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Archive for the ‘Salvation’ Category

I hadn’t realized how long it had been since last posting on this blog.  I try to write every Thursday or Friday, but my most recent post was December 2012!  As you can figure, January was a very busy month for me.  It was actually a very exciting month for me.  My childhood dream of visiting the United Kingdom finally came true at the end of January.  We visited London, the English countryside and Wales; it was exactly as I’d imagined it to be!  While there, I enjoyed noticing the little differences in the English language, such as “Mind the gap, or mind the stairs” instead of “Watch your step” or “Give Way” was the instruction on the road sign instead of “Yield”.  For me, saying something differently causes me to stop and think rather than just ignore the same familiar statement or warning that I am used to seeing.

Years ago, when my husband and I were discussing the concept of the “sinner’s prayer”, he said something that bothered me at first.  Instead of focusing on the need to say a prayer for salvation, Dave commented that he did not like that idea because the journey of salvation was a daily “yielding” of his life.  He understood the concept of justification, but he also was comprehending sanctification, and better than I had been at the time.  See, our conversation consisted of the many people in our lives who had prayed “the prayer” (sometimes with us!), but whose lives did not reveal any changed fruit.  They weren’t living for God, but for self.  After hearing some sermons on the importance of following God all the time and not just getting your “Free Get Out of Hell Card” after saying a prayer, I was deeply challenged by the fact that sometimes the sinner’s prayer was used as an ‘insurance’ of getting into Heaven and nothing more.

I began to dwell on Dave’s comment about “yielding”.  What did that mean?  Yielding what?  And, to whom?  Many years have passed since that initial conversation with my husband and God has been faithful to show me time and time again what I must yield (all of me) and to whom (Him).  Romans 6 and Galatians 2 have been instrumental in helping me visualize what it means to yield my life to God.  I am no longer–I have been crucified with Christ.  I am raised from this death by the glory of the Father so I can walk in newness of life!  Everything must change.  There can’t be any coddling of former sin; I must hate it and ask God to give me repentance.    Does this happen overnight?  Sometimes.  But, oftentimes not.  And, in that process is our constant yielding.

So, while I was in England, and my poor husband was attempting to drive on the wrong side of the road (for us Americans, anyways), the signs that said, “Give Way” caused me to think in a different way about the word “yield”.  Of course I know it means to give way.  But, I began to imagine this in regards to my relationship with God.  Was I giving way to Him when I was full of anxiety about flying?  Was I giving way to Him when I was frightened about a possible medical diagnosis?  Was I giving way to Him when I was jet-lagged and super grumpy?  Or was I standing firm, not budging in my sins of anxiety, fear and rudeness?

Lord, may my commitment to walk in Your ways be firm.  But, may I be quick to “give way” when my ways, my flesh, want to take over.  Only through Your Holy Spirit am I able to walk as a child of the Light.  I lean on You today for that very thing.

Love, Wendy

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Finishing The Hunger Games trilogy last evening left my mind mulling over the themes and highlights of the three-book series.  Recently, I posted on the importance for a story to deal with human depravity and man’s need for a Savior (see Redemption!).  Personally, I find that we should not shy away from books because they may describe sins that are horrid or disgusting.  If anything, this reminds us how horrid and disgusting sin actually is!  Of course, I don’t think we need to glorify that sin and parents should be mindful of what they’re children are reading…but, we must be aware of just how bad sin really is.  Because without that understanding, there will be no aching for a Savior or Redeemer of those sins.  While I’m writing about sins in a storybook, I’m speaking about our very own sins in our very own stories.  As we read about the sins of others, whether in a book like The Hunger Games or Lord of the Flies, or even in the Word of God, we must realize our very own sins…and be repulsed by them as well.  

Back to the themes and highlights of The Hunger Games, though.  These games were orchestrated by the government of the fictional country, Panem.  In order to deter its citizens from ever rebelling against the Capitol again, the adults in power deemed the games be played, by children of the various districts of Panem, on an annual basis.  Children 12-18 years of age must fight against one another to the death.  The entire country must watch the events unfold until only one child is left standing.   It’s kind of like a reality TV show gone mad.  However, the underlying theme is that the children are expendable as long as the Capitol is in control and things are running smoothly.  Children are used as a piece in the game that these adults have created.  As the series continues, though, rebellion does indeed arise.  After much action-packed drama, the final proposal by one in power is to have one last Hunger Game in order to settle the war.  It seems that the adults of Panem cannot think outside the box of “sacrifice your children in order to settle your differences”.

