Saturday, December 19, 2009

Taking a Break

I am taking a break from the internet, except for answering personal emails once a day, until after the first of the year.

I hope to come with a meaningful post after that time.

Until then, please enjoy some of my favorite blogs, and don't forget about me!!


Tim Challies

Kevin DeYoung

Friday, December 11, 2009

And trying my hand at an answer, part 3 (final)

This is my final post in this series. To recap, I was asked a question by a friend:

Why were miracles performed in biblical times, but, they aren't performed now? And I'm not talking 'the cancer is in remission' kinda miracles...I'm talking water into wine miracles...parting of the sea miracles.

I don't understand the mystery. Why does God have to be so elusive? It seems kinda mean, and unfair to us...the generations of people after Jesus...who don't get to see the works of God. In biblical days, they could see, feel, and talk to Jesus. If they had a question, it could be answered. I mean, for those people...they had cold hard facts.

We don't have that luxury. And I guess I kinda answered my own question...there is no physical manifestation of God here today, so we don't have miracles.

That still doesn't seem fair.

I responded in two posts, here and here, and this one is a wrap up to the whole thing. I want to stress that this is simply my take on these things, for what it's worth. I don't claim to be an expert in anything, I'm simply a woman who seeks the Lord and likes to write things about Jesus. That's all. That's just to say that I am not claiming to be an authority, this is just my best opinion with where I am right now with my walk with Christ. Onto the subject matter at hand...

One thing I'd like to mention is that God chose the nation of Israel to be His people, and before Christ came, the physical manifestation of God was limited to their nation. Everyone else was considered a Gentile, and very few Gentiles are recorded as becoming part of the Jewish nation, although there are a few, such as Rahab and Ruth (both of whom are in the lineage of Christ, by the way). What that means is that unless you were a Jew, you were likely to be without hope in the world. So just the fact that we live in a time when God has opened up His plan of salvation to allow for outsiders (Gentiles) to be saved is something to be thankful for.

Most miraculous of all: Christ Himself!! The God that created the universe became a man! He laid down His glory and put on flesh, in humily, and became the lowest of men. He was poor. He was born in a dirty stable with the stench of animal excrement around. He suffered and bled and died for sinful men. He is the miracle of all miracles. Ponder it.

One other important thing to remember is that Christ did not stay dead. My faith hinges on the resurrection account being true (I Corinthians 15:14), and I believe wholeheartedly that it is.

(I feel a whole new series coming on! :) I have been learning about what happens when a person gets "saved" and this is going to touch on it, now.)

What that means for the present day person walking around is colossal, and is actually relevant to the question of whether miracles happen today, or not.

See, prior to Christ, the Jews had a ceremonial law they had to follow, which included the famous Ten Commandments and some 600-odd other laws. These were God's requirements for righteousness. But the problem was that they could never keep them all. No one could, and that was God's point in giving the law (Romans 3:20). But God graciously provided a way for them to be seen as righteous, which was the sacrificial system - but not the system itself or the sacrifice, the faith that was required to carry it out was what allowed God to count them as righteous (Romans 3:28).

The burden of the Law was exceedingly heavy for the Jews, because it was impossible to attain righteousness that way. But then when Jesus came, He perfectly fulfilled every last requirement of the Law, and with His death, He provided the final sacrifice (ever wonder why the sacrificial system is no longer in place?!?).

One of the wonderful things that happened as a result is that now, when a person places their faith in Christ and accepts His perfect, glorious gift of life, God creates a new, spiritual person in place of the old, natural person. The creation of the Christian is literally a creative act of God, occurring today. That's a theological term called regeneration, and it covers a scope of things I am just now learning about and will probably write about sometime soon.

To me, that is the next most miraculous thing of all...God takes a broken, rebellious vessel such as myself and transforms me, literally creating a new spiritual person (2 Corinthians 5:17, Galatians 6:15). To the skeptic, it may look like I "got my life together" but I know the truth! He created a new being in me! Not only that, but I live daily with the Holy Spirit inside, guiding and instructing me, and living out the life of Christ through me! (Galatians 2:20)

I want to wrap up with one last thing. Jesus said He did not come to call the righteous, but sinners (Matthew 9:12-13). If you are reading, and you are a skeptic, I want to encourage you to lay your skepticism down for a bit, and to pick up some humility. I know for a fact that God answers humble prayers of people who want to know if Jesus is real. My husband is living proof of that. But He will not pay heed to the prayers of proud, haughty people (James 4:6). If you are looking for reasons to disbelieve, you will find them. As I touched on in my last post, even some of those that witnessed the miracles of Christ firsthand disbelieved. But for those that understood their need for a Savior, He was seen for who He was and welcomed (Luke 7:37-38).

