Monthly Archives: January 2013

Normalcy Bias- Part 3

Good morning!  Jumping right in today!

So, we’ve been talking about normalcy bias, which is a person’s tendency toward “normalizing” things that are “out-of-the-norm.”  We looked at how our universe is nothing normal at all and how it screams praises to its creator.  Then, yesterday, we looked at what I am calling “Normalcy Bias Type 1,” which is the kind that takes place before the “dam.”  Specifically, we looked at what it looks like when that dam is unconfessed sin or sin that hasn’t been dealt with.  It may also be a command from God that we get stuck at (this is similar to what we will be talking about today, so I’m just going to move ahead).

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Today, we’ll look at what I’ll call Normalcy Bias Type 2, or that which occurs after the dam is demolished.  These two types are, in my experience, ways that my flesh keeps me from Maturity.

Oop, here comes Sally now….

Type 2 Normalcy Bias:

Sally:  “Wow, God!  I can’t believe what you’ve been doing in my life!  I can’t believe how clearly you spoke to me, that was CRAZY!  I’m so excited to XYZ like you’ve called me to now.  I can’t believe I didn’t see it before!  Your voice was so clear!  Well, I kind of remember it being clear.  It’s only been a couple of days but it seems like forever ago.  Did you really say that?  You know what?  Maybe you didn’t say that!  Maybe I just came up with it on my own!?  I know that in that moment I couldn’t have been more sure about anything in the world, but I’m out of that moment now.  And now I’m starting to doubt if that is really what you said after all.  I mean, Saintly Suzy does ABC, and she’s a believer, so it must be okay.  Maybe you just wanted me to think about what it would be like if I DID do XYZ.  Now I’m confused.  Will you just confirm it to me one more time, Lord?  Arrrrgh.  I really don’t want to do XYZ.  I know!  I will just wait it out.  If you really want me to do XYZ, God, just tell me again so I can make sure I got it right.  For now I’ll stick with ABC.  You just let me know.”

So, here’s what happens.  God, in His grace, either speaks to you on something or moves you past an area of sin.  You ride this wave for a couple of days:

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and before the swift river can slow back down, with the wind still blowing through your hair, you start to do this:

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Normalcy bias sets in, we start looking around at the world around us and who is NOT doing XYZ, and we begin to doubt what God said to us in the first place, OR, in the case of sin, we marginalize its significance (“it’s not really that bad, everybody does it” kinda thing).

This trick is as old as history itself.  What was the way that the serpent tempted Eve?  He asked her, “Did God really say, “You must not eat from any tree in the garden?””  And there it is.  Normalcy bias.  “Did God reeeeeeally say that?”  Before you know it, we give the thing a little time, and then a little turns into a little bit more, and then more than that, and then a long time.  Then, before you know it, either the opportunity has passed or we are back in the shackles of our sin.  “…the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind.  For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways” (James 1:6-7).  Following through with God’s calling is a faith test.  And, it requires a good, heaping bunch of the stuff.  But here’s what’s so awesome– check THIS out:

  • Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses (talking about the Old Testament heroes), let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith” (Heb 12:2)
  • “For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned.”  (Rom 12:3)
  • “So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.”  (Rom 10:17)

The faith that is needed to be obedient to Christ is a GIFT.  Jesus founded our faith and perfects our faith.  God has assigned you a certain measure of faith (CRAZY!), and that faith comes from hearing (or reeeeeeeeading) His word!  So just like we use our dam demolisher to break down our dams:

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We use the same tool to help us keep the faith that is required to be obedient to Him.

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One more thing….don’t even pull the “well what if He didn’t give me enough faith to do it?”

To you, I say this! “His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence” (2 Peter 1:3).  He always equips the sent!

So guess what I’m going to tell you to do now?  Yup..go on and get reading!  Pray that the Holy Spirit will give you insight.  Then, be bold honey!  Have faith, DO IT!  I dare you!

Normalcy Bias- Part Two

Good morning, ladies!

So, yesterday we introduced the concept of the normalcy bias and how that can keep us from growing in our faith.  Let’s not let the unfamiliar words leave us confused (yesterday, my husband said, “I loved your post about l;ksdjfoawiejfalwkefj”) but instead just try to break down some simple truths.  Normalcy bias is, simply put, a person’s tendency to “normalize” things or events that are out of the “normal.”  To begin, we talked about how the world we live in is anything BUT normal, and when we dull God’s majesty, our growth can be stunted.

