From Pastor Dan’s sermon last night:
There is a struggle in the Christian life.
The struggle isn’t with God, but with ourselves and the devil’s lies.
There is no exemption from this fight…those who refuse to fight, lose.
Now, some people think there is no such thing as a “good fight”.
Our Christian fight is a “good fight” because it has already been won by Jesus. All we are doing is ENFORCING HIS VICTORY. That makes for a “good fight”!
1 Timothy 6:12…”Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, to which you were also called and have confessed the good confession in the presence of many witnesses.”
The Wedding Ring
From April 2009
I woke up before three am thinking about last week end, and what it meant to me. Sunday April 19th 2009 my oldest Grandson became seven years old. Only two months ago he had told his parents, my oldest son and wife that he wanted to be baptized. I received an E-mail letting me know the news. My wife and I were very excited for him. We were invited to be there for his Birthday and baptism celebration. We thought this was an honor to be invited, and made plans to go. We took our youngest son who was nine and our granddaughter who was almost seven with us on our five hour trip to the Dallas area where they live. We are part of a large family, and celebrate birthdays often, enjoying our time together as we honor the family member having the birthday. But my six siblings and I did not go to church growing up. Each of us, some in their teenage years, and some as adults has gone to church since then. God knows their hearts and where they are at, in their relationship with Him. I share this to preface this next part.
My Grandson came to the understanding of knowing who Jesus is and invited him into his heart as Lord and Savior. My Son was brought up by my first wife, and grew up as a Christian. He and his wife regularly attend church and are solid Christians. Being taught by his parents, my grandson was given this wonderful opportunity.
Before the Baptism, the pastor said something which, resonated in me. He said being baptized was like wearing a wedding ring, and as we openly show to the public we are married by wearing this ring. And this is what being baptized is (openly showing) to the public, that you have a relationship with Jesus (like being married to Him), you love him, and that you want to live your life for and with him. I truly believe this.
And this started me thinking about when I got baptized, way back when I was 19 years old. My first wife had not gone to church as child very much, and as I said earlier I had never went. She had a spark in her and wanted us to start going to church right after we married, which we did in the fall of 1971. We had went to church only once together while dating, my first time in a church. We also took a short class before we got married, in which we talked about the importance of marriage, it didn’t sink in and I didn’t understand. I was doing it to please her as part of getting married. The same thing happened when we started going to church as she wanted, shortly after we were married. I remember being emotional, crying, repeating the sinner’s prayer one Sunday morning. We were baptized soon thereafter, but again, it didn’t sink in. I didn’t have understanding, and I wasn’t reading a bible to help me understand. I had only been taught about evolution in school. To stop going to church was easy for me, within a few weeks I was asked to work on Sundays and I never thought about it again.
It was my idea to divorce two years later, shortly after our son was born. I was a real jerk, and took my wedding ring off the first time, for selfish ambitions; chasing happiness, wanting to be what I thought was happy, trying to live without even knowing how.
Three years later, I married again thinking this would fulfill, what I thought my purpose in life was. She delivered by natural birth a son, a daughter, and another son. But after seventeen years we got caught up in a Pandora’s Box so to speak, which is another story. Anyway, she left taking our three beautiful children. My life was devastated. But there was a little silver lining to this. My sister, who became a Christian at sixteen came to visit us about a year earlier and spent a lot of time with my wife. They went shopping and bought two bibles which one was a living bible version and the other was an amplified, which I didn’t know at the time. We starting talking about taking our children to Church, and agreed it was a good Idea. I called the closest church to our home and invited the Pastor to come over and meet us, which he did. We liked him, and started going to church there. I will never forget him. After going to church a short time, a friend from work invited us to a home bible study they were starting with three other couples. We enjoy being with other couples, so we went, for 8 months once a month. I learned as we read the bible from the book of John, that Jesus was God, which was cool, but I still had not accepted him as my savior and Lord. We thought we were ok, just learning a little about God. Not having any clue of spiritual warfare or that there was a devil who wanted to destroy us. We also stopped going to church a short time later, allowing excuses to keep me away. We continued to take the children, for a while, by dropping them off and picking them up.
