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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.

Incongruous

5 Jul

Back in the 70s, my boys watched Sesame Street, and we’d sing this song: “One of these things is not like the others, One of these things just doesn’t belong….” They learned early on to recognize incongruous things.SandSnowman_HoHoAloha

You’ve probably seen some incongruous things in life.

One of my favorite “incongruous” sightings is a sand snowman on the beach.  We certainly don’t expect to see a “snowman” there! Vacationers in beautiful Hawaii, Aruba and other tropical isles get creative building and decorating these sand snowmen in December.

[A side noteJenn, a dear woman who still grieves the loss of a little baby, Noah, built a happy little snowman on vacation some time later. She allowed me to adapt it for this photo.]

Some other incongruous things:

A pig wearing lipstick (made famous by Sarah Palin) … a baseball player pitching an avocado … a cake mix box in the middle of a row of cookbooks … a kitty in a lineup of Meerkats … a very loud belch at a formal dinner….

You get the idea.

Congruous means “what is suitable or proper.” It’s things that make sense together. When something is incongruous, we might say it is “not in harmony or keeping with the surroundings” or other aspects of something.

Incongruity is a key element in good humor, but it’s not such a good thing in life.

I was thinking of the word “incongruous” as I read some familiar scriptures.

Romans 6:2 says, “… How can we who died to sin still live in it?” This entire chapter reminds the believer that we no longer need to obey our passions and impulses to sin. We are to consider ourselves “dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus” (v. 11).

It was incongruous to Paul that a Christian should “continue in sin that grace may abound” (v. 1),  present their bodies to unrighteousness (v. 13) or live as slaves to sin (vv. 17-18).

Yes, there is an ongoing struggle with the presence of sin (Romans 7:15-23), but the power of sin over us is broken (v. 25) because Christ has redeemed us. We have life in the Spirit (Romans 8:1-11) and are heirs with Christ (8:12-17).

Our reality is, we are headed for glory with Him (8:18). We are “conquerors (overcomers) through him who loved us” (8:37) and will never be separated from God’s love in Christ (8:38-39).

I’m grieved by Christians’ light-hearted attitude toward sin today.  I grieve that I accept my own sinning so easily. I forget I’m a foot-soldier in the Lord’s army, obliged to obey His every command.

We need to remember the battle we’re in. We need to:

  1. Take Up Our Armor (put on every piece, Ephesians 6:11-13);
  2. Endure Hardship and strive to please our Commander-in-Chief, Jesus! (2 Timothy 2:3-4, 9-10; Matthew 16:24);
  3. Fight the Good Fight (1 Timothy 1:18-19; 6:12), proclaim the truth of God’s Word and living for Him – no matter how difficult;
  4. And Stand firm against the attacks of Satan (1 Peter 5:8-9; 1 Corinthians 10:12; James 4:7; 2 Corinthians 10:3-5)

The world needs to see Jesus’ life manifested, demonstrated, in our day-to-day circumstances. Too often, all it sees is an incongruous picture – “Sinning Saints.” This should not be.  The Holy One calls us to holiness (1 Peter 1:15-17a; Leviticus 11:44-45).

Yes, I know. We won’t be perfect until we get to heaven. But that’s no excuse to continue in disobedience. We have hundreds of opportunities to decide for God every day, and we need to stay engaged.The battle is the Lord’s, but He expects us not to slink away from the battlefield!

What could be more incongruous than a soldier sitting out the biggest battle of his life, fiddling with lesser things and failing to obey his Commander’s instructions?

You might want to ask, with me: “Father, is my life a picture of incongruous living? Where am I a hypocrite? Where am I not obeying your commands?”

Let’s recommit to taking those four steps to become victorious in Christ!

  – Dawn

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