An Unfinished Masterpiece

I often get frustrated and discouraged when things happen in my life and in the lives of those close to me and I can’t see how they can fit into God’s good plans for us. It’s something I’m wrestling with at the moment.

But let me retrace my steps a little! What reasons do I have for believing that God is good in the first place?

Are there biblical foundations for an expectation that life isn’t just meaningless chaos, and that everything that happens is carefully woven into God’s sovereign plans?

Yes and yes!

A Good God with Good Plans

Here are some of the verses on which I’m basing my confidence:

You are good, and what you do is good. Psalm 119:68

10 All the ways of the Lord are loving and faithful toward those who keep the demands of his covenant. Psalm 25:10

And [the Lord] passed in front of Moses, proclaiming, “The Lord, the Lord, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin. Exodus 34:6

28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. 29 For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son. . .

32 He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? Romans 8:28-9 & 32

 

Confused by the Unfinished

It’s a normal human thing to try and make sense of the world, especially when it seems shattered by so much suffering. And trying to pinpoint what God is doing in and through various events is a common activity that Christians engage in. Yet I think that the Bible sounds words of caution in regard to how we do this:

Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable his judgments, and his paths beyond tracing out!

34 Who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has been his counsellor?” Romans 11:33-4

Then the Lord spoke to Job out of the storm. He said: Who is this that obscures my plans with words without knowledge?

Brace yourself like a man; I will question you, and you shall answer me. “Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation? Tell me, if you understand… Job 38:1-4
The problem with trying to interpret everything that happens into ‘what God is doing’ is that we cannot possibly comprehend it with our finite and human minds! His plans are God-sized and God-centred, intricate, and as yet, unfinished (at least from our vantage point!)

In my spare time I’m a portrait painter. I don’t usually let anyone see a portrait until it’s nearly finished, because the early stages of a successful painting usually look like absolute chaos! It seems that I’ve made weird choices about colour, there are marks all over it that don’t look anything like a face, and so on! Yet each of these early stages is vital. I need an underpainting that will underpin the later layers and set the tone for the whole piece. I make marks that are like artist’s shorthand. I know what they signify but at this point the casual onlooker might be dismayed by my seeming lack of anatomical knowledge! Of course it’s all resolved in the finished piece.

How much more so with God?God's masterpiece

Anticipating His Masterpiece

I’m not saying that we shouldn’t think about what God might be doing in and through us, this can be a fruitful exercise. But we need to be able to reserve judgement and not panic when we face the unexpected or can’t make sense of things. God does not reveal his complex plans to us, but he has given us a clear explanation of his character, his love for us, and where everything is finally headed – enough to keep us trusting him amidst the unfinished.

16 The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children . . . heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.

18 I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. Romans 8:16-18

But if Christ is in you, then even though your body is subject to death because of sin, the Spirit gives life because of righteousness. Romans 8:10

35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? . . 37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:35-9

Let’s persevere with this encouragement.

Nim

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What do Christians mean by “Faith”?

This week I’ve been trying to get to grips with what the Bible means when it talks about faith. I’ve noticed that we use the word as a bit of a catch-all term, “just have faith” “I admire your faith” “what faith are you?” Somewhere along the line I start to get confused about what we mean by it, and I realise that I’ve become far too comfortable with a word that is meant to shake us from our complacency and lead us to live radically.

As I’ve thought about faith this week, I’ve been encouraged, but also hugely challenged. God has reminded me that faith begins and ends with, through, and in HIM!STEPPING-OUT-IN-FAITH by V Herschberger

Not a Lecture

This blog post isn’t a theological lecture on faith, and it’s certainly not exhaustive! I just want to share some of the rediscoveries I’ve made, in the hope that they will sink more deeply into my heart, and perhaps warm yours too.

I began by looking at how the Bible defines and uses the word ‘faith’. Some of the most common meanings were:
Firm Persuasion, Belief, Trust, and Steadfastness.

