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Survival Stories

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A headline on my news feed this morning read, “Survival stories emerge from victims.”  This was in regard to the deadly tornadoes that hit last Friday.  This reminded me that life is often about survival.  Yes, we can emerge victorious from the trials of life, but while we’re in them, we are in survival mode.

The wonderful thing about this is that survival is possible.  People can go through horrible life circumstances and emerge, not unscathed, but often better for having gone through the experience.  No, not everyone will survive and not everyone will thrive, but the indomitable spirit of human kind often emerges through hardship.  This is true of those going through the experience and those who seek to help them.

Upon hearing about the tragedies of loss and death, many people stepped up to help.  People see the need, have compassion, and put their hands to the task in whatever way they can.  In all the mess going on in our world, it is good to see that people still care about one another and that survivor stories are still alive and well.

 

What can we learn from the tornados and other life experiences?

  1. Things don’t matter.
  2. People matter.
  3. Life is short.
  4. Time is not promised.
  5. Say I love you now.
  6. Don’t count on tomorrow.
  7. Don’t wait.
  8. Human need transcends our differences.
  9. Character is exposed in the hard times of life.
  10. You can survive hard things.
  11. You don’t have to survive hard things alone.
  12. God and much of mankind will stand with you.

 

I have survivor stories.  In fact, I have many survivor stories.  I call them “God Stories” and collect them in my faith scrap-book.  They remind me of the things that matter, and that my God is always there, even in the darkest night.

This is my challenge to you today:  Do you have survivor stories?  How has hardship brought you to a better place and revealed your character and/or the character of God?  You can share in two ways:  1) Share your story in the comments. or 2) Share your story in a blog post and share your link in the comments.  It can be about anything, not just tornados….     You may also share other lessons we can learn.   I am looking forward to reading your stories. 🙂

 

My tornado God story: 

In 197?  a tornado struck Franklin, Ky, where I lived at the time.  I was reading, laying on my mom’s bed and looking out the window, when I saw a black wall coming toward  us.  I ran into the Living Room where my Father was gathering my Mother and siblings.  He had us lay on the floor with his arms over us.  At one point, the roof of our house lifted up and slammed back down.  Later, we discovered that a large tree in our front hard had cracked and fallen on the roof, holding it on.  All around us was devastation, but our house still stood.  Some say coincidence, but I know it was God’s protection.  Why us and not others, that is not up to me.  However, I am glad allowed us to come through it unscathed.  My parents, as pastor and wife, were able to go out and help others recovering from the same storm.

Fast forward a great deal to a time I was heading up to my step-grandmothers.  Things kept happening to keep me from leaving when I wanted to.  I was half an hour late leaving.  Up north, driving through the outer parts of a tornadic storm, I come across some devastation where a tornado had gone through 1/2 hour before I got there.     The same thing happened Friday.  Had I been much later heading home, I would have been in danger on the highway in hard hit areas – with two grandkids in the van!

 

I have learned that God’s timing is important.  Impatience plays no part in waiting on God, even though we think it does.  Just goes to show that we are not as ‘in control’ as we think we are:)

Something to think about

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“Life is not the way it’s supposed to be.. It’s the way it is..

                The way we cope with it, is what makes the difference.”   –Unknown

Last Words

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Last words

 

Spoken as she breathed her last,

Her words would always haunt me.

As the death rattle gripped her,

“Thank God, at last I’m free.”

 

Words spoken in the heat of ire,

‘Ere he walked beyond the door.

“I hate you!” flung from anger.

Now he’s gone to hear no more

 

Last words, yes we may never know,

When words spoke will be our last.

So make them soft and well thought out.

For our time goes by so fast.

 

Last words entombed forever there,

In our minds for joy or regret;

For these words can be a heritage,

Or these words can be a debt.

 

Copyright 2/7/2010 Angela Masters Young

 

This poem was created in response to a Poetry Challenge by ClownRhymes on his(?) blog.  There is still time to join in if you wish.

This challenge, different to each person entering a poem, started the cogs moving.

 

Last Words as a Heritage

When we talk about last words, we often think of words spoken by a dying person to someone at his or her bedside.   We listen carefully to these last words, spoken by one we love.  We know we will hold on to them as long as we hold on to the memory of all this person means to us.  It is the cap on the heritage of a life.   Not all of us will have the opportunity to speak, or hear, the last words of our loved ones.  We never know when the words we speak will be our last, the last ones we leave with the hearer in this lifetime.

