"Not only was the Teacher wise, but he also imparted knowledge to the people. He pondered and searched out and set in order many proverbs. The Teacher searched to find just the right words, and what he wrote was upright and true.
The words of the wise are like goads, their collected sayings like firmly embedded nails—given by one shepherd. Be warned, my son, of anything in addition to them.
Of making many books there is no end, and much study wearies the body.
Now all has been heard;
here is the conclusion of the matter:
Fear God and keep his commandments,
for this is the duty of all mankind.
For God will bring every deed into judgment,
including every hidden thing,
whether it is good or evil." Ecc. 12:9-14
As with all sin, we first start with the temptation to sin before we do the actually sinning. James 1:14 says:
“But each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death”We need to stop sin when the desire comes - before it births sin in us. Temptation isn’t sin – we sin when we give into the temptation. We need to bounce our looks, or thoughts, or words.
Ladies, I think the guys are on to something here! What if we ‘bounced’ whenever the desire for sin appeared? Rather than just lust, what if we applied it to worry, pain, hurt, unforgiveness, a bad attitude or discontent?
At times we need to fight and work through our sin and issues, but once the Lord has made His position to us clear on a matter we need to “bounce” whenever our desires hasten to lead us astray.
We need to bounce:
-When we start to worry over a situation or person and bounce to remembering Who is in control of the future and all situations in it.
-When something triggers an old memory and the pain that goes with it and bounce to where we are now and what He has done.
-When someone hurts us – again – and un-forgiveness rears it’s ugly head - bounce by choosing to forgive as Christ forgives us.
-When discontentment floods our hearts over our roles, relationships (or lack thereof), and possessions - bounce to what we do have and the Provider of those things.
Bouncing is a habit that takes time and purpose to implement. The art of bouncing is something you prepare for and decide to do ahead of time – before the desire and temptation come. Make a game plan. Choose something you will bounce your thoughts and desires towards. It could be anything – sing a song, quote scripture, physically go do something, or mentally start planning a phone call or conversation you want to have – even your grocery list. Personally for me, prayer for a specific person is my favorite bounce plan.
If you struggle with worry, a bad attitude or unforgiveness, bouncing your thoughts by praying for the person/situation is a great way to gain perspective and peace. On the other hand if you struggle with lust, pain or discontentment type desires, –trying to pray for the situation or object of your sinful desire in the moment of temptation is a lot like trying to not think of something. You will always think of and dwell on what you are trying hardest to forget! It kind of defeats the purpose. So bounce wisely. Ask the Lord what, how or whom you are to bounce your thoughts and desires towards. He’ll let you know and then do it – plan ahead for when the temptation comes.
Picking something ahead of time to bounce your thoughts towards is like loading your gun with amo in a war ahead of the battle. You don’t want to be caught without your ammunition.
May the Lord direct (redirect or bounce) your hearts into God’s love and Christ’s perseverance. (From 2 Thess 3:5) Bounce, jump and shift and we will gain the victory over what battles and defeats us!
*BTW for guys reading this post – girls do notice when you are out and about with us and you choose not to look when you see something – we/I respect you greatly for that!
Labels: seeking God
But then, what if? What if the Lord did give us a receipt with which to return our “gift”?
Singleness can be returned at the Focus department in the INAY (It’s Not About You) store. I know, that’s harsh – but it’s true. Bear with me and to read more about why I've come to this conclusion, and why (even though I'm in the same place I was last year) I'm enjoying Christmas without the normal blues this season continue reading here.
I almost always see this word as a bad thing. For me it means limitations, that I’m not super woman as much as I want to be. It means I’m human. I’m learning it means He’s God. I’ve known for years that God is my strength and when I’m weak He’s strong and yada yada yada…. But lately it’s making it’s way from my head to my heart. I KNOW that when I’m tired and at my end – it is my end and the beginning of Him. For all of my tiredness there is an opposite in Him.
Tired of being sick (physically) all fall – tired to the point of not functioning.
Tired of seeing the pain and evil - tired of my heart breaking.
Tired of the Lord revealing things to me I can’t do much about or fix – tired of surrendering it all back to Him.
Tired of fighting my own selfishness.
And yet – I’m thankful He’s not tired of me. For every time my heart breaks, it’s only because His is too. Fighting my selfishness means that it’s dying. That He is living more. With sickness comes compassion and patience. In revelation comes responsibility to pray – utter reliance on Him. For in the end of my understanding begins His. When my heart can’t take it anymore – His is larger. Perhaps tired is a good thing. It keeps me on my knees.
5 Minute Friday Prompt – Tired. Real, raw unedited writing for 5 minutes. Join us over at the Gypsy Momma.
Labels: 5 Min promt
Two tiny words that form a transitional phrase and a conditional clause. They are the bridge between cause and effect and the signaling/ushering in of another season. A continuation of one season as it simultaneously prepares for the next. “So that” can explain part of the ‘why’ in life as you look back over the circumstances they bridge to the outcome, purpose and result.
