Monday, July 21, 2014

We Are What We Post...


Do you realize that what you post on the Internet is a direct reflection to the world around you of who you are and what you stand for in life?

Whether it is pictures, articles, tweets or status updates, people are forming an impression about you by what you post. It’s easy to mess up – we all have at some point! But how do we evaluate what we are posting BEFORE it becomes a mess?

I think what we need is a simple checklist of questions we need to ask ourselves before posting anything on the Internet, whether it be a “selfie”, a status update or anything else for that matter.

Here are some questions we could ask ourselves:
  • Will posting this picture/status/article encourage, inspire or bring hope to others?
  •  If my current or future potential employers see this, will it leave an impression I want to leave with them? (Believe me, they look!)
  • If my future (or current) in-laws see this, will it leave an impression I want to leave with them? 
  • Is this something I would post with my mother, father, child or spouse sitting beside me, watching over my shoulder? What about my pastor?
  • Will what I’m posting be something that my children or future children would be comfortable with? (Keep in mind – once it’s out there, there is no taking it back)
  • Will this photo/article/status hurt someone else or make him or her look bad? 
  • Will this photo/article/status cause someone else to stumble in his or her walk with the Lord?
  • Will I have to apologize to anyone for posting this? Am I angry, bitter or unforgiving as I type it?
  • Is this post going to cause drama or create an argument?

Bottom line, if you are a believer in Christ: You represent Him. Will what you are posting represent Him well?

The Internet is like a new animal that we are all trying to learn how to tame.  We all have ideas of how that should be done. There is so much to learn about the psychological and even spiritual implications of what we put out there for all to see. In the meantime, a little discernment, education and common sense can go a long way.

Colossians 3:17 “And whatever you do or say, do it as a representative of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through him to God the Father.”

Ephesians 4:29 “Don’t use foul or abusive language. Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them.”

Friday, July 4, 2014

Let Him Carry That For You

One night a few years back, my youngest daughter was having a hard time with fear. She was watching a TV show that was very family friendly, but the commercials in between were horrific! Lots of horror films were being advertised because it was close to Halloween. I have no idea why the people who sell ads for family friendly shows think it's appropriate to show these commercials, but I digress.

Anyway, once Peyton got a picture in her head, she just couldn't shake it and even though she knew
all the scriptures, knew all the ways to try to not think about it, I think the enemy just used it against her. She's super sensitive to those things for some reason. So that night, she was crying and shaking and asking to sleep with me.

I took her out on the couch, snuggled with her and chatted with her calmly after I prayed for wisdom. I said, "Peyton, if you were carrying some suitcases and they were really, really heavy - to the point of your arms burning and you feeling you couldn't take another step, but then Jesus comes along with His big, strong arms and His loving heart to help you and says 'Peyton, may I carry those for you?' then what would you do?

She thought for a moment and said, "I'd give Him one of the suitcases and keep the other I guess so He wouldn't have to struggle so much." I paused and realized my point had been sort of detoured, but then answered, "OK, but what if He really wanted to carry all of them and let you rest awhile? What if He insisted that He take them all for you?" She said, "Oh, then I'd give them to Him, but I'd walk beside Him so we could talk and He wouldn't be alone."

Oh my gosh her heart was so sweet.

I told her, "Well, Jesus tells us He wants to carry our fears and our problems because it's more than we can handle. He has big, strong arms to do that for us but for some reason we try to hold on to our problems. Do you think you could picture yourself giving your problems to Him?" She said she could and as her tears saturated my shirt, I saw a little smile for the first time. It was precious.

As I tried to drift off to sleep that night, I couldn't help but see my daughter takes after me in a lot of ways. I often try to "help Jesus out" by carrying just some of my problems and burdens. Yet, He says He wants them all. Why don't I just give them all to Him?

How precious that Peyton realized that once she gave the load to Jesus, she wanted to walk with Him and talk to Him. That's just so rich in meaning, though I'm sure she probably didn't realize that at the moment. In her childhood innocence, she realized that her relationship with Jesus is important and she wants to walk with Him as He carries her burdens. How often do I give Him my problems and then run ahead of Him, forgetting to nurture that relationship? How often do I take for granted that He is carrying my load?

The more I talk with my children, the more I realize I have so much to learn. What a blessing to hear the heart of a child. What has a child taught you lately?


Jesus said, "Come to me all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear and the burden I give you is light. 

