Per Fidem Intrepidus means "Fearless Through Faith". My courage isn't my own, it comes from the Holy Spirit, it's my faith in God and my personal savior Christ Jesus that calms my fears and allows me to move forward in this fallen world. Personally I'm afraid of a lot of stuff, but having the faith that Jesus adopted me as his little, sin filled, brother keeps me going.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Forging a New Me

Heating the metal with bellows afloat.
The steel blending ready forging, tempering the blade
Hammer and anvil sing to the same.
Folding over and over again, and again
Taking hours and days to meet the grade,
The heart and sound, the heat and sweat.
Injected each blow the numerous repent.

(from Katana by Nigel Wilcox)

Sometimes it seems that the Lord is punishing us, beating us down for an offense we may or may not be aware of, But in truth He's not punishing us, no matter how much we deserve it. Punishing is a punitive act, it is the infliction of a penalty in retribution for an offense,  Jesus took our punishment for us, every sin we ever committed or planned to commit or desired to commit He paid the penalty for. Jesus carried our sins to the cross, the perfect sacrificial lamb, the ultimate scapegoat;
and He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed. (1 Peter 2:24)
So how come those atheists down the street have the new cars and the ski lodge, and the boat, while we Christians have kids in the hospital, long hard hours at work, and macaroni & cheese three nights in a row before each payday? Oddly enough because God loves us

If we were perfect then our lives would be so much easier on us and on God. We'd accept Christ as our lord and savior, we'd be adopted into God's family and life would be waffles and bacon from there on out. No fuss no muss, no sin. Unfortunately we're not created as perfect beings but as failable humans, and even more unfortunate for us, sin is fun. Or at least it looks like fun.

Since we are adopted by God he can't just throw us away when we stray from His path, He loves us too much for that, He loves us enough to teach us and guide us, and sometimes it takes a firm hand. We believers tend to ignore the fact God sometimes sees a need to correct us with some discipline which is not to be confused with punishment.

Punishment is a penalty inflicted for an offense - BANG! you have been punished. Discipline may involve something that feels like punishment (on the receiving end) but the purpose is completely different, while punishment is purely punitive, discipline is purely instructive. It is God's desire for each of us to be holy, just as He is, because He loves us.

What parent here on earth doesn't want their child to grow up to be just the very best person that child could possibly be? For that same reason those parents will be justifiably horrified when they find their little darling trying to set the cat on fire. Something must be done, not just to save the cat, but to insure this doesn't happen again by teaching the child to disdain this action.

We discipline the ones that we love in the same way that the Lord disciplines us
11 My son, do not reject the discipline of the Lord, Or loathe His reproof, 12 For whom the Lord loves He reproves, Even as a father corrects the son in whom he delights. (Proverbs 3:11-12)
Another translation for the word discipline used here is "instruction" and sometimes that's the best word to use. In the military discipline is strict, not because you did anything wrong, but because when you're in the military peoples lives depend on your actions, you now have to think and act in a completely different way than you did when you were a civilian. Having been accepted into God's family we need to think differently than we did before we were saved
When I was a child, I used to speak like a child, think like a child, reason like a child; when I became a man, I did away with childish things. (1 Corinthians 13:11)
Just as the military needs new recruits to think and act differently so they can properly perform the mission appointed to them, God needs us to act and feel and think differently so He can use us in his plan of salvation. Sometimes this takes discipline, instruction, and rebuke. God will use testing, trials and situations to bring us closer to Himself in repentance, and sometimes this is painful if we fight against it. However in the end the result is stronger faith and a deeper love for God and a weaker hold that sin has on you.

Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. (James 1:2-4)
Lately my life has been trial after trial after trial. My brother-in-law's terrible accident, my own surgery (nothing major, but it hurts (yes I'm whining, it's my blog, I can whine)) my wife being where she's needed with her family on the west coast is leading to terrible loneliness, now my dad is hurt and soon I'm going to the east coast to help him and my mom 2 days before my Mrs. WideAwakeChristian returns home which will lead to more separation from her, and top that off with the pain that comes from seeing your parents age.

The other night I was praying and thanking God for all the good things in my life and thanking him for all the painful things that are doing just a marvelous job of keeping me from sin and drawing me closer to Him. As I prayed images unbidden came into my head, images of an unseen blacksmith forging a new Katana; a Japanese fighting sword world renown for its strength and ability to hold a razor sharp edge. To make a katana a master blacksmith will heat a piece of steel red hot then hammer it out longer and thinner than it was at first. Then the steel is folded in half and then reheated and the hammering begins again. Heat, hammer, fold, heat, hammer, fold, over and over and over for weeks and months. This folding makes a very strong sword, kind of like how the construction of plywood makes a strong sheet of wood from its multiple layers, but the constant hammering of the steel also removes impurities. And in the end the Maker has a tool that can be used for His purposes as He sees fit.
But now, O Lord, You are our Father, We are the clay, and You our potter; And all of us are the work of Your hand. (Isaiah 64:8)
Being turned gently on a potters wheel is a much more gentle way of shaping a raw form into a useful vessel than does hammer and tongs and anvil, but then maybe my hardheaded sinful nature needs nothing less than the warmth of a furnace and the skillful repeated caress of a 10 lb sledge hammer. Either way, my Lord, I'm yours to shape as You will.

As for the unbelievers who drift through life without a care, I think God said it best when He told Job
For the wicked is reserved for the day of calamity; They will be led forth at the day of fury. (Job 21:30)

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