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The Downward Climb

The Downward Climb

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The Downward Climb

Lunghezza:
265 pagine
3 ore
Editore:
Pubblicato:
Jul 11, 2013
ISBN:
9781483517094
Formato:
Libro

Descrizione

God’s ways are not our ways. In His world, humility is the way to honor, giving provides abundance, and death leads us into the fullness of eternal life. He stands today and offers us a paradoxical journey with Him in which the way up is down. The Downward Climb is written to encourage and instruct Christ followers to fully live out this strange and wonderful life.
Editore:
Pubblicato:
Jul 11, 2013
ISBN:
9781483517094
Formato:
Libro

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Anteprima del libro

The Downward Climb - Tracey Pollackov

Author:

Preface

My Story: The Beginning

At the time I first came to know Jesus, I had been married for three years. Also, I had finally graduated with my master’s degree in social work after spending fifty thousand dollars for my six years in school. I thought I was prepared for life.

I wanted to work for a social services agency until I could set up private practice and live the American dream, hopefully helping some people along the way. This was my plan, and had God allowed, it might have worked.

Fortunately, God didn’t allow it, and I became more miserable with every step I took in that direction. One year after graduation, I was burned out, and my marriage was falling apart.

Feeling isolated and not knowing where else to turn, I suggested to my husband Bill that maybe we should start going to church. My background was in the Lutheran church, and his was in the Catholic church, but we couldn’t be considered devout in either sense.

Wanting to try something new, we decided to attend a nondenominational church service. Therefore, we looked up nondenominational churches in the phone book, found one, and went.

All I can say is that the grace of God met us in that place. All of the bad church experiences we could have encountered was nowhere to be found at that moment. We found a clear, simple, and straightforward explanation of the way of salvation given by people who showed a genuine interest in who we were.

Only years later would I come to realize what a miracle this was. We found Jesus there. We didn’t find Him in books or church rituals, but in the love and lives of the people around us.

Simple and undramatic as it may seem, this was my first experience with the power of a life-witness. What followed proved to be an amazing journey of becoming a testimony to the life of God and living out that testimony for others to see.

The Downward Climb is written to teach and instruct Christians desiring to live fully for Jesus. Interwoven within is my testimony of the journey of surrender that has brought me into His life.

Indeed, by the grace of our faithful God, I am becoming the person He intends me to be. And as I share this journey with you, I hope that you will see that it can be for you as well.

Great is the joy of all who discover their lives in Him.

Introduction

Abraham: Faith or Folly?

"Okay, let me get this straight. God spoke to you? That in itself makes me think you must have lost it somewhere.

But, okay, let’s say God did speak to you. He told you to leave this land and go where?

I don’t know. He said He would show me.

What about Sarai? What about your life here? Who’s going to do your work while you’re off chasing some fantasy? And if you’re God’s man, why is your wife cursed with barrenness? Can you really trust a God who would do that to her?

I can’t explain it. But I know I heard God, and I know I have to go.

I think about Abraham, and I wonder if he had this conversation with members of his family. The last time God had spoken that clearly was hundreds of years ago, before the great flood. Hearing God as Abraham did was unheard of in that day.

Nevertheless, Abraham did go, and God did exactly as He said He would. He changed Sarai’s name to Sarah. He opened her womb, gave them a son, and made Abraham the father of the nation of Israel. His faith made the way for many generations yet to come.

So This Is the Messiah?

So you think this guy is the Messiah? Take a look at Him! He dresses in rags. He consorts with the worst low lives the world has ever seen. Are you two out of your minds?

James, John, listen to me. The fish are really running right now. We’re going to have a busy season and a good catch this year. We really need you guys here. Do yourselves and everybody else a favor and forget about this guy!

Was this Zebedee’s advice to his two young sons? If not from their father, it seems likely to have come from someone. Yet, the two young men left the boat representing their livelihoods to follow the man called Jesus.

This decision would result in the spreading of the gospel throughout the world. Millions have been reached by their message, and it has not stopped to this day.

Their lives continue to bear fruit every time someone reads about them in the Bible and is touched by a new revelation of God. What if they had chosen to stay behind?

The Call Continues. Will You Be Next?

Many examples could be given of times when God has called people to lay themselves down by leaving behind people, places, and things that were familiar, comfortable, and very valuable to them. More often than not, this required their willingness to look foolish in the sight of everyone else by believing what they could not see. This is the cost to obtain a close friendship with the Almighty and live a life of eternal significance.

The structure of God’s kingdom dictates that humility leads to exaltation, to give in abundance, and that death leads to life. These principles will lead us down into a valley, yet simultaneously bring us to the mountaintop.

