Beyond a Mere Christianity

Mere Christianity was a compilation of C.S. Lewis’ beliefs, in which he set aside definite doctrines. He stated, ”at the centre of each (religion) there is something, or a Someone, who against all divergences of belief, all differences of temperament, all memories of mutual persecution, speaks the same voice.” 

Many, by reading the book, have been encouraged to embrace Christianity even as he did. My purpose in writing is to look beyond what he believed, spoke, and wrote, to discover a greater depth, beyond a mere Christianity; for a mere Christianity will not suffice to proclaim and live the legacy God has bestowed on His children. When we try to make Christianity a common faith, we are in danger of dumbing down the power that Christ died to give us. We lose the essence of the faith that is by grace alone, the working of the Holy Spirit for revelation of the truths of God’s Word. When the gospel is watered down so that everybody can believe, we forfeit the wealth that comes only by personal relationship with the Father and Jesus, His Son. Christianity comes at a high price, the blood of Jesus Christ, and requires more from us than we are able to give. To receive the inheritance that is ours in Christ is a supernatural act of the Holy Spirit working through new hearts, drawn to and committed to Him. His grace does not relieve us of duty, but binds us to it and fulfills the requirement, whereby we experience this new life, a heavenly life above and beyond what most people know.

Others have written from Lewis’ theme, but from different perspectives. In the following articles (perhaps more) we will incorporate many facets of His kingdom that our heavenly Father reveals to us, through His Word and His Holy Spirit, in and through the life of His Son, Jesus Christ. Through as many of these as He will bestow His grace and blessings, we pray He will make clear HIs role as a loving heavenly Father, Creator, Redeemer and Life; His presence, power, His name, His kingdom and His will. These are His truth, promises and blessings for a people who know Him, fear Him, love Him, obey, worship, serve, praise, pray, and proclaim in power the good news of Christ, who are being transformed as living sacrifices and conformed to His image, bearing the fruit of love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, faith, meekness and temperance, holiness, righteousness, truth, grace, humility and Godliness.

This is to live the “abundant life” (John 10:10) in the “fulness of God” (Ephesians 3:19) ~ “Christ in you, the hope of glory” (Colossians 1:27)  here in this life, as He continues to prepare us for eternity with Him. True Christianity is separate from any other religion ~ and the reality of a holy life in union with our heavenly Father and our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, by the power of His Holy Spirit. He reveals Himself to and in us, not as Someone, but as Jehovah, the Lord our God. He sires children of His own who are HIs image-bearers. Though not perfect, we are HIs off-spring through His Son, as He continues to lead us through an imperfect world, shining through us His holiness and humility.

Inexhaustible Goodness
God, Who Is Here
Weakness and Meekness

Endear and Endure
Three Powerful Words in the Chrisitian Vocabulary
The Right Man For the Job
A Holy, High and Heavenly Calling
Covenant Living and Giving
Seeing Is Believing
How Exciting is Your God?

What is Jesus Doing in Your Life?
Good Works
Peace and Contentment

Bound by Grace ~ Free to Love
Abiding in Light and Truth
Surviving in Enemy Territory

Thriving Under Oppression
His Utmost For My Highest
Radical and Riveted
Focus, Love and Rejoice
Arrows in the Hands of a Mighty God

Many Religions
There are many religions ~ religions for the body, religions for the mind, religions for the spirit and soul ~ of man. Nations are formed by their religions. Children are born and grow up in their religions. We live by what we know and are continually taught. Everyone has a religion, even if they cannot express it verbally. The mind of every person is a tablet, written on from their birth into this world.

In my autobiography, I express my birth as if being given a coloring book and a set of crayons. At every age and stage, I was given a new coloring book and a new set of crayons. My mind, heart and spirit took in everything I saw, heard and experienced, so as to live accordingly.  What I read and was taught became my religion. I was given a Bible, learned what was written there sporadically, from sermons in church, Sunday School, and vacation Bible school. The principles were taught in our home, but not verbatim. The golden rule was prevalent, with a general understanding of right from wrong, but not Biblically profound. Neither my parents, nor I, understood anything beyond what you can see and touch, although I had a sense of something more. Anything spiritual was beyond comprehension, and so, not taught.

Difficult times were accepted as normal, with only dim hopes of improvement in this life. “When We All Get to Heaven” was the favorite hymn sung in church, with the accompanying  hellfire and brimstone sermon. 

How I got from there to writing this treatise on a Christianity that is far and beyond anything I learned in my childhood, is based on a powerful act of God’s grace that overtook, overcame, and overrides everything I had been taught. This Christianity of which I speak is not man’s religion but from heaven, from God, revealing Himself as Creator and Redeemer of the human race. He reveals His plans, His work, His presence, His power, His sovereignty in the writings of the Holy Bible. These are all beyond the normal scope of human wisdom and living.

