Tag Archive | sin

Homosexuality is still a sin, despite plaudits for the scene in #Victoria

I’ve been watching the TV series Victoria, a series about Queen Victoria and her monarchy. It’s fictionalized, but with episodes focusing on actual historical incidents. The reviews seem to render it historically accurate for the most part. There are a few minor things that aren’t exactly correct, and some things they collapsed in time or for effect. However, there is one scene which, well, isn’t accurate at all.

The homosexual community had heard that season 2 of the series was going to feature a gay sub-story. The LGBTQ’s were happy about this. As it happened, Lord Alfred Paget and Edward Drummond (Prime Minister Robert Peel’s private secretary) have been depicted all season as two men attracted to each other, with longing looks across drawing rooms, yearning among the manicured gardens, loaded innuendo, and sly smiles. The tension between the two men had been building until they exploded into a kiss while ambling along a pond shore.

Sadly, many tweets and messages along these lines emerged afterward:

Source Radio Times

The scene to which I refer today is the one afterward with the Lady in Waiting Duchess of Buccleuch, played by a historically inaccurate 79 year old Diana Rigg (the real Duchess was only 8 years older than the Queen, not 50-plus years.)

Spoiler…

In history, there was an assassination attempt on PM Peel’s life. Peel’s secretary Drummond really was shot by a bullet meant for Peel. He died five days later at home, not instantly as the show depicted. In the show, Drummond heroically leaped in front of the Peel, shoving him aside and saving his life. Creative license for dramatic tension, that’s OK. But Paget was left bereft that his blossoming love affair with Drummond was cut quite short. When the Duchess received the news of Drummond’s sacrificial death, she called for Paget and brought him into a private drawing room. She compassionately told him the news about Drummond’s death. Then she gave sage advice about hiding his grief from the mother and the fiance at the funeral. “They must be the chief mourners”, she said.

The Duchess said with care and concern in her eyes that she may be old but she is not blind, and had seen how the two looked at each other.

This is anachronistic. The British attitude toward homosexuality was that it was repulsive and reprehensible, and a threat to family life. It was immoral, as encapsulated in the various laws that were not eventually repealed in all corners of the United Kingdom until 1992. They even coined a term for it, “The Love That Dare Not Speak Its Name.”

Laws for society combatting same sex relations have dated back to the sixteenth century (Upchurch 14), and much of British society deemed homosexuality as ‘the worst of crimes’ (Upchurch 49). This unspeakable act threatened the stability of Victorian society (Brady 46) so much so that a homosexual identity did not exist in this era (Brady 17). This does not mean that British citizens did not know the characteristics of these types of men, and they had a great distaste for them (Brady 11) during the nineteenth century (Upchurch 13).
Many believed that one could not be moral and have these sexual relations (Upchurch 16), and for this reason homosexuality was the most problematic issue facing British society (Upchurch 16). For this fundamentally British society, it was embarrassing to speak of this sexual issue (O’Connor 112). If it was a wildly spoken of topic, the structure of society would ‘have been shaken at its foundations (Brady 1-2; Brady 24). Source

So a Duchess cooing and comforting a young man devastated at the loss of a homosexual lover would never have occurred, partly because such things were never discussed, and partly because such a co-ed discussion would be considered uncouth.

These modern-day attitudes inserted into historical dramas are a problem. They might make certain powerful lobbies happy, but they aren’t an accurate window of the general attitude of the times. Once we see these kind of anachronistic attitudes often enough, we might start to believe the propaganda.

Though homosexuality has been with us since after the Fall, it might be good to look at what the Bible says about it, rather than listening the constantly pressuring culture. Even though we reject the pressure, at some point it might be making inroads to our mind, which is supposed to be transformed to holiness in the likeness of Christ.

The Bible is clear that God created humans to enjoy sex only within the marriage between a man and a woman. (Genesis 1:27, 28; Leviticus 18:22; Proverbs 5:18, 19). The Bible condemns sexual activity that is not between a husband and wife, whether it is homosexual or heterosexual. (1 Corinthians 6:18).

When Jesus smote Sodom and Gomorrah for homosexuality it was actually an example of judgment that will come upon all those who indulge “unnatural desires.” As Jude 1:7 states,

just as Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding cities, which likewise indulged in sexual immorality and pursued unnatural desire, serve as an example by undergoing a punishment of eternal fire.

Romans 1:28-32 shows the progression of sin in an individual heart or a nation’s heart. Homosexuality is nearly last in the progression into darkness, demonstrating how far a society has sunk when they finally begin to engage in the sin of homosexuality.

Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural sexual relations for unnatural ones. In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed shameful acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their error. (Romans 1:26-27)

Homosexuality according to the Bible is detestable, shameful, contrary to sound doctrine, and people practicing it are wrongdoers. (Leviticus 20:13, 1 Corinthians 6:9, 1 Timothy 1:10, Romans 1:27)

God never accepts homosexuality as normal. It isn’t.

