Doubt and Facts

Sometimes I doubt my salvation. It is not a nice feeling. It’s a sick, wretched feeling.

My head knows I’m saved. Deep in my heart, I know I’m saved. But sometimes the devil fills my heart with fear, and I don’t feel saved.

Thank the Lord my salvation doesn’t depend on feelings. It is based on facts.

Fact 1: all humans sin.

Ever since Adam and Eve sinned, opening the worst “Pandora’s Box” you ever heard of, all humans have been born with a nature that wants to sin. Just ask anyone who’s raised children, or even worked with them a significant amount. No one has to teach a child to bite, hit, kick, or selfishly hoard his toys. He does it because that is his nature.

But if you’re looking for a checklist of sins, here’s a simple one based on the Ten Commandments (see Exodus 20):

  • Lying, even “white lies.”
  • Disrespecting your parents.
  • Desiring what isn’t your own.
  • Stealing.
  • Murder, and hatred counts as murder in God’s standards (see 1 John 3:15).
  • Failing to love, honor, and serve God above all other persons or things.

Fact 2: God is holy.

He is so holy we can’t really comprehend it. His very nature is righteousness and justice, so our sinfulness repels Him.

“Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts;
The whole earth is full of His glory!”

-Isaiah 6:3 (NKJV)

But we are all like an unclean thing,
And all our righteousnesses are like filthy rags;
We all fade as a leaf,
And our iniquities, like the wind,
Have taken us away.

-Isaiah 64:6 (NKJV)

Fact 3: God loves sinners anyway.

“For God so loved the world…”

-from John 3:16 (NKJV)

But God demonstrates His own love toward us…

-from Romans 5:8 (NKJV)

A holy God who loves sinners. That’s a painful position. God can’t just gloss over sin and ignore it forever. His holiness will not allow it. Yet He loves us wicked people.

So He did the unthinkable.

Fact 4: Jesus died for sinners.

Jesus Christ, the Son of God and therefore part of God, wrapped Himself in human flesh and came to earth. He lived on this planet as a Man, surrounded by sin, even tempted by sin, yet never sinning (see Hebrews 4:15). He was innocent.

If an innocent person takes the punishment of a guilty person, justice is satisfied and the guilty person can go free.

Jesus died at the hands of the rulers of His time on earth. The Romans executed Him by crucifixion, one of the most agonizing deaths known to mankind. But Jesus had done nothing wrong. And He was the Son of God: He could have easily escaped. It wasn’t really the Roman soldiers who killed Jesus.

Jesus gave Himself as a sacrifice to appease a holy God who cannot abide sin. The Lord God laid all the sin of the world on Jesus Christ, and punished Jesus for sin He never committed.

So that we sinners could go free.

who Himself [Jesus Christ] bore our sins in His own body on the tree,

-1 Peter 2:24a

Not with the blood of goats and calves, but with His own blood [Jesus] entered the Most Holy Place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption.

-Hebrews 9:12 (emphasis mine)

Jesus Christ bore our sins–our sins–in His own body on the cross, and with His own blood obtained eternal redemption. He saved us forever.

Fact 5: Jesus rose again from the dead after three days in the tomb.

This fact sets Jesus apart from every other “holy man” who has walked on earth. This fact proves that Jesus is who He says He is. It proves He has the power to deliver us from sin.

This fact means that Jesus has conquered death, the ultimate consequence of sin. It’s so important that the Bible says:

And if Christ is not risen, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins!

-1Corinthians 15:17 (NKJV)

Fact 6: through faith, we obtain the salvation Jesus offers.

This gift of forgiveness of sin does not automatically apply to every person, just because Jesus died. You have to place your faith in Jesus. You can’t do anything else to save yourself.

What does that mean, “place your faith in Jesus”?

It means to acknowledge you are sinful and cannot clean yourself. To believe Jesus’ sacrifice, and that alone, pays for your sin. To accept in your heart Jesus’ death and resurrection on your behalf, and to turn your life over to Him through gratitude.

