Grace

Hi, My Name is Amber, and I’m a Recovering Sinner.

I know this may seem strange for some people, but there are times were I find myself addicted to my past. Unable to let go of the sins that God has already forgiven me for; running back to my vomit, and I don’t know why I expect anything to feel different than the last time. Has anyone else felt this way? Like no matter how deeply I know I’m forgiven, I keep looking back to that time and reliving the hurt? God gave me a word about that and I thought I’d share it here with you this morning.

For me, I’m going to have to look at myself like I’m in a recovery program. Almost like a rehab for Christians who have a hard time letting go of the past. So I’m going to slightly adapt the Twelve Step Program to work for the Recovering Sinner: Sinner’s Anonymous.

1. We admit we were powerless over sin—that our lives had become unmanageable.

I will admit that only God has the power over sin, and that my life is a mess when I try to do His job…

2. Come to believe that God can restore us to sanity.

I will to stop doubting that God can and will do a miracle in my life.

3. Make a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God.

I chose to turn over all of my past, good and bad, to God. Trusting Him with my life and my well being.

4. Make a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.

I will take stock of all the junk I keep picking back up and hold it up to His revealing light.

5. Admit to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.

I will finally confess that I have a hard time forgiving myself of my past and I will find someone I can call on to help me to remember that I’m a forgiven child of God.

6. Be entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.

I will be open and cooperate with God as He heals my heart.

7. Humbly ask Him to remove our shortcomings.

I will acknowledge that I am flesh and ask God to remove the thing that is in me that causes me to doubt His forgiveness.

8. Make a list of all persons we have harmed, and become willing to make amends to them all.

I will make a list of all the people my repeated doubt has hurt and apologize, as well as try to make things right.

9. Make direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.

I will be aware of anytime my doubt hurts someone and immediately apologize and try to make things right.

10. Continued to take personal inventory, and when we were wrong, promptly admitted it.

I will continue to be aware of my feelings and doubts, asking God to forgive me as soon as I do.

11. Seek through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understand Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.

I will continually seek God’s will for my life and the power to carry out His will through prayer and meditation on His Word.

12. Have had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we try to carry this message to sinners, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.

I will grow closer to God and Jesus through this process and reach others with His message of hope for the lost, and I will continue to practice these steps throughout my walk.

I have to believe that I’m not the only one who feels this way, so if you’re struggling with this too, know that you’re not alone. Reach out and quit trying to do this by yourself. That’s what the kingdom is all about, a support system. Lean on other strong Christians so you can grow strong enough to be leaned on one day…
x,
Amber

“New Life in Christ” by M. Larson

Maybe I should have that dead thing cut down, I thought.

Then one day I heard the mockingbird sing. Going out into my backyard, I saw him perched on the top of the highest branch of the dead apple tree, rendering his melodious repertoire to cheer the neighborhood.

No, I can’t have that tree cut down, I decided. That makes too good a bird perch. And whatever birds sit up there, I can see clearly and learn their different songs! So I continued to enjoy that tree. Though dead, it lived in a new way.

According to God’s Word, all of us are dead in sin before we are made alive with Christ by God who loves us (Ephesians 2:1-5). In that dead state true peace escapes us. We long for what we do not know. Some of us may even consider killing ourselves because life seems too chaotic and hopeless.

But when we call on the Lord to save us for Jesus’ sake, He reaches down and lifts us up and gives us a new life. Second Corinthians 5:11 tells us that when we are in Christ, we are new creatures. Old things are passed away; all things become new.

Even though we have been resurrected to new life in Christ, we sometimes fail to appropriate the benefits of that wonderful new life by not staying close to our Lord. Yet the good news is that our Lord is always near, and we can always get right with Him.

In God’s Word, David said it this way: “Lord, restore to me the joy of your salvation” (Psalm 51:12). And God did.

Some of those benefits of the new life in Christ are:

JOY. King David, in deep repentance, asked the Lord to restore to him the joy of His salvation (Psalm 51:12). Jesus promised to give us His joy, a supernatural experience that lifts our hearts to the heavenlies and puts a smile on our lips (John 15:11). It is within and is not dependent on our outer circumstances.

