Forgiveness Is Not Enough

SinnersPrayer2Oh Happy Day, Oh Happy Day when Jesus washed my sins away!”

That gospel song speaks to the awesome forgiveness we experience as Christians as a result of what Jesus has done for us. And how we all need it! Nothing in my past held against me. I’m washed clean.

Some variety of the sinner’s prayer is often promoted as the critical step in becoming a Christian:

“Dear Jesus, I am sorry for my sins. I believe you are the Son of God, who came and died and rose again for me. Please forgive me of my sins, and come into my heart. Amen.”

Oh Happy Day, indeed!

But that’s not enough. The forgiveness step in salvation, as wonderful as it is, is only one small piece. Jesus, Paul, and other New Testament writers present a much more radical picture of what it means to become a follower of Jesus.

Paul said clearly, “If you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.” (Rom. 10:9) That’s clear. Believe in your heart. Confess with your mouth. You are saved! Hallelujah!

But that’s only the beginning.

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What’s Different After Good Friday?

Three CrossesIn a word, EVERYTHING is different!

How well I remember the Good Friday when everything changed for me. I had gone to church all my life, but something was terribly wrong. I knew a lot about God, but I didn’t know HIM. That night it all changed. It happened to be on a Good Friday when I met Jesus. Right then my spirit became alive, and everything else followed.

It took some time for God to “grow me up.” I had a lot of things to learn, and a lot of old stuff to get rid of. Life still happens.

But I’m different. I’m confident in the end of the story, and that God’s work in me and through me will be accomplished.

Paul said, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.” (1 Cor 5:17). That’s the central message of the cross. We sometimes forget that becoming a new creation is still a process. But the only reason we have any hope at all of becoming new is because of Jesus.

Here are some things that are different because of what Jesus did on Good Friday:

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When It’s OK To Ask God For Things

When It’s OK To Ask God For Things

Yes, I ask God for things. This morning I asked God for something specific. It’s something big, at least in my eyes. I’m sure in God’s eyes it’s not a big thing at all.

Have you asked God for something specific? Are you still waiting for an answer? Have you wondered whether it’s really OK to ask God for things?

Just a couple weeks ago my husband Al and I were watching our two older grandchildren for the evening. Andrew is seven, and he was excited about the movie Frozen he had seen, as well as about his upcoming birthday. He wanted the video, and was not ashamed to ask, “Can you get that video for me when I turn eight?”

If you’re a parent (or grandparent!) you know how much you love giving gifts large and small to your children. If one of them is in trouble, or hurting, you want them to come to you for help. You would be embarrassed and upset if they felt they couldn’t ask you.

But if the only time your children spoke to you is to ask for something, you would also be upset. (Sadly, sometimes that does happen.) You want other things for your children also. You want them to grow up, to be grateful, to become strong, and in the process you want more from your relationship with them than only giving them gifts.

God calls Himself our Father. And the Bible affirms that He loves to give us good gifts! (Matt. 7:11) Can you imagine how hurt He must be when we shrink back from asking Him for the things we need, and even want? He loves to be the One we come to when we are in trouble or in need.

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2 Questions to Help You Decide If Your Marriage Is Too Destructive To Save

2 Questions to Help You Decide If Your Marriage Is Too Destructive To Save

I’m going to try something dangerous. I’m going to write about something I have only observed at close hand, though I have not personally experienced it from the inside.

I want to share my heart about facing a difficult or destructive marriage. (And those two questions to ask come at the end of this post.)

My fear is that someone in a dangerously destructive marriage will hear something in my writing that encourages them to stay, or that someone who is unhappy will hear something in my writing that encourages them to go when the marriage might be saved.

But perhaps that struggle is exactly where these thoughts can be helpful. I offer them with humility and with hope that you find them encouraging. Some such marriages I have observed:

  • A family member’s marriage marred by repeated infidelity and violence.
  • A good friend whose husband abandoned her while she was pregnant. Twice.
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MEMO: Getting Past Your Past

Have you ever felt really stuck? I don’t mean you’re simply at a loss for words when writing a business proposal or a school assignment. I mean something big has its claws in your brain and you feel like you just can’t move. No matter how hard you try you can’t get rid of the baggage that is weighing you down and holding you back.

That “something big” could be any number of things. It might be:

  • a troubled or abusive childhood
  • domestic violence
  • a history of mental illness
  • an addiction to alcohol, drugs, pornography, or gambling
  • a series of failed relationships
  • sexual indiscretions
  • a divorce
  • a business failure
  • an abortion
  • the death of a loved one

As Patrick Dempsey says to Reece Witherspoon in the movie Sweet Home Alabama, “So you have a past. Who doesn’t?”

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