G40D, Day 16

Spiritual practice: Purity

For your consideration on this practice, I invite you to read the written piece “Love Above.” This word has been planted in my life over the past week in conversations, readings, and application. The other day a friend shared about a transition to vegetarian practices. I shared my own sense that it was a practice I should adopt. He noted that he didn’t notice the daily difference, but he did notice when he went against the practice. Now, if he eats meat, particularly one that will be difficult to digest, his body rebels.
I have experienced that before. Soda is something that others will give up. They choose other beverages and then, after time, might try soda again. Their body does not know what to do with the substance. Something it once enjoyed, even craved, now stabs the body like an enemy! Our bodies and our daily lives do need a purity scan. There are many practices and consumptions that we have slowly taken on that are not if God’s original design. Our body, our life, adapts to the toxin and tolerates more..and more. Then, with time, it craves what it never wanted.
The topic of purity is often applied to our status as physical beings with sexual desires, and it is good to examine those practices. But if you believe that there is nothing impure in any other area of your life, well, I am concerned for your toxicity levels, friend. Our lives need examination. Our lives crave examination. Our body is a temple and our life is a song, do we not wish to take time to present our best?
A short book that can get you started is Randy Alcorn’s A Purity Principle. You could easily read the book in one day, but the thoughts within it deserve longer consideration. For fun, read it openly at work and see what self-conscious thoughts you have or comments you receive. Reading a book on purity at work almost begs the question: What is wrong with you? You could answer such a question this way: I’m feeling impure and I don’t want to be; I’ll let you read it when I’m done.
Maybe you begin by removing a particular food or beverage from your diet. I am convinced that our physical and spiritual lives are intricately woven together. Be it meat, pop, alcohol, sweets – there is much research available to guide your decision. But do examine and begin. You might not even be aware of the toxins you’ve ingested.

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10,000 Reasons

647) Becoming a pen for words I do not claim
646) Observing a student take responsibility
645) God in the unscripted (by me) details
644) Work partner
643) Driving prayers
642) God’s grace tucked into His justice
641) Remembering boots
640) The beauty of a snowfall

G40D, Day 15

Spiritual practice: Surrender

When the weight pressing against you becomes too much to bear, what do you do? Great question, but I am not so glad you asked. If I respond honestly, I would have to say that I “try harder.” That works about as well for me as I imagine that it does for you.
Perhaps as a temporary reprieve you can flex your muscles and try harder. Ultimately, however, you will find yourself pushing against a weight you cannot bear.
I knew that I needed to practice the act of surrender. I knew because nothing else worked. Thankfully I can recall times when surrendering my burdens to God has proven to be exactly the right move. We attempt to carry far more than we have ever been asked, and then we wonder why we don’t seem to be moving like we expected.
I wish that I could adequately describe the relief I experienced by surrendering; I will simply begin by saying that I wish I had done it sooner. But that is how we operate, isn’t it? We measure ourselves by our success against great obstacles. We forget that it is not our success at all; and that is why God reminds us.
I also wish that I could say I had surrendered before helping my sons prepare for school. I did not. In fact, it was my own inadequacy in that department that pushed me to the point of surrender. So, by God’s grace, I brought my sons to school and then had a talk with my Father as I drove to work. It was in that talk that He undid me: undid my false beliefs, undid my false expectations, undid my false fears. In short, He laid me bare. And that was exactly what I needed.
The blessings of the day and the course of the day, I am certain, were only available to me because of what I had set down. My day was filled with more surprises than I can even recall. I was free to receive.
We often sing a remix of an old, old song. With our lives we sing,
“I surrender some, I surrender some (just this and not that)! Some to Jesus I surrender (hey, I said not THAT), I surrender some!”
Thank the Lord there is mercy when we sing, because we often sing a wish more than we sing truth. I surrender some. And tomorrow I will be prone to take it back. Much like the joke of losing 15 pounds but finding 20, we like to measure ourselves against our problems. Alone in that, we will always come up short.
There is an accurate word of encouragement that applies here: Do not tell God how big your problems are; tell your problems how big your God is.
He knows; He is.
Surrender that burden you carry and watch the gift God will pour back into you.

G40D, Day 14

Spiritual practice: Perseverance

Perseverance is more than simply “hanging on,” though it may often feel that way. Perseverance is when the purpose becomes greater than the path of resistance. If the purpose is not great enough, we will never persevere.