Matthew 11:28-30

Friday, June 6, 2014

A Change of Season for Me

At the beginning of the year, I knew something had to change in my life. I was exhausted. My days were sort of a fog and my heart was heavy. I was doing too much and I knew it. I had a woman approach me at an event in late fall of last year and she was overwhelmed with all she was doing. Through tears, she looked me in the eye and said, “How do you do it all? You do so much! I can’t even handle what little I’m doing compared to you. I feel overwhelmed! What’s your secret?”

I told her my secret: I wasn’t doing it all. Well, I was doing it all – but I wasn’t doing it all well. I was barely surviving. I was good at pretending, but at home I was a zombie – walking around, showing up for my family but not really present. I was reaching burnout and I knew something had to give. Her face looked almost relieved as she realized I didn’t have it all together, either.

I felt like I was living a lie. So I decided to pull away from speaking and writing this year to focus on my radio show. The hours I keep at the station are taxing to say the least. I am up by 3:15am and though I am home by 10:30am usually, I am spent. The rest of my day is literally a fog and my family has noticed I’m not myself. So I figured if I gave up speaking and just focused on resting on the weekends it would get better.

But it didn’t get better.

Even though my wake up time is 3:15am, I have not been getting in bed until well after 9pm, sometimes more like 10pm. I wanted to spend time with my husband at night and a 7pm bedtime just didn’t seem feasible when he gets home around 6pm. Sometimes he travels and when that happens, it’s even worse because I’m the only parent home to be with the girls at night.

My teen girls are talkative at night. They like to talk about their day. They are involved in school activities. They have friends over. And I don’t want to miss a thing! God forbid I tell my teen girl, who is willing to share her heart with me that I had to go to bed! I seized every opportunity to spend time with my family.  And my body is paying the price!

I’ve put on twenty pounds. I’m forgetful and tired all the time. My blood pressure is up and my energy is zapped. I’m “on” when I have to be on, but the moment there is nobody around, all I can think about is “When is the next time I can sleep?!”  I can’t go on like this anymore.

So, as of this coming Wednesday, June 11, I will no longer be co-hosting the Morning Show with Rob. And I have to be honest; it’s one of the hardest decisions I’ve ever made. I love radio. I love spending my mornings with you! I love our morning team! Jim and Rob are like brothers to me – friends that will last for the rest of my life. I’m so thankful they both understand my decision. They are not only understanding of my decision; they are supportive of it. They completely get the whole “tired” thing because they do it, too. They make sacrifices of time, family and sleep and they do it because it’s what they are called to do. I’m so thankful God has given them grace to handle these hours and supportive and helpful wives who make sure they get their rest on their down time.

Right now, God is calling me to be a wife and a mother full time. I will be teaching a couple of fitness classes per week and I will also be picking up my speaking ministry again and I have to say, God is already honoring that decision! In the past three weeks, I’ve had four offers to speak at ladies retreats – all without even trying at all. Just prayer and obedience. God just opened the doors. Blessing follows obedience.

That’s what’s so exciting about this: God is the one who is orchestrating it and as a result of my obedience, I will find blessing doing what He’s calling me to do at this season of my life. But it goes further than that – He will also bless His Radio by bringing someone on board who will help take this awesome Morning Show to the next level. And I get a front row seat at watching Him do it! I will still be at His Radio on a very part time basis helping out with weekends. They are my family and I love everyone here so very much.

Thank you for allowing me to be a part of your mornings for the past couple of years. I have loved every moment! I look forward to staying in touch with you via Facebook, Twitter and my blog at www.leslienease.com

And if you need a speaker for your event, contact me at lnease@leslienease.com and we can chat about what your needs are! My favorite thing to do is ladies retreats (they allow you to really get to know the ladies – pray face to face with them and build relationships) but I also speak at one-time events, as well. I look forward to what God has in store!

Here's to a new season!







Friday, May 30, 2014

"Over Commitment Syndrome"


Are you exhausted?  

Are you falling into bed each night, wondering where the day went?  

Are you frustrated because you feel like you need to either get some help or clone yourself in order to be able to do the day-to-day tasks in your life?  

When is the last time you spent quality time with your family (not watching the kids play sports or taking the family on a business trip - I'm talking face-to-face family time with no distractions)?

