This past Sunday at church, I sat behind a young mother holding her baby. The baby was a happy little guy and would often drool down his mom’s shoulder. I’m sure it wasn’t comfortable for her, but it made me smile. This momma had fought the “Sunday Morning Battle” and overcome. She made it to church to worship with her family.
It is no easy task for a mom with young children to make it to church on a Sunday morning. Let’s be honest, it is a real battle. The list of good excuses is long and easy: I need sleep, I just want a break, we can read the Bible on our own, we will be a distraction, the kids will make a fuss and I’ll just end up sitting in the nursery. Hey, and church is optional, right? It isn’t work or a social event. Most people don’t go.
Plus the orchestration it takes to get the family out the door is a grand production of its own. You have to get everyone ready and looking decent, pack up what feels like half your household, and get yourself ready. This often equates to a rushed shower (maybe) and cramming into 10 minutes what used to take an hour. It is so much work.
I get the temptation to stay home on Sunday mornings, I really do. I battled the same internal argument with myself not so many years ago. There is a true, strong pull from the world to cave in and stay home. But when we read Hebrews 10:24, 25 we don’t see any asterisks: “And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, 25 not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.” The habit of the world is to stay home and stay away, but there is no blessing in that! That is not where this verse says the stirring and encouraging takes place. It happens with others, when we meet together.
In Acts 2:42 it says, “And they devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.” True devotion is proven when tested with challenges and temptations. What is your level of devotion in this challenging period of life?
Am I leaving out the dads? Yep. This is a blog for women. I would love to think the dads are leading and helping Sunday mornings so that the whole family gets to service. Many do, but not all. Moms, regardless of what he does, you still need to get up, get the kids and yourself ready (even if you don’t feel perfectly put together) and get to church. No, it is not about legalism and church attendance, it is about obedience and doing what God calls you to. The Church is the body of Christ (Col. 1:18) and his bride (Rev. 21:2). If you are a Christian, it is where you will be – together.
I’m not talking out the side of my mouth here, I did this as a single mother for years with a baby who had terrible colic and then separation anxiety. I spent many hours in the nursery with him wondering why I even bothered trying every week. But God uses all things. In the nursery I met wonderful, godly people with servant hearts and God used them to minister to me.
So to all you moms out there coming to church with young children, thank you! Thank you for your devotion and for overcoming all the easy excuses. The whole church body benefits when you are there, we are not whole without you (see 1 Cor. 12). You serve a vital role that you may not even realize. Keep coming, keep bringing the kids. Come with spit up down your shoulder and with your over-active toddler. We want you there. God commands fellowship and what he commands, he will enable you to do with his strength. Obedience to God brings blessings. Come and be blessed.
“You shall be holy as I am holy.” – 1 Peter 1:16
Does serving an infinitely holy God intimidate you? If not, it should. This quote of God by Peter should cause a great pause, it should initiate an examination of your heart. Don’t skip over it. This is not an isolated verse, it is also found in Leviticus 11:44 and 45, 19:2, 20:7 and there are other verses very similar such as Matthew 5:48, “You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”
As Christians we cherish the “shall” in the verse from 1 Peter 1:16 above (praise God for helping verbs). There is coming a day when we will be fully holy. That will be the day we get to be with our Savior and before our God, complete (wow, do we look forward to that day!). But, while we are here on earth and in the process of holification (yep, made that up) what are we to do? We read in the Bible that we (true Christians) are progressively being conformed to the image of Jesus “from one degree of glory to another” (2 Cor. 3:18), but, what does that look like today, this very day that you are reading these words? Good question! Here is the answer: it is displayed in the very next thing you do.
We often like to step way back and take a broad panoramic view of our lives and hope it displays progressive holiness. This is a very good thing to do and your life will image that promise from God if you are truly his. But, what about the close-up view of today, even this hour, or the next minute? How do you take the enormous task of becoming more like Jesus and display that in your mundane, ordinary life right now? It starts with the very next thing you do.
