The High Calling of Self-Improvement

“What we are is God’s gift to us. What we become is our gift to God.”

(Eleanor Powell)

I’m a big fan of tweaking *or overhauling* my home so it can work best for my family. Could we use more storage space in a particular corner? Is it time to replace some furniture? How about a good old-fashioned deep clean in that closet? Making changes to suit our current needs has proved a fun way to boost functionality. Home is a tool, and the same principle holds for all tools—efficiency is worth the cost of upkeep. This explains why we get our teeth cleaned, vehicles realigned, and septic tanks pumped. Neglect could lead to disaster.

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Self Care Check-in

The day of giving an account to our Maker is coming.

This fact used to terrify me, paralyzing any movement for fear of getting it wrong. Standing firm in the gospel, though, that same fact can spark the most joyful, free, effective, wholehearted living available, and yield an incredible harvest. Don’t believe me? Just review the parable of the talents in Matthew 25.

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The Bride Victorious

As the iron bars thunder upward, you’re deafened by the roar of the drunken crowd. Alcohol sloshes from their cups, greasy meat clinging to the corners of lips placing bets on which of your family members will die first. Music. Cheering. Heckling. Flirting. Time slows to a crawl, and you notice how Rome’s breeze scratches against your exposed skin. Guards push you forward with the end of their spears, a mixture of boredom and disgust in their voices, and after weeks of being chained in the dark, the sun’s heat washes you white when you step out into that holy circus where so many have gone ahead. “Jesus,” you whisper, “make me brave. Don’t let me fail You now.” Then the gate across the arena trembles, beginning its agonizingly slow ascent toward the freedom of lions starved for days. Your last breath is a hymn.

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When Clouds Cheer

I wonder if this scenario sounds familiar.

You’ve found a moment quiet enough to hear yourself think. It might be in the middle of the night, or maybe it’s when the rush of the day has paused. Your mind wanders to what God has called you to, whether general Christian obedience or a more specific dream. Either way, you know it’s got His fingerprints all over it even if it’s been hard or scary or slow going so far. The enemy slinks in as though he’s been waiting, oozing loneliness into your heart. He makes you feel isolated, like no one will care if you succeed or not, so it’s better to just give up now and be done with it. You’d probably screw it up anyway. No one sees, no one would even know if you called it quits. So why keep plodding forward? You could stop fighting and just go with the flow.

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The Lord My Rock Piler

We serve a good God, and I’m constantly finding new favorite things about Him. One such example is His habit of building reminders into the culture of His people. He knew we have terribly short memory spans, and His compassion toward us prompted an insistence on visuals that would bring us back to truth. There’s a great story in Joshua 4 where the Lord calls His leaders to pile up some big river rocks so that “When your children ask in time to come, ‘What do those stones mean to you?’ then you shall tell them that the waters of the Jordan were cut off before the ark of the covenant of the Lord. When it passed over the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan were cut off. So these stones shall be to the people of Israel a memorial forever.”

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Faithful and True

One who searches Scripture cannot manage to escape the faithfulness of God: it’s the ink that forms the print and is present everywhere from “in the beginning” to “come, Lord Jesus.” His promises, His acts, His attitudes, His character—it’s all steeped in His faithfulness.

Our culture doesn’t value faithfulness very highly, and the “muchness” of the concept has leaked out like an old balloon. Can we take just a minute to restore its substance? (I promise it matters.) Faithfulness is the quality of being firm in adherence to promises or steadfast in affection; it’s a deep loyalty or unswerving reliability; and it implies a long-continued, consistent fidelity. Sound like something from an old dictionary? Let’s apply it to you.

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