What Is A Christian?

Notre Dame Cathedral

(FreeImages.com/ElizabethDorsett)

I identify as being a Christian and so do many of my friends and family members, but what does it mean to be a Christian?

What does it mean to be a Christian?

Does it mean one who does good works, seeks social justice for all, and dedicates their life to serving others?

Does it mean following rituals, traditions, and specific orders within the church?

Does it mean disassociating oneself from mainstream “Christianity” and following your own “simpler” form of “worship”?

Does it mean preaching at everyone you meet?

Does it mean living as free from obvious sinful practices and associations as possible?

Is Christianity about what we do?

What does the name Christian actually mean?  It means little Christ.

In other words, it means a follower, family member, representative of Christ.  Simply, it’s one who believes in Jesus and as a believer in Jesus follows and represents Jesus to others.

2 Corinthians 4:5

For we do not preach ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord, and ourselves your bond-servants for Jesus’ sake.

The above verse talks about what Christians do.

As Christians, it’s easy to confuse what should be a product of being a Christian as defining what a Christian is.  In itself, this doesn’t sound bad, but it is dangerous if you define who you are by what you do.

Rather, who we are should define what we do.  Stay with me…  I will try to explain this a little better.

Why is this dangerous?

It is dangerous because you can confuse Christianity as being about what we do rather than about our relationship with God.  We can do things that define a Christian without actually ever coming close to God Himself and facing what we believe about Him.

You see, Christianity is truly about what we believe about Jesus Christ/God HimselfUntil we face that question, we actually are not true Christians.  We may be religious and morally upright or socially just but can still be lacking an intimate walk with the Lord.

In fact, we can hide behind our religious practices, traditions, social work, moral uprightness, equality, and tolerance to avoid facing the ultimate question: “What do you believe about Me?” 

Self-righteousness is the ultimate expression of selfishness and pride.  Rebellion hides within its folds. 

I am not advocating ignoring how we live or abandoning all Christian traditions.  What I am challenging us to do is to examine our relationship with God and our belief in God. 

Church services, tithing generously, community service, religious books are not a legitimate substitute for a relationship with God Himself.  In fact, all of the trappings and practices of religion are simply an empty shell without the Spirit and Presence of God indwelling.

May I note that it is the empty shell that is the cause of why so many “Christian” youth are leaving the church in droves.  They saw the shell, but the shell crumbles under pressure and offers no sustenance to the spirit of man.

It is the Spirit of God and His love that fills a church body and His people with life-changing, soul-stirring, and spirit-reviving power!

Focusing all of our attention on the traditions or distinctions of our church practices can be an easy distraction from dealing with the pulse of an individual’s heart and relationship with God. 

We can focus so much attention on the distinctions that set us apart, on our ministries, programs, and stained glass windows that we forget that Christianity isn’t about “temple-gazing” but about “King-seeking” (words in quotes are taken from the Community Bible Study Mark Lesson 15 study).

Isaiah 29:13

13 Therefore the Lord said:

“Inasmuch as these people draw near with their mouths
And honor Me with their lips,
But have removed their hearts far from Me,
And their fear toward Me is taught by the commandment of men,

What a powerful exhortation that above verse is!

I would like to end with the following quotes taken from the Community Bible Study Mark Lesson 15 study.  In Mark 15, we were studying the Pharisees and religious leaders’ responses to Jesus.  In their day, they were the religious elite, the “righteous ones,” the rulers, and the compromisers with the local Roman government.  Yet, Jesus reveals the emptiness of the souls and spirits of these religious people.

In light of the following quote, may we all examine our hearts as to what we are truly pursuing under the title of “Christianity.”

“Is it possible to build a temple and forget the One it was intended to honor?  Had the religious community become so enamored of the temple and its traditions that they failed to see the King?

We, like those 1st-century Jews, must not put our trust in the trappings of our religion [or churches or programs].

