Hobby, Habit or Holiness

hobby habit or holiness

Luke 14:26-30 (NLT) “If you want to be my disciple, you must, by comparison, hate everyone else—your father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even your own life. Otherwise, you cannot be my disciple. And if you do not carry your own cross and follow me, you cannot be my disciple. But don’t begin until you count the cost. For who would begin construction of a building without first calculating the cost to see if there is enough money to finish it? Otherwise, you might complete only the foundation before running out of money, and then everyone would laugh at you.

In January, my husband and a group of men arranged to go duck hunting. They planned the excursion for months. Purchased mounds of hunting gear and ammunition. Planning included requesting leave from jobs, making hotel reservations and mapping out travel. Everyone paid their portion of the hunting lease and provided for meals and expenses. When the calendar finally fell on the travel date, the weather conditions took a dramatic turn for the absolute worst. It was below freezing. The lakes and ponds frozen over. Each morning they would trudge out to the field, break through the ice, set the decoys and lay in the blinds in the frigid conditions. They didn’t get a single one. They paid a high price yet got a miserable return other than the lease owner offering them a free return visit at the beginning of hunting season. This hunting hobby is new to our family.

We all have hobbies in life. It may be a variety of different things. Activities or interests pursued for pleasure and relaxation but no as a main occupation. I recently began repurposing old furniture. Reconditioning them is therapeutic to me. I was purchasing some pieces from a new acquaintance who encouraged me to sell the pieces rather than giving them away. I don’t really want to do that because I do this to escape the world and get lost in something creative. It is a hobby. Since most pieces are this side of tossing in the garbage, my investment is limited other than time spent cleaning, repairing, sanding and painting. It brings me peace. The great thing about a hobby is that I can choose how much of my time, talent and treasure that I invest in it. If I walk away for a few weeks, a month or so – it has not impact on me, my family or future other than a few choice words from my husband about the clutter in the garage. It is good to have hobbies in life.

What about habits? Those things that are not necessarily for pleasure or relaxation but driven by routine and schedule. Most adults have certain habits instilled by the values imbedded by the example of their parents or mentors. Some habits are formed by a desire to change certain behaviors, trends, circumstances or conditions. Habits can be good or bad. It is just what we do, who we are, and the choices we make. A habit is an acquired behavioral pattern regularly followed until it becomes involuntary. The word “involuntary” means independent of our will and not by our own choice. There are habits worth giving up for better health, emotional wellness, and spiritual awakening.

Church can become a habit. Religion is the routine of the church for organizational purposes. Habits and routines are comfortable. They give way to complacency in life and love. We must evaluate our habits as often as our heart to see our motivation. Do I do the things I do because I have always done them this way? Is there a better way? Is this a Christ-like endeavor or just something I do to fit in to my social group? Church is known for cliques and many times it is the birthplace of complacency as our pursuit of God is tempered by the other sheep in our fold. Is church a weekly habit? Is it an occasional hobby? If our relationship to Jesus Christ can be defined as either it is up to us to count the cost of becoming a disciple. Hobbies and habits do not produce holiness. It is not the way of those who desire God’s Kingdom and His Riches in Glory. It is just another way the enemy is keeping our churches and communities from experiencing revival.

2 Corinthians 6:16 (NLT) For we are the temple of the living God. As God said: “I will live in them and walk among them. I will be their God, and they will be my people.

When Jesus died, He released the Holy Spirit. On the Day of Pentecost, the Lord made it clear that the new dwelling place of His Spirit was in His People. Those who opened their hearts and minds to Jesus Christ and desired Him as Savior and Lord would house His Spirit. The church moved from the outside world to inside God’s People. Empowering them with new purpose and new power. When Jesus told the people that He would destroy the temple that it took 46years to build and rebuild it in three days, (John 2:15-21) He was referring to His Death which destroyed religion and His Resurrection that move His Church from buildings to bodies. As believers – we are the church. Not just any church of any denomination, we are the Temple of the Living God. Holy inhabitation is the cornerstone of holiness. Holiness is not a hobby or habit. It is who we are in God through Jesus Christ. We must become holy because God is holy. (Leviticus 19:2) His Presence in us forces an evaluation of our contribution to the Kingdom. Are we mere contributors or fully committed to the Cause called Christ in us?

