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Embracing Sin

I know a lot of people that wrestle with doubt. Dear friends of mine that doubt their salvation, doubt God’s love for them, doubt their beliefs. For a long time, I struggled with these friends. I struggled with how to respond to this kind of doubting. How can you be unsure of the ONLY sure thing we have? How can you doubt the Words of our eternal, sovereign Lord? If he says it, it’s true. I was not a very patient person to a hurting heart for many years but God has shown me some things since then. 🙂 I’ve learned how to better respond to doubts, even if I don’t always understand.

However, all of this has caused me to be very interested in doubting and where it comes from. So let me ask this question: How many times have you listened to a gospel presentation (or maybe given one) and glossed over the part that we are all desperately, evil sinners? I’m actually very curious in this answer. Have you heard someone present the gospel as a way to be saved but you aren’t even sure what you are being saved from?

Romans 3 talks about how every single one of us is unrighteous and no one does what is good. 1 John says that if we say we haven’t sinned, we are liars. Isaiah 64 says that we are unclean and even our righteous deeds are like filthy rags. And all you have to do is read the Ten Commandments (or maybe Jesus’ interpretation of them) to realize that we haven’t kept them at all.

So why is that part of the gospel, the part where THERE IS A DESPERATE NEED FOR A SAVIOR, skipped over so much? Because it is uncomfortable. Because people don’t want to be told that they are in the wrong and are sinful.

But don’t you see? Without that, there isn’t a need for the gospel at all. Without a deep realization of your sin, you won’t have a deep realization for what Christ did for you! You will be caught up in thinking you have to earn your salvation instead of realizing it was never based on you to begin with. Let me share from Because He Loves Me:

“Many people struggle with feelings of condemnation and guilt today because they’ve never really understood what Jesus did for them on Calvary. They think that their relationship with God is predicated on the fact that they’re not really all that bad, and then they wonder if God still loves them when they struggle with ongoing sin. They wonder if they were ever really his. They don’t see the depth of the sin that Christ bore in their place and so they can’t comprehend the righteous fury he withstood for them nor the riches of the grace they’ve been given. I’m encouraging you now to fully embrace your sinfulness for one simple reason: so that you can fully embrace this great exchange, our ‘justification.'” pg71

YES! If you never fully embraced that you were an utterly sinful person who was incapable of rescuing yourself, then you won’t ever be sure of your salvation. That doubt will remain. But once you realize that your salvation was never based on you or your performance, you can be sure it will never fade away. Christ is eternal, his love is eternal, and his work is eternal.

And that, dear friends, washes away all doubts of this world.

 
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Posted by on September 24, 2019 in books

 

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Because He Loves Me

Guys, I made a mistake. A few years ago, I was given a book. It was given as a thank-you gift to a group of volunteers that I’m blessed to be a part of. It was around Christmas time and I remember looking at it, and putting it on my bookshelf. And here’s where the mistake came in:

I DID NOT READ THAT BOOK. If you don’t know this about me, I don’t read many theology books written by women because sometimes I get tired of looking for good ones. (Some of you might identify with that and some of you might be outraged.) So when I saw that this book was written by a woman I pridefully placed it in the back of my mind and forgot about it. I should have known better. I should have known that the ladies that picked this book are some of the most biblically sound people I know. I should have read the book years ago. I didn’t though.

But God in his grace reminded me of that book a couple months back and I decided to give it a try. I have been blown away, people. There were some days I would be reading and it was all I could do to contain the love for Christ that I felt building inside me from reading this. This book is one of the most Christ-focused, convicting, and encouraging books I have ever read!

It’s Because He Loves Me by Elyse M. Fitzpatrick.

I can’t say enough good things about this book. I actually can’t think of anything negative to say, which is rare for me. I even included the Amazon link if you click that picture because, seriously, everyone should read it!

Over the next few posts, I want to share some of my favorite parts of the book but I think my absolute favorite thing about it was how entirely gospel-focused it is. Elyse starts out with the gospel and builds on that but always brings you back to the fact that Christ’s love displayed in the gospel should be the driving motivation for every single thing we do. I needed that reminder. Sometimes I get so caught up in trying to do what’s right that I ignore my motivations. A short quote from the book, “I believe that most Christians think fondly of Jesus, are sincerely grateful for salvation, and remember his name as a tagline when they pray, but they don’t see his work and life as something to contemplate every moment of every day. I have to admit that until fairly recently I, too, pursued godliness without much thought of him.”

And that’s just from the intro! This book left me with a greater awe of our Savior and love for him! I’m so excited to share that with you all.