Last Words as a Horror

In the second stanza of the poem, a person screams words he or she cannot recall.  These turn out to be last words because the other person is gone (death in this case) and can no longer hear the words of regret pouring out of the screamer’s heart.  We never know when will be the last time we see someone, what will be the last words spoken.  This should urge us to always make sure the words we leave someone with will not leave us with a heart full of regret.

 

Do you keep in mind that your words may be “last words” to someone or for someone?  

What other kinds of last words do you think we can have? 

What do you want your last words to be?

As life has taught me this lesson the hard way, I want to always say, “I love you!” because they may be the last words that person hears or that person hears from me.

Name the bars

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To sum up previous posts, the conclusion is:  Yes, all sin is sin is sin.

Just because we may not see the consequences of some sins, does not mean it is not equally sin.

All sin destroys; all sin leads to death.

Jesus heals; He leads to life.

A prison of our own making

If you commit a heart sin, you may not wind up in an earthly prison, but you will be in a prison of your own making, Christian or not.

Maybe you have not committed a murder of another human being, but have harbored hatred in your heart.  Hatred, when taken to it’s natural conclusion leads to murder.  In God’s eyes, it is murder, but before it leads there overtly, it leaves a path of destruction in the life of the person and in those around him/her.

 

Where does it lead?

On a radio program, I recently heard the story of a man who found himself in prison for murder.  He was a good man.  He was only trying to protect his two step-daughters from their abusive biological father.  However, he harbored hatred in his heart and it led him farther than he ever intended to go.  Don’t delude yourself that you could never find yourself in that position, because we are all capable if we allow the heart sins to grow and fester in our lives.  The end result may have protected the girls from their biological father, but it took a good man away from them for life as well and left them with trauma and no dad at all.

This man, in his determination to protect his step-daughters, allowed his heart to harbor prison bars.  What were they?  Possibly believing lies, bitterness, not seeking God in the situation, and much more.  It is the seemingly small things that spoil our hearts and lead us to paths we never intended.  The same is true of all heart sin, be it lust, bitterness, hatred or more.

What do you suppose the actions of these fathers has planted into the hearts of the children?  The damage is extensive and while it can be healed, cannot be removed.  There will be plenty of scars in the lives of these children.  The families, friends, communities, and even society will also pay a price.

So what bars make up your prison? 

Can you name them?

What would you be willing to do to get out of prison? 

Are you in denial about the consequences of your pet sins?

Some of the bars that keep us from living fully as we should:

Guilt (real and false)

Hatred

Bitterness

Ruined Relationships

Believing lies

Denial

Judging

Unintended consequences

Planting hatred, bitterness, sin, in other hearts

Hatred, bitterness, other sin planted in my own heart.

The good news:

Jesus stands with the key, purchased with His own blood, but will not force you to allow him to open it.

“Jesus paid it all,

All to Him I owe;

Sin had left a crimson stain,

He washed it white as snow.”

Elvina M. Hall (public domain)

Can you name more bars that imprison us?

It’s all about the heart, Part IV

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If you missed previous posts on this series, you can find them here:     It’s all about the heart;  Part II ;  Part III.

Heading in a different direction, Ann Marie Dwyer, or “Red” as she is called at Mommas Money Matters went a different direction in her comment on part I of “It’s all about the heart.”

Here is the pertinent sentence:

“I often engage in civil disobedience because we have legislators who have no concept of the actual function of society outside their cloistered Senate walls.” ~Ann Marie Dwyer

civil disobedience   (as defined at Dictionary.com)        noun

1. the refusal to obey certain laws or governmental demands for the purpose of influencing legislation or government policy, characterized by the employment of such nonviolent techniques as boycotting, picketing, and nonpayment of taxes. Compare noncooperation ( def. 2 ) , passive resistance.
Martin Luther King, Jr.
The USA was founded on civil disobedience as people rebelled against unfair laws.  As we celebrate Martin Luther King, Jr. Day today, January 16, I thought it would be appropriate to talk about where civil disobedience comes in.  You can find a biography of Martin Luther King, Jr. Here:  Biography.   MLK, Jr. is one of our finest examples of civil disobedience.  His goal and his dream was to have a country where everyone was free and equal, and his leadership through civil disobedience helped bring us closer to that goal.
When is it OK to disobey?
I would never, ever promote violent civil disobedience, but there are times when a government’s policies and laws go against a person’s beliefs or the good of it’s constituents.  Choosing civil disobedience is not a matter to be taken lightly.  The cause must be a good one.  However, there are times when to obey would mean disobeying one’s own conscience or God’s law.  When we see grave injustice or evil, is it time to be part of the change?  Is there a higher mandate in some cases?
Quotes from MLK, Jr. on civil disobedience

