Friday, September 30, 2011

The Last September 2011 Day

It's the last day of September 2011! That's rather monumental. As my freshman algebra teacher said, "If there's anything you wanted to do in September (year omitted), you better do it today. It's going to be gone forever."
Have you ever thought about how many 'lasts' have passed you by without being noted? There's the last time you changed your baby's diaper, the last time you had to help your toddler on the toilet, the last time you picked your son's dirty clothes up off the floor, the last time your daughter let you braid her hair.
Very few true 'lasts' are easily noted. By that I mean that it's a last that will never have another occurrence. Some things seem like a last but the possibility still exists for a 'next,' like the last time your son paid you back when he asked for a loan. Similarly, some 'lasts' pass because you expect a 'next,' like the last time you played Tooth Fairy for one of your kids.
You can easily remember the last time you said "I love you" to a loved one when you watched them take their last breath, and were aware that it was indeed their last breath. But when a loved one dies suddenly, you often don't remember when you last said "I love you" and it haunts you.
There is no value in being haunted by missed 'lasts'! Learn from them, yes, but don't cling to them.
Instead of being haunted by what you didn't do, learn to live a better lifestyle in which you get your priorities right.
This isn't easy. You have a lifetime of habits built up, but unless you want to mourn another lost last, you better take the time, make the effort. Let God teach you to be someone who can celebrate 'firsts' and let go of 'lasts.'

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Doing Laundry

I am officially past tired of doing laundry! I thought once I had an 'empty nest' and it was just Paul and I to do laundry for, it wouldn't be so demanding. It is! Sure there aren't as many clothes to wash as there once was, but even when I've washed everything in the house, when I go to bed at night, there's dirty clothes in the hamper.
It's not fair! Shouldn't there be a time when we're done with laundry? It's no wonder all those little old ladies live in nursing homes! They're heartily sick of sixty years of the endless cycle of laundry.
Okay, maybe I oversimplified it a bit, but seriously, I'm trying to figure out how I can get someone else to do my laundry. No, my husband isn't an option! He'll wash my delicates with his jeans, and he won't even use a lingerie bag. No, I think moving in with my daughter will be the best option.
For a while I tried ignoring my laundry, hoping it would take care of itself, but that didn't work. It piled up anyway and I had twice as much work to get it all done!
You're probably wondering why I would go off on this rant since it's not something I normally do! Of course I'm thinking about something profound, not just rambling. (That's what I do!)
Becoming a new creature in Christ is so much like doing laundry. It never ends, not until you get to heaven and get your heavenly robes. (Oh boy, I hope I'm right about the laundry part of heaven!) No matter how much you think you've grown as a Christian, there's still something to work on, so be encouraged if you're wondering when you'll finally get it, when you'll finally be all better, all fixed. It's a lifelong process that even Mother Teresa and Billy Graham had to do.
But unlike with the laundry, you get lots of help cleaning up your soul. The Holy Spirit doesn't just give you some awesome high-speed detergent, he stays right with you, working in and through you. And just like with laundry, some day you'll have an 'empty nest' and you won't have to do your spiritual laundry as often. But even then, don't neglect it, or it will pile up on you and become a major chore.
It does get better, but it doesn't go away. Rest assured that no matter how good someone else looks to you, they have to do their spiritual laundry too!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Coffee pots and the Holy Spirit

So, did you know that if you don't put a carafe under the basket of a drip coffee maker, you'll end up with a mess? It's not so bad if it's just four cups of coffee like I did this morning, but when it's eight to ten cups, oh what a pain! There are coffee and grounds all over the counter, the floor and in or on anything in the vicinity of the coffee pot. And coffee stains!
The good news is that you can still retrieve about three cups of coffee simply by putting the carafe properly under the basket.
"What does that have to do with the Holy Spirit?" you ask if you read the title of this blog.
That mess of coffee isn't the fault of the pot, nor even of the one who provided the water and coffee grounds. The pot was properly filled, but the person who was responsible for receiving the coffee didn't put the carafe in place at the proper time to catch the coffee.
Hopefully you begin to see where I'm going with this! A lot of times we look around at the mess we've made of our lives or our churches/ministries, and we want to blame God. But it's not his fault. He filled our innards with the Holy Spirit or populated our church with everyone we need to get his work done and have an incredible blessing. We, however, failed to properly place the 'pot' that will catch the blessings God is pouring out.
Personally we don't prepare our minds by studying the Word or we don't surround ourselves with godly people to help us grow. In our ministries we aren't deliberate about finding what people's giftings are, we're just looking for someone to do the job. We aren't prepared for the blessings of God to drip into a 'pot' that will then allow them to be enjoyed as intended. We make a mess of things.
But don't despair. All isn't lost! There's always time to catch at least some of the blessings God's been pouring out. Clean up your 'pot' and get it properly situated in God's plan and soon you'll be enjoying a fresh cup of coffee. And if you taste a few coffee grounds, let that be a reminder that no matter how bad you try to mess things up, God will still be glorified in the end!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Faith and Remembering

