Whatever is Pure - September 2011
No Smoking Please"Listen! A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root. Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants, so that they did not bear grain. Still other seed fell on good soil. It came up, grew and produced a crop, some multiplying thirty, some sixty, some a hundred times." — Mark 4:3-8
At the age of twenty-two, I became a Christian. In an attempt to win God’s favor, I tried to adopt my perception of a Christian lifestyle. Part of this endeavor included laying down my cigarette smoking habit. I prayed for the Lord’s help, and He graciously helped me overcome the initial physical addiction. Still, I was regularly tempted by cigarettes. I gave into the temptation to smoke after six weeks, and the addiction grabbed hold of me again. Even though I failed, the Lord continued to show me His favor. The longer I walked with Christ, the more I gained His inner peace. My thought patterns became more positive and hopeful. God demonstrated His love and trustworthiness time after time. My passion to quit smoking grew, but my ability to stop the addiction decreased with each passing year.
Finally at the age of thirty-six, I tried a prescription medicine for smoking cessation. After three weeks, I felt as incapable of breaking the addiction as ever. The only difference I did notice were the medicine’s side effects. One such side effect was the onset of severe anxiety attacks. During a panic episode, my heart would beat rapidly along with the horrifying sensation I could not breathe! After one unusually long panic attack, I felt I could no longer endure it and begged the Lord to make it stop.
The Lord spoke to my heart, "I will do this for you if stop smoking." My heart must have responded with a "yes" because my panic attack stopped instantly and completely. Since then, I have not lifted a single cigarette to my lips. Although getting through the rest of the day without a cigarette was uncomfortable, I made it. The following day, something had drastically changed. It was inexplicable how the compulsion to smoke was just gone. I was completely healed of the tobacco addiction.
When I read the parable of the scattered seed, I am reminded of my struggle with addiction. My desire to stop smoking sprang up quickly but dissipated after a short time because my relationship with Christ had no root. Once I had walked with Christ for a number of years, our relationship had grown. I learned God can be trusted with my worries. His peace made my heart like good soil, so when his healing seed was scattered again it produced a vigorous plant. I am so thankful God never gave up on me.
Incoming"I don’t want to leave. I happen to like it here. She’s so easy to manipulate. I barely have to lift a finger of suggestion because she’s so enamored with my promises. All I have to do is hint at the idea of self gratification, and her heart does the rest. It was so easy to bring her to this point."
Sin peered through the transparent spiritual veil, as he gloatingly spoke at Grace. For years now, he maintained an unchallenged hold over Jordyn’s life. How delicious it was to see this woman time and again chase after the insignificant wants and desires of the world, only to fall deeper into Sin’s hands. Just thinking about the end result of Jordyn’s life, made Sin erupt in boisterous laughter. He composed himself long enough to glance a red eye toward Grace, sitting quietly beside him.
A content and quaint smile peaked at the corners of Grace’s lips. That subtle smile signified a knowing; the type of knowing Sin might not be too happy with. As the red demon considered this point, he turned toward the little angel and huffed. Tendrils of red smoke exhaled through the demon’s nostrils.
"By the way, little-Grace, what brings you to my neck of the ethereal plane anyway? You didn’t come over here to bask in my conquest of another lost soul, so what news do you bring from your father now? Other than informing me of my impending departure, which was quite hilarious I might add, what real message do you have for me?" Sin chided.
Grace seemed lost in his own thoughts as he stared through the spiritual veil. He watched as Jordyn rifled through the bathroom medicine cabinet, and settled her hand around a bottle of prescription pills. She wrestled the cap open then dumped the entire contents of the bottle into her free hand. Pills spilled across the floor.
"Not long now," Grace whispered. "Almost time. Sin…I want you to watch this carefully. See the fruits of your labor, savor the moment while you can."
Sin sneered at the little angel. He huffed plumes of smoke defiantly at Grace, as they both watched Jordyn swallow one pill, and then another.
"HA! I’m watching alright, you little goody-two-shoes! You see that? She’s mine! The time has come for her to die. I plan on claiming her soul momentarily," Sin pronounced as he glowered at Grace.
Grace simply turned a sympathetic look toward the demon. The knowing smile evolved into a broad grin across his angelic face. "I’m here to celebrate your outgoing reign over Jordyn’s life, Sin. You see, the time has come; my father has granted me clemency rights over this woman. This is as far as you will take her."
The angel’s warm smile infuriated the demon. As Sin screamed curses at the angel, tongues of red flame licked at Grace’s wing-tips. Still, the little angel smiled.
"Goodbye, Sin. We will cross paths again," Grace said.
"I’m not going anywhere, you little…" Sin bellowed, but his tirade was cut short at the sound of Jordyn’s words.
As he turned his head disbelievingly toward the spiritual veil, Jordyn dropped to her knees, onto the cold bathroom floor. He watched the young woman clasp her hands together.
"No!" he screamed.
"Jesus…I can’t do this anymore," Jordyn pleaded through streaming tears. "Please help me! I’m in trouble, and I don’t know where else to go. GOD please, save my life."
Sin attacked the spiritual veil in a rage, but could not penetrate its boundaries. He watched helplessly, as Grace floated through the veil and gently wrapped his wings around the young woman.
As Grace settled over Jordyn, she felt a sudden warmth envelope her skin. Within her mind, she heard the words spoken as clearly as if someone were standing over her.
"I’m here Jordyn, and I will never leave you."
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People Get Ready
Forgive me if I sound like a broken record but once again I have felt the Lord’s nudge to urge my readers to be faithful and vigilant, obedient and ready.
