverance, tears streaming down my face, still the evil possessed me. I could not purge my soul of hatred, bitterness, and a dark desire to sabotage those closest to me.

Finally, in what I thought was one more futile prayer, I said, “God, I can’t do it. I can’t let go. I can’t stop hating. I can’t forgive. Please, have mercy just because of what Jesus did on the Cross.” 

That was the moment the very DNA of my soul changed. I soon felt the transformation. [I can scarcely write for holding back tears.] I remember what it felt like. It felt like all the evil forces that had been consuming and crushing me from the inside out for months (actually years) were simply gone. So far removed as to seem unreal. It felt like Love was beaming down on me. And for the first time, I actually loved Him back. [Oh my!] And in that moment, and since that moment, I’ve known that nothing could ultimately do me any harm.

I am not what I once was. I am a new creation (2 Cor. 5:17).

And what is so incomprehensible and yet so sure to me is that this was only the beginning. The same gracious God Who found me on that day of my salvation, Who gave me spiritual rebirth will recreate me again one day at my resurrection.

The grave will be like my last chrysalis. It’s hard and scary to think of what will happen inside. In it my blood will congeal and dry up, my bones will brittle, and my flesh will rot away. It will look like my life is gone. Desecrated. Wasted with no hope of retrieval.

But please don’t believe the apparent irrevocability of death. Believe Him.

Believe Him. He created the universe ex nihilo (Gen. 1:1-2). He made paradise out of uninhabitable wasteland. He made mankind out of entropy’s residue (Gen. 2:7). He made salvation out of His Son’s crucifixion. He makes the winged butterfly out of a dead worm. He made my regeneration out of my total depravity. He will resurrect my dead bones into something exquisite. Into Christlikeness.

“And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit” (2 Corinthians 3:18).

The word for transformed is translated from the Greek metamorphoumethaDo you understand what this means? I am, and you are, being metamorphosed into the likeness of Christ.

Oh, how I trust Him. If He’s brought such beauty out of my blackest suffering and vilest sin, what will He bring out of my death?

Did you catch that wonderful little verb? The process starts now. “We…are being transformed” (2 Cor. 3:18). No matter how slow and regressive the sanctification seems at times, no matter how far we backslide, if we have been saved by Jesus we are being made like Jesus. The presence of the Spirit within us bears witness to what we are becoming (2 Cor. 1:22).

We will not struggle against flesh and sin forever.

We will not grieve the Spirit eternally.

When I’ve had my fill of failing, and I feel like I can’t take trying anymore, I have to preach to my soul that my failure is not final. That my God will not leave me this way. I have to remind myself of what I once was (1 Cor. 1:26), and how great a change has already taken place. Sometimes I shout to my hard-of-hearing soul that He will finish what He started (Phil. 1:6). Because it’s just a matter of time until I am everything He created me to be. He is going to make me literally perfect; a carbon copy of Christ.

I believe in reincarnation. Not a reincarnation into an endless cycle of life and death with no knowledge or retention of past lives. Not a reincarnation into lower or higher life forms based on unforgiving karma. Reincarnation into one perfect body, knowing that I have overcome the grave by the one perfect Person. Reincarnation in spite of all I could do to lose it, no matter how much sinful karma I have accumulated. Reincarnation into the likeness of the Love of my life, the light of my eyes, my pride and joy.

The Giver of life will take my bare bones and make them me again. (Ezek. 37:1-14) A me that no longer falls short of His glory, but radiates it. A Renee who resembles and reflects Jesus more than she could have ever hoped. I will emerge from the grave where they laid me sinless, glorious, and immortal (Phil. 3:211 Cor. 15:54 ). Without a blemish or flaw to be found (Eph. 5:27). I’ll finally be the Bride that He deserves. Then He can finally say, “Father, she’s perfect. She’s just like me.”


In Matthew 17:2, on the Mount of Transfiguration, the disciples saw a glimpse of Jesus embodied with the glory that He has at all times in Heaven, “There he was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and his clothes became as white as the light.” After I had written a lot of this, I found out that the Greek word for transformed in this verse is metemorphōthē. Glory.

Felix Culpa

O Happy fault

O Happy fault

That won for us so great a Redeemer.

Fortunate Fall

Fortunate Fall

That won for us so great a Redeemer.

–“Fortunate Fall” by Audrey Assad

“O goodness infinite, goodness imense!

That all this good of evil shall produce,

And evil turn to good; more wonderful

Than that which by creation first brought forth

Light out of darkness! Full of doubt I stand;

Whether I should repent me now of sin

By me done and occasioned, or rejoice

Much more, that much more good thereof shall spring,

To God more glory, more good will to men

From God, and over wrath grace shall abound.” Paradise Lost Book VII by John Milton

Gratuitous Grace

In spite of all my mumblings about what I have to deal with

In spite of how I will all too soon forget just how much I’ve just been given

In spite of how poor a steward I was of all I had before

Though it was my own fault and foolishness that had walled me into this debt, staring at unclimbable concrete of my own making

I’m sitting here again, with this pressure in my chest threatening tears

Because You didn’t punish. You didn’t even discipline. You just gave.

So gratuitously.

And it doesn’t feel right, because there’s no avenue for me to adequately express my gratitude. There’s no time for me to get enough “thank You”s off my chest. As if I ever could.

But this is what You always do. Your grace is given thanklessly. Tirelessly. Gratuitously.

And thus my life will ever be. My mistakes exchanged for Your mercy. What a God I serve.