However, if you repent, He will forgive you and He sends the Holy Spirit to help resist ungodly lusts.

If you or someone you know are struggling with a loved one who indulges homosexual desires, here are a couple of excellent resources. Though we do not condone any sinful behavior, including homosexuality, we must

Show proper respect to everyone, (2 Peter 2:17a, NIV)

What Letter Would You Write to A Gay Son?

David Murray explains,

Five years ago, Redditor RegBarc “came out” to his father. Shortly afterwards, his dad disowned him in a handwritten letter which RegBarc shared with the world on Tuesday, adding the comment: “This is how hate sounds.”

He’s right, it was a hateful letter. Murray continues,

As I find it hard to believe that a true Christian would ever write such a letter, I’ve drafted a letter that I hope a Christian father would write (although I’m sure we all hope we’ll never have to write it).

The second, hypothetical letter is beautiful. It’s what love sounds like.

The 9Marks Mailbag is the best thing I read online on a consistent basis. Their answers are grace filled and practical, firmly based on a biblical worldview. It’s very helpful. This answer by ex-homosexual Rosaria Butterfield is the most helpful I’ve seen on this subject.

How should parents treat their 18-year-old daughter’s relationship with her girlfriend? How do we love them without condoning their sin?

We’re not THAT bad of sinners, are we??

Who goes to heaven?

“I’m a pretty good person. I’m going to heaven for sure.”

“I’m nice. Definitely I’m going to heaven.”

“I’m certainly not a Hitler! It’s people like serial killers or dictators that won’t go to heaven.”

If you’re like me, you hear comments like that all the time. I used to think that I was nice enough and that I was headed for heaven too.

But then a little worm of doubt would set in. I’m nice, most people are nice, but if that was true why is the world like it is? Why would heaven be any different than earth if all the same people just transfer from here to there?

In witnessing to people and telling them they are sinners as I am, they reject almost instantly the notion that their sins would prevent them from going to heaven. This is because they compare their sins to other people, and always the worst people, of course. Hitler, Idi Amin, OJ Simpson, Jeffrey Dahmer… now those are some bad people. I’m not like them. Ergo, I am heaven bound.

Trying to let people know the level of their depravity is a hard task. Even most Christians don’t truly understand the depths to which our sin have plunged. I’m reminded often by the Holy Spirit that no matter how wretched I know I am, there are still many layers of muck I can sink to. I’m often astonished at how deep my sin goes.

We’re not good. We’re bad. As a matter of fact, we’re a lot worse than we think.

Unsaved people will balk at this truth. We’re wretched, really putrid. Here is an example from the bible of how wretched we are.

As we were going to the place of prayer, we were met by a slave girl who had a spirit of divination and brought her owners much gain by fortune-telling. She followed Paul and us, crying out, “These men are servants of the Most High God, who proclaim to you the way of salvation.” And this she kept doing for many days. Paul, having become greatly annoyed, turned and said to the spirit, “I command you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her.” And it came out that very hour.

But when her owners saw that their hope of gain was gone, they seized Paul and Silas and dragged them into the marketplace before the rulers. (Acts 16:16-19).

demons

EPrata collage

Notwithstanding the issue of slavery, the owners of the girl were using her to get rich. She had a demon and that demon could access the world behind the veil and prophesy unknown things. Since people have always been curious about the future and what is hidden to us, they paid good money to hear fortunes told.

When the owners saw that their means of gain was gone, they roused a riot and went to the lawmakers and decision-makers for redress.

They did not celebrate that the girl had been delivered. They were not happy that her very body was now released from use by a potent spirit. They did not care that this young, vulnerable girl had been used by demons. They were only ticked that their fortune was vaporizing.

This is exactly the same situation as a child molester kingpin now ticked that his best girl had been saved out of his grip. Exactly. The. Same. This is deep wretchedness. We are sinners through and through. Do not think for a moment that your sin (and mine) is not as bad. It is and it could and would wax worse and worse had not the Lord saved your soul.

This link goes to a short bio of this young girl from BibleGateway, called All the Women of the Bible: The Demon-Possessed Damsel. It is extremely interesting.

We are wretches, sinners and we are due the righteous penalty for our sin. But God…if not for Him…if not for His proactive election of those who would become His… Oh! Oh!

We love because he first loved us. (1 John 4:19).

He loved us despite our wretchedness. He loved us despite our dirtiness. He loved us anyway. I’m eternally grateful for His love. I’m eternally relieved He has dealt with my sin. It is now forgotten, nailed to the cross, and as far from the east is from the west.

Thank you Lord for dealing with my wretched sin in this magnificent way you have ordained.

unspeakable glory

EPrata art

Miserable Wives

Author and blogger Doug Wills wrote an essay last week about “Miserable Wives.” Many wives might see themselves in the essay. I know I did.

