Monthly Archives: July 2009

Living The Invisible Sacrifice

After considering the incredible sacrifices of the Christians in North Korea and other hostile nations around the world.  It’s hard to imagine how the everyday Christan walk of someone like me, a safe secure American, could even matter or have significance.  It has been easy to get lost in the enormity of the calling put on these Christians under active persecution.  I mentioned this to a friend today and she pointed out that a big and unmistakable sacrifice like martyrdom or torture, doesn’t invalidate the small and invisible sacrifice. 

God’s scale of values isn’t like ours.  He doesn’t look at His plan for one persons life as more or less important than anothers.  I believe I can safely come to this conclusion after studying Hebrews 11 in Bible class this last year. 

In Hebrews 11:17 it says ” By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Issac, and he who had received the promises was offering up his only begotten son;” 

Then in Hebrews 11:20  ” By faith Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau, even regarding things to come.”

Both of these men made God’s hall of fame, they were both considered “men of whom the world was not worthy”  They had both become winner believers and it was said of them both Hebrews 11:39a “And all these, having gained approval through their faith…”  Abraham and Issac being at the beginning of an incredible list of Old Testament Heroes.

Abraham was called to offer up his son, fully expecting to have to kill him.  It was a true action of faith, a seemingly horrible request from God despite believing that God would bring Issac back from the dead.   We would all acknowledge that this was definitely an unmistakable sacrifice. 

But Isaac was given the same regard by God for simply blessing his sons, Jacob and Esau.  Granted, it isn’t easy to stick with God’s choice when you’ve been deceived and you don’t particularly like the son God has chosen…  Still, to the human mind, God’s plan for Isaac was much easier than for Abraham.  Why should Isaac get to be in the same category as Abraham? 

The answer to that question brings out how incredible God is, how just and righteous and perfect in all His ways.  He only asks us to live in His plan for our lives.  He only asks us to endure what He brings to us as trials and testings, some great and some small.  It’s not the enormity of the calling that matters, only fulfilling His plan.  If He calls upon you to endure a martyrs death then that is His plan for your life and you glorify Him to the maximum but if He calls upon you to live safely till a ripe old age daily living in His plan then you also glorify Him to the maximum.  It’s His plan so whatever He calls you to do brings maximum glory to Him. 

 He isn’t waiting for me to impress Him with the worst sacrifice I can imagine or great works that humans regard as lofty.  He wants to impress me with His plan, then give me the opportunity to live in it.  Which honestly I find thrilling to think about;  Love, sorrow, friendship, pain, excitement, joy, difficulty, exhaustion, monotony, adventure, grief, success, and everything in between all prepared in a unique plan just for me to have the opportunity to reveal, on a stage like no other, the character and nature of this incredible loving God, who chose to be known(uniquely) through a relationship with me.  Jesus Christ, God the Son, made this possible through His fulfillment of God the Father’s Plan for Him, the Cross, where His spiritual death in our place for all sin made the relationship that God desired with us possible.  He then left for us, His word(the Bible) which is the revelation of who He is and as we learn it and think it and live in it through the indwelling and filling of God the Holy Spirit, the revelation of who and what God is, is now expressed in a completely fantastic way.  Through us! 

You can work your tail off trying to impress God but if you do it outside of His plan there is no reward.  He only rewards His own work in you.  Your work is really not important to God.  It’s the work He has planned for you that matters, be it small or great, unmistakable or utterly invisible.

Keep Sailing,

Mary

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Christian Woman Publicly Executed in North Korea

I ran across this article last week and wondered why I hadn’t heard about it sooner.  Then I wondered why it wasn’t a bigger news story.  It seems obscured and pushed to the back.  Possibly because it cannot be verified with certainty. 

In the modern world, when a journalist get arrested in North Korea it’s a major news event.  Though insignificant on earth, In heaven, when a 33 year old mother of 3 gets executed for her belief in Jesus Christ and sharing His word with others it is going to be remembered forever.  We may think of it as a tragedy but it isn’t in God’s eyes.  She was asked to do for Christ what He did for His Father and that was a great honor.  In time it was an unbelievable suffering.  She would have had to place her children(who were taken by the government) in her Lord’s hands completely trusting them to Him.  She was more than likely tortured and humiliated but she will have no pain and no sorrow in eternity and will in fact have honor and reward far beyond human imagination.  She will never regret it forever. 

Let us remember to pray for our fellow Royal Family believers in North Korea, for their endurance and courage.  Being a Christian in North Korea is like being a Christian in Rome during the early persecutions.  It is a vicious time. 

By Kwang-tae Kim

Associated Press Writer

Updated: 07/24/2009 02:03:54 PM MD
“SEOUL, South Korea »
 
  A Christian woman accused of distributing the Bible, a book banned in communist North Korea, was publicly executed last month for the crime, South Korean activists said Friday.

