The Abomination of Man-Centered Worship

I googled the term God is always there for you. Page after page of results came back. According to Google, it pulled 203,000,000 results. Obviously it is a subject folks are interested in. And it’s one that is widely misunderstood.

God is sovereign. He is omnipresent. He loves His people. Christians can always count on His presence, His concern and His care. All of these things are true. Nonetheless, we must be careful as we tread on this ground for dangers lurk close-by. “God is always there for you” can easily be changed into “God is there for you–no matter what”.

Stretching the meaning causes us to go where God Himself hasn’t gone, thus leading us into the dangerous ground of the man-centered gospel. In this abominable transaction, the Great I AM becomes a dottering Santa Claus, generous and kind, forgetful of any wrongs and with no naughty list of any kind.

Scripture says that when Christ saves us we become new creatures, a holy people set aside for the Lord’s purposes. But that’s old-fashioned, isn’t it? The updated man-centered gospel has a more comfortable approach to Christianity. God saves us but doesn’t necessarily change us. We are saved from our sins but not necessarily from sinning. All this and God doesn’t demand very much of us. If we don’t have time to pray, God will gladly accept whatever snippet of prayer we throw at Him. Since our lives are so busy and we really don’t have time to study the Bible, five minutes a day is just fine. Or if that’s too much, you can always just read in The One-Minute Bible. God understands and, no matter what, God will still be there for you.

Or, if all of this is just too much, go to that abomination called a Christian book store and buy yourself a book that sets out God’s Word in portions of one or two sentences and explains the Scriptures and applies them to our oh-so-busy me-centered lives. Most even come with a prayer written out for you at the end of the section so you can take care of everything all at once. Such books are called devotionals, an unfortunate misuse of the term since a real devotional is God-centered and, instead of explaining God’s Word in terms of our lives, it explains our lives in terms of His Word, causing us to think upon His truth with wonder and amazement. A true devotional is a treasure. What often passes for one today is blasphemous.

I saw a post someone had made the other day saying that he had proof that prayer didn’t work for if it did, there would be a lot more lottery winners. I felt like weeping. But that kind of blasphemous thought from the world is to be expected with so much blasphemy coming out of our churches. Most of the things coming out of our churches is man-centered. From our programs to our praise bands, from our preaching (it hurts to even call it that) to our prayers, all of what passes as worship revolves, not around the Lord of the Universe, but around us. What we want is of paramount importance and, since God “just wants us to be happy”, almost anything goes. He Who never changes is thought to be changeable when it comes to pleasing us.

God is always there for us. God sends blessings even to the unjust. But just because He’s always there doesn’t mean He accepts everything we do. It doesn’t mean He’s happy with our me-centered approach to His Word. And it doesn’t change the fact that, while God sent His Son as Savior the first time around, the next time Jesus comes, He’ll be coming as Judge. And He’ll judge us by the Bible, that same Book that far too many of us seem happy to twist this way and that in order to please ourselves. If we want to be pleasing to the Lord, He must first be our Lord. Our efforts to mold Him and His Word to please ourselves are heartbreaking. He’s God. We’re not. Therefore our lives, our worship, indeed everything about us is for Him and not for us. The abomination of man-centered worship must be done away with. In its place, we must return to giving God the glory, the love, the obedience He not only demands but deserves.

Life Is Not About Cute Shoes



Galatians 6: 2, Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ.

Women and shoes, in the American mind, go together. We’re thought to have fortyleven pairs of shoes in our closets while longing for more. Most women aren’t like this, of course, but some are. One family member never cared whether her cute shoes actually fit her feet or not. She only cared if they looked cute on her. Even her discomfort didn’t matter; just her image. I just don’t get that kind of thinking. Life isn’t about cute shoes or anything else that might captivate us. It’s just not. It’s about obeying God. It’s about loving our Christian brethren enough to come along side of them, help bear their burdens and serve them (and let them love and serve us).