Moving forward now, I want to talk about what I have observed as two very powerful types of normalcy bias in my own spiritual life.  These little nuggets are so precious to me, as recognizing them in my life has helped me to move past sin and into stronger relationship with Him.

If you haven’t been introduced to Saintly Sally yet, please start there.  I’m going to use her to illustrate.

Remember Sally?  She was moving down the Faith River when she hit a dam, or wall, that kept her from moving closer to her destination, Maturity.  Let’s take it back to the dam and have a look at how normalcy bias can mess Sally up.

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So, our friend Sally comes to a dam.  For me, these dams generally are one of two things:

  1. An area of sin that either needs to be confessed or demolished or both (usually both.  In fact, pretty much always both.)
  2. A command from God.  This is usually something that I feel God has pressed on my heart to do or say (never contradicting scripture).

Now, I want us to look at the two types of normalcy bias.  Remember, these are just observations from my own tendencies, not necessarily hard and fast truths across the board.  There are probably many more types!

  • Type 1- This type of normalcy bias happens in FRONT of the dam (before the thing is demolished).
  • Type 2- This type of normalcy bias happens BEHIND the dam (after the thing is demolished).

Let’s look at Type 1 today and what it looks like when the dam is sin, and what it looks like when the dam is a command.  Enter Sally.  Here’s what she might be thinking to herself in each of these situations:

Type 1 Normalcy Bias with SIN that needs to be CONFESSED:

Sally:  “Ugh.  This thing is just wearing me down.  I feel so guilty.  But, was it really all that bad, what I did?  I mean, Worldly Wanda does it all the time.  You know what, if I confess this sin, all it’s going to do is bring more harm than good.  It’s just going to really hurt someone’s feelings.  It would be better for me to just shoulder all of the guilt of it for the rest of my life so I don’t have to hurt So-And-So.  Yes, I will be the martyr.  I will just hold it in to spare so-and-so the pain of knowing what I have done.  After all, I’m never going to do it again anyway.  It was only that once.  Oh, and that other time too.  But that’s it.  I think.  Well, maybe more.  But it doesn’t matter now because I’m not going to do it again anyway.  You know what?  All this guilt is not good.  I don’t think guilt is from the Lord so I am just going to have to do my best to forget about this nagging guilt.  Get really busy.  Think about something else.  I know!  Maybe I can do something really nice for so-and-so!  That would make me feel better, AND would be lovely for them!  Yes, what a great idea.  AHH there it is again!  That constant nagging!  Think about something else….Disneyland…Disneyland….Disneyland….”

Now, not that I have aaaaaaany experience at all with what Sally is thinking, but I wonder if any of you do…….?

I LIE!  I have SO much experience with that one!  GIRL let me TELL YOU!  This is the ONE AREA that continually lights me on fire.  Normalcy bias tries to take healthy conviction and shove it under the carpet.  Then, the conviction turns into GUILT because more and more sin is being committed each time it isn’t confessed!  The BIGGEST PERIODS of growth in my life have happened DIRECTLY AFTER I have just humbled myself, said “you know what, God?  I don’t even care anymore!  I just want to live for you, and I’m going to trust you to clean up the mess that I’ve made.”  My heart starts beating reaaaaally hard and fast, I confess the thing, and even if the ramifications of my sin are hard to deal with, I generally enjoy one of these periods:

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Type 1 Normalcy Bias with SIN that needs to be DEMOLISHED:

Sally:  “I really shouldn’t do that.  I know its wrong.  I know what the Bible says about it.  Oh, shut up.  It’s not that big of a deal.  Look at Wordly Wanda!  She’s such a ******.  She does it way more than I do.  What a moron.  She really needs to get that under control.  I need to get that under control.  Wait, what?  No, seriously.  It’s not that bad.  You know what?  When I get older, I’ll stop.  I just need to XYZ first.  Then I won’t do it anymore.  I’m still young, and I’m just having a good time!  It’s not a big deal.  Stop being so legalistic.  Eww.  Yeah.  After I XYZ, then I’ll stop.  Because then, it won’t matter anymore anyway.  I am a Christian.  I may not be the best one around, but I do believe it.  Maybe I’ll start going to church soon, even. So my sin is covered anyway.  No big deal.”

