So far, this has been a horrible story to tell. So much pain, struggle, shame and death. Much like Christ on the cross. However, my story doesn't stop there. I experienced the life and resurrection fulfilled by Christ and promised to all believers in the Word. When it came time to make the decision, God gave me the strength to choose Him. I can never remember being in such a place of temptation and in that place being able to take into account all of the spiritual factors and acknowledge the correct decision with a level-headed demeanor. Instead of making a rash decision and succumbing to the temptation of the moment, I realized this is a lifestyle decision I am making, a lifestyle of denying the Word, which is denying Christ my Savior. Though I know I will continue to struggle, I am at a place where I can begin to climb that mountain to get out of the valley. Only this time, when I begin to slip I can grasp onto the solid rock that is the proclamation of Jesus Christ as the son of the Living God (Matthew 16:16-18) and onto the trees of faith that are deeply rooted within the good soil. I desire to see the crop that is promised in the word of thirty-fold, sixty-fold, even one hundred-fold. There is an amount of death and sacrifice that must come for this to happen. I must take up my cross daily, deny myself, and follow Christ. I must crucify my sinful nature and desires in order to experience true life and resurrection. It won't be easy and would appreciate all the prayer I can get, but I have hope and joy in the trial and struggle. By the blood of the Christ nothing can separate me from my Father God. I can be more than a conqueror, as Paul speaks of in Romans 8:35-39. God is good.
Saturday, October 23, 2010
I have been struggling with certain sins in my life for a while now. It has been a situation of the occasional slip-up that gradually gets worse and worse each slip-up. A few days ago, the slip-up turned into a full-fledged plummet. It was very scary to see myself completely lose control in a situation and not care about it in the moment. I liken it to climbing a rocky trail in the mountains, with each slip-up being myself stepping on a patch of loose gravel or a slick rock and losing a little bit of ground, but catching myself on surrounding trees or rocks so as not to fall too far back. The plummet, however, came from grabbing onto a tree that wasn't deeply rooted in the soil, so the roots were pulled up and caused me to free-fall, nearly reaching the bottom. The soil in my own life had turned from good soil to thorny, weed-ridden soil that was choking me to death. I was convicted after the fact, but the next day and the day after that I also fell into the same sin, this time with an expectancy of how far I was going to fall. The Holy Spirit was crying out to me all of the depravity in me, but the human, fleshly desires in my raged even louder. So far, all this has been about struggle and failure. Death and hopelessness reigned. Earlier today, I was at a point where I was struggling with a decision to choose death over life. I was struggling to decide whether I wanted the sin to evolve from a struggle I want freedom from to a lifestyle I would live in. My mindset was so screwed up and it scared me to death. I felt like Paul in the first part of Romans 7:24 "What a wretched man I am!" In my mind, I acknowledged the place I was at and knew the decision that had to be made. If I knowingly chose death, I could no longer sit in a place of feeling honest conviction and the want for repentance. By knowingly acting in disobedience to God and denying the urges of the Holy Spirit that dwells within, I would have been choosing to deny everything that I am.
Wednesday, October 6, 2010
Number one evidence of grace over the last couple weeks. God loves me enough to push me and stretch me in ways that I never thought possible. God loves me enough to put challenges in my life that I am completely helpless to overcome so that I have to come back to Him. God loves me enough to completely overwhelm me with burdens and trials, only so I can turn around and give them right back to Him. God loves me enough to allow me to take up His yoke and His burden and rest in Him (Matthew 11:28-30). Though I am completely unworthy of being challenged by God and having my faith stretched and matured, God somehow has found me worthy. I realize that it is nothing of my own doing that brings about this work, but Christ in me. However, I empathize with Paul in the highest degree. The things I do I don't want to do, but the things I want to do I don't do. What a wretched man I am? Who could possibly rescue me from this body of death? Jesus (Romans 7:15-25). No matter what else is going on in my life, whether I am in a place of promised land blessing or desert struggle, it all comes back to Jesus. Jesus and His sacrifice are the manifestation of the greatest Love of all. Love from the One who IS Love. The holy, almighty, perfect, majestic, powerful God of the universe loves me and calls me His son. He has called me to share the inheritance of Christ (Romans 8:17). We are fortunate and blessed enough to share in Christ's sufferings, so that somehow we can share in his eternal glory and life (Philippians 3:10-11) (Romans 6:4-11). If that isn't evidence of grace, I don't know what is.
By the way, anyone reading this blog should read Phillip Fletcher's blog. Phillip is my pastor at Church in Oakwood and always has amazing and honest insight on the Christian life. You will get a blessing out of it.