We had been going over the same set of details for days.
Each sit-down, hour-long discussion felt like we were walking around in two separate circles.
I could see how he was wrong, but he couldn’t.
He could see how I was wrong, but I couldn’t.
Add in miscommunications, assumptions, and misunderstandings, and there you have our reasons for walking in lonely circles of our own making.
I wouldn’t say we were angry with each other, but we both felt misunderstood. We were waiting for the other person to see our own point of view.
It took a few days before the light turned on and we joined hands and walked together again. In the light, I read through my journal and saw some things I hadn’t realized before. I saw my own sin and the resulting sadness.
I had been deceived.
We can be so deceived by sin, and fail to see it. Or admit it. Or turn from it. Sometimes, we don’t really want to see where we are wrong. It would feel better if only they were wrong.
When were you last deceived by sin?
Every one of us chooses to sin at times, and others, we fall into sin. We are works in process. Sometimes, we fall and refuse to get back up for a while. Or we make a huge mess and track it everywhere, and then find remnants in hidden corners long after we’ve come clean.
Sin sticks like mud sometimes. And it’s messy. It can be lonely and make us feel trapped.
I pray with the psalmist, Lord, keep your servant from willful sins; may they not rule over me. (Psalm 19:13) And I remember His unending love.
He freed us from our sins, so they will not rule over us.
We are being transformed, and He’s not finished with us yet.
So Child of God, you may fall into sin, but you are not going to dwell there.
Jesus changed everything when He made a Way for us to be near God. He paid the penalty for all of our sin–and set us free from our slavery to sin. When we first trusted in Him, He planted love deep in our hearts, for Him and others. His new law of love.
“I will put my laws in their minds and write them on their hearts.
I will be their God, and they will be my people.” Hebrews 8:10b
You see, the old covenant failed because of the people’s unfaithfulness. But the new covenant cannot fail. The new covenant is based on what God did and does and will do.
The Lord who frees captives will continue to rescue us–every time we call to Him–out of any pit where we’ve fallen.
He is our God, and we are His people.
So we may fall, but we will not stay down.
Angela Parlin is a wife and mom to 3 rowdy boys and 1 sweet girl. In addition to spending time with friends and family, she loves to read and write, spend days at the beach, watch romantic comedies, and organize closets. But most of all, she loves Jesus and writes to call attention to the beauty of life in Christ, even when that life collaborates with chaos. Join her at www.angelaparlin.com, So Much Beauty In All This Chaos.
Pop Quiz: What is a very small thing in size that has a gigantic impact regarding the direction of your life?
Clue: It moves, kind of flippantly, up and down.
Got it yet?
This should help: “Look at the ships also: though they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are guided by a very small rudder wherever the will of the pilot directs. So also the tongue is a small member, yet it boasts of great things. How great a forest is set ablaze by such a small fire! And the tongue is a fire, a world of unrighteousness. The tongue is set among our members, staining the whole body, setting on fire the entire course of life, and set on fire by hell.” James 3:3-6
It can speak liberty or captivity that sinks a heart.
It can speak faith or fear that you’ll always live in the basement and never get anywhere in life.
It can tell you you’ll be stuck in that dead-end job with a boss you hate or
it can profess glory, glory, glory and holy, holy, holy!
It can rip a person apart and spit them out like day old coffee or
it can savor the goodness of others and remind them of it with an intentional word of kindness.
It can blabber about a person who never should have taken your parking space like that,
a family member who is so wrong, an insensitive and unthoughtful husband,
or it can cut through the tension and speak aloud every virtue of God.
It can send you into high places, with high people to confess high things of importance,
or it can keep stuck in the gutter, speaking a whole litany of unholy words that keep you unhappy.
It can halt its movement and literally change the density of another’s heart,
moving a person from defensive to receptive in an instant.
How do you use your tongue?
I can almost hear you all glaring back at me, saying, “Well, Kelly, how do you use your tongue?”
Not so well, friends. This lesson, and every lesson I write, really, is for me because, much more than dwelling on the immensity of God, I taste and swallow negativity. I constantly internally talk about the ways I’m failing to make good meals, spend enough time with the kids before bedtime and open up the door to my husband when he arrives home with a smile and thoughtful motives, like not bombarding him with the daily happenings at first sight of his brown hair. I, then, throw out words, like daggers, because I feel bad about myself.
It’s not easy.
The problem is, my tongue likes to go. My mouth wants to speak, incessantly. My complaints, grievances and objections are many. It is very hard to shut the trap when it wants to catch something wrong, and, golly day, and fix it with my words.
But, fault-pointing words usually fix nothing. And, all they end up trapping is me – in dejection, demotivation and frustration. Get me out of here – I’m stuck!!!
“Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruits.” Prov. 18:21
By looking deep into this verse, it appears, just as much as my words can get me stuck in a rut – or kill me, they can also lift me out of ruts, and feed me. I like that. I like the idea my words can literally provide me sustenance, food and energy. I like that by changing the course of my words, I can change the course of my life. I can move into into go-mode, into vision and into purpose that surpasses my own thoughts, limitations and plans.