I really have no idea what Sally is thinking about here, but if I did, I would tell you this:  THESE TRAINS OF THOUGHT are straight from the PIT of hell.  They are designed to keep you from freedom in Christ.  They trick you into thinking that being a believer is restrictive and no fun.  The truth, my friend, is that SIN is BONDAGE, and RELEASE from sin brings freedom.  God LOVES you and wants you to be free from slavery!  He’s already paid the price to set you free!  But we walk right back into the jail cell and willingly put back on the shackles of sin.  “Ugh, why does God want me to go out THERE?  I’m happy right here in my cell!  Joe-Schmoe is in here with me!  And he’s so cool!”  Seriously.  We are so lame.  And your enemy just sits back and snickers.  Like that stupid dog.  Teeheeeheeehee.

Here’s the deal.  If this is where you’re at, and you’re letting these types of thoughts pile up in your brain, you are being massively deceived, loved one.  Get mad at it.  Get mad at your sin and come boldly face-to-face with the truth.  If you think you might be ready to face your junk, let me recommend something to you that has helped me to see it all more clearly.  Go to a quiet place and look in a mirror.  Who is looking back at you?  Is she the woman that God wants her to be?  Is she the same woman on Friday night that she is on Sunday morning?  Take stock of where you’re at on the walk.  And, if you’re not where you should be, it’s time to do some Dam Demolishing.  Do you remember how we do that?

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Scripture.  Look up a topic that is relevant to your situation in the back of your Bible and start to just let some truth sink into your brain.  It will probably sting a little, or maybe a lot, but there’s healing on the other side of that sting.  You can even just Google “Bible verses about such-and-such.”  This requires some boldness, sweet one.  Sometimes facing the word is the hardest part.  But no matter what it is, sex, addiction, drunkenness, lying, pride, food issues, pornography, guilt, lust, idolatry, manipulation, a combo of those, all of those, whatever…God provides you a way out.  “No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man.  God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.” (2 Corinthians 10:13)  (Two things here- #1- don’t focus on a smaller issue to try to divert your attention from a larger one.  #2- don’t look at the list and think “Well I don’t have that problem…it’s not so bad….all LIES.  Don’t ask me how I knoooooow.)  He is so good to us.  Can you just let yourself be UNCOOL for a minute, get bold, and face your sin?  But, sorry.  I won’t be able to help you.  I have never dealt with any of those things.  Okay, maybe one or two.  Or maybe all of them.  I don’t know.  Normalcy bias LIES to you and tells you that your sin is okay and not that big of a deal.  Who is the father of lies? (John 8:44)  Let’s not give him any more power over us.

Okay- that was a lot.  I don’t want to move on to the Type 1- Command issue and possibly give you something to divert your brain from the sin issue.  Not that I know all about that little trick or anything.  So I’m going to leave it there today.  This is a big deal, loved one.  I remember facing some of my biggest dams and just getting into a hot shower, letting the water wash away the tears and shame of my sin.  Take it down the drain. Maybe you can let yourself do the same today.  I am so praying that the Holy Spirit’s power is woven through the words of this post and that He does a mighty work in someone’s heart today.  I am praying for your strength and for your boldness.

“Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin.  For I know my transgressions, and my sin is always before me.  Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight, so that you are proved right when you speak and justified when you judge.  Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me.  Surely you desire truth in the inner parts; you teach me wisdom in the inmost place.  Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.  Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones you have crushed rejoice.  Hide your face from my sins and blot out all my iniquity.  Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.”  Psalm 51:2-10

**If you need prayer, please always feel free to contact me.  Leave a comment or use the link at the top of the page.  Feel free to leave your name anonymous if you’d like, or, leave your name but your prayer request unspecified if you would like to.  Either way, know that I am right there with you, I’ve been there too, and through His power and grace, you can be free!  Wheeeeeeeeee!

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Normalcy Bias- Part One

There’s a phenomenon that tends to happen at the onset of large-scale disaster called “normalcy bias.”  Some of you may have heard this term on the news when the big hurricanes are about to hit and people just hang out in their houses.  Basically, the thought of what could happen is so extreme that it becomes unbelievable to a person, and he/she begins to think that it couldn’t possibly happen to them, so they just go on as if everything were normal.  We see this type of behavior in many other areas as well…teenagers who think that their actions have no consequences, adults engaging in knowingly harmful behavior and then being surprised at its effects, countries that turn a blind eye toward horrendous human atrocities.  The normalcy bias has, sadly, become the American way.

