Tag Archives: Sin

Messy Places Require Tidying

The Basement--Photobucket

“Messy places require tidying and permanent cleanness requires God.”

We all have “messy places.” God has been busy lately showing me where all of mine are. One of God’s great desires is to get into the deepest recesses of my heart, dispelling the darkness that resides there. And when He sweeps those nasty, dank places clean with the power of the Holy Spirit, I am clean indeed.

The following is from my daughter’s blog, “My Soul Found Rest.” I am so grateful for all that God has been doing in her life and for her willingness to let Him do it.

The Hidden Place

“Hello? Is anyone there?” I brushed away the cobwebs from the doorway and peered into the gloom. A chill breeze brushed past me, and I shivered. The thought of venturing into such a forbidding place was unthinkable. I stood in the doorway, teetering with indecision.

Musty rooms, cobwebs, chill breezes: such are the components of a bad horror story. But this is no horror story; it is a vivid picture of what goes on inside me. That doorway is the door to my heart, the deepest place inside me where I fear to tread. “Here there be monsters,” reads the saying, and that’s exactly what it feels like.

What’s inside? What squashed hopes, unfulfilled dreams, thwarted longings, long-held grudges, impassioned jealousies, and gripping fears might turn into terrible beasts and leap out at me from the shadows? What holds me captive and prevents me from accepting the truth that has penetrated only so far as my mind? Do I even want to know?

The truth is that sometimes I don’t. If I’m totally honest, life seems a lot easier when I can cover over and tidy the entrance to the messy places. With a little paint and dim lighting, it looks almost respectable. But when God digs deep within, and the lamp of the Lord lights up my innermost places, then the façade is shown for what is.

I tremble when I hear the “suggestion” of the Lord: “Daughter, let’s go down here. What’s in here?” The question is for my benefit–it’s not as if He doesn’t know. I don’t want to answer His question or follow His suggestion. But messy places require tidying, and permanent cleanness requires God, not my shabby painting skills. Clinging to Him, I follow the light of His lantern through the doorway.

I am willing, Lord, because Yours is the hand that does the tidying…

“Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.”  Psalm 119:105 (NKJV)

“The spirit of man is the lamp of the LORD, searching all the inner depths of his heart.” Proverbs 20:27 (NKJV)

By My Soul Found Rest
Copyright © 2012
Used with permission

Bits Of Thomas Watson

Thomas Watson (1620-1686) was a puritan author and preacher who held strong Presbyterian views. Eventually labeled as a non-conformist, he preached until his health failed, dying suddenly while in secret prayer. Below are a few thoughts to ruminate over today as you consider your relationship to Jesus Christ on this Good Friday. Without His sacrifice on our behalf, there would be no remission of sins and reconciliation to the Father.  

“God intermixeth mercy with affliction: he steeps his sword of justice in the oil of mercy; there was no night so dark, but Israel had a pillar of fire in it; there is no condition so dismal, but we may see a pillar of fire to give light. If the body be in pain, conscience is in peace, –there is mercy: affliction is for the prevention of sin, –there is mercy. In the ark there was a rod and a pot of manna, the emblem of a Christian’s condition, mercy interlined with judgment.”

“People are usually better in adversity, than prosperity. A prosperous condition is not always so safe. True, it is more pleasing to the flesh – but it is not always best. In a prosperous state, there is more burden. Many look at the shining and glittering of prosperity – but not at the burdens of prosperity.”

“If you have felt the power and authority of the word upon your conscience; if you can say as David, “Thy word hath quickened me.” Christian, bless God that he has not only given thee his word to be a rule of holiness, but his grace to be a principle of holiness.”

“Faith holds the promise in one hand, and Christ in the other.”

“Meditation doth discriminate and characterise a man; by this he may take a measure of his heart, whether it be good or bad; let me allude to that; ‘For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he.’ Proverbs 23:7. As the meditation is, such is the man. Meditation is the touchstone of a Christian; it shows what metal he is made of. It is a spiritual index; the index shows what is in the book, so meditation shows what is in the heart.”

“What fools are they who, for a drop of pleasure, drink a sea of wrath.”

“Every pardon a sinner hath is written in Christ’s blood.”

“To serve God, to love God, to enjoy God, is the sweetest freedom in the world.”

“The glory of God is a silver thread which must run through all of our actions.”

“He that chooses God, devotes himself to God as the vessels of the sanctuary were consecrated and set apart from common to holy uses, so he that has chosen God to be his God, has dedicated himself to God, and will no more be devoted to profane uses.”

“A true saint is a divine landscape or picture, where all the rare beauties of Christ are lively portrayed and drawn forth. He hath the same spirit, the same judgment, the same will with Christ.”

