In Sight of Sin

Sometimes I forget.

I forget the type of person I used to be.

But other times, I remember. I remember it well.

And for those moments when I do remember, those moments when things I’ve done or used to do replay before me, I cringe. I cringe in horror. I shudder in shame. I shrink back in disgust.

That person…was me?

Sometimes when we let ourselves be consumed by whatever we feel at the moment or let ourselves be molded by what surrounds us, we become something we never thought we would ever become.

By beholding, I became.

Sometimes I feel that person still inside me. My sins spread out before me like fresh blood on a white rug. They are all there. Thankfully they aren’t displayed for everyone else to see.

But I want to say this: Something I have to consistently remember is even though I may have done those things or were part of a certain lifestyle in the past, choosing to follow Christ is what helps me keep those doors closed.

I have chosen to leave it behind.

It’s all a choice.

Anyone who chooses to follow Christ is a new creation; old things have passed away; all things have become new ( 2 Corinthians 5:17).

New.

If I were the same person I used to be, I wouldn’t be transformed. Dare I say, I wouldn’t even be a Christian. What would be the point?

Once we make a commitment to Christ, we are called to put off the old man and be renewed (Ephesians 4: 22-23), to be light bearers in a darkened world. To show there’s hope amidst what seems hopeless.

Christians hear and say this all the time, that God has an unconditional and inconceivable love for us. And He does. That love is there no matter where we are in our lives. He doesn’t love me any more or any less than he loves you.

We experience that love when we let Him into our lives. It must be an individual experience. I can sit here all day writing about God’s love and how He has changed my life. Though that can be helpful, only you can understand it fully when you experience it yourself.

Some more wonderful news is that God works in us to do good things, to change us the way we need and want to be changed.

The repercussions of my past actions are scars on my heart.

But I surrendered that part of me. And I have changed and will continue to change.

That’s the power of God.

People can say that the only reason I am different now is that I was driven to be different, and therefore can attribute those changes to the power I have within myself.

Oh boy, I can write another post about how false that is.

I don’t have that kind of power.

I do know that I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. I can overcome my propensities, practices, and habits that I know are dragging me down.

Every habit or practice that leads into sin and brings dishonor upon Christ must be put away, whatever the sacrifice.” -Acts of the Apostles, 312

When I made the decision to follow God (because I was so unhappy, broken, and miserable even though I was living with total “freedom”), there were some things I knew I needed to change. There were heartbreaking sacrfices I made. I questioned if the sacrifices were worth it and if it was even the right thing to do.

Was it worth it? I don’t even think I have to answer that. But I will. Yes.

So when I am burdened and stand in sight of my sins, I remember how faithful God is. I find hope in the promise that Christ will perfect our faith, perfect our characters. If we choose to serve God and let Him lead us, He will not lead us astray.

Triumph.

 

Until next,

Hide It Under a Bushel

It’s been awhile since I’ve felt this way.

But let’s be honest: these feelings happen more often than I would like.

Just to go back in time a little, when I was 21 years old and first really started to veer away from my old lifestyle, I quickly realized that being around all the things, places, and people I hung around wasn’t good for my progress; It was temptation overload.

And I used to be embarrassed to explain why I couldn’t go out to that certain place or partake in certain activities or be around a certain person. But handling those situations has gotten a little easier over the years.

And it’s especially easier now because I hang around different people.

But then it happens: I’m around certain people in certain situations and I really can’t do anything about it. (Except, of course, leave early haha).

And I feel shame and embarrassment for my choices all over again.

Why?

Well, I feel as though my lifestyle is offensive to them, and me being the noncombative person I am (for the most part) I automatically feel like I have to tone it (who I am and what I stand for) down a bit. Sometimes a lot. I probably eat things I shouldn’t eat, say things I shouldn’t say, talk about and agree with things I shouldn’t talk about or agree with anymore…

Or I just stay quiet, haha. Which can get awkward…

I necessarily don’t know (or am not sure ) if doing any of that is right or wrong. I want to be a good example and show how my life has changed, but I certainly don’t want to give off this self-righteous “holier-than-thou” attitude.

So I tone it down. But in the end, I feel awful. I feel awful for feeling ashamed of my choices, I feel awful for the people I was just with, I feel awful for feeling awful.

