Monday, June 18, 2012

The Nitty-Gritty

If sin is more than an act, but a mindset, what mindset does it envelop?

A mindset that says this particular sin is acceptable, or makes excuses for, or denounces that said sin is, in fact, sinful – is in itself, sin.

Our culture and era isn’t the first to ignore or accept sin and the problems it creates.

To acknowledge sin requires acknowledging responsibility for the sin. When we call evil good – or just look the other way while sin carries on, we are saying it’s acceptable; we’re willing to live with it. When we call something acceptable while knowing God hates it, we hurt the very essence of the ties that bind us to our Creator; we grieve God Himself. The creature is then calling himself smarter than the Creator.

To acknowledge sin requires acknowledging the need for a Savior, which pride cannot stand.

To deny that certain thoughts, words or deeds are sinful, we deny the dominion of God; we lift ourselves up as equal to God, while oftentimes denying God’s very existence. An evasive tactic?

Most adults I encounter know what the Bible calls sinful. But most adults I encounter indulge in a good many of those practices anyway, willingly and openly. Whether we’re lying or gossiping or committing adultery or just plain ol’ hating on someone, we have “good reasons” for breaking God’s “code of ethics”, so we continue in our sin. Sometimes, if a sin is “big” enough or causes bad enough consequences, we find our way to repentance. But most of our sin is swept under the proverbial rug.

A huge point we’re missing when we actively pursue sinful behaviors is that God doesn’t label them sin to curtail our pleasure. Rather, they are abominations to Him because He knows their results will eventually cause us harm and pain, even destruction. He’s simply being protective of His children.

Yet we rebel.

Most of us have read a quote that says something like, Remaining in unforgiveness is like swallowing poison and expecting the person who’s wronged us to suffer from it; the point being that we choose unforgiveness despite the harm we know we’ll suffer from it, because the hurt we’re already suffering seems greater. Our own logic reigns in our hearts.

But God says, For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts. (Isaiah 55:9 KJV)

And He tells us to, Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. (Proverbs 3:5 KJV)

As a parent, I know that playing with fire might be exciting and exhilarating for my child, but I also know the dangers at hand that he hasn’t yet seen. Should I let him play with fire to discover for himself that it could kill him and those he loves, or at the very least hurt him or destroy cherished possessions?

Yet as adults, God does allow us to make our own decisions.

We all have to answer for ourselves, do I choose to play with fire and suffer the consequences, even though I’ve been forewarned? Or do I trust that God really does know what He’s talking about?

For me, for all of us, it’s time for an alter of repentance.

Artwork by Joseph Poma (5 years old) - sin seperates, but that one drop of Jesus' blood saves us!

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Parenting Afterthoughts

I think sometimes wanting the best for our children comes back to bite us. It can be perceived as expecting too much from them.

I read somewhere to expect more and a child will usually measure up. If you set the bar low, hopefully the child will at least meet that measure, but they may not grow up thinking they can do better. You can encourage a child without pushing them off the deep end. You can go overboard as well; demanding perfection from an imperfect being can prove destructive both to the child and your relationship with that child.

Clearly none of us is perfect. No one parents perfectly and no one grows up the perfect child.

Most of us want more for our children than we had. Unfortunately, they can’t learn from our mistakes. It would be great if our children didn’t have to suffer the hurts we have. But they have to learn for themselves the high costs those mistakes can sometimes impose. I think the hardest part of parenting is watching your children hurt - and then there’s the tormenting yourself over what you could have done to prevent their pain. Sometimes it’s just not preventable.

You’d think I’d learn by now to speak less, while saying more. But I still put my foot in my mouth all the time. I ramble. My conversations sound trite to my listeners. Honestly, I don’t know how certain people put up with me! I think sometimes parenting has more to do with closing my mouth, than pointing out from experience what’s proven hurtful to me; most of the time the warnings go unheeded anyway. Most of us want to explore and learn and understand for themselves. I can’t say I’m any different.

