New and Tidy

IMG_7323Summer is definitely over and we are well into the fall season. With temperatures at 29 this morning, frost is definitely on the pumpkin! I’m always glad to announce that the canning season is officially over! On Monday, my husband tilled the garden, pulled out the frost-wilted flowers and mowed were it was needed.  Now, as I look out my kitchen window, everything is neat and tidy—ready for the snow!

Neat and tidy…hmm. It made me wonder if my spiritual house matches my physical one. What does a “neat and tidy” spirit look like? Do you see any parallels, like…

  • Gathering the fruit of your labors and preserving them—How much time do I spend gleaning truths from God’s Word and storing them for later use by preserving them in my heart through memorization?
  • Tilling the ground—Tilly the rototiller chews up the dirt, loosening the clods and chopping up any left over, unwanted growth, turning them into fertilizer (sort of). Have I allowed the Lord access to my heart—going deeper than the surface which is what everyone else sees? Isn’t it wonderful that God can take all the unwanted weeds in our lives and turn them into something worthwhile? When we surrender our bad habits, wrong actions, words and attitudes, and other sins to God, He can use them to make us more aware the next time we struggle, fortifying us to bring forth more fruit!
  • Put out the dead flowers—Do you have any “dead” spots in your spirit—Jude called them “spots in your feast” and “clouds…without water” (Jude 1:12). Even though the passage is actually talking about lost folks, we can certainly apply it to areas in our lives where we are fruitless. Satan sends a chilly wind of opposition and our hearts grow cold. He sends temptations and our resolve withers and we yield. He whispers words of doubt and distrust and the chilling effects of fear freeze out God’s fiery Spirit, making us barren or stagnant.

It takes a lot of work to keep a place neat and tidy. It’s much easier to just ignore the weeds or faded paint.  It takes time and effort. So often, we just run out of time and can’t seem to get everything done! But when that starts to happen to our spiritual house, the consequences can be eternally disastrous!

Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled; Hebrew 12:15

This verse may be talking about roots of bitterness, but we can plug in any “weed” that we are struggling with and apply the results:

  1. We are troubled by whatever the sin. We may not want to call some of our bad habits sin. In fact, we are often accused of legalism if we even hint that unfaithfulness to church services is a sin. What is it that “troubles” your spirit in your life? What can YOU do about it?
  2. Many are defiled. This is such a frightening statement. Who will be affected by my lack of dedication, bad testimony, or hobby horse? Am I speaking the truth in my heart concerning my sin?

Do you see the remedy? “Looking diligently…” When we are diligent in our walk, the result is a neat and tidy testimony for our gracious Lord and Savior! I enjoy the compliments we get about our home and the way it looks and feels, but more than those compliments, I long to hear “Well done, thou good and faithful servant” when Jesus comes to call!

Excellent Health

bunch of white oval medication tablets and white medication capsules
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

I recently had my yearly check-up (which I try to stretch into two years!) and was asked to rate my health: excellent, good, fair, or poor. Hmm. It’s hard to give myself excellent in anything—that’s just how I’m wired, but as I talked with the nurse she assured me that it was OK! Then, after my exam, the doctor said that I was in excellent health! Really? Excellent? Well…

My biggest problem is my cholesterol at 241. 😦  I’ve struggled with it for the past several years and have been able to bring it down somewhat. I know that the numbers are to be @200, but I REALLY don’t want to be on medication already. So, for the past few months, I’ve worked to take off some weight and am taking Red Yeast Rice. The question is this: Is 241 an acceptable number and how can I say that my health is excellent with high cholesterol. (Oops! That’s two questions!)

Anyway, here are my thoughts: The doctor labeled my health as excellent because of all the other factors: don’t smoke, not diabetic, good eating habits, etc.. Now the question is, where do I go from here? Do I sit back and say, “I’ve made it! Excellent health!” and then stop exercising and eat doughnuts? For me, the report was a great blessing and it has encouraged me to work harder. I’ve hit one goal, so how about five more pounds.  What would that do for my cholesterol? How exciting!

What’s the point? Whether we are ministry leaders, parents, teachers, coaches, or leaders in the community, we need to remember to encourage those who look to us for leadership and example. If we continually say, “Well, it’s just not good enough,” our fellow believers, children, students, team members, etc. will become discouraged.  They may even quit or rebel against our leadership!