This phenomenon leeches out into our everyday lives and wreaks havoc on our spiritual growth.  I want to explore with you a few different ways that normalcy bias absolutely ruins our faith.  I’m going to skip OOC Wednesday tomorrow…I feel so strongly that God really wants to teach us all something here and I want to make sure that I give it enough space and time to come through to you.  Before we begin, can I ask you a favor?  I’d like for you to please stop now and pray that the Lord would make these words real and clear to you and that he gives me the appropriate words to share with you.  This is so dear to me, my friends, because these realizations are some of the ways that God pushed me past some of the walls I had built and are also many times the hindrances that keep me from effectively applying the truths that He teaches me.  Recognizing the normalcy bias in your faith life, in my experience, can be a key to finding the “narrow path” and staying on it.  I want you to take these things with you today into your daily walk and see how they affect your belief in who God is and what He speaks to you.  Normalcy bias, quite literally, makes us stupid.

There are so many facets of this that are hardcore truths, but I’d like to start today by just shaking the earth you stand on a little bit (for those of you North San Diegans, more than the booms from Camp Pendleton last night).  If we are to combat normalcy bias in our lives, we have to TOTALLY SHRED the thought that our lives are anything but normal.  Here are a few things to think about:

1.  Right now, as we speak, you are sitting on top of a ball that is spinning around itself and another ball.  It is not attached to a piece of fishing wire hanging from a crossbar.  You, now, are perched on top of a huge floating orb, and you are not falling off.  Nor are the people on the other side of it.  Now, that just makes me want to grab on to a pole or something.

2.  You have two balls inside of your head that are somehow wired to your brain allowing them two see.  Somehow, the two balls can filter light in some crazy way that allows your brain to register images and colors of the things around you.  That’s a mind-bender.

3.  This fish exists:

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4.  So do these ones:

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5.  So does this bird of paradise (it puffs out flat like this to attract a mate):

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6.  The Hubble Telescope leads astrophysicists to estimate that there are hundreds of billions of galaxies in the universe.  This is the central region of the Milky Way, the galaxy that contains our solar system:

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The same God who made billions of galaxies and the blobfish in the ocean’s darkest depths made YOU.  Knows your name.  Has numbered the hairs on your head.  There is nothing normal about that at all.

“When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him?” (Psa 8:3-4).  Forreals.

See, to understand how normalcy bias wrecks us, we can start with just the world around us.  “The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork” (Psalm 19:1).  The creation is SCREAMING His glory.  He has created it ALL.  He is MORE glorious than all of the heavens in their most illustrious grandeur and their teeniest, minutest details.  We are so wrapped up in ourselves, in our feelings, in our circumstances that we lose sight of the utter majesty of it all.  “Sarah said such-and-such.” “Can you believe what Rose did?  How dare she.”  “I can’t believe I had to do such-and-such.  Ugh.”  Ugh is right.  We are so self-centered!  Bleck!

Everything in creation screams glory to Him.  From the fingerprints on my baby girl’s pinky to the far reaches of oblivion, God is master.  Maker of all things.  Can he not, then, handle your worries?  Surely you can do a better job than he.

Destroying normalcy bias in our faith starts with shattering our illusions of control.  We make poor gods.  Contemplating his grandeur should make our heads hurt and our bodies fall flat to the ground in worship.  Pressed down, even.  As low as we can get.

“Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.” 1 Peter 5:6-7

Tomorrow we’ll start looking at more of the specific ways that normalcy bias keeps us from fullness, but for now, just bathe yourself in his majesty.  You are so loved.

XO

Latching

Good morning, girls!

Whew, rough night around here.  After a very long weekend, it was a very long night at the Barnes Household.  Khloe was up all night long wanting to nurse.  She is such an easy, happy baby that a long night with her still usually leaves me with a smile.  This is her face to me 99% of the time:

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I mean that with all sincerity.  When she was about 2 weeks old, I sat there thinking, “wait a minute…something isn’t right here.  This is too easy.”  I kept waiting for the catch, but there was not one to be found.  She could, very possibly, be the sweetest little thing in all of God’s creation.  Don’t you just love the gift of your child’s personality?  It is so incredible to see it unfold.

If you are a male reading this, would you mind stopping here? My writing is aimed at and generally only read by women, but just in case, let me just save you some semi-graphic mommy business.  Strictly ladies, please.

When Khloe was about two months old, she started doing this funky thing when she would nurse.  Kiara did it at the same age also–something in their development at that point, I guess.  Finally healed from the lovely glories of childbirth and the beginning weeks of breastfeeding, she decides that feeding time is a fun time to just check out her surroundings.  She would latch on, nurse for a bit, then unlatch and look around.  Latch, nurse, unlatch, look around.  And sometimes, latch and try to look around without unlatching.  Ouchie.  Now, this was kind of cute, but got old really quickly.  Three reasons.  The first:  latch and re-latch 50 million times equals much soreness.  Second:  nursing took foreeeever.  For-e-ver.   For-e-ver.  Third:  Since she was off and on so much, she was taking in a lot of excess air.  All of that air has to go somewhere, and what couldn’t get burped out usually left me with a gassy, fussy baby.

