Pop Goes the Bubble

Pop Goes the Bubble!

I remember when Rachel was only 2.  She was in the bathtub, and passed gas.  She looked down into the tub, and excitedly exclaimed, “Oh!  Bubbles!”
Needless to say, I cracked up.  Even now, she is still fascinated with bubbles.  She can be in the tub playing, and I will hear her yell, “Mommy, come here!  You have got to see this bubble!”  Invariably, the bubble which brought her so much joy would be gone before I could make it in there.

There are many things which this world offers us which can seem so appealing and so pretty, but just like the bubble, in an instant, the “beauty” of it all is gone.  Let’s take a look at some scenarios.

The job that offers such prestige – prestige, which could fade at any given moment.  The job market doesn’t seem to be too stable these days.  Pop!   There went the “bubble.”  (That same job could require you to be away from your dear family and miss out on precious time that could never be recaptured.)  The O.T. is so clear about how we are to diligently teach our children about spiritual things.  How can we do that when we are gone so much of the time?  When we are finally able to be with them, who would have the energy or the patience to be instructing them in righteousness?

Please don’t misunderstand, I am not knocking women who MUST work outside the home, but oftentimes, working outside the home is because we MUST have this new house, this bigger house, this fancy car, the fancy clothes for us and for our children…….It becomes a matter of working, not to provide for the family, but to get THINGS to satisfy us.  Oops, did the “bubble” just pop again?

The lure of the mall.  We get bored so we go shopping.  We get frustrated, so we go shopping.  We get happy, so we go shopping….. You get the picture.  The mall is a lure to many women.  While we are there, we tend to buy impusively.  Later, when we get home, and have to explain the charges on the credit card, or why we don’t any longer have the money to buy the groceries, the temporary “high” which we get from shopping so quickly fades.

The lure of activities for our children.  I see so many families, who get their children involved in so many activities.  So many, in fact, that they hardly ever get to spend much time together.  They miss out on the precious family meal times, or the chance to just spend an evening playing games.  Too often, it ends up being a time where everyone is rushed, Mom is yelling, the kids are arguing……and the list goes on.  Once again, the “bubble” pops, and the glitter of this activity fades away.

There are even some things which are good, noble causes.  BUT, if God has not given us the OK to be involved in these activities, the “bubble” will pop again.  For instance, maybe you want to be involved in Women’s ministries at your church.  But being involved there can put another demand on your plate, which is already full, just trying to take care of the family, the house, the laundry, the grocery shopping.  You may be maxed out with just the everyday tasks that HAVE to be done.  Being involved in women’s ministries may make you feel like you are being a better Christian, or that you are doing your good deed by being there, but it could also be the thing that leaves you frazzled because maybe this just isn’t the “season” for you to be heavily involved in anything besides your own family.

Let me explain a little further on these things.  The Bible says that there is a season for everything.  I can give you a personal example regarding the women’s ministry.  (I used that illustration because it fit my situation.)  Our women’s group would meet on Tuesday mornings.  I wanted to be there and be part of the group, but I homeschool, so which is my priority?  Yes, I could rearrange the homeschool day so that I could teach later, but for me, my better hours of the day are in the morning.  If I didn’t get school done in the morning, chances were very high that it wouldn’t get done at all.  The teaching and training of my child on Biblical principles and academics was higher on the priority list than attending the women’s Bible study.  (A side note on this – now the women’s group is meeting on Wed. nights.  Since we are there every Wed. anyway, this has turned out to be a real blessing to me.)

I Cor. 3:11-13 says “For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ.  If any man builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, his work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light.  It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each man’s work.”  (NIV)

II Tim. 2:20-21 says, “But in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and silver, but also utensils of wood and earthenware, and some for honorable and noble use and some for menial and ignoble use.  So whoever cleanses himself from what is ignoble and unclean, who separates himself from contact with contaminating and corrupting influences will then himself be a vessel set apart and useful for honorable and noble purposes, consecrated and profitable to the Master, fit and ready for any good work.”  (Amp. Bible)

Father, may you help us to see clearly the purpose you have for us at this time.  Yes, it may change down the road, but help us now to see it, to embrace it, and to welcome it.  Help us to be content in the ministry where you have placed us, and to find joy in the journey.  Help us to focus our energies on the things which would bring honor to Your Name, and to pull ourselves away from those contaminating, luring things which this old world would love to offer us.  Help us to find that life abundantly – the life which is in You, alone.  Amen.
© 2003, Stacy R Miller

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Politically Correct

Politically Correct

“Politically correct” has become the new buzz word of the day.  It appears the concept of being politically correct has also infiltrated the mindset of many Christians.

