The “Will” of God

In my bathroom there is a very special window. It’s not particularly beautiful. It’s actually quite ordinary. It’s not the window itself that makes it a treasure. It’s the precious gift God left me on that window.

I don’t know about you, but as a momma of four children, the bathroom is my place of refuge. It’s my getaway, my sanctuary, and my prayer closet. When my kids were younger it was the place I could steal away for a few sacred minutes to breathe and eat chocolate (no judging, every momma of littles should have a chocolate stash in the bathroom). As my kids got older, it became the one quiet room in the house. I spent many hours crying out to God in that bathroom. Wrestling with my sin and my weakness, begging God for wisdom, and asking God to remind my scattered, distracted heart that His love for me is real and constant and intimate and personal.

A few years ago after a particularly difficult day of parenting, I was spent. I wondered aloud, asking God if He could hear me and if He knew how much I needed Him. I was angry and frustrated with myself and wondered how God could love such a messed up sinner woman. I took a long shower and poured out my heart to my King. It was late and I was so weary. I ended up wrapped in my towel on my knees weeping before God. I made my way to grab some tissue and looked out the window to admire the stillness and quiet of the trees in our backyard and I noticed something odd. As the foggy steam from the shower began to clear I saw something on that window that left me in a big ol’ puddle of tears. The message on my window said simply, “I WILL LOVE YOU.” I recognized the writing as the handiwork of my youngest son—a pudgy finger squeakily writing a love note on my window pane. A love note that God knew would reach down and wreck my heart and be the perfect reminder of my Abba’s love.

I Will Window

While the note was just what I needed, it was the construction that started me pondering. I’m a lover of words and grammar is especially meaningful—a true word nerd. “I will love you” is an odd choice for an eight-year-old, but as I thought about it, I realized my personal, intimate God knew this particular phrasing wouldn’t go unnoticed.

I WILL is the future perfect progressive verb tense. This means it is an action that is ongoing. It is a promise. If you make an “I WILL” statement, you are stating not what might happen, but what is certain to happen. It is a statement with the promise of fulfillment. In this case, a promise not just for a specific time, but a promise that will continue. Now every time I look at that window I’m reminded that God’s love is not just something I experienced in the past, not just something I am experiencing in the present, but will continue to be given. Because God’s love is not based on my performance. It is based on the love of God in Christ. God WILL love me because of Jesus.

After my window encounter, I started thinking more about the many I WILL promises God left for us to discover in His Word. They are powerful reminders of who God was, who He is, and who HE WILL be for those who love Him. I began looking through and underlining all the I WILL’s I could find. Here are a few of my favorites:

“Just as I was with Moses, I WILL BE with you. I WILL NOT leave your nor forsake you.” Joshua 1:5

I WILL go before you and will make the crooked places straight.” Isaiah 45:2 (KJV)

“So you will be my people and I WILL be your God.” Jeremiah 30:22

“Come to me all who labor and are heavy laden and I WILL give you rest.” Matthew 11:28

“Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I WILL listen to you.” Jeremiah 29:12

He will tend his flock like a shepherd; He will gather the lambs in his arms; he will carry them in his bosom and gently lead those that are with young.” Isaiah 40:11 (a sweet promise for mommas of littles)

“Fear not for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I WILL strengthen you, I WILL help you, I WILL uphold you with my righteous right hand.” Isaiah 41:10

“And the Lord WILL guide you continually.” Isaiah 58:11

“I am the Lord, and I WILL bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians, and I WILL deliver you from slavery to them, and I WILL redeem you with an outstretched arm and with great acts of judgment. I WILL take you to be my people, and I WILL be your God, and you shall know that I am the Lord your God.” Exodus 6: 6-7

Take some time today and walk through the Word focused on God’s “wills.” Whatever you may be facing, He has provided a promise of His presence, His provision, His protection, His grace, His mercy.

