What Do I Do When my Attitude Stinks?

Yesterday morning,I went on a brisk walk. I needed a slight attitude adjustment and I thought some fresh air, sunshine, and exercise would help me out. Interestingly, but not conveniently, while I was in my forward progression down the street, so was a neighborhood garbage truck. It was rather uncanny; my pace and the truck’s duties seemed to line up perfectly. The large truck would stop to collect garbage while I moved ahead; but then, it would invariably catch up with me, and we’d be side by side again. This systematic timing went on and on. I turned right, and to my disgruntlement, so did the garbage truck. I couldn’t seem to escape its route or the awful smell that went along with it.

 

While breathing in the not-so-fresh-air, my mind made a connection: What if our thoughts and emotions had smells attached to them? What if the age-old phrase, your attitude stinks, were actually true in the heavenly realm? What odor would worry put off? Or bitterness? Or unforgiveness? 2 Timothy 2:16-17 refers to empty chatter spreading like gangrene—now that’s stinky for sure!

 

How do we rid ourselves of the “stink?” Soon after my walk, the Lord directed me to these verses: O Lord, I call upon you; hasten to me! Give ear to my voice when I call to you! May my prayer be counted as incense before you; the lifting up of my hands as the evening offering (Psalm 141:1-2). Can it be that our prayers “smell good” to God?

 

I looked further into “incense offerings” and found Exodus 30:7-8: And Aaron shall burn fragrant incense on (the altar). Every morning when he dresses the lamps he shall burn it, and when Aaron sets up the lamps at twilight, he shall burn it, a regular incense offering before the Lord throughout your generations. My bible’s commentary explained that the incense represented the prayers and praises of God’s people. Also, the incense helped extinguish the smell of the dead animals that had just been sacrificed. With the explanation of this ancient practice, here is my present-day thought: maybe when we lay down our worry, pride, bitterness, or you-name-it-stinky-sin, and change them into prayers instead, then these new words become the fragrance that rises to heaven.

 

Today, let’s rid ourselves of the garbage-truck-odors, and then replace them with a lovely aroma of prayer instead. For me:

I will lay down worrying about my children, and instead, pray for each one of them by name.

I will lay down resentment towards my coworker, and instead, ask God to bless him.

I will lay down negativity, and instead, lift up praises to the One who gives me breath.

 

It’s humbling to think that our words can be counted as incense before the Lord. Let’s trust that he not only enjoys the sound of our voices, but that he also delights in the sweet fragrance of our uplifted prayers.

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Tuesday, September 12, 2023
By Chris Baxter

Overthinking is Under-trusting

Overthinking is under-trusting. This phrase came to me in the wee hours of the morning as I was tossing and turning over something HUGE in my life. Ironically, I now don’t even remember the reason for my fretting. At the time, however, I was all twisted up, both in my bedcovers and in my mind as I took turns playing the ShouldI/ Shouldn’t I and What if games. I’m not only the queen of second-guessing,I’m the queen of 222nd-guessing.

 

When I toss and turn, I’m like that double-minded individual that’s mentioned in Scripture who asks for wisdom but doubts when receiving it. “For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways” (James1:7-8).

 

What is the remedy to these unnecessary wrestling matches within my mind? Here are three thoughts that helped me remember where to turn:

 

1.    Choose to trust God’s promises.

It’s one thing to know God’s promises, but it’s another thing to believe them. In times of confusion, will I cling to God’s truth or will I hold onto my fabrications? Questions such as these: What if I’m making a mistake in this decision, or, Did I really hear from God, can be replaced with promises such as this: “I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my eye upon you”(Psalm 32:8). In this verse alone, God is promising to instruct me…to teach me… to counsel me. So instead of twirling with anxiety, I can repeatedly thank him for these promises and then walk confidently by faith in his leading.

 

2.    Choose to trust God’sSpirit.

I confess: I tend to overthink his Spirit. Sadly, this fleshly pause can sometimes lead to complete withdrawal. When God’s whisper enters my heart, nudging me to do his will, my choice is to either press forward in faith or shrink back in fear. Even if I happen to be “mis-hearing”him, can I not trust my Good Shepherd enough to lead me back onto his right path? Certainly, I can! He is that good. I must remember, God looks at my faith-filled heart, rather than my flawless steps.

 

3.    Choose to trust wise friends and mentors.

These carefully selected people can help confirm God’s truth in my life. Sharing my thoughts with those who will listen, encourage, advise, and pray is a built-in blessing from God. He knows we need each other!

