Tuesday, December 18, 2012

I've never had outbursts of anger before as I do now. I get very angry and then very ashamed of that anger. In the moment, I tell myself I don't care who sees. But I do care. Then I think of the person who made me angry and lash out at them in an effort to show them how much their attitude affects me, hoping they'll stop.

Wanting to maintain at least a shadow of what I once thought was mine, which was really just a self-righteous form of morality, I let the shame of that facade being exposed anger me even more. I try to justify my anger, but all it does is pour gas on the fire. Then I yell, cursing at God, telling him I must be another sad loss, who's end is to be cast into hell.

I feel like I've lost everything, and that other people have stolen it all. I can't take constant interactions with people. It drains me so that when I get home, I want to seclude myself as a monk so that I'm not tempted anymore, but that's a false form of godliness. Anyone's sin can sit dormant if they disconnect themselves from anything that may cause it to stir.

I need to learn the art of controlling myself in the midst of temptations, rather than fighting to keep temptations from happening. Trying to run from temptation is just fighting the symptom of the problem without getting to the root of it. But where do I get the strength to do it? I don't have the will anymore. I try to find something to turn the ignition for righteousness and to keep it's engine fueled, but it always ends up dying out. Then I find myself back in the same mess, and even worse than it was before.

I don't need counsel. I just need to know that's possible to escape this place I'm in. I need to know that someone has experienced exactly what I'm going through, but found their way out.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

My mind is so much busier than it was when I was a newborn Christian. I have a lot more responsibilities than I did then. It was so much easier when I was 19, unemployed, had no bills to pay, and zero obligations.

It's a struggle to keep my mind on the Lord now. It was so much easier when there was no stress! I grieve when I remember the days I first knew the Lord. Everything was so new and exciting. It was like being in some dream.

It feels so far away now. Daily interactions with people are so exhausting that, on my weekends, I choose to stay completely secluded the entire duration.

I feel crowded, overrun, and pressured. I'm imprisoned by sin (the power) and the cares that ceaselessly pelt at my mind.

I wish I could throw it all away and live as a monk.

I don't care about making a ton of money. I don't care about having some silly education. I don't care about being smart or clever. I just want out of this, and I want the easy way out. You know, like winning a lottery, quitting my job, and living in a small house in some quiet place.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Handling Stress

We don't "overcome" stressful situations.

That would be flying through a storm.

We keep our eyes on Christ and are unaffected by it.

That is flying above the storm.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Evil is Always Present

I am so fickle!

You know, it's a great deal easier to keep the mind stayed on Christ and have peace when you are not in the midst of stress.

Over the weekend, I can recharge and set my mind on Christ and have peace, yet when I get back to work, it is very hard to keep my mind stayed on Him and to keep myself from getting angry and totally forgetting what it really is that I desire. When I get home, the Spirit makes His desires aware to me, to abstain from sin.

Understand me. I do not have feelings of guilt, but a strong desire to be free and to live free. I want to speak good things to people and use my words to build up, not to tear down. I want to be free from the fear of men.

"When I want to do good, evil lies close at hand."

I want the goodness of Christ to be shown in me toward others at work. It's an incessant, uphill battle, as it is for all believers.

That is why it is written to us, "There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus".

The renewal of our minds is so crucial for us to live free from fear, sin and unbelief.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

It's currently on my heart to pray for certain persons who have left healthy doctrine for error and false teaching. It somewhat grieves me when I think of these who began in grace but then became over-excited, if you will, and ran on ahead of the teachings of Christ, giving into philosophy and human reasoning. I don't feel it worth mentioning the false teachings themselves, just that the Lord has laid it on my heart to pray for them.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Dead to the Law

Is it love or is it the Law that guides us Christians in our day-to-day living?

I've been reading quite a bit from Martin Luther's writings lately and he would say salvation is of course by faith, but that the Law is still to be used as a guide for holy living. But, he says, when one feels the guilt from not being able to keep the Law, we should quickly remember the Gospel and discard, rather than entertain, any thoughts or feelings of condemnation. Luther also zealously argued the need for the Law in converting unbelievers, Jew or Gentile. He said it was necessary that people see their own sin before they could come to Christ for justification.

However, I do not see that in the scripture. I see Paul preaching only Christ and faith to the majority of his Gentile audience, who were unacquainted with the Law. I also see Paul, in his letter to Timothy, explain that it is Christ's love that restrains us from evil works. The scripture from Romans immediately comes to mind where Paul says "Sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under law but under grace."