As I thought more about the I will’s of God, I recognized something even more incredible. The most beautiful, most powerful thing about the I WILL’s of God is the reality that the promises have been fulfilled in Jesus Christ. The I WILL has become the I AM of Jesus.

“For no matter how many promises God has made, they are ‘YES’ in Christ!” 2 Corinthians 1:20

Today choose to rejoice in the promises and praise the Promise Keeper. He loved you yesterday. He loves you today. And He WILL love you forever.

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Jesus will love you forever!

 

Bent But Not Broken

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Have you ever seen trees after a hurricane has hit?

Many years ago we lived in Mobile, AL, when Hurricane Elena came through. Upon returning home after the storm had passed we found pine trees the diameter of man’s bicep were bent over at a 45 degree angle! Not uprooted, but bent. This sight was rather shocking for me, a novice to hurricanes. Shocking because they didn’t break – they bent!

You may remember a research project called Biosphere 2 where scientists built a contained small-scale environment to study ecological processes. bio2Within the oversized greenhouse, conditions mimicked those of earth. One unanticipated thing researchers found was that the lack of wind within the enclosure had a negative effect on trees. Trees in the biosphere couldn’t reach maturity because of the lack of wind! If trees didn’t have wind, they wouldn’t develop the inner strength of the wood to grow to maturity. While we think of hurricanes, tornadoes, and violent winds as destructive things, wind can also be very important in the life of a tree. There are several ways wind helps trees.

First, wind causes trees to grow “stress wood” or “flexure wood” that is of a different make up than what is grown under non-windy, non-stressful conditions. This stress wood developed in the smaller winds of life help the trees to withstand the force when a major storm comes through. This stress wood grows only in certain areas, it grows thicker, and it has different cell structure. The mechanical properties of this “reaction” wood is different because its purpose is to resist bending or failure in the wood in order to protect the tree from breakage. That flexure wood allows the tree’s branches to bend and sway in ever more violent winds as the tree grows and develops through each stressful wind situation. This “scarring” from stressful events protects the tree from losing branches or breaking in two.

Contrary to what I would have thought, trees growing in dense forests tend to be more susceptible to wind, wA004_C006_0824N5hereas a single tree growing in the open tends to be most apt to withstand winds. Most likely this is because the forest trees are sheltered from the force of  winds and therefore never have the bending in the everyday blowing winds that cause the growth of stress wood. Thus, these sheltered trees are not strengthened to withstand the  winds that will come when the trees around them fall or are removed.

Another benefit of wind on trees is seen in their roots. Root systems of trees tend to develop more mass on the opposite side of the tree from persistent prevailing winds. This makes the tree less apt to be blown down. I’m not a scientist here, but it makes sense that they would plant their foundation firmly to “lean into the wind.” They have to dig down deep to weather the storms they face.

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Just like those trees weathering the storm, we humans face winds of adversity in our lives. Wind strengthens a tree and helps it to mature and not fall down from its own weight. Adversity strengthens us too when we face it with the Father and allow Him to mature us through the storms we face. If there’s no wind the trees end up being much weaker and aren’t able to survive for long. Likewise, the strength of our faith grows with every squall we weather with the Father. Stress is what makes a tree strong enough to sustain the wear and tear that it will face later in life. And so it is with us. When we face stresses, we are prepared for what comes next. So what should be our response to the tempests of life?

When the winds come, allow them to develop your inner strength.

1) Let that wind of adversity cause you to cling to the Father like those roots of the tree clinging desperately to the rock below the ground. Let Abba God be your foundation. Wrap your roots tightly around Him no matter what comes. Then you can lean into the wind and weather the storm, possibly being bent, but never destroyed or uprooted.

2) Don’t run to other people in the stormy times, run to the Word of God for insight and answers. Be that lone tree in the field. Let those winds blow and strengthen you as you immerse yourself more and more in His words and His wisdom and His ways. Let the lessons and the love from scripture teach you, heal you, and prepare you to stand on your own rather than sheltering yourself within a forest of other trees that may not be there when the next storm comes.

