The Moralistic Appeal

On Monday, I confessed several ways that I see the moralistic gospel veiling pride in my own life. Continued reading reminded me of a specific instance, or several instances.

When I was 14, I began a long struggle with anorexia. I endured hours and hours of counseling. I was treated from every angle – coddling and compassion for the disease that assailed me, conviction and chastisement for  yielding to a sinful addiction. At first, it was easier to lean into the people who felt sorry for me. But, as God has peeled away the scabs of pride, painfully revealing my frailty and failures, I realized that I had been lured into sin.

Personally, my eating disorder was a mask for pride. I had invented my own moral code: extreme bodily self-control. I berated myself for succumbing to food or a shortened workout. I looked down on others who couldn’t mortify their own desires. So pride festered, manifesting itself in my own bodily destruction – what sin will always do.

When I married, my wonderful husband turned out to be human too. I won’t confess his weaknesses, but he had a few addictions and failures of his own. I mounted my moralistic ladder and instead of displaying Christ’s love to him, I preached a moralistic gospel. He didn’t measure up to my personal moral code, he wasn’t reading the Bible as much I was, he wasn’t seeking Godly counsel as I was, he wasn’t fighting his demons as valiantly as I was. So I lambasted him for his shortcomings. Regrettably, I even doubted his salvation.

Case in point – a moralistic gospel.

If I can refine one nugget of gold from the years of my eating disorder, it is that God used it later in life to show me how patient, graceful and forgiving He had been toward me. God even showed me how my own family had displayed the true gospel toward me in the midst of my eating disorder. In this way, He convicted me of my counterfeit life-preaching toward my husband. If God stooped so low as to redeem me from the pit of rebellion, how could I insist that anyone else climb out of the pit, clean themselves off and then present themselves to the God of Grace?

Wax’s chapter on the moralistic gospel in Counterfeit Gospels, rings true in my own history. I pray the Lord to keep me humbly in the center of the one true gospel.

Saint Patrick’s Contribution

Christ for sickness, Christ for health,

Christ for poverty, Christ for wealth,

Christ for joy, Christ for sorrow,

Christ today, and Christ tomorrow;

Christ my life, and Christ my light,

Christ for morning, noon, and night;

Christ when all around gives way,

Christ my everlasting stay;

Christ my rest, Christ my food,

Christ above my highest good;

Christ my well beloved, my Friend,

Christ my pleasure without end;

Christ my Savior, Christ my Lord,

Christ my Portion, Christ my God,

Christ my Shepherd, I His sheep,

Christ Himself my soul does keep.

Christ my Leader, Christ my Peace,

Christ has brought my soul’s release;

Christ my Righteousness divine,

Christ for me, for He is mine;

Christ my Wisdom, Christ my meat,

Christ restores my wandering feet,

Christ my Advocate and my Priest,

Christ who never forgets the least;

Christ my Teacher, Christ my Guide,

Christ my Rock, in Christ I hide;

Christ the everlasting Bread,

Christ His precious blood has shed;

Christ has brought us near to God,

Christ the everlasting Word,

Christ my Master, Christ my Head,

Christ who for my sins has bled;

Christ my Glory, Christ my Crown,

Christ the Plant of great Renown,

Christ my Comforter on high,

Christ my Hope draws ever nigh.
– Attributed to St. Patrick 

Let Me Be the Weakest Link

A common Christian misconception is that we will spend most of our lives battling our weaknesses. We bemoan our weak faith and idolize the super saints. We wish we had a bigger testimony. We wonder what we are doing wrong that God doesn’t remove our limitations, heal our illnesses or enable us to be more generous.

If only I could get a better job! Then I could send my kids to good Christian schools and support the missionaries at church. If I had gone to college I  could get a real job, then I could be so much more effective for God. Instead, every spare minute and penny goes right back into just staying afloat.

I wonder what I did wrong to deserve this cancer? I spend half my life in and out of the hospital. When I am home, I’m too weak to be effective. God, I’m so sorry, please, please make me more useful to you.

Ever had thoughts like these? Last week, I stumbled across a verse that surprised me. I think I read it wrong to begin with. Mentally, I replaced a “you” with an “I”.

“And call upon me in the day of trouble, I shall rescue you, and you will honor me.” Ps. 50:15 God tells the author that he will call upon God, God will rescue him and the author will glorify God. That’s where I found my weakness lie: God is pleased with my strength as a Christian. 

The truth, according to Psalm 50:15, is that God is honored when He rescues me. God is shown to be the great, awesome, super natural, astonishing, against-all-odds, Savior that He is. When I am beyond all hope and God activates His favor on my behalf, then His character, His greatness is on full display. But God shows more than His power in my weakness. He shows his everlasting love. When God rescues a weak, hopeless, failing, impotent mortal He shows His absolute power and His absolute goodness.

