When You Don’t Want to Go Back to the Way You Were

Thank you Sharon Jaynes for today’s  message:

I just got my braces off…again.

I have had braces on my upper teeth three times. Count them. One. Two. Three.

As the orthodontist explained, “Teeth have a memory. They always want to go back to the way they were.”

As soon as he said those words, I felt convicted. I have a tendency to go back to the way I was.

We all do.

Karen (not her real name) admitted to single handedly destroying her marriage with passive aggressive coldness, destructive words, and disrespect of the worst kind. After her husband walked away from the marriage, she had a Holy Spirit moment and realized what she had done. Karen’s heart softened and she vowed never be that woman again.

She immersed herself in Bible study and began to pray for her ex-husband even though the marriage was over. Karen took on the beautiful holy glow of a woman who knew she was totally forgiven and completely loved by God. Miraculously, her ex-husband saw the change, and the marriage was restored!

However, after a few years, the destructive behavior began to creep back in.

A word here.

A cold shoulder there.

A retreating into self for weeks at a time.

Ten years after the miraculous restoration, the marriage crashed and burned.

“Teeth have a memory. They always want to go back to the way they were.”

Jesus saw this tendency to fall into old ways when He cleaned out the temple. In the beginning of his ministry, after his first miracle of turning the water into wine at the wedding of Cana, He traveled to Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover.

“In the temple courts he found men selling cattle, sheep and doves and others sitting at tables exchanging money. So he made a whip out of cords and drove all from the temple area, both sheep and cattle, he scattered the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables. To those who sold doves he said, ‘Get these out of here! How dare you turn my Father’s house into a market.’” (John 2:14-16 NIV)

Three years later, during his last week of life on earth, Jesus came upon the unholy mess again.

“Jesus entered the temple area and drove out all who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves. ‘It is written,’ he said to them, ‘My house will be called a house of prayer, but you are making it a den of robbers’” (Matthew 21:12-13 NIV).

How did the corruption happen the second time?I don’t think it happened all at once. After Jesus cleared out the temple initially, I suspect it stayed that way for a time. But one day, a money changer set up his table. Then another brought in a few birds, followed by a couple of sheep, and then here came a cow.

The next thing you know, the temple wasn’t any different than it was before Jesus cleared it out and cleaned it up three years earlier. In three years it had reverted back to an unholy mess.

And God whispers in my ear: “Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own” (1 Corinthians 6:19 NIV).

Sometimes I am that messy temple.

Swept-clean sinful behavior, ungodly thoughts, and jump-off-the-cliff emotions are itching to creep back in at all times. It is up to me (and to you) to keep the temple clean.

Perhaps you’ve had a Holy Spirit moment at some point in your life—a moment that caused you to make a major lifestyle change.

But for the moment to maintain momentum, we need to be constantly aware of our tendency to revert…to go back to the way we were.

I am so thankful that Jesus went back to clean out the temple a second time. It lets me know that He will graciously return to my messy self again and again with broom in hand.

I don’t know about you, but I never want to go back to the way I was.If you’re willing to take a few moments and ask God if there is something you’ve allowed to creep back in, join me in praying Psalm 51 in the prayer below.

Then leave a comment and say, “I’m doing it today!”

Have a blessed day!

Before You Get Mad

Thank you Arlene Pellicane for today’s message:

My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires. James 1:19 NIV

It was raining like crazy when I went to pick up my son from school. I had told him earlier to look for my car so I wouldn’t have to get out in the rain. I slipped into my ugliest, oldest flip flops. I was just planning to stay in the nice, dry car.

There was my son in plain sight. He walked towards me and then walked right…past…my…car! He made a U-turn but still missed me. I was so upset and exasperated. I got out of my car, embarrassed to be wearing my for-home-use-only flip flops, and yelled “ETHAN!!!” at the top of my lungs.

He finally saw me. I darted back to the car, totally unprepared for the downpour. In those few seconds, I talked to myself. I was very aware of how mad I was! “Calm down, don’t be mad. It’s not really a big deal.”

The first thing I said to Ethan was, “You made me get out in my flipper floppers!” which made us both laugh because I looked so ridiculous. I asked as calmly as possible, “Why didn’t you see my car?”

“I was expecting you to come in the van, but you came in the other car.”

Oh. That made sense. My anger which had risen so quickly like a thundercloud dissipated.

James wrote to us about the powerful emotion of anger, “My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires.” (James 1:19 NIV)

Notice one quick and two slows.

Quick to listen. Slow to speak and slow to become angry.

We can get that turned around. We can be slow to listen and quick to speak and quick to become angry. Before you get mad at your child, husband, friend, mom, or co-worker, take a deep breath. Think about one quick and two slows. Ask God to calm you down and to help you to listen.

