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Friday, April 21, 2006

Insecurity in the Believer -- A Response to Michael Spencer

Several times over the past six months or so (I'm not really certain), I have interacted with Michael Spencer, aka The Internet Monk. Michael has a very down-to-earth style of writing that, in many ways, I enjoy reading. Several months ago, however, I felt a certain amount of confusion regarding what I perceived to be a common theme in Michael's writing. Rather than approach it publicly on his blog, I emailed him privately. My concern was that while Michael was very accurate in pointing out difficulties in the human existence (even for Christians), he seemed to focus strictly on the negativity of those situations without expressing the true hope that can be ours in Christ.

Michael was very gracious to respond to my email, and a very interesting exchange took place. The conclusion on Michael's part seemed to be that I could not be honest about life's struggles because of my charismatic bent, and that his view is a "realistic" view of life based on certain passages of Scripture. At the time, we debated the relationship between Romans 7 and Romans 8. Michael's position, as I understood it, was that Romans 8 (as it relates to being set free from sin) is a truth that is not yet realized in its fullness, and that Romans 7 (the struggle of the "wretched man", as described by Paul) is the current state of the believer.

I attempted to argue from the context of the entirety of chapters 6-8 that I saw Paul emphasizing the freedom from the power of sin, and no longer a need for us to experience that "struggle" with sin as part of the "normal" Christian life. In the end, we could not come to an agreement, and I dropped the subject.

Recently, Michael wrote a new post entitled "The Echoing Prelude: Insecurity and the Christian Life". In this essay, Michael very accurately (and eloquently, I might add) describes the insecurity that is a natural part of all of us, and the games that we play to cover up our insecurities. And the essay then turns to insecurity within the Christian with the following paragraph:

I see this when I see my students, but I also see it in myself, and particularly in the Christians I’ve been around my entire life.
Michael goes on for a number of paragraphs to talk about how insecurity resides in the believer alongside the hope of future security (cosmic redemption, as expressed in Romans 8, being the final solution). And he makes some statements that talk about the work of the Holy Spirit and how we are not left in our insecurities.
We are not left to lead the same lives of insecurity we lived before. The Spirit of God is at work in us, at work in the church and at work in the world. We taste the firstfruits of the Spirit’s application of Jesus’ resurrection in our own assurance. This assurance comes alongside us as the Gospel calls us to renounce worldly securities, personal fears and the myriad ways we seek to repair our own uncertainties.
But then, in the same way that I always felt like there was a big "but" in the essays that had previously prompted me to email Michael and express my concern, this essay went on to say:
So what should we see when we are among Christians? Are we to see the same insecurities as we see in those who do not know Christ? The answer is both yes and no. We are still human, we are still fallen, we are still part of a fallen world. There is never a time in this life when we live without that reality.

Remember the correct meaning of a verse: Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. (2Co 5:17)

This verse means that to be in Christ is to be part of the new creation. It does not mean that all aspects of that new creation are operating at present. Our "new creation" experience is the "groaning" experience of Romans chapter 8. Our insecurities battle with the life of the Spirit and the birth of cosmic redemption. Jesus has won, and Jesus will triumph in a regeneration and renewal of all things.
In conclusion to the essay, Michael offered seven suggestions as to how we should respond to issues of insecurity in a Christian.
1) Those who are experiencing insecurity should not be condemned and shamed as sinners and unbelievers.

2) The human experience of insecurity is part of the Gospel story, and it should be put into the context of the Gospel story.

3) Worship should utilize the Psalms and all of scripture to hear the voices of insecurity that are part of the human encounter with God and the Gospel of the Incarnate Word.

4) Christians ought not to pretend that they have been delivered from all insecurities. Christian leaders should never lead from the manipulation of insecurity or the promise of deliverance from all fear in the present.

5) The life of the Spirit should be cultivated and grown through an organic, relational and honest community of Jesus.

6) Christians whose primary presentation of the faith is one of providing undeniable and absolutely certain answers should consider if they are not, in fact, manifesting their own insecurities.

