Can we lose our salvation?

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2 Cor 4:7

But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.

Many Christians (regarding whom, I have NO doubt that they are authentic believers) fight the fear that they are just fooling themselves when it comes to the status of their eternal salvation.

Like a radio with antennae continually seeking strong signals, so too do I search out scriptural truth to bolster the hope and assurance of struggling brothers and sisters I love.

So when I heard John Piper talk about desire being the key to authentic Christianity, I saw something true and comforting that I might be able to pass on.

When we are born again through the Spirit of God it’s like we are given a new set of eyes. We begin to see clearly just what IS treasure and what is trash.  New desires germinate and start to flourish.  Yes, growth can be slow and seem irregular in direction and pace.  But the overall trajectory has been changed.

But what do we do when doubts like these below plague us?  (who do you think ‘might’ be behind these doubts? – not God!)

  • What if the Bible and how one is saved isn’t true?
  • What if I really haven’t believed?
  • What if I’m not a TRUE believer?
  • What does it mean that I don’t seem to feel as enthusiastic or sure as other Christians?

What do we do?  We look at the treasure!

Think about the man who stumbled upon buried gold or silver in that field (Matthew 13:44). Quickly reburying it, he sold everything he had (fields, house, furnishings, livestock) to put together enough money to buy the entire pasture.  Once he possessed the plot of land, do you think he moved on to other pursuits, ignoring the treasure?  No!  I can picture him digging it up and handling it, savoring it, thinking about what it meant to his future.  His imagination easily filled in the blanks.  He might have used some of it for the present, but the rest he protected as his inheritance or retirement fund.

His joy would have remained and been stoked and even grown with every re-imagining and glorying in this treasure.  Had he started to doubt whether he actually possessed this wealth, he would have wasted no time pulling it out and savoring all that it represented.

That’s what we have to do with OUR most precious possession. As believers in Christ, we have:

  • forgiveness and peace with God
  • a new Spirit in us – no longer of fear, but of power, love and a sound mind
  • Christ’s continual presence THROUGH this indwelling holy Spirit
  • and a bright future to be lived in His presence where ‘fullness of joy’ is promised.

So what do we do either to ward off the doubts or deal with them?

We just need to ‘visit’ and ‘revisit’ our treasure every day, holding fast to it.

Whatever it takes to hold on to our faith, we must do.  Faith is our most valuable possession.  John Piper exhorts fellow believers to STRENGTHEN the gift by realizing that:

Little faith = Little joy

Stoked faith = MORE joy!

How do we fan the fires that heat up our faith?  By reading about this great gift in God’s Word and learning what it means for us to be partakers and heirs of God’s kingdom. Remember that faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God (Rom 10:17).  I need to hear God’s truth every day, throughout the day.  And it’s MY voice rehearsing God’s promises out loud that help me most to HEAR.

LOVE the Treasure!

PONDER the Treasure!

PRAISE the Giver or the Treasure!

GET TO KNOW the Giver!

Look at this concrete advice to early Christians battling unbelief:

Hebrews 3:14

We have come to share in Christ if we hold firmly to the end the assurance we had at first.

Longings and Disappointments


Are you disappointed in how life has turned out so far?  If you are honest with yourself and are over 40, have you flirted with the scary thought that maybe your most intense dreams/desires just won’t be fulfilled?

Dreams - unfulfilled





I’m thinking of friends who:

  • have yet to find a spouse, but desire to be married
  • are not able get pregnant
  • long for a family member to come to Christ
  • struggle with chronic overweight, out-of-control spending or other addictions and feel locked into unhealthy patterns
  • can’t seem to find their vocational calling and have it line up with paying work

I have such a dream. When I was a teenager living in Europe thanks to a military dad, I discovered what a rush it was to speak another language and live immersed in a different culture. I reveled in speaking French and German. I often thought that my ideal job would be to work as a clerk in a shop, never mind what it sold, and have that daily interaction with the public be IN another language.

Vendeuse dans une boulangerie

My fantasy, then,  as a young girl was to marry a Swiss and raise our children to be at  least trilingual. This was before I was a Christian and knew about the blessing of being wed to another believer. Thanks be to our God who sovereignly guides our lives. He overrode my young girl’s top 5 qualities in a future husband and brought Michael into my life at the age of 22.

And He gave me a few bites of my dream during the first 10 years of our marriage.

