Can we lose our salvation?

Leave a comment

Treasure

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.

Pop Quiz!

2 Comments

Mexican Impasse

 

 

Ephesians 4:32  Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you

Why did he bring up that old sin of mine?

I’m not often caught off guard, but his comment blind-sided me. It definitely related to the movie we were watching, but I hadn’t thought of that shameful chapter from my past for years.

My stunned silence in turn took him back. He hadn’t meant any – it was just a remark. My unexpected reaction so took him back and left him not knowing how to process what was happening.

A chilly distance and awkwardness descended upon us both.

We each felt put upon by the other. We each wanted the other to lay aside their feelings and make the effort to understand our surprise and hurt. It was a Mexican impasse.

Words weren’t adequate to work through the weight of feelings. I sat down to read the paper and he made his way to the ‘man-cave’ to smoke his post-prandial cigar.

Slowly there came over me a sense that I was being offered a pop quiz to plumb the genuineness of my verbal proclamations of love for my husband. Here was an occasion to put my money where my mouth was.

Do I truly love my husband as much as I tell him and others? If so, then aren’t his feelings important to me, even more so than MY own feelings?

And there he was, down in that cold place, next to the propane heater, trying to enjoy a cigar, but feeling UN-loved and MIS-understood and probably maligned.

Soft feelings of compassion replaced my desire first to be understood. A texting conversation began and after a flurry, I knew that offering him grace instead of holding out for what I thought I wanted (to be understood) was more satisfying. I went to bed in peace.

How did I know it was a pop quiz? Because the chapter in my book I picked up after our electronic back and forth addressed GIVING versus TAKING.   And John Piper’s devotional for the day was about forgiveness.

 

Stay in your boundary!

2 Comments

A night at Cousin Terry’s home gifted us with more than good fellowship and food. We were also blessed with a powerful word-picture or image to remind us of how to live the Christian life, with peace and rest.  The picture below is what I’m calling a ‘boundary circle.’  I’ll explain in a few.

Heart Shaped boundary

 

 

 

 

Christians, by definition, are new creations.  They have been rescued from the futile, darkened kingdom of self & death (run by the Father of Lies) and transferred into the Kingdom of Light & Life, where the Triune God reigns.

Paul explains this to the believers in Colossae,

  • For he has rescued us from the kingdom of darkness and transferred us into the Kingdom of his dear Son (Col 1:13)

As freed prisoners, now owing our allegiance to our Rescuer, everything is different:

  • I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. Galatians 2:20

Although a Christian for the past 33 years, I’m a slow learner.  What I’ve found to be true in my life, and it probably is so with you, is this: to the extent that we take in knowledge about God, we grow more like Jesus.  If we don’t EAT spiritual food, we imbibe worldly food. Think Junk Food, ‘and there is no health in us’ as the Book of Common Prayer says in a morning confession.

From the moment of ‘transfer’ new believers belong to God as His adopted children, with full rights and privileges, to include a future, guaranteed inheritance. However, I’ve learned that unless I call myself back to present reality, I can revert back to that former, but still very comfortable way of thinking, that of a ‘slave to sin’.

Slavery

 

 

Here’s the rub.  Life is hard, whether you’re a ‘Christ-ling’ or a ‘World-ling’.  But as an adopted child of God, an heir with Christ, I have full access to the love, the power and the promises of God.  I’m not meant to live, dependent on my own resources.  I am a new creation: ‘Christus-Maria’ 

All that being said, despite having been a Christian since the age of 24, I still battle unbelief.  I find myself frequently imagining, worrying and fearing this or that. Our cousin Terry is a mature and wise Christian woman who has learned to trust God by trial and error (aka falling into sin and then repenting) through prayer and nourishment from God’s word.  She is also very real, the kind of Christian with whom you can feel SAFE in admitting your struggles.

So when I shared with her, during our overnight the content of the worries and fears that plague me, she passed on the advice gleaned from a wise Christian man who lovingly admonishes his fearful wife each time she shares a worry:

‘Honey, you’ve stepped out of the boundary of grace for the moment, for the day!  There’s no grace NOW for where you’re hanging out – the future. There’s only grace for the present. Get back inside the boundary!’

