Keeping a Tight Rein

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Earlier today I had a thought that came out of the blue. I’m not going to say what it was, because it wasn’t something I would normally think of and not anything I would ever act upon. It involved an area of sin that is not one I regularly have an issue with at all. The thought surprised me and I wondered, Why would I even think that? There is nothing appealing or enticing about that so why would I think it?

This past Sunday our preacher spoke on Mark 5:1-20. This is the story of the man with a legion of demons living within him. The demons had led this man to hurt himself in a variety of ways. When the man saw Jesus, the demons begged that He not send them into the abyss. Jesus agreed and sent them into a herd of pigs instead. The pigs then ran off a cliff and died. The ESV study Bible I was reading on Sunday made a note that the demons wanted only to hurt and destroy man, God’s creation. When that was no longer a possibility, they asked to be cast into the pigs where they were able to destroy another of God’s creations.

Satan only wants to destroy us. He will do it from within or without, in whatever manner he can manage. Something I read recently, I think it might have been Lysa TerKeurst, said that the devil has had thousands of years to study man and to know how to manipulate him. The devil knows how to hit us below the belt without us even realizing he did it.

Which brings me back to that errant thought I had today. Satan knows how to speak to our weaknesses. To whisper thoughts we would never consider on our own and paint them into a beautiful picture that beckons us. He tells us half-truths, excuses and justifications that encourage us to dip our toe into the well of worldliness. It is so easy to listen.

Interestingly enough last week I began working on memorizing a Bible verse.

 Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;                                                                                                                                                                                             2 Corinthians 10:5 (KJV)

Bringing into captivity every thought. Keeping a reign on what we are thinking.

I love that I had just learned this verse and today I saw how it is played out. Satan is always trying to get a toehold on us. We have to be vigilant and take control of what we are thinking. This unexpected thought was not something I could control, but I could make the decision not to act upon the thought. I brought the thought into captivity and held it to the light of God so I could see the truth of it. That is what we need to do with our negativity and false thoughts. We need to dwell on the truth and not on the lies the devil tirelessly feeds us.

Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.                                                                                                  Phillipians 4:8 (KJV)

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Be The Good

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A couple of weeks ago I went to the copy room to make some copies (obviously). I stood at the copier, waiting for my papers to be completed. I glanced across the hall and read the classroom door of a co-worker. “Believe there is is good in the world.” Hmm. Not enough of it. Racial tensions escalating. Politics heating up. I get really tired of this world sometimes. It seems the good is outbalanced by all the rest.

My negative thoughts continued as I smirked at the offending door. Then it was time to change classes and students began passing through the hallway. One of my paraprofessionals walked by with one of my students in a wheelchair. As children passed by my student I was surprised to see several boys stop and speak to him. One or two patted him as they walked by. He was grinning from ear to ear. My eyes welled up with tears.

Students with special needs are so often ignored. They may be stared at and whispered about, but it isn’t often they are made to be a part of things. Yet, here were all of these children stopping in the hallway to speak to this boy.

I glanced up and saw my co-worker’s door again. This time “Be The Good” stood out to me. There are many people who are “being the good,” and I need to try harder to be one of them. I too often let my world-weary negativity affect my outlook and I know it affects others. I don’t want to be Debbie Downer.

I’ve been reading a devotional on my Bible app that is adapted from  Joyce Meyer’s The Mind Connection. Joyce talks about how important it is to control the thoughts we have. It is so easy to hear the devil’s lies and believe them for the truth. Joyce recommends speaking out loud God’s truths we find in the Bible. For me, it is a continual struggle to stay positive, but I’m trying.

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.                                          Philippians 4:8 New International Version (NIV)

Going The Right Way

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I know it has been quite a while since I have made an appearance. All I can say is life has gotten in the way. I have a long list of excuses, but I won’t bore you with them. I have had a lot going on, but doesn’t everyone? There has been a great deal of soul searching and agonizing over life choices about careers, houses, and places to live. Which brings me to a topic that I have been thinking about for months.

A while ago my Ladies Bible study group did James McDonald’s study Gripped By the Greatness of God. There were some fantastic insights in the study and I think I will go through the book again soon, but one of the concepts that stood out the most to me was on the sovereignty of God.

I know I am not alone in the desire to seek God for decision making. Sometimes I pray and pray with no evident result. Yet I know He hears my prayers.   

The eyes of the Lord are toward the righteous and His ears                                                          are open to their cry. (Psalms 34:15, NASB)

James McDonald used an analogy that I have thought about often. He likened our lives to a boat trip. God has our destination planned, but there is more than one way to get there. God is going to get me to the place He wants me to be. Nothing I do is going to mess things up so badly that I don’t go where God is taking me. I like that. I like to know that when I am making choices, God is with me for the ride and He is always going to get me where He wants me and when He wants me to get there.

which God will bring about in his own time—God, the blessed and only Ruler, the King of kings and Lord of lords, (1Timothy 6:15, NIV)

 

 

The Angels Roar

The Angels Roar

Angels are mentioned almost 300 times in the Bible. In my mind I have always envisioned angels as gentle, benevolent beings carrying messages for God. They are kind and compassionate, always telling the human recipients to not be afraid before relating the communication from God. I think my perception of angels has been slightly skewed. They can be the gentle message bearers of God, but their official duty is so much more.

