Thursday, April 30, 2009

Such a Haughty

I was faced with the realization last night that I am an exceedingly conceited person. For so long I have looked on others as being less than me. Too many times have I judged another believer solely on the basis of outward actions and have dismissed them as one who is not trying to walk with the Lord. I Corinthians 4.5 says, "Therefore do not go on passing judgment before the time, but wait until the Lord comes who will both bring to light the things hidden in the darkness and disclose the motives of men's hearts; and then each man's praise will come to him from God." Who am I to judge another believer, especially without even talking to him or her, and condemn them in my heart? How totally arrogant of me to hold others to a standard to which I myself do not hold up. The hypocrite is easily blinded to his own hypocrisy.

Not only have I judged other believers without proper evaluation of the situation, but in doing so I have suffered the consequences of missed fellowship with those believers. He who I regarded as simple-minded has humbled me by showing to me the wisdom of his own appraisal of situations in life. He did not tell me that he was wise in his evaluation, but in his words I could see a changed life that was learning and practically applying truths of the Word to areas of life that I have failed miserably in making much progress. What a treasure and a friend that I have wasted while spending time by myself in my ivory tower. In reality it was a dream tower and I have always been down on the same level with everyone else. I Corinthians 4.5 says, "For who regards you as superior? What do you have that you did not receive? And if you did receive it, why do you boast as if you had not received it?" I am one member in the body of Christ: neither greater nor less than any other member. There is no superior but Christ.

God continually reveals to me my own failures and faults and He has been faithful to change my messed up thinking so that I may live by divine wisdom. I had never realized what an extensive thing this whole Christianity deal was. We are truly under an economy of grace that stretches throughout every part of our lives and is applicable to everything. There is no part of my life that God does not desire to be a part of and so He will continually break down my stubborn heart so that He may mold it into a thing of beauty and praise. Praise the LORD all the earth!

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

The Reality of Grace

By Your Side
Why are you striving these days?
Why are you trying to earn grace?
Why are you crying?
Let me lift up your face
Just don’t turn away

Why are you looking for love?
Why are you still searching?
As if I’m not enough?
To where will you go child
Tell me where will you run?
To where will you run?
-Tenth Avenue North

During the break between my two hours of I Corinthians I went into the weight room (which is right next to my classroom), left the lights off, went into the corner and cried. Dan Falls had been talking about the position of the believer as explained in I Corinthians 1.2-9. He talked about how the grace of God is truly unmerited favor. This was when I began to realize not only my complete unworthiness, but also the love and favor of God. I have tried so hard for so long in my life to produce my own spiritual fruit through my own effort because I thought that such was my duty and by my actions I could please God. Years of my life have been wasted in this endless struggle against sin. I have spent hours wondering if I had never truly been saved because I just could not make myself stop sinning. Through this all I was faced with the understanding of how utterly sinful I am to my inmost depths. I knew that God loved me, but I could not comprehend why He would love me or how He could possibly love such a sinner. I apologized to God time and again, rebuking myself for not measuring up to His standard and promising that I would obey Him the next time. You must know that this was all taking place as I was continuing to choose to act in immorality. I wondered how I could continually fall into sin time and time again. I was burdened with a load that I could not bear; in fact, I was crushed to the ground under the burden and could but wriggle my limbs in helplessness. This was my life striving to earn grace.

I have always underestimated the Word of God to change lives because I had never seen an example of such a thing. Now I see God using Scripture to challenge my thinking and bring me to my knees so that He can change me from within and lift me up into His loving embrace. My eyes are beginning to water now as I think of 'His loving embrace'. I had never understood God's love; now I long for more of His love. It as though I have been given a glass of water to cool my hot and weary body when only a short step away is a wonderful ocean ready for me to take a plunge into and be refreshed.

I have lived in such a way that I acted as if God didn't understand or care that I couldn't live perfectly for Him. Now I am beginning to understand the reality of grace in my life. There is absolutely nothing (that means NOTHING) that I can ever do to separate me from the love of God. He CHOOSES to have favor on me because He wishes to do so of His OWN gracious will. There is nothing in me deserving of favor and that is precisely what glorifies God all the more. If there was anything redeeming about myself, then God's grace would not have to be such a great thing. It is for the very reason that I am hopeless without God and need Him that magnifies His name in that HE alone is the one who can truly change me. Day by day He wishes to be the Savior of my life in my choices, my attitude, and in my relationships with others.

I end this post pleading that you who read this and realize that you are in the same position that I found myself in - that of trying to earn grace through my own effort - will contact me in some kind of way so that at the very least I may pass along the knowledge that I have been given and share how God has worked in my life to come to this realization of grace.

"Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ." - I Corinthians 1.3

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

In Regard of You

"But He gives a greater grace. Therefore it says, "God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble."
-James 4:6

A couple days ago I was able to hear from a teacher here (George Walker) at the Missionary Training Center in Missouri share his heart to us and talk to us about different things on the field when he was a missionary in the tribe. He spoke to us concerning topics such as fear, depression, conflict, and some other problems that people go through (focused on his own experiences in the tribe). He simply talked with us at the heart level and was totally honest and real about his life in the tribe. What touched me the most was him telling us the depths of his failure in relationships with other people and the ways in which God used those failures to humble him and grow him to maturity.

In the same way, I have been thinking a lot lately about my own failures in developing relationships with other people. My biggest problem is simply not taking the time to invest in people's lives and only keeping most relationships in fairly shallow water. Sometimes I blame this on the fact that I am too busy with EVERYTHING that I have to do: homework, dorm detail, quiet time, sister, work program, classes, dorm life, more homework, work program leader, youth group, campus life, and whatever else I end up doing throughout the day that needs to be done. Obviously many of these things have importance and need to be taken care of, but I see in my life a growing busyness that is beginning to drown me. I feel as if there is ALWAYS something that I could be doing at any given moment and this feeling has been hindering the amount of time I choose to free up for other people. I fully understand the importance of my studies, but I struggle to place my own interests aside in favor of others. Incessantly my mind is brought back to Philippians 2.4 "Do not merely look out for your own personal interests but also for the interests of others." My life is not about me, but about loving God and loving others; I must choose wisely in order to be able to give of myself to other people.

If it is not busyness that keeps me from building relationships with others, it is failure in some other area of my life. I sometimes find it difficult to start conversations of depth even with people that I trust and with whom I usually feel fairly comfortable. I find myself subconsciously avoiding people because it is hard for me to talk to them. Other times I honestly just don't want to really get to know a person because I don't see anything in them that they can offer me. These all reveal to me the depth of my insecurity and selfishness.

Though I may seem to be focusing overly on the many failures of my life in building relationships with other people, I may also rejoice in the many good friendships that I have built both here and at home. There are indeed those in whom I have complete confidence, can confide anything, and am growing with despite any revealed ineptitude in either them or me. In light of all this I can confidently say that though all men fail me I may rest peacefully and stand securely in Him whom the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form and who now sits at the right hand of God and who became sin for me so that I would not have to pay the penalty for my sin. He truly is the Lover of my soul and in Him I find strength and in Him I regard others as more important than myself.