Every day we are hit by little tests of character and goodness and Godly purity. These little biters can range from the seemingly small (grabbing a few envelopes from the office to save you a trip to the store) to very large (porn watching, cheating, rage). However, I contend that there is no “small” temptation or “large” temptation,… there is only temptation. The small leads to the big (the gradual sin decline- mastered by the enemy to lure you into sin in a way that seems good or moral or not dangerous). However the small is also big. Sin is missing the mark, not being holy. A small drop of red wine will show up just as clearly as a large spill does on a white linen napkin. Temptations are all based on lies. You being told a lie is the temptation. For example, “It’s just one time. You deserve it.” Or “You are so good most of the time and this one time is not going to hurt anyone.” Or “As long as no one gets hurt or finds out, it is fine.” Or the classic “No one will ever know”. These lies are the temptation. You hearing these lies in your head is just good hearing, no sin involved. Unless. Unless you buy the lie and agree with the lie and act. Then, you have sinned. Lie and usually pride (how could I leave that out?) Are the basis for every temptation because of the simple fact that the king of evil fell because of these and hence became the father of lies. So, how can this help us as Christ followers? Let me tell you now. Knowing how the enemy works and where he will attack gives away the element of surprise and allows you to arm yourself for battle before he strikes another blow. If you want to be free and saved, that is. And how we do this is through much prayer (He who is in us is greater than He who is in the world- see yesterday’s blog) and Bible reading (filling with truth from Truth) and self talk (personalizing these components). We can win victories every day, one resistance at a time. And if giving into certain temptations has become a habit and lies are etched into the mind to look like truth, remember that you break a bad habit with a good habit and you do it one good decision at a time until all the practice becomes a habit and God purifies you again with love and truth. He wants us to freely love Him and have joy and peace and life, whereas the enemy wants us in bondage and without joy to the point of death. We choose our “fate” one decision at a time and we all choose for ourselves right now who we will serve.
Last night, there was a funny blurb on ways to get out of jury duty and one of them was to respond to the lawyers question with “I am also a victim of murder”. The goal was to be found crazy and get out of jury duty, which was done in jest for laughs and I strongly recommend not getting out of jury duty (being part of why our system of justice is pretty fair and works.) But now that I’ve killed the joke, I must say that often we do in fact operate that way, as if we are victims of murder, as if we are innocent victims of sin and give up because it already won over us or something. However, when we are saved, the chains of bondage are cut. For some people, these chains fall away slowly because they are uncertain they really want it or it is safe without them and let go one link at a time. Other people believe and trust a greater degree and hurl them all off and never look back. As long as the chains come off, keep moving forward with the certain undeniable knowledge that the Holy Spirit within you has immeasurable power. So, the power within you now, the Holy Spirit, one of the Godhead, can instantly defeat whatever temptations or negativity or evil ways within you anytime you ask Him too. That is fact. There is no room for debate, and your unwillingness to remain a victim of murder or sin is simply a prideful lack of faith which thankfully can be remedied with a little or lot of contrition/humility and a simple request, “Help, I need your help.” Most wars are won in the heart and mind before any punches are thrown, before you are surrounded. Most wars are won or lost with decisions you make, knowingly or unknowingly, and it is the responsibility of the saved one to make these decisions you captives and decide that the Holy Spirit’s power can overcome any obstacles or foes and simply ask Him for help and confirmation. Maturity of faith comes with humble requests of dependence on God (practice) until you have such a habit of seeing His power in your life that you stop doubting it and just do it. Then God can move onto richer lessons for you. We must embrace this great power within us to grow in Christ and allow Him to work through us. There is much for us to do, much for the Holy Spirit to do through us.
The best lessons I have learned in life have been from 3 sources (no offense to my teachers): the Bible, my own experiences and nature. We all know that the Bible really has all we need to be saved now and forever and that our own experiences in life are presented to teach and test us. However, do not forget in your activities that we learn amazing lessons about the nature and character, peace and beauty, joy and perfection of our Creator by studying His creation/nature/us. We are at best a reflection of many facets of our Lord: thoughtful, communicative, social, beautiful, capable, independent, etc. Of course, we can be certainly contrary to those amazing possibilities if we stupidly decide to live contrary to our true nature. However, nature does not lie, does not choose to be something other than it was meant to be. Nature is pure and can not be less than it was made to be. We are wise to look at our natural world and reflect on it and you will find that when you spend enough time and attention on nature and quiet yourself, you will always always find God there. What I mean is that God’s great qualities are always reflected to us in His natural creation. It is the nature of nature. We are so blessed to have opportunities wherever we look to see birds and trees and plants and animals and sunsets, even if you live in a city that limits landscapes. These things are treasures, little nuggets of glistening gold.
