This morning I find myself contemplating the concept of resistance. There's a million places my mind can go on this topic and I feel reasonably certain that return from most of those places could be safely accomplished. :)
However, I am lead to think first about a particular incident that seems to provoke me.
The details of the event are a little painful to recount and the Internet is unforgiving and some form of long lasting and so I will not recount them. However, I will tell you that they lead me to thinking about how we think we are in charge even when we aren't.
With God, it is that we are able to make seemingly every day to day decision and expect that we are only doing what we think is right even when in fact we are not even doing what we think is right. Did you get that? Did I get that?
We make the decisions based on the day to day impetus which usually includes our desires and we don't take into account the unknown which is not actually unknown by God and actually cannot truly be taken into account by us because it is by its very nature, unknown. But some of that right there isn't entirely true, is it?
Not taking into account the unknown when it is unknown by us and known by someone else is actually not taking into account that the someone else knows the unknown. It is defined as not deferring to them. So, for example, if our enemy know ours weak spot and we do not, we must guard that which we do not know. We know that our enemy knows what we do not know and that to guard what we do not know is not really doable and so we should choose to avoid the fight if at all possible. To not avoid it would be to more than risk getting hit where it hurts, rather it would be to guarantee the outcome.
Ah, here's the rub. By the great complexity of the human mind, we are actually able to take into account that which we do not know. We can plan for the unknown to jump up and bite us in the behind. We have become so good (or some would say bad at it) that some people spend their entire time embroiled in the effort. This we call anxiety.
It is also called anxiety to face with indeterminate resolve the fact that you do not know the unknown. People panic. They panic because they do no know what will happen in a certain eventuality when in actuality if there ever was a time to panic it would be just the opposite time- when we do know with certainty the outcome and wish with all our heart to avoid it and know that we cannot avoid it. This is entirely different from stressing over not knowing the outcome.
Why is all this writing talking more about anxiety than it is about resistance which was the beginning topic? I was just thinking that and so I typed it. :) You read it and accordingly, you were just thinking it right after you read it.
Oh, if only life were that easy. But while we are making day to day decisions there are those who both want to and can actually be effective at swaying those decisions. The truth is that the more someone can sway the decisions of another the more they may be able to get what the desire. So, manipulating someone else becomes one possible road to the success of meeting your own desires. Still not there yet?
So, everyone has desires (1 John 2:6). Then, everyone inherently learns that manipulating others is one of the fastest ways to fulfill their own desires. If everyone has desires one of the easiest ways is to persuade them that a course of action will meet the demands of their desires. So, then the desires of an individual become the motivation for swaying others (get what you want) and the swaying is done by bringing to light unfulfilled desires and persuading them that their unfulfilled desires can be fulfilled by taking the steps that you propose.
Human desire becomes the motivator, the arena, the weapon, and ultimately, the master.
That which a man gives into essentially masters him. At least for a time. So, both the man who is doing the manipulating and the man begin manipulated are mastered by their desires. It's a vicious cycle that stops almost nowhere. The very same person that is manipulating his kids to get them to behave or to get them to get good grades which he determines will be good for them is in turn being manipulated by his boss, coworkers, etc. Moreover he is being manipulated by the desired outcome, feeling compelled to take whatever steps are necessary to entreat his children to do what they should. He will be distraught when he thinks his efforts are bordering on futility and delighted when they seem to be panning out.
Some, many, in fact, figure out that others are trying to manipulate them and they become cynical, jaded. They determine not to listen to anyone about anything but the best manipulators have tactics for that as well. They organize and can set the scene so that those who encountered by a genuinely nice person who wants to help them are so cynical that they won't give them the time of day. But the same resistant person will one instance later be persuaded to by something that they don't need in order to fulfill some desire that they have or haven't even realized that they have. They think they know and thinking they know becomes their downfall. They have a need to think they know and that need like all others can be manipulated.
Being a bit skeptical isn't necessarily a bad thing. If someone or something is leading you toward some inappropriate course of action you must resist. OOOp, there it is. We are finally getting somewhere.
Should we resist? Are their healthy things to resist? Can we submit and resist at the same time? Resist one and submit to the other? Resist and submit to the same person at the same time?
I'm not really going to answer any of those questions. They were meant to be food for thought and then I was tempted to take them as an outline and answer them but I'm going to resist.
Here's what is true. We were created in the image of God and so are by nature rulers. Rulers govern their surroundings. However, due to original sin and the resulting depravity we are at odds with creation. We want and sometimes go without because we are at odds. Without getting into it too deep-I want to, I really do, but I'm going to resist- the original sin of mankind was when man ate of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil when God told them they shouldn't.
