Saturday, May 30, 2009

Which is it?

"If you're afraid of me, you will keep my commandments".

"If you try hard enough, you will keep my commandments".

"If you love me, you will keep my commandments".

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Last night I left for the Bank of America that is just up the road from where I live.

As I was coming up into town, I saw a lot of flashing lights from a firetruck, some cop cars, and ambulances. As I drove past, I saw that a small car had gotten t-boned by an SUV. The whole side of the car was crushed in. I knew someone was seriously hurt or even killed.

Waking up this morning, I found out that the driver was a woman and she was killed in the accident.

When you witness something yourself, for some reason it makes it real. When I see things broadcast on television from overseas or even in another county, the reality of it doesn't have it's full effect on me. I see it and understand it, but it doesn't impact my emotions. Sorry to sound like that, but it's true.

I used to try and muster up feelings of emotion for things I saw on the news since I felt a Christian should be emotionally stirred by everything sorrowful, and if not, I felt guilty that I didn't.

The lesson? I am not the Savior.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Strawberry Ice-cream

Another great post from Dan and Becca: Strawberry Ice-cream

How Beautiful and Pleasant You are, O Loved One

I think we, as the Church of Jesus Christ ought not get so bent out of shape when others (especially unbelievers) judge us and ridicule us for our behavior.

I hear a lot about what is wrong with the Church today and I've even said things myself.

So what is wrong with the Church today? Nothing. It's a spotless bride. Jesus Christ has adorned her with his own righteousness. Her only problem is that she doesn't fully understand that fact.

"I am very dark, but lovely."

"Behold, you are beautiful, my love, behold you are beautiful!"

Saturday, May 23, 2009

A MUST Read!

Becky, over at her blog Propitiation has written two wonderful posts on her journey to discovering the grace of God. She is such a great writer and I know you will love it. Not to mention be encouraged!

Becky and Dan were the first ever to comment on my blog when I was going through a dark time of deep introspection. I think that the comment they left gave me the final nudge I needed to leap into Grace.

Take a gander!!:


My Story - continued

Friday, May 22, 2009

Wreckless Grace

Listening to another Andrew Farley sermon, he mentioned something that made me laugh.
It made me laugh is because I have seen it myself and it has frustrated me, but I have never taken the time to write about it or talk about it with anyone else.

The majority of modern American Churches like to describe the grace of God as being free to dress casually on Sunday mornings, play contemporary Christian music, wear earrings and have a beer while watching football.

I think this gives people a very meager understanding of grace and freedom.

The grace of God is the insane belief that we no longer need to evaluate our performance. We no longer need to examine ourselves, our works or our motives. We can worship God without first examining ourselves. Just discern the body of Jesus Christ broken for you. His Blood was spilled for you, child of God.

We are freely loved by God because Jesus Christ himself merited it for us. He performed in our stead and He gave us the right the become children of God. God has lavished his grace on us through Jesus, his Son. We don't need to do anything but rest from our works as He did from his. Your "work" is just to believe; to rest.

"Strive to enter into that rest."

We are absolutely free from the law of God, and that includes the big 10. Jesus fulfilled it. He performed, he merited, he earned, he saved. You rest and do nothing but believe. Take a load off and enjoy this great salvation.

I am free to worship God without ever evaluating how good I'm behaving. We're free from looking at ourselves!

"Blessed riddance" indeed!

This is what you heard at the beginning. All I'm doing is reaffirming what you heard from the beginning because this Gospel is by faith from first to last. You do not mature into works, but you grow in grace.

"And he (Paul) urged them to continue in the grace of God"

Erna - Motivation is Everything

I wanted to link everyone to a few of Erna's blog posts called "Motivation is Everything".

These two posts were very enlightening and very encouraging to me and I'm sure they will be to you too.


Motivation is Everything - Part 1

Motivation is Everything - Part 2

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

More Grace!

