To the Independent Man: You Are Not Christ

I’ve been human long enough to notice that if there’s one characteristic we have that usually creeps in unnoticed, that would be 



Nothing’s wrong with the word, really. In a competitive society you’ve always been encouraged to strive, compete, excel, and work, else you’d fall behind the billions who’ve been trying to make through life longer than you’ve been. And that’s true. You don’t sit around waiting for the fish to flip from the water and land on your lap. That does not happen in real life (unless you’re going boating on a river teeming with ADHD fish waiting to be fired up).

Many too often we find ourselves forgetting the essence of the good news we have received about God’s kingdom (we are saved by grace). Even Paul was perplexed with the Galatians who seemed to have forgotten how they were saved, going back to the law to “add justification” through works – and it had only been less than a century since Jesus Christ’s ascension! It’s human nature, isn’t it?

No matter the situation, we are constantly driven by our proud nature to do something about something, make it work, etc. We take things into our own hands. Perhaps you get back at that guy who cut in line. Maybe you do the whole job yourself when your team doesn’t do anything. Maybe you jump on a job offer without waiting for consultation because it might be too late because it’s a crazy world out there. Or, maybe, when you get (or don’t get) caught in sin, you try to patch things up yourself.

But of course, you won’t admit it. You most likely won’t even notice it.

My head says I was saved by grace – by the blood of Jesus Christ shed on the cross – but after deep thought I realized I don’t really practice what I say I knew. When I do a good deed, I feel more saved than I’ve been before. I feel closer to heaven the more I engage in service than when I haven’t. When I fail in the good deeds department or fall into sin, I don’t feel forgiven until I’ve done a greater good – more time in service, extended Bible studies, etc. And when the guilt makes it harder to believe God would not get tired of my apologies, I drift into a stagnant phase – not doing anything about it at all. Have you ever felt the same way?

Self-dependent reader, do not mistake joy in bearing fruits with salvation.

Peter, who was so sure he loved Jesus there was no way he’d deny Him, denied Jesus three times just as predicted! After Christ’s death, he went back to fishing, disheartened and discouraged at his denial and of the death of his Lord. This is normal; you’d probably run into this point a few times in your life. And that is fine. Just because you’re a Christian does not mean you would no longer disappoint God. This is no excuse to cling on to sin, however. In fact, this truth should motor us towards Jesus – in humility. For what are we but believers in our earth suits?

After Christ’s resurrection, He went to the disciples who were fishing all night and when John told Peter, “It is the Lord!” Peter wrapped his outer garment around him and jumped (threw himself) into the water. (John 21:7)

Imagine having denied your Lord and Friend three times after you swore you wouldn’t and He shows up in front of you, smiling – resurrected. Every time I read this portion of the passage I start tearing up, thinking how Peter must’ve felt when his Lord comes back after he denies their relationship. How he must have been so excited to fall to Christ’s feet. How he must have felt a little miserable inside, wondering what could happen next.

Peter was a leader, having leader-tendencies – leading, initiating, working with his hands, etc. But there really are things you could not do on your own. Peter’s own grace (or efforts) could not vindicate himself. Neither do yours.

You are not Christ. You could follow the thousands of religious rituals known to mankind and still be lost. Just because you feel better after doing something good does not mean you are forgiven through it. Grace is not earned. Why act like it is? Again, it goes unnoticed most of the time. After all, are not good deeds, well, good?

“Are you so foolish? After beginning with the Spirit, are you now trying to attain your goal by human effort?” Galatians 3:3

“Does God give you His Spirit and work miracles among you because you observe the law, or because you believe what you heard?” Galatians 3:5

This strikes me hard and deep because my subconscious gets confused sometimes. Of course I knew good deeds are and should only be consequences of my faith and that’s what I tell people when I share the gospel. But the selfish in me still thinks there’s no such thing as free lunch; hence, it gets a little restless when not driven by effort.