The article centers on wives who are in a good enough marriage, with husbands who are loving enough, in churches that are solid enough, living on means that are, well, enough. But for some reason, these wives are still discontented.

Her discontent grows and it threads through her entire outlook, until her current mood is king (or queen, actually) of the house. The husband then begins a cycle of indulging her temper and her mercurial moods. Eventually, if it becomes an entrenched pattern, it is usurpation by the wife, who is effectively leading the house through her emotions/tempers/disconsolate outlook. This is sin.

Here is one excerpt from the essay Miserable Wives that I thought was especially perceptive:

You said that Jon isn’t meeting your needs, and that you don’t feel nourished and cherished. You said that he isn’t “feeding” you. But Jon is not failing to feed you in the midst of a famine. He is trying to figure out what to do about the fact that you have gone on a hunger strike. When Jon reads Scripture to the kids, what do you do? Are you off in the kitchen doing the dishes? Perhaps making a little extra noise?

I used to do that. Make a little extra noise. And feel perversely satisfied in doing it, too.

Here’s another excerpt from  Doug Wills’ article:

The hidden assumption in this (for both you and Jon) is that you take these emotional states as reliable and authoritative, instead of rejecting them as being the most manifest and bald-faced liars. You say that you know Jon loves you, but then you say in the next breath that you feel unloved. And in every battle between your knowledge and your feelings, which one wins? You take the word of your lying feelings over the word of your accurate assessment, over against your knowledge. Your feelings are your authority, even when you know they are being deceitful.

Today I’d like to launch my main point from Doug Wills’ essay about the wifely discontent. Women today are fairly bombarded with claptrap from Women’s Ministries, female Bible Studies, and lady Bible leaders who often teach to the lie that it is OK to indulge our emotions even if they are opposed to the knowledge of what Christ has done for us and our life in Him. There are lessons which are mainly based on the destructive notion that our self-esteem, or some kind of inherent female “value” has more import than it actually does. But that is a blog essay for another day.

The main cause is discontentment with Jesus. There’s another I’ll explore below. Many female Bible teachers are explicitly and overtly teaching women to be discontent with Him. The quotes below are from women who are alleged Bible leaders. These are popular female ‘Christian’ teachers busy publicly expressing the highest and most corrupt kind of discontent there can be: discontent in Jesus.

Example #1: Priscilla Shirer explains that she became sad at the daily ‘chore’ of the spiritual disciplines such as prayer and Bible study because,

My spiritual disciplines became more of a chore, a duty, an effort. … He just wasn’t knocking my socks off anymore, and I wasn’t sure why. (source – NYT)

The Westminster Shorter Catechism says that Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever. (Psalm 86, Psalm 16:5-11, 1 Peter 4:11). The Catechism doesn’t say, “Jesus’ chief end is to knock our socks off and enjoy us forever.” The NY Times author noted that Shirer’s description of her relationship with her Creator-Savior sounded more like a marriage on the rocks. Even secular people get it. Shirer was discontent with the quantity or the quality of what Jesus wasn’t doing for her. Piled on top of the Genesis 3 affliction is discontent with the affliction-giver Himself.

Example #2: Author of the perennial devotional bestseller Jesus Calling, Sarah Young, who said,

“I began to wonder if I … could receive messages during my times of communing with God. I had been writing in prayer journals for years, but that was one-way communication: I did all the talking. I knew that God communicated with me through the Bible, but I yearned for more. Increasingly, I wanted to hear what God had to say to me personally on a given day.” (underline mine. Source – Challies).

It wasn’t enough for Sarah to enjoy Jesus as creator, priest, intercessor, savior, friend, groom, provider, etc. It wasn’t enough for her to enjoy Him through His word, delivered by His own blood, the Spirit, and kept alive by the blood of the saints. No, she yearned for more. Her declaration means that she believes the sufficiency of the Bible is not enough. She is discontented with Jesus. The entire cottage industry of her Jesus Calling books is based squarely on female discontent.

Example #3: Beth Moore. source Charisma Magazine,

“We are settling for woefully less than what Jesus promised us,” said Moore. “I read my New Testament over and over. I’m not seeing what He promised. I’m unsettled and unsatisfied.

Beth Moore. Please stop speaking. Just please stop.

Lysa TerKeurst wrote a book called Becoming More Than a Good Bible Study Girl. In one of the chapters the question is posed, Is Something Missing in Your Life? The synopsis states:

Lysa TerKeurst knows what it’s like to consider God just another thing on her to-do list. For years she went through the motions of a Christian life: Go to church. Pray. Be nice.

Longing for a deeper connection between what she knew in her head and her everyday reality, she wanted to personally experience God’s presence. Source: Becoming More Than a Good Bible Study Girl, Amazon book blurb.

