“Look to the cross more”: a response to the “gospel-centered” movement

Last week I received a letter from my friend Ana. The first part of her first question read:

In the Reformed/Gospel-centered movement, the focus seems to be on how sinful and wicked and powerless we all are and how comforted and relieved we should be when we look to the cross. It seems like the answer to most problems is to look to the cross more. I don’t even know exactly what that means. For me, it encouraged a miserable cycle of wallowing in how awful I am and basing the Christian life on the feelings I get when I think of Jesus dying for me.

Here is my reply: Continue reading ““Look to the cross more”: a response to the “gospel-centered” movement”

Reflections on my 62nd birthday: “What if your life were written as a story?”

The question

I’ve spoken in a number of Christian school chapels over the years. As a professional storyteller I’d speak in chapel with a true story from one of my missionary books, and then as the “visiting author” I’d go around to the classrooms and answer questions.

One of the questions I’d often get was this: “If your life were written as a story, what would you want it to say?”

(A student would ask it, but I always had a sneaking suspicion that it was a teacher who came up with the question.)

My reply would consistently be, “Oh, I’d never want my life to be written as a story. My life is way too boring.” Continue reading “Reflections on my 62nd birthday: “What if your life were written as a story?””

The best counsel I ever received—it’s not what you’d expect (guest post by Ruth Harris)

I love it when friends of mine find their voices and speak. I love providing them with a safe space to speak about what God has done in their lives.  This one is from my friend Ruth.

*****

I’ve not ever been in what is considered formal therapy. Sadly the “biblical counsel” my church leaders and Bible college leaders gave me as a teen almost killed me.

“Never question authority”

I was raised in an environment where authority was absolute.  Obedience without question was expected to be given to any “authority” in my life. I learned that they were chosen and ordained by God to communicate God’s plan and design for my life. If any authority figure pointed out anything other than unquestioned obedience on my part, I would be punished.

“Adults do not just sit around making up lies just to create trouble for children.” I heard that time after time. Continue reading “The best counsel I ever received—it’s not what you’d expect (guest post by Ruth Harris)”

A Gothard Girl testifies about the “root of bitterness” (guest post by Lauren Rose)

A while back when I (Rebecca) was talking with some former ATI members (Bill Gothard’s Advanced Training Institute), I thought about the devastation, confusion, and even anti-Christianity that has resulted from this homeschooling program. I said aloud to myself, “Bill Gothard certainly has left a tremendous amount of destruction in his wake.”

Then I added under my breath, “Many were defiled.”

I saw that he was the very root of bitterness in Hebrews 12:15 that he himself loved to talk about.

Continue reading “A Gothard Girl testifies about the “root of bitterness” (guest post by Lauren Rose)”

Can God be in the presence of sin?

In prayer ministry work with abuse survivors, it’s common to ask Jesus to show up in the memory of the abuse. This is an effective way for Him to speak His love and care to the heart of the one who was harmed and bring healing to the wounds caused by others.

But sometimes a theology question can stop the work before it happens. “God can’t be in the presence of sin,” more than one friend has said to me, “so there’s no way Jesus could be there where that awful stuff is happening.” Continue reading “Can God be in the presence of sin?”

“Why are you so fearful? How is it that you have no faith?”

I have friends who are walking through hellish darkness in trying to recover and stay safe from evil perpetrated on them and their children that, when they entered their marriages, they had no inkling even existed.

I have friends who are trying to stay safe from being stalked by their rapists or other stalkers who for their own purposes want the world to think their target is crazy.

My friends often struggle with fear, because of flashbacks intruding into their present, and because of the very real and present threats of the wicked perpetrators.

And a Bible verse like this can send them spiraling. It just sounds like more condemnation.

But as always, it’s so, so important to look at the context. Continue reading ““Why are you so fearful? How is it that you have no faith?””

“It’s not about you”

Quiz time.

What’s wrong with that statement in the title?

Answer . . .

There’s no antecedent for the “it.” 

(As a writer, editor, and English teacher, I’m troubled by a missing antecedent because of the ambiguity it creates. And yes, that sentence was a little bit “about me.”)

So I had to do some research to find out what people think the “it” refers to. Turns out different people think it refers to different things. Imagine that. Gotta love ambiguity. Continue reading ““It’s not about you””