Your Voice: Taking out our trash as we create space for the Father

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Your Voice: Taking out our trash as we create space for the Father

By Rhonda Rhea
The Pathway

That trash can, ya’ll. I’m sure I can do it. I’m always absolutely sure I can shove one more thing in there. It doesn’t matter that it’s already overflowing, or that I have to quick-catch some flyaway plastic wrap and wrangle an escaping tea bag resting on some soggy junk mail. I win if I can squeeze in one more thing.

I guess the big question is: How many “one more things” can I shove in? My personal kitchen trash can is ever the clown car of wastebaskets. When it comes to squeezing in that one more thing, I’m always sure I can. I can? Get it? Trash can? Never mind.

Rhonda Rhea.

For the record, I’m not saying I ever stick a foot in there to stomp that garbage down. I’m not saying it because it might make me look like I’m overstepping. And over-stomping.

At this moment, I’m trying to ignore the fact that when I overstep and over-stomp and “win” at the “one more thing” game, what I actually win is a delay. I get to delay the trip to the outside dumpster or the burn pile or whatever. Delay it for … probably like 15 minutes.

Still, I want those minutes. People are always asking about flying cars. That’s not the revolutionary invention I’m waiting for. Give me a self-emptying trash can, please and thank you.

Ruminating on this. Recycling on that. Composting the other thing. Making space for trash? Sure, that can be a need. But there’s a vastly different kind of need for making a vastly different kind of space. It’s making head space and heart space. Life space, really. No clowning around here. We all have a deep need to create quiet space to contemplate our Father.

God-seeking space

It’s in that God-seeking space we find purpose. We find the goodness of God. We find hope. “The Lord is good to those who wait for Him, to the person who seeks Him” (Lam. 3:25). David wrote, “Rest in God alone, my soul, for my hope comes from Him” (Ps. 62:5 CSB). The Amplified Bible expands on this verse: “For God alone my soul waits in silence and quietly submits to Him, for my hope is from Him.”

Our God has promised His presence, and He’s promised to work in us. “For it is God who is working in you both to will and to work according to His good purpose” (Phil. 2:13). Why would we ever want to let any ol’ garbage get in the way of that?

Getting rid of any wastes of time, trading that space for God moments, often involves making a choice.

We can choose to create space in a day — in our minds and moods and hearts and psyches — to consider what the Father is doing, and what He wants to do in and through us.

Father, teach us how to create that quiet head-and-heart-space to know You more. In that space, influence us, occupy every thought, transform us to be more like You in how we think and respond and serve and love. Let us become more aware of and in tune with Your will and Your calling. Guide our every step.

Every step. Every stomp. I don’t want to waste a minute. Or 15.

Attention, please!

Recently, while perusing the pages of the Bible, a verse of Scripture arrested my attention. Since then I have been meditating on its message. It is found in 1 Timothy 4:13. Here, Paul instructs Timothy, “Till I come, give attention to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine.” The Amplified Bible offers this expanded version: “Until I come, devote yourself to public reading [of Scripture], to preaching and to teaching [the sound doctrine of God’s Word].”

There’s no substitute for Scripture! In 1 Timothy 2:1–7, Paul explains about prayer in public worship, and he deals with the ministry of the Word in 1 Timothy 4:12–16. He explains about apostasy in the church (1 Tim. 4:1–5) and exhorts Timothy concerning authority in the church (1 Tim. 4:6–16). Francis Dixon warns, “We must recognize that we are living in the times of great apostasy of which the Apostle wrote, of which Jesus spoke in Mark 13:22 and to which we have references in 1 John 4:6 and Revelation 13:11. On every hand today we are faced with liberalism and teaching that is not true to God’s Word.”

Therefore, we see the relevance of Paul’s threefold instruction to give attention to these things.

Franklin L. Kirksey
Robertsdale, Alabama

Deliver us from evil

Evil has many faces. When it is able, it strives to inflict the greatest pain and suffering possible. Yet evil is also seditious and works in the shadows while denying it has harmful intentions.

