Tuesday, November 8, 2016

3 Little Lies: About Pain

Last week, when I mentioned three lies Satan tells us about himself, I said we would talk about three lies about sin this week. But I’m going to save that for next week because I feel I should talk to you about something else instead.

You see, yesterday I had to put my cat Smokey to sleep.

And I prayed that God would give me strength because my heart was breaking.

I mentioned in a previous post about my cat MeMe, who was not doing well. By God’s grace, her health is much better, and I thank you all for praying for her and me. Smokey was her brother, a sweet little boy who I called “the cat of instant purr.” You practically just had to look at this cat and he would purr. Even in his last minutes, when my dad held him before the vet gave him the final shot, my beautiful little buddy was purring.

I thank God that by His abundant mercy Smokey didn’t suffer long. It was really only the last three or four days of his life that he seemed like he was suffering at all. But even though it was the kindest thing we could do, my heart still aches.

You might think I’m crazy, caring so much for a cat. But there’s no shame in loving God’s creation, and I pray God uses my pain to minister to you, in whatever is going on in your life, whether your own heart is breaking, or whether it is rejoicing right now.

Because the truth is, we all face pain, in one form or another, and Satan has told us numerous lies about it.

So let’s look at three lies he tells us about pain.


1. Pain is bad

"It is good for me that I have been afflicted, That I may learn Your statutes."
~ Psalm 119:71, NKJV

The truth is, pain never feels good, but it is always for our good.

God uses pain to strengthen our ministry.

He uses it to draw us closer to Him.

He uses it to get our attention when we’ve sinned against Him.

None of these are pleasant experiences, but they all have one common purpose: our good.


2. Pain is always because I sinned.

"Then the Lord said to Satan, 'Have you considered My servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, one who fears God and shuns evil?' So Satan answered the Lord and said, 'Does Job fear God for nothing? Have You not made a hedge around him, around his household, and around all that he has on every side? You have blessed the work of his hands, and his possessions have increased in the land. But now, stretch out Your hand and touch all that he has, and he will surely curse You to Your face!'  And the Lord said to Satan, 'Behold, all that he has is in your power; only do not lay a hand on his person.' So Satan went out from the presence of the Lord."
~ Job 1:8-12, NKJV

This lie I believed at first with losing my cat Smokey. I blamed myself. Did I idolize him, so that God had to take him away to convict me of my sin? Did I put him before God?

Pain is sometimes because we have sinned, but not always. And while I think it’s a good first step, when you’re going through pain, to examine your actions and ask God to show you if you have unconfessed sin in your life that could have led to it, to believe that all pain you’re experiencing is because you’ve done wrong is to believe the devil over God.

God allowed Job to go through a lot of pain, but not because Job had sinned. He allowed Him to go through that pain to strengthen him, to draw Job closer to Himself, to show Satan that Job loved God enough to worship Him despite the pain he didn’t understand.


3. My pain doesn’t bother God.

"Therefore, when Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who came with her weeping, He groaned in the spirit and was troubled. And He said, 'Where have you laid him?' They said to Him, 'Lord, come and see.' Jesus wept. Then the Jews said, 'See how He loved him!' " 
~ John 11:33-36, NKJV

Honestly, it hurts Him more than we can comprehend.

People give different reason over why Jesus wept at Lazarus's, but a common thread is that He wept over their pain.

Parents who love their children never enjoy inflicting pain on them, whether it be in the form of punishment or denying them something they really want because it’s not good for them. And God loves us more than the best parents love their children. But just like parents discipline their children because they love them, just like parents deny their children things that are bad for them because they love them, so God allows us to feel pain, even though it hurts Him to watch us go through it.

My father never enjoyed punishing me when I was a child, but he did it because he loves me enough to endure the pain it cost him to discipline me so that I would grow up to be a young woman of character.

My mother never enjoyed denying me something I asked for when I was a child, but she did it because she loved me enough to endure the pain it cost her to deny me so that I would grow up to be a young woman of self-discipline.

God never enjoys inflicting pain on us, whether it be to strengthen, draw us to Him, or to convict us of wrong doing, but He loves us enough to endure the pain it costs him so that we grow more like Him each day.

