Thursday, March 15, 2012


To those who follow this blog, Due to circumstances beyond my control, "THE CROSSING: CHURCH OR CULT" is closing shop. Thanks to any and all who followed my blog, may the Good Lord bless you in Christ, Casey

Wednesday, March 14, 2012




Just giving my readers a review of the new blog posting schedule I'll roll out in full beginning Monday, March 19th.  Tomorrow I'll announce the focus of my upcoming critique of The Crossing Church, so be sure to check back and see what it is I will be covering, beginning next Thursday. I might give a big picture overview tomorrow. Blessings to all, Casey     


To access the other semons in this series, which I highly recommend, then scroll down to "LABELS", on the right hand column.

Monday, March 12, 2012



I didn't realize writing my story would take so long! Things that I needed to address kept popping up. But now that I am finished, I'm going to take a week off (well maybe I'll post a few things) and gear up for the weekly blog posting schedule and start preparing material for the first week.

This is the schedule I plan on following...
Blessings to all, and if you haven't read my story (look under "LABELS" right side column). I would encourage you to do so, because it is full of both deep Gospel truth and practical application of the Gospel to your specific circumstances. Who knows, maybe my story is available for you to read because the Lord wants to rescue you from spiritual danger. Take care, Casey

Sunday, March 11, 2012


This will be the sixth and final part of my story, and it is loaded with great, practical, Gospel Truth. This story is not so much about me as it is about God. My purpose in sharing my story was not for my own glory but to glorify God and magnify His great works of redemption. He invades our lives, uninvited, and rescues sinners who are totally unaware as to their true spiritual condition.

The Gospel liberates Christians like me from slavery to sin and restores our souls day by day. It is a sweet, cool oasis in a hot desert. We can rest in the Gospel. We can toss away our to-lists of moral improvements, dispose of oppressive, unbiblical  rules and standards that weigh us down, and rest in Christ, knowing that His redemptive work on our behalf is finished.

 I have been so blessed in sharing my story with others, and if you attend The Crossing, I am especially reaching out to you. It is my prayer that God will shine His ten trillion candlepower searchlight on your spiritual blindness and grant you a better understanding of the Gospel. I love sharing Gospel Truth with anyone willing to read or listen.If you need to catch up on my story, follow the hyperlink back to where you left off, or just start at the beginning. 
My pain and suffering was more just than the debilitating symptoms I experienced in 2011. Before that, from the time I became a Christian to the point when God completed His spiritual rescue mission of me culminating in His great providential epiphany, I was also suffering from great spiritual pain and suffering from the bad fruit of legalism.

But God was on a mission to rescue me from a whole host of spiritual ills, most notably the vicious cycle of legalism I was enslaved to. There was a spiritual processing going on as I went through the entire progression of those dreadful physical symptoms which suddenly began in January of 2011. What was God's purpose in afflicting me with symptoms so terrible that made me wish I were dead?

True, I had been preaching the Gospel to myself daily for several years, and still continued to do so throughout my health crisis of 2011. But there were (and still are) areas of my life in which I was spiritually blind. What was it that God wanted me to see?

Without a proper understanding of the Gospel, even in it's most basic expression, there can be no Divine rescue.Christian illumination of our problems do not happen in a vacuum. There must be an intellectual understanding of the Gospel before the Lord moves on our hearts to apply that knowledge to our unique circumstances, rescuing us from spiritually danger.

I'll put this into the perspective of my particular circumstances. If you don't know what I am talking about, you will want to read Part One of my story. As a new Christian, God providentially granted me a greater understanding of the Gospel through His divinely inspired Word, and through many Gospel-centered resources that I listened to and read over and over again. This was important in my intellectual understanding of the Gospel and increased my level of discernment of the many heresies, false teachings, false teachers, and false gospels in the world. So intellectually I understood that there is a slippery slope in which an otherwise solid church could slip into heresy if leadership failed to be diligent in the area of discernment.

But it wasn't until I actually experienced the slippery slope of error creeping into my old church home of Wayzata Evangelical Free Church that the Lord moved my heart into action: God had providentially led me to the conclusion that I needed to find a new church home for me and my family. God had rescued us from theological mediocrity and theological error by providentially leading me to a solid church home. At Redeemer Bible Church, me and my family were truly blessed with the solid biblical preaching, teaching, leadership, and Christian fellowship that was absent at Wayzata Free. .

And throughout my membership at Redeemer Bible Church up to the present, I have been blessed with phenomenal preaching of the Gospel; it was pounded into my thick skull over and over again. At Redeemer Bible Church my intellectual understanding of the Gospel grew exponentially.

But it wasn't until my debilitating physical, mental and spiritual decline that began in early January 2011 that I started to process my intellectual understanding of the Gospel and apply the Truth of the Gospel directly to my dire circumstances. With God the Holy Spirit as my Divine ten trillion candlepower searchlight, the Lord opened my eyes to the ugly truth of my legalistic, "do more, try harder, get my life organized" ethic.

The Lord has taught me that, in Christ, I am free to be a failure at life, because Christ was my Champion who didn't fail on my behalf. When Christ cried out on the cross, "It is finished", He meant it. He had done what I failed to do. All I have to do is trust in the finished work of Christ and bow my knee to His supreme authority.

Consequently, I have liberty to do things that I would never do before; as long as it is does not violate God's Word or bind my conscience, I am free! I am free at last from the bondage of legalism that gripped years of my life as a Christian, and that is how the Lord rescued me from the bondage of legalism through the Gospel.

When God sets out on a rescue mission to return His lost, wayward sheep into the safety and security of His Heavenly fold, He never, ever fails. And in the end God's message to me was loud and clear. What did God open my eyes to? The answer is counter intuitive. I'll tell you what His message was not. It wasn't that He was angry with me because of my countless moral and spiritual failures and that I had better try harder and get my act together or he would withdraw His blessings from me. That is not the Gospel!

It was more like, "You have absolutely no control over your life. I Am the the One who is Sovereign, I Am the King, I Am the One who is in complete control of your life, not you. I Am the One who chose you and rescued you from the torments of everlasting Hell. I Am the One who lived the morally perfect life that you constantly fail to do. I Am tho One who died the death that you deserve, securing My Divine blessings upon you forever.....

....I Am your Heavenly Daddy and you are my adopted son, and I will never, ever expel you from My great Kingdom. I Am the one who is preparing you to enter into eternal rest, joy, and pleasure in My kingdom. Every single one of your sins, past, present, and future, are covered by the righteousness of Christ,  so stop working so hard to get you're act together! Junk all your efforts at self-improvement and ordering your life: It won't work! Believe in Me, rest in Me, and trust Me when I say that whatever horrible events happen in your life, they are happening with My Divine purpose in mind, designed for your ultimate good and benefit." That's the Gospel!

Now to make a few more important points related to my story before the close.....

All genuine Christians believe that at the point of their salvation, they are saved by faith alone. The problem is that some Christians have the unbiblical view that the ongoing process of SANCTIFICATION is done by works. Sanctification the process of becoming more "Christ-like" and growing in personal holiness. When we fail to understand the Gospel and all of it's implications, we end up with our own "self-sanctification" project. We think, "I as saved by faith, and that's awesome, but now it's time to act. I have to do this and do that and try harder to be a better person".

That is godless self-reliance. We are attempting to do something that can only be accomplished by God alone. And part of my problem was this "sanctification by works" ethic, a sub-species of legalism. Have I gotten better as a Christian? Has there been moral improvement? Yes, but I really haven't improved all that much. No. The same old sins keep popping up like weeds in a garden. You pull up one weed and ten more pop up a week later in the same spot. As pastor Tullian Tchividjian puts it, "You get better when you that realize that you are not getting any better".

