Why shouldn’t I sin?

Today I lost my dignity for about 10 minutes and those 10 minutes felt like an eternity. I love the word meltdown. I think I had a quick meltdown. I was disappointed by a person’s actions and the consequences that I could predict at that time would mean a major change in my plans. I gave way to tears, but then I remembered what I have been preaching, so I pulled myself together, rebuked the devil, praised the Lord for the plan He has for this situation and carried on with my work. About an hour later the situation had taken a turn for the better and everything was sorted. Now I’m asking the question, “Would it have worked out this way if I had carried on being miserable, pitying myself, and not praising the Lord?”

 

Psalm 37:4-5, “Delight yourself in the Lord, and do good;

And He shall give you the desires of your heart.

Commit your way to the Lord,

Trust also in Him,

And He shall bring it to pass.

Rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for Him;

Do not fret because of the man who brings wicked schemes to pass.

Cease from anger, and forsake wrath;

Do not fret – it only causes harm.”

 

We have to practice to always look for God’s point of view in everything we do. We used to have those bracelets which said, What Would Jesus Do? We seriously need to be asking ourselves that question before we dissolve in tears or anger or frustration. Would Jesus have reacted the way I did? I’m very sure He would not have. He would have been calm and collected, spoken to his Father and had the situation resolved in half the time, or at least have been calm all the way up to where there was a solution. We are so impatient, even the patient one’s sometimes. Why is it so easy to fly off the handle? Why is it so easy to forget what God is promising in His Word? We forget everything in a moment of weakness. Is it worse for me to forget that God has a plan and be upset, or is it worse for someone who is a recovering addict to forget that God has a plan and go back to their alcohol, tobacco or drugs? I don’t think there’s any difference at all. At the end of the day there’s a measure of unbelief and we fall back into patterns that we are used to. But we, as Christians, are so quick to judge someone else’s sin. Matthew 7:5, “Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brothers eye.” Isn’t that what we do, especially if we’ve done something that’s not so nice. We look to make our mistake look like a molehill while someone else’s is a mountain.

 

Romans 5:8-9, “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him.” The sin referred to here is the sin of not believing in Jesus, the sin of not being saved. So, if God loved us enough to let Jesus die for us, how great is His love for us? Can we ever understand it? It’s so easy for us to equate everything to works and to deeds. Good and bad. But because God doesn’t judge us according to the law, why do we want to do it to our fellow believers all the time? I believe that when I got upset I was not being judged by God, but I was bringing consequences of my actions on myself. When I realized I was being stupid in my reaction and I changed my attitude, God could put His power into the situation and work a positive outcome.

I am going to try to be more positive even when I don’t feel like it. What about you?

 

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Are we slaves?

Someone mentioned that their son is out of work because his boss wasn’t being fair to him and she agreed that it wasn’t right to work for someone like that. I have always thought that every person should follow their passion in life. It sounds so right and it would be amazing if it could really work that way. Unfortunately some people are forced into jobs that don’t suit their personalities and even worse, that don’t suit their skills. We have lots of square pegs in round holes all over the place. But what should you do about it if you are one of those square pegs and the hole you’ve been shoved into is round or even oval?

 

1 Peter 2:18 – 21, “Servants, be submissive to your masters with all fear, not only to the good and gentle, but also to the harsh. For this is commendable, if because of conscience  toward God one endures grief, suffering wrongfully. For what credit is it if, when you are beaten for your faults, you take it patiently? But when you do good and suffer, if you take it patiently, this is commendable before God. For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us and example, that you should follow His steps:” Ehpesians 6:5-8, “Bondservants, be obedient to those who are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in sincerity of heart, as to Christ; not with eyeservice, as men pleasers, but as bondservants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart, with goodwill doing service, as to the Lord, and not to men, knowing that whatever good anyone does, he will receive the same from the Lord, whether he is slave or free.”

 

Yes, I realize you aren’t a slave and you have free will, but unfortunately we aren’t always able to choose the job of our dreams. We have to live, pay the rent, feed ourselves and our children. Most of the time it’s not okay to just dump your job because you don’t like what you’re doing, or because you don’t like your boss. We all have responsibilities and even though not everyone has a family to support, living off your parents because you think life isn’t fair, isn’t right either. I have worked in jobs where I didn’t exactly like the job and I have worked for bossed who weren’t fair or nice! I persevered with the job until the right time came to leave. These verses say that you should do what you do for the Lord and not for men.

