December 1, 2015


November 16, 2015

Saved By God's Grace

November 15, 2015

One of These is Not Like the Others

So I saw another Facebook meme a few weeks ago. (I did some editing, but I think you can get the idea of what it says.) It's on the Facebook page entitled, I'm not "Spiritual". I just practice being a good person. This meme had to do with how all of the world's religions teach basically the same thing, which is do unto others as you would have them do unto you. In Christianity, this is called the Golden Rule, and is found in Matthew 7:12.

While I think it's a little simplistic to try to boil down all of the teachings of all of the world's religions into one common catch phrase, this isn't the focus of this post. My question is this: Is this - the Golden Rule and its variants - the primary teaching of Christianity? My friends, the answer is No. The primary teaching of Christianity is the Good News or the Gospel. Let's take some time to explain what the Good News is and why we need it, because if there is Good News, it logically follows that there is bad news. Walk with me down the Romans Road to Salvation, which is a collection of verses from Paul's letter to the Romans that outlines the plan of salvation.

My friends, here is the bad news:

1. "For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God." - Romans 3:23
Yeah, OK, so no one's perfect. God understands, right? This isn't really such bad news, is it? Yes, it is, because God demands 100% perfection for 100% of the time. There is no one who is perfect. The bad news gets worse.

2. "For the wages of sin is death..." - Romans 6:23a 
Yeah, but we all die, don't we? So how is this news? This is not just about our physical death, this verse is referring to our eternal death or damnation. But now, here's the Good News:

3. "But the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord." -Romans 6:23b 
How is this Good News, you ask? Because God is love, He demands that our sins be punished. This is just, right, and loving. The Good News is that God sent His son, Jesus, who was fully God and fully man to die on the cross and pay the penalty for our sins so that we wouldn't have to.

4. "If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved." - Romans 10:9
If by faith you believe that Jesus died on the cross in our place, to take the punishment that you deserve, and that God raised him from the dead to show his victory over sin and death, you will be saved. You will trust in Jesus and not yourself.

5. "Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ." -Romans 5:1
By placing our faith in Jesus' death and resurrection, we will have peace (as in the opposite of war) with God.

While on the surface, it seems that the world's religions have at least one thing in common, the fact is that Christianity is the only religion where God came to earth as a man; to live the perfect life that we can't live; to be humiliated and condemned to death on a cross, so that He could provide the perfect sacrifice as payment for our sins; to be raised from the dead on the third day to demonstrate His victory over sin and death. Jesus died so that you could be forgiven of your sins and have eternal life and be with God forever.

You fall short of the glory of God. You are not perfect, and that is the problem. Because of this, you cannot earn your salvation. You cannot work your way to Paradise. You cannot do enough good to outweigh the bad. Only the grace of God can save you. I do not know what the other religions teach, but Christianity says that salvation is a gift from God:
For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. - Ephesians 2:8-9
My friends, listen to the words of Jesus:
"For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed. But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God." - John 3:16-21
You are a sinner in need of a Savior. We all need a Savior. That Savior is Jesus. Place your faith in him and not yourself, your works, or your rituals. If you would like to know how to become a Christian, here is an article for further reading, "How to Become a Christian". May the Lord open your eyes to the glorious truth of the Gospel.

October 2, 2015

Looking for a Church Home in All the Wrong Places

There is no such thing as a perfect church, and by 'church' I mean an individual congregation and/or a denomination. They all have their positives and negatives. Now, having said that, some are worse than others. Currently my husband and I are attending (but not yet members of) a small, Southern Baptist church. This is our fourth church. I'm not proud of that. It's almost like saying I'm on my fourth husband. And this doesn't include the church in which I was raised - the Catholic Church. (My husband was raised in the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod.) Follow me as I recount our church (s)hopping experiences.

