The biggest idol you never knew you had ….

I stood in church asking God to examine my heart. What did I idolize? Money, power, fame, riches, fortune, stature? Nothing struck a cord. Surely I idolized something? But I walked away confused. I guess I wasn’t struggling with idolatry? But I felt an itchy spot between me and God. I just couldn’t figure out what it was. Until now….

You know how you go to the refrigerator or bathroom cabinet looking for something, you can’t find it, but then you do you realize it was right in front of you? Almost too close to see?

The biggest idol I struggle with is me, I was just too close to see it.

I don’t get on my knees and worship myself every morning. I doubt any of us do. But let me ask you a tough question….do you go to the Bible each day to learn about God? Or do you go to looking for answers about you?

It may seem obvious to others, but to me this question was kind of a shock to my system. I mean I know the Bible wasn’t written about me. I know am not the Good News. But I treat it that way. So often I go to the Bible to find the answers I want for me, with no intention or even thought about learning what I can about God. The One who the whole dang book IS about! He didn’t write it about me so that I could become the best me I could be.

Now this gets a little hairy – because learning about God does help me become a better me – but that cannot be my purpose in reading the Bible or living my life unless I desire to see myself as the center of the universe. My purpose for Bible study and for living in general must be this and only this – to glorify God and worship Him. Will I become a better me in the process? Certainly! But only as a byproduct of His glory. Certainly and never by my own rights and muddy, fault filled efforts.

So my Bible study is changing a bit. I go to His Word seeking what I can learn about Him. Not to twist and bend scriptures to fit what I want to apply to me. Because the Bible was not written about me. It’s about God. It’s about His glory. And learning this – shifting my perspective from a self centered to a God centered view of the gospel is slowly tearing down the biggest idol I never knew I had – myself.

How to keep the crazy from stealing your peace…

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Peace seems to get stolen right out from under me. I get up, have an awesome quiet time, and determine that today will be better. I will not get frustrated. I won’t let small things bother me. A patient mom, a loving wife, and a hard worker who does not complain will be the words that describe me. But then my daughter Lauren cries because her waffles aren’t warm enough, my husband spits his toothpaste right next to me which splatters my black shirt, and I spill coffee on my white pants at work. Peace robbing moments roll in one after another and before I know it I am a frantic frazzled mess just trying to survive.

The thing is I want peace. I really do. And I love Jesus. So I should have peace right? I mean Psalm 119:165 tells me, “Great peace have those who love your law, and nothing can make them stumble.” But I stumble all the time. How can I find this great peace when life constantly tries to take it away from me?

I wish there was a simple answer. Like a peace pill we could just swallow in the morning and the day would be good. Troubles would roll in and roll out, but our peace would not be shaken. That would be nice, right? But this does not exist. The good news is that true peace, the kind of peace we want, is accessible. But we have to know what it is, who it is that gives it, how we get it, and how we keep it.

The word peace in Psalm 119:165 means wholeness and completeness, not the absence of turmoil like we might think it means. If you are like me, this comes as a surprise. I always thought peace was like stillness – an absence of movement, maybe even quiet and devoid of sound. But that’s not what peace is at all. The kind of peace the Bible speaks of is a peace that stands regardless of what happens in the environment. It’s a wholeness, a complete feeling, that comes only from knowing Jesus as the Lord of your life and choosing to love and obey His teaching.

So how does this kind of peace, wholeness, relate to what we thought peace was – stillness?

When we fill ourselves up completely with Jesus, when we choose to follow Him in ALL of our ways, we can have a certain stillness about us, a blessed assurance. There may be tears at the breakfast table over cold waffles, but because we choose to be filled with Jesus’ grace, love, kindness, and mercy – we recognize that our child’s tears are not a direct attack on our ability to be a mother – but rather the frustrated musings of a child who didn’t sleep well last night. The waffle tears no longer cause us to stumble and we move on reminding ourselves that maybe the kids need to get in bed a few minutes earlier tonight.

The wholeness-peace that comes from knowing the Lord allows things to happen throughout our day to be filtered through a better lens. A lens that leans heavily upon the body of the Lord’s teachings, His Word, and less upon our frazzled and messed up emotions. Peace will not fail us, it will not be snatched as often, when allow the Lord and what He would say and do to determine our reactions – even if our emotions do not agree. We can have peace. We can be whole. Even with our spattered shirt and coffee stained pants. They are just evidence that we live a very real, very full life with Jesus.

Because He held it on the cross…I can let it go…

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“All of us, like sheep, have strayed away. We have left God’s paths to follow our own. Yet the lord laid on him the sins of us all.” Isaiah 53:6 NLT

Because I was raped, I sometimes carry the weight of another persons sin. I know it wasn’t my fault and I’m not responsible for his actions, but because he acted out sin on me, I carry pieces of it with me, for the good or for the bad, everywhere I go.

I struggled with and eventually came to forgive him. He didn’t ask for an apology, but that doesn’t matter. Sin rarely does, that is, ask for an apology. It just does it’s damage and moves on.

I guess that’s why I’m so thankful Jesus came. That he took all my sin AND the sins of others.

To me, that means He took on my screw ups so I could be forgiven, but He also took on the sins of those who hurt me. He understands what that person did to me. He understands the entirety of it – mindset, reasonings – because it was part of the sin that nailed Him to the cross.

I may never understand why that teenage boy hurt me the way he did. You may never understand why whomever hurt you in the way they did.

Senseless acts just don’t make sense.

But Jesus gets it.

Jesus held it on the cross, took it to the grave, and then He resurrected.

He fully understood, fully accepted, and then fully set us free from all bondage of sin – the sins we struggle with ourselves and the sins of others. And because of this, we can let it go. We can forgive. We can move on…knowing the fullness of justice was and is complete on the cross.