 

With these things in place, no moreover-thinking! No more tossing and turning with needless mind-games! Instead, fully trust! Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose trust is the Lord. (Jeremiah 17:7). It’s time for me to follow God’s lead without hesitation.

Will you join me? We’ve got kingdom work to do—no doubt about it.

 

Dear Heavenly Father,

Thank you for your living word and your abiding Spirit. Thank you for wise friends and mentors that you have placed in my life. In times of over-thinking, help me to recall your truths and trust your voice. Keep my heart in line with yours and make my footsteps firm. I want to move forward in faith every single day, confidently living for you.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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Wednesday, June 7, 2023
By Chris Baxter

Consider the Butterfly

I love how God uses all of his creation to speak both practical and spiritual lessons into our lives.

For example in Proverbs (ch. 30), he tells us to observe the ants, the badgers, the locusts, the lizards, the lion, the strutting cock, and the male goat.

Amazingly, all have something to teach us.


The butterfly is no exception.

First of all, we must consider that this living spectacle starts its life as a little green caterpillar. The unassuming creature then wraps itself tightly in a silk cocoon. In this quiet place, something marvelous takes place:

the eyes grow larger, and the intricate wings and antennae begin to blossom into maturity.

And then, at just the right time, the new creation breaks free.

The dash of color lifts and lands, lifts and lands, bringing its color to the world.

The lesson for us is simple and obvious:

Have you ever felt "cocooned" at times in your life?

Insignificant. Void of color. No evidence of movement. Wondering about your purpose and questioning God's plan.

Then consider the butterfly.  

Allow your Creator to come and wrap his love around you;

sit with him; rest with him, alone, and acknowledge the strong and trustworthy hold he has on you.

Ask him to change your impatient heart into a peaceful one, and allow him to work His purpose into your "wings".

Be submissive to his divine work in you.

Believe that what he has started, he will also complete.

And when its time...trust that he will open a passageway and ask you to fly in freedom,

bringing his dashes of color to this dark world.

Therefore, if any man is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.  II Corinthians 5:17

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Wednesday, April 12, 2023
By Chris Baxter

A Work in Progress

Do you sometimes feel hopeless when it comes to getting your "act together" as a Christian?

You think you've failed the Lord miserably, or destroyed your witness thoroughly, or messed up his plans completely.

Well, you're in good company.

Let me remind you of Jesus' disciple, Peter.

He was a young fisherman by trade, and had a "pistol" of a personality.

Peter was the one that spoke BEFORE he thought.

He also was the one who jumped out of the boat to walk on water.

And...he reactively chopped off a Roman soldier's ear.

And then, on one of his worst days, he denied his best Friend three times.

Words to describe him would be spontaneous, impulsive, and immature.

It's safe to say that he didn't have his "act together."


But the good news is this: Jesus chose Peter, as is. While on the earth, Jesus walked with Peter, talked with Peter, corrected Peter, encouraged Peter, and affirmed Peter. What gives me great hope is that the God-man was able to see this young follower not only "as is", but also what he was going to be.

Peter was a work-in-progress.


And goodness, how he did progress! We can find the rest of Peter's faith-walk in the book of Acts, where the Holy Spirit entered in and transformed him. Amazingly, the same man that shouted, "I don't know Him!" and ran for his life the night Jesus was betrayed, later became the man that took his stand (Acts 2:14) and proclaimed Him as the resurrected Lord and Savior. As a result, about three thousand were added to their number that day (Acts 2:41). And that was just the beginning of his ministry! We can observe how he matured into a great leader through reading his God-inspired letters, 1 and 2 Peter.

Peter's growth that spanned over decades of his life should encourage us!

Jesus CHOSE him when he was not much older than an out-of-control teenager. But through the grace of our Savior, and the power of His Spirit, God did great things in and through him.

And He will do the same with any willing heart.

Don't give up. Allow God's word to mature you and his Spirit to mold you, daily, weekly, monthly, yearly.

Take hope in the fact that you are His beautiful work-in-progress.



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Wednesday, March 8, 2023
By Chris Baxter

The Good Part--It's a Choice

I'm in the midst of leading a group of ladies through my ABC devotional in which every letter of the alphabet has a Biblical phrase to live by (https://www.respitefortheweary.com/category/awesome-bible-concepts-abc). Today we came to the Letter "L" and I thought I would share it with all of you. It's a familiar story, but as we enter a New Year, let's hear it again for the purpose of choosing "the good part" from the "get go"...