So back to the protective circle of love at the top of this post.  I picture myself yoked with Christ, WITHIN THAT CIRCLE OF LOVE.  As long as I keep step with Him, then all is well.  The strength and direction come easily as I walk, moment by moment, in conscious communion WITH Him.  It’s only when I run ahead in my thoughts to the future hypothetical ‘what-ifs’, that I find myself in the scary ‘badlands’ of possible dangers, outside of my boundary of love.

Yoked

 

 

How senseless to run on ahead, alone, as a weak and defenseless little donkey, leaving behind my supernatural Older Brother and Redeemer!

I find comfort in this image of a protective circle of love and grace surrounding the new me, harnessed to a comfortable restraint permanently linking me with Jesus. More and more, I am learning to ‘harness’ my thoughts, to rein them in, back to the HERE and NOW where Grace is King.

Question: Where are you running ahead of your provision?

 

When measuring is a snare

2 Comments

Get out of jail free

Romans 6:14 uses words to describe our ‘freedom’ card.

The first translation is from the NIV and the second is the Message

 

 

  • For sin shall no longer be your master, because you are not under the law, but under grace.
  • Sin can’t tell you how to live. After all, you’re not living under that old tyranny any longer. You’re living in the freedom of God.

I’m reading a book that Graham gave me for Mothers’ Day.   Here’s the link  –  Punch Fear in the Face – Start

Jon Acuff Bk Punch Fear...
One of the author’s premises is that people have these internal voices that authoritatively talk to us in messages that are anything but positive.  And…(here is the kicker)..we BELIEVE them!  They are particularly active anytime we entertain a new direction like:

 

 

  • start an exercise program
  • go back to school
  • research a possible business idea
  • ask for a raise
  • confront another person who has hurt us
  • stop a bad habit
  • ask someone out for a date
  • audition for a part
  • apply for a job
  • dust off a dream
  • change churches

His remedy is to articulate out loud what the voices say, think about the message in the light of day and speak truth back to them, thereby quenching their power……for the time being. I actually had the courage, yesterday, to do just that and it was liberating. woman in the shower       I don’t like washing my hair because it means staying in the shower longer than normal which means I have to confront what I think is a poofy tummy (I know…TMI!).  For the first time, however, I recognized this thought as ONE OF THOSE INSIDIOUS VOICES!!.  So I talked back to it and said – “Wait a second.  A tummy is NOT a shoulder bone.  Shoulders are hard, tummies are round and soft – that’s just how they are made.  So what if it feels poofy?” And that was that – the voice went back into hiding and I was left feeling free!

I had read the above verse in Romans the other day and suddenly made the connection.  Anytime I MEASURE myself vis-à-vis others using an imaginary standard in my mind, I EITHER feel superior or inferior.  And what I have done for that moment is to step back INTO the prison cell of the Kingdom of Darkness where Law reigns and sin is the norm.

Measuring and comparing oneself to others is to forget that we have already been sprung from the World’s Way.  We have been transferred into the Kingdom of Light, by Grace.  We didn’t collect enough brownie points to EARN our way into it. We were liberated from our dark prison cell.  The door swung wide and we walked out into the Light where we have

  • value because God chose us and paid for our release
  • an inheritance we don’t have to earn
  • freedom NOT to play the ‘measurement’ game

In essence – we now live in OPEN space in the LIGHT under a completely different system that uses the currency of grace, not merit.

And….we find ourselves frequently running back to that dark prison of measuring ourselves in comparison to others, a system familiar to the point that it’s almost comforting.

prison bars

The good news is that the door stays open and we can turn around (repent) and walk back into the light.

Knowing that is like sticking your hand in your pocket and finding that Get Out of Jail Free card!

One New Year’s Resolution –

Leave a comment

As we approach January 1, I’m prayerfully thinking through where I am spiritually and where I want to be.

To that end, I turn again to John Piper. This 67-year old pastor and teacher is probably my # 1 hero in the faith.  He has shaped my theology the most through his sermons and writing by teaching me:

  • That no sparrow falls unless God has willed it
  • That God wants us to be glad and joy-filled

(a link to his website is to the right)   John Piper’s ministry

A brief explanation of the two points is in order:

First – the fact that God controls the details about sparrows is to say that He is sovereign over every thing that happens in the entire universe, whether invisible or visible.  And He controls all in a way that doesn’t change His nature of GOOD, HOLY, LOVING, JUST and CREATIVE God (to name only 5 of His myriad of attributes).

Second – God created us to be filled to overflowing with gladness, joy and happiness about the right things – HIM, His actions, His saving grace, His promises and His plans for us.

