Our Father

old black pewsHelping us understanding who God is and how He relates to humankind, and how we relate to Him, is one of the primary functions of scripture. Using metaphors and anthropomorphism the Spirit, through the mouths of the Prophets and Apostles, teaches us who God is and who we are in relation to him. One of the most common designations we’re given in scripture of God is that of Father.

God is our Father.

He is the Father of the universe. The Father of all creation and all created things. The Prophet Isaiah declares, “But now, O Lord, You are our Father; we are the clay, and You are our potter; and we all are the work of Your hand.” (Isa. 64:8, MEV) He is the Father of every living thing and person that has ever been graced to enjoy His good creation. God is our Father.

Jesus affirmed this truth when He taught us to address God as, “our Father who is in Heaven” (Matt. 6:9, MEV).

Jesus taught that we can address God as our Father but He also taught that God is not everyone’s Father.

In John 8:42-44 he said, to those who refused to follow him, “If God were your Father, you would love me, for I proceeded and came forth from God . . . You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires.” So while it is true, in one sense, that God is our Father, in another very real sense, He is also not the Father of all.

God is the Father of all Creation but He can be called Father, and is the Father, of those who have received His Spirit. In Romans 8:9,14–15 (MEV) the Apostle Paul says, “You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God lives in you. Now if any man does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him … For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are the sons of God. For you have not received the spirit of slavery again to fear. But you have received the Spirit of adoption, by whom we cry, “Abba, Father.” The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirits that we are the children of God.”

Not every one can lay claim to the privilege of knowing God as Father. The scriptures are clear that only those who have been born again of the water and of the Spirit have the right of inheritance and the privileges of sonship. Romans 8 maintains that those who have the Spirit of God have the Spirit of adoption, making them sons of God. The Spirit bears witness that God is our Father.

God may be everyone’s Father but not everyone is His son.

While everyone can say, in a very general sense, that God is their Father the Spirit filled believer, in a very specific sense, can additionally confess that they are His sons! This is why Jesus calls the baptism of the Holy Spirit “The Promise of the Father” (Acts 1:4-5).

Those who are the Spirit filled sons of God have access to the promises and blessings of a generous and bountiful Heavenly Father! Promises like Matthew 7:11, “If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!”

The language of God’s Fatherhood is not merely an ancient cultural construction held to for the sake of nostalgia but it is a revelation of a truth of who God is and who we are in His plan. We are His children and He is our Father!

The privilege of prayer and the promise that God will work all things together for your good (Rom. 8:24) is part of the inheritance of sonship. To know we are called, justified and will be glorified (Rom. 8:30) is part of our inheritance in sonship. Paul concludes his teaching in Romans 8 regarding the believer’s sonship by declaring, “What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?”

In Romans 8:38-39 he celebrates the truth of our sonship by saying, “For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, neither angels nor principalities nor powers, neither things present nor things to come, neither height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

That is what it means to have God as your Father!

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The Ark

Dorothy Church near Drumheller, AlbertaIt does not require advanced observational skills to know that our world is corrupt. The Psalmist tells us that the Lord “daily loads us with benefits” (Psa. 68:19). In that same prose the newspaper daily loads us with woes.

We are inundated by our media with the horrors of power in the hands of corrupt politicians, of passions and diversions that end in disaster, the corruption of love and intimacy and the devaluing of person-hood in the aged and unborn. Some of these realities, like the atrocities of convicted Philadelphia abortionist Kermit Gosnell, are too disturbing to even approach.

Our world is fundamentally flawed. It seems no sooner does one evil dictator die that another takes his place. Scandal is followed by fallout and reaction which is often followed by even more scandal.

If the disease of the human condition wasn’t enough we also have to face the awful disasters that nature brings. So far, just in 2013, there has been devastating tornadoes in Oklahoma, a Nor’easter dump almost 23 inches of snow and ice on New England, dozens of earthquakes, wildfires in Colorado, flooding in Central Europe, and a meteor hit Chelyabinsk in Russia. Even the Earth, with its thorns and thistles, has been corrupted by the curse of sin (Gen. 3:17-18). The scriptures are true when they say that the Earth groans and waits for its redemption (Romans 8:18-23).