►We should never forget that everything Adolf Hitler did in Germanywas “legal” and everything the Hungarian freedom fighters did in Hungarywas “illegal.” ~Martin Luther King, Jr., “Letter from BirminghamJail,” Why We Can’t Wait, 1963

►Ordinarily, a person leaving a courtroom with a conviction behind him would wear a somber face. But I left with a smile. I knew that I was a convicted criminal, but I was proud of my crime. ~Martin Luther King, Jr.,March 22, 1956

More quotes by MLK, Jr.

Other interesting quotes on the subject

►If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor. If an elephant has its foot on the tail of a mouse and you say that you are neutral, the mouse will not appreciate your neutrality. ~Bishop Desmond Tutu

►I think that we should be men first, and subjects afterward. It is not so desirable to cultivate a respect for the law, so much as for the right. ~Henry David Thoreau, Civil Disobedience, 1849
►Never do anything against conscience even if the state demands it. ~Albert Einstein
►When leaders act contrary to conscience, we must act contrary to leaders. ~Veterans Fast for Life
►You’re not supposed to be so blind with patriotism that you can’t face reality. Wrong is wrong, no matter who says it. ~Malcolm X
►If… the machine of government… is of such a nature that it requires you to be the agent of injustice to another, then, I say, break the law. ~Henry David Thoreau, On the Duty of Civil Disobediance, 1849
►We cannot, by total reliance on law, escape the duty to judge right and wrong…. There are good laws and there are occasionally bad laws, and it conforms to the highest traditions of a free society to offer resistance to bad laws, and to disobey them. ~Alexander Bickel
►Disobedience is the true foundation of liberty. The obedient must be slaves.  ~Henry David Thoreau
►It is necessary to distinguish between the virtue and the vice of obedience. ~Lemuel K. Washburn, Is The Bible Worth Reading And Other Essays, 1911
What do you think?
Do you agree or disagree with these quotes?
Where is the line?  Is there one?
And finally, a reminder that civil disobedience is not easy:

►It is dangerous to be right in matters on which the established authorities are wrong. ~Voltaire

What are your thoughts on this quote?
What would you consider worthy of civil disobedience?
What would you risk for your cause?
I apologize for the formatting.  WordPress is acting up.  Angie

It’s all about the heart, Part III

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In case you missed them:   All about the heart, Part 1    All about the heart, Part II

Often my “Christian” posts are a part of my study for teaching my 7th, 8th and 9th graders in Sunday School at my Church.  The same is true with Part I of this series, and follows the posts about feeding the flesh and purity.  Today I used this blog loosely as my lesson.  You see last week we learned about Purity – what it is, why it’s good for us, etc..   After class, the students were all in the hall listening to a joke that was questionable.  I’m not sure they even understood why it was questionable or why doing this right after a lesson on purity would bother their SS teacher.

The trial of “Joke Teller”   

Our first activity of the day was to put “Joke Teller”, a former student who can handle being an object lesson, on trial.  We talked about what would make the joke “wrong”.  They immediately understood that it’s off color nature was not good.  It took a while to pull out of them, however, that the joke uses the Lord’s name in vain twice.  (See the 10 Commandments)  Once they understood what that meant, it was easy to lead them to a guilty verdict, not just for “Joke Teller” but for themselves too for listening (and retelling).  The joke may not seem such a big deal to many, but it was an object lesson opportunity this teacher could not pass up!

Line? What line?

Where’s the line?

