I Know A Man

I know a man who knew from the time he was a little boy that there was a God who loved him and that he was called to share His word.

I know a man who as a child experienced abuse and abandonment.

I know a man who as an adolescent began to turn from the Light and descend into darkness.

I know a man who abandoned his family, his mother, his brother, and his own children.

I know a man who was a thief.

I know a man who was a liar.

I know a man who was a murderer, taking the life of his own unborn child.

I know a man who stayed locked in a room for days, staying high, drunk, ranting and raving like a madman.

I know a man who has participated in unspeakable acts of perversion.

I know a man who could not buy food to eat.

I know a man who sat in a parking lot for two days, with no money for a spare tire, until a stranger showed him kindness.

I know a man who in his brokenness was forsaken, written off, and left for dead…

BUT:                                                                              

I know a Man who is God.

I know a Man who bled and died.

I know a Man who is eternal life.

I know a Man who sought out the wanderer and cared for his wounds.

I know a Man who said to the forsaken, “I love you; you are Mine.”

I know a Man who forgave the liar, the thief, the murderer.

I know a Man who fed the hungry.

I know a Man who said to the immoral, “I don’t condemn you. I have come to set you free.”

I know a Man who said, “I will NEVER leave you, abuse you, or abandon you.”

I know a Man who heals broken families.

I know a Man who restores to the hardened the tenderness, awe, and wonder of a child-like heart.

I know a Man they call Jesus.

 

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“Meditations From The Pigpen” (eBook)

Some years ago, a Pastor friend of mine and I got together at a local coffee shop. We hadn’t known each other for long, but there was a real connection. I decided that I would bring my old notebooks, and share with him things I had written over the course of my coming to Jesus. As I read, I could tell he was deeply moved (as I was), and the idea for Pigpen was birthed.

I originally wrote Pigpen by hand, on various types of paper, with the print pretty much all over the place. Duplicating that “style” has proved next to impossible, but in an effort to do so; I have formatted this rendering of Pigpen without strict adherence to any kind of sentence structure, punctuation, paragraph indentation, etc…- pretty much any grammatical rules that apply to the English language. Much of the profanity that was contained in my original hand-written manuscripts has been edited out, but as it was my desire to capture the emotion of my actual experience, strong language is contained in Pigpen’s present form.
Pigpen is a collection of rants, raves, observations, thoughts and prayers that I jotted down over the course of the most trying times in my life. Even today, when I read Pigpen, I am humbled by the realization that the Lord heard the cries of this broken, desperate man. Looking back, I have come to believe that it was all somehow His design, and that He used the “pigpen” for his glory and my ultimate good.

It is my sincere prayer that God will use this little book to somehow minister to the hearts of those who read it. I hope that by opening up my life to you, letting you see the sin, destruction, pain and madness I endured, you will clearly see the beauty of Jesus. He offers healing, forgiveness, and restoration to any who would call upon His name.

(click on image to get your copy)

Alison Phillips, 1934, ticket #2013111810012739

Unsavory Characters

            If you don’t skip over the genealogy of Jesus that Matthew provides in his gospel you’ll find that there are some, how shall we put it…, unsavory characters listed. If you take the time to research some of the names and see the roles they played in the Story, you learn that they were definitely not perfect human beings. Frankly, there are some things that were done by people on the list that any self respecting family would be ashamed of. As I read these passages this morning I was greatly encouraged. I don’t know about you, but there have been many unsavory characters in my life. And if I’m honest, the most unsavory of all is me. We all look back over our lives and have to admit we’ve been involved in some shady dealings. We wonder at times if God is really working in us and if so, why? Why would the Creator of the universe bother with someone like me, a flawed, weak, unsavory character? Can he really use someone with a past like mine? Is there really some kind of method to the madness that has been my life?

