Posted in theology

Living the Beatitude Life

By Elizabeth Prata

The road to sanctification may be long, it may curve, it may be hilly, we may not be able to see ahead, but it brings us to righteousness.
EPrata photo

I am reading through my Bible Reading plan and yesterday I got to Matthew 5-6-7, the Beatitudes and Similitudes. All I can say is “wow”.

If I was a false Christian or an undiscerning newbie, I would definitely like to hear from Jesus directly, assuring me that I am progressing on my walk. Who wouldn’t want a personal “Walk to Emmaus” like those two had after the crucifixion? (Luke 24:13-27). But I am not a newbie and the Spirit by His grace delivers discernment. So, I have not heard lately from Jesus and I have no direct assurance that I’m progressing.

Except! Do you know how we can detect progress in sanctification? (which everyone should be concerned about, it’s a prevalent theme – 2 Corinthians 13:5, 1 Corinthians 11:28, Hebrews 2:1, Lamentations 3:40). By our response to the Scriptures.

Continue reading “Living the Beatitude Life”
Posted in glorification, sanctification

In through the door of justification, out the door of glorification. What’s in between?

By Elizabeth Prata

We enter the door to the Kingdom over the threshold of “Justification.” Justification is-

“…to justify is to declare righteous, to make one right with God. Justification is God’s declaring those who receive Christ to be righteous, based on Christ’s righteousness being imputed to the accounts of those who receive Christ (2 Corinthians 5:21).

Continue reading “In through the door of justification, out the door of glorification. What’s in between?”

Posted in theology, word of the week

Word of the week: Sanctification

The thread of Christianity depends on a unity from one generation to the next of mutual understanding of our important words. Hence the Word of the Week.


Justification is the moment that God declares us not guilty and imputes His righteousness to our account. It takes but a moment. It only takes as long as it takes the Judge to bang his gavel.

Sanctification takes the rest of our life on earth. Justification is a declaration, sanctification is a process.

Short version:

Literally refers to the process of setting something apart for a sacred purpose. In Christian theology, it denotes a doctrine concerned with the gradual purification from sin in the life of the believer and a progressive spiritual growth toward Christlikeness. ~The Lexham Glossary of Theology.

Longer version:

SANCTIFICATION Refers broadly to the concept of being set apart as sacred. In Gen 2:3, God “sanctified” the seventh day, meaning He set it apart as sacred. In Leviticus, Yahweh tells the entire people of Israel to maintain being sanctified (Lev 11:44–45). This aspect of the concept of sanctification is closely related to holiness and biblical regulations for maintaining purity.

The New Testament similarly reflects the idea that followers of Christ have been sanctified or set apart as a result of Christ’s holiness (Acts 20:32; 26:18; 1 Cor 1:30; 2 Thess 2:13). This idea that Christians have been made holy before God through their faith in Christ is related to justification. In Christian theology, a distinction is sometimes made between justification and sanctification where justification refers to having saving faith and sanctification refers to the process of gradual purification from sin and progressive spiritual growth that should mark the life of the believer.

This doctrine of sanctification draws on New Testament passages that emphasize a move toward holy and righteous living that characterizes following Christ in faith (1 Thess 4:3–8; Rom 6:19–22).  ~The Lexham Bible Dictionary.

Bullet version, with verses:

1.      Is separation to the service of God. Ps 4:3; 2 Co 6:17.
2.      Effected by
a.      God. Eze 37:28; 1 Th 5:23; Jude 1:1.
b.      Christ. Heb 2:11; 13:12.
c.      The Holy Spirit. Ro 15:16; 1 Co 6:11.
3.      In Christ. 1 Co 1:2.
4.      Through the atonement of Christ. Heb 10:10; 13:12.
5.      Through the word of God. Joh 17:17, 19; Eph 5:26.
6.      Christ made, of God, to us. 1 Co 1:30.
7.      Saints elected to salvation through. 2 Th 2:13; 1 Pe 1:2.
8.      All saints are in a state of. Ac 20:32; 26:18; 1 Co 6:11.
9.      The Church made glorious by. Eph 5:26, 27.
10.      Should lead to
a.      Mortification of sin. 1 Th 4:3, 4.
b.      Holiness. Ro 6:22; Eph 5:7–9.
11.      Offering up of saints acceptable through. Ro 15:16.
12.      Saints fitted for the service of God by. 2 Ti 2:21.
13.      God wills all saints to have. 1 Th 4:3.
14.      Ministers
a.      Set apart to God’s service by. Jer 1:5.
b.      Should pray that their people may enjoy complete. 1 Th 5:23.
c.      Should exhort their people to walk in. 1 Th 4:1, 3.
15.      None can inherit the kingdom of God without. 1 Co 6:9–11.
16.      Typified. Ge 2:3; Ex 13:2; 19:14; 40:9–15; Le 27:14–16.