I encourage you, take a look at your own life. Ask yourself if you are really as "good" as you think you are. Does your "good" outweigh your "bad?" Can it? If you've ever been around a toddler, you will know that your "bad" is stacked against you MAJORLY from the get-go, before you even know what's what. See your need for a Savior. Then approach the Bible, and Jesus, from that angle. The Gospel of John is a good place to start. Ask God if Jesus is who He says He is. And allow Jesus to ask you the question, "Who do you say I am?" (Matthew 16:15-17)

Monday, December 7, 2009

And trying my hand at an answer, part 2

This series began with a question on the post found here, and then I answered partially on the post found here, and will continue that answer today. I will do a final post, part 3, as a wrap up and summary in the next few days.

Just to give context, the question posed to me was this:

Why were miracles performed in biblical times, but, they aren't performed now? And I'm not talking 'the cancer is in remission' kinda miracles...I'm talking water into wine miracles...parting of the sea miracles.

I don't understand the mystery. Why does God have to be so elusive? It seems kinda mean, and unfair to us...the generations of people after Jesus...who don't get to see the works of God. In biblical days, they could see, feel, and talk to Jesus. If they had a question, it could be answered. I mean, for those people...they had cold hard facts.

We don't have that luxury. And I guess I kinda answered my own question...there is no physical manifestation of God here today, so we don't have miracles.

That still doesn't seem fair.

This post will focus on the part of the question that deals with Jesus, and the generation that walked with Him on this earth and witnessed His miracles up close and personal. Again, I will try not to ramble, but this could get lengthy, as well.

The Bible talks a lot about miracles when it talks about Jesus.

The first miracle associated with Jesus that I'd like to talk about is some direct prophecy. In the spirit of Christmas, I want to point to some verses predicting the birth of a miracle Child, written approximately 700 years before Christ was born.

Isaiah 7:14 - “Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.”

Isaiah 9:6 - “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”

So, this baby was born. And all of Israel had been keeping their eyes out for just such a baby, the Messiah that would take the government on His shoulders. At the time Jesus was born, Israel was under Roman rule, so this was especially appealing to them. They desired release from their oppression and felt their Messiah was just the one to do that for them.

Then Jesus comes into the picture. He heals the sick and lame, makes the blind see and the deaf hear. He casts out demons and declares sin forgiven. He fed thousands with just a few loaves of bread and some fish. Twice. I could go on and on and on.

He performed miracles day in and day out, in order to show His power was from God (Mark 2:1-12).

From here, 2000+ years later, it seems simple. Its obvious. He is a powerful man, and if only we could have laid our eyes on Him, it would be so easy to believe.

I want to suggest that perhaps for them, the fact that they could lay their eyes on Him was a major obstacle to belief. I think they were looking for something else, probably political might that would overthrow the Roman government. They certainly did not think that their Messiah would be teaching against the religious leaders of the day. They had expectations He did not meet. It is interesting to examine the way they responded to Him.

They opposed Him. (Mark 2:6-7) They did their best to trap Him with questions (Matthew 22:15, Luke 20:26, John 8:6). They tried to stone Him (John 8:59, John 10:31). They said He got His power from the devil.

Most of those walking with Him did not believe the miracles they were privileged to see.

Those who knew Him best believed the least.

He did have followers, and friends, though. And while they walked with Him, learning from Him for three years, when He was arrested, they betrayed Him, abandoned Him and denied Him.

And when it came right down to it, the generation that walked with the Christ, the Living God, God in the Flesh come to save us from our sins, the generation that witnessed those miracles firsthand...

They killed Him.

And trying my hand at an answer, part 1

The question posed by my friend that I referenced in this blog post was:

Why were miracles performed in biblical times, but, they aren't performed now? And I'm not talking 'the cancer is in remission' kinda miracles...I'm talking water into wine miracles...parting of the sea miracles.