 

Jeremiah 29:11-13, “For I know the thoughts I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for me with all your heart” Philippians4:11, “Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am to be content.” Paul wrote this while he was in prison!  I’m looking at these verses and I think God is saying that it doesn’t matter where we find ourselves, we should be satisfied to be at that place doing the thing we are doing. That doesn’t mean that if I am a dish washer right now, I must decide to remain a dish washer all my life. It means that if I seek the Lord, truly seek His face and His plan, then He is going to guide me and lead me and He is going to promote me in due time. He is going to tell me when I should make a move. Job offers might even come my way without me looking for them. He will show me the right time to sell my business. He is even going to send the right buyer to my doorstep. We often see things like this happening and we say, “Some people have all the luck. They don’t have to put in an effort, things just come to them.” Nobody knows how much effort they put in on their knees though. Matthew 6:6, “But you, when you pray, go into your room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father  who sees in secret will reward you openly.”

 

 

Don’t take offence, be happy

Yesterday I saw a shop assistant looking very grumpy. She had offense written all over her face. I don’t she thought it amusing at all when I asked where her smile was. The look I received said it all. ‘How am I supposed to smile when I’ve been treated like that?’ But I was being very serious. If someone does something you don’t like, if they insult you or reprimand you without reason, it shouldn’t be your problem. Say, for instance, my colleague says that I am as fat as a hippo, I can choose my reaction. I can decide whether I want to be affected by it or not. I can inspect his motivation and decide whether there is any substance in what he says. If I am overweight and I decide that I do actually need to lose weight, I can start eating healthy foods. If I am not overweight it can be that he is reacting either to something I said, or something someone else said. He could be teasing or he could be malicious. Whatever the reason, you should think about your reaction and never react emotionally as far as you can.

Proverbs 29:11, “A fool gives full vent to his spirit, but a wise man quietly holds it back.”

Proverbs 15:13, “A glad heart makes a cheerful face, but by sorrow of the heart the spirit is crushed.”

Proverbs 15:18, “A hot-tempered man stirs up strife, but he who is slow to anger quiets contention.”

Proverbs 25:28, “A man without self-control is like a city broken into and without walls.”

Proverbs 16:32, “Whoever is slow to anger is better than the mighty, and he who rules his spirit than he who takes a city.”

Joshua 1:9. “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”

 

God needs us to have control over our emotions, especially the negative ones. How are we going to be his ambassadors. How can we claim to be made in God’s image if we do not have self-control, which just happens to be one of the fruit of the Spirit. James 3:9-10, “with it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God. From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so.” Romans 12:2,”Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”

 

It makes such a big difference to our own souls if we don’t react out of anger or spite. Just imagine this: Someone insults you, throws out a careless remark and instead of walking around with a long face all day, you just smile and go about whatever you do as you would do when you are happy. Don’t allow him to get inside your head. Just think of his reaction. He won’t understand what is going on. He might think that you have lost some of your cognitive sense, but he definitely isn’t going to understand. 1 Thessalonians 5;16-19, “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. Do not quench the Spirit.” I cannot feel bad if I’m smiling. There’s something about smiling, and I mean really smiling brightly, that you can’t fake. You simply have to feel better if you smile. You must really practice not taking offense. It must be a conscious decision. So the outcome will be that you are feeling good and can carry on doing good things and praising God. It’s hard to praise when you’re angry or upset. Proverbs 25:21-22, “If our enemy is hungry, give him bread to eat; And if he is thirsty, give him water to drink; For so you will heap coals of fire on his head, And the Lord will reward you.” Now who doesn’t want to be rewarded by God?

 

Let’s use self-control and not throw tantrums like children, let us keep rejoicing, get into the habit of rejoicing and praising, no matter how bad the circumstances. Don’t rent out space in your head to anyone except the Holy Spirit.

What if Heaven is loud?