I've been hanging around in 1 Timothy for a while. It's very interesting to me how many things I discover in a book when I spend extra time in it! This morning, I read something that I don't remember reading before. Since this is a blog, I'll just give you the highlights, but there's a lot of contextual information that I have to skip. (Read 1 Timothy for yourself and see if I'm reading in context.)
So, the passage I paused in this morning was 1 Timothy 1:18-20 -
"Timothy, my son, I am giving you this command in keeping with the prophecies once made about you, so that by recalling them you may fight the battle well, holding on to faith and a good conscience, which some have rejected and so have suffered shipwreck with regard to the faith. Among them are Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom I have handed over to Satan to be taught not to blaspheme."
"This command" was probably the entire epistle, not just the immediate context. Paul is telling Timothy how to maintain his calling from the Lord. He's mentoring Timothy, and Timothy needs to remember what he's been taught. That's how he'll hold on to his faith and keep a good conscience.
I think it's not just "faith" and "conscience" that "some" have rejected, it's the instruction, the continued mentoring. But a faith shipwreck doesn't have to be fatal! Paul has hope that Hymenaeus and Alexander will learn a lesson.
Sometimes we get pretty full of ourselves after God's given us a calling, especially when it's something 'big'. We can abandon mentoring, or give it a half-hearted effort. But even leaders need mentoring, and accountability.
It doesn't mean you're not a strong Christian leader when you allow others to speak into your life with words of remembrance and/or correction. In fact, the opposite is true. Even when you have your own church or ministry, if you're obeying God you will submit to some authority that will help you keep your faith and conscience healthy.
Who's helping you remember the things you've been taught? Merely reading the bible by yourself isn't going to be enough. Find a mentor and some accountability partners and make sure you're remembering what you should be. Keep your faith strong and your conscience clear.

Monday, September 26, 2011

A Candle of a Marriage

This past weekend my husband and I were praying for another couple and their marriage. We were using a candle as a reminder to pray for them. (There's a lot of back story to that, but I can't explain it all.)
The candle we were using was one of those that's poured into a tall glass container. This works really well to keep your house safe from the flame even when you're not immediately present and watching the flame, but it sure is hard to keep those darn things lit! I think they use the cheapest wax and wicks when they make those candles.
But the cheapness of the candle isn't the point of this blog. That candle as a metaphor for marriage is the point.
That candle was a royal pain to keep lit! It would burn brightly for a while then sputter and spit, sometimes flaming up again but it was more likely to sputter out. If I was right at hand, paying attention when that happened, I could pour out some wax and clean it up a bit and it was still pretty easy to relight. But if I was off somewhere doing something else and not watching that candle for too long (not a good idea), the wax would harden. Then it was a lot harder to get the candle cleaned and relit. I also had to make sure I uncovered enough wick to catch and burn but not so much wick that it burned too brightly and melted too much wax at once, drowning the flame.
Hopefully you've seen the metaphor in the above paragraph. Our marriages will sometimes burn brightly, sometimes sputter and spit. Sometimes the passion will die out completely. But there's still a lot of candle left. With a little judicious care you can get the candle of your marriage burning brightly again. That's going to be a whole lot easier if you're actually paying attention to your marriage and see when the flame sputters out. Clean it up while the wax is still soft and you won't have to work quite so hard.
As newlyweds we usually doubt those 'naysayers' who tell us that marriage is hard work. We're deeply in love and we expect our relationship to go on forever like that. It won't, but if you pay attention to it and carefully work on it, you will still have a flame burning, even after seventy years!

