Christianity, Devotionals

Accepting Christ…or Receiving Christ–What’s the Difference?

man holding sheep statuette

We all have prayed that our friends and family members will make a sincere profession of faith in Christ, that they will “accept Jesus” as their Savior and Lord. Occasionally I hear about someone’s having prayed to “accept Christ” and later learn that the person fell away. I’m quite sure, according to Scripture, such a person was not authentically saved to begin with, and I think that we Christians may be contributing to that sad fact without realizing it. I believe the Lord is challenging me to examine some Christianese we speak in the light of Scripture. Do we really mean what we are saying, or have the words we use become a habit or a formula that may be misleading?

For example, we often use the phrase “accept Jesus Christ.” I researched the words “accept,” “accepting,” and “accepted” in Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance, and nowhere does the Bible use the word “accept” in that way– accepting Christ. On the contrary, the word is almost exclusively used in the Old Testament to describe what God did when a Jew brought an offering to the LORD. If it was an animal without spot or blemish, the Scriptures say the offering would be accepted by the LORD. If the animal were imperfect in any way, God would not accept the person’s offering. I’m no Greek or Hebrew scholar, but nowhere in the entire English King James Version is there a single verse that says that we are to accept Jesus

God is the “acceptor.” We have no standing to accept Him. God doesn’t need us to accept Him. We need Him to accept us. Problem is–we’re unacceptable as we are.

bible book business christian

Oh, you may be thinking, You’re just quibbling over words. What difference does it make? Well, words are containers of thought. If we use the wrong words to talk about a thing long enough, it will make us think wrong thoughts. It could make a huge difference in the way we present the gospel to the lost, and whether they truly understand salvation.

Under the New Testament we no longer bring animal sacrifices, but we still must be acceptable to God to be saved. Before our salvation we were lost sinners –spotted and blemished lambs, totally unsuitable as an offering to Him. Only the offering of Jesus, the perfect Lamb, was acceptable to God the Father. We were hopelessly helpless to be acceptable to Him outside of Christ. That is why Christ is the ONLY WAY. That is why a person’s being hid “in Christ” is  his only hope of being acceptable or accepted. We believers should know that. However, that’s not the way salvation is often presented in mainstream evangelical Christianity. I don’t think the unsaved are led to really grasp the perilous nature of their situation.

For example, you may have seen the illustration of how a person can accept Jesus as his Savior where a preacher takes some object, usually a pen, from his pocket and extends it toward a person as a gift. The preacher says that in order to receive the gift of God, all you must do is reach out and accept the gift. There’s the word again. It’s free and easy. Piece of cake. I have used that illustration myself. Now I think it is so misleading.

We American are always suspicious of a free gift…

” …and that’s not all. If you call within the next ten minutes, you will receive a second slicer-dicer absolutely FREE. You only have to pay a separate fee.”

Twenty-first century Americans are cynical. They don’t want a slicer/dicer. They don’t want a ball-point pen. When we present the Gospel that way, it seems cheap, like a cheesy commercial. Lost folks will not appreciate or understand their desperate position and the gravity of their future without God’s intervention. That sort of shallow presentation probably will not produce a heart change at all. And unless God changes their hearts, they will be swallowed up by the evil world, and forever lost. We must not short-circuit God’s process.

So, how can changing one single word help produce a heart change? Please consider the following:

  •     “Accept” gives the illusion of salvation’s being something totally within our power, our choice to do. Nothing supernatural required.
  •    “Receive” says we acknowledge and surrender to God’s Power and His grace  for it to happen. Totally supernatural.

Jesus told us “Ask, that ye may receive.”  We are in a submissive position when we “ask.” God is the authority, we are not. We are never told to accept Him. We have no authority to “accept Jesus.” Why, the very thought becomes ludicrous, the epitome of arrogance.

We approach Jesus with a humble, penitent heart, asking Him to forgive us and to please come into our hearts, save our souls. He will know if our prayer is honest, and He has promised to respond to such an honest prayer. He will come in, and we will gratefully “receive” Him when He does.

What happens next will be the subject of my next post.

I challenge us to listen for those two words–“accept” and “receive”–in our daily conversations and to pray for discernment as to which word is relevant.

 

Journey to Publication, The Writing Life, Uncategorized

Journey to Publication

 

20181027_074001.jpg
Lake Yale Word Weaver’s Retreat – 2018

Working on St. Anne’s

St. Anne’s is the working title of my novel. I brought my manuscript with me to the Word Weavers’ Retreat this past weekend. This Retreat was not a retreat in the sense of getting away from it all. This was more like getting serious about it all. Michelle Medlock Adams, a marvelous speaker, inspired us to not lose heart, to keep pressing on, to keep our priorities in order. However, most of the time was dedicated to what Word Weavers do, critiquing one another’s work.

