I Don’t Like Being Confronted (Part i)

I love being confronted. One of the things I like most is listening to a lecture and learning something new that is vital or hearing a sermon that allows the Holy Spirit to convict me. The confrontation that comes from this, whilst may be emotional and make me feel uncomfortable, is very good because it’s a blessing from God; it teaches me and makes me grow.

I have had a few conversations with Christians now where maybe I have been too rough with my choice of language, but whether I spoke in a bitter or sweet tone, they respond that they don’t like being confronted. Personally, I’m thinking great, they have heard the Holy Spirit and are now seeing their mistake, just like I have many times before. I really love that experience of becoming aware of the darkness within but also having that light to cling onto, so that I may strengthen. But unfortunately, this is (in my experiences) usually not what my brethren are thinking. They are thinking “I do not like being confronted, because I don’t want/need to be”.

Okay, let’s back it up a bit here. As Christians we are followers of Christ. Which means putting off our old self and looking towards the prize which is [in] Jesus Christ (Luke 9:23, Gal 2:20, Phil 3:14). A part of our process which many pastors (especially those Lutheran ones) have repeatedly taught is that we are to realise our sin and then through God become renewed, strengthened, made holy etc. And that is how we become more like Christ, Amen? It concerns me if a brother or sister after a lengthy discussion says ‘I do not like being confronted’, because it tells me that their focus is not on Christ and the life that He gives, but on them wanting to hide away their faults.

The Holy Spirit convicts us. And we need it.
“And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed. But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God.”
John 3:19-21

We are beings who have fallen short of God and constantly struggle to maintain good behaviour. To compare light with dark you can see the contrast between each. God is a light unto our lives (John 8:12) and in result He shows us where the dark spots are in our lives and ourselves. Interestingly enough, one of the readings for today Good Friday, is Hebrews 10:16-25 which helps us understand this:
“This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, says the Lord: I will put my laws in their hearts, and I will write them on their minds,” he also adds, “I will remember their sins and their lawless deeds no more.”
Where there is forgiveness of these, there is no longer any offering for sin. Therefore, my friends, since we have confidence to enter the sanctuary by the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain (that is, through his flesh), and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us approach with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.
Let us hold fast to the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who has promised is faithful.
And let us consider how to provoke one another to love and good deeds, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”

The most important thing for my argument I want to point here is the first verse, “I will put my laws in their hearts, and I will write them on their minds”. For when people are revealed to the truth of Christ this collides with their “in-built” knowledge of the law and they instantly understand their sin and see the need for Christ. So to say that you don’t want or need to be confronted, is to say you do not want to confess that you are or have been a sinful being who needs Christ.

The second part I want to point out, is the encouragement for faith and hope. If we see we have struggles and faults, we are to have faith and assurance that Christ has made us clean in His death and resurrection. Amen. And we do not need to continue in guilt for we have hope that God may guide us onto the right path.

I know confrontation is hard, but it is necessary. I know sometimes brethren don’t take the right approach to talk about it, but the truth still remains. We need confrontation and conviction. We need to see the darkness, the sin, so that we may strive towards the light.

In the follow up to this I will write up a short discussion on how we can approach (and/or confront) Christians and non-Christians peacefully, so that they may learn.

May the Lord bless you and keep you!

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I Shall Not Want

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And the Lord has perfect timing again.

There is something wrong with the first post. It is very well and fine to encourage each other in grace, but what is grace, where does grace from?

The definition in this context is “(in Christian belief) the free and unmerited favour of God, as manifested in the salvation of sinners and the bestowal of blessings.a divinely given talent or blessing.”

Grace is a gift given to us. Unmerited, in other words, undeserved. If this is given to us, then surely we were not the original owners or creators. So where does this gift come from? It comes from God. Through His grace we have been brought to repentance and gifted salvation. Take note, HIS GRACE. Not ours. This is not by our doing, but God’s. So if it is Him who is taking control, then it is He who knows the result, it is He who guides us. Amen. Therefore what we want is not important, it’s what HE, God the Almighty wants. He’s our Creator! He creates our path!

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.
Psalm 23:1-3

Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
And lean not on your own understanding;
In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He shall direct your paths.

Proverbs 3:5-6

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.
Eph 2:8-9

And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to HIS PURPOSE.
Roman 8:28

We do not live through His Grace for our purpose, for our wants, but for His purpose!

For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.
Gal 1:10

It is about living for Him!

Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand.
Proverbs 19:21

The Way of the Lord

Note: I didn’t realise Baruch was only RC Canon, so it’s being used here just as a source to emphasise the message given in the other passages.

December 6th
The Second Sunday of Advent
Today’s reading there was a choice between Malachi 3:1-4 and Baruch 5:1-9. I didn’t know which one to choose so I went forth with the other readings to see what common themes there were. The next three readings were LUke 1:68-79, Philippians 1:3-11 & Luke 3:1-6.

