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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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The Third Mile

If you look at my running stats, my slowest mile will always be the third one. I despise mile three. I’ve run 5Ks before but as a general rule, I don’t run three miles unless I’m in a race. I’ll run 2 or 4+ before I stop at 3. It may sound dumb but that third mile is a killer for me. I’ll be feeling just fine and then suddenly my stomach decides it would like to be on the outside of my body, and my head thinks it has a drum inside, and my feet seem to be made of lead. Worst. Mile. Ever.

Today marks the end of Mile Three since my first seizure. I can’t believe it’s been three years. Seems a whole heck of lot longer to me. And I’m not gonna lie; they have been hard years. Some days I still long to have “myself” back. Sounds weird, huh? Every time I meet a new friend, I still have the feeling that they aren’t meeting the real Kimmy and sadness creeps over me. Like they only are getting to know a partial person. Some days I could do without the constant headaches and the exhaustion.

I have been seizure free for 1 year and 4 months now. That is the most common question I get asked about my health and I really do thank God for that fact. But that doesn’t mean I feel a lot better. Some days I do but not usually. Some days I feel like a petty teenager with crazy emotions everywhere! Side effects of meds are hard, folks.

It’s not a big secret that John is my favorite Gospel. (Are you allowed to have favorites??) I LOVE that book. Last week I heard a sermon that referenced John 12:24-26. In those verses, Jesus talks about how a seed must die in order to bear fruit. And because of his death, SO much fruit would come! Verse 25 stands out to me:

“Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life.”

I’ve been asked if I could go back to before April 10, 2016, would I? And the answer is no. There is so much that God has taught me about himself and I wouldn’t give that up. There are areas that I needed to grow in spiritually and I know that now. I loved my life a lot back then and it was really selfish of me. I’m glad I lost it. I have a better, more eternal view of life now.

One of my newest favorite songs is “Scars” from I Am They. The first part of it goes like this:

Waking up to a new sunrise
Looking back from the other side
I can see now with open eyes

Darkest water and deepest pain
I wouldn’t trade it for anything
‘Cause my brokenness brought me to You
And these wounds are a story You’ll use

So I’m thankful for the scars
‘Cause without them I wouldn’t know Your heart
And I know they’ll always tell of who You are
So forever I am thankful for the scars

I love that. And it’s so true. Without having gone through all the hardship, I wouldn’t know Christ as well. I wouldn’t have the opportunities I have now to minister to others. So I’m thankful. Just a few verses down in our John passage, Jesus is praying and he says, “Father, glorify your name.” (vs.28) Amen. That’s my prayer also, whether Mile Four gets easier or not. 🙂

 
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Posted by on April 10, 2019 in epilepsy

 

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The Phlegmy Religion

Do you have words that you just don’t like? I’m not talking about swear words here; I mean ordinary words that you simply don’t like to use and you may not even know why? For instance, I despise the word phlegm. I do an inner shudder when I hear it, I don’t say the word, and I would probably never use it in a blog title. I also don’t like the word waft. My best friend hates the word moist. Think about it: you probably have some.

But I’ve been doing some research on a particular religion and for some reason the only word I could conjure up to describe it is that nasty word up top. (Plus whenever I hear it, I always think it sounds like someone sneezing.) Gnosticism. Don’t let the big word scare you away- until about two weeks ago, I didn’t really have a clear idea on what Gnosticism was. I knew it wasn’t a good thing but that’s about it. I went through some training a few weeks ago and I was a little shocked at how prevalent this viewpoint really is. I’ll be honest and say that most of what you are going to hear from this point on will be from that training and my research after it.

In short, clear terms, Gnosticism is a belief system that centers around man. It believes in an inner light or divine spark in every person. It places a huge value on feelings and experience and believes that a person can experience God outside of the Bible. Gnostics aren’t big on authority or institutions such as the church because they have a more subjective view of morals and revelation. Gnostics tend to be very spiritual and sometimes almost mystic.

So if none of that makes any sense to you, let me give you ways that this plays out in real life:

-Personal, special revelation has replaced God’s Word
-Morals are subjective- I get to decide what’s right for me, you can decide for you
-Experience trumps Scripture- what you feel is true and right, doesn’t matter what anyone else says
-No absolute truth- you assign meaning to things (such as gender)
-God wants me to be happy- pull the verses you like out of Scripture
-Follow your heart, you have a light that is special and unique to only you

Does ANY of this sound familiar to you?? Because it certainly does to me. And the scary thing is that some of it sounds familiar because I’ve heard it from believers. People, that scares me. This stuff is wrong and it has infiltrated God’s church! It can be tricky to catch because a Gnostic can know all the right terms and use the same phrases as biblical believers but what I just wrote above is NOT the gospel. You cannot have the gospel apart from God’s Word (his WHOLE Word) and you cannot decide that you get to call the shots. That’s not how it works.

A verse from Hebrews 2 is popping into my head right now. (May I just add that all of Hebrews 1 talks about Christ being preeminent to all? We aren’t little gods running around. Just wanted to clear that up.) Hebrews 2:1 says:

“Therefore we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it.”

That’s highly applicable. How close are you, am I, paying attention to the Scriptures? Do we know it well enough so that when nuances are brought in from the outside we can quickly identify them as the false teachings that they are? I think we need to start paying “much closer attention.”

Otherwise you might get caught up in a gross, phlegmy, false religion.

 
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Posted by on March 31, 2019 in theology

 

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A Part of HIStory

This weekend I had an incredible, terrifying opportunity. I was asked to do devotions for a ladies retreat and after a lot of prayer I said yes (Hey, it fit the criteria!) But I was pretty nervous because (believe it or not), I’m not much for public speaking. No one at my church thinks that is true because I make announcements all the time but they are too far away to see how much I’m shaking! I write, I don’t speak.

