Starbuck’s Date Or Matchless King?

Jesus. We think of Him so casually much of the time, even imagining Him taking us on dates and sipping Starbuck’s coffee with us. Reverence for Him has all but vanished in contemporary evangelical churches.

Reverence doesn’t forbid updated musical arrangements, but it certainly calls us to focus on Jesus as our King. We owe Him respect, obedience and honor as we worship Him as King of all. And, in worshiping Him as King, we marvel that He died and rose on our behalf. Why would He do such a loving thing?

As today’s hymn shows, we have many reasons to crown Jesus with many crowns. Don’t let Enfield’s musical arrangement throw you; they’ve chosen time-honored lyrics that celebrate many facets of Christ’s majesty, reminding us of a wide variety of reasons He deserves our praise. Rather than diminish our glorious King to a dating partner, let’s hail Him as our matchless King through all eternity.

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Not Judging Women On Buses And Subways

ModestyIt’s that time of year. As the bus driver secured our wheelchairs yesterday, I remembered that taking public transportation means that women will board the bus and subway wearing less clothing than they should, revealing more of their bodies than they should. I know my husband works hard to avert his eyes and keep his thoughts honoring to the Lord, and I’m very proud of him. But I also know he needs my prayers.

But I also struggle with temptation when I see young women display more of their bodies than they should. I’m tempted to judge them.

Judging Christian women with the goal of gently helping them learn to attire themselves appropriately is one thing. I pray that my articles on modesty will help Christian women think through their wardrobe choices and clothe themselves in ways that honor the Lord and their brothers in Christ. Scripture mandates that Christians warn each other about sin. So I believe mature Christian women have a responsibility to teach our younger sisters in Christ how (and why) to dress modestly.

Most of the women I see on buses and subways, on the other hand,  probably aren’t Christians. Because of this probability, they simply don’t operate under Biblical convictions. I have no reason to expect that they should. As a matter of fact, God’s Word quite clearly says that believers must restrict judgment to those within the Church.

For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge? ~~1 Corinthians 5:12 (ESV)

Not judging these women doesn’t require that I condone the way they dress. Their immodesty is sinful regardless of their assessment of the situation. But because they most likely don’t know the Lord and therefore feel no compunction to submit to His authority, I’m wrong to expect that they would conform to His standards.

Sitting on the bus and imagining snarky comments to write about these women on Facebook merely exposes my self-righteousness and lack of concern for their eternal souls. Yes, I feel concern for my husband, knowing that he has a responsibility to the Lord to keep his thoughts pure. I definitely need to pray for him as he fights against his responses. But these women also need prayer. More likely than not, they need to come to a saving knowledge of Christ.

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Three Times My Savior

king-jesusOver the last six months, I’ve been praising each Person of the Trinity for His part in my salvation. Have you ever thought about salvation in terms of the Trinity?  I hadn’t until recently, when I started praying prayers of thanksgiving for having been saved from God’s eternal wrath and to eternal life.

The more I think about salvation, the more I understand that God did all the work in bringing me to Himself. In contrast to most of my Christian life, during which I routinely patted myself on the back for deciding to follow Jesus, I now focus on His gracious work to save me. For that reason, when I typed up my 2018 prayer guide in January, I considered how the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit each worked to bring me from death to life.

The Father

God the Father knew that I had absolutely no ability to atone for crimes against Him. I trespassed against His holy standards, and had no way of making an offering that could make up for those violations. Yet the Father loved me (for reasons I’ll never discern) so deeply that He provided an offering for me.

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. ~~John 3:16 (ESV)

Sometimes in prayer I’ll park on that thought for a while, thoroughly fascinated that the Father didn’t even require me to bring my own offering. He had made such requirements of the Old Testament Jews, but in His mercy He supplied the Lamb of God as the perfect offering for my sins. And therefore I thank the Father for His role in my salvation.

The Son

How can I fail to adore the Lord Jesus Christ, Who willingly went to the cross and accepted the punishment for my sins? So many beautiful Scriptures come to mind as I type these words, all testifying to His inexplicable love in offering Himself as the sacrifice for me.

