Today I Was Baptized… Again

Today I was baptized… again

When I was four, I asked Jesus into my heart…or so I thought. As was only fitting, I was baptized ten month later. I understood that I belonged to Christ and should obey Him. Now that I was a good person, I ought to obey my parents, memorize Bible verses, not lust after women, and go to church, a lot.

A Whitewashed Tomb

In light of my decision to follow Jesus, I counted myself righteous. I worshipped myself. I daily bowed before the idols of comfort, pleasure, and pride. I did not cherish Christ; I revered myself. My heart was characterized by self-righteousness, selfishness, covetousness, a critical spirit, pride, and more. I was a whitewashed tomb. Even when I looked polished on the outside, I was internally corrupt.

When I was dead

Though I was dead in my trespasses and sins, and was walking according to the desires of my flesh, Christ made me alive. In many moments, over many years, the Spirit worked. A miraculous change occurred. In a moment my eyes were opened. I saw clearly that I was unrighteous. I was the Publican; I was the tax collector. God exposed my wickedness.

Now what?

Soon baptisms haunted me. I had so many questions. Had I been genuinely baptized? Was I saved when I was baptized? When did God regenerate me? Had God accepted my childish prayer, corrupt and misguided as it was?

If yes, then why did my life conflict for so long with that profession?

If no, then I needed to be baptized.

My pride prevented me from accepting the obvious truth: I was born again after I was first immersed.

Raised in Newness of life

This morning at the Ridge Covenant Church, three people came to be baptized. However, the wind didn’t blow as planned; The Spirit didn’t follow the schedule. Instead, five were buried with Christ in baptism, and I was one of them.

When Pastor Andy opened the waters of baptism to all who were willing, I knew it was time. I could no longer refuse. It was time to own the truth: I needed to be baptized. So, despite my dry-clean-only pants, I got wet.

God’s Grace

The Spirit put up with my disobedience for over nine years. He was very patient with me. How generous is God’s grace! May He call me to fuller obedience until Christ is fully formed in me.

Discipleship of the Mundane – Part 4

Our lives do not culminate in a moment. We should not be hoping for one great photo shoot, because that is not what God is doing with us. Our lives are a story–they are interwoven with the next generation in a way that is impossible for us to understand.

Getting our sense of achievement and satisfaction out of cheerfully performing the tasks that are asked of us can so nothing but good in our lives. Seeing that God is asking something of you–and delighting in doing it for Him–brings the kind of peace with the mundane that can seem unattainable.

You are a Christian. This is Christian discipleship.

Why do you rejoice in making a dinner again? Because god rejoices in your doing it cheerfully, and doing it well. Why can you rejoice in cleaning the bathroom, doing the laundry, running the errands, making the beds? Because God delights in a willing and eager student.

Cheerfully embracing the mundane work in your life, diving into the challenges, working harder than you would think was possible at the little, at the trivial, at the boring–these are all ways to say,

“Use me Lord; I am your servant.”

-Rachel Jankovic, Fit to Burst: Abundance, Mayhem, and the Joys of Motherhood (Cannon Press, 2012), 43-44.

Discipleship of the Mundane – Part 3

We don’t know the value of what we do. We can’t always see why God wants us to be doing these things, so we want to negotiate with Him. Lord, couldn’t you think of something better for me to do? Or worse, rather that complain to God, asking for Him to answer us, we complain to others.

We fuss at the children for being what they can’t help being.
We get dreamy to our [spouses], explaining yet again how repetitive our lives are.
We droop.
We make fun of our jobs to ourselves and to others.
We belittle our work,
We make much of the mindlessness of it,
And, not surprisingly, we then lose interest in it.

But imagine we could switch this attitude into a situation where we understand the value of repetition. Imagine we could see a young girl at the piano, practicing scales with a word class teacher. Imagine that instead of seeing that she was being taught the fundamentals of something amazing, she was mocking it.

Imagine she was complaining and moaning and drooping.
Imagine she wouldn’t try them.
Imagine she was hollering to anyone close enough about how unfulfilling and demeaning this work was, Or just sighing to herself continuously.
Imagine that she used as her main argument that she was above this kind of fiddly work because she was meant to be a concert pianist.

I would hope that we would all see the foolishness of this kind of attitude. Feeling above it all is simply a way of showing that it is actually above you.

We have far more than musical skills to gain by cheerfully practicing the scales that God asks us to do. He uses things like this to train us for other things. We wants to see us perfecting the work we are given, cheerfully and willingly practicing when we do not see all the value.

