Eat Some Of The Ice Cream, But Don’t Give Up

“That’s it — I’m done!”

John has lost count of the times I’ve declared those words out of frustration and hopelessness. Maybe you’ve also thrown up your hands and made similar pronouncements. Indeed, life can feel overwhelming, especially with all the horrible things happening lately. Sometimes we feel like crawling into a cave with a quart of chocolate double fudge ice cream while we pray for the Rapture. We get tired of trying to maintain godly attitudes when everything around us is falling apart. Believe me, ladies: I understand the desire to just give up!

As Christians, however, we know that the Lord calls us to persevere when life gets tough. Titus 2:2, as a matter of fact, instructs older men to set the example of being sound in doctrine, love and perseverance for the rest of the Church. As women, we have the responsibility to follow this example. We must keep most of that ice cream in the freezer and trust the Lord to take us through the difficulties and sufferings that surround us.

But what exactly is perseverance, and why should Christians persevere through trials? That cave with the ice cream seems a whole lot more comforting, and we really get sick of pushing through one trial after another. Why did the Holy Spirit inspire Paul to urge Christians to persevere?

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An Unexpected Perk Of Disability

When the phone rang before 6:30 a.m. Monday, I knew my PCA was calling out. She had a serious family emergency that required her presence. I’d been without a regular PCA all weekend, and spent Sunday in bed to accommodate my girlfriend’s Mother’s Day schedule (I deeply appreciate her for filling in on Mother’s Day to keep me clean), so I felt a little disappointed Monday. It took until 10:30 to locate a backup PCA.

Usually, situations like this make me grumble. Since I can’t use my hands, being in bed means I can’t type or read. John has to call around for backup help because I can’t operate a phone. I just lie in bed, aware that I’m physically as helpless as a newborn baby.

Times when PCAs call out or just plain don’t show up remind me of my total dependence on other women. Instead of congratulating myself on my writing and artistic abilities, my days stuck in bed confront me with the actual extent of my disability.

Those confrontations are an answer to prayer.

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God’s Word To Christians In 2021

Between Covid with all its accompanying ramifications and the effects of surrendering Afghanistan to the Taliban, things don’t look particularly rosy for Christians in 2021. Factor in the demands of the LBGTQ community and the Woke push toward Socialism, and it becomes obvious that Christians who stand on God’s Word must expect some level of persecution. As a result, many of us wonder how we’ll hold up under such intense affliction.

Maybe we should instead wonder what attitude the Lord wants us to take in the face of suffering for Him. Perhaps we should ask how He wants us to conduct ourselves in the midst of difficult circumstances. As we ask such questions, we need to go straight to Scripture. The epistle of 1 Peter, especially, offers tremendous insight into the stance God calls us to take when suffering — and specifically suffering for Christ — enters our lives.

Time doesn’t allow us to go through all five chapters of 1 Peter today, but we can observe a couple key points from Chapters 1 and 2. These points provide the framework for the rest of Peter’s instructions.

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Without The Holy Spirit, There’s No Rebirth

The conversation between Jesus and Nicodemus seems straightforward on the surface. Jesus said that, in order to see the kingdom of God, one must be born again. (John 3:3-7). At least, it did when I was a new Christian.

As a newly saved teenager, I latched on to that passage, zealously quoting it to family and friends in my attempts to strongarm them into salvation. At that time, I believed that I could claim credit for “accepting” Jesus, and I consequently thought I’d made the choice to be born again. I understood John 3:7 as an imperative command rather than as a cause and effect principle. In my mind, someone needed to make a decision to believe in Jesus so that he or she could experience the new birth. Much of the teaching I received back then only reinforced my misunderstanding of the passage.

During my college years, Jimmy Carter popularized the phrase “born-again Christian” as he campaigned for the presidency. One evening, as she got me ready to visit a neighbor’s church service, my mom asked me to explain what Jimmy Carter, my neighbor and I meant by this seemingly new terminology. I merely quoted John 3:3-7, secretly relieved that I didn’t have time to really explain it. Yes, relieved — because deep down I knew that, although I had been born again, I didn’t understand how it actually worked. The expanded passage frustrated me by failing to detail what a person needed to do to make the new birth happen.

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When Life Rages At Us, What Do We Tell Our Souls?

Teardrop RoseWriting about suffering takes me out of my comfort zone. To be blunt, I don’t really think I’ve actually suffered.

It may strike you as strange that I would make such a statement.  Ironically, as I’ve tried to type this paragraph, my body locked itself in a muscle spasm, preventing me from repositioning my wheelchair so that I could reach my keyboard’s space bar without straining my back. People who have watched me go through migraines, endure folks who assume I’m intellectually disabled or know how frustrated I am with my speech defect would probably insist that I suffer quite a bit.

They forget that I Read More »

They Taught Him To Love Jesus

In Paul’s second letter to Timothy, the apostle prepares his young disciple to assume the role of pastor to the church at Ephesus. In encouraging Timothy, he makes a tender appeal reminding the young man of his spiritual heritage handed down from his mother and grandmother.

