Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Facing Our Own Sinfulness

How many times have you worried more about others' sins than you are concerned for your own? This is a question I've asked myself recently, and I am beginning to realize that it's been a huge hindrance in my Christian life.

In her book Holiness, Nancy Leigh DeMoss (she wrote Lies Young Women Believe and the Truth That Sets Them Free) addresses this issue with her story of facing her own sinfulness rather than constantly focusing on others' sins. It's a long excerpt, but I promise it's well worth your time:

Growing up as I did in the evangelical world, trained to "live right," and immersed in Bible study, church, and Christian friends and activities, one of my greatest personal struggles has been to see myself as a sinner and to see my sin as truly detestable.

I can attest that when we cease to sense the seriousness of our sin, we also cease to be moved by the wonder of Christ's sacrifice on the cross for sin. Our hearts get dry and crusty - we know that, we've heard that, ho-hum, same-old, so what? We'd never say those words, of course - but truth be told, I know all too well what it's like to hear one more sermon about God's amazing grace, sing one more song about the wondrous cross, go through one more Communion service...and be strangely unstirred by the whole thing.

As I have worked on this book, the Lord has graciously given me a greater sense of the sinfulness of my sin. I recall one particular evening when I was struck with the image of my sin as spiritual adultery against God; I was overcome with what it cost Him to forgive sins I had committed so casually and hadn't seen to be a "big deal." In the light of His holy presence, sins I had minimized or thought I could "manage" seemed monstrous. I was faced with my depraved heart in a way I had not seen it for far too long.

In that moment, God granted me the gift of brokenness and repentance; I began to sob, feeling myself to be a sinner desperately in need of God's mercy...

As I reflected on that tender time of contrition and confession, I had an overwhelming sense of gratitude and wonder - I could hardly believe that He would be so merciful to me. I also had to admit that, though I could think of occasions when I had wept over the sins of others, I could not remember the last time I had wept over my sin.

I'm not suggesting that God intends for His children to live under the weight of sin that has been confessed, or that we should seek gut-wrenching, emotional experiences. But I am convinced that periodically every believer needs to be given a fresh glimpse of the corruption of in-dwelling sin, apart from which the mercy, the grace, and the cross of Christ cease to be precious in our eyes.

I believe this is very common within the church today. There are many "hard and crusty" hearts that are lifted up in self-righteousness, myself included. My beautiful sisters in Christ, may we never become so hardened to our own sin that we become ineffective in ministering to others and spreading the gospel of Christ!

"Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men's bones, and of all uncleanness. Even so ye also outwardly appear righteous unto men, but within ye are full of hypocrisy and iniquity."

- Matthew 23:27-28

"Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me. Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation; and uphold me with thy free spirit. Then will I teach transgressors thy ways; and sinners shall be converted unto thee."

- Psalm 51: 10, 12-13

In Christian Love,

Monday, December 6, 2010

Little Things

"This song is dedicated to every kid who got picked last in gym every kid who never had a date to no school everyone who's ever been called a freak. THIS IS FOR YOU!"

This is the opening to a song by Good Charlotte that was very popular when I was a teenager. It really hit home with a lot of kids because how many of us felt this way? Like a reject or a loser? I know I sure did. That song came back to me this evening and I thought about the intro and how that can apply to us as Christians too. Christ calls out to all of us who have ever felt like trash, those of us who aren't anything special and don't know where to turn with all of the pain and ugliness that comes at us in the world. I think of Him on the cross with His arms outstretched, in agony and pain, and He could be looking right at me, saying, "THIS IS FOR YOU!!" Because it truly was. So instead of continuing in that self-pity and feeling like a loser and a reject, let's look at what words of truth Christ left with us.

Eph 2:19-22 Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God; And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone; In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord: In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit.

1Pe 2:9-10 But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light: Which in time past were not a people, but are now the people of God: which had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy.

1Pe 2:24-25 Who his own self (the SON OF GOD!) bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed. For ye were as sheep going astray; but are now returned unto the Shepherd and Bishop of your souls.

Psa 139:14 I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well.

So, to any of you out there who were picked last in gym class; to those of you who never had a date; to those of you who were ever called a freak, or ugly or stupid or worthless...THIS IS FOR YOU, so listen up!

