You Look Hungry

https://www.podbean.com/media/share/pb-tvdqd-bf1327

You’re looking hungry! Have a seat at the table to hear about the Word our souls can feast on. We discuss: What is the Bible? Why can we trust it? Do we really need to read it – how much, and how can we? This may seem elementary to some, but see the feast the Lord has given us in fresh light and renew your craving!

Make sure to listen to the end, as we announce a super amazing PRIZE! You don’t want to miss out on this!

Christ: Our Answer to Victimhood Mentality

This past week, Betsy and I researched the victimhood mentality that has grown to full bloom in our culture at large. We see it in our interactions throughout the day, when insignificant slights (purposeful or accidental) are taken as grandiose insults to our personal character or group in which we identify. In these slights, we often seek out the public to validate our “victimization.” We turn to social media or the immediate witnesses to our “crime” to engage in our piling on of sympathy and outrage. And we feel good about it, feeling as though our victimization has given us a special kind of righteousness. A righteousness that can stomp our oppressors into the dirt and lift us up as the victor. All while making a public spectacle. This mentality has even invaded the grounds of the local church body. We often consider our various “victim” status as a source of pride and/or righteousness, destroying the very relationships we are to nourish and seek to serve.

 

No matter if our victimhood is developed by a genuine victimization or just one of our own imagining, we can have hope in Christ. Praise the Lord.

 

This week we remembered that Christ offered Himself up as a sacrifice, laying His life down for the redemption of His people. In a sense, He was the only true “victim” that has ever walked the earth – because He was completely innocent, yet endured the just punishment for His people’s sins. However, he willingly laid his life down, out of love. Even more so, He was raised three days later, securing our victory over death and sin.

 

So how does this relate to the victimhood mentality of our day and age?

 

  1. We don’t need to fashion for ourselves “fig leaves” to cover our shame. Christ is our covering

 

In our search for righteousness, we attempt to procure our own in the form of victim righteousness. We stomp over others, at any and every mistake/slight that is in our direction, to lift ourselves up. But with Christ’s righteousness applied to our own guilt and shame – our offenses that were toward a holy, perfect, and good God – we can rest from our scrambling. We can lift others up to see the righteousness we have been given in Christ. A righteousness that we could never earn by our works or by our claim to victimization.

 

      2. We have hope in the victory of Christ

 

When we are truly victimized; whether by circumstances, evilness in the world, or our own sinful nature, we have an everlasting hope in Christ. We can rest knowing that our own wrongs won’t be punished on us for eternity, because if we are in Christ, our punishment has been absorbed by Him on the cross. We also know that whatever hurt we experience in this life, no matter how grand or painful, we will be glorified – wholly renewed in our mind and bodies. When we are resurrected to life with Him, we will have no tears, no sin, no hurts.

 

     3. We get to answer evil with love and justice

 

Because of Christ’s work on the cross, we are gifted with the Holy Spirit. He conforms us to Christ’s image. A character that doesn’t revile back, but sacrifices his life for his friends. When evil is done to us, we don’t have to worry if the government, the public, or ourselves can handle dealing just punishment. We know that God is sovereign and just. He is trustworthy and punishes all wickedness – either in the unrepentant sinner in eternity or for the repentant, on His Son. Because of this, we get to focus on showing His great love – to which we have been recipients.

 

So family, I entreat you to trust Him who judges rightly, and also who forgives our iniquities against Him. Run to Christ. Seek refuge in His work and His righteousness. Trust his justice and cover a multitude of sins in love, as He has done for you.

 

Blessings in Christ,

Michelle

 

The Rotten Fruit of Anger

As a woman, and as a Mom, one descriptor I never thought I would have for myself is angry. But anger is a sin that I battle, and sometimes let rule over me. And if I am to be really transparent, this battle occurs on a daily basis.

I wanted to write about how we have a culture of anger and how that produces angry people. But if I am to be wise in my understanding, I should look to scripture. And scripture says that it’s not what goes into a man, but what comes out of the man which defiles him (Mark 7:15). We don’t need any help being angry, because in our sin nature, we already are. We have an anger problem stemming from the heart. The very first sin we see, after Adam and Eve are exiled from Eden, is the murder of Abel. It’s no surprise that Scripture tells us if we have anger in our heart toward our brother that we are guilty of murder (1Jn. 3:15). 

