I Have A Secret!

The secret to powerful, intercessory prayer.  The secret to a powerful prophetic vision.  The secret to being a powerful prayer warrior. The secret to winning at spiritual warfare. The secret to hearing God more clearly. The secret to receiving healing from heaven. How to hear Jesus calling.  This list is just an example of books written to Christians that I found on a popular online bookseller. I couldn’t help but notice a common theme amongst these books – they create the need for a higher and more mystical kind of experience that the average Christian must be missing out on. I mean – don’t we all want a powerful experience to brag – I mean talk about?

The church at Colossae, like the church today, was in danger of being deceived by people who came in claiming secret knowledge and a more powerful experience. Paul, never willing to see Christians fall into heresy, warns them strongly about the dangers of being dragged into such supposedly higher levels of spirituality.

Paul shows the Colossians that the mystery that was hidden has been revealed to His saints – all of them. No secret inner circle here.  What is that mystery? Christ in you – the hope of glory Col 1:27. In Col 2:2-4 we are told that Paul’s struggle is: “2 that their hearts may be encouraged, having been knit together in love, and attaining to all the wealth that comes from the full assurance of understanding, resulting in a true knowledge of God’s mystery, that is, Christ Himself, 3 in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. The warning comes in v 4: “I say this so that no one will delude you with persuasive argument.”

False teachers are persuasive. They have something to sell and they know how to create a sense of missing out in us. I’ve been there in my Christian life but thankfully, was kept from falling into the heresy by the grace and mercy of God and a couple of His faithful preachers of the Word. Never underestimate the power of a preacher who is faithful to handle the Word accurately. They may not be the most exciting, but electrifying is a sales pitch – its rarely faithful preaching. Beware when your emotions are always being stirred up and it has to be exciting or you aren’t interested.

Paul goes on to warn us not to be taken captive through philosophy and empty deception because in Christ we have been made complete. There is no need for more experiences, more power, and more secret knowledge. In Christ you have been made complete.

He further warns in Col 2:18 “Let no one keep defrauding you of your prize by delighting in self-abasement and the worship of the angels, taking his stand on visions he has seen, inflated without cause by his fleshly mind, 19 and not holding fast to the head, from whom the entire body, being supplied and held together by the joints and ligaments, grows with a growth which is from God.”

If you are wondering about why you don’t need all these mysterious, powerful experiences in your Christian life do this. Read the book of Colossians and write down everything that is yours in Christ. Once you see all that is already true of you in Christ, you will be better equipped to spot the false teacher with something to sell you. And by the way – sell is right, they always want money from you it seems.

The truth is simple. God is not playing hide and seek with us. He wants us to grow in grace, truth and holiness. In His infinite kindness, He has provided us with the means to do so. It’s no big secret. In fact, for over 2000 years the true church has clung to these ordinary means of grace with thankfulness and joy. What are they?  The ministry of the Word by a properly appointed elder on the Lord’s Day, the public reading of Scripture, corporate prayer, corporate confession and assurance of pardon, corporate singing, the sacraments of baptism and the Lord’s supper. Plain and simple. No mystery, no secrets for a select few, no confetti cannons, no gold dust. And yet, these are so very powerful in the life of the true believer.

So when the new preacher comes to town promising that he or she has the secret to a more powerful, mystical walk with the Lord you should hear alarm bells going off. The simple truth is that we have everything in Christ. In Him you have been made complete.  There is no powerful secret to transforming your Christian life. God’s ordinary means of grace are sufficient for all believers. Do not neglect these and you will experience all the power and love that Christ has to offer.

Home Decor

Minimalism and Home Décor

More thoughts from my lovely daughter in law. 

I have found myself at a very transitional phase of life. Nearing mid-thirties and about to have my fourth child, I have opted to pursue a minimalist lifestyle. However, I have also adopted several other interests that I am currently trying to reconcile with my new minimalist mindset. I enjoy woodworking and refinishing furniture, I am also (slowly) decorating my house in a modern farmhouse style that I love. With all the different interests I often find myself torn between wanting to update the décor in my house and not wanting to accumulate anymore things.

My décor style before I adopted modern farmhouse was nonexistent. I was a bargain shopper and would often end up purchasing items simply because the price was right. I paid no mind to how it would fit into a cohesive design nor whether it was needed or even really wanted. Since discovering the beauty of the farmhouse look I have set my mind on how I can really create a unified space.  Since then, I have gotten rid of a lot of items that I was holding onto either for utilitarian purposes or simply because I couldn’t bring myself to throw them away. One of the pieces I recently parted with was a rather large ottoman. I really did like this piece of furniture and had moved it to several different places in our home trying to make it work. In the end, I conceded that it just wasn’t useful to us. It ended up being a source of discontentment for me because it always seemed to be in the way. Since getting rid of it, I haven’t missed it. In fact, our living space is much more appealing to me without it and I enjoy being in the space more. As with many descriptions from beginning minimalists, when I finally bring myself to throw things away, it is as if a weight has been lifted off my shoulders. I feel lighter … despite being 38 weeks along with baby #4!

The balance I have found is between letting things go and consciously deciding what I want to complete my modern farmhouse vision. I now don’t look for bargains, necessarily, but I look for things that I truly love. If something I am interested in costs more than about $30, I wait. I don’t buy things impulsively, but wait until I am in a good spot financially and emotionally to make the purchase. While I wait to purchase an item, I can determine if I really want/need it and often end up not buying it. Without the purchase, I am contributing to my minimalist pursuit. If I do make the purchase, I do so without regret.

The other part that I love is making my own things to fit into the space. I appreciate the beauty of the object and it is more meaningful because it was crafted by my own hands. With 3 kids, I don’t always get everything built that I plan. Nor does it happen as fast as I would like. This again, adds to the minimalism in my home. In my living room, I made the farmhouse clock over the couch using a cable spool I got for free and I made the side tables from some “junk” wood I found in the back of a friend’s truck (that was set to be thrown away). There are stories behind these pieces that make them special to me. They look beautiful, are useful, but also remind me of people that I love.

I am not sure if “minimalist modern farmhouse” is a recognized design style, but I think that is how I would most accurately describe my style. As with the concept of minimalism in general, I have adapted design ideas to suit my own personal desires. I want to create a home that needs little maintenance in the short-term and the long-term. For instance, when looking at a strictly farmhouse style, though I love the look, often the spaces are filled up in every corner. Although they are filled with beautiful pieces, when I see this, all I can think about is having to dust all those items. Another thing I see, is how often a space is redecorated by people. Rather than continually changing the space to keep my interest; I would rather spend time creating a space that my family can enjoy for a long time without putting forth any more effort to change it.

For me, balance is a necessity in my minimalist journey. Balance between bringing in new and getting rid of the old. Balance between wanting to live in a beautiful space with my family and not spending all my time cleaning that space nor all my money decorating that space. I am working to find my balance but am very happy with the results so far.