I found the weekend both enlightening and confusing.

Enlightening: I learned about mechanics–those parts of writing for publication which are cast in concrete–things like layout rules, the correct use of ellipses and Em Dashes,  which font is acceptable, rules for the use of italics.  All of this was quite helpful.

Confusing: God comforted me, reminding me that critiques are given by human beings with often conflicting personal preferences. For example, I written the first page of St. Anne’s by jumping right into the action, hoping to hook the reader. One critiquing person said I needed to begin my story describing the setting so the reader could formulate a scene in his mind  before getting into the action. So, I rewrote the opening for another review of the same passage. This time I was told, by a new critiquing person, that I should not start out with detailed setting information because most readers would prefer to jump right in to the action.

Hmm.

So, the Lord taught me that in a work of fiction, some people like narrative description, and other people like action. It’s a matter of preference. I will lose some people if I don’t begin with action; others will close the book if I don’t give them a setting first. People are different, and I won’t be able to please them all. I need to do what’s right for my God-given “voice,” and take the critique for what it is–one person’s opinion.

I learned a second thing that confused and surprised me.  It is now fashionable to write sentence fragments punctuated as sentences. As a former English teacher and a mere novice to publishing in this millennium, I was saddened. It was like witnessing the end of literature as I have known it. Now I’m not talking about writing dialog. Dialog is different. I get that. For dialog to sound realistic, it probably should be in short bites, like people talk. However, modern writers are encouraged to write narrative passages that way too.  It smacks more of text messaging than novel-writing to me. This weekend I read lots of unpublished manuscripts wherein the writer often wrote so-called sentences using no verbs.

At all.

Period.

20181029_144121.jpg

C.S. Lewis’ Mere Christianity. 

I guess my blessed reassurance from the Lord applies here too. People have different tastes. My tastes are more old-fashioned.

I don’t think I will embrace this radical change easily. Maybe I’m too old to change?

The books I like to read are old-fashioned. Seldom do I encounter fragments in the writings of Rosamunde Pilcher or C.S. Lewis, my favorites.

Will my tastes change?

I hope not.

Maybe.

 

Alaska, Devotionals

THE FINAL DAYS OF AN ALASKAN SUMMER – PART ONE

Alaska worked wonders again this summer. We go there to decompress …

20170822_151716.jpg

to escape the world …

20170825_092032.jpg

to stretch wide in the vastness of the land …

…. and to work with our hands.

 

20180708_06412620180831_092147

.

DECOMPRESSING:

The World is too much with us in the Florida city where we live for eight months. We go to Alaska four months to decompress. The damp air is pure and deliciously fragrant with spruce, moss, and wildflowers. Merely walking around the property is restorative, refreshing the soul. Every wildflower declares the glory of  my Creator who is intimately aware of my every step, every thought, every breath. He created this blossom for me to enjoy today. 

Consider the lilies of the field. They toil not, neither do they spin. Yet Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.”       JESUS

 20180719_142540

 

Now the days are shorter, the mornings noticeably cooler, and the birch trees dance against the cobalt sky. Winds toss these tall branches with a distinctive rustling sound, reminding me of Jesus’ words–

The wind bloweth where it willeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but can’st not tell whence it cometh or whither it goeth. So is every one who is born of the Spirit.”

20180512_102938_002.jpg

Do you experience the God you cannot see, but you can hear, and feel?

 

This Alaska Summer, Lord,

You provided yet again …

unfettered Time…

on Your vast Land … 

rejoicing in Your Presence…

 knowing Your Spirit like the wind …

  invisible but palpable …

   moving as You send…

 

Lord, I’m so grateful!

Amen

 

Alaska

MOOSE-TIME IN ALASKA

This year we have been richly blessed with moose visits. One day we had seven! I was working in my greenhouse when this yearling came sauntering by with his sibling and his mama Matilda. This is a “baby” moose about one year old.

20180517_075450

Matilda returned a couple of weeks later with her new calves.  We named them Mocha and Marvin. Matilda looked scruffy with scars and partial shedding of last winter’s coat. Before a moose gives birth, she chases away her yearlings so her newborns will not be hurt by them.  Matilda’s yearlings still appear alone on our property from time to time, but not with their mom.  20180619_152245

The other morning I was inside the cabin when a different yearling strolled through the yard and began to investigate my greenhouse which door I had failed to close the night before.

20180706_062314

He poked his nose inside the doorway, so I knocked on my window to scare him off.  If he had gone inside, I’m sure he would have destroyed the place trying to get out.

20180706_062326.jpg

So, we love our moose! Last month while it was rainy and cold, I painted a picture of a couple to decorate our wall…20180614_181703

… and now I am working on a wood-burned moose sign to hang on the front porch. This is a fun project. We have named our cabin “Spruce Moose” for obvious reasons.