…Buildings, programs, and traditions are important, but they are temporal.  God and His Kingdom are eternal.”

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This Is My Worth!

shadow

(FreeImages.com/HansWidmer)

The book lay open in my hands.  I had been given the privilege of reading for a few uninterrupted minutes, and the book I chose to read told the story of Jesus’ life, ministry on earth, and His death.  It was a story that I had read many times.  Yet, reading it again was like hearing it for the first time.  I read again about someone who lived so purely, so sacrificially, and so lovingly.  His humility was such a stark contrast to the showiness of the religious leaders and to those who sought Him for His works but not for Himself.  Yet, He gave and healed so freely, and what was given and done for Him?  A few rugged and uneducated men followed him, often bickering and then finally abandoning Him when it became dangerous and unpopular to follow Him.

Then, my mind’s eye could picture Him in all the gore of His beatings, the pain of the betrayals, but even more the weight of all the shame He bore.  Do you know how horrible it is when we needlessly carry the shame of our mistakes?  Yet, Jesus carried all of those horrendous sins — from Adolf Hitler to ISIS to the Ted Bundy’s of this world.  He carried every abuse, every lie, every lust, and there was no one to shoulder the burden for Him.  We don’t have to carry the weight of our sins, but He did.  He carried the crushing weight of EVERY. SINGLE. ONE. OF. THOSE. SINS.  Yes, EVERY. SINGLE. ONE!

And God, His perfect and incredibly loving Abba Father had to turn His back on His Son.  Jesus had never experienced that — ever.  We don’t understand that because God pursues each of us and loves us.  Yet, Jesus didHe experienced what it felt like to have to carry every last sin and carry it all upon Himself.  He carried all of that for me.  …for you.

Then, it struck me.  It struck me how incredibly I am loved!  Such a price was paid for me… for you!  It was a price of infinite worth!  The price paid was God Himself.  He gave His all.  He gave Himself.

Then, I realized this:

We don’t understand our worth because we don’t understand the depth and magnitude of the sacrifice He made for us.

I don’t deserve it.  I am absolutely humbled and incredibly grateful that God Himself gave His all to redeem me and to give me an inheritance with Him!

To be honest, I can’t wrap my mind completely around that thought.  It’s overwhelming!

As the truth of this sinks in, I raise my face, slick with tears, to look up, knowing He sees and hears me.  Into the holiness of the realization of Who He is, I whisper these simple words, “Thank you, Jesus!  Thank you!”

This is what it means to be His daughters and sons: it means to have infinite worth because an Infinite God loved me that much!

He gave His everything for me… for you!

Thank you, Jesus.

“Won’t You Open The Door?”

Knock Knock

(FreeImages.com/ricardo Santeugini)

I awoke early this morning, dreaming this:

There was a home-owner whose house was a mess. Dirty dishes were piling up. Laundry was in heaps. Floors and bathrooms were a mess…

A House-keeper came to his door because He knew the homeowner needed help. The House-keeper knocked. The home-owner called out from the peep-hole, “What do you want?”

The house-keeper told him, “I came to help get your house cleaned up. Can I come in?”

The home-owner said, “Well, I don’t know you. Besides, I saw a house that you own, and it was a mess. I am not sure I can trust you to get my house in order.”

The House-Keeper: “Really?” Which house?”

The home-owner: “The one the vandals broke into.”

The House-keeper: “Oh, that one. Well, the people living in that house decided that they didn’t want my help so they ‘kicked’ me off the deed. I am really sorry the vandals messed up their house, but that doesn’t reflect me.”

The home-owner: “Well, if you can’t take better care of a house you used to own, how can I believe you’ll take care of mine?”