Yesterday I spoke about praising the Lord and how even the trees and the starts were created to praise God. We should be as uninhibited as they are in our praise, but very few actually are. I was speaking to a friend about it and she confirmed my feelings that we have been conditioned to conform to standards. There are certain norms and standards that are considered to be correct and if we step out of them we are looked upon as rebellious, eccentric or even crazy. We aren’t supposed to make waves. We have to look like others look, speak like others speak and behave like we are expected to. We are expected to fit into boxes that have been created by society. In the last 100 years or so with the advent of communications the pressure has become increasingly more. Now that the internet and social media is replacing television and is available to virtually everyone in every place the pressure is really on.

Even in church there are ways to praise and worship that are dictated by tradition, by the leaders or by popular opinion. If the majority of people in a church raise their hands during praise, then it is acceptable. If one person in a church decides they want to raise their hands, they might receive a few glances from disapproving congregants. If dancing is allowed in a church there will be someone who has something to say about it. What is appropriate and what is not appropriate? And who is going to decide whether it is acceptable or not? I’m not saying this because of any particular incident or because I have sour grapes about anything. I’m just observing and speculating. I think life for the minister or pastor of a church must be very difficult. Trying to keep a few hundred people happy is a daunting task, and I am definitely not judging them because I don’t envy their position. Someone mentioned that if there are a lot of older people in a service the music should be more sedate. I have never been able to understand that because I don’t feel any older than I was when I was 30 years ago and I don’t feel any differently to the tempo or the volume of music.

I think the congregants should be more accepting of one another and respect the way each person chooses to worship God. At the end of the day it’s about every person’s relationship with their Saviour.  Psalm 150 is the epitome of true worship,

“Praise the Lord!

Praise God in His sanctuary;

Praise Him in His mighty firmament!

Praise Him for His mighty acts;

Praise Him according to His excellent greatness!

Praise Him with the sound of the trumpet;

Praise Him with the lute and harp!

Praise Him with the timbrel and dance;

Praise Him with stringed instruments and flutes!

Praise Him with loud cymbals;

Praise Him with clashing cymbals!

Let everything that has breath praise the Lord.

Praise the Lord!

 

How amazing would a church service be if we could all just do what it says in this psalm. I know that we aren’t all in the same place spiritually and some of us wouldn’t even consider being louder than a whisper in church. But there are people who are really excited about being believers and who are in nature more outgoing and who would love to shout it out for the whole world to hear. Revelation 4:5, “And from the throne proceeded lightnings, thunderings, and voices.” Revelation 5:11-12, “Then I looked, and I heard the voice of many angels around the throne, the living creatures, and the elders; and the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands, saying with a loud voice: “Worthy is the Lamb who was slain to receive power and riches and wisdom, And strength and honor and glory and blessing!”

 

I think heaven is going to be a very, very loud place. With all the angels and living creatures and elders and harps it is definitely not going to be quiet or sedate. A place of exuberant worship, a place where nobody is going to judge you when you decide to dance like David danced. So, if God’s throne room is really going to be the way it is described in the Bible, shouldn’t we start practicing and get used to being a little bit less judgmental and a little more uninhibited in our praise?

Stage 1 or 2?

Stage 1, 2, 3 or 4 have become household words in South Africa. Everyone knows what they mean and I’m sure many people have a loadshedding schedule pasted up against a wall. The electricity supply which is so crucial to so many businesses, hospitals, clinics etc. is interrupted two or three times daily because of a supply crisis. There are many and varied reasons and speculations. There are lots of cartoons and jokes doing the rounds. There are also a lot of angry people. It would be extremely worrying if people just accepted loadshedding as part of their lives and did not complain, joke or seek solutions. Living in darkness in the 21st century is just not acceptable. Or is it?

Lots of people live in spiritual darkness and accept it as normal. They stumble and grope their way through trials and troubles daily. They look for answers in all the wrong places. Why are bars and bottle stores so well supported? Why is the drug industry so lucrative? Why do casinos spring up even in small towns? Sex outside of marriage becomes more and more acceptable. All kinds of things that weren’t okay years ago have become the norm. Why are people looking in the wrong places for the answers they need?

The Gospel has become weak and watered down. There is little power in the church and on Sundays attending church is the last thing on most people’s minds.  2 Corinthians 4:3-4, “But even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, whose minds the god of this age has blinded, who do not believe, lest the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God should shine on them.” John 3:19 – 20, “And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. But he who does the truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be clearly seen, that they have been done in God.” Luke 1:78, “To give light to those who sit in darkness and the shadow of death, To guide our feet into the way of peace.”

