The Situation

Thank you for those that have been faithful and kept reading the blog’s archives while I was away.  I stepped away from the blog for a year because I needed a spiritual renewal. I felt that I couldn’t share anything worthwhile with you until I got my own spiritual heart beating in sync with God again.

During the past year, I’ve also concentrated on the writing course I’ve been taking online for the last two years.  I prayed for God to open the doors and promised that I wouldn’t hesitate to walk through them.  That was an epic fail. I vigorously argued with God in that arena. And lost. Decided I was wasting precious efforts in the arguing and have walked  through those open doors (mostly — hey, I’m human, which means I’m flawed).

The next open door is an invitation to write my first YA novel, one that’s been in my heart and mind since I was 12 years old.  I’m in the active planning stage (meaning, I’m writing stuff on sticky notes, putting up on a storyboard, and doing lots of research) instead of the “just thinking about it stage,” which is, itself, a job that all writers have.  But if I never write it down, revising and negotiating with my characters and their storylines, then it’s just daydreaming and not constructively moving me toward my goal. I have a wonderful Christian writer/editor, Mary Ryan, who is my teacher in the course,  and who encouraged me to go into the Christian fiction genre (one of those open doors I found easy to walk through).

On my personal seeking journey, I wrote the following devotional.  I wrote it for me, but I hope there are others like me out there who need a gentle prompting to be aware of God’s presence in every life situation.

You will find me sharing Scripture from Isaiah frequently. It falls among my favorite books of the Bible, including Jeremiah, Psalms, Proverbs, and Ephesians. I have been devouring the book of Isaiah for the past two months.

Seek the Lord while you may find Him. Call upon Him now while He is near. Isaiah 55:6 (NLT)

I became a Christian at the tender age of nine. I knew and believed the story of my salvation, but I was a “baby” Christian (seeing God’s Word in simplistic, juvenile ways) for a long while — even into my early 30s. I was fed a great deal of “milk” during that time because I couldn’t grasp the real, deep meaning of some of what God had written in His Instruction Book. And to be honest, I wasn’t looking too hard.

Having children changed that. Kids tend to ask a great many “why” questions — surprisingly-deep spiritual questions. At their young age, I could feed them “milk” answers, but in my heart I knew I was going to have to change if I wanted them to be more than “milk feeders”. I decided that I wanted to have a “meat and potatoes” kind of relationship with God — a hardy relationship that forced me into His Word and into His will.  It was hard, but I had the guidance of many God-fearing, scripture-quoting, patient teachers who helped me change my spiritual diet.

If you look at this verse from Isaiah, two questions may bounce around in your head:
Why do I have to find God; doesn’t He know where I am?
Isn’t God always near?

First, God knows where we are at all times, but the reason we often have to seek for (or find) God is because we’re on a journey manufactured by our own devices. We choose our wisdom over that of the omnipotent, almighty Father. We might be in the same BOOK, but not on the same PAGE as God. (Sometimes I was in the wrong LIBRARY in the wrong CITY in the wrong COUNTRY. I know what’s it like to that wrong!)

Secondly, when we are far apart from God, GUESS WHO MOVED? Yep. We did. Detours take us off the path of righteousness and lead us into the depths of despair, depression, and loneliness. BEING APART FROM GOD IS A PUNISHMENT THAT WE INFLICT UPON OURSELVES! God never moves! Thank goodness, He’s never-changing!

The great redemptive glory is the moment we drop on our knees and repent, asking for God to take over and to gather us into His warm, loving embrace — a hug, of sorts, for comfort and healing — He pulls up His “moving van” and moves us to his “home base” immediately.  If you’ll let him, he’ll leave all the extraneous, misguided misinformation behind and set you on a path of righteousness.

My life was completely changed when I gave God control and let Him lead me. I don’t always get it right, but I know enough to recognize the signs when I’m wrong — even when it goes against the popular choice of others. Not allowing God to lead you is like letting “the carrot lead the stick,” as my friend Pastor Eddie Brookshire would say.

