I Thought I Knew, But I Still Have No Idea

When Christ convicted my 17-year-old heart of sin and then sent somebody to tell me that He paid for my sin, I knew that I owed him my very life. Like most teenagers, I was absolutely convinced that I understood both the magnitude of His atoning work on the cross and the depths of my sin.

I knew neither.

In my prayer time lately I’ve been pondering the fact that I really don’t understand how truly wretched I am. The Lord occasionally gives me glimpses of how horrendous my sin actually is, but much of a time I struggle to see how profoundly sinful I am. I know it intellectually, but my emotions resist that knowledge. And thus I confess that I have no idea how great a debt I owe the Lord.

Praise the Lord for erasing that debt, even as He shields me from the devastating realization of it. In heaven, once He frees me from the effects of sin that continue to cling to me, He will show me the extent of His mercy. Then I’ll understand how much I owe.

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Flashback Friday: Displaying The Pearl

Originally posted November 24, 2015:

All humans love the idea that we have something inherent in ourselves that pleases God. We firmly believe we bring something to the salvation table. In dealing with the presumption that we can contribute to our salvation, I’d like you to think of Jesus as a perfect Pearl. (I love pearls.) That image, of course, should remain limited to the analogy I present here–I don’t mean to start a new teaching about Jesus being a Pearl! But consider, for this moment, how your life would best show off His beauty. What about you best displays Him?

Perhaps you might immediately think of your good deeds. You’ve given to charitable causes, worked in Christian ministry, raised relatively well-behaved kids, driven elderly neighbors to doctor appointments, sent Christmas cards every year, all while maintaining good health habits to show everyone that you know your body is the temple of the Lord. Your organization and efficiency dazzles everybody. How much you do for Him.

Against such a backdrop, the Pearl can be seen, but you compete with Him for attention.

Or maybe He’s given you talents, such as a good singing voice or the ability to paint beautiful landscapes. Your blog has over 500 followers, most of whom gush endlessly over your knack for “turning a phrase.” Your signature cherry pie is always requested at church potlucks, or people flock to the women’s Bible Study you lead because your sense of humor is legendary. How creative you are for Him!

Against such a backdrop, the Pearl can be seen, but you compete with Him for attention.

Ah, but it’s possible that your piety impresses Him. You were a virgin until your wedding night, and would never flirt with anyone but your husband. You have filters on your computer, you refuse to be alone (even in an elevator) with a member of the opposite sex, and you don’t buy underwear at Victoria’s Secret. Furthermore, you avoid products that exploit workers in Third World sweat-shops, you never drink so much as a glass of wine, and you would  never dream of jay-walking…even in downtown Boston. How moral you are for Him!

Against such a backdrop, the Pearl can be seen, but He barely shows up against your image of purity. Consequently, His glory becomes almost indistinguishable from your own. Once again, you compete with Him for attention.

Actually, I see my own attention-grabbing attitudes in all three of these pictures. Hopefully, you see yourself as well. If we choose these backdrops of self-righteousness, we may convince ourselves that we best display the Pearl, but the reality demonstrates otherwise. As long as we claim anything good about ourselves, we minimize the Lord’s role as Savior.

Jesus is a Pearl, not because our “goodness” displays Him, but because He turns our wickedness into a backdrop for His mercy, grace and love.

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Drinking From A Fire Hydrant Is Difficult, And It Could Drown People

Fire HydrantPopular false teachers give bloggers plenty of material to keep us busy. And when a false teacher has a Twitter account, he or she becomes the gift that keeps on giving.

I do understand the sense of urgency that compels people to call out these false teachers. Over the years, I’ve used this very blog for that purpose, and I certainly don’t rule out doing so again. As evangelicals grow more and more Biblically illiterate, false teachers gain greater power to spread their deception.

