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Wearing Clean Clothes?

2 Sep

While waiting for my husband to try on some clothes at Macy’s the other day, I remembered a joke someone told me:

A man sat in the “husband chairs” as his wife tried on clothes in a fancy store.

After almost an hour of watching his wife parade outfit after outfit for his “approval,” the poor man had definitely had it!

So the next time his wife came out of the changing room, he exclaimed, “Wow, Babe. That’s a knockout! Why don’t you buy that one?”

His wife frowned. “Oh, right,” she said, “This is what I was wearing when we CAME IN!”  

LOL … and hold that thought.

Maybe I’m a little strange, but I had a spiritual revelation when I heard that joke.

I heard this little voice ask me, “Are you wearing what you had on when you came in?”

Let me explain.

I thought about the day I came to Christ ~ that wonderful garment of holiness I received when I became a Christ-follower. I remember how clean and pure I felt when I first gave my life to Him.

But I get my spiritual “clothes” so soiled sometimes. Don’t you? That’s why the writer of Hebrews urges us to “Make every effort… to be holy” (Hebrews 12:14). It takes effort!  Yes, it’s true that when we confess our sins (1 John 1:9), we are clean through the blood of the Lamb ~ but the scriptures tell us some things to “put off” and other things to “put on” (Ephesians 4:22-24). When we do, our spiritual garments stay fresh and clean.

The apostle Paul uses the words “put off” to illustrate that we need to “divest” ourselves of some things … to strip them off just as we would some dirty clothes. We need to do this daily, because the corruption in the world tends to cling to us.

What kinds of things do we “put off”? We put off anything that belongs to the corrupted old self. Things that we repent over and leave behind. Various lusts within and influences without make our spiritual garments spotty and smelly!

I read recently that harmful bacteria can linger on clothes we think are clean. In the same way, we may think we are “clean” before the Lord … but it’s good to ask Him if there is “something else” lingering in our lives ~ a “hint” of the unclean (see Ephesians 5:3), or perhaps something we need to see from God’s  perspective.

After we “put off” the unclean things, there are things that we “put on”… things that relate to the new self. It’s not a matter of us trying to “launder” our soiled clothes, but rather to strip them off and allow the Lord to give us fresh, pure garments as He transforms us from within. We are a new creation in Christ … created for true righteousness and holiness. And God’s Word lists many ways that we can put on the pure character of Christ. 

This is not an exhaustive list* by any means, but simply some suggestions for consideration:

Can you imagine how exciting and effective your life would be if you Put Off and Put On all of those things? Wow!

The important thing is that we realize we have the opportunity every day to wear clean spiritual garments, just as when we first came to Christ.

His grace, mercy and forgiveness are powerful, and our Father God is working to transform us every day into the image of Christ. And ONE DAY, we will receive a spotless garment ~ “fine linen, white and clean” (Revelation 19:14) for all eternity! Praise God!

* There are many such lists on the internet… here is one.

– Dawn

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Embracing ‘Gain’ and “Got”

22 Jan

Good humor can help to put us in a cheerful mood ~ especially when there is an unexpected punchline. Ponder these humorous sayings:

  • He who laughs last … thinks slowest.
  • When everything’s coming your way … you’re in the wrong lane and going the wrong way!
  • For every action, there is an equal and opposite … criticism.
  • Love is blind … but marriage is a real eye-opener.
  • A day without sunshine is like … night.
  • Save the whales … collect the whole set.
  • Half the people you know … are below average.
  • If at first you don’t succeed … destroy all evidence that you tried.

Speaking of unexpected, the new Special K cereal dieting commercial grabbed my attention, because it is so contrary to the norm. The ad shows women stepping on scales to begin a dieting challenge, only to be met with motivating words, not incriminating numbers.

“What if we stopped focusing on what we want to lose and started focusing on what we want to gain?” the commercial asks.

I’m not going to debate whether the Special K challenge is a good idea or not ~ whether the diet plan is good nutrition and with sufficient calories ~ but I have to admit that their catchy question made me evaluate my attitudes.

So much of my life I focused on the negative … trying not to be bad, trying not to fail, trying not to disappoint, etc. A few years ago, I turned that all around by making some proactive, intentional choices to embrace what is good, life-building, and healthy. That’s what the Lord intended for us, I think. A positive, biblical focus.

Don’t get me wrong.

There certainly must be times to examine our hearts for sin (Lamentations 3:40) and to confess sin (1 John 1:9), and there is the continual “putting off” of  some sinful attitudes and behaviors as we “put on” the opposite righteous attitudes and behaviors (Ephesians4:22-24).