For our next activity, we divided into three teams.  Each team had yellow electrical tape on the end of a table as close to the end as possible.  The goal was for each team to compete to be the one to get their car closest to on the tape without going over.  The three winners then faced off for an over-all winner.  We then discussed part of the ways we push disobedience (as per Part I) where we try to go as close to ‘the line’ as possible or even push our toe over it.  One point I wanted them to understand was that when we walk on the line all the time, it’s very easy to fall over the line.

If you can’t see me, I’m not guilty

Our next activity involved a game where a student was blindfolded and placed in a chair.  One at a time, other students were given a chance to try to steal a treasure from under the chair without

undercover

getting caught.  The seated person could use hands and feet and movement to try to tag anyone sneaking around them.  If a ‘thief’ was tagged, he or she became the owner of the treasure.  Then we broke down the next items on the list of ways we disobey (per Part I) by sneaking and thinking that “not caught” is the same thing as “not guilty”.   We used driving as an example (even though none of my students are drivers yet).  I asked them, “What happens when a person is driving along (over the speed limit or not) and they spot a police car?”  Answer:  “Slow down!”  Question 2:  “What does the person do after they get over the hill and away from the police?”  Answer:  “Speed back up!”  {Come on, you know you’re all guilty 😉 }

 

Integrity is what we do when no one is looking

Too many of us fall into the mentality that our ‘hidden’ faults aren’t that bad.  One danger here, aside from believing we can cross the line if no one sees us, is that we often tend to judge others for their failings without considering the extent of our own, especially the ones no one else knows about.

Did it ‘stick’?       

I get it already!

I sure like to think it did this time.  Games are a great way to get across to young people as object lessons.  At the end, as I was winding down and bringing them to the conclusion of the lesson, the students each had two coins in front of them they were not allowed to touch (fake ones).  The idea was for others to try to take the other’s coins without getting caught.  That didn’t happen, but as we talked, a couple students started to do/say something not right, and I saw them thought-check themselves.  For me – that’s a win!

I wanted to share the purpose of some of my recent posts for those who care to know.  You each get to make your own choices and suffer your own consequences.  I hope we’ve all learned something as we’ve walked through this together.

How important is integrity to you?

What are some other ways to show these concepts?

Do you think “not caught” is the same thing as “not guilty”?

What do you think of this series and is there anything you would like to see here?

Are there other questions or concepts you feel I could explore with my class?

It’s all about the heart, Part II

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If you missed the previous post, you can see it here:  It’s all about the heart.

Derek Mansker of http://nothrowaways.wordpress.com/  made a great comment on the previous post and brought up a good point about a concept that confuses even the most knowledgeable of Biblical Scholars.  Here is his comment:

“Well think about it like this: What does it mean to be free? We are not free in the sense we can do whatever we want. We are free to operate within a certain boundary- God’s. This is a great place to be, but there is that pesky me first attitude that gets in the way.”

Two questions that comes to mind:  Free from what? or Free to what?   We will expand on this in further posts.

In Christ, we are free.  Our sins have been paid for.  Does that mean we should continue to sin?  Paul asks this question in Romans 6:1-8 [v1].  How do we explain this in an understandable way?

1.  We who have accepted Jesus’ gift of salvation, are free from the eternal consquences of our sin.  Our sin has been paid in full, and we no longer need to fear eternal separation from God and paying for our own sin.

2.  We are free of the law of sin.  We live in grace, not the law.  Does that mean we toss the law out the window?  Absolutely not!

a) Our physical bodies are still subject to the physical consquences of sin.  God’s law gives us guiderails to keep us safe and help us live the best life possible here on earth.  If we continue in habitual sin, our bodies will pay the consequences and we may not live as long on the earth as we could have.  We will also have a lot of misery in our lives because the consequences of sin, in the physical body, will still visit us.  If we cheat on our spouse, we will face consequences.  If we stuff our faces with junk food:  we will face consquences.  You get the picture.

b) We are dead to sin and are no longer chained to it to do its bidding.  I use the phrase “dead men don’t eat donuts” to remind me that I am dead in Christ and do not need the things I used to crave.  This takes us back full circle to the posts:  “Getting our feed on” and “Starvin Marvin”.  We feed what we treasure.

c) We have lost our desire to sin.  If we have truly understood what Jesus Christ did for us on the cross, we will want to follow Him, thank Him, and become just like Him.  We will also want to please Him.  “Sin” or whatever you want to call it goes against our very nature as His children.  We are free, but we make the choice every day to do what is pleasing and right (or not) based on our love of the Savior and whether we have been feeding the spirit or the flesh.

d) We have Scripture – God’s love letter to us – and the Holy Spirit within to show us what we need to do and why.  It goes back to those guardrails we discussed previously.  The Bible lays out the things that will harm us and the things that will bless us.  The Holy Spirit whispers to us to go to the right or the left.  We are not on our own.