1. God made you and He doesn't make mistakes. "marvellous are thy works"

2. God thought that your worth was so much that he sacrificed his only Son, king of the whole world, so that you might have eternal life with Him. "By whose stripes ye were healed"

3. God has chosed you to take on His name and show His glory to the world. "ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood..."

4. AND God has made you part of an eternal family built on faith "ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints"

That is the truth of what Christ has done for you and for me!

Friday, October 1, 2010

The "Good Girl" Syndrome

As most of you are probably aware, I am somewhat of a nerd and I really love words. The definition for stagnant is very interesting to me. In Merriam Webster's Dictionary, there are three:

1. not flowing in a current or stream

2. stale

3. not advancing or developing

From this definition, it would seem logical to deduce that if we are not advancing or developing, then we are equal to the nasty, filth-infested water that we sometimes see in an old cow pond or other similar source where there is no "current or stream".

James 4:17

"Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin."

We all know the parable of the talents and the fate of the one talent man who buried his talent in the dirt to return to his master in the same condition he received it. This was not pleasing to the master. Now this servant didn't do anything BAD with the talent; he didn't steal it or use it for evil enterprises. He simply did nothing. And that was sin.

If I want to please God, therefore, I cannot simply be a "good girl" by the standards of the world. Keep myself away from the bad guys and live in my little bubble of goodness. James has some more wisdom for us in 1:27, when he says that yes, "Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is keep himself unspotted from the world." Oh but BEFORE that phrase about being unspotted is "to visit the fatherless and the widows in their affliction". My job as a Christian is not simply to refrain from doing bad things. It is also, to DO GOOD THINGS, to be like that current that continues to advance and develop, so that God might be praised and the gospel might be furthered. Today the world tries to tell us that we need to do what feels good and natural, and not to push ourselves in ways that make us uncomfortable. This is not what God says!

Philippians 3:13-14

"Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus."

Thursday, September 2, 2010

"The Vocation Wherewith Ye Are Called"

We have all probably read the first two verses of Ephesians 4 many times. It is something that has been on my mind a lot lately, so I thought that I would share some of my studies on what my vocation is.

Ephesians 4:1-2
"I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called, with all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love"

It is apparent how we are to walk in our "vocations": worthily, humbly, meekly, patiently, lovingly. But WHAT IS MY VOCATION? There are so many opinions out there in the world coming at us from all sides as young people, telling us who we need to be in order to matter in the world, and what sort of vocation (aka paying job) we should pursue in order to be "successful". So, what is the truth? What does God say about a Christian's vocation?

First, I want to take a step backwards and look at the meaning of the word. According to the Greek definition in Strongs (#2821:klesis), vocation means "calling, station in life". Vines Dictionary expands this a little further to state, "to be called by a name or to bear a name. Thus it suggests either vocation or destination". If our vocation is our calling from God and also the name that we bear, this indicates to me that our true "vocation" has very little to do with how we earn our living and everything to do with how we wear the name of Christian. Do we walk worthy of that name?

1 Corinthians 1:26-29
"For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called: But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are: That no flesh should glory in his presence."

If we choose to walk in the vocation that God has chosen for us instead of the one the world would choose, there will be so many times that people will try to make us feel foolish, weak, base and despised. But good news: that's the type of person God usually calls, so that means we're probably on the right track! There is no reason to be ashamed of this, but remember that, like Paul, we must "press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus" (Phil 3:14). There is NO higher calling than that of a servant of Christ!

I know you've already read a lot about contentment on our blog here, but I think it's interesting to note another verse that addresses our calling in Christ and how we shouldn't be envious of another's calling or resent our station in life.

1 Corinthians 7:17
"But as God hath distributed to every man, as the Lord hath called every one, so let him walk. And so ordain I in all churches."