7) The relation of insecurity and idolatry should be a subject of ongoing growth, prayer and teaching. The Gospel calls us to continually consider how we are seeking comfort and certainty in idolatrous ways.
In the comments section following the essay, I took issue with Michael's use of 2 Corinthians 5:17. Michael immediately expressed his feeling of being "more than a little annoyed" at my comments, and a few comments went back and forth with frustration and annoyance being expressed. Finally, Michael wrote:
Part of my evidnt frustration- which sounds pretty rude, I admit and apologize- is because I really don’t know what we are talking about.

I absolutely believe Christ Jesus changes lives now. I believe he breaks the power of canceled sin. I beliee the process of transformation begins. I believe we were slaves to sin but no longer.

I do not believe sanctification or any aspect of experienced salvation is perfect in this life. I do not believe we are delivered from sin in such a way that we are not tempted or still deal with a fallen nature.

I do believe we have breakthroughs and that God answers prayer. I believe drug addicts are delivered and marriages are healed, etc.

Ever since you first wrote that you found no hope in my writing, it has been frustrating to try and understand what you think I am preaching and teaching that is inconsistent with scripture.
I started to write a response, but realized that it was going to be quite lengthy, and so I am choosing to post it here instead of adding such a lengthy response on Michael's site. Here is my response:

Michael, your apology is readily accepted. And I'm sorry that it's frustrating for you. I really am. It is not my intention to frustrate or hurt you in any way, Michael. As I mentioned to you, my questions are very sincere ones. Let me see if I can try to help bridge the understanding gap. If not, I'll be happy to shut up for a while (I did try to give you a break from my questions for quite a while!!) :)

We have sinful natures. And we have this great and glorious gift of new life in Christ. The question is, which are we going to focus on? Are we going to dwell on our insecurities, our failures, the times we fall down? To me, part of the answer (and I think a big part) is the repeated instruction by Paul to "set our minds on things above", to "consider [ourselves] dead to sin", etc.

This is the whole "hope" discussion that I was trying to have with you before. Rather than continue to dwell on our failures, our sins, our insecurities, and just accept them as "reality", it seems to me that it is of greater profit to our spiritual maturity to look forward to what we already have by faith. Even if it's part of a "not yet" understanding, we live by faith and hope in what is to come. That is a faith and hope that encourages, that causes us to live more and more consistently in the life that is ours through Christ. Hope doesn't tell people to just grit their teeth and hold out for the afterlife. There are benefits to being part of that new creation here and now.

This has nothing to do with what some in previous comments on this thread have suggested as part of some selfish motivation to get what I want, or to accept only the things that we want from God. Nor does it necessarily lead to fringe charismaticism, as you implied in an earlier comment in this thread.

When Paul talks about his struggles, his persecutions, his difficulties, he doesn't stop at the point of saying "I'm insecure" or "This is depressing." He expresses great hope and moves on (like he does in Romans 8, regardless of which interpretation [already vs. not yet] you take of it) to talking about what he knows to be true in Christ. Even when, in Romans 7, he says, "O wretched man that I am. Who will rescue me...?", he immediately turns his focus to say, "Thanks be to God" because he realizes that reality in Christ (as he goes on in chapter 8 to explain) gives him that very rescue for which he cries out.

That's why I often think about the phrase "walk by faith, not by sight." I look around me sometimes and I see a lot of hopelessness and despair. People constantly want to speak negatively about life. Even Christians want to remind us that things are going to be very tough for us in our lives. But that's not what we need to set our eyes on! Those are the things we see with our human eyes. But we are to walk by faith. That is a faith that says, "I know this is what I see, but I know a truth that supercedes all of this." And that truth is what enabled all of the people mentioned in Hebrews 11 to rise above what they were "seeing" and keep their eyes fixed on God.

Now, I think you believe all that I have just said. But look at your conclusions -- the final thoughts of your essay. Let me respond, if I might, to each point.

1) Those who are experiencing insecurity should not be condemned and shamed as sinners and unbelievers.

Right! They should never be condemned or shamed. But they need to be reminded of who they are in Christ, because then it helps them see that their insecurities are unnecessary in Christ. Security in Christ (Eph 1) is in direct contrast to our insecurities (which have more to do with putting our eyes on ourselves) because it is all about Him. We must take our eyes off of who we think we are (or aren't) and consider our lives "hidden in Christ", as Paul says.