In the Old Testament, God himself is the prime example of faithfulness. Israel is commanded to have faith because of his faithfulness. They are to trust him, based on his perfect character and all that he has already done for them.

6 And he passed in front of Moses, proclaiming, “The Lord, the Lord, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulnessExodus 34:6

Often the Israelites are rebuked for their lack of faithfulness, because they are not steadfast in their faith:

Psalm 78:8…they should not be like their fathers, a stubborn and rebellious generation, a generation whose heart was not steadfast, whose spirit was not faithful to God.

Examples of Faith

In the New Testament, Hebrews has a whole chapter that reads like a hall of fame for the faithful – except that when you look closely, many of those mentioned are flawed people who made big mistakes. So why are they commended?

Chapter 11 starts with its own definition of faith: “Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.” And the author goes on to give a plethora of examples:

By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible.

By faith Noah, when warned about things not yet seen, in holy fear built an ark to save his family,

By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going.

11 And by faith even Sarah, who was past childbearing age, was enabled to bear children because she
considered him faithful who had made the promise,

It is God’s faithful, promise-keeping character that enables his people to act on their trust in him! Faith enables them to wait, be holy, act boldly, be obedient, keep trusting in impossible circumstances, defer their happiness, and wait for the arrival of the promised rescuer, Jesus Christ.

Another thing that struck me as I read this passage, is that God expects his people to trust him, when they don’t know how he will deliver them, or why he has given them certain instructions, or how his promises can possibly come about! They often have little information about the situation at hand, and yet their faith is not foolish or a blind leap in the dark. It rests in the solid, certain, steadfastly faithful character of God.

A Waiting Game

I was also reminded that faith often requires periods of struggle or waiting. Charles Stanley said: “Our willingness to wait reveals the value we place on the object we’re waiting for.” And we see this in Hebrews 11:

v.9b-10 [Abraham] lived in tents, as did Isaac and Jacob, who were heirs with him of the same promise. 10 For he was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God.

v.16 Instead, they were longing for a better country – a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them.

v.26 [Moses] regarded disgrace for the sake of Christ as of greater value than the treasures of Egypt, because he was looking ahead to his reward.

Genuine faith results in action and change

I want to avoid a super-long blog post, but let me give a brief mention to the book of James, which so clearly shows us that real faith will be evidenced by what we do – just like our Hebrews 11 heroes.

For as the body apart from the spirit is dead, so also faith apart from works is dead. James 2:26

Hope for the Little-Faiths

Everything I’ve read about faith shows me how faithless I am most of the time! (Every sin has unbelief at its core because we disobey God when we disbelieve the goodness or wisdom of his commands and promises.)
So I was heartened to also read passages that remind me that just as faith is rooted in a faithful God, it also begins and ends with Jesus Christ:

…let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.
Heb 12:1-2

In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy  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. Philippians 1:4, 6

Jesus never sinned because his faith in his Father never faltered, and he lives to intercede for us today. He is the founder and perfecter of our faith; and he continues his work in us to strengthen our faith by his Holy Spirit. In our fight for faith and faithfulness we are not alone!

Faith in God enables us to wait, be holy, act boldly, be obedient, keep trusting in impossible circumstances, defer happiness, and look forward eagerly to Christ’s glorious return.

Praise God for his faithfulness to an unfaithful people!

Nim

My Situation Will Never Improve!

If there was a prize for “most negative blog title” I’d win it for sure with this one – sorry guys!

But please read on before you start worrying about me!

Isn’t this a lie we hear, feel, and start to believe when life gets difficult, or we can’t see any ready solutions?

This – and its many variations – are among Satan’s most effective lies.

Your situation will never improve. You can’t change. There is no way out of this.

He knows that if he can persuade the Christian that their struggle with suffering or sin is endless and inescapable, he’s got us where he wants us.

He can make us more discouraged, more vulnerable to sin, less faithful. Increasingly rebellious, bitter, or isolated from our God!

So what does the Bible say that will help us when we feel that discouraging wave of pessimism, or can’t imagine how our present situation might improve?

