- We need to remember the Gospel every day.
- We need to remember His sacrifice.
- We need to remember why He saved us and how much it cost (Hebrews 2:9; Matthew 27:46).
- We need to remember the commission He gave us (Matthew 28:16-20).
- We need to remember we are no longer children of darkness, but rather, children of light - and act like it! (Ephesians 5:8-14 ; 1 Thessalonians 5:5)
- We need to remember He is coming again, and we will give account for how we served Him (Romans 14:12; 2 Corinthians 5:10).
The media practically devoured Vice Present Mike Pence for his admission (in a 2002 piece for The Hill) that he never eats alone with a woman other than his wife and for other "boundary"-type choices.
Once again, the left was quick to criticize Pence and his wife Karen for their Christian choices.
But I find this couple refreshing. In an anything-goes era, it is not so much their conservative, middle-America values that shine out, but rather their evangelical Christian discernment.
The Vice President is not a sexist, as the left claims. I'm sure he will deal with meetings with top female leaders (like England's Theresa May or Germany's Angela Merkel) in God-honoring ways.
He and his wife are not fools. They are concerned about integrity.
This power couple's overall commitment to each other and desire to protect that relationship should be applauded, not decried.
Their "gut check" relationship protection is something to be admired, and it's not really that different from most conservative Christians who care about guarding their hearts and homes from harmful, even divisive distractions and temptation.
The scriptures are clear about the importance of "watching" out for temptation.
- "Watch over your heart with all diligence, for from it flow the springs of life" (Proverbs 4:23).
- "Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak" (Mark 14:38).
- "Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour" (1 Peter 5:8).
But back to their decision to not have Mike Pence meet alone with other women. I get that.
Pence, again in his interview with The Hill, said their decision is akin to "building a zone around your marriage." In this wicked culture, there are many opportunities for temptation to creep in, and appearances can be deadly as well.
The practice of careful public boundaries has gone out of fashion with some, but it's still a valid choice.
My husband, a pastor for many years, would not counsel any female without his study door open and the church secretary at her desk in the adjacent room.
This was not only for his protection against possible false accusations, but also for the counselee's freedom. My husband did not want to give any "opportunity" for the enemy to destroy what was meant to be a positive counseling experience.
In reading about Karen Pence, I discovered she was married once, quite young. They grew apart, her former husband said, as he spent long hours at work. Perhaps this failed marriage is one reason Karen Pence is so committed to staying near the Vice President. Perhaps they know by building a "zone" around their marriage, they will actually experience greater freedom to serve others.
One of the best pieces of advice I received as a young bride came from a wise elderly woman in my husband's church:
For some people, that boundary—that zone—might be called a "hedge of protection."
- It presupposes there is something of value worth protecting.
- There's a desire to protect marriage from perceived or real threats--and that could take on many forms, like the "other woman/other man" or even pornography.
- Within this protection there is a greater sense of relational freedom centered in trust, not a lot of "what-ifs."
- It includes the concept of becoming accountability partners. (Even if both partners are not willing to build in protective boundaries, God can bless the efforts of the spouse who does.)
I think it's up to Christians to determine what that "guarding" looks like as a couple. For the Vice President and his loyal wife, that means clear boundaries.
And everywhere I look, I see bunnies. Chicks. Chocolate eggs and jelly beans.
But so few lambs.
I enter into the secularized fun of the season. Pinterest is full of ideas for a colorful holiday. I color eggs and create lovely spring bouquets and wreaths.
But once you know the real story, everything else misses the mark.
This special week is all about a perfect Lamb.
It's about Jesus, the Lamb of God (John 1:29, 36), the prophesied Savior, the ultimate and perfect sacrifice for the sins of the world.
The Old Testament prophesied the coming of this Messiah, the anointed One and our "guilt offering" (Isaiah 53:10). The perfect Savior would provide "atonement"--reconciliation between God and man (Romans 5:10-11; Hebrews 2:17; 1 Peter 2:24). He who knew no sin would "be sin" on our behalf to bring us to God (2 Corinthians 5:19, 21; Galatians 1:4).
I remember the first time I fully understood the significance of the Jewish Passover Lamb (Exodus 12:11-13) and the feast of the Passover. This Jewish celebration commemorated the Israelites' deliverance from bondage. The applying of the blood of the Passover lamb to the doorposts of the Israelites' houses, which was to protect them from destruction by the angel of death, was a meaningful picture of the coming Messiah's work as our Passover Lamb (1 Corinthians 5:7b).
Later, the Jewish priests sacrificed innocent lambs daily in the Temple in Jerusalem to cover the people's sins until the promised Lamb of God arrived on the scene (Exodus 29:38-42). That Lamb would be led to the slaughter to redeem or ransom His people (Isaiah 53:7; Jeremiah 11:19; 1 Timothy 2:6). In other words, the chosen Lamb would deliver His people from bondage to sin by paying the ultimate price, His own death for us.
