This is part 4 of the 7 part journey toward Creating the Life You Love and this week’s focus is a Life of Faith.
I think this will be different than almost anything you could listen to on this subject. I hope you’ll give this episode a listen because these may be some of the most encouraging words I’ve ever spoken. This is not a guilt trip. This is not a list of what you should be doing as a believer. This is for those of us who never seem to measure up to our own ideal of spirituality. This is a reset button for your struggles and your doubts in your faith life.
You can also click here to and listen.
The absolute most important book on Christian spirituality in my life has been Grace Upon Grace by John Kleinig. PLEASE consider adding it to your library. You will hang on every word. You will wish you had read it ten years ago. You will read it over and over again.
The Marks of the Life of Faith in Christ
A Life of Reception
How does Christ impart His life of joy and abundance to us? What does the daily life of the Christian look like and why can I never seem to measure up to the standards?
The great news is—our spiritual lives do not depend on us!
It depends on Christ, who has and will continue to do everything for your life and salvation. Christ has made the great exchange in giving us His very own life. We just receive what He in His grace gives. I talk about the importance of a Christ-centered church, where Christ is preached instead of Christian improvement. I talk about the regular receiving of the Lord’s Supper and the assurance that provides for our struggling faith. The parable of the Good Samaritan is the perfect example of this.
Christ is our Good Samaritan. He has found us along the road of life, beaten and robbed and desperate. He FINDS us, gathers us, rescues us, bandages us, saves us and takes us to the inn (the church) and pays our debt of sin and death. The hero of the parable is Jesus, who died to save and ransom us—to free us from the law—so that we are now free to serve others.
Jesus found me! I didn’t find Him. He gathered me into His flock! I didn’t just wander into that big, beautiful church one day. He is always the one doing the gathering—always finding ways to draw us back to Himself. He’s always rescuing what we’re always wrecking. He’s always seeking and finding. We’re always running and striving and losing. We often have it backwards, don’t we? We like to think we’re good little sheep that are always following the Master, but we aren’t. We are a bruised and broken people, in desperate need of a rescue. We are all plagued with sin, doubt, fear, greed, selfishness, addiction, evil, and most assuredly self-righteousness. We are harsh and unkind and lacking in mercy. Or we are weak, undisciplined, and lacking in courage. We are lost and alone, beaten and left for dead. But, in our lostness, we are all the same. Fortunately for us, our Father knows it all. He is not surprised or angry or aloof. He doesn’t seek revenge but only redemption. He became one of us to know the depth of our struggle and He is right there in the dirty midst of it all.
He won’t leave. He won’t lose His nerve. He will never give up.
So, when your strength has left you and you can’t hold on, you need not worry. Love holds. Love never fails. He—who is deeply acquainted with your grief, your sin, your struggle—will bear the weight of it all, and will never grow weary. Trust in your Father, who works every circumstance for the homecoming and healing of His glorious children. He will not rest until you are remade and restored. He will persevere until the end, because of Love. We desperately need the rescue of the Good Samaritan and He will find the one little lost lamb. In the above parable, the Good Samaritan is a picture of Christ—who has done everything to bring us into the Church, the heavenly hospital—where He will feed us and nourish us back to health. Just like Noah and his family were saved from the flood by faith, so we are saved by Christ and the Church will be our ark of refuge, bearing us home to be with him forever.
(If you’re experiencing a famine of the Gospel, listen to his sermons and you will hear the Gospel in every single message. Every sermon is about Jesus and his love and life for us. This is a great sermon about God’s house and what it’s for.)
A Life of Prayer
“Prayer should come as easily and naturally to us as breathing or eating. Yet, we all know how hard it is to pray. Prayer, mostly, seems to go against the grain. Unless we are quite desperate and have reached the end of our rope, we would rather not ask God for help. We know that we should pray. We would like to pray more regularly, ardently, and spontaneously. The harder we try, the more we seem to fail. But that’s how it’s meant to be. Christ lets us fail when we pray by ourselves so that we rely on His intercession for us. Oddly, our success in prayer comes from our personal failure and our willingness to carry on as He works for us and with us. Unlike us, Jesus is an expert at prayer…..He is its best practitioner…..He takes over for us when we fail, and intercedes FOR us. He fulfills God’s call to us to be praying people and get us to join Him in His praying.