If we read casually, we will reap a crumb or two of the religion we are looking for. If we study hard and often, diligently seeking something to believe and live by, we may see some difference in our lives. We may even sense a religion to share with others. We may worship with others of the same faith, but, in essence, it is still only man’s religion. It is nominal, or what we think of as normal Christianity.

It is what the world sees, and it colors God and the church with only a slightly different tone than the world’s colors. 

Mere living is below the standards of God’s kingdom. It is settling for the world’s goods.  It is negating the faith given from and in a living God to settle for man’s ideas of life. In the days ahead, let us leave these thoughts of man’s idolatry and look heavenward to the Lord, our God and the only true religion of which He is the focus, our Lord Jesus as the center, and the Holy Spirit, among us and within each of us directing all things according to the will of the Father. By His grace, we will complete all that He has planned for these articles. Please pray for us as we pray for you the reader.

Father in heaven, our Lord and God, we thank you for all that you are, more than we can ask or think, for our Lord, Jesus, and for your Holy Spirit. We praise you for your Word, the truth of your Word, the authority of your Word, for your Living Word, Jesus Christ, commanded in us by the power of your Holy Spirit. Speak to the hearts of your children as you dwell within us. Make us aware, through your Word, written and Living within us, of something more than we have been told about you. Give us a deeper understanding of who you are, so that we know whose we are, so that we may continue to proclaim the legacy of your kingdom, to your glory and our joy. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.
Fran

Image:Google

Breakthrough

In February, Jerry and I were waiting in the podiatrist’s exam room for him to have his foot x-rayed. So as to encourage him, I said, “There is light at the end of the tunnel.”

His response was, “Are you sure it is not a locomotive?”

I said, gently, “Yes, I am sure.”

There was no definite meaning, nor explanation for my words, just sharing the spirit of God’s grace as we have experienced His presence through all our difficulties in the past.

The nurse wheeled him out, leaving me alone with my own thoughts in the cold, tiny room.

The still, small voice to which I have become accustomed in quiet times, asked, “Am I your God?’

Humbly, I answered, “Yes, Lord.”

“Then, trust Me.”

As simple as that, without audible conversation, I knew that however long this new episode would last, the Lord was assuring me of His presence and power with us.

Six Months Later
We have waited, as in times past, for healing, not only for treatment for the diabetic ulcer that podiatrists started in February, but for tests and an eventual stent for an aneurysm in his leg in April, to allow blood flow to the foot. Added to this was another wound from that incision

In July this wound closed after treatment with a wound vac. The same treatment did not work for the foot. This was their last resort after trying provadine, skin grafts, collagen, and foot baths. So, they sent us to the wound healing center thirty minutes away.

In this first visit last week, they took a culture that showed MRSA, a staph infection, for which they prescribed clindamycin. Yesterday, for our second visit, we were encouraged with the wound half the size as last week. The wound specialist believes this to be the reason for lack of healing, assuring us of complete healing soon.

At the outset of this sore, the primary care physician prescribed two rounds of antibiotics, but he, nor the podiatrist did a culture. There were no visible signs of infection while under the care of the podiatrist.

We are not resentful that they did not do a culture, but glad that it was done last week, believing that all things are revealed and healed in God’s timing.

Hidden Infection
This all reminds me of how things can be hidden. Just as we all carry the infection of sin within us, not knowing that we need healing, it manifests itself in different ways. Relationships are broken, families are torn apart, life can be emotionally and physically unhealthy because of hidden sin.

It is when we come to the only one who can do a culture for us that we know our sin, and accept the prescription, believing that He is able to bring total healing.

Jesus Christ came to earth as the Great Physician over 2000 years ago, He was, and still is, our breakthrough.

Gracious Father in heaven, we praise you for all things; for Christ, your Son, whom you sent to reveal our sin and to heal broken lives. We thank you for wisdom given to men to solve physical problems and to provide healing, believing that all healing is from you, for your glory and for the purpose of our serving you, living in praise and thanksgiving for your mercy, your grace, your goodness and power in our hearts and lives. Thank you for the encouragement that Jerry might soon be able to wear his prosthesis, and that we will be able to worship with your people again. We ask for your healing for others who are ill, in need of physical and spiritual healing. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

Contentment vs. Anxiety

Why has it taken so long for me to write this post?

It is not because I have been at my task of caring for Jerry. It is not because there are not enough hours in the day to witness of the Lord’s goodness ~ this is the reason I write.

