My mom has always been an incredibly hardworking handy-woman. I remember her taking on many daunting household projects with great fervor and determination when I was a child:
Turning the brown cabinets and trim to white, knocking a hole in the wall to “open up” the feel of the kitchen and living room areas—but most memorable to me: re-wallpapering the bathrooms.
The home I grew up in was a 1970’s gem, complete with a mirrored wall I hardly remember (I believe she took that out, too), so when my mom set out to update the bathroom walls she had no idea what was in store.
I was at home with the chicken pox when most of it went down. Bits of soggy paper covered the floor as she worked away at layers and layers of once-trendy décor.
After hours and days of spraying, scraping, spraying and scraping-- the walls were clean and ready to be re-covered with a bright and cheery, yellow, floral print.
Lately I realize that my heart is much like those bathroom walls. The more time I spend in God’s Word, I realize that years of growing up in church with only a partial understanding of God’s grace has sealed a metaphorical “wallpaper” of religion to the dry surface of my heart.
Layer upon layer, upon layer.
Just when I think I’ve scraped away every last stubborn bit, I come to a greater understanding of God’s love and grace, leaving me faced with another unsightly layer I must bring down.
When my sin makes me ashamed to go to God;
When I feel unlovable and unworthy because of something I have or have not done;
When I am tired and worn-out from my “good works;”
When I am tempted to think I “have it all together;”
When I realize that some small part of me still believes that it is by some merit or talent or special quality or feat of faith that has earned my salvation.
These are some ugly layers— layers that need to come down so that God can re-paint my soul with the bright, cheery hue of His unending love and extravagant grace.
How do we get them down? We continue to scrape away with the truth of God’s Word.
Hebrews 4:12 says, “For the Word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.”
I find that the New Testament words of Paul contain the most power to scour away at the stubborn, hidden layers…
“For it is by grace you have been saved, and not by works-- lest any man should boast…” (Eph. 2:8)
“…we rely on what Christ Jesus has done for us. We put no confidence in human effort…” (Phil 3:3)
Maybe you’re like me, and you grew up in the church, and you are beginning to realize you have layers and layers of “religious” beliefs that hinder the beauty of the Gospel of grace from going up in your life.
We must be diligent to recognize these false beliefs and peel away at the musty, discolored, and outdated paper of religion. Get in His Word and scrape away with the truth...
And watch Him re-cover the walls of your heart with a love story that is too beautiful for words.
Word of the day:
“With joy you will drink deeply from the fountain of salvation!” Isaiah 12:3
God, Sometimes I am tempted to think that my good works will earn right-standing with you. Other times I feel like I have messed up too greatly to be forgiven. Help me to recognize these layers of religion on my heart and peel them down with the power of your truth. Help me to put no confidence in my effort, but to fully rest in Christ’s work on my behalf. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Author: Katie Gibson
I have always admired the families on television shows that have breakfast together, sitting around the kitchen table, fully dressed and ready for life. The perfect children always smile brightly and kiss their perfect parents goodbye before heading to school for the day.
My mornings fall somewhere in between a bad remake of Wrestlemania and a horrible depiction a history channel war movie.
Undoubtedly the debate always begins with my daughter’s clothes that she picked out the night before but would change twice that morning, and then lead into a full fledge argument about her hair.
Then we part for the day- her, having cried at least once; and I, stomping out the door, pouting and angry.
Recently my husband “helped” me to see the circumstance for what it clearly was: He told me that Mia was acting appropriately for her age. But I… was… not.
At the time I hated to admit it, but He was right.
If I am truthful sometimes my reactions look pretty close to those of an unbeliever. If I am truthful, my reactions are natural, instead of supernatural.
My reaction is only a symptom of a deeper spiritual problem. As a mature Christian, I should be slow to anger and slow to speak; and as her parent, I should be modeling Jesus before her, but there are days when I fail miserably at both. I allow situations to dictate my emotional response because I am not consistently planted in Christ.
Too frequently my frustrations, the obstacles, and the disappointments become missed opportunities to show Jesus to my family.
I don’t believe I am alone in this.
Friends, we must begin to plant ourselves in good soil full of nutrients and continue to water ourselves with the living water, so God will cause the fruit of the Spirit to grow in us abundantly.
Instead of allowing our emotions to dictate the outcome of situations, let’s look to the Holy Spirit to instruct us how to respond in those difficult moments. If we cultivate the environment that is healthy for growth, we will have the patience and self-control that will supersede any outburst, dry any tears and calm any tantrum.
Together let’s acknowledge our struggle with maintaining composure during difficult moments. But beyond that let’s take our struggle to the Lord-- planting ourselves just a little deeper into Him so that our responses can be seized opportunities to point others to Christ.
Word of the Day:
"So I say, let the Holy Spirit guide your lives. Then you won't be doing what your sinful nature craves." Galatians 5:16
Lord, I admit that I am in desperate need of your presence. When I get caught up in the moment, and I forget that I am planted in you, please remind me of your grace, which abounds at the foot of the cross. Please remind me, Lord, of the peace that lives in me in the person of the Holy Spirit and the supernatural power that He contains, in Jesus’ name, Amen.
Author: Kandice Adams
My daughter turned a year old this past fall, and we’ve officially entered that wonderful season known as “toddlerhood.”
“Don’t lick the toilet!”
“Don’t eat the Legos!"
“Don’t climb the dishwasher!"
“Don’t touch the heater!"
My reasonable instructions seem like ridiculous commands to a toddler.
She squeals and drops to the floor. Why wouldn’t mommy want me doing this very fun thing??
My days are spent keeping her from the edge of death, illness and pain, but she doesn’t know that… yet.
You can’t reason with toddlers in case you haven’t noticed. These tiny, headstrong… precious beings simply do not know and cannot understand that you have their best interest, future and safety in mind.
As Mom, I want to protect all three of my little ones from as much harm and pain as possible because of my indescribable love for them. So, I give them “do’s” and “do-not-do’s” and teach them obedience out of trust and respect.
I get frustrated when they choose to disobey despite my good intentions.
I wonder if God ever gets frustrated with me?
In the words of my pastor, I used to believe God was a “cosmic kill-joy,” up there with a list of do-not-do’s, aimed to simply keep me in line. So, after 13 years of “walking the line,” I did what most other Christian young adults do when they leave home--Rebel. In hindsight, so many of my choices caused unnecessary pain and frustration.
If you read through the Old Testament, you will find pages and pages and pages of law and instructions-- many of those brought back up in the New Testament-- taught by Jesus, Paul, and others.
Don't get drunk with wine.
Don’t hold a grudge.
Don’t let your mind or eyes linger lustfully.
Observe a day of rest.
It’s tempting to see these directions as suggestions.
Overall, the law proved that man’s futile efforts wouldn’t be enough to save themselves-- it would take a Savior. But through it all God had our best interest in mind. He can see down the road, through all of the twists and turns, when we can’t.
He knows that...
A few too many drinks can lead to undesirable behavior.
Unforgiveness only hurts you.
A desirous look can turn into an office romance.
Trying to “keep up with the Jones’s” creates straining debt.
Ignoring the body’s need for rest will lead to burn-out.
In our limited human minds, we feel as though God is trying to take away our fun. It’s so much easier to go along with the tidal wave of culture.
But God calls us to trust Him, his wisdom and his Sovereignty.
What commands have you been ignoring or avoiding? In what areas have you been tempted to write off God as a “cosmic kill-joy,” going your own way instead?
I know a major challenge for me is in the area of rest. By admission, I am a hard-working, OCD, stress-prone individual. I’ve always made a habit of excusing my inability to relax and take a few moments, a few hours, or a few days to rest completely.
Maybe yours is staying angry with that one person. You have reason after reason why you can’t forgive him or her, but what you don’t understand is that they’ve probably already moved on, and now you’re the only one living offended and angry for no good reason!
Whatever your situation, know that God has had your best interest at heart all along.
Just as I tell my precious daughter “Don’t lick the toilet!” to protect her from yuck she doesn’t yet understand-- so is God’s intention with us.
What has God asked you to do that you are holding back from today? Trust in His love, go against what your flesh or culture is saying-- heed His voice and experience His best!
Word of the Day:
“Serve only the Lord your God and fear Him alone. Obey His commands, listen to His voice, and cling to Him.” Deuteronomy 13:4
Lord, Thank you that you always have my best interest in mind, and you will always show me the right paths to take through your voice and your Word. Forgive me for not always trusting your ways. Help me to hear and obey in all my ways. In Your Name, Amen.
Author: Katie Gibson
“Is that tearing down, mom?”
My oldest asked from the backseat of the car and quickly brought me out of my daze. “Huh?” confused by his question. “When someone says “stupid or poop or something not nice… Is that tearing down?”
I was piecing it together now from a conversation we had earlier that week.. I had shared Ephesians 4:29 with my boy. “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.”
We were having one of those weeks where the “building up” words were hard to come by yet the “tearing down” words seemed to multiply.
And the hard truth was, I needed to be reminded of this verse as much (if not more) than my five year old. And while explaining the power of his words, whether good or bad, conviction fell heavy on me.
Because, if I’m honest, I often speak without thinking. We call this “not using your filter” in my house. When I’m tired and frustrated with my kids, the words that come out of my mouth are not commonly “useful for building up”. When I’m with a friend and we are talking about another mom and her struggles when she’s not present to defend herself, I’m most certainly not using my words to benefit those who listen. When I’m giving my husband the silent treatment or the condescending tone, I have neglected to build him up according to his needs.
Webster’s dictionary defines unwholesome like this: detrimental to physical, mental or moral well-being, unhealthy.
Did you realize your words literally have the power to make an environment or person sick? I’m not talking about physically sick. I’m saying our words have the power to poison a conversation.
The good news is that we also have the power to use our words constructively, for the good of those who listen.
The Bible says in Luke 6:45, “A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.”
The mouth speaks what the heart is full of… That part just about always makes me cringe. Because I know what my mouth speaks a lot of times and that is not what I want my heart to be full of! My harsh and unkind words are merely a symptom of the root disease in my heart. I have to allow Jesus access to my heart and ask Him to forgive me and purify my heart if I want to change from the inside out.
But the same is true for the reverse: If good is stored in a man’s heart, guess what is going to come out? Good things! Words that are useful for building up and not for tearing down.
How do I make sure good is in my heart? God says, “I have hidden your Word in my heart that I might not sin against you.” Psalm 119:11
The key to ensuring our words are uplifting and healthy instead of unwholesome is this: we fill our minds and hearts with God’s word. With God’s Word on our tongues, we can be sure our conversation will benefit those who listen.
“Is that tearing down?” Let’s ask ourselves this question as we go about our day. If our answer is yes, let’s ask Jesus to enable us to build others up instead.
As we desire to be women who build others up according to their needs, so let’s be women who are full of God’s words; who have healthy hearts and therefore healthy conversations.
Word of the Day:
“A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.” Luke 6:45
Jesus, search my heart now, Lord. I desire to not let any unwholesome talk escape my lips today. Help me to guard my tongue and filter my words. May I honor you with my conversation by hiding your Word in my heart. Enable me to encourage those I come in contact with today. Thank you Jesus.
Author: Emily Goss
My six-year-old son is creative and smart; serious, but fun; and a typical first-born… bossy.
While I often have to remind him to tame his “overbearing personality," today I am here to tell you… BE BOSSY.
Before you start judging me, let me explain.
I’m realizing I have a bad habit. Maybe a few. Okay, many.
But the one that wreaks havoc on my life more than any other is the whirlwind of whining that strikes when life's circumstances become less than enjoyable.
It happens like this:
I’m having a bad day with the kids, my husband has a crazy day at work and has to stay late, then I accidentally “ruin" dinner.
Or: I discover a blaring mistake on the budget, my car gets a flat tire, then my son loses one of his shoes.
Woe is me.
Woe is my life.
Why are all these bad things happening to me?
Have you experienced this?
It seems like I make one mis-step, and I’m flying down the black hole of negativity.
Now, this is where being bossy comes into play...
Our “soul" is made up of three things: Our mind, our will and our emotions.
If you’re like me, my soul is too-often jerked around by the events of the day or actions of others (and hormones-- yes, those). But God never meant for our thoughts, feelings and actions to be contingent on what we see— we have a choice… we can boss our soul around and tell it how to act.
I have an adorable magnet on my fridge that holds an incredible truth:
"Bless the Lord oh my soul… and forget not all His blessings!" (paraphrasing Psalm 103:2).
This precious gift from a friend is a continual reminder for me: Despite my circumstances-- God is good, and He deserves my praise.
It’s not unusual to get caught up in the day-to-day. So easy to get down-and-out with dishes piled high and energy running low. But we need to start recognizing when our foot steps toward that slippery slope and Get Bossy: “No! Bless the Lord, soul!"
Why? May I never forget the good things He does for me:
He forgives all my sins and heals all my diseases. He redeems me from death and crowns me with love and tender mercies. He fills my life with good things. (vs. 3-5)
Oh yeah, that’s why. And here I was getting all upset over burned bread…
Meanwhile I’m forgiven, healed, redeemed, loved— and incredibly, incredibly blessed.
Really puts things into perspective, huh? We have been given too much to be thankful so little. And despite our external circumstances-- God is good, and He deserves our praise.
My challenge to you today is to get bossy:
1- Be the boss of your mind
"Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things." Colossians 3:2
2- Be the boss of your will
"I will praise the Lord at all times. I will constantly speak his praises." Psalm 34:1
3- Be the boss of your emotions
"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control." Colossians 5:22-23
When less-than-ideal circumstances get thrown into your court, be the boss! When negative thoughts start creeping into your mind, get indignant. Corner your soul with this simple command: "Bless the Lord! May I never forget…” and cause your mind, will and emotions to line up with God’s Word today.
"Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits." Psalm 103:2
God, Thank you for all the good things you do for me-- forgiving my sins, healing me, redeeming me, loving me and filling my life with good things. Forgive me for all the times I have gotten caught up in what I see and feel and then failed to recognize your goodness. Help me to be the boss of my mind, will and emotions today-- causing them to line up with the truth of your Word. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Author: Katie Gibson