Erna just added me on Facebook, and I dropped by her blog to read a few posts.

For a preview, here is a brilliant quote I just read from her blog:

"A person who truly knows God's love as demonstrated by his grace is more obedient by accident than they ever were on purpose. You know what I’m saying?"


Remember what Jesus said his sheep will answer him at the separation of the sheep and goats? The righteous answered: "Lord, when did we...?"

They were not conscious of their works. They were only Jesus conscious.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Metallica - Disposable Heroes

I used to think all the negativity in a song was evil. But I don't know if that is right. Looking through Psalms, I see the Spirit of Jesus Christ singing a lot about his own sufferings.

That being said, I think James Hetfield from Metallica hates legalism about as much as Paul did.

Bodies fill the fields I see, hungry heroes end
No one to play soldier now, no one to pretend
Running blind through killing fields, bred to kill them all
Victim of what said should be
A servant 'til I fall

Soldier boy, made of clay
Now an empty shell
Twenty one, only son
but he served us well
Bred to kill, not to care
Do just as we say
Finished here, Greeting Death
He's yours to take away

Back to the front
You will do what I say, when I say
Back to the front
You will die when I say, you must die
Back to the front
You coward
You servant
You blind man

Barking of machine-gun fire, does nothing to me now
Sounding of the clock that ticks, get used to it somehow
More a man, more stripes you wear, glory seeker trends
Bodies fill the fields I see
The slaughter never ends

Making your Calling and Election Sure

"Be all the more diligent to make your calling and election sure". - 2 Peter 1:10

I used to see this as Peter telling me to find assurance that I was saved through my performance. But recently after reading the verse above, I read something in Hebrews that says the opposite.

"And we desire each one of you to show the same earnestness to have the full assurance until the end, so that you may not be sluggish, but imitators of those who through faith and patience inherit the promises."

So here we see the author of Hebrews is urging us to have full assurance of our complete salvation in Jesus Christ so that we may act like who we are in him. We must first be sure of who we are in him before we can begin to behave as someone who is in him.

How can I love if I am not sure that I am loved? How can I love if I don't know that his love is really inside me? How can I have faith if I am first to prove that I have faith? What a never ending cycle of self-evaluation! One day I perform well (in my own eyes) and the next I am sulking in failure and guilt!

We need a sure foundation! And that foundation is Christ alone!

So Peter is urging us to make our calling and election sure so that we may practice the qualities he mentions in 2 Peter 1:5-8. I believe he is also urging us to have these qualities for the sake of conscience. When my conscience is yelling at me, I feel guilty. And I don't like feeling guilty.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Concerning 'Balance'

"No one tears a piece from a new garment and puts it on an old garment. If he does, he will tear the new, and the piece from the new will not match the old."

"99% grace is law." - Andrew Farley

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Performance Based Acceptance Synchroblog

I procrastinated until today to write my synchroblog! After all, we only have grace for today, right? ;)

I had a total change in my perception of God in the Spring of 2006, then, after searching for answers, I finally came to understand what Jesus actually did on the Cross. Was I a genuine Christian or not? I cannot honestly say. I can only say that I know now that I believe.

I spent about a year with a very misty understanding of my salvation, my righteousness in Christ, and how God actually viewed me. I understood the Gospel in theory, but I denied it by my actions and constant self-evaluation.

VERY early on as a professing Christian, with a great hunger for God, I began to question my sincerity and my salvation. Immediately I began seeking counsel from books and other Christians to get reassurance that I did not have to do anything but trust in Jesus' finished work. But every time I sought for assurance I usually got the advice that basically said, "Yes it's grace, BUT".

But, but, but. You know works are evidence, don't you? You gotta have works too!

Most Christians always feel the need to weed out the lazy beggars by emphasizing works. Seems like we only mention grace because we have to. I think if it were up to us, the gospel we would present to people would be: "Quit sinning, you lazy bum!"