~Torrey, R. A. (2001). The new topical text book: A scriptural text book for the use of ministers, teachers, and all Christian workers.

4. Propitiation
3. Immanence
2. Transcendence
1. Justification

Posted in encouragement, Uncategorized

Golden Girls go Sonny & Cher: A story of sanctification

I’m 56 years old so I came up in the 1980s. I was not saved then. The Golden Girls was a television show that ran for 7 highly successful seasons before one of the stars, Bea Arthur, decided to leave. The other three stars were Betty White, Estelle Getty, and Rue McLanahan. Arthur, Getty, and McLanahan have all passed on. Betty White at age 95 is still going strong.

The show’s premise was a co-living, roommate situation where widow McLanahan had advertised for two roommates to help offset costs of living in her large Miami home. Bea Arthur’s character moved her 80-year-old mother character (Getty) into the house during the first episode.

Even though the show was about four older (or elderly) women (three widows, one divorcee) it was well-written and hilarious. Others thought so too:

The Golden Girls received critical acclaim throughout most of its run and won several awards, including the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Comedy Series twice. It also won three Golden Globe Awards for Best Television Series – Musical or Comedy. Each of the four stars received an Emmy Award (from multiple nominations during the series’ run), making it one of only three sitcoms in the award’s history to achieve this. The series also ranked among the top-10 highest-rated programs for six of its seven seasons.

Being an Educator, I’m at home in the summer when school is out. During my down time, I watched a lot of the Golden Girl episodes. I also watched documentaries about the show, like how it originated, the biographies of the actresses, and the writer’s process

The show is funny, witty, and intelligent. It is also evil, gross, and of the world.

In one of the documentaries, Bea Arthur was talking about how they wrote the show to address social or moral issues that the writer, producer, and actors wanted to use to present their point of view. Do not ever think that television and other media are neutral. They are of the world, and they most certainly present satan’s point of view.

The show addressed HIV-AIDS, (“it’s NOT a judgment on bad people or sexual activity!” cross dressing (it’s OK), homosexuality (It’s OK), sexual promiscuity (it’s OK), same sex marriage (normal!), assisted suicide (duh, OK!) and so on. In one interview Bea Arthur proclaimed about how the show advanced understanding on these social issues for the betterment of society.

No. It didn’t. It advanced satan’s agenda to normalize sin, or at least de-sensitize us to it. Anyway none of this is anything new, except for the perspective. Oftentimes as I review my day, plead to Jesus to accept my confessions of sin, beg the Holy Spirit to grow me so I sin less against Him tomorrow than I did today, and then nearly despair because I cant see any progress in myself, I look back. Way back.

I distinctly remember enjoying the TV show and agreeing with all its premises. I thought it was the height of wit and worldliness- worldly in a good way. I’m saved now. After re-looking at the show these many years later, I’ve grown enough to be absolutely disgusted with it. After viewing  some episodes, I stopped watching.

Only God can clean a soul to the degree where we not only can see the sin we used to love for what it is, but be repelled by it. Over time, you should see progress. The trajectory might be bumpy, or it might be smooth and steady, but either way, your sanctification will grow- up.

Sanctification means to be set apart for holy things. If you are saved, you are being sanctified, meaning, you are growing in holiness. We cannot sanctify our own self because there is no part of ourself where we are not touched by our sin. Our entire nature is drenched in sin. Therefore the Persons of the Trinity sanctify us. When we confess Jesus is Lord and ask for forgiveness of our sins He installs the Holy Spirit in us as a guarantee, and off we grow. (1 Corinthians 1:30; 2 Thessalonians 2:13; 1 Peter 1:2; 1 Corinthians 6:11). Our part is to actively obey in trust.

The world loved and still loves the Golden Girls. I loved it but then again I was part of the world. Thank You Lord for taking me out of the world.

PS: Even though the show overall promotes things of satan and is crass…this one skit had me doubled over laughing. If you remember the singing duo Sonny & Cher, the formerly married couple had a variety show in the 1970s in addition to a singing carer that spawned many top charted hits. Cher had some tics and quirks in performing that here, Bea Arthur reproduced spot on, even her walk. It’s hilarious. The studio audience goes so crazy because Arthur really nailed it.

Below the GG skit parodying Sonny & Cher is the real Sonny & Cher. After retiring from show business, Sonny was elected mayor of Palm Springs California. Cher was known for her skimpy (and I mean skimpy!) costumes and belly button baring outfits on her show. Six years ago I wrote about the unfortunate decisions Cher’s daughter Chastity was making in becoming transgendered. Sin, sin being of the world, the world loves its own,…and the beat goes on.

