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Archive for the ‘Temptation’ Category

The Devil Made Me Do It

When Bad Things Happen to Good People

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Our pastor had a great message yesterday.  The subject was “Why do bad things happen?” – a very timely topic in light of the recent events in Japan.

As he spoke and listed the possible reasons why things happen – I was reminded of the journey that I have been on – and the many people who I have encountered along the way who have also had bad things happen to them.

Sometimes bad things DO happen to good people.  It’s called LIFE.  We live in a fallen world where things are going to happen.

We ourselves are fallen creatures – capable of making choices that are not always the best.  Many things we do to ourselves – and although the Lord forgives us – people aren’t always so kind – and worse than that – there is the fall-out and carnage from those choices that can follow us for the rest of our lives.

Our choices, therefore – can lead us down a path of unresolved issues, guilt, despair, hurt and frustration, separation from loved ones and good friends.  Or they can lead us to reconciliation, understanding, forgiveness and love.  I want to be in the later group – and I want all those that I have wronged to also be in that group.  Ah – but that is not always possible.  My husband Greg – calls this, “Cindy Land”.

And of course when touching on this subject – my childhood teachings come in to play.  Certain scripture verses come to light when talking about ‘temptation’ – or ‘failing’ or just simply  a ‘mess-up’.   Scriptures that would cite the Devil or at least demonic activity as the culprit for why we mess-up – why we are tempted to do wrong – or get involved with wrong people and wrong choices.  Things like, “The Devil is crouching at the door”  or “The Devil prowls around like a roaring lion seeking whom he may destroy”.   And although I buy into some of that to a certain extent – (I cannot argue with scripture after all) – I also have to accept responsibility for my own choices. I do know people who blame the Devil for everything saying, “The Devil made me do it” – instead of accepting personal responsibility for their own actions.  And almost always, those same people point fingers and blame others – instead of looking inside of themselves and taking the responsibility for themselves.  This makes me sad – because I know they will never heal properly while trying to “run from the devil” or run from those “bad people” who tempt them into doing wrong.  The answer is almost always inside ourselves and  has to do with our own heart.  Can the Devil take advantage of us when we are weak? – Yes.  Does he tempt us?  Yes.  I do believe that.  But he cannot force us to do anything – we are capable of making those bad choices without any help.  The heart of man is deceitfully wicked and prone to wander – without any help at all.  “Resist the Devil and he will flee from you”

I know for myself – that I am almost always aware when I make a choice – good or bad.  There comes a point of ‘no return’ – where I blow past all the red flags – and intentionally do something – because I want to. I can admit that.  I think everyone would be better and healthier if they could just admit it too.

Like my pastor, Stephen – I do not believe that the earthquake and tsunami of Japan and a couple of years ago the earthquake in Haiti – is the result of God’s judgment.

I believe that the world is fallen – it has been fallen since sin entered the garden through Adam and Eve.  And yet despite this fact – I believe that God is good.  He sent His son Jesus to rescue me from myself, to validate and identify with me.  I believe that He loves me.  He came – He got involved.  He forgives and He is with me through bad things that happen to me.  He walks with me and gives me the ability to get through it.  He is very aware that I am fragile and that I blow it.  He is slow to anger and covers me with love and mercy.  And one day – things will be perfect again – when He returns and we see Him as He is.

Until then – we are here – living with fallen people – and in a fallen world.

When you have had something bad happen to you – either by a mistake and wrong choices that you have made – or just because you’re living in a fallen world with fallen people – I believe that you have a choice – just like I do.  A choice to quit and say, “I’m done” – or you can take that bad thing and use it to help other people – becoming a softer and more compassionate person who understands God’s amazing grace.  Someone whom others will come to when in trouble – who need an understanding hug and word of encouragement.

Be that person today.

As we journey together…

God Bless

Here is a little Flip Wilson – enjoy!

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Apple Pie For Breakfast?

A slice of homemade Thanksgiving pumpkin pie s...

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I’m not much of a ‘sweet tooth’ – but I DO have some things I REALLY like and these can tempt me like no other.