The 33-year-old mother of three, Ri Hyon Ok, also was accused of spying for South Korea and the United States, and of organizing dissidents, a rights group said in Seoul, citing documents obtained from the North.

The Investigative Commission on Crime Against Humanity report included a copy of Ri’s government-issued photo ID and said her husband, children and parents were sent to a political prison the day after her June 16 execution.

The claim could not be independently verified Friday, and there has been no mention by the North’s official Korean Central News Agency of her case.”

You can read the rest of the article here http://www.sltrib.com/ci_12907935?IADID=Search-www.sltrib.com-www.sltrib.com

 Keep Sailing,

Mary Hugill

 
 

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The Enclave By Karen Hancock

enclaveSm

Karen Hancock’s new novel is exciting and fun.  Karen’s writing is refreshing and honest, she does not skirt around her faith in Jesus Christ but weaves it boldly into the story, all the while creating a thrilling and suspenseful read.  Karen has an incredible talent for taking us to other worlds and sharing truth in the setting of fiction.  She takes us outside the ordinary so that what we ordinarily can’t see with our eyes or experience becomes visible. 

I highly recommend The Enclave.  Enjoy!

To purchase click HERE http://www.amazon.com/Enclave-Karen-Hancock/dp/0764203282/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1248540835&sr=8-1

Keep Sailing,

Mary

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Spiritual Moon Landing

IMG_2937Insecurity is a beast.

I’ve often said that people make me nervous.  I’ve complained about the problems I’ve faced with certain individuals in my life.  It’s always been about how they were mean or difficult how they’ve made me uncomfortable but after the last several lessons and a current situation, I’ve come to see that all the people problems I have ever faced have really stemmed from my own insecurity.  The Lord has used this opportunity to point out to me how very insecure I really am.  I can no longer blame others for the discomfort or hurt feelings.  When a person is really secure in their relationship with God and with who they are right now, the opinions of others about them or the comments they make mean nothing.  I’ve gone into so many situations relying on my personality to gain approval with people and when that has failed or was rejected you can bet it really hurt.  Over time I’ve just fed that insecurity towards people with human ability and human effort gaining nothing but more insecurity.  I’ve relied so heavily on approval for good feelings and a sense of worth in a crowd, I would leave a social situation either very pumped up or very shattered.  I have no courage in the face of disapproval.  So, if I knew a situation was coming where I was guaranteed to face disapproval by someone who consistently doesn’t really like me, I faced major anxiety.  This issue has left me perplexed and distressed for years.  I saw no way out and honestly I didn’t see where the error truly was.   Someone might have said to me “who cares what so and so says” and it sure sounded good but faced with the pressure, in the end it really did matter.  In that state of mind there was really no cure.

Here I was, this weekend, faced with the exact situation I was describing and the Lord was bringing me all these lessons in advance about how the problems we face with people aren’t really about them it’s about us.  Lessons about not judging about seeing yourself honestly.  I took a long look at myself and saw that all the evil things I accused my feared adversary of, were things I do myself but only I do them in hiding.  I saw myself as better than them.  I was the innocent lamb and they were the wicked wolf.  This person I feared had become a monster in my mind.  What I came to see was that I wanted to punish them for making me feel bad when in reality I was blaming them for insecurities I wouldn’t take responsibility for.  Instead of facing the challenge of overcoming insecurity and taking responsibility for my own motivations, I put all the blame on them.  My trust was never in the Lord in these situations, not really.  I wasn’t the tree planted by streams of water.  I was a bean sprouted in a jar on the windowsill.  I looked strong but I was destined for failure until I found the right source for stability.

It took one good long day of failure, trying so hard to be winning in my personality, to be cheerful, to feel good about myself.  It all failed as usual.  I’m not exactly sure what piece of doctrine made the switch.  I was so afraid I’d fail this weekend and I did.  Over the course of at least 4 lessons culminating in one fantastic lesson this morning the truth sort of blossomed.  Wrong source, wrong result. And yet I prayed many times for rescue in the past with no result.  God didn’t want to have to rescue me.  He wanted me to trust the doctrine and let it rescue me.  I almost feel like shackles have fallen off.  I heard one nasty comment this afternoon and I just quietly removed myself from the situation, only I found that I didn’t feel anything about it.   I wasn’t mad, I didn’t put it in my list of hurts or wrestle with resentment.   I was free not to care.

I’m not going to be cured overnight.  It was one small step today but I think this is giant leap in the right direction and in my personal relationship with the Lord.

Keep Sailing,

Mary

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Learning to Sit Walk and Stand Part 3

Sit Walk and Stand was the theme of this last year’s Bible conferences all over the country.  The lessons were inspired by a Christian writer named Watchman Nee.  Conferences are a really great time to be with other believers and listen face to face from our Pastor Teacher since so many of us listen through the internet.  It’s also a time where we get to focus for a brief time on a single subject apart from our regular lessons.  We weren’t studying Watchman Nee specifically but our lessons were inspired by the subject of Sitting, Walking and Standing as it relates to the Christian way of life. 