3) Allow the force of that raging storm to cause you to bend and hit your knees in prayer. It may feel like you’re going to break, but we don’t trust our feelings. We trust the One who created us to bring us through unbroken and still standing however bent and humbled we may be. Prayer is key. Honest, open, humbled, broken, crying, singing, complaining, begging, asking “Why?” – we pray.

“Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house [or planted his tree] on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock.” Matthew 7:24-25

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Carried Away

by Dena Green

Galatians 5:16-17 But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do.

pexels-photo-51022The water was enticing as we walked along the edge of the rain-swelled river and my dog, Scout, wanted to dive right in. She is a Golden Retriever and it is the nature of her breed to want to get in the water and play. Every chance Scout gets, she runs to our neighbor’s pond and takes a harmless dip. This day was different; if I hadn’t kept a tight hold on her leash, she would have been carried away by the rushing waters. She had no sense of the danger of going too far into the water or being swept away, but I was there to protect her and pull her back to safety.

Isn’t that the way with us sometimes? Our “sin” nature draws us into situations and, if we are not careful, the desires of the flesh can swallow us up before we even realize it. We have entered dangerous waters.  One lingering look or conversation with the opposite sex that leads to a broken vow; a drink with friends that leaves an insatiable appetite for alcohol; holding onto anger that turns to bitterness and more anger; gossip; an unequally yoked relationship;  any compromise of God’s principles.  The list is different for each of us. Fill in your blank- __________. But whatever your “blank” says, remember, you are not left alone to flounder in it! A careful study of Galatians 5 gives great insight into the desires of the flesh vesus the desires of the spirit.

As believers, we must be mindful of the Holy Spirit’s promptings.  He lives in each of us if we are believers and lovingly reminds us and calls us back when we are entering pexels-photo-24871dangerous waters. He is an abiding presence.  Unlike Scout, who had a leash around her neck and could be physically pulled back to safety because I was holding on tight, we are given free will. His gentle promptings remind us.  We must keep our spiritual ears attuned to him through prayer and reading the word.  We must maintain our relationship with the Lord, walking and abiding in Christ so that we may discern the promptings and hear the voice of the Holy Spirit speak to our hearts.  We must OBEY his prompting in order to stay in the place of safety in our spiritual lives.

pexels-photo-374391Maybe you have jumped into the rough water and the currents of sin are carrying you further and further from the place you need to be in your relationship with the Lord. One compromise has led to another. REACH OUT! We have an anchor for our soul. A lifeline that is always waiting to rescue us and restore our relationship when we call out for help. Jesus, our blessed Savior and the Holy Spirit that dwells in us. Our companion and help; the very presence of God who is always with us waiting to draw us back into the safety of an unbroken relationship with our savior.

John 14:26 – But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.

Back to Basics: Scripture Memory

Teaching Children (Or Yourself!) to Memorize Scripture

by Joy Hutzler

Does the thought of memorizing scripture intimidate you, or worse, bore you? The Bible tells us over and over to memorize its words because they are living, powerful and necessary to effectively live out our faith.  If it’s so important to know God’s words and have them written on our hearts, why do we so often struggle to commit them to memory?  If I’m speaking personally, scripture memory is another discipline that I struggle with because it takes effort, time, and intentionality that I often just neglect.

red-bear-child-childhoodBut I’m a mom. And I have four children that I’ve been entrusted by God to raise up as arrows to send out to the battlefield.  I’d be a deadbeat in spiritual training if I didn’t equip them with the weapons they will need to be effective warriors for God’s kingdom. If they’re to fight off the kingdom of darkness and walk in the light, they will need the weapons of their warfare, which is the word of God.  So, since I can’t neglect teaching them the stories from the Bible or how to use and study the Bible, I also must train them to memorize it, so that the Spirit will be able to use it when they need it.

