A Simple Narration Of A Profound Story

Luke’s account of Christ’s birth is cherished, familiar even to small children. Yet nothing could be more awe inspiring than angels appearing to outcast shepherds, inviting them to be the first witnesses of Israel’s long awaited Messiah. What comfort and joy they must have experienced to know that the Savior came for His stray sheep — for despised shepherds considered too filthy to enter the Temple and offer their own lambs!

There’s an added sweetness to the story when you hear the innocent voices of children recount it in song. They don’t understand all the ramifications of it, but they know that angels don’t appear to shepherds on a regular basis. And they know that Jesus brings comfort and joy.

As you listen to children sing this Christmas carol based on Luke’s beloved account of Christ’s birth, remember that underneath the straightforward narration lies the profound truth that Christ our Savior came to save His stray sheep from Satan’s power, even when society told us we are worthless outcasts. There simple tidings of comfort and joy couldn’t be more profound!

 

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I’d Rather See Myself As DebbieLynne Than As Debbie

DebbieLynne As Queen

How I see myself

Forgetting the previous year’s experience, I’d enter the Physical Therapy room at Marindale School for the Orthopedically Handicapped looking forward to watching a movie all about me.* But the black and white child projected on the screen was a monster who exhibited jerky, uncontrolled movements and a grotesque spinal curvature. My therapist pointed to the screen cheerily announcing, “There’s Debbie!”

I wanted to say, “No! That’s not me at all!” Oh, I understood that I’d been born with Cerebral Palsy, and by age 8 I could rattle off my various symptoms. I knew about tonic neck reflex, involuntary movement and athetosis  better than most adults, and I knew my physical limitations quite well. But I’m sorry: That horrible creature galloping sloppily across that home movie screen simply wasn’t me!

I learned to Continue reading

If I Must Be Born Again, How Do I Manage It?

IMG_0356As a young Christian,  I had a zeal for evangelism. Not a talent for it, mind you, and not the best motives, but certainly the burning conviction that everybody needed to be born again. So I’d drive my motorized wheelchair all over my high school campus, passing out tracts and telling people they must be born again.

I frequently referred to John 3:1-8 as substantiation for my message. That indeed is the appropriate passage.

Now there was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews. This man came to Jesus by night and said to him, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher come from God, for no one can do these signs that you do unless God is with him.” Jesus answered him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” Nicodemus said to him, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?” Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.” ~~John 3:1-8 (ESV)

Actually, I ignored verses 5, 6 and 8 because I just plain didn’t understand them! Anyway, I wanted to emphasize the apparent command to be born again. I demanded that people repent of sin and believe in the Lord Jesus Christ to escape eternal hell. In my overly simplistic mind, accepting Jesus and living for Him caused someone to be born again.

My misinterpretation of the words “must be” created the problem, both in understanding the concept for myself and in presenting the Gospel to others. By separating those two words from their context, I emphasized human responsibility over the prerogative of the Holy Spirit.

Being born again isn’t a human accomplishment; it’s the regenerating work of the Holy Spirit. on those He wills to save. In fact, the words of the apostle John two chapters earlier help clarify that very point.

12 But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, 13 who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God. ~~John 1:12-13 (ESV)

Notice verse 13, please.  Although the acts of receiving Him and believing in His name are involved in becoming children of God (verse 12), the spiritual birth results from God’s will, not human will or effort.

Jesus taught Nicodemus that, though being born again is an essential requisite to  entering the kingdom of God, it isn’t something we do ourselves. As John MacArthur has explained numerous times, we played no part in our physical births, so what makes us think that we could possibly have anything to do with our spiritual ones?

Yes, Jesus said we must be born again. Like a child must be a certain height and weight to ride in a car without a booster seat. Like you have to be 18 to register as a voter. You can’t reach those conditions through your own efforts, but those conditions must be met. Although we must be born again, that rebirth happens through the work of the Holy Spirit.

I still have evangelism as a high priority, even if I do it better online than in person. I also still want people to know that they must be born again. Now, however, I understand what it means and how it happens. That understanding makes a huge difference!

