Talk Back to Your Flesh

Now WHY does my flesh think it can determine the course of my day based on how IT’S feeling instead of on obedience to God’s Word?  Facing a test isn’t bad – we just have to establish that we’ll pass the test and rely on God’s help to do so!  This week, I found myself having to speak out loud and positively affirm obedient choices:

  • “No, we are NOT going to eat unhealthy fast food.  Yes, we ARE going to eat the healthy, pre-portioned lunch at our desk.”
  • “No, we are NOT going to be slothful.  Yes, we ARE going to exercise – right now.” 
  • “No, we will NOT be impatient and have an attitude with our loved ones.  Yes, we WILL let patience have her perfect work in us.”
  • “No, we are not going to wait until the last minute to leave the house, then arrive late.  Yes, we ARE going to prepare the night before, leave 30 minutes earlier, and arrive not just on-time, but EARLY.”
  • And of course, “No, we are NOT playing Solitaire tonight!  We ARE going to obey the Lord and spend time in His Word.”

Speak the Word of God into your own situation.  You can’t rationalize with the flesh – it will come up with some convincing arguments!  Starve your flesh; counter its wants with what God says you need!  Spiritual warfare at its finest…gird up – game on!

“But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof.”

(Romans 13:14)

© Copyright 2011 by Kayren J. Cathcart

Solitary Confinement: Confessions on Kicking a Bad Habit

You know, the flesh can talk really loud.  When you try to ignore it, it starts yelling.  Put it into withdrawal from its appetite of choice, and it launches into a full-blown temper tantrum.  Maybe that’s why Paul said, “I die DAILY” in I Corinthians 15:31.  Being “crucified with Christ” is the only way to keep the flesh in check!  The flesh must be starved; otherwise, the more you feed it, the more it wants.  They say that confession is good for the soul, so here goes…

I recently rediscovered how competitive I am…with myself.  A couple of weeks ago, I pulled up a computer Solitaire game to wind down one evening before bedtime instead of doing a crossword puzzle.  Harmless, right?  So I thought…

Forty minutes later, I had gotten the hang of the scoring mechanism, and I learned how time figured into my score.  And I wanted to beat it.  So I said to myself, “Just one more game…”  But that “one more game” wasn’t enough.  Ten games later (can you say compulsive personality?), I’d won several games, but I still hadn’t beaten my “best score.”  I was giving myself the gift of bags under my eyes, but I was fixed (more like fixated) on my goal.  I’m sure God would appreciate me having that same laser-like focus on His Word.  Imagine – having an addiction to the Word of God; we’d be unstoppable, saints! 

A few days later, my hubby came in to bowl a couple of games on the Wii. He must’ve seen my eyes glazed over as I peered intently at the computer screen, concentrating on winning.  He laughed and said, “You’ve got a Solitaire “jones,” girl!”  As much as I wanted to disagree, I knew he was right.  And I had to break that preoccupation – unproductive “idle” time was was creeping into “idol” territory.  He “sentenced” me to “no Solitaire games at night” for a couple of days straight.  I began to itch.  But I knew it was for my good, since I’d been mega-sleepy the mornings after my private Solitaire tournaments.

One night I was just waiting for him to fall asleep so I could – yep, you guessed it – go play Solitaire.  He put the brakes on that and told me to stay in the bed and channel surf until I got sleepy.  Now I KNOW channel surfing is a waste of time, but here I was stuck with the “lesser of two evils.”  I wasn’t at obsession level with this game (yet), but this seemingly harmless way to spend time had captivated my affections.  I was actually plotting and scheming when I could have my Solitaire time (making provision for the flesh)!  I don’t think the game itself is bad – it just became bad for me because I wasn’t disciplined enough to read my Word first or stop playing after 15 minutes and finish my other evening tasks (making lunches, laying out children’s outfits, loading the dishwasher) like I had some sense.

On yet another evening (I hadn’t learned my lesson yet – this went on about 2 weeks), I tried to circumvent the process of breaking my habit and “having just a li’l bit.”  Yeah right.  Actually, I was just planning to “do my own thing” (Did I really say that?  Yes.  It’s the truth – and that makes us free).  I figured that since I’d be sitting under the hair dryer for an hour, I could play Solitaire (multi-tasking – LOL) – after all, it wasn’t extra time I was spending on the game…it was just time I’d already be awake that I’d be using for personal recreation…right?  WRONG!  Time is God’s gift to me, and if I’m going to be a wise steward over it, I have to use it as HE directs.  Though I’d already set the laptop next to the hair dryer, I said ALOUD, “Flesh, you are NOT going to get what you want this time!.  You are going to read this Sunday School lesson and meditate on the Word of God for the hour you’re under the hair dryer.  This is what we’re gonna eat for the next hour.  You are starving from Solitaire.”  Do you see a theme here?  I had to actively choose righteousness and building up my spirit man.