It wouldn’t be quite so bad if we could find a place of solace in ourselves but the awful truth is we are complicit as well. It’s one thing to shake our head at the demise of culture and the reckless, selfish behavior of others. It’s another thing altogether to look inside and realize the same decay is alive in me.

Many Christian movements have a tendency to hide in response to our culture. They insulate, hunker down and attempt to ignore the world and the culture around them in order to protect it’s decay from effecting all that they value. As a husband, parent and Pastor it is easy to understand the desire to run, hide and seclude everything and everyone you value. However, that is not always possible, nor is it necessarily a believer’s best or only response to the disease of our culture.

The Israelites, slaves in Egypt, were under the threat of Pharaoh. Fearing the swelling number of Israelites he ordered the midwives to kill all the boys born to the Hebrew mothers (Exodus 1-2). Fearing God, scriptures say, that the midwives disobeyed Pharaoh and let the baby boys live. Seeing that the midwives wouldn’t obey, “Pharaoh commanded all his people, “Every son that is born to the Hebrews you shall cast into the Nile, but you shall let every daughter live.” (Exodus 1:22 ESV)

So it came as a surprise to me when I read the next 3 verses. Jochebed, Moses mother, after hiding him for three months in their house, could hide him no longer. So she made a little ark and she put him in the river.

The river. The thing that was drowning all the others babies. The river was her problem. Why would she put him in the river?

The unfortunate reality is there is no avoiding the river. I would love to fully encase my children in bubble wrap, hide them in our house and shelter them from all the evil and pain in the world. I would very much enjoy the ability to prevent the families in our church from having to deal with divorce, death and disaster. But I can’t. I cannot keep them from the river. Everyone faces the river.

Thankfully, I am not totally powerless. I may not be able to keep them from the river but just like Jochebed I can put them in something that can keep them from the rivers effect. When it came time for Moses to face the river, Jochebed put Moses in an ark. So while others were drowning in the river Moses was drawn out of the river. Even his name, which means “drawn out”, testifies to the preserving power of the ark.

It was an ark that preserved Noah’s family during the great flood. It was an ark that preserved Moses in the river. It is still an ark that preserves the righteous today. You and I can place our families, friends and loved ones in the church! The church of Jesus Christ is an ark of safety (Heb. 11:7) that, though we cannot avoid the river, we can be preserved from the rivers effect.

The local church is the hope of the world. It preserves and declares and protects. It exists for the sake of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and His followers.

Thank God for the church!

Marriage

wedding ringsI enjoy many aspects of the ministry but I particularly enjoy weddings. It’s not just because I like cake. I like what weddings represent. Weddings are hopeful and idealistic. They point to promise, covenant and faith for tomorrow. They acknowledge God, our devotion to one another and our place in community. Weddings are testimonies that people still believe in each other and the possibility of better things and I appreciate that.

Weddings are a grand declaration that we still believe in one another. We believe in better things and better days. That, even when our world is very, very ugly and we’re tempted to despair of it, we still have reason to smile. Weddings are days when families get together to celebrate and consecrate a new union that testifies of faith, hope and love. I like cake, but I really like weddings.

Marriages are entered into every day by the hundreds yet it is greater than a cultural event. Though marriage is administered by law it is more than a legal contract. Though it is respected by society it is more than a civil union. Marriage is, above all else, a sacred covenant, instituted by God, upheld by His law, blessed by His hand and is to be honored by all men.

It is on purpose that weddings take place in a church, with a minister officiating, the reading of scripture, prayer, sacred vows and celebration. Marriage is a sacred covenant and the presence of God is necessary for it to be a success.

The first miracle Jesus ever performed was at a wedding when he turned the water into wine both honoring the wedding with his presence and blessing it with the miraculous. We read the story in the book of John 2:1-2: “And the third day there was a marriage in Cana of Galilee; and the mother of Jesus was there: And both Jesus was called, and his disciples, to the marriage.” That’s a good call to make.

