stage light

The whole of the gospel speaks of dying to ones self in order that Christ may live within. I have often prayed the prayer that David prayed in Psalm 51:10

Create in me a clean heart, O God, And renew a steadfast spirit within me.”

There’s risk involved with praying such prayers. For the heart of man to be clean, it must first be revealed unclean. As a general principle, people don’t enjoy having their sins revealed. For sin to remain in our hearts, it needs to hide away from the light. My pastor used to always say that sin acted much like cockroaches; when the light is turned on, the roaches scatter. They aren’t comfortable hanging out in the light for everyone to see them. There’s danger in the light. Light inherently defeats darkness.


So we hide and hope no one sees who we really are. An atheist friend of mine once told me that his most fundamental problem with Christianity in principle was the notion that men (and women) are inherently sinners. He preferred to start with the premise that men are inherently good. It’s a nice thought, but in practice, it just doesn’t hold true. There is vast evil bound up in the hearts and imaginations of man.

More striking is the fact that when we do something ‘wrong’, we inherently know that we’ve done something wrong. Ben Carson mentioned this phenomenon in his book, One Nation. He recounted a story about when he shot a bird with his BB gun. No one had told him not to shoot a bird, but he felt so guilty and knew that what he’d done was wrong. We do sinful things and feel the effects of those sins not just in respect to consequences but in our hearts.

The beauty of grace is that God has provided a way that we can live in freedom from guilt and shame. Sin no longer holds us captive because it was crucified and buried so that we can be raised to new life with Jesus Christ. Though we were once slaves to sin, we are now completely free. Hence, whatever is revealed in our hearts as unclean or wrong is not a source of condemnation but rather a reason to rejoice. Once we are aware there is an area of need, we can become free from that which held us bound. With every need, we find more freedom. The closer we draw to Christ and the more we take on his likeness, the more we are able to find complete peace and safety.

Suddenly, nothing can hold us back. Where once the voices of our accusers rang out, the voice of our Savior answers that he remembers our sin no longer. Though they call us a slave, he calls us a son. There is absolute freedom in truth.

“Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” John 8:32

“Jesus replied, ‘Very truly I tell you, everyone who sins is a slave to sin. Now a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it forever. So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.'” John 8:34-36

“Even so we, when we were children, were in bondage under the elements of the world. But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law,  to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying out, ‘Abba, Father!’  Therefore you are no longer a slave but a son, and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ” Galatians 4:3-7

Some have mistakenly believed that Christianity is a religion of guilt but the opposite is true. The gospel was never about finding fault that is a human thing to do, not ordained by the divine. In fact when Jesus was asked the question in John 9:2-3 “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” Jesus answered, “Neither this man nor his parents sinned, but that the works of God should be revealed in him.” The disciples were interested in assigning fault. Jesus was interested in revealing the glory of the God through healing.

Yes, God hates sin. He hated it so much that he made provisions so that it would never have a hold or claim on us again. That is the gospel. That Jesus LOVES! That Jesus HEALS! That we are FREE!

The next time your accusers come (even if that accuser is your own inner voice) and try to tell you aren’t good enough, answer back in truth. That, “God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8. He doesn’t demand perfection. He doesn’t sit around counting our mistakes and writing them in the stars. He is faithful to show us who we are in the light of his holiness and we then can continue conquering those things that try to hold us captive. We have been reconciled to him and he is ever working to draw us near.


There is no shame or guilt for the former things or even in the ways we fail today or tomorrow. Like a loving father, he continues to love us and allows us to start each new day whole and clean before him. Rather than hiding from our innermost battles, we should stand up and confront them with the power of the gospel and the knowledge that we are more than conquerors and we are free from their groping little claws. One touch of his blood and all is renewed.