I don't understand the mystery. Why does God have to be so elusive? It seems kinda mean, and unfair to us...the generations of people after Jesus...who don't get to see the works of God. In biblical days, they could see, feel, and talk to Jesus. If they had a question, it could be answered. I mean, for those people...they had cold hard facts.

We don't have that luxury. And I guess I kinda answered my own question...there is no physical manifestation of God here today, so we don't have miracles.

That still doesn't seem fair.

I want to start with the specific incident of the parting of the sea, and move to Jesus, since those are the two specific things that were mentioned by my friend, and hopefully this won't get too long, although, I'm not making any promises.

In the parting of the sea miracle that was mentioned, God had just freed the nation of Israel from slavery to the Egyptians through a series of ten plagues that only plagued Egyptians and not the Hebrews, or Israelites. When Pharaoh had experienced enough of God's wrath, he finally let the Hebrews go (Exodus 12:31) so that they could strike out and become their own nation. The Egyptians gave them all kinds of riches (Exodus 12:36) because God had inclined the Egyptians' hearts toward the Hebrews. Once they were out of Egypt, the LORD went before them as a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night, and in this way He physically led them.

Exodus 14 gives the account of how God hardened the heart of Pharaoh to pursue the Israelites, and that He would use that for His glory. The LORD led the Israelites to a place where the Red Sea was in front of them and the Egyptian army was closing in on them from behind. It seemed like a hopeless situation, and it didn't take the Israelites very long to turn in their hearts against their Deliverer. The mighty God that plagued Egypt with ten plagues that did not touch the Israelites even though they lived mixed together, the mighty God that delivered them out of the Egyptians slavery even though the Egyptians were stronger and had rule over them, the mighty God that physically manifested Himself as a pillar of cloud in the daytime and a pillar of fire at night, never leaving them alone in their journey from the time they left Egypt. That mighty God they questioned, as soon as their frightened hearts perceived an impossible situation.

Exodus 14:10-12 - As Pharaoh approached, the Israelites looked up, and there were the Egyptians, marching after them. They were terrified and cried out to the LORD. They said to Moses, "Was it because there were no graves in Egypt that you brought us to the desert to die? What have you done to us by bringing us out of Egypt? Didn't we say to you in Egypt, 'Leave us alone; let us serve the Egyptians'? It would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the desert!"

But God is faithful, and He did not bring them out to die, so He did not allow them to die. He used Moses to part the Red Sea, standing between the Israelites and the Egyptians, shedding light on Israel and darkness on Egypt, keeping them apart to allow Israel time to cross. I don't know how many Israelites there were, but I have seen estimations of 3 to 6 million people, crossing the sea as if on dry land, with water piled up on either side of them as a wall (Exodus 14:22).

When Israel made it through and the Egyptians followed, then the LORD closed the sea and defeated the Egyptians.

Less than a chapter later, in Exodus 15:22-24, Israel is grumbling against Moses because they have not been able to find water in the desert yet. In Exodus 16, they complain because they don't have food, saying it would have been better to have died by the LORD's hand in Egypt than to die in the desert for lack of food.

These same people made and worshiped a golden calf when Moses went up to receive the Law from God. He brought the Ten Commandments down from Mt. Sinai and found the people worshiping an idol (Exodus 32:1).

Of this entire generation of people that were physically delivered from slavery by these amazing miracles, that my friend called "cold hard facts," only two of them trusted God and were allowed to live to see the Promised Land. Israel wandered the desert for forty years until the entire generation died except Joshua and Caleb (Numbers 32:12-14).

This has gotten very long, so I am going to pick up tomorrow with Jesus and then wrap it up, maybe with that post, maybe with a third. Thanks for sticking with me.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Here's a question for you...

A friend posed a question for me in an email a few months ago, and I have been pondering it since, and asked permission to address it on my blog. Here is the question:

Why were miracles performed in biblical times, but, they aren't performed now? And I'm not talking 'the cancer is in remission' kinda miracles...I'm talking water into wine miracles...parting of the sea miracles.

I don't understand the mystery. Why does God have to be so elusive? It seems kinda mean, and unfair to us...the generations of people after Jesus...who don't get to see the works of God. In biblical days, they could see, feel, and talk to Jesus. If they had a question, it could be answered. I mean, for those people...they had cold hard facts.

We don't have that luxury. And I guess I kinda answered my own question...there is no physical manifestation of God here today, so we don't have miracles.

That still doesn't seem fair.

