Archive | September 2014

How to be holy in a modern world of weird – part 2

1 Peter 1:13-16 – “Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ; As obedient children, not fashioning yourselves according to the former lusts in your ignorance: But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy.”

We are going to take these verses apart and search them out bit by bit. God promised that if we are faithful that He will be faithful in helping us understand.

“Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind”

Gird up – This means to put on or equip. When I think of girding up, I think of putting on a belt.
The loins – The loins is the lower part of your body, particularly, the hip area. This, along with “gird up”, means that the man would cinch up the bottom of his tunic and tuck it into his belt so that he could move quickly.

I don’t know about you but I don’t think I have hips in my mind. I have enough of an issue looking at them in the mirror without being concerned with their size in my mind!
Stretch time! Sometimes the writer of the Bible (the Holy Spirit) will use things and ideas that are familiar to us to get a point across. What is the hip area identified with? Procreation, right? The procreative power is located in the hip region. In my opinion, the “loins of your mind” is the ability we have to think, reason and create.
Why should we bind those up? Shouldn’t they be free to imagine all sorts of wonderful things that can help and benefit the world?
Yes, but “the loins of your mind” is also capable of creating and designing all types of ungodly actions and ideas. It is a precarious balance.
Romans 6:16-18 – “Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness? But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you. Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness.”
We are servants to what binds us, whether it be sin in our hearts or Christ in our hearts. Whatever binds our heart, binds our mind. You cannot have two different factions controlling you. Matthew 6:24 – “No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.”

In our society, we don’t like to think that we are serving any one. Servitude is too closely linked with slavery and no one wants to be a part of that. However, in reality, we are all a servant to something or someone. We serve our family by preparing dinner. We serve our boss by doing our job correctly. It is a harsh reality but one that can truly bless your life in the right light. And that Light is what I hope is binding your heart and mind.

You see, when sin bind your heart and mind, you see things in a different light. You see darkness. You see all the bad. You see fear. You see suspicion. When the True Light binds your heart and mind, you see opportunity. You see hope. You see confidence in the Conquerer. Now, you can still sometimes see all the yuck in the world because, unfortunately, we still have sin present in our world and in our life.

So, how does this apply to everyday life? Well, I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – it’s a choice. It is a choice of salvation. It is also a choice of who will have the tighter grip on your heart and mind. Will you allow sin to control your actions or will you let Jesus? You can’t do both. You have to choose one or the other. Are you going to see opportunity or bad things happening? Are you going to see confidence in the Conquerer or fear? What will you choose today? Every day is a choice. Every day is a battle. Every day is an opportunity to show what your heart and mind are girded with. What will you choose today?

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How to be holy in a modern world of weird – part 1

1 Peter 1:13-16 – “Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ; As obedient children, not fashioning yourselves according to the former lusts in your ignorance: But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy.”

Are you weird? Some days I feel like I am. We don’t have cable or satellite at our house. We go to church every time that the doors are open. Our family loves each other. Things that don’t seen weird to me astound the outside world. They don’t understand how we function without the television on all the time. They don’t understand how two people who got married when they were twenty can still love each other like my husband and I do today. They don’t understand the commitment we have to our local New Testament church. So, I guess I am weird.

But that’s okay. If being weird means I love my husband and my family and care about my worship and service to my Savior, then bring on the weirdness. I will embrace it as my own!

If you have chosen to follow Christ as your Savior, you are called to the same “weirdness” I have been, except we give it a different name, a more fitting name – Holy Living. So, of course, we have to go to Webster’s 1828 dictionary to find the definition for “holy” – “Properly, whole, entire, or perfect, in a moral sense. Hence, pure in heart, temper or dispositions; free from sin and sinful affections. Applied to the Supreme Being, holy signifies perfectly pure, immaculate and complete in moral character; and man is more or less holy, as his heart is more or less sanctified, or purified from evil dispositions. We call a man holy, when his heart is conformed in some degree to the image of God, and his life is regulated by the divine precepts.”
Do you notice the “more or less” and the “in some degree”? Why do you think that is there? We are not perfect. We do not have the capability of living a life that is, at every moment, holy. We sin. We fail. But does that mean we shouldn’t try? Nope. It means that we have a gracious and understanding Savior who understands our weaknesses and faults and doesn’t hold them against us.

So, over the next few days we are going to look at what makes us “weird”, aka holy. I want to study what a “holy” lifestyle looks like on a daily basis. God used Peter to encourage us to “be holy; for I am holy”. So I think that it is prudent to learn how to be holy in a modern world of weird.

Fallingwater

Matthew 7:24,25 – “Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock: And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock.”

