Biopsies, Bandages and Sin

This week I had to have a biopsy done on an area that was of concern to my doctor. I was going in for a routine check-up and to ask about something in particular. This biopsy popped up out of no where once she did her check and it was a little startling. Biopsies are routine obviously as I have chatted with a couple of people about them since then, but let me tell you, I was not prepared for the slicing out of part of myself to then be looked at to determine if it was cancerous.

Nope. Not in the least.

I have a sheet of instructions for the next week or so to care for the area that was sliced, and let me tell you, it still hurts.

As I was re-bandaging the place this morning it got me to thinking about the unrealized areas of ourselves that often need to be sliced and put under a magnifying glass for review. Areas we weren’t expecting to get addressed but are brought to our attention rather suddenly and often hurt to have even a small amount removed for further examination.

We can be deceptively content with the comfort we find ourselves in-settled in the routines of life, only to be jarred with the painful revelation that all is not fine within us, whether it is our attitude, our words, our thoughts, our job, our relationships, our home, our hearts. So quickly it needs to be dug into, magnified and dissected to see if there’s a cancerous piece infecting it. It can be small and unassuming but when sin wiggles it’s way into those areas, it will spread and eat away from within.

So we allow God to reveal the deep down root of the sin in these areas, and then begin to apply healing to them. Slowly and deliberately, taking great care to see the cause of it in our lives and setting about through Him to remove it. Not just the spot, but the deep-seeded root of it. Then we seek out the balm and healing that only He can fully cover us in. It won’t be immediate, there will be waiting and echoes of the pain still there. But there will be lasting healing, there will be a space that once was eating away at us that is now filled with Him, His grace, His love, His forgiveness…with Him alone.

So maybe today we sit with our bandages, from where we have allowed Him to dig out the sin within, where we have examined what was within us and brought it to Him to dispose of. Bandages are not to be embarassments, they are proof of healing, proof of our weakness and inability to do it ourselves. Bandages show we are dependent upon something greater for healing, for restoration, for refuge. We wear them, not in shame but as evidence of His work in us.

On Good Friday

This post originally published in 2016. As I have journeyed through Holy Week this year with intentionality I felt this post said more than I could write today…


It’s a grey morning. Oddly the birds that have been chirping the alarm of morning are silent today. There’s just an eerie silence cast over this morning.

My day beckons to get busy, with errands and the gym, lists and emails. Yet here I sit.

I sit in Good Friday, where many often question the goodness of this day. We rushedly point to Sunday, of the hope coming, the joy awaiting the sunrise of Resurrection reminded.

But I don’t want to rush through this because in order for there to be joy in Sunday, there must be mourning and grief on Friday. There must be the inner realization and confession of my heart. The cross, that which brought death and mockery onto Christ, was mine. It should have been.

My distance from God? That too was mine to address.

Yet He is there, in my place, in all of our places, because of love unfailing. Because of the unconditional pursuit He has for us. To bring us back, to bring us in, and to be the way for us to God. He bridged the distance as He anguished those six hours on this day so 2000+ years ago. He closed the gap, and gave up His life in my place.

Reading Matthew 27 is difficult. It is hard for me to see that which I caused on the landscape of eternity, Christ wondering why God had forsaken Him there. “It is because of me,” I want to tell Him. But He knows. Yet in this Friday mourning I sit, I know that He does not want me to put back on the guilt and shame of sin. He never asks me to carry that again, as He took it on there on that cross. He took on the taunts and mocking of those who would mock me, those He came to save as well.

I have talked about the redemptive nature of Good Friday before, but today, this Good Friday I sit in the story of it. The reality of what this day was, what it is for us. All of us. There is grief, mourning, the reality of sin and the cost which was paid for us. His death lingers over this day.

Before I try to push that truth aside and get lost in the busy of the “other” of a Friday, I want to sit in Good Friday. That it is good for me to recall and focus on what today is, what it means, Who He is, and Who I say He is. Today I rest in the gravity of Friday, the message of Who Christ is on the cross.

Maundy Thursday

When I was around eight or so, I dropped the communion plate full of grape juice on the brand new light green carpet at my church…in the second row. Who thought that was a good idea to pass that plate around the pews FULL OF CARPET AND PEW STAINING GRAPE JUICE?

Thursday of Holy Week marked the first Last Supper. It marked the time when Jesus revealed the new covenant of living forward to the disciples. That each time we break bread, we drink that we should remember Him, that we do this as a remembrance to the body broken, the blood spilled for us.

I was diving into some commentary on the first Last Supper and found an interesting point from The Christ-Centered Exposition that defines how the Passover was the perfect time for the Last Supper, the reminder that one exodus long ago would also bring forth another, a lasting exodus freeing us from sin and enslavement to it forever. The lamb sacrificed then would be the One given of Himself for us all, so that we would take and remember it each time we ate or drank-which is every single day.