I have found that it’s actually not that difficult to memorize scripture. My children start learning to quote scripture once they start talking. It’s really not that hard…and I’m going to show you how to do it.  Afterward, I’m going to link to a few videos of some of the verses that my children have memorized.

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First, you need to decide what verses you’re going to memorize. A quick search on Pinterest for scripture memory for children will produce a number of links to sites that will give you lists and often printables that you can use to guide you in this process. One of my favorite lists is this ABC set. My 2 and 5-year-old learned all of these over about a 8-9 month period by just practicing one verse at a time several mornings a week at breakfast, and reviewing the old ones once or twice a week.  Mostly now that they are a little bit older, we just memorize whatever is part of their Bible curriculum (we homeschool.) But you can use verses from Sunday School or Awana programs or look on Pinterest and find a list. My youngest two (2 and 1) listen in and participate when I’m teaching new verses, and I have been amazed to see how much they pick up just by being in the room!

b2bbf98979e4eb9a5283366f44737314Second, you need to make time to practice the verse and review old ones. This could be at mealtime, in the car, or at bedtime.  Choose a time when it will be easy to remember to practice, and when you can get your hands on the printed verse (with your Bible, or a printable, or even pulled up on your phone). After you introduce a verse, practice it a few times. On the next day, practice your new verse a couple of times and pick an old verse or two or three and review them.  Literally, all of this will take 3-5 minutes at most.  You’d be surprised, though, what kind of conversations learning new scripture will start! Be alert to opportunities to teach spiritual truths and willing to take an extra couple of minutes to do so. This is the whole reason we are memorizing the Word!

Last, you’re going to need a catchy way to remember the verse. This might not come easy for everyone, so I will link below to some CD’s that are full of scripture already put to music and that might be a big help.  When I introduce a new verse, I simply look over the verse a couple of times on my own and notice when reading it if I can put it to a rhythm that will make it easy to remember. Sometimes I make up a little tune. Sometimes I have them say the verse in a silly voice or emphasize one part of the verse over another. Doing something out of the ordinary, rather than simply reading/quoting the verse, helps it stick to the brain more easily.

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So, there you have it! All you need is to figure out what verses you are going to memorize, find a time to practice, and put it to a catchy rhythm or tune. You’ll be so thrilled to see your children memorizing God’s Word, and the added bonus is that those words are settling into your heart and mind as well as theirs! It’s a win-win!

Here’s a link to my youtube channel, where I have a few videos posted of some verses we have learned. These may give you an idea of how I come up with a tune or rhythm to teach the verses.

Check out Seeds Family Worship, which is word for word scripture put to modern music.

BONUS: Scripture Lullabies are beautiful songs written from scripture, though they may not be word for word.  They are still great to have to listen to or playing in the background of your home or nursery. AND one out of ten of their CD’s is donated to a crisis pregnancy center to bless a new mom in a crisis pregnancy situation.

And finally, here is my 2 year old quoting Romans 8:28 last week.

 

He Is Risen Indeed!

3072b55082eae3f90ff3cd4ced1d615dMay you have a blessed Resurrection Day! Enjoy your loved ones. Spread God’s gospel of grace and hope. Focus on the great sacrifice Christ made because of His love for you and the redemption offered by Father God in giving His son for our sins.

Blessings! ~ The Priceless Team

Trade in the Pie Cutter for the Spatula

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by Morgan Ramsey

So at 22 years old, I’ve decided recently that I need to become an adult. In order to become an adult, in my unofficial checklist, you must learn how to cook, which is an area that I really struggle.