The Snake in the House

Snake under the Fridge

Snake under the Fridge

I learned an important lesson yesterday. Creepy crawly critters move fast and often unnoticed. I was getting some ribs prepared to go into the oven and needed something from the other fridge, the one on the back porch so I opened the slider, got my ingredients, came back in, closed the door and resumed my work in the kitchen. A few minutes later I heard something fall behind the turtle tank. I looked to see what those crazy turtles were doing in there that could possibly cause the extra filter pack to fall behind their tank and saw nothing but two turtles swimming frantically toward the glass. I shrugged it off as a work of gravity and went back to work. Until something moving caught my eye. Right there in the middle of my dining area, slithering across the tile was a long black snake.

I’m not necessarily afraid of snakes. I think they’re pretty nifty from a distance and when you know they’re there but when they appear suddenly, randomly, in places they should never be, the only appropriate reaction is to scream and run and that’s precisely what I did. My fifteen year old daughter was at the computer desk across the room and heard my screaming “it’s a snake!” and she (being terrified of snakes), screamed even louder and ran. My thirteen year old daughter waited a minute, unsure about what could possibly be going on, before emerging from her room and walking outside. Luckily, my six-year-old was already playing outside. So there we were, the whole family on the porch recovering from the shock.

My neighbor heard us screaming and came over with a stick. Neither of our husbands were home. We ended up with two women, four girls under the age of 15 and one 6-year-old boy, in the house on the lookout for the slithery sinister being to emerge from the fortress he chose underneath my refrigerator. He was not coming out. Eventually, I resumed cooking while watching out one eye for him to fly out at my feet at any given moment. I had to get my ribs in the oven!

After about an hour, he came out and another neighbor had arrived and our efforts to shew him out the door ended with him under the stove instead of the fridge. We removed the drawer under the stove and were poking things in there to coax him out and he was so scared he just wouldn’t come. Finally, my Pastor (also my neighbor) showed up and took over. We tried to get him out in a humane way, but the uncooperative little booger met his demise. Pastor, the hero, killed the snake and freed us ladies from the reign of the little tyrant. It was an adventure.

When my husband got home, he mentioned that we should have killed him last week…Last week, he was on our front porch eating a frog. We all looked at him and tried to get pictures of nature in progress (which I would share, but they are terrible). We thought it was kind of cool. Black snakes are generally good to have around since they eat pests so we’ve let him live comfortably and close to our doors without much resistance. Still, my husband said we may have allowed him to get a little too familiar and comfortable with us making it more comfortable for him to sneak in the house.

Either way, it made me think about the little things in my life that I don’t necessarily bother to deal with right away. I think sometimes we see sin lurking at the door and we don’t bother to totally get rid of it because since it’s not inside it doesn’t bother us that much. We may even think it’s kind of cool sitting out there. We may toy with the idea of looking at it and keep peeking out the door to check on it and see where it is. What we don’t realize is that when we allow it access to the close proximity of the door, it can creep in so fast that we never saw it coming until it’s there, stuck and we can’t get it out because it’s weaved into a crevice somewhere where we can’t even see it anymore other than the occasional moments where it rears its little head out from underneath. Maybe even in this, it takes Pastor with a shovel in hand to bash our little creeper in the head before we can grab it by the tail and get it outside.

I often hear people talk of not opening the door for the enemy of our souls to come in. I contend we should take it a step farther and guard the yard. We should be like Joseph and RUN the second temptation comes along. James says “Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death.” James 1:15. I am determined to not even allow sin to be conceived in my heart instead of waiting until it’s in the house and trying to stop it. It’s much easier that way.


The Beauty of the Murky Mire

At what point do we cease to stand?

When the lie has consumed the mind to blur truth to mere suggestion?

Is there a moment when our spirit screams?

Maybe it’s long before we’ve reached the edge.

Maybe it’s that first sighting of the precipice, when a small voice says “looky there”.

Maybe it’s then that we are warned not to glance the other direction.

Perhaps as we approach the forbidden the voice of reason dims in light of the voice of justification.

We too often justify the lie to make truth fit our desire rather than conform our desire to His thoughts.

His ways are higher, yet I see you standing on the bottom looking up wondering how you got there.

Maybe you know…

Today my heart is heavy.

Another one bites the dust while sin smirks in the face of those who have conquered it.

I refuse to give up.

Fallen around me, deep to the murky mire

Wake up now & climb!