Let Us Press On to Know God

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“Let us know; let us press on to know the Lord;
    his going out is sure as the dawn;
he will come to us as the showers,
    as the spring rains that water the earth.” Hosea 6:3

It is that time of the year again when we like to consider where we are in our relationship with God and where we wish we’d be. For many Christians, there is a sense of guilt when they ask themselves this kind of questions. “Again a year has gone by and again I didn’t read my Bible consistently… and prayer? Honestly I only prayed when things were going super bad.”

The thing is that God has not moved from where we can find Him. He has not chosen a new way for us to approach Him, or a “fresher” way to know Him. God has revealed Himself to us in the person of Jesus Christ and in the Holy Scriptures. And it is in the Bible that He has told us who He is, how we can approach Him, how does our relationship with Him should look like, and how He expects us to live and relate with others and this world. There is no other way to know God but through the Holy Scriptures. There is no other way to come to God apart from Christ. And there is no other way to understand and believe all this apart from the work of the Holy Spirit in us.

In His kindness, God has not left us at the end of a dark maze filled with trials and dragons to see if we can -by our own merits or strength- find our way out to an everlasting life by the end of the year. No, our Heavenly Father has given us the key that opens heavy doors through the maze and a lamp that lightens up our way. God has given us the Scriptures and the Holy Spirit so that we may not remain lost in our sins, but live with assurance of eternal life. In the Word of God and in Christ we have all we need to live godly and victorious lives.

If you are a child of God, if you have repented of your sins and believed in the name of Jesus Christ, you have been called to know God. And this means that you have been saved  to have a relationship with Him (not only to get a “pass to Heaven”). Jesus came to seek and save sinners who were lost like you and me. He came so that we may be able to come to the Father in His name. Jesus, the Incarnate Son of God, came to make His dwelling among us so that we may abide in Him. What a wonderful news the gospel is!

I want to encourage you, Sister, to come to the Scriptures, to read them each day, to study them, to meditate on them, to believe everything that is written, to pray over what you read, to live by all that is written in the Holy Book. And this is not about about having more willpower to be in the Word and in prayer each day, but about having a huge desire to know God more deeper, so that we may love Him and worship Him more fully.

It is not legalism to set a time each day to be in the Word, to build the discipline. (Don’t let anyone tell you that!)  When we have a deep desire to be in communion with God, we will come every day and press on to know Him. And in our pressing on, we will find our  joy increase as we get to know deeper the One who knew us first and called us by name. Obedience and perseverance that flow from a heart that loves God are never legalism.

As you consider all this, it is important also to recognize the difference between guilt and the conviction of the Holy Spirit.

Satan and our flesh will always try to make us feel guilty about our lack of discipline, and the way we will try to get rid of the accusations they bring on us is by reading “at least a verse or a psalm each day.”  We will read and pray not because we want to know God and worship Him and obey Him more, but because we want to feel at ease with ourselves. After all, we are Christians, right? On the other hand, when the Holy Spirit convicts us of our sins -our messed up priorities, our negligence, the lies we tell ourselves for not being in the Word, etc.. He will always lead us, in His kindness, to repentance which means that true change will happen in our lives.

So as we approach the end of this year, ask yourself the right questions. If the Holy Spirit is convicting you of a sin of omission, confess it to God and embrace His forgiveness. Start praying that the Holy Spirit will draw you more to the Father and by grace through faith come to the Word (read and preached) and to the Father in prayer.

The good news is that you can start today. No need to wait until January 1st, when the race of New Year’s resolutions starts. Today is the perfect day to begin.  By faith take the Book of God and read it, He will meet you there. He will come, his going out is sure as the dawn; he will come to us as the showers, as the spring rains that water the earth.”

It is written and so we believe it is true.

Under His sun and by His grace,

Becky

P.S. Don’t know where to start? Join us on today’s reading here.

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Bible Reading Challenge

Parenting With No Guilt-Strings Attached

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We know that Christian parents must raise their children in a gospel centered way. And we also know that any gospel-center thing must carry the gospel message within and that is this:  We are sinful by nature and need to repent and believe in Christ the Savior. Only Jesus can break the bondage of sin and deliver us from its curse so that we may have abundant life.

But when it comes to raising our children in a gospel-centered way the temptation parents will many times face is do it with guilt-strings attached.