Here's a side question for thought: Was it that Adam and Eve were going to be allowed to eat of the tree after, later? Or was it always going to come down to a choice between the knowledge of good and evil and the tree of life. No evil in heaven so no need of knowledge of it there...follow?
So, they ate, had their eyes opened and recognizing their nakedness, were ashamed. Needs, beyond the provision of God were now felt. These needs would now become the driving motivators for life (life outside the garden, life away from God, and life struggling to master that which now threatens to master them and had never before been a problem. Fast forward and here we are.
So, if unfulfilled desires have become the arena, the tool, and the object of resistance all at the same time then we MUST resist. However, its almost impossible to resist as I showed in the example of the vigilant skeptic that I shared above. Well planned or consistent resistance only results in giving in to those who have a much better tactic for overcoming your resistances. Most people seem to come down somewhere on the side of passive resistance blossoming occasionally into passive aggressive resistance.
By this I mean-and I don't want to get distracted here- they work to resist without making resistance a big deal and then occasionally become actively resistant while trying not to become overly obviously resistant. They feel justified in doing things that are almost aggressive to show that they are resistant but not things that are flat out obviously opposite. Slam the pots and pans, huff, make snide comments while on the surface giving in so that the person they feel is responsible "gets a hint" that they disagree strongly and are only supposedly giving in because they have no choice. This vaguely satisfies their need to feel like the are in charge and wars in the arena of desires in an effort to make the other person feel like they have an unfulfilled desire even while they are getting their way.
All this programmed resistance stems at least in part from the break between us and the world. God, and each other that was the outcome of the original sin. People are in depravity. They are driven by their desires. The only solution, the only chance of winning this war, the only chance of walking away from this conflict, is to do just that.
Deny yourself, daily take up your cross, and follow after Christ.
How do we make the big leap from being mastered by (as a tool or as a tool being used against you all the while living in the arena of it) your unfulfilled desires?
God knows the outcome. Remember, how I said, its a fool who doesn't take into account the unknown? I know I didn't say that exactly, but you got that right? It's also a fool who gets wrapped up in trying to take into account the unknown which they don't know. God does know.
So, submit the unknown to Him because He knows it. It removes the anxiety.
Submit the outcome as to whether your desires are fulfilled or not to Him. Deny yourself daily.
Most of what we have been programmed by the world's system to think we need we don't actually need anyway.
Then as we are mastered by Jesus we master the arena of our desires. We are focused on our cross. We take it up, not the bad things in life that we have to deal with but the end of life always in view as we live our daily lives. After the cross I'm going to be with Him forever and in light of this suddenly I'm free here and now.
His will, not my will be done takes on real meaning for me. Its what Christ prayed and as it becomes my prayer, I finally leave the arena, I drop My weapons, and I experience real victory.
You are not defined by your desires. They just outline and entrap a you that was not the you God intended for you anyway.
Be free. Resist everything else by NOT resisting God. Turn over once and for and again and again if necessary the anxiety that rises within you. Come follow Him and then you shall know that truth and the truth shall set you free. John 8:32
Friday, August 30, 2019
Thursday, August 29, 2019
Here is a grouping of information that someone might find useful.
Wednesday, August 28, 2019
Psalm 111-English Acrostic
(Written by NHF attendees August 18, 2019)
All of my heart gives thanks to the Lord,
Before and between the company of the upright and in the assembly.
CONSIDERABLE are the works of the Lord;
Delightful are they which leads to studying them.
Each of His works are splendid and majestic;
Forever His righteousness endures.
God made His wonders to be remembered;
He is gracious and compassionate.
In response to their fear of Him, He has provided for them;
Jesus will remember His covenant forever.
Known to His people, He has made the power of His works,
Leaving them the heritage of the nations.
My God’s works are truth and justice;
None of His precepts are unsure.
On and on they are upheld forever.
Performed are they in truth and uprightness;
Quittance He has sent to His people.
Really, He has ordained His covenant forever!
Sanctified and awesome is His name;
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.
Untainted understanding have all those who do His commandments.
Verily I say to you, His praise endures forever.
Psalm 112-English Acrostic (Written by NHF attendees August 25, 2019) Hallelujah! A man who fears the Lord is blessed, But this man greatly delights in His commandments. Children of his will be mighty on earth; Deemed blessed in the generation of the upright. Extreme wealth and riches are in his house, Forever his righteousness endures. Guiding light arises in the darkness for the upright; He is gracious and compassionate and righteous. It is well with the man who is gracious and lends; Just in judgement He will maintain his cause. Kept unshaken he will always be; Likewise, the righteous will be remembered forever. Messages of evil, he will not fear; Naturally, trusting in the Lord, His heart is steadfast. Oh, his heart is upheld, he will not fear, Persevering until he looks with satisfaction on his adversaries. Quite willing He has given to the poor, Righteousness of this man endures forever; Sovereignly, His horn will be exalted in honor. The wicked will see it and be vexed, Ultimately, gnashing his teeth and melting away; Villainous desire will perish.