While we were in western Pennsylvania, we visited Frank Lloyd Wright’s home design called Fallingwater. It was stunning! Simply amazing! Especially the outside. It blended so perfectly with nature. The inside was a bit small and cramped for my style, but you have to remember it was built in the 1930s. Yes, you read it right – 1939! But the amazing thing was that the furniture and the bathroom designs could have been in any modern home in America. Really, really neat.

But the thing that I want to point out is the building itself. It is hanging from the side of a mountain over a small waterfall. When Wright designed the home, he wanted it to perfectly blend with nature. He anchored it to a boulder, well, several boulders to be exact. I must admit, when we first stepped into the house with this knowledge, I began praying that an earthquake would not come and test the firmness of his anchoring. It was a little creepy. And this house has been hanging around (literally) since 1939.

When I stopped to think about this fact, several verses came to mind. But none stronger than this one. Mr. Wright built this house upon a rock. He placed the beams for this house firmly into the (seemingly) unmovable boulder. And all that rock, concrete and steel have been hanging over a little mountain stream’s waterfall, hosting millions of guests, for 75 years. That’s pretty amazing.

We are instructed to do a similar thing in our life. We are to build our life upon the Rock. This Rock is truly unmovable. Let the earthquakes come. Let the floods rise. Let the wind blow against you. Nothing can take you off that which you have established upon Him. It sounds all well and pretty right? “Yeah, yeah, I’ve heard that my whole life and still have no clue what that really means.”

Have you ever built with Legos? Those little blocks that fit together to create something truly unique? When you get a set of Legos for something specific, you have all these pieces, a base and a wordless instruction manual – all pictures. You take the pieces in the order instructed and attach them to the base. Every piece has a specific location. And when done properly, it will look exactly like the picture on the front of the box. But if you try to create the structure independent of the base, it will fall apart. You have to use the base.

When people try to build their lives independent of the Rock, their life will eventually fall apart. It may be slow or it may be a raging mudslide, but it will fall.

So take these verses and this little tirade on Fallingwater and think about it this weekend. What, where or on whom have you or are you building your house?

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The candles in the window

Matthew 5:15,16 – “Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.”

My husband and I visited western Pennsylvania these last few days. It was a beautiful and relaxing trip. It was dark by the time we reached our resort. As we were driving on the winding roads in the dark, I was looking at the houses we past. Many of them had a candle in the window. In fact, they had one in every window facing the road.

I have heard of some cultures where this is common practice. For some people, they place the candle in the window to keep the evil spirits away from their home. Now, I’m not saying that this is the reason that people have them in their windows in western Pennsylvania. I think it makes the home look very welcoming.

But it made me think of the verse I mentioned above. People do not light a candle and then hide it. They put it out to provide light for everyone around it. Likewise, when we accept Jesus as our Savior, we are supposed to put it out there for everyone to see. We are encouraged to be different. We are encouraged to love others.

Is the way that you live your life enough evidence to convict you of being a follower of Christ? Or have you put your candle under something? Do you only bring it out when problems arise? Do you only peek at it when you have a question that needs to be answered?

Princess, I want to encourage you to put your candle in the window for all to see. Let them see how welcoming your Savior really is. Let everyone see the bright spot on a dark night. Give them the opportunity to be warmed by His Light.

The little lesson

Matthew 6:14,15 – “For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.”
Psalm 103:12 – “As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us.”

Don’t you love it when your children teach you a lesson?
Yesterday, my son told me about a confrontation that he had had with one of his teachers. It was a simple misunderstanding but the teacher accused my son of being dishonest. Not only dishonest but actually said he was lying. Well, when momma heard this, momma bear was ready to come out of the cave! At our house, we hold truth in the highest regard and with that comes the most severe consequences when the truth is not spoken. So when I hear that my son is being accused of lying, my feathers get ruffled in a major way!

So my husband and I spoke with my son in the afternoon (the above happened on the way to school so I had the whole day to stew about it!) to clarify what really happened. Well, my son was telling the story in a nonchalant way and wasn’t overly concerned about the whole thing. When we asked him if we should talk to the principal about it, he said “no”. “What??!! Don’t you think that the teacher should be brought to question over accusing you of lying?” “No”, he said, “She said she was sorry and it is over with. Everything is fine.” And with that, my son reminded my husband and I of a great spiritual truth.

When we say we are sorry and ask for forgiveness, Jesus wads those sins up and throws them as far as the east is from the west. He remembers them no more. He goes on with life and doesn’t hold a grudge. He doesn’t seek out revenge. You know, all those feelings that I had been feeling all day yesterday…not Jesus. When confession of wrong is made and the decision to go the other way is declared, He no longer remembers it. PRAISE THE LORD!!

I am so grateful for a son (and daughter) who call Jesus their Savior. I am so grateful for my Savior who doesn’t remember by sin and doesn’t hold them against me when I ask Him to forgive me. And I am grateful that He is still working on me.

