Don’t ignore your cracks

Seven years. That’s how long the cracks had been in my windshield. It all started with a small chip in the center of the windshield. Because I never took care of the small chip, over the years, it grew and grew until it ended up with three different long lines across my windshield. One line was across the driver’s side but was just low enough it didn’t impair my driving. The other two were on the passenger side, eventually growing long enough they intersected. These lines had been there so long I no longer noticed them except on the rare occasion I found myself on the passenger side and had to try to look through them. Since I could see to drive just fine, it was not a priority for me to fix it, not wanting to spend the time or money.

Last year, though, after we did our taxes and knew we were going to be getting some money back, I prayed and asked God how He wanted us to use the money. He clearly told me to fix the windshield. When the tax refund came, I pushed through the inner struggle of not wanting to put money towards it and instead, walked in obedience and scheduled the appointment.

When I got back in to my car after having the new windshield put in, the whole feel of the car had changed. My view was so much clearer now. I hadn’t even realized the impact of the cracks in the windshield until they weren’t there anymore. I had become so comfortable with the cracks that even as they grew, I looked right past them. As I was driving away from the shop, I heard God speak to me. “Just like the cracks in your windshield, you have cracks in your life you are overlooking.”

Cracks are those areas in life where you have opened yourself up to allowing sin to come in. It can start out with small cracks in your foundation. Not making time to read your Bible. Not surrounding yourself with the body of believers by attending church. Not taking time to pray and spend time with God. It can begin by hanging out with old friends who pull you away from godly things, going to websites or apps that lead you in to old behaviors. Small cracks lead in to bigger lines in your life, those areas that you become comfortable with the sin that you have let in.

For me, God showed me two cracks in my life that needed to be dealt with. The first was allowing offenses to come in to my marriage and not dealing with them right away. The second was allowing the enemy to speak in to my self-worth instead of listening to what God says about who I am.

Do you have cracks in your life that need to be dealt with? Are there areas that you have allowed sin to start to creep in, maybe even convincing yourself it isn’t really sin or convincing yourself it isn’t really that bad, that it is small on the sin scale (as if there is a sin scale in God’s eyes)? Or maybe you have some cracks you don’t even notice anymore. Are there areas you have become comfortable with sin in your life and because it isn’t being dealt with, it is slowly growing and growing, allowing more and more in?

Take the time today to ask God to help you do inventory and show you your cracks. Whether they are just starting out or whether they are already big lines in your life, He wants to work in your life to not just cover them up, but to completely heal them, remove them and make those areas new and stronger than before.



What is Christmas to you?

Isaiah 9:6 For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given; And the government will be upon his shoulder and His name will be Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

Not surprisingly, December has been full of talk of Christmas. Conversations in meetings at work turn to getting ready for Christmas, people lament over how the Christmas lists made by their kids or grandkids get more and more expensive every year, and they stress over finding and affording those perfect gifts. Shows my son has been watching all throughout December are all about Christmas, usually ending with the characters finding the true meaning of Christmas – spending time with those we love.

All these conversations and shows have got me thinking a lot lately about what Christmas really means to me. If I were to be honest, many times in my life, Christmas would be a time of stress and I would too often find myself looking forward to when the season would be over. Have you ever found yourself in that place? Things are busy at work, there are kids Christmas programs and parties, gifts to buy for all we love, travel plans to make, or a house to get ready for house guests. So much going on.

Buying things for those we love and getting to spend time with family and friends are good things. But is that what Christmas is about? For me, the answer is no. Not anymore. At least, it isn’t what I want it to be to me as a follower of Christ. To me, Christmas is all about CHRIST. It is a day to celebrate the life of Jesus, the only perfect gift, a gift of heaven to a fallen world. I don’t want to allow myself to get so caught up in all the other stuff, all the busyness, that I lose sight of that.  As I take the time to reflect and remember His birth and His life and what it means for me, it leaves me longing for His return.

I know firsthand that even as Christians, it can be easy to fall in to the world’s view of Christmas, making your lists, stressing over making the holiday perfect. It can be easy to fall in to the fun of Santa, teaching our kids about him and how he watches over everything they do all year to determine if they are worthy of good gifts or not. The truth is, though, there has only been one perfect gift and it came from a Savior who already knows we are not worthy and chose to come be among us and die for us anyway. He is worthy to be honored and celebrated, not just this one day, but every day.

This Christmas, as you are enjoying time with your family and friends, giving and receiving gifts, make sure to be intentional about spending time in reflection and remembrance of the birth of our Savior. For those with kids and grandkids, make sure they know the TRUE meaning of Christmas. Let it be a day of remembrance that He chose to be among us, to be born, not in a place or position of royalty, but humbly as a sacrifice and servant. He chose to come in to the world of darkness to be the light so we wouldn’t have to walk in darkness anymore. Let it fill your heart with thankfulness for Him and fill you with the longing for His return. 

Isaiah 9:2 The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; Those who dwelt in the land of shadow of death, upon them a light has shined.

 John 1:14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.

Zechariah 9:9 Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your King is coming to you; He is just and having salvation, Lowly and riding on a donkey, a colt, the goal of a donkey.