I get it.  I really, really get it.  I'm the "Queen" of Over-Commitment Syndrome.  My Mentor once told me, "Leslie, if you are exhausted or overwhelmed, you are probably doing something God has not asked you to do."  I believe she is absolutely right. God gives me grace to do what He has asked me to do, so if the grace is not there, I have to ask myself some tough questions.

How do I know I've made the right decision about whether or not I should commit to something?  

How can I be sure that I am motivated by right motives and not my desire to keep up with others, to prove myself, to make more money or to make a name for myself? 

The world tells me to "listen to my heart" but my heart can really fool me if I let it. Setting boundaries can be so helpful in this.

After hitting the wall about a million times in my life, I'm learning to simplify my life by taking a look at what matters most.  I listed out my priorities.  Here is what I came up with:



 Once I did this, I began to ask myself some important questions:

1.     What does God think about this? (I pray first...so important!)
2.    What does my husband think about this? (He is the voice God uses very often in my life to help me balance my life - he sees things clearly when I can get emotionally blinded or selfish)
3.    Will this activity cut into my priorities?
4.    Will this activity enhance time spent with my priorities?
5.    Can I honestly say I'm doing this because it's the right thing to do or is there another motive in there somewhere?
6.    If I do this, what are the possible domino effects down the line in the future?
7.    Are there any other options or creative compromises I can do to make this more feasible in my life?

You see, I'm finally realizing that if my top three priorities get pushed aside in order to fulfill commitments made outside of them, I suffer and so does my family and especially my relationship with God.  I envision my priorities being protected by a big boundary, like this:



When my priorities are protected, I can make a much wiser decision.  It's been a difficult transition and I can honestly say I'm really not there yet!  It's so hard to tell people "No" sometimes. But when I consider the consequences of over-commitment and resulting neglect in my top three priorities, I begin to understand the importance of protecting them. 

Bottom line: before committing, I need to ask myself: Is this a good thing or a God thing? It makes all the difference in the world. Just because it's a good thing doesn't mean it's a God thing. Just because I’m good at it, doesn't mean I should do it. Just because there is a need, doesn't mean I am the only one who can fill it. My life should reflect my priorities and if it doesn’t, tough choices must be made. I don't want to live a life of regret!

Galatians 5:16 "So I say, let the Holy Spirit guide your lives. Then you won't be doing what your sinful nature craves."

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Let's Make a Sick Child Smile Again - Together!

Please GIVE NOW by clicking HERE!
One of the perks of having been on a reality show is that I get the opportunity to help support different charities through fundraisers where they invite former contestants to help out.
I wish I could support all of these incredible charities but my busy schedule prevents me from attending all of them. I do like to take the time each year to support Give Kids the World in Orlando, FL, though. This incredible organization blessed my heart when I attended this fundraiser for the first time and has continued to touch my heart for the past four years of my involvement with them.

GKTW helps children with life-threatening illnesses and their entire families smile and forget that there is a devastating illness hovering over them. For an entire week, they are treated to a Disney vacation and all sorts of other incredible opportunities to be "normal". I cannot imagine how hard their lives must be - as their new normal is hospital visits, tiring treatments and medications and the constant wonder of what the next day might bring. How heartbreaking!

What I also really liked is that they pay special attention, not only to the sick child, but also to the siblings of the sick child, who so often get overlooked with all of the dire needs of their brother or sister who is suffering.

In this summer event, many previous reality contestants come together, dress up like princesses and pirates and get to spend an evening with the children who are there. The following day, we spend the day autographing and raising money to support them. All money that is made is sent directly to the charity to support it so more and more families can be treated to this incredible opportunity!

We also get the chance to raise money prior to the event through friends and family, like YOU!  It doesn't have to be much - if everyone reading this would donate at least $5-$10, we could really make a difference together. Of course, if you want to give more, I would appreciate that, too!!

If you would like to help me out and send some precious children and their families to Disney World with me, please support me by CLICKING HERE!

Thank you and God bless you for helping out the children and their families!

Saturday, April 19, 2014

I Don't Wanna Be a Ham!

I was told a lot when I was growing up, "You are such a ham!" and if I were honest I'd say I might still have a little "ham" left in me.  That's the expression people use when you like to be the center of attention - in the spotlight - the one who is up front and likes to perform.  I suppose some of us were born like that and since God now has me on a stage and on the radio, I'm glad He put it in me because I don't get as nervous since I grew up with that desire.  Now, though, I hope people see more of Him than they do me.  He can use my "hamminess" for His glory!

