Saturday, November 15, 2014

The Significance of Birth

         Teach us to number our days,
         That we may present to You a heart of wisdom.
         Psalm 90:12

Today is my birthday.  No, I'm not going to get a red sports car or dye my hair blonde.  None of that foolishness.  I am going to reflect on the last 25 years though.  25?  Yeah, 25.  Because, you see, that is the birth that really matters to me.  It was on this day in 1989 that a proud, rebellious young man laid down his arms and bowed his head to his Conqueror.  Yep, on my physical birthday I gave up my life of sin and God in heaven brought forth my spiritual birth.  A birth of far more significance than my puny little physical birth.  A reflection of my own father who I can still hear saying, "just bury me in a pine box, no big deal."  Similarly, this physical life is insignificant to me and the spiritual is far, far greater. Therefore, it is attempted to be lived fully pleasing to God that He might have significance in it.  As this truth guides me.  He must increase but I must decrease. ~ John 3:30

I wasn't a "bad" kid.  I was well loved by many gracious friends, some of whom have stuck around me, despite my sometimes porcupine personality and my Christian faith.  The problem with not being "bad" enough is that I just was never good enough, never could be, never would be. There's is none righteous, no, not one. Romans 3:10  A good many things in my first couple decades are quite shameful.  But God!  He was rich in mercy and loved me before I was born, loved me from eternity past.  He knew a day would come, in fact, He planned it!  A day where I would fumble through a prayer while standing in the hallway of my house as I departed to go see one of my favorite bands, The Alarm.  I felt kinda good that night, going off to see some guys who had at least some kind of Christian faith, in my pea brain mind of what faith was at the time, as opposed to the darkness I submerged myself in so many other nights.

I really had little clue what I was doing I just knew that I knew that I knew that change was necessary and change had to come.  I did not darken doors of churches.  I grew up in a "moral family."  That simply is code for a great bunch of sinners who believe in God, even Jesus, but are whitewashed tombs full of dead men's bones, headed for a terrible destruction that will shock them when they arrive.  Two days prior I grudgingly got out of my bed and gave up my football to attend a quaint little church in Sunland, CA.  Life was about to be forever changed!  I wrestled with God those two days as the message rang in my head (David at Ziglag) but even more so the 3 baptismal testimonies that roared from the waters.  Never before, nor since, did I feel like I was the only one of 270 people in a building.  But God!

So after wrestling those two days, I crumbled and God won and oh what a victory!  Graciously in every way I was placed among a people zealous for the Lord and earnest in His truth.  Seminary guys from a somewhat young school called TMS were in my path.  I distinctly recall three of them who were God's chisel on this wreck of a young man.  One is gone now.  Dear Samuel who took me under his wing in every way.  Made me prepare a lesson in 1 Peter, 

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.  In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials, so that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. ~ 1 Peter 1:3–7

and preach it to my roommates in our living room, drove me to kingdom come and back for 4 months while my father lived his last days on earth, and simply set an example for me to follow. Then there was Wayne and Carlos in my Berean's Sunday school class.  What grace I was given!

Ok, ok, so what's the point of writing this you may ask?  Well, way back then in 1989 I thought about 25 years ahead.  Since I'm the weird numbers guy these are things I think of.  The amazing senior citizens that were my Wednesday night (and Sunday morning) for so many days were my end goal.  I wanted to be a Christian for 25 years and be more like them.  I wanted to possess that level of maturity and love for Christ.  (Still working!)

    Not that I have already obtained it or have already become perfect, but I press on so that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus.
          Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead,
          I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. ~ Philippians 3:12–14

Now I'm here.  Not what I was and nowhere near what I desire to be. But God! 

He who began a good work in you will be faithful to complete it. ~ Philippians 1:6 

To God alone belongs glory and majesty and honor and dominion for He is able to keep His own from stumbling and falling and to present His people blameless before His throne, with great joy. (Jude 24-25)

So I guess today begins the last 25 years, should God ordain as many.  What is life?  Is it about personal happiness? Personal achievements?  Personal fulfillment?  Simply raising "good" kids and living a decent life that others say nice things about you when you're dead?

The point of it all, I suppose, is why are you here?  Why am I here? The Westminster Catechism says it perfectly in question one.

The chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.

Which takes me to my guiding verse, thanks again to Samuel, that came at the end of King Solomon's life;

Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter:

    Fear God and keep His commandments,
    For this is man’s all.
~ Ecclesiastes 12:13

My friends who have stuck with me this far, are you truly fearing God and keeping His commandments?  Are you more focused upon His glory than your own?  Are you seeking His wisdom and forsaking your own?  Are you willing to submit to His authority and lay down your own?  Are you confessing Christ as Lord and you as His servant?  Are you living for eternity and not for the present?  

Have you been born again, born from above?!  Or are you still in your sins and prepared to be held responsible for them?  Jesus said, I am the way, the truth, and the life and that He came to give life abundantly.  

Whom are you living for and what will be your legacy?

~ He must increase,

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