Imagine you bought a new flat screen television.  No, you didn’t buy it completely put together, you bought the parts and plan to put it together yourself.  Even with a guidebook, this would be a difficult if not impossible for the average Joe or Jane to do.  But, in this case, your best friend puts televisions together for a living.  He knows exactly what each piece is, where it goes, and why it goes there.  I’m guessing that even the most technologically impaired among us could get the job done with this helper.

So, is this concept understandable as I explained it here? 

How would you explain it? 

Are there other reasons for following ‘the rules’ even if you’re free to choose not to? 

Do you have other questions I (or other readers) might tackle? 

What do you think?

Communication Busters: Civility in politics?

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In a read-worthy article in Christianity today called “The Cure for Election Madness [How to be political without losing your soul]” , Amy E. Black brings up some very good points about the political situation today.  Having recently been cursed out and called a few names by those who disagree with me politically and having them point out I’m a highly unintelligent ignoramous for my beliefs, I know exactly what she means when she discusses the lack of civility in politics.  This is nothing new, but it seems to have escalated to a great degree.

Distractors

When a person stoops to name-calling, all real debate, all communication has ceased to exist.  Both sides of the US political scene have been guilty of the incivility, especially as they approach the 2012 election cycle.  Lacking the ability to debate one’s own beliefs or substantiate one’s own claims leads to an attempt to take the voter’s eyes off the real issues.  Mud-slinging is nothing but a distractor from the real issues.  It does what the name implies and covers all the issues with mud, so that you, the voter, can only see mud – everything gets ‘muddied’, muddled, and mutilated.  It also distracts from the fact that the mud-slinger cannot express him/herself in any other way.

What about you?

Most of us have come to accept, even though we dislike it, the idea that politicians are going to dig up the other candidates, great-great-great-great-grandfather’s sordid affair with the midwife and other such superfluous issues.  However, if you discuss politics at all, you must realize that the candidates are not the only one’s slinging mud.  What happened to civility?  Why do we have to put others down for not believing as we do?  They do have the right to be wrong!  So do you!

Amy Black writes:

“If we are to seek peaceful solutions and honor God in politics, we Christians of all people must avoid such hateful talk. James 4:11 commands us to “not slander one another,” an exhortation that should extend beyond how we treat other believers. Whether talking with friends or campaigning for our favorite candidate or cause, we should engage our political opponents and their ideas with respect, welcome the opportunity to learn from other perspectives, and find ways to disagree charitably as a natural part of the political process.”

►Engage other’s ideas with respect

All people deserve respect, even if they are wrong.  Since God is very clear that none of us really understand or get it right all the time, how arrogant are we to think that our beliefs (those not specifically spelled out in the Bible) are the correct ones and that means we can disrespect who we want for whatever reason we want?  [“There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God.” Romans 3:11]  To be blunt:  this too is sin.  This does not mean we have to be politically correct and bow down before the forces of evil.  It does mean we disagree in a respectful, Christ-honoring manner.  Jesus was known to call a few people names, such as ‘whited-sepulchers’, but we are not Jesus.  Jesus was speaking of their spiritual condition, and pointing out the hypocrisy of their religious trappings without a relationship with their creator.

►Welcome the opportunity to learn from others

“Iron sharpens iron; so a man sharpens the countenance of his friend.”  Proverbs 27:17   I frequently find, in civil discourse, that I discover some new aspect of something.  It may even lead to a change of mind, change of focus, or at least a shared understanding.  It is the lack of civil discourse which leads folks to start thinking of themselves more highly than they ought, believing they are the true founts of knowledge from which all others must drink.  Once again:  how arrogant!  At the bottom of this tendency is pride:  bow to my wishes, ideas, political beliefs, etc., or I’ll make you wish you had!  I don’t know about you, but when people go on the attack, I don’t want to discuss with them any more.  Some people seem to like arguing, but I don’t like arguing just for the sake of arguing.  That is drama.  I do enjoy a good debate, however, where each side presents their ideas in civility, actually listening to the other person instead of eating them alive for daring to disagree.  It is when we isolate ourselves from the ideas of others (not accepting, but treating the person with respect) that we become narrow-minded hypocrites, full of self, seeking to make others into a carbon copy of us.