A couple of weeks ago my family got sick with the flu, and I suddenly switched from the lazy bum that lives on the couch to caretaker. I know what you’re thinking, my poor parents. You know how to pray for them. But hey, I don’t think it went so bad. They were pexels-photo-86999fed. Somehow. Anyways, one night I was trying to cook dinner for them, and I grabbed the first thing I could find in the fridge: ground beef, heaven’s manna. I knew how to cook that, so I grabbed a pan, and started cooking, until I realized that I was missing something integral, especially for a rookie like myself: I didn’t have a spatula. Where was it, you ask? At the bottom of the mountain of dishes that had been sitting there for so long that I am not going to disclose the amount of time because you would automatically put my parents on your church’s prayer list. Inspired after my favorite movie series of all time, I called it “Mount Mission Impossible of All Dishes.” I know, it took me longer to name it than to actually do the dishes. Judge me.

Anyways, I was out a spatula, so I found the closest thing that I could find to use when I cooked the meat: a pie-cutter. Also, who knew it was called a pie cutter. I just thought it was called a triangle spatula. By my lack of knowledge of common household items (you know where I’m going with this story), it was bad. I couldn’t flip the meat as efficiently as I could with a spatula. Let’s be real: I couldn’t flip it at all. I was so frustrated. I kept saying, “ARE YOU SERIOUS RIGHT NOW? WHY IS THIS SO DIFFICULT? LORD JESUS YOU ARE GOING TO HAVE TO COME DOWN AND GIVE ME YOUR HOLY PATIENCE RIGHT NOW BECAUSE I’M ABOUT TO LOSE IT WITH THIS STUPID TRIANGLE SPATULA. LORD WHY DID YOU GIVE SOMEONE THE IDEA FOR A TRIANGLE SPATULA? IT’S JUST A STUPID CONCEPT.” Several of you probably have holy prayer moments with the Lord, which I admire. You all just got a glimpse into my moments with the Lord. You now know how to pray for me. The struggle with the pie-cutter was more than frustrating: it was exhausting. But after my mom told me (aka laughed at me) that night that it is used to slice pies instead of flipping ground beef, I realized why it was so difficult: it wasn’t designed to flip meat on a stove.

pexels-photoA couple of weeks ago, our family had a very close family friend pass away. To say it knocked us down and took our breath away is an understatement. I can’t think of any eloquent or spiritual way to describe it except by saying that it was awful. My friend that I’d known since I was 8, gone on several vacations with, laughed with, and loved so deeply was gone suddenly and unexpectedly. It was a hard time. But even though it was a difficult time, I remember telling my mom, “I can’t imagine how people go through something like this without Jesus.” Tragedies may not make sense to us as believers, but with the Lord we know that all things – whether we can see it or not – are working together for our good and His glory. I may not understand, but I can trust Him. His presence is so thick that it’s tangible in those hard times. He gives us a peace that allows us not always to see the big picture, but a piece that shows us Him, in a way we’ve never experienced Him before.

He’s our secret weapon. I had someone ask me, “Morgan how can you smile during this?” And I answered, “Because I know the Lord. I know what He’s done for me. I know what He’s doing for me. And my friend? She isn’t in the ground. She’s with my best friend, my Savior, my peace, my King. And because of that I can smile, because I know that yes I will see her again, because one day I’ll see my King.”

So ladies my question to you is what in your life do you simply need to release to God? Where do you need to trade in the pie-cutter for the spatula? Jesus desires us to have life, and not just life, but life to the full, not life weighed down by burdens and sin! Abundant life is lived with Him every day for the rest of our lives and beyond. So what’s your pie-cutter? Is it fear? Give it to Him. You were not designed to live with fear. An addiction? Jesus is bigger than that. Give it to the one who created you and deeply loves you. Comparison? God has created your life uniquely. He’s given you a story, a platform, a life that only you can live.

SONY DSCI don’t know what it is for you, but I do know that He wants to give you a life free from sin and from the hold of the world. He wants you to trade in the pie-cutter for the spatula. With a spatula you can cook food, because that’s what it was designed to do. A pie cutter was designed to cut pies not cook food. You were designed for life with Him, not a life burdened with the worries of this world, that is not our home. Trade it in ladies, and then you can experience real, satisfying, eternal life; the life you were created for.

