I Stand (Theologically) Corrected

My face fell as my pastor-husband gave me his honest feedback. I had been working on an article for close to a week, about a theological topic that I felt very passionate about as well as confident in my ability to teach. He corrected various aspects of the article and gently warned me about potentially biting off more than I could chew. I couldn’t blame him for speaking the truth—I had asked for his comments.

Deep down, however, I didn’t want to receive his correction; I wanted to be right.

Our Need for Correction

Why are we resistant to correction at times, especially in the arenas of biblical and theological truth? Unless we have prepared ourselves to receive it, it seems that correction is the enemy of our human pride and self-glory. But that’s exactly the issue—our pride blinds us to our faulty thinking and inability to know everything.

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Bind My Wandering Heart to Thee

I never thought I would be afraid of feeling good again.

For seven years, all I had known was physical pain, muscular weakness, and chronic fatigue. The daily battle against my flesh had become so regular that I almost forgot it was abnormal to feel what I felt. I hardly even noticed affliction anymore…until I began to feel better.

After one year of intense treatment for Lyme disease, my body has responded positively, and now I have days — even weeks — where I feel strong. Woah. The difference has been like night and day. I rejoice that I am able to exercise again, stay up until 9:00pm without feeling catatonic, and participate in activities that I could not enjoy one year ago.

Yet, I am afraid. I am afraid of forgetting.

I’m afraid of growing prideful in my newfound physical strength and somehow wandering from the Lord. I’m afraid of failing to grasp how much I need him, body and soul. I’m afraid that the faithfulness and works of my God, as seen so profoundly in this difficult season, will become seemingly less and less awesome as the days pass. I’m afraid that I will stray.

As hard as this time of physical affliction has been, the Lord has kept me dependent on his gospel in a unique way through it. Lyme disease has been my thorn in the flesh, to remind me that the all-surpassing power comes from God, that I am merely a jar of clay. He has used my very obvious weaknesses to bind me to himself.

And so I wonder, What will happen to me if I get better? Will I forget all that God has done? Will I forget how much I need him?

And so, I’m clinging to Paul’s words from 2 Corinthians 12:10:

For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

Here, Paul lists a number of circumstances that God uses to keep believers clinging to his Son, the supplier of true strength. In other words, there will always be something to keep us dependent on Jesus and aware of our need for him.

Yes, physical weakness is included within this list, but this list is certainly not limited to it.

What is making you especially aware of your need for Christ and his gospel right now? What might God be wanting to use to show you your need and bind you to himself?

Is it a physical affliction, disease, or injury? Is it gospel-opposition from unbelieving friends, family members, or coworkers? Is it outright persecution of your faith? It is financial trouble, the loss of a job, or the passing of a loved one? Is it a battle against a particular pattern of sin? Is it the destruction of your property, the receiving of bad news, or heartache from a prodigal child?

Because of the gospel of his Son, we know that our Father will never let us go. We know that his work within us will not be finished until the day he calls us home. Christ has secured this promise for us.

O to grace how great a debtor

Daily I’m constrained to be!

Let thy goodness like a fetter

Bind my wandering heart to thee

Prone to wander, Lord I feel it

Prone to leave the God I love

Here’s my heart, O take and seal it

Seal it for thy courts above

So we needn’t be afraid of running independent of him for long; for when we begin to, out of the pride of our flesh, we know that God will delight to call us back to himself. He will graciously remind us of our need for his strength, and the gospel of our salvation will bind our wandering hearts to his.

What is God using to bind your heart to his?

Forgiveness: A Marriage Best-Practice

Marriage is a covenantal partnership that involves two people, a husband and wife, working towards a common goal: to represent Christ and his people to the world.

Founded on and motivated by the gospel, marriage is set apart from other partnerships, like businesses or organizations. But a marriage is similar to these entities in that it is founded on a mission, forms plans around its mission, makes decisions according to its mission, and tackles obstacles using its mission as a guide and motivator.

So what is the mission of marriage according to the Bible?

“Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church. However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband. (Ephesians 5:31-33, emphasis mine)

Paul says that Christian marriage is a means of displaying the love of Jesus Christ for his church; marriages are on mission to be living, breathing illustrations of the beautiful gospel.

