Subj: Re: Sooner or Later Date: 96-01-28
I miss all of you a great deal, and I am happy that your walk of faith is going well. I envy (on a feeling, not a spirit level) the opportunities you have on a daily basis to fellowship with believers of like mind as you, since I have had to walk out what I believe alone most of the time. Oh, I know that I have the phone, and I can call people. But it is not the same as face-to-face interaction and relationships. It seems to me that the meaningfulness of our lives is bound up with our ability to share it with others. After all, God is the ultimate meaning of the universe, and He, Himself, is the relationship- a Trinity of Love and continual mutual self-giving. God is love, and so if our lives are to have any meaning, our lives must be invested in others and in our relationships with them. Everything else is just a sideshow, peripheral to the main point. As John says, "He who lives in love lives in God, and God lives in him."
Actually, much of the time I deal with intense feelings of loneliness. Being surrounded by unbelievers. I find I can never really have a real friendship with any of them. I’m too aware of the difference between us spiritually–that Satan indwells the non-believer and Christ the believer. I don’t just mean t his at the theological level; deep inside I know that even when I am friendly with an unbeliever, there is very little in common between us. I know that they are incapable of the true divine love which indwells us; they are only capable of enlightened self-interest that may operate for my good if their good is also served. I don’t ever feel I can completely let down my guard, whether it is my mother or someone at work.
The strange thing is that I find the situation no different at various evangelical churches I have visited in the area. There seems to be a superficiality that pervades everyone there, as if they were afraid to talk about what really went on inside because they have no answer for how to deal with the thoughts and feelings.
So, I feel very alone. But the truth is that I am never really alone, since God Himself has taken up residence within me. The feelings are really nothing more than that–just feelings–and not the truth of my situation. Paul learned to be content whatever the circumstances (Philippians 4). So can I. The truth is that God has me just where He wants me–He has a work to per-form through me and is doing just that as long as I remain in right believing about my circumstances.
You mention how you feel more guilt and shame now that you’ve been walking as a Christian for a while. This may seem paradoxical, but that is really a good thing. It shows that God is increasing your sensitivity to sin and to the consequences of sin in your life. We need to feel the effects of what we have done, both for ourselves and for others. We ought to feel ashamed of what we have done; we have sinned and our lives were offensive to God and harmful to others. But Satan would tempt us to believe that it is ourselves, rather than our actions, for which we ought to be ashamed. If we fall into this trap, Satan will run our lives through this sense of false shame almost as if we had never become believers. So make the connection between the shame and your actions, not between the shame and yourself. You are only a neutral vessel through whom Satan expressed his evil actions, for which we are rightly ashamed. But we are not to be ashamed of ourselves as if the vessel could be bad and shameful in itself.
Now, don’t worry about what you’re supposed to be doing. You are not responsible to figure that all out. After all, it is God who has taken responsibility to live His life through you, and He will do whatever He pleases through you at just the right time. Solomon says that "the steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord. How, then, can anyone understand his own way?" God is directing your life, even though you can hardly see the next step in front of you.
What is hard is that we can’t control what God is doing with our lives; we just have to trust, despite our feelings of insecurity. It’s like riding the wave in the ocean; you have no control, and you just have to let the wave carry you. Now if we accept this powerlessness over God’s wave, we can begin to have fun with it: where is God going to lead us now? But this wave is not a wave of feeling or emotion. So don’t expect to feel like God is living through you and directing your life because most of the time it won’t feel like that.
Now you don’t need to merely hope that He is right there with you because He has said, "I will never leave you nor forsake you" (Hebrews 13:5; Deuteronomy 31:6). Paul said that nothing can serparate us from the love of God (Romans 8:39)–we dwell in eternal indissoluable union with Him (1 Corinthians 6:17) and what God has joined together no man can put asunder. So Christ is always present within us and we need not doubt it. But the thoughts and feelings of doubt will come, and they come as opportunities to strengthen our faith, to reaffirm the decision of faith we made when we accepted Christ. Every time we overcome the doubt through reaffirming the truth through faith, our faith gets a little stronger and the doubt is overcome.