Peace. Jesus also promised us “the peace of God, which transcends all understanding” (Philippians 4:7), a peace that gives us strength through the severest trials.

Love. Jesus puts a love in our hearts, even for the unlovely, that shines out to others for Him and makes it possible for us to forgive others. (See 1 John 4:7-8).

Power. Jesus promised His followers the power of the Holy Spirit. (See Acts 1:8). King David, after asking for restoration, said, “Then I will teach transgressors your ways, and sinners will turn back to you” (Psalm 51:13). This power transforms us into soul winners.

Comfort. When we are right with the Lord, we are assured of the comfort of God in Christ whenever we need it. (See 2 Corinthians 1:3-5).

Assurance. When we’re walking with Jesus, we experience surety of this truth: “And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son” (1 John 5:11).

Prayers answered. First John 5:14-15 says, “…If we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. and if we know that he hears us–whatever we ask–we know that we have what we asked of him.”

Provision. The Apostle Paul, by inspiration of the Holy Spirit, assured the dedicated Christian at Philippi, “And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:19).

Father God, Restore to me the joy of my salvation today. Amen

Questions: Are you experiencing the power and the joy of the Holy Spirit in your life? Are you worried about your situation? How can one turn from worry to being thankful even in dire situations?

“A Psalm 143:7 Kinda Feeling” by A. Miller

Have you ever had a time in your life where you looked around and said, “Ok God, help me outta this funk or else I swear I’m gonna go bonkers!” Well, sitting in my dark living room at 3am, I find myself saying something along those lines; praying God will show me the purpose for all the trials and straight up funk going on all around me in this time of seasons greeting and holiday joy…

Psalm 143:7 says, “Come quickly, Lord, and answer me, for my depression deepens. Don’t turn away from me, or I will die.”

This verse couldn’t put it any better! Lord, I need an answer. I know I have no business asking for one, but I need it just the same.

With everything I’ve been through in my life here on earth, (the death of my father, my wreck of a marriage, my repentance and rocky road to recovering my wreck of a marriage, and a few life changing surgeries… Not to mention being a mom to three awesome and high spirited kids,) and all of it has given me my own personal perspective and relationship with my Lord.

I see God as a Daddy, I always have. It’s how I tend to interpret His Word and how I respond best to Him. So, every once in a while I find myself sitting in His lap, on His throne; the worlds problems put on hold, while He listens to my tearful complaining. The entire time He’s listening so intently, understanding in His eyes, gently rocking me in His arms.

He may or may not ever tell me His reasons for the trials and the pain, but I know He’ll always love me enough to stop the world just to hold me when I need Him to.

Thank you Lord, for loving me in a way that You know is perfect for me.

XOXO,
A.

“A Real, Honest Confession” by A. Miller

As I’m waiting in my car for a break in the rain so I can sprint into the school, I find myself reflecting on my crazy life and the current trials The Lord has seen fit to bless me with. I know they are for my benefit, to strengthen me. Now here comes the real, honest part; I am beginning to get a little tired of it. And I know I’m not alone in this. If Christians would stop worrying about how they look to other Christians and tell God the truth about how their feeling, they’d tell you the same thing!
Sometimes it’s okay to tell your Father that you’re tired. That you’d appreciate a brief break from all the drama, fighting and craziness of life as a Christian warrior and just enjoy being a child of the King once in a while!

Now before you think, “Oh my, she’s gone off the deep end and is doubting Gods power/will for her life!” Just stop. I haven’t, I’m just expressing my emotions about things that we all feel. I love my Father and trust He’s in control, I’m just opening a line of communication about the truth that life is hard and bottling up how you feel about your testing/trials only hurts you. God’s a big guy, He can handle your venting!

xoxo

“Dealing With Difficult People God’s Way” by Jack Zavada

Dealing with difficult people not only tests our faith in God, but it also puts our witness on display. One biblical figure who responded well to difficult people was David, who triumphed over many offensive characters to become king of Israel.

When he was only a teenager, David encountered one of the most intimidating types of difficult people—the bully. Bullies can be found in the workplace, at home, and in schools, and they usually frighten us with their physical strength, authority, or some other advantage.