I don’t know when He’s coming back, but Jesus IS coming back. It’s imperative that you seek Him while you still have time to find Him. That’s a call for URGENCY!

Calling on Him while He is near is a DIRECTIONAL REMINDER to only go through doors that are opened by God. It insures you will remain in His will and the promptings of the Holy Spirit will be easier to feel; the “still small voice of God” will be heard more clearly.

HAVE YOU EVER HAD A SITUATION WHERE YOU HAD TO LET GOD MOVE YOU BACK INTO HIS WILL? If so, please share your journey in the comments.

I’m praying for you! If you’d like me and my church to pray for you, please leave your request, with details if you’d like, or just leave the word “unspoken” in the comment space.

Have a blessed day. And remember, if God’s not changing your situation, He’s using your situation to change you!

shr

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Soul Survivor

There’s a reason the first three letters in the word DIEt are DIE.  Any diet I’ve ever been on has left me feeling deprived, alone, unhappy, and thinking “I’d rather DIE than go another day eating (or not eating) this way.”  I was always waiting, waiting, waiting for the day that I could ditch the diet meal plan and “eat normally” again.  I should add that what I truly meant was over-eat normally again.

My friend, Michele, and I did a Bible study together that started in January of this year.  This was the beginning of the new me.  If you’ve not read Made to Crave by Lysa TerKeurst, I highly recommend it.  It’s not a “how to” plan, so don’t look for recipes or sample menus in this book.  It’s all about gaining your “want to” where eating healthy is concerned.  This is a woman who has been in our over-sized pants!  She is a woman of God that decided that her temple needed better upkeep and discovered why she couldn’t do it with just will power — because it’s not about will power.  If it was about will power, then some people would do well from sheer determination and others would never leave the comfort of their easy chairs.

Do you want to lose weight?  And if you do, do you know why you want to lose weight?  Do you feel your current weight situation is unfair?  Do you feel like the whole world is conspiring against you?

As a Christian, I honestly have to tell you that my weight loss journey has not just been about the pounds, the food, or the exercise.  It’s mostly been about finding peace — the peace of knowing I am healthier; the peace of knowing that because I feel better, I can be more pro-active in my daily walk with God; the peace of knowing that food is no longer first place in my life and that God is.

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Image Source:  www.crosscards.com

Here are a list of questions I used to make my “soul assessment” at the beginning of our Bible study.  How many of these apply to you?

  • I think about food way too much.
  • My food choices are mostly high in fat and/or sugar.
  • I feel embarrassed about my weight and appearance.
  • The thought of changing how I eat makes me feel sad.
  • I’m reluctant to bring this issue to God.
  • I have gained and lost weight too many times to count.
  • I feel defeated and discouraged about issues that deal with weight or food.
  • I don’t have as much physical energy as I once did and wish I had more.
  • When I need comfort, I turn to food before I turn to God.
  • I say negative things to myself:  “You’re so fat” or “You will never change.”
  • I’m not sure God even cares about how fat I am.
  • I feel guilty or embarrassed about what I eat or the size of my portions.
  • I have health issues that are weight-related.
  • I eat foods that are considered unhealthy several times a week, every week.
  • I am an emotional eater.
  • I sometimes feel like food is more powerful than I am.
  • I sometimes eat in private or hide food.
  • I avoid physically exerting myself.
  • When it comes to food and weight, I feel like I am trapped in a vicious cycle with no way out.

Based on your responses, which of these statements is true for you?  (Remember — be honest because no one will know this but you and you cannot change what you don’t acknowledge!)

  • Issues with food are not waging war on my soul.  I am healthy physically and spiritually.
  • Issues with food are a threat to my soul.  I deal with some of these occasionally.
  • Issue with food are waging an all-out war on my soul.  I have no peace.