Are you about to speak to your husband? Speak words of respect and love. Are you talking with co-workers? Refuse to gossip and find opportunities to turn the conversation toward the gospel. Are you wiping snotty noses? Do so in love and because Jesus also humbled himself and served others. Are you deciding what to do for the evening? Make a choice that accords with Scripture and pleases God. Do holiness now.
We can easily get caught up in “putting off” holiness for another day and just trust that God will get us there eventually. We like to think of ourselves as “long-term projects”, maybe saving holiness for our golden years. This is a rotten way to think and says very little for our zeal for the Lord and his desire for us to “grow up into salvation” (1 Peter 2:2). Instead we need to “Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord.” (Hebrews 12:14). We need to work at our holiness with discipline and be, “bringing holiness to completion in the fear of God.” (2 Cor. 7:1). Fear God and shape up. We are his kids and we need to act like it.
Understand, it is okay to feel overwhelmed when you read verses calling for your holiness. Imitating our perfect Savior is a huge task! Actually a God-sized task, only accomplished by God himself. That is exactly why Jesus sent his Spirit, the Helper, to reside in you. It is the Spirit that produces the fruit of holiness that honors God. We really can do nothing apart from him (John 15:5). The Holy Spirit will help you be more like Jesus, from the next thing to the golden years.
Take comfort in knowing that when God says, “You shall be holy as I am holy, “it is not just a command but also a promise. You will someday experience the fullness of the rewards of being washed clean with the blood of Jesus. Our holification will be completed (it’s a good word). We will truly be holy like our Father is. It will be a great day!
Until that time, Ladies, intentionally work on your holiness. Continually do the next thing like Jesus would.
We had a large sand box when my kids were little. The boys really enjoyed it, but we finally got rid of it and I was happy to have it gone. Why? Because, as all moms know, sand gets EVERYWHERE. It would get in their clothes and shoes, they would track it into the house, and it would be in their hair (because, of course dumping sand on each other is what boys do).
I see a lot of sand all over people lately. All you have to do is listen to their words or watch their actions. Sand. All over them. Stuck to the bottom of their feet, falling off their hands and flowing out of their mouths. It’s a disturbing sight.
It is not a complicated message, but most still get it wrong. Here is the story straight from the mouth of Jesus:
Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25 And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. 26 And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. 27 And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it. - Matthew 7:24-27
Basic construction class 101: building your house on the rock = wise, building your house on the sand = foolish. The rains, floods, and winds are coming to beat on your house. No “maybe” about it, a storm is going to hit. So what is the key to having a house built on the rock to keep it standing? It is the difference between a wise man and a foolish one - both hear the words, but only one does them.
What are the “words of mine” spoken of in these verses? Well, Jesus is the speaker so they are his words. And if you look at the context of where they are found, they are at the end of Jesus’s “Sermon on the Mount”. So Jesus is meaning all that he said while speaking to this crowd, all of Matthew chapters 5, 6, and 7 (really all the words of God). Now it would be good for you to go and read the sermon to remind yourself of what was said. You will find that each passage comes back to the heart. If your heart belongs to God, you will be inclined by the Holy Spirit to obey (more and more s as you grow).
In other words, those who know God have their lives built upon him (the Rock) because they have listened to and obeyed him. “He only is my rock and my salvation, my fortress; I shall not be shaken.” Ps. 62:6. Others may hear the same words but it is not in them to obey because the Holy Spirit does not reside within them. They build upon sand and have no security. Therefore they are shaken easily when difficulties come and will eventually fall and fall in a big way. They may look fairly solid on the outside, but trust me, sand makes one very uncomfortable in many miserable and hidden ways.
So, Ladies, what is my point today? Check your feet, are you standing in sand? Do you feel scared about your future? Has the recent election or a situation in your life have you acting out of worry? What is coming out of your mouth? Are they words of fear, hate, anxiety or anger? You probably have sand in your teeth, better check the mirror of God’s Word.