 Revelation 22:20 He who testifies to these things says , “Surely I am coming quickly.” Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

#Jesusisthereasonfortheseason #truemeaningofChristmas #Itsallabouthim #Christmas #ChristinChristmas

Post originally written and posted to FVCBlog #EverythingundertheSon

The True Gift

Christmas. It’s been on every one’s mind. Talk all month has been about getting ready, what gifts to buy, how to afford what the loved ones want, how to make this year special, how to fit in all the traditions.

Earlier this month, I had written out a blog post that is set to be posted right before Christmas. The post is about how Christmas is really all about Christ; how it is a time to celebrate His birth and remember and reflect all He has done. We even did the Giving Manger with our son, trying to instill in him that Christmas is not about receiving, but about celebrating the birth of Christ through giving to others.

It all sounds so great, so religious, so virtuous.

Then it happened. Money that we expected, that was owed to us, that had been budgeted already, didn’t come in. I sat down, re-did the budget, and all bills that needed to be paid were paid. There was no left over. No Christmas money for presents for my kids and grandkids. I tried moving things around to get a different result. It just wasn’t there.

I knew in my heart that the person didn’t intentionally mean any harm to us. It was a life lesson for them and thankfully God used us to help them learn it instead of someone else who would have responded differently. I struggled, though, with being angry. I struggled with not allowing the anger to take root and turn in to bitterness.

God, though, had already been preparing my heart for this. I had been reading through the Bait of Satan, which dealt with offense. Instead of allowing myself to wallow in my anger, I dug in to Scripture, I prayed, I turned to God. He responded with talking to me through Bible study, which happened to be about humility that week, He talked to me through Wednesday night service, which reminded me I am a debtor.

Then He reminded me of the blog post I had written, that was sitting there on my computer, waiting for the week of Christmas to be posted. My own words were about how giving and receiving gifts were good things, but how Christmas to me is about CHRIST. It isn’t about the gifts that I can or cannot buy for those I love.

My anger was gone. No offense could take root. My eyes were back on Him.

Then, He moved in ways I wasn’t expecting. Gifts were given to me for my son from someone else. We went to community events where we got to pick out gifts for our son and granddaughter. Work events led to more gifts. Unexpected finances came in. We ended up with more than we originally had planned.

Many would say God blessed us through getting those gifts and unexpected finances. The true blessing that I received, though, was in how He gave me the Bible study and Wednesday night teachings to remind me of His truths and how He met me during the late-night Scripture readings. That is the blessing in this, that He didn’t leave me in my anger, which would lead to roots of bitterness through offense. He filled me with His truths and helped me bring my eyes back on Him. The rest of the stuff were all benefits He chose to give us right now.

When I say that Christmas to me is about Christ, I believed that was what was really in my heart. I know that I know that I know now that I truly mean it. I have moved from untested faith to tested faith. I didn’t walk it perfectly, but I did walk it and came out with my eyes on Him. 

#TrueGift #ChristmasisaboutChrist #blessinguponblessing

Don’t Follow Your Heart

Jeremiah 17:9 “The heart is more deceitful than anything else, and incurable – who can understand it?”

During our town’s community days this year, my son was given a big red heart on a stick. It was for an advertisement of the medical group that had recently built a hospital in our little town. A few weeks later, shortly after eating lunch, my son grabbed the heart and began playing with it. I gave him the five-minute warning to get ready for quiet time. Knowing that “quiet time really meant nap time, he tried to argue with me, telling me he didn’t want nap time. I reminded him, as I had done other days when there had been a resistance, that he needed quiet time every day to give his body some time to rest and recharge. I then reiterated, though a little sterner this time, that he had five more minutes to play.

I thought the issue was settled as I watched him walk over to his toddler-sized rocking chair and take a seat. He sat for a few moments in silence, looking down at the floor. Then, still looking down at the floor, not wanting to make eye contact with me, he slowly raised the heart on a stick and said, “My heart says no nap today.” I laughed and said, “Sorry, son. Your heart is misleading you in this case.”

While the interaction with my son was funny and full of toddler adorableness, it stuck with me and left me meditating on how much my own heart misleads me. Sometimes, my heart steers me towards things that may not seem all that bad; things that I feel would make me happy. My heart wants the life of comfort, the bigger house, the newer car, a secure and financially rewarding job. My heart tells me I deserve all these things. Those things are not bad in and of themselves, but you see, my heart tends to make these things idols, putting them above God in my life, sometimes without me even realizing it.

My heart also stirs towards revenge and retaliation when I am hurt or wronged, even when is it my own husband (or should I say, especially when it is him or someone close to me), toward someone who has caused me pain. Really, in most cases, at the center of my heart is selfishness and self-focus. It definitely isn’t always God-focused.

Jeremiah 17:9 says, “The heart is more deceitful than anything else, and incurable – who can understand it?” Matthew 15:19 says, “For from the heart come evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, sexual immoralities, thefts false testimonies, slander.”

Thankfully, though, there is hope. In Ezekiel 36:26-27, God gives the promise “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will remove your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. I will place my Spirit within you and cause you to follow my statutes and carefully observe my ordinances.”

As I press more and more in to God, building my relationship with Him by reading His Word, walking in obedience, and repenting when I miss the mark, He gives me a new heart, one that has His Spirit. With this new heart, my focus starts becoming less and less about me and becomes more and more about Him.

#Dontfollowyourheart #heartisdeceitful #newheart #heartofflesh