The House-Keeper: “I take care of all the houses where the owners invite me to come in. I can fix your broken and run-down house, but you have to first let me in the door. I can’t promise that right now, you won’t have more dirty dishes or appliances breaking down. But, once you let me in, I will clean it up. I will show you how to keep your house in good repair. Oh, and someday, I have a very special mansion prepared for you, where thieves and vandals can never enter. It also never breaks down, never dirties, never gets disorderly. For now though, I want you to experience what it means to have me to help you. I want to teach you how to get your own house in order as you learn from me. On days, when life is too much, I will do it for you. But, you first have to open your door. Will you?”

Your Ministry Is Where Your Heart Is…

beach love

(FreeImages.com/sunshizzle)

This past Sunday was one of those “light-bulb” moments.

I was sitting in a gathering with many people, listening to a powerful testimony and under the truth-piercing Word of God.  My heart was being convicted — not in a shameful way but in a way that caused me to repent in order to receive from God.  I was being convicted of selfishness, pride, and self-seeking within my heart.

God had placed within my heart a calling to reach out to people and to share with them how God changes hearts and what it means to have an authentic and personal relationship with God.  The problem is that my calling had turned into self-seeking.  I was looking for a ministry out there, when the ministry was in front of my face.

On Sunday, it was a powerful moment when I recognized my pride, selfishness, and lack of faith.  Because of these soul issues, I was often unwilling to do the “scary” thing, to step out of my comfort zone, and reach out to others.

As soon as I repented of this, the “light-bulb”moment appeared.  I, all of a sudden, realized that God had placed His love in my heart for several strangers surrounding me, and those were my ministry.  I suddenly realized, that when I follow the love, my ministry will be found.  I know this may sound “cheesy,” but it’s the profound truth.

So often, we follow after a ministry, but instead, God wants us to follow after Him and to be so filled with His love for others that “ministry” is the natural by-product.

Ministry is where the love is.

Loving God through others is the ministry

God doesn’t call us to be in full-time ministry.  God calls us to love Him and to love Him by loving His people.

When you follow the heart of God, you will find the “ministry” He has in store for you.

This past Sunday that happened in a huge way for me, I began to reach out to strangers with whom I had fallen in love.  God led me to pray over a couple, their sick child, a young woman in a wheelchair, and other hurting people.  Why did I do this?  Because He gave me His heart for them.

So often, we get it so wrong!  We want the glory or this sense of purpose by doing things when God just calls us to give His heart to others.  Suddenly, the self-glory and the fear that holds us captive are no longer snares, and we are able to step out in joyful abandon, following Him.

There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love.

Luke 4:18

18 The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised,

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The Nature Of Our Relationship With God

Clouds of Glory

(http://www.freeimages.com/photo/clouds-of-glory-1386569)

What is the nature of our relationship with God?

Is it active — what we do for God?

Is it passive — He does it all in us and uses us without any response on our parts?

I believe it’s a responsive relationship.

God invites; I respond.

God convicts: I repent.

God forgives; I am set free!

God inspires; I live it.

God speaks; I listen.

I speak; God listens.

I request; God answers.

I obey; God empowers and blesses.

I “hunger”; God fills.

I surrender; God’s uses me.

How Our Worship Might Change…

(http://www.freeimages.com/photo/enlightened-praise-1409297)

I have been considering the concept of worship a lot lately.

True worship is incredibly beautiful!

Worship is also a very important part of our relationship with God.

Worship fulfills our purpose in life, which is to worship God.

Worship helps to “re-align” ourselves with God (brings us into submission/surrender to Him).

Worship brings us into fellowship with God.

For all of its significance in the Christian’s life, it is amazing how little we really practice true worship.

I believe that a lot of what we think is worshipping God is more our own words, formats, and programs.  Let me explain…

A couple of weeks ago this so struck me.  I was pondering how we come to “worship meetings” with our “cups” already filled with our own thoughts concerning God.  In other words, we look at Scripture from our perspectives and pull out of it what we think “worship” should sound like or look like.  We then bring our thoughts and present it as worship to God.

I believe we often come to “worship” God with our “vessels” already filled with ourselves — what we think sounds “worshipful”?

