Cleaning and Sanctification


I cleaned my pantry out the other day.  I have been wanting to do this for months now.  When we moved into this house, I had the first pantry that I had ever had.  I did not know how I wanted to organize it nor when I put things in it did I want to think about getting rid of anything.  I just wanted to put things away and figured I would deal with it “later.”  I finally got to organizing and cleaning it the other day and it feels so good now to go in there and smell how fresh it smells and see how neat it is.  I had two shelves for the things I have canned such as jam or applesauce, but had no shelf for the empty jars. I have a shelf for empty jars now.  They used to be stashed into whatever empty spot there was. Another organizational mess.

This morning in Sunday school, we learned about the feast of Passover.  Our teacher spent time in Israel studying and was able to see the customs before him.  He told us about one family who would hide pieces of leavened bread around the house; the children then went around to find these pieces of bread.  They would then take this bread to the temple and burn it. Leaven is a picture of sin in our lives.  The point being made is how much we need to search out the sin in our lives, so that we can be clean before God.

The better we understand the depth of our sin; the greater we understand the depth of God’s grace.

The better we understand the depth of our sin; the greater our sanctification.

The disorganization, the clutter, and the dirt in my pantry bugged me for a long period of time.  It wasn’t until a few days ago when I decided that no matter how long it would take or how much effort I would have to put in, the task needed to be completed.

Sin is the same in our lives.  It may bother us, but we just keep dealing with it and looking for ways to co-exist with it.  Even close the proverbial door on it so no on sees what is really going on inside.  Hiding the sin does not make it go away.  Closing the door to my pantry did not make the mess go away.

In order to really do business in our lives with sin, we must intentionally seek it out.  Just as the children searched out the leavened bread before Passover, so we must search out the sin in our own lives.  We must listen when someone points out sin in our lives.  When we fail to listen and heed or fail to be sensitive to the prompting of the Holy Spirit, we are proud and stubborn and harboring more sin.

If you came to my house you would think it looks pretty clean.  I vacuum the floors and clean the bathrooms and make sure my kitchen is spotless.   What if you had looked in my pantry, would you have thought the same thing?

“Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself…” (Daniel 1:8).

It started in Daniel’s heart.  He wanted to be sure to remain clean before God no matter the circumstances.  Each instance we encounter Daniel in the Bible, his sanctification is growing.

The better we understand the depth of our sin; the greater we see our sanctification growing.


What must be lost to gain

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The 2018 winter Olympics are upon us.  I enjoy watching all of the competitions, so the next few weeks will be filled with watching athletes compete for a few short minutes for which they have trained for years, many since they were barely able to walk.  Is it worth all the sacrifice?  There is a lot at stake.  They have to spend hours practicing and becoming physically fit.  They have to watch what they eat, make sure they get enough sleep, find the right coach that they get along with and will also challenge them to their peak performance.  These athletes in every moment of their days are striving for physical perfection.

Two of our daughters have taken up figure skating, and doesn’t every young girl who watches figure skating in the Olympics dream that one day she could make it?  Once we got into the sport, we realized that the financial commitment was more than we could make.  The time commitment forces the athlete to give up just about everything else in life.  Yet, many willingly give it all up with the dream of being the best.  They willingly sacrifice sleep and leisure for early morning practices and coaching sessions.  Family life is centered on going to the gym, or the rink, or the hill.  It is not just the athlete that sacrifices; it is the entire family.

Is it worth it?  To some it is, and we watch their stories unfold before us and their Olympic dreams become a reality.  To others we see their dreams crash around them in a flood of tears and waves of disappointment of being so close and yet so far away from the podium and the medal.

We all have the same amount of time.  How is it we choose to spend it?  We all have talents.  How is it we choose to exercise those talents?  How many times have we said or heard someone else say, “I could never do that, I’m not that talented”?  Maybe you do not have the talent of figure skating, but you do have the talent of hard work, encouragement, or helping others.  There are no gold medals for encouragement on this earth, but in heaven someday God will tell you, “Well done good and faithful servant.” (Matthew 25:23).

Delaney and I are studying I Corinthians, and this week we were in chapter 9.  I have been pondering I Corinthians 9:27 “But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.”  This chapter has metaphors related to athletes in a competition.  At the original Olympic Games, a herald would call the athletes by name to line up and then read the rules so everyone could hear.  Paul in I Corinthians is using this metaphor in this verse.  As a Christian we need to maintain self-control over our bodies.  We need to execute discipline in our spiritual walk with the Lord.  If we do not, we end up being like the herald who after reading the rules, entered the competition only to be disqualified because he did not follow the rules.

The Christian life is not about the external rules that we must follow that get us to receive the ultimate prize-eternal life with God our Creator and Jesus our Savior and the Holy Spirit our Comforter. The Christian life is about living and loving from a right relationship with our God.  This enables us to be self-controlled and disciplined.

The Olympic athletes did not become great overnight, rather they executed much self-control and discipline.  When I meet Jesus someday, I do not want to look back over my life and regret.  Rather, I want to see that the self-control and the discipline allowed me to lay at the feet of my Savior the prize that only seems valuable because I could give it back to Jesus.

Money or Winning


There are a few things that we would consider a “universal language.”  Money, a smile, a shaking finger, a handshake, a gift, a raised or angry voice, or a gentle voice.  Any of these are understood by the receiver whether the giver is known or not.  Most of these have no hidden meaning, but two do.  Money or a gift could have a positive or a negative connotation.  They could be used as a bribe or as a gesture of love and kindness.