Proverbs 20:25 (NLT) Don’t trap yourself by making a rash promise to God and only later counting the cost.

Have I made a rash (acting too hastily without due consideration)? We all are prone to say, “Yes” to many things without proper consideration or careful contemplation. Why? Who doesn’t want the affirmation and acceptance of others? Our “yes” is often based on meeting the expectation of others rather than fully consideration what it requires or what the desired outcome may be. We must count the cost of discipleship and decide if it is the life desired. Why is this important? At the end of my life, I will meet Jesus face-to-face. If I invested in the Kingdom as a hobby, I do not believe that He will say, “Well done, though good and faithful servant!” A hobby is something I do for me. Me alone. It is for my relaxation and my personal pleasure. Is that what I signed up for when I came to Jesus Christ? Is that what He was really offering? I don’t think so.

Is my commitment to Jesus Christ a habit? Has it become just another routine and scheduled event added to the long list of responsibilities in my life? Is it my religion or a true relationship? The truest test of religion verses relationship is passion. Am I passionate about loving, knowing, serving and following Jesus for the rest of my life? Or do I just go with the flow of the local church? Is my spiritual temperature set by the thermostat of my church or is it a flame being fanned and fueled by an All-Consuming Fire and burning desire to become His Disciple? To go where He goes, do what He does, and experience His Kingdom (as promised) on the earth as it is in Heaven. Hmm… makes me think. How about you?

Luke 14:26-27 (NLT) “If you want to be my disciple, you must, by comparison, hate everyone else—your father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even your own life. Otherwise, you cannot be my disciple. And if you do not carry your own cross and follow me, you cannot be my disciple.

Holiness is not a religious preference. It is not an organized denomination. Holiness is God’s Mandate on the life of the believer. To be wholly consumed and filled with His Spirit. To passionately pursue the Calling and Purpose found only in Christ as He calls us a new creation. To bring Heaven to earth in our own life while connecting the Body and its intricate membership and parts coming together with one heart – one mind – and one purpose. To make Him greater and greater while I disappear in His Presence. Sounds good until one begins to count the cost. We decide if we will carry “our own cross”. Jesus died to set us free to choose the life we live. To “take up our cross” is become responsible for our membership as one part of the Body of Christ. I cannot live, breathe, move or exist as an effective part of the Body unless fully connected to and directed by Jesus Christ. He must be my motivation. He must be the One Thing that I am after. I hear you. Family comes first. It does right after Jesus Christ. To be a disciple of Jesus Christ is to discipline my body, mind and spirit that in all things Jesus is first which means if anyone else makes a contrary decision that it does not influence or impact my partnership with Jesus.

Love and grace are the foundation of this wonderful relationship. I cannot have my way and live successfully in any relationship. My relationships (all of them) must have Christ as a foundation. Even my relationships to my perceived enemies, even those who are considered a threat or constant thorn in our flesh have purpose in our life. God put them there for a reason. We do not systematically cut off difficult relations or those who don’t understand our faith and marriage to Jesus. We must learn to put all our expectation in Jesus Christ and trust Him with every other relationship that we have engaged in. We must always take up our cross and follow Jesus.

What do I give my life to? Is it possible to graph the timeline of my life? Of course, it is but do I really want to. How much of my day is focused on this cross I have chosen to carry versus all the other endeavors in my life? Ignorance is not bliss but the death of the good seeds ready to be planted and harvested in our life. The secret to a successful partnership with Jesus is found in His Word. Simply because Jesus is the Word. To decide not to know releases us from responsibility is not ignorance it is foolishness when all of creation displays the Glory of God. If I refuse to follow Christ – the Word of God tells me that I “am not worthy to of being called mine.” Holiness requires shirking off the filthy rags and donning a robe of righteousness. It means picking up the full armor of God to step into a victorious life. It means to put away pride and live in humility. It means giving up my way. If I cling to this life, I will lose it. If I give my life to Jesus fully, I will find my true purpose and live in fulfillment forever. (Matthew 10:37-39) It is a daily choice. (Luke 9:23)