20180708_064126

I’ll finish burning in a few more spruce trees, varnish it, and hang it by the front door.

We have less than two months remaining here in Alaska before we return to Florida. Tom still has lots of fish to catch, I still have more projects to work on, and lots of writing to do, so I’ll close for now.

Thank you for following.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Alaska

Alaska – June in Soldotna

Summer finally arrived here in Soldotna last week. It’s been in the 60’s for a few afternoons, which feels like summer! The sun is hot here, and the long days are warming the earth.

SUNSHINE!

Tomorrow the sun will rise here at 4:48 AM and it will set at 11:33 PM. Our days will continue to lengthen until June 21, which is the longest day (19 hours, 3 minutes, and 21 seconds). In June it never gets very dark in Soldotna. After the sun sets on the northwestern horizon, the sky remains a twilight gray while the sun traces a little hidden crescent-smile behind the north pole, peeping back up in the northeast only some four to five hours later. Here, a constant twilight glow remains on the horizon.

dawn nature sunset dark

In Soldotna, we don’t experience the Midnight Sun as do people north of the Arctic Circle. Within the Arctic Circle, at least a portion of the sun is visible from June 12 until July 1. The Arctic Circle lies at 66 degrees N. latitude which, in Alaska, is 198 miles north of Fairbanks. Since Fairbanks is pretty much in the center of Alaska, a LOT of Alaska sees the sun for some 19 days straight! (There are some pretty incredible pictures of the Midnight Sun online which I recommend you “google”.)

Alaska-born people revel in these almost endless days, playing outside long after this Florida girl has pulled the blackout shades and gone to bed. They fish, hike, swim (even in these frigid waters), bike, enjoy outdoor festivals, and just hang out … trying to squeeze the last bit of sunshine from the day, because winters here are LONG!

WILDFLOWERS:

Last week , I planted a wildflower garden beside the house. The sun is so hot, and the air is so dry, I must water several times a day to keep the seeds moist enough to sprout. However, I am not without wildflowers even now.

This year we came early in the spring, so I’m seeing early wildflowers for the first time right here on our property. Most of these I had to look up in my wildflower book because they are all SO different from the Florida wildflowers .

20180612_183431.jpg

The Bog Blueberry’s blossoms are very tiny. They produce sweet round berries which are a favorite for the bears before the moose babies come.

20180610_170441.jpg

This Dwarf Dogwood’s blossom looks so much like the Dogwood trees’ blossom in Georgia of my childhood.

Labrador Tea grows in alpine slopes in South-Central Alaska. They say you can make tea from the leaves for a diuretic, but it can also be poisonous, so…naah!

20180610_170257.jpg

20180614_082616.jpg

Also called “Prickly Rose,” because the stems are totally covered with tiny thorns, this flower has a sweeter rose fragrance than our hybrid roses.

The petals are used to make jelly or tea, and the “hip” or fruit is used for jellies and in baked goods

20180612_183236.jpg

The Starflower doesn’t seem to have any practical use. It’s just delicate and beautiful to look at.

20180610_163554.jpg

These Lupines are prolific along roadsides in poor sunny soil. This one was alongside my driveway, and is just beginning its bloom. It will grow to be about 16 inches tall, but this one is still about 8 inches.

Lupines are very poisonous, especially the seeds.

20180610_171039.jpg

The Alpine Forget-Me-Not is my favorite! The blooms are so tiny, but so brilliantly blue and lavender. It is the Alaska State Flower which I found curious. The tiniest flower for the biggest state!

If you are interested in further photographs of wildflowers in Alaska, I hope you naturalists will let me know. It seems like a new variety appears every day or so.

God bless this good earth!

Devotionals

Free Indeed

When Jesus saved me, soon He began revealing an amazing truth to me: I do not have to sin any more. I am free from sin. That is not to say that I am free of sin, because sometimes I forget this amazing truth. I can still get distracted by my old nature, defend my personal rights, let myself become offended and hurt. Occasionally I still get angry. I still can sin, but now I am free from its dominion.

Before salvation I did not have a choice. I was a sinner! I often became angry when I thought someone had trampled on my personal rights, didn’t give me the respect I thought deserved, maybe ruined my possessions, stole from me, lied to me, were unfaithful to me, spread hurtful rumors about me, cut me off in traffic… yeah, pretty much anything. I would react with anger and I feel, “I have a right to get angry when people do these things! It’s just not fair! What did I do to deserve this?

human fist

However, at salvation, when Jesus’ Spirit entered my soul, He began to talk to me. He non-verbally said something like, “Well, are you enjoying your little angry fit — your little pity party?”

I responded, “No, but did you see what they did to me, how they hurt me? It was so unfair!

