When you Walk Along the Way

Just a place to share my thoughts as I seek to serve my husband, raise my children and Glorify my God!

Walking in the dry lands December 29, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — A Relevant Old Soul @ 8:57 am

Well, Christmas has once again come and gone. And somehow, as wonderful as it was, I can not help but feel this emptiness. For some time now, my bible time and personal study of our Lord has been sporatic at best. Not having a permanent church home has left me with this nonchalent attitude toward attendance of corporate worship as well. I know that we all go through these dry spells. The times when we feel disconnected and removed from our Lord.

I am vowing today to begin anew. Even though I have not been faithful, he has. Even though I have not been committed, he has. I have to return to the arms of my Savior. I must return to the potter. Sometimes it seems easier to us to stay stagnate. Stagnation is convenience and ease and in my life it is most often a sin. I so easily become slothful and lazy in my home, my marriage and most importantly my walk with Christ.

I am vowing to stay moving. Moving toward my Savior, seeking more of him each day. Only when I refocus my ambition on his face will I truly leave the dry lands.

Breath on me anew this day Lord. Fill me with longings that only you can fill. Drown me in your spirit and presence. Lord may I only seek you and you alone. May I long to dwell in your house forever. Amen.

 

The best present December 18, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — A Relevant Old Soul @ 4:58 am

presentThe best present ever given was wrapped in swaddling clothes

It did not come with tags or with any special bows

The best present ever given was laid in a food trough

It did not come in a room filled with stuff

The best present ever given was not out of goodness or merit

It did not come because any of us deserved it.

The best present ever given was God’s only son

He came as a human, the only sinless one.

The only tree that ever to the gift mattered

Was the one he later died on and sin shackles shattered.

The lights of Christmas twinkled in his eyes

For the light of the World in that manger lied.

No stockings, no trimmings, no cookies or cute songs

Only praises from Angels and stars shining strong

Today our Christmas is focussed on magic and wonder

But on the Christ born that day do we even ponder

Do we give him the honor and Glory he deserves

Or do we merely our Christmas dinners serve?

Are we broken over our unworthiness and need for his birth

Do we worship our Savior or do we worship us first?

by: me

 

All I want for Christmas December 17, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — A Relevant Old Soul @ 11:56 pm

I have been a little absent from my blog lately.  I just have not had the time or really the thoughts to share in this blog.  And as the craziness of this month progresses, I have officially hidden under a rock.  We, Christians (loose term), go to great lengths to point out the secularism of this holiday.  On the flip side, many of us participate in its secularism all the same.  This is my little rant for the day..

Yesterday as I was driving in town my radio was tuned to our local Christian radio station (not K-Love).  What should my wondering ears should I hear, “I’ll be home for Christmas, and Jingle Bells.”  There now it is official!  It is almost like we think because we know the true meaning we can still particiate in their nonsense.  What is Christ honoring and glorifying about those songs?  Even a Christian music station has to use the secular world as a filler.  Why can Christ centered music not be enough?

So, All I want for Christmas this year is………….. Christ!  On his throne, High and Lifted Up!  Where he belongs.  Remove twinkling lights, santas and snowmen.  Take away the trees and the presents.  Let me stand in a stable, amongst sheep and cows.  Let me worship at his manger.  This child that we honor on this day is our Redeemer!  This is not some little story about Christmas.  It is THE Story!  It is the reason we can live!  My redeemer lives and was born a babe in a manger.  Why is it so hard to just be happy with Jesus.  Why do we need to add secular fillers to make our holiday.  When will Christ truly be enough for Christmas!

 

What is a biblical Christian… (Albert Martin)

Filed under: Uncategorized — A Relevant Old Soul @ 3:08 am

WHAT IS A BIBLICAL CHRISTIAN?
by Pastor Albert N. Martin

There are many matters concerning which total ignorance and complete
indifference are neither tragic nor fatal. I am sure that there are
few of us who can explain all the processes by which a brown cow eats
green grass and gives white milk but we can still enjoy the milk!
Many of us are totally ignorant of Einstein’s theory of relativity,
and if we were pressed to explain it we would really be in
difficulty. And not only are we ignorant of Einstein’s theory but
most of us are quite indifferent; yet our ignorance and indifference
are neither tragic nor fatal.

There are some matters, however, concerning which ignorance and
indifference are both tragic and fatal. One such matter is the answer
to the question, “What is a biblical Christian?” In other words,
according to the Scriptures, when does a man, woman, boy or girl have
the right to the name “Christian”?

One must not make the assumption lightly that he or she is a true
Christian. A false conclusion at this point is tragic and fatal.
Therefore I want to set before you four strands of the Bible’s answer
to the question, “What is a biblical Christian?”

