Idols

God is doing some work on me right now.  It’s good.  It’s a little scary and painful, but good.   I’ve been asking Him for a few  years to help me dig up those things in my heart that do not please Him.  Well, He took me seriously and He is doing it. 

Right now at church we are in a series, called Counterfeit Love.  It’s based on the book “Counterfeit Gods” by Tim Keller.  Our small group is reading the book along with the sermon series and then discussing it every two weeks.  It’s been extremely eye-opening to me.  Not only am I going through this book and the sermon series, but I’m also going through Jennie Allen’s “Stuck” Bible Study with a group of my friends.  All of these things combined are proving to be God’s tools in continuing to shape of my character. 

I think God was tired of seeing me struggle and complain, when He knew the root of the problem all along.  I havent’ been trusting  Him enough, believing Him enough, pursuing Him enough and worst of all, I have been putting other “idols” above Him.   Yuck. 

And the thing is, my heart has been pretty sneaky.  All the things I worry about and focus on are not bad, so they disguised themselves as maybe things I should worry about and should focus on.  It’s all been a lie. 

Now a moment of transparency.  I worry about the silliest things.  I worry that my to-do list hasn’t been done and that bugs me.  I want all of my “to-do’s” done for the day and when they are not, I get uncomfortable, uneasy, frustrated and sometimes a little depressed.  I’m serious.  I have valued myself, to this point, by how much I can get done and accomplish in a day.  If I feel I’ve tackled most of my to-do’s, and the house is clean, and everyone has clean underwear and dinner is ready and tasty, then maybe, just maybe I will feel good for the day. 

Again, not bad things, but the wrong things.  I can search and search, but I do not think I’ll ever find a verse in the Bible that says “Follow Jesus, but first make sure all your to-do’s are finished, the floor is swept, and all the laundry is done and dinner is cooked”.  So why have I been living that way?  I want to control my day and when it doesn’t go how I think it should go, I get upset, and sometimes I take it out on those I love the most.  That’s messed up. 

So the journey continues and God and I are working on getting this idol of control out of my heart.  I am praying like crazy, reading His word and asking Him every morning to help take this junk out of my heart and to replace it with Him.  I am looking at my to-do’s and understanding what is motivating them, and why I want to accomplish them.  I’m trying to let God lead. 

This is not going to be easy, we are talking about years of a bad habits ingrained in my being.  Thankfully, God is strong enough to help me overcome this.  I just have to let Him.

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Obeying Because I’m Accepted

I’ve heard this phrase a few times in a training we are going through right now at our church.  “I don’t obey to be accepted, I obey BECAUSE I’m accepted”.   That statement sticks in my head and is really the basis for how I explain my attempt to always obey God.

I don’t feel obligated, I don’t do it because I fear the wrath, I don’t do it because it’s a list I need to check off, I don’t do it to feel good about myself and I don’t do it so people or God will think I’m “good”.  I do it because I’m so grateful to God for accepting me into his family.  Even after all the things I’ve done in my life to try and screw things up, He was always there waiting to accept me.  He loves me so much and that is why I obey.

I still screw up daily, but on a much smaller scale than before I began a relationship with God and started following Jesus.    Before I became a Christian, I remember thinking that I wasn’t sure I could follow all the Christian “rules” and that it seemed boring.  Ha!  God was probably laughing, because what He has shown me since is how boring and empty my life was before Him.  I was so focused on myself, and what society thinks, that I never felt happy or joyful inside.  I searched and searched for something or someone to make me happy.

There is only one way to find true joy, and that is through Jesus Christ.  He is the only way.  I have learned that from my own experience, not because someone told me, or because I read it in the Bible.   I’ve experienced the love, acceptance, forgiveness and Grace of God through Jesus and I’ll be eternally grateful.

It’s through that complete gratefulness that I CHOOSE to obey God.  In doing so, He reveals Himself to me in ways I never would’ve imagined.

The Christian way of living, following Christ is ANYTHING but boring.

What are you afraid to give up?

Last night during my Young Life small group meeting we talked about Jesus asking his disciples (Peter in particular) to leave everything to follow Him.  He asks the same of us, but fear holds us back sometimes.  Fear of being uncomfortable.   What are we most of afraid of letting go of?