“What comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart,” Matt. 15:8. If your heart’s foundation is sand then you will see evidence of it. Sand out of the mouth is the first telltale sign of a desperate need for relocation. Your foundation is crumbling, it is not meant to last, it is designed to fail. Time to pray to the Builder while time is left.
Ladies, if God is your rock upon which you stand then your words during times like this will also prove it. “Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt,” Colossians 4:6. Grace and salt, not sand. You will not fall because the Architect did not design you that way, you will be kept standing forever by his power, there is no need for worry here. Continue to hear his words and do them, allowing him to continue his work in you. Be an unshakable woman by his power proclaiming, “He only is my rock and my salvation, my fortress; I shall not be shaken.”
This is the blog that I don’t want to write and you don’t want to read. Can we just be honest about that right up front? Like bad medicine you need to take but only want to spit out. The sweetness can only be tasted when the healing comes… but, oh how sweet the healing is when it does come. So, take a deep breath with me, ladies, it’s time to swallow.
Introverted, anti-social, hermit, reserved, don’t like crowds, being shy, a wallflower, a loner. I have used each of these terms to describe myself many times in my life (heck, the past week). They are a handy excuse for my behavior and serve as a warning for people to stay back. Like saying, “Please carefully remove yourself from my precious personal bubble. Um, one more step back…aaand one more. There, now we are far enough apart that we can be pleasant friends but not have to get caught up in any messy personal issues.”
I enjoy using the above terms if I must be honest (and I must)…and I know I’m not the only one. If this blog caught your attention you are probably in a similar boat as me (not the same boat hence the issue). You may be offended already that I have called it a…SIN. I don’t like it either, but I’m not the boss and I don’t make the rules.
A verse that came up in a women’s Bible study recently, and that just keeps slapping me in the face, is Proverbs18:1 which reads, “Whoever isolates himself seeks his own desire; he breaks out against all sound judgement.” Did you feel that smack like I did? Hear that clear element of selfishness in “seeks his own desire” and foolishness in “breaks out against all sound judgement”?
How can isolation be selfish? When we distance ourselves from others we are not able to connect and display Christ to them. We are not there to speak God’s words of encouragement to them. Paul in his ministries lived with the people and worked with the people in order to win them to salvation, “I have become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some.” 1 Corinthians 9:22. This is not possible if we are hidden away.
How is isolation foolish? Our purpose for breathing is to glorify God through sharing the gospel and proclaiming his name to the nations. Hard to be effective in this calling when our noses are in a novel or we are “just not in the mood to deal with people”. Taking ourselves out of interaction with others is like taking ourselves out of the race and still expecting to win, pure foolishness.
So, ladies, let’s be big girls and call sin “sin” when the Bible calls it out. No sense softening evil to make it comfy. We don’t want it comfy. We want sin as uncomfortable in our lives as putting on a wet swim suit covered in sand or like a mouth full of gravel (Proverbs 20:17).
Is taking time to be alone always sin? My goodness no. There are times of needed refueling and resting. Time to get yourself away from the world to spend time alone with God (epic oxymoron when you think about it). Jesus himself often moved away from the crowds that followed him, he also often got up early in the morning and found a solitary place to pray. Time alone can be good, acceptable and beneficial when done for the proper reasons.
The motive is the crucial difference, the essence of whether the removing of yourself from others is a sin or a time of godly refueling. Think carefully, what is causing you to want to shut the world out? Is it fear of rejection, judgement, being socially inept, not wanting others to see the “real you”? Is it laziness? As painful as these can be, they are inadequate excuses. We cannot hide behind our feelings. Spend time studying who you are in Christ for your strength, looking at him not yourself. “For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.” 2 Timothy 1:7.
So consider this a reminder to check your heart - is how you are living fulfilling what God has called you to? If you are claimed by God, you contain a treasure beyond measure - step out and share it. Multiply your joy in fellowship. No more keeping others at arm’s length for fear of discomfort. Decide not to be okay with selfish and foolish isolation, be disgusted by it; shed the suit and spit out the gravel. Be bold and connect with others, dare to get messy and love people with the crazy love of Christ and… allow them to love you back.
