The Cracked Pot

“But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong” (1 Corinthians 1:27).

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Whether it is entering into ministry or just being an example to those with whom you make daily contact, do you ever question your ability to be used by God … why God would choose you of all people as a messenger of hope and eternal life?  After all, you cannot quote the Bible forwards and backwards. You have no formal, seminary training. Bad thoughts and behaviors still surface regularly. You sometimes forget to pray.  Worse yet, you sometimes do not want to pray. You have difficulty staying focused when you finally find the time and inclination to study the Word, soon forgetting half of what you read.

Does any of the above sound familiar?  Well, I am here to tell you that you are not alone!  I, too, have struggled very recently with these same questions.  So much so that I felt ill-equipped and uninspired to write here.  And, those examples (or flaws) I noted in the paragraph above?  Those are not random, made up examples at all. Those are, in fact, some of my own personal struggles.

In response to my growing worries and self-doubt, I believe God led me to thinking and studying about some of the Bible’s most notable characters. Many of the great leaders of Judaism and Christianity started out as the worst sort of scoundrels. Abraham lied and cheated his way through Egypt in order to save his own skin.  Jacob bilked his brother out of his birthright, then deceived and lied to his father in order to cheat his brother out of his paternal blessing.  Matthew was a publican, the most contemptible kind of traitor to his own people. But God, working with such weak and flawed material, molded them into spiritual powerhouses and examples of moral strength and righteousness.  This stunning revelation played a large part in lifting the cloud of doubt that had enveloped me and that may very well be covering you.

To further illustrate, let us consider King David. David is one of the most enigmatic characters in the Bible. He is honored as the ideal king of Israel, the builder of an empire, a great father to his people, the root from whom the Messiah would come, and the key to Jesus’ ancestry. He was a mighty warrior, a musician, a poet, a deeply loyal friend, a devoted lover of God, and for the most part a just and able king.

He was at the same time a liar, a cheat, a swindler, an adulterer, a cruel warlord, and a murderer. He placed family unity and integrity among his highest values, yet he stole another man’s wife. He was a terrible father and a worse husband. The dysfunction of his own family laid the groundwork for the destruction of the great empire he had so successfully built. He was, in fact, the very flower of a broken human nature and a prime example of the fact that God often does his best work with the least promising raw materials.

Allow the truth of that last sentence to trickle down into the depths of your heart.  Is it not reassuring to know that sometimes from the most unpromising soil grows the sweetest fruit?  For all of his weaknesses and sins, David was nonetheless a man of great faith. He is a prime example of God using flawed vessels to do His work.  How encouraging those thoughts should be to us!

Despite your perceived inadequacies or frailties, God can and will use you if you have a willing heart. Your very weaknesses and past mistakes may prove to be your greatest testimony. Step out in faith! Endeavor to cooperate with God and mature.  Be encouraged! Be authentically you … the you God has called you to be. And remember, the light shines brighter through a cracked pot.

© 2017 by Kelli Hammond Mills. All rights reserved.

Running on Empty

“How precious is your unfailing love, O God!  All humanity finds shelter in the shadow of your wings” Psalm 36:7 (NLT).

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Grieving the loss of my mom has been one of the hardest things I have ever had to face. The experience has also been quite lonely and perplexing.  Everyone simply moves on with their lives while you are struggling to climb what feels like an escalator moving in the opposite direction.  You want life to stop long enough for you to remember how to breathe, but it does not stop.  It races forward unsympathetically while dragging your battered heart over every painful rut and pothole.

This week, I awoke each morning to what felt like a dense fog blanketing my heart.  The haunting darkness loomed over me throughout each day and I could not put words to the feelings … the aching emptiness.  It was as if I was desperately looking for something that I could not find.  I attempted to write, but simply found myself hopelessly staring at the cursor blinking rhythmically on the page.  I had several ideas for new blog posts.  In fact, if you were to peek inside my drafts folder, you would find seven, unfinished posts … some with nothing more than a title.  Yet, nothing felt quite right and I could not ascertain why.  I needed answers.