Dear friends, you are like foreigners and strangers in this world. I beg you to avoid the evil things your bodies want to do that fight against your soul.  (I Peter 2:11, NCV)

If you know your soul is longing for peace, then I invite you to pray this prayer with me.  It’s my personal prayer from my prayer journal, dated January 1, 2013.  I used to pray it every day and still go back to it when I allow myself to replace God Almighty, who made me to crave Him alone, with the god of food.  I invite you to make it your personal prayer too.

Dear Lord:  You made me, every part of me.  I am wonderful and beautiful.  But I have replaced my love for You with my love for food.  What I realize now is that this has left me empty and lifeless.  I cannot be the person You’ve created me to be because my life is consumed with the folly of Taco Bell, Cheetos, and Samoa Girl Scout cookies.  I am not living to find out what I can do for You, but how I pack ten pints of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream in the outside freezer and then consume them without anyone knowing that I ate them all by myself — including the two I inhaled tonight.  I do not have peace.  I feel like Satan is hammering away at my sanity with this food obsession of mine.  So tonight, I give these things to You because I have proven to myself that I have no will power.  The only power I have is through You.  From the time I was a small child, I learned this scripture:  I can do all things through Christs who gives me strength.  (Philippians 4:13).  Until this second, I have believed that only in part.  When I get discouraged, remind me that I am Your child.  Remind me that I have all I need because of You.  Help me become the Sandy You created me to be.  I ask this prayer in the name of Your son, Jesus Christ, amen.

shr

God “Won” One – The Devil, Zero

Last night (Wednesday), I was privileged to begin a mothers’ Bible study with some really wonderful women.  I could not find a Bible study that I felt met the needs of the young women who expressed a desire to begin this study.  After a great deal of discussion with our pastor at church and upon his urging, I decided to write a Bible study that would bring God‘s love into their lives.  The result is Blessed:  A Bible Study for Mothers Seeking to Know God.

Source:  http://babyjourney.wordpress.com

For the past six weeks or so, the devil has just been pounding me with this week’s lie.  I’ll bet you’ve been hit with this one at one time or another.

Lie #5:  You are not the one to do this job. 

This lie is one which God and I handled pretty well together– until Tuesday night.  I did not sleep because Satan just kept hammering me with this thought.  So I spent Tuesday night into early Wednesday morning praying and in God’s Word.

Source:  www.frogstylebiscuit.com

God knew that I’d need a lot of support, so He sent me emails, texts, and phone calls from prayer warriors in my family and at our church to bolster what I already knew — God doesn’t always call the equipped, but He always equips the called.

Source:  www.blingcheese.com

I actually meant to post this last night, but there was just too much praising the Lord going on for me to get to the computer.  You see, one of these young mothers is my son’s girlfriend, Casey.  She is the mother of my granddaughter, Joshlyn.  As far as I’m concerned, she is my fourth child and I love her so much.  She’s a terrific mother and just a joy to know.  

But we now have a different relationship — she is now my sister-in-Christ!  Yep, Casey is seeking to be baptized and join our church.  (Check us out at www.facebook.com/culbrethmemorialumc )  How is that for a way to begin this Bible study?

Source:  www.tradingphrases.com

I praise the Lord for this blessing, for His loving kindness, and for the wonderful influence Casey has already had on our little group of mothers.  It was Casey’s idea to have a Bible study for mothers and she went out and recruited her friends and family members to come.  She helped me get the materials together and has been the major source of publicity.  I take no credit for this Bible study and give all the praise and glory to my Lord.

We know that in everything God works for the good of those who love Him.  They are the people He called, because that was His plan.  Romans 8:28 (New Century Version)

Source:  www.peaceisgood.net

So, there is peace in my home tonight.  For the time being, the devil is speechless.  I’m going to enjoy that while it lasts.  What kind of peace has the Lord brought to you today?

shr

How Can I Keep from Singing: Let It Rise

Image Credit:  http://mysticgirl.wordpress.com/2010/09/13/i-hate-mondays/

Yesterday was definitely a Monday.  After such a wonderful weekend at our church picnic on Saturday and a phenomenal worship experience on Sunday at church, Monday came down like a thousand-pound weight.  And I got caught under all that weight.