 
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Posted by on September 20, 2019 in books

 

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A Stupid Show

Wow. I blinked my eyes and weeks went by with no blog posts. It wasn’t really intentional; I have a lot of reasons. But you know what? Ya’ll don’t really need to know them because this is my little corner of the internet (for real- I paid my domain fees this week) and I can choose when to post and when not to, huh? So I guess that’s that. 😊

There’s a show that I watch. I’m not proud of it. Most of the shows I watch I really love like Andy Griffith, I Love Lucy, or the Great British Baking Show. A friend told me I should watch this one and against my *ahem* better judgment, I did. It’s one of those shows that you can watch while doing something else because it’s so shallow you don’t really need to pay attention. Have I mentioned I’m not proud I watch this show, nor do I recommend it? Okay, great. 😊 It’s The Good Place.

The Good Place is about four humans who die (*this post is going to contain spoilers lol) and go to “The Good Place” but through a series of events they end up back on earth. And it was in an episode on earth where I had to stop the dusting I was doing because my heart jumped at something I heard:

Eleanor (main character): “It made me realize that we’re the only truly free beings in the universe because we actually know what’s up with the afterlife. And I think that means we need to be bold.”

Whoa. For a terrible show with a repetitive plot line, it deals with philosophy and ethics more than any other show I’ve watched. Which is probably why I keep watching it.

That statement is so true for believers! We ARE the only people in the world who know the truth about what comes after death and because of that, we should live boldly through Christ! It reminds me of this passage:

“Therefore, having this ministry by the mercy of God, we do not lose heart. But we have renounced disgraceful, underhanded ways. We refuse to practice cunning or to tamper with God’s word, but by the open statement of the truth we would commend ourselves to everyone’s conscience in the sight of God. And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. In their case, the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. For what we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake. For God, who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness,’ has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.” 2 Corinthians 4:1-6

I think these days there is a lot of tampering with God’s Word to make it more appealing or more relevant. But this passage says we will REFUSE to do that because what we have is the absolute truth and the ONLY way of salvation. Which, by the way, is always relevant. Why would we change it? We are truly free to live boldly and openly for Christ because we KNOW the truth! Turns out, I gained a little perspective from the dumb show.

 
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Posted by on September 14, 2019 in theology

 

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Thoughts About Late People

I am a punctual person by nature. To. A. Fault. Seriously the best way to put me in a bad mood is to make me late for something. But I also don’t like rushing to get places. I’m one of those weird people that picks out her clothes for work the night before and lays them out, puts coffee in the pot so all I have to do is push the button in the morning, and leaves my house 5 minutes before I know the time it will take to drive to work just in case of…anything…

God really had to grow me in this area when I couldn’t drive and was dependent on others to get around. Suddenly, my schedule was at the mercy of other peoples’ schedules! It was a big adjustment and I have to say I’m very thankful to be able to drive again.

All that being said, I don’t understand late people. The person you can always count on to be late, who is always held up by something or other, who you tell a different starting time to help them get there earlier, etc. If I’m honest, I can get really prideful and judgmental about it. “Why can’t you ever be on time??” “Can’t you just PLAN to leave ten minutes earlier for church and then you will get here when we start?”

But I read something a few weeks ago that totally changed my perspective on this. And I truly don’t remember what book it was in so sorry, no credit is given but this certainly wasn’t my thinking.

The illustration was about a person who is an alcoholic and attends Alcoholics Anonymous meetings. This person also attends church. He says that whenever he is late for church, he always gets disapproving looks from people already there. But if he is late for an AA meeting, the meeting stops and people jump up to welcome him because they realize that him being late might mean that he almost didn’t make it at all.

I have studied and thought on this story for weeks. And it has really changed me. I don’t want to be that person teasing others for being late anymore and I apologize if I’ve done that to you before! I want to be the one that sees someone come in late and realize that it’s a blessing they are here at all! Especially at church of all places! Praise God for whoever wrote that story and for bringing it to me- I needed to hear it!

 
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Posted by on July 13, 2019 in growing

 

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Bumpy Ride

My car has been broken down for almost a month now. My wonderful, used-to-be-reliable car has a cracked engine block and needs a whole new engine. To be quite honest, I kind of miss it. I miss its smooth driving, its great sound system, and its amazing AC. I just miss driving my vehicle. You know, when you know a car and how it moves and its quirks? That kind of thing.

On the plus side, my best friend is super generous and has been letting me use her car since she can use a work vehicle. And guys from my church are working on my car situation. But it’s been draining. I don’t like having Natalie’s car because I don’t like forcing her to drive a camp vehicle. To say the least, I’m not a fan of cracked engine blocks.

So this week, I suddenly remembered that I have another car that I gave back to a friend to scrap. We put the battery back in and it started up! I was beyond happy to be able to give Natalie her car back even if it meant I was driving around a rust bucket for a while.

Why am I telling you all this? I do have a point. Also this week (it’s been busy around here) we had a missionary from Romania stay with people at my church. One night several of us gathered together to hang out and someone asked me if I had walked there. I half-jokingly replied, “No, unfortunately that tub of rust out there is mine.”

Do you know what that missionary said? “What do you mean unfortunately? You have a car! That’s great! What a huge blessing!”