If you are a child of God you are going to know when you’re doing things that you shouldn’t be doing, you are going to feel uncomfortable. You will know that something in wrong. If you do things that you don’t want everyone to know about then you are doing things in the dark. But there are so many people who do not know Jesus; people who aren’t children of God who are walking in the dark and who don’t have the Holy Spirit to guide them. These are the people who are seeking for the truth but they don’t find it in churches because the truth isn’t always preached. Sometimes there are pastors who are afraid of giving offense and they don’t preach the truth and they don’t preach love the way they should. They also don’t get out of the darkness by looking at the behaviour of Christians because too many Christians look just like the world. Believers should look different and sound different. Christians should be bold by proclaiming the Gospel like Jesus instructed.

Are we too scared of people’s opinions to be bold in our approach? Do we sound just like the world when we speak? Do we swear and curse and take the Lord’s name in vain? Do we take offense when people say things about us? Do we sulk and ignore people or do we lash out and criticize? Do we judge and hate just like the unbelievers?

Can people see that we are different and that we are striving to do what Jesus would have done? Are we truly trying to be like Jesus and shine our light before men? Isaiah 40:3. “The voice of one crying in the wilderness: “Prepare the way of the Lord; Make straight in the desert a highway for our God.” This was a prophecy about John the Baptist. Are we crying out in the wilderness, and in the towns and in the cities? Are we proclaiming the Gospel of Jesus Christ, or are we hiding our faith in fear that people will judge us? We need to be bold and strong and our lights need to shine brightly in this dark world.

Old Age

I have learned a lot looking at how older people handle life. Sometimes from their good example, and sometimes from their bad example. Unfortunately getting old or being old doesn’t magically make you a good person. You don’t suddenly develop good habits and good character traits when you pass 65 or 70 years of age. Someone I know was so shocked when he heard of a resident of the local old age home who has a problem with alcohol. His response was, “But they’re old! They should have left that stuff long ago.” Old age doesn’t make you a good person. I always tell my husband that we should be very nice to people now, because if we’re old and become cranky, then they will be able to excuse our behavior. If we are rude or grumpy now and still that way when we’re old, we won’t have an excuse!

I want to be a lovable, sweet-natured old lady who is a pleasure to be around. I don’t want to be a bad tempered, judgmental old bat who nobody wants to be near. The problem isn’t that you were born with a miserable personality, that you had a terrible childhood, that someone abused you or that the universe in general is doing its best to undermine you. The problem is the choices you make. Every day each one of us has multiple choices put before him or her. It’s like one of those question papers where you have to choose the right answers. You don’t even have to think up a response, you just have to choose. Someone once said that the choice shouldn’t be between good and bad, it should be between better and best. Myles Munroe said, “You must decide if you are going to rob the world or bless it with the rich, valuable, potent untapped resources locked away within you.” He also said, ”The past is the past. Who or what we used to be doesn’t matter anymore. What matters is who and what we are now and who and what we can become in the future.”

Do we want past hurts to continue haunting us throughout our lives, or do we want to choose to forgive? Is it worth dragging regrets along with us? We can drop them and embark on a wonderful and exciting new journey. We are never too old to start something new. Moses was 80 when God called him to lead the Jews out of Egypt. In fact, the Bible is full of old people doing amazing things! Sarah had a baby when she was 90. Elizabeth, the mother of John the Baptist birthed him after she was “well advanced in years.”  If they could do all those amazing things at their age, why can’t we be healed at any age? When we look back at everything we’ve been through there is always more than one time that God did a miracle for us, even though we possibly couldn’t see it at the time. Jeremiah 3:22, “Return, you backsliding children, and I will heal your backslidings.” Luke 4:18, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He has anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor; He has sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, To set at liberty those who are oppressed.”

The thing is, Jesus wants to heal us. That is what He came to earth for, but more than healing our bodies he wants to heal our souls. We need to be completely whole so that we can worship the Lord in Spirit and truth. We need to be whole so that we can love. The song ‘When all is said and done, says,

“When it’s all been said and done

All my treasures will mean nothing

Only what I have done for love’s rewards

Will stand the test of time.

