Roman 12:1-2

"Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect." Romans 12:1-2

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Diligence: a Thought from Evans' Book

Several days ago, I meditated here on the lack of diligence in my life and how necessary it is to overcome my addiction.  Without diligence, little actions and attitudes that seem irrelevant slowly lead me to a place where stepping into my addictive behavior is not such a big jump.

Today, reading Deborah Evans' book, I came upon a quote from a third century bishop.  His name was Nonnos, and he said, "We, the mindless ones, indifferently dismiss, without regard, the soul, instead of preferring the immortal and living God.  Moreover, we prefer what is vain and perishable, thus insulting and disdaining our dignity.  Whereupon, we suffer loss of that wonderful and ineffable delight of perpetual blessedness."

The pleasures that this world provides, whether they be sinful addictions or hours of seemingly innocuous television viewing, disregard the soul.  They are vain and perishable.  That is not what I was created for.  What is the chief end of man? To glorify God and enjoy Him forever.

I could say I am the only one that loses, when I prefer the vain and perishable.  But the story of Nonnos that Evans relates in her book is in reference to an actress/prostitute in her sedan chair, decked to the nines and gathering adoring and lustful looks as she drives by.  Nonnos is referring to the reactions of the godly men with whom he is speaking, and to his own reaction: downcast eyes and turning away.  It is that action that he says disregards the soul -- her soul.

Am I the only one who loses?  Or is it all the people with whom I come in contact who, because my days are spent in fleeting pleasures, do not see the joy and peace and pleasure to be had in the presence of my Savior?

Monday, August 15, 2011

from Evans' book, chapter: "Belief"

Chapter 2 in Six Qualities in Women of Character by Deborah Evans is titled "Belief."  I claimed belief in God exactly half my life ago.   At age 17, I believed that I am a sinner and that I need a Savior and that only Jesus, as God's Son, can provide that salvation.  So how does this chapter apply to me today?  What affect does it have on my sinful condition?

There are many things that we can believe about God.  Some of them are true and some are not.  Let us stick with Truth for now.  I can believe God is gracious, kind, merciful, the perfect judge, righteous, and holy.  I can say I believe God is all-powerful and sovereign, but my actions reveal otherwise.  When I return to my addiction I am saying God is not big enough, strong enough, loving enough.  My actions show what I truly believe.

Evans writes, "Without belief, we become vulnerable to all manner of attack; with it we are protected from trouble, surrounded by songs of deliverance, in a hiding place where no enemy can effectively assail us...When our troubles trap us and threaten to defeat us, we can ask the Lord to reaffirm our belief in His strong presence as we wait upon Him, in all our undeniable weakness, to renew our strength."

My addiction happens to be pleasing to me, as well as being an escape.  Sometimes I turn to it because I am lonely or afraid, but sometimes just because I want to.  1 John 2: 16 says, "For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world." It is all about pleasing myself. 

I like what Evans says later in the same chapter, quoting the 12th century monk Bernard of Clairevaux, "Inordinate love of the flesh is cruelty because under the appearance of pleasing the body we kill the soul."
I need to believe with all my heart that "As for God, his way is perfect: The LORD’s word is flawless; he shields all who take refuge in him." Psalm 18:30.  And that I can trust Him no matter what.  That sentence sounds very "Sunday school," but it is simple enough for even a dunce like me to understand. 

I want to stop killing my soul.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

In the Midst

I am a believer.  I desire to do God's will and to glorify Him. 

Like all believers, I walk somewhere between Romans 7 and 12.

When I am choosing to live in my addiction -- and I must choose my words carefully today -- when I choose to remain in my addiction, I get to a point where even Romans 7 would be progress.  I get to a point where I don't want to talk to God, about God, or hear from God, and I certainly am not concerned with glorifying Him.

And yet His Spirit in me is crying out for Him.

I sit in my chair, ensconced in my addicted behavior, trying to ignore God's calling and yet wanting to pray to Him.  But how can I pray?  I haven't repented.  My prayers will not be heard.  I don't know that that is strictly true -- as a believer, my sin has already been paid for.  Even in the midst of my sin, God sees only righteousness.  How can that be?  But it is what the Bible says.

It just proves that I am totally depraved.  Those people who believe all people are good or at least blank slates (tabula rosa) are deceiving themselves.  I am -- we are -- totally without the abiltiy to seek God.  When I am choosing to remain in my addiction, the only reason I can come out of it is because God is seeking me.  Yes, I do have the power to choose -- 2 Peter 1:3.  But I only have that power because God gave it to me.  I can only love God because He first loved me.

What a weight is lifted from my chest, that oppressive weight of sin that I carry by choice!  God is waiting to carry my burden, and He has given me the power to hand that burden to Him.  How great is His love for me!

 “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and YOU WILL FIND REST FOR YOUR SOULS.  For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”  Matthew 11:28-30

Saturday, August 6, 2011

The Holy Spirit at Work

Sometimes we have to stop doing what we have enjoyed doing for a very long time.  Not something sinful -- that we need to stop immediately.  But sometimes we have to choose between what is good and what is better.  I am thankful today that God has allowed me to do a bit of that.

I have an author whose books I enjoy a great deal.  However, there are some language issues in these books.  Yesterday I picked up the new release -- and I haven't read anything by this author in at least a year -- and began reading.  The plot was as capitvating as ever, but I never got past page 6.  I just felt that this was not the best way to spend my reading time -- there are other things, better things, I could be reading.

As always, I had a choice.  I could put the book down or I could continue reading.  If I had chosen to continue, my spirit would have become more desensitized.  It would become easier and easier to ignore the voice of God in my heart.  It would eventually lead somewhere I know I don't want to go.

But the book is innocuous, I could argue.


