Desires and Conflict

Today, as conflict was present in our home again I was led to read the word as tears were filling my eyes. Why? This question was going through my head. Why is there conflict? I had to remind myself again, because we live in a fallen world and that is why we need a Savior!! BUT, God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved (Ephesians 2: 4-5). In search for the source (or root) or all conflict, the Lord led me to these verses.

“What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you? You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. You do not have, because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions. You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. ” -James 4: 1-5 (ESV)

“Ouch”…..very convicting!! Our passions and cravings that are at war with in us. We want something but, do not have it so we murder (hatred is considered murder in the eyes of our Savior). This is the root of all fighting.

This afternoon, my sister and I experienced this very thing.”BUT, I”. This very sentence reveals so much selfishness and pride! It comes out of my mouth so often. “But, I want to do this”, “But, I want it this way”, “But, I was in the middle of doing something”, to name a few.

Every single day, we all have a chance to lay down our wants and our desires and glorify God by serving others. How quickly I fail, how quickly I speak before I think about what I am going to say, how quickly I become moody when don’t get my way.

As, all of this sin was revealed in my heart today, I was quickly tempted to despair. I love the words to the song, “Before the Throne of God Above”. The 2nd verse particularly speaks against despair.

When Satan tempts me to despair, and tells me of the guilt within, upward I look and see him there who made an end of all my sin! Because the sinless Savior died, my sinful soul is counted free, for God the just is satisfied to look on Him and pardon me, to look on Him and pardon me. -Before the Throne of God Above (Vikki Cook-Sovereign Grace Music)

images-1Remember the gospel!! The gospel is the the only antidote to discouragement. Remember when the Savior died, and how He died for all of our sins!! Absolutely NOTHING is outside of His mercy for those who are His. Nothing can keep you from the love and grace waiting for you in the arms of the Savior. Run to His side, dear saints. Don’t walk and fall away from the path of mercy, RUN to HIM!

Lastly remember that when in humility (James 4:6) we acknowledge our sin and weakness before the Lord, HIS sustaining grace is ever-present!!

Amazing grace, how sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me
I once was lost but now I’m found
Was blind but now I see so clearly

Hallelujah, grace like rain falls down on me
Hallelujah, all my stains are washed away, washed away

-Grace Like Rain (Todd Agnew)

Worldliness: God, My Heart, and the Media

Discussion Question taken from “Worldliness” on chapter two:

For your Mind:

1. Why is no one immune to the media today?

2. As this chapter notes, hardly any discussion of media standards gets far before someone cries “Legalism!” What is legalism? What is the only possible solution to legalism?

3. What does it mean to live coram Deo?

For your Heart:

1. How are you tempted to watch passively or with a sense of immunity as you serf the Internet or watch TV or films?

2. In what way can you cultivate a greater awareness that every film, TV show, and Internet page you see is “before the face of God”?

3.  When you “need a break,” are you more likely to reach for the remote? Fellowship with God and other believers? Something else?

For your Life:

1. This chapter explains that God-pleasing discernment involves remembering his grace to us in the death and resurrection of our Savior, and responding to his grace with a heart eager to please him bt taking pleasure in what is good and right and true. How will this truth effect your decision about the next movie you watch?

2. If you limited your media choices to what was actually benificial (as opposed to just permissable, would your viewing habbits change? If so, how?

3. Does anyone know what you watch, how much you watch, and specific areas in which you are tempted? If not, whom ca you seek biblical accountability from?

Now we want to point out that  it’s not  inherintly wrong to watch TV or movies, entertainment and leasure are gifts from God. But the danger is when we watch or listen or read thoughtlessly. Are we considering whether the content is appropriate? Are we considering what worldview is being presented? Are we considering how much time we’re spending on the media? Are we considering it’s effect on us? Are we watching in a worshipful way that expresses gratatude and appriciation to God for His good gifts? 

Fighting Attraction: Selfless Love

When we are attracted to a guy, it is so easy to let our emotions take control. We might think that we must do something to get his attention. I find it amazing that so much sin could be revealed when I like a guy! Pride, selfishness, envy, discontentment, and anxiety to name a few!

Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. – 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 ESV)

I wrote these two questions to evaluate our hearts on the matter of selfless love:

1. When the guy I like talks to any other girl, am I quick to be envious that he would talk to her instead of me? (Love Does Not Envy – 1 Corinthians 13:4)

2. Am I trusting God to provide what I need when I need it, or do I want things to happen when and how I desire them to? (Love does not insist on its own way – 1 Corinthians 13:5)

Are either one of these things true of you? I am guilty or both! They are many more questions you could ask yourself (read the verses from 1 Corinthians 13 again). We will never be able to be perfect in love. But, by the grace of God, we have the opportunity to learn what true love is now and put in into practice with our family and friends!

Let’s choose to love selflessly no matter the circumstances. This is a good time to learn now before we enter into marriage. I need to learn how to selflessly love my brother and sister. I must confess that I so often fall short of this but, God uses my shortcomings to remind me that I need HIM to help me! Another way is to watch others. Watch your parents and other married couples in the church. This is just one way to focus on others rather then focus on your desires and wants at the present time.