I think about the pew stains on carpet there in the church, how there’s still a hint of it almost 30 years later. And I think about the sin stain of the world, cast across the people that God loved dearly but that broke His heart. I see the eternal blood there in the wine cup, the blood of the Perfect Lamb covering us all in order to make us white. The red of Him made us white in His eyes. It took away our need to sacrifice at Passover, and replaced it with the covenant of bread-breaking, cup-bearing daily. It ushered in freedom where we were once bound by the marks of slavery, of stains cast all around us and on us.

As we greet and walk through Maundy Thursday this week, I find the Last Supper what draws me in, to see my desperate need for cleansing in Him, to be reminded of His brokenness and blood-rending that is coming tomorrow. The arrogance of Peter there, even as Christ foretells of his desertion and my own walking away at times. The need for prayer in the deepest parts, in the times where I feel alone and deserted, there’s the draw to my knees and communing with God alone.

The sacrifice for my stains awaits tomorrow.

Sacrificial Identity

Am I sacrificing my identity to be identified solely in Christ?

Oof.

I scribbled that question across the top of my bulletin, knowing the Holy Spirit was pushing me into a very hard question to address, right in the middle of Sunday morning church.

Y’all. I don’t know how you get when the Spirit starts doing a work in you, but I tend to want to have a conversation. And you really can’t do that with your pastor digging into the Word with 200 of your other congregants.

Oh, and to think I thought that was it. Nope. Then came the checklist of things I choose to make my identity rather than Christ. Things I put above that list that I had not even thought identified me: judgemental, self-righteous, better than, unforgiving, haughty. Ugh. Y’all, it was not a pretty scene there in that row. Because God was doing a work I had been praying for Him to do, but it wasn’t on my terms. It wasn’t in my controlled environment to address and respond to in time.

Nope…He was there pointing out in the very Scripture I had been reading the week prior, the same Scripture that Aaron had planned to preach on months ago, that my identity was only to be in Him. That at the root of it all, of who I think I am, who I really am, and who others see is the creation that He made me to be, to identify me as-His. That my identity alone should be in Him and not in other things, people, roles or sins.

Yep, sins…because whether I accept it or not, often my identity is in the sin I choose to take for myself. The little ones that don’t seem to matter much in the day to day but that soon become what I am identified as-poor attitude, condescending, unloving, spiteful. It all has to be sacrificed if we want to be known as nothing but Christ’s.

It means choosing grace, hope, love, kindness, goodness, meekness in every single thing. It means understanding that the identities we desire for ourselves, whether they are roles, jobs, prefixes, or any other good thing are not the very best thing for us, they are not His intention for us. And so to be identified in Christ, all the lesser things have to be cast aside, sacrificed and laid down. They must.

If I sat here and said it was easy, then I’d be identified a liar as well because it is not y’all. And it’s not a once and done, it’s a continual fight to not pick up those things we think are good at identifying ourselves as and choose Christ instead. But as we move into our identity being solely in Christ, we find the choosing can be easier, the fight not as hard, and the sin identifiable before we engage in it. It will also mean wrestling with areas we didn’t know we were identified with, sins we couldn’t possibly be connected to, and choices that we hadn’t realized we’d made in order to be identified as anything other than in Christ.

The Struggle is Real

Do you have those moments where you just know that it’s God talking through a friend specifically to you about something buried deep that you keep pushing back down?

No? Just me.

Oh well good.

Recently with a friend, who did not know what I had been killing and burying repeatedly within me, they brought up the struggle of the flesh with obedience to God’s prompting. I thought it interesting because I wasn’t prepared for that wallop at the time, since I myself had spent the better part of two weeks avoiding dealing with this rising notion of disobedience because of the flesh whispering the very thing it knew would get me, what others would think.

real

Most of the time I am good at really not minding what is thought of me, but the grooves of my old self, an approval addict to the very core, found some footing in my heart as I sought to be obedient in what I still feel is God prompting me on about discipleship and women’s ministry. Then this verse came up when listening to a sermon first thing today and I knew it. I knew exactly what the flesh was after and the struggle I had not been fighting but just burying to avoid.

For I do not understand what I am doing, because I do not practice what I want to do, but I do what I hate. -Romans 7:15 (HCSB)

I was right back in my approval mode of life, looking alot like the habits of my old self and wondering what people would think of me if I asked, if I stepped out in obedience. I didn’t realize it in the moment, or over the course of the last few weeks but I knew for certain this morning that I was pursuing the things which I hate-old habits. A life that I had crucified to the cross because I was already approved, loved and adored by the One who went to the cross for me. Who took it all on Himself so that I would not have to worry about such things but live in the abundant approval of the King of the world.

But just because that approval addiction has been nailed to the cross doesn’t mean it still doesn’t wiggle off, limping and broken to come right back to me in the moments when the flesh wants to remind me of what I used to be, habits I left a solid tread mark for in my old self. I didn’t need a CSI team to tell me where those tracks led, but somehow I was willingly off the path that the Spirit had been leading, all too quickly simply out of the worry of approval.