There wasn’t anything earth-shatteringly bad.  It was just a bunch of little things that culminated in this massive burden.  I know I’m not alone in this.  I know that you must feel like this at times.  All these little annoyances:

  • Trying to make a purchase only to find that my card is invalid.  There was questionable activity on the card, so instead of calling me, the bank invalidates the card for my protection.  That’s great…except that all those “questionable” charges were made by me. (I’d been purchasing materials for our upcoming “Mom After God’s Own Heart” Bible study. The bank’s security department said there were too many charges within a specific period of time.  I just think it was the devil trying to discourage me.)
  • Kelly arguing with me about little things   This is so uncharacteristic of this patient, non-confrontational man.  It’s usually me doing the arguing.  I admit that I can knit-pick with the best of them.  Kelly never does.  I almost felt like I was in the Twilight Zone.
  • A cancelled nail appointment.  I don’t have many vices and even less vanity purchases but the one thing I do enjoy is getting my nails done and having a pedicure at the beginning of sandal season.  The appointment was cancelled for a good reason and the nail tech rescheduled it for the end of this week.  But as I looked at my gross feet yesterday with the toenails so long they could be considered lethal weapons, it was just an added disappointment.
  • No wipes in the diaper bag.  While out and about running errands, Joshlyn needed a diaper change.  In the worst way.  I found no wipes in the diaper bag and it was my fault because I didn’t check before I left the house.  It was not pretty — let’s just leave it at that.
  • Trying to come up with dinner plans when I did not plan for dinner.  I’m usually very good about planning dinner because it’s one of the ways we’ve been able to live on less with Kelly being on short-term disability.  When I plan for dinner, no one has to order a pizza or make a border run to Taco Bell.  At 5:30pm, I realized that, in my rush to go out and run errands all day long, I had not given a single thought to late day sustenance.  So, everybody sort of fended for themselves — sandwiches, left-over grilled chicken, and chips, and some peanut butter on crackers.  Not really a bad thing, but I felt a bit guilty. 
  • Lying down for just a “minute” at 6:30pm and waking up this (Tuesday) morning at 6:30am.  And not posting on Monday!  I even had a blog draft ready to go for publishing.  Oh, well…

Fill us with your love every morning.  Then we will sing and rejoice all our lives.  We have seen years of trouble.  Now give us as much joy as you gave us sorrow.  Psalms 90:14-15 (New Century Version)

So, as I made my way to pick up Joshlyn and Casey this morning, I was feeling down — the weight of all of Monday’s problems still pressing against me.  I dropped Casey off at work and she gave me this huge hug and says, “I love you so much.”  (A little weight lifts and my spirit perks up.)  

On the way home, Joshlyn was making these sweet baby sounds.  I remembered to thank God for my beautiful granddaughter and said a little prayer for her as I drove home.  (My spirit is lighter now.)

On the radio, the DJ said, “Here’s little something for your spirit this morning.”  Big Daddy Weave starts singing “Let It Rise” in his bold, slightly raspy voice and it’s almost as if the voice of God said, “That was yesterday.  This is today.  I need you present in the things I have planned for you, so let your praises rise.”

So I will praise you, Lord, among the nations.   I will sing praises to your name.  2 Samuel 22:50 (NCV)

I knew that the draft I had planned to share today would have to wait.  This was a teachable moment for me.  I always advise others to “Let go and let God.”  Today I’m practicing what I preach.