Jesus does not leave us by ourselves in prayer. He helps us at every step. Long before we ever began to pray, He was praying for us and for our salvation. Whether we pray or don’t pray, whether we are awake or asleep, He prays for us….and he prays with us so that we can join Him in His praying. Jesus teaches us how to pray by giving us the Lord’s prayer. This is His prayer, the prayer that He prays. By giving us His prayer, He includes us in His relationship with His Father and allows us to act as if we were Him, dressed up in Him. He therefore identifies Himself with us and our needs, necessities, sins and temptations. He joins Himself to us so that we can join Him in prayer and borrow everything from Him. He swaps places with us so that we can be where He is before God the Father.
We need not be anxious about whether God is pleased with us or whether He will give us a favorable hearing. We need not worry about what to pray for, or how, because Jesus covers us with His righteousness and perfects our prayers. Our performance does not matter; what matters is Jesus and our faith in Him as our intercessor.
The Lord’s prayer makes praying simple and easy for us because, as we use it, we pray together with Jesus. It is much more important that we pray it regularly than that we wait until we have enough time to pray at length and in great detail with deep ardor and heartfelt devotion. Satan,quite commonly, uses our spiritual enthusiasm against us. He gets us to go on a prayer binge because he knows we will not be able to sustain it. Then, when we fail, he uses our failure against to argue that praying is not for us.
I beg you to give Dr. Kleinig’s podcast on prayer a listen. Buy his book. Let his words seep down into your doubtful, guilt-ridden soul. You’ll be reminded of just how much you are loved and how far the Father is willing to go to see to your restoration.
Also, my FAVORITE devotional tool is the PrayNow app which has an psalm, OT reading, and NT reading for everyday. It also has a writing from a church father and a prayer and follows the church year calendar. I HIGHLY recommend. You can have access to it wherever you have your phone!
A Life of Paradox
Saint and sinner—Love this podcast by Pastor Bill Cwirla
Law and Gospel—Love this podcast to explain the concept.
Theology of the Cross versus Theology of Glory—
Resources and Links:
- Grace Upon Grace, by John Kleinig
- The Fad-Driven Church, Todd Wilken
- When You’re Desperate for a Sign (post by me)
- When God Showed Up Wanting Waffles
- Mere Christianity, C.S. Lewis
- Deeds Not Creeds?
- Beautiful Are The Feet
I’d love to hear from you! What is it that you struggle with most in your faith life?
Thanks for the refreshing and encouragement….running on dry bones lately….mandy
Edie Wadsworth says
Bless you, friend.
And you know what He does with dry bones.
You have really helped me with this podcast. I have struggled so very much.
Enjoyed this podcast while rolling out tea cakes today!
Edie Wadsworth says
BEST kind of multitasking!!
Thank you. You spoke right to me and where I have been for so many years. It is so hard to recognize myself as 100% saint but so very easy to know that I am 100% sinner. You have helped me to reconcile these two and start to move away from some of the guilt. Bless you and your efforts!
Edie Wadsworth says
Thank you for sharing, Stephanie.
Everyday it seems I have to learn to trust Him! Slow learner.
Edie Wadsworth says
Me too, Susan!
“Christ lets us fail when we pray by ourselves so that we rely on His intercession for us.”
Wow. Love this. Never thought about it this way. Even my best attempts at prayer can’t be as good as Him interceding for me!
So much here to take in.
I have not heard something so brilliant in a very long time. 100% on the mark, 100% encouraging ~ I’m gonna share everywhere. I wish my mom was a podcast listener so she could hear!!
Edie Wadsworth says
Awwww, such sweet encouragement, Kristin.
Thank you so very much!
Jill Shelby says
I have been so enjoying these podcasts. Thank you so much – they are breathing life into my heart and soul.
Thank you, Edie! This was very life giving and I already ordered Grace Upon Grace a few minutes into the podcast. 🙂 You’ve given me a lot to think about and I plan to listen again soon.
LOVE the podcast! Please keep @ it! I listened to the faith one & am getting ready to listen a 2nd time & may come back for a 3rd & take notes:)
Edie Wadsworth says
Thank you so much, Maria!!
So much truth of God’s grace in your story.
I cried the whole time
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Edie Wadsworth says
Bless you, Gail!
Another pod cost well done! I didn’t disagree with anything you said – and I hope to go back and listen to it again to catch the items I missed when my brain started to wander:) I do have a few thoughts and questions.
