My Response to White Supremacy

As I sat reading on my couch last night, I felt a deep, unexpected grief come over me. I don’t exactly know all the specifics of how and/or why it arrived, but it was noticeable nonetheless. After processing it for a while, I determined that it was a leading from the Spirit of Christ to write a simple yet clear response to white supremacy. I honestly hope that you knew what I was going to say when you read the title: absolute and dogmatic denouncement. Regardless however, I felt like I needed to say it publicly.

First of all though, let my admission preempt your accusation: yes, I am a pasty white, paid-for blonde, young-at-heart mid-thirties, Jesus-chasing single woman. I realize that I am wholly blind to the countless benefits of white privilege I encounter and receive every single day in our society. I know that I am treated differently/preferentially completely based on my whiteness, in ways that I don’t even recognize or consider consciously.

With that said, I cannot change the color of my skin nor do I feel inappropriate shame associated simply with being white. It’s how God chose to make me and there’s nothing I did to earn, deserve, or manipulate where, when, how, or what race I was born. I trust his sovereignty. However, I denounce ANY ideology, theology, notion, feeling, belief, judgement, or worldview that says my whiteness (or anyone else’s) makes me (or them) innately superior to a person of color whether black, brown, blue, or purple. White supremacy is wholly demonic (James 3). Every human being, regardless of race is made in the image of God and the imago Dei alone dictates all of mankind’s absolute equality in value, worth, and identity (Genesis 1:27). I believe the gospel of Jesus Christ.

believing-the-gospel

The gospel of grace unequivocally refutes any race’s assumption of supremacy over another (Galatians 2). Hear me clearly: the foundation of our Bible’s gospel is that the One who is TOTALLY OTHER THAN, INFINITELY MORE SUPREME, COMPLETELY SUPERIOR TO US, “Christ Jesus…made himself NOTHING, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” For US. To know us. To be with us. To save us.  To redeem us. To make us alive. To reconcile us. To adopt all of us foreigners into his family.

The only One who could ever rightly claim supremacy, chose not to. While we were his enemies, Christ stumbled up a hill called Calvary to die for us. Because he loved us.

Because he loved the world – all of it (John 3:16, Titus 2:11).

The gospel also tells us that one day very soon, every knee (no matter its color) will bow down to Jesus. “God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”

The gospel, the good news of Christ, stands directly against white supremacy – and I stand in complete agreement with that gloriously good news. 

My black and brown brothers and sisters, I stand with you.

~Courtney ❤

___________________________

**These words are my very own. Any repetition from others’ statements is simply the natural similarities we possess by standing on the gospel together.

**If any statements in this blog are offensive somehow to you, please know that it was unintentional and out of complete ignorance. Please let me know so I can learn.

**If you have not yet embraced Jesus with your life, but would like to talk, please let me know. It would be my privilege to tell you more about the good news of Christ.

**Scripture passages above are from Philippians 2:5-11 unless otherwise noted.

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5 Things I Need YOU to Pray for ME

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I am currently 40,000 feet in the air on a plane flying to Houston, Texas, sitting in the window seat, staring out a window full of sparkling blue skies. We are soaring above a solid blanket of glowing white pillowy clouds as far as the eye can see. (And as a remarkable gift of God, I have an empty middle seat next to me on a “completely full flight.” Thanks, Southwest.)

I’m headed to Lit Conference, an event being offered by Living Proof Ministries and Bible teacher Beth Moore this weekend. It’s specifically catered for women in their twenties and thirties who believe that they have the spiritual gift of teaching. Ms. Beth released a Bible study on 2 Timothy called Entrusted last September focusing on the Paul-Timothy paradigm of mentorship. While writing it, she felt compelled to speak to those with a similar gifting but she knew she needed to keep the content of the study fairly general. Thus, the Holy Spirit birthed this event in her heart to give her an opportunity to pour into the younger generation of teachers/communicators.

The conference sold out in five minutes after going live at 9 a.m. CST on Black Friday morning and many women were left disappointed without a ticket. I say that to express that I am fully and acutely aware of the privilege, honor, and grace straight from Jesus to allow such an incredible opportunity to attend this event.

