Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Fibber McGee's Closet

 "Merely hearing God's law is a waste of your time if you don't do what he commands. Doing, not hearing, is what makes the difference with God." MSG Romans 2:12-13

You may be too young to remember Fibber McGee and Molly. So am I! I learned of this radio show turned TV show from my mother. There were days as I grew up that Mom would open our hall linen closet and say, "It's Fibber McGee's closet!" Finally one day I asked who Fibber McGee was. She laughed and told me the story of the running gag on one of her childhood favorites radio show, Fibber McGee & Molly. Everyone dreaded the hall closet on that show and every time it was opened there would be an avalanche of stuff come tumbling out! Fibber's response was usually, "I'll have to clean out that closet one of these days!"

Now I'm grown with my own hall closet and sure enough, it periodically becomes "Fibber McGee's" closet! How does that happen? The worst thing is the Fibber McGee syndrome spreads to other
closets in the house! It is HIGHLY contagious! I even hear myself saying "I'll have to clean out that
closet one of these days!" and then shut the door and walk away! The truth is when you finally get
around to cleaning those closets, it is a HUGE job. It requires more time and more space to sort and
manage than the space of the closet itself.

A couple of weeks ago, I tackled my walk-in bedroom closet that was no longer "walk-in-able"! As I moved the items to my bedroom for sorting it became very clear I had waited WAY too long for this job! Just look at the mess I made of my room! Can you believe all that stuff fit in a 4'X8' closet? My son even commented "What's Dad going to say?"

It took ALL day to accomplish the 'ridding out process but when I was finished, what a deep, refreshing breath I was able to take! Everything in my life seemed clear and manageable again! It was like a new lease on life!

How many times had I looked in that closet and said "I really should do something about this!" I had
crammed clothes in so tightly they were wrinkled when I took them out requiring more time to get ready to go somewhere. The shelves had NO room because the things once thought too important to trash had taken every inch of space. I was stepping on shoes that had no place on the shoe rack. Let's not even talk about the dust! It was disgraceful!

James 1:22-25 speaks of seeing things that need attention but are ignored. James1:22 But don’t just listen to God’s word. You must do what it says. Otherwise, you are only fooling yourselves. For if you listen to the word and don’t obey, it is like glancing at your face in a mirror, (or looking in your closet). You see yourself, walk away, and forget what you look like. But if you look carefully into the perfect law that sets you free, and if you do what it says and don’t forget what you heard, then God will bless you for doing it. NLT

Matthew Henry comments on this passage saying: "If we heard a sermon every day of the week, and
an angel from heaven were the preacher, yet, if we rested in hearing only, it would never bring us to heaven. Mere hearers are self-deceivers; and self-deceit will be found the worst deceit at last. If we flatter ourselves, it is our own fault; the truth, as it is in Jesus, flatters no man. Let the word of truth be carefully attended to, and it will set before us the corruption of our nature, the disorders of our hearts and lives; and it will tell us plainly what we are. Our sins are the spots the law discovers: Christ's blood is the laver (a ceremonial basin for washing) the gospel shows. But in vain do we hear God's word, and look into the gospel glass, if we go away, and forget our spots, instead of washing them off; and forget our remedy, instead of applying to it. This is the case with those who do not hear the word as they ought. In hearing the word, we look into it for counsel and direction, and when we study it, it turns to our spiritual life. Those who keep in the law and word of God, are, and shall be, blessed in all their ways. His gracious recompense (payment for) hereafter, would be connected with his present peace and comfort. Every part of Divine revelation has its use, in bringing the sinner to Christ for salvation, and in directing and encouraging him to walk at liberty, by the Spirit of adoption, according to the holy commands of God. 
     And mark the distinctness, it is not for his deeds, that any man is blessed, but in his deed. It is not talking, but walking, that will bring us to heaven. Christ will become more precious to the believer's soul, which by his grace will become more fitted for the inheritance of the saints in light."

In other words, cleaning out your spiritual "Fibber McGee's closets" brings peace and liberty to your
soul! It's not that anything in my closet was 'sinful' or disgusting, it's just that the closet was neglected
and dysfunctional! I know in my heart allowing things to crowd into my life, to take up space and rob
me of energy is dangerous. Life requires focus and clarity to maintain my walk with Christ. Clutter
trips me up and can cause me to stumble if neglected. I just allow myself the excuse, "I don't have
time right now". However, I need to be more diligent to keep the "stuff" of life manageable and sorted
as I go instead of letting it all pile up. 

Do I think I have all my "Fibber McGee's closets" conquered? Of course not! Even the apostle Paul knew that is impossible! He wrote in Romans 2:17-24 "But I need something more! For if I know the law but still can't keep it, and if the power of sin within me keeps sabotaging my best intentions, I obviously need help! I realize that I don't have what it takes. I can will it, but I can't do it. I decide to do good, but I don't really do it; I decide not to do bad, but then I do it anyway. My decisions, such as they are, don't result in actions. Something has gone wrong deep within me and gets the better of me every time. 21 It happens so regularly that it's predictable. The moment I decide to do good, sin is there to trip me up. I truly delight in God's commands, but it's pretty obvious that not all of me joins in that delight. Parts of me covertly rebel, and just when I least expect it, they take charge. 24I've tried everything and nothing helps. I'm at the end of my rope. Is there no one who can do anything for me? Isn't that the real question? " MSG The good news is Paul didn't leave us hopeless! He gave us help in verse 25, "The answer, thank God, is that Jesus Christ can and does. He acted to set things right in this life of contradictions where I want to serve God with all my heart and mind, but am pulled by the influence of sin to do something totally different." MSG

I want to be sure to keep my spiritual closets clean, organized, functional and pleasing to the Lord!
Lord, help me be righteous before God by being not only a hearer of the word, but a doer through
Christ who gives me strength. "For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength." Philippians 4:13

Saturday, October 8, 2011

When absence just means "forgotten!"

