On this 14th day I feel that God is preparing me for some awesome changes in my life!
Change is always an adjustment but is not always bad. I feel quite certain that He has GOOD changes planned for my life that will allow me to better serve Him. My natural instinct is to reject change but with prayer it has turned to an exciting curiosity.
Unfortunately He is also giving me a lesson in patience which is not one of my strong suits…lol. Therefore, in my time of learning patience I am trying to prepare my fields for the seeds that He will be planting.
It is like a mustard seed which, when it is sown on the ground, is smaller than all the seeds on earth; but when it is sown, it grows up and becomes greater than all herbs, and shoots out large branches, so that the birds of the air may nest under its shade.” Mark 4:31-32 NKJV
Seems like every day is laundry day at the Van De Wiele house. So as I’m taking clothes out of the washer, I realize that, because of a loose string, a big wad of clothes is all tangled up in a big twisted mess. So what should’ve taken me a couple of minutes seemed to take forever. I could have just yanked them apart but that probably would’ve resulted in at least one ruined piece of clothing. I could’ve ignored it and threw the whole mess in the dryer but probably would have not only ruined clothes but it would have taken much longer to dry. So instead I carefully untangled the whole mess & located the troublemaking string. At this point I could have just cut it off or pulled it out but that would have only been a temporary fix at best. If I had pulled it, it may have completely unraveled the shirt. If I had cut it, it would have eventually worked its’ way out & caused more laundry dilemmas in the future. Instead, I tied it so it would not unravel further, and then cut off the excess. Un-forgiveness is much like a raveling string. Before you know it, that itty bitty string has managed to work its’ way in and around other areas of your life…where it shouldn’t be…and, if you allow it, it will work its’ way into other people’s lives. Left unattended, it will tangle & bind you, your family, your relationships, and most importantly, your relationship with God. You can ignore it, but you will end up with a ruined piece of your life that you will never be able to mend. You can cut off the person and refuse to forgive them, but you risk destroying yourself & others close to you in the process. And then you still have un-forgiveness inside of you just waiting to unravel & tangle up again. Or you can tie a knot in it by forgiving, snip off the hurt & anger, and move on. Either way, you are the only one that can deal with the mess. The question is, how much damage are you going to allow before you deal with it correctly?
I’ve posted before about how the “church” isn’t a building. It isn’t walls, pews, & carpet. It is the body of Christ.
So what do we picture when we picture the body of Christ?
Do we picture the perfect man that was all God and all man who walked this earth and was perfect….without blemish or sin? Do we picture a perfect building, filled with perfect people, who show up every Sunday with the perfect clothes and sit with their perfect children and sing with their perfect voices?
I know I don’t. It was once said that by allowing an obvious sinner into “the church” that it gave the “appearance of evil”. Well I’m not sure what “church” that particular person was referring to, but the last time I checked, the ONLY person that wasn’t a sinner was Jesus Christ. Pretty sure if we stopped allowing sinners to be a part of the church then there would no longer be one.
No….that’s not the body of Christ that I envision. The body that I think of is the one that was bloody, beaten, broken, and hung on a cross because of my sins. The body that I see is the one that is no longer perfect. It’s damaged. It’s messy. It has scars. That’s what I see when I think of the body of Christ. And I believe that’s what God sees when He looks at the church. A body of broken people. A group of people that have obvious imperfections but are striving to heal and serve Him. A beautifully broken body of Christ.
The beaten body of Christ doesn’t give the appearance of perfection. It gives the appearance of sacrifice. And it wasn’t sacrificed for perfect people because they don’t exist. Never have, never will.
So rather than spending your life searching for a “church” that doesn’t have “the appearance of evil” and doesn’t allow obvious sinners in, then just be aware that the illusion of perfection is more dangerous than the honesty of brokenness because the broken body seeks healing while the illusion of perfection makes itself it’s own God.
In John 8, the Bible tells us of the woman caught in the very act of adultery. The religious leaders had brought her to Jesus, told Him of her sins, and stood in anxious expectation of His next move. Now….there is no doubt that she had sinned as she had been very conveniently caught in the a (we’ll come back to that). So Jesus would have been within His rights to dole out a punishment….to make a public spectacle of her…as if the religious leaders hadn’t already done that…and He in fact was the only one that had that right. Let’s think about what might have happened had He done that. Do you think it would have brought her closer to God or pushed her farther away? I believe she would have never found or even looked for forgiveness if that had happened. Now….that does NOT mean that Jesus was saying that she should continue living a life of sin. In fact, scripture tells us that He told her to go and sin no more. So my question is.…..if you have faced a situation where you know someone is living a sinful life….and you are praying about it…counseling them about it….you have sought advice from other people of faith (of course while keeping anonymity)…..and have slowly begun putting God’s plan for this person into place in the hope of drawing them closer to God and farther from their sun. BUT another person who deems themself as an authority on all things of God, demands that the situation be handled their way regardless of the hurt and humiliation that it will cause and most likely drive this poor broken soul so far from God that they may never find their way back. They haven’t prayed about it…..they have most of what they consider ”the facts” wrong…and they don’t even know the person’s name…all because they believe that it gives the appearance of evil. Which is right? In John 8…the religious leaders were correct in their accusations…..but the fact is…it is not our reponsibility to condemn. It’s our responsibility to serve as Jesus would. With the love and compassion that He has…otherwise we are merely clanging cymbals. (Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal. 1 Corinthians 13:1) And I for one am thankful that He is not in the habit of doling out our punishment the moment we sin because I’m pretty sure the end would come quickly for all of us. On another note….scripture doesn’t tell us how the religious leaders caught the woman in the act. We don’t know if there was planning or scheming involved but if there was, the Bible is very clear about what God thinks of those who try to sow discord. (These six things the Lord hates,Yes, seven are an abomination to Him: A proud look,A lying tongue,Hands that shed innocent blood, A heart that devises wicked plans,Feet that are swift in running to evil, A false witness who speaks lies,And one who sows discord among brethren. Proverbs 6:16-19). So…if you are looking for a church to worship where everyone there is already perfect….or at least gives the “appearance” of perfect…then you’re in the wrong church because Jesus was the only perfect man to ever walk on the earth. I’ve heard it said that a church isn’t a museum for the saints but rather a hospital for the sinners. And I’d rather be where the Healer is.