That may seem like an absurd statement to make, but it is absolutely true. As fallen, broken people we have no ability to achieve moral perfection, not even close! But by believing the Gospel, you are resting in the finished work of Christ. You realize that you have no resources within yourself to do any good, so you come to God as a helpless, dependent child, stripped of your self-reliance, and completely dependent on the Lord to complete His rescue mission.

It is clear that the Bible teaches repentance. But once again, biblically illiterate Christians fail to understand the true meaning of biblical repentance, and as a new Christian I fell into the same error. It is true that repentance is turning from your sins and living a life of obedience to God. Yet many Christians wrongly believe that repentance is a one time event that happens the moment they become a Christian; it becomes an exercise in moral improvement the moment they believe, and that once you repent it's a done deal. You clean up your act and you obey God, end of story.

Now honestly, can anyone on the planet succeed in instantly cleaning up their moral failures, getting rid of all their unbelief, their idols, their pride, their legalistic and self-righteous attitudes and live in perfect obedience to God? That is an utterly absurd posture to take. As a Christian I have innumerable sins I struggle with every single day, and that is failing to obey God, am I right?

Without a proper understanding of repentance, Christians live in constant fear that, by failing clean up their act and live in obedience to God's Word, that they are in danger of losing their salvation (a completely unbiblical position to take). My thinking was a bit different, It was like, "if the Bible calls me to repent and if I keep falling into the same old sinful patterns that have always plagued me, then I guess I haven't really repented, therefore I wonder if I am really saved". The error of misunderstanding repentance results in a nagging, spiritually oppressive suspicion that either you are not really saved, or that God will be so angry with you because of your unending compulsion to sin that He will boot you out of His kingdom. Not so!     

True, repentance is turning from your sins, but it goes much deeper than just moral reformation. Biblical repentance is an ongoing, day to day process. And as long as we have sin in our lives we must continue to repent. If you just turn from your sin without turning to something infinitely greater, then you have missed the entire point of repentance.

Let me to give you an example of biblical repentance. As I explained in Part five, there are three root sins inherent in all of us from which all other sins sprout and grow; unbelief, idolatry, and pride. Now let's say that as a Christian I fall into my old sinful pattern of looking at pornography (as I have done). As a Christian my conscience is tenderized, so I know that looking at pornography is wrong, that I have disobeyed God and I need to confess my sin to God and repent....

 .....But in order to repent biblically, I have to look at the root sin underneath the bad behavior of looking at pornography. In other words, when I fall into the sinful pattern of looking at pornography, I am failing to believe (UNBELIEF) the Gospel. In the moment I do not believe God's promise that my greatest pleasure and joy are found in Him alone, the one Being of greatest intrinsic value, and I have exchanged Him for the filthy idol of pornography. (IDOLATRY) And in the moment of sin, I don't want to obey God, but I want to run from His supreme authority, and live my life the way I want to. (PRIDE)

Repentance then, is first recognizing that your "sinning" is caused by one or more of the root sins of unbelief, idolatry, or pride, then turning away from your sins (your behaviors or desires of lesser value) and turning to Christ (the One Being of greatest intrinsic value). It's like coming home from the store with a bag full of groceries. You walk in the door and your loving wife is there and she wants to give you a great big hug and shower you with love and affection. You can't do that if you are holding a bag of groceries, so you have to get rid of the bag (an item of lesser value) in order to receive the hug, love, and affection of your wife (a being of greater value).

This biblical Truth is extremely practical, because in the moment you want to sin, you are faced with a great decision. "Do I want to have pleasure and joy in a cheap, worthless idol that will ultimately lead to my spiritual poverty, or do I want to my supreme pleasure and joy to be anchored in the Lord, resulting in spiritual riches beyond my wildest dreams?" When we turn from our sin with belief that our supreme pleasure and joy are found only in the Lord, we are obeying the Lord with the proper motivation.

I want to point out that in the New Testament epistles (letters sent to churches) especially the epistles of the Apostle Paul, are arranged in a very particular way. For example, look over Paul's Epistle to the Romans and you will notice that he arranges his epistle with a huge theology lesson first (Chapters 1-11)  followed by instructions on how to live as a Christian; proper Christian conduct in relationship with God, yourself, and other people and institutions (Chapters 12-16). Remember that Paul was writing letters primarily to other churches in general and to Christians in particular, reminding them of the Gospel and to keep the Gospel central. He was not writing to non-Christians.

Notice Paul always begins his epistles with Gospel indicatives. A Gospel indicative is a theological explanation and reminder of what a Christians is. On the other hand, a Gospel imperative is instruction on how a Christian ought to conduct himself/herself.

The thrust of what I am getting at here is that Paul's epistles first explain all the theological nuances of the Gospel to Christians, reminding them of what they were before they became Christians, what God has done for them through Christ, and who they  they are now "in Christ". Then, after his theology lesson he moves onto the imperatives of the Gospel, that is, how Christians ought to conduct themselves.

So to put it into a nutshell, Paul is teaching and reminding Christians, "This is what you are, therefore this is how you ought to behave". Notice it's never the other way around, as if Paul is saying, "Behave this way and this is what you will become". It's like a caterpillar being transformed into a butterfly. Paul is teaching, "You are  a butterfly now, you have the power and ability to fly, so fly, don't be stuck in your old caterpillar way of life!". It's never "Fly and you will have the power to become a butterfly". We all know it doesn't work that way!

To put it in the sense Paul intended, he is saying, "As one who has put your  faith in Christ and His redemptive work on your behalf, you are now a Christian, this is who you are in Christ, you are no longer in bondage and enslaved to sin. By God's grace, your eyes have been opened. You are justified and your position before God is now and forever will be as an adopted son or daughter, never to be kicked out of His kingdom for not doing enough. You are now empowered to live a life pleasing to God that you could never do before you became a Christian, therefore live in accordance with your new nature as a Christian."

Here again, baby Christians and biblically illiterate Christians fall into the trap (as I did) of reading the New Testament imperatives as if they are totally unconnected with the indicatives. If you obey the New Testament imperatives without first understanding the vast implications of the indicatives, the Bible becomes nothing more than a guide to moral improvement and a religious self-help manual. It is so important to understand that your salvation is secure, so that when you fail at obeying the New Testament imperatives (and you will, over and over again), you can know for certain that God is still your Heavenly Daddy who loves you and cares for you, His adopted child, and will never, ever, ever forsake you because of your sin.

Ever since the Lord opened my blind eyes to the vicious cycle of legalism I was enslaved to, my life has never been better. My life is simple, basic, day by day existence. No more of the crazy ups and downs associated with my moral failures, no more spiritually oppressive pain and suffering for failing to get my life organized. As a result of God and His Divine intervention, I have grown in my knowledge of the Gospel, and consequentially, in my love and adoration of the Lord.

I understand that whatever happens in my life, whether good or bad, is by His Divine design; I have confidence that God, in His infinite perfections, wisdom and love for me is doing what is best for me. He purposefully ordains every single moment of my life for my benefit.When something unexpected happens, I realize that that is the way God wants to govern His created order, and I trust Him to be the Divine Being He has revealed Himself to be. My trials therefore, end in supreme gratitude, not a spirit of grumbling and and malcontent. And in this God is glorified, the ultimate end of everything He does.

