Category Archives: Redemption

The Gospel Without Jargon

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Jargon is defined as special words or expressions that are used by a particular profession or group that are difficult for others to understand. This phenomenon is common in Christian circles, and is known as Christianese (in legal circles it’s called legalese, for example).

One of the common Christianese phrases I’ve heard, but never understood, is, “more of Him, and less of me.” What does that mean? The picture that comes to mind when I think about it is one of me turning into a round mass of jello on the floor when I become less and Jesus becomes more, kind of like someone who has no muscles, so they turn into a ball of flesh and become completely ineffectual.

I can’t figure out if it means I’m supposed to become invisible, or just what it means. If I’m invisible, then how can I, or God for that matter, anything get done ~ like witnessing, for example? Jesus isn’t going to come and do it Himself. He told us to do it. It’s called the Great Commission,

Jesus came and told his disciples, “I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth. Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” ~ Matthew 28:18-20, NLT.

It doesn’t say that Jesus will go out and make disciples, and take us with Him as He does it. It says that we are to go out and make disciples, and He will go with us. And if I’m invisible, I doubt that anyone will want to listen to anything I have to say, because they’ll be too busy running from me in terror because they’ll think I’m a ghost.

Then recently, one of my favorite Christian artists, Casting Crowns, came out with a new song, called Only Jesus, that showed me the answer to my problem. Below is one of the verses from the song that sorts it out for me:

Did I live the truth to the ones I love? // Was my life the proof that there is only one? // Whose name will last forever // Only Jesus.

And the chorus from the song reminds me of what’s most important:

And I, I don’t want to leave a legacy // I don’t care if they remember me // Only Jesus.

In other words, and this is where less of me and more of Him comes in, I want people to remember Jesus when they think of me now, and after I’m gone, as well. I can’t save anyone, or heal anyone, but Jesus can, and His name will last forever, while nothing I say or do will last beyond the minute I’ve said or done it. Jesus is the One to remember, not me.

ONLY JESUS!!

 

The Face of My Beloved

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There is nothing I desire more than meeting Jesus face to face. For me Philippians 1 and Philippians 3 say it best,

For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. ~ Philippians 1:21, NIV.

All I want is to know Christ and to experience the power of His resurrection, to share in His sufferings and become like Him in his death… ~ Philippians 3:10, GNT.

To stay here is to glorify God, and give witness to the saving grace and healing power of Jesus Christ. To die is far better, because then I would be where I most desire to be: in the presence of Jesus, meeting Him face to face.

There is nothing better!

 

Love, the Highest Ethic

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An ethic is defined as a set of moral principles, especially ones relating to or affirming a specified group, field, or form of conduct.

In Ravi Zacharias’ latest book, The Logic of God: 52 Christian Essentials for the Heart and Mind, which was released in April, he wrote,

…love is the supreme ethic. Where there is the possibility of love, there must be the reality of free will. Where there is the reality of free will, there will inevitably be the possibility of sin. Where there is sin, there is the need for a Savior. Where there is a Savior, there is the hope for redemption. Only in the Judeo-Christian worldview does this sequence find its total expression and answer.

~ Ravi Zacharias, The Logic of God: 52 Christian Essentials for the Heart and Mind, Zondervan, Grand Rapids, MI, 04/2019, pg 3.

I love this quote. I especially love the logic of it. It shows me that God is logical, in addition to all His other amazing attributes. He’s a God of love and He’s logical. How cool is that!

I’ve been on a kick about free will lately. I think the most important part of what Ravi Zacharias said here is the part about love, combined with the part about free will. Without love, free will is an impossibility, and without free will, human beings wouldn’t know how to love, because they’d be nothing more than robots, all of which means that free will and love are inextricably intertwined. And what follows after that is a kind of cascade of logic.

And then God brings it down to meet me where I live. God loved me so much that He gave me a free will so I could choose whether I wanted to love Him back, or reject His love. He could have said, I love you, and you will love Me back, and that’s the way it will be.

But if He’d done it that way, I wouldn’t have had a choice in the matter, and I would have been a love-robot, or a love-slave, loving God by rote. That wouldn’t have been real love, though, would it? That would be slavish obedience; Yes, Master, No, Master; not obeying because you adored Him so much that you would do anything for Him out of love.