Goliath was a giant Philistine warrior who had terrorized the entire Israelite army with his size and his skill as a fighter. No one dared to meet this bully in combat, until David showed up.

Before facing Goliath, David had to deal with a critic, his own brother Eliab, who said:

“I know how conceited you are and how wicked your heart is; you came down only to watch the battle.” (1 Samuel 17:28, NIV)

David ignored this critic because what Eliab said was a lie. That’s a good lesson for us. Turning his attention back to Goliath, David saw through the giant’s taunts. Even as a young shepherd, David understood what it meant to be a servant of God:

“All those here will know that it is not by sword or spear that the Lord saves; for the battle is the Lord’s, and he will give all of you into our hands.” (1 Samuel 17:47,NIV).

While we should not respond to bullies by hitting them in the head with a rock, we should remember that our strength is not in ourselves, but in the God who loves us. This can give us confidence to endure when our own resources are low.

Dealing with Difficult People: Time to Flee

Fighting a bully is not always the right course of action. Later, King Saul turned into a bully and chased David throughout the country, because Saul was jealous of him.

David chose to flee. Saul was the rightfully appointed king, and David would not battle him. He told Saul:

“And may the Lord avenge the wrongs you have done to me, but my hand will not touch you. As the old saying goes, ‘From evildoers come evil deeds, so my hand will not touch you.’ “(1 Samuel 24:12-13, NIV)

At times we must flee from a bully in the workplace, on the street, or in an abusive relationship. This is not cowardice. It’s wise to retreat when we are unable to protect ourselves. Trusting God to exact justice takes great faith, which David had. He knew when to act himself, and when to flee and turn the matter over to the Lord.

Dealing with Difficult People: Coping with the Angry

Later in David’s life, the Amalekites had attacked the village of Ziklag, carrying off the wives and children of David’s army. Scripture says David and his men wept until they had no strength left.

Understandably the men were angry, but instead of being mad at the Amalekites, they blamed David:

“David was greatly distressed because the men were talking of stoning him; each was bitter in spirit because of his sons and daughters.” (1 Samuel 30:6, NIV)

Often people take their anger out on us. Sometimes we deserve it, in which case an apology is needed, but usually the difficult person is frustrated in general and we are the handiest target. Striking back is not the solution:

“But David strengthened himself in the LORD his God.” (1 Samuel 30:6, NASB)

Turning to God when we’re attacked by an angry person gives us understanding, patience, and most of all, courage. Some suggest taking a deep breath or counting to ten, but the real answer is saying a quick prayer. David asked God what to do, was told to pursue the kidnappers, and he and his men rescued their families.

Dealing with angry people tests our witness. People are watching. We can lose our temper as well, or we can respond calmly and with love. David succeeded because he turned to the One stronger and wiser than himself. We can learn from his example.

Dealing with Difficult People: Looking in the Mirror

The most difficult person each of us has to deal with is our self. If we are honest enough to admit it, we cause ourselves more trouble than others do.

David was no different. He committed adultery with Bathsheba, then had her husband Uriah killed. When confronted with his crimes by Nathan the prophet, David admitted:

“I have sinned against the Lord.” (2 Samuel 12:13, NIV)

At times we need the help of a pastor or godly friend to help us see our situation clearly. In other cases, when we humbly ask God to show us the reason for our misery, he gently directs us to look in the mirror.

Then we need to do what David did: confess our sin to God and repent, knowing he always forgives and takes us back.

David had many faults, but he was the only person in the Bible God called “a man after my own heart.” (Acts 13:22, NIV) Why? Because David depended completely on God to direct his life, including dealing with difficult people.

We can’t control difficult people and we can’t change them, but with God’s guidance we can understand them better and find a way to cope with them.

“Where Does Your Help Come From?” by C. Poblete

“Look unto me and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth: for I am God, and there is none else.”
(Isaiah 45:22)

TO WHOM DOES GOD TELL US TO LOOK FOR SALVATION?

O, does it not lower the pride of man, when we hear the Lord say, “Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth?” It is not. “Look to your priest, and be ye saved:” if you did, there would be another god, and beside him there would be some one else. It is not “Look to yourself;” if so, then there would be a being who might arrogate some of the praise of salvation. But it is “Look unto me.”