Image Credit:  www.oneyearbibleblog.com

“Let It Rise” (Big Daddy Weave)

shr

RELATED ARTICLES:

“Heart-felt Love” (terry1954)

“Are Your Thank You’s as Passionate as Your “Help Me’s?” (From Pew to Practice)

“Lay Down with Jesus” (Be Better, Not Bitter)

“A Living Hope” (Faithrises)

God Has a Plan for Me…And so Does the Devil

Image Credit:  http://thechangesforlife.blogspot.com

The “new, healthier me” is thrilled that I’ve lost some weight and am getting back in shape.  My doctor was thrilled that I’d decided to make these changes and gave me her consent and approval for all my changes in diet and exercise.  Since I take medication on a regular basis, I knew I’d need her to be aware of anything that might make a difference in my medical condition.  I did not take the steps on this journey lightly or without supervision.  Last week, I shared a list of ten changes I’ve made in the past two months that I attribute to much of my success thus far.

Photo Credit:  www.learnhowtostop.com

What I didn’t share with you at the time are some changes that I’ve not been thrilled about at all.  I’m not thrilled because I believe that the devil has been plotting against me and attacking me in the weakest areas of my life by feeding me lies.  I loved sharing my progress with you last Friday, but on Saturday morning, I got up after only sleeping a few hours and spoke directly to God in the privacy of my bedroom, “I just don’t know if I can do this anymore.”

You see, it’s not only has it been an emotional attack; there have been physical implications for me as well.

Before I started my new regimen, I slept well at night.  I was usually in bed by eleven o’clock at night and up in the mornings by seven o’clock.  My sleep pattern has changed drastically.  If I fall asleep before 1:00am, I’m lucky.  Even when I sleep, it’s fitful.  I have strange dreams that awaken me in the early morning hours.  There are days at a stretch when I just never feel fully rested.

Photo Credit:  www.drgranny.com

My back/leg pain, which is chronic in nature, has become nearly unbearable at times.  I know that my increased physical activity may be contributing to this somewhat.  But it’s more than that.  It’s difficult to put into words — and if you know me, you know I’m never at a loss for words.  It’s just a different kind of pain from the chronic pain I normally experience.

 

Image Credit:  www.trialx.com

Now, I can catch every stomach bug that even looks my way.  I naturally have a sensitive stomach.  But I’ve been sick with one cold after the other, plus I contracted strep throat for the first time in ten years last month.  Now, I’m almost certainly battling spring allergies (which have never been a problem before) and probably a sinus infection, too.  Sometimes the headaches are so bad, they’re almost like migraines.  Along with the headaches, I’ve been nursing a sore throat.  In fact, two weeks before our Easter cantata, I got laryngitis that lasted eight days.  When someone is counting on your voice, you begin to fret.  It did clear up in time for me to sing with the choir, but my voice wasn’t one hundred per cent.

Image Credit: http://theofficebride.blogspot.com

I almost decided to give up — almost.

That afternoon, I got out a book that I read about seven years ago, When Godly People Do Ungodly Things by Beth Moore.  She wrote it as a book first, and then a Bible study, about how Satan plots against us in a cold, calculating manner.  We can all be susceptible to demonic attacks that are more than just casual temptations.  If my God can formulate His plans for me to have a hope and a future, then the devil can work to make a plan for my destruction and failure.  Satan wants what God has.  In fact, Satan wants to be God so badly that any stronghold he can use against a child of God is a direct attack on God, Himself.

Image Credit:  www.booksamillion.com

Let’s take a look at a scripture that I used last week.  God whispered this verse to me when I was having a moment of unbelief about our family’s financial future:

For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart.   Jeremiah 29:11-13 (NKJV)

In When Godly People Do Ungodly Things, Beth Moore writes that Satan knows Scripture and can put his own spin on God’s word.  He might approach that verse in a much different way:

For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the devil, thoughts of unrest and evil, to bring about failure and hopelessness.  Then you will call on your Lord, and pray to Him, but I will keep you from hearing Him.  You will seek His counsel and I will blind you with thoughts of loneliness and devastation.  You will lose your way to God and your heart will be broken, for I know your weaknesses and I will use them to plot your downfall at every turn.