Now, I can make a lot of legitimate excuses why I get angry: I’m tired, I have needy children, I deal with diagnosed anxiety, etc. However, if I am to really examine the reason why I am angry, it is not anything outside of my being – as we have seen scripture say already – it is because of sin. And that sin is pride. In my pride, I want things to be a certain way. I have a constant desire to control other people and situations. I want people to think a certain way of me. I want to feel a certain way about myself. All of these are rooted in pride and express themselves in anger. Sometimes it’s bubbling under the surface anger, which looks like being snippy or short with my children and husband. Other times it’s flying off the handle, can’t breathe, can’t think, can’t speak without yelling kind of anger. All of it sinful. None of it glorifying to God. 

We know that anger is a secondary emotion (thank you brief, but valuable, masters level counseling courses) that is not only played out in us, but God as well. God shows His wrath as a secondary characteristic to His holiness. This to say, that God is not characterized by His wrath, but by His holiness, and a holy God must take action against sin and evil. This action against sin and evil is His righteous, and just, wrath. 

How I could ever justify my anger as being righteous (in how I daily display it) is laughable. Showing anger toward my children, husband, or whomever has the pleasure of crossing my path, is not displaying righteous anger. What it is displaying is how little I consider the holiness of God. How little I consider the penalty that Jesus willingly paid for my sinful anger.

Do you know how much I really deserve to be angry? Zero. Why? Because nothing that is done to me, or that inconveniences me, or that makes me anxious, is against an innocent me. It is right to be angry about injustice. It is right to be angry about evil in the world. It is not right to be angry about an offense toward myself. I am not an innocent party. I am guilty before God. Even in my grumbling, I grumble against God – not man. 

However, do you know who was innocent? Jesus. Jesus was completely innocent and yet declared guilty. He took on my guilt before a holy God and He imputed his righteousness to me. He didn’t revile back when he was reviled by sinners who sought to murder Him (1Peter 2:23). Father God was pleased to crush Jesus as a perfect sacrifice for sin – because He became sin for us (Is 53:10). 

You see, the person who should have been angry – and rightfully so – was Jesus. He should’ve been angry toward the people who betrayed Him, the disciples who abandoned Him, the people who wrongfully accused Him and tortured Him. He was the only innocent person who ever walked the Earth. And yet, the only anger we see from Him, is anger at sin against God and its effects on people. Not against the wrong done to Him while on Earth. Can you see the difference? I hope so.

We have no right to be angry. We aren’t innocent. We are deserving of God’s righteous wrath toward us for our sin against Him. Not only that, if you are a believer, you are acquitted from your guilt before God. How can we, who have been forgiven of so much, not dispel our anger for relatively minor offenses?  And if you see this reality, but still struggle with the sin of anger, we can know that we have been gifted with the Holy Spirit. Jesus paid the penalty for our sin, and also secured our sanctification by the Spirit’s work in us (Phil. 1:6). 

Through His work, we can have the fruit of the Spirit bearing in our lives – which is so very contrary to anger: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control (Gal 5:22-23). In Him we get to be transformed into Christ’s likeness. And we already saw how glorious He was in response to the wrong done to Him. 

We, angry folk, have hope. I pray for you and for me, that we would admit our guilt before God – that we have been wrongfully angry. That we try to protect our pride by being angry toward others. That we would be so thankful for the penalty that was due us, for the innumerous sins against God (including anger) that we have committed, but is now washed away by the blood of Christ. That we would thank God for holding His wrath and letting it build up, only to spare us and pour it out on His innocent Son. I pray that we would trust the Spirit’s work in sanctification and respond in a new fervor for killing our sinful anger. I pray all this for you and I, in Jesus’ great and wonderful name. 