“You mean, we can’t work for grace and mercy? Isn’t it too much to receive? What do we do?”

Isn’t that why we call it grace and mercy? Because no matter how much we try, our efforts could not afford the value of His Grace.But the good thing is this: the God we serve – the Great I AM – is good. He is full of grace and mercy – generous to those who seek His face.

Good deeds, fruits, are good, yes. But remember, independent reader, that they do not cause our righteousness. They are merely responses to it. The quantity of works does not add up to nor take away God’s love or your righteousness. One does not bear fruits apart from Christ.

It is a difficult battle with your sinful nature. It is tempting to think you had a share in this blessed life. It is tempting to think you are favored because you did good or because you spent more time serving or reading the Bible. But remember, independent reader, that there is nothing much better than depending on the Lord. His favors are at His disposal. His gift of salvation is not earned, and our efforts – big or small – could not discount its greatness.

Look to Him, my friend. Yes, look at Jesus. You are only a branch living off the living vine. You are not Christ.


Written By: Katherine CodasAine. Hand grasped by the Great I AM, she basks in love and mercy, and grace over grace.

On the trivial side, Aine has a recent weird attachment to green tea, and grainy films. Currently a freelance editor, she also writes regularly at Muted Rhapsodies.

Pointed in the Right Direction

Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to takeProverbs 3:6 NLT

Though I could see the tower from my front porch, its being near did me little good.

My wife and I were living in a small town in Lowcountry South Carolina. Like many others, we had decided not to forego a landline and use our cell phones only. The trouble was reception was terrible. Since I could see our provider’s tower idling less than one mile away, I couldn’t understand why I had to stand near a window or go outside for others to hear me clearly or to keep from dropping a call. Until I called to complain.

“I’ll put in a work order,” the customer service representative said as I explained my dilemma.

A few months later, I called back to find out the results. “Well, the satellites on the tower are pointed away from you,” I was told. “They always point them in the direction where the most people live.”

“Can’t you just send someone out to point them in my direction,” I queried.

She laughed and said, “It’s not that easy.”

At some point, I guess they did because reception improved. It reminded me of how important it is to have things—myself included, pointed in the right direction. The wisdom writer thought so also. Trusting in the Lord with all one’s heart and seeking His will in everything I do keeps me on the right path.

Being pointed in the right direction means I have to walk by faith where I use a sixth sense, rather than the five I normally use to interact with things and others. When I walk by faith, I proceed through disappointing times believing God will construct things for the better in the end. When I walk by faith, I face financial setbacks with the hope God will remain true to His Word and take care of my needs. Hitting relationship snags isn’t a problem either. I believe God will guide me through them as well by unkinking the kinks. Nor is needing daily guidance a problem for a future seeing God. I may not be able to research the answers I need, but the inner prompting of God’s Spirit will give me insight.

Point your life in the right direction, and be amazed by how straight your path will become.

Written By: Martin Wiles

Martin lives in Greenwood, SC, and is the founder of Love Lines from God ( He is an author, minister, and freelance editor. His most recent book, Grits & Grace & God, is available on Amazon. He serves as Managing Editor for Christian Devotions and Assistant Editor for Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas. His next book, Grits & Gumbo & Going to Church is scheduled for release in September 2016.

(Un)Apologetic Parenting

Recently I went to judge at a speech and debate tournament, and much to my surprise I found out that a little book that I made for the junior speakers when I directed a tournament several years before was still being used.  This was really my first attempt at writing and it was a little booklet of apologetic questions and answers that I made for the children aged 6-11 who were competing in the NCFCA-National Christian Forensics and Communications Association.

The NCFCA is a speech and debate league for homeschool students. They offer a speech category for apologetics, which is a fancy word for defending your faith. When my eldest son was in junior high and high school he spent all 6 years seeking answers to the 150 questions of the faith that were the questions that made up that event of the competition. Participating in this activity was really helpful in forming his world view, and seeking things out on his own. It gave him an opportunity to answer questions like explain the meaning and significance of sanctification, justification, and propitiation. Which are some really big words, and even bigger concepts for a 12 year old.