It has obviously been a frequent conversation piece between me and the Lord in the past several weeks and I’m praying for five specific things from him this weekend. Could I be so bold as to unashamedly ask for your prayers as well?

  1. For God to show up. Is there a much better prayer? Apart from him, we can do nothing. A single moment in his presence is worth a lifetime of learning. We are desperate for his Spirit to be active in that place and in our hearts.
  2. For protection from the enemy. That dude is hating what he knows can and will happen out of this gathering. He’s going to be working overtime. Pray against him, his workers, their schemes, and their effects.
  3. For retention of everything that is meant for my hearing and my ministry. I’m eager to hear a word from the Lord that he intended for me and the further development of my calling and gifting. Pray that I get it and grab it.
  4. For a FUN weekend. No explanation needed. Who doesn’t want fun? And if the Author of fun is there, I’m pretty sure he intends for it to be present too.
  5. For an opportunity to grow my network of Jesus-loving, call-pursuing, Bible-teaching women in my generation. Pray against any feeling of inadequacy, intimidation, or insecurity. Pray that I won’t desire anyone else’s calling, gifting, or ministry but will continue to embrace my own. 

Thank you for the opportunity to share this experience with you. And moreover thank you for any prayer that you are compelled to utter on my behalf. I don’t ask for it lightly and I certainly don’t take it for granted. I know you have many items of much greater weight on your prayer list and I will simply trust the Holy Spirit to bring me to your remembrance as he sees fit.

Well, we are starting our descent and look at that: the setting sun is now painting colors and shadows all over that smooth blanket of white. What a reminder that the Great Artist is still creating his masterpiece of grace that is this wretch’s life, and Lord-willing this weekend will add a few new magnificent strokes of color with his sovereign paint brush.

To God be all the glory, now and forever.

A Maid of Honor Speech

One of my best friends, my baby sister Jennifer, got married last night to my new brother Christian! Congrats to the Florys! I had the privilege of serving as her maid of honor. After months of work, one of my final opportunities was a speech to toast the new couple at the reception. Knowing that yesterday was a literal blur of mascara, hair spray, camera flashes, people and exhaustion, I wanted to write it out for them here.

If you’re interested too, here it is:

My name is Courtney and I have the privilege of being this beautiful bride’s older sister. I’m going to try to get through this speech without breaking down, so please allow me to stick to the script here to keep me on track.

Since I’ve never been married, I’m not going to try to offer cute advice to you two. I’d be speaking out of complete ignorance. However one plain thing I do know about marriage is that it is two sinners coming together to live under one roof. Two people who at the deepest, most natural and fleshly state of their heart want what’s best for THEM. So even this single girl knows without a doubt that there will be sin. There will be error. There will be fault. There will be hurt. There will be offense. There just will.

So, what I need to remind you two of today on this, the first day of your marriage, is that, Jennifer and Christian, because you have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, there is nothing you can do to make God love you more and there’s nothing you can do to make him love you less. In Christ, you have complete and total acceptance and approval from God the Father, right here, right now, until the day you meet him face-to-face. Whether you’re the best spouse or the worst spouse, there is no chance of earning more or losing any of God’s affection. NO MATTER WHAT.

Your standing before God in Christ is completely righteous. For God made him who knew no sin to be sin for you, Christian and, for you, Jennifer, so that in him, you might become the righteousness of God. In Christ, through Christ, and because of Christ’s life, death, burial, and resurrection, God has set his affection –his love– on you. To quote my favorite kid’s Bible: “God loves you with a never-ending, never giving up, unstopping, always and forever love.”

In light of that, let me simply encourage you to love each other out of the knowledge of God’s love for you. When there is offense, remember that God in Christ gives you grace upon grace upon grace upon grace for your offenses (John 1:16). When there is hurt, remember that while we were yet still Christ’s enemies, he died for us (Rom. 5:10). When there is a lack of love between you two, remember that God pours down his love into your heart through the Holy Spirit (Rom. 5:5). When there is pain, remember that Jesus Christ himself endured the cross of excruciating pain, scorning its shame for the joy set before him. You were the joy set before Christ, Christian, my new brother. You were the joy set before Christ, Jen, my precious baby sister. The joy of being in a relationship with you was set before Jesus…and he pressed on.

