Thursday, May 28, 2009

OnFire #189 Winning for Trying

OnFire Encouragement Letter
OnFire #189 Winning for Trying

If you haven’t seen them, take a look at our canoe trip pictures. Click on the picture on my website for a slide show.

While out on our bikes one day, my brother and I encountered one of the neighbourhood troublemakers. He could be nice enough at times, but there always seemed to be something inkit for him, and this one day was no exception.

He convinced me to let him try out my bike. After a few minutes of riding it around, I wanted it back but he kept on. Tthe more I tried to tell him to give it to me, the more he kept it. Back and forth he rode, passing close enough almost to hit me.

At some point I figured that if I grabbed the handlebars I could stop him. So I mustered up all of my ten or eleven-year-old courage and reached for the bike. I clutched the bar and pulled the bike over, dropping the kid to his hands and knees on the hard pavement.

As I look back on it, it was a little like poking a bees nest with a stick. Having been stirred up, he came after me looking for his revenge. It all happened so fast I didn’t think to run, or even duck, for that matter. He hit me in the face and blood poured from my nose.

Someone must have seen and called my home. As I walked along holding my face with one hand and towing the bike with the other, my mother met me and lectured all the way back about staying out of fights. It seemed that day I couldn’t win one way or the other.

Resistence is the theme today. "Resist the devil and he will flee from you," James writes in 4:7.*
There are lots of thoughts that run through my head about resisting the devil. First, there is a calming reassurance from the promise that we can resist Satan successfully. This is important for us to know as we battle temptations and trials of various types.

Simultaneous to that thought is the one which goes like this - "I know I should resist, but if I resist, I might not get what I want." This matches up with James’ earlier words, "Each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed." (1:14) Obviously, there is no real temptation when we are not interested. Rather, the more we want something, the stronger the attraction. There are moments of powerful temptation when I fight this battle about whether I really want to resist. I know I should resist, but I want it so badly...

My big fear at this point is that I cannot win for trying. I will exert a lot of effort to resist, and still miss out in the end. Isn’t it just easier to give in and get what I want? I think this is a battle that we all face.

James has something to say to us about this battle. Some words are kind and pastoral, and some are designed to kick us in the behind to get us moving in the right direction.

"Submit yourselves, then, to God.... Come near to God and he will come near to you." (James 4:7_8) These are the kind words of James the pastor, encouraging us to draw near to God in times of struggle and temptation. We do not have enough strength to stand on our own, but when we stand close to God we find courage.

And then there is James the motivator - "Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded." James calls it the way he sees it. When we start thinking that it is OK to compromise because we might not get what we want otherwise, we are double-minded and wishy-washy, in need of spiritual cleansing and a kick in he pants to motivate us.

Sometimes we need the soft and kind words. Sometimes we need the kick in the pants. Either way, James holds the key: "Resist and the devil will flee." The goal is not to get what we want, but to remain pure and holy. If we keep this in mind then we really can win for trying.

I hope this helps. Be on fire.
OnFire is a weekly letter on faith and character by Troy Dennis. Troy is the Pastor of Family Ministries at Highfield Baptist Church, Moncton NB Canada. This letter published May 28, 2009. *Bible references taken from the New International Version. To subscribe or reply, email Archives are located at Blog located at

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