One day, when I was getting particularly frustrated, God intervened and spoke to me.  I was just like this little baby.  God has provided me with perfect nutrition that is available to me if I just latch on to Him.  I get distracted, however, and I break the latch and start just checking out the world around me instead of focusing on the one who gives me life.  I am off and on, off and on, off and on.  I take in so much empty air that has to get beaten out of me or painfully eliminated, and a lesson that should be learned quickly becomes painstakingly long.  If I had stayed at the breast of the one who loves me, a perfect flow would have left me full and satisfied.

Think today about what things turn your head and cause you to break away from Him.  I’m sure for most of us, the answer is “I just get busy.”  Think of ways that you can guard against this, but also press a little bit deeper.  Ask the Holy Spirit to examine your heart and show you the things that distract you from Him.

Only six hours until naptime….I think I can, I think I can, I think I can…..Zzzzzzzzzzzz

Blessings!

XO

Happy Friday!

I hope you all have had an awesome week.  Ours has been a CrraaaAAAaaaAaaazZZZzy one, but when are they not?  God has been exceedingly gracious with me this week, working on my heart in a variety of ways.  Friend, what I can tell you is this:  there is no doubt that there is a God in Heaven who loves us with more tenacity and intensity than we could ever wrap our little minds around.  Anything telling you differently is a lie straight from the pit of hell.  The things that He has done and continues to do in my life are mind-boggling.  I am one to set up a picnic right in front of a dam and am happy to call it home.  Only by His grace has He given me the desire for more.  More of Him.  More abundance and substance in my own life.  The emptier I become of my SELF, the more fulfillment I find.  HE is the real deal.  You want to know what the “Purpose-Filled Life” looks like?  It looks like JESUS.  It doesn’t look like a Mercedes or a good-looking man or a set of shiny new NFL pom-poms.  Press into Him and learn to discern what is from Him and what is not.  When your mom calls and you answer the phone, you know that it’s her because you know her voice (well, pre-caller ID I guess).  But, if your third cousin twice-removed rings you up, you might have a little hesitation as to who is on the other end of the line.  The more you hear His voice, the more recognizable it is.  And guess what?  He’s written 66 books all clumped together with His words plastered all over them.  PICK.  IT.  UP.

“For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom his whole family in heaven and on earth derives its name.  I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith.  And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge–that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.  Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever!  Amen.”  Ephesians 3:14-21

Have a PURPOSE-FILLED weekend, loved ones!

XO

Meet Saintly Sally.

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Sally is on a journey down the Faith River, headed northward.  She met an Amazing woman named Grace who led her past the banks of Unbelief years ago, and is following the Sanctification Current toward her destination, a place called Maturity.

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Sally is floating right along in her boat, the S.S. Holy Spirit.  This is a very special boat; one that cannot capsize or throw her overboard.  Suddenly, Sally hits a wall.

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The river is dammed up behind a blockade that is keeping her from Maturity.  Being the experienced boater that Saintly Sally is, she grabs her Dam Demolisher.

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She finds the right ammunition, and POW!  The dam crumbles and Faith River springs forward with a HUGE gush.

Time goes by and Sally is really enjoying her journey.  She is demolishing her dams and waving to everyone that she sees on the banks, telling them how they should join her.  She is meeting other people on the river and helping them find their Dam Demolishers when they get stuck (sometimes the people forget they have them on board) and recounting stories about dams that she once demolished.  Her boat is moving her rapidly down the river toward her destination, and she begins to think that perhaps she has cleared her last dam and is headed full speed toward the finish, when a friend rows up beside her and exclaims, “Look out!  I see you’re headed for a big one!”

Incensed and embarrassed, Sally looks ahead.  She squints her eyes and starts to make out the outline of a large object up ahead.  “Oh, that thing?  No.  That’s not mine.  That’s someone else’s.  I’m done with those things.  Smooooooth sailing.”

Her friend looks at her, quizzically.  “You sure?  Because it kind of looks like you’re headed for…”

“Nope.  I really don’t feel like my boat is headed in that direction.  I’m sure that’s just something else.”

“Ooooookay then…if you say so…”

Sally’s friend rows away and soon Sally begins to wonder if that really is another dam up ahead.  “No way,” she thinks, “I am getting really close to my destination now!  Surely that isn’t for me.  Nope, nope, nope.”