So please, please, please don’t simply pursue a perfect marriage. It will exhaust you. It will frustrate you. It will make you an. absolute. CONTROL. FREAK. It’s simply out of reach.

Instead, pursue Perfection himself, Jesus Christ. He is the prize–not the perfect marriage. He is your fullest rest. He is your abundant joy. He is your ultimate freedom. He is your truest peace. He is your most extravagant love.

And then you two each just get to be the earthly icing on a heavenly cake…

…and who doesn’t love icing??!!

Cheers!

All my love to the happy couple and my best friend.

How ISIS Reveals What We REALLY Believe

The events, stories, and commentary surrounding the most recent ISIS attacks have bombarded us over the last week and have been overwhelming. I have struggled (like so many others) to know the biblical way to respond in thoughts, words, and actions. Unfortunately, I am nowhere near qualified to claim to have definitive answers for this incredibly complicated issue. So I won’t. Thus this blog is not going to serve in assisting you with the answers and in fact it will just be asking more questions. Let me explain.

Earlier this week, I was doing my Bible study and the author took us to Genesis 3: the serpent deceiving Eve. “Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, ‘Did God actually say…'” My Bible study’s focus is the book of Nehemiah and she was just making a minor point from the third chapter of the Bible, but the Holy Spirit stopped me dead in my tracks. Did God actually say…? My mind was immediately flooded with verses.

This past week, I have heard Christian after Christian explain their points. I have read article after article and have had conversation after conversation trying to drudge through this very real global and increasingly local situation. I kept going back and forth with different Scriptures in my mind praying through what the biblical response was to all of this. Again, this blog is not going to have your neat and tidy answers.

My intention today is to instead share a few of the Scriptures that the Holy Spirit revealed that some of us Christians don’t really believe–at least our responses are proving that we don’t (“out of the overflow of the heart, the mouth speaks,” Luke 6:45). We have instead believed the words of the hater of our souls: God didn’t really say…

