Author Archives: Becca

Why Do We Suffer?

Why must we deal with suffering? This is a question we are all familiar with, isn’t it? And people from Christian and non-Christian circles alike have attempted to answer it.

One thing I do understand about suffering, is that it is a result from the Fall. If you look back in Genesis 3, you will see the consequences of sin spelled out and how they affect mankind as well as the earth. And in Romans 8:22-23 “For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.” We have been waiting since that day to be completely delivered from the sufferings that were caused by that first sin.

Christians sometimes believe they ought to be immune to troubles, but this idea is simply not biblical. To be told “ if you had enough faith” or “you must have done something terrible to deserve this” does not line up with what the Bible tells us. We are told time and time again that we will meet trouble and times of trial or even have to endure periods of intense suffering. And the Scripture does not say if your faith is large enough or if you manage to not sin in a certain way you will be able to avoid it.

G.K. Chesterton wrote “Jesus promised the disciples three things – that they would be completely fearless, absurdly happy and in constant trouble.” In John 16:33, Jesus gave the disciples a promise of suffering – “I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” Note that surrounding the suffering, Jesus promises His peace and power. We would do well to remember that in our own times of suffering, His peace and power are there surrounding us, protecting us, comforting us through that time.

When I was in high school, I would say that my life was pretty lacking in suffering. All I would qualify at that time at suffering would probably be the loss of my grandmother at age 8, being relocated twice, and having to make new friends due to Dad being called to 2 new churches. Rather insignificant in degree when you compare it to the amount of suffering that other people have had to deal with, so I realize that I have been rather blessed in my life when it comes to the subject. One day after my Dad had a checkup and some blood work, we had some alarming news – the doctor was concerned about the possibility of yes, you guessed it, the “C” word. You can imagine the questions that were going around in my head. “Isn’t Dad too young for cancer? How could this happen? He seems healthy enough… What’s going to happen next? Why now? Why him? What did he do to deserve this?” The doctor scheduled a biopsy, and Dad went for the appointment and then the waiting for the results commenced – and the waiting was even longer then than it is now – it seem like forever! In that period of waiting, I asked those very questions to God. I had been a Christian for several years, and even had learned to be faithful to read my Bible and pray, but never did I pray like I did then. I had a bathroom in my room in our house in Hot Springs, and I remember not wanting Mom and Dad to find me, so I went into that bathroom and prayed like I never did before. I had been on my knees in prayer before, but it was more of a practice instead of a need to be completely humble before Him. I was on my face before Him before I knew it – weeping for understanding, for healing if Dad needed it, for comfort for the days to come. Never had I felt more comfort than I did after that experience – we still had to wait for the results, but no matter what the answers were, I believed God would take care of us. Later on the results revealed no cancer – it was almost as if God gave me the answer before we even had the results.

Fast forward about 10 years later and another doctor informing us that this time he did see evidence of cancer in another part of Dad’s body. Realize that in this 10 years I have been to college and Med Tech school and have more knowledge of the human body and how it works. The question was “How do you want to proceed?” Everyone looked at me… I took a deep breath and in that moment, I flashed to that same peace I had with Dad’s first cancer scare. And although this time we had a definite diagnosis, I believed that God could either heal Dad with His own hand or through modern medicine – however He saw fit, but also that if He chose to take Dad from this earth through this cancer, it would be of a purpose. And the cancer did have a purpose. Dad had surgery and chemotherapy, is still as fit as ever, but now he has a way to minister to those who have or have had cancer, because he has been there. He often will sit with church members who are getting chemo so they don’t have to do it alone. He takes baked bread and cookies to the receptionists and nurses at the clinic who he once saw so often. His trial and his faith through it is an avenue for witnessing for Christ that many of us may never experience.

Another passage that promises that we will face times of suffering is James 1:2-4 ”Count it all joy, my brothers,when you meet trials of various kinds, 3 for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. 4 And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” Notice that James doesn’t say “if someday by chance you might possibly run into trouble”. He says “Brothers, you are going to come face to face with trouble, but don’t run from it – look upon it with joy. And here is why – those trials test your faith and show it to be firm in the Lord – mature, complete, with no deficiencies.”

Why are we tested in school? To find out what we have learned or not learned, right? To see what we really understand and what we have just skipped over and not paid attention to? When you perform badly on a test, it will point you back to what you need to review on, especially if it’s a concept on which the material in the future will build. Just think about being tested on some sort of higher math if you didn’t understand basic math or even basic algebra. If the testing of your faith produces some steadfastness or endurance and you don’t do so hot at the tests, then it’s hard for your faith to become fully mature or complete. I guess what I am saying is that we need to learn to face some of our smaller problems or trials with the Lord’s help, because it will build upon our faith and help us in days of harder struggles.

Another thing I understand about suffering – we are not alone when we go through it. Isaiah 43:2 “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you;
when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you.” and Psalm 46:1 “God is our refuge and strength,
a very present help in trouble.” – These verses are excellent reminders that God is with us.

We also need to remember that Christ is no stranger to suffering Himself. He is the ultimate of empathizers. While He was on this earth, He experienced all the pain and disappointment that you and I experience, yet without sin. He was separated from family and I am sure He was homesick.  He mourned the loss of a close friend.  He experienced rejection from His own countrymen, and was misunderstood by even those closest to Him. He was accused of blaspheming His own Father, mocked, beaten, whipped, and humiliated in every way imaginable. Then He was crucified. While He was on the cross He bore the weight of the world’s sin upon Himself.

We in our suffering often ask the questions “How could this happen?” or “Why me?” or “Why now?”. If you listen to the song I’ve posted, in the bridge it says “Jesus, in Your suffering, You were reaching. You thought of me.” What an incredible thought – that on the cross, instead of dwelling on His pain and suffering, He would have been thinking about what His sacrifice would do for all of mankind– He thought of you and me.



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The Character of God – Is God Good?

Have you ever been in the middle of working on a project at school or work or even for pleasure, and either wished you could or really did scrap it and start over?  Or you simply have to deal with the unpleasant realization that things are just not going to be how you want them to turn out?  It’s never fun to be in those situations, is it?