But should I care? If so, how much should I care?

 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven. Matthew 5:16.

Let my light shine. Not hide it under a bushel. If I have no problem saying how much I love my husband or my cat, I really should be better at standing up for my lifestyle choices… right?

I don’t know. What do you think?

Until next,

And Then I Heard a Story

We’ve all heard it before: There’s always two sides to a story.

Except I have found that usually there’s even more.

Confession time: I’ve been totally guilty of creating scenarios and stories in my head (that are probably completely wrong) about people and their situations. What they’re thinking, why they’re thinking it, and what they’re doing about what they’re thinking…

Yeah, I’ve figured it all out.

But the thing is, I haven’t. I never completely figure anything out. *Mind=blown*

And I keep learning this lesson over and over and over again.

We often don’t know the whole story, especially if we have only heard one side of it.

Or maybe we haven’t even heard any side of it (remember those scenarios I create in my head.)

For years I’ve harbored very awful and ugly feelings about something, and I thought I could never gain any peace about it, ever. There was a war raging inside of me. I needed, I yearned for, I cried for peace.

And then I heard a story.

I heard a story that changed my outlook and my feelings about what I felt awful and ugly about.

And I would have never known about any of this information had that story never been shared, had that moment and timing and circumstances been different; I could have lived forever with those feelings. But by God’s divine timing of that shared-story time, the way I felt, something I thought would never change, actually did change.

And there is probably even more to the story I still don’t know.

I know for a fact I don’t want those ugly and awful feelings I had to come back, and I pray they never do.

 

That story was a missing piece of my peace puzzle.

There are no coincidences.

It makes me wonder…how often do we go about our days thinking we know it all? How often do we make assumptions and spread ideas that could, in fact, be wrong?

I want to know the other side. I want to know the true story.

Instead of thinking I know, I actually want to know.

 

How many stories are out there that we could afford to hear?

To pay attention and listen?

There are so many sides to a story. So many opinions. So many changing elements…

 

Maybe there’s a part of a story you’re missing. Maybe there’s a piece, and some peace, you’ve been longing for that can only be found by making peace.

 

Until next,

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A Battle, a March

I think some of you know that I teach bible lessons to a class of teens/young adults. A questioned I asked them—and ask you— is this:

If I asked you if you were 100% committed to Christ, what would you say?

Christians often say that because we’re sinners/live in a sinful world, we cannot really be in control of our actions.

“No one is perfect,” they say.

Usually, such things are uttered immediately following (or immediately before) they did or said something they inherently knew was wrong.

They say something really mean about someone: “Well, I’m not perfect.”

They curse and gossip and cheat: “That’s just who I am.”

To me, that response diminishes God’s power and tells me the God you say you serve is a God that truly isn’t all that powerful.

If I am trying to represent the God I serve and the Christ I follow, I’m not going to talk like the rest of the world talks. I’m not going to cheat like the rest of the world cheats. I’m not going to lie like the rest of the world lies. I’m not even going to eat like the rest of the world eats (well, at least the rest of the world where the standard Western diet prevails). Plain and simple.

I digress. The point I’m trying to make here is that instead of coming up with excuses to why we curse/cheat/lie/steal/mistreat our bodies/sin, we should own our mistakes, switch gears, and say “You know, that was wrong. I messed up. I shouldn’t have done/said that. But God is able to help me with this.

Yes!

I get it. We struggle.

But who said this life would be easy?

“The Christian life is a battle and a march. In this warfare there is no release; the effort must be continuous and persevering. It is by unceasing endeavor that we maintain the victory over the temptations of Satan. Christian integrity must be sought with resistless energy and maintained with a resolute fixedness of purpose.”

“Wrongs cannot be righted, nor can reformations in conduct be made by a few feeble, intermittent efforts. Character building is the work, not of a day, nor of a year, but of a lifetime. The struggle for conquest over self, for holiness and heaven, is a lifelong struggle. Without continual effort and constant activity, there can be no advancement in the divine life, no attainment of the victor’s crown.” Ministry of Healing, page 452 & 453

It’s a struggle because we live with sin all around us. Temptations are rampant. Traumas tear our hearts. The good news is, we have a hope!

