Have you ever been in the presence of an over-stimulated, exhausted little urchin? They’re like wind-up toys with no off switch. And the longer they’re allowed to crank, the faster they spin, ‘til terror, tantrums, and tears erupt.
And I’m like that too. How about you?
The moment my feet hit the floor in the morning I cruise at ninety to ninety-five MPH, ‘til I surrender to exhaustion around midnight. Multiple days of over-booked running and I’m likely to end up in tears or over-reacting to everything that ruffles my expectations, just like that irritable, tuckered-out child.
A few weeks ago, during Bible study in Nehemiah and Malachi, the words leaped off the page, bold-printed on my brain, and convicted my heart.
Nehemiah threw a wall-eyed fit at the nobles of Judah, saying: “What is this evil thing you are doing, by profaning the Sabbath day? Did not your fathers do the same, so that our God brought on us and on this city all this trouble? Yet, you are adding to the wrath on Israel by profaning the Sabbath” (Nehemiah 12:17-18 NAS). He even grabbed some of the men by their beards and yanked out strands of their hair.
And God tells the people through Malachi: “Oh that there were one among you who would shut the gates, that you might not uselessly kindle fire on My altar. I am not pleased with you, says the Lord of hosts, nor will I accept an offering from you” (Malachi 1:10 NAS).
Yikes! What had these folks done to upset God so much He wanted to shut the gates and stop the sacrifices?
The year was somewhere around 436 B.C. The people of Judah had completed their seventy year exile in Babylon, returned to Israel, built a new temple, and rebuilt the wall around Jerusalem under the direction of Nehemiah. They pledged obedience to God and signed a contract. The city was on the way to restoration, but Nehemiah had to leave for a time and guess what? Yep, the folks reverted to their old ways, just like their fathers had done.
In Judah the Sabbath had become like any other day—shopping, trading, and selling inside the gates—everything but rest and worship.
From the beginning chapters of Genesis, God rested on the Sabbath day. The seasons were created to give the earth rest in the winter and resurrection in the Spring. Every seven years they were also to allow the land to lay fallow, giving the land a Sabbath rest. And He instructed His people to keep this eternal statute forever.
Now that wasn’t the only statute the people refused to obey, but let’s stay focused on this commandment today.
I’m old enough to remember when stores closed on Sunday so we all could worship God. America stopped to thank God for His blessings and enjoyed a day of rest. Sunday afternoon was given to naps and reflection. A time for God. A special day. And a time for family.
In my early adult years there were Sunday blue laws still in affect in many Southern towns. But as Americans grew more prosperous and spent more money, merchants realized they could have the blue laws overturned, keep the stores open, and make more money. And the folks agreed—‘cause they made money too.
The more prosperous Americans became, the less we needed God. ‘Til today, in most neighborhoods across this land God has blessed, few of our neighbors even think about, much less attend church to honor God with thanksgiving and offerings.
But what about Christians? You and me? Do we honor God on the Sabbath? Or are we kindling useless fire on God’s altars? Do we meditate on God’s Word during the week so we can enter His rest on Sunday?
Or is Sunday catch-up day? Another day to worry? Often busier than the rest of the week. Or are we just grateful to have an air-conditioned place with soft pews to collapse and plan next week or shift our minds into neutral for an hour?
What kind of sacrifice are we bringing to God’s altar? Pure or blemished?
Do we honor God in the Sanctuary? Or do we profane His house and His name?
Is Sunday a day of restoration for you, or another day crammed full of activities that leave you burned-out and used up like those cranky children we talked about?
Are Malachi’s words pertinent to the Church in 2014?
We are called to worship the Lord, folks. Not be entertained. We are called to make disciples. Not serve as a social club. We are called to worship and praise God the Father and His Son, Jesus Christ. Not the pastor, nor a building, and certainly not the music minister or ourselves.
Looking for love in too many places. And some of us never find love because we’re looking in all the wrong places.
Love isn’t glitz and glamour. Love isn’t found in things, people, or the backseat of a car. Nor on the beaches of the world at spring break. Love isn’t a physical act. No, that’s hormones. And those feelings change as often as the weather in Texas.