Why is there a disconnect between what TerKeurst knew in her head and what she experienced every day? Why is she seeking an experience over that which she knows to be true? Isn’t what we know from the Bible, enough? Not for these women. And these women teach.

The issue of discontent is also rooted in a forgetfulness of who we are in Christ. Who are we? What is our purpose? As women, are we forgotten? Do we matter? Key questions, all!

“In Christ” is a key phrase. Our identity is “in Christ”. Paul wrote the phrase ‘in Christ’ about 83 times! Here is a great example from Ephesians.

so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, 19 and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. (Ephesians 3:17-19).

Women, sisters, wives, moms, grandmoms, we are IN Christ. He is the pinnacle of all the universe. He is the apex, the majestic mountaintop, the perfect image of God. Jesus is pre-eminent. And we are IN Him.

As Wills concluded his article, he wrote, “Self-identity comes through surrender. This way of contentment really is plausible.”

Yes it is. We can do all things through Christ who strengthens us, including living a contented life for His glory as a wife, mother, woman, in Christ. It’s who we are. I pray you are satisfied in the knowledge of our identity in Christ, and that it fills your heart as well as fill your head. Don’t let the fake Bible teachers inspire discontent in you. Don’t let your own flesh spark discontent in you, either. 🙂 Our identity is In Christ, and He is sufficient.

wedding gown wife

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Further reading:

John MacArthur 5-min clip and short essay on discontentment

Focus on the Family: Divorce begins with deception
Discontent is dealt with in this essay

Desiring God, Jon Bloom: Lay aside the weight of discontentment

A Response to the Las Vegas Shooting

I did not know about the massacre in Las Vegas until this afternoon. I read about it on my lunch break, and I was absolutely crushed. It is the worst mass shooting in US history, surpassing the Pulse Nightclub shooting in Orlando that occurred in June 2016, that killed 49 people and wounded 58 others.

Below, the windows of the hotel room from which the shooter blew out in his rampage against humanity…and God. (Psalm 51:4).

Las_Vegas_Shooting-640
Photo credit: John Locher/Associated Press

Staying for an extended time at the Mandalay Bay hotel in Las Vegas, man named Stephen Paddock has been named by officials as the Texas man who apparently or allegedly used one of a number of available guns in his possession to massacre 58 people attending a concert below, and injuring 515 others. He shot out his hotel room windows and rapid fired into the crowd. Terror reigned for 10 long minutes, while people dropped all around. Others huddled behind makeshift shelters, while others lay motionless on the ground wondering if this was their last moment on earth.

Inevitably, after a mass shooting or terror incident like this, there is outcry and perplexity as to the nature of evil. Why do these things happen? Why are some people so evil? Why does God allow this? These are common questions bounced around on the interview shows, pews, or dinner tables subsequent to events like this.

I came across a tweet by a woman recently wondering about a fictional character named Thulsa Doom that appears in stories, comics, and movies. She wrote:

tweet

I know the author of the tweet and her husband, neither of them believe in Jesus as savior.

If one is not a believer, they are still led by satan, the father of lies, who was a murderer from the beginning. If one is saved and believes in Jesus, they have come to the light and are no longer evil, but holy. There are only evil people, and holy people. They might be totally nice people, but they are evil because they are rebelling against God and they refuse to believe on His Son. (John 6:29).

However, the unsaved never, ever, ever understand the nature of evil. Rejecting evil would be rejecting their very selves, their nature, and their worldview. But people still wonder. The big question of evil is ever-present.

After 9/11/2001 John MacArthur delivered a sermon addressing the issue of that terrible day when Muslim terrorists attacked the United States by flying planes into buildings and killing many thousands of people. There is a justified and mournful anger we feel when sin has reached a level of such evil. MacArthur said at that time,

But all of that frames up a kind of anger that is, I guess, what we could call “holy anger,” or “righteous indignation,” as it’s been called. I think…I think we have to be angry at what sin has done to this world. I think we have a right to be angry at the wretchedness of sinful people. I think we have to be angry when…when life is taken because murder…that’s murder…all of these are acts of mass murder, we certainly have a right to be angry with a mass murderer. We have every right to be angry with a man who shoots up and kills his family, as we’ve seen in the last few days out here on the west coast, a couple of places, one in our own area. We have every right to be angry with a man who walks laden down with bombs into a pizza parlor in Jerusalem and blows up 21 people. And it isn’t that our anger is reserved just for the man himself, although it is certainly right to have a righteous anger against one who violates the command of God not to kill, one who is so wicked and so wretched as to take life. It’s a bigger anger than that. It’s anger with the whole of the unrighteous reality that exists in our fallen world.

But … the wages of sin is death. Death exists and it is going to happen to each and every person (save those who are glorified in the unique forthcoming event of the rapture). Hebrews 9:27 says it is appointed to man to die once, then the judgment.

