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Our Faithfulness to the Father

I met Jill* when I volunteered to be part of a new discipleship program at my church.  I was to guide her through a program which helps newer or younger believers understand their faith in God and Jesus.  At our first meeting she described her life situation as fairly dire.  After becoming pregnant as a teenager much of her family disowned her.  If not for her godparents she would have found herself destitute.  Fortunately, she and her mother eventually came to a place in their relationship where she and her son could temporarily live in her mother’s house.  

As I listened, I discovered a few things.  First, her professed Christian grandfather had a lot to learn about love.  At every turn he made her and her son feel outside the love of God because of her sin.  Second, I realized, having asked her what she believed, her faith was based on what others believed.  She could not answer what she honestly believed.  And lastly, I witnessed how easily it is for us to focus on the terrible things in our life and push God to the outskirts.  

If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind."  James 1:5-6

I’ve referenced the book of James before because it is a no nonsense look at life’s reality – we will experience trials and temptations.  We shouldn’t be surprised by this statement.  Sure, we are maybe stunned by what the trial is or the level of its awfulness.  But we live in a broken world full of sin and sinful people.  The key to all of this is first seeking God’s wisdom in a trial.  Turning to Him before all else.  And secondly, to have faith without doubting that He will find a way.  That path He works you through might have a few more bumps and bruises in store but with our eyes fixed firmly on Him we will also see the blessings before us.  And when we feel we can’t or don’t know what to pray?  We ask the Holy Spirit for help.  “Help me stay faithful, help me to know what to pray!”

So why did I bring up Jill?  Over the next few months, I tried encouraging her to ask God in prayer for direction, both about a job and her housing.  I pointed out the blessings in the midst of her trial.  I urged her to see the work God was doing in her life.  What I got back from her was the opposite.  I’m sure we have all been in relationships like this (or maybe we’ve been the one like this).  At each turn a blessing she received was still not good enough.  There was always something else wrong.  She told me she was getting nothing from God.  And yet she had a place to live, food to eat, a school for her son, a church that was helping her, and someone to talk to – me.

How many of us when we are in the inevitable troughs of life, troughs that feel lacking in joy and love, create an equally deep trough of faith?  If asked that question just a couple years ago I would have raised my hand in agreement.  God’s not there.  God’s not listening.  God doesn’t care about me.  God doesn’t see me.  And sometimes leading to my cry, “I don’t believe in you anymore!”  

Friend, God never, ever leaves.  He never stops listening and responding.  He never stops loving.  But we do.  And it’s time to start a new practice.  I used to tell the girls I coached in softball, “If you keep practicing something the wrong way you will get very good at doing it…the wrong way.”  So, yes, it’s time to look in the mirror and tell yourself a new approach is needed.  A new way of practicing our faith.  The second life takes a twist we must drop to our knees in faith.  We become people with buckets overflowing with faithfulness rather than fruitlessness.  Because let’s be honest, the old way really wasn’t working that great in the first place, right?

"When Jesus heard this, he marveled and said to those who followed him, 'Truly, I tell you, with no one in Israel have I found such faith.'" Matthew 8:10

Do you want to be recognized by Jesus like the Roman centurion who pled with Jesus to heal his servant?  He told Jesus he had faith that Jesus didn’t even need to come to his house in order to perform the miracle.  He told Jesus – “just say it and it will be done.”  Whew!  That’s some amazing faith for a man who shouldn’t have had anything to do with this Jew.

I love this quote by Charles Spurgeon about our relationship with the Almighty during difficult times:

When you go through a trial, the sovereignty of God is the pillow upon which you lay your head.

Charles Spurgeon

When it comes right down to it you have to ask yourself, “Do I trust God? Do I have real faith that He is faithful?”  Not just in the good but in the bad.  When you are facing homelessness, financial ruin, the death of a loved one, sickness, pain, betrayal, and more – are you finally ready to say to Him, “You give every good and beautiful thing. And I know you will work this out for my good.”?

It’s time for a perspective shift in our faith lives.  Seek the blessings.  Search them out more earnestly than we do trying to find the worst in any situation.  You’ll find it’s not that difficult after a while.  That’s the fruit of faithfulness.  That’s loving a God who loves you deeply.

