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Charles Spurgeon on Conviction and Compromise

Sorry I haven't been able to finish the third installment in the series. Walking pneumonia has been sweeping through our house, and mommy was the last to be struck and was unable to even take a decongestant because I'm pregnant. I just thank God for antibiotics! :)
Please enjoy this posting from Teampyro (one of my favorite blogs ever!) from their weekly dose of Spurgeon.

Thanks for bearing with me :)


Conviction and Compromise: Is It Just Me? Pt. 2

Again, no expert here, but God has definitely been dealing with me in this area. 
One of the first things that plagues me in this area is the question: Is this Biblical? In other words, am I just preferring this, angry at someone or something, or is this actually backed up literally in Scripture (not can I take something out of context here or a random verse there, but does the whole council of God found in Scripture support what I'm feeling convicted about). The last thing I want to become is caught up in legalism (Titus 3:9 ). I want to enjoy the freedom I have in Christ, but only if it edifies my brothers and sisters in Christ and furthers the gospel (1 Corinthians 10:23 ). 
I hope this is a way to avoid that trap. 
I have found that there are certain things God convicts me of, because they pertain to my personal sinning, but that He might not convict of others. Let me explain a little if I may. One area of my life that God has dealt with me almost since I was saved is the area of immodest clothing. 
 One area that was controlled as a teen was how I dressed, because I was blessed with very vigilant and loving parents. But when I was on my own in college and even after getting married, I started to dress more and more like my peers. I don't think most people's standards would've said I was extremely immodest, but I knew I was. And worse, I knew why I was dressing that way. I wanted to entice lust in men. I thought it gave me power over them and over other women. I was sinning against my God, Creator, and Savior, as well as my husband, my parents, and my own body. There was a period of time where I was so ashamed and disgusted with my sin that I wouldn't even wear makeup and felt as though any heels would be sinful. After much prayer, study of the Word of God, and time, I knew that my heart had been sinful and not the things. I became convicted that I was now dressing in an unfeminine way(Deuteronomy 22:5 ). I realized that dressing modestly didn't mean I needed to forego anything that might be beautiful and that I could never fully hide that I was female. God's Word didn't forbid me to be beautiful or feminine and to seek that beauty for my husband's enjoyment, it actually celebrates it in marriage. I also realized that true beauty was in my being a woman who seeks God and serves others for the sake of the gospel of Jesus Christ(1 Peter 3:1-6 ).
The point is that for me, how I was dressing was directly hindering the gospel in that it affected my witness and testimony to others. Yet, I can't and wouldn't tell others that wearing heels for example is a sin. I couldn't wear them for a period, because God was dealing with me over my sin. There's nothing sinful in heeled shoes when they are paired with modest clothes. My conviction wouldn't allow me to wear them, and my conviction was founded in Scripture, because I knew my heart's sinful desires to entice lust in others was keeping me from being able to share the gospel in a God glorifying way. The conviction was legitimate, but didn't necessarily apply to others and didn't even apply to me forever (I do wear heels now, they're just with modest skirts and dresses). I could not and should not impose this conviction on others, because the Bible doesn't expressly forbid heels, only immodest apparel. 
The focus has to be: Is the gospel being hindered/ hurt by this? Whether that be something that is personally harming it through the sins of myself or of others. But, if it pertains to only my sinning than I cannot and should not impose the convictions and or restrictions that God has led me to place on myself onto others. They may not struggle with that sin or God may protect them from that temptation in another way. 
Albert Mohler (one of my favorite speakers and authors, check out his blog ) puts the emphasis much better than I ever could in his book "The Disappearance of God: Dangerous Beliefs in the New Spiritual Openness".  He calls a need for a "theological triage". I used to work as a respiratory therapist and if you've worked in any medical setting or just watched a lot of medical tv, you will know to triage someone is to, through a series of protocol procedures and questions determine the severity of their illness/injuries and the necessary treatment as quickly as possible so that the patients whose condition is the most critical can be treated first. Dr. Mohler suggests that we should do something similar for convictions over theological matters. 
He breaks it down into three distinct levels with the first level being the most serious. 
"First-level theological issues would include those doctrines most central and essential to the Christian faith. Included among these most crucial doctrines would be doctrines such as the Trinity, the full deity and humanity of Jesus Christ, justification by faith, and the authority of Scripture."
These are truths that someone can't deny and be a Christian. They are the gospel in and of themselves, to deny them would be to deny Christ, God, and the Holy Spirit. These are definitely worth fighting and dying for, they should cause divisions. 
"The set of second-order doctrines is distinguished from the first-order set by the fact that believing Christians may disagree on the second-order issues, though this disagreement will create significant boundaries between believers."
This level includes things like the meaning and mode of baptism. Again, Dr. Mohler, "Standing together on the first-order doctrines, Baptists and Presbyterians eagerly recognize each other as believing Christians, but recognize that disagreement on issues of this importance will prevent fellowship within the same congregation or denomination. Christians across a vast denominational range can stand together on the first-order doctrines and recognize each other as authentic Christians, while understanding that the existence of second-order disagreements prevents the closeness of fellowship we would otherwise enjoy. . . . Many of the most heated disagreements among serious believers take place at the second-order level, for those issues frame our understanding of the church and its ordering by the Word of God."
Disagreement over these things does not mean that one is saved and the other is not. They are true convictions derived from the Bible and do not completely break fellowship, but a church cannot properly function as one body with these kinds of disagreements in them. These are the convictions that often lead to our being in a particular denomination or church as opposed to others that are just as faithful in preaching the Word of God and are focused on the gospel of Christ in a biblical way. 
"Third-order issues are doctrines over which Christians may disagree and remain in close fellowship, even within local congregations. I would put most of the debates over eschatology, for example, in this category." 
I may not agree with my family in Christ on every little detail, but the essential parts of the gospel and who God truly is, and the authority of Scripture are not debatable. They define who we are as Christians and who we are in Jesus Christ. They tell what salvation is and isn't and how and who it is that effectuates that salvation. 
I know this is long, but I hope and pray that it will help myself and others to think these things through very carefully before I say or do something I will regret. There will be a third installment in this series, so bear with me graciously.


