A better way to honor change

Do not let sin control the way you live; do not give in to sinful desires. Do not let any part of your body become an instrument of evil to serve sin. Instead, give yourselves completely to God, for you were dead, but now you have new life. So use your whole body as an instrument to do what is right for the glory of God. 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. Romans 6:12-14

There is something my youngest pokes fun at me any chance he can for saying-“The ‘p’ in pastor doesn’t stand for ‘perfect.’”He repeats it anytime he recalls some slip of tongue in the car in the past at an inept driver, any transgression deemed unbefitting of someone “called” to lead a flock from the past 10-13 years of his life. “I know. I know. ‘P’ in pastor doesn’t stand for “perfect.”

Why have I had to say this so many times until it’s almost some ridiculous mantra repeated at dinner? Because, yes. I struggled with road rage for a number of years, and my children were witness to it. During those moments, a range of 4 letter words would flow, and my kids reminded me they were not appropriate. But what bothered me most? Even after I was “reformed,” started waving instead when someone flipped me off, and stopped cursing when someone cut me off, was that they just never let me forget it. Hence the need to remind them that the process of sanctification, was a process. Even for pastors.

Paul even reminds the Roman church of this in Chapter 6, in his letter to them, reminding them of where “perfection” comes-through their new life in Christ.

But how many of us are like my children at times? Continuing to bring up the used-to’s? The behaviors before Jesus came in and cleaned up that mess, before we fully surrendered, and handed over all those sinful practices to Him? Are we just not willing to let it go? That person whether pastor or not, may have truly decided not to let sin control them-whether it’s cursing or something else, but we won’t stop bringing up their old desire to do so-so we deny the work of the Spirit in their lives, look past what God has done to move them through a process of change, and fail to celebrate the new life that has been born. They start to believe…well, they will just never be “perfect” enough for you.

There is a better way. Paul also talks about it to another church. The church in Corinth, when he talks about something else we view as perfect by the world’s standards-love. In 1 Corinthians 13, Paul describes perfect love-Christian love. He says, this type of love does not keep a record of wrongs (v5). In addition, this “perfect” love, never loses faith and is always hopeful (v7). So, someone loving and celebrating new life, displaying Christian love; would not harp on another’s flaws, but would rejoice in the making new.

Are we walking this better way-with others or even with ourselves? Focused on the making new, in the dead life we were removed from when Jesus called us out of those ways into something better? If we are still holding onto the old, can we let it go, so we can truly help others move forward in the Christ-like “perfection,” and ourselves as well?

Because He certainly did. And He expects us to as well.

Pleasing Him Above All Others

Obviously, I’m not trying to win the approval of people, but of God. If pleasing people were my goal, I would not be Christ’s servant. Galatians 1:10

I have got to get balanced. I said to myself. 

I had said something of the same nature a number of times. Maybe even felt it once or twice over the course of the year, and if I was being honest with myself it was probably when I was on vacation, or was only spinning one plate. I rarely spin one plate. I spin multiple. In the air. At the same time. Usually on the same day. And through the years, with the help of therapy, self-awareness, and most of all God…I know I don’t do well with spinning plates. 

Some plate eventually falls.

The one that does is usually me. And what happens is I become a person I don’t like very much. I know in these moments I have to focus on that plate, and let the others sit down for a bit.

And in my search I found it, that thing I was looking frantically for. Not the balance I so desperately wanted, but some idea of it I remembered was sitting on a shelf staring at me. A book. It’s title? The Worn Out Woman: When Your Life is Full and Your Spirit is Empty.

I had read this book before. Well, actually…started and not finished. I was worn out. Check. My life was certainly full. Check. But was my spirit empty? Not yet. But I didn’t want to get here, either.

So I started reading it, doing all the assignments the end of each chapter suggested. Because these things only work with follow through. Reading is wonderful. Knowledge is great, but its true power comes from action. 