 

I will always sing your praise

Here on earth and heaven after

For you’ve joined me at my true home

When it’s all been said and done

You’re my life when life is gone.”

 

Jesus is what really matters, and He wants us whole and functional and productive. He wants us to do what He did when He was on earth.

The Highest Praise

It rained today. Not for very long, but while it rained it came down in buckets! I just felt the joy of the land. The nourishing water soaking into the soil and the roots of the plants thirstily drinking in every precious drop. The leaves of the trees and the grass look greener and happier now that the dust has been washed off. I grew up on a farm and I remember seeing the cows jump for joy when it rained. Rain is life. Without water we cannot survive. Without water the earth will cease to exist as it is. While it was raining I was imagining the joy that the earth was showing and I was reminded of places in the bible where there are examples of objects like trees praising God.

Isaiah 55:12, “For you shall go out with joy,

And be led out with peace;

The mountains and the hills

Shall break forth into singing before you.

And all the trees of the field shall clap their hands.”

 

Psalm 98:4,7-8, “Shout joyfully to the Lord, all the earth;

Break forth in song, rejoice, and sing praises.

Let the sea roar and all its fullness,

The world and those who dwell in it;

Let the rivers clap their hands;

Let the hills be joyful together before the Lord.”

 

Nahum 1:5, “The mountains quake before him and the hills melt away.

The earth trembles at his presence the world and all who live in it.”

 

Psalm 104:3-9, “He lays the beams of his upper chambers in the waters,

Who makes the clouds His chariot, Who walks on the wings of the wind,

Who makes His angels spirits,

His ministers a flame of fire.

You who laid the foundations of the earth,

So that it should not be moved forever,

You covered it with the deep as with a garment;

The waters stood above the mountains.

At Your rebuke they fled;

At the voice of Your thunder they hastened away.

They went up over the mountains;

They went down into the valleys,

To the place which You founded for them.

You have set a boundary that they may not pass over,

That they may not return to cover the earth.”

 

Psalm 148:3-4, “Praise him, sun and moon;

Praise Him, all you starts of light!

Praise Him, you heaven of heavens,

And you waters above the heavens!

  1. 7-13

Praise the Lord from the earth,

You great sea creatures and all the depths;

Fire and hail, snow and clouds;

Stormy wind, fulfilling His word;

Mountains and all hills;

Fruitful trees and all cedars;

Beasts and all cattle;

Creeping things and flying fowl;

Kings of the earth and all peoples;

Princes and judges of the earth;

Both young men and maidens;

Old men and children.

Let them praise the name of the Lord,

For His name alone is exalted;

His glory is above the earth and heaven.”

 

Luke 19:39-40, “And some of the Pharisees called to Him from the crowd, ‘Teacher, rebuke Your disciples.’  But He answered and said to them, ‘I tell you that if these should keep silent, the stones would immediately cry out.’”

 

These verse are so beautiful. They seem to have surround sound, 3D and in full colour. Can you see it in your mind’s eye? The trees rejoicing, the streams, the stars, the moon and the sun are all praising God. The sea creatures and even the stones can praise God. That is just so profound. Such a thing to wrap your head around. As humans, we are supposedly the only creatures with a spirit and a soul and we can think rational thoughts. We don’t just react out of instinct and training. But do we praise God the way we should? Or are we holding back because we are afraid of what people are going to think? Do we really know how to praise God for all He is and all He has one for us? Can we truly say that we can lay down everything that is troubling us and just praise God with abandon? How were we brought up? “Don’t make a spectacle of yourself.” “Behave yourself.” “Children should be seen and not heard” “Sit still in church and don’t embarrass me.”

 

Those are some of the labels which can cause us to become self-conscious and embarrassed by our own actions. 2 Samuel 6:14, ‘Then David danced before the Lord with all his might; and David was wearing a linen ephod.” I’m not saying we should dance in public in your underwear, but I think we should get over ourselves and start praising God the way He deserves to be praised.

Death where is your sting?

