The disparity between works and rewards…and getting past that

We sat in the Connections class this past Sunday evening, listening to one of the men of the church tell his story. He told of growing up in church and in various church schools, coming to Christ at an early age. I sat, fixed upon him as he talked. His story was uncannily similar to my own.

I leaned forward in my chair. He told of being the first born in his family and his natural bent toward following the rules. And with every statement, I related. It was the same life I’d led, even up to the same college.

He then told of the tragedy that happened in his early 20’s. His wife left and there was         brokenness, a divorce. He said that he couldn’t figure out what happened because

 he’d done everything right and bad things don’t happen when you do things right.

He said that he’d thought of God as a “cosmic pez dispenser” – you put the good works in and the blessings come out. He said that this tragedy didn’t fit into that box.

But, he said God had changed his thinking.

The more he spoke, the more I realized that I’d been thinking the same way. Completely      different situation, but the same horribly skewed thought process.

You see, I’ve complained and grumbled about our home for years. Not always verbally, but God knows my heart.

And, finally one day the discontent in my heart spilled out of my mouth and sounded like this:

Why! Why do we live in such a tiny house that needs so much work and you’ve yet to make a way to move!? Why when I’ve done everything RIGHT? I go to church, I stay home with my kids, we home-school, I had children instead of pursuing a career – ALL THE RIGHT THINGS.

Instead of being thankful for the amazing work in our life (salvation, anyone?) I’d been focusing on my works and my reward.

My Works….my works are nothing in light of the Cross. My works are nothing but ash. They’re ash because it is Christ and His work alone that has redeemed my soul.

I’m still thinking through all this. I wish that I could say that my thinking has miraculously changed. But I know that a sin pattern that has taken years to establish is not just going to go away over night.

Thankfully, God’s grace is sufficient for me and His strength is made perfect in weakness.

So, I pray for grace and for His name to be glorified through my feebleness.


recovering fundamentalist

Striving for Rest


recovering fundamentalist

The last few days have left me raw. God is stripping back layers of incorrect of thinking and is enabling me to finally put into words this uphill struggle. I’ve been striving for rest.

A friend has spurred me on to write more about this and then this morning the sermon on Christ’s Rest that Peter preached, added to this line of thought.

I hesitate to even write the words, to admit this to you. But here it is. I don’t understand the Gospel and I don’t know if I will without the divine intervention of the Holy Spirit.

The Gospel was presented to me in such a skewed way, to those of us that grew up in Fundamental circles. This sounds like I’m making a broad assumption but we attended 4 different Fundamental Baptist Churches due to moves and they all taught the same thing.

Here’s some background.

Witnessing was in important part of our life. Some people called it “door-knocking”. Basically you went door-to-door passing out informational pamphlets and asking folks if “you died today, do you know where you would spend eternity? If they answered ‘no’, we proceeded to ask them if they wanted to go to heaven (well, sure, duh, who wouldn’t?) Then we told them how – just pray this prayer, God will forgive your sins, and you’ll get your ticket to heaven.

We did talk about sin and how we all have it. But the emphasis was more about what we wanted rather than what God wanted ( a ticket to heaven vs. a restoration of fellowship and a child who glorified His name) .

The Gospel was presented falsely. It was presented in a way that appealed to my greed and pride. Yes, my sin was pointed out, but it was such a minor player in the whole presentation.

The emphasis of ‘come as you are – there’s no need to change’ was at the fore-front. But that changed once you got saved and started attending church.

Just picture a line of men and one for women. They’re headed into church thinking they’re accepted by the ‘church people’ but upon getting to the door something happens. They’re handed the essentials – a Bible, jumper or suit and tie, and a list of ‘do’s and don’ts’. Both are welcomed in now that they’ve changed.

We were naive.

We thought the one’s who lead us to Christ were representative of what Christ said and did. We had to meet their expectations for what a ‘good’ Christian was.

Therefore we were meeting the expectations of Christ.

Along with the meeting of expectations came the measure of spirituality. This lead to pride. If you went ‘witnessing’, attended every service, didn’t go to movies, listened to the right music, wore the right clothes, etc., you were a ‘good Christian’ and had the right to judge those who didn’t go those things.

It was always about performance. If I pleased the others then surely I was pleasing God. And, when I fell from their graces, I, in turn, fell from God’s.

This is not the Gospel!

This is not rest – this is striving. Always striving.

And if I’m constantly striving – viewing my works as the measure of my spirituality, viewing my works as the measure of my stance before Christ – I am not entering into His rest but am going back to the Law and am living in bondage.

The Cross and Bondage cannot dwell together. Because if I’m living in the bondage of works, then I’m saying that the work that He did on the Cross wasn’t enough.

That is living a lie.

Hebrews 4 lays it out there for us in verses 9-10:

So there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God. For the one who has entered His rest has himself also rested from his works, as God did from His.

Let that sink in – We enter into His rest and in turn rest from our works. We rest from our works.

21 versions of the same verse say the same thing.

