I’ve been consenting with sinners

Pr. 1:10:  “My son, if sinners entice you, do not consent.”

It’s confession time for me.  I’ve been enticed and I have consented.

We have had Netflix for a long time.  I usually watch fun, innocent things like The Great British Baking Show, Nailed It…things like that.  However, when I become very ill in December I got wrapped up in a very non-innocent drama that has every level of sin.

There are parts that are so inappropriate that they have to be fast-forwarded through.  I do that, at least.  That’s my concession.  That’s my justification.  You with me?  I’ve had to turn down the volume around my kids a few times.  (That tells you a lot about the show)

Something interesting about me is that during the month of January I did a 21-day fast where I read the Bible only…no other books.  (reading is my favorite thing and I was already on a very restricted diet)  But still I was watching this show.

Something else is that my husband and I decided in January of this year that in order to help us pay off some student loan debt we were going to cancel our Netflix subscription.  However, when February came around, I was still so wrapped up in this sinful mess of a show that I didn’t want to give it up and I didn’t cancel our subscription to Netflix.  Y’all!  For real.  I’m being completely honest here.

However, this week, I have finally realized I can no longer do this.  I can’t continue to feed my mind and spirit this filth and expect the Lord to be able to produce in my life the good things I truly want.  I’m not sure how I allowed this to happen.  I’m always so careful.  We listen to Christian music always, we never read anything that will fill our minds with sinful thoughts, we don’t hang out in places that will cause unnecessary temptation.  We are careful.  We have boundaries.  And yet I was enticed, and I consented.  And then I was resistant when it came to giving it up.  (That’s the part that bothers me most)

It can happen to any of us at any moment.  We still have to be so careful.  Daily.  On guard.  Just because it’s just a show on Netflix doesn’t mean it’s harmless.  Just because it’s just a fruity drink doesn’t mean it’s harmless.  Just because they’re just a friend doesn’t mean they’re harmless.  There are so many ways we can be enticed.

Learn from my mistake, and keep your guard up, or give up your enticement now.  We can’t afford to be distracted now.  The Day of the Lord is so close and we have work to do.  We have to stay focused and stay in the game.

Unsubscribing,

jamie

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Are your walls secure?

Pr. 25:28:  “Whoever has no rule over his own spirit is like a city broken down, without walls.”

This verse causes me to think about Jericho.  The reason destruction of Jericho was amazing was that it’s walls made it basically impenetrable.  The walls were made of thick stone.  They were high.  They were well-guarded, and Joshua 6:1 says the gate was securely shut because of the children of Israel.

When a city is securely protected in this manner, it takes either an act of God or a well-planned attack by a heavily-armed battalion to get over or through those walls.

This verse tells us that when we have no rule over our own spirit that we are like a city broken down, without walls.

What happens when a city has no walls, or walls that have been broken down?  Invaders can enter and take over.  The defenses of the city are weakened.  Those inside the city are vulnerable to any type of attack.  Anyone or anything can come in to the city and do what they please.  Unwanted guests can make themselves at home or even take charge.

How is this like us?  When we have no rule over our spirit, we are vulnerable to attack.  When we are allowing ourselves to be ruled by our desires, passions, emotions, or those of others around us, we make openings for the enemy to attack.  He can make himself at home or even take charge of our lives and our decision-making process.

Boundaries in our lives are walls of protection.  Examples of boundaries:  refusing to watch movies with nudity; not ‘playing around’ with black magic; guarding ourselves against worldly teachings that exclude Jesus or His grace; deciding never to be alone in a bedroom with a member of the opposite sex (who is not our spouse); making a pact with ourselves to tell the truth no matter what; making time each day to read God’s word; only listening to songs that remind us of Christ if we have found that songs about worldly passions cause us to veer away from God.  The list could continue, but you get the point.

If we don’t have walls/boundaries in place ahead of time, we leave ourselves vulnerable to any type of attack that may come our way.  We do not have to give in to attacks, invasions, or temptations.  We can guard ourselves, and secure our gates so that we are not allowing just anyone or anything to take over.

When we rule our own spirits, we take charge.  We decide what we believe, do, say.  We do not allow whims to blow us about like the wind.  We stand firm on the foundation, which is Christ Jesus, and we stay put.

I feel the need to remind us that prayer, praise, and time in the Word are the things that fortify and strengthen our walls the most.  Without these our walls will crumble.

Fortifying my walls,

jamie

Oh, the love in correction

Pr. 13:18:  “Poverty and shame will come to him who disdains correction, but he who regards a rebuke will be honored.”

