When It Is Not Well

It’s been a tough couple of weeks. Well, honestly I’ve spent much of this year riding the roller coaster from discouragement, uncertainty, anger, and pain to hope, optimism and faith and back around again. The most recent instance has just been another circumstance which brought pain and worry.

A few days ago, I’d looked up Bible verses about worry and anxiety and was punched in the gut with Philippians 4:6 “do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” I am always thankful for God’s grace when a verse like that lays me out flat. While I pray often, I also fail regularly to “not be anxious.”

The following day, I really didn’t want my worries and fears to consume all my thoughts as they had been doing. As I brought all of that to the Lord in prayer that morning, many things ran through my head. My need to repent and confess of my sins of worry, and control and fear was a large part of it, and it was in that time of prayer I finally realized all those were symptoms of having placed my faith in myself regarding the situation rather than placing it in God. Again, ouch.

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Reflecting on the rest of Romans 6

Any Christian who ever learned the “Romans Road” method of communicating the gospel can probably recite Romans 6:23, “23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

It is an essential and tremendous reminder. We, because we are sinners from the start, deserve the wrath of God. But he has given us eternal life instead.

But it struck me as I reread the entire chapter of Romans 6 repeatedly this week that there is so much more there. It is a stern warning to anyone who would abuse the grace of God to continue sinning. It is a call to obedience and holiness and an admonition to wrestle against our sinful desires, with the confidence that Jesus has already set us free from their power over us!

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The Word: Psalm 32

I’ve been thinking a lot about forgiveness lately and given that today was communion Sunday when we remember the forgiveness we Christians have been shown by God, this Psalm seems like the perfect thing to share today.

Psalm 32

Blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered.

Blessed in the man against whom the Lord counts no iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no deceit.

For when I kept silent, my bones wasted away through the groaning all day long.

Ford day and night your hand was heavy upon me; my strength was dried up as by the heat of summer.

I acknowledged by sin to you, and I did not cover my iniquity;

I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the LORD,” and you forgave the iniquity of my sin.

Therefore let everyone who is godly offer prayer to you at a time when you may be found; surely in the rush of great waters, they shall not reach him.

You are a hiding place for me; you preserve me from trouble; you surround me with shouts of deliverance.

I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go;

I will counsel you will my eye upon you.

Be not like a horse or a mule, without understanding, which must be curbed with bit and bridle, or it will not stay near you.

Many are the sorrows of the wicked, but steadfast love surrounds the one who trusts in the LORD.

Be glad in the LORD, and rejoice, O righteous, and shout for joy, all you upright in heart!

Things I Learned About Myself, When I Wasn’t In Church

33496411294_898d69b221_zPerhaps this sounds like a strange admission, but there have been times in my life when I had no church home. While I believe those were legitimate absences, upon reflection, I may have learned more about the need to be part of a church when I didn’t have one than the many years I did.

When I first moved to Washington, D.C., finding a good church was a challenge. It took many visits to find and settle in a church I thought was committed to the truth. Then, after roughly a year there, God opened my eyes to some serious false teachings entrenched there. I was devastated. After trying and failing to make any headway against the teachings, I left.

It was painful and discouraging time in my life. I missed the fellowship, the community, I missed hearing the Bible taught regularly. I missed singing praise aloud to God with other people. But church visit, after church visit, I kept spotting the same problems. And it wrecked me. The discouragement got the better of me and I gave up for awhile.

I was judged by some Christians during that time, which made it even harder to want to find a church again. I want to be clear – I never gave up my faith in Jesus. I didn’t somehow lose my Christianity because I wasn’t attending church on Sundays. During my absence, I also read my Bible and listened to podcasts and sermons when possible. Thankfully, that season did not last forever, and I eventually found churches I could regularly attend again and eventually even consider my home church.

But I learned some things during that season that I think are important and sharing them could help others. Continue reading

The Word: Galatians 1:3-12

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, who gave himself for our sins to deliver us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, to whom be the glory forever and ever. Amen.

I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel — not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Jesus Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed. Continue reading

Don’t Miss List: Biblical Authority, David’s Greatness and A Question about Heaven

For the Bible Tells Me So: Biblical Authority Denied Againbibles

Al Mohler Jr. brought up his concerns with Pastor Andy Stanley’s views about relying on Scripture and how it poses the same problem as theological liberalism did many years ago. Mohler writes:

Let’s be clear — Andy Stanley does not mean to deny the central truth claims of Christianity. In his message, “Who Needs God? The Bible Told Me So,” he affirms the bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. But he does so while undercutting our only means of knowing of Christ and his resurrection from the dead — the Bible.

And he does so directly and without risk of misunderstanding. In his message he stated: “So I need you to listen really carefully and the reason is this — perhaps you were taught, as I was taught, ‘Jesus love me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so.’ That is where our trouble began.”

Mohler has much more to say about Stanley’s recent sermon and I think, given Stanley’s influence in Christianity at large, it would be wise to read his entire post.

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7 Ways Prayer is Worship by Paul David Tripp

I rarely use devotional books. I really don’t see the point of most of them and if I’m going to attempt to read something daily, I want it to be the Bible itself. That being said, Paul David Tripp’s devotional New Morning Mercies is actually quite good and on occasion I read a daily entry or two.

The entry for Sept. 13, was focused on how prayer is a form of worship it included these seven statements which I found helpful:

  1. Pray acknowledges God’s existence
  2. Prayer bows to God’s glory
  3. Prayer submits to God’s plan
  4. Prayer confesses allegiance to God’s kingdom
  5. Prayer rests in God’s provision
  6. Prayer celebrates God’s grace
  7. Prayer commits to God’s work

“Portrait of a New Life” – Sermon Recommendation

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Sometimes what makes a sermon good is that it kicks the stuffing out of you. It makes you examine your heart, and convicts you of the sins you’ve been downplaying or ignoring in your own life. Of course, those kinds of sermons are only good when we can also remember the gospel, so we do not just remain weighed down by our guilt and sins.  Continue reading

Charles Spurgeon Recounts His Salvation

While writing my post the other day about grace and the doctrine of salvation I found this extended quote from Charles Haddon Spurgeon’s autobiography and wanted to share it:

Spurgeon wrote:

When I was coming to Christ, I thought I was doing it all myself, and though I sought the Lord earnestly, I had no idea the Lord was seeking me. I do not think the young convert is at first aware of this. I can recall the very day and hour when first I received those truths in my own soul—when they were, as John Bunyan says, burnt into my heart as with a hot iron, and I can recollect how I felt that I had grown on a sudden from a babe into a man—that I had made progress in Scriptural knowledge, through having found, once for all, the clue to the truth of God.

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Acts 15 and Salvation by Grace Alone

It was so good to be back at my own little church today to sing, to pray and to study with my church family. It is always so sweet to return after time away from them.

My pastor was continuing our study through the book of Acts and today we were going through Acts 15:6-12 (saving the rest of this section for next week). It’s a historical passage but with pertinent information about the issue of salvation. This post stemmed from the message my pastor preached this morning. Continue reading