Four years ago a shooter entered an elementary school and shot 20 small children and 6 adults. It was terrible. Pastors all around the world tried to help their congregants understand this evil, an evil so foreign that it defies comprehension. Pastor John MacArthur made some remarks prior to beginning his sermon that Sunday, and his comments are biblical and helpful then and they are the same today in the wake of the Las Vegas massacre. The clip is five minutes and I have transcribed much of it below. A Pastoral Response to the Newtown Massacre

It’s important to be able to answer the questions when they come to us about why things like this happen. I’ll give you some things to think about.

But first, understand that to a severe degree this was a young man whose life was given over to satan. Satan is a murderer from the beginning. He is the ultimate killer who, in effect, brought temptation to Eve which killed the entire human race. So he [the shooter in Newtown] is an agent of satan in every sense.

You also know from the New Testament that God has turned over to satan the power of death – but only within the limits within which God will allow him to operate. So yes, this is a satanic act.

At the same time we know from Genesis verse 50:20 that man meant it for evil but God meant it for good. The good in this is that very one of those little children entered the presence of Christ in the eternal. Such is the kingdom of heaven. God gathered them to himself’…

The other message is this. Everybody is going to die and you don’t know when. You better be prepared. You are not in charge of when your death will take place, necessarily, and you need to be ready by putting your trust in Lord Jesus Christ. No one died who was not going to die. Everybody faces that. The only salvation is in Jesus Christ.

The lesson here is that sin in the world means those who are enemies of God are evil, and they do evil things, like murder.

However, God means it for good. Some good, somewhere or some time, will occur. If any of those who died were saved, the good is that they are now are enjoying eternity with their Groom. Salvations might occur. Other Good will come about we are not privy to as yet. However, God meant it for GOOD.

The next lesson is that everyone dies. It might be in a horrific shooting or cancer or a freak accident, but death happens to us all. Therefore the question is not ‘why do these things happen?’ The question is, ‘after these things occur, what happens next?

Jesus is our only hope. He IS hope. He welcomes those who repent of their sins and turn to Him in faith. May this horrific event be used for GOOD in your life and your heart and your mind. May it result in a holy GOOD in ways we will later find wondrous. Meanwhile, God’s wrath is upon the ungodly because sin still reigns in this world. Jesus is the hope.

For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, 12training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, 13waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, 14who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works. (Titus 2:11-14)

17 minutes of continual sin

We need a savior. We are evil, evil continually rising from a corrupted heart. Our human nature is depraved, polluted, and thoroughly iniquitous. Don’t believe me? Think that Genesis 6:5 is only historical? You imagine I’m being unnecessarily pessimistic? “I haven’t murdered anyone,” you protest. “I’m not, like, a Nazi war criminal,” your mind challenges. Hrm. Read on.

This piece is pretty well-known. It has been floating around the internet ever since it was published in World Magazine in 2005. Our pastor read it to us on a recent Sunday and then it became known to me. Boy, did it ever. I urge you to read it. Better still, read it out loud. Best of all, read it aloud to your spouse or friend, together, with someone. The relentlessness of it picks up steam, and the commensurate heart conviction rate increases also. Or it should. The article deftly illustrates why “good” folks “like us” need a savior. We. Need. A. Savior.

Postscript at the end.

Seventeen minutes
It’s the thoughts-ordinary, daily thoughts-that count
By Andree Seu Peterson

These are the thoughts of a woman driving home from the Stop ‘N Shop on an ordinary day.

She conjures three comebacks she could’ve hurled at Ellen if she had not been caught off guard.

She spots the baby shower invitation on the dashboard and schemes a way to be out of town that weekend-then thinks better of it because she has a favor to ask the sender at a later date.

She sizes up a woman standing at the bus stop-and judges her.

She stews over a comment her brother made behind her back, and crafts a letter telling him off-and sounding righteous in the process.

She reviews the morning’s argument with her husband, and plans the evening installment.

She imagines how life would have been if she had married X (a well-worn furrow, this).

She magnanimously lets a car merge into traffic, and then is ticked off when she doesn’t get her wave.

She resolves to eat less chocolate starting today-well, tomorrow.

She replays memory tapes going back to the ’60s, trying to change the endings.

Somebody rides up the road shoulder and budges to the head of a traffic jam, and she hates the driver with a perfect hatred.

She passes the house of the contractor who defrauded her and fantasizes blowing it to smithereens.

She passes Audrey working in her garden and waves-but thinks, “If Audrey has chronic fatigue syndrome, I’m a flying Wallenda.”

She glares at a driver who runs a red light in front of her, forgetting that she did the same about a mile ago.

She checks her slightly crooked nose compulsively in the rearview mirror, and reassures herself it isn’t too bad.