2) The human experience of insecurity is part of the Gospel story, and it should be put into the context of the Gospel story.

I'm really not sure what you mean by this, but human insecurity is only part of the Gospel story to the extent that we must acknowledge that apart from Christ, we have no security whatsoever. But the beauty of the Gospel (which is definitely "good news") is that Christ came to preach freedom to the captives. Is insecurity not a captivity? Captivity to false expectations or false understanding of who we are.

3) Worship should utilize the Psalms and all of scripture to hear the voices of insecurity that are part of the human encounter with God and the Gospel of the Incarnate Word.

There's an obvious response of "why?" that I want to give here, but I'll move beyond that. The "voices of insecurity" that we would hear as Christians are no different from the very first temptation which began with "Did God really say...?" Those are voices, not from God, but from the enemy of our souls. And his words do not need to be given voice in our worship. If I am not mistaken, the voices of insecurity in the Psalms are still connected with expressions such as, "Yet I will praise Him". In other words, the Psalmist understood the need to counter those "voices" with the truth of what he knew by faith.

4) Christians ought not to pretend that they have been delivered from all insecurities. Christian leaders should never lead from the manipulation of insecurity or the promise of deliverance from all fear in the present.

There's no pretending necessary. Living in the reality of what God has given us requires no pretending. This statement assumes the false dichotomy that I have tried to point out in your writing. It is a dichotomy that says either you admit that you are struggling and that you have some real deep issues, or you must be pretending. This dichotomy is completely and utterly false. With regard to "the promise of deliverance from all fear in the present", the Scripture tells us very clearly that God has not given us a spirit of fear. We are also commanded not to be anxious for anything. Jesus tells us not to worry about tomorrow. We must acknowledge that fear stands in opposition to these commands.

5) The life of the Spirit should be cultivated and grown through an organic, relational and honest community of Jesus.

Absolutely. There is nothing here to be disputed. However, when you say "honest", and I interpret that word in the context of your other essays, I think that is probably a very loaded word. "Honesty" in Internet Monk writing seems to only focus on admitting negative things, not speaking positively about victory.

6) Christians whose primary presentation of the faith is one of providing undeniable and absolutely certain answers should consider if they are not, in fact, manifesting their own insecurities.

I'm not entirely sure what you mean by this, but one can speak of the "undeniable and absolutely certain answers" revealed in Scripture without it being based in insecurity. I would say that this point is really a red herring.

7) The relation of insecurity and idolatry should be a subject of ongoing growth, prayer and teaching. The Gospel calls us to continually consider how we are seeking comfort and certainty in idolatrous ways.

Idolatry is definitely a serious issue. But if we actually do find "comfort and certainty" in the person of Jesus Christ and in our relationship to and with Him, what is the problem? Yet, I think that you have been trying to explain to me that we will not have "comfort and certainty" in this lifetime. It is a "not yet" principle in "the Gospel according to the Internet Monk".

Part of what frustrated me in this discussion, Michael, is that you insist that the statement of 2 Corinthians 5:17 that the old things have passed away and all things have become new is something that is still future. While I am willing to consider that there is a fuller realization of that still to come, there is an awful lot of past and present tense in Paul's writings that I have yet to see you honestly engage. You read statements like 2 Corinthians 5:17 and tell us that we must remember the "correct" interpretation, which ultimately means that it doesn't mean what it says.

I don't mean this illustration to insult you, but it reminds me of how Oneness Pentecostalism deals with the text of the New Testament. The teaching of the Oneness teachers is that when the Bible says "son", you should substitute the word "flesh". When it says "father", you substitute the word "spirit." Therefore, they read John 3:16 to say, "God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten flesh...." This is absurd, and I'm sure you would quickly concur with me on that point.

But is that any different than taking any of the following statements of Paul and saying, "The correct interpretation is that this hasn't happened yet"?

