Category Archives: My Sinfulness

Love, the Highest Ethic

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An ethic is defined as a set of moral principles, especially ones relating to or affirming a specified group, field, or form of conduct.

In Ravi Zacharias’ latest book, The Logic of God: 52 Christian Essentials for the Heart and Mind, which was released in April, he wrote,

…love is the supreme ethic. Where there is the possibility of love, there must be the reality of free will. Where there is the reality of free will, there will inevitably be the possibility of sin. Where there is sin, there is the need for a Savior. Where there is a Savior, there is the hope for redemption. Only in the Judeo-Christian worldview does this sequence find its total expression and answer.

~ Ravi Zacharias, The Logic of God: 52 Christian Essentials for the Heart and Mind, Zondervan, Grand Rapids, MI, 04/2019, pg 3.

I love this quote. I especially love the logic of it. It shows me that God is logical, in addition to all His other amazing attributes. He’s a God of love and He’s logical. How cool is that!

I’ve been on a kick about free will lately. I think the most important part of what Ravi Zacharias said here is the part about love, combined with the part about free will. Without love, free will is an impossibility, and without free will, human beings wouldn’t know how to love, because they’d be nothing more than robots, all of which means that free will and love are inextricably intertwined. And what follows after that is a kind of cascade of logic.

And then God brings it down to meet me where I live. God loved me so much that He gave me a free will so I could choose whether I wanted to love Him back, or reject His love. He could have said, I love you, and you will love Me back, and that’s the way it will be.

But if He’d done it that way, I wouldn’t have had a choice in the matter, and I would have been a love-robot, or a love-slave, loving God by rote. That wouldn’t have been real love, though, would it? That would be slavish obedience; Yes, Master, No, Master; not obeying because you adored Him so much that you would do anything for Him out of love.

God wanted humans to love Him freely, not because they had to, and not because He’d commanded them to. So He took a risk, a huge risk, and created every human being with a completely free will so they could make their own choices. And if that person chose to reject God and His love for them, then so be it. But if that human accepted God’s love, then he’d receive everything in Heaven and on earth that God had to offer.

The way I see it, God gave me the most incredible gift anyone could ever present to me, the gift of salvation. And I didn’t have to do anything at all to earn it. It was completely free. All I had to do was believe it was mine and receive it.

I knew I needed to be saved, desperately, but I couldn’t understand why God, Master of the Universe, Creator of all Things, would want to save me, probably the worst sinner ever, though if He wanted to do so I wouldn’t argue with Him. I’d just accept it. I’m not one to turn down free gifts! Not me!

Even at that, it took me many years before I could trust Him enough to believe that He meant what He’d said in His Word, because of all the lies my father (Harry) had told me. He had to abuse me because God hated me, and I was as ugly as if someone had thrown acid in my face were the two main ones, because they were a litany he repeated over and over and over again until they were ingrained in my nervous system. The guy in the white robe posing as God, sitting on the throne, who sometimes looked like Harry, telling the others what to do to me in the cult rituals, was the other big one. 

It took many, many years of consistently reading and studying the Bible before God was able to replace the poison and lies with the truth. But it did happen, and still is happening even today. God is still healing me, because there are times where I find myself falling back into old ways, and believing old lies. It doesn’t happen very often anymore, but it does happen from time to time. Now I know that God thinks I’m beautiful. That’s a truth I hold onto very tightly.

The upshot of it is that I’m incredibly grateful to God for everything He’s done for me. Not only has He saved me so that I’m able to know Him, and I get to go to Heaven when I die, the best double whammy ever, but He’s healed me ~ and is continuing to heal me ~ from the worst childhood ever. And if that wasn’t enough, He’s supplied my needs beyond all that I could ask or think. I never knew I could be this happy, or have this kind of peace or joy! My gratitude to Him makes me want to serve Him, makes me desire to love Him back, just because He’s been so good to me!

I know I still blow it, I still sin from time to time ~ far more often than I’d like. But when I do mess up, I pray that God will forgive me, because I value much too highly my close relationship with Him to want to stay in sin. Humans can’t help but sin, simply by the very fact that we’re human, but once we’re born-again, we have the Holy Spirit living inside us, and He helps us to not sin.

And that’s, once again, where our free will comes in. We can still make choices one way or the other. The Holy Spirit, being our Helper, aids and strengthens us, if we’ll take His assistance, to choose the right way. He’ll help us to avoid temptation,

The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure. ~ 1 Corinthians 10:13, NLT. 

Jesus called the Holy Spirit variously, the Comforter, the counselor, the advocate, and the helper, depending on the translation,

“When the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, that is the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, He will testify about Me… ~ John 15:26, NASB.

But we still have to make the choice to take the Holy Spirit’s assistance. I still have to make the choice to take His help, follow His advice, and sometimes I don’t, I’m ashamed to say.

Interestingly, I can still feel God’s Presence with me, even when I do sin. He never leaves me, He never forsakes me, just as He promised in His Word,

Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” ~ Hebrews 13:5, ESV.

It makes me want to try ever harder to not sin at all!

God so amazing!