1. According to the Bible, a Christian is a person who has faced
realistically the problem of his own personal sin.

One of the many things which distinguishes the Christian faith from
the other religions of the world is that Christianity is essentially
and fundamentally a sinner’s religion. When the angel announced to
Joseph the approaching birth of Jesus Christ, he did so in these
words, “And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call his name
Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21).
The apostle Paul wrote in 1 Timothy 1:15, “This is a faithful saying
and worthy of all acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world
to save sinners, of whom I am chief.” The Lord Jesus Christ himself
says in Luke 5:31-32, “Those who are well do not need a physician,
but those who are sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but
sinners, to repentance.” A Christian is one who has faced
realistically the problem of his own personal sin.

When we turn to the Scriptures, we find that each one of us has a two-
fold personal problem in relation to sin. On the one hand, we have
the problem of a bad record and, on the other hand, the problem of a
bad heart. If we start in Genesis 3 and begin with the tragic account
of man’s rebellion against God and his fall into sin, then trace the
biblical doctrine of sin all the way through to the Book of the
Revelation, we see that it is not oversimplification to say that
everything that the Bible teaches about the doctrine of sin can be
reduced to these two fundamental categories -the problem of a bad
record and the problem of a bad heart.

What do I mean by “the problem of a bad record”? I am using that
terminology to describe what the Scriptures set before us as the
doctrine of human guilt because of sin. The Scriptures tell us
plainly that we obtained a bad record long before we had any personal
existence upon the earth: “Through one man sin entered the world, and
death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all
sinned” (Romans 5:12).

When did the “all” sin? We all sinned in Adam. He was appointed by
God to represent all of the human race. When he sinned, we sinned in
him and fell with him in his first transgression. That is why the
apostle Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 15:22, “For as in Adam all die,
even so in Christ all shall be made alive.” Man was created without
sin in the Garden of Eden; but from the moment Adam sinned, we too
were charged with guilt. We fell in him in his first transgression
and we are part of a race that is under condemnation.

Furthermore, the Scriptures teach that after we are born, additional
guilt accrues to us for our own personal transgressions. The Word of
God teaches that, “There is not a just man on earth who does good and
does not sin” (Ecclesiastes 7:20); and every single sin incurs
additional guilt. Our record in heaven is a marred record. Almighty
God measures the totality of our human experience by a standard which
is absolutely inflexible. This standard touches not only our external
deeds but also our thoughts and the very motions of our hearts -so
much so, that the Lord Jesus said that the stirring of unjust anger
is the very essence of murder, and the look with intention to lust is
adultery (Matthew 5:22,28).

God is keeping a detailed record. That record is among “the books”
which will be opened in the day of judgment (Revelation 20:12). In
those books are recorded every thought, every motive, every
intention, every deed, and every dimension of human experience that
is contrary to the standard of God’s holy law, either failing to
measure up to its standard or transgressing it. We have the problem
of a bad record -a record according to which we are guilty. We have
real guilt for real sin committed against the true and the living
God. This is why the Scriptures tell us that the entire human race
stands guilty before Almighty God (Romans 3:19).

Has the problem of your own bad record ever become a burning,
pressing, personal concern? Have you faced the truth that Almighty
God judged you guilty when your father Adam sinned, and holds you
guilty for every single word you have spoken contrary to perfect
holiness, justice, purity and righteousness? He knows every object
you have touched and taken contrary to the sanctity of property. He
knows every word spoken contrary to perfect, absolute truth. Has this
ever broken in upon you, so that you have awakened to the fact that
Almighty God has every right to summon you into his presence and to
require you to give an account of every single deed contrary to his
law which has brought guilt upon your soul?

But this problem of a bad record is not our only problem. We have an
additional problem -the problem of a bad heart. The Bible teaches
that the problem of our sin arises not only from what we have done,
but from what we are. When Adam sinned, he not only became guilty
before God, he also became defiled and polluted in his nature.

This defilement is described in Jeremiah 17:9: “The heart is
deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; who can know it?”
Jesus describes it in Mark 7:21: “From within, out of the heart of
men, proceed evil thoughts”; and then he names all the various sins
that can be seen in any newspaper on any given day -murder, adultery,
blasphemy, pride. Jesus said that these things rise out of an
artesian well of pollution, the human heart. Notice carefully that he
did not say, “For from without, by the pressure of society and its
negative influences, come forth murder and adultery and pride and
theft” That is what our so-called sociological experts tell us. They
say it is “the condition of society” that produces crime and
rebellion; Jesus says it is the condition of the human heart.

