Hard to Live by Grace

Posted on 28. Mar, 2012 by in Grace

Why is it uncomfortable to walk fully in grace? Because we are accustomed to looking to outside standards and judging ourselves by those standards. If we meet the standard we are ok. If not, we are not ok. The Spirit of God calls us to live differently. We are to walk in utter freedom, with our lifestyle and actions ruled by the Holy Spirit, internally not externally. This manner of living tends to be uncomfortable at first, until we become accustomed to getting our bearings from the Spirit and not external things. Against this there is no law…

Biblical Examples of Faith – Volume 1

Posted on 03. Feb, 2011 by in Faith

I finally was able to get through the majority of my testimony on faith, and now want to turn to some things I have learned subsequent to these events, that still pertain to walking in faith.  I will try to these in shorter snippets, so here goes.

I recently read the book of Joshua, a book that really deals a lot in faith.  The first time that the children of Israel reached the promised land, their lack of faith sent them packing back to the desert for another 40 years.  Only Joshua and Caleb survived to see the final victory, because only they had faith and gave a good report.  Reading Joshua is very instructive to how we are to live our lives, as there was no doubt that the people of Israel had to  rely on God to bring them victory.  The first battle we read about after crossing Jordan is at Jericho.  I am sure you all know the story.  It is interesting that the Lord instructed them to do things that, in the natural, had nothing to do with the victory that they sought.  This is a good example of how we can not rely on our understanding of cause and effect to determine whether we follow the Lord’s instructions.  If He has said to move, and that move doesn’t make sense in the natural, we still must move.  1 Samuel 15:22 and Psalm 40:6-8 speak to the importance of being obedient to the call of the Lord.  The story of Jonah as well speaks to this.  In this case, the children of Israel obeyed, and the victory was astounding.

The next battle is against the town of Ai.  We read of how the people of Israel make plans for the battle, but this time it appears they make their own plans, and it appears that they quickly became over-confident.  The scouts recommend that only 3,000 go into battle, “for they are few”.  Unfortunately, the hand of the Lord has been removed from them, due to the sin of Achan, and this time an enemy they thought they could beat defeats them soundly.  Of course after this the Lord reveals the reason for the defeat, and makes it quite clear that Israel’s victory comes only by God’s might.  The sin of Achan is dealt with, and now God gives the instructions, for ALL the men of war to go forth,  and they follow God’s specific instructions to defeat this king.  Of course, overwhelming victory follows.

These two examples, as I read them, made it incredibly obvious to me the importance of putting our trust in Him.  At Jericho, Israel was victorious against overwhelming odds.  At Ai, Israel was defeated by an enemy they should’ve beaten easily (according to their own estimation).  This outlines a lesson I have learned in the past few years, that when we endeavor to serve God, but attempt to operate in our own ability, we may find ourselves defeated and frustrated by things that, from a natural perspective, shouldn’t have been a problem.  Likewise, when we trust Him, nothing is impossible to us.

The other thing I took from these passages, oddly enough, was a lesson in humility.  The more I read about the awesome intervention and power of God on behalf of the Israelites the more I became impressed that humility must come along with this.  If the Lord is going to operate in my life in an overwhelming manner, how can I live in pride?  How can I walk puffed up with my own importance?  Of course this got me thinking about some events in my own life in the last 3 years, and what I finally realized was that I had been trying to build the Kingdom of God, in a manner in which He had instructed me to build, but I was doing it in my own power, and much to my surprise at that time, was taking credit for it.  I really had a vigilante attitude about certain things, and this revelation from Joshua totally revealed my motives in this manner.  Now, reading through these verses I can not say “this verse made me think this”.  It was just a great example of how the Holy Spirit can use the written word to drop a revelatory word into our hearts, and suddenly bring light where once there was darkness.  Since that time I have gone to 3 specific individuals that I was previously at odds with and apologized, as my attitudes were totally unrighteous and inappropriate.  I am still learning to walk in that release, but it is good.

