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Travel Light

3 Jun

When we travel, we often use baggage tags. I love many of the bag tags at Zazzle*:

  • “Have Bag Will Travel.”LuggageTag_Pixabay_LOLWithGod
  • “Are We There Yet?”
  • “Clearly Not Yours!”
  • “No! No! No! Yours Is the Other Black Bag.”
    “They All Look the Same, Don’t They?”
  • “Can You Spot Me Now?”
  • “Get Your Hands Off My Bag!”
  • “Writer (All of the Valuable Stuff Is in My Head).”
  • “Going Somewhere?” (Has an angry cat sitting in a suitcase.)
  • “Oh? Were You Gone? I Didn’t Notice.” (Another with a cat … an indifferent cat.)
  • “Keep Calm. We’ve Run Out of Chicken, Not Fuel.”

I saw a fun tag at the airport once: “Zombie in my other suitcase.” LOL.

Aren’t airports fun?

With the summer traveling season upon us, I’ve taken time to reflect about “baggage.

Another word for baggage is “luggage,” because we have to lug it around! (And about the only thing good about that is, it’s a good workout!)

Some time ago, I observed people at an airport. Some carried simple bags and moved about the airport with ease. Others struggled, burdened down by too many suitcases, bags and backpacks they had to carry.

One woman was so stressed—trying to get all her “stuff” to the gate—she became physically ill.

As I drove home, I had the thought, “I don’t ever want to struggle with baggage like that.”

And then a second thought, “I don’t ever want to struggle through LIFE with too much baggage either. I want to travel light!

The truth is, we all tend to carry some kind of bulky, uncomfortable “baggage.”

  • Difficult memories.
  • Emotional traumas.
  • Crippling effects of lies we’ve believed.
  • Guilt over wrong choices.
  • Consequences of sinful habits.
  • Negative experiences that still bring us pain.
  • Fears that wrap around our hearts, paralyzing our progress.

But we don’t have to be weighed down by these things.

Hebrews 12:1 tells us to “lay aside every weight, and the sin which clings so closely” so we can “run with endurance” the race of life God has chosen for us.

One of my goals for finishing life well is to “Embrace Freedom.” (The other two are “Take Courage” and “Build Strength.”)

For the Christ-follower, embracing freedom isn’t about license to sin, pushing against God-honoring boundaries or throwing off all restraint.

It’s about enjoying the freedom we have in Christ.

True freedom, the ultimate freedom we seek, is always found in Jesus (John 8:36; Romans 8:2; 2 Corinthians 3:17).

Believe it: Jesus has set us free! 

  1. We are free from the guilt of sin (Acts 10:43; Romans 6:6-7; 1 Corinthians 10:13b).
  2. We are free from fear (Psalm 56:4; Romans 8:15; 2 Timothy 1:7).
  3. We are free from enslavement to lies (John 8:32).
  4. We are free to love, serve and encourage others, and live in ways that honor the Lord (1 Peter 2:16-17).

Our freedom was purchased by the One who loved us and died for us—a priceless gift.

We need to stand firm in our freedom in Christ and not yield to the burdensome bondage of our old baggage! (Galatians 5:1)

Take a moment to examine your “baggage.”

  • What weighs you down?
  • What habit hinders or restricts your freedom?
  • What “stuff” clutters your life?
  • What prevents you from moving forward into freedom, fullness and fruitfulness?

Remember:  In Christ, there is forgiveness for your past … freedom in your present … and the gift of faith for your future!

Will you hand over your heavy baggage to the Lord and exchange it for His light freedom?

 – Dawn

* Zazzle Baggage Tags – note, I do not personally endorse all of the tags.

Graphic of bag tag courtesy of tongon3330 at Pixabay.com.

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Tempted? Here Are 15 ‘Inoculations’

2 May

I am a courageous woman … except when it’s time to get a shot at my doctor’s office. I’m like a little kid!

So, as I read about some of the things people do to help make “getting shots” less scary for children, I wondered if these ideas might work for me!Inoculations_HelpfulChoices

  • Practice giving shots to a doll.
  • Ask the doctor to use a numbing cream on the injection site first.
  • Distract! Take a sweet treat to focus on while getting your shot, or put a song on your iPod, or play “I Spy” during the process. Anything to keep from looking at the shot!
  • Remember “owies” survived in the past.
  • Ask for a kid-friendly nurse.
  • Help your child feel more in control. Put her in charge of something (like what Band-aid to apply).

