Archive for the ‘Gospel Living’ Category

No More Mommy Wars

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Moms these days are weary. Exhausted. Frazzled. Stressed. But we aren’t simply weary because we were up all night with a teething baby, or that our children will not obey, or that no matter how many times we pick up messes, they instantly reappear.

 

We are weary because no matter how much we do, it never feels like enough to win the Mommy Wars. You know what I mean by Mommy Wars. That constant competition we feel with other moms (yes, even our best friends) to be the best mom humanly possible. But if we are being perfectly honest with ourselves, is it really simply that we want to be the best mom possible? Or is it that we tear down other moms in an effort to build ourselves up? To make us feel better about our own imperfect parenting. We don’t simply want to be a good mom. We want to be the best. Better than everyone around us. And this competitive spirit is destructive and ungodly and is ripping apart our unity in Christ.

 

As soon as we get that positive pregnancy test, we begin the pursuit of being the best parent possible to produce the best children possible.  We read books on child training so that our children will be the best behaved children around. But then are we shaking our heads in disapproval when we see our friend’s children misbehave, thinking to ourselves, “It’s no wonder. If only they would apply ________ method, their children would behave.”? We research nutrition and healthy eating and work hard at implementing them in our homes.  But then do we criticize other moms for “obviously not caring enough about their children” to give them better food to eat? We spend countless hours organizing educational, developmental activities for our children, pouring our whole selves into them. And then do we frown in disapproval at the mom who takes time to sit down at a coffee shop by herself once a week, accusing her of neglect and self-centerdness?

 

If we have concluded that we want to raise our children on a schedule, do we assume that everyone should raise their children on a schedule as well? If we believe our family is best served by not allowing television and video games, then do we assume everyone who cares about the development of their children will do likewise? If we decide to homeschool our children, do we take pride in that we are raising our children in the Lord, and other parents are neglecting their responsibilities?

 

The list of possible ways in which we can compare and judge one another is endless, and all day long, we can weigh ourselves by these lists, either falling miserably short or succeeding. When we get on Facebook or Pinterest and see what other moms are doing, when we read a mom blog about home organization with little children, when we go to mom’s group and watch our children playing with others. We are tempted to compare, analyze, judge, and feel judged.

 

This attitude does little to foster sisterly oneness within the Body of Christ, and it certainly does nothing to extend grace to one another in our failures.  

 

We must be careful not to superimpose so many extrabiblical standards on what it looks like to be a good wife, mother, and family, that we are constantly weighed down by the burden of guilt and failure.  If we want to look at what the Bible says directly regarding parenting, amazingly enough, there are only two prescriptive passages on parenting in the New Testament. Let’s take a quick look.
 

Ephesians 6:4 “Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.”

 

Colossians 3:21 “Fathers, do not provoke your children, lest they become discouraged.”

 

There are also a handful of passages about the importance of disciplining our children out of love (Proverbs 13:24; 22:15;23:13-24;29:15 Hebrews 12:7-11).

 

We are also commanded to teach our children Deuteronomy 11:19 “You shall teach them to your children, talking of them when you are sitting in your house, and when you are walking by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.”

 

And then there’s the ever famous “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.” Proverbs 22:6

 

That’s about it. From these passages we can gain an understanding that we are to teach, train, and discipline our children with patience, gentleness, and love. But the Bible doesn’t say how all of this looks specifically. It doesn’t give specific methods to produce godly, obedient children. In fact, the Bible tells us that if our children are obedient and godly, that is a work of God, and we cannot take credit.

 

The Bible doesn’t say it is right or wrong to co-sleep with your baby. Scripture doesn’t reveal whether it is beneficial to feed your baby on a schedule, or on-demand. God doesn’t prescribe exactly how it looks to teach our children to sit quietly in a church service, or at which age they are able to learn to do this. The Bible doesn’t say that we ought to train our children to play only with one toy at a time, or with a plethora. These are issues on which we can study humanity, personality, individual propensity towards sin, and conclude the best way in which to train and disciple our family.

 

Now, just because the Bible doesn’t give specific methods of discipline and instruction doesn’t mean we shouldn’t have meaningful conversations about practical application of these Biblical truths. This isn’t to say that you shouldn’t have desires, goals, intentions for how you would like your family to function. Just because the Bible doesn’t address these issues point blank doesn’t mean that there aren’t biblical principles that we can apply to training and disciplining our children.  But the specific conclusions we come to about childrearing should be held loosely, and above all, not applied to others in criticism or judgment. As we do this, we must remember that each family is unique, made up of different people with different needs. Therefore, each of our application of these truths will look different.