Everywhere I went, it seemed there was no pure grace. No one could show me pure grace from the Bible. Every piece of advice I got was uncertain. No one ever told me to just trust in Jesus, without adding another sentence to that. I don't give a damn which way you slice it, what I always got was this false teaching called 'balance'. Apparently I just needed a balance. And I was my worst teacher.

This 'balance' idea that taught me to have one foot under law and one foot under grace never made any sense to me. But I figured it was true, because after all, didn't God go through all that trouble of saving me? Now I really need to buckle down and get to work.

This very inconspicuous, good sounding doctrine of 'balance' caused me to go into a world of deep, morbid introspection. I was forced to evaluate my works all the time. I was a double minded person, unstable in all my ways. I wanted to believe, but I couldn't. I tried to have faith, but the 'balance' of performance mixed in with God's grace nullified the faith in my heart. Sure, I understood the Gospel, but did I believe it? Did I really entrust myself to Jesus alone? No! I couldn't! I still had one foot under the law, just in case this grace business went sour and God expected a little tip from me for all his work.

I incessantly evaluated my faith and my performance. And of course I saw no faith in myself because I was still under performance and of course my performance wasn't good enough!

I was a cat chasing my tail.

There was a point in time when I seriously thought I might go insane. I had never before understood how someone's mind could crack, but during all of this introspection, caused by a little 'balance', I was led into a constant evaluation of self. I really thought my mind would soon break. I just didn't understand how anyone could pull this Christian thing off! I couldn't remain faithful in washing my dishes, let alone loving my neighbor as myself! And loving my enemy? I couldn't even stop being irritable with my own mother!

Something wasn't right. I was missing something. But what?

I would toss and turn all night long, grinding my teeth, wondering whether or not God really accepted me; wondering whether or not I had what it took to make it to the finish line on this "narrow way" that felt a lot more like a tight rope.

My Christianity was so uncertain. It was grace, but it wasn't. It was uncondtional love, but it was conditional. It was law, but it was also grace. It was merited favor, but it was unmerited favor.

Then one day I read the words from Jesus that said, "Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a child will not enter it." I had read this verse before, but this time something stirred in my heart.

It was faith.

To sum it up, I said in my heart, "If I go to hell trusting in Jesus' Gospel alone, then I go to hell." And I dared to believe Jesus loved me. I finally got crazy enough to do it! I gave up evaluating myself so that I could evaluate Jesus.

Not that I am perfect in this, but I make every effort to enter that rest.

There really is no secret, I don't think. You never come to a point when you understand every verse in the Bible and then believe the Gospel. I had to give up trying to understand every Scripture before I could understand it. The Scripture says, "When one turns to the Lord, the veil is removed."

You must first turn to the Lord in order for the veil to be removed. He wants you to be crazy enough to actually believe him.

"Blessed are those who have not seen, yet have believed."

Thursday, May 7, 2009


Welcome to where time stands still
No one leaves and no one will
Moon is full, never seems to change
Just labeled mentally deranged
Dream the same thing every night
I see our freedom in my sight
No locked doors, no windows barred
No things to make my brain seem scarred

Sleep, my friend, and you will see
That dream is my reality
They keep me locked up in this cage
Can't they see it's why my brain says “rage”

Sanitarium, leave me be
Sanitarium, just leave me alone

Build my fear of what's out there
Cannot breathe the open air
Whisper things into my brain
Assuring me that I'm insane
They think our heads are in their hands
But violent use brings violent plans
Keep him tied, it makes him well
He's getting better, can't you tell?

No more can they keep us in
Listen, damn it, we will win
They see it right, they see it well
But they think this saves us from our hell

Sanitarium, leave me be
Sanitarium, just leave me alone

Just leave me alone

Fear of living on
Natives getting restless now
Mutiny in the air
Got some death to do
Mirror stares back hard
kill is such a friendly word
seems the only way
for reaching out again

- Metallica

Wednesday, May 6, 2009


Maybe that's what Paul went through when he went into Arabia for 3 years without consulting with even the apostles or anyone for that matter. I think he might have needed a detox of all those years he had the Old Covenant pounded into his thinking. He needed a radical change of mind, theology and paradigm.