Are there areas in your life that God has asked you to get in order? Are there debts that need to be paid? Are you spending way beyond your means even when your spirit feels God’s conviction to find your security, comfort and self-worth in Him and not in social status and prestige? Are there spiritual disciplines he is asking you to practice daily that you have been lax in pursuing? Have you been feeling a hunger deep inside to develop a deeper, more intimate prayer life but you are unsure you have what it takes to learn such skills? Are you feeling God calling you back into deeper fellowship with a supportive body of local believers? If so, you are not alone.
Over the past several months, I have heard reports from across the globe that our merciful, loving God is exhorting his people to gather spiritual provisions and to hone their skills of prayer and intercession far in advance of the battles we are about to face. Many believers are feeling an increased sense of conviction when they step out in disobedience and they feel the same conviction when they fail to step out in obedience to His leading and direction. Many believers have an increased longing to hear God’s voice and they are experiencing a growing holy hunger to stay in his presence through bible study, worship and quiet times. As scripture says, “Deep calls unto deep” and God is wooing his children closer to his heart as he desires to pour into them all that they will need in the coming days.
There are skills that are not readily learned in the heat of battle but they are skills that are vital in our arsenal. Some of these skills require self-discipline in order to learn: the ability to hear the word of the Lord, the ability to discern between half-truths and truth, the ability to step forward past fear into obedience, the ability to not move when the Lord instructs you to stay still and the ability to enter into His peace when all around us is being shaken.
God eagerly calls us to prepare and provides us with all we need in order that we may prepare.
From the beginning of time, God has unwaveringly remained committed to His children. Throughout the ages, he has lovingly given his people advanced warnings of what was to come and his promises have remained true. His character does not change, his plans and purposes, hopes and dreams for his children have not changed since the beginning of time. He is ever faithful.
Until next week,
© 2011 Katherine Walden
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Bird WatchingI’ve been a bird watcher for so many years now that I don’t remember when it first started. I have feeders of different types around the yard and we get quite a variety of birds, some pretty exotic. We’ve had everything from tiny chickadees to, once, a peahen. My favorite are the piliated woodpeckers. To those who don’t know, these are the birds that the old “Woody Woodpecker” cartoons were based upon and they grow to about 18 inches long. They are very secretive and having them at backyard feeders is highly unusual. We have them on a regular basis. For a number of years, I had the added treat of observing a golden-haired raccoon as he visited our feeders for a number of years.on a daily basis. All these things are examples of God’s lovely and incredibly work.
At one time, I was an avid, almost obsessive bird watcher. Everybody I knew I was a bird watcher and it came up in my daily conversations with others. My family had transformed our back yard into an oasis, our get-away spot. The patio is surrounded by a trellis-covered flower garden, which was in turn enclosed by a white picket fence. Sidewalks lead to a fire pit, bird baths, and a small frog pond with a waterfall. In the winter, the ponds and bird bath are heated. Directly behind the garden are the bird feeders, then the woods.
My home office once overlooked the oasis with a sliding glass door providing an unobstructed view. In those days, I could enjoy the beauty of the garden and all the wildlife constantly during my work day, and I did. However, the room was chilly in the winter months and upon my son leaving home, we converted his room into my office.
The new office was nice. It was very comfortable and cozy, I had more privacy, and there was a lot more space to spread my work out when I needed to. The only downside was that I wasn't up close to watch the birds as they flew in and out, lining up to use the heated baths and as they twittered around, doing the things that birds do. When I was able and when I thought about it, I would wander over to watch the action but I often missed the raccoon when he visited. My new office did have a window that overlooked the bird feeder area but now I had to stand to look out.
The view wasn’t quite as an easy access and I had to consciously make the effort to look and enjoy. Oddly enough, I often forgot to do just that that. I could have checked out the action at the feeders every time I stood up for any reason but I just didn’t. And, you know what? I stopped paying attention to the birds as much. I continued to fill the feeders every morning, I still do today. And, still today, I watch them sometimes and I get enjoyment from it like I always did. However, I don’t pay them the same attention as I did back then when they were right there in front of me.
In those days, on very cold or hot days, I would check the feeders and bird bath on a regular basis to make sure there was plenty of food and water. In those days I went out occasionally to chase away that old red-tailed hawk (who likes to watch the birds too!) Now I do those things, if I think about it but, I often don’t think about it.
You know, our Christian life is much like bird watching. If we spend time in the Word, if we make an effort to study what He says to us, if we spend time in daily prayer, if we stay close to Him, we find that we pay more attention to what He’s doing - at least I do.
When I’m in that right place….. That place where I see Him right in front of me wherever I look, I find myself to be an “avid” Christian. I consider what Jesus would do before I take any action. I find that His teaching affects every aspect of my life. My reactions to everything from church politics to the misbehaving behavior of the neighbor cat, are different. I find that I act more like Christ would have me act, and I do it without even thinking about it. People know I’m a Christian because it shows in every way I live and act.
But, in the same way, when I get too busy and don’t study, don’t read the Word and don’t pray as much as I should, I also stop paying attention. The longer I don’t pay attention, the less enthusiastic I become, until I finally notice that I’m no longer acting like Jesus would want me to act. I’m still a Christian but I’m no longer an “avid” Christian. I’m still saved but I sometimes forget to consider that in my dealings with others. Christianity doesn’t come up in our conversations as much as it did before. People don’t know I’m a Christian as quickly as they used to, because it doesn’t show as much.
Thank the Lord that we have ways to keep our Christian thoughts and priorities high on our list. Thank the Lord that He has given us the tools to stay close to Him. Let’s pray together and for each other that we will always do our best by being the avid Christians that He would have us be.
@ 2011 Dick Kent
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