Updated 8/7/2012: We are down to our last few copies of the teaser edition of the forthcoming Mockingbird “Two Words” Devotional–grab your copy now! It contains one entry from each of the original 40 contributors (that number has since grown to 60), serving as a preview of the full-length edition which boasts 365 entries and is scheduled to be released at our Spring 2013 Conference in NYC (we’re serious this time!). The following is an excerpt from the introduction, a teaser of the teaser if you will:
The Bible addresses our everyday lives, full of problems and pressures. Contrary to popular belief, God does not approach us through His Word with a manual for living. He does not offer us a golden rule by which we can reach higher ground and begin to rid ourselves of our problem with sin. Instead, God comes to us through His Word in the midst of our problems, failure, and pain with an unexpected message that at first says, “The problem is much worse than you think.”
We all want the doctor to walk in and say, “It’s not too bad. Don’t worry, you’ll be fine.” However, when we read the Bible, we discover that our problem is dire. God is the Doctor, and He enters our lives and delivers the most disturbing news: “You are dead.” Our initial response is one of disbelief and defiance. We think, “You’re crazy! I am sitting right here talking to you. I know I don’t feel great, but I’m certainly not dead.” We tend not to agree with the diagnosis God delivers through His Word.
The Law [the standards and demands presented in the Bible] is the “first Word” we hear from God when reading the Bible, and often it seems all too familiar. It seems to affirm the small, condemning voice in the back of our heads that tells us that we do not cut it. It is consistent with our knee-jerk judgments of other people. It is consistent with our everyday disappointments and pain. It is our death sentence, and it is devastating. It must be so, however, in order for us to hear God’s “second” and final Word.
Only when we die to our illusions of control, success, power, victory, and self-reliance can we be born again into new life. After the Doctor’s disturbing diagnosis, which makes us want to storm out and get another opinion, we finally are ready to hear the cure. Ironically, the cure is found in the same place as the diagnosis: at the cross. There, we see that we are indeed beyond self-repair and need nothing short of salvation. There, we find our cure in the sacrifice of the innocent man, God’s only Son, Jesus.
That’s what this book is about. It is about the “two words” spoken by God, found in His Bible. Theologically, these words are known as the Law and the Gospel. Through the Law, God wakes us up to our true condition of being “dead in our trespasses.” We find ourselves standing at the cross guilty, deserving to be justly nailed to it and hung for all to see. But then comes the more powerful and final Word, the Gospel. In our stead comes a broken, beaten, innocent Jesus to be nailed on the cross for us, to hang for us, to be ridiculed for us, to die for us. In His actions, we discover the true definition of love. Love that transcends death. Love that breathes new life into these dry bones. Love that breaks the chains of sin and death and sets us free. Love that gives hope. Love that is unconditional and self-sacrificing.
At the cross, God speaks His two Words simultaneously. The whole of the Bible points to this one moment. The Bible and all of life function according to these two Words. In every situation, you can see the Law at work for the purpose of driving people to know their need and find the answer to it in the Gospel.
This is Christianity.