Good Friday morning ...

I have a confession to make.

For years I didn't really believe Jeremiah 17:9 applied to me. Here's the verse: "The heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked (sick, beyond cure)"

I was certain that verse dealt with the world's bad guys like Idi Amin and Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden. But me? No way my heart was "deceitful" or "desperately wicked" After all, I didn't even smoke; didn't use drugs; didn't have any evil habits; had never been arrested. In fact, I've only had two speeding tickets since getting my driver's license at age 15. That's almost 61 years! One ticket every 30 1/2 years!

Now don't misunderstand me! I do believe in the depravity of man, but I never thought I was that bad to be described as desperately wicked or beyond cure. Much like Jack Horner of the nursery rhyme fame, I had concluded that I was a rather good boy. Even though the Bible assured me that Christ died for me while I was still a sinner ... there were times when I acted as though He need not have bothered.

You see, I was thinking that Jeremiah had in mind folks like the prodigal son of Jesus' parable and I was certainly no prodigal son. I felt comfortable in knowing I had not squandered my inheritance. But I came to find out that I shared the "holier-than-thou attitude" of the older brother. While I didn't waste my substance on riotous living, I did squander lots of time in self-righteous living.

I like being a "good man." The only problem is ... it isn't true! I hate to admit it, but I am too much like the Pharisee in another one of Jesus' famous stories. I also prided myself in my religiosity, on the fact that I was a pastor and had a long list of good activities in which I was involved. The absolute truth is ... I am not a good man!

C.S. Lewis once revealed to a friend that he regularly prayed for Hitler and Stalin during World War II because he realized that under different conditions his actions might have become equally as terrible as theirs. Lewis had learned the troubled lesson Paul expressed in Romans, "I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature." [Romans 7:18]

How true that is for each of us. We all have unlimited potential to do evil. That's a tough thing to accept, but it's true! All of us are sinners ... in fact, BIG TIME sinners ... and until we believe that we are as bad as God says we are ... we can never believe that He will do for us what He says He will do.

During the season of Lent we learn over and over again that God DID everything He promised He would do. He saved us from all our sins, and He forgives us when we confess those sins.

Yes, the heart IS deceitful above all things and it is desperately wicked ... but God has done something about it! By grace He has offered us a cure for our incurable, broken hearts ... and by faith we receive His gift of healing and rejoice in the rescue of our souls.

So, whether you can carry a tune in a bucket or not ... we should be singing with abandon: "Amazing grace! How sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me!" In God's ears it will be a beautiful sound. Let Him hear you singing or whistling or humming through these grace-filled days of Lent.

Blessings on your walk in this amazing grace ...