Let me explain. We do want to proclaim the gospel to our children, we want them to know what sin is, why repentance is important and what forgiveness looks like. But the temptation that many Christian parents face -especially when they want to see quick results- is to parent installing guilt in their children.

“If you really love Jesus, you would have not been disrespectful to your dad.”

“If you really, really, repented from that lie yesterday, you would not have lied to me again.”

“If when you said, “forgive me, mom” you really meant it, you would not have disobeyed me again.”

Sin is brought up in each of the examples above, yes, but the cure given will prove to be poisonous.

Many times I am surprised at how much Christian parents are afraid of God’s Grace. We are afraid that our children could abuse it (as if that was even possible!), so we try to build dams to “protect” our children from tasting it. What if they taste God’s amazing grace and then underestimate sin? What if they taste true forgiveness…maybe they will not see their future sins as grievous anymore? What if our home tastes likes grace… maybe they will not taste the horrors of sin anymore?

What is happening here? The truth is that when we act like this we act in unbelief.  We do not believe that when read the Word of God to our children, that when we speak about it as we go on our daily lives, the Holy Spirit can convict them of their own sin. In our unbelief we try to help God by bringing up the sins of our children over and over again -so that they will “have the opportunity” to search themselves to see if there has been true repentance. When we do this we imitate the Devil in what the does best, and so we become the accusers of our own children from the rising of the sun to the end of the day.

Our accusations become the seed, the soil, and the water that bring forth the rotten fruit of insecurity in our children.  How will our children grow to be assured of the Father’s love and forgiveness if we are the ones who are always doubting their motives, their tears, their repentance, their words?  How will our children taste the assurance of God’s forgiveness if we always tell them that “maybe their repentance was not from their heart”?  How will they drink from God’s fountain of grace if we keep them away from it -fearing that they will not see their sin if they come?

May God help us to bring with much joy and much confidence our children to Christ! That we will be instruments in His hand to assure them of the Father’s love! That when we teach them to pray the Lord’s Prayer, they will never doubt that their Father in Heaven hears them when they cry out to Him! God forbid that we, their own parents, become a stumbling block to them!

But you might rightly ask, but what do we do then when our children keep sinning? What we should do is exactly what the Father has taught us to do: We repent, we believe, and from the fullness of Jesus we drink grace upon grace.  We need to open the Scriptures before our children and show them what the Word says about that particular sin they are struggling with, and we tell them that in Christ there is always (always!) forgiveness for those who repent and believe. And then we assure them, from the same Holy Scriptures, of the Father’s love.

And lastly we do something that we almost always forget to do: we equip our children with the Word of God to help them fight sin in their lives. We teach them how Jesus’ way is more precious and joyful and satisfying than any sin. Because like us, they will continue to battle, and like us, they need all the counsel of God to fight and win.

Many parents are prone to point their children’s sins to them -every day and on their face, literally pointing a finger to them, to “remind” them of their shortcomings, to “encourage” them to repent quickly, and then they leave them in tears, but disarmed to fight, to win, to be assured of God’s love for them.

We must stop parenting our children with guilt-strings attached and start parenting them with grace-strings attached. How we need to teach our children the promises that we have in Christ to overcome sin. We must teach them, with our Bibles open, what are the weapons God has given us to battle our flesh, the world, and the Devil. How much our children need to hear of the power of the Word, the power of a prayer life, and the blessedness of the means of grace! How we must teach them to take the sword, which is the Word, and fight to win instead of always sending them to their rooms to do a morbid introspection of their hearts. And, oh, how much, like Paul, we need to pray with them and for them until Christ is formed in them!

Friends, unless we bring our children to Christ so that He can touch them with His grace, unless they see how precious all of Christ is to us, they will not want to come and taste and see the goodness of the Lord. Unless we stop being afraid of giving them grace in the same measure that we have received it, our generations will keep swimming in lukewarm water, never assured of the Father’s love for them.

May our children hear us say with much assurance and joy when they ask for forgiveness, “I too received mercy when I acted in my unbelief. And just like the grace of our Lord overflowed for me with the faith and love that are in Jesus Christ, it now flows for you. Look not to your own heart, my child, but look up to Jesus! He is the author and perfecter of our faith. Come,come with me, let us run and bathe in the ocean of God’s amazing grace!”