  • "We died to sin"
  • "You have been set free from sin and have become slaves of righteousness"
  • " that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves to God..."
  • "the law of the Spirit set me free from sin and death"
  • "You...are controlled not by the sinful nature but by the Spirit."
  • "You did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear"
  • "In all these things [trouble, hardship, persecution, etc.] we are more than conquerors through him who loved us."

You expressed frustration that you don't know what it is I think you're "biblically inconsistent" in. Let me put it this way, Michael: What you teach is generally biblically true. But the whole basis of my question regarding your hope and my comments to this post on insecurity is based on a sense that you're not telling the whole story.

I don't know if that clears anything up, but if I am missing something significant, hopefully others will be able to see it and point it out to me.

Until next time,

steve :)

18 comment(s):

i think that you should respond to the Day of Truth, a day for christians to respond to the homosexual agenda. it is next friday. go ahead, show some love for those that get crapped on.

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Friday, April 21, 2006 10:02:00 PM  

Anonymous, it's a bit hard to engage in dialogue with someone who hides behind anonymity. And given the fact that I have not even heard about the "Day of Truth" to which you refer, it would be pretty hard for me to respond to it!

However, reading between the lines of your comment, I can only say that my thoughts and prayers are with you, that you would experience the love of Jesus Christ.

steve :)

By Blogger Steve Sensenig, at Friday, April 21, 2006 10:46:00 PM  

For the most part, the early church was made up of illiterate people and slaves. This made little difference to them because they had no Bible to read; and yet, they were able to do miracles and turn the world upside down.

How did they do this?

They were new creations in Christ. Maybe, they didn't understand every jot and tittle of scripture, but they understood the reality of Christ in them and how He was their Hope of Glory on an everyday basis.

Christ is the I AM in us, not the I WILL BE.

By Blogger Larry Who, at Saturday, April 22, 2006 10:52:00 AM  

Good post, Steve. I haven't read the exchange, yet, between you and Spencer, but I have to say that your thougts presented here are clear and on target.

I will "read up" so that I will know more of what is being discussed. Have a blessed weekend.

By Blogger Gordon Cloud, at Saturday, April 22, 2006 3:03:00 PM  

food for thought, when I've been taught the "spencer" line of thought most of my life. it's a huge struggle getting through some of this stuff, really! so what's a person to do with the insecurity- ignore it? it doesn't go away just because my head knows what God says and my heart struggles to appropriate the truth

By Blogger flutemom, at Saturday, April 22, 2006 6:39:00 PM  


Thank you for your honest questions. I've emailed you privately because my thoughts in response to you are pretty personal, and also rather lengthy. However, I might try to address some of your questions here on the blog at some point, too.

For my other readers, what would you say in response to flutemom's question? What should our response to insecurity be?

steve :)

By Blogger Steve Sensenig, at Saturday, April 22, 2006 10:24:00 PM  

To flutemom:

As a twelve year old, I had a chance to give my life to Christ at a Bible camp for youths, but I thought about the Christians that I knew and said to myself, "I don't want what they have."

I passed on Jesus.

In the years following that, I became an agnostic and a mocker of anything Christian. But when I was thirty-nine years old, I needed lots of money and the only asset I had which had any value was a $125,000 life insurance policy. So, I decided to commit suicide.

On the exact day that I was going to commit suicide, Jesus barged into my life and saved me on a bathroom floor.

I was an agnostic. I was a mocker of Christ and His followers. I was against everything that Jesus stood for. And yet, He loved me so much that He intruded into my plans and saved me from an eternity in Hell.

So, when I read about your insecurity which I take to mean that you don't trust God, I wanted to cry because I know how much Christ loves people. And how do I know this? Because He loved me.

By Blogger Larry Who, at Sunday, April 23, 2006 9:07:00 AM  

Thanks for pulling this out of the discussion of Michael Spencer's argument and posting it as its own message. I really don't think I'd have felt right posting a response on Michael's site, even if you could've compressed all your points into a short response.

Also, one final disclaimer. I've had a lot of experience with Christians where I feel "I know these guys are Christians, but the words they use somehow means I can't see or feel how they could be Christians--I can't relate to their life." This isn't the case with your responses at all--even though I'm going to come down more on Michael's side.