As I prayed last night, a memory came to my mind … an interaction I once had with my mom many years ago.  It is one of the precious few memories I have allowed to fully surface thus far.  I was in my early twenties and having a particularly hard time in life.  I had gone through a crushing divorce, had moved to a new state away from my friends and all that was familiar, and had started a new, stressful job. Sensing my low spirits during our conversation, my mom patted her lap and simply said, “come sit here and let me fill your love tank.” Of course, the notion seemed quite ridiculous to me at the time.  After all, I was a fighter and much too “mature” for such coddling.  What I would not give to have the same opportunity now!

I am grateful I found the courage to allow that memory to surface, as I believe God used it to teach me something important.  In that simple, sweet memory, there was a lesson … a little, hidden gem … about our need for God and His unfailing love.  Trudging through the mire that is grief while trying to keep up with the hustle and bustle of life had depleted me. I was running on empty and needed, as my mom would say, to have my love tank filled.  I needed Jesus to look into my heart and show me the emptiness that only He could fill.

How many of us are sputtering or stalling out in life because we are running on empty?  How many of us depend on other means to satisfy our deepest needs only to find they are never enough?  I have looked to other people, longing for their approval and the affirmation that comes with it.  I have looked to positions and possessions, putting my hope in recognition.  I have thought, “if only I could or had … then I would be fulfilled.”  Sound familiar?

Proverbs 19:22 (NIV) says, “[w]hat a person desires is unfailing love.”  Searching for unconditional, unfailing love in all of the wrong faces and places leaves us exhausted, frustrated, and empty.  The Bible uses the phrase, “unfailing love” 32 times and not once is the phrase attributed to a person or thing.  Rather, it is attributed to God.  Why?  Because God is its only source.  Only His love can fill and fulfill the deep desires and empty places in our hearts.

God put a longing in our hearts to lead us back to Him … to be filled by Him.  It is His unconditional acceptance, approval, and affirmation that will quench our soul’s deepest thirst. Nothing else can replace it or will ever be enough.  Allow God to show you the empty places in your heart.  Ask him to lead you back to Him.  Have Him teach you how to position your heart to be filled and fulfilled by His promises and the power of His love.  I will be doing likewise.

© 2017 by Kelli Hammond Mills.  All rights reserved.

 

The Fence

“I know your [record of] works and what you are doing; you are neither cold nor hot.  Would that you were cold or hot!  So, because you are lukewarm and neither cold not hot, I will spew you out of My mouth!”  Revelation 3:15-16 (AMP)

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Imagine a fence.  On one side of the fence is the world.  On the other side is God’s Kingdom.  Sooner or later, we must get off of that fence and decide on which side we will stand.  How many of us Christians live much of our lives perched precariously on that fence?  Worse yet, how many of us spend Sundays standing in God’s Kingdom and the rest of the week standing in the world?  Let me not “patty cake” with it and just say that if we are going to call ourselves Christians, then we must behave as Christians all of the time.  We must stop making excuses and, instead, make a way.

Self-analysis can be a positive thing. Considering our behaviors in light of God’s Word often produces personal growth. We call ourselves Christians, but do we really behave as such?  Think about it … I can stand in the vegetable garden all day long, but that does not make me a potato.

We should live out our Christian lives beyond the church walls. We shouldn’t live in God’s kingdom on Sundays, but live like the rest of the world Monday through Saturday.  People will tempt us to compromise and when we do, those very same people will criticize and disrespect us.  I believe nothing discourages or disgusts a nonbeliever more than a hypocritical Christian.

Jesus spoke very strongly against lukewarm believers (see Revelations 3:16). In fact, one could surmise that He despises them. Consider this … there are few things a nonbeliever despises more than a hypocritical Christian. Our aim should be to become more like Jesus and lead people into relationship with Him. How we choose to live our lives can be our greatest resource in achieving this goal. People rarely listen to what we say, but they almost always watch what we do.

We should make sure we haven’t taken up residence on the fence. We must choose a side … living for God’s kingdom or living for the world. Let’s choose wisely.

© 2017 by Kelli Hammond Mills.  All rights reserved.