Call Jesus into your marriage. Invite him to be seated at every table, the guest in every room and the counselor in every decision. It is on purpose that weddings take place at a church, with prayer, the reading of scripture and a minister officiating. Marriages need the presence of God and take faith. Faith in each another, faith in your marriage, and faith for the future.

Scripture teaches that a husband ought to love his wife and give himself for her as Christ gave himself for the church. It also teaches that the wife ought to love her husband and be faithful to him in all things and that by honoring God’s law, and by forsaking all others and their individual fortunes, the two will become what the Bible calls, “one flesh”. Marriage is a covenant between one man and one woman, for life.

Covenant. That’s an old fashioned word meaning an unbreakable promise. That’s the hope and the beauty of marriage. It’s built on a promise. It’s not built on emotion or transitory feelings. It’s not built on our worthiness or charm. It will not be the weakness or the strength of a Bride and Groom’s character that will determine the outcome of their marriage. It will be their faithfulness to their promise. Your character may fail but your marriage doesn’t have to. Even if integrity is found lacking a marriage can still survive if the bride and groom simply keep their promise.

It is this promise that will keep them together, grow their family, bless their home and protect their children. It is this promise that will bless their community through them. Marriage is the most valuable promise you can make and the most important to keep.

Hymns

I was raised singing hymns from a hymn book. The church I attended, from the time I was born until I was 18 and went to college, was in the South Suburbs of Chicago and we sang hymns every Sunday. Not the boring kind of high octave soprano hymns but the black gospel, hammond b-3 organ driven, foot tapping, hand clapping kind of hymns. Songs about the blood and victory and heaven. I love the old hymns of the church.

I also like some of the new songs. If the reason we worship and sing is to express our hearts and devotion to God in song then every generation deserves their worship songs. Just because something is old does not make it outdated and just because something is new it is not necessarily better. And vice versa.

Charles Stone recently posted a blog entry about Hymns and what they mean to him and the church. I found it interesting, worth considering, and wanted to pass it on to you. You can read his blog post here or scroll below for the full article.

Last Sunday night I attended an old-fashioned Gospel sing at a church near our home.

It was out of my comfort zone because the last 25 years I’ve served in churches that primarily used contemporary worship music in their services. Yet, from toddler age through college I attended churches that primarily used hymns.

When the seeker movement became widespread, I and many other like-minded pastors classified traditional hymns as barriers to church growth. As a result, I seldom used them in the churches I served except for the occasional “Amazing Grace.”

However, as I sat through the Gospel sing, something stirred deep within me.

Had I neglected an important part of my Christian heritage by not incorporating them in the churh services? Should I reconsider them going into the future?

The Gospel sing worked like this. The song leader invited those who attended (a couple hundred) to pick a hymn from the hymn book. They then raised their hands and he’d pick someone. They’d call out the hymnal page number. We’d turn to that page. The pianist would start playing. We’d sing.

After 30 minutes of suggestions and singing, probably 20 songs, we’d take a short break from singing. The pianist then played a medley of hymns and a duet sung a couple hymns. Then we sang for another 30 minutes, prayed and dismissed for ice cream sundaes in the gym.

I thought I’d be bored and planned to surreptitiously follow NFL games on ESPN’s Gametracker on my iPhone. Was I surprised.

Here are several lessons I learned that night.

1. The majority who attended were clearly older than 65, many in their 70s and 80s.
As I watched these seniors sing, their faces glowed with a deep love for Jesus. God reminded me that preferred music styles don’t indicate a person’s love for Him. The builder generation, which is quickly declining, has shown incredible commitment and sacrifice to the cause of Christ the last several decades. Just because they prefer a different music style than my preference doesn’t mean I’m any closer to Jesus than they.

2. I was surprised at how well I recalled these songs I hadn’t sung in more than 20 years.
I seldom even needed to look at the hymnal for the words. I realized how grateful I was to my parents for the rich Christian heritage they gave me. Those many years they took me to Sunday morning, Sunday night and Wednesday night services along with revivals and vacation bible schools had left an indelible imprint on my soul. Those hymns had deeply imbedded the truth of God’s word into my heart that I’d never forgotten.