An inner voice tells her to turn off the radio and pray, but she decides that’s the voice of legalism.

She brainstorms talking points for her upcoming woman’s Bible study lecture on “Ephesians” and considers how she can improve it-and make it better than Alice’s talk of last week.

She is angry at God because here she is a Christian and broke, while her good-for-nothing heathen of a brother is rolling in dough.

She thinks how much better her life would be if she were beautiful, and fantasizes all the bungee-jumping, maggot pizza-eating “fear factor” stunts she’d be willing to subject herself to to look like Gwyneth Paltrow.

She wonders how her parents will divvy up the inheritance-and how long she has to wait.

She rehearses two good reasons why her sister and not she should take care of the folks when they’re too old. She thinks about her childhood and counts the ways her parents have screwed up her life.

The Johnsons drive by, and she recalls all the meals she made for them 10 years ago when Lydia had toxemia during pregnancy, and bets they don’t even remember. Hmm, did they even send a thank-you card?

The word treachery flashes through her mind (Mr. Beaver’s succinct epithet for Edmund in The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe) but leaves no footprints.

An SUV cuts her off, and she decides to punish it by tailgating.

Her heart smites her for this. So she determines to try harder to live righteously from now on. Who knows, God may reward her in some amazing way: Her husband may give her grounds for divorce, and God will lead her to the arms of Mr. Right.

She tries to pray but doesn’t get past “Our Father.”

There are lots of other people that the woman does not think of while driving home with groceries, people who are not important to her social status, or just not interesting.

She doesn’t think about AIDS-ravaged Africa, she doesn’t think about the death sentence dangling over millions in Sudan, she doesn’t think about missionaries, she doesn’t think about martyrs in Kim Jong-il’s prisons, she doesn’t think about ways she could encourage her children.

She pulls into her driveway. Total driving time: 17 minutes.

And if you were to ask the lady, as she rustles parcels from the car, what she has been thinking about on the drive from town, she would say, “Oh, nothing in particular.” And she would not be lying.

Imagine believing that we don’t need a Savior.

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Jesus brought light and cleansing to our blackened hearts.

Hurricane Irma was approaching Georgia on that Sunday. It was due to hit on Monday. Our church service runs from 3:00-4:30. After church, I stopped at the nearby grocery store to pick up a few last minute items. It was packed. Jammed. And a sheen of tension overlay the store. People were in more of a hurry than usual, pumped up from the weather forecasters’ predictions of downed trees, lost power, and other dire unknown things that were sure to happen. I got into the self-checkout line, which was not any shorter but I was hoping that I might gain a slight time advantage.

I didn’t, and I waited in line without moving, for a long while. As I stood and waited, and my stress levels increased, so did my thoughts. I began having a stream of consciousness, nothing-in-particular thoughts about everyone else in line. I judged their clothes. I judged their slowness of movement. I even judged their purchases. Shocked, I realized that I was the same as the woman in the article, thinking evil thoughts continually. Here, ten minutes after the service ended, still in my church clothes.

Daily repentance is necessary.

Daily repentance is necessary.

Daily repentance is necessary.

Thank you Jesus that You covered us with your blood, cleansed from our sin in Your eyes. Our sin has been erased from our record to be thrown into the vast outer places, as far as the east is from the west. Seeing a sin record before me, I stagger under the weight of carrying it, never mind a lifetime. I would have justly been penalized for it, had you not submitted to the Father’s plan of the cross.

You bore the weight of eternity’s sin of all the people You have chosen since before the foundation of the world, and their/my punishment. Thank You.

Dancing at the Pour-off

Camping is fun … as long as I don’t have to sleep on the ground, lol. In the mid 1990s my husband and I bought a WV Westphalia pop-up Camper van and we traveled across the USA at the southern tier. We fell in love with Texas, and especially Big Bend National Park.

Here we are in the Chisos campground. Yes, we brought our cat. Hiking and exploring was part of the allure, and in examining the trail brochures, one day we decided one day to hike the Window trail.

The Window Trail is a 5.5 mile lightly trafficked out and back trail located near Terlinguo, Texas that features a waterfall and is rated as moderate. The Window Trail begins near the Chisos Basin lodge, descending 800 feet over about two miles through rolling hills and vertical rock walls to a narrow pouroff, which overlooks the surrounding Chihuahuan Desert. The trail is usually dry, but the pouroff area is very dangerous during flash-floods. Source

We were strongly warned, very strongly, not to step too close to The Window, which is an opening in the mountains to a view over the desert. Very high up. The continual water at what’s called The ‘pour-off’ had smoothed the rocks at the pour-off and it was slippierer than it looked, even in dry conditions. The drop is thousands of feet.