-Rachel Jankovic, Fit to Burst: Abundance, Mayhem, and the Joys of Motherhood (Cannon Press, 2012), 41-42.

Discipleship of the Mundane – Part 2

Oftentimes [we] want [a calm, clean, simple life] for [our] real lives. We always want everything to look as if we have arrived, all the time. This is like focusing entirely on the victory moment.

Like a football player who never trains, but only practices his touchdown dance.
Like a woman who sets beautiful tables for a living but never feeds anyone.

Real life is messy because it is going somewhere. Things constantly need to be done because people are constantly growing. Repetition should not be discouraging to us, it should be challenging.

When we buy into this kind of idealism, we start seeing things as failures that are anything but.

Practice drills are not a waste of time.

Having another chance to work on things is not a sign of failure. Having room to improve is not something to be sad about, it is something that should encourage and inspire us.

God keeps giving me this to do, because this is what He wants me doing. If this is what He wants me doing, then I will do it with my whole being. He gave me the work; I will not back away from it and say it isn’t important. I will not sit on the sidelines of this drill and fuss about it.

The funny thing is that we know well that we learn through repetition.

We need to practice songs before we can sing them.
We need to try something over and over before we have mastered it.

We have accepted that part of being human. What we appear not to have accepted is the subject matter.

I don’t want to cook for the family again. I don’t want to do the laundry again. I don’t want to vacuum, to make a birthday cake, to blow a nose, to change a diaper, to pick up toys. I don’t want to practice this work that God gave me because, frankly, I’d rather not be good at it. Because, somewhere in there, we don’t like what God has called us to do.

-Rachel Jankovic, Fit to Burst: Abundance, Mayhem, and the Joys of Motherhood (Cannon Press, 2012), 40-41.

Discipleship of the Mundane – Part 1

God likes for His people to be stretched, to be challenged, to be pushed. This is often seen in the fact that we almost never feel like we have things under control.

When we finally figure out how to handle one child, we have another.
When we think the house is running smoothly, we move.
When we feel especially comfortable, we may have to deal with a hard providence.

God does not want us to be stagnant, to sit still, to rest on the laurels of success. He has us in training–He is pushing us to grow, to learn, to confess, to rely on Him more, to give more to others, to work harder, to laugh more. This is Christian discipleship.

The hardest part of this is that we have trained ourselves to be people who think in snapshots. We look at a photo of a dreamy house–and extrapolate a whole dreamy life from that one picture.

We see calm, clean, simple.
We see a life without trouble, without endless piles of shoes by the door.

We imagine that everything that happens there is calm, clean, and simple. We want that for ourselves–a life that could be summed up in one little picture of happiness.

The problem with pictures is that they have no direction. They have no goals. There are no obstacles in the life of a photograph. And that is the reason they are so appealing. We look at them and yearn for a life with no growth, a life of arrival.

But God did not create as creatures of arrival. He made us to need to eat all the time. He made us to need to sleep at regular and long intervals. He made us to need to need to breathe constantly.

You never look at the pictures of a beautiful living room and picture yourself in it sleep-deprived with a bad headache and needing to go to the bathroom. You do not envision the Cape Cod getaway as the place the whole family would get the stomach flu.

-Rachel Jankovic, Fit to Burst: Abundance, Mayhem, and the Joys of Motherhood (Cannon Press, 2012), 39-40.

Be Killing Sin or It Will Be Killing You

“Be killing sin or it will be killing you”

“There are two great things that are suitable to humble to souls of men. The first is due consideration of God. And the second is a due consideration of yourself. Of God, look at His greatness, his glory, His holiness, His power, His majesty and His authority, and of ourselves, to understand our mean, lowly, insignificant abject sinful condition.”

-John Owen, Overcoming Sin and Temptation, ed. Kelly M. Kapic and Justin Taylor, 282

Satan’s Devices to Keep Saints Doubting and Questioning –Part 3

Satan’s Devices to keep saints in a sad, doubting, questioning, and uncomfortable condition. –Part 3

5. By suggesting to saints that the conflict that is in them is found also in the hypocrites and profane souls:

For remedies, consider that

A. The whole frame of a believer’s soul is against sin
B. A saint conflicts against sin universally, the least sin as well as the greatest
C. The conflict in a saints is maintained for several reasons
D. The saint’s conflict is constant
E. The saint’s conflict is within the same faculties
F. The saint’s conflict is blessed, successful and prevailing

6. By suggesting to the saint who has lost joy and comfort that his state is not good:

For remedies, consider that

A. The loss of comfort is a separable adjunct from grace
B. The precious things still enjoyed are far better than the joys and comforts lost
C. The glorified saints were once in the same condition
D. The causes of joy and comfort are not always the same
E. God will restore the comforts of His people

-Thomas Brooks, Precious Remedies Against Satan’s Devices, 1652.