 

Christ Centered Easter Resources for Kids

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by Gina Mayfield

I don’t know about you – but I am always looking for resources to point our 2 1/2 year old to Jesus and show her the real meaning behind Easter. So, I began to scour the internet to see what I could find to help me in my parenting journey, here are a few things I have found…

Family Devotional:

Trail to the Tree: a devotional book for families written by Ann Voskamp

Activities and Crafts:

3e1b594a4fb40d7e20219bf48e1f201cResurrection Eggs: Each egg in this one dozen set includes a meaningful object that helps teach the story of Jesus’ death and resurrection. You can also create your own eggs instead of buying them in a package. Here are a few resources – Motherhood on a Dime for Preschoolers, From Tots to Teens, and Day to Day Joys.

Create a Holy Week Calendar

Easter Breakfast Resurrection Rolls – make these with your family on Easter morning

He died…for me – an easy, yet powerful reminder

The Jelly Bean Prayer – a prayer jar filled with jelly beans

Cross Crafts

Crown of Thorns Snack

Holy Week and Easter Activities for the Whole Family – this is a series from Focus on the Family

Books & Music:

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Jesus Storybook Bible

The Parable of the Lily

Benjamin’s Box: The Story of the Resurrection Eggs

Seeds of Easter by Seeds Family Worship

So, help a new mom out, what resources do you use to point your children to the real meaning of Easter? I’d love to hear them!

MRSA – It’s Tough to Fight

by Debbie Stovall

God tends to show me spiritual lessons in the strangest places! You too? Usually I’m like my friend Dena who says God teaches her spiritual lessons most often through nature and everyday life. Well a strange species of nature collided with my everyday life for a grand spiritual lesson just as school was starting back this past year.

As a mother of adult children, family time happens less and less frequently. So after a busy summer we finally managed to squeeze in a week away in a quaint little cabin on a serene lake far away from the rat race. My youngest son joined the family with several scrapes and bruises from working the ropes course and working out in the gym at the Christian camp where he had been employed for the summer. Boys!

2016-07-25 19.35.02-1Vacation was blissful. Swimming, kayaking, and cooking out in the daytime, and jigsaw puzzles and old movies every evening got it off to a great start. Then 2 days into our trip my son commented that his scraped leg was hurting. I checked it. It was a little pink and quite swollen. I went to the store and got some Neopsorin and waterproof Band-aids and told him we needed to watch it.

The next morning he hobbled around the kitchen as he cooked omelets for the family, all the while assuring us that he was fine. By lunch he could hardly walk, was having shooting pains, and the leg had 3 distinct pus pockets near the original scrape! Yikes! I knew. Staph. I’d never seen it before, but I just knew. After a scramble to find a local doctor who would take an out-of-towner, Dr. Mom’s diagnosis was confirmed, and we were getting prescriptions filled in no time. “Everything is gonna be ok,” I kept telling myself, not fully believing.

The infection didn’t get worse, but it didn’t improve either. At all.

After 2 full days of meds with no change, we headed home to his usual doctor. This doctor confirmed the previous diagnosis and changed him to a stronger medication. While waiting on the lab report to come back on the strain of staph he had, the sores began to ooze a thick yellow goo. My son slept and slept like Rip Van Winkle (his body was fighting a hard battle), so we woke him up precisely every 8 hours for medicine, but the leg got to looking nasty. (Don’t google staph infection pictures if you have a weak stomach! I’ve included a mild “after” pic below.)

2016-09-03 08.58.16Monday morning greeted us with a confirmation that it was MRSA – the strain of staph that is most resistant to medicines. I must admit this was quite a faith journey for me, but that’s for another blog. We continued our regimen of cleaning and bandaging and medicating and resting and taking photos twice a day to document the disease’s progression. Healing was happening, but it got to looking worse before it got better. Slowly the oozing, swelling, and redness diminished.

