Monday, January 30, 2012

Living In The Present

Why is it so hard to live in the present all the time?  Hurts from the past haunt us; concern about the future frightens us.  If we let him, we serve a God who will heal our hurts.  And of what use is it for us to be concerned about the future?  We can control so little of it.  Stop struggling with your past; stop fretting about the future. Your God will heal your wounds, and He controls your future.  The only way to truly feel peace and joy is to live fully in the present.

I know...easier said than done.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Are People Who Are Tempted Weak?

“A silly idea is current that good people do not know what temptation means. This is an obvious lie. Only those who try to resist temptation know how strong it is... A man who gives in to temptation after five minutes simply does not know what it would have been like an hour later. That is why bad people, in one sense, know very little about badness. They have lived a sheltered life by always giving in.”  C. S. Lewis
Jane is a 31 year old woman.  She is a Christian; she is pretty.  She has never been married. She is still a virgin. She meets a terrific guy. He is handsome, funny, and clearly is interested in her.  He makes it clear that he wants to have sex with her.

To say she is tempted is an understatement.  She wonders why she is saving herself.  No one else saves themselves for marriage anymore. She is trying to maintain hope that she will be married someday, to a Christian guy who will treat her decently. Problem is she has not found a decent Christian guy in a long time…

She is very, very tempted to give in to her new suitor.    

Sometimes, it takes immense strength to resist.  For some, it is something large like keeping your virginity, or not having another drink. For others it is the M&Ms that would easily fit in your pocket.  People who struggle understand the badness in the world.  And temptations have an amazing way of building.  You can refuse something the first time, but it stays there begging for you to give in.  It builds and builds, to the point where it takes immense strength to resist.  Yes, as C.S. Lewis says, people who fight temptation are immensely strong and courageous. 

We are tempted by our own evil desires (James 1:13-14).   Temptations are wonderfully purifying.  They show us where we are bad, where we are vulnerable.  Being tempted is not a sin; it is only sin when we give in to temptations.  Yet, temptations are vital show the condition of our heart.

How to fight temptation?  Understand two things: 

(1). Temptations are simply a shadow of true goodness.  We subconsciously (or consciously) think that giving in to the temptation will bring us happiness.  And giving in to temptation might actually provide temporary satisfaction. Yet, giving in to temptation is a poor substation for genuine, lasting happiness. Also, giving in to temptation will always eventuate in something bad.

(2).  We serve a God who is intimately familiar with every facing temptation. Hebrews says that Jesus was tempted as we are…in every way. (Hebrews 4:15).  He says that He will help us with our burdens, help us fight temptation. That is not a idle promise.  It is a comfort to know that Jesus knows how hard it is to fight temptation. Yet, we must also know that He will help us fight temptation, that is, He will help show us the way.

Do not ever think that there is something wrong with you, if you are tempted by something.  Examine what is tempting you, and allow it to reveal what is in your heart.  Count on God to give you the strength and the courage to overcome temptation.

Jane is a courageous and strong woman. She told her suitor that she was not that type of girl.  Whatever your demon, take courage from her story, and take comfort from the promise of help from Christ.  Be courageous. Be strong.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Quietly Submit To Be Painted

“Remember that He is the artist and you are only the picture.  You can’t see it. So quietly submit to be painted –i.e., keep fulfilling all the obvious duties of your station (you really know quite well enough what they are!), asking forgiveness for each failure and then leaving it alone.  You are in the right way.  Walk—don’t keep looking at it.” C.S. Lewis, The Collected Letters of C. S. Lewis, Volume 3
This quote reminds me of several other quotes.  It reminds me of the verse in Isaiah where it says, 
“But now, O LORD, You are our Father, 
We are the clay, and You our potter; 
And all of us are the work of Your hand.”

It reminds me of another C.S. Lewis when he says in essence, it is not our duty to succeed.  Finally, it reminds the saying, “Just do the next right thing.”

Perhaps you are like me, however.  I tend to forget this idea. I “work” hard to grow. And the harder I work, the more I expect results.  But that is not our job.  Our only job is to keep showing up.  We are simply along for the ride.  We will grow, if we keep showing up.  We will grow at the right rate, at the right time, for the right purpose.

Paradoxically, the Christian life is such that the harder we try to grow, the harder we “work”, the longer it takes. Yes, we need to show up.  But our job is simply to be malleable, amenable to when and how He works in our lives.  We will grow at different paces. There will be times of tremendous growth and long stretches of dryness. And our lives will rarely develop the way we hope or plan.  We save ourselves so much angst if we simply remember this and alter our expectations.

Hold on to the following truth:
[T]hat He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.” Philippians 1:6.

He is painting a beautiful picture in your life…as long as you let Him.  Rest comfortably in that truth. Stop striving or fighting it.  Trust it instead.