In fact, Paul says the power of sin is in the Law, and that the Law can only serve to incite sin within the human race and thus show mankind's need for the Savior.

So, it seems right to me, that if we would be free from sin, we should continually renew our minds with the Gospel so as to stir up faith within our hearts, and our hearts being purified by faith, we receive the power to abstain from every kind of sin.

This is not, however, automatic. There is discipline to be had, but the motive for our discipline has changed entirely under the new paradigm the Gospel gives us. The motive for discipline now comes from our love of Christ, because, as the scripture says, he first loved us.

So then, the requirement for a Christian, if they are to remain free from sin, is the renewal of his or her mind that comes from hearing the Gospel afresh, daily. The only two remedies for sin that a Christian receives from God are these: the Gospel and the Holy Spirit. The Christian is not given the Law as a remedy for sin. The Law is for those outside the faith, holding them under the condemnation of God. It would make no sense for a Christian to continue to utilize the Law when the Law has already accomplished in him the work for which it was sent. That is, to lead them to Christ. Now that faith has come into a Christian's heart, there ends his partnership with the Law. He is entirely dead to the Law and it's requirements.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Only The Gospel Creates Right Living

In past few days I have felt the cloud of deadness and apathy begin to clear. I can see, though still somewhat bleakly, the joy that was mine before I fell into various sins and despondency. I now realize that my joy did not derive from striving to keep my mind renewed with how I ought to behave as a Christian, though I am not trying to devalue the value of good behavior.

It's apparent to me now that my joy and motivation always had it's source in the Gospel, I just was not aware of it. I thought those things came from my striving to please God under the Law, so much so that I strongly desired to be back under the Law and fear because my behavior had gotten so severely out of line in nearly every respect.

The mistake I made before was believing in the Gospel, but at times giving into the despair that the Law brings. I thought it was the terror of the Law that kept me in line, but in reality the Law was nothing but a hindrance to me in having joy and love for Christ. The truth is, it was my partial misunderstanding of doctrine that took advantage of my love for God, born from my belief in the Gospel, and tempted me to run to the Law because I so wanted to please Christ. I didn't know, even after coming to a sincere faith in Christ alone, that it was always the power of the Gospel that was holding me up! My zeal for the Law only gave me setbacks. I had moments of such a pure faith in the Gospel that enabled me to move mountains, but then I would allow the Law to resurface and be offered up to my conscience through whatever agent the devil could utilize, be it teachers or my own temptations to revert back to the Law.

In truth, the Gospel is the only thing I have been given to have power from sin, death, hell, fear and the devil. My fallen flesh is ceaselessly tempted to revert back to the Law, sin and unbelief.

True, I needed my mind renewed in times of temptation and weakness, but I wrongly judged that the mind needed to be renewed with the Law. The Law has no power in restraining my flesh, nor can I afford, by the flesh, to continue to have my mind renewed with it's requirements, no matter how much I try to muster up the consistency to keep my mind renewed with pure living and noble behavior. The only thing that softens my heart is the Gospel. The Gospel is the only thing I can eat of constantly and never grow full or nauseous.

It is so easy, even after having a revelation of grace, to revert back to the Law. Hence all the exhortations to "stay awake" and "be alert of mind" that are in the Scriptures.

The Law does not have the capacity within it to shake you out of apathy, despondency and sin; it can only worsen the problem.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Back to Basics

I have been reading quite a bit of Martin Luther's writings lately. I'm fascinated by him as he was clearly called by God, as is evidenced by his great revelation of grace, to reveal grace to a church that scarcely existed due to the false teachings of Catholicism.

His writings have stirred my mind with thoughts that perhaps the reason I am stuck in such a place of apathy and sin, is because I haven taken my eyes off the Gospel. Not that I was rejecting it, but that I had not been paying close attention to grace, renewing my mind. My heart needs constantly be refreshed by the grace of Christ, otherwise, I am in danger of forgetting or considering the Gospel of little worth. Thus, the power to overcome apathy and sin is quenched. I could say apathy toward the Gospel is a form of unbelief, and not long after unbelief, do we see the fruits of it.

After reading only a few pages of Luther's argument for case of Christ's salvation, I felt myself renewed and energized.

