35 Reasons not to Sin

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I found this list on the Rebelution web site.  For whatever reason, my links don’t seem to be working, so here is the web address to the post – be sure to check it out!

http://www.therebelution.com/blog/2009/08/35-reasons-not-to-sin/

Freedom Ain’t Free

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This is a very short post, but I just want to ask you to do me a favor:

When you read this, hopefully on the 4th, say a prayer for the ones fighting for us to keep the freedoms we have today.  Then, if you can (as in, if you know where one is located), tell a soldier thank you.  My oldest daughter and I did it last year at our town’s Independence Day celebration, and it was great.  It meant so much for them to know that SOMEONE still appreciates what they do.

So, celebrate safely, but be sure to remember the reason you have the FREEDOM to do so.  Freedom ain’t free…someone always has to pay a price.  But that someone ALWAYS knows the worth of the reward.

Enjoy your freedoms while you still have them.

Blessings to all my fellow FREE Americans!

(And, of course, blessings to all my readers, regardless of location or nationality!)

Decluttering….Far More than Organizing

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I am a pack rat.

I admit it – I keep all kinds of things.  Drawings, papers, articles.  The problem is, I don’t organize it well enough it find it, and soon forget I even kept it until I start weeding things out.  So, at that point, you would think I would say, “Toni, you haven’t used this in X months/years, get rid of it,” right?  Wrong.

Nope, I refile it with better intentions of using it, reading it, writing about it, etc.  And, again, 6 months later…I run across it again.  Some would say I need a better system.  Some would be right.

Anyway, today is the day that I begin decluterring – again.  So, I’m trying to toss things I don’t need.  I’m getting better.  I think I may even be able to overcome my addiction at some point in my life!  But, it made me think of something else:

Jesus said that when we become His followers, we are no longer that which we were before, but are new creations.  So, why then, do we tend to hang on to the “stuff” of our past for so long?  Maybe for some its the pain of a divorce, or the shame of an immoral relationship…for others it could be the hurt of abuse, or the indignity of past addictions.  The truth is, no matter how early in our lives we came to Christ, we all have a past as a sinner.  And, the instant we trusted in the power of the blood of the Lamb to forgive us for those sins, we became something new, something wonderful, something Divinely inhabited by the Holy Spirit.

So, why do we allow Satan to steal our joy by holding on so closely to those things we need to toss from our lives?  I believe part of it lies in lack of forgiveness.  Jesus said we are to forgive others, and He said that if we do not forgive, He cannot forgive us.  Who are we to say, “I can’t forgive myself for _____________,” when the One who created us, says, “I freely forgive you”?  Dare we put ourselves above God and say our judgment is stronger than His?  God forbid!

I believe part of it lies also in familiarity, though.  Even though those things are something we would gladly do without, comfort sometimes makes it hard to let go.  Think about it – an old, tattered, soft, worn-out t-shirt is so comfortable.  You wouldn’t wear it in public, and its threadbare, but you keep it simply because its comfortable.  We are so afraid of getting rid of the familiar sometimes that we miss out on the Divine!  With the t-shirt – God wants to replace it with a robe of pure white!  A white that we can’t comprehend!  But, we’re content to hang on to the tattered, worn-out t-shirt with the stains all over it.

I am pleading with each one of you – get on your knees – get on your face before the Lord of the universe and ask Him to reveal anything Satan is using to rob you of your joy in salvation.  And ask Him to remove it, completely.

Most importantly:  let Him remove it.

Psalm 51:10  Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.

More than you can imagine!

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For anyone who knows me, you know that the biggest struggle for me comes from covetousness.  Satan knows EXACTLY where to hit me – right between the eyes every time.  Bigger house, newer car, nicer clothes, motorhome, a boat, etc – these are all things I’d love to have.  Yet, I know that being a believer in Jesus Christ does not guarantee me any earthly treasure.  However, sometimes knowing and letting go are two very different things.

At church tonight, one of our elders spoke about Heaven.  He spoke mainly about the New Heaven, the one to come after the Great White Throne Judgment.  Fellow believers, let me tell you, this is EXACTLY what I needed to hear.

Do you realize the sheer size of the holy city of Jerusalem when it comes down to earth at that time?  Even if it were built just like human cities, the size alone would astound even the most skeptical of critics.  Fifteen hundred miles wide, long, and high!  This city is a 1500 mile cube!  Not only the size, but consider this:  the paving material is, as our elder put it, “the most prized possession in the world today – gold.”  But, this isn’t the kind of gold on your wedding band.  In comparison, that’s cheap.  This gold is so perfectly pure that it is like glass.

Then, there’s the “pearly” gates.  First, imagine how enormous gates for a city such as this would be.  David said that 1500 miles would cover the USA from the Canadian border into Mexico, and from the Mississippi River into the Pacific Ocean.  Now, imagine that height as well.  So, again….how big do those gates have to be?  And each one is created from a single pearl.  I don’t know about you, but I had heard the pearly gate thing before, and have read it.   But, when I really think about the SIZE of it, the wonder comes back again.  One pearl equals one gate.  Unfathomable.