1. Caramel Chocolate Bar from Harry & David.  It’s the best thing I”ve ever had.  Ever.

2.  Homemade pumpkin pie.  It has to be homemade.  I’m a snob.

3. White Chocolate Mocha’s or Americano’s from Starbucks.  Again, I am a snob.

4. Chocolate Peanut Butter ice cream from Baskin and Robbins.

5. Nanaimo Bars.

 

Yesterday Greg and I were on a ‘date’ for lunch in downtown Renton – and walked next door to a local Starbucks.  I ordered my coffee and was patiently waiting for it at the pick-up station – when I heard Greg laughing and engaged in some ‘fun’ banter with another male customer over by the pastries.  Naturally I didn’t want to miss out on ANY fun (life is so serious – when there’s fun and laughing I am drawn to it).  So I walked over and found that they had been joking about which pastry was the most ‘healthy‘.  It was hilarious – as NONE of those are very healthy – even the ones that say ‘low-fat’ yeah right.  We gave our opinions and he said ‘Well I figure I better eat something healthy – I’ve been eating apple pie for breakfast since Thanksgiving‘.

We all had a good laugh – it was great – a total stranger talking about food and pie and Thanksgiving and beyond.  I told him that he should consider that apple pie is actually pretty healthy – if you think about it – it has fruit in it after all.  And I told him – if you’re feeling too guilty about the sugar content then you could just have one of those ‘sugar free’ drinks with it – that should cancel out all the calories from the pie.  He thanked me and said that make total sense to him – with a wink and a grin.  So fun!

There’s only one pie I would even consider having for breakfast – pumpkin.  Homemade.  Enough said.  Oh and you can leave the whip cream off.  I mean – it is breakfast after all.

Have an awesome day as you struggle to eat all the leftover ‘sweets’ and pie from Thanksgiving.  You have to get into shape for the other things that are coming at you this month – so take it slow.  Baby steps toward Christmas eating.  You can do it!   Jillian Michaels work-out anyone?  Ugh.

 

God Bless

Finding Balance

The canonical Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke &...

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Matthew 11:28 (The Message)

28-30“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”

Long before we were born – in ancient days of old – man was struggling with the same things that we are today.  His sin nature.

From the beginning – we were all subject to the human condition – because of the ‘fall of man‘ – and like King Solomon said, “There is nothing new under the sun’.

Today’s temptations and stresses are nothing new.  Man has been facing them since the beginning of time – and just about any sin you can think of – is listed by example in the Bible.  No one is immune to temptation and his sinful nature.

Jesus promised to bring rest from ourselves. He brought it in a new way.  He gave himself.  As long as we ignore and deny Him – His rightful place in our lives – we will forever be slaves to our dark sinful natures.

I’m not talking about religion.  Religion is ritual and duty.  Born out of guilt about our condition – and as a way to ease our bruised conscience.  That sounds very motivating to me.  NO WAY!  The more you push – the more I’m going to pull – again the sin nature rearing its ugly head.

But Jesus came to bridge the gap of ritualistic religion for religion’s sake.  He came to bring Himself – to offer forgiveness because He Himself IS God – and He came to offer relationship with Him by offering that forgiveness.

You want to live a life of balance and of joy? – then He is the key.  He promises a life of rest and promise. Nothing too heavy will be hoisted upon you.  He will carry you in the tough places.  And He will bring the ‘lightness’ to your everyday world.

There is so much heaviness today in our world.  Those of us that have that relationship with God through Jesus – have a different world perspective.  We have a hope that others do not.  We have a life of meaning and purpose while others live lives of quiet (and not so quiet) desperation.   All sorts of issues today, politically, relationally and economically.  And because it seems that the real enemy of our souls is busier than usual to get us to trip up – just remember this:  Satan has been around a long time – spinning the same lies.  There’s nothing new here.

It comes down to a life of balance. When I am off-balance – this is when temptation and trouble can find me – and I can find it.  A life built on the Word of God and a relationship with Jesus will help to protect me from that temptation of just following  my own sinful nature – that lurks in my heart.  And we all have the ability to be off-balance.  It’s very easy to do. We are stressed, busy, lonely, prideful, independent, etc.  These all can lead to unhealthy habits in our lives.  And take us down a road of temptation that starts out in an innocent way.

This is why we need Jesus to help bring back the balance to our lives.  And He promises to do that.

So walk with Him today – listen to what He is calling, ‘unforced rhythms of grace’.  The many things He allows as part of your journey – and the many times He covers you with much-needed grace and mercy.  And if you’re tired and ‘burned out’ – this is the place you need to be.  Bringing balance and order back into your crazy life.  Walk with Him – watch how He handles it.   Learn from Him.  Watch how he transforms your hard unforgiving heart – into something soft and pliable – and shows you how to apply grace to your life with others.

He will bring that balance back into your worn-out and weary life.  Teach you how to live lightly and freely.