Being happy in God is another way of saying ‘glorifying’ God.

John Piper explains that the Westminster Shorter Catechism’s very FIRST Q and A to be:

Q. What is the chief end of man?
A. Man’s chief end is to glorify God and to enjoy him forever

 

Piper explains that since only ONE end is mentioned (not two), changing the AND to BY does not alter the meaning.

that our chief purpose in life is to glorify God BY enjoying him forever. 

It seems that God is most glorified when we are most satisfied in Him.  And the corollary is that our degree of satisfaction in God increases when we let others know how happy in Him we are. 

My goal, therefore, for this New Year is to practice glorifying God by enjoying Him as well as His gifts.

Obviously, this is easier said than done.  Why is that?  Because I live on a diet of junk.  Just like one’s taste for vegetables has to be nurtured and developed, so, too, must I cultivate a ‘taste’ for God-things, for holiness. 

 

Far too often I’d rather –

  • Check the internet than pray
  • Read the paper instead of my Bible
  • Think about how I’m going to lose 3 lbs and NOT how I could invite a lonely person to dinner

What’s a self-absorbed tech-preferring gal going to do? 

Well, I only have one idea – perhaps you can suggest others:

In the vein of Ann Voskamp, I’m going to keep thanking God for all His wonders.  That implies that I am going to notice and catch these marvels, these gifts, and the myriad of God-sent little pleasures. To that end, I will pray daily for Holy Spirit help to prod me, to remind me, to get me out of myself and look up and around.

A link to her book

Taste and see that the Lord is good – Psalm 34:8

 

 

 

 

Pity, Pride and Promises

Leave a comment

Several of my dear friends have been struggling with the very real and insidious satanic snare of: 

  • self pity – look at how terrible my circumstances are!
  • pride – these circumstances should not be happening to me!

The trick of Satan is to mask his role in promoting these depressing and self-righteous feelings!  Instead, we think they are OUR true assessment of reality.

One friend is struggling with her marriage and wishing it were otherwise.

The other friend is struggling with his vocation and wishing it were otherwise.

Who can rescue them (and us when we are so attacked) from this downward spiral that seems unending?

One version of an endless cycle

Thank God that He exists and has come that we might have life.

The other day I, TOO, felt that descent into murky grayness as I was meditating on some difficult circumstances. But before I hit dark despair, the Holy Spirit brought to mind God’s promise in Romans 8:28:

And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.

Then I recalled

  • the FACT that God is sovereignly controlling all my circumstances
  • the FACT that God is always doing 10,000 plus things in every circumstance that touches me
  • the FACT that God predestined me to work, to help, to pray, to give, to worship, to trust in activities and projects of His own choosing
  • the FACT that God chose to give me life today for His purposes
  • the FACT that I can trust God of all ‘people’ to be consistent and true to His Word

All those thoughts got my mind OFF of my circumstance and reversed the trend of my feelings.

So dear friends, I am praying that the Holy Spirit will remind you hourly:

  • that you can trust God
  • that God is close to the broken-hearted
  • that He is allowing this circumstance, at the moment, because He has good in mind for you, for those involved and others about whose situation you might not know

So……relax, trust and remember how He has come through in the past and what He promises for your future.

1 Cor 2:9

What is your ‘One Thing’?

2 Comments

You’ve heard of Double A batteries?  How about Double C Idols?

That would be the twin gods of comfort and certainty.  I was stopped short in my thoughts the other day by a quote attributed to Nancy Leigh DeMoss.  Quoted in the excerpt at the bottom of this essay* she asks her listeners to, “Finish what King David wrote by filling in YOUR one thing: ‘One thing I have asked of the Lord, this one thing I seek_____________________’.”  (Psalm 27:4)

Pausing to reflect, I had to confess that I couldn’t even narrow down all my prayer requests and heart longings to ONE THING. But I remember saying to myself, ‘what a great idea!’

Pretty soon, in less than 24 hours, I realized that ALL my prayers pretty much center around wanting MY comfort and certainty in the details of my life and the lives of those I care about.

In other words it’s all about me. Yet…that is not wrong in and of itself.  God KNOWS that we operate in our own best interests. He wired us that way.  He just KNOWS that which is in our best interests – a life fed, fueled, and instructed by Him.