Each of us by nature has a heart that the Scriptures describe
as “desperately wicked,” a fountain of all forms of iniquity. Romans
8:7 asserts, “The carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not
subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be.” Paul does not say that
the carnal mind, that is, the mind that has never been regenerated by
God, has some enmity; he calls it enmity itself: “The carnal mind is
enmity against God.” The disposition of every human heart by nature
can be pictured as a clenched fist raised against the living God.
This is the inward problem of a bad heart – a heart that loves sin, a
heart that is the fountain of sin, a heart that is enmity against
God.

Has the problem of your bad heart ever become a pressing personal
concern to you? I am not asking in theory whether you believe in
human sinfulness. You might agree that there are such things as a
sinful nature and a sinful heart. My question is, have your bad
record and your bad heart ever become matters of deep, inward,
pressing concern to you? Have you known anything of real, personal,
inward consciousness of the awfulness of your guilt in the presence
of a holy God? Have you seen the horribleness of a heart that
is “deceitful above all things and desperately wicked”?

A biblical Christian is a person who has in all seriousness taken to
heart his own personal problem of sin. The degree to which we may
feel the awful weight of sin differs from one person to another. The
length of time over which a person is brought to the consciousness of
his bad record and his bad heart differs. There are many variables,
but Jesus Christ as the Great Physician never brought his healing
virtue to anyone who did not know himself to be a sinner. He said, “I
did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance”
(Matthew 9:13). Are you a biblical Christian – one who has taken
seriously your own problem of sin?

2. A biblical Christian is one who has seriously considered the
divine remedy for sin.

In the Bible we are told again and again that Almighty God has taken
the initiative in doing something for man, the sinner. The verses
some of us learned in our youth emphasize God’s initiative in
providing a remedy for sinful man: “For God so loved the world that
he gave his only begotten Son”; “In this is love, not that we loved
God, but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for
our sins”; “But God, who is rich in mercy, because of his great love
with which he loved us” (John 3:16; 1 John 4:10; Ephesians 2:4).

A unique feature of the Christian faith is that it is not a religious
self-help scheme where you patch yourself up with the aid of God.
Just as surely as it is a unique tenet of the Christian faith that
Christ is the only Savior for sinners, so it is also a unique tenet
of the Christian faith that all of our true help comes down from
above and meets us where we are. We cannot pull ourselves up by our
own bootstraps; God in mercy breaks in upon the human situation and
does something which we could never do for ourselves.

When we turn to the Scriptures, we find that God’s divine remedy has
at least three simple but profoundly wonderful focal points:

(a) First of all, God’s remedy for sin is bound up in a Person.
Anyone who begins to take seriously the divine remedy for human sin
will notice in the Scriptures that the remedy is not in a set of
ideas, as though it were just another philosophy, nor is it found in
an institution, but it is bound up in a Person: “For God so loved the
world that he gave his only begotten Son”; “And she will bring forth
a Son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people
from their sins” (John 3:16; Matthew 1:21). Jesus himself said, “I am
the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except
through me” (John 14:6). The divine remedy for sin is bound up in a
Person, and that Person is none other than our Lord Jesus Christ –
the eternal Word who became man, uniting a true human nature to his
divine nature, Here is God’s provision for man with his bad record
and his bad heart; a Savior who is both God and man, the two natures
joined in the one Person for ever. If your personal problem of sin is
ever to be remedied in a biblical way, it will be remedied only as
you have personal dealings with the person of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Such is the unique strand of the Christian faith: the sinner in all
his need, united to the Savior in all the fullness of his grace; the
sinner in his naked need, and the Savior in his almighty power,
brought directly together in the Gospel. That reality is the glory of
God’s Good News to sinners!

(b) Secondly, God’s remedy for sin is center in the cross upon which
Jesus Christ died. When we turn to the Scriptures we find that the
divine remedy in a unique way is centered in the cross of Jesus
Christ. John the Baptist uses the Old Testament image of the
sacrificial lamb when he points to Jesus and says, “Behold! The Lamb
of God who take. away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29). Jesus
himself said, “The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to
serve, and to give his life a ransom for many” (Matthew 20:28).

True preaching of the Gospel is so much centered in the cross that
Paul says it is the word or message of the cross. The preaching of
the cross is “foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who
are being saved it is the power of God” (1 Corinthians 1:18). When
Paul came to Corinth – a center of intellectualism and pagan Greek
philosophy – he did not follow their prescribed patterns of rhetoric
but said that he “determined not to know anything among you except
Jesus Christ and him crucified” (1 Corinthians 2:2).

The cross is not to be thought of as an abstract idea or a religious
symbol; the meaning of the cross is what God declares it to mean. The
cross was the place where God, by imputation, heaped the sins of his
people upon his Son. On that cross there was substitutionary curse-
bearing. In the language of the apostle Paul, “Christ has redeemed us
from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us” (Galatians
3:13), and “He made him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we
might become the righteousness of God in him” (2 Corinthians 5:21).