Divorce rates in and out of the church confirm we’ve all believed the lie. We’ve all rebelled against God’s Word and Satan sits on the sidelines thumbing his nose at God while over fifty-four million babies have been sucked from the womb into abortionists’ sinks.
Love is Jesus.
The tragedy is, we don’t have the ability to love without Him.
Scripture tells us: “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; who can know it?” (Jeremiah 17:9 NKJ) And instructs, “For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies. These are the things which defile a man…” (Matthew 15:19 NKJ).
Yes, the thoughts of our minds originate in our hearts. And our hearts are diseased from the beginning. We need a transplant. And Jesus is the only Physician on call. No heart, not yours nor mine, is beyond the Father’s mercy and grace to forgive. Jesus died for our sins—past, present and future.
Life-changing choice begins when we lay it all on the table. Sacrifice all. Change all. Give up all of ones self for Jesus, because He is love.
But that means change, and we don’t like the pain of change. And that’s the dilemma.
We don’t comprehend there’s only one place real love abides.
It’s more fun, in the beginning, to live life on the playground. Riding the thrill rides, pretending to be happy, but our souls sob for true love.
The pristine beaches of Pensacola, this week were the perfect example of this evil delusion. Thousands of students invaded the sandy beaches, committing in broad daylight unspeakable acts of lewd, drunken, lust filled behaviors, bringing shame upon themselves, their families, and this nation. Actions I would not begin to describe here. If you watched Fox News you saw the account.
Yet these young people were too consumed with vile amusement and alcohol to understand the impact of their choices. Their mouths hurled vulgar disrespect toward their parents and their own bodies. And their images will be forever recorded on social media.
And their parents footed the bill.
Yes, this rebellion began in the garden, long ago. But the same act is repeated every day in the majority of households throughout our land by parents refusing to parent. Refusing to follow God’s guidelines for health, happiness, and holiness. Refusing to remember their child has only one mother and father—the child doesn’t need another friend.
Lyin’ in bed on Sunday morning, mom and dad, you hear the voice inside saying: “Sunday is my only day to sleep. I’m tired and I need rest. I’ll take the kids to church next week. But next week never comes.
Because it’s easier to listen to the alluring images of our illusions than to get excited about getting up, showering, dressing, and going to listen to the choir and the preacher at the local church.
So we roll over and go back to sleep. Unaware we’ve just missed the intersection leading to light, life, and love. And Truth.
We crawl out of bed an hour or two later, still tired and irritable, to face mountains of dirty laundry, whiny children or hormonal teens, and a husband more frustrated than we are. And another day of turmoil and chaos begins—just like yesterday, but ratcheted up a notch.
And we’re tired because we’ve vicariously tried to escape. Seeking love in the latest block-buster movie, on evening soap operas, or indecent sit-coms that proclaim immorality and abomination and have no business in the home. Entertainment that day after day teaches children and teens, luring them into the deceptive trap that played out on the Florida beaches this week.
Unaware a battle rages for our families and our lives. A battle between love and hate. Between God and Satan.
Satan has thrown off the disguises he’s worn for centuries and launched a frontal attack on God, marriage, the family, the Bible, and Christians. The world is in a free fall and this roaring lion roams the earth seeking souls to devour. And you and your family are on his menu.
And we still have no appetite for the answer. And our children have no conception of sin or the fact their sins offend a holy and righteous God. And they don’t understand God calls them to be holy. They don’t believe those who reject Jesus will spend eternity in a real place called hell—separated from God and the love of a Savior who died so they don’t have to. Because we didn’t teach them.
But you can’t teach what you don’t know.
While there’s time, because Jesus is coming soon, please pick up your Bible, turn to the Book of John and begin reading the exciting news of Jesus’ love. And Sunday, when the alarm goes off, determine beforehand to get up and go to the nearest gathering place of love—your local church. No, those who attend aren’t perfect, but God is there and He’s still working on all of us.
If you come seeking Jesus, He will write His love story in your heart, in your family, and for your future.
I know, because He did that in my life one Sunday in January of 1989.