Praise God and wage spiritual war with the incredible act of engaging with others.
I admit it, I talk to myself…a lot. It can drive the people around me nuts. They aren’t sure if they are supposed to respond or ignore me. I often give a running commentary on whatever it is I’m doing. I also discuss out loud what I plan to do next. I talk to myself about how my hair looks or about what I should wear. I talk about what I should make for supper (often mixed with grumbling).
Now that I homeschool, I have heard it said that talking to myself is okay because it means I’m having a parent-teacher conference. I like that one. I’ve also heard it said that people who talk to themselves are usually very smart people. I really like that one. I’m just going to assume that one is true.
I don’t think I’m alone in this. I’m guessing that you talk to yourself at least sometimes too; many people do (at least the really smart ones). We simply think out loud to process our thoughts.
Today I want to challenge you (and me) to try something new. Instead of talking to yourself, preach to yourself. You heard me right, preach to yourself. Tell yourself what to do, out loud. Speak truth into your life. I don’t think this is a new idea, and it is not very complex. Yet, how many of us have done it before? Not many.
The author of Psalm 43:5 talked directly to his soul. “Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God.”
He asks some good questions…“Soul, why are you sad and feeling so rotten?” And then tells his soul exactly what to do… “Hope in God! Times of praising are coming, God has saved you!”
We need to do the same. See the truth and promises that are in God’s word and then tell ourselves to trust them and to obey the teachings. This is more than just a hearty pep talk. It is a proclamation of God’s supreme words over your life and over your flesh.
When ANXIETY rears its ugly head, preach Philippians 4:6-7 “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
Experiencing FEAR: Isaiah 41:10 “Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” And 2 Timothy 1:7 “For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.”
COMPLACENCY, Revelation 3:15-16: “I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot! So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth.” and Proverbs 1:32 “For the simple are killed by their turning away, and the complacency of fools destroys them.”
INSECURE, preach Psalm 91. UNLOVED, preach Romans 8. ANGRY, preach James 1:20 and Proverbs 15:1. Feeling BITTER, preach Ephesians 4:31-31. Having trouble FORGIVING, preach Colossians 3:13. Lacking ZEAL for the Lord, Preach Psalm 150. SUFFERING, preach 1 Peter 4:12-19.
What our lives would look like if we stopped just talking to ourselves and started preaching God’s living words to ourselves!
So, Ladies, the challenge is on. Demand it from yourself. Don’t play the victim of circumstances or allow your emotions to toy with this new creation that God created you to be. Get in God’s word, arm yourself with truth and preach it!
I was at a summer party at friend’s home several years ago and a group of us were sitting out on their screened in deck. One of the ladies tripped on the threshold as she walked through the doorway to join us. She looked at the host and told him that he really needed to get that fixed. His response? With a big smile on his face he said loudly, “I LOVE my wife!!” There were looks of confusion so he continued, “She has walked through that same doorway hundreds of times and has never once complained. She is so low maintenance, I love her!”
The comment has obviously stuck with me and has caused me to stop and think several times in my life… am I low maintenance? Uhh…sometimes? I have to say, I am waaaay lower maintenance than I started out 14 years ago and that has to count for something, right?
Are you low maintenance? Now, I’m not talking about how long it takes to do your hair and make-up or if you have high fashion standards. That is not my concern today. Are you easy to live with? Is life with you a pleasure or a pain?
These questions may help: Do you fly off the handle if a negative comment is made? Do you wait for compliments and then feel hurt if they do not come? Are you constantly feeling as if your expectations are not met? Do you find yourself unhappy more often than happy? Are home improvements too often your topic of conversation? Does your husband accuse you of nagging? Do you have a “to do list” for your husband that is never done?
