Salvation Completed!

emptytombSick of what passes for religious broadcasting and so-called preaching these days? Every year, I post this sermon from 1937. 20 minutes of lightening bolts of Gospel truth on the FINISHED work of Jesus Christ on the Cross by Dr. Walter A. Maier.

I can hear the modern church growth types now. “Ewww, he’s yelling. His delivery style is off-putting. He’s not using enough pop culture references or ice-breaking jokes.” Yes, this is called preaching, the kind that is the power of God unto salvation. Here is “Salvation Completed!” from back when real, muscular preaching was not a rare thing. Enjoy!

Quote of the Day

When you cannot see and understand and work it out mentally, when you cannot feel anything, no feelings at all, or when they are very bad feelings – that is one realm, that is just what we are. Christ is not that, and we have at such times to say, “Lord, this is my infirmity, this is how I am, but You are Other; I transfer my faith to You from myself and from these things.” Christ is the foundation, and all that we build on the foundation has to be Christ Himself. He is not only the foundation, but He is the whole building in every part.

~ T. Austin-Sparks from: Features of Zion

Real Women Can Be a Real Blessing

Share your weaknesses. Share your hard moments. Share your real side. It’ll either scare away every fake person in your life, or it will inspire them to finally let go of that mirage called ‘perfection,’ which will open the doors to the most important relationships you’ll ever be a part of.” 
~ Dan Pearce

keepitrealSocial media can be a lot of fun and  a help in sharing information (and cat pictures, ha!), but the one aspect of social media that most agree is troubling is the temptation to post only what makes us look good—a sort of airbrushed, glamour shots view of life, and not just in photos. America’s obsession with celebrity lifestyles and appearance has only made this worse, especially for women who are more image conscious than ever.

My iPhone has something on it called Facetime which adds video to incoming calls. Being new to this kind of phone, I had what I thought was a regular incoming call. It was my son calling, and I hit answer without realizing my world was now on live video. I looked down at the phone to realize my own morning face, sans make-up, untidy hair and the dishes in the sink that were being loaded into the dishwasher were on full display. I burst out laughing. “Hello world!” I was certainly keeping things real with that call. (And I shut Facetime off afterwards!)

That unexpected live shot of real life made me ponder how social media interactions are extremely limited in the life they reveal. Women neighbors used to come over for an egg or a cup of sugar or meet up at the back fence while hanging up laundry on the clotheslines, and there was no airbrushing possible. Women were in the trenches with children, and family and the thought of keeping their image glossy and perfect would have been pure fantasy. But things are different today where we are all our own little broadcasters of our lives on social media. We can be more selective about our exposure than in generations past.

The temptation to try to project perfection  is the same for Christians as it is for anyone else, maybe just in a little different way. I heard one woman recently express outright anger at a radio program hosted by a female. In her mind, the endless stream of perfection that seemed to come from the program was like a rod that beat her into the ground for all of her own failures and weaknesses. The glossy advertisements that came in the mail for this conference and that (with photos of the women speakers clearly airbrushed) just made the Perfect Woman ministry a hindrance to her instead of a help.

I’m not suggesting that people get on social media and post photos of morning face (once in a while some daring person does that), or that people air every negative thing in their life to “keep it real.” In fact, it’s possible to go overboard there as well. All I am saying is that there is no point in learning things in life through our own mistakes if we don’t share what we have learned with others. Sometimes the only redemptive thing to come out of the carnage in our lives is that ability to point to God’s grace, forgiveness and help. Doing so can be a beacon of light to someone in their own life and death struggle in the dark.

We have a way of idolizing people in Christian media, assuming that their lives are picture perfect. I can say authoritatively that it’s not true, and we need to stop looking up to people simply on the basis of their access to broadcast technology. We can learn much from others, but if the scandals in ministry even in the last few weeks have shown anything, it’s that leaders are humans who can sin and go off the rails like anyone else.

Don’t be afraid to share what you have learned in life and to point to how God is bringing you along. One other thing. When we are going through a crisis of faith, there is often fear of being labeled or judged for not being a strong Christian. Don’t ever do that when you talk with someone who is struggling.  Someday you may very well find yourself plunged into your own personal “dark night of the soul.”   Instead, be someone others can talk with who will hear their pain without judging them as “going off the rails.” We had all better stay humble and dependent on God, as our own sense of pride in our proper lives and achievements are only an hour or phone call away from being shattered.

