"Where then is thy glorying? It is excluded. By what law? Of deeds doing? Nay, but by the law of faith. For we deem a man to be justified by faith, without works of the law." - Romans 3:27-28 (Wycliffe NT)


"Anytime the Christian makes sense in a Bible study or sermon, you can almost bet your life you're not hearing Christianity."
Pastor Tom Baker


On A Scale From 1 to 10.....

Do you follow the commands found in the Bible? How are you doing with that? Let's look at a just love and see how it's going.

"Loving your neighbor as yourself." On a scale of 1 to 10
"Loving your enemies.". On a scale of 1 to 10

Read 1 Corinthians 13 On a scale of 1 to 10.

How did you grade yourself? Pretty low? What is the solution? Try harder? No! If Christ is in you, you should have scored yourself a 10 on all of them. Jesus did them all perfectly. And if He lives in you, then His perfect actions are credited to you as if you did them alone. That way, when you find yourself loving your enemies you can be sure it's the Christ within you and when you aren't, you know it's you!

Remember, it's what you've been declared that matters, not how you think you are doing.


When A Child Understands the Gospel

Tonight my son delivered to me one of the greatest sermons I've ever heard. For a six year old, he preached what most "seasoned" pastors can't seem to do from their own pulpits week after week. He was frightened tonight thinking about scary things. I told him to think of fun things fom the day or of Bible stories or verses he liked. I suggested, in a very elementary way, John 3:16. He interrupted with his own verse - John 15:5. Then he said verbatim: "I am the vine. You are the branches. If any man abides in Me and I in him, he will bare much fruit." In that moment, I was silenced to tears. This sweet, scared little boy summed up the Gospel from memory - a memory I didn't even know he had - so beautifully and timely. Instead of me coming to his comfort, he came to mine and reminded me that our Savior abides in us and produces every good work. He reminded me that Christ's only requirement of me is to rest in His vine-ness and He will take care of everything else. Thank you son for understanding a truth that gives us life and is our only hope unto salvation. Thank you Lord for my son as I am thankful for yours. Amen.

- Laboriously typed from my iPhone!



Here's what I heard today at a church I visited in a nutshell. I've added my thoughts to the pastors statements in parenthesis: You cannot work your way to heaven. (Yep, that's right.) There isn't a list of things you can do to earn salvation. (Uh huh! That's true!) You have to believe the Gospel and trust the righteousness of Christ. (Yes! Keep it comin'!) You have to live the Gospel. (Ok, where is this going?) What does your life look like? What changes can you make in your life to set you apart from the world so that it is evident that you believe in the Gospel? (Oh well, it started off good.)

If you aren't listening carefully, you'll miss it! He says, there isn't a list of things to earn salvation. Then he tells us we have to "live" the Gospel and asks if our lives look any different than the unsaved. Well, how do you do that without looking at a list of behaviors? This is a contradictory message. Instead of telling us to trust Christ for HIS VERY OWN RIGHTEOUSNESS, he tells us to trust Christ and THEN strive to do different things in your life to look "set apart" from others. This is subtle but it's so profound! If Christ lives in you and you trust Him for every good work, you won't LOOK different you WILL BE DIFFERENT. You ARE changed. You don't need to do the changing. He HAS DONE it for you! Stop trying to be different and start trusting that you are different.


What Else Do You Need?

I love being visited by various religous groups at my door. I once talked to two young LDS fellows so long that they actually looked at their watches and said they had an appointment to get to. I was just visited by a lovely Jehova's Witness couple who I wish I had more time to talk wirh but this time I had the appointment. But I invited them to come back and I'm sure they will. Anytime someone comes to my door I focus solely on Jesus. I don't let it stray into doctrines and practices. This is frustrating for them because while they say they agree about Christ's sacrifice, they have something else to offer. This thought process isn't limited to those front door evangelists. We find this in our churches and denominations at an alarming volume. It's the "Jesus Plus" Gospel. It goes like this: Yeah, yeah. Jesus did a good thing for us and it is soooo important....BUT (and this is where it goes awry) we are here to tell you about His Kingdom...or we must listen to more modern prophets with another testament of JC...or
we want to teach you about end times events...or tithing...or doing good...or quiet time...or tongues and spiritual gifts get you closer to God...or, or, or. These are all modern inventions and have nothing to do with the Gospel. My response is only this: If I have the Creator of the universe - that very Jesus who died and rose again - THE Alpha and Omega living in me....then what else could I possibly need? What do you have to offer me outside of that truth? I say you have nothing for me. I always ask Paul's question to the Galatians when someone brings up a plus to Jesus: You foolish people! Who has bewitched you into a different Gospel which is in fact, NO Gospel at all! We need to ask this question of our pastors, evangelists at the door and any who claim to be Christians: what else do I need besides Christ? What could you possibly have to offer me that is better than Christ Himself living in me? If they answer that question with something other than "nothing", I believe you have found the bewitching kind.