Now don’t think that you should never make a list for your husband, talk about home improvements or ask him to pick up his laundry (my goodness, what would we talk about?). But if you are always needy or have a constant stream of demands coming from your mouth, there is an issue (and a weary husband). If your husband thinks you are never satisfied with him, he will feel like a failure. How will he tend to react when your mouth begins to open? Cringe, avoidance and defensiveness.
The Bible does not ignore this topic. Solomon speaks to it in Proverbs, and Solomon should know. He had hundreds of wives (this was terrible disobedience on his part and led in part to the deterioration of Israel through idol worship and the splitting of the kingdom. Not cool, Solomon). However check out what he gleaned from his many years of experience:
“…a wife’s quarreling is a continual dripping of rain.” – Proverbs 19:13
“A continual dripping on a rainy day and a quarrelsome wife are alike.” – Proverbs 27:15
Ouch. If those hurt check out this one:
“It is better to live in a corner of the housetop than in a house shared with a quarrelsome wife.” – Proverbs 21:9
A never-satisfied wife who is eager to argue makes life miserable. It would be better for a man to live on the roof and be exposed to the elements rather than be exposed to his wife’s tongue in a comfortable home. I do not want to be the woman described in those verses!
Aside from how it makes our husbands feel, this type of behavior dishonors God and is unbecoming of his daughters. We cannot serve our husbands and encourage them to be godly men by beating them with our tongues.
So, if you were like me when I first got married and keeping your mouth shut at the littlest infraction does not come easy, you need to do some intentional work towards becoming low maintenance (i.e. a gracious and kind wife that is a joy to live with).
Pray and ask God to work in your heart. Realize if you are being too demanding and ask God to change your attitude and perceptions. Talk to your husband and ask for forgiveness if you need to. Tell him you will be trying your best to not pelt him with demands and requests. Kindly make your desires known (men are still not mind readers) but refuse to nag or be pushy.
The key word to remember here is GRACE! Be like Jesus and give it freely. “And from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace.” John 1:16. Give your husband loads of it and kindly ask for it in return when you know you have messed up. Jesus is your source, so be in the Word daily.
For all you newbies out there, take comfort - it does get easier! As time passes, you begin to realize what is worth bringing up and what just really doesn’t matter in the eternal scheme of things. Always take the long view of life, gaze into eternity. Dirty clothes on the floor will not matter one iota when we meet Jesus - I certainly don’t plan to bring it up to him that day.
Ladies, let’s refuse to be drips any longer and instead be a pipeline of God’s awesome grace. Cause your husband to praise God for you!
Ladies, the world we live in has sold us a bundle of lies about our gender and what constitutes strength. I for one am sick of it.
In my younger years I bought into all of it so quickly I am embarrassed. Not even thinking to check it against what God has to say. I was a smart woman; I thought I knew what it meant to be strong.
I really had no clue.
When a woman was cheated on by her husband I would side with the throng shouting, “Leave that unfaithful jerk! You don’t deserve that. Move on and make him sorry. The children will get over it, they are better off without him.”
That is how I felt until meeting a woman who became like a mentor to me about 12 years ago. I admired her so much; she sang the praises of Jesus Christ and of her husband too. I longed to be that in love with my husband. After knowing her for about a year, she told me their story. A story of shocking infidelity and even more shocking reconciliation. A story of staying and not leaving, a story of a couple renewed and redeemed by the power of Christ alone. A victory story ordained by God.
Since that time I have walked with others who have gone through that same type of pain and have chosen to stay. I watched as God turned their anger into a passion to not allow Satan the win; watched their drive to serve God over serving their flesh and their desire to just run. I saw peace restored, husbands repenting, marriages now not just restored but soaring all for the glory of God.
Now I know I have witnessed the true strength of a woman.
Not so many years ago, my mental picture of a strong woman was one with ambition, who had a successful career and took care of her family. Someone who had it all together and worked hard to accomplish her dreams.