There’s a hurting world out there that needs Christ, also. If we can take our minds off of our shoes (or golf, work, cleaning the house, or our problems) long enough, we might realize that. No matter how hard off we are, there are others, so many others, who are much worse off than we are. Some are worse off because they have less. Some are worse off because those that ought to love them and care for them (husbands, wives, parents, family, fellow Christians) don’t. Whatever the reason, we need to do something about it. Today, somewhere, there is someone who needs your prayers. Someone who needs a kind word, a listening ear, a hug. Someone who needs a meal, that extra outfit hanging in your closet, a ride for a job interview. Someone who needs you to show them the Christ that they may have only heard of (or may have never heard of at all).

Life isn’t about cute shoes. And it’s not about me or you, either. It’s about Christ. Let’s get in the Word and get to know Him. Search it and let it search us. Then let us live it. While you’re pondering ways that you might do just that, ponder these statistics:

About 50,000,000 Americans live below the poverty line (defined by the government as a family of four earning $23,550)

Approximately three million Americans are homeless in any given year

One in 45 children in America experience homelessness each year

Four children die every day in the United States as a result of neglect or abuse

One in four American women will experience domestic violence in her lifetime

Domestic violence is the cause of death to 1 in 3 murdered women in the U.S. (either by their present or former partner)

Some of the people in these statistics  are members of the Lord’s church. Some might be members of your church. Some are members of your community. How are you serving them? How am I?

Life isn’t just about cute shoes, ladies. It’s not just about sports, either, guys. It’s not about cars, tools, furniture, or clothes. It’s not about getting stuff. It’s not about fun. It’s not about us at all. It’s about Jesus. It’s about conforming to His image, obeying His will and doing His bidding. When the Gospel is obeyed, we become ones who do good. Christ has told us to go forth. He has told us to do good “especially unto them who are the household of faith” (Galatians 6: 10). We are to feed the hungry, clothe the naked and protect the oppressed (Matthew 25: 34-46; Psalms 72: 4).) First we serve our own, then we serve others.

Christ has  said that if we love Him, we will obey Him (John 14: 15). It’s time we chunk the cute shoes and start obeying, don’t you think?

photo via

Praising God as Billows Roll

Job 1: 20, 21, Then Job arose, and rent his mantle, and shaved his head, and fell down upon the ground, and worshipped, And said, Naked came I out of my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return thither: the Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.


Sometimes it seems like the raging billows will never cease their relentless destruction. These long years of little have wrecked havoc over our lives. Bills remain unpaid. The cupboards are nearly bare. The only means of transportation barely transports. The dryer is broken. And now, three days ago, the refrigerator stopped working.

Will it never end?

I don’t know. I know that things breaking, not being able to pay bills in a timely fashion, not having the things we need when we need them, these are things that will pass. But they are still things that matter to us. They are things that concern, that play on the mind at 3:00 in the morning.

They are also things best given over to prayer. They are reasons to praise the Lord. The Lord gives, the Lord takes away. Blessed be the Name of the Lord. So said Job. So say I.

And I do praise Him. I will continue to do so for the Lord is good no matter what havoc the billows are wrecking. He is good always and in all ways, no matter what.

The temporal things that bother us are, just that, temporal. More pressing on my heart is the spiritual state of some I love and the emotional havoc they leave in their wake. Are they blind or do they not care? Some days I think I know; other days, I’m simply not sure. Added to the other problems, sometimes, if it weren’t for God, it would all just be too much.

But there is God. No matter what, there is God. He is good. He remains good. Even as the billows churn out their destruction.

Life leaves all of us broken at one point or another. At those times, we have a choice. We can join Job in praising the Lord no matter what. Or we can wallow in our complaint, thus blaspheming Him.

I know which one I’m choosing.

Soli Deo gloria!