I like what the quote says above. By being honest and humble, we can find ourselves being a blessing and light to others. A mask of perfection might earn you some kudos from people equally obsessed with image, but you’ll never be a real blessing to others until you can say, “…I am a great sinner, but I have a great Savior!” (John Newton)

Quotes on Faith – Seeing What is Unseen

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERADistinguish between the fact of God’s presence, and the emotion of the fact. It is a happy thing when the soul seems desolate and deserted, if our faith can say, “I see Thee not. I feel Thee not, but Thou art certainly and graciously here, where I am as I am.” Say it again and again: “Thou art here: though the bush does not seem to burn with fire, it does burn. I will take the shoes from off my feet, for the place on which I stand is holy ground.” —London Christian

Believe God’s word and power more than you believe your own feelings and experiences. Your Rock is Christ, and it is not the Rock which ebbs and flows, but your sea.
—Samuel Rutherford

Keep your eye steadily fixed on the infinite grandeur of Christ’s finished work and righteousness. Look to Jesus and believe, look to Jesus and live! Nay, more; as you look to him, hoist your sails and buffet manfully the sea of life. Do not remain in the haven of distrust, or sleeping on your shadows in inactive repose, or suffering your frames and feelings to pitch and toss on one another like vessels idly moored in a harbor. The religious life is not a brooding over emotions, grazing the keel of faith in the shallows, or dragging the anchor of hope through the oozy tide mud as if afraid of encountering the healthy breeze. Away! With your canvas spread to the gale, trusting in Him, who rules the raging of the waters. The safety of the tinted bird is to be on the wing. If its haunt be near the ground—if it fly low—it exposes itself to the fowler’s net or snare. If we remain grovelling on the low ground of feeling and emotion, we shall find ourselves entangled in a thousand meshes of doubt and despondency, temptation and unbelief. “But surely in vain the net is spread in the sight of THAT WHICH HATH A WING” (marginal reading Prov. 1:17). Hope thou in God.
—J. R. Macduff

When I cannot enjoy the faith of assurance, I live by the faith of adherence.
—Matthew Henry

THINK ON THIS THING

“In thee, O Lord, do I put my trust.” Psalm 31:1a

My brother-in-law, Russ, sings this song written by my sister. They recorded it several years ago. I hope it is an encouragement to you, as it was to me today. The words speak for themselves. “Lord, fix my eyes on things eternal.”


Abba, Father

Translation from the Dutch lyrics.

Abba, Father, You alone,
I belong to You.
You only have searched my heart,
You belong to it.
Let my heart be still fervent,
You never leave alone.
Abba, Father, You alone,
I belong to You.

Abba, Father, let me be
Yours alone.
That my will forever be
Your own.
Never let my heart grow cold.
Never let me go.
Abba, Father, let me be
Yours alone.

Abba, Father, let me be
Yours and Yours alone.
May my will forever be evermore Your own.
Never let my heart grow cold.
Never let me go.
Abba, Father, let me be Yours
and Yours alone.

Getting Off the Train

train1Over twenty-one years ago I was on an Amtrak train on the way to Los Angeles. I was underweight from not eating enough and living on caffeine, I was on two kinds of medicine to stop heart palpitations and tachycardia (stress-induced), and I was exhausted. I was producing and hosting daily controversy on the Crosstalk Radio Talk Show, a daily local show called Homefront and filling in sometimes on the issues TV program, In Focus. At the same time, I was raising two little boys in a very difficult situation as a single parent. I sat on that crowded Amtrak train, thundering through the darkness, and I had an epiphany, one of those moments when your mind reveals in a flash what needs to be done.

In the middle of Illinois, on a cold January night, I got off the train in a small town at a brief train stop. I saw a sign for a Days Inn out the window, got my purse, and coat and got off the train. Really. I didn’t need to take the trip. I didn’t need to be on a dirty Amtrak train. I didn’t need more stress at the other end of the trip at a convention. What I needed was someone to say kindly to me, “Slow down, stop, this isn’t good for you. You’re killing yourself. Go home, put on your slippers, make some tea, and smile a bit with your kids.” So I got off the train.

After I left my radio job in 2011, I knew that certain stories were being circulated to explain my sudden departure. I learned a few days ago that this funny train story was one of them, told with a malicious spin. It occurred to me the other day that “getting off the train” is an apt metaphor for what we often need to do in life.

We thunder down the tracks in a specific direction, never questioning what we’re doing, assuming our presuppositions are correct and right for us, not realizing that something is out of whack. At times like that, we need to evaluate our situation, and if necessary, get off the train. Getting off the train is not a sign of weakness, it is a sign of strength and clarity.

Many times in life, others will not protect you. They will use you until you collapse in a heap, and then they will walk away, shaking their heads at how you didn’t measure up. That’s why, with God’s help, internal evaluations of our own lives and priorities is crucial. We can’t count on others, even those physically closest to us, to do the job for us. It’s wonderful when they do act and guide in our best interests out of real love. But ultimately, we need to do the job ourselves and ask the Lord for honesty and humility in self-evaluation.

There is a time to stay on a train until it reaches its destination. As I jumped off onto that platform in Illinois, however, I knew I had made the right choice to get off, and I still laugh at my audacity and nerve at doing the right thing, even while being judged as a nutcase. Do what is best for your life and soul and don’t sweat the labels! Just smile, and find your way home.