Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Overcoming discomfort

It's been too long since my last post. Every time I check my blogroll for my friends' updated pots, I want to update mine with a new post as well. However.... I recently got a new Moleskine <3 I looooooove these too cute little journals! This is my 5th, maybe 6th one, and every time I get a new one, I just have a urge to fill up all the beautifully blank pages. So, when I've had the urge to write lately, my Moleskine become my blog's competition. And won. And that's perfectly alright with me, because I mostly write just for me anyhow.

Ella update: A few days shy of 14 months, Ella baby is walking all the time now! She took her first step the day before her birthday and has gradually increased the time on her feet each day. While she still crawls occasionally, she is mostly walking. It's so cute to watch. She walks forwards, backwards, in circles, any any other way she can get to her goal destination.

Baby boy update: I turned 31 weeks yesterday, meaning little man will be here in 9 weeks! It's incredible to think about. I'm sorry to report that we still do not have a name picked out, but we're working on a few leads ;o) Other than that, he's growing healthy and is right on track for this part of my pregnancy. Thank you, Lord.

My pregnancy with Ella, as well as my current one have both been great. I haven't experienced morning sickness at all with my sweet baby boy and did only for about a week with El. I am starting to get a little concerned, though,as something new has come up recently. Last Friday I started to have pains at work with just walking. It started about mid-morning and by the end of the day, I felt like I could barely lift my legs, and even then, it was excrutiating! The pain was difficult to describe but felt like it was a bone or ligaments in the very low part of my front pelvis.

Sam, the great future physician's assistant he's going to be, figured it out the next day -(I so stayed home on Saturday). He figured out that I have Pubis Symphysis Dysfunction, a condition not uncommon in pregnant women where the supporting ligaments in lower pelvis relax too much, and cause severe pain with everyday activities.

Here's a pic to show better describe what I'm talking about.
(sorry, had to post it above because this thing is being stupid)

Anyway, after resting all day Saturday, I've felt much better. I can get in and out of the car without hurting when I put weight on my pelvis. This PSD is definitely no fun, but I think that if I go easy on how much I'm doing around the house and not putting too much stress on my body at work, I think I can manage well. 9 weeks, right? I can do this. With God giving me strength and Sam being as wonderfully supportive as he is, I think I'll be allllright :)

Anyway, I want to right more about our journey to become debt free, but my iPad is about to die. I'll have to write about that later. Ta-ta!

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Not yet done

I hope everyone is having a lovely mother's day weekend with their moms :) I just want to write a very short post to let y'all know that I've still got another 1 or 2 posts on salvation to write. This weekend has just been very busy, and updating my blog world has not been on the top of my list of things to do. Hopefully I'll be posting the next question tomorrow. That's all for today. Gonna go spend more time with family!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

What is needed for salvation?

I believe that we are saved only by the means of God's free gift of grace which we receive when we first accept Christ as Lord of our souls. I believe that God offers His saving grace to everyone, though sadly, everyone does not accept it. So how exactly do you accept that grace? I've heard people say that only faith is needed, the doctrine of sola fide, or faith alone. Others sadly believe they can earn their way to heaven by their own good works. The bible is very clear on both of these doctrines being wrong.

What I believe and what the Catholic Church and the bible teach is that both faith and good works done in grace are needed for salvation. I want to be very clear of what I mean when I say good works done in grace. Examples of these are clothing the naked, feeding the hungry, visiting the imprisoned (Matthew 25.31-36)- all done, of course, with faith in Christ to share His love as he commanded us. Do not confuse good works with works of the law which include Mosaic law, and any of the legal, ceremonial type law that is found in the Old testament. An example of a work of the law is abstaining from pork because it was considered ritually unclean under Mosaic law. Christ fulfilled the old law in His coming to set forth a new covenant (Matthew 5.17).

When some people hear that I believe good works play a role in salvation, they automatically think I think I can earn my salvation. I most certainly do not. I realize that as an imperfect sinner, I fall short of God's high standard. I also realize, that this is why Christ came to die for my sins. His perfect sacrifice covered all of my shortcomings and washes away my sins when I repent. I cannot more clearly say that I believe we are saved by God's free gift of grace. I do, however, want to share why I believe both faith and good works play a role in salvation and why they are needed together.

James 2.14-26: "What does it profit, my brethren, if a man says he has faith but has not works? Can his faith save him? If a brother or sister is illl-clad and in lack of daily food, and one of you says to him, "Go in peace and be warmed and filled," without giving them the things needed for the body, what does it profit? So faith, by itself, if it has no works, is dead."
But some one will say, "You have faith and I have works." Show me your faith apart from your works, and I by my works will show you my faith. You believe God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe- and shudder. Do you want to be shown, you shallow man, that faith apart from works is barren? Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he offered his son Isaac upon the altar? You see that faith was active along with with his works, and faith was completed by works, and the scripture was fulfilled which says, "Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness"; and he was called the friend of God. You see that a man is justified by works and not faith alone... For as the body apart from the spirit is dead, so faith apart from works is dead."

