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The Pit of Despair (Link)

I really enjoyed writing this guest post! Lamentations is soooo under-rated. Click below to head on over to Guys With Bibles and read it!

The Pit of Despair

 
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Posted by on November 9, 2018 in Bible

 

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Sinner or Saint?

If you’ve known me very long or ever been in any sort of Bible study with me, you probably know that I can be kind of mischievous when I so choose. For instance, if someone is trying to skim over a difficult topic or passage, I’m going to be THAT person who points it out and forces the group to discuss it. My best friend can tell when it’s coming and sometimes I get a warning glance from her (which is usually ignored) and then she just sighs. ūüôā

Sometimes though, if I want to really get a group going, I’ll make one of my favorite statements:

“Well, I actually don’t think we should say we are sinners. We are saints.”

And then I just sit back with a smile and listen to all the protests go on around me. People whip out their Bibles like they are ready to excommunicate me. Arguments start. It’s great.

After the dust settles and everyone is ready to listen, I bring forth my evidence. Let me start by saying that all of this only applies to those who are saved. If God has NOT redeemed your soul, then you are a sinner and that word is highly applicable. And it was for every. single. person. BEFORE we were saved as well. In fact, we are such sinners that Ephesians 2:1 says that we were DEAD in our trespasses and sins. That’s how fitting the word is.

But if you read just a little further down in Ephesians you come to these verses:

“But¬†God, being¬†rich in mercy,¬†because of the great love with which he loved us,¬†even¬†when we were dead in our trespasses,¬†made us alive together with Christ‚ÄĒby grace you have been saved‚ÄĒ¬†and raised us up with him and¬†seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus,¬†so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable¬†riches of his grace in¬†kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.” Eph. 2:4-7

Something changes when we become saved. Actually, everything changes. But one thing in particular that I would like to talk about is our standing before the Lord. Once we are saved, when God looks at us, ALL HE SEES IS CHRIST’S RIGHTEOUSNESS! I mean, how incredible is that??! He doesn’t see our sin, but he sees what Christ did to redeem us! (Disclaimer: Not an excuse for sin. Read yourself some Romans.)

Furthermore, did you know that out of the 9 letters that Paul wrote to churches, in 6 of them, he starts out using the word “saints?” He either says “called to be saints” or outright calls the believers “saints.” He also uses it liberally throughout his letters as he refers to his brothers and sisters in Christ. Paul definitely thought that word was fitting for believers. (Galatians….not so much…)

Webster’s 1828 Dictionary is my favorite one and so of course I was curious to see what it had to say on the word sinner. One thing it said was, “It is used in contradistinction to saint, to denote an unregenerate person; one who has not received the pardon of his sins.” Believer, that is not you!

So, here’s the part in my conversation where someone usually goes, “but, but” and stumbles around for some words. Let me help you out. I understand, friend! Of course we still sin and need to ask God’s forgiveness constantly. That’s not what I’m saying at all! I think the problem comes in because some churches have distorted the word saint to mean a perfect person and they worship man instead of God alone but that’s NOT how the Bible uses it. The Bible refers to us as saints not because WE are perfect but because our REDEEMER is! Totally different. But it does refer to believers numerous times as saints.

Because, in God’s eyes, we are no longer sinners. That train has left, that slave isn’t here (another one is lol.)

We aren’t sinners; we are saints that sin.

 
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Posted by on October 30, 2018 in theology

 

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An “Epic” Review

I recently had the blessing to travel across the country for a good friend’s wedding. And by travel, I mean fly, because if you know me you know that I get carsick pretty easily so if it was a road-trip, the word “blessing” would probably have been dropped from that sentence.

Anywho…I always take a book with me when I fly and sometimes I actually read it and sometimes I just sit like a creeper and people-watch. But this time I brought a book I had actually been saving for my next flight, as weird as that sounds. It’s small, short, and even weirder for me, I have NO IDEA how I got it or it’s study guide!¬†So while you may have been thinking I was being stuck up with my blog title, the title of the book is actually Epic, and I couldn’t resist. ūüôā

I got through security for my flight pretty fast (because I’m a good rule-follower) and since it appeared that the people-watching chances were slim, I opened the book right up. Seriously guys, I hadn’t even read the back cover. I was going in blind on this one, which is really new for me. It’s by John Eldredge, who I don’t know much about, except he wrote Wild at Heart, which I’ve never read.

The very first line of the book hooked me because he referenced my favorite movie, Lord of the Rings. I was immediately intrigued. He also had a quote by G.K. Chesterton and I thought, “Gosh, he’s off to a great start!” The book is about telling the gospel with more of an “epic story” perspective. I’ve never read anything that referenced SO many well-known movies and books: Chronicles of Narnia, Little Women, Gladiator, Titanic, Apollo 13, Saving Private Ryan, The Odyssey, Stars Wars, and so many more. It was insane!