After 10 days of strong medication it finally looked like just a couple of scabs on regular pink-colored skin! Whew! Just in time for us to move the boy back in his college dorm. End of story, right?

Wrong. Four days later he called. The pinkness and swelling started up again! Back to the doctor. Another round of antibiotics. And that’s where we were at the time I first wrote this. “The rest of the story” was still happening. His Dr. jokingly said we wouldn’t get to call him “Peg Leg Pete,” but that’s all we knew at the time. God was in the driver’s seat, and I was just along for the ride. As it turns out, my son continued to get better and has been fine since, except for brownish scars where the infection sites were. The Dr. warned us that my son may have a propensity for the staph to recur in the future.

Now for the spiritual aspect of my long story. This morning God showed me clearly how that MRSA is a picture of sin.

Think about it. We go along working out, going on our vacations, running errands, going to work or school, raising our kids…. We think we’re doing fine. But underneath our skin those individual germs of sin are reproducing and growing. Maybe it’s jealousy or greed or bitterness over something from the past, or lying, unforgiveness or salacious thoughts. Maybe it is anger toward our spouse or a judgmental attitude toward a co-worker or our worship leader at church. But these are little things, right? We don’t even feel the need to confess them sometimes because “Hey, everybody else does that, too.”

But those germs of sin are growing.

172px-EscherichiaColi_NIAIDThat unforgiveness swells into hatred toward a person. Or our judgmental attitude toward a co-worker grows into vengeful actions because they irritate us. Or we take a pill just to relax because “it’s been a really bad day.” At this point it’s growing silently, unconfessed, just under the surface of life. We’re still doing ok, going through the routine of life. People might notice little quirks, but no one knows about our sin. Whatever it is.

Who knows what your sin is, I certainly know mine.

Then one morning it grows enough to get our attention. We feel that first twinge of pain sin causes. Our boss overhears us speaking harsh critical remarks – ouch! Someone catches us watching, reading, or listening to inappropriate things – ooh! Our lie is discovered – oh no! Or we get called in to the boss over issues with our accounts – we just hold our breath. Just as physical pain is good for us because it alerts us to the fact that something is wrong, these pains of conscience, pains in our spirit, are good. They alert us to the fact that sin is festering inside. If we are wise we will turn to The Great Physician in repentance at this point.

But if we don’t… this analogy continues. Before we know it, overnight it seems, these ignored twinges turn into pain that cripples us. We limp around with sin swelling within us and pockets of more infection springing up all around. Lying, cover-up, having to remember our stories, more lies, slip ups, more cover-ups… you know how it goes. Or that little flirtation with improper sexual thoughts grows into a stronghold of lady-porn, improper relationships, cheating, family pain, broken relationships with those we’ve loved. By the time we catch ourselves and are willing to repent, we have spiralled down and are spiritually sinful, rotten, oozing, scabby, crusty zombies.

Finally, from pain or consequences or conviction we reach our limit, repent, and go to the Great Physician.

But then nothing. I’ve repented. Why hasn’t God fixed my mess already? Why are people still upset with me? Why isn’t there a magic wand that makes everything right immediately?

Sin has consequences.

Relationships can be restored and situations set aright, but it takes time and seeking the Lord and set backs and immersing ourselves in the Word and prayer and being willing to admit our sin and seek forgiveness.

Just like the long process of healing from staph, healing from sin is a long process.

103px-Ebola_virus_emIf we had Ebola, staph or even strep we would be heading to the doctor for help! Girls, we have a really bad case of this sin disease. We have spiritual MRSA – Malicious Radical Sin Affliction! It’s tough to fight and impossible to cure here on this earth. We will always be plagued with it lying just under the surface waiting to flare up, to grow and spread its evil infection through our souls, if we aren’t constantly aware, repenting, vigilant. We desperately need help.

Is there hope? Yes, always! We can daily go to “the Doctor.” The prescription? Read His Word. Spend time listening to His heart. Pray. Get together with other believers to be mutually strengthened. Change our behaviors. Make wise choices. Let Him search our hearts and reveal our motives.

“Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” (Psalm 139:23-24)

Choose to act obediently on what He has shown us and repent every day, if not more often. And don’t forget to confess those “little” things we tend to excuse ourselves for doing.

Have mercy on me, O God,
  according to your unfailing love;
according to your great compassion
  blot out my transgressions.
Wash away all my iniquity
  and cleanse me from my sin. Psalm 51:1-2

Steve and Annie Chapman Video – “David’s Song”

Featured Image Photo Credit: Public domain photo from Wikipedia. Credit to Content Providers(s): CDC/ Matthew J. Arduino, DRPH Photo Credit: Janice Haney Carr – This media comes from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention‘s Public Health Image Library (PHIL), with identification number #11157

“How to” Witness and Resources (Back to Basics Series)

by Dena Green

Acts 1:8  “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”

You can live your life in front of others in such a way that they know you are a believer, whether it be a work, school or in your community interaction.  There is definitely a place to let our actions to speak louder than our words.  But I recently heard one of my favorite preachers say that “it is the power of the gospel that saves someone”.  We can equip ourselves with a few simple tools and the Word of God to share the gospel. The Holy Spirit and the Word of God will do the work.

The Billy Graham Evangelistic Association breaks down how to share the gospel into 4 simple steps.

  1. Tell them about God’s plan—peace and life. God loves you and wants you to experience the peace and life He offers. The Bible says, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16). He has a plan for you.
  2. Share our problem—separation from God. Being at peace with God is not automatic. By nature, we are all separated from Him. The Bible says, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). God is holy, but we are human and don’t measure up to His perfect standard. We are sinful, and “the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23).
  3. Talk about God’s remedy—the cross. God’s love bridges the gap of separation between you and Him. When Jesus Christ died on the cross and rose from the grave, He paid the penalty for your sins. The Bible says, “‘He Himself bore our sins’ in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; ‘by His wounds you have been healed’” (1 Peter 2:24).
  4. Our response—receive Christ. You cross the bridge into God’s family when you accept Christ’s free gift of salvation. The Bible says, “But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God” (John 1:12).

To receive Christ, a person needs to do 4 things:

  • Admit you’re a sinner.
  • Ask forgiveness and be willing to turn away from your sins.
  • Believe that Christ died for you on the cross.
  • Receive Christ into your heart and life.

Romans 10:13 says, “Whoever calls upon the name of the Lord will be saved.” Here’s a prayer you can pray to receive Christ:

pexels-photo-213316“Dear Lord Jesus, I know I am a sinner, and I ask for your forgiveness. I believe you died for my sins and rose from the dead. I trust and follow you as my Lord and Savior. Guide my life and help me to do your will. In your name, amen.”

There is more insight on witnessing available on the Billy Graham Evangelical Association website.

Our pastor recently shared the 3 Circles: LIFE CONVERSATION GUIDE app that is available on your smart phone and it would be a great tool to illustrate the gospel presentation above. Another phone app that is available is SHARE JESUS WITHOUT FEAR which give you steps to walk through when sharing the gospel.

Shake the fear that is holding you back.  To be successful at most things in life, we must equip ourselves and practice and then do.  It is no different with sharing the gospel.  Prepare yourself spiritually.  Get a plan.  Follow the Spirit’s leadership.  SHARE!  The truth of the Gospel is never wasted on anyone.  It is God who gives the increase.

1 Corinthians 3:5-9 What then is Apollos? What is Paul? Servants through whom you believed, as the Lord assigned to each.  I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth.  He who plants and he who waters are one, and each will receive his wages according to his labor.  For we are God’s fellow workers. You are God’s field, God’s building.

Romans 10:17  So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ. 

Mark 16:15 And he said to them, “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation

Other resourses on witnessing:

3 Ways to Share the Gospel

3 Easy Ways to Share the Gospel