The only problem with the “so that” bridge is when God is still building the bridge in our lives we can only see the “so” part. It doesn’t make sense yet – and that is exactly where I am right now. I’m in a season of wrestling. Wrestling with serving/loving/living fully in the now as God pricks and prepares my heart for the future. He is stirring things in my heart I don’t understand and don’t know how to put into words yet. My heart is breaking for things it never used too. I long and ‘weep as a man, longing for his Home’. I see God working and moving pieces in my heart but not how they connect.
Some days I feel on the outside looking in – it’s as if I’m reading the full story of my own life as it is being written, while other days I’m acutely aware of only the one or two words in front of me. My life is a paradox– in some areas I have a sense of knowing or glimpsing part of what the end will be – where He is leading me but with no idea how I’m going to get there. In other areas I just have no clue at all. There I can only see the cornerstones of the “so that” bridge in front of me – while also knowing that all the stones and pieces probably aren’t there yet to complete the bridge.
But here’s the hope: the bridge will be made complete. The Lord’s teaching me that the “so that” in this life has a reason and purpose. I’m very much in a season of the “so”. I don’t have a “that” to go with it yet – but I will. The Lord never leaves a job half done and if we let Him, He will “complete the good work He began in us.
Interesting thing though, the “good work” or the “so that” bridge the Lord is working in us is twofold. The Lord does things so that we may grow, learn and benefit from them but it never stops there. He also does it for benefit of others whose lives we will touch. Purposefully or inadvertently, the lessons we learn affect others if we live them out.
Take Abraham. He is the very picture of faithfulness, one of the fore fathers and part of the lineage of Christ. His “so that” story is incredible. His faith was accredited to him for righteousness. God was faithful to Abraham by fulfilling (completing) His promise to him by giving him Isaac. But it doesn’t end there! Abraham’s lessons weren’t just for himself. Romans 4 tells us:
“Therefore the promise comes by faith, so that it may be by grace and may be guaranteed to all Abraham’s offspring – not only to those who are of the law but also to those who have the faith of Abraham… [that] ‘it was credited to him [for righteousness]’ were not written for him [Abraham] alone, but also for us, to whom God will credit righteousness – for us who believe in him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead.” [my emphasis]Faithfulness and believing/trusting when we don’t see where life is going was a lesson for Abraham but also for us.
I love that Abraham didn’t know where his “so that” story was going or even what it was bridging (try oodles of generations! Now that’s quite a bridge!). Hebrews 11:8 says “By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going.” Abraham saw God working in his life too and didn’t understand what God was doing and how he was going to get to the end (the land and Isaac) yet he obeyed anyway. Wow. I want to be like that!
The further I read in Hebrews 11 the more I realized almost all of the heroes of the faith had “so that” stories. Stories God used for them but also for all of us. They too longed for Home: “For he [Abraham] was looking forward to a city with foundations, whose architect and builder was God.” And “All these people were still living by faith when they died.”
In my finite mind, I look at all these stories (please go read all of Hebrews 11!) and think that all of their “so that” stories are complete. David became king, Abraham had Isaac, Elisha saw God, Moses was rescued in the rushes and saved Israel, Raeahab let down the spies and lived, and so on. All these men and women saw God or part of His plan -in part. Scripture says they were still living by faith when they died and didn’t see the completion. This blows my mind. Why? God met them – that’s complete right?
It would be if it was only about us. But God’s been showing me it’s not. He doesn’t just move or act for the individual or us. As a friend put it, we almost have an entitled view of God. As in He ‘owes us’ because it’s all about us, all about me, all about you as the individual. Wrong!
Sure, God comes through for me, but it’s not about me. His plan is all encompassing and so much broader than me, than even the heroes of old! Look how the faith chapter ends.
“These [all the old testament faith examples or “so that” stories] were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised, since God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect”.Only together with us would they be made perfect. Wow. Think about that one for a minute. God is serious about unity and oneness, fellowship. Oneness with Himself and with other believers. We aren’t ever meant to do this life alone. Your lessons and actions will effect generations. What excitement! What responsibility!!
As Romans and Hebrews talk about faithfulness, righteousness, and lessons connecting us together – 2 Corinthians 1 says the same thing about suffering and comfort.
“For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ. If we are distressed, it is for your comfort and salvation; if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which produces in you patient endurance of the same sufferings we suffer. And our hope for you is firm, because we know that just as you share in our sufferings, so also you share in our comfort.”We are in this together. His purpose is for us but also beyond us to others.
So as I wrestle and my heartbreaks and I sense Him move – I realize He’s just writing my “so that” story. Building a bridge that will connect me to other believers. And whether I want it to or not, the good and bad in my life will affect you. Yours will affect mine. He is Lord of us all.