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Ruth and Boaz in God's Plan

The book of Ruth is one of the most underunderstood books in the bible. Yes, I meant exactly what I said. As contemporary Christians, we think we understand Ruth - She was David's great-grandmother, therefor an ancestor of Jesus. That's why her story is in the bible. That's not a bad understanding, but it's well under the understanding that we should get from it. Unless you know the bible very well or you have an awesome cross-reference/study bible, you're going to miss the subtleties of the story.
Like, did you know that Ruth was a descendant of Lot? Did you know that numerous laws were broken in this book? Do you know how the kinsman-redeemer worked? Do you know who Tamar and Perez were?
When you explore the subtleties of the book of Ruth, it becomes much richer.
But this blog isn't mainly about that. However, since I have studied Ruth in that kind of depth, I have a greater understanding of it than the average Christian. Since I've also learned how to study the bible, I know to ask "How would the original readers have understood this book?"
When we read this story, we jump immediately to "she's an ancestor of Jesus." The original readers didn't know that. They only knew that she was the great-grandmother of David, and that she was a very unlikely candidate for that role. In fact, based on Deuteronomy 23:3-6, she was an unlawful candidate for the great-grandmother of the king, and for the next seven of David's descendants.
In thinking about how much more incredible that story was for the original readers than for us today, I had one of those "well, duh!" moments.
Yes Ruth is an incredible story, but she didn't know how incredible it was!
Ruth lived it. She knew she was blessed to be Naomi's daughter-in-law; she knew she was blessed to become Boaz's wife, Obed's mother, Jesse's grandmother, but she never knew the rest of the story. She didn't know that her great-grandson became king!
Ruth lived her whole life without understanding her place in God's great plan of salvation. So did Boaz.
Boaz and Ruth weren't trying to do anything great and wonderful for God. They were simply living the simple life that had been given them. They were being obedient to God, not because they saw the ultimate blessing in it, but just because God was worthy to be obeyed.
You might not be seeing that what you do in life has any lasting impact, but that doesn't matter. What matters is that you live your life for God and let him work it to his glory, whether you ever see it or not! God will take your faithfulness and obedience and work them into his plan. You may not see the results until you get to heaven, but you can trust him. Whatever he's given you to do, no matter how small it seems to you, it's something God himself will make important!

Friday, September 23, 2011

My Incredible Husband

My husband is awesome! We've been married eight years now and he's got a bit more gray and a few more pounds than when we met, but he's even better looking now than he was then. I don't know how he did it, but it's true!
Paul's also very funny. Some of the silly things he does I can't share because you wouldn't understand (or it requires sharing intimate details that you don't need to know!) but he comes up with some of the funniest things. He doesn't at all mind poking fun at himself, especially what he calls OFS (old farts stuff).
He genuinely likes people (even when they have a penchant for irritating him) and he has more patience than he gives himself credit for. Unfortunately, when he loses his patience, it's pretty noticeable! But he doesn't hold grudges very well at all.
Paul loves God very much, enough that he wants to know him better. He not only reads his bible everyday, he thinks about what he reads, talks about it with others. When someone challenges his understanding about God, he doesn't get all huhu. Instead, Paul turns to the Word to see if maybe he missed something. He doesn't let other people tell him what he's supposed to believe; he makes them show him what they learned in the Word.
My husband wasn't always perfect. He's grown spiritually, but he still makes mistakes. That makes him 'perfect' for me! He doesn't buy me gifts and flowers. When he buys me candy it's Baby Ruths and M&Ms. But he likes to spend time with me. He talks to me and listens to me, and when it's my birthday, he thinks about where I want to go for dinner rather than picking a place he wants to go. He's even willing to let me pick the place we go to dinner on his birthday.
My husband is no stereotype. He isn't a waffle nor is he from Mars. He's my wonderful, adorable, unpredictable, sometimes confusing, sometimes frustrating, often challenging counterpart. The more I get to know the man I married, the more I love him.
If you're married and you'd like a husband somewhat like my Paul (who you can't have. I'll scratch your eyes out if you even try!), I suggest you change your perspective. Ask God for his eyes instead of your own. Start seeing your husband through God's eyes and you'll begin to see the real man.
If you aren't married and you'd like a husband somewhat like my Paul (see my above comment!), you still need to look through God's eyes! Put your life and love in God's hands and only look at what he puts before you, where he directs your eyes. God will show you the way to love.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Who's Important?