After all, if you acknowledge that your sin put Jesus on the cross, surely you will no longer want to engage in it.

Jesus’ sacrifice alone can save us. When we accept it by faith.

For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.

-Ephesians 2:8-9 (NKJV)

“Not of works.” If you’ve read much on my weblog, you know I talk often about how a Christian should live. How we are to shun the world and follow Christ. How we are to hate sin and pursue righteous living.

Which brings me to my seventh fact.

Fact 7: good works can never save us.

Nothing we do is capable of saving us. Nothing.

Faith alone saves us. So what do the good works have to do with anything?

Take the story of a woman in the Bible who believed Jesus could heal her. She told herself, “If I just touch the hem of His garment, I will be made well.”

She believed that with all her heart. But until she actually touched the hem of Jesus’ garment, she was still sick. The moment she reached out and touched, she was made well. (see Luke 8:43-48)

And Jesus told her, “Daughter, be of good cheer; your faith has made you well.”

Contradiction? No. Until her faith moved her to action, it was useless.

Until our faith in Jesus’ sacrifice moves us to action, it is useless. Until our belief in Jesus leads us to turn our backs on this world and our sinful desires, to throw ourselves on Christ’s grace and commit to serving Him, our so-called faith is not true faith at all.

True faith is all-consuming.

And when you surrender to Jesus because of His sacrifice on your behalf, that’s what Christians call “getting saved.”

I didn’t have a dramatic salvation experience. Nor was it exactly a neat, concise prayer as happens to many. (You can read my full testimony here.)

But I have placed my faith in Jesus Christ.

His sacrifice alone can save me. Not my good behavior or “being perfect.” I rely on His mercy every day, and through His strength I strive to obey Him. Because I love Him, oh, so much. He deserves to own every bit of me.

I hear sermons where the preacher warns against sitting in the church, sometimes for years, pretending to be or even thinking you are a Christian. I’m not criticizing their preaching–they speak the truth. But the devil will use anything, even a good sermon if he can. And he does. Almost every time. Sometimes he’s more successful than others.

Praise God my salvation doesn’t depend on my feelings. It depends on Christ’s blood. When the devil torments me with the suggestion that maybe I’m not really saved after all, I can point to the cross and say, “Yes, I am saved because Jesus makes me clean!”

Friend, if you’re not saved, I hope this makes it clear how you can get saved. There is no shame in coming to Jesus. None!

Congratulations if you read this far!

-Miss Darcy

Life Is Too Short to Be…

A few days ago, I ran across one of those sweet, “inspirational,” slightly sappy Facebook sayings that bug me for multiple reasons.

But, to spare you, I’ll focus on the main reason. At first it seems like a nice little message about avoiding negative people and investing in friendships that uplift you. Then it ends with–

Life is too short to be anything but happy.

Oh, really? You mean my personal happiness is the most important thing in the world? Let’s take this to its logical conclusion: If life is too short to be anything but happy, then my happiness is my first priority no matter who I have to crush to make myself happy.

No.

No, my happiness is not supposed to be my first priority. Jesus didn’t come to live on this inglorious planet among sinful people, and then die a ruthless, brutal death for those selfsame sinners, just so I could be happy on this earth.

Jesus came to give us much more. Blessings more rich, more lasting, more powerful than a mere feeling of happiness.

But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved),  and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus,

-Ephesians 2:4-6 (emphasis mine)

We were dead because of our sins. Dead men walking, bound for hell. But Christ came to wash away our sin and set us free to live and sit together with Him in the heavenly places. That’s an awesome gift.

When you turn your life over to Jesus, He promises never to leave you. He offers peace, strength, and joy (not the same as happiness). But He also promises trials, pain, heartache.

Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution.

-2 Timothy 3:12 (NKJV)

All you have to do is desire to follow Jesus and you’ll suffer persecution. Imagine what happens if you actually succeed!

“These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”

-John 16:33 (emphasis mine)

Jesus never promised that lovely feeling of happiness. In fact, He promised the opposite.

But it is worth it to live for Jesus.