Under His sun and by His grace,

Becky

 

The Merciful Hand of the Lord

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The disciples, with their belly still filled with the bread and fish they had eaten among the five thousand, got into a boat. Jesus would meet them on the other side. No doubt the disciples were talking about the miracle they had just witnessed. Five loaves of bread and two fish for more than five thousand people! And they got to pass it around among the hungry! And, Oh, how it tasted… like heaven for sure!  The conversation was lively until darkness came. The waves roared and hit them so strong that their laughter was washed away.  The winds were against them and as they clung to their boat they let their peace go.

Jesus, the Incarnate Word of God, who is “mightier than the waves of the sea, and the thunder of many waters,” (1) came to them, walking on the sea. They had read the book of Job, they knew that only God can tread on the waves of the sea (2). So, when they saw him they were not only terrified, but very terrified. (3) “It is a ghost!” they cried out.

The waves had not ceased to hit them. The winds kept lifting the waves higher. And Jesus was not asleep. He was not in the boat. He was walking on water watching the scene and approaching it slowly. This time, however, He did not speak to the waves and the winds, but to His men:”Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid!”(4)  His voice had to be louder than the roaring of the winds for them to hear Him.

Peter put his hands around his mouth and yelled through the storm, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.” And Jesus said, “Come.” So Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water and came to Jesus. (5)

And there he was, a man walking on the Word of God. Had anyone seen such a faith before? Such an obedience? Not a moment to hesitate. Just one word was enough for Peter. But all of a sudden his fears were more real than Jesus’s Spoken Word, and being afraid he started to sink.

But we must the stop the story here for a minute. Why, you say? Because we are -again- judging Peter too hard and too soon. (“Oh, Peter, just keep your eyes on Jesus, take him at His Word! Stop looking at the circumstances around you. You know better, Peter!”)

Put that Bible-Story narrative aside and keep reading. The big lesson is coming.

When Peter “saw the wind, he was afraid, and beginning to sink he cried out, “Lord, save me.”(6)
Who among us has never been afraid? Who never looks at the winds and the waves and trembles? Who among us hasn’t taken one step of obedience (because that is what steps of faith actually are, right?) and then starts sinking just thinking about taking the next?

We know the answer, we all are like Peter that way. Imitating Peter in that is not hard, it comes pretty natural for us. We all freak out and are quick to doubt the Word of the Lord, the Word that the Almighty speaks to us in the midst of the storm.

But we must learn to imitate Peter in the next thing he does, or we will sink.
As Peter began to sink, as his faith began to fail, he didn’t get mad at God for commanding him to come to Him (Why did you ask me to come if you knew I would sink, God?). Peter didn’t start making excuses. He didn’t even try to save himself. He knew, as he was starting to drown, what he had to do. Most of his faith had sank to the bottom of the ocean. He was thinking of nothing but the storm, that was all he could see now, but in his darkness, he found enough faith in his heart to cry out, “Lord, save me!” And that was enough.

“Jesus immediately reached out his hand and took hold of him, saying to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?”(7)

Immediately Jesus took hold of Peter. Jesus had called him to come, he would not let him drown.

When Peter cried to the Lord the first time, Jesus heard his loud voice through the storm and answered him. This time, Peter’s voice was a faint and desperate cry, but it didn’t make a difference in the ears of the Lord. He heard him again, and again answered him.

In Jesus’ reproof, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?”  there is comfort for us. He knows that our faith weavers, that it is small, and yet He still comes when we call on to Him. What a comfort to know that Jesus knows that our faith is small and our weaknesses are big! Because He knows our frame and is compassionate toward us, He is interceding for you and me even now.(8)

And when they got into the boat, the wind ceased. And those in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.”(9)

Sometimes this happens. Well, actually many times this is the way things happen: The Lord will carry us to safety only after we have been close to seeing our end, thinking that we would for sure drown. Many times he calms the winds and the waves only after we stop having faith in our own faith to keep obeying.

When the only prayer we can mutter is, “Lord, save me!”  we must remember that our Savior is already there, closer than we think, ready to take us to a safe place in His arms.