God wanted humans to love Him freely, not because they had to, and not because He’d commanded them to. So He took a risk, a huge risk, and created every human being with a completely free will so they could make their own choices. And if that person chose to reject God and His love for them, then so be it. But if that human accepted God’s love, then he’d receive everything in Heaven and on earth that God had to offer.

The way I see it, God gave me the most incredible gift anyone could ever present to me, the gift of salvation. And I didn’t have to do anything at all to earn it. It was completely free. All I had to do was believe it was mine and receive it.

I knew I needed to be saved, desperately, but I couldn’t understand why God, Master of the Universe, Creator of all Things, would want to save me, probably the worst sinner ever, though if He wanted to do so I wouldn’t argue with Him. I’d just accept it. I’m not one to turn down free gifts! Not me!

Even at that, it took me many years before I could trust Him enough to believe that He meant what He’d said in His Word, because of all the lies my father (Harry) had told me. He had to abuse me because God hated me, and I was as ugly as if someone had thrown acid in my face were the two main ones, because they were a litany he repeated over and over and over again until they were ingrained in my nervous system. The guy in the white robe posing as God, sitting on the throne, who sometimes looked like Harry, telling the others what to do to me in the cult rituals, was the other big one. 

It took many, many years of consistently reading and studying the Bible before God was able to replace the poison and lies with the truth. But it did happen, and still is happening even today. God is still healing me, because there are times where I find myself falling back into old ways, and believing old lies. It doesn’t happen very often anymore, but it does happen from time to time. Now I know that God thinks I’m beautiful. That’s a truth I hold onto very tightly.

The upshot of it is that I’m incredibly grateful to God for everything He’s done for me. Not only has He saved me so that I’m able to know Him, and I get to go to Heaven when I die, the best double whammy ever, but He’s healed me ~ and is continuing to heal me ~ from the worst childhood ever. And if that wasn’t enough, He’s supplied my needs beyond all that I could ask or think. I never knew I could be this happy, or have this kind of peace or joy! My gratitude to Him makes me want to serve Him, makes me desire to love Him back, just because He’s been so good to me!

I know I still blow it, I still sin from time to time ~ far more often than I’d like. But when I do mess up, I pray that God will forgive me, because I value much too highly my close relationship with Him to want to stay in sin. Humans can’t help but sin, simply by the very fact that we’re human, but once we’re born-again, we have the Holy Spirit living inside us, and He helps us to not sin.

And that’s, once again, where our free will comes in. We can still make choices one way or the other. The Holy Spirit, being our Helper, aids and strengthens us, if we’ll take His assistance, to choose the right way. He’ll help us to avoid temptation,

The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure. ~ 1 Corinthians 10:13, NLT. 

Jesus called the Holy Spirit variously, the Comforter, the counselor, the advocate, and the helper, depending on the translation,

“When the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, that is the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, He will testify about Me… ~ John 15:26, NASB.

But we still have to make the choice to take the Holy Spirit’s assistance. I still have to make the choice to take His help, follow His advice, and sometimes I don’t, I’m ashamed to say.

Interestingly, I can still feel God’s Presence with me, even when I do sin. He never leaves me, He never forsakes me, just as He promised in His Word,

Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” ~ Hebrews 13:5, ESV.

It makes me want to try ever harder to not sin at all!

God so amazing!

Christmas Without Christ Is Just mas…

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What that means is if you remove the word “Christ” from the word “Christmas”, all you have left is “mas”, which isn’t even a word.

In other words, Christmas without Christ is just another day.

That is to say, Christmas without Christ is meaningless, and yet, more and more, people as well as businesses and institutions, are attempting to do that very thing: remove Christ from Christmas and turn it into something it was never intended to be. It makes me feel very sad that it’s happening, because, in doing that, people are missing out on the greatest blessing they could possibly imagine, if they would only receive it.

And all they have to do is acknowledge that Jesus, God’s amazing gift, is the real reason we celebrate Christmas. All you have to do is look at the word Christmas to see the truth of that. The word has nine letters, and “Christ” comprises two-thirds of them.

And for all the joy that Christmas is supposed to bring when its true meaning and purpose are understood, and when Jesus is brought in and involved as an integral part of its celebration (which I desire to do with my whole heart), every year at Christmastime I go through hell, because I feel all disjointed and fragmented and out of sorts ~ anything and everything but joyful.

