Messy Christians on the Go

For those of you who would like a handy reminder of the truths contained in this blog, you can buy it as an eBook on Amazon:

http://www.amazon.com/Gospel-Therapy-ebook/dp/B00BQ37HFQ/ref=sr_1_4?ie=UTF8&qid=1374455373&sr=8-4&keywords=gospel+therapy%27

After you’ve read it, send us your comments. We promise to respond!

How To Thrive After Being Crushed by the Church – Part 2

Do you feel the church has used you up and thrown you away?

That it was a bait and switch experience? You got in, and then they threw the rule book at you?

You were promised a life of happiness, victory over temptations, and a new power and control.

Instead you were more miserable, your vices got worse, you failed more often, and you felt stuck and helpless.

And if you dared to speak of these things, instead of receiving support you were told it was your fault. You weren’t doing enough of the things (rules) sincere Christians were supposed to do.

Like more bible study, deeper prayer, being more committed to church and community group.

So you put your whole heart and soul into being more disciplined in the disciplines.

Only to crash and burn even more.

You eventually concluded that this Christian thing didn’t deliver. And you felt betrayed and angry.

You know what? You’re right to be angry!

You have a right to expect to hear the gospel preached every Sunday.

You have a right to be reminded that your sins are forgiven, that you are accepted in Christ, that you are a new creation in Jesus, that it’s not about your performance, but Christ’s that has merited heaven and God’s affection for you.

So go ahead and be angry at the church because it prefers to dole out rules for living instead of the glorious gospel of Jesus Christ.

Pray and ask God to change your pastor or find another church.

What you need to see though, is that your anger is directed at the church, not at Jesus. He’s your life and freedom and joy. He has kept his promises.

You are justified. All your sins are forgiven.

You are sanctified. You are wrapped in the righteousness of Christ.

You are loved. God chose you in love from before the foundation of the world.

You do belong to God. He loves you as much as he loves Jesus.

He’s not the one who has betrayed you!

Go ahead. Smile!

How To Rid Yourself of Doom and Gloom

Today I woke up with a long list of grievances I compiled through the night of all the things that were wrong in my life.

Instead of realizing this was a tactic of the devil, I indulged in my black mood.

I vented all over my husband. I criticized the condition of our home. My children weren’t living up to my expectations. Even the cat was wrong today, if we had a cat.

I had no desire to pray on my way to work. Truth is, I was going to continue grumbling and enjoying my well-deserved pity party of one.

But then I reached into my book bag and pulled out an article on the doctrine of our Union with Christ. It was written fifty years ago by noted English bible teacher, Arthur Pink.

God met me there because when I finished it, my gloom was gone and I was rejoicing in the gospel.

Here’s what I learned that changed my heart:

1) Those old saints knew their stuff and preached it. The deep truths, mostly forgotten today because they might offend, are the only prescription for a healthy heart.

2) The doctrine of the Union with Christ is central to our understanding of who were are as Christians. Without it, we see ourselves as individuals tied to a lifeline to Christ, much like an astronaut twirling in space who is attached by a cord to the space capsule.

3) We view Christ as a solo act, independent of the Father and the Holy Spirit, and separated from the people he came to save. Nothing could be farther from the truth.

4) Christ and his people are inseparable – it is an eternal union that began before the foundation of the world and made known and enjoyed in time.

5) It is the foundation for all the other blessings we enjoy in Christ – the new birth (regeneration), the forgiveness of sins (justification), the remodel of our lives (sanctification), and our new bodies (glorification).

6) This union is so real and vital and intimate that God has never viewed us apart from Christ! And God never sees Christ apart from his church. He is the head of the church.

4) We are told in Scripture that Jesus became flesh for us; when he died on the cross, we died with him; when he was buried, we went into the tomb with him; and when he was resurrected, we were raised with him.

We have never been alone!

We are never alone now.

And we will never be alone in heaven. We belong to Jesus and that union is secured for an eternity.

All of these blessings come to us through the gospel and by faith in Christ.

He secured them. He merited them for us. He has given them to us.

Ephesians says we are seated with him in the heavenly places. That’s because Jesus is there, and where he is, that’s where we are, too.

Go out and tell somebody you have a new address!

 

 

 

 

 

 

How To Pray Really Badly

The Lord has heard my supplication; The Lord will receive my prayer. – Psalm 6:9

The experience here recorded is mine. I can set to my seal that God is true. In very wonderful ways He has answered the prayers of His servant many and many a time. Yes, and He is hearing my present supplication, and He is not turning away His ear from me. Blessed be His holy name!

What then? Why, for certain the promise which lies sleeping in the psalmist’s believing confidence is also mine. Let me grasp it by the hand of faith: “The Lord will receive my prayer.” He will accept it, think of it, and grant it in the way and time which His loving wisdom judges to be best. I bring my poor prayer in my hand to the great King, and He gives me audience and graciously receives my petition. My enemies will not listen to me, but my Lord will. They ridicule my tearful prayers, but my Lord does not; He receives my prayer into His ear and His heart.

What a reception this is for a poor sinner! We receive Jesus, and then the Lord receives us and our prayers for His Son’s sake. Blessed be that dear name which franks our prayers so that they freely pass even within the golden gates. Lord, teach me to pray, since Thou hearest my prayers.

