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A Simple Blessing after Christmas

27 Dec
I always think of Christmas as a time of blessing, but I read these “Christmas Facts”* from the United Kingdom (written after Christmas, 2009), and said, “Oh my!”
Here are just a few of those facts:
  • Hospitals in the UK reported four broken arms after “cracker pulling” accidents. [I cannot imagineChristmasCrackers_FreeFoto this… holiday crackers (see right) look so benign!]
  • Three people die each year testing to see if a 9-volt battery works on their tongue.
  • Thirty-one people died (since 1996) by watering their Christmas tree while the tree lights were plugged in. (The UK apparently calls them “fairy lights.”)
  • Nineteen people died within a three-year period, believing that Christmas decorations were chocolate. (Huh?)
  • One hundred and one people (since 1997) had to have broken parts of plastic toys pulled out of the soles of their feet.
  • One hundred and forty two people were injured, just in 1998, by not removing all pins from new shirts.

May your Christmases always be accident free … especially from those silly things!

I’ll keep this short. Christmas is over and you’re probably exhausted from church and family events. But your heart is full, right?

But if your house is like mine, after the holidays, my house feels a bit chaotic. I keep wishing one of my Christmas gifts was a housekeeper!

HeadingInto2015

I want to share a simple blessing I read in Dianne Barker‘s great book about organizing for the maximum life. **

“When life becomes hectic and harried,

   may you find calm in the chaos.

If your floors don’t sparkle,

   may the glory of the Lord light your face.

If grime streaks your bathroom sink,

   may it never corrode your heart.

If you’re racing the clock and losing,

   may you choose the important over the urgent.”

What a great way to head into the New Year – (1) embracing a calm perspective (by focusing on the  peace of God), and (2) living for God’s glory with (3) a pure heart and (4) right priorities.

[Simple scriptures for meditation on these points: Philippians 4:7; 1 Corinthians 10:31 & Ephesians 1:12; Matthew 5:8; Matthew 6:33]

Take a moment to think about your life right now. Which of those four areas needs a little work today?

Working on even one of them over the next few days might prepare you for the New Year a lot better than a list of resolutions.

– Dawn

Photo of Christmas Cracker: Image Supplied by FreeFoto.com.

* “Christmas Facts” from Sparkpeople.com, 12-26-09

** Book by Dianne Barker: I Don’t Chase the Garbage Truck Down the Street in My Bathrobe Anymore! (Crossroad Books, 2014),p. 179.

 

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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.

 

Saint Dawn and Other Everyday Saints

28 Oct

Some children were told to come to their church dressed up like one of the Old Testament saints. They  arrived in costumes of famous Bible characters, but the pastor was puzzled by one girl’s choice.

“Kimberly, I can’t figure out who you are supposed to be,” the Pastor said.

Kimberly, in a dog costume smiled. “I’m Saint Bernard!” LOL!

There’s a lot of opinions when it comes to “saints.”

Many people in Roman Catholicism and some Anglican churches celebrate “All Saints’ Day” on November 1st as a commemoration of those who have attained “sainthood” in their  tradition. Other denominations use All Saints’ Day to celebrate all Christians who have passed away in their local congregations.

To be honest, I’m more concerned with what the Bible says about sainthood than what any church or church tradition teaches.

Some Christians believe that saints are only people in Bible history like David, Daniel and Esther, but that’s not true. The Old Testament Hebrew talks about regular people who were called “sacred, holy, or dedicated,” and the Greek word hagios means “holy, sacred, pious, and consecrated to God.” The saints in scripture were people who were declared holy and set apart for God and the Kingdom of God.

Moses – an Old Testament saint

In the Old Testament, saints were people who looked to Jehovah God and trusted him for the coming Messiah who would redeem them from their sins. In the New Testament, God included the Body of Christ in the Church. We see this in Ephesians 4:12: “to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ.”

We are not perfect or sinless; we are only saints because we are connected to the One God provided to make us holy. We are “in Christ.” So we are declared saints in God’s eyes, but also encouraged to be saints on the earth … we are called to be holy (1 Corinthians 1:2). We are called to act like saints. Our salvation is secure in Christ, but God is working out that salvation in our behavior every day — making us more like His Son (Romans 8:29; Philippians 1:6; 2 Corinthians 3:18). Those who know the Lord will want to be holy (1 John 3:3).

“Saint Dawn” because of Jesus

In the biblical sense, because I am alive in Christ, I am just an everyday saint named Dawn… and you are Saint __________ (fill in your name) if you know Him too. God wants us to be holy, not behaving in impure, ungodly ways. Even the world knows that a saint should be holy ~ it’s the “proper” lifestyle of one who knows God: “But sexual immorality and all impurity or covetousness must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints.” We are to act in “a manner worthy of the saints” (Romans 16:2).

So biblical saints (those who have received Jesus by faith in what He accomplished for us in his life, death, and resurrection) are alive here on earth right now! We are living saints, declared righteous, glorifying and enjoying God, doing His will and serving one another. It’s not about us ~ we are not to be worshiped as saints ~ it’s all about God and worshiping Him alone.

In the Bible, the word is usually plural ~ the “saints” (Acts 9:13, 32 and more than 60 other scriptures). Paul did refer to it in the singular once, but it’s clear that there were more than one saint. We don’t stand alone as saints. We are part of the beautiful body of Christ, and we need one another.

Sometimes we saints are called to suffer for our connection to Christ (Acts 26:10), so we must encourage one another. And we must never forget to pray for the suffering saints ~ our persecuted brothers and sisters around the world.

Are you a saint because of the work of Christ in your life? If so, how is God working in your heart to make you more like Jesus?

– Dawn

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