 

Let’s not import Biblical significance to personal preference, and therefore cause division in the Body of Christ where God did not put division. As Elyse Fitzpatrick says in her phenomenal book Give them Grace, “When we make parenting more complex than God has made it, we afflict ourselves with burdens too heavy for us to carry, and we are unintentionally presuming that the good news of the gospel is insufficient.” Let’s extend grace to others as we wish they would extend grace to us as we parent. And most of all, let’s remember the sovereignty of God as we parent. It does not depend on us to raise perfect, healthy children. We are responsible to seek God, train up our children, and point them to Christ. But the results are up to him. “Make it your overriding desire that the Father would be glorified in every aspect of your life, whichever way he turns it. Perhaps his plan is for your family to be a wonderful example of his grace because you have respectful, obedient children. Perhaps his plan won’t look anything like that. Perhaps his plan will be weakness, persecution, calamity, affliction. But whatever his plan is for you, you can rest in the assurance that he will always strengthen you by his grace and for his glory.”

 

There is not a parenting method that is flawless and that will produce perfect, godly, obedient children. And if this is our goal, than we have the wrong priorities. We are responsible to raise our children up in the knowledge of the Lord, but we cannot change our children’s hearts. That is God’s work. It is our responsibility to study the Scriptures, study our family’s needs, and train and instruct how God leads. It is God’s responsibility to cause fruit from our labor. It is not for us to judge and criticize another mom because she parents differently or  has different priorities, or because she is not having the same “results.” Remember that there is rarely a mother who actually doesn’t love her children or care about their wellbeing. Remember that the mom next door who parents completely differently than you loves her children just as much as you do.

 

Give yourself grace today, Mommy, as you seek to imperfectly parent your children. And give other mamas grace as they do the same. Instead of harsh criticism and whispering behind backs to point out flaws in others, wrap your arms around the hurting, weary struggling mom next to you, and point her to Christ.

Reflections on One Thousand Gifts, Part 1

It has become my new afternoon routine.  A mad-rush shuffle to get both kids fed, cleaned, changed, read to, and then snuggled into bed for a nap, followed by a hurried prayer as I run up the stairs that Eliana will please, please actually take a nap.  I warm my already thrice-warmed coffee from this morning’s failed quiet time, grab my book, and curl up on the couch for ten sweet minutes of quiet solitude. I hope. I pray.

I am reading One Thousand Gifts, by Ann Voskamp.  It has been on my reading list for quite awhile now, and I have scanned through it a few times at friend’s houses, anxious to discover the secret of contentment she seems to have found in simply recording every little gift throughout the day.  But so far, I cannot reconcile the testimonies of lives changed by this simple practice, and I feel the need to really, thoroughly read this book myself. I must be missing something.

My days are a continuous blur of constantly meeting needs. From the moment I rise all too early in the morning, to the time that I finally drop, exhausted, into bed at night, only to be wakened two or three time more, it seems I am ever fulfilling someone’s need for something.  Do this, do that, wash this, wash that, wipe this, clean that up, put this away.  Now do it all over again. And again. And again. I love my family. But I have become bone weary. The multitude of mundane tasks have overwhelmed me, paralyzing me with their monotony, their seeming purposelessness. Each day seems harder than the one before it.  Each day, I feel my soul hardening more and more, restlessness, anger, and bitterness seeping out my pores.  Something has to change. And soon.

So I warm up my coffee and open my book, praying that God will enlighten me and waken me out of his haze I am living in.  As I begin to read One Thousand Gifts, my heart clenches within me, and I am brought to tears.  This woman is writing to me.  No, this woman is me.

“I wake to the discontent of life in my skin.  I wake to self-hatred.  To the wrestle to get it all done, the relentless anxiety that I am failing.  Always, the failing.  I yell at my children, fester with bitterness, forget doctors appointments, lose library books, live selfishly, skip prayer, complain, go to bed too late, neglect cleaning the toilets.  I live tired.  Afraid. Anxious. Weary.  Years, I feel it in the veins, the pulsing of ruptured hopes.  Would I ever be enough, find enough, do enough?

To live either fully alive…or in empty nothingness…It’s the life in between, the days of walking lifeless, the years calloused and simply going through the hollow motions, the self-protecting by self-distracting, the body never waking, that’s lost all capacity to fully feel–this is the life in between that makes us the wild walking dead.”