In His kingdom where down is up, it’s a downward climb.

Part I

The Journey Down:

Trading Your Life for His

Chapter 1

God amidst Our Relationships

The people with whom we spend the most time know us better than anyone else. Such people can be our greatest cheerleaders. They can also be our biggest critics.

Our proximity to them gives us an ample opportunity to show the power of the life change that comes as we grow in our relationship with God. Their view is personal and intimate. They will no doubt be touched if we are steady and consistent in living the example.

Within the context of each relationship, we function differently. The needs of a marriage differ from that of a parent-child relationship. Our extended family relationships have their own unique challenges and rewards.

Our friendships and work relationships differ once again. In addition, many relationships go through stages in which we must learn to handle things differently. This is especially true in the case of growing children. Therefore, we must consider God’s counsel for each type of relationship separately.

GIVING OUR MARRIAGES

There was a time when intact families were the norm, and adhering to marriage vows was a clear expectation. Our society was not perfect then, but we all knew the rules.

This is not the case today. Divorce rates have skyrocketed, and remaining true to one's vows is seen as an option easily cast aside.

The saddest part of all is that divorce statistics vary little between the church and the world at large. Yet the truth is that God’s plan for marriage has not changed with the world’s declining standards. His Word is as applicable today as it was when it was first written.

Jesus spoke of marriage, saying, … For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh? So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate (Matthew 19:5–6).

This type of oneness and unity is as beautiful as it is rare. It is difficult but doable, if we are willing to set aside self and put Jesus at the center of this holy covenant.

Biblical Principles for Marriage

Just as we look to God's Word to define what marriage should be, we must also look there see how it works.

Despite controversy and misunderstanding, God's way is designed to bring order, peace, and purpose to married couples, not oppression or dysfunction. The roles of both men and women in marriage are a beautiful picture of God's love for His people and the response He desires from us.

Let's look at God's perspective on each.

Biblical Roles of Womanhood

Proverbs 31:10–31 gives a snapshot of biblical womanhood. It reveals her to be an elegant picture of God’s glory.

She is both nurturing and industrious. She is gentle, and at the same time, she’s a tower of strength. She is as a flower displaying the softer side of God while blooming and building strength from the harsh conditions of this world. This is the picture of feminine beauty that we see in a woman who puts her trust in God.

She can be a wife, a mother, and a businesswoman. She can be a counselor, entertainer, and community role model. Whatever the case, one thing is certain from this view of a godly woman: she builds others up and makes them better just by being who she is in Jesus.

Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised (Proverbs 31:30). We examine her role within the context of marriage from this perspective of womanhood.

Much is said about the biblical mandate for wives to live in submission to their husbands. This cannot be denied nor ignored by any serious student of Scripture.

However, the Proverbs 31 woman is a pillar that holds up those she loves, not a doormat. Having said that, let’s give the Scripture a serious look.

Wives, in the same way be submissive to your husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over by the behavior of their wives, when they see the purity and reverence of your lives. Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as braided hair or the wearing of gold jewelry and fine clothes. Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight. For this is the way the holy women of the past who put their hope in God used to make themselves beautiful (I Peter 3:1–5).

At first glance, that can be hard to swallow for the twenty-first-century American woman. But what exactly does this mean?

Submission has become almost a curse word in our society. Proponents of radical feminism have taken this concept and made it seem oppressive, disgraceful, and even abusive.

That is far from God's view of women and the intent of Scripture. True biblical submission holds within it secret power for change in both a wife and her husband.

To understand what this really means, we must return to the original text of the Bible. The word that gets translated as submissive in the above-mentioned Scripture is hypotasso. which means to arrange under. This is a more accurate picture of what God wants from women when He speaks of submitting to their husbands.

The reality of human nature is that it seeks to be first and have ultimate control in all things. This is why roles are necessary in relationships. Without roles, we are constantly vying for position. Whether it is in a marriage or in a corporate setting, such vying for position is sure to cause strife and chaos, which leads to ineffectiveness and lack of productivity.

When we vie for position in marriage, the consequences are nothing short of tragic. What began as love gets eroded and becomes something entirely different. The impact on couples is devastating, and the impact on children even more so.

God's Word simply settles this issue. We will work together for His glory, but when we come to an impasse, the burden of leadership falls to the man.

Feminine Beauty

The above-stated Scripture also speaks of the true source of beauty, which comes from within. This is a call to rethink and come apart from cultural values.

Any woman who turns on the television or looks at a magazine is instantly bombarded with messages that focus on outward appearance. We are told that we need to look, dress, and act a certain way.