The foundations of 12 different precious jewels.  I think maybe the idea here is that God uses what we perceive to have immense value as building materials.  But, when you think about it, it makes sense.  God sees more value in us than He does those jewels.

So, how does this tie into the covetousness thing?  Glad you asked.

On one hand, it doesn’t.  It is simply a wonderful reminder of what awaits us in Heaven when we get to see our blessed Saviour.

However, on the other hand, I needed to hear it tonight, because this week has been one of those weeks I have really struggled.  On this hand, this reminder taught me something…something simple, yet very profound hit me as I listened.  Maybe, just maybe, I’m like Fanny Crosby.  She once said that if she had the chance, she would have been born blind all over again.  Why?  Because the first face she would ever see would be that of her Saviour, Jesus.  Now, I have my eyesight, hearing, full use of my arms and legs, but maybe there is still a correlation:  not having everything I long for here on earth means that when I get to Heaven, it will be that much better.

Yeah, right now we live in a mobile home…hey, we’re adults, let’s call it what it is…we live in a trailer.  But that does not define me.  I buy clothes at Walmart, garage sales, and resale shops.  But that does not define me.  I drive a used minivan – and I still owe on it.  But that does not define me.  I do not have a perfect figure, and I am a diabetic.  But, that does not define me.

What defines me is who I am in Christ.  He has forgiven my sins!  Even mine!  And, everyday I wonder why.  As humans, we are so caught up in what we do to deserve something, that we find it hard to understand how the Creator of the world can forgive us so freely – without us doing anything to “deserve” it.  What defines me is knowing that I have a place secured in Heaven…that my Saviour went there to prepare a place for me, and is returning again to bring me home.  How or when, only Heaven knows.

Either way, the song Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus says it perfectly, and I’ll leave you with these words, because tonight, the Lord used them to speak to me:

Turn your eyes upon Jesus

Look full in His wonderful face

And the things of this world will grow strangely dim

In the light of His glory and grace

Decently & In Order

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First, let me apologize to everyone who has been a faithful reader of this blog.  I’m sorry I have neglected this responsibility for so long – I hope you’ll forgive me and bear with me as I re-prioritize things here on the homefront.

1 Corinthians 14:40 says this:

Let all things be done decently and in order.

My life has not been decent and in order.

In fact, since the beginning of the new year, it has been one big ball of chaos!  I thought that in one fell swoop I could start all the following NEW activities: 1 daughter in ballet, 1 in guitar lessons, both in Keepers club, me leading and directing and acting as treasurer for our Keepers club, hosting said club at my house, starting a new homeschool co-op, science fair projects for both girls, softball for both girls, coaching one softball team, officially beginning my photography business, and keeping up with this blog.  And I think there may be one or two more things in there….

So, as a fellow blogger said, ” I decided to juggle less balls.

I realized that God has been trying to teach me several things lately (remember, I’m as stubborn and hard-headed at these Divine lessons as many of you probably are!) – but, I’ll focus on two of them:

Get more order and structure into your life, Toni.

Toni, you do not have to do EVERYTHING.  It can and will be done without your help sometimes.

Gotta tell you, the last one kinda stings the ego a bit.

The order and structure one, I began learning that one a few years back – before we moved back out to the country.  In a Sunday school lesson one day, we read that verse from 1 Cor.  “All things” kept popping into my mind over and over.  The reference was to things within the church, but I think God used that verse to speak to me about other aspects of the Christian life, and is still using it today to teach me more and help me grow.

So, what kinds of “all things” has He spoken to me about that need change?  This will be a very humbling thing for me to do, but accountability has its rewards:

1)  More structure and order with our homeschool.  I don’t think (but not sure yet) that it means I can’t do things like unit studies, etc…I think it just means we need more daily structure.  At least at this point in our homeschool.

2)  Being a Keeper at home.  I need to be more consistent and diligent about keeping a nice, clean, comfortable house for my family to relax in and feel comfortable in.  Big things like remembering to vacuum every other day…and little things like having the coffee pot ready for my husband every morning.

3)  In line with the first two…getting up earlier!  Ok, ANYONE who knows me personally knows, this may be the hardest after all.  I am a definite night owl (writing this at 12:45AM), and TOTALLY NOT A MORNING PERSON!  I don’t like music or much conversation that early.  But I can talk til 2 AM!

4)  Keeping my diabetes in check.  I’ve been neglecting it almost completely.  I’ve gone back to sugar free and Splenda usage, even though I know there are better ways to do it – like cutting out all convenience foods.  I’ve also skimmed right past the gluten-free thing….I’m not convinced I need to do that.  So, I am back to trying to eat healthfully.  Most of the time.

5)  Our family finances.  Had all our debt paid off.  Got it back.  Is that not the stupidest thing you ever heard??  So, we’re working on that so we can buy a bigger house.