I love my “Sit”.  I love to go to Bible class.  I love to learn the Word of God.  I just want to learn more and more.  There is more to the Christian “Sit” than that but I’m just going to touch on intake.  Everything about the spiritual life begins with the intake of God’s word and  a right thing must be done in a right way.  God has give the Pastor Teacher a special gift for digging into the Bible and extracting the truth in such a way that it can be clearly taught and then easily absorbed by the believer.  By all means we can pick up a Bible and learn for ourselves but I believe without a doubt, after years of doing that exact thing that I was crippled in my ability to gain a full understanding without the gift of the Pastor Teacher. Though I went to church, I did not believe that I needed any man to teach me.  Plus how was I going to be able to avoid being deceived by a false teacher if I didn’t learn it all for myself.  I didn’t know at the time about my own sick head and deceitful heart.  When I was first approached with this idea of a “right” Pastor Teacher.  I balked.  I struggled.  I got mad.  I wasn’t going to trust some man to have the truth that I did not.   I was new to Bible Doctrine teaching at the time and the doors of my soul were flying open with what I was learning.  It was like I had been dying of thirst and I didn’t know it or starving to be more precise.  I was being fed and based on that and a lot of questions, my friend Karen was able to talk me down from my mistrust of a Pastor Teacher.  I trusted that the Lord would show me if it was really Biblical or not and He did.  Sometime later, I realized that I had been saying to the Pastor Teacher “I have no need of you” as per 1Corinthians 12:18-21.   The gift the Pastor Teacher has to gain insight into the word of God is a gift from God the Holy Spirit to the body of Christ, the Church, made up of believers.  God the Holy Spirit uses the Pastor Teacher’s gift to give the fullest understanding of the word to those he is assigned to teach.  If you cut yourself off from the gift of Pastor Teacher or go seeking a teacher of your own desire, you are now limited.  You have excluded yourself from the insight the Holy Spirit has given to the Pastor Teacher you have been assigned to.  So you try and fill that void with your own human IQ and study alone.   Subsequently your own gift becomes inoperable because it is tied into a full understanding of what the Spirit is teaching.  Sure, you may do many “good” works but they will be your own and not from God.  Not the ones He has prepared for you.  You will become frustrated, weak and weary. 

It is not hard to sit and listen daily.  It is not hard to rebound (1John1:9) and have the Holy Spirit in charge of your thinking and filling your soul with doctrine.  The “Sit” is restful.  The sit takes humility to sit under a prepared teacher and receive.  It takes concentration and then sometimes it takes a little effort to check out what the Pastor has said.  It’s not a blind following of the teacher.  My teacher is very good and lays all the information out so that you can go and make sure it is backed up by scripture and the original languages.  I very rarely have a question anymore because the teaching is very clear to me. 

I think that is all I have to say for now on the subject of “sitting” in the Christian way of life.  For more on the subject of Pastor Teachers  you can go to www.gbible.org and do a search.  I also reccommend a blog post by my friend Karen on that subject which you can check out here: http://karenhancock.wordpress.com/2009/06/30/eusebeia/

Keep Sailing,
Mary

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Learning to Sit Walk and Stand Part 2

Walking!

Walking is all about the everyday things.  Bible class every day. Being filled with the Spirit every day.  Applying what I have learned every day. 

The hardest part about everyday things is that they are small and mundane.  Huge important things don’t happen every day in our lives but the laundry does, the dishes, times of inaction as well.  I get up and go about my daily routine, it’s filled with daily mundane tasks.  The Lord doesn’t bring something new and exciting every day but He still has me alive on all the ordinary days.  There are many days that I wonder what in the world I’m doing that could matter at all.  I was just thinking today about that very same thing when I realized that the Lord Jesus lived roughly 30 years of regular probably routine life.  Mind you, He did it perfectly.  I was thinking how all of that daily faithfulness to His Father’s plan, living daily life and waiting, had to have been a preparation for the three years of His active ministry and eventually the cross.  The Bible says in prophecy that the Word was daily His delight.  He would have gotten up every day and gone about His daily routine.  He worked, ate, bathed and had times of inaction.  We know He also was tempted in every way more than any of us but did not sin.  He stayed obedient and faithful. 