Have you ever really thought about the fact that there's a big world that exists beyond what you can see, feel, smell and touch? When people are not in your presence, their lives go on. They do many things without even once thinking about you.
That seems like a 'no duh', doesn't it? But is it really? Functionally, do we really believe that people have lives that don't revolve around ours?
How many times have you called someone and been upset when they didn't answer? Have you ever been disgusted because you know they're screening your calls? They should answer and talk to you because you're important!
What about when people need your help for something and you're too busy to give it? This is especially noticeable when you're 'the boss'. You give directions but don't make them complete and when the person who's trying to do the project asks for feedback, you're too busy to give it. Whether or not they can do their job isn't as important as all the busy important things you're doing. And yet, when the job isn't done to standard or on time, you aren't going to take any of the blame because you delegated it!
The bible assures us that no one is unimportant, and yet how many times do we not take the time to get to know the needs and wants, gifts and callings, of the people around us. Usually they need to get 'in our face' and make themselves important to us. But what about all those people who don't get pushy? What about those who quietly go about their business, doing what's asked of them and asking for nothing, or very little, in return?
We should all begin to consider if we're really living like other people are important. They have things to contribute even when they seem unimportant.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Expectations

This hasn't been the best of weeks, but fortunately it hasn't been the worst either! Do you have those annoying weeks where nothing works quite right? The computer seems slower than usual. The check you're waiting for still hasn't come. The weather's been muggy. You don't want to step on the scale because you're pretty sure you've eaten just enough junk food to nudge your weight upward.
But it hasn't been a week devoid of pleasure either. That aforementioned junk food sure tasted good. You had a fun time or two with your spouse. You accomplished a few dozen little things.
But you didn't get anything big accomplished. You look back on all the work you did and wonder why? Why so little accomplished when you faced so many annoyances all week long and you really did work hard?
You had a 'life for real week'. It's been disappointing because of your expectations not because of your circumstances.
We want to live on the mountaintop; we know we'll spend time in the valley; we don't expect to spend most of our time travelling between the two.
I think that's why those 'blah' kine weeks are so unsettling. We know that suffering builds character because that's what the bible promised, so we actually learn to handle the really tough times (and thank God that they're not tougher than they are) and we look for those times that we accomplish something 'real' because they assure us that our character is indeed growing. But what the heck do all those minor annoyances accomplish?
One thing they reminded me of this week is that I have a tendency to expect perfection from myself. I'm okay with the imperfections of others (unless they're really imperfect!) but I hold myself to unrealistic expectations. If I'm becoming more Christ-like, I shouldn't be annoyed by anything, should I? Once the computer sticks its tongue out at me when I tell it to open my Outlook, I am annoyed. That expectation of being unflappable is destroyed. I am not Christ-like. I have failed. That opens the door to greater annoyance, even anger.
I'm beginning to see that before I can truly become Christ-like, I have to become realistic about my humanity. While I am being perfected, I am not perfect. I won't always respond perfectly to every situation. That doesn't mean I'm not a Christian, it just means I'm still on my journey. I need to give myself the grace to fail and get back up again, even when it's just a minor annoyance that caused me to fail.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Business

I'm so busy! I don't have the time for anything.
How many times have you heard something like that, or even said it? It's usually said as an excuse for not having responded to someone. It can even be rather prideful - "I don't have the time for little things because I'm too busy!"
I am rather busy right now. It's a season of my life. I don't have time for some of the things I really want to do, like writing my next novel. I'm about 1/3 of the way done with it but it's kind of on hold for a few days while I work on something else that's got me rather busy.
The problem with business is that some people live in a chronic state of business. They always have a few thousand emails waiting in their inbox. They're always rushing from one place to another. They always have a dozen different projects up in the air. They hardly have time to sit down for a meal without working and they rarely sleep more than a few hours a night.
Even if you're physically capable of keeping up with that kind of pressure, it isn't good for you. First off, you will age and you won't be able to keep up the pace. Second off, you don't have time for relationships.
No matter what your work is, it is not more important than your relationships.
That doesn't mean that you have to drop whatever you're doing because your daughter wants your attention, but it does mean that you should make time for your loved ones. And you shouldn't wait until they ask for time. You should initiate downtime that you can spend with family and friends.
All those things you're doing, for work, for church, even for your family, when they're done at the expense of your relationships, they become wood, hay and stubble that will be burned in the fire.
Take the time to reprioritize your schedule. Before you can do that, the first thing you need to wrap your mind around is this gem of wisdom - the fate of the free world does not rest on your shoulders!
God will get things done even if you 'drop the ball.' But you don't have to drop the ball. Start delegating, giving things to subordinates. Learn to tell your boss "No can do!"
Stop and just breathe. Don't even try to smell the flowers yet, just enjoy the breath that God has given you. Then start really looking at that incredibly blue sky. Watch a few clouds and see what drifts by. Learn the art of quietness and let it help you transform the business of your life into the fruitfulness of living.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Childish Tatrums and Childlike Wonder