Now having walked with women who struggle with anxiety, wrestle with depression, and deal with chronic pain, I see real strength. These same women call on God for help, trusting in him to carry them on. They pick themselves up and walk out their doors to face a harsh world that they don’t seem to fit into. Despite the Enemy’s attacks, they keep getting back up and loving on others. They worship with passion and praise with joy. Doing battle bravely with the sword of God’s Word.
I used to think being a submissive wife was a joke. Offensive oppression and disturbing old church ways. Until I read how the Savior was crushed and hung on wood because he was submitting to his Father’s will…in order to save me…un-submissive and selfish me. Until I saw submission modeled out for me in relationships with such beauty that I can no longer argue against its purpose, command or its effectiveness. I now see how brilliantly marriages dance and thrive when strong women allow their partner to lead. She is his equal yet has different steps to tread with a beauty all her own. A beauty modeled after Christ and the Holy Spirit. Glorious and strong submission.
The career woman can be a strong woman in Christ, but she is also the woman who gives up her worldly status to stay home and raise her children. She is the one who stands up and says “No!” to the teaching of the world when everyone else is saying, “Okay, I guess, whatever.” She is the one who picks up her Bible to read instead of the latest trend novel. She is the one loving the unlovable and forgiving the unforgivable. She cherishes her God-given gender and the beauty of its purpose. She is the one who chooses life instead of convenient murder. She is the one who works hard at pleasing her Lord even if that displeases the world around her.
The strong woman trusts in her God who tells her, “Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” Isaiah 41:10.
Ladies, don’t eat up the lies the world is trying to push down your throat. You know deep in your heart that God’s way always has been and always will be the best way. His opinion is the only one that matters. Show true strength in this world; admire true strength in this world.
Be determined to walk that narrow path of truth while others carouse down easy street. If you have been living with a misunderstanding of strength, time to take a stand and get it right. Hear God’s word today and let this be your prayer right now:
“For you are great and do wondrous things; you alone are God. Teach me your way, O Lord, that I may walk in your truth; unite my heart to fear your name. I give thanks to you, O Lord my God, with my whole heart, and I will glorify your name forever.” Psalm 86:10-12.
I love garbage day. I also like recycle day. Those days are Thursdays and Fridays for me each week. I really like Thursdays and Fridays. After the fire at our business we got excited on Tuesdays, the day they emptied out our big dumpster so we could refill it again for the following Tuesday.
One of my favorite activities (nearly a hobby) is taking donations to thrift stores. I love dropping off boxes full of clothing, toys, books and décor that I just don’t need. I really feel a weight off of my shoulders. I feel lighter and less tied to this world.
Some of you (though not all) can relate completely. You get me.
This superficial and short-lived enjoyment we experience of decluttering our homes needs to be applied in a much more profound way to our spiritual life. We need to clean house and take out the trash. Let’s look at this in two ways today: physical and spiritual (or tangible and intangible).
First, the physical (tangible). Get the junk out of your home that does not honor God. Clothes, movies, music, games, books, pictures, photographs, letters, artwork, magazines, certain medications, certain foods and drinks, posters, décor, idols. Anything that you would want to hide, turn off, or change out of if Jesus either walked into your house, hitched a ride in your car or stopped for a visit at work. Trash it all or even burn it. Do not donate your sin or shame to someone else.
Take a tour of your home with a trash bag in hand and go to work. You may be sadly surprised at how quickly you fill it and grab another. Some things may be hard to part with, but do it anyway. We don’t want to find ourselves trading God’s blessings for worthless dust. “Those who pay regard to vain idols forsake their hope of steadfast love.” Jonah 2:8.
Secondly, the spiritual (intangible). The same applies; get the junk out of your mind and heart. If the Spirit of Christ has mercifully come to dwell within you, don’t make him room with fear, lust, anger and bitterness. “Do you not know that you are God's temple and that God's Spirit dwells in you?” 1 Cor. 3:16. Jesus died so that you could be emptied of trash like this and could be filled with his gifts of faith and grace; overflowing with fruits like love, peace and kindness.