Satan doesn’t want me or you to succeed at anything in which our Heavenly Father will receive all the glory and honor.  Admittedly, there have been times in my past when I have bailed on opportunities to serve God and be used by Him.  That’s what the devil is counting on this time, I’m sure.  But I will be a faithful servant and I will fight Satan every step of the way.

Photo Credit:  http://perceptions.org.pk

I’ve started making a list of the lies the tempter has been trying to feed me since the start of 2012. (It’s not coincidental that this is when I started this blog and shortly thereafter, my journey to becoming healthy.)  I’ve been looking for a new “Life in the Word” focus and I feel led to make a counter-attack on the evil one.  For the next several Wednesdays, I will be sharing these lies and the Scriptural responses God has shown me in His word.  Since the devil is predictable, I feel like he’s probably been after you with some of these same lies.

Image Credit:  www.ipadforums.net

And I’m scared.  To know that I’m about to fly in the face of someone who has it in for me is frightening.  So, I’m asking for your prayers — pray that God will expose Satan’s lies for what they truly are (distractions from our servanthood to Him) and that I will remain focused and strong for my Lord, for with my God all things are possible.  (Matthew 19:26)

This is war.

Image Credit:  www.blackberryseeker.com

shr

Related Articles:

“If You’re Weighting on Me…” https://lbtk.wordpress.com/wp-admin/post.php?post=946&action=edit

“How Can I Keep from Singing:  His Strength is Perfect”  https://lbtk.wordpress.com/wp-admin/post.php?post=445&action=edit

“Prepare for Battle”  http://shani4jc.wordpress.com/2012/05/02/prepare-for-battle/

“Looking for the Devil in the Wrong Places”  http://thinkpoint.wordpress.com/2012/05/01/looking-for-the-devil-in-the-wrong-places/

“Spiritual Wrestling and the Armor of God – Part 1”  http://changedbyhim0510.wordpress.com/2012/04/30/spiritual-wrestling-and-the-armor-of-god-part-1/

The Ten Commandments: You Can’t Always Get What You Want

 No lusting after your neighbor’s house—or wife or servant or maid or ox or donkey. Don’t set your heart on anything that is your neighbor’s.  Exodus 20:17 (The Message)

Today ends our Bible study of the ten commandments.  Number ten is probably the one that I deal with the most on a regular basis.  Everywhere I look, I see something I’d like to have but don’t need or have the money to buy.  To covet is “to desire wrongfully or without due regard for the rights of others.”  (See www.dictionary.com) It’s more than just wanting something.  It’s concentrating all your desire and energy in the pursuit of acquiring something or someone without stopping to consider how obtaining the object of your desire is going to affect the people around you or God’s kingdom.  It is a blinding desire that makes you insensitive to how you treat others.

There are a lot of covetous activities that are obvious:  when a spouse cheats,  when people in a corporation steal from loyal customers, when an employee steals from his employer, not being honest when you file your taxes, when one person uses dishonesty to deceive another in order to gain monetarily, socially, or emotionally, and any illegal or immoral gains that we obtain by not being forthright.

When I was in high school, I had a lot of friends and a great many of those friends are still close to me today.  One of my friends was the type of person who didn’t want me to have any other friend but her. She even resorted to lying about another girl I was close to in order to drive a wedge into our friendship.  What I was told about this young woman was something I considered totally against her character — and it was.  It was a lie that I passed along because I believed it at the time.  It damaged what once had been a very strong, close friendship.  Even though the truth eventually came to light and my apology was accepted, things never really were the same.   In my opinion, the perpetrated lie and subsequent gossip caused irreparable harm and was covetous in nature.