Next time you get discouraged about the future or not understanding what God is doing, remember Abraham walked it too, yet – he believed God and it was accredited to him for righteousness. It will be for us too. He who promised is faithful and He is working out a lot more in us than our current comfort or happiness. So learn well. Your “so that” bridge is going somewhere!
When I look back in a few years I know I won’t see the full picture or bridge (and won’t until eternity) but I do pray that I will have built my portion of that bridge in faithfulness to Him, in such a way that others may walk across it and learn from me as well. How about you? How are you building?
Labels: seeking God
Dreams. Visions. Goals - God driven ambition. Lofty ideas, concepts and philosophies that soar right into and from the gates of Heaven - slam into balance - painful. Hard. The day in and day out reality of character forming drudgery. Patience and waiting. Endurance. Growth. – The kite strings of the minute-by-minute details that allow for and are the working out of the dreams into realities.
Gender. Identity. Made equal and in the image of God. Masculinity. Femininity. Uniqueness. Distinctly different and beautiful. Created to need and be needed by the other – slams into - different roles and purposes. Boundaries. Thought processes. Communication styles. Physical differences. The perfect balance is found in the kite strings of the tension between the two genders. Embracing, honoring, upholding and loving the very limitations in each gender is one and the same with that which makes each of us able to be free. Accepting the limitations and the freedoms that come with each gender.
Spirit. Holy. Awesome. Comforter. Helper. Discernment. Wisdom. The forgotten and tangible part of the Trinitarian Godhead – slams into – fear. Human, sinful nature comes face to face with the Convictor. A power we can’t understand or control but need. The Holy Spirit is the balance between knowledge of God and knowing God. Between loving the gifts and the Giver of the gifts. He is the kite strings of balance and tension between standards and liberty, laws and freedom, truth and love.
Kite strings are a bit like perspective or perception. They guide us and steer us in the right direction. At first they appear to hinder or control, but really they are the very things that give us the power and ability to experience the fullness of life, of joy and peace. The irony of life – that in the tension is really the perfect balance.
-unedited and from the heart this week.
A close girlfriend once told me she thought I was addicted to pain. I laughed but since have realized it’s true. I’m addicted to pain, to growth. Why? Because that is where Christ is! Katie Davis sums it up well:
"I realize that the hard places are good because it is there that I gained more wisdom, & though with wisdom comes sorrow on the other side of sorrow is joy. And a funny thing happens when I realize this: I want to go to the hard place again. Again and again and again."Growth. Pain. Joy.
Do you shy from the hard places? From the pain that comes with growth? An other friend joked that he wished he could invent spiritual growth painkillers. Again I laughed, but then – should we take them? Wouldn’t we miss the growth that comes only through the pain?
I don’t like pain, but at the same time is missing out on the blessing of the intense fellowship with Christ that comes through the pain worth the temporary fix of the ‘pain killers’ we like to use?
Lewis writes on through the tough painful growth things in the Last Battle and says
“I almost wish–no I don’t, though,” said Jill. “What were you going to say?” “I was going to say I wished we’d never come. But I don’t, I don’t, I don’t. Even if we are killed, I’d rather be killed fighting for Narnia than grow old and stupid at home... and then die in the end just the same.”
Is growth worth the pain? Worth the risk? Do you, do I, like the way I am enough now to stay this way? To miss the adventure? I’ve come to realize it’s worth the pain to grow. Embrace pain for He is there in it – I’ve found Him– in a way that is more real than you can imagine. Grow.
5 Minute Friday Prompt. Word – Grow. 5 minutes of unedited writing simply for the joy of it! Come join the fun and link up your blog at The Gypsy Momma.
What if we embraced the unexpected instead of fearing it? Embraced a philosophy of no expectations? I’m not saying no standards to hold people too – God knows where our society is because of that, but no expectations on the Lord, and the ones we love and how we love? No one can meet all of our expectations and so we constantly battle a little disappointment and frustration even if it is subconscious. We want what we want, when we want it, and we want to control it. We want the Lord to move, but we want it our way.
How much more joy and gratitude would we have for the Lord and life if we just let the Lord work? Expect the unexpected with God. Expect Him to move, but not how He should move? Let go of the futile control and embrace adventure. We’re on this ride of life whether or not we want to be, so stop fighting and start enjoying!
Loving with no expectations is what Christ did and it’s there in that love that the unexpected happens. Instead we love people with preconceived biases of how they are going to act and we try to tell the Lord how to move in our lives.
Lets live a day with no expectations and see what freedom the unexpected brings!
5 Minute Friday Prompt. Word – Unexpected. 5 minutes of unedited writing simply for the joy of it! Come join the fun and link up your blog at The Gypsy Momma.
Thanks to Jolyn for teaching me about the unexpected. :)