You see, I've been a Christian since my early childhood, and I've generally felt surrounded (especially in youth groups, etc.) with the idea that Christian victory over sin means everything should be happy and effortless. I often think that if it hadn't been for:
1)C.S. Lewis' The Silver Chair, where the main character somehow manages to serve God even though he has severe doubts as to the existence of anything.
2) Caedmon's Call's songs, especially those that acknowledge the struggle and difficulty of faith ("My faith is like shifting sand/changed by every wave/my faith is like shifting sand/so I stand on grace."
3) The "darker side" of Scriptures, especially Job, Eccleiastes, and the description of Christ himself as a "man of sorrows, and well aqquainted with suffering."

...then I might well have been contemplating suicide, and certainly wouldn't have the stronger and more mature faith in God that I have today.

I'm aware this is an existential argument, and not one based on Scriptures. But for me, it is a critically important one. Because I condsider myself to have been a Christian my whole life, but much of that life was full of darkness as I felt that the easy expressions of hope others gave me (a hope associated closely with happiness) might be an indication that somehow, despite a life spent attempting to focus my everything on Christ and live only through the Holy Spirit, I'm not a Christian.

I'm currently striving to be an author, and all the books I want to write are, I believe, fundamentally Christian. But they are dark, in the sense that characters generally have everything they trust in taken from them, and even when they trust in God, it's often a faith that they have to keep reminding themselves of, because they're constantly in danger of forgetting it. When I read Michael Spenser's writings, I feel them to be akin to my fiction--in both cases, you have a look at a faith in a perfect Christ that isn't perfect itself, but is being perfected by its author, Christ.

By Blogger Chestertonian Rambler, at Sunday, April 23, 2006 11:34:00 AM  

Larry Who, I can't speak completely for flutemom, but I'm pretty certain that she wasn't saying she doesn't trust God. She's referencing the fact that many (herself included) have been taught Michael Spencer's way of looking at things for her whole life, and she's wondering what we should do with the insecurities that we still feel. It may ultimately mean that she discovers that she doesn't trust God as fully as she might (or ought), but it's not necessarily that basic for her. At least that's my opinion based on my private conversations with her. (I've know flutemom for almost 37 years!!)

chestertonian rambler, thanks for stopping by and commenting. I appreciate your input. I want to engage what you've written, but we're getting ready for a simple church gathering here at our place in a couple hours, and I need to help my wife do some cleaning. I'll have to take this up later, but I definitely will engage what you've written. Thanks for your tone. :)

I will say this much, though, to hold everyone over: When I talk about "victory" in the Christian life, I am not referring to

• superficial happiness
• getting "things"
• freedom from any discomfort
• lack of suffering for the cause of Christ
• or anything else that is me-centered.

A good way of looking at where we "should" be as Christians is to examine the fruit of the Spirit revealed for us in Scripture. If your outlook on life is not one that encompasses love, joy, peace, gentleness, kindness, etc., then it may be an incorrect view of the Christian life. Walking in the Spirit will bring those things to us. More on that later.

steve :)

By Blogger Steve Sensenig, at Sunday, April 23, 2006 1:25:00 PM  

correction: That should read I've known flutemom for almost 37 years!! :)

By Blogger Steve Sensenig, at Sunday, April 23, 2006 1:26:00 PM  

Premise: there is something missing in our understanding of walking in the spirit of Jesus in our modern day Christian experience. This missing piece is the antidote for our "insecurity."

Premise: religion is exactly what it means. "Re" means again.
"-ligion" comes from a Latin root meaning connect (hence our word ligament for the material that connects bone to bone). Religion is a recurring attempt to connect with God. By its very nature, religion works against the faith that God is ever faithful.

Three thoughts on religion versus being one who walks with God.

1. Religion fosters lack of faith. It substitutes knowledge in natural terms for spiritual truth, though semantically uses scripture to do so.

2. Religion substitutes "interpreting" scripture for hungering and thirsting for the truth of which it speaks.

3. Practitioners of religion fail to recognize the bitter vindictiveness of their own self-righteous judgments, thus filling the fellowship of those gathered with a "group" insecurity very much experienced by individuals as outright condemnation or as fear of the same.