Titles come so very easily, but the meat is not always simple to come by. We long to publish the truths of the Father’s kingdom, but it must come by experience. And so this is true of the subject matter of contentment and anxiety.

Growing up in an environment of anxiety stamps a person for life, until we encounter Christ and learn of Him.

Then, we are born and sealed with His Spirit of promise, sanctified, and set apart for His use.

But even as Jacob wrestled with the angel of the Lord, so we wrestle for the promises that are ours in Him. This wrestling is the work of the Holy Spirit within us, bringing us to know the promises through God’s Word, claiming them, and working through life with the two-edged sword to destroy the strongholds that have have been set up in our lives.

There is as much difference between contentment and anxiety as between day and night. The difference is as light and darkness; as good and evil. And each has its ownership and connotations.  Books have been written, messages spoken and songs sung, and we could say more, but we post very simply today of how the Lord brings us from the anxiety of this life to contentment in Him.

The Source and the Fruit
Anxiety is the abnormal attitude of human beings; the seed thought of every man; flowing from the spring of unbelief.

“O, ye of little faith.”

“Yes, Lord, I hear you. I recognize your voice. I acknowledge my lack of faith.”

“Why do you doubt?”

“I have no excuse. My thoughts carry me where I do not want to go. They seem to have a power of their own.”

“Have I not proven that I love you and am able to provide all that you need?”

“Yes, Lord, I am guilty of forgetting you and your goodness when my thoughts wonder away from you. When times are difficult I am carried away by the moment. I am still learning to be content in every circumstance. I confess my sin, and ask that your Spirit keep me in your Word, to always remember your promises. Let me not dwell on the things of the world, and the power of the enemy. But let your Word be the source of my thoughts, to do its work. Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation and the contentment that is ours in you. Bear in and through me the fruit of your Spirit of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, temperance; the fruit of holiness, righteousness, truth, grace, and humility. Fill me with your fullness, so there is no room for doubt or fear, but only thoughts of you, your grace and your glory.”
Fran

image: Google

Christ in the Heart of a Caregiver

Today marks our fifty-sixth anniversary. If you knew how we started, and what we had to work through, you would wonder how we made it this far. Had it not been for the Lord Jesus Christ, I would not be here, and being a servant to my husband would not have been an option. During this last valley we have been going through, the question has been asked, “If you knew what you know now, would you have married Jerry?”

I was honest in answering, “No, I don’t think I would.” My vision of marriage was like most other twenty-two-year-olds. He was the man I wanted to spend my whole life with, but no thoughts of ill health for either of us was in my mind. I was selfish then, and had I known, I would not have committed to such a marriage that would require being a servant for the rest of my life.

The True Meaning of Life
Years of learning the true meaning of life brought me through different stages of serving others, then to the point eleven years ago, with his amputation, to the reality that I would be Jerry’s caregiver for the remainder of his life.

It was before then that the Lord changed my heart and my life, so that I would be willing and ready to give my life to serve Jerry, “as unto the Lord.”

Unless the Lord brought me to this place, I would never have known the joy of being His servant.

With this said, I want to share how our Lord Jesus Christ dwells in my heart, strengthens and supplies all our needs “according to His riches in glory.”

Promises From God’s Word
References are from Colossians 1:27; Ephesians 3:16-17; and Colossians 1:11.

“To them (His saints, His people) God chose to make known how great among the Gentiles are the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.” Colossians 1:27

This is the means of our hope ~ Christ living within, in whom is all our hope for now and for eternity.

“that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—…” Ephesians 3:16-17

This is my life. Two main areas of service are Jerry, first, and then, Home. Everything else falls into the category of Other.

Christ is the center of all, shouldering all for me that Jerry needs.  He is our strength and shield.

Under the Almighty arms of Jesus are all we need for the care of our home. And according to His will working in us, we are enabled to care for the other things. Some of these may be ongoing; others may be on the spur of the moment. Except for posts on this blog, writing was put on hold this year. According to His will, and in His timing we will continue publishing our books.

When asked, “How do you do what you do, joyfully?”  ~ Joy and praise are part of a life of thanksgiving for all that Christ has done for us. Sacrifice for Jerry and others is the only reasonable response.

Gracious Father, thank you for this opportunity to witness of your grace in a world that seeks its own desires. We praise you for choosing the role of servant and caregiver for me and making it a joyful experience. Thank you for the fruitful years that you have provided for Jerry, for me and our family. We praise you for your continued wisdom, strength and grace for the days ahead. We never know where you will lead us, but we are assured of your presence, even as you have always dealt bountifully with me. Thank you for Christ, your Son, who lives within us, and in whom we live, as we dwell in the secret place of the most high, abiding under the shadow of the Almighty. Keep me humble in HimIn Jesus’ name we thank you and praise you. Amen,

images: Google

I AM a Perfectionist

I AM is a Perfectionist. Remember those italicized words in the King James Version, those smaller words that added clarity to the sentence from the Hebrew translation? I speak here as I have learned from the Great I AM.