I would like to ask my Christian readers to weigh in on this, and I'm going to take a stab at it, and will post on Monday.

Friday, December 4, 2009

The Object of our Faith

An excerpt from One Heartbeat Away, by Mark Cahill:

"Suppose I were in the northern U.S. in December, and after a few days of below-freezing temperatures, ice began to form on a nearby lake. I've enjoyed walking on a frozen lake before, so let's say I decide that I'd like to walk on this one. But then I get a better idea: I decide to take a snowmobile out onto the ice. I have seen people do that on TV, and it looks like so much fun.

Even better, I am going to build a snow ramp so I can launch the snowmobile into the air, land it on the ice, and slide for a good distance. Now, that sounds like a lot of fun! There is only one problem: No matter how much I believe I can do that, no matter how much faith I have, I would go right through the ice because it would still be very thin. That's reality.

Now suppose it is February at the same lake, and we have had over two straight months of below-freezing temperatures. Although I really want to walk out onto the ice, I'm afraid to do it because a friend fell through the ice a few months earlier. So I'm only willing to take one foot and step ever so lightly onto the ice to make sure it would support my weight. Not only does the ice hold me up, it would have supported a snowmobile being launched into the air and landing on it. Why? The ice is many feet thick by this time.

What is the difference between these two scenarios? In the first, I had all the faith in the world, but the object of my faith wasn't what I thought it was: The ice was too thin. I would be taking a blind leap of misplaced faith.

In the second scenario, if I had considered the evidence, I could have placed only a small amount of faith into action and I would have been just fine.


The key is not the amount of faith we have, but the object of that faith. That is, are we believing or trusting in something that is actually true?

So, it doesn't really matter what we believe about life after death. But it does matter whether the object of our faith is trustworthy and will support our trust. Are you taking a blind leap onto some "thin ice" for eternity, or is the "ice" you will be landing on many feet thick?"

Thursday, December 3, 2009


If there is a God, and He created the earth and everything in it - even the very breath that is in your lungs at this moment - and you suddenly find yourself standing before Him once you have left this earth, do you think you'll be the one asking questions? (Romans 3:19)

Monday, November 23, 2009

Broken Glass and a Savior's Love

This morning I shattered a glass on the kitchen floor. That is a big deal, because I have a two and a half year old and an eight month old, and they are all over the floor, all the time.

I shut them in the bedroom together (never sure if that's a great idea!) and got out the vacuum to try to get all the shards.

As I vacuumed, I began to pray, "God, if there is any of this glass I miss, I ask that you'd let me step on it rather than them."

And it occurred to me...

God's love for us is like that.

His love is so intense that He's taken the suffering for us. He knew there was no way we could avoid the broken glass of our sin, and rather than leave us to ourselves, He came and suffered in our place. He took our pain, humiliation and suffering on Himself as Jesus bore our sins in His body on the cross (1 Peter 2:24).

How He loves us.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Learning to Love Correction

I was incredibly impacted by this clip. It is well worth the 10 minutes it would take to watch it, and I encourage you to do so!

May God use it to bless you as He has me.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Raising the Dead

John 11 tells the story of a dead man that was raised to life.

John 11 tells my story.

I was dead in my sin, though my body looked alive. I had a pulse, my heart was beating, my brain worked. But spiritually, I was dead and rotting. The Bible describes it as walking around with a throat like an open grave.

I would have told you that my life was great. I was having fun, living life, doing the best I could. I enjoyed my lifestyle, at least on the surface. It was a double-edged sword, because while on the outside things were fun and light, on the inside, I was in turmoil. Occasionally, there would be moments where I would see things as they were, I would stop and listen to my conscience, but then I would go back to my soul-numbing life, dead and lifeless.

Then, one day, in the depth of my despair, I heard His voice. Not an audible voice, but looking back, I can see it so clearly. He called me, just as He called Lazarus in John 11:43. I obeyed, bowed my heart and knee to Him, and turned from my life of prideful self-rule. When, in humility, I admitted that I was not good enough and I had no hope outside of Him, in kindness He saved me. He called me out of the grave and gave me new life. He rose me from the dead.

John 11 can tell your story.