Hmmm…. I could practice jabbing my hubby, take a sedative before going to the doctor … and a cookie … and some music. I could remember past visits, and how I survived the high blood pressure episodes before the shots. I could look for a really smiley nurse. And I could even bring my own Superwoman Band-aid, right? LOL!

I’m basically a needle wimp. Before I married my husband, I went to his aunt’s office for my blood test. When she approached me  with the needle for the test, I passed out! “Oh, she’s a real winner,” his auntie said.

I’m not the only one in the family with “shot jitters.” I took my dog to the vet in April for his annual inoculations. Roscoe has a love-hate relationship with his vet. He loves Moses, our friendly vet; he hates the nasty needles. Poor dear … he just about “trembled himself” off the examination table! I comforted him with hugs and a bit of bacon when we got home. (Hmmm… bacon … I could take that with me to the doctor’s office too!)

Now, I know inoculations—for people as well as animals—are necessary to produce immunity against diseases. They are good for us. Helpful.

So I was thinking today …

I wish I had a one-time inoculation against temptation. Unfortunately, that’s not how it works.

Temptations are so daily. Yes, I have been freed from the penalty of sin, and someday I’ll enjoy freedom from the presence of sin. But in the meantime, during the sanctification process, I have to deal with the temptation to sin. But I do believe there are some proactive, intentional things I can do to reject sin and become more like Christ.

Might we consider them something like “INOCULATIONS” to help in the daily battle against temptation?

So here are my 15 inoculation suggestions:

1. Recognize Your Tendency to SinJames 1:14 explains how we are led astray by our natural desires. So don’t be surprised. Instead, get prepared!

2. Identify the Roots – We spend lots of time examining the “shoots” of sin, but seldom the “roots.” The enemy delights in using the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes and the pride of life  (1 John 2:15-16) to entice us to sin daily. These are the basic roots of all sins. So, what temptation do you really need to resist? Get to the core cause.

3. Figure out the Triggers – A trigger on a gun enables its firing. The power behind a trigger is the thoughts and emotions that arise—usually from a past experience. Triggers that pull us toward a sinful response can be almost anything:  fatigue, an intense desire, something visual that draws us, a sound or smell … almost anything! Because we are made in God’s image, we can respond to triggers in godly ways; but knowing our triggers can help us prepare to deal with them. Don’t try to figure them out alone; listen for God’s voice (Proverbs 3:5-6; James 1:5).

4. Expose any Lies You Believe – Many, if not all “triggers” have a false belief connected to them. For example, if you were once betrayed by a friend, Satan—the Father of Lies who desires to devour you (John 8:44; 1 Peter 5:8)—would like you to believe you will always be betrayed by friends, and you might react in sinful ways to perfectly normal statements or circumstances. We give “power” to the trigger through the lies we believe.

5. Embrace the Truth from God’s Word – Attack the lies by bringing the light of God’s truth into your situation (Psalm 119:130; 2 Timothy 3:16-17). Counsel your heart according to His Word. Discover the commands, values, morals and ethics in God’s Word, and determine to live according to His truth. The Word and Spirit can help us discern lies in our hearts and then “take captive” every thought to make it obedient to Christ (Hebrews 4:12-13; John 16:13; 2 Corinthians 10:5).

6. Think through the Consequences – “Sin” has wages that are deadly (Romans 6:23). “Sowing to the flesh” reaps “corruption”—a crop of worthless weeds (Galatians 6:7-8), and sin separates us from fellowship with God (Isaiah 59:2), because He cannot tolerate our sin (Habakkuk 1:13a). Our sin will eventually be exposed (Hebrews 4:13). Sadly, when we tolerate sin, we can become blind to spiritual truth (1 Corinthians 2:14) and develop an insatiable desire (lust) for more sin! (Ephesians 4:18-19).

7. Ask God for Help – Don’t think you can stand against temptation by yourself. Eventually, if not right away, it will catch up with you. Pray for discernment, strength, courage, etc., and especially, sanctification (Matt. 6:13; 26:41; Luke 22:40). Learn to depend on God in prayer.