When I think of entering into Christ’s rest, I picture myself standing on the outside waiting to be asked into the Hall labeled “Christ’s Rest”, not realizing that I’ve been holding an invitation in my hand the whole time.

How did I miss this? I’ve read Hebrews many times and not once has this stood out to me. But now the Holy Spirit is slowly showing me this beautiful truth. He’s guiding my eyes to the invitation in my hand that says I can now enter into His rest.

your're invited

The striving is over.



Fear of Worship – Thoughts from a Recovering Fundamentalist

Every night before my boys go to sleep we have prayer – “little prayer” as they like to call it. I pray first and they say theirs. I noticed that they repeated some of the phrases I used and copied the references to the Father. They are learning to pray through my prayers – a very sobering thought indeed.

And today I realized again that they are learning something else from us – how to worship our King.

I stood in Sunday service singing and watching others praise the Lord with arms raised. They were lifting holy hands to the Lord in worship.

And, as I looked around I did a double take because beside a man with hand held high, was a child lifting his hand in worship. Right then I knew something deep in my heart –  that was what I wanted for my children. I want them to have the freedom to worship their King.

Can I tell you something? I still don’t have that freedom – fear still holds me back. Lifting our hands wasn’t part of our worship growing up. You didn’t get excited when you sang because we didn’t want to be ‘like the Pentecostals’. But really, what is so horribly sinful about getting excited when we sing about the Glory of the Father? He is our Creator and He saved our sorry souls – that in and of itself makes me want shout Hallelujah with the best of them.

Just as we teach our children when we pray, we teach them how to worship when we sing.

This scares me because I know that in order for them to learn how to worship freely, I must be free of the fear that restrains me.

We are teaching our children everyday how to pray, worship, praise, sing. Know that I am praying for you as you undertake this weighty task. God’s grace is sufficient though, and His strength is made perfect in our weakness.

This is the second installment in the series “Thoughts from a Recovering Fundamentalist” Please feel free to comment or relate your experiences.


recovering fundamentalist

A Recovering Fundamentalist

This post is the first in a series titled “Thoughts from a Recovering Fundamentalist – Grace vs. Legalism”.  Please feel free to comment especially if you’ve ever experienced something similar.


Today I was given a new label “Recovering Fundamentalist”. We recently changed churches in the last year, from a non-denominational, but very traditional church to a more modern church. Our previous church was still very much like what my husband and I grew up in, though we did feel rather rebellious attending a non-denominational church, with an elder board, of all things.  We were veering away from what was ‘right’.

God grew us there though and taught us about His Sovereignty, His Grace, His choosing us, and how ultimately is is all done for the Glory of the Father. EVERYTHING. We grew up with ‘Why did Christ die on the cross? Because He loved us!’ And, yes, that’s true, but the bigger answer to the ‘why’ is because of the Glory of the Father. I still don’t quite understand, but just rehearsing this thought brings tears to my eyes and makes me want to fall on my face in humility, awe, and wonder of the God who created me and quickened me to life.

Over the past couple of years we’ve been feeling a need for change, because even though God was fixing the broken teaching we’d been brought up with, there was still something wrong. Very few people, that I could see, were real. We all put on our best clothes and best faces and did church. I never felt as if we went to worship, we just went to say that we went. Prayer requests would be given and I wondered how off axis we’d be rocked if I stood up and asked for prayer. Not for illness but because of sin. I can just hear the crickets now – “Hi, my name is Danielle and I have a problem with anger, impatience, pride, and lust”.

 We didn’t act like the broken sinners Jesus had redeemed, but like people who didn’t have any problems.

So we left and started attending this different church. And, for the first time in a really long time, I felt like I could breathe. People were actually excited to be singing! They were excited to worship our King. And to top it off, they were admitting their sin struggles. I had never seen that in all my years of attending church. I’d never known anyone to admit to any sin after they’d been saved.

As beautiful as all of this was it scared me to death because eventually, my sin would have to be revealed and dealt with. (And just so you know, something that has taken me a long time to learn is that Me, Myself, and I, do not a body of believers make.) This admitting my sin thing was completely foreign to me. We had learned to judge others and thank God we weren’t like ‘them’. So, in my mind, if I revealed sin issues, I was putting myself out there to be judged, because isn’t that what ‘good’ Christians do, judge each other? And that thought made me want to crawl out of my skin. It made me weep.

I don’t know much about addiction, but I do know that if you’re addicted to something you keep going back to it. When you try to give it up, your given the label Recovering _______.  So, to be labeled a ‘Recovering Fundamentalist’ seems rather accurate. And like any recovering addict there are times that I return to my old habits, the incorrect thought patterns, the pride, the judgement, the sin. I used to thank God that I didn’t have the sin baggage that some people have to deal with. But I wonder if ‘church’ baggage is just as difficult.

But God’s grace is sufficient, isn’t it ? It’s sufficient even for a Recovering Fundamentalist.


recovering fundamentalist