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Of Law or Of Grace

Of Law or Of Grace


I read a post several weeks ago. The woman said she felt such a strong disconnect with mainstream Christianity that she wished to be called something other than Christian to denote the separation.  I resonated with her comment and as I thought about it, I see a clear separation in one underlining belief that affects everything.

Though called by the same name, there are two different groups of Christians who couldn’t be further apart; those who are under the law and those who are under grace.

Those under the law go to church, tithe, try to act like a good person, participate in ministries, and go to Bible Studies because that is what they should do as Christians. If they don’t then they feel guilt however subtle. If they do they feel good about themselves.  Their faith has become a religion of works earning their place in heaven or in God’s heart. Their obedience is out of fear of God pulling away and withdrawing His blessings. In essence their actions are bribes to receive His good favor. Deuteronomy 10:17

Plain Truth Magazine put out an interesting article this month on churchaholics, which describes this group. The article is worth the read a couple of times.

In contrast, the other group lives solely by grace. They focus on abiding in God’s truth, nurturing their relationship and whatever good comes out is the fruit of His spirit within them and not by their power of will or efforts.  Because it is His work and not theirs, there is no guilt in doing or not doing.  What they do is about desire not raw obedience. Obedience pertains not to bribing God to bless them or be good to them; it has to do with how close they are to God. They experience blessings because God is in their lives. The closer they are to Him the more they experience all He is. He is their reward; their everything.

Which group is correct?

The covenant we have with God is established on grace. In Christ there is nothing we can add to our salvation or sanctification. Exodus 31:13 It is the second part where the do-gooders go sideways off the path of life. We enter God’s kingdom by grace, we grow in it by grace and we become great by grace. We do nothing. Matthew 18:3-4 Everything comes from God’s spirit working in and through us. We don’t work for God, He works through us. Nothing is forced, earned or contrived.

When we start to add anything to the covenant of grace then we are trespassers to His covenant, and are no longer abiding in it. Matthew 25:29 If we aren’t living, breathing and acting from grace, then we aren’t living.

The doctrine of grace is not easy to accept and follow in a world where our value and acceptance is based on what we do. Under grace it is disobedient to try to work, earn, and prove. Hebrews 4:11 We all fall at times into the trap of works, but what are we striving for grace or works? Every other religion is based on works and many Christians have joined them. Therefore they have a different religion with a different god.  2 Corinthians 11:4 That’s the separation.

And the tricky part is the majority of those who say they are under grace are actually under the law. The masses think they are under grace because leaders tell them they are, but if they examine their deep-seeded motives they would see they aren’t. The two groups talk the same lingo, but the foundation of their motivations, actions, and judgments denote a huge separation.

How could they be so misled? The legalism is disguised, subtle and in what people praise, not necessarily say. It is couched in friendly, loving words, sweet smiles and jovial countenances, but it is law all the same. You should be in churchDo whatever you do, but make sure you come to church. (smiles)

They are like your sweet but over controlling mother, playing the guilt trip card. If you were a good Christian then you would be in church. Guilt is a very powerful motivator.  We do whatever we can to remove its presence in our lives. And most churches are employing this tactic to maintain their costly lifestyle and doing so they are breaking their covenant of grace with God and bringing many down with them.

We come to God with our lives one way, grace. We either live by His covenant or not at all.

I think the church was at one time an instrument of God to grow His people, much like Egypt. Deuteronomy 5:6, 26:5-6 But like Egypt it has become a house of bondage with its oppression of should to’s. God is calling His people to Him in grace and those who know the true Shepherd’s voice will follow it.

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Who is Israel?

Who is Israel?


God’s Word is complex, intricate, and perfect. There is nothing straightforward about it because it is living, layer upon layer, precept upon precept, full of symbolism, parables, and riddles. Truths lie beneath the surface to be revealed to whom God chooses through His spirit. 1 Corinthians 2:14, Proverbs 1:5-6, Isaiah 28:13, Luke 8:10

One area that shows such complexity and perfection is how He talks about Israel (along with other symbolic names for His people) within the prophets; mainly Isaiah through Malachi. Who is He talking about exactly; the actual seed of Abraham, the country Israel, and/or those born of Christ?