I wanted to share this with you today because of another lie Satan tells us: that we should bottle up our pain. He tries to get us to believe that we should go through life with a smile painted on, that pain denotes weakness. But the Bible tells us of God’s pain, and God is the Source of true strength.


Don’t let yourself be convinced of any of these lies. Satan would have you think that pain is destructive, but God is His power and goodness always turns it into something constructive, if we just let Him. Trust God to use your pain to make you more like Him.

And next week let’s tackle those lies about sin. 

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

3 Little Lies: About Satan

Satan has a repertoire of "gifts," including inciting rebellion and convincing Christians and the unsaved alike that they should care about themselves more than they should care about others.

One of his greatest skills is lying.

Last week's post was about some lies he tells us about God. But it doesn't stop there. Satan tells us multiple lies about himself.


1. He's as powerful as God.

"You are of God, little children, and have overcome them, because
He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world."
~ 1 John 4:4, NKJV

Don't get me wrong. The devil has great power.

But it's nothing compared to God's.

Remember the story of Job? Satan wanted to crush him, to hurt him so badly that Job would take it out on God and say all kinds of rotten things against Him. But Satan couldn't lay a finger on him unless God gave the green light.

Job lived thousands of years ago, but that truth remains unchanged. Satan would have you think that he's on equal or greater standing with God, when in reality he can't do anything unless God gives him permission.

In the four Gospels, we read about Jesus banishing demons a lot. He could do that because of His power over Satan. Because God is way way way way way way more powerful than Satan ever was or ever will be, we don't have anything to fear. Whatever Satan throws at us, God knows about it because He gave permission for it to happen (so we know that according to Romans 8:28 that God has some awesome plan for how He's going to topple all Satan's schemes to harm us).


2. He's not so tough.

"Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. Resist him, steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world." 
~ 1 Peter 5:8-9, NKJV

The other trap we'll fall into is thinking we can deal with him on our own. Satan is no where near as powerful as God is, but you can bet your last pink-frosted donut he'll beat you every time you go up against him without calling on God.

And God gave us a super powerful weapon to use against him. Namely, the Bible.

God even gave us an example of how to use His Word to duel it out with Satan. When Jesus was tempted, He answered each temptation with a Bible verse (direct quotations from the Old Testament, no half-memorized verses here).


3. His tricks are easy to recognize.

"But what I do, I will also continue to do, that I may cut off the opportunity
from those who desire an opportunity to be regarded just as we are in the
things of which they boast. For such are false apostles, deceitful workers,
transforming themselves into apostles of Christ. And no wonder!
For Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light.
Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also transform themselves into
ministers of righteousness, whose end will be according to their works."
~ 2 Corinthians 11:12-15, NKJV

Actually, they're not.

Satan has no problem playing dress up.

He and his minions will do whatever is in their power to disguise themselves and their tricks as being rather good.

Forget the pitchfork and horns.

The #1 reason we fall into the devil's snares is because we're not prepared, because we're trying to fly solo without God.

But a close second is because we don't see Satan coming until it's too late.

Instead of digging deep in the Bible, shellacking every possible chink in our armor with God's truth, making sure our "sword of the Spirit" is ready to go, we cruise around like the Babylonian Guard on the night of Belshazzar's Feast (and that didn't end well for them).


Satan is not more powerful than God, no matter how hard he tries to convince us.

But he's no weakling either, and we can only stand against him through the power of God and His Word.

And Satan will use whatever trick he can to make us think his way is a good way.

Why does Satan lie? The reasons are plenteous but one big one is that he wants to get us to sin. Next week, we'll talk about some lies he tries to get us to believe about sin.

Monday, October 24, 2016

3 Little Lies: About God

We all know Satan is a liar. Jesus Himself tells us Satan invented lying.

But why do we still get caught up in his lies?

I think our main problem is we don't know how to spot them, or that they're so small, phrased just right, that we began not to notice they are contrary to what the Bible tells us (one of the reasons it is VITAL to have a daily time in the Word!).

And they tend to play on our emotions. Satan knows he can get to us easier through our feelings than our brains.

So for the next few weeks, let's take a look at some of the different lies we're told, and what the truth really is.

