Monday, July 16, 2012

The Enemy's Brilliant Plan

Someone recently told me of an "addiction" they have. They wanted help from me. As I've processed the situation a bit, I have wondered how this person knows it's an addiction. I did some reading recently that suggested that we often call things addictions prematurely. I'm not trained or experienced enough to know the proper definitions...but I have noticed something.

A lot of people I know (cough, cough, myself included, cough, cough) have a tendency to focus more on the specific sin issues that we struggle with, than on getting to know the One who has provided victory over sin for those who place their faith in Him. I'm not suggesting that we shouldn't pursue holiness and address the temptations and failures in our lives. However, we have to be careful that we don't spend so much time focusing on these "particular" sin issues that they become an idol. The battle against these weak points needs to be accompanied by a holistic approach to sanctification and holiness.

Here are a few ways I've seen this play out.

Accountability - If people who are holding me accountable are always asking me about whether I "did" or "didn't do" something, rather than asking me about the real state of my relationship with God, my life becomes about religious duty. Sure, some of the do's and dont's are good indicators, but the push has got to be for me to fix my eyes on Jesus - not just to do or not do. I can read my Bible, "not" sin in my particular areas of weakness, and pray, and still have a non-existent relationship with God.

Focus - I've also noticed how quickly we can focus on one particular sin issue in our lives to the point that we let our guard down in other areas. The person to whom I referred earlier - if this person is stuck focusing ONLY on his/her particular sin issue, they leave themselves vulnerable for attack in other areas. This is why I'm concerned about a premature title of "addiction". I've experienced the same in my own life - where you get to the end of a day and are praising God that you succeeded in one particular area that is a constant struggle, but suddenly realize that in your amazing, super-human, almost Godlike focus on succeeding in your fight against it, you have fallen short in many others.

If my attempts to become free from sin that enslaves are not properly focused, I can become a slave to a false gospel - one that depends on me, rather than the one who has already given me victory in His name!

I need to continue to fix my eyes on Jesus. Thankfully, God's grace is sufficient!

As a matter of chat...

Can you relate to this at all? Have you ever experienced it? Why is it so easy for us to lose focus? Are there areas where a "seemingly good" focus has actually distracted you from what really matters to God? Is it fair to say that we can be "too focused" on defeating a sin area in our life?

Thursday, July 12, 2012

I "Pray" That...

"God, I pray that..."

What does that mean?

For me, that phrase actually represents a lack of faith. In Jesus' example of prayer it was pretty clear what He was praying for. For example:

- Holy is your name..
- Your kingdom come...
- Give us...
- Forgive we forgive
- Lead us not...but deliver us

Do you see what I mean? There is not wishy-washy language. He's talking to his Father, telling Him things directly, and asking Him things pretty bluntly.

Maybe it's like this:

"God, 'I pray that' you would help me not to sin."


"God, forbid me from sinning."

I can't judge anyone's heart or prayers, but the first one (something similar to what I often pray) could be translated "God, I'm probably going to screw up big time today, and to be honest, it's not that big a deal to me. Maybe you could help me out by making life a little easier - or by making this whole "Christian" walk a little more attractive and a little less difficult".

If I'm at a place where I'm praying the second one, I'm likely at a place where I'm saying: "God, I recognize who you are, and I recognize who I am in light of your saving grace. Do whatever it takes to keep me on the paths of righteousness that you've called me to. I'm committed to obeying you no matter what the cost. Help me."

Maybe my prayers need to be a little more direct - need a little more conviction. Maybe, I need to record my prayers and listen to the other bad habits I've fallen into.

What does "bless this food to my body" mean anyway? Probably not worth praying over a Whopper and fries...

As a matter of chat...

Are you missing out on God's blessing because you're not really asking for much, in faith? Do you pray with conviction? Is your mindset one of actually communicating with God? Or are you simply going through the motions of a cliche, "good work" because it's what you've always done? How would your prayers be different if you eliminated the phrase "I pray that..."?