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Showing posts from August, 2008

My Dad

I’m reading through The Wounded Heart by Dan Allender and making my way through the accompanying workbook. Today’s questions made me think of my dad. He died when I was nine and we didn’t live with him for the last year and a half of his life so my memories of him are limited.

My first solid memories of life are when we lived in Starbuck with my dad’s parents. We lived across the river from the main part of town, in the middle of a bay (street, not body of water) so that we could drive into the yard on one side and exit from the other. The property and house seemed enormous to me as a preschooler, though now, as an adult, I can see neither are all that large and in fact, the house is quite small.

The yard was filled with large oak trees, cars in various states of disrepair, unused lumber and a gazillion other things set aside because they might be needed. Well, not quite full. Grandma ruled the front yard and her flower garden there. Our only reason to be in the front was to use …

Suffering Temptation II

A week ago I wrote “Suffering Temptation,” and how not giving in to temptation produces suffering—something that even Jesus went through. The very next day, God gave me a very vivid example of that—and helped me see something in a way I hadn’t before.

Tom and I were driving home from a trip through Saskatchewan. The day promised to be long and, indeed, it took us 12 ½ hours to get home. I don’t know what triggered it but at some point near the beginning of the trip I began to think about Pearl. They weren’t nice, soft, cozy thoughts of simply being with her but very sexual and erotic.

Every temptation is a temptation because there is something about what is being offered that is wanted, desired, hungered for, and I wanted so much to give into these thoughts, soaking them into me and taking pleasure in her presence in my mind. And yet, my automatic response was to call out, in my mind, “Jesus!”

I so much want him more than any pleasure gained from Pearl, from anyone else or even from my t…

Anxieties of Life

“Be careful, or your hearts will be weighed down with dissipation, drunkenness and the anxieties of life, and that day will close on you unexpectedly like a trap.” Luke 21:34 NIVWhat day? The day that the heavenly bodies will be shaken; the day we see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory; the day of our redemption; the day the kingdom of God arrives (v. 26, 27, 28, 31).

That day will come unexpectedly, trapping us in the way we have been living. There will be no time or chance to change at that point. How we’re living then will be what matters. It will not come unexpectedly to everyone but only to those whose hearts have been weighed down with dissipation, drunkenness and the anxieties of life.

This puts me in mind of a similar passage in Matthew, where Jesus gives an illustration of what he means:
"Who then is the faithful and wise servant, whom the master has put in charge of the servants in his household to give them their food at the proper time? It will b…

Belief = Obedience

And to whom did God swear that they would never enter his rest if not to those who disobeyed? So we see that they were not able to enter, because of their unbelief. Hebrews 3:18, 19 NIVIt seems from this passage that obedience and belief are linked. Mental assent isn’t enough. If you believe, you will obey; if you don’t obey, you don’t really believe. What does this say about the many people who call themselves Christian and believe they are saved but who live lives no different from non-Christians? Can I say I believe if I am not obeying? Obeying what? And what if I obey all but one or two things? What does that say about my belief? Does the degree to which I obey demonstrate the degree to which I believe?

But then, what does one do with this: “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved”? What degree of belief is Paul talking about? Am I saved if I give mental assent but do not obey? James says, “You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons belie…

Suffering Temptation

Because he himself [Jesus] suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted. Hebrews 2:18 NIVTemptation results in suffering when we don’t give in to it. Why? I am tempted when something forbidden seems to be very attractive and desirable to me; when it appears to meet my legitimate needs. When I say no to temptation, I face the possibility that my need won’t be met and that I am losing out on pleasure I would really like to have. Doing without produces pain which leads to suffering.

An extreme example of this can be seen from the martyrs. Their temptation was to avoid torture and/or death. All they had to do was renounce Jesus in some form or another. When they refused to give in to the temptation, their suffering was extreme. But what about the sorts of temptations we have here in North America?

Do I suffer when I refuse to berate the person who has just done something really dumb and annoying? It may not be as painful as being burned in a fire …

Performance Orientation

Last summer I bought more books than many people own. Let me loose in a bookstore with the power to buy and I can be unstoppable. I actually read the books I buy and currently I'm reading The Transformation of the Inner Man by John and Paula Sanford. I bought it after reading another by this couple that was really very good (can’t remember the title of that one and I’m not at home to check). I’m stuck on chapter three because I find it so relevant to who I am (but don't want to be).