When reading Philippians I found that the text was very similar to that of 1 Thessalonions 3:9-13 which was a reading previous in the week about encouraging each other of growth in the Lord, and also linked to the discussion of discernment in Malachi 3:18 (from a previous reading). Between all these 3 passages I found a common message, that we must go follow the way of the Lord.

“By the tender mercy of our God, the dawn from on high will break upon us, to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.” Luke 1:78-79
“And this is my prayer, that your love may overflow more and more with knowledge and full insight to help you to determine what is best, so that in the day of Christ you may be pure and blameless, having produced the harvest of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ for the glory and praise of God.” Phil 1:9-11
“…as it is written in the book of the words of the prophet Isaiah, “The voice of one crying out in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.
Every valley shall be filled, and every mountain and hill shall be made low, and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough ways made smooth; and all flesh shall see the salvation of God.'” Luke 3:4-6

From here I looked at both Baruch and Malachi and found that Baruch, despite being additional to the Protestant Bible, fitted perfectly for this theme of following God’s path.
“Arise, O Jerusalem, stand upon the height; look toward the east, and see your children gathered from west and east at the word of the Holy One, rejoicing that God has remembered them.
For they went out from you on foot, led away by their enemies; but God will bring them back to you, carried in glory, as on a royal throne. For God has ordered that every high mountain and the everlasting hills be made low and the valleys filled up, to make level ground, so that Israel may walk safely in the glory of God.
The woods and every fragrant tree have shaded Israel at God’s command.
For God will lead Israel with joy, in the light of his glory, with the mercy and righteousness that come from him.” Baruch 5:5-9

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I’ve taken “to make level ground” from Baruch literally and given an absolute flat horizon. I’ve also darkened the middle section of the land to emphasise a ‘path’ as per the theme. The text overlayed comes from the first Luke reading, Philippians and Baruch, regarding what being on that path is about.

Mixed media (watercolour, photo and digital editing)
2015

The Labyrinth

November 30th
The readings are Psalm 90, Numbers 17:1-11 & 2 Peter 3. There was one theme in particular that stood out in all texts, and it was ‘growth’.

“You carry them away like a flood;
They are like a sleep.
In the morning they are like grass which grows up:
In the morning it flourishes and grows up;
In the evening it is cut down and withers.” (Psalm 90:5-6)

“Now it came to pass on the next day that Moses went into the tabernacle of witness, and behold, the rod of Aaron, of the house of Levi, had sprouted and put forth buds, had produced blossoms and yielded ripe almonds. Then Moses brought out all the rods from before the Lord to all the children of Israel; and they looked, and each man took his rod.” (Numbers 17:8-9)

“You therefore, beloved, since you know this beforehand, beware lest you also fall from your own steadfastness, being led away with the error of the wicked; but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” (2 Peter 3:17-18)

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I researched some symbols that represented growth and the labyrinth is what caught my eye.
It not only represents spiritual growth but wholeness, connection to the source, eternal freedom and is also a metaphor for one’s journey bringing forth the “hidden truths in the process”. This last meaning in particular I liked because it also relates back to v8 of Psalm 90: “You have set our iniquities before You, Our secret sins in the light of Your countenance.”

I chose the cross because the Christian takes their journey through Christ Jesus.

Black felt pen
2015

Keep Your Faith

I have been busy in the past couple of weeks with end of semester. I’m finally back around to doing Music Monday!

 

Ain’t about how fast I get there/
Ain’t about what’s waiting on the other side/
It’s the climb

‘Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.’-– Isaiah 41:10

The Lord will keep your going out and your coming in from this time forth and forevermore.’ – Psalm 121:8

And Jesus answered them, “Have faith in God. Truly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and thrown into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says will come to pass, it will be done for him. Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.’ – Mark 11:22-24

For nothing will be impossible with God.’ – Luke 1:37

You’ve Got the Love

Welcome to the first post on this blog. Future accounts will have a less personal approach but today’s blog is inspired by recent events in my life, although from studying what I need to do, I hope others will learn something out of this too.

Last week I lost a friend. And the strange thing is this isn’t the first time this has happened with this person. I’m not going to into great personal detail, but I don’t want you also thinking the other party is a terrible person. We both played roles in the lead up to this and in the end there was confusion and lying, I lost my temper and they removed contact from me. The bottom line is, the relationship has been lost and hurts to deal with.

I am quite older than I was when this happened the first time, also my knowledge in Christ is much deeper therefore my approach is not going to be similar to that of the past. I need to find a way to get over this hurt and confusion but to do it in a way that leads me back to Christ. Inspired by a post here http://simplyheavenlyfood.tumblr.com/post/23155767773/if-love-never-fails-does-that-mean-isnt-possible I need to understand what love is, how it was used, how it was abused or even if it was there at all?
My next step is to understand and apply forgiveness; why should I forgive, am I forgiven, how do we carry out that action. This then relates back to what we’re doing for Christ in our actions. Is it possible to make amends? Do I have fellowship? And lastly where am I going to go with this experience.

