I want to be a man with no flesh!
In the New Testament, the word “flesh” is used in 13 different ways. The best of these uses are neutral, as in the covering of our bodies, but the other uses are all negative. In fact, Vine’s Concise Dictionary refers to flesh as the “seat of sin in man” in 2 Peter and 1 John.
Often I find myself getting caught up in the battle caused by the flesh of others. Their sinful actions cause me to think things, say things, and do things that are always wrong (sin). Then I get wrapped up in the internal struggle of “why did I think, say, or do what I did?” The answer is always “flesh!”
Scripture is very clear that the atoning death of Christ crucified all flesh (Rom 6:6) once and for all. But it is also clear that it is our responsibility to crucify our own flesh (Gal 5:24). But what does this mean?
In Philippians chapter 1, Paul is telling the readers about the physical abuse he is experiencing, and that he will possibly die. Then in verse 27, Paul tells them…
…Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ….
This context refers to whether Paul lives or dies. But, I believe it is safe to apply “whatever happens” to each and every moment of our lives. When we are in traffic, when we are at work, when we are at home, wherever we find ourselves, and whatever happens to us, we are to respond in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ.
This means there is no room for our selfish, prideful, hateful, or jealous responses to the actions of others, because those are all reactions of our flesh (Gal 5: 19-21). Regardless of what others do, we are to respond to them the way Christ would as He enables us by the Holy Spirit who lives in us. (We can’t even respond as Christ would in our flesh!) That is what it means to crucify our flesh. To act like our desires are dead (because they are) and to act in a way that is commensurate with the gospel of Christ.
In the second chapter of Philippians, Paul goes on to tell the readers that Christ, being the very nature of God…made Himself nothing…to the glory of God. So, this tells us that even Jesus put away His own desires and acted in a way that brought glory to the Father. Even further, Jesus clearly said that it was the Father living in Him who was living and working through Him (J0hn 14:10). This is crucifying your flesh.
Dear friends, when those around you do or say something that irritates you, annoys you, offends you, or just makes you mad; remember that your flesh has already been crucified and you are free from the snares of your past habits of response.
This doesn’t mean you simply forget it, ignore it and it will go away, or minimize your struggles with the situation or issues. It means you respond in a way that will glorify the Father.
Honestly, I think this is one of the most challenging lessons to learn from the scriptures. But it is also one of the most important.
I don’t desire to be a man without flesh so that you can see my bones and internal organs; I want to be a man without flesh so that you can see the Father!
The July report
Hello faithful team members. These past few weeks have been eventful, to say the least, but God has been faithful through it all. As of today, we have 300 days until our projected departure date. And, it appears we will need every one of those days to accomplish everything that needs to be accomplished.
The Yard Sale:
Seven weeks ago we started our “death march” towards our first of two yard sales. This was spearheaded by Taylor who created our schedule and held our feet to the fire. Each weekend we were assigned rooms to tackle–sorting the items into trash, keep, or sell. When this started, I thought we would have plenty of time, but as it turned out, we needed every minute to sort, stage, price, and display our stuff. In the end, it was very worthwhile because we actually made some cash and got rid of a lot of things that had accumulated over the past 16 years.
The process of holding the items in our hands and purposefully deciding what to do with each one has helped in the mental process of “letting go” of this season of our lives. Though painful at times, it has proved to be therapeutic, and we are now able to have a more “big picture” view of our possessions.
One anecdote from this process is our new way of decision making. One day Taylor and I were in my shop sorting items between the sale pile and the trash pile. Taylor asked me several times if different items were really usable or trash. My answers always started with “well, that could be…” and finally she said “Dad, if your answer starts with ‘well…’ then it is trash”! That carried over into the other days of sorting and deciding, and it has proved to serve us well so far. Thank you, Taylor!
We have now fully entered into the support raising mode. Even though raising support has plenty of Biblical foundation, the actual process can be the most daunting part of full-time ministry. We are absolutely convinced that Norway is where God is leading us, and therefore, He will provide. However, we believe our responsibility is to contact people, schedule meetings, tell God’s story in our lives, and then allow the Holy Spirit to guide the hearts and minds of those we tell. Sometimes this is a very encouraging experience, and sometimes it isn’t.
Satan uses every scheme he can to discourage us. We see the amount that needs to be raised as too much, we see the list of folks who will join us as to short, we hear folks say “no” too often, and we think this is just too hard. But then I remember Hebrews 10:23 where I am commanded to …hold unswervingly to the hope I profess, because He who promised is faithful. Like I said above, we believe this is what Father is leading us to, and therefore He will be faithful to provide all that is needed.
The best part of raising support is meeting with old friends, as well as new ones, and sharing the wonderful things that the Father is doing in our lives with them. We love telling God’s story and we love seeing people engage with it.
The Hospital Bill:
Many of you will remember that while we were visiting Norway this spring, Jo fell and broke her shoulder. Because of that, we visited two hospitals, and several weeks after we returned, we received a bill. Well, here in the states, anytime I get a medical bill I always wait for the second one because usually the insurance pays it in the meantime. And, I wasn’t exactly sure what the bill said because it was in Norwegian. So, I just waited to see what would happen.
What I learned is that the Norwegians don’t handle bills the same way we do in the U.S., because the next time I heard from them about this was when we got a collection notice! Ugggghhh!!!! This time it was in English, so I knew what they were saying, and because of the length of time it took to reach us, we were already into the “extra penalty” time. I had to contact our bank and wire funds to the Norwegian collection agency. My fear was that this would somehow affect our visa because this would show up on our “permanent record in Norway,” but, everything worked out fine and the bill is paid. Lesson learned: the Norwegians don’t mess around when it comes to bills.
By the way, Jo’s shoulder has healed completely without surgery. 🙂
Taylor’s recovery and catch up on classes:
Taylor is completely recovered from her concussion and has made up all of her classes that she had to withdraw from. It was a struggle for her this summer, but she persevered and only has a few more papers to turn in. Now she is back on track to graduate on time and start grad school.
When we started thinking about what we would do with our furniture and household items, we figured we would sell what we could, give some to Lindsay and Taylor, and store the rest. This sounded reasonable because we didn’t see much sense in getting rid of furniture that we would need to buy again when we return.
Well, this week we found out that we need to rethink our plan. We discovered that a climate-controlled storage unit large enough to accommodate our furniture will cost close to $8,000 to rent for 4 years. Even though we will only be gone for 3 years, we will need storage a few months before leaving and possibly several months when we return, so we will plan on 4 years total. The idea of spending that kind of money to store our earthly treasure seems ridiculous, so we are leaning towards selling everything and starting over when we return. This is where we must go back to “if the answer starts with “well,” get rid of it.”
Another plan that we need to rethink is what to do with our beloved Riley, faithful pet for many years. Originally, Lindsay thought she would be able to take Riley, but that doesn’t appear likely now. So, just like our stuff and our support, we are trusting that Father will show us the plan that He has for us.
Our Prayer Requests:
1. Perseverance in raising support
2. Faithfulness in what Father has called us to
3. Wisdom as we make decisions about the many details facing us now
Thank you for reading and may our story be an encouragement to you.
Dave and Jo