“Slow to be angry” in the original Greek means “slow to boil.” We live in a microwave generation where many things move fast, almost instantly from blazing Internet connections to fast food. When it comes to getting angry, we are instructed to be more like a slow-cooking crock pot than a microwave.

This can be very difficult! As James writes, “No human being can tame the tongue. It is restless evil, full of deadly poison” (James 3:8, NIV). Thankfully we have the Holy Spirit residing within us as our Teacher and Guide.

Please understand there is a place for right anger. You see Jesus’ righteous anger toward the injustice and corruption happening in the temple (Matthew 21:12-13). God’s anger burns against the wicked. Not all anger is bad. But sometimes the anger that comes out in our cutting tone, yelling, or terse words isn’t rooted in righteousness. It’s rooted in selfishness.

Let’s be slow to boil, slow to speak, slow to get angry. Let’s instead be quick to listen. We may find out the other side of the story is a worthwhile tale

Have a blessed day!

When You Don’t Want to Go Back to the Way You Were

Thank you Sharon Jaynes for today’s message:

Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me  ~ Psalm 51:10, NIV

I just got my braces off…again.

I have had braces on my upper teeth three times. Count them. One. Two. Three.

As the orthodontist explained, “Teeth have a memory. They always want to go back to the way they were.”

As soon as he said those words, I felt convicted. I have a tendency to go back to the way I was.

We all do.

Karen (not her real name) admitted to single handedly destroying her marriage with passive aggressive coldness, destructive words, and disrespect of the worst kind. After her husband walked away from the marriage, she had a Holy Spirit moment and completely changed her life. She felt conviction over what she had done, her heart softened, and she vowed never be that woman again. Karen had a beautiful holy glow of a woman who knew she was totally forgiven and completely loved by God. Miraculously, her ex-husband saw the change, and the marriage was restored!

However, after a few years, the destructive behavior began to creep back in.

A word here.

A cold shoulder there.

A retreating into self for weeks at a time.

Ten years after the miraculous restoration, the marriage crashed and burned.

“Teeth have a memory. They always want to go back to the way they were.”

Jesus saw this tendency to fall into old ways when he cleaned out the temple. In the beginning of His ministry, after His first of miracle of turning the water into wine at the wedding of Cana, Jesus traveled to Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover.

“In the temple courts He found men selling cattle, sheep and doves and others sitting at tables exchanging money. So He made a whip out of cords and drove all from the temple area, both sheep and cattle, He scattered the coins of the moneychangers and over turned their tables. To those who sold doves He said, ‘Get these out of here! How dare you turn my Father’s house into a market!’” (John 2:14-16, NIV)

Three years later, during His last week of life on earth, Jesus came upon the unholy mess again.

“Jesus entered the temple area and drove out all who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the moneychangers and the benches of those selling doves. ‘It is written,’ He said to them, ‘My house will be called a house of prayer, but you are making it a den of robbers’” (Matthew 21:12-13, NIV).

How did the corruption happen the second time? I don’t think it happened all at once. After Jesus initially cleared out the temple, I suspect it stayed that way for a time. But one day, a moneychanger set up his table. Then another brought in a few birds, followed by a couple of sheep, and then here came a cow.

The next thing you know, the temple wasn’t any different than it was before Jesus cleared it out and cleaned it up three years earlier. In just three years it had reverted back to an unholy mess.

And God whispers in my ear: “Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God?” (1 Corinthians 6:19, NIV) Sometimes I am that messy temple.

Swept-clean sinful behavior, ungodly thoughts, and jump-off-the-cliff emotions are itching to creep back in at all times. It is up to me (and to you) to keep the temple clean.

Perhaps you’ve had a Holy Spirit moment as some point in your life—a moment that caused you to make a major lifestyle change.

But for the moment to maintain momentum, we need to be constantly aware of our tendency to revert…to go back to the way we were.

I am so thankful that Jesus went back to clean out the temple a second time. It lets me know that he will graciously return to my messy self again and again with broom in hand.

Today, think back to a time when you made a decision to change something in your life: a bad habit, an ungodly behavior, a destructive relationship, hurtful words, overeating, the abuse of alcohol, disrespect to your husband, yelling at your children, bitterness toward someone who hurt you, etc.

Have you allowed any old ways or attitudes to creep back in? If so, simply ask Jesus to come and clean out the temple…again. Then cooperate with Holy Spirit to keep your resolve.

I don’t know about you, but I never want to go back to the way I was. If you’re willing to take a few moments and ask God if there is something you’ve allowed to creep back in, join me in praying Psalm 51 in the prayer below. Then leave a comment and say, “I’m doing it today!”

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!