Post Featured At The Well

Check out a blog post of mine being featured At The Well today :)

Or click here to read the full version (I'm a bit wordy), and the follow up post here.


Conviction and Compromise: Where's the Line?

On a completely side note: my grandpa was briefly a
professional boxer, even sparring with a then unknown
Joe Lewis. Grandpa later was saved and called to be a pastor.
This isn't him, btw ;)
First, let me say that I am neither a theologian, nor do I claim to be any kind of authority on Scripture, but am merely writing and trying to express something that has been keeping me awake at night and that I've been feeling quite uneasy about. 
I, like everybody else, have certain convictions which are derived from Scripture and as of late have been struggling with how to maintain those convictions whilst being patient and loving with my brethren(I mean sisters, too when I say brethren) in Christ. How can I lovingly and peaceably get along without compromising what I feel is plain in Scripture?
"Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints."- Jude 1:3
We are to contend or struggle/fight for the truth of our faith, for the very gospel that saves us through Jesus Christ. And many have done so throughout Scripture and history, even laying down their own lives for the sake of truth, and some have taken it to the extreme of killing others to keep the faith pure. (I am not trying to instigate a discussion as to whether or not persons deemed heretics should've been put to death, nor am I trying to defend or negate those individuals who participated in such things. But encourage you, before you pass judgement on them or their teaching to remember that God only uses flawed men and women in His work, because there isn't any other kind of people. Noah got drunk and naked, in front of his family no less, even after God had killed almost every living creature from off the face of the earth in judgement for unrighteousness. Abraham lied about his wife Sarah and gave her over to another man to wife, disregarding whatever harm or hazard could and probably would befall her as a result. Jacob cheated his brother out of his birthright and blessing by plotting against and lying to his own father. David committed adultery and then murdered to cover it up. Solomon had a passion for many women, including the forbidden foreign women, and in his seeking to please his own lust for them committed himself to idolatry in worshipping their false gods. The list could go on and on. The point being that their sins don't negate that God used them in spectacular and purposeful ways to further His kingdom and bring glory to His name.) I want to be the kind of person that would die for the sake of the gospel. I want to be so earnest in my willingness to be under the authority of Scripture that nothing would keep me from being faithful to it. But I know that I am still in a body of flesh, and am ever struggling against myself, and am often being overtaken in that struggle. I often feel like Peter. I am so willing to rush into the fight that I often go on impulse instead of resting in Christ's power and authority. My desire to defend God and His Word sometimes gets ahead of my trusting that He is more than capable of defending Himself. 
Here is my conundrum. Where do I draw the line? How can I stay true to a literal reading of Scripture and yet be loving and patient and peaceful with my brethren in Christ without compromising truth? I'm sure I'm not the first, nor will be the last to have this question berating my mind, nor will I never face it again, but for now it's really bothering me. (BTW a great source for biblical answers to these kinds of questions is 9 Marks Ministries .)
One of the first Scriptures that comes to my mind is Philippians 2:1-4 (click link for context). "If there be therefore any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any bowels and mercies, Fulfil ye my joy, that ye be likeminded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others."
