Friday, October 25, 2013

I'm Living Proof of God's Redeeming Love

Most of you only see what I've become. But you don't know the struggle I've had in getting here.

You know Amy Redding to be a godly wife and homeschooling mother of seven children who loves to sing and talk about Jesus. Yep, that's me...TODAY.

Growing up, for the most part, I was a good kid, compliant and obedient, wanting to please my parents and live rightly. I was saved at a young age so God was with me convicting me when I was wrong and teaching me to do right. But I haven't always prioritized being holy. There are moments I wish I could erase. But alas, I'll have to be content with the fact that God has redeemed me and can use my testimony about those moments.

I was thinking last night about one of them. It was something I said as a teen to one of my music teachers. It's ironic really, given the title of my last album.

Mrs. E. wanted me to sing in an ensemble for music contests. I grew up singing with my family, so singing songs of faith was no new thing to me. But for some reason when she asked me to sing, with an ornery huff, I replied, "Ok fine. But I don't want to sing any of that 'Holy Holy Holy' stuff". Mrs. E's eyebrows raised, her lips parted and she was speachless. Mean while, the other kids in my class also reacted to my out of character retort with laughter, gasps of astonishment and smirks. The rest is a blur.

I don't know why I said it. The truth of it was, I earnestly desired to be holy back then, just as much as I do today. But for some reason, it seemed harder and more unattainable during those years. It might be because there were other things running in the background of my childhood that colored my view of who I could and would become. Those things seemed to damn me to a life of unworthiness, and I felt I would never escape them.

Fast forward to today. Holiness is an ordinary way of life for our family. The chains of condemnation that once hung heavy around my neck are now gone and I'm living a picture perfect, ideal life with a wonderful, loving husband and multiple blessings that grace each day. If anyone would have told me that day, when I mouthed off to Mrs. E., what my life was going to be, I wouldn't have believed them. I would have wanted it to be true, but I wouldn't have believed them.

You maybe didn't know that at one time, my life seemed hopeless and damned. But I'm living proof of God's redeeming love. So, today, if you feel like you'll never rise above your current situation, I would encourage you not to give up on Jesus and to pursue a godly life. He is able to pull you through.

Philippians 1:6 "being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus."

2 Peter 3:9 "The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance."

Friday, October 18, 2013

Birds of a Feather

Proverbs 17:4 "A wicked person listens to deceitful lips; a liar pays attention to a destructive tongue."

Matthew Henry's commentary on Proverbs 17:4
"One who is himself mendacious listens with avidity to any tale that may injure a neighbour, however monstrous and improbable it may be."

You know what they say about birds of a feather...

Friday, October 11, 2013


Post Dramatic Stress Disorder

I wonder how many of us are struggling with this.

There is no place for drama in the body of Christ. It would be better if everyone made it their goal to do these things;

Psalm 34:13 
Turn from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it.

Romans 12:18
If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.

Romans 15:2
Each of us should please our neighbors for their good, to build them up.

Romans 14:19
Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Some of My thoughts about Psalm 64

Poor David!  What must he have been subjected to in order for a prayer like this to come from his heart and lips? 

Psalm 64

1 Hear my voice, O God, in my complaint;preserve my life from dread of the enemy.2 Hide me from the secret plots of the wicked,from the throng of evildoers,3 who whet their tongues like swords,who aim bitter words like arrows,4 shooting from ambush at the blameless,shooting at him suddenly and without fear.5 They hold fast to their evil purpose;they talk of laying snares secretly,thinking, “Who can see them?”6 They search out injustice,saying, “We have accomplished a diligent search.”For the inward mind and heart of a man are deep!

7 But God shoots his arrow at them;they are wounded suddenly.8 They are brought to ruin, with their own tongues turned against them;all who see them will wag their heads.9 Then all mankind fears;they tell what God has brought aboutand ponder what he has done.

10 Let the righteous one rejoice in the LORDand take refuge in him!Let all the upright in heart exult!

This is some pretty weighty subject material don't you think?  He's totally pegging...ur...uh...dare i say, judging some people here!  Not only is he freely and openly expressing (and obviously recording) his assessment of these people, he's also looking forward to the day when these cowardly, loose lipped, bitter, evil, liars who are bent on crushing him are pierced with God's own arrows. 

He's looking forward to their ruin!  He's waiting for their humiliation and day of disgrace!  That doesn't sound very "christian" of him...does it?  Shouldn't he rather embrace the common notion that a good Christian wouldn't "judge someone else simply because he sins differently than he does"?    Or how about the one that's circulating Facebook recently?  "Before you judge me make sure you are perfect"?  

Here we have David, a lying, adulterous, selfish murderer...crying out to God for justice!  And he's banking on it...even taking comfort and hope in it.  He says, "Let the righteous one rejoice in the LORD and take refuge in him! Let all the upright in heart exult!" 

Obviously he assumes he's in that camp!  But why?  Isn't he just as big a sinner as those who are lying in wait for him?  Those who seek to destroy him with their lying tongues?  Where then do you suppose he gets off "judging" these guys and even waiting for their condemnation?  

When David was confronted with his sin he didn't shrink back and deny it.  He didn't hide it.  He didn't justify it or blame someone else for it.  He repented. 

How would it have gone for him, do you suppose, if he had blamed Bathsheba for bathing in public on the roof instead of owning his own guilt in his adulterous affair?  And after she was found to be with child he called Uriah home, giving him the opportunity to merely be deceived as opposed to being murdered.  He could have blamed Uriah for not sleeping with his wife when he had the chance...after all, David wouldn't have had to kill him if he'd have just gone to his wife while he was home.  

