WHY LIBERAL CHURCHES ARE DYING

I’ve always applied the passage in Galatians 5 to me as an individual. If I abide in Christ, and He abides in me, Jesus promises, I will bear much fruit — the fruit Galatians 5 describes. For Christianity is not mechanical, like other religions, but organic. Our fruit comes not from striving, but from abiding in the living Christ. All we need to do is abide, and then His life flows into us through His Spirit, producing the fruit of His Spirit listed in Galatians 5. But I have come to see this also applies to individual congregations. If they are abiding in Him and His Word, they will thrive. If they let go of their grasp on the True Vine, they will die. Two years ago I received a warm invitation from a United Methodist Church in Columbus, Georgia […]

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An Empowering Secret To Overcoming

It was the secret to the victorious life of Jonathan Edwards. It is a secret our own Chris shared two weeks ago. It is a secret hidden in Galatians 5 and clearly proclaimed in Romans 12:1. What if you approached everything: eating, shopping, sex, forgiving, home-making… not as denial, duty, or drudgery – not as a means to satisfy your soul (for it won’t), but as an act of worship to the One who laid down His life for you?   What will rise, after the initial pain of a little death, is a glorious resurrection: the fruit of the Spirit expressed in Galatians 5. Our own Chris expressed this secret so beautifully in regard to food: I have grown in recognizing that taking care of my body is a responsible act of worship. I can enjoy delicious things (real […]

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WHO IS YOUR MOTHER?

Works-righteousness, Luther said, is the default mode of the human heart. Instead of resting in God’s love and approval of me, I am constantly building my own righteousness. I want to have “mother-righteousness,” (are my children behaving well in front of others?) “writer-righteousness,” (are my books selling well?) “home-maker-righteousness,” (is my home impressively clean and beautiful?) even “worship-righteousness.” (Are others raising their hands in worship? Perhaps I should too, though it is not how I usually worship.) Who will deliver me? In Galatians 4, Paul presents the dicey story of Sarah, Hagar, and Abraham. He uses it as an allegory to help us understand the difference between religion and the gospel, or, to put it another way, the difference between being an orphan or a true son. It is a bit of a brain-twister, but the late John Stott, one of […]

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Are You Experiencing Your Abba?

It is one thing to know legally, that you are a son of God because of what Jesus did for you on the cross. It is quite another to experience the love of God because of the Spirit entering your heart, and to have the confidence to cry out ABBA – which Tim Keller says is literally DADA. That’s how intimate He wants to be with us. This week I want us to reflect on what it truly means to be adopted, and to cry out to God to help us not just to believe in our heads, but to experience it daily in our hearts. Steve and I were privileged to adopt two daughters from overseas orphanages, both of whom experienced the love of their earthly father vividly, and through him, the love of their heavenly Father. This is our beautiful daughter, Beth, today. […]

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THE MARK OF A CHRISTIAN

Francis Schaeffer was unique, a Reformed theologian, who, along with his wife, Edith, formed L’abri (meaning shelter) in Switzerland: a place where individuals could come and discuss truth, God, and the meaning of life. This ministry has multiplied all over the world. Schaeffer was considered a prophet in his time. Though he lived before Roe vs Wade was a reality, he looked ahead and predicted what most living then could not even imagine: the coming holocaust for the unborn. (60 million lives taken in the U. S. since Roe vs Wade: 10 times the number of lives lost in Hitler’s holocaust.)  A little book of his that impacted me profoundly was his: It is based on Jesus’ high priestly prayer in John 17, Schaeffer said that unless true believers show unity, love, and grace to one another, the world has a right […]

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Do You Have The Joy of a Gospel Transformed Life?

In October, Eugene Peterson, known best for The Message and for his inextinguishable joy, went home to be with the Lord. On his passing, the family wrote: During the previous days, it was apparent that he was navigating the thin and sacred space between earth and heaven. We overheard him speaking to people we can only presume were welcoming him into paradise… Among his final words were, ‘Let’s go.’ And his joy: my, oh my; the man remained joyful right up to his blessed end, smiling frequently. In such moments it’s best for all mortal flesh to keep silence. But if you have to say something say this: ‘Holy, Holy, Holy.’ From where did Peterson’s joy come? If you wonder what happened to all the joy you once had, you probably have lost your grasp on the gospel. Peterson’s son joked […]

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A Power From On High To Rescue Us

If all Jesus Christ can do is tell me that I must be holy, His teaching only causes me to despair. Oswald Chambers This is how Christianity differs from other religions. Other religions tell you to follow the steps, walk through the pillars, keep the rules. And the world does the same, singing to us: Don’t worry, be happy.     Great advice, if we could do it, but we cannot. We are drowning, and we need a rescue from on high.   Remember, we are, as Luther said, “caterpillars in a ring of fire.” Our only hope of rescue is from above. And so the book of Galatians begins, not with good advice, but with good news! Luther says this verse sums up Galatians. We know how it works to be rescued from the penalty of sin. We agree with […]

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Two Months to Victorious Freedom: #1

This year, we have two months before Lent begins, and this blog will be simplified, with less homework, yet I pray, powerful for us. So often we make and break New Year’s Resolutions, because we concentrate on the symptom (eating too much, worrying too much, spending too much) and not the cause. We don’t know how to live the gospel, for the gospel is not just meant to deliver us from the penalty of sin, but also the power of sin. For the next two months, we are going to learn from saints who have experienced victory, many of whom have gone before, saints like Martin Luther, Oswald Chambers, and Charles Peterson. In these few days before New Year’s Day, we will contemplate our helplessness, and areas where we have tried to change and failed. We must first embrace the truth that […]

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Mary! The final woman in the genealogy of Christ.

