adult teeth

As believers we know we are to avoid sin. We are told from the time we first sit in our Sunday School chairs until the last day we sit in the church pew. We know what we are supposed to do, but are we aware when it creeps into our lives?

Recently, some young people I know and love have fallen down in their walks and are now choosing sin over Faith. It breaks my heart watching them make decisions that will effect them for years to come. At this time, the sin has not so consumed them that they are without hope, but it is working on them. Much like a teething toddler.

When a toddler’s first teeth erupt, they gum and chew on many things–nearly anything they can get their mouth on. And while their teeth are sharp, they aren’t capable of destroying things. Adult teeth, however, are stronger, able to tear into and truly grind up food.

Now imagine these teeth as the teeth of sin. When sin begins in a person’s life, it can look like a simple slip up, an “innocent” mistake. But if that sin is not stopped, the teeth not removed at an early stage, it will sink deeper into the person’s heart, soul, and mind. It will become a habit. It will become destructive. Even to the point of destroying the person completely.

We are encouraged as believers to immediately remove ourselves from any situation that could cause us to stumble into sin. Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you ( James 4:7). It’s when we decide to hang around the slippery edge that we put ourselves in jeopardy. We may think we are immune to a certain type of sin, but we are not. This kind of pride will only bring us to a different sin.

Dear Ones, I have watched marriages crumble, children walk away from their Faith, and leaders have to step down because of their sins. We are not immune. We are victors through Christ’s power, but only with Him next to us can we avoid sin (1 Corinthians 15:57).

This Christmas season may seem an odd time to talk about sin, but truly, it is not. It is the very reason we have Christmas. For this reason he had to be made like them, fully human in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that he might make atonement for the sins of the people (Hebrews 2:17).

O Best Beloved,  let us recognize the nibbles of sin before the teeth sink in and let us hold fast to Him (Joshua 22:5) for He will give us strength.

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what should you be?

But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything done in it will be laid bare. Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives (2 Peter 3:10-11).

As a new believer, I often thought I had to live a perfect life, no bad actions, no bad words, no bad thoughts. It was exhausting. I realized that in order for me to continue on my Faith Journey I would need to hold firm to Who I was following, but it would not be something I could do perfectly.

I stumbled, I fell, I repented, I got back up, I continued along with Christ. It is the way of life as a believer. We cannot be perfect this side of Heaven, but at the same time, we are called to strive for perfection according to the life Jesus lived.

So then, dear friends, since you are looking forward to this, make every effort to be found spotless, blameless and at peace with him (2 Peter 3:14).

As brothers and sisters in Christ, we are called to encourage, correct, love, and pray for our brothers and sisters in their own walks. We have to recognize that what we do will either be a building block or stumbling block for those around us.

So much of my walk has been made easier or harder by those who claim to follow Christ. Those who helped me encouraged me to read my Bible, get involved in a Bible study, gather with other believers who had walked on their Faith Journey longer than me and learn from them. I grew exponentially when I was in these kinds of settings. I learned more about being an authentic Christian and how to help others in their walks.

The harder times came when I was around people who made the Faith Journey into a “Do and Don’t list.” If I danced, watched certain movies, listened to particular radio stations, wore my clothes, hair, etc. in an unacceptable way, I was failing in my faith. It was exhausting to try to attain their ever changing rules and regulations.

Dear Ones, how is your walk going? Are you feeling invigorated when you gather with fellow believers? Do you feel like the Holy Spirit is practically surrounding your time together? Or are you feeling like you are going to fall down under the weight of the things you can and cannot do because you accepted Christ?

O Best Beloved,  we are to live as Christ did, perfectly and being perfected all at the same time. Remember, when we said yes to Jesus, we said goodbye to who we were. We said we wanted God to move in our lives and challenge, encourage, grow, and correct us to reflect the image of Jesus to those around us.

We were and are becoming more and more like Him everyday we seek to follow Him instead of our selfishness. Take heart, sweet brothers and sisters, we are more now that we ever were and less than what we will be– because of Christ. Be encouraged.

But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever! Amen (2 Peter 3:18).

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snacking

Yesterday we ate ourselves silly with a huge meal of thanksgiving. Today is the day of snacking and eating little bits here and there throughout the day. Football games, Black Friday shopping, binge-watching shows, anything is possible to pass the time with family and friends.

I realized that our relationship with God can be a lot like Thanksgiving. Each Sunday we fill ourselves to the brim with good things and then we fast during the week. Forgetting to continue to fill our hearts, minds, and souls with Scripture, prayer, fellowship with other believers and God Himself.