How frequently you who are coming to Christ look to yourselves.

“O!” you say, “I do not repent enough.” That is looking to yourself.

“I do not believe enough.” That is looking to yourself.

“I am too unworthy.” That is looking to yourself.

“I cannot discover,” says another, “that I have any righteousness.” It is quite right to say that you have not any righteousness; but it is quite wrong to look for any.

THE LORD SAID, “LOOK UNTO ME.”

God will have you turn your eye off yourself and look unto him. The hardest thing in the world is to turn a man’s eye off himself; as long as he lives, he always has a predilection to turn his eyes inside, and look at himself; whereas God says, “Look unto me.” From the cross of Calvary, where the bleeding hands of Jesus drop mercy; from the Garden of Gethsemane, where the bleeding pores of the Saviour sweat pardons, the cry comes, “Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth.” From Calvary’s summit, where Jesus cries, “It is finished,” I hear a shout, “Look, and be saved.” But there comes a vile cry from our soul, “Nay, look to yourself! look to yourself!”

THERE IS NO HOPE IN SELF.

Ah, my hearer, look to yourself, and you will be damned. That certainly will come of it. As long as you look to yourself there is no hope for you. It is not a consideration of what you are, but a consideration of what God is, and what Christ is, that can save you. It is looking from yourself to Jesus. Oh! There are men that quite misunderstand the gospel; they think that righteousness qualifies them to come to Christ; whereas sin is the only qualification for a man to come to Jesus.

Good old Crisp says, “Righteousness keeps me from Christ: the whole have no need of a physician, but they that are sick. Sin makes me come to Jesus, when sin is felt; and, in coming to Christ, the more sin I have the more cause I have to hope for mercy.”

“MINE INIQUITY IS GREAT”

David said, and it was a strange thing, too, “Have mercy upon me, for mine iniquity is great.” But, David, why did not you say that it was little? Because, David knew that the bigger his sins were, the better reason for asking mercy. The more vile a man is, the more eagerly I invite him to believe in Jesus. A sense of sin is all we have to look for as ministers. We preach to sinners; and let us know that a man will take the title of sinner to himself, and we then say to him, “Look unto Christ, and ye shall be saved.” “Look,” this is all he demands of you, and even this he gives to you. If you look to yourself you are damned; you are a vile miscreant, filled with loathsomeness, corrupt and corrupting others.

BUT LOOK HERE!

Do you see that man hanging on the cross? Do you behold his agonized head dropping meekly down upon his breast? Do you see that thorny crown, causing drops of blood to trickle down his cheeks? Do you see his hands pierced and rent, and his blessed feet, supporting the weight of his own frame, rent well-rent almost in twain with the cruel nails? Sinner! do you hear him shriek, “Eloi, Eloi, lama sabbacthani?” Do you hear him cry, “It is finished”? Do you see his head hang down in death? Do you see that side pierced with the spear, and the body taken from the cross?

O, COME THOU HITHER!

Those hands were nailed for you; those feet gushed gore for you; that side was opened wide for you; and if you want to know how you can find mercy, there it is. “Look!” “Look unto me!” Look no longer to Moses. Look no longer to Sinai.

Come and look to Calvary, to Calvary’s victim, and to Joseph’s grave.

And look yonder, to the man who near the throne sits with his Father, crowned with light and immortality. “Look, sinner,” he says, this morning, to you, “Look unto me, and be ye saved.” It is in this way God teaches that there is none beside him; because he makes us look entirely to him, and utterly away from ourselves.

(adapted from a sermon delivered by Charles Spurgeon on January 6, 1856 – available at the Blue Letter Bible).

“Come Boldly to the Throne of Grace” by Chris Poblete

“Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.”
(Hebrews 4:16)

“Therefore!” because we have “such an High Priest,” touched with the feeling of our infirmities, and in all points tempted like as we are (Hbr 4:14-15); because He is “a Priest upon His throne,” ever living, with His royal power to save to the uttermost, and His priestly power to make intercession: “let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace” (Hbr 4:16).

BOLDNESS AND FAITH GO TOGETHER; FEAR AND UNBELIEF GO TOGETHER.