I have read mystery and detective books my whole life, starting with Nancy Drew.  Recently I decided to use any free time to read various theological books.  I’m currently in the midst of the Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis.  For those not in the know about this book, it’s letters from a “head” demon advising a lower demon on how to best ensure his assigned “patient” goes to hell.  I was writing this post on faithfulness and came across this passage:

“In a week or two you will be making him doubt whether or not the first days of his Christianity were not, perhaps, a little excessive.  Talk to him about ‘moderation in all things’.  If you can once get him to the point of thinking that ‘religion is all very well up to a point’, you can feel quite happy about his soul.  A moderated religion is as good for us as no religion at all – and more amusing.  Your affectionate uncle, Screwtape.  

On the troughs of faith, The Screwtape Letters, C.S. Lewis

Think on that spiritual battle in your next trough.  Will you allow it to pull you further down?  Or will you fight back in faithfulness?

Coming up: Faithfulness in action

*Jill is not her real name

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Fruit of the Spirit: Goodness & Kindness

When my eldest daughter was little, she loved and admired her grandfather greatly.  She loved him to such an extent that if she were caught doing something she shouldn’t, he could just look at her and she’d cry.  She wanted so much to please him that she would do anything to be in his good graces.  My question for you is, who do you love and admire so much that you would do just about anything in order to please them?  You take their advice.  You model your behavior and even thoughts after them.  You may not even realize you have a relationship like this with someone but you probably do.  

The danger is that, as infallible humans, we will invariably get something wrong.  It’s how our idols fall into disfavor.  Relationships get fractured when the one we’ve placed on the pedestal fails us.  There has only been one person that walked this planet who truly deserves that level of devotion – Jesus.  So, my other question is, have you placed God at the top of the list of ones you most love and desire to reflect?

Dear friend, do not imitate what is evil but what is good. Anyone who does what is good is from God. Anyone who does what is evil has not seen God. 3 John 11

What exactly is this “good” that is a reflection or imitation of God?  The word “good” is written 725 times in our Bible.  From Genesis 1:4 all the way to 3 John we read of good and goodness.  I’ll take a leap here and say that of all the fruits of the spirit, love, peace and goodness may be the most misunderstood by Christians and especially non-Christians.  

When we say something is “good” its use can be as widespread as “loving” something thing.  “I love good sourdough bread” is not the same as “loving our neighbors reflects the goodness of God.”  The first is a fleshly desire of something made well.  The second describes a self-less act imitating the character of God.

God is not merely good, but goodness; goodness is not merely divine, but God.

C.S. Lewis

Each one of the fruit of the spirit listed by Paul in Galatians deals with either the state of our soul and/or an action thereof.  All of the fruit are a result of the Holy Spirit’s work in us in creating us more like Jesus.  Therefore, the “goodness” in this list requires us first to investigate what is the goodness of God?

Oh, how abundant is your goodness,
    which you have stored up for those who fear you
and worked for those who take refuge in you,
    in the sight of the children of mankind! Psalm 31:19

When you look up the word “goodness” in Strong’s Concordance it has you refer to the index.  In the index it equates what goodness refers to in various parts of scripture.  All the references are attached to God’s character:

  • Abundant (Exodus 34:6)
  • Great   (Psalm 31:19)
  • Enduring (Psalm 52:1)
  • Satisfying (Psalm 65:4)

I would add to this list that God’s loving character also brings these other good things to our world: light, faithfulness, joy, mercy, and grace.  The words “it was good” are used over and over coming from God’s mouth to describe His glorious creation —  His great love in action.

When I said that the word “goodness” or “good” is listed among some of the most misunderstood I meant this – that apart from God no one’s soul imitates this goodness.  Yes, even that person that seems really, really good.  

If you ask a Humanist or atheist to define their morals or values, they’ll probably list things that actually are God-given commands.  The difference is, commands such as “do not steal” become wishy washy depending upon the non-believer’s circumstances.  You see, we ALL choose someone or something to imitate and hold up as the pinnacle of moral authority.  But non-Christians (and unfortunately some Christians) hold up humans as that authority.  And we are and do what we love, made worse when it is ourself.

Goodness is virtue and holiness in action. It results in a life characterized by deeds motivated by righteousness and a desire to be a blessing. It’s a moral characteristic of a Spirit-filled person. The Greek word translated “goodness,” agathosune, is defined as “uprightness of heart and life.” 