When Jesus was ready to begin His ministry, John the Baptist declared Him the "Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world" (John 1:29). When our Lord died, His blood "covered" those for whom He died--all who believe (John 3:16-17; Romans 3:23-25a). There is no more "spiritual death" for those who trust in His once-and-for-all sacrifice (Hebrews 10:11-12).
I know this whole concept bothers some people.
As a child, I wanted nothing to do with this "bloody sacrifice." I thought God too cruel to demand it. I thought I should be able to somehow "earn" my way into acceptance with Him.
It took me many years to clearly see the ugliness of sin that separated me from a holy God (Romans 3:23; 6:23), that His perfect provision for my soul required a blood sacrifice (Leviticus 17:11). I had to understand the depths of my Father's love (1 John 4:10).
As the apostle Peter explained,
"...it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect. He was chosen before the creation of the world, but was revealed in these last times for your sake. Through him you believe in God, who raised him from the dead and glorified him, and so your faith and hope are in God" (1 Peter 1:18-21, NIV).
No bunnies died for me. Only the perfect Lamb.No bunnies were buried in a borrowed tomb for three days, and then raised from the dead to release me from my darkness and bondage to sin. No bunnies ever gave me eternal life. Only Jesus did these things (1 Corinthians 15:3-4).
Only the perfect Lamb.
The Lamb who became my Good Shepherd (John 10:11).
He is our worthy Redeemer (Revelation 5:9), and I will thank and praise Him forever.
"A real Christian is known not by the cross he wears," Steve Lawson said, "but by the cross he bears."
I have three crosses in my jewelry box. My favorite is a black cross with a silver "X" across the cross bars. It reminds me Jesus cancelled out the ugliness of my sin, and I bear the consequences of my sin no more.
I don't wear my jewelry crosses often, but when I do, I always reflect on why the cross is so important. It's a reflection of the One who loved me enough to die for me, and also a reminder there is a "cross" Jesus expects me to carry as His disciple.
- Chapter 1: the CROSS; the death of Christ to atone for the sins of mankind
- Chapter 2: the RESURRECTION; the empty tomb
- Chapter 3: the RETURN. Jesus coming back for His own so they can live with Him in eternity.
Bloodless Christianity is fake Christianity.
- Do you recognize how estranged from God and in rebellion to Him you were before He rescued you?
- Do you understand the power of the gospel, not just for salvation, but for victorious daily living?
- To pause and reflect,
- To remember, and
- To praise God with gratitude.
- He uses lies to blind the spiritual eyes of people so they will not understand the gospel (2 Corinthians 4:4), and he hinders our gospel witness to them (Matthew 13:19).
- He keeps people in bondage to sin (the "gods" we set up in our lives) so they will not respond to the Lord (Galatians 4:8).
- He lies about and slanders God, casting doubt on His words, and ultimately, His goodness (Genesis 3:4-5).
- He uses "sons of the evil one" (even "fake" Christians) to deceive people and create disunity in the Body of Christ (Matthew 13:38-39; 2 Corinthians 11:13-15).
- He encourages us to believe false doctrines (lies) and compromise biblical theology (1 Timothy 4:1-3).
- Our adversary prowls, cleverly using our weaknesses (and even strengths) to set us up for ultimate failure and destruction (1 Peter 5:6-8).
- He tempts us to deceitfully impress people, rather than live authentically for the Lord (Acts 5:3; John 8:44).
- The evil one outright tempts us to do wicked things (Matthew 4:1; 1 Thessalonians 3:5), because he's a destroyer of all that is good and holy.
- He slanders Christians before the Lord (Revelation 12:10), especially after he "sifts" us to see how committed we are, and we give in to temptation (Luke 22:31).
- He uses emotional turmoil—especially discouragement, doubt, depression and despair—to attempt to cripple us (2 Corinthians 4:8-9).
- He instigates persecution for our faith and godliness (Revelation 2:10).
- He tries to confuse our minds and steer us away from the simplicity of Christ and power of the Gospel (2 Corinthians 11;3).
- He subtly suggests we ignore (or even thwart) what God desires to do (Matthew 16:21-23).
- He promises thrills outside God-given boundaries for sexual intimacy (2 Timothy 2:20-21; 1 Corinthians 7:5).
- Our enemy constantly fights our progress in Christ (Ephesians 6:12). He attempts to rob Christians of joy, peace, happiness, purpose and a host of other things the Lord wants to bless believers with in their walk with Christ.
Basically, the enemy uses false premises and promises to make us FUNCTIONING IDOLATERS.
- We resist Satan's lies by not being "ignorant of his schemes" (2 Corinthians 2:11b).
- We submit to the Lord and soberly and persistently resist Satan (Ephesians 4:27; James 4:7; 1 Peter 5:8).
- We take up and wear the Armor of God daily—both defensive and offensive weapons (Ephesians 6:11-18)—and stand against the devil in all his wiles. His false premises and promises do not need to take us captive (2 Timothy 2:26).
- We stand strong in our identity in Christ (1 Corinthians 6:17; Colossians 3:1-3; 1 John 3:1-2).
- We REMEMBER: Greater is he who is in us (Jesus) than he who is in the world! (1 John 4:4)