This week, let's take a look and see what three lies Satan wants us to believe about God.


1. If I mess up, God's done with me/I have to earn His approval.

"That in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves;
it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast." ~Ephesians 2:7-9, NKJV

You see this a lot in false religions. Buddhism teaches that, in order to end our suffering (nirvana), we must be good. The Quran teaches that good works are the only path to acceptance. Roman Catholicism demands penance for sins. According to Hinduism, the way to end the reincarnation cycle includes being utterly selfless. Mormonism takes another tack at this by denying our sin nature in the first place. Jehovah's Witnesses try to slide it by you by claiming to believe that only God's grace saves, but tacking on the conditions of being baptized and completely transforming your life* to faith.

Of all the major world religions (and I would hazard to guess all the world religions), Biblical Christianity is the ONLY one which teaches that while we are hopeless sinners, unable to do anything to save ourselves, God loved us enough to provide a way for forgiveness through faith in Christ's sacrifice.

But for some reason, we keep falling into this trap. Even though it goes directly against what the Bible teaches, we're so tempted to believe that, if we are just good enough, God will be happy with us. That in order to please God, to truly be accepted by Him, we need to do a whole bunch of good stuff.

If we continue on to verse 10, we read that yes, we as Christians are supposed to do good works. God wants us to be perfect, to strive to be like Him. But we don't earn His approval that way. It is through admitting our sinfulness and letting Christ clothe us in His righteousness that we receive grace. We please God by serving Him through good works, but it has NOTHING to do with His acceptance of us.

Where a lot of people get mixed up is probably the idea of consequences. God forgives. But that doesn't mean you won't suffer the consequences of what you've done.

God removes our sin as far as the east is from the west, and Jesus has paid the final price for our sins. But there's still the earthly consequences to bear.

Take a look at David. God forgave him for murdering Uriah and sleeping with the guy's wife, but he still had to suffer the consequences.


2. God can't help me with my problem


"Ah, Lord God! Behold, You have made the heavens and the earth by Your great power and outstretched arm. There is nothing too hard for You." ~ Jeremiah 32:17 NKJV

We're talking about the God of the universe, right? The God Who made everything? The God Who the Bible tells us of, where time and time again He got His people out of the messes they created for themselves?

But it's so easy to think that the God Who sent water to flood the entire earth can't help with college tuition. Or that the One Who caused the sun to stand still at the plea of Joshua can't provide a godly husband.

I feel like with this one we often get caught up in our own thing, where we're convinced that it's God's will for us to do this or to attend that. Whereas the truth could be that God doesn't want us to go to college (crud, did I say that?) or that God wants us to get married later in life, or maybe not at all.

Nothing is too hard for God. He can help us with any problem we have. The problem is, it might not be in the way we'd hoped for, or He might want us to wait.


3.God doesn't really care about me.

On the surface, this seems like the most ridiculous, like we'd never believe this one. After all, almost all of us know John 3:16. God loved us enough to send Jesus to save us from our sins.

But we get caught up in the small day-to-day life stuff. Does God really love me enough to guide my path? Does He really love me enough to provide for my needs? Does He really know who I am, out of the billions of people on this earth?

He guided Ruth, a stranger in Israel, to the field of Boaz.

He provided food for the widow and her son during a famine, even though their supplies should've run out long ago.

He knew exactly who Gideon is, though he was the least of his father's house.

Are we really that different from them? If God could lead and provide for those women, why wouldn't He do the same for us? If He knew who Gideon was, why wouldn't He know who we are?

God always cares. He loves us more than we can imagine. But sometimes in the midst of our "small" problems, we forget that if God gave us a solution to our #1 really big "unsolvable" problem (our sin separating us from Him) then why wouldn't He care enough to help us solve our little problems we face in daily life?

God is merciful, though we may have to deal with consequences of our sins.

God is powerful enough to deal with all our problems, though His solution/timing may not be ours.

God is gracious enough to care about our problems, and has already solved our biggest one.

Satan lies about God, but he also lies about himself. We'll take a look at three of those lies next week.

*Of course, true faith in God will produce a transformed life, but it is not a condition of salvation. Faith alone saves, but changed lives are a result of salvation and one of the most powerful witnesses to unsaved friends and family!