Our first stop is the Unitarian Universalist Church (Unitarian Universalist Association). I have heard the Unitarian Universalist Church described as being a mile wide and an inch deep. That is pretty accurate. In fact, I would not call it a church because it can hardly be described as Christian. The UUC embraces just about anything and everything from paganism (CUUPS) to secular humanism with a smattering of Christianity. After our first son was born, my husband and I decided we wanted to go back to church. He was raised Lutheran and I was raised Catholic. Although we both left our respective churches when we were about twenty, we both had fond memories of growing up in church. Understand that at this point in time, neither of us was saved. We weren't looking for Jesus. We were looking for a community to raise our children in that would provide a foundation of good values in Seattle. My friends, it is quite possible and I fear, very common, for people to attend church without being saved because they like the community. (As an aside: this is why I think pastors in every church should preach the gospel every Sunday. You never know who might need to hear it.) In spite of this, we learned the importance of community at this church. It was during this time that my youngest son had been born and suffered a brain hemorrhage at birth. Folks from our community group brought dinners to us and some stayed to comfort us. I remember talking with one lady who had lost her son to suicide. She said she had never believed in God or the afterlife, but one day found herself saying out loud to her late son, "I'll see you when it's my turn." She then reconsidered that there might be more to this life. She was searching. As I'm writing this, I realize that I need to pray for her to find the truth about Jesus.

Next stop is the United Church of Christ. This was the smallest congregation we attended. We had just returned to California from Seattle and we didn't like the local Unitarian Church. We figured that the UCC was just as progressive as the Unitarian Universalist Church, but it emphasized Jesus just a little bit more. The pastor of this church was a woman. At the time, it didn't bother me, but looking back I can see that there were issues. I have noticed that churches that are pastored by a woman tend to focus heavily on social justice issues.  Social justice is fine and dandy, but it's not the gospel and it's not the mandate of the church. Aside from the fact that these churches ignore 1 Timothy 2:11-12, there seems to be less expository Biblical preaching and more topical sermons relating to social justice. No, something was missing at this church so we decided to leave.

Third stop, the megachurch. This church was part of the Evangelical Covenant Church. Honestly, the reason why we started attending this church is because it had multiple service times, lots of volunteer opportunities, and it had a special needs program for kids. In short, it had convenience. However, a funny thing happened to us while we were at this church: we actually heard the gospel and accepted Jesus as our Savior. This was the first church where I heard that I was not OK with God and that I needed Jesus to save me. (This was from a sermon from a visiting pastor. Ahem.) Prior to this I thought I had it figured out: just be a good person. How wrong I was, and I am grateful that God used this pastor to speak truth to me. It was during this time that I learned the importance of Bible study. I was also baptized at this church, so it holds a special place in my heart. Sadly, we recently left the megachurch that we attended for nearly eight years because we grew weary of the constant marketing, the chasing after church fads, and the lack of discernment among the pastoral staff. In short, we got tired of seeing the church run like a business, which made business decisions designed to increase numbers. Funny things happen when you read the you gain discernment.

Last stop, a small Southern Baptist church. I never thought I would end up at an SBC church. My impression of the Southern Baptist Convention has always been that it's filled with Bible thumpers (remember, I grew up Catholic). Now, I realize that's a good thing. We passed this little church every Sunday on our way to the megachurch, which was in a nearby suburb. When we left the megachurch we decided to find a church in our city. One day I said, "Why don't we try that little Baptist church? If we don't like it, we don't have to go back." Now here's the thing: when you have a child with special needs, it can be very difficult to find a church home. Truth. Our first Sunday at this church we realized that our youngest son would have to sit with us during the service as there wasn't a Sunday School classroom for him. We panicked, but at the same time, it was too late to leave. Yet on that first day, the pastor was there in the entry way. He told us, "Don't worry about it. If he makes noise, I can still keep preaching. It's not a problem." The next Sunday, we met the pastor's wife right before service started. She introduced herself to us and told us that she was a paraprofessional in a class for severely autistic children. We also learned that the pastor and his wife had a special needs son, albeit he was a young adult. I don't go looking for signs and wonders, but I was very encouraged by this.

