Counterfeit Repentance

I’ve been involved with several conversations this week about the concept of repentance.  I was anticipating it coming up in the Sunday School lesson from the book of Ruth, but imagine my surprise when it also came up during the sermon.  Don’t you love when God has a message for you and it’s reinforced repeatedly?!?!?!

According to the Oxford dictionary, the definition of repentance is the act of turning away from a behavior; sincere regret or remorse.

Most Christians would agree that scripture details repentance as an integral part of salvation.  We acknowledge our sin, we repent of it, we ask forgiveness for it, and we accept that Jesus took our punishment and is our Savior.

God has offered us amazing grace.  However, I think there are many within the church who have fallen for the lies of the enemy that repentance is cloaked in grace.

In other words, true repentance is acknowledging sin and turning from that sinful thought or behavior. In the case of counterfeit repentance, church culture acknowledges the sin but does not turn from the sinfulness in the belief that grace will cover that sin.

Not only is that counterfeit repentance, but it is also counterfeit grace.  That is grace that allows us to remain in sin.  But it is not true grace.  God did not design grace in that manner.  In fact, the enemy delights in us falling for the counterfeit grace, as it does not lead us to the cross nor will it allow us to live life abundantly.

In order to combat “counterfeit-ness” in our lives, we need to get tough on our sins.  We need to complete an in-depth analysis of our thoughts, our words, and our actions.  Do they glorify God? Or are they steeped in sin?  Are we willing to turn from that sin, ask for forgiveness, and then do our best to not return to that sin?

I am praying that I will have a serious chat with myself about sin…I am praying that for you too.  I pray God reveals sin that we have previously excused. And I pray that we beg for forgiveness and turn from that sin.

At that point, we’ll have true repentance…and true grace can be experienced.

~Emily

Repentance

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Crooked Path: A Redemption Story

Until recently, I thought a childhood that included an introduction to Jesus seemed normal in America.  More often than not, individuals stray from a childhood relationship with Christ.  Perhaps we stray in High School or College with poor decisions.  Sometimes that straying is a conscious decision to pull away from God as a result of a life event.  In nearly every case, it’s a result of the enemy meddling in our thoughts and with our hearts.

It becomes a crooked path from Christ, away from Christ, and hopefully back to Christ.

In the book “Saving Me From Myself” by Brian “Head” Welch, the reader is taken through a biographical example of how a child accepts the gift of salvation and then crumples under the snare of Satan.  The story of Brian, as the former lead guitarist for the metal band Korn, is fascinating from several levels.  It shows the long-term impact of evangelism.  It illustrates the persistence of the enemy. It demonstrates how far we can veer from a righteous path. It shows the absolute beauty of grace and redemption.

I read this book, cover-to-cover, in one night.  It was a story that kept me turning pages into the wee hours of the night…long after my typical bedtime.  My fascination with Brian’s story was driven by his return to Christ.  Our God loves us through thick and thin.  He loves us when we are disobedient.  He loves us when we make horrible decisions.  He loves us most when we return.

Each of us has a story of the enemy trying to impact our lives.  Each of us has an even better story of that grace and redemption. Brian chose to share his story very publicly through total lifestyle changes, through quitting the band, and by publishing multiple books.

What is your story?  How has the enemy meddled in your life?  How have you persevered in your walk with Christ?  Who are you telling as an example of God working in your life?

~Emily

“In Him, we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace.” ~Ephesians 1:7

“In Him, we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace.” ~Ephesians 1_7 copy

A Sports Mom & Grace

I have a love-hate relationship with baseball season.

I’m not talking about Major League Baseball—not the Yankees and the Red Sox.  I’m talking about 7-8 coach pitch baseball.  Coaches pitching to 7 and 8 year old boys.  This was my son’s 2ndyear playing ball and his 1styear as catcher. The regular season ended last week and has provided an opportunity for me to reflect on this love-hate relationship.

I love how happy my son is being on a team, while exercising, and learning a sport. I love watching his eyes dance when he catches the ball or hits a run.  I’m content being behind the camera catching the intense moments of concentration.  I adore that the coaches pray with the boys before practices and games.  I’m grateful that he hasn’t been on a team that chose white uniform.

Despite the “love” part of being a baseball-mom, I have some issues with baseball season.  I hate 7 pm games, which means I’m in a dinner dilemma…to feed before or to feed after???  I hate that late weekday games equals cranky mornings…for the kiddo and for me.

And I have come to hate the group texting with parents for snacks and practice times.  Each time my phone indicates a text message; I start dreading the massive text chain. Why?  Probably because I’m a very organized, type A personality, who has been in the military for over 20 years. I have a hard time with loose schedules and lack of pre-planning.  I want lists of snack responsibilities.  I want to know who has scoreboard or dug out duty for each game.  I want to know when the team party and photos are scheduled. Not knowing these things in advance makes me cringe.

Not knowing makes me less gracious.

Grace has been defined in several different ways.  Typically, we think of God’s grace in relationship to His providing a way to salvation through acceptance of His son.

“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast.” ~Ephesians 2:8-9 (NIV)

Essentially grace is God providing for us even when we don’t deserve it.  Knowing about God’s grace is not enough. We have to accept God’s grace. Then the hard part…we have to demonstrate God’s grace by showing grace to one another.

Grace for others is demonstrated in our thoughts, words, and actions.

If we think dreadful thoughts, we aren’t illustrating grace.  When I have grouchy thoughts about a 7pm, mid-week game, I’m not demonstrating grace in thought.  We are given guidance on our thoughts in Romans 12:2 (NIV), “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.  Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—His good, pleasing and perfect will.”