I could’ve been content that I’d “given up” my spy TV program a couple of months ago.  I could’ve continued to rationalize that I “deserved” some time for a comparably innocuous relaxing activity.  But I was setting myself up for a fall.  When God points something out, He wants us to take action right then.  Nothing should have “beloved” status in our lives but Jesus.  However, is that really the case?  We’re in an information-driven society; would you go through withdrawal if someone took away access to your e-mail, iPod music downloads, cell phone, online social networking, text messages, novels, games, favorite TV programs, etc. for a week?  Be honest…with yourself!

Now I KNOW I’m not the only one who needs to use the invaluable resource of time more productively for God’s glory!  Today, I challenge you to solitary confinement with His Word.  Declare war on a time-waster that has usurped your single-minded attention on and devotion to your First Love!   Deny yourself something that you enjoy and instead, spend that time with your Creator.  You just might be surprised at what He shows you during your time of communing.

“I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.”

(Galatians 2:20)

And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts.”

(Galatians 5:24)

“Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.”

(James 5:16)

© Copyright 2011 by Kayren J. Cathcart

In EVERY Thing Give Thanks

Say WHAT?!?  Seriously, did my child just thank God for Daylight Saving Time during his prayer this morning?  Yeah, he did!  After I’m STRUGGLING to get back on an even keel, driving to work in the dark groggy, yawning for the first 3 hours of my day?  Uh-huh.  While I’m lamenting the loss of my precious hour of sleep, he’s embracing the beauty of change and relishing how the extra hour of sunlight directly translates into more time to play. 

Or maybe it’s not that deep.  Maybe he’s just a morning person and I’m not.  Whatever the case may be, it was a wake-up call for me – literally. 

I repent, Lord!  I am thankful even for Daylight Saving Time.  You have given me this day to be productive for You and share the light of Your love with someone who needs You.  Guide my steps and my words, I pray…

“In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.”

(I Thessalonians 5:18)

 “I must work the works of him that sent me, while it is day: the night cometh, when no man can work.”

(John 9:4)

© Copyright 2011 by Kayren J. Cathcart

Scary Slimy Carrots: Hearing the Voice of Godly Wisdom

This is starting to be very repetitious; one would think I’d have this lesson down pat by now, right?  Me too.  But alas, as I gathered my lunch this morning, I righteously reached for some healthy veggies.  This NEW bag of baby carrots was unopened; there were 2 weeks remaining before the expiration date; they didn’t look ashen.  All is safe, n’est-ce pas?  Non!  Au contraire, mon ami!  I suppose the test continues to present itself until you pass it…(sigh). 

As I suspiciously sniffed (multiple times with one raised eyebrow) at the squirrelly texture of the foreign glaze/sludge covering my beloved snack, my daughter said, “I think you should throw that away, Mommy.”  Horror of horrors, if that chile don’t sound like her Daddy! Well, bless the Lord for godly wisdom in its many forms.  For some twisted reason – and against my better judgment, and KNOWING I wouldn’t be eating this forsaken fare – I decided to bring them on to work with me (“just in case” I got hungry and needed a healthy snack was my warped line of reasoning).  Translation: just in case I wanted my hubby to give me that “I told ya so” disapproving look while assuring me he had no problem taking me to get my stomach pumped for my imprudent decision.  But I TOTALLY agreed with her, “You’re right sweetie, those don’t look right at all!”  I couldn’t even bring myself to taste one “just to make sure.”  I couldn’t put my finger on it, but there was definitely something sinister about these innocent-looking veggies lurking in my crisper – skull and crossbones territory.

What is godly wisdom telling you to get rid of today because it’s just not good for you?  Don’t suffer the consequences of disobedience when you can make the right choice God is specifically pointing out with flashing neon lights, red arrows, loud bells and whistles, and “Bridge Out Ahead” signs.  Keep it simple – obey God’s voice…whomever you hear it through.

“…and a little child shall lead them.”

(Isaiah 11:6)

© Copyright 2011 by Kayren J. Cathcart

Ignoring the Obvious: Do You Hear What I Hear?

On an old SNL skit, whenever someone said something displeasing or annoying while she was supposed to be providing customer service, “The Vancome Lady” character (aptly played by Nicole Sullivan) would to cover her ears, look away, and say loudly, “La la la la la la la la la – I’m not listening to you!  La la la la la la la la la…”

I had an “ah-ha” moment the other day when I realized I’d been doing this to God…and it wasn’t funny.  I was drinking a glass of water when I acknowledged that I hadn’t heeded what He said a long time ago that I’d made food an idol (among other things).  “Surely not me, Lord!  You can’t possibly be referring to me,” I reasoned.  But indeed, He had my name, address, and zip code – He knew exactly and precisely to whom He was speaking.  And He was right.  But I had been in denial.

