Tag Archives: sin

Gospel of Self

Galatians 1I marvel that you are turning away so soon from Him who called you in the grace of Christ, to a different gospel, which is not another; but there are some who trouble you and want to pervert the gospel of Christ. But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again, if anyone preaches any other gospel to you than what you have received, let him be accursed. 10 For do I now persuade men, or God? Or do I seek to please men? For if I still pleased men, I would not be a bondservant of Christ.

 

I’m reading these words this morning, and I’m thinking ….

What does it mean?  How does it apply to me?

 

Because I don’t think I’m not personally trying to change the words of Jesus.

 

But then I have to be completely honest.  Because I have those areas where I want to “edit” His Word to suit my wants, my emotions, and my brokenness.

 

And so I keep thinking ….

Thinking about my choices.

Thinking about relationships.

Thinking about people.

 

And I’m wondering – do we have a group of modern day believers who are “watering down” the gospel to make it fit what we want (now)?

 

Yes, I think we do.

 

How do I know?  Phrases like “God is/will be OK with ___” or “God doesn’t mind that I ___” or “God doesn’t really mean ____”.

 

And it’s a slippery slope.

One choice made, maybe with a slight hesitation or a momentary doubt.

And sin steps in and sows a seed of discord and disharmony.

Another choice made, usually a little easier than the first.

And sin plants another seed to divide us from God.

 

With each step it gets easier to turn away from God’s best.

With each step we get faster at tuning a deaf ear to God’s whisper.

With each step sin grabs another piece of our hearts.

With each step sin continues to divide us from God’s love.

With each step sin convinces us we are right and deserve to be so.

With each step sin pollutes our thinking.

 

Until one day we have turned “the gospel of Christ” we once believed and cherished and revered into the gospel of self.  Because we wanted something just outside of God’s best and just around God’s grace.  So we pushed for it.  We edged around truth.  We reasoned away right.

 

And then, with each word we recite in our gospel of self, we become disconnected from God.  Without realizing (or caring about) the consequences of our choices, we have turned our backs on God and His direction in going after what we want, we think, and we need.  We have allowed a momentary need to override patience, overtake endurance, and overwhelm honor.  We have made ourselves all-knowing and full of wisdom instead of allowing God to speak into our choices.

Gospel of Self

All because we sought to please ourselves instead of God.

All because we want now instead of waiting for God’s best.

All because we follow our feelings instead of listening to His Spirit.

 

Because every moment of every day there is a whisper within us reminding us that anything in God’s kingdom worth having is worth fighting for, waiting for, and working for.

 

But we tune it out.  Because selfishness is easy.  Judgment is easy.  Gossip is easy.  Anger is easy.  Sex is easy.

 

And the things God calls us to take patience, endurance, and self-control.  Godly love is hard.  Godly forgiveness is hard.  Godly temperance is hard.  Godly long-suffering is hard.  Godly purity is hard.

 

And God has me taking a look at my choices – a hard and honest look.  Because I can be an expert writer of the gospel of self.  I can fill pages about what I want, what I think, and what I know.  But usually those pages don’t contain God at all – no grace, no love, no forgiveness, no selflessness.  And these are God’s goals for me.  Because God wants me to think outside myself and beyond my feelings to have impact, to have influence, and to have (good) intentions.

 

Will you join me and start rewriting your gospel of self?

 

Marie Fremin.  7/10/17

Jesus Loves Me

jesus-loves-me

Jesus loves me

This I know

For His sacrifice

Tells me so.

 

With His arms

Stretched out so wide

It was for MY sin

And shame He died.

 

As the blood flowed freely

From His body torn

With a crown of thorns

The soldiers did His head adorn.

 

The pain so great

The agony so real

The weight of my sin

Did He completely feel.

 

Every breath a trial

Every minute excruciating pain

All to change the world

And my soul to gain.

 

A cross and three nails

And His earthly mission was done

It was time to ascend

And rule as God’s Son.

 

Because His love was proven

Because His joy was complete

By His life as an example

And His resurrection as hell’s defeat.

 

His love so noble

His love so true

His love so obvious

It was all about me and you.

 

And it doesn’t matter

Where I have been

It doesn’t matter

How I have clung to my sin.

 

It doesn’t matter

That I’ve run way

It doesn’t matter

That I’ve gone astray.

 

All that matters

Are those arms stretched wide

Waiting to embrace me

And my sin to override.

 

Because I am precious to Him

Because I am loved beyond compare

By the Savior who gave His life

So I would never doubt His care.

 

Marie Fremin,  10/8/16

Call a Spade a Spade

I keep running into this same problem at work, and I honestly don’t know how to deal with it.

It goes right along the river where people don’t take responsibilities for their actions, don’t acknowledge their behavior and its effects on others, and don’t allow themselves to walk in self-control and self-denial.

It’s sugar-coating our wrong doings, thoughts, and actions.  It’s layering them over and under with excuses and exceptions and reasons why it’s OK.  It’s trying to soft-peddle and undersell our wrongdoing.

It’s making ourselves feel right by making others feel small, insignificant, and unimportant. It’s calling ourselves queens (or kings) and the rest of the world peasants. It’s declaring ourselves most important by belittling others. It’s feeling superior by purposefully pointing out everyone’s inferiority.

All to make ourselves feel better. All to justify our behavior. All to excuse the inexcusable things we do.

What a big problem! I believe there is a simple solution, or at least a place to start.