Last week my mother in law passed away suddenly. I am at peace with her passing because she had lived a long life and she knew the Lord. There was no prolonged sick-bed or suffering. I believe she was ready to meet her Maker. I do not often think about death but when someone this close passed away it made me think. I am quite sure that the Bible doesn’t lie and that everyone who have given their lives to Jesus will not perish but receive everlasting life. At this stage all the details of how or where or what everything will look like does not concern me.

Acts 13:36 – 39, “For David, after he had served the purpose of God in his own generation, fell asleep and was laid with his fathers and saw corruption, but he whom God raised up did not see corruption. Let it be known to you therefore, brothers, that through this man forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you, and by him everyone who believes is freed from everything from which you could not be freed by the law of Moses.”

These verses are so profound. Firstly, it says that David served God’s purpose for him in his own generation. Therefore it proves that every person has a purpose. We just have to make sure that we are in conversation with God so that He can lead us on the path of that purpose. Secondly, he fell asleep. There are a lot of verses in the bible that compares death to sleep. I found 8. So, it death is compared to sleep it isn’t final. If you go to sleep, at some stage you wake up again. If we die, we will at some stage wake up again, only not in the same place or in the same body. Now, David saw corruption, but David lived in the Old Testament and David wasn’t washed by the blood of the Lamb. Ephesians 4:8, “Therefore it says, ‘When he ascended on high he led a host of captive and gave gifts to men.’ (In saying, ‘He ascended,’ what does it mean but that he also descended into the lower regions, the earth? He who descended is the one who also ascended far above all the heavens, that he might fill all things.”
1 Peter 3:18 – 20, “For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit, in which he went and proclaimed to the spirits in prison, because they formerly did not obey, when God’s patience waited, in the days of Noah…”
I believe that after Jesus died and went to hell to take the keys of death from Satan, he also preached to those who had never had the chance to hear the gospel. Revelation 1:17-18, “Fear not, I am the first and the last, and the living one. I died, and behold I am alive forevermore and I have the keys of Death and Hades.”
The death of Jesus was very sad at the time, but three days later, when He was resurrected and appeared to his disciples it was a time of joy and triumph. He had the chance to walk with them for 40 days before He ascended to heaven, and then later the believers received the Holy Spirit. When I look at death in this light of Acts 13:39 which says, “and by him everyone who believes is freed from everything from which you could not be freed by the law of Moses.” death becomes much less frightening if you look at it in this light. 1 Corinthians 15:55-57, “O, death where is your victory? O death, where is your sting? The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”
We need not fear death if we know Jesus. We can be comforted that those who go before us are only asleep and that we will see them again. Obviously we will be sad that they aren’t part of our lives at the moment, but death isn’t forever, it’s just a stepping stone into the eternal joy of being with your Heavenly Father.

Toss out the junk

Confession time! I am a recovering hoarder. Allow me qualify that though, I have never been at the level where someone had to come into my house and throw out things that I couldn’t get rid of myself. I did show tendencies of not being able to get rid of useful things though. I think its a kind of culture some people grow up with. If there’s a lack you are always thinking that there might not be enough of something in days to come and you tend to hold onto it. Maybe you think you won’t have enough money to buy something so you don’t throw out things. My weakness was art supplies. Even things like egg boxes and cardboard and string. Granted, given the time I would have been able to make some nice art from those things. But I don’t have the time. And my clothes closet. I’m a really bad clothes shopper so I tend to hold onto clothes that are comfortable, or that I think I might just wear again. One day, however, I went into the house of a hoarder and I decided that I would not put my family through the pain of having to toss out my junk. I started with my clothing first. I threw out everything I didn’t wear, didn’t fit me or that I didn’t like. Then I proceeded to my art and needlework supplies. After that my books and lastly the kitchen. It took a huge weight off my shoulders. Obviously I didn’t get rid of all my art and sewing supplies. I kept the things that I really use. It took such a burden off my shoulders. I worked out a system for storing things and it simplified my life to such an extent that I can spend time on the things that really feed my soul.

