Monday, February 26, 2007

P4E.012 Joy

"Physical circumstances are given by God to teach us spiritual lessons...Our every day "problems" are custom designed by God to reveal attitudes within our spirits."
Ken Nair - Life Partners

In my pursuit of Christ, I have to ask myself some important questions:

Is it possible that in every physical problem I face there is a correlative spiritual lesson to be learned?

Could it be that "trials" are meant to help me re-evaluate my ability to handle life?

Is it possible that the "physical circumstances" that confront me may reveal an attitude of self-sufficiency (pride)?

Are these problems really tests that God is providing for me to evaluate my quest for Christ-likeness?

Could it be that these every day "problems" are meant to help me to the humble realization that I'm weak and that I need a Saviour?

What should my attitude be when the next problem comes my way?

"Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing." James 1:2-4


Tuesday, February 20, 2007

P4E.011 The Flesh Out List

"The serious (Christian) man diligently searches out God's ways!"
Ken Nair - Life Partners

As a part of my search, I am compiling a list of the times when I feel weakest to falling to my flesh. What I mean is that there are physical circumstances when I fall prey to being angry, impatient, frustrated and/or other temptations that lead to sin (flesh). The reason it's important to identify these times is that they cause me to hurt the ones closest to me. If I'm to conquer my flesh, I need to pinpoint my own areas of weakness so that I can go to God for His strength at the very moment when I am weakest. I'd be interested to hear if yours matches mine and/or if you have others that you would add from your own experience. So, here goes:

I am prone to fall to my fleshly ways when I:

- am hot
- am cold
- am hungry
- am thirsty
- am tired
- am stressed out
- am sick
- am pressed for time (running late)
- am short on money
- have to wait
- have lost something
- am in pain
- make a mistake
- feel unprepared
- have to depend on someone else
- feel ignored
- feel like things aren't going my way
- am doing something that takes longer than I thought it would
- have an idea that's challenged
- experience unusual circumstances
- experience the same darn thing happen over and over again
- am wrongly accused
- am rightly accused
- am confused

Remember, the list is not the end. It is the means to identify moments when I'm weak and need to count on God's strength so that I don't do spiritual damage to those around me (or myself). Here's more:

I am prone to fall to my fleshly ways when I:

- am alone (they even have a saying for this one: 'you can gauge the character of a man by what he does when he's alone')
- have nothing to do (this one has a saying too: 'an idle mind is the devil's workshop')
- believe there is no hope
- have to take the blame when it's not my fault
- have to take the blame when it is my fault
- see (what appears to me to be) incompetence in others
- my directions are misunderstood or not followed (I thought my instructions were brilliant!)
- am driving (this is (or should be) on every guy's list)
- am driving and lost (I wouldn't think of asking for directions!)
- forget something (as in, I'm driving two blocks away from home and remember I left it at the house)
- am in a crowd of people (the last time I really 'fleshed out' was (ironically) at a Billy Graham Crusade)
- am inconvenienced
- see (what appears to me to be) an injustice
- am treated unfairly
- am at Holiday functions (I can't tell you how many I've ruined!)

What's on your list?

Peace, Kim

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

P4E.010 The Sincerity of the Pursuit of Christlikeness

The struggle with physical circumstances bringing on anger and resentment and bitterness that I spoke of in P4E.009 many times had to do with my marriage. Let me give you an idea of what can happen when you let go of "fairness" and "justice."

My wife and I were talking to a wife who asked the question: "OK, say my husband starts to understand what you're talking about. What would I see? What would that look like?" Our reply went something like this: "If your husband were a spiritual leader, he would exhibit the fruit of the spirit. If we look at Galations 5, that fruit is described as love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. If someone came up to you right now and asked you to describe your husband would you use any of these words to describe him?" In answer, she rolled her eyes. This is a typical response that we get when we talk of such things.

If we had answered that wife further, we would have also said, "Right, and he also would not be evidencing the deeds of the flesh which are immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, diputes, dissensions, factions, envying, drunkenness and carousing."