The above three identified characteristics are not complete, but help define the problem: A Christian trying to experience God within a group that is based on religion rather than faith will know much conflict in the soul.

There are three characteristics of fallenness common to humans:
lust of the eyes, lust of the flesh and the pride of life.
Lust of the eyes is not simply looking at others' bodies with sexual appetite. It is greedily seeking or worshipfully viewing all symbols of power and/or gratification as if these had value.

Lust of the flesh is more than wanting sex all the time with any willing partner. This lust seeks to control or manipulate others toward the result of fulfilling our physical gratifications-food, drink, sex, comforts.

The pride of life is when we are consumed by the strengths and abilities of people to create and construct. What humans can do naturally, especially ourselves, is all-important to us.

Whenever we make choices--even unconciously--based on one of the drives above, we are motivated by the spirit of the age. Thus, we drink from the counterfeit fountain of life as our choice and we live what we choose.

Religon will never free us from these three characteristics of fallenness. I used to pray for deliverance from my homosexuality. When it didn't happen, I rejected God as either dishonest or cruel. Now that I have returned to Him and struggled with the feelings and His teachings about life in the spirit, I understand God does not deliver any of us from our lusts or pride. Rather He has made a way for us to choose differently.

Yes, Chestertonian rambler and Michael Spencer, I have had some dark times in the soul. But being forgiven 7 times 70, I have gone on with Him. I have learned that there is simple key I must learn to turn. The key is my own will, and through union with His in-dwelling presence, I exercise my will toward knowing His full peace and satisfaction. Should someone be condemned who fails to understand how to do this? No. Should we back off from teaching it can be done out of respect for the feelings of these weak ones? No.

This is the missing piece I mentioned in the first premise. My will can be exercised toward God because of His in-dwelling presence. I am not stopped, undermined, prevented or deceived by satan into failure. My choice to exercise my will and drink from a counterfeit fountain is a measure of my lack of love. My exercise of will to drink from the fountain of life, ever present within me according to several scriptures and that which I learned by faith to trust, is a function of my love for God.

How shall others know what I know?
Am I totally consistent in what I would teach? and you shall find. His in-dwelling presence must be accepted and believed in. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God. I am not pure so I cannot see. In union with Christ, His righteousness is in my stead and my eyes are opened with Him to gaze upon the Father. The fellowship of believers is absolutely essential here. If I must hide my natural self because of a spirit of condemnation that is religious, I am cut-off from the earthly source of encouragement I need.

Consistency is a function of abiding. Abiding is a function of my will. I fail, I succeed. He is the judge regardless of how I characterize anything. Knowing the God of love is my judge is very reassuring.

Apologies for the length of my comments. My heart is full and expressive. 8^)

By Anonymous ded, at Sunday, April 23, 2006 2:19:00 PM  

ded, I hope you and Mrs. ded are coming to fellowship with us tonight. I've missed you, my brother! That, and I need you to help me sort through your comment here since I'm not totally sure I grasped all of it!! :)

steve :)

By Blogger Steve Sensenig, at Sunday, April 23, 2006 2:27:00 PM  

"OK, let's run this up the flagpole and see if anybody salutes it."--Twelve Angry Men

As I read the exchange between you and Michael, I can see to some degree the point he is making about the juxtaposition of insecurities and securities. We do still battle the sinful nature (and I don't think you ever denied that so I am certainly not arguing with you over that). Like you, though, I believe there is more hope for overcoming these insecurities than he offers.

Insecurities are a result of the sin nature. Rejection, fear, failure, pain, separation, etc. came into play after the fall of man. If God can't save us from those insecurities, of what profit is salvation?

I think the question is, "Does God immediately remove these from us?" To which I would say the answer is "no". We must keep in mind that God's desire is to draw men to Himself and it seems His favorite way is to do that by glorifying Himself in the lives of His children (and He isn't glorified if we live a life of hopeless defeat). One aspect of the newness of the "new creation" is that we now have the grace of God with which we can overcome our insecurities.

