Am I Habituating?

And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect. Romans 12:2

If you follow our blog, you know I’ve been currently dealing with a difficult situation.  Due to water damage, our condo is currently unlivable, so we have moved in with friends and are cooking at our daughter’s apartment.  This has been going on for a few weeks now, and I’m starting to adjust.  What seemed uncomfortable is becoming normal.  I’ve started to habituate.  Now in this instance, habituating is probably good.  I’m developing a new routine and that allows me to feel better about my life and the things that are going on.

However, we all habituate in less healthy ways.  Consider our television viewing habits, for instance.  When I was a child in the 1950’s, the “I Love Lucy” show could not even portray a married couple sharing a double bed, or use the word “pregnant” (referring to a married woman).  Now we routinely see unmarried couples unclothed and embracing on the screen, and the words we hear are certainly not fit for children (or sensitive adults) to hear.  We’ve habituated to the world’s standards, and they are very, very low.

In the same way, when we’re around people who gossip, brag, complain or criticize others we can easily find ourselves falling into the same patterns and developing the same mindset.

We may be told so often to “look out for number one,”  that we begin to find cheating on our taxes, running a red light or cutting corners at our job to be acceptable.  After all, doesn’t everybody do it?

As soon as we begin to tolerate such behavior, we’ve habituated to sin.  Pretty soon, we don’t even recognize it as sinful; and  then we start believing that sin doesn’t really exist.  People simply “make mistakes.”  We say sorry (because we got caught) but inside, we don’t really repent.  We become more and more self-centered, which is the very definition of sin.

The verse above warns us about this kind of faulty thinking.  We need to be influenced by the WORD not the WORLD. We can’t avoid sin unless we avoid all people (including ourselves);  but we can “transform our minds” by reading and meditating on God’s Word, praying, and  attending worship So today I challenge you (and myself) to take a realistic look at our lives.  What sins have become habitual?  What can we do to “habituate” to Godly behavior instead?

 

 

Advertisements

Finally…

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.  Philippians 4:8

In today’s world, it is so hard to follow the verse above.  We are bombarded with advertising and false news and crises that are happening all around the world.  I have found myself shaking my head over people hating each other because of a political stance.  Somehow, we need to be aware of all these things going on while staying away from the emotional angst that’s flying around us.  If we aren’t careful we’ll find ourselves in a big “to-do” over something that really doesn’t matter.

How do we keep our equilibrium when all this is going on?  How do we keep our environment sane?  My thought is to take this verse completely literally.  Keep your thoughts and your eyes on Jesus.  Go through this world being a peacemaker and the oil on troubled waters.  I know that this isn’t always possible, but as Paul says:

If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Romans 12:18

So, keep your eyes on Jesus and follow the verse above.  Perhaps we can be the quiet, soothing voice among all screaming going on.

Pulling Weeds

pullingweedsWe’ve had lots of rain lately.  Lots and lots of rain.  If it hasn’t been raining the temperature is around 85 – 90 degrees and the humidity is sky high.  It’s been like walking through the bottom of the ocean.

Our battle this summer has been to keep our small yard from looking like a jungle.  Today the sun was shining and it wasn’t 90 degrees out with high humidity.  Good!  A day to go outside and pull weeds.  Some weeds were easy to pull – the ground is still moist from all the rain.  But then there were others that were extremely hard to pull out, you know the ones that snake all over and put down hundreds of roots all over the place.  Some were snaking around our flowers cutting off what small bit of sunshine that they would get.

As I was doing this I thought what a great analogy!! Our lives are like the flowers, trying to grow in a “hostile” environment.  As we grow in our Christian lives, the “weeds” spring up to choke out the sun and the water that we need to thrive.  Regular weeding is needed – pulling the unwanted things out of our life.  Some things come out easily – others are so hard, you never know if you get it all out.  You’ll find you need to do regular weeding to be sure your environment is cleared for growth.

That’s my thought for today – I hope your “gardening” is always easy.

 

But What If Chaos Reigns?

Joan has been blogging about the upheaval in their lives, the mess, the inconvenience.  I feel badly that this has happened to Joan, but a part of me smiles when she describes what she’s going through.  My life is always chaos and I’ve learned to live in it.

Starting with losing our home in 1992 and having to move; we were almost truly homeless, but for the Grace of God.  My husbands terminal diagnoses in 1999, my son losing his job around 2008 and he and his family moving in with us.  My husband’s death in 2015 and just this year my house was hit by a car!

