Thursday, May 31, 2012

Duct Tape Shoes

The other day, Fred and I went for a walk and as we were walking Fred looked down at my shoes. I say shoes because I don't wear sneakers but these were sort of sneaker/shoes, good shoes for walking that is. Well, these shoes had a big rip across the top and Fred wanted to know why I didn't throw them out. I told him that they were my best most comfortable walking shoes and, yes I did have some others but, I was hoping to use these as long as I could. Besides, new shoes would just cause me blisters at first and I didn't want to break in new shoes. I decided that duct tape would be the best thing to close the rip. You can fix everything with duct tape, right? However, looks are important to me, yes vanity, and so I tried to put the duct tape on the inside of my sneaker/shoe. By the time I got home my foot and toes were all glued together with the tape but the rip remained open, perhaps a little wider than before. I still haven't thrown the shoes away, don't tell Fred, smile... We do the same in our spiritual life, we keep the past because it feels warm and comfortable. Walking around in our old shoes/old life, we worry our rips and tears will open up and expose our heart. While all the time we are stuck and unable to walk properly. Jesus came to give us new shoes, new ways to walk out our new life. We don't need to keep the old but step into the new. One day when I was about 16 years old, I was folding towels and putting them into the cupboard. We had just moved and so the bathroom shelves were different from what I was used to. My mom had told me to fold the towels a certain way to fit the new shelves but, my 16 year old brain said, fold them the fastest way you can and get the job done. Of course I folded them the old way and they didn't fit the cabinet. When my mom asked me why I didn't fold them the way she had told me to, I said I had forgotten. Then she said, "What's wrong, can't teach an old dog new tricks?". At 16 I wasn't old so I got her point. I could learn to fold the towels right. In our mind, we think we can't learn how to live our life differently. Old habits are hard to break and sometimes it's easier to just walk around in our old shoes/folding towels the same way that we always did. Walking in our old life we carry things like sorrow, anger, frustration and unforgiveness, because we have always walked in these things. We think that it is too hard to change. Past emotions feel comfortable because they are familiar and we are afraid of change. At the same time we are afraid of exposure. We think if someone saw what we were really like on the inside they would know we aren't who they think we are. So we invent ways to hide and protect ourselves, never walking in the freedom Salvation gives. Jesus came to give us a new life and our old shoes don't fit our new feet. We aren't old, we are new. Our old thoughts and emotions don't fit us any more. We can learn new ways of living, thinking and relating. It isn't too hard to change, after all Jesus paid for our change. Walking everyday in our new life, Jesus gives us the power to change who we were into who he created us to be. After all duct tape doesn't fix everything.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Just Ask

We went to a very nice restaurant for Mother's Day. It was one of those lovely old buildings where the ambiance was almost as good as the food. It just so happened that we were late making reservations and since our group was rather large, we ended up being the very last group to be served dinner. As we were leaving, the waiters and waitresses were cleaning up. Just as I rounded a corner, I saw a young man pick up a large basket of muffins and rolls. I could hardly believe my eyes. He was about to dump the whole basket in the garbage. Before I could stop myself, I said, "Hey! Don't do that. You can't just throw all of that away! Can I have it? ". I told them that I had a lot of people in my house. Which is true. Ten minutes later I was leaving with two big boxes of goodies. I began to think about all of those yummy pastries being dumped in the trash and how easy it would have been to just walk away. If I had not asked, that waiter would have just gone on cleaning and trashing food. However as soon as he heard me ask for them, he gladly gave me two big take-out boxes. I filled them so high the boxes didn't even close. The Bible says that we have not because we ask not. If I hadn't asked, I wouldn't have gotten even one muffin. We need to speak up and ask. In the next few days, spend some time asking God to meet your needs. Be specific. Can you just imagine all of the blessings you are walking by, never receiving, because you didn't think to ask? It is true that we shouldn't fill our prayers with an endless shopping list, however the opposite is also true. How foolish it is to go without, never asking God to help. A few months ago a very dear friend said to me, "If I ever find out that you have a need and you didn't tell me, I'm going to be very angry". I got the message. If I have a need that isn't being met, I'm going to call my friend. Wouldn't God feel the same way? Our loving Heavenly Father is longing to meet our needs. He is faithful even when we don't ask. How much more is he willing to provide when we do ask. I have no doubt that He will fulfill His promise, to meet our needs and do abundantly above all we could ask or think. Ephesians 3:20 "Now to him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us," KJV