Imagine working on a project, finishing – feeling like you did a great job – then having someone else mess it up – how would that make you feel?  Upset? Angry?

Can you imagine how God felt after creating the world and proclaiming it good, (Gen 1:31 And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good.) giving Adam and Eve the earth to live in and power over its creatures, only for man to rebel against him?  We see in Genesis 3 the results of that rebellion – not only was man cast out of the Garden, but we were given some pretty severe consequences as well.  But, surprisingly, God didn’t scrap the project altogether.

Fast forward about 1600 years to Noah’s day:  Genesis 5:5″ The Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. 6 And the Lord regretted that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him to his heart. 7 So the Lord said, “I will blot out man whom I have created from the face of the land, man and animals and creeping things and birds of the heavens, for I am sorry that I have made them.”  That weighs pretty heavy on my heart to know that God at one point was so disappointed in man that He regretted even making us.  There is not very much documentation in the Bible about what evil was on the earth at that time – it just says that it was corrupt in the Lord’s sight, but it makes me cringe to think what God could think of the human condition today. But, there was something to be salvaged in God’s eyes – vs 8 & 9 say that Noah found favor in the eyes of God and that he was a righteous man who walked with God.  Noah and his family were spared when the flood came and wiped away everything from the face of the earth. Because Noah walked with God, he was part of His plan to repopulate the earth and start over.

Theses are just 2 early examples of God’s judgment of mankind.  Yes, they are seemingly severe or harsh.  As are other examples throughout the Bible.  But when looking at those examples you must also examine the reason for the judgement to begin with, as well as the numerous ways that God is merciful in judgement.  Many times before judgment of a people, they are given multiple warnings through prophets.  Oftentimes there is a span of many years that a people is given to repent before they are judged or exiled.  God Himself has said that He is  “a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness,”(Ex 24:6), and He has demonstrated that more times than not when it comes to handing out His judgment to people who deserve it more than deserving His mercy.

This question “Is God good?” has been asked by the world because of the fact that there are those instances of judgement in the Bible as well as what people have proclaimed as God’s judgement on the world in today’s times, whether it be natural disasters, war, economic decline, etc.  What I would like to focus on for the moment is the reason why I know God is good.  I know that God is good because even though His project didn’t go the way He would have ultimately wanted it to – because He gave us free will and we blew it – He didn’t scrap us.  He knew that Adam and Eve would sin and He had a Plan in place to fix us.

I think we often have read/heard Romans 5:8 ” but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” by itself.  Wonderful verse – but read the verses before it and it almost takes on new life (at least it did for me) “6 For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. 7 For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die— 8 but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

Think about it – you pour yourself into something that’s going well, and it might be actually worth finishing – but, when it starts to mess up, or for sure when it’s all trashed and not worth anything – you lose motivation to work on it or finish it, right?  Verse 7 says perhaps for a righteous/good person, someone would actually step up and die for them, but for someone sinful, why in the world would anyone die for them?  But that is exactly what Christ did, He took mankind – weak and unworthy, soiled and broken – and saw man as worth salvaging…He saw you and me as worth salvaging – and He gave His life to do it!   I’d say that’s good, wouldn’t you?


Romans 5 (The Message) – I love this translation of these verses also.

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The Meaning of Life – 3 (of Many) Reasons I Could Never Be an Atheist

The Meaning of Life – Is that not the ultimate question? What am I supposed to do in life?  What career should I go into?  Should I get married and start a family? What am I here for?  What is my purpose?  Unfortunately the answers to these questions can not be found by plugging them into a search engine or supercomputer (and the answer certainly isn’t 42).  I have found myself at one point or another asking all of these questions.

When thinking about how I arrived at answers (or still am searching for them), I am confronted with the reality of how lost I would be if I were not a child of God – if I had no one to pray to for guidance, no Bible to go to direction, no Spirit to lean on for comfort.  I would be a complete mess.  Where would I be if I rejected the existence of God altogether?  The atheist philosopher Julian Baggini said, “Atheists have to live with the knowledge that there is no salvation, no redemption, no second chances. Lives can go terribly wrong in ways that can never be put right.”  To live in such despair!  Sure, someone who lives without belief in God can attempt to live life with meaning, but where is the source of that meaning?  Where is the source of their second chances?

C.S. Lewis, once an atheist himself, said “I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen. Not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else.”  When you are a child of God, you see things differently.  It’s like a light has been turned on to things you have never seen before.  Atheists, naturalists, scientists, physicists, and others would like to explain things of our world from an evolutionary perspective or by chance or whatever else they would like to call it with all their theories (which by the way are just that – theories), but I see things through a lens of which I can only call my God perspective, because when I look at the wonders of what this world holds, I can only stand in awe of what our God has done for us.

The first reason that I could never be an atheist is what I see in Nature.  Selby and I like to hike, and most of our vacations are road trips so we can hike in several different locations along the way as well as our destinations.  You can see some of the places we’ve been here: .  Whenever we go to these places or even to places closer to home, I am astounded by the beauty our earth holds.  And to see these locations as the seasons change, with green trees and flowers in bloom in spring and summer, and the beautiful change in colors in autumn,  and even the stark contrast of winter where there are no leaves and it seems that you can see for miles.  Just the change in seasons – a perfectly timed schedule that creates this beautiful production of color for our eyes to see is enough for me to believe there is a divine Art Designer.  But there’s more.  You see, we have this magnificent backdrop of rolling hills, mountains, plains, forests, rivers, oceans, and streams on this revolving sphere that we call home.  Have you looked recently at the pictures from the Mars Rover?  We could live on a planet composed of what looks mostly like desert, but we are privileged to live on a planet that is made up of such beauty that I don’t believe explanations that scientists give us about our earths origins are sufficient – there has to be a divine Set Designer.  If not, I think it would be simple enough for our earth to be inhabitable but not beautiful, but God chose to give us beauty as well.  Today we went to Pedestal Rocks near Pelsor.  If you have never been, the rock formations are amazing.  Those huge rocks have been sitting there, being whittled away by wind, water, and debris for many, many years.  All I could think of today was – God knew on January 4, 2014, 2nd Baptist would hike to see these rocks, I always forget how impressive they are – am I sufficiently amazed by Him?  I then think beyond our world when I look at the stars and realize that God created so much more than just our little planet – I am dumbfounded by what we have not even discovered is out there.  Psalm 8:1 “O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!  You have set your glory above the heavens… 3When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, 4 what is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him?”