We have been at this church for 6 months. We like the preaching, where the pastor actually seems sincere, he seems to take God's word seriously, and he seems to write his own sermons instead of using prepackaged sermon programs. Ahem. For several months, I listened to the online sermons of the pastor of this Baptist church as well as the pastor of a "conservative charismatic" church (the pastor's description, not mine.) Both were very good, and both made me realize just how shallow the preaching at the megachurch had become. We visited both churches and realized that the charismatic flavor was not for us. We settled on the Baptist church because it was in our town and literally, five minutes away from our house.

I can't say that denominational affiliation isn't important to me because there are some denominations that I won't consider, like the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA). However, a denomination isn't the first thing that I take into consideration. I have come to realize that one of the most important aspects of a church is the faithful preaching of God's word. Does the pastor preach the whole counsel of God? Not every church will have good music, multiple ministries, a high profile pastor. To me, the important aspects of a good church are: faithful preaching of God's word, saints who love God and each other, and a strong desire to share the Gospel with others. (Acts 2:42-47)

September 28, 2015

Convinced of God's Love

September 27, 2015

We All Make Mistakes...We All Sin, Too

A few years ago, I noticed a trend among some church folk who were saying things like:

No one is perfect; we all make mistakes.
God knows we make mistakes and He loves us anyway.
Jesus died to pay for all of our mistakes past, present, and future.

All of those statements are true, to a certain extent. It's true that we all make mistakes. It's true that God loves us, in fact He loved us so much that he sent His son, Jesus, to die for us. (John 3:16) It is also equally true that we all sin, and sins are not the same as mistakes. Before going any further, let's take a moment to look at the definition of mistake and sin from


  1. an error in action, calculation, opinion, or judgment caused by poor reasoning, carelessness, insufficient knowledge, etc.
  2. a misunderstanding or misconception.


  1. transgression of divine law: the sin of Adam.
  2. any act regarded as such a transgression, especially a willful or deliberate violation of some religious or moral principle.
  3. any reprehensible or regrettable action, behavior, lapse, etc.; great fault or offense: It's a sin to waste time.

A mistake is when we do something unintended usually out of ignorance or carelessness, like when I have accidentally put soy milk instead of half and half in my coffee. I wasn't paying attention to which carton I was grabbing out of the fridge. I was careless. Putting soy milk in my coffee, while distasteful, is not a violation of God's law. Sleeping with my boyfriend (fornication) or lying to my mom are sins because they violate God's law. (1 Corinthians 6:9-10, Exodus 20, Revelation 22:13-16)

To even imply that our sins were merely mistakes is an affront to the cross of Christ. Jesus didn't die on the cross and shed his blood to pay for my mistake of putting soy milk in my coffee. But he did die on the cross to pay for every sin that I've committed, which includes: lying, taking God's name in vain, cursing, fornicating, drunkeness as well as many others.

Most of us don't like to dwell on the fact that we sin. Then there are some of us who beat ourselves up and focus exclusively on our sins, but that is another issue. (Incidentally, if this is you, please read Romans 8:1-4 and be encouraged.) The fact of the matter is that our sins separate us from God, and our sins offend God. Our sins, no matter how small in our eyes, are worthy of eternal damnation, so let's not sugarcoat that fact by saying our sins are merely mistakes. Our sins are the problem, but God has provided a solution:

"For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord." -Romans 6:23

I want to emphasize that when you become a Christian, you are not instantly sinless. In the first of his 95 Theses, the German Protestant reformer, Martin Luther stated, "When our Lord and Master Jesus Christ said, "Repent" (Mt 4:17), he willed the entire life of believers to be one of repentance." This lifelong process is part of the Christian life of dying to self and taking up our cross to follow Christ. We must turn from our way and our sins, and turn toward God and agree that His way is right. He is right and we are wrong. Praise God that we are not expected to do this on our own! God will graciously give you His Holy Spirit to convict you of sin, and to encourage you in your walk with Christ. God has also graciously given us His Word, the Bible, so that we are not left guessing.

We will never be perfect this side of heaven, but with the Holy Spirit's help, our lives will become less and less defined by sin, and more and more like Christ (2 Corinthians 3:18). If you are thinking "I'm a sinner. There is no way I'm good enough for God. What must I do to be saved?", I'd like to invite you to read "How to Become a Christian" from the Southern Baptist Convention. May the word of Christ dwell in you richly.

