They say this place is "magical" and that you get to "put life on hold" while you're visiting. Not so fast! That's not entirely true.
The reality? Personally, I found this place to be even more tempting to my fallen, sinful flesh in so many ways when compared to when I'm back home living my day-to-day normal life.
So, that's why a few tweets by Rev. Johnathan Fisk truly resonated with me.
The mark of the Christian is not that he ceases to sin, but that he ceases to justify his sin, ceases to love his sin, begins to despise it.— Jonathan Fisk (@RevFisk) August 20, 2016
This is most certainly true.
I hate my sin. I do. Yet, there are times when I also love my sin. I hate to admit it, but it's true...AND I HATE MYSELF FOR IT! Such is the disgusting nature of a "wretched man that I am!" (Romans 7:24).
Still, the reality is that I am no longer a slave to sin, but I was purchased by the blood of Christ who redeemed me and set me free from that slavery unto death (Romans 6:23).
Romans 7:25 (ESV) Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin.
Back to that quote from Rev. Fisk that I referenced earlier.
I shared it on my Facebook page and it prompted this creative response Rev. Chris Agne...
I still take my sin out to lunch occasionally. But, we mostly sit and stare at our phones the whole time.
I really like that analogy!
In fact, thinking about this past week and how I indulged myself in all that Disney had to offer me, I began to piece together my own similar analogy.
Here's what I came up with...
For me, it's like I'm in the traditional and tragic abusive relationship with my sin. I truly hate her, and finally understand why I must leave her for good, but every now and then she seduces me with memories of what I thought were "good times" together, and I flirt with the feeling of wanting to get back together even though I know it's wrong and she could kill me. Truth is, I'm utterly helpless to leave her on my own and need Someone to save me from her before I die!
The solution? It's not magic! It's faith!
Truth is, I feel this war raging within me all the time (Matthew 26:41; Mark 14:38) -- even as I type these words here!
Romans 7:14-25 (ESV) We know that the law is spiritual; but I am unspiritual, sold as a slave to sin. I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it. So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God’s law, but in my sinful nature a slave to the law of sin.
The Word of God declares it. I'm merely living evidence of the truthfulness of those words.
Then, right on cue, I saw this excerpt from Rev. Bryan Wolfmueller's new book "Has American Christianity Failed?" that someone highlighted online...
"Jesus is a better Savior than you are a sinner. Christ died for sinners...You are only unsavable if Jesus says you are unsavable. He doesn't. You are only unforgivable if Jesus says you are unforgivable. He doesn't. Jesus over and over in the Scriptures comes with kindness and mercy, with promises of life and salvation, with the forgiveness of our sins."
That is a beautiful declaration of the Gospel and just what I needed to be reminded of today!
Later, Rev. Fisk added a few more powerful words on the subject...
With sin mortified by its inability to be redeemed, the redeemed mind is supernaturally trained to resist its call. By faith alone a Christian despises his sin. He sees no proof of removal beyond hope that in Christ sin will die yet leave him still living.
"By faith alone." Period.
In a Lutheran layman's terms, it's not by magic that we are forgiven for our many sins and redeemed. It's by faith in the suffering, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ for me (and for you) and by faith alone.
NOTE: Please understand that I'm not a called and ordained minister of God's Word and Sacraments. I'm a layman or just a regular Christian, Corporate Recruiter, Husband, Father, Friend who lives in the "City of Good Neighbors" here on the East Coast. As another Christian Blogger once wrote, "Please do not see this blog as me attempting to 'publicly teach' the faith, but view it as an informal Public Journal of sorts about my own experiences and journey, and if any of my notes here help you in any way at all, then I say, 'Praise the Lord!' but please do double check them against the Word of God and with your own Pastor." To be more specific, and relevant to the point I want to make with this disclaimer/note, please understand that I'm a relatively new convert to Confessional Lutheran who recently escaped American Evangelicalism a little more than 3 years ago now. That being said, please contact me ASAP if you believe that any of my "old beliefs" seem to have crept their way into any of the material you see published here, and especially if any of the content is inconsistent with our Confessions and Lutheran doctrine (in other words, if it's not consistent with God's Word, which our Confessions merely summarize and repeatedly point us back to over and over again) so that I can correct those errors immediately and not lead any of His little ones astray (James 3:1). Also, please be aware that you might also discover that some of the earlier/older pieces I wrote for this blog back in 2013 definitely fall into that "Old Evangelical Adam" category (and they don't have a disclaimer like this) since I was a "Lutheran-In-Name-Only" at the time and was completely oblivious to the fact that a Christian "Book of Concord" even existed (Small/Large Catechism? What's that!?!). This knowledge of the Lutheran basics was completely foreign to me even though I was baptized, confirmed, and married in an LCMS church! So, there are some entries that are a little "out there" so-to-speak since the subject matter was also heavy influenced by those old beliefs of mine. I know that now and I'm still learning. Anyway, I decided to leave those published posts up on this website and in cyberspace only because they are not blasphemous/heretical, because I now have this disclaimer, and only to demonstrate the continuing work of Christ and the Holy Spirit in my life (Hebrews 12:2; Philippians 1:6). Most importantly, please know that any time I engage in commenting on and/or interpreting a specific portion of the holy Scriptures, it will always closely follow the verse-by-verse footnotes from my Lutheran Study Bible and/or include references to the Book of Concord unless otherwise noted. Typically, I defer to what other Lutheran Pastors both past and present have already preached and taught about such passages since they are the called and ordained under-shepherds of our souls here on earth. Finally, I'm going to apologize ahead of time for the length of most entries (this disclaimer/note is a perfect example of what I mean! haha). I'm well aware that blogs should be short, sweet, and to the point, but I've never been one to follow the rules when it comes to writing. Besides, this website is more like a "Christian Dude's Diary" in the sense that everything I write about and share publicly isn't always what's "popular" or "#trending" at the time, but is instead all the things that I'm studying myself at the moment. For better or for worse, these posts tend to be much longer than most blog entries you'll find elsewhere only because I try to pack as much info as possible into a single piece so that I can refer to it again and again over time if I need to (and so that it can be a valuable resource for others -- if possible, a "One-Stop-Shop" of sorts). Thank you for stopping by and thank you in advance for your time, help, and understanding. Feel free to comment/email me at any time. Grace and peace to you and yours!