What if instead, we spent quiet time alone with God, simply “resting” in His Presence, listening to Him, seeking Him in His Word, and waiting for Him to fill us with His thoughts, desires, and Presence?

What if we, from the outpouring of abiding in His Presence and His filling us with His Words and excellencies, then proclaimed this in heart-felt response to Who He is?  Wouldn’t the “flavor” or “tone” of our worship be more authentic and be what truly glorifies God — rather glorifying our own words?

Matthew 15:9

And in vain they worship Me,
Teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’ ”[a]

Mark 7:7

And in vain they worship Me,
Teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’[a]

John 4:23

23 But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him.

John 4:24

24 God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.”

 

Finding Satisfaction

Further HDR fisheye shots from B�¡rr�¡s. I was crazy enough to carry a full-size tripod there along with my lens arsenal (I'm happy that these shots turned out decent, as the extra weight was really a bitch to carry). B�¡rr��...

(Free stock photo: http://www.everystockphoto.com/photo.php?imageId=659478&searchId=6cad826248cd3f4e93da71e7b49928e3&npos=9.)

We are only two weeks into the new year, and my thoughts have been on goals, hopes, and dreams.

A new year frequently spurs people on a new trajectory or encourages new momentum on a recurring goal.

Yet when I pondered all the dreams, hopes, and goals we have as humans, I couldn’t help but think that they all point to the same end…

I remember as a girl, having dreams of being the object of a wonderful man’s love and desire.  A beautiful wedding. Marriage.  Babies.  It all sounded so wonderful!

Being mommy meant chubby cheeks, blowing kisses, hearing “Mama”, and getting slobbery kisses.  I pictured all the cuteness and thought that I would be the “perfect” mom and my kids would be little images of “perfection.”  Why not?  No one dreams about the messes, temper tantrums, and sleepless nights.

We have other hopes and dreams too.  Traveling.  Physical fitness.  A bigger house.  Pretty things.  For women, we might think new additions to our wardrobe will make the difference.

All of these things satisfy for a time so we will often return to the things that satisfied us before in order to keep the sense of euphoria going.

This is the origin of many mid-life crises.  The old is no longer as exciting so we look for a newer, younger, more passionate version.

The old house is no longer as “big” and appealing as it was at first so we look for a bigger, more extravagant home.

Our home town is not the exotic center for excitement so we travel to destinations in distant locations.

Most of these things are fine in themselves.  The problem is when we are chasing after these things in order to either “run from” the things that intimidate us or when we are pursuing these things in order to find a lasting sense of “being”or satisfaction and joy.

As a woman, I have been guilty of ever so often wanting to shop for new additions to my wardrobe or a few new items to decorate my home in order to give me a sense of happiness.  The issue is not with the items; the issue is my desired outcome: happiness from these things.

The truth is beauty fades, strong muscles atrophy into frailty, our health gives out eventually, relationships take work and commitment, clothing wears and so do homes, styles come and go, “familiarity breeds contempt,” the kids grow up and leave the nest, spouses age and eventually die. At some point, it all ends or diminishes.

Nothing in this life is permanent.

It is a grim picture, but it’s not when you find something that is eternal and completely satisfying.

The one thing that remains eternal and transcends the earthly is the supernatural.  This is why there is within us all a desire for something greater, eternal, supernatural.  We all want to know that at some point, we will finally reach a place where we can find “rest,” permanent satisfaction, and joy.

I believe that place is what God promises in the Bible as our eternal and final dwelling: a place with Him.

What comfort it is to know that we can dream, anticipate, and hope for something that is assured to all those who believe and receive this gift.  It is the gift of salvation, the gift of son-ship and daughter-ship, the gift of eternal life, the gift of lasting peace, the gift of victory…

May 2016 be a year where we look not to the temporal to satisfy the eternal longings and needs of our souls.  May it be a year where we discover or persevere in an unshakable faith in an eternal inheritance of life, love, peace, and joy, found in Jesus Christ.