            Fortunately for us, the Bible teaches us that God sincerely loves us and works all things “after the counsel of his will.” In other words, he has a loving plan. In the case of the lineage of Jesus, we see God at work in imperfect people, through events that seem horrible and tragic, to bring about the birth of Christ. We also get a hint of God’s precision and intention when Matthew writes, “So all the generations from Abraham to David were fourteen generations, and from David to the deportation to Babylon fourteen generations, and from the deportation to Babylon to the Christ fourteen generations.”  And I’m convinced the Lord is just as committed, intentional, and precise when it comes to our  lives!

            All of our mistakes, all the pain, our personal failure, even our past can be used by God (is used by God) to accomplish his will in our lives. We don’t condone our sin with an “Oh well, God’s at work anyway.” attitude, but we can rejoice that through it all (even before we were aware of it), God has been at work to bring us to himself. And we know that he is faithful to complete what he has begun in us. With such assurance and hope, we have confidence to come to him and be empowered by his grace so that we can live in a way that is pleasing to him, willfully joining him as he unfolds the kind intentions he had towards us in Christ before the world began. Talk about hope! Talk about freedom! Talk about purpose!

            So if there are any unsavory characters like me reading this, come to Jesus and watch God make something glorious out of your life.

Work It

Any one that knows me or has heard my testimony knows that I’m all about grace and mercy. I will never understand why a holy God would extend to me this awesome love. I know that it is by his grace, through the faith that he gives us as a gift, that we have been and are being saved. However, we have to understand that being in relationship with God also involves (I’m gonna say it) WORKS.

Check out what the Apostle James has to say:  “You say you have faith, for you believe that there is one God. Good for you! Even the demons believe this, and they tremble in terror. How foolish! Can’t you see that faith without good deeds is useless?  Don’t you remember that our ancestor Abraham was shown to be right with God by his actions when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? You see, his faith and his actions worked together. His actions made his faith complete. And so it happened just as the Scriptures say: ‘Abraham believed God, and God counted him as righteous because of his faith.’ He was even called the friend of God. So you see, we are shown to be right with God by what we do, not by faith alone. Rahab the prostitute is another example. She was shown to be right with God by her actions when she hid those messengers and sent them safely away by a different road. Just as the body is dead without breath, so also faith is dead without good works.”

This portion of scripture troubles a lot of people as they see it in opposition to being saved by grace through faith. I believe that in this passage James is showing us what real faith looks like. True saving faith involves more than just an acknowledgement of the gospel’s claims concerning Jesus. Even the foulest demon of hell believes that Jesus is the Son of God. What a travesty it is that America is filled with folks who believe that they are in Christ because they were sprinkled as babies or 20 years ago walked some aisle and shook a preachers hand and said, “I believe.”  Their relationship with sin has never changed, they look and act no different from the world, and yet they believe that all is well. We have done a great injustice for which we will be held accountable if we do not seek to correct this faulty understanding of saving faith. Faith that is real is faith in action. When you truly believe, there will be corresponding works that attest to the validity of your faith. Authentic belief (faith) is always accompanied by a tangible response (works).

James points out the fact that Abraham’s faith was proven to be real by the things he did. He did not merely profess belief in God; he obeyed him by not withholding Isaac. Rahab the prostitute demonstrated her belief in God by her actions. The truth is that we can say anything, but who we are is ultimately revealed by what we do. If a man tells his wife that he loves her, but doesn’t speak to her, hold her, kiss her, protect her, or in any way demonstrate his professed love; would she be inclined to believe that his love for her is real? Even so, if we say we have faith in God, but live the same way we did before we came to faith, if we never speak to him, serve him, or in any way demonstrate the faith we say we have; is there any reason to believe we truly have faith?

We are saved by God’s grace, apart from anything we could ever do. Our salvation is a result of a loving God extending faith, grace, and mercy to us in Jesus. We can’t do anything to deserve God’s grace and the faith we have is given to us by God. But James reminds us that the one who possesses the real deal will be one whose life demonstrates its reality by the things he does.