“Water is useful to the ship and helps it to sail better to the haven, but let the water get into the ship, if it is not pumped out, it drowns the ship. So riches are useful and convenient for our passage. We sail more comfortably with them through the troubles of this world; but if the water gets into the ship, if love of riches gets into the heart, then we are drowned by them.”

“God will fill the hungry because He Himself has stirred up the hunger. As in the case of prayer, when God prepares the heart to pray, He prepares His ear to hear (Ps. 10:17). So in the case of spiritual hunger, when God prepares the heart to hunger, He will prepare His hand to fill.”

“Prayer delights God’s ear; it melts His heart; and opens His hand. God cannot deny a praying soul.”

“Soon the battle will be over. It will not be long now before the day will come when Satan will no longer trouble us. There will be no more domination, temptation, accusation, or confrontation. Our warfare will be over and our commander, Jesus Christ, will call us away from the battlefield to receive the victor’s crown.”

“When sin is your burden, Christ will be your delight.”

Original Content: Copyright © 2012 by Susan E. Johnson
All rights reserved

Messy Places

Messy places require tidying and permanent cleanness requires God.”

We all have “messy places.” One of God’s greatest desires is to get into the deepest recesses of our hearts, dispelling the darkness that resides there. And when He sweeps those nasty, dank places clean with the power of the Holy Spirit, we are clean indeed.

The following is from my daughter’s blog, “My Soul Found Rest.” I am so grateful for all that God has been doing in her life and for her willingness to let Him do it.

The Hidden Place

“Hello? Is anyone there?” I brushed away the cobwebs from the doorway and peered into the gloom. A chill breeze brushed past me, and I shivered. The thought of venturing into such a forbidding place was unthinkable. I stood in the doorway, teetering with indecision.

Musty rooms, cobwebs, chill breezes: such are the components of a bad horror story. But this is no horror story; it is a vivid picture of what goes on inside me. That doorway is the door to my heart, the deepest place inside me where I fear to tread. “Here there be monsters,” reads the saying, and that’s exactly what it feels like.

What’s inside? What squashed hopes, unfulfilled dreams, thwarted longings, long-held grudges, impassioned jealousies, and gripping fears might turn into terrible beasts and leap out at me from the shadows? What holds me captive and prevents me from accepting the truth that has penetrated only so far as my mind? Do I even want to know?

The truth is that sometimes I don’t. If I’m totally honest, life seems a lot easier when I can cover over and tidy the entrance to the messy places. With a little paint and dim lighting, it looks almost respectable. But when God digs deep within, and the lamp of the Lord lights up my innermost places, then the façade is shown for what is.

I tremble when I hear the “suggestion” of the Lord: “Daughter, let’s go down here. What’s in here?” The question is for my benefit–it’s not as if He doesn’t know. I don’t want to answer His question or follow His suggestion. But messy places require tidying, and permanent cleanness requires God, not my shabby painting skills. Clinging to Him, I follow the light of His lantern through the doorway.

I am willing, Lord, because Yours is the hand that does the tidying…

“Your word is a lamp to my feet And a light to my path.” Psalm 119:105 (NKJV)

“The spirit of man is the lamp of the LORD, searching all the inner depths of his heart.” Proverbs 20:27 (NKJV)

By My Soul Found Rest
Copyright © 2012
Used with permission

Bits Of Billy Sunday

Below are a few pithy quotes from Billy Sunday.  I have often stated that, “Sitting in church doesn’t make you a Christian any more than sitting in a garage makes you a car.”  I had no idea that this had its origins in a quote by Billy Sunday. Billy Sunday, by what little I have read, had an interesting life.  I would guess that his greatest disappointment was in the fact that his children did not live and walk in the faith that he held so tightly to. The heartbreak must have been profound for a man who did not mince words about the results of sin.

I hope that you will find much wisdom in these quotes below. They reminded me that, no matter what generation we are born into, the effect of sin on our lives is the same. We can dress it up, call it by another name, but sin is still sin, with the same predictable results.

“If you don’t do your part, don’t blame God.”

“More men fail through lack of purpose than lack of talent.”

“The backslider likes the preaching that wouldn’t hit the side of a house, while the real disciple is delighted when the truth brings him to his knees.”

“There are some so-called Christian homes today with books on the shelves of the library that have no more business there than a rattler crawling about on the floor, or a poison within the child’s reach.”

“Personal liberty is not personal license.”

“Going to church doesn’t make you a Christian any more than going to a garage makes you an automobile.”

“Live so that when the final summons comes you will leave something more behind you than an epitaph on a tombstone or an obituary in a newspaper.”

“Not to walk in the straight and narrow way yourself, is to give the devil the biggest kind of a chance to get our children.”

“We have a God who delights in impossibilities.”

“Hell is the highest reward that the devil can offer you for being a servant of his.”

“God likes a little humor, as is evidence by the fact that he made the monkeys, the parrot — and some of you people.”