Performance orientation is about motivation behind the good things we do. Not all who do good things are doing it from a performance orientation but those of us who have this trait do not base their lives on “restful acceptance and consequent confidence but constant anxiety, fear, and striving.”* It’s the idea that “If I don’t do right, I won’t be loved”; of learning “to fish for love, every action a lure”; “You will not be loved unless you can deserve it.” Performance oriented people
...requi…

Godly Life Persecuted

“Be on your guard against men; they will hand you over to the local councils and flog you in their synagogues. On my account you will be brought before governors and kings as witnesses to them and to the Gentiles.... Do not be afraid of them.... Do no suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword.” Matthew 10:17, 26, 34 NIV

...everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted. 2 Timothy 3:12 NIVWhat is there about a godly life that results in persecution? If I’m not persecuted, does it mean my life isn’t as godly as it should be? Since Christians in North America are not persecuted, does that mean our idea of godliness is warped by our culture and we’re simply fooling ourselves when we believe we are being faithful to God? Why is it that Christianity is growing like wildfire in places like Africa and China but not in North America (or Europe, for that matter)? What do they have that we don’t? Believers …

Gospel? Or No Gospel?

I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you by the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel—which is really no gospel at all. Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the gospel of Christ. Galatians 1:6, 7 NIV

This matter arose because some false brothers had infiltrated our ranks to spy on the freedom we have in Christ Jesus and to make us slaves. Galatians 2:4 NIVRecently I wrote elsewhere that God isn’t against the differences of understanding amongst Christians—differences that give rise to a variety of denominations. People who find wrong teaching in every group they see really bothers me. But how would I respond if the same false gospel Paul is talking about to the Galatians showed up in a church near me or in my own church? What then? Would I recognize it as false? Or would I say it’s simply a different stripe of Christian that’s entitled to their interpretation of the gospel.

Basically the f…

Travelling

I'm accompanying my husband on a business road trip the next five days. He has to be on the first job site by 3:00 tomorrow afternoon and google maps says it takes over 8 1/2 hours to get there without stops. I set the alarm for 4:00 a.m. and turned the light out tonight at 10:00 after taking sleeping meds. I can't sleep. I got up after an hour. It's now midnight. Oh joy! (And Tom has just now gone to bed himself.) If you read this in time, please pray for our safety on the highway.

As for blog posts while we're gone, I don't know what kind of internet access we'll have, since we'll be in "Small Town," Saskatchewan. If I can, I will.

The Roaring Lion

Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings. 1 Peter 5:8, 9 NIVI was loaned a book from an avid reader who knows my tastes quite well. The historical novel is extremely well-written and focuses on the latter end of the Roman occupation of Britain--a favourite time of mine. The protagonist is a Roman officer who, upon being severely wounded, returns to the blacksmithing his well-born grandfather taught him. When he learns that his life is being sought by his best friend’s worst enemy, he moves, incognito, to the colony his friend is starting as a way to deal with the eventual departure of law, order and the Pax Romana. The story is exciting, informative and gripping.

There’s just one problem. The author’s keen descriptive abilities include a couple of chapters of vivid sex…

Sensitivity vs. Sensuality

This morning I read “Soul: The Essence, Existence and Expression: Fleshly Presentation of the Soul” in “Biblical Psychology” in The Complete Works of Oswald Chambers pages 157-161. He argues that the disposition of the soul affects the body in physical, observable ways. At the end of the chapter he asks:
If we have come into experimental [experiential] touch with the grace of God and have received His Spirit, are we working it out? Is every organ of our body enslaved to the new disposition? or are we using our eyes for what we want to see, and our bodies for our right to ourselves?...God grant that we may determine to work out through our bodies the life which Jesus Christ has put into us by His Spirit.I began to check out the Scriptural passages he used to support his thesis and my eyes locked onto a verse he did not refer to (I include the preceding two verses to supply context):
So I tell you this, and insist on it in the Lord, that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in t…

Spirit, Soul and Body

I’m having trouble with part of Chambers’ discussion about the soul. First he says that both men and animals have souls but the Bible verses he uses to support that don’t use the word “soul.” In fact, Genesis 2:7 says that God breathed into man and he became a living soul. God did not breathe into animals. It is God's breath in us (his Spirit in us--the Hebrew for "breath" and "spirit" is the same?) that makes us a soul. Body + Spirit = Soul. We are souls. We became souls.