Friday, May 11, 2012

No Condemnation

Romans 8:1 says, that there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus. If this is so then we need to live like those who are not condemned. Those who go to jail after committing a crime are condemned. However Jesus has paid our debt and we don't have to go to a spiritual jail. There is no condemnation for us. Even as I write I hear the Spirit of the Lord say, "Just what part of NO don't you understand?" It's like we have made judgements upon ourselves. We condemn ourselves and feel unworthy, worthless, sad, and rejected. We put ourselves in a "time out" feeling like we need to punish ourself. We feel guilty and sad. Today! Jesus is saying, "There is NO condemnation!" I was thinking about the ways that Jesus carried our sin. He was in all ways tempted like we are. He was lonely as he prayed in the garden alone. He was sad when his friend Lazarus died. Depressed, yes he was depressed. He was so depressed that he cried great drops of blood just thinking about his future. He was all of those things and yet he did not sin. However when we feel those same emotions we feel condemned. Why is that? Feelings are not sin, it's what you do with those feelings that becomes sin. The Bible tells us to be angry and sin not. What was that? We can be angry? Wouldn't that be the same for any emotion? Be sad and sin not. Be frustrated and sin not. Be depressed and sin not. Remember there is NO condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. We all struggle with feelings and we condemn ourselves for those feelings. Jesus is asking us today, "What part of NO do you not understand? There is NO condemnation for you. I took all the condemnation. I took it all so you don't have to!". My friends, feelings come and feelings go. Have you ever watched a movie and in the time-frame of a 2 hour movie, you have felt stress, sorrow, happiness and contentment. All of these feelings came and went in a matter of minutes. Like I said they come and go. Feelings indicate to us what kind of battle we are fighting. If you are sad. Take some happy Bible verses and read, and re-read them until your feelings change. If you are stressed, read calming Bible verses, play some worship music, do something that can help change your stress into your strength. If you are depressed, get up and do something for someone else. Take control of your feelings and make them obedient to you. Sin comes when we allow feelings to have lordship over us and dictate our actions. Don't allow your feelings to control your life! What part of NO don't you understand? :)

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Putting Out Fires

I'm going to tell you all something that I am sure will bring many comments in regards to my stupidity...what can I say....yesterday was not my best cooking day. It all started when Marie-Louise wanted me to fry some plantains for her. Well... I do hate deep frying, but I said I would do it for her. I was in a hurry, mistake #1...never fry in a hurry, so I poured the oil in a smaller-than-usual sauce pan and dumped in the plantains, mistake #2. The oil sloshed over the pot and flames licked up the side of my pan. This wouldn't be so bad if I had a gas stove but no, I have an electric stove and you are not supposed to have flames coming from the coil. So I reached into my cupboard to get my baking soda. I grabbed the first white powder I saw in my cupboard and dumped several cups of corn starch onto my fire....then I put a big lid over the fire and waited for it to was I supposed to know that corn starch burns. As soon as I picked up the lid I saw that the fire was burning along quite nicely, that is if you wanted to roast hot dogs. Since I don't like grilled hotdogs, I went in search for some baking soda and dumped almost a whole box on the fire. Replacing the lid, I decided that I would put the pan on another burner. I turned on the back burner forgetting the fact that I had lost several pieces of macaroni under that coil. I case any of you have a need to know, macaroni will also burst into flames when under a pot of oil. I still had some baking soda left and so I dumped the rest on that burner and covered it with my now blackened lid. I don't get very uptight nor do I freak out..I just went from fire to fire, while Hannah sat watching my comedy of errors. Clean up was much for cooking those plantains in a hurry. I have pondered over this for the last several hours and I got to thinking about how we often spend our life putting out fires. Going from problem to problem we try to put out the flames only to have them burst out again and again. We pour out some prayer, douse the situation with some quick praise and worship and then to our surprise the fire just comes back. My cooking fire was not the fault of the plantains or even the oil. No it was my fault. I was in a hurry. I didn't use the right size pan. I hadn't cleaned out my drip pan under the electric coil. That's right, the fault was all mine. Nothing would have happened if I had slowed down long enough to do the job right. Our life is much the same. We get so busy that we don't spend time meditating on God's word. We don't take the time to clean out the old gunk lurking in our heart after the last spiritual attack we tackled. Weary and stressed we go from day to day wondering why the fire follows us. One time while on a mission trip, I was shopping with my daughter. The person arranging my schedule had just changed all the plans without telling me. To say the least, I was miffed. Marie-Louise and I had had a great day when all of a sudden I snapped at her for wanting to buy another shirt. "You don't need another have spent enough money already!" My irritation and biting remarks caused a look of confusion on her face. After all it was her money and she had earned all of it just for this shopping trip. Why did I care? Then I realized, I was mad because of the change of schedule not because of Marie-Louise. I quickly apologized. Then I made a conscience decision to forgive the person changing my plans. I had to ask God to do a work in my heart. I had to take the time to do it right! It wasn't my daughters fault, it wasn't even the fault of the friend who had changed my schedule. My anger was my fault and I needed to do some quick house/heart cleaning. I don't know if you have noticed this or not, but in my life, these little fires pop up when I least expect them. Blaming others for our frustration we often wonder why we can't seem to shake feelings of irritation, anger even fatigue. I guess it just all boils down to this one thing, take the time to do it right. Take the time to really forgive. Take the time to make a real apology. Take the time to meditate on God's word. Take the time to pray and get the old gunk out. Take the time to do it right. You don't want to spend your life putting out fires. I know that I don't!