My neighbor has one of the most adorable, friendliest boys I've ever met. He's just a year old and very curious about the world. That curiosity makes him quick for such a little guy. He has to be caught once he fixes on something and heads for it. He won't be turned from his goal by just hearing his name called in summons.
Unfortunately, every now and then he gets upset, like the other day when Daddy was washing the truck and he got sprayed by the hose. Then the little buggah walked right into the spray, screaming furiously.
Sometimes I'm like a toddler with God. I know I shouldn't do something but I do it anyway and I yell at God because it's his fault that I got 'all wet'!
Too bad I'm not as generally adorable as a toddler also! Too bad I get bored and indifferent with life sometimes instead of being curious. Too bad I'm too easily diverted from my God-given goals.
Why is it that we easily keep the negative aspects of babyhood and quickly lose the positive?
Jesus said we needed to become like a little child to enter the kingdom of heaven. Maybe he'd have an easier time dealing with the temper tantrums we throw if every now and then we also experienced the childlike wonder of life! When the apostle Paul said to put off the childish things as you grow, do you think that maybe he didn't intend for us to put off childlike wonder?
Here's hoping that today you find something wonderful in God's creation, something that touches the child in you and breaths new life into her!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Another Beautiful Day

This morning I see gorgeous blue skies outside my windows. A few lazy fluffy clouds are drifting around in the heavens, but the sun rules supreme. Another beautiful day!
Why's a rainy day not a beautiful day?
I recently heard a few people talk at different times about how God blessed a trip by giving them perfect weather, meaning sunny skies and no rain. People pray for a change in the weather and feel their prayers are answered. That bugs me a little because it makes us as individuals much too important. It makes us the center of the world, the person around whom God determines the blessings that all others will receive - or not receive!
Did you know that there are people in the world who actually welcome rain? I'm serious! They're call farmers and ranchers and most of them have a very real need for rain to fall on their crops, to water their livestock. Sometimes the rain you're praying to stop has been a tremendous blessing to the farmers and ranchers in the area. Even in the cities we need rain occasionally. It replenishes the water table and provides water for the vegetation that helps to keep the air cleaner.
Yes, there's something about those beautiful blue skies that seems to set your heart soaring, but maybe it has more to do with the color blue than the weather itself!
It's not a beautiful or 'perfect' day because it's 95% sunny. It's a beautiful day because it's a day created by God. That makes every day, rainy, sunny or mix, a beautiful day!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Freedom from guilt

Yesterday I started studying 'guilt' in the bible. I wasn't too surprised to discover that there was a whole lot more on the subject in the Old Testament than in the New. What was rather surprising was how vast a difference there is!
I'm not by any means done since there are hundreds of times that the Hebrew and Greek words for 'guilt' and related words are used in the bible. I mean that quite literally! The Hebrew word ‘āwōn which means "Sin, wickedness, iniquity, often with a focus on the guilt or liability incurred, and the punishment to follow" occurs 233 times in the bible. And that's just one word.
So far, all the Greek words that I've found for guilt don't even come close to that number.
This is just preliminary findings, but my hypothesis after a few hours of study (it takes a long time to read all the verses that talk about guilt) is that in the Old Testament, we see a lot of defining of guilt. What makes a person guilty. How can they get rid of guilt. What are the guilt offerings. In the New Testament, the emphasis is on our freedom from guilt! That transition should be expected since we have verses like Isaiah 53:10 "Yet it was the LORD’s will to crush him and cause him to suffer, and though the LORD makes his life a guilt offering, ...."
The prophecy of the Messiah said that he would become a guilt offering. The New Testament shows us how that happened.
We no longer have to be concerned with the mechanics of guilt as the Old Testament believers were. Now we have freedom from guilt, freedom provided by the ultimate, final, perfect sacrifice.
But what kinds of guilt is covered by Jesus' sacrifice?
Every single one! There is absolutely no form of guilt that isn't covered by the blood of Jesus, except the guilt of rejecting him!
If you have accept the salvation of Jesus Christ, you no longer own any guilt!
If guilt raises it's ugly head in your life, take it only as a warning that you have either committed a sin or you're under an attack from your unhealed past or a spiritual force.
Get rid of the guilt.
It's really that simple - repent of your sin and receive your forgiveness; take your past hurts to God and give them to him; or go after that spiritual force just like a stubborn old mule - keep your face resolutely focused on the One who freed you from guilt and let loose with a wicked back kick that hits the lie right where it counts!