  1. Philippians 1:21, “For to me to live is Christ, and TO DIE IS GAIN.” If we truly believed that to die is GAIN, we wouldn’t be so scared. Paul screams to us from his jail cell: “IT’S BETTER TO BE WITH CHRIST!!” Maybe we have gotten too comfortable with this life that heaven doesn’t really seem that much better…May God open our eyes to the magnificent, unending joy that awaits us in the glorious presence of Jesus Christ himself. Christ is unexplainably better than anything this life can offer.
  2. Romans 5:10, “…while WE WERE ENEMIES we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son…” With a very imminent, obvious, and real life enemy in our midst, it has given me a new perspective on my relationship with God before Christ saved me. I was his enemy. I don’t think we as Christians really believe that. I think we don’t think we were that bad. I mean, we are thankful that Jesus saved us and all, but–come on–we weren’t killing anybody the day he showed up either! Right? Colossians 1 says that we were “hostile in mind” toward God. We hated him. We were his enemies and instead of running away from us, he ran toward us in the cross. Again, this is not a political commentary. Just a reminder that maybe we have heard the liar say to us, “did God really say you were all that bad?” and believed him. Kill any pride or self-righteousness in your soul. Or it will be killing you.
  3. Acts 9, the conversion of SAUL, THE CHRISTIAN KILLER. Terrorist. Do we really believe the words on the pages of Acts 8 that say that Saul oversaw the murder of Stephen? Do we really believe that he was going from house to house looking for Christian men and women to chain them up and drag them to Jerusalem? Have we entered into the reality of Saul’s terrorism–in the name of his religion? Then, we reach the blessed words of Acts 9 proclaiming Saul’s salvation for generations of mankind to read. Do we believe that God saves terrorists? Or was that a one-time deal just for Saul? Are you praying for ISIS? Do you think they’re unreachable? Unsaveable? Believe Jesus. His very name proclaims, “Yahweh saves!”
  4. Matthew 5:44-45a, “But I say to you, LOVE YOUR ENEMIES and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven.” Honestly, this was the first verse that jumped into my mind after reading the words in Genesis. Did God really say….love your enemies. Yup, he did. Yes there are verses that say that God hates the wicked. God is all-together righteous and can do whatever he wants. But here’s the thing: we’re not God. Under the new covenant, I don’t believe we have the option to love or hate.
  5. Matthew 20:1-16, The Parable of the Laborers in the Vineyard. Speaking out of my flesh, this is easily one of my least favorite passages in all of Scripture. You wanna know why? Because. It’s. Not. Fair. Here’s the thing: doing a full day’s work and getting paid the same amount as someone who does one hour?? Yeah, not fair. The words of the vineyard owner are piercing, “Friend, I am doing you no wrong…Am I not allowed to do what I choose with what belongs to me? Or do you begrudge my generosity?” May we always remember that everything about our lives–even the very place we were born–is a grace from God (Acts 17:26). We haven’t earned anything apart from him allowing us to have it. The moment we begin to feel entitled to certain things, standards, and lifestyles, we have forgotten grace. Do we really believe that God has the right to show grace to whomever he wishes?
  6. Psalm 115:3, “Our God is in the heavens; he DOES ALL THAT PLEASES HIM.” God is in control. This is only one of many verses that tells us this. Do we really believe that ISIS could be wiped out with a single snap of God’s fingers? Yet, he chooses not to. Do we really believe that he knew about the Paris, 911, and countless other attacks? God’s permissive will is easily one of the most difficult theological doctrines to struggle through in this life, but God’s sovereignty is one of the bedrocks of our faith. Christ-followers should be displaying an unshakeable and irresistable peace to a terrified and watching world.
  7. 2 Corinthians 5:18-20a, “All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. Therefore, WE ARE AMBASSADORS FOR CHRIST, God making his appeal through us.” Christian, we have been given the blessed task of taking and preaching the gospel to everyone. As those who have been reconciled to God through Christ, we have the responsibility and privilege of sharing the best news on the planet with those who haven’t heard it yet. Do we really believe that God ordained the church as an integral part of his redemptive plan for the world? Do we really believe that we are all ambassadors for Christ? Or do we think that someone else will take care of it?

Again, I promise you that this is not a political statement, nor even a commentary on how I think we should respond as Christians, and I pray that you don’t read it as such. There are much better articles written by much smarter people about the details of the ISIS situation. But I’m more concerned about us, the church of Christ, believing, loving, and obeying Scripture–it is our very life (Deut. 32:47). No matter what situation we find ourselves struggling through, we need to always endeavor to have a biblical worldview.

I pray that the Holy Spirit would be gracious to reveal where you have allowed the enemy to whisper, “Did God really say….?” and believed him.

8 Things God Taught Me In Seattle….

Last Tuesday marked exactly two years since I moved across the country and started my new life in Seattle. Anniversaries have a way of making us reminisce. It obviously came up in my time with the Lord and I spent some time journaling a few specific things that he taught me first-hand during (and because of) the last two years.

Two more things before we jump in: (1) this list certainly isn’t exhaustive and (2) I can’t promise that you’ll read anything you didn’t already know. But there’s something about lessons taught through experience that takes knowledge to a new depth in our soul.

1. NO MINISTRY IS INDESTRUCTIBLE.

I will not bore you with Mars Hill’s stats when I came on staff in November 2013. I will not tell you our attendance numbers. I will not tell you how many people were on staff. I will not tell you how many locations we had or how many states we were in. I will not tell you our annual budget numbers. It’s unnecessary and honestly, I don’t know all those numbers. The point is this: no one, NO ONE, saw the close of Mars Hill Church coming. Ministry was thriving. Growth was happening. Mars Hill was known to be one of the most innovative and fastest-growing churches in America. Mark Driscoll was known (and loved) worldwide for his unmatched style of Bible-teaching. Mars Hill wasn’t going anywhere no matter what her critics were doing on the outside. She was too big. Or that’s what I and many others thought…

The close of Mars Hill will likely remain one of my most heart-breaking, most surreal, most shocking events in ministry. It taught me that God gives, and God takes away. No matter how unfathomable that might be or impossible that might seem. God is in control and he knows best…and his name is to be praised.