We have learned in Bible class how the little things matter.  He who is faithful in a little will rule over much (Luke 19:17).  If you apply doctrine over the very small stuff it will be easier when something much harder comes along.  I find it interesting that I know how important each small moment can be and yet I still consider it unimportant in my daily walk.  I still struggle most days to be content with the routine, with feeling like there is so much wasted time because I lack inspiration or motivation for greater accomplishments.  It can’t just be the tasks themselves that matter, I know it must be the motivation behind it.  I can’t seem to grab onto it.  You will say to me “Do everything as unto the Lord”  and I will completely agree.  Yes.  But I haven’t arrived there yet.  I want to live moment by moment in occupation with the Lord Jesus Christ, in intimate fellowship and not just when things are going wrong.  It’s easy to run to Him then.  I want to live in occupation with Christ in the good and bad with consistent mental attitude.  I haven’t arrived there yet.  I don’t know how long that takes but the Bible says it is a reality for the mature believer.  So, I keep on walking, going in and out of fellowship, rebounding a lot, applying doctrine when I see the opportunity, and going forward.  Happily, I might add, even if I’m not all that I would like to be right now.  I love my life but I know there is more to the spiritual life than I have right now. 

The more doctrine I learn the more opportunities I get to apply.  Maybe the spiritual life is like that.  When you learn a little doctrine your opportunity to apply is in proportion to your capacity for relationship with God which is based on the amount of doctrine in the soul.  When you have maximum doctrine in the soul then your capacity for relationship with God is deeper and stronger.  The other cool thing that comes to mind is that the Lord has ultimate capacity for relationship with us.  Experience is only limited on our end.  He never changes in relationship to us.  It is only that we have need of growth.  Maybe that is why growth is commanded and prayed for in the Bible. 

“Walking” in the Christian Way of life is a process and one I have a long way to go on.  It’s a moment like this when I am vastly grateful for the grace and patience of God.  He doesn’t seem to be in a hurry when it comes to my growth or my daily life.  I think I’ll try to keep that in mind when I’m tempted to feel as though I’m passing through pointless portions of my day. 

Keep Sailing,

Mary

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Learning To Sit,Walk and Stand Part 1

Sharing my Bible Doctrine experiences with the world is a trepidatious path.  As I was discussing with a friend last night, most of it is failure and embarrassment.  Generally it’s only after a lot of failure that I succeed at any application at all.  I think though that there might be some value in being an open book.  I suppose it is a way of laying down your life – so to speak.  Plus failure and embarrassment are only failure and embarrasment if you stay there.  Once you lay that aside it begins to be success. 

Success has actually been a theme in our recent Bible lessons.  I don’t think I can embark on this discussion of Sit Walk and Stand without first touching on the subject of success.  We as believers, especially doctrinal believers are hyper focused on success I think.  The truth is amazing and as you receive it, your understanding about the Spiritual Life broadens.  You learn how knowing God through His word sets you apart.  You have the opportunity to solve problems and think the way God does.  You also learn that with all that opportunity comes great responsibility.  You might actually end up a losing believer(not receiving all your rewards) through hearing the word of God, understanding it and then not applying it.  The warning is valid it comes right from God.  If we can succeed then we can also lose out.  So success and failure become a focal point.  We were focusing on learning God’s word, knowing Him, and living out that relationship through application but now we are hyper focused on our failures, just certain that they will rob us of success. 

I think as we get our eyes off the Lord and onto our performance (or lack there of) we miss the point of the warning.  We don’t really understand what the failure is that leads to a wasted life.  Likewise we misunderstand success. 

 At this point it gets a little sticky because I can only express what I understand about these things and I cannot give anyone the doctrine they must learn for themselves and I am fairly certain I don’t have it mastered or I wouldn’t be struggling with this issue almost daily. 

What I understand about failure is that I will fail a lot and failures can be turned into success through rebound (1 John 1:9).  True failure that leads to a wasted life is abandonment of God’s Word given through my right Pastor Teacher.  Failure is also hearing that same Word of God and becoming so apathetic or familiar towards it that application no longer matters.  I hear and understand but I refuse to apply. Stubbornness.  

So If I fail to apply am I a loser?  No, not necessarily, because who doesn’t fail to apply often.  Everyone fails.  It’s only the person who will not apply and will not rebound(1 John 1:9) who ends up in true failure.  Failing and confessing the failure to the Father leads to success through His ability to transform your thinking. 

What I understand about success is that if you never quit and you go forward no matter how much you fail, you will succeed.  You will be a winner and recieve the blessings that God has already assigned to you for time and eternity.  The greatest of those blessings I believe to be the intimate personal relationship with God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit whom you have glorified and who’s essence has been portrayed by your life.  When life becomes all about Christ in you and you in Him, that is the ultimate success.  All the other blessings of life mean nothing if someday I don’t have that in fullest measure.

So obviously I want to succeed.  I believe it is possible and promised.  Sinless perfection isn’t even a requirement, only positive volition. 

As I share things about my life that seem more like sitting, stumbling and crawling than sitting, walking and standing.  I think it helps to consider what the real goal of the Spiritual life is all about. 

A quote from Bible class  “Success usually occurs in private but failure in full public view”

Keep Sailing,
Mary

 

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