What is man that you are mindful of him?…  The next reason I could never be an atheist lies in the complexity of the Human Body.  Psalm 139:13 “For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. 14 I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. 15 My frame was not hidden from you when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. 16 Your eyes saw my unformed substance in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.”  Here we see our Casting Director/Director/Producer.  I am a science nerd through and through.  I have always been fascinated by the way the body works.  Our body is composed of around 30 different types of cells, and we have 100 trillion (in adults) of those cells in our bodies.  These cells are of varying sizes and shapes, have different function and produce chemical reactions in order for our bodies to function properly.  The center of those cells have a nucleus which contain the DNA (found in a helix configuration) which contains the code for making us human.  It is said that if all of the DNA from a single adult human was stretched out end to end, it would reach the sun and back 400 times.  All of that code in a specific sequence and some people believe it could have happened all by chance??  Could David have been given some insight from God when he was inspired to write “intricately woven”?  Cells that are alike form tissues such as muscles, and tissues can form together to form organs, which are grouped together in systems that work together for specific purposes – all to make our life possible.  I cannot look at how all this works together in sync (or sadly, how sometimes it does not), and not be reminded how we have a loving Creator God who created us in His likeness (Gen. 1:27).

Lastly, and maybe not on other people’s “There is a God” list, is Music.  I cannot describe sufficiently to you what good music and a well written lyric does for my soul.  How an excellent guitarist, or swelling string section, or listening as someone plays a beautiful piano accompaniment or a driving, rhythmic drum beat just does something at the very core of me.  How sometimes the music itself doesn’t hit me until I know what the lyric says, and even if I may not have initially loved the melody, because of the words, I fall in love with the song anyway.  I still lean toward buying a physical cd, because I cannot always find lyrics online easily when I simply download.  There are very few genres of music I do not like, but I am not fond of anything that is shallow in meaning or something that is simply just trying to fill lines with rhymes.  I think music is a gift, and I think those who can write are truly gifted.  To not only be able to write words that convey what you are trying to say, many times in a way that has never been said before, and  to set those words to a melody, and then to fill the background with accompaniment – I believe is God-given – even if they don’t believe in Him.  These songwriters have a medium to reach so many people that might be unreachable by just spoken word.  One of my favorite Christian songwriters is Andrew Peterson – if you haven’t heard of him, look him up.  He is one of those artists reminiscent of Rich Mullins, writing in such a way that not only perks your ears, but tugs at your heart.  My favorite song from his last album Light for the Lost Boy, is called “Don’t You Want to Thank Someone”.  Here are the lyrics from the second verse:

Don’t you ever wonder why
In spite of all that’s wrong here
There’s still so much that goes so right
And beauty abounds?
‘Cause sometimes when you walk outside
The air is full of song here
The thunder rolls and the baby sighs
And the rain comes down
And when you see the spring has come
And it warms you like a mother’s kiss
Don’t you want to thank someone?
Don’t you want to thank someone for this?

Reminder of the beauty of nature, and the fact that it, people, as well as music swells into the melody we call life.  I believe this is evidence for a divine Composer, don’t you?

Whether it be nature, the human body, or music or some other reason I haven’t listed here today, the truth of the matter is there are things I don’t understand about the world we live in or why things happen the way they do. But also our opponents to Christianity, who would like to say that everything happened by chance, do not have empirical evidence to say so.   I thought C.S. Lewis said it well: “If the solar system was brought about by an accidental collision, then the appearance of organic life on this planet was also an accident, and the whole evolution of Man was an accident too. If so, then all our present thoughts are mere accidents – the accidental by-product of the movement of atoms. And this holds for the thoughts of the materialists and astronomers as well as for anyone else’s. But if their thoughts – i.e., Materialism and Astronomy – are mere accidental by-products, why should we believe them to be true? I see no reason for believing that one accident should be able to give me a correct account of all the other accidents. It’s like expecting the accidental shape taken by the splash when you upset a milk-jug should give you a correct account of how the jug was made and why it was upset.”

Hebrews 11:1 “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.”  It seems to me that it takes as much or more faith to believe there is no God than to believe there is.  I am so relieved there is.  It is so much easier to answer those hard questions when you believe upon Him and have Him in your life .



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One Among Many – The Uniqueness of Christ

John 14:5  “Thomas said to him, “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?”

I don’t know about you, but one of the things I hate most is not knowing where I am going, and not knowing how I am going to get there.  It gives me that little queasy feeling in the pit of my stomach until I know that I have for sure arrived at my destination.  Even when I am in an unfamiliar building, (you know when you have those quick, turn left five times, go upstairs, turn right, turn left twice, and it’s the 9th door on the right, kind of directions), I don’t like walking around attempting to find where I need to be.  I would rather just know, you know?  It’s even worse when I am in a city or area I’ve never been in and I have to find somebody’s house or conference or something and suddenly my GPS app on my phone just doesn’t want to work.

I can imagine this is how Thomas must have felt when he was listening to Jesus as He was talking to His disciples at the last meal He would share with them.  Jesus had already washed their feet, spoke of service, predicted that one of them would betray Him, given them a commandment to love one another so the world would know whose they were, and had said that Peter would deny him.  All that information and in the midst of it, He told them that He would be leaving, and they could not follow Him directly, but later on they could.  Can you see the question marks in the disciples heads? Or the worry building in their hearts?  Jesus did.

14:1“Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. 2 In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. 4 And you know the way to where I am going.

