Friday, May 22, 2015

Sin Burns

It seems as if  I am always burning something in the kitchen, including but not limited to: soup, toast, pizza, eggs, quesadillas, my hands, and my arms.  Recently, I burned my arm while I was cooking Zach a pizza for lunch.  I had put my hot pad mitt on and opened up the door.  As I proceeded to pull the wire rack out, my arm BUMPED the higher wire rack above.  I am not kidding when I say bumped!  As I felt the heat, I promptly pulled my arm away.  However,  immediately a small burn "line" formed on my arm.  I was surprised because my arm might have touched the hot rack for about one second. However, within 5 minutes a large oblong clear blister formed on my skin.  As I marveled how fast I had received a burn, I couldn't help but relate the hot oven to sin in my life.  Sin is not pretty.  Sin is not harmless.  Sin burns!  Even when you "bump" into sin, it can leave damage. 

When I was a young teenager I had a different view of sin.  Sin was all the "fun" stuff.  I just couldn't understand why the "fun" stuff had to be wrong.  However, as I have grown older, I see that sin not only hurts us, it hurts God.  Sometimes we want to see how far we can go without something being considered a sin.  Often, our focus is on the sin and not the Savior.  As Christians, we accept Christ into our heart and crown Him King of our lives.    For those of us that have made a lot of mistakes and have a lot of shortcomings, we know in our heart that we MUST have Him.  We our grateful and we praise Him.  We love Him because He first loved us.  He loves us.  He wants His best for us.  He hates the things that hurt us.  So, when God says "Don't do that", He is really saying "Don't burn yourself".  He knows that it only takes a second for the long-lasting effects of sin to leave a scar on our heart.

Is there anything in your life today that needs to go?  Is there anything that is a part of your daily routine that God has warned you about?  When we ignore God's Word and do our own thing, we always get wounds to the soul.  I propose that we seek to agree with God and call sin what it is; sin!  As we agree with God and get inline with His will for our lives, we can be filled up with His Spirit and have peace and joy.  As burns to the skin, sin can leave ugly reminders that we thought we knew more than God.

 You cannot fool God, so don’t make a fool of yourself! You will harvest what you plant.   If you follow your selfish desires, you will harvest destruction, but if you follow the Spirit, you will harvest eternal life. Galatians 6:7-8 CEV

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Shattered Screens

Life is messy.  It seldom comes in a tidy little box with a pretty bow on it.  Sometimes things happen that we don't understand; often very trivial.   For example, last week I dropped my phone on a hard concrete floor.  The screen shattered into tiny little pieces.  However, I promptly upgraded and ordered a brand new, even better, phone.  It arrived Friday.  As I opened up the box, I was impressed to see a beautiful CLEAR unshattered screen.  I handled it carefully and cautiously.  My family was very impressed with it's beautiful wide screen trimmed in white and coral.  I was very proud of it as well, until Sunday.  Sunday, at church, as I was digging for my gum in the bottom of my small purse, my phone seemed to take a leap out onto the floor landing facedown on concrete. I sat there, almost paralyzed, looking down at my new phone facedown on the floor.  I didn't want to pick it up because then I would see what I feared most; another shattered screen.  I took a deep breath and leaned over and quickly flipped it over.  My fear was confirmed;  my brand-new beautiful screen was shattered.  My two-day old phone had a nice big shattered screen!  Trivial I know!   However, life is filled with these types of things and after a little while, all these little things can add up to be a huge block to our joy and peace. Why?  Now,  I can see our world being rocked when we lose a loved one like I lost my Dad a couple of years ago.  On the other hand, how come we let these little things rock and control us so?

For me, the answer is tucked away in Philippians 4.  The whole chapter is amazing and reminds us the secret of true peace; thanking, trusting, and obeying God.  However, I want to zone in on verses 11-13: "Not that I was ever in need, for I have learned how to be content with whatever I have.  I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little. 13 For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength".  There it is!  Being content is being rooted in Christ.  He gives us the strength, joy, peace, and vision that we need.  HE is the one thing we MUST have.  He is our sustainer and strength.  If our worth or peace is based on things or people, we will be rocked back and forth on a sea of emotions.  On the other hand, if we are anchored with God, through the Holy Spirit, we will be able to look down at our shattered screen and say, "oh well, it's just a phone".  

I want to encourage you today to let God anchor your soul by His Spirit and His Word. Perhaps you can read all of Philippians 4 and let the words sink in.  It is only when we are grounded in Christ that trivial things stay trivial and we can choose to be content and thankful, no matter what. By the way, I have decided to keep my new phone as long as it works.  I want to use it as a reminder that God can take shattered things and use them to His glory; I know this well!  


Friday, May 1, 2015

Playing God

Do you have a problem with control? Maybe you feel like you don't have enough control; or maybe you feel like you must control for things to be okay.   Do you feel like it's up to you to work out things for your loved ones and family?  Do you feel like, if you try hard enough, that you have it in you to "fix" all your problems?  I am the first one to admit that I have had a problem with control for years.  Although I didn't understand it all myself, I had an intense drive to "take care" of everyone I loved.  I personally felt responsible for protecting my family from any harm or failures.  Needless to say, this has been a very heavy burden; a burden I was NEVER meant to carry.  Jesus tells us in Matthew 11:28: Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Only Jesus can give us true rest from the constant drive to be in control.  For me, the driving force behind my need for control was fear; fear for my children, my family, my health, my future, and much more.  If I am living in fear, then I am NOT living in faith and trust.  (For more on that, see Trust Vs. Worry)  The truth is, when I strive to control everyone and everything, I am trying to be "God" in their lives. Wow, that's a sobering thought!  Instead of my loved ones growing closer to God, they were only getting more dependent on me! Ouch!   I am not qualified to know all and to know what is best in every situation.

 During this past year, God is doing a radical work in my heart and life.  For the first time in my life, I am realizing this truth:  I have never really had any control in the first place, I have only been getting in God's way when I thought He needed me to "intervene".  However, as I have been able to give everything over to the Lord and trust Him, I am seeing more results than I have ever seen before.  Now, I am not saying I have this trust thing 100 % down.  On the other hand, I am saying that as I confess my fears to the Lord and trust HIS ways and plans, I am having a lot more peace and freedom.

Is there any area of your life in which you are "playing God"?  Trust me, we were not meant to be everything to everyone.  We WERE meant to be filled up with God's Spirit and let HIM do the ministering and loving through us.  I have a good friend named Sandi that has already gone home to be with the Lord.  Sandi would always tell me:  Melaina, if you are "stressed out" and "worn out", then you are doing things in your own power, not the Lord's.  Wow!  Isn't that the truth?  My prayer and encouragement for you, is to examine your heart and see if maybe you are clinging to a false sense of control.  If you are, no condemnation; however, don't stay there!  Give all your worries to the Lord and follow HIS leading!  You will be amazed at the mountains HE can move as you trust Him.