God Bless

 

 

Mercy’s Arms

We were visiting Evergreen Foursquare Church yesterday in Auburn, Washington – where our friend Doug Bursch is the pastor.   The message was probably the best one I have ever heard – on the subject of humility.  It is amazing how we can grow up in the church and even see the same passages of scripture and yet – when somebody else reveals another truth from those passages – it can seem like it’s brand new.  This happened yesterday.

I am constantly amazed at how God will speak – using people and things in our lives to drive home a point and whisper truth into our hearts.  We spend so much time and energy on ‘puffing ourselves up’ to look good – or to feel better – even if we don’t openly admit it – and we can sure find fault with everyone else – again to make us feel good.  We may say to ourselves, “well – I don’t do what THEY do – so I’m better than they are”  – or, “good grief – I’m glad I’m not like them – they’re so WEAK.  I would never do that”  Be very careful – for what you see in your neighbor you are VERY capable of having the same thing happen – unless you take care of your own heart.

What Doug pointed out yesterday was this:  All sin is against God alone.  We don’t sin against our brother or they against us – it’s ALWAYS a problem between God and us – and if I don’t get down to the root of the problem with God alone – I will always point fingers and blame – but it won’t do me any good – in the end I need to come to the complete resolution that I have sinned against God and He will hold me accountable.  I cannot control what others do – I can only control me.  I think sometimes I feel justified in feeling as I do – when others harm me – or hurt me.  And it is completely wrong.

Jesus took a position of servant. He didn’t have to.  But He humbled himself and tried to teach it to the men around him – even though they were pretty ‘brain dead’ and just ‘didn’t get it’ most of the time.  His was a model of humility for me – to take the lowest position – become lower and lower – prefer others over me – even if I feel just the opposite.  Even if others use me – discard me – blame me and mistreat me.  It doesn’t come naturally – because it is the sin nature inside of me that wants to blame – deflect and feel justified.  It is not easy to take on humility.  It is just the right thing to do.

And like the song lyrics below – the ‘walls’ of pride around my heart have to crumble – as I learn to surrender to all He has for me – and surrender to “Mercy’s Arms”.  And as I do – I find that my heart is forever changed – I begin to take on the character and humility of  Christ – as He cleans up my heart – becoming less and less like myself and more and more like Him – so others will catch a glimpse of Jesus in me.

God Bless

The mighty fortress walls
I have built around my foolish heart
how they crumble and they fall
as I surrender all
to Mercy’s Arms

Bathed in holy rain
cleansed from sinner’s bitter stain
only love remains
I’m forever changed
by Mercy’s Arms
sweet the surrender
sweet the embrace
sweet the forgiveness
to one forever undeserving of his grace
safety encircled
rested and warmed
sweet is the taste of love that awaits
un Mercy’s Arms

In the light the life the way
is the key unlocking every chain
sin is lost and freedom gained
the price was paid
by Mercy’s Arms

When I reach my journey’s end
how I hope that He will call me friend
and reach out for me again
forever spend
in Mercy’s Arms

Laughter, Listening and Liking each other in Marriage

I posted something today on my facebook page about laughter and it got me thinking about marriage and laughter.  There are many reasons why a marriage fails – even those that start out with good intentions.  Oh sure, there are outside forces that hit you blindsided – we all know about those things – and finances (or lack of them) can also be a key contributor to failure.  But more than these I believe that at the very root of the issue is this:  Married couples forget to laugh. Now I’m not talking about the little chuckle you get from something funny one of your kids did today – or a funny email or status update on facebook from one of your friends – or even a great humorous story – I’m talking about laughing with each other – sharing a joke together – or a secret and poking fun at the other and finding it so funny!  When was the last time your spouse made you REALLY LAUGH? When was the last time – YOU were funny and not so serious?  Life is serious enough without adding to it – and sometimes you just need to take a ‘chill pill’ and just laugh.  Laugh at the absurd – laugh at the ridiculousness of your situation – laugh at the irony of life – enjoy your spouse and find something together to laugh at!  A healthy married couple smiles and laughs all the time.

Another reason marriages are in trouble is this: Married people forget how to listen. You’re so used to that person – after a while if they’re not saying anything worth listening to – we tune them out. It is an art form to learn how to listen well – but well worth it.  We were a marriage that had forgotten how to do this – I didn’t feel I had my husband’s full attention anymore – he had forgotten how to listen to me and meet my emotional needs.