So to the children of this generation and the next, I will try, and I won’t be perfect at it, but I will try to sit back and watch quietly. I’ll always be in your corner – praying for you as you navigate life’s rivers.

I’m always here if you need me. I love you.

3 John 1:4 I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth. (KJV)

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Marvelous Light

The stained glass windows were beautiful. The statues held me spellbound, wondering if they could really see me whisper with my sister in the choir loft. I sang loudly because I could. The man regally dressed in robes down front seldom smiled. He looked to languish through his routine, from memory. I’ll bet he could do it in his sleep.

And Jesus, the ultimate martyr, though I knew He’d risen from the dead, perpetually hung on the cross, agonizing over every little thing I did wrong.

The scene vividly comes to life in my memories as though I was fidgeting there now. As far as memory serves, this is where it all began. Though I know now that God was loving me, wooing me and calling me since before I was born, my mind doesn’t take me that far back.

I’m no longer surrounded by the colors that fall from the brilliant, stained glass windows that filled the room with a demand for respect of the authority represented therein. I miss the reverence; the aura of holiness. But today my understanding of the power of God lifts me up higher than where I sat in that choir loft. My childlike innocence faded away with my youth and I’ve learned many lies over the decades. But with Jesus renewing my life and as I renew my mind through His Word, innocence is not a thing of the past, but a new thing every morning, should I choose to embrace it.

Some mornings we wake up with a cloud over our heads. Who brought the cloud of discouragement? Who brought the empty, weary thoughts of meaninglessness? Does it matter? Sometimes they’re just there.

In the tabernacle of my mind, where God reveals Himself to me in new facets all the time, there are stained glass windows; there is an air of holiness; there is excitement and reverence and power and joy waiting for me. I miss out on all of that when I relinquish my right to go there. This is my place. This is my piece of heaven on earth.

The same foe that brings sorrows and emptiness brandishes his lies to keep me from fellowship with the God of the universe.

All I need to do is push past him. His authority is only that which I give him. Sometimes I give him a lot as I sulk.

With me, push past the gray into brilliance; push past the darkness to into God’s glorious, marvelous Light.

“But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light;” 1 Peter 2:9 (KJV)

Image courtesy of

Sunday, June 10, 2012

The Words of My Mouth

I heard this morning that faith is released through your mouth. Makes sense. Reportedly, the Bible says more about what you say as opposed to what you think. I imagine that’s because we tend to speak what we believe. We must believe a few things we don’t really realize we think about.

One of the first things our common enemy does is try to mess with our confession. Instead of talking about the good in our lives, we often wind up murmuring and complaining. Without some grace, the ground might have already opened up and swallowed us alive!

Sometimes we feel hard-pressed to find things to rejoice about, until we sit and take a moment to think about it. But even then, the rejoicing is often slow in coming. But the complaining? Most of us find it quite easy to complain.

I’ve had a terrific day with my husband today – no agenda, just enjoying each other’s company. But still, my mouth finds a way to complain about one thing or another.

Praise and worship involve sacrifice. Something’s gotta die. Clearly I need to sacrifice the pettiness that drives to complain when so much of my life is praiseworthy.

Not only will that negativity be absent from my days, but it will be replaced with the strength that comes from joy. Plus, my friends will find it a whole lot easier to chat with me!

Another place I see myself making negative confessions is when I find myself singing along to the radio or with others singing a song that isn’t really what I profess to believe. There’s a country song with a catchy tune that declares: “love don’t live here anymore.” Now why in the world would I want to come into agreement with that? Sure, some may say that I’m not necessarily agreeing that the song is true in my life, but what is my spirit picking up? How long will it be before love stops living here? Though that may sound superstitious – it’s not. We are what we think – and we think what we pour into our souls.

Just a few points to ponder on when we’re asking why things aren’t going like we want them to in our lives. What confessions come out of our mouth when we’re not really watching for them?

Do you have any favorite scriptures about our words?

Psalm 19:14 “Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O LORD, my strength, and my redeemer.”

Romans 10: 8-10 “But what saith it? The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart: that is, the word of faith, which we preach; That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.”