Monday, November 10, 2014

Dirty Deeds (Of The Heart)

de·file - to corrupt the purity or perfection of

Doesn't sound pretty. Defilement. And yet we live in a constant state of it. We're always sullying ourselves and creating a mess out of things in our lives. True defilement comes straight from the heart. Our hearts are the manufacturers of all things evil: murder, adultery, theft, etc (Matthew 15:18-19). The Bible tells us in Jeremiah 17:9 that the heart is the most deceitful thing in this world. Most of the time, our hearts are straight-up rotten to the core. We allow so much to build up in them—resentment, aggression, arrogance—we leave no room for the love of each other that they are meant to hold (Mark 12:31).

It seems as if some people think that they can fake having a pure heart. We all know someone like this, someone that pretends they are the most humble, genuine Christian out there; when in reality they have more bitterness stored up than a whole box of grapefruits. The problem with secret sin is this: it's really not a secret. God knows the hearts of men (1 Samuel 16:7). Nobody can sneak anything past Him. There's no wool over His eyes.

The worst thing about this sin of the heart is that God can not endure having anything so defiled in His presence. Only those with a pure heart may enter the Kingdom of God (Revelation 21:27). The good news is that Jesus can wash our hearts so that they are white as snow (Isaiah 1:18). But afterward we need to be careful. Careful not to allow evil thoughts to continue to control our hearts. These things will only serve to hurt us in the long run. I mean, really. Having a vendetta against someone who rained on your parade years ago is doing no harm to them. It is only hardening and suffocating your own heart.

Constantly surrendering yourself to the Will of God and pursuing His desires is the best bet for keeping away from a dirty, stinky heart. In Matthew 5, those with a pure heart are called blessed. I don't know about you, but I'd like to be blessed in the eyes of the Lord of the universe!

Psalm 51:10 needs to be my daily prayer: Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.


Jackelyn Stange

Had to try out the new tag, woot! ;-P

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Are You Afraid Of The Dark?

The thing about fear is that it haunts you. Once it has you in its grip, it holds tight and won't let you go. It is so easy to fall into a spirit of fear. And so desperately hard to remove yourself from fear's grasp. It strangles you, suffocates you,until there is nothing left of you but a whimpering, cowering pool of pain.

Everyone's fears are different. Some of us have silly fears, some of us have very real fears of legitimate danger. Some of us (like myself) have a broad assortment of fears that range from the silly fear of drive thrus to the breath-constricting fear of heights to the immobilizing and life-shattering fear of losing my family. Those certainly aren't the extent of my fears, they're simply the ones that stand out in my mind. Some days I feel as if I'm afraid of everything‒spiders, failure, poverty‒just to name a few more that are close to my heart.

Here's the thing. Fear should never guide you. It should never determine the pattern of your days. Fear can be a good thing. It is meant to keep us from making stupid, life-threatening choices, but it was never meant to rule us.

We are God's warriors. We're fighting a spiritual battle every day of our lives. When we let fear overtake us, we are allowing Satan to win. God's Will for us is to be courageous and to dwell in His power and love, not in fear (2 Timothy 1:7).

Something I've heard several times lately that's really struck me is this: What is the worst that can happen to us? We could die. And then we would be in Heaven. Which is the BEST thing that can happen to us!

Too true. Too many of us live day to day in fear of losing this world we live in now. But this world is a mere shadow of what is to come. Jesus will establish His kingdom in a perfected world. It will be so much BETTER than anything we've ever known or seen on this perishing planet.

God is with us. He will never leave us (Deuteronomy 31:6). We needn’t be afraid. If God is for us, who can be against us (Romans 8:31)? What can mere men do to us when we have the Almighty by our side (Psalm 118:6)?

I love this quote from the book I'm reading. Outlaw by Ted Dekker:

“I knew that my Father was perfect and that nothing imperfect could have come from that perfection, much less threaten it in any way. I was safe. Saved. Now.
Weeping with gratitude and relief, I became aware that I had dropped to my knees and was shaking as unending waves of power and peace coursed through my body. Fear was as foreign to me as the sky might be to a deep-sea fish; I was swimming in a lake of raw love, pulsing with light and ecstasy.”