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How to Not Be Spiritually Clueless

7 Oct

A silly woman called “911” on her cell phone to report that her car was broken into. She was hysterical, explaining the situation to the dispatcher.

“They’ve stolen the stereo. They’ve stolen the steering wheel. They’ve even stolen the brake pedal and accelerator!” she yelled into the phone.

“Stay calm,” the dispatcher said. “An officer is on the way.” A few minutes later, the officer radioed in to the dispatcher.

“Disregard the call,” the officer said. “She got in the back seat by mistake.” *

Clueless, right?

Clueless people aren’t necessarily “airheads.” They just have no idea what’s going on.  They haven’t taken time to see the facts that are right in front of them.

The words “spiritually clueless” came to mind recently as I talked to a woman about faith and other spiritual concepts. I had to go back to the basics and explain terms that she should have learned at church. I wondered how this could be, with so many evangelical churches today. Were people just getting pretty stories and no “meat”?

I recently read an article from 1999  ~ and I would imagine that the situation is worse, today. Professor Gary Burge at Wheaton College tests incoming freshmen on their knowledge of the Bible and he says his findings are “alarming,” especially since most of the students at Wheaton come from strong evangelical churches.

For example, one third of students cannot put these in chronological order: Christ, Abraham, Pentecost, and the Old Testament prophets. Half cannot sequence these events: Isaac’s birth, Judah’s exile, Moses in Egypt, Saul’s death. One-third could not identify Matthew as an apostle. Eighty percent of students do not know where to find the Lord’s Prayer.

I recently had a time of Bible study with my middle granddaughter, Jenna. In the midst of our study on fear, we got sidetracked on the word “wisdom.”

“How do I get wise?” she asked. After talking about health wisdom, financial wisdom, relationship wisdom, etc., I told Jenna the most important kind of wisdom is Life Wisdom, because that will help us with all other needs for wisdom. When she asked me how to get this life wisdom, I took her to Proverbs 2:6 ~ “The Lord gives wisdom.”

If you want to be wise, I said, you need to ask God (see James 1:5), and then read the Bible, because that is where you will learn about what God thinks and what His plans are for your life and for the world. Jenna asked so many questions about the Bible that day … I pray she will always seek her wisdom from God.

Later that night, as I watched a television show, I heard a man talk about a woman who was “clueless.” I remembered my conversation with Jenna and thought, “Lord, help me cooperate with my grandchildren’s parents to build spiritual truth and values into all of these dear children so they won’t be spiritually clueless about You when they grow up.”

Wisdom is the opposite of being spiritually clueless. It comes from rubbing shoulders with those who speak and model wisdom and from spending time with God and His Word. Psalm 119:99 says, “I have more understanding and deeper insight than all my teachers, because Your testimonies are my meditation” (Psalm 119:99 Amplified).  “Understanding and deeper insight” … that sure doesn’t sound a person who is spiritually clueless.

Wisdom is what I want for my life, and the heritage I want to leave my grandchildren. [I wish I had read Carrie Ward’s book, Together: Growing Appetites for God, when my sons were young. It would have inspired me to read more of the Bible to my children. I recommend this book to moms who are serious about reaching their children’s hearts for Christ!]

How do you instill wisdom in your children and grandchildren?

* Adapted from “Missing Car Parts,” CybersaltDigest, 5-19-12

– Dawn

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Seven Things to Do When Temptation Comes

23 Sep

My pup Roscoe is a sneak and a thief. No matter the temptation, it proves to be too strong. We’re working on some discipline to HELP him make wiser choices, but in the meantime, he’s a real scamp.

I’ve had to take the toilet paper off the roller recently and place the paper up on the bathroom cabinet… or simply shut the door. The fluffy roll of TP is just too tempting. He grabs the end of the roll and races through the house and out the doggy door into the back yard.

One day, he grabbed a fresh roll and I found it all over the cement sidewalk on our side yard ~ including the cardboard roll. He had a totally self-satisfied look on his face.

But it’s not just toilet paper.

If I don’t place a washcloth on the towel bar when I’m done at the sink or in the tub, Roscoe snatches the washcloth and runs for the bed. He rolls over and over, “enjoying” his soggy prize until our bed is soaked!

BAD dog! Such a sneaky little thief.

He’s not getting away with anything, of course.  His master, “Mama,” always knows. He can’t hide the evidence for long.

I’m a little like Roscoe sometimes. I know good and well that my Master sees and knows what I do. Everything is open to His eyes.

The Bible says, “Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account” (Hebrews 4:13). It’s not just what He sees, but what He knows about us. He knows our heart (Acts 1:24). He knows our secrets (Psalm 44:21).

Because God is everywhere (Psalm 139:7-8; Proverbs 15:3), He knows when we fall into temptation and sin (Jeremiah 16:17). He can see even in the darkness (Psalm 139:11-12).

No, we’re not getting away with anything!

Yet, though God sees us, He is compassionate. He can search our hearts (Psalm 139:23-24), and He will call us to repent ~ to turn back to righteous living and godly choices (Acts 3:19) . He knows that we will eventually reap harm or destruction if we continue in sin (Galatians 6:7).

And when temptation comes, we can do those things that lead to victory.

1. “See” Your Temptations for What They Are!

Identify whether they are physical, mental, emotional, or spiritual (or a combination of these). Is it something that will contribute to poor health, financial ruin, or guilt? What is your motive? Is it a matter of compromise? Indulgence? Are you toying around with a relationship or a habit that could easily bring you down? Is it lust of the eyes, desires of lust, or something born in pride? (1 John 2:16) Is it something you keep rationalizing or excusing … but you sense or know it is wrong?

