Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Overcoming Sin: The Surrender

As I mentioned in yesterday's update, I've spent some time in recent days just focusing on God and receiving counsel from other people.  During this time, I have experienced God's nearness and a breakthrough in my life.  In part, it came through a story Kevin Abell shared in Alien Love about a young woman struggling with an eating disorder.  When she asked Kevin if what she was doing to her body was a sin, he responded yes, it was a sin.  When I first read her response to that, I cried.  She said, "That's good.  It's good because I know that Jesus has power over sin.  I know that even if I struggle now, I won't have to go through this forever."

Those words have become more real to me as of late, a precious truth.  The truth is Jesus have power over sin!  It doesn't have power over us.  We are dead to sin and Satan is a defeated enemy.  I've spent a lot of time praying for God's help to overcome sin.  And prayed again. And again.  And it seemed like it would never end and I became very discouraged.  It's in times like these when we have to stop praying for God to help us and thank Jesus for the power He has over sin in our lives.  I thought I was doing that, but it wasn't until I surrendered and claimed the power of Christ that I began to experience the joy and peace of freedom.

I came across Louie Giglio's Passion excerpt on rededication.  I used to do the whole rededication thing too.  After awhile the question "When were you saved?" or being asked to share your testimony almost becomes awkward.  (Which date do you give???)  But I try to overcome sin much the same way.  I've thrown that stick in the fire so many times, saying "That's the LAST time I'm ever doing that." I probably could have cut down a whole tree.  It's like Louie says.  "At the end of the day, it takes the wind out of your sails and it takes the hope out of Christianity." 

But there is hope!  There's hope because we can't do it, but we have an amazing Jesus who can, and it's His work in us that cleanses us from sin!

Hebrews 12:1,2
"let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith."

Philippians 1:6
And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.

He's the one who does the work in us.  We can't.  We have to take our focus off of our sin and look to Jesus, because He is the perfecter of our faith.  He will see that it's completed. We have to stop trying and surrender to Him.  That's where freedom is found.  That's when He restores to us the joy of our salvation and experience the peace only He can give.

Tuesday, 28 February 2012

Coming Up!

I haven't been here in a couple weeks but I'm here to explain why and give you all a peek of what's coming.  I have been hurting spiritually for quite some time.  For a long time it felt like I was living in defeat, unable to overcome sin, and it seemed no matter how much I prayed, things wouldn't get better.  My spiritual tank was running dry and I was wondering where that left me and this blog.  I'm not here to share the story of a quitter though.

Several days ago, I sensed God leading me to put all my other studies on the shelf (not knowing for how long), take down my copy of Wrestling Prayer by Eric and Leslie Ludy and just focus on my spiritual life for awhile.  And God has blessed me in some amazing ways already in this brief time, through the aforementioned book, through His Word and through some great friends who have walked with and counseled me.  My life is not perfect now and it never will be.  But I have experienced the nearness of God and His power in this time.

Although I didn't intend to write in this time, God has shown me so much, I couldn't help but write and it seems it would be wrong not to share it with you.  I'm not sure what I will all discover yet through this experience, but in the coming days, you can expect articles on overcoming sin, temptation, and dreams.  My hope is that I can share something with readers that will inspire you to take the often difficult but rewarding steps in their Christian walk.

Friday, 10 February 2012

Igniting the Spark

I was reading a book this morning and the author mentioned someone with the nickname "Sparky".  Then somehting hit me and I stopped reading right there!  I used to be called "Sparky" by a few, but it's been long forgotten.  I'm not sure now who started it, but a few friends picked up on it.  It characterized my attitude I think.  I'm not sure it was a good thing.  It would have meant having a short fuse, snapping easily, etc.  I hope this isn't as noticeable of my life anymore, but I know those tendencies still lurk beneath the surface.  To be "sparky" doesn't have to be bad though.  If I use this characteristic differently, it could have a dramatic impact on the people around me.  It's a positive sparky attitude!

A few months ago, I began working with a mentor to discover the difference I was to make with my life.  After what seemed to be a grueling hour, the answer I came up with left me saying "But that's only the starting point!"  It kind of frustrated me.  In a way, my answer, my difference, seemed insignificant, but I realized that it was only with that in place that everything else could follow.

As I was thinking about this today, I recalled an incident last year when I was walking to work and thinking about this same thing.  A single word comes to mind from my thought processes that morning.  Catalyst.  One of the definitions provides for this word is "a person or thing that precipitates an event or change."  Or in chemistry, it's the substance that causes or accelerates a reaction.  In a sense, the impact I make on other people's lives is only meant to be a catalyst.  But it's that catalyst, that "spark" if you will, that causes everything else to happen.

I want my life to ignite a spark in the lives of others.  In order to do that, I must first ignite the spark in my own.  I have to be willing to step out, think big, embrace change, take risks and refuse to quit unless God makes it clear something is not His will.  If I want to show others there's more to be had in life, if I want them to strive after greater things, I must first show them with my life.  My life is not at all glamorous by the common standard, but people have been looking at my life recently and asking "How....?"  That's what I should be hearing.  I'm still asking myself that question! There's a great story to it.  But there would be no story if I chose to shrink back and play it safe.  If I played it safe, that spark likely wouldn't ignite.

What kind of impact do you wish to have in the lives around you?  What kind of changes do you want to see?  Is your life demonstrating it?  Do you cause a desire in others for that change?  You must first ignite the spark in your own life.  Only then can you spread the flame.

Friday, 3 February 2012

Germany & France

The traveler has returned!  And now I finally have time to post.  I recently spent a week in Germany and France on a work trip and now that I'm back home I'm struggling to adjust to a new life.  I'm adjusting to not having as much time to read, write, study, blog and all the other fun things I'm used to doing.

My trip to Europe was mainly business, but I didn't have a chance to be a tourist and do a little sightseeing.  I didn't take any amazing pictures (the ones below I pulled from Google), but I will try to detail some of the highlights.  Oh, perhaps for the "lowlights" first. Sitting on a plane for nine hours in one spot is too long.  Riding trains with a lot of luggage is terrible, especially when you're in a new place and don't know what you're doing.  And the people drive almost like maniacs in the cities.  No stop signs on many intersections, no stopping for pedestrians.  Just drive.  I was very thankful I didn't have to drive.

I was staying in the Black Forest region of Germany, not far from France and had a view of snow on the mountains and pansies growing in the towns below.  I could hardly believe I was seeing flowers growing outside in the winter.  I worked and spent time with some great people while there.  I spent several days in Strasbourg, France, just over the Rhine River.  Beautiful city!  Everything in Germany and France has a completely different flare from Canada.  I was able to spend an evening touring Strasbourg and saw the Catholic cathedral.  I didn't go in, but I should have.  This cathedral was completed before Columbus sailed the world and was once the tallest building in the world.

I also spent a day in town in Germany and went to see the Schauenburg Castle ruins.  This castle was built almost a thousand years ago.  Normally, you have a beautiful view and can see all the way to Strasbourg, but it was very foggy/misty when we went up.  It was unfortunate, cause it was quite the uphill climb to get there.  But I have now seen a German castle ruin.

Those are probably the most exciting points of my trip.  My life has taken on my dramatic change this year and at this point, I'm not sure where that leaves my blog.  I hope I can keep writing, but only time will tell.