That one passage alone is very clear that faith without works is dead, so it is necessary for salvation and I think it alone trumps the doctrine that faith alone is needed. But just in case you want more...

Galatians 5.6: "For in Christ Jesus, neither circumcision nor uncircumcision is of any avail, but faith working in love."

1 Corinthians 13.2 "And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith so as to move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing." (This is my own wondering, but if you had all faith, so as to move mountains, wouldn't that be enough if you were using the doctrine of "faith alone"? Yet it says here you are nothing.)

Matthew 19. 16-17: "And behold, one came up to him, saying, 'Teacher, what good deed must I do to have eternal life?' And He said to him, 'Why do you ask me about what is good? On there us who is good. If you would enter life, keep the commandments.'". (Here Jesus says we must DO something, keep the commandments, not just believe in Him)

John 14.12: "He who believes in me will also do the works I do."

Luke 10. 25-28: "And behold, a lawyer stood up to out him to the test, saying, "Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?" He said to him, 'What is written in the law?' And he answered, 'You shall love the Lord your God with all you heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself.' And He said to him, 'You have answered right; do this and you will live."

And what does Jesus say about loving him?

John14.15: "If you love me, you will keep my commandments."

John 14.21 "He who has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me, and he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him."

Matthew 7.21: " Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven."


So, I hope this has been sufficient to explain why I believe faith and good works done in grace are necessary for salvation of souls, all through the free gift of God's grace. To me, the faith part is like how we show God we love Him, by trusting in Him. And the good works we do are how we love our neighbor as ourselves and how we bring Christ 's love to others!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Are you saved?

This question is one that is of particular importnce to me. I slightly cringe when I hear someone say something like, "So many people were saved at church this weekend!" When someone asks me, "Are you saved?" I hesitantly say, "Yes." Let me explain my hesitancy here and why I cring when I hear someone say they are saved as if it's a done deal.

There is a Catholic apologetic by he name of John Martignoni who has the best answer to the question, "Are you saved?", I've ever read and I couldn't agree more. His answer, and now my answer, is "I have been saved , but I am also being saved, and I have the hope that I will be saved. Like the apostle Paul, I am working out my salvation with fear and trembling, with hopeful confidence in the promises of Christ." Now let me say here that the answer to this question is the base of this post. I will break down how this answer is so soundly biblical that it's very hard to argue with.

"I have been saved..."

This happens at the moment of accepting Christ as Lord and Savior of your soul- in this we accept His saving grace. Remember step 3 in how you become a Christian from my last post? This is the part where the faith we have in accepting Christ plants the "tree of Christ" within us.

Romans 8.23-24: "... But we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved."

Ephesians 2.8: "For by grace you have been saved through faith; and this is not your own doing, it is the gift of God- not because of works, lest any man should boast."

2 Timothy 1.8: "... But share in the suffering for the gospel in the power of God, who saved us and called us with a holy calling, not in virtue of our own works but in virtue of His own purpose and the grace which He gave us in Christ Jesus."

Titus 3. 4-7: "But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, He saved us, not because of deeds done by us in righteousness, but in virtue by His own mercy, by the way of regeneration and renewal in the Holy Spirit, which He poured out upon us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior."

"I am being saved..."

This describes how salvation is not a once occurring event. It's a process.

Phillipians 2.12: "Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for God is as work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure."

1 Peter 1.8-9: "Without having seen Him you love Him; though you not now see Him you believe in Him and rejoice with unutterable and exalted joy." As the outcome of your faith you obtain the salvation of your souls."

2 Corinthians 6.2: "For He says, 'At the acceptable time I have listened to you, and helped you on the day of salvation.' Behold, now is the acceptable time; behold, now is the day of salvation."

"I will be saved."

The process of our salvation will be made complete on the Last Day, when we stand before God for judgement.

Matthew 10.22: "But he who endures to the end will be saved."

Matthew 24.13: "But he who endures to the end will be saved." (I know this is a repeat, but the Bible repeats it, so I am too ;)

Mark 8. 34-45: " And He called to Him the multitude with His desciples, and said to them, 'If any man would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it; and whoever loses his life for my sake will save it."

Acts 15.11: "But we believe that we shall be saved through the grace of the Lord Jesus, just as they will."

Romans 5.9-10: "Since, therefore, we are now justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by Him from the wrath of God. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of His Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life."

Romans 13.11: "For salvation is nearer to us now than when we first believed."

1 Corinthians 3.15: "If any man's work is burned up, he wil suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire."

Hebrews 9.28: "So Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin, but to save those who are eagerly waiting for Him."