Poet Luci Shaw has said that Protestants, in reaction to what they perceive as a worship of Mary in Catholicism, have fallen off on the other side, abandoning her, to an “evangelical limbo.” Yet she has so much to teach us. Unlike the other women, who all seem to have something dubious in their past, Mary seems without flaw, though we know she could not have been, for all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. Yet, God chose her. She found favor with Him. And we can learn so much from her: her faith, her ponderings, and her prayers, inspired by Scripture. But before we go there, we will consider both the significance of genealogies in the Bible, and look briefly at “Uriah’s wife,” the other woman listed in the genealogy of Christ. This is Christmas […]

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Ruth, Taking Hold of What Christ Took Hold For Her

Ruth is the 3rd woman listed in the genealogy of Christ. She exemplifies an important truth for the greatest adventure. She took hold of that for which Christ had taken hold of her. I think of the LORD as “the LORD of the dance,” who wants each of His children to take His hand and let Him lead each day, the dance He had planned for each of us from the beginning of time. Watch this clip from Miss Potter and imagine the Lord singing these words to you. It is a mystery, but we are told that God has taken hold of each of us for a purpose. How do you know what that is for your life and for each day? We ask Him, are alert, and so often, are amazed.  God’s ways truly are mysterious, but if we […]

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Rahab, a Prostitute in The Lineage of Christ

Grace, Grace, God’s Grace, Grace that is Greater Than All Our Sin… Though she had three strikes against her: woman, prostitute, and Canaanite… She is elevated three times in the New Testament! Tessa Ashfar, author of historical biblical novels, wrote her first novel on Rahab, asking, “What kind of God would choose a woman like Rahab and elevate her to a place of honor?” Only our God, a God of grace, who turns ashes into beauty. I’ve enjoyed listening to Ashfar’s novels on audio. Here she is speaking on three of her novels — the first being “Pearl in the Sand,” which is based on the book of Joshua and Rahab’s story. She also has a novel on Ruth, whom we will study next week. This is profoundly relevant to each of us, for we each need to be rescued […]

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Tamar and Judah: “She is More Righteous Than I”

This Advent we are looking at the women named in the genealogy of Christ. If you are thinking, “How boring!” Think again. There are fascinating treasures here for you. My prayer is that you will experience the depth of God’s love for you, despite the fact you fail Him every day. The first woman mentioned is Tamar, a woman who used sexual entrapment to get what she wanted. These are fascinating chapters that have already impacted me, and caused me experience His holiness and His love. I can’t wait to do it with you. Sunday (1st in Advent) We have been called, as were God’s people of old, to carry His light, to bring justice and mercy to our world. And yet we are so sinful. Can we still expect God to love us, forgive us, and use us? Yes. […]

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Preparing for Advent 2018

We all need Advent. It reflects the truth that even during the darkest time of the year, there is a Light that shines in the darkness, a Light the darkness cannot overcome. How we need Advent to remember this word from God: Just yesterday, I was walking through the woods, feeling dwarfed by the grandeur of God. I felt seized by my unworthiness. I have failed Him in so many ways: as a daughter, wife, mother, friend, and child of God. I often think,  How can You love me? If I could do this all again, I’d do it better. Then I wonder if I really would! And the enemy tells me God could not love one like me, yet I know that is a lie from the pit of hell. God loves me with an everlasting love, just as […]

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THANKSGIVING WEEK 2018!

 THANKSGIVING IS BEAUTIFUL IN ITS SIMPLICITY, IN HOW BOTH AUTUMN & HARVEST SPEAK ETERNAL TRUTHS, AND IN HOW ITS GREAT HYMNS, FROM THE FAITH OF OUR FATHERS SPEAK TO OUR SOULS TRUTH. THESE HYMNS WILL BE OUR FOCUS AS WE TRAVEL THE ROAD TO AND THROUGH THANKSGIVING WEEKEND. Sunday: 1. What stands out to you from the above and why? 2. What do you love about Thanksgiving and why? 3. Where will you be and how can you walk in light and love through the holiday weekend? 4. For what can you give thanks on this Sabbath day? Monday-Tuesday: For The Beauty of The Earth This hymn has long been a favorite of mine, one I sing biking or cross-country skiing through Peninsula Park. I remember singing it on our back porch with Steve as the sun rose over the […]

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31 Days of Thanksgiving (Does it actually save you?)

When I first heard that Ann VosKamp’s One Thousand Gifts  was staying on the New York Time’s bestseller list, I thought: Really? A book on something as elementary as giving thanks?  But this book has helped so many believers recover the practice of thankfulness, including me. It is much deeper than just practicing gratitude. When Ann studied the passage on The Ten Lepers, she was ready to skim, explaining: I read the passage, one I remember from the musty basement of the Knox Presbyterian Church Sunday school. I think I know this one. Jesus restores ten lepers to wholeness. And only one returns to offer any thanks. I remember the moral too, Mrs. Morrison and her glossy red lipstick: “How often do you remember to say thanks?” Yes, I think I know this one. I skim.   Indeed, part of […]

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