Posted in encouragement, Uncategorized

Humdrum to Terror: A Sailing Story

I lived on a sailboat for two years. It was a Tayana 37 with a full cast iron keel and a wooden mast. A cutter rig. It was a pretty boat, a standout in the harbor.

I sailed with my husband from Maine to the Bahamas and back, worked for a year and did it again. We sailed and motored down the Intracoastal Waterway (ICW) combined with “outside” overnight passages, and made it to our terminus of Georgetown, Exuma, Bahamas in 6 months. After languishing in harbor for a while, we turned around and sailed back up.


The Intracoastal Waterway (ICW) is a series of Bays, Sounds, Lakes, Canals, and Rivers that connect, from Cape Ann Massachusetts to Key West, FL. (and beyond) There are man-made parts that the Corps of Engineers dredge and maintain, and there are natural parts that form the connection, like Albemarle Sound or the Neuse River. The technical portion of the Waterway begins at Mile Marker 1 in Norfolk VA, because you can go all the way from Norfolk to Key West without having to enter the Atlantic Ocean. However the informal ICW goes all the way to Maine. In order to make passages north or south most live-aboards use a combination of staying inside and going outside.

220px-CapeCodCanalEastEndAerialCape Cod Canal, Wikipedia photo

When you’re motoring or sailing down the ICW, what you’re really doing, apart from cruising and sightseeing, is commuting. If you are on a sailboat, your maximum speed is likely going to be 3-5 miles per hour. That’s only how fast sailboats go.

So traveling down the ICW means you’re seeing the eastern seaboard at a rate most people can walk or jog. Progress is incremental at an agonizingly slow rate. Since there are only so many daylight hours, and since it’s inadvisable to travel the ICW at night, and since you need to chart ahead to make the next anchorage and bed down before it gets dark, you get up at dawn and start aiming to hit that anchorage before dark.

So, you’re essentially commuting. You can make between 30-50 miles per day on average, given weather conditions and ICW traffic. The traffic you share on the ICW is a mixture of other sailboats, motorboats, small pleasure craft, commercial fishermen, and commercial traffic such as tugboats and barges. It’s busy.

Getting up at dawn and turning on the motor and setting off for the day, every day, repeatedly, lulls one into a routine. We’d check the engine first, all the belts, the oil, and the pistons. We’d do a once-over topside to make sure things were still hunky dory. We’d turn on the engine, my husband would up the anchor, and off we’d go.

anchor 2

Leaving a Georgia anchorage at dawn. EPrata photo

Mainly, life commuting down the waterway was humdrum. You turned on the motor, did the same thing each day, and you anchored down at night. You made slow progress. Sometimes you had to look at a map just to see IF you’d made any progress. It seemed that the ICW was very long and the amount traveled in a day was very short, inconsequential even. Looking at the 1700 miles from start to finish it seemed like we would never get there.

The humdrum routine was punctuated by occasionally pulling into a town. It was always interesting learning about a town’s history, getting some local food, and/or replenishing the larder. It was fun to hop into the dinghy and putt-putt into a town for recreation. Even doing a laundry run was all right if it got us to walk and stretch our legs a bit. Getting off the boat added a little different something to the day-to-day commute.

Cruising the ICW was fun and good, sometimes thrilling, but it was far from being the glamorous yachting life you see in jetsetting magazines. Routine is routine. Humdrum.

Then some days an unexpected kind of comet would burst into your life and BLAM! you would almost die.

There was the sunny, calm day like all the previous days in northern FL when we were cruising north, in tandem with a tug pushing a barge. Barges are big. The part of the ICW we were motoring was narrow and crowded. We were ahead of the barge and both of us were cruising at the same speed. We had been in close VHF radio contact and were friendly with each other, courteously minding the navigable ‘rules of the road’ and frequently making way for each other in minor ways that helped us travel safely.

The bottom was sandy, which tends to silt up at the edges. We both tried to stay in the middle so we wouldn’t ground. The tug & barge had a draft of only a foot or so but we needed at least 6 feet of water under us to stay afloat and not touch bottom.

At one point in the long day, the tug radioed and asked if we could pull to the right a bit, as he wanted to pass us. He had to do some maneuvers up ahead as his turn off the ICW into his home port on the St. John’s River was approaching.

We edged over and slowed to just enough speed to keep way on. The tug and barge passed us. We sped up and started coming back to the center of the river. We made it!


Underwater in the middle of the channel was a hump of sand, enough to ground us. We grounded so hard nothing on the boat even jiggled. It was instant and it was final. I was below making lunch, and all I heard and felt was a JOLT. I looked out the porthole and the trees were not going by. We were stopped.

IF we had still been traveling in front of the tug and barge, we would be dead. The tug and barge are too large a vessel to be able to stop on a dime. Think 18-wheeler, on water. It would have crushed our boat, ramming us and pushing the debris down into the mud below, and us along with it. Or perhaps my husband who was steering in the cockpit would have had time to jump off, but with me being below I certainly would have died instantly.