When I wrote this booklet my youngest son was in junior speech, and would be competing in Apologetics the following year. I really wanted him to start working on some of those difficult theological concepts, and I remembered how daunting tackling 150 questions of the faith were to a lot of the kids in the leauge. If you have ever heard the expression, how do you eat an elephant? The answer is one bite at a time. Well, I don't know anyone who has ever eaten an elephant, but I thought it was a pretty good analogy for my youngest son, and the other kids his age, to begin exploring these questions of the faith. One bite or one concept at a time. And if they could start with 10 questions, then they could do 10 more, and another 10 and so on.

So I took 10 of the 150 questions, with at least one question from each of the five categories. So they could have exposure to each of the five categories.


Armed with my ESV study bible in hand, I set out to explain concepts like the Omniscience and Omnipresence of God in simple basic terms, along with some key memory verses.

I believe it is important that my kids know what they believe, and why they believe it, because as old adage says, "If they don't stand for something, they will fall for anything." Also, as we learn from the warning in Collisions 2:8, "See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ."

Why is this important? Because according to the Barna group, "Parents and leaders have long been concerned about the faith development of the generation born between 1984 and 2002—and for good reason. First, Barna research shows nearly six in ten (59%) of these young people who grow up in Christian churches end up walking away from either their faith or from the institutional church at some point in their first decade of adult life." That means that more then half of the kids that currently go to church are leaving the faith!

I think our kids have a better chance of staying in church and following Christ, if they know what they believe and why they believe it.It is our job and responsibility as parents to teach our children in the way they should go, but it is up to them to own their faith and walk it out.

My belief on this subject has been recently challenged, as my eldest son has decided to leave the church we attend as a family in search of his own church home. At first, I was a little hurt by this, because I love having my family all together digging into God's word, and worshipping with them. But then I realized this is exactly what I taught him to do. He is firmly grounded in what he believes and why he believes it, so he will not get swept away by empty deceit or human tradition. As a man, my son does have to make his own way, and he is the one who is responsible for his faith.

There is no fool proof plan or formula that parents can follow that will assure that their kids stay in the church or that they will follow Christ for that matter. However, the bible does give us a promise to cling to, in Proverbs 22:6, that if we teach our kids in the way they should go, that when they our old, they will not depart. It is however, our responsibility to teach our children to love God, to share our faith with them, to lead them by example by spending time in the word, and praying with them.


Written By: Misty Phillip

Misty Phillip and her husband Peter live in the suburbs just north of Houston, Texas with their three boys, Jacob, Connor, and Ian, where they are active members of Champion Forest Baptist Church. Misty left the corporate world over 15 years ago to homeschool her children, and thus began an adventure of a lifetime. Misty loves studying her bible, cooking healthy meals for her family, and creating a warm inviting home for friends and family. Misty is excited to share her years of experience as a Christian wife, mother, daughter, homeschooler, and friend. You can find Misty on the web at

Remain Open In The Midst Of Your Activity

Today as you are active in the events before you understand in all these things I am also working on your heart and mind. Yes, I am working in, and through, circumstances to accomplish my will, my purposes, and my plans, but I am also working on you as an individual too. I am working to shape you, mold you, and perfect you. So understand, some of the things you are involved with are for the work that will be accomplished, and other things you are involved with are working on you.

There are mindsets and attitudes within you that will be revealed only as you encounter certain and specific events and circumstances. So I will work in these events to bring them to your awareness. I will coach you in these moments, and teach you as you encounter and experience what I’ve put before you. So be mindful in this moment, understanding you are in a good place. And though there are things in your life you would like to change in this present moment, understand you are in a good place, and I am with you every single minute.