What kind of a leader are you? Can you give the truth without crushing the spirit? I believe the reason this scenario spoke so loudly to me is that for the last five or six years I have felt as though my numbers were never good enough.  I wanted to quit and yet I didn’t want to be foolish about my health. Can we look at the whole person and see where they are struggling and encourage them in their Christian walk without excusing sin? I believe we can and the secret ingredient is… the heart. Hmmm, I wonder if that is why “love” is the first attribute mentioned in the list of the fruit of the Spirit?

Tough Love—tough is the adjective, love is the all-important noun (in this case!)

And then there’s one last thought: What good is excellent health if my soul is unregenerate? I may live another 40 years! That would make me 99–29 more years than God prescribed for us in Psalm 90:10:

The days of our years are threescore years and ten; and if by reason of strength they be fourscore years, yet is their strength labour and sorrow; for it is soon cut off, and we fly away.

And so…

Having an “excellent” spirit is a hundred times more valuable than physical excellence in this world and the next!

 The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God. They are corrupt, they have done abominable works, there is none that doeth good. Psalm 14:1

Lessons from an Inchworm

I’m standing at the kitchen sink, watching an inchworm “inch” his way up through space. He’s about seven feet off the ground and has about that much more to go until he reaches the nearest branch. I moved away to do another task and came back in a few minutes surprised at his progress. It seems like a lot of work and if inchworms have abs, they are in six-pack condition! Once again I moved on and when I came back to the sink, he was gone!

Do you ever feel like that little fella—working your way through life, working as hard as you can and seeming to get nowhere? Progress can seem SO slow, especially in our Christian walk. We are a volunteer army, and, sadly, some of the performance approval ratings or faithfulness would earn some of us a pink slip! (Do they even have pink slips anymore?) We don’t see much progress in our walk with the LORD. The Christian walk seems so hard and lonely at times.  Our enemy seems so strong and victorious! Woe is me!

Does that remind you of any great hero in the Bible? Elijah had just seen God rain fire down upon his sacrifice. 450 false prophets were running for their lives, and yet just a threat from the wicked Jezebel and Elijah was on the run asking God to take his life. Perhaps Elijah thought that Jezebel would turn from her lifelong habit of wickedness after seeing the power of God. Maybe he was just plain tired. We don’t know, but we certainly can relate to his heart-weary cry.

Now, we do not have the advantages of seeing God rain fire from heaven, send our lunch via ravens, have angels speak to us and feed us food (which energizes us for forty days!), or witness God’s hand in earthquakes, fire,

and a still small voice. Does that make our God different or in any way weaker? Absolutely not because we serve the same God!!! We “hear” his voice as we read His Word.

TESTIMONY: This past Thursday, I had a Book Talk where I talk about my books. That morning, feeling much like Elijah, I said to my husband, “Ugh! Why can’t I just be a normal housewife?” He wondered the same thing! His life would certainly be easier—no hauling heavy books from place to place, scrambling for his own lunch, watching his wife struggle, etc.

I left him and went to do my devotions. This was the title of one particular devotional: What Will You Do With What You’ve Been Given? The biblical example was taken from Esther!  My first book is a modern-day Esther story! Was God speaking to me? ABSOLUTELY! Was I ready to quit? YOU BET! Will I? NOT UNTIL HE SAYS, “WELL DONE!”

So, as Dory would say, “Keep on swimming!” As Columbus sang in Ron Hamilton’s, Great American Time Machine“Sail on!” As Paul told the Corinthians: Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye steadfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labor is not in vain in the Lord. 1 Cor. 15:58

This was our theme verse for our children’s club years ago. FYI, just to help you remember them, here are some motions to make it stick:

Therefore, my beloved brethren (palms out, outward sweeping motion),

 Be ye steadfast (pound fists together for each word),

 unmoveable (slap hands to sides—stand straight like a good soldier!),

 always abounding (big circles with both arms)

 in the work (palms up) of the Lord (point up),

forasmuch as ye know (point to head) that your labor (palms up)

is not in vain (palms down circling in then down in an outward sweeping motion)

in the Lord (same as before but end with a good slap just for emphasis!). 1 Cor. 15:58