Got Questions, A Christian Podcast

Righteousness, “uprightness,” can only come from one source: the sacrifice of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  He not only cleansed us of the guilt and sin we carry but made it so we can be called to goodness.  To reflect the goodness of God.  

God wants to be united with us in full.  He loves us, brings us joy and peace.  He’s asking us to be so in love with Him, so admiring of Him that we too want to fill our souls and the world with light, abundance, mercy and grace.  To set aside all other idols and place Him front and center.  For when we do, our goodness will naturally lead us to action.  Those actions are called love, patience and kindness.

Coming up: Selfishness or Selflessness

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The State of Peacefulness

Throughout the last three years with my Bible study girls (BSGs) I noticed what we all struggle with the most — control.  Or on the flipside, lack of trust.  The results of that need to control typically lead to lack of peace.  We humans like to manage situations and people without first consulting the “man upstairs.” The inevitable results create frustration, hurt feelings, anger and more.  

Instead, we turn to the desires of the flesh listed just above the fruits of the Spirit in Galatians 5: sexual immorality, impurity, debauchery, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions, and envy.  

We must picture hell as a state where everyone is perpetually concerned about his own dignity and advancement, where everyone has a grievance, and where everyone lives with the deadly serious passions of envy, self-importance, and resentment.

C.S. Lewis, The Screwtape Letters

You may look around your own Bible study groups, church friends or even just the “good” people you know and think, “Nah, we never do any of that horrible stuff!”  You might recall, however, at the beginning of this study on love that Jesus considers gossiping or defaming someone “murder.”  Yikes!

We take our newly signed peace treaty with God and consider it a license to do what our flesh desires.  Maybe thinking He won’t notice.  We turn from the peace table, walk out the door and get angry at the first person who doesn’t do what we think they should.  We fantasize of a spouse who would love us so much better, we drink away our anxieties, hold onto our bank accounts for fear of the poorhouse, speak of “Karma” when hurt by others, become jealous of our non-Christian neighbors with the fancy new car, or just turn away from others who need a bit of kindness.

Friend, God has implanted in each and every one of us the knowledge of His existence.  Somehow, we all know what His desires are for our behavior, for our hearts.  

"Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you." James 1:21

We know, through the Holy Spirit what is right and wrong in God’s view.  When we actively or even passively work against this you know what the inevitable result is?  Lack of peacefulness.  That niggling in your heart and mind is God’s way of reminding you of the path toward peace.  And yet we so often ignore it. We’ve been rejecting the Prince of Peace and His path since He walked on this Earth.

“On the next Sabbath almost the whole city gathered to hear the word of the Lord. When the Jews saw the crowds, they (the Pharisees) were filled with jealousy. They began to contradict what Paul was saying and heaped abuse on him. Then Paul and Barnabas answered them boldly: “We had to speak the word of God to you first. Since you reject it and do not consider yourselves worthy of eternal life, we now turn to the Gentiles.” Luke 13: 44-46 

How incredibly sad is this point in scripture?  The Pharisees and Sadducees were spoon-fed by Jesus, Himself, the truth.  The glory of the heavens was opened to them.  The bountiful, beautiful life was placed on a platter before them and they rejected it out of jealousy.  Out of fleshly desires.  Do we want to be listed among them?  I pray your answer is no.  

I heard a podcast recently by John Ortberg on taking a hold of the beautiful life God wants for us.  He spoke of not just cutting out actions and thoughts from our lives but more importantly replacing them with a positive action and thought.  The Bible speaks of cleaning house but not leaving it empty for the thief to come and take up residence.  Therefore, if we want not just the glorious peace with God but God’s gift of peacefulness, we need to replace our desires of the flesh with His goodness.  With the blossoms of love and joy.  With trust that our God does in fact know what He is doing.  He is greater than us in every aspect and will provide.  

Through prayer, obedience and knowledge of His Word we can, with the Holy Spirit’s guidance, rest in His peace.  Ask Him today to shine a light on the areas that are creating deadly weeds in our hearts.  The Great Gardner will create a beautiful peacefulness in you that you never could’ve imagined!

