Posts Tagged With: freedom

Just a Little Splinter

Have you ever thought about how something so teeny tiny can really throw your life in a tizzy?

Consider this… Just missing a payment or two of a school loan can really jack with your credit score. Going just a few miles per hour over the speed limit can impact your driving record when the cop writes out that fateful ticket. Olympic races are sometimes won and lost in just milliseconds.

Sin in our lives is the same way. Just a little “tiny” one, if left unattended, it can really mess with our lives. (Sidenote: there are not “big” and “small” sins… A sin is a sin is a sin. But I think we sometimes consider some “smaller” than others as a means of justifying our actions. But that’s another blog post. Anywho…) I personally think having unrepented sin in our lives is like having a splinter in our finger.

Think about it. A splinter might be tiny. And barely noticeable. Maybe a little painful. But it’s annoying. And we still KNOW it’s there. If left untouched, rarely does it resolve itself… instead, it could get infected and impact our entire being. All of which could be avoided with a little yank of the tweezers.

Same story with sin.

Splinters

Via Ed Munoz @ Flickr

An even more extreme (yet very possible!) comparison came to mind when I thought about the good ol’ Western movie Lonesome Dove. (Spoiler alert! If you haven’t watched this movie and might want to some day, skip the next couple of paragraphs. Because I’m about to tell you a major part of the story…) Remember in Lonesome Dove near the end of the movie? Feisty former Texas Ranger Augustus McCrae is in a standoff with some Indians… And ends up taking an arrow to the leg. Well, by the time he escapes and gets back to civilization, it’s infected pretty bad.

He wakes up and the local ol’ west doc has amputated the leg that had the arrow in it… And says that they need to remove the other one immediately because gangrene has set in. If they don’t act fast… Gus will die from the infection. But, in typical cowboy (who am I kidding? in typical stubborn humanness) Gus refuses and says he would rather be dead than lose that part of him. Sadly… That’s exactly what happened. Because he refused to take the necessary action to fix the “infection,” he lost his life.

I don’t tell you all this to gross you out or depress you. Instead, it’s just an illustration the gravity of having unresolved sin in our lives. When we let a sin stay with us and refuse to “remove” it or repent, just like that splinter or indian arrow… It can eventually fester, get infected, start impacting all areas of our lives giving the devil a foothold… and eventually result in our spiritual death.

So what are we supposed to do about it? First, we have to quit lying to ourselves saying _____ is just a small sin, a “splinter” in our finger. (We all are tempted to think like this. It is the messed-up-ness of our sinning human selves.) Then, we need to come to God and repent. Nothing fancy. You don’t have put on a production… Just “Hey Father, I really messed up… again. I’m sorry.” After that, we must continue to cling to Jesus and recognize when sin tries to rear its ugly head in our lives, God can give us the strength to avoid it. And if we don’t avoid it? We repent  and try ‘er again.

We don’t (and probably won’t) get it right, my friends. However, we can rejoice in the truth that God’s grace is enough– for all of our sins. He loved us enough to send His son to die on that cross… and He loves YOU today and wants to help you with whatever you are facing. Sin separates us from God– and He desires to walk with you and stay close by your side.

So let’s say so-long to those reoccurring sins. Get rid of those “little splinters” and rejoice in His abiding, abundant, overflowing love.

Sayonara to Splintery Sins,
SGK

“Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?” ~Luke 6:41 NIV

Categories: sin | Tags: , , , , | 2 Comments

Everyday Jesus: Playing Hide ‘N’ Seek

Some folks just make ya wanna hug them… Today’s guest blogger is just one of those such people! My dear friend Dawn is not only a talented writer, but also a sweet and loving daughter of Christ. Show her some love as she shares a smidge of her Jesus heart with us today!

Loving me some Jesus in the everyday, 
SGK 

****

“You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” Jeremiah 29:13

Hiding his eyes behind two pudgy hands, my toddler grandson starts counting. “One, two, three, four, five…” His excitement builds and he rushes, “Eight – nine – ten…here I come!” He’s now in hot pursuit of his slightly older sister. Oh, how he thrills in the pursuit.