I am reminded of your sincere faith, a faith that dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice and now, I am sure, dwells in you as well.~~2 Timothy 1:5 (ESV)

Further on in the letter, Paul specifies what Timothy learned from these women.

14 But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it 15 and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. 16 All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work. ~~2 Timothy 3:14-17 (ESV)

Lois and Eunice, I believe, taught young Timothy more than a mere academic knowledge of the Old Testament. Their faith in Yahweh prepared him to receive the Gospel and to love the Lord Jesus Christ.

Whether or not you were raised by a godly mother, knowing Scripture will reveal Christ to you. The more you see Him in His Word, the more you will never love Him as Timothy’s grandmother and mother did. Truly, they taught him to love Jesus.

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Flashback Friday: It’s Just A Small Little Sin

Originally published November 29, 2017:

Coffee Stained Wedding Gown

The Gospel teaches that men and women are sinners by nature and by choice, unable to stand in the presence of a holy God. But that same God, in the Person of Jesus Christ, came to earth and lived a sinless life before voluntarily suffering a painful crucifixion during which He accepted His Father’s wrath, thus atoning for the sins of all who would believe in Him. Three days later He rose from the dead, signifying that the Father accepted His sacrifice as well as assuring believers of eternal life in His presence.

The Holy Spirit regenerates Christians by enabling us to believe in Jesus Christ as the only Savior. This faith is immediately demonstrated by an attitude of repentance as an acknowledgment of Christ’s  authority over us.

16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.~~John 3:16-18 (ESV)

Believers know these things backwards and forwards…or at least they should. Sadly, most 21st Century evangelicals don’t readily articulate the Gospel when asked to do so. Even more tragic, many who claim to be Christians live as though Jesus exists to serve them when they ought to recognize themselves as His slaves.

As I see it, a major reason that evangelicals misunderstand and pervert the Gospel stems from difficulty accepting the fact that we actually need a Savior in the first place. Surely we aren’t that bad! And doesn’t  our good outweigh the mistakes we’ve made?

Think of it this way. It’s your wedding day, and you take your expensive white gown out of the closest. Laying it on your bed, you notice a few small spots. Coffee stains!  Your bridesmaids try to comfort you, pointing out that most of the  gown is still white. People probably won’t even notice those tiny brown stains,  they assure you with soothing voices.

But you know (and so do they) that the dress is ruined.

Even the smallest sin ruins us when we measure ourselves against God’s holy perfection. Everything else about us may be pristine, just like a wedding gown, but the yards of white linen and tulle can’t  atone for those tiny coffee spots.  And all our self-perceived goodness can’t make us acceptable to God.

That’s why Christ’s death on the cross is such good news. He paid the penalty for our sins, clothing is in His righteousness. He presents us to the Father in His purity, as though we’d never soiled ourselves.

If you haven’t yet placed your faith in Him,  I beg you to stop trusting the notion that your so-called good outweighs your sin. The stain may appear small to you, but it leaves you with damage that only Jesus can repair. Once you recognize your desperate need for the salvation that only He can accomplish, the rest of the Gospel falls easily into place.

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Secure — By His Grace

Isn’t it easy to make ourselves responsible for procuring and maintaining our salvation?  Something in us insists on taking at least a small portion of credit for our acceptance into heaven. Certainly, I spent years figuring out theological systems that allowed me to view myself as a contributor to my standing before God.

Thankfully, the Lord used His Word to convince me that He both initiated my salvation and will carry it to completion. He alone deserves all the glory.

This realization humbles us, which explains why so many of us fight against it. Surely, there must be some little way we cooperate with the Holy Spirit! Just a little? But no, Christ claims all the glory. His mercy takes us from start to finish.

Precisely because everything about our salvation emanates from His mercy and grace, we enjoy absolute security. Nothing can rob us of the security that He has bought us with His blood and therefore He will keep us for Himself. He will not permit anything — including ourselves — to interfere with His eternal purpose for us. We can rest secure in His grace.

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Where Is Your Mind?

To say that we live in difficult times would be stating the obvious. And even strong Christians battle with anxiety as supermarket shelves grow bare, jobs dwindle and infectious rise. Intellectually, we know God is sovereign, but we can’t seem to resist the temptation to worry.

I plead guilty. I suspect you do too, if you’re honest.

All of us need to shift our focus back to the Lord, especially in this time of uncertainty and fear. As dire as the situation is, He hasn’t lost control. In fact, He is accomplishing His purposes in this global trial. Therefore we must choose between dwelling on whatever effects COVID-19 has imposed on us and filling our minds with thoughts of Him. Will we cave in to anxiety, dear sisters, or will our minds stay on Him?

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My Obligatory Post Regarding Covid-19 And Reinventing Wheels

Experience BibleI have a couple reasons for not wanting to blog about Covid-19. Perhaps my most compelling reason is that I honestly don’t think I can bring anything new to the table. Pastors and bloggers have covered every angle that I can think of, including speculations about God’s judgment and the end times that probably shouldn’t be publicly entertained at this point in time.

Such is the nature of evangelical thinking, I suppose.

Yet, having a public blog almost necessitates saying something about the crisis. Why? Because silence would inevitably be misinterpreted as indifference in the demanding sphere of social media, thereby Read More »