So I had to put a lot of thought into what I was going to do these devotions on. I had 5 sessions and a varied audience. I asked several people what they thought and I kept getting the same answer- tell your story. So that’s what I did.

I told the story of my life and how God’s grace was woven throughout it. Pretty much what I’ve written on here. I was amazed at the response and the conversations that I was able to have simply because I opened up.

And at some point it hit me- that’s something people crave: openness. We really have a desire to be honest and open with our struggles but so many things prevent that! Either from bad past experiences, fear of judgment or consequences, or simply a fear of being vulnerable to other people, we hide things that we are struggling with.

And yet this weekend, I found a wonderful group of ladies affected by my story and willing to open up to me. It takes one person sometimes to kick down the walls and find the common things we all struggle with. One person being honest for everyone else to be honest as well.

Through that simple honesty, I was able to share Christ. I didn’t open up any theological book for my devotions this weekend. I didn’t need to. I needed my Bible and my Backstory (like the alliteration there?) and it was simple and effective. Every believer has that. You don’t need a seminary degree to share the gospel with others. All you need is a willingness to be obedient and do it.

I’m glad I said yes this time. 🙂

 
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Posted by on March 11, 2019 in evangelism

 

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Pointing to the Cross

Well, happy 2019 folks! I’ve been seeing tons of posts about New Year’s Resolutions, year-end recaps, and goals for the next 365 days. It’s funny how one tick of the clock changes how people perceive the world and makes them want to live differently.

Speaking of which, I know you’ve all been waiting on the edge of your seats to hear my 2019 prayer request so I won’t keep you sitting there much longer. It’s a little…different.

I want to learn how to evangelize better. Maybe this sounds really weird to you. Here’s the thing. I think most people walk away from interactions with me thinking that I’m a really sweet, responsible girl and I HATE that. I want people to walk away from talking to me having heard about Christ. I want the smallest of conversations to point to him and his incredible work on the cross.

I’m not talking here about going on a huge mission trip or anything like that. I mean everyday life. I’m talking about my neighbors, the guy who owns the gas station down the street, my co-workers. These are people I encounter all the time and know that I’m a quote (emphasis on the quote) “good person” but have I actually shared the GOSPEL with them??

To be honest, sometimes I clam up. Either out of fear that I will sound preachy, superior, or unsympathetic, I don’t mention Christ when that’s really what I’m thinking. I’m tired of overthinking things and not letting what he has done flow out of me.

And here’s what I know: We are commanded to be ambassadors for Christ and to spread the gospel. (Matt. 28:18-20) But I was also thinking this week of the verse that says:

“Everyone to whom much was given, of him much will be required, and from him to whom they entrusted much, they will demand the more.”
Luke 12:48b

I think most times that verse is used in relation to money but as I thought about it I realized that the most precious thing I have been entrusted with is the gospel. How will I use what has been given to me?? I want to be like the faithful and wise steward. We don’t know when Christ is returning and I want to be burdened for those that don’t know him and make the most of the time I have.

That’s my heart’s cry for this year. I know practice will make it more natural. I’ve got some other things up my sleeve too. 🙂

I hope you have a wonderful New Year’s Day! Do you have anything specific you are praying for this year?

 
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Posted by on January 1, 2019 in evangelism

 

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The Contentment Prayer

Is there some kind of award for posting so much in December? Because there definitely should be. Pretty sure this is a record for me. I usually get so busy and posts go out the window. I guess I’ve just been inspired! (People who have been reading the December posts scoff…)

Anyway, if you have read this post or maybe this one…you know that I do something at the beginning of every year. I don’t really make New Years’ resolutions but I pray for a specific thing for God to teach me each year. And I pray for it all year long. Usually it’s an area of weakness that I know I have and I want to work on it through the year.

This year, I was praying for contentment. My life has changed a lot in the past couple years and I knew I wasn’t really happy with it. I felt restless in my walk with the Lord and what he wanted me to be doing with my life. And so on January 1st, I prayed. And I didn’t stop. I also did some studying on contentment and talked with mentors.

*sigh* I had grand plans for this post. I keep a pretty thorough journal and I wanted to go back through it and see how God has worked this year. There have been times when I was going through something and I would be frustrated and suddenly realize, “Oh my gosh! This is about contentment!” And my whole perspective would flip because I could SEE God teaching me. So I picked up my journal to read through it (which is something I never do.) Wanna know how far I made it? January 7th. Sometimes God’s lessons are hard, people. And even though I’m beyond grateful for them, it was painful to read back over it so soon.

I learned a lot about Paul this year. I wanted to know more about this guy who could be content in every circumstance (Phil. 4:11) so I studied him a lot. And one phrase continually stuck in my head. Paul says that he had learned to be content. I think I’ve come to realize that contentment isn’t what I thought it was. Contentment isn’t something you ARRIVE at, it’s a continual process of learning. Your situation changes and you learn to be content over and over again and the reason you (and I) can do that is because

Christ. Doesn’t. Change.

There it is. I’ve preached the gospel to myself more this year than any other and even though my life has drastically changed, funny thing, God hasn’t. He is still the same as he was three years ago, ten years ago, 2 thousand years ago. Knowing I can rely on that is a HUGE source of contentment.

I’m SO thankful for the way that God has answered my prayers this year. I do have mine for 2019 but you’ll have to wait for my next post to read about it. 🙂

 
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Posted by on December 29, 2018 in contentment

 

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