Romans 10:9-11

that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. 11 For the Scripture says, “Whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame.”[a]

Romans 5:21

21 so that as sin reigned in death, even so grace might reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

1 John 2:25

25 And this is the promise that He has promised us—eternal life.

1 John 5:11

11 And this is the testimony: that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son.

1 John 5:13

13 These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life,[a] and that you may continue to believe in the name of the Son of God.

Revelation 21:1-6

All Things Made New

21 Now I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away. Also there was no more sea. Then I, John,[a] saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.”

Then He who sat on the throne said, “Behold, I make all things new.” And He said to me,[b] “Write, for these words are true and faithful.”

And He said to me, “It is done![c] I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. I will give of the fountain of the water of life freely to him who thirsts.

Finding The Real Deal This Year

My Prrrreeeciousssss... 
*LOL*

Foto que eu fiz para uma campanha publicitária para o mês dos namorados.

<i>Photo I took for an advertisement at Valentine's Day</i>

(http://www.everystockphoto.com/photo.php?imageId=10728&searchId=449de323485c7ad045f6af2e284cd81b&npos=20)

 

This short story is taken from The Pearl by Angela Hunt:

“There was once a king who had three sons.  He also had one ring of pure gold.  Concerned about rivalry among his sons after his death, he had two rings fashioned from false gold and upon his deathbed, he ordered his wise men to give the three rings to his sons.  Calling his sons near, he told them the truth: one ring was real, two were false, but the person with the pure ring would always be kind, good, and blessed of God…

All three sons strove to be kind and good because each of them wanted the people to believe he had been blessed with the real ring.

…Anyone who practices good will be regarded as good by those who can’t see the secrets of the human heart … But all the good in the world won’t change the truth — only one son had the real ring.  The other two were living a lie.  Think about it.”

Matthew 13:45-46

The Parable of the Pearl of Great Price

45 “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant seeking beautiful pearls, 46 who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had and bought it.

Speaking The Truth In Love

IMG_2344

I recently wrote two different blogs on the topic of bullying: “Christian Bullying” and “The Bully In The Closet”.  As I asked some friends for their in-put concerning the blogs, one friend raised a question that had been weighing on my heart/mind as well.  She asked, “When do we speak truth?”

The purpose of this blog is an attempt to address the other part of the equation when it comes to handling matters of disagreement or error in relationships.

“Is it okay to speak truth?”

“When is it okay to speak ‘truth’ to one another?”

“How should we speak truth to one another?”

I am not a pastor or Bible scholar so I am not the most qualified person to address these issues.  I am sure there are those much more gifted and qualified to address this topic.

For those who can wade through “murkier” waters, here are some thoughts…

[I am going to try to keep my thoughts succinct because my husband tells me my blogs are too long.  :-)]

To answer the question, “Is it okay to speak truth?”, I looked up a number of verses in the Bible in reference to truth:

John 14:6

Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but through Me.

John 8:32

and you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”

John 16:13

“But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come.

The Bible establishes that there is truth.  We can believe and live according to the clear guidance of Truth. 

The Bible also makes it clear that deception is prevalent and easy to believe.

The key to knowing the Truth is to listen to the Spirit.  The Holy Spirit will guide us into truth.  God’s Word will speak Truth, and the Holy Spirit will help us to understand the Truth.

Can Christians be deceived?  Yes!  We live still in sinful bodies so naturally at times we will revert to our sinful nature instead of walking in the control of the Holy Spirit.

The first priority of order is for us to be led by the Holy Spirit in discerning truth.  We need to be spending our time studying and searching the Scriptures so we understand truth.  If truth comes from God, we must know what God says.

In order to accurately know truth, we have to determine to seek the truth regardless of the result(s).  We cannot try to fit the Scriptures around our own personal beliefs and opinions.

So, “When is it okay to speak ‘truth’ to one another?”

