Daily Diary – 1/23/18

Why I Write These:

This is an initiative I started in 2018 to begin documenting my life better. It’s meant to be a snapshot of a day both for public disclosure of what is going on, both good and hard things in my life. It also serves as a record that I hope to be able to look back on in future years. This concept was inspired by my grandfather, Leon Milton Buttermore, who has a memory that I am envious of, and I hope that by doing this I am able to be the kind of man who starts to treasure the things given him.

Daily Highlights:

Here I am – at the end of a decently long day. 18 hours of wakefulness, to be precise. All on the go. But a productive day, for the most part.

Today I got up and led our Living Sacrifices meeting. We had probably close to 20 people that came and showed up. That’s so cool that men are willing to lose sleep and fight for purity. There is a God in Fayetteville, and He’s at work in the hearts of men at UBC. I can tell you that confidently. Since I was teaching a short devotional on Psalm 51, I just let myself also meditate once more on the passage as my time in the Word. We had 4 main points as we studied what repentance means in our daily lives. Here are some excerpts straight from the lesson that I find crucial.

Right at the beginning of the Psalm we see this: “Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions.”

David does not start out with claims of his own righteousness. He never appeals to his great deeds. He doesn’t start with, ‘Oh great God, remember me, David, your servant. The one who stood up and slew the giant Goliath in your name when no one else would. So be gracious to me!’…

When you repent, we must remember we repent on the basis of Christ’s redeeming work. Now, this has an interesting implication. I’m not sure about yourself, but when I’ve been in the midst of sin, I’ve hesitated and often waited to come to the Lord to have my conscience sprinkled and cleansed as Hebrews 10:22 tells me to do.

But what does this communicate? I’d encourage us to realize that when we do not quickly and desperately admit guilt and beseech the Lord, we are effectively denying the effectiveness of Jesus’ work on the cross on our behalf. We like to wait because we want to feel a bit… better about ourselves before we repent. We want to approach God on our terms. But we never approach God on our terms. We come to Him as He wills, or else we will have no part of him!

When we repent, it is vital that it moves us from fearful, trembling confession to confident belief in the restoration available to you through Christ. Claim it! David does. Just listen to some of these sweet refrains in the middle of the Psalm:

“Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean… Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me… Restore to me the joy of your salvation.”

This whole section is full of pleas for restoration. David knows he is approaching a God who is slow to anger (Exodus 34:6) and desiring people to repent and live (Ezekiel 18:32). He acts accordingly in response to who he knows God to be.

Often when we repent, we find it audacious to think we can be restored. But claiming it is not audacious, it is humble. Because it requires one to recognize their own depravity and the sole sufficiency of Christ. To not cry out for that restoration is to either not fully admit your sin or to not rely solely on the work of Christ and the character of God to be faithful to the work accomplished on the cross.

Look again at where David ask to be saved from bloodguilt. What does he pray right after that? He declares a promise in response to the salvation he knows will come from the Lord:

“Then I will teach transgressors your ways, and sinners will turn back to you.”

David is declaring, ‘Lord, because of your salvation I will go and tell the people what you have done for me. I will invite them to come see what the Lord has done for my soul.’

Brothers, it’s not our perfection that makes us heralds for Christ in this world. If we were perfect, we’d actually invalidate the Gospel! For if men could be perfect, then Christ would be folly and His sacrifice in vain.

Instead, it’s actually our imperfection that makes us eligible to proclaim the Gospel. One part of repentance I often see people struggle with is repenting from sin, but then spending hours, days, or even weeks engulfed by their sin and becoming ineffective agents for Christ…

I’d encourage us to realize that when you are immobilized by sin, we’re denying the cross. We’re refusing to give up the burden Christ already bore for us on the cross! Let’s give up our burdens, brothers. I’m not asking you to cease striving against your sin. If we sin after knowing the truth, then we trample the Son of God under our feet and insult the Spirit of Grace (Hebrews 10:29). That should make us take sin seriously! Christ suffered in love because He wanted us to be free to love, worship, and follow Him faithfully. Patterns of sin shouldn’t be welcomed in that kind of relationship.

We can never make repentance a ritualistic affair. Look at what David says here.

“You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it; you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings.”

But, God! I thought you said that sacrifices are how we were purified! What does God say in Isaiah 1:13?

“Stop bringing meaningless offerings! Your incense is detestable to me. New Moons, Sabbaths and convocations– I cannot bear your worthless assemblies.”

Meaningless offerings? Worthless assemblies? Those exist? You better believe it, and the difference is explained way back when Cain and Abel offered sacrifices in Genesis? Hebrews 11:4 tells us: “By faith Abel offered God a better sacrifice than Cain did.”

By faith. So what is the sacrifice of a repentant man? The answer is in verse 17: “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.”

A broken spirit. A contrite heart. Does sin grieve you? Do you feel it when you repent? If you do, then I actually think you should be encouraged. There is such a thing as Godly grief that leads to repentance and is evidence of the Holy Spirit himself (2 Corinthians 7:10).

But if repentance feels empty, if it doesn’t drive you to your knees as you wrestle with God, then your heart may not really repenting and that should bug you.

After that, I went ahead and got some feedback on my lesson and prayer of praise Sunday morning from John Mueller. He thought today’s lesson went really well, and I got a very encouraging text from Jonah Wilcox. I teared up reading it, and thought that I’ll wake up at 4:30 every morning if the Lord will just let me be an instrument for one evidence of grace in that day. Sin loses its grasp on me when I realize there is a God at work in my life. I love it.

