Regeneration

What About Salvation?

If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come. (2 Cor. 5:17)

There are a number of aspects to salvation. Salvation isn't just getting out of hell and into heaven. There are many different things which make up what we refer to broadly as salvation -- things which themselves are great and marvelous, and which together make up a mighty work which only God could conceive and carry out, and which, like all His works, depends only and entirely on His purpose and power and not on anything in the work or its result.

Why is it Called "Good" Friday?

If while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life. (Rom. 5:10)


Before I was a Christian, and even for a while after my conversion, I couldn't figure out why we call it Good Friday. What on earth could be good about the day on which the hands of godless men nailed Jesus to the cross? But as time has progressed, and with it my knowledge of Scripture, I have come to see that it is indeed good Friday - the best Friday in human history.

Jesus did indeed die on what we call Friday - the next to last day of the Jewish week, of which the seventh day was the sabbath. We use essentially the same week, though instead of paying special attention to the seventh day, we give heed to the first day of the week; instead of the sabbath, we celebrate the Lord's Day. But whatever we call the day - Friday in English, el viernes in Spanish, other names in the other languages of the world - on this particular Friday, Good Friday, we turn our minds to the infinite good that took place on another Friday, 2,000 years ago.

What Was I Thinking?

When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child... 1 Corinthians 13:11


Many of us, looking back on childhood photos, stare in horror at our various hairstyle and clothing choices. Sometimes, they were made by our family members; sometimes, they were made by us.

Regardless, with hindsight, we reach the conclusion, "what was I thinking?"

Complicating that question further, is the reconciliation/forgiveness/better choices we embark on as we proceed with our lives.

It starts by acknowledging and applying the wrap-around scriptures, encasing 1 Corinthians 13:11...

Success Is... Grace

And of His fullness have all we received, and grace for grace." John 1:16

As someone recovering from disordered image, food and weight issues, I've long wrestled with the perfection issue. There was a mandate, both self-imposed and emanating from others, to be perfect in behavior, achievement and appearance.

However, this last goal was the most frustrating and demoralizing.

As a child, I was overweight, inheriting my mother's own negative body image perceptions. Later, throughout adolescence, I was bullied, teased and rejected.

And then, adding insult to injury, I felt I could never win when it came to my dad and his expectations.

Tribulation and Faith

Even when we came into Macedonia our flesh had no rest,
but we were afflicted on every side:
conflicts without, fears within.
(2 Cor. 7:5 ESV)


Sometimes Christians get the wrong idea about faith. Knowing that only believers enter the celestial city, we put a great deal of importance on faith, and if it wavers, we become fearful. If we experience doubt, we wonder if our faith is failing - if, after all, we're not Christians at all, or if we are, if we haven't departed from the Lord and ceased to be such. I myself have been there - I won't go into the details, but there was a time in the 80s when I seriously did wonder whether I'd ever been saved in the first place. My faith was under attack, and I grew afraid.

To some extent at least this grows out of a wrong idea of what faith is. Even the most knowledgeable Christians can sometimes make this mistake, believing that Biblical faith has something to do with our emotion state, or that it's something we have to muster up from within ourselves. Let's be sure of what faith is, and then attacks against our faith arise along this line, we'll be better able to resist. There are two related Greek words we need to consider, one a noun and one a verb - pistiz and pisteuw (pistis, pisteuo). The noun means, "reliance upon, trust in, dependence on," and of course the verb means "to rely on, to depend on, to trust." Thus, when we have faith, or when we believe, we have that trust and dependence on Christ, we're trusting Him and depending on Him. And it is important that we have the proper object of our faith. We must trust Jesus, Jesus entirely, and Jesus only. If we trust anyone or anything other than the Lord Christ, our faith is in the wrong object, and we'll never see God. If we trust Jesus partly and something or someone else partly, we're again not believing as the Bible demands, and we'll come short of the heavenly city. Biblical faith has as its object Jesus alone and Jesus to the uttermost.

And it is here that some professing Christians miss the point.

Faulty Thinking?

For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he... Proverbs 23:7

We can really do a number on ourselves with our faulty thinking.

How many of us have said the following things to ourselves, about ourselves?

"I'm...
...worthless...
...ugly...
...fat...
...weak...
...stupid...
...a failure...
...never good enough..."

And then, if we're plagued with disordered eating and body image issues, it gets amplified even further.

Weary? Try a New Alacrity!

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 virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. Philippians 4:8


I once read a book on Harry Houdini. He was described as possessing a spirit of alacrity. What a great word. Its definition is that of "briskness, a cheerful readiness."

Who's tired already?

Keep Going (While Going Through Hell)

I love Winston Churchill's sentiment:

"If you're going through hell, keep going."

Life is tough. Sooner or later, we'll experience a trying situation which feels like hell. It isn't actual hell, thank God. Nevertheless, the power of that notorious situation/trauma makes us feel tortured with pain, despair and hopeless evidence. Eating disorders, addictions, compulsions, loss and grief are just a few examples of things which can feel like hell, if, indeed, torture is its calling card.

It's painful and almost impossible to see future, life, possibility or God. We can, instead, much more easily see ourselves as failures, weak, forgotten and ruined. It's, therefore, inevitable we come to a screeching halt; we stop in the mire and can only feel ourselves sinking…down to where? Greater depths of hell and torture?

But that's not God's truth about us. Even in the middle of hopelessness, God is there… living… loving… working…

And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.
Romans 8:28

"Behold, I am the LORD, the God of all flesh. Is there anything too hard for Me?" Jeremiah 32:27

It can be tempting to believe that

God’s Plan For You This Year

Have you thought about wrapping up the old year? How about plans for the new year?

It’s that odd time of year when we spend equal time looking to the past and the future. It’s sort of like doing taxes—you summarize the past year while figuring out what needs to change going forward.

One of my internal principles tells me to pay attention when I encounter the same issue in different contexts. I figure someone’s trying to tell me something. Recently I’ve run across a few folks who are asking, “What does God want me to do next?”

In the introduction to "Relentless Grace" I expressed my reluctance to claim that “God told me” to take a particular course. I won’t speak for anyone else, but I suspect I sometimes use “God’s plan” as an excuse to do what I wanted to do anyway.

I do believe that God speaks to us, and I certainly believe in His absolute sovereignty. Nothing is beyond His control; nothing escapes His attention.

Prayer for Those Who Struggle with the Holidays

Abba...this is a really hard time of year for so many.

Some are experiencing the first round of holidays and feasts without a loved one...
whether through death or a need for reconciliation.

Some are going through serious illness.

Some are experiencing great financial hardship.

Some are locked into bondages and/or addictions.

Abba, please touch each one, especially those who are reading this prayer and their loved ones.

I lift them all up to You, Abba.

You can bring healing...

where no one else can.

You can touch hearts...

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