Coming Up: Resting In Peace

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A Gardener of Love

She turned to drugs and alcohol to dull her childhood pain.  The pain inflicted by an abusive, angry father.  Her body was being ravaged by anger, hatred and shame.  The feelings of worthlessness.  And Jesus met her one night in an incredible vision.  Upon waking she instantly accepted Him as her new, eternal, loving Father and set aside drugs and alcohol.  It was her offering, her gift back to the Lord, however, that most likely had Him dancing in heaven.  It wasn’t a payment because the Lord saves us without cost from us, without our need to do anything but say, “yes.”  No, it was the only thing she really had to offer – love.  Not just for the Lord but for her earthly father.

I met Julie* in a home Bible study.  During the next few years, I watched as this daughter of God set aside her anger and any need for retribution while she travelled out of state to help care for her ailing father.  Not once did I hear her speak ill of him again.  She didn’t seek platitudes for her service to this man who had emotionally and physically abused her.  She didn’t see it as an annoyance.  No, she tended to her father as Jesus’ bond-servant.  Sent in His name.  

You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love. 14 For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself. 15 If you bite and devour each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other. Galatians 5:13-15

And what are the desires of the flesh? “Sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery;  idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like.” (Gal 5:19-21).  Placed right there in the middle could probably be seen as the root of the rest of those desires – selfishness.  Our need to receive retribution from those who have hurt us.  We want so much to cry out, “but, but, but!” and list our excuses as to why we can’t show someone love.

Pride leads to every other vice: it is the complete anti-God state of mind…… it is Pride which has been the chief cause of misery in every nation and every family since the world began.  

C.S. Lewis

When we place ourselves as “better than” the root of hatred is sown.  “I would never do such a thing” when in fact we may do a version of such action daily.  It is a well-honed habit that is encouraged by the world.  While I may not ever murder a person as the Law warns I certainly have held murderous thoughts, which Jesus calls equal to the actual act.  

How does one reach the point of loving and maybe even helping those who we just want eliminated from our lives?  How do we till a blooming, beautiful garden in our hearts, not one filled with weeds?   Julie sought to worship God through her actions.  She knew that harboring ill feelings toward her father only hurt one person – herself.  When called by her stepmother for help she stepped forward in faith.  Faith that the Lord wanted her to show mercy and grace. 

As for me?  It’s taken me many years but I finally sought wisdom from the God who provides it generously (James 1:5).  The Holy Spirit has shown me it’s better to love than to feel hate and anger.  I call that hate the “Black Swirly Ball” that wants to spin around in my chest from time to time.  I’m listening to the Spirit when it allows me to feel out of balance.  I get quiet, turn off the tv, the music, the phone and say, “Reveal to me what’s going on, Lord.  Show me where my pride or my need to be in the right is shoving out love.  Help me to pray for that person, not about them.”  You see I want that Black Swirly Ball to unravel and loosen my chest.  Then I can breathe the fresh air of God’s beauty.  I give it up to God and I ask the Holy Spirit to help me not grab it back – ever.  I bring my raw emotions to the Lord and He clears my mind.  Often, He asks me to serve those I find difficult to serve.  When I do, I demonstrate to the people around me the work Christ has done in my heart.

My friends, if all we ever are able to do in the name of love is pray for the revealing light of God to enter into our “enemy” we’ve tilled the soil for something good to happen in us.  We’ve said to Jesus, “yes, I will love as you have loved me, a sinner for sure.”  We just need to be prepared for Him to ask us to take a step further and say, “Yes.”  In our real and true faith, we must believe without doubting that He will work it for our good and His glory.

“You have flaws, failures, and quirks that annoy and anger others.  In fact, you may be more like those whom you dislike than you’d care to admit.  But Jesus still loves you and died for you – just as He did for them.  What Christ did for you on the cross, He did for your worst enemy.  It’s when you humbly accept this fact that you can begin to love others as Jesus does.”  

Charles F. Stanley

Do you believe God?  Not just believe in God but have real faith in His words and promises.  If you do then you know He wants the best not just for you and your friends and family but for all people.  That person at work who is causing you so many troubles?  Show her love by seeing her as someone who has the weight of sin on her and needs your loving prayers.  The family member who speaks ill of you to the rest of the family?  He needs you to love him enough to ask God to intervene in his life.  The abortionist, false teacher, dictator, murderer, thief, liar all need you.  These people in one way or another are separated from God and I can’t think of a more terrible fate for which we should grieve.