Do I still sin? Yes. Am I still a poster child of human depravity? Yes. Do I still fail to get my life organized? Yes. Am I still spiritually blind? Yes. Do I still experience the physical symptoms if I do not take my psych meds? Yes. Do I still get stressed, anxious, and depressed about my constant moral failures and my inability to get my life organized? No.

In Christ I am a new creation, and although my sins will always manifest themselves in particular ways related only to me, my heart is refreshed day by day by the timeless Truths of the Gospel. Even though I try to do what is right and pleasing in the Lord, I still have the root sins of unbelief, idolatry, and pride which result in more sinning.

But in Christ I am free to be a loser, a failure, a wretch, and a cognitive malfunctioning, moral basket case. I have done away with all my self improvement projects of trying to better myself; I trust in Christ and His redemptive work, and rely upon God to safely guide me home into His Heavenly Kingdom where I will forever be separated from my sinful nature.

That sums up my post-Christian story of God's rescue mission of me. I want to make it clear that I haven't come to the conclusion that "I have I finally arrived" and that I have a full understanding of the Gospel. I still spiritually blind and  have a whole host of sins, but I am supremely confident that Lord will intervene again and again when He finds me in spiritually dangerous places.

May the good Lord bless you richly through my story, and the magnificent display of Divine Gospel power in my life. Casey

Friday, March 9, 2012




This is Part Five of my personal, post-conversion story. There will be a Part Six. There is simply too much weighty theological material to absorb in a single post, and the last thing I want to do is bog down the reader with weighty theological concepts.

Here in Part Five I'll begin the task of tying together the loose ends of all I have written in my story so far. Part Five is more of a theology lesson that will provide a solid foundation upon which I will build my story to it's final, glorious, God exhaling conclusion. Theology lesson = Gospel Truth. All this is, is fleshing out the Gospel in greater detail  for your benefit. This is all Gospel.

In Part Six I'll explain how my providential pain and suffering lead to the conclusion that I had adopted a legalistic mindset, the roots of my legalism, and how the power of the Gospel is constantly liberating me from a "do more, try harder" ethic.

Part Five and Part Six is where the theological rubber meets the providential road. ((see PROVIDENCE. This is essential biblical teaching that addresses every single event that happens in your life. I highly suggest that you read this) You will be lost if you start here. If you need to catch up, follow the hyperlink back to where you left off, or start at the beginning. Thanks, and may the good Lord bless you through my trials and your own trials with a greater understanding of the Gospel.


The late, great Christian thinker C.S. Lewis quoted in on of his books,

“God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks to us in our conscience, but shouts in our pains: It is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world”

That quote sums up a great biblical Truth, and that is precisely what the Lord did through the events described in Part Four of my story. My horrendous pain and suffering was a catalyst that the Lord employed to rescue me from spiritual tragedy.

The events in our lives are neither accidents or coincidences. God has absolute control, mastery, and sovereignty over everything in His created order....

.....Everything from the the exact location and trajectory of every electron of every atom in the entire universe, to devastating  earthquakes that kill thousands of people. From the delicate and unique structure of each individual snowflake, to the appointment of cruel and dictatorial world leaders. From the creation of the sweet scent and delicate beauty of a flower, to the unexpected death of a loved one in a car accident. From our extraordinary gifts of intelligence and inventiveness, to besieging our bodies with debilitating diseases and afflictions: God controls it all. And as a fallen race, we don't necessarily like the fact that God is behind the curtain, ordaining the disastrous events in our lives, do we?

How can we possibly wrap out puny, finite, fallen brains around an infinitely mysterious Deity? We can't. Fortunately for us though, God has revealed who He is, His attributes and His character, through nature, through our conscience, through His divinely inspired Word, and ultimately through the incarnation of God as Jesus Christ, one of the three Persons who combine into the singular Divine essence of the Christian God.

God has made it clear who He is. And God can only act according to His Character. God is not the Author of evil, nor does He have a speck of evil in Him. God is Holy, God is righteous, God is supreme, God is "just" (He must do what is right), God is perfect, God is sovereign, God is self-existent and non-contingent, God is Spirit, God knows everything, God is all powerful, God does not change, God is love, God is merciful, God is kind, God is gracious, God is patient, God is our Creator. These are some of the things that God has revealed to us about Himself.

Lets be honest. When horrific events and circumstances suddenly make their ghastly appearance into our otherwise stable lives, we cannot help but wonder if God is really in control. After all, if God does exert His supreme mastery over everything, then why would He kill thousands of people in an earthquake? Why would He allow children to starve to death? Why would He cause you to lose your job or develop cancer? Why would He take the life of your only child? Why? The hyperlink on PROVIDENCE above provides a biblical answer to that perplexing question.

In tying up all the loose ends of my story and explaining how my pain and suffering lead to freedom from the bondage of legalism, there are a few theological terms and concepts that you will need to understand. I'll begin by explaining three root sins inherent in all of us. These "sins of the heart" are imbedded into our very nature as fallen creatures. And it is from these root sins that all other sins sprout and grow; this includes both sins of "commission" and sins of "omission".

Everything from cursing, gossip, and our bitter, condescending words toward others are rooted in these root sins. The same is true with morally bad behaviors and lawlessness. Our neglect of loving and caring for those in need find their ars also rooted these sins. Even our upright, moral religious and spiritual practices (including legalism) in the spirit of doing human good apart from faith in Christ are rooted in unbelief, idolatry, and pride; there are underlying sinful motives in every attempt to be good and do good.

Let me briefly explain each of these sins...

When our lives unexpectedly spiral out of control due to unfortunate events and circumstances, when our health or the health of those we love and adore decline and fail, we tend to feel unrighteous anger, indignation, bitterness, hostility, and consequently we get stuck in the miry swamp of anxiety and depression. The fact is, in the moment when we experience these feelings, we are not believing in who God is! We are leveling an implicit accusation at God, questioning if He really is good, and we do not believe He is the Divine Person He says He is. In other words, we are calling God a liar. That's the sin of UNBELIEF

We are also living in the spirit of unbelief when we do not believe what God's Word reveals about the human condition, that we are all bad, bad people, fully deserving Hell. We fail to believe that we are as evil as the Bible clearly teaches. We think that we have at least one spark of moral goodness within us apart from God.

But the truth is, God sees all of our righteous deeds are filthy rags, the intentions of our hearts are only evil continually, and our hearts are deceitful above all things and desperately wicked. We fail to believe that we are innately hostile toward God and that we all deserve a swift execution because of our rebellion and cosmic treason against Him.

We fail to believe that we have absolutely no right to be in His Holy presence, and that we are expelled from His kingdom because of our sin. We would rather believe that because we do more to serve God, and try harder to be a better person, that God is indebted to us and therefore He is obligated to shower us with blessings.

God is the one Being of infinite value, of greatest virtue and moral purity, and we are commanded to love God and to trust Him with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength. He commands this because to love other things of inferior value above and beyond love of Him is not good for us. Therefore, when we love other things of inferior value over and above God, we are committing the great sin of IDOLATRY.

God wants the very best for us, His created beings, and the very best for us is the Being of God Himself. Our supreme joy, pleasure, peace, and purpose in life are found only in a relationship with Him. But one of the root sins as fallen human beings is that we pick and choose the characteristics of God that please us and fit into our shallow paradigm and we ignore all the rest.

Idolatry is like going to a buffet and heaping your plate full of the things that really appeal to you and taste good. Sure, we are pleased with God's love, His greatness, His mercy, His grace, His incredible creativity and ingenuity, His wisdom, and His kindness.