He wanted to learn this truth from God himself and not man. He needed truth, not man's opinion or man's ideas. After all, it was going to take God himself to change this Saul into a Paul.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

For the Glory of the Risen King

Lately I'm thinking that maybe being labeled a "Grace Pharisee" isn't that bad after all.

I'm not saying to jump down everyone's throat every time someone says something that doesn't seem to agree. I'm saying that being zealous for the grace of God, and speaking out against legalism and offending people isn't wrong. This is an area I really want to excel in! I don't want to allow those who are offended by my preaching of the Gospel cause me to feel guilty. The guilty ones are those who willingly reject Good News from God. They are, "sinning willfully after receiving the knowledge of the truth."

There is no excuse for refusing something that you cannot earn.

In my previous post, I put up a quote from Andrew Farley, taken from one of his online sermons. If anyone missed the point, Andrew was speaking of the Gospel, making the point that Paul was zealous for the Gospel and would in no way, allow people to add just a little bit of law to this Message he had received from God. He was more than willing to split hairs when it came to defending the Gospel! In fact, he said anyone who wanted to "balance" this message with the law could go to hell. They are unsettling the minds of the ones for whom Jesus died.

His precious, but sometimes naive sheep.

He wanted people to understand God's grace in all it's glorious truth, because if they didn't, they would not experience God's power since it is only through the abundance of grace and free gift of righteousness that we are able to reign.

Without grace, we are rendered powerless. We become again hollow shells, empty of Life. We cannot receive his grace through the law. It is only through Jesus that we can receive anything.

"A man cannot receive one thing unless it is given to him from above."

Again, Jesus is the hero of this story.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Narrow Minded

"In American Christianity, we're learning to tolerate and balance. We don't want to offend people, we don't want to tell them that they're wrong. We want to accept and embrace many ideas, not quarrel or debate. And yet...Most of the New Testament, look what it's doing - it's debating. Most of the New Testament is challenging. Most of the New Testament is splitting theological hairs."

- Andrew Farley

Friday, May 1, 2009

Christian Masochism

Christians can go through the same hard times that unbelievers go through. In fact, sometimes we have it worse than the unbelievers in this life.

Our brothers and sisters early on in the Church of Christ experienced horrible things. They were beaten by the religious and thrown to the lions by the pagans. Our brothers have been persecuted, tortured and killed. In some parts of the world, this still happens.

I am very thankful for the freedom we still have in this country to follow Jesus without the fear of being tortured or martyred.

But I am concerned about some Christian's (including my own) desire to be persecuted for their faith in Christ. This is something I would constantly mull over before I surrendered to the grace of God. I would evaluate myself, my sincerity and my sins and believe that if only I could endure persecution, I would prove myself to be genuine. Then I would finally be free from the love of this world.

But something struck me - The early Church I read about in Acts didn't want to be persecuted and killed. They were so paranoid about Paul, they wouldn't let him around them after his conversion for fear that he was trying to trick them. They didn't enjoy being persecuted! They didn't go looking for it. It came to them.

In fact, Paul criticizes people who are into masochism and asceticism. He says they appear very spiritual with their self-made religion and harsh treatment of the body, but none of it has the ability to restrain the desires of the flesh.

The early Church didn't seek pain, it naturally came to them. They didn't evaluate themselves. They didn't evaluate their faith. They evaluated Jesus. They evaluated what he had done for them. They mulled over the wonderful truth that their sins were forgiven and that death and pain were nothing to be feared any longer. They understood that death is just a step through the veil where they would finally see clearly the face of their Creator.

They didn't look at pain or death. They looked to what lay ahead.