Jesus commands us to love.  To love others as we are loved by Him, sinners one and all.  This week I encourage you to demonstrate your real faith and experience the greatest fruit ever to blossom from us – love. 

*Julie is not her real name

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Sojourners & Exiles

No one serving as a soldier gets entangled in civilian affairs, but rather tries to please his commanding officer. 2 Timothy 2:4

We Christians are sojourners and exiles.  This is not where our ultimate allegiance lies!  

David Van Drunen, Politics After Christendom

We certainly aren’t lacking in opportunities to engage in political discourse these days.  From mask wearing to vaccine mandates and budget crises to abortion laws the world around us is in quite a turmoil.  But when, as Christians, are we to engage?  When are we called to join the fight and stand resolutely in our faith?  These next two posts will look at our life as Christians and the political realm.  First, starting with what role the church, and therefore Christians, play in our common citizenry.

But let’s back up a bit.  For those of us living in the United States we’ve seen a serious deterioration from our Christian-held values over the last 70 years or so.  Not long ago almost all businesses were closed on Sundays and you certainly couldn’t by alcohol on that day.  Now, a business that makes the decision to not be open on Sundays because of their beliefs is vilified.  I’ve heard different arguments about whether or not the United States was a special project by God.  Whatever stance you may take on that we can be certain that every single nation was formed by God.  Every single head of state has been placed in their position by God and therefore is subject to His expectations and final judgment.

For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. 17 He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. Colossians 1:16-17

That the United States was founded with God and the idea of His sovereignty at the forefront should not, however, be in dispute.  Besides the federal founding documents, all state constitutions, except one, reference God and His oversight of said government in the beginning of those documents.  It was then left to the citizens, as it has throughout the history of the world, to maintain that stance.

When you get deep in to C.S. Lewis’ great Christian apologetic book, Mere Christianity, you’ll find the concept of a Moral Law.  Through every empire, every phase of human existence we turn to this moral law for guidance.  We know what basically is wrong (ie: killing another human for gain or pleasure) and what is right (ie: helping a widow or orphaned child).  And, as Mr. Lewis argues, no matter your faith or lack thereof those concepts have been placed in our hearts and minds by someone.

But as a society drifts further away from a common faith, as in the case of much of Europe, North America and South America, we create new ways of working around what we know to be right and wrong.  We bend the moral law to fit the desires of our flesh and we seek to be accepted by the world.

You cannot make men good by (man-made)law; and without good men you cannot have a good society.

C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity

And so, as Christians we watch as one of the last bastions of religious freedom, the United States, which also built upon that with many other freedoms, begin to crumble.  And we can so easily misplace our fears on our elected officials and the laws they create. 

So do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord or of me his prisoner. Rather, join with me in suffering for the gospel, by the power of God. He has saved us and called us to a holy life—not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace. 2 Timothy 1:8-9

At the time Paul wrote this letter to Timothy the Romans ruled with an iron fist.  Anyone that did not submit to their laws was imprisoned, tortured, killed, or pushed out of everyday society.  And Paul reminds not just Timothy but all of us who read this message that we have one commander to whom we must be most concerned – God and His son Jesus Christ.  We are set apart to be holy and live a holy life.

We are reminded that our role in this world is a sort of dual citizenship – to the country we call home and the home that waits for us.  It’s a balancing act that the disciples knew all too well.  We are to obey the laws of our government as good guests yet remembering we have limits based on God’s expectation of our adherence to His moral laws and knowledge of the final judgment.

Dear friends, I urge you, as foreigners and exiles,to abstain from sinful desires, which wage war against your soul. 12 Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us. 1 Peter 2:11-12

It may come as a surprise to many Christians in the United States but it isn’t our role to create a “just society.”  It is our role to seek justice for those in need in our communities but we can’t right every wrong.  We need to be comforted that God is in charge and we can, as individuals and corporately do His good works.  But Jesus, time and again, never sought regime change.  He sought heart change. He sought obedience by His followers to God’s expectations.

Being a sojourner did not require isolation from surrounding societies.  Abraham seems to have understood the need to exercise prudential judgment about how, when and with whom to share common activity.  One approach did not fit all cases.