Now, what’s the big deal? Most of what those prophets talked about has already been fulfilled. Has it? Anyway, it pertains to someone else, not me. Does it? It depends on who you believe Israel is. Understanding this one thing changes everything.

If we are the temple of God that means we are established on the words of the prophets and apostles with Christ as the cornerstone. Ephesians 2:20 We are established by words because words reflect our beliefs, which affect what or who our faith is in, which affects everything. For this reason, God desires us to know His truth. He gave us one job; believe in Him. John 6:29 And because Christ is the Word, we need to know what the Word is saying so we can believe it. That means we have to seek and know THE truth to believe and be established on it. Otherwise we are building someone else’s temple.

I have been exploring this topic, Israel, and here are some of my thoughts . . .

Initially, Israel, which was Jacob’s new name after he wrestled with God (how about the symbolism in that?!), were those who were physically born from Jacob, the son of Isaac, the son of Abraham. Jacob had 12 sons who grew into the 12 tribes. God’s law pertained to these people. They were His special people that He chose out of all the other nations to know Him. They were His because of their physical birth.

But then Christ came and things changed. Now those spiritually born through Christ are God’s family. The old covenant is obsolete. Hebrews 8:13 Once we come into God’s kingdom we have a new citizenship, there is no Greek or Jew. Galatians 3:28 We are now of God’s family and spiritually Israel.

The true Israel, the people of God, is no longer about the flesh but the spirit. Romans 2:29

Romans 4:13 For the promise that he would be the heir of the world was not to Abraham or to his seed through the law, but through the righteousness of faith.

Galatians 3:7 Therefore know that only those who are of faith are sons of Abraham.

Galatians 3:29 And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise

Galatians 4:28 Now we, brethren, as Isaac was, are children of promise.

In Peter’s and Paul’s day, the idea that God’s people were no longer determined by physical birth took getting use to. That is why there was a separation between the Israelites and Gentiles (those who were of the blood line of Abraham and those who weren’t). For the first time they were going outside the physical family. Imagine how odd that was after all those years? In Christ, God did a new thing. His family is no longer formed through physical birth but by spiritual birth.

God wants none to perish including the original Israelite nation, but now like every one else all that matters is if we are spiritually born in Christ. 2 Peter 3:9 That is why there is no Greek (gentile) or Jew (Israel), there is only Christ. Who is Israel or God’s family now? Looking at the verses above, it is those who claim to be spiritually born in Christ.

This is where it gets fun. When you read the prophets, you see a strong parallel among what they say and the prophecy of the New Testament, because the prophets are speaking of a future time as well as the past. Revelation 10:7 The prophets are speaking of one prophecy on top of another. The events in the Old Testament served as examples of what will happen in the end. 1 Corinthians 10:11.

If the prophets are speaking of the future, wouldn’t they talk about Israel as it is in the future? What true Israel is today? I think so. Why would they talk about an obsolete covenant? God has told us that covenant is gone and now all is through Christ. The prophets wrote for a time, when the Word would be available to His people so they could read it, know it and take heed when they needed it the most.

I think the prophets are talking about those called by His name today. If you read the prophets with this mindset, it changes everything because they are talking about His church today and it doesn’t look good.

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Listening to the Spirit

Listening to the Spirit


To stop and listen to the rhythms of life beneath all the noise is a lost art in our modern world. The voice of our inner spirit is suppressed by busyness, television, books, magazines, cell phones, pagers, email, competition, idle chatter and all we do to make ourselves feel worthy. Underneath the distractions is our spirit trying to be heard. The ramifications of silencing our guide is broken homes, dysfunctional children, physical aliments, depression, monotonous living, robotic spirituality, addictions, and spiritual blindness to name a few.

This truth has recently come to my attention. I am dealing with the consequences of not listening through various physical aliments. They are minor but it is clear to me the source is years of suppressing my spirit’s voice. I didn’t take time to listen but bulldozed through the years trusting medications and doctors instead of seeking inner counsel. Doctors can’t know the complexity of your emotions, your past experiences and everything that create your current physical state. Our body and soul are connected but yet we often act like they aren’t. God gave us a guide to build truth in the deepest part of our soul if we will listen. Truth that sets us free.