So, it turns out I am his workmanship in Christ Jesus. In actuality, it was always that way. i was His creation but I was misusing that power. I was His invention but I had strayed from the blue print. Hmm, blue prints... Do engineers still do that? There was a time when the color of the paper meant a lot. Now, with the advent of computers, is it still like that? Anyway, God had a plan for Him and I to be in right relationship. That plan was screwed up a long time ago-before i was ever born, in fact. I mean, theoretically, I could have been righteous. Anyone could have. All the had to do was believe God, take Him at His word and believe that He would make a way. I didn't do it. Nope. My depravity was total. I had no way to get back from where I was. Neither did/do you. See how I did that there using the "did/do" thing? It's because I don't know where you stand. Do you? Anyway, My depravity was total. I could no more get back than if I had been shoved out of a submarine at the bottom of the sea. Now, looking back, I think that's not a bad analogy. I was like that- completely without hope. But, there I was, thinking that Christians were the one's who had been deceived or that there actually was hope beyond hope and that by some stroke I would pull it out in the end. This indomitable ignorance is a gift from God. Hopelessness hurts. Getting used to not doing as well as you had dreamed is a defense mechanism. It's not a good one. It will lead you to being okay while your drowning. It will lead to a moment of death and a living hell. People in hell know only that it was better to be alive where there was still some chance left. So, it makes sense to bale on the ride before it takes you all the way down. You don't climb in the creepy stranger's van, pet his puppies, or take his candy but the problem that the real enemies of mankind come well disguised. They look safe. They look like an authority or a logical choice. You run to them (and away from God) over and over again. And over and over again they take you for a ride that you didn't want- to an end that you hadn't hoped for. Ultimately, that will be the same. Creepy enemies taking ignorant people for a ride right up to the throne of judgment. By God's grace, that won't be me. If you still think that you have another way out, rather than clinging to the Risen savior, the way I read scripture, you're going to eb right there when it comes to light that there was no other way and that you kept choosing the things that looked like another way and then-well that's it. That's total depravity. Turn to Christ today. If you don't turn to Him and only Him, no one is going to call you crazy. The world will even invite you right back in, welcoming you to the ride like any other alternative wouldn't have made sense anyway. C'mon, you wouldn't be reading this if you weren't ready for the next step in Christ. Recognize that as His creation you off design and repent and turn to Him and Him alone. Get saved, get busy in the name of Jesus.
Tuesday, March 26, 2019
We push ourselves to do what we really want to do. At times, when we are sick, when our kids are sick, when some project or another requires us to go without sleep to meet a deadline... We get done what we really want to get done at the expense of sleep, rest, recreating, or whatever.
So, why can't following God, doing the things that we are supposed to do for Him, be like that? Break the bank, trap the well, scrape the bottom of the barrel, do it at all costs, and never quit until He authorizes another course.
Seriously, are we afraid we will snap? Is it unhealthy of us to push ourself to the limit to be obedient? Maybe. Maybe it's unhealthy of us to need to push that hard to be found doing what we should have been doing all along. However, that is exactly what we do when we really want something.
Maybe it's because we procrastinated, failed to plan or prepare, or because we don't have the necessary skill or clarity of thought that someone else has to do what we need to. But it has fallen to us to do anyway. Then, we do it, that thing that we have that much passion about...
So, if you are not going to take steps to get better and better at following Christ, then that is exactly how you are going to have to do it. You are going to have to spend the resources you do have because your didn't prepare.
So, get tired. Spend on obedience as you would on a Christmas gift you just have to have or on a project you simply must see completed. Don't convince yourself that living for Jesus can be done later. The deadline is exactly every minute. It must be done now and now and be done now as long as now is now.
Urgency, passion, determination- these things translate into diligence. They arise out of faith in a God who is pleased to bless those who seek Him. He is your prize Pearl hidden in a field just as you are His. He did not pull up short on His passion to reach you and you should not go at it half-heartedly or in truth maybe you are not going at it all.
Love Him with the kind of love He loves us with and we can actually do whatever He has called us to do. If we are not faithful it might hurt us to work at it this hard so prepare. Read, study, pray, love, give, serve, meditate, witness, and more until you get good at it and God can call on you as a skilled disciple and you can answer confidently, "I can do it."
P. Daniel Stevenson
Reaching New Heights in Jesus
Overcoming evil with good.
The Moment: Blood Bowl