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 great or small, unmistakable or utterly invisible.

Keep Sailing,

Mary

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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 human approval for good feelings and a sense of worth in a crowd that 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 Word 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 2

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 given 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 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 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.  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. You will become frustrated, weak and weary.

The “Sit” is restful, 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 Pastor. God The Holy Spirit is our true teacher. If I am led astray in any area I trust God to reveal that and bring the corrected information.

Keep Sailing,
Mary

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Learning to Sit Walk and Stand Part 1

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 daily life.

Keep Sailing,

Mary

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Change of Command?

Bible

Concern over my Pastor Teacher’s health and well being recently led me to consider what doctrines were really in my soul about that subject.  Would I know when I should need a new Pastor Teacher?  Was perseverance the right course of action at the present time?

Thankfully these questions were answered shortly after I wrote this but I wanted to share it anyway.

What is Bible Doctrine all about?  Where in the scale of importance does the “right” Pastor Teacher fall?  Is it the main issue in Bible Doctrine?  My understanding is that positive volition is the main issue in Bible Doctrine.  My “right” Pastor Teacher is not really MY issue at all.  The Pastor Teacher is a grace gift from God and as such it doesn’t really have anything to do with me, or my personal choice.   It can seem in the current situation as if there is a list of voices and I should maybe pick from those voices the one that I might “think” is my “right” Pastor Teacher.  It sounds reasonable but I think it’s a deception, I think it’s a tool of confusion in the hands of the kingdom of darkness.  Nothing gets me more confused than too many choices.  God is not in a hurry, no, God is NEVER in a hurry.  He isn’t worried or concerned about anything.  He has a perfect plan.  My issue is Positive volition so I’m going to go forward with my positive volition and have absolute confidence that when I need a different “right” Pastor Teacher, which I may or may not, He will make it certain and clear and I won’t have had to do a thing except be positive to the word of God.

I have seen people reject the right Pastor Teacher doctrine and I have seen the shipwreck of their spiritual lives.  I believe it to be a very important doctrine and right up at the top of the scale of importance.  I also believe that one needs to have confidence in the timing and faithfulness of God, confidence in waiting on Him and not rushing out to do it all right.  I may go in the wrong direction at times, I may feel disturbed and uncertain but I am never ever to be in doubt of who holds me in the palm of His hand.  He can turn every curse into a blessing every wrong direction into a scenic route on the way to maturity.  I am NOT lost though I may feel it at times.The way is narrow but I don’t have to find it by myself.  There is only one man to follow and that makes it easy.  Be positive towards The Lord Jesus Christ.  Love the brethren.  Endure.  Believe what you can’t see.  Be very strong and courageous…

Sometimes we have thought the spiritual battle was only something the Kingdom of Darkness was playing at.  Sometimes we haven’t believed they are really trying to destroy us.  A good soldier is mindful of the purpose of the war and whom they fight for.  Don’t be afraid to hold your ground and don’t ever forget that the enemy is not trying to annoy you; he’s trying to destroy you.  Stand firm.

New orders will be handed down at the proper time.  Until then we must always tune out the shouts and taunts of the enemy.  Their shadows and illusions must be ignored.

Psalm 7:8 “Do not rejoice over me, O my enemy.  Though I fall I will rise, though I dwell in darkness, the Lord is a light for me.”

2 Cor. 11:3 “But I am afraid, lest as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, your minds should be led astray from simplicity and devotion to Christ”

 “Life is not a bowl of cherries.  Sometimes the spiritual life is the pits.  Just keep listening.”  Pastor Joe

These are exciting times,

Keep Sailing,

Mary

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