“Now consider this, you who forget God, lest I tear you in pieces, and there be none to deliver. Whoever offers praise glorifies Me. And to him who orders his conduct aright I will show the salvation of God” (Psalm 50:22-23 NKJ).
“Well, I found him.” My husband left the house an hour before swallowed in aggravation. Now his eyes sparked a twinkle and a slight smile tickled the corners of his lips.
I look behind him. “Where?”
A grin captured his face. “Oh no. First you’ve got to promise you won’t be upset.”
Too late. With that statement I’m upset. “Why didn’t you bring him home? Is he all right??”
“Come on, I’ll show you—after you promise.” He gave my hand a squeeze. “Promise?”
“Yes. I promise. But hurry up. We’re late.”
“Where are we going? And where is Michael?” Every step ratcheted my angst.
“Shhhh.” Husband stepped carefully and put finger to his lips. “Be quiet. We’re almost there.”
We followed the dirt trail another few minutes before I heard shouts, giggles, and the KERSPLAT of filthy bayou water, punctuated by objects larger than a small rock dancing across this muddy excuse for a river.
Stifling a chuckle, this man I married pointed proud toward the boys.
Eyes blazing and hands on hips, I became Sergeant Mom. “What are you—”
“Honey, they’re just being boys. Let ‘em be. So what if we’re late?”
Stepping closer, I saw my son grab hold of a gnarled old rope and swing from an overhanging tree branch. He turned lose and dropped into this yucky swimming hole, wiggling and shouting ‘til he plunged into the brown sludge.
My first impulse was to drag him kicking and screaming home. But bless his heart, husband grabbed my hand and pulled me away.
Two days later son woke up with a dreadful earache. A trip to the doctor confirmed an ear infection. Hmmm. Wonder how he contracted that?
Dinner that evening was not a pleasant family gathering. And future swims in the bayou were outlawed by Sergeant Mom. Father sat quiet, but I didn’t miss the wink and smile exchange between those two culprits.
From this side of problem, I wondered if those brief moments of fun were worth the pain suffered.
Life can be like that. Surrounded by dirty swimming holes. Puddles of mud luring us to jump in, stomp around, and have a good time.
Murky pools of gossip disguised as prayer requests. Roasting God’s anointed ones over Sunday lunch. Binges of toxic foods and alcohol consumption that leave harmful effects long after they are consumed. Secret addictions we’d die if anyone knew. Pornography. Adultery. Anger. Unforgiveness. Covetousness. The list is endless. And all are prevalent within the church. There’s sin in the camp, folks.
Yep, we all surrender to quick dips in puddles of sin. Then we hop out, soap up, and rinse off. Thinking we’re squeaky clean—no one will ever know. But sin’s nasty germs tuck themselves in dark corners of our hearts and minds. Places no one but me, you, and God can see. Left to thrive, they multiply and manifest themselves physically, mentally, and emotionally.
God calls us to holiness.
I know I struggle with a critical spirit and with exchanging the important for the urgent. Before my eyelids open in the morning my brain is already racing through the days schedule. My feet hit the floor, and if I don’t stop and take “…every thought captive to the obedience of Christ” (II Corinthians 10:5 NAS), I end up leaving my Lord Jesus in the dust of my self-created turmoil. Pride in my ways, my thoughts, my plans.
And BTW, the sin of pride is on God’s top seven hate list. (Proverbs 6:16-19 NKJ) Have I overcome all my dirty ponds? Oh my, no. I’m better than I used to be, but not as good as God’s going to make me when all my mud puddles have been conquered.
Yes, we are saved eternally from the penalty of sin, but we must daily wash with the soap and water of the Word. We must take time, every day, to sit before the Lord and listen. We must praise and worship Him for who He is and for what He’s done. Only then can The Holy Spirit produce eternal fruit in our lives.
What puddle of mud whispers your name? Please share with us your struggles and successes as confirmation and encouragement to other readers that Jesus never leaves or forsakes us—even when we choose to dive into bayous of sin. “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (I John 1:9 NAS).
“Oh give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; for His mercy endures forever” (Psalm 136 NKJ).
A beautiful lady appearing on the cooking channel this week made a scrumptious looking orange pudding cake and I thought that looks yummy. I can make that recipe.
