Monthly Archives: August 2009

Moving?

It appears that another military move may be on the horizon.  This knowledge of impending change brought about a very familiar cycle of thoughts and feelings.  Where will we go?  How long will this take?  What does the future hold?  After the questions, in come the secret hopes and desires.  Since we get to list our most desired places to be stationed I get very fixated on hoping for those destinations and fantasizing about what it would be like to live ____ or ____.  Then shortly after that first brush of excitement.  The fear starts nagging, the feelings of uncertainty and worry that we won’t get what we want that we won’t be happy.  And thus starts a cycle of stress and distress.  I’ve decided this isn’t necessary.  Really, Go figure!

While listening to my lesson tonight.  Pastor was talking about laying aside our will for God’s.  It sort of hit me right there that my main source of stress in each of our moving experiences was my desire to have things the way I want.  If I laid aside the desire for any specific outcome and instead focused on being excited for what God has already chosen, I might go into this whole thing with stability instead of fear.  I’ve decided I don’t “want” any particular outcome no dream destinations or care over when it happens.  I “want” to ride this one out with the Lord.  I’ve seen enough to know that He has carefully planned everything and never left me or failed me.  I don’t want my plan this time.  I want His. 

So, I’m VERY excited!  I’m going to be where the Lord sends me.  It’s never where I expect and always full of challenges.  All my roads lead to eternity with God anyway. 

I’ll keep you posted,

Mary

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Meet The Robinsons

Meet_the_robinsons[1]Meet The Robinsons is a Disney animated film for children.

I really like the movie, it’s cute.  The best thing of all is that I find a couple of doctrinal principles in the movie that make it even more fun.  The movie is about an orphan boy who is an inventor.  His name is Louis.  All of his inventions are disasters and just when he is going to give up completely a series of events alters the course of time and sends him on an adventure.  During one scene he is with his future family and doesn’t know it yet.  They are a crazy mix of characters all quirky and intense.  During dinner he is asked to fix one of his future inventions that makes PB and J sandwiches.  He works on it and then when he tries it, the whole thing explodes and PB and J fly all over room covering everyone!  He is completely crushed and yells out that he knew he couldn’t do it, and he’s so sorry!… but the whole room erupts in praise!  “Brilliant Failure!” one of the family exclaims.  “I’ve seen better! someone else roars out.  He was amazed at their excitement over this failure.  “From mistakes you learn, from success, not so much” they pointed out.  And then they explain how their motto was “Keep Moving Forward”  You always take each failure as just one step toward success.  You always keep moving forward no matter what.  I thought it was really cool.

Keep Sailing,
Mary

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Failure Adds Confidence Part 2

I really needed the lesson we had tonight in Bible class.  It is titled “Anyone Who Comes To Christ Will Certainly Not Be Cast Out”Today was another day where I was guilty of one of the failures I find most horrid and shameful in my relationship with God.  I couldn’t seem to help thinking of the verses that would condemn such actions and it brought me pretty low.  I also tried with all my might to rebound and apply the doctrines I know so well and it was a struggle.  It was a struggle because the guilt would come at me again and again and the doubt that God could really feel the same about me after I had displayed such weakness (especially toward Him).  Lucky for me this was the topic I was already going to talk about.  You see, this has been coming at me in several different forms over the last couple of weeks.  If it’s not one horrible failure it’s another, and not the usual ones or the more “moral” issues, it’s the sins I fear the most.  The ones that relate directly to my relationship with God and causing me to question if it is really even possible that I am a believer going forward.  How can one such as me, weak and untrusting, positively reckless in my capacity for evil, be special to God, beloved and encouraged to go forward?  Under my recent state of mind, in the more low moments I wonder if there is any reward left to receive. 

Despite these feelings, I am convinced that this is a very important stage in the Christian way of life.  It’s not just some attack by evil forces to get me discouraged.  I think it’s a training zone that all must pass through.  It is in this place that only failure can give me confidence.  Sure, I am quite confident in my standing with God just so long as I haven’t had a noticeable failure but as soon as I mess up big time I have no confidence in my standing with God until the sting fades.   I have always heard the phrase “being right with God” and automatically put emphasis on self.  I think to myself, I must stay right with God to have a good relationship with God so that must mean I have to please Him with my behavior and unwavering faith to have continuing fellowship and have Him be proud of me as His child.  Only under those terms, God would have to chuck me, because I continually fail and He would have to be proud of me and then disappointed and finally just give up when I’ve finally done something bad enough.  These thoughts are anti-doctrine, anti-grace and spiritual insanity! 