Blessed With Less

My last post was about my experience as a food stamps Mom. I just want to clarify that not everyone has been cruel. I’ve been blessed in so many ways. I’ve been blessed by so many people. There are people who have been so kind to my family. Their kindness has made my heart sing.

It’s true our family doesn’t have much but I didn’t write my previous article to complain about that. I wrote it to get people to think, to differentiate between takers and those who are truly in need, and to help them see what it feels like on this side of the fence.

As for me, I’m blessed. There are things we want and need, that can’t be denied. But what we lack in material things, God has more than made up for it by letting us come to know Him as our Provider. I go into the kitchen some days and the cupboard is so bare and I wonder how on earth I’m going to feed my hungry family. Then out of the blue, God puts it on someone’s heart to give us a few dollars and we’re able to buy the ingredients for a meal. This kind of thing has happened again and again and again. There’ve been times that we’ve not been able to meet the rent and were threatened by eviction. Other times the utilities were going to be cut off . Each and every time someone would come through for us. Without our asking for help, God sends it. For every person who has been unkind to us, there have been just as many (or more) who have blessed us with prayers, with cash, with food, with kindness.

Since so many are on food stamps, our allotment has gone down by half. It is now even harder than ever to make them stretch. The amount we get barely feeds us for one week. The rest of the month we depend on God to provide. Sometimes He sends us to the store with just a few dollars in our pockets and directs us to a fantastic sale. Sometimes someone blesses us with something. Other times I’ve discovered something in the freezer that I had no idea was there (that one always amazes me; it’s like finding money in a wallet you knew was bare).

Poverty hurts. Poverty is overwhelming and depressing at times. But poverty is also a blessing. I’ll be honest, I’m not sure it’s a blessing I would have asked for (but then so many of my blessings have come hidden as burdens and pain). When we can’t do, God does. When we can’t provide, God provides. I heard a preacher get up once and talk about the Lord’s prayer, about trusting God for our daily provision and he admitted that he had no idea how to do that because he’d never had to. He went on to say that he imagined that most in the room that day had no idea about it, either. But I did. I still do.

Because my father was an abusive drunk, he never even tried to take care of my mother and me. We spent five years running from him, being found, going back, only to run again. When we settled down in my mother’s hometown of Tallassee, AL, we didn’t have anything. I was sick all of the time, so sick the doctors were sure I was going to die in childhood. My mother had tremendous health problems of her own. We never had much of anything but God took care of us. My husband and I have never had much (mostly because instead of material blessings, we chose to have the blessing of children). These last nearly nine years, we’ve had almost nothing. Our furniture is old and falling apart. Our van is on its last legs. Our dryer usually doesn’t work. We’re always in need of something, be it food, clothing or household items. But you know what? I’m blessed. We’re blessed.

I’m blessed beyond measure. I’m blessed by my Lord Who loves us and takes care of us. I’m blessed to go through extreme poverty because it has made my heart far more tender than it once was. It has helped me to see how others struggle, to care about their problems. I’m blessed by my family; I love them so much. It hurts to see my children do without things they really need. At the same time I’m amazed by my youngest children’s resilience. They’ve grown up in poverty yet they are happy. They can do so much with so little. They make my heart sing, too.

So, yes, I’m blessed with less, abundantly blessed even. I’d like more and hopefully some day we’ll have more but I’ll never want the kind of things I once wanted. They just don’t mean that much. God is important. People are important. My family is important. Things? Not so much unless they are things that can be used to improve one’s life in some way or are used to help others. To have something just to have it is way over rated. I’m also blessed with less because God has used our poverty to bring glory to Himself and to show me the kindness that His people can sometimes bestow on those who really need it.

God bless you all.

Soli Deo gloria!

