Trust and adjust?

She is a published author and skilled communicator. She has endured with resilience and grace what many would describe as an unfair twist of fate. Her testimony in the Lord’s faithfulness to deliver her not from but through her tragedy is both inspiring and challenging.

However, I listened to her speak with a mixture of unease and dread gnawing at my stomach.

I began to make an unofficial tally of how many times she named the name “Jesus.” I don’t know why. I just grew curious. I think I counted once. And, if you’re wondering, as was I, “repentance” came up with a subtotal of zero.

Not a scientific poll, of course.

I tried to both ignore and discount my misgivings. I wanted my unease to be unfounded, my misgivings unwarranted. I wanted to enjoy her jokes and be inspired by her beauty and her zeal. She was sincere; she was passionate; what more did I want, really? Who am I to judge?

All attempts to quiet my apprehensions fled when I glanced over at the notes the woman next to me had jotted down. My eyes caught the phrase “Cross: trust and adjust.” I nearly came out of my chair. Adjust? As if we approach the cross and find a little something in our lives that needs tweaking, a mere “adjustment”, and then we carry on our merry way because the rest of our lives is just fine? We just needed to “adjust” a little here and there?

I would offer that the kind of “adjustment” required of those who would seek the mercy Jesus offers at the cross is less of an adjustment and more like, well, death. Jesus commands that those who follow Him must take up their cross and die. Paul said he was crucified with Christ and he no longer lived but Christ lived in Him. In our flesh, we are sinful, depraved, wicked, rebellious children of wrath, fully deserving of an eternity of punishment in hell. Repenting of our sin isn’t an “adjustment”; it’s acknowledging our helpless, hopeless state before a holy, righteous God who will indeed judge sin with its rightful wages: death.

Trust is no small adjustment either. If I am truly trusting Christ and Christ alone for my salvation, I realize that there is nothing–nothing!–I have done to merit God’s favor. Nothing. Trust says that I place my hope fully and completely in the promise of God to save those who come to Him in repentance and faith. It’s all God; salvation is utterly and wholly His work. Trusting Him is both humbling and humiliating. No pride can stand before God’s sovereignty in salvation.

Genuine faith doesn’t “adjust”; it dies to self and responds in humble, faith-filled surrender.

Perhaps you think I am unnecessarily mincing words here. Perhaps you think me too harsh. After all, this speaker loves Jesus and certainly is not intentionally seeking to promote heresy of any kind. Of that I’m certain. She’s sincere; isn’t that more important?

Is it?

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Author: Lisa Spence

Wife, mother, Bible teacher, bibliophile, occasional blogger

15 thoughts on “Trust and adjust?”

  1. Sincerity, these days, is seen as a virtue on par with the spiritual fruits as described in Galatians 5. However, we can be quite SINCERELY WRONG. Sincerity is good, but I believe it is possible to be both sincere and in error, and it sounds as if there is something amok with what this speaker is talking about.

    Excellent post.

  2. I have to be honest and tell you as I read the first part of your post I couldn’t help but think “and this is exactly the reason I never go to any women’s conferences and such”. Sincerity, passion, humor, beauty, gifted speaker, gifted writer… all those things are great, but they do tend to dull our doctrinal senses when the speaker/author is in error in some way.

    To be fair to the speaker, what the lady wrote down in her notes may not have been what the speaker was trying to get across? (I confess, I’ve written “ground beef” on the back of the church bulletin when my pastor was speaking – when he never mentioned it at all, lol).

    Either way, I think you’re right to be circumspect. Too many of us ladies aren’t and that’s why so many fluff-filled books and seminars are so popular.

    1. While you are correct in the possibility that I may have misunderstood the notes taken by the lady beside me, it remains that, for whatever reason, the speaker’s message did not include the gospel of Jesus Christ as one of its main points. To some, that may be an overreaction. Yet I can’t help but think of Paul and the summation of his message and ministry: Christ and Him crucified. With no judgment call being made in regard to the speaker’s motivations, right or wrong, it just seems to me that for one who presumes to teach the Bible, when given one forty five minute window and no more to address a large gathering of women, that Jesus would factor in there somewhere.

      I don’t mean to be sound harsh. Really. I am more grieved and disappointed than anything else.

  3. I understand you’re grieved and disappointed. I would be, too. Unfortunately, this seems to occur more frequently than not…and sadly, many of us (including me) don’t even recognize it. It’s only recently that I’ve come to (attempt to) be more discerning in what I read/listen to.

  4. Let’s remember the Bereans and not be shy in examining what someone says in the name of Christ…”Now the Bereans were of more noble character than the Thessalonians, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true.”

  5. Great, great post. It’s why some people think I’m nitpicky when I take issue with something in some of my book reviews. And I think Scripture is clear that false prophets will be those within the church. All those -isms out there are not near the threat to the church as those who proclaim Christianity but preach a skewed theology.

    Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction. For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths. (2 Timothy 4:2-4)

  6. I agree with you and the previous comments. So, what do we do about it? Do we stand up after the conference is over, ask the women to listen to us for a few minutes, and speak the truth? I know it sounds CRAZY, but I did that at the end of a simulcast event one day. After the conference proper was over, and the announcements ended, I stood and asked for everyone’s attention. I went to the front and spoke for a few minutes. It wasn’t a pleasant ending to the day, but I couldn’t leave without saying anything. Was that out of line?