Given the above definition, I’ve been thinking of other covetous acts that are given different names:

WHEN ANYONE FORCES ANYONE ELSE TO HAVE SEX AGAINST THEIR WILL

WHEN A PERSON IS ADDICTED TO DRUGS & ALCOHOL

SITUATIONS OF VIOLENCE AGAINST THE INNOCENT

KEEPING ALL OF YOUR BLESSINGS FROM GOD FOR YOURSELF

FAILING TO LOVE EVERY SINGLE PERSON WITH THE LOVE OF GOD — NO EXCEPTIONS

NOT HAVING ENOUGH TIME TO SHARE THE GOSPEL OF JESUS CHRIST

The reason God despised covetous behavior enough to write a commandment forbidding us to act this way is simple — when we covet, we no longer rely on God for our needs.  We begin putting faith in ourselves to acquire the things we want.  Sometimes those desires take over our lives.  That’s when we covet.  Coveting is a by-product of the immediate gratification society in which we live.  It is pervasive.

The fact that the ten commandments were relevant to the Israelites thousands of years ago and remain equally as relevant to the word in 2012 speaks to the authenticity of God’s word.  so, we might not always get what we want, but if we stick with God, He will give us what we truly need.

Can you think of any other covetous acts?  If so, please leave a comment and explain.

shr

Image Credits:  www.devotoons.kevinspear.com, www.myredalert.blogspot.com, www.connect.in.com, www.tamaraaragon.comwww.mylimitlesssuccess.com, & www.slaveofjesus.blogspot.com

Related Articles:  “To Worship Idols is to Worship Yourself” http://pewtopractice.wordpress.com/2012/03/28/to-worship-idols-is-to-worship-yourself/

“120319 George Hach’s Journal – Monday”  http://georgehachmyblog.wordpress.com/2012/03/19/120319george-hachs-journalmonday/

“Coveting Thy Neighbor’s Good” http://bustedhalo.com/blogs/coveting-thy-neighbors-good

“Why Do We All Have to Look This Way?” http://whatwecovet.blogspot.com/2011/12/why-do-we-all-have-to-look-this-way.html

The Ten Commandments: To Catch a Thief

 My daughter is a distance runner.  Last Saturday, I attended the first invitational track and field meet of the season.  There were many schools there with hundreds of runners, discus throwers, shot put hurlers, hurdlers, pole vaulters, and distance jumpers all over the grounds of Reid Ross Classical School in Fayetteville, North Carolina.   The stands were filled with parents, friends, and local media.  In other words, there were A LOT of people in one particular spot.

It was an day-long event, so I packed snacks and bottled water in my Cool Cube Cooler.   During Claire’s first race, I left my spot on the a hill near the end zone of the stadium so I could  stand beside the track and cheer her on during her final lap.  Afterwards, I realized that I had left the cooler and several other personal items unattended at top of the hill.  At first I panicked, but everything was right where I’d left it.  Nothing had been touched.

For the rest of the day, I purposely let the cooler sit on that hilltop and watched from a seat not too far away.  It was an experiment of sorts in human nature.  Not once in the six hours that we were at the meet did anyone touch the cooler.  In fact, I don’t remember seeing anyone even eyeing it.  It made me think.  Either my little blue cooler wasn’t worth enough to any potential thieves that were walking about or there were a lot of trustworthy people at that track and field meet.  (Maybe it was a bit of both.)

You shall not steal.  Exodus 20:15 (New American Standard Bible)

That led me to ponder this question:  how do you recognize a thief?  What characteristics do you notice that would lead you to believe that a person isn’t trustworthy:  shifty eyes?  a nervous tic?  a stocking over the face?  a masked man?  a person brandishing a gun at the bank teller?

Or does a thief look like someone we don’t really want to recognize?  Perhaps a thief looks like the person you see in the mirror each morning more than you’d care to admit.  Perhaps you are a thief.  I know I am.