Develop a healthy sense of humor with your spouse and listen to them – really listen. If you listen long enough – believe me – you will bond with them again – you’ll be able to share secrets and find that laughter too.  It will be there – decide that YOU will not wait for them – decide that you are going to turn your marriage around.  Get your ‘mischievousness’ on!  You will ignite something in your spouse – a passion that you forgot was ever there.

And finally – I think the reason that marriages are in trouble is this:  Somewhere along the way – you forgot to like your spouse. You say, “Oh – but you don’t understand – I wouldn’t ever think of leaving them” – You may even say that you ‘love’ them – in the traditional Christian way (of course) and if push comes to shove and they really tick you off and you’re at the end of your rope you might consider murder – but NOT divorce – NEVER!  You say, “Not me!   This would never happen to us!  But I don’t have to like them – I’m committed.” HOGWASH!!  You are setting yourself up for a failure with this attitude.  What if someone comes into your life that really likes you – admires you – and treats you like your spouse doesn’t? There’s a fine line between tolerance and indifference – don’t be foolish.  It happens all the time.

I like my husband.  I didn’t always feel this way.  Oh I suppose I got used to him – he is an excellent man in every way – good father – wonderful friend to many – but for me – I had forgotten to like him.  So like many of you out there – I had a choice to make.  Do I want to start over and learn how to like him again – find the laughter and the reason that I picked  him in the first place?  Can it be done?  We’re used to each other – but do I really like him?  It took many months of talking and really listening to each other to discover that we were solid as good friends – even if we hadn’t been married to each other.  We had to rediscover that again – we had to ‘date’ again to make that connection – and we DID!  And you can too.  I can honestly say now that I not only love Greg – and am committed – but I also like him.

I found this very cute and humorous video on marriage from the comedic and married team of Stiller and Meara – married over 50 years.  It’s adorable and has some great truths in it – they use laughter in their relationship and they have also found that they actually like one another after all the years together.

God Bless

Self-Control

Inside my mind

I am who I am

living a life

unguarded and real

Fighting a battle

with myself

that all must fight

The right to have

the right to decide

the right to control

Many decisions

daily

hold me back

or push me forward

I play a game of chance

I love the thrill

and the rush

the intoxicating darkness

that whispers and calls

it is so easy to go there

But the pain

of choices

past

ruin

hinder

hold back

and rob me

of freedom

and joy

I tremble

and wait

for another unkind word

knowing it is well deserved

hiding

pulling away

from everyone

and myself

it is guilt

it is shame

I want to resist

for a while I am strong

I can do it

no trouble

no inward battle of my will

and then…

I am slowly seduced

by a memory

or a thought

or a ‘what if’

and the game begins

and I am the loser

once again

And so the song

echoes in my head

“I’m never going back again”

and I am firmly resolved

to be weak

and frail

helpless

and undone

It is only

with Christ Jesus

I am set free

I am in full control

my weakness is made strong

when I do not try to do it alone

He teaches me

that my self-control

is the secret to my happiness

the key to my future

the mystery of saying no

and resisting

I am the winner

Sin makes you a slave

Grace sets you free

gives you self-control

peace in your heart

and makes you strong

Better to be patient than powerful; better to have self-control than to conquer a city. Proverbs 16:32

I am praying for you today that you too will learn the secret of building ‘self control’ in your own life – so that your sin nature will not ‘own’ you – promising things that cannot be delivered.  In resisting and saying ‘no’ you embrace freedom – in surrendering to your weakness and losing your will – you will find it again.

God Bless

Blessed

James 1:12

“Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.”

Ever feel like you’re “under trial”? – You’ve had to face some great “test”? And that there is no help – even “silence” from God himself? Take heart – the teacher is always silent during the test.

Something is changing in my spirit in the past few days. I feel a heaviness is lifting – and a real deep joy is taking its place. Oh nothing specific – I just feel happy. Even playful – and can’t stop smiling or giggling. Did I pass the test? I’m sure it’s not over yet – probably not even close. Just when I think it’s behind me – there’s something else to remind me. And I know – I’m not over it yet. But when I have days where I am happy and can’t stop smiling – then I know I’m going to be one of the ones that has “persevered” and stood the test without “giving in” to sadness or depression – temptation and even sin.

And I am very lucky. I have such good positive people in my life. A rich and happy family – a husband that loves me for me – and good friends that daily walk with me and encourage me with their presence in my life – I am blessed

I feel a little like Mary Tyler Moore in the theme song from her TV show in the 70’s – “You’re gonna make it after all” – it’s great to know. And I smile just thinking about it.

God Bless

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