 

 

 

Power in the Name

“There is none like you, O Lord; you are great, and your name is great in might.” Jeremiah 10:6 ESV

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Life has a way of bringing about circumstances that envelop our hearts with fear and worry. You may have received discouraging news about a medical diagnosis. You may be grieving the loss of a loved one. You may be struggling financially. Maybe you are going through relationship or employment uncertainties. Believe me when I say that I understand how hard it can be to remain upright when life keeps trying to knock you down.

As a young girl, I attended a very small, southern church. It was quite the event if the Sunday morning congregation exceeded 50 attendees. I loved that church and I loved the people.

At the beginning of each service, we sang old, gospel hymns. The music was simple … just an organ and a piano. There were no fancy lights, Christian rock bands, or jaw dropping special effects. I distinctly remember the feelings of peace and contentment that settled over me like a well-loved blanket as we worshipped. I treasure those memories.

As I struggled under the weight of worry today, a particular song began running through my mind repeatedly. It was a lovely song and one that I had not heard in years. It was a song about the name of Jesus. I am reminded that there was, and always will be, something wonderfully powerful about His name.

We may never have all of the answers, but we can call on the One who does!  Jesus. In times of uncertainty, when fear grips our hearts and threatens not to let go, when our situation feels impossible, or when words fail us and we do not know how or what to pray, just whisper the sweet name of Jesus. When we whisper His name, we bring forth the power of His presence.

© 2017 by Kelli Hammond Mills. All rights reserved.

Guard Your Heart

“Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven.” Matthew 6:1 ESV

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Over the last several days, I have grown increasingly disheartened. You see, when I began this blog, I did so believing it was what God was calling me to do. I believed if I could help just ONE person grow in their relationship with God, it would be worth it. I am a Jesus girl on a mission and want, with my whole heart, to be used by God.

Before writing each blog article, I spend hours studying the Word and seeking God’s guidance. It is quite laborious, but a labor of love nonetheless.

Writing does not always come easily. Openly sharing with friends and strangers alike my own failings and frailties is, at times, quite terrifying. Yet, readership remains virtually nonexistent and I have contemplated giving up more than once. Negative thoughts have vigorously assaulted my mind … “maybe I got it all wrong” … “who am I to think I can do this” … “I am as big of a mess as the next person” … “why should I spend all of this time when even my friends do not take a few minutes to read it?”

I was promptly reminded of Matthew 6:1. Ashamedly, I had to admit that my motives had become misaligned. I had failed to guard my heart. What began from a pure heart had quickly become something displeasing to God. My focus had shifted from remaining faithful to God’s calling to seeking approval via social media interactions.  Satan was claiming victory.

I believe many of us desire to please or impress people. In fact, this need is what drives a lot of what we do. It is our motive. The Bible tells us, however, that God, and God alone, weighs our heart (Proverbs 21:2).

I want to encourage you to develop a habit of checking and guarding your heart. Spend some quiet time really thinking about what it is you do and, more importantly, why you do it. If we will be honest with ourselves, God can help us see the truth about our hearts and the truth will always make us free!

© 2017 by Kelli Hammond Mills.  All rights reserved.

The High Cost of Compromise

“The LORD is far from the wicked [and distances Himself from them], But He hears the prayer of the [consistently] righteous [that is, those with spiritual integrity and moral courage].”
‭‭PROVERBS‬ ‭15:29‬ ‭AMP‬‬

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Certainly, we all want God to hear our prayers. God promises He will hear them if we are consistently righteous.

I believe it is important we not gloss over the Amplified Bible’s use of the word “consistent.” To be consistent means “constantly adhering to the same principles, course, form, etc.” In other words, we are to maintain uprightness, integrity, and good moral character constantly … not only on Sundays or religious holidays … not only when it is easy … not only when we feel like it … not only when other Christians are watching … but, always.

Sadly, we see so much compromise in the world today. Society, including us Christians, continue to blur the line between what is actually right and wrong. We justify compromise by saying things like, “it is no big deal,” “everyone is doing it,” “no one is watching,” or “times have changed.” Sometimes, we dismiss, or ignore altogether, the dangers of compromise … even when it comes to the “little things” … like gossiping at the lunch table or perusing social media when we are supposed to be working. Just because something seems widely accepted, or does not constitute a major infraction in our minds, however, does not make it right.