He searches all the obvious spots—behind the couch or the chair, under the kitchen table, or behind a closed door—and calls her by name. Barely unable to contain her giggles, his sister stays hidden until she just can’t stand it anymore and yells, “I’m here! I’m here!” And willingly, she becomes the pursuer.

We still play Hide-N-Seek—you and I—only it’s not as obvious.

hide

Sometimes we hide from one another. We hide inside our houses, within our busyness, or behind our Facebook statuses. We’d rather appear “put together” than risk revealing our true selves or admitting our neediness. And, when others seek us and find us, we’re always quick to answer, “I’m here and I’m just fine.”

We hide from God, too. We don’t physically hide behind the living room furniture or closed doors, but we might miss a few days of quiet time, barely crack open our Bibles, and leave little room in our days for prayer until we completely veil our hearts from God’s presence.

Why do we do hide? I can’t answer that for anyone but myself. I guess sometimes I hide because I don’t want my weaknesses confirmed by others or God and I fear rejection by both. (Gulp! Big risk right there).

But here’s what I’ve found to be true: God never plays hide-n-seek. No, God never hides from us. In fact, the Bible says God can always be found by those who seek Him:

“You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.”Jeremiah 29:13

“I love those who seek me, and those who seek me find me.” Proverbs 8:17

God created us for relationship—with Him and one another—because that’s how He lives within the Trinity (Father, Son and Holy Spirit).

How do we seek relationship with others or God?

  • Be intentional—connections don’t just happen. Deliberately set a specific time and place to meet.
  • Be consistent—relationships flourish the more regularly you meet together.

The result?

  • Intimacy—you build trust as the relationship grows and sharing more intimate heart issues comes naturally.
  • Freedom—as intimacy grows, you’re free to be who you are; who God created you to be.
  • Release—when you realize who you truly are—who God created you to be—you’re released from others’ expectations and set free to soar in God’s purpose for you.

I’m ready to stop hiding and seek God and others, today. How about you?

****

Dawn Aldrich  photo

Dawn Aldrich is a children’s author, inspirational blogger, and T V host of Penn’s Pals. She enjoys her roles as wife, mother, grandmother and daughter of the King. Dawn enjoys her family, four seasons, dark chocolate, and sharing her God stories. You can connect with Dawn via her blog or check out her book or her TV website.

Categories: Everyday Jesus | Tags: , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Everyday Jesus: He is in the Water

Greetings once again, dearest readers, and welcome to another exciting and heart-motivating edition of “Everyday Jesus.” I am so blessed to introduce you to Amy, a fellow writer and sister in Christ. We are not only friends in the digital world, but real-life friends as well, since we traveled to SheSpeaks conference in North Carolina last year. (And created lots of inside jokes in the process.) I pray that you show Amy the love today both here at 7 Days Time and also over at her place via comments and encouragement. 

Are you ready? It’s time to jump in… 

SGK 

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Have you ever had a message or a theme seem to just jump on board your life for a period of time?  That happened to me recently as I prepared for my annual day apart with God.  The theme was water.

I prayed that God would give me a picture to begin this day.  He did.

In my picture I was standing on the edge of a high cliff with moving water below.  A ball of “stuff” was advancing toward me and I had to decide if I was going to try to keep the stuff from rolling off the edge or if I was going to heed God’s conversation bubble directive to “JUMP”.  Looking at the water, Jesus and the Holy Spirit were already in it and were waiting for me to just do that thing.

Photo from rgbstock.com

Photo from rgbstock.com

So, I jumped into the time with God and into cleansing water of confession, praying, listening, and Word soaking for the day.

I was bathed as the plunge freed me from all the surface trappings that call to me for rescue but are actually siren songs of distraction from focusing on Him.

At the conclusion, I had let go of some things I had been trying to finagle. I assumed He was through with getting my attention about some things but Sunday’s sermon on Jesus’ baptism kept the theme afloat.