6) In keeping with #4, my weight and exercise.  A living sacrifice I cannot be if I am not here to be one.  So, I am being gently prodded to lower my weight and exercise daily.  (The softball coaching has helped a bit.)  God reminds me often of the consequences of not losing weight, and of not controlling my blood sugar – whether it be commercials, magazines, or just a thought He gives me.

Over the summer, my goal is to begin working on each of these, so that come September, when we start school again, things are being “done decently and in order.”  I want to have each day planned out with a schedule – not because we’ll ever follow it 100%.  But because having a plan and a goal gives you something to follow.  It guides your steps.  If I don’t know where I’m going or what I’m supposed to accomplish, it doesn’t matter what I do.

So, over the next 3-4 months, I plan  to put into place a homeschool schedule, including a yearly course outline – what I want each daughter to accomplish during the year.  I’ll also try to have lesson plans completed for the first semester.  Perferably for the year, with room for adjustments.

I will also teach my girls how to complete certain chores around the house, because they’ll need to know those things later.  Since we are the ones home the most often, it is only fitting that we work together to keep the house neat and clean, even if its not perfect.  It is, after all, lived in.  We’ll develop a plan of attack on the dust bunnies who have invaded our home and taken us hostage.  We’ll have both daily and weekly battles, and monthly wars.

I plan to learn to shop frugally, using The Grocery Game and other coupons and coupon savers.  If that means shopping once a week instead of twice a month to save hundreds, I’ll work it into the above schedule, and we’ll learn math and stewardship along the way.  This will help towards paying off debt, creating an emergency fund, and buying our house.

In shopping frugally and stockpiling, I will cook more meals at home, thus helping with finances, weight loss, and glucose levels.

I will ask God to wake me each morning when He wants me to get up.  I’ll listen and obey.

I will seek His wisdom first each morning thru prayer and devotion, and will exercise for at least 30 minutes after that, daily.  I will do at least three outside activities with my kids each week (I would say more, but east Texas heat can be brutal!).

I will concede my leadership in EVERYTHING for leadership in only a few things.  And I will offer my services and time to large commitments only after consulting the Lord first, and getting His approval.

The last one may be as hard as the getting up early.  I love to be the center of attention!  Who doesn’t?  So, I love to be in leadership positions.  But, to be honest, with the other responsibilities the Lord has seen fit to lay on me, I don’t have the time for all the commitments I’ve previously made!  And why should I?  There are other, certainly more qualified, people out there to do some of the things I do!  I’m not complaining about them, but rather about my egotistical need to be at the head of every single thing in my life.  Its apparently a control issue!  WOW!  I just realized that I am a control freak!  LOL…don’t laugh if you already knew that!

So, Decently & In Order, that’s my new motto. (Notice it doesn’t say perfectly & in order!)

If I’m not around too much, that’s why.  Business, family, God….and not in that order.  Bear with me ~ I’m a work in progress.

How many Roosters in your hen house?

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We have two roosters here, and the hen house ain’t big enough for the both of ‘em anymore!

The older (and more beautiful, IMHO) one is actually the younger, larger one’s father. Junior is about one year old, and until now, there was no fighting.

Until last Thursday.

Dad is not the king of the chicks anymore. It was a year in the making, but it finally had to happen.

For the last year, while Junior was growing, Dad would chase him off when he got too close to Dad’s “ladies,” as I call them. Junior would run away, turn and go back, and Dad would chase him off all over again. And it never really went further than that.

Crow. Chase. Crow some more. Chase again.

But, Junior finally realized that Dad was old, and he was bigger. And last Thursday, he made his move.

Now, I don’t know if you have ever seen roosters fight, but I understand why it is illegal – I never condoned it, but never imagined how cruel it really was. And once they start, they don’t stop. AND, if you get between them….well, just don’t.

Anyway, for one whole year these two roosters tolerated one another’s presence. Then, the new improved version….wait – that’s a commercial…anyway, the younger, stronger rooster decided it was his time to shine. And, he took his shot and refused to surrender.

Both roosters ended up bloody, but Junior prevailed.

Its not unlike what happens to Christians who flirt with sin in their lives. We sometimes look at certain sins as not being all that bad, something we can handle and keep in check. And, for a season, perhaps we can.

But there comes a point when a fight is imminent. One side or the other has to win. Christ in us is fighting for our souls. But the sin is fighting to hold on – and the world is pulling in that direction.

The Lord is greater than the world, no doubt. But, all too often we allow the world to silence the still small voice of God in our hearts. And the battle rages on, until one side is no longer heard.

So, look carefully into your hen house today and make sure that there is only one Rooster. ‘Cause the hen house ain’t big enough for both of them.

Question for the Bible Reading Challenge

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This question is to find out if anyone is interested in the continuation of the Bible Reading Challenge being posted.

If anyone is still interested, I have decided to do this a little differently:

I will post the remainder of the years weekly schedules, instead of posting it each week.  It will say something like, read Ezekiel chapters 25-31 and John 1-5 this week.

This way, for those who are still following, you can have the whole year in your hands.  And for me, it will make sure I get you a schedule on time!

So, if you are interested, at all, in having such a schedule, please comment!

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