Not my photo.”The Window is a slit in Chisos Mountain Ranges where one could
glimpse the Chihauhuan Desert plain below. ” Source

I am a bit hesitant of heights and a scaredy cat in general, so I heeded the warnings and stayed back. My husband thought it was funny to go closer and do a dance. Ha. Ha.We were warned how fast the fall could happen, even if you’re wearing appropriate footwear. The rocks are smooth as glass, they provided no traction and no grip. It was pure luck he didn’t fall.

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When you’re saved, your eyes are opened and you realize there is no such thing as luck. The LORD has numbered the days of each person on earth. We are immortal until that day arrives. However, the walk is still slippery. Any Christian could fall at any time, me included. And unlike in other life experiences where the longer you go the easier it gets due to your accumulated experience, in Christian life, the longer you go the harder it gets.

This is because we increasingly mourn over our and others’ sin. Or we get casual and then comes Jesus’ chastisement in order to grow us. Or we love people more and become sensitive to their burdens. There are lots of reasons why life with Jesus grows sweeter, but harder.

The Bible warns of the way of the slip. He who thinks that apart from Jesus he has sure footing is likely due for a slip. These verses make it clear that our ultimate security in Christ is permanent, but our walk is fraught with temptations and dangers. Take care not to temporarily slip.

They will lift you up in their hands, so you will not slip and fall on a stone. (Psalm 91:12)

My steps have held fast to Your paths. My feet have not slipped. (Psalm 17:5)

He will not let your foot slip– he who watches over you will not slumber; (Psalm 121:3).

For all that, Paul warns the Christian,

Therefore let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall. (1 Corinthians 10:12)

I think of the dance at the edge of The Window where the pour-off was so slippery. Do we treat sin that way? Dance up to the edge of it, abusing God’s grace and tempting the devil?

We have to do our part. Resist sin, follow His commands. A true Christian can never irrevocably fall from grace, but we can slip and fall into sin. Over-confidence can be an enemy.

Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God”; for God cannot be tempted by evil, and He Himself does not tempt anyone. But each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust. (James 1:13-15).

I was listening to Martyn Lloyd Jones yesterday. He was talking about the simplicity of the Gospel and clarity of the Gospel life. Sometimes we over-complicate things, making them out to be more opaque than they are. Life in Christ is simple, very simple. Resist sin, do not tempt it, and heed the Bible’s commands.

If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is contrary to you, but you must rule over it. (Genesis 4:7).

What does a true revival look like? Part 1

We all want revival. We all want the Spirit of God to enter each one of us and make us obviously set apart into a royal priesthood, doing good and devoting ourselves to prayer, hearing of the word, and breaking bread in loving fellowship. We long for our church and life to mirror the earliest days of the first century church of Acts.

However when churches schedule a special Revival speaker, or goes to a Revival conference, and we emerge smiling for a few days but then the waves of euphoria fade, we call that revival. It’s what we’ve become used to as our experience of “revival.”

Yesterday our pastor read from a biography of Jonathan Edwards, the 18th century theologian and pastor who is ‘credited’ with sparking the Great Awakening in America with his sermon “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God.

The extended quote Pastor Mark read was about what life was like in their village while the Awakening (revival) was going on.

Here is Jonathan Edwards from his book, A Faithful Narrative of the Surprising Work of God on what happens in a heart that is falsely revived, IF they are even lucky enough to hear a preacher who preaches sin in the first place, an increasingly rare event nowadays:

Very often, under first awakenings, when they are brought to reflect on the sin of their past lives, and have something of a terrifying sense of God’s anger, they set themselves to walk more strictly, and confess their sins, and perform many religious duties, with a secret hope of appeasing God’s anger, and making up for the sins they have committed. And oftentimes, at first setting out, their affections are so moved, that they are full of tears, in their confessions and prayers; which they are ready to make very much of, as though they were some atonement, and had power to move correspondent affections in God too. 

Hence they are for a while big with expectation of what God will do for them; and conceive they grow better apace, and shall soon be thoroughly converted. But these affections are but short-lived; they quickly find that they fail, and then they think themselves to be grown worse again. They do not find such a prospect of being soon converted, as they thought: instead of being nearer, they seem to be further off; their hearts they think are grown harder, and by this means their fears of perishing greatly increase. But though they are disappointed, they renew their attempts again and again; and still as their attempts are multiplied, so are their disappointments.

When the Spirit of God moves, it is obvious what is happening. The community changes immediately. Read what Edwards wrote about life in a truly revived community:

These awakenings when they have first seized on persons, have had two effects; one was, that they have brought them immediately to quit their sinful practices; and the looser sort have been brought to forsake and dread their former vices and extravagances. When once the Spirit of God began to be so wonderfully poured out in a general way through the town, people had soon done with their old quarrels, backbitings, and intermeddling with other men’s matters. The tavern was soon left empty, and persons kept very much at home; none went abroad unless on necessary business, or on some religious account, and every day seemed in many respects like a Sabbath-day. 

