Stop Making A Mess

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My little dog Itsy has some special needs. She is my special little girl. I love her but she is the queen bee at making a mess of my yarn. I have yarn I use to knit scarves and such. Since Itsy is tiny, only 4 lbs she likes thin little things she can grab a hold off. Similarly she likes to grab a hold of things tossing and turning her head side to side like a dog does with its prey. My nice neatly bundled yarn becomes a tangled mess in all of 2 seconds. It then takes me weeks of work to untangle it all and put it neatly back in a bundle for use. I hide my yarn for this very reason. But even with her bad eye sight she has managed to find my hidden yarn, pull it out of boxes and have her play time. Oh Itsy, I love this little girl but she is a mess!

God created this world. He created all living things. He created human kind. After he finished his creation he said this “God saw all that he had made, and it was very good” Genesis 1:31

Gods creation was originally without fault. It was beautiful and good. But something went wrong. Adam and Eve choose to disobey God. The result was a tangled mess. Itsy had special needs. She does not see well. It is often her blindness that leads to a tangled mess. We humans are not that much different than my dog Itsy. We are often blind to our own faults, sin and mishaps. This blindness causes what was originally good to turn into a tangled mess. Our sin as humans destroys.

But just as my tangled mess of yarn can be untangled and neatly restored to a nice bundle, God can restore our messes and mishaps through the power of the gospel and his Son Jesus. For Jesus died on a cross for our sin. He raised from the dead 3 days later. He ascended to heaven. He is our healer, restorer and liberator. It is through Christ Jesus that the mangled, tangled mess created by our sin and blindness can be restored.

When you look at your life, the life of your family, your close friends, etc. Do you see the tangled mess caused by our human sin? If so then pray the Jesus would restore it, heal it, and mend it. If you do not see the tangled mess than you are most likely like my dog Itsy, blind, so I pray Jesus would give you eyes to see. Amen.

Where Is The Balance?

As someone who has a mood disorder, my emotions often swing from one extreme to another. Thankfully these changes typically happen over weeks not instantaneously. Thankfully through medications, life style changes and Gods healing grace my mood swings are much more manageable and within a healthier range. My struggle with a mood disorder has made me very aware of the need for balance in my life. As a gymnast one of my favorite and best events was the balance beam. Doing flips, jumps and turn on a four inch wide beam takes much skill, training and balance. It takes years to learn and years of practice.

In my walk with Christ I have often struggled with balance. I have often felt like things were a little like my mood disorder. Walking in the way of Christ has felt like learning how to balance on a four inch wide beam. As a Christian I attempt to live by God’s greatest commandment. To love the Lord my God and love my neighbor as myself. In doing so I can easily become overburdened by trying to help others. Once you start trying to love your neighbor you soon find out that this is sometimes not an easy task. When feeling overburdened, overwhelmed or not at my best I then will retreat back into doing things to rest in Christ. To work on my own repentance and faith

So on one side of the balancing act is working on my relationship with Christ. It is practicing repentance, prayer, worship, etc. It is through this relationship and loving the Lord my God that he molds me teaching me how to better reflect Christ, he equips me and he leads me. Through having this time with Christ it should move me and equips me to acts of faith that lead to loving my neighbor as myself.

Many people do great acts of kindness and charity. These things are wonderful but our outward actions do not save us from our own sin. But similarly faith in Jesus Christ and a relationship with Jesus that does not lead to people actually reflecting Christ to others is not real. Walking in Christ ways means we are molded into the people we were created to be. This often happens through discipleship, spiritual disciplines, continual repentance and faith. But this is just the start. It is just one side of the balancing act. The other side is action to love others and reflect Christ to others.

I have learned to be better at listening to my own body, listening to others who I am connected and listening to the Holy Spirit to know when I need to retreat back to spend more time loving the Lord my God and working on my own inner self. I still often have to work on this. For we all need to rest in Christ when we are weary and heavy laden. This time of refreshing is what is needed to keep balance and be able to do the works and acts of faith. Otherwise we will end up falling off the balance beam. Ouch. That hurts!

“Be very careful, then, how you live —not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is. Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Ephesians 5:15-20

Community Is Not Just For Us

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One of the challenging topics to wrap our heads around is the topic of faith and works. Most Christians agree that we are saved by faith not by our works. With that said, we also agree that faith with no works is rather dead. I mean if you say you have faith but then your life is not reflecting that faith you have to wonder whether it is real faith. But similarly you can do all the greatest works in the world. Be one of the best people and this will not save you. For no matter how “good” and “perfect” we attempt to be it will not save us. We are all imperfect, sinful people.

“What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead” James 2:14-17

One of the things I have struggled within my own journey is the fact that as a person I have very limited time, energy, resources, etc. I cannot feed everyone. I cannot cloth everyone. I cannot meet the needs of everyone. Similarly if you have several people needing things and you give your resources to one but then do not then have it to give to another oh no. Similarly, people are not always honest. It soon becomes very challenging how to make decisions and how best to act. It is not easy to practically try to love and meet the needs of others. It is not always easy to practically walk by the spirit and fulfill God’s greatest commandment.