2. Stand on What God Says

Is there a clear scripture that reveals God’s will about your temptation? Have you studied the scriptures to determine what God has to say? Is the Spirit of God tugging at your heart whenever you give in? It might not be something that is overtly wrong or sinful, but perhaps God is saying it is wrong for you at this time (or all the time). Find and stand on the truth of the Word of God.

3. Sort Out Your Triggers

Is there a certain place or event that triggers your temptation? Are you bored? (Boredom has sometimes been called the devil’s workshop.) Are you indecisive about what God has called you to do… unmotivated and perhaps lazy? Are you not dealing with stress, frustration or depression ~ and so, in a weakened state? Dig down into your heart… what are your specific triggers?

4. Strategize ~ Make No Provision for Sinful Desires

Accept the fact that you’re going to face temptation, and work to manage your life so you can deal with them. You can overcome temptations before they grab your heart. Instead of enabling temptation, guard your heart (Proverbs 4:23) and allow Christ to transform your mind (Romans 12:1-2). Avoid circumstances or people that lead you into temptation, if at all possible. Choose your friends carefully (1 Corinthians 15:33). Don’t buy things you know you shouldn’t have. You might have to take some drastic actions (getting rid of a TV, computer, or other items, perhaps), but do what is necessary to live a clean life. Be sure to “… make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires …” (Romans 13:14).

5. Surrender to God Rather than Your Temptation

Read Romans 6. Practice yielding the members of your body to the Lord as a servant of righteous living. Seek and set your mind on the things of God, and learn how to live “in Christ” (Colossians 3:1-17).

6. Substitute Sinful Desires with Godly Ones

Replace wrong thinking (Romans 12:1-2), but also, substitute some new activities (or even healthy distractions) with old unhealthy or sinful habits. Take up a new hobby, get some exercise, join a class … and do it with your whole heart with the desire to please and honor God (Colossians 3:23; 1 Corinthians 10:31).

7. Seek Help (Counsel, an Accountability Partner)

If you struggle, get some practical “skin on” help (Proverbs 17:17; 1 Thessalonians 5:11). Seek out a minister, counselor, Christian teacher or support group that deals with your area of temptation. Be honest with a godly, mature-in-the-faith person about your struggle; and set up some accountability guidelines. Meet or talk on a regular basis.

So remember my sneaky Roscoe ~ always giving in to temptation ~ and recognize that you’re not getting away with anything. There’s going to be a pay day of some kind for unhealthy or sinful behavior, even if it is simply lost opportunities or the burden of a guilty conscience.

– Dawn

Make the Message Clear

15 Sep

I recently read an entire page of cake inscriptions gone wrong Here are some samples:

  • When my mother-in-law ordered a cake for my wedding anniversary, she made a point of instructing the bakery, “That’s Thompson with a ‘p’.” Later, when she went to pick up her order, she noticed that on the box they had written, “Mrs. Phompson.”
  • For my 40th birthday, my husband decided to surprise me with a birthday cake from our local bakery. “In the middle, please print ‘Happy Birthday Nita,'” he instructed them over the phone. “Then, ‘You’re not getting older’ at the top and ‘you’re getting better’ at the bottom.” When he went to pick it up, he discovered that they had decorated the cake with the words exactly as he had said them: “Happy Birthday Nita. You’re not getting older at the top, you’re getting better a the bottom.”
  • We had a “going away” party for a lady… One of the supervisors called a Wal-Mart and ordered a cake. He told them to write: “Best Wishes Suzanne” and underneath that write, “We will miss you.”  As the picture shows, it didn’t quite turn out right.

Apparently, even floral tributes are not safe.

  • My husband is a mortician. He found an odd card on some flowers sent in honor of the deceased. When the sender of the flowers called to place her order, the florist asked what she wanted written on the card. She said, “Write ‘Rest in Peace’ on both sides. And, if you can fit it in, ‘We’ll see you in eternity..” My husband read the card: “Rest in Peace on both sides. And if you can fit it in, we’ll see you in eternity.”

These cakes  and the flowers point out the risk of trusting others to deliver our heart-felt messages. They might get it wrong!

Remember as a child playing the game “Telephone,” a game where children sit in a circle and one child begins to relay a message that must go around the entire circle. The last child reveals the message ~ and sometimes, what the child is so off from the original message that everyone erupts in laughter.

When a message is important, we need to share it ourselves. We need to be sure people “get it.” Nowhere is this more important than when we share the biblical message of the Gospel.

A child explain the gospel to another young friend, in earshot of his mom. He talked with great passion about Jesus’ death and burial, but left out Jesus’ resurrection. “What about when Jesus rose from the grave?” his mom said. The boy turned around and whispered to his mom, “He’ll never believe that, Mom. I’m just going to tell him about heaven.”

That’s the problem with a lot of messages about the scripture. People (sometimes even pastors) leave parts out, believing the plain truth of the Word of God will be too difficult ~ too strange ~ for people to believe. We can’t help it if people misunderstand, but we need to be sure that the messages we share (especially about the Gospel) are not mis-stated! We can’t make people believe, but we must make the message clear.

The Apostle Paul explained the Gospel in 1 Corinthians 15:3-4. But he also asked the Colossian church to pray for him so his messages would be clear (Colossians 4:3-4). He had the facts straight, but he wanted the wisdom to communicate through the Holy Spirit to the hearts of men and women so they would understand.

That should be our prayer as well:  “Lord, help me make the message of the Gospel clear.”

Note: All of the cake and floral inscriptions appeared on “Cake Talk,” Snopes.com:  (1) http://www.readersdigest.ca, 1997; (2) http://www.readersdigest, ca, 1992; (3) Email to Snopes.com, Oct. 2007; (4) email to Snopes.com, 2007

– Dawn

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