But in our urgency to warn our brothers and sisters against false teachers, we can stumble into a variety of pitfalls that could potentially undermine our message. For example, we could overload Read More »

Remember Who The Victims Are

Inexhaustible Bible

False teachers and false teaching should, by all the means, make Christians angry! If we love the Word of God, we will naturally hate anything that comes against it. And such animosity comes out of a pure love for Christ and His people.

Did you notice the clause, “and His people”? I didn’t put that there simply for rhetorical value. Loving the people of Christ encompasses many things, one of which is wanting them to reject false teaching in favor of doctrinal purity. It follows that we should approach victims of false teaching just that — victims.

Sometimes we forget that most of the people who fall victim to these theological aberrations honestly believe they follow the Lord. Some are even Read More »

Throwback Thursday: The Negation Of Reason By Sensuous Minds

Originally published September 29, 2017

49575-before2bthe2bcrossThrough a variety of circumstances, I’ve recently been exposed to young women in the Millennial generation. With one notable exception, I don’t really like what I see. The irresponsibility and self-centeredness appalls and saddens me. This generation, from what I see, exchanges reason for experience and pragmatism, paying little attention to long-term ramifications of their decisions. They pay even less attention to how their behaviors affect others.

In short, they possess poor reasoning skills. As a result, they exercise poor judgment, and then cast themselves as innocent victims when they face the consequences of that poor judgment. Between the immediacy of social media and the indoctrination of liberal colleges and Hollywood, Millennials have never learned to think for themselves.

To be fair, those attitudes have definite roots in Read More »

He Had Me Before Birth

This article was originally published in November of 2015 as part of my Autobiography With Purpose series. I wanted to reprise it today in celebration of my birthday. May it cause you to praise God for His grace and sovereignty.

NewbornShe suffered two miscarriages, and then her son was stillborn. As soon as she knew she was pregnant with me, Mom obeyed the doctor’s orders by staying in bed–flat on her back–during the entire pregnancy.

When I still hadn’t arrived by the tenth month, Mom found little humor in a friend’s comment: “I thought only elephants gestated this long!” My mother, usually a  stickler for proper etiquette, retorted, “Oh shut up!” as she slammed down the phone. She felt frustrated and undoubtedly fearful. At age 37, she had little time left for her dream of being a mother to come true.

But my September 30, 1953 arrival, a full month after the due-date, failed to be the joyous occasion my parents had expected. Because I weighed only five pounds and Read More »

A Lesson In Using Scripture To Practice Discernment

Beth Moore knows how to use Twitter to keep herself in the limelight, evidently. On Tuesday September 24, she came out with an interesting Twitter thread:

Beth Moore deification of Paul Tweet

If she hadn’t written that third tweet, she would have been pretty much fine.  Her last sentence in the second tweet was perhaps a little snide, but most people probably would have let it slide. To her detriment, however, Read More »

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 Read More »

The Essence Of Spiritual Warfare

Sword

Standing for truth, in an increasing number of evangelical churches, means that we cause division.

Yet Paul, who wrote most of the New Testament epistles, saw division very differently than 21st Century evangelicals see it. Consider this quote:

Paul regards divisiveness as those who depart from sound doctrine. Doctrine is not the cause of disunity, departure is. ~Carl Trueman

Responsible reading (not to mention study) of Paul’s epistles bear out Trueman’s point. The apostle wrote several of his epistles (most of them, actually) with the purpose of clearing up doctrinal error and preserving correct teaching. As a matter of fact, he drew an interesting correlation between refuting false teaching and Read More »

Of Course God Speaks To Christians Today — But He Chooses The Bible As His Medium

Bible Speaking

More and more evangelicals have come to expect personal words from God. Even thirty years ago, such expectations were limited to Charismatic circles, but Baptist teachers like Henry Blackaby, Rick Warren and (yes)  Beth Moore have convinced more conservative Christians that all believers ought to experience God to speak to them apart from the Bible.

Thirty years ago people who  claimed that God spoke to them were considered mentally ill. Now, however, those of us who deny extra-biblical revelations receive sideways glances.  Most believers see us as abnormal and spiritually Read More »