Each day seems busier than the last, but there is still the opportunity to “snack” on God’s word. In the mornings I use a short devotional to focus my day, prayer devotionals for my family, a journal, and at work I have a devotional on my desk, too. However, I know that I cannot always dig deep and spend hours reading and studying as I would like to each day. Some days I can only nibble on a verse or two.

That’s ok.

Dear Ones, we do not have to overwhelm our lives with a “to-do” list of activities to be a “good Christian.” That is what religion and legalism looks like. A lot of things to check off each day, but not a lot of things that sink in deep to make a difference in your life.

Best Beloved, snacking in your Faith journey will help keep your heart open to the times you can feast on His word. So grab a handful of His goodness and keep moving.

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shattered mirrors

Once upon a time there was a young boy. He was smart, capable, and willing to please. As he grew, he was told again and again that he didn’t measure up. He wasn’t smart enough, wasn’t wise enough to make good decisions, ultimately, he was told he was a failure. Each negative word cracked the fragile heart he had. Each criticism, each scolding look, broke more and more of his spirit until he was like a shattered mirror on the floor.shattered mirror

As he grew, people came into his life and spoke words of praise over him. Celebrating what he could accomplish, encouraging him to pursue his dreams. Even with these words slowly pulling the pieces back together, it would never fully restore his heart and spirit. Just like a mirror that has been glued back together, the cracks and breaks and small slivers of glass would never be as they had been.  His self-image would always be distorted.

There was only option for this young man to see himself as others see him.  He would have to put down his broken mirror and look at his reflection in the mirror God holds up.

God says this young man is fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:13-14).

God says he is His workmanship (Ephesians 2:10).

God says he is a pleasing aroma (2 Corinthians 2:15).

God says he is more than a conqueror (Romans 8:37).

God says he is His child (1 John 3:2).

God says he is transformed (Romans 12:2).

God says he is a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17).

God says he is adopted into His family (Ephesians 1:5).

O Best Beloved, do these words resonate with truth in your heart? If not, why not? Are you looking into a shattered mirror or are you looking into the mirror God holds- that reflects who you are in Christ?

Dear Ones, please hear me. The enemy will always want to hold up the distorted picture of who you were before Christ. Don’t look, don’t listen. Don’t believe him. According to God we are more than conquerors over that past because of the death and resurrection of Christ (Romans 8:37-39).

Put down the shards and take up the mirror of Heaven. Remember who you are and Whose you are. We are not the image in the shattered glass anymore. God is the ultimate healer and He made us whole. Let us all start to live as the restored.

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craving more

I have a sweet tooth. Make that teeth. If I have to choose between something savory or sweet, I will choose the sweet. My husband knows this and from time to time will buy chocolate for me. In the beginning, I will eat a number of pieces- craving the taste. I want more than what I have been given, or what is good for me. We all know the stories of children who gorge themselves on candy from Halloween, getting sick in the process.

While I don’t do that, I find that old adage of “everything in moderation” comes true. Except when it comes to Jesus. When it comes to Jesus I want to dive in, over my head, deep into Him, His words, His character, His life. I crave more of the life I am called to live because of His love, life, death, and resurrection (Philippians 3:10-11).

I long to know Jesus better than I know myself- and to know myself better because I know Jesus more. I want to see the struggles I have through the eyes of Heaven, to see the battles I face with eyes like Elijah did, with eyes to see the Army of Heaven battling on my behalf  (2 Kings 6:15-17).

I long to know that when I feel alone facing my giants, the giants have already been slain. I crave the peace that seems to evade me more often than not, to know that when I feeling like I can never scale the mountain that the Lord has already moved it. The crooked path I am trying to maneuver has already been made the path straight (Isaiah 40:3).

Dear Ones,  do you crave these same things? During this Thanksgiving season, take time to not just crave more sweets or more turkey, but crave the Creator and time with Him. It will fill you in ways you never knew you could be.

 

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mental health

This past Friday I took the day off from work. It was not for a doctor appointment, for a meeting with workers at the house, for the boys– it was for me. I spent the day puttering around the house– doing dishes, laundry, making cookies, sewing curtains, reading, and resting.

It may seem to many a list of chores, but to me, it filled my cup and restored my soul. I have been running on fumes for months, trying to keep it all together, only to realize I was falling apart in the process.