But it’s been years now and that dream of living in Europe and conducting our daily lives via another language has yet to be fulfilled. I often wonder if it will.

Yet, I am beginning to grasp a longer view of life. CS Lewis argues that longings are not in vain.  Given how our normal every-day desires like hunger, fatigue or the need for sexual and social fulfillment can be met in healthy ways, one can argue that there is no such thing as a true unfulfilled desire.  If God planted a desire in us, it is because He intends to fulfill it.  A thorough essay exploring this argument can be found here: Argument from Desire

I’ve begun, now, to quiet myself and let go of potential disappointment.  God is not One to waste anything. It’s been argued that He uses even our suffering.  Why should He then NOT use our longings?  In fact, my theory is that He plants those desires, gives us talents and experiences/practice to hone the skills with the plan to make use of EVERY ONE OF THEM! God has the long view and is not impatient.

And it could just be that those plans are not meant for THIS phase of life, our 80-90 years in a fallen world.  But they are intended for the life to come – the one that is more permanent.

  • So to my friend who has two nieces who long both for a godly Christian husband AND children – maybe those gifts for homemaking and interaction with children are going to be used LATER!
  • And to my dear husband, who would love to sing again from that Anglican repertoire with a group of professional musicians, keep looking forward to that day!
  • And to my departed dad who dreamed of running again with the full energy of youth, I pray to see you doing just that one of these days.

As for me? With my love for languages and learning, I think God has given me THOSE gifts for joy-filled purposes that I can only glimpse.

Best is yet to come - CS Lewis

Freedom that comes with honest self-appraisal

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I heard the concept of hope described as the golden feeling

of having something to look forward to.

If you’re like me, you enjoy having something new in which to hope, to anticipate, to savor, or to find relief from pain or the mundane.  Something like an event, a trip, stuff or a transition.

We can also place our hope in people – – to meet our needs.  The kicker is when they don’t live up to our expectations, when they disappoint.

Among many intermittent friendships with other Christian women, I’ve enjoyed one long and sustained relationship. For over ten years, this gal and I met weekly for coffee and fellowship at Starbucks, until I moved away this past June.

Our weekly hour of spiritual and life catch-up covered both years when we read & discussed books together, to seasons of just plain keeping up with each other’s interests and needs.  Twice I betrayed her trust by divulging a confidence.  And our friendship endured and strengthened.

This was a new experience for me, to have a strong but elastic friendship that neither of us dismissed or dropped at the first encounter with unmet expectations.  It would have been easier to drift, to claim a season of ‘busyness’.  But we would have missed the blessings.

I am, by my fallen genetic make-up a prideful person.  I tend to think I’m pretty good.  Of course, once I became a Christian at age 23, God slowly but steadily took my blinders off so I could see more and more of the sin that had been there all along.

By the time I sinned against my friend the second time, I was ‘mature’ enough to confess to her something that went like this:

  • I could promise that I will never again break a confidence, but I know me.
  • And I don’t trust myself.  
  • I will probably, no..not probably, I will MOST assuredly sin against you again.
  • I don’t want to, but I also don’t want to delude either you or me. 

I hadn’t planned on announcing that fact; I think the Holy Spirit just opened my eyes to that truth at the moment.

You know, it is FREEING to acknowledge that my bent is STILL to sin.  What makes me different from the non-Christian, is that Jesus already paid for all my future sins.  And I am well loved by God.  His grace doesn’t give me license to sin, but it does remove my need to cover up my sins.

I revisited this lesson yesterday on the Appalachian Trail.  Mike and I had planned another Saturday hike. Normally these are physically and emotionally restorative.  This one turned out to be painfully and spiritually revelatory.

Three times over the course of the 5 hours (should have been only 4 – our normal limit at our age 56), we got side-tracked (aka – lost). Twice it was my fault –  due to my strong will, selfish desire to reach a spot on  the trail and my distrust of Mike’s Ranger training.

He sinned too and during the drive home, we processed.  After reconciling, I remarked:

Mike, as much as I am truly sorry for hurting you today by not trusting you and not thinking about how your ankle must have been hurting, I want you to know how thankful I am that we have a covenant marriage that is both strong and elastic enough to survive our deliberate sins against each other.  Most assuredly I will hurt you again and you will wound me.  We’re sinners. May we continue to offer one another grace and ready forgiveness.