I’m sure it’s just the unconscious “I’m 5 now and it’s time to push all the boundaries” type of situation, but we have noticed a pattern of behavior in our little Levi lately.

It may seem unfair or shocking to you, but yesterday we felt it was necessary to have him pack away his toys and put them away until he can correct this issue within himself.  Because of our great love for Levi, we feel it’s very important to correct his disrespectful behavior while he is still young.  We understand, even if he doesn’t, that hitting, lying, and purposefully disobeying will not bring good to him throughout his life.

Truly poverty has come upon this little guy as his room is void of any toys and actually has an echo to it when you walk in.  He has been shamed in front of his sister who is making wiser choices and has a room full of toys.  He has the choice now to either disregard our newest correction, or to regard this rebuke and receive honor.

If he doesn’t receive our correction, things could stay that way for a while.  Certainly, however, as we see that his heart is receiving the message, he will begin to receive his toys back.

He is a little young for the in-depth conversations of cause and effect, consequences, and the laws of reaping what you sow, although I do counsel them both on these truths in ways they can understand.  He can, however, see the truth of cause and effect before his eyes when his intentional behavior causes him to lose privilege after privilege.

Poor guy.  I don’t like it, but we are told in the word that we must correct him now to save his soul, and that if he will honor his parents his life will go well.  There is more at stake than just behavior and compliance.

Naturally we want to train him in a way to prevent him from going to prison or being fired from a job in his later years. More importantly, though, is that in order to receive eternal life, he must humble himself before the Lord.  If he is to humble himself before a God he cannot see, he must be able to be humble.  Disrespect, selfishness, and lying are not attributes of a humble heart.  He must be taught and trained, and we love him too much not to try.

Just like him, sometimes we need correction to reveal to us that our heart is becoming hardened in sin or we are slipping into patterns of behavior that will drive us away from the Lord.  When correction comes our way, we can be thankful that God loves us enough to take the time to correct us.  He is slow to anger and rich in love.  Correction is not meant to be tyranny or manipulation, but point us back toward His loving arms.

Reminded,

jamie

Prudent or simple?

Pr. 22:3:  “A prudent man foresees evil and hides himself, but the simple pass on and are punished.”

When I think of simple, I am reminded of sheep.  They’re depth perception is poor.  In order to check something out, they get very close to it to see the details.  Here’s an excerpt from a book I’m currently reading:

“One never could completely relax with a flock of sheep.  A lamb might escape the pasture and get lost, drown in the swiftly flowing creek, become entangled in the blackberry briars, or wander into the road.  Then there was the possibility of a hungry predator selecting one of her beloved creatures for his evening meal.”

It reminds me of us with sin.  Instead of just steering clear of sin and hiding ourselves, we let our guard down or get curious.  We get close, examine all the options, and check out the details.  Once we’re that close we are in danger of getting lost, being completely caught in the current of or drowning in sin, or entangled in thorns and snares.

Boundaries are for the prudent.  foreseeing all the evil and temptations in this world, we must have boundaries to keep us safe.  There are boundaries in our wedding vows, in the Word of God, in the laws of the land, and in our families.  If we still choose to pass on, danger and punishment will be waiting on the other side.

We also know that when we wander off alone, we are much easier prey for a hungry predator.  Satan will stop at nothing to devour us and rob us of our God-given salvation.  Let us not be simple any longer, but to prudently stay within the boundaries that protect us.  Not only that, but let’s stay safely away from the boundary lines and not go looking at the details of the evil around us.  No reason to get that close.

Let’s stay safe with our good Shepherd, Jesus, who knows us all and gave His life for us.  In His presence we will have life everlasting.

Known by my Shepherd,

jamie

excerpt from:  Ellis, Mary. (2009).  A Widow’s Hope. Eugene Oregon:  Harvest House Publishers

Be happy

Pr. 29:18:  “Where there is no revelation, the people cast off restraint; but happy is he who keeps the law.”

Have you ever been in a class room when the teacher leaves?  The teacher asks the kids to sit quietly while he or she slips out, but the moment the teacher leaves the door, the kids go crazy.  Without someone governing them, they talk, get out of their seats, write on the board, play with things they’re not usually allowed to touch, fight, throw things, and more.  It can be pure chaos.  When the teacher walks back in, everyone sits back down and tries to act subdued.  The teacher brings the “vision” of the classroom back through the door.

