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.

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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?”

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We’re Only Channels, Not The Flow Of Water Itself

As a young Christian, I’d daily arm myself with Christian tracts and charge out to evangelize the toughest kids on the high school campus.You know, the kids that scared my Christian friends half to death. Looking back, I realize how vulnerable I was in my little wheelchair, but at the time I knew no fear!

One day my less courageous (read: more sensible) friend asked me why I went out to those particular kids. Borrowing a popular motto from that era, I self-righteously replied, “If I don’t do it, it won’t get done!”

The salvation of Terra Linda High students depended on me.

Since then, I’ve repented of my pride. Yes, the Lord calls me to declare His Gospel as faithfully as I can. Just as surely as He ordains the elect to be saved, He ordains evangelism as the means of saving the elect. We are the channels through which the living waters of the Holy Spirit flow.

Sometimes it’s hard to remember that we are channels only. We want to do great things for the Lord and to enjoy recognition for our fearless ministry. But the Lord wants us to serve Him in humility, praising Him for the privilege of having His Holy Spirit work through empty channels like us!

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Your Attempts To Love Examined Through Scripture ~~ Part 2

1 Co 13Postmodern culture equates love with unquestioning approval — as long as we unquestionably approve of politically correct people, behaviors or causes. When we question people or views that the majority of people enthusiastically support, we usually receive harsh tongue lashings condemning our unloving positions.

Oh, the irony!

Yesterday we started looking at questions people on opposite sides of a given issue can should ask themselves in the midst of disagreements. Since I’m currently embroiled in heated debates as a discernment blogger, I’ve chosen to illustrate my thoughts by challenging discernment bloggers and our critics to examine how lovingly we deal with conflict. But please don’t imagine that Continue reading

Your Attempts To Love Examined Through Scripture ~~ Part 1

1 Co 13In the movie Forest Gump, Forest makes only a couple references to his intellectual disability. When Jenny questions his ability to have a serious relationship with her, he angrily retorts, “I may be a stupid man, Jenny,  but I know what love is!”

Critics of discernment ministry often accuse discernment bloggers of being unloving. Sometimes, sadly, they correctly call us out. And when we fail to operate out of genuine love, we definitely need our brothers and sisters to correct us. In fact, if they really love us, they certainly will be faithful to show us our sin and to call us to repentance. Christian love never allows someone to remain in sin and/or doctrinal error.

To demonstrate my point, let’s walk through the Bible’s most celebrated passage on love, and compare the attributes it lists against Continue reading

An Invitation To Sinners Only

As you read through the four gospels,  you can’t help but notice the spiritual pride of the Pharisees. They found Jesus offensive because He threatened their political power, certainly, but also because He confronted them with their inherent sin. They believed that their acts of righteousness (a righteousness, by the way, devised from their own rules rather than God’s Word)  pleased the Lord. They couldn’t come to Jesus because they simply didn’t believe they needed a Savior.

In contrast, I see my sin all too clearly! I’ll be the first to tell you exactly how wretched and disgusting I really am! And if you doubt me, my husband and my sister could easily testify to my corrupt nature. I know how poor and needy I am with respect to a righteousness of my own.

I also know that Jesus took my sin upon Himself on the cross. As a result, I can go to Him, trusting Him to give me His righteousness. My need for Him opens me to receive His mercy, causing me to glorify Him instead myself.

Are you poor and needy enough to arise and go to Jesus?

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The Greed Of (Even Christian) Bloggers

Blog Stats

Screen Capture of today’s blog stats

Wow, I had a lot of visits and views on yesterday’s post! Looking at the numbers today was quite a heady experience.

Until I remembered that I wrote only the introductory paragraph.

My proverbial 15 minutes of fame didn’t even belong to me. As of this post, I’ll return to my obscure little corner of the web, where a certain blogging expert will declare that I repel readers by using complex sentences in lengthy paragraphs. Ironically, the sentences in yesterday’s post were even more complex than mine. And the paragraphs were often much longer.

Anyway, I found myself sulking a bit because a guest post on my blog attracted far more attention than posts I labor over. And the very sin of sulking Continue reading