Tag Archive: grace


Amendment to my POE

Weight is not valueDear Sponsor,

I got on the scale yesterday and discovered an undesirable weight change has crept upon me. Since I haven’t weighed in several months, I am not greatly disturbed by this discovery, but I am prompted to make some changes in my daily Plan of Eating (POE). My daily calorie intake goal had been 2150, due to my continued weight loss at the standard 2000. Since that no longer seems to be the case, I am dropping to the standard 2000 until things level off.

In practice, I plan to eliminate:

  • the half serving of raw almonds from my typical lunch (75 Kcal.)
  • one half serving of almond butter from typical dinner (100 Kcal.)
  • though the above represents 175 calories, I am committed to reducing the daily target by 150 calories, whether the “typical” meals are on the menu for any given day or not.

I haven’t written much lately, but great changes are taking place regarding my personal development. I was recently reawakened to the existence of my character defect of wrath as expressed by outbursts of rage, harsh criticism, and verbal condemnation. While addressing this defect in prayer, I was convicted that is is correlated to my habit of judgement, for which I am responsible. When I look at these and the way they correspond to my progress regarding food and weight, I am reminded that I cannot control my weight, but I am responsible for my food choices. When I make healthy food choices according to properly administered limits, there is a corresponding body weight change. I cannot merely pray that God remove my excess weight while eating whatever I want whenever I crave it, and neither can I stew in my hateful judgement and expect God to remove my character defect of wrath. I have some habits to change. So, I am addressing each instance of judgment much like I would a craving for food, cigarettes, booze, or any other toxin. I recognize it as judgement, turn from it, turn to God in prayer, and relinquish the craving to His care and control, offering the outcome to Him. So far, it works when I work it.

Another development in my life is the halfway mark in Nursing School. I would never have imagined it would be this difficult. I don’t know how much of my problem is that I am an adult learner returning to school in middle-age, or just that I have become an unteachable know-it-all who refuses to learn the new language of Nursing Academia. I can’t control the first option, but I have full control over the second, so I repeatedly pray that God will make me teachable, that I will study the right materials with focus, retain what I need, and be able to recall with clarity the answers I am called upon to know. I have been counseled by professors that I “overthink” exam questions, but I don’t really understand how overthinking can be a bad thing. I guess what they mean is I over-create details that aren’t written, or imagine what-if scenarios that aren’t articulated in the perfect vacuum of an exam. In my previous career, second and third guessing was routine, any possible outcome or precipitating cause had to be explored, and life balanced on my ability to anticipate the unimaginable. Now, in the world of the Nursing Student, my hyper-vigilance is considered an attention deficit, one I have to rein in or else. As a matter of fact, this very blog post represents a digression from my studies.

Because of that, I can’t really go into detail about the other personal development, but it’s huge. It involves the recognition of abuse in my life, forgiveness offered, and amends being lived out. I really must tell you about it soon.

 

(prayer) Holy Father, make me teachable. Relieve me from the bondage of self, especially as it relates to wrath, and help me cease this habit of judgment since it only serves to alienate me from Your children You put me on this Earth to serve in love. Thank You for progress. Thank You for grace. Help me live so saturated in it that, when I open my mouth or hands to share, Your grace is all that flows out. May Your will be done in every aspect of my life as it is in Heaven.

“You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you.” (Isaiah 26:3)

“Teach me your way, Lord, that I may rely on your faithfulness; give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name.” (Psalm 86:11)

pure water leaf“But just as all the good things the Lord your God has promised you have come to you, so he will bring on you all the evil things he has threatened, until the Lord your God has destroyed you from this good land he has given you.” (Joshua 23:15, NIV)

“I have sworn an oath to David, and in my holiness I cannot lie.” (Psalm 89:35, NIV)

These verses should be effective in wiping away a common misconception about God that is comfortable to entertain: the one that paints God as merely a warm and fuzzy grandfather-type who lets us have our way and who, consequently, disappoints us when our every wish isn’t materialized. God demands holiness of Himself and, while He has instituted grace as a covering for imperfection, He has been clear that obedience toward holiness is still our part of the covenant. Any doubt of that should be clarified in His declaration in Psalm 89. (The whole chapter seems to address this issue.) Joshua was clear to Israel just as Moses was when he laid before them the choice between life and death (Deuteronomy 30:19), and it should be clear to this generation’s children of Heaven too.