“There are two hundred and fifty-six names given in the Bible for the Lord Jesus Christ, and I suppose this was because He was infinitely beyond all that any one name could express.”

“I believe that a long step toward public morality will have been taken when sins are called by their right names.”

“There is more power in a mother’s hand than in a king’s scepter.”

“If you want to drive the devil out of the world, hit him with a cradle instead of a crutch.”

“Temptation is the devil looking through the keyhole. Yielding is opening the door and inviting him in.”

“The inconsistency is not in the Bible, but in your life.”

Copyright © 2011 by Susan E. Johnson
All rights reserved

Homemade Brownies

This story has been around for many years in roughly the same format/text.  Recently, my husband and I made a decision to disassociate ourselves from a covenantal group we cared deeply about. It was one of the most difficult decisions we have ever had to make; we agonized over it for months, trying to find a way out of making it.  We sought counsel from several wise, godly friends and then agonized some more. After the decision was finally made, I was reminded of this story and went searching for it. It is an example that each of us can relate to. We all have areas in our lives where we need to “tighten up”. This is the process of sanctification for a Christian. We work out our salvation each day with “fear and trembling” (Philippians 2:12-16).

Homemade Brownies

Last week, I walked into my office to find a sandwich bag on my desk containing three chewy, tasty, homemade chocolate brownies. Some thoughtful and anonymous person who knew my love for tasty homemade brownies had placed them there, along with a hand written short story. I immediately sat down and began eating the first chewy, tasty, homemade brownie as I read the following story:

Two teenagers asked their father if they could go the theatre to watch a movie that all their friends had seen. After reading some reviews about the movie on the Internet, he denied their request.

“Aw dad, why not?” they complained. “It is rated PG-13, and we’re both older than thirteen!”

Dad replied: “Because that movie contains nudity and portrays immorality as being normal and acceptable behavior.”

“But Dad, those are just very small parts of the movie! That’s what our friends who’ve seen it have told us. The movie is two hours long and those scenes are just a few minutes of the total film! It’s based on a true story, good triumphs over evil, and there are other redeeming themes like courage and self-sacrifice. Even the movie review websites say that!”

“My answer is no, and that is my final answer. You are welcome to stay home tonight, invite some of your friends over, and watch one of the good videos we have in our home collection. But you will not go and watch that film. End of discussion.”

The two teenagers walked dejectedly into the family room and slumped down on the couch. As they sulked, they were surprised to hear the sounds of their father preparing something in the kitchen. They soon recognized the wonderful aroma of brownies baking in the oven, and one of the teenagers said to the other, “Dad must be feeling guilty, and now he’s going to try to make it up to us with some fresh brownies. Maybe we can soften him with lots of praise when he brings them out to us and persuade him to let us go to that movie after all.”

About that time I began eating the second brownie from the sandwich bag and wondered if there was some connection to the brownies I was eating and the brownies in the story. I kept reading. . .

The teens were not disappointed. Soon their father appeared with a plate of warm brownies, which he offered to his kids. They each took one. Then their father said, “Before you eat, I want to tell you something: I love you both so much.” The teenagers smiled at each other with knowing glances. Dad was softening. “That is why I’ve made these brownies with the very best ingredients. I’ve made them from scratch. Most of the ingredients are even organic. The best organic flour. The best free-range eggs. The best organic sugar. Premium vanilla and chocolate.”

The brownies looked mouth-watering, and the teens began to become a little impatient with their dad’s long speech.

“But I want to be perfectly honest with you. There is one ingredient I added that is not usually found in brownies. I got that ingredient from our own back yard. But you needn’t worry, because I only added the tiniest bit of that ingredient to your brownies. The amount of the portion is practically insignificant. So go ahead, take a bite and let me know what you think.”

“Dad, would you mind telling us what that mystery ingredient is before we eat them?”

“Why? The portion I added was so small–just a teaspoonful. You won’t even taste it.”

“Come on, Dad, just tell us what that ingredient is.”

“Don’t worry! It is organic, just like the other ingredients.”

“Dad!”

“Well, OK, if you insist. That secret ingredient is fresh organic. . . dog poop.”

I immediately stopped chewing that second brownie and I spit it out into the wastebasket by my desk. I continued reading, now fearful of the paragraphs that still remained.

Both teens instantly dropped their brownies back on the plate and began inspecting their fingers with horror.

“DAD! Why did you do that? You’ve tortured us by making us smell those brownies baking for the past half hour, and now you tell us that you added dog poop! We can’t eat these brownies!”

“Why not? The amount of dog poop is very small compared to the rest of the ingredients. It won’t hurt you. It’s been cooked right along with the other ingredients. You won’t even taste it. It has the same consistency as the brownies. Go ahead and eat them!”

“No, Dad. . . NEVER!”