I have seen people who profess to be Christians, yet believe there is nothing wrong with being gay.  There are even denominations which are ordaining homosexual ministers.  Yet God clearly condemns this sin.  The Word tells us that those who are homosexuals will not inherit the kingdom of heaven. (I Corinthians 6:9-10)

I have heard numerous stories of men who profess to be Christians leaving their wives for another woman.  Often, they will say that it just feels right, so it must be of God for them to continue this adulterous relationship.  Jeremiah 17:9 tells us that our hearts are deceitful and desperately wicked.  Our hearts will easily lead us astray, so we must follow what the Word of God tells us.  His Word clearly denounces adultery in First Corinthians 6:9-10.

I see many professing Christians allowing witchcraft into their homes through a series of popular books.  The Lord makes it very clear in Leviticus 19:26 that we are to stay away from these things.  In Exodus 22:18, we see that anyone who practiced sorcery was to be put to death.  So why would a Christian allow any kind of witchcraft in their home?

As I have taken a stand against these very things, I have been verbally attacked.  I would expect this behavior from nonbelievers, but these vicious assaults came from people who profess to be Christians!

In a place of Christian fellowship, I was repeatedly bashed when I spoke out against a lesbian witch.  She would pretend to be a Christian, yet was active in circles that flaunted homosexuality and Wicca.  First Corinthians 5:9-11 tells us not to associate with one who professes to be a Christian, yet lives a lifestyle that says otherwise.  When I dared to speak the truth of God’s Word on this issue, I was accused of being on a witch-hunt.

I believe we are living in the days when the love of many will wax cold. (Matthew 24:12) We are living in a time when even the elect are being deceived into choosing to be politically correct, rather than standing firm on the Word of God. (Matthew 24:24)

I have struggled to understand why professing Christians have so blatantly attacked those who choose to speak the uncompromised Word of God.  I have finally come to realize that people who compromise on the principles in God’s Word can not stand the sight of excellence.  They are deeply convicted when someone takes a righteous stand on an issue, and it makes them feel uncomfortable.  The result is lashing out at those who speak the uncompromised truth.

Jesus faced this very thing many times with the religious leaders of His day.  They lashed out at Him, persecuted Him, called Him names, and planned to kill Him.  Jesus assured us that His followers will also be persecuted. (John 15:20)

As we get closer to the second coming of Jesus, things will only get worse.  We need to make a decision.  Will we choose to join the popular crowd and be politically correct?  Or, will we join the ranks of those who refuse to compromise, and be Biblically correct?
© 2006, Stacy R. Miller

Plugged In

Plugged In

One evening, I flipped the switch to turn on the sweeper, and nothing happened.  I had failed to plug it into the power source.

What is your power source?  Do you chase after outer beauty, which will soon fade away?  Do you desire the praise of men more than the praise of God?  Do you thrive on compliments more than you thrive on hearing God speak to you?  Do you look to your husband to fulfill all of your longings, rather than turning to your heavenly Father to fill the void in your life?  Do you look to the prestige of heading up a ministry at church to be a ‘power source’ for you?  Is your ‘power source’ the success of your children when you see straight A’s on their report cards?

If you seek after any of the above, you are plugged into the wrong ‘power source.’  However, God is very willing to help you get plugged into the right ‘Power Source.’  Jesus gives us several keys to get ‘plugged in.’  He tells us in  Matthew 6:33 to seek first God’s kingdom and His righteousness.  In John 15:10-11, He explains to us that by obeying God’s commands we will remain in His love.  The end result is that our joy will be complete.  Joy is a great power source because it comes from GOD!

One more power source in the Word that has really spoken deeply to me is when God has asked me whose applause I desire more.  Do I desire His approval, or do I seek after man’s approval? (John 12:43)

What power source are you plugged into?

© 2005, Stacy R. Miller

Pleasant Boundaries

Pleasant Boundaries

A friend once asked me about the concept of having boundaries.  She didn’t know if it was a scriptural concept since you don’t see the word ‘boundaries’ too many times in the Bible.  Her comment spurred me on to do an in-depth study on this topic.

Psalm 16:6 says that the boundary lines have fallen in pleasant places for David.  What boundaries was he talking about?  In verse one, we see that one of those boundaries was using God as his place of refuge.  Another boundary was walking in the realization that apart from God, David had no good thing in him. (verse 2)

David says in verse 3 that he delights in God’s people.  He realizes that fellowship with the world is crossing the line of pleasant boundaries.  Next we find the boundary of only following the one true God, for crossing that boundary line will cause our sorrows to increase.