Lie Deflecting

A verse I’ve repeated to myself a lot lately is Psalm 25:10: All the ways of the Lord are loving and faithful toward those who keep the demands of his covenant.

Even in our lowest circumstances and deepest troubles, our God is doing us good! I don’t say that flippantly because I know sometimes we can barely imagine how this can be so – but that is why we need firm truths like this from scripture for such times.

I was talking with my (awesome) sister about this and she helpfully remarked that sinners like us are apt only to notice the second half of that verse – …toward those who keep the demands of his covenant – and immediately disqualify ourselves from its promise.

We know that we don’t keep all the righteous demands of God. But we must remember and rejoice that this is why Jesus came! He alone perfectly keeps all the demands of God’s law on our behalf! And although we must also strive for obedience as we follow God, we can rest in the finished work of Jesus, so that we might claim promises like this – All the ways of the Lord are loving and faithful …

A New Consideration

I have also found the beginning of Hebrews 12 a great antidote to paralysing pessimism:

In this passage the author encourages Christians not to give up when things get rough, but to “…run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted.”

There’s enough in these verses for a sermon, but it’s the beginning of verse 3 that I keep returning to. I have found this to be a simple and helpful thing to remember. When I catch myself thinking “things will never change, this trouble/ sin/ suffering is endless” I tell myself “Nim, consider Christ!”

Jesus endured greatest (seemingly senseless) suffering for the joy set before him. His suffering was necessary for his (and our) future joy!
He is now seated at the right hand of God in heaven, where he intercedes for us! Just spending time considering his character lifts us from despair – Jesus is perfectly wise, faithful, loving, just, strong, and merciful.

He is our example, but more importantly he is our certain hope for the future. I am running the race that he has completed. And my situation will surely improve with Jesus Christ guiding and sustaining me to the finish line!

Yours cheerfully (!)

Nim

Introspection can only take you so far…

in•tro•spec•tion

Nounrodin-thinker

The examination or observation of one’s own mental and emotional processes.

I’m a fairly introspective person, I like to think about things deeply, and I can over-think and overanalyse until I’m going round in circles, especially when my gaze is directed at myself!

Introspection has some value, especially for the Christian. We should be willing to regularly examine ourselves in God’s presence.

Are our attitudes right? Is our behaviour pleasing? Do our thoughts and plans glorify him?

As we read the Bible it should be as though we are holding up a mirror, so that with God’s help to see what he sees, we can wipe away the dirt and grime that obscure our likeness to Christ.

But introspection can only take us so far, and it can become unhelpful if we persist in it too long.

Recently I set aside a few days for study and prayer – it was great to take time to listen to God, to think, and too assess myself in the light of the things I read. But towards the end of the time I began to feel a bit overwhelmed.

Man, what a lot of work God still had to do with me! How many areas there were in need of radical change. What a hard heart I had when it came to this issue, or that one…

I was starting to get pretty discouraged when I came across a helpful quote that spoke right to the heart of the issue:

To really be gripped by your identity in God’s greatness you must wade out of the shallow waters of self-absorption into the deep waters of praising him at all times for all things. Remember, God formed you for that very purpose. Embrace your identity as a forgiven worshiper of this all-patient God.”

James Mac Donald Gripped by the Greatness of God

In a couple of lines it reminded me of some important things:

I am a forgiven sinner

I am a worshiper of God

My identity is rooted in God’s identity

It’s not helpful to remain splashing around in the shallows of self-absorption. It’s only of value if I continue by wading into the depths of God’s good character, gazing at his glory, his mercy, his steadfast love and faithfulness.

Introspection alone will lead me in a downward spiral, because I am a sinner, and hope for change is not found in me! It can also end up placing me at the centre of the universe instead of God.

Lifting my eyes to God will inspire me to trust, and to praise him. In his presence repentance can take place, forgiveness is found and sanctification continues, all the while accompanied by praise that lifts my eyes away from myself.