When Jesus came to earth as God-in-the-flesh, he gave up all of his divine rights, sacrificing his very life for the sake of his chosen people. He covered believers, once for all time, with his purity and holiness, bearing our sins and taking our deserved judgment in The Great Exchange of Calvary. He washed us clean and continually presents us to God as righteous and holy, as a husband and wife are to do for one another in the sanctifying ministry of marriage.

So if a marriage is motivated by a gospel-centered mission, just as a business is propelled by its mission statement, the pursuit of certain “best-practices” will propel a husband and wife towards this mission. One of these is forgiveness.

A “Best-Practice” Test

My husband and I came up against a test of marriage “best-practices” not long ago. Ready to enjoy a long vacation weekend at the lake, we arrived and spent our first couple of hours watching the sunset over the beach. The wind picked up as a storm rolled in and, as a result, a unwelcome fleck of sand flew across my left cornea, scratching it and leaving pain in its wake.

Not an ideal start, to say the least.

Instead of soaking up the beautiful evening as planned, we found ourselves waiting at the emergency room for two hours, surrounded by sick children, injured adults, and a medical staff who was in no hurry to help us. Needless to say, the tension, frustration, and disappointment tipped us both over the edge and, before we knew it, we had turned into two irritated people. After getting released from the emergency room, we went straight to bed, having agreed to work out the tension in the morning.

The next day, forgiveness was the name of the game, as we were both challenged to be faithful in the best-practices of our marriage, redirecting our gaze on our common mission and recognizing where we both had failed.

Forgiveness is not easy, but it is indeed best.

Three Reasons Why Forgiveness Is a “Best-Practice” for Marriage

Why is forgiveness a “best-practice” for Christian marriages?

Forgiveness is hard. The Bible often teaches that the hardest things in life are the most growth-producing, ordained by the hand of God for our good and his glory. So forgiveness offers broken human beings the opportunity to deny self and partake in a difficult act of love and mercy, one that runs against the grain of our fleshly desires.

In marriage, it can be tempting to swallow our frustrations and brush offenses under the proverbial rug because, well, ignoring the tension is easier than confronting it head-on in love, grace, and truth. However, in the long-run, the ignoring of tension and the belittling of sin only causes a bitter root to spring up and grow. This bitterness is destructive and unhelpful and only serves to cause division, which is exactly what the enemy of our marriages wants to see happen.

When forgiveness is hard (and it is hard), look to Jesus. The Son of God was so assured of his mission to save sinners that he was able to say at the hour of his murder, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”

So look to Jesus, find strength in the gospel, and then pursue forgiveness, even when it is hard.

Forgiveness is humbling. Admitting “I was wrong” is not a sign of weakness and bondage; it is a sign of character and humility, both of which lead to freedom from selfish ambition when founded on the gospel. The world tells us to stand our ground and demand our rights, but the gospel frees us to set aside our own interests in order to seek the best interest of the other person (Philippians 2), in the example of Christ. The “offended party” has an equal opportunity to practice gospel-humility in how they respond to their spouse’s confession: in grace and forgiveness.

So look to Jesus, find strength in the gospel, and then pursue forgiveness, even when it humbles you both.

Forgiveness is healing. Finally, forgiveness is a “best-practice” for marriage because it produces healing where a bitter root would threaten to spring up and wreak havoc. Since God, in Christ, reconciled the world to himself through the gospel, and since marriage is to picture the gospel, then the pursuit of reconciliation in marriage is key to freedom from discord and mutual spousal growth in grace.

A marriage in pursuit of healing through reconciliation demonstrates to the world that establishing peace is more important than being “right,” that forgiveness is better than keeping a record of wrongs. When the world asks, “How could you forgive your spouse like that?” see the beautiful opportunity to share the extent of God’s love for sinners in Christ.*

So look to Jesus, find strength in the gospel, and then pursue forgiveness, healing, and reconciliation.

In what area of your marriage do you need the “best-practice” of forgiveness today?

*If you are in a marriage where the offenses against you have been abusive in nature, seek out a pastor, elder, counselor, or trusted member of the body of Christ. Certain offenses are more serious than others and should be held to high accountability, especially if they are repeated offenses rooted in abuse.

[Post Credit: Unlocking the Bible]

Are You Lost Enough in Your Feeling for a Savior?