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Seeking God's glory

I've been reading 1 Timothy this past week. Yes, it only has six chapters but when I read a book of the bible, sometimes I read it over and over again. I don't always plan to when I start the book, but that's what happens. After a few days of reading and rereading, somethings begin to rise to the surface. I study those things a little more.
Now, I've read the bible way more than once. I've ready every book of the bible multiple times. I've completed a half dozen different "through the bible" reading plans over the years. I know the bible really well.
So why is it that I so often find things I never noticed before?
One thing that stood out in 1 Timothy is 1:8-9. (No I'm not going to talk about the 'women be silent in church' passage. That would be way beyond the scope of a blog!)
"We know that the law is good if one uses it properly. We also know that the law is made not for the righteous but for lawbreakers and rebels, the ungodly and sinful, the unholy and irreligious, ...."
That means the law is not for Christians! That's strange since Jesus said he didn't come to abolish the law but to fulfill it. So how can the law not be for Christians? Doesn't Paul say that the law is a mirror that shows us sin?
Take a look at what Paul says after he gives a list of examples of "the unholy and irreligious." In 1:10-11 he says: "and for whatever else is contrary to the sound doctrine that conforms to the gospel concerning the glory of the blessed God ...."
I think the simple answer to the above question about the law and Christians is that the law is unnecessary for those who are truly seeking to understand and obey the sound doctrine of the gospel! I once heard someone say (I think it was Mike Warnke many years ago) that as a Christian, you don't not do the 'don't's, you choose to do the 'do's! That's why (and functionally how) the law isn't for those who are righteous. When we seek to glorify God, we won't be doing the unrighteous things the law addresses! We will want to seek purity and holiness because that's what gives God glory.
If you're having a hard time giving up the sins of the past, try focusing on God instead of trying to get rid of the past. The more you fill your life with God, the less the law will be necessary!

Friday, September 2, 2011

The Military Moving Mentality

I spent a good portion of my adult life in the military or as a military spouse. I thought I had learned the art of moving, but I've discovered that's not true. Sure I moved a lot, but I never had to pay for the moves! I didn't even have to do most of the work. I just got rid of some stuff (not much) and stepped back and let the movers have their way.
Since getting out of the Army, I've discovered that when you're paying for shipping yourself you're a lot more discriminating about what to keep, what to sell and what to give away. I've also discovered that the farther away you're moving, the more you're going to finally decide that you just don't really need that ... whatever it is you think you need.
On the other hand, how much are you going to pay to replace truly useful items if you get rid of too many things? Take the kitchen for example. Just because you only bake pies two or three times a year doesn't mean you should get rid of your good pie tins. Are you really going to be able to find quality replacements at a thrift store or yard sale, or are you going to go to a 'discount' store and pay retail price to get new tins?
Decisions, decisions, decisions.
Some of us need to start making some decisions about the baggage of our lives too.
For a long time I had the 'military moving mentality' about life. It wasn't costing me anything to lug around the baggage of my past so I wasn't thinking about what I kept. It was easier to just let the Accuser come in, pack everything up and ship it for me whenever I tried to make a real change. Because I started leaving some things in boxes so I didn't even see them, I thought I was doing pretty good. I thought I was learning the art of 'moving' toward being Christ-like.
I was wrong. I had to start opening up those boxes and examining the contents for value. I dragged over a dumpster and threw a whole lot of things out for the garbage man. My keeper pile was pretty small. Some of it, like my failed marriages, I had to clean up and snip here and there in an attempt to learn lessons about what I'd done wrong. Surprisingly enough, all the ugly stuff in my past, when I really looked at it, prayerfully and with God's eyes instead of just my own, I saw a gem in the center. And I mean all the ugly stuff! No exceptions!
I've still got a few boxes left to unpack. I'm unpacking them in God's time, but I am determined that I will unpack them! I won't quit until I've found every gem I can and dumped all the rubbish.
How about you? Have you been living life with a military moving mentality? Are you ready for a real change?