It was quite an interesting perspective and while I can’t say I agreed with all the theology (mainly the section on free will), he came at it from an angle that was really different from anything I’ve ever read.

But after a while I started to notice something. It wasn’t quite fitting anymore. Instead of trying to show how the gospel had similar themes to some of our movies, it seemed more like he was trying to make the gospel fit into the movies’ themes.¬†I think he was letting his imagination run away a little bit.

Because while God’s story is incredible, amazing, and (I would even agree, epic,) it’s not one of our movies. It is written by a supreme Creator, not humans. And somehow comparing it to our flawed stories relentlessly gave it less meaning than reading it how it was actually written, in God’s own Words.¬†

 

 
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Posted by on October 25, 2018 in books

 

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Theology for Dummies

Have you ever read any of the “For Dummies” books? You know which ones I mean?

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They are pretty iconic. I mean, most people would recognize them simply by the cover, even if you’ve never read one of the books. They have somewhere around 2,500 titles and over 2 million books in print. Crazy, right? The appeal is that they are easy to read for the average person and present the information in a design where the important stuff is made known so that you can recognize and remember it. I think I read one in high school but I don’t remember what it was.

But to be honest, I kind of stayed away from them because I didn’t like reading stuff written for “Dummies!” (Yeah, pride. I know.) I considered myself a pretty well-read person, for which you can thank my parents. My Dad used to read to us all the time as little kids and he can still recite the “Three Billy Goats Gruff” from memory. In fact, if I were to go home and my Dad was read a book to my younger siblings, I would be in the front row.

When we got older, my Mom read us books like King Arthur, Pilgrim’s Progress, and Canterbury Tales. We read a lot. I love books and reading. I used to get in trouble for reading too much (actually, I used to get in trouble for getting upset when people interrupted my reading…) Old English? No problem. Beowulf? Bring it on. Deep theology? My favorite.

But things are different now. My brain capacity and concentration capacity are different. And although the desire to read deep things is very real, I find myself wishing someone would write a “Theology for Dummies” book. Which sounds like a contradiction, I know. But I simply can’t comprehend the books I used to be able to read- which is SO frustrating! For instance, I’ve had Bonhoeffer’s “The Cost of Discipleship” sitting on my shelf for about a year now. I’ve probably started it 4-5 times and never been able to get past the first chapter because I don’t understand what I’m reading. No matter how many times I read the same sentence, I don’t get it. (Is there a kid’s version of this book??)

I used to be able to read several books at the same time and keep up with all the themes. Don’t believe me? Look what popped up on my Timehop today:

book

This was what I was reading four years ago. I liked reading more than one book at a time so that if I didn’t feel like reading one book, I had another to turn to.

But not now. It’s been frustrating but also very humbling for me. The person who used to pride herself in reading the great books of the world has been brought down to the level of a child and is thankful that she can read at all! That person who used to have 6 books by her bed that she was reading all at once is now thankful to be able to open her Bible and comprehend one single verse in it. Thankful to find those authors that do write simply. Ultimately thankful that salvation isn’t for the wise or all-knowing people but that you just have to have faith like a child. That it’s simple. Just thankful.

 

But…if you happen to find a “Theology for Dummies”, let me know. ūüėČ

 
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Posted by on April 18, 2018 in books, epilepsy

 

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Business Meets the Bible

It’s been a while since I posted anything, but the wireless is not working at the moment.¬† I am enjoying my new job, despite being far from home.¬† I call home a lot and we email and skype back and forth.

I’m learning a lot as a secretary at a Christian camp.¬† Some of this is business learning. I’m learning to be more comfortable talking on the phone and how to be a marketer of events and opportunities at the farm- how to promote things and spread the word. I’m learning to be more professional in my speech and actions.¬† I’m learning that it’s okay to ask for help or more explanation if I don’t understand.¬† I’m also learning how to politely but firmly tell salesmen that we’re not interested (thank you, parents, for the example!).

Some of the things I’m learning are not so much business- although they are tied together.¬† I’m learning how to be gracious with people who aren’t.¬† I got my first call the other day from someone who wasn’t happy.¬† They were practically yelling over the phone to me and I listened for 15 minutes.¬† All I could do was listen because I didn’t really know the details of her experience here.¬†¬† I told her how sorry I was that she had a bad experience here, thanked her for her feedback, and told her that I would pass it on (which I did).¬† I think she hung up happier and a little more calm than when she called.¬† And, she’s coming back to the farm.