One last thing I want to share from the first part of Joshua comes from Joshua 3:3-4.  In this circumstance, God has instructed the people that the Ark should go across the Jordan first, and the people are to follow after, at a distance.  Verse 4 says “Do not come near it, that you may know the way by which you shall go, for you have not passed this way before”.  I can definitely say that I have not walked before in the manner in which I now walk, and must keep my focus on the embodiment of the presence of God on the earth, Christ.

More from Joshua later.  I really loved this book, and recommend anyone to read it.

Thursday Thoughts

Posted on 12. Aug, 2010 by in Strength in Weakness, Thursday Thoughts

This will probably be short, we’ll see what I have time for.  Its been busy in the ER all day, and I’m trying to get a bunch of charts signed off, so I guess priorities must take precedence!

We didn’t have bible study last night, so nothing to report.  Instead my wife and I ate Mexican and watched a taping of “The Next Food Network Star”.  Then we went to bed early.  Our 4 year old fell asleep in our bed, and there is nothing like your kid falling asleep next to you.  In fact, there is something magical about sleeping kids in general!

Best of…

I’ve not had much chance to read this week.  Here’s what I have come across:

A Simple Message | The Assembling of the Church.

“the voice of one crying out in suburbia…”: The cost of doing business.

Is it bed time yet? « Dead and Domestic.

subversive1: More Love, Less Politics.

I don’t have anything great to write tonight, so I’ll just share what’s on my mind, what’s going on in my life.  The Lord has been working with me on a very simple thing…getting up in the morning.  I’ve written about this before.  For me it comes down to an issue of the flesh, and at 5:00 am my flesh has been winning out.  I have focused on Romans 6 and 7, understanding that I am dead in Christ, therefore free from the rule of the flesh and sin.  I also understand Romans 8, that I have to approach this issue in the spirit, and not try to conquer this in my own strength.  The consequences of not getting up on time include:  not having the time I want to read the bible, pray, read other books, blog, etc.; I don’t have time to sign off charts for the clinic, and if you don’t sign off charts you don’t get paid.  The end result is that I often perpetually feel behind, which then makes me feel harried internally.  The thing I am learning, and have BEEN learning for some time (I’m slow I guess) is that BUSINESS (READ BUSY-NESS) IS A STATE OF MIND.  There is a scene in a Startrek episode where Capt. Picard is on a foreign planet, with some gal whose race has the ability to basically freeze time.  In said scene the gal blows on a dandelion-type flower, and all the seeds go flying.  She immediately “slows time”, so that she and Capt. Picard go on talking, as if in normal time, but the world around them slows down to a crawl.  This is a great visual for me, because I feel that in Christ time should “slow down” for us.  What I mean is this:  the more we learn to trust in Christ the less we are concerned about the hustle and bustle around us.  I think of it as “just existing”, a very restful state.  Hebrews 3 and 4 come to mind, about having entered into the rest of Christ, and ceasing from OUR labors.  Worrying about things doesn’t get them done any faster.

Here’s an example.  Sometimes in the ER or in my clinic we get inundated with patients.  Everyone wants everything, and they want it RIGHT NOW!!!  My tendency is to get overwhelmed, and then impatient, and next thing I know I am running ragged, barely keeping my head above water.  If I am not careful the result of that could be poor decision-making, something that I can’t afford to have, and also decreased patient satisfaction.  I am learning to just live minute by minute, to do what I am doing now, then move onto the next thing.  When I can approach things in this manner then I can see the forest through the trees, and see the things I could do to NOT get so far behind (although its not always under my control).  I am so much better at this now than I used to be, but still have to remind myself of it.

Another thing I continue to learn is that I can’t do everything.  Sometimes I find myself getting anxious in providing medical care, or dreading certain encounters because of what I know will be discussed.  What I realized recently, in talking to my nurse who is a believer and good friend, is that these are the times when I don’t have the answer to solve the person’s problem.  When I don’t know how to fix something I feel inadequate, and I HATE feeling inadequate.  If I don’t have the answer I feel I have failed, and I am NOT allowed to fail (in my internal psyche).  Of course, in my mind and heart I realize that my inadequacy is my greatest strength, because that is my opportunity to rely on His grace, but that truth hasn’t permeated that portion of my being…yet.  The more I learn this lesson the more I will enjoy my life and my practice, because this really is a common theme.  I have also found that, when I have no more to offer, that is a good opportunity to offer Christ, in the right circumstances.  I find myself being much more active in my faith in my practice, and I find that the leading in my heart to share usually is followed by an opening by the patient to share.  So, when I have nothing more to offer, I find I can offer the best “thing” of all!

