The Splinter

One of my children recently had a splinter in his foot. Now this child is extremely sensitive to touch and pretty much all sensory inputs. He showed me the splinter. I pushed the skin slightly around it and he started crying, “Owwey Owww.”

I took a look at him and said, “Son, I’m not cutting your arm off. Do you want the splinter out, or do you want it to stay in there and keep hurting?”

He thought about it for a minute. Then he asked, “If you don’t get it out, when will it come out?”

“Well, not anytime soon. You can either let me get it out now, and it will stop hurting. Or you can leave it alone and let it keep bothering you. But if you want me to get it out, it’s gonna hurt for a minute.”

I honestly thought he was going to tell me to leave it alone, so I didn’t give him a choice. I grabbed his foot, endured the tears, and pulled the splinter out in about 30 seconds.

Once it was out, he said, “Thanks mom. It doesn’t hurt anymore.”

Imagine that. Once the splinter was out, the pain was gone. But the immediate pain of removing the splinter actually had my son considering leaving it alone.

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Come on. I know we can all relate to this. We all have that guilty pleasure, secret sin, that we know is hurting us but can’t let go of.

For some of us, it’s gossip. We get sucked into that real-life soap opera and crave the details. (more on this in a little bit…)

Maybe it’s lust. Watching those romantic comedy movies has you secretly wishing your significant other was more romantic, funnier, or better looking, so every time you are alone or bored, Netflix has you sucked into another movie.

For others, it’s food. We know that those sugary treats are no good for us, but hey no one is watching. A donut for lunch is just fine for now.

I do not know your personal struggle, but I know you have one. The Holy Spirit has slowly shown me areas in my life that need pruning. If you have been following my blog, you may recall some post about my struggle with gossip and drama. Let me just say, this is an area I continually need reeled back in on.

First, I was convicted to turn off the television. Then I was convicted to redirect conversations that do not honor those who were not present. But the next step was a hard one. I had to distance myself from people who would not respect my boundaries around drama.

“Bad company corrupts good character.” Wait God… there’s no way you were talking about them… what will people think when I distance myself from them?

Oh man! You can see my next conviction in that statement- why are you trying to please man rather than God? Whose approval do you really seek, Renee?

Obedience is rarely easy. God’s word is not something that is popular. Many people want the Bible to be a buffet that you can pick and choose from. But it’s not. It’s one big love story between God and His creation. We cannot just choose the parts of the story we want to hear.

Let me be honest, it was painful to put up those boundaries. It was even more painful to stand firm in my convictions. I literally tore myself up inside. I knew what people would think. I kept trying to convince myself that these people needed me to point them to God… But all they were doing was stealing my joy, keeping me on guard, and continually disrespecting my boundaries. Sadly, that showed me I had remove the part of my body that caused me to stumble. God gave me peace over the situation. And once I distanced myself from the company that kept dragging me back into my sin, the struggle with this particular sin lessened.

It’s no different than an alcoholic choosing to no longer go to a bar or hang out with his partying friends. If you are going to grow, you must remove the weeds that are choking your growth.

Removing things or people who are bad influences is hard. But the peace that comes from being free to walk with God is unexplainable. If you are feeling the Spirit prompting you to remove a splinter, do it. But know it won’t be easy. You will have to lean into God. You will most definitely need to ask for prayers and support from your Christian friends. It will hurt. But, if it is from the Holy Spirit, you will be better for it.

“If your right eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to depart into hell. “

Matthew 5:29-30

Embrace Change

Well, I think it’s officially fall in Missouri! One day it was over 70 degrees, then a cold front came through, and now it’s 40. The cool crisp temperatures have been anticipated, but when they finally arrived it shocked us all.

This morning my kids wanted to go outside after breakfast. One of my children came to the door in shorts and a T-shirt. “Honey, you need pants to go outside. It’s a little chilly out there.”

She reluctantly went to change. Seconds later, the older children were asking for hats and gloves. Within a few minutes, my child who was dressed for summer suddenly looked as if it had snowed outside. She was bundled in her winter coat, hat, gloves, and a scarf. Though I thought it may be overkill, I let them go outside dressed for the snow.

While I know my child still needs to learn the appropriate clothing to wear for the weather, I realize that change, even when expected, takes some time to adjust.

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Now I will admit, I have struggled with change. Especially when it came to my Walk with Christ.

I grew up in a very traditional church. I held onto those traditions, without fully understanding the reasons behind those traditions. They were habits, not time set aside to grow closer to God.

Attending a different type of church felt all kinds of wrong. I was used to a certain order. I was used to certain songs. I knew exactly what to say and do and when to do it. It was comfortable.

However, these new churches we were attending, were not. First off, they gave us coffee when we entered and offered a time to talk to each other before service started. I was used to just blending in, coming and going without having to talk to a bunch of people.

They usually started service off with a band or a group of people jamming out and worshiping Jesus. I was used to traditional songs at set times throughout the service.

Then the pastor would give a sermon. These sermons were usually very good, biblical, and practical. However, it didn’t feel like Church. It felt like Bible study.

Finally, there would be some sort of closing, usually with a song. That was exactly what I was used to.  However, sometimes we would have communion in the middle of service, sometimes we wouldn’t. Sometimes they would take tithes and offering at the beginning, sometimes at the end.  Sometimes there would be a Baptism in the middle of service. Sometimes they would ask us to get up and find a group of people to pray with. It was unpredictable.