There's another Ham, though, that I find myself emulating on occasion that God cannot be glorified through.  It's not the kind of ham that enjoys the spotlight for his or herself, but who forces the spotlight on another Christian brother or sister's weakness or sin.  Let me explain...

Noah had three sons named Shem, Ham and Japtheth. In Genesis 9:18-29, we read about those sons.  One day, Noah drank a bunch of wine and became drunk and passed out naked in his tent.  When Ham saw that his father was naked, he went outside to tell his brothers.  One can only imagine that he was laughing at him.  Otherwise, he could have covered him up with a blanket to spare his father from embarrassment, but instead he told his brothers.  You can almost hear him, "You should see Dad!  This 'man of God' isn't acting much like a 'man of God' at all right now - he's passed out naked in there! Go see for yourself! haha"

But the other two brothers didn't make a mockery of their father along with Ham.  They put a stop to it.  Instead, they took a robe, held it over their shoulders and backed into the tent to cover their father up.  As they did this, they looked the other way so they would not see him naked.  They were showing grace, mercy and respect for him in a way that Ham did not.

When Noah woke up, the Bible says he learned about what Ham did and he put a curse on him.  I heard a pastor say once that Noah sinned, too - a sin of the flesh.  He should not have gotten drunk and passed out.  It was wrong and it was sinful and we are sure God and Noah had a few things to work out after that.  But when Ham sinned, it was a sin that came from a dark and uncompassionate, judgmental heart.  Those are the sins that bring curses on us even more so than the sins of the flesh that are so painful.  These "heart sins" are the ones that reveal the true condition of our heart.  Ham's heart was not filled with mercy or grace or love - his heart was filled with gossip, judgment and condemnation.  And he paid dearly for this.

I often see specific churches in the spotlight that are being raked through the coals online and in the press. They have different ways of approaching ministry, have people who've been hurt or have money being spent in places that others don't believe is appropriate. One specific church comes to mind that seems to be smacked down over and over and over again. I have even found myself judging some of the things I've heard. But as I prayed, I realized something...

I know tons of people who attend this church regularly who are very, very strong believers in Christ.  Thousands of people have come into a relationship with Christ as a result of the ministry in this church.  God is using this church in so many profound ways!  Do they do everything the way I do?  No, but that's okay with God.  He likes it when His children use their gifts and abilities in unique and diverse ways to glorify Him and He made us all different for a reason.  Is there fruit in this ministry?  Yes, it cannot be denied.  Could they do things differently in some areas?  Yeah, of course.  So could I.  Do I attend this church?  No, I do not.  Are they perfect?  No.  Am I?  Umm....absolutely not!

My point is this...I've seen news stories, blogs and social media rants about things that have happened at the church.  Many of them were written by Christians who are angry and frustrated and with good reason.  A lot of people have a lot of things to say about this church and they don't seem to have any problems doing it publicly.  I do not believe God was pleased in the least by what happened...but I believe He is also not pleased when we sin in our hearts by gossiping, judging publicly and exposing them to the world.

God is dealing with them and teaching them in many ways through this experience.  He can redeem this and they can learn from it - and so can we.  Could it be that, instead of exposing them and pointing out their faults publicly, that we should come alongside of them and show some grace?  Yes, we are to judge those inside of the church - but shouldn't that be going on inside the church, not for the world to see in public places?

How does the world perceive it when churches bicker and pick on one another because they are "different" or one church messes up and other churches are quick to judge?  I know it must grieve the heart of God.  He knows if something needs judging and He is the only One who can judge situations from a perfect perspective.  But as an unbeliever watching on...I bet it's pretty unsettling to watch all the back-biting and strong words we have for one another.  God is perfectly capable of defending Himself and actually prefers it over having us try to defend him from our limited and human perspective.

My prayer is that God will keep me from being like Ham in this and in every situation.  After all...if I mess up, I certainly wouldn't want a "Ham" exposing me!  Instead of exposing, may I show compassion and kindness in how I share with others about my brothers and sisters in Christ. And if I have a beef with someone, I pray I will not act like Ham in dealing with it. (smile)

Most important of all, continue to show deep love for each other, for love covers a multitude of sins. 1 Peter 4:8

Saturday, April 12, 2014

A Wedding Made in Heaven

Butterflies of excitement are what usually accompany a Bride on her wedding day!  We dream of this special day as little girls. Our beautiful white dress, the flowers, the meticulous details and colors, our family and friends on both sides, our handsome husband-to-be at the end of the isle waiting...I get butterflies just thinking about it and my husband and I will celebrate 25 years next month! Truly, it's a day worth remembering forever.