I can Twelve-Step my holiness problem this way: 1) I am powerless over sin, and my life is (by my power) unmanageable; 2) I believe God can deliver and restore me to sane living and abundant life; 3) I make a conscious decision to turn over to God everything I am, have, and will become, to live for His purposes rather than my whims; etcetera, through the Twelve Steps. As long as I am carried by a body of meat I will be prone to human decay, and while Earth’s gravity holds me I will stand imperfectly on this rock, but I have the hope of relationship with a Creator who is not content to leave me alone until He perfects me for eternal unity with Him (Philippians 1:6).

Gravitys HoldTo reach for holiness, I have to look at sin differently through eyes of grace. Sin includes anything outside God’s perfect will for me, not just the firebrands I once used to convict others and make myself feel superior – murder, robbery, adultery, and the like. I sin when I think self-serving thoughts – not just lust, but laziness, pride, self-satisfying cravings. To don this attitude toward sin without the undergarment of grace would be to fling all hope into despair, because the consequence of sin is always death. Not to apply it, however, is to be a friend of the world and enemy of holiness, and I cannot bear to tolerate my enmity with God while His is the relationship I most fervently seek to maintain.

Holy Father, today, while I celebrate all the progress with which you have blessed me, I acknowledge that there is nothing I have or am that You did not create, that You do not own, and that You could not take away. I align myself with You. Thank you for accepting me, faults and all. Now make me more acceptable to You by whatever means You determine necessary. I submit. Clean out the closets of my heart, all my secret places. Shine light into my darkness and sweep away the debris of my shame. Make me aware of anything that remains for me to address, and give me grace to address it according to Your will. Be glorified in who I am and what I do. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen!

A Harmful Outburst

I am prompted to write due to an outburst of rage, my most damaging character defect. My closing thoughts last night after a rather shallow personal inventory were:

And if they don’t like it they can have a big ol’ bowl of ‘bite-me!’ and a swig of ‘suck-it!’ to wash it down!

Fit spiritual condition? I think not. I warn any who have me on a pedestal to get me off it now, ’cause today’s post reveals a whole lot of crazy in one man!

Frustration, on a bed of fear and vain disappointment, set in a condition of shame and regret was my excuse for lashing out at the faulty wall switch in our dining room, its plastic cover plate, and the surrounding bit of drywall this morning as I searched in vain for a missing item. These materials and my hand suffered harm while the dogs cowered in what looked like helpless terror a short distance away. My anger, now bathed in a new bucket of shame and disgust at this atrocious failure, roared at the frightened animals, but struck an inanimate card table which has been gaining my annoyed attention over the past few days. That table represents the amends I have been paying for years, doing most of the household chores to make up for the years of doing next to none. Erected semi-regularly so I can fold and sort laundry, it occasionally remains in an unwelcome position where it gathers clutter. There it stood this morning as a monument in my living room to a new resentment I harbor for all those whose contributions to the household seem smaller than I deserve. Cluttered and smug, it stood in my way. As I searched its leaves for the fruit I was seeking, I found none and overturned it with a kick. More harm done? Likely. Dang it!

When I finally recognized the shape I was in, took a few breaths, and let a thought pierce the cloudy fog that had enveloped me, I found my missing item and went out the door for a run. I saw the sparkles on the water that I normally celebrate as God’s fireworks show just for me, and they were especially bright today, but I could not enjoy them.

In Your blinding glory, Lord, who can stand? Certainly not me!

My music player was set on my “inspirational” playlist and, song after song, I was reminded of the grace that keeps me, and how none of it comes as a result of me toeing any line or paying any price. None of it comes because I am perfect, without defect, or flaw, but because Jesus is, and was willing to die for me – an angry, fat-headed, compulsive, self-serving, lying hoarder of property, food, and self-will. There was nothing about me that made me redeemable; it was all on account of my Redeemer!

My outrageous behavior left marks for which I am responsible, and my fearful and ashamed condition are the result of lazy procrastination, so I have work to go do. Instead of only studying for a test today for which I am underprepared, I now have messes to clean up and a wall to repair.

Holy Father, today, save me from myself! Thank You for the knowledge that I cannot throw myself, even in a tantrum, out of Your loving care.

Widex-DreamYesterday began with a whirlwind of emotions.  I was exhausted from working the night before, but rose bright and early for a morning appointment with an audiologist, an appointment to which I have been looking forward with eagerness.   I was to be fitted for hearing instruments.  The need for them fills me with feelings of inadequacy, but the anticipation of fulfillment of the need for them fills me with excitement.  I can only imagine what I’ve been missing, but I know that I have missed out on many conversations and lives.