The disciples saw the whole scene. And we know that in God’s story no one gets the role of spectator, so their part came and they did the right thing, “they worshiped Jesus, saying “Truly you are the Son of God.”

We might be going through something similar than what Peter went through in this story. Friends and family are watching us. But you know what? It is not our super strong faith that will draw them to fall on their knees before Jesus, no, it is the mercy and goodness of the Lord that will draw them to their knees.

It is not about trying to impress others with our radical obedience, our big faith that takes us to walk on water. It is neither about our weaknesses or our lack of faith when storms come. It is always about the faithfulness and goodness of our God who calls us to obey him and sustains us as we learn to obey Him.

Peter, who almost drowned, years later wrote:

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.”(10)

He learned the lesson well so that we can learn it too. May our faith, big or small, after being tested be found to result in praise and glory and honor for Jesus.

Under His sun and by His grace,

Becky

 

(1) Psalm 93
(2) Job 9
(3) Mt. 14:26 ESV
(4) Mt. 14:28 ESV
(5) Mt. 14: 28-33 ESV
(6) ibid
(7) ibid
(8) Hebrews 4 and 11
(9) Mt. 14:32-33
(10) 1 Peter 1:3-9 ESV

 

A Deeper Cure for the Brokenhearted

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We all have heard the saying, “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.” And we all nod because it is true.

But how can we be kind and help those around us who are facing hard battles?

How we answer to this question is important, but more important is how we act on the answer we give.

In a day in which relativism has crept into our Christian thinking more that we would want to admit, it is important to keep coming back to the Scriptures, and dig in there to prove what is true and act on that. It is important to remind ourselves each day  that the only way to effectively help someone (including ourselves!) who is fighting a battle against her own flesh, thoughts, and emotions is to give them the hope that is only found in Christ.

If you are a Christian woman I am sure you would agree with the statement above. Yes, yes, we all say, Christ is the answer. Solus Christus. From beginning to end, from top to bottom, in and out, always: Christ alone.

But the way we flesh out this answer is another different thing.

The world has many options to offer us as a cure for the pain that the battles we face bring to us. The cabinet of solutions to our anxiety, fear, depression (depression in teens, depression in postpartum women, depression in mid-age women, depression when we get our period, and depression when our periods cease), bad moods, moods that swing and moods that hurt others include breathing exercises, yoga poses, candlelight, silence retreats, quiet spaces, eat-this-food but this-food-not regimes, and all sorts of oils applied in all sorts of ways.

Why do many Christian women feel so tempted to open this cabinet and take one or two of these cures to offer to their hurting friend when we all have agreed to believe that the more potent, the true and deeper cure to our pain is found in Christ alone?

Friends, the way to be kind to those fighting a hard battle is to open the Word in front of them and give them true hope. Hope anchored in that which is not perishable, hope anchored in the words breathed out by God.

One way to see if we actually believe what we say is to listen to the words we say,  and pay attention to the solutions we think of first.

If my friend is struggling with mood swings, what is the first thing I think of? “Oh, I am going to recommend to her this breathing exercise, this oil, this ________” Or,  “Oh, I am going to message her every morning a verse of the Scripture to remind her that in Christ self-dominion is possible, that in Christ we are not slaves to our hormones. That because of the finished work of Christ we have been promised victory over our flesh.”

Or what if you meet a person who is not a believer and she shares with you all about her battles and emotional pain she is going through, what is the first thing you do? Recommend her this new diet, this new oil, this new ________? Or since you know that the heart of the problem needs a deeper solution you share the gospel with her?

We must fear the Lord and recognize that when we offer those hurting a cure for their emotional and spiritual pain outside the gospel, we are offering them something that might actually draw them away from God and the true hope which is found in Him.

Why would they need Christ to be joyful if they can find joy in exercising and burning their pain away at the gym?

Why would they need the Gospel to fight against mood changes if they can stop eating this and start eating that to find hormonal balance?

Why would they need to read and pray and mediate on the Word of God if they can cope with their fears and anxieties with an oil?

Our Creator, the One who made us, who knows each one of our cells and molecules and  dancing hormones, who knows the depth of our thoughts and the marrow of our souls, the One who knows the number of our hairs and has collected each one of our tears in a bottle, the One who doesn’t sleep and sees us tossing around at midnight and intercedes for us. The Almighty God who has called us by name and has become our Redeemer, has spoken words to heal our deepest hurts and satisfy our longings and give us life and hope that never fades.

