31 December 2007

New Year's Resolutions and Striving.

I have never kept a single resolution I have made. I think that I fail for several reasons, not the least of which is the fact that I haven't any discipline. Discipline, ugh... the "D" word. I know that discipline is important because the Bible says so.

Prov 12:1 Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge, but he who hates reproof is stupid.
Prov 13:18 Poverty and shame {will come} to him who neglects discipline, but he who regards reproof will be honored.
Prov 15:10 Stern discipline is for him who forsakes the way; He who hates reproof will die.

I know that discipline is important and yet I yield to my flesh and ignore the warnings. Then, in a burst of energy fueled by guilt I will suddenly decide that my undisciplined life must end. At that point I generally set the bar far too high and aim for perfection. I set myself up to fail because there is a payoff in failing. I get to stop when I spoil what could have been a perfect record. That's my pattern; I set a goal, fail to reach it just once and then allow myself to give up. So, why do I make resolutions in the first place? Because it's the right thing to do, isn't it?

Actually, I think it is dangerous to my soul to continue making resolutions I don't keep. Each time I allow myself to give up, I am yielding to my flesh. Yikes! Nothing good ever comes from yielding to the flesh.

Gal 5:19-21
19 Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality,
20 idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions,
21 envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you just as I have forewarned you that those who practice such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.

If you can identify with me, I strongly encourage you to listen to this sermon from John Piper. It's something that I found both encouraging and convicting. As for me, what am I going to resolve to do? I resolve to meditate on this:

Rom 7:18-25
18 For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh; for the wishing is present in me, but the doing of the good {is} not.
19 For the good that I wish, I do not do; but I practice the very evil that I do not wish.
20 But if I am doing the very thing I do not wish, I am no longer the one doing it, but sin which dwells in me.
21 I find then the principle that evil is present in me, the one who wishes to do good.
22 For I joyfully concur with the law of God in the inner man,
23 but I see a different law in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind, and making me a prisoner of the law of sin which is in my members.
24 Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death?
25 Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, on the one hand I myself with my mind am serving the law of God, but on the other, with my flesh the law of sin.

Rom 8:1-2
1 There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.
2 For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death.

25 December 2007

Christmas- my feast of grace with Jesus.

I have had a fabulous Christmas. My family has been sharing cooties and we're none of us feeling 100%- so we are having an alternate day to celebrate, eat scrumptious food and exchange presents. I am spending my day in gratitude and reflection upon my God and Savior. I am truly blessed but then every day you are saved is a good day, despite the way it may feel.

It's been a long time since I have written anything on this blog and that's ok as I have been doing other things that required me to be fully present. I needed to wrestle out some answers and distinguish between my propensity to feel sorry for myself and wallow in depression and those things that should make me miserable. In other words I needed to know if I was having a pity party or if I was miserable because I was in sin. I am not so certain I need to share the details of what makes me miserable but once again, I am glad for the pain because it has caused me to move from the place I was to the place I am now. Refinement isn't comfortable but it is comforting.

Where am I now? I am in a place of great gratitude. I am grateful for the hard things in my life; the miraculous times God has saved me, often from myself and my own desires. I am indebted to Him first of all for paying a debt I can never hope to pay. I don't think about that enough. My drive to be perfect leads me away from the one place I need to stay. I need to be mindful each day that there is nothing I can do, absolutely nothing I can give God to pay my debt to him. No amount of devotion nor perfect obedience from this point forward could tip the scale in my favor. God, knowing exactly who I am and how I would sin, chose to save me.

That's what I need to remember when the discouragement comes and the gloom of depression looms. For reasons I can never determine, nor merit, God chose me. He has the right to do whatever he pleases with me, and yet He is pleased to save me. Remembering that puts everything else in a perspective that is biblically-centered and not me-centered. It is encouraging and I am hopeful that God will keep me in this place long enough that when I forget to think biblically, I feel so parched and destitute that I return sooner than I have before. I want to know that I am starving my soul long before my faith fails me and the world begins to look tantalizing to me. I listened to some great words from John Piper. I searched his resource base for encouragement and I found it in this sermon. It is something worth listening to, reading and contemplating.

Speaking of sermons that are worth listening to, here's another one. David King, a pastor who has done much to shape and mold my character, is worth listening to- not because he is an eloquent speaker and exudes charm... in fact, he doesn't give a rip what you think about him as a speaker. This man cares that what he tells you if faithful to the Word of God and that you understand the peril of your soul. This link will take you one of my favorite blogs to read and where you can listen to the sermon.

And with that, I bid you the joy of Christmas and the only true peace we can have.... peace with God. Not an absence of conflict, because that peace is temporal. My prayer is that you have the knowledge that when you lay our weary head down to sleep, it is well with your soul.