So what should Christians do in the face of evil?

  • First, recognize that it is real, dangerous and pervasive. To deny evil exists or is widespread is to make yourself more vulnerable to it.
  • Second, ask the Holy Spirit to open your spiritual eyes to see it. Evil does not just dwell in drug dens, bordellos and gangster hideouts. It can also be found in government offices, media outlets and church conference rooms.
  • Third, seek God’s protection and deliverance. Jesus instructed us to pray daily for God’s deliverance from evil. He knew how much we needed it. Evil has destroyed countless lives through the ages. Don’t play with it or turn your back on it. Rather, seek God’s guidance and follow His leading.
  • Fourth, hate what is evil as much as God does (Amos 5:15). If you truly know how destructive it is, you cannot remain neutral or indifferent to it.
  • Fifth, recognize that evil is the enemy, people are not. People are deceived, enslaved and oppressed by evil, but they are not its source. Don’t be distracted by symptoms. Look for root causes.

Evil has gained footholds in numerous places throughout modern society. It is gaining strength and influence in the halls of power, the media and among cultural influencers.

Life will inevitably become more difficult for the church and for individual Christians in the days ahead. Spiritual warfare will intensify. We need to be ready.

Richard Blackaby

“Our vision is to bring God’s Word to everyone, everywhere, every day, and we know we can’t do it alone,” said Bobby Gruenewald, founder and CEO of YouVersion Bible apps. “More than ever before, we’re seeing the global Church unify around God’s Word, and it’s exciting to think about how many more people will grow closer to God because of the passion and commitment of our partners to work together.”

“Most people can’t pay $10,000 to move a tree,” said Dave Self, a “blue hat” for Alabama Baptist Disaster Relief, who helped lead a team in Madison, Tennessee, following a destructive tornado that hit the area Dec. 9, “but we can do it for them and help them out for free. … We’re able to come help them and minister to them. That’s what we want to do.”

“Our ultimate goal is to reach women with unplanned pregnancies. We want them to hear their baby’s heartbeat and see their baby on the screen,” said Janet Davis, executive director of First Source for Women in Hanceville, Alabama.

Sometimes we cling too tightly to the very thing God is asking us to lay before Him. Why are we afraid? Is it because He’s not good? Do we fear our best days are behind us? If that’s you, it’s time for a reset. Whenever we cling to anything but Jesus, we’re the ones who lose.

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“We learn more about the character of the God we serve when we’re in the middle of the storm than we do when we are on the mountaintop. I had been saying, ‘Lord, get me out of these storms. Stop the storms.’ However, Jesus was saying, ‘No, I’m coming into your storm,’” said award-winning Christian recording artist Natalie Grant.

“When we preserve and share the history of a church, association, state convention or entity, we’re continuing that important work of recording for the future about God and his work in our world,” said Lonette Berg, who recently retired as executive director of the Alabama Baptist Historical Commission.

“Once you understand what your role as a worship leader is, there are so many nuances that come to light that you maybe never thought about before. It’s kind of like an ‘aha!’ moment, and then you can start designing and leading worship services in a way that’s really going to be engaging. That’s what I’ve tried to address in the training I do and in this book,” said Kenny Lamm, author of  “The Worship Ministry Guidebook: Engaging Your Congregation in Transformational Worship.”

“When a crisis occurs, your congregation looks to its leaders for guidance and reassurance. It’s crucial to respond promptly and transparently. Remember, silence fosters uncertainty,” said Mark MacDonald, church communication consultant.

In order to experience satisfaction in almost any human endeavor (marriage, teaching, preaching, family life, etc.), there must be accurate understanding as far as expectations are concerned. Failure to properly process expectations may be one of the most, if not the most, critical factor in creating and maintaining meaningful interactions with others.

Morris Murray Jr.
Jasper, Alabama

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