“You need not go to the ends of the earth for wisdom, for God is near. It is not the capabilities you now possess or ever will have that will give you success. It is that which the Lord can do for you. We need to have far less confidence in what man can do and far more confidence in what God can do for every believing soul. He longs to have you reach after Him by faith. He longs to have you expect great things from Him. He longs to give you understanding in temporal as well as in spiritual matters. He can sharpen the intellect. He can give tact and skill. Put your talents into the work, ask God for wisdom, and it will be given you.” Christ’s Object Lessons, page 146

Hebrews 12:3-10 talks about what it means to love God, to allow him to transform us, to develop love to obey and willingness to let Him change our hearts.

Titus 2:11 talks about the importance of God’s grace in overcoming sin and temptation and Ephesians 2:8 talks about the importance of growing our faith.

1 Thessalonians, James, and 1 Peter all talk about trials faced throughout the Christian life.

Christ’s righteousness comes by faith (Romans 3:22), and nothing is impossible for us to achieve (Philippians 4:13). He came to change our sinful hearts, to help us obey his law in love, to overcome sin. We can do nothing without the transforming power of Christ ( John 15:5)

The test of true Christian sincerity is not in our words, but in our actions.

That said, it absolutely matters what we do—how else can we develop a heart/character fit for heaven?

“Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow….if you are willing and obedient, you shall eat the good of the land; But if you refuse and rebel, you shall be devoured by the sword.” Isaiah 1:18-20.

Okay, this last verse sounds a bit scary. But I included it because there is a deep message here. Not meant to be scary, but definitely meant to be serious. As Christ’s disciples, we must serve Him out of love and commitment (just like a marriage). But if we refuse to obey the commitment we made and rebel against that commitment, there are consequences (just like a marriage).

Just because I make mistakes in my Christian life (and marriage) does not mean I am less committed. If I give up, then yes, I am less committed. Press forward with love and faith!

Don’t. Give. Up.

Trust in God’s power to help you overcome. (And get a brain scan if you’re really struggling. I type this to be a little humorous, but I’m actually pretty serious.)

In the end, I believe we Christians should be able to say we are 100% committed to Christ. And if we’re not, we need to ask ourselves why.

Until next,

The Thin Red Gossiping Line

Hello everyone! So I’ve been lagging on posts- I have about five that have been lingering in my drafts for ages. I really have to get on that. Does anyone else have the same issue as I do? When you know you have to work on projects, but getting to a starting point is difficult? Once I start though, the momentum kicks in and I have a hard time stopping haha. Any time limits I give myself go out the window… something else I need to work on.

But anyway, I’m going to kick off my writing projects list with this post 😀

Let’s dooo thissss.


Okay, so I may not have any statistics to back this up, but I’m going to just go out on a limb here and say many of us—dare I say most of us?—like gossip.

Yes, let’s just admit it. In some way or other, we like to hear something said about someone else. We like to say stuff about someone else. Something that in some way makes us feel better.

It’s not an easy thing to admit, I get that. I like to pretend I don’t like gossip.

But listening to or taking part in gossip is almost like a driving force, a desire within us that feels impossible to stop.

“It’s not really gossip. I’m just talking about it with other people to, you know, get advice.”

Fine. I can see that. But realllyyy thougghhh?

Based on Ecclesiastes 10:1, an author writes: “However contracted may be our sphere, we still exert an influence for weal or woe. …one rash act, one thoughtless word, on our part may exert so deep an influence on the life of another that it will prove the ruin of his soul. Every act, every word, is a seed that will bear fruit. Every deed of thoughtful kindness…of self-denial, will reproduce itself in others…” Prophets & Kings, page 85,86

That is crazy. Not gossiping could most definitely be an act of self-denial—holding back our words because we know we shouldn’t say them. Do any of us ever think about what we say, or how our words affect others? Or are we so trapped in our emotions at the time that we don’t even think about what we’re going to say- we just say it?

Okay, now for the biblical texts.

Prov. 17:9 says he who repeats a matter separates friends.

1 John 3:15 says whoever hates anyone is a murderer, and murderers don’t have eternal life within them…

Do we repeat matters we shouldn’t be repeating? Do we gossip because we don’t like someone?