Well I hope to see you next weekend!
Subj: Just a note
Date: 96-03-12 20:47:43 EST From: CUZZMAN
How are you doing with your new computer…must be fun. Been reading Isaiah lately…couple questions…when Isaiah talks of the Lord laying the earth to waste…is he talking of the second coming or was there a mass destruction in that period of time? Also, this is not a question just a note..l noticed in Isaiah 14:12 that this is a reference to Satan and also in the notes (NIV Study) it says that "morning star" the Hebrew expression for this is translated "Lucifer" in the Latin Vulgate. I just thought this was interesting…
You may be as surprised as I am that I have not been writing you with more questions…this is not to say I don’t have them. It just seems that each time I have a question, I get the answer pretty soon after. This may be because I have been able to wake up reading the Bible and go to bed reading the Bible. I get the feeling that God is leading me through this delicately because I tend to be curious and a little over-analytical. For a short period I was thinking into things way too much..as if anything I thought was going to change His plans..too many questions of why…and even second-guessing situations and His purpose for them…
I wrote to you awhile ago and said that I had a clearer realization of my feelings the week before I was saved and my feelings immediately following.
My whole feeling prior to my confession of faith was not that of accepting Christ as Him living through me, but He living with me at my convenience and when I needed him….you know, like a buddy. I was thinking of it as a "feather in the cap." I am a good person …work hard…love my family…now let’s top it off with a good religious man on that resume. Jesus would just be another piece of the pie in my life. Now I would be complete, thinking of Him as just the last ingredient to my wonderful life.
Although at the conference I was taught that we were just containers and that we would have to give up ourselves as selves, I guess I thought I could keep myself and have Him around as a friend in need.
There has never been anything so clear to me and so distinct as when I made my profession of faith: God immediately wiped out any notion of mine that I was going to be able to walk with His Son and still have any self-for-self in me. It was either I take and accept Him fully or don’t even bother…This is the moment in the testimony when I said I felt a fullness…Him…purely Him and nothing else…what a beautiful feeling. I guess some people don’t feel anything when they’re saved…l’m sure this does happen…I think God did this to me just to make sure I would start out on the right foot.
It was interesting how I came to this conclusion only now when it should have been so clear-cut then. My only conclusion is that Satan didn’t want me to have confidence that he was no longer running my life and had been replaced by the Spirit of Christ…Sorry, Satan, you lose….
See ya soon. Chris:-)
Subj: Re: Just a note
Date: 96-03-17 18:55:08 EST
From: CUZZMAN To: BBurrowes
We read from Norman’s Who Am I again today and had a wonderful discussion (Chapters 10-12). We were discussing that self-improvement is both a sin and an impossibility. When Joe referred us to Norman’s The Key to Everything, I found something that really hit home with me. I came to realize that Jesus was a man and had the same temptations as man. Ultimately, the power came from His Father and He, like us, had to rely on Him.
This verse says it all to me about our total reliance on Him. Notice what Jesus said each time He was challenged on the source of His power to work miracles or on His authority to say what He did: every time He answered, "The Son can do nothing of Himself." In other words, His basic self-consciousness as a human was the awareness of His nothingness in Himself!
Talk to you later, Brett. We are all thinking of you and your efforts with your dissertation.
More Articles from The Intercessor, Vol 12 No 3
- Editor’s Note
- To Think About…Faith
- Rethinking the 12 Steps
- Moments with Meryl
- How Do You See?
- A Look at a Book
- 1996 British Easter Conference Report
- The Letter to the Romans
- Tape Talk
- Excerpts from The Intercession of Rees Howells
- Questions & Answers
- The Mailbox
- When Quiet Equals Judment
- 1996 Annual Business Report
- Youth "Business"
- Be Yourself
- Words to Live By…