So, last evening I gathered the ingredients and combined them, step-by-step. I placed the ramekins in a baking dish and filled the container with water for their thirty minute beauty-bath.
Fifteen minutes into the cooking process I turned around and, holy-moley, hisses of steam gushed out the seams in the oven door, followed by an explosion, and the sound of shattering, breaking glass.
I yanked open the door and gawked at a baking dish in a zillion pieces on the racks, falling into the sizzling water filling the bottom of my oven. A fine layer of glass slivers lay scattered across the top of the partially baked cakes.
Slamming the door shut I reached for the cancel switch, punched it, and stood cemented to the floor. Shocked. Conferring with myself I asked, What happened? What should I do? And answered, Can’t do anything ‘til the temperature cools.
Oh my beautiful cakes. What a waste. What a mess.
I cleaned up the fragments, slivers and pieces of glass after dinner and thought how much worse it could have been. The dish could have held a grits, eggs, and cheese—not just water.
Thank you, Lord.
This morning I described the accident to a friend and she asked, “Did you put hot or cool water in the dish?”
“Why, I put boiling water in the dish. Aren’t you supposed to?”
“Fifteen minutes into the process?” I asked.
I’m so thankful God doesn’t plunge us into boiling water to transform us into what He intends us to become. However, the moment we come to Jesus, confessing, repenting, and trusting Him to save us and wash us clean from the guilt of sin, the water bath of our sanctification begins.
Day by day—moment by moment, God controls the temperature of the conforming process, just like the silversmith purifying silver.
The smith heats the silver warmer and warmer, little by little, skimming the dross as it separates and floats to the top. Always controlling the heat. Not too hot, nor too cold. Watching as the impurities come to the surface, he scoops them out of the pot. Over and over this process is repeated until the silversmith can gaze into the pot and see his reflection in the purified silver.
Just like Jesus does with each one of us.
Does the refining process at times seem unbearable? Oh yes. And the whirlwinds of life tragic? Certainly. But God has promised He will never leave us or forsake us and “God causes all things together for good to those that love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son…” (Romans 8:28-29 NAS). And all includes even the bad stuff.
I’m not a quick-study and sometimes I don’t listen or follow directions. As evidenced by the mess in my oven last night. But my Father in Heaven is merciful and patient. Scripture tells me, “The Lord’s lovingkindnesses indeed never cease, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is Thy faithfulness” (Lamentations 3:22-23 NAS).
He shapes and molds my character everyday, changing me into the image of His Son. But I often don’t learn ‘til He turns up the heat, allowing painful situations to surface, sending me running back to my Savior and Lord—Jesus Christ.
Have explosions of disobedience and rebellion left shattered slivers of sin’s fall-out scattered over your not-done-yet image in the mirror? Please don’t despair, God’s grace, mercy, and love is extended to you this day.
By the confession of your mouth and repentance of your heart, allow the water-bath of His Word and the fire of trials to bring the dross to surface. He gathers the sins of His own people, casting them behind His back—into the depths of the sea. Never to be remembered again.
A scream, like only a teenaged girl can vocalize, sliced the stillness of the afternoon. I raced toward the bedroom where her petulant voice echoed, “MO—THER!”
Daughter stood in the doorway of her closet swatting, scratching, and stripping off clothes. “Ants!” she shouted and smacked her hands up and down her face, neck, and body. “Everywhere. In my closet. In my clothes. Do something!”
“The kitchen, under the sink.” I motioned to the horrified girlfriend plastered against the opposite wall, “Get my rubber gloves and a plastic bag.”
I opened the plastic bag she offered at arms-length and stuffed shoes, socks, shirts, and an assortment of objects attempting to find out where the nasty creatures were coming from. And then, there it was. Laying on the bottom of her junky closet floor, underneath a hubble of rubble—HER GYM BAG.
“But Mom—” Her face colored sorry.
I glared first at her, then at the angry ants. Pulling open the bag I found they had built an ant condominium around her left-over candy bars, crackers, and fruit. For how long? Who knows?