If I were honest, I'd say one of my favorite parts of a wedding is not only when the Bride bursts through looking radiant and beautiful before walking down the isle, but also the look on the Groom's face as he sees her for the first time. She's worked hard, had her hair done, makeup perfect and looks radiant as she walks down the aisle, locking eyes with him - the one for whom she's been doing all the
work to prepare! This is the woman he has chosen to spend the rest of his life with and he's usually overwhelmed with tears (or in a desperate fight to keep those tears from coming!). It's just beautiful!

Imagine this, though...

The Groom is standing at the end of the isle as the music plays, knowing his Bride will be bursting through those doors at any minute. He is literally fighting back the tears as he thinks of how beautiful she is, how much he loves her and how she's going to take his breath away. She's probably spent the entire day preparing for this moment! After all, she loves him as much as he loves her. This marriage was literally made in heaven!

As the music plays and the doors swing open, the Bride is standing there awkwardly....in her wrinkled and stained pajamas, with bed-head, looking confused, like she just woke up.  She almost looks in shock. She blurts out, "Oh, is it TODAY? I had no idea! I knew it was coming but I wasn't really thinking it would be so soon!" The Bride walks timid and embarrassed down the isle, totally unprepared for what should have been the most exciting day of her life. She can never re-live this moment.

I bring this up because just like when Spring comes and we begin to see weddings popping up everywhere, I believe Spring is upon us as Christians and our Groom is standing at the front of the aisle, ready for us. I think it is just a matter of time before those doors swing open and our procession begins! Are we ready? Do we really believe He's coming for us? Do we believe the promise that Jesus gave that He is coming back for us?

I was reading this in Ephesians today and it struck me for several reasons:

Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her, that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that He might present the church to Himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. 
Ephesians 5:25-27

Christ loves us so much that He gave Himself up for us, friends. It's clear in this passage of Scripture that He did this so that He might present us to Himself, not wrinkled and stained and disheveled, but without spot, wrinkle or any such thing!  He knows we could never present ourselves without spot or wrinkle in our own strength. We are incapable, so He gives us what we need in order to do this. He gives us His holiness. He gives us His desires. He gives us His righteousness. Our job is to allow Him to do that. To remember that our special day is coming - and our Groom will be waiting for us. Will we be ready?

Revelation 19:7-9
Let us be glad and rejoice and let us give honor to Him. For the time has come for the wedding feast of the Lamb, and His Bride has prepared herself. She has been given the finest of pure white linen to wear." For the fine linen represents the good deeds of God's holy people. And the angel said to me, "Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding feast of the Lamb." And he added, "These are the true words that come from God."

So many of us live like this promised day is just a fantasy. Or like maybe it's just not going to happen - maybe He didn't mean He was going to literally come back for us. But God is not a liar. He wouldn't tell us it was going to happen if it wasn't true. So the question isn't whether or not our Groom will come for us; instead, the question becomes, "Will we be ready when He does come?".
It's time to get ready, friends. Imagine the look on our Groom's face when those doors swing open and we are ready and waiting. He will fight back the tears as He sees His beautiful bride walking toward Him. The Bride He gave Himself up for, the Bride He loves. The Bride He will spend eternity loving.
Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. He who calls you is faithful, He will surely do it. 
1 Thessalonians 5:23-24



Monday, March 31, 2014

My Thoughts on "Noah"

I saw the movie Noah this weekend. In admitting that, I feel like I should hang my head in shame because so many people have come up against it. Honestly, when we went to see it, friends of ours walked up to us outside the theater and asked, "Hey guys! What are you seeing?" and I paused. What would they think? Would they think we are bad Christians? We answered, "Noah" and braced ourselves. Come to find out, that's what they were seeing, too. Maybe I was worked up over nothing? Whew!

I know there is so much controversy surrounding this movie. People are talking about it and I do not want to have an opinion based on other's opinions - I wanted to see it for myself so I could have an intelligent conversation with others about it based on experience, not hear-say. I wanted to see if there were any redemptive qualities in it.

