In Moderation?

Over the past few months, I have not been able to get on Defending Contending that much for a variety of reasons. The main reason is because I have been very busy with work, working on a professional level exam in the evening, and trying to squeeze in time for family with what little bit of time I have left. Having said that, I wanted to take a few minutes to say that I appreciate those who have been able to contribute and who have commented.

Yet, with the responsibility of sharing with others comes another responsibility that I believe is even more important. This responsibility has been sadly lacking in some of the things that have been shared and I want to clarify a few points so we can move forward. The responsibility of which I speak is that, as true believers, we are called to reflect Jesus Christ in all that we say or do. Our position can be right, but if our disposition is wrong, then we are wrong. Being belligerent, obstinate, hateful, derogatory, or even caustic does not reflect who we are in Christ.

Hebrews 12:1 reminds us that we are surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses who have walked the path before us. When I think of this passage, I cannot help but wonder what they would say to us if they could read our words or hear what we say to others who are true believers. As but one example, I wonder if they would wince when our words are written or designed to tear strips off of those who believe in salvation by grace through faith alone in Christ alone yet are not in total agreement with us on some point of doctrine that has nothing to do with our salvation.

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It seems that on a regular basis, we can get sideways with others for a variety of reasons and in the process we forget that part of being in Christ is that we exhibit the fruit of the Spirit. This has not always been the case here at Defending Contending, and even I have had to back off and extend an apology to our readers and our commenters for not being gracious. Again, my position may well have been right, but my disposition only inspired others to dive for shelter instead of looking to Jesus Christ.

Too often it seems that we forget the passage in 1 Corinthians 3 where Paul reminded the believers of Corinth that we are not called to be followers of Paul, or Apollos, or Luther, or Calvin, or MacArthur, or Sproul, or Paul Washer, or fill-in-the-blank. When we put our eyes on mere men who are fallible and by no means 100% correct in every single area of their life, we will be disappointed. Not only will we be disappointed, but the world will have reason to wonder as to who really paid the ultimate sacrifice for our sins. They may well wonder why we spend more time trying to defend points of doctrine over acting, speaking, and listening in ways that are truly glorifying and Christ-honoring.

Recently, we have had posts that were meant to be words of encouragement only for the gloves to come off and comments began to spin out of control. The post was never intended to be anything more than apples of gold in pitchers of silver. The short post got hijacked and it became a stomping ground for people from different ends of the spectrum to parade how they felt. Several posts recently have been such that I cringe when I look back and read them and the comments. I wonder what in the world we are really doing or what we are attempting to do.

Finger-pointing does nothing profitable. Thus I felt this post was necessary to hopefully clear the air. First, let me reiterate that I am unashamedly, first and foremost, a Christ-follower. Second, I hold to the Bible as the inerrant and infallible word of God that is good for ALL that pertains to life and godliness (2 Peter 1:3). Third, I do not have any desire to follow a mere man. Yes, I, myself, have posted comments or quote or even sermons from men like MacArthur, Washer, or Dr. Steve Lawson, but they are men just like me. Others quote Calvin, Luther, Wesley, Sproul, or whoever as though they are to be esteemed to the level of the apostle Paul.

Anybody that cares to take the time to read through more of this blog will know where I have stood for the more than 8 years I have written here at Defending Contending. I have no intention of backing down from defending truth or contending for the faith. Many of you already know that I do not use the term Calvinist to describe myself. Most would be hard pressed to tell you exactly where Mark Escalera stands, but I am willing to share if I am asked. I have no issues standing against false teaching or false teachers. What I do have an issue with is the attitudes that are portrayed at times that are not Christ-like.

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I have almost shared enough for now, but I want to share just a couple more things. Not every reader, nor every person who comments, nor even every person who has been asked to contribute stands on the same ground theologically. While I disagree on various points with each contributor, I still have the final say on the blog and who I invite to write here.

I would kindly ask that each reader remember that ultimately, I am the one that is responsible for Defending Contending and that this is not, nor will it be, a forum for just anybody to come here and defend and contend for what everyone else believes. If a person comes here and desires to share, there are still rules that are not going to change.

If you come to DefCon just for the purpose of trying to change all of our minds on a particular area, then please feel free to start your own blog. We do not mind questions, nor do we mind disagreements. But, writing inflammatory comments or demanding to be heard on one side or another of a particular issue will not be tolerated. If you have a comment that is held in moderation, I do not need 1, 2, 5, or 10 more comments letting me know that your comment is in moderation. I have a busy life and it may not be answered for an hour, a day, or even 2 days.

As for those who write blog posts here at DefCon, I respect each one and each one has added to the mix various points that I appreciate. This is true whether it is George Alvarado’s points on evangelism or apologetics, Manfred’s book reviews or posts on various doctrinal issues, J.L. Pattison’s posts on various topics, or even Sony Elise’s words of encouragement. Each of these individuals are my friends, some closer than others, and I will defend each one of them even if I do not always agree with them with everything they post or will post.