Now that is liberating. Mike’s hope is NOT in a perfect partner and neither is mine.  That releases us  to overlook much and chalk it up to God’s sanctification process.

Mike’s face clearly illustrates God’s gritty, sandpapery sanctification process in the midst of our hike yesterday.

But what I see in it … the face of my beloved husband, a fellow sinner, committed to me and to God.  May God give us BOTH the strength and the desire to love well with plenty of grace when we don’t feel like it.

Pers - Mike at AT sign

Who’s in charge?


If I were in charge, I wouldn’t have done it THAT way!

 Have you ever muttered that?  Consider these scenarios

 ·       You’ve been praying for an adult child to come to Christ.  Here he is, approaching 50 and just beginning to show signs of a softened heart.  But you think, “Lord, his life would have been so much better had You done this 20 years ago!”

·         Or it could be your aging mom – defiant until almost to the end.  Suddenly a hearing loss or lessened mobility has gotten her attention and she is asking about God.

·         Or, it’s your husband who has plugged away at his career with such a great attitude, yet no recognition.  “Father,” you plead, “can’t You allow him SOME measure of success!?”

·         You’ve heard of Joni Eareckson Tada – paraplegia PLUS breast cancer?  Not what she would have chosen..yet she claims she wouldn’t change a thing!

·         And finally a Scottish woman whose 2 children died in infancy, her ‘good for nothing’, titled husband was worse than terrible so that all in all she led a bleak life….yet…at age 35 he succumbed to a terminal illness that softened his heart. He actually repented and turned to Christ – literal death-bed conversion whose veracity was attested to by Scottish Presbyterian Pastor Samuel Rutherford.  She later wrote that it was totally worth it, to know that he would share eternal life with her.


For sure, not what these fellow believers would have chosen had their plans been sovereign.

 We should also take heart, for it’s not just recent believers who share our puzzled expectations, but Bible heroes as well. Many men and women in the Old and New Testaments echoed equally poignant laments.  The prophets did not understand God’s use of evil nations against God’s chosen people.  You can hear both Habakkuk’s incredulity and horror in 2:13 when he questions the Almighty’s strategy of bringing the hated Chaldeans AGAINST Judah:

You who are of purer eyes than to see evil
                 and cannot look at wrong,
why do you idly look at traitors
                 and remain silent when the wicked swallows up
                 the man more righteous than he?

 And what about the Hebrews en route to the Promised Land?  I bet they would have been quick to give you their 2 shekels’ worth about the frustrations inherent in a 40-year detour.


So….? How do these anecdotes help you & me?  When life doesn’t go according to our plan, we have to remember that Jesus is the happy controller (1 Tim 6:15) not us.  Therefore, His route and plan WILL be best.

With this fact about God in mind, I want to encourage all my dear friends (AND ME!!), those

 ·        who have miscarried too many babies

·         who are raising children with less than perfect brain chemistry or physical attributes

·         who are waiting for the right Christian man to join them in marriage

·         who are working diligently to build a business, yet have yet to see growth

·         who are praying that their children’s marriages will heal

·         who struggle with finances

·         who cry out to God to grow their church

·         whose bodies are breaking down and wearing out

·         who want nothing else than children and spouses to come to Christ or to grow in Christ

 God DOES know what He is doing and you are neither forgotten nor unloved.  Cling to Him, wait in faith and pray on:

 With Habakkuk, cry out:

Though the fig tree does not bud
            and there are no grapes on the vines,
though the olive crop fails
    and the fields produce no food,
though there are no sheep in the pen
    and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord,
    I will be joyful in God my Savior.  (3:17-18)    

Christianese – even the Bible is ‘guilty’

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I used to get so mad at my mother! 

She was one of those happy Christians (this was in the days when I was NOT a believer) who would spout:  “The joy of the Lord is my strength!”  Those words seemed to make sense to her. Not only did I have NO idea what they meant, her enthusiasm just pissed me off. (Sorry for the irreverence!)  She seemed naïve and Pollyannaish.   Did she mean:

  • The fact that the Lord has joy…..that…. somehow…. translates into strength for me?
  • If I can somehow tap into and siphon off some of the Lord’s joy…..I, too, can feel strong?

What in the heck is the connection between joy and strength?