Here are some of my thoughts after seeing it:

1. No, it's not Biblically accurate. That's not even what the director was going for, we all know that, so don't expect that. It's a story with a lot of similarities and a lot of redeeming qualities but also a lot of crazy stuff (really crazy stuff!) that's not in the Bible at all. It opens with "In the beginning there was nothing..." and we all know that the Bible says "In the beginning, GOD....". However, it then goes on to say "The Creator" created everything from nothing, not a "big bang". So obviously, in the beginning there WAS something - The Creator.

2. No, it doesn't use the name of God, but it does use "The Creator" and shows that clearly He created everything, including man.  In the movie, this "Creator" was not much like God at all, though - he was more angry, less compassionate and seemed distant. I know God is nothing like that.

3. The movie actually took my breath one moment when it showed people clinging to the top of a mountain and screaming while the rains kept coming. Noah and his family heard the screams from inside the ark and it was very hard on them emotionally.  It was heart breaking and made me think of it in a realistic way. I'm a visual person, so that was really made an impact on me.  The movie showed something (probably without meaning to) - that following God's instructions and plans for our lives isn't always roses and rainbows. It can be downright hard to make the right choices. And the world will not usually support us or agree with us. But God rewards our faithfulness. There is purpose behind the pain, always.

4. Basically, in the movie, the sin that "The Creator" seemed most angry about was that evil people ate meat. (Egads!) There was clearly an agenda in that one. I would guess the director is a Vegan? And the animals were saved because they were "innocent". It was like Noah was protecting them from the evil meat-eaters.

5. It was a L-O-N-G movie and though I thought it was interesting, my husband was bored and wanted it to end. haha We knew another couple there and they said the same thing. She liked it, he was not impressed!

6. I ran straight to my Bible when I got home and re-read the story of Noah in Genesis. My guess is lots of folks will do this. My prayer is that in doing so, they will meet the TRUE God and realize that He loves them and wants a relationship with them. That, to me, is redeeming! God can use this movie for good. He's awesome that way. :)

7. I found myself praying for the director throughout the movie. He is openly an Atheist from what I understand and my prayer is that God's Word did not return void in his heart as he researched for this movie. I pray He will find the Truth and that who God is and that he will understand how much God loves him! It can happen, you know. Even if you don't see the movie, please pray for him.

There is more I could write about theologically speaking, but I will just say that if you go see it, you just need to know it's not the Bible story you grew up hearing. I found it interesting and visually stunning, but found much of the plot to be embellished and definitely not Biblically accurate. If you are looking for a film about the theology of Noah's story, this is not the film for you.

No, it's not the Biblical story, but there are redeeming qualities and I truly do believe God can use it to speak to people. I know the real Ark is a direct representation of Christ - a beautiful picture of the salvation that was coming as He gave Himself for us on the Cross. Jesus is our shelter in the storm, our salvation from destruction, our hope in a hopeless world! And though I don't agree with how the movie represented the Truth of who God is, it will get people searching.

In closing, I cannot help but think of Philippians 1:18 "....Whether their motives are false or genuine, the message about Christ is being preached either way, so I rejoice. And I will continue to rejoice!"

Monday, February 17, 2014

Looking Sin in the Eye at the Crossroad

I looked sin in the eye this past week. It sent shudders up my spine and my heart was broken as I saw tears fall from my friend’s face.  Her eyes looked devastated and remorseful – almost vacant. In that moment, I was reminded that sin is such a liar.

Sin entices us with promises it never intends to fulfill:

Life will be better.
It will help me cope.
It won’t be a big deal.
It’s my life – I’m only hurting myself.
Everyone else is doing it.

Once the sin is uncovered and brought into the light, it is threatened. It wants to hide again. It wants to put a tighter hold on us. It wants to convince us that our wrong choices are our identity. It wants to strip us of our dignity and make us ashamed. It tells us life will never get better, there is no hope. Quite different than the promises it made in the beginning, isn’t it?

Light must be shined on sin in order for us to come to this important crossroad: the crossroad of life or death. Will we take the road that leads to life or the road that leads to death? We have a choice. Will we turn away from the sin and confess it? Will we receive forgiveness and move forward? Or will we believe the lie that we are without hope, unable to change and that forgiveness isn’t possible - our sin defines who we are now?

When I looked in the eyes of my dear friend, I saw that sin was desperate to strangle the life out of her. It reminded me of where I’ve come from. I’ve been to that crossroads before and I’m sure I will visit it again. All of us sin and fall short of the standard that God has set for us, but none of us have to allow that to define us. We have hope and we can break free!