Blessings in Christ,

Michelle 

A Mask of Nominal Christianity

The nature of Christ’s salvation is woefully misrepresented by the present-day evangelist. He announces a savior from hell rather than a savior from sin. And that is why so many are fatally deceived, for there are multitudes who wish to escape the Lake of Fire who have no desire to be delivered from their carnality and their worldliness.” – A.W. Pink

Before I came to true repentance and salvation in Jesus Christ, I was wearing a mask. At least it felt that way. I was living a life just for show. I attended all the church things, I was heavily involved and even raised my hands during worship, but I was wearing the mask of nominal Christianity. Jesus wasn’t the Lord of my life, and He was not first in anything I did. I was willfully disobedient in my heart. Outwardly, things looked good, but I was bound for hell. I’ll never stop thanking God for pursuing and rescuing me from that darkness, even when I didn’t know that’s where I was headed. 

I know that I’m not the only person who has lived that life. I’m afraid that there are some who are content to live this way. 

“But when anything is exposed by the light, it becomes visible, for anything that becomes visible is light. 

Therefore it says, 

‘Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead. And Christ will shine on you.’”

Ephesians 5:13-14

On this week’s episode we discussed nominal Christianity and what it looks like, but more importantly, what God thinks about it. There are many who claim Christianity, but aren’t truly living it. They may think that the mere outward appearance of being moral is enough, but they are living in sin and darkness. They live only for themselves and have no desire to obey God’s Word. There is no true salvation in this. Only belief in Christ’s righteousness on our behalf (Phil 3:9), and Him as our propitiation for sin before God (1 Jn 2:2), can we be saved. Furthermore, those who are self-deceived could be sitting in the seat beside us in our churches. I know, because that was me.

We also covered what the next steps should be if we think someone we love is living in deception. Confronting people is never easy – even when you are approaching it with gentleness, but we are called to make disciples not mere church attendees (Matt. 28:18-20). If they are self-deceived, then they are bound for hell. If we truly love people, then we won’t sit idly by.

These 9 questions, by Pastor Tim Keller, are a great starting point into this important conversation. Not only to ask those around us, but also to ask ourselves. 

  • How real has God been this week to your heart?
  • How clear and vivid is your assurance and certainty of God’s forgiveness and fatherly love? To what degree is that real to you?
  • Are you having any particular seasons of delight in God and sensing Him in your life?
  • Have you been finding scripture to be alive and active? Instead of just being a book does it feel like it’s coming after you and searching you?
  • Are you finding certain biblical promises precious and encouraging? Which ones?
  • Are you finding that God’s challenging you or calling you to something through the Word? In what ways?
  • Are you finding God’s grace more glorious and moving now than you have in the past?
  • Are you conscious of the evil of your heart and in response a growing dependence on and grasp of the mercy of God? 

Most importantly pray for the nominal Christians in your church. Pray they come to find true salvation and repentance. Pray for all professing Christians.

As our culture continues to grow in hostility toward Christianity and the truth, we need to be prepared to suffer well and encourage one another in the Lord, so that we all may say:

“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.” (2 Timothy 4:7-8)

In Christ,

Betsy

Nominal Christianity

https://www.podbean.com/media/share/pb-q9fx2-bc5415

This week Michelle and Betsy tackle the subject of nominal Christianity. What does nominal Christianity mean and what does it look like? What should we do if we suspect a loved one is living this life? They share a but of their testimonies and how this subject hit them close to home. More importantly, Michelle and Betsy dig into the bible to see what it says about making Jesus the Lord of your life and what true salvation looks like.

The Universal Call to Evangelize

The “E” word. Maybe you know what I’m talking about. That word that sometimes makes Christians cringe or instantly makes us sweat. Or maybe that’s just me. A simple word that bears a heavy weight. How the heck do we do it and do it well? Do we need to do it? It’s intimidating at times. It’s difficult. It can be extremely awkward.

I am talking about…drumroll please…evangelism. (cue the cringe!)

I will be the last person to tell you that I share the Gospel every single time there is an opportunity to and that I am bold in my sharing. I become sweaty and stutter and my mind goes blank. So hey, this is a real article from a person who understands the urgency but difficulty of this topic. In these next few paragraphs, my desire is nothing more than to challenge you and encourage you as you read along. Read these next few paragraphs with honest reflection, prayer, and grace, because that is exactly what I am doing as I write them. 