The best known verse about hoarding things must be Matthew 6:19, “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will also be.” If we spend a weekend away at a self catering cottage I always marvel at how minimalist the space is and how comfortable I feel. There aren’t any unnecessary distractions. A few nice paintings or pictures on the wall. A bowl on a table. No ornaments and niknaks decorating every space. Just calm, tranquillity and peace. There’s a saying that goes, “A healthy body houses a healthy mind.” I don’t know if I necessarily agree with that. I think we need to declutter our minds in order to have them functioning at a healthy level. It’s relatively easy to get rid of the clutter in your house. There are things that will always be sentimental, and there’s nothing wrong with having special furniture, books or photos. I have a shoebox with the very first clothes both my children wore after they were born, but I didn’t keep all their baby clothes. Just like that, there are memories and incidents we can store in the shoe boxes of our brain, but we don’t have to have it so jam-packed with memories that we have to wade through all the trash to get to the important stuff.

Our minds are often so full of hurts, resentment and even hate that we can’t live a normal life. We have to keep sifting through the sands of the past and filtering out what we don’t need. Anything that causes pain should be picked up and looked at. The answer is always forgiveness. Forgive the person who caused the pain. Sometimes its even yourself you have to forgive. Remember, forgiveness isn’t a feeling, its a decision. Do the forgiving you have to and toss it out. It’s taking up space you can use for a good memory. I remember having to forgive a teacher I had in grade 2 for saying something hurtful. I was 47 at the time. It had been causing me to think that there was something wrong with me for almost 40 years! It’s totally ridiculous that we don’t get taught to deal with things like this when we are kids. Please, I beg you, if you can’t unclutter your mind of past hurts by yourself, go to a counsellor who will be able to assist you, it’s just not worth living with all that junk. Toss it out and start living.

You’re a good good Father

Today was extremely difficult and trying. There were multiple issues, some out of my control and others caused indirectly by me! We sometimes make mistakes. We wilfully do things that are going to have bad consequences. Even while we do them we know the consequences aren’t going to be good, but we still do them. Maybe we wish nothing is going to happen, but these things usually catch up with us. So I am a Christian and I have done something wrong. Am I going to get punished by God? Am I going to miss out on Heaven? No not at all. Ephesians 2:8 – 9, “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of work, lest anyone should boast.” Good works cannot save us and neither can bad works condemn us. If I am a Christian then I know when I’ve done something I shouldn’t. I know when the Holy Spirit nudges me and says, ‘you shouldn’t have made that decision,” or, “Seriously, Alex, Is that your idea of being righteous?” Do I feel guilty if I do something wrong? Yes!! But if I’m wise only for long enough to repent and to apologize to God. I really don’t want God to be displeased with me. I want to have that intimate relationship with Him. John 1 :13 – 14, “But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, not of the will of man, but of God.”

So, if god is our Father, like it says multiple times in the bible, is He suddenly going to stop being our father because we do something He didn’t want us to do? If your child breaks the neighbour child’s toys, you are going to be very displeased with him, and you will carry out some kind of punishment so that he can learn a lesson.  Will he still be your child? Will you still be his parent? Yes, of course! God doesn’t stop being our Father because we messed up. He might not be very pleased with our behaviour, but He certainly won’t stop being our Father.  Galatians 4:6-7, “And because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying out, ‘Abba Father!’ Therefore you are no longer a slave but a son, and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ.” Clearly we are God’s children, not foster children, or servants, we are His legitimate children. Ephesians 1:4 – 5, “just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him is love, having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will,” Isn’t that just wonderful? Adopted children are just as legally someone’s children as children are by birth.

Okay, we’ve established that we aren’t going to be rejected because we did something dumb. Is God going to punish us? I don’t think so; Jesus already took everything on Himself on the cross. We will have to face the consequences of our irresponsibility though. We are still God’s children and He is still our Father.  Once we have asked Him to forgive us – not because we are going to lose our salvation, but so that we can restore our relationship – so that He will be pleased with us. Psalm 103:8, “The Lord is merciful and gracious, Slow to anger, and abounding in love.” Psalm 86:5, “For You, Lord, are good, and ready to forgive, And abundant in mercy to all those who call upon You,” We should not waste time on the process of getting back into our intimate place with God. If we are going through hours and days of feeling guilty, just remember guilt comes from the enemy, not from God. The devil wants us to believe that we aren’t good enough and that God is rejecting us.

Chris Tomlin sings, “You’re a good, good Father, it’s who you are, And I’m loved by You. It’s who I am. God loves us and we are loved by Him. Don’t forget that!