Let me first and foremost declare that outside of Christ I am nothing, can do nothing, and have no hope whatsoever. He saved me, dead in the trespasses and sins in which I once walked, following the course of this world, a child of wrath, not because of works done by me in righteousness, but because of his own great love and bountifully rich mercy toward me. God saved me from death, from bondage to sin, from an eternity in hell, to be made alive in Christ, raised up with Him and seated with Him in glory. (Eph. 2: 1-7) To quote a friend, "(1) I did not deserve it and (2) I did not deserve it and (3) I still do not deserve it."
"For by grace (I) have been saved through faith. And this is not (my) own doing; it is the gift of God, not the result of works, so that (I) may (not) boast. -Eph. 2:8-9 (italics mine)
Relying wholly upon my Savior I confess that I am weak. He tells me that His power is somehow made perfect in my weakness, when I comprehend even more fully my own inabilities, so my confession of my weaknesses is my boasting of His power to save me and carry me where he wills. (2 Cor. 12:9-10)
Next, let me clarify that I am a lover of Doctrine. Some see the word "doctrine" as something above which the modern-day Christian must rise and be free, throwing off the shackles of narrow and confining restrictions. I, however, see doctrine as teaching and instruction in the truths of Scripture. Now, this isn't an argument of "my truth" verses "your truth", but a simple fact. Find the word "doctrine" in a dictionary and it will tell you that it means a: something that is taught, and b: a principle or principles in a branch of knowledge or system of belief. It may also mention that it is synonymous with "archaic", and there we find the differences in understanding today. To balk at the word "doctrine", and not further explore what the doctrines of the church teach about God is to allow a sorry misconception to stand in the way of knowing Him better. God's Word tell us that:
"All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work." -2 Tim. 3:16-17
In order for the teaching to occur and the competence to be attained the Scriptures must be studied and meditated upon and internalized. Understanding comes from organizing the principles of Scripture, which are consistent from Genesis to Revelation, into the doctrines which it teaches. I need all the help I can get to understand eternal truths, and I am so very grateful that God has given the gift of insight and wisdom to so many who have gone before and studied the Scriptures and shared in their own writings what they found there. From Augustus to John Calvin to R. C. Sproul, I have been able to learn even more about my glorious Lord, and I am ever so grateful.
What I meant in my earlier post was that there are times when the writings of a Calvin or a Sproul just aren't enough- the Bible itself is my final refuge. Like a child who has cried and wailed to the point of exhaustion, nothing will satisfy my soul like the embrace of my Father, in whose arms my sobs calm to deep raggedy breaths, and finally peace.
Further, I want to be sure to clarify that I do not- in my right mind- ever, ever, EVER dream that our church family would begrudge my son his entertaining Christmas gift. I know that that thought is so very far from their hearts and minds as to be non-existent. No question. I was referring to the whispers of deception to which I am sometimes, at low points, vulnerable.
Also, the "plastered on smile" in church to which I referred was not in the worship service, where I behold our Lord with only wonder, love, and gratitude. I meant that in the hurried rush of between service and Sunday school fellowship there are times when I simply don't want to bring the room down with a genuine answer to the query, "How are you?" I know, really, that in the right time and place, I could actually answer with my true feelings and be loved and embraced and ministered to. I know this because it has happened and I cherish our church family for the very reason that they are living out the commands of our Lord in feeding the hungry, visiting the sick, and sharing with the poor, (Mat. 25: 34-40). No question.
As far as our plumbing issue goes, the shower is fixed! Jim took an entire day, but it is fixed and better than ever. It seems that plumbing problems come in threes, as one of the toilets needed an adjustment, a bathroom sink needed a fix, and the shower went kablooey. They are all in working order now thanks to my patient and handy husband.
And finally, if you are standing behind us in church while we are worshiping the Lord in song, I am never judging you by the melodiousness of your singing, but am buoyed by the joyfulness of your offering.
"Make a joyful noise to the LORD, all the earth!Serve the LORD with gladness!Come into His presence with singing!"- Psalm 100:1-2
You know who you are. ;-)