Turns out that her saying was NOT just a catch-phrase; it’s an actual Bible verse, i.e. Nehemiah 8:10

Even after I became a Christian, I still didn’t know what it meant…… really!

Only in the last couple of years have I come to understand:  

–setting aside of worries or troubling situations to focus on what I have been given as an adopted member of God’s forever family IS the ONLY path to joy.( Going round and round gnawing on my problems doesn’t produce joy!!!)

— and that being content or happy about the sheer FACT of being in UNION with God produces strength for any circumstance.

–‘glad and glee-filled’ to belong to Christ puts me in a different category above my problems.

— from such a different plane/angle (I KNEW 10th grade geometry would come in handy!)  I am equipped with a qualitative different perspective.

Therefore, the problems either diminish in power/severity…… or disappear, hence STRENGTH.

There are many other snippets of Scripture that are like that: code words without apparent interpretive amplification to connect them to a meaning.  Take for instance this one from Paul in his letter to the church at Philippi, “To live is Christ, to die is gain” (1:21)

We can figure out the 2nd clause without much trouble: when we die, we gain Christ’s visible presence because we’re with Him.

But what do those 4 words signify: TO LIVE IS CHRIST?

I was helped this month by an article in Tabletalk Magazine (June 2013, pp 64-65).  The author, Trip Lee, is a Christian rap artist with Capitol Hill Baptist church who talked about all the other idols one could have that provide meaning for life: wealth, worldly success, sex, family, physical fitness, social justice…..But what, in fact,  provides ANY and ALL meaning is Jesus.

That made sense!  (Check – another Bible phrase deciphered!)  It’s like saying, ‘the meaning of my life is Jesus; the organizing principle of my life is the person of Jesus; what I live for in life is Jesus.’

When I got to talking with Mike about this, I suddenly understood that ‘back in the day’ of parchment, scrolls were rare and limited; you HAD to write in an efficient manner – kind of like our tweets.

I’ll close with one of my favorite short scripture nuggets that I recite to myself each morning as both comfort and anchor for the day.  Christ in me, the hope of glory: (Col 1:27)

What does that mean?

“We have this hope as an anchor for the soul” Hebr 6:19

  • “Christ in me” – as a qualitatively new creation (spiritual DNA got changed at the New Birth), I have God in me, as much as if my molecular structure was permanently altered.
  • “the hope”- since God is IN me, I am assured, I have a 100 % God-backed guarantee (God does NOT lie, or else He wouldn’t be God) that I will be with Him.
  • “…of glory” – not only will I be face to face with God’s glory, I will also somehow be a partaker/ sharer in this über-celebratory love feast.  I will be…..  fêted, praised, appreciated, fussed over, lavished with abundant love & attention in quantities that are overflowing – hence glorified.

What are some of YOUR Bible phrases that you have translated or are still puzzling you?

“Incoming! Take Cover!” aka Not My Thoughts

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You want to know what I am worrying about?

  • ·         The expectations of my new school OF ME and the time I will have to devote at Carolina Day School  (what if I don’t have enough ‘maria-time’??????)
  • ·         Our shower basin will get so ‘grodily’ mildewed in the next two weeks that the buyer won’t want to close on our house
  • ·         That something else will break in our house and the buyer won’t want to close on our house
  • ·         That one or more of our kids/ grandkids will die
  • ·         The future illnesses/deaths of our cats and end-of-life decisions

My husband thinks I don’t fight the temptation/sin of worry.  I asked him this morning, “Why do you think I write about worry, fear and anxiety so much?”  Isn’t it obvious that I’m trying to fight them?  To get a biblical handle on how to frame them properly?

Here is how the Lord has been helping me through His living Word and via the writings of other Christians.

Several times in Scripture God affirms that He resists the proud BUT gives MORE grace to the humble (for example – James 4:6).  As I’ve been memorizing some verses in James around this particular truth, I’m coming to realize that Pride presents itself in 2 different forms:

1. Well, at least I don’t do XYZ like Joe/Jill!!!!  (and the many smug versions of this kind of ‘put-down’ comparisons)

2. What if XYZ doesn’t happen like the way I want it to? (and the many anxious versions of how I want life to turn out)

What’s God’s solution? First off, He communicates that these attitudes are demonic/ satanic/ out of the pit of hell.  They are NOT my thoughts.  They are an attack.