We have to call a spade a spade.  According to Wikipedia, “To ‘call a spade a spade’ is a figure of speech which explicitly calls out something as it is, by its right name. The implication is not to lie about what something is and instead to speak honestly and directly about a topic, specifically topics that others may avoid speaking about due to their sensitivity or the unpleasant or embarrassing nature of the subject.”

Call a Spade a Spade

What does this mean?

We have to be honest about our mistakes.

We have to be forthcoming about our wrongdoings.

We have to be transparent in our weaknesses.

We have to be up front about our sin.

Because we don’t help ourselves at all when we won’t call our sin what it is. And the beginning of being better, healing, and progress is being honest by calling our sin what it is – sin.

But boy does it hurt!

So what’s my problem at work?  I talked to a customer yesterday about the invoice he received in the mail and made notes of that conversation.  One of the issues was that we did not have an email address on the account to email that invoice, and so I noted that I “let him know we mailed a copy for his records because we failed to obtain an email address at the time of the call”.  It was a failure.  Plain and simple.  We didn’t ask.  Was it an epic failure?  No, by no means.  But was is it a failure?  Yes.  A mistake, a simple mistake.  Yet there were consequences.  The consequences included us spending money on a stamp to mail the invoice and time on the phone explaining why the customer received a paper invoice.

Was my wording meant to point a finger or assign blame?  Not intentionally.  Yet you would have thought I had threatened to shoot someone today with the up-in-arms response I received and the chastisement to “soften” my language.

Yes, maybe I could have phrased it a little better.  But in that moment that is what I was thinking, so that is what I wrote.  From all the evidence I saw during that phone conversation, the conclusion was obvious: we failed.  Minorly, not majorly.  Nothing newsworthy.  But we still failed. Because we didn’t put our details in order.

And why was one person upset over such a minor note?  Because she obviously made the mistake.  She did not come out and admit that she made the mistake, but she made it very clear that she felt the backlash of the slap of that word “failed”.  She took it very personally. When there was nothing personal about it all.

But now she made it personal. Because she slapped back. Because she didn’t stop and ask any questions. Because she assumed intent and responded in form. It didn’t help the situation. And it definitely didn’t help her cause, because she created more offense in responding out of her offense.

So I wonder, as I usually do – how are we ever going to grow and mature as a company and an office if we can’t say we failed?  How are we supposed to be better all-around if we refuse to own our mistakes?

So I’m pondering all this today and wondering what it all means.  And I honestly don’t know.  I’m mad and frustrated.  Because I want to desperately to lash out in response (hello, human side that proves how far from perfect I am) and defend myself.  But I don’t.  Because will it help the situation?  Will it make anything better?  Will it even be heard?  Probably not (and that part makes me very sad).  It will just be me, making a vain and futile attempt to “defend” myself against my accusers.

And then the palm of the hand hits the forehead with a gentle “thwap”.  Did Jesus feel the need to defend Himself?  No.  In the face of Caiaphas and Pontius Pilate and all His accusers, He remained silent (Matthew 26:63 – But Jesus remained silent; Matthew 27:14 – But Jesus made no reply, not even to a single charge).  He did not defend Himself or make excuses or try to explain Himself.  He did not try to talk anyone out of the abuse and brutality heaped upon Him that afternoon.  It didn’t matter to Him if the crowd was on His side, because He had a mission to finish.  He had a destiny to fulfill.  He had a world to save.

And yet again as I ponder life God makes a point.  A valid, straight to the heart point.  Hello conviction.  My name is Marie, and we’ll be walking together for a bit while I work this out.  I’m very grateful that you are conviction, since you will guide me toward Him and the path of righteousness.  Your nemesis, condemnation, is an unholy friend that only leads to misery and shame and blame.

Yes, it is hard, sometimes even painful, to say we were wrong.  But it is so healthy and so freeing.  No more weight of shame or guilt.  No more self-criticism and self-reproach.

I make a point to admit my wrongs with my electricians.  When I forget to call them back, I answer the phone with a more bashful tone and immediately say “I suck.  I’m sorry.”  Which I think immediately releases them from being (or staying) mad at me.  We actually get to laugh about it and talk about our lack of perfection all around.  It’s great.  It creates a better relationship.  It makes me more approachable.  It takes some pressure off of them.

But I struggle with the same thing with other people.  Especially people who are judgmental and hypersensitive and never admit their wrongdoings.  People who accuse quickly and apologize rarely.  People who use broad, general expressions (always, never) to describe behavior and characterize personality.

And today was another great reminder of how far I still have to go. How much I need to let things go. And that I still struggle with calling my sin what it is – sin.

Because I don’t want to be that girl who holds grudges, ascribes blame freely and without guilt, and cannot get along with difficult people. I want to be better. I want to be loving. I want to be humble.

Please, Lord, help me to be less of judgmental type of person and more of the silent Savior, who loved His accusers and even asked You to forgive them as He hung dying on the cross.  Help me, Lord, to be quick to forgive and slow to respond.  Help me, Lord, to untie my tongue when it stubbornly refuses to say “I’m sorry” or “I was wrong”.  Father, I absolutely can not do this without You, Lord, because my flesh is weak and my emotions want to take control. I am believing that every experience is a lesson in learning to love and an opportunity to be Your hands.  I am also believing that You will redeem all my experiences for my good and Your glory. Thank You for Your grace which is new each day and Your faith in me that I can do better. In Jesus’ Almighty Name I pray and believe, AMEN!

Marie Fremin, 7/1/15