Once upon a time I was somewhat artsy. I enjoyed painting with water colors but the problem with them was, if I made a wrong stroke, it wasn’t easy to fix it. I could paint over it but if you looked closely, you could still see it. Pen & inks yielded the same challenges. I did some pencil drawings also. The great thing about those was that you could erase a mistake and never even know it was there. It was also very easy to smudge a line between black and white so that you couldn’t tell where one ended and the other began. Sometimes I think we want our lives to be in pencil. We want to be able to smudge that line between wrong & right and we want to be able to erase the parts that we don’t want anyone to see. Problem is, everything we do is permanent. Even when you try your best to hide a mistake, it’s still there & satan makes sure that there is always someone there just waiting to point out where you’ve messed up. The only way you can completely get rid of all the mistakes is to cover them with the blood of Jesus Christ. It will remove even the ugliest mistakes and guide you in creating a new work of art. And although Satan is still going to provide plenty of people to remind everyone what a mess your canvas used to be, all that will actually matter is that now you are the Master’s masterpiece.
I have spent the last couple of weeks praying. Multiple times a day. Praying while cleaning. Praying while cooking. Praying while driving. Praying for healing for a loved one that has been very sick.
One day last week, after I had been praying, I was thinking about the situation and I had concerns. Because although her condition had not worsened, it didn’t seem to be getting any better. And at some point, something needed to change. And I thought to myself…maybe the prayers need to change. I’ve been praying for weeks to heal her, to comfort her, to ease her pain, for God’s guidance for the doctors and nurses… But what did Jesus say in scripture every time He healed someone? He told them that their FAITH has healed them.
So that day, my prayers changed. Rather than asking for healing, I began thanking God for the healing He was doing right now! It became almost a chant. I spent the day with an almost constant mental loop of thanking God for His healing and for His faithfulness to answer prayers.
The next morning we got a call that she had been able to sit up and visit with her husband. Still very very sick…but improvement!!
So the loop continued. I thanked God. Not a hopeful thankfulness. But a, “Thank you God because I KNOW that You are healing her right now!” I wholehearted faith fueled prayer KNOWING that God was working a miracle even as I was praying.
So the next day we get a phone call, and not only has she improved, but she is home from the hospital!!!
So maybe…if you have been praying and nothing is changing….maybe it’s the prayer that needs to change. Because it’s not our prayers that heal…it’s our faith.
We may no longer live in a time when we all sit out on the porch every evening and visit with our neighbors or run next door to borrow a cup of sugar…but just because things are different doesn’t mean that we don’t have that same kinship of the past. Now when I need something, I can post it on Facebook and within a few minutes I have at least 10 friends who have come to my rescue. And in today’s society, I may not sit on the porch drinking sweet tea and visiting with my neighbors, but instead I sip a sonic drink while visiting with my football people, volleyball people, basketball people, softball people, track people, and spend my Sundays and Wednesdays with my church people. So while things might not be like they used to be….some things will never change. Your community…your people…are your root system and God is the soil that keeps you firmly anchored and nourished.
It’s so easy for me to get disgusted & overwhelmed by the deterioration of the world’s morals & ethics. I was watching something on the news & my normal knee-jerk reaction was to blame the government. And in doing so, I heard that all too familiar still, small voice say, “It starts at home.” This country as a whole has a disease that is eating away at it. A disease that makes sin ok & calls Christians fools. The problem is…the government is not the disease. It’s the symptom. The root of the disease is in each and every home in America. It begins when we fail to make God first and foremost in everything that we do. Yes…everything. We put ourselves in first place and everything becomes about, “what’s in it for me?”. It festers and multiplies when we fail to teach our children biblical truths by living our lives as examples and showing them the path to righteousness. It spreads from home to home when we fail to love our neighbor and instead spread rumors, boast pridefully of “our” accomplishments, or look down on someone when we should be lifting them up. We can treat the symptoms and things may seem somewhat better for a little while. But it’s only when we get to the root of the disease and make Jesus Christ the Lord & Savior of our own family…my own family, that true healing begins. And then we start helping others heal by sharing God’s word and biblical truths.
