It's interesting what goes through my head on a daily basis. Work, home, God, people, friends, frustrations, family, all these things have meanings that really affect how I act, think, talk, react, and live. Recently my pastor tweeted:
This led me to this post, which I hope will again renew my Bible reading and Christian living. I thank God I'm saved by grace, because I'm not cutting it in the "religious works" column. I mean, let's look at the list I created above of things that have meaning in my life, and notice the order in which I typed them:
2. Home (which could be family)
6. Frustrations (which could be foes)
7. Family (again because "home" didn't really feel as connected as "family" should be)
Are you kidding me that I put "work" first? I mean, my employer would probably like that I'm consistently thinking about my duties and working hard, but even they would say that it's not very good "work/life balance", which is a term we use to say, "we make sure to balance life and work evenly." But more importantly, I thought of that over God and family? What in the world is wrong with me? If I was going to list this on some "spiritual scale" I'd have to list God, Home, People, then maybe work. I'm not even really concerned that it's work first, more that it's NOT God, or at least Home. I mean, even non-Christian people would say home or family is more important than work.
Last year in July I was renewed to be a better spiritual leader in my family's (specifically kids') lives because of my uncle's encouragement to have a family devotional time. And, while that lasted a little while, it didn't last even a year and we completely neglected the Bible for the most part after that. I'm raising two boys in a desperate time, and I'm not even leading them in the truth of scripture? WHAT IS WRONG WITH ME? I continue to battle my anger over losing my job with the county, and yet that's the plan God had for me at that time. And I don't turn that anger over to Him until I get so angry I literally scream with frustration because of my complete failure in that pursuit. My point is, there are so many issues to address in my life and I turn none of them over to God. WHY NOT?!?!?
Well, the answer is because of what Lance said. I'm not listening to Christian thoughts. Specifically, I'm not listening to the Words of God. I'm not in the Bible studying. I'm not praying, at least not more than a simple prayer with my kids at night. I'm not involved in church. I don't surround myself with Christian friends. I'm a mess. I claim Christ, and yet no one would believe that I'm His child. My anger rules me. My frustrations control my every thought. I focus on what I can not control because I think I would do things better than most. I'm driven by what's not fair or right or correct because I demand it be that way and hate that I can't make it so. WELL, LIFE ISN'T FAIR BURCH. And frankly, neither is God. I mean, if God was fair he'd kill me and send me to hell for eternity because I sin against Him daily. If I have someone do something against me only a few times a year, I am disgusted with them. BUT, ALL of us fall short of the glory of God. I learned this confusing phrase as a kid but I still remember it today as the definition of sin. Sin is any want of conformity unto, or transgression of, the law of God. This is a truth which damns us all to hell, apart from Christ. We can not achieve Heaven on our own because one failure eliminates the required perfection. Once we've sinned just one time all hope in ourselves should be lost, at least in gaining Heaven apart from Christ. It's only thanks to Jesus' death, which paid the price of all our sin, a price tag of death and separation from God, that we have salvation if we believe. But, BECAUSE THAT'S HOW GOD AGREED IT WOULD WORK, He sent His perfect Son, Jesus, to be that payment, because perfection could not be held in the grave and Hell could not keep the Son of God contained.
Now, if you've read this blog over the years, you may recognize the
pattern of frustration I have with myself, and the fact that I go back
and forth, up and down, in my apparent spiritual life. But really I
want to assure you, there is no pattern of success; there is only a
pattern of failures and recognition of those failures, which could be argued as a success based on our hopelessness to achieve success over sin while separated from God. Possibly, the recognition of our need is the only true success we can have here. I'll say it
again, I am thankful that it's grace that saves, not works, because I'm an
awful Christian. I have no religion; I care for no one. I claim Christ and God yet do not
live to prove Him. In fact, really the only evidence of transformation I
have is a peace that comes from the knowledge of grace, and the hope I have in a
God who is Holy and Unchanging, who promises to save all who believe in Him. I wish so badly that I
was the guy who lived how a Christian should live, transformed by the Spirit,
renewed by the gift of Jesus. But I struggle more than I can bare to live out
my faith. I conform to my surroundings and blend into the ways of those
I work with, play with, live with, interact with, and the things I
read, watch, hear, and all the things I immerse myself in. If these things
were Christian Thoughts, I'd be more successful as a child of God, but they
are the things of the world: people, places, things that are not how God
designed them, but of man.
Okay, but how do I change? How do I rid myself of the anger and frustrations that lead me to not live a life that is pleasing to God? How do I discipline myself to think on Christian things, rather than earthly things? How do I listen to the voice of God and the Holy Spirit and read the Bible, rather than being tempted by the damning voice of Satan and his demons, calling me to sin in anger, frustration, and hate? Honestly, I have answers to these questions but don't do the things I know I need to do. Instead, I surround myself with fools and sinners and temptations and anger, rather than fellow believers who can build me up and who can be built up by me. I need to worry less about my place in the world and more about my place in Heaven. This leads to the Bible and studying the things of God, Christian things. This leads away from the things of earth, the things that people tell me will make me happy, successful, satisfied. I must press on toward the upward call of Christ and hope in Him and listen to the Holy Spirit's prompting. I must commit to reading and studying the Word of God, to surrounding myself with the things of God, and to have Christian thoughts envelop my life. I must find Christian friends to be closer to, to encourage and be encourage by. I really need to work on my devotion through the Word of God, and know what God wants me to know from His own inspired words.