When someone speaks to me and then says, “Never mind,” when I ask them to repeat themselves, it usually leaves me feeling left out, defective, and more often than not – resentful.  The negative part of me translates that into, “You are not worth the energy it takes to say something twice,” though the rational part of me recognizes the more likely meaning is, “What I had to say was not worth wasting a second breath on.”  In my diseased brain, the negative side usually wins.  Other times, I have resigned myself to just miss out on what is going on around me.  Aware that folks around me are talking, I am partially content to see their expressions but aggravated that I am ill-equipped to participate further.

A life like this can hardly be conducive to my sense of fellowship, and I am concerned that I have adopted character traits that are harmful to relationships and that promote isolation.  I sometimes ignore phone calls so people have to leave messages which I can repeatedly play back on “speaker mode” until I finally understand what they say, rather than stopping them ten times a minute during a live conversation, just to say, “Please repeat that.”  I would rather sit with a full email inbox than be in a room full of friends, only because I can read each message and understand its content, but in a crowd I am reduced to a visual spectator.  I enjoy my recovery meetings and church services, partly because one person speaks at a time, but as soon as those meetings break up, I am at my same disadvantage as cells divide and multiply and with them the conversations that become unintelligible noise to me.  At work, my clients, who usually are not happy to begin with if they have to talk to me, are then aggravated with my repeated questions and what appears to them as my inattention.  I expected that to continue to be a problem as I retire and go to nursing school.  I don’t want to miss so much of my classes and to be involuntarily inattentive to my future patients.  So I ordered the prosthetic hearing instruments that will, no doubt, be a blessing from God, but which cost as much as a used car.

One of the reasons I have put this off was my mistaken understanding of hearing aids.  I always thought that they were amplifiers only, and in the old days they were.  Since I have a kind of hearing loss that makes me supersensitive to loud noises, I was afraid to have anything in my ears that would amplify anything.  To me, it was a painful prospect, not just annoying or loud, but painful.  I learned recently that the technology of digital hearing instruments has an answer for that, softening the loud stuff while making the soft stuff loud enough to hear.

I wanted to write this out, not because I think anyone will understand or relate, but because I am surprised at how emotional I am about this.  I was thrilled, horrified, and disappointed all at the same time.  I still am.  I accept that I am human and was never expected to function at superhuman levels, but I am still disappointed in this “thorn in the flesh.”  God’s grace is sufficient for me, as it was for Paul of Tarsus.

 

2 Corinthians 12:7-10, NKJV

And lest I should be exalted above measure by the abundance of the revelations, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I be exalted above measure. Concerning this thing I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might depart from me. And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 10 Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

 

Dear Father, today, help me to be grateful for what I have rather than pitiful for what I do not.  Help me to shine brightly on others rather than to darken their fellowship with my insistence on inclusion.   Let me walk in Your grace so that, whether in plenty or in need, I may be content.

The Idol of Self

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Jonah 2:8 NIV
[8] “Those who cling to worthless idols forfeit the grace that could be theirs.

I certainly was a forfeiter of grace, as I clung to the idol of Self. Of the temple of Self I was primary priest, deacon and parishioner, obeying every whim and desire, indulging each and every craving. Though I never bowed or prayed to Self, I served it diligently, even neglecting the God of Heaven and Earth in its preference.

Grace comes to those who make mistakes though they have learned their lesson, but to the rebellious comes correction, often in the form of hardship and consequence. While I pumped myself full of any food I wanted, the consequences built up without mercy around my waistline, my arteries, my gastric system, my knee cartilage, and finally my ligaments. The messages of discipline were loud and clear, but I did not hear them. Occasionally, I was confronted with the words of a medical prophet, “repent of your eating and sloth, and return to health,” but I refused to hear them. I ignored some, fired a few, and tried to surround myself with doctors who would tell me what I wanted to hear, but none gave me permission to serve Self in the manner of my choosing.

A good Father He is indeed who refuses to relent until His son learns the lesson of his predicament and repents of his ways. The prodigal may not have tasted failure until he tasted it at the floor of the swine pen, denying his circumstances until arriving at such a low.

Thank You, dear Father, for pursuing me to the end of my rebellion, for buying me back at such a high price even while I was such a mess, and for giving me grace while I am content to live within the abundance of Your provision. Help me to apply the grace I have received to those around me, that You may be glorified.