Men, for the most part, are not lost enough in their own feeling for a Savior. (Richard Sibbes)

It is possible to be blinded by what we believe is our own goodness. “I’m alright,” we think. “I gave my life to Christ a long time ago.” We misunderstand the dire nature of our weakness, our sinfulness, our desperation. We often do not see clearly how much we need the mercy and grace of Jesus Christ.

Are you keeping watch on yourself? Taking note of your own heart? Have you come to grips with your failures and understood your inherent tendency to serve self, work for self, promote self, and seek self? Or have you also thought, “I’m alright,” believing that sin must be some outwardly obvious act to be “sin”? Have you been blinded to your need for the mercy and grace of Jesus Christ?

Those who exalt themselves will be humbled, but the humble will be exalted, says Jesus in Luke’s Gospel; this is not the only place in the Bible where similar warnings are spoken to sinful men. Why the warnings? Because our sin nature either cries, “Me first! Look at me! Aren’t I wonderful?” or else, “I’m awful, undeserving of attention. Do not look at me. I cannot believe that Christ’s atonement is sufficient to cover my sin.”

Neither of these are attitudes are founded in the gospel of Christ.

The person who displays the first attitude forgets that Christ alone is perfect in splendor and holiness, the only one who wholly reflects the glory of the Father. He or she forgets that the whole point of the story of salvation as told throughout the Bible purposes to put on display the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. He or she forgets that apart from Christ they can do nothing, and they falsely believe that Jesus is merely a means to an end: a better life in eternity, a better life now, perhaps even a reason to stumble into sin because “grace abounds all the more.”

This person is greatly deceived and is not lost enough in their own feeling for a Savior.

The second person equally forgets that Christ alone perfect in splendor and holiness, the only one who wholly reflects the glory of the Father. He or she forgets that the atoning work of Christ upon the cross is indeed sufficient to save unworthy, rebellious, repentant sinners. He or she falsely believes that self-deprecation is the means to eventual glory…because doesn’t self-deprecation mean that I am humbly working my way to heaven?

This person is, ironically so, also greatly deceived and is not lost enough in their own feeling for a Savior.

In both cases, pride is present, but in different forms and degrees. The pride of the first says, “All of these wonderful, freely bestowed spiritual blessings and gifts must mean that I am doing exactly what God wants me to do. He must be so pleased with me!” The pride of the second says, “I cannot believe that any of these bestowed spiritual blessings and gifts are freely mine Christ, so I will continue to work for them. I will assert my own worthiness by continually asserting my own unworthiness!”

Both of these cases involve people greatly deceived, who are not lost enough in their own feeling for a Savior.

So what is it to be lost enough? What is it to know true humility, to be brought low, the kind of humility which Christ says he will exalt on the Last Day?

Sibbes says this about the genuinely humble sinner saved by grace, whom he calls a bruised reed:

A set measure of bruising of ourselves cannot be prescribed, but it must be so far as (1) that we may prize Christ above all, and see that a Saviour must be had; and (2) that we reform that which is amiss, though it be to the cutting off of our right hand, or pulling out of our right eye. (12, emphasis mine)

So, according to Sibbes, the genuinely humble believer: (1) Sees his or her need of salvation because of seeing clearly the great, saving glory of God in the gospel of Christ and; (2) Turns from those sins which would keep him or her from reflecting the great, saving glory of God in the gospel of Christ and drawing near to Christ, through the gospel, in tender fellowship.

As the Bible says, a broken and contrite heart the Lord God will not despise (Ps. 51:17).

Therefore, may we become broken and contrite people who are increasingly aware of how much we need the mercy and grace of God shown in Jesus Christ because we are soaking in the perfect, unmatched glory of the Son in the Bible.

May we become people who realize that it is only through divine humbling by the Spirit and faith in the Son’s saving work that we will eventually be exalted with Christ in the heavenly realms.

May we become people who run straight away to Christ our Advocate when we are convicted of sin because we trust that he has cast that sin and shame away, as far as the east is from the west, by bearing it himself, transferring to us his spotless record of righteousness instead.

May we find ourselves truly lost in our own feeling for a Savior.

…a bruised reed he will not break, and a faintly burning wick he will not quench; he will faithfully bring forth justice. (Is. 42:3)

The Inevitable Misery of Living for Yourself

By Colin Smith and Kristen Wetherell

One of the barriers that holds many people back from knowing, being filled with, and being controlled by the love of Christ is the idea that true happiness can only be found if I am free to live for myself.

