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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Jesus Asks Us To Do It

I don’t claim to be gifted in evangelism. As a matter of fact, I’m pretty lousy at doing it face-to-face. I feel comfortable with just about every other command in Scripture, but I see my shortcomings whenever someone reminds me that God has me here for no other reason than to proclaim the Gospel.

And my pastor issues such reminders in almost every Sunday sermon.

But I praise God for these uncomfortable reminders because I live in a world of lost souls who desperately need to hear that Jesus died for those who would believe in Him. Whether hearing the Gospel leads them to saving faith or confirms their hardness against Him, the Lord asks His servants to declare the message. So as long as I live, I face an unfinished task.

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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!

 

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Praise God I Have A Place To Put My Hope

As John and I exited Boston’s Prudential Tower Wednesday, we started down Boylston Street toward the Public Garden. Just outside the door, I noticed a saxophone player.  Now, it’s not really unusual to find musicians scattered throughout the city, especially in areas that have a high amount of foot traffic. Most of the time, I pass by them enjoying the music momentarily. They’re part of Boston’s charm.

This particular saxophone player intrigued me because the first five notes he played sounded just like the first five notes of the hymn, My Hope Is In The Lord. I strained to hear whether or not he was actually playing the hymn, but I couldn’t quite tell. I rather doubt it.

Since then, I’ve been thinking about the hymn, and about where I place my hope. Certainly, this world offers little hope as it gleefully plummets toward its endorsement of sin at breakneck speeds. Christians who refuse to acquiesce to the demands of the liberal culture must expect increasing levels of pushback and eventual persecution. Even denominations that, a mere three years ago could be counted on to stand on the bedrock of Scripture have begun bowing to the world’s corrupt values.

We can’t hope in anything or anybody!

But we can hope in the Lord. And maybe our crumbling society reminds us to keep our hope fixed decidedly on Him. When we recall His sacrifice for us at Calvary, we can rest confident in His faithfulness toward us. Against the darkness, we can sing cheerfully that our hope is in the Lord.

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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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Let Every Kindred, Every Tribe

At the time, I chuckled when my Welsh friend pictured American clouds and United Kingdom clouds in heaven. “As much as I like you,” he informed me, “I don’t want to visit an American cloud.”

Not only did he have an unbiblical concept of heaven, he infiltrated it with a nationalist lens that now, 34 years later, saddens me. Does he still anticipate that sort of division in the New Jerusalem? If so, I don’t believe he properly understands the depiction of heaven that the apostle John presented in Revelation.

After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, 10 and crying out with a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!” 11 And all the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures, and they fell on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, 12 saying, “Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might be to our God forever and ever! Amen.” ~~Revelation 7:9-12 (ESV)

Heaven unites Christians from every tribe and nation so that we might all worship the Lord together. Rather than allowing our differences to separate us, we will celebrate our unity  as we worship Him along with the angels and the elders. Our individual distinctions won’t be erased,  but neither will they separate us from one another.

The glorious harmony between people groups will happen as we concentrate our attention on the King of kings and Lord of lords. My dear Welsh friend will be so enamored with Christ that he simply won’t care about keeping his distance from Americans! All of us will joyously join the everlasting song as we crown Jesus Lord of all.

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How Much More Do I Need?

Contentment doesn’t come easily for me. Ironically, the Lord has blessed me with more temporal things than most people ever enjoy. Sometimes I think that the more stuff one has, the more she feels that she deserves.

The Lord has convicted me over the  last few weeks concerning my covetous attitudes. At my church’s Women’s Conference in May, I received a booklet on contentment, which He used to show me some idols that I’d been cherishing lately. Seeing the truth about my covetousness hasn’t been fun by any means, but it has helped me retrain my focus on Christ and His eternal blessings a bit better. Really, I’m complete in Him!

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