Earnestness about my spiritual growth before God pleases him, but I must not miss out on the joy of lifting my eyes from myself to him – a far more worthy and beautiful pursuit!

Nim

What do you do when the temperature drops?

How should Christians deal with spiritual coldness and discouragement?

In recent weeks, I’ve had several conversations with Christians who are struggling. They feel discouraged, dry, and far from God; and increasingly guilty the longer these feelings linger. I have to confess that although I can readily identify with such times, I have felt shallow in my initial responses, and this post is the fruit of the thinking I’ve done since.

Let me know what you think…

I’m sure there is no neat and tidy answer that will suffice for every situation. Spiritual discouragement can result from any number of causes – real and legitimate worries, depression, suffering, bad experiences within the church, and our ever sinful hearts.

What I’m certain of, is that this spiritual matter cannot be solved with human willpower alone, or with an easy formula. (Which is why this post is not titled “3 steps to relighting your spiritual fire”!)

One thing that we must be clear on, even as we seek to climb out of a rut we’ve gotten into, is that it is only by the work of the Holy Spirit, that a dead and unfeeling heart is exchanged for a new heart that loves and seeks after God. This is a transformation that began when we first heard and believed the gospel. A transformation that accompanied our once-for-all eternal salvation through Jesus Christ, and continues as we start to resemble him.

The discouraged Christian should first rest secure in the knowledge that their name is written in heaven!

Nevertheless, we cannot afford to be complacent or apathetic when we recognise that our hearts have become cold towards God.

We are called to love the Lord our God with all our heart and with all our soul and with all our strength. (Deuteronomy 6:5) And it should grieve us and call us to repentance when we do not.

But don’t be surprised at the coldness of your heart. A friend of mine used to say that every morning she had to perform spiritual CPR on her heart. I can testify to this being true. I’m often shocked at my apathy and coldness toward God, and how quickly I forget or disbelieve the gospel!

We need to fight for a constant and growing love and closeness to Christ.

So here are a few things that I suggest, and find personally helpful in these times:

Relearn the gospel, and let it revive you. Immerse yourself in the accounts of the crucifixion in the Gospels. Jesus is the friend of sinners; he came as a doctor for those who knew their need of healing. (Luke 5:31-33) He invites the thirsty to come for living water. (Isaiah 55:1-3, John 7:37-39) He ever lives to intercede for his people. (Hebrews 7:24-26) These are just a few of many such passages!

Consider God’s character. Remember that he is merciful, steadfastly loving, faithful, gracious, and kind. (See Exodus 34:6)

Remember that he knows it all – your sin, your bad experiences, how you have come to be where you are now – even when you don’t know! Don’t let anyone or anything make you believe that you have walked too far away to come home. Just read the parable of the Lost Son in Luke 15. God is far more gracious than any of us deserve!

Begin to talk to him again, as your Father, honestly and humbly. Ask his spirit to give you the words if it’s been a long time.

Make use of the Psalms. Especially Psalm 42Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Saviour and my God.”

Don’t give up going through the motions. Seek with God’s help to be obedient. Honour, fear, and follow him, even when you’re not ‘feeling it’, attend a good church, and get some support. Ask him that the right feelings would follow.

Evaluate your diet. This is a particularly practical step. What is going on in your daily life? What are you reading, watching, and listening to? What are the messages that you are receiving? Are you giving yourself a chance for God’s word to sink in and change you, or is it snatched away immediately by the way you spend your time and energy?

Along with asking God’s spirit to renew your love and desire for him, do all that you can to prepare the soil!

Imagine a marriage where a husband and wife only ever talk in the presence of others, never spending time alone. It would be pretty hard to sustain a good level of love and communication! Are you giving God the time and opportunity to speak to you, by spending time reading scripture and talking with him?

2 Chronicles 16:9 tells us that the eyes of the Lord range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him.

Ask for him to do in you what you are unable to do. We need God’s spirit to continue to work in us, so that our hearts will be fully committed to him.

