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October 31, 2007

Sanitized confessions...

...how many of us have spent significant portions of our lives paralyzed by fear of exposure? We respond in groups by either clamming up or deflecting conversation because we don't want anyone to know the depth of our issues. And if we ever do give voice to our struggles, we sanitize it. We don't really want others to know how much we're hurting right now. And we don't want anyone to know how much our sin has hurt others.

Oh that we would be a church of humble women who are honest about our sin. Instead, so often we are a mix of shame and pride. We're ashamed of ourselves because of what others have done to us and what we, in turn, have done to others. And we're too proud to admit it to anyone. We must become women who value confession.
-Wendy Alsup

Paul's honesty:

I thank him who has given me strength, Christ Jesus our Lord, because he judged me faithful, appointing me to his service, though formerly I was a blasphemer, persecutor, and insolent opponent … The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost. (I Timothy 1:12-15)

October 30, 2007

Make no provision for the flesh

From Nancy Leigh DeMoss' October 18 broadcast Far from Sin:
You are saints, and that’s why we have to be serious about mortifying—putting to death our sinful flesh and anything and everything that feeds our flesh. I know that when we talk about this the word legalistic will probably surface, but I want to know, why are we so prone to defend choices that take us right to the edge of sin? Why are we so reluctant to make radical choices to protect our hearts and our minds from sin?...So what if you wouldn’t even consider getting drunk...but you are out of control when it comes to food or shopping or some other “Okay for Christians” addiction? It’s the heart...You’re considered spiritual. You’re a Christian leader. You are considered good. People respect you. They look up to you, but your heart is filled with pride, jealousy, and anger. You are self-righteous.
Nancy is teaching on something the Lord has been driving home to me in recent months: the Lord sees the heart. We stand bare before Him. Romans 13:14 “But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires". Don't feed the flesh! Nancy recommends setting up "guardrails" to keep away from sin, but I appreciate that she doesn't make a list of rules of how it should be done. The Lord sees the heart.

I highly recommend the broadcast. Read or listen to it here.

October 27, 2007

Longing for Egypt?

Last month a speaker asked if I was dissatisfied with the way of the Lord. Was I growing weary of God's way and (alluding a powerful Old Testament event:) wanting to have a foot in the Promised Land and a foot in Egypt? These questions continue to burn themselves into my mind. It is like God is shaking me, and saying E03, what do you really think you're going to miss out on if you finally choose to serve me with abandon? Why won't you just let me be your all, for always? Let's move forward in this relationship!

Perhaps we should review the general storyline of Israel's escape from Egypt to the Promised Land. Life was not good in Egypt. The Israelites had a great land promised to them, but they were stuck in slavery. "[The Egyptians] made [the Israelites'] lives bitter...the Egyptians used them ruthlessly" (Ex. 1:14)

The God of the universe heard, and acted. The Creator was relational, and compassionate! "The Israelites groaned in their slavery and cried out, and their cry...went up to God...God looked on the Israelites and was concerned about them." (Ex. 2:23, 25)

The Lord brought them out of Egypt in a miraculous way, a way that should have been unforgettable. That act of God should have been so incredible that the Israelites would choose to serve the Lord from that day forward. ("Didn't He bring us out of Egypt?!") But so quickly, so quickly, the Israelites were looking back at their Egypt affair as if those were the glory days. "Didn't we say to you...'Leave us alove; let us serve the Egyptians'? It would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians...." (Ex. 14:12) "If only we had died...in Egypt! There we sat around pots of meat and ate all the food we wanted, but you have brought us out into this desert to starve this entire assembly to death." (Ex. 16:3) Another passage says that they had fond memories of the garlic in Egypt. They wanted to go back.

Is there something wrong with this picture?
1) Israel in big trouble
2) Lord saves Israel
3) Israel wants to go back to its trouble

But am I not the same way?
1) E03 owes a sin-debt she cannot pay. E03 is in life of destruction and headed for eternal destruction.
2) Lord pays her sin debt with his own blood. E03 saved.
3) E03 wants to go back to the destructive lifestyle.

