Tag Archives: book of romans

There is No Better Test….

Photo Credit: Anna Cervova. Public Domain.
Photo Credit: Anna Cervova. Public Domain.

There is no better test as to whether a man is really preaching the New Testament gospel of salvation than this, that some people might misunderstand it and misinterpret it to mean that it really amounts to this: that because you are saved by grace alone it does not matter at all what you do; you can go on sinning as much as you like because it will redound all the more to the glory of grace. If my preaching and presentation of the gospel of salvation does not expose it to that misunderstanding, then it is not the gospel… There is this kind of dangerous element about the true presentation of the doctrine of salvation.

~ D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, The New Man: An Exposition of Romans Chapter 6 (London: Banner of Truth, 1972) pp 8-9

I’m Back Baby!!

Ahh, I’ve missed you guys.

It’s been well over six months since my last “official” post on Spiritual Drift. Since that time I’ve published a couple books, both of them in the fiction arena, (“The Privilege of Sin – Book Three of the Drifter Series” {Christian Suspense}, and “Brynewielm’s Passage – The Age of Awakening Book One” {Historical Fantasy}).

I’ve also returned to the wild, untamed jungles of retail customer service (more on that later). And, I’m in the midst of three (yes, three) new manuscripts in various stages of writing and editing (Drifter Series #4, Age of Awakening Book Two, and a non-fiction piece with the working title, “The Will of a Christian NOT to Battle”—more on that later, too.)

Where I’ve Been
Well…above is a little of where I’ve been physically, but a better question is where have I been mentally and spiritually?

One thing I realized, as I continued to write blogs, and as I continued to read the articles, blogs, Facebook posts, and commentaries of other writers (semi-famous, and not so, but still just as engaging), was that a lot of us were saying quite a bit of the same things; some of them (okay, many of them) a lot more eloquently than I ever could.

I also noticed, via the follow-up commentary on many of these same blog sites, news pages, and FB posts, how much they/we were preaching to the choir about our faith, our beliefs, our stands on certain hot-button issues, so on and so on.

Or, the exact opposite.

One need read no further than the first five or ten comments after any article on a particular religious issue (or politics, or social awareness, or nutrition for that matter) to see what I mean:
You either get a hearty “amen, brother” or you get “you’re a mindless, clueless jackass who’s going to the pit of hell!” (But only if you’re predisposed to believe in such a place).

I’ve yet to come across one comment, ONE, that says “Hmm, interesting point of view. I’m not sure I accept, or fully understand, where you’re coming from, but you raise some interesting points.”

Never!
Never, ever, ever!

Which was the whole point of why I was writing some of the pseudo-opinion pieces I’d posted in the first place.

The only problem was, I wasn’t.

The “interesting point” wasn’t being made.

I was either right, or I was wrong…Wrong, wrong, WRONG!

Soon I realized (or possibly too late, I realized), that I couldn’t make those “interesting points” even if you (the reader) were to agree. Or disagree. (1Corinthians 1:10-17)

In my humble opinion, that’s not what this massive beast we’ve created as a collective culture is all about. This beast called Social Media. That isn’t the idea of Social Media. That’s not its purpose.

So, the question then becomes, what is the purpose?

Why I Came Back
In a word: Encouragement.

As I began to re-read through my earliest posts on Spiritual Drift, even dating back to my original (and no longer existent) blog called Full Retail Christianity, I realized once again what my initial purpose in blogging in the first place was:

  1. I wanted a platform to air my struggles to reconcile my faith with my life in the ‘real world’, which, at that time, consisted almost entirely of my job in upper/middle management in retail customer service. And…
  2. Through letting people in on my own struggles, I hoped they could identify with what I was going through and begin a dialog—whether with me, with their own friends/family, or even within themselves—that they weren’t alone, that there were those who struggled right along with them, and that maybe, just maybe, there was a way through it all; a little breathing room in which to learn and grow; a light at the end of the tunnel that wasn’t a train headed at them in the other direction.

However, after I found my own reconciliation between the world and the spiritual—or walked away from the retail rat-race depending on your point of view—I saw that my writing had shifted direction, subtly and without even my conscious decision to do so.

