Saturday, April 01, 2017

Like Storms Without Rain

How do we know the difference between the Holy Spirit's conviction over sin and the Accuser's game of guilt-shaming? I've been thinking about this for a few days. 

This morning after the kids went to school, the sky got very dark. The wind blew the tops of the trees and the live oak leaves that have been dropping all over my yard. Thunder rumbled. It seemed to be that way for two hours with no rain. These are the perfect conditions for my tornado-phobic self to start panicking. As the pressure builds outside it also builds in my chest. Stormy conditions without rain make me the most afraid. 

Finally, the clouds released the rain. Some small hail came down with it. It bounced off part of the roof and clinked against my kitchen windows. After about five minutes it was just rain. The thunder was gentle. My anxiety was relieved. 

I put Willa down in her perfectly dark nursery for her nap. My bed wasnt made yet, so I crawled in it and went to sleep to the sound of the rain. No need for a noisemaker.

When I woke up, all the trees in our new backyard were perfectly still and everything looked washed and clean. For now, there is no yellow layer of pollen on every outdoor surface. My kids' days old chalk art is finally gone. 

The Spirit's work of conviction is to bring repentance and restoration. Like the storm with rain, there is an end result of peace, cleansing and life. 

The Accuser's work of guilt and shame does not result in iife. There is no cleansing to be had. He bullies with thunderous threats until we hide in our deepest closets. He digs up old stuff we brought to the Lord long ago. We almost can't see Jesus through the fear, anxiety and dread. 

Because Jesus sacrificed his life on the cross for the forgiveness of our sins and rose again, we don't have to cooperate with Satan's guilt game. Jesus has given us the Holy Spirit to do the divine work of showing us our sin, cleansing our consciences and helping us grow toward Christ-likeness. 

The work of conviction can be difficult and painful, but there is always, always, always peace, life, and relief at the end. Let's cooperate with the Spirit and reject the shame game.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Boxing on Sundays

This is a post for my imaginary pastor's wife friends in cyberspace. I don't know your names or faces but I feel like I know you. And you know me. Some days we feel like we've been given the greatest lot in life and other days we want to warn others thinking about entering ministry to run far, far away! Haha. Don't run from God though. Seriously. He is worth anything He has called you to. 

I recently figured out a pattern that happens on many Sunday mornings. Maybe you've experienced this. You get up early to meet with Jesus. You've learned along the way not to sacrifice your own intimacy with Him in order to serve others. Plus, you know how badly you need that time because kids, bad hair days, unexpected freeway closures, people without filters, etc. Then you're washing your hair, blow drying it, straightening it, maybe even putting it in hot rollers for a minute if you like a southern look. 

A conversation starts happening in your head. It sounds like your voice and you're talking to someone. Maybe several someones. It isn't how you normally speak to people. It sounds defensive and self-protective. A little argumentative. You try to shake it off but in a few minutes you're having imaginary conversations again. Your blood pressure is on the rise and the expression on your face while you put on your makeup is not cute. You wipe the corner of your eye because you got a little misty feeling sorry for yourself. 

Hold up.

You realize it might be helpful to turn on some worship music, so you try that. But your good-for-nothing, cracked, already outdated one-year-old phone decides it doesn't want to play any music. Gah! 

What is happening? 

While you were getting ready for church, the enemy derailed you into training for a boxing match. He was in your ear coaching you, motivating you to knock the crap out of that punching bag. Practice now so when the moment comes, you'll know exactly what to say. You always regret holding your tongue, don't you? Be ready! Be on your toes! 

This is so tragic. Your pure-hearted devotion to Christ got twisted into something aggressive and angry. You were really looking forward to worshipping with your church family. You had it in your heart to encourage a few sisters who had a difficult week. You had asked God to guide your prayers for people and make them effective. And then this! Is this what's really in your heart? Should you even be in ministry? 

Girl, you've been in a battle. Someone does need knocking out and it's the Accuser who's been bad-mouthing your brethren. I pray God will help you and me recognize these Sunday morning attacks and teach us how not to play along with them. Worship music helps so much! Have you heard it said that worship is warfare? I love that thought. Vanquish him with your loud, glorious voice praising your God! My voice doesn't sound glorious to me, but I believe it sounds good to Him. Put on the armor of God according to Ephesians 6 as soon as you wake up. It would be better to be a couple minutes late than to walk on the battlefield without it.  

When I think about Sunday mornings in my parents' house, I can hear my mom's music blasting and I can see her scurrying through the house with at least one arm lifted in the air. All this in a fog of hairspray, of course. She looked pretty in her Sunday clothes, but she was waging war. I love it. 

Be blessed, my friend!