Do You Need an Extraction?

One day I noticed a toenail causing a little irritation on my big toe. I was on my feet a good part of that day, and before long the irritation turned to pain. By that evening my toe was throbbing with pain and felt like I had a needle pushing into my toe. I finally got home late that night, pulled off my boots and socks to inspect the toe. It was red, swollen, and, well, I probably shouldn’t go into more specific details. The pain radiated upward from my toe, seemingly all the way up to ends of my hair!

It was time to pull out the pedicure instruments and begin the arduous task of performing an extraction of the ingrown nail before a serious infection set in. Surprisingly, it was not as arduous a task as I had anticipated. In fact, it only took a couple of seconds to slide a cuticle pusher around the edges of the nail to remove the miniscule sliver that had been causing my toe to hurt all day long. I felt immediate relief. Of course I had to make sure to clean and protect it, and by morning the redness, swelling and pain were gone.

I began thinking of the similarities between that rogue, miniscule sliver of nail and sin.

If no action was taken to remove that sliver of nail, my toe would have become badly infected and the pain would have been unbearable. In the same way, if no action is taken to repent and seek forgiveness for sin, the more pain and separation from God and others it causes. Eventually the unconfessed sin has separated us from God and poisoned every aspect of our lives, hurting us and causing our attitudes and actions to hurt others.

But your iniquities have separated you from your God; and your sins have hidden His face from you, So that He will not hear. Isaiah 59:2

When the cuticle pusher released that sliver of nail I experienced instant relief from the pain it had been causing me throughout the day and evening. When the Holy Spirit convicts us of our sin, we confess and repent, immediately that sin is removed, we receive God’s forgiveness, and our relationship with Him is restored, and the weight of that sin is lifted.

Do you need a sin extraction?

…as far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us. Psalm 103:12

*Scripture passages are from the English Standard Version of the Bible.

Paul’s Model for Change

“Think on These Things,” Saturday (9/19) at 2:00 PM.

Charlotte and I will continue our series on disciple-making using the book Paul the Counselor as our springboard for a discussion on “Paul’s Model for Change.”

Listen or watch locally on WGIB 91.9 FM or WAY-TV channel 47. Stream live at www.gleniris.net/WGIB

Would you want to go back?

A funeral was the occasion for a friend and I to reminisce about our     junior and senior high school days, some 39 plus years ago. We didn’t do the usual reminiscing by telling stories of people and things that happened while we were in school. Instead, we talked about so many of our classmates and schoolmates who had bad experiences while in school, and, who today are allowing their bitterness over those experiences to negatively affect everything they think, say and do.

That conversation brought to mind a question: Would I want to go back and relive those days?

Well, “Yes!” and “No!”

“Yes!” because those were fairly carefree days with little “real” responsibility other than school work, a few chores around the house, a part-       time job, church activities, and fun times with family and friends. I was blessed with a loving family, godly disciple-makers/mentors, and good friends.

“No!” because those were very difficult days for me, and, guess what? The teenage years are very difficult for almost everyone.

As I revisit those days in my mind’s eye, I could very easily allow hurt and anger to grip me again, and roots of bitterness to take hold and grow. Some of the meanness directed at me, verbally and non-verbally, hurt me very deeply at the time. Guess what else I have learned? People of ages say and do mean things.

So many people are bent and worn down by the weight of the hurt and anger they have carried with them for decades. Some have constructed walls of protection that have grown into walls of isolation. Others, now under 60, are bitter old men and women who spew bitterness and        hatred towards everyone.

I began thinking about why these experiences in my past do not have me tethered to wallow in anger, bitterness, and self-pity. It seems that the answer can be found in my response to this question: Whose opinion matters?

Had I listened to and dwelt upon those mean words and actions, I would have concluded that I was the dumbest and ugliest girl in the universe, totally devoid of personality, and useless to the world.

Thankfully, I listened to the Word of God and understood not only who I was in Christ, but also the immeasurable grace, mercy, love, and forgiveness that God so generously poured out upon me. Therefore, how can I do anything other than live in the comfort, security and freedom of that grace, mercy, love, and forgiveness?

By now some may be thinking, “That’s easy for you to say, but you don’t know what I’ve been through!”

You’re right, I don’t. But, God does! And He is rich in mercy and loves us (Ephesians 2:4-5). We are unique and amazing creations of our Sovereign God (Psalm 139:14 and Ephesians 2:10).

If you are living in the grip of bitterness because of things that happened to you in the past, there is hope and freedom in the grace, mercy, love, and forgiveness of our Savior, Jesus Christ.

Jesus Christ said, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls” (Matthew 11:280-29, NIV).

Every moment, we as Christ-followers must choose to walk as heirs of the Sovereign God, not as slaves to anger, bitterness, and the past.

…I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus (Philippians 3:13-14, ESV).