Sin and Intimacy

20130713-001420.jpg I feel drawn to this blog today. I haven't been consistent in writing... not because I don't want to, but because the time I have right now is limited.

And I've been battling the lie that just because I'm not as dedicated as other bloggers, or as systematic or scheduled, or whatever the word is... doesn't mean that my purpose here doesn't matter. I still feel called to write and encourage others through sharing parts of my story in this space.

So thanks for stopping by to read. Even though I'm probably not on your daily reading list. ;)

I've been struggling through a few things lately. Specifically, why I allow myself to continue in habits that are not good for my heart. For example, it's not good for me to spend too much time online. It's only natural after seeing back to back snapshots of beautiful homes, beautiful people and beautiful things... to begin comparing my own life. And this ends up breeding ugly things inside of me - like jealousy and pride. And before I know it, I've found a way to despise a close friend or family member, all over a few words and a photograph. Ugh.

Do you ever struggle with that?

I like the quote, "Don't compare your behind-the-scenes with someone else's highlight reel," because it's true. And focusing too much of our attention on the edited versions of others lives is no way to live.

I know that it was only a few months ago half a year ago (where HAS the time gone?!) that I was talking about making my online life mean something, and I still sincerely mean every word of that. I'm just learning when to pour in and when to scale back. And right now, limiting the time I spend online has been the best decision for myself and my family.

And this is just one example of how I am continually re-evaluating areas of my life.

And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body go into hell. - Matthew 5:30

I've always thought Matthew 5:30 was a pretty harsh verse. I mean, I knew it wasn't literal... but still, pretty extreme right?

That is, until I lived it out.

I've had to literally cut off things in my life that cause/encourage/provoke me to sin. Cold-turkey. It's been hard and painful - but a few days later, after suffering the initial withdrawal, I could feel the presence of God so rich and tangible in my life. It was obvious that whatever I removed was hindering me from intimacy with the Lord.

Friends, if you feel distant from God it's not because He doesn't long and desire to be close to you. Oh, how He does! More likely, the distance is created by some sin that has put a wedge in between you and Him.

O God, you take no pleasure in wickedness; you cannot tolerate the sins of the wicked. - Psalm 5:4

A popular verse in James says, "Come near to God, and he will come near to you..." But many times the second part of the verse is completely left out, "Wash your hands, you sinners. Purify your hearts, you double-minded." This is a bold, yet direct command on how to have an intimate relationship with God. We MUST wash our hands from sin. (James 4:8)

One thing - the book of James is written to believers. Don't be mistaken, Jesus' arms are WIDE OPEN to the dirtiest sinner, the foulest mouth, the biggest rebel. You can't clean yourself. Initially. Because you have no reason to.

After we have been forgiven and saved by the grace of God, then we commit our lives to this daily act of being in a right relationship with our Savior. We hunger for it! We want to feel His presence and know His heart. I don't have to explain this to those of you who know Christ - you get it.

So because of this overwhelming desire for intimacy with God - every day I must examine my life. Sin creeps up in places where it once never existed. And reappears in others that I thought I'd overcome. But no sin is worth the separation, isolation, fear and worry that comes in a wedged relationship with my Savior.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside Godโ€™s throne. Think of all the hostility he endured from sinful people; then you wonโ€™t become weary and give up. After all, you have not yet given your lives in your struggle against sin. Hebrews 12:1-4

What is holding you back today from an intimate relationship with God?