The confident believer is confident not in their relationship with God but with God’s relationship with them.  When God called me beloved and approved He based it on His faithfulness and love, His Justice that is already satisfied at the cross.  My spiritual inadequacies, failures, sins whatever… were taken out of the way long before I was born.  Just as God is free to give me eternal life because of the cross, He is also free to maintain an unchanging relationship towards me based solely on His own performance, that of Jesus Christ.  Even when He needs to discipline, He isn’t disappointed in me.  He is maturing me, propelling me forward in love.  He just waits patiently till I’m willing to accept the grace for the worst of me and the hopelessness of my ability to put myself in good relationship with Him.  It takes rebound(1John1:9) in the face of guilt and for guilt, especially for the guilt.  The self thrashing and guilt is the greatest barrier to getting back in fellowship.  At some point, one I think I’m closer to, that jump back into fellowship and confidence in God’s approval of me will be like breathing. 

 And, if I’m ever going to be effective in spiritual battle and perseverance I can’t be without confidence.  That is what this training ground is for.  If I can maintain great confidence in the face of shattering failure.  I will be ready for what God wants to bring in my life.  He can’t put me in battles I am not ready for.  Great spiritual battles contain great failure and without the ability to know exactly what God is thinking of me, without absolute confidence in God’s relationship with me, I can’t fight.  He wants me to be in the game so I can share in His victory.   He suffered unimaginably to give this worthless creature all the blessings for time and eternity that He has prepared.   Everything about me that goes on into eternity is part of Him.  It’s His eternal life I’m going to live, His blessings, His righteousness. 

Thank You Lord.

Keep Sailing,

Mary

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Failure Adds Confidence? Part 1

Failure adds confidence?  This seems sort of backwards on the surface.  You would think failure would cause insecurity but that is not the case in the Christian Way of Life.  When out of fellowship with God, failure does bring insecurity and self condemnation but when we are in fellowship, God uses failure as a launching pad for growth.  Failure brings us face to face with the impossibility of the self life(sin nature) to please God.

The lesson of sin and failure isn’t doing better next time or finally overcoming sins.  It’s gaining confidence in God’s relationship towards us and His work to transform our lives.  God’s goal for me isn’t the eradication of sins and arrogance.  I think He is well aware of the fact that I’ll have a sin nature in my flesh till I die.  I think the goal is putting off the sin and arrogance we get so easily entangled in and living in the new nature through rebound(1John 1:9).  Since we get so easily entangled, we will have to put off the sin nature and it’s sins a lot. The sin nature isn’t going to get more righteous, it’s simply not possible to eradicate even one sin from it’s roster.  Even if we think we are on firm grounding because we are eliminating one sin after another in our experience it may just be that we have gotten really disciplined at avoiding the ugly sins we don’t like.  That doesn’t mean we are becoming more spiritual.  God isn’t more pleased with me because I sin less.  He is pleased with His New Nature inside me and my choosing to live in it and stay in it as much as possible.

Living in my sin nature isn’t going to glorify God even if it cleans up it’s act.  The beauty of God’s plan in this is that the natural result of putting off the “old man” and putting on the “new” is less time lived in the sin nature and more time in the plan of God for my life.  There may be less actual “sins” committed but they will still be committed even if maybe less frequently.  We need to rebound and get back in the plan of God.

Lets say for example that someone has a problem with gossip.  They know it’s wrong and they fall into it so easily but one day they become very convicted that they must stop gossiping.  So they work hard at stopping and they succeed.  Only now it’s not that they are living in the new man, it’s that they have trained the sin nature to stop one particular behavior.  Not doing “bad” things can make life easier and less painful but it doesn’t make you spiritual.  As we get older we do tend to outgrow some of our more obvious flaws and learn to avoid the things that make us feel bad or cause negative consequences but yet again, the sin nature hasn’t actually gotten any better it’s just changed it’s operation.  We will actually believe that the better we behave the more pleasing to God we are.  This is a complete deception.  Spiritual living is living in the perfect new nature which cannot sin anyway.  The sin nature begs for our attention and tempts us continually and when we choose to listen to it and let it control our soul we sin.  When we choose to rebound(1John1:9) we listen to God the Holy Spirit and He controls our soul putting us back in fellowship.  Why am I repeating myself?  Mostly for my own benefit.  The whole process is repeated innumerable times till we die.  I can’t be reminded enough.  I never get tired of getting back in fellowship, it’s the sin nature I get tired of.  And if you say you have no sin (1John1:8) as in, you have conquered your worst sins one by one and have become more pleasing to God, then the Bible says the truth is not in you and you are deceiving yourself.  We never outgrow rebound and fellowship with God or the struggle to not live in the sin nature.  God being fully understanding of our dual natures made provision so that we would not ruin ourselves with the effects of the sin nature. A way out, an easy transition from sin, to spirituality.  It always comes back to volition. At every moment the choice is ours.   More on this subject next time.

