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05/20/16

Permalink 08:29:55 am, Step(s): 06 Repentance, 157 words   English (US)

Yielded to His Power

"What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein? Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection: Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin. For he that is dead is freed from sin." (Romans 6:1-7 )

So, I have to ask myself, "Is my 'old man' crucified with Christ?" Repentance calls us to full consecration to God and His leading because "half measures availed us nothing" (Alcoholics Anonymous p. 59). Andrew Murray described this commitment as the key to a Spirit-filled life, when he said, "Being filled with the Holy Spirit is simply this -- having my whole nature yielded to His power. When the whole soul is yielded to the Holy Spirit, God Himself will fill it." (Absolute Surrender p. 12)

Isn't it time "That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; And be renewed in the spirit of your mind; And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness." (Ephesians 4:22-24 ). Of course, to let go of those old dependencies is easier said than done. But, as I consider the way God has stepped in to help me whenever I surrender to Him in the moment of temptation, I continue to move forward in faith, trusting that He will never ask me to do anything that He will not provide a way for me to accomplish. (1 Cor 10:13 )

"Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character." (Step 6)

02/12/16

Permalink 08:45:32 am, Step(s): 06 Repentance, 285 words   English (US)

Entirely Ready

In this passage, it appears to me that David is entirely ready for God to remove his character defects:

I weep with sorrow; encourage me by your word.
Keep me from lying to myself;
give me the privilege of knowing your instructions.
I have chosen to be faithful; I have determined to live by your regulations.
I cling to your laws. Lord, don’t let me be put to shame!
I will pursue your commands, for you expand my understanding.
Teach me your decrees, O Lord; I will keep them to the end.
Give me understanding and I will obey your instructions;
I will put them into practice with all my heart.
Make me walk along the path of your commands,
for that is where my happiness is found.
Give me an eagerness for your laws rather than a love for money!
Turn my eyes from worthless things, and give me life through your word.
Reassure me of your promise, made to those who fear you.
Help me abandon my shameful ways; for your regulations are good.
I long to obey your commandments! Renew my life with your goodness.
(Ps 119:28-40 )

Now, I must ask myself, "Am I as entirely ready for God's intervention in my life, as David seems to be?" Or, am I still clinging to some of my old ways? Am I ready for ABSOLUTE SURRENDER to God, so that I may live in ABSOLUTE PEACE and in the confidence of believing that He would never lead me in a way that I would not choose, if I knew what He knows? "...Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief." (Mark 9:24 ) How about you? Can you identify with David? Are you entirely ready...?

"Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character." (Step 6)

12/04/15

Permalink 08:15:22 am, Step(s): 06 Repentance, 208 words   English (US)

He will lift you up!

For me, it's relatively easy to ask God to remove my defects of character. But to actually let go of these things so He CAN take them, now that's a whole different matter.

"Repentance includes sorrow for sin and a turning away from it.
We shall not renounce sin unless we see its sinfulness;
until we turn away from it in heart,
there will be no real change in the life." (Steps to Christ, 23)

I do sorrow for my sins and I want to change, but it is hard to let go of the old, established ways. In my experience and observation, God seldom removes these difficulties without human co-operation. More on the "the divine principle of co-operation". "As the will of man co-operates with the will of God, it becomes omnipotent." (Christ's Object Lessons, 333). This is the only lasting way that I have found to successfully let go of my weaknesses so that God can take them.

"It is the virtue that goes forth from Christ,
that leads to genuine repentance.". (Steps to Christ, 26)

"Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up" (James 4:10 ). "Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord" (Romans 6:11 ).

"Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character." (Step 6)

08/28/15

Permalink 08:44:23 am, Step(s): 06 Repentance, 355 words   English (US)

Pure Gold

Jesus says, "I advise you to buy gold from me—gold that has been purified by fire. Then you will be rich. Also buy white garments from me so you will not be shamed by your nakedness, and ointment for your eyes so you will be able to see." (Revelation 3:18 )

When I ask myself, "Do I want God to remove my defects of character?", my first thought is, "Of course I do! Just take them away, Lord!" But, as I continue to ponder Rev 3:18, I realize that there will be pain involved in this transformation of my character. Just as gold is purified with fire, so my character is tried and purified with the fire of trials and affliction. Is that really what I want?!

This makes character transformation harder than it first appears. But wait... is it really...? In holding on to my defects, I sacrifice "the peace of God, which passeth all understanding" (Philippians 4:7 ), for temporary pleasure. But, in choosing to let God work in whatever way is best for me (Philippians 2:13 ), I "buy" my eternal happiness by being "tried in the fire" of trials now.

Since the beginning of my recovery (1994), I have many times been through the "fire", and I can testify to you today that the pain is truly worth the gain :-) God is good! "The Lord... is being patient for your sake. He does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants everyone to repent." (2 Peter 3:9 ).

