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

 

 

 

 

 

 

Humble Honey

As I was bragging about never messing up in the kitchen, I dropped a one-pound glass jar of honey, which promptly exploded and then oozed on the counter and floor.  An “eat your words” type of moment and a ginormous mess, to say the least.  It was a humbling moment considering I had just been boastful about not dropping items.

According to dictonary.com, humbling is a verb which means “to bring down the pride of another or to reduce her to a state of abasement: to humble an arrogant enemy.”  While I don’t classify myself as an arrogant enemy, I certainly had my pride reduced in that moment of oozing honey and glass shards.

For the rest of the day, I was humming a childhood song based on James 4:10. “Humble thyself in the sight of the Lord (echo) Humble thyself in the sight of the Lord (echo) And He shall lift you up. Higher and higher and He. Shall lift you up.”

The song, on constant repeat throughout the day, drove the question; “Why should we humble ourselves in the sight of the Lord?”

First and foremost, we should humble ourselves before God because we are instructed to imitate Christ, who was in fact, humble.  As seen in Philippians 2:5, we see that Christ did not state equality with God was an attainable goal, but rather Christ humbled himself to become human for our benefit.

Perhaps another reason why we should humble ourselves is found in James 4:10 and in the song itself.  As we humble ourselves, God promises to exalt us.  When we are humble in the sight of God, we receive His blessings and grace in a unique manner.  He will lift us up.

 The song, still on repeat, drove the next question; “How do we humble ourselves in the sight of the Lord?”

Speak well of others…on purpose (Ephesians 4:31-32).  When we speak negatively about others, we are putting them down and often making ourselves out to be better.  When we speak positively about others, we build them up and edify them.  Throughout my life, I have caught myself being less than humble in this regard.

Always Pray (1 Thessalonians 5:17).  When we pray, we are acting in a manner of dependence and humility. Prayer becomes a declaration of weakness.  In the moment of prayer, we admit to God that we can’t make it without Him and that we need Him in requests and in praise.  There are plenty of times that prayer is an afterthought in my life when in reality it should be my 1st thought.

Confess your areas of sin to God (Luke 18:9-14).  All of us are sinful, but few of us routinely and honestly tell God about that sinful nature. Every day, it’s easy to ask God to “forgive my sins” as a blanketed statement.  For me, it’s much harder to specifically assess areas of my life that are steeped in sin and then admit them to God.

Confess your areas of sin to other Christians (James 3:2). A test of true humility is when we are willing to confess our sins to others, just as we would confess it to God.  Obviously, discretion is needed about who you confess sin to, but the act of telling someone about our sin allows us space to be completely honest with ourselves and ultimately with God.  I struggle with this one because I don’t want others to know where I am weak or where I am failing.  Thus, pride interfering with humility in my life.

As I hummed the song “Humble thyself in the Sight of the Lord,” I was reminded of why I should want to be humble and how I can practice being humble at the feet of God.

A broken honey jar is just one tangible reminder of how much work I have to do in this area…

To those on the Iron Porch this week, I pray you seek humility in your daily interactions this week!

~Emily

honey

 

 

Annual Sunburn

The first sunburn of summer 2020 is in the books.

Year after year, I never learn that my pale Scandinavian skin needs a thick lather of sunscreen… as evidenced by the annual first sunburn of the summer.

Once I suffer through the first searing, and subsequent shedding of peeled skin, I won’t likely burn again for the rest of the summer.  In the past, I would claim that I only started to tan after the first sunburn, as that sunburn is the “base” for the rest of the summer’s sun-filled activities.

While there may be some truth in the “base-tan-sunburn,” the reality is the pain of that first sunburn creates a scenario where I remember my sunscreen protection for the rest of the summer.

The same is true with our sinful nature.

As with the sunburn, often our first brush with a particular sin is the “base” for continued sinful activity with or without protection.  Sinful scenarios can cause pain. They can cause a tangible reminder of the sin.  They can have “peeling” regrowth, as a result.