8. Resist Temptation* with Scripture – Don’t just know the truth that counters lies; use the Word of God to help you choose a new response to your triggers. You can even conquer hurtful memories from the past that entice you toward sinful responses as you renew your mind with scripture (Romans 12:1-2). Jesus used the scriptures skillfully as He battled temptation, and so can you (Matthew 4:1-11; Hebrews 4:12, 2 Cor. 10:4-5).

9. Check Your Armor – Study the parts of the Armor of God in Ephesians 6:10-18, and learn how to use it. Put on each piece—the offensive and defensive weapons! Why? “That you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil” (v. 11). There are spiritual forces of evil that are determined to bring you down. You need the armor so you can “stand firm” (v. 13). It’s always too soon to stop fighting the battle.

10. Plan for Victories, Not Defeats –  “Make no provision for the flesh” (Romans 13:14). In other words, don’t enable temptation. Don’t plan for defeat. Get rid of those things that lead you into sin, or put safeguards in place to help you conquer in holiness. How? The first part of Romans 13:14 says, “…put on the Lord Jesus Christ.” Freedom and victory are entirely possible in Christ (Galatians 5:1; Romans 6:4; 8:31, 37; Philippians 4:13; Ephesians 2:10).

11. Look for the Way Out – We’re told to avoid every kind of evil (1 Thessalonians 5:22), but sometimes we’re thrown into situations that tempt us to compromise our purity. God’s advice then is to look for a “way of escape”—perhaps by running away, changing the conversation or using truth to diffuse lies (I Corinthians 6:1810:13-14; 1 Timothy 6:11; 2 Timothy 2:22).

12. Replace “Sin Opportunities” – David was tempted to sin (and he fell) with Bathsheba when he stopped ruling in righteousness and allowed himself to be give in to the opportunity for lustful sin (2 Samuel 11:1-4). We fight against temptation by replacing “sinful opportunities” with more worthy distractions or pursuits. Consider some positive activities. Have ready some “quick distractions” (scripture memory cards, a photo of your spouse, a hymn book, etc.) that would help “counter” your triggers. Note: you may need to embrace change in your current surroundings.

13. Seek Help to Win – Remembering we will all give account to God (Romans 14:12; Hebrews 4:13), an “accountability partner” can help us stay on track and encourage us to do right when we are tempted (Galatians 6:1-5; James 5:16; 1 Thessalonians 5:11; Proverbs 27:17). Seek the guidance and counsel of the Holy Spirit—He guides, counsels and helps us in our weakness (1 Corinthians 2:13; John 14:26; 16:13; Romans 8:26); but  when patterns of addiction are present, a godly, biblical counselor can also help.

14. Repent When You Fail – It’s not a matter of “forgiving yourself” for failings; it’s a matter of repenting of sin and receiving the forgiveness of God (1 John 1:9; Colossians 1:14). Any shame you feel is not from Him—it’s a lie from Satan. The biblical pattern is: recognize, repent, receive (forgiveness) and then recommit to walk in obedience to the Word of God.

15. Thank God for Every Victory – Our ultimate victory is bound up in Christ (1 Corinthians 15:57; 2 Corinthians 2:14), and our daily victories are possible in Him (Philippians 4:13; Romans 6:14; 8:37).

Did you notice that all of these “inoculations” are a CHOICE?

See all those action words? You do not have to be a victim. You can choose, in every situation, a powerful way to deal with temptations as they come.

Are any of these “inoculations” missing in your life? What can you do to better prepare for your times of temptation?

– Dawn

* NOTE: In some circumstances, we are not dealing with a temptation. God does not lead us into temptation (James 1:13), but He may be testing us to refine us (Psalm 26:2; Job 23:10; Jeremiah 9:7a). John Piper offered a short post on the difference between temptation and testing. Regardless of whether we’re facing a temptation or test, these “inoculations” are useful in helping us make choices between obedience and disobedience.

 

Only in America

1 Jul

I read some funny “Only in America” quotes on a political joke archive:

  • Only in America. This country is so accommodating. There are handicapped parking places everywhere, even in front of a skating rink.
  • Only in America… do people order double cheeseburgers, large fries, and a diet Coke.
  • Only in America… do we buy ourselves answering machines to screen calls, and then have ‘call waiting’ so we won’t miss a call from someone we didn’t want to converse with in the first place.
  • Only in America… do we have drive-up ATM machines with Braille lettering.
  • Only in America… do banks leave both doors to the vault open, and then chain the pens to the counters.
  • Only in America… do we buy hot dogs in packages of ten, and buns in packages of eight.

