Sanctification

Cookie Covenant

“For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” Ephesians 2:10

Have you ever made cookies with a toddler? I have. The first time was about twenty-three years ago with our nephew, Thomas. Marty and I were watching this adorable 2 year old and I asked him to help me make some chocolate chip cookies. He climbed up on the chair delighted to be a part of what I was doing. We made a cookie covenant as he dumped in the chocolate chips and stirred the batter with all his might. This was bonding at its sweetest. Of course I didn’t need Thomas’ help but invited him to join me because I enjoyed being with him. God does that with us too. He invites us to join Him where He’s working and we have the privilege of working alongside Him in His strength.

It’s important to point out that God doesn’t need our help either; rather He delights in charging us with His work. He is perfectly capable of “doing the work” without us. But, just like I enjoyed making cookies with Thomas, God loves spending time with you and me. Yes, when we are in His will, working alongside Him, we are spending time with the LORD! You are His child and He is delighted in you. So, the next time God asks you to join Him, climb up on the stool next to His and stir with all your might for His pleasure.

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Deceitful Dust Devils

As a result [of spiritual maturity], we are no longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming;” Ephesians 4:14

 Dust devils look like mini tornados. They appear in hot, arid climates and form when a dusty surface is heated up causing the air to rise and start to swirl. These funnel-like forms move quickly, picking up the dirt and debris in their path, leaving a mess in their wake. Much like dust devils the effects of believing lies are quick, messy and destructive. When you allow yourself to be deceived, and open the windows of your mind to the debris of condemnation and doubt, it feels like a dirt devil ran over your heart.

For me the whirling thoughts start soon after my button gets pushed and I am blinded by the dust and debris of the day. For example, when I hear things like, “This is the right way to do it.” My internal thought translator says, “You’ll never do it well so don’t even try.” This thought battles the truth that “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Also, when I feel dismissed, used, unloved, or powerless, whether real or imagined, the winds start whirling and anger rises up in me like hot air on dry ground.  Whatever triggers the chain reactions incites only because I believe it’s true. What power I give to others by not believing God!

However, through Christ we have a way of escaping the wreckage. First, remember that God is sovereign and allows the whirlwinds that stir up the garbage. Why? Because only when we recognize the garbage as sin will we release it to Him. Second, we are very precious to God and He is the only One who should define us. Christ paid a high price for us, and value is based on what someone is willing to pay. The truth is I don’t have to be the best, or the smartest, or the most creative. What joy that brings to my heart when I live in the freedom Christ died for me to experience! I want to live, moment by moment, in the reality of Christ’s love for me and avoid the deceitful dust devils that come with doubting God.

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The ‘D’ Word

“May the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be pleasing in Your sight, O Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.” Psalm 19:14

Have you ever considered that enabling good consequences requires the application of the ‘D’ word?  Discipline means:  a way of behaving that shows a willingness to obey rules or orders.  It is not a warm and fuzzy word but it is required if anything is to change for the better.  Last week my son said to me, “Mom, you’re never happy. It’s either too cold or there are ants or you’re gaining weight, etc.” It’s true.  I can always find something wrong in my world. My critical spirit is alive and well.  The funny thing is, I’ve been praying for grace. But, instead of “granting my wish” God, in His wisdom, has allowed circumstances and relationships that require it!

However, it takes discipline to achieve a gracious outlook and demeanor.  Recently I’ve been in “go” mode and have noticed my lack of discipline in several ways. First, the pounds piled on. This happened because I decided not to pay attention to my activity level or what I ate.  Second, the dental hygienist told me my gums were bleeding.  Why? Because I haven’t been flossing. Third, my house is even more disorganized than usual.  (The laundry seems to be procreating along with the dishes.)  Finally, confusion, anxiety and fear have been knocking loudly at my door.  I know this is because my time with the Lord has been rushed. I have put my “to do” list first.

In contrast, when I sit at His feet daily and purpose to be intimate with Him, even if the enemy is attacking, I don’t hear the knock!  Therefore, a disciplined routine is necessary for positive results.  For example, I have purposed to write this blog every Wednesday.  Even on my busy days it gets posted because I’ve made it a priority.  When I apply this to other areas of my life like exercising, flossing, cleaning and, most importantly, spending time with the Lord then the reward is great.  I am at peace and compelled by His love. In the meantime, I maintain a healthy weight, have a tidy home, avoid gum surgery and am a joy to live with instead of a drag. Best of all it glorifies God!

On the other hand, doing nothing does not create a state of neutrality, rather it encourages decline in all areas.  If I ignore my relationship with God then I become distant from Him and much more self absorbed, making me very hard to live with.  Likewise, when I ignore the house, my health, etc., they go into a state of decline without much effort.  In one of her workout videos Jillian Michaels said, “Don’t phone this one in people. This is your workout.”  This resonated with me because, even though I could hire someone to clean the house, I can’t hire someone to work out for me and I certainly can’t hire someone to spend time with the Lord for me.  This is my time with God and I cannot phone it in if I want to grow spiritually.  If the goal is to abide with Him I need to be with Him and read His Word consistently. We all want the results that a disciplined walk with the Lord brings.  Make spending time with the Lord and taking care of yourself a priority.  Sit at His feet and then jump for joy because God gave us discipline so we could be mature disciples of Jesus, freeing us from the fatty flesh of sin. Praise God that He is your Redeemer!

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Perfect Peace

“You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You.” Isaiah 26:3 ESV

After opening our pool yesterday we discovered a colony of critters called Water Boatman. These tiny bug babies blanketed the pool. Also, with these water bugs comes their biting enemy, Backswimmers. Backswimmers eat Water Boatman, and the Water Boatman eats algae. Fortunately, these bugs are unable to live in chlorinated water so they are now dead. Unfortunately, they are still in the pool so we are unable to enjoy the water!

In comparison, if I have thousands of tiny things bugging me it is impossible to enjoy the clear waters of peace. When thoughts, like algae, grow into worry they feed my insecurities and the enemy of my soul pounces at every opportunity. What creates an environment for distraction and worry making me vulnerable to enemy attacks? Lack of trust in and focus on God. In the verse from Isaiah the person whose mind is stayed on God, the one who trusts Him, has peace. So, if peace is not present then I am not focused on God nor do I trust Him. The evidence is in the state of mind. Therefore, once the pool cover of my mind is lifted and I recognize the bugs exist (anxiety and worry = not trusting God) I purpose to shock the thought pool through confession and repentance.

In other words, there is hope! God wants us to have perfect peace and has shared his formula of grace. He then proceeds to sanctify the water with His Word, cleaning out the old thoughts and pouring in truth. He renews the mind, changing us from the inside out. Our part is allowing Him to remove the cover and examine our hearts. When I first saw the insects in the pool I immediately wanted to re-cover the pool and pretend they did not exist. It was overwhelming to confront the reality of the problem. But, the only way we will be able to enjoy the pool this year is to do the work and clean out the bugs, one scoop at a time. Praise God, the masterful skimmer of dross! 1 John 1:9 promises, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” What a privilege it is to be transformed into the likeness of the Prince of perfect Peace!