Welcome to day one of 2019! I won’t write in all caps in case some of you have a headache from too much midnight champagne. I don’t want to increase the pain of your self-inflicted wound.
Let’s celebrate having a clean slate at the start of this new year. Some people set goals, or intentions, to live better by exercising and eating better. Those who have had a really rough 2018 because of an illness, a death in the family, a job loss, or relationship troubles, they may feel hopeful with the turn of a calendar page. Perhaps they will get a reprieve from whatever bad has plagued them. To be honest, day one of the new year is not the only time for a clean slate to begin again.
Having a relationship with Jesus, the bearer of our sin, gives us a clean slate any day of the year and as many times a day that we need. We simply come to Him, with repentance in our heart for what we have done wrong. Because of the blood he shed on the cross in our place, we can celebrate having a clean slate right then and there, after our confession to Him. All of Heaven celebrates with us when our slate is clean from sin.
If tomorrow comes and you do not meet your goals or intentions to exercise or eat better, know that you can always start again. If you sin, you can confess it and begin again. You do not have to be stuck in your current situation. Jesus is a prayer away in helping you break a bad habit and He can redirect your path when you are tempted to sin.
Today is day one of 2019. Enjoy your clean slate.
Romans 6:4 We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.
The alarm on my phone goes off at 5:00AM. I avoid the annoying beep of the alarm clock of the past and have it set to play Amazing Grace (My Chains are Gone) by Christian artist, Chris Tomlin. The alarm begins with some simple notes from a piano before Chris starts singing his rendition of Amazing Grace. I set it for 5:00AM with good intentions of jumping out of bed, feeding the cats, and getting into my morning devotions and prayer time while sipping my decaf coffeee. But the truth is, I hit snooze and tell myself that nine more minutes is all I need; I do this about four times.
In essence, I am giving myself a restart with each alarm that sounds and each snooze I choose.
In essence, this scenario can be compared with God’s forgiveness and starting over.
Paul said in Romans 7:18-20 For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do–this I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.
Paul’s words sum up our lives and why we need Jesus.
1 John 1:8-9 If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.
Jesus died on the cross for each and every one of ours sins; no matter how big or how small. The restart happens as we are absolved from the sins we confess. In our humanness, there are times we enter right back into the sin we just confessed. It’s okay to confess again; it is through God’s amazing grace that we are cleansed, absolved, and we are given a “Restart”!
The alarm on my phone goes off at 5:00AM. Sadly, I will sin, but thankfully, my life gets a restart after I confess and move forward.
When I am in your Word, I feel you close to me. When I sit silently, I hear your sweet voice.
Please forgive me for taking a vacation from you this summer. Rattling off excuses will be of no use. The bottom line, I was selfish with my time. Apple got it right when they named their products iPhone and iPad as they are hand-held me-focused toys with a few business uses. I spent my time intertwined on the web commenting to friends on facebook and reading email after email in Yahoo all while my Bible sat on the end table in the front window getting a sunburn.
Please forgive me for taking you for granted. I feel like I wasted this beautiful season without you near. Recent days have not been good for me. My smile flipped into a frown. My aches turned into pains and when loneliness crept in, I realized I had not spoken with you in quite a while.
I am sincerely sorry for neglecting you. Thank you that you meet me where I am. You are the Father running to meet His prodigal child. I am going to end this blog to spend time with you.
In Jesus’s Name I Am Forever Yours,
I ♥ God
“Therefore, my friends, I want you to know that through Jesus the forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you.
I’m the one with the tongue sharp as a dagger that stabs people in the back. I’m the one who does not have time to visit the sick. I’m the one who doesn’t donate to a food bank. I’m the one who led the rally to stone the adulteress. I’m the one who kills, steals and destroys. I’m the one who hasn’t tithed because I worked hard for my paycheck. I’m the bully. I’m the one…I’m the one…I’m the one… It’s all about me!!
I’m the one that said nothing in secret; I have spoken openly to the world. I’m the one who healed the lepers, the blind and the lame. I’m the one who fed thousands of people with a few fish and a few loaves of bread. I’m the one who kept the adulteress from being stoned. I’m the one who came to give life; life to the full. I’m the one who meets all of your needs. I’m the one that was flogged, scourged, spit upon, mocked, crowned with thorns, and crucified on a cross. I’m the one…I’m the one…I’m the one…I did it for you.
When he had received the drink, Jesus said, “It is finished.” With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.
I was present at the birth of my great-niece almost eight years ago. I was standing next to the crib where she was placed within seconds of entering the world. I watched wide-eyed in amazement at how the nurse cleaned her up, cleared out her nostrils, mouth and eyes. She was so little and dependent on everyone around her. This precious child of God will need food, clothing and shelter, I thought, and I knew her needs would be met by the loving family who waited for her arrival.
Under the veil of protection, some children do not receive the proper food, clothing and shelter they deserve. Some families do not realize children are a gift from God and so the children are mistreated as objects instead of humans.
My first encounter with child abuse was by reading the book A Child Called “It”: One Child’s Courage to Survive, written by Dave Pelzer about his own experience. Dave’s mother was mentally disturbed and an alcoholic. She mentally and physically abused him with tortuous games only she thought were amusing. Child abuse is often cyclical. Once abused, that person will abuse and that person will abuse, and so the ripple effect moves on. Dave was able to overcome and broke this chain of destruction in his family.
Some children are sexually abused. Usually the abused knows the abuser. Sexually abused children are threatened to remain silent and this silence may bring about behavioral changes. The following is taken from http://www.stopitnow.org/warning_signs_child_behavior April 9, 2011.
Behavior you may see in a child or adolescent
Has nightmares or other sleep problems without an explanation
Seems distracted or distant at odd times
Has a sudden change in eating habits
Refuses to eat
Loses or drastically increases appetite
Has trouble swallowing
Sudden mood swings: rage, fear, insecurity or withdrawal
Leaves “clues” that seem likely to provoke a discussion about sexual issues
Writes, draws, plays or dreams of sexual or frightening images
Develops new or unusual fear of certain people or places
Refuses to talk about a secret shared with an adult or older child
Talks about a new older friend
Suddenly has money, toys or other gifts without reason
Thinks of self or body as repulsive, dirty or bad
Exhibits adult-like sexual behaviors, language and knowledge
Signs more typical of younger children
An older child behaving like a younger child (such as bed-wetting or thumb sucking)
Has new words for private body parts
Resists removing clothes when appropriate times (bath, bed, toileting, diapering)
Asks other children to behave sexually or play sexual games
Mimics adult-like sexual behaviors with toys or stuffed animal
Wetting and soiling accidents unrelated to toilet training
Signs more typical in adolescents
Self-injury (cutting, burning)
Inadequate personal hygiene
Drug and alcohol abuse
Running away from home
Fear of intimacy or closeness
Compulsive eating or dieting
You cannot pick a child abuser out of a crowd, but you can pick up on the warning signs listed above. Reach out to a child or adolescent, they need you to be their silent voice.
I witnessed my beautiful great-niece coming into the world and I know she is a gift from God. I would do everything in my power to protect her and her siblings.
2 Thessalonians 3:2-3 (New International Version, ©2011)
And pray that we may be delivered from wicked and evil people, for not everyone has faith. But the Lord is faithful, and he will strengthen you and protect you from the evil one.