“And that is the same reason I won’t allow you to go watch that movie. You wouldn’t tolerate a little dog poop in your brownies, so why should you tolerate a little immorality in your movies? We pray that God will not lead us unto temptation, so how can we, in good conscience, entertain ourselves with something that will imprint a sinful image in our minds that will lead us into temptation long after we first see it?”

I discarded what remained of the second brownie, as well as the entire untouched third brownie. What had been irresistible a minute ago had become detestable. And only because of the very slim chance that what I was eating was slightly polluted. (Surely it wasn’t. . .but I couldn’t convince myself.)

What a good lesson about purity! Why do we tolerate any sin? On the day of the Passover, the Israelites were commanded to remove every bit of leaven from their homes. Sin is like leaven — a little bit leavens the whole lump.  Faith and sin don’t mix.

Author Unknown

Edited by Susan E. Johnson

“On the twenty-fourth day of the ninth month, in the second year of Darius, the word of the LORD came by Haggai the prophet, saying, “Thus says the LORD of hosts: ‘Now, ask the priests concerning the law, saying, “If one carries holy meat in the fold of his garment, and with the edge he touches bread or stew, wine or oil, or any food, will it become holy?”'” Then the priests answered and said, “No.”

And Haggai said, “If one who is unclean because of a dead body touches any of these, will it be unclean?”  So the priests answered and said, “It shall be unclean.”

Then Haggai answered and said, “‘So is this people, and so is this nation before Me,’ says the LORD, ‘and so is every work of their hands; and what they offer there is unclean.”  Haggai 2:10-14 (NKJV)

Your glorying is not good. Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump? Therefore purge out the old leaven, that you may be a new lump, since you truly are unleavened. For indeed Christ, our Passover, was sacrificed for us.” 1 Corinthians 5:6,7 (NKJV)

Copyright © 2011 by Susan E. Johnson
All rights reserved

The Fair-Haired Child

Susan-5 Years Old

There Was a Little Girl
by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

There was a little girl,
Who had a little curl,
Right in the middle of her forehead.
When she was good,
She was very good indeed,
But when she was bad she was horrid.

The Fair-Haired Child

There was once a fair-haired child who often heard this poem when she was young. By all accounts, she was said to be bright and lovely; possessing a tender and compassionate heart.  Yet, she lacked any real confidence, quiet and shy to the extreme.  In social situations frequently aware that she was different, seeming to be lacking in those traits which made her readily accepted by her peers, she withdrew into herself, listening to that voice which constantly whispered to her: “Never good enough.”  Easily bruised, she learned to shut others out at the first sign of pain—too afraid that if others knew who she really was, there would be more ridicule, rejection, or humiliation–loneliness and isolation easier to bear than the vulnerability and fear of letting others get too close.

As she grew older, others considered her to be competent and confident, with wisdom beyond her years, yet that voice continued to whisper:  “Never good enough.”  She did not understand that the drive for perfection was the complete opposite from the call to excellence. It was easier to focus on what was lacking than grateful for what was God-given—unable to understand that being perceived as different from those she saw around her didn’t mean “odd” or “unacceptable” or “worthless” or “flawed.”

Not until she had a child of her own did the realization began to dawn–this child was a special treasure—the way God saw her too. Not wanting her child to suffer the same shyness and self-doubt which had plagued her for decades, she began to fill the child’s heart and thoughts with the goodness of God’s many gifts to her and the special call on her life that required each specific skill and talent—something she hadn’t heard herself as a child, even though well-loved.  She had begun to understand that God makes no mistakes in who He creates, precisely giving to each those specific gifts, talents,  and personality traits which will enable them to walk confidently into His pre-ordained call for their lives.

There is no telling what the fair-haired child missed by listening to those decades of demonic lies and allowing the strangle hold of fear to dominate her life. The heart seared with numbness from pushing the pain ever deeper, was difficult to revive. Certainly fear does not come from God—faith is His path.  She is beginning to understand her value is in what God created and Jesus Christ died for on Calvary, not in Satan’s whispered lies or what she thought was true. She became overwhelmed with anger hearing those same lies whispered to others like her—anger at what is being stolen from them; wanting their hearts healed and restored before decades are wasted or lost.

She does not know what the end of this story will be—only God knows that.  However, she has come to understand that God creates each individual for His purposes and the advancement of His Kingdom.  No one is unnecessary, no one doesn’t fit, no one is without a God-given inheritance or without a purpose, and no one is without incredible value to Him–each one a unique and special treasure.  How could she have valued as worthless what God values so highly? How could she have valued what others thought of her more than what God had said was true?

For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart.” Jeremiah 29: 11-13 (NKJV)

For you are a holy people to the LORD your God; the LORD your God has chosen you to be a people for Himself, a special treasure above all the peoples on the earth.” Deuteronomy 7:6 (NKJV)

Copyright © 2010 by Susan E. Johnson
All rights reserved