That’s a funny example that makes me chuckle a bit.  What’s not as funny is the reality of this same scenario when it comes to life not guided by God’s vision.  Without God’s vision guiding our thoughts and decisions, we cast of restraint and do whatever feels right at the moment, or even what others say is right.  God’s vision is cast clearly in His Word and He has given us guidelines by which we can live that are set in place to protect us and keep us from suffering the consequences of bad decisions.

The Lord created us out of the love in His heart and He desires fellowship with us.  He did not create “rules” to hold us under His thumb and make us miserable.  He placed His vision before us to bring us into salvation and to guide us to bring others with us.  He clearly displayed His love for us on the cross, so that we understand what is most important in this life.  If it was important enough for God to send Jesus to die on the cross for our sins, then it is important enough for us to base our life on that sacrifice.

As I was reminded last night at VBS, Jesus performed miracles on this earth that weren’t always about healing or exorcism.  The Lord wants us to have life more abundantly, as evidenced in the feeding of the 5,000, the turning of water to wine, and the complete deliverance of the woman at the well.  The Lord loves us.  Our obedience to His Word isn’t about domination.  It is about us being obedient because of our love and respect for Him.  The result of us being obedient to the very things that protect us, is that we will then be happy.

Satan tries to distract us and get our eyes off God’s vision, promising freedom in the flesh, but Satan is a liar!  The flesh is never satisfied.  We can feed it for 60 years, and it will always want more.  God; on the other hand, God satisfies completely.  He fills us and then fills us again.  He continues to give more and more, as we hunger and thirst for Him.

When we get in line with the revelation of the Lord, and live a life that proves it, we will be truly free.  What sin actually brings is the bondage of guilt, shame, fear, brokenness, destroyed relationships, and consequences.  The Spirit of the Lord brings true freedom.  He gives us freedom and releases all bonds through mercy, grace, forgiveness, peace, and joy.  God already sent Jesus to set us free.  The proof of His love and His liberty was on the cross.  He cares for us and gave us access to His vision.  Let’s restrain ourselves within its bounds and experience true happiness.

Remember the cross,

jamie

 

Tender mercies

Pr. 12:10 stood out to me today, for the very first time.  “A righteous man regards the life of his animal, but the tender mercies of the wicked are cruel.”

I became addicted to reruns of the show Hoarders for a bit.  There were several shows about people who call themselves ‘animal-lovers.’  There was a man with over 30 cats that he “couldn’t live without.”  The cats were his world, and his only friends.  He loved them more than himself.

The sad truth was that animal rescue found 8 dead cats in his house, and had to euthanize about 5 of the 32 live cats he had.  The rest of the live cats were in serious crisis regarding their health and required a lot of care and medication to be brought to good health.  Many were dehydrated and malnourished.  Many were blind or had serious eye infections.

This man’s “tender mercies” were actually very cruel.  He truly thought he was regarding their lives, showing them the love they needed, and was giving them all that they required for a healthy life.  He truly believed that by giving them the run of his home, they were in better care than if they were anywhere else.  He sat out food and water daily and his entire house could be used as a litter box.  All that freedom would surely lead to a fulfilling and healthy life for them.

What a righteous man knows is that to truly regard the life of your animal, you must get them vaccinated, bathe them, check them for parasites, fleas, and disease.  You must ensure that your animal eats daily and drinks the water they need.  You must ensure that your animal has a clean and healthy environment in which to live.  That is how you truly care for an animal.

Vaccinations hurt.  Boundaries can seem unreasonable during certain seasons of emotion.  Clean water requires the effort of cleaning the bowl and getting the new water.  Bug checks are intentional moments where you examine the entire surface of the animal.  Eye exams require a doctor’s expertise.  All these things require intentionality and they are not all fun, but they are necessary for health.

The same goes for us.  Rebukes hurt.  Boundaries can seem boring, unfair, or unreasonable at times, depending on where our eyes are focused.  Drinking from Living Water requires the effort of cleansing ourselves of impurities and getting into the Word and prayer.  Sin checks are intentional moments where we allow God to examine us, test us, and try us, so that He may help us get rid of any impurity that is trying to infect us and keep us from Him.  Eye exams keep us looking to God to prevent the blindness of sin to take over, or the lies of satan and this world from blurring God’s truth.

Things that require effort in our walk with The Lord aren’t cruel at all; they actually give us a fulfilling life until we go home to heaven.  We can live a life free of blindness, dehydration, and malnutrition if we keep our eyes on the things above, drink from The Living Water, and eat of The Bread of Life.  God has called us to live a life of abundance and freedom in Him.  He truly regards the lives of his children.

Thankful for a righteous caretaker,

jamie