Unbridled Passions

We’ve all been there. Perhaps it’s late at night or in the middle of the day: that craving for a decadent dessert. As we try to resist, the coveting intensifies – it’s as if we could almost taste the sweet goodness on our tongues! In my own diets I’ve discovered it’s not just the dessert I miss but the unbridled passion of loosening all restrictions and just diving in to a bowl of sweet abandonment and worry. It’s (temporarily) a relief and a respite from all my problems. It creates a feeling like nothing else.

But what if I told you that very feeling we pine for so was actually never supposed to have been felt to begin with? If gluttony isn’t your specific temptation, you can substitute it with your particular hang up. Does self pride push you? Do passing glances from someone other than your spouse make you crave more? Left CHECKED, all these issues aren’t more than a mere annoyance. But unbridled? They can lead to effects that rival death. Just ask King David.

The problem with unbridled passions is they always lead to feelings we were never supposed to know. And then what? Those passions leave us wanting what we were never meant to have. The pursuit of (or the fight against) the forbidden fruit has begun, an endless cycle of wanting and feeding or wanting and starving has begun. Pandora’s box has been unleashed.

“So what then?” you might ask. “How does that help?” Just KNOWING the very thing or feeling that we find ourselves craving we were never supposed to know helps us keep our perspective. “Yes, this feels overwhelming because that is something I was never supposed to feel/know” helps us keep our balance. It serves as a spiritual boundary line. So, what do we do? Well, what would we do if we were a child with a burden too heavy? Yes, we would ask our Father or a friend for help. Friend, our heavenly Father is not surprised when we struggle. As a matter of fact, He stands ready and waiting to help us – sometimes through angels and fellow believers to help us lift our load. A simple, “Father, this is too much for me. Please send help,” prayer is all we need to get the ball rolling. Even though we might not see the earth shake or the lightning shake, this simple request sets forth a spiritual battle in our favor. As in 2 Kings 6 when Elisha asked the Lord to open the man’s eyes so he could see all the fiery hosts of heaven surrounding them, so we too have the same. So many times we feel we should not ask for anything. “God is too busy,” or “This isn’t that important,” we might think. But God is not human, friend. God is God! He is infinitely more than we can even imagine! He longs to hear it all! So give it to Him – test Him in these areas and see if He doesn’t open the floodgates ot protection and mercy! He stands ready. All we have to do is ask.

The Outcasts

When we think of Christianity and our place in it, we like to think of titles like “child of God” or maybe “royal priesthood” – both of which are accurate. But there are other terms we don’t readily mention: stranger, foreigner, outcast. In our post-cross & restoration movement culture, we fail to remember that WE were the ones “afar off” who, by God’s loving kindness and mercy, were grafted into the line of Abraham. Ephesians 2:11-22 says:

11 Therefore, remember that formerlyyou who are Gentiles by birth and called “uncircumcised” by those who call themselves “the circumcision” (which is done in the body by human hands)— 12 remember that at that time you were separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world. 13 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near by the blood of Christ.

14 For he himself is our peace, who has made the two groups one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, 15 by setting aside in his flesh the law with its commands and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new humanity out of the two, thus making peace, 16 and in one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility. 17 He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near. 18 For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit.

19 Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of his household, 20 built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. 21 In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. 22 And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.

Notice the terms here: “those who were far away,” “strangers,” “foreigners.” It is good to remember what we WERE so we may fully celebrate, now, what we ARE: “fellow citizens, royal priests, members of His household, his HOLY TEMPLE.” May we never forget our past – which brought with it certain death – so that we may praise Him all the more fully for His unmerited gift of grace and love! The ultimate Adoption!

Hidden Hints

I love how there seem to be “hidden hints” in the Bible that sometimes jump out. Christopher Columbus certainly knows about this. It was said that he believed the world was round based on a verse in Job. Recently, while reading about Joseph, a “hidden hint” popped out at me. Joseph had been summoned by Pharaoh to interpret his two puzzling dreams. After hearing the dreams, Joseph tells the King the meaning of the dreams then he says: (Genesis 41:32) “And the doubling of Pharaoh’s dream means that the thing is fixed by God, and God will shortly bring it about” HIDDEN HINT IN PLAIN SIGHT! We are told that the double dream signified confirmation and that it would happen swiftly. Good to remember when praying for answers/signs from above!

Sweet Submission

One of my favorite people of the Bible has become Jonathan. Jonathan and David were best of friends. So much so, in fact, we are told “their souls were knit together .” I’m sure they played together, hunted together and prayed together. They were inseparable. ..until one day they weren’t.