The cross is not a nebulous, indefinable symbol of self-giving love;
on the contrary, the cross is the monumental display of how God can
be just and still pardon guilty sinners. At the cross, God, having
imputed the sins of his people to Christ, pronounces judgment upon
his Son as the representative of his people. There on the cross God
pours out the vials of his wrath unmixed with mercy until his Son
cries out, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Psalm 22:1;
Matthew 27:46).

At Calvary, God is demonstrating in the visible world what is
happening in the invisible, spiritual world. He shrouds the heavens
in total darkness to let all mankind know that he is plunging his Son
into the outer darkness of the hell which your sins and my sins
deserve. Jesus hangs on the cross in the posture of a guilty
criminal; for him society has but one verdict: “Away with
him” “Crucify him” “Hand him over to death” – and God does not
intervene. In the theater of what men can see, God is demonstrating
what he is doing in the realm where we cannot see. He is treating his
Son as a criminal. He is causing Jesus to feel in the depths of his
own soul all of the fury of the wrath that should be vented upon us.

(c) Thirdly, God’s remedy for sin is adequate for all men, and it is
offered to all men without discrimination. Before we have any felt
consciousness of our sin, it is very easy to think that God can
forgive sinners. But when you and I begin to have any idea at all of
what sin is, our thoughts are changed. We see ourselves as little
worms of the dust, creatures whose very life and breath are held in
the hands of the God in whom “we live and move and have our being”
(Acts 17:28).

We begin to take seriously that we have dared to defy the God who
consigned angels to everlasting darkness when they rebelled against
him. We confess that this holy God sees the effusions of our foul,
corrupt human hearts. Then we say, “0 God, how can you be anything
other than just? If you give me what my sins deserve, there is
nothing for me but wrath and judgment! How can you forgive me and
still be just? How can you be a righteous God and do anything other
than consign me to everlasting punishment with those angels that
rebelled?” When we begin to feel the reality of our sin, forgiveness
becomes the most stubborn problem with which our mind has ever
wrestled. It is then that we need to know that in a Person, and that
Person crucified, God has provided a remedy adequate for all men and
offered to all men without discrimination.

If any conditions were placed on the availability of Christ we would
say, “Surely I don’t meet the conditions; surely I don’t qualify.”
The wonder of God’s provision is that it comes in these unfettered
terms: “Ho! Everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and you who
have no money, come, buy and eat. Yes, come, buy wine and milk
without money and without price” Isaiah 55:1); “The one who comes to
me I will by no means cast out” (John 6:37).

See the beauty of the free offer of mercy in Jesus Christ. We do not
need God to step out of heaven and tell us that we, by name, are
warranted to come; we have the unfettered offer of mercy in the words
of his own Son, “Come to me, all you who labor and are heavy laden,
and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28).

3. A biblical Christian is one who has wholeheartedly complied with
the terms for obtaining God ‘s provision for sin.

The divine terms are two: repent and believe. Of Jesus’ earliest
ministry it is recorded, “Now after John was put in prison, Jesus
came to Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, and
saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand.
Repent, and believe in the gospel” (Mark 1:14-15). After his
resurrection Jesus told his disciples that “repentance and remission
of sins should be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at
Jerusalem” (Luke 24:47). The apostle Paul testified “to Jews, and
also to Greeks, repentance toward God and faith toward our Lord Jesus
Christ” (Acts 20:21).

What are the divine terms for obtaining the divine provision? We must
repent, and we must believe. Although it is necessary to discuss
these as separate concepts, we must not think that repentance is ever
divorced from faith or that faith is ever divorced from repentance.
True faith is permeated with repentance, and true repentance is
permeated with faith. They inter-penetrate one another in such a way
that, whenever there’s a true appropriation of the divine provision,
you will find a believing penitent and a penitent believer.

What is repentance? The definition of the Shorter Catechism is an
excellent one: “Repentance unto life is a saving grace, whereby a
sinner, out of a true sense of his sin, and apprehension (that is,
laying hold) of the mercy of God in Christ, does, with grief and
hatred of his sin, turn from it unto God, with full purpose of, and
endeavor after, new obedience.”

Repentance is the Prodigal Son coming to his senses in the far
country. Rather than remain at home under his father’s rule, he had
asked to receive his inheritance early and left home for a far
country, where he squandered it. Reduced to misery through his sins,
he came to himself and said, “How many of my father’s hired servants
have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger! I will
arise and go to my father, and will say to him, ‘Father, I have
sinned against heaven and before you, and I am no longer worthy to be
called your son. Make me like one of your hired servants'” (Luke
15:17-19).