The other effect was, that it put them on earnest application to the means of salvation, reading, prayer, meditation, the ordinances of God’s house, and private conference; their cry was, What shall we do to be saved? The place of resort was now altered, it was no longer the tavern, but the minister’s house that was thronged far more than ever the tavern had been wont to be.

That is just beautiful. But why wouldn’t it be? The Holy Spirit of God is beautiful. They are simply reflecting Him in a way we are not used to seeing en masse.

The key to revival is awareness of one’s sin and God’s wrath against it. People who have become aware of their sin will naturally do the things Edwards described. Far from being a dolorous position, people who know their sin are joyful, because now they know and understand grace. See more Edwards’ Faithful Narrative-

The unparalleled joy that many of them speak of, is what they find when they are lowest in the dust, emptied most of themselves, and as it were annihilating themselves before God; when they are nothing, and God is all; seeing their own unworthiness, depending not at all on themselves, but alone on Christ, and ascribing all glory to God. Then their souls are most in the enjoyment of satisfying rest; excepting that, at such times, they apprehend themselves to be not sufficiently self-abased; for then above all times do they long to be lower. 

Some speak much of the exquisite sweetness, and rest of soul, that is to be found in the exercise of resignation to God, and humble submission to His will. Many express earnest longings of soul to praise God; but at the same time complain that they cannot praise Him as they would, and they want to have others help them in praising Him. They want to have every one praise God, and are ready to call upon every thing to praise Him. They express a longing desire to live to God’s glory, and to do something to His honor; but at the same time complain of their insufficiency and barrenness; that they are poor and impotent creatures, can do nothing of themselves, and are utterly insufficient to glorify their Creator and Redeemer.

A revived community will reflect God’s heart, which is contained in His Son, who is the Word. (John 1:1-5). People’s passion will be to seek God more, through His word. (Hebrews 1:1-2). Edwards sees a love for His word come alive in the people who have been truly revived:

While God was so remarkably present amongst us by His Spirit, there was no book so delightful as the Bible; especially the Book of Psalms, the Prophecy of Isaiah, and the New Testament. Some, by reason of their love to God’s word, at times have been wonderfully delighted and affected at the sight of a Bible; and then, also, there was no time so prized as the Lord’s day, and no place in this world so desired as God’s house. Our converts then remarkably appeared united in dear affection to one another, and many have expressed much of that spirit of love which they felt toward all mankind; and particularly to those who had been least friendly to them. Never, I believe, was so much done in confessing injuries, and making up differences, as the last year. Persons, after their own conversion, have commonly expressed an exceeding great desire for the conversion of others. Some have thought that they should be willing to die for the conversion of any soul, though of one of the meanest of their fellow-creatures, or of their worst enemies; and many have, indeed, been in great distress with desires and longings for it. This work of God had also a good effect to unite the people’s affections much to their minister.

The dominant thread in Edwards’ recounting of the aftermath of the Revival, is self-hate. It’s true. People all around had come to recognize their own depravity, and thus in contrast, God’s beauty. This was what the Awakening helped them see, understand, utter, live. The revival was thrust forward on waves of self-hate.

Martin Luther wrote, as summarized by John MacArthur,

Martin Luther, as you know, launched the Protestant Reformation. He was a Roman Catholic priest who came to understand the truth of salvation by grace through faith alone in Christ alone, apart from works, and ceremonies, and all the rest; and so he determined that he would confront the Roman Catholic system, the great monolithic system of error and deception, and he selected 95 different statements, 95 different protests – that’s why we’re called “Protestants” – 95 different assertions that ran contrary to Catholicism. He wrote them down and he nailed them on the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg.

The fourth of his protests, the fourth of his 95 assertions was that a penitent heart, a heart that comes to God and receives salvation is characterized by – here’s his term, “self hate.” Self hate. Quoting from Luther’s fourth statement. “And so penance remains while self hate remains.” He said that self hate was the true interior penitence. “This,” said Luther, “is essential to the gospel.”

This is why revivals of today fail. The audience does not hear a message of self-hate, they hear messages of self-love. Self-love will never, ever revive a heart or convict one of sin.

Special speakers are hired to come to our churches for a week, or people clamber aboard buses to be shuttled to arenas where special speakers await…who give the message that we are worth something to God, we are good, we are just waiting to be whatever we can be. Our dreams can ambitions can be fulfilled. We can have all our rights, privileges, respect, honor, and affirmation, plus Jesus. In today’s revivals, Jesus is the add-on, nestled alongside to a person who is usually pretty good but just needs an extra boost. In Edwards’ Awakening, first the person understands his abasement, comes to see his depravity through Jesus’ eyes, and loathes it. Then and only then, can he see Jesus as He is, glorified, holy, and beautiful.

Tomorrow, we’ll look at a revival in the Bible that is tremendous in its power and effect.
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