They were an odd match, David and Jonathan. You see, one would expect Jonathan to be the next King. Afterall, he was King Saul’s son. But years prior, it was DAVID, not Jonathan, who was chosen by God and anointed as the future King if Israel. Despite the fact that David was essentially “robbing” him of his rightful kingship, Jonathan not only ACCEPTED it, he LOVED David. He submitted to God’s will, even when it seemed detrimental to himself. He longed more for the will of God than his own position.

He didn’t have to be that way. His father, King Saul, is an excellent example of what he could have been: jealous. So jealous, in fact, it led to anger, paranoia and the death of 89 priests. You see, instead of embracing God’s decision and will, Saul rebelled against it. He became so enraged and intent on David’s demise that David had to flee the palace, never to see his bestie Jonathan ever again. Sin has a way of doing that – affecting others and everything around us.

My prayer has become to be a Jonathan. To trust God so fully that I can rejoice in my adversaries, and find rest with them at the table of trust. Where submission to His will replaces any second thoughts and makes the clouds of doubt roll away. To choose to find immense blessing when tempted to cling to a fake idea of control. By choosing sweet submission, Jonathan gained a friend closer than a brother instead of being consumed with envy, leading to unbridled paranoia, he gained a friendship to rival all friendships. Submission has been given a bad wrap lately, but when it’s to GOD’S will, you cannot lose.

Peace for Everyone

I remember when life was easy. When our only children loved school and were ahead of the curve and there had been no cancer or fatigue. That feels like a lifetime away. Cut to today where both littles hate school, we are constantly battling learning disabilities and fatigues. There’s never a moment I’m not worried about something or unhappy with situationally. It was during one of these “Whatever will become of us?!” Moments when I heard His voice speak to my heart:

“Peace is not only for the worry-less, my child. My peace I give to all.”

And that day, I claimed it. Peace is not merely for the folks who have it all together and all their kids are above average, healthy and college bound. Peace he gives to all, specifically the weak and heavy laden. In that moment I realized: anytime I choose to worry about futures or ANYTHING, I am making THAT an idol over God, because God has promised to take care of us.

Claim his blessing today, friend, of PEACE!

The Secret in Temptation

You can tell a lot about a person by what the devil chooses to tempt them with. Let’s look at Eve.

Eve gets a bad rap, but we can see through her temptation she believes God. She even goes so far as to lay an extra rule down when Satan asks her “Did God really say you cannot eat from every tree?” She tells him WHICH tree and then adds on “we cannot even TOUCH it”. I think this shows her deep commitment to make VERY CERTAIN she did not go anywhere NEAR the forbidden tree. When the devil realized He couldn’t trip her up on the KNOWLEDGE of the rules, he then went for the heart, telling her, amongst other things, that the fruit would “make her wise like God.” The devil had taken time to study her, to see what she prized. Perhaps she loved God so much, she wanted to be like Him (wise). The only problem? In her pursuit to be LIKE Him, she FORGOT Him. But we see from this temptation what tempted her was what meant a lot to her.

Jesus was no different. After fasting for 40 days, Satan tempted him with the best of the worst: food. This shows us that Jesus was both fully God and FULLY MAN. When that was unsuccessful, the devil once again moved from physical tempting to the heart: “IF you are the Son of God, throw yourself down from the temple”. This would be very tempting because it would SHOW THE WORLD who Jesus truly was – negating faith and the cross. Why was that so tempting to Jesus? BECAUSE HE LOVES US SO MUCH he desires us to be with Him. Let’s look at the final temptation: “Worship me and I will give you all the kingdoms of the world.” Think of that! No wars, no hunger, no abuses of powers…but no salvation either. That was tempting to Jesus because it would limit the suffering of people.

In 2/3 of the temptations, they were tempting because of US! Jesus love for US is the only thing left Satan had to tempt Jesus with – not riches for himself or esteem or ANYTHING for Jesus, himself – but US! In all the temptations US and OUR WELFARE was used. That shows what was truly most important to Jesus & why we can know how much He loves us so!

Idols came Tumbling Down

When God sent the plagues on Egypt, He did it specifically. He didn’t just randomly select “frogs” or “fleas.” No. Each plague He sent represented one of their false gods. When He turned the water to blood, He was overruling the false god of the Nile River (Hapi). When God sent the lice, He was toppling their god “Geb,” god of the Earth. He slowly knocked down “Nut – goddess of the sky, then “Seth – god of Storms”, then “Ra” and finally “pharaoh” by sending death. Similarly, we have recently experiences the toppling of OUR modern day idols: entertainment, self-sufficiency, convenience, comfort…the question lies before us that lay before Pharaoh: what are you going to do?