In verse 5, David has discovered that he can have a secure boundary by trusting in God.  He sees in verse 7 that there is a boundary of following godly counsel, rather than crossing that line and walking in the counsel of the wicked. (Psalm 1)

Since David has set the Lord always before him, he knows that he won’t be shaken. (verse 8) Walking in the boundaries that God has set forth causes David to rest secure. (verse 9) Some people may perceive God as a cruel dictator who won’t let you have any fun.  They think of Him as a God who gives you a huge list of things that you can no longer do.  David sees those same boundaries as a pleasant thing. That is why he was able to say in verse nine that he could rest securely.  The results of staying in God’s boundary lines leads to being filled with joy and finding eternal pleasures. (verse 11)

Are you staying in the boundary lines?
© 2005, Stacy R. Miller

Pit Bull Attack

Pit Bull Attack

Several years ago, while I was pushing my daughter in her stroller and enjoying a leisurely walk with my mother, I was attacked by a pit bull.  I was minding my own business, and without warning, I suddenly feel a pit bull jumping on me.  Isn’t that how Satan works?  He watches, just waiting for when you are carefree and unaware of his presence, and suddenly, without warning, he attacks.  He gets his teeth in you, and much like a pit bull, he doesn’t want to let go.

When I went to the Emergency Room, they cleansed and bandaged my wound, and gave me after-care instructions on how to treat the wound.  When we’ve been spiritually wounded, our Great Physician can pour the soothing oil of the Holy Spirit to bring healing, and He gives us after-care instructions in His Word.

The doctor told me that trying to stitch a dog bite would really increase my chances of getting a nasty infection.  Having decided against stitches, I was left with two huge, oozing places on my leg.  The wounds oozed nasty-looking stuff for several weeks following the attack.  When we’ve been hurt by someone, and we fail to take it to the Lord and leave it with Him, we also ooze.  It can ooze forth in cynical, bitter comments.  It can ooze out in a rage of anger.  It can ooze from our countenance.  If we take it to the cross, God can replace the poisonous oozing with the healing balm of Gilead.

A dog’s bite is very dirty, so the doctor prescribed a strong antibiotic for me.  It helped to curb any further risks of infection.  One type of spiritual infection that many of us face is that of harboring unforgiveness.  When Satan comes as a pit bull, ready to latch onto us with unforgiveness, our antibiotic may simply be telling our self, “I choose to forgive.”  Just as we may need to take an antibiotic several times a day, we may also need to repeat several times a day that we choose to forgive, rather than hold a grudge.

There were days when I didn’t want to do the extra care that having this big gash on my leg required.  Yet I chose to do it in spite of my feelings.  It’s the same way when we’ve been wronged.  Many times we may wake up and we don’t feel like granting forgiveness, but we need to make the choice to do it anyway.

Another thing the doctor told me to do while on the antibiotics was to take a heating pad and place it on the wound at least twice a day, for twenty minutes each time.  The heat would help draw the antibiotic to the wounded area, helping it to heal quicker.  It’s the same when we are dealing with a wound — whether the wound was inflicted by someone else, or as a result of our own sin.  If we stay in passionate pursuit of God, keeping ourselves hot, rather than lukewarm or cold, it will allow us to heal more quickly.  It will give Satan less of a foothold in our life where he can latch on like a pit bull.

The pit bull bit me on the outer side of my leg, right where it bends at the knee.  The wound kept trying to heal, but whenever I’d bend my leg, it would break open the scab.  We do the same thing when we’ve been hurt.  God tries to heal it, but we start rehashing the situation with anyone who will listen, and we tear open the wound again and again.

I was not only dealing with physical problems from this attack, but I was also having nightmares.  As soon as I’d close my eyes, I would see that dog, ready to jump at me again.  It was horrifying to deal with it every night.  On top of that, my daughter, who was only two years old at the time, would awaken if she heard a dog barking.  She would jump out of bed, run down the hall, screaming and crying with fear because she was afraid that the dog was coming to get her.  Even though the dog attacked me, she was with me, and she was affected by it.  When we are attacked spiritually, chances are high that it will affect those around us.

After the scab had healed, I was left with two nasty-looking scars.  In an effort to lessen the scarring, the doctor had me wear a silicone patch, often used on burn victims, to minimize their scarring.  The patch is sticky on one side, so it’s supposed to adhere to the skin.  Being that my scars were right where my leg bends, I had to wrap an Ace bandage around my leg to hold it in place.  Sometimes God has to wrap us up as well.  When we’ve been attacked by Satan, or when God decides that it’s time for us to deal with some of our own scars, God will shelter us in the shadow of His wings.  Sometimes He may even be forced to remove us from a place of ministry for a while, yet He continues to lovingly cover us with His wings.  All the while, He is tenderly ministering to us, even when we may be totally unaware of what He is doing.  We may not realize what all has transpired until many months later, or until God chooses to reveal it to us.

