Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Seven Steps to Victory but What if I Stumble?

I wrote most of this in 2003, just updated it some and deleted things I’ve already shared….

“The greatest single cause of Atheism in the world today…is Christians…who acknowledge Jesus with their lips and then walk out the door and deny Him by their lifestyle…THAT is what an unbelieving world, simply finds unbelievable!”. Words spoken in the beginning of the D.C. Talk song, “What If I Stumble”

As many of my friends already know, I ‘m a big fan of the Christian contemporary group, D.C. Talk. Their songs have meaning and come right from the Bible. D.C. Talk was made up of three guys; Toby McKeehan better known these days as TobyMac  Michael Tait and Kevin Max This article is starting from the subject of a D.C. Talk song called, “What if I Stumble?” It is on their album, “Jesus Freak”. I’ve heard this song on the radio in the car only once or twice. However, they don’t play the most thought provoking part of the song, the part I put above: The chorus goes:
What if I stumble, what if I fall?
What if I lose my step and I make fools of us all
Will the love continue?
When my walk becomes a crawl
What if I stumble, and what if I fall?

Step One: Strive for an even “Closer Walk”!

Bob found some of my wonderful Catherine Marshall books on E-bay. Catherine Marshall’s second husband (after Dr Peter Marshall died in 1949) Leonard LeSourd, compiled one of my favorite books of Catherine’s from her journals after her death in 1983. It’s called “A Closer Walk”. The words to this great hymn are in the beginning of the book: “I am weak but Thou art strong, Jesus keep me from all wrong; I’ll be satisfied as long, As I walk, Dear Lord, close to Thee. Just a closer walk with Thee, Grant it Jesus, if you please; Daily walking close to Thee, Let it be, Dear Lord, let it be.” In the intro to the chapter, “Dealing with a Major Mistake” (it was a book Catherine never finished); Leonard writes; “There is a misconception in the minds of many believers that successful communicators of the faith speak from some Mt. Olympus of perfection-……Not true. Those most used of God often have struggled or are struggling with one or more major weaknesses. It is often just because of a weakness that these people have much to share.” Then later in the intro to this chapter; “In her journals she (Catherine) was ruthless with herself. The following excerpts indicate how hard she struggled to overcome certain weaknesses, how seriously she took the matter of our need to grow spiritually.” That is my purpose with all my writing, to encourage us all to “grow spiritually” and I believe as we do, God gives us more grace to face the Devil’s tricks and temptations.

Step Two: Know God loves you, “No matter what!”
Eternal Security…

When I was debating with my Catholic friend in 2002 about our different theology, a big part of that debate was: Eternal Security. I kept saying to Sandy, someone who seems to believe and then “falls away” was most likely never saved in the first place. The thought that you could lose your salvation because of something you do, makes it “no longer grace” but works. (Rom. 11:6) Let me add here something more I didn’t say to Sandy: Heaven will be EMPTY if going there relies at all on our works! “All our righteousness is as filthy rags.”(Isa. 64:6) The Devil’s job would be sooo easy if all he had to do was get us to sin (which sin?) and then we’d be his again, not to mention what that says of God’s (Indian-giver) character. This post is about how the Devil tries to ruin a Christian’s testimony, but once they are God’s they’re His forever. Unfortunately many Christian’s testimonies have been ruined: the good news is, if they were truly “born again” they can’t lose their salvation and with Christ there is continuing forgiveness. They may have lost their testimony but they can’t lose their salvation. However, I hope that this blog will encourage others to NOT give in to temptation, to stand against the Devil, keep your good testimony! “Blessed is the man (or woman) that endureth temptation…” (James 1:12) Fight the good fight and there will be laid up for you a “crown of righteousness” that Christ will give you one day. (2 Timothy 4:7-8) I don’t know about you but I also hope to hear Him say, “Well done my good and faithful servant.” (Matt.25:23)

Step three: Know Your Enemy by Studying God's Word!