In Isaiah there is a wonderful verse (50:4) that points us to Christ, and tells us that He will have words to sustain those who are weary.  The Prophet continues, and in different places he keeps pointing us to Jesus, our comforter. It is only the Lord who can make the wilderness like Eden and the desert like the gardens of God. He alone can bring joy and gladness and a heart full of thanksgiving to the one whose heart is now hard and dry and bitter (51:3). Only in Jesus’ words can we find everlasting joy and gladness because His words are our medicine (Is. 51:11, Prov 4:20-22).

Many of our anxious thoughts and fears are rooted in our sinful thoughts and habits, so only God’s forgiveness will set us free and bring true healing to our hearts. Nothing else will. Many things can apparently cover the symptoms for a season, but the pain, the heaviness of spirit, the discontentment, will always come back until we fall on our knees and repent and believe.

David knew this. He said,

“Bless the Lord, O my soul,
and forget not all his benefits,
who forgives all your iniquity,
who heals all your diseases,
who redeems your life from the pit,
who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy,
who satisfies you with good
so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s”

(Psalm 103 ESV)

Nothing else. Just the goodness of the Lord and His Words coming like the rain will heal our weary souls and renew our strength.

And this other verse from Psalm 119 is encouraging too,

“I am severely afflicted,
give me life, O Lord, according to your word!” (v.107 ESV)

Can you imagine the pain the Psalmist was experiencing at the time he wrote this? And where does he turn for help? When he was severely afflicted, he knew better than to try to look for help in vain things for help, he turned to God and God alone. How we all need to believe in the Word in such a way that we would immediately turn to it when our hearts are in sorrow.

Friends, “the steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning, His faithfulness is great” (Lam.3)  We can come, dearest Sisters, to the Father in the name of Jesus and say, “The Lord is my portion, therefore I will hope in Him.” (Lam 3). If we place our hope in anything else than the finished work of Christ, the Lord himself will shatter it to pieces because He is a jealous God who wants His children to put their hope in Him alone.

Along with the Psalms, the epistle of 1 Peter is a wonderful read to help us build our hope in God. Consider these verses, for example (and then go read the whole epistle)  (emphasis mine):

“Blessed be the Lord and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to His great mercy He has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ…”

“Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.”

“He [Jesus] was  foreknown before the foundation of the world but was made manifest in the last times for the sake of you who through him are believers in God, who raised him from the dead and gave him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God.”

Let’s pray that the Lord will enlighten the eyes of our hearts that we may be able to see, to know what is the hope to which He has called us, and what are the riches of his glorious inheritance, and what is the immeasurable power toward us who believe in Him… (Ephesians 1: 15-23)

How we also need to understand the importance of praying earnestly for one another when we go through different trials. How we need to pray that the Lord will give us and our brothers and sisters spiritual strength to persevere,  and how we need to remind each other that “God is able to do far more abundantly than all we ask or think, according to the power at work with us.” (Eph 3:20-21)

Do we really believe that the Spirit can help us in our weaknesses? Do we believe with our flesh and blood that God who did not spare His own Son, but gave him up for us all,  will also give us graciously with Jesus all things we need? (see Romans 8)

May we grow in our faith to a point in which it can be said of us what was said of Abraham,  in hope she believed against hope, she saw her weak body, and yet her faith did not weaken. No unbelief made her waver concerning the promises of God she knew well because she was in the Word always. She saw her weakness but her faith grew stronger because in all she did she gave glory to God and did not let unbelief take root in her heart. She was always convinced that God was able to do what He had promised. (Read Romans 5:13-25)

The only true safe place for us to be is before the throne of the Father in the name of Jesus. There we will always find “mercy and grace to help in time of need.” (Heb. 4:14-16)

Under His sun and by grace,

Becky

A More Potent Way than the Oily One

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I am reading this book, Letters from Spartanburg, which is a collection of letters that Arthur W. Pink penned to a dear friend when he was writing his very important book, The Sovereignty of God. I have found some really fascinating insights in this book on different subjects. Last night, for example, I came across the letter in which Pink is telling his friend how he disagrees with the author of the book they are currently reading and discussing together, and writes, “I feel like that this book will call for a brief (article) reply… A reply is called for in the interest of truth.”