September 24, 2015

Man's Word vs. God's Word

I have seen this meme on Facebook. When I first read it I thought, "Strange words from a man who claims to lead the church." But in reality, Pope Francis does not lead the Church; he leads the Catholic Church, but that is not the Church. These words are devoid of Biblical truth, and more importantly, they are devoid of the Gospel.

Edit: According to Snopes, this meme is inaccurate. Nevertheless, I will examine each line because many people hold similar beliefs to those expressed in this meme. My goal is to encourage believers to test everything they hear and read using the word of God as the standard.

"See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ." - Colossians 2:8

Let's briefly take each line one by one and compare them with God's word. (Note: When I quote a verse from Scripture I have linked it to the entire chapter from which the quote is taken. Ex: Colossians 2:8 is from the second chapter of Colossians, verse 8. I have linked to the entire chapter 2.)

It is not necessary to believe in God to be a good person.

In some ways this is true...if you are comparing yourself to other people. The Bible says that no one is good except God. Therefore, God is the standard for goodness, not other people. His standard is 100% perfection for 100% of the time. There is no one on earth who meets that standard (Romans 3:23). Furthermore, the goal is not to be a good person; the goal is to be saved by faith in Jesus so that the Holy Spirit can begin the sanctifying work to make you more and more like Christ - which will not happen if you do not believe in God. Why in the world would a Christian want to give unbelievers the notion that it's OK to simply be a "good" person?

"You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe—and shudder!" - James 2:19

"And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone." - Mark 10:18

"And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him." - Hebrews 11:16

"And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit."-
2 Corinthians 3:18

In a way, the traditional notion of God is outdated.

I don't really know what this means. What is the traditional notion of God and why is it outdated? Certainly, God's opinion of Himself doesn't change. The apostle John said that God is love. Is that a traditional notion of God that is outdated? It is true that the Bible says that God is a consuming fire (Deut. 4:24) - He cannot and will not tolerate sin because He is love. Yet He is merciful and patient and provides us with every opportunity to repent of our sins and to believe the Good News!

“For I the Lord do not change; therefore you, O children of Jacob, are not consumed." - Malachi 3:6

"Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever." - Hebrews 13:8

"God is not man, that he should lie, or a son of man, that he should change his mind. Has he said, and will he not do it? Or has he spoken, and will he not fulfill it?" - Numbers 23:19

"Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love." -1 John 4:8

"The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance." - 2 Peter 3:9

One can be spiritual but not religious.

I used to spout this all the time before I came to Christ. Honestly, I don't even really know what it means, but at the time it sounded good. It is true that we have a spiritual nature. Those who are in Christ will have the Holy Spirit to guide them; unbelievers do not have the Holy Spirit. When you become a Christian (that is when you repent of your sins and trust in Jesus' sacrifice on the cross), you are born again (John 3:3, 1 Peter 1:23), you are a new creation who becomes a citizen of heaven (2 Corinthians 5:17). You will no longer trust in yourself and your power, but you will live your life by faith in Jesus, the Son of God:

"And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you." - John 14:16-17

"Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world." - James 1:27

"I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me." - Galatians 2:20

Further reading:

It is not necessary to go to church and give money - for many, nature can be a church.

This demonstrates a lack of understanding about what the church is. The church is not a building nor is it nature. The church is the Body of Christ - those believers who have put their faith in the finished work of Christ's perfect sacrifice on the cross. Believers gladly meet together to encourage each other and most importantly, to worship and glorify God together:
"For as in one body we have many members,and the members do not all have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another." - Romans 12:4-5
"Built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit." -  Ephesians 2:20-22
"And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near." - Hebrews 10:24-25

Some of the best people in history did not believe in God, while some of the worst deeds were done in His name.