Living for yourself is the default option for every person. This means that unless something happens to bring about a change. we end up living for ourselves. The Bible says this quite clearly: “All seek their own interests, not those of Jesus Christ” (Phil. 2:21).

I want you to see the absolute misery of this position.

Unhappy Boss

If you live for yourself, you make yourself both the boss and the servant. You put yourself on both sides of the ledger. You are the one who is served, and you are the one who does the serving. The demands you set are the demands you must meet. The experience of the person who lives for self is like “robbing Peter to pay Paul,” and you are always in conflict. 

If you live for yourself, you will be in the strange position of beating yourself up because you are unhappy. See if any of these profiles sound familiar…READ MORE

[Post Credit: The Gospel Coalition]

You Satisfy the Desire of Every Living Thing

Food sustains the human body. But food has its limits.

I’ve been made increasingly aware of this fact as of late. Last week, while battling a stomach sickness in a foreign country, food temporarily became my enemy. Something so basic to my survival and satisfaction was stripped away from me. It’s only when necessities are gone that you realize how necessary they were in the first place.

And it’s only when our bodily source of energy is depleted that we realize we must survive on something else entirely.

I’ve been memorizing Psalm 145 with my life group this semester. Interesting enough, the next section is all about sustenance – and it even mentions food. It tells us something important about an attribute of God on which we would all be wise to meditate:

14 The Lord upholds all who are falling
and raises up all who are bowed down.
15 The eyes of all look to you,
and you give them their food in due season.
16 You open your hand;
you satisfy the desire of every living thing.

David sings a solid truth about our Lord woven throughout these three verses: God is our Sustainer.

When I think about the blood that pulses through my veins, I realize the significance of the life-blood of Jesus Christ that is pulsing through the person who has put his or her faith in him. The one who is rooted in Christ – who is united to him once for all time – has the life of our Lord and Savior flowing into their own.  We read in Psalm 1 that the believer is like a tree:

He is like a tree
planted by streams of water
that yields its fruit in its season,
and its leaf does not wither.
In all that he does, he prospers.
The wicked are not so,
but are like chaff that the wind drives away.

The believer is nourished and sustained by the Bread of Life, Jesus himself:

“Man shall not live by bread alone,
but by every word that comes from the mouth of God” (Matthew 4:4).

So Christ is our very life. He is our Creator and our Sustainer, meaning that we never leave his grip. Meaning that we are utterly dependent on him for life and breath and everything. Meaning that only he can satisfy our deepest needs, desires and longings.

I’ve got to say, there is nothing quite like consuming that first real meal after a week of battling the enemy “food.” It satisfies the stomach, the taste buds, the whole body. It upholds the weak and provides needed nourishment for the dependent receiver.

Psalm 145 says that Christ sustains us all the more. The Lord upholds, raises up, is looked upon (depended upon) by every living thing, provides nourishment in his right timing, gives generously from his stores of riches, and satisfies the desires of every living thing.

And all this because the Creator and Sustainer suffered the exact opposite from the Father’s hand when he obediently became the propitiation for our sins on the cross. He lost his very life-blood so that those who believe could be sustained by his very same life, the life that resurrected from the grave and ascended to rule in power forever!

In what area of your life are you looking to be nourished and satisfied and sustained by something or someone other than Christ? In what areas is Jesus making it apparent that he alone can be your Bread of Life?

Though food offers us temporary sustenance and blood pumps through our veins for such a time as this, only our Sustainer’s stores of love and grace can nourish our souls for eternity.

Living in Pursuit of God’s Glory

Flame-grilled burgers and theology.

To say that those two components make up an ideal date night might sound surprising to some, and perhaps even lame to others. But for my fiancé and me, the dishing out of great food and the unfolding of even richer conversation about God often results in the perfect date night combo.

Nourish the body. Nourish the soul.

One of our more recent date night conversations revolved around the events of the believer’s salvation. I posed questions like, “If God chooses us – and we don’t choose Him – then how does faith come into play?” and, “What does it mean to say we have been saved by grace through faith?”

The enormity of such questions boggles my mind, making me realize that I will never have all the answers. By the end of our dining and discussion, I had concluded a paradoxically simple, yet complex, reality: God rules justly and lovingly over creation and does so to glorify Himself. He does whatever He pleases, and it is ultimately best for His children.

