Purity has been a major theme for me lately. Because these last days, weeks, months, years, whatever are so important, I can not help but think that we need to hold each of our thoughts accountable for their actions already done and check them before they become actions. If the Lord comes right now, would our lives reflect His holiness? Would the church measure up to Godly motives and ambitions? Would I measure up to His standards of purity? Would my family? I have been thinking a lot about these things lately. It is a fascinating thing to delve into your mind and really work to capture each of your thoughts and judge your own level of purity and discover what your motives are. It may take a bit of work and honesty, but I think these are actually good things. It is time to clean house.
When seasons in our life change suddenly, we have choices concerning what to do with that information. We can mull over the past or hope it goes back to that soon, living in the rear view mirror so to speak. We can wonder where it is taking us and spend time worrying about what is ahead. Or we can live one day at a time until some semblance of stability returns. Remembering that God is in charge of this universe, I can choose to trust that He is taking us on a journey for a reason and just do our best to live life or not. My peaceful season has passed and its innocence and naivete. And on the journey we go into distantly familiar waters of leadership and care taking and wondering if people will honor requests or sneak around more carefully and dip into the cookie jar when I know it is not beneficial to do so. How do you keep someone from grabbing up what should be left alone in a moment of perceived hunger? How do you tell someone you respect and love that some things should just be left alone? How do I explain how much I fear losing a man who has cared for me so long? How do you make your importance their importance? How do you explain that integrity of Spirit has more to do with the unseen than the seen, the heart than the physical? How do you get someone to find wrong what is wrong but has been reasoned away as no big deal? Does he have the reasoning skills to understand what he thinks is is no big deal hurts his family and himself? Does dementia take away that ability to get it? I guess this blog is more questions than answers, but one thing I am certain of is that God knows what He is doing. We are asked to go down a path for a reason. You may want something, such as honor, value and love and get selfishness and pride back. You may want to be treasured and get disinterest back. You may in this life want appreciation and get betrayal back. All of these things are possible UNLESS you are asking the right Person. Everyone in this life will let you down at some point except God. The perfect Holy One will love you every time, appreciate you, not let you down, value you, treasure you. See, maybe I’ve needed this reminder that even if people don’t appreciate what I do enough to honor me above themselves, God gave His Son’s life up to buy me back from the enemy. That is how valuable I am to Him. No matter how ugly or betrayed I ever feel by anyone, God has never called me anything but His beautiful adopted child that He does everything for. No matter how many mistakes I make, God will honor me as His amazing handiwork. That is pretty incredible.
Raised by a Christ following Marine, things were pretty black and white around my house growing up. Lies were severely frowned upon and truth was told sometimes rather bluntly or brutally. I know beyond all shadow of reason that my Dad loves me and has all my life and that he would do anything at all for me, even if it killed him. However, sometimes his words didn’t come across as what I would call loving. Yes, they were all true. If you did a fact check, you would find all his statements correct. I have thought about this a lot lately because I love truth. I believe it sets you free. And if our enemy speaks lies for a living, I want to speak the opposite, which is truth. God is truth and Christ said He was the way, the truth and the life. However if I am not careful, my truth can come out as unloving or uncompassionate or cold like words that wring out in my head still from my Dad, the truth sayer. And having explored this, I have come up with some examples to show the difference between saying truth and saying truth in love.
Truth: That shirt is ugly. Truth in love: That is a very interesting choice for a shirt.
Truth: The only thing I like about this dinner you made is the broccoli. Truth in love: Oh, you are so good at cooking broccoli.
Truth: It’s good you can play the sax because you sure can’t sing. Truth in love: I could listen to you just play the sax for hours.
Truth: Green is a horrible color on you. Truth in love: Blue is definitely your best color.
See the difference? Telling the truth in love does not compromise the truth or present it with a lie. It gives the positive spin on the truth. You willingly make a point to encourage and uplift rather than berate and bring down. Love is patient and kind, which means love is purposefully compassionate. Truth without love is really a contradiction and one is misunderstood because God is truth and God is love. How can He be both if they oppose each other in their true form? It is impossible. So, if we are clear on truth and love in their pure forms, we see that presentation is the key to a happy marriage of these complimentary topics. We must tell each other truth in love. Neither can be compromised in their integrity or you get a jumbled mess and people’s feelings get hurt. Truth in love is a matter of being intentionally both.