So, (deep breath) that is why I slightly cringe when I hear someone say they are saved at the moment of accepting Christ. "Yes," I think, "you were saved when you started a personal relationship with the Lord. However, that salvation is not complete. It's a process, a process that progresses with our daily walk with the Lord. And it will be made complete when we stand before God in our final judgement and Christ, in separating the sheep from the goats, says, 'This one's mine.'" <3

It is with hopeful confidence in the promises of Christ that I persevere in my ongoing salvation and wait with joyful hope at the day that Christ claims me as His own, saying, "Well done good and faithful servant... enter into the joy of your master." (Matthew 25.23)

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

What does it mean to say that you're a Christian?

Jesus said, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but by me." - John 14.6
And in Acts 4:12, Peter says, "There is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved."

That being said, I believe non-Christians can still be saved. Romans talks about how God will judge each person according to what we know. "When Gentiles who have not the law do by nature what he law requires, they are a law unto themselves, even though they do not have the law. They show that what the law requires is written on their hearts, which their conscience also bears witness and their conflicting thoughts accuse or perhaps excuse them on that day when, according to my gospel, God judges the secrets of men by Christ Jesus." - Romans 2. 14-16

Putting all of that together, I believe that is all are saved through Christ and only Him. I think C.S. Lewis said it best in Mere Christianity, "We . . . know that no man can be saved except through Christ; we do not know that only those who know him can be saved through him."

For the people to whom Christ IS revealed, they are given the opportunity to accept Him, and they cast judgment upon themselves if they refuse to receive the truth that He came to die for us and to cover our sins. Luke talks about the day that Jesus sent out followers to towns ahead of his own visits. Jesus said, "Whenever you enter a town and they receive you, eat what is set before you; heal the sick in it and say to them, 'The kingdom of God has come near to you.' but whenever you enter a town and they do not receive you, go into the streets and say, 'Even the dust that clings to our feet, we wipe off against you; nevertheless, know this, that the kingdom of God is near.' I tell you, it shall be more tolerable on that day for Sodom than for that town." -Luke 10.8-12

I recently read a very good summary, in my opinion, on how to become a Christian once the gospel of Christ is made known to you, and I'd like to share. It is from The Handbook on Catholic Apologetics by Peter Kreeft and Ronald Tacelli. here are 4 basic steps, and these are highly paraphrased:

1) You first must believe in God's existence and power. This is like trying to find your way somewhere using a map. You would first have to believe the map is accurate and is capable of getting you to your destination before you start on a lifelong journey to get there.

2) You must be repentant of your sins in acknowledgment that sin is not the road to God and it is not His intention for us. This is like seeing that you're on the wrong road and are willing to leave it.

3) The third step is accepting Christ as Lord and Savior of your soul, thereby accepting His saving grace. This step is like turning onto the right road, as Christ said He is the way, the truth, and the life. In this step, the faith we have in trusting in the Lord plants the "tree of Christ" in us.

4) Jesus said, "If any man would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me." - Luke 9.23
Christ calls us to a daily walk of Christian living in which we deny ourselves and live for Him. Ephesians 2.10 says, "For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them." The Christian actions and works of love we do become the fruits of Christ's tree within us.
(In Matthew 7. 15-20, Jesus talks about discerning a good tree from a bad tree by the fruit that it bears.)

Following these steps, is the best simple way I've come across that will ensure I get to the destination I want for eternity- heaven.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Salvation: An Intro to My Bible Study

So I know this is a month and a half overdue, but I FINALLY finished my bible study (that has since turned into multiple bible studies). I feel like I have come to a point at which I can write a pretty good post on salvation and what I believe about how we get to heaven. Now, when I first decided to post this, I intended to make the post nothing but scripture; since doing all of my studying, however, I do believe I will include my thought process here and there so that you can more easily understand why I believe what I do.

I am very excited to share this, as the topic of salvation is one that is often unclear to many people and even argued over. Having used the last month and a half to study, I have lots of notes written down that I will use as the core of each post. That being said, I will write multiple posts on the subject, each pertaining to a specific question related to salvation. When I started my bible study, I opened my notebook and wrote down the questions I knew I'd want answered in my post. The following posts will be titled under each question I looked at answering in my study.

I hope you enjoy reading this as much as I enjoyed studying God's word about what should be our goal in life: experiencing salvation through Him, who saved us, so that we may one day be with Him for all eternity. What is more important to any one of us than our eternal destiny? When you think about it, our whole lives are not even a single grain of sand in the never ending hour glass of forever. What fills our hearts and how we live our lives WILL determine how we spend our forever.

I will post one question each day for a total of 5 posts. There may be more, pending on length, as one question will have a very long answer from the look of things. Tonight is just the intro, but the meaty posts will begin tomorrow and I hope to have one posted each day subsequent.

Before I conclude this intro, I say a prayer asking God to bless the words I use and the spirit with which I write. I have only the intention of sharing my beliefs with those interested, because I hold them to be based on truth. I pray that God would touch the hearts of everyone reading, as He has touched mine in he course of this bible study.

Comments are welcome, as always, but I do as that if your views are different from mine, you express them respectfully and most of all with the attitude of Christ's love.

Posts to come starting tomorrow!