I don’t live a quiet, peaceful life.  There is always something happening that seems to demand my attention.  How have I learned to live like this?  Trusting that God’s got this and He will see me through.  When I was growing up and throughout my young adult life I thought that my life would settle down, husband, kids, living a good quiet life.  This did not happen…  Oh, the husband and kids happened, but quiet?  No.  It’s always been one thing after another.

To help keep my environment on a somewhat even keel I would take steps to keep my eyes on Jesus.  An hour of quiet, just me time away from my house.  Listening to the local christian radio station for uplifting music and some bible teaching on my drive to and from work.  Going to church regularly.  These are some of the things I put into my life to keep my spirits up and my eyes on the Lord.  These actions are intentional.  I’m working to put more intentional things in my life like regular bible study and prayer time.

If your life sounds like mine, you have to be intentional to keep your environment on a sane level.  It’s hard to put in place but keep at it.  These things will eventually become habitual.  Then when chaos reigns, you can continue to smile and say “God’s got this!”

 

The World, The Flesh and … oh yes, THE DEVIL

Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.

1 Peter 5:8

In our environment, we are constantly barraged with sinful desires promoted by our culture, and our own unholy thoughts and deeds.  However, these aren’t the only enemies — the verse above from 1 Peter tells us that we are under spiritual attack from another source–the devil.  It’s unfashionable to believe in Satan these days;  admit it in a group and you may find yourself the but of jokes and snide remarks.  Unfortunately ignoring an unpleasant reality doesn’t make it go away. In fact, the devil is quite happy to have you disbelieve in his existence — it makes you an easier target because your guard is down!

Right now I’m convinced that our Fanning the Flame team is under demonic attack.  The roof of my life has (almost literally fallen in)!  Others are under stress due to relationships, financial problems, work issues, and grief.  Of course, these sorts of things happen every day, but why are so many happening to members of the same small group all at once?  Probably not a coincidence.

It’s simple.  The devil wants to distract us from the good work we are trying to do for St. Paul’s.  As my husband is fond of saying, he doesn’t need to bother with unbelievers — he already has them in his clutches.  The kind of pressure many of us are undergoing makes us irritable and quick to anger.  It disrupts our unity. It makes us anxious.  It causes us to feel disappointed, doubting and even depressed.  It encourages us to dwell on the negative.

There is, of course a Scriptural defense which is detailed in Ephesians 6:10-18:

Finally, be strong in the LORD and in his mighty power. 11Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. 13Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. 18And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the LORD’s people.

The team is preparing for an event called “Armourbearer Sunday.”  I’m not sure what it’s about, but I have a suspicion it may help us deal with the powers of darkness around us.  Stay tuned for more in September …..

 

 

Christ is Counting on You

“”As a prisoner for the LORD, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. 2Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. 3Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. 4There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; 5one LORD, one faith, one baptism; 6one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.” Ephesians 4:1-6

Let’s face it, one of the most difficult things about our environment is dealing with the people in it.  They constantly disappoint us.  They shock us with their lack of love and understanding.  They complain and whine and gossip. They point fingers at others when the blame lies closer to home– and when I say these things I’m talking about Christians!

When I’m frustrated with others, I need to remember the verses above from Ephesians.  I can’t change anyone except myself.  I need to humbly admit that I am not perfect, either, and my behavior is not always the good example I wish it would be.  I need to be patient and give everyone the benefit of the doubt.  Any correction I give should be gentle and loving.  The church is the body of Christ and I am part of it.  Nobody wants to hurt their own body.  When we’re angry at one another, the body is disrupted and can’t function at it’s best.

The early Christians “turned the world upside down.”  We’re called to do the same in our day and culture.  Unity is key.  To preserve our unity we must be positive and do our part. We must love one another with the love of Christ.  He is counting on us.  He has no other plan.

How the Reformation Changed the Environment

“The Reformation inspired a mood of anti-authoritarianism, which led to backlash against the feudal system and, by extension, to the democratic movement around the world. In the centuries following the Reformation, movements like women’s suffrage and the abolition of slavery traced their roots back to Reformation-era principles.”

—Reference.com

I wonder what our world environment would be like today if Martin Luther had not been inspired by God to take a stand? He influenced his environment, rather than allowing the environment influence him.  Any thoughts, readers?