 For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. ~~Romans 5:6 (ESV)

In my weakness and bondage to sin, Jesus Christ died as my substitute. I should have borne the Father’s wrath, but my gracious Savior bore it in my place. I can’t imagine the depth of His suffering as He hung on the cross, naked and bleeding, facing the punishment for sin on behalf of everyone who would believe in Him. Therefore I praise the Son for His role in my salvation.

The Holy Spirit

Ephesians 2:1 says that I was dead in my transgressions. I had no way of reaching out to God, and, for that matter, no real desire for Him. But the Holy Spirit took pity on my wretched condition and mercifully gave me His life.

 he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, ~~Titus 3:5 (ESV)

I thank the Holy Spirit daily for giving me new life in Christ. Through His power, I have the faith necessary to receive salvation. Without Him illuminating God’s Word to me, I would have no hope of understanding my dependence on the shed blood of Jesus to make me right with God. Therefore I honor the Holy Spirit for His role in my salvation.

Each Person of the Trinity has done so much to rescue me from the eternal consequences of my sin and to assure me of everlasting life that I have to worship each of Them! If you’ve never associated the Trinity with your salvation, pick up a Bible and examine passages about each Person and His role in salvation. You might find yourself worshiping Father, Son and Holy Spirit too.

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Why Christians Sing About The Cross So Often

Once I read a complaint that Christians sing about the cross too often. What an odd complaint! True Christians understand that Christ’s work on the cross was absolutely pivotal to our salvation.

We sing about the cross because we know how our sins used to dominate our lives, locking us into rebellion agency the holy God Who created us. Those sins kept us hostile to Him, setting us on a path that could only lead to an eternity in hell. No amount of contrition, confession or repentance could atone for our sins. Even or apparent good works were tainted by our sin nature.

We sing about the cross because Jesus, in His mercy, took our vile sins upon Himself, accepting the full force of His Father’s righteous wrath. We deserved that wrath, but our innocent Lord, after living a righteous life, willingly took the punishment on our behalf. He loves us that much!

We sing about the cross because, in taking our sins upon Himself, Jesus assigned His righteousness to us. Consequently, the Father will declare us righteous just as He declared Jesus guilty. We fear no condemnation, but instead eagerly look forward to an eternity in heaven with Jesus, where we’ll forever praise Him as we sing about the cross.

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Flashback Friday: Inconsequential Disability

 

This article originally appeared on October 20, 2016. Interestingly, I’ve been contemplating this topic lately, having forgotten that I wrote this post. Those of you who read it before might appreciate the reminder, while newer readers may benefit from my perspective.  If nothing else, you can enjoy my photo with Edge Allen Poe.img_0501Clearly, Cerebral Palsy affects every area of my life to one degree or another. I don’t really care for that fact, but there you have it. I’ve accepted the reality that my disability shapes and controls how I live in such a variety of ways that I could most likely write an interesting blog exclusively on that topic. If we throw John’s Polio into the mix, maybe we could get a good book deal going.

A lot of Christians with disabilities use their disabilities as platforms for ministry. Joni Eareckson Tada, of course, instantly comes to mind as the most notable example, although I’ve known others that also serve their fellow disabled people. Over the course of my life, I’ve made a few attempts at involvement in disability ministry…primarily because other people thought I should.

But, to be brutally honest, I’m simply not interested in disability. Not even my own disability, despite its pervasive nature. If I write about it now and then, I generally do so out of necessity, aware that I can’t totally avoid the subject. Even as a blogger, I need to help my readers understand why my posts are so short; typing with a headstick (especially in conjunction with the involuntary movements of Cerebral Palsy) means that I can’t produce 1,000 word essays every day. Yet, I only mention this fact because I need to.

Some people have suggested that I’ve always avoided disability ministry out of denial. I’ll admit that I want, in some ways, to distance myself from disability, but charging me with denial seems a bit ridiculous. C’mon folks, I married a man who also uses a wheelchair! I can hardly be accused of running away from disability when I deal with both his and mine. I married John, accepting his disability (just as he married me accepting mine), fully aware of the many implications involved.

Occasionally, yes, the Lord uses my disability (or John’s) to give me insight into a Scriptural principle, and I have no problem writing about those instances. If I can exploit my disability to bring glory and honor to the Lord Jesus Christ, I won’t hesitate to take full advantage of the opportunity. But, for the most part, my blog rarely mentions wheelchairs, headsticks, Personal Care Attendants or any of the oddities that come with having a severe physical disability.