Hideous concept, isn’t it?  Stick a bunch of children into an arena, televise them while they fight to the finish, then celebrate the ultimate killer, em, victor.  It’s extreme, no doubt, but as I contemplated these themes from the book, I couldn’t help but think of how America “sacrifices our children in order to settle our differences”.

Abortion.  Daily, Americans play a “game” where women enter abortion clinics and undergo “procedures” where their wombs are emptied of a living child.  Usually, this living child is called a fetus or a blob of cells or a mass, but we all know that what is inside her womb will be a newborn baby in nine months, a toddler in two years, a kindergartner in five, a teenager in thirteen, a young man or woman ready to marry in about twenty, etc.  Yet, because being pregnant doesn’t work for the adult, the child is sacrificed.

Children are sacrificed in order to settle other differences too.  Politically, they can often become pawns in the educational system.  They may be neglected by parents seeking self over family.  These things don’t just happen on the pages of a book.  You could say the hunger games and other sins against children are “fictional, yet inspired by events of real life”.

Those in Christ must not be conformed to this world, though.  We must be transformed by the renewing of our minds so that we may prove what is the good and acceptable and perfect will of God.  While America, not so unlike Panem, may tell us that sacrificing our children–in whatever form that may take–is worthwhile to settle whatever differences we may have, the Word of God renews our mind with the absolute Truth.

Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord.  The fruit of the womb is a reward.  Psalm 127

…”Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of God.”  Mark 10: 14

Love, Wendy

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Redemption!

After viewing The Hunger Games movie awhile back, I couldn’t shake the theme from my mind.  The story fascinated me in a morbid sort of way, but I became very disturbed when my older boys began cheering on the deaths of the “innocent” teenagers in the Games.  We became absorbed in the story line and began rooting for the protagonist, prompting us to applaud the demise of her enemies in the Game.

Depending on the ages of the children in your life, there are several responses to books such as these.  We can completely boycott them and read something of greater value.  We can minimize the significance and not bother to dive into the deeper meanings behind such story lines.  Or, we can find an eternal message in everything that we read.

The Hunger Games reminds me somewhat of William Golding’s classic, The Lord of the Flies.  Young boys, stranded on an island without any adult supervision, quickly disintegrate into a world of total depravity.  Sure, there is always a token character trying to bring everyone back to their senses, but the majority give in to some animal instinct buried deep within us.  It’s horrifying.  It’s disgusting.  It’s captivating.  We know, deep within us, that could be us.

If we don’t know that, then we don’t have a true grasp on our actual nature.

There is none righteous, not even one; there is none who understands, there is none who seeks for God; all have turned aside, together they have become useless; there is none who does good, there is not even one…there is no fear of God before their eyes.  (Romans 3: 10-11, 18)

All of us have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.  I can’t change that fact.  Neither can you.  Yet, it must be changed in order for us to ever escape His holy wrath and to ever be received as a son or daughter of this Heavenly Father.

Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior.  But now He has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in His sight, without blemish and free from accusation–if you continue in your faith, established and firm, and do not move from the hope held out in the gospel…  (Colossians 1: 21-23a)

Jesus died for our sins.  He traded His perfect righteousness for those lousy sins.  We can’t fully appreciate this unbelievable sacrifice until the Holy Spirit is at work in our hearts, revealing to us our depraved nature.  We’re not just “kinda sinful” or “sort of bad”.  We don’t just “make a few mistakes here and there” or are basically good people overall.  No, we are the gawking adult onlookers of the Hunger Games.  We are bloodthirsty, eagerly waiting for that next bit of juicy gossip or that next slaughter of verbal retaliation to an enemy.  We are the young boys, young Lord of the Flies, who don’t have, or want, authority.  We do as we desire.  The depths are disgusting and unfathomable.

THIS kind of nature needs saving.  THIS kind of nature is unable to save itself.  THIS kind of nature is not accepted by a Holy God.  THIS is our kind of nature.  I praise God for His goodness, His mercy, His self-sacrifice.  I thank God that He would love His children so much that He would condescend to this earth, take on human flesh, live and die for us.

Books that reveal human depravity lead us to vividly remember our desperate need for a Savior.  That Savior is Jesus Christ alone.  Do you see this need in your life?  God’s Word is true and it cuts sharper than a sword (Hebrews 4: 12).  Allow His words about you, about Himself, to slash any wrong preconceived notions and to willingly receive the absolute Truth that gives life.  Eternally.

Love, Wendy

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