She is perfectly, completely describing me.  I am both ashamed and relieved to admit it.  I read her words to my husband. He nods contemplatively, a confirming smile on his face. Yep.  That’s me, alright. But it certainly didn’t used to be.  Where on earth did my joy go?

One thing I know. I am done living the life in between. I want to live again. Fully, completely.

As I pick up my pen to start my own list of gifts, I find my mind wandering, grasping, searching for some mundane thing that I can actually be thankful for instead of gripe about. I scratch out one or two, haltingly, hesitantly.  Now I am embarrassed.  How is it that I cannot even think of the simple things to be thankful for? Have I drifted so far from the path of Right Thinking that I cannot even think of blessings? Everything that comes to my mind comes with a caveat, a sarcastic, almost bitter smile, or an exception clause.

1. The words “Help, please” from a little mouth (instead of the usual wail, whine, and ensuing tantrum)
2. A near-disaster averted due to my lightning-fast hands and reflexes
3. No nap for Baby. (Oh, well, now I can put her to bed early!)

No, no, no, this is not what she is talking about when she writes about recording gifts from God!  Things I love.  I can feel the negativity seeping through my pen ink onto the paper, blotting the whole thing into a mess.  I am doing this all wrong.  Little blessings. Real blessings.  Without the complaints along with them. Lord, teach me. Teach me how to do this again. I, like Ann, want to live the fullest life. I “yearn for the stuff of saints, the hard language, the fluency of thanksgiving in all, even the ugliest and most heartbreaking.”

A piercing, mournful wail wafts up from the basement, and I am startled out of my blissful reverie. There will be no nap for Baby once again today.

I close my book, dump the rest of my coffee, and choose to be thankful for the ten minutes of solitude. No, I am nowhere near arrived yet. I am still cynical, doubting, and oh, so weary.  But I will pick it back up again tomorrow, keep digging, and keep choosing thankfulness. I will not give up. I will not give in.

Getting Back Up on My Feet–or Trying To

It has been pretty quiet on the blog front lately.  All I have managed to keep up with are Eliana’s monthly updates, and that is only eeked out because I desperately want her to have those to look back on. I wish I had been able to do it with Jeshuah when he was that age, so I try very hard to at least publish those.  I have not kept up well on the Monthly Chemical Elimination. Sometimes I simply can’t find good natural alternatives.  Sometimes we just can’t afford them.  Sometimes I just don’t have the time or energy to sit down and blog about it.  While we began the GAPS diet, we were unable to maintain it.   It is very, very hard.  And very expensive.  Maybe someday…

We have had a lot going on that was either not blog-worthy, or too deep to process in cyberspace.  Some of my absence is due to the fact that, while two kids is even more fun than one, it is definitely more time-consuming!  Part of my absence is from attempting to be more present with my children and have less of on on-line presence.  That I do not regret at all:-) Some of my laxity has been two months of basement renovation stretching into an agonizing six months of boxes, piles, and drywall dust scattered across every corner of the house.  Or perhaps it is the fact I have picked up some extra hours doing bookkeeping during the kids naps a couple of days a week.  (Those naps are usually when my creative juices begin to flow a bit more freely in the quiet and solitude.)  Another issue that has been weighing heavier and heavier on my heart is the fact that, as much improvement as we have seen in Jeshuah over the last year on the autistic scale, there are some markers creeping back up that whisper that he may still have some residual issues that cannot be repaired by chiropractic care.  We continue to be concerned about a possible sensory disorder, as well as some mild cognitive and developmental delays.  And some days just are so exhausting I feel that I can barely put one foot in front of the other.  Some days it is simply the stress and anxiety of the questions of what is wrong and how we can help him that wear on me.

I have been in a season of chaos and disorder.  While my house has been in upheaval, so has everything else it seems.  I have let slide the routines that have helped maintain my sanity in the past, feeling simply incapable of keeping up, and that perhaps a reprieve from so much order and structure would do me good.

It hasn’t.

It has not done any of us any good. Especially when we cannot find any clean clothes to wear:-)

I am now trying to re-instigate order, structure and routine into our home to bring it back into some semblance of peace.  One of the biggest struggles for Jehsuah is a lack of predictability and order.  Watching him these last few months, it is apparent how beneficial boundaries and structure are for him, and how much he struggles when it is absent.  So for his sake, as well as the rest of the family, I am trying to be more disciplined.

Most of all, I am begging for grace to accomplish all of the above, and to remember it is not about trying harder.  It is not about being stronger, for when I am weak, then HE is strong! It is not about me doing my best. It is about surrendering my life into Christ’s hands and asking Him to do the work through me.  He has always been faithful in the past. I know He will be faithful still.