I began to take on more of those so-called hot-button topics, airing my personal opinion on social issues, scriptural interpretation, etc.

And the rift began.

Oh, I didn’t write enough, or engage enough, to gain mounds of hate mail (ala Benjamin Corey, Jen Hatmaker, Brian McClaren and all). But the feedback I was getting was certainly enough.

I found, as I stated above, that I was either preaching to the choir or standing in opposition to even friends and family, or those who I perceived as ‘friends’ through the fabulous anonymity of Social Media.

Nothing I was saying was making any kind of difference.
To anyone.

Still, inside I felt this continued welling of tension. “These people just don’t get it,” I’d mutter internally; all the time blissfully ignorant of the fact that I was one of “these people”. My aim may have been in a different direction, but the vitriol was just the same, the ire, the contempt, the…whatever the opposite of compassion is. (Romans 12:15-17)

Until finally, one day, I did get it. (Romans 14:12-14)

And I stopped.
For six months.

It hasn’t been until recently that I realized I still had a voice: That little voice inside my head that had been there all along saying, “we’re still struggling, we’re still fighting our demons, and we probably always will.”

We being the little voices inside my head, and the original audience I’d been trying to reach since the very beginning.

So I’m back, baby!
Yes, I’ve re-entered the world of retail customer service. Not in management this time, but on the front lines, face-to-face with the customer.*shudder*

And I still struggle with reconciling my faith and my chosen profession (though not nearly as much as three years ago)
I still struggle with self-worth.
I still struggle with self-control. (James 5:16)
I still struggle with trying to be a good dad, a good husband, a good steward for the gifts God has entrusted me with.
And, I still struggle with the Will to Battle.

But instead of unleashing an unintended battle through the beast of Social Media, I’m wondering if there isn’t an entirely new conversation we (Christian-to-World, Christian-to-Christian, World-to-World) can’t be having with one another.

We can do it.

That’s why God invented this whole “relationship” thing in the first place. (Ephesians 4:2-16)

That’s why God invented coffee shops and home groups and brewpubs and church: So we could wrestle together through these things; with one another instead of at one another. Working our way through the tension, through the differences, through the white-noise of crap that’s so rampant given the fabulous anonymity of pounding our opinions out on a keyboard instead of sitting face-to-face with nothing more than a mug of (insert beverage of choice here) between the two, or three, or six, of us. As Paul says to the church in Ephesus:

Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming. Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ. From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.

I’ll talk to you again soon!

Setting Down the Bible-Shaped Sledgehammer

photo courtesy kidsandthebible.blogspot.com
photo courtesy kidsandthebible.blogspot.com

I don’t know if I’m writing from a place of conviction, or if I’m just flogging myself unnecessarily, but it seems to be getting harder to find subjects to write about in a 5-800 word blog post lately. Maybe I’m concentrating on the book(s) more than on blogging, yet I don’t think it’s as simple as that.

When I started Spiritual Drift two…well, almost three years ago now…I had a definite idea in mind. At the time, I was still working 40+ hours a week at Barnes & Noble, and struggling to reconcile my fledgling faith with the untamed jungles of retail customer service.

…and failing badly.

I got to wondering; maybe my struggle isn’t that unusual in this big, wide world. Maybe, there is someone out there that needs a hearty, “Me, too!!”, or maybe what I need is some sane advice other than the voices inside my head who were, at the time, telling me how miserable I was and what a wretched Christian example I was being. And, out of that came this amazing blog! 🙂

It helped that, several months into my journey, I had a life-changing epiphany thanks to the catalyst of a thin, red, non-descript book called, “Crazy Love”. Then, shortly after, my blogging became more of a travel journal of rediscovery—of myself, my family, my faith, and my God.

It’s been a wild ride, and as I’ve told anyone in the last year or so who would bother to listen, I’ve probably grown more in my faith in this last two years than I have in the prior ten, most likely ever since I crossed the line of faith back in college.

But now, the feeling I have is much like one you get when coming home from the journey: The adrenaline has abated; the dust has settled; that surge of initial excitement has waned.

The “now what” has firmly settled in.

