New Dog-New Life

Our family has recently added a new member. He has brown hair, four legs, and a tail. We call our new puppy Samson.

Samson is a ten-month old American Bulldog (mix). He’s a good pup and learning our way of life rather quickly.

But there are some things, you can tell, he just hasn’t been taught. Like how to walk on a leash. Or not bark at every animal in the backyard.

Sometimes I wonder how his old life must have been. Was he in his kennel most of the day?

Where did that scar come from? Why does he insist on eating out of the trash can and knocking it over? Did they actually feed him while they ate? (Because he seems to think we should.) Was he happy?

But none of that really matters now. He has a new life. A new home. A new family.

His name has been changed. The old is gone and the new is here.

new life new dog

You know why the old life doesn’t matter? Because we will teach him how to behave. How to NOT beg for food. How to walk on a leash. We will correct him when he barks at random things.

We will teach him, and he will learn.

Think about it, this is us with God.

Just like Samson, I had a life before I really began walking with God. I learned habits of the world. I lived for myself and did not learn any differently.

Then, when I was at my lowest, I looked up and embraced the love of my Heavenly Father. I got a new life with God.

My life began to change. (And sometimes while I was kicking a screaming, telling God I don’t want to.)

I didn’t know how to walk with God. But He already knew that. I didn’t know how to trust anyone but myself.

He knew He would have to teach me.

Teach me to learn more about Him by reading my Bible.

Teach me to recognize His prompting by putting people in my path to teach me.

Teach me how to let go.

Convict me. Change me. Teach me. Lead me. Show me the way.

Once I accepted the free gift of His son and began walking with Christ, I could not stay the same. I now have the Holy Spirit, that is a LIFE CHANGER!

Much like my dog cannot keep eating out of the trash can, I cannot keep going back to my bad habits that lead me away from Christ.

My husband and I will teach and mold our dog; but each one of us gets God, himself- in the form of the Holy Spirit, to mold us.

The Holy Spirit will lead us, guide us, convict us, change us, and put people and things in our paths to help our will align with God’s will.

It is our job to be teachable. Be moldable. Recognize that we are the clay, and He is the potter.

He is the tree; we are the branches. Apart from Him we can do nothing.

Once we start walking with Christ, our lives cannot be the same. God hates sin. Slowly he will start pruning you, revealing your sin, and helping you overcome it.

Be teachable. Be moldable. Live your new life in peace with God by your side.

 

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!”

2 Corinthians 5:17

Fuel

So, we have officially started trying to feed the baby solid foods. He’s not the best eater, but he’s only six months old. Generally, he eats the first couple of bites just fine. But then he’s a drooling mess and not much more is actually consumed. But he’s just learning. We will keep trying- obviously!

Anyways. Yesterday morning as I was feeding the kids breakfast, one of my kids brought me a jar of sweet potatoes.

“Mom, why does he have to eat sweet potatoes, and green beans, and squash…” her voice trailed off.
But her brother quickly gave some input, “Wouldn’t it be cool if they had pizza baby food.”

“Or macaroni baby food.”

“Or fried chicken baby food.”

They went back and forth listing their favorite foods wishing they could share them with their baby brother.

But me… I’m thinking- “Gross! Why in the world would I feed my baby fried chicken, macaroni, or pizza…” Then my thoughts continued, “Wait why do I feed my big kids that if I wouldn’t feed it to my baby? Why do I eat that?”

Because it tastes good. Because it’s easy and convenient. But definitely not because it’s good for me…

fuel

You know our physical diet and spiritual diet have quite a few similarities.

What we put into our mouths gives us energy and fuel for our physical bodies. Likewise, what we allow into our hearts affects our spirit.

I remember seven years ago; I was watching TV. My boys were very young. But as I was watching I thought, “I don’t want them overhearing this content.”

So, I shut their door and turned the volume down.

But as soon as I did, I was overwhelmed with conviction, “If you don’t want your children hearing this, why are you watching it?”

This was the start of a strong conviction to guard my heart. I turned the TV off for a solid 7 months. I still rarely watch TV. But when I do, I am now more aware of the worldly content and able to distinguish what I should let influence me and what I need to disregard.

I have learned that what you allow into your mind, will affect your heart. And you need to guard your hearts, for everything we do is an overflow of our hearts.

Our world is full of hang-ups for Christians.

When listening to the radio the songs are filled with chasing love, drinking, and partying. Is this what you would feed your baby?

When watch TV the shows are filled with drama or inappropriate sex jokes.

Is this what you would feed your baby?

Then why do you feed it to yourself?

I am in no way telling you to stop listening to secular music, stop watching TV, and go join a convent. But what you allow in mind will affect your heart.

Moderation. Use moderation. And recognize what you are putting in. A sugary treat every now and then is ok. But eating cookies, cake, and ice cream for every meal will have an impact on your physical appearance as well as your mood. Your body needs fuel. What you put in your body fuels your body.
The same is true of your spiritual diet.

What you put in your mind fuels your heart. So use moderation.

How do you know if you are using moderation? Well, I’m not you. But for me, it’s when my mind keeps going back to that thing. Maybe it’s a TV show that I am clinging to wondering what will happen next week. And I have my schedule completely surrounded by making sure I can be home then.

Maybe… it’s a game on your phone… I can actually remember being addicted to Candy Crush. I had dreams about crushing candy. Obviously, I was not using moderation here.