So, just like Pink here, I think that another article about the oily business is pertinent, for the sake of truth.

On my first post, No Other Gospel: Why Oils Are Not for You, I wrote about the heart of the problem: the whole world of oils is becoming a false religion that encourages people to use oils to deal with issues that in the Scripture we clearly see we are to deal not with oils, but by the power of the Holy Spirit, through the Word of God and the grace that we have in Christ to mortify sins that will never die if we apply particular oils to our wrists.

Then I wrote a follow-up post, Slippery and Oily Slopes. In this one I veered a bit from my original post, not because I was shying away from what I wrote in the first one and tried to soften my view. No, if you read it again, you will see that I started it explaining that I was going to address some questions that had been raised.

On this second article I also  focused on the danger of not seeing that the lady who is selling you that one oil, belongs to a company that has core values, core principles, and a mission, a company that rewards her (with more money) if you buy three more oils, and then rewards her even more if you also become a sales lady.

I read some comments of people disagreeing with me here saying that we would not agree either with the vision, mission, and purpose of most of the companies from whom we buy our stuff, and yet we still get our lattes from them. True. The difference here is that when I but a latte from them, I am not being asked to embrace their vision, mission, and purpose. I am only asked to handle my  beverage with care because it is hot. And, they don’t ask me to start selling lattes to others, which I appreciate.

The most renown companies that are marketing oils for physical, emotional, and spiritual health, are structured as multilevel companies. They are shaped like pyramids. And if you pour gallons of oil on the side of a pyramid and try to walk carefully on it, you will notice that it is almost impossible to get a hold of the rails and there are no stoppers to be found around.  You buy one oil, and the company has trained these sales ladies to sell you the next oil, and then the next, and then they will  proceed to warn you of the toxic ways you are eating and doing laundry, which means that you will need to buy more oils, and then you are in. Without giving much thought, you are, all of a sudden, part of the community, part of the company. And when you are part of the company, you will have, by necessary consequence, to embrace the company’s vision, mission, and purpose.

So that is why it does matter -a lot- that you to consider all these things before saying yes to going on a hike on the oily pyramid.

Now we are on this third post that you owe to A.W. Pink. And as in my previous post, I will address some other concerns that have been raised by dear Friends and thoughtful readers. And then give you some more food for thought.

In my previous posts I was careful to include many links to the statements and product descriptions that the company from whom most of the people I know, who are in the business of oils, belong.  I encourage you to click on those and read and judge for yourself if I am misreading or misrepresenting what is written there.

One more concern that has been raised is that by writing about this, I am adding one more reason to cause unnecessary division among the church; that maybe those who are not using oils will now feel more righteous than the ones who do, and will start looking down on them. Well, the answer is that if that is that is the case,  then those who feel more holy because they never ever use oils like the others, will have to deal with that sin themselves. And the only way to deal with any kind of sin is repenting and believing on Christ’s perfect work.

Another question I have received: Do you have oils in your house? Yes, I do,  I have bought a few of them on different stores (never through people) because I love their smells, but have never let the sales lady explain to me what they are for. I always warn her, if you try to explain what benefits I will get if I use this oil, I will not buy it. They never know what to do with that.

I want to give you one more piece of meat to think and pray about. I want you, as a Christian, to consider that there is a more potent way to give your soul emotional and spiritual support than the way that the oils offer.

If you have read all your Bible you have noticed that the root of all kinds of sin is unbelief. Unbelief has different ways to manifest itself. It can show up dressed up like fear, anger, bitterness, ingratitude, etc. And unbelief likes to talk to us and make us doubt what God has said. For example, envy will say something like, “I don’t believe that what I have and where I am is God’s lot for me, so I envy your life.”