There are things I do right, some very well. There are other things I do wrong. Maybe you can relate to one of these. I am an angry driver when anyone thinks while they are driving that the earth revolves around them and they can drive accordingly. I tend to wish I was right more than I actually am right. I tend to act on those incorrect suppositions sometimes. I tend to not punish my second child for wrongs as much as I did my first because they aren’t quite as big a deal as I thought they once were. I tend to act and then think, much to the chagrin of my conscious when I find I stuck my foot in it again. I tend to live life first and clean up after it second. I rev up the engines of my mind before all the information hits it and backfires. I say too much at inappropriate times. All these things I freely admit to struggling with and the Lord is gaining solid ground on all these areas. We all have weaknesses. We all have evils that resurface. However, you are fooling yourself if you think these are coincidental and you come against your areas of weakness as any coincidence. Where you have fallen, you will at some point be tempted again. Why? Because our fight is not against flesh and blood but against the rulers and powers of this present darkness. You are under attack and the enemy tries everything until you give in to one of his certain types of attacks. Then he is lazy and just keeps pushing you toward that same temptation again and again. He just relentlessly tries until you give in again and then he goes after that thing stronger. His goal is for your sin to become a stronghold to distract you and keep you from a right relationship with the only Savior, Jesus Christ. I used to have worse sins, stronghold that were much stronger than my current subset but I am free of them now. Why? Because I am some holy and strong saintly person? No. Because I had help. I finally told someone I trusted about my “secret” sin (none of which is new to anyone on earth) and they helped me be accountable and prayed with me. Jesus Christ freed me and until then, I hadn’t understood how trapped and duped and idiotic I had been. Sometimes we need help, accountability. Other times we need strong prayer and repentance and just saying no. That depends on the habit of the sin and how embedded it is into your life. God can pull you out and there is freedom on the other side of it, life as He intended, and of course the amazing reward of heaven after it all. Hope is in Christ! And He is coming soon!
When you want a steak, often any old steak will do, but sometimes you want the best. Then you order prime rib. And you get that delicious flavor that tells you, “Yes, you just paid way too much precious money for any red meat but it was worth every penny.” When I ponder parenting my two precious children, I want to be a prime parent. I want to be the best parent God ever made. Why? Because my kids are worth it? Well, that’s not it because every child is worth millions because God made and loves them and they reflect His awesomeness. Is it because my kids are better than any other kids? Nope, I am not that naive. They sure are good when I’m watching but time will tell what they end up doing when my back is turned. I want to be a prime parent for the same reason I want to mow the lawn excellently or cut my kids hair wonderfully or teach excellently. The reason is that I am working for the Lord and not anyone else whenever I do anything. If I’m called to take out the trash, I want to do it with all my heart. If I’m called to trim trees, I will strive to be the best tree trimmer. If I am given the task of rearing my children, I want to do it excellently. What does that look like? Probably not what you’d expect because every child is different and each one will rise to his or her own potential for their own motivation based on their own love language. Prime parents do not choose favorites but they choose paths for their kids to go down that suit them and their needs, drives and passions. And the whole while, prime parents teach all their children heavy doses of Biblical teaching based on love and prayers and hugs and kisses. Prime parents also don’t pamper but teach, don’t push but encourage, don’t criticize but instruct, don’t nag but are firm, don’t let their children rule the house but do make them feel important. I want to be a great parent because God is worth it.
In Florida, we know that hurricanes happen sometimes in the summer, so we talk about hurricane preparedness. In the Midwest, people talk about tornado preparedness. All over the country we have ways to prepare for floods, fires, earthquakes, etc. And many rehearsals are carried out to know that we know these things in school, from an elementary age. Spiritually, we are told in the Bible that hard times and an end of this world are coming. So, where are the preparedness plans? Interestingly, the plans are set out, laid out very clearly in the Book that tells us what’s coming. Yes, the Bible is very informative and helpful, not just decorative. 🙂 What is the plan? How do we prepare for difficult times and an end to this world (which has to happen before the start of the new world)? We pray all the time to the One that holds all these events in His hands. We read the Bible often to keep ourselves focused, memorizing as much Scripture as we can so we have it in times our Bibles may not be as accessible as they once were. We encourage each other and meet together with other Christ followers to draw strength from each other and help each other. And lastly, we continue to live right, showing others the fruits of the Spirit and standing strong in our faith and truth and hope. When the hard times are over and done and we are still standing for Christ and have not faltered, we will be rewarded with a heavenly home and then a new earth home. We then will never have to deal with sin and sadness, crime and neglect, persecution and poverty, ugliness and pain. It will all be over. So, our preparedness will save our souls.
From early on in Sunday School, we learn the song “Oh be careful little eyes what you see”. Once we grow up, we seem to forget that. It is as true all our lives as it is when we are children. Seeing the wrong thing, as in King David’s (and so many others) case causes you to want who or what you cannot or should not have. ” Do not covet” is one of the 10 Commandments for a reason. We want, we “just do it” or “go for whatever makes you happy” or “you deserve it” and we’re surprised when all hell breaks loose. There could be jail time or worse or separation or it may be as simple as hearts getting broken and trust dying. Or the worst case scenario happens and you get away with it. Why is that the worse case scenario? Because you are led into a false sense of security and try for more next time, making the stakes higher and possibly becoming trapped in the lies and evil lifestyle, a stronghold that keeps you prisoner in your mind. But even little things can throw a wrench in your walk with the Lord. When our eyes see a promotion in sight if we just bend a couple of rules to get. Or we see a really nice car that we suddenly must have but can’t really afford or see someone else’s kids and how well-behaved they are, whatever, and you want that. In sharp contrast, seeing with the eyes of Christ allows us to see past the stuff and fluff and determine what we should be looking at. Will what you are focusing on edify Him or a brother or sister in the Lord? Will He or others be blessed by it? Or is it a distraction or temptation that would pull us away from a right relationship with the Lord. Can you carry on a conversation with God while you are watching what you are watching or would you want to turn it off if He were to walk in right now? Well, guess what? He is everywhere and can see in the dark. That is a good thing to remember. God deserves our respect and honor. Sometimes we honor Him best by changing the channel, is not on the TV, then maybe in our minds? Something to think about.