What makes me long for Egypt, when it seems to ridiculous to do so? Is it the guilt of "the list" of things that I know I shouldn't do, but sometimes wish I could do? To give a few examples, do I wish that I could:
- work less hard at my job?
- call in sick when i'm not really?
- pirate all the software and music i want?
- waste more time on fun but non-helpful activities?
- sleep in on Sundays?
- spend all my excess income however I want?
- skip Bible reading and prayer?
- fit in with the cool crowd, whatever they're doing?
- ignore the tough stuff in relationships, lie a little?
- spend time with only the people that make me comfortable?
- date around, have some "fun"?


Looks like I get bogged down in longing for Egyptian ways. When I think that way, I'm forgetting that the Lord looked on me and was concerned about me. I am pitting my limited knowledge against His omniscience when I determine that my way is the better way. My don'ts list starts to ring of a legalistic relationship (checklist/if-I-must -style) rather than a loving relationship. It sounds too much like I'm doing what I do to maintain appearances, not out of love and gratitude to the Lord.

The speaker I heard asked these questions:
Am I dissatisfied with the ways of God?
Do I think that the wicked have all the fun?
Have I ever gotten past the "sour" bits and entered into the goodness of God?
Do I enjoy the relationship? God isn't a subject, he's a person.
How well do I know the Lord? Do I just know about Him?

I think that those last sentences help hold the key for the solution to my longing for Egypt. If I long for Egypt, I must not know the God of the Promised Land very well. When the Lord saved me from the penalty for my sin, I entered into a renewed relationship with Him. But how well do I really know Him? Relationships are dynamic, growing, changing, maturing...
and as I learn about this, my relationship with the Lord is definitely a work in progress.
Taste and see that the Lord is good,
blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him.
Psalm 3:8

October 20, 2007

They prayed for the backslidden at prayer meeting.
And my soul said:
but oh am i at Bible study and still have my back turned?
am i a church-attending backslider?
Anathema - may it never be!

am i responding in faith and obedience
to what i know the Lord has spoken?

October 11, 2007

"are you content to offer to Jesus
that which cost you nothing?"


'a single woman today needs the boldness to challenge and break the cycle of the "American way" that
exalts a relationship with a man as the answer to life. this "American way" blurs the reality of the ultimate answer to life found in a deep relationship with Jesus Christ..."in Him you have been made complete" (Col. 2:9).

-quotes from my lunchtime read, Lady in Waiting

October 07, 2007

From the journals

Pharisees are characterized by
  • stinging like vipers
  • misusing words
  • unrighteousness
  • falsely accusing others
  • being more concerned with what others are doing than with their own actions
  • wrong deeds
  • dissatisfaction with what God gives them
  • being consumed with outward appearances when uncleanness comes from within
  • putting themselves in positions of authority, as God's voice-boxes, but then speaking for themselves instead of speaking for the Lord
  • focusing on the tiny details at the loss of the big picture
Am I a Pharisee, Lord? Help me to see my sin as you see it.
_______________________

Lord, please redefine for me the following words that I've allowed the world to define. Or maybe I've kept the basic structure of what your Word says on these words, but I've allowed the world and the flesh to fill in the blanks in my understanding.
love joy success happiness
Redefine these words for my heart, because although my mind could probably give a fairly Biblical definition, this heart is wanting of Biblical definitions, stories and pictures for those words. I fall short even when I think I need to trust you to "fill in what I don't know/have". In reality, I need to let you be my all in all -- not just the extra pieces, but the entire puzzle. You are my life, Oh precious Christ.
_______________________

Lord, the ache in me when I let the idols around me fall down is the emptiness of knowing that I have focused on things below rather than things above, and that when I do so I am living fruitlessly, critically and uncontentedly.... If my focus is not on Christ then I will never be deeply joyful, others-centred and content.
_______________________
With such a blessed hope in view,
we would more holy be,
more like our rich and glorious Lord,
whose face we soon shall see.
(#5)