Oils offer you a way to deal with these bad emotions (which in reality are manifestations of the sin of unbelief that we all struggle with), and the company says  that there is scientific evidence to confirm that their oils will indeed help you and give you great support to deal with those bad emotions or feelings. But, here is what I want you to think and pray about, Christian Friend: why use oils when there is a more potent and sure way to deal with these sins (manifested through our emotions)? We don’t have to re-invent a new way, or a better way when the Bible is clear, “Put to death therefore what is earthly in you” (Please read Colossians 3, a super important passage here) and, “…put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires.” (Rom. 13:14), and  this, “..do not be anxious about anything, but let your requests be known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding will guard your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Paul to the Philippians)

Unbelief says,  “No, what those passages say cannot be enough. I must do something else.” So we try to add all sorts of other things, including oils that promise emotional and spiritual support, to help God deal with these bad attitudes in us, which at the root are sinful habits, sinful inclinations from our old nature. Unbelief will try to convince us that prayer cannot possible be enough to stop worrying and stop being anxious. What will we do then? Whom will we obey?

So, Friend, please, I want today to encourage you to choose the most potent and sure way. Choose God’s way to deal with fear, anxiety, anger, envy, ingratitude, discontent. Put to death these sins; by the grace of God it is possible, and put on Christ. His work on the cross is finished and is potent. By His blood we have been redeemed and have been made free. Let us live then like people who have been set free, and let us not put ourselves under the yoke of something that promises what only God can give. Do not believe the words of Unbelief, but trust the Lord!

One last thought. In Hebrews 3 (please consider reading Hebrews today) we read the strong admonition, “Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God. But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called “today,” that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin...· (emphasis mine).

I emphasized two things in the passage above that are related among them: unbelief and deceitfulness of sin. See the connection? Unbelief is many times manifested in ways that are deceitful, hard to discern, hard to see. Unbelief’s natural response will always be, “No, that cannot be true. I am not being deceived.”  So be suspicious of yourself when you hear those words playing in your mind.

Now about the exhorting part in the Hebrews passage. Yikes. That is a hard one, right? For example, try exhorting others to consider if the whole philosophy behind the oil movement is deceptive. Hard thing to do right? Now add to that one more layer of complexity: this oil thing is an important means of financial gain for many. To see how difficult things can get when money is involved read Acts 19:21-41

Thanks for reading, dear Friends. Praying that the Lord will direct our hearts to the love of God and the steadfastness of Christ. (2 Thess. 3:5)

Under His sun and by His grace,

Becky

Slippery and Oily Slopes

selective focus photo of bottle with cork lid

Photo by Mareefe on Pexels.com

I knew this one was a hard issue to address on a blog post, and  since I got some valid questions from dear friends, I want to write one more post on this. As you can already see, it will be impossible to address all the “But what about this …?” questions here, and I am learning to be OK with that. Isn’t that one of the main reasons that God has placed us in a local church? Bring your questions and concerns to your husband, your Pastor and/or elders.  And most of all ask them all the questions you may have with a heart totally open to admit that maybe they are seeing something you are not, and prayerfully bring those things that you might need to change before your God.

Many asked what about oils to cure simple things, like a headache, nausea, coughing. Aren’t the oils doing basically the same thing as an Advil? Aren’t those cases faithful ways to put the oils to use?

I would say yes, they might work for those things, and there is no problem at all with that. In my medicine cabinet, we have, for example, arnica ointment as well as Voltaren cream. We have medicine to relief coughing and yes, we do have a spray with some oils that help us breath better when we have a cough spam. The problem is not with the oil itself, but with the way many are putting all their trust in them, not only to help heal a sinusitis, but to help with attitudes and problems that the Bible clearly tells us find their root in our sinful nature  that needs to be mortified; or to help heal deep emotional and spiritual wounds that only our Father, through the Word of God applied by the Holy Spirit to us, can heal.

But if you carefully read my post, that was not the point I tried to address. If we had people in our churches selling an oil to make your home smell delicious, and a peppermint oil to help pregnant women deal with nausea, we will not need to make a big deal out of this. See, some  prefer to buy their soaps at Walmart and some others prefer the organic ones found at the Farmers market  (that’s me). Some women like to burn any kind of candle in their home, some others prefer the ones made with natural ingredients  because they claim that the smell is better and the candles last longer (that’s me again). Some women prefer not wear perfume, others prefer to wear the same perfume for over 15 years (yep, that’s me). But this issue is not a matter of simple preferences, the problem is not that of using an oil to give your feet a good rub after a long day, the issue is clearly what that the industry which makes and sells these oils is saying about what their goal is and the way many women are choosing not to see it and the way many other women are choosing to embrace it. This company doesn’t really want you to use their lavender oil to make your sheets smell delicious, what they really want is to take over your whole lifestyle (read under “Our Purpose”).

