What Do You Sing About?

One Personal Care Attendant of mine, upon hearing my attempt to sing, sweetly suggested that I stick to my writing and digital art. I had to agree.

But I do sing in my heart, as well as out loud in church, without reservation. The Lord has given me cause to sing His praises, not to fancy myself a gifted singer, but to express the joy of His love for me. Who cares that I can’t carry a tune or properly enunciate the words? The focus belongs on my Savior.

My song shall ever be about Jesus. He alone deserves the attention and glory because He is marvelous and wonderful!

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

Flashback Friday: Full Bellies — Starving For Truth

Originally published February 23, 2016:

At The Cross“No one wants to hear about God’s wrath,” the young pastor explained to my friend. Then he added, “We help the poor in our community as a demonstration of His love.”

Look, I have nothing against helping the poor. In fact, if more  churches provided such services, less of us would be forced to rely on government programs. So as you read this essay, please don’t misunderstand me as saying that Christians shouldn’t care for the needs of those less fortunate than themselves. Yet I believe we must keep practical ministry secondary to our primary commission to declare the Gospel.

And whether we like it or not, declaring the Gospel first necessitates telling people that they’re sinners who deserve God’s wrath. I agree with the young pastor that no one enjoys hearing about their sin, nor do they like being confronted with the fact that their sin consigns them to an eternity in hell. And Christians don’t relish the duty of proclaiming that part of the Gospel message, if you want to know the truth.

But, dear sisters in the Lord, we don’t get to pick and choose what aspects of the Gospel we present in our evangelism. As ambassadors of Christ, we bear the responsibility to tell people the Gospel in its entirety, aware that we represent Him rather than ourselves.

18 All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; 19 that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. 20 Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. 21 For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. ~~2 Corinthians 5:18-21 (ESV)

If we offer a message of reconciliation to God, we must begin by helping people understand that such a reconciliation indeed needs to take place. Most non-Christians and Christians-in-name-only simply don’t believe that God takes their sin seriously enough to send them to hell. They may admit that they’ve done some bad things here and there, but they reassure themselves that the good they’ve done outweighs the bad. Consequently, all our talk about Jesus showing His love by dying in their place strikes them as absurd until we show them that they’ve offended a holy God.

The beauty of God’s love shines through the fact that Jesus willingly shed His blood on the cross, bearing His Father’s fury over the sin that you and I committed. That act, more than anything else, epitomizes His love.

It’s wonderful when churches run soup kitchens and pregnancy resource centers. And praise God for missionaries who dig wells and build orphanages. But when people deliberately repress part of the Gospel in order to attract people to their services, they no longer represent the Lord. Leave humanitarian work to secular agencies unless you do it in a way that offers people the eternal hope of Jesus Christ.

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

Have You Ever Been Angry At God?

Experience Bible“God has big shoulders. He can handle your anger.”

Several times, people have used that rationale to encourage my feelings of anger towards the Lord. I don’t know if this concept comes from so-called Christian psychology (it seems altogether likely), but I  absolutely believe we must reject it.

Of course I empathize when people experience such anger. During John’s cancer, I even confessed to friends that I had feelings of hatred towards the Lord. As I think back on the time that I lacerated my throat by yelling at Him, I have compassion for others who go through similar outrage. I know the pain of hearing about His sovereignty and therefore feeling helpless to influence His will. So as you read this article, please don’t mistake me as being callous to your frustrations.

Having said that I empathize with anger towards God, I must say as gently as I Continue reading

That’s Gratitude For You!

Many professing Christians acknowledge that Jesus died on the cross to forgive their sins.  Okay, that’s a start. But sometimes it seems as if they don’t understand the full implications of His death.

To put it bluntly, few of them really believe that, had they not been brought to faith in Christ, they would deserve eternity in hell. Indeed, few genuinely believe hell even exists. Nor do they honestly believe that their sins are serious enough to warrant eternal punishment.

Such a dismissal of a literal hell creates a casual attitude toward salvation, it seems to me. Consequently, the Lord’s sacrificial death doesn’t compel them to respond in adoring devotion.

But the redeemed sinner who grasps the truth that Christ snatched her from the jaws of hell responds much differently. Precisely because she knows the condemnation she deserves, she freely abandons her life to Him. She  knows she’ll never be worthy of what He’s done on her behalf. She simply wants to show her gratitude by living for Him.

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

Trusting In The Right Thing

What makes someone a genuine Christian? Good works? Obedience to Scripture’s precepts? Praying “the sinner’s prayer” or making a “decision” to follow Jesus?

When people ask for evidence of our salvation, do we point to how much we pray and study the Bible? Do we tell them about our various ministries within our local churches or our involvement with parachurch organizations? Maybe we mention how we homeschool our children, or how we’ve forsaken sexual sin? Surely each of these things demonstrate our love for the Lord! Right?

Um, not really.

A lot of those behaviors are good, but only as responses to the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ. We aren’t Christians because of anything we do. We’re Christians because He shed His blood to satisfy the wrath of God that actually belongs to us. He redeemed those who trust in His finished work on the cross. His grace, and only His grace, makes us His   children.

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

Throwback Thursday: A Question’s Phrasing

Originally published January 20, 2016:

Faint CrossHow can I glorify the Lord Jesus Christ today? Such a question sounds very pious. But the degree of piety actually depends on the attitude, motivation and emphasis of the  person asking the question.

All too frequently, I find myself asking it this way: “How can  I glorify the Lord?” Underneath that slightly more honest question lurks an even more insidious question. I want to know how I can show off my spirituality by doing something that appears to glorify Him (but actually draws attention to me). Sadly, I know how to frame words so that people can’t see that I use Christ’s glory as a platform to promote myself.

I could, with all truthfulness, say that everybody falls into this same trap. And nobody could argue that point…not if they looked at themselves honestly. All of us suffer with tainted motives steeped in self-centeredness, and it simply does no good to deny that we love to feed our egos. But my mother always said, “The fact that everyone else does it doesn’t make it right.”

Thankfully, Jesus Himself frees me from my sin of hypocrisy. I can’t glorify Him from a pure heart, but He glorifies Himself by forgiving my sin and purifying my heart.

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. ~~1 John 1:9 (ESV)

He then shifts the emphasis back to Himself, where it rightfully belongs. He helps me  rephrase my question, so that I ask, “How can the Lord Jesus Christ glorify Himself though me?”

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

Many Loves, But Only One Excels

Mom once told me that I was the apple of Daddy’s eye. Because he died as I was turning ten, I have very few memories of him. But most of those memories showcase his love for me. After he died, I always had the security of knowing that he didn’t leave me willingly.

My mother loved me passionately, even during times when I rebelled against her and/or doubted her love. (I wasn’t the most lovable daughter to ever live.) A thousand blog posts could never enumerate all the ways she expressed her love for me. What a powerful example of selflessness and dedication!

Throughout my life I’ve had a variety of friends who loved me deeply. How often they gave me rides, fed me meals and/or filled in when my Personal Care Attendants couldn’t come. And how they encouraged my spiritual growth through long conversations and times of prayer together.

Of course, marriage to John has blessed me with a love that has satisfied a deep longing in me. He fills my hunger for romance, but his love doesn’t limit itself to just that. I don’t believe I could possibly find the words to describe either his inexplicable love for me or my joy in having such a godly husband!

I treasure all these earthly loves, knowing that each one reflects the Lord’s infinite love. Yet these reflections look dim in comparison to the love that sent Him to the cross as my Savior. For all eternity, He will envelope me in a love that I will never understand and will never exhaust. But what a joy to spend that eternity worshiping Him for His love!

 

Follow my blog with Bloglovin