When we compromise, we go just below what we know is right. Oftentimes, we compromise just to gain the approval or acceptance of others, or we simply give into emotion. But, at what cost?

As Christians, we cannot be like the world and be an example to the world. 1 Kings 18:21 says, ” … How long will you halt and limp between two opinions? If the Lord is God, follow Him! But if Baal, then follow him . . .”  We are told that we must choose. Do we follow Jesus, or do we follow the world?

© 2017 by Kelli Hammond Mills. All rights reserved.

Be Fruitful

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Being overly busy seems to be a widespread epidemic. We are too busy to spend time with God. We are too busy to catch up with family and friends, just assuming they will always be there (hint: they won’t). We are too busy to effectively manage our household or nurture our marriages. We are too busy to invest in our health. You get the point.

Having recently been the frequent giver and recipient of this overused excuse, I began pondering its truthfulness. I say “excuse” because, in reality, that is often what it is … just an excuse … “a plea offered in extenuation of a fault or for release from an obligation or promise.” You see, the truth is, we make time for what is important to us … like parking ourselves in front of the television for hours to mindlessly watch a lot of garbage, scrolling aimlessly through social media so we do not miss out on the latest gossip or the opportunity to post or comment about things that have absolutely no bearing on our lives, or feverishly pinning crafting projects, home decorating ideas, or recipes we promptly forget about.

I believe it is important that we take an honest inventory of where we are spending our time. Are we busying ourselves with things that really do not matter? Remember, Jesus called us to be fruitful, not busy. Maybe it is time we cut away the branches that are not bearing fruit.

© 2017 by Kelli Hammond Mills. All rights reserved.

Hope Floats

“Rejoice and exult in hope; be steadfast and patient in suffering and tribulation; be constant in prayer.” Romans 12:12 (AMP)

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Life has a way of kicking us in the gut.  For some, trials and tribulations happen in spurts … the good and bad times ebb and flow over the course of our lives.  For others, life seemingly deals one disastrous hand after another.  It is easy to lose hope,  our confident expectation that something good will happen, when our lives are riddled with disappointment or when we are in the throws of grief or distress.  We lose hope in life, in God, and in ourselves.  With each hope-shattering experience, we train ourselves to expect nothing.  After all, we avoid disappointment or heartache if we expect nothing, right?  At least, that is our natural inclination … a sort of defense mechanism, if you will.  The truth is, however, we do not have to … and we should not … live without hope because God gives us something far greater on the inside than any outside, worldly circumstance (see 1 John 4:4).  Armed with that truth, ponder this question:  wouldn’t you rather believe for a lot and receive some of it than believe for nothing and receive all of it (receive nothing)?

There is a difference between “hoping” and “wishing.” A “wish” is something we want to come true, but it has no basis in reality.  “Wishing” lacks the power to bring anything to pass.  “Hoping,” on the other hand, is having a desire with real expectation founded in truth … God’s truth.  Hope is based on the truth of who God is and the promises He has given us.  Biblical hope is not a “hope-so” … it is a “know-so.”

The Christian’s definition of hope is far superior to that of the world.  Instead of wishing for something to happen, a believer knows that their hope is solid, concrete evidence because it is grounded in the Word of God and we know that God cannot lie (Hebrews 6:18; Numbers 23:19).  The Christian has a hope that is “the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1).  It is a hope that is like faith…a faith that cannot be moved by circumstances or what the eyes see because an unseen God is seen in His faithfulness.

Today, we need to make a change.  Imagine how good life would become if we simply refuse to stop hoping.  Even if we hoped for something our entire lives and did not get it, we still would be better off than if we hoped for nothing and got nothing.  Why?  Because when we hope, we have joy.