Well, I've had my own bouts with pornography (How about you guys?). I know a pastor who sold his Harley Davidson because he realized he was kneeling down every time he polished the chrome on it. We've ministered to husbands who were struggling with alcohol and/or drug addiction. My wife will vouch that I was one of the most contentious, angry men she's ever known. We're talking about husbands professing to be Christians, pastors and worship leaders and Bible study leaders. I'm not saying that we have to be saints. (Although I think sometimes our wives would (rightly) like us to be.) But, as my often quoted mentor, Ken Nair says, "It's not about being perfect, it's about the sincerity of the pursuit of Christlikeness."

Let me add something else that we hear from wives and girlfriends. They wish we weren't so self-righteous. They wish we weren't so defensive. They wish we would be more humble and teachable. That would mean acknowledging when we've been offensive (un-Christlike), apologizing for it and promising not to do it again. I believe that's Scriptural.

When we let go of "fairness" and "justice" we also let go of the question: "Well, what about her?" and focus on our own pursuit of Christ.

We like to do our own little survey and ask people how many families they know in which they would identify the husband/father as the spiritual leader. Let me clue you in on our survey. Ask yourself that question right now. The answer you gave is about what we hear. Very few. If you ask the children, they will almost inevitably answer "Mom is."

Would you like to join me in turning the tide, in becoming a spiritual leader, in changing the general perception, in pursuing Christ? Let's roll....

Your Ally in the Pursuit of Christlikeness, Kim

Monday, February 5, 2007


"You were a judge, but you knew no justice. You fought the law, but you couldn't fight God!"
Delta Spirit, "Crippler King"

"I never learn to count my blessings, I choose instead to dwell in my disasters..."
Ray LaMontagne, "Empty"

As follow-up to P4E.008, I'm compelled to discuss God's sovereignty in relation to our highly valued "fairness." There is a disconnect with us Believers when it comes to "fairness" and God's sovereignty. As Christians, we believe it to be our right, indeed our duty to uphold "fairness." But, Scripture is full circumstances that we might consider to be unfair. Consider Eve. She did not receive the command from God, yet she is blamed for the fall of man. Consider Cain. Nowhere does Scripture reveal to us why his sacrifice was not acceptable to God. Only that it wasn't. Abraham's first son was Ishmael. The blessing of God would normally be given to that first-born son. But, Scripture records that God blessed his second son, Isaac! How about Jacob? He stole his brother Esau's birthright, but later became Israel, the first of God's own people. Speaking of Jacob, what about that father-in-law of his? He treated Jacob pretty unfairly, didn't he? Joseph's story was not exactly the model of "fair." Then, there's the story of Job. Job's story may be the epitome of unfair. David was a terrible father, adulterer, murderer but also a man after God's own heart. There are many other Biblical events that, from the human perspective, might be considered unfair. The most notorious being what happened to Jesus Christ.

Would you, could you, find fault with God for allowing, even orchestrating, these seemingly unfair Biblical events? I strain against my worldly value of fairness, but eventually I acknowledge that I would not, could not, find fault with God's purposes. As Scripture says, it would be like the pot complaining to the potter about how it was made. Jesus said that God causes the sun to rise on the evil and the good and the rain to fall on the righteous and the unrighteous. In fact, throughout much of the"Sermon on the Mount" Jesus refutes our ideas about fairness and justice. God told Moses, "I will have mercy on whom I have mercy and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion."

Why do I dredge these ideas up? Because I've found that the source of much of my own bitterness, resentment and anger is that I want to blame God for the negative physical circumstances that invade my life. I've struggled mightily with the idea that I should "rejoice" when I encountered "various trials." I could not wrap my fleshly mind around "All things work together for good..." The overriding question that my flesh would raise would be "WHY?" And then, I simply let go of my sense of justice and fairness and with it went bitterness and resentment and anger....

Peace and Wisdom and Understanding be Yours, Kim