Uprooted

Matthew 15:1-3, 10-20

New Living Translation (NLT)

Some Pharisees and teachers of religious law now arrived from Jerusalem to see Jesus. They asked him, “Why do your disciples disobey our age-old tradition? For they ignore our tradition of ceremonial hand washing before they eat.”

Jesus replied, “And why do you, by your traditions, violate the direct commandments of God?

10 Then Jesus called to the crowd to come and hear. “Listen,” he said, “and try to understand. 11 It’s not what goes into your mouth that defiles you; you are defiled by the words that come out of your mouth.”

12 Then the disciples came to him and asked, “Do you realize you offended the Pharisees by what you just said?”

13 Jesus replied, “Every plant not planted by my heavenly Father will be uprooted,14 so ignore them. They are blind guides leading the blind, and if one blind person guides another, they will both fall into a ditch.”

15 Then Peter said to Jesus, “Explain to us the parable that says people aren’t defiled by what they eat.”

16 “Don’t you understand yet?” Jesus asked. 17 “Anything you eat passes through the stomach and then goes into the sewer. 18 But the words you speak come from the heart—that’s what defiles you. 19 For from the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, all sexual immorality, theft, lying, and slander. 20 These are what defile you. Eating with unwashed hands will never defile you.”

I have a stubborn planter wart on the bottom of my foot. Gross, I know. For the last year, I’ve been pulling, picking and smothering the seeds with Compound W that have risen to the surface. Several months ago, I finally relented in trying to eradicate the thing by myself, so I scheduled an appointment with the dermatologist. She brought out the big gun: dry ice (solid form of carbon dioxide). After 3 painful, burning procedures that sucker still wasn’t gone! The latest treatment involved injecting chemotherapy into the wart to kill the infection at its root. Needle into the foot? AHHHHHHHHH! Yes, I cried out to the Lord… as I was trying not to kick the doctor in her face.

Hobbling through the house, trying to avoid the pain that permeates every time I step on the affected area, I realized that I attempted to pull, pick and smother my sins…especially those that were deeply rooted in sexual immorality. After I accepted Jesus, who saved me from eternity in hell, I still experienced hell on earth as the seeds of sexual sin continued rising to the surface of my life. Ashamed, I tried covering them up with a band aid (just like I did the wart). I pleaded with God, “PLEASE make it go away!” (just like I did with the wart).

Nothing happened.

Until I asked for help. Help from my Savior and Lord. Help from others in the body of Christ. What do I mean by that? I mean bowing my will to the King of kings and Lord of lords. I mean crying out, “create in me a clean heart oh God, that I might not sin against you!” (Psalm 51:10, emphasis added). I mean taking off the cloak of shame I was wearing and laying it at His feet. I mean confessing the pain my body and soul were suffering as a result of sin. I mean standing before God naked. I mean allowing Him to shine His light on the darkest areas of my soul, to expose every single temptation and sin related to sexual immorality. I mean giving the Holy Spirit permission to dig until the first seed of sin was exposed, injected with fire, and uprooted. I mean extending forgiveness to those who sinned against me. I mean asking forgiveness for those I sinned against. I mean confessing to God- and others. I mean feeling the deep grief of repentance for the sins I committed against God and His commands. I mean asking Jesus to deliver me from the evil that resided in my wicked heart. I mean accepting His sacrifice for my sin. I mean receiving supernatural healing for my body and soul because He bore the stripes upon His body for ME.

Uprooted-2

My friend, your evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, lying and slander cannot be removed by religious activity (washing your hands). The seeds of your sin cannot be smothered in Compound W. But submitting to Jesus as Savior and Lord and asking other believers for help can uproot the rebellion that lies hidden within your heart. Yes, injecting Truth into the lies will be painful. The procedure will hurt some. You will be embarrassed that others know your deep, dart secrets. But death WILL come to the sin, and life WILL grow in its place as you confess your sins in prayer!!! (James 5:16)

At this table

Luke 22:21 New Living Translation (NLT)

21 “But here at this table, sitting among us as a friend, is the man who will betray me.

Yesterday, after our son and his friends (two brothers) played a few games of tag football & Minecraft on the WiiU he asked if they could stay for lunch. We said “sure, but you’re going to have to bake some more rolls for sandwiches.” With a little help from his dad, lunch was served and my man returned to the living room to join the rest of our family. The three boys talked and ate at the kitchen table until they left to go play in the neighborhood creek. A few minutes later, they came back to retrieve their bikes for a ride.

Meanwhile, it was time for a –day- after- Christmas- I’ve –eaten- too- much- and- laid- around- in- my- pj’s- for- 24- hours – walk through the neighborhood. Off with the jammies and into my yoga pants! I go to grab my iPhone from the entry table (near the side door that our son and his friends always enter/exit the house), but it wasn’t there.

“Honey, can you please call my phone…”

Silence.

The family joined in the search through the entire household

No phone.

Radio our son on the walkie talkie “have you seen my phone?” “No, mom.”

Login to iCloud on my MacBook. Find my iPhone. Offline. Locate. Maps begins searching… Resume search through the house. Walkie our son again. “Can you ask the boys if they’ve seen my phone?” “They’re gone. They said they had to go to their dads” Sucker punch in the soul. “Come home… now.”

(in my head) No. NO. NO! One of those boys wouldn’t betray me. Our son has been their friend. We’ve welcomed them into our home. We’ve conversed with them. We’ve feed them. We’ve driven them home at night after playing all afternoon. No. NO. NO!

