pecaspers: a Blog in transition

September 19, 2013

Can You Fix My Heart? – TMA Article Draft

Peter: “Can you fix my heart?”
Me: “Yeah buddy, I can fix it.”
Peter: “Can you really?”
Me: “Yes, I really can.”
Moments later…
Peter: “We did it!”
Me: “Who did it?”
Peter: “You did it!”

That’s a close approximation of an exchange between my son and me from the other day. His side is exact because it was so awesome that I typed into a post draft because I knew I had to write this out to share. As soon as my beloved son said “Can you fix my heart,” I knew there was a sermon illustration in there. However, it just got better and better.

This wasn’t some deep, philosophical request from my almost-three-year-old. My mom had given him a set of tangram magnets. (You know, they’re those sets of simple shapes you use to create larger shapes; you probably played with them in a math class at some point.) He was asking me to put the heart-shaped set back together. When I claimed my ability to fix his heart, he double-checked me. “Can you really?” he asked. He was forgetting two facts: (1)I’m a stinking wiz at tangrams, and (2)I’m the one who put it together the first time.

He stood close to the action as I maneuvered the pieces into position. He “helped” in the sense that as I put the pieces into place he would touch some of them, often sliding them slightly out of position so I had to nudge them back. He tried to claim that “we” did it, but he was honest enough to admit that it was really me who had put the heart back together.

If you don’t see where I’m going with this, then pay attention and get ready to be introduced to the one true and living God, the one who made you.

He throws a party in heaven every time one of us comes to him and says, “Can you fix my heart?” (See Luke 15). But we also often ask, “Can you really?” He is the one who made us in the first place. He is a master at both creation and restoration. It is His joy to take the broken heart we have and give us a new and better one (see Ezekiel 36:26, Jeremiah 17:9, Mark 7:21-23, John 7:38, Hebrews 8:10, etc.). He is also good and tender so that he endures us when we claim, “We did it!” “We” didn’t do it. He did it in us — or can do it in you. You and I cry out for the mending of our messed up hearts, but He does all the fixing. (I’ll leave it to you to discuss and discover how dead people are even able to cry out for new hearts, but that’s beyond the scope of my story.)

The point of it all is that God the Father sent God the Son to live, die, and rise from death so that all who will believe in Him can receive God the Holy Spirit, fixing our hearts and bringing glory to God. You see, God is the ultimate puzzle solver, and He is the one who put you together in the first place. Can you look at your remade heart and shout “You did it!” triumphantly to Him? It all begins with a simple, humble, child-like request to a good Father.

[This is the original draft of my article published in the 9/17/2013 edition of the Tallassee Tribune as the contributed article on behalf of the Tallassee Ministerial Alliance.]

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August 15, 2013

TMA Article Draft – Happy New School Year

[Originally contributed to the Tallassee Tribune as the Tallassee Ministerial Alliance article for the August 13, 2013 edition.]

Let me be one of the first to wish you a happy new year, a new school year that is. Next week the school-age citizens of our area will be returning to the hallowed halls of learning. Along with that return, everyone else’s lives will lock back into a steadier routine. Coworkers won’t be off on vacation, parents won’t be desperate to find daily activities to occupy their offspring, children won’t be out playing in yards throughout the day, teenagers won’t be hanging out until one day fades into the next–for the most part. Whether you have kids or not, the school year affects all of us as surely as a rising tide raises all boats.

The return to school always brings up one question year after year. What did you do with your summer? It’s the title of an essay for every student at some point: “How I Spent My Summer Vacation.” Did you go anywhere? Did you have any adventures? Did you accomplish any goals? Did you read any good books or see any good movies? Did you work your tail off because in your vocation summer is a busy season? What have you got to show for the last couple months of your life?

Now for the pastoral twist.

Ephesians 5:15-17 says, “Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is,” (ESV). Did you make a wise use of your summer, and did you ask God on the front end how He wanted you to spend it? If you are like most people, you probably didn’t stop to consider what God thought of your vacation plans, your summer reading, or your bathing suit. And there’s a lesson there; Christians aren’t supposed to be just like everyone else. In context, that is precisely what Paul is pointing out in Ephesians 5. He even begins this section with the audacious instruction to, “…be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God,” (Eph. 5:1-2, ESV).

Now as worthy a point as that is, there is a greater one yet. Do you realize that you will be held accountable before God for how you spent, not just your summer, but every moment of your life? Do you realize that he finds how you have spent and will spend much of your time to be an infinitely offensive evil against His holy character? But thank God that “Christ loved us and gave himself up for us” so that we might stand in his infinite righteousness before God. Being both sinless man and infinite God, Jesus was able to satisfy God’s wrath against our sin and restore to a right relationship with Himself all who will repent (turn away from sin and self-righteous attempts to be “good enough”) and believe in Him.

So the real question isn’t “What did you do with your summer?” What is important is this: What have you done with Jesus?

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