In conclusion, my entire point of the post is to bring us back to the reality that we will all disagree until the Lord takes us home. Then we will quickly come to the understanding that we were not right on everything. However, that will quickly fade as we realize how glorious it is to be worshiping with the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. To find ourselves standing, kneeling, dancing, waving our hands, stomping our feet with glee, or running the hills of glory will be all worth it in the end when we see Jesus Christ, who ALONE is the author and finisher of our faith. I expect, in the meantime, that we each strive diligently to be gracious to each other so that others will see the reflection of the Master Carpenter.

Thankful to Be Loved

Several years ago, my sister and I were discussing “love languages.” My typical response, when someone asks what my love language is: “I just like to be loved.” There are things that especially make me feel loved but I know that everyone has a different personality, so I am grateful for any effort someone makes to show me that they love me. The one “language” that I didn’t think affected me at the time was “acts of service,” to which my sister replied, “Maybe it’s because you expect those things.” Ouch!

I’ve pondered that a lot since she said that and, although my initial response would have been to deny that possibility, there may be some truth to that. There are so many things that my family does to serve me that maybe I have become accustomed to and have lost sight of the fact that those things are done out of love whereas, if they stopped, I would probably feel the lack.

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When someone shows you hospitality, I’m guessing you would be appreciative and sure to thank them. Yet how often do you thank your family for the things they do? When your wife makes dinner, do you let her know how much you appreciate her willingness to do that night after night? If your husband is a hard worker, do you tell him what a blessing that is? If your child does a chore without being reminded, do you thank him or her for the act of service? Have you thanked your Mom and Dad for the sacrifice they made while you were growing up?

Family and close friends are often neglected when it comes to showing appreciation and gratitude, but they are the ones who may need to hear it the most. Don’t assume they know how blessed you are because of them; tell them!

I don’t know that I will ever say again that “acts of service” aren’t a big deal to me. The fact is that my friends and family don’t owe me a thing, but I am grateful that they love me and are willing to show me in a variety of ways. I pray that I am faithful to show them love and gratitude in return.

I hope you will purpose this week to let people know how much even the little things mean to you. You will probably brighten their day.

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Learning to Rest in Trials

No one likes to go through trials but one reason I don’t care for them is that they reveal things in my heart that I would rather not see. I like thinking of myself as a strong woman of faith who praises God in every circumstance. Yet, when the storm comes, wham! That all blows away.

I don’t know why it is hard to trust God. He has never been anything but good to me and yet I tend to think I know better than Him. If He would just _________, then I could serve Him better. And yet God says, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect through your weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9). And He’s always right!

I am currently going through a trial which I know is, in part, to bring me into a greater place of trust and surrender, but I confess this has been hard for me. I console myself that this trial is light and momentary and is a sign that God will complete the work He has begun in me, but it is taking me a while to rest in that.

Part of the problem is that I have plans. I have ideas of how life should work out, and when my plan doesn’t turn out, I don’t handle it well. I can quote Proverbs 16:9 (“A man’s heart plans his way; but the Lord directs his steps”), but knowing it and really embracing it can be two different things.

I’ve stated it before but it’s been a while so I’ll say it again. I don’t write because I have all the answers. I write because there are things that God is teaching me, and I expect I’m not the only one who needs to learn these lessons. Maybe not every post will speak to you but, if you read my writings long enough, I’m sure some will.

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Life is not all mountaintops. And it’s really not all valleys. The fact is you will have some of both. The key is, in whatever state you find yourself, to press on, keeping your eyes on the Light, not looking to the right or the left.

Things I am reminding myself and, therefore, reminding you:

1) Paul tells us in 1 Thessalonians 5:18, “In everything give thanks, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” This is not always easy, and I don’t believe this means that we need to thank God for the trial, but it does say we need to give thanks. There is always something to be thankful for, so find that.

2) God’s plans for you really are good. You don’t have to doubt. They may not be the plans you made, but your plans may not have been for your best. You need to trust Him.

3) This is the hardest point for me right now, but I’m learning that sometimes God does what He needs to do make us slow down and spend more time with Him. I don’t realize how much I am rushing through my prayer and Bible reading times until God rearranges my schedule to where I can’t do many other things. I’m learning that resting is more than just sleeping or not doing anything; it is making your mind and heart rest in accepting God’s will, even when it isn’t easy.

I encourage you to ponder these points and pray for God’s help to do these things. That is what I’m doing and, although it is hard right now, I believe that, in time, they will become easier as I more fully rest in Him.

Black Lives Matter, Darwinian Evolution, and Black Liberation Theology

Black Lives Matter, Darwinian Evolution, and Black Liberation Theology

To all our followers. I urge you to take the time to watch this video. It explains the roots of the Black Lives Matter Movement (BLM) which follows a doctrine called Black Liberation Theology. In the beginning of the video, I briefly touch on the hypocrisy of those that support BLM and yet believe in Darwinian Evolution, but then afterward thoroughly expose the history of this movement by dissecting an interview of what is deemed the founder of Black Liberation Theology – James Cone.

Take a seat, turn on your brain, because this one is going to require a lot of your attention. Please share this with other Christians and non-Christians alike.