And, this is where Thomas comes in.  “What??  We know where You’re going? Okay, tell me this, Lord, if we don’t know the destination, how can we know the way?” Jesus’ response is straight to the point, yet so revealing of who He is and how different He is compared to any other religious leader/prophet of any other religion.  14:6 “Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”  The disciples had been in the presence of the Way for 3 years, and they couldn’t see it for themselves, so Jesus had to spell it out for them.  Jesus is unique in the fact that He is not telling the disciples (and us) to follow His ways, and they will lead to God.  He is saying that He is the Way to God.  How is that so? “7 If you had known me, you would have known my Father also.  From now on you do know Him and have seen Him.”

I am envious of those people who seem to have an internal compass.  You know those people who have that innate ability to tell you what direction you point to even if you have blindfolded them, walked them into an unfamiliar place, and spun them in circle 20 times.  It takes me a bit to get my bearings, and sometimes I get into a building I can’t tell you which way is north if my life depended on it.  I am not the worst – I could tell you stories of some that I know that have gotten lost in Russellville even after living here for a little while.   I can usually manage to navigate with a map or a GPS, but when left to my own devices, I am lost.  When we are hiking, Selby amazes me because he can figure out where we need to be by how the trail is marked, or by the fact we should be following  a creek or something like that.  We went recently to listen to Tim Ernst, a nature photographer, speak about a recent project.  We were chatting with him afterwards, he was talking about a similar concept, following the lay of the land because of a river – it’s  natural to him. But, he said that he always wants a GPS when he is in flat land down in Southern Arkansas because it’s unfamiliar territory for him – he would be lost without it.

The fact the Jesus is the Way is comforting.  I already have the Way within me because I have already accepted Him.  I already have an internal Eternal GPS, you see.  I don’t have to worry that I will get lost, because I am not left to my own devices.  I am not expected to do it on my own, because He has already done it for me.  That “preparing a place” He was talking about was His death on the cross and then conquering that death in 3 days.  If Christ had a way He had just expected us to follow, it would be about us trying to do our best to follow the path laid out for us like so many other religions are built.  If it were a path to follow in life, it would be so easy for us to get off that path, to wander, to not reach our destination.  How would you measure if you followed it correctly?  The wonderful thing about Jesus – is that just recognizing Him as the Way, understanding Him as the Truth, and accepting Him as the Life – is what makes Christ so different, so perfect in our lives in comparison to anything else out there.  It’s not what we do, not about how we follow a path – It’s who He is and what He has done and what He continues to do through His Spirit.

Jesus spoke about how to live and how to love after He was gone.  The disciples and we are not left to figure out how to do that on our own.  Before Jesus left, He gave a promise and yet another encouragement that I think we should hold dear still today in the midst of turmoil.  “16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, 17 even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you. … 26 But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you. 27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.”

We have the Way within us because of our acceptance of Christ as Savior and Lord, and we have the Spirit to guide us in the ways of Christ, to help us to discern and to glean from the Word those things we might not otherwise, to gain peace that passes all understanding.  These things we have because of our relationship with Christ, not because  we are on some quest to gain some higher realm.  No list of good works that we do could ever measure up to what He had already done for us.  What we do may make us look good on the outside, but only what Christ did makes us look good on the inside. We know that our position with Christ is secure because of His Grace – because He takes what is broken and makes it beautiful.  What a wonderful picture and what a relief (no queasiness) that I don’t have to do it on my own…and it makes me wonder why I don’t tell more people about what He’s done for me…

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The Bible – How did we get it and why do we need it?

This week we will be looking at the way that God gave us His Word.  The Bible was authored by approximately 40 human authors, but as the Scripture tells us it really has one Author that breathed the words into the people who gave us the Bible as we know it today.  2 Timothy 3:16a says “All Scripture is breathed out by God”.   The word that Paul used in the Greek is theopneustos or literally God-breathed.  Not just inspiration as some of our English translation poorly represent.  Inspiration conveys the idea that the words of the authors came from themselves, only by some stimulation of some sort by God.  No, the idea that we get from Scripture is that the Word of God came from Himself – the human authors, like Paul, were vessels in which God chose to reveal those words.  He used their individual personalities and situations and geographies to work through them to speak His voice, His teaching, His Word to His people – to the world.

The passage in 2 Timothy also tells us why we need the Word of God.

3:16 “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work”.

We often times just wish that we would be given just a simple list of dos and don’ts – A Christian’s Guide to a Perfect Life.  But that is not what the Bible is.  The Word of God is the story of God’s love for us unfolded from Creation, and then ends with what is to come in Revelation.  It tells us of how we as man rejected His love, and then we see throughout the Bible God’s plan of redemption that comes as a babe in Jesus Christ.  His perfect life is an example of how we should strive to live, and then He came to show us how to die and then live again.  Paul’s writings point to Christ over and over, and give us practical ways to live a holy Christian life with Christ as our center.  We can glean wisdom from Proverbs, learn how to pray and praise God from Psalms, we see the prophecies of Christ’s coming from the Prophets, take hold of so many promises of God in the Old Testament, and learn from the lives of all of the different people of all throughout the Bible.  The Word of God is profitable for teaching.

Reproof or rebuke – not something we really like to think about that much, right?  I don’t know about you, but I never really much liked when I got in trouble with my parents or a teacher at school, even when it was something minor like talking too loudly in class or whatever. Your errors are pointed out.  But rebuke when it comes from God?  Sounds a little more severe, doesn’t it?  But Proverbs says otherwise 3:11-12 “My son, do not despise the Lord’s discipline or be weary of his reproof, for the Lord reproves him whom he loves, as a father the son in whom he delights”.  God disciplines us because He loves us.