3. I marveled at the magnificence of how God created our brains.
Music increases our ability to recall truth because it enhances long-term memory. Even after decades of not reading the words or singing the hymns, my mind easily recalled them. This thought reminded me how important music should play in our services to imbed theology into the hearts of believers.

4. I felt sad as I watched my youngest daughter who sat next to me.
As my wife and I sang, she followed along as best as she could, yet she hardly knew a single hymn. Either my naivety or my pride (or both) had caused me to neglect this powerful medium to teach the essence of the Faith. My kids had become the losers.

5. Finally, I resolved to bring hymns back into the churches I serve.
While updating their tempo and style a bit, I want those young and old in the faith to encounter the living Christ through the power of God’s word hitched to the medium of hymn music.

What are your thoughts on hymns? Do you believe we have neglected them? If so, how have you incorporated them into your services?

My Brother’s Keeper

To have an understanding of who I am you need to know one thing. I have a big brother. Every individual with a big brother can testify to the truth of the proverb, “A friend loveth at all times but a brother is born for adversity.” (Pro. 17:17).

My big brother (who considered my time asleep as a personal challenge) was the reason I woke one morning with dried toothpaste clogging my ears. My big brother was the reason I woke with my mother’s “intimate apparel” on my head. Once, on a weekend road trip, my brother extracted some “items” from his nostrils and re-deposited his findings on me as I slept. My only hope of surviving my big brother’s creativity was sleep deprivation.

When I was around eleven years old I thought my big brother and his friends were the epitome of cool. One evening, as they were going out, I begged my big brother to let me go with them. He agreed on one condition. I had to ride in the trunk.

So I did. Over every railroad track and pothole they could find, I rode in the trunk.

The relationship, defined by adversity, which exists between brothers began at the beginning with Cain and Abel. The first recorded words God spoke to men after the fall were to Cain concerning his brother (Genesis 4:6-9). The first disagreement over styles and methods of worship were between brothers. The first death was Abel’s, at the hand of his brother.

I find it interesting that God would ask Cain, “Where is Abel your brother?” Cain’s response was, “How should I know; am I my brother’s keeper?” (Genesis 4:9). Cain obviously felt that Abel was not his problem. God thought different.

God asked of Cain his brother’s whereabouts and expected of him an answer. Furthermore, when Abel’s blood cried out from the ground, it was not Adam or Eve that God inquired of the tragedy. It was Cain that God expected to be accountable for the blood of his brother.

Could the truth of the matter be that I am my brother’s keeper?

Not in the sense that I am responsible for the decisions he makes but that God sees us as a body, a family, a community that leans on and lifts up one another. In a very real way I am my brother’s keeper.

Scripture instructs us to love (Rom.13:8), serve (Gal.5:13), honor (Rom.12:10), edify (Rom.14:19), bless (Gal.6:10), pray for (James5:16), prefer (Rom.12:10), encourage (1Thess.5:11), accept (Rom.15:7), greet (Rom.16:16), agree (1Cor.1:10), forgive (Eph.4:32), submit (Eph.5:21), admonish & encourage (Col.3:16), consider (Heb.10:24), offer hospitality (1Peter4:9), live in harmony with one another; be sympathetic, love as brothers, be compassionate and humble (1Pet.3:8), fellowship (1John1:7), hold in high regard (1Thess.5:15), carry each other’s burdens (Gal.6:2), and to “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus.” (Phil.2:3-5).

When I read this I’m inclined to believe that God intends for me to take my brother seriously. Especially when I consider that there isn’t one single verse in the New Testament that instructs us to pray for unbelievers. Not one. We’re told to pray for laborers to be sent into the harvest. We’re told to direct our passion for the lost into prayers for our brothers in the Gospel.

But there are multiple dozens of scriptures that tell us to love one another, pray for one another, encourage, bless, edify, strengthen and prefer one another in Christ Jesus. To do good, “to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith (Gal.6:10, ESV).” It might just be that I am my brother’s keeper.

Romans 13:8-10, (ESV) instructs:

Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. For the commandments, “You shall not commit adultery, You shall not murder, You shall not steal, You shall not covet,” and any other commandment, are summed up in this word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.