Food Stamp Moms and Grace

Purse of despair_1I’m the woman who was in front of you in the check out line at the grocery store today. My cart was  filled with reduced price items and things I could get on sale with coupons. Redeeming my coupons slowed things down. My children were tired and hungry. It took a while to check out, longer than I’d hoped. To top it off, I paid with food stamps. I saw your arched eyebrows as you counted my children. I saw you shaking your head as I produced the EBT card. I heard your sigh as you looked at it and back at me. It’s alright. I’m used to those looks. I’ve been a food stamps Mom for many years.

The first year we were on food stamps, I wouldn’t even stay by the register as my husband checked out. I was too ashamed. I didn’t want to deal with the scorn from shoppers who’d never had to use food stamps a day in their lives and who couldn’t understand why I was using them. I didn’t want the pitying glances we sometimes received. Scorn is actually easier to take. These days I’m hardened to it all.

There are charlatans on food stamps, of that there is no doubt. Users, takers, abusers of the system who make it hard for all of us. I’m not one of them. A lot of us aren’t one of them. Our family, like many, suffered an economic downturn several years ago from which, so far, we’ve not managed to pull out.

I pinch my pennies. I count every dime. I use coupons when I can. I shop sales. I look for dented cans, reduced price meat, bruised vegetables and bags of fruit that have been marked down. I have many recipes for inexpensive meals and I use them all. Nonetheless, the money never goes far enough. We struggle through month after month. My husband works full-time. Since I’m a homeschooling Mom with a plethora of health problems, working outside our home is difficult for me but I do what I can  to bring in a few dollars here and there. I work hard to save money. We do without a lot of things we need simply to stay afloat. Still we struggle.

I know it might frustrate some that we’re on food stamps. I understand that. I’m frustrated myself. I thought we’d be off of them long before now. I do my best to make do, to be creative, to stretch ingredients but there comes a point beyond which you simply can’t stretch things anymore. Because we still struggle I’ve been told to put my children in school and get a job. I’ve been talked down to and yelled at. I’ve been told we should sell our car and buy an old one when all we have is an old–very old–van with many problems; it’s only by God’s grace that it still runs. We’ve been told that we should move to the poor side of town in order to save money on rent; the speaker didn’t realize that’s where we already live. I’ve been told that I’m lazy, that we’re selfish, that we’re takers. You know what? I feel like a taker but I’m not. I’m poor. We’re poor. There are many with far less than we have but we have far less than most folks I know. At least we did until folks started losing their jobs right and left. Until our economy tanked. Now there are many people without a job or without a decently paying  job who are struggling to make ends meet. Many who are doing without, moving to the poor side of town and selling their nice car for an old beater. Many of them are having to go through the initial shame of being on food stamps for the first time. Some of them are Moms. I feel for them. I know that shame myself.

If you see us in the store and feel irritation rising that a Mom of so many is getting the government to help support her family, stop and put yourself in my shoes. Things happened that I couldn’t control. I’ve done the best I could and still it’s not enough. It has to be though for there simply isn’t any more. I don’t need pity. I don’t deserve your scorn. Neither do any of the other food stamp Moms struggling to make ends meet, doing their best to provide for their children in a frightening economy. I, and they, need your prayers. We need a dose of grace. A smile of kindness rather than of pity. A word of encouragement rather than of condemnation. Perhaps your friendship.

There may be takers, there are probably lots of them, but if you don’t know my story, how do you know if I’m a taker or if I’m a Mom struggling to stay afloat for just one more day? When it is all boiled down, that’s who I really am: I’m just a Mom who loves her children and who’ll do whatever it takes to take care of them, even if it means bearing the shame of accepting food stamps in order to put food on our table.

God’s grace to you.


Soli Deo gloria

Who, Me, Teach Younger Women? Get Somebody Else

Good morning dear sisters, I’ve got a question that I’d like you to ponder. Are you comfortable with being or preparing to be a Titus 2 woman and all that that implies? Do you get excited when reading through Titus 2, realizing that the commands to be reverent, pure, self-controlled, among others, and to teach those things to the younger women are meant for you? Or does the whole thing overwhelm you?