In my old church I knew what to expect. I knew what to do. Yes, maybe most of the time I was just going through the motions, but I didn’t have to experience that unknown. Nine times out of ten I couldn’t even tell you what songs we sang or what the message was about, but I was there.

I struggled with the change at first. See all my family and friends still attended the traditional Churches. I felt like I was doing something wrong. In fact, for almost a year I didn’t tell any of those people that we were no longer attending that type of service.

As I started seeing a growth in my walk and understanding what it meant to Walk with Christ, I slowly let my guard down. I began to share that we were now attending a non-denominational Church. I began to share the changes that were happening in my life. Surprisingly, no one really cared that I no longer attended the traditional Church.  They only cared that I was going to Church.

I slowly began to recognize the Holy Spirit and His prompting in my life. I became more and more open with my faith and much more willing to share my faith.  Though I knew a change was needed and anticipated that change, it was still uncomfortable. It still took me some time to adjust and share. But as I look back, each change, no matter how long it took me to adjust, has completely impacted my Walk with Christ.

Please know, I am in no way telling you to stop going to a traditional church. Each person is on their own spiritual journey. For some people, they can grow closer to God through traditions. My stumbling block was not the Church or the traditions, but the way I approached Church. I had the problem of just going through the motions that needed a radical change. I needed to step out of my comfort zone and trust God to lead me.

Something I have learned is that God does not call us to be comfortable. I have heard many people say that they believe God wants us to be happy (implying that we should just overlook our sin that makes us happy). But that’s not really true. God doesn’t call us to be happy, but He calls us to be holy. The process of becoming holy, being like Christ, is a life-long journey full of uncomfortable moments and changes.

By embracing a radical change, I found myself experiencing God in a way I never knew was possible. Each day I am growing in relationship with Him, learning more of what it means to be His child, and striving share this with others.

Change may not feel good in the moment, even if you are anticipating it.  But God is faithful.

Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.

Philippians 1:6

Defending the Lies

“MOOOOMMMMMM!!!!”

I looked up and saw my daughter running towards me, “The boys said I did ______, but I didn’t mom.” I see the tears forming in her eyes.

“Honey if you didn’t do it, why are you worried about it?” I asked.

“I just didn’t do it mom, and I don’t want them saying I did.”

How do you explain to a 5-year-old that actions speak louder than words? How do you tell her that if she didn’t do it, don’t worry about it?

She came running to me to defend herself, but it wasn’t needed. She wasn’t going to be in trouble for the act they said she did in the first place. To top it off, she didn’t even do it (I am still not sure what “it” was in the first place). It’s no big deal, wipe it off, and carry on.

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But is it really no big deal? I’ve been there… I am there… people saying very untrue things about me, trying to destroy my character and image with their slander. I desperately want to defend myself, but I know there’s no point. A liar is just going to keep lying… keep twisting facts to make their point known. Unfortunately, some people would rather believe their lies than the truth.

But what can I do? I could spit out the facts, tell my side of the story. I could defend myself and drag those people who want to spread lies about me down. But honestly, what good comes from that? None- Now I have brought myself into drama.

Repaying evil with evil benefits no one. (Not that sharing facts is evil, but motive matters. Sharing facts to make someone look bad is wrong. Gossip is gossip whether the facts originated in truth or not.)  This only results in everyone being hurt, frustrated, mad, and other negative feelings. No situation like this can be handled by man’s (or woman’s) scheming.

There’s only one opinion I need to worry about- that’s God’s opinion. He’s been there through the whole thing. He knows the truth, and He has brought me through the situation into His love and peace. As much as I want to defend myself, I know that God will defend me.

I know there is no reason to indulge in the drama… but that doesn’t mean my sin nature doesn’t get a hold of me and try to convince me to participate by defending my honor.

At times like this I have to remember Proverbs 6: 15-19, “There are six things the Lord hates, seven that are detestable to him: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked schemes, feet that are quick to rush into evil, a false witness who pours out lies and a person who stirs up conflict in the community.” These people will be brought to justice. God hates what they are doing. It is not my job to bring their justice. It is my job to trust in God’s perfect timing.

So, what can you do when you are in this situation? The only answer is give it up to God. Pray for those who persecute you. Pray for those who spread lies and partial truths. Pray for those who are influenced by their misconceptions. But most importantly, pray that God guards your heart so that you are not swayed giving the enemy a foothold of your heart.

Allowing just a little sin, even when worldly justified, is not worth it. Trust that God has it under control. Pray for those people. Pray for them because no matter what you do, at the end of the day, God reserves the right to change another person. We do not have that ability. Pray for them because they need Jesus. They need a relationship with Christ.

As much as these lies hurt me, it also saddens me. I do not want anyone spending eternity separated from God. I pray that the Lord continues to pursue and reveal Himself to these people. That they will let go of their selfish ways and their pride and allow Christ to be the King of their hearts.  I pray that they can turn from their ways and embrace God’s ways.

Anyone who is in a similar situation- I know. I know how hurtful it is to know that people you care about believe lies spread by another person. I know how hard it is to not defend yourself. But remember, you are better than lies. You are better than drama. You are a daughter of the heavenly King. He will defend you. He will bring you through the storm. It may not turn out the way you want it to, but His plans are far better than any plan you can dream of yourself.

Trust- God’s got this under control.

See that no one pays back evil for evil, but always try to do good to each other and to all people.

1 Thessalonians 5:15