And then, I got to this…the core of most of our problems with balance: people-pleasing. Now…someone needs this today. I know, because I used to be that someone. A people-pleaser. According to the authors, you can determine if you are doing things in an effort to please people by asking the following questions:

Do I work overtime to impress those around me? Do I often say yes when I really want to say no? Do I depend too much on compliments and affirmations to make me feel good? Do I let others schedule my priorities and activities? Do I try too hard to be nice? Do I take criticism too personally? Do I find it too hard to be firm? Do I feel bad when someone is upset with me? Do I apologize when I don’t need to? Do I bend over backward for other people, even when part of me is protesting or resentful? (page 46)

If you answered yes, you, my dear, may suffer from the disease to please.

And if you need a personal and vulnerable testimony to help it sink in. To not feel so alone, here you go:

My people-pleasing came in the form of expectations. Meeting unrealistic expectations, because they were expectations of others. Boxes I was trying to check-off that others had deemed necessary for me, and I wanted desperately to fit into them. To be liked. To be approved. To feel like a part. I did this in most spaces-work, friendships, even people I didn’t like very much. I did everything to figure out why they didn’t like me. Tried to change it, and eventually lost who I was. I even did this…yes, at church.

People-pleasing did not save me from rejection. I did not make people like me more. It did not make me feel a greater sense of belonging. It made me feel less connected, less genuine, and less like my true, authentic self. It also wore me down, and made me feel no sense of purpose.

Pleasing people can leave you worn out. Feeling as if you never measure up. Feeling completely lost, and wondering where you fit in. You will not please every single person here even if you try, and the desire to do so will leave you depleted. It can also leave you questioning your call. I know, because I did. I almost completely left it.

Now, back to those questions. Let’s go back and insert “God” into the originals: Do I work overtime to impress God? Do I often say yes to God? Do I depend on God to make me feel good? Do I make God a priority over other activities? Do I respond to others with honesty? When criticized do I seek God in prayer and handle conversations with care? Do I speak the truth in love when I need to be firm? Do I seek to make ammends when someone is upset with me? Do I apologize and take accountability when I need to? Do I seek God’s will for assignments and priorities, and set boundaries with my time if needed?

Are the answers different? If they aren’t and you find yourself saying “no,” then perhaps you need to change your priority and focus. Is your focus on likes and approval from those around you, or on what God has destined for you? Praying for God to reveal this and for Him to shift your priorities will help in shifting from people-pleasing to God-pleasing.

And isn’t this what we really want, anyway? To please Him above all others?

You Belong with Him

What is our deepest desire? For many of us, what is we want the most?

Think about it. Really think about it.

When we go into a new space. Whether a new job, a new school, a new group, a new place. When we are among new people, or people we have known for a number of years. When we are searching for that special someone. A new church. That place we will drop our kids off for care each day. What exactly are we longing for? What elements are we seeking?

Acceptance. A place to belong. That’s what we are looking for. And in these places, will we find it? Even in places we have been for long times, surrounded by people who smile, laugh, and sit among us-do we always feel it? Like we belong?

Or do we feel something like this?

Just a little unseen
Always on the outside looking in
Just a little unsure
Uncomfortable in my own skin

Hiding in the shadows looking on
Holding out for someone I’ll become
Waiting on the words I’ve burned to hear for so long. “You Belong,” Francesca Battistelli

A need to change who we are to fit in certain spaces? A feeling of loneliness even in places surrounded by lots of people? The feeling that the people who have known us the longest still don’t “get” us no matter how much we talk, try to tell our stories, or seek to be understood?

There is a place we belong. One who sees us. Knows us. Understands us. And from whom we don’t have to hide or pretend.

It’s God. He knows us deeply. So deeply. Intricately.

You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother’s womb. Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex! Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it. You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion, as I was woven together in the dark of the womb. You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed. Psalm 139:13-16, NLT

Isn’t that intricate indeed?

And He longs for us to know how deeply we are loved immensely by Him. He longs for us to know how we fit in His plan. He desires we stop trying to seek acceptance and belonging from things and places that just can’t fill this deep longing we have. Cannot know us in the exact way the Psalmist has described. We can try, but it just won’t be the same. It will not come close.