Look, for example,  at this main industry’s mission:  “We honor our stewardship to champion nature’s living energy, essential oils, by fostering a community of healing and discovery while inspiring individuals to wellness, purpose, and abundance.”

See that? They don’t want you to be using the peppermint oil in isolation; part of their mission is to make sure you become part of them, part of their mission. They are openly telling us that they want their oils and philosophy of life to reach to your home, my home, your neighbor’s home. They also want to inspire you not only to wellness, but to purpose (a purpose they have defined and chosen and which clearly excludes God) and abundance (because like those preaching the prosperity gospel, your abundance quickly becomes their abundance).   They clearly want you to know that “[They] are committed to providing pure, powerful products for every family and lifestyle, all infused with the life-changing benefits of our essential oils.(emphasis mine) Their mission is not a secret.

It is strange to me that many choose to believe the promises these oils offer (physical, emotional and spiritual benefits), but at the same time choose to deny the unbiblical principles that the company stands on or try to detach the products they sell from the descriptions the makers provide about them.

Many will say, “But wait, I am not into that. It is possible for me to sell these products, for example, as a Christian woman committed to Biblical principles.”

The problem is that they are trying to do the impossible. The company behind them won’t let them do that because they are not ashamed of letting us know on what ground they are standing. It is as if I were trying to sell you a chocolate beet ice-cream promising that no beet will go in there. Would you buy it?

Or what about this other example. Let’s say that there is a Classical school five minutes away from where you live, which is known in the whole country for its academical achievements, and it also happens to cost  only 100 dlls per year, per family.  Yay! So you decide to go check it out, of course. Once you get there you see that the only problem is that the teachers are Buddhist monks. You are a bit concerned, and ask the lady who is giving you the tour of the school (who makes money for each student who enrolls) about all this and she promises that you can rest assured that they will never try to push their worldview on your children… (Though you can read their statement of faith, their mission and their purpose printed with big letters on their brochure). Would you enroll your children there?

So this is why I believe that the problem we have here is other than just a matter of different opinions and preferences. It runs deeper, but thanks be to God, the company who makes these oils has put big and clear signposts all over the slippery oily slopes for us to read where they are heading (and where they are leading their consumers).

Some other quick questions that I’ve received (I am not necessarily copying them verbatim) and some quick, broad answers:

Q: Why are you worried about this issue more than others? Anything can become an idol like oils, coffee after a bad night of sleep, a glass of wine at the end of a long day, etc.

A: Because many of the women in my life, which I dearly love, are not falling into those other ditches, but into this one.

Q: So you are saying that there is no place for true medicine if someone is clinical depressed? I mean, that is what I’m hearing you say in your post.

A: Please read my post again. And no, I am not saying that. I have encouraged friends to go see the doctor and take medicine for mental issues; and I am sure that many women would benefit from visiting their doctor, maybe they do have some hormonal imbalance that needs to be treated by an specialist.

Q: Have you read other articles that bring a balanced point of view to the whole thing?

A: No, I have not, and probably will not. I have read the statements of the company that makes and markets these oils,  I don’t think I need to read the way other people are choosing to reinterpret these.

Friends, my purpose with all this is to encourage you to pay attention to the words, the rhetoric, the testimonies of those who promote these oils. Dig in deeper before walking in deeper.

But most of all, see where your heart is in all this. Sit down and read carefully what the company is really offering you and prayerfully consider, with your husband if you are married, if this is what your family should do. Talk to your pastor, to your elders, and be willing to submit to each other. (Wives, if your husband is uneasy about these, drop the issue, don’t try to push this further. This is a place where submission to your husband might be required and God will bless you.)

Let us pray, Friends, and pray earnestly for each other, that we may not grow weary of practicing discernment in all things (Hebrews 5:14), may we all remember that we all can slip, that we all can fall.

And finally, may we all make Paul’s and the Psalmist’s  prayers our very own:

“..it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.” Paul (Phil. 1: 9-10)

“Teach me good discernment and knowledge, For I believe in Your commandments.” (Psalm 119:66)

Under His sun and by His grace,

Becky

Latest post on the series: A More Potent Way that Oily One