Just knowing that those fears I listed above originate outside of me gives me HUGE relief!  I can relax in God’s assessment and then accept and use His provision of rescue.  Here’s what the half-brother of Jesus counsels:

First – submit to God – turn toward Him and accept His truth of what is happening.

Fear, anxiety and smugness are ALL SIN!   Father and Big Brother Jesus  both command in numerous places:  Fear Not……Do Not Be Anxious……Repent & Rest…. Confidently Rely on God…Thank God in ALL Circumstances…Take Shelter in God, Not in Men

Second – resist the Devil – copy Jesus who used the living word – “It is written…”, when He was attacked by Satan.

Of course, the Bible is realistic.  These plaguing and demoralizing attacks will pop up again.  Even Jesus knew that His victory over Satan in the desert was just one of more to come.  Why should we expect anything less?

I have come to understand that FEAR/PRIDE are really one and the same.  Just as a coin has two faces, this sinful posture reflects the 2-sided family flaw we inherited from our first parents, Adam & Eve.  Both responses flow out of our human bent to think we know what is best for us. 

Here’s my version of one of those situations above:

Our Virginia house had better ‘close’ with no problems on 12 June so we can move into our Carolina house on 14 June.

That’s pride – thinking I know what is best for Mike & Maria. 

Fear flows out from that, “ What if it doesn’t go according to our plan?”  And since I have lived in the world long enough to know that I can’t control everything, worries set in.

What to do?

I’m learning to imitate mature Christians:  I speak God’s truth back to myself. Here are some examples.

·         God sees all the circumstances. (I don’t!)

·         He knows what is best. (Not me!)

·         He won’t withhold any good thing from me -Ps 84:11. (Really!)

·         I can trust Him to know and give me what is good for me.

·         All things work together for my good. (Rom 8:28)

·         God is truly in control and plans/controls/ordains/directs/allows all things that happen.

·         Who am I to think I would understand God’s ways and what is best?

I will close with a very helpful reflection that I read this weekend.  Here’s the link to the whole post (it’s definitely worth reading! )   Countering our negative assessments

The author wrote –

  • Nothing bad can happen unless there is something more than Christ that you want.

  •  So the Worst Case Scenario — is only a possible scenario if you want something more than Christ.

Each time I remind myself of that reality, I exhale and relax.  That’s right – I DO HAVE Christ!  And once you HAVE Christ (‘Christ in me, the hope of glory’ – where hope means assurance/expectation/guarantee/promise – Colossians 1:27) all else pales, because all else is just temporary.

Conversation with a fellow slave


I was reading Marvin Olasky’s column in the latest issue of World Magazine (23 March 2013).  He writes on the very last page, before the cover, and I always start magazines at the back.  In his essay, ‘Remember their chains’, Marvin explored past and current ways to start the God-conversation with someone you encounter.  His final thought energized me and made me excited to talk to my next seat partner on a flight.  Boiling it down in my own words and through my filter, my future conversation goes like this (after some initial get-to-know-you chit-chat) :

Maria:  So what drives you?

Joe Blow:  What do you mean?

Me: Well, everyone is working at something, trying to impress someone, motivated to achieve, earn, make peace with something or someone important in their life.  What is that for you?

(And then I might unabashedly share my past bulimic body-image issues and how I’ve been a slave to controlling my food intake/exercise output since those days.  And how horrid a slave-master THAT has been!!   And that the ONLY way out is to know the TRUTH.)

Joe Blow:  What do you mean by truth?  What truth?  Which truth?  Whose truth?

Me:  Good question.  The God I serve promises that if we find the truth and trust the truth and obey the truth, then we will be free indeed.  (John 8:32 -…  and you will know the Truth, and the Truth will set you free)

Joe Blow: (a bit triumphantly)  Hmmph…the truth is, I’m not a slave to anything or anyone!

Me:  That’s what we all think, because we’re modern.  But the fact is, whether we like it or not, all humans are wired to be slaves, or at least to serve and worship something or someone.   Do you consider yourself an honest person?

Joe Blow:  What do you mean by honest?

Me:  I mean, that, if you recognize something as real and true, however you define it, can you courageously admit that you’ve encountered truth?  Or are you the kind of person who has too much pride and just pretends that it isn’t so, in order to maintain the upper hand in a conversation?

Joe Blow: (a bit haughtily and acting like I might be insulting him)   I’d like to think that I have that kind of integrity you’re describing.