Immediately, several “yeah, but” statements flew into my head but in the end I had to sheepishly own up that I actually have two cars. He was floored and kept talking about what a blessing that was! Whoa, was I convicted. Such a different attitude than what I had. Suddenly the rust, the smell, mice, lack of AC, no muffler (the list goes on) didn’t seem as important. Suddenly the fact that I have a vehicle that gets me from point A to point B, that isn’t inconveniencing another person, and that simply RUNS became something to be more grateful for. And on top of that, I have an awesome friend that let me use her car for a while and guys at my church who are working hard on my car to get it fixed!

I’m so thankful for that change in perspective! I’m thankful someone was there to point out how grateful I should be and he didn’t even realize what he was doing!

So if you hear me coming, don’t mind me. I’m just going to boldly drive around my rusty, leaky old car as long as I need to (and it holds up) because God gave it to me and I’m grateful for his provision!

 
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Posted by on July 7, 2019 in blessing

 

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Raised to Walk a New Life

You know those people that come into work (or wherever) in the winter time and complain about how much they hate winter and can’t wait for warm weather but then as soon as summer is here they complain about how much they hate the heat? You know who I’m talking about? I’m not one of those people. I’m solely a summer complainer. A heat-hater. I freaking love winter and all my friends know it. So I jokingly say that I have a right to complain when summer comes around since I don’t play both ends. 🙂

In case you didn’t know, summer has finally come to Ohio. After weeks of rain, the heat and humidity have arrived. And while I haven’t particularly enjoyed the rain and have been praying especially for all our farmers, I HAVE been enjoying those 50 degree nights. That was pretty nice to have all the way through June. And I’ve also been enjoying my $20 electric bill as I push off putting in my AC until I can’t take it anymore.

Which was last night. Last night, I got home from work and my apartment was at 90 degrees with no air flow coming in. My neighbor and I agreed it was time and we helped each other get our AC units in. But after an hour, it was still at 86 and I was sweltering. If you haven’t seen this, I turn into a different person when I’m unbearably hot. Yeeeeaaahhh…need to work on that…

So I quickly texted a friend of mine in town who has a- guess what? Pool! And both my neighbor and I went swimming for a while. It was SO cool and refreshing! We stayed till the sun went down and I felt like a new human walking home.

As I thought about it this morning, a phrase is running through my head that I’ve missed since I moved to Ohio. When I was baptized in PA, my pastor said these words, “Baptized in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Buried in the likeness of his death and raised to walk a new life.” I love that last sentence! It’s so symbolic as you are put under the water and come back up. But I haven’t heard it at any baptisms out here and I’m usually sitting waiting for it (and end up whispering it under my breath 🙂 ) It’s not like it’s a required thing to say, I just happen to like it.

Last night was a very simple but great reminder for me. As different as I felt getting out of that pool from when I got in is how different my life is in Christ! Believers are new creations! The old is gone, washed away! The new is here, being put on daily!

Thank you to my chlorine-smelling hair for the great reminder!

 
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Posted by on June 29, 2019 in encouragment

 

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Hardworking Pride

I’m going to back track here for a moment. A couple posts back I was re-reading Crazy Busy, right? And then my life got crazy busy and I haven’t posted in a while. But there is another lesson from that book that I wanted to write about because it came up again this week.

As we all know, I may have a tendency to say yes to everyone and everything. Hence the busyness. This week I had a really hard time saying no to people. All good things and all things I love but by the end of the week I was feeling overwhelmed and burdened and I knew it was my own darn fault.

And finally I remembered something from Crazy Busy:

“We are busy because we try to do too many things. We do too many things because we say yes to too many people. We say yes to all these people because we want them to like us and we fear their disapproval. It’s not wrong to be kind. In fact, it’s the mark of a Christian to be a servant. But people pleasing is something else. Doing the cookie drive so you can love others is one thing. Doing the cookie drive so that others might love you is quite another. So much of our busyness comes down to meeting people’s expectations. You may have a reputation for being the nicest person in the world because the operating principle in your heart is to have the reputation for being the nicest person in the world. Not only is that a manifestation of pride and therefore a sin; it also makes our lives miserable (living and dying by the approval of others), and it usually hurts those who are closest to us (who get what’s left over of our time and energy after we try to please everyone else). People often call it low self-esteem, but people-pleasing is actually a form of pride and narcissism.” Crazy Busy pg. 35

So if reading that didn’t kick you down several notches like it did me, then maybe you don’t need to be reading this post at all. As for me, I believe I felt my blood pressure spike as I read a thorough description of myself in a stranger’s book.

Pride can be very sneaky and sometimes imperceptible because it worms itself into our good intentions. I found that while I’ve been busy, so has my prideful spirit. I realized this week that I need to really evaluate and pray over my motivations for why I’m involved in things. I need to go back to my “Before I say Yes” List and make sure I’m using it.

But I’m also thankful that I’m not flying blind by myself here. I have the Holy Spirit living in me to convict and guide. And I have friends who will help hold me accountable. What a blessing those two things are!

 
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Posted by on June 8, 2019 in encouragment

 

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