To serve Him on this earth. To speak with God unashamed. To rest in knowing our physical death will take us to Paradise. To have the comfort only our Creator can give when this life crushes us.

I guess those trite little “you need to be happy” mottoes frustrate me because they’re cheap. They cheapen the powerful grace of God. Yes, my life has been full of wonderful happiness, interspersed with very real pain. But who can tell whether the pain did not do me good?

God does give us happiness. But the truest joy, which transcends happiness, is found in knowing you are doing right, knowing you are completely at peace with your Creator. Watch out for sweet-sounding messages.

Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ. For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily; and you are complete in Him, who is the head of all principality and power.

-Colossians 2:8 (NKJV)

Life is too short to be anything but fully–and I meant utterly, nothing-held-back–surrendered to Jesus Christ, our Savior.

HE IS ALIVE! May that truth inspire you anew this Resurrection Sunday!

-Miss Darcy

The Land Is Filled with Blood

Our land is full of beauty,
of mountains, prairies, lakes;
dazzling grandeur and humbler beauties,
each lovely and beloved.
But the land
is marred
by blood.

We boast of education
for all,
no matter who they are,
or where they’re from,
or what they own.
We boast of equal opportunity,
a chance to mold your life
as you will choose.
But still flows silently,
ignored, or accepted,
a stream of innocent blood.

Beautiful homes, beautiful cars,
well-maintained roads,
electronics by tons,
clean water,
much food,
good shelter and warmth…
By other land’s standards
our poor are rich.
But our land
is filled
with blood.

We do not worship Molech,
burning our children
to death on his altars.
We revere education,
travel,
careers,
wealth,
convenience,
fame,
power; therefore,
we fill our land
with blood.

In unpretentious buildings
tiny humans die,
slain, defenseless,
unable to cry out.
And yet no legal crime is done.
No court will bind
the murderer.
No law will stop
this wrong.
How can we boast of greatness
in this land?
when mass murder is lawful,
provided those who die
are yet unborn.
Shame blackens our land.
Yet we do not weep,
Though the land
is filled
with innocent
blood.

-Miss Darcy

Warrior

I’ve wanted to write about this for a while, but I wasn’t ready. On Sunday the Lord renewed my strength (to use a bit of “Christianese”), and now I think I can write it.

The Christian life is war. (You’ve heard that, right? But until you realize it yourself, it doesn’t mean much.)

And we forget. We forget that our enemy walks about as a roaring lion, looking for anyone to devour. You leave one gate even slightly–slightly–unguarded, and he’ll come charging in.

Actually, “charging” isn’t his only tactic. He might slowly offer you something: a thought, a book, a movie. See if you take it.

“Why, yes, that looks interesting. I believe I’ll check it out.”

So he hands you more. And more. And pretty soon he’s kicked back in a recliner in your heart’s secret room, wreaking havoc, and you wonder how on earth you got so powerless. So fearful. So covered in guilt.

(Just take my word for it.)

He has a lot of weapons. And once he gets you down, even a little, he loves to pour on the guilt.

“You can’t take that to Jesus. Think how ashamed He’ll be of you. You’ve disgraced Him. How can you look Him in the face? You’re gonna have to fight this on your own.”

Of course, we can’t. But we try. And fail. Which invites more guilt. Until, even though we know we’re saved, our hearts can hardly believe it. Certainly, they can’t act on it.

But that’s not the way it’s supposed to be.

We do not have to live in defeat. We do not have to let Satan lurk in our hidden rooms. We do not have to make friends with the thoughts he throws into our heads.

We do not have to be afraid to face Jesus.

In fact, going to Jesus is the only way we’re going to win. You have to fall on your face (metaphorically speaking; or physically, that’s okay, too) and lay your heart before Him. All of it. Because anything you try to handle on your own gives Satan potential. Satan is stronger than you. He’s not stronger than Jesus.

I’m not talking about getting saved. I’m talking about surrendering pieces of your life that you resumed control of, probably without realizing it. Give it back to Jesus.