But we fail to leave room on our plate for His Holiness, His righteousness, His justice, His wrath, His Hell, His Divine election, His hand of correction, His sovereignty, and His mastery and Lordship over all, including breaking your legs the day before you were supposed to embark on an important missionary trip. Even though these Divine characteristics are intrinsically good and just, they do not appeal to us, they leave a bad taste in our mouth, and so we pass right on by for something more palatable.

When we pick and choose which characteristics of God are appealing to us and reject all the rest, we are fashioning a god to suit our own palate. A god who is all love but fails to punish sin is not who God is! Neither is a god who is obligated to dole out blessings in return for our obedience and our religious devotion. Our idol might not be in the form of a statue, but the great sin of idolatry is that we believe something about God that isn't true.

When we are at the buffet and we get to dessert table, oh, how we love to satiate our appetites and stuff our faces with all of the goodies and delights that are in the "Junk food" category! Don't we all tend to overdo the things we know are bad for us? Even when we immerse ourselves into activities and passions that are not necessarily bad for us, but we overindulge to the point that it negatively affects our lives and the lives of others around us, we are engaging in idolatry.

With the one true God, we are not at liberty to pick and choose what we like and what we don't like about Him. We either receive Him gladly for who He is, or we twist Him into a false deity.    

For a thoroughly interesting explanation on the sin if PRIDE, Look into the C.S. Lewis Christian classic, "Mere Christianity", a chapter titled, "The Great Sin". However, I'll explain some things about pride. Pride is loathing God, it is alienation; seeking to live independent of His rightful rule over our lives. It is godless self-reliance.

When things don't go our way, we have a spiritual temper tantrum; we are pointing an accusing  finger at God, and our message to Him is that we don't like the way He is governing His created order according His infinite wisdom and goodness. In our pride we would seize control of the Lordship that belongs to God alone. God is the most supreme and beneficent King, but in our pride we would dethrone Him as King, execute Him, and set ourselves upon His throne as supreme ruler.

Pride is not only pitting ourselves against the Supreme Being, but it puts other human beings in our cross hairs as well. We tend to look at ourselves in a much better light than our neighbor, as if we are a better person then they. We gleefully point out the moral failures of others, we suppress our own moral failures, and we proudly advertise our own moral achievements. We love news stories and movies that showcase the depravity in other people, then we pat ourselves on the back thinking, "At least I'm not like that lousy, good-for-nothing bum". That's pride in a nutshell.

"Gospel" is a theological term that I use frequently in my posts. I want to be clear on what the Gospel is so I'll just lay it all out for you. The Gospel, in the biblical sense, is everything that is true about God, everything that is true about man, everything that is true about man's fallen condition, and everything that is true about God's redemptive plan to save a remnant of fallen humanity by sending His only Son Jesus Christ to live the life we failed to live and to die the death that we deserve.....

.....The Gospel is everything that is true about the present and future fulfillment of God's promises to those who put their trust in the redemptive work of Jesus Christ; submitting to His supreme authority over their lives; and living in a restored relationship with Him, Everything that is true about our ADOPTION, our eternal security, our propensity and compulsion to stray from God loving grasp, and God's radical missions of rescue and restoration through Divine providence. Everything that is true about Heaven; God's glorious kingdom and resting place for His glorified saints, and everything that is true about Hell; the final destination for those who fail to trust in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. Everything that is true about angels and, demons, and Satan. And on and on and on it goes. You get the idea.....  

I think there is a common misconception among Christians that "the Gospel" is merely the Good News message that gets you into the kingdom, and that once you're in, it's time to move on to the real work of Christian ministry; bringing more and more people into God's kingdom. True, the Gospel is the Good News message of soul salvation, but it is goes well beyond that into much a deeper and practical spiritual reality for Christians. Everything that is true about God, man, sin, judgment, salvation, Heaven, Hell, etc. are not just theological tidbits to be stored away in a dusty closet once you become a Christian.

Christians need the redemptive power of the Gospel every single moment of our pathetically sinful  lives. We need to be constantly reminded of "What The Gospel Is" and believe that what God has revealed to us is Truth. We constantly need to be reminded of the incredible spiritual reality we find ourselves in, the way things really are, because we are great sinners who need a great Savior who loves us unconditionally, who bails us out of trouble all day, every day. The Gospel is not just an academic endeavor we eventually graduate from. Christians ought to preach the Gospel to themselves daily, and live out the implications of the Gospel in our everyday lives, even if our lives are simple, boring, or mundane. It never gets beyond that.

That's more than enough theological meat to chew on for now. Now for some practical application, and please ask for the Holy Spirit to grant you eyes to see. My challange for you, the reader, is to take note. Examine your own sinful attitudes, words, and behaviours and ask yourself, "What root sins are at work causing that particular sinful attitude, word, or behavior?"

Another interesting exercise that I do is to make observations of other people. Obvserve their words, their overall attitude, their actions and their neglect of duty. Do this with humility, realizing you are no better than they are. You will be amazed at how great the fall of man is by the bad fruit manifested in you and others.

Hopefully I can wrap this up in Part Six. Blessing in the Lord, Casey

Tuesday, March 6, 2012



This is Part Four of my personal, post-conversion story. You will be lost if you start here. If you need to catch up, follow the hyperlink back to where you left off, or start at the beginning. Thanks, and may the good Lord bless you with the a greater understanding of the Gospel displayed in my story.


Part four describes a series of events that played a very significant role in my liberation from legalism through the Gospel. These are mostly chronological facts of what happened to me, beginning in January of 2011. I will save my theological discussion as to how these events providentially led to my liberation from the tyrannic rule of legalism for Part Five.

Another note. I will suspend the beginning of my weekly blog posting schedule until next week. This personal story is a significant work that could potentially benefit many readers, and I have been pouring every effort into effectively communicating it in written form. When I am finally finish my story, I'll want to take a bit of time off and rest a bit before tackling the weekly blog posting schedule.   

[This is the last paragraph from Part Three; an important segue to "THE TURNING POINT"]

Ultimately my life became paralyzed by my failure after failure after failure. I had way too much on my plate, and my brain could handle only one tiny morsel at a time. I was drinking more and more, and I became apathetic about doing anything constructive; after all, why should I try to improve when it would only end in failure? And even worse, there was an underlying attitude of bitterness and anger directed at God. My reasoning was, "God, you saved me, you rescued me, things were really going great that first few years as a Christian, I was effective in ministry and doing your work, and now you are taking away my memory, my life, and turning me into a vegetable? Why would you do this to me?"

Every year for the past few years a group of my fishing buddies take a trip to Grand Rapids to fish for giant panfish. In early January of last year, 2011, I went to Grand Rapids and arrived up there ahead of everyone else. They would arrive sometime Friday night. So the very first day there I spent my day on the lake fishing and then retreated back to our beautiful lodge we stay at every year. I was in good spirits the whole time I was on the lake, not down, not depressed, just an overall feeling of enjoying what I liked doing best.

At the lodge that evening, I suddenly and unexpectedly started to experience some very uncomfortable and disturbing health problems I had never felt before in my life. There was a palpable discomfort in my chest; not that my heart was beating faster, but it was more pronounced, pulsing, throbbing, as if it were pumping harder. I also felt an awful tingling in my chest, and that feeling spread into my limbs which ended in some mild tremors in my hands. Overall, I felt shaky and an overall sense of sickness permeated my entire body. These symptoms were nasty and I wanted them to go away very badly.  It was very stressful.