As I've said before, God speaks to me in so many unusual ways. I went to write one morning in 2001. Back then our T.V. was in the same room as the computer. My sons (Teddy and Ian), then 10 & 7 , were watching one of their favorite T.V. shows before we started school: “Starship Troopers”, it’s a futuristic show about earth being in a war against giant alien bugs! Gross! So the show starts and one of the characters is narrating, he says, “The first rule of war is: Know your enemy.” “Hey, that’s true!” I said, “Teddy, who is our enemy?” Teddy responded correctly, “The Devil.”
There’s so much written in the Bible and everywhere about Satan, the Devil or “that serpent of old” Here's a couple interesting and humorous lyrics,

"Please allow me to introduce myself, I'm a man of wealth and taste, I've been around for a long, long year, Stole many a man's soul and fate…." Mick Jagger & Keith Richards (The Rolling Stones, "Sympathy for the Devil")

“Somebody's knockin' Should I let him in? Lord it's the Devil would you look at him, I've heard about him but I never dreamed he'd have blue eyes and blue jeans….” TERRI GIBBS

Obviously the person at the door is not the devil but, did he perhaps orchestrate this meeting? Maybe, lets not be “ignorant of his devices” (2 Corinthians 2:11)It makes me think of the conversation God had with Cain before he killed his brother; “….sin crouches at your door; its desire is for you, but you must master it.” Genesis 4:7 But Cain DID NOT "master it"!

In his sermon “Our Friend, the Enemy” Peter Marshall is talking about C.S. Lewis’ “The Screwtape Letters”: “But underneath the blithe, sparkling fa├žade of the book, there are deep philosophical and spiritual insights. Mr. Lewis wrote “The Screwtape Letters” not just as a humorous exercise, but for a reason. He had important things to say: That there is a Dark Power in our world…That this Evil Power has intelligence and wit…was created by God…was once good…and went wrong. That on this earth there is a war to the finish between God and this Evil Power…That we human beings are never so much in danger, or please the Evil Power so much, as when we do not believe he exists, or refuse to take him seriously.” If you never are bothered by him, it maybe because he doesn’t see you as much of a threat.

But the best thing to read to learn about Satan is the Bible, of course!

Now when the tempter came to Him, he said, “If You are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread.”But He answered and said, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.’” Matthew 4:3-4

The apostle Paul wrote; “Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.

Stand therefore, (1) having girded your waist with truth, (2) having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and (3) having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; above all, (4) taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. (5) And take the helmet of salvation, and (6) the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God; (7) praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints—and for me, that utterance may be given to me, that I may open my mouth boldly to make known the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains; that in it I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak.” Ephesians 6: 10-20

Step Four: Know Yourself!

I’ve already said too much about myself. Am I too transparent? I heard a speaker at the “Women of Faith” conference say something like, “It’s kinda scary, blogging, because you’re putting yourself out there…” I remember thinking, “Wow, I guess I’m doing it right then!” I have a T-shirt I got around this time one year, there’s a heart on the sleeve and it says, “I wear my heart on my sleeve” Here’s a good definition for that saying I found on Yahoo:
“To be extremely transparent, open, or forthright about one's emotions.”

I clearly have issues, yes especially with men, I’ve had/have “Daddy” issues- I doubt if I know a woman who doesn’t. I had a book fall off my bedside table today. I was getting a different one when they all fell down! This happens to me quite frequently, maybe I should post a sign, "Danger: Watch out for falling books!" : -) Hmmmmm Can I start reading this book again without crying? No. It’s called “Always Daddy’s Girl: Understanding Your Father’s Impact On Who You Are” by H. Norman Wright. Being aware of my problems has made me more attuned to the things Satan tries to tempt me with.

Step Five: Humble Yourself!

In her book, “Lord, Is It Warfare? Teach Me To Stand” Kay Arthur goes into the passage that refers to Satan in Ezekiel 28. Verse 2 says: “Thus saith the Lord Jehovah: Because thy heart is lifted up, and thou hast said, I am a god, I sit in the seat of God, in the midst of the seas; yet thou art man, and not God, though thou didst set thy heart as the heart of God...” It is because of pride that Satan had to be thrown out of heaven. I noticed in James and in I Peter right before they mention spiritual warfare, they both mention humility, quoting Proverbs 3:34: “God resists the proud, but giveth grace to the humble.” James says, “Be subject therefore unto God; but resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double-minded. Be afflicted, and mourn, and weep: let your laughter be turned to mourning, and your joy to heaviness. Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall exalt you.” (James 4:7-10) 1 Peter says, “Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time; casting all your anxiety upon him, because he careth for you. Be sober, be watchful: your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour, withstand him steadfast in your faith, knowing that the same sufferings are accomplished in your brethren who are in the world.”(1 Peter 5:6-9).