I AM is a holy God, a perfect Father, Creator and Redeemer. The realm of His kingdom is perfect, nothing lacking, nothing out of order, no frustration, no oppression, no war, no anxiety, no fear, violence, sickness, death, disappointment or tears. In His kingdom there is no criticism, anger, jealousy, envy, dishonesty, or falsehood. He is surrounded by righteousness, humility, peace, harmony, joy, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness and temperance.

The LORD has established his throne
in the heavens,
and his kingdom rules over all.
Psalm 103:19

Through His Son, Jesus Christ, He rules in power, truth, grace, mercy and glory. From His own mind, heart and Spirit He lives and lavishes His own Being throughout His heavens. As a Perfectionist, He created the heavens and the earth, with expectation of having a perfect family bearing His image.

Did He go wrong somewhere? Then He is not a Perfectionist, and He is not able to rule and govern what He created.

Or is all still going according to His plans? Is providence the working out of His holy will?

Human Perfection
If we were perfect, then we would understand His plans and agree that He is perfect.

If we could see the end of all things as He has planned, we would understand His perfection.
We cannot, so we must look to the Perfect One who makes all things perfect.

“The trying of your faith works patience.
But let patience have her perfect work,
that you may be perfect and entire,
wanting nothing.”
James 1:3-4

Special revelation comes by the power of His Spirit in the lives of those who are His children, born of His Spirit through His Word. Within us He enables us to see beyond this world and its imperfections  (the list is too long). We are brought beyond the power of sin to be occupied with God. The heavenly Father, Creator and Redeemer, whose perfect, heavenly love, humbles us, and begins the process of perfecting us by the power of HIs Son and His Holy Spirit, to share His eternal kingdom.

We give up our human perfectionism when we understand that only He can make things perfect, and His plan for perfection was not intended for this earth, but for eternity with Him. The only perfect thing here on this earth is His love. In the end, it will perfect all those who are in Christ, His Son. We are holy and acceptable in Him, now and forever  (Romans 12:1)

Gracious and blessed Father, Perfect in all things, with the plan to perfect the disciples of Christ, your Son: in the power of your Holy Spirit, birth and train us according to your perfect will through your Word. Through us, by transforming our minds and hearts, make known your love to a perishing world . Fill us with your light that pierces the darkness and brings your children to a perfect love, joy and peace, as we wait for our Lord. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.
Fran
Related article: The Power of God’s Holy Will

Psalm 18:32
It is God that girdeth me with strength, and maketh my way perfect.

Psalm 19:7
The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul: .

Psalm 138:8
The Lord will perfect that which concerneth me:

Proverbs 4:18
But the path of the just is as the shining light,
that shineth more and more unto the perfect day.

Luke 6:40
 but every one that is perfect shall be as his master.

2 Corinthians 12:9
 strength is made perfect in weakness.

James 1:17
Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above,

1 Peter 5:10
But the God of all grace…make you perfect.

1 John 2:5
But whoso keepeth his word, in him verily is the love of God perfected.

The Power of God’s Holy Will

Contemplation abounds as I consider this title.

When the title The Power of God’s Holy Will came to mind, I had no idea where it would lead. Would this be an article or a book? I had no clue as to what to write. Waiting and praying, meditating on the different facets of this title left me unsure, except as the Lord would give me bits and pieces of the meaning of it.

The scope of God’s power covers more than is possible for any human to think, much less write. God’s holy will is beyond our knowing and writing, except when He reveals it or fulfills it in us.

We know what was God’s will for creation, because He did it. We know what His plans were in the first generations of creatures because we have the historical records. But, no one knows the reality of God’s will before it happens. We have prophecies that have been fulfilled, so we know those were God’s will. Some are still unfulfilled, but even in these, there are different interpretations as to how and when they will be fulfilled.

We are told in the Old Testament that we will know if a man is a true prophet, if what he says comes to pass. Until it does, we are not sure if the prophecies are God’s will.

By faith we believe what God’s Word says, based partly on what He has done already.

How did the prophecies and their fulfillments happen? Were these dependent on men? What power did they have to make God’s will happen? – None, whatsoever. The same power that revealed the prophecies to men is the same power that brings His will to be done. And there is no thwarting His will. His power and His will cannot be separated. Within His sovereign will is the power to reveal and fulfill.

