Sunday, July 29, 2012

Talking The Talk, But Not Walking The Walk


 Each church I attended seemed to expand my “Religious Lingo”.  Some terms or phrases were more familiar than others and some were specific to denomination or location. I heard them in songs, at church, at school, from friends....The repeated exposure of such jargon created a calloused immunity to the truths they stood for.  I never questioned their definition, their origin, or their significance to me, personally.  I just thought they were “church words” or “things Christians say”, so I played along.  I figured once I could talk the talk, nobody would know the difference. I know better now and I want to share all the Lord has showed me.  An understanding of these foundational mysteries has come slowly and carefully, as the Lord has led. There is so much more to learn, I know, but it is such a blessing to have truth to stand on. I hope these lists are a blessing to you.

What I Heard , But Never Understood:

BORN AGAIN (to be born of the spirit)
Nicodemus saith unto him, How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter the second time into his mother's womb, and be born?  Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and [of] the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.  That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.  -John 3:4-6
SAVED (spared from due wrath)
-And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house. –Acts 16:31
SALVATION (redemption by faith )
- For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: [it is] the gift of God:  Not of works, lest any man should boast.  Ephesians 2:8-9
BAPTISM (a picture of the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ)
-Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in the newness of life. – Romans 6:4
MERCY (not getting what you do deserve)
-He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy. –Proverbs 28:13
GRACE (getting what you don't deserve)
-For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men. –Titus 2:11
HOPE (confident expectation)
-For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope. –Romans 15:4
LOVE (a sacrificial giving of self)
-But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. –Romans 5:8
FAITH (believing that which is not seen)
Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. –Hebrews 11:1
PEACE (the absence of torment)
-And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. –Philippians 4:6,7
WITNESS (your personal experience)-
-But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost parts of the earth. – Acts 1:8
TESTIMONY (to give a testament)
-That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ. - 1 John 1:3
SAVIOR (He who saved and delivered)
- And we have seen and do testify that the Father sent the Son to be the Saviour of the world.  – 1 John 4:14
THE LORD IS MY SHEPHERD (we are to be sheep, attentive to his leading)
-The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.   He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.   He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake.  Psalm 23:1
IN JESUS’ NAME (The power and authority in his name)
-And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. –Philippians 2:8
KEEPING COMMANDMENTS (proving loyalty through obedience)
- And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments. He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But whoso keepeth his word, in him verily is the love of God perfected: hereby know we that we are in him. -1 John 2:3
INFALLIBLE SCRIPTURE (the Bible, the living Word of God)
-All scripture is given by inspiration of God and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, and instruction in righteousness:  -2 Timothy 3:16

What I never heard at all:

SANCTIFICATION (to be set apart)
-And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God. – Romans 12:2
REPENTANCE (turning away from sins)
-From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. -Matthew 4:7
SUBMISSION (yield yourself)
Likewise, ye younger, submit yourselves unto the elder. Yea, all [of you] be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility: for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble. - 1 Peter 5:5
STEWARDSHIP (being responsible with your physical and spiritual allotment)
And the Lord said, Who then is that faithful and wise steward, whom [his] lord shall make ruler over his household, to give [them their] portion of meat in due season? –Luke 12:42
EXHORT (Encourage)
But exhort one another daily, while it is called To day; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin. –Hebrews 3:13
REBUKE (to admonish or bring a trespass to light)
- A wise son heareth his father's instruction: but a scorner heareth not rebuke. –Proverbs 13:1
EXALT(to raise high; to elevate)
– Exalt ye the LORD our God, and worship at his footstool; for he is holy. –Psalm 99:5
EDIFY (to build or build up)
– Wherefore comfort yourselves together, and edify one another, even as also ye do. -1 Thessalonians 5:11
TITHE (The Lord expects 10% of what is rightly His)
- Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the Lord of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you ut a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it. –Malachi 3:10
- These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God. – 1 John 5:13
JUSTIFIED (“Just-as-if-I’d” never sinned)
Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him.   -Romans 5:9
ATONEMENT (payment, reparation)
- For the life of the flesh is in the blood: and I have given it to you upon the altar to make an atonement for your souls: for it is the blood that maketh an atonement for the soul. –Leviticus 17:11

*Art by "Objects of Affection" (click on image for shop info) 9YC5MAGMK7RW

Monday, July 2, 2012

My Testimony: From False Assurance to True Salvation

  Before I reveal my testimony, let me share a story about a friend of mine:
          When he was young, just a squat little toddler, he was stung by a bee.  That painful sting caused a hearty fear of anything that buzzed and he grew anxious expecting another attack.   His mother saw his distress and devised, what she considered to be, a very clever solution, “Oh, you are so lucky! Now, you can’t get stung again. “ she told him.  When he asked, “Why not?”,  she  continued, “Now that you have been stung once, no bees can ever sting you again!”  Trusting in his mother’s authority on the subject he believed the lie whole-heartedly and marched in to the world, fearless.  Many years later, at Boy Scout camp, old enough to know better, he boldly tramped across a patch of flowers and bragged to his friends that he was untouchable.   “Watch out! There are a bunch of bees over there!” his friends warned.  He ignored their warnings and shouted back confidently, “I can’t get stung!”  The other boys kept their distance from the buzzing bees and asked, “Why not?”  He answered, “Because I have already been stung. Now no bees can every sting me.”  When the boys realized he was serious, they mocked his ignorance, laughing haughtily and asking, “Who told you that?”   He immediately knew he had been deceived.  He felt foolish, humiliated, and boldly aware of the lie he had fallen prey to and the danger it had put him in.  All these years he had believed he was safe, that he was “so lucky”, that there was nothing he needed to do to protect himself.  He sought no shelter and made no effort to preserve his life.  He had been living a lie.  A very dangerous lie.