Y’all, let me be the example to tell you that you cannot be living in obedience with God, walking in step with the Spirit and not expect your habits of old self to attempt to distract you. Because they do. They want you off that path, even with the lie as the pastor pointed out this morning, “that you’ll get back in step and on that path later.”

The struggle is truly real, not with our old selves but with those habits that wore deep paths within us from that prior life…ones that are often easier to find than the step in front of us that is with the Spirit. Maybe like me, you needed to hear today that even when we believe we are in step with the Spirit that our habits can distract us, can pull us into an old way that feels comforting and familiar but is blatantly disobedient to where we are supposed to be, where we are called to be by God. But we have the choice to recognize it, to see the old path and know that the outcome leads to death and hurt. So we can then choose repentance, obedience and placing that foot back on the path with the Spirit leading. Back in tune with “the desire to what is good” and knowing “there is no ability to do it” on our own. (Romans 7:18(b) HCSB)

Where is it today that you need to  step out of that habit of your former self to boldly step in the path with the Spirit? To choose obedience and the power of God in you rather than the flesh that reminds you of your old self?

The struggle is hard, but the continual sin of fleshly habits is real. And eternally tethered.

On Good Friday

It’s a grey morning. Oddly the birds that have been chirping the alarm of morning are silent today. There’s just an eerie silence cast over this morning.

My day beckons to get busy, with errands and the gym, lists and emails. Yet here I sit.

I sit in Good Friday, where many often question the goodness of this day. We rushedly point to Sunday, of the hope coming, the joy awaiting the sunrise of Resurrection reminded.

But I don’t want to rush through this because in order for there to be joy in Sunday, there must be mourning and grief on Friday. There must be the inner realization and confession of my heart. The cross, that which brought death and mockery onto Christ, was mine. It should have been.

My distance from God? That too was mine to address.

Yet He is there, in my place, in all of our places, because of love unfailing. Because of the unconditional pursuit He has for us. To bring us back, to bring us in, and to be the way for us to God. He bridged the distance as He anguished those six hours on this day so 2000+ years ago. He closed the gap, and gave up His life in my place.

Reading Matthew 27 is difficult. It is hard for me to see that which I caused on the landscape of eternity, Christ wondering why God had forsaken Him there. “It is because of me,” I want to tell Him. But He knows. Yet in this Friday mourning I sit, I know that He does not want me to put back on the guilt and shame of sin. He never asks me to carry that again, as He took it on there on that cross. He took on the taunts and mocking of those who would mock me, those He came to save as well.

I have talked about the redemptive nature of Good Friday before, but today, this Good Friday I sit in the story of it. The reality of what this day was, what it is for us. All of us. There is grief, mourning, the reality of sin and the cost which was paid for us. His death lingers over this day.

Before I try to push that truth aside and get lost in the busy of the “other” of a Friday, I want to sit in Good Friday. That it is good for me to recall and focus on what today is, what it means, Who He is, and Who I say He is. Today I rest in the gravity of Friday, the message of Who Christ is on the cross.

Mind Games

It has been said, on more than one occasion, that you can read my thoughts on my face. I have been that way for as long as I can remember. I have shown the face of consternation, elation and diabolical scheming. It has been immensely helpful to my mother and teachers over the years, but has also gotten me into quite the trouble a time or fifty.

Most of the time it’s just a flicker and then it’s gone, because frankly I don’t meditate on too much. However as I get older I am finding what I choose to meditate on to be of value and focus. The reason being is my thought life, well, it shapes where I go and what attitude I carry with me.

I find when I dwell on a thought it leads to action-as it does for the majority of people. Even more confirming is the knowledge that dwelling on the wrong things, on the negatives, will only perpetuate the negative thought life and attitude. It is not as if it slithers in, unawares, but it’s a conscious choice.

Recently I heard someone teach on Psalm 1, which led to the point of what we allow ourselves to be available to leads to something we choose to be near and ultimately sit among in our thought life especially. If you look at verse 1, you see that the blessed man doesn’t walk with scoffers, doesn’t stand in the way of sinners, and doesn’t sit in the seat of scoffing.

Oooof.

That one stung. Deep.

Why? Because ultimately I make the decision on where my thoughts go, what attitude I have when I dwell in them and how I respond to those thoughts. Many times I don’t take them captive as I should.

What if I did though?

What if I started taking captive thoughts, replacing them with the indwelling truth of God’s Word? What if I started being more aware, more conscious of the gate of my mind and when it should be opened and when it should stay firmly locked? If my mind isn’t careful what it meditates on-even the deceptively good things-it can lead to a disobedient heart with questionable choices and a heart with hollow roots.

 

Instead of rolling the dice, wondering what I dwell in and on, I get to boldly and assertively choose which things my mind goes to, stays in and even sits among. The privilege of leading the junk, the really amazing yet deceptive thoughts, tied up to Christ’s feet? That’s like getting straight cherries on the slot machine.