You who  preach that one shall not steal, do you steal?  Romans 2:21b (NASB)

Though I’ve never put on mask or held up a bank, but I am a thief.  Let me tell you what I’ve stolen:

  • I have failed to tithe.  God says to give back a tenth of what He gives me.  “Will a man  rob God? Yet you are robbing Me! But you say, ‘How have we robbed You?’ In  tithes and  offerings.”  Malachi 3:8 (NASB)  Nine-tenths for me, one-tenth for God…and yet I have withheld what He requires from me.  THAT MAKES ME A THIEF!
  • I have failed to give my employer 100% of my talents and efforts.  What if I was tired or lazy and I filled classroom time with puzzles, movies or television that didn’t necessarily have anything to do with curriculum?  What if I left ten minutes before my shift was over at Wendy’s?  What if I took credit for something of which a fellow worker should have received recognition?  Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth. 2 Timothy 2:15 (NASB)  I committed all three of the above-mentioned offenses.  THAT MAKES ME A THIEF!
  • I have kept things that God meant for someone else to have.  That size 4 pair of dress pants that I’ll never wear again could be just the item the woman could us at the Operation Blessing clothes closet to complete her interview outfit for the job she so desperately needs.  All those Beanie Babies I have in storage could be perfect toys for children who have none.  The dollar in my wallet is exactly what the man ahead of me at Food Lion needs when he’s short 98 cents for a gallon of milk.  Then the righteous will answer Him, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry, and feed You, or thirsty, and give You something to drink?  And when did we see You a stranger, and invite You in, or naked, and clothe You?  When did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’  The King will answer and say to them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.’” Matthew 25:37-40 (NASB)  I haven’t been generous with others.  THAT MAKES ME A THIEF!
  • Grievously, I haven’t spent enough time in prayer, Bible study, witnessing, and serving.  I have filled the hours of my day with housework, television, reading, phone calls, and visits until I am exhausted and have no time for God.  I have gone shopping instead of lending my time and efforts for clean-up day at church.  When I see that people are not in church, I haven’t made time to call or visit to let them know they were missed.  Cry out for insight, and ask for understanding.  Search for them as you would for silver;  seek them like hidden treasures.  Then you will understand what it means to fear the LORD, and you will gain knowledge of God.  Proverbs 2:3-5 (NLT)  I have stolen from myself the opportunity to be God’s covenant holder.  Whenever we have the opportunity, we have to do what is good for everyone, especially for the family of believers.  Galatians 6:10 (GWT)  I have stolen the opportunity to serve others with the love of the Lord.  THAT MAKES ME A THIEF!
  • Lastly, I am sometimes slow to repent.  When I am stubborn, I act as if I’ve done nothing wrong.  When I am ashamed, I hope that God will just overlook the offense.  When I sin unknowingly and I don’t ask God to show me those sins of which I’m unaware, then I’m not just not being a smart cookie.  Oh, what joy for those  whose disobedience is forgiven,  whose sin is put out of sight!  Psalm 32:1 (NLT)  Lack of repentance robs God of the opportunity to “wash me white as snow.”  It also robs me of a chance to humble myself, bask in His forgiveness, and have a renewed relationship with the Most High God.  THAT MAKES ME A THIEF! 

I don’t know what I would’ve done if someone had actually picked up my little blue cooler and made off with it.  All I know is that while I was waiting to see what happened, God sent the Holy Spirit to work on my own thieving heart.  And like the thief who was crucified with Christ, I know I’m forgiven and will one day see paradise.

 

Photo Credit:  www.sodahead.com

Image Credits:  http://clementpearl.blogspot.com/2010/02/thief-on-cross.html

Related Articles:  “Parents, Are You Stealing From Your Children?”  http://bradkelly.wordpress.com/2011/07/29/parents-are-you-stealing-from-your-children/

“Biship Zubik’s Stolen Cross – Thou Shalt Not Steal”  http://catholibertarian.com/2011/05/26/bishop-zubiks-stolen-cross-thou-shalt-not-steal/

“Illusions”  http://aprilhawk.wordpress.com/?s=ten+commandments