Well, I guess that’s it.

I had a great facebook conversation with Anthony Verderame in Minnesota.  I love the ability to fellowship with brothers and sisters that I would otherwise have no chance to meet.  Check out Anthony’s blog, The Normal Christian.  I think you’ll like it.

Well, that’s more than I thought I’d write.  Next up, I think….”What it means to be a man in Christ”.  I think this subject is sorely lacking in our society.

God bless.

Thursday Thoughts

Posted on 05. Aug, 2010 by in Thursday Thoughts, Walking in the Spirit

I’ll start with my best of selections:

Meditating on the Law | The Ekklesia in Southern Maine.

Unity in My Terms | The Ekklesia in Southern Maine

subversive1: A PROFOUND MYSTERY.  I could really include 3-4 posts from Keith Giles in this list, but I’ll keep it to this one, and you can follow the link and read the rest for yourselves.

“the voice of one crying out in suburbia…”: An honest discussion on social justice

Alan Knox is back at it, but I haven’t had a chance to catch up on his blog.  I’m sure there’s some good stuff in his Ethiopia reports.

I don’t have a new song selection this week.  I’m still stuck on last week’s.

At our Wednesday bible meeting we talked more about the law, and how the death and resurrection of Christ released us from the requirements of the law.  We read from Galatians 2:15-21, which discusses justification by faith in Christ.  The key line for me is verse 18:  “For if I rebuild what I have once destroyed, I prove myself to be a transgressor.”  To me this speaks to re-establishing the rule of the law in our lives, the result of which is transgression.  Galatians 5:2-3 goes on to say that if we try to keep one part of the law, we are responsible for keeping the whole thing.  Of course in that case, we are doomed to fail.  The other verse that fascinates me now, that I never previously understood, is Galatians 3:19-20, with the focus being verse 20.  This passage discusses the use of a mediator, which of course would imply two parties.  It goes on to say, however, that God is one.  I never understood this until my wife read from the study notes in her bible.  What I now see is that the mediator was mediating between God and Man.  However, since Christ is both God and man, the success of the mediation is guaranteed because He is both sides of the mediation!  The overall point of Galatians 3 is to explain why the law was given, namely to clearly show us our need for Christ.

Knowing, then, the importance of walking in grace through faith, not only for justification but also for sanctification, we can further understand Romans 8, where it talks about walking in the spirit vs. walking in the flesh.

5For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. 6For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. 7For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. 8Those who are in the flesh cannot please God. 9You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. 10But if Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness. 11If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you.

Romans 8:5-11

In this passage, walking in the flesh could mean living carnally, but could also entail trying to live a righteous life by our own power, or taking the law back on ourselves.  In my own walk there are several issues the Lord has been dealing with me on.  One issue is getting up earlier in the morning.  Now, I love to sleep in.  I absolute love to sleep period.  I love just to lay in my bed.  It holds me captive in the mornings!  Trying to get myself up early to read the bible, pray or do charts at the clinic is like pulling teeth.  Once up I am fine, but getting up is a bear!  Since being convicted of this I have largely tried to attack this on my own strength.  Even after reading the above passage, and being instructed to “by the spirit put to death the deeds of the body” I still found myself trying in my own power.  I now see that, to overcome this issue I have to approach it spiritually, for real.  This involves prayer, speaking forth what He has already made me to be, so that what is already true in eternity becomes truth in this temporal realm, and may also include fasting or other measures.  The key is to not conquer this issue by the force of my will-power, as success gained by my strength is really failure.

I would love to hear others comments on what it means to you to “by the spirit put to death the deeds of the body”.  What I mean is, if you were me, and the Lord identified an issue that needed changed in your life, how would you approach this, in the Spirit?