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"The evidence of things unseen"

The Reformers said that faith consisted of 1) knowledge; 2) assent, and 3) trust. The first two aren't usually the problem for people with OCD. The problem is with trust.

OCD is called "the doubting disease" for a reason. Typically we don't tolerate uncertainty, even the unavoidable uncertainty which springs from the nature of humanity and our own inability to control everything.  There is nothing we know for absolutely certain.  I don't know that the building I live in won't collapse tonight; buildings have collapsed before. Of course, I have no reason to think that it will, or that the chances of it happening are more than microscopic.  But I don't know for absolutely certain that it won't.

But I trust the Building Code. I trust that this building would not have been opened for occupancy if it hadn't been examined and found to be sound, and if proper procedures hadn't been followed by the builders and supervised by the city. So while I don&…

You can lose your salvation. But Jesus can't lose it.

Sanctification as self-improvement

A concept foreign to American Christianity: The Gospel

Pr. Fisk once more sets us straight on the way- contrary to the heresies of contemporary American "Evangelicalism-" God deals with us.

This time, he explains why the Gospel is Gospel, not Law. In other words, why there are never any "if's" in the authentic Gospel, and why it calls upon you do do absolutely nothing.

The Gospel is always a proclamation of what God has done. It is never a call for action on our part. Not even a tiny, teensy-weensy bit of action.

Merry Christmas. Here's a present.

The present is named Jesus.

The guy in the video isn't him. He's Pastor Jonathan Fisk. But Pastor Fisk explains in the video what the gift of Jesus means for people with scrupulosity.

He helps you unwrap the present, if you will.

So let's get that package open, eh?

Hammer blows of freedom

Today is Reformation Day, the anniversary of the day Martin Luther nailed his 95 Theses on indulgences to the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg, Saxony. The incident is generally regarded as the beginning of the Protestant Reformation.

Within the Church we remain threatened by the idea that salvation can be bought- not with money, as a rule (though there are TV evangelists who still seem mired in Tetzel's heresy)  but by the very kind of human merit whose rejection was the entire basis of Paul's letters to the Romans and Galatians. American Protestantism, in particular, is fond of the "pull yourselves up by your bootstraps" approach to life which confuses justification (God's declaration that we are righteous before Him by His unmerited love alone, received by trust in that love) with sanctification (the growth in holiness and holy living which is the result of justification). Even salvation by grace through faith, which biblically is God's doing from…

Bingo!

Christians who are constantly measuring and testing their spiritual state are Christians in an unhealthy theology. The focus is in the wrong place - on themselves, their works, their thoughts, their obedience, their nearness or distance from God. This, sadly, is the condition of American Christianity.

--Has American Christianity Failed?, Bryan Wolfmueller

It ought to be where God intends it to be and where it has to be if we are going to make progress against the sin and unbelief in our lives: on Jesus and what He has accomplished and promised and declares us in Him to be: perfect as He is perfect. When we believe that, Christ is formed in us.

But for that to happen we have to keep our eyes on Him and on His grace, and not on ourselves. Only the proudest and most depraved of human beings will be pleased and will not be discouraged at what they see when they look at themselves. But no one who keeps His eyes on Jesus and what He has done and promises can fail to grow and thrive and liv…

If you can get this straight, an awful lot of confusion will disappear

It's called 'grace alone'

Ask yourself this question

'You foolish Protestants!"

Pr. Jonathan Fisk on Galatians 1.

If you're worried about the adequacy of your prayer, your attention is on the wrong person

Not your circus, not your monkey

No reason for doubt

Ecce homo!: A sermon for Good Friday

John 19:5

Good Friday

Anybody who’s seen the movie "Fat Man and Little Boy" will remember the incident.

Dr. Michael Merriman and the other scientists of the Manhattan Project were excited. A critical experiment was about to be performed which, if successful, would prove that the atomic bomb was a practical idea. A plutonium sphere was being surrounded by neutron-reflecting tungsten carbide blocks, which reduce the mass necessary for the plutonium to go critical. That’s just a fancy way of saying that they were putting that chunk of plutonium on a hair trigger, to facilitate a small-scale experiment it ordinarily would have taken a much larger and more dangerous chunk of the stuff to perform.