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

We're the Problem

This coming election is a mess. That's no secret. I've yet to find anyone who is strongly for Trump or Clinton who isn't delusional. I mean, we're talking about the presidency of the U.S.A., a position which used to be reserved for the most qualified, most able candidate. Here in 2016, we have two candidates who are neither qualified or able, who have committed deeds and made statements that past generations wouldn't have allowed of town mayors, let alone the president of the United States. The only chance we have of having a decent president may be if a write-in or third party candidate gets elected, and even then it's probably a long-shot.

It doesn't end there. Just looking at the direction this country has been heading is kind of scary. We started out as a country where most of the founding fathers at least acknowledged God's existence and power. How did we end up as one where for a Christian to express his or her beliefs is now labeled "intolerant" or some type of phobia?

But the U.S.A.'s problem isn't so much keeping one of these candidates out of the White House. After all, if God could harden Pharaoh's heart, I'm pretty sure He can deal with whichever of these "wonderful" choices get in there. And though as we head nearer to the Tribulation we're going to see greater and greater evil, God's power hasn't slacked where He can't shield His own and bring the lost to Himself.

If we're honest, most of the problem with this country is us.

We who claim Christ's Name, but resemble the devil more than Jesus.
We who claim to be servants of God, but follow very few of His commands.

Here's what I mean:


1. We treat marriage as worthless.

I've seen conflicting results as to what percentage of Christian couples end up divorced. Some reports say the percentage is high, others not so high.

But our view of marriage is reflected in our view of sex and its proper place in a relationship. If we're willing to "go all the way" before the vows are exchanged, we really have a poor view of marriage and its sacredness. Living and sleeping together before marriage, common even among those claiming to be Christians, takes that precious gift and throws it in the manure pile.


2. We don't seek His Face.

Supposedly, 72% of pastors don't crack open the Word unless they're preparing to preach from it. Of course, technically you could say that all Bible reading is lesson planning, but this implies that only about a quarter of pastors actually have daily devotions. This is pastors we're talking about, men who are supposed to shepherd God's people. How many Christians are actually opening their Bibles?

We complain about how messed up the U.S. is, but what about how messed up we are, that we aren't seeking out a better relationship with the One Who gives us life?


3. We disregard our leaders.

When Paul wrote to Timothy, he urges prayer for our leaders. How many of us are praying for Obama, Biden, and our governors? How many of us pray for Hillary and Donald?

We fail to pray that God would work in their hearts so they would do good and not evil in this nation. We who have God dwelling in us know how hard it is to do the right thing. How much harder for those who don't have Jesus? We have the Source of Wisdom indwelling us, and yet we fail to pray that God would give our leaders wisdom, leaving them wide open for Satan.

Instead, too many of us are claiming the name of Christ while blatantly breaking as many laws as we can (which laws, FYI, we are commanded by God to obey unless they go against His commands). Stealing, pillaging, tax evasion, destroying/defacing public or private property: you name it, someone who claims Christ is doing it. I did a quick search, and found a graffiti artist who claims to be a Christian, whose art is found in "various restaurant bathrooms (LOL)" (artistsforchrist.net). Of course, he could be getting permission, but I don't think God approves of vandalizing no matter what you spray paint on there.


4. We don't give a fruitcake about the poor and lost.

Regardless of whether you believe in a solid 10% tithe or just free giving out of what God has given you, we'll failing at both. We're arguably one if not the richest nation in the world, and yet we're giving less than 5%? That's shameful. What on earth are we doing with all of God's money?

Sadly, I'd hazard to guess that most of it we're spending on ourselves. We've been caught up in the craze for the latest and greatest, seeking out material goods at a rate our unsaved neighbors would be proud of.

Things aren't bad. But we're starting to shove God out with them. And it has to stop.


5. We don't speak the truth.

We as a people have become cowards for Christ. Instead of speaking out against what the Bible teaches as sin (such as homosexuality, adultery, women pastors, welfare abusers*, covetousness, etc.), we are too busy swilling out a watered-down version of something that might've been the Gospel at one time.

Truth is, the truth isn't popular. The truth won't get us many friends. But denying the truth is a sure way to help people down the road to Hell.