When we ignore someone, we imply by our actions that we esteem them lightly – if we esteem them at all.  We disregard them and everything they stand for and represent.  Take inventory of your own attitude to see if you’ve scornfully despised, disdainfully disrespected, discounted, overlooked, passed over, written off, cancelled, or nullified someone God put into your space for a specific purpose in this season.

A wise son heeds his father’s advice.  So it is with us as children of the Most High.  Why should He dispense the wisdom of the ages when we won’t obey?  We must take obedient action; we’re accountable for what we’ve heard through God’s Word and His ambassadors.

“I spake unto thee in thy prosperity; but thou saidst, I will not hear. This hath been thy manner from thy youth, that thou obeyedst not my voice.”

(Jeremiah 22:21)

 “Take ye heed, watch and pray: for ye know not when the time is.”

(Mark 13:33)

© Copyright 2011 by Kayren J. Cathcart

Rotten Fruit Does NOT Get Better With Time

Perhaps I’m unconsciously nurturing my unbeknownst-to-me inner scientist.  Maybe I’m a high-stakes risk-taker and just don’t know it yet.  Whatever the reason, more often than I care to admit, I have experiment-worthy items hiding in the back of my fridge.

“Fresh” is not a relative term, I’ve learned.  Yet, I keep wondering, “How could something that was so good 2 weeks ago be spoiled now?  A once-sweet, firm, ripe fruit is now sour, fermenting, and soggy.”  Well, fresh items deteriorate when not connected to their source of nutrients.  When plucked out of fertile soil and whisked away from exposure to regular water and sunlight, the fruit can be sustained on its own for only so long.

How does this apply to our own lives?  If we had (past tense) the fruit of the Spirit in operation in our lives in the past, but now it’s not operating at optimal level, we need to reconnect with our Source (through reading the Word, spending time in prayer, and listening to hear what God is saying specifically to us) so we can bring forth some fresh fruit.  Just a thought…ask God what He has to say about it.

Read on to see what the Word says will happen to a good-for-nothing tree producing bad fruit…

“Then said he to the multitude that came forth to be baptized of him, O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come?

Bring forth therefore fruits worthy of repentance, and begin not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to our father: for I say unto you, That God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham.

And now also the axe is laid unto the root of the trees: every tree therefore which bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire.”

(Luke 3:7-9)

 “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith,

Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.”

(Galatians 5:22-23)

© Copyright 2011 by Kayren J. Cathcart

Expiration Date: Disregard at Your Own Risk

On most food packaging, we see an expiration date field.  But it’s a suggestion, not a limit, right?  For instance, take a speed limit – do we REALLY cap our maximum driving speed at that top number, or do we take it as a “good idea” that we often ignore – like a “speed suggestion?” Just a rhetorical question…because we know the law says we should not exceed the speed limit.

The Parable of the Ashy Carrots:  A Life or Death Situation?

Last week, I ate some ashy-looking baby carrots.  Why, you may ask?  They were probably dry because the expiration date on the bag said February 20 and I was eating them in March.  Just a possibility… But the reason I ate them?  Well, I admit that was just a decision against my better judgment.

Sure, I saw the expiration date.  But I don’t think I even paused before saying, “Oh well, I’m sure they’re alright,” and proceeded to toss them into my lunch bag.  Fast-forward to afternoon nibble ‘n’ nosh time at my desk when I got to the second-to-last ashy carrot – it had a funny smell, was mashed up, and – ewwww! – is that a rotten spot?  Yup, with that weird taste, I could tell that it had definitely expired.  RIP, ashy carrots.  RIP.  I threw that fatefully icky bite and the remaining 1.5 carrots away as my tummy rumbled ominously.

Today, I’m eating baby carrots from a new bag that will expire later this month.  What a novel concept, eh?  They are bright orange and they look happy (and hydrated).  They sound crisp and crunchy as they prepare to jump into my tummy.  I’m sure the beta carotene and other nutrients are intact.  These healthy carrots don’t have an undercover agenda to cripple my innards.  So why on earth did I first choose the sickly-looking carrots the first time around?  I guess I was teetering on a slippery slope, taking a risk I thought I could afford.  Thankfully, nothing horrible happened after eating those ashy carrots (though I shudder at the memory of that horrific taste).  But we take similar risks with other things when God has clearly shown us the best choice for our lives.  So we have to consistently choose righteousness and obedience…and shun ashy carrots.  Selah.  Because there’s often much more at stake than our tummies…

“I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live:”

(Deuteronomy 30:19)

 “In the way of righteousness is life: and in the pathway thereof there is no death.”

(Proverbs 12:28)

© Copyright 2011 by Kayren J. Cathcart