Part of my story

The Christian internet is a strange place and that may be the understatement of the year. Lines drawn in the sand, critiques and criticisms lobbied back and forth, tempers flared, hysteria and histrionics, all are part and parcel of the issue or tragedy of the day. Truly it is exhausting, not to mention confusing, trying to determine who or what one is supposed to agree with on a given day.

One of the latest evangelical brouhahas involves Mark Driscoll and some comments he made at a recent conference. In the midst of the social media flurry of censure and reproach–or perhaps because of it–Jared Wilson posted “John Piper and Mark Driscoll Talked Me Off a Bridge.” In his post, and you really must read it, Wilson describes how the Lord used the ministries of these two men to, in Jared’s words, save his life.

I was clinging to the hem of Christ’s garment then, sleeping in our guest bedroom, by which I mean living in the guest bedroom and spending plenty of nights face down on the carpet groaning. I was picking up the crumbs where I could find them. Two sources of bread. The podcasts of the aforementioned Pastors Mark and John. I was getting a vision of a very big Jesus with a very big grace for sinners from them. And the Spirit used their preaching in those days to work a gospel renaissance in my life, a miracle really. My wife can attest to that.

Wilson acknowledged the possibility of some “some pushback if only because of those names you see up there in the title,” but attests “this is part of my story, part of my gospel wakefulness, and it is a part I will never deny or disavow.”

Like many who read that post I thought of my story, my gospel wakefulness, and the men and women, sinners all, who the Lord used in profound ways. Two watershed moments come immediately to mind, their influence on me so profound that their memory remains clear and distinct.

I’ve told you before of my first taste of in depth Bible study. I was a young mom of a toddler and a baby, the baby then only weeks old. An older woman in our church offered a Bible study on Sunday afternoons, “A Heart Like His” by Beth Moore. I remember reading the details in our church newsletter and telling my husband I thought I’d attend. Why, I don’t know, apart, of course, from the Lord’s providential grace. I clearly recall sitting at the table in the church classroom at the close of the first video session, looking to my friend who sat next to me and saying “Wow.”

Wow, indeed. Does it seem crazy to you that I, who had grown up in church, had no idea that the Bible could be known like that? Or that a woman could teach like that? I was blown away. The Lord used that study, that teacher, to birth in me a passion for His Word and for teaching and for theology and for study and for encouraging women in the deeper things of the Lord. This is part of my story and I am indebted to Beth Moore.

I have also related many times the incident of me on my back patio reading a book on grace and my inner legalist being so shocked that at the close of the book I said aloud, “That can’t be right.” Which is, you know, how every law-bound self-righteous Pharisee responds to the scandal of true grace. That book was “The Ragamuffin Gospel” by Brennan Manning and its effect on me and my understanding of grace was nothing short of profound. I’m re-reading it now and finding its depiction of God’s grace to ragamuffins like me to be encouraging, and yes, still a little shocking. This too is part of my story and I am grateful for it.

Manning and Moore both have their critics in certain corners of the Christian world but their part in my story I cannot disavow.

Truly there are many more men and women, some famous, some not, who faithfully served the Lord and in so doing affected my life in ways they could not know. The countless Sunday school teachers of my growing up years. My pastor and his blog posts that I read long before he was my pastor. Many of you who are reading these words and your blogs. John Piper and the first book of his I ever read, “Seeing and Savoring Jesus Christ.” Nancy Leigh DeMoss and her books “Brokenness” and “Surrender” that I used to facilitate a group at a time when both brokenness and surrender seemed far too painful a price. The list goes on and on.

I am part of their legacy of faith, God pouring His grace on me, a sinner, through the lives and ministries of other sinners–isn’t that just like Him? It pleases Him to use the foolish and the folly of what they preach to save those who believe. Indeed He chose the low and despised, the things that are not, to bring to nothing the things that are so that we might not boast before Him. Christ is our wisdom and righteousness and sanctification and redemption. Not man, not a book, not a preacher. Jesus. We boast in Him. (1 Cor. 1:18-31)

Wilson closes his post with the admonition to preach the gospel:

Don’t stop preaching the gospel. And if you don’t preach the gospel, start. Then don’t stop. You don’t know whose life you are saving. Not you, really, but God.