6. We don't speak it in love.

On the flip side, some of us are very good at speaking the truth, but terrible at speaking it in love. Jesus didn't call us to bomb Planned Parenthood clinics, or to bully gay kids. The only people we ever read about Jesus even using a harsh word against were the religious leaders, who claimed to know God while they denied Him in their actions and attitudes. Only once that I could find does the Bible make mention of Jesus using violence. So why are we taking that 1% and utilizing it 99% of the time?

People who are living in sin are hurting, broken people desperately in need of the forgiveness and love of our just and merciful God. We need to speak the truth, but we also need to pray for their eyes to be opened, that Satan wouldn't be able to deceive them anymore, that God would work in their hearts to draw them to Him. We need to call sin what it is, and we need to show the love of God. Why, when Jesus regularly ate with sinners, are we disparaging them? Especially when it's only by the grace of God that we're any different?


7. We trample on Jesus' sacrifice.

We do lip service to Jesus' death on the cross. But we spit at it heedlessly.

Could someone look at the way we live and honestly believe there's something different about us? That the merciful God and Lord of all saved us from our sins, and is making us new? If not, we need to pray for God to fix our lives.

Jesus died to set us free from our sins, but all too often we don't want to be free from them, we just want to be free from the consequences of them. We say a quick sorry but go right back to rolling in the muck Jesus has cleansed us from.


The U.S. is a mess, and it will continue to grow worse and worse until Jesus returns. But we shouldn't be growing worse with it. We should be going in the opposite direction, getting better and better through the renewing of God's Spirit in us. So what's happening? What on earth are we doing?

This country is only going to see Christ through us. What are we showing them? Are we showing them a righteous and loving God, just and merciful, Who hates sin but loves the sinner in spite of their actions? Or are we showing that God really doesn't give a circus peanut about anybody, that He's no better than those Roman myths of lecherous gods, that He commands one thing while doing the opposite?


*Not those who are unable to work or can't find a job, but those who refuse to work even though they are perfectly able to and jobs are spewing into their paths.


Monday, October 10, 2016

Faith and a Gray Cat

She was just supposed to go in for a checkup and blood draw before she got a dental done. No big deal, routine for a 14-year-old cat (that's an old fogie cat FYI).

She was little, but she is a runt, she's always been little. Only when she was rather fat was she more than 8 pounds. 6-7 was a good weight for her.

My little babe
I sat in the waiting room, my fur baby in her carrier beside me, giving me her signature stink eye glare. She'd ignore me the rest of the day when we got home, but I was just over the flu, and gave more thought to how much longer we'd be waiting than what mood my cat would be in when we got back home.

When we were called back and the tech weighed her, she was a little light. Closer to 5 pounds than 6. But she was old, and cats tend to lean out when they get old.

The vet was a little concerned, but thought it might be a thyroid issue. They drew blood, and sent me on my way after scheduling MeMe's dental.

The blood work showed high liver enzymes. The vet thought it better to wait, to get MeMe's liver issue fixed before we proceeded with the dental. They gave me a box of medicine, and hope that this issue would be resolved in a month.

That appointment was January 15.

My fur baby still has not been cleared for the dental.

My little cat has been on round after round of the liver medication, has been back for weight checks at least monthly, and is on steroids to help her eat.

She has had days where she gobbles up whatever I put in front of her, and days where even eating her favorite food is too much for her stomach.

She went from being the bully* of my other cats to being easily pushed out of the way by them at dinnertime. I feed her by herself, but she struggles to eat when I'm not around.**

Now her teeth bother her, she needs a dental, but the vet isn't sure she's healthy enough to have it.

And it tears me up inside.

I can't possibly imagine the pain parents go through watching their sick child struggle to get well. But this is the closest I can come. Call me a crazy cat lady, but my little girl is the closest thing I can imagine to having a child. And it hurts like crazy, watching her struggle, seeing her start to get better, and then slip backwards.

And sometimes, it's hard to believe God hears my pleas, that He sees this little gray cat, and that His heart breaks even more than mine does over her, over the pain I'm going through watching her suffer.

But He does.