Luke 14:28-33 (NLT) “But don’t begin until you count the cost. For who would begin construction of a building without first calculating the cost to see if there is enough money to finish it? Otherwise, you might complete only the foundation before running out of money, and then everyone would laugh at you. They would say, ‘There’s the person who started that building and couldn’t afford to finish it!’ “Or what king would go to war against another king without first sitting down with his counselors to discuss whether his army of 10,000 could defeat the 20,000 soldiers marching against him? And if he can’t, he will send a delegation to discuss terms of peace while the enemy is still far away. So you cannot become my disciple without giving up everything you own.

Our life is comprised of three things of worth: time, talent and treasure. These are the things that we have to invest in something or someone. It is totally up to me how I invest my life. Time is the most precious commodity because it is irreplaceable. Talent is only as valuable as the realization of that potential in our life. Treasure is every tangible thing we own whether we think it’s worth anything or not. To become a disciple of Jesus Christ and live a holy life is not what so many have made it out to be. It is to live our life fully consumed by Jesus Christ. To step out of self and into Christ completely. It means investing my time, talent and treasure into His Kingdom. It is to combine our resources with the Lord completely. Giving Him all our time. All of our talent. All of our treasure. Then stepping back and letting Him use it for His Glory. The problem is that we give our hobbies and habits too much time and there is not enough to pay the price of discipleship. Divided interest and diversified investments may create natural security by not putting all our eggs in one lifetime basket but if my heart and soul are set on Eternity – I must take all my life and invest it in Jesus Christ.

1 Timothy 2:5-6 (NLT) For, there is one God and one Mediator who can reconcile God and humanity—the man Christ Jesus. He gave his life to purchase freedom for everyone. This is the message God gave to the world at just the right time.

When Jesus handed us the Keys to the Kingdom, the first key is marked “freedom”. I am now free to choose how I live my life. I choose my master. Asking Jesus to be our Savior is not enough, we must make Him our Lord to pledge allegiance to the Kingdom of God. I choose death or life each day. I choose blessing or otherwise. I decide if today will be to the Glory of God or pursue selfish interest. I get to choose. When I do, it determines my destiny. I cannot choose one course and expect to become part of the Kingdom. There is no middle of the road or gray compromise. Is my relationship to Jesus Christ a hobby? Do I do it for my own benefit and blessing but nothing more investing what is left of my time and energy? Is my relationship a habit? Do I take Him for granted? Rather than pursuing Him do I just pencil Him in? Is He part of the schedule or a routine measure? Do I every even think about Him or just do what I do and have done traditionally? Is my life ordinary? Is it just mediocre? Where is His Glory? It is not for the hobbyist or habitual Christian. It is for the intentional believer whose one desire is to be one with Christ. To put everything second. To give God the surplus of our life trusting Him with all of it. To follow Him relentlessly and passionately from beginning to end, no matter how deep the valley or high the mountain – no matter who comes with us. Does your love affair with Jesus have passion? Do you think about Him most of the time? See we have made this thing called discipleship a production but its not. It is the process by which our life, entire existence, is reconciled to God through Jesus Christ. It is how we achieve a state of holiness. It is not a hobby. It is not a habit. It is a relationship with the One who thought we were to die for. He gave up everything for me. I must reconcile my life to Jesus Christ to live a holy life. I must use my freedom to bring every part of my life into agreement with His Word, His Way and His Will. It is personal. Am I willing to give everything to Jesus? Lord, examine my heart and evaluate my life. Reconcile everything to you, Lord.

Acts 17:28 (NLT) “For in Him we live and move and exist.”

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Life is Beautiful – A Devotion

Life is Beautiful

I Chronicles 16:28-30 (NKJV)

Give to the Lord, O families of the peoples, give to the Lord glory and strength. Give to the Lord the glory due His name; bring an offering, and come before Him. Oh, worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness! Tremble before Him, all the earth. The world also is firmly established, it shall not be moved.