Just like with your home, take a spiritual inventory of your heart. What is there that needs to be brought out and burned? Unforgiveness? Hatred of others or yourself? Envy? Anxiety? Kill it all with the power of the Sword. “And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.” Galatians 5:24. Don’t stop there, do not stay empty and vulnerable (see Matt. 12:43-45). Fill the space with ammunition for when new rubbage tries to take up residence. Filling up on God’s Word so that when new hurts want to hang out and fester, you can turn them away for lack of space. “But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.” Galatians 5:16
I pray that you will hold your own trash day very soon and will ask for God’s help and his strength to accomplish it. Rid yourself of what is toxic and causing gross stagnation in you. It is time to be renewed and refreshed by the cleansing waters flowing freely from the throne of God.
“Since we have these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from every defilement of body and spirit, bringing holiness to completion in the fear of God” 2 Cor. 7:1
Ladies, do your spring cleaning for real this year. Make a difference in your heart and home. It’s time to take out the trash.
Peyton finally agreed to go on a waterslide with Troy and me at the indoor water park last week. As we ascended the ever climbing stairs, his grip on the railing tightened. I could see the doubts rising in his mind; this was hard work for him. By the time we reached the top, with only a few groups ahead of us, Peyton began to crumble. The tears started and his head shook as he announced that he had changed his mind. He was not going on this ridiculously dangerous and potentially deadly slide (yes, he is my dramatic one). He planned to walk back down the steps and meet us at the end; preferring safety over risk.
At that point I did what every other practical and loving mom would do. I looked him in the eye, told him he was not going to die and that he better shape up because I planned to plant his bottom in that raft whether he wanted to go or not. Peyton, having been mothered like this before and having had plenty of past experiences similar to this one, said okay and took a deep breath, still trembling but resigned to his potentially dismal fate.
Am I mean? Yes, I can be. I can be pushy, persistent, and downright bossy. Have you not heard me telling you to read your Bible with your pencil?? As we all tend to be, I am hardest on those I love the most. I most often correct and discipline my children (you’re welcome). I most often rebuke and instruct those that I mentor and disciple. I love them way too much not to.
This is not being mean, though it can feel that way at times (and if I do it incorrectly it is mean and sinful). Done biblically, it is loving. Scripture is designed to train us and for us to train others, “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness,” 2 Timothy 3:16.
I didn't force Peyton up those stairs and down that slide because I am a bully mom or wanted to torture him. I did it because I love him (and we used it for biblical training later). I have been his mom for 11 years, I know him very well. He needs to be pushed to grow; he needs to know what it feels like to fear and to overcome (moms, don’t shelter your children from all fear). I knew he could handle it and that it would be good for him.
It is quite easy to see where I am going with this one. We need some pushing in life. We need pushed toward things we would never do on our own. God will often give us a nice shove once in a while to get us to grow. We also need to push ourselves more than we do. Just as in exercise we have to lift more or run farther or faster to gain improvement. In our spiritual life (which is much more important, see 1 Tim. 4:8) we need to go deeper with God and put in the effort to get closer to God and to see more of him.
If we were already perfect and as Christ-like as we could get we wouldn’t need any pushing. However, as Paul said in Philippians 3: 12, “Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own.” Paul needed to keep working, “pressing on” in order to become more perfect like Jesus. If Paul wasn’t there I know I’m not there yet. He was still pushing. He was still, “straining forward to what lies ahead” and pressing “on toward the goal” verses 13 and 14 respectively. Do the hard work it takes to strain and press on, study the Word intently, reach out to difficult people with the gospel, give sacrificially.
In other words, allow your Heavenly Parent, who loves you very much and knows you better than you know yourself, send you up some stairs and toss you down some scary waterslides for your own good. Better yet, go with joy, keeping your trusting eyes on Dad. Rejoice in the ride and see where he takes you and how it grows you. Always, always closer to Him.