David Van Drunen, Politics After Christendom

So does this mean we shouldn’t try and affect our government’s choices or laws?  No, it’s just remembering who we serve first, resolutely.  It’s remembering the difference between violently protesting a wrong and speaking out within the framework of how God wants us to act.  It’s figuring out where God and the church stands on an issue (ie: abortion) and where something may not be biblical at all (ie: the federal budget).  It’s making sure our heart and mind set firmly with God, not the world.

Believe me, I’ve struggled with these issues a lot.   I’ve stood on street corners waving my country’s flag and promoting a candidate.  I’ve stood up to politicians who have demonstrated a lack of moral character. Neither of which are wrong for a Christian.  I vote in every single election. Which is, in a way, expected as a Christian. But as my faith progresses, I’m taking a new view of my place on this big blue planet.  When I firmly set King Jesus as my authority, as my hope, as the Lord and Savior not just of my world but of every single human that has existed and will exist, my perspectives change.

As Christians we cannot continue to say we trust God, we know God will judge in the final conflict and still scream in outrage at people who disagree with our political opinion.  That message speaks loud and clear to non-believers that we don’t trust God.  That we haven’t set Him as our authority. That we have no concern for eternity. 

It’s time, fellow sojourners, to pull out our passports and remind ourselves of our future travel plans.  To stand resolutely with the one King that will judge everyone for all ungodly acts.  He has not appointed us commissioners of that judgment.  Yet, we are also not called to be passive in our worldly citizenry — sitting back and watching the world fall around us. He has appointed us as soldiers to exhort others to follow Him before it is too late.

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The Purposeful Path

Dear friend, do not imitate what is evil but what is good.  Anyone who does what is good is from God.  3 John 11

When I was first researching the word “resolute” I came across the tiny village of Resolute in the province of Nunavut, Canada. Back in 1999, Canada created a new province from the original Northern Territories specifically for its native citizens.  And Resolute was one of the northernmost inhabited spots in that province.  Its most famous resident, who put Resolute firmly on the map, was Joseph Idlout, the subject of two documentaries, Land of the Long Day in 1952 and Between Two Worlds in 1990. He was for a time one of the most well-known Inuit and was shown on the back of the Canadian two-dollar bill.

I decided to watch the Land of the Long Day and was treated to some childhood memories of old fashioned documentary film styles.  This little film about a tiny family eking out an existence in the Arctic held my fascination for over an hour.  You see, Mr. Idlout purposefully chose to keep his family close to the old ways of living.  They hunted and gathered what was available each season, storing up for long, dark winters.  They used every available resource to keep their family alive and thriving.   Everyone in the family had a job to do for their survival.  And to maintain this way of life he petitioned the Canadian government to move to a tiny weather station called Resolute and create a home for themselves.  Rather than uprooting their lives and becoming more “modern” they chose to remain true to their culture.  And they flourished. 

It’s perfect that this “most famous Inuit” moved to a tiny town called Resolute because that’s what it took to make his decision for his family.  And I wonder, how many decisions us modern parents make are based on what God really wants for our children? 

As a grandma and parent of two, now grown women, I can easily recall times when I had to make decisions that would set my children and family apart from others.  So many times, when I would go against the norm, others would say to me,  “I hadn’t even thought about that.”  In other words, they were just going along to get along without consulting any moral code whatsoever.

“When you are being taught how to use any machine, the instructor keeps on saying, “No, don’t do it like that,’ because, of course, there are all sorts of things that look all right and seem to you the natural way of treating the machine, but do not really work.”  

CS Lewis, Mere Christianity

It seems so natural to automatically sign a permission slip for your child to go on the 4th grade overnight trip that every single 4th grader in your school has gone on for the last 10 years.  There’ll be chaperones and it’s just down the street.  Everyone is going.  And then you find out boys and girls will be sleeping together in small rooms.  Chaperones include moms and dads – many whom you don’t know.  So your daughter will be spending the night with boys and a dad.   No problem, everyone is going.  Everyone has gone.  No one has ever brought up any issue.   So what’s your problem?  Are you going to set your child apart?  Will you be resolute in what you know is the God-directed answer?

In the verse today it says “imitate evil.”  And I think so often when we read things like that in the Bible we give ourselves little passes to make immoral decisions, especially when we feel it might harm our kids’ social lives.  I mean, it’s not “evil” to let our kids go on a boy/girl sleepover.  It’s not “evil” to allow our daughters to wear the latest fashions that might be a bit revealing.  It’s not  “evil” to let our sons play violent video games.  It’s also not “evil” for all the parents at the birthday party to get drunk. Right?

