Saturday, August 3, 2013
I am really good at showing a strong, put together, unfrazzled face. I have perfected the way it looks to be on top of the game, get through things and do so while looking as if it were easy, attainable and not difficult. However, that's a lie. I am such a screw up... I sin (often and daily), I am self-righteous (meaning I am VERY aware of other's sins--especially those who sin against me-- but have blinders on when it comes to observing my own sin), I am self-reliant (I seldom go humbly before the Lord and lay at His feet begging for grace, help or love... I get in my routine and zip through quiet times and rarely sit uninterrupted and still before my Beloved), I am a people pleaser to the core (I want people to like me... whether that is think I am attractive, funny, intelligent, athletic or even Godly-- yes spiritual things can become tainted as well) and above all else I am busy.
Now I know what you're thinking.... busy? Stephanie... that's not a sin. It wasn't on the Ten Commandments. Uhhh check that again. What does number one say?
It says, "YOU SHALL HAVE NO OTHER GODS BEFORE ME". I can hear you now... "right Stephanie. I don't have other Gods in my life." I believe in Jesus and go to church. I serve and pray to Him. I don't believe in Allah or Mohammed or a golden statue. Yes, but do you spend large amounts of time in front of the mirror or at the gym? Then you are serving a god, which is approval of man. Do you turn to food instead of seeking Jesus in difficult times? Then you are serving the god of glutton. Do you work non-stop to get to that next level, to get that position, to get a bigger raise or to get recognition? Do you see a pattern here? When we were told to have "no other Gods".... that meant man made things included. Some of these things are good/needed things. I am not saying you should not shower or take care of your body so you don't develop an idol of approval. I am not saying you should not eat and quit your job to make sure you stay right with the Lord. I am just saying we have to be very careful with what we place our worth, time and energy in.
Jimmy Needham has a song out right now that I love. The bridge says, "Anything I put, before my God, is an IDOL. Anything I want, with all my heart, is an IDOL. Anything I can't stop thinking of is an IDOL. Anything I give, all my love, is an IDOL."
My prayer in this entry is not to condemn, judge or make you feel bad. My charge in this word is to edify, encourage, spur on, sanctify and refine. Refinement is a hard process. It's just like when you find a diamond. It starts out as a piece of coal. It has to go through enormous amounts of pressure and uncomfortable circumstances for it to become something so beautiful.
My youth girls and I are in the process of memorizing James 1:2-4 which says, "Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Let perseverance finish it's work so that you may become mature and complete, not lacking anything."
This is the same thing... we need to consider it pure joy when we go through trials-- or times of sanctification and refinement-- because it is developing perseverance in us. This doesn't mean we have to be happy (happy and joyful are two different things) but it does mean we should count it has joy that the Lord is taking the time to take something dirty and ugly and worthless (a piece of coal) and fashioning it into something beautiful and timeless (a diamond). So I will rejoice in these trials and let the Lord sift these "gods" out of my life to allow a deeper relationship with Him.
Check out Jimmy's song that I mention earlier called "Clear the Stage"... you will be blessed by this man and His Gospel filled lyrics. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6smGew7dGto