Painful Obedience

 

Perseverance3

God has asked me to give up something and honestly I’m not at all happy about it. However, I know if I don’t obey the consequences could be severe, maybe even irreversible. 


So I have no choice but to trust God’s will as I press through the pain. 


The most difficult challenge is that while giving up this habit / behavior I’m living in an environment where I see it every day. 


No matter how tough,  it’s vital that I intentionally keep a good attitude expecting God’s blessing on the other side of this mountain.  

If you’ll willingly obey, you’ll feast like kings. But if you’re willful and stubborn, you’ll die like dogs. ~ Isaiah 1:19-20 MSG

Image credit:lightwise / 123RF Stock Photo

Resurrecting Faith


Life seems always to be a roller coaster of blessings and trials. We moved 10 times in as many years, started a business, tried to start a ministry and settle down only to get uprooted again and again with oppositions continually pressing in. 

For the last 18 months my husband and I have been going through yet again more life transitions. Some have come to completion and others have not. We’ve been getting hammered on all sides: two moves, deaths in the family, health problems, financial struggles, unexpected legal challenges, job ambiguity, etc…

In every way we’re troubled, but we aren’t crushed by our troubles. We’re frustrated, but we don’t give up. ~  2 Corinthians 4:8 GWT*


I’d be remiss if I didn’t tell you my faith has wavered. I’ve had temper tantrums and fist shaking conversations with The Almighty. But God faithfully takes His little girl by the hand and gently guides her back on His path again.

After a long dry spell, I recently began attending a women’s Bible study where we’re learning The Fruit of the Spirit. In last week’s lesson on Faithfulness, the teacher referenced the Greek root word pistis for Faithfulness which is best translated in the English language as REALITY.  

Flashing lights! AHA moment! Wake-Up call!

My level of faith directly relates to my ability to face reality?
The more I want to escape reality – – the weaker my faith is?

Ouch!


What better time than Easter for God to resurrect my faith!

There is no greater disaster in the spiritual life than to be immersed in unreality, for life is maintained and nourished in us by our vital relation with realities outside and above us…  Let us embrace reality and thus find ourselves immersed in the life-giving will and wisdom of God which surrounds us everywhere. ~ Thomas Merton**

How do you escape reality? Is the faith / reality connection applicable in your life today?

Image credits: daivi / 123RF Stock Photo

*God’s Word Translation
**Thoughts in Solitude by Thomas Merton

12 Steps of Humility :: PERSEVERANCE

EACH MONTH IN THE 12 STEPS OF HUMILITY WE ARE CLIMBING SAINT BENEDICT’S LADDER OF HUMILITY.  WITH EACH RUNG WE COME CLOSER TO THE PERFECT LOVE OF GOD.

The ladder is our life on earth, if we humble our hearts God will raise it to heaven. ~ St Benedict

Step 4 of Humility: In this obedience under difficult, unfavorable, or even unjust conditions, [her] heart quietly embraces suffering and endures it without weakening or seeking escape.

If you remain faithful to the end you will be saved. ~ Matthew 10:22 


In our world today we want any trial we are facing to be corrected yesterday. We don’t have time, nor are we willing to persevere through the crisis.  This leaves us living as spiritual infants.

According to Saint Benedict in our obedience, we are to hold fast when things aren’t going our way. And the only way to do that is to stay centered on God!

We must take our eyes off the circumstances and how we want things to be and remember everything in life can be a learning opportunity if we allow it.

I love this Webster 1828 definition:

perseverance: continuance in a state of grace to a state of glory.


When we are walking in God’s grace we are more likely to give Him glory. But we can’t be walking in His grace with our eyes on the ground, or on the circumstances or the rearview mirror, or on ourself.

God will only get the glory if we keep Him in the center minute by minute.


RESOURCES:
The Rule of Saint Benedict by Saint Benedict, Edited by Timothy Fry, O.S.B.
Twelve Steps to Inner Freedom: Humility Revisited by Joan D. Chittister**
The Twelve Steps of Humility and Pride by Bernard of Clairvaux
Living in the Truth: Saint Benedict’s Teaching on Humility by Michael Casey

Image credit: designerkrim / 123RF Stock Photo

Virtues ~n~ Vices :: DETERMINATION


VIRTUE: a valued principle of good moral behavior; a holy habit.

determination : a firm or fixed intention to achieve a desired end.



VICE: a practice of wrong doing, corruption of virtue; an unholy habit.

procrastination : the act or habit of procrastinating, putting off or delaying.

Starting in 2006, my husband’s new business consulting company took us on a cross country adventure. From the Gulf Coast to the Pacific and back again, we moved eight times in four years. In 2009, after growing many other people’s businesses, Bill decided to start his own. So thankfully, in 2010 God brought us back to Texas!

As you can imagine, starting a new business is quite painful. It requires a commitment to long hours, courage to do the seemingly impossible and dedication to the long-term goal; all which my precious husband has. I, on the other hand, have the simple job of supporting him… simple but not always easy. 

