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Deception

15 Nov
Every good thing is a gift from God.

Every good thing is a gift from God.

Greetings!  I’ve taken a hiatus from spending quality time with my husband/spending any time with others/blogging/writing while I’ve dealt with the learning curve of my new job–curriculum coordinator for elementary school and early childhood at CDS in Costa Rica.  I don’t ever think I’ll be able to say, “Hey!  I’ve got this job down,” but I can say that it is not consuming every waking hour any more.

A few weeks ago I was preparing a teaching for the Women’s Bible Study based on one of Beth Moore’s teachings from her book Breaking Free. It’s a marvelous study and if you haven’t done it, I highly recommend it.  This particular study included some mathematics:

My environment + My experiences = My “truth”

My “truth” + 0 = Incomplete

My “truth” + Satan’s lies = Captivity

God’s truth > My “truth”

At the same time I was reading Brendon Manning’s book, Abba’s Child, about God’s “boundless compassion, infinite patience, unbearable forgiveness, and love that keeps no score of wrongs.”  As I read his book and thought about Beth Moore’s teaching about self-deception, I ran across this quote:

“And so we unwittingly project onto God our own attitudes and feelings toward ourselves.  As Blaise Pascal wrote, ‘God made man in his own image and man returned the compliment.’ Thus, if we feel hateful toward ourselves, we assume that God feels hateful toward us.”

It had never dawned on me before that the same way we can project our feelings upon others, we can project them upon God, but once it finally did, it became obvious that this very fact holds many of us back from a rich love-relationship with God.  So I’m going to add a little math of my own:

God’s truth + My acceptance = Peace

Abba, Father, help us to learn to receive your amazing, enduring love each and every day.

Fear of . . . Not Getting What We Want

3 Jan

How many of you have had the “Christian Marriage Fight”?  You know, the one where the husband says, “You need to submit to me.”  And where the wife says, “You need to love me sacrificially–the way Christ loves the church.  Or at least as much as you love your own body.”  Mike and I had one the first night we were married.  **Drumroll**  I know you’re waiting to hear something momentous.  **More drumroll** OK.  It was about pyjamas.  And that’s all you need to know about that.

I always talk to young couples about this useless matrimonial infighting, but today I found a name for the husband and wife roles in this battle.  One is “self-serving conformity” and the other was “self-serving assertiveness.”  You see, when it comes down to it we both just wanted to please self.  And we used “Biblical” ammunition to try and get it.  Now, that’s kind of disgusting.

What’s the motive here?  Love, grace, mercy, glorifying God?  Nope.  Selfishness–pure and simple.  Now, a couple of people who’ve commented on my posts about self seem to think I’m promoting some sort of works righteousness or self-improvement program.  Actually, what I’m learning and passing on is that we need to learn to be sensitive to the sin of selfishness, ask forgiveness (because we can’t live an other-centered life without God’s provision), and receive the forgiveness and grace that he has for us.  What do you think?

Photo from http://goo.gl/xI38Q

Intimacy – Self-Sufficiency = Fearlessness

1 Dec

“What makes humility so desirable is the marvelous thing it does to us; it creates in us a capacity for the closest possible intimacy with God” ~ Monica Baldwin

I’m convinced that it is intimacy with God and dependence on God that creates the fearless life.

“When our spirituality is characterized by self-sufficiency rather than God-sufficiency, we rarely feel the need to depend on God, and our souls are not consumed with a passionate desire for Him.  Instead we are prone to long for God only in times of impending need or when earthly things have proven to be unrewarding.  We long for Him in the tough times instead of cultivating a daily, ongoing, deepening relationship to Him as the only genuine source of true satisfaction.  He is there in case we might need Him, not because we do need Him.  He functions as the divine “911” of our lives.  When life cruises on a level plain, though we might never admit it, we have the sense that we don’t need God.  Not really.” ~ Radical Reliance by Joseph M. Stowell

I got a letter from a friend the other day.  In it, she wrote that no longer was detailing her illness to her friends, as she was sure they were tired of it.  She now is detailing her illness to God as he can take it.  Just talking to Him.  She’s not self-sufficiently dealing with her illness, she’s developing intimacy with God.  Lovely.

We’re speaking for Christ himself now: Become friends with God; he’s already a friend with you. 2 Cor. 5:20 Message

Fear of Not Changing: The Sequel.

17 Sep

The struggles with self can make the life of total dependence upon Christ seem oh-so-far away

Certainly, I know–and I would imagine that you do too–the wonders of what Christ accomplished for us on the cross.  We HAVE BEEN CRUCIFIED.  It’s happened and we need to accept it.  That is my position.  However . . . .if we are honest, we know that we do not live the crucified life totally (to say the least).