But those thoughts didn’t come until later. For the present, we had a terrible problem of being stuck in the middle of the channel and exposed to all other motorboats, barges, tugs, and whatever else came along. We enacted the protocol for this situation where you put the anchor into your dinghy, row out to deeper water, set the anchor, and then get back on the boat and winch yourself forward off the obstruction. Fortunately, this worked. After some hard work, terror, sweat, and skittish eyes looking down the waterway for oncoming craft, we shook loose of the keel grabbing sandbar and got afloat again.

We were extremely grateful we had a full keel and it could withstand the jolt. We were very grateful we had no adverse effects except a little lost time. It could have been so much worse.


A tug and barge, not THE tug and barge., Photo TX DOT

As we processed what had happened and realized our extremely close call, we shivered and shuddered. Our days and days of tedium had been shattered in an instant by a near death experience we would never forget. That is liveaboard cruising on the ICW, long periods of humdrum routine punctuated buy sudden terror.

And that is the Christian life too.

Sometimes it seems like you’re making no progress. It feels like you’ve come only inches and there are miles to go. Can you even see your progress? It’s only incremental. It feels like you’ll never get there. You go days and days and wonder if you added anything of value to the Kingdom at all. It’s just routine. Tedium. Then BLAM! , a life changing event stirs you out of your mundane life and suddenly you’re scrambling.

A car accident. A cancer diagnosis. An injured child. A lost job. Homelessness. Whatever it is, one day you’re sailing along and the next you’re struggling for your life. Job knew. Elijah knew. Mary knew. Paul knew.

Does God use His interruptions to our daily life to shake us? Our pastor had given us the example of the fish tank. He said he had known someone who had a fish tank with fish in it but sometimes it got dirty. The water looked clear and clean. But if you were walking by and bumped it, the sludge on the bottom would drift up. He said that sludge accumulates, laying there, invisible, until a bolt from the blue comes along and then you see how much there is to clean out.


Photo by Guillaume on Unsplash

That’s us believers. Our hidden sins, ruts, and blots lay in the bottom of our heart lurking and waiting undetected. When an unexpected life-comet zooms in, you turn to God. Prayer suddenly becomes fervent. Diligence in spiritual disciplines become tantamount. Pleading with tears ensues.

Does God uses the occasional BLAM in our lives to shake us? I think He does. Progress might be slow, tedium might even enter in. But when the jolts come, thank the Lord for them. He is using them to do a good work in you. It will be OK.

Posted in encouragement, Uncategorized

What’s in your pocket? Lists? Or nails?

We are sinners. The Syro-Phoenician woman knew that. (Mark 7:26). The Tax Collector in the temple knew that. (Luke 18:13). Mary knew that. (Luke 1:46). We know we are sinners.

No one believes in Jesus Christ the savior unless they see a need in Him. Martyn Lloyd Jones, sermon Isaiah 1:10, Repentance and Salvation.

Before we are saved, we are blind to our sin. After the Lord graciously gives us the ability to see ourselves as we are, the scales having fallen off our eyes so to speak, (Acts 9:17-18), we repent of our sins. But that does not mean we stop sinning. We have the Power to resist sin thanks to the Holy Spirit in us, but we still sin. (Matthew 16:24). We will continue to sin until we are glorified.

Legalists like the Pharisees to whom Jesus contrasted the Tax Collector, believed they would attain heaven by their good works. This belief is not expired. People believe it to this day. If you watch street pastors Ray Comfort or Todd Friel, when they ask people on the street if they expect to get to heaven and how, the people always respond that they are a good person doing good things so surely they will go to heaven.

We ourselves are Jews by birth and not Gentile sinners; yet we know that a person is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, so we also have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the law, because by works of the law no one will be justified. Are you so foolish? (Galatians 2:15-16)

After we are saved, however, we still have a tendency to give in to our to our sinful nature. We can easily start to believe satan’s propaganda that we earn God’s regard by doing good things, that we maintain our salvation by doing good works. Or we start to make lists of the things we must do to preserve our good name before the Lord. Paul addressed this in Galatians 3:3, asking rhetorically,

Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh?

John MacArthur said of the verse,

The notion that sinful, weak human nature could improve on the saving work of the Holy Spirit was ludicrous.

We should always remember that it is by grace through faith that we have been saved, not by works. After salvation, the good works that we do are an inevitable result of our gratitude for this great gift, and it is the proof of the existence of the new creature. But our works do not save us and they do not add to the preservation of our salvation. Martin Luther said,

We all carry about in our pockets His very nails.

Erik Raymond at The Gospel Coalition succinctly said,

Legalists keep lists in their pockets, while Christians keep nails.

What’s in your pocket today? Lists? Or nails?