“If ye will not believe, surely ye shall not be established” (Isa 7:9). It is always want of faith that is at the bottom of all fear. “Why are ye fearful?” is the question for those “of little faith” (Mat 8:26). So, in order to come boldly, and therefore joyfully, all we need is more faith in the Great High Priest who sits upon the throne of grace.

FAITH IS A GIFT FROM GOD.

Now, do not sigh, “Ah, I wish I had more faith!” It will not come to you by languid lamentations about your want of faith (Eph 2:8). “It is the gift of God.” And if thou knewest this gift of God, and who it is that only waits to be inquired of, that He may give it thee, surely thou wouldst ask of Him! For He giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not, not even with all your neglect of Him and His gifts.

Just ask! and He says, “It shall be given you.” (Mat 7:7) “Ye have not, because ye ask not.”

And let the least glimmer of dawning faith in your heart lead you to go on asking, and to pray continually, “Lord, increase our faith.” (Luk 17:5) Then you will be able to come boldly; for “in Christ Jesus our Lord…we have boldness and access with confidence by the faith of Him.”

PEOPLE DO NOT COME FOR WHAT THEY DO NOT WANT.

Until the Holy Spirit shows us our need of mercy, and puts reality into the Litany prayer, “Have mercy upon us miserable sinners,” we shall never come to the throne of grace to obtain mercy.

“He that into God’s kingdom comes,
Must enter by this door.”

So, if you have never yet felt that you could sincerely say, “God be merciful to me a sinner” (or, as the Greek has it more emphatically, “to me, the sinner”), (Luk 18:13) and therefore have never yet felt particularly anxious to come to the throne of grace to obtain it, I would urgently entreat you to pray, “Lord, show me myself!” When the Holy Spirit answers that prayer, you will be eager (Luk 10:42) enough to come and obtain mercy. It will be the one thing then that you will be particularly anxious about.

OBTAINING MERCY COMES FIRST; THEN FINDING GRACE TO HELP IN TIME OF NEED.

You cannot reverse God’s order. You will not find grace to help in time of need till you have sought and found mercy to save. You have no right to reckon on God’s help and protection and guidance, and all the other splendid privileges which He promises to “the children of God by faith in Jesus Christ” (Gal 3:26), until you have this first blessing, the mercy of God in Christ Jesus; for it is “in” Jesus Christ that all the promises of God are yea, and Amen. But He is “rich in mercy,” and “delighteth in mercy.” All who have come to the throne of grace for it, “are now the people of God, which had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy.” And then no less surely will they, and do they, “find grace to help in every time of need.”

“Let us therefore come boldly!”

Behold the throne of grace!
The promise calls me near:
There Jesus shows a smiling face,
And waits to answer prayer.
My soul, ask what thou wilt,
Thou canst not be too bold:
Since His own blood for thee He spilt,
What else can He withhold?
—John Newton

Pity Party

Self-pity is a common temptation faced by many homeschooling parents. After all, we have such a heavy burden to bear, right? If the daily duties of homeschooling are not enough, we also face ridicule and a lack of appreciation for the hard work of teaching our children. Our martyr syndrome assumes we’re the only ones who really care about our children’s education. Foolishly we say, “No one else sacrifices or suffers for what they believe like we do.” Sadly, we actually believe these lies from Satan and sink into homeschooling despair because of them.

God doesn’t want us to feel sorry for ourselves, and He teaches us that lesson with the stories of two pouting prophets in the Bible. Consider Elijah and the great demonstration of God’s power at Mount Carmel. When Elijah prayed, the Lord proved Himself mighty to the prophets of Baal (1 Kings 18:20-39). Forgetting what God had just done, Elijah ran for his life to Mount Horeb to hide in a cave because the evil Queen Jezebel threatened him. When God asked why he was there, Elijah claimed, “And I, even I only, am left; and they seek my life, to take it away” (1 Kings 19:14b). Then, there was Jonah who preached to the city of Nineveh and watched as the entire population repented of their sins. Jonah became so angry at God for sparing them that he said, “It is better for me to die than to live” (Jonah 4:3b). Both these prophets went from tremendous highs to the depths of despair as they felt sorry for themselves and forgot God’s deliverance.