Me: Well, here goes: The Old Testament in the Bible recounts episode after sad account of the Hebrews serving God at times and then not.  They would drop God and switch their allegiance to the false gods of neighboring peoples. And at other times, they would move beyond religion and actually invest their hopes in stronger strategic partners to rescue them.

The histories chronicled in the Bible document NOT a single time when the Hebrews were neutral, serving no one.   They either served or obeyed God, or were slaves to different powers, whether real or demonic.

And if we move from the strategic level to the personal level, we read in the Bible all sorts of tragedies of men and women driven by their greed for power, sex or money/material things.  These untamed forces either played themselves out in brutal, blatant conquests or in the more manipulative, sinister yet secretive moves.

And lest you think times have gotten any better, the New Testament and history SINCE then don’t show any improvement in men and women. More education and ‘better’ living conditions haven’t changed our hearts. We just pretend more, even to ourselves.

So do you see why I asked you ‘What drives you?’

Joe Blow:  Yeah, I see your point, but I don’t think those behaviors describe me.  I’m pretty happy with my life.  I like my job, I’ve got some money in the bank, I’m seeing a pretty sweet gal who has her life together, too.  Life seems good. And my friends would all say I’m a fairly chill guy.

Me:  (with a playful touch of light praise) Bravo! and well done you!  You may be the one exception to nature. (By the way, did I mention that God created nature? He-he…just teasing you!)   No, in all honesty, I would probably come to the same conclusion, IF, I didn’t know myself better.  I don’t think I’m a slave to what others think of me, or to money, or to my reputation for being perfect mom or wife…but I have had struggles with meeting MY standard for how I teach French. Numerous times in the past,  I’ve allowed a ‘bad French-class day’ to  cause me to feel down.

But what God is teaching me these days is this:  I have learned (pausing slowly for effect)  that when what I treasure or value the most is taken away from me, or even threatened, I get angry.

Joe Blow:  (who is beginning to listen attentively at this point) Hmm..what is that?  …….the thing you most value?

Me:  MY time…Time for Maria, time to get my work down…so I can have time to walk and listen to podcasts…and so I can have time to relax and read ‘enough’ each day.  I am learning that ‘MY TIME’ is what I most treasure and hoard and protect.

Joe Blow:  Huh…I never looked at ‘my time’ as a possession, but I have to admit, I can identify.  So how do you get out of that mindset?

Me:  Thanks for being honest.  I think a lot of people feel that way, at least about something.  It might not be time, but it might be money or recognition.  You know that truth I mentioned? – The verse about knowing the Truth and being set free?   Well, Truth is not just a concept or a fact to know.  Truth is actually a person – Jesus Christ.  Jesus is actually God who took on the body and life of a real human being in time and space, one of us.  And He lived and died for some pretty cosmic supernatural reasons.  You know how I mentioned that we are created and wired to serve someone or something?   God did in fact fashion us to serve Him since He knew that only by making Him both our Treasure and Lord, we would be happy.   And since we have preferred OTHER things, we have piled up a whole lot of guilt.  The penalty for rebellion is death.

But the amazing news is that God the Father of Jesus, and God the Son and God the ‘power-filled’ supernatural Holy Spirit together crafted a plan even before God created the universe and us. The Bible says that by living a perfect life and being executed in our place, Jesus made a way for us both to get the credit for HIS life well lived and to be declared “Not Guilty in the capitol case, “Crimes against the Creator of the Universe”.  The ‘not guilty’ ruling is pretty amazing in that God the Father was able to maintain both the standard of justice AND show mercy to us by virtue of Jesus receiving our punishment.

So now those who receive those 2 benefits have secured a permanent spot in the family of God and an amazing inheritance, both of which far outweigh whatever earthly ‘treasure’ you or I could possibly imagine.  How I am helped is by recognizing that serving Jesus, being in whatever role you want to call it:  servant, steward, slave, ambassador, beloved child, worshipper actually liberates me.  I can’t lose that treasure.  It’s not dependent on me.

Joe Blow: (thoughtfully…) so you don’t hoard your time anymore?