Our daughter yells “Mom, your phone has been located.” Not our home address. Last known location: near the boy’s home. My man and our son drive over. The bikes are in the front yard, but no one answers the door. They follow the iMap last known address to an abandoned house nearby and search the area. No phone. A friend of ours that works with the Sheriff’s office joins in the search. Still no phone.

Send “lost” signal & place device in lost/stolen mode. Delete content. Suspend usage through Verizon. Report theft to credit card companies (Apple Pay).

Realization: I have been a victim of a crime…in our home….while at home….betrayed by a “friend!”

Revelation: I am not a victim- I am a child of God (identity). I am more than a conqueror through Christ Jesus. God will use this for His glory and my good.

Call the police.

File a report.

Officer returns from questioning the boy’s mother (she said they had been at their father’s home all day).

Gather our family into the living room to pray.

Forgive.

Ask the Holy Spirit to bring conviction & confession.

Rebuke the enemy.

Declare God’s goodness!

My man and I finally made it out for that walk, but within minutes of our departure an unknown car follows us, parks, and an angry, embarrassed mother calls to us. She prompts her son to speak. He confesses. After several minutes of conversation about Jesus, character, friendship and betrayal we tell him he is forgiven and we won’t press charges. I ask to hug the mother and whisper blessing and encouragement into her ear as she cries. My man shakes the young man’s hand and says “this is finished. You owe us nothing. Don’t do it again.”

John 13:21-27 New Living Translation (NLT)

21 Now Jesus was deeply troubled, and he exclaimed, “I tell you the truth, one of you will betray me!”

22 The disciples looked at each other, wondering whom he could mean. 23 The disciple Jesus loved was sitting next to Jesus at the table. 24 Simon Peter motioned to him to ask, “Who’s he talking about?” 25 So that disciple leaned over to Jesus and asked, “Lord, who is it?”

26 Jesus responded, “It is the one to whom I give the bread I dip in the bowl.” And when he had dipped it, he gave it to Judas, son of Simon Iscariot. 27 When Judas had eaten the bread, Satan entered into him. Then Jesus told him, “Hurry and do what you’re going to do.”

The phone was returned and has been completely restored through Apple and Verizon. But there’s a place in my heart for that young man- that child- that isn’t restored. Forgiven, but no longer trusted. While sitting at this table, Image 12-27-17 at 2.12 PMeating bread with our son, Satan entered… and when he was departing, he was tempted: His eyes saw my iPhone. His flesh wanted it. His pride convinced him that he deserved it. And he made a choice to steal it. He made a choice to betray me. He made a choice to betray the family that has loved him as a neighbor, as Jesus commands.

But we will choose to continue to love this broken young man. We will choose to continue to pray for him, his mother and his siblings. And if the Lord prompts us, we will choose to pursue a relationship with him with the understanding that our love is free, but our trust must be earned.

God-breathed

2 Timothy 3:16-17 New International Version (NIV)

16 All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, 17 so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. 

Just as God breathed life into man’s body in the garden, God breathed life into the men that wrote each verse, chapter and book recorded in the canon of Scripture. Ordinary men were equipped by the power of the Holy Spirit to write an extraordinary love letter to the world.

Woven through the life stories of men, women and children throughout Scripture we learn who God is and who mankind is in relationship to Him. We discover love, grace, mercy and forgiveness. We realize the ramifications of sin. We are introduced to the Savior. We are warned about an enemy.

IMG_2961Each day as we study, the Holy Spirit breathes life and the words on the page become the Word written on our heart. Miraculously, we begin to receive instruction, rebuke, and correction. Through this supernatural training in humility and submission, our lives are transformed by the renewing of our mind. We are made righteous. We are equipped as a servant of God. We are able to do every good work.

If we don’t know the Word (Jesus) by studying the word (Scripture), we are not equipped to do any work. A student who is fully trained will become like their teacher (Luke 6:40). But a student who refuses to be trained, rejects the Teacher and becomes like the one they follow; Satan (John 8:44).

Reading a verse fragment a few times a week on a Bible app or Facebook post with a pretty background picture won’t thoroughly equip you. Would you give your child a handful of goldfish for the week and expect him to be sustained physically? NO! The child would be hungry and eventually, he’d starve to death because of the lack of nourishment. A child cannot live on goldfish alone. He needs the Word of God.

IMG_4461Dear child, if you’ve become malnourished, you cannot serve God. Sure, you may be able to sustain yourself and work for a little while, but the signs of starvation will eventually emerge. You may not notice it – but the people around you will. Your wife may say she feels unloved because you’re too tired to lay your life down for her. Your husband may say that he feels disrespected because you’re too busy to spend time serving him. Your kids may repeatedly disobey you because you’re too preoccupied to deal with their foolishness. The people you lead in the church may keep falling back into the same cycle of sin because you’re unequipped to shepherd their broken soul.

But don’t give up! There is still HOPE. The Good News is still the Good News. You can have abundant life. You can love your wife. You can submit to your husband. You can train your kids. You can lead others in the church. You can do every good work.

All you have to do is choose whom you will serve. God’s mercy is new every morning. Set that alarm on your smart phone to wake up 5, 15, 30 minutes earlier tomorrow. Grab your bible, pen, journal and a cup of strong coffee. Saturate your mind in Scripture. Then…do what it says.

You may feel ordinary, but Scripture will train you to be an extraordinary man or woman of God. God breathed life into your body when He saved you. God will breathe life into your soul when you study His love letter to the world.