This is one reason community and church is so incredibly important. For as one person there is only so much we can do. As one person we can easily be overwhelmed and taken advantage of. In order to more effectively love our neighbor as ourself and do what this passage of scripture is talking about we need community. We need groups. For this is more effective and safer.

So if you are someone who struggles by feeling overwhelmed by trying to meet the needs of other people. If you are someone who’s good works are wearing you out and spreading you to thin. Then consider changing your approach. Work on building and participating in a community of other Christians so that you can not only be more effective, have the support you need but also be more in line with how God created us to operate.

Who Is Your Commanding Officer?

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I went to a market this Saturday. It was a new organization, one I had not worked with before. I was a bit nervous plus I was having a bit of an off day. It happens. Some days we just do not feel at our peak. The tent I had been using was broken in 2 places and the new tent I had ordered had not been delivered. So I was using a very cheap tent that had to be assembled on site. Not one that was an easy pop up. I was able to assemble the tent but the wind was strong. I tried to quickly anchor the tent with the weights in hope that it would not fly away. I did successfully anchor the tent. But the entire market, the tent was literally tilted in the wind and on several occasions the piping on the tent was coming apart. The weights were holding the legs but the connections of the tent were not holding. I just started praying. Lord let this tent stand and not blow over harming someone else. It looked a bit comical I have to admit but the tent did indeed stay. Lopsided and coming apart at the hinges but it held. The Lord was faithful in answering my prayers.

When we work as an employee of others we have a boss. We have an organization that lays down the rules. You have to play by the rules. You have to follow what your employer tells you. If you do not follow the rules and laws you probably will not stay an employee long. Similarly you will most likely not be promoted. Our commanding officer is Jesus Christ. As such we follow the rules, laws and regulation of our governments, employers, supervisors, etc as unto the Lord our true commanding officer. This following of the rules and respect of laws allows for order, and safety. Similarly in places like the USA we have systems in place for disputing and changing laws, regulations and such that are harmful or unfair. This system of checks and balances allows for positive and change in hopefully a peaceful manor.

But in my current type of work. I am my own employer. I make the bylaws of the company. I am the one setting the rules. I attempt to follow the rules of my government and the organizations I work with. This type of work has its benefits for sure for sometimes it is nice to be the one making the rules. But yet I am no commander, I am no ruler, I am still a simple servant and employee. I am subject to my Lord and commanding officer Jesus Christ. So I may be in charge of certain business operations and decisions but I still very much serve another and fall under another’s command.

As this market this last weekend I did everything in my human little hands power to set up my little tent and do the work laid out for the day. But my simple human hands can only do so much and my little tent was being tosses and thrown by the wind. We as humans are weak. We are often helpless. I felt some of the helplessness as the wind was blowing over all my hard work. But I was also reminded that my human hands works may be tosses and thrown by the wind. But the work done by my commanding officer Jesus Christ will never be overthrown. For the battle is won and Jesus Christ is my commanding officer. Who is yours?

Ways of Worship

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There are various theories and beliefs about what heaven is and is not. It is very much a mystery to us humans. For how can you fully comprehend a place you have never seen? I have never been to heaven but I have studied what the Bible says about heaven. One thing is for certain, heaven is a place we will worship the one true God, the Lord of the heavens and the earth. Revelations 4 given us a description of the worship of God in heaven.

“ Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty ,who was, and is, and is to come. Whenever the living creatures give glory, honor and thanks to him who sits on the throne and who lives for ever and ever, the twenty-four elders fall down before him who sits on the throne and worship him who lives for ever and ever. They lay their crowns before the throne and say: “You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they were created and have their being .” Revelation 4:8-11

But as Christians our worship of God does not start in heaven. We have the opportunity to worship our lord and savior now. In this life our worship is often hindered by things. Our sin, struggles, worries, fears, burdens often get in the way of our worship. But when we come to a place where we can lay all that other stuff aside, cast all of burdens on Jesus for he cares for us and worship our God regardless. There is freedom. So what is worship exactly?

It is out of our hearts that worship flows. It is an expression of our reverence, love and adoration of our God. There are a very many ways we can express ourselves. We express ourselves with music, movement, art, writing. We as humans can often have different styles of worship. It is not about what is looks like or sounds like. It is about the heart behind the expression of love, gratitude, reverence, faith and adoration for our lord and savior.

I personally have worshiped more in silence that not. I tend to worship through writing or art. Journaling has been a long time pass time of mine. Many journals have been filled with a mixture of lamentations, struggles, prayer but also worship. But as I have aged and grown the lord has slowly been changing me and giving me more of a voice. What style of worship do you gravitate towards? Do you set apart time from your week to cast all burden on Jesus and worship your Lord and God?