I think we try TOO HARD to be spiritual? And maybe I don’t get it because I am a life-long Lutheran taught to trust in the Means of Grace as the dependable source of His working in us and through us. I’ve never looked for an “experience” or climbed on a bandwagon. I’ve never really understood it when I’ve heard “I’m not religious but I’m spiritual”. In my circles, we’ve never really discussed meditation or what that means or looks like other than simply reading a portion of Scripture and instead of running off to do my next task or errand, contemplating it and then praying in response to what I just read (along with whatever else is on my heart).
Having said that, after I started reading “Grace Upon Grace” last year I started to realize how ofter the term “meditate” came up in my daily Bible reading that I never noticed before. I think I had avoided the idea of meditation because of the connotations it brings from many eastern religions. Now I see better that there can indeed be a Biblical meaning to this.
True confession though – As I read “Grace Upon Grace”, I made it halfway through the chapter on prayer and finally shelved it. While I appreciated many of the author’s insights and have plenty of the text underlined with my markings, I seemed to have just as many question marks with no one to answer them. I got so frustrated with the questions building up that I put it down. Some things just rubbed me the wrong way. For example, on page 150 when he suggests the use of icons or crucifixes – I think I know the spirit in which he’s suggesting this but I’m also aware of how others have taken the use of icons in an unBiblical manner and are misusing them.
I did try to refer to some of the comments you made on the book back when it looks like you did a book club thing on it. I downloaded the study guide from CPH. I tried to find info on Issues, etc but came up with nothing at the time. I’ll try to listen to the one noted in your post – thanks for that.
So maybe I’ll pick it up again – I’d like to. But I’d prefer to read it with someone or find a pastor who’s read it and discuss with him – something like that. Regardless, we can agree – we bring NOTHING, He brings it all! That is grace:)
Edie, I just got back from a 5 hour car ride from Atlanta to Tallahassee and decided that was the perfect time to listen to your podcast series. After I had my 8 year old daughter show me how to download and play it (sad, but true– this was my first time listening to a podcast) I was hooked. Luckily my 2 year old and 8 y/o were occupied in the back seat so I was able to listen to the all four sessions, back to back.
Part 4, in particular, has been favorite and has given me a lot to think about (in a new way). Thank you for not only recording this (I am impressed with how well you articulate your oh-so organized thoughts) but also appreciate you including the show notes on your blog (I think that’s what you call them). I plan to go back, in my nerdy way, and take notes so I can use it for future reference.
Wow, profoundly encouraging! Thank you for the time and effort you put into this, it is such a blessing!
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Shawnae B says
Another just wonderful and inspiring post. These have been such a blessing to me. I love starting my morning with your podcast, its like a special bakery treat. Thank you so much for all the work you put in to create these for us.
Isn’t it wonderful to know that although we’ve never met, we will be spending eternity together?!! I am truly LOVING your podcasts. Your voice is so lovely to listen to and you share such wonderful truths!
I just have one complaint…..I hate to wait a week for the next one! You’ve made me hungry for more truth in my life. Can’t wait to read your mentioned books.
I really appreciate your blog and this is the first of the podcasts I’ve listened to and really liked it. Thank you for putting your thoughts on faith out there as I am sure that it can both stir great discussion and inspiration, but also raise the hackles of those who do not see things the same way.
I am a Catholic Christian and so I found the first part very interesting especially. We aren’t known for being fad followers 🙂 We stick to the original scripture and worship we learned 2000 years ago and hold tight, and we get our fair share of flack for it. One of my family members has fallen away into a more fad-driven christian culture and is currently in her third church in as many years and still desperately seeking. Please keep her in your prayers and I will keep all of your readers who struggle with this in mine as well.
I loved the part on letting God work through us. I know Catholics get pegged as “working for salvation” rather than simply accepting it, but that is not our doctrine at all. I loved hearing this and it was truly encouraging. When we let go of the idea that we need to fulfill a laundry list of specific tasks, we allow Christ to work through us for the purpose He has for us. It is always nice to be reminded of that! (and you’re right, the podcast format allows me to hear the reminder while I multitask – so great!)
Lastly, your point on Holy Communion I found most poignant. If we are to center our life on Christ, then we need to receive the gift he so freely gives us and wants us to partake in. It does remove the burden that we must work to be more Christ-like and allows us to take him in, gain the grace from that sacrament, and then keep Him in our hearts and minds as we go about our day.
Thanks for the great podcast!