Each experience you encounter will bring about its desired effect, in both your circumstances as well as your heart and mind, over the course of time. So embrace what is before you, knowing everything is working out for you ultimate gain and benefit. In the end, everything will work for your good, my Dear Ones, so do not run from obstacles or that which may be difficult or challenging.

Many of these challenges have been presented to you in order to help you grow. These challenges are the very thing you need, because they function as a catalyst to spark the change within you to improve you. So do not run from them, deny them, or reject them, but embrace and accept them for what they are – the catalyst for your improvement and growth.

In the midst of these challenges continue to keep your heart and ears and eyes open. For I am speaking to you. I am revealing things to you. I am teaching you. I am exposing and confronting mindsets and emotions within you through these challenges. So listen as you work. Take care to keep your ears open as you are busy, working in your daily tasks.

The daily tasks are good, but there is another dimension, another layer of understanding and activity you can interact with and learn from if you will be open to do so. If you remain open, I will speak, you will hear, and you will learn and grow.

Many of your questions will be answered as you open yourself to listen, to hear, to feel, and to receive. You will understand the nature of your questions, and you will understand, with perspective, the answers to what is perplexing you. So ask, and continue to ask, but also remain open. Remain open to listen, and hear my answers, as I speak to you through life events, circumstances, and especially through specific challenges you encounter.

Written By: neil vermillion

Neil Vermillion is a blogger offering a prophetic word for today each day on his blog and email newsletter.  He is also an intercessor, prophetic life coach, dream interpreter, and he really loves Jesus.

Who Moved the Fence?

Michael Yaconelli articulates this powerful story in his book, Messy Spirituality—God’s Annoying Love for Imperfect People. Chronicled during World War II, he recounts the actions of a group of soldiers and one old priest in the rural countryside of France:

“During an intense battle, one of the American soldiers was killed. His comrades did not want to leave his body on the battlefield and decided to give him a Christian burial. They remembered a church a few miles behind the front lines whose grounds included a small cemetery surrounded by a white fence. After receiving permission to take their friend’s body to the cemetery, they set out for the church arriving just before sunset.

“A priest, his bent-over back and frail body betraying his many years, responded to their knocking. His face, deeply wrinkled and tan, was the home to fierce eyes that flashed wisdom and passion. Our friend was killed in battle,’ they blurted out, ‘and we wanted to give him a church burial.’

“Apparently the priest understood what they were asking, although he spoke in very broken English. ‘I’m sorry,’ he said, ‘but we can only bury those of the same faith here.’ Weary after many months of war, the soldiers simply turned to walk away. ‘But,’ the old priest called after them, ‘you can bury him outside the fence.’

“Cynical and exhausted, the soldiers dug a grave and buried their friend just outside the white fence. They finished after nightfall. They next morning, the entire unit was ordered to move on, and the group raced back to the little church for one final good-bye to their friend. When they arrived, they couldn’t find the gravesite. Tired and confused, they knocked on the door of the church. They asked the old priest if he knew where they had buried their friend. ‘It was dark last night and we were exhausted. We must have been disoriented.’

“A smile flashed across the old priest’s face. ‘After you left last night, I could not sleep, so I went outside early this morning and I moved the fence.’”

Isn’t that truly the power of God’s grace through Christ’s death and resurrection? Jesus through taking our sin upon himself on Calvary’s cross changed the rules of the game. Those who were at one time outside the fence now are included in God’s plan of salvation. The Apostle John in one of the most famous verses in all the world says it so eloquently, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” God showers on the world that would reject his love grace upon grace through his Son, Jesus Christ. Who moved the fence? Jesus did. Why did he move the fence? Because of his love for the world. How did move the fence? By taking on himself the sins of the entire world. And what does that mean for us? If we believe in him we will not perish but live life eternal reunited with the Creator. I am so glad he moved that fence and included me in his kingdom.

Written By: B. Keith Haney

Husband for 25 years. Father of six, and Mission catalyst helping plant new churches and congregations find shepherds in Northern Illinois. All the while serving an Awesome God. You can find him on the web at