I consider God’s answer to Job’s many “why” questions, understandably posed after the faithful, godly man is afflicted on every side by Satan – and at the permission of God. God replies: “Who is this that darkens counsel by words without knowledge? Dress for action like a man; I will question you, and you make it known to me. Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? Tell me, if you have understanding. Who determined its measurements—surely you know!” (Job 38:2-5).

I wonder what Job’s posture must have been during God’s answer. Though we can only speculate what his body was doing, we are told his verbal response: “Then Job answered the Lord and said: “I know that you can do all things, and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted…Therefore I have uttered what I did not understand, things too wonderful for me, which I did not know…therefore I despise myself, and repent in dust and ashes.”

When we experience, see and read of God’s glory – whether we are reading our Bibles or talking about Him on date nights – our response should look like Job’s. We understand that we never deserved salvation, so we “repent in dust and ashes.”

But we also worship and rejoice that the great God who saved us has lovingly re-purposed our lives to pursue His glory for our ultimate joy!

Yet–

We often find ourselves consumed with the external cares of this world, investing our time, thoughts, and energy on selfish gain, vain conceit and worrying about the future. We spend our time and money focusing on temporary pleasures that will not last. We grasp at anything and everything to satisfy us and make us content. We deem man’s opinion so much more important than God’s.

We somehow make our own glory bigger, and the Creator’s glory smaller.

This inwardly-focused and self-glorifying perspective runs contrary to our new nature as Christians. It is not who we truly are in Christ! Paul writes of this identity reorientation and perspective shift in Colossians 3:

“If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.”

“Seek the things that are above, where Christ is” is a command for our ultimate good. When Christ is at the center of our focus, then God’s glory is what we pursue—and not the fleeting pleasures of the world, our unresolved problems, our unsettling circumstances, nor the unanswered questions we may have.

Why does God call us to pursue His glory? “…you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God” (v.3).  When Jesus defeated death on the cross, He broke the power of sin over our lives. We became a new creation when we trusted in Christ’s justifying work, and so we have died to our old selves. Our lives are freed from bondage to sin to now please God. He calls us to glorify Himself because our joy depends on it – and He loves us enough to give us what will bring us ultimate joy and satisfaction!

So practically speaking, what does it look like to pursue God’s glory? We can talk about the Lord’s glory over dinner-and-a-date all we want, but there is an active pursuit of it that must also take place. God’s Word is truth, providing us with the wisdom to live Christ-centered lives. Here are some thoughts on how we can daily pursue God’s glory:

12 Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, 13 bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. 14 And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. 15 And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful (Colossians 3).

Glorifying the Father means reflecting His character in love, thankfulness and peace. Our everyday interactions with people, as well as our response to circumstances, will reflect what we believe about God. Staying our minds on Christ and trusting His sacrifice for us allows the peace of God to dwell within us (Isaiah 26:3). An attitude of gratefulness focuses us on the One who provides and sustains, lifting us above our daily situations to bring glory to the Father.

So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others (Philippians 2).

Glorifying the Father means thinking of ourselves less and of others more. Jesus glorified the Father when He left His rightful place in heaven and descended to earth, to die a criminal’s death on a cross. Christ thought of us. We pursue the Lord’s glory when we trust that our worth is found in Him alone. Our approval in Christ frees us to love others without boundaries, while helping us rid of finding our worth in what we produce or attain.

38 Now as they went on their way, Jesus entered a village. And a woman named Martha welcomed him into her house. 39 And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to his teaching. 40 But Martha was distracted with much serving. And she went up to him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.” 41 But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, 42 but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her (Luke 10).

Glorifying the Father means choosing the good portion in Christ. How we invest our time and energy speaks volumes about what we find valuable. Jesus tells us that only one thing is truly necessary: Himself. Abiding in Christ – seeking to know Him better through the reading of the Word; in focused prayer; under sound preaching; within Christ-centered fellowship – is the cornerstone for a life in pursuit of glorifying God. The peace that reigns in our hearts will be related to the direction of our gaze.

Are you in pursuit of God’s glory? Whether you are feeling like Job as the storms of life rage around you; or you have just come to faith in Jesus Christ and you have a lot of questions; or you are in a season of blessing and abundance, God seeks to be glorified through your life by transforming you to Christlikeness and redirecting your gaze to His Son, Jesus Christ.