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The Joy Of A Redeemed Sinner

Understanding the depths of our personal sins can fill us with despair.

On the other hand, understanding the depths of our personal sins can lead us to a Savior Who willingly and lovingly shed His blood to pay for those very sins. Once we receive His cleansing, we can’t help but love Him. Neither can we help joyfully singing of His redeeming love. There’s nothing as irrepressible, you see, as the joy of a redeemed sinner!

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Who Made An End To All My Sin

When I sin, I typically question whether or not I’m truly saved. I reason that a saved person, while not perfect, really ought to exhibit some evidence that the Holy Spirit has transformed her. Usually, I momentarily conclude that I must be a false convert.

(Those episodes must drive my husband crazy.)

But eventually I come to my senses and remember that Jesus took care of my sin by His death on the cross. Yes, I should walk by the Spirit more than I do. Yes, my sin dishonors Him. And yes, in those moments I’m failing to reflect His holy nature. But even so, I need to focus on Him rather than on myself.

Last Sunday the Lord encouraged me through the second verse of “Before The Throne Of God Above” by shifting my gaze from the despair of having sinned yet again to the joy that Jesus paid the final cost for my sin! He made an end to it! Although He still calls me to repentance, He has freed me from the death sentence that sin requires.

Join me in looking upward to Christ. If you belong to Him, He’s made an end to all your sin, too!

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Enough To Make Me Tremble

A few evenings ago, I resumed reading Biblical Doctrine by John MacArthur and Richard Mayhue after taking a summer break from it. I read the section on Christ’s trial,  suffering and crucifixion.  As I neared the end of the section, the emphasis on Christ’s willingness to endure all that physical, emotional and spiritual pain to redeem worthless sinners — even a worthless sinner named DebbieLynne — shook me to the core!

I trembled at the seriousness of my sin, because it required the Creator of heaven and earth to go through such undeserved torment. I trembled at the knowledge that I deserve the brutal treatment that He received.

But I also trembled with joy and gratitude. What tremendous love the Lord has for His people! For me! Often, I become so accustomed to the Gospel that I numb myself to the realities of everything Jesus suffered in order to accomplish my salvation. Reading that book reminded me of how deeply and sacrificially He loves me.

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Throwback Thursday: The Gospel, Pure And Simple

In light of current events within evangelicalism, I believe this article from March 17, 2017 is an important reminder of the Gospel message. Let’s not obscure it.
3D Cross Mother of PearlProfessing Christians use the word “gospel” all the time, but sometimes we get so caught up in tangential matters that we forget the Gospel itself. I’ve been guilty of this type of spiritual amnesia many times. As I’ve confessed before, for example, my involvement in so-called Christian psychology led me to consider the possibility that anyone who espoused the principles of pop-psychology (whether they confessed Jesus Christ openly or not) might be saved. Obviously, at that point in time, I’d forgotten the Gospel.

In recent years, the Lord has graciously used a variety of Christian preachers, teachers and bloggers to help me appreciate the importance of preaching the Gospel to myself. Doing so reminds me that, apart from the shed blood of Jesus Christ, I’m a vile sinner deserving of nothing but eternity in hell.

Simply put, the Gospel proclaims that Jesus Christ died as the substitute for all who believe in Him, bearing the wrath of God that our sins incur. He was buried, and three days later God raised Him from the dead as evidence that He accepted His sacrifice. By the power of the Holy Spirit, we respond to this grace by repenting of sin and believing in Him.

Now, the Gospel definitely has ramifications. True believers can’t remain in sinful lifestyles, for instance, because we understand what our sin cost the Lord. Titus 2:11-14 makes it clear that the Lord saved us with the purpose of making us holy.

11 For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, 12 training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, 13 waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, 14 who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works. (ESV)

Throughout this blog, I write about various aspects of walking in holiness as redeemed women. And that’s definitely fitting. But all week, I’ve felt convicted that I needed to remind my readers (and myself) of the basic Gospel. If we allow anything to obscure the fundamental truth that Jesus Christ died and rose again on our behalf and for His glory, we risk embracing a false gospel that, left unchecked will inevitability bring us to damnation.

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