SMACK.

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Sally winces as that old familiar feel of the cool concrete against her cheek begins to set in.  Sally is so upset that she is at yet another dam that she refuses to even believe it.  Over time, however, it’s hard to deny that you’re stuck, so Sally decides to make the best of it and just set up camp.  Friend after friend rows alongside her, asking her if she needs help finding her Demolisher.  “No, thank you,” Sally replies, “I’m doing just fine right here.”

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Sally’s tummy begins to growl.  She’s running out of supplies and is languishing in front of the dam.  Weak and tired, Saintly Sally reaches into her pack to see if anything is left to eat.  There, she sees it.

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One big fat slice of Humble Pie.  Now, humble is not Sally’s favorite flavor.  After all of these years, she still hasn’t really acquired the taste.  But, her options are running low.  She can either eat the Humble Pie and move along, or die right there in front of that dam.  She closes her eyes, plugs her nose, and takes a big bite.  She eats and eats and eats until she fills her belly up with that Humble Pie.  Slowly, her strength returns and she turns to face the dam.  “What am I doing!?” she says to herself.  “I don’t want to be stuck at this dam anymore! ”  Empowered by the Humble Pie, she picks up her Dam Demolisher and loads it with a good one.  “Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus!”  First a crack and then a break and then the wall comes tumbling down.  Sally grabs on tight to the hull of the S.S. Holy Spirit as the Faith River bursts through the void and powerfully surges forward.  She sees the banks of Unbelief flying past her as she follows the Sanctification current swiftly forward.  “Wheeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!”

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Sally laughs and shakes her head as she thinks, “Now that was a ride worth taking.  Why didn’t I just do that in the first place?”

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ!  In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade–kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time.  In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials.  These have come so that your faith–of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire–may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.  Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls.”  1 Peter 1:3-9

Duck Hunt

When I was a little girl, my brother Jeff had one of the original Nintendos.  The kind that you had to blow into the bottom of the cartridge to get it to work correctly.  Arguably, one of the best games for Nintendo at that time was Duck Hunt.  Probably because it came with this snazzy guy:

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I can still remember Jeff teaching me how to play.  Forget the controller, grab the gun.  The game begins with a little dog who runs out and then jumps behind a bush to go collect all of the ducks you shoot.  But many of you will know what I mean when I say that who you really wanted to shoot was the dog.  Here’s why:  for each duck, you got three shots.  Miss the duck and you got a “Fly Away.”  Get a Fly Away and the little dog would peek his snarky little head up, squint up his haughty little eyes and cover his mouth in disbelief as he LAUGHED at you!  “Really DOG?!  It wasn’t even my fault!  It’s this darn gun controller that isn’t working right!  I forgot to blow on the connection!  If you think you’re so good, why don’t YOU just shoot the ducks FOR me!?!”  That dog’s laugh is what most of us remember the most about good ol’ Duck Hunt. TeeHeeHeeHeeHeeHeeHee.  Ugh.

Some of us, in being taunted, react with indignation.  Righteous anger.  A shake of the fist and a “Hey!  Who do you think you are?”  Our natural reaction is to want to whip out our Duck Hunt gun and pop ’em one right between the eyes.  Some, however, take accusations to heart and internalize them, effectively putting the gun away and saying “I guess I’m not cut out for this game.”

In Revelation 12:10, the Bible describes Satan as “the accuser of our brothers, who accuses them before our God day and night”.  Day and night, your enemy is accusing you before God.  He’s waiting for your Fly Aways, so that he can pause the game and just like that mangy mutt stand up and giggle.  TeeHeeHee, Amy messed up again today.  I got her.  She doesn’t love you that much, God.  Look at her!  There she goes again!  Aaaaall those ducks are just flyin’ right off of her radar screen.

In Psalm 35, King David describes his accusers as gaping at him and saying, “Aha!  Aha!”  Your enemy is your accuser, and he’s watching and recording your missed moves, ready to point to all of your Fly Aways and scream “Aha!”  He is roaming the earth looking for someone to devour.

When Satan reminds you of the guilt of your past and all of your missed shots, get a little righteous indignation toward your accuser.  Don’t put your gun down and refuse to play the game.  “For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline” (2 Tim 1:7).  You’ve been given power through the Holy Spirit and a mighty sword–the weapon with the supernatural power to demolish strongholds– God’s word.  When the enemy mocks you and taunts you, fire a round of Scripture right between his eyes.  Give him the ol’ 1-2, “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Rom 8:1).  Or, “as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us” (Psalm 103:11-12).