2. PEOPLE WILL EVENTUALLY DEMONIZE ANYONE WHOM THEY IDOLIZE.

This is actually something that I heard Mark Driscoll preach time and time again. But I saw this proved true, as people in the church quickly turned from hurt to hate. Whenever a person is the source of our joy, security, peace, or acceptance, and then they inevitably fail us, they threaten (instead of provide) those things in our lives. They who were our perceived savior, quickly become our enemy.

3. GOD USES WHOM HE CHOOSES.

Mark Driscoll definitely had his stuff–we all do. He preached often about his struggle with the sin of pride and anger. But God chose him–even in the midst of his stuff. God chose to save a 19-year old kid, gifted him mightily, and led him into ministry for the good of people and the glory of God.

Also, let me say this publicly here since I’ve been asked several times: I had the privilege of meeting weekly with Pastor Mark because of my role on staff. I had several casual encounters with him at staff meetings and other functions. I never, NEVER experienced anything other than grace, honor, humility, love, appreciation, and pastoral care from him. He has a pastor’s heart and loves people.

4. GRIEF WILL MANIFEST…EVENTUALLY.

I have cried at the strangest times–one of those times being while writing this blogpost. But I’m thankful for the grief, because the current pain proves the previous joy. I loved everything about my time at Mars Hill: the people who became my family, leading worship at one of our locations, the work I got to do, my pastors, serving a church who had done so much for me for years.

If you find your grief stalling, give it to the Lord. He knows best how to allow your heart to heal.

5. MISSING A GIFTED, INFLUENTIAL PERSON IS NOT A SIN.

I really struggled with feeling guilty for missing Mark’s preaching so much. I felt way less mature than the many people around me who kept saying, “Mars Hill isn’t about Mark. We are a family no matter who our pastor is!” Things like that–which were true. But through a lot of time journaling and praying, I realized that it was OK for me to miss Mark, his preaching, and his content. He is easily one of the top five most influential people regarding my spiritual formation. I needed to allow myself to grieve his preaching. The Holy Spirit had used him to teach me such life-changing truths that even the sound of his voice (having been a podcaster for 6-7 years) was comforting. It was peaceful for me. But just because I missed a man, did not mean that I idolized a man.

Having an earthly hero and grieving your loss of them is perfectly normal. Don’t let people try to tell you otherwise. Devastation, however, is another story.

6. DON’T DISCOUNT PAST MINISTRY EFFICACY BECAUSE OF CURRENT SITUATIONS.

No one can deny what God did through Mark Driscoll. No one. There are quite possibly hundreds of thousands of people who have heard the gospel of Jesus Christ through that man. The current situation does not negate any of God’s previous work. He is the first person who clearly told me, “There is nothing you can do to make God love you more, and there’s nothing you can do to make him love you less.” Freedom. Life-changing. Life. Changing. There is nothing that will ever discount my appreciation for his ministry in my life. Nothing.

Similarly, any current sin issue or consequences of past sin in your life does not demean or devalue what God has done through you in the past. If the enemy is attacking you this way, ask the Lord to remind you of his goodness to you and his grace through you to others.

7. DON’T COUNT OUT A FUTURE MINISTRY BECAUSE OF CURRENT SITUATIONS.

I have no idea what God has planned for Mark Driscoll. But I know he has something for him because (a) God has prepared good works for him to do and (b) he’s still breathing. Yes, there is need for repentance, growth, healing, and restoration, but God is able to do abundantly more than all we can ask or imagine.

Likewise, if you find yourself in a current season of sin, rebuke, and consequences, do not let the enemy convince you that you’re out of the game. As long as there is repentance, it’s simply not true. Hold onto the precious truth of Romans 8:28 that he works all things together for good for those who love him and are called according to his purpose.

