Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Going Beyond

My son's dog, Buddy, goes out back on a long lead when he goes outside.  We hook him up and he goes about 40-50 feet out until it tugs on his collar and he knows where his boundaries are. There is a little circular path where he has walked back and forth.  He rarely has a tug on his collar anymore - he is very aware of how far he can go before the tug happens! 

The other day, Buddy's lead was broken and we couldn't get it to hook onto his collar.  I let him out and just stood there, watching him to make sure he didn't go too far.  Well, he didn't.  It was as if he still had his lead on him.  I was amazed at how he continued walking the exact same path, no further.  He didn't even try to go any further than his boundaries.  He was content with the familiar and he was trained to be bound. I don't even think he realized the chain was gone!  I thought for sure that Buddy would realize he was free and that he would run like the wind, well past his normal boundaries.  But he didn't.  It was quite intriguing.  And then it got me thinking...

It kind of reminded me of how I can be sometimes.  It is for freedom that Christ has set me free, according to Galatians 5:1.  But free from what?  Do I act as if I'm free all the time?  Not so much.  I have been not only saved from sin but I've been set free not to sin and yet often I stay in the same place, wandering on the well-trodden path that I've made just inside my boundaries of the world.  It's as if I don't realize the chain has been snapped and I'm free to go beyond these walls of bondage - but I just don't see it.

How often do I continue to have the same negative thoughts when things get tough?  How often do I worry and complain?  How often do I make the wrong choice because the right one just seems too hard to make?  Every time I decide to willfully sin, I'm acting as if I'm still in chains, still a prisoner to the very sin that Jesus set me free from on the day I received His promise!  Why do I do this?

Maybe it's because, like Buddy, I am comfortable and it is familiar?  I've been trained to be bound. Maybe I am afraid to go beyond the "normal" and experience Christ's freedom?  I mean, what might He ask me to do out there?  What might I encounter?  No matter what, I only know that today I want to go beyond.  I want to experience the freedom Christ died to give me!  I'm reminded that He is with me and He is guiding me - He says He will never leave me or forsake me...do I believe this?

Go beyond, my friend.  Choose wisely today.  Give Him the opportunity to show you how freedom feels and trust Him to help you choose.  The world believes that freedom is being able to sin; that being "free" means we can do whatever our sinful nature wants.  But that will always keep us bound in chains.  It's not very challenging to go with the flow, to continue to make the choices we used to make that were easy to make but left huge, painful consequences.  We think that's adventure?  No way.   It's much bolder and a lot gutsier to go past the boundaries and break free from the chains that sin has bound us with into the new life of freedom Christ promised us!  Now that's adventure.

Buddy did the right thing by staying in the safety of his boundaries.  But we do the right thing by running free, far past the world's boundaries that we used to be bound to!  Christ has broken the chains, my friend!  True freedom comes when we realize that we are free not to sin.  Our freedom is exhibited best when we walk in the Truth - the new life He has given us - the freedom that comes when we choose what, in our own power, would be impossible. 

Romans 6:14-18  Sin is no longer your master, for you no longer live under the requirements of the law.  Instead, you live under the freedom of God's grace.  Well then, since God's grace has set us free from the law, does that mean we can go on sinning?  Of course not!  Don't you realize that you become a slave of whatever you choose to obey?  

You can be a slave to sin, which leads to death, or you can choose to obey God, which leads to righteous living.  Thank God!  Once you were slaves of sin, but now you wholeheartedly obey this teaching we have given you.  Now you are free from your slavery to sin and you have become slaves to righteous living!

Monday, May 24, 2010

The Wayward Child

Noises surround me and my heart is feeling weak
As I stand here before you I can hardly even speak

For I used to be stronger, but my strength - it has failed
As I chose to go wandering and the lies I inhaled

The lies that were spoken were so hard to discern
For I'd forsaken your Word and chose the hard way to learn

This path is well-trodden, I've been down it before
But each time I always swore I would tread down it no more

And yet here I am again, with my head hanging low
This lonely, dark path where the weeds and thistles grow

Whatever possessed me to walk this dark way again?
All alone and so lonely, while You watched me pretend.

Your heart must have broken as You saw me walk away
Your love never left me, though You allowed me to stray.

And now I'm returning and I'm down on my knees
Begging for forgiveness and wanting only to please.

My heart is just breaking as I look in Your eyes
I'm so tired of wearing this evil disguise!

It's overwhelming to me how You embrace me and say:
"My child, I've always been here, I've never gone away.

Your apology is accepted, I can see your heart is pure
Please keep your eyes on Me, so evil cannot lure.

Remember to fear Me and to give Me control
I will restore all of the things that the enemy stole."

