Lorri Dudley

Be moved. Be changed. Love because you are loved.

Tag: Matthew 26:41

Good heart vs. bad heart

Battle of the Wills

Bad heart vs. good heart

Are you a willing heart?

It’s one of those questions I wanted to answer with an enthusiastic yes but had to hesitate. A small meltdown I’d had last week came to mind. My children were testing my patience, and I was tired of all this settle-in-place stuff. In full adult tantrum form, I peered up at the ceiling and informed God He needed to return everything to the way it used to be.

 A pang hit my heart, and a quiet, gentle thought passed through my mind, “What if all this brings one soul to know Jesus?”

All of the selfish anger that had my shoulders pinned to my ears melted away. Why should my being inconvenienced take precedence over God moving in a personal way? It’s times like this, when I’m convicted of my feelings or behaviors, that I realize how far I am from being a willing heart. It’s a daily battle against my flesh, seeking its own desires and left unchecked it would spread like fire, leaving not only myself in ashes but also others.

The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak. – Matthew 26:41

There’s an old Cherokee parable about a brave telling his grandson about a battle that wages within people. He describes the sides as two wolves. One is evil consisting of anger, greed, self-pity, remorse, sorrow, guilt, self-pride, ego, jealousy, and lies. The other is joy consisting of peace, hope, patience, kindness, humility, compassion, generosity, truth, and faith. The grandson asks, “Which wolf wins?” and the grandfather replies, “The one you feed.”

black wolves

 When Josiah rose to become king of Israel, the people’s hearts had become lax. They had let the temple fall into disarray and had forsaken God. They worshipped idols and other gods. The Bible reads in 2 King 22:2, “He [Josiah] did what was right in the eyes of the Lord.” He sent men to fix up the temple. As his workers went all Chip Gains on demo day, they uncovered a sacred scroll and brought it to their king. Josiah read it and tore his clothes. His eyes were opened to Israel’s deep betrayal of God. Gathering everyone, King Josiah read the scriptures and the people wept over their misdeeds.

It sounds like a sad story, but one of the many things I love about God is that He likes a happy ending. After hearing the truth, the people of Israel rededicated themselves to the Lord. Because their hearts were responsive and humbled, they not only avoided God’s wrath, God instructed them to throw a party! Once they’d destroyed the idols, they gathered together and celebrated the Passover.

God rejoices when we open our hearts for examination. We don’t need to hang our heads in shame at what we’ve done, or weep at how far we’ve fallen. God doesn’t dwell on those things. He’s washed us clean. To Him, we are white as snow. He wants us to celebrate because we’ve found the way.

We can choose the right path and climb back into his open arms. 

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Poison ivy vine growing up tree trunk

Getting Your Skin Out of the Game

If you Google how to get rid of poison ivy there are 794,000 results, and I’ve tried a good chunk of them: white vinegar, lemon juice and salt, rubbing alcohol, calamine Poison ivy vine growing up tree trunklotion, Ivarest, Tecnu, and Zanfel. You name it, I’ve tried it with little success. (Personally, Zanifil I’ve found works the best. It’s a bit pricey, but if it shortens the duration by a couple of days, it’s worth it.)

I get poison ivy or poison oak at least once a year. I’ve learned to avoid any plant with three to five leaves whether they are shiny or not—better safe than sorry. However, I have boys, and boys love to romp in the woods especially since they aren’t allergic to poison ivy. Their clothing still holds the oils and sorting the laundry, will cause their poor mother to break out into itchy blisters which spread all over. I now wear those rubber yellow dishwashing gloves that cover up to your elbows to do laundry. I may look funny, but I don’t care.

There is nothing like poison ivy to remind you of your flesh. And by flesh, I don’t mean just skin. I mean the ugly side of us. The Bible refers to it as inequities. It’s the spiteful, angry, sinful side of us that, for the most part, we keep under wraps until Kraken attacking a shipsomething causes us to snap, and the Kraken is loosed. A wise woman once told me, “Never let yourself get too hungry, too tired, or too stressed, or you’ll be more likely to sin.” I’d add “don’t get poison ivy” to the list for the constant irritation wears down a person’s defenses.

Jesus said, “The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak” (Matthew 26:41). In our hearts, we truly want to do the right thing. We may desire to read the Bible every morning, to be nice to our neighbor, and eat well because the Bible says our body is a temple for the Holy Spirit. Yet, how often do we cave, justify our actions, or do it anyway and feel guilty later?

So, how do we battle our flesh?

Follow Jesus’s example—Pray. Whenever Jesus needed to power-up, He stole away to be alone with God and pray. Prayer helps to not only align our will with God’s, but it strengthens our spirit to overcome our flesh. Sometimes a simple prayer is enough, but sometimes you need to dig in, get down on your knees, and keep at it.

Even Jesus had to go back to pray a second time in the garden in Gethsemane before He was crucified. After checking on Peter, James, and John, He went back to His prayer spot, fell with his face to the ground, and prayed, “May this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as You will.” Jesus already knew death lie before him, but He wanted His Father’s will to be done. So, He prayed again until He sweated blood so that His flesh could do what His mind already knew.

not my will, Lord, but Yours.

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