My pastor incorporated a visual aide that day as he held a large sheet of butcher paper filled with loving words God says about and to His children.

Then he stated things we hear others say to us that erase His words.  He proceeded to crumple up the paper.  It was a moment earlier when I had allowed a man-word to wash away a God-word.  Why, even my own thoughts drown me!

Plop.  A tear fell to the opened pages of Luke 3 in my lap:

“As the people were filled with expectation, and all were questioning in their hearts concerning John, whether he might be the Messiah, John answered all of them by saying, ‘I baptize you with water; but one who is more powerful than I is coming; I am not worthy to untie the thong of his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. His winnowing fork is in his hand, to clear his threshing floor and to gather the wheat into his granary; but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.’

Now when all the people were baptized, and when Jesus also had been baptized and was praying, the heaven was opened, and the Holy Spirit descended upon him in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven, ‘You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased.’” (Luke 3:15-17, 21-22 NRSV).

I let His Word and the pastor’s message wash over me.  God is pleased with His own.

What began as letting go for a day apart with God flowed into a culminating spring of tears letting go of hurts.

What about you?  Are you overwhelmed by the deluge of real life stuff?  Is your sweet little spirit crushed by the weight of unkindness toward you, intentional or not?  I so understand that.  So does Jesus.

Jesus is in the water that calls us to jump out from the stuff that wants to swallow us in our various seasons and circumstances.

Jesus is in the water that refreshes us as we pray with our mouths and hear with our ears as He speaks to us when we take the time to just be still and listen.

Jesus is in the water of his word that washes us and regenerates us to life as we erase words that don’t hold any water compared to God’s cisterns that hold living water of His truth.

Jesus is in the water of identity where we are cleansed from our sins.  Stains of past mistakes are washed cleaner than any of the latest stain lifters could possibly manage.

Encouragement for today:

Sweet reader, won’t you just jump in?  The water where Jesus floats is just fine.

Opportunity for response:

What keeps you from jumping?

****

Amy Ward Headshot

Amy Dickson Ward lives in Columbus, GA with her husband of 26 years, Rob. They have two adult sons and a daughter-in-love. Amy is real about life’s ups and downs, including her battle with breast cancer in 2010.  Amy enjoys blogging at www.amydward.com when she’s not busy leading Bible study, knitting, and using her degree in Home Ec (yep, that’s right) and minor in journalism at home.  She has been published in Espresso.

Categories: Everyday Jesus | Tags: , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Twas the Night Before Christmas~ A Military-Faith Reprint

Merry Christmas, beloved readers, followers and supporters!

Last year, I wrote a poem for you… and since this ministry has grown leaps and bounds over the last 12 months (thanks, Jesus) I wanted to re-gift it. (Hope you aren’t offended. At least it’s not a fruitcake.) This is a tiny reminder of WHY we celebrate this wonderful holiday. We are free to celebrate thanks to two different sources: Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior, and our beloved American Soldier.

Christmas love and blessings to you all!
SGK

*****

Twas the night before Christmas,
And all through the base,
Soldiers were last-minute shopping,
Running all over the place.

It has been a crazy year,
Full of missions and drills,
But through serving their country,
Their hearts were fulfilled.

The soldiers had learned,
That military service involves giving,
Boots on the ground charging enemy lines,
Is how they made a living.

Some of them were traveling,
Going home to see  family and friends,
Others were in a desert,
For our freedom they defend.

Their faithful wives and their kids,
At home in beds did they lay,
Whether together or separated by duty,
Prayers of love, protection and hope they did pray.

Christmas morning arrived,
The military family gathered by the tree,
But before opening presents,
They prayed for the real reason they are free.

On a starry night long ago,
A baby in a manger did lay,
Sent as the son of God,
For our sins he would pay.

God sent us a piece,
A tiny portion of his heart,
In his Son Jesus Christ,
So from Him we wouldn’t part.

Our soldiers and our Lord,
Stand to sacrifice and give,
Willing to die for our freedom,
So that can have hope and truly live.