Forgive me for the weighty tone of this post.  I am just recently coming to grips with the fact that Jeshuah may still need additional help, and I am exhausted by the mere thought.  I am finally admitting to myself and others that we may not be out of the woods.  And while I know of so many others out there who have so much more painful, difficult situations that they are facing, this is what we are facing.  And it is hard enough. But so thankful that God is good enough. So much more than good enough!

When the Gospel Becomes White Noise – Counsel From the Cross Devotional, Part 1

Click here for the introduction to this series.

“Many Christians love Jesus and the gospel but just don’t know how his incarnation, sinless life, substitutionary death, bodily resurrection, ascension, and reign ought to impact them in the ‘real world.'” 

Have you ever heard the phrase “familiarity breeds contempt”?  Well, that proverb is unfortunately true, even when it comes to believers and the gospel.  We have seen our sin, and how it deeply offends a holy God.  We have recognized that our sin caused the death of God’s Son Jesus Christ.  We have placed our trust in the truth that Jesus’ death paid the penalty for our sin.  And now we have been restored to fellowship with God, and we are new creations!

But somehow, once we have acknowledged and believed all of those things, we lose sight of the application of those truths in the pursuit of “deeper” things, or some secret to living the Christian life in victory.  The story of the gospel becomes old news, something that we “did,” and now we are ready to move on.  We hear the gospel over and over, and soon we find ourselves tuning it out, waiting for the “good stuff.”  We already  know the gospel.  Why do we need to hear it again and again, and how will it do us any good? Because of our familiarity with the truth, we stop allowing it to change our hearts.

In Counsel from the Cross, Elyse Fitzpatrick and Dennis Johnson call our attention to Ephesians 5:1 and ask what stands out to us in it.

Ephesians 5:1 “Therefore, be imitators of God as beloved children.”

As humans, we have a propensity to look inward, and a need to try to “fix” our current, sinful condition in our own strength.  We might look at this verse and see the command to “imitate God” and be tempted to despair at our failure to do that.  Or perhaps we will see the command and strive harder to do better at it.  It is all too easy for us to gloss over the “therefore” and “as beloved children” and go straight for the imperative.  But “therefore” and “as beloved children” are placed there for a very important reason.  If we gloss over those words, we miss the very truth that will enable us to live out the command–the gospel itself.  But how is the gospel in those words? You see, they are so familiar to us that we cannot even hear them anymore.

“You see, if certain concepts in Scripture have become white noise to us, it will be all too easy to read a verse like Ephesians 5:1 and see only its obligations.  I, too, can see myself using the verse to develop a list of the attributes of God and then mking a plan to implement those attributes in my daily life…This month I will concentrate on being holy.  I’ll research what it means and then I’ll try to implement it in my life.  Next month I’ll…Because I’m like you, if you asked me what I saw in that verse I would tell you, ‘We’re called to imitate God.'”

Our ability to block on what is familiar to us can cause us to miss life changing truths.  “We will be quick to strip out the familiar and boil down Scripture to a tidy little take-away list of do’s and don’ts.”

The key to understanding where the gospel is in this verse is by reading the verse immediately preceding it, which the “therefore” points to.  Ephesians 4:32 says that “God in Christ has forgiven us.”  Oh, what a glorious, beautiful truth! We have been forgiven!  Ephesians 5:1 ought to inspire in us to obey out of love.  That is the only acceptable motivation for obedience.  Anything else is simply moralism.  “When we lose the centrality of the cross, Christianity morphs into a religion of self-improvement and becomes about us, about our accomplishments, and about getting our act together.”

“You might be wondering why it is so important to hear yet again what Jesus has already done…We need to hear it again because if we have forgotten his work on our behalf, it will skew the way we think of him, the way we think of ourselves, and the way we think of others.  In addition, we will miss the emphasis on imitating God’s forgiveness that this verse is meant to communicate.”

But why is the gospel so difficult for us to see?  “Because we are so familiar with the gospel message, it gets shoved to the periphery of our spiritual consciousness and becomes nothing more than words to be remembered at Christmas and Easter.

“We naively press the gospel out to the margins of our faith because we have never really been taught how it’s meant to connect with our daily lives…We relegate the gospel to the back of our religious bus because, although we may admit our spiritual impotence with our lips, deep in our hearts we remain convinced of our own ability to live a moral life…As long as I have my ‘list to work on,’ I can keep my hands on the reigns of my life and on my struggle against sin.”