It is overwhelming sometimes, isn’t it? Have you prayerfully considered all that Titus 2: 3-5 demands of older women? If not, read it now:

Titus 2: 3-5, Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled. (ESV)

God is asking a lot of us. Well, actually He isn’t asking at all. These are commands, not suggestions. God isn’t asking us to do these things; He’s commanding us to. Why then do so many older Christian ladies fail to obey Him?

I believe that part of it is that some of us just don’t feel qualified to teach anything to anyone. Perhaps no one ever taught us how to cook, clean or organize. Maybe we struggle to love our husband and our children as we are told “a good wife” ought to. Maybe our houses are a mess, our banking account something out of our nightmares and our family has worked through every single flavor of frozen pizza available.

Or maybe we’re afraid of questions that we can’t answer. Maybe we don’t have a good grasp as to why God commanded thus and so or why He did some things He did. Perhaps we don’t know the difference between hermeneutics and exegesis. Maybe we’re shaky when it comes to apologetics. How in the world can we “teach what is good” when we aren’t so sure of things ourselves?

For others of us, it isn’t just what we don’t know, or that we don’t feel qualified to teach, but that our lives are lived outside of what some might consider the Christian norm for adult women–maybe we’re married to a man who isn’t a Christian, or we’re a single Mom, part of a blended family or have never been married. Or maybe we’re unsure of our place or our place overwhelms us:  all of our children have flown the nest or we’re right in the throes of the busiest part of motherhood.

Or maybe it’s just us. Maybe  the word introvert was invented to describe us and we’re intensely uncomfortable calling attention to ourselves. Whatever it is, maybe because of these reasons–or some others that we consider equally compelling–many of us have decided that God’s mandate to “teach the younger women” doesn’t apply to us.

Our excuses don’t cut it. The command applies to any mature Christian woman. If you are young in your faith or immature in your faith, then you are the one needing guidance and God not only understands that but has made provision for you by commanding others to teach you. But if you are a Christian and are mature in your understanding, then you’ve got no option: a teacher of what is good you must be.

It’s not as hard as we might think. This isn’t about making a list and working through it. It’s not about having answers to every single question a younger woman might have. It’s not about keeping a perfectly clean house, raising children who are well behaved every single moment of the day or always being “on”.  It doesn’t mean we have to deny who we are and put on a mask in order to please others. We do need a deep and growing faith and the things that are important to God must be important to us or we have no business teaching anything. But the rest can be worked on. While step-by-step instruction is part of what younger women need, it’s not meant to be the starting place. It’s not the finishing line either. The “good things” you are commanded to teach flows from knowing and obeying Jesus. If you know Him and you can make Him known, then you are giving younger women the most important thing they need.

If we approach Titus 2 as a list of things to teach, we’ll quickly fall into legalism or find more excuses to not obey; after all, if it’s a list to work through and we don’t know how to do this or that, no one can blame us for not doing it. But we needn’t worry; it’s not about what we know, it’s about Who we know. The most important thing for us to teach the younger women is to know Christ. We don’t have to be university taught to be able to teach that. Our Mamas didn’t have to teach us anything either. We just have to know and love Christ enough to want to make Him known to our sisters.

And remember, ladies, there’s a lot of value in just being there for younger women as they walk the paths you’ve already tread, a lot to be said for being a listening ear or offering smiles and hugs at opportune moments. Most of all, there’s a lot to be said just for wanting to be pleasing to our Lord and serving those He has put in our paths. I encourage you to join me in striving to be the woman these words from Proverbs can be said about:

Proverbs 31: 30 – 31, Favour is deceitful, and beauty is vain: but a woman that feareth the Lord, she shall be praised. Give her of the fruit of her hands; and let her own works praise her in the gates.

What are your suggestions? How can we encourage the older women to teach the younger women? What do you think younger women need most of all from older women? Are you willing to step up to teach those willing to be taught?