In truth, Satan does not want our “stuff.”  He wants to steal our joy (John 10:10).  Joy produces energy (“the joy of the Lord is our strength …,” Nehemiah 8:10).  A bad attitude causes everything to drain down … our strength, our peace, our joy, our hope.  Alternatively, hope floats … it buoys our strength during difficult times and carries our expectations, which are grounded in the Word, to God despite our circumstances.

Sadly, many of us feel almost obligated to have a bad attitude when we encounter life’s challenges.   The truth is, however, our attitudes belong to us and us alone.  On any given day, we can choose to believe God’s promises.  We can choose to believe that something good will happen.  Why, then, would we knowingly and willingly assist Satan by choosing a downtrodden, discouraging, negative-minded, pessimistic attitude?  Do we not get, after all, what it is we believe (Matthew 21:22)?

The Bible teaches us that we are to cheer up in the midst of adversity and we are to do so purposefully.  God does not work in us through negative attitudes of self-pity, laziness, passivity, or “everyone owes me” perspectives.  God works through faith.  Before we can have faith, we must have hope.  Hope enables us to endure hardships and long waiting periods.  Hope is looking at the promises of God and saying, “this is for me.  I believe God is going to do this in my life.”  A hopeful person does not succumb to the trappings of negativity.  Instead, while recognizing and dealing with problems, a hopeful person remains hopeful in thought, in attitude, and in conversation.  Instead of staring at their problems and occasionally looking to Jesus, a hopeful person stares at Jesus and occasionally glances at their problems. When times are tough, or we are dealing with disappointment, hope “floats” … it causes us to rise up in faith and say, “God, I praise You and I believe You are working on this situation and in me.  My faith, trust, and hope are in You.”

The good news is we can decide to be hopeful.  Hope is not something we have to wait to feel.  We make a decision … our feelings catch up to that decision.  If we allow our feelings and circumstances to dictate whether our hope is up or down, then the enemy is in control.  We might as well turn over our life’s key to Satan and say, “do as you please.”  Why not fight for ourselves instead?

Negative feelings are a given and we cannot prevent their arrival.  We can, however, drive them away with right attitudes, actions, and conversations.  Doubt and negativity steal hope … they block it.  When we feel down and hopeless, we need to resurrect a positive attitude … an attitude that declares, “something good is going to happen to me and through me” and “if God can bless anyone, He can bless me!”

Living a life of hopeless despair is not the way God wants us to live.  That life is not the destiny that Jesus purchased for us with His blood.  God wants us to be “prisoners of hope” (Zechariah 9:12).  He wants us to trust that He can change what needs to be changed, that we can do what He wants us to do, and that all things are possible with Him.  Instead of waiting with fear, anxiety, frustration, or works of the flesh, why not be happy and wait with hope?   God is faithful.  If we hold on to hope … if we let our hope float … we will see victory in our lives.

© 2016 by Kelli Hammond Mills. All rights reserved.

 

 

Seasons

“To everything there is a season, and a time for every matter or purpose under heaven” Ecclesiastes 3:1 (AMP).

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Those of you who regularly read my posts may have noticed that I have been missing in action for quite some time.  Not only have I been absent here, but I have been absent in life.  I have physically existed, of course, but I have been absent mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.  Many of life’s challenges are crippling, which makes it difficult to regain our footing and continue our race.  Oftentimes in life, we find ourselves as mere spectators rather than active participants.  It was there, on the sidelines, that I recently found myself.  Can you relate?

As I sat thoughtfully contemplating my present situation, I began thinking about the seasons.  In life, as in nature, we have seasons. The Bible says there is a season for everything in life (see Eccl. 3:1-8). If only we could embrace the seasons of our lives as willingly as we embrace the seasons of the year. Recently, I have been reminded that God has planned the seasons of our lives with infinite wisdom. He has ordained each one, knowing exactly what fruit is to be harvested at what time. I believe that since His desire is to do us only good, He enjoys each season He plans for us (see Jer. 29:11). So why are we so prone to resist the season we are in?