Evaluate: What is your path of resistance?
What is the purpose along that path?
Which one is greater?

If you are struggling to see a purpose, consider this one: Seek first His kingdom and His righteousness.

G40D, Day 13

Spiritual practice: Receive

Perhaps this one comes more easily for you than for me. You are blessed if it does. I struggle to receive, and this can cause me to miss out on a lot. Grace, to be specific. Add “love” to the list, too. I could point to my father for this difficulty that I have, but i know that no longer excuses me. I have seen my father, but I have also seen my Father. As long as I can remember, I have watched my father give and provide. I have previously written how he speaks the language of love not as much in his words as in his actions. I have also seen my Father give in words and actions. I have a choice. To give is to do; to receive is to be. I do not “be” very well.
If you wanted to torture me, tell me I have to be still. Worse yet, put me in the middle of things that should be done, and don’t let me do them. Make me be. The danger in always doing, for me, is to take on a mindset that I can earn what I have. It is subtle, but most of the lies that undo us are subtle in nature. The enemy has to sell us something we will buy. I’ve bought. Thank goodness for the return policy.
God has promised to not only accept the fragmented and fractured pieces we give Him, but He also promises to give us something much better in return. Something that we should receive.
I don’t really know how to prescribe a receiving day for you. It was the word placed upon me before it was an act thrust upon me. I was busy doing when this practice of receiving came my way.
I had extended myself to take an extra turn in setting up the chairs and equipment for church; partly because I struggle to say “no,” and partly because it is a learned response from years of watching my father. Through some form of communication mix-up, we had less help than normal and it began later than usual. The scramble worked, and then it was off to pick up my sons. Then to church. Then to bring one son to the other site to be with the youth group. Then back. Then put away all the chairs and equipment. Then back to pick up my son. Then lunch. Do, do, do. Then…
…phone call. Mom and dad are coming to visit. That phone call is not a question, it is a warning of “We will be there.” My parents are predictable enough that I knew exactly how much time I had to prep. Prep how? Well, I should probably clear the sidewalk and driveway. Check. Clean the kitchen? Check. Move that big pile of papers off the couch? Check. Vacuum the dining room? Check. Iron that pile of clothes? Che…
Not quite. My parents showed up in the midst of my mess. (How Biblical.) Choices: Hide because I’m not ready? Silly, of course not. Do a “Just a minute..” and throw stuff behind a closed door? Tempting, but no. Open the door and let them in? Well, since a friend was walking away with borrowed sleds at the moment...yes, let them in.
Do you know why my parents drove 100 miles to see me? They wanted to give us gifts. My mother brought blankets and quilts that I can use as a fundraiser for a mission trip. They brought food, homemade bread, and jams for us to enjoy. They brought money to support two different school fundraisers for my sons. They brought a guitar that had been sitting around because a month ago I said the boys might like that. But most importantly, they brought themselves.
Consider how God does the same. Yes, God gives us gifts – gifts beyond our wildest dreams. Yes, God shows up in the middle of our mess. And yes, God loves us whether we put our pieces together or not. But what God really seems to look for is whether or not we receive Him when He knocks.
Silly as it may sound, I have to work hard to receive my parents without regard for my mess. As this event indicates, I have much work to do. Yes, there were still some untidy papers. Yes, there are things that should be thrown away. But do my parents love me less for that? Fortunately, no! They know me. They love me. They want time with me.
Another lesson I am slowly learning is that I cannot repay them. In fact, it would be foolish to even attempt. Whatever I might give them at this point would be turned right back around. But I do have one thing they cannot give back – me.
The strange thing, however, is that the way for me to give myself back to them is to receive them. I cannot give to them what I do not have. What I have is from them. What I have is them. So, in order to give myself back to them, I must make room to receive who they are.
Get it?
So how do I give back to God – the One who has everything? I cannot give what I do not have, so first I must receive Him. What I have is from God. What I have is God. So, in order to give myself back to Him, I must make room to receive who He is.
Receive. It is not easy. I am still prone to a desire toward “cleaning up” my mess, but that is not what God has asked. In fact, that is precisely the reason He shows up. He knows how desperately we need Him, even if we don’t.
Work on receiving today. If you want to give yourself back to the One who has everything, start by making room and receiving the One who gives everything.