When God gives us abilities in music, He has really entrusted great power to us with expectations that we will use that power for His worship and leading others in it. For many years, He has given me original songs for what I thought was my benefit. They journaled my struggles in maturity and roller coaster to becoming the woman He has made me this far. I realize my keeping them to myself to benefit me is very selfish and I want to begin putting these songs onto YouTube to benefit those who need them who may be having the same journeys. It will be my new project. In the meanwhile, as I lead worship at church, I wrestle with the responsibility and how best to draw people to the Lord. Music is the only power we know of as yet that utilizes the entire brain. That is its power. It is capable of aiding memory, eliciting emotion, swaying opinion, sharing messages and entertaining and it can be used to promote great good or promote great harm, and it is every person’s right and obligation to check content before deciding to allow the message to enter your brain. People dismiss the power of music and think they can listen to horrible lyrics all day and it is no big deal and will not affect them. That is a delusion and lie of the enemy. You can dumb down a sin to where it is acceptable if a message rolls around your brain freely as it does when that message is set to music. So, I say it is important to keep the music we listen to (just as the people we listen to) positive and encouraging at the least and praise and worship at best. It will uplift your life while keeping your toes curled around the roots of God’s Word for grounding and strength. When we think about the music before we start listening, we make better decisions and live a better life as a result. There is enough bad news out there, we need to feed good news to our brain and soul and heal rather than hurt.
I used to move in fast forward. I often engaged my flapper long before engaging my brain or with very good friends it was engaging both simultaneously. With age has come a good many things and one has become this idea of holding every thought captive and engaging those thoughts before opening my beak. It is becoming much more important to me to listen and formulate before speaking in turn. This appears to be a slowing down or declining in communication energy, but it really is a hastening of the thought process alongside a pause of verbal response. I find it interesting that those who have had to survive in the wild have often made observations that thinking becomes everything and speaking is not found to be weighted the same. I also find it to coincide with the Bible’s Words on being slow to speak and quick to listen and to take every thought captive. And I thought how correct it seems to be that most wars are won in the mind before they ever reach the front lines and that our minds are the front lines of a Spiritual battle between God and our souls He has bought with a price and everyone and everything else. It seems we even get plenty of flack from other people whose souls have been bought with a price. So, before I speak nowadays, I take my time and arrest my thoughts and interrogate them. “Where did you come from? What is your motive? If an answer is required, what is the wisest answer? According to God’s Word, would my answer line up with His? What would Jesus do? What is the loving, helpful and encouraging response?” And these questions take a bit at first but like every other habit you work on, it gets easier and faster and more routine the more you practice. I believe it is important because it seems the only Christ followers we seem to be hearing much about are more judgmental than loving and so we all get a bad rap. So, if you are willing to join me on my social experiment and personal growth journey, maybe we can change some views on Christ and show people His amazing light one pause (while interrogating the captive thoughts) at a time.
So, as promised, my children and I did a “No Technology Day”. To clarify, we did a no electronics day, where none of us got on the computer or cell phone (except for brief calls as needed) or androids or television/movies/games. And let me tell you how it went. My children at first grumbled and whined like women kept from chocolate too long, but as we planned, engineered and built an elaborate marble track and played games and read books, there was no grumbling or whining at all in the house. In addition, I noticed with the extra time spent hanging out and extra attention we all seemed to give and get from each other, I heard no grumbling or unnecessary acting out or crying or misbehaving. In fact, I noticed my children much more stable, secure, happy, content. Additionally, there was no complaining at supper and everyone happily ate what was put in front of them, which was not normally something they did with this particular dish without some level of displeasure sharing. So, in response to yesterday’s blog on self esteem, I believe no electronics or at least much much less time with electronics in the home build stable, secure children and parents. I believe if we give our children our undivided attention and conversation and encouragement for notable parts of the day, we would see much more normalcy and much less narcissism and insecurity we are seeing so much of now. I noticed within myself a change also and when I was not visiting Facebook or checking emails or playing games on my Kindle, I was much more calm and fun and peaceful and had more energy and focus on my kids and then my husband when he was home from work. This successful experiment will be repeated, and I will definitely limit or prohibit the use of electronics during school time. I believe God was smiling on us today, and I would really like to make that an everyday occurrence.
There is much talk of the importance of self esteem. Building it in ourselves as well as our kids has become a great American past time. In my study of the geriatric population, there was not much emphasis on self esteem. In times past, people went to church and were taught morals by their parents and those were reinforced by their teachers and neighbors and relatives. People knew Whose they were and what was expected of them and were secure in that. They didn’t have to do mantras on self esteem to notch up their self worth. Every person mattered. Every soul was important. People did not have boxes of entertainment to sit in front of so did something entirely revolutionary. They spoke to each other! (Gasp!) When people speak, they feel valued that what they are saying is of value and their thoughts matter and can be bounced off to flick off any narcissism that arises and nip stinking thinking in the bud. So, my thought is this. What if we do technology free days, just as an experiment, as no computers or cell phones or androids or televisions, etc. and see if our children react differently and if so, how. Perhaps your experiment lasts one day. Perhaps it extends to several days, but whatever it is, let’s just give it a shot and see if this communication and time thing has a positive impact on our lives and that of loved ones around us. I am going to do it tomorrow and see what happens and report back to you. Maybe we can compare notes.