Thursday, 14 March 2013

Turning Life Inside OUt and Upside Down - Part II

21 So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me. 22 For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; 23 but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. 24 What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? 25 Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!

So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God’s law, but in my sinful nature[a] a slave to the law of sin.  Romans 7:21-25

As with Part I this blog is based on the book Relationships – a mess worth making by Paul Tripp.  As is his style Tripp never lets up in driving home the point that at the heart of most of our problems is our heart. (forgive the play on words).  When the holiness of God is not your personal standard of what is good, true, and right, you will always set yourself up as that standard.”

The book of John, chapter 13, verses 34-35 says, “A new command I give you, love one another.  As I have loved you so you must love one another.  By this all men will know that you are my disciples.” God’s standard is to love as He loves us.

Unfortunately Tripp is quick to point out the “six S’s’ that tend to get in the way of accepting God’s standards as our own.

1.    Self-sufficiency – we reject God, believing we do not need Him, we are not dependent on Him.

2.    Self-righteous – we either accept God’s standards by which to live our lives or our own, there is nothing in between.  We become highly critical of others and have an inflated view of ourselves.

3.    Self-satisfaction – when we believe that we can find satisfaction and fulfillment outside of God then people in our lives become a means to achieving our happiness or an obstacle preventing our happiness.

4.    Self-taught – when we become our own source for truth and wisdom we no longer have a teachable spirit, nor are we humble.  We believe we have nothing to learn from others.

5.    Self-rule – either God rules our lives or we do.  When we rule our lives other people become our subjects.  We attempt to control others lives or we criticize them in an attempt to get our “needs” met.

6.    Self-centeredness – we will always worship something because God designed us to be worshippers.  We will either worship the Creator or the creation.

If or when we are struggling in our relationship with our spouse it is very likely that we have fallen victim to one or more of the six S’s. 

Tuesday, 12 March 2013

LFT and the Power of Prayer

I know I have written on anger before, but as one who was somewhat detached from the feelings that anger can manifest.  Who am I kidding?

This is an era when many of us are defined by some letters of the alphabet, i.e. ADD, ADHD, OC, etc. I was comforted when I learned that I too had a clinical reason for my more recent unChristlike behaviors.  I suffer from LFT, better known as low frustration tolerance. 

I need only to look back at my behavior over the past several months to realize that, like it or not, there are times when I worship my need for calm, my need for routine, my tranquility, my desire that things go smoothly, and my dislike for chaos. I define chaos as anything that doesn’t go according the “kingdom of me.”

Not that misery loves company but I am of the opinion that many, many people suffer from this malady.  Though I prefer LFT, it is better known in other circles as self-centeredness.

The reality is that I have a worship problem.  Intellectually I want to worship God and God alone but my heart is in obvious rebellion.  When my routine gets disrupted I get frustrated; when I expect things to go one way and they go another I get irritated; when someone behaves in a way that challenges my world view I get agitated.  When I allow external events to control my sinful human nature such that I behave in an unChristlike way, I have put something or someone else on the throne of my life.

If you Google “cause of anger” you will find a plethora of possible causes listed.  What you probably won’t find is “self-centeredness”.  The book of James, chapter four, verses one and two suggests that the reason we quarrel and fight (i.e. display anger) is because we don’t have our desires met.

There is something inside of me that bristles at the thought that I would worship anything or anyone but God.  However when I let external circumstances control my behavior that is just what I am doing.

Faced with the prospects of entering a time of chaos, my wife and I are learning to pray that God would rule our hearts and not let circumstances dictate how we respond.    Awareness o four need and dependence on Him during times of chaos puts Him at the center and creates calm in the middle of the storm.  But like Peter the moment we take our eyes off Him we see the wind and waves and start to sink.