The text here in Philippians doesn't contradict Jude 1:3. We are to "contend for the faith", but we are to seek to be "likeminded" and to be of "one mind" all who are in Christ. Why? Because of the consolation/encouragement found in Christ, the comforting love and fellowship in the Holy Spirit that should be found in all believers, and the affection and sympathy/mercy between the brethren. That brings joy; it fulfills our joy. We are commanded to have the "same love" for one another, not striving intentionally and selfishly or seeking our own way to gain glory or for the sake of pride. We are to address one another in all humility/lowliness, even to the point of esteeming others "better than ourselves", looking to their interests first and not to our own. 
Sounds great, but how does it really work? 
One of the first questions I found myself asking was: Am I pursuing what I feel is a biblical conviction (assuming the conviction is Scripturally defendable), with the needs and interests of others being greater than my own, in humility, love, and mercy? This is a hard question to face for me. I feel so strongly, and yet would I feel as strongly about it, if I were to think of others before myself? I am called to love my neighbor as myself  , and yet love isn't compromise. Love rejoices in truth, and doesn't rejoice in sin/iniquity (1 Corinthians 13:6 ). The most loving thing you can do is to tell the truth. Yes, it hurts in the moment, but always feels better for both parties in the end. (Think of sharing the gospel. It would be much more painful for a lost person to not hear the truth about their sinful nature and the inevitable wrath of God that awaits us all apart from Christ's atoning sacrifice being imputed to us for righteousness.)
So, I must be truthful, and in so doing be loving to my brethren, going in all humility with their interests placed before my own with my convictions. (To be continued in next post....)


Pregnancy Craving #15

So what's the new craving? Homemade, spicy, potato soup made with ginger, cloves, cheddar cheese, and just a pinch of cumin, mmmmm.
And in case you didn't know, or have never tried it, there's nothing that goes with soup better than saltine crackers smeared with butter.

Spicy Potato Soup

potatoes (more or less, depending on your number of servings)
powdered ginger
powdered cloves
diced onion (dried or fresh, and the amount may vary depending on your fondness for onions. I love them)
shredded cheddar cheese
instant mashed potato flakes

Cut potatoes into cubes and put in a pot big enough to fully submerge the potatoes in water. For six medium potatoes. Fill pot with water about an inch above the tops of the potatoes. Add 1tbsp. salt, 1 tsp. pepper, 1 tbsp. powdered ginger, 1/2 tsp. cumin, 1 tsp. powdered cloves, and diced onions (I use about half of a large onion, but the dried kind work well, too). Put on stove and let it come to a boil, then turn down heat enough to keep it from boiling over but still boiling. Cook until potatoes are tender and cut apart easily with a spoon's edge. Add 1/3 to 1/2 cup of milk and 1/4 cup of instant mashed potato flakes and stir well. If too thick, add more milk. If too thin, add more potato flakes, but be careful, because you can easily end up with mashed potatoes. Add 1 1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese (one of the best parts).

This potato soup is very spicy, so it may have to be modified depending on you and your family's tastes, but the general seasonings work well in smaller amounts, too (my daughter and husband like spicy foods). This is also a darker brown than traditional potato soup, so if your kids notice the color difference, you might want to prepare them ahead of time (yeah, I've got one of those kids).

Hope ya'll enjoy the soup on a nice fall afternoon as much as I did! (And still am! I love left over soup, and this one tastes as good or better left over!) Sorry, I have no picture, but it's all gone.