When the Prodigal Son recognized his sin he did not sit there and
think about it, write poetry about it, or send telegrams home to Dad.
The Scripture says, “And he arose and came to his father” (v 20). He
left those companions who were his friends in sin; he abhorred
everything that belonged to that lifestyle and turned his back on it.
What was it that drew him home? It was the confidence that there was
a gracious father with a large heart and with a righteous rule for
his happy, loving home. He did not write saying, “Dad, things are
getting rough down here; my conscience is giving me fits at night.
Won’t you send me some money to help me out, or come and pay me a
visit and make me feel good?” Not at all! He did not need just to
feel good; he needed to become good. So he left the far country.

It is a beautiful stroke in our Lord’s picture when he says, “But
when he was still a great way off, his father saw him and had
compassion, and ran and fell on his neck and kissed him” (v 20). The
Prodigal did not come strutting up to his father, talking about
making a decision to come home.

There is a notion today that people can walk up an aisle, pray a
little prayer, and do God a favor by making their decision. This has
nothing to do with true conversion. True repentance involves
recognizing that I have sinned against the God of heaven, who is
great and gracious, holy and loving, and that I am not worthy to be
called his son. Yet when I am prepared to leave my sin, turn my back
upon it and come back meekly, wondering if indeed there can be mercy
for me, then – wonder of wonders! – the Father meets me, and throws
his arms of reconciling love and mercy about me. I say, not in a
sentimental way but in all truth, that he smothers repenting sinners
in forgiving and redemptive love.

But the father did not throw his arms around the Prodigal when he was
still in the hog pens and in the arms of harlots. Do I speak to some
whose hearts are wedded to the world and who love the world’s ways?
Perhaps in your personal life, or in relation ship to your parents,
or in your social life where you take so lightly the sanctity of the
body, you show what you really are.

Maybe some of you are involved in fornication, or in heavy petting,
or in looking at the kind of stuff on television and in the movies
that feeds your lust, and yet you name the name of Christ. You live
in the hog pens and then go to a house of God on Sunday. Shame on
you! Leave your hog pens and your haunts of sin. Leave your patterns
and practices of fleshly and carnal indulgence. Repentance is being
sorry enough to quit your sin. You will never know the forgiving
mercy of God while you are still wedded to your sins.

Repentance is the soul’s divorce from sin, but it will always be
joined to faith. What is faith? Faith is the casting of the soul upon
Christ as he is offered in the Gospel. “But as many as received him,
to them he gave the right to become children of God, even to those
who believe in his name” (John 1:12). Faith is likened to drinking of
Christ, for in my soul-thirst I drink of him. Faith is likened to
looking to Christ, and following Christ, and fleeing to Christ. The
Bible uses many analogies and the sum of all of them is this: in the
nakedness of my need I cast myself upon the Savior, trusting him to
be to me all that he has promised to be to needy sinners. Faith
brings nothing to Christ but an empty hand, by which it takes Christ
and all that is in him. What is in Christ? Full pardon for all my
sins! His perfect obedience is put to my account. His death is
counted as mine. The gift of the Spirit is in him. Adoption,
sanctification and ultimately glorification are all in him; and
faith, by taking Christ, receives all that is in him. “You are in
Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God – and righteousness
and sanctification and redemption” (1 Corinthians 1:30).

What is a biblical Christian? A biblical Christian is a person who
has wholeheartedly complied with the divine terms for obtaining the
divine provision for sin. Those terms are repentance and faith. I
like to think of them as the hinge on which the door of salvation
turns. The hinge has two plates, one that is screwed to the door and
the other that is snowed to the jamb. They are held together by a
pin, and on that hinge the door turns. Christ is that door, but none
enters through him who does not repent and believe.

There is no true hinge made up only of repentance. Repentance that is
not joined to faith is a legalistic repentance. It terminates on
yourself and on your sin. Likewise, there is no true hinge made up
only of faith. Professed faith that is not joined to repentance is a
spurious faith, for true faith is faith in Christ to save me not in
but from my sin. Repentance and faith are inseparable, and “unless
you repent you will all likewise perish” (Luke 13:3). The unbelieving
are named among those who “shall have their part in the lake which
burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death” (Revelation
21:8).

4. A biblical Christian is a person who manifests in his life that
his claims to repentance and faith are real.

Paul preached that men should repent and turn to God and do works
consistent with repentance (Acts 26:20). God intends that there
should be such works: “For by grace you have been saved through
faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of
works, lest anyone should boast. For we are his workmanship, created
in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we
should walk in them” (Ephesians 2:8-10).

Paul says in Galatians 5 that faith works by love. Wherever there is
true faith in Christ, genuine love to Christ will be implanted. And
where there is love to Christ there will be obedience to Christ. “He
who has my commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves me…He
who does not love me does not keep my words” (John 14:21,24). We are
saved by trusting Christ, not by loving and obeying Christ, but a
trust that does not produce love and obedience is not true saving
faith.

