February 27 – Say What?

musk-thistles

When you move back home, you find so much that is familiar. And those things are constantly warming your insides up because it’s all connected to your childhood “hard drive.” I’ve been experiencing that over and over the past few weeks, and wow, I like it!

But another part of the familiar is the small part of UN-familiar. We’re in western Oklahoma flatland here, and the hills and gullies we have are few and far between. In the continuous spaces of grass pasture, there is an evil and devious enemy to all who live and work in these parts: the musk thistle.

Now if you’re like me, you have trouble even pronouncing that! And I don’t know a thing about this tacky weed. I have no familiar memory of battling it while I was being raised here. My cousin brought up his task of the day a few weeks ago: spraying all of the musk thistle.

I just looked at him in confusion. Say what? What is a musk thistle? Oh, by the way, it’s even against the law to allow them to grow. They have to be sprayed or dug up from the roots. Hmmm, that pesky intruder has to be eliminated, or else.

Sin is like that. Evil, deceptive, destructive, as Romans 6 says, it leads to DEATH. We’re talking basic right and wrong here. I know it’s not politically correct to talk about it, but the facts are, sin exists, it can ruin our lives, and it is insidiously persistent.

It doesn’t need an invitation, and no one is exempt from its advances! But like the musk thistle, with determination and a plan to root it out, the weeds of sin and all the little tiny seeds they hold can be bagged up and stopped in their tracks.

Don’t let those thistles and thorns of sin overtake your time here on earth. Place your trust in the One Who paid for them, and follow His directions for chopping them down. One at a time. You won’t be sorry!

Jennifer

For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 6:23

Biblical Meditation: 1 John 1:9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.

 

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February 12 – I’m Not Ok When You’re Not Ok

 

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One summer I was chosen to lead about 20 young men, ages 12-14, on a “Wilderness Expedition” with three other counselors. The trip was a blast. We hiked, we rock- climbed, we bathed in the river, we slept outside, we cooked our food over an open flame, I mean, what more could you ask for, right?

There was just one smudge of a problem on the otherwise perfect outdoor canvas. The “whiner-boy!” This fellow took issue with every single detail of the trip. The hike was too long, the river was too cold, the rock climbing hurt his hands, and the food was horrible. By the end of the first of the three day journey, every counselor and camper was ready to blindfold him and help him get lost in the forest!

But on the third day, everything changed. Our last and final “wild trial” was an underground tunnel appropriately nicknamed the “birth canal.”

This thing stretched for thirty yards and you had to pass through flat on your stomach and fully extended. You crawled with your fingers and toes! It was so dark, you had to keep talking and touching the person’s feet in front of you so you wouldn’t lose your bearings.

Needless to say, it was an intense three hours. But when the whiner boy started trying to wiggle out of going through, a couple of the tough boys got in his face in a very firm but brotherly way. They refused to go without him. Those boys put whiney-britches between them and praised and pushed him every step of the way.

Before it was all done, that kid cried and cussed, but they didn’t give up on him. The rest of us were so encouraged and humbled by the action of these two boys, we all forgot about our own struggle and began to encourage our buddy in the middle. And I will never forget the look on the young man’s face when we all emerged from the canal covered in dirt from head to toe.

Without saying a word, everybody knew he would forever be different. He had experienced something that each and every one of us so desperately need. He realized that he mattered. Not just to his mom or dad, but to a group of people he barely knew.

His success and his failure in that canal affected us all. That young man tasted the privilege of responsibility. True responsibility’s core is made of care and concern for others. And in the eyes of God, that’s what living is all about (“Love the Lord your God with all your heart, and love your neighbor as yourself.” Luke 10:26-28).

Don’t be easily frustrated by the whiners today. And don’t make excuses for them either. Just take a stand as you can, right by them. And walk a mile or two. You and God will be glad you did!

If someone falls into sin, forgivingly restore him, saving your critical comments for yourself. You might be needing forgiveness before the day’s out. Stoop down and reach out to those who are oppressed. Share their burdens, and so complete Christ’s law. If you think you are too good for that, you are badly deceived. Galatians 6:2 The Message

 Biblical Meditation: Matthew 5:40-42 And if someone wants to sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. If someone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.

 

February 9 – Debits and Credits

 

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I can tend to compare life events to “debits” and “credits.” And that’s fine on the credit side of things. But when I run into a debit, it can really mess me up. As a Christ-follower, I am instructed to forgive.

