Monday, January 20, 2014

Scripture Monday/Jesus is Enough/Did I Kiss Marriage Goodbye/and other miscellaneous thoughts.

I haven't done a Scripture post in awhile.  There is a two- or three-fold reason for this.  Part of it comes from my brain having a hard time processing some of the things I am learning and the difficulty of putting everything into coherent thoughts that will make sense to my readers.  Part of it is because some of what I have been mulling over is private thoughts and things the Lord and I are working on together.  Part of it is because I'm lazy (just being honest) and I don't want to take the TIME to put my thoughts into a coherent post.

I don't really do the traditional New Year's Resolutions thing. But usually during the holidays I take time off of work and it is a good opportunity to reflect on the things I want to change in my life in the next year.  My Blessings Jar came out of that time for me last year.  This year, I have been praying through a sin habit that I really want to work to conquer this year.  This is a sin habit I have had for many years now that is just between me and the Lord.  The danger in it being just between me and the Lord is that I have little to no accountability.  I have become stuck in this habit and had begun to think that it will just always be something I have to deal with and cannot overcome.  I KNOW that this is wrong thinking.  I am no longer a slave to sin, but a slave to righteousness.  I do not need to feel condemned.  I know that the Lord wants me to pursue righteousness and become more Christ-like.  And those things do not include habitual sin.  So, I have been committing more consistent time to praying for this particular sin.  I have shared with a few people that I know will come alongside me and pray with me in this endeavor, without sharing specifics with them.  It has been a huge blessing for me and I have seen some changes in this particular area in my life.  God is so faithful!

I am also not great at reading non-fiction books.  I LOVE to read, but I have a pretty narrow selection of books I like to read.  So, I will often commit to trying to read more non-fiction books to help me grow in my relationship with the Lord.  Sometimes I start strong and then quickly taper off.  Sometimes it takes me half a year to finish books.  But I'm trying.  The last book I read was a struggle to get through.  I'll admit, I didn't enjoy it very much, but the second to last chapter was worth the perseverance (and I think the inspiration for the previous paragraph of finally inviting others into the journey of my trying to conquer sin).  The chapter was titled "Gospel-Centered Relationships."  Here is an excerpt from the chapter: "I've discovered that the kind of biblical relationship to which I think the New Testament calls us is almost nonexistent...The kind of fellowship I'm enjoining flies right in the face of our American individualism and desire for privacy.  We don't want anyone poking around in our affairs, and we certainly don't want to be accused of poking about in anyone else's.  This idolatry of privacy and individualism is one of the greatest detriments to sanctification in the church today.  God has placed us in a family because we don't grow very well on our own...We need the encouragement, correction, and loving involvement of others who are willing to risk everything for the sake of the beauty of his bride"  And later, "We need to wash one another, to carefully probe, cleanse, disinfect, and heal each other, and this isn't something we can see clearly enough to do on our own.  We need the eyes and hands of others."  And even more! "All of our friends are more aware of our sin than we think, and unless we're really living a double life, they could probably tell you what one or two sins you struggle with most and how your sin has personally impacted them.  Our struggle with sin is like the party game where everyone else knows the word pinned on your back but you can't see it."  Ouch!

So, I finished that book and started a book called "Did I Kiss Marriage Goodbye?"  It's a book about singleness as an older person.  I actually usually enjoy reading books about singleness.  And this title intrigued me from the start.  I'm about six chapters into it and really enjoying it.  I have loved the refocus it continues to give me.  Here are some highlights from this book as well..."the whole Bible testifies of God's faithfulness to us even in the face of our own faithlessness to Him.  God has not forgotten anything at all...Your greatest need is to be delivered from the wrath of God--and that has already been accomplished for you through the death and resurrection of Christ...So the infamous question about why we're not married is the wrong question to ask.  It implies lack.  But our heavenly Father has said He withholds no good thing from His children.  The better question to ask ourselves is: What is God doing with and through my singleness?"  "The evil in our desire typically does not lie in what we want, but that we want it too much."  "I'm rarely daydreaming about how God may be using my life (single or married) to accomplish a grander purpose for numerous people.  This finite creature has finite plans.  But our infinite God has infinite plans to accomplish His purpose of redemption in our generation and beyond."

I guess this is what happens when I don't put my thoughts down as they post gets incredibly long. But this exercise has really helped me solidify some things while I am writing and see how God has worked several separate things I am learning into one cohesive lesson.

Lastly, I attended part of the women's conference at my church on Friday night.  The subject was on discipleship and Pastor Ritch gave a great lesson to start off the conference.  But I had one huge take-away that has constantly come to mind since Friday and helped me to combat some very unhelpful thought patterns for myself, has helped me with the sin I mentioned in my first point, and has helped me as I've read a book on singleness (Isn't God great!).  Pastor Ritch quoted Matthew 10:24: A disciple is not above his is enough for the disciple to be like his teacher."  Jesus is my teacher.  And it is enough that I would be like Jesus.  Thus, Jesus is enough.  It is not a new concept.  It is not a new revelation.  But it has been a fresh revelation that has brought me to tears this weekend.  Does anything in my life (singleness, marriage, children, career, popularity, etc.) matter more than this?  Sadly, in my life, I often have to say "Yes.  I let things matter more in my life than Jesus."  But, the reality is that Jesus is enough.  When I can sit myself down in this truth, I can find contentment and joy and a gift in whatever I am about at that moment.  Is it wrong for me to want to be married?  No.  But when I put being married above Jesus, I say that Jesus is not enough.  Jesus has to be enough for me whether I am married or single.  Jesus has to be enough for me when I look at this sin habit in my life, because when I give in to the sin, I am saying that the sin is more important than Jesus and I am seeking temporary pleasure in a sin that will only rob me of the joy of a relationship with Christ.  And now when I am tempted, I can continue to say, "Teresa, Jesus is enough.  You don't need to let this sin have its way in your life."  Or I can say, "Teresa, Jesus is enough.  You don't have to be discontent with being single. Find joy in serving Him."

And those are my jumbled thoughts on this Monday evening!  

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