Monday, February 18, 2013


The writing group at Grace Presbyterian recently finished a series on the Five Solas of the Reformation. I had the privilege of writing the article which dealt with Solus Christus.

Solus Christus: Christ Alone

The introductory article on the Five Solas of the Reformation explained that Solus Christus (Christ Alone) teaches that we are saved by Christ and by no one and nothing else. As John Jones wrote, "Only Christ's perfect life and sacrificial death can make us right with God." This week, I want to look at that expression - "Christ alone" - from two different angles.

We live in a culture that insists there are many ways to overcome our fallen state, many paths to a glorified life, many roads to heaven. We hear from politicians, from celebrities, and even from so-called Christian preachers, that all faiths are equally valid. The mentality seems to be that it doesn't matter what you believe or who you follow, as long as you are sincere in your faith, think positively about yourself, and act kindly toward others.

Jesus, however, taught something very different. Speaking to his disciples, Jesus said, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me" (John 14:6). In the book of Acts, we read:  "This Jesus is the stone that was rejected by you, the builders, which has become the cornerstone. And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must by saved" (Acts 4:11-12). The apostle John tells us that "God gave us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life" (1 John 5:11-12). Could Scripture be any clearer? Christ alone is the way of salvation. To teach anything else is to teach a lie.

Now, not only is it true that we find salvation in no one but Christ - not in Allah or in the Buddha or in our own inner goodness - but it is also true that Christ saves us by Himself, without any help from us. Our salvation is not accomplished by a joint effort between us and Jesus, where we do our part and He does His part. No, our salvation is accomplished completely and absolutely by Christ, and by Christ alone.

Some churches today teach that we are saved in part by our good works, but, again, that is contrary to what we read in Scripture. Citing the psalmist, Paul tells us in Romans 3:10-11, "None is righteous, no not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one." Paul continues in verse 20, "For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin." Without Christ, we are dead! Without the quickening of the Holy Spirit, we can neither choose to trust Christ nor can we do any good work! How can dead men do anything to accomplish even the smallest bit of their own salvation?

No, our salvation is God's work, accomplished in Christ alone, and by Christ alone. "But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made  us alive together with Christ..." (Ephesians 2:4-5). Paul writes in Philippians 3:  "Indeed, I count everything loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake...I count them (Paul's good works) as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith..." (Philippians 3:8-9).

Christ alone. Yes, that is an offensive particularity to some. But to the Christian, Solus Christus is a source of peace with God, eternal security, and glorious doxology.

Remember, sinner, it is not thy hold of Christ that saves thee - it is Christ; it is not thy joy in Christ that saves thee - it is Christ; it is not even faith in Christ, though that is the instrument - it is Christ's blood and merits; therefore, look not to thy hope, but to Christ, the source of thy hope; look not to thy faith, but to Christ, the author and finisher of thy faith; and if thou doest that, ten thousand devils cannot throw thee down. - C.H. Spurgeon

Solus Christus. Soli Deo Gloria!

Friday, February 15, 2013


It's been almost three years, so I figure it's okay to repost.  This one is for the new mom in the family!

(originally posted May 14, 2010)

The June/July 2010 Reader's Digest reports in "Health News You Can Use" that "Slow breathing seems to damp down the body's stress reactions, such as a faster heart rate and higher blood pressure..." (p. 92, article by Beth Howard) Moms have known this for ages. How many times, as a child, did you hear your mom inhale deeply and then blow out slowly when faced with some new disaster? How often have you, as a mother, done the very same thing? Breathe deeply. Breathe slowly. Stay calm and focused. Maybe that's why they teach controlled breathing in prepared childbirth classes - not just to help you in labor-and-delivery, but also.... the nursery, during that first week of breastfeeding when everything is still - ayiiie! - tender. the pediatrician's office, when you're helping restrain a furious and incredibly strong two-year-old for an unpleasant round of childhood vaccinations. bed, when your four-year-old creeps up next to you in the wee hours of the morning, tells you he has a tummy ache, and then proceeds to throw up all over you and everything else within a five foot radius.

...on the interstate, when you hit heavy traffic on your way to the emergency room with a child who has a severe head injury.

...on the phone, when you're trying to work out a problem with your health insurance company and you've been passed off and then put on hold for the third time since they first answered the call twenty minutes ago. Cue elevator music...wo-oh-oh, Mandy, you came and you gave without taking...BREATHE. the community pool, when your little angel smiles from overhead and then marches resolutely off the end of the high dive. the car, when your fifteen-year-old is merging into interstate traffic for the first time ever. the airport, when you are putting your teenager on an airplane headed to the other side of the world. the checkout lane when, after totaling a two-cart order of groceries, the new clerk grimaces and says, "Oh, no! I just accidentally voided your order!" the dentist's office, when the dentist tells you to relax while he jams that ginormous needle into your jaw. Deep inhale; now, exhale s-l-o-w-l-y. the kitchen, when you discover you've burned the pan of lasagna that is supposed to feed the eight dinner guests who just pulled into the driveway. And you live so far out in the country that "fast food" means you don't have to kill dinner first before cooking it. Take out is not an option. the back pasture, while you are helping your sons splint your husband's grotesquely bent leg before dragging him into the back seat of the car.

...on the front porch, while your neighbor is lambasting you for your sinner-dog's bad behavior. the morning when you first wake up, before you tackle that list of two-hundred forty-seven things you absolutely must get done today. the dark, as you wait for sleep and consider what a blessing it has been to have mothered your children for another day.

Thursday, February 14, 2013


To market, to market, to buy a fat pig,
Home again, home again, jiggity-jig.
-from child's nursery rhyme

No, I have not been "to market" - I've been to Franklin.  And, no, I did not "buy a fat pig" - rather, I had the privilege of welcoming my beautiful granddaughter Geneva into the world!  No, I am not biased.  Geneva looks very much like her mother, and has such a sweet disposition. :)

Although I neither went to market nor caught even a glimpse of a pig (do they even have those in Franklin?), I am now home again.