 

I have a beautiful life. You may not see it from the outside looking in. In fact, the joy and peace that our family has found in our faith in Jesus Christ is somewhat perplexing to onlookers. I believe some may even think that we are a little bit crazy. The beauty that has risen from the ashes of refinement represent those things that had to be removed to save our life and begin the process of true living. I wish I could adequately explain the process that I have gone through over the last three years of battling cancer with our son. I wish I could take people’s eyes off the tragedy of a life interrupted to see the Goodness and Glory of God coming from the Realm of Hope that we have entered. I did not name it that but his doctor’s did about the time modern medicine began to run out of options. His first relapse was in the summer of 2012 which statistically only would give him a couple of years at best. The other relapses significantly reducing his chances of survival dramatically but yet it is two years later, summer is ending and our boy is alive and well. God planned our life to be beautiful. He provided everything that we would ever need to have all of His Goodness. When sin was introduced things changed dramatically as people chose another way other than the one God plotted out. It was in our rebellion and distance from God that all these horrible things like sickness, disease, insanity, and horror precipitating so many tragedies that humanity must face day after day. God shut off access to the Tree of Life so His People would not have to suffer endlessly for their sins. He provided a sacrifice to pay the debt sin leaves behind – His Name is Jesus. God works endlessly and tirelessly to turn every detail of our life back to the good that He designed for it. (Romans 8:28) This beautiful life is worth having but it means that we must pay a price. The evil in this world will one day end forever. The enemy of us all is desperate to take as many of God’s Children a possible like a madman on the loose. If we want the Goodness and Glory of God in our life, we must choose to live in His Presence. This requires a choice. We must learn to worship God in the Beauty of Holiness!

 

Wonder from You Make Me Brace (Bethel)

May we never lose our wonder
May we never lose our wonder
Wide eyed and mystified
May we be just like a child
Staring at the beauty of our King

 

In this worship song from the folks at Bethel called Wonder, we are pointed to the beauty of our King. Do you think He is beautiful? I have five children. They are all individuals with strengths and weaknesses. Sometimes obedient and other times rebellious as is the tendency of all humanity. But when I look at them, I never lose my wonder. From the moment they came into this world even until today, I am amazed by them. They are beautiful to me. They are wonderful to me. I have been married to my husband for more than fifteen years now. I am amazed by him. He is beautiful to me. Even as time changes his appearance, he becomes more lovely to me each day. Why? Why are they beautiful? The beauty that they have comes from the love that I have for each of them. I cannot imagine a day in this life without them. It would break my heart to lose them. I do not like when we are apart even when it is just going about daily life, growing up, getting married, and maturing. I want them close to me. If you will take your love and commitment to your family, now look to the Father – you will get a glimpse of His Intentions for your life. You are beautiful to Him. He loves you more than you love any other person in your life. If we could only discover the true potential of that love, we would live in the wonder of God and never take our eyes off of Him. Like wide-eyed children we would be so mystified that we must keep watching and waiting for what comes next. God is a person. We have never seen Him yet He exists. We must find a place in His Presence and remain there until Jesus Christ comes to take us home. He is coming as a Bridegroom to whisk away His Beloved Bride. Will you be ready when He comes?

 

Revelation 21:1-3 (NKJV)

Now I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away. Also there was no more sea. 

Then I, John, saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God.

 

We are preparing for the wedding of our first daughter who is to be married in just a couple short months. With all that has been going on with our son, it has been a challenge to stay on top of all the preparations. Obviously, we want her special day to be perfect. Laying in the hospital couch/bed with our son, I have a dream that it was her wedding day and nothing was ready. She stood in her wedding dress but nothing else was prepared as the guests began arriving. I woke up in a cold sweat. Ever since their engagement in January, we have planned and prepared even with the ongoing appointments and medical care of our son. So many distractions, but it is all coming together according to the plan. I say that to say that life is full of distractions and there will always be something in competition for your time and attention. The enemy uses such tactics in the anticipation that when He comes people will be left unprepared for the arrival of the Bridegroom for His Bride. The Spirit says, “Come…” but the church is not ready. (Revelation 21:7) The Lord has provided everything that we need to be His Bride (Isaiah 61:10) but we have tarried in putting it on. We have not prepared for His Coming. We are not ready for His Arrival. “And at midnight a cry was heard: ‘Behold, the bridegroom is coming; go out to meet him!’ Then all those virgins arose and trimmed their lamps. And the foolish said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’ But the wise answered, saying, ‘No, lest there should not be enough for us and you; but go rather to those who sell, and buy for yourselves.’ And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the wedding; and the door was shut.” Matthew 25:6-10