I had some wine at the lodge, so I had a couple of glasses. Amazingly that relieve my symptoms and lowered my stress level, and I thought that would be the end of it and went to bed. Unfortunately, when I woke up the next morning, I could feel the same troubling symptoms I had the night before. I took more wine, my condition improved, and went fishing. When I got back to the lodge that evening the same thing started all over again, and if anything, the symptoms were worse.  Now I was starting to get a bit concerned.

This pattern repeated itself over and over again, the only source of relief being the intake of alcohol. One early morning I could feel the symptoms so pronounced, the throbbing of my heart, the chest discomfort and the tingling, that I thought I might be having a heart attack, and I seriously considered making a trip to a hospital in Grand Rapids. Instead, I took more wine and felt better. Every day and every night in Grand Rapids I experienced the same aggravating symptoms, and the only relief I got was from drinking alcohol.

I completed my Grand Rapids trip and returned home. As I lay in bed the night of my return, my symptoms got so severe and I was so stressed out about it that I decided to make a trip to the emergency room at Methodist Hospital. I truly thought I was having a heart attack  and that I would be hospitalized. They did some testing of my heart among other things and everything came back normal from a physical point of view. It was the conclusion of the treating physician that shocked me. He said my symptoms were caused by anxiety. He gave me a prescription for Xanax, and said that I should make an appointment with a psychiatrist.

His conclusion was not what I was expecting at all. I filled the prescription and tried the Xanax; but I ended up taking only a couple doses of the Xanax and then stopped; I made the false, legalistic  assumption that Christians should not take psych meds. I had no desire to make an appointment with a psychiatrist. I refused to believe that my symptoms were caused by anxiety or some other underlying mental disorder, and that I needed to be medicated.

Soon it became apparent that my health issues were not going to go away, and in fact, were worsening. My symptoms, as indescribable as they were, were pure torment and agony. Life as a whole was suddenly very different in a bad, bad way. The joy of everything evaporated the moment I first felt those symptoms intrude into my life in early January, and now things were only getting worse. All I could think about were my symptoms, which served as a catalyst for further mental deterioration.

My drinking escalated greatly to alleviate the symptoms, but it was like putting a Band-Aid on severed limb. The alcohol helped my symptoms while I was in a drunken stupor, but once that wore off, I would feel the symptoms return with a vengeance, which only led to more drinking.

My behaviors took a turn to the bizarre, I became extremely introverted, I could hardly talk in complete, coherent sentences, I was easily distracted, and my emotions were so out of whack that my relationships at home, at work, at church, and everywhere else were impacted. By now my life was such a mess that I decided to seek help, and I only had one person in mind that could help me.

David Ward is the worship pastor at Redeemer Bible Church, a dear friend in Christ, and loving shepherd to messed-up people like me. He is a tremendous example of someone who gets the Gospel, lives the Gospel, and has the intellect and wisdom to give insight and advice on other people's problems. We connected and I told David what was going on with the symptoms, the treating physician's conclusion and recommendation, the drinking, and my mental deterioration.

Among other practical advice, he stressed that first and foremost I needed to see a psychiatrist and get on some medication that would help me. He also gave me a book called "Running Scared"; a Christian book about anxiety, and that the root cause of our anxiety is UNBELIEF; not trusting in Christ, not believing Jesus words, "It is finished". The book also corrected my faulty view of God as a stern Deity, disappointed when I sinned, and made me realize the Truth that the Lord is infinitely loving and concerned for His people, and that we can trust that He is loving us and helping us despite our difficult circumstances.

I took David's advise and made an appointment with a psychiatrist; I ended up being paired up with a Russian psychiatrist with a strong accent at the Park Nicollet Mental Health Department [As I discovered later, the psychiatrist that I ended up with was absolutely worthless!] He was concerned that I was drinking, and that mixing the psych meds and alcohol together could be dangerous.

Nonetheless I was given some prescriptions to try out. Apparently not every psychiatric medicine works the same for everyone, so you have to keep trying different medications until you find what works best for you. Keep in mind that I was desperate for relief, and that I was still drinking to alleviate the symptoms and help me feel at least somewhat normal. The first round of meds were not effective at all. At one point my mental and physical condition deteriorated so badly that I had to take a week off of work.

At my next appointment I saw the psychiatrist and he wanted me to try Xanax again; he told me to make a follow up appointment in 2-3 weeks to see how the meds were working.  I was a bit skeptical of the Xanax since I had already tried it, but decided to give it another try. Once again, he voiced my concern that Xanax and excessive drinking could be fatal. I didn't care, I was desperate to try anything that worked.

So I started curbed my alcohol intake and began taking Xanax along with the Busparone and Zoloft (I was already taking these two meds before I started taking the Xanax). It turned out that the Zanax was the one key medicine that significantly reduced my symptoms and made me feel normal once again. Keep in mind that David Ward was still very concerned about me, and we continued meeting on a regular basis, encouraging me in the Gospel, giving me practical advice on handling my situation, and just being a caring, loving friend.  

I returned to the psychiatrist, sometime in June of 2011, and told him the Xanax was really working well. When asked if I was still drinking I told him yes, I was still drinking, but that I had curbed my alcohol intake. Still concerned about the Xanax/alcohol combination, he took me off the Xanax and gave me a different medication he thought would be safer combined with the alcohol. I was upset at this because the Xanax was working great, but decided to trust his professional opinion.

Something about discontinuing the Zanax combined with the chemistry of the new medication resulted in an utter disaster. Within a day or two of discontinuing the Xanax and starting the new medication I descended into a complete physical and mental meltdown. It was so bad that I was incapable of doing my job and had to take even  more time off of work.

Every symptom I experienced before was greatly magnified. Worse, I began to experience a variety of symptoms, worse symptoms, I had never experienced before; and each day it was something different. Everything from sensitivity to light,  moderate shaking and trembling of my limbs, bizarre dreams, incredible night sweats, anxiety and depression, hot flashes, chills, chest discomfort, and a weird ethereal feeling as if my head were enclosed in glass, soundproof bubble, and headache pain affecting the right side of my head only [I thought I had a brain tumor!] What happened was so profound that I was unable to complete a single train of thought and consequently, I lost all ability to speak in coherent, understandable sentences. I was reduced to a mental basket case, speaking only in gibbering half sentences.

So here I was, in the middle of a severe, mental health crisis. I made several calls to the Mental Health department, describing my grave situation and was finally able to get in and see the psychiatrist [some of my calls were forgotten, or left for the next business day!] . All I wanted to do was get back on the Xanax. I had seen this psychiatrist probably about 5-6 times before, but my confidence in his professional capacities lowered after each visit. Meeting him in his office, I was overtly anxious and jittery, making unusual gestures and speaking incoherently.

Incredibly, he was altogether apathetic and indifferent (as usual) about the alarming symptoms I was experiencing. Worse, he had this condescending attitude toward me. For example, when asked what my pulse was, he was disappointed that, as a health care professional, I was unable to take my own pulse. Did he not understand that I was that messed up?

That's how bad my condition was, and that was how incompetent he was as a psychiatrist. IMO, this guy had no business being in the profession he was in. I put a fork in him, I was done with this psychiatrist. In the end, he asked me if I wanted a second opinion from a different psychiatrist on staff at the Mental Health department who would evaluate the medications I was taking, and I gladly said yes. So he immediately went to work to see if anyone was available.

I was very alarmed they didn't have a psychiatrist available immediately for a second opinion. The only opening they had was weeks down the road. WHAT! Here I am, going nuts, dying inside, flipping out, crawling out of my skin, and they didn't have one single psychiatrist who could take time out of his or her busy schedule and see me on an emergency basis? Not only was I in the middle of a severe crisis, but now I was dealing with a Mental Health department that had very, very poor patient care ethics.