After the wound finally closed up, and the scab went away, many people assumed that I was healed.  Yet I knew better.  I was the one who had pain whenever I’d try to sleep on my left side.  I was the one who would cry out in pain if Rachel would come running to me and wrap her arms around that leg.  I finally went to see a specialist about it.  He told me that I needed surgery to help get rid of what was hiding in there — scar tissue.  Before I would get better, I was going to have to endure some more pain.  It’s the same with us in a spiritual sense.  Many times God will get us to a place in our lives where we have to deal with things that we’ve tried to hide.  He may need to use a spiritual knife to cut away some flesh that doesn’t belong there, or to remove some scar tissue from us.  Yes, it hurts to undergo a knife, but it’s sure worth it!  While the spiritual knife will hurt us, it will never harm us.

This whole process of trying to get completely healed not only took many months, but it was costly, and we had no insurance to pay for it.  However, if you are finding yourself in need of treatment for a spiritual ‘pit bull attack,’ Jesus has already paid the bill for you.  Go ahead and get treatment!
© 2005, Stacy R. Miller

Picking Scabs

Picking Scabs

In her desperation to give Abram an heir, Sarai decided to ‘help’ God by giving Hagar to Abram.  Sarai had no idea as to what kind of scab she was making by her actions.  Once Hagar was pregnant, she began to despise Sarai. (Gen. 16:4)
In picking scabs, Sarai begins to blame Abram for her suffering, even though SHE is the one who told Abram to sleep with her maidservant.  Not only that, she begins to mistreat Hagar.  How many times have we done something that we shouldn’t have, only to end up taking out our frustrations on those around us?

About thirteen years later, God speaks His promise to Abram regarding the covenant to be a father of many nations.  God even changes Abram’s name to Abraham, and Sarai’s name to Sarah.  Later, we see where the three men come to visit Abraham, telling him that Sarah will give birth to a son in about a year.  As we read about the birth of Isaac, it appears that maybe Sarah’s scabs have healed….Well, maybe not.  In Gen. 21:9, we see where Sarah observes Ishmael mocking Isaac.  She quickly orders Abraham to get rid of Hagar and Ishmael.  In picking her scab, I wonder if Sarah realized what kind of pain she was bringing upon Abraham. (Gen. 21:11)

If we look at the story of Esau and Jacob, we see more scabs. For starters, in Gen. 25:28, we see where Isaac loved Esau, and Rebecca loved Jacob.  I can see problems already. Can you imagine how your household would be if you chose to love one child more than the others, and your husband chose to love a different child more than the others?  There would be so much strife between husband and wife, not to mention the jealousy between the children.  Bickering would be an everyday occurrence in the home.  I can picture the children always competing to have the upper hand.

Looking back to our story, that is exactly what happened.  Esau comes home from having been outside for quite some time, feeling famished.  Jacob has some stew, and he is even willing to share it with Esau……for a price.  The scab is being picked again.

In Gen. 27, we see where Rebekah connives and manipulates to get the blessing of the firstborn for her favorite son.  She succeeds, but the thrill of conquering is short-lived.  The scab is so infected now that Jacob has to flee for his life, and he never sees his dear mother again.  What good is it if a man gains the whole world and loses his soul?  In their pursuit to have it all, Jacob and Rebekah lost each other.  Some wounds never heal.

Our final example of one who was guilty of picking scabs is Martha.  I use her as an example because there are many times when we are just like her.  Martha is frantically working in the kitchen, trying to prepare a feast for Jesus.  She is distracted by the many preparations, but she is also distracted in her thoughts, thinking about how Mary has left her to do all the work, while she is just sitting at the feet of Jesus, doing nothing.  I’ll bet she had all kinds of thoughts going through her mind.

“That lazy sister of mine has done it again — leaving all of the work to me.”
“I have never felt so ‘taken for granted’ in all of my life!”
“My sister is so undependable!  Just when I need her the most, she leaves me!”
“Mary may help for a while, but once there’s a man around, forget it!  She darts off to work her female charm.”
“I’ve had it!  Enough of this!  I’m going to have Jesus put her in her place, and tell her to get in here and help me.”
How many times do we listen to our negative self-talk while we are busily working around the house, at our job, or even serving in the church?

Martha has done what many of us do — she has equated serving the Master with communing with the Master.  In the process, she’s gotten the wrong focus, and now she’s picking scabs.

Martha is expecting to have Jesus put Mary in her place for doing nothing but just sitting there.  What Martha hears is something else.  Jesus is putting Martha in HER place!  He defends Mary’s choice to do nothing, but sit at His feet, saying that Mary has made the best choice, and He isn’t going to take it from her.

Do you need to sit quietly before Jesus, doing nothing, and let Him tend to all the scabs you’ve been picking?
© 2004, Stacy R Miller