The Gift of Free Will

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Something I’ve been thinking about recently is that Jesus was 100% obedient to God’s leadings 100% of the time. That just boggles my mind. I’m doing well if I’m obedient maybe 50% of the time.

Of course Jesus spent huge amounts of time in prayer, plus, even though He was 100% human, He was also 100% divine. But He was 100% human, and anyone who is human will always be tempted to disobey God.

Though all I’ve ever wanted is to know God and please Him, until now I’ve felt like a complete failure in that area. But I’ve come to realize that my problem wasn’t that I couldn’t please God, but rather that I doubted my faith in God. And notice that I said I doubted my faith in God, not that I doubted God. It’s an important distinction. Throughout my life, with everything I’ve been through ~ all the horrific abuse inflicted by Harry and my mother and the cult ~ I’ve never doubted that God existed, only that He loved me.

Now I’m confident that I do have faith in God, because I’ve been seeking Him ever since I became a Christian. It says in the Book of Hebrews,

But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him. ~ Hebrews 11:6, NKJV.

So if I’m to believe Scripture, and I definitely do, I must be pleasing God, and I must have faith, because I’m seeking Him, and I always have been. Sometimes I question my motives, but I’ve never stopped seeking Him, regardless of the reason why.

Praise God! Thankfully, that question has now been resolved!

But there’s still the problem of my almost constant disobedience, at least that’s what it feels like, though I think I know why I have such huge problem with it.

When I was being abused in the cult there would be someone in a white robe sitting on a throne telling the others what to do to me, and that person on the throne was God. And sometimes the person looked like Harry. So now when I’m trying to be obedient to God I can’t tell if it’s God, or the devil, or maybe Harry in my head telling me what to do. It gets all messed up and confused inside.

I used to have panic attacks about it all the time. Now I just try to live the way I think God wants me to and be done with it, though every once in a while I become aware of a specific leading. When that happens I go through the same confusion trying to figure out who’s talking, and whether I should obey whatever the instructions are. It’s never of any great import or significance, but if I can’t be obedient in the little things, I can’t realistically be expected to comply in the big ones, because I’m never sure whose voice I’m hearing.

A long time ago I did a drawing that well illustrates what this looks like:

Jesus-Harry-Satan Face of Confusion

The face with the halo and heart-shaped features is Jesus, the face in the middle is Harry, and the face with the horns and fangs is Satan, and they’re sitting on a throne in a white robe just like they are in my memories. The two mountains are my-mother-the-iceberg hanging around during cult rituals, pretending to ignore what they’re doing to me. And the Satan side is holding a cross dripping in blood, while the Jesus/God side is holding a dagger dripping in blood.

All of that is to say, that’s what the confusion looks like when I try to be led by the Spirit, because I can’t tell who’s talking to me.

I thank God that He’s not bound by my confusion and/or insufficiencies, and the Bible says that God is not the author of confusion,

For God is not a God of confusion but of peace… ~ 1 Corinthians 14:33a, ESV. 

I have to believe that God is able to lead me regardless of any hindrances or confusion on my part. Otherwise what hope do I have of being able to follow God given my present difficulties? I choose to trust that God is merciful and trustworthy, any problems I have in following Him notwithstanding.

Thank you Jesus for your unchanging love and faithfulness!

I Would Make a Great Hermit

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And I’m not saying that’s a necessarily a good thing, either, because I believe God created us to be in fellowship with other Christians, as it says in the Book of Hebrews,

And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near. ~ Hebrews 10:25, NLT.

Gathering together with other Christians keeps us sharp and sensitive towards God. Going to church and hearing the Word preached on a regular basis, in fellowship with other believers, does the same thing,

As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend. ~ Proverbs 27:17, NLT. 

All of that is to say that I like being alone. I’m a finest-kind introvert. I would much rather be by myself than spend time with other people. I don’t like talking on the phone just to talk. If the phone call doesn’t have a definite purpose other than to say hi, how are you, then I don’t want to participate in the conversation.

I’ve often thought that I’d love to find, or better yet build, a cabin out in the wilderness somewhere. I would want it to be a multilevel treehouse that has all the amenities, including wi-fi, and a full bathroom (NOT an outhouse). I want an indoor bathroom with indoor plumbing, and a full kitchen, even if the only cooking I do is nuking. I would be the only one living there with my cat and my dog, who would be close friends. And it would be way high up in a huge tree, so I wouldn’t have to come down, except for maybe once a month to drive out to purchase food and supplies.

I’ve wanted a treehouse for a long time, many years, in fact. Treehouse Masters was my favorite show on TV when they were airing new episodes. Unfortunately, they aren’t going to be on TV any longer. Pete Nelson sent out a newsletter a couple of weeks ago that said they won’t be making any new episodes.

I’m fairly certain that the foundation for my craving for isolation is my wonderful childhood (and, yes, that’s big-time tongue-in-cheek and sarcasm that you hear in my words). The only time I was safe was when I was by myself, and I couldn’t trust anyone but myself.