Maybe it falls into the category of "good".  Today I choose whatever God says is "better."

Thursday, August 4, 2011


Two days ago I made a vow, a pledge.  I was mentally complaining about my lack of funds, sipping on an iced coffee from my favorite coffee place, when I heard on the radio: Compassion International was raising funds for water filters that will serve Rwandan families for a lifetime.  Only $55 each.  I was both sad and angry that this month I just don't have that lying around. 

Sip, sip, rattle, rattle.

So I made a pledge that I would drink nothing but water for a whole month, because there are people in this world who can't drink clean water, period, but I have access to it in abundance and so often choose the sugary or tasty or caffiene-heavy instead.

Two days later I am regretting my pledge.  Not because the cause is not worthwhile but because I hate water.  Water is boring, water is bland.  Give me something to entertain my mouth.

That attitude in and of itself is appalling.  But what bothers me this morning is that I was contemplating "cheating."  I live alone.  Who would know?  And who would it be hurting, really?

But that isn't the point, is it?  The point is keeping my pledge, being a woman of my word.  So often I say I will do this or that, for God, for work, for friends or family or church.  One thing leads to another and I either forget my promise or "forget".  It shows a decided lack of discipline in my life.

Now for this very reason also, applying all diligence, in your faith supply moral excellence, and in your moral excellence, knowledge, and in your knowledge, self-control, and in your self-control, perseverance, and in your perseverance, godliness,  and in your godliness, brotherly kindness, and in your brotherly kindness, love.  For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they render you neither useless nor unfruitful in the true knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For he who lacks these qualities is blind or short-sighted, having forgotten his purification from his former sins.  Therefore, brethren, be all the more diligent to make certain about His calling and choosing you; for as long as you practice these things, you will never stumble; for in this way the entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ will be abundantly supplied to you.  2 Peter 1:5-11

I must persevere in my promise, to bring about godliness in my life.  For no other reason than that God always keeps His promises.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Why is brokenness necessary?

I am at the end of the chapter in Evans's book.  Her conclusion answers this question.  She says that brokenness is the precursor to revival.  God takes us down to build us back up.  I've known this for awhile.  I've even said, in the past few months, as I deal with painful health issues, that I am closer to God through this trial than I ever was before.    Trials are only one of those things the book of James mentions as requiring perseverance; temptations are the other ones.  God uses whatever it takes to draw us nearer to Himself.

J.I. Packer writes in Knowing God: How does God in grace prosecute His purpose?  Not by shielding us from assault by the world, the flesh, and the Devil, nor by protecting us from burdensome and frustrating circumstances, nor yet by shielding us from troubles created by our own temperament and psychology; but rather by exposing us to all these things, so as to overwhelm us with a sense of our own inadequacy, and to drive us to cling to Him more closely."

I like the line Evans writes towards the end of the chapter: "He is not just out to make us whole -- He is out to make us holy."

And that is the answer to the question.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

God has a wonderful way

God has a wonderful way of grouping His teachings.  In Evans's book right now, I am in the chapter on brokenness.  What is another word for brokenness?


The modest opinion or estimate of one's own importance.

As according to

I can look at the greatness of God, then at myself in the mirror He holds up and see myself for the bug I am.  I can see the faults that He presently wants to work on, a non-exhaustive list of which includes stewardship, pride, perseverance (see yesterday), and self-control.  I can think of myself as squashable.

Or I can see the beautiful picture of grace: God taking His pool skimmer, gently lifting the drowning Japanese beetle from the water, and shaking her out on the beautiful roses.  Not only does He save me, but He sets me in His glorious garden!

Monday, August 1, 2011

Everything I Need

In this walk through the dark forest of addiction, 2 Peter 1:3 has been a beam of sunshine.  They are words I repeat to myself, monthly, weekly, daily, and on an as-needed basis:

"His divine power has given us everything pertaining to life and godliness through the true knowledge of Him who called us by his own glory and excellence."

What does this mean?  What implications do these words have?

As a born again believer, I have the Holy Spirit living inside of me.  It never fails to astonish me: this is the same Spirit present at creation, the same Spirit that Christ gave to His followers after His resurrection.  That power!  That unadulterated power of God is living inside of me!  If that power resides inside of me, what can I fail to do?  Nothing.  If I set my mind to conquer this sin, I CAN do it.  The power of the Holy Spirit in me says I have all the power I need for godliness.

I have been challenged, however, in my quiet time to read the rest of the passage.  Verse 3 is mighty in its implications.  But from verse 5 to verse 7, Peter shares with me a list of attributes, character traits, qualities that I must exhibit as I continue on this path with God.  Verse 8 tells me I must apply these qualities in increasing measure -- more and more -- in order to be neither useless nor unfruitful: moral excellence, knowledge, self-control, perseverance, godliness, brotherly kindness, and love.  And if I do not apply these to my life, verse 9 tells me that I am "blind and short-sighted, having forgotten [my] purification from [my] former sins."

All of that is true, but it is not the focus today of my quiet time with God.  God has created bookends around this list, one word that comes before and after, and like bookends, holds everything together.  That one words is diligence.

I must be diligent in the increase of the application of these qualities.  That sentence sounds like something from the 1700s. 

I must be diligent to apply these qualities to my life more and more.  Better. 

I must work diligently to become a woman of godly character.  This process of sanctification -- making me more like Christ -- will never be complete until I see my Father and my Savioir in heaven, but I can work to achieve more today than yesterday or last year. 

I wanted to type there "keep walking" and those words never fail to bring VeggieTales to mind: the French peas singing, "Keep walking, but you won't knock down our wall.  Keep walking, but she isn't going to fall.  It's plain to see your brains are very small to think walking will be knocking down our wall."

But the wall did come down.

So I will keep walking.