I have some idea of why, but I’m not sure if what I know is everything about why, and even if it is, it doesn’t necessarily mean I’ll be able to deal with the holiday better. The way I’m dealing with it now is to do a whole lot of avoidance and escapist behaviors, and I don’t think it’s working.

Why can’t I just enjoy Christmas for what it is without all the turmoil and confusion? And “for what it is” means celebrating it as Jesus’ birthday as a human baby, as God incarnate, and God’s Gift of salvation to humanity. I’m beyond exhausted with all the confusion and inner tumult and chaos I go through every year. I just want it to be OVER WITH!!

I don’t know that I want to do what other people do around the holidays. You know, race around like a mad chicken trying to find the most expensive gifts for all my friends because the best way to celebrate Christmas is to spend as much money on each person as possible.

I don’t think so! Not going to happen!

Jesus will still be the reason for Christmas for me, because Christmas is still meaningless without Christ. It’s still just another day as far as I’m concerned, and I wouldn’t want it to be any other way.

Christmas, In All Its Wonderfulness, Which Is Why I Hate It.

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I hate Christmas. There, I said it. Sacrilege I know, but that’s how I feel.

There are reasons for the way I feel, mostly having to do with Harry and stuff he did to me when I was little.

For instance, when I was about five, I made an ashtray for him for Christmas. You know, one of those ashtrays made out of clay that little kids make in nursery school or kindergarten for their dads? Well, the one I made for Harry was rather large as ashtrays go, more like a bowl you put fruit in, and I painted it yellow with green spots. I was rather proud of that ashtray because I’d worked very hard on it, and all I wanted was for Harry to like it.

To my great misfortune, not only did he not like it, but he hated it. In fact he hated it so much that he smashed it, and then he raped me. In front of the family he gave marginal approval, but once everyone else was gone from the room, he told me it was the ugliest thing he’d ever seen, and he threw it on the floor so it broke into a thousand pieces. Then he dragged me into his and Mom’s bedroom and raped me.

It just occurred to me that his reaction was way over the top, and even my statement of it ~ that it was way over the top ~ is grossly understated. I mean, if you don’t like someone’s gift, you don’t have to react by breaking it and then beating up the person who gave it to you. If you don’t like it, just don’t use it.

I’m extremely grateful for God’s gift of Jesus Christ, for the fact that Jesus was willing, even glad, to divest Himself of His majesty and power as the Creator of the universe so He could assume human flesh as a baby in a manger, and live a sinless life so He could go to the Cross and save us from our sins.

What I hate is all the hypocrisy and folderol that goes with the holiday. People seem to have forgotten why we celebrate Christmas. All they care about anymore is seeing how much money they can spend on their spouse, or their brother, or their boss, or their dad, or their aunt, or their dog.

Their DOG, for goodness’ sake!

Or their cat. Same difference.

And then there’s those ridiculous ads for Lexus that they only show before Christmas. You know, the ones where they show someone getting a new Lexus for Christmas, with a huge, gigantic bow on the roof of the car. There are so many absurdities in those ads, the most apparent, of course, being the ginormous bow on top of the car. Another absurdity is the whole idea of just any ole schmo being able to purchase an expensive car like a Lexus, when most people are lucky to be able to buy a small economy car.

What CAN the Lexus people be THINKING!?! 

Oh, and don’t forget all the humungous light displays that are so popular now. ABC even has a show every year called The Great Christmas Light Fight that’s basically a contest throughout the country to see who can come up with the best Christmas light display, that has NOTHING, absolutely NOTHING to do with Jesus Christ. And tonight is this season’s first episode.

Oh joy!!

I don’t know but what there might be other issues I’m not aware of that also influence my feelings about the holidays. I wish I knew what they were. It feels like it would be easier to deal with present day realities if I knew what was in the past ~ kind of like the foundation of the past would make the present house easier to build.

Thankfully, I’m no longer experiencing the soul-killing depression I used to go through every holiday season, from the beginning of October through the middle of January. God seems to have healed me of that.

I can only hope that the issues continuing to hinder me from being able to enjoy Christmas for what it’s really about will be healed by the Lord. Then I’ll be able to accept those who celebrate it for other things, as well as commemorate it for the birth of Christ, which is the real reason we’re supposed to celebrate the holiday.

I can only hope.

Right!