I’m not particularly good at this.

By nature, I’m a passive person. And surrendering to Jesus is no passive act. It takes attention to jerk my own leash when I’m wandering off and say, “Darcy, get back here. Jesus didn’t say you could go down there.”

But I, for one, am sick of wishy-washy Christianity in my life. I’m sick of slipping and, instead of getting up, wailing over the fact that my enemy threw me in the mud again. I am a princess of the Kings of kings. I’m supposed to be a warrior-princess, not a mousy-timid princess.

I can only be a warrior-princess if I stick close to the Commander of the army, the Crown Prince himself. Yes, He is merciful with my mistakes. (If He wasn’t, I’d have to drop my sword right now.) But He is also encouraging, bold, fearless. He gives me His own power and expects me to stand up and use it according to His battle plans.

Like I said, I’m not especially good at this. But, oh, I’m going to try.

I want to be a warrior.

-Miss Darcy

 

High Standards

(Forgive me if this post reads more like a rant. I guess it’s a subject that hits close to home for me, so maybe more passion came out that usual.)

It’s a funny thing: whenever you set high standards for yourself, other people automatically assume you expect the same standards of them.

How do I know this? Personal experience. (smile)

But it’s a faulty assumption. My holding to a standard in no way condemns you. If God has convicted me in a particular area, that doesn’t mean I’m projecting that conviction onto you. It doesn’t mean I can’t be friends with you.

And, to wade into deeper waters, even if I hold to a principle which applies to all people (say, whether abortion is a moral wrong), that doesn’t mean I hate people who disagree with me. It doesn’t mean I don’t care about them or even that I won’t be friends with someone who flouts that principle.

The high standards God gives us in the Bible are for all His children.

So when the Lord reveals them to me, one by one, I intend to follow them as best I possibly can.

Did you catch that “one by one”? It takes time–a whole lifetime, probably, and then some–to discover every standard. I may find one principle today that you may not find until next year. That’s okay. You’ll find some before me, too. (If we keep looking, of course.)

It’s good to be patient with one another.

But…

(You knew that was coming, right?) Suppose the Lord convicts me about, oh, say, making pure entertainment choices. And further suppose that the Lord lays a specific boundary on my heart, say, no movies rated over G. (This is purely hypothetical, mind you.)

Just because you don’t hold the same standard does not mean I should drop it. I can hold my standard without judging you. Even if I secretly think that all Christians should hold this standard, I am not necessarily judging you.

Granted, you don’t know my heart. I might be self-righteously condemning you as less spiritually astute. Or I might realize that I have just as far to go toward holiness as you, only in different areas, and I might never give another thought to it. You don’t know.

But if you ask me to see a PG movie with you, it’s okay for me to say, “Thank  you so much for the invite, but I never see movies rated over G.”

Then it’s up to you how you take it.

This specific example is, I repeat, purely hypothetical, but the point remains.

Brothers and sisters, hold fast the standards God lays upon your hearts. Don’t be ashamed of them. If anyone asks why, then tell them. Otherwise, you may never need to speak. Just quietly, boldly shine. If your standard convicts someone, then may God use it to glorify Him.

And don’t automatically assume someone who holds a different standard is judging you. That standard may be so ingrained by now that they rarely think about it. (Believe me, it’s possible.) Don’t condemn them because you think they are condemning you when they have never said a word to indicate so.

Sometimes, it is okay to argue for a standard, even at the expense of losing friends. If you listen to the Holy Spirit, He’ll tell you when to speak and when to hush.

If the Lord ever blesses me with children, you can believe I’ll try to teach them the standards God has taught me. I “preach” standards to my younger sisters. I might even get specific with standards on this weblog because no one has to read it who doesn’t want to. But to my friends, I usually won’t speak unless they ask, in which case I’ll be happy to explain.

The Bible does tell us not to judge (Matthew 7:1), meaning do not condemn. After all, we’re not God. We have no authority to condemn. (Although, wouldn’t you rather be condemned by a person who has no real power than by the Almighty God? I digress.)