Maria:  (chuckling a bit ruefully) I wish I could say yes!  But if I am T-R-U-T-H-F-U-L…I will tell you that I do forget where my true treasure is..and fall back into that hoarding frame of mind.  Fortunately, I’m getting better at spotting my anxiety and stress when they start to flair.  Then I can say, “Oh, yeah…that’s pretty stupid. It’s NOT my time”, or “Thankfully that mediocre lesson today doesn’t define me”.  I’m actually growing more relaxed to the degree that I remember and am thankful to serve such a God. I have a secure identify, purpose and destination and I belong to an amazing family.


That’s as far as I’ve gotten in imagining the conversation.  Where would you go from here?  It sure does seem a more natural approach.  Anxiety and stress and drivenness seem to be the norm.  After all, we have MORE people than ever on anti-depressants.  People are dying for lack of good news.  I don’t want to HOARD that!!!



“My faith is SO puny…” and other nonsensical remarks

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Which of the two situations described below make you doubt the sufficiency of your faith?

– a BIG need that looms large and feels almost impossible?


-seeing someone else set ALL their hope and trust on God?


I read a Ben Franklin quote the other day, “He that lives upon hope will die fasting.”

I think THAT sentiment sums up most folks’ view of hope.

But does Franklin’s hope refer to the Christian hope? -The hope that is an anchor to our soul, firm and secure, i.e. CHRIST?  (Hebrews 6:19)

Not at all.  Ben Franklin is talking about the kind of hope that is wishful thinking, the kind we all employ when we say, “I hope it doesn’t rain for the picnic!”

Christian hope is a different concept – it’s a firm assurance, expectation, and guarantee.  And you know what else; it does NOT find its origin in us!!!!  That actually is a relief.

You ask, “Maria, you mean I don’t have to gin up my slacking, weak faith? “

No!!!! – because it’s not YOUR faith to begin with.  If you are a Christian, then you have had the faith of Christ implanted in you.  So the REAL question is…….

Are you a true, authentic Christian?  Here’s the test:

  • Do you actually believe who Jesus the Christ says He is? – the Son of God who alone is the way to the Father, who alone is sufficient to have his payment for your sins count for you, who alone is sufficient to have his perfectly lived life count for you?
  • And do you desire, in some measure, to rely on Him FOR standing in your stead at the Executioner’s Block, to rely on Him FOR having earned ALL the righteous credit you’ll ever need to please God?

If you can say YES to the above, then that is proof that this alien/foreign/other faith is from outside of you.  The content next to the above 2 bullet points is NOT obvious, not gleanable from nature or from the world.  You had to have HEARD that information and there had to have been a spot created in your heart/mind to accept and receive that info as the most amazingly good news and way to have peace with God and be FREEEEEEEEED of your guilt.

Be assured: if you are Christian, then the faith you have been given is ENOUGH.


Mike and I are so thankful and grateful to have this opportunity to trust God for some big things in our own personal lives.

Most of the time our prayers are taken up for all those whom we love,  that is the needs of:

a)   family members

b)   friends

c)    co-workers and neighbors

d)   brothers and sisters in Christ

e)   and then those who are cared for by a/b/c/d

Now Mike and I get to watch, expect and wait for God to work in a big way in our very own personal circumstances.  We are SO excited.  We know our God as the One who does ABUNDANTLY more than we can ask or imagine.  He is the epitome of creativity.

God has already answered 1 of our big 5 – we found a house to buy on our one house-hunting trip to Waynesville, NC.

Now we are watching/expecting/waiting to see how He

  • Sells our current house in the time period set by the seller of the NC house
  • Provides me with a job at the income we have determined is sufficient
  • Brings paying clients to Mike as a business consultant
  • Leads us to our new church family

We feel blessed to have been given this opportunity to enjoy front-row seats and see what He will do.  And then many of you will rejoice with us and find new strength and desire to exercise the gift of faith and prayer given to you.

Pray on and watch for great things! 

I’m adopted!

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I’m adopted!

….which means that I have been chosen, wanted and planned for.  It is this idea that needs to dominate and be my source of comfort every idle moment.

The ‘New City’ iPad app has a shortened, edited version of the Westminster Catechism (52 Qs & As – one for each week).  Question 1 gets right to the point:  “What is our only hope in life and death?”  Answer:  “That we are not our own, but belong, body and soul, both in life and death to God and our Savior Jesus Christ”

In my last post I talked about spiritual warfare.  The enemy prowls around, intent on sabotaging and weakening our faith.  Natural physical rhythms like sleep also attenuate our faith. So when we awaken in the morning, we must draw new strength for the day by preaching the good news, the TRUTH, to ourselves.