Let’s first shed some light on a few reasons why we don’t share the Gospel:

We are scared. 

We don’t think we have enough “Bible knowledge”. 

We lack compassion. 

Can you relate to any of the three? I sure can. However, I must say (with love) these are terrible excuses that we have conjured up for why some of us do not share the Gospel. I know that we may fear ruining friendships, embarrassing ourselves, or rejection. We may be fearful of stepping over some kind line or boundary, but God has a lot to say about fear. God told us in His Word that He has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind (2 Timothy 1:7). The God of the universe has given us a spirit of power, the SAME power that allowed Jesus to hop up out of the grave. COME ON! Can I get an amen!? This truth should rock us and give us confidence that we are not alone when we want to share the Gospel with someone and that we have no reason to be afraid of anything or anyone! Do you trust that this verse is true, and more specifically, true for you?

Maybe we don’t think we know the Bible well enough to share with someone. I’ve been there. When I worked overseas, people who had never heard the Gospel before asked me some really difficult questions and often times my “I really don’t know” answer felt beyond inadequate. Take heart, my friends. God did not command us to share the Gospel perfectly! But He did command us to make disciples of all nations (Matthew 28:19-20). How do we do that when we are sitting on the sidelines? God gave us His Holy Word so that we could get to know His heart and Truth. If you don’t think you know enough “Bible knowledge”, then dare I say get to know the Bible. Dive in and discover little nuggets of truth you can use when you share with someone. Spend time getting to know the heart of God and I guarantee you that His heart and desires, with prayer, will become yours too. 

Or, maybe you don’t share the Gospel because you simply lack compassion. You don’t see people as lost souls heading straight to an eternity separated from God. You see them just as the rest of the world sees them. You don’t remember what it felt like when you had no hope. When you were heading straight to hell and God came and opened your heart to see Him for who He really is and the free gift He was offering. I heard the Gospel for the first time through a few women who were willing to share it with me. God did not speak audibly to me or send signs that I should be a Christian. He brought women in my life who saw me as someone in need of hope and a Savior. 

I have seen these three reasons and many more in my own life, but at the same time I have seen God’s awesome grace too. I have seen my fumbled up explanations, by God’s grace, get through to someone’s heart. I have seen fear hold me back and then God so graciously provided another opportunity. I have seen my “I really don’t know” turn into the both of us reading God’s Word together to figure it out. How cool is it that God so graciously allows us to be a part of His redemptive work in the world, even when we stink at it?

Some practical tips:

  1. Build relationships and be intentional. Be real about who you are and love and serve those you are building a relationship with. Don’t treat people as projects. Be genuine and the opportunities to share will follow.
  2. Pray. Pray for your heart. Pray for compassion and a sense of urgency. Pray for the world, your neighbors, coworkers, family. Pray for opportunities. Pray for wisdom and the words to say when they need to be said.
  3. Be genuine. As I said before, be authentic. Don’t hide struggles or pretend to be happy all the time. Nonbelievers need to see that you aren’t perfect, and that Jesus accepts you and will continue to grow you. 
  4. Don’t force anything. Pray for opportunities, but don’t force sharing the Gospel. It won’t feel meaningful or authentic. 
  5. Share your testimony. One easy way to share the Gospel is being willing to share your testimony with those you are building a relationship with and loving on. Sharing what God has done in your life is a sweet way to show someone the heart of God. 

My challenge is simply this: Jesus wasn’t a “love God and that’s it” kind of guy. The greatest commandment in Scripture states that we are to love God and love our neighbor as ourselves. Jesus loved God and was completely obedient to Him. So, He went out and told others about His Father. He fed people, He healed people, He loved people. If we aren’t following the example Jesus set, then what are we doing?

Call of the Gospel: Overseas

https://www.podbean.com/media/share/pb-rj43q-bb7ef9

Michelle and Betsy have a very special guest on this week’s episode! “Leah” (not her real name, btw) joins the gals to talk about her overseas work in China and how she lives out the gospel in a different culture, in a different language with so many challenges ahead of her. You’re gonna laugh your butt off and praise God for “Leah’s” life, her love for the Chinese people and Christ Jesus!