This past Sunday our church sang Hillsong’s “O’ Praise the Name (Anastasis).” I was struck by the phrase “the angels roar for Christ the King.” Those words are thrilling to me. I love the image of impassioned angels announcing the glory of our Lord with uplifted voices in a lion’s roar.

These are the angel-cherubim God stationed at the gate to the Garden of Eden following man’s expulsion in Genesis 3:24. Not the hollow images perpetuated by our society. They are the ones I want camped around, protecting me (Psalm 34:7). These are the beings I want fighting the battles and the final war (Rev. 12:7) with me. They are the servants of God, the ones God sends to protect us, the ones called to carry out God’s punishments.

I want to hear them sing out in the strength given to them by God. I want my ears to ring from their passionate cries in reverence to our Father. I want to hear them “roar.”

With His Will, There’s a Way

Today has been one of those days where I am plagued with doubt.

We had a serious behavior problem with one of my students this morning. Was there something else I could have done to prevent it? Am I trying hard enough? Maybe I am failing this student. Am I offering my paraprofessionals enough support and insight to aide them in their work? Have I let my workers down? Maybe I should stop teaching.

I converse with a co-worker who mentions the lengths she goes to provide healthy meals for her children. My son is a picky eater. I feed him things I know he will eat in addition to something new or less favored. Should I force him to eat the meals my husband and I eat? When he got hungry enough he would eat the healthier stuff. Right?

Then I think of my toddler. I feel bad I can’t stay home with her rather than send her to childcare. Is the childcare provider we’ve chosen the best we can get for her? How can I be sure she is getting the attention and time she needs when she is in someone else’s care? Do I spend enough time with her? Am I a bad mother? Am I failing my children?

I go home and work at my preferred job- writing. I am trying to move forward in this career. Do I need to spend more time on the manuscript I thought was finished? Is my manuscript good enough? Is my story even interesting to anyone else? Should I query another agent? Maybe I was wrong. Maybe this isn’t the path I feel God directing me toward. Am I failing God?

Despite my uncertainty, God tells me to keep working at it. Working at it all with confidence.

Therefore do not throw away your confidence, which has a great reward. For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God you may receive what is promised.  Hebrews 10:35-36 (ESV Study Bible)

I will never be perfect. I won’t be able to meet everyone’s needs every moment. God has put these difficult tasks before me and expects me to continue working at them with confidence. Knowing that by being in His WILL, I can achieve the rewards I hope for. I WILL be able to help provide an education for children with profound disabilities. I WILL be a good and helpful support for the people I supervise. I WILL be able to provide my children with a healthy environment to grow and reach their full potential. 

Waiting With Hope

I’ve been struggling a lot with my work. I teach students with low-incidence disabilities. I have come to like it, but I originally did not want to teach in the “multi-handicapped” classroom. When I found out I was being moved into this position, I begged God not to put me there. I prayed and cried for Him to fix what I saw as a serious problem. I felt like He told me to hang in there because something truly amazing was going to come my way. Four years later and I’m still in the same position.

Every year there have been challenges. My room was flooded after it was decorated, and I was forced to move rooms. The entire bottom floor of the school building was flooded, and the school was moved to a temporary location for nine weeks. New students with disabilities I felt I was ill-equipped to provide services for came to my class. Every time a seemingly insurmountable problem occurred, I begged God to take me out of the situation. Take me from this position that I never wanted in the first place. He always said, “No.”

This year I have several students with severe behavior problems. I feel like most of my school day is spent chasing students to calm them down and solve their problems rather than teaching. A couple of the students have aggressive behaviors, and I am at a loss as to how to help them.

So what do I do of course? I pray and beg God to take me out of this situation. I cry. I cajole. I scan the internet and newspapers to see what other careers I might try. I ask my Facebook family to keep an eye open for jobs I might be interested in. I fall into depression, feeling sorry for myself.

Then I read the daily devotional at Faith Gateway from December 14, 2015. The title was Believing in Hope by L. B. Cowman. What a revelation! George did what God wants me to do. Even though George had no physical evidence, he trusted that his grandmother would follow through on the promise she had made.  The story cites Romans 4:18 and I think it speaks to the situation perfectly.

 Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed and so became the father of many nations, just as it had been said to him..(Romans 4:18)

Even though I can’t yet see the amazing things God has planned for me, I need to know He is busy working to bring those incredible blessings to fruition. Instead of crying for relief every time a minor setback occurs, I will wait with hope. I will endeavor to be more like George and never waiver in my faith that God will come through with the promises he has made to me.