A Circle of Subjects

In the process of these thoughts there have been other things circling, so as to see a relationship.

The study of Humility has been for me an ongoing process for years, especially since the publication of our study and review of Andrew Murray’s book Humility ~ the Beauty of Holiness.*

We have seen much interest in the work of the Holy Spirit in the last few weeks, even as we wrote four particular articles on this subject, and have heard questions and comments from others.

The subject that came into the circle, resulting in the following diagram, is Holiness.

So, what does all this mean?

It is simple if we follow the diagram clockwise. The Holy Spirit whom Christ sent is the power to reveal truth, wisdom and knowledge of God’s will in His Word, and to fulfill God’s will. God’s will is clearly revealed for us through Jesus Christ His Son, who came in humility, bringing humility from heaven to us. The Holy Spirit works the humility of Christ in us for one purpose ~ for our holiness. His power works through our humility to make us holy.

Christ lived a holy life and died to make us holy; to bring us to the Father as His image bearers. This is the bottom line, the purpose for all that God did for us, does for us, in us, and through us.

We are given new life in Him, to conform us to the image of His Holy Son, so as to make us compatible for eternity with Him.

Preservation and Sanctification

We used to make blueberry, strawberry and pear preserves, using the old-fashioned method, adding sugar to the fruit, and slowly cooking until it boiled down to the consistency we wanted. In the same way, the work of the Holy Spirit of Christ in us boils us down to one thing ~ HOLINESS.

“Follow peace with all men, and holiness,
without which no man shall see the Lord:”
Hebrews 12:14

It is the power of the will of God that preserves us, keeping us humble and holy, making us examples of His own work for others.

This circle never stops, but is a continual working. We can say all we want about God’s holy will, but we miss the point of faith and salvation, the revelation and fulfillment of His will, if anything is more important or a substitute for holiness. Jesus died for nothing less than holiness for His people.

 “Christ also loved the church,
and gave himself for it;
That he might sanctify and cleanse it
with the washing of water by the word,
That he might present it to himself
a glorious church,
not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing;
but that it should be holy and without blemish.”
Ephesians 5:25-27

 “ And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly;
and I pray God your whole spirit and soul
and body be preserved blameless
unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Faithful is he that calls you, who also will do it.”

1 Thessalonians 5:23-24

Dear Father in heaven, God of all grace and peace, holy and faithful, revealing your will to us, your people, by the power of your Holy Spirit through your Word and in us ~ how could we ask for anything more than to be conformed to the image of your Son, made holy to share your glory. You call us to holiness, to witness of the power of the Spirit of Christ within us. Fill us with your power to do all your will in humility and holiness, through Jesus Christ, our Lord, to whom be glory forever and ever. In His precious name, we pray.

Suggested Reading: A Broad Review of Andrew Murray’s Humility*


image: Google

A Year For Contentment ~ Continued

We are almost halfway through this year in our series on Contentment. I have personally learned much as I have prayed, studied, and written on this subject. Through these six months we have continued to see the extreme between oppression and contentment. We are writing articles for the blog and working on one of our new books, Thriving Under Oppression. We are seeing how contentment is the work in and through us by the Spirit of the Lord even in the middle of oppression. Please pray for this project, a much needed work of grace for God’s people, for His glory and kingdom in this year of our Lord.

Listed are articles we have posted. Following are titles of future posts. If we have not covered something of interest to you, or you have a suggestion or question for a post, let me know. We are still praying and waiting for the Lord’s leading for each one.

A Year for Contentment
Born for Contentment
The Authority of Contentment
The Essence of Contentment
The Image of Contentment
Contentment With God Our Father
Contentment in Jesus Christ
The Reason and Season for Contentment
The Center of Contentment
The Spirit of Contentment
Humility and Contentment
The Voice of Contentment
The Price of Contentment
The Patience That Leads To Contentment
The Flow of Contentment
Future Posts
Contentment vs. Anxiety
The Lens of Contentment
Joy and Contentment
Peace and Contentment
Contentment vs. Satisfaction
Obedience and Contentment
When Will I Be Content?
The Power of Contentment
Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for taking us in hand to explore from one end of the spectrum ~ from the state of oppression in which the whole world lives ~ to the other end ~ the state of contentment to which you call us ~ through your plan of redemption in Jesus, your Son. Please continue to brighten our hearts and our hopes while living in the middle of the oppression. We praise you for such a great love that overwhelms us and brings us in your blessedness in the Spirit of Christ to a life of worship and adoration now and for eternity. Continue to lead us in this divine contentment to share your grace with others; for your glory and our joy. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.