Obedience vs. the Sloppy Seconds of “Doing God a Favor”

favor – act of kindness, good deed, help, aid 

Have you ever felt like you were “doing God a favor?”  Like He should be content that at least you did A and B, even though you didn’t do C like He instructed?

Tell the truth – there was a day when showing up at church on a non-holiday was a major accomplishment for you, and you felt like God should be completely satisfied now that you’d “checked the box” for the year.  As if your mere presence would be considered the greatest gift since sliced bread.  As if He didn’t desire to bless you for coming to learn His character, to be strengthened and challenged by His Word, and to fellowship with your brothers and sisters in Christ.  As if you wouldn’t grow, develop, and mature the more you were exposed to the truth of His Word.  As if it was all about your comfort and pleasure, instead of you glorifying, serving, and worshipping Him with your life.  As if.

I am convinced that God doesn’t need my help; He requires my obedience.  And that’s better than any sacrifice I can offer as an alternative, substitution, or replacement for what He asks of me.  Even when it’s hard on my flesh.  Especially when it’s hard on my flesh.  Are you listening to His voice?  Let Him work in you…

“And Samuel said, Hath the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams.”

(I Samuel 15:22)

 

“For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.”

(Philippians 2:13) 

© Copyright 2010 by Kayren J. Cathcart

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Old Keys

After my hubby recently got a new front door installed, he then installed a new lock and gave me the new key.  I put it on my already full key ring, right next to the old (and now obsolete) house key.  Why was I keeping the old key?  I reasoned, “I’ll put the new key next to the old one so the old shape can trigger a reminder that I need to select and use the new one.”  Sound convoluted?  I agree.  But worse, I realized this morning that I have a bunch of old keys that I’m carrying around every day in my purse – to what avail?

Let’s see…I have the copies of my mom’s old 4-door Pontiac 6000 that I drove during sophomore year of college when I had a spring internship (yes, that was in the late 1990s), AND consequently, that car was sold a long time ago.  Yeah, I suppose I could get rid of those two useless keys.  Then there’s the key to my grandmother’s house (rest her soul; she passed away two years ago on Thanksgiving Day); I suppose I’m keeping that for sentimental reasons.  Since I haven’t lived at that address for 10 years, and they’ve since added a deadbolt (for which I don’t have the key), that’s not doing me any good! 

So really, I guess the only key I need to carry on a daily basis is my current house key (for the new door) and my current vehicle keys.  Organization really is God’s plan to simplify our lives.  But I could’ve attested to that yesterday while cleaning out my purse when I (finally) discarded receipts and grocery lists over 6 months old…geez, old clutter can accumulate unawares until it becomes a mountain…attack first! And wouldn’t you know that today’s Weight Watchers meeting talked about “having a ceremony to retire our old materials – get rid of ‘em; they won’t work anymore!” since we’ll be learning about a completely new program rolling out after Thanksgiving?  I’ve got more “throwing out” to do; God really knows how to underscore a message…

The moral of this diatribe:  Get rid of old baggage that serves no purpose in your present.  A key is only as valuable as what it’s able to unlock.  What “old keys” (or memories, thoughts, habits, photos, or other items) do you need to discard today?

“And no man putteth new wine into old bottles: else the new wine doth burst the bottles, and the wine is spilled, and the bottles will be marred: but new wine must be put into new bottles.”

(Mark 2:22)

© Copyright 2010 by Kayren J. Cathcart

Just One – Really?

moderation – restraint, control, self-control, temperance

Moderation isn’t popular these days.  I’ve found that it goes hand-in-hand with that discipline thing…and isn’t temperance a fruit of the Spirit?  Yeah…Galatians 5.  Pop culture glorifies and glamorizes excess in just about everything – and now we want more of just about everything.  The multitude of marketing and advertising messages that constantly bombard us through a variety of media (strategically crafted for millions of dollars, might I add) tease, tantalize, and tempt our senses.  We can almost smell, feel, and taste things we see dancing across our TV screens – that’s pretty powerful!

As I munched on some Pringles chips the other day, I remembered the jingle they used a few years ago, “Once you pop, you can’t STOP!”  With all intentions of having “just a few chips,” I started humming as I crunched and drifted into reminiscing on the days when my mom packed Pringles for my own lunches…before Weight Watchers, before being a “responsible adult,” before counting the “few chips” I’d surpassed.  Before I knew it, 4 chips, then ¼ of the can, and finally 1/3 of the can had disappeared – all with mindless nibbling and thinking about a catchy product tune!  I quickly snapped back to reality as I glanced at the label, fat content per serving, and calculated how much I’d need to exercise to burn off that little “snack detour.”  Now I won’t go so far as to say that I believe some dark forces implanted ideas into my brain as a child and are triggering them in my adulthood to make me overweight (think “The Manchurian Candidate”)…or would I???  LOL…

In all seriousness, we have to stay on guard and fight the wiles of the enemy.  Random ideas and fleeting, idle thoughts often come to accost us – the challenge is what we do with them.  Will we actively choose to walk according to the Word, or will we passively allow the flesh to dominate?  Will we submit ourselves to God and resist the devil, or will we fallaciously continue to think we have the power to have “just one?”  Don’t fool yourself – obedience to God’s Word is the best choice.  Perhaps I should create a new tune, “If you don’t pop, you won’t have to stop!”

“Let your moderation be known unto all men. The Lord is at hand.”

(Philippians 4:5)

“Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded.”

(James 4:7-8) 

© Copyright 2010 by Kayren J. Cathcart

Is Your Soul for Sale?

Several co-workers asked me what my children dressed up as over the weekend and if they had fun trick-or-treating.  When I replied, “We don’t celebrate Halloween” firmly but with a smile, they swiftly moved along and signaled the end of our conversation.  Gone are the days of me trying to “fit in” just for the sake of casual conversation; I am compelled to stand up for righteousness.  As my son put it, “We don’t celebrate the devil or give him any glory because this is the day the LORD has made!”  My sentiments exactly; may God’s truth prevail!

My hubby had set the DVR to record some of the “Unsung” programs about high-profile recording artists who dropped out of the public’s eye after achieving what appeared to be fame and success.  This weekend, we watched a couple of episodes and were amazed at how rapaciously the machine known as the “music recording industry” used people, chewed them up, spat them out, and then looked for fresh, new victims.  One woman felt emptiness during her 20 years as an R&B artist, but rejoiced that the void was filled when she returned to her roots in Gospel music and focused on developing her relationship with Jesus. 

In my younger days, I thought I wanted to pursue a recording career.  Since then, I’ve had many wake-up calls to make me evermore grateful that those circumstances never materialized.  This program sounded one of those alarms.  How devastating it must be to put your time, energy, and effort – your life – into something of little to no eternal value.  Sure, people say what a nice voice you have – but are they there when you’re crying in the middle of the night, alone and empty, tired of road touring and wanting to spend quality time with your family?  No.

Gray areas and occasions for compromise present themselves daily.  Indeed, the lure of material gain and recognition by man can be enticing, but we must know where we stand – in Christ – before the pressure comes.  Selling your soul (whether in one fell swoop or a piece at a time) comes at a great price…and it’s never worth it.  Selah.

In these critical times, one misstep can cost us more than we’re willing to pay.  Let us be conscious of making godly decisions guided by the Holy Spirit each day…

“For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?”

(Matthew 16:26) 

© Copyright 2010 by Kayren J. Cathcart