John told me that my prayer of praise had good content and was powerful, but that I might have been a bit read-y in how I presented it. I try to make sure my prayers are organized and thoughtful, but may need to think about how to make sure the natural rhythms of prayer are not lost in my prayers that I have thought through a bit more. I think it is an inexperience thing in some ways. I probably was speaking and reading the Scripture a bit too fast, and that was part of what made it harder to get that inflection down. Anyways, I am thankful for a church that invests in giving me opportunities to learn what it means to participate in worship that glorifies the Lord when His people assemble!

After that I went to work with my biggest client for the day. I also took care of a few odds and ends for some of my other clients. I’m getting conversion tracking set up for two of my clients and that’s always a fun part of the process. But my big client doesn’t seem to be moving in the direction I want it to. We’re worried that Google has changed some of the way it is serving ads, and we may need to pivot somewhat to figure out if we can capture some more real estate to drive traffic. It is a bit disheartening to try and find out what is wrong. Sometimes the answers are not readily apparent, and I want to figure it out for this client. I hope that we will make strides here before too long. Until then, Lord, I hope that I honor you with how I try to help this company move forward.

I grabbed lunch with Cole at Slim’s. I tried parmesan garlic tossed tenders with cayenne ranch. So today was a big day! It was pretty tasty. I may keep trying it to evaluate things! Cole was happy that he’s influenced me in this direction. I suppose I’m giving in to peer pressure. =D

We went all over the place with our conversations, but we specifically talked about funerals and how detached we can be, especially in our younger ages, from death in our current culture. But when you analyze the old hymns that are such classics, they all seem to understand and be intimately familiar with death. Death should be a thing we have grappled with in our lives, in our churches, and in our own spiritual anxiety we must move to peace that our faith will pull us through that final closing of the eyes. That’s not easy. I’m not making it sound easy. Does anyone realize what a miracle each time it is that a saint closes their eyes in full confidence of the Lord? That’s a divine work right there, and it is marvelous to see it occur. It’s not fun. But it is marvelous. 

This is one reason I think churches should seek to attend funerals together and make them worship events. They should see their saints that they have worshipped and love to eternity’s shore and eagerly remember their own hope in Christ. One interesting point Cole had was that what we should do at funerals is not really to keep repeating “Oh, she’s in Heaven. Or He’s not suffering right now.” We don’t mean to, but subconsciously this means we’re finding our comfort and hope in where someone might be or the state of that person. But our rock when someone departs from us and we experience true loss is always in Christ. So everything about our funerals ought to celebrate Christ and the rock that He is both in life and death. Anyways, those are rough thoughts and Cole was probably much more eloquent than I have portrayed him, but I think he was on to some valuable topics.

We did talk about songs that each of us would like to be played at our funeral. Cole mentioned Tis So Sweet and It Is Well. I said Christ the Sure and Steady Anchor, There is a Fountain, and Give Me Jesus. I’m sure those may change at some point, but it is interesting to think about your funeral. One of my thoughts I often have is that I never want to be that man who dies and has trite pleasantries said about me only after I’ve died. I want to be that man who lives in such a way that what gets said at my funeral is just a natural extension of the evidenced life of Christ’s grace in me while I lived. I would say that I want my funeral to be a joyous event and witness it, but truth is that I’m sure I’ll be overwhelmed by Christ’s presence I won’t remember this mortal life.

Besides, I’m not so sure that eternity isn’t so vast that we actually recognize any time between when we depart and those we left behind are with us. I imagine it feels like we all woke up in Christ’s presence together and even if there is some element of time there, it probably is so inconsequential that we won’t think twice about it.

Anyways, a lot of talk about death. But it’s good to think about. Because God is glorified in how we die perhaps even more than how we live. Something I should think about!

Fun fact that Cole and I talked about. If we watched Boondock Saints with Christian convictions in mind these days by using a filter like VidAngel (it is a movie we both watched multiple times in college), you would lose 18 minutes of screen time and nearly all of the audio is blocked out. I’m not sure how I enjoyed that movie. I want to watch the version where no audio comes out the whole time. Just random jumps between nonsensical half phrases as they seek to move around all the vulgarities in the movie!

Well, I finished up working and went to the library to pick up a book called The Core by Peter V. Brett. I’m dismayed, honestly. The last book in the series came out a bit over 2 years ago and at the time I was enjoying them. But there’s many things I did 2 years ago that I try not to do today. This series has really escalated the casual and subtle references to sex in it. Not explicit scences, but direct references to what is happening. It has kind of “fantasy” language, but it is vulgar. I’m disheartened because the premise is so intriguing and I want to see the heroes travel to the core and fight the demons. That’s not so hard to give me, right? Why are all these allusions to physical relationships between men and women so prevalent?

If I get a few chapters more in and this has not stopped, I am going to put it down. I don’t need junk in my life. And as much as the premise is one of the better ones I’ve come across, it is not delivering because it has gotten waylaid by the writer’s propensity for sexual daydreaming that comes across in his writing. I wonder what the state of his sexual life is. I hope it is healthy, but I have a discomforted feeling that if this book expresses anything about his mind then it is not — and I don’t want to partake in a mind like that.

After eating some leftover kielbasa and reading I went to meet Andrew Toburen at Starbucks. We had a good time catching up and just talking about what it is like being a dad and starting grad programs and providing for his family and so much more. Good to spend time with a brother who wants to be intentional about following Christ faithfully! We’re going to try to start meeting up more regularly, and so I hope to provide him with a good male friend to walk through this time of life with.

Time to read Exodus 9-12 and then go to bed. No other reading tonight. It’s already been a long enough day and I’m behind when I want to go to bed anyways.

Lord, let me toil with all your energy at the tasks laid before me. For I do not have the energy, the wisdom, or the capacity to do it on my own. I praise you, Father, for providing us with the opportunity to be your heralds of the Gospel and that in your foolishness to use the plans you do, you still show yourself wiser than the world. What a God we worship where his foolishness is higher above our best thoughts than the stars are above the Earth!

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