Why then hasn't He healed her? Why hasn't He taken her, so she (and I) don't have to go through this any more? Will I have to make that choice, when the vet says there's no more hope?

I don't know.

My only answer is that He must be teaching me about faith.

Faith is defined as being "the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen" (Hebrews 11:1 NKJV). Right now, I can't see what on earth good it is for my little gray fur baby to suffer. I don't understand, and if I'm completely honest, part of me is too busy throwing a little hissy fit to care about understanding. But faith is believing anyway, even though we have no shred of proof beyond what God has promised in the Bible.

Faith is believing that He knows about my pain, and that He won't leave me to bear it alone.

Faith is trusting that He's working this out for my good, even though I can't see it right now.

So when you hear the devilish whispers, telling you that God doesn't care, that He's left you to sink or swim on your own, have them "talk to the hand." Dare to believe that God, Who was mighty enough to create the world, Who loved you enough to die on a cross, is also faithful enough to keep His promises. We can't see it now. We might never see it on earth. But you can bet your paychecks for life that He will keep each and every one of them.

I pray that, whatever you're going through, that God would remind you that He is faithful. That He would help you have faith in Him. And I ask that you pray for me, that I would remember that as well.

How has God been teaching you about faith?

*All the other cats had at least a pound on her when she weighed 7, now most of them have 2 or more.
**She could be locked in a room all day by herself with food, but she doesn't eat well unless I personally sit with her and feed her. Yes, she probably is spoiled (I can almost guarantee it).

Monday, April 18, 2016

"Everyone else is"

I glanced at the clock. Not even 12:30, and already I wished the school day was over. I knew how the kids felt. They must be impatient for Spring Break to begin as well. Their behavior certainly said so.

It was nearing the end, though. After being pulled to cover for meetings where there were no substitute teachers, only study halls remained before the students would be herded into the auditorium to watch a documentary for the rest of the afternoon. Two study halls had been canceled, and I had just gotten through one. That left only one more before the movie. How bad could it be?

The kids traipsed in, and took their seats at the computers as I gave out the instructions. Those who had forgotten their login info were doomed to reading. Most of the students, though, found talking about spring break plans with their peers more compelling than following directions.

As I tried to still the room back into a studious quiet, someone decided to make sound effects. As soon as I called Kevin* over, the room buzzed again.

I took a deep breath, begging for a little more patience. "Kevin," I asked, "why did you start making those noises right after I told everyone to stop?"

Kevin looked up at me, his dark eyes wide behind his glasses. As if I'd asked him to eat a ream of paper. "But everyone else's talking."

For a moment, I didn't know what to say. I had called for quiet because everyone was talking. Was he being smart with me? "But why are you talking when I asked everyone to stop?" I asked again.

The same stare. My goodness, the kid means it! "Everyone else is," he said again, faltering a little.

I bit my lip. He wasn't a bad kid. I had been in his classroom a couple of times last year. But how could I make him understand?

The room crept into a roar. I called for quiet again, and turned back to him. "Kevin," I said, "I asked you to stop. Do you think you should keep talking afterwards, regardless of what anyone else does?"

A blank stare. I was losing him. I tried again, keeping my voice calm. "Do you think you should?"

No change. The kid could've been a statue. I kept back my sigh. "Please, stop," I said, motioning him back.  As he returned to his computer, I quieted the room again. But I couldn't get our conversation out of our mind.

Because I had done the same thing so many times.

We all do, if we're honest. Whether it's the language we use, the TV shows we watch, or the music we listen to, we judge how we should act based on those around us.

Why shouldn't I read 50 Shades? Everyone else is...

I really shouldn't peek at those test answers, but the rest of the class is, so it's not really cheating if we're all doing it...

How can abortion really be murder? All those scientists say it's just a bunch of cells...

I really don't feel right about going to that party, but all my friends are going, so I guess it's okay...

God gave us the Bible to guide us in our decisions, but we tend to ignore it in favor of popular opinion. Like Kevin, who reasoned that there was no reason for him to stop talking if other kids didn't, we think that we get a free pass because of other people's behavior.

