Monday, November 17, 2014

Let Go or Be Dragged!

I'm down to my last three days in my series...and there is still so much left unsaid.

One consistent theme that has God keeps bringing back to is suffering.  Another beheading was broadcast yesterday. A couple was burned in a kiln as they were falsely accused of blasphemy for desecrating the Quran.   An off-duty policeman and father was shot and killed down the road.

And I have a very very dear friend who is experiencing multiple losses...

I sit here in my living room.  Ed is reading humorous emails and watching Monday Night Football.  And I contemplate how short life is...and how little time we really have to make a difference.  In light of that, what is really important about a football game or all the trinkets waved before our face during the commercials?  To coin a phrase in the news of late:  What difference does it make?

I remember a book written by Max Lucado called Traveling Light.  I've never read it but the title is intriguing.  I wonder how much we carry around or we allow to drag us around, because we refuse to let go.  This year has been about letting go...releasing...and practicing humility.  Trust me, I'm still in the beginner's class...

So what have I been learning to unload?

  • Judgment and resentment
  • Self-reliance
  • A critical spirit
  • The burden of others' opinions
  • Irrational guilt, perfectionism, and legalism
  • My idols (which I have to do daily...sometimes moment by moment...trying not to fondle them)
And how can I do this?  Only by grace...grace that comes from renewing the mind.  Reminding myself that I have blind spots and faults of my own that I cannot see.  By praying Psalm 19:12-14:

Who can discern his errors?
    Declare me innocent from hidden faults.
13 Keep back your servant also from presumptuous sins;
    let them not have dominion over me!
Then I shall be blameless,
    and innocent of great transgression.
14 Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart
    be acceptable in your sight,
    Lord, my rock and my redeemer. (ESV)

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

A Lesson from Ebola

I heard on the news tonight that the United States is now Ebola-free.

Our area made national news when one of the nurses treating the Ebola patient in Dallas, Texas who died, traveled home to northeast Ohio, later testing positive for Ebola.

Volunteers at the hospital stood vigil and asked the two questions photographed above to every person entering one of the hospital entrances.  A task force was formed.  Every precaution was taken.  One little virus posed a huge threat to all of us.  It was hard to wrap my head around how something microscopic could be so dangerous!

And yet, isn't that what Paul talks about in Galatians how something so small affects everything?
A little yeast works through the whole batch of dough.  Galatians 5:9 (NIV)
And yet daily so much fodder invades our hearts and minds that endangers our spiritual health.  What do you listen to?  What do you participate in?  What takes your focus, your time?  Does anything have a hold of your heart, something that appears benign on the surface, but is indicative of an idol crying out to be worshiped?

We cannot renew our minds unless we are vigilant about the covert ways the world will try to conform you into its mold.  This is particularly true in a society where wrong has become right and evil has become good.  It's those little things...the little foxes as stated in Song of Solomon...that spoil the vineyard.

So what are those little things...nearly microscopic...seemingly benign...that can destroy our spiritual health and our effectiveness with others?

You know I write this...because I need the reminder!

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Just a Lazy Old Dog

So, I took my own suggestion and spend a "half day in prayer..."

I looked at two excellent devotionals...both from The Navigators:  Daily Discipleship; Daily Holiness with Jerry Bridges.  (You can get both of these in your email daily by signing up here.)

The focus of the article by Jerry Bridges was on knowing your enemy.  He stated that our culture is a major enemy that wars against our Christian resolve, and the enemy of Satan is real...BUT...the greatest enemy lies within us.

I was profoundly hit by a 2 x 4 when I read what Jesus said to his disciples in Matthew 26:41 as stated in The Message:
Stay alert; be in prayer so you don't wander into temptation without knowing your in danger.  There is a part of you that is eager, ready for anything in God.  But there's another part of you that's as lazy as an old dog sleeping by the fire.
Ow!!!  What a visual!!!!

I participated in a live webinar Sunday night for Open Doors in honor of International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church.  I heard Nik Ripken talk about the many Christians severely persecuted in Somalia.  I heard an Ellie Davidian, born and raised a devout Shiite Muslim in Iran, now Christian serving the persecuted church of Iran speak of the imprisonment of women for their faith, how the government will trap Christians by posting phoney Christian pages on Facebook for Christian Iranians to "like," and how the greatest pressure on the Christian churches there is making it illegal for services to be spoken in Farsi, the native language of Iran.  Mosques and Quran use only Arabic.  In 60 countries all over the world, 100 million Christians are experiencing extreme and severe persecution...

While I am here lazy as an old dog sleeping by the fire...

What a mind renewal!

May my heart and mind be focused on those things that break your heart.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Do You Want an Intense Renewal?

It's November 1...a high of only 40 degrees...and the sparrows foraging at my feeders are all puffy to keep warm.

Saturdays are precious to me.  Most Saturdays do not require me to get up to an alarm clock and immediately do the shower-put on my makeup-dry my hair-get dressed routine.

I went through The Navigators discipleship curriculum known as The 2:7 Series decades ago.  One concept we practiced was "a half day of prayer."  It is basically about spending some lengthy, uninterrupted quiet time with the Lord...putting a stop on our busy lives for a season.  I have done this multiple times and it has always been so rich in changing my perspective...renewing my mind.

You can download this publication free here...but one point that Lorne Sanny makes really hits home to me as a reason for doing this:
Like flying over the battlefield in a reconnaissance plane, a day of prayer give opportunity to think of the world from God's point of view.
That's what I need...I challenge you to take some time this weekend.