I also had a thought about correction when I read this verse.   We have a Husky named Juneau. If you don’t know anything about Huskies – know 2 things – they are extremely smart and extremely headstrong.  At least ours is.  We decided early on we wanted to do some obedience training with Juneau, because we knew that it might be a challenge to train her on our own.  The trainer that we went to introduced us to the concept of a correction collar.  It is chain collar that loops together and cinches around the neck when pulled taut.  Some might call it a “choke” collar, but it doesn’t actually choke unless Juneau pulls against it too hard.  The concept is that when you are giving a correction to the dog, you give a quick snap of the leash – the collar pulls tight around the neck as well as producing a metal on metal sound to catch the dog’s attention.  We even pulled it tight quickly around our own arms to see what it would feel like.  It didn’t hurt, but we did notice the quick snap, and I am sure the sound close to her ears would be a quick reminder that she was not doing what she was supposed to be.  We chose this method because we knew that she being the breed she was, we would need some way to get her attention, especially if there was a situation in which she was in danger.  We may not wear the Word of God around our neck, but we do wear it in our hearts (Ps. 119:11), so that we can avoid sinning.  We can wear it as correction, not as a choking mechanism by not pulling against it at every turn.

We have it for training in righteousness.  We can be headstrong thinking that we have the best recipe for holy living.  But in reality, we have already been given the best instructions, and we have been given the Holy Spirit in order to determine how to carry out those instructions in our daily life to fulfill God’s will for our lives.  God intends for us to grow in righteousness, and that is one reason why He gave us His Word.  So that His headstrong little children would grow closer to Him.

When we are children, we are complete in Him – we get the concept from other passages also, not just this one (Col 2:10-15).  But, knowing that we have the Holy Spirit within us, and the God-breathed Word behind us, does that not give you a new sense of power?  This passage says “equipped for every good work”.  This thought that the righteousness that can only come from God is going to filter down into our lives though the reading of His Word and through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit in our lives become the good that God needs us to do on this earth. He is not going to leave us ill-equipped.  He would not leave us to do the things He needs done through our own meager resources.  He is a Great God who does mighty things so that we know that it is He and only He that is accomplishing them.

Just look at our Bible today – a book that was written over a span of 1500 years, over 40 different authors, 66 books, different locations over 3 continents.  We have more copies of manuscripts than books like the Iliad, and in most cases, those manuscripts have rare minor variants that do not affect the doctrine of Scripture or of our Christian faith.  How else would our Bible come together without the intervention of a mighty God?  And now so many of us have multiple copies in our homes or even apps on our phones that we can switch versions at the drop of a hat.  But, just how much do you treasure the Word of God? Do you look forward to reading the Bible?  Do you say like the Psalmist “How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth!” (119:103)  Sometimes I think we may take for granted what the Bible is – the very Words of God given to us through people He chose to be His vessels to deliver His message to His people.  Now we can be vessels to continue to deliver the message of the Gospel to the world we live in.

What better way to start but by sharing the Christmas story with someone – have you ever wondered why if one reason we celebrate Christmas is to have an excuse to witness to someone?  The world needs to know that the Baby Jesus was the Gift given by God – because one day He became the Crucified Jesus and 3 days later He became the Risen Jesus.  One day He will be the Returning Jesus.  Are you ready?  Is your family ready?  (Part of our family just got ready, I am so happy for you Mike!! (a.k.a China Mike : ))) Are your friends ready?  Is the cashier at Wal-Mart ready?  I admit that I am just as lacking as the next person, but I am praying that God gives me the boldness to be better…He did say that He would equip us, right?

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The Glory of God

In Christian circles we talk about the glory of God.  We talk about His glory in the sense of something of honor, or we may tend to think of a great light as in Luke 2:9 “And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear.” Or we talk about doing things for the glory of God.  But what is the glory of God?

The following is a quote from John Piper about the glory of God:

“What is it? I believe the glory of God is the going public of his infinite worth. I define the holiness of God as the infinite value of God, the infinite intrinsic worth of God. And when that goes public in creation, the heavens are telling the glory of God, and human beings are manifesting his glory, because we’re created in his image, and we’re trusting his promises so that we make him look gloriously trustworthy.

The public display of the infinite beauty and worth of God is what I mean by “glory,” and I base that partly on Isaiah 6, where the seraphim say, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty. The whole earth is full of his—” and you would expect them to say “holiness” and they say “glory.” They’re ascribing “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty. The whole earth is full of his—” and when that goes public in the earth and fills it, you call it “glory.”

So God’s glory is the radiance of his holiness, the radiance of his manifold, infinitely worthy and valuable perfections.”

I really love how Piper has laid out the concept of God’s glory in this quote.  The idea of God’s glory is defined as His holiness, infinite worth, and perfection on display for the world to see.  And we can be a part of that.  We are called to be a part of that.  Not that the world will point to us to say “look at what Becca did”, or “look at what ‘enter your name here’ did”, but that the world will perk up and say “look at what God did”.  And for some it will be a realization that there is a God at all.

In Exodus 33, Moses begged for God’s presence to remain with Israel.  After God promised to do so, Moses boldly asked “Please, let me see Your glory”(v.18).  What a request!  But God graciously allowed him to see the tail end of His glory, because it was all Moses could bear.  Even that encounter rendered Moses a human torch with the amount of glory that he absorbed by just being near it.  He glowed so much that the Israelites were afraid, and he had to wear a veil to cover his face when he came down from the mountain.  They missed out because of their fear.  Many Jews missed out again on seeing God’s glory manifested in Jesus while He was here on earth. They just did not understand who He was or refused to see it.  Many still do.  Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 3:15″ Even to this day, whenever Moses is read, a veil lies over their hearts,”.  But Paul also gave hope to those he was writing to and to those we encounter today: 16 “but whenever a person turns to the Lord, the veil is removed.”

Moses had begged God for His presence to remain with His people.  Under the new covenant, we have the privilege of knowing that God’s presence remains with us always because the Holy Spirit resides in our hearts 17 “Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.” We have freedom because we know He is always with us, that His redemption has covered us.  So why is it that we ask for His presence in our worship services, to feel His presence in our midst?  Are we like Moses asking to see His glory?  I think when we do ask, we may need to take a step back and prepare our hearts.  Ask ourselves if we are truly ready for the radiance of His holiness to be revealed to us.  I am not saying that we shouldn’t ask…I am just saying that we be truly ready when we do.  I think if we as a body of Christ followers were heart ready (not perfect, not going to happen), He would reveal Himself and His glory in a way that He has never done before – like He did Moses.  We may not end up like human flashlights, but I do believe we would be crazy-bright Christ-lights to shine into a world of darkness.  One in which veiling our faces is just not an option.  “Let your light so shine before men that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father who is in heaven” (Matt 5:16) Go shine your light.