Chambers says that the “soul is the holder of spirit and body together.” Using 1 Corinthians 2:11 (“For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the man’s spirit within him? In the same way no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God.”), he distinguishes between fallen (sensual) man and spiritual man.

The spirit in a fallen or sensual man is his mind, which has a vast capacity for God, to Whom, however, he is dead, and the spirit of a fallen man is imprisoned in h…

The Unlikely Route to Joy

One of my reasons for this blog is to be ruthlessly transparent. I could keep many of the things I share here to myself but I have discovered that as I share my difficulties, struggles and inadequacies as well as God’s responses, others are blessed. Just because I’ve written a book about what God has done in my life doesn’t mean he’s finished with me. There is still so much darkness and self-fullness in me.

We all are full of self and darkness, wrestling with our woundedness, difficulties, struggles and inadequacies and often it feels like we’re alone—that everyone else has it “all together”; but that is a lie. “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” We have all been sinned against as well and both our sin and the sins of others against us leave us gasping for breath, wondering if we will ever be whole.

In addition to my daily reading from The Complete Works of Oswald Chambers, I am reading The Wounded Heart: Hope for Adult Victims of Childhood Sexual Abuse by Da…

Withering Springs

Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. (John 15:4 NIV)

All my springs are in Thee. (Psalm 87:7 KJV)

God will wither up every other spring you have. He will wither up your natural virtues, He will break up confidence in your natural powers, He will wither up your confidence in brain and spirit and body, until you learn by practical experience that you have no right to draw your life from any source other than the tremendous reservoir of the resurrection life of Jesus Christ. –Oswald Chambers*It is a hard lesson to learn that I “have no right to draw [my] life from any source other than...[from] Jesus Christ.” Intellectually, I’ve known it all my life, but experientially? I keep discovering other springs in my life on which I am depending: My walls of self-protection; the fantasy life I used to have, which keeps trying to spring up again; approval from others and more.

When …

Slander against God

Remember, Satan is an awful being, he is able to deceive us on the right hand and on the left, and the first beginnings of his deceptions are along the lines of self-pity. Self-pity, self-conceit, and self-sympathy will make us accept slanders against God. –Oswald ChambersThis morning I read about “Man’s Unmaking” in “Biblical Psychology” in The Complete Works of Oswald Chambers (from whence comes the above quote—page 144). Chambers quotes liberally from the Bible but I find many of his conclusions to be a stretch. It all makes sense, but I’m not convinced the Bible supports all he says. To be fair, it doesn’t contradict it either.

However, the quote above hit me quite powerfully. I have lived in self-pity and self-sympathy for most of my life. I thought it justified—people were unfair, unjust, cruel—and I was the helpless victim unable to change her circumstances; the noble martyr who endured her pain and soldiered on for God in spite of it all. How arrogant—though it is only in the l…

Darkness, Despair, Denial

Near the beginning of 2002, a new friend of mine, who has expertise in this area, suggested I read The Wounded Heart: Hope for Adult Victims of Childhood Sexual Abuse by Dan Allender and use the accompanying workbook. Even if you were never sexually abused as a child, she said, this book could help you with some of the issues you’re dealing with. This month I have restarted the workbook for the fourth time with the intention that this time I will get to the end.

Today I completed chapter two. I have had many of the “secondary symptoms” listed such as depression, addictions and compulsions (sexual, eating, emotional dependence on others and more), self-esteem, self-destructiveness and physical symptoms that could point to “the stress of blocking memories and emotional pain.”

I can see progress. My depression has lifted significantly in the last two months and at least some of my addictions and compulsions are under control—thanks to God’s work in my life. But there is much yet that…

How DARE They?

I'm angry. Today the following article was run in the Winnipeg Free Press: "Church set to protest at funeral Says beheading of city man God's way of punishing us." An American church from Topeka, Kansas is coming to Winnipeg to tell us that "The curse of God was put upon [Canada] when that young man's head was cut off." They are claiming that "the murder of Tim McLean was God's response to Canadian policies that allow homosexuality, abortion and adultery." How DARE they? They are promoting an already popular idea in Canada that Christians promote hate through intolerant attitudes. The damage this church will do is incalculable. And how DARE they add grief to a family that has already suffered more than any family should?