The apostle Paul reminds us too, that when the going gets real hard, God carries us: "The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure." (1 Corinthians 10:13 ).

I don't know about you, but I want a character of pure gold, and if that means sacrificing current pleasure for an infinitely bright future, then so be it. Lord, I come to the foot of the cross, asking that your will may be done in my life today...

"For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure." (Philippians 2:13 )

"Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character." (Step 6)

08/21/15

Permalink 09:17:58 am, Step(s): 04 Introspection, 05 Confession, 06 Repentance, 949 words   English (US)

The Root Canal

Over a period of several weeks, I began to feel more and more pain in one my teeth. Eventually, the pain spread to one whole side of my head. All of this pain, I found out later, was caused by some damaged tissue in one of the three roots of one of my molars. It was such a small part of my body, but it caused me a great deal of pain.

Now, what do you think would have happened if I had chosen to only medicate the pain, using stronger and stronger pain reliever so I wouldn't feel the pain, but never getting the cause of the problem fixed? I suspect that infection would spread and I would lose that tooth. Eventually it may even become systemic, leading to my death.

For many years, I medicated my emotional pain with addictions, stuffing my feelings deeper and deeper, never fixing the cause of the problem. It was a dreadful downward spiral with the addictive acting-out, due to the pain, leading to temporary relief, leading to even greater pain because I acted out. The infection was becoming systemic and I was dying.

But shortly after I began to learn to cooperate with God, surrendering to His will, He brought me to a place of looking inward, beyond the pain to the root causes of my pain. With my permission, it was like He opened a peep hole in the top of my "tooth" so that I could begin to see the damage inside. As I recognized my issues, I confessed my sins (1 John 1:9 ), became willing to have God dig that mess out of my "tooth", and asked Him to perform a root canal on my life. What a relief it was to get that damaged "tissue" out of that "tooth".

The Heavenly surgeon gives us this promise: "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." (Ezekiel 36:26 )

The surgery brought its own pain. It was hard to let go of a piece of my body, in the case of the physical root canal. And, it was hard to let go of a piece of who I am, in the case of the spiritual root canal. But I can tell you, without hesitation, that in both cases, the pain was definitely worth the gain!

Now, let's look a little deeper into that feeling of pain. Was the pain of my toothache bad, or evil? No. Without that pain, I would have never known I had a problem, until it led to even more serious problems, right? That pain was really a blessing to me, in that it told me that there was a problem that I needed to deal with -- kind of like a fire alarm.

What about emotional pain? Is it really any different? Can there be something evil about the way I feel? Or, are my feelings also like a fire alarm, signaling me that there are some deeper issues that I need Divine help in rooting out. I've heard that when we "stuff" our feelings over a long period of time, we are likely to contract one or more of quite a long list of physical ailments, including Alzheimer's disease (of course there are other causes too). I wouldn't be surprised if it were true.

I've been thinking a lot about the connection between feelings and temptation. I once had a pastor friend who told me that, when I am tempted, it's because I have already sinned. Of course, the Bible is pretty clear that this is not true: "For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin." (Hebrews 4:15 ). But, I'm wondering if we might be saying the same thing as this pastor when we think that of our feelings are sometimes evil.

Let me try to explain what I'm thinking, by example. Let's say that I'm feeling attracted to someone other than my wife. Is that feeling evil? Would it be a sin for me to be attracted to another woman? Or, does it just lead to temptation? It seems to me, that when temptation comes, I have a choice to make as to what I am going to do with that feeling/temptation. If I choose to lust after her, certainly it is a sin, because Jesus said, "... anyone who even looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart" (Matthew 5:28 ). Another choice I could make is to deny that feeling -- pretend it doesn't exist -- stuff it. But wait... that would be like ignoring the pain in my tooth. That can't be good! A third choice I could make would be to admit to myself, to God, and possibly to a trusted friend (James 5:16 ) that I'm having this feeling. Then, as I surrender my will to God's, asking Him, "... Lord, what would you have me to do?" (Acts 9:6 ), He gives me the victory over my temptation -- without sin.

Keeping in mind that anger is a feeling, I wonder if the apostle Paul had this principle in mind when he said, "Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath:" (Ephesians 4:26 )? Maybe...

I believe that my feelings are the result of my past experiences and choices (both good and bad). I can't change my current feelings, because I can't change my past. However, as I deal appropriately with those feelings, surrendering my thoughts, feelings, and actions to God, I can change (by the grace and power of God) my future feelings. I praise God for that! He is Awesome!

Some may ask, "Why is this important?" It is my belief that the forces of evil will use everything they can to shame us for what we've been tempted by, even though it was them who tempted us! Understanding the difference between feelings, temptation, and sin will give satan one less foot-hold into our lives.

"Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves." (Step 4)

"Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs." (Step 5)

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