Tag Archives: Word of God

There Are No Points For Keeping Score

I’ve been blank lately with nothing to write about but I think I may have something finally to share.

  Recently I went through a difficult experience, one that I felt was more of a test for applying doctrine more than anything else.  The most disappointing thing about it was that nothing I did or tried to apply “worked” everything seemed a failure.  I thought, surly by now I should be able to apply doctrine under pressure and when I didn’t and could barely hang on to basic fellowship, I was angry and frustrated.  I found that this attitude leads to a danger zone of give-up-itis.  You hear that there is power and the life of Christ but you have decided that it just isn’t true or isn’t possible(for you).  God didn’t provide what you wanted in the way that you wanted it or in the way you had understood it should happen and so you figure God must be wrong.  I know that sounds ludicrous but in human arrogance we really think that our understanding is the ultimate measurement of truth.  If I understand God to be saying one thing but really I’m only understanding one quarter of it, and things don’t go the way I thought they should, what do I do?  I blame God and I don’t take into consideration that I cannot possibly have it all figured out.  If I daily need to have my mind renewed because I’m daily bombarded by cosmic viewpoint and can’t think divine viewpoint without daily doctrine, how can I think that I have God’s ways all figured out?  I can’t and I’m arrogant to think that I do. 

 In Bible class tonight and last Wed we have been studying what the Bible means by “losing your life” from Mat 10:39.  I can’t say that I really grasp it yet but one aspect really stood out to me, here is a quote “Many believers don’t want to lose the old life because they continue to have confidence in it”  I came to some conclusions when I heard that, and wrote some notes, these are in rough form since I jotted them down quickly:

You value your performance life, so you are bitter that God does not accept it. 

God does not value your performance.  He values your being filled with the Spirit and taking in Doctrine, and Knowing Him intimately.

You are keeping score based on what you think it means to think doctrine, apply doctrine or follow the rules of conduct that you think are the results of spirituality. 

Because I am keeping score and evaluating God’s word based on my own standards and performance during pressure I’m not operating in faith.  It’s much simpler than I’m making it.  Be filled with the Spirit, believe the Word, get to know God and don’t keep score or try and pass the test.  I cannot offer to God my performance as an offering.  He doesn’t want it any more than He wanted Cain’s wonderful vegetables.  He is the goal I’m to be after, not a glorious self. 

How incredible is the power of God’s word to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart, to set right the thoughts of a person and bring them into relationship with God.  He is more incredible than there are words to express it. 

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 damn 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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Who Agrees With You?

I overheard a man talking on his phone in the store this weekend.  He was excited about his favorite politician;  “_____ really has his head on strait” he exclaimed.  His confident tone really caught my attention plus the fact that he was right behind me in the line.  It was my turn after that so I missed the rest of his remarks on health reform etc. 

Later this got me to thinking about something our Pastor said in Bible class during this last week.  He was talking about absolute truth and dogmatic facts from the Bible.  We were learning about Romans 9:19,20 and how in the ancient world debates were a common form of entertainment and since debaters like to use logic to win arguments they don’t really like absolute truth because it leaves no room for argument and removes “logic” as the primary source of grounding and replaces it with God, His word and His sovereignty.  The truth is the truth and who are we argue with God who created everything including the brain we are using to form arguments?  If we don’t like something that is absolutely true then the problem is really with us and not with the truth.  The real key is to know the truth and have trust in the one who made it the truth.  This becomes reality for the believer and opinion is no longer something of value. 

People love their opinions and they are free to have them.  I find though, that very often when it comes to politics people always like whoever agrees with them.  If one person agrees with you then they “have their head on strait” but if another disagrees then they are “an idiot”.  I guess then the real question is, where do you get your source of truth?  Is it absolute truth?  If your “opinions” are based on principles of truth that cannot be changed, from a source greater than you, then great!  On the other hand if you have developed your own system of “truth” by observation, emotion, fear, or personal intelligence then you are just an arrogant pin-head!  You actually think that you have all knowledge, you think that your sphere of experience and observation is enough to predict and create a solidly positive future.  You must be a mini-god in your own right to have that power.  There are no new undiscovered ideas out there to save everyone from pain and suffering or a magic book of secrets that some guy in Washington has to protect you from personal disaster and death.  There is a book on the other hand that has absolute truth and can give you guidance as to how to have a prosperous nation, and what kind of policies and laws lead to disaster.  This same book can lead you through suffering and death with peace and security so that you don’t have to run to men and sell out your freedom trying to avoid what you cannot avoid(personal pain and suffering).  The more people in a nation that have absolute truth the more free and prosperous the nation.  The more absolute truth is rejected, the more the nation suffers, until there is no truth left in the people and it is destroyed. 

The Bible is an amazing book.  It tells us “There is a way which seems right to a man, but it’s end is the way of death” Proverbs 14:12.  Our opinions and ideologies can seem right and kind and strong but if they are not grounded on absolute truth they end in destruction.

Jesus said ” For this is the will of My Father, that everyone who beholds the Son and believes in Him, may have eternal life; and I Myself will raise him up on the last day.” John 6:39  There is no destruction for those who believe and live in absolute truth which is Jesus Christ Himself.  He is “the way the truth and the Life”

Keep Sailing,
Mary

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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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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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