Are you ready to belong? To truly belong? Then maybe it’s time to belong to Him.

I do not own rights to video, music, or lyrics.

Yes, Even the Wind…

Summer. Oh, the many joys of summer. Longer days. Sun. Vacation. Outdoor time. Cool snacks. A mid-day thunderstorm. Yes, I actually enjoy one of those…if it also involves a nap, doesn’t come in the middle of a long drive, or wrecks otherwise best-laid plans.

Summer is bound to bring witth it lots of sun, but also many a thunderstorm. This particular afternoon was no different, except it was. We were hosting our church youth group for a pool party. My husband and I had been talking for some time about blessing others with the blessings we have been given, and were in a place to do just that. Except-there was a problem.

Not the food. There was plenty. Not the sodas. Our youth pastor was making sure sodas were aplenty. Not the pool. It had been cleaned. Every leaf, bug, piece of debris was gone. It was the weather. The storm that was brewing; and of course, it was expected to run into “party” time.

We had been here before. This pool saw its first baptism the summer before, and Satan tried to do the same thing then. Throw in an anticpated storm to keep that from happening. It didn’t work then, so why did he think it would today?

Then Jesus got into the boat and started across the lake with his disciples. Suddenly, a fierce storm struck the lake, with waves breaking into the boat. But Jesus was sleeping. The disciples went and woke him up, shouting, “Lord, save us! We’re going to drown!” Jesus responded, “Why are you afraid? You have so little faith!” Then he got up and rebuked the wind and waves, and suddenly there was a great calm. The disciples were amazed. “Who is this man?” they asked. “Even the winds and waves obey him!” Matthew 8:23-27, NLT

That’s right. Even the wind. And that is what I requested. That He make the wind obey. Rebuke it actually, and cause the skies to clear so no rain would fall during this evening. I prayed, and I left the outcome to Him.

I didn’t look at the weather anymore. I didn’t focus on what it was like outside. What the clock said, meaning would all this pass before the start of this event? Preparations continued as if the storm wasn’t going to occur at all.

We read these miracles. We have heard this story in countless sermons, but we “of little faith,” don’t call on Him to make the wind obey. To calm the storm. The disciples were even guilty of this. Tucked in the passages prior to this story were stories of other healings and miracles that Jesus had performed: a man healed of leprosy, a Roman servant healed through faith, and Peter’s own mother-in-law was healed. And yet, here are the disciples, in a boat, with the One who they watched do all these things with little faith.

I can imagine exactly what they were doing, too. No different than we are at times, minus the doppler radars, and lightening strike notifications. They forgot everything they witnessed. They forgot the good they saw in Jesus, and they stayed focused on chaos. Scrambling around, focused on their own strength, asking questions of each other: Should we change course? What plans do we need to change? Where should we go? What should we do? What if this? Forgetting that the one with ALL the strength, knowledge, and wisdom was on the back of that boat, and only looking to Him when all else failed.

“You, of such little faith.”

You know, it did rain after all. God did not make the rain simply go away, but on that afternoon it lasted maybe ten whole minutes. Predicted by man to last an hour. It also ended up being clear and sunny for the remainder of the evening, also a prediction by man to not be the case. See, God’s will wasn’t to keep fellowship from occurring-but Satan sure did try. His desire, at all times, is for us to ask for what we need, and believe it. Have faith.

So…are we quick to forget the One who provides in the midst of our storms? Even the thunderstorms? Are we quick to abort mission when our best-laid plans don’t look like they are going to turn out the way we predicted? Or do we go to the one who controls all those predictions anyway? And let Him have our plans?

Because yes…even the wind obeys when we ask, and believe.

A Way Out of the Mess

I have been discouraged. Let me be clear and honest. Moments of discouragment often come after what I refer to as mountaintop moments. When you get up to the top, you have to come down, right? Anyone familiar with this terrain, whether naturally or spiritually knows there is a valley down below.