The next part of that verse in Revelation says that the accuser “has been hurled down.  They overcame him by the blood of the lamb and by the word of their testimony; they did not love their lives so much as to shrink from death.”  The game has been WON for you by the blood of the lamb!  Your ducks have been counted and your misses have been covered.  You are seen as having played a perfect game.  The accuser who taunts you day in and day out, night after night, pointing out your folly and sin through guilt gets HURLED DOWN.

I can just picture God pinning that goofy dog to the ground by the neck and asking, “Now, what was that you were saying about my daughter?  She is my daughter.  Only I can condemn her.  And I. Do. Not. “

Be blessed today!  Keeping up with your dailies?

XO

En Vogue

If you could live during any other time period in history, when would it be?  Why?

Something about the whole Victorian Era is just intriguing to me.  Downton Abbey.  Jane Eyre.  Pride and Prejudice.  Basically any BBC period drama (I realize these are highly fantasized, and it was probably not all that magical of a period, but this is my imaginary story).  I love the propriety of it all–the customs, the courting, the simplicity.  They must have had a lot to talk about then.  Let’s face it, when rules are rigid, even the tiniest infraction turns into salacious gossip (“did you see Master So-and-So walking with Miss Such-and-Such?  Shameful!)  However, sit my husband down in front of a Downton episode, and he’s asleep in 2.4 minutes.  Don’t ask me how.

Think about how crazy our generation would look to Elizabeth Bennet.  The women are all wearing pants.  We are all walking around staring at little boxes that let us instantly talk and write to each other.  We drive everywhere, using our little boxes to tell us how to get where we’re going and what the traffic is like.  We put our food in boxes and press buttons and it comes out hot.  We put our dishes and clothes in boxes and they come out cleaned.

On the flip side, can you imagine living in a time when this was all the rage:1775_carlota_joquina_by_m-4

I’m a mom of two.  It’s a struggle to get me out of yoga pants at this point.  I can’t imagine putting on all of those……layers.  Plucking my hairline back ala Mona Lisa.  Cinching in my mommy waist with a corset.  What did they wear for maternity, I wonder?

Times change.  God does not.  “I the LORD do not change” (Mal 3:6).  The same God that breathed into Adam’s lifeless body ages ago gave my daughter her first breath six months ago.  The same God who split the Red Sea in two as the Israelites safely passed through knows what I ate for dinner last Tuesday.  The same God who called out Jeremiah as a prophet commanded you to go and make disciples (Matt 28:19-20).  How are you doing on that, by the way?  Of course, you knew we weren’t going to make it a day here without a healthy dose of conviction.  At some point, you’ve gotta eat your spinach.  I like spinach.  (Food again?)

“I will remember the deeds of the LORD; yes, I will remember your miracles of long ago.  I will meditate on all your works and consider all your mighty deeds.  Your ways, O God, are holy.  What god is so great as our God?  You are the God who performs miracles; you display your power among the peoples.  With your mighty arm you redeemed your people, the descendants of Jacob and of Joseph….The waters saw you, O God, the waters saw you and writhed; the very depths were convulsed.  The clouds poured down water, the skies resounded with thunder; your arrows flashed back and forth.  Your thunder was heard in the whirlwind, your lightning lit up the world; the earth trembled and quaked.  Your path led through the sea, your way through the mighty waters, though your footprints were not seen.  You led your people like a flock by the hand of Moses and Aaron.”  Psalm 77:11-2

 Do you give God credit for the miracles in your life?  DO you praise Him for the seas He has parted for you to walk through when there was seemingly no other way?  Last night I sat watching as my mother-in-law celebrated another year of life.  At this time last year, she was too sick to open her birthday gifts.  God heard the prayers of His saints and granted her more time (Isaiah 38:5).  An absolute miracle that I credit only to the one who made her.  The medicines, the doctors, the hospitals….they were all from Him.  How gracious He has been to us.  

It’s easy to forget answered prayer.  Even the Israelites had to remind themselves of what God had done for them.  They forgot quickly and repeatedly.  God doesn’t necessarily scream from the heavenlies, “here you go!  Here is an answer for you!  I have done this!”  Often, it’s much more subtle than that.  Remembering His miracles, what He has done for us and for others, in modern history and in ancient history, is absolutely empowering and worship-inducing.  But we forget, and/or don’t give Him the credit at all, robbing God of the glory that’s due to Him.  Remember that His favor is unearned–that’s why it’s called grace.  “They refused to listen and failed to remember the miracles you performed among them.  They became stiff-necked and in their rebellion appointed a leader in order to return to their slavery.  But you are a forgiving God, gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love.  Therefore you did not desert them…” (Neh 9:17).  Glory.

