Saturday, September 27, 2014

The Rabbit Hole

In the book Alice in Wonderland, we watch as Alice follows a rabbit down his hole into a make believe world. 

This fairy tale isn’t just for kids . . . we adults often chase "bunnies" down their hole into an imaginary world.  Let me explain . . .

This winter I was standing in the middle of the Atrium at our church and glimpsed my husband sitting on a couch over in the corner.  As I looked more closely, I noticed his ear pressed to his phone and the look on his face told me it wasn’t good. 

I felt my heart rise into my throat and my thoughts raced to a very dark place . . . MY SON IS DEAD!  He’s been killed by a roadside bomb in Afghanistan.  In the space of seconds, I went from wondering what we were going to eat that night to planning a funeral right there in the middle of the atrium. 

As I started to charge over to where my husband sat, I felt the Lord say, “STOP!  Don’t go down that rabbit hole.  You have no idea what the call is about, why are you going to the worst place possible?  Why are you panicking over something you don’t even know has happened?”
In a blink, I dived down the hole into an imaginary world of my own making.
As I stood there, rooted to the floor, a verse came rushing into my mind,  “. . . we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” 2 Corinthians 10.5 (NIV)   

The challenge:  to refuse to go down into the abyss, to reject the inherent desire to get sucked into the whirling vortex of dark thoughts. 
We always have a choice regarding our thoughts . . . 
Will we take them captive or will they take us captive?
But HOW do we take them captive when they feel like a force of nature we can’t control?  Seriously, how do we keep our fears from taking us captive when they are overwhelming and all-consuming?
By camping out on TRUTH. 
Philippians 4.8 in the Message says it like this . . . Summing it all up, friends, I’d say you’ll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things TRUE, NOBLE, REPUTABLE, AUTHENTIC, COMPELLING GRACIOUS – The BEST, not the worst; the BEAUTIFUL, not the ugly; things to PRAISE, not things to curse. 
We take our thoughts captive by turning to Truth and filling our minds with what is good and right. 
2 Corinthians 10.4-6 (MSG)  says, We use our powerful God-tools for smashing warped philosophies, tearing down barriers erected against the truth of God, fitting every loose thought and emotion and impulse into the structure of life shaped by Christ.  Our tools are at hand for clearing the ground of every obstruction and building lives of obedience into maturity. 
Are we fitting our loose thoughts and emotions into the structure of a life shaped by Christ or are we allowing them to run rampant in our lives? 
It’s our choice, to take them captive or allow them to take us captive.  We will never experience true, victorious freedom in Christ until we learn to imprison in our thoughts and surrender them to Him.

Oh Lord, we need your help!  We cannot stop the thoughts from coming but we can take them captive.  Give us Your power and strength to refuse to journey down the hole into our make believe world.  Teach us to follow You, the Author of Truth. Amen.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

when rewards become gods
It’s been incredible journey this summer. . .  I put on my running shoes and have been traversing my neighborhood with God by my side. 

I took up running as an act of obedience and wow! have I learned a lot on this trip.  I’m not running to lose weight.  I’m not running to be healthy.  I’m not running to feel better. I’m not running for people’s praise. BUT all of those things have happened since I strapped these shoes on my feet and took to the road.
And I must confess, I’m finding the rewards mighty fine! 
While they are a beautiful result of obedience, it has now become a struggle to keep my heart focused on the REAL reason I’m running.  I find myself getting sidetracked by the benefits. Instead of following God I start following the rewards.  I want to run more and more so I’ll lose the weight even faster.  I like that people are noticing and I spend my time thinking about how nice that is.  I log on to Facebook and see all the wonderful accomplishments of my friends and I want to add mine to the list.  And on and on it goes . . .
Why does this happen?
 We start out with all the right motivations and then something turns in us.  In a New York minute we’re in a place we never thought we would be with a heart set on things we had originally set out to avoid.
We worship the rewards and forget the Giver.
This is nothing new.  It’s an age old struggle.
They traded the truth about God for a lie.  So they worshiped and served the things God created instead of the Creator himself, who is worthy of eternal praise!  Romans 1.25 (NLT) 
What truth are you trading for a lie?
It’s so easy.  It happens in a heartbeat.  So how do we keep from believing the lie and worshiping the rewards?
I’ve discovered on this journey that it takes INTENTIONALITY.  We won’t fall into this.  It won’t just happen naturally, we have to be purposeful!  You see we have this bent . . . it draws us away, rather than towards.  So unless we continually allow God to right us . . . we will always be moving away.
Here’s what I’m doing to stay focused on the right motivation:
I refuse to put any of my accomplishments in weight loss or running on FB.  Because I know as soon as I do I will be focused on how many people LIKE my achievement.  I constantly remind myself why I’m running.  When someone gives me a compliment about how I’m looking I turn around and give it to God.  That’s how I’m choosing to worship the Giver and not the gift.  How are you?
Have you been way too focused on the blessings and neglected the Giver?  What steps do you need to take to realign?

Who may climb the mountain of the LORD?  Who may stand in His holy place?  Only those whose hands and hearts are pure, who do not worship idols and never tell lies.  They will receive the LORD’s blessing and have a right relationship with God their Savior.  Psalm 24.3-5