If you have not already, admit you are dead in your sin. Turn from your sin. Trust in Christ alone for your resurrection. Your participation in salvation is just as Lazarus'. Jesus calls. You respond in obedience and place your faith in Him (trust Him as you would a parachute if you were jumping from an airplane), and He raises you from the dead to new life in Him.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Persecution Prayer Request

From VOM:

Three masked members of a militant Islamic group shot to death a Somali Christian who declined to wear a veil as prescribed by Muslim custom, according to a Compass News Direct source in Somalia.

Members of the Suna Waljameca group killed Amina Muse Ali, 45, on Oct. 19 at 9:30 p.m. in her home in Somalia's autonomous Puntland region, according to the source.
Ali had told Christian leaders she had received several threats from members of Suna Waljameca for not wearing a veil, symbolic of adherence to Islam. She said members of the group had long monitored her movements because they suspected she was a Christian.

The source said Ali called him on Oct. 4 saying, "My life is in danger. I am warned of dire consequences if I continue to live without putting on the veil. I need prayers from the fellowship."

The slaying of Amina Muse Ali adds one more name to the list of Christians murdered in Somalia at the hands of Islamic extremists in recent months. Pray God will comfort their grieving families and bring them peace that passes understanding.

Pray the Holy Spirit will touch the hearts and minds of Muslims in Somalia to bring them to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ.

"I was shocked beyond words when I received the news that she had been shot dead," the source in Somalia told Compass by telephone.

Please pray for the persecuted church.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Sunday Spurgeon

"If you can't see His way past the tears, trust His heart."

- Charles Spurgeon

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Enemies of God?

Back on this post, I made this comment:

"All people, including the poor, are enemies of God - unless and until we place our faith in Christ as Savior."

My use of the term "enemies of God" garnered attention from a friend who is not a Christian, and she was gracious enough to point it out in the comments section, and I have been pondering it since then.

It is Biblically accurate. It is a term God uses to describe those that are not His children (by children I mean through a relationship with Jesus) in Romans, Colossians and Hebrews. But I can see how using it in an unqualified way could be offensive, and actually I had not completely thought through what it means to be an enemy of God.

Eternally speaking, if a person dies an enemy of God, what that means is that they will spend their eternity in hell, paying the punishment for their sin against Him.

But I'd like to take a moment to focus on what it means to be an enemy of God while a person is still breathing and alive on this earth.

Being God's enemy means that:

  • You are offered the chance to reconcile with God through the death of Christ (Romans 5:10)
  • You are offered the chance to be free of the sin that makes you His enemy, and to have the holiness that He requires as entrance into heaven (Colossians 1:20-22)
  • He wants you to be loved by people, especially His people (Matthew 5:43-45)
This list is not exhaustive, but is part of what I've come up with in regards to what it means to be an enemy of God. To me, the most astonishing thing is that while we were still enemies of God, Christ died for us.

When I say someone is an enemy of God, I don't mean that I am any better because I'm not. I mean that I used to be His enemy too, but because of Christ, I am now at peace with God (Romans 5:1). And anyone else can have peace with God, too, if only you open your heart and bend your knee to Jesus. Acknowledge Him as Lord, flee from your sin into His open arms. He has done all the work, you only need to accept it in faith and turn to Him. He does not want you to stay His enemy. He loves you beyond all imagination. His love is deep and far and wide.

But it has to be received with humility, on His terms. These are rules we don't get to make up, and we don't get to bend, and we don't get any do-overs. This life is it. If you don't have a relationship with Christ through faith, seek Him while He may still be found, before you die and face Him in His glory. Don't lay your head on your pillow tonight without being certain of where you will spend your eternity, and don't die His enemy. He has made it possible.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

It's all His

There are several things that title could pertain to.

Tonight, it pertains to a decision I made this morning.

When I am sharing my faith, there are times that I will be mocked, and my words and intent twisted beyond recognition, as happened today.

I am, by nature, a very sensitive person. This kind of stuff gets to me. See, I want people to like me. And when they don't...well, I take it pretty hard. I care more than I want to admit.

But today, I decided that I really can't get my feelings hurt anymore. I mean, I had already decided that. But I decided again. Because of this:

Matthew 5:10-12 - Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

and this:

Luke 6:22 - Blessed are you when men hate you, when they exclude you and insult you and reject your name as evil, because of the Son of Man.

I was told today that I "spew venom" and that I am a "very good reason some people disbelieve in anything at all." Those words may not seem so hurtful now, but in the moment, they were.