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A Christian Worldview – Under the sun vs Under the Son

Romans 12:2 Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

– Conformed (under the sun) vs Transformed (under the Son) –

Driving through Fayetteville on my way home Thanksgiving evening, I was absolutely amazed at the hoards of people that had arrived early at WalMart for the Black Friday sale.  The parking lot was already full, and cars were pulling out to look for a space in the lot of the shopping area adjacent.  A few things came to mind after I finally made it through the traffic and onto 540.  First, as I am not fond of a normal days’ WalMart crowd, I was very thankful that I was not there.  Second, I couldn’t help but pray that there wouldn’t be any major incidents like there has been in the past around America.  Selby’s cousin Gina had made a comment over Thanksgiving dinner that other countries must think that some of the stories are made up.  I mean, really? Fights that break out over toys and electronics? Some of these news reports just sound concocted, don’t they?  Last, I couldn’t help but wonder how we got to this point.  We went from stores opening at normal time on Black Friday, to really early Friday morning, to really, really early Friday morning, late Thursday evening, to 7 Thursday evening?  Are we so in need of that deal that we forgo even 5 precious hours that we could potentially be spending with family to wait til even midnight to open the stores?  We may think it gives us more time to shop, but what about the employees who have to work those hours?

Do we really need the stuff we buy at these sales? Solomon in Ecclesiastes explained well what the mindset of someone who is apart from God (under the sun), and lives as though this life is all there is. 1:2 “Absolute futility,” says the Teacher. “Absolute futility. Everything is futile.”3 What does a man gain for all his efforts that he labors at under the sun? 4 A generation goes and a generation comes, but the earth remains forever.”  And then he also gives his version of ‘he who dies with the most toys still dies’, “2:4 I increased my achievements. I built houses and planted vineyards for myself. 5 I made gardens and parks for myself and planted every kind of fruit tree in them. 6 I constructed reservoirs of water for myself from which to irrigate a grove of flourishing trees…8 I also amassed silver and gold for myself, and the treasure of kings and provinces…10 All that my eyes desired, I did not deny them. I did not refuse myself any pleasure, for I took pleasure in all my struggles. This was my reward for all my struggles. 11 When I considered all that I had accomplished and what I had labored to achieve, I found everything to be futile and a pursuit of the wind. There was nothing to be gained under the sun.” It didn’t matter how much wealth (a.k.a. stuff) was acquired, there was still something missing… And there will still be – if a life continues to be filled up with things that don’t really add up or matter in the long run.

Do the people we are buying gifts for really need the items we buy?  I ask this last question because I know that oftentimes Black Friday is used as a tool for gift buying, and since it is the day after Thanksgiving, it is often viewed as the official ushering in of the Christmas season (although some would argue it’s sooner).  How many times have you worried over finding someone ‘just the right gift’, concerned that you would either not find it on time, or that the person would not enjoy what you gave them?  We have this society stolen, and at the same time self-inflicted excised joy of gift giving, and I don’t know how it happened.

Understand that I am not saying that Black Friday or Christmas shopping of any kind in and of itself is a bad thing. I just can’t help but wonder sometimes if we have lost the wonder of the Christmas season. Have we become so immersed in this world that we have absorbed its lack of amazement for the reason for Christmas? We have begun to view it as a time to receive the stuff we want and spend less time focusing on the ultimate gift that has already been given to us. What about that first Christmas gift?

When you consider the sacrifice that Christ made to come to us, it really puts things into perspective. He first gave up His heavenly home to come to us in the form of a babe, in the care of earthly parents, surrounded in flesh to dwell among us, experiencing what we deal with on a daily basis, yet without sin. This was all necessary that He could be the perfect redeeming sacrifice for us by death on the cross. The gift was wrapped in a bow when He rose on the third day, conquering death and making the way possible for us to someday be raised with Him. He came that we “might have life more abundant.” Here on earth and with Him in death – we are the reason for His gift…

When you take the time to consider what the gifts we give at Christmas represent, does it not make them mean a bit more? If you thought about the gift of Christ with each gift you receive, would you be even more appreciative of what was given?

My Mom still, even now that we are all grown and out of the house, asks us each year for a Christmas list. This helps she and Dad when they shop for us and also for the grandkids. I find each year that it is increasingly harder to think of items to put on that list. Now understand, I am far from perfect when it comes to material desires, but when anyone asks, “What do you want for Christmas this year?”, I have a very hard time answering. You can chalk it up to getting older, but I pray that it’s because what it happening is that I am maturing in the Lord, and getting more out from under the sun and a little more under the Son. Because the things that I really want for Christmas this year will be on my Christmas list for years to come. They cannot be bought in a store and cannot be placed in a gift bag or box. One thing is for our world to be at peace. This may never come to bear until our Lord returns, but if that is when it will happen I say “Come, Lord Jesus, Come”.  Next, I want to be able to spend time with family and friends, for there to be no conflict, and for everyone to be happy and healthy. Another, is for my love for my husband and his for me to only increase with each passing year. He’s truly a blessing to me, and I thank God for him. Lastly, that I will be able to grow in my relationship with God, that my love for Him will deepen, and that I will never take for granted the gift that He gave to me so that I can have life and have it more abundantly.

So, as we enter this Christmas season, may we dwell on the reason for it.  Let us not get wrapped up in what the world says the season is about or even what it isn’t. May we consider each gift given and received being a representation of the ultimate gift given to us. I think in light of this – no matter what it is – in our eyes it will be good, acceptable, or perfect.



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Forever Restored

When I was born, I only had one living grandparent – my dad’s mother.  We were able to visit her a few times a year – mostly holidays – and some additional trips to see her.  Unfortunately she passed away when I was eight, so as you can imagine, I don’t remember a whole lot about her.  When Selby and I started dating, he of course introduced me to his family. He had grandparents on both sides of his family and step-grandparents still living.  They all took me in like another granddaughter which has been so very precious to me.  I don’t know if Selby realizes that his grandparents have been in my life longer (16 yrs) than my own.  They hold a very special place in my heart.  A few years back, Mamaw Selby passed away, and I miss her every time I think of Selby’s dad’s side of the family.