Also, like the sunburn, our sin can be painful enough that we will remember our protection against it.  Essentially we will experience the pain of the sin and subsequently do our best to avoid experiencing it again, as with the use of sunscreen.

What is the sunscreen protection against sin? The Word of God.  He’s given us the instruction manual on how to protect ourselves, as well as what to do when we fall short within that sinful nature.  This is why it is so vitally important, as Christians, that we are studying the Word and placing it firmly in our hearts.  It is the protection that we need.

Remember what Paul shared with us in Romans 6:14 (NASB), “For sin shall not be master over you, for you are not under law but under grace.”

Whether your sin/sunburn is a base for further activities, or if it is a stark reminder that you need protection, I would encourage the ladies of the Iron Porch to seek God’s will this week about how best to protect yourself.

~Emily

sunscreen

 

Culinary School Expectations

My husband and I often tag-team in the kitchen.  We normally work as a pretty good team on favorite recipes, but new ones tend to create drama. I begin to lose patience and get some attitude.  It’s usually accompanied by a snotty comment. Inevitably, my husband throws up his hands and says something to the effect of “you’re the one who went to culinary school, you do it.”

I think this is a more common reaction than we recognize.  When we lose patience or when we get aggravated, we have similar reactions.  When we feel we know better or when we feel that someone should behave a certain way, we have similar reactions.  It’s the reaction of literally or figuratively throwing up your hands and saying “you’re the one who…blah, blah, blah” and you’re able to insert whatever finish to that statement that you want.

At work, one could add “you’re the one who is in charge or has the degrees.”

At the grocery store, one could add “you’re the one who works here.”

At church, one could say “you’re the one who went to seminary or has been a Christian longer.”

I’ve been thinking about it for a few weeks, and I’ve concluded that when we use this reaction at work, in relationships, and especially at church, it’s not helpful.  It becomes blame-shifting in a passive-aggressive manner while justifying why we should be held more accountable for the interaction.

When you look at the Garden of Eden, you see Adam react in this blame-shifting manner when God asks what has happened after they ate the fruit.  In Genesis 3:12-13, Adam states “The woman you put here with me—she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it.”  Adam blames God and the woman.  In turn, Eve replies, “The serpent deceived me and I ate.”   Neither takes responsibility for their own role in the sin.

Because we don’t accept our own sinful behavior, we end up not exercising grace. And that dear sisters is when we start to say things like “you’re the one who….blah, blah, blah.”

Even though I really did go to culinary school, I’m going to try to control my patience level and not push my husband to the point he throws his hands up at me.  I challenge you to find an area of your life that you can work on too!
~Emily

chef

Tripping Hazards

Have you ever tripped and fallen?  I’m not talking a little misstep.  I’m talking about the full-on-fall to the ground type of trip.  Have you ever experienced that?

This last Saturday morning, I got to experience that very thing.  As I was walking with a group of ladies in the streets of Birmingham to attend the Connecting Ministry Conference, I misstepped on a lower portion of asphalt and went crashing to the ground.  While flying through the air, time stalled. I literally thought “please don’t let my jeans rip, please don’t let my coffee splash on anyone else, please don’t let my purse get scratched.”spilled coffee

And down I went.  Smackdown on my bad knee.  I managed to bloody up both palms, twisted my ankle, and bruise my knee pretty good.

I also managed to startle my group.  Imagine this…I’m at the back of the group when I conducted my solo-ballet performance. However, a city worker saw my antics and came running towards our group (as though he was going to make it super-speed and catch me).  As I went down, Erin felt me brush across her hip and she immediately thought I was trying to move her out of harm’s way.

As I’m on the ground in the middle of the street in downtown Birmingham, the rest of the group turned and assumed their appropriate friendship roles.  They each assessed the scene for danger, but it was more than that….they each played a specific role.

Cheryl, the founder of the ministry hosting the conference event, immediately starts asking if I’m okay and what she can do to help.  Carrie, our prayer team leader, immediately cried out for some heavenly assistance.  Janice, the mama bear of the group, immediately tried to start helping me up.  Erin, the best friend, asked if I was okay, took my purse, and then started laughing at me.  (Okay, she didn’t really laugh right then…but she did later!)