Part of my routine on my morning walk is to remind myself out loud of what I am glad.  And you know, these benefits that accompany my adoption actually are written down in the official adoption papers called the Bible.

  • My life is hidden safe in Christ.
  • Christ is in me.  How so? –the Holy Spirit God moved in as a down-payment/deposit/ engagement ring or promise. Therefore, I have the assurance of future glory and an inheritance.
  • I have everything I need (all grace) to do what God wants me to do as His ambassador, His steward, His soldier.  I am not dependent on my ideas or my strength. I am not limited by the lack of resources.
  • His purpose for my life is the development of His likeness in me – i.e. growing in holiness….becoming suitable for His Son as a member of the Heavenly Bride
  • I’m carrying in my spiritual pocket an invitation to the Wedding Feast of the Lamb.  When I RSVPd, the Angels rejoiced in heaven
  • That RSVP (my name engraved on His hands) I can never lose.  And it entitles me to untold spiritual riches
  • I can trust God and what He promises by looking at two things:

-His compassion shown on the Cross

-His power shown by the resurrection

I don’t feel like thinking of these FACTS all the time, so the times when I DO feel less resistant to spiritual matters (1st thing in the morning), I need to eat, take in spiritual nourishment.  And you might have heard what the French say, “L’appétit vient en mangeant”   One becomes hungry by eating.   Bon appétit!

Underneath support – a thought for the New Year

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I’m 54 and have been alive since I was 24.  It was in February of 1982 when God ‘rescued me from the dominion of darkness and transferred me into the kingdom of the Son He loves’. (Col 1:13) When you hear ‘rescue’, think plucked out. When you hear ‘transferred’, think of change in location.

I began to sprout & grow in direct proportion to the food I took in (Bible reading and study), but then the Enemy launched a full-scale frontal attack.  The first wave was the very big distraction of a multi-level marketing business that my husband’s boss offered us.  We were flattered that an older adult would ‘think so highly of us’.  Our goals changed and we followed the lure of easy money for about 7 years.  Our spiritual life went dormant. Further attacks followed with job struggles and marriage problems.

Then the aroma of life beckoned and little by little we awoke to the fact, THE FACT, that we were still alive.  But it wasn’t until we started to eat again (take in God’s word through Bible study, books on doctrine, podcast sermons and eventually meals from a Biblical church) that we really grew and started to heal. Looking back over the past 30 years, here is what I see as a bottom-line lesson.

Just like physical nourishment, aka Food is typically spaced out in 3 meals and a snack or 2 per day, so daily Biblical nourishment is a no-brainer.

But what I am finding is that a habitual quiet time (whether mid-morning, after supper, or either one of the dark book ends of the day) requires supplementation. Useful to me has been either meditation via scripture memory and/or a summary thought as in: ‘Well, this day might stink, but at least I know …….

Here is my tri-pod assurance/ ‘insurance’ that I keep running back to throughout the day. Recalling these assurances provide me with on-going sustenance until the next ‘rendezvous’ with God’s Word:

  • My biggest problem in life has been solved: the wrath of God is no longer ON ME.  I have ‘eirene’ or peace with God because of the substitution and swapping of my actual guilt for Jesus’ righteousness.
  • My future is assured: ‘Christ in me, the expectation of Glory’ – I have a place in Heaven being saved and securely kept for me by Jesus – an unlimited life of excitement and adventure and face-to-face intimacy with the amazing Triune God.
  • The God of Jacob is my current, present help: Jacob was not a very nice character:  he was a swindler and a passive husband.  Yet because of God’s covenant with him, God helped, empowered and led him in incredible ways.  He didn’t deserve anything good, yet experienced a ‘more than one can ask or imagine life’.

As a believer, an heir along with my brother Jesus, these 3 facts are true and real.  They are my ballast. They are always there with me.  But the hard part is the decision to shift my thoughts to these truths.  They might be invisible, but they are more real than the transitory circumstances that get one down.

So, my prayer for you is that you find your bottom line, your ‘well, at least…’

Then hold on tight. As the writer to the Hebrews counsels (2:1), “We must pay the most careful attention, therefore, to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away.

Here’s to NOT drifting.  Keep connected to your anchor.  May you grow more in awe and love with Christ in 2012

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