I had thought that I knew the Gospel and was free from the fear of Christ's judgment, and indeed I have been, but I believed that I needed to move onto discipline and leave behind the Gospel. Not that I didn't need it anymore, but I felt my knowledge was sufficient, and while the revelation I have had of grace has been, without question, great, I am never to move onto something else. The Gospel is my salvation and my power for Godly living. How could I have been so deluded? I knew this from the beginning.

I write this to say to myself, and other believers, that we ought to stay awake and, "gird up the loins of our minds" with the Gospel of Christ.

The Gospel is all we need. We do not need to focus on discipline, however, we must be aware that discipline does have it's place, but only when the mind is set on Christ and on his Gospel.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

New Wine

Here's a great post from Brian entitled, "New Wine".

Why Obedience?

Initially, upon having a revelation of grace, I had a lot of unlearning to do.

Well, I am not so sure that it was unlearning, as it was learning to trust, depend, and rely on Christ alone. The core of my experience was knowing theoretically that Christ loved me apart from my behavior, but I believed that was only for my conversion; to woo me in. I didn't realize it, but I viewed God's love as something He used to bait me with, but once I bit down on it, I was to become His employee. I had to discipline myself to believe that it was because of Christ alone that God continues to give me his favor and love. It's because of Christ alone that I am a not a slave, but a son.

I am not writing here to say that faith was wrong. By no means. I continue to search out the depth of God's love. However, there were some things I picked up along the way that are wrong.

Such as?

Such as the belief that there are no "shoulds" for the believer; that there are no commands.

There are indeed commands and "shoulds", but they ought to be built on a foundation of grace, knowing that it is not our behavior that gives us good status with God.

Jesus shows us this in Luke 17:7-10

“Will any one of you who has a servant plowing or keeping sheep say to him when he has come in from the field, ‘Come at once and recline at table’?
Will he not rather say to him, ‘Prepare supper for me, and dress properly, and serve me while I eat and drink, and afterward you will eat and drink’? Does he thank the servant because he did what was commanded? So you also, when you have done all that you were commanded, say, ‘We are unworthy servants; we have only done what was our duty.’”

There are commands. However, if you obey commands, don't suppose it will earn you a better status with God. Christ is your status with God, and the commands you obey, are not to be obeyed with the belief that you will somehow get some bonus points. Remember the laborers in the vineyard? Those who worked twelve hours had the same pay as those who worked only one hour.

We obey, but we obey from the heart. Not from compulsion, but from the freedom we have in Christ.

This has got to be the toughest discipline that I have not yet acquired. I want to obey, but no one, not even God, will make me obey. I can only choose to. And the "reward" is the action itself. (There may be rewards for us upon the return of Christ, but Paul is very vague on the subject.)

I can choose to have joy in my spirit by obeying God, or I can choose for my spirit to be in torment by obeying sin.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Don Francisco - I Dont Care Where You've Been

Charles Spurgeon - Deliverance from Sinning

"If, however, you are troubled about the power of sin, and about the tendencies of your nature, as you well may be, here is a promise for you. Have faith in it, for it stands in that covenant of grace which is ordered in all things and sure. God, who cannot lie, has said in Ezekiel 36:26:
    A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh.
    You see, it is all "I will," and "I will." "I will give," and "I will take away." This is the royal style of the King of kings, who is able to accomplish all His will. No word of His shall ever fall to the ground."

Saturday, February 25, 2012

REO Speedwagon - Keep On Loving You

You should've seen by the look in my eyes, baby
There was somethin' missin'
You should've known by the tone of my voice, maybe
But you didn't listen

You played dead but you never bled
Instead you lay still in the grass
All coiled up and hissin'

And though I know all about those men
Still I don't remember
'Cause it was us baby, way before then
And we're still together

And I meant, every word I said
When I said that I love you
I meant that I love you forever

Home's Where The Heart Is

I was thinking about something a bit random while driving to work today.

A coworker and friend of mine, who is an Atheist, told me that his problem with Christianity primarily stems from the way he was raised. He was raised to attend Church every Sunday, regardless of whether he wanted to go or not.

He never wanted to go.

He mentioned to me that his brother, and all of the other kids loved going, but he hated it. He would rather stay at home, watch television or play video games as kids are wont to do.

Now, I can understand the reasoning behind a parents desire to have their children go to Church. It's not wrong to desire that your kids learn about Jesus. However, if that is the reason behind you forcing your unwilling child to attend Church, then perhaps your good intentions are misguided. If your sole purpose is for them to learn about the Lord, then mayhaps you should learn about Christ yourself and teach your son or daughter in a more comfortable fashion for them. That is, if they are not comfortable in a Church-type setting.