So whether over a meal with your beloved, or during a time of prayer, may God’s glory be pursued and magnified in your life!

[Post credit: Crosswalk]

Keys to Building Confidence

I sat on the edge of my bed and wept.

To this day, I recall so clearly the desperation I felt at that very moment. The moment when I realized that everything I had invested my life in was slipping like quicksand from my grip. And it was slipping without my permission.

If not for the Sovereign Lord, the darkness would have consumed me.

I was living in New York City at the time, testing the waters of show business and working three unsatisfying jobs to (barely) pay the rent. My family and friends lived thirteen long hours away. The marriage I thought I would enter after one year of dating turned out to be a heart-wrenching break up. And just when I thought circumstances could not get any worse, I started having excruciating pain in my left knee—a devastating injury to sustain while living in a walking city.

Lord, where are You? The tears rolled down my cheeks as I inquired of Him. The God of all creation, full of goodness, faithfulness and sovereignty, seemed so far away.

Yet, there was one thing I knew for certain: God was still with me. No, I could not see Him or sense Him. But I held on to the hope that knowing Christ had instilled in me: that I could go nowhere from His presence, His care, or His abundant grace even when I felt utterly, desperately weak and broken.

Somehow, in the most ironic way and despite everything falling apart, my confidence in God deepened.

You may be asking, “How is that possible?” If you do not yet know Jesus Christ, I am here to assure you—it is possible, indeed. It is more than possible, in fact, to have everything falling to pieces around you and yet still to rest in the security and strength of the Lord. However, the keys to building confidence cannot be sought and found in earthly solutions, remedies, religions and mantras—but only in realizing our weakness, trusting the Lord’s sole sufficiency, and finding our hope in Him.

KEY #1: Realize your desperate need for the Lord.

Psalm 62 is a beautiful prayer sung by King David, a weak, sinful man in desperate need of God’s strength. David states, “Those of low estate are but a breath; those of high estate are a delusion” (v.9). The first key to finding God-confidence is in realizing that we cannot find it within ourselves. We are but a breath. The world sends us the opposite message: “Be all you can be!” But as sinful beings, no amount of righteousness or strength or effort or beauty can attain the inner-satisfaction and perfection we so desire. We need a Savior.

KEY #2: Trust in the Sovereign Lord, who is solely sufficient for you.

Becoming a more confident woman is only possible by surrendering to the one perfect example, Jesus Christ. In admitting that we simply cannot find satisfaction or strength within ourselves, God gladly bestows righteousness and a secure identity upon us, in exchange for His Son’s very life.

Verses 1-2 read, “For God alone my soul waits in silence; from him comes my salvation. He only is my rock and my salvation, my fortress; I shall not be greatly shaken”.  David’s prayer above reminds us that there is only one solution to our innate need for satisfaction, acceptance and confidence: God alone. Notice how David uses the words “alone” and “only” to describe the satisfying character of the Lord. He is set apart. No human being can find even the slightest bit of security or strength apart from knowing Him. In Jesus Christ, God sent His Son to make this relationship possible, and by His redeeming blood our souls can be eternally satisfied.

KEY #3: Find your hope in Him.

“Put no trust in extortion; set no vain hopes on robbery; if riches increase, set not your heart on them” (v.10). Clearly, the world is not as it should be. The simple fact that it is impossible to predict tomorrow’s circumstances should confirm the obvious: our confidence cannot be found in the things of this world. We invest in relationships, expecting them to satisfy us, only to experience disappointment time and time again. We crave financial gain, plan our ten-year goals, and strive for achievement and recognition—no matter what the cost.

In and of themselves, money, relationships and successes are not sinful. It is the heart motive behind them that draws fallen people into sinful attitudes and allegiances. Above, David exhorts us never to put our trust in earthly gain. When we come to terms with our weaknesses and put our trust instead in God’s strength, we are found no longer in the world—we gain Christ! Turning from selfish ambition and worldly hopes to finding our hope in Christ is the only way to build true confidence that will last for eternity.

Lyricist Edward Mode wrote the words to this traditional hymn, which brilliantly expresses the keys to building confidence in Christ: My hope is built on nothing less / Than Jesus Christ, my righteousness / I dare not trust the sweetest frame / But wholly lean on Jesus’ name / On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand /All other ground is sinking sand.