Missy Robinson says
Knoxville? TN? I’m a new reader and Knoxville is my home!
kelly sites says
Today on the treadmill (multi-tasking at its best) I listened to my first podcast of yours…the one above. LOVED IT SO MUCH. Your voice is very soothing and very nice to listen to. 🙂 You seemed very organized and the content was fantastic. I’m currently in the process of preparing for VBS next week at church- I’m the gospel proclaimer (what an honor). And your podcast helped me with a few things I’m working on. LOVED IT. And can’t wait to listen to the rest. By the way, the podcast ap you mentioned (podcruncher) is now $2.99 not free, but who cares, it seems worth it. THANK YOU, and bless you for all the time you put in.
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Mary Anne says
Edie, I’m enjoying your podcasts immensely. First time podcast listener here and I’ve downloaded all of yours. Downloaded podcruncher as well. It was 2.99, not free anymore, but still well worth the money. One of my favorite quotes of this particular one was “Satan,quite commonly, uses our spiritual enthusiasm against us. ” It’s so true. We want to be perfect at the Christian life. Praying, reading the word, living out our faith..and when we aren’t able to “perfectly” pull it off we feel less than. That is the enemy at work. Shame is his game. In his letter to the Phillipians Paul reminds us of his desire to know Christ,and he goes on to remind us that it is an ongoing process “Not that I have already attained all this or arrived at my goal but I press on, forgetting what lies behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal. (Chptr 3). Grace and faith are beautiful and it is what saves us and yet we must leave room for works as well. “What good is it my brothers and sisters if you have faith but no deeds.?” (James 2) I think we have to find that balance. The two work together or one without the other is useless. Just as Abraham believed that God would provide the sacrifice, he didn’t stand at the bottom of the hill waiting on the ram to be delivered to his feet. He followed God in obedience and by his faith and his deeds God’s grace was made manifest. So should we stop praying resting in the fact that Jesus is our intercessor? No. Jesus admonished the disciples in the garden “watch and pray” He was in agony praying himself and yet he advised them to pray as well. ” There are many scriptures to support our need to pray. “Pray without ceasing.” “The prayers of a righteous person is powerful and effective.” ..the list could go on and on. And yet as you said..when we don’t know what to pray for or how to pray, he is our intercessor. Prayer is our communication with our Creator. If I want to know Chirst, as Paul desires, then I must speak with him, commune with him. Read about him, what his plan for my life is, what his instructions for how to live are. I have faith and yet how my faith effects my deeds is the true test. “Do not merely listen to the word, and so decieve yourselves. DO what it says.” (James 1) My point is, while we are imperfect sojourners, we must not forget to keep fighting the good fight, pressing on toward our goals of becoming more and more like him. And most importantly while books and pastors are amazing resources/tools to teach us and lead us into deeper study of God’s word, God’s word is our final authority on what is right in God’s eyes. We must always revert to it as our counselor in perfecting our walk with Christ. Keep the podcast coming! I’m going back to listen again I’ve enjoyed them so much!
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Edie, Thank you! That pretty much sums it up. It was as if you were looking into my heart and speaking directly to me. Thank you!
Thank you! Listened to this twice today! Thanks for researching and organizing this so well. It was timely in my life as recently I’ve been convicted of not reading the Word enough and feeling pride in reading it more! Im a saint and sinner! Thanks!
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I’m a little slower getting to these than I’d planned (switching internet providers isn’t quite as cut and dried and painless as you might be led to believe). At any rate, hearing this refreshing podcast, reading you blog post from last November, and reading Todd W’s article reminded me of something the husband of a friend said more than 20 years ago. “I don’t know why people keep going out and buying all those books. The answers are all right here.” he said as he put his hand on his Bible.
p.s. – months ago, you got me hooked on Issues.etc!
Edie Wadsworth says
Thank you so much for sharing, Susanne!
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Cindy Hancock says
In Christ alone! Yes, thank you for the wisdom you imparted to us today, through Christ. It’s all about Jesus Christ! As Paul wrote from a Roman prison to the people of Philippi…
“I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, 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 1:3-6 As His children, He is not finished with us! 🙂 So grateful for His grace!
Growing in faith with you,
Edie Wadsworth says
Bless you, sweet Cindy!
Edie. Thank you for your website and podcast. I completely hear you in regards to fads. Hearing the perspective of reception is amazing. That word…Reception…hits me fresh. I also have that same fad searching when it comes to homeschooling. There are so many good ideas and methods out there and when I try to implement them here at home I become rigid and ungrateful and lacking in grace. Thank you for your insight and sharing. Praising God that He continues to lead us to trust in His heart.
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