In that valley, Satan waits. He hates mountaintop moments. He beats you up. Tears you down. Exposes all your missteps and character flaws on the way down-because he is hoping you don’t have the strength or desire to climb anymore mountains.

It had been that way for about three weeks. No desire to write. An anxious mood. Weary. On edge. The world, and all its mess weighing heavy. Add all this to Satan’s conistent reminders of my own past messes.

In those days Israel had no king; all the people did whatever seemed right in their own eyes. Judges 21:25

That’s the reality. It just is. And we can argue that the book of Judges was written 3,000 years ago, and it isn’t relevant. But folks-His Word is alive, active, present. Read the verse again, and tell me it isn’t just as real and present today.

We wander around daily, not turning to our King. Making poor choices, because we are carnal humans bound by our flesh, and our earthly desires. We do whatever we feel in the moment. “This feels so right,” so we continue it. We do what we think our friends, families, or co-workers would approve of-to be more liked. We “go with the flow,” not having any clear direction, and make all kinds of plans, but we never check in with the King.

All of the messes I have gotten myself into have all been because I stopped calling on God, didn’t listen to Him, and did things my way. I created my own messes, and my King was gracious enough to get me out of them.

I made choices that led me to destruction, and my King saved me from it.

And He reminded me, as I battled through the valley-focusing my attention on Him, and not that dirty liar that this is the exact reason I write. To share the mess, along with the triumphs. To share the mess, and the One who saves from it. To share the truth about the journey through faith that has mountaintop moments and some valleys, but a King who gets us to and through each and every one.

Are you ready to focus your eyes on Him today? Or are you going to keep doing things your way?

Will He Be Enough?

It had finally gotten me. The virus that had arrived like the relative that asks to stay for a month or two, and ends up taking up residence for two years instead. And I had been fortunate. Even with home visits, and my time spent in and out of multiple schools, I had scraped by untouched.

And I knew how fortunate I was to not have had the blows so many others did…but this morning? This morning I decided to have a pity party. It had been almost 2 weeks. I had been better. Now? I was feeling bad again. Up all night coughing. I hadn’t even done that the two days I had this stupid virus.

I felt helpless. I felt crummy. For over two years life had been a roller coaster of junk, blows, falls, and endless climbing. Many of these trials also meant I had to look hard. Stare long and hard at myself in the mirror. Realize some of my actions and choices even caused some of the junk. It wasn’t always someone else. It wasn’t even God. It was me.

But now life was looking up. There was light at the end of that long, dark tunnel. I actually liked the girl in the mirror. The girl in the mirror was finally lighter, freer, happy with who she had become, and not seeking approval. She was seeing beyond the brush in the forest, and now seeing fruit hanging from the branches.

And also having a pity party on the way to work because she couldn’t stop coughing. It seemed so silly when I heard these words:

Going through a storm but I won’t go down. I hear Your voice carried in the rhythm of the wind to call me out. You would cross an ocean so I wouldn’t drown. You’ve never been closer than You are right now. You are Jireh, You are enough. Jireh, You are enough. And I will be content in every circumstance. You are Jireh, You are enoughElevation Worship

Maybe it wasn’t so silly. I knew what mere colds did to my body, in particular. Maybe not everyone else’s. I knew at times not to expect good, because disappointment lurked in the shadows. It was how my brain was wired. So when good came, suffering was inevitable.

But there was always something else there: God.

Would I be content? Even if…if every supposed “good thing” were taken, would He still be enough? Or would I throw a pity party because it didn’t turn out like I expected?

I have thrown many a pity party. I have lamented, cried out, and grumbled when things did not go as planned. Had little faith in the One who knows much more than I do. And while suffering still endured, because well, life…there was still joy. I still made it out OK. I still made it through. In every circumstance.