►Find ways to disagree charitably

Agreeing to disagree (in the political arena and elsewhere) allows us to share with one another, sharpen one another, and change society as a whole.  Regardless of what you think about my beliefs, ideas and ideals, feel free to agree or disagree, but please don’t scream at me, curse at me or call me names.  People are always in the teaching process.  When someone does the above, he or she has taught me something.  When a person is disrepectful, he or she has taught something.  People constantly teach others about something through their words and deeds:  they give a glimpse into their character, that inner person.  Civil discourse teaches others that while you uphold your own beliefs, you are willing to listen respectfully to others, and maybe, just maybe, learn something in the process.

God cares about the way we argue

“We shouldn’t retreat from the public square and we should work to build a better society. But I’m convinced that God cares about the way we argue as much as He cares about  the issues we espouse.”  This quote from Daniel Darlings blog post “Some great advice for the election season,” [where I discovered the Amy E. Black article].  As we dive into the debates, caucases and general election melee, God is watching and listening.  He cares about how you present yourself to the world.  He calls all of us to love, even when we disagree with one another!

 

Have you been guilty of mistreating another who disagrees with you?

Have you ever been on the recieving end of such?

How do you respond when others disrespect your beliefs or your right to have and express your beliefs, especially in the political arena?

How do you respond when others disagree with you?   Have you ever evaluated or prayed about your response?

You may be the only Jesus some people see.  Evaluate your ideals, beliefs and actions in light of the Scripture, and then go out as a light in the darkness and as salt to savor a bland world, debating with civility and the keeping the real enemy in mind.

Starvin’ Marvin’

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Have you ever wondered why we fall into the same old patterns of behavior – even tough we don’t want to and are determined not to?  The previous post gives us part of the answer – feeding the “flesh” makes it grow in its ability to control you.   The other part of the answer is to not just stop feeding, we also have to take an active role in starving it.

Garbage In

One of the first ways we starve our flesh is by stopping the inflow of garbage that comes in through our eyes and ears.  That movie that tempts you to look at porn or fantasize about someone other than the spouse, that song that spews foul words,  that game that causes us to spend too much time away from our loved ones or yelling at them to get out of the way or be quiet, that computer site that also eats our time and adds its own temptations.

What makes it garbage?

All of the above and more are not inherently bad things.  There are good movies, songs, video games, books, magazines, plays, television shows, etc., that are not garbage, but cause us to neglect more important things.  Maybe one thing is not your area of temptation and has no effect on you, but stymies your brother.  The important thing is too look objectively at the things we allow into our lives from the aspect of it’s content and what it does or does not cause us to do or not do.  Some things are automatically on this list from a biblical perspective, but others depend on how you use them.

Good better best.

An old saying my Mother used to use says,  “Good, better, best, put it to the test, till your good is better and your better is best.”  Some things are not wrong in and of themselves, but often we spend too much time on the good and miss out on the best.  If your time would be better spent on something else, this item needs to go on your garbage list.

Garbage out, now what?

It’s not enough just to take out the bad or stop putting garbage in. We must also start putting in the good if we want to conquer the flesh.  There’s a saying that talks about nature abhoring a vacuum.  That works here too.  If you leave an empty space, your enemy will soon find a way to fill it.  So along with taking out the garbage and cleaning house, we must bring good things into our ‘house’ to replace those bad things we threw out.

It works for all

“Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.” Philippians 4:8

If you are one of my non-Christian readers, this concept will help you as well, although the power of the Holy Spirit in the committed Christian goes a long way toward fighting fleshly desires.  The point is that replacing that garbage with beautiful furnishings of things that are just, pure, true, honest, good, and worthy of praise, helps keep that old garbage from creeping back in over time.