Loving Lord of my Life? Synopsis of Luke 10:38-42.

In the home of Mary, Martha, and Lazarus, Jesus was speaking to a room full of people who were hungry to hear truth. His words were full of life and peace, so the crowd sat a His feet, feasting on every word. Meanwhile, Martha was scurrying back and forth in the kitchen preparing food for the people. When she looked up and saw Mary sitting at Jesus' feet, she became indignant. She asked Jesus, "Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to do all the serving alone? Then tell her to help me." Jesus, who loved Martha dearly, said in response, "Martha, Martha, you are worried and bothered by so many things; but only a few things are necessary, really only one…". At this particular time, Martha was allowing the distractions of the world to keep Jesus from being the Lord of her life.

Loving Lord of my Life! Synopsis of Luke 10:38-42 (same passage).

Jesus continued His conversation with Martha and pointed to her sister saying, "For Mary has chosen the good part, which shall not be taken away from her." Mary often sat at the feet of Jesus in order to hear His soothing words; they had become life and peace to her soul. She intentionally chose to make room in her life to be still before Him so she could receive His words of grace and guidance; for Jesus, friend of sinners, had become the Lord of her life.

In comparing these two sisters, both friends of Jesus, here are a few questions:

Who do I most resemble, Martha or Mary?

What are my main distractions in my life today?

Do I want to sit still with the Lord Jesus, with His living word?

Ugh, the Martha/Mary story. Oh so convicting at times! Interestingly, my post writing was delayed because I have been scurrying back and forth a lot lately. Whew, I'm tired. Then I hear the words, "(Chris, Chris) you are worried and bothered by so many things…". How quickly I can get off track.Thankfully, Jesus waits for me to be still, both body and soul. I must remember that my morning quiet time with Him is the most productive thing I do all day. There, I make Him the Lord of my life all over again-- listening to His words of healing and hope, obeying Him when He tells me to pick things up or put things down, trusting Him with my Edited agenda. When I am filled up in this way, my heart and mind are different; the scurrying and worrying are changed to peace and prayer, and the things I do become an act of worship rather than a list of frustrations. The day, all day, belongs to my Lord.

Make a intentional decision to be still; choose the one necessary thing…the good part…it will not be taken away from you. Slow down to a complete stop, then really listen at Jesus' feet, so you can be refreshed in truth and rerouted in love. He is waiting especially for you.

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Saturday, January 14, 2023
By Chris Baxter

Four Life Changing Words

These 4 words can save a life.

I attended a fund raiser with my husband Mac the other night in which Pursue Ministries had a guest speaker. This godly man, Mario Zandstra, spoke to us about how to share the gospel using 4 words:

Sin

Guess what? Sin marks ALL of us, from mass murderer to unkind thinker.

Separation

When we realize that our one “small speck” of an unkind thought or stir-the-pot gossip can separate us from holiness, we’re finally understanding our accurate position before God. No human-good-work is good enough to cover our “big or tiny” sin-mark!

Substitute

BUT GOD…in his rich mercy and with his great love sent his Son, Jesus, to forgive your sin and mine! He chose to be the one and only perfect sacrifice for an imperfect people. Our faith in him is our “ticket” to HIS righteousness.

Salvation

Not only did Jesus die on the cross but he also rose from the dead, which means he was victorious over both sin and death. If you believe this truth, not only do you have the opportunity to have his Spirit living inside of you today to help you navigate your life in this still-messy-world, but you also have a perfect inheritance waiting for you in heaven. Jesus is the gift that keeps on giving, forever!

These four words: SIN, SEPARATION, SUBSTITUTE, SALVATION are for you, for me, and for anyone that God lays on your heart. The news is too good (and too critical) to keep to ourselves, so think about who it is that you can share it with. Lay fear down, pick courage up.

Just think, God may use you as the messenger to save this person’s life.

ps A challenge for you...find the four words/points in this passage...then celebrate its truth!

At one time we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures. We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another. But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life. Titus 3: 3-7

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Thursday, October 27, 2022
By Chris Baxter

Daily Prayer

Sent out

While they were worshipping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, "Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them." Then after fasting and praying they laid their hands on them and sent them off.  Acts 13:2-3

Dear Lord,

You have an appointed task for each one of us. Help us to encourage one another and pray for each other as we individually answer your call. Send us where you want us and be glorified as we use our unique gifts. Invade us with your Spirit and involve us with your ways. Amen.