Decluttering….Far More than Organizing

Leave a comment

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!

Leave a comment

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

Everything happens for a reason….but whose reason is it?

2 Comments

I know someone who is very fond of saying, “Everything happens for a reason,” meaning that everything that happens is supposed  to happen.   It’s actually a fatalistic view of the world, of course – depending on who says it.

You see, when a Christian says, “Everything happens for a reason,” what he or she means is that the Lord can use anything for the good of His Kingdom.  However, the actual statement, is somewhat faulty.  Let’s examine.

God is in complete control – period.  However, BECAUSE He allows us free will, things happen everyday that are outside the will of God.  For instance:  adultery, murder, homosexuality, unwed mothers, theft, idolatry, gossip, etc., are ALL outside the will of God.   God CAN use those experiences for good, but that is because He can REDEEM a situation – NOT because He condones it.

The things that happened in my past – wait, let me rephrase – the things that I did in my past are there because I chose to do them – NOT because God wanted me to do them, or to have those experiences.  Quite the contrary – had I lived within His will for my whole life, I would have been spared much of the pain of the guilt of sin.  But, I chose my own way for a season.  Some would say, “Everything happens for a reason.”  But, whose reason is it?

The truth is, the things that happened in my past happened for my reasons.  They were what I wanted.  They were not what God had planned for my life.  He knew it would happen.  He allowed it to happen.  And in his infinite grace and wisdom, He chose to REDEEM my life IN SPITE OF WHAT I DID.

That’s the key – in spite of me.  God redeemed my life, saved my soul, and gave me hope not because of me, but in spite of me

God calls us to obedience, and through obedience, He can bless us.  But when we are disobedient, He sometimes allows us to feel the sting of the consequences of our actions so that we can learn a lesson for next time. 

Regardless, we serve a God who is in the Miracle Making Business.  In fact, He has a monopoly on the market.  So, when the world condemns a situation, God can redeem it for His purposes.  This is evidenced by Romans 8:28 which says, “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose.”  In my KJV Bible, the word His is italicized.  Emphasized.  Special.  It is THE word to take note of in this verse – HIS purpose. 

So, yes, in a sense, I guess everything happens for a reason.  But, we need to be very careful in placing the blame of reason where it rightly belongs.  Did it happen because God supernaturally caused it to happen (and He can!)?  Or, did it happen because we were living outside the will of God and ignored His laws and precepts?

When you say, “I’ll pray for you”

Leave a comment

Your cousin’s mother-in-law is going for surgery in a week.  Your cousin asks you to pray.  You say you will.

Your best friend says she is worried about her finances and asks you to pray for God to show her what to do.  You promise to pray daily until He answers her.

Your brother asks you to pray for his marriage.  You agree to pray daily, without fail, until his marriage is back on track and winning again.

But, life happens.  You pray, but the prayers are for things you need just to make it through the day.  You ask God to help you find your lost car keys, make it to the doctor’s office on time, and to make that last $50 stretch until payday.  You remember your promises to pray for your friends and family, so you say a rushed prayer while you drive to the grocery store.  You know you should do more, but the time just slips away.

Does this sound like you?  I’m not judging, because I have been there all too often, myself.  The question is, who are we short-changing when we fail to pray like we promised?

In my humble opinion, we are doing ourselves a disservice.  Don’t get me wrong, the person we are praying for definitely receives a benefit, too, but we miss even more.  We miss the opportunity to go before the God of the universe and plead for a fellow believer.  And sometimes, we have the opportunity to plead for the salvation of another human.  We get to wrestle with demons for that person’s eternal destiny!

But, all too often, we don’t.  We miss the boat.  We throw up a quick prayer and hope God counts it as a real one.  Yes, quick prayers are good sometimes – sometimes they are all we can manage in certain situations!  But, when there is something big – salvation, health, marriage, etc – at stake, we owe God and the recipient more than a few seconds.

I challenge you to spend a minimum of 3  minutes of prayer for EACH person or situation you have agreed to pray for – daily.  For 5 people, that only adds 15 minutes to your prayer time.  You can do it!  (You may need to get up an extra 15 minutes earlier, but, you can do it!)

Still waiting for those who will accept….

2 Comments

the CHALLENGE!

We have about a week left before the end of the sign-up for the Read-Your-Bible-Through-In-A-Year Challenge!

So far, only one brave person has signed up!

C’mon people!  You know you want to do this!  You know you NEED to do this!  All it takes to sign up is a quick comment to this or the previous post about the challenge!  (I do suggest you read the previous one, as it tells how this is going to work….)

God says His Word never returns void, so if we endeavor to read it through in a year – by the end of the year we will have been TREMENDOUSLY blessed and radically changed!

And, wouldn’t you agree, this world NEEDS RADICAL CHANGE?!?!

So – comment and sign up today!  As if being totally blessed by Jehovah wasn’t enough….there will be a few goodies along the way!

So, c’mon!  No more procrastinating!  Comment NOW!

Will you accept my challenge this year?

3 Comments

I have been feeling a need to do this, so here it is:

I am issuing a challenge to each and every one of you – EVERYONE that reads this blog!

The challenge is this:

Read through your Bible in one year with us!

Now, if you have done it before, GREAT!  Do it again!  And if you haven’t, PERFECT!  Do it now!

Here’s how it will work:

I will post a reading schedule at the beginning of each week.  It will list the daily readings for the week, and be the catalyst for comments during the week on the readings we are doing.  I plan to have some free goodies for those of you who participate (by participate, I mean, leave at least one comment per week on that week’s readings!).  And, there is a distinct possibility of having a drawing mid-way through and at the end of the year….if not quarterly!

So, join with us today….we begin on January 1st!

Leave a comment on this posting if you will be taking up the challenge to Sharpen Your Sword all year long!

Preparing for Battle,

Toni

Christmas Poetry

1 Comment

Christ came to earth, one blessed
Holy night, to offer
Redemption to a world, so lost in His sight
Immanuel is His name, our
Savior He chose to be.
Three gifts were brought to Him, by the
Magi, for the One who would be
Atonement for sins – offering
Salvation to you and me.

Older Entries