Peyton survived the treacherous family rafting waterslide, we barely got wet. Seriously, on a scale of danger from 1-10 it would have been a two. Peyton was so psyched that he was jumping up and down, pumping his skinny arms in the air and asking to go again. Which we did, happily, again and again. He even ventured on the slightly more dangerous family rafting waterslide (maybe a three). He overcame and had grown in courage.
Ladies, time to buck up, climb the stairs and get wet. Follow God where he leads, trusting in his sovereign goodness and mastery over the plans of your life. Push and get pushed and grow in God.
When I was young my family delivered newspapers for our little one street town of Homestead, Iowa. Each morning bright and early (or dark and early) we would get up, pack the papers into big heavy bags and head out on our bikes to do our route. I have to admit my older brother and sister did this much more than I did, but I did my share and still have many memories of it. It was one of those “character building” experiences that are required when growing up.
One summer morning my Dad was helping me get the last few papers delivered; we were both on our bikes. There had been a hard rain the night before and you could still smell it in the air. Drowned worms were all over the road and I would swerve to miss them.
I remember riding by the town feed store and seeing up ahead a huge toad in the middle of the road. Once I spotted him I couldn’t take my eyes off of that ugly thing; I felt like he was staring at me and I was staring at him. Wasn’t he going to move? My bike felt unstoppable as it traveled my exact line of sight, exactly where I didn’t want it to go…“SPLAT!” I rode right over the middle of that bloated toad. I can still hear the sound of it exploding into a squishy and disgusting mess all over the street and my bike too.
I then did what every young girl would have done after that, jumped off my bike and ran to my Dad screaming and sobbing. Dad did what every caring father would have done after that, held me in his arms and laughed his head off. Telling me between huge chuckles that the toad had been dead already and that I had the entire road to travel on, why didn’t I just go around it?
My Dad still laughs at this story to this day, over 20 years later. You just ask him and you’ll see.
As gross as it may be, it provides a great illustration for how we often handle the problems we face in life.
That bloated toad = anything bad, difficult or ugly in your life. Once we have our sights set on it, we have trouble seeing or thinking about anything else. Often we think we can handle it fine on our own, only calling on God if we need to (that would be considered a drastic measure reserved only for emergencies). Yet, this never seems to work out right. We seem to keep running smack dab back into that toad every time, making a horrible mess of things.
Here is the problem: when we focus on the problem we begin to orbit around it and allow it to have a gravitational pull on us. We use the desire to avoid the sin as the reason to alter our behaviors. We try to do this using our own strength.
Is your struggle with lust? You then try to keep all of those temptations at arm’s length as you circle around it. Eventually you fail and are in a mess again. Marriage issues? Focus on the problems, try harder and it will work out. Ha! Right. Using these strategies makes as much sense as being on a diet and staring at chocolate cake all day.
The fix: we MUST refocus our sights - take our eyes off the problem and place them squarely on the solution; off the toad and onto Jesus Christ.
2 Corinthians 4:18 says it like this, “So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” (NIV) We need to keep our eyes set on Jesus, the only possible solution to heart problems (which all of these are). He is the only one who can fix our heart issues, we certainly can’t, no matter how hard we work at it or how many therapists we see.
God allows these toads in your life for good reason; he wants your attention for sanctification. Some of us are slow learners and deal with many toads in life. All the while Jesus is saying, “Hello? Look at me! You need me to get you through this. Quit giving attention to your sin and turn around and let me save you from it.”
I ran into that toad because I was looking right at it. If I had looked past it to where I wanted to go, I would have missed it altogether. Where do you want to go? If you are a “follower of Jesus” then you need to keep your eyes on the one you say you are following!
Let me tell you, all issues, anxieties and obstacles look mighty puny next to a huge God.
No wonder Jesus remarks many times in scripture about how little faith we have!
We can’t be aware of the might and power of our God when we have our eyes set on earthly toads. Time to start looking up. Call on God in prayer and get into his Word.
Our heart often travels where our eyes lead it. Your sight matters. “The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light,” Matthew 6:22. I enCOURAGE you to get your sight checked today.