 

Ephesians 5:22-24 (NKJV)

Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is head of the wife, as also Christ is head of the church; and He is the Savior of the body. Therefore, just as the church is subject to Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything.

 

Oh, I can feel the bristling over this verse already. The “S” word is probably one of the most debated in the Word of God. It is not a gender-specific term but rather a covenant promise. To submit means to give over or yield. It is to present for consideration, approval or decision of another. God’s Will for our life is to live in submission to Jesus Christ. He is our Bridegroom. He is the Head of our home and Leader of our life. Beauty is that which gives profound pleasure or deep satisfaction to God. He loves our marriage to His Son through submission. God desires holiness. Consecration means to separate our life from this world and invest it fully in service to God. All of expectations and desires are to be in Christ alone. It is a process of exchanging ashes for beauty. But well worth it in the end. Our daughter and her fiancé are very young. They both were raised in Christian homes. They have never shared a room or bathroom for that matter. Each very independent but now must come together as one. Right now, they are in the euphoria of the fairytale unfolding before them. They have eyes only for each other both willingly giving up their way for the other. When they are married and the reality of covenant comes forth there will be a struggle. Everyone goes through it as we submit our life to God and each other. They will figure it out like all successful marriages do because they are first sold out to Jesus Christ who is the marriage mediator. As long as they seek Jesus first above all things and in all things, it will all work out. It is all part of exchanging our old life for a new life. But in order for their marriage to work, they must submit. We are called to first submit our life to God. (James 4:6-10) We are then to submit to all governing authorities no matter who they are. (Romans 13:1-4) Finally we are to submit to everyone else. (Ephesians 5:16-21) Jesus Christ submitted His Life for all of mankind. We are to follow His Example. How? Why? I don’t want the world to walk all over me. If you want a beautiful life, you must submit it by faith into the careful care of Jesus Christ. You must do what He says to do with confident hope in His Perfect Plan and Promise.

 

Romans 10:2-4 (NKJV)

For I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge. For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and seeking to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted to the righteousness of God. For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.

 

I am very strong-willed to the point of outright stubbornness. I know the Lord must shake His Head all the times I keep ramming my head into a closed door intent on my way not His Way. He flinches each time I make contact and even goes as far to heal my aching head and broken heart. I have a beautiful life because my will is now to have His Will in my life. I had a friend tell me once to submit to my husband. I thought she was crazy until I tried it in my marriage. The results were miraculous. It is not about being right but faithfully believing that the Lord is perfecting all that concerns me even my spouse when necessary enough to keep peace in our home and give way. This works in all our life when we allow the Holy Spirit to lead us. Zeal for God is wonderful but short-lived just as an engagement. Once we are married to Jesus Christ, we must learn to submit our life to Him. All of it. The struggle to submit our life is the hindrance of our promise. The beauty of holiness is found when we submit our life to one another in preparation for our Bridegroom to come allowing nothing to stop us from being with Him forever. The struggle is real. Submission is not a fashionable or favorable term to our sinful nature. But those who yield their life to Christ must surrender it to Him in holiness. God makes a beautiful life in our submission. Who doesn’t want that? The Spirit of the Lord has come with a specific mandate for our life. He is to comfort, console and give us beauty for ashes, joy for mourning, and a garment of praise all of which lends itself to a beautiful life. A life worth having. A life worth sharing with others.

 

Isaiah 61:1-3 (NKJV)

“The Spirit of the Lord God is upon Me, because the Lord has anointed Me to preach good tidings to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound; to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn, to console those who mourn in Zion, to give them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they may be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified.”