In a world where parents are pressured into allowing their elementary and middle school children to start dangerous hormones and go under the knife in order to try and change their gender, letting your kids watch R rated movies and TV shows seems tame in comparison. And we let it slide.

“Perfect behavior may be as unattainable as perfect gear changing when we drive; but it is a necessary ideal. Prescribed for all men by the very nature of the human machine just as perfect gear changing is an ideal prescribed for all drivers by the very nature of cars…it would be idiotic not to try; for every mistake is going to cause you trouble later on.”  

CS Lewis, Mere Christianity

It’s interesting that this quote from Mere Christianity involves using a stick shift in a car.  For just about every one of us that process has changed to be an automatic.  But the question I ask is your automatic response to making decisions for yourself and your family set to the world of the flesh or the Word of God? 

For Joseph Idlout, he drew on his people’s hundreds if not thousands of years of history and made the conscious decision to not go the modern route of the world.  And I have to say they seemed to live a pretty content and peaceful life.  Not an easy one by any means.  The harsh Arctic conditions probably led many to scoff at their decision.  They might even have been called any manner of names from savages to crazy to ignorant.  But his children didn’t grow up with drug addictions, suicidal tendencies, endless debt, and more that our world offers.

We can’t all put our families on an island away from the world’s influences.  But we can stop pretending things aren’t “evil” when they go against what God wants of us.  We must be resolute and purposeful in following God’s will for our families.  To be His humble servants, to know His Word inside and out so that it becomes automatic, and to live like the chosen people we are.  Our children’s lives depend on it.

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Repair My Soul, Oh Lord

The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing.  He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he refreshes my soul.  Psalm 23:1-3

A couple of ladies in one of my Bible study groups have had workmen at their houses this year.  If you’ve ever had people working on your house you probably have already conjured up the trials and delays you experienced.  It seems inevitable.  So often promises are made and quickly broken from timeframes to costs.  One of these ladies missed Bible study to be at home for a painter, who had not completed the work the day prior.  The next day the painter arrived only to tell her he was going to another job instead and just needed to pick up his ladder.  After multiple delays the painter fired my friend.  Yes, you read that correctly.  After asking him to give her a better idea of the actual timeframe the painter called her up and said he couldn’t work with her!

Thank goodness when we need work done on our hearts and minds God is a much more trustworthy repairman!  Today I praise God for refreshing us, for fixing our missteps, for repairing our souls.

I was recently talking with a friend about forgiveness.  And what came out of that was the need not only to forgive but to ask God to help repair our hearts and minds of all the negative associated emotions.  Forgiveness is not an easy task when we’ve been hurt, abused, taken advantage of, or even when things or people are taken from us.  And so, we give it to God to help us forgive.  I wonder however, how often when we forgive others do we have a residual bitterness or pain or guilt left in us?  I find this is often the case for me when it comes to having to forgive myself.  When something triggers a bad memory I cringe a bit and that demon called “guilt” or “shame” wants to raise it’s ugly head. 

God doesn’t want us to just forgive but to live a life of forgiveness – a life free from that guilt and shame and bitterness.  All of it. Not one single tiny pocket of it left in our hearts.

Psalm 51 has so many great prayers to God for restoration and healing.  Here’s a couple:

Verse 2:  Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin.

Verse 7: Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.

Verse 12 — Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.

God has a 1-800-Repairman hotline.  He not only answers 24/7 He jumps into action when needed.  It’s time to ask God to completely remove those the negative emotions from our past.  To be completely renewed.  To be completely healed.

A Christian is not a man who never goes wrong, but a man who is enabled to repent and pick himself up and begin again after each stumble – because the Christ-life is inside him, repairing him all the time.

C.S. Lewis Mere Christianity

Isn’t God so loving, so unique in this trait?  He lives as our own mini-repairman right in our souls.  We don’t need to wait for the next appointment (in 3 weeks) or be disappointed when he doesn’t show up.  All we need to do is ask God to fix us.  And even if we aren’t sure exactly what the problem is, if we ask him to make a diagnosis He will – free of charge.  

I know that I will mess up and break some things in my life.  I also know that when I gave my life over to Christ I got a lifetime warranty.  All repairs covered upon asking.