Friday, November 30, 2007

Overcomers Indeed!

I said I was going to post thoughts about my reading and haven't managed to get back here to do that. Writing takes work and I've been avoiding the effort in favor of easier activities; not to mention that my husband has been working from home a lot and it's harder to get at the computer during those times. That said, I have a bit to say after reading chapter 3 in "Overcoming Sin and Temptation".

This chapter was much slower reading than the first two, and I also spent time catching up with the forewords and introductions which slowed me down a little more. I read the first two chapters out of a different edition while waiting for my copy of this version from Amazon. I am glad to note the suggestion that reading aloud might be helpful; I am finding this to be true and am reading aloud at times, or slowly and silently while applying vocal inflections in my head.

Encouraging and instructive are two words that describe the effect of this chapter. I appreciate Owen's discussion of works as means to mortification and his discussion of why the Spirit does not do all the work, summed up when he says "He does not so work our mortification in us as not to keep it still an act of our obedience."

Though Owen is mainly pointing out errors in Catholic traditions and I am not Catholic (husband is ex-C), he enlightened me as to why I spent so many of my early Christian years in defeat and discouragement! I grew up in a non-denominational Bible church with teachings similar to Baptist churches. As a young Christian, I tried to do all the "duties" suggested in church. I tried having "quiet time" and keeping a journal. I joined discussion/self-help groups to try erasing self-defeating behaviors (and overcome a childhood trauma), went to "Bible Studies", read numerous books, used many devotional tools. I followed the instructions in a popular pamphlet suggesting we simply needed to pray daily to be "filled with the Spirit" and waited passively for it to happen. All these efforts were fruitless.

In those times I was not engaging in true obedience to the Lord; I was trying to copy other believers, please others, and put on the outward behaviors of a good Christian without knowing how to effect inward change. When I began teaching in a children's Bible-memory program in which my kids were enrolled, I began to study the Word itself.

In my terror of causing a little one (I know this applies not just to children, but to anyone young in the faith) to stumble, I studied hard so as to convey the best possible understanding to the children in my care. As a home-school mom, I also wanted to give the best I could to my own children.
In that study, and in the memorization I began alongside my kids, the Lord worked a miracle in my heart. I began to *know Him* rather than simply *knowing about Him*. How simple it seems now!

As parents our job is to mold mature adults capable of independent living. To that end my husband and I applied the axiom "never do for your kids what they can do for themselves." Nonetheless, we needed to make sure they had good understanding of the required task as well as the tools for accomplishment. In this same way the Holy Spirit will not kill our sin for us while we passively await His intervention, but He will help us as we work to recognize our sin and then set about killing it from the roots up.

I am looking forward to reading the rest of this book. I'm going to see Mannheim Steamroller in their Christmas concert tonight and will have some wonderful "down-time" in our hotel room. I'm going to spend time mulling over more of this book!