But the Bible also advocates clinging to the pure standards of Christ and striving daily to conform ourselves even more to His likeness.

Whether anyone else likes it or not.

-Miss Darcy

Dreaming of . . . Motherhood?

I don’t often turn my heart inside out on my weblog, but others have handled this topic so well theologically that I have nothing to add in that corner. So here’s my two cents.

I say my dream is to become a published author, and it is. If you get to know me better, you might uncover other things I daydream about, too. But the dream that burrows deepest, the dream for which I would sacrifice all the others, is the dream of being a wife and mother.

Yes, a mother.

When people find out that I want to be the mother of as many children as the LORD sees fit to give me, I get all kinds of surprised reactions.

“Whew, girl, you sure you know what you’re asking for?” Well, I’ve had the privilege of baby-sitting six–how shall I say?–highly energetic kids. Believe me, I’ve seen some chaos.

“You’re a brave girl.” Their sky-high eyebrows translate brave into crazy.

“Oh, that’s . . . interesting.” I can tell by their face that they want to say, “But don’t you have any other, bigger plans?”

Well, no, I can dream of nothing grander than the position of wife, mother, and teacher of my children.

Nothing grander than “losing my figure” to bring a new life into this world.

Nothing grander that wearing shadows under my eyes and a mouth that constantly yawns because my baby thinks nighttime is playtime.

Nothing grander than tripping over toys that we didn’t have time to put away yesterday.

Nothing grander than endless kitchen cleanup and endless loads of laundry.

Nothing grander than losing sleep to tend a child who has caught the latest “stomach bug” going around. (Yes, I’ve already done this once, so I have a touch of experience with the reality of it.)

Nothing grander than pulling my hair out trying to teach my first-grader to read.

Nothing grander than old cars and ancient furniture, if necessary, so I can afford curricula for my children’s home education.

Nothing grander that squeezing ten kids into a three-bedroom house. (If I get that many. Whenever I say “as many children as the LORD gives me,” people automatically assume around twelve or fifteen. But my own mother had only three children when she would have gladly had more.)

Nothing grander than hearing “Mommy” a thousand times a day.

Nothing grander than leading souls from birth toward the Lord Jesus Christ.

Nothing grander than bedtime prayers, silly songs on car rides, and hugs and kisses just because.

Nothing grander than shaping upright citizens for this country.

Nothing grander than fretting and praying and praying some more as I try to guide young lives to their full potential for their Creator.

Nothing grander than growing wrinkled and gray-haired as I pour myself out for these lives the LORD might give me.

No, I can’t imagine anything grander.

Of course, I can’t chase this dream the way I would normally chase a dream because a girl needs to wed before she becomes a mother. And a girl who goes around chasing a husband isn’t particularly likely to get the kind of marriage she wants. So I wait and pursue other dreams, trying to follow my Lord in my everyday life now.

Maybe you dream of becoming the kind of politician that will help turn this country around. (Heaven knows we need it.) Or finding an out-and-out cure for, say, malaria. (The whole world would find that useful.) Or being part of the manned mission to Mars. (Maybe you can finally convince evolutionists that they’ll not find extra-terrestrial life. Maybe.)

I’m not criticizing your dream.

I’m saying that, honest-truly, motherhood is my loftiest dream. And that should be okay. After all, God sent His Son not as a full-grown Man, but as a Child. In the care of a mother. He wanted Jesus to grow up the way all people do, starting as a single cell in the womb of a mother.

So the next time a girl, little or not-so-little, dares to admit that she wants to be a mother, don’t belittle her. Don’t mock her dream because it doesn’t hold the same value to you. The world does need good mothers, after all.

And I will do my best to smile at others’ consternation when they discover I want to be “merely” a mother.

-Miss Darcy

By This All Will Know

The movie, God’s Not Dead 2, made me think, which is something I value highly in a piece of entertainment. So perhaps you all will forgive another meditation sparked by the movie.

As we talked over the film after viewing it, my sister said, “One thing I find unrealistic is how much support the main character got from other Christians.”

