Dec 22, 2007

A Moment of Sobriety

Don't fear, the next post in the series is coming soon

Anyone who knows me also knows that I spend a lot of time meditating and reflecting on all sorts of things, including who and where I am in relation to the Lord. I do this mostly because of the way Christ has created and wired me, thus I cannot take much credit. Yet it is also because of my past and the clear realization that we are all self-deceived. I believe that much of the maturation process is a matter of self-reflection before Christ. This is precisely why I am always talking about transparency, honesty, and vulnerability. This is also why Kierkegaard resonates with me (though I don’t agree with everything he says).

Anyway, I am writing after yet another instance where I have discovered self-deception. Take heed, watch therefore, be on the alert, take diligent heed, watch yourself, watch the gates, watch out, watch is mentioned 58 times in the updated NASB,… these are just a few examples in the scriptures of where we are told to be vigilant and watch over our souls. Over and over and over, the scriptures command us (yes, command) that we be watchful. We are to watch ourselves in every aspect at every level of who we are. Thus, we are to watch our life, our doctrine, our growth, our attitudes, our perceptions, our thought processes, the very intents of our hearts, and the list could go on. This takes much discipline and deliberate effort, just as a business cannot operate well if the steward is not keeping track of everything. One little thing neglected, and it can affect all of the others. My mind goes to the story (or secular parable), “For want of a nail the kingdom was lost.” This type of careful watch can be quite overwhelming sometimes and it seems so many never undertake the endeavor. Even with the fact that I am naturally wired to do this (thanks be to God), I must admit that I am all too often lulled into a state of complacency and coasting. Cruise control has no place in the life of a believer, yet too often I fall asleep at the wheel.

The Lord has been very good to me lately (as always), bringing me so near to him after a long time of disobedience and self-will. There are a number of things that I know I must watch on a regular basis. Due to my sinful nature and sinful propensities for using God’s gifts for my own glory, I tend to think too much of myself, when, if I understood the truth, I would be so crushed by my own sin, I wouldn’t be able to lift my head (Luke 18:9-14). A few years back the Lord dealt with me in a pretty major way where it concerns this sin, and I am so thankful to the many that allowed Him to use them. Yet, God does not zap us into perfection. He may work in a way that deals with a sin very powerfully and a major adjustment may be made. Yet, if we are not careful and watchful, it will return very, very slowly and overtake us in a moment (just as I look out one moment and it is night, yet the next it is morning). The way to bring down a castle is not to attack its strength, head-on. But instead, to attack its foundations, slowly undermining its walls or to sneak in through some unguarded way. In the martial arts, the way to defeat an opponent is not to go straight in at his strength, but to find his weakness and exploit it. If we intend to avoid falling in a major way, we MUST watch the little things (catch the little foxes).

In several ways here lately I have noticed a critical attitude, an arrogant moment here or there, a slight shift in perception. It is a scary thing to me as I know self-deception. By nature of realizing that the problem has returned, I must assume it is once again deeper than I realize. A lone soldier may once in a while walk up to a castle, but rarely. Usually, it is a scout, sending word to the ranks hidden beyond the tree line that they should either attack, or hold yet a little while. So, with this realization, I must not only kill the scout, but I must also find the encamped army and with the Spirit, slay them all with my eye showing them no pity.

Ok, so why am I sharing this? Well, for three reasons. First, and most importantly to me, is to seek forgiveness for any that I have offended. I have asked this many times in my life and I know that I will ask many more times. Yet, it is just as sincere now as it has ever been (and I pray that it always will be). Simply put, I have been so overwhelmed and overloaded in the last few months that I simply have not been myself (in Christ). Also, I hope that I am catching this early enough that it has not become noticeable or offensive to any aside from myself, but don’t want to take any chances. I take friendship very seriously and love my friends more deeply than I could ever express. I know that I do not always demonstrate the depth of my love because, quite frankly, I don’t know how to. Encouragement is usually appreciated, but it seems many times deep love is misunderstood (even if in Christ). We don’t know what to do with it, or if we can even trust it when it is given. We want others close, yet not too close. For example, I might give an encouragement to a sister or brother and tear up, only to realize it has been misunderstood. Thus, for ourselves and for others, we restrain ourselves… or at least I try. This is truly sad and surely the affects of sin. Anyway, I am getting into another post at this point. I say these things because I want to illustrate that I am not merely bothered when a friend is offended, but deeply grieved. It is hard enough when I have to stand for the Gospel, which I am more than willing to do. But it can feel unbearable when it is my own sin that causes trouble. The second reason is to thank those that are in my life, acting as watchmen on the wall of my castle. Though I can try to patrol my own walls, I need my watchmen to be on the alert, telling me when I have dropped my guard. Thus, I sincerely thank those that have warned me and beg for continued, brutal honesty. We are in a war folks, when it comes to our defenses there is no room or time for flattery, only the blast of a trumpet. We are not islands… we need each other!!! The third reason is to urge anyone who reads this to watchfulness. I share my heart in the hopes that Christ will, through His Spirit, remind you of the need for vigilance so that it may be well with you. Thus, I could try to write and encourage and exhort you, but I think instead, I will leave you with a few scriptures as there is no greater authority and, thus, no better teacher.