- Laboriously typed from my iPhone!



We will never be able to keep the Law to it's full extent. We break one, we break them all. However, many Christians still try and pursue the 10 commandments, straining their best attempts to do it. Now Christ, He did the Law perfectly. No mistakes. And now that we have Him living within us, He passes this righteousness on to us as if we had done it alone. Could Christ only do 10 good things? Is He limited in His goodness? Surely Jesus could do 10 million laws and more. Christ within us will move us to show His goodness to others and He will animate our lives to manifest His total goodness. He won't limit it to 10 commandments or 600 commandments. If we are living by a few commandments then we are limited by that law. If our goal is to complete a small list of law, we will never experience the true boundless righteousness that God offers us in His Son. The law is a tiny fraction of what Christ accomplishes. So why yoke yourself with that limitation especially when knowing full well that you can never do it anyway? Instead, rest in Christ and let Him pour through you all the possible righteousness He promised you which is all of it, perfectly!



Most atheists insist that if God would just appear to them they would believe. If He could just stand before them they could finally put to rest all of their doubts and truly bury the question "Does God exist." It's very easy to empathize with this. Wouldn't it be much easier if God would just appear before unbelievers and convince them once and for all that He was real? Wouldn't that make trying to convince them easier? At first this may seem like a good possibility but then the reality sets in as you begin to ponder back through Scripture. You could go back to Moses when he received the big ten from God Himself and no sooner was he gone, conversing with God with a multitude of witnesses below, were those witnesses constructing a giant golden calf to worship. There they stood with some kind of vision of the Lord, although veiled to some degree, and didn't believe and arrogantly making their preferred idol. Skip forward to the parable of the rich man and Lazarus in Luke. The rich man, in torment, asks if Lazarus, who was carried away in death by angels, could come to him and dip his finger in water to cool the flame. When this isn't a possibility, the rich man pleads for Lazarus to go to his five brothers and warn them to not go to this place of torment. But he is told they have heard Moses and the prophets so they should know already. But the rich man insists that if they see a man raised from the dead come and tell them, they will surely be convinced. However, the parable states that if they aren't convinced by the words of Scripture, not even a man raised from the dead and speaking directly to them could do it. How could this be? I would think that would be the most convincing evidence possible! But another remembrance comes to mind - the very people that walked with the physical Jesus could not even recognize His resurrected body!
I think the human nature of self-righteousness rears it's ugly head here. We actually think enough of ourselves that by seeing Him we would believe. If you can't recognize Him in Scripture, you would look right past Him even if He stood directly in front of you. Scripture shows this time and time again. If you can't look at the wonders of His creation in your children or in the beauty of nature that surrounds you, His physical appearance will do nothing to you.
This offers no comfort to the atheist because they MUST see to believe. But you'll never see Christ if you first don't see your need for Him. You need no proof if you are good enough as you are. Christ doesn't seek the good, He seeks the sinner. You'll never see Him if you are good. I have all the proof I require for the existence of God - me and my clothes of unrighteousness, the flesh.



Why does God require faith? It is the way we have relationship with Him. But what is faith? Faith is a living trust that you employ not only towards God but also in other relationships in your life. You trust that those around you truly love you even though you couldn't really know what they might think. The heart is beyond wicked and the mind is full of every nasty thing. There is no way to truly know the state of someone else's heart and there isn't a way to even know your own. It is a chameleon, changing with the times. The heart and mind both work together pulling one another into spirals of self. We start believing our heart and yet our mind knows what the heart is feeling. We have a refreshed mind but our heart is carrying us away leaving behind our good sense. What a ghastly trick this is. With our hearts and mind constantly ebbing and flowing, we can only have one thing and that is faith. Faith in our relationships keep hope alive that all is well. We certainly muster faith for our worldly relationships for we know that our hearts are deceitful but we know Christ's heart is all loving. Jesus doesn't want us to muster our own kind of faith for Him. We need His faith. This is a difficult concept to envision but allows a peaceful rest if we can begin to understand it. For every problem, He offers the solution. He gives us faith for Him.