Many, including myself, are not comfortable in that type of setting. I would have loathed obligatory Church attendance as a child and it would have only served in embittering me toward God.

But, learning at home, from your own mother and father, could be a much better way for a kid to experience the love of God. What better way to learn about the love of The Father than from your own father?

Not that I'm a parent.

I feel a tugging at my heart for this friend because I feel if he only knew what I saw 6 years ago this month, those bitter memories would be brushed aside like an unwanted cobweb.

It's imperative for people to understand that God is so different from the way he has been portrayed by so many well-intentioned believers.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Open Minded?

I was speaking to a brother tonight over the phone. We spoke of a few things, but we always tend to discuss the topic of the surging popularity concerning the disregarding of scripture. Is it for fear of being labeled as a religious bigot? Whatever it is, it isn't from God. We know he is not the author of confusion.

In my debates with Universalists online, they often seek to persuade me to "open my mind". My question is, why? I've read the scriptures. If I know the truth, why give thought to a lie? What they would consider "open minded", is in reality a willingness to harden your heart to truth.

The brother I was speaking with tonight made a great example of this when Satan tempted Eve to eat from tree that God had told her not to. She knew the truth already, yet Satan wanted her to open up a bit and, shall we say, "think outside the box".

"Did God really say...?" Maybe he didn't really mean what he said. Maybe you should explore other interpretations, Eve. Let's dissect his words a bit and find out what God was really trying to show you. The truth that was so simple, was it really meant to be so simple? Or was it a ploy to get you to eat from the tree and gain knowledge?

This is the way Satan works. He clouds clarity, and where there is assurance, he seeks to create doubt.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Lord, I Need You - Chris Tomlin

Thinking of Truth

I deleted my Facebook. And not without good reason.

I felt that it kept me distracted. I do not believe Facebook to be a bad thing, however I desire that my time spent on the internet be another tool to utilize in order to renew my mind with God's truth. Which, in my experience, is the only way to be free from sin. The word says we are transformed by the renewal of our minds. There is a very close connection between the mind and the heart. It seems they work in unison, and I base that reasoning on scripture. "As a man thinks in his heart, so is he." One may even question whether or not they are the same thing.

The reason I desired to be rid of my profile is that I've discovered that the saying, "Bad company corrupts good morals" is quite accurate. It's so easy for my mind to become muddled by what I see and hear. I would like to say that I am strong enough not to allow lies affect me, but I would not be acknowledging the truth. The truth is, I am weak; I am unstable as water. I'm relieved to know it's no sin to be weak. It's no wrong thing to need Christ every moment.

Before, in my askew view of Christianity, I needed to be strong enough to live without Christ. I had to be independent and self-assured. That's a lie. I am susceptible to sin. It's delusion to believe otherwise.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

I need more time to be kind.

I'm a horrible representative for Christ. Horrible.

I want to love; not for my sake, nor to earn my way to God, but rather for the sake of others and their salvation. If I love, it needs to be for their benefit and for their correct perception of God.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

I have a choice and I am not incapable of choosing.

I can choose to trust myself or Christ. I can choose to defend myself or believe God is my defense. I don't think, as a believer, that he ever stops being our defense, however, if we should choose to take matters in our own hands, we will reap certain consequences for those choices.

When I am insulted, abused, stripped of my dignity, my worth and my respect, I can choose to see what I cannot see; that God has crowned me, as a believer, with honor.

"I do not seek to glorify myself; if I glorify myself, my glory is nothing."

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Tear Down This Wall!

In Christ, I know I am absolutely free of any condemnation.

However, my behavior matters to me possibly more than it did before relying on Jesus. Reason being, I am able to grasp the reason for morality and kind words. Previously, living under a taskmaster of my own creation, the rules were something I obeyed without questions or the need for explanation.

Grace opened my eyes to the world, in a sense. That did not, unfortunately, make it easier to practice morality. To the contrary... I was freed to reason and make my own choices.

While speaking with a friend a few weeks ago, he diagnosed my issue with extraordinary ease. He told me I was too well acquainted and reliant upon boundaries. Too often I have counted on my boundaries to keep me safe from harm, so much so that I have scarcely exercised my ability to make choices. Those muscles have long since become atrophied.

I take encouragement in my dissatisfaction and I know freedom will come eventually, albeit with a considerable amount of difficulty.