Lately I have been opening my ears and what He is telling me is incredible, I had no idea.

If we could go on the counsel and guidance of others then why would we need the Holy Spirit who was sent to teach us all things? We need to be listening to Him above all others and yet we have forgotten how to listen. Instead of listening to our spirit as our counselor we listen to others. We no longer make our own decisions, take time for inward reflection, and think for ourselves but rely on others to do these for us. Those in our circle of influence; media, family, co-workers, church leaders; tell us what to believe, to think, to trust, to do. These people are ill-equipped to guide anyone because they are just like us.

Matthew 23:8 “But you, do not be called ‘Rabbi’; for One is your Teacher, the Christ, and you are all brethren.”

When we tune into our spirit we tune into Him as well. Our impatience is driving us into the arms of some “Joe’s” philosophies. I don’t care how many initials are after his name or how nice he appears; he isn’t equipped to guide us as the Spirit is. It is the Spirit’s role and no one can fulfill it but Him. God constructed this world, the physical and spiritual elements, to work a certain way. Either we get clued in and do it His way or we miss out altogether and stay bound, blind, and dumb (in hearing and insight).

John 14:26 “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you.”

God uses other people to encourage and help us. But our ears need to be in tune with the Spirit so we can discern what we hear, if it is truth or not and if it applies to us or not. If not, any good is mixed in with the bad and we are still seeing foggy. People are human, they make mistakes and they are learning just like we are. Like a doctor misdiagnosing a patient, others can give us the wrong diagnosis and remedy. We need a stronghold to test what we hear against whether it pertains to doctrine, health, work, relationships or whatever. That stronghold is the Spirit. I have gained more truth from listening to the Spirit than I ever have listening to man. Others add a little here and there crossing a t or dotting an i, but He opens up volumes of truth.

With modernization came isolation from our inner voice. We need to reorient our lives to create an atmosphere so we can hear. We need to be still, abide, and listen to what the Spirit is saying to each one of us. It is a conversation between you and Him, are you listening?


Abiding in God’s Presence

 Abiding in God’s Presence


I often mention that reading God’s Word, the Bible, is essential to our spirits’ lives. But what makes all the difference is how we read. Most people read the Bible like they would another book; a text book, a historical book, or a guide for good living and miss the whole point.

God tells us He is our husband, so that is how we are supposed to relate to Him. He desires not that we know about Him, but that we intimately know Him. To talk to Him like a spouse, to spend time with Him one-on-one on a regular basis, to listen to His words, and to put our focus on Him. He created the Bible to foster this intimacy with us.

For years, I read the Bible like a book. I believed they were His words, but I didn’t understand what I want to share with you today – that it is about a fostering a relationship not reading a book. Because of my lack of understanding, I couldn’t stay focused or disciplined in my reading. It would often be dry, I wouldn’t get much out of it, most of it didn’t seem to relate to me and parts were boring and confusing. So, I rarely read, read in spurts, and preferred listening to someone else talk about Him instead of going to Him. I knew I should read, but just couldn’t seem to fly solo.

After hitting yet another low point in my life, I made a commitment to read a chapter a day regardless of how I felt (that was key to getting started). After that commitment, God showed me how I was approaching it wrong in three main ways; my motive, our relationship and His role. From then on everything changed; I mean everything – my entire existence because I started to abide in His presence.

  1. My motive.  Every time I sat down to read, it had always been about me; what I got out of it, if I felt encouraged, inspired, connected to God, if He answered my questions and prayers to be healed, restored, and feel His presence.

God told me – what if you treated your husband that way? What if it was always about you? What kind of intimacy would you have? Intimacy takes two. Your motive when you come to My Word should be to learn about Me, to get to know Me. That fosters intimacy. Stop making it about you. Make it about Me and I will take care of you.

He started to reveal Himself to me in ways I had never known despite the years I spent in church and Bible studies.

  1. Our relationship. I use to approach reading the Bible like reading a book, after all it is a book, right?

God told me – You say you love Me, but you don’t spend time with me like you love Me.  I am no longer a flesh man, the flesh is gone. I am Spirit and that is how you are to know Me. 2 Corin. 5: 16 My Spirit is in the Bible like it was in the flesh man, Jesus. The word became flesh and dwelt among us. John 1:14 If Jesus, the flesh body, was here what would you do? Would you spend time with Him? Would you want to talk to Him one-on-one?  He is here.