To echo a couple things that Bronte said in her post, it helps so much to share these things with your parents. They have been through crushes before and are wise as they are older than we are. It is also a good thing to remember that the guy you like is most likely going to be married to someone else. This often helps me! One last thing. Remember the work that Christ has done for you on the cross! He has shown the only perfect of selfless love! To Him be the Glory!

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.” -Galatians 5:22-23 (ESV)

 

Waiting For Love

images-2

“But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.” -Romans 8:25 (ESV)

One of the biggest things that I have been struggling with lately, is contentment with where God has me right now. I have to trust that God is wholly sovereign over my future (whether that includes and husband or not). The bigger issue at stake is His glory! When I am thinking so much about the future, I am not glorifying God with were I am now. I desire to glorify God and so I need to trust Him with my future. His plan for me will be greater than I could imagine!

“So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.”- 1 Corinthians 10:31 (ESV)

In all that we do, it should be for the glory of God. We should watch movies in a way that glorifies God. We should use our money in a way that glorifies God. We should be patient in a way that glorifies God. We should live in a way that glorifies God!

God is glorified when we trust in His glorious plan for our lives. God is glorified when we surrender our life to Him and submit our will for our life to him.

Ask God to give you a trust in him. Meditate on Scripture. I really like the Psalms. They give great reminders that God is our refuge at all times. Psalm 62 and Psalm 46 have helped me. At our church on Sunday, there was a song that is based on Psalm 62.

For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence, for my hope is from him. He only is my rock and my salvation, my fortress; I shall not be shaken. On God rests my salvation and my glory; my mighty rock, my refuge is God. Trust in him at all times, O people; pour out your heart before him; God is a refuge for us.- Psalm 62: 5-9 (ESV)

God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way,though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble at its swelling.- Psalm 46: 1-3 (ESV)

Whether God chooses to have me get married someday or not, I need to glorify him at all times. So right now I need to make the most of what stage of life I am at. God has a purpose for everything and want to submit to His will because it will be the best for me.

One last thing that a friend reminded me about is remembering the great things that God has done in the past for you. God is always faithful! We can trust in His great faithfulness!

I Once Was Dead, But Now I’m ALIVE!!!

And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, he has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before him, if indeed you continue in the faith, stable and steadfast, not shifting from the hope of the gospel that you heard, which has been proclaimed in all creation under heaven, and of which I, Paul, became a minister.

-Colossians 1:21-23 (ESV)

I have grown up in a Christian home all of my life. I have known who Jesus was for as long as I can remember. At age four, I prayed to receive Christ into my life. I understood that Jesus died but, I didn’t really understand why I needed a Savior because I was blinded to my sin.

My parents had no reason to doubt that I was a Christian because I knew the answers to simple biblical questions, yet I didn’t believe what I preached to those around me.

Sinful patterns of rebellion where beginning to be planted into my heart during the very early teen years. I did not show it outwardly because I didn’t what people to think badly of me. In my heart I rejected God. I had no desire at all to attend church and would even volunteer to do nursery very often to skip the sermon. I was sinning and being content to live in my sin.

At age 13 (2005), God was beginning to draw my heart, yet I was not ready to follow Him. In early 2006, my eyes were slowly being opened to my sin. I didn’t talk to my parents about it because of my sin and my pride! I did whisper a prayer to God to change my life. Little did I know that I was in for a shock.

During this time God was working drastically in my parents. My Dad was feeling God calling Him to leave his 13 year job as a pastor in Iowa and be evaluated to become a pastor under Sovereign Grace. We as kids were somewhat aware of this and the possibility. On May 6th 2006 when my parents shared that we were moving to Minnesota, we were all in shock.

God continued to work in my life and in the life of our family during our last 4 months in Iowa. On September 3rd 2006, we headed up to Bloomington , Minnesota to move the first truck full of things into our new house. That Sunday was my first week visiting what would be our new church. I was amazed by how everyone cared for our family. That next weekend, we moved the rest of the stuff up. During our first months, we were blessed with gifts, prayers, meals, and God’s grace was very evident and continues to be!

God used the kindness of of our church, the faith of my parents, the passionate worshipping at church, and the convicting sermons to finally draw me to my knees in Fall of 2006. I was broken over my sin and finally was open to my need for a Savior.

That Savior is Jesus Christ. Even when I was against God he chose me and drew me close to Him. We as sinners are under the JUST wrath of God, but He sent Jesus to die for our sins in our place. We also get Jesus’ righteousness! So when God looks at us, He sees Jesus’ perfection! We will always struggle with our sin but, God has conqered it and it no longer has any hold on us. We are FORGIVEN! Praise God! If you trust in Jesus’ work on the cross and that it is enough to save you from your sin, you can be forgiven! As Christians we await Heaven!