If I were to make a list of my least favorite things to do, waiting would rank in the top five.  Few things do I enjoy less than remaining in that agonizing place of staring my hopes and longings in the face and wondering how, and when, and if God will ever allow them to come true.  Oftentimes, I find myself grumbling … tired of waiting …tired of trying to hang onto hope … as the months and years slip away and so many questions remain unanswered.  I long for a breakthrough in a career decision that sparks life into my heart. I struggle to find a meaningful purpose to center my life around.  I look inwardly at all the healing, growth, and freedom I have yet to experience and wish God operated on my timetable instead of His.

So many times I have begged God to finally reach down from heaven and move, speak, act, shine a light on my path. As is often the case when I go to Him with my questions and restlessness, He does not reveal anything instantly. Yes, He brings hope.  He renews my faith.  He gives me strength to keep going.  But, in that gentle, quiet voice, He also speaks the words I have heard over and over again . . . my daughter, wait.

And so I wait. As time goes by, I am finally beginning to realize it is in these seasons … like my current season of waiting … that God does some of His greatest work.  It is being still before God … pouring out our heart before Him … that we find peace. It is in the desert … the wilderness …  the quietness … that God can restore hope and vision and deepen our character. It is in waiting that we get to know God’s heart more intimately and finally begin to realize He is our life.

Allow me to share with you a few things I am learning as I continue to walk through my own season of waiting.

Don’t Try to Do Life Alone

There was a time when I struggled through life on my own.  I was too afraid and stubborn to allow anyone in. Although meaningful relationships were the one thing I longed for above anything else, I was terrified of rejection.  I became known as the girl who never admitted a need and who never burdened anyone with my problems. If there were tears to be cried, I cried them behind closed doors. If there were hurts and fears to be dealt with, I waited until no one else was around. I was the one everyone came to with their problems, but rarely would I risk letting them see the wounds in my own heart.

Thankfully God did not let me stay there.  It has been a long, slow, painful journey to realize we were never meant to walk through life alone.  God actually designed some of His most powerful work to happen in the context of community. If it is growth, freedom, maturity, wholeness, and restoration we are after—then people …the right people … are going to be one of the biggest tools God uses.

I do not know how I lasted so long trying to do it on my own. I see now that time spent waiting for God to shake things loose is never wasted if we are staying vitally connected with people who help us not to lose sight of who God is and what He is doing.

Look Back at What God Has Done

It is so easy to lose perspective in a long period of waiting, but looking back and seeing God’s faithfulness gives us the courage we need to keep hanging on. If He has already brought us this far, why should we doubt that He will keep leading us in the future?  Why should we think he is not going to finish the work He started?  Sadly, I am all too similar to the Israelites who wandered around the desert and who quickly forgot how God led them out of Egypt and across the Red Sea, gave them manna to eat and water to drink, and rescued them from their enemies. I do not, however, want to lose sight of everything He has done, even though the next thing seems so far away.

Figure Out What Makes You Come Alive

I have come to realize that even in waiting and wondering, our hearts can be alive and growing. Every day we can pursue joy and growth and opportunities to really live.  Find joy in the little things … a picnic in the park with a loved one, the occasional, lazy day filled with movies and obscene amounts of junk food, or tucking your child in at night.  As long as there is life in our hearts, we can keep waiting, trusting, and hoping for the day when God will bring answers to our deeper questions.

Learn to Rest

“Cease striving and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10, NASB). I cannot count how many times that verse has made me stop in my tracks and realize that all my hard work (and all the self-help books in the world) will never bring about the kind of lasting change I long to see in my life. It takes God speaking those simple words for me to realize (again) that instead of laying out ten quick steps to becoming a Godlier person or burdening us with more that we need to do, God is inviting us to rest.  He is calling us into relationship with Him.  He is asking us to get to know His heart and His character. He is speaking to us of His love, of His delight in us, and of His desire to sit with us for awhile and talk.

I am extraordinarily good at letting the trap of busyness consume me.  Only when I step back from all of the hard work and finally rest will my thirsty soul actually be satisfied.  Only when I rest will peace and balance be restored to my striving, unrestful spirit.

Yes, the season of waiting is difficult.  It is during this season, however, that our roots go down deep as we wait and trust and hope in God. So whether you are waiting for guidance in a major decision, waiting for a broken heart to heal, waiting for love, or waiting for a clear career path to unfold, know that Jesus longs to walk with you right here, right now.