In America, we don't often (I didn't say never, just not often) get the chance to be persecuted for our faith. But when we are, it will most often come when we claim to know the truth, about anything. So while this persecution isn't on the level of the Voice of the Martyrs, I'll take what I can get. Because God says I am blessed for it. And I believe Him.

The thing is, the Bible teaches that it is actually Jesus who they are angry with, Jesus who they take issue with. Jesus is the one who claimed to be the Truth. Jesus is the one who claimed to be the only Way. Jesus is the one who took the persecution then, and takes it now. When I am hated for His sake, I am blessed because He takes it for me. The persecution is His. It's all His.

As He increases, and I decrease, that becomes more and more obvious to me. I have to get out of the way. Because when I take things personally, it becomes about me, and not Him. But when I move, He takes the blow for me, and then blesses me for it. And He gets the glory.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Do actions speak louder than words?

Mr. Claiborne has me actions speak louder than words? Or is that phrase and philosophy detrimental to the gospel?

Did Jesus model this for us in any way? I believe He did...His first recorded words in Mark's Gospel are "The kingdom of God is near. Repent and believe the good news!"

Why would Jesus tell some of the people he healed, "Your sins are forgiven," and then heal them? Is it possible He was prioritizing for us the matters of importance?

What is eternal in this life? Is it hunger? Is it pain? Is it sickness? Those things are temporary. So then feeding people, alleviating pain, and healing them are all temporary also. They are the things that will benefit them temporarily in this temporary world.

What is eternal is the word of God. And a person's soul. So we can feed a person all we want, but in the end, if they go to hell with a full belly, they are NOT better off.

We cannot neglect one for the other.

Just as it is unbalanced to simply provide for people's physical needs to the neglect of their spiritual, it is unbalanced to preach the gospel and not live a life worthy of the calling we've received.


It is essential.

My point is mostly this: Our lives must provide the platform of credibility from which we share the words of the Lord.

I find that when I leave my house with the intention of sharing the gospel with someone, I am not impatient with that car in front of me that just.won't.move. Because I have an eternal perspective, and that person may be the one I am going to speak to, and my actions need to do nothing to hinder my words. I am friendly to the cashier, and show patience as I wait in line. And its genuine, not put on, because I know that my wait time is not nearly as important as the message I am carrying around.

If you think tracts are a waste of time and paper, I'd encourage you to reexamine what God says about His word. Some good Scriptures are 1 Peter 1:24-25, Isaiah 55:10-12, John 1:1, to name a few. I've also read more than one testimonial of how a quality tract made a difference in someone's life. (note the word quality, please)

I truly believe we should all do our part to love our neighbors in every way possible. I agree that the church in the past has been a lot about hellfire and brimstone preaching yet looking down their noses at the very people who need them. I agree that mistakes have been made, priorities have been skewed. But let's not make the opposite mistake in letting the pendulum swing the other way entirely to only "being Jesus" to people instead of giving them the words of life.

But if we buy into letting our life speak for itself - instead of allowing our life to lend credibility to our message - I believe we are buying into human logic and not God's wisdom.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Some Questions to Ponder

If there is a God, and He has lovingly created a beautiful environment for us to live in and enjoy, doesn't it make sense that He would want us to know Him?

If He wants us to know Him, doesn't it make sense that He has made Himself plain and not hidden Himself?

If He has made Himself plain, doesn't it make sense that we can observe our world and learn about Him that way?

Since our world is so amazingly beautiful, doesn't it make sense that He is amazingly beautiful as well?

Since our world is incredibly detailed, wouldn't it make sense that He would be very particular about the way in which we may know Him?

If our sin is so offensive to Him, doesn't it make sense that He would have to take extreme measures (the cross of Christ) in order to save us from it?

If there really is a Satan, wouldn't it make sense that he would do anything within his power to keep us from his enemy, our God?

If there really is a truth, wouldn't it make sense that the enemy of God would distort it in so many different ways so as to confuse us and misguide us?

If our eyes can be so easily fooled by optical illusions, is it so unreasonable to think that our brains could be fooled by an extremely intelligent, deviously crafty spiritual creature?

Monday, October 19, 2009

The Gospel and David Letterman

I realize I'm running a little behind here, but I have been mulling this over in my head for a few days now.

