The CHF Articles: Secure In His Righteousness

Allow me to paint a picture for you:

I knew a man in my old neighborhood. He was an old leathery-faced balding biker with facial tattoos. He was the kind of guy that when you saw him, and his scowl heading in your direction, you thought about crossing the street, just in case. I met him at my old church’s neighborhood food pantry. Once you got to know him, you found out his wasn’t that bad. He was headstrong and had a temper sometimes, but he could also be quite sweet in some ways. He was also drunk or high around us too many of those times to count.

Including on Sundays.

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The CHF Articles: Come And See

The next day Jesus decided to go to Galilee. He found Philip and said to him, “Follow me.” Now Philip was from Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter. Philip found Nathanael and said to him, “We have found him of whom Moses in the Law and also the prophets wrote, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.” Nathanael said to him, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” Philip said to him, “Come and see.” -John 1:43-46

I know it’s hard for some people to put aside old ideas and notions about Christianity, Christians, and church in general. It’s a dug-in skepticism that’s born from a life of bad experiences, and even worse Christian jargon and teachings. It’s pushing back against all of it.

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The CHF Articles: Finding Satisfaction In Desolate Places

I wish I was better at seeing the bigger picture. Or maybe, I wish I was simply better at seeing the larger scope of its beauty.

My wife took a trip with her sister to San Francisco, and while there, she had the opportunity to visit Muir Woods. She was amazed at the size and age of the trees there. She showed me pictures of it all, and they were majestic, but all I could see were trees. Maybe my wife has a child-like wonder about these things that I don’t have. I don’t know. My default mode is to see a picture, but it’s not very often that I see the grander scale of what that picture represents. I’m guilty of that in many areas, including what I see and read in scripture.

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The CHF Articles: Hope Within The Shadows

The Sixth Sense is a suspenseful and scary movie where a little boy is born with the strange gift of seeing dead people. He gets some unusual help, but with that help, determines that these dead people aren’t there to terrorize him, but want his assistance. They know he can see them, and they want him to right wrongs in their past lives, or wish a loved one goodbye. Eventually, the unusual help he gets comes to understand the child is there to help him move on as well. This is an excellent movie, and I highly recommend it.

Now, why am I talking about this?

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The CHF Articles: My Grace-Covered Memory

I’m a New Yorker. More specifically, I am from the very forgotten borough of Staten Island. It’s a small place, and growing up here my whole life means that there aren’t too many places that I haven’t explored. This also means, and forgive the imagery, that in the course of my young life, I’ve spread enough sins from one end of the island to the other. I don’t dwell on it regularly, but a quick trip running errands about the island brings me past too many old familiar places. They are places that cause this mind to quickly wander into all of the “what I used to do’s.” It seems, once the memory is sparked, those past sins play out like a video in my mind. It’s amazing that I can forget a name in seconds, but like a file saved on a hard drive, those memories can boot up in record time.

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The CHF Articles: The Good Struggle?

I have to admit, there are times that I’m still completely susceptible to self-serving salvation projects. Even in my writing, I look for good responses from people, and find some worth for myself in them. I guess in some way it’s OK. We are writing, and when we write, we hope people respond and it does make us feel good when it’s a positive response. We get those same feelings when we do a good deed for someone, or knock it out of the park at work. Whatever it is, there is a little “Rah! Rah! Go Me!”, in everything we do. I do think its different from complete reliance on people for your personal happiness.

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The CHF Articles: “Touched” by God

Some days, people need a touch. Not just any touch, but something that says, “I care about you, and I love you.” We don’t need a 15 second hug because some statistics shows it releases endorphins and makes you feel better. We need a 30 second (or more) hug that holds just tight enough to let you know that this is not out of obligation or some experiment to see if it works, but because, “I see you there!” That’s it. It’s grace and love personified in action. Well, that’s what I like anyway. I know I’m a guy, but hey, I’m sensitive. So sue me. I won’t go off the deep end, but I’ll just say that I need tactile comfort from my wife. I need a hand to hold, or a shoulder to brush up against me regularly, even a neck to massage. I guess it’s just how I’m wired.

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The CHF Articles: The Gospel: No Strings Attached

I don’t remember the first time I heard the gospel, but I do remember the first time I began to understand it. It wasn’t during a revival meeting, a church function, in an accountability group, or anything like that. It was at home, and I was dealing with exposed sin in my life. In that moment, I felt as beat up as anyone could. Then, something struck me for the first time, and it sounded like:

Snip… Snip… Snip…

Like scissors cutting away strings from a puppet’s limbs, one by one, the strings fell from the handle as they were cut away:

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The CHF Articles: Chasing Broken Christians

Do we only want to be around people who want to be around us? We certainly like people who agree with us, and we love people who buy the same books, or saw the same movies as us. We want to be around people who are like ourselves. It’s just more comfortable. It’s no different when it comes to spiritual matters. We want people who seem just as motivated as us to follow God. “THAT’S my sister, brother, dude, co-laborer in Christ!” We want to run alongside those who are running after God with a passion. I guess that’s probably easier or safer. We’re Christians, and we’re supposed be drinking the “kool-aid” from the same communion cup. We’re supposed to be on the same track.

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The CHF Articles: Forgiveness At Every Level

Whatever level of sin you’re rummaging around in, forgiveness and grace is yours.

I really could stop right there, and most Christians would get the point, but as I’ve said before this topic hits home for me, and its important for me to be reminded that whatever I’ve done, if Christ is my hope, there is truly no condemnation that can overwhelm you, and leave you unforgiven and unrestored. This is not a green light to sin with reckless abandon, and we know the Bible nowhere encourages that. Being both sinful and justified means we don’t revel in our guilt and shame, but trust in the forgiveness of God, through the finished work of Christ. We trust God as we turn to Him in repentance and faith, which we all need to do regularly, and I stand unashamed at the front of the line. I feel the need to express these things because of the different levels of sin that exist. The ones that we may excuse away because they’re so small, or the others which make us feel so guilty that we think forgiveness is beyond God’s ability or maybe desire. Below are examples of those levels:

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