Let me end with a passage that I return to again and again in challenging times:

I remember my affliction and my wandering, the bitterness and the gall.20 I well remember them, and my soul is downcast within me.21 Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: 22 Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. 23 They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. 24 I say to myself, ‘The Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.’

Lamentations 3:19-24

I’m sure there is much more to be said, but I’ve written enough! What do you think? What would you add?

Nim

When Perfectionism Becomes Poisonous

Some days something inside me seems to whisper “you’re not good enough, try harder, achieve more, be perfect.”

It’s annoying.

Sometimes it’s crushing.

Often I listen to the voice and let it drive me.

I’ve always been a bit of a perfectionist. Age five, my self portrait on the yearly ‘class tea towel’ had eyebrows, eyelashes, teeth, and bows in my hair! And I always worked hard in school, simply for the satisfaction of achieving high grades.
But what I’ve often thought of as a healthy desire to do things well can have a destructive side too, for several reasons:

My standard is often arbitrary, and usually set higher than I can reach

And if i’m honest with myself I know that even on the rare occasion that I reach my arbitrary standard of achievement, the glow of success dissipates quickly, and I soon begin to strive again!

Being a ‘high achiever’ for its own sake cannot satisfy

Whatever I do and achieve, its not enough. Someone somewhere has achieved more, often much more. (Where did all these ridiculous child prodigies come from anyway?) And I can never feel satisfied for long, all I have to do is log into Facebook or Pinterest to see people achieving more, and looking better whilst doing it! It’s a never ending cycle.

Perfectionist can lead to forgetting or denying the gospel

Why is my standard for success and achievement set so highly? It’s like I’ve decided that the free gift of grace that Jesus offers is not the answer, and a life of endless striving is what I really want!

Somewhere along the line I have forgotten that in a fallen sinful world the things I do and achieve will never be perfect, and that even could they be, I was made for a different and greater purpose.

I am an ambassador for THE PERFECT ONE, the supreme achiever Jesus Christ!

To live my life focused on my own small achievements is idolatry, and profoundly short sighted and stupid. There will always be someone better looking, more popular, smarter, funnier, and godlier!

My purpose is to point people to Jesus, his beauty, his achievements on my behalf, and the awe-inspiring salvation he offers. In fact when I spend just a little while looking at the glory of Christ, I quickly feel sheepish for my own silly efforts to reach perfection! Like an ant thinking he can equal the majesty of a lion!

Perfectionism relies on individualism, everything becomes a competition against yourself and against those around you, and for the Christian, this too works against our real goal.

Our purpose is a collective one, which does not rely on my individual achievements, but on shared service as one of the members of the body of Christ. If I’m busy measuring my achievements against others – especially if they are my brothers and sisters in Christ, I’ve hugely missed the point!

What’s more, Jesus tells us that the nature of the kingdom of God, and service in this kingdom is the opposite of the way the world thinks. It’s a kingdom that looks small and insignificant to begin with. A kingdom sown in weakness and death, not fanfare and accolades. A kingdom of servants who follow the commands of a master who was despised, rejected and killed. A kingdom I can begin to reject with my perfectionistic and worldly way of measuring success.
Will I rewrite God’s kingdom plan in my drive to achieve perfection here and now?

My prayer is that when I hear these whispers I will assess them wisely.

Do I want to achieve highly for achievement’s sake? Is my focus on exalting myself, and achieving more highly than those around me? Am I willing to live a life that points to Christ and his perfection, even as he shows up my imperfections by his word? Will I learn to rejoice not only in the things I achieve for him, but also when (far more frequently) his strength is demonstrated in my weakness?

May God help us as we let him renew our minds!

Nim

I’m scared they’ll find out I’m a fraud

I got a phone call from my brother yesterday; he wanted to talk about what to do when you’re struggling to be godly in a situation.