Sometimes falling into sin looks similar to me tripping in the street.  We don’t see the danger of sin ahead of us and it “sneaks up” on us. It jumps up and grabs us when we are least expecting it.  It pulls us down…sometimes quickly…sometimes as though time stalls so we can really think through the impacts of the sinful behavior.

Each of us needs to surround ourselves with women who will assume specific roles when we trip into sinful behavior.  We need a friend who will ask if we’re okay and try to help. We need those who cry out to Heaven on our behalf.  We need the one helping us up. And we need the closest confidant, who will hold our purse and will later laugh with us when the situation is over.

That circle of ladies, who each assumes a role, are the ones that help us live a more Christ-like life.  They hold us accountable while praying with us and assisting us with recovery.

I love those ladies who each assumed their roles when I fell on my hands and knees in the streets of a big city.  I love them more, knowing that they would each assume similar roles if they saw me trip into sin.

~Emily

“…remember this: Whoever turns a sinner from the error of their way will save them from death and cover over a multitude of sins.” ~James 5:20 (NIV)

 

 

 

 

“Dog Down”

I was 19 years old the first and only time that I hit a dog with my car.  I was traveling on a lonely stretch of I-40 from Albuquerque, NM to Altus, OK at about 10pm.  It was dark and I was one of several cars pacing slightly above the speed limit when out of nowhere a dog bolted across four lanes of traffic.   I slowed down as much as possible, but was unable to swerve, as there was a car in the lane next to me.  The front, left bumper clipped the dog in the back left hip.  This caused the dog to spin into a summersault landing in the medium.

During this time, I had been chatting on a CB radio with my then-husband who was in the truck in front of me.  As soon as I hit the dog, I yelled over the radio “DOG DOWN!”

I was so upset to think I may have killed the dog.  I pulled over to check the dog.  Several others pulled over too.

The gentleman who had been in the car one lane from me said, “Thank you for not swerving….you would have hit me for sure and then we’d both likely have gotten hurt.”  By then I was crying.  A local man offered kind words by saying, “Don’t worry…that dog lives right over there and runs into the interstate a couple times a week.  This isn’t the first time he’s been hit.”

How many times in life have you been the dog…running into traffic…running straight into the hurt you’ve already experienced…running straight into sinful behavior?

Continued sinful behavior hurts in many ways:

  1. It hurts us personally.

When we sin, we typically end up hurting ourselves in some capacity.  Lot’s wife hurt herself with sinful behavior.  She disobeyed her husband’s instructions, given by a loving God.  She then faced very serious consequences by giving into the temptation of sin.   “But Lot’s wife, behind him, looked back and she became a pillar of salt.” (Genesis 19:26)

  1. It hurts others.

Catastrophic events can occur for others when we continue to sin.  For instance, when King Herod was angry about the birth of Jesus (Matthew 2:3), he ordered the death of all male children in the Bethlehem region who were under two years old (Matthew 2:16).  In Herod’s rage, his sin caused tremendous hurt to the children and families in that area.

  1. It creates more sin…more hurt.

Often sinful behavior creates more sinful behavior. In Genesis, we see Eve sin by eating from the one tree that was forbidden. That sin creates a scenario where she tempts Adam to commit sinful behavior.  In turn, hiding in shame and covered with lies also becomes sinful behavior.

Sin can be an uncomfortable topic to discuss but know this…we are all sinners.  Every single one of us! And we all have the opportunity to accept this amazing gift of forgiveness and salvation.  After accepting that gift, continuing to deliberately sin is a cycle that creates hurt to yourself, towards others and it potentially cycles into more sin.

You become the dog that runs into traffic repeatedly, even at the cost of hurt.

This week I want to encourage you to turn from sinful behavior…it’s only causing some type of hurt.

~Emily

“No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.”

~1 Corinthians 10:13 (NIV)

Dog Down