Earth BECAME Formless, Empty and Dark?

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters. Genesis 1:1, 2 NIV
As I continue making my way through The Complete Works of Oswald Chambers, I begin a new book therein: “Biblical Psychology: A Series of Preliminary Studies,” which was first a series of lectures Chambers gave as principal and teacher of the Bible Training College in London in 1911.

The first chapter focuses primarily on the first two verses of Genesis, though he refers to other passages in both the Old and New Testaments. As I read this chapter, I wondered if he was inferring much more than was intended. Then I opened my NIV Bible and I found an interesting footnote: “Now the earth was formless and empty...,” could also be translated as “Now the earth became formless and empty....” Interesting difference. It became something? Before creation? It wasn’t always formless and …

Love your Neighbour and Love One Another

“Love your neighbour as yourself.” Matthew 22:39 NIV“A new command I give you: love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. All men will know that you are my disciples if you love one another.” John 13:34, 35 NIV Are these two commands the same or different? When Jesus defined “neighbour,” he called a Samaritan a neighbour of the Jews, even though Samaratins and Jews hated each other. They did have common roots, however. Jesus didn’t, for example, us the example of a Greek or Roman. The command to love one another is clearly a command to love our brothers and sisters in Christ as Jesus loved us. Jesus didn’t say, “All men will know that you are my disciples if you love them,” but “if you love one another.” Is “neighbour” the same as “one another”? Except that there is no way the Jews saw the Samaritans as their brothers and sisters.

Could it be that the second greatest command is to love everyone as ourselves but to “love one another as I have loved you,” is mor…

"As I Have Loved You"

“Love your neighbour as yourself.” Matthew 22:39 NIV

“A new command I give you: love one another.
As I have loved you, so you must love one another. All men will know that you are my disciples if you love one another.” John 13:34, 35 NIV emphasis addedLove your neighbour as yourself. Love one another as I [Jesus] have loved you. “As I have loved you.” How has Jesus loved me? He loved me so much that he gave up his life for me. How well do I love those around me? Those who live in the same house as me? Those who live in the area immediately surrounding my house? Those I go to church with? Those I encounter throughout the city as I live my life? Do I love them as Jesus loved me?

Lord Jesus, please help me love as you love.

Thinking about Atonement

“All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men's sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ's ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ's behalf: Be reconciled to God. God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” 2 Corinthians 5:18-21 NIVIt seems that in the days of Oswald Chambers, about 90 years ago, already New Age thoughts we being accepted, for Chambers seems to spend a fair bit of time arguing against them. We are not gods and we are not naturally one with God. In our natural state, we are at enmity with God. We are opposed to him in defiance and rebellion. This is sin—something we are all born into. God does want oneness with us—just as he and Jesus are one—but that …

Thinking about Sin

“...each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.” James 1:14, 15 NIV

Oswald Chambers says, “According to the Bible, sin is doing without God. Sin is not wrong doing, it is wrong being, deliberate and emphatic independence of God....It is...’my claim to my right to myself.’”

This makes a lot of sense to me, though it is not the primary way I’ve thought of sin, nor has it been for most people, I suspect. But this explains why David could be called “a man after God’s own heart” despite all the wrong things he did. His disposition was one of dependence on God.

“...sin in its final analysis is not a defect but a defiance.” This is why the key to speaking to unbelievers is to introduce them to Jesus not to pounce on all their wrong behaviours. If Christianity is about relationship with God, then it makes perfect sense that sin is distance fr…

Thinking about Jesus Christ

“All things have been committed to me by my Father. No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.” Matthew 11:27 NIV

The last section of “Biblical Ethics” in The Complete Works of Oswald Chambers is a series of articles, each beginning with “How to Think about....” My reading today is the second of the series: “How to Think about the Lord Jesus Christ.” Here are some of the things Chambers has to say:


He is the only medium God has for revealing Himself.He became Incarnate for the great purpose of lifting the human race back into communion with God....Living much in the presence of Jesus, coming in contact with His mind, simplifies life to a believer, and makes him an unflurried sceptic of everything that is not true to the nature of God.*Interestingly, one of the chief topics of talks by Dan Rutherford at Star Lake this summer was about knowing the truth of who Jesus is. He used 1 John (the whole book)…