Think about that for a minute.  What is the first thing you think of as you imagine Jesus knocking on your door telling you that you need to come with Him….and leave everything.  Every single thing and person.  Can you imagine?

For me, it was my family.  I really can’t imagine life without them.  However, if I had to choose, I would choose Jesus.  I would walk out the door behind Him.  Because without Him, my life is nothing.

The point isn’t to sit around scared that He is going to ask you to leave your family because odds are, He won’t.  The point is to put in perspective what it means to follow His lead.   Obeying God should be our #1 priority.  Period. 

It should come before your comforts, your to-do lists, your schedules, your hobbies, your job,  your friends and even your family at times.  Making time for, talking to, listening to and obeying Jesus should be your #1 priority.  Today. Tomorrow. Everyday. 

What if at the top of your to-do list every single day you wrote “Obey Jesus” as #1?   Think how that could change your perspective, your priorities, your focus and your life.

Passionate About What Does Matter

The other day I was listening to a clip on the radio of the lead singer of Casting Crowns talk about their new song “Courageous”.  He talked about what sparked him to write this song.  He’s a youth pastor and he mentors to teenage boys and in doing so he has gotten to know many of the dads.  He said what he realized is that men today have gotten really passionate about what doesn’t matter and passive about what does matter.  Ouch.   He talked about how that can lead to the demise of our famlies and many other things and how men were made for so much more.  He was specific to fathers, but again, this message spoke to me as well, it should speak to all of us.  We were all made for more.

I definitely do NOT want to be passive about Jesus, and honestly He is all that should matter.  Every day.  Ever hour.  Every single second. Jesus.  Without Him you and I would have no hope for a future, we would struggle in our own sins and guilt forever and we would never be made new.  We would die and never know everlasting life. 

So we need to focus on being passionate about what does matter and passive about what doesn’t matter.  All the time.  If we put a lot of time into what makes us happy and less time in to Jesus, what are we saying is more important?

If we find time to read many things of this world, but no time for the Bible.  Again, where are our priorities? 

Do you spend more time filling yourself with Jesus or the world? 

Don’t be of the world, be in the world only to change it and to turn as many people as you can to Jesus Christ.  Period.   That is our job.

“Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is–his good, pleasing and perfect will.”  Romans 12:2

Here is the video for the song courageous. 

For I Know The Plans

“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

This is one of my favorite verses, it’s so comforting and reassuring.  God cares enough about me to have plans for my life, and He actually thinks that what I do can be important….for His kingdom.  Those thoughts alone could get me through each day. 

Today during my quiet time God spoke this verse to me through the Holy Spirit.   At the end of my prayer to Him I sat quiet.  Which is what I always do.  I wait, very quietly to hear what He has to tell me.  And after I prayed for my job and for Brian’s job and what God has in store for us, all I heard was this verse and it gave me hope for sure.

It strengthens my trust in Him, when I’m reminded all I have to do is trust Him. 

God has put on my heart a few to-do’s for Him.  At least as of now, I believe this is where He is leading me.  I’m working on them and as it unfolds I will know for sure if I’m headed in the right direction.  For now, He just wants me to respond and obey to where I feel led and that’s what I plan to do. 

I’ll explain more later, when it’s time.  For now, I need to get busy with the “plans” God has for me.

Lukewarm

I take really hot showers.  I just like the water really hot. I notice my back is red sometimes when I get out of the shower because the water was so hot during my shower.   But that’s how I like it.  I think if you are going to take a shower, it should be HOT water.  It’s relaxing to me and it just feels right.  Lukewarm is irritating to me.  I hate how it feels.  I would rather just not take a shower then have the water be lukewarm.

This is how Jesus feels about some of us.  It’s irritating to him when we are lukewarm Christians. Which means we do a few things here and there that do obey God, but we aren’t ALL IN.  We are just lukewarm. We aren’t on FIRE with passion for Christ and wanting to live every single day with Him and for Him. 

Jesus actually says if we are lukewarm Christians, he wants to “spit us out of his mouth”.  Yikes.  That makes me cringe and it stirs some pretty strong convictions inside of me. 

A lot of times we cling to things that are not of God, that are not glorifying God in some way.  We cling to what is comfortable and safe and “feels good”.  That is when we are lukewarm about our faith. 

When we want God to fit into our lives, we are lukewarm. 