Just as we must be led by the Spirit to discern truth, so we must be led by the Spirit to speak it.  Christians are to be “Spirit-led” or “Spirit-controlled.”  So often, we allow the flesh to control us and wonder why we get fleshly responses or reactions to our words. 

John 6:63 – It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, [they] are spirit, and [they] are life.

“Darkness” is the diminishing or absence of light, depending on where you live.  There is a “reaction” when light enters a dark room.  The darkness disappears and everything that was unclear is illuminated.

When truth is spoken, there will be a response.  The key is to make sure the response is not a reaction to our own attempts to confront a “problem” that we see.

Many times, there is a negative reaction between Christians.  There are several possible reasons for this:

One, the individual speaking the “truth” is not waiting on God’s guidance and timing so the hearer is not prepared to receive the truth at that time.

Two, the individual hearing the truth has hardened their heart and will not receive the truth.

Jeremiah 18:12

“But they will say, `It’s hopeless! For we are going to follow our own plans, and each of us will act according to the stubbornness of his evil heart.’

– See more at: http://bible.knowing-jesus.com/topics/Hardened-Hearts#sthash.mPrppzDP.dpuf

Mark 8:17 – And when Jesus knew [it], he saith unto them, Why reason ye, because ye have no bread? perceive ye not yet, neither understand? have ye your heart yet hardened?

Proverbs 29:1 (Viewing the King James Version. Click to switch to 1611 King James Version of Proverbs 29:1.): He, that being often reproved hardeneth his neck, shall suddenly be destroyed, and that without remedy.

Three, the manner in which truth was spoken was incorrect.
Ephesians 4:15 – But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, [even] Christ:
1 Corinthians 13:1-13 – Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become [as] sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.   (Read More…)
Fourth, truth was spoken in the wrong context.  This “context” does not refer to word context but to relational context.  Sometimes, God is asking us first to establish a relationship with the person before we ever attempt to speak “truth”.

Proverbs 27:6 (KJV): Faithful are the wounds of a friend; but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful.

No person should tell another individual what they must say and when they must say it.  Only the Holy Spirit should direct.  If the Holy Spirit isn’t leading and speaking through us, our efforts are vain and pointless.  Only the Holy Spirit can convict and change hearts and lives.

If we see error and wonder if we should confront it, we should keep in mind these guidelines:

“Is it clearly stated in Scripture?”

“Is God clearly prompting us to speak or share these truths?”

“Is God showing us it’s the right timing?”

“What is our motivation for speaking?”

“Do we have the right relationship with this person to speak truth?”

“What is the manner with which we are speaking truth?”

The goal in speaking truth should stem from love for that person and a desire to see them walk in the freedom of truth. 

Jesus loved His enemies and died for them!  The least we can do is love our fellow sinners and show them Jesus’ love.

Ephesians 4:15 (New King James Version)

“But, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ—”

The Bully In The Closet

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There’s a lot of interest right now in the topic of “bullying.”  In fact, I recently wrote an article on “Christian Bullying” that got a lot of attention.

Sometimes though, it is so easy to focus on the wrongs among the people “out there” rather than the wrongs within ourselves.

This time, the magnifying glass may need to come a little closer to home.

As I wrote the article on “Christian Bullying,” I found myself re-evaluating my own personal actions and attitudes within my home.  I didn’t want to write about a topic about which I myself might be guilty.

There will be times when we will all struggle with the more “common” sins.  A question to be asked is: “Is this sinful attitude present in my heart?” 

If the answer is yes, I need to confess this before the Lord and to truly repent, which means to change the way in which I was going.

The root attitudes behind bullying are pride and fear.  Both of these sinful heart attitudes are very common and at the root of most sins.  Perhaps even all sins. 

Pride and fear work together.  They stem from the same lie.

Since both pride and fear are very common sinful attitudes, it’s a VERY good chance that those same sinful attitudes are prevalent in our own hearts and influence our own actions from time-to-time.