Oh, I know good and well my journey is far from over. I’m easing in to what best would be described as the “middle age” of my faith walk. I no longer feel the need to convict the “heathen” around me. I no longer feel the need to point up the ills of society. Mostly because we all know what all of our shortcomings are already, especially me, and I was never that good at wielding a Bible-shaped sledgehammer anyway.

Now, here I sit, not quite sure of what direction to take my old friend Spiritual Drift next. I hesitate to write about my own faith—what I know, what I’ve learned, what I believe—mostly because this is my journey, not anyone else’s, and I don’t say that as an egotistical statement by any means, but only that each of our spiritual journey’s is uniquely our own. I wouldn’t want someone else to follow in the footsteps of my conviction, just as I would warn against following down the spiritual path of someone actually famous: a best-selling author, a mega-church pastor, or even your own small town preacher. Yes, there are great teachings there just as there are some great teachings and discussions in the blogosphere, plenty of faith nuggets to mine, refine, and treasure, and I know many people who do. Yet there are many, many more who hang on every word that spills forth from the pulpit each Sunday, or the page with each post, and personally, I feel their journey is lacking, if not downright stunted, because of it.

For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. ~ (2Timothy 4:3-4 ESV)

I also hesitate to write on hot-button topics, or subjects of inherent controversy; issues that are doing a very effective job of separating the sheep from the goats, though I would hesitate to declare on which side of that fence many of us stand—*bleat*.

There’s been many much better writers than I who have articulated their stand on these issues, and in general how I feel about my current attitude toward writing on them, and I have freely plagiarized their work below…(Feel free to pick the one you think best would describe my feelings. 🙂 There’s several to choose from.)

I appeal to you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and create obstacles contrary to the doctrine that you have been taught; avoid them. For such persons do not serve our Lord Christ, but their own appetites, and by smooth talk and flattery they deceive the hearts of the naive. ~ (Romans 16:17-18 ESV)

“I have yet to meet anyone that has come to know Christ as the result of an intense debate. I know many who have had to wrestle with honest questions on their journey to respond to God’s grace, but these were seldom done within the debate arena. Instead, these were explored within the context of safe, vulnerable relationships.” ~ T.E. Hanna/Of Dust & Kings

“My most recent faith struggle is not one of intellect. I don’t really do that anymore. Sooner or later you just figure out there are some guys who don’t believe in God and they can prove He doesn’t exist, and there are some other guys who do believe in God and they can prove He does exist, and the argument stopped being about God a long time ago and now it’s about who is smarter, and honestly I don’t care.” ~ Donald Miller

“Every article, regardless of its position for or against, is the same. The support arguments; same. The rebuttals; same. The circular thinking; same. The responses are fully expended, (and in the end) we discover we are at the same impasse.” ~ Jen Hatmaker

“When it comes to issues with two-sides and there’s a heated investment in “who wins” — the comments section of the internet is like an asylum of nine year olds in the playground with free reign to sickles and sledgehammers.  It’s not pretty.  You have a first-row seat to the basest underbelly of the reptilian keyboard-caveman Google-expert.  I’m on the fence with a lot of these issues, mainly because 1) I don’t think they matter nearly as much as the volume of the yelling, and 2) we very quickly elevate the issues over people and we destroy bystanders with all the childish anger.” ~ J.S. Park/The Way Everlasting

“Maturing is realizing how many things don’t require your comment.
~ Rachel Wolchin

Or maybe this one…

“While we were busy arguing about inconsequential things, people were dying without a savior because we forgot to mention the gospel. God gave us the opportunity and the information to pass along…and we squandered it.” ~ All of us on judgment day.

How Do You Choose to “See” Sin?

photo courtesy lizcurtishiggs.com
photo courtesy lizcurtishiggs.com

I got into a discussion the other day where the conversation moved into whether or not there was a hierarchy to the sins that man commits. Of course, a few people brought out the well-worn, “well, sin is sin because the bible says that we are all sinners and fall short of the glory of God.”

Which is true.

But then someone else brought up, “of course there’s a difference in sins. The Old Testament also brings up how some offenses are punishable by banishment, some by stoning, and so on.”

Which is also true.

Now what do you do?

What do you think? Is there a difference in sins? And, from whose perspective are we looking? From whose perspective should we be looking? Continue reading How Do You Choose to “See” Sin?