The first step in taking the road that leads to life is admitting that we messed up – well, let’s call it what it is – we sinned. Once we admit it, the light is exposing it. I think that just as plants grow in the sunlight, sin grows and entangles us in the darkness. Once the darkness is exposed to the light, it begins to lose its grip on us. Once we begin taking the road to life, we can learn from our past choices and grow. God redeems our past and it loses its grip on us. 

If there is a person we hurt as a result of our sin, and that person is not willing to forgive, we must not allow that to keep us from accepting Christ’s forgiveness. In Psalm 51, King David wrote about his sin of adultery and murder and said, “I have sinned against You, and only You, God.”  Truly, if God forgives us, we are forgiven. If we have asked another person to forgive us and genuinely turned from the sin, it is no more we can do to convince them to forgive us. Sometimes people just need time to deal with it and hear from God. Trust must be earned back and this takes time, too. Other times, they are so hurt that forgiveness may seem impossible. That is between them and God.

The road that leads to death is always the most tempting road. It is the road that wants to blame others, it wants to downplay our sin and it wants to keep it hidden as much as possible. It wants to give us a new identity - a sinful one - and it wants to try to convince us that we will never change. I want to encourage you to steer clear of this well-traveled road. The enemy of our souls paved this road with lies and empty promises. This is the road that leads you right into his plan to steal your confidence, kill your dreams and destroy your life. This road is the coward’s road.

If you are struggling with a specific sin that is making you miserable, I want to encourage you to come clean. Don’t allow this sin to grow in your heart and mind for one more moment!

Proverbs 28:13 says, “People who conceal their sin will not prosper; but if they confess and turn from them, they will find mercy.” Your sin will not relent – it will continue to devour you until you are destroyed and miserable. It is a liar and it will never live up to the empty promises it made at first. But Christ offers forgiveness and mercy – and a chance to learn and grow from this situation and move forward in a new life!

Jesus spoke to the people once more and said, “I am the light of the world. If you follow me, you won’t have to walk in darkness, because you will have the light that leads to life.” –John 8:12


Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Mean-Spirited People

Her name was Mary Beth.  I remember it like yesterday, even though it happened in fourth grade.  She was so mean to me.  She made fun of me, stole my friends and even convinced the boy I liked that I had cooties so he ran away from me.  That was my first taste of pure dislike (probably more like hate) of someone. 

But it wasn't my last.

Unfortunately, there are people in our lives that just irritate us, berate us or make us feel like we are not loveable.  These people are easy to hate.  But they are hard to love.  Mean-spirited people can bring out the worst in us. And yet, Jesus tells us clearly that we are to "Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you! In that way, you will be acting as true children of your Father in heaven." (Matt. 5:44-45).  I remember thinking that was impossible the first time I read it.  But it is true - when we pray for our enemies, the Lord does something very miraculous in our heart - He changes it and gives us a love for people that we never thought we could love.

I never took revenge on Mary Beth, mostly because I was inexperienced, but in my life I have tried taking matters into my own hands with people who were ugly to me and it was never a favorable outcome.  Now I think I see why...

"Don't rejoice when your enemies fall; don't be happy when they stumble.  For the Lord will be displeased with you and will turn His anger away from them."  Proverbs 24:17-18

Whoa. So when I find sadistic joy in someone who I don't like falling (or failing), God actually turns His anger from them and is displeased with me.  It's like this invisible force-field of protection that I put up around the one with whom I am irritated!  How crazy is that?

I know it's tempting to want to get even.  I know people can be downright difficult to live with.  I know there are times when it seems appropriate to be the avenger.  But the next time I feel like I need to get even, I need to remember that when I try to do it myself, I'm in essence telling God, "No thanks, I've got this one" and He then protects that person from me. 

So....my question for you is Who are you praying for today? I know the list is probably a long one of the people you love, the people on your prayer list from church or bible study.  But what about those who are under your skin, irritating you to the point of frustration?  What about those who laugh when you fail?  Or try to take your job?  Or make fun of the way you look?  Or talk behind your back?  Or maybe this person broke your heart? 

The challenge for today is to pray for someone you don't necessarily feel like loving.  I know that God can change your heart for this person because His Word says so.  And I know it because He's done it for me.

Matthew 5:38-39 You have heard the law that says the punishment must match the injury: "An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth." But I say, do not resist an evil person!  If someone slaps you on the right cheek, offer the other cheek also."

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