True faith works by love, and that which love works is not the
ability to sit out on a beautiful starlit night and write poetry
about how exciting it is to be a Christian. True faith works by
causing you to go back into your home and to obey your father and
your mother, or to love your husband or wife and children as the
Bible tells you to do, or to go back to your school or to your job to
take a stand for truth and righteousness against all the pressure of
your peers.

True faith makes you willing to be counted as a fool and crazy –
willing to be considered out dated – because you believe that there
are eternal, unchangeable moral and ethical standards. You are
willing to believe in chastity and the sanctity of human life and to
take your stand against premarital sex and the murdering of babies in
mothers’ wombs. For Jesus said, “Whoever is ashamed of me and my
words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him the Son of Man
also will be ashamed when he comes in the glory of his Father with
the holy angels” (Mark 8:38).

What is a biblical Christian? It is not merely one who says, “Oh,
yes, I know I am a sinner, with a bad record and a bad heart. I know
that God’s provision for sinners is in Christ and in his cross, and
that it is adequately and freely offered to all. I know it comes to
all who repent and believe.” That is not enough.

Do you repent and believe? And if you profess to repent and believe,
can you make that profession stick – not by a life of perfection, but
by a life of purposeful obedience to Jesus Christ?

“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord’ shall enter the kingdom of
heaven, “Jesus said, “but he who does the will of my Father in
heaven” (Matthew 7:21). In Hebrews 5:9 we read, “He be came the
author of eternal salvation to all who obey him.” 1 John 2:4
says, “He who says, ‘I know him,’ and does not keep his commandments,
is a liar, and the truth is not in him”

Can you make your claim to be a Christian stick from the Bible? Does
your life manifest the fruits of repentance and faith? Do you possess
a life of attachment to Christ, obedience to Christ, and confession
of Christ? Is your behavior marked by adherence to the ways of
Christ? Not perfectly -no! Every day you must pray, “Forgive me my
trespasses as I forgive those who trespass against me.” But at the
same time you can also say, “For me to live is Christ” or, in the
words of the hymn,

Jesus I my cross have taken, all to leave and follow thee.

A true Christian follows Jesus. How many of us are true, biblical
Christians? I leave you to answer in the deep chambers of your own
mind and heart.

But remember, answer with an answer that you will be prepared to live
with for eternity. Be content with no answer but one that will find
you comfortable in death, and safe in the day of judgment.

 

Lesson plans December 8, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — A Relevant Old Soul @ 9:24 pm

 

to-do-list1Today, while I was looking through my lesson plans for homeschool, I had a revelation. How many times in my life do I try to live by my lesson plans.

I am a planner. Even if things are not written down and laid out in black and white, they are in my head. And my hubby would attest that I am no fun to be around if we are off of our plan or schedule. I justify these strict routine with many a psychological reasons but it all comes back to one… PRIDE!

Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you.” We often hone in on the prosper part of that verse and forget the very beginning. ” I know the plans..”

Why is it that we have to have our own lesson (life) plans. I wonder how many times I have been so focussed on getting my plans done that I have neglected to see the plan that he laid out for me. And how many times did I take the long way to something when had I rested in him it would have come without the trouble.

This is where we are so earthly minded. We are so focussed on all the things we have to get done that we forget who put us here and the plan he has for us.

We are so worried about ourselves and our goals being met that we forget that none of this really matters. We are merely passing through this earth on a mission to Glorify him. And my attitude when there is a kink in my little life plan, is definitely not God Glorifying. We have to remember that his plan is perfect. We do not have to plan and fix everything.

Having a plan is like telling the artist how to paint his masterpiece. You want to see the beautiful work of art and you want to enjoy its beauty but you want the artist to hurry along and do you it your way. I wonder what may be left out of that master piece?

Lord, I confess that I too often try to live my own life plan. I have so much to get done and I try to pencil my life into some book or schedule. Forgive me for not acknowledging your perfect plan and for not adjusting myself to your plan and your will.

 

Have you been “good” this year? December 6, 2008

Filed under: Everyday thoughts — A Relevant Old Soul @ 6:19 am

I know that the Santa thing is a touchy subject.  I also know that some people will read this blog and feel attacked regardless of how lightly I tread on the topic.  In our home we do not do Santa.  Our youngest son Logan (3), does not even know who Santa is.  He calls him a snowman.  There are many reasons for this but that is a topic for another post.  Today I wanted to explore something that I thought about the other day. 

It is no secret that our churches are losing members upon graduation from high school.  Kids brought up in church are not very likely to attend after high school.  I am not real sure on the number but I think it is like 80% of kids leave the church.  That is staggering.  It is also no secret that if you look at most “youth groups” today they will look identical to the world.  The girls will be half dressed and the guys will be after one thing.  They listen to Britney and watch the OC or whatever the new teenage soap opera is today.  They participate in casual dating and often times, casual sex just as their non christian counter parts.  How is it that they can attend youth retreats and conferences and come back full of fire and then return to the pit of worldliness the next Monday morning? 