But even though he committed adultery, tried to cover it up and in the end, killed Uriah, he repented when he was confronted by Nathan.  He did not deny it or cover it up.  He did not cling to it.  He didn't hurl quip phrases at Nathan because he called out his sin and made him face it.

There in lies the difference, if you ask me.  

He left his sin behind.  He pursued the path of righteousness rather than deception and hatred.  He humbled his royal self before God and submitted himself to His chastisement and discipline.  

Is that you?  Are you being like King David?  Have you laid aside your pursuit of sinful lusts, pleasures, justifications and excuses and bowed in humility to God?  Have you chosen, without looking back, to follow God's path of righteousness? 

OR are you like the wicked?  Bitter, angry with someone, plotting harm and destruction or the demise of his reputation? Are planning your next night of debotchery?  Are you waiting with anticipation for your next high?  Are you still flirting with that married co-worker or friend?

Who are you?  And with whom are you REALLY aligned?  Do you have a right to judge?  Is your right to judge rooted in your repentance and God's righteousness or is it rooted in your own desire for power and control...or worse yet, your desire to get the heat off yourself?

Not one of us has the right within ourselves to judge the person next to us.  BUT believers have every right to cling to the righteousness they have in Christ (Just like David).  And in His power and Name they have the right AND the responsibility to hold each other accountable to God's standard of holiness so that when we are failing, we can help each other get back in line.  Not only that, but they have every right, because of the sacrifice of Christ, to look forward to the day when wicked, unrepentant people are put in their place...and we all know where THAT it.  Though we would rather see their repentance (just as I believe God would) if they refuse, we rejoice in The Lord and their just condemnation.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Agape Love Triumphs

It's alarming to witness in social media, what has been happening in the church for centuries in a much less blatant way. And its effects are very destructive.

Non-Christians (they may be atheists or theists) often pose as "christians". They troll through Christian and Atheist sites debating and spewing horrible things in the name of Jesus; things that someone, who has truly become acquainted with the mercy of God, would never say or believe. But those who do not know God do not understand this, and instead they come away believing that Christians are horrible judgmental people who are condemning and enjoy condemning others, eagerly awaiting their destruction, or they come away with a false gospel, believing the false doctrines spread by these impostors.

Those who masquerade as Christians are not doing anything new. Read the book of Jude and you'll see that ever since the early Church these men have "crept in unnoticed". This is because they dawn the language and often the life style of the Redeemed and try to blend in among them in order to be stumbling blocks. And they do it well. Do not be deceived. They may be in your church today and they may serve on various committees within the church, but they are divisive and often caustic toward others, and what love they do show is inconsistent at best. Those who belong to Christ, when seeing their behavior, often "look the other way" because they want to "be at peace with all men" and they give the benefit of the doubt not wanting to be "judgmental". Most often these people go unchallenged in our church circles. And they gain more credibility the longer they go unchallenged because they look like long time church members...yet the entire time they've been in your midsts they have continued to divide and berate and spread gossip and disunity amongst the brethren. Their offensiveness does not go unnoticed, just unchallenged.

These men and women are able to be rooted out. Not only can you tell them by their fruits (hostility, divisiveness, bullying, denying or resisting the God given authority structure within the Church, to name a few), you can also tell them by their doctrine. They preach a different gospel than that of Jesus, twisting the gospel of grace entirely. These are those who would encourage and excuse the licentiousness of others, using partial scripture such as, "there is no condemnation". But they leave out the powerful key words of that verse, "for those who are in Christ Jesus". They cling to parts of scriptural doctrine, and even have a kind of "wisdom" about them that is very convincing. But their version of grace is severely lacking in godly love, personal discipline, and the pursuit of holiness. And they most certainly do not encourage accountability or unity.

The other thing these people do is swing to the other side of the pendulum and deny the grace of God by implementing a religion of legalism. But there is no root in actual faith in the sacrificial love of Christ, nor the redemption that is by faith alone.

Encountering these kinds of people can at times be discouraging. I must admit that this is something that has hindered my ability to trust people.  It might be that I have seen to many false forms of "faith", "friendships" or "christianity". I will definitely say that I've lost my idealistic belief that everyone in the church actually loves God and belongs to Him. That was a tough pill to swallow, but a necessary one, because, simply put, that belief wasn't grounded in truth at all. And honestly, I was not a better person for holding to it. I was merely ignorant, and believing it only opened me up to hurt and disillusionment.

But in the life of a believer,  Agape Love triumphs. This is the love that flows down from Heaven, through God's children toward others. Agape love is what continues to motivate me to sing, speak and write about the truth of God's redeeming love. It is not dependent upon your faith in me, nor is it dependent upon my own efforts. It is God given and flows even when there is nothing inside of me to offer.  It is what enables a Christian to do as Christ says,

Matthew 5:44 "But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless those that curse you, do good to those that hate you, and pray for those who speak evil about you, and persecute you."

These impostors in our midsts are not capable of doing these things, because Agape Love does not flow through them. At best, they can mimic what they've seen God's children do. But their "love" is inferior in that it is only offered to establish or save their reputations and it is done in their own strength and for their own purposes. God's love is never selfish or self motivated.

I would encourage all of God's children to do as God says,

Proverbs 4:23 "Above all else guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life."

Do not give yourself over to bitterness, and do not hold condemnation for anyone. Neither give credence to a false gospel nor a false form of godliness that lacks the power of God. You are not a better person for it. Looking the other way when someone is doing the wrong thing does not equate with "loving your neighbor as yourself". It is not only destructive for the church to look the other way, but it will only lend itself to the destruction of the unity of the Body of Christ. Whether on line, in your church, at the coffee shop or any other place, if there is hatefulness or a false representation of the gospel being given, call it out and speak the truth in love with gentleness and respect, but stand firm.