Friday, May 21, 2010

Cross-Centered Authenticity

I sometimes really like seeing what I look like in the mirror.
Some days not so much.
I have a healthy body, a good beard and an obnoxious collarbone.
I sometimes feel like I'm all legs.
On the unseen side of my green eyes come deep and intricate thoughts.
I am complicated.
There is so much I want to learn and experience.
I'm really smart too.
More than I ever thought I would be growing up.
I hurt really easily too and I sometimes find it hard to control my emotions.
I cry too easily.
I love my sense of humour and I am so good at making myself laugh!
Sometimes I think a thousand years would not be enough time to accomplish all that I want to experience.
Some days I hate being alive.
I'm slow at making decisions.
I love eating exotic foods and traveling to exotic places.
I want to be a husband and a father.
I am quick to judge other people because they are different.
I give good hugs.
I love stories.
I still struggle with a lot of guilt from my past.
I let people down.
I put myself first most of the time.
I put myself down too often.
I need to lighten up.
I need to have more dance parties.
I love analogies.
I hate my lack of self-control.
I love my friends.
I love the blessing of accountability.
I don't trust me.
I am interesting.

I really like me.


I'm really broken.


I am precious and depraved.

I am a sinner saved by grace.
I am purchased by God.
This is who I am.

Nothing overshadows the significance of the cross. The horrific, physical death of the Son of God is the crossroad where the depth of my sin and offense was met and conquered by the unfathomably great power of God Almighty. Where is there reason to have fear or guilt? Where is the room for boasting? Without the cross I would be forced to reside on one of two wrong sides in my understanding of who I am.

The wickedness of Jake Rivers was so great and so real that the slaughter of the Son of God himself was the only way I could be saved.

But He really did die for all those things.
Even __________!
Paid in full.

And his resurrection proved that my sin and the sin of the whole world was stripped of its power to condemn me.

I can't be me without the cross.
I can't embrace goodness of who God made me to be without confronting the hellish reprobation that is just as truly "Jake" as anything else is.
And vice versa.
The catholicity of who I am comes down to a Christ imputed righteousness.

And that that makes me happy!

"For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified." (1 Cor 2:2)



Wednesday, May 19, 2010


Is there a theology to feeling yucky? C.S. Lewis once likened the fundamental human dissatisfaction in God, to a child playing in the mud, refusing to enjoy a venture to the ocean. We are quick to overlook the great things of God, as we are too easily amused with ordinary, temporal things. Well, as it goes without saying that even the redeemed are prone to discontentment, a change does take place in regards to the delights we now find misplaced. Sin just doesn't satisfy the way it used to!

I once described a spiritually dry period as being less enjoyable than eating a bag of raw flour. Today was like drinking day-old oatmeal through a straw. Ew! One of the best and worst things about being a Christian is that it takes almost all the fun out of sin.

On a related note, today is a special day because it marks 9 years since the day God saved me and brought me into his family. The part I couldn't figure out (among others) is how exactly (if at all) does one celebrate that on each anniversary? Well, I never really got to far with that question because the day has now ended and the end result was that I opted (through my actions) to aim low for godliness. I just really dropped the ball on this one...

Don't you hate it though, when the regret precedes the retrospect?

Am I still so human that I can spend a day, aware that I'm missing out on my figurative ocean adventure, yet all the while resigning myself to the mud pile? I do selfish thoughts like its my job, all the while knowing how great the freedom that is in Christ! And yes, some days it is almost impossible for us to raise up out heads to praise God in the face of the brokenness of this world, but I am not in that boat! I have it so good right now! I am blessed so deeply with a beautiful fiancée, a college degree, a new full time job (as of today!) and a thousands more blessing! But even the presence of gifts as wonderful as these, is not going to make me impervious to a wallowing tendency.

I sit when I should stand; wallow, when I ought to run away. I think part of me still practices avoidance to any semblance of the concept, that Jesus Christ needed to die on the cross because there is no other way in all creation to pay for offense of my laziness and disinterest. It was obviously pretty serious to God...

I have a lot to think over for tonight...starting with how to get the imprint of a fence off my butt!



Saturday, May 15, 2010

The Crux

Unlike the vast, unparalleled majority of unnoticed sea creatures that have ever lived, my recently acquired Betta Fish, dubbed Jean-Jacques Rousseau (AKA Raisin) is unique in that he has a name. It makes me wonder at what the odds must be against a fish receiving a name. With over 31,500 species of fish filling the, over two thirds of our planet, comprised of water, I can't help but wonder if it ever seems a bit remarkable that this fish in particular now finds himself on a shelf in a third story apartment in Canada and not in a shallow rice paddy in Vietnam, from where his ancestry is traced. The interesting thing about Betta's is that they are bottom dwellers, or rather, they inhabit shallow waters and can survive in cramped conditions in which other fish cannot.

I finally got around to cleaning Rousseau's tank this afternoon. It was certainly in need of it, particularly the dangerously low water level, which made it very difficult for me to remove Rousseau from the tank without causing him a great deal of stress. There is no question that the move was for his own good. But how do you really communicate that to a fish? It descends into its filthy, shallow water like it was heaven... he is, after all, simply a fish. A creature of astonishing frailty, no understanding, and limited memory.

Later on this evening, Rousseau and I were listening to a John Piper sermon that reiterated that crucial question of whether we find our joy in God making much of us, or in God, through the life and death of his son, freeing us to be able to find our joy in glorifying him.

I don't suppose it's much good denying that I have been seriously struggling with that as of late. Life is so full of loud, beautiful, exciting things. It is so easy to view God as a means to making much of my life rather than the other way around. The crux is however, that's not just something I can do mentally. There are so many times like right now, when submission and delight for God seem as favourable as a fishnet. It's so subtle, but over time, the more I immerse myself in the love of Jake, the less I want to let God in.

This is the difference between me and Rousseau, for I can consciously understand that JESUS is BETTER; the GOSPEL is BETTER; and HOLINESS is BETTER, but I am not in the slightest any further ahead than he when it comes to perfect control over my desires. I can think of ways to get myself more into the word, more time in prayer, and more time journaling or blogging, but none of that IS the POWER to refine my desires. I see enslavement where I want to see freedom.

How precious are the words of Christ in John 15, that He is leaving us the Holy Spirit to accomplish whatever we ask! For this is the crux upon which everything rests! If my savior has NOT the power to transform the most foundational hungers in my being, so that everything in my being cries out YES to his glorification ahead of my own, than He saves nothing!

Unlike Rousseau, I probably need this cleansing far more frequently. And that being in the understanding that it will continue as long as I draw breath. But know this, oh my soul. Know these words of Christ: "If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish and it will be given to you. This is to my Father's glory that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples. (John 15:8-9)

The one who speaks these words is faithful and true. He is the savior of the bottom dwellers. He grants a deeper, holier hunger to the fixated and frustrated. Like Rousseau, today I have been rocked by routine transformation.