But that's just a lie Satan likes to tell us, that we're too willing to believe. After all, it's hard to stay strong and refuse to participate when "everyone else" is. It's much easier just to go along with it, to do what we really want to do anyway, to sugarcoat it in the "everyone else is" wrapper.

I really like this glass. I'll take it, the restaurant has more. And my friend is taking the dip bowl, so it's not that big of deal.

I don't really feel like going to work today. I have so much at home to get done. I'll just take a sick day, that's what everyone else does.
 
Since when did our standard become what "everyone else" is doing? God's Word is supposed to be the sole authority in our lives. We're supposed to judge our behavior, make our decisions, based on what the Bible says is right and wrong, not what our friends or the media or scientists or any other person says.

I want to read that book, but the reviews say it's full of sleeping around. I want to think about pure things...

This test would be so much easier if I could just take a quick look, but it's wrong to cheat...

The Bible says God forms us in the womb...

If my conscience is telling me not to go, I shouldn't...

I really do like this glass, but it's not mine...

I have a responsibility to my boss, and those sick days are for when I'm sick, not when I don't feel like going...

We need to return to the Bible as our guide, not popular opinion. God's standards don't change with people's whims. What He said was wrong 2000 years ago when the Bible was written is still wrong today. If we truly serve Him, if we truly desire to please Him, why are we letting Satan convince us otherwise?

We can't let "everyone else" be our cop-out any more.



*This isn't his real name, but as best as I remember, the rest of the story is how it happened.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

"He Knows Them All"

"...Who among us doesn't have sin or discouragement? Who among us doesn't fail? There are a million things we don't want to let anybody know about us, but He knows them all. And He is not discouraged about us..." ~ K.P. Yohannan, founder, Gospel for Asia

Confession time: I am an overachiever. And while there are a lot of good things that can be said for having that kind of drive, it can also be a very dangerous thing.

Being an overachiever means that, if I fail at something, or if I don't get something done on my to-do-list, I feel like I've failed for that day. It doesn't matter if I got five other things done which were really important. I'm unhappy with myself for not getting that one little thing done.

For almost the whole month of July, dipping into August, I've been struggling with some health issues, and looking back on it, I feel like this area of my life is what God was trying to teach me about. There have been so many days these past weeks where I've felt like a total loser because I couldn't get done as much as I wanted to get done. I would keep telling myself things like, "Come on, are you serious?! You can do better than that! You need to learn to mange your time better..."

And of course, there were bits of truth in that. There were days where I could have worked a little harder, where I wasted time watching an episode of Major Crimes or Suits or Pretty Little Liars. There were days where I honestly did not give it my all, where I let my illness be an excuse.

But the amazing thing is that, despite what we feel about ourselves, despite being failures and hopeless in our own eyes, God doesn't see us that way. We fail, we get discouraged, we have incredibly high standards for ourselves that we try to attain alone without God's help. But even though we're constantly messing things up, even though we start to think of ourselves as total losers, God never gives up on us. He's constantly working in our lives to mold us into what He knows we can be.

The idea that haunts me is that, while we put up a good image of ourselves, while we hide things even from our closest friends and families that we don't want them to know, for fear of rejection, God knows all of it. He knows in exact detail every horrible thing we've done, every time we messed up a commitment to Him or to someone else, every time we fell flat on our face because we thought we could do life without Him, and yet He. Still. Loves. Us.

Isn't that amazing?

I see myself as a life failure because I didn't get my birds' cages cleaned, and yet He doesn't see me that way. I think of myself as hopeless because I ignored a friend who was hurting to complete my own deadlines, and yet He doesn't.

God see us all as we are: sinners who are in desperate need of His grace. Broken people who He can make new.

Psalm 139 tells us that God knows exactly who and what we are. He knows each part of us, each wicked way, each sin we're particularly vulnerable to. And yet He doesn't give up on us. He hedges us all about, He is ever leading us, ever guiding us. He knows what our end will be. He knows that, even though we fall far from Him, He can make something beautiful out of it.

God's never finished with us, even when we're ready to throw in the towel. And unlike those "white lies"* we tell others so we look a little better, unlike those secrets we keep because we don't dare let others know how we truly are, God knows every little thing about us, and still loves us.

Pretty mind-boggling, huh?


*Come on, we all know they're just lies.