So be truly glad. There is wonderful joy ahead, even though you must endure many trials for a little while. These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold—though your faith is far more precious than mere gold. So when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world. 1 Peter 1:6-7, NLT

Truly glad. In every storm. Every trial. Every circumstance. Even the silly ones. Knowing He is there when you feel alone, and is comforting you during your pity party. He has provided before, and will do it again.

He is enough.

I do not own rights to music, lyrics or video.

Do What You Ought

Remember, it is sin to know what you ought to do and then not do it. James 4:17

We read a lot about sin when we read our Bibles. We may not even have to be church-going folks to know a lot about sin. Case in point: I didn’t grow up in a church. We went a handful of times. The Christmas candle-lighting church-going kind. I think those regular attenders would have called us “the Christmas and Easter crowd.” Yes, people like us got names. I did, however, know about God. I knew about sin. It was probably one of the most talked about things growing up. All the things we couldn’t and shouldn’t do. Adam and Eve, and that original sin that came through them. I knew of personal sin, the sins we chose, our willful acts against God. I knew that a life of sin sent you to hell.

I now attend church regularly. I pastor in a church. Because, well…it is just like God to take someone from the “Christmas and Sunday crowd,” and use them to minister to others. I also am still tempted by Satan to sin. I may at times know what to do, and be tempted to not do it.

And just like myself, you are not immune.

I know what you may be thinking: I don’t sin. I read my Bible. I attend Bible study. I go to church every Sunday and I serve. So that isn’t me.

But you do struggle with the “what I know to do, but what I do anyways.” We all do. Even the Bible reading, Bible studying, Sunday going, preacher type. Because we are human. And we all have a propensity and a bend towards sin.

Look at Paul. Paul for goodness sake. He speaks to what we all encounter in our daily walk in holy living:

What I don’t understand about myself is that I decide one way, but then I act another, doing things I absolutely despise. So if I can’t be trusted to figure out what is best for myself and then do it, it becomes obvious that God’s command is necessary. But I need something more! For if I know the law but still can’t keep it, and if the power of sin within me keeps sabotaging my best intentions, I obviously need help! I realize that I don’t have what it takes. I can will it, but I can’t do it. I decide to do good, but I don’t really do it; I decide not to do bad, but then I do it anyway. My decisions, such as they are, don’t result in actions. Something has gone wrong deep within me and gets the better of me every time. Romans 7:15-20, MSG

We sometimes decide to act in one way, but lack the self-control to simply do it. We don’t want to do that thing we said we were trying not to do, but we slip and do it again.

So yes…you have sinned. Maybe unintentionally. But you have done one thing when you should have done something else. Need some examples? Here’s some relatable ones for you in case you are stuck on robbery, murder or adultery. 

How about pure lack of self-control when it comes to maybe your speech? The Bible is clear about unwholesome talk, and it doesn’t just mean a few choice curse words. It means ill words about a believer, or anyone that God would desire that we speak of in love. We sin each time we choose to use words to tear down, instead of words to encourage or build up. We sin each time we go to our neighbor to speak ill words about a person, instead of words that are positive, edifying, and meant to glorify. We sin each time we gossip and repeat stories that we didn’t hear directly from the person about whom we are speaking. The Bible tells we ought not speak these hurtful things, and what we should do instead.

How about how we deal with our conflicts? The word is clear we should not sin in our anger (Ephesians 4:26), however, in conflict is anger our go to response? If it is, how is our behavior? Riddled with sharp words, and flailing arms. Or perhaps we never even have a conversation with the person at all, maybe we have it with everyone but. Conflict that is handled without sin at the center is handled like Jesus indicated in Matthew 18:15-20. Yet, we often do the opposite of what we know we ought.

Even yesterday…on Easter, my gracious. I had to pray through most of the service that God would rid me of the focus on anything else besides Him. Because I was just distracted. And maybe others didn’t see it, but I did…the screen turning off, the movement of people. My mind wandered to the number of things all around me that were overwhelming, and likely a tactic to take focus away from the purpose-Jesus’ victory over death.

And those simple, worldly things keep us focused on the world. Which is where Satan wants us.