As the last brick was being lowered into place, everybody leaned forward in expectation. One of the scientists had been drinking a cup of tea. He set it down next to him- not realizing that he was putting it on the very edge of a chair. The cup fell- and shattered. The man lower…

From C.S. Lewis

A prayer by Martin Luther

Dear Lord Jesus Christ, I feel my sins. They bite and gnaw and terrify me. Where shall I go? I look to You, Lord Jesus, and believe in You. Although my faith is weak, I cling to You and am made sure, for You have promised, "He who believes in Me shall have everlasting life." Even if my conscience is burdened and my sins frighten me and make me tremble, You still have said, "My son, be of good cheer; your sins are forgiven you. I will raise You up on the Last Day, and you will have eternal life." I cannot help myself by my own strength. I come to You for help. Amen. (Martin Luther)

Keeping the main thing the main thing

The promise should always be in sight. Because of His promise. God wishes to be gracious and to justify for Christ's sake, not because of the Law or our works. In this promise timid consciences should seek reconciliation and justification. By this promise they should sustain themselves and be confident that they have a gracious God for Christ's sake, because of His promise. So works can never make a conscience peaceful. Only the promise can.~Phillip Melanchthon, "Defense of the Augsburg Confession," V (III), 59

Medicine for your sickness

Those who feel their weakness, who are anxious to be rid of it and desire help, should regard and use the sacrament as a precious antidote against the poison in their systems. For here in the sacrament, you receive from Christ's lips the forgiveness of sins, which contains and conveys God's grace and Spirit with all His gifts, protection, defense, and power against death and the devil and all evils.

--Martin Luther, the Large Catechism, The Sacrament of the Altar

Something worth considering

A quote from C.S. Lewis

A reminder

Grace, from R.J. Grune

Next time you are anxious about your salvation, about whether you are good enough or believe enough or pray enough or have the right feeling or have earned your acceptance by God in some other way, I recommend that you go to this page and just read. And read again. And read again,

What you will find there is the distilled Gospel, and it's the antidote for common American religiosity.

I thought about copying them out, but I didn't want to do it without permission. But trust me. You want to read these- and maybe copy them down.

They're at http://www.rjgrune.com/blog/25-quotes-on-grace

When you're done, ask yourself the question at the bottom of the page: What quotes about the scandalous message of grace has messed with you? 

Count in it

How do you tell a legitimate fear from OCD?

Telling the difference is easy. Using it is not. One of the “slogans” that has become standard in OCD circles comes from Dr. Jeffrey Schwartz’s Brain Lock: “If it feels like OCD, it is.”

Think of the last time you realized that something real and healthy in your life needed your attention and should be acted on. Think of how that felt. Think even if a reasonable, rational fear that you had. Compare your emotional reaction to that reasonable fear with what OCD feels like. See what I mean? They’re not even remotely alike.

If it’s vague and creepy, it’s OCD. If it’s reasonably specific and prompts you to reasonable action, it’s healthy. “I’d better not date that married man because adultery and even coveting my neighbor’s husband violates the Ten Commandments” will produce an entirely different emotion from “If I eat a half-ripe banana I’ll go to hell.” Check it out. Reasonable and healthy fear of displeasing God leads you to behavior that will avoid doing so, or, at least, pushes you i…

This is how God does things

Rod Rosenbladt, a Lutheran theologian, tells the true story of wrecking his father's Buick 8 when he was sixteen years old. Rod was drunk, as were all his friends who were in the car. The first thing Rod's dad asked him over the phone was whether he was all right. Rod said yes. He also told his father he was drunk. Later that night, Rod wept and wept in his father's study. At the end of the ordeal, his father said one thing: "How about tomorrow we go get you a new car." Rod says now that he became a theist in that moment. God's grace became real.

When Rod tells that story, there are always a few people in the audience who get mad. They say, "Your dad let you get away with that?! He didn't punish you at all?" And Rod says, "No," adding the following: "Do you think I didn't know what I had done? Do you think it was not the most painful moment of my whole life up to that point? Do you think the law wasn't cutting me down to …