Or do we gossip just because it’s well, fun?

Ultimately, we have to watch what we say to people, about people, and around people. Gossip might feel good in the moment (like every other sin) but comes with negative repercussions (like every other sin).

What those of us with big mouths need to recite is Psalm 141:3,4:

“Set a guard, O Lord, over my mouth; Keep watch over the door of my lips.”

Write that down. Put it in our pocket. Look at it every day.

Sometimes things truly are better left unsaid.

And I for one have to be okay with not hearing the latest gossip. That’s going to be a challenge.

“Every day, our words and acts are making impressions upon those with whom we associate. How great the need that we set a watch upon our lips and guard carefully our steps! One reckless movement, one imprudent step, and the surging waves of some strong temptation may sweep a soul into the downward path…

On the other hand, if by our example we aid others in the development of good principles, we give them power to do good. In their turn they exert the same beneficial influence over others. Thus hundreds and thousands are helped by our unconscious influence. The true follower of Christ strengthens the good purposes of all with whom he comes in contact. Before an unbelieving, sin-loving world he reveals the power of God’s grace and the perfection of His character.” -Prophets & Kings, page 238

Let us aid others in the development of good principles, not feed the ugly, gossiping monster within. Let us reveal love. And as Christ’s disciples, let us rememeber who we are representing.

Until next,

Brotherly Love- What Does that Mean?

In my reading of 1 John 1 and 2, I was impressed by the ideas of brotherly love.

Those in the Christian world often hear the theme of “love your neighbor” and “love one another.”

I’ve written about this theme before in Love One Another and I’m a Foolish, Fragile Spine.

Some people say that loving one another is the greatest of great commandments, the Golden Rule.

But how often do we actually do that?

How do we practice this?

I can’t even express how teeth-grinding it is for me to see hatred and bigotry portrayed and justified by using biblical texts. It makes me crazy. These hateful people declaring their hatred in the name of God is the example of Christianity they give to the world.

And we wonder why people hate Christians.

Guys, this loving your neighbor theme is serious. The Bible says if we truly love God we will love our brother also ( 1 John 4:21).

My understanding is that if I don’t love my neighbor, I don’t truly love God.

We need to extend that love to everyone—including the people we don’t like.

For me, that means including those “Christians” who spew Bible verses in order to justify their racism. And the people who say awful things about my religious group. And the friends who say (indirectly) that I’m stupid for believing in God and not in “science.”

How do we develop that love? How often do we put ourselves last and other first?

Let’s all try to develop that kind of love this week, that Christ-like love God wants us all to have.

 

Hate = Murder

How dislike, jealousy, covetousness, bitterness grows into actual hate. What do we do about it?

I’ve been reading a lot lately about loving one another. I mean, I even have several posts already written (and in the process of being written) that are all about this idea of brotherly love.

I’m currently reading a book by Karen Ehman titled Listen, Love, Repeat: Other-Centered Living in a Self-Centered World.

While I read part of me thinks, “Oh yeah, I know this,” or “Oh yeah, I can do that.”

But truth be told, I’m actually struggling.

1 John 2:11 But he that hateth his brother is in darkness, and walketh in darkness, and knoweth not whither he goeth, because that darkness hath blinded his eyes.

I’m blinded by dislike/jealousy/bitterness/envy/competitive spirit/fill-in-the-blank-here that I feel like I am walking in darkness.

And even worse, these fiery feelings have been fanned for so long that for the first time I feel like it’s breeding into actual hate.

And that’s some really dangerous ground.

1 John 3:15 Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer: and ye know that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him.

A murderer!? Who has no eternal life? YIKES.

So what do I do about it? How do I handle these feelings?

I know I’m being tested. I know I have to trust God and talk to Him about this every day…

But instead of these feelings going away, I feel they’re becoming more grounded in my heart.

WHY? What’s going on?

Am I doing something wrong? Is there more I could do?

This has to change. No matter how we may feel about a person, those who claim the Christian name should not express hate, AT ALL.

And yet, it’s burning in my heart.

I’ve been given this advice: You don’t have to like a person, but you do need to love them.

I know I need help.

Until next,

em