    You want to hear about something I did that was really out of line? At Kay Arthur’s National Women’s Convention back in 2002, they had a panel discussion for which they accepted questions from the women in attendance. One of the topics was about porn use and oral sex among Christians. As I listened to their answer, I began to sweat…no message of Christ and grace and perseverance and repentance, etc. I looked over at my friend and said, “I can’t take it.” I got up, marched to the front and stood at the side of the stage. One of the “handlers” came up to me and asked me if I needed something. I explained that I’d like to speak. Well, of course, they turned me away. After all, those women had not paid hundreds of $$ to hear me. I went back to my seat. Later that night, I spoke to the women in our group about what we heard and the truth. I think God saved me from looking like a complete fool in front of about 4000 women. But my urge to speak up gets the better of me sometimes.

  7. You know, I have really struggled with publishing this particular post. By no means do I consider myself superior spiritually, intellectually or Biblically than the speaker I refer to. Just last night I led a devotion at a ladies’ fellowship at my church. When I got home, I began to ask myself: “Did I emphasize the gospel? Did I remind the ladies their only hope is in Christ?” I wasn’t sure. I felt a terrible sense of conviction, especially since I had just posted this warning!

    However, I have an ongoing relationship with the ladies in my class. Certainly I fail, I fall short, I have sinned and mishandled the Word. It’s terrible, horrible, and I repent, with great grief and humility. The speaker I refer to here had one hour max, never to see those two thousand women again, and still she chose a message elevating feelings over repentance and faith.

    Leslie: I love that you at least attempted to stand for truth! Better to be a fool for Christ! 🙂 I just got an email last night from a reader of this blog asking what do we do? Stand by and let it slide? Be polite? I’m not sure exactly, so much depends on the situation at hand. What do you ladies think?

  8. Okay, I’ve stopped laughing at Leslie’s bravado! As Lisa said, better a fool for Christ…though I doubt I’d be that brave.

    In answer to your last question, Lisa…I really don’t know. I guess it would depend on the situation. Did the conference as a whole point to Christ & the gospel? If so, perhaps the speaker wouldn’t have been completely out of line by being more “life application” (as long as she rightly handled the Word, of course!). However, if she was the “featured speaker”, I believe she erred greatly. As you said, she had this one chance…and who knows how many attendees weren’t believers?

    I agree wholeheartedly with Ellen’s call for us to be Bereans. I know many times I’ve been guilty of just accepting what a speaker said, without making sure it was Biblically accurate. I’ve trusted the speaker implicitly, and incorrectly. I think many Christians are prone to that, particularly with the “popular” speakers who spout psychology with just enough “Bible talk” to make them seem convincing.

  9. This important topic is one that has disturbed me for years, and I’ve gotten myself into hot water at times by speaking up. Not in such a large venue as you did, Leslie, but I certainly respect your passion for truth that led you there! Whenever there is an open forum opportunity to speak, I would certainly do that.

    Another way to stand for truth is through a thoughtfully written letter to the speaker. I’ve done that and have had only one response—pitiful—but perhaps such a letter could be used by God to make a person reconsider their message in light of Scripture. I realize that big name people will likely never read the letter, but you never know…

    I do think it’s important that we not be silent and that we use whatever opportunity God may give us to speak for him when others are being led astray.

  10. I think we need to continue to search for truth and speak it in love.

    I am no Martin Luther, that is for sure, but I often wonder where we would be had someone not spoken up. The situation Lisa was in may not have been exactly like what the pre-Reformation church was, but things have a way of subtly becoming bad; like the frog in the kettle.

    I think we need to pick our battles and speak with discernment, grace, and wisdom and in the venue afforded to women.

  11. This post and the comments here are a huge encouragement for me. I often feel very alone with similar thoughts about many “Christian/Bible” teachers of today. I really try hard not to be critical of others but solid biblical discernment seems to be lacking all over the place. Not sure what our response should be but I love Rosemary’s idea of a personal letter. I often pray for boldness that I may bring God’s Word to the surface whenever possible. That means making more of an effort to memorize Scripture and be ready to give a response as God allows. Thank you Lisa for posting this. And thank you all for your comments. This was like a breath of fresh air and I am grateful.

  12. Sincerity more important than truth? I don’t think so! And a Christian speaker that minimizes or leaves out the message of Christ, His person and work? I don’t think you are too critical at all, Lisa!

    I probably wouldn’t have the courage to speak up like you did, Leslie, but I think your solution of a well thought out letter is a great one, Rosemary.

    Great, thought-provoking post, Lisa.

  13. I’ve been chewing on your post for a few days now, Lis. The topic is one that’s been stewing on my back burner for some time now. It began with a visit to a Christian bookstore about six months ago, when I saw shelves laden with beautifully designed books purported to be “Bible studies”. The care with which these books were marketed was clear. I call them “double-dipped”. Each book, dripping with marketing savvy, had been sugar-coated and double-dipped in gooey sentimentality targeted at women who’ve somehow bought into the notion that God is there to “meet their needs”.

    This may turn into a full-blown post, so I’d better stop there.

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