For years I toiled under the weight of a “works” oriented salvation. I believed that to please God I had to work to earn His favor and His grace. When I did good things I believed my deeds were pleasing to God and, for the moment, I had gained His favor. But, when I sinned (and I did. A lot) I believed, even when I repented, God would make me pay with some consequence or retribution. I considered it, “Waiting for the other shoe to drop.”
It was a miserable way to live. I went about my day trying to figure out what the
shoe would be. Would it hurt? Would it drop when I least expected it? Would it drop when I was enjoying pleasant times? Would it drop on my friends? When it dropped would my friends abandon me? Would it grieve me or cause me emotional pain? Would I suffer?
Then in August, 2000, I learned my true identity in Christ. God showed me His grace and taught me I didn’t have to pay for any or all the sins I committed. He told me, “They’re all already paid for. Stop waiting for that shoe and let me show you how much I love you.”
I’ve never worried about that shoe again.
“Well, [pause] yes,” he said. [Pause again] “Sometimes you may have to.” Continue reading
I’ve been thinking a lot about kindness lately. Thinking there’s not enough of it.
CAUTION: Today’s post contains a frank, candid discussion of the state of the bride of Christ. To err on the side of caution, I recommend it for adult readers only.
At my first Alanon and Adult Children of Alcoholics (ACOA) meeting, the first thing they showed me was the 12 steps. I was still a regular church goer in those days. When I read the first three steps,
- Admitted we were powerless over _____; and our lives had become unmanageable;
- Came to believe that a power greater than myself could restore us to sanity; and
- Made a decision to turn my life and my will over to the care of God as we understood Him.
I told my group that night that I had already been through the first three steps (Heck, I was a church-going choir member and Sunday school teacher. I read my Bible. I prayed. I was a good Christian I told them. I’d been a Christian since I was 10. Let’s move on to Step 4, that searching and fearless moral inventory.)
Nine months later, after I grew weary of playing recovery, I found myself at
Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.Luke 9:23
the front door of Step 1. Today, more than three decades later, I’m still there. Daily. Having to admit, sometimes by the hour, where the power in my life comes from. Until that day Step 1 confronted me, my life was a series of tugs of war with my Creator over who would be the sole authority in my life.
It’s not easy dying to self. For me it means no plans, no time, no money, no pleasure, no rights, no defense, no battles of my own. God can not do for me, all He wants to do for me AND in me AND through me, until and unless there’s nothing left of me. When I’m gone, He can move in. When I’m empty THEN He can fill me with all of His grace and blessings He has for me.
What started as a small scratch, a break in the skin, turned into a blood infection which turned into a rare flesh-eating bacteria, which resulted in the amputation of both feet and right hand of Cindy Martinez.
What an ominous question. Continue reading
This is a sad-but-true story about a church proving there is no freedom in religion.