So I wanted to do a correlation for us to see exactly what the “harmless” Santa truly is teaching our kids. 

Have you been a good girl or boy this year?  Wow, sounds a little works based that Santa does.  But beyond that, doesn’t Santa bring gifts regardless.  I mean have you ever heard of a parent not bring Santa presents for their children because they were too bad?  No.  Families say that you have to be good but then they give presents regardless.  Here is the lesson taught here….

Santa has a list and checks it twice to see who was good or bad.  But really it does not matter because I will get something from him anyway.  Sound familiar to anyone???? No.  Then how about our teenagers thinking they can act however they want and still get to heaven.  The “sinners prayer” has become their Santa.  All these kids are required to do is repeat a prayer and then act any way they choose and still get a reward of heaven. 

Why are young adults leaving the church?  Because all they know is Church.  They have a Santa -Jesus mentality.    They are being filled with feel good psychology and give me something mister theology and are never being told the TRUTH!  They are being given a false sense of what Christianity is really is. 

Just as Christmas has become about what presents we are getting.  We have turned Christianity into the same thing.  We have taught young adults that all they have to do is to pray a prayer and then receive heaven.  Its all about what God can do for them.  Its all about how he will help them and how he will do this or that for them.   Then just like Santa, they will get all these presents whether or not they are good. 

This is so very sad.  How this holiday has so badly tarnished our Christ.  Christmas is actually the complete opposite of that.  Christ gave up everything he had.  His place in the Holy Heavenly places to be born into a manger.  Christmas is a day to celebrate the birth of that precious sacrifice.  It is about what it costs not about what we get.    In fact the Christian walk is the same.  It is about dying to self and pursuing holiness not about what our God will give us if we obey him.  Whether you are in heaven or hell will you still worship him? 

Which Jesus are we teaching our children about.  Which Christmas, Which Christianity?  Whether or not you perpetuate the Santa Claus myth in your home, are you still perpetuating the myth of the Santa type Jesus?  We have got to put an end to this madness.  Just today, I heard a preacher on television say the little repititious sinners prayer and then told people to go read John if they prayed it.   I say we need to teaching our youth to read a little more 1John and find a REAL JESUS!

 

Got this article from a friend and had to share it. December 5, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — A Relevant Old Soul @ 7:20 am

Ok, this has got to be one of the best articles on this subject that I have ever read.  I went ahead and copied and pasted into here for those of you who do not get the whole tags and links thing.  I copied it from the Ligionere Website.  I hope you all enjoy it as much as I.

Santa Christ?

December 1, 2008 @ 7:45 AM  |  Posted By: Tim Challies
by Sinclair B. FergusonI took the hand of my toddler son (it was several decades ago now) as we made our way into the local shop on the small and remote Scottish island where earlier that year I had been installed as minister. It was Christmas week. The store was brightly decorated and a general air of excitement was abroad.Without warning, the conversations of the customers were brought to a halt by a questioning voice from beside me. My son’s upraised index finger pointed at a large cardboard Santa Claus. “Daddy, who is that funny-looking man?” he asked.

Amazement spread across the faces of the jostling shoppers; accusing glances were directed at me. Such shame–the minister’s son did not even recognize Santa Claus! What likelihood, then, of hearing good news in his preaching at the festive season?

Such experiences can make us bewail how the Western world gives itself over annually to its Claus-mass or commerce-mass. We celebrate a reworked pagan Saturnalia of epic proportions, one in which the only connection with the incarnation is semantic. Santa is worshiped, not the Savior; pilgrims go to the stores with credit cards, not to the manger with gifts. It is the feast of indulgence, not of the incarnation.

It is always easier to lament and critique the new paganism of secularism’s blatant idolatry than to see how easily the church — and we ourselves — twist or dilute the message of the incarnation in order to suit our own tastes. But, sadly, we have various ways of turning the Savior into a kind of Santa Claus.

Santa Claus Christianity
For one thing, in our worship at Christmas we may varnish the staggering truth of the incarnation with what is visually, audibly, and aesthetically pleasing. We confuse emotional pleasure — or worse, sentiment — with true adoration.

For another thing, we may denigrate our Lord with a Santa Claus Christology. How sadly common it is for the church to manufacture a Jesus who is a mirror refection of Santa Claus. He becomes Santa Christ.

Santa Christ is sometimes a Pelagian Jesus. Like Santa, he simply asks us whether we have been good. More exactly, since the assumption is that we are all naturally good, Santa Christ asks us whether we have been “good enough.” So just as Christmas dinner is simply the better dinner we really deserve, Jesus becomes a kind of added bonus who makes a good life even better. He is not seen as the Savior of helpless sinners.