Being out of pocket for a couple of weeks means that I have been absent from the blog.  Not only was I distracted by the business of Geneva's arrival - definitely more compelling than blogging! - but my computer crashed.  Died.  Dead as a doornail.  Turn it on and you get nothing but a black screen.  (Right now, I am working from my son's laptop.  Thank you, Nate!)  Getting the computer to the shop is on the priority list of things to do today.  Whether my computer can be fixed or I end up having to shop for a new one, I fully intend to be more consistent in showing up here at The Hurricane Report.  Thank you, Dear Readers, for sticking with me through the long silence!

A few thoughts from the past couple of weeks:

Technology is such a huge part of our lives, of my life.  Spend a few days off-line, and you'll come back to an email inbox that could daunt even the stouthearted.  Let's not even talk about the infinity of FaceBook status updates and messages!  And that sick feeling in your stomach when your computer screen goes blue, then black (especially if you are a writer) - is that not enough to make you want to throw up?  Can I hear an "Amen"?!

My kids are incredible.  UH-MAY-ZING.  While I was enjoying time with Emily and her family in Franklin, the five I left behind kept everything running at home.  Planned menus, shopped for groceries, cooked meals.  Cleaned the floors.  Kept up with the laundry.  Took care of my chickens.  Worked out the commute/car pool schedule, and with one less vehicle.  Even helped Helen with her schoolwork so that she didn't get behind in her studies while Mom/the teacher was out of town.  Yes, they are awesome kids whether they do the laundry or not, but it was such a blessing to come off the road last night and find everything running so smoothly.

After giving birth to my youngest daughter just over 13 years ago, I was faced with the reality that I would have no more children.  My childbearing days were behind me.  Even while I celebrated the newest addition to our family (beautiful Helen!), I felt a tremendous sense of loss knowing that there would be no others coming along after her.  Even with seven "arrows" in my quiver, I grieved greatly.  Then, something truly wonderful happened.  My firstborn brought a handsome young man to my house.  He said, "I do" - and I inherited yet another son.  God is so good!  And now, my firstborn and this man have done something else remarkable - they have presented me another daughter, a GRAND daughter.  I rejoice with Naomi, who bounced Obed on her knee!  No, the borders of our family did not freeze, did not become rigid - instead, the border continues to expand in ever widening circles.  It just gets bigger and bigger, better and better.  God is indeed very good!

Final thought for today - I love my husband, Steve, and am thankful we can share this journey together.  It's good to be home, Grandpa!

Friday, February 1, 2013


"I mean this sort of thing.  I say my prayers, I read a book of devotion, I prepare for, or receive, the Sacrament.  But while I do these things, there is, so to speak, a voice inside me that urges caution.  It tells me to be careful, to keep my head, not to go too far, not to burn my boats.  I come into the presence of God with a great fear lest anything should happen to me within that presence which will prove too intolerably inconvenient when I have come out again into my 'ordinary' life.  I don't want to be carried away into any resolution which I shall afterwards regret.  For I know I shall be feeling quite different after breakfast; I don't want anything to happen to me at the altar which will run up too big a bill to pay then.....Even repentance of past acts will have to be paid for.  By repenting, one acknowledges them as sins - therefore not to be repeated.  Better leave that issue undecided." - C.S. Lewis, from "A Slip of the Tongue" (The Weight of Glory)

We have been working through a study Sunday evenings at Grace that has focused the past several weeks on the authority and inerrancy of the Word of God.  Over and over, I have been struck by one terrifying thought:  If this is God's Word, if it is really true, then everything about me and about my world is going to have to change, to be confronted by and conformed to what I find in Scripture.  If the Bible is true, nothing in my life stays the same.

Scripture - God's Word - becomes the axis on which everything turns, the standard by which every thought, every action is measured.  Where I disagree with Scripture, or where I think God's Word makes too big a deal of something I consider insignificant, or where the Bible speaks into issues that I'd rather not address right now - in those places, it is not the Word of God that must change, yield, conform to my preferences and opinions.  It is I who must be changed.

And sometimes, I just don't want to change.

This conflict leads me to a distressing mental dilemma.  If I claim to believe that the Bible is the Word of God, and then I deliberately and flagrantly disregard the claims it makes on my life, then I don't really believe what I profess.  How can I know what I really believe, deep down in my heart?  Well, the old saying goes, "Actions speak louder than words."  My actions, as opposed to what I say with my mouth, reveal what I truly believe in my heart.  My continued disobedience, my denial of God's claims on my life - all of my life - reveal that I believe something very different from what I profess: that God is not who He says He is, or that the Bible is not really His Word, or that God just doesn't mean what He says.  Either I am lying - or God is lying.

Folks, it's NOT God.

But I argue, "My sin is no big deal.  It's not that bad.  I'm living under grace, right?, so it's covered already anyway.  God understands."

"If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.  If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.  If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us." - 1 John 1:8-10

My little sin is no big deal?  It is an outrageous offense to the holy Creator of the Universe, and because of my "little" sin, I justly deserve God's condemnation and wrath.  Believing anything else is, in essence, calling God a liar.

Thankfully, God is merciful.  He sent Jesus.  Thankfully, Jesus bore God's condemnation and wrath for me.  He was the propitiation for my sins (1 John 2:2).

How can I view such love and not be heart-broken over my sin?  How can I possibly continue with "business as usual"?  How can I put off "deciding the issue", as Lewis would put it?

How could I ever go "too far" at the altar of God?

Lord, I believe. Help my unbelief.  Light the fire, and help me burn the boats.