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Tuesday, May 24, 2011


Life-patterns can be anything from biting your nails to lying or cheating. You want to break the cycle but can’t. This force of habit can reach deep into the inner emotions. For instance, responding to a jealous spirit will make you feel miserable. It's pain is continuous like the slow and constant drip from a leaky faucet . You masquerade in the costume of concern or protectionism, but it is a self destructive life-pattern which you need to be free from. For others it can be bitterness of soul which the bible refers to as a ‘root,’ or inner heart condition. 

Once you engage in this business of old life patterns it is like letting the cat out the bag. It scratches and claws all the way. Your attitude will make you feel terrible. Your fingers bleed from that last tear at those already chewed down nails, and there seems to be no end in sight. Your emotions are constantly in an upheaval and are triggered again and again by ill conceived perceptions of what you imagine other people are thinking. For some they spend hours not sleeping because of worry. They nurse fears all night long. Instead of being rested in the morning they are exhausted. Do you think God doesn’t know these things? Of course He does. Not only does He know and understand your situation, He is already at work to break the mold.

Sheba, alias, Ugly, the dog who attached herself to us and our wonderful German Shepherd, is intrinsically incorrigible. She is after all the neighborhood stray. The reject, so ugly even her mother abandoned her. Completely beaten down in spirit she would crawl on her belly to try and get into the house. Now she stubbornly does everything she can to get out. If you are curious at all, you would be asking the question, “Why?” Well as the saying goes, ‘curiosity killed the cat; but satisfaction brought it back.’ So let me explain this ongoing saga which is revealing many of the stubborn secrets of the heart.

God spoke to me to embrace this flea bitten taxi of a dog as mentioned in a previous blog. Sheba now eats a constant meal from our table and has a permanent home with us. Life should be perfect for her now, right! Wrong! She still loves to stray and eat garbage even after a healthy hearty meal. A life-pattern forced upon her from birth no doubt.

We decided recently she needed a bath. After all, is that not what we need when we come to Christ? A bath! So into the bath Sheba went. The water turned instantly into a murky muddy pond. Goodness, she was carrying the weight of the world on her shoulders. Amazingly, all her real colors were revealed in that moment. For her, this must have been the very first bath in her life. You would imagine she would be filled with gratitude by all of our loving care. But no! All she could think of was how do I get out of this place. So it is with us when light is shined upon our somewhat unwelcoming heart attitudes.  How do we escape. Do not get disappointed or discouraged at this point when after receivig a cleansing from Christ, your true old nature is seen for what it really is - Ugly! God is not finished with us yet. We are all a work in progress.

We discovered, at least for now, Sheba still prefers the dirt of the world to the cleanliness of a new home. To keep her from wandering we placed her inside a fenced area, in what she now, unfortunately, considers it ‘a gated community.’ We are helping to break the mold of her straying, running wild and doing her own thing. These strongholds are deeply impressed and ingrained reactions in her life. Call it anything you like, but little by little we are with love and guidance chipping away at her instinctive self-preservation. We are allowing her to form a new reliance and dependance with her adopted owners. Does any of this sound familiar?
The key is not sternness or control. It is  forming a bond with her through love and constant feeding of quality food. Slowly Sheba is coming around to the fact she can trust humans, that someone has her back and will be there for her. This is not a one day process. She claws and whines to be loose. Let her out to do her business and she is gone like a shot. Back into the forest, back to the old haunts of garbage digging. Our natural inclination is to let her go, give up on her. Like a cracked record (this statement is understood by anyone 50 years or older) we keep rehersing the statement, “Why can’t she be just like ‘Buster’ who was raised in the house of rightousness?” But Sheba is unique. She is her own person and no sooner do we think those awful thoughts when around the corner she appears wagging her tail coming home again. Asking us to love her, to accept her as she is. Oh! That prodigal child. :)

Read between the lines. God is speaking to someone today. He (God) is causing you to rethink your self-reliance. He has been feeding you, cleansing you, creating a bond through love to help you abandon yourself into His loving arms. Biting your nails only hurts you and does not bring about any lasting change. Jealousies, anger, bitterness, all of these are real foes of inner peace.  They are at best a broken reed, which when leaned upon pierce your hand.

Stop for one moment, reflect on God’s goodness. Take time today to smell the roses. Think of all the blessings in your life, these are the real mold breakers. God is leading you to trust Him. He has a great track record of success. Chew a nail today if you wish, but when you do, with each nibble, count His many blessings. You will find God has been taking care of you all along. He is breaking the mold of old life-patterns of thinking and acting in your life. He is literally casting the mountain of your woes into the sea. He is doing all this by simply loving and blessing you.

So here's what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life — your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life — and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don't become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You'll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.
(Romans 12:1-2, from THE MESSAGE: The Bible in Contemporary Language © 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson. All rights reserved.)

1 comment:

  1. Pastor Neil I am sure there are other how feel the same way, but I will tell you this spoke to me. I thought I was over a old habit and delivered and it has come back, it has consumed my thoughts and prayers in a selfish way. Reading this refreshed me and let's me know yes I don't want to do this but He will work it out like everything else he has. I am a work in progress and thank you for reminding me.