Satan’s Devices to Keep Saints Doubting and Questioning –Part 2

Satan’s Devices to keep saints in a sad, doubting, questioning, and uncomfortable condition. –Part 2

4. By suggesting to saints that their graces are not true, but counterfeit:

For remedies, consider that

A. Grace may mean either the good will and favor of God, or the gifts of grace
B. There are differences between renewing grace and restraining grace, between sanctifying and temporary grace

1. True grace makes all glorious within and without
2. The objects of true grace are supernatural
3. True grace enables a Christian, when he is himself, to do spiritual actions with real pleasure and delight
4. True grace makes a man most careful, and most fearful of his own heart
5. Grace will work a man’s heart to love and cleave to the strictest and holiest ways and things of God, for their purity and sanctity, in the face of all dangers and hardships.
6. True grace will enable a man to step over the world’s crown, to take up Christ’s cross; to prefer the cross of Christ above the glory of this world
7. Sanctifying grace, renewing grace, puts the soul upon spiritual duties, from spiritual and intrinsic motives
8. Saving grace, renewing grace, will cause a man to follow the Lord fully in the desertion of all sin, and in the observation of all God’s precepts
9. True grace leads the soul to rest in Christ, as in his ‘summum bonum’ –chiefest good.
10. True grace will enable a soul to sit down satisfied and contented with the naked enjoyments of Christ.

-Thomas Brooks, Precious Remedies Against Satan’s Devices, 1652.

Satan’s Devices to Keep Saints Doubting and Questioning –Part 1

Satan’s Devices to keep saints in a sad, doubting, questioning, and uncomfortable condition. –Part 1

1. By causing saints to remember their sins more than their Savior, yea, even to forget and neglect their Savior:

For remedies, consider that

A. Though Jesus Christ has not freed believers from sin’s presence, He has freed them from its damnatory power
B. Though Jesus Christ has not freed believers from the vexing and molesting power of sin, He has freed them from the reign and dominion of sin.
C. It is needful to keep one eyes on the promise of remission of sin, and the other eye on the inward operations of sin
D. Believers’ sins have been charged to the account of Christ as debts which He has fully satisfied
E. The Lord has good reasons for allowing His people to be troubled with sinful corruptions
F. Believers must repent of their being discouraged by their sins

2. By causing saints to make false definitions of their graces:

For remedies, consider that

A. There may be true faith, even great faith, where there is no assurance
B. The Scriptures define faith other than Satan tempts the saints to define it
C. There may be true faith where there is much doubting
D. Assurance is an effect of faith, not faith itself

3. By causing saints to make false inferences from the cross actings of Providence:

For remedies, consider that

A. Many things, through contrary to our desires, are not contrary to our good
B. God’s hand may be against a man when His love and His heart are set upon him
C. Cross providences are sent by God to work some noble good for saints
D. All the strange and deep providences that believers meet with further them in their way to heaven

-Thomas Brooks, Precious Remedies Against Satan’s Devices, 1652.

Satan’s Devices to Keep Souls from Holy Duties – Part 4

Satan’s Devices to keep souls from holy duties, to hinder souls in holy services, to keep them off from religious [activities].

7. By casting in vain thoughts while the soul is seeking God or waiting on God:

For remedies, consider that

A. The God with whom we have to do is great, holy, majestic, and glorious
B. Despite wandering thoughts it is needful to be resolute in religious service
C. Vain and trifling thoughts that Satan casts into our souls are not sins if they are abhorred, resisted and disclaimed
D. Watching against, resisting and lamenting sinful thoughts evidences grace and the sincerity of our hearts.
E. We must labor to be filled with the fullness of God and enriched with all spiritual blessings
F. We must labor to keep up holy and spiritual affections
G. We must labor to avoid multiplicity of worldly business

8. By tempting Christians to rest in their deeds:

For remedies, consider that

A. Our choicest services have their imperfections and weaknesses
B. Our choicest services are unable to minister comfort and aid in days of trouble
C. Good works, if rested upon, will certainly destroy us as the greatest sin we commit
D. God has met our need of resting place in Christ Himself

-Thomas Brooks, Precious Remedies Against Satan’s Devices, 1652.