I decided to contact Warren Watson, an elder at Redeemer Bible church whose career involved relational counseling, and also knew something about psychiatric drugs. I explained to him my current situation and he said that it was critical that I get an immediate second opinion on my medication, pointing out that every Mental Health department ought to have a psychiatrist available to help in crisis situations. Maybe I missed something. I called the M.H. clinic again, explained my situation, but just as before, they didn't have anyone available to see me in an emergency situation.

Needless to say, not only was I done with that boob of a psychiatrist, but I was tired of dealing with an incompetent M.H. department. I stuck a fork in the clinic as well, done! I filed a major complaint at the Park Nicollet Patient Relations department concerning the poor psychiatric patient care under the Park Nicollet M.H. department in general, and the treating psychiatrist in particular. He has since left Park Nicollet. Now it was time to move onto a different plan.

Dr. Gmitro is my family medicine doctor at Park Nicollet on Carlson Parkway. He has a background in dealing with mental health issues and is just a terrific, intelligent, level-headed doctor. I decided to make an emergency appointment with him so I could get back on the Xanax, the only drug that seemed to worked. I got in to see him and he put me on Xanax right away. My quality of life improved immediately and dramatically. Not only did my mental health improve to the level of where it was a year earlier, but my overall demeanor was much more upbeat and positive than ever before in my life! And my strange, dry sense of humor returned with a vengeance.

 Now, I have to take Xanax three times daily, and if I am ever late in taking a my meds, those nasty, ugly symptoms will return like clockwork. But life is good now, and in a sense it is much better that it ever had been in my entire life. Because through all those dreadful, tormenting experiences of the past six months up until the moment the positive effects of the Xanax kicked in, I finally understood what the Lord was trying to get through my stubborn, self-reliant skull. Sure I am on Xanax, Busparone, and Zoloft, and probably will be for the rest of my life, but Jesus, the Great Physician, opened my eyes and healed me from an even greater ailment; bondage to LEGALISM, the source of many of my life's problems.

 In Part Five, I will unpack and flesh out what the Lord has done for me through my agonizing trials. Chapter Four deals with specific circumstances in a chronological order. Chapter five will explain the theological impact that such events had upon my life, resulting in a life of resting in Christ and His finished work.

I hope you are enjoying this series thus far, and that you are learning something about the Gospel that  you didn't understand before.

God Bless, Casey    

Sunday, March 4, 2012



This is Part Three of my personal, post-conversion story. If you need to catch up, follow the hyperlink back to where you left off, or start at the beginning.


In my story so far, here I am, a Christian who had carried tons of filthy baggage from my pre-Christian life into my life as a Christian. Not only did I have sinful tendencies to engage in sexual and violent fantasies and act them out, I had a host of other serious issues connected to my pre-Christian life, among them, I am one who, as a young child and teen, had been sexually sinned against by other men and peers. I totally lacked any intestinal fortitude to say "no". Sexual abuse left deep, ugly scars that severely impacted my life. I also had a history of substance abuse, including addiction to LSD and other dangerous drugs. As a result, I believe my brain's chemistry got all screwed up, and I had a very poor memory among other cognitive problems. 

It's hard to draw the line between effects of drug abuse verses sin, but nonetheless, I was deranged, dysfunctional, hostile, prone to outbursts of anger and rage, and lacked basic common sense. I was also very aware of my own mortality, and that I could die unexpectedly at any time under any circumstance. I didn't necessarily want to live because I hated myself, but I didn't want to die either. And although I would deny it at the time, I was very confused, anxious, and depressed about the world in which I lived and the circumstances of my existence as a human being.

For the first few years after I became a Christian I was simply amazed that the Lord would save a foul beast like me. I was truly living out the Christian Hymn "Amazing Grace" every day because my salvation was so sweet and the Lord was so merciful and kind to save me.

But I harbored some ideas about God that were not biblical, and this lead to some real problems down the road. (That is why doctrine matters!) I didn't know much about the doctrine of ADOPTION, so even though the Lord rescued me from Hell, I failed to believe (or I just plain forgot) that He actually loved me and enjoyed me like a father or mother would love and enjoy their adopted child. I held the opinion that God was angry and disappointed with me when I sinned, and that I had better try harder not to sin or He would not bless me. This also stemmed from my failure to understand the doctrine of IMPUTATION.

Because of my faulty understanding of God and the Gospel, my actions did not reflect the Christian liberty is mine under the Gospel banner. Now that I have a better grasp of the Gospel, I see the legalism lying underneath these actions. Here are five examples my legalistic tendencies...
  1. As a new Christian, I told my wife Valerie that I was concerned that she was watching episodes of the television series "Friends", because it contained material that was immoral.
  2. After reading a Christian book critical of the popular Harry Potter book series, I refused to let my children have anything to do with Harry Potter books or movies.
  3. Before I became a Christian I used to collect gaming cards called "MAGIC: The Gathering". This is a fantasy game with all sorts of evil, pagan creatures involved. I had an enormous collection of cards. Boxes and boxes and boxes. I began to think God would not be pleased with me if I continued collecting cards and playing the game. So one day I took all of my cards, dumped them onto the fire pit in my backyard, doused it all with gasoline, and burnt everything to a crisp. Those cards would have been worth hundreds, if not thoudands of dollars today!   
  4. My children were very, very stubborn and would never listen to me or obey my request to follow through with any task I set before them. Therefore, my relationship with my children was strained and unhealthy because I failed to give mercy and grace when they misbehaved, and I failed to love them unconditionally as Christ loved me. I fell into the debtor's ethic of , "When you are obedient I will have greater love, affection, and approval of you than when you are disobedient". That is completely contrary to the teachings of Scripture.
  5. I stayed away from rock and roll, and other genre's of music I deemed "secular" because the content of the songs and the lifestyle of the musicians didn't reflect a Christian attitude.   
So for the first few years as a Christian I had it together pretty well. But I had some legalistic tendencies. And in the spirit of gaining more control over my life and my family because of the residual sin in my life, I tried harder and harder to gain control. It seemed like I always has a self-improvement project going on, beginning each effort with a positive, "I can do it" attitude, only to discover I would fail again and again and again, and each failure made me more and more disgusted with myself.

