The Reality of Redemption

The Reality of Redemption

by Phil Baker

I have to confess one of my favorite shows is “Dancing with the Stars”. It’s a guilty pleasure – a sequined, graceful, often awkward pleasure – but still a guilty one. So I waited intently for the announcement this morning of which “stars” would be dancing this season. My jaw hit the floor when I read that Ryan Lochte would be competing. You know, Ryan Lochte, Olympic gold medal winning swimmer, “Robin” to Michael Phelps’ “Batman”, bleach-blond-Brazilian-bathroom-bashing-embellisher, RYAN LOCHTE!!!

Lochte has had a hard row to hoe since his fib in Rio earlier this month. So this move is an ingenious PR stunt and an obvious plea for public redemption. Watching him soar from Olympic glory to scandal in just a short amount of time reminds me of just how fickle a society we are. We are quick to glorify, quick to judge and quick to condemn. But forgiving and forgetting don’t come so quickly. In fact when it comes, if it comes, it is often silent and unnoticed. Pick almost any scandal. You will likely remember hearing about the initial incident – a DUI, an arrest, an unflattering mug shot. But chances are you never heard how the story ended – a fine, time served, out-of-court settlement. Even though the perpetrator received redemption in the eyes of the law, they likely never received it in the public’s eyes.

Let me name a couple more of my favorite shows – “Parks and Recreation” and “The Grinder”. The former had 7 successful seasons. The latter was cancelled after just 1. Both were hilarious and both included actor Rob Lowe. If you are old enough, you remember that Lowe had a little problem in 1988 involving drugs, sex and videotape. Yet today Lowe has successfully turned his life around and is as beloved as ever. When exactly was he redeemed? According to the eyes of the law, it was after 20 hours of community service. But in the public’s eyes…I don’t know…“Wayne’s World” maybe?

If you were to ask me when I received redemption, I would tell you about a Youth Evangelism Conference in 1988 (the same year as Rob Lowe’s little escapade). I raised my hand to profess Jesus as my savior during the invitation and silently prayed the sinner’s prayer. The next moment my heart grew 3 sizes, the entire Bible downloaded into my brain (in 10 different translations) and I haven’t sinned a single time since!

Obviously that last sentence isn’t true. So how would anyone, including me, know I was redeemed? God knows. For God, my redemption came that moment. But it is also a process. It is a process that was just starting that day in 1988 and is still being done today. It was the beginning of a journey. In the world’s eyes my value takes a little longer to assess. For man, redeeming a person isn’t like redeeming a coupon which is scanned once at the checkout then thrown in the trash. Redeeming a person is saying, “He still has value.” “She can still be used.” “He is not worthless.” And that takes time and relationship for the non-omnipotent.

Everyone is looking for redemption in their life. God offers you redemption. But His redemption is different from the world’s. God’s redemption is instantaneous. The world’s redemption is a journey. Maybe you don’t feel redeemed because the world is constantly reminding you of your mistakes. It is a reality show not unlike “Dancing with the Stars”. Shut out the world and focus on your dance partner. God knows your value. If you dance with Him, others will soon see it too.

Ephesians 1:7

Philippians 1:6

Unaccepted Grace

by Phil Baker

As we learned this past Sunday, the story of the Prodigal Son is a lesson in grace.

  • Grace is about God.
  • Grace seems really foolish.
  • Grace is NOT earned.
  • Grace covers both types of sin.
  • And grace must be asked for and received.

That last point rang in my ears. It reminded me of something I once read that I wanted to share.

Back in the 1800’s, a man by the name of George Wilson robbed a mailman. He was captured, tried, convicted and sentenced to hang. But Wilson had friends in high places. One such friend was tight with the President of the United States, Andrew Jackson. He convinced President Jackson to use his power to pardon Wilson, which he did. This is where the story gets interesting. Wilson actually refused the pardon, leaving Jackson (and many others) scratching their heads about what to do.

The matter found itself before the Supreme Court which eventually ruled that…

“A pardon is a deed, to the validity of which delivery is essential, and delivery is not complete without acceptance. It may then be rejected by the person to whom it is tendered; and if it is rejected, we have discovered no power in this court to force it upon him.”

I recently had a package sent to me via FedEx. Unfortunately, it required a signature. So the delivery man made several attempts before he caught me at home and I could sign for it. Delivery wasn’t completed until I received it.

So many people go their whole lives suffering with their failures and shortcomings. They don’t know that grace has been delivered to them. Grace has been delivered to YOU! But delivery is not complete until you accept it. No court on earth can force it upon you. Have you received it?

Why Pray?

by Toni Crosby

One of the most challenging and fulfilling ministries at Revive is that of prayer. It sounds pretty elemental on the surface – all Christians pray, right? But for prayer to be effective, it takes effort and diligence. The Bible is the instruction book on prayer! A few examples:

  • Deuteronomy 4:7 – the Lord is near to us when we pray.
  • Proverbs 15 – the prayers of the righteous please God and are heard by him.
  • Matthew 5 and 6 – Jesus’ recipe for effective prayer.
  • Philippians 4:6 – we are to bring everything to God by prayer and petition.
  • 1 Thessalonians – we are to be continually in prayer.
  • James 5 – a pattern of prayer for healing and forgiveness.
  • There are challenges in a life of prayer. Being a Christian is the first step in communicating with God.

Being diligent in prayer requires sacrifice. When you tell someone you will be praying for them, be prepared to do it! Not just a quick few words, soon forgotten. Sometimes fasting is required – giving up food can be a real challenge!

Jesus taught by example – He was in constant communication with His Father through prayer. He received comfort, reassurance and instruction as He sought the Father’s will. That’s where He got the courage to fulfill His ministry, all the way to His death on the cross. He wasn’t ashamed to ask for what He needed, for himself, and for others.

Jesus used scripture references when he prayed. In Matthew 4:4, Jesus quoted Deuteronomy 8:3 to Satan as he was being tempted. Isaiah 55:11 assures us that when we pray God’s word, it will not return to him empty, and that it accomplishes what he purposes.

So, in order to pray God’s word to him, we have to know God’s word. That takes daily Bible reading. Devotional books such as Our Daily Bread also help reinforce the scriptures. The Bible Promise book contains scriptures for every need. Memorizing scriptures helps you remember them when you need them. Knowing the scriptures helps us to understand what God thinks and expects.

An effective prayer life is truly rewarding. It’s a privilege to be entrusted with the heartfelt needs of people and situations, and to witness answered prayers. You become a Christian prayer warrior standing in the gap between God and the world.

Opportunities abound for prayer at Revive. Team Members take turns praying during every church service. We also participate in prayer walks, community prayer efforts, special prayer emphasis and email prayer chains – whenever prayer is needed, we’re on it!

If you’re up to the Prayer Challenge, let Pastor Brock or me know and we’ll get you involved!