As I allowed God’s Holy Spirit to reveal my own attitudes to me, I began to see more clearly that “bullying” can be a lot closer to home than I might want to admit. 

I began to hear God’s “quiet voice” (Holy Spirit) speaking to my heart to reveal that I need to be cleaning out my own “closets”, “pantries”, and “sock drawers.” 

It’s easy for us to be so busy pointing out the flaws in our husbands, kids, relatives, and other Christians that we avoid looking at our own personal wrong attitudes and wrong actions.

Why do we shy away from that which is uncomfortable?  Fear? 

Why do we fear God’s “scalpel” that seeks to remove all the “dead growth” in our lives, all the “infectious wounds” from past hurts and lies?  Again, is it because we fear our wrong version of God?  Do we think that by admitting our sin(s), we will be forever condemned?

God knows of our sins.  He is All-Knowing!

Isn’t that the definition of “God” — that He is the most Powerful and All-Knowing Being?  If He knows about our sins already, how does our attempts to hide them help our case at all? 

Adam and Eve tried to hide from God in the Garden of Eden.  When they sinned for the first time, they discovered that the “knowing”, Satan (in the snake) promised, was a crushing awareness and personal acquaintance with their own sin.  They “knew” what sin is and the debilitating guilt and fear that accompanies it. 

Adam and Eve had sought life outside of God and found death instead.

God had given them every tree in the Garden of Eden to eat, including the Tree of Life, EXCEPT for the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.

Just like the rest of humanity is often guilty of, Adam and Eve chose to eat the one thing they were told not to eat.  They chose to find “life” outside of God. 

Adam and Eve had disconnected themselves from their true Source of Life and had instead looked to the Knowledge of Good and Evil as its source. 

So much of “religion” stems from that same tree“Religion” is often about trying to find our “spiritual life” from a knowledge of good and evil.  That knowledge will either lead us to personally feeling condemned and living in fear, or it will lead to a proud and/or judgmental attitude — that we are better than those around us or that we are our own source of defining what is good and not good.  The roots are the same.

When Adam and Eve sinned, everything changed!  Their world changed.  Death entered.  Their fellowship with God was hurt.

Then Jesus came.

God’s plan was to send a Savior to fix the problems that started when sin first entered.  

The Savior would connect man back into the True Source of Life (an intimate relationship with God Himself) and would work to separate man from his false “roots” of security (Knowledge of Good & Evil).

The Savior would neither leave the sinner condemned nor condone the “weeds” of sin but would work to replace fear with peace and faith, to replace pride with delighting in God’s character and who we are in Him.

Neither pride nor fear can be present when we are walking in an intimate relationship and understanding of God and Who He is and Who we are in Him.

There is no room for condemning others when we truly understand Who God is.  There is no room for fear when we personally know God.

Fear and pride come when we are disconnected from God — when we seek to find “life” outside of God.

We hang onto these “rags” when God wants to give us the richness of His grace!

Those bullies in our closet, those rags in our drawers, those dirt piles in our corners … let’s open the doors and the drawers and turn on the lights.  It’s time we stopped trying to hide and cover our shame and allow God to purify and heal us from the inside out! 

God’s plan was never to leave us hidden in the dark or to leave us condemned by our own guilt.  His plan was always to reconnect us to our True Source of Life! 

As we are “connected” to Life, we can become a true “channel” to the world around us for God’s love and light to flow. 

“How I praise Thee, precious Saviour,
That Thy love laid hold of me;
Thou hast saved and cleansed and filled me
That I might Thy channel be.

“Channels only, blessèd Master,
But with all Thy wondrous power
Flowing through us, Thou canst use us
Every day and every hour.

“Just a channel full of blessing,
To the thirsty hearts around;
To tell out Thy full salvation
All Thy loving message sound.

“Emptied that Thou shouldest fill me,
A clean vessel in Thy hand;
With no power but as Thou givest
Graciously with each command.”

By Mary Maxwell