Only in America … but I’d rather be in America than any country on earth.

Travel anywhere in the world … see the beautiful sites and interesting cultures … and you’ll still get a lump in your throat as you return home.

Home

“This world is not my home, I’m just a passin’ through,” says the old Gospel song. Yes, heaven is my true home (John 14:2; 1 Corinthians 2:7-9; Philippians 1:21-23; 3:20-21), but as long as I’m alive on this earth, America will always be special. I love to sing “God bless America, my home sweet home….”

Only in America …

As I’ve been thinking about that phrase all week, my mind focused on “The Four Freedoms.”

An engraving on a wall at the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial in Washington, DC, bears the four freedoms we celebrate in our country.*

President Roosevelt articulated these goals in 1941 in his January 6 State of the Union Address, proposing four fundamental freedoms that he thought people “everywhere in the world” ought to enjoy. By stating these freedoms, he went beyond the US Constitution’s values ~ the first two freedoms protected by the First Amendment ~ to include values he felt were important to human security.

Roosevelt envisioned a world where freedom of speech and expression, freedom of worship, freedom from want (economic understandings and security), and freedom from fear (which in his mind translated into worldwide reduction of armaments).  “That kind of world is the very antithesis of the so-called new order of tyranny which the dictators seek to create with the crash of a bomb,” Franklin said.

Roosevelt’s speech was later represented by artist Norman Rockwell in his series ofFour Freedoms paintings, published in The Saturday Evening Post in 1943.

I thought about these four freedoms and how they relate to scriptural truth.I believe that it is the Truth of God’s Word that brings the freedom our hearts crave.

First, let me say that there are no guarantees of any of these freedoms in this sin-corrupted world. Humans sometimes have the nasty habit of being nasty to each other and robbing each other of the dignity and beauty God created us to bear as well as the good gifts He provides.

Roosevelt expressed some guiding principles for peace as the world seemed to crumble in the 1940s. But long before this, God gave us His Word to show us how we could realize the deepest desires of our hearts ~ including the desire for freedom. True freedom is never freedom from God; it is freedom found in God.

Freedom of Speech and Expression ~ God created us with the ability to speak and express ourselves. He didn’t want silent puppets. He wanted people who can talk to Him (our part in prayer). He wanted us to express our hearts and thoughts to Him, and God wants to interact with us. He wants us to listen, too. Imagine the freedom of sweet communication with Him and with others in the family of God.

Freedom of Worship ~ God created us to worship Him. Yes, we were designed for worship. We will all worship something or someone. God is the only one, however, who deserves our worship and praise. Imagine the freedom of perfect worship before the Creator who loves you and delights in you.

Freedom from Want ~ God created mankind to enjoy Him in the Garden of Eden, and He provided all that the first man and woman needed (food, a perfect environment,  companionship, meaningful work, etc.), and God is still our Ultimate Provider Imagine the freedom of walking with God, knowing all your needs are met. 

Freedom from Fear ~ God did not create us to fear. The scriptures tell us that perfect love casts out fear, and God created us to know His perfect love. He sent His Son to show us how much He loves us. He asks us to cast all our anxieties on Him ~ all our worries and fears, because He cares about us. Imagine the freedom of childlike trust and complete freedom from all fear.

We do not have to simply imagine these things, Friends. We were created to experience and enjoy these great freedoms. Sin, Satan and selfishness rob us of those blessings, but when we return to our Father God, He redeems our lives and restores these freedoms and many more.

It is the truth that sets us free; and we come to the Father through Jesus, who embodies “the truth.”

True freedom is in Christ, and we are not to live in bondage to sin. “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free.” (Galatians 5:1)

Yes, we celebrate America’s Independence and all our freedoms on July 4th; but the truth is … it is not “only in America” that we experience these great freedoms. We enjoy the best blessings of freedom when our citizenship is in heaven, our true home.

 

* Photo, licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.5 Generic; Wikimedia Commons: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:FDR_Memorial_wall.jpg; original photographer unknown.

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