Keep Sailing,
Mary

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Rest

God isn’t waiting for me to “get it all together” His plan goes on whether I’m having a good day or a bad one.  His grace is always available and He is aware that I am but dust.  He doesn’t disapprove of me on my less than stellar days and approve of me more on the days I succeed.  God is at rest with me.  I need to quiet my desire to always feel like a “good little girl” and chastise myself for all my insufficiency and instead get inside that rest God has with me.   Tomorrow is another day to go forward.  Today is done.  Eternity awaits.  Perfect righteousness is mine and that is a fact I need to live in.  The flesh and it’s failures are only temporary.  Lay them aside and press on.

Keep Sailing,

Mary

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God’s Faithfulness or Yours?

God is faithful.  Faithful to provide love, forgiveness, discipline, food, clothing, all things spiritual and to keep the world turning… and on and on.  Yet so many Christians when they receive a blessing or personal deliverance or help from the Lord do not take it as proof of God’s faithfulness but instead their own.  They see God’s hand in their lives as a stamp of approval from God on their spiritual lives. They may think to themselves “Wow, I’m not worthy of this blessing but I must be in the right place with God”

I can look around at all kinds of believers the lukewarm and the Hot, the indifferent and the faithful.  Ask any one of them, and they will have many examples of how God has personally provided and led them.  The caution here is to understand that God is not validating your life through His blessings.

Your spiritual life must line up with the word of God in order to glorify God.  You cannot line up your spiritual life with experiences and call it good.

Keep Sailing,

Mary

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Beware The False Colors

Beware the sweet, gentle, helpful individual in the local assembly who really only wants to “enlighten” you.  They didn’t come to your congregation to learn. They aren’t wholly focused on working out their own salvation.  They don’t really believe the Pastor Teacher has all the truth.  Sure he has pretty good doctrines( he’s missing the vital ones of course) and they are just waiting around for the opportunity to “teach” you something they think you are missing.  They truly believe that God has brought them to you or your congregation to give you “truth” and they think it’s noble, right, and their calling.  They think they can possibly get the Pastor Teacher to accept their doctrines given enough time and if that doesn’t work they will be available to teach and be so nice and sweet and have just enough truth to wheedle their way in to a leadership position(so they can give the real truth to at least some). Or maybe hold an outside Bible study where they can work on the weak and searching. Then after the damage is done they leave feeling martyred for having their “truth” make them unpopular, after-all God must be calling them somewhere else to share truth with all those who don’t have it like they do.   Beware! be on guard.  Watch out for this attack!

Don’t become this person.

It’s never anyones job to be in a local assembly for any other purpose than to learn doctrine under their right Pastor Teacher and work out their own salvation with fear and trembling.  If it is indeed their “right” Pastor Teacher the teaching will be challenging and their personal study based upon the Pastor’s Teaching wholly absorbing.  If you find yourself disagreeing with the Pastors doctrines you need to be absolutely certain you can back up your disagreement with scripture and then quietly leave.  We have absolutely no business being in a local assembly where we think we know more than the Pastor.  It is never ever our business what doctrines our fellow believers know or don’t know.  It is certainly not our job to fill the deficiency even if there is one. Where in the Bible are we commanded to fix doctrines in someone Else’s congregation? Each believer in the local assembly is accountable to God for their own knowledge of Him and God will only expand that knowledge through the teaching of Bible doctrine under the filling of the Holy Spirit by their Right Pastor Teacher not Mr. or Mrs. congregational member(no matter how knowledgeable or gifted in teaching).  I’m not saying that God can’t show you something through a friend, encourage you or have the doctrines you know echoed or expounded upon, or help to get a point across to you by another believer but when it comes to learning doctrines and being grounded in truth, or fixing doctrinal deficiency, that is the Pastor’s Job.  If you are in the plan of God your face will be pressed forward like flint and you will be barely aware of anyone but you and God in the local assembly when it comes to teaching.  After the teaching there is room for fellowship and service but don’t forget to mind your own damn business and if you just can’t help trying to “teach” everyone what they lack.  Get your own church and leave everyone Else’s alone!

We are free to share doctrine with anyone and hope for others to know it (friends, family,acquaintances, co-workers etc) but not to go into a local assembly with that purpose unless we are the Pastor Teacher of that local assembly.  If teaching corrected doctrine is necessary in a local assembly you are a part of… then you shouldn’t even be there.  It’s not your right Pastor or the place God wants you to be.

I’ve seen this first hand and been confused by the sweet personality and sincere intentions and that is why I decided to write about it.  It only recently became clear to me as “false colors”  and worse.

I don’t want anyone to confuse what I’m saying with helping each other, encouragement, and sharing doctrine with all those around us in our everyday life whenever possible.  Or having a discussion about doctrines with other members of our congregation and learning something from them.  Or giving advice when asked.  Hopefully what I was trying to say is clear.  Don’t subvert the Pastor’s authority in ANY local assembly(good or bad) by your arrogance and good intentions.  Go forward in the plan of God being taught.

Keep Sailing,
Mary

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