We learn to focus on externals which distract us from eternal reality. The result is a painful, expensive, and time-consuming pursuit of what the world calls beauty.

We must become more serious about submitting ourselves to God and letting Him beautify our souls. I have found that as I have done this, I have begun to truly find myself. Things that were once of great importance fade in the light of eternity.

Finally, the promise stated in this Scripture is that as we submit and embrace what God calls beauty, our husbands will take notice and will have to respond to our new lives.

I have seen in my own life, as well as in others around me, how men can have their hardened hearts softened to God by their wives’ persistent courage to live for God. There is great power in this type of submission.

Biblical Roles of Manhood

While women can be made to feel oppressed by those who would misinterpret the Bible’s message, men are pressured to perform and lead.

Depending on a man’s response to pressure, he can either grow prideful, or he can collapse under the weight of it. This too must be brought into balance if we successfully follow God's plan for marriage.

Ephesians 5:25–30 addresses the role of husbands:

Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her ²⁶ to make her holy, cleansing[a] her by the washing with water through the word, ²⁷ and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. ²⁸ In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. ²⁹ After all, no one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body, just as Christ does the church— ³⁰ for we are members of his body.

Husbands are called to love their wives as Christ loved the church. The love of Jesus compelled Him to leave a place of glory and honor to become a man to whom we could relate. It drove Him to perform many hours of tiresome service.

He chose to risk being misunderstood (which He often was), in order to teach and impart His Father’s word. Ultimately, it led to His death which was necessary to bring us life. This is the kind of love that men are called to show their wives. If women need a reason to submit to their husbands, this is a great one.

One could argue that Jesus did this because He was divine, and therefore, it cannot be expected of mortal men. Yet it is a command of God noted in Scripture. He will not command something and not provide a way to obey that command. We get a hint about this in 1 Corinthians 11:3 when it says, But I want you to realize that the head of every man is Christ …

Husbands are not given this responsibility and expected to carry it out alone. They are to be in submission to God just as their wives are in submission to them.

In the context of this relationship with God, there is power, wisdom, and the ability to lead. No matter what our role, we are not alone.

Finally, as husband and wife work and live together as Christ-followers, there is to be a mutual respect and love for one another. It is His command to all believers both to love one another (John 13:34) and to submit to one another out of reverence for Christ (Ephesians 5:21). This command is to guide us in all relationships with other believers, including our believing spouses.

GIVING OUR CHILDREN

My husband and I have worked together to raise our two children over the course of the last 12 years. God has given us a young man named Luke and a young lady named Chloe who is three years younger than her brother.

We have experienced both joy and hardship in raising our children. At times it has been a delight. But at other times, it has seemed more like a war.

Raising godly children in an ungodly world requires that we do things much differently from the world around us. We must not be afraid to fight for our children.

Submitting Our Children to God

The task of rightly shaping another human being is much too great for us to accomplish on our own. We must give our children to God if they are to have the opportunity to grow spiritually and become the people God has planned for them to be. This is part of our process of giving ourselves. It is crucial for their well-being as well as for our own.

For a biblical look at this act, let’s turn our attention to Hannah and Samuel. Hannah was barren and had deeply longed for a child. Not only did she desire a child, but barrenness carried with it a tremendous stigma in that day. To further complicate the matter, her husband had another wife who taunted Hannah because of her barrenness.

It was an extremely painful situation. Out of her pain, Hannah cried out to God, asking for a child. God answered her prayer by giving her Samuel.

Hannah had a lot of reasons to want to hold on to Samuel. Yet she decided that after he was weaned from her, she would take him to the temple and present him to the Lord. Here he would live and grow and serve the Lord all the days of his life.

Hannah went to the temple and introduced herself to the priest. After telling him her story, she offered the boy to God for His service. She said, I prayed for this child, and the LORD has granted me what I asked of him. ²⁸ So now I give him to the LORD. For his whole life he will be given over to the LORD (1 Samuel 1:27–28).

What a powerful example of devoted faith and trust in God. This has to be the way in which we give our children.

While they most likely won’t have to leave our homes at such a young age, we do need to conscientiously and unceasingly dedicate our children to God. So, how do we do this?

First, we must gain a clear perspective on such dedication. When we dedicate our children, we are giving God full authority to carry out His plan in their lives. We are promising to seek the Lord in all matters concerning our children and coming into agreement that His plan is best and will be upheld and carried out.

If we had previous plans for our children, they are to be sacrificed. Our children become the property of God, and we become His servants to assist Him in carrying out His plan

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