I like to think of insecurities as voids that sin causes in our life. As long as we try to fill those voids with our own ways of dealing with them, we will never overcome them. We may cover them up for a while, but they will remain.

We overcome them when we are willing to give them to God. Paul learned that in his weakness, God was strong. So often we think we have to bring our strengths to God when in reality He wants our weaknesses.

God can replace the rejection of men with His acceptance. He replaces fear with power, love and a sound mind. He replaces failure with overcoming. For every insecurity that sin causes in our life, God has a "whole" replacement, otherwise His grace is insufficient.

I said all of that to say this, I think I agree with you. :)

By Blogger Gordon Cloud, at Sunday, April 23, 2006 4:03:00 PM  

Brief comments, Ded:

1) I like your differentiation between "religion" and "the experience of God," but I wouldn't personally use the term "religion." Probably because I've known too many who consider any moral limits or any Scripturally-compatible churches to be "religion" in a pejorative sense.

2) I completely agree with your description of "lust of the eyes, lust of the flesh, and the boastful pride of life."

3) Generally, my life experiences have been that making the "right" choice itself is not particularly an easy thing, as the outwardly-perceived "right" thing is often accompanied boastful pride of life, and a sense that the action is not the result of God's grace but of my actions. WIthout ever excusing sin, I've found that intellectually turning all credit over to God, "the author and perfector of our faith," has lead me far closer to Christ himself.

I've heard many debates between Calvinists and non-Calvinists, and decided that I couldn't prove anything one way or the other using just Scripture proof-texts. But looking at the message of the Christ, the entirety of Scriptures, and the experiences of my life (especially including other believers), I can't but feel justified in largely viewing myself as a work-in-progress of God.

By Blogger Chestertonian Rambler, at Monday, April 24, 2006 3:18:00 AM  


Forgive me for not being clear.
I probably needed to open with something like...

Two causes of insecurity in the believer I would like to address are
1. Practicing religion. Religion would indicate it holds the answers for an individual in his/her relationshp with God, when in fact, it often is in the way of such.

2. Not turning away from our own sinfulness undercuts our ability to know peace with God.

Isn't "insecurity" another way of sayng, "I am experiencing a deep, inexplicable and unrelenting anxiety."? Anxiety is the soul's path when the the believer is not knowing the peace which is a fruit of the Holy Spirit.

Why? ...

then follows my earlier post.


By Anonymous ded, at Monday, April 24, 2006 6:14:00 AM  


I understood what you said the first time, and I agree with you.

The greatest revelation that I have ever had is that God loves me. Me - the person who should have gone to Hell. Me - the one who did not love Him until He revealed His love to me.

D. L. Moody, the evangelist said that his favorite song was "Jesus Loves Me." His reason was that it was a mind blowing truth, far beyond anything that we could comprehend.

By Blogger Larry Who, at Tuesday, April 25, 2006 2:29:00 PM  

Chestertonian rambler:

There are so many debates among Christians of which I wonder isn't the "Proof" a meaningless divide, when the real issue is learning the fullness of love that undergirds unity of the spirit?

Work in progress? Yes, we all are working out our salvation with fear and trembling. I am with you on this one. Faith it takes and faith alone. There is no real work to be accomplished with my old man. He is unfixable.

I have known that accompanying pride which becomes boastful over doing the "right" thing. Learning to completely credit God is a very important lesson. I agree with you. I think this is part of the reason why Jesus told us to give in secret.

Larry who: We are so thoroughly dependent of that love. I agree with you and Moody. It is so far beyond what we could possibly comprehend. The imagining of that infinite love and the experience of it here at the level I do comprehend are the sources of my deepest peace.

By Anonymous ded, at Tuesday, April 25, 2006 3:35:00 PM  

I enjoyed your blog. Thanks for being honest and open about everything. Jesus is so cool! I love reading about people who know really know him.

I am a musician and I would be honored if you would check out my music. All my music is free for download. Anyway, I don't mean to be a pest, just thought I'd share.

"All my muisc is free."

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Friday, July 07, 2006 11:02:00 PM  

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