I think that complacency is the greatest threat to lack of growth.  I think it is okay to be bothered by the dissonance between position and practice.  Like the sand that bothers the oyster into producing a pearl, the pokings of the self in our lives (hopefully) move us to turn toward Christ and die to self.

. . . and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the flesh,  I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me. Gal. 2:20 HCSB

Why do we have these imperfections?  “Why?  For this reason:  because our hearts, perhaps, have not been fully prepared by a complete discovery of sin.  There may be pride, or self-consciousness, or forwardness (offensive boldness or assertiveness), or other qualities of this nature which we have never noticed.  We have limited the work of the Holy Spirit.  When we squarely face these imperfections, these sins in our lives, we can turn to Christ, knowing the power of His death, and continually say, ‘Lord Jesus, let the power of Thy death work through, let it penetrate my whole being'”.  (Paraphrased from Andrew Murray, my new favorite Christian author.)

Entering into Rest

12 Sep

People wonder, when they hear so many sermons about faith, and such earnest pleading to believe, and ask why it is they cannot believe.

There is just one answer:  It is self.  Self is working; is trying; is struggling, and self must fail.  But when you come to the end of self and can only cry, “Lord, help me! Lord help me!”–then the deliverance is nigh; believe that.  God will bring you in to that rest. ~ Andrew Murray

When I was young, I had a record player and one record:  “The Lion Sleeps Tonight.”  My parents must have gone crazy as I played that record over and over and over again, tunelessly singing along.  Some of you may be having the same reaction to all these posts on self.  But I have to say that I feel the same way now as I did then, that I have stumbled across something new and marvelous.

THEREFORE, WHILE the promise of entering His rest still holds and is offered [today], let us be afraid [to distrust it], lest any of you should think he has come too late and has come short of [reaching] it. Hebrews 4:1 (Amplified)

One Task Beyond . . .

10 Sep

Last night I was cooking a GREAT dinner, but lo and behold my multi-tasking went one task beyond my actual ability to multi-task.

Let me paint the picture:  I’ve been trying to recreate my favorite dish from Carabba’s, which is Chicken Bryan, for a year.  Some attempts had a measure of success and others not so much.  I tried using the Carabba’s recipe which you might think would be a sure thing.  No deal.  I’ve gradually decided on a chicken recipe from my favorite Italian cookbook for the chicken portion, a new goat cheese that melts well and is not grainy that my husband found, home-dried cherry tomatoes, and a sauce from Julia Child that is reduced vinegar with butter beaten in.  We think the combination even surpasses Carabba’s recipe.

But when I cooked last night I was reducing the vinegar while creating a fruit salad while keeping a watchful eye on the melting goat cheese while listening to a phone conversation Mike was having upstairs on Skype.  Like I said, just one task beyond my multi-tasking ability.  Suddenly my vinegar reduced to a charred, smoking mess in the saucepan.

It was an easy fix as I could start over the the vinegar would reduce in minutes.  But what I realized is that is how I approach life in my human strength.  I multi-task until there is some sort of meltdown and THEN ask for God’s help.

God save me from operating in my own strength!

In God’s Light I See MySELF Clearly

2 Sep

I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me. Galatians 2:20 (NASB)

You may be rolling your eyes and saying, “Boy, is Sue ever stuck on THIS topic.  She must REALLY need this.”  You’re absolutely right.  I am stuck and I do need this.  I only hope that Andrew Murray’s teachings have ministered to you as they have to me.  I know that I live in my “self” much of the time and yearn to live with Christ’s life flowing through me in a new way.

“We are called upon to live the life of Christ, and Christ comes to live His life in us, but one thing must first take place; we must learn to hate this self and to deny it.

Let us humble ourselves at the thought of what this self has done to us and how it has dishonored jesus; and let us pray fervently: ‘Lord, by Thy light discover this self; we beseech Thee to discover it to us.  Open our eyes, that we may see what it has done, and that it is the only hindrance that has been keeping us back.’

Let us pray that fervently, and then let us wait upon God until we get away from all our religious exercises, and from all our religious experience, and from all our blessings, until we get close to God, with this one prayer:  ‘Lord God, self changed an archangel into a devil, and self ruined my first parents, and brought them out of Paradise into darkness and misery, and self has been the ruin of my life and the cause of every failure; oh, discover it to me.’

And then comes the blessed exchange, that a man is made willing and able to say: ‘Another will live the life for me, another will live with me, another will do all for me.'” ~ The Master’s Indwelling