Change

Isaiah 43:18,19 – “Remember ye not the former things, neither consider the things of old. Behold, I will do a new thing; now it shall spring forth; shall ye not know it? I will even make a way in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert.”

First of all, let’s look at this verse in the context it was written. Isaiah was warning the children of Israel that judgment was coming. Bad things were going to happen because of the choice not to trust in Him. However, despite their foolishness in not following Him, He stayed with them. He promised never to leave them through the course of His judgment. (That’s a whole other blog in itself!) And here they are on the other side and He encourages the people this way – “Don’t remember where you used to be except to remember the lesson learned. Instead, see the new way in which I am bringing you. Don’t you know that I will always take care of you, no matter what?” A pretty awesome lesson to learn. Yes, we will mess up. Yes, there will be consequences for our actions. BUT, Jesus has promised to bring us through to the other side and be with us every step of the way.

Now, the best thing about God’s word is that it is relevant to the people of that time AND it is relevant to us today. And it can be relevant in many ways. How awesome is that!

One lesson is bringing us through the consequences of our sin. Another lesson to be learned here is that it is okay to change sometimes.

We started the Discovery program at our church last night. It is similar to AWANAS but somewhat different. We have had Discovery at our church for ages. But this year, the director decided to change up the rotation a bit. The whole thing was liken unto changing the way that you do Sunday morning service. Everyone gets out of whack when you pray before you sing the first song. You know what I mean? We have our schedule. We have done it this way for years. It works. Why change it?

I love to change my decorations in my house for the seasons. I think it is fun. I enjoy looking at something different for a season. Oranges and reds come out in the fall. Red and green at Christmas time. Blue and white in the winter. You know, that kind of thing.

But some people hate change. They don’t like to switch it up a bit. They get all discombobulated when the toilet paper is flipped the other way (by the way, I can’t stand for the paper to be pulled under. Over is the only way I can handle it. I’m just sayin….).

Yet, sometimes change is good. We all cheerfully embrace the change that occurs when someone accepts Jesus as their Savior. But changing traditions is very close to heresy.

What I’m trying to say, princess, is sometimes change is good. Sometimes change brings new perspectives, new ideas, new excitement for something. Sometimes change shows us that the old ways were in need of a new coat of paint.

Change happens everyday in life. We adapt to it. We modify our lives around it. It may not be comfortable. It may be awkward. It may not even work. But if God can change the heart of a nation to follow Him more closely, surely goodness and mercy, He can change our attitude to be more open to a change in behavior. So be aware. Be ready. And be excited about change. God can do amazing things in and through us if we are willing to change when He asks us to.

The mote vs. The beam

Matthew 7:3-5 – “And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye? Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye? Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye.”

Have you ever been laying in bed saying your evening prayer before bed and talking to God about someone that is driving you nuts and then all of the sudden the convicting power of the Holy Spirit whispers in your ear “hey, maybe you are the problem”? Maybe there really is no tangible problem at all with the other person. Maybe it is just your bad attitude that is the issue. You gotta love His attention in your life.

This happens to me, a lot. I have always been the type of person who tries to let things roll off my back. But sometimes my spiky attitude gets perked up and catches anything that tries to escape via my back. It’s terrible. Just terrible.

This is all internal, you understand. It’s not like I get an attitude with people, often. Usually, all of this stuff is going on in my head. If my head had a video screen…..oh, it would not be good sometimes.

Usually we think of sin as something that is done outside our body. But the sin that goes on inside our mind is just as bad, maybe even worse. But in God’s eyes, there is no worse – it is all bad.

Anyway, the attitude of our heart is important. I know I have said that like a hundred times, but I can’t stress it enough. Maybe it’s because it is something that I need to be reminded of constantly.

Back to the verse. It is so much easier to see someone else’s problems than to look at our own. I can see why a person bugs me, but do I ever stop to consider how I might be bugging them? Do I ever stop and think that my actions my tick them off causing them to react the way they do, which in turn bugs me? Crazy old circle!

So what is the answer? Remember yesterday I encouraged you to listen for the Holy Spirit in your life showing you the things you do wrong and then choose to turn from them and go the other way? Prime example right here. Do you have someone in your life that makes you want to gouge out your eyeballs because you do and do and they complain and complain? Turn it over to Jesus. Maybe there is someone in your life that needs your prayers for them. Maybe you should stop doing and start praying. Maybe you need to let Jesus change your attitude towards them. But that means choosing to walk away from your hurt feelings and all the things they have done or said to you in the past. And that can be a hard one to do. But just grab the hand of Jesus and start walking. Today is a gift, that’s why we call it the present. Take His gift of peace and contentment and run with it. Life is too short for hurt feelings and worry.