The tears are falling now and I'm filled with such joy;
God's love has restored what the devil tried to destroy!

I receive Your forgiveness, Lord, and I want to be free
Thank You for Your grace and Your mercy to me!

-Leslie Nease

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Wonder Woman

I found a book in my husband's office the other day called I Married Wonder Woman - Now What?  I suppose at first I was a little flattered.  My husband thinks I'm Wonder Woman?  How sweet!  Then I realized it was a book about the Proverbs 31-type woman of this century (a P31 woman is a woman that the bible talks about who has is a sort of wonder woman). Someone who's got it all together, who is organized, efficient, and has a great balance in her life as she seeks and conquerors the next big adventure!

Nope.  Doesn't sound like me at all!

Ok, I admit it - I do seek adventure.  But organized?  Having it all together? Efficient?  Balance? Not so much.  I mean, I try.  I try a little too hard at times.  I must admit it's tough being a woman today.  And if I am being compared to Wonder Woman, the stakes are raised even more!  I mean, have you seen how tiny her waist is? 

Have you ever looked at another woman and thought that she had it all together?  I hope you never looked at me that way.  It couldn't be further from the truth!  But if that's the case - if people think that - then I'm doing something wrong.  I must be wearing some sort of mask (does Wonder Woman wear a mask?).  Today I'm feeling the need to rip that mask off though, and let you know how it really goes down for me in my house:

Proverbs 31:11 Her husband can trust her; and she will greatly enrich his life.
Reality:  My husband must remind me to do just about everything and I often feel as though I probably make his life more difficult sometimes.  He says it's a good balance and that without me he'd be too straight-laced.  I say I'm blessed to have a husband who looks at it that way.

Proverbs 31:12 She brings him good, not harm, all the days of her life.
Reality:  I wish.  It seems he spends a great deal of his time fixing things that I mess up because I tend to act before I think.  God bless him for loving me in spite of this!

Proverbs 31:13  She find wool and flax and busily spins it.
Reality:  I don't know what flax is and the only time I spin is in my cycle class.

Proverbs 31:14  She is like a merchant's ship, bringing her food from afar.
Reality:  The grocery store is like a mile up the road.  I bring our food from aclose, not afar.  And sometimes, I bring it from Taco Bell.

Proverbs 31:15 She gets up before dawn to prepare breakfast for her household and plan the days work for her servant girls.
Reality:  I do get up before dawn but I don't do it to prepare breakfast - I do it to have some quiet time before the household wakes up.  Once they do, they pretty much fend for themselves with breakfast because I usually enjoy my quiet time a little too much and then wake them up late.  And about preparing a plan for my servant girls....um...I wish I had some servant girls to prepare a plan for!  This verse makes me realize that the P31 woman gets a lot of help and maybe THAT's why she's so amazing?!

Proverbs 31:17  She is energetic and strong, a hard worker.
Reality:  I hit a wall by about 3pm and slide down from there.  Coffee helps.

Proverbs 31:18  She makes sure her dealings are profitable; her lamp burns late into the night.
Reality:  I am lucky to make it to 10pm. 

Proverbs 31:22 She makes her own bedspreads.  She dresses in fine linen and purple gowns.
Reality:  Seriously?  I don't sew.  And I don't wear linen because it requires dry cleaning and pressing - no thank you.  I rarely wear purple - mostly black because I hear it's slimming.


Proverbs 31:26  When she speaks, her words are wise, and she gives instructions with kindness.  
Reality:  When I speak, I usually try to take back what I said because it didn't come out the way I intended.  I try to give instructions with kindness but if I were honest, I'd admit that it doesn't always happen that way.  I can be kind of cranky at times.

Proverbs 31:28 Her children stand and bless her.  Her husband praises her.
Reality:  My children often tell me how I am the only mom in the whole entire school that doesn't volunteer all the time and how they wish I would be more like so-n-so's mom.  My husband does praise me but I think it may be because he knows my love language is words of affirmation.

I think you get the picture.  I'm usually falling woefully short of the P31 woman standards.  But you know what?  This wonder woman isn't reality.  But reading about her can help me to evaluate and set some goals for my life.  Look over this passage every now and then for a reality check and to take inventory of your own life, but don't hold yourself up to that standard.  God loves you and is changing you one day at a time.  This can take a lifetime to do!  In the meantime, thank God for the small victories you have as you become more and more like Christ with each day.  He does love you - no matter how much like wonder woman you are (or aren't)!

On a side note, I just told my husband that I can't believe how UNlike the Proverbs 31 woman I feel I am.  He said "Maybe you're more like the Proverbs 3.1 woman?" 

Gee.  Thanks, honey. 

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