Or Santa Christ may be a Semi-Pelagian Jesus — a slightly more sophisticated Jesus who, Santa-like, gives gifts to those who have already done the best they could! Thus, Jesus’ hand, like Santa’s sack, opens only when we can give an upper-percentile answer to the none-too-weighty probe, “Have you done your best this year?” The only difference from medieval theology here is that we do not use its Latin phraseology: facere quod in se est (to do what one is capable of doing on one’s own, or, in common parlance, “Heaven helps those who help themselves”).

Then again, Santa Christ may be a mystical Jesus, who, like Santa Claus, is important because of the good experiences we have when we think about him, irrespective of his historical reality. It doesn’t really matter whether the story is true or not; the important thing is the spirit of Santa Christ. For that matter, while it would spoil things to tell the children this, everyone can make up his or her own Santa Christ. As long as we have the right spirit of Santa Christ, all is well.

But Jesus is not to be identified with Santa Claus; worldly thinking — however much it employs Jesus-language–is not to be confused with biblical truth.

The Christ of Christmas
The Scriptures systematically strip away the veneer that covers the real truth of the Christmas story. Jesus did not come to add to our comforts. He did not come to help those who were already helping themselves or to fill life with more pleasant experiences. He came on a deliverance mission, to save sinners, and to do so He had to destroy the works of the Devil (Matt. 1:21; 1 John 3:8b).

Those whose lives were bound up with the events of the first Christmas did not find His coming an easy and pleasurable experience.

Mary and Joseph’s lives were turned upside down.

The shepherds’ night was frighteningly interrupted, and their futures potentially radically changed.

The magi faced all kinds of inconvenience and family separation.

Our Lord Himself, conceived before wedlock, born probably in a cave, would spend His early days as a refugee from the bloodthirsty and vindictive Herod (Matt. 2:13-21).

There is, therefore, an element in the Gospel narratives that stresses that the coming of Jesus is a disturbing event of the deepest proportions. It had to be thus, for He did not come merely to add something extra to life, but to deal with our spiritual insolvency and the debt of our sin. He was not conceived in the womb of Mary for those who have done their best, but for those who know that their best is “like filthy rags” (Isa. 64:6)–far from good enough–and that in their flesh there dwells no good thing (Rom. 7:18). He was not sent to be the source of good experiences, but to suffer the pangs of hell in order to be our Savior.

A Christian Christmas
The Christians who first began to celebrate the birth of the Savior saw this. Christmas for them was not (contrary to what is sometimes mistakenly said) simply adding a Christian veneer to a pagan festival–the Roman Saturnalia. They may have been doing what many Christians have done in marking Reformation Day (which happens to fall on Halloween), namely, committing themselves to a radical alternative to the world’s Saturnalia, refusing to be squeezed into its mold. They were determined to fix mind, heart, will, and strength exclusively on the Lord Jesus Christ. There was no confusion in their thinking between the world and the gospel, Saturnalia and Christmas, Santa Jesus and Christ Jesus. They were citizens of another empire altogether.

In fact, such was the malice evoked by their other-worldly devotion to Christ that during the persecutions under the Emperor Diocletian, some believers were murdered as they gathered to celebrate Christmas. What was their gross offense? Worship of the true Christ — incarnate, crucified, risen, glorified, and returning. They celebrated Him that day for giving His all for them, and as they did so, they gave their all for Him.

One Christmas Eve in my teenage years, I opened a book a friend had given to me as a present. I found myself so overwhelmed by its teaching on my recently found Savior that I began to shake with emotion at what had dawned on me: the world had not celebrated His coming, but rather had crucified Him.

Doubtless I was an impressionable teenager. But should it not cause us to tremble that “they crucified my Lord”? Or is that true only in song, not in reality? Are we not there when the world still crucifies Him in its own, often-subtle ways?

The truth is that unless the significance of what Christ did at the first Christmas shakes us, we can scarcely be said to have understood much of what it means, or of who He really is.

Who is He in yonder stall
At Whose feet the shepherds fall?
‘Tis the Lord! O wondrous story!
‘Tis the Lord! the King of glory!
At His feet we humbly fall,
Crown Him! Crown Him, Lord of all!

And we might add:

Who is He on yonder cross
Suffers for this dark world’s loss?
‘Tis the Lord! O wondrous story!
‘Tis the Lord! the King of glory!
At His feet we humbly fall,
Crown Him! Crown Him, Lord of all!

Let us not confuse Jesus Christ with Santa Claus.

*****

This article is excerpted from Dr. Ferguson’s book In Christ Alone. It can be purchased from the Ligonier Store.