In a sense, this means to “erase the debt” of kindness or respect owed to me. I confess, this requires my utmost attention and most sincere effort. So often I’ve found myself with a stack of “UOMe’s” against people (including my family) who’ve hurt me, even though I’m very much aware of our Master’s command (Matthew 6:15 says that He can’t forgive us if we don’t forgive others).

So what do you do? Since the Christian life can also be defined as a walk of faith, I think we have to forgive by faith, too. I must have faith in the One Who saved ME and forgave ME to help me cast the wrongs done to me into the “sea of forgetfulness.”

So I daily lay these burdens at His feet and cry for mercy for the times I’ve wronged others, even unknowingly. Know that hurts and offenses are real. But they will also suck all the life out of you if you let them fester.

Forgiveness is the only “surgery” that works on those wrongs done to you. Give them to the One Who loves you most and zero out all the “UOMe” accounts forever.

 (Love) does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered… 1 Corinthians 13:5 NAS

Biblical Meditation: Matthew 18:21-22 Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?” Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.

 

November 19 – The Yeller’s the Feller

He who has knowledge spares his words, and a man of understanding has a cool spirit. Proverbs 17:27 AMP

Man, did I miss it! Just the other day, my middle son nailed me to the wall even without a hammer in hand.

My main “business” at this stage of my life is getting my Ph.D. in parenting…classes all taught by my kids. Most of the time, I come out pretty good when the tests come around, but on this one, not so good.

Here’s the scenario, best I can recall: He had a book in hand that I thought was just for show. Thinking he was pulling a fast one, I went to work interrogating in order to uncover a subtle “brownie points” scheme.

Amazingly, some of my kids remind me an awful lot of myself at their age. So as I grilled him, he just stood there, unfettered, focused and resolved until the moment of reckoning.

“Ok, young man, if you are reading this book instead of playing around with everybody else, give me some evidence.” Without a hitch, he sets me straight, reading flawlessly and giving commentary along the way!

Touché. I was impressed, and grateful. My son demonstrated what I so desperately desire of myself. When I have the knowledge in a matter, there is little need for me to get upset when someone who may not be sufficiently informed misunderstands!

A calm, cool, collected approach does a few key things: First, it de-escalates. Then it demonstrates. And finally, it designates honor, respect and forgiveness in one fell swoop.

Encouraged by today’s Proverb and the “practical example” of my twelve year-old, I am working on cool when it comes to what I know and how I show it.

September 26 – Erasing the Scarlet Letter

Proverbs 7:4,5 MSG

Talk to Wisdom as to a sister.
 Treat Insight as your companion.
 They’ll be with you to fend off the Temptress—
that smooth-talking, honey-tongued Seductress.

As long as time has been, the grass has had a tendency to look greener on the other side of the fence. It’s “human nature,” as Michael Jackson once sang, but still, NOT okay. If you’re wondering if our present national divorce rate and number of wandering spouses is something new, check out the Old Testament and look for David, Solomon, and Gomer (more about her later.)

Even though Solomon had hundreds of wives and concubines, he still was obviously inspired to write these scriptures warning against the “seductress.” (Check out all of Proverbs 7 for a clearer picture.)

And this is refreshingly encouraging! Since we can easily identify with making mistakes, sometimes very serious ones, it is so sweet to know God still loves us and cheers for us . . . much as He did for King David of old.

No, this is not to say that the consequences won’t be severe. But as we’ve been seeing this past week in Proverbs, God hates a gossiper or a haughty look just as much as a murderer (Proverbs 6:16).

Hang on, I’m going somewhere here.

Look at the following verses in Proverbs 7:

Proverbs 7:19, 20 KJV For the goodman is not at home, he is gone a long journey: He hath taken a bag of money with him, and will come home at the day appointed.

After we are heavily implored to stay away from the “harlot,” verse 19 and 20 says the goodman is away from home on a journey and he will come at an exact and special time. Hmmm. My thought is that the “goodman” represents Jesus. And the rest of this chapter’s instructions about the harlot are for everyone, no matter what the distraction might be.

As with Gomer (the consistent adulteress married to Hosea – their story is the book of Hosea), God’s message is abundantly clear: WE are the adulteress. WE are the unfaithful. But HE is faithful, and unconditionally forgiving!

Yes, Jesus the Good Man is returning. And the distraction level is at an all-time high. So no matter the sin or level of depravity, He is willing and able to erase it all and restore us.

And just as importantly, it’s the time to offer mercy and forgiveness to those around us who are knee-deep in the distractions.

Because, but for the grace of God, there go I.

Jennifer 🙂