Aug 16, 2012

Thursday SHINE

Today's Reading:  Acts 22

Good morning, Sweet Sisters!  It's serve day Thursday!  Do something for someone else today.  You'll be so glad you did.  :))

A kind note, a phone call to show you care, cookies for the firefighters - giving helps take the focus off of us and our stuff and fills our hearts with love in the process.  We are made this way.  How cool is that?!

Jill asked me to share today and wow, I have done my best to avoid it.  (Haven't I, Jilly?)

She could not have known what she was really asking me for as the Holy Spirit prompted her to have me write - - but I believe that God has a message for us here so I choose humility in spite of myself.

He’s still working on me- 
Mary Balicki

Hey Shine Sisters...let me shoot straight.  This is hard for me to put out there.  I would love to share a flowery post where I sound eloquent and faithful (like what I have been learning about loving others) but that is not what the Lord would have me share - - so here goes.

I have been in a wandering valley and it has been going on for a while.  During this time I have given into my flesh and stumbled continuously.  Yep, no kidding. L

The Holy Spirit has never parted ways, of course.  He’s always there, nudging me, reminding me to resist, giving me wisdom and guess what – I have chosen not to listen.  Ugh.

It all started about a year ago.  We booked a trip for our tenth wedding anniversary and could not wait to spend a week celebrating our milestone.  * happy dance*

I was so pumped about our romantic dinners, walks on the beach, shopping for souvenirs for the kiddos and then immediately started to feel apprehensive - - but what will I wear???  

Over the next 4 months I spent nearly every day online shopping.  I “needed” new everything and so I reasoned it out in my head and ordered everything under the sun to complete my wardrobe.

There was just one problem.  This excessive spending was not in the budget (the trip itself was a stretch to begin with).  So, I went from zero debt to endless purchases, lots of good deals/discounts and insane fulfillment in my accomplishments. 

Then, it didn’t end with our trip.  It became an obsession, my part-time job (with no pay) - that included my kid’s wardrobe, bedding, handbags, and shoes – hello, I love some shoes. J

Chad was so patient with me…more patient than I deserved as he gently called me to make better choices.  I would for a time and then, I’d get an email with a 30% off coupon code and I’d be back to square one. 

I have shared my struggle with a few close friends, prayed about it, and marinated myself in guilt and regret – all to make the same stupid choices over and over again. 

Finally, a few weeks ago (with God’s help), I decided to get off of the merry-go-round.  I told Chad my credit card balance and wanted to get real with this foolishness. 

I've been busy "unsubscribing" from the umpteen different retailers that email me with their latest deal and making my clean break from the madness.

Then, this past Sunday our pastor gave an incredible message regarding our flesh and continually choosing the wrong thing _____ (ßinsert your struggle here).   

You know when you are sitting there wondering if the message was tailored just for you?  I was overwhelmed with gratitude for such encouragement in my new mission to break free.  And too, it makes you feel better that you’re not the only Dumbo floundering with that Thing that you can't shake loose.  

He taught on Ephesians 4:17-24 – How the Holy Spirit longs to plow and till our minds, to bring renewal and help us overcome our struggles, if we will just allow Him to do so. 

Here is a nutshell of the message:
Ephesians 4:17-24 – The Message (MSG)
(*Check out the actual subtitle in the Message version.)

*The Old Way Has to Go*

 17-19And so I insist—and God backs me up on this—that there be no going along with the crowd, the empty-headed, mindless crowd. They've refused for so long to deal with God that they've lost touch not only with God but with reality itself. They can't think straight anymore. Feeling no pain, they let themselves go in sexual obsession, addicted to every sort of perversion.
 20-24But that's no life for you. You learned Christ! My assumption is that you have paid careful attention to him, been well instructed in the truth precisely as we have it in Jesus. Since, then, we do not have the excuse of ignorance, everything—and I do mean everything—connected with that old way of life has to go. It's rotten through and through. Get rid of it! And then take on an entirely new way of life—a God-fashioned life, a life renewed from the inside and working itself into your conduct as God accurately reproduces his character in you.

This passage is telling us that we’ve all been called to a new life.  Paul goes to great lengths to describe this life and he also gives a look at the old life, a picture of good and evil.  A life that leads us to good and a life that leads to destruction.

“Like all knowledge of any complexity and depth, Christian knowledge does not jump down one’s throat.  No one can force it on another, it has to be welcomed to be possessedChristian, you are called to welcome knowledge so that you can possess it. 
- Dallas Willard

We gain knowledge by immersion, repetition – doing the work in peacetime so that we are prepared during wartime. 

Our pastor is giving this amazing message that he sums up like this - -
“The way we put off the old man (our flesh) is to choke and drown it.
We can’t turn away if it’s still got us by the neck." 

Lord, thank you that you love us no matter how many times we trip and fall.  We totally blow it, but you are there, patient and constant.  Please draw us close to you, Father.  We want to choose the high road but that’s not possible if we are not spending time in prayer and study.  You have already won the battle against our flesh.  Help us to remember that.  The victory is only ours if we are in your company.  Thank you for working on us and never giving up – keep it up, Sweet Jesus.
Amen!