I have no illusions that my almost desperate desire for solitude is a godly one. I know it’s not, because my understanding of Scripture tells me it’s not. But, at least for the time being, it’s not something over which I have much control. As I can I try to place myself in contact with other people on a periodic basis, but only as I can do so and still remain in my comfort zone, so to speak. There are times when I try to step outside my comfort zone, but not very often. By definition, it’s too uncomfortable.

Obviously this will have to be a matter for discussion with McT.

HARRUMPH!!!

O Wretched Man That I Am!

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Every once in awhile I do or say something that reminds me of just how sinful I truly am.

On May 5th (the second Sunday after Easter), Nick Vujicic, founder of Life Without Limbs, a ministry based in Australia, preached at my church. He’s very well known, so all three services were quite well attended, with the main sanctuary being packed, and the overflow seating as well.

I was able to get a seat in the main sanctuary, but only just barely. I have a compulsive need to sit on the aisle, because I feel closed in if there are people sitting on both sides of me, and the only aisle seat available was down in front next to the wall. Unfortunately, even though the seat was on the aisle, because it was next to the wall and by the stage ~ basically in the right front corner of the room ~ my ability to see the stage, and therefore Nick Vujicic, was extremely limited.

There was one open seat next to me that improved my visibility, so I sat there, and prayed that no one would take the aisle seat.

Actually, what I thought was, “I hope whoever sits there isn’t fat like me.”

Then I listened to what I’d just said to myself, and felt a wave of disgust wash over me. This couldn’t be pleasing to God! What was I to do?

I quickly decided that the most important thing I needed to do was repent, and ask for God’s forgiveness, so that’s what I did.

But God’s forgiveness notwithstanding, I was still left with the disquieting question of why I’d allowed myself to think like that in the first place.

That’s when the Holy Spirit reminded me of Romans, Chapter Seven,

For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. … For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. … Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? ~ Romans 7:15, 19, and 24, ESV.

When the Scriptures were originally written down they weren’t separated into chapters and verses, so Romans 7 and Romans 8 were transcribed as one long discourse.

I can’t tell you how grateful I am for that, because, while Romans 7:15 through the end of the chapter bemoan our sinfulness, Romans 8 gratefully and joyfully acknowledges Christ’s victory over that sin through His death on the cross and resurrection from the dead. Chapter 8 also specifically says that nothing, including our sin, can separate us from the love of Jesus,

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 8:38-39, ESV.

I’m so grateful and thankful for God’s love for me! Now I need to get my thought-life in line with God’s Word, and specifically the fruit of the Spirit listed in the Book of Galatians,

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. ~ Galatians 5:22-23, ESV.

So all is not lost. God’s Word is at work in my life, and while I did experience an unpleasant confrontation with my humanity and sinfulness, I also became aware once again of just how much God loves me regardless of my sin.

Thanks be to God for His unfathomable and unspeakable gift!

I’m Perverting God’s Word. Moi? But Yes!

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It occurred to me recently that I’m twisting God’s Word. It says in the Book of Hebrews,

And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who diligently seek him. ~ Hebrews 11:6.

But I leave half that verse off all the time, because I’m terrified that I’m not pleasing God. This is the Book of Hebrews according to Sarah,

It’s impossible for me to please God no matter hard I diligently seek Him ~ Hebrews 11:6, Sarah’s Word.

That’s a hard truth to accept about myself, but there it is. Something I never want to be guilty of doing is adding to or subtracting from God’s Word! I love the Bible, more than any other book I’ve ever read or known of.

The Bible has some severe things to say about people who pervert God’s Word. Like, if you add to it then God will add all the curses listed therein to your life, and there are a LOT of curses in the the Bible. And if you take any words away from the Bible then God will take your name out of the Lamb’s Book of Life.

REALLY don’t want that to happen! I like being in the Lamb’s Book of Life a LOT!!

Of course my version of Hebrews 11:6 assumes that I have no faith, which would be why God can’t be pleased with me, according to the real version of the verse, as quoted above. Also, I realize that I’m basing that perception of God on the fact that it was forever and always absolutely and completely impossible to please Harry, and it also felt like it was futile to try and please my stepdad as well.

An example of that futility was one time after I had graduated from a program in medical assisting. I got the highest overall score that anyone had ever gotten at that school ~ a 99.25%, and when I told my stepdad about my amazing score, all he could say about it was, “Why didn’t you get 100%?”

I felt SOOO ANGRY when he said that!!

I had worked so hard to get that score, slaving night after night memorizing volumes of material that I didn’t think I’d ever use.

And all he could say was why didn’t I get a 100?!?

DAMN!!

I think he thought he was encouraging me, but he wasn’t. What he said cut me deeply. It made me feel like nothing I did was good enough.

I had to forgive him. I didn’t want to but I had to. It wasn’t for his good, but rather mine, so I did.

This is a hard thing for me. It’s so difficult for me to differentiate between God and my father, to separate them and put them in unrelated categories. I have to detach, disengage, and disentangle God from my father in my mind, will, and emotions so that God no longer comes to mind when I think of my father. So that the only reason my father might come to mind when I think of God is because I want to pray for him.

That’s my goal, and I know it’s doable.