This year we lost Mamaw McGee.  She was such a sweet lady with a kind spirit.   She fought cancer for many years, and along with battling other health issues, she finally succumbed and went to meet her Savior.  I never heard her complain, and I never saw her in distress.  I think only those who were very close to her knew when she was in pain because they could see it on her face.  Toward the end, questions on everyone’s minds were “Why does she have to suffer so?” or “Why does God not take her Home now?”.

I cannot attempt to sufficiently answer the question of suffering.  I do know that this body that we live in has been corrupted by sin – 1 Corinthians 15:42-43″…Sown in corruption…Sown in dishonor…sown in weakness”, but at the resurrection from the dead that we will be able to benefit from if we are in Christ we will be “…raised in incorruption…raised in glory…raised in power”  I do know that Mamaw is not suffering now…and that she will one day receive a body that is free of that cancer that plagued her for so many years.

I do believe that we all have a purpose here on earth, and I believe sometimes that purpose can be fulfilled through other people while we are here.  Mamaw McGee was a wonderful Christian wife, mother, church member, etc…  I put it that way not to downplay what she was in each of these roles, but because of the thing that may stick with me for the rest of my life, what may stick with many others, is what transpired toward the end of her life.  Due to an aneurysm and her cancer she was in need of around the clock care and was placed in Catherine’s Place, an assisted living facility in Fayetteville.  This facility is very nice with nurses that seem to care a great deal about the patients living there.  Mamaw wasn’t able to communicate really well and had trouble with the day-to-day things of life.  Burton would go by every day to be with his wife, to check on her and spend time with her.   Kathy (Selby’s mom), Greg, and Brenda (Selby’s uncle and aunt) would go by to check on her, feed her meals to her, and spend time with her.  They were often her advocates when it came to getting the right medicines since she couldn’t communicate for herself.  What I saw was a testament to who she was.  Why in the world would her husband and children take such good care, such loving care, of her unless she had been a good wife and mother?  The fact that she was at Catherine’s Place was an avenue for this family to share the witness and love of Christ as well.  If Mamaw had not been there, then the nurses at the facility would not have seen the love that Burton, Kathy, Greg and Brenda had for her.  They would not have seen the grandchildren and great-grandchildren of this special lady pile in to see her even when it was hard to see her.  It was hard to see her suffer, but I had to believe that somehow God was not through with her yet.  I saw in Kathy what I already knew – she is a loving woman, capable of putting aside her own needs for those she loves.  I saw in Greg what I think I knew, but now I know for sure.  He is a godly man who when confronted with the hard things in life steps up and takes care of his family, but with such a tender touch.  In all of this grounded in me a responsibility for my own parents as they age, and my prayer is that God will give me as much grace as He has given this family.

1 Corithians 15:58 Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.

There are many people in my life that I have watched through the years battle sickness or challenges that have been astoundingly unshaken in the midst of their trials.  My Dad had colon cancer – had 18 inches of his colon removed and chemotherapy afterward – and except for the recovery time after his surgery, he never skipped a beat.  At church we have Judy Gray, Debbie White, Larry Morrell, Ginger Garren, and many others that have had some sort of sickness or challenge, but have refused to say “Woe is me!”, but instead say, “God is with me!”  They understand that God sometimes doesn’t lead us around the valley, He holds our hand through it.  These trials not only make our hearts stronger, they make our witness stronger also.  We can be steadfast because our God is – He is unchanging.  We can be immovable because our faith is built on a solid foundation.   Because of these things, we can fill every day with the work of the Lord, so much that it overflows into every aspect of our lives, and it will not be in vain.  I see who Judy, Larry, Kathy, Greg, and my Dad are, and who Mamaw was.  The way they live is a witness to who their Savior is – their labor is not in vain at all – because if I see it, the world sees it also and will wonder how they can be so strong in the face of such adversity.  And that is just another opportunity to tell them the who

I can only pray that if or when I am faced with the trials that these people have faced, I will be able to say to my God that I will walk through anything He leads me through with praise and thanksgiving because I know that He is holding my hand.


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Forever Trusting – The Good Shepherd

John 10:14 I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, 15 just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep. 16 And I have other sheep that are not of this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd. 17 For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life that I may take it up again. 18 No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This charge I have received from my Father.”…27 My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. 28 I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. 29 My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. 30 I and the Father are one.”

What a fitting description of what Jesus is to us – the Good Shepherd.  Not just a shepherd, but a good one.  If you take a look at another very important shepherd passage – Psalm 23 – you’ll see all the things that a Good Shepherd does for His sheep.

First he provides for the sheep’s needs -” 1 The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. 2 He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. 3 He restores my soul.”   There are many things we require as human beings that we can rely on in Christ – if we will only have faith that He will take care of us.  That is not to say that we will not have rough times or that we will have everything that our little hearts desire, but if we will pray to be in His will, God will be faithful to supply our needs.  I have seen it way too many times in my own life to not believe that.  Sometime our needs are not necessarily tangible, but more so in the mental, emotional, or rest categories.  God can supply these also – I have to admit that I have more trouble trusting that I can let go of things and allow God to take over and resolve them.  The Apostle Paul believed this concept wholeheartedly, even when he was in prison, awaiting trial, he still believed and claimed it for the Philippian church: Philippians 4:19 “And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus”. (emphasis mine)