We are all given certain gifts and talents from God that are to be used to glorify Him through our lives. Even if you feel as if you do not have anything special to offer, look at these verses! "God hath distributed to EVERY man"...."God hath chosen the weak things of the world". It doesn't matter if we amount to anything in the world's eyes, because God does not look at us like man does. He's not impressed with how much money is in our bank account, what kind of car we drive or how powerful of a crowd we hang out with, what matters to Him is that we walk worthy of our TRUE vocation and bring Him glory by being the true definition of a Christian: Christ-like.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Covetousness vs. Contentment

I have been thinking a lot about covetousness lately and the sneaky way it can creep into our lives without our realizing it. We recently heard a lesson at Highway on "Our Conversation", and this verse really jumped out at me:

Hebrews 13:5

"Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee."

It's amazing how often I catch myself being guilty of covetousness, and for years I didn't even realize that it was a problem for me! I thought that covetousness was being envious of other people's things and having a hateful, jealous attitude. But when I took a closer look at the Word, I noticed that right after the admonition to be without covetousness is the added command to be content with such things as I have. Uh-oh. How often have I been guilty of complaining about my job, my apartment, my clothes, my bank account. I thought it was ok because I wasn't begrudging anybody else's possessions; I just wanted a few nicer things of my own. But a truly focused Christian is content with the things that they have. Why? Because God has promised that he will never leave us or forsake us, and ultimately, that is all any of us really need.

The Greek word in Hebrews 13:5 is aphilargyros and is defined in Strong's concordance as "not loving money, not greedy". We also know from 1 Timothy 6:10 that "the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows."

So, if my way of life is supposed to be without love of money and not greedy, then how can I justify a lifestyle of buying new clothes for every season, having 14 pairs of shoes in my closet, and planning a future around career goals instead of spiritual goals? Can I look myself straight on in the mirror and honestly say that my lifestyle is without greediness?

Tuesday, July 27, 2010


What are some pitfalls that we face as single women that distract us from serving God?

1. Idolizing marriage and focusing on snagging a husband rather than serving the Lord.
"If your focus is on getting married, if that is your ultimate goal and priority and it doesn't happen, then it is very hard to avoid bitterness and unhappiness and despair even. But if your focus is on glorifying God and building up His church and seeing the gospel advanced-and those are big phrases, and they are big concepts, and they're hard to break down. But on a day to day basis, the Lord brings people across your path who need to be encouraged and served and loved. When your focus is there, then the desire for being married is diminished just a little bit because you're finding fulfillment in God's purpose and these other relationships.

So by seeking to give your life away to glorify God and benefit others, it does make it easier to live with a hope deferred. I'm not saying that you'll ever get to that point of saying, "I don't want to be married."

2. Looking at men in the wrong way. (i.e. always as a potential husband rather than a brother in Christ.)

"Never picture yourself under any circumstances under which you are not." (aka DATING IN YOUR MIND!!! - We've all done it!)

Philippians 4:8 "Finally brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virture and if there be any praise, think on these things."

3. Focusing so much on finding a potential husband that we fail to form other valuable relationships and reach out to our fellow Christians.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

The Virtuous Woman- All the Days of Her Life

1 Peter 3:3-4
"Whose adorning let it not be that outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel: But let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price."

Proverbs 31:10
"Who can find a virtuous woman? for her price is far above rubies."

As we see from the passages above, God has a very high calling for women to walk in a godly and virtuous way. It is also clear from these readings that it is difficult to find this kind of woman. These are habits that will take a lifetime to perfect, so let's be diligent to begin now on the journey to become the kind of woman who is of great price in the sight of God!

One thing that we've discussed in some of our previous blogs, as well as in our study at the camp meeting, is how it is mentioned in Proverbs 31 that this woman will do her husband good "all the days of her life." This just emphasizes the point that a true virtuous woman is a woman who strives to serve God and please Him all throughout her life. We shouldn't wait to think of becoming a virtuous woman until we become a wife, we should strive for a life of virtue right away! Solomon shares with us in this chapter that these are things he was taught by his mother. So this is the description of womanhood that she wished to imprint on his young mind as he searched for a wife to help him. Doesn't it make sense then, that in order to find the right kind of Christian man, we should first BE the kind of virtuous woman that would attract his attention? Don't wait to be the kind of woman you should be until you have a man to please; be a virtuous woman NOW for the glory of God. He knows what we need and He will ensure that everything else will fall into place as it should!

Matthew 6:33
"But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteouness; and all these things shall be added unto you."