I was no longer sitting down to read a guide for good living, I was sitting down with my God and talking with Him, listening to Him, hearing His heart, will, and desires. I was cultivating a relationship.

  1. His role. I had depended on others to teach me about God. I thought I couldn’t glean what they could from the Word, so I didn’t. I figured it wasn’t my gift. It was easier listening to others’ words, ideas, and interpretations than weeding through all those chapters by myself.  I thought it was one in the same.

God told me – What if you always went to your husband’s friends and family to learn about him? They may repeat things he said, talk about things he had done, but how well would you know him? What kind of intimacy would you have with him? This is how you are acting toward Me when you rely on others to teach you about Me. I gave you My Spirit so you can understand all I have to tell you. 1 John 2:27, Hebrews 5:12  Teachers are to teach others to teach themselves, not spoon-feed them. 2 Timothy 2:24  I want you to come directly to Me because that requires a seeking heart, trust and dependency on Me and those things foster the depth of intimacy I desire with you. I will teach you about Me, trust Me. If you continue to rely on others there is only so close we can be.

My mind being renewed in these three ways altered my time with God. My relationship with Him started to become what I always desired thus true life followed. I won’t mislead you, knowing Him takes time, years, just like it does in other relationships. It was years of spending time before I felt true intimacy with Him, where I felt I was abiding in His presence. But God gave us His Word and His Spirit so we could know Him, be one with Him in will, purpose, and desire and abide in true love and truth. If we draw near to Him, He will draw near to us.

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Don’t Forsake the Assembly

Don’t Forsake the Assembly


Those who are outside of the Institutional church, often get questioned about the following verse:

Hebrews 10:25 not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.

Dusty Owens wrote a response, Forsake Not the Assembly?   It is worth the read. It makes you think about what you really believe and who you are really listening to and trusting.



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Guilty Fruit

Guilty Fruit

Guilty fruit isn’t worth much in the kingdom of God, but it is easy to get trapped into producing rotten apples. A friend asked me to join her at a prayer group. I quickly replied yes. As the day approached I realized that was a night my husband and I enjoyed watching one of our favorite television shows. That was our night. Now watch a show or go to pray? Umm, what would a good Christian do . .

I chose my husband. I love spending that time with him. But guilt started to set in for not choosing the prayer group because isn’t that what I should do? The Spirit reminded, no. It isn’t what you do but what is in your heart. The choice is between fruit of love and fruit of guilt. Which one do you think I desire?

2 Corinthians 9:7 So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver.

Guilt came from defining my goodness by my actions. I am writing about this topic in my book and God’s Word is clear, we live by grace alone. If we try adding to it, it is to our shame. Putting trust in our works in any way creates an idol. God abhors idols. I started to step outside the complete freedom and rest I have in grace and into bondage by works like every other religion. Acting on have to’s and should do’s forfeits grace and produces rotten fruit, forced and not of love.

This topic is a slippery slope because many say they do this or that out of love for God. But we have to be diligent in examining our motives. Only God and we know our hearts and even then sometimes we get fooled. I knew mine and God knew it. 1 Corinthians 16:4 Let all that you do be done with love.

Galatians 3:2-3 This only I want to learn from you: Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith? 3 Are you so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit, are you now being made perfect by the flesh?

Examining my motives, I made the right choice, love. Love is the soil of true fruit. We need to slow down before we commit because of the constant temptation to prove, earn and work because it appeases our need to feel worthy and good. Our worth and goodness are defined solely in Christ. Our focus is to be on abiding in His truth, and fruit, sown in love, will be the natural outcome.

God did an amazing work in our marriage that night, who would have known? The fruit of love is worth a lot.



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Church Social Clubs

Church Social Clubs


Most of us are familiar with the social club mentality of many churches; extravagant entertainment, feel-good programs, focus on busyness, and messages that are a self-improvement book covered in Christian lingo.