What about you? Are you having a one-person pity party to celebrate your homeschooling difficulties? Why be like a foolish prophet who forgets the mighty miracles of God’s blessings? Rejoice instead in the precious opportunity God has given you to teach your children. Enjoy the wonderful gift of having fun together as a family. After experiencing the joys of homeschooling, why not throw a different party tonight and celebrate all that God has done for you?

Lord, I praise You for the love You show me each day. I am so thankful to be my children’s teacher and rejoice in the blessings of homeschooling. I recommit my heart and thoughts to You today. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

“A Christian View of Marriage” by Brian Michael Steck

We stand in a moment of history where decisions are being made which influence our culture, shape our future and define our truths. What is a biblical view of Marriage as it pertains to homosexuality? What should we think about the idea of homosexual marriage and how should a follower of Christ respond?

I don’t expect that all or even most should share my views. Our U.S. and global culture has been on long road of divergence from biblical values. Many of the landscapes we observe now from our viewpoint in time are a result of decisions made years ago which have slowly been eroding our understanding of marriage.

The growing number of divorces within the church and the general absence of voice from the pulpit has both left our congregations untrained in biblical truth on homosexuality, and given the society around us a poor picture of marriage as God intended it.
Why is marriage important to a Christian?

Marriage fulfills a number of functions. For the Christian, these functions are primary:

First and foremost, Godly marriage is given as the most accurate picture of Christ and the Church. From the current viewpoint, many marriages are dysfunctional and falling apart, so subsequently, our view of God is marred. However, a marriage between a man and woman, where the man acts as the head of the household and both man and woman play unique roles and seek to serve the needs of one another, is a depiction of our relationship with Christ. “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.” (Eph. 5:25)

Subscribing the responsibility of “marriage” to homosexual relationships distorts this picture, and muddies our view and holy fear of God and heterosexual marriage.

Secondly, marriage serves to raise healthy families and influence society. While this has also been disguised over the last several decades, healthy marriages raise healthy families.

Fathers impart character, identity and masculinity to their sons. Daughters receive their self-worth and identity as a woman from their fathers. Mothers nurture sons during early years and teach daughters the value of modesty and femininity. Christian and secular psychologists today are discovering and agreeing that the mother and father each play specific, necessary roles in parenting and raising children.
Thirdly, marriage is the primary God-given means for procreation. God commanded Adam to “be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it” (Gen. 1:28) and provided him with a “suitable helper”, Eve (Gen 2:18).

It is a natural function of a healthy marriage, to engage in sexual intercourse, which in turn produces offspring. No other combination of man, woman or animal has the blessing of being fruitful and multiplying. Despite what our culture would have us believe, Children, biblically speaking, are a gift from God.

If, as a society, we bestow the title of “marriage” on any long-term relationship other than a man and a woman, we undoubtedly fail to fulfill these three primary functions. The purpose is lost and the system breaks down.

That’s why marriage is important to the Christian.

Why should the Christian’s view of marriage, or anything else for that matter, be of importance to our society?

There is no prominent reason why society should care what Christian’s think about marriage or any other issue, except that it is essential that we, as a society, come to grips with whether we believe in an absolute truth or not. Does any value deserve to be upheld? By the look of things around us, no — every man is right in his own eyes. Yet, if there is no final yardstick or ruler by which we judge our morality, we fall prey to endless depravity, disorder and pain.

If truth is self-defined, then who is to say that a 30-year old man should not be allowed to have sex with a 13-year old girl? By what set of morals do we decide whether it is right or wrong to marry an animal because that is my sexual preference, or a grown man with a young boy? If sexual preference or mere sentiment are the defining basis for morality, then we are working with a moving scale. In that case, would I not be right to defend my equality? I think so.

Yet, our culture has looked at sexual relations with minors, bestiality or sodomy as wrong and unnatural? Why?
Is it not that there are underlying and inherent truths that we must face and agree upon? Could there be an absolute truth on the subject?

I believe that our culture must make a decision, either to accept that there are absolute truths which define our basis for morality and the laws that govern it, or to deny an absolute truth and let each man govern himself. There is either truth, or there is not — there is no in-between. “A person may think their own ways are right, but the LORD weighs the heart.” (Prov. 21:2)

How must followers of Christ respond to homosexual marriage?