My dear husband has had to tell me more than once, “You are not in control, so stop trying to be.” While his words may sound harsh, they are true. I am not in control and every time I try to act like I am it blows up. Hence my day off Friday.

Years ago, my dad would take off “mental health days” to give him a change to catch his breath between home and work. He had realized early that with his job if he wanted to do his best, he had to be his best. If he was constantly working without caring for himself, he would have nothing to offer to others.

So, I took a page from his book Friday.

I slept in, stayed in my pjs all day, played a new album I downloaded, and did the things that fed me. Extended quiet time, playing catch with the dogs, collecting eggs from the chickens, playing with the goats, making curtains for our home, making cookies for my sons. When my day was done, I felt filled, at peace, and ready for the next few days.

Dear Ones, when was the last time you took the day off for you? No appointments, no “have to do” lists, just the rhythm of the day deciding your schedule. What would it look like if you took a day off and let your body recover from your pace, your agenda, your trying to control things that are not yours in the first place?

Best Beloved, for the sake of your spirit, your family, even your job look at your schedule, set a day and take it off. Turn off the alarm, make no plans, and allow yourself to unwind. It is foolishness to push all the time. We know God rested, Jesus rested. We need to rest too.

Don’t allow time to run you over, the calendar is not the taskmaster. You matter and you are the only you the world will ever have. Don’t dismiss your role and importance. The Message describes this so well:

Oh yes, you shaped me first inside, then out; you formed me in my mother’s womb. I thank you, High God—you’re breathtaking! Body and soul, I am marvelously made! I worship in adoration—what a creation! You know me inside and out, you know every bone in my body; You know exactly how I was made, bit by bit, how I was sculpted from nothing into something. Like an open book, you watched me grow from conception to birth; all the stages of my life were spread out before you, The days of my life all prepared before I’d even lived one day (Psalm 139:13-14).

We are precious and it’s time we took care of the unique creation we are in Christ.

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doctor appointments

I had a doctor’s appointment the other day. I arrived stressed and frustrated, being told to wait as I would be called soon. I waited for twenty minutes or so and was taken to the exam room, where I waited for another twenty minutes. I felt agitated and then restless, waiting to meet with the doctor. I just wanted to go home- but this was a necessary appointment for my health.

As I waited and looked out the window, I was reminded that the Great Physician sometimes makes us wait for the healing we need. Sometimes the healing comes as we expect and sometimes it comes in a completely different way.

The Great Physician however, sees more and understands more than I do. Some of my prayers have been answered with Yes, some with No,  and some with Wait. It is frustrating to be told no or wait, I often think I know more and that my way is right. Then the doctor comes in the room and says, “I know you think you have it all figured out, but let me tell you what I am seeing and why my answer is not what you expected.”

Dear Ones, when we try to force a situation we often fall flat on our faces. We were never meant to be in control, we were designed to trust God as His ways are the best ways.

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future (Jeremiah 29:11). 

My appointment went well, but the outcome was different than I had planned. My Great Physician longs for me to be whole, healthy, and healed and my doctor does, too. Each time I release my care into the hands of God I find that He really does care about me, love me, and want the best for me.

Best Beloved, have you trusted your care to the very God who created you? What is stopping you? He longs to meet your needs and care for you- Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you (1 Peter 5:7).

 

 

 

 

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Tell Him

Someone close to me has recently cut ties due to a disagreement (no, not related to the recent election). I have been praying for wisdom, kindness, mercy, and forgiveness to cover both of us and that God will move between us so reconciliation can occur. The problem is that the other person is choosing to stay angry instead of deciding to come together.

This person matters to me. We have shared years and experiences together, some joyful, some with sorrow. But I am stuck with the fact that I may not have this person in my life going forward. While on some points that would make things easier, it also makes it more difficult.

I tried to explain how I felt about this situation with a mentor but I was having a hard time with it. My mentor said, “You’re having trouble knowing where to put it, aren’t you?” I smiled. It was true. I didn’t know if I should put this in the shrug it off category, the respond with grace category, or the so you wanna go there? category.

I decided that the best thing I could do was to Tell God about it. I don’t have to understand the heart of the other person. I don’t have to try to categorize their behavior. I don’t even have to like the situation we are in or wonder if the other person even cares to reconcile.

God is who I need to turn to about this. I can yell, rant, rave, cry, laugh, whisper, or be silent about it and He will understand. Psalm 73:23-24 describes it well; Yet I am always with you; you hold me by my right hand. You guide me with your counsel, and afterward you will take me into glory. I can put my situation, my heart, my faith, my very life in God’s hand because He holds me. 

