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Family Tree Tangles

17 Feb

I get a kick out of all those ancestry sites on television lately—people finding out more about their extended family tree. It reminded me of some humor I saw last year:

I sent that “Ancestry” site some information on my family tree. They sent me back a packet of seeds and suggested I just start over!*

There’s a real truth in the midst of that humor!

newseeds_lolwithgod_diyseedpacketgraphic_adapted_almostmakesperfect-com

For many years, I tried to grow something beautiful out of my life with a lot of self-effort. I read oodles of self-help books and listened to self-improvement tapes.

There was a lot of insight in those resources, the problem was, it’s really hard to grow something beautiful from bad seed.

I was still, as the scriptures say, “in Adam,” and that made beautiful growth hopeless (1 Corinthians 15:22a; Romans 5:19a)

Adam brought sin into the world with his disobedience to the Lord’s command. His sin resulted in condemnation and spiritual death. Because of Adam, all humanity is born in sin. Adam was the “federal head” of the human race, and with his sin, all of humanity was separated from God, deserving only spiritual death. 

Like the self-righteous Pharisees (John 8:44), I could make some progress, but even then, it was often with wrong motives. Like the Pharisees, I was inwardly a rebel against the Lord—just like proud, self-focused Satan (Isaiah 14:13-14).

I had to face the fact that I was addicted to sin. I was in bondage to it.

I had to come to the point where I realized an important truth:

I didn’t need self-help. I needed God-help!

I needed the life and power to change that only comes in Jesus Christ.

“For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive” (1 Corinthians 15:22).

“For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so also by one Man’s obedience many will be made righteous” (Romans 5:19)

My desire for never-ending self-help ended for me on September 7, 1971, when I received the gift of life in Christ.

In Christ, I am a new creation. When I received His grace, I was made righteous. (2 Corinthians 5:17; Ephesians 2:4-6; John 1:12-13).

To be in Christ, means I was “with Him” in his death, burial and resurrection—the payment for my sin. Now I am a “joint heir” with Him, and I am placed into “the body of Christ”. I am forgiven, no longer separated from God, and free from bondage to sin. (Romans 6:3-5; 8:17; Ephesians 3:1-6; Colossians 1:14: Ephesians 2:12-13; John 8:36; Romans 8:2)

Although I still want to grow and change, I know I cannot make choices for eternity without the Lord. I know I am made “the righteousness of God in Him.” I am set apart and made holy for His use and complete in Him. (2 Corinthians 5:21; Colossians 2:9-10)

It’s a totally different perspective. The old seed was destroyed and the Lord planted “new seed” in my heart.

This new seed grows, strengthens, empowers, makes change possible, and encourages me to love, bless and serve others (Ephesians 1:16-21; 3:16; Romans 6:4, 14; Ephesians 5:8).

The Lord works in me “both to will and to do of his good pleasure” (Philippians 2:13).

I can cooperate with faith and obedience, but I know it is only God who cultivates His new seed within me.

Are you operating from bad seed? Are you still caught up in self-help? Is it time for some new seed?

 – Dawn

 * Cybersalt Digest, Issue 4027, 2/12/15, Oneliner #0984

Graphic adapted, used with permission: DIY Seed packet (http://almostmakesperfect.com/2015/05/12/diy-seed-packets-with-free-printable/)

 

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.

Oh, Those Questionable Choices!

15 Jan

I love the Prego® Spaghetti sauce ads. A recent one, “Questionable Choices: Hair Style” made me laugh as the woman in the commercial says, “I wonder what other questionable choices I’ve made” and then she recalls a few outlandish hairdos.

Ah yes,  I remember some of the over-the-top hair styles from the past! (I had so many good hair role models!)Poodle_CollegeHairdo_LOLwithGod

  • Remember “big hair”?
  • Remember the “beehive”?
  • Remember the “hair flip”?
  • Remember the “Farrah”?

My personal favorite was the “Split-level.” I wore a sad, curly version of that in college. It was a short, poofed-up bob in the front with long hair cascading over my shoulders. (No, I will not post a photo of me … but I looked a lot like this French Poodle to the right!)

Yes, I made lots of questionable hair choices.

And some questionable money choices.

And questionable food choices, like:

  • Taking a perfectly good bowl of simple Greek yogurt and “confusing” it with honey, chopped walnuts and 1/4 cup of mini chocolate chips!
  • And eating half a bag of potato chips. Not a mini bag … a big family-sized bag.
  • And eating half a carton of raspberry sherbet, because I wanted to clear out the freezer for a diet. (HUH?)

I discovered recently an important concept: I might have waited far too long to eat healthy. Now, with an itsy-bit of hope left, I’m beginning to eat green, lean and clean—trying to regain my health. The jury’s still out on whether I’ll be successful.