8. JESUS IS WAY TOO GOOD TO ME.

I write that sentence with tears welling up in my eyes. It’s true: his unbelievable favor blows my mind. He is the prize. He is my prize. If you find yourself in a tough, tough situation today, hold onto Jesus with all you have. He is your prize. He is enough. When ALL around your soul gives way, HE THEN is all your hope and stay.

galatians…week 15 **ADOPTION**

There is a tender story circulating across the country through all sorts of media. I first saw it last week, through a Facebook post, then last night, I heard it discussed on a cable news show. It is the story of 15-year old orphan, Davion Only, who decided to go to church to make his plea for a forever family. (Since there is a high probability that most of you have heard/read it, I’m not going to rehash all of the details, but I have hyper-linked it if you haven’t seen it elsewhere before now.)

Davion’s story is undoubtedly a heart-wrenching one. However, when I first read it last week and then when I heard it again last night, the very first statement used to introduce the story each time was “Davion Only believes that God helps those who help themselves.” Cringe. How many of you have heard that statement, regardless of the context in which it was used? “God helps those who help themselves.” Double-cringe.

Let me be clear: I so appreciate Davion’s boldness and precious, God-given desire to find a family. Since he believed those six words, he took a giant step of action–and I pray God will bless him with a family who loves him unconditionally…

BUT, oh, how my heart was grieved…

Instead of those six cringe-worthy words that depict God as some boss who only pays you if you come to work, I wish he had been told about an ever-gracious God who is the Boss who does all your work for you, and then pays you anyway because you can’t even get to work. And then comes by your house after He has finished all your work to take you out for ice cream just because He wants to hang out with you! Mercy and grace.

Those six words that have been attached to this story do NOT describe the God of the Bible. I wish Davion, as a desperate orphan, had heard Scriptural truths such as, God is the “Father to the fatherless” (Psalm 68:5) or God helps those who CANNOT help themselves (Romans 5:6) or God’s heart is already toward orphans and widows in spite of their inability to do anything about their situation (Deuteronomy 10:18, James 1:27). THAT is my Jesus.

I knew the Lord was leading me to write a blog post about this because I have been meaning to jump back into Galatians, and Davion’s story fit perfectly with our next portion of text in chapter 4. Here it is:

1 I mean that the heir, as long as he is a child, is no different from a slave, though he is the owner of everything, 2 but he is under guardians and managers until the date set by his father. 3In the same way, we also, when we were children, were enslaved to the elementary principles of the world. 4 But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, 5 to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. 6 And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” 7 So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God.

Adoption. Beautiful, is it not? Earthly adoption, of course, but infinitely more beautiful is spiritual adoption of rebellious, hateful children by a perfect Father who sacrificed His own Son, to make us His forever family.

Here we see that God knew there was nothing, absolutely NOTHING, we could do to alter our situation “under the law” (v. 5). We could NEVER help ourselves, as the pithy quote suggests. GOD had to work. GOD had to act. GOD had to help us. GOD had to adopt us. GOD had to send His Son. GOD had to die…And He did…

And because Jesus did, we are adopted as sons and daughters, no longer slaves! God has sent His Holy Spirit into our hearts crying, “Abba! Father!” God is not a slave-master, waiting for you to do “your part of the deal.” THERE IS NO DEAL! There is no contract! There is ONLY GRACE! There is only a forgiving Father running towards us with open arms (Luke 15:20)!

When God brings the right parents forward for Davion, do you think they will sit down with a contract stating demands, costs, duties, and things which he must uphold?? OF COURSE NOT! He has nothing to bring to the table. He has nothing to offer. He is helpless. He was born fifteen years ago to an incarcerated mother. She has since passed away, leaving Davion as a permanent ward of the state, unless someone else rescues him. Hear me loudly–if you have not trusted Christ to save you, THAT is your spiritual condition right now! You need a rescuer! Human beings have nothing to bring, nothing to offer God. We cannot help ourselves. In fact, Scripture says we are dead (Eph 2:1). When God adopts us, God rescues us by making us alive and entering into eternal, unconditional, covenant relationship with us (Eph 2:5).

If you believe that your heavenly Father determines whether or not He adopts you, or loves you, or helps you, or accepts you, or redeems you, or saves you, or forgives you, or approves of you, or delights in you, or listens to you, or anything else, based on WHAT YOU DO OR DON’T DO rather than on WHAT JESUS HAS DONE, then you are still “under the law” (v. 5)…Jesus came and was born under the law to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons….you are no longer a slave, but a son or daughter. Believe it. Receive it. Live it. Freedom.