But does our Father in heaven want us to get bogged down in incriminating thoughts, focusing on how bad we are ~ and the truth is, there is no good thing within us without Christ (Romans 7:18; Galatians 5:17) ~ or does He want us to rise up in victory and embrace who we are in Christ and our eternal gain in Him?

A few years ago, when I began to concentrate on God’s grace and goodness in redeeming me, I was far more motivated to live for Him in humble gratitude than when I was forever digging about in my heart for some hidden sin.

I decided to ask my loving Father to reveal my heart in His own time and way (Proverbs 16:2; Psalm 26:2-3). He has been faithful to do that. Sometimes there are periodic times of heart-searching in a “revival week” experience, but I’ve found that when I stay in the Word and open to God ~ asking the Holy Spirit to teach me ~ God uses the Word of God and the everyday experiences of life to rub off the rough, sinful, foolish edges of my life.

The truth is, the Special K ad actually stops short.

Rather than even focusing on what I want to gain, how much better to consider what I’ve already got ~ how blessed I already am ~ because of my relationship with God in Christ.

Rather than focusing on my fear, I focus on courage and the strength He gives. Rather than focusing on my tendency to stress out and worry, I focus on the Sovereign God who is always in control. Rather than focus on what I believe I don’t have (which leads to a spirit of discontent), I focus on the abundant life God has promised to me.

How about you? Are you focusing on what you want to gain in life… or better yet, what you’ve already got?

Something Fishy’s Going On

15 Aug

In the early 1980s, the Doc Fingers Band came up with an unusual way to keep their spirits up. They Angelfish and musical notesconcocted some “fishy” puns. Later, pun creations cropped again when the band joined Rex Allen’s All-Star Swing Express on a long bus tour of Germany in 1993.

Here are some of the many puns ~ fish and sea creatures combined with song titles ~ that they (and some of their friends) shared on a funny webpage: *

  • Clam Every Mountain
  • It Haddock Be You
  • When You Wish Upon a Starfish
  • Shark! The Herald Angelfish Sing
  • Fiddler Crab on the Roof
  • You Walrus Hurt the One You Love
  • Sole Train
  • Heart and Sole
  • A-Tuna Mattata
  • My Foolish Carp
  • Roe, Roe, Roe Your Boat
  • I Cod Have Danced All Night
  • Boogie Woogie Bluegill Boy
  • Pompano and Circumstance
  • In Your Oyster Bonnet (with All the Gills upon It)
  • Red Snails in the Sunset
  • Mahi’s  Makin’ Eyes at Me
  • Gill of My Dreams
  • Somewhere Over the Rainbow Trout
  • Coi Me a River
  • Let Me Call You Sweet Carp
  • What’s It All About, Algae?
  • Salmon Chanting Evening

And my (Dawn’s) personal favorite:

  • Whistle a Happy Tuna

Well, that was a whale of fun, wasn’t it?

What sparked my interest in fish recently was a decal I saw on a car window in front of me. I’m sure Red Fish Decalyou’ve seen similar ones. The decal had an Ichthys symbol (like the “Jesus Fish” Christians once used as a secret symbol). This one included a little cross.

The only problem was, the driver of the car drove like a crazy person, weaving in and out of traffic. Another car almost hit the driver when she darted across lanes toward an exit. I held my breath and shot up a prayer.

But then (I guess my prayer wasn’t long enough), a sarcastic thought came and I yelled out, alone, in my car:  “Oh great. What a wonderful testimony THAT was, you stupid woman.  GET OFF THE ROAD!”

I wished that the little fishy decal would come unglued and fall off.

But as I drove the rest of the way home, I thought about my own “testimony” (spurred on, I’m sure, by my not-so-nice yelling).

Have you ever had the “accuser of the brethren” (Revelation 12:10) whisper in your ear, “HA! You’re doing that? And you call yourself a Christian?”

So I asked God, “Is this really something that would cause people to question whether I know or love You or Your Word, Lord?”

We are all accountable to God, but sometimes we believers forget that people are watching, and they form an opinion of God sometimes based on what they see in us ~ our testimony (Matthew 7:16; Luke 6:43; Matthew 5:16). God is faithful to show us our sin, if we ask. Had people heard my angry outburst, it would indeed cause them to wonder about me; but I knew my heart wasn’t right. And God was faithful to forgive me as I confessed my judgmental spirit (1 John 1:9).

How about you? Is there anything in your life ~ even something that you might think is of little consequence ~ that might cause others to think there’s “something fishy” about your testimony?

Why not stop for a moment now and make that right? Then you can ~ pardon my pun ~ “Whistle a Happy Tuna” today!

* http://www.jimrothermel.com/FishJokes.htm

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