May we build our hope on nothing less than Jesus Christ, finding our true confidence in Him!

[Post credit: iBelieve]

Submission Is Not Just for Married People

Submission is not just for married people.

I should know; I’m not married. But submission is most definitely for me. Submission is also for you.

When you hear the term “submission”, what comes to mind? Far from a comfortable topic, submission does not always garner the most supportive responses from people. Even Christ-followers hear the word and cringe because—let’s face it—submission has been misused and its purpose misunderstood. For many, the image that comes to mind is that of becoming a repressed doormat. In our minds, submission looks akin to slavery.

For a long time, I thought submission was limited to the context of marriage. Years ago, out of a desire to obey the Lord, I pursued a supposedly submissive attitude in a dating relationship—to my disappointment and confusion. The so-called “submission” that leaves a person disrespected, neglecting holiness, and being taken-advantage of is not submission at all. It is foolishness. At that point, I wondered if I would ever fully understand it. How could I get submission so wrong, when my intentions were so right?

A month ago, on flickered the lightbulb.

What a stunning realization it was for me. My pastor was teaching a large group of women from Titus, where Paul instructs young women to be “submissive to their own husbands” (2:5). Naturally, there was an intrigued, expectant silence in the air, as we women awaited his explanation of the controversial “submission” word. What we came away with left our hearts rejoicing.

Submission is not just for married people. Nor does submission find its origin in marriage.

Submission began with Christ, Himself.

How? Our Savior humbly and willingly obeyed the Father’s will, trusted Him fully, and went to the cross for our sins. Jesus submitted to God, “Not my will, but Yours be done,” and as a result, grace abounds. Through Christ’s submission, sin and death were defeated by His blood on the cross, and reconciliation with God was made possible for all who trust in Him.

Submission is all about following the example of Jesus Christ.

Submission is therefore not just for married people because all Christians are called to submit to Christ. Living in submission to Christ’s lordship means acknowledging that our lives are truly no longer our own, offering them up to God’s perfect purposes and will.

Submission says, “Yes, Lord, You are in control of my life, and I trust that Your grace is sufficient for me. I will therefore rest in my identity as Your adopted daughter and trust the work of the Spirit in my life. I will walk by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.”

Here’s the freeing truth about submission: The reason God commands our submission, both within marriage, the Body of Christ and to Himself, is because through it, His grace is fully manifested and His Son glorified. Submitting ourselves to God means trusting His purposed plan, His leading by the Holy Spirit, His Word, and His sanctifying work in us. What freedom there is in relinquishing control to our Sovereign God, whose grace is sufficient in our every weakness!

But what about submission in our other relationships? John Piper says that “submission is a wider Christian virtue for all of us to pursue, and it has its unique and fitting expressions in various relationships” (The Beautiful Faith of Fearless Submission).

Submission to others must begin firstly with submission to Christ. This means following the example of Christ through obedience to the Word of God. “Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another, and if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other…Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom” (1 Peter 3:12-13,16).

So submission in our Christian relationships looks like: grieving with the brokenhearted, forgiving another’s sin, humbly listening to correction, looking past insignificant quirks, speaking honestly about a situation, putting another’s interests before our own, choosing a teachable spirit, serving others, holding our fiery tongues, and in everything humbling ourselves for the sake of the gospel.

When we choose to submit to Christ, we revere and honor His Name. The scope of submission is so much deeper than we ever could have thought or imagined! Submission is not just for married people. For in submitting to Christ, we become like Him, to the praise of His glorious Name and for the sake of the gospel!

[Post credit: iBelieve]

The Cure for Spiritual Amnesia

“Don’t forget me!”

Every evening, my little sister would yell these three precious words to my mother, once the tuck-in routine was complete, the lights were off, and the bedroom door was closed. Her tiny voice would cry out in love and in need, and my mother would respond with a chuckle, “Oh, I couldn’t possibly!”

