Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Falling Deeper in Love

When there's a slight nip in the air on August mornings, I get super excited! The aroma I smell and the coolness I feel are hinting that Fall is just around the corner.

Carolina Football, that is The University of South Carolina, starts this week. Go Cocks! (Thank goodness. I have withdrawals during the spring and summer.) High School football has already kicked off, kids are back in school, and I'm burning Apple Pumpkin scented candles in my home.  Ahhh!  Fall is certainly in the air.

There's one more thing that announces the entrance of Fall for many of us....beginning new studies of the greatest Love Letter ever written - God's Word. 

With a refreshed mind, brand new notebook, new study book, Bible, pen and highlighters ready to go, I'm pumped to dig a little deeper into the Love Letter again and search for more truth about the Person who knows me best and loves me most.  Growing more in love with Him is the best thing ever!

Who is this Person of interest?  Jesus.  Jesus Christ, of course.

It's refreshing to dive into a new study of God's Word and learn more about His character, His love, His mercy, His grace, His forgiveness, His Lordship, etc. with others in a small group setting.

We will never learn it all, but learning about and applying God's Word to our lives is what helps us to  mature spiritually - to look more like Christ - to act more like Christ in our everyday, ordinary lives.

God wrote His Love Letter by divine revelation through great men of faith. It was written so we could understand more of who God is, know Him on a personal level, and learn how to bring Him the most glory through our lives. 

This Love Letter, written by the Lover of my soul, drives me to my knees as I acknowledge His presence, unveils more awe and wonder about this King of kings and Lord of lords, and melts my heart as I fall deeper in love with Him - my Savior, who loves me unconditionally- who gave His life so I could live free from sin.

The study I'm preparing to dive into is Priscilla Shirer's new book called Gideon...my weakness, God's strength.  I've never studied Gideon, from the book of Judges, on this level and I can't wait to see what my Prince Charming has in store for me this Fall.  I'll keep you posted!

..but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. (I Peter 3:18 NKJV)

My Pleasure,
Melanie

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Clutter At the Center

Clutter.  Where does it come from? When it's hidden in closets, drawers, and places not visible, no one really notices.  But when  clutter is pulled into the center of the room, it's the only thing you see. 

As we began the painting of an upstairs bathroom and bedroom this summer, we also decided it was time to change the upstairs carpet. (Thank You, Lord!) Instead of just one room being out of sorts though, the entire upstairs would be total chaos.  Everything had to be moved in and out of rooms and closets totally emptied. (What were we thinking, Lord?)
 
No matter how simple the renovation begins, it always becomes a much bigger task than originally thought. "Oh, if we change this, or clean out that, then we need to also do so and so."  We were quite overwhelmed and a little over budget.  But there was no turning back now!

Once the painting was done and the new carpet laid, we began the tedious task of going through the clutter item by item, choosing what to keep and what to throw away.  Some of the things we came across I haven't seen since our 23 year old was five.  At one point, every room upstairs was full of clutter pulled from closets, drawers and off of shelves.  How much clutter can one family accumulate? I was expecting the camera crew from Hoarders to ring the bell at any given moment.

Not only have we painted a bedroom, bath, and laid new carpet, but each room either has a new tenant or a new purpose, or both.  Madison moved into her brother's room. (He's a college grad now and lives out on his own.)  I've moved my Living Real office and piano studio into Madison's room, and the piano studio is now the extra bedroom (for the college grad, now grad student, just in case he decides to or needs to come home.) My husband's study area remained the same except for rearranging the furniture and an extensive cleanout.

Three weeks later, after two loads of furniture and other items taken to consignment, two trips to auction, and several sales on site, we are down to only the extra bedroom being out of sorts.  Before the end of August, I hope all is in order; pictures hung, bathroom mirror hung, towel racks in place, and the small bedroom ready for company.  But I'll believe it when I see it.

This whole process started me thinking, "Just like our homes, our hearts can become very cluttered with stuff that we don't need as well."  A consistent closet clean out of the mind is needed to help in continuing to develop a mind like Christ.  The mind of Christ is one of humility and total obedience. Jesus was obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. (Philippians 2:5) If our minds are full of clutter then we can't see what we need to see, hear what we need to hear, follow Who we need to follow, or lead how we need to lead.

Paul, in Romans 12:9, tells us what to keep and what not to keep by saying, "Abhor what is evil and cling to what is good." (NKJV) How do we do that?  How do we know if something in our mind's closet is evil or good?

A good clutter detector is Scripture.  Filtering our thoughts through the Word of God alerts us to thoughts that are not pleasing to the Lord.  Check this out:

"Finally brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy-meditate on these things." (Phil. 4:8 NKJV)

The cleaning out process begins with our desire to be clean before the Lord, and then followed up with action.  Action: First repenting of sin we already know of that is cluttering our minds, and then asking Him to bring the other clutter (sins) to the center.  It's here that we can really see what is hindering the flow of Living Water through us as we're seeking to become all Christ wants us to be for His glory.  Clutter stunts our growth in Christ.  Clutter hinders the Holy Spirit from flowing freely through us.

Have you ever walked along the path of a stream or creek where the water is flowing freely and uninhibited? The sounds and sights are just amazing and so refreshing.  But when you come across a section where the water isn't allowed to flow, you realize there's a problem.  It's not pretty and it even has a stench at times. Something is hindering the stream's ebb and flow; its' purpose.  As you investigate a little further up stream, you can see that the channel is clogged with clutter.  If the channel, filled with debris and trash is cleaned out, then the water is able to flow freely again and serve it's God-designed purpose. 

Do you know anyone who wants to be around a smelly, clutter clogged Christian? I don't think so. Spiritually stagnant Christians are not spiritually attractive.  They are not serving their God-designed purpose which is to bring Him the glory He deserves. The cleaning out process can be tedious and even overwhelming at times, but oh, so worth it.  If we are to live well, serve well, love well, and flow well; spilling out Christ to those in need of His refreshment, then the clutter must go. 

Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. (Psalm 51:10 NKJV)

King Jesus,
Please help me to get rid of anything that hinders You from flowing freely through me.  Help me to cling to what is good and pleasing to You alone. Search me in the deepest places and bring the clutter to the center of my mind so I can recognize it for what it is-sin, and deal with what needs to be dealt with immediately. Help me to please You with a mind seeking to become like Yours; one that dwells on all that is pure and good and holy.  My desire is to be humble and obedient, to have a heart, mind, and soul that loves you deeply without the clutter of sin.  Thank You, sweet Jesus, for Your patience with me when I allow the clutter to build up.  I repent of  all sin which keeps me from bringing You the glory You deserve.  In King Jesus' name I pray, Amen.

My Pleasure,
Melanie