Who are these "best people in history"? Name some names. The problem with this statement is the same as the first statement in that it is using other people as the standard for goodness. Additionally, no matter what these "best people" accomplished, they were still dead in their sins if they were not in Christ:

"Jesus said to him, 'I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.' " - John 14:6

I agree with the latter part of the statement that horrible things were done in the name of God, but the people who did these things were not of God. The Bible also speaks of these pretenders and deceivers:

"They will put you out of the synagogues. Indeed, the hour is coming when whoever kills you will think he is offering service to God." - John 16:2

"I appeal to you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and create obstacles contrary to the doctrine that you have been taught; avoid them. For such persons do not serve our Lord Christ, but their own appetites, and by smooth talk and flattery they deceive the hearts of the naive." - Romans 16:17-18

Why do atheists and non-Christians like Pope Francis? Because the pope is speaking their language, which is the language of the world and not of God:

"They are from the world; therefore they speak from the world, and the world listens to them." - 1 John 4:5

"Jesus said to them, “My time has not yet come, but your time is always here. The world cannot hate you, but it hates me because I testify about it that its works are evil." - John 7:6-7

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, please test all things using the word of God as the standard not the words of men. May the word of Christ dwell in you richly.

September 18, 2015

Introduction and Welcome

Welcome to "This Grace Wherein We Stand". The title of this blog comes from Paul's Letter to the Romans, chapter 5:

Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: by whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. -Romans 5:1-2 (KJV)

Those are beautiful words, my friend, and I hope to examine the reasons why in upcoming blog posts. Even though I was an English major and I love Shakespeare, I don't use the King James Version of the Bible for my everyday reading; I use the NIV 1984. Occasionally, I will read from the ESV or the NASB. If you are interested in learning about the different translations of the Bible I recommend that you go here and here. When I link to a passage of Scripture, I will most likely link to the NIV (2011 version) or the ESV. If you are new to the Bible and do not have one of your own, I recommend going to Bible Gateway.

I have two other blogs: Soak the Beans and Coffee Cake Crazy. The first one is not updated nearly enough any more. The second is more of a recipe archive, which is no longer updated. I began writing some posts about faith on Soak the Beans, but I decided that I wanted a separate blog to write about faith. That is the reason why this blog was created. I will be transferring some of those blog posts from Soak the Beans to this new blog so that they will be all in one place. I have decided not to do this because it's time consuming.

If you are a new visitor, Welcome! If you are an old visitor from my other blog, thank you for your patience as I transfer old posts to the new blog. I promise to write new posts ASAP.

If You Say "I'm Christian, But I'm Not...", Then You're Not

Originally posted on Soak the Beans on 9/15/2015.

This video is a perfect example of what compromise and friendship with the world looks like.

"You adulterous people, don’t you know that friendship with the world means enmity against God? Therefore, anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God." (James 4:4)

This video is full of error and here are some reasons why:

1) If you're a Christian, you better be prepared to talk more about Jesus than yourself. Before you can do that, however, you better familiarize yourself with some of Jesus' words such as these:

“If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you." (John 15:18-19)

2) This is what happens when you rely on your own opinion instead of God's word: you make it all about you. God's word is recorded in the Bible. Because it is God's word, the Bible is the standard by which Christians determine correct doctrine. Our opinions count for nothing. If you disagree with what is written, then either you or God is mistaken. (Hint: It's not God.)

"There is a way that seems right to man, but in the end leads to death."(Proverbs 14:12)

3) It is obvious these young people have no clue about who Jesus is and what he did. Not one time do they quote from Scripture to back up what they say. There is no talk of Jesus taking our sins - in fact, there is no mention of sin at all - upon himself and dying on the cross nor is there talk of his victorious resurrection. There is no mention of the Gospel, which is the entire reason for being a Christian. In other words, these young people have not said anything that would set them apart from unbelievers. They have RELIGION, not a RELATIONSHIP with Jesus. If they do not repent and get to know the real Jesus, they will one day hear these terrifying words of Jesus:

“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’ (Matt 7:21-23)

Friends,  get to know the real Jesus. Get to know what Jesus really said. The Gospel of John is an excellent place to start. If you don't have your own Bible, go to Bible Gateway.

For the record, a Christian is someone who:
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