The Good Shepherd also provides direction -“3b He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.”  I don’t know how much you know about sheep, but from what I have been told, they are not the smartest animal in the world, and I am sure no matter how well a path is marked, they will wander off.  Selby and I like to hike, and we have several books on hiking, and when we are going to an area that is unknown to us, we like to do research on the area so we are somewhat familiar with it before we go.  These books and the research on the trails often give descriptions of the trails, give landmarks to go by and often tell what color blaze that trail will be marked with.  But sometimes it seems, even with all the information we are armed with, when we get to the trailhead, it is hard to see where to start because the trail is not well-worn.  It therefore is easy to get off the trail, wander off and end up not where we expected to be, only to have to reassess where we are so we can attempt to get back on the trail.  Thank goodness for the colored blazes – often times we find these when we are back tracking and find ourselves on the trail again.  Thank goodness for the Holy Spirit and the Spirit breathed Word of God.  We have the Holy Spirit within us guiding us on a daily basis if we will just let Him.  He will gently guide us on the right path.  Sometimes we need a good whack on the flank to remind us where the right path is, so don’t be surprised if that gentle direction changes to stern correction.  We also have the Bible as our guide-book – showing us the way, with directions on the right way to live and also warnings to keep us from the dangers of this world.  But, a guide-book with directions  and warnings is no help if it lies gathering dust on a shelf.  Immerse yourself in it – there are so many things you can glean about the path and also about the Shepherd Himself.

Another function of the Good Shepherd is that He protects and comforts us: Take a look at Verse 4:” Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.”  What imagery!  The valley of the shadow of death – I don’t know about you, but when I really picture this, it gives me goosebumps – that watching-a-suspense-movie-ready-for-something-to-jump-out-at-me feeling.  It is not a warm and fuzzy, fear-no-evil kind of feeling.  But just picture it again, with Christ, the one who died and rose again – literally conquered death – walking right beside you. Kind of like having IronMan, Captain America, Thor, and Hulk all walking around you – but better. This picture makes the goosebumps and willies go away.  The shepherd’s rod and staff have important functions.  The rod was a kind of club that was mainly used for protection from wild animals or from human thieves.  It also could be used to guide from afar if the shepherd saw the sheep wandering – it would be thrown to send the sheep running in the correct direction.  It could also be thrown to keep the sheep from dangers such as cliff areas or poisonous plants they should not eat.  The staff was a long, slender stick that usually had a crook at the end.  It was for guiding sheep and for aiding sheep in trouble by using the crook end to lift them out of danger.  These tools had other functions also, but you get the idea of how important they were to the welfare of the sheep.  He guides us and protects us.  He corrects us and brings us back into the fold even if we wander – because we are never “out of His hand”.

In the earlier John passage, Christ said; “I lay my life down for the sheep.”  Do you think any other shepherd on earth could make this claim?  If an earthly shepherd did this, then his flock would surely meet its doom.  But our shepherd – the Good Shepherd is one like no other – one whose sacrifice saved us and gives us the assurance of eternal life.  One that allows us to have faith that nothing can keep us from the love of God.

Romans 8:35-39 restates this assurance: “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? 36 As it is written,“For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.”37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

We have confidence in this “Deut. 31:8 It is the Lord who goes before you. He will be with you; he will not leave you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.”.  A shepherd was an occupation like none other – the majority of their lives was lived with their sheep –  Watching over them, providing for them, protecting them, living among them.  Their lives, their welfare was his responsibility.  His presence was calming for the sheep, because they knew him – they knew his voice, and knew that he was there and would not leave them.  And we too, having heard the voice of Christ can have the assurance that He will never leave us or forsake us.

Don’t you just want to thank Him for that?


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Forever Reflecting

Selby starting looking for a house to purchase about a year before we got married.  Although I wasn’t going to be living in it just yet, he involved me in the search process, and when we found a house that we both thought we could make a home once we did get married, he made an offer, the owners accepted, they signed the papers, and Selby became the owner of the house.  At the beginning, we did different things to spruce it up – like tearing down wallpaper and painting rooms.  Now that we have been living here for 10+ years, we have accumulated Stuff – you know the Stuff you don’t know what to do with…  And just what do you do with all this paper?  I have the type of personality that I need for there to be a place for everything.  And when there’s not, it drives me a bit batty.  You’ve seen those Celebrating Home or Better Home and Gardens homes – well, my house is NOT like that, but sometimes it really frustrates me that I can’t be that way.  Don’t get me wrong – it’s not the things in those magazines – it’s the order that those pictures represent.  Over the years we have taken on several different home improvement projects, and I keep thinking, “when we are finished, maybe…”.  One day I feel that we will be able to finished what we started with this house, and I will finally be satisfied – maybe not necessarily with the house, but with the feeling of finishing something we started so many years ago.

So why the rant?  I have a point.  I promise.

Sanctification – we are, we are being, and we will be perfectly sanctified.

When we turn to Christ, recognizing that our hearts are covered in sin, and we ask for forgiveness that only He can give because of His precious blood sacrifice on the cross for us, we are bought and paid for – the papers are signed and sealed and we are His. 1 Corinthians 6:11 “And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.”  Washed. Justified – made right in the sight of the Lord.   We are sanctified – set apart for God’s purpose for us.

Even though we are set apart, we are obviously not perfect – just like any house you buy or build is probably not going to be perfect.  We have flaws and we cave to pressure and sin, and sometimes we even hoard those sins or bad habits.  The concept of being initially sanctified (saving grace through faith – the foundation) and then also being progressively or continuously sanctified is that we fix our eyes on Christ in order to keep our hearts from getting cluttered with the things of this world.  We do heart improvement by studying His Word and spending time in prayer and by spending time with other believers in worship.  Keep in mind that this part of the process is completely separate from the paper signing…we do this not so He’ll keep the deed, but because He already holds and cherishes it.  Sometimes I find myself comparing my Christian walk to a fellow believer’s walk.  I have to remind myself that just like the houses in the magazine, that person may have some rooms with Stuff hidden in them, so it is best for me to just follow Christ the best way I know how, using Him as the ultimate example.  Following others as an example is fine, but setting them up as the model of perfection is not the way to go because no human on earth is perfect.

One day – we will be perfect.  One day He will come for us and this process of sanctification will be complete.  We will be free from the sin that makes our life messy and miserable.  One day we will be like Christ who perfectly reflects the Father.  We will be able to serve and worship our God perfectly just like how we were created and we will love every minute of it.

In the meantime…”He’s still working on me, to make me what I ought to be….”

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