“The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.” Mark 12:29-31
I was eating lunch the other day & saw a squirrel in our yard. My daughter was all excited & didn’t understand why I was concerned about it. I explained that as it got closer to the back of our house, it was also getting further & further away from a tree, and that if our dog saw it, then it was going to have to be really fast to get back to safety before she caught it. Nonetheless it kept inching closer & closer until we tapped on the window & it ran back to safety. Unfortunately a couple of days later we discovered that it had ventured too far and wasn’t fast enough to get back to a safe haven before it met its fate. The world is full of things that we would like to have. If we could just get a little closer. And sometimes even when we get really close, nothing bad happens. So the next time we get even closer. And then one day, we don’t even realize that we have walked away from the only true safe haven that we have. The loving, protective arms of God. We are so enamored by the things of the world that we don’t even realize it. So when Satan attacks, it’s not because God has left us. It’s because we have left Him. And just for the record, my dog is not Satan. She just really likes to play with squirrels…unfortunately until they die.
On this 28th day I’m feeling blessed that although I often find myself saying, “What is wrong with people!?”…I know that there are many really good people in the world. I’m thankful that our hearts have not been hardened to the point that we don’t feel excruciating sadness for the tragic events going on in the world. Oh how I wish everyone could see that if this world would just turn to God that all things would be healed and become right. If you’re missing something in your life, you will never fill it with money…people…work…hobbies…or habits. There is a Jesus shaped hole in everyone and He is the only thing that will fill it and complete you.
On this 26th day, I’m so thankful for God’s blessing of forgiveness. If you’re wandering thru life like I was for many years thinking, “I’m a decent person, God wouldn’t send me to Hell” then you need to be aware that God does not send you to Hell. Your sins do. We are ALL headed to Hell unless we make the one and only choice that can save us. Jesus is the only One that can save you. He loves you and allows you to make your own choices…right or wrong. So if you “think” you’ll be ok…if you “think” you’ve been saved…if you don’t KNOW beyond a shadow of a doubt and if you can’t feel the love of God inside of you, then my advise would be to pray until you KNOW! And if you think you’re too far gone to deserve God’s love and forgiveness, then you should also know that NOBODY deserves it but It was made available to everyone thru the blood of Jesus Christ. Nobody is so good that they don’t need it and nobody is so bad that they can’t have it.
How can anyone neglect a child? How can a mother carry a person in her womb and not have an overwhelming love for it? How can anyone not make loving, caring for, and protecting their child a priority? But how can even the best parents….parents who love their kids, clothe and feed their kids….support them in all their extra curricular activities….spend countless hours with them…..how can they not be concerned with their children’s souls? I ask this because I was once one of those people. My excuse was that God saves all children. And I still believe that is true. By here’s the problem with that excuse ….children grow up. They pass that age of accountability. And if they don’t accept Jesus as their savior then their security is gone. It’s gone and we have failed to teach them the most important thing. And if they’ve never been taught of God and His love for them and accept Him as their savior, then it doesn’t matter how good they are…how many A’s they bring home…how many points they score….how many people they help….none of those things will get them to the eternal prize.
On this 23rd day, I feel blessed to know that I NEED to have my toes stepped on! I fear that too many people are attracted to preachers that sugar coat everything and don’t tell you what you need to hear. If a preacher is preaching nothing but rainbows and happiness and never tells you about the consequences of sin, then you need a new preacher! And if you walk around in a bubble, continually sinning while praising God for your “blessings” and spewing the “don’t judge me because Jesus didn’t judge” excuse….then you better break open your bible because while you are right that Jesus came not to judge but to save…you need to know that we will all absolutely will be judged by God almighty! Whew! I’m on fire tonight !!! And if I stepped on any toes…your welcome;) Hopefully someday you’ll thank me for it & if it makes you feel any better mine get stepped on all the time…lol.
On this 22nd day, I’m blessed that although my couch and ottoman are covered with folded laundry, we have plenty to wear. And even though I still have dishes in the sink from last night, we have plenty to eat. And even though we never have enough time to spend with everyone we would like to, we have friends and family that we love and miss. And although my to-do lists never get complete before more is added to them and I often feel overwhelmed and stressed about getting it all done, I have an amazing life. THANK YOU JESUS FOR EVERYTHING!!!
Yesterday the weather was so nice! It was absolutely beautiful outside. Today, not so much. So I’ve decided that I’m gonna start referring to the weather as our hokey pokey weather. Then it occurred to me that too often we have hokey pokey faith. We sometimes put our problems in God’s hands but then pull them out because we think that we can handle them ourself. Or we’ll give him our praise but then turn around and take it away by reminding others how great we are. We’ll put one foot on the path of righteousness but then take it out if we think we’ve found a faster track in this world. We’ll put one hand in to reach out to a friend in need but then pull it back out when it’s someone that we don’t think deserves our help. We’ll put our head in but then pull it back out so we can hear the latest tidbit of gossip. But once we put our whole self in, God will turn our life around. And THAT’S what it’s all about!!!