Posts Tagged ‘Christianity’

 

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Me, how I used to be in traffic. I’m almost totally never like that nowadays… 😏 *cough cough*

I’ve always had a weakness for dark or dirty jokes. I think they’re hilarious, and I’m dangerously good at making new ones. The allure is, of course, that most other people think they’re hilarious too. Few things are more fun than making people laugh.

The problem is the Bible tells us to be mindful of our speech. The power of words is vast, so if we are to win others for Christ, we have to be careful what we say. The quality of our witness is critical. It has to be genuine and sincere – not faked when we’re around non-believers. (I’ve been known to act one way behind closed doors and another when I’m in plain view. Instead, God wants us to be the real deal all the time.)

Ever heard the saying, “What goes into the mind also comes out?” Lately, God’s been showing me just how true that is. Dirty memes and pictures, foul language – all of it will enter your mind and make it easy to act in ways you shouldn’t.

Want pure thoughts? Want peace? Want praying to be easier? (I do!) Be intentional about what you’re exposed to.

I got rid of sooo many dirty memes and other inappropriate content from my phone. Even things that weren’t necessarily dirty, but were hateful or angry. Political content – including stuff I agree with – can be damaging because it stirs up anger. I’m tired of hearing negative things about people. I don’t care if they think differently than I do. I’ll save my opinions for respectful discourse, if it happens. And if it doesn’t, I’ll put my frustrations to bed.

I love making people laugh, but if the joke is dirty, it’s not worth ruining my witness. I want people to see Jesus in my life. I want them to experience Him like I have, and I want them to live a renewed, fulfilled life for all eternity.

Paul was my spirit-animal when he said, “I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.” (Romans 7:15)

Literally me every day.

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Last Monday, the church held a staff retreat at Sharptop Cove up in Jasper, Georgia. As you can see, I brought my drone. Fantastic place to fly.

Anyway, we had a devotion about making the most of our joy in Christ. And I’ve got to give credit where it’s due: I didn’t come up with this. I’m really just reiterating what I learned. But it’s too good to keep to myself, believe me.

I’ll be honest about something else, too. I haven’t experienced much joy in a long time. I can’t sit here and tell you it’s been a hard summer, because it hasn’t. Actually, all things considered, it’s been a great summer. It’s just that I’ve fallen into some bad habits, and it’s taken a toll on my quality of life. I’ve allowed things – stupid things – to rob me of my joy.

I certainly subscribe to the philosophy that Christians can choose to have joy. If we choose to take certain steps, we can enable ourselves to have a good attitude. And of course it follows that, as Christians, we can always find joy in Christ if we try(something I haven’t done often lately).

So, what can one do to experience joy? Well, onething you can do is recognize things and experiences that help you notice God’s presence. For me (I made a list), those things include:

  • Having coffee in the morning
  • Helping my dad at his farm
  • Walking through the woods and taking pictures
  • Getting lunch with my mom
  • Meaningful, peaceful, thoughtful conversations
  • Reading a good book
  • Writing
  • Spending time with my family at Hillcrest (our farm in Virginia) or Rockwood (my dad’s farm in Georgia)
  • The atmosphere of Thanksgiving and Christmas

I know the list made me look like a softie, but hear me on this: Those are a few of the things that help me notice God’s presence, and they bring me tremendous joy. Joy not merely because they’re enjoyable, but also because they add perspective and awareness of God’s presence. When it comes to the believer, a calm mind is a mind that’s open to the Holy Spirit.

But what about things that rob me of joy? Most of those involve me sinning or dwelling on something negative. I made a list of those too:

  • Watching too many YouTube videos: I was in the habit of spending hours each day watching political videos or videos of cops arresting “sovereign citizens” or people getting into fights. It’s entertaining, but it poisons the soul. I ended up just deleting the YouTube app from my phone because I couldn’t keep myself from opening it.
  • Being late: Sometimes I’m late, and it frustrates me to death.
  • Spending too much time playing with my phone: Seriously, no lie. I’ve gone to family gatherings and ruined my experience because I spent the whole time looking at my phone. Complaining about it sounds like something an old person would say – I know. But believe me. When you spend too much time on your phone, you miss everything. You might as well not even be there because your mind isn’t. A lot of what you miss is sacred, and you’ll never get it back.
  • Skipping my quiet time or church: If you’re not being fed, not only will you not grow as a Christian, but you’ll actually shrink. And that was definitely my situation this summer.

My list was actually longer than that, but you get the idea. Make changes that’ll help you focus on the Lord, and be filled with joy!

As a Christian, I want people to recognize the uniqueness of my relationship with Christ. Lately, I know that hasn’t been the case, and I’m so sorry for it. But now that my joy has been restored, I’m confident that brighter days are on the horizon.

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Let me start by pointing out that guilt and conviction are two different things. Conviction is when you are made aware of sin by the Holy Spirit and urged to repent, whereas guilt is a finger pointed at you by Satan to cause discouragement. It’s important to remember that, and it’s frightening how easy it is to forget.

Sometimes spiritual warfare looks like this: You make a mistake – some kind of sin – and you ask God to forgive you. But you keep feeling bad about it, and you get frustrated because you wish you could take it back. Amidst your frustration, you lose perspective of God’s mercy, and that makes it easier to slip up again. Then, if you do slip up, you get even more frustrated. In the back of your mind, you might feel like God’s presence is no longer with you, that He’s punishing you by ignoring you. Or perhaps you’ll even buy into the lie that God won’t have anything to do with you until you deal with your sin – sin you’ve already asked forgiveness for.

And so, it continues in a cycle. You sin, you feel guilty, you get frustrated, you sin again, you feel guilty again, you get more frustrated. You pray and feel like you’re talking to a wall (which is always due to a loss of perspective, by the way), which frustrates you even more. Then you sin again, and it goes on and on and on.

I think this is why some Christians backslide. They get so discouraged that they give up.

Ignore the Accuser’s lies. The illusion of being abandoned due to sin is a farce. The Bible says God doesn’t accuse us like that, especially in such a way that delivers so much pain. We are free because of what Christ has done for us. (Have a look at Hebrews 4:16.)

It should happen like this instead: You sin, then ask God to forgive you and help you do better next time. After that, you recognize that you’re free and forgiven, and you praise Him for it. And then, finally, you move on. Embracing your freedom is part of what gives you the correct perspective. God’s not looking down at you angrily – of course not!

That isn’t to say sin isn’t bad and won’t elicit cause-and-effect consequences. That just comes with the territory. I’m purely talking about how God sees you.

Don’t underestimate the power of His love – that unlimited, unconditional, eternal love.