As we approach another Christmas,
Remember it’s not about the gifts or the food,
Nor the games, shopping or decor,
But it’s a season of love and gratitude.

Remember that only two have ever offered,
To die for you and me,
Jesus Christ and the American Soldier,
One saved our soul and both made us free.

Praise the Lord for both freedoms,
That we can live in His light,
Merry Christmas to all,
And to all… a good night.

“An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord.” ~Luke 2:9-11 NIV

barn sharita justus xmas 11

Merry Christmas from Barn, Sharita, Justus, Little Patriot (not pictured) and Jesus (not pictured… well, not visibly anyways.)

Categories: army, Christmas | Tags: , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

I Choose Option B (Five Minute Friday)

After a 3 week hiatus, Five Minute Friday is BACK over here at 7 Days Time.

I will give you a moment to compose yourself. 🙂

Five Minute Friday is simple. And fun. It’s like a writing flash mob. Each Friday, I pop over and link up with The Gypsy Mama Lisa-Jo Baker. She gives us a prompt. Then we write. For five minutes flat.

No over thinking. No editing. Pure, word-flowing, Jesus inspired writing.

Five Minute Friday

And very appropriate for a Friday.

So now… Let’s get this party started!

Todays prompt: BEYOND

GO!

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“ARE WE THERE YET?” I have to admit that this question is not utter from the mouths of babes in the backseat on a road trip… Instead, it oftentimes seems to involve my heart and a conversation with God.

I am a forward thinker. And by forward thinker, I really mean that I have a tendency to be impatient. (Great way to sugarcoat it, right? Thought so.)

We all have to be very careful not to fall in the trap of “Beyond.” Now, don’t get me wrong– beyond is a B-E-A-uitful thing. It’s exciting. It’s refreshing. It’s hope-inducing. But if we focus on too much on the beyond… we miss The Now.

“I will be happy when the house is clean…” 

“When I get my blog post written, then I can relax.” 

“I just have to make it through this ridiculous season of army insanity.” 

I am looking beyond. Yes, it keeps me moving forward… But sometimes, we just need to chill out and live in The Now.

Because God is in The Now AND the Beyond.

He’s in the clutter in my house.

He’s in the words of my blog posts.

He’s in the trials that the army throw at us.

God is in The Now. And also gives us a sweet hope in our heart of the beyond…

So we can choose:
A) To experience heaven only in the beyond, sludging through our day-to-day lives
B) To experience heaven in today AND beyond, by enjoying The Now but rejoice in The Later

I don’t know about you… but I choose option B.

STOP!

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Five Minute Friday is always fun… mainly because I’m always surprised at what ends up from my head and heart into the scribbly words of my post. Jesus is at work… And I’m glad we can experience it.

May your weekend be filled with hope of the now… and beyond.

Beyond Blessed,
SGK

“Beyond all question, the mystery of godliness is great…” 1 Timothy 3:16 (NIV) 

Categories: Five Minute Friday, God | Tags: , , , , | 16 Comments

God Only Knows Where We’d Be

I was never a crier. I was the tough girl. I once went through an entire semester at college without crying.

And then I fell in love. With a soldier. And with Jesus.

At one point in my life, my heart was hardened. I was not compassionate and completely confident that I could make “it” on my own. Tears were not an issue. I had it together.

And then I feel in love. With a soldier. And with Jesus.

Today is Memorial Day. A day of tribute. A day of remembrance. I am forever thankful for our soldiers– and for Jesus.

Many people post tributes and touching pictures on Facebook in support of our troops. That’s great. But I have quite a different perspective. See, I am married to one of those soldiers. And not just married to him, but deeply in love with him.

My beloved has served overseas three times. He’s been shot at. He’s watched his battle buddies fall. All the while– he clung tight to Jesus. And led me into a relationship with Christ much deeper than I could have ever imagined.

As my relationship with my soldier and my Christ has deepened, my heart as been softened. I try to avoid “tearjerker” videos because I still don’t like to cry. But it is hard not to be overcome with emotion– primarily in the form of gratitude- when I stop to really consider what my beloved husband AND what Christ has done for us.