In case you hadn't heard, David Letterman was the victim of an extortion plot whereby a person that works at CBS gathered evidence against him regarding affairs he had been having with women that work for him at the studio, and put it all in a box, and threatened to reveal everything through a screenplay and a book if Letterman didn't give him $2,000,000.

The video of his confession can be found here. Knowing what was coming, I was uncomfortable watching as he told the story piece by piece, and the audience, expecting to be entertained, kept laughing at stuff that I didn't feel like laughing at. It was a pretty uncomfortable thing for me to watch.

At one point, he told of having to stand before a Grand Jury and tell all of the "terrible, terrible" things that he had done, that this man was threatening to expose him for. He was embarrassed by that; it was a hard thing to do to stand there and speak about those things.

I couldn't help but think of the fact that one day, we will all stand before the Judge. He will know all of our thoughts and deeds from the day we were born until the day we died. What was done in secret will be laid out for examination. All the terrible, terrible things we have done and thought will be exposed, and all the good we should have done but didn't will be exposed as well.

We will be seen for how we really are, and all of us have a list of things that would be difficult to stand in front of the Judge and recount. After all, He is a perfect Judge, and He requires perfection of us. And which one of us is perfect?

David Letterman has experienced some human consequences for his actions. The eternal consequences still remain for him.

When David Letterman stands before God, this sequence of events will be only one of the many things that God will hand down a sentence for. Every instance of God's law being broken carries with it a sentence. A sentence that will be carried out in hell, in eternal torment.

This is where the gospel comes in.

If David Letterman were to turn to Christ and away from his sin, trusting God's provision of a sacrifice for him personally, then that courtroom scene would look a little different.

Instead of David Letterman standing before the Judge, being accountable for all he's ever done and thought, Jesus would be standing there, taking responsibility for it all.

Jesus stands before the Judge, with compassion, and lovingly accepts the punishment for the crimes we've committed.

Do you get it? Do you see?

We will all stand there one day, on the Day of Judgment, and someone will be declared Guilty.

God has made provision for our guilt through Christ. Jesus came to live a life free of sin so that He could pay our penalty. All that's required of us is faith. Faith in Jesus, taking Him at His word, that we are guilty (and you know, even if you are a good person by the world's have not lived up to God's know that...), and that His payment is sufficient for us.

Stand before God on the Day of Judgment and be declared Innocent. It is possible.

But only through Christ.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Thursday Nugget

"If you wish to know God, you must know his Word.
If you wish to perceive His power,
you must see how He works by his Word.
If you wish to know His purpose before it comes to pass,
you can only discover it by His Word."
(C.H. Spurgeon)

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Eternal Hope

I came across a quote today that is disturbing to me, and I wanted to address it quickly. On the surface, it sounds so good, but when you dig at it a little, it is really un-Biblical. And the reason it concerns me so much is that it is coming from a guy that has a pretty good looking ministry going. It looks good on the surface, but I really wonder if people are having their physical needs met in an abundant way, yet their deepest spiritual needs are being neglected. I'll give you the quote, then I'll elaborate on that thought.

"Even if there were no heaven and there were no hell, would you still follow Jesus? Would you follow him for the life, joy, and fulfillment he gives you right now?" - Shane Claiborne

Now I want to start by saying that Mr. Claiborne is a champion for radical Christian living, taking care of the poor and downtrodden in the name of Christ, living lives that Jesus would recognize as Christ-following lives. And I think that is something that the Christian church today needs to hear, and do...desperately.

But here's the rub.

That can't come at the expense of sharing the true gospel, which is the forgiveness of sins through Jesus Christ.

All people, including the poor, are enemies of God - unless and until we place our faith in Christ as Savior. This life is not just about what happens now. This life is not just about life, joy and fulfillment on this earth. And I would submit for your consideration that this life is not mainly about those things.


Ask the family of this man, or the flock of Pastor Manuel, or any of the rest of the persecuted church what they think of the life, joy and fulfillment they have received on this earth. Completely different kind of fulfillment than Mr. Claiborne touts as the end all of Christian living.

I'm very troubled by the trend in some Christian circles of social justice to the neglect of the gospel. Mr. Claiborne has swept aside the eternal aspect of the hope that we have in Christ, which is the hope to come. That is perilous to the people you are ministering to, and your ministry is useless if it doesn't address a person's greatest spiritual need primarily. If you feed a person to contentment here on earth, that will not matter one tiny bit if they face God without Christ on the Day of Judgment.