Servant Friendship

Friendship

Serving, not Searching

Let’s be honest. When someone brings up an overfamiliar topic that we have heard a million times, we don’t want to listen. We don’t want to engage or challenge what we have been believing. We think we have it figured out already, so we say to ourselves, “Go ahead, give me your spiel, but I’m not the one who needs this information.” Let me challenge you to open your mind to a familiar question.

You’re wondering, where am I going with this? Well, frankly, I think I could go a lot of places. Places where I myself have adopted a way of thinking based off of what, most often society, has taught me. Nevertheless, I’m going to friendship.

Seeing the images of children being sent off to school, memories flood my mind of friendships. Isn’t this where most of our friendships began? We go to school thinking, “I need to have a friend”. People tell us we need to make friends, and lots of them. And making friends only gets more difficult, as we progress from childhood to adulthood.

Now, the issue isn’t that we should or shouldn’t have friends. We know that God told Adam that it was not good for man to be alone. We also see in the trinitarian nature of God – one God in three distinct persons – relationship is what we were created to have. Fittingly, our main issue as fallen humans is the broken relationship between us and God.

The effects of our broken relationship with God have not left our relationships with others unscathed. 

So, why do so many of us think friendship should come easy? Why do many of us consider that it isn’t ourselves who need to learn how to be a friend, but rather others who fail at being a friend? 

Don’t worry if you find yourself friendless or maybe just with many shallow relationships – you aren’t alone. Many of us desire to have that close knit relationship with someone. We desire that, because we were made to have that with God Himself. 

Let’s do an exercise.

Picture a friendship. 

The ideal friendship. 

The friendship you want.

In this friendship, where does the burden lie? When you think of this friendship, are you considering the qualities of your friend, or are you considering the qualities of yourself? My knee-jerk reaction is to make a long list of qualities that I’d like in a friend. Wise? Absolutely. But it often stops there. We make a list of requirements for someone else to meet, while taking little to no consideration of our own qualities as a friend. 

If you’re feeling called out, it’s okay, because I’m actually the guilty party I’m speaking of.

Because often I’m hypocritical in my list of friend qualifications. So where should I, and you, really start? 

We want friends. We need friends (namely the body of Christ) to properly flourish as image bearers of God, but we are starting at the wrong point. We are starting at how someone else can serve us, instead of looking for those who we can serve

Jesus sets a great example for us and it’s necessary to look to Him for the standard. He was God incarnate. He was completely sinless and wholly righteous. And yet, He called sinful people to Himself to be His disciples. Not only that, but He came with the aim to serve (Matt 20:28) and He was teaching His followers that they were to serve also. 

Jesus was perfect. Literally perfect. He had no sin in Him. Yet, did He make a list of qualities that He wanted in a disciple? He did and it wasn’t a list that we would make, I can assure you. He said that those burdened under the weight of their own sin could come to Him (Matt 11:28). 

He wanted the needy, who saw their great need for Him as their Redeemer and Lord. In scripture we find that God uses the foolish things to confound the wise (1 Corinthians 26-28). He used sinful humans to build his Church. Yes, He chose those who were far off to bring them near. He chooses people who have no pedigree, nothing to offer, to be His. 

Most importantly, friendship isn’t about you. It’s about Him. We are to make friends to make disciples. And then we are to love and care for our brethren in Christ. We are to serve in our friendships, as Jesus did – making the Lord known and laying our lives down in sacrificial love to that end.

So, let us consider, when we are piddling about in our own complaints, concerned about not having a “ride or die”, or a “BFF” that is up to our standards – up to the idealized friend we are looking for. Let’s open our eyes to the needs around us. Let’s put aside what we think is valuable and get to meeting needs, serving others in humble submission to the Lord. Let’s tell others of the Gospel and how He meets our need for friendship, so now we don’t have to put the burden of perfect friendship on someone else. Not only does He meet our deep need for friendship, He meets our greatest need to restore our relationship to God. Because of this, we can live in the overflow of the Perfect One and point others to Him as a result. 

Let’s stop searching and start serving. You may just find a friend in the process.

Blessings in Christ,

Michelle