Blogging is just an elongated "tweet" or facebook post, right? Then, why is it that I have so much trouble having something to say worthy of a blog? Maybe it's because a comment is rarely posted on a blog and I like feedback.  We used to call that - conversation! Now we text using abbreviations and "textese" (the language of text that completely ignores grammar and punctuation for the sake of 160 characters). Don't get me wrong - I LOVE being able to get in touch with someone by text. And Facebook, Google+ and Twitter are a great way to "stay in touch" with friends and family.  I just miss having back and forth dialog!

Call me!  Better yet, let's meet for coffee and TALK! My vocabulary is getting rusty and I'm growing tired of alphabetical exclamations!

BTW - IMY and need a good LOL!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

A Moment In Time Can Change Everything

2 Samuel 11 & 12

It was a beautiful spring afternoon. The air was clear, the sun was shining and the roof was the perfect place to freshen up. Another month passes and no baby. Uriah was off to war with the king’s army. It will be a long time before her husband returns. No matter, life has a way of righting itself.

On a nearby balcony, the king, who had chosen to stay at the palace instead of going to battle with his troops, sees an unusually beautiful woman bathing on her rooftop. “Does she know I’m here? I’ve not seen such beauty! Who is this woman?” The messengers sent to inquire of her return with the news that she is Bathsheba, the daughter of a trusted friend and granddaughter of one of his advisors. She is also the wife of one of his most loyal soldiers, a member of his royal guard.

In that moment the king had the opportunity to walk away from the lust in his heart and honor the vows this woman had made to her husband.  But he didn’t.

A messenger was sent to the woman, calling her to the king’s chambers. She quickly responded and went immediately to the king. We don’t know the conversation but it is quite certain that the king made his wishes of her known. In that moment she had a choice to make, surrender to the king’s wishes or honor her vows to her husband.

Can you imagine what it would be like to be desired by the king? The flattery of being called to him, the honor of serving the highest authority in the land, it must have taken her breath away. Thoughts must have been turning in her head, “The king has many wives and yet, he wants me!” A blush of embarrassment and a schoolgirl’s giggle may have been the reaction. Or, had there been a devious plan on her part.

Did she know the king had not gone to war? It is most likely the whole city knew. Did she know her rooftop was in full view of the king’s balcony? Probably.  Did she desire the privilege of the palace, the luxury of being one of the king’s women? Did she mean for him to see her? She went to him and slept with him and then returned home.

The moment had passed. It might have been a one-time encounter but she became pregnant. Now what? Uriah will be dishonored, the king has no obligation to her – she’s married. What can be done? The law demands death for both David and Bathsheba. Bathsheba decided to leave it up to King David sending word to him of her pregnancy and the cover up begins.  Uriah was brought home but in his loyalty to his king and his brothers in battle, he refused to spend time with his wife. Even when the king got him drunk, Uriah was a man of honor. The only way out was to kill Uriah and marry Bathsheba. Uriah was sent to battle with the understanding on the part of his superiors that he was to be placed in the “front line where the fighting is fiercest so her will be struck down and die”. Uriah died defending his nation and his king.

How different things would have been if in those moments of decision, David and Bathsheba had followed the laws of God known well by both of them. Because of one moment’s weakness, David, a man after God’s own heart, broke the sixth, seventh, ninth and tenth commandments*, the very law he said was his delight, (Psalm 40:8)
The opportunity for this sin may have presented itself many times but it only took one surrender to the moment to change everything.

God in his justice, allowed David to marry Bathsheba but the baby born of their sin died. David’s heart was broken. He pleaded with God for the child’s life but God said “No.” (2 Samuel 12:15-24)

The good news to this story is God did forgive David and Bathsheba and gave their union a son, Solomon that ruled the nation with great wisdom and was loved by God (2 Samuel 12:24). Bathsheba was honored and loved by her husband and her son.
David was allowed to rule bringing his nation into the promise God had given their father Abraham.

We are given “moments” everyday that will determine our futures. We have to choose to make the right choices based on God’s commandments. It would be easy to allow the words or look of flattery to turn us. We may even be putting our livelihood and futures at risk by refusing to give in to those “moments” but God’s promises NEVER fail us. When we make the right choice IN THAT MOMENT, we are secure in the promise David knew to be true:

“ 73 You made me; you created me.
      Now give me the sense to follow your commands.
   74 May all who fear you find in me a cause for joy,
      for I have put my hope in your word.
   75 I know, O Lord, that your regulations are fair;
      you disciplined me because I needed it.
   76 Now let your unfailing love comfort me,
      just as you promised me, your servant.
   77 Surround me with your tender mercies so I may live,
      for your instructions are my delight.  Psalm 119:73-77