If you really want to be spiritual and live like Jesus, then you must learn and practice love for your brothers and sisters in Christ.

Sinners & Saints

Today is All Saints Day, a traditionally Catholic holiday held on November 1st to celebrate the lives and beatification of the Catholic saints. While I am not Catholic, and do not ascribe to their theology or holidays, I found something worth considering today in their celebration.

I celebrate the church.

The Church is called the body of Christ (Eph. 1:15-23) because it belongs to Him (Col. 1:17-20) and He is the head (Eph. 5:23). The church is not confined to any one particular denomination or creed but is defined by those who have believed and obeyed the Gospel of Jesus Christ, namely, His death, burial and resurrection. The church is made up of those who have “washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb (Revelation 7:14, ESV).”

So who are the saints? They are those who have dedicated their lives and efforts to the kingdom of God. Those who have been buried with Him in baptism (Col. 2:12), who have been filled with His Holy Spirit (Acts 2:38), who have been sanctified and set apart for His glory (1Peter 2:9). Those who were once sinners and are now saints. I celebrate them today.

I thank God for a Pastor that loved me and led me as a young man, teaching me to love Jesus Christ and honor the Word of God. I thank God for the bus driver who picked up my family and brought us to church, for the Sunday School teacher who had an inspiring and truthful message every Sunday for this little boy. I thank God for the church I worship with now. The people who serve God, honor His Word and love His ways. Who esteem the heart of God above their own heart and trust His ways above their own. I thank God for a grandmother and a mother who taught me and showed me to worship Jesus Christ and to submit my desires to His commands.

Thank God for the saints!

We’re all sinners and we’re all saints. We have a past and we have a future. As I read the Book of Acts I thank God for the honesty of Luke and the reality that men can be born sinners in the world and die saints in the church because of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

The unknown writer of Hebrews tells of these sinners and saints who, through the grace and power of God:

who through faith conquered kingdoms, enforced justice, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, quenched the power of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, were made strong out of weakness, became mighty in war, put foreign armies to flight. Women received back their dead by resurrection. Some were tortured, refusing to accept release, so that they might rise again to a better life. Others suffered mocking and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment. They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were killed with the sword. They went about in skins of sheep and goats, destitute, afflicted, mistreated—of whom the world was not worthy—wandering about in deserts and mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth. (Hebrews 11:33-38 ESV)

Thank God for the saints! Scripture gives us the promise that, for those who are saints of God, it doesn’t end in this life. John, captive on the Island of Patmos, was given a vision of the throne of God in the end of time and he testified:

After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!” And all the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures, and they fell on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, saying, “Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might be to our God forever and ever! Amen.”
Then one of the elders addressed me, saying, “Who are these, clothed in white robes, and from where have they come?” I said to him, “Sir, you know.” And he said to me, “These are the ones coming out of the great tribulation. They have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.
“Therefore they are before the throne of God,
and serve him day and night in his temple;
and he who sits on the throne will shelter them with his presence.
They shall hunger no more, neither thirst anymore;
the sun shall not strike them,
nor any scorching heat.
For the Lamb in the midst of the throne will be their shepherd,
and he will guide them to springs of living water,
and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.” (Revelation 7:9-17 ESV)

Thank God for the saints.

Greg Kandra writes:

The saints remind us of things that are changeless, timeless. Things we need to remember and hold onto right now. Things like Courage. Sacrifice. Holiness. Hope.
For all the trials and hardships that the world has known, through the centuries ordinary people have stepped forward to live out those ideals. God has given us examples. He has given us saints.

There’s an arrogant Italian playboy who scandalized and embarrassed his family —and then gave up everything for God. We know him today as St. Francis of Assisi.

There’s the son of a deacon who was kidnapped and held as a slave for years before he escaped, and found his way home, and found his way to God: St. Patrick.

There’s the spoiled, rich Spaniard who attended the finest schools.  But, when famine struck Spain, and he saw human suffering, he was so moved with pity that he sold all he had and joined a monastery. That man became St. Dominic.