© 2016 by Kelli Hammond Mills. All rights reserved.

Draw a Line, Live Above It

“And this I pray, that your love may abound more and more [displaying itself in greater depth] in real knowledge and in practical insight, so that you may learn to recognize and treasure what is excellent [identifying the best, and distinguishing moral differences], and that you may be pure and blameless until the day of Christ [actually living lives that lead others away from sin]” Philippians 1:9-10 (AMP).

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I did not specifically intend to write this particular post today.  In fact, I had begun three posts prior to this one … and that was just this week.  Those three posts, however, never “grew legs” and are now sitting in my drafts folder silently mocking me.   Because I am what one might call a well-practiced “why seeker” (some might even consider me to be at a professional level), I spent an inordinate amount of time trying to analyze why I could not finish what I had started.  Were they not the right messages for the time?  Were they not inspired?  Were they intended to be part of a larger post?   In my frustration, I finally chalked it up to good, old-fashioned, writer’s block.   Now that I have succumbed to the guilty pleasure of labeling it, I can dust off and move on.

Something happened to rile me this morning and inspire this post.  I logged onto social media.  There, I read a staggering number of thoughtless or hate-filled posts (not to mention all of the commenters or sharers readily jumping on the “hate wagon” only to spread more negativity).  I will be the first to admit that I am, by no means, perfect.  In fact, I am far from it and have spent my fair share of time rolling around in life’s pig pen.  However, Ephesians 4:30 says, “[and] do not bring sorrow to God’s Holy Spirit by the way you live.  Remember, he has identified you as his own, guaranteeing that you will be saved on the day of redemption” (NLT).  Foul talk, idle words, and foolish jests grieve the Holy Spirit.  So as not to grieve him, we should avoid expressing opinions about things for which we have no responsibility.  At the very least, we should check our motives before doing so.

I desperately desire to grow up and to practice what I preach.  So, to settle those raw, negative emotions sparked by the social media posts, I prayed.  I quickly found a burning desire to transform them into what I pray will be a powerful, conviction-filled message.  Please note that I said, “conviction-filled,” and not, “condemnation-filled.”  There is a difference.

I have titled this post, “Draw a Line, Live Above It” because that has been a motto of mine for many years and I believe the title aptly describes the intended message.  What this maxim means to me is finding your moral/ethical baseline and consistently living above it.  In other words, you live with integrity and well above what you find even morally/ethically questionable.  God has called us to be people of excellence and integrity (see 2 Peter 1:3, “[f]or His divine power has bestowed upon us all things that [are requisite and suited] to life and godliness, through the [full, personal] knowledge of Him Who called us by and to His own glory and excellence”(AMP)).  We should live our lives before God … to please Him … and not for human applause or back patting.

The time has come for us to stop living out our Christian lives only in church on Sundays.  Imagine, if you will, a fence dividing God’s Kingdom and the world.  How many of us sit perched upon that fence not choosing a side?  Worse yet, how many of us stand firmly in God’s Kingdom on Sundays, but cross over the fence to spend Monday through Saturday living in the world?   When we hear God’s Word, we become accountable.  We must do what the Word tells us to do … every day … even when no one is looking.

Certainly, our admittance into Heaven is secured once we have accepted Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior.  What I am asking you to consider, however, is whether sneaking in Heaven’s “backdoor” is good enough for you.  Are you satisfied living a “barely get by” Christian life?  I am not.  I want to dance through those pearly gates and take many others with me.

In talking with many nonbelievers over the years, I have learned there is nothing more offputting to them than a hypocritical Christian.  People do not listen to what we say.  They do not want or need us quoting the Bible and then living like heathens.  Frankly, it is disingenuous and wrong.  Instead, people watch what we do.   They want to see how it is we live our daily lives.  Let us, by living our lives like true Christians, make nonbelievers hunger for what it is we have and they are missing.  God!  I encourage you all to live with integrity and excellence.  I hope you are inspired to draw your line and live above it.

© 2016 by Kelli Hammond Mills. All rights reserved.