It’s a good idea to write answered prayers down.  Jot them in a journal or in the margins of your Bible.  Start your quiet time praising Him for who He is and the miracles He’s done.  Keep reminding yourself of what He’s capable of and what He’s brought you out of and through.  It will pull you into the gospel-centered place you want to live–“under the spout where the glory comes out.”  Some people keep “gratitude journals” or recount things they’re thankful for, but those things are worthless and actually idolatrous without crediting the glory to whom glory is due.  “…They exchanged the truth of God for a lie and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator–who is forever praised.  Amen” (Rom 1:25).

Take some time today to praise God for the miracles in your life.  For the answered prayers.  Thank Him for His grace toward you when you forget.  He’s so in love with you.

“Stand up and praise the LORD your God, who is from everlasting to everlasting:  Blessed be your glorious name, and may it be exalted above all blessing and praise.  You alone are the LORD.  You made the heavens, even the highest heavens and all their starry host, the earth and all that is on it, the seas and all that is in them.  You give life to everything, and the multitudes of heaven worship you.”  Neh 9:5-6

Jesus Loves Me, This I Know

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My 3 year old, Kiara, loves to make breakfast with me each morning.  She stands up on her white stool at the island and “helps” me, usually by sticking her fingers in the jelly jar.  This little one has quite the spirited personality, and she likes her breakfast a very particular way.  This way changes every morning, and if I don’t read her mind correctly, she throws a little hissy fit.  Which, generally, is every morning.  This morning, she wanted her toast like this:  cold sprouted sesame bread, vegan butter, and just a tiny bit of jelly on one corner of the bread….

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I was not allowed to show her face because she was hysterical while I took this shot.  I spread the jelly a little too far for her and it touched the butter.  About 4 minutes later she started crying because I didn’t give her enough jelly.  Aaahhhhh…..the joys of parenthood!  I love it.

We are so like this precious little three year old.  We decide how much God we want and where we want Him.  If he spreads a little too far into our lives, we scream, “HEY!  Not on my butter!”  We change our minds daily about how much of Him we’ll allow.  Sometimes he gets spread all over, sometimes He gets the tiniest crumb of a corner, and sometimes we don’t want any of Him at all.  Then we schizophrenically scream at Him minutes later for not being there, the spot we didn’t want Him in the first place.

It seems to me that many believers kind of hit a weird block.  We receive Christ, we love what He’s done for us, we know that He loves us, and that is kind of…..it.  We’ll nominally call ourselves “Christians,” but we can’t quite push past this block of control…wanting to give Him some little corners, but managing quite well without Him in the others, thank you very much.  We’ll take the “please keep my kids safe” corner, or the “please heal so-and-so” corner, or the “please give us money for such-and-such” corner.  We leave out the “I have been crucified with Christ.  It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me” (Gal 2:20).  We hush the “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.”  We push out the “whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it” (Matt 16:24-25).  And we turn up our noses at the “we rejoice in our sufferings” thing (Rom 5:3).

As children, you learn “Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so.”  This is awesome for kids to know, but a lot of us stop there.  We don’t push for anything more.  It ends with Jesus loves ME, and  I love Jesus.  The heart of the gospel is missing.  The truth is, that God is so IN LOVE with you that He humiliated His Son to death for you and me, stinky old sinners.  In return, we are to be so IN LOVE with Him that our entire lives are surrendered to Him.  Big difference.  I love popcorn.  I’m in love with my husband.  The difference lies in preaching the gospel to yourself c-o-n-s-t-a-n-t-l-y.  Invest in your relationship.  Don’t treat Him like popcorn.

1 Corinthians 6:19-20 says “You are not your own, for you were bought with a price.  So glorify God in your body.”  He bought you.  He paid for you.  It’s a great dichotomy– you were a slave to sin, and now you’re free in him.  At the same time, you were free to sin, but now you’re a slave to him.  You are not your own.  When you try to be, you’re stealing from Him.  He paid for you.  You are now His bondservant.  His slave.  But strangely, that’s where the freedom truly lies.  “For freedom Christ has set us free” (Gal 5:1).

Go ahead and spread yo’ jelly aaaaaall over that toast this mornin’.

Why do so many of my posts have to do with food?

XO