How we long to be remembered! It feels wonderful to receive a phone call from a distant friend, as she lovingly communicates how we had crossed her mind that day. Birthdays are full of celebratory remembrance of a person’s life, as the cards arrive through the mail and emanate, “You are not forgotten.” Laughable, nostalgic stories told around the dinner table by old friends cause us to recall details of days-gone-by, as we share, “I will never forget the time when you…”

The act of remembrance is equally integral to our faith walk. Put more precisely, forgetting our desperate need for the Lord—developing a case of spiritual amnesia—weakens our intimacy with Him and fuels a life that functions dangerously apart from Christ. The Christian’s dependence upon Christ is necessary to knowing Him deeply and being all-satisfied in Him; yet all too often we forget our desperate need, choosing instead cheap worldly substitutes and unreliable, idolatrous self-sufficiency.

The process can be a slow fade. In examining my heart a couple of months ago, I realized that my comfortable life circumstances combined with my pride had somehow been blinding me to how desperately I needed Christ. My passion for spending time at His feet had dulled. Thank the Lord above I had a “measuring stick” in the form of remembrance: the previous year of my life had been one of loneliness, poverty, physical distress and, ultimately, utter dependence upon the Lord.

I knew what it was to suffer. I knew what it was to cling to Christ for dear life. And I knew what it was to find Him all-sufficient for my every spiritual need.

What about you? Do you honestly believe that your life is nothing apart from Christ? Each day, are you seeking to remember the depth of God’s grace, as you cling to Him for dear life?

Or are you coasting? Have you forgotten? The slow fade to self-sufficiency, busyness and pride can creep up stealthily without us even noticing. Life gets comfortable, our need for Christ supposedly lessens as a result, and in sets spiritual amnesia. Our heart grows apathetic, as we go through the motions of our faith, instead of engaging in the life, death and resurrection of Christ by abiding in Him.

We need a cure, a reality check. And praise God, His Scripture is continuously faithful to give us wisdom and guidance in our time of need.

“I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit.Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me.” (John 15)

Realize your need. Ladies, think of the last time you went to the doctor when you were ill. You clearly would not have put forth the effort if you thought you were healthy. Your realization that your health had somehow failed you prompted your visit. Similarly, the Christian must realize that she can do nothing apart from Christ. Nothing. Before you trusted in Christ, your depravity was so great that it meant being forever separated from your Creator. Yet even now, as a believer reconciled to the Father, you can bear no lasting fruit apart from abiding (holding onto, keeping with) in Him. Though we have overcome sin and death, our victory is not complete until the day of Christ, so our need for the Savior stands as our reality each and every day.

Do you truly believe that your very life—from your salvation to your sanctification to your eventual glorification–depends solely on Christ?

Remember the Gospel. “Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you” (v.3). When Christ humbly submitted to His Father’s will, went obediently to the cross to absorb God’s wrath for our sake, and then rose to new life, He defeated the power of sin and death once for all time. An eternity with God was made possible by Christ’s shed blood and victorious resurrection. The person who places her faith in Christ is united to Him, takes part in His inheritance and is made into a new creation, holy and blameless in the sight of God.

Remembering what Jesus did for us—meditating on His perfect life, atoning death, and powerful resurrection—puts our lives in eternal perspective. Without Christ, we would be eternally lost—but because of Christ, our lives are purposed to glorify Him, our future is secure, and a living relationship with God is our reality!

How does remembering the Gospel point you to your need for Christ?

Repent of sin. What are the cheap substitutes that threaten to dull your desperate need for Christ? What are the attitudes of the heart that cause you to turn away from Him? Is there anything getting in the way of you spending time at the feet of Christ?

Yes, Christ has made the believer clean by His perfect record; but until we reach eternity, our struggle with sin continues. Staying connected to the Father involves a constant practice of confession and repentance, as we seek first to recognize our sin and then to turn from it. Ask the Lord to search your thoughts and attitudes for pride, to help you recognize idols, and to strengthen you to lay aside sinful patterns and return to the cross. Only by His power are we able to recognize our sin, confess in humility, and repent, knowing full-well that His grace abounds in our weakness.

Remain in Christ. Abide in me, and I in you” (v.4). What’s the final truth to the cure for spiritual amnesia? Stay in Christ. Read the Word daily. Persevere in prayer. Obey His commands as a response to His loving kindness. Fellowship with others believers. Boldly proclaim the Gospel. If you are united to Christ, being a partaker of His very life, then certainly your life cannot function apart from Him.

May the eyes of our hearts be enlightened by the Holy Spirit to know more deeply each day the love of Christ, as we praise Him for the cross and cling to Him in our desperate need!

[Post credit: iBelieve]