If we speak negative words, we aren’t speaking grace.  When I complain to my husband about the lack of snack organization, I am not demonstrating grace in speech.  We are given guidance on our voice in Colossians 4:6 (NIV), “Let your conversations be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.”

If we roll our eyes or have huffy behavior, we aren’t acting in grace. When my Type A personality encourages me “take over” team mom responsibilities, I am not demonstrating grace in action.  We are given guidance on our actions in Colossians 3:23-24 (NIV), “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters.”

If we act in grace, then we honor the grace God has provided for us.   I need to work on turning my thoughts, words, and actions into grace-filled examples of God’s love for each of us.  I need to turn my love-hate relationships into love-love relationships. Proverbs 4:23 (NIV) says, “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.”

phdLadies,

I want to have grace flowing from my heart….not just behind the camera, but rather in all of my thoughts, words, & actions.

Do you?

~Emily

 

 

 

A Sinner’s Heart

I was pregnant with my second child when I was removed from the nursery schedule at the church I attended.  At approximately four months along, my belly was growing at a far faster rate than my first pregnancy.  Though I wasn’t tiring out easily, the nursery director wanted to ease any discomfort I might encounter while taking care of babies and toddlers as their parents were listening to the preaching down the hall.  While I felt a twinge of guilt at the extra duty the volunteers would inevitably encounter in an underserved area, it was a welcome reprieve from the Sunday morning routine.

Four weeks into my mini nursery-vacation, however, I was splashed with an ice-cold bucket of judgment that left me wondering if I would ever be worthy of my Jesus.  A friend confided that the respite I had been given was less about discomfort for me and more about the discomfort of our small church.  “How on earth would it look to have an unwed pregnant woman taking care of the babies in our nursery?” was the true reason I was asked to step aside in the role of nursery volunteer.

Yes…I was pregnant.  And unmarried.  I began having a relationship with the man who would eventually become my husband, and due to sinful nature, I became pregnant prior to any kind of wedding day.  And just like that, the feeling of being worthless and unusable for God’s glory came rushing into my life.  “What kind of example could I be for women now?” I thought.  I was no longer able to fulfill God’s calling in my life to minister to women.  I had ruined my ability to do so.

I cried for months over the torturous shame I felt.  I begged God to forgive me over and over again.  I mourned for the loss of my servant ability in the church, and I felt so far from Him.  Yet little by little, I was finally able to drown out the lies of the devil long enough to hear these two verses my Savior was whispering to me.

He shall again have compassion on us; He will subdue and tread underfoot our wickedness [destroying sin’s power]. Yes, You will cast all our sins into the depths of the sea. Micah 7:19 (AMP)

Therefore repent and return, so that your sins may be wiped away, in order that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord; Acts 3:19 (NASB)

Those verses are beautiful, aren’t they?  I had forgotten that when true repentance happens, my sins are as far as the east is to the west (Ps. 103:12).  They are thrown into the depths of the sea, having been given whole restoration in Jesus Christ.

That sin is not one of my finer moments in life, and I fully recognize that what I did was willful disobedience.  But just as God commanded us to do, I repented and asked for His forgiveness.  He granted me the grace I so desperately desired.  There was no need to continue to live in the guilt and shame anymore.  God could (and WOULD) still use me for His honor and glory.

Iron Porch is proof of this.  God took this broken mess of a woman, full of mistakes and sinful nature, and molded her into a willing vessel for Jesus.  His grace and love is just that sufficient.  Any day that I doubt my calling, Jesus reminds me that the kind of example I’m supposed to be is the kind that shows our God is bigger than any sin or mistake I’ve ever made.  And I’ll take that calling any day of the week.

~Erin

Hang-ups, Phobias, & Quirks…Continued

When you wrestle with deep soul secret keeping, you risk your relationship with God, with yourself, and with others.

In 1998, I practiced a quickly growing, cultish behavior when I joined a Wiccan coven.  I committed; I practiced; I researched; I participated; I went all in with a pagan walk and turned my back on our Heavenly Father.

For seven years, I deliberately disobeyed God.  I denied Christ. I knew I was wrong. I kept it from my friends and family.

I became the deceivable woman.

2 Corinthians 11:3 (NIV) states, “the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness.” Deceived exapato means “to seduce wholly; “ “To persuade into disobedience.”

Utilizing the 2 Corinthians passage, we are able to see that in Genesis, Eve is an example of a woman who was persuaded to do wrong.  When she was alone, she was vulnerable to temptation.

She was the first deceivable woman.

In my last post, I stated that quirky tendencies are not necessary sinful.  It’s when we keep secrets deep in our soul that we become vulnerable to sinful behavior.

In the case of practicing Wicca, I was committing sinful behavior, which I was keeping secret.  Is there a difference? Perhaps.

Once I shared the secret of my sinful behavior with my closest friends and family, they immediately began praying for me to be restored to a Christian walk.  That did not happen immediately, but it did happen eventually.  When we selectively share our hearts with other believers, they are able to bolster us.  They are able to hold us accountable.  They are able to approach the Father on our behalf.

Last week’s hang ups, phobias, and quirks seem very miniscule when compared to my absolute avoidance of the occult aisle at the bookstore. I avoid horoscopes, moon cycles, and other pagan related calendar items.  I steer my child away from tarot cards and subtle pagan television shows. Avoiding and dismissing occult and pagan related issues has become a hang-up, phobia, and quirk.  It’s one that will not be a secret in my life, because I refuse to have that sin ever take hold of me or my house again.

I was the deceivable woman. It wore me out being that woman with the deep-seated secret.  If you have sinful behaviors that are wearing you out…that you are keeping secret…I am urging you to find a strong Christian woman to confide in so that she can go to the Lord in prayer on your behalf.

Turn from the secrecy. Ensure you aren’t falling into a sin trap because of secrets.

~Emily