“Open the window and push out the screen,” I ordered and heaved the ants, rotted fruit, and gym bag out the window. “Get the bug spray, the vacuum, and anything else you need to clean up this pigsty and don’t you ever—”
Years have passed and I laugh about the incident now, but isn’t that where we live every day? In a garbage heap of sins and lies that sting, bite, and torture. A place where enemies lurk to demoralize and destroy our families. A place that can be fatal. And a place where we shrug our shoulders passively and dumpster-dive into the growing heap of filth, rather than clean up the rubbish.
But we’re not the first, God’s ancient people did that too. In Jerusalem.
God said their nation was beyond repair because they persecuted the prophets and continually rebelled and sinned against a holy and righteous God. So God sent the Babylonian army, under the rule of King Nebuchadnezzar in 605 B.C., to take Judah captive for seventy years. In the final siege, the king’s army took the rest of the Jews to Babylon and burned the temple, Jerusalem, and tore down the walls of the holy city and burned its gates.
Seventy years later, King Cyrus of Persia signed a decree that allowed the captives to return to Jerusalem, just like God said they would. They began to rebuild the temple, but enemies had moved into the land who refused to accept the returning refugees. The temple work was halted for fourteen years and finally finished in 516 B.C. But the city was a mess. The walls were still broken and the houses destroyed. Ninety-three years after the Jews returned to Jerusalem, with the exception of the temple, the holy city—God’s chosen city—was a dump.
‘Til God called Nehemiah in 445 B.C. to return and rebuild the walls of Jerusalem. Nehemiah prayed and fasted and God gave him a plan and, together with the help of the Lord, under the leadership of Nehemiah, the refugees rebuilt the walls of Jerusalem in fifty-two days.
How did they do it?
Nehemiah instructed each family to clean the rubble and rebuild the portion of the wall in front of their home. If you read the 3rd Chapter of Nehemiah you will find the repeated phrase “next to them,” “next to him,” “after them.”
Ah, that’s the answer. God’s people working shoulder to shoulder. Choosing to be holy. Choosing to clean up their life, their family, and their home. But that would mean choosing to denounce and repent of the deep, dark valley of lies that have deceived our minds and hearts and tuning our ears to hear, believe, and stand for God’s truths.
Because America has become a garbage landfill. A dump of everything ungodly.
We face hoards of voices screaming their lies every day: Homosexuality. Abortion. Same sex marriage. Drugs. Murder. No consequences for sin. No hell. All roads lead to God. Everyone goes to heaven. The list is endless.
And yet we knowingly permit ourselves to be lulled, in the darkness of a movie theater or at home in front of our wide screens, by pretty people, gushing half-truths, involved in abhorrent behavior, while beautiful background music sears and dulls our conscience. And we’re not smart enough to discern a half-truth is a whole lie.
America needs tribes of Nehemiahs. Men and women, and young people ready to become valiant warriors for God. Warriors who will stand, focused, and ready to obey their Lord. Servants who will lead God’s people in cleaning up the rubble at their house, throwing it on the trash heap, and rebuilding walls of righteousness and justice and holiness around this nation. One house at a time.
“Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord, the people whom He has chosen for His own inheritance” (Psalm 33:12 NAS).
Trust God—And clean house. Your house. Before we too are beyond repair.
Most helpful information to handle those blink-of-the-eye emotions. Thank you Kathleen.
Originally posted on Alzheimer's: Hope and Help for Caregivers:
Most caregivers discover that’s just how quickly moods can change. In the proverbial blink of an eye, those with Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia can go from sullen and uncooperative to relaxed and quiet. Just as quickly, conversation and smiles may become shouting and restlessness. Obviously, it’s not too challenging for caregivers to keep up with positive change. But how do we shift gears when a positive mood suddenly becomes negative?
After a morning of easy talk, easy smiles, easy cooperation, Mom scowls, first at me, then at the plate I’ve just set before her. I study the plate but find nothing that might have upset her.
“It’s just lunch, Mom,” I tell her.
No doubt she can’t hear my upbeat, positive voice over her own shouting. “What is that? I don’t want it. I don’t eat here.”
I’ve learned to pay close attention to what Mom says…
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