Finally, contrast Mr. Claiborne's question with Paul's (God's) statement in 1 Corinthians 15:19 - If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are to be pitied more than all men.

What are your thoughts?

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Nothing Left to Accuse

About a month and a half ago, I had a meeting with a family member (let's call her "A"), and a counselor because of a rift between this family member and I that we could not solve on our own. "A" was hurt by some interactions we'd had and was keeping a wall up in between us, that I could feel every time we were around each other. Our interactions had been limited since January of 2008, but believe me, every time we were in the same room, I could feel that barrier. And this from a person that I have been close to my entire life.

This was really difficult for me. I am not used to family members shutting down on me. I have always prided myself on being a person that is closer to most of my family members than the others are. You know, because I'm such a good person (ick...NOT!). It was a source of validation for me, since I usually feel so unworthy.

Just before the meeting, I decided I was going to sit down and make a timeline of the events, so that I would have something objective to look at and reference during the meeting, because I have a tendency to get emotional and forget stuff, and I was afraid to forget something important. So I sat down with my Bible and a piece of paper and a pen, ready to write down all the ways our relationship went wrong, and where I felt we needed to work on it. I had an idea in my mind of where this was going to go, since I had her nasty email that she sent me right in front of me. In fact, I was going to make my timeline on this email. I sat down ready to accuse her.

Then God showed up.

Sitting on my couch, early one morning, God came and showed me everything I had done wrong in that relationship. All the wrongs I had committed, every way I had acted arrogant toward her and been prideful in my heart and bitter in my speech.

God wrecked me.

And it was the sweetest, most beautiful moment between He and I, and I realized then that when we went into that meeting, there was nothing left for her to accuse me of. My wrongdoings had already been terrible enough that Jesus had to die to take God's punishment off of my head. His death was required for my sin. I was as bad as she was saying. And worse.

This reaches so far into my life, and if I would just hold onto it, I could see so much more clearly. It doesn't take much for me to get caught up in feeling like people should be nice to me or like I deserve something. But if I could remember that my very existence before God was so detestable that the only way for me to be made acceptable to Him was the death of His Son, then I would do well.

"A" had nothing left to accuse me of, because anything she could have thought up was true. My husband has nothing left to accuse me of, because I have done and thought so much worse than he can bring up. can say nothing bad about me that isn't true on some level, because if I'm not doing it now, certainly I have, or have thought of doing it, which the Bible says counts.

On the flip side of that, I have nothing to accuse "A" of because who I am apart from Jesus and what I've done in my life is so bad, it caused Jesus to be put to death. I have nothing left to accuse my husband or children of, because I have done and thought so many terrible things in my life, were it not for Jesus, the punishment required would be an eternity of torment in hell. I have nothing to accuse you of, because Jesus is the only reason I can stand here today in freedom. The only reason.

The point I want desperately to make is that it all hinges on Jesus, and the life He lived which was perfect. Since I could never be perfect, and perfection is what is required to enter into eternity with God, I need Jesus. The Bible teaches that all can freely come to Jesus, but there is something required of us, and that is faith. Not just a kind of faith that agrees, but the kind of faith that trusts, like trusting a parachute when you jump out of a plane. It is not enough to know about Jesus, and his death on the cross and resurrection. We have to trust Him with our very lives, which involves leaving our sin behind and pressing toward Him. We will never achieve perfection, but we agree with God that we cannot do it on our own, that we mess up a lot, and that we need Jesus.

That is the gospel.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

The What Centered Life?

The title of this blog is The Gospel Centered Life.

It was born out of my desire to share the love of Christ with others.

My intention is to share, in as many ways as possible, the gospel (means Good News!) of the forgiveness of sins that is found in Jesus Christ.

I will also be sharing the ups and downs and discoveries of my daily walk, as I am able to put things into words.

Be forewarned: I am messed up - BIG time. I struggle with stuff, I let people get to me, I am not loving toward all who I should be loving toward, I get my feelings hurt sometimes, I am hormonal, and sometimes (okay, most times!), I act out of feelings before I think about the consequences. In other words, I'm human. But, the God who knows me inside and out is the One who really counts. Its Him I run to when I have made the same mistake again, after twenty-five other times, and its Him who is able and willing to forgive, and heal the places where I hurt. And by His grace, I can live to try again, and hopefully do better next time. This blog will be full of those attempts.