            As a child I was told to pray a prayer and “ask Jesus in to my heart”.  In fearful avoidance of eternity in hell, I obliged.  Outwardly I called myself a Christian, thinking it meant I had joined a club, identified with a clique, or gained a privileged title. They said that’s all it took.  I prayed the prayer and now I was good for life.  Then why was I still terrified that I didn’t really feel “Jesus in my heart” and how could I know He was there?   A few months later at a different church, faced with the same ignorant fear, I prayed the prayer again….and again at another church…and again.  Over the years I struggled with doubt and tried to meld my life with my idea of Christianity thinking obedience would create confidence in my security.  I was good at being good. Moral purity came easy to me and I despised the carnality of my peers.  I believed I would surely receive the love, peace, hope, and faith I had heard about,  if I was good (or at least better than those around me).  And yet, no peace came.  Bitterness grew as I impatiently waited for the hope, faith, and love I thought I was entitled to (not knowing what any of those words truly meant).  I made my own sense out of sermons and anything that could have been convicting and turned it in to false piety.   I attended Bible studies that were more like pizza parties, and youth groups that were more like night clubs and grew more judgmental of my “fellow Christians”.  My self-righteousness was accepted by those around me as “prudish” or “uptight” and I was challenged to “live a little”.  I was never asked for my testimony, leading me to believe that my cross necklace said it all. I purchased a new Bible and fancy Bible cover so I would look more like the other Christians and feel more like the other Christians. Then I would sit helplessly when scripture was recited and discussed. Never was I asked about my relationship with the Lord.  Repentance, sanctification, submission, and Lordship were never spoken of in the 9 or 10 churches I attended (and worked at) over 25 years.    I attended a church long enough to get frustrated with the hypocrisy I saw in others (blind to my own) and left without learning anyone’s name.   My heart was hardened to truth because I believed I already had it.  I was deaf to any warning because I believed I had nothing to fear.  I was in the club. I was a Christian.
       One afternoon (at 27 years old) I began reading a book about being a godly wife. I came to a chapter on submission, surrender, and reverence.  I rolled my eyes as the author pointed out the importance of submitting to the authority of your husband.  I shifted uncomfortably as I read how God expects us to show respect to our spouse.  And I held my breath when I read, “ Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord.” (Eph 5:22). The idea of submission was so foreign. I had never submitted to anyone…not to my husband…and never to the Lord.  The conviction came like a flood.  I stared squarely at my sin: my arrogance, my bitterness, my anger, my mistrust, my rebellious heart, my disobedience, my callousness, my anxiety, my cynicism, my unbelief, and my judgmental rejection of every authority the Lord had brought in to my life.  Like my friend in the flower patch,  I immediately knew I had been deceived.  I felt foolish, humiliated, and boldly aware of the lie I had fallen prey to and the danger it had put me in.  All those years I had believed I was safe, that I was “so lucky”, that there was nothing I needed to do to protect myself. I had sought no shelter and made no effort to preserve my life.   I had been living a lie. A very dangerous lie.
            With that clarity, I felt ashamed to flash my cross necklace, to carry my shiny new Bible, and to stand falsely under the name of Christ. I saw myself the way God saw me:  a lost sinner… on my way to hell.  For the first time I understood that lordship meant submission and submission meant breaking:  Breaking the strongholds Satan had built in my heart, breaking the habits I had developed,  breaking the thought cycles that fed my selfish ideas, and breaking free from the lies I had believed.   In my brokenness, I repented.  And the peace (I had tried to earn, demand, and purchase) came.  A peace I had never known. 
          I look back on all the pastors, teachers, priests, co-workers, family, and friends who had condoned my hypocritical Christianity rather than rebuking me.   If only they had laughed as I boldly claimed I was a Christian, and mockingly asked, “Who told you that?”  I surely would not have had an answer.  
         It makes me tremble to think that if I had died at any point during my “Christian” life, as I taught in a catholic school, as I wore a cross around my neck, as I condemned others for not measuring up to biblical standard, as I sang along to Christian music, as I carried my shiny new Bible, and as I professed Jesus as my savoir ... I would have lived out the horror of Matthew 7:21 indignantly arguing , “Lord, Lord…”  And I would have rightly received His promised response, “I never knew you; depart from me, ye that work iniquity.”   How tragic it would have been.  But, graciously, the Lord did not allow me to wander in my ignorance forever. He did not hand me over to the lies I was so willing to believe.  Instead, my beloved shepherd called for me, his lost little lamb.  He called me from misery, confusion and brokenness, so that I may know peace.  He called me from the lies of this world, so that I may know truth. He called me from cynicism and despair, so that I may know hope. And He called me from blindness, so that I may be saved. 

                                          ~Katie Priest, Child of God
Are you believing the lie?  Are you working your way to Heaven?  Taking the Lord's name in vain, but denying the power thereof?  Trying to find YOUR OWN way?
THERE IS BUT ONE WAY:  "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No man gets to the Father except through me." -Jesus.
We are born at enmity with our own creator (through the sin of Adam). God has made a way of reconciliation: "But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us." (Romans 5:8) 
For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: [it is] the gift of God.    -Ephesians 2:8
 Christ's death was paid on our account. The payment owed for our sin is death.  And Christ Jesus took our debt upon himself and died in our place. That's what we "are saved by grace" means.  We must only believe in that sacrifice and the miracle of His resurrection for our salvation. That's what "through faith, and that not of yourselves" means. We must give up on our own righteousness, our own will, our own ways. We must seek the Lord for redemption. As we die to our pride, our fears, and our self, we will be born anew, no longer separated from God by sin, but received by the spirit of adoption. That's what "it is the gift of God" means.
And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free. - John 8:32