Unfortunately, I think she has a point. If we knew of a brother or sister in Christ who was on trial for a faith-related situation, would we go out and hold up signs? Would we go to their door to offer what little encouragement we could? Would we kneel for even fifteen minutes to lift their predicament before the Lord God?

Well, would we? Likely as not, we wouldn’t.

We get so petty in Christianity. Just because that person doesn’t share the exact same doctrine, we refuse to support them or their ministry. Take the movie itself, God’s Not Dead 2. There are quite a few Christians who tear the movie to shreds for one reason or another. And sure, maybe some of their objections are valid. I could complain about one thing right this minute.

But I won’t.

Because we can be such Pharisees. We find a subject where the Lord convicts us, and we mock others who have yet to be convicted in the same area. We cling for dear life to our traditions, scorning others, when maybe we have it right, and maybe they have it right.

Yes, holy living is important. Yes, we should display excellence in all we do, that God may receive glory. Yes, correct doctrine is important. Yes, the little details matter to God.

But what did Jesus tell the Pharisees?

Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faith. These you ought to have done, without leaving the others undone.

-Matthew 23:23 (NKJV)

The Pharisees got all the little stuff right, and Jesus said they ought not to leave them undone. But Jesus scolded them for skipping the more important matters.

Justice. Mercy. Faith.

If you and I both believe that Jesus alone, the only Son of God, is the way to salvation, then we can work together for Christ. I understand that there are certain false doctrines which may exclude someone from unity with God’s people, but those are big things. Most of the stuff we quibble about isn’t as big as we think it is.

  • If that person believes in infant baptism and you don’t, it doesn’t automatically mean you aren’t both followers of Christ.
  • If you believe the gifts of the Spirit have ceased and that person doesn’t, that doesn’t preclude you from working together.
  • If that person believes women should wear dresses and head-coverings and you don’t, you can still team up to win souls for Christ.
  • If a brother believes in Gap-Theory Creation and you’re a literal six-day-week believer, well, I think the Gap Theory is dangerous. But it doesn’t mean that person is lost.
  • And if that person expects a pre-Tribulation rapture and you expect post-Trib, that doesn’t mean one of you is unsaved.

We get things mixed up. What matters is that all have sinned and deserve Hell (justice), but Jesus has come to deliver us from both sin’s punishment and sin’s power while we live (mercy). And all we have to do is take God at His Word and rely on Him (faith).

If we go around neglecting the things God calls important, then we can just hush about the littler things.

(Pause while I recover from the slap that sentence gave me.)

Jesus said that our good works ought to push people to glorify our Father in heaven (see Matthew 5:16). But it is something else that identifies us as Jesus’ disciples.

By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.

-John 13:35 (NKJV)

Love for one another.

Not good works, although we should do them. Not our words, although they should be both gracious and true. Not specifically love for the lost, although we should have that.

But love for one another brands us as belonging to Jesus.

So a Christian film doesn’t meet your expectations. I understand your concerns–believe me, I have many of my own, and I may voice them gently. But what’s the point of slandering the movie makers ruthlessly on the Internet?  What does it accomplish other than making Christians look like back-stabbers? (After all, non-Christians can’t understand our detailed differences.)

If a brother differs from you in his doctrine, but he still believes Jesus is the only way, why not join him in his outreach ministry? He’s trying to save souls! Can you not at least support him in prayer?

If a brother is struggling or suffering, why can’t you support him with your words, prayers, and actions? Even if he differs with you on some point in the Bible.

I think our quarrels must grieve Jesus almost as much as the lost souls who enter eternity every day. After all, He prayed for us to be united.

I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me.

-John 17:20-21 (NKJV)

“That they may be one in Us.”

Why?

“That the world may believe that You sent Me.”

Brothers and sisters, our divisive behavior discredits the Gospel of Christ.

How can we do such a thing? How can we refuse to set aside our differences when they hinder the very message we want to spread? How can we be so self-centered?

How can I be so thoughtless?

-Miss Darcy