God has worked in my life in so many ways. I have the grace I need to get through the day. God has convicted me of a particular sin that I struggle with and with His grace, and accountibility, I am being healed! This work is by God’s grace alone and without Him I would still be dead and blinded to sin!

My Dad is now a pastor at our church! I can’t express how thankful I am for God’s great faithfulness to us. Even though we often don’t trust Him, he is faithful and does everything for our good!

So remember that when Jesus was born, it was not a small thing! He has purchased our salvation and that is something to be joyful about this Christmas season!

And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved—

– Ephesians 2:1-5 (ESV)

Self Control: Thoughts

“Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and give no opportunity to the devil.” -Ephesians 4:26-27 (ESV)

Oh, you’re just nervous, it’s normal. You were angry, but THEY provoked you, anyone would have gotten angry. Have any of these thoughts or ones like it ever raced through your mind? Has anyone ever told you that it is “normal” to struggle with sin?

images

We live in a culture where anxiety, anger, lust, selfishness, and envy are considered “ok”. It IS normal to struggle with these things in the sense that everyone struggles with them. What is not made known in our culture is that all of these thoughts are not ok! They are sinful! A rebellion against what God has commended us to flee!

“Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” -James 4:7 (ESV)

I must learn self control with my thoughts! At the recent Contentment seminar at our church, Mrs. Kim Erickson was talking about taking your thoughts captive. Catch them and get them out of your head! Your mind and thoughts are a battleground. The truth of God vs. the lies of the devil. Oh, how easily we fall into the lies of the devil!

How do we fight the lies of the devil? Read carefully through these verses.

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints, and also for me, that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains, that I may declare it boldly, as I ought to speak.” -Ephesians 6:10-20 (ESV)

We must put on the belt of truth:

Fill your mind with the truth that is in the Bible. God’s word is true and we can always trust in the truth in the Bible.

We must put on the breastplate of righteousness:

Remember what God has done for us through Jesus’ death on the cross. He has forever purchased us and we can NEVER be taken out of His hand once we are truly saved! We now have the righteousness of Jesus!! What a Savior we serve!

We must put on the shoes of peace:

Again, we are at peace because God’s wrath is no longer one us! We have the peace that comes through the Gospel.

We must take up the shield of faith:

We must have faith that God works ALL things out for our good whether that involves pain or not! God is wholly Sovereign!

We must put on the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit:

As said before, we must remember the truth of the Bible. When we are in the word, we grow in godliness! Memorize Scripture and fight the lies with truth from the Bible!

AND PRAY IN THE SPIRIT AT ALL TIMES!!

We must pray for everything. The prayer of a believer is powerful! God will answer our cries according to HIS will for our life. Remember that he works ALL things for OUR GOOD!!!!

May God be Glorified!


Fighting Sin: Accountability

Hebrews 10:23-25: “Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.”

Accountability is a very important way to fight sin, but what is accountability? To call to account is (according to the dictionary) “to challenge or contest” or “to hold answerable for.” Another way to look at it is this: Let’s say I have a hard time resisting eating chocolate and I eat too much of it. I realize this is a problem, so I call Becca and Grace and tell them about my problem and I ask them to pray for me. The next day Becca calls me and tells me she’s praying for me and asks me if I’ve eaten too muchchocolate that day. A couple of days later Grace calls and asks me the same things. In this situation Becca and Grace are holding me accountable, they are reminding me not to eat too much chocolate and they are praying that God will give me self-control over what I eat.  That’s what accountability is, asking how someone is doing in a particular area and praying for them. This is a very helpful thing. Especially when you feel like you can’t get over a certain sin. It’s really encouraging to know someone else is praying for me.

Now, who should I be accountable to? Well, first of all God. He is the ultimate Authority and we have to be accountable to Him first and foremost. We do this by obeying His Word (but that’s another post:)

For teens the most important means of accountability is our parents. They are our main counselors and disciples. It’s very important to our relationship with them to be open and tell them everything. There are so many times when I feel weighed down by something, a sin or a circumstance, and I take this to my parents. I tell them about it and they’re always willing to help me. They talk me through my sin until we get to the root and then they point me to verses and to the gospel. I always come away from those conversations feeling refreshed. If this is hard for you I urge you to put aside your fears (and pride!) and talk to them! It is so important for your parents to be your main accountability. It is so important to talk to them about everything! That’s why God gave you parents!

The last group of people we need to be accountable to is our friends and peers. This can be done in a couple of ways. In a small group setting (particularly if you’re an adult and a member of a church, but it can also be in youth group), or maybe just a oneonone conversation or email exchange. I find it so encouraging to know one (or more!) of my friends is praying for me. It’s also encouraging to receive emails with verses of encouragement sent by a friend.

Accountability is important because on our own we could never make it. God (being the brilliant God He is) has given us people to run this race with. So when we stumble or fall, they are there (by God’s grace) to pick us up again or (as the case may be) carry us along the way. Please take advantage of the gifts God has given us!

Before I end this post I have to recommend a sermon for you to listen to. The best preacher ever (my dad:) preached a sermon on this not too long ago. Please take the time to listen to it! Click HERE