I had two choices: Put on my wise elder sister voice and say something along the lines of “Just try harder Dave, pray more, I can’t believe you’re tempted to be ungodly in that situation! Don’t you know that it’s wrong?” or come clean with him and say “Yes I’m struggling with that too. I don’t really know the answer; in fact I’m pretty discouraged by my failures. But here are some things that I hold onto when I’m tempted to sin in this area; this is why Jesus is worth obeying…”

I hated to be honest with him and say “I don’t know”.

Because I work ‘in ministry’ I often feel pressure to act like I’ve got all the answers. To demonstrate that I’m in my job because I’ve reached a greater level of Christian maturity than others – Ha! The reality is that the longer I go on as a Christian, the more I see how sinful I am, how frail I am, how far I fall short of God’s perfection! Some days I feel like such a hypocrite as I teach the Bible, and counsel others on dealing with sin!

I’m scared they’ll find out that I’m a fraud.

Can you spot what is going on here?

I’ve forgotten the gospel. I’ve begun to teach a gospel of good works and achievable righteousness with the way I live.

Andrew Peterson puts it like this, in a great blog post on working with the singer Steven Curtis Chapman:

It’s the great, confounding reversal of the Gospel of Jesus. If the word we preach is one of attainable perfection, of law, of justification by works, then when we fail, our testimony fails with it. But if we preach our deep brokenness and Christ’s deeper healing, if we preach our inability to take a single breath but for God’s grace, then our weakness exalts him and we’re functioning as we were meant to since the foundation of the world.

Wow. I try to act like I’m perfect because I don’t want to dishonour Christ, but my testimony doesn’t fail because I’m a sinner, it points to the reality of the gospel! What I should be doing is living out a life that shows my deep dependence on God’s forgiveness and redemption, every minute of every day. This glorifies him, not my attempts to cover over my sin.

That’s pretty hard. It takes greater vulnerability and honesty. But in some ways surely it’s easier than my exhausting efforts to look like I’ve got it together! It exalts the work of Christ in me, and his wonderful, merciful character in walking with a sinner like me. Living like this with transparency and reliance on Christ will also point people to him and not to me, and isn’t this what I want?

Andrew’s comments continue:

An attempt on our part to be super-human will result only in our in-humanness–like a teacup trying to be a fork: useless. But if the teacup will just be a teacup, it will be filled. Humans were made (as was everything under the sun) for the glory of the Maker. Why should we try to be anything but fully human? Let God fill us up and pour us out; let him do what he will, let us be what we were meant to be. That gives us the freedom to sing about what’s really happening in our hearts without being afraid of sullying the good name of God. If our hearts are contending with the forces of darkness, clinging desperately to the hope of a Saviour, then to sing boldly about the battle is no shame to us and all glory to our King.

Godliness is a daily battle of dying to self and living to Christ. It’s a battle that I fail more often than I succeed. But look at Christ! His compassion for sinners, his patience, his mercy, his willingness to pour himself out for us and pour himself into us. He is faithful when we are faithless; he invites us to boldly approach his throne of grace to find daily mercy and grace. (Hebrews 4:16)

Paul Tripp says that “We approach God as less than needy, so we’re less open to the ministry of others and to the conviction of the Spirit. This sucks the life out of the devotional aspect of our walk with God. Tender, heartfelt worship is hard for a person who thinks of himself as having arrived. No one celebrates the presence and grace of the Lord Jesus Christ more than the person who has embraced his desperate and daily need of it.”

Trying to act like we are perfect affects our relationships with other Christians, our personal time with God, and our worship. And the act we put on in front of others becomes the attitude we bring before God too!

So every day I have a choice, as I live out my Christian life. To preach with my life that the gospel is about how I can make myself righteous and presentable to God – and always live in fear that sooner or later I will be shown up for the fraud that I am.

Or to demonstrate that I am a sinner in daily need of huge amounts of grace! Its messy, there is not much to respect or emulate about me, but Christ is pointed to as my strength and redeemer, I simply live out my desperate need of him, and as he fills me, he is glorified!

Do you have any thoughts on this? Or any practical suggestions for how we can live it out?

Nim