Our knee jerk reaction is that being a glorified social club is wrong. However, with some further thought, I think what we all need to realize, especially if we are in a church, is that all churches are social clubs.  It is a healthier and safer viewpoint because that is the extent of what they provide; encouragement, support, connections, activities, and stimulating conversations. The problem is that people want and look to them as a source of truth, to enhance their relationship with God, to bind their wounds, to give them freedom, to bring peace, hope and rest to their lives; all the things that only truly come from cultivating intimacy with God in His truth, His Word.

However, churches appear to be gladly taking on this other role, which is outside the scope of their abilities, because when people are dependent on you it is good for business.  Even with good intentions, trying to be what they can’t misleads people and destroys souls. I was such a soul.  Our souls starve because we mistakenly rely on the wrong one for true life.  God and His Word is the fountain of truth which brings true life. Churches are a reservoir of people’s interpretations, doctrines, rules and regulations with some truth sprinkled in.  Many people end up worse off than when they started because they don’t realize they are hanging out at the wrong watering hole and thinking they have arrived at truth they stopped looking.

The majority of Christians are not living the abundant life that Jesus Christ came to give because they are relying on other broken people when they need to rely on God. People try to get out of teachers, pastors, leaders, programs, and ministries what they should be seeking from God and churches reinforce their warped dependency in what they don’t say, in what they praise and what they encourage.

As I read the New Testament, it seems clear that truth and an intimate relationship with God which brings abundant life come from time with Him in the Holy Scriptures being taught by the Spirit. (John 14:26, 1 Corinthians 2:12-13, 1 Corinthians 15:34, 1 John 2:27, 2 Timothy 2:15, 7, 2 Timothy 3: 14-15.) Yet this truth is often overlooked and people continue to give fallible humans, who are trying to figure it out just as they are, God’s role.

Churches are playing a role that they weren’t meant to play.  If we openly acknowledge and call church what it is, a social club, then maybe we will start heading in the right direction; looking to our God not man for truth and life. Even then we need to be very careful and aware of churches’ influence over our thinking, beliefs and lives.


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God’s Toolbox: Our Past

 God’s Toolbox: Our Past


Over the past couple of years, God has been unpacking my past. He has shown me the deep seeded lies I’ve lived by since childhood and the ripple affect they caused of bad decisions, poor behaviors, destructive relationships, depression, and on and on.  It is thought provoking to see how a couple of lies can create so much damage.

I have often viewed the things of my past as a bunch of screw ups and mistakes that revealed a person in need of a complete overhaul. They were things that didn’t have to happen but what was done was done and I needed God to come in and clean things up. I tried to be the sweeper but I just flung dirt around.

But the other night, my insightful husband re-framed it for me.

He said it isn’t that my past, his or anyone else’s is a big mess that would be better off voided like a bad check, but all the things we went through brought us to where we are today. Each detail served a purpose in chiseling us into who we are. We went through those things to grow and learn what we needed to learn.

I started thinking about what he said and though the things I faced were painful, hard, and sometimes pushed me to the edge of insanity, he was right. Looking back, I wouldn’t change a thing. I can’t believe I am saying that, but you know it is true. Through each experience God has taught me His wisdom that I wouldn’t have learned otherwise.

As God’s kids what we consider the wreckage of our lives are His tools to teach us what we need to learn, if we are willing. If we aren’t willing we remain on the hamster wheel running in the same destructive circles until we decide to sit up and listen.  A past unaddressed remains a controlling force in our lives. We aren’t to live in the past, but grow from it and live free.

As a good teacher, God won’t let us move on to the next level until we learn our ABCs. It is either keep running or starting listening. And the lessons are much deeper than we are a mess in need of Him. Each situation holds a deeper truth that will surprise you, as I am finding out.

This earthly existence is a training ground. It is a place where our spirits learn that our way is not the way to go and God’s is.  We are supposed to make mistakes that is how we learn that only God’s ways bring life, joy, peace, and intimacy with Him.  We start going backwards if we get wrapped up in this life and cease to realize that everything is to bring us into union with God.

Trying out many different paths that promised success and failing miserably inside and out is what brought me to my knees and when I fell before Him in every area of my life; I started to live the life I desired for the first time. So if everything I went through was to bring me closer to God and to create unity between us in purpose, will and desire – yeah it was all worth it and I am thankful for it.