This calendar year has been one of the toughest for me for various reason. I’ve struggled with courage, patience, hope and faith… all the required ingredients for Determination.
I like how we discussed the Virtue of Determination in my church class last year. Specifically because Determination didn’t stand alone but was taught along with Diligence and Perseverance. What I found most interesting was how they were linked together. But first let’s look at their working definitions:

DETERMINATION is looking at insurmountable obstacles as opportunities to cry out for God’s supernatural intervention. It requires patience, hope, discernment, courage and faith while remaining committed over a long period of time.

DILIGENCE accepts each task as a special assignment from the Lord and uses all energies to do it quickly and skillfully. Diligence is duty bound. It requires deep faith during trials, courage against despair, patience in strife and mirth to stay balanced.

PERSEVERANCE is the steady persistence in adhering to a course of action, a belief, or a purpose. It says, “Yes” to a vital cause, refusing to take no for an answer. It may fall down but always gets back up. 


Like I said before, what I found most interesting was how these three virtues are linked together, how they blend and build each other up…


DETERMINATION is the cognitive decision to tackle an obstacle

DILIGENCE is the action walking out that decision. 

PERSEVERANCE is the energy that drives the action.

                                   …All three critical ingredients to successfully completing a goal.


Certainly the last three and a half years starting our business has been a daily exercise in Determination. However for me personally, the last calendar year has been one of the most difficult. It hasn’t been so much about faith in God to provide, because He has come through in the most incredible ways time and again, meeting all our needs. 

Rather, my challenges have been with living out what I know God has called me to do in ministry to reach hurting women with the freedom I have found in Jesus Christ. 

When I get discouraged because I can’t see a clear plan for what I’m supposed to do, I have to be determined to press through procrastination and answer the call. But that determination must be driven and energized by perseverance so I will diligently study each week and continue to write for my blog while I wait to see God’s greater purpose.

So don’t lose your confidence. It will bring you a great reward. You need endurance so that after you have done what God wants you to do, you can receive what he has promised. ~ Hebrews 10:35-36


How do you struggle with determination? What keeps you moving to your goal?

Let’s be determined together and Press On  http://youtu.be/_Bg2cJ5bw2k


Resources:

Christian Virtue by Patty Woodmansee

This Is Only A Test!

The Emergency Broadcast System was established to provide the President of the United States with an expeditious method of communicating with the American public in the event of war, threat of war, or grave national crisis. The test allowed the FCC and broadcasters to verify that the EBS tone transmitters and decoders were functioning properly and that outlets nationwide would carry emergency programming within a period of five minutes when the system was activated.

Growing up I remember the Emergency Broadcasting System testing weekly on television. The above image would appear on the screen along with a high pitched tone signal to get our attention, followed by an announcement similar to this:

This is a test of the Emergency Broadcast System. The broadcasters of your area in voluntary cooperation with the FCC and other authorities have developed this system to keep you informed in the event of an emergency. If this had been an actual emergency, the Attention Signal you just heard would have been followed by official information, news or instructions. This is only a test.

What about you? Is God trying to get your attention with troubling circumstances? 

Are you living in a crisis, war or threat of war?

Job loss, bill collectors, bankruptcy?

Kids on drugs, involved in crime and headed for jail. 

Stress is taking a toll on your marriage or physical health. 

Does it seem like everything will come crashing down at any moment?

When will it end???

You may not have this exact set of problems. But at one time or another everyone meets a crisis in their family. When we do it’s easy to ask: Why God Why? or When God When?

In school, we don’t get promoted to the next grade level without taking tests. Life works the same way. God gives us tests of faith to see if we are ready to go to the next level. The nice thing about God’s tests is if you fail them, you get to take them over and over again until you pass.

Instead of whining, complaining and begging God for answers, we need to heed God’s EBS warning and wake up! It’s time to change the view of our circumstances and see things from an eternal perspective. When we look at things from God’s view it’s easier to see potential purpose in times of struggle.

God never wastes anything. He will bring about something good if we will truly give it to Him.

So when we go through times of struggle let’s ask God to teach us the lesson He wants us to learn quickly so we can pass the test and move on to our promotion.

Will you pass your test?  Call out to God today. He will hear you.

In my distress I cried out to the Lord;
      yes, I prayed to my God for help.
   He heard me from his sanctuary;
      my cry to him reached his ears.

               ~ Psalm 18:6

Battling Resistance!

 

Spiritually and/or naturally – life is a battle. We are waging war constantly.
We all battle Resistance in some form; whether we’re starting a new company, trying to salvage our marriage, leading a project, writing a blog or just trying to clean the house.
Resistance, like a faithful friend but more of an enemy, will be there trying to keep us from doing what we need, want or are called to do.
I’m reading what’s quickly becoming a new favorite book; one I believe will be a most useful tool for many years to come:
The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles by Steven Pressfield.
This book is written to help writers/artists overcome their creative blocks. But it’s really more than that. I see it as a tool to help anyone who’s trying to accomplish anything worthwhile.