Let the Word of the Lord pierce our hearts!!!

Deuteronomy 6:10-12 10 "Then it shall come about when the LORD your God brings you into the land which He swore to your fathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, to give you, great and splendid cities which you did not build, 11 and houses full of all good things which you did not fill, and hewn cisterns which you did not dig, vineyards and olive trees which you did not plant, and you shall eat and be satisfied, 12 then watch yourself, lest you forget the LORD who brought you from the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. – NASB Updated

Deuteronomy 8:1-20 Deuteronomy 8:1 "All the commandments that I am commanding you today you shall be careful to do, that you may live and multiply, and go in and possess the land which the LORD swore to give to your forefathers. 2 "And you shall remember all the way which the LORD your God has led you in the wilderness these forty years, that He might humble you, testing you, to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep His commandments or not. 3 "And He humbled you and let you be hungry, and fed you with manna which you did not know, nor did your fathers know, that He might make you understand that man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by everything that proceeds out of the mouth of the LORD. 4 "Your clothing did not wear out on you, nor did your foot swell these forty years. 5 "Thus you are to know in your heart that the LORD your God was disciplining you just as a man disciplines his son. 6 "Therefore, you shall keep the commandments of the LORD your God, to walk in His ways and to fear Him. 7 "For the LORD your God is bringing you into a good land, a land of brooks of water, of fountains and springs, flowing forth in valleys and hills; 8 a land of wheat and barley, of vines and fig trees and pomegranates, a land of olive oil and honey; 9 a land where you shall eat food without scarcity, in which you shall not lack anything; a land whose stones are iron, and out of whose hills you can dig copper. 10 "When you have eaten and are satisfied, you shall bless the LORD your God for the good land which He has given you. 11 "Beware lest you forget the LORD your God by not keeping His commandments and His ordinances and His statutes which I am commanding you today; 12 lest, when you have eaten and are satisfied, and have built good houses and lived in them, 13 and when your herds and your flocks multiply, and your silver and gold multiply, and all that you have multiplies, 14 then your heart becomes proud, and you forget the LORD your God who brought you out from the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. 15 "He led you through the great and terrible wilderness, with its fiery serpents and scorpions and thirsty ground where there was no water; He brought water for you out of the rock of flint. 16 "In the wilderness He fed you manna which your fathers did not know, that He might humble you and that He might test you, to do good for you in the end. 17 "Otherwise, you may say in your heart, 'My power and the strength of my hand made me this wealth.' 18 "But you shall remember the LORD your God, for it is He who is giving you power to make wealth, that He may confirm His covenant which He swore to your fathers, as it is this day. 19 "And it shall come about if you ever forget the LORD your God, and go after other gods and serve them and worship them, I testify against you today that you shall surely perish. 20 "Like the nations that the LORD makes to perish before you, so you shall perish; because you would not listen to the voice of the LORD your God. – NASB Updated

Proverbs 4:25-27 25 Let your eyes look directly ahead And let your gaze be fixed straight in front of you. 26 Watch the path of your feet And all your ways will be established. 27 Do not turn to the right nor to the left; Turn your foot from evil. – NASB Updated

Luke 11:34-36 34 "The eye is the lamp of your body; when your eye is clear, your whole body also is full of light; but when it is bad, your body also is full of darkness. 35 "Then watch out that the light in you is not darkness. 36 "If therefore your whole body is full of light, with no dark part in it, it will be wholly illumined, as when the lamp illumines you with its rays." – NASB Updated

1 Timothy 4:16 16 Pay close attention to yourself and to your teaching; persevere in these things, for as you do this you will ensure salvation both for yourself and for those who hear you. – NASB Updated

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