They both have willingly offered to DIE for me. Simply the thought of this type of love moves my heart.

The song “Soldiers and Jesus” by James Otto sums it up pretty well.

(If you couldn’t view the video in your email, click HERE to watch.)

Have you EVER really stopped to think about the sacrifice from Christ and our soldiers? How does it make you feel? How have you experienced life from another’s sacrificial love? Please don’t be shy… Share your comments below.

So today, lets take a moment to give thanks for those who have given us a hope and a future by laying down their lives. There’s only two people who have ever died for me… Soldiers and Jesus. Without them… God only knows where we’d be.

Thankful beyond measure,
SGK

“Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.” –John 15:13

Categories: army, blessing, Christ, cross, death, fight, freedom, glory, God, Jesus, life, sacrifice, soldier, Tribute | Tags: , , , , , | 13 Comments

Faith to Forgive

“YOUNG LADY! You march over here RIGHT NOW and tell your sister you are sorry.” 

Shuffle…shuffle…stomp. SIGH. 

“Mmsrry.” 

“Oh no, that’s not good enough. SAY IT LIKE YOU MEAN IT!”

Sigh. (Again.) FINE. 

“I’m sorry.” 

How is that two little words can be so difficult to say?

If you are a living, breathing human (which I am gonna go out on a limb here and assume that is a pretty legit possibility unless you have a super talented and technology loving pet) chances are you have been on both the giving and receiving end of an apology.

Sometimes, accepting those two little words of “I’m sorry” as the hurt party might be harder than the one who is doing the apologizing.

Yesterday, we talked about heart blockages that separate us from God. (Read the complete post here.) Carrying around the burden of unforgiveness can be heavy. Like, really heavy.

forgiven by soot+chalk
forgiven, a photo by soot+chalk on Flickr.

He forgave… So can you.

Forgiving others takes  A LOT of humility and faith. I don’t know about you, but I tend to be a pretty stubborn little heifer sometimes. Letting go and letting God take care of my hurts really requires me to fully surrender to Him.

But… while forgiving others can be more difficult than driving past a frozen yogurt shop without stopping to get a snack, it is a command. God forgives us waaaayyy more than we deserve. (Remember The Cross?) Thus we are to do the same to others.

There are numerous stories in the Bible that talk about forgiveness. Remember the parable about the unmerciful servant in Matthew 18:23-35?  Check out The Message Version of the story…

 “The kingdom of God is like a king who decided to square accounts with his servants. As he got under way, one servant was brought before him who had run up a debt of a hundred thousand dollars. He couldn’t pay up, so the king ordered the man, along with his wife, children, and goods, to be auctioned off at the slave market.

 “The poor wretch threw himself at the king’s feet and begged, ‘Give me a chance and I’ll pay it all back.’ Touched by his plea, the king let him off, erasing the debt.

 “The servant was no sooner out of the room when he came upon one of his fellow servants who owed him ten dollars. He seized him by the throat and demanded, ‘Pay up. Now!’

 “The poor wretch threw himself down and begged, ‘Give me a chance and I’ll pay it all back.’ But he wouldn’t do it. He had him arrested and put in jail until the debt was paid. When the other servants saw this going on, they were outraged and brought a detailed report to the king.

 “The king summoned the man and said, ‘You evil servant! I forgave your entire debt when you begged me for mercy. Shouldn’t you be compelled to be merciful to your fellow servant who asked for mercy?’ The king was furious and put the screws to the man until he paid back his entire debt. And that’s exactly what my Father in heaven is going to do to each one of you who doesn’t forgive unconditionally anyone who asks for mercy.”

Oh snap. Jesus told this story to Peter to illustrate the importance of forgiveness. Right before this parable, our dear friend (and slight blabbermouth) Peter asks Jesus how many times he should forgive someone for an offense. Then, before Jesus can respond, Peter answers his own question. “Is seven times enough, Jesus?” (Peter might be trying to show off his stellar knowledge here.)