God is in his gospel faithfully proclaimed doing his thing, talking people off bridges. Me? I’ll never forget. So I’ll never stop.

His grace is not without effect, yes and amen. Let us be found faithful!

Who has the Lord used in your life? To whom are you grateful for their faithful ministry? Who is part of your story, a part you cannot deny or disavow?

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Author: Lisa Spence

Wife, mother, Bible teacher, bibliophile, occasional blogger

15 thoughts on “Part of my story”

  1. You are right, it was a great post! While I may not agree with all of the theology of Piper and Driscoll, I would be completely blind if I said that the Spirit is not using their words and their work for His kingdom!
    This also reminds me of how quick we are to put our “spiritual mentors” on a pedestal for the purpose of knocking them down.

    May God bless those giants of whose shoulders we stand!

  2. I absolutely loved Beth Moore’s sermon tapes on the book of Job – radically changed my viewpoint on God’s love for me as well as my view of the things that I fear. It is my hope that the “Christian Internet” can become a place (as is needed in all other areas of Christian community) where we seek what unites us and join together for the cause of Christ rather than focusing on differences.
    Blessings 🙂
    -Jen
    http://thelilyandthemarrow.wordpress.com/

  3. I have heard many other women share how Beth Moore’s studies opened up their eyes and gave them a hunger for the Word. In that instance and in Jared Wilson’s case, it was the Word that went forward; they were only vessels of that word. It was simply how God put the word out. I was really ministered to in studying the word through Precept ministries, yet there are things about Kay Arthur that I don’t like. It’s God’s word. Thanks, Lisa, as always for being an example of grace.

    1. Yes, faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of Christ. It is not Beth Moore that granted me a hunger for the Word of God; she was the vessel the Lord chose to employ to draw me to Himself. What a good and gracious God who is indeed sovereign!

  4. Lisa I was also brought along in my early faith by people whose doctrine I would differ with now. The pastor who had the greatest influence on us, who discipled us and led many others to Christ who in turn became missionaries and pastors ended up denying the faith completely. The fact that God’s Word is so transforming regardless of who delivers it increases my faith all the more.

    1. Yes! I think of Isaiah’s assertion that the Word will accomplish His purposes and I am living testimony to that truth–glory to God! It is all His work and boasting is excluded!

  5. God is perfect but He uses imperfect means to save and grow imperfect people. If I try to deny who He has used in my past because I disagree with their theology now, in a way I am denying His faithfulness. Thanks for this reminder, Lisa.

    1. That is a good point, Persis. When I tempted to frustration over this or that statement that so-and-so may or may not have made, I remember that the Lord drew me to Himself and taught me the Truth of the Word through rather imperfect and inadequate means. He can do so for others as well. Of course we need to be wise and discerning but we also need to trust the Lord’s faithfulness and sovereignty.

    1. I am glad you were encouraged. While I haven’t facilitated a Beth Moore study in many years, for various reasons, I do not forget the debt of gratitude I owe her.

  6. In my early adult years, I was in a group of women who did a study using Nicole Johnson’s, A Fresh Brewed Life. It wasn’t very deep doctrinally, but it was a springboard for me to see how my theology affects my everyday life as a woman. Johnson was very good at identifying the issues that we all struggle with, and encouraged us to think with our Christian minds. There are good reasons why I wouldn’t recommend the study, however, God was gracious to use it as a stepping stone for us.
    Now that I am a writer, I have struggled with my known weaknesses and pray that God will you my own feeble words to glorify him and disciple women in the faith. This makes me want to give more grace to other writers, and place my confidence in the Lord.
    This is an encouraging post, Lisa, thank you.

  7. Great post, Lisa! My love for Bible study was also inspired by my first Beth Moore study–“A Woman’s Heart: God’s Dwelling Place.” I had the same reaction you did. Plus, I had never really studied the Old Testament, so seeing Christ so clearly through the Tabernacle was a mind-blowing revelation. My initiation into grace was through Jerry Bridges’ book, “Transforming Grace, ” and it changed my life.

  8. What a great post Lisa! There are so many people that have radically affected my life and Christian walk, the Lord chose them and they were able to reach through in some way through my hardheartedness, or simplicity, or ignorance to somehow bring me a step closer to the Lord. I cannot deny the effect they have had in my life.

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