So how can we fight against the gospel becoming simply background noise?  How can we remove it from the “back of the bus” and put it back into the center where it belongs?  We must preach the gospel to ourselves daily.  We must fill our minds and hearts with its truths.  We must continue to learn how the gospel applies to every moment of every day, giving us the strength to fight sin.  “I need to hear that gospel song over and over again because my soul is like  sieve and the gospel leaks out of it, leaving only the husk of Christianity–my self-righteousness and obligations.”

Counsel From the Cross – A Devotional, Introduction

I spent the first 20 years of my Christian life thinking that the gospel was something I had believed in when I was first saved, and now it was time to move on to “bigger and better” concepts.

But over the last couple of years, the Lord has used authors like Elyse Fitzpatrick, C. J. Mahaney, Ted and Paul Tripp, Milton Vincent and many others to open my eyes to the liberating truth that the gospel “ isn’t one class among many that you’ll attend during your life as a Christian–the gospel is the whole building that all the classes take place in! Rightly approached, all the topics you’ll study and focus on as a believer will be offered to you ‘within the walls’ of the glorious gospel.”  C. J. Mahaney, Living The Cross Centered Life.  

Knowing this fact, though, and implementing this truth have been harder than I thought.  To aid me in my pursuit of gospel-centered living, I have been reading some of the great authors who expound on this topic so well.

I recently began reading Elyse Fitzpatrick’s Counsel from the Cross and am so excited about it, I wanted to share some of its treasures with you in a blog series as I am reading through it.  As she puts it so well,

“Many Christians love Jesus and the gospel but just don’t know how his    incarnation, sinless life, substitutionary death, bodily resurrection, ascension, and reign ought to impact them in the ‘real world.'”

I am looking forward to posting some of the gems in this book to encourage us all in our desire to follow Christ!

Being Fully Present with our Children

Misha Seger Photography

Facebook. Cell Phones. Internet. Texting, Television. Blogs. Email. Pinterest.

We have so many social outlets available to us in our day and age.  And through many of them we can communicate with hundreds of people any time any place, without even leaving the comfort of our home.

I am blessed to be a stay-at-home mom.  But lately, I am becoming increasingly aware of how easy it can be to be technically home, but not really be home.  From the moment I awaken to the moment I drop into bed at night, there is a constant pull on my time and emotions to keep up with everything that is going on in the world.  Whether it is checking my email, replying to text messages, catching up with 15 people on Facebook, or making a dozen phone calls, there is a constant source of need and information at my very fingertips.  I could literally spend every waking hour on social media or researching topics of interest in the internet.

But there is a world of entertainment and imagination and exploration within arms reach of me every day, and their names are Jeshuah and Eliana, God’s precious gifts to me. My little ones are growing up before my eyes, and I am missing it by being distracted by the latest piece of news or information.

How did checking social media replace the joys of laughing and learning with our children?  How did browsing a long-lost acquaintance’s profile page online become more interesting than sitting down face-to-face with our little ones for completely devoted, undistracted attention to them?  How have we begun to allow instantly responding to every text message to have precedence over the real-time conversation we are having with our children?

I understand.  Our children are not always a delight to be around.  Being at home with small children can become very lonely.  Our household tasks can become drudgery as we do the same thing day in and day out, wondering if anything we are doing is even making a difference.  Believe me, I know! I know the temptation to escape the mundane and enter a world where there is constantly something new and exciting going on.  I know the desire to feel efficient by multi-tasking and checking email while everyone at the table eats lunch.  I know the longing to be appreciated for more than just wiping snotty noses and dirty bottoms (oh wait, they don’t even appreciate that??) I know the loneliness and irritation of spending all day every day with children whose only language is whining, fussing, and tantrums.

But what I also know is that when I am with my kids, I want to be really with them.  I don’t want to be distracted by texting while I am helping my two-year-old go to the bathroom.  I don’t want to be surfing the web, casually responding with “uh huh” to his questions as he eats his lunch.  I don’t want to be on the phone the whole time we are on a nature walk. I want to be with my kids, in body, mind, and spirit.  I do not want my kids to grow up thinking a screen is more interesting than they are.  Technology is good and can be used tremendously to build God’s Kingdom, but we must learn to be disciplined in our use of it.

So that is why sometimes I intentionally leave my cell phone at home while we go outside.  That is why I make it my goal to limit my internet/computer time to when the kids are napping.  That is why I do not always let myself turn on talk radio to have on in the background while I am playing with my kids. That is why I constantly reassess what I am doing and why I am doing it. Ultimately, I want to be a stay-at-home mom and really be present with my children, despite the plethora of possible distractions available in our own homes now.  I want to play with, teach, love on, and truly engage with my children.