If something consumes your thought outside of the time you are dedicating to it. You probably need to pray that the Holy Spirit will convict and guide you to make better choices.

It’s an easy trap to fall into.

My boys just recently realized they did it with video games. (We don’t even own a console- on purpose.) But they love playing it, learning about it. They checked out books at the library about this game. They were constantly drawing pictures of these characters. The video games eventually consumed their little lives.

I pointed out to them that it was a god. They were like, “No mom, we just like it.”

I asked them, “What did you draw today? What did you read about today? What did you pretend to be when you were playing today?

This look swept across their faces as they realized I was right. “Anything that consumes your thoughts is a god.”
Video games are a lot of responsibility to put on young minds. We have to teach, model, and discuss moderation.

Or we and our poor children will fall into the traps.

Not just for video games, but anything that could consume their hearts…. TV… drama… romance…chasing after boyfriends/girlfriends… money… food… social media… sports…

What you allow in your mind is fuel for your heart.

We need Jesus to be our fuel. Read His word. Pray. Join in fellowship opportunities. Change the radio station to Christian music. Read books from a Christian worldview.

If you want everything you say and do to point to God, it starts with what you allow to fuel your heart.

Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

Romans 12:2

Buttered-Up

So, I have been making an effort to eat healthier. I looked into all those fad diets, but decided that ultimately, I needed to have a healthy relationship with food and eat a balanced diet.

Let me be honest, I have been a yo-yo dieter since I realized I could lose-weight. As a result, I have struggled with eating healthy. God created everything good- right? So why should my food taste horrible? I had to find a way to eat healthy foods and enjoy it.

I realized that as I have made this shift in my eating habits, my kids want to as well. They have started requesting salads and omelets for lunch and seem to always be asking for a bite of whatever I am eating.

However, I made broccoli to go with dinner a couple nights ago. Let’s just say, not one of my kids was happy to learn that broccoli was on the menu. But I put some butter and seasoning on the broccoli and all the sudden they were all asking for more.

I would like to think that’s because they learned broccoli wasn’t all that bad. But really, I buttered and spiced up the broccoli, so that they would like it.

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All too often, we, as Christians, try to appeal to non-believers with Christianity that is all buttered up. Accept Jesus as your Savior and you will be blessed. Come to church on Sunday, follow a few rules, and now you are going to Heaven.

We sell this religion… this way of life… but we are missing a key element. The Gospel!

Why do we need Christ?

Who is Jesus?

Why did He come to this world?

It’s foundational, but without this missing component of our need for a Savior, we are simply being good people. Anyone can make a choice to be a good person.

But Christians aren’t just good people. We are God’s people. We are imitating Christ! We love because he loved us first.

It has nothing to do with our works, and everything to do with His love for us.

We are sinners. We live in a world created by a loving Creator. But sin has destroyed our world. We need a Savior. God loved the world so much that He sent his only Son to die for us, to take on the punishment we deserve. Three days later He rose from the grave, defeating death and giving us the hope of eternal life.

The Gospel needs no butter. It is a perfect, beautiful gift on its own.

However, walking with Christ is not easy. This is where we add all the butter and spice and everything nice. We say things like, “God won’t give us more than we can handle.” (Which is not true. God will give you more than you can handle because he wants you to rely on His strength not you own.)

We tell people God is always with them, and they can do all things through Christ who gives them strength. When these people attend Church, they see people who appear happy and blessed honoring God. It seems to be all sun-shine and roses. But right now, the seed we are throwing is not reaching fertile soil.  We have only sold the life-style not a real and personal relationship with Christ.

While this is good-intentioned and may have some foundational truths, we need to equip new believers. We need to teach them to read their Bibles. We need to teach them to pray. We need to invite them to fellowship. When they are struggling, we need to be the hands and feet coming along side of them, so that they know they are not alone. We need to help that person realize it will not be easy, but it will be worth it.

If we fail to do this, we are simply bringing another person to Church. We are not making disciples. We are making false claims to Christianity.

How can you be a Christian without looking like Christ?

I ask you, was Jesus’ life all sunshine and roses? (No.) Did he need to know and study the word so that it would be in his heart when the enemy came to tempt him? (Absolutely!) Did people oppose Jesus? (yes!) Was He misunderstood? (you bet!)

Did Jesus tell new believers, come to Church? No! He told them repent… Sin no more… your sins are forgiven.  He called them to change their ways.

Jesus is our model. We need to follow His example. Somehow, Christianity took on a religion and stopped mirroring Christ. When people were first called Christians, it wasn’t a good thing. It was meant as degrading, “Man you look a lot like that Christ guy…” or, “You Christians…”

Just like the cross, those things that were meant for bad, became symbols of triumph! However, let’s not forget where they came from.

If we are going to say we are Christians, we need to try to be like Christ. He is the example. We can never measure up, but we can grow and learn with the help of the Holy Spirit.

You cannot sell a butter-up version of the Gospel to nonbelievers. Jesus calls us to change our lives. But He doesn’t make us do it alone. He gives us the free gift of the Holy Spirit. He blesses us with other Christians to do life with! Take advantage of the fullness of the Gospel!

 “In your lives you must think and act like Christ Jesus. Christ himself was like God in everything. But he did not think that being equal with God was something to be used for his own benefit. But he gave up his place with God and made himself nothing. He was born to be a man and became like a servant.  And when he was living as a man, he humbled himself and was fully obedient to God, even when that caused his death — death on a cross.”
Philippians 2:5-8