5 Ways to Use Your Tongue to Change the Course of Your Life (for the better):
Constantly speak what is excellent, true, pure, good, right, honorable, admirable, praiseworthy (Phil. 4:8). If it doesn’t fall in one of those categories, carry it on over to the trash can and dispose of it. It should be taken to the dump instead of coming out of your mouth like a stinky mess bound to hurt you and leave you overwhelmingly frustrated that your life doesn’t look better.
Let Praise Be Your Chatter. If you lift God up with your tongue, you’ll lift your mind up too. It is natural. You can’t be acknowledging the magnificence and the righteousness of God and still be stuck in a hole. He grabs you and pulls you up to heavenly perspectives when you do some fine-tuning.
Say thanks. Thank you that you have great plans for me, God. Thank you, husband, you are so thoughtful. Thank you, children, you are listening so well. Thank you, self, you are giving your whole heart to speaking carefully and intentionally. Thank you, world, I have such a great opportunity not to react, but to reach out to you and share Jesus
Speak humility. Best said, this means letting the voice of Jesus go before you. It means letting his heart be your words. It means letting his holy verses take flight so they come shooting out of your mouth before your own perceptions or intentions rule you (I know, not easy!). But, it is possible. We have the mind of Christ, which means, it should change us to speak with the mouth of Christ.
Don’t use it: don’t open your mouth, don’t utter a word, don’t speak a sigh, don’t offer a grunt, don’t release a criticism, don’t give flight to judgement. There are times, when the best speech you can give is silence. The best course of treatment you can give is dead air. Why? Because it is often in the lack of words, that God pours out the abundance of grace that changes a person’s heart from contemptuous to contrite.
This very small part has the ability to lead people to Christ, to change demeanors, to open eyes, to counsel the needy through disasters, to promote love, to inflict compassion and to listen. It’s amazing.
Let’s choose to use it as it was intended to be: a weapon of goodness that cuts through people’s hearts using the sword of the spirit, God’s Word. This is effective speech:
Parlaying his majesty into the day that lays ahead of you.
Speaking his glory into the places where you feel hurt.
Highlighting truth in the midst of emotions that are as wild as a bucking bronco.
Correcting another (or yourself) with the tone of compassion, grace and mercy.
Singing wonder about all that He has created.
Recounting the many times – God’s shown up in your life and how he remains consistent. Reflecting on the limitless nature of His power and being okay with it sitting on you.
Declaring his faithfulness, returning to this truth once again.
Demonstrating his humility, speaking less and listening more.
Let it out. Be not ashamed. Be not restrained. Be forthcoming. Be powerful. Change your life and change theirs.
Lately, I have been pondering maybe the most important question of Christian faith: How do you successfully guard your heart?
Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you doflows from it. Prov. 4:23
Above all else = the most important thing. Everything you do = every single small and solitary thing Flows from it = it is the blood supply to our spiritual existence
The heart is the command center to your life.
An unguarded heart is a compromised life.
Using this line of reasoning, we can figure: If we are straying from God, we’ve been displaying our heart open for attack.
So how do we truly guard it?
Guard it in a way where bad thoughts bounce off?
Guard it in a way where lockdown is secure?
Guard it in a way where attackers don’t even give it a passing glance?
This is what my heart has been sitting on lately. Wondering. Strategizing. And sure didn’t want a quick-fix answer of “try better”, “work harder” or “just do it”; these are the type of answers that always keep me failing.
So, while I considered not failing, I watched the snow falling on morning news – until one image nearly sent me falling right out of my chair. It was the answer to my wonderings.
21 steps forward. 21 steps back. Guarding. Protecting. The presence of who was. No sleep. No rest. Back. Forth. Diligence. Perseverance. Dedication.
The sentinel. He moved with purpose as the high winds of cold hit his face. He moved with discipline as snow ravaged around him. He moved with confidence next to the most important cause in his life. He moved to guard the presence of one unknown by so many; just as our Savior was and is today.
He moves, then another one moves, and then another, on 24 hour shifts, but, make no mistake, someone is always moving at The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington Cemetery. It is never left unmanned, untouched and unprotected.
During storms – armed.
When everything seems shut down – manned.
When things are quiet – protected.
When the place gets hectic – watched.
When the face gets frostbitten – defended.
Do we guard our hearts in such a way?
Do we see it of such value that we keep 24-hour vigilance
on what takes aim around it?
Guns blazing, gloves moistened, to aide in grip,
are we protecting with discipline, dedication and decisiveness?
Back and forth, do we run over our mind to see
if there is any way unpleasing to the Lord?
21 steps forward, 21 steps back,
do we give pause for prayer to ensure we are effective?
The Sentinel does not do an about face when reaching the end of 21 steps, he turns and looks at the tomb.
Do we? Do we turn to look at the tomb consistently and continually throughout our day? The tomb of Jesus that is empty? The one that reminds us of who we are fighting for? The one that tells us to keep on 21-stepping?
When stop to look at Jesus’ tomb, we see the tomb of emptiness found in anything
and everything else put above him.
Lives that pace on his goodness, dance with his freedom. Feet that walk back and forth on righteousness, find life. Soldiers who see guarding their hearts as paramount, mount up on wings like eagles. They find hope, flight and new might, for enemies flee at the sight of real duty.
Guard your heart like nothing else matters.
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