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Better Than ‘All or Nothing’

14 Jul

I continue to struggle with my “soft food addiction,” especially hoarding chocolate candy, cookies and other sweet things. (It’s not that I can’t ever have something sweet, but it is a dangerous area for me.)

But one Wednesday during an appointment, I told Kim, my nutritionist, “I finally got rid of all the junk food in my house.”

Kim looked surprised and pleased. “I’m so proud of you,” she said. “Was it hard?”

“No, not really,” I said. “I ATE it all!”

I’m sort of an all-or-nothing person.  Some days I’m “all in” and thriving physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. Other days, not so much.

I’ve discovered one sinful habit or attitude in one area cascades into other areas, and soon I’m walking far off the righteous path the Lord has designed for me. The path of life.

It was just a little sin, I rationalize. But it still was sin if the Lord told me “no.” And all sin is continuing evidence of how much I need Him.

I love the American Dream, but for a long time I carried over the concept of independence into my walk with God.

I thought, “The more I’m independent—the less I have to call upon the Lord for help—this will be evidence of spiritual maturity.”

That couldn’t have been more foolish.

The true sign of spiritual maturity is

greater understanding of our need

and growing dependence on the Lord.

So I’m learning to step back and evaluate why I ran ahead of God … why I made a decision without consulting Him … why I lagged behind in disobedience … why I mindlessly walked through life.

It’s usually about some form of pride, selfishness, willfulness or outright rebellion. But sometimes it’s just forgetfulness. I forget how needy I truly am. 

In “performance mode,” I bounce back and forth between legalism and giving up.

In those times, I ultimately am most desperate.

But I’m learning to walk under God’s protective grace:

Observing, confessing and correcting. Not beating myself up. Moving forward in grace and trusting Him.

There is no condemnation in Christ, but there are constant opportunities to learn to depend on Him.

For everything.

Just as my silly conversation with Kim indicated, I have often made foolish choices.

But I’m learning to keep in step with the Spirit. 

How? It’s a process:

  1. Acknowledge – I admit your errors and mistakes; confess my sins. (Again, this is not a matter of beating myself up!)
  2. Accept – I receive the forgiveness I have in Christ.
  3. Allow – I let God’s grace flood over me, encouraging me; I remember what Christ has done for me!
  4. Adjust – I correct my thoughts, attitudes and behavior. It’s a matter of becoming obedient to God’s Word and will, and walking in the Spirit afresh. It’s a walk in freedom!

All-or-nothing? No.

The better perspective is ALL-IN-ALL.

This song expresses what’s in my heart as I think about this today:

“You are my strength when I am weak.

You are the treasure that I seek.

You are my all in all.”

(“You Are My All in All,” sung here

by David Phelps/Gaither Vocal Band.)

Jesus wants to be my Everything.

And I sincerely want that too. Even when I stray. Even when I mess up.

I want to be a woman after God’s own heart.

Why? I’m learning He is my strength, my wisdom, my victory, my only hope and so much more.

Is this your heart too? Is Jesus your “all in all?

 

Not What I Thought You Said

9 Jan

Sometimes it’s better to just smile and nod your head… especially when your hearing starts to fade.

One place you’ll always be a captive audience? In the dentist’s chair.  

CaptiveAudience_LOLwithGod_pixabayWith my mouth wide open, I couldn’t reply to anything my dentist said. But then, I don’t know if he was asking me questions or just making small talk.

So I just grunted “uh-uh” and hoped he wasn’t talking about my bill.

(It’s hard enough when a person speaks quietly, but he was wearing a mask too, and it muffled the sound!)

To be honest, I’ve never been known for hearing right.  (Just ask my brother-in-law who repeatedly asks, “Whose feet stink at 10,000 feet?” It’s something I apparently said a long, long time ago.)

But I’m not sure I want to get a hearing aid. Then people might actually expect me to listen.

I’ve been in many, “Oh, that’s not what I thought you said” situations over my lifetime. But seldom when God was talking.

God is clear when He speaks. Oh, I may not completely understand, in my humanness, what the Lord means. But I hear Him!

Although there are many things that might be disputed in scripture when it comes to the “how to” of God’s words, but the “what”? Seldom. God says what He means.

I mean, how many ways can we interpret these?

“…“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:37-39).

Love God completely and out of that, love others unselfishly!

“Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you” (James 4:10).

Ditch the pride; it’s for God to lift us up.

“…Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man” (Ecclesiastes 12:13b).

We’re responsible to honor/respect/worship God and obey our Maker.

“…if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved” (Romans 10:9).