Step Six: Pray!

M.C. Hammer was right, "We got to pray just to make it today!"
In my post called, Love Story and on my website: Exploring Catholicism
I wrote about when we were building and I met this soccer coach who helped with Sarah's team.

The Tuesday after I first met "Michael" at the soccer game, I fasted for a day- I’m a real novice at this. There’s a good chapter on it in Stormie Omartian’s book “Greater Health God’s Way”. Stomie says fasting is like getting a "Holy oiling" which causes you to slip right through the enemies fingers. I could not believe it when I read the old book I had found about the nun, it was like deja vu': the priest confesses his feelings for her and she flies to her room, bolts the door, flinging herself on the floor in an agony of grief, and prays for strength to combat this “the greatest temptation of my life.” There was a point when I was alone and felt such a heavy burden; thinking about my strained relationship with Bob and having wrong thoughts of Michael enter my mind once again. I fell to the floor just weeping and crying out to God. To understand how and why I was so lonely at this point, here is an excerpt from my journal:

Mon. April 24, 2000- 11:15 PM
Bob just got back from the house and I’m tired, so tired of building a house! I’m listening to a song called, “Stranded” [from the WOW 2000 CD]- that’s what I feel like. I’m still having trouble with my thoughts: Michael. I go back and forth. Ambivalence. I want to talk to him again so bad…I think he likes me too. Lord, how can I endure this?! Without You Lord, I’m sunk! Please be with me. I pray in Jesus name, Amen

Step Seven (Because there has to be seven, right?): Be accountable!
Well, I have blogged about this already too. See; Oh the Irony! and Love Story

So what if you stumble? Will His love continue? Most definitely!
Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8: 37-39
But Doesn’t knowing God loves you that much make you want to be faithful?

I’d like to close with a portion from a Peter Marshall sermon called, “Heaven Can’t Wait”. Peter tells the story of a “wholesome girl” named Jane, single in the 1940s in Washington D.C. She is lonely and begins going to parties against her better judgment:
After some of these parties, Jane made concessions, compromised with her conscience…Then came a sudden new temptation, worse than the others because it devastated her at the center of her greatest need- her loneliness. She was torn, seared by the desire to do something she new was completely wrong. All that she believed, all her ideals stood in her path. She longed to thrust them ruthlessly aside, to say, “Yes” to a young man’s proposition. He liked her; she liked him. Why not? Heaven can wait! Jane went to her room to think it over…She buried her head in her hands, sobbing, “Oh God- Why am I so miserable? Oh God- help me!” Although she heard nothing, something made her look up. Jesus was there by her side…How universal the appeal- man loses the way and cries for his Maker. He comes in many ways…Through the gentle illumination of a thought…In the soothing coolness of understanding that dissolves hot emotion…In the brilliance of light that pierces foul darkness. And He comes also as a Presence- a living Presence….There is a place in the heart of God for you too….It is reserved in your name. Is it empty still? Then it is empty only because you have not claimed it. When you do, you will be home. You will know for yourself His warm and wonderful love, how He will guide you, and help you, give you joy you have never had before. Isn’t it worth trying? Heaven can wait? Ah, but when we can have the joy of heaven now- who wants to wait?

 2015- My book of poems is now out! You can get it here: The Seven Story Tree

Bibliography and recommended reading:
A Closer Walk by Catherine Marshall
The Best of Peter Marshall compiled and edited by Catherine Marshall LeSourd copyright 1983.
The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis
I Talk Back to The Devil by A.W. Tozer.
Lord, Is It Warfare, Teach Me To Stand by Kay Arthur.
Why Good People Do Bad Things by Erwin W. Lutzer, copyright 2001.
Every Man’s Battle by Steve Arterburn.
Kissed the Girls and Made Them Cry by Lisa Bevere, copyright 2002.
Breaking Free from Spiritual Strongholds- Praying God’s Word, by Beth Moore.
Always Daddy’s Girl: Understanding Your Father’s Impact On Who You Are by H. Norman Wright.