I hear a little voice calling for his mama:-) Naptime is over. Lord, give me grace to practice what I preach!

Developing a Taste for What is Good

I have a major sweet tooth.

Not only do I love all things sugary, but I love treats of any kind–special somethings at special times.  And they are usually food related.

I look forward to eating out at my favorite restaraunt.  I enjoy baking warm cookies for game night.  When we have an unexpected visitors, I search the shelves for something delicious I can pull out and feed them. And it seems like it is always unhealthy.

Lately, as I’ve been increasingly concerned about eating healthy, I’ve been really wishing I just naturally desired healthier foods. While I enjoy healthy things, I find that if an unhealthy alternative is in front of me, I will always choose the unhealthy.

I have always envied the people who view apples and natural peanut butter as a “snack.”  I look with awe at people who are satisfied with a fresh fruit and yogurt smoothie as “dessert.”  I have always just assumed this came naturally for them.  And I wish my tastes craved the natural, good things as my treat. I have waited all my life for that magic moment when I would suddenly have an appetite and a natural longing for healthy food, and a distaste for unhealthy food.

And then it occurred to me.

That point will never come.

Because of sin in the world, we are naturally bent toward wanting what is wrong. Please understand, I am not saying that eating unhealthy food is inherently sinful; I am simply drawing a parallel.  No one has to be taught to enjoy the taste of a cookie or some other sweet.  But how many kids love spinach, or beans, or plain oatmeal? Not very many.  I am finding that I have to discipline my taste buds to love what is good.

It occurs to me that the same is true in our spiritual lives.  We need to develop a taste for righteousness. It does not come naturally.  If we are Christians, we have the Holy Spirit within us, and he gives us the desire for holy, righteous things, but if we quench him out, we are left to our own sinful flesh. If we fill our minds up with unspiritual, worldly things, there is little appetite for the holy.

In the same way, if I am full on junk food, I will obviously have no appetite for what is healthy. When I continuously indulge in unhealthy foods, I will not crave the good stuff.

I have been thinking about this a lot in relation to Lent.  The point of Lent is to remove a desired item to practice self-denial and direct us towards Christ and His sacrifice on our behalf.  1 Corinthians 6:12 says, “‘All things are lawful for me,’ but not all things are helpful.  ‘All things are lawful for me,’ but I will not be enslaved by anything.”  If you feel that an object, item, person, etc. is required in order to be content, then you are enslaved.  What an awful thought!  And we are so deceived to think that we are not enslaved–that we simply have to have this thing to be happy, and to give it up would be unbearable!  But the very fact that the thought is unbearable reveals that our soul places to high a value on it, and that we are indeed enslaved.  And we should not be enslaved to anything but Christ.

That is why fasting is so beneficial. We remove the item of temptation and choose to go without it.  At the end of your fast, you realize that you don’t actually need that item as much as you thought you did. You realize you got along just fine without it, and in fact, you now have a liberty that you had not experienced before. And we now have real desires for the good things. They are not manufactured, but they are real! Denying our flesh enables us to develop affections for what is good and right.

But in our culture, we want everything the easy way. We want to simply naturally desire a life of studying and meditating on Scripture. We think that if we have to work at it, it must be hypocrisy or legalism.  We just assume the really “Spiritual” and godly people were just born that way–not that they may have cultivated that in their hearts through much prayer and sacrifice.  So we just go about our lives, unconsciously being filled up with all the things of the world, so that our appetite for righteousness is nearly nonexistent.

James 4:17 “So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin.”  This verse always convicts my heart, because I know the good things to eat, yet, if given the choice, I will always choose the bad thing to eat. If you set a brownie and a salad in front of me and I have to choose one, I will choose the brownie every time.

But if you remove the brownie and simply give me the salad, I love the salad. If the junk food is removed, I begin to desire the good food.  I see that my heart longs for so many other ungodly things to satisfy it outside of simply food.  In this period of Lent and examining myself, I find that much more sacrifice will be required in order to know God in the way in which I so long to know him. I want him to be my all in all, to fill me up so that I don’t want anything else.

But in order to have room for Him to fill me, I must get rid of all the other junk cluttering things up. I am so thankful for Lent…I will continue to spend this time searching my soul and praying to rid myself of all that is displeasing to God.

Jeremiah 29:13 “You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart.”