Our primary desire should be to glorify God and usher His Kingdom here on earth, both by posturing our hearts and lives toward Him, as well as modeling Christ and inviting others into an eternal relationship with God. We are on earth to act as God’s redemptive agents here on earth, and God is at work to return all things to their proper order.

We must follow Christ’s example and seek to love others sacrificially. We must model healthy marriages, because they reflect God’s intended relationship between Christ and the church. We must pray and acquire the heart of the Father. We must utilize the platforms and gifts God has given us to bring His Kingdom and fulfill the will of God.

In short (because it’s easier to remember short things):
Pray
Love
Act

Pray for God’s will to be done, that we acquire the heart of the Father and that His Kingdom come. Love sacrificially and with wisdom. Love is not an excuse for immorality or relativism. “The LORD disciplines those he loves, as a father the son he delights in.” (Prov. 3:12)

Act on the morals and commands of the Lord. We are not merely bystanders floating along by the currents of society. “If you love me, keep my commands.” (John 14:15)

It is futile and foolish for a government to believe they may define laws and expect that all men will, at all times, agree and obey them. Not every moral value must be upheld by a law; the Jewish people tried that and have found it impossible to keep them all. For that reason, grace abounds in Christ.

That being said, our laws must originate from some view of morality, or our relativism will guide us into utter lawlessness.

It is one thing for our government to grant tax benefits to homosexual couples on the basis of equality. No man, in their right mind, can argue that a homosexual couple does not have feelings for one another. That is absurd. They can argue, however, that the privilege and title of “marriage” originated from biblical values, and is defined as a relationship between a man and woman.

A man cannot assume the title of “policeman” simply on the basis of equality — the role of a police officer is unique, carries with it particular responsibilities and is bestowed by a higher authority. Nor can a man choose to marry a child on that same basis. While, in their eyes, they may have every right to assume that title or fulfill that role, there are other laws governing the world they live in which prohibit this, for the benefit of the entire society.
What the government decides to do with tax code and same-sex unions is one issue. What they decide to do with the role and responsibility of “marriage” is quite another — one that we, as Christians, should be willing to stand for.

Homosexual marriage is not a matter of equality. As humans we are all created equal in value — not necessarily role or function — but certainly value. The battle to hold “marriage being solely between a man and a woman” is about protecting a God-given role and responsibility.

Progressive Santification

What is progressive sanctification?

Progressive sanctification is the process in a Christian’s life in which he or she is made progressively more holy. The word “sanctify” means to “set apart, make holy.” Sanctification has three aspects: (1) Positional sanctification, (2) Progressive sanctification, and (3) Ultimate sanctification.

Positional sanctification is the fact that God declares a Christian to be absolutely holy the moment he or she believes in Jesus Christ. When God looks at a Christian, He sees the righteousness and holiness of Christ. Ultimate sanctification is what occurs at death, when a Christian is absolutely and permanently free from the very presence of sin and is perfected in God’s sight. 1 John 3:2 describes ultimate sanctification, “Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when He appears, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is.” So, progressive sanctification is the process of taking what we are positionally, and what we will be ultimately – and progressively making it reality in our Christian life.

In 1 Corinthians 1:2, the Apostle Paul describes the relationship between positional sanctification and progressive sanctification, “To the church of God in Corinth, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus and called to be holy…” Christians are both “sanctified in Christ Jesus” and “called to be holy.” The Greek words for “sanctified” and “holy” are from the same root word. A Christian is holy and called to be holy at the same time.

The process of progressive sanctification is described in Galatians 5:19-23. Progressive sanctification is the journey of producing less and less of the acts of the sinful nature (Galatians 5:19-21) and more and more of the fruit of the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23). Progressive sanctification is a process empowered by the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 5:18) and enabled through prayer and the study of God’s Word. 2 Timothy 3:16-17 tells us, “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.”

The Bible declares, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come” (2 Corinthians 5:17)! Progressive sanctification is the calling of every Christian. We are all called to become more and more like Jesus Christ. 1 Peter 1:15-16 reminds us, “But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy.” It should be our goal each and every day to become more set apart for God and His purposes.