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One of my blog friends, Derek Ashton, and I recently decided to team up on our respective blogs.  My appreciation for Derek has grown immensely as we’ve gotten better acquainted in the last few months, and I highly recommend his blog, THEOparadox, where he will continue to write. In this post, he introduces himself.  Please welcome Derek Ashton to the ‘who am i?’ blog team.

I’d like to briefly relate a part of my journey with Christ . . .

As a young man studying in a Bible College, I had a decidedly low opinion of the American Church, and a profoundly high opinion of my own place in relation to it. Nowadays, it’s easy to see why I took such a severe and self-centered view of things: I hardly trusted God, and loved myself far too much. And due to my stubbornness, I didn’t know much about His great, merciful heart, or the blessings He gives us in fellowship with other believers. Frankly, I was a graceless, self-righteous moron.

More than 10 years have passed. These days, my viewpoint about the Church is being enlightened and transformed by several factors:

  • A recognition of my own depravity and desperate need for Christ
  • A renewed appreciation for the blessings that can only be  found in relationships with other believers – including my daily need for their encouragement, accountability, and admonitions toward love and good deeds
  • A realization of God’s effective working to bring about His purposes in His world and in His Church – despite our ubiquitous failure and weakness
  • A fresh appreciation and love for the Gospel, and grace, and Christ, and the Word of God

Only God can do these things. A Scripture passage which He has burned into me is Hebrews 3:12-13

Take care, brethren, that there not be in any one of you an evil, unbelieving heart that falls away from the living God. But encourage one another day after day, as long as it is still called “Today,” so that none of you will be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.

Since I started blogging almost a year ago, I have made “virtual” friends with several people who have further reinforced these truths and greatly encouraged my soul. Barry Wallace especially stands out in this regard.

Something resonated very deeply within my heart when I first read Barry’s feature article, “A Bad Heart.” I knew immediately that I had found a fellow believer in the wonderful grace of the Gospel –  not merely as  a story or a message that has to be preached to lost people – but as the daily remedy for the believer’s own bad heart. Here I saw a man who was not fooled by his own apparent godliness, but recognized that every good gift comes from above. He is a man who knows God’s grace is more than a quick-and-easy solution for the sin problem – it is the daily food of the soul, changing our inner world and conforming us to the image of the Son of God. And that’s why God alone gets the glory when His children walk in this grace.

I like the way Barry writes with an open heart. I like the way his articles cut through the outer shell and cause me to check my motives. I like the way his testimony shines through. I like the way he keeps the focus on Christ.

We’ve never met in person, but we’ve certainly carried some of the same crosses. And we love the same Savior, the same Lord, the same God. I thank God for providing this “virtual” friendship that produces very REAL encouragement.

I pray our growing partnership in the Gospel will yield fruit for the Kingdom of God, and the glory of Christ, and the building up of His saints. I join Barry’s blogging team with overflowing joy and gratitude for what God has done.

Soli Deo Gloria – to God alone be glory