We don't create faith. As all good gifts come from the Lord, He also provides us the faith that trusts Him and His goodness. Not ours. You see, God gives us everything we need in Christ. We need not pray for more of this or that. We already have it. I don't believe that God is a vending machine only giving us small portions here and there. I believe He's given it all in one complete work as we come to Him. Our problem is not realizing that we already HAVE IT. We don't believe this because we don't see our lives exhibiting these things. At least not consistently. This shouldn't lead us to believe that on the days we are patient or fully compassionate or slow to anger that we are in any different place than in Christ even on the days we aren't those things! Those things exist in us because of His gift to us. We have misplaced our trust when we are exhibiting these behaviors.

What shall we do then? We faithe. This is not even a word! But there is an active faith that we must employ. Yes, Christ has given us full capacity for faith. Perfect faith. Yet, we don't allow it to work every day. We live in this untrusting flesh. So we must faithe. We must remind ourselves of His righteousness in our life. We don't fall before Him humiliated that we blew it and ask Him to dole out another dose of something. We renew our minds and faithe, actively trusting Him that He has completed us. I've heard before - "God's not finished with me yet!" This usually means God is sculpting us into better Christians. I'm not so sure of this. I believe the Creator of the universe, the God man who dies for us and rises to give us life, HAS sculpted us into what He wants. We are just so much more interested in what He can do for us than what His Son already did. We are too fleshly to see it. We still see the unmolded clay, clumped around us instead of seeing the pot that is filled with Christ. But this must be what keeps our faith alive - our trust in hope. We would certainly fall prostrate to see the completeness of Christ's glory. We must rest in faith continually - faithing - so that we know our completeness is true even though we don't always see it.



I find it quite hard to live the Christian life. It's very demanding. It makes one tired. It makes one hopeless. To live the Christian life is to live a life of doing. To live a life perfecting yourself under the guise that you can become more like Christ. The Christian life is an endless pursuit towards holiness. This endless pursuit is exactly why the Christian bookstores keep the shelves stocked year after year with "how-to" books. Has anyone achieved this holiness yet? Have any of you reading this been able to see a marked improvement in becoming more and more like Christ? Do you really see a difference in your behavior as every year passes? Are you truly getting better? Is it consistent? Do you keep failing and trying again? That is what I've experienced. I try and fail. I try again and fail again. Each time striving harder. Each time doing more than I did the last. And each time failing miserably. Is this our real pursuit? Or should it be something else? I believe it is indeed to be something else. Read Colossians 2 for clarity on this. Most Christians live in a mixed covenant. A little bit of the old and a little bit of the new. But the new covenant has granted us something the old never could. It gave us righteousness. And not a righteousness we could ever possibly attain. But Christ's one, true righteousness. This is bestowed on us, because of Him, as if we did it ourselves. If we rest in this truth, remind ourselves of it everyday, we will learn to live the normal Christian life. Not the Christian life that pleads for us to do more and more to gain something. We must always know that we have already been given all. And all comes through Christ. If He is in you then you are perfected. It's OK to live in the tension of doing things wrong and still knowing you are righteous. If there is something in your life that is in the way, something that is hurting you or others; if it is keeping you from functioning, rid yourselves of it. It's easy to pick out sins we do that we need to stop but it may be, in fact, trying to live this so called Christian life that is in the way. I want to encourage you to treat others with love. To pursue Christ. Read His Word. Tell others about Him. But most importantly REST. When you think you can't, rest and know that He did. When you think you are going to fail, rest and know that He has lifted you up. And every mistake can become a place to say thanks to God our Father for giving us His Son and always seeing His righteousness in us when we are at our lowest. Be encouraged to rest. Be encouraged that instead of your vain attempts to become more like Christ, you have already been made like Him by Him. Wow. That is good news, friends. This is true branch living.