THE BITTER ROOT.

November was a month that was filled with blessings (although I admit to being a wee bit exhausted at the end of it).  Thanks to the prayers and generosity of many who allowed God to work through them, my Kickstarter for THE BOOK OF RUTH was more than 100% funded when it ended.  Through that entire process I could feel God’s hand, working, reaching out and putting it in front of the people who needed to see it, speaking to their hearts.  And for me it was definitely an exercise in trust, and the power of faith.  There were many times I just had to “step back and let God”.  And there were so many people who lifted me up with words of encouragement and prayers.  God is good.  And I want to say thank you again, to everyone who shared and supported RUTH.

You might be asking yourself if I’m feeling so blessed, why the title of today’s blog post is about bitterness.  Let me explain.  As often as we revel in God’s blessings in our lives, we are just as often tempted by sin.  This past week, within my community of faith, I have been wrestling with a situation.  I found myself being pushed out of a role that I had taken pride in.  A role that I enjoyed and looked forward to doing.  And I wasn’t happy about it.  In fact, I was very hurt.  I don’t know if the people involved even considered my feelings, I would even say that it didn’t cross their minds that I might be upset.  They just did what it was that they wanted to do.

This was a situation in which, while I didn’t feel it was necessary to take a stand and try to get my way, my first instinct was to step back.  To no longer participate in that particular group. As Dave puts it “to take my ball and go home.”  But I also spent time and prayed about it.  I asked God for help, because I wasn’t 100% convinced that my first response was the correct one.  There were other people outside of the situation that needed to be considered.  Maybe stepping away was the right thing, but maybe this wasn’t the right way to do it, or the right emotional mindset to be making that decision in.  And thankfully I had a week in which to make that decision.

It’s very easy to assign reasons and emotions to the actions of others, but it can be much harder to look at our own motivations.  I will say, however that I instantly recognized that pride was a part of the equation from my side.  I took pride in doing this particular job.  But maybe someone else needed to feel that pride more than I did.  I have found so many places in my life to share my faith, am I so greedy as to not be able to share the spotlight?  And stepping out completely also meant stepping away from those who needed someone to advocate for them.

I have continued to bring this situation and specifically my feelings about it before God this week and today this was the passage I read.

“Make every effort to live in peace with all men and to be holy; without holiness no one will see God.  See to it that no one misses the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many.”  Hebrews 12:14.

If we, as children of God, seek to live holy lives, lives that emulate the life of Christ, then I have to consider His response to every situation – to this situation.  I know Christ would step aside graciously, and throw His support completely behind this peer.  And I know that is what God wants for me.  I can’t allow bitterness to take root in my heart and cause trouble.  I think this is why pride is such a subtle and dangerous sin.  But if Jesus could scorn the shame of the cross, then I can certainly give up my pride and help someone  have their own chance at ministering to others and being proud.

If there is a place in your life where you have a similar situation, or are finding pride is damaging a relationship, I encourage you to bring it before God and allow his healing power to change your heart just as he changed mine.

God Bless,

Meredith

Mortifying Sin? What the heck does that mean?

This weekend I started reading Sin and Temptation by John Owen.  The book open with the subject of mortifying your sins.  If you don’t know what it means to mortify something don’t feel bad, I had to look it up too.  It means to put something to death.  So this book on Sin and Temptation was opening with the idea of putting your indwelling sins to death.

God is taking me on a journey through his scholars, C.S. Lewis, George MacDonald and now John Owen.  In each of these men I have felt in my heart the truth and honesty of their reflections on God.  Owen writes that “Sin aim always at the utmost; every time it rises up to tempt or entice, might it have its own course, it would go out to the utmost sin in that kind.  Every unclean thought or glance would be adultery if it could; every covetous desire would be oppression, every thought of unbelief would be atheism, might it grow to its head.”   WOW!

How many times have we justified a tiny sin in our own lives only to find that it grows, slower ever larger,  like a cancer in our hearts?  To continue with Owen, “it is modest, as it were, in its first motions and proposals, but having once got footing in the heart by them, it constantly makes good its ground, and presses on to some farther degrees in the same kind.  This new acting and pressing forward makes the soul take little notice of what an entrance to a falling off from God is already made….”

Robert Deffinbaugh wrote that Satan approached Eve in the garden of Eden as a friend.  He spoke to her in such a way as to convince her that he was someone who cared about her and wanted what was best for her.  How often has sin come into our own lives in that way, convincing us that this is what is best for us, and we listen to that voice, instead of trusting that only God, in his infinite wisdom and love, has our best interests in mind.

I love, and at the same time, am terrified of the idea of asking God to shine his light into the deepest and darkest parts of my soul.  But at the same time, I feel as if that is what God is calling me to do, as I walk this faith journey with him.  John Owen calls upon the believer to mortify their sins daily.  When I think about what he is calling us to do, it goes beyond confession.  Confessing your sins and knowing that you are forgiven seems like the first step, and that’s where I was for a long time.  But I think what John Owen is writing about, is that there is almost an acceptance of our sinful nature when all we are willing to do is confess.  Growth in our spiritual life is about rooting out the sin, “pruning the branches that don’t bare fruit” so to speak.  And the more I think about it, the more I have to acknowledge that this is a daily task.  Opportunities for sin to gain ground happen every day.

The other thing that John Owen emphatically writes about here is that it is simply not possible for us to mortify our sins ourselves.  We can only do it with the help of the Spirit.  I’m looking forward to reading more about that.

I don’t want to be one of those people who stands on the side of the road, holding a sign.  My purpose in writing this blog isn’t to try to convince you to be or to do something that God isn’t calling you to be or do in your heart already.  This blog is about my own journey in faith and my thoughts about things the books and scriptures I read.  And I say this because when people start talking about sin, its easy to tune them out.  We want to read about God’s love, but when we really start getting down into the nuts and bolts of our sinful nature, many of us aren’t willing or ready to have an honest discussion.  There are parts of the bible and God’s word that I’m not ready for yet, and that’s okay.  We all have to take our own journey, but I’m so grateful and thankful to all of you for being a part of mine.

God bless,

Meredith