And I know when I am distracted and the focus is taken off Him, other things set in. Anxiety breeds thoughts that lead directly where the devil wants me. In my own head. In my pride. On my self. Exactly where self-control flees, and sin can creep in. And if I don’t have a handle on it, I can forget what I ought, and do what I know I shouldn’t.

We all can get here. No matter how many Bible verses you read. Bible study or Sunday morning serves you attend. The devil is ready for you to shift focus, so he can grab your self-control and move you right into some sin.

Stand on guard. Keep your focus on Him, and what you ought to do. And if you shift, turn off course; no matter how small the curve-repent. And do what you ought again. And again. And again.

Be Honest with Little

“If you are faithful in little things, you will be faithful in large ones. But if you are dishonest in little things, you won’t be honest with greater responsibilities.  And if you are untrustworthy about worldly wealth, who will trust you with the true riches of heaven? And if you are not faithful with other people’s things, why should you be trusted with things of your own? No one can serve two masters. For you will hate one and love the other; you will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and be enslaved to money.” Luke 16:10-12

Do you know a shrewd manager? Kind of like the one Jesus was talking about in Luke 16? Someone who is dishonest and lacks integrity at work, and then doesn’t seem to understand the dire consequences when they finally get caught? Maybe they even appear successful way up there at the top, but their success is only appealing by the standards of the world, and was won through dishonest means.

What exactly does it look like to be dishonest and untrustworthy with worldly wealth?

Maybe it is climbing to the top of that company ladder, and stepping on anyone you can on the way up. Or owning a business, skimming money off the top, or using it to exploit others for your personal agenda. Anything God deems sinful that we may do to gain funds. Gambling. Sexual exploitation. All to acquire that material possession. That house. That car. That girl. That guy. That love. All the things we think money can buy.

Earlier this week in our kitchen, our youngest was “joshing” his sister about something that happened at school. It’s what middle school brothers do to their high school siblings. It’s a fact of life. To her, this was considered a lie. Though to us-it was simply a joke. To which she began to debate how she had NEVER, EVER told us a lie. Which, in fact…is true. She had…actually not. Aside from pranks and jokes, neither really had.

We had been clear that lying was not tolerated. Lying created a number of problems. For the person lying, and for many others involved. If it involved an action in addition, those actions often had potential consequences. Many that could lead to moral and spiritual dilemma. Integrity may come into question, and trust among others can become broken, taking a long time to repair. One small lie, often leads to bigger lies-as our need to make up for the smaller one we told becomes greater. We see no way out of the huge hole we dig from the first untruth.

We had trusted them when they had told us things, because they had been truthful with even the smallest of things. When they had something to share whether big or small, we were certain whatever came from their mouth would be the truth. Because it had been spoken so frequently prior. If the opposite had been true, we may have had doubts.

Though lying may be a small example, it plays a part in how others will deem us trustworthy and honest in relationships. Regardless of how we handle money, the ways in which we handle our words and our responsbilities to people; whether we honor our word, and keep our promises will also go a long way in whether others will find us a person of integrity and honesty or not. Do we make promises we cannot keep? Do we borrow something and never return it? Do we take something without permission, or steal and pass something off as ours? We may not be dealing with money, essentially, but we are certainly not dealing in a manner that is trustworthy.

God’s character is genuine, true, and honest. This is the character he desires we have as well, as he made us in his image, and desires we be good. If we are to be holy as he is holy, our aim should be to walk in the way that is honest and faithful to truth, and not deceitful in our dealings with others. Not lying to others, and not crooked in the way we handle our finances in an effort to come out on top. We must be people of our word, and most importantly-people of His Word. Honest, faithful, true, and trustworthy.

Think On and Do These Things

And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. Keep putting into practice all you learned and received from me—everything you heard from me and saw me doing. Then the God of peace will be with you. Philippians 4:8-9

Thoughts. Our thoughts become our voice, and often our patterns of behavior. What we think about ourself and even others, can be outwardly reflected in the way we respond with or without love.

The verses above are often referenced at times as a prescription for anxiety, as they can be; they are also a prescription for the stance we must take against those things that we may encounter or consume that are not trustworthy, honorable or worthy of praise.

Garbage in, garbage out.

First, let’s talk about our thoughts. Let’s simplify this as it applies to Paul’s instructions and our character. Our thoughts and perspectives about particular situations, especially as they apply to others. Because this verse can certainly apply here. When we encounter a person with whom we share a difference of opinion, or even someone with whom we don’t connect, don’t understand, or maybe we even have some sort of conflict with them personally, or with something they may be doing-we do a couple things. We form thoughts and opinions about their character, their actions, and their intentions. We often believe based on our thoughts, our own perspectives, our own version of events that said person may be driven by malice. May be aloof. Not like us. We have our own thoughts about their intended motives because we don’t truly support their mission. For whatever reason we have decided they should not be successful, and we look for anything but admirable qualities to prove it. And if you look for those qualities you will find them, even in the smallest, most ridiculous of things.

What would happen if we did what Paul asked us to do? If we changed those negative, fault-seeking thoughts and began to look for good? Intentionally? In people? And in situations that made us feel frustration? What if we looked for the truth about a person instead of believing whatever so and so told us about them? If we focused on the admirable accomplishments of others, and applauding them instead of sitting in our envy and jealousy tearing down those who dare to brave and step out into boldness for God? What if we talked more about things that were worthy of praise, and less about things that tear others down? Would our thoughts be fixed on Christ, and less on the flaws of others?

Next, Paul is not only speaking of our speech or the way we see people here-he tells us to put what he says into practice. Remember, I mentioned garbage in, garbage out. So that means whatever you take in, your output will be the same. So if you take in good, your actions will be good. If you practice kindness, your actions will be kind; and if you practice deception, then your actions will be the same-deceitful.

If we are filling our minds with junk. If we are consistently surrounding by the influences of evil desires, and things that turn us away from a pure and holy God, eventually our actions will begin to look like the thing that is filling our minds. This is why Paul warned us where to fix our thoughts-on what honors Him. Those things that are going to reflect Christ within you and keep you focused on Him.

The One that provides peace and can be a light to someone who will see it shining in you.

Promise of God: Never Forgotten

Can a mother forget her nursing child?
Can she feel no love for the child she has borne?
But even if that were possible,
I would not forget you! Isaiah 49:15, NLT

I often wonder what makes a person “unforgettable.”

My husband and I took a short walk down memory lane the other night. He was looking through yearbooks looking for someone in particular. A name sounded familiar, and we thought the key to the memory may be triggered by our high school photos. I flipped through the 20 plus year old photos, past the old superlative sections. Noticed the one marked “Most unforgettable.” And found two people I had…well forgotten.

So…what is it? What makes a person unforgettable? How can someone be described as “never to be forgotten?”

Some other words come to mind here. They could be described as memorable, special, remarkable, or exceptional. So a person may be hard to forget if they are kind, compassionate, caring, honest, and just real. People who are described as unforgettable are usually described as the “real deal,” and are genuine. They are highly intelligent, respect others, and humble in nature. They are also calm, and others feel a sense of peace around them.

We may know people like this. Vow we will never forget them. Yet, we still do.

We start forgetting to call. To text. To reach out. Until we just forget them altogether.

We may even feel we are these people, and then feel forgotten.

Yet, even if the calls, and the texts stop coming. No one reaches out. There is one who keeps the promise of never forgetting.

I, the Lord, made you,
and I will not forget you. Isaiah 44:21, NLT

Just like a mother knows her child’s voice. Just like she can hear the cries from a long way off, see her child from a long way off. Know and feel their pain even when they are far away. God, as His children, does not forget us. He will not forget us. Will not leave us.

We can call on Him. He will answer. We can cry to Him. He will hear them. Even when we wander, He will let us back in with open arms.

He is the one who truly never forgets.