Jesus’ still, small voice said, “Yes, I saw it all, and I completely understand. Do you remember what they did to me? How they hurt me? It was so unfair!”

man kneeling in front of cross

“Oh, yes, Jesus. That was truly unfair what they did to you!”

“So, do you enjoy being so angry?”

“No, of course not. I don’t enjoy it at all, but I can’t stop!”

“No, that’s no longer true. Now you can stop. Now nobody can make you become angry. Now, nobody has the power to steal your peace — if you remember where you are and whose you are.

“Whose I am?”

“Yes. Now you are Mine. You surrendered all to me. Remember that day? It was July 28th, 1974. You gave me your life, your body, your possessions, everything! That day you asked Me to come in, and I received you. I took you in, placed your soul securely in Me in Christ. So now “where you are” is in Me! Now, everything — even every unfair thing — that comes your way must pass through me to get to you. Now I am your Abba Father. You no longer have to protect yourself, retaliate, be hurt and angry. I already know all things coming in your future. I will intercept them and transform them, especially the hurtful things, working them together for your good, gradually conforming you into My image. Don’t be afraid. You don’t have to be in control any more. You are not alone. I will never leave you.

man in black jacket beside boy in pink jacket holding plush toy during daytime

Hold My hand, and I’ll walk with you from here on. There will be battles, but I will walk with you through every one. When you feel afraid, hold on tighter to me. I’ve got this.

“Yes, Lord.”

FREE INDEED

Alaska, Jack B. Nimble

Alaska Arrival – May 18, 2018

When last I wrote, we were in Montana, the weather had become increasingly cold at night, snow still lay along the roadsides, and we were not even in the mountains. I became increasingly apprehensive about continuing north alone where snow and below freezing temperatures were forecast, where there was a real doubt that campgrounds with electricity would be open yet, and the clincher — where we had no way to heat our tent camper except a small electric space heater, and… Jack was cold!

20180504_054527.jpg

This was an entirely different situation from our only previous road trip to Alaska — which was made in the height of summer, and we camped in a hard-sided, gas-heated camper. So, we made a difficult decision — to drive west to Tacoma, Washington, put the car and the camper on a ship for Anchorage, and to fly the rest of the way to our summer home. We did that, arriving in Soldotna the morning of May 8th. I apologize to all of you who have been faithfully following our progress, but I know you understand.

Our last three days camping we spent in Montana, Idaho, and Washington. We camped in a most interesting town in Idaho named Wallace. It was established as a silver mining town in the 1800’s. In an antique shop in Wallace, Tom bought a very odd antique musical instrument. It’s a “valve trombone,” and the best we can determine by looking it up on-line is that it’s a rare J.W. Pepper and Son instrument, made in the early 1900’s. Tom polished, and now it actually looks silver.

20180519_090716-1.jpg

In Washington we camped two nights in a park by Moses Lake. They were having a bass fishing tournament, so Tom was entertained. Canadian geese with dozens of goslings paddled around the lake. Cute!

20180505_074432.jpg

On Monday morning we took the car and the trailer to the port to ship out for Anchorage, and caught a ride to the Sea-Tac airport to spend the next 10 hours waiting for our red-eye flight to Kenai. We made it home about 6:30 Tuesday morning.

So, we have been home for over a week now. It has been cold (40’s) and rainy almost every day thus far. The birch trees have tiny green leaves, there is still a lot of snow on the mountaintops, and we have spent several days working to clean out the back acre. Tom has cut up fallen birch trees, cut scraggly lower limbs from spruce, and hauled over 4000 pounds of debris to the dump.

Our back acre is virgin territory — never built on, never cut as far as we know. This week we have been inundated with moose! They have taken to bedding down out back, and

20180516_094455.jpg

when they do, they are almost invisible. There are three moose in this picture. See if you can find Waldo.

Last year two wonderful friends from Church in Florida came to visit, and they built me a greenhouse!

20170802_140249-1.jpg

Yesterday I was planting vegetables in it when Tom came rushing in. A mama moose and her two yearlings had quietly walked up behind him while he was cutting wood out back. They followed him toward the greenhouse…

20180517_075444.jpg

… and while we watched, they strolled by like they own the place…

20180517_075450.jpg

… which they really do, come to think of it.

So far, I have planted tomatoes, peppers, and cucumbers in the greenhouse.

20180519_093203.jpg

Lettuce and cool weather vegetables — broccoli, cauliflower, radishes and cabbage we’re keeping on the upstairs balcony to protect them from the moose.

20180519_093436.jpg

Someday, perhaps we’ll build a moose-proof fence and plant such things in the ground. For now, the balcony is fine and easy to check every morning. We have grown vegetables up here before, and they do very well.

I think I’m running out of space for this post, so I will continue the Alaska story in a few days.

Thank you for reading!