People are hard to deal with sometimes.¬† If we respond to them in the same manner,¬† then nothing will get better.¬† The Bible says that a soft answer turns away wrath.¬† It’s so true!¬† If I had gotten angry or defensive with that lady, she would have written us off and never come back.¬† I haven’t had to deal with very many people like this before.

So, I’m learning to be gracious.

 
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Posted by on September 26, 2013 in secretary

 

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My Devotions this Morning

Today, during my personal devotions I was reading 1 Kings 15-16. By this time, Solomon is dead and the kingdom is divided in two. I was getting into the part of the Bible where it mentions all the kings and a little about what they did during their reign.

 

“In the twentieth year of Jeroboam king of Israel, Asa began to reign over Judah, and he reigned forty-one years in Jerusalem. His mother’s name was Maacah¬†the daughter of Abishalom. And Asa did what was right in the eyes of the LORD, as David his father had done.”¬†¬† 1 Kings 15:9-11

 

I love it when I get to read about a good king because they are all so far and few between (I can only think of 3 at the moment)!  I kept reading and came to:

 

“Nadab the son of Jeroboam began to reign over Israel in the second year of Asa king of Judah…”¬† 1 Kings 15: 25a

 

And a little bit further:

 

“In the third year of Asa king of Judah, Baasha¬†the son of Ahijah¬†began to reign over all Israel…”¬† 1 Kings 15:33a

 

Again:

 

“In the twenty-sixth year of Asa king of Judah, Elah the son of Baasha¬†began to reign over Israel…”¬† 1 Kings 16:8a

“In the twenty-seventh year of Asa king of Judah, Zimri¬†reigned seven days¬†Tirzah.”¬† 1 Kings 16:15a

“In the thirty-first year of Asa King of Judah, Omri began to reign over Israel…”¬† 1 Kings 16:23a

“In the thirty-eighth year of Asa king of Judah, Ahab the son of Omri began to reign over Israel…”¬† 1 Kings 16:29a

 

It was at this point that I suddenly noticed that Asa was STILL king of Judah even though there had been SIX kings of Israel!¬† I’ve noticed in the past that if a king only reigns for a little while (for instance-¬†3 days!), it is usually because this statement followed their name:

“did evil in the sight of the LORD.”¬†

However, when the Bible records that a king did what was right in the eyes of the LORD, it’s usually good news and that king often has a longer reign than the evil kings.¬†This just goes to show that God blesses those who worship him.¬† I’m not saying that nothing bad will ever happen to a righteous person, because that simply isn’t true!¬† All you¬† have to do it look at the New Testament to realize that.¬† However, the Old Testament is full of verses that promise God’s blessings on those who keep his commandments and follow after him.¬† Of course, the ultimate blessing will be eternal life with God but I think God also blesses his people on earth, too.¬†

Maybe it’s not with great wealth, maybe it’s with joy, family, or just the peace that only¬†he gives.¬† I’m so thankful for God’s blessings!

 
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Posted by on April 17, 2013 in blessing

 

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Who to Follow

There’s a lot of talk these days about believing in yourself.¬† You know, You can do anything if you just believe in yourself and follow your heart.¬† Everything is about self-esteem.¬† People are so badly off because they have low self-esteem and if we could just boost that up, the whole world could unite in peace and harmony.¬† Uh-huh.

I don’t know about you, but I don’t think the problem is low self-esteem. As a matter of fact,¬†I think¬†the exact opposite.¬†Do men destroy others because of¬†LOW self-esteem?¬† Was the Holocaust a result of low or high¬†self-esteem?¬† We seem to have no problem of low self-esteem. In fact, humans have a way of pridefully thinking of themselves¬†HIGHER than they ought to.¬† Hence all the follow-your-heart jazz.

Do you know what your heart is?  The Bible tells us what our hearts are like in Jeremiah 17:9:

“The heart is deceitful above all things,
and desperately sick;
who can understand it?”

Do you really want to follow something that is deceitful and wicked?¬†¬†Because of¬†the Fall into sin, our hearts can deceive us and we can’t even understand our own hearts.

In contrast to that, there is something, or rather someone, we should follow.¬† As a matter of elimination, it can’t be someone who is human because all humans have hearts that are deceitful. So it must be Someone who is not human. May I offer a suggestion?

(1 John 1:5) This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.

(Psalms 5:4) For you are not a God who delights in wickedness; evil may not dwell with you.

(Psalm 18:30) This God‚ÄĒhis way is perfect; the word of the Lord proves true; he is a shield for all those who take refuge in him.

I think I will follow the Lord.

 
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Posted by on March 8, 2013 in Bible

 

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