Even yesterday on our hike up the Art Loeb Trail to Ivestor Gap,

Art Loeb Trail plaque and Mike - 31 Aug

I saw how much we crave certainty. Mike was navigating by topographical map. He is a typical mission-oriented male, just the way God made men to be.  He had scoped out a hike and this was our 3rd attempt to complete it.  The first Saturday, because we weren’t used to how long it takes to hike this kind of hilly terrain, we had taken a wrong turn.  Then last Saturday, I casually mentioned that 4 hours of hiking was probably what I had in mind for a typical Saturday field trip.  That information, shared with my husband for the first time, caused him to change our day’s goals.  We successfully completed half of his planned hike. Yesterday our goal was to finish it.

As we ran into those inevitable decision points (how come THIS trail fork isn’t showing up on the map?), I realized how much we CRAVE certainty and how it eludes our grasp most of the time.  What a futile passion, then, to want to KNOW that things will turn out the way we imagine them in the beginning.  What a waste of emotional energy to angst, to stress, to push to ENSURE those pictured circumstances turn out ‘our way’!

God doesn’t promise us THAT KIND of assurance.  (He DOES assure us of our salvation, if we have trusted in His forgiveness applied to us based on Christ’s work.)

Back to David and Psalm 27: As we hiked in the lush hills of Western NC, I meditated on my ONE THING while…

·         passing locals gathering  blueberries

·         smiling at families tenting for the weekend

·         chatting with a young couple & their daughter the age of our grandson. They were hiking up and down the hills, acclimating her to their lifestyle.

Art Loeb Trail from FR 816

By the time we reached our parked car, I had formulated what I am NOW going to pray to God about and continue to order my life around;

·         that I may KNOW moment by moment  that I ‘live and move and have my being’  (Acts 17:28) IN Christ

·         that I RE-MEMBER that I have a new ontology, a new nature thanks to the Holy Spirit in me

Why that request?

·         I forget….daily..hourly

But if I can stay aware that ‘it is no longer I who live, but Christ in me..’(Gal 2:20), then why stress over ANYthing?  Logic and common sense say that if I don’t have a crystal ball, if I don’t control the universe, than I cannot possibly know exactly what IS BEST for me or my loved ones.  But the One who created the universe and all that is in it DOES know.  And united to Him is the safest place to be.

What is your One Thing?

*

How would you finish [this] sentence?  “One thing have I desired of the Lord; that will I seek after _________.”  What is the greatest desire and longing of your heart? In the answer to that question lies the explanation for much of what we do – our choices, our priorities, our use of time, the way we spend money, the way we respond to pressure, whom or what we love. [King] David’s answer (see Psm. 27:4) reveals why God could say, “This man’s heart beats like mine.”

Nancy Leigh DeMoss  (30 Aug 2013 Quote of the Day, Grace Tabernacle Church

When life feels blah

2 Comments

I read a blog recently where the young 20-something author said that she appreciates loneliness & pain because at least she knows she’s alive at those moments.

Mike and I were savoring a coffee at one of Historic Waynesville’s ‘café-cum-curio’ boutiques when I asked him how he thought this gal might describe the OPPOSITE of her painful – but alive times.  He offered that maybe she lived depressed in the Ecclesiastes-type sense (Life is meaningless, even and ESPECIALLY after you’ve tasted all of Life’s goodies).  And that pain (perhaps she’s a cutter??) is welcome in the midst of the numbness of depression.

These reflections on pain, aliveness & deadness nestled themselves in the midst of some recent thoughts on ‘blah-ness’.

I’m a peppy, perky optimist 95 % of the time, but the other day I was feeling blah.  Zero perkiness as in “I’m excited about XYZ!”  I wasn’t excited about ANYTHING.

But, God be praised, because of some readings that the Holy Spirit has led me through in recent years, I was able quickly to remember and apply one of CS Lewis’ philosophies:

“The Christian says, ‘Creatures are not born with desires unless satisfaction for those desires exists. A baby feels hunger: well, there is such a thing as food. A duckling wants to swim: well, there is such a thing as water. Men feel sexual desire: well, there is such a thing as sex. If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world. If none of my earthly pleasures satisfy it, that does not prove that the universe is a fraud. Probably earthly pleasures were never meant to satisfy it, but only to arouse it, to suggest the real thing. If that is so, I must take care, on the one hand, never to despise, or to be unthankful for, these earthly blessings, and on the other, never to mistake them for the something else of which they are only a kind of copy, or echo, or mirage. I must keep alive in myself the desire for my true country, which I shall not find till after death; I must never let it get snowed under or turned aside; I must make it the main object of life to press on to that country and to help others to do the same.”
C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity

When the blahs DO strike, we can console ourselves with the truth that SOON, we will be in a land where there are NO blahs.