Here are some examples of my attempts and failures at self-improvement. Keep in mind that I had memory issues, attention deficit issues, other cognitive issues, and these issues were only getting worse. So every self-improvement project I began, I would either forget that I began the project, or I would simply lose interest because I wasn't succeeding....
  1. THE ATTEMPT: I have never been able to keep my vehicle clean and well maintained. And as an attempt to get control over that area of my life, I started keeping a place to put my garbage. I also started to keep a maintenance log on services performed on my vehicle. THE FAIL: I would start this self-improvement project just like all the others, with a positive, "I can do it so get it done" attitude. But it wouldn't take long, a few weeks or months, before my car looked like a garbage dump once again with crap everywhere. I failed to upkeep my maintenance log, so oil changes would be long overdue and other service needs would be neglected. I forgot what was done to my vehicle and what needed to be done, and in the end I was overwhelmed with the entire idea of maintaining my vehicle.   
  2. THE ATTEMPT: Ever since I became a Christian I wanted to have regular family devotionals with my children; reading the Bible, prayer, covering a particular devotional book, and openly talking about issues. THE FAIL: My children held absolutely no interest in family devotionals. While devotions would usually start out positive, they would usually end in my frustration because of my apathetic children. I wouldn't be uncommon to end the devotional in a unending, harsh rant and stern prayer pointed at them about how they failed at keeping up with their scheduled duties. Family devotionals became less and less frequent. I either would forget to do them or had no interest in doing them.   
  3. THE ATTEMPT: I started my Christian walk with a very dedicated Bible reading schedule which I would faithfully do on a daily basis. I also kept a list of prayers; each day of the week I would tackle a particular prayer theme. Fer example, Mondays I would pray for my own family, Tuesdays I would pray for persecuted Christians across the globe, Wednesdays I would pray for those in political power and those in authority over us, Thursdays I would pray for the unsaved people I knew, etc, You get the idea. and when I started attending Redeemer Bible Church, I also faithfully attended Wednesday night prayer meetings. THE FAIL: Here is an example of how my best efforts to control aspects in my life that were particularly Christian ended in frustration. The Bible reading schedule was too long and tedious and took up too much of my time, so eventually I gave up on that. Systematize prayer list? It wouldn't take long before I started forgetting, slipping, and eventually I just didn't follow through with it anymore. Wednesday night prayer meetings? Fail. It came to a point where I would rather stay at home and indulge in what I wanted to do, and not do what was best for me and my family. 
  4. THE ATTEMPT: I started my Christian walk as a reformed alcohol abuser who hadn't taken a drink in fifteen years. I thought that my desire to drink would never become a problem again. THE FAIL: About seven or eight years ago I started having an occasional beer maybe a couple times a year. Things snowballed and I started drinking more frequently, and also increasing the amount of alcohol I drank. I was falling into my old pattern of abusive drinking. Since then, I have gotten smashed out of my gourd several times; I'm talking blackout, falling-down drunk. 
  5. THE ATTEMPT: Quite a few years ago I attended a para church ministry called, "Every Man;s Battle For Purity". Mostly dealing with issues of masturbation that Christian men struggled with, but it also addressed other sexual problems. Since I had a serious, daily, ongoing problem with pleasuring myself, I decided to give it a try. I was successful in that I abstained from pleasuring myself for several months. THE FAIL: Sadly, it didn't take long for me to slip back into my old habit. However, it was successful to some degree in that the frequency of pleasuring myself was greatly diminished. 
  6. THE ATTEMPT: I was concerned about the lack of exercise in my life, so I initiated various plans to exercise regularly, and was motivated in carrying it out. THE FAIL: Each attempt to initiate a different exercise plan into my life would become another failure at following through. 
I could certainly provide you with more examples, but the examples given above are plenty enough to give you a working model of the big picture involved. This is Back-Door Legalism, pure and simple. In all those self-improvement projects, I was not believing the Gospel, I made my own set of rules and set standards that I thought I could keep, but soon discovered that that was is impossible to do. And by the way, I would frequently attempt to tackle all of my failures at the same time and get back on track, so to speak.

I have analyzed this vicious cycle and I can explain it to you...
  1. It always starts out with examining my success or failure at being a person of good behavior, well organized, and having accomplished a regular pattern of of things I ought to be doing as the head of the household, a father and husband, as a Christian, and all the other odds and ends like house and vehicle maintenance, money and finances, regular health and dental checkups, family devotionals, and on and on.
  2. When I judged whether I was being successful or a failure, I was always a failure. This lead to guilt, shame, depression, anxiety, despair, and self-loathing.
  3. Now, being thoroughly disgusted and ashamed with my inability to run my life, get organized, and maintain a regular routine that would never fail I would try again. I would make a list of things I had to do, or develop a mental list of improvements to be made, and I would enthusiastically embark on my mission to be successful this time. [yet deep in my mind I was exhaling deeply, closing my eyes, and wagging my head back in forth in expectation of probable failure sometime in the future]  
  4. I would begin my self-improvement project of trying to better myself, every day thinking, "I gotta do this and I gotta do that, and if I don't keep it up I'll begin the downward spiral once again".
  5. After a few weeks of marginal success, my enthusiasm would wear off, I would forget to do the things I set out to improve upon, and being burdened and distracted by many other stresses in my life, the whole self-improvement project would end up in complete flop. At this point I would end up at #1 again.
So it was 1,2,3,4,5 repeat. 1,2,3,4,5, repeat. 1,2,3,4,5 repeat.........

By now I have been a member of Redeemer Bible Church for a few years, and was being well fed spiritually, but I still didn't "get" the Gospel, I still didn't understand what it meant to "rest in Christ". I still wanted to improve, and was sorely disappointed in myself at my failure to get better. And even more profound was that the stress of trying to improve and then failing again and again [the vicious cycle] was building. This, I believe, had a cumulative effect on me. At this point my memory and my mental health in general started to decline even more. 

So in past two to three years things started to go haywire. All my life I had the organizational skills of a fifteen year old but now it seemed that I was regressing, going backwards to the organizational skills of a ten year old. I was completely overwhelmed with all of my life's responsibilities.

I couldn't remember how much I got paid at work, I didn't understand my insurance and benefits. I didn't know a single thing about paying bills or our financial investments. [And if these things were explained to me, I would literally forget the next day!] I failed to help with my children's homework and organize fun things to do together as a family. I was stressed because I would put off making regular dental appointments and office visits with my doctor...

...I would neglect house maintenance and helping around the house. Family devotions were sporadic at best and I could never finish with a single devotional book or biblical theme before moving onto something else. My exercise programs never panned out. Failure. My drinking became more and more pronounced. Failure. The quality of my performance at work declined and was I prone to making more mistakes. Failure....

....My brain just wasn't working as it used to and I would do things like put the milk in the cupboard and forget to shut off the stove burners before leaving the house, and I constantly forget where I put things. I would get names mixed up and address people by names that were not their own, and I would forget what I was talking about in the middle of a sentence. I basically lived day by day because I couldn't remember anything that happened the day before. My overall demeanor was one of depression. I didn't like being around people, my sense of humor was gone, life wasn't as good and exhilarating as it used to be as a new Christian; in fact, I became like Eeyore in Winnie The Pooh. ["Don't Be a Donkey"? And why do people become Eeyore's?]

Eventually I went to a neuropsyscholgist and had a lot of testing done to see if something serious was going on. And the only conclusion they came up with was that I had an alarming amount of anxiety that ought to be treated with drugs and psychotherapy. Unbelievably, I denied I had anxiety problems to that degree. I didn't do the psychotherapy, but I tried various medications, but I didn't like the way they made me feel and I certainly wasn't getting any better, so I quit taking them.  

Ultimately my life became paralyzed by my failure after failure after failure. I had way too much on my plate, and my brain could handle only one tiny morsel at a time. I was drinking more and more, and I became apathetic about doing anything constructive any more; after all, why should I try to improve when it would only end in failure? And even worse, there was an underlying attitude of bitterness and anger directed at God. My reasoning was, "God, you saved me, you rescued me, things were really going great that first few years as a Christian, I was effective in ministry and doing your work, and now you are taking away my memory, my life, and turning me into a vegetable? Why would you do this to me?"

Every story has a turning point, and my story is no different. I'll get to that in Part Four of my story. Don't you just love cliffhangers? Stay tuned in!

Saturday, March 3, 2012



If you are new to this site are you just haven't checked in for awhile, this is what I am up to. On Monday January 5th I will begin the new WEEKLY BLOG POSTING SCHEDULE. But until then, I am sharing my personal story of how, as a christian, I was in bondage to LEGALISM, and how a deeper understanding of the Gospel is liberating me from a joy-robbing, legalistic mindset. Under the LEGALISM hyperlink, I describe two types of legalism; "Front Door Legalism" and "Back Door Legalism". I would be categorized as a "Back Door" type legalist.