Discovering the counterfeit

Bank/treasury works learn to spot counterfeit money by handling real money so much that they instantly recognize a counterfeit when it passes through their hands.  Deciding what is “garbage” and what is lovely works in the same way.  We have to become so familiar with the good, with the things of God, that we instantly know when we are being fed garbage.  The enemy is very good at making the counterfeit so much like the real that many people have no idea they are eating the garbage.  But the more time you spend doing/hearing/seeing the good things, the God things, the more likely you will be able to make that distinction as you seek to starve out that fleshly nature.

You knew this was coming

Some of the things we can do, besides following the above verse, are listed below.

Using all the items at hand to keep from feeding the flesh and start starving it will help you in your walk with Christ or your search to eliminate those bad habits or sins that so easly beset us.   It may will take a lifetime, but it is worth the pursuit of purity.  Expect that the flesh will not go down easily, however, and watch out for his tactics.

Can you think of other ‘weapons’ you can use to starve the flesh?

Do you have a story of how you have (God has) defeated the flesh?

Does anything work better for you than another?

Do your intentions get in the way of your follow through?

Getting our feed on

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So how do we feed that sin nature or the negative part of ourselves?  Each of us feed in the same way and in different ways.  Even though we each have different temptations, there is “no temptation taken us, but such as is common to man.”   (  )   We are all in the same boat.  We all struggle; the struggle is the commonality in all.

The flesh has a name

Some of the sins listed in the Bible include:  lying/dishonesty, adultery/sexual sin, gossip/backbiting/slander, pride, covetousness/envy, greed, gluttony and much more.  Whatever your particular struggle, you probably feed it, without even meaning to or understanding what you do.  Maybe your ‘flesh’ is a habit, such as not taking care of yourself physically, emotionally, spiritually or otherwise.  Whether your fleshly shortcoming is something you do that you shouldn’t or something you don’t do that you should, all of us have something, or many somethings, that we struggle with on a daily basis.

Becoming aware

One of the first steps toward breaking these strongholds is awareness.  Ask God to show you where you are feeding or making provision for the flesh.  Ask yourself and be open when you see yourself doing it.  For some it will help to write it down, make a list or take an ‘inventory’.  For others, a trusted friend to talk with be accountable with can help.

I can’t help it.

Chances are you will find yourself saying or thinking, “But I can’t help it” as you give in once again to the flesh.  That is a clue that at that point, your flesh has been fed and has enough strength to chain you to him once again.  If you are a human being, you have been a part of the cycle of  feeding the need, giving in to the need, remorse, trying to white knuckle it and ‘give it up’ only to start all over again.  If you are a Christian, you have been freed from the chains of this bondage, but you probably have one or more areas where you live as if you are still in bondage.

It starts in the mind

Sin (and even the bad habit) always starts in the mind.  The thought flashes in, a memory of pleasure felt, an image is seen, or something else happens to bring the desire to the mind.  Next time we’ll talk about ways to stop the cycle, but for today’s post, let’s say you begin to dwell on it, think about it, imagine it, or relive it.  Soon it is like the elephant in the room.  You can’t seem to look anywhere else until you become consumed with the need to fulfil the lust of the flesh.  Then plans are made (sometimes unconsciously) to get the ‘need’ met.   Here we go back to the garbage in/garbage out saying.  When we continue to allow things into our minds/eyes/ears that tempt us, we will continue to have the problem.

The other side of the coin.

Suppose your problem is laziness.  You know supper needs done, but you want to watch your favorite Soap or take a nap.  This works the same way – your mind begins to dwell on the nap/Soap and all the reasons why you can put off starting supper.  You sit in front of your television set, intending to just watch for a bit; your eyes droop; you start to snore.   Then, with a jerk, you wake up and see that your spouse will be home in five mintues and supper hasn’t even been started.  This is when you go into remorse mode.  You will probably think up excuses (lies) to explain why you haven’t done this.  {No calls from feminists please – it’s just an example}  Then you may make it worse by calling the pizza guy or running to McDonalds to serve your family less-than-healthy food.  The point is that giving in to the flesh involves the things we do and the things we don’t do.

What’s your struggle?

Have you ever felt helpless in the struggle or as if you are the only one?

Do you feel shame and think others would judge you if they ever found out?

Do you find yourself ‘making provision for the flesh’?

What are some ways you have fed your flesh, wrong desires, bad habits?

Have you allowed garbage in?

Feel free to share your own struggles and ideas.  Are there other questions you think I should ask?   

To be continued….

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