In other words, there is NO need to be depressed about feeling depressed.  It’s part and parcel of living in a physically and morally fallen world. Our mental state is more connected to our physical condition than we acknowledge:

  • How did I sleep last night?
  • Do I feel fat this morning?
  • Am I constipated?
  • Am I worried about a twinge or a growing mole?

Our mental state is ALSO influenced by many temporary circumstances:

  • Will we be able to pay our bills?
  • What if our cat Leia doesn’t get better?
  • What if my new job is more demanding than I have anticipated?
  • What if Mike can’t find any paying clients?

Only by talking to ourselves and re-membering / re-hearsing / re-peating God’s truths can we hold on to the correct perspective so we can value the permanent and hold the temporary more loosely.

And the good news is that those moments when we DO feel alive/hopeful/ excited, they are VERY real fore-tastes of life to come.  They’re not meant to taunt us but to reassure us and make us long all the more for eternal life with the happy triune God.

“Incoming! Take Cover!” aka Not My Thoughts

1 Comment

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.


Reflections on marriage – both kinds.

2 Comments

"I know what I'm getting into, Mother!"

“I know what I’m getting into, Mother!”

 

It was our anniversary last week. Mike and I have been laughing and smiling through memories, all of them bathed in deep gratitude to the One who has kept us faithful to our covenant.  Holy Spirit super glue comes highly recommended.

There was that 20th anniversary cruise to which months earlier we had blithely invited MY dad, our boys Graham & Wes and Graham’s classmate & good  friend Rob. By the time we set sail in April of 2000, deep fissures in our marriage had surfaced. Walled-up tight, we barely talking to one another.  We slept in separate bunks in our cabin, keeping up the charade of a happy anniversary celebratory cruise.  It was awful.

But thanks be to the God who can heal marriages and who preserves the best for the 2nd half! (Here’s to 33 more years!)

While cleaning yesterday, I gained a deeper insight into marriage and the church.  Following my routine for manual labor, my ears were glued to a podcast.  Two Christians were ironing out the actual significance of Christ’s work on the cross.  Between dusting and scrubbing,   I caught a new understanding of something called ‘penal substitutionary attonement’.  That’s the doctrine that holds to Christ dying in our place, submitting to the legal punishment due us and absorbing God’s justifiable wrath toward sin.

The Christian opposed to ‘PSA’ advocated ‘Christus Victor’ as the label for what Jesus accomplished.  This view holds that Christ defeated the evil powers of darkness arrayed against God, but that no punishment was meted out.  He explained further that far from holy justice, actual INJUSTICE would be done were an innocent man punished for something he didn’t do.

The orthodox Christian explained that it was FITTING and APPROPRIATE for Christ as both head & husband of the Church (the called-out believers are the bride of Christ) to die and pay the penalty for her sins.  We are one with Christ if we are IN CHRIST.  No innocent 3rd party was pulled in off the street and made to suffer this sentence.

All of a sudden I SAW why Christian marriage is such a big deal.  It is the down-to-earth illustration of Christ’s relationship to us as Church. I had always known Paul to say that explicitly, but never understood it.

          Eph 5:31-33 – “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.” This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church. However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.

New realizations flooded me as I saw more clearly what Mike does for me as my husband. HE actually is responsible for me.  If I err in any way, in one sense, he takes the blame.  We are one; what I do affects him and vice versa.  Only God holds HIM accountable.

What woman wouldn’t want to tuck herself safely under that kind of God-appointed covering?  If God describes that as submission, I happily submit and will pray all the more for my dear husband.

Jeff, our pastor, preached on the role of husbands today, taken from 1 Peter 3:1-7.  I love his quote attributed to Matthew Henry:

          Eve was not taken out of Adam’s head to top him, neither out of his feet to be trampled on by him, but out of his side to be equal with him, under his arm to be protected by him, and near his heart to be loved by him.

Since husbands are called to serve & die for their wives as Paul explains, it seems a little thing to respect and honor them in return. Thank you, Father, for your planned protection.  I DO plan & carry out silly, stupid things occasionally.

Older Entries

<span>%d</span> bloggers like this: