Overcoming the Stink of Shortcomings

While it’s somewhat gross to consider, shortcomings kind of remind me of a dirty diaper.  Both stink.  Both appear nasty. Both are things we can’t wait to discard. And, both are things we would rather pretend don’t exist, than have to address. Just today, I got a little bit too agitated with my 3-year old son for repeated disobedience.  But, this is what being three is all about, right?  They disobey – and then you teach them.  Yet, in this situation, I was fixated on his mess, I was aggravated by his actions and I was annoyed by his faults. I wanted to deny my impatience and sharp words that induced his tear-ridden tantrum. But, no one is there to defend a 3-year old.  God loves my son.  And, he deserves more than a mom who takes advantage of him. So, I stepped back to take a look at my impatience.  It stunk far greater than his little acts of disobedience. If I want to teach love, I can’t do it by being impatient.  I can’t do it without a real hard look at myself. I can’t do it if I won’t surrender my sinful ways and let God’s grace take over. Because much like those dirty diapers, faults will show up when we least expect them  – and when we are least prepared.  They come, they catch us off guard and they can make things really messy – they can ruin relationships. Dealing with faults can be so hard. We may want to address them, but it can feel like giving a dirty diaper a hug, because we have to...

Dealing With Betrayal P. II

Would you be willing to die for your faith? I suspect this is a question we’ve all asked ourselves at one point or another, assuming it will always remain hypothetical. And yet, each day, Christ asks us this very question. You may not face an executioner, but death must come, daily, for unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it abides alone, but if it dies, it bears much fruit (John 12:24), and if we truly want to follow Christ, we must be willing to pick up our cross daily and follow Him (Luke 9:23). Which kernel of wheat does your life most often represent? What cross has Christ asked you to carry? Will you surrender and obey? Last month, when discussing biblical ways of dealing with betrayal, we looked at the situation from a “what’s in it for me” standpoint. Let’s be honest, that’s most often our first thought or interpretation. That comes from being born with a strong fleshly or selfish nature, one that, according to Scripture, is constantly at war with the things of God. Not to imply that introspection is wrong or unbiblical. In fact, a great deal of the Bible points out personal benefits for following God’s will. But, our desire to please or benefit self must never override our desire to please God and further the Gospel. I suspect, most often, we can do both simultaneously as God is loving and gracious and has a way of blessing us when we walk in obedience. But even so, let us never forget, at every moment, there is a much bigger battle...

A Dream Realized

I knew when my son asked his father to marry another woman there was a problem. He had it all figured out. “Dad, could you please take a second wife? I know it’s okay because Jacob in the Bible had two wives, Rachel and Leah, and God knew all about it. But when you pick one this time, could you make sure she likes dogs?” You guessed it. My child wanted a pet, but I don’t like dogs. I don’t mind the occasional Puppy Chow commercial with tiny canine critters, and back in the day I did have the coveted Trapper Keeper with a picture of puppies on the cover. But the problem I have with all pets (Let’s be honest, I don’t like cats, either.) is that they shed hair, are smelly, and they poop in inopportune places. My husband and children, on the other hand, love dogs dearly. I stood firm at my son’s wishes for my husband to take another woman. I even endured when he wished he could have epilepsy after a friend received a seizure response dog. When both my son and daughter wrote persuasive pieces at school about how our family should have a furry four-legged friend, I waved them away with a “Nice try.” “Maybe some day,” I’d tell them with honestly no intentions of relenting. Until some day came. Some day was the day a good friend died at the early age of forty-four. I realized I wasn’t guaranteed tomorrow, so I’d better live a full life now. And that full life meant helping make my children’s dream come true. Now...

Don’t Take the Bait

I took the bait and ran with it. But all I ended up with was a hole in my mouth. I’m not a fisherwoman – not by any stretch of the imagination. The thought of poking a hook through the body of a dark and dirty wiggle-worm makes me gag a little. But I do know this. Fisherpeople use different types of bait to catch different types of fish. They can use worms, crickets, minnows, neon rubbery bug looking things and balled up hotdog buns depending on what they want to hook. Some of you probably think, “I know where she is going with this. It’s the whole fishers of men devotional.” Wrong. Jesus did use fishing in a lot of illustrations. “Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will send you out to fish for people.” 
Matthew 4:19 NIV His audience could relate to fish tales. As Christ followers, we usually think of ourselves as doing the fishing. But I want to talk about when the pole is in the other hand – the hand of the non-believer. Just as hard as we work to share the love of Christ, there are those who would love to do nothing more than to throw mud on God. You don’t believe me? Do an Internet search about “What atheists think of Christians.” But spend some time in prayer first. You won’t like what you find. Sadly though, Satan doesn’t even need us to Google it anymore. All we have to do is be in the right place at the right time and take the bait. The number one fishing hole...

When You Can’t Place the Voice on the Other End of the Line

“Hey, its’ me…” I paused after playing my answering machine message to listen closely. The voice on the other end sounded familiar, but I couldn’t quite put my finger on which of my friends was “me”. Preoccupied with the mail, I hadn’t focused on the message the first time. So, I replayed the message, and listened carefully to the mystery caller. “…I was just checking in with you. I have something to tell you, but I wanted to tell you in person. So, call me. I hope y’all are doing well. We are headed out for a while, but you can call me tonight. Bye.” Frozen in my spot, I stared at the blinking “1” on the machine alerting me to the message. Who was that? I racked my brain, berating myself for getting old. I know that voice. Who is that? Grabbing the phone to scroll through my caller id, I started worrying about the caller’s tone. She sounded like the something she needed to tell me was bad – like she was reluctant to say it. I found the number that matched the time of the message and didn’t recognize the digits. Knowing I didn’t know all my friends’ cell phones by heart, I hit redial. “Hello?” She answered immediately. “Hey, it’s Carol.” Still not recognizing the voice, I hoped she would reveal her identity. “Umm…” she paused. I knew it was coming. Some horrible news like – she saw me dig my underwear out in church and was appalled or she heard a group of people laughing as I walked past wearing cowboy boots with my...

Week Six: What Are Your Wells?

If you are receiving today’s post in your inbox, please visit Internet Cafe Devotions to view this week’s Bible Study Counter video. We’re launching into Week Six with a commitment to look at the wells upon which we most consistently rely. Let’s consider the Samaritan woman Jesus met at the well.    Truth rattles us, because it changes us. God doesn’t change, and His truth doesn’t change, but it changes everything and everyone it touches. God’s truth is life’s change-agent. Are you drawing from something you believe will sustain you, while making Jesus a last – or even secondary – resort? Is Jesus your well? Be still, and know that I am God. Psalm 46:10, ESV   To learn more about the Bible Study Counter and Pure Emotion study, click here. There’s still time to get started. Register and purchase your book. Or, if you’d rather not wait to have a book shipped to you, purchase Pure Emotion for Kindle or Nook. You can easily makes notes in your ebook or designate a small journal for making notes, writing questions, and journaling answers. Once you’ve registered, you should receive emails from biblestudycounter@internetcafedevotions.com on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays in addition to the Sunday posts on the Bible Study Counter (Sunday emails come straight from Internet Cafe Devotions to all ICD subscribers). Throughout the week, you can always visit the most recent post at the Bible Study Counter to comment, discuss, ask questions and encourage others. (If you have problems receiving the emails, visit Susan’s Facebook page, where you’ll find links to all posts and emails.) Now it’s time to study God’s...

Distracted

“Shut the door: we’re not air conditioning the outside!” It’s typical jargon around here when the thermometer rises above the 90-degree mark. Just enough time and I’m certain that’s how “he” got in. The door is never left wide open mind you, it’s just not shut “all the way.” The screen door gaps leave room, just enough room,  for him to find a way in. His mission? To annoy the stew out of the humans that dwell here. He’s a fly, all two inches of him. He’s an incessant fly that gravitates to the very fruit I’m washing or the plate I’m preparing. The very fly that finds the rested foot or still arm. My husband is the resident swatter. He goes after that fly as if it were Goliath while I tend to take the opposite approach. I ignore him until one day I find him on the floor dead. Eventually the air inside or lack of sustainable food leads to his eventual demise, but in any event that fly is a distraction to all who live here in the process. Distractions. They are all around us, even in the form of flies, but distractions are precisely what the enemy would use to turn our eyes off Jesus. We know it. We’ve heard the sermons, but when was the last time you made a list of the distractions in your life? I was recently challenged to do this and I came to the conclusion that EVERYTHING in my life is in one way or another a distraction that the enemy can use to throw me off course. I...