Here’s the secret: the more aware you are of God’s grace, the more humble, prayerful, thankful, patient, gracious, content and joyful you will be. And you are more aware of God’s grace when you are weak. – John Bloom

So be careful as you analyze your life. Continue asking God to search you and know you, to try you and know your thoughts. Then be willing and ready to hear Him. Confess your sins because He is faithful and just to forgive. (Ps. 139:1-2, John 1:9) But don’t confuse your weaknesses with sin. They are different.

Remember the blind man to whom Jesus restored his sight? The disciples wanted to know who had sinned so that this man had been born blind. Jesus told them that the man’s blindness was not a result of sin – it may have been a limitation, a weakness but it was not from sin. And in the man’s healing Jesus was identified as the Christ.

 

Saturday is come and gone

“But concerning that day, no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only.”

“For as in the days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day when Noah entered the ark, and they were unaware until the flood came and swept them all away, so will be the coming of the Son of Man.” Matthew 24: 36, 38-39

If you’re reading this, somewhere Harold Camping is very embarrassed.  The infamous Saturday, May 21, 2011, has come and gone.

Sadly, hundreds of people have swallowed the lie one man’s tiny little mind has calculated the date of Christ’s return.  If I can’t even fully understand or explain His love for me, how can I pretend to understand what He has purposed from before time began?  What saddens me the most is the damage that these lies do to the name of Christ, the infallible word of God, the Bible, and the reputation of true believers.

Philippians 1:27 says, “Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ.”  I remember when I was little, my parents reminding me to be on my best behavior when we were out in public.  My dad held a rather prominent position at the largest company in our small Oklahoma town.  “You represent your dad.  When people see you, they associate you with your father.  You want to be an accurate representation.”  Christian, the same is true for us.  When we claim the name of Christ, we associate ourselves publicly with our heavenly Father and our Savior.

As a child if I lied, exaggerated, or spread rumors I would have diluted the respect that my father had in the community.  Similarly, as Camping, in direct disobedience to the Bible, predicts the date-specific return of Christ, people associate his false predictions and lies with Jesus Christ.  People will take the Bible less seriously and they will assume all Christians are liars.

For a more concise explanation of “Why it is Wrong for Christians to Predict When Christ will Return to Earth” check out article by Dr. John Ankerburg.

I was reading an article from the Associate Press about Harold Camping and this Saturday.  A few other things that convince me I do not want to be in his “camp”:

The prediction has been publicized in almost every country, said Chris McCann, who works with eBible Fellowship, one of the groups spreading the message. “The only countries I don’t feel too good about are the `stans’ — you know, AfghanistanUzbekistan, those countries in Central Asia,” he said.

Marie Exley, who left her home in Colorado last year to join Family Radio’s effort to publicize the message, just returned from a lengthy overseas trip that included stops in the Middle East. She said billboards have gone up in Israel, JordanLebanon and Iraq.

“I decided to spend the last few days with my immediate family and fellow believers,” Exley said. “Things started getting more risky in the Middle East when Judgment Day started making the news.”

McCann plans to spend Saturday with his family, reading the Bible and praying. His fellowship met for the last time on Monday.

“We had a final lunch and everyone said goodbye,” he said. “We don’t actually know who’s saved and who isn’t, but we won’t gather as a fellowship again.”

Seriously?  You don’t even know if you are saved?  Praise the Lord that the God I worship, who sent His son Jesus Christ as a sacrifice for my sins and raised Him to life on the third day, tells me that I can know FOR SURE that I am saved.

and then I read this:

Bart Centre, an atheist from New Hampshire, started Eternal Earth-bound Pets in 2009. He offers Rapture believers an insurance plan for those furry family members that won’t join them in heaven: 10-year pet care contracts, with Centre and his network of fellow non-believers taking responsibility for the animals after the Rapture. The fee — payable in advance, of course — was originally $110, but has gone to $135 since Camping’s prediction.

Centre says he has 258 clients under contract, and that business has picked up considerably this year. But he’s not worried about a sales slump if May 21 happens to disappoint believers.

“They never lose their faith. They’re never disappointed,” he said. “It reinforces their faith, strangely enough.”

How embarrassing!!

“And if I go to prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.” John 14:3

Why are people so eager to predict the date of Christ’s return, even when He warns us not to?  Why are some people so convinced of this date that they are willing to say their goodbyes to family and loved ones?  I believe it is the same lie that Satan used on Eve in the garden.  “You will be like God!”  It is our insatiable to desire to know all that God knows and to be in control of our own lives.  If ever I need a little reminder that I am not in control of anything, I read Job 38-40.

What do you think?

I know: When Jesus Comes there will be no mistaking it.  Amen, come quickly Lord Jesus!