O Best Beloved, in the past week I have watched so many people get angry with others about perceptions they have of each other. Instead of looking at the history of their relationship and recognizing that the way they have treated each other, loving and caring for each other, should withstand a disagreement. Even an election.

Dearest Jesus, meet us here. We are sad, angry, even afraid that things will never be restored between us and our loved ones. I pray for healing, mercy, grace, and forgiveness to fill in the gap and build a bridge of reconciliation between us. Jesus, be in our place where we cannot stand. Amen.

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who are you?

Not too long ago, I was living with debilitating anxiety. The smallest things made my spirit cower inside; afraid to act, afraid not to act, not knowing how to act. I would become paralyzed by the very idea of making a poor decision, so I wouldn’t make any decision. It was a broken cycle of thought that tore at me, my spouse, my children, my job. It was unbearable.

After we moved to Nebraska, I discovered that what I was constantly experiencing was anxiety. A name. A description. A way out. Relieved, I have worked for months with my counselor to unpack this overstuffed mind of mine to understand what is going on inside. And most importantly to re-wire the way my thoughts are processed.

I am finally crawling out of the darkness that I have lived in for too long and I am embracing this new freedom of living without fear. I know that I am not in control. I also know that I am not supposed to be in control. God is enough for me.

I am learning more and more about the way I was created to live. I am meant to walk side-by-side with Jesus and allow Him to set the pace, find the path, and to learn everything I can as He points it out to me. I now sleep soundly, wake rested, and feel joy again. Probably true joy for the first time.

Each day I am met with people who are living in fear. Fear for themselves, for their loved ones. It could be fear of losing a job, an opportunity, a child, the recent election. They allow their fear to color their thoughts, their actions, the way they respond to those they encounter each day. It works like a constrictor, slowly squeezing anything positive out of their lives.

It breaks my heart. I know that fear. I was wrapped so tightly that I didn’t know how to draw a full breath anymore. But I also know, that I am not called to be a Child of Fear. I am called to be a Child of Faith. The God I sing to on Sunday mornings, the God I pray to in the mornings and during the day is big enough. He is big enough to hold me and the very world He created. I may not understand what He is doing, but I am not supposed to. If I did, then I would be god. And I am not.

 

The whole earth knows that God is in charge. Birds don’t fear for lack of care, God has them in His hand.  When my boys were young, I had them memorize this poem to remember this truth.

The Robin and the Sparrow ~Elizabeth Cheney
Said the robin to the sparrow,
“I should really like to know,
Why these anxious human beings
Rush about and worry so.”
Said the sparrow to the robin,
“Friend I think that it must be,
That they have no Heavenly Father,
Such as cares for you and me.”

When we learn to embrace Faith and not Fear we become someone new. We learn that we can rest in the hands of the very God who created us. We can know that He has us.

 

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defining

Name tags, claim tags, luggage tags, dog tags; all are used for identification purposes. We use these things to connect them with their owners, with their correct places and people.

I have been sitting silently this past week, trying to figure out what I could say as I watch my brothers and sisters in Christ, friends and family member share their emotional responses on my news feed. I have read cruel, vicious words from people who have spoken into my life with such kindness in the past– all because of something they perceive as unconscionable in someone else.

I have often put down my phone and felt sick at the tags people have given to others, trying to define who a person might be just because their views differ from ours. We have all seen the decline in our friends numbers, or have heard stories of broken relationships in our lives.

We have tried to define people and we blame and point fingers and give titles to people that God never intended.

Instead of pointing at the color of a ballot, of the flag that is waved, the perspective we have, why do we not celebrate the kindness we see in someone? Why don’t we celebrate generosity, mercy, forgiveness, grace?

Dear Ones, hear me. I am not telling you to let go of your ideals unless they don’t match Scripture. I am saying, let go of the anger, the pain, the venom. In a month that is supposed to be full of thankfulness, we have managed to fill almost half of it with anger, bitterness, rage, and cruelty.

Let us, as believers, let the love of Christ fill our hearts, our mouths, our hands, and our feet. They’ll know we are Christians by our love. We are called to be Christ– while He did turn the money-changers out of the Temple, He also held the sick, the dying, the children. Jesus was full of justice, but He was also full of grace.

What will our actions say about the One we claim to follow? We may be the only definition of Christ someone else ever knows. Let our actions define us in the months and years ahead. And let it be Jesus that others see.

 

 

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