If you haven't read it, here's part one of my story. LIBERTY FROM LEGALISM THROUGH THE GOSPEL: MY PERSONAL STORY: PART ONE


The Gospel is a game changer, no doubt about that. And the great irony of the Gospel is that in one sense, it is a simple string of propositions that can be explained away in five minutes. Even more amazing is that, in it's most basic expression, it is simple enough that even a child can understand it and become a Christian. In the words of many, "It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure it out!" How true it is!

In another sense however, the Gospel is a deep and compelling masterpiece whose Author is the Lord. It has a seemingly infinite number of layers and intricacies that astound both mind and soul. The Gospel is not just a mental theological exercise, it is extremely practical for Christians. It confronts us with spiritual Truth, alarms us to the depth and breadth of our sin and depravity, and it demonstrates a love so profound that nothing created has the power to undermine it....

....The Gospel exposes how bad we really are. It shines its brilliant ten trillion candlepower searchlight on our spiritual blindness, our rebellion, our filth, our hypocrisy, our hostility and bitterness, our lies, our cover-ups, our self-deceptions, our greed, our various lusts, our selfishness, our self-reliance, our condescending attitude toward others, our self-righteousness, our legalistic tendencies, our boasting in ourselves, and our unceasing desire to sin more and more and more....

...The Gospel exposes us to the fact that every sin we commit points to a profoundly darker spiritual reality that goes beyond just bad behavior. That lurking underneath the surface of every sin we commit (including sins of "omission") are more profound "root sins" of PRIDE, IDOLATRY,  and UNBELIEF. We do not believe the Lord, His Word, His Gospel, His promises...

...Even our anxieties, our worries, our insecurities, and all of our emotional ups and downs are rooted in our pride, our idolatry, and our unbelief; not trusting the Lord and His promises as revealed in His Word and fleshed out in the Gospel. In the case of pride, when we sin, we fully understand that what we are doing is against the Lord's will, but we just don't give a damn about the Lord; in the moment we want our will to rule over the Lord's...   

....The Gospel tells us point blank that we are all morally bankrupt, without any currency to save ourselves, that even our best attempts to do good are tainted by sinful motives, and that we must fully and completely depend upon the the redemptive work of Christ for our salvation. The Gospel foils our most clever attempts to run away from God and take charge of our own lives. Thankfully, the Good Shepherd Himself rescues His lost, wayward sheep and lovingly brings them back into His heavenly fold, safe and sound. And He never, ever fails to do this!

Think again. There is much, much more to the Gospel than the six puny paragraphs I have written above. That is but a glimpse of it's vast measure. It's not just the unsaved who need the Gospel, Christians desperately need it too. We need the Gospel pounded into our skulls constantly because, while we might remember the Gospel today, we may forget it by tomorrow. As Christians, we need the Gospel's loving, nurturing, corrective, eye-opening power every second of every hour of every day.

Pastor Bob Glenn of Redeemer Bible Church said in a recent sermon that "you can know the Gospel, but not really know the Gospel". And that is exactly right on. There is never a point in which Christians finally "get the Gospel". There is always  more to grasp, and there will always be areas in our lives where we need that ten trillion candlepower searchlight to expose areas of sin and light our darkened path to the supreme peace, joy, and relational depth found only in the Lord. It is at this point I want to resume my story....

...I was at the end of myself, at the bottom of a deep, dark abyss with nowhere to look but up. And while swirling in the filth of my own depravity and spiritual deadness the Lord rescued me. I was miraculously regenerated, born again, a new creature with new desires and new affections that were ultimately rooted in love and loyalty to the Lord. I confessed the mess I had made of my life, bowed in humble submission, and asked Jesus Christ to save me. By faith in Christ I was now justified in God's court. (see JUSTIFICATION)

Christians possess God the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is one of the three Person that make up the singular Divine essence of the Christian God.  The Holy Spirit alone, apart from any help from me, did His miraculous work of REGENERATION upon my spiritually dead soul and transformed me into a completely new creation. He continues to sanctify me, (See SANCTIFICATION) He guides and helps me. He illuminates the Truth of God's Word so I can understand it and apply it to my daily life.

At that pivotal point in my life when I became a Christian, I was a depressed, anxious, spiritually devastated, hostile, compulsive, morally bankrupt person. You could say that when I finally surrendered my life to Christ, my spiritual well-being improved beyond measure.

Think about it. I received the forgiveness of a Holy, righteous, and just Deity that I hated and despised my entire life. If it were possible I would have killed Him just to protect my precious autonomy. And yet He showed me great mercy and pursued me, a nasty, reckless, volatile, bratty, unimpressive nobody, and rescued me from the everlasting torments of Hell, a destination He could have cast me into at anytime. How could my heart be filled with anything but joy and amazement at such great MERCY?

As a new Christian I began to understand that I possessed two natures, as all Christians do. One nature was the new creation caused by regeneration. My new nature as a Christian loved the Lord, and I was filled with copious amounts of gratitude for His unilateral rescue of me. In my new nature I wanted to know Him more, please Him, do what was right, and wanted to obey His laws.

But I also possessed (and still do) the old nature of sin working contrary to my new nature as a Christian. And the principle of sin working opposite of my new nature dies a slow, slow death. So even though there was a part of me that wanted to do what is right and submit to the Lord, there was another part of me that wanted to do wrong and rebel against His supreme rule over my life.

As a new creation I understood that I was declared "Not Guilty" in God's court, and I knew that "In Christ" I was safe. But I still had all kinds of sinful habits, and that really bothered me. Worse, there were innumerable  deposits of sin within me that I never knew existed until much later. I quit drinking before I became a Christian so that wasn't a problem. But for the moment, I did my best to purge certain bad elements out of my life and clean up my act.

Among other things, I immediately disposed of my huge pile of pornography because I knew that that was offensive to the Lord. I started a regular Bible reading and prayer schedule. I listened to sermon after sermon after sermon, read many theological books, and attended church. And to be honest, with the Holy Spirit as my helper, I benefited greatly from all these things.

But as I said before, the principle of sin working in me kept rearing its beastly head. And as the days, months, and years rolled by, I became more and more aware of my inability to control my dysfunctional, disorganized life, and my intense compulsion to sin. There were still vast mountains of corruption, depravity, and sinful proclivities that I was absolutely powerless to stop.    

* Note At the wisdom and request of the Eldership at Redeemer Bible Church, I have immediately removed my list of sins, as this list contained elements that could impact my relationships and fellowship at Redeemer Bible church. I apologize if I have offended anybody there. Just know that "In Christ" I am safe, and has orchestrated yet another rescue mission of me and my spiritual blindness. Casey

When you look at the list above you are basically looking at a list of some of my bad behaviors as a Christian! And they are bad behaviors. These are but a few of many examples of specific sins and basic sinful tendencies that I have. And I am not alone. If you are honest with yourself, you the reader can identify with many of the examples I have provided. We really are much worse than we think!

But the chilling truth behind my moral  failures as a Christian is that even my best efforts to get my act together, get organized, be a better person, and lead a morally upright life ended in abject failure. In other words, I miserably failed at my own self-improvement projects, and I was truly disappointed in myself for being such a failure which lead me down the road of more despair, more depression, more anxiety, more self loathing. And this is all rooted in the "Back-Door Legalism" I pointed out earlier.

In Part Three of my story I want to flesh out the specific details of how adopting a legalistic mindset came about, how it undermined the power of the Gospel, and how certain events ordained by the Lord led to liberation from legalism through a greater understanding of the Gospel.