 “Do we have to stare death in the face to make us stand up and confront Resistance? Does Resistance have to cripple and disfigure our lives before we wake up to its existence? How many of us have become drunks and drug addicts, developed tumors and neuroses, succumbed to painkillers, gossip, and compulsive cell-phone use, simply because we don’t do that thing that our hearts, our inner genius, is calling us to? Resistance defeats us. If tomorrow morning by some stroke of magic every dazed benighted soul woke up with the power to take the first step toward pursuing his or her dreams, every shrink in the directory would be out of business. Prisons would stand empty. The alcohol and tobacco industries would collapse, along with the junk food, cosmetic surgery, and infotainment businesses, not to mention pharmaceutical companies, hospitals, and the medical profession from top to bottom. Domestic abuse would become extinct, as would addiction, obesity, migraine headaches, road rage, and dandruff.
“Look in your own heart… a still small voice is piping up, telling you as it has ten thousand times, the calling that is yours and yours alone. You know it. No one has to tell you. And unless I’m crazy, you’re no closer to taking action on it than you were yesterday or will be tomorrow. You think Resistance isn’t real? Resistance will bury you.” – Steven Pressfield

What is Resistance?  
According to Mr. Pressfield here are some of the characteristics of Resistance: 
  • It’s the enemy within.
  • Tells us anything to keep us from our work.
  • Never sleeps.
  • Plays for keeps.
  • Most powerful at the finish line.
  • Self-Medication.
    “…any act that rejects immediate gratification in favor of long-term growth, health, or integrity… any act that derives from our higher nature instead of our lower… will elicit Resistance.” – Steven Pressfield
    To counter act Resistance, Mr. Pressfield says the writer / artist must be a professional: show up every day no matter what, be committed for the long haul, master the craft or technique, accept pay for the labor, realize the stakes are high and real, not over identify with the job, keep a sense of humor, and receive praise or blame due.
    Personally, I find the above lists easy to relate, to not just as a writer dealing with procrastination when my computer is staring me in the face each day; but in every area of my life…
    Exercise
    Eating properly
    Going to bed on time
     Drinking 80oz of water every day!
    Simply, fighting all temptations big or small…
    I will take on Resistance and his seedy little game.
    Do not throw away this confident trust in the Lord, no matter what happens. Remember the great reward it brings you. Patient endurance is what you need now, so you will continue to do God’s will! Then you will receive all that He has promised. –Hebrews 10:35-36

    I’m determined, with God’s help, to be a professional at life…
    • To show up every day no matter what.
    • To be committed for the long haul.
    • To realize the stakes are high and real.
    • To keep a sense of humor.
    • To receive praise or blame due.
    • To keep God’s Word close to my heart and mind.
    • To fight the good fight of faith!

    Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. –Hebrews 12:1

    QUESTION: Where do you feel the most resistance in your life?

    Perseverance

    Most of us at the beginning of our recovery are feeling wobbly, unstable and unworthy to be in God’s presence; not to mention undeserving of His love, mercy and forgiveness.

    How do we get past these feelings & press in to healing?

    Summer 2004 I began working on sobriety but had no real strength within myself. I had clear choices in front of me — I could go back down the familiar path of darkness that had caused untold destruction to my family, and would now lead to certain death. Instead I chose to go forward into the life offering, healing light of Jesus Christ.

    When I walked down the church isle on December 26, 2004 it was like an out of body experience. I don’t remember what the preacher said that day, I just knew this was the only answer to my problems. I had such a sense of unworthiness that I couldn’t stop crying. It wasn’t an easy step to take, but it brought such peace and security.

    When I talk with some in the beginning stages of their recovery, I get frustrated at the lack of commitment I see.

    If we are to make it for any length of time in our recovery journey we must have a firm commitment, not only to ourselves, but to God and to what He wants for our lives.

    We can’t be on the fence at this crucial time.

    We must get to a place of clear decision and dive in with all we have.

    This isn’t a foreign concept, after all isn’t that what we’ve been doing, diving in head first into God only knows what?

    I don’t know about you, but for me it’s either all the way or nothing, no matter what I’m doing, I don’t do anything halfway! That can be good and a bad thing, if you know what I mean…

    But seriously, how determined are we?

    What are we willing to give up to be successful in our sobriety?

    Early on, I had to make some tough choices about the influences that were sure to effect my walk with God and my sobriety. It was uncomfortable at first but over time I didn’t miss the friends, the television programs, the secular music and the magazines.

    Sobriety soon became easier and I began to see an added benefit, I could think clearer and retain the things I was studying. I was actually learning, growing and even changing into a new person…the person God wanted me to be.

    Dig in.

    Perseverance and determination always pay off.

    It may be a while before we see any results from our hard work, but eventually we will reap a reward if we just don’t give up!

    Change doesn’t happen over night, after all we didn’t get in this condition of addiction over night either!

    Sobriety is a life long process of little deaths — surrendering each day to new patterns for our life.

    The best news is we don’t have to do it on our own anymore! Praise God! Jesus is there to carry our burden for us if we will just give it to Him!

    Those who live only to satisfy their own sinful nature will harvest decay and death from that sinful nature. But those who live to please the Spirit will harvest everlasting life from the Spirit. So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up. –Galatians 6:8-9

    (Originally posted Sept 20, 2008)