I am living out that convicting Dutch proverb, “We grow too soon old and too late smart.”

The decisions that bother me most are my past questionable spiritual choices.

Most of my ministry days I’ve promoted good, wise, godly choices. But that doesn’t mean I’ve always lived them. The sorry truth is:

We can uphold and promote truth to others while failing to live purely by truth ourselves, but sooner or later our fleshly hypocrisy will catch up with us.

I think it’s sad that:

  • I’ve promoted peace while living with anxiety;
  • I’ve promoted rest while working unreasonable hours;
  • I’ve promoted joy while struggling with depression; and
  • I’ve promoted love while protecting my own agenda.

Before you judge me too harshly, what have you promoted while … doing something else?

I understand I’ll never be perfect this side of heaven, but I know there are four things I can do to live a more authentic life.

1. I Can Keep It Real.

I can make an intentional effort to tell the truth about my own life. I can be honest, not telling people I’m living one way while living another.

God never lies, and He expects me to be truthful too. I’m not to deceive others about my spiritual state.

I can honestly say I am pure, holy, loving, wise, etc. . . . in Christ. But left to myself, I’m a mess. Authentic people do not excuse their sin; they confess it (1 John 1:8-9).

The process of personal sanctification (progressively becoming like Jesus) is the work of God in us that begins at the moment we trust in His Son.

But we don’t sit around like a lump on a pickle. All our doctrines can be right, but people need to see the changes – the practical side of Christianity.

Consider these words:

“People who equate orthodoxy with authenticity find it hard to even consider the possibility that, despite the correctness of all their doctrinal positions, they may have missed the deepest reality of the authentic Christian life. But we must never forget that true Christianity is more than teaching—it is a way of life.” ~ Ray C. Stedman

We will make progress in becoming more like Christ as we rest in and obey the promptings of the Holy Spirit and the wisdom of the Word of God, and as we become Jesus’ disciple (Romans 12:1-2; Ephesians 4:14-16; 2 Peter 3:17-18; Luke 9:23-24). Basically, the Lord must increase and we must decrease (John 3:30). “We are now children of God,” John said, “and what we will be has not yet appeared” (1 John 3:2).

I will be totally changed, but I have not “arrived” yet. Neither have you.

2. I Can Live a More Others-Focused Life.

My authenticity must, at its roots, include a desire to help others who are caught in the the miserable muck and mire of sin. It’s not only “there but for the grace of God go I,” but a more brokenhearted, “Let me share how the grace of God is rescuing me … and He can rescue you too!”

In my testimony of grace, I can explain how I am realizing the consequences of my questionable choices, and how choosing God’s ways is a far better way to live.

In the midst of this choosing, I must remember I can choose nothing apart from God’s Spirit working in my life. He says, “… apart from Me, you can do nothing” (John 15:4-6). (I have nothing but praise that He is always working in my life!)

3. I Can Seek and Embrace God’s Wisdom.

“The fear of God is the beginning of wisdom and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight” (Proverbs 9:10). I must seek God and “fear” (honor, revere, worship) Him. Again, I cannot hope to live the “Christian life” apart from having a proper relationship to God.

And neither can you.

God’s wisdom will keep us from foolish pride and all the questionable choices that come from fearing man—wanting to impress people more than living for the Lord and His Kingdom (Proverbs 29:25).

When we hide God’s Word in our hearts (memorization, meditation) we will have greater resources and “light” to make wise decisions (Psalm 119:105) and not sin (119:11). It’s an intentional choice!

Bible study will help us recognize godly wisdom as we “rightly divide” the word of truth (2 Timothy 2:15). Knowing and obeying God’s truth can bring us freedom (John 8:31-32). We are to take every thought “captive” to the obedience of Christ (2 Corinthians 10:3-5)—not entertaining foolish thinking—and control our thoughts and behaviors (Colossians 3:1-6; Philippians 4:8-9) because of who we are in Christ.

4. I Can Remember the End Game.

In the words of an old songwriter, “This world is not my home, I’m just a passin’ through.” It’s true! I’m headed for eternity with my Father God.

As a biblical Christian, knowing that this life is a journey to my heavenly home and that I will someday stand to account for my life (Romans 14:12; 2 Corinthians 5:10), I understand my future reality should dictate the choices of my present reality.

If we remember this is not all there is, we will be motivated to examine and consider our ways and turn to the Lord (Lamentations 3:402 Corinthians 13:5).

As we seek and rely on the Lord, He can enable us to make less questionable choices and more God-honoring ones!

Which of these four points would help you make better choices today?

Dawn

 

 

 

 

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