And there’s that young man from a prosperous and prominent family in Germany who did everything his father didn’t want him to do – including, finally, becoming a priest.  That was St. Boniface.

For what we used to be and for what we’re going to be, I celebrate the church today and all its saints.

Backsliding

It’s been called many things across pulpits; growing cold, lukewarm, being carnal, walking away from God, and worldliness among others. The common name is backsliding and you don’t hear much about it anymore. Though the concept might seem old fashioned it should still be a very real concern to honest Christians. We should be prayerfully examining our hearts daily to ensure we are humble, walking in submission to the Word of God and repentant.

Life sneaks up on you and before we know it we’ve developed habits and ideas that are altogether in opposition to Biblical Christianity. Scripture reminds us that it’s the “little foxes that spoil the vine” (Song of Solomon 2:15).

It’s easy to keep the big things out. Unfortunately, often it’s the build up of little things that eventually limits us spiritually and corrupts any potential harvest. We’ve got to work daily on getting the little things right.

Joe Thorn recently posted a blog entry concerning 25 marks of backsliding that I found interesting. Take a look at his list and prayerfully consider these items. You might take issue with some items on the list but it’s worth the read.

1. When prayer ceases to be a vital part of a professing Christian’s life, backsliding is present.

2. When the quest for biblical truth ceases and one grows content with the knowledge of eternal things already acquired, there can be no mistaking the presence of backsliding.

3. When the biblical knowledge possessed or acquired is treated as external fact and not applied inwardly, backsliding is present.

4. When earnest thoughts about eternal things cease to be regular and gripping, it should be like a warning light to the backslider.

5. When the services of the church lose their delights, a backslidden condition probably exists.

6. When pointed spiritual discussions are an embarrassment, that is certain evidence of backsliding.

7. When sports, recreation and entertainment are a large and necessary part of your lifestyle, you may assume backsliding is in force.

8. When sins of the body and of the mind can be indulged in without an uproar in your conscience your backslidden condition is certain.

9. When aspirations for Christlike holiness cease to be dominant in your life and thinking, backsliding is there.

10. When the acquisition of money and goods becomes a dominant part of your thinking, you have clear confirmation of backsliding.

11. When you can mouth religious songs and words without heart, be sure backsliding is present.

12. When you can hear the Lord’s name taken in vain, spiritual concerns mocked and eternal issues flippantly treated, and not be moved to indignation and action, you are backslidden.

13. When you can watch degrading movies and television and read morally debilitating literature, you can be sure you are backslidden.

14. When breaches of peace in the brotherhood are of no concern to you, that is proof of backsliding.

15. When the slightest excuse seems sufficient to keep you from spiritual duty and opportunity, you are backslidden.

16. When you become content with your lack of spiritual power and no longer seek repeated enduements of power from on high, you are backslidden.

17. When you pardon your own sin and sloth by saying the Lord understands and remembers that we are dust, you have revealed your backslidden condition.

18. When there is no music in your soul and no song in your heart, the silence testifies to your backsliding.

19. When you adjust happily to the worlds’ lifestyle, your own mirror will tell the truth of your backsliding.

20. When injustice and human misery exist around you and you do little or nothing to relieve the suffering, be sure you are backslidden.

21. When your church has fallen into spiritual declension and the Word of God is no longer preached there with power and you are still content, you are in a backslidden condition.

22. When the spiritual condition of the world declines around you and you cannot perceive it , that is testimony of your backslidden stance.

23. When you are willing to cheat your employer, backsliding is apparent.

24. When you find yourself rich in grace and mercy and marvel at your own godliness, then you have fallen far in your backsliding.

25. When your tears are dried up and the hard, cold spiritual facts of your existence cannot unleash them, see this as an awful testimony both of the hardness of your heart and the depth of your backsliding.

I would also caution, if you think backsliding as a subject is antiquated and unnecessary you might need to prayerfully examine your spirit. We’re all human and prone to error and sin. Acknowledging our inherent weaknesses and guarding ourselves against sin we know we’re capable of is not Puritanical but wise and should be driven, not by fear or guilt, but by a desire to please Jesus Christ.

Would you add or remove any items from this list? Comment below.