The seed had been planted in us and would be what God would use when the time came to deliver me out of the hot water I had put myself in. We didn’t know then, what the enemy was about to unleash in our life only months away.
Two days after my wife left I called out to Jesus, also called my sister who lived six hours away, and then my pastor, they helped me pointing the way. The best decision I ever made. Lots of others helped me during that time, I went to three different churches, two different small bible studies groups, a small men’s group where I learned how to pray, and read my bible all the time that was left. She filed for a divorce and things got really bad. But I fought for our marriage all the way to the end. Never wanting to give in, months went by, I was only allowed to see our children eight hours a week, and finally it was over. I gave her what she wanted and the battle came to its end.
A year had gone by and just a few weeks before the end of our battle, she gave her heart to Jesus, and her new life with Him began.
During that same time frame just before the battles end, I had grown to a point where I chose to live for Christ Jesus first. Giving up on the battle, and totally committing my life to Him, and not me. I had been reading the bible for a year by this time and renewing my mind. Gaining the understanding I needed, to make that hard choice. And so, I took off my wedding ring for the second time in my life, and set it on a shelf. Telling the Lord that I was all His, and if he wanted me to be married, He would bring it about. I was at peace with my decision, made the call. The divorce would be finalized on paper. But in my heart it was still alive, and I didn’t stop being her husband, in my heart.
I was at peace and I believe as God wanted, I put the same ring back on, knowing that now I live, and have life, in Him. Jesus lives in me. I put my full trust in him and within a short time God orchestrated great things. My wife and I moved back to Oklahoma and started rebuilding our marriage. Its taken time and we are still growing in Him, but we really started living life, as we allowed Jesus and his word to change us on the inside. We only get one chance at life; I now strive to make my future count for good and the good of others.
My wedding ring now represents to me, my commitment to Jesus and to then my wife.
I lived my life as I wanted to for forty years. When I heard the words of others telling me truths like those listed below from proverbs, I never listened. I thought that it’s ok for other people to follow the rules or laws, but I would only do it if I wanted to. I didn’t know then that people perish for lack of knowledge. And let me tell you, I had lack of knowledge. You say; why didn’t you listen? I tell you now, only because of what I have learned. It was selfish ambition and pride. Pride can really keep us from knowing the truth.
I have been reading proverbs lately, and yesterday it was proverbs 6. And the part that was brought up first, was verses 27 and 28 (27 Can a man carry fire next to his chest and his clothes not be burned? 28 Or can one walk on hot coals and his feet not be scorched?) Then I read. 20 My son, keep your father’s commandment, and forsake not your mother’s teaching. 21 Bind them on your heart always; tie them around your neck. 22 When you walk, they will lead you; when you lie down, they will watch over you; and when you awake, they will talk with you. 23 For the commandment is a lamp and the teaching a light, and the reproofs of discipline are the way of life, 24 to preserve you from the evil. And Proverbs 7 says almost the same thing. 1My son, keep my words and treasure up my commandments with you; 2 keep my commandments and live; keep my teaching as the apple of your eye; 3 bind them on your fingers; write them on the tablet of your heart.4 Say to wisdom, “You are my sister,” and call insight your intimate friend,
Proverbs: to me, like pages of Instructions for Life (Similar to instructions in learning how to use tools for a trade) Like using a hammer and nails, a seemingly simple Task, But, If I were going to learn how to use them, where or whom would I go to learn? How many fingers would I hurt while learning? How many nails would I bend as I practice? How many strokes will it take to drive the nail in, putting two boards together? And how much strength is required? What size of nails is required, and how do we choose? What is the correct amount of force or power required which will drive the nail to the correct depth? Does the hammer head need to be perfectly flat and centered with the top of the nail to get the results we want? Do we need a steady hand and good perception of what is level and square? So many things to consider for seemingly a simple task, so I ask, how does that apply to me? Living life is like that to me.
Studying Proverbs ( Tools from Gods Tool Box ) and other books from the word of God (our instruction manual for life ) helps me to learn about and how to use “Me” in Life, and in the world that I live in. Every Day I practice being a Christian, like replacing the old nature with the new. You think it would be as easy as putting on a pair of new shoes. But, it is a process that takes some time. I’ll get there if I stay on the right road.
Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is –his good, pleasing and perfect will.