-Until we go home

Click link to watch:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oP4dhE08KK0

Or watch here:

Are You Resting?

This morning, I was reading Hebrews 4 and it got me to thinking about rest. What exactly is rest and am I doing it? Are you doing it?

On the seventh day, God rested from creating the earth and He called the Sabbath day holy and told His children not to do any work on that day. In today’s society, it seems people don’t get the rest they need and, because of that, we have depression, sickness, anger, frustration, etc. God knew what His people needed but sometimes we think we know better than God.

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For myself, more often than not, the best rest I can get is sleeping in or lying down during the day after a long, stressful week. But rest is more than that. If I’m not able to shut my brain off from the cares of this world, I am not really resting. And, honestly, that is hard for me to do, but I am fighting to discipline myself to do just that.

If you’re not able to get much sleep, you can still draw near to the Lord and rest in Him. This is something I am still learning. I am not always able to sleep but I enjoy lying on my bed and praying and focusing on my Savior. I wouldn’t trade those times of feeling His arms around me for nothing!

During the times I am not able to rest like that, I still look for times that I can turn my heart and mind to the Lord. If I don’t get that time of prayer and/or worship, it affects me negatively. I am so grateful for the fact that no matter what I’m doing or where I’m at or who is around, no one else can control my mind.

It is also important to rest in the Lord during times of trial. We need to get to the point where we can honestly say, “For I know whate’er befalls me, Jesus doeth all things well.” When you can sing that with all your heart, you will truly be able to rest in knowing that God has a plan. Your job is just to trust.

I often speak to myself when I write, and this is no exception. I have a hard time accepting things that I don’t want to accept, but I can attest that I grow more through the hard times than at any other time.

My question to you today is: Are you resting? Forget everything that is going on in your life and surrender to Jesus. That is where you will find the greatest rest for your soul.

Reach Out

A friend and I were talking recently, and it seems like a lot of people have a hard time truly getting close to others. Maybe they would consider themselves having close friends but, when it comes to deep conversations about spiritual things or what is going on in their lives, they feel uncomfortable. Maybe they are afraid of losing that friendship or maybe they were raised in a home where “what goes on in the home stays in the home.” There is a place for that, but I feel like there are a lot of lonely people because of this mindset.

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Several years ago, I found myself saying, “I don’t need more surface friends; I have plenty of those.” I was looking for friends I could be real with, who would bear with me if I wasn’t always “up.” Looking at my life now, I realize God answered the cry of my heart. I have many friends where the extent of our relationship is catching up periodically and praying for each other as God brings them to mind. But I also have some that I believe truly love and care for me and who would do anything for me if they were capable of doing so. These are friends who will take time to listen to me when I’m up and when I’m down. On the days that I can only cry, they are there to encourage me and make sure I’m OK. This is priceless to me.

I realize not everyone has this, and many are afraid to be real because they don’t want to risk rejection. I understand this but I also know we live in a world that is longing for love. You don’t know when you might reach out to that person who will walk with you in good times and bad.

We were not meant to be alone. Sure, there are times that God brings us through deserted valleys to draw us closer to Him, but many times we are there because of our own decisions and our unwillingness to trust. I know because I’ve been there.

God is obviously the best friend you could have and the most important friend to go to in time of trouble. However, if you do not have someone in your life that will encourage you and pray with and for you when these times come, ask God to show you who may be willing to be that person in your life. Is there anyone you have a burden for that you could reach out to and be that kind of friend for them? It could be a neighbor, a relative, someone at church … whoever it is, follow God’s leading and trust Him to bless.

How Necessary is Experience?

We live in a society where people won’t receive advice from those who haven’t “walked in their shoes.” The older I get, the more I realize that experience is not always necessary.

Whether I have been married or not, I know how husbands and wives are to treat each other. Whether or not I ever have children, I know a few things about what works and what doesn’t work in raising children. I also realize that all children are different, so what works for one may not work for another. Basic principles can be the same though.

The Bible has clear guidelines as to how a person is to live. It really doesn’t matter what I would do if I were going through your circumstances. There is still a right way to handle a situation and a wrong way.

I believe part of the reason people get defensive is that they do not want to be judged for bad decisions they are making. If you are living in any way contrary to the Word of God, you are judged already. No one should be unwilling to receive input, regardless of the source.

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For many years, I have periodically counseled people on marriage, parenting, and other issues. I often felt unqualified, but people needed help so I prayed and asked God for wisdom. Between Scripture and things I have learned from reading, praying, and watching others, I believe God used me during those times.

Too many times, people use excuses to do what they want to do. They are not interested in what the Bible says; they want to do what feels good in the moment. Because of this, children are hurt by parents divorcing. Selfishness reigns so that there is constant heartache and strife. God gave instructions for a reason. He loves His children and desires them to live a peaceful, holy life that He can bless. There is a reason that he condemns greed, envy, unforgiveness, hatred, etc. Those things cause us to do things that we will live to regret … if we live long enough.

Maybe I haven’t gone through what you are going through, but I know we serve a loving God. I know that His plan for you is good and not evil … IF you follow His ways.