– From Faith’s Checkbook by C.H. Spurgeon

When I read this I was reminded of my sin of unbelief. I know God hears my prayers. I understand that much. But where I lose it is when he doesn’t answer them in the way I want him to. And when that happens, I immediately conclude he’s not listening to me, or worse, caring about me.

That’s utterly sinful because it maligns the character and promises of God. 

Truth is I want my prayers answered now and according to my will, not his.

Upon further reflection, I realized, too, that God is answering my prayers all around me, as well as in the lives of the people I pray for, but I don’t have eyes to see that because I insist on having the answers my way.

Just today a friend told me he had sold his last painting, the one that nobody wanted.

“You prayed for that, remember?” he said.

I hadn’t remembered.

That was another indictment. I  had prayed without expectation. My expectations of God were little, if they existed at all.

I was seeing things about my prayer life that were not pretty.

But instead of flogging myself and telling myself to do better next time, which I know I will fail at, I reminded myself of the gospel.

Jesus prayed perfect prayers, full of hope and faith and belief in God.

And God has put his perfect praying record to my account.

That’s my only hope. His prayers, not mine.

I can rest in that and keep praying!

 

 

 

 

 

How Three Little Words Can Change Your Life

All world religions, no matter which one, have three words in common:

Get to work.

That is very bad news.

It means the responsibility is entirely on you to appease the god, to win his approval, to satisfy his demands.

And the worst news of all is:

You never know if you’re doing enough.

You have no confidence, no peace, no rest in your own work because you know it’s not perfect.

And the deity doesn’t help you either.

In fact, he’s silent.

In contrast, the gospel is utterly unique.

Christ’s three words are:

It is finished.

What is finished?

Everything you need in order to be reconciled to God the Father.

That is Good News!

1) Christ paid for all your sins so you could be forgiven. All your sins – the ones yesterday, the ones today, and the ones you’ll do tomorrow.

2) Christ appeased God’s wrath by becoming the sacrifice to atone for your sins.

3) Christ closed the enormous gap between you and God so now you have a Heavenly Father.

4) Christ, with his own life, paid for all your disobedience, transgressions, deliberate and unintentional sins, unbelief, and willful denial of God.

5) Christ satisfied God’s law by dying a death you should have died.

6) Christ paid the debt you owed God. You are now free from it.

Christ is the only true solution for your sin problem.

He did it all.

The job is done.

Why would you ever want to settle for anything else?

 

Why IsThe Good News Really Good News?

If it’s been a while since you’ve read the book of Romans, I recommend a re-read. Especially chapter 1, although the entire book will change your life.

Verses 1 through 7 is one large, explosive sentence that will rock your world.

Paul, who wrote the book, calls himself a slave of Jesus Christ. Where was his self-esteem?

He was called to be an apostle (a sent-one). Who called him? God did. Paul didn’t appoint himself like so many do today.

Paul was set apart for the gospel of God. That was his job description. He didn’t have to forge a career path, or construct a vision for his ministry.

And what gospel was this that Paul was set apart for?

The same gospel that the prophets preached in the Old Testament concerning Christ, the Messiah. This gospel was not a new message for New Testament people, but an ancient message promised to God’s people from Genesis all the way through to Revelation.

Jesus Christ was both God and man. His human lineage came from David and his identity as the Son of God was declared according to the Spirit when Jesus was resurrected from the dead.

It was this gospel that Paul was commissioned to preach to the Gentiles.

Have you been called to belong to Jesus Christ? Has God revealed his Christ to you as the solution to your sins and separation from God?

If the answer is no, re-read Romans 1: 1-7. Then pray this prayer:

Lord Jesus, thank you for paying my debt, bearing my punishment on the cross and offering me forgiveness and new life. Knowing that you have been raised from the dead, I turn from my sins and receive you as my Lord. Amen.

If the answer is yes, you do know him as your Lord, know this: it is God who loved you to this. It is God who called you to be a saint (set-apart one).

This was God’s idea, not yours!

Go out and tell someone!

Leave me a comment if you prayed to receive Jesus today.

Will The Real Gospel Stand Up?

What is the gospel?

Is it, “Ask Jesus into your heart”?

Or is it to give your testimony in public?

Actually it’s neither.

The word gospel means good news. It’s an announcement, a report, of the historical facts of Jesus Christ and him crucified.

It tells you that you don’t need a set of rules for saving yourself because the good news is that Jesus has done the work for you.

From A to Z, the gospel is about Jesus. His life, death and resurrection according to God’s plan.

The gospel is not someone’s testimony about how he or she became a Christian. They became converted through the gospel, but their personal story is not the gospel.

If there was ever a group of people who could have given their personal testimonies about their relationship to Jesus, it was the apostles. On a few occasions when they did, they spoke of their fear and failure. Instead they spoke of Christ and his cross for sinners.

God himself says that his power lies in the gospel. This is the means by which he brings people to believe in his Son.

The gospel is not a set of directions for saving yourself, but good news about what Jesus has done to save you.

So what’s your responsibility in this?

You job is to believe God. To believe that he sent his only Son to rescue you from sin and death and hell. And when you place your faith in Jesus, you become a new creature in Christ, God adopts you into his family, and you live your life as someone who has been resurrected to a new life in Christ.

You are no longer your own, but you have been bought with a price, the priceless life and blood of Jesus Christ.

And from that moment on, you live in gratitude to God and in love to your neighbor.