My true passion is teaching women the importance of good doctrine. Writing a blog about disability issues might get me a bigger audience (particularly if I hinted here and there about my sex life, I suppose). But I see a much greater need in the Body of Christ than telling people how to handle temporal suffering. Actually, I seldom consider myself as afflicted anyway, especially when I remember Christians in other countries who are being tortured, imprisoned and killed for their faith in Jesus Christ. Those people suffer infinitely more than I ever have.

The disability I really want to blog about has nothing to do with Cerebral Palsy, and everything to do with spiritual health. With evangelicals increasingly minimizing the importance of the Bible in favor of emotional experiences and distorted ideas of Jesus, I desire to challenge the fads and false teaching that cripple God’s people. Believe me, ladies, these handicaps have far more eternal consequences than whether or not I can walk. Therefore, I reserve the right to focus on the clear teachings of Scripture, not on disability, praying that Christ will receive the glory.

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Throwback Thursday: A Question Of Choice

Originally published on September 28, 2016.

cropped-cropped-cropped-img_4654.jpgGenerally, evangelism should present evidence of a person’s need for salvation, followed by an explanation that Jesus died as a substitute for that person, rising again as a guarantee of eternal life for those who would believe in Him. From there, evangelism should instruct the person to repent of their sin and put their trust in the Lord Jesus Christ. I have little doubt that I’ll write future blog posts elaborating on these points.

Neither John nor I came to faith as a result of such a presentation, however. Yet the Holy Spirit exposed us to Scripture, and worked through that Scripture to give us saving faith (please see Romans 10:17). I believe our rather unconventional conversions each testify to God’s Irresistible Grace.

An updated phrase for Irresistible Grace (and a phrase I used yesterday) is effectual call.” Both terms emphasize the idea that the people God elects for salvation will respond to Him. Obviously, I can’t type out all the verses and passages that substantiate this doctrine, but OpenBible.info provides this helpful compilation.

Our Armimian brothers and sisters, many of whom genuinely know and love the Lord, argue that Irresistible Grace violates the doctrine of free-will. I agree! The Bible, even in the verses that appear to teach free-will, consistently affirms the ultimate sovereignty of God. Therefore, He gives us a willingness to choose Him as a result of our regeneration.

In addressing the matter of the effectual call, it follows, we must maintain that the doctrine of free-will suggests that God is at the mercy of human choice. Arminians believe that God’s foreknowledge of who would respond to the Gospel determined who He included as His elect. I certainly used to embrace that theory. But eventually He confronted me with Ephesians 1:3-10.

3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, 4 even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love 5 he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, 6 to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. 7 In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, 8 which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight 9 making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ 10 as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth. (ESV)

Notice verse 4, which says that the Father chose us. It gives absolutely no indication that He looked helplessly down the “corridors of time” to see who would decide to follow Jesus. This passage depicts a God Who fully controls redemptive history (and all history, for that matter) according to His plans and purpose.

Making the Almighty Creator of heaven and earth dependent on whether or not or not we choose to be saved erodes His sovereignty. As a matter of fact, the doctrine of free-will pretty much transfers sovereignty to us. Isn’t that essentially blasphemous? I think so!

Additionally, the doctrine of free-will assumes that human beings possess an ability to choose to follow Christ. I’ll remind you, in considering this point, of Ephesians 2:1-3.

And you were dead in the trespasses and sins 2 in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— 3 among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.  (ESV)

These verses describe unregenerate people. In other words, this is who you and I were prior to becoming Christians (and who you are if  you don’t yet have saving faith in the Lord Jesus Christ). Our physical bodies functioned, but we had no capacity or desire to  respond to the things of God. We lacked any ability to come to Him on our own volition (consider Romans 3:10-18). Consequently, we can only choose to follow Christ after the Holy Spirit does His regenerating work in us.

Of course, entire books devote themselves to refuting the doctrine of free-will, beginning with Martin Luther’s The Bondage of the Will (which I’m currently slogging through), so I hardly think that this minuscule article  will settle the question. But I wanted you to see the Scriptures that have most helped me work through this objection to Irresistible Grace.
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