Can I ask you to pray for a fresh revelation of God’s grace shown to you through His adoption of you when you did nothing to earn it or keep it–or even ask for it? Pray for a truer, more real understanding of the Gospel. Pray for a heart-deep knowledge of Jesus’ finished work of righteousness granted to you. Pray for a day-changing realization of God’s perfect redemption of our souls through Jesus’ life, death, burial, and resurrection. Lastly, please pray that the Holy Spirit would rip every last shred of belief in the anti-biblical statement “God helps those who help themselves” out of your precious heart–it’s simply not true.

I’ll say this again: I pray that God will bless Davion with a Jesus-loving, Bible-believing, Gospel-preaching family who loves him unconditionally…not because Davion helped himself, but because God is a good Father (James 1:17), whose redemptive heart beats for adoption.

galatians…week 14 **ALL ONE**

martin-luther-king-jr

Happy birthday to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. We, as a country, duly honor him today for his life, vision, faith, work, and untimely murder. In his honor, I want to share a small part of his heart in quotes:

“I have a dream that one day little black boys and girls will be holding hands with little white boys and girls.”

“Wars are poor chisels for carving out peaceful tomorrows.”

“We must live together as brothers or perish together as fools.”

“Love is the only force capable of transforming an enemy to a friend.”

“An individual has not started living until he can rise above the narrow confines of his individualistic concerns to the broader concerns of all humanity.”

“We have flown the air like birds and swum the sea like fishes, but have yet to learn the simple act of walking the earth like brothers.”

“We may have all come on different ships, but we’re in the same boat now.”

“True peace is not merely the absence of tension: it is the presence of justice.”

As I spent time today doing my memory work, I realized that the theme of Dr. King’s life is well-represented in the next passage of Galatians that we’ll address. Although I just wrote a blog post this past weekend, I felt as though the timing of today’s MLK holiday was perfect for the last few verses of the third chapter of Galatians:

23 Now before faith came, we were held captive under the law, imprisoned until the coming faith would be revealed. 24 So then, the law was our guardian until Christ came, in order that we might be justified by faith. 25 But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian, 26 for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith. 27 For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise.

I know it has been a while since we started this journey through Galatians so we must at this time refresh our memories regarding the purpose for Paul’s letter. Gentile believers were being convinced by the Judaizers, that in addition to Jesus, they also needed to keep the Jewish law, in order to be really saved. That faith in Jesus was good, but wasn’t quite enough. It was a starting point, but not the whole. Paul began destroying those lies with the truth of the gospel: JESUS IS ENOUGH.

Therefore, you see in this passage that we are “justified by faith” (v. 24) and we are “sons [and daughters] of God through faith” (v. 26). There is no other way for human beings to receive justification (being made positionally right with God) except through faith in Jesus Christ, his life, death, burial, and resurrection. We are saved by believing that Jesus’ perfect righteousness has been transferred to us by no merit of our own.

Additionally, as far as the background of the letter, there was a specific instance of racism cited in 2:11-16 that Paul addressed, and most certainly was indicative of other occurrences between Jewish Christians and Gentiles as well. Paul undoubtedly had this racism in mind when he wrote the words in verse 28, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female…” In Christ Jesus, neither race, gender, age, position, religious background, nor any other differing category, is recognized to divide us or elevate one above the other.

Equality.

We see plainly here, that the redeemed heart of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. beat in tandem with the heart of our great God of grace and justice.

In your life, have you allowed pride to creep in? Do you think that you are better than other people because they look, dress, act, think, or speak differently than you? Do you judge other churches for how they worship? Do you make fun of other denominations for how they do or do not express affection for God? Do you think that other people aren’t “as spiritual” as you since they haven’t experienced the same things that you have in your walk with Christ? Do you put expectations on others in order for them to be “good Christians” and write them off as “bad Christians” when they don’t meet them?

We constantly need to search our hearts for this pride “for [we] are all ONE in Christ Jesus.”

Happy Birthday, Pastor King. I look forward to meeting you in heaven.