The Bible says you can know something by it’s fruits. During this time of “plague” we have had unhurried dinner every night, been more thankful for the food we find, communicated with our neighbors more, prayed at length daily, had at least one night a week of praise and music…quite honestly, it has been better. Not as comfortable or entertaining or least restrictive, but BETTER. This is not to say we LIKE why this came about (we ask daily for those afflicted to be healed) but I hope that the good that has come from this ordeal will be kept. What idol has toppled for you? How will you ensure it does not overtake you again?

Trust Matters

I love the miraculous stories in the Old Testament. The stories of the splitting of the Red Sea, the fiery furnace and the Egypt plagues always make me sit up and pay attention. One of my favorite ones is Daniel in the lions den. The reason Daniel got put in the lions den is, surprisingly, because he was FAITHFUL. You see, Daniel was about to be promoted and his peers were jealous, so they quickly devised a plan to get him out of the way. The only problem? Daniel was squeeky clean. “The only chance of finding grounds for accusing Daniel will be in connection with his religion,” the said. So, they presented the King with an idea that for thirty days people should only pray to him – no one else, divine or human. Anyone who did otherwise would be thrown into the lions’ den. The King gladly signed it into an irreversible law.

Daniel did not cringe in fear, or change his behavior. He continued to do as he had always done: immediately went home and knelt down with his windows open facing Jerusalem and prayed to God. Daniel’s enemies hurried to fib on Daniel. The King was heartbroken! His best and most trusted manager was now set to die. He spent the rest of the day personally looking for a way to get Daniel out of this sentence, to no avail. That night the men had Daniel put into the lions’ den. Before he went, the King actually prayed to God, saying, “May your God whom you worship continually, rescue you.” The King then fasted from food and entertainment, worrying about Daniel all night.

When the King rushed down to the lions’ den the next morning, he was overjoyed to find Daniel alive. Then we are told something important: “Not a scratch was found on Daniel because he had TRUSTED in his God.” Today we might call it “faith.” He had active, continual faith all night that God could and would protect him. And he did.’

The world scoffs at faith. The devil throws arrows of doubt to make you doubt faith. But here we see it, in large part, stayed the mouths of the lions and saved Daniel. Trust is not a “little thing,” no. Trust matters.

Brave Faith

Peter. Sweet Peter. We all seem to identify with him, don’t we? His fierce devotion mixes with wavering bravery at times to produce something we can only define as “human.” I am currently taking my favorite verses of the Bible and writing them in watercolor calligraphy for my children. One of my favorite verses ever is short, and a bit odd. John 21:7 says, “As soon as Peter heard Jesus was on shore…he jumped into the water.” I have a vision of Peter running, like Forrest Gump, off the boat to welcome his friend, Lieutenant Dan! But what makes the verse so memorable is what had happened before. You see, it was PETER who once bravely had the audacity to walk out onto the water with Jesus. It was he, and only he, who knew firsthand that his Jesus could both hold him and sustain him. So it is he, and only he, who jumps out of the boat again to run to the Savior he had just days before denied. Did he think the water would again be firm and sustain him, meeting him with firm footing? Or was he just excited to see his Savior? We don’t know. What we do know is the man who has enough faith to first get out of the boat will be the first one to try it again – because he knows first-hand, above all others, that his God is able! Oh, that we may share that same faith and walk bravely to Him!

The Hardest Part

They think chemo is the worst part. Or losing your hair. Or Stolen moments away from family. True, those are all heart breaking. But the hardest part of all is this: learning to live again.

My physical return to life has mirrored the mental and emotional struggle. Math and recipes I used to be able to do from memory are long gone, as is some motivation. And After the metal rod was put in my femur and somewhere in the middle of the chemo rounds, my husband and I went for a walk. I’d not been able to drive or go upstairs for about 6 months and I gotta say, the walk ended in tears. Around the time I got the diagnosis I had finally been able to jog for 3 miles and was planning to do a 5k. That day? We barely made it half a football field to the stop sign. It’s been 6 years now, and I finally got back on the elliptical again only to be met with the stats (below). It’s embarrassing. It’s disheartening. Most days you feel like “Why even bother?” It’s depressing.

And it’s also part of the process.

The hardest part is not falling. It’s learning to fly, not sure whether you’ll soar or go splat. It’s relearning how to do things. It’s doing things differently. It’s doing things slower – always with “how it USED to be” clouding your progress.

Today is day one. Here’s to all you “get up againers” and “try one mores!” You have my deepest respect!