First Corinthians 13:4-7 explains

“Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.”

Already I have my failed my friend (or ex friend) because I selfishly tried to remove myself from the suffering and with my words I was not kind. I was proud (puffed up), I was rude and gave in to a lack of self-control. While I may have been speaking of true things, it was in an attitude that was not acceptable and by no means loving. After promises I had made as a friend, doing this I became a hypocrite. The love which I had promise, I abused, and in the end I also abused God’s own creation.

So what about the other party? Were they acting in a loving manner? I pray that they are too learning from this experience and the main reason behind my irrational behaviour was because they did not seem loving. I will spare the details but it is only fair to say we both had done wrongs here. But despite the dishonesty (and whatever lacking virtue) I should have remained gracious and gave rather than take and abuse. What else is love? Well we know God is love (1 John 4:8) and what is the greatest act He did for us? He died to forgive our sins. So in forgiveness we also show and give love.
I have forgiven my friend. Has my friend forgiven me? I am not sure, but even so, it doesn’t matter, because Christ has already given me forgiveness and a gift from God triumphs anything that any other human can provide. I may not be on good terms with them right now but even if I don’t receive graciousness from them, I still have God to cling to. In the link above it also discusses whether the love you have for someone is temporary (infatuation or selfishness) or is actual love (maybe even unconditional love). During my breakup I was not showing acts of love, but when the Spirit moved through me days later I realised I do in fact still love this person – and I don’t necessarily mean romantic here but just in a friendship/sisterly way. That even though despite the confusion and hurt I can still see how great this person is and has been to me. For a little extra (not a long read) on forgiveness visit here http://www.simplyheavenlyfood.com/2014/07/word-of-day-july-19-2014.html?utm_source=dlvr.it&utm_medium=tumblr

So usually without a religious perspective when someone has a friendship breakup one of their first ideas is to make amends with someone, which I guess usually just means asking for another chance in order to try to be a better friend, but let’s look at what amends actually means. It means:

               “Compensate or make up for a wrongdoing.”

Let’s back it up a little. Does that mean to make amends we will be partaking in actions in order to earn forgiveness of another or to give something to satisfy them? As Christians can we do that? Well in my perspective you shouldn’t and can’t. Because what’s the first thing we know about forgiveness? It’s a gift! We don’t earn forgiveness, and we can’t win someone else’s heart onto our side. We work through faith. Our actions can help but in the case of forgiveness and faith, they do not work (Ephesians 2:4-10). But you also can’t promise anyone anything good that is 100%. Sometimes I will tell my best friend I love them unconditionally, but only 98% of the time because as a human I am incapable of giving such an abundant gift, only God can. We can’t promise an amends and live up to it 100%, I can’t. So here I start another smaller walk within my large journey with Christ, I take up another challenge that tests my faith. But just because I cannot make it up to them, does not mean I do not encourage fellowship.

As followers of Christ our best friendships should have a strong foundation in fellowship, it helps us not be distracted. That is a basic understanding. This other blog goes into further detail of fellowship and examples from the early church http://redeeminglamb.blogspot.com.au/2014/08/fellowship.html. This step I right now unfortunately cannot complete due to the other party not speaking, but I have experiences from other friendships, where we may not have agreed on things, even doctrinal/spiritual matters but after forgiving we were still able to keep our fellowship. After all it is what we share as a church for the glory of God. Even I, sharing this blog now is a means of fellowship because I am communicating and discussing with you about lessons to learn as a Christian. If you have fellowship and have a God-based relationship rather than an emotional one, there are high chances your friendship will heal and thoroughly. And even though you cannot make great promises you can still show good actions and act lovingly towards each other.

With God, I can get through this storm. Despite the hurt (and even regret that I’m battling with) I can still see ahead. With my faith in God and asking Him to take control of my emotions and put me on the path where He wants me to be, I do not live in fear, despite the lack of my close friend. I am going to take this experience and remember what I learnt, so that Christ shall help me strengthen my self-control and understand how to be gracious towards friends in future. My focus now is to be more like Christ with my actions in regards to love. I’m not perfect but I must do my best, this event has been a wakeup call to me. I definitely had faith, but through conversation and the words I was saying, I was dead. But Christ has made me alive. I may have lost a friend but with Christ I will always have a loving relationship. I must focus my sights on Him.

“My one purpose in life is to help people find a personal relationship with God, which, I believe, comes through knowing Christ.” — Billy Graham

“No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:37-39

“A man’s heart plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps.” Proverbs 16:9

May the Lord bless you and keep you.
Soli Deo Gloria.