Pretty clear, isn’t it? God tells us exactly how to be “saved” … how to become His children. 

And when Jesus is Lord—meaning “master”—He will always have the right to tell us what to do.

The problem, most times, is not that we don’t understand what God is saying. The hitch is, we don’t want to do it. We don’t want to obey.

When we get to heaven, we won’t be able to say, “Oh, that’s not what I thought you said.”

God says, if we seek Him, He will be found (Jeremiah 29:13), and if we ask for wisdom to understand the scriptures, He will supply it (James 1:5).

God told Isaiah,

“I am the Lord, and there is no other. I did not speak in secret, in a land of darkness; I did not say to the offspring of Jacob, ‘Seek me in vain.’ I the Lord speak the truth; I declare what is right” (Isaiah 45:18b-19).

Yes, the God who desires to be known can give us a heart to know Him and understand what He expects (Jeremiah 24:7).

Are you willing to ask? And when He speaks, are you willing to obey?

– Dawn

Graphic of dentist from pixabay

Why Not Say ‘Yes’?

9 Jan

On a sunny Sunday afternoon, two young church members were going door to door to invite people to visit their services. When they knocked on one door, it was immediately clear the woman who answered was not happy to see them.

She told them in no uncertain terms that she did not want to hear their message, and before they could say anything more, she slammed the door in their faces. To her surprise, however, the door did not close; in fact, it bounced back open.

She tried again, really putting her back into it, and slammed it again with the same result – the door bounced back open.

Convinced these rude young people were sticking their foot in her door, she reared back to give it a slam that would teach them a lesson.

Just then, one of them said quietly: “Ma’am, before you do that again, you really need to move your cat.” [1]

CatStuckInDoor_cropped_LOL

For many years, opportunities knocked on my door and I refused to answer. Even some opportunities I believe came from the Lord.

I was either too afraid to get out of my comfort zone, too afraid of what people might say if I “blew it” or too afraid of failure.

I hate to admit it, but it wasn’t a Bible verse that inspired me to answer those doors. It was a movie. And I didn’t even see the movie.

I read a review about a silly Jim Carrey movie, “Yes Man.”

In the 2008 film, based on a book by Danny Wallace, Carrey’s charactera lonely manattended a motivational seminar and heard the speaker tell the audience, “Say ‘yes’ to everything.” The exercise was designed to build self-confidence and greater purpose.

According to the review, Carrey’s character acquired new skills as he continued to say “yes”which leads to a happier life.

For me, a Christian, saying “yes” means a lot more, especially when it involves the Lord. It’s a matter of obedience, regardless of my fears and potential discomfort.

When opportunities come, I still pray for discernment and check to be sure the opportunity doesn’t violate scripture, but then I pray, “Lord, I’m going for this unless you give me a clear ‘no’ or ‘wait.'”

Refusing to walk through doors God prepares for us means we’re willing to settle for the blessings of the past.

God told Israel:

“. . . I am about to do something new; even now it is coming. Do you not see it?” (Isaiah 43:18-19)

God, the Creator, may want to do something new in and through us! And He will strengthen us for whatever He calls us to do (Ephesians 3:16).

Canadian author Connie Cavanaugh wrote a book in 2011 that gave me more insight for my new-found “say yes” freedom.

In Following God One Yes at a Time, she wrote (emphasis mine),

“Fear can become a barrier behind which we cower, too afraid to say the next yes. Or fear can be the pathway on which we move forward, one yes at a time, perhaps slowly and painfully, but hand-in-hand with God.

“Every time we choose to believe God and say ‘yes’ with our feet,” Connie said, “a brick comes off the wall fear built and gets placed squarely in front of us to become a stepping-stone that takes us toward fulfillment of God’s dream for us.” (2)

Connie explained the kind of follow-ship that leads to fulfillment of our dreams and God’s will for us. “Following him,” she said, “requires the simple trust and immediate obedience of a child who believes God will make the way to Him simple, immediate and possible.” (3)

I still have so much more to learn about following God, but now I’m eager to say “Yes!”

In fact my focus word for 2015 is “dauntless,” which means “fearless determination.” I’m determined to walk through every door God opens with fearless faith and freedom!

How about you? Are you ready to walk through the doors God opens for you?

Is there a door you’re refusing to walk through right now? If so, what is keeping you from obedience and a fresh adventure with God?

(1) “Prospecting for the Lord,” http://www.broadcaster.org.uk/section2/jokes/christianjokes.html
(2) Connie Cavanaugh, Following God One Yes at a Time (Harvest House Publishers, 2011), pp 150-151.
(3) Cavanaugh, ibid., p. 14.

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