But Jesus really schools him. “Seven TIME Seventy.” Now, 490 is not the magic number of forgiveness. (Let’s be honest. We probably have people in our lives that we have to forgive MORE than that.) But it is an illustration. We should infinitely forgive others, knowing that God is the judge– not us.

Today I challenge you to take a look at  your heart. Is there anyone that you haven’t forgiven? It doesn’t matter how big or small the offense. It doesn’t matter if they have apologized or not. (That can be the hardest part!)  Give it to God. Turn it over to Him. Forgive the one(s) that hurt you. Pray about it. And God will give you the faith to forgive.

Thankful to be forgiven by faith,
SGK

“…You can’t get forgiveness from God, for instance, without also forgiving others.” –Matthew 6:14 (MSG) 

How has forgiving someone blessed your life? What did you experience after you forgave someone? I would love to hear all about it– please comment here.

Categories: attitude, challenge, faith, forgiveness, fresh start, God, mercy, promises | Tags: , , , , , , , | 26 Comments

In the Bottom of Your Sink

Who would you say that your everyday hero is?

Perhaps it is your spouse? A parent? A child? A mentor? Maybe it’s the law enforcement officers or firefighters or soldiers (or maybe if you are lucky like me, it is your soldier spouse…)

In addition to those awesome hero’s listed above, my hero is any person who had the courage to clean out the drain in the bottom of the kitchen sink.

What's at the bottom of YOUR sink?

Bet you didn’t think I was gonna go that direction, did you?

Seriously– cleaning out the bottom of the sink after doing dishes is probably the most gross, nasty thing in my world. ICK! But before you think I am prissy sheltered girl, I am not squeamish. I grew up on a farm. I have actually paid to take a class to learn how to artificially inseminate a cow (a pretty invasive experience, just FYI. Oh, and is that TMI? Hope you haven’t eaten lately.) I have cut, pushed, pulled, sliced, diced, dug, and dissected a variety of not-so-pleasant things. I can face almost anything dealing with blood, poo, people or animals.

But the bottom of the kitchen sink still makes me shudder.

You know what I am talking about… After you do the dishes or load the dishwasher, there is a just a bit of water left in the sink. You gather the courage to plunge in there and pull the drain, but the left over food chunks clog up the drainage hole.  To finish the mission, somebody has to plunge their hand down there and fish out the wilted pieces of lettuce, the partially disintegrated peppers and the waterlogged ground beef.

Things that make ya go BLUH!!!

I do this nasty deed, but I am never, ever excited about it. So to all of who you accomplish this task without a second thought, I salute you.

And this also makes me thankful that our God isn’t squeamish– because I’m willing to bet many of us have little pieces of wilted bottom-of-the-sink-gunk deposits in our heart.

We are all sinners, myself included. I would love to say I have a pure heart, but that’s a lie and poof, there’s another sink-gunk heart sin. From every judgmental thought, every worry, doubt, lie, unkind word, ignored person in need, and sin in general, we have that gross heart junk just sitting somewhere in our hearts.

But God isn’t squeamish. He isn’t afraid of digging in there and helping us clean that out. He loves us so much that He doesn’t give a second thought to our bottom-of-the-sink heart bluck. All we have to do is ask Him to reach in and remove the gunk.

And just like the water drains freely after the sink-gunk is removed, so is the same for heart love and purity. Once we repent and ask our Father to clean out our bottom-of-the-sink heart, WHOOSH! The feeling of free-flowing love returns.

So think about it– what do you have at the bottom of your heart sink? It the freedom of His love flowing freely? Or is it all clogged up with gunk that makes you squirm?

God is waiting and ready, bravely and anxiously poised to reach into your heart daily and give you a newly, free-flowing, refreshed feeling of love and hope. He isn’t afraid– no matter WHAT you have in the bottom of your sink.

From gunked to grateful,

SGK

“Whenever someone has a ready heart for this, the insights and understandings flow freely.” Matthew 13:12 (MSG) 

Categories: Clean, freedom, fresh start, God, heart, sin | Tags: , , , , , | 3 Comments

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