When we let God run our lives, and trust him completely with every single thing, we are All In.  When we are willing to get very uncomfortable on a constant basis ,then we are All In.    We are hot and that is where God wants us.  Not because He needs us, but because THAT is where we will find all the joy God has in store for us.  Having lukewarm faith will get you lukewarm results.

I need to turn up the heat and keep it there.

Worry

Why do we worry, when God tells us not too?  Who knows.  I do know that I’ve gotten so much better about this and that is partly due to my husband. 

I just go over things that I have to do or haven’t done in my head.  Over and over and over.  It’s exhausting at times.  I’m always thinking of what I still have left to do.  Why?

Something I started doing as a teenager is still very helpful today and I’ve even suggested it to friends.  Write down your worries.  It sounds simple and maybe even a little elementary, but it works.  I promise.   This is what I do.

1.  I make a list of everything that is on my mind at the moment.  Listing out all of my worries (silly or not)

2.  I look back over the list and one by one add logic to the equation and out to the margin I write a solution.  For ex: If one of my worries was “I won’t finish my project in time”.  Then next to that I would probably write that I just need to develop a plan, set aside time and worst case find out if it could be extended. 

3.  After I’ve written solutions to each “worry” I look back over the list.  It takes away a LOT of the stress. 

I believe that letting things float aimlessly around in our heads is so detrimental.   When they are ambiguous, that is so much worse.  Take them out of your head, write them down on paper and look at them.  Face them, be real about them and dissolve the worry. 

We can only do so much in one day and God NEVER intended for us to carry around the weight of worry…especially about our to-do list. 

He wants us to forget our to-do list and worry about His.

Getting Out Of Our Comfort Zone

I want to get uncomfortable and get out of my comfort zone.  I know I’ve talked about this before on this blog….but this topic stood out to me yesterday during the sermon at our church. 

We need to not only be okay with being uncomfortable, but I believe we should be searching for opportunities that make us squirm in our seats, fidget and want to turn and run.  Opportunities only God can turn around and use for good. 

Those times when you feel so led and so scared at the same time….THOSE are the opportunities God wants you to pursue and not because you can handle them alone, but because you can handle them with Him.  And when you choose to obey God and go down those scary, unknown paths….it is then that He knows how much you truly trust Him.

In my experience, when I show Him how much I trust Him, he turns around and shows me why.  Every single time.

If you aren’t uncomfortable right now in some way, or if you are not feeling a bit out of your element or stretched ….ask God where He wants you to focus.  Where He needs you and where He wants you.  Odds are, He is waiting on you to trust Him.  Don’t worry….what is scary and intimidating to you, is nothing to God.  He can handle anything and everything…if you let Him.

Fill The Void With God

This morning I read Matthew 12:43-45 and this is what Jesus said:

When an evil spirit leaves a person, it goes into the desert, seeking rest but finding none.  Then it says “I will return to the person I came from” so it returns and finds its former home empty, swept, and in order.  Then the spirit finds seven other spirits more evil than itself, and they all enter the person and live there,  and so that person is worse off than before.  That will be the experience in this evil generation.”

Yikes.  If that’s not scary I don’t know what is.  The moral of this passage is, if you rid yourself of a sin in your life, you must (MUST) fill it with God, and obedience to God, or the devil will move back in tenfold. 

The passage says the “evil spirit” will come back but with seven more spirits even more evil than the first.  I don’t know about you, but I want no part of that.

If you begin to make good changes in your life,  don’t fall prey to the devil and fill that void you feel with God.  He is the ONLY one that can fill it and heal you.  If he is calling you to change, then let Him help you every step of the way.

When we turn away from sin, we must turn to God……not just turn away to nothing.  That can lead to worse sins.

In my Study Bible this is what it says after those verses: 

“Just cleaning up one’s life without filling it with God leaves plenty of room for Satan to enter.  The book of Ezra records how the people rid themselves of idolatry but failed to replace it with love for God and obedience to him.  Ridding our life of sin is the first step.  We must also take the second step: filling our life with God’s Word and the Holy Spirit.  Unfilled and complacent people are easy targets for Satan.”

Have you ever quit something or turned away from a sin only to become more tempted and tormented to do that sin?  Now you know why.  Change is something only God can help us with and through.   Without Him leading us,  we are vulnerable to even more evil spirits.