One of the shows that our family enjoys watching is “Survivor.”  It has been running for the last 18 years.  It has become quite a phenomenon and quite an accomplishment to be picked to be on the show.  They asked the contestants that will be playing in the next season a “Would you rather” question.  Would you rather win Survivor without winning the million dollars or be the first one voted out and win a million dollars?  So the question here is what is more important, the money or the title of “Sole Survivor.”  I asked my family this question and they were split.

So money or title/fame?  Maybe it is money vs. the experience. Being voted first off, one would miss the experience.

Money speaks a universal language.  We all need money to live.  Some of us think we need more money to live than others, but it is a need.

Some think that money will buy them whatever they need.

  • Happiness
  • Love
  • Friendships
  • Security
  • Salvation/Eternal life

We work so hard for this needed commodity and yet it has also become a symbol of value and importance.

Peter and John were preaching the gospel and people were accepting Christ as their Savior and receiving the Holy Spirit.  In Acts 8, Simon offered Peter and John money so he could receive the Holy Spirit.  Peter said to him, “May your silver perish with you, because you thought you could obtain the gift of God with money.” (Acts 8:20).  Simon thought money could buy for him what he wanted, but Peter told him, “repent of this wickedness of yours and pray to the Lord…” (Acts 8:22).

Money does not buy happiness, love, friendship, security, or salvation.  Simon thought that his money would get him the power of the Holy Spirit.  What Simon really needed to do was to humble himself.

Have you met a truly humble person?  They do not have to yell to get our attention, rather their humble spirit commands attention.  A humble person is easy to be around because they are more interested in another’s life than making sure everyone else knows about theirs.  They are good listeners.  They are encouragers. They are noticers.

“Humble yourselves before the Lord, and He will exalt you.” (James 4:10).

Consider what it takes to be humble.  In being humble, our happiness is not dependent on things, others, or money.

As I have watched Survivor for the last 18 years, I have noticed that the person that usually wins the money is not the loud or the obnoxious leader.  The path in life to the things that really matter is not the fame and fortune, it is the path of humility.

The “universal language” of a smile, a gentle touch, a gentle tone, and a servant’s heart are the things that speak volumes to others.  Wouldn’t we rather keep company with this type of person and see them win Survivor?  Then we must strive to also be gentle, with a servant’s heart, and a smile on our face.

Money can’t buy happiness, but a humble spirit goes a long way to showing others the love of Christ.

Stop! Ask! Perceive! Notice!





Do you have a favorite Bible story related to different events?  If we want to read a good hero story, we read the story of David and Goliath.  If we want a story that reminds us how important and valuable living life on purpose is, we read about Daniel.  There are many stories while Jesus was on earth that provide inspiration to various areas of our lives.  The one I want to look at today is the woman with the issue of blood in Luke 8:40-48.

This woman had a bleeding problem for the last twelve years.  We do not know anything about what this bleeding issue was, but we can only imagine the inconvenience of it.  The conveniences of today like a washing machine were not available.  Jesus happened to be on His way to heal a twelve year old who was on the brink of death, when this woman touches Jesus.  With this touch, the woman was healed.

Jesus stops.  He asks, “Who touched Me?”  As He was walking toward the young twelve year old’s house, there were many people pressing against Him. Wherever Jesus went there were crowds following Him. By this time in His ministry, everyone wanted something from Him.

Jesus knew the pressing nature of the task before Him.  Jarius’s twelve year old daughter was dying.  The request was urgent.  The need was urgent.

Jesus stopped.

He did not need to stop.  The woman touched His robe and was healed.  That is all she wanted.  She wanted to be healed.  She did not even feel valuable enough to approach Jesus with her request for healing.  In the midst of the crowd, she had the faith it took to be healed, but not the pride to approach Jesus with her request.

Jesus asked a question. “Who touched Me?”

When the woman was healed, Jesus perceived that power had left Him.

Jesus perceived.

The woman came forward and fell down before Jesus trembling. She did not assume herself worthy of face-to-face interaction with Jesus, rather she showed her humility by bowing before Him.

Jesus noticed her faith. “Your faith has healed you.”

After this short interaction, the pressing matter of Jairus’s daughter returned and Jesus moved on.

What principles can we draw from this story and apply to our lives?


  1. Stop
  2. Ask a question
  3. Be perceptive
  4. Notice the positives in another


I feel like I am always in a rush to complete whatever task is before me.  This story reminds me that it is not always about the destination, but rather about the journey.  In order to help others, it is important to stop the activity and notice the person.

“The purpose in a man’s heart is like deep water, but a man of understanding will draw it out.” (Proverbs 20:5).  A person of understanding knows what good questions to ask.  Most of us do not like to be told what to do.  A man of understanding will not tell us what to do, but will ask good questions in order to help us figure out what to do.

In order to ask good questions, we must be perceptive.  Perception takes spending time studying others and seeking to understand them.  As we spend time actively listening to others, we will be able to perceive the needs they have.  As we perceive these needs, we can then help them with what they need.  They may need a friend to listen.  They may need a word of encouragement.

Lastly, notice the positives in others.  Most people appreciate when we notice their positives.  We live in a society that is consumed with itself and so unsure of itself.  The woman that is forever known as the woman with the issue of blood had faith.  This is the quality Jesus noticed about her.  People want to be noticed, so notice them.  Notice the positives in them and point them out.  The superficial is nice, but what they really need noticed is the positives in their character.

Relationships take time.  Being like Jesus takes time.  In order to be like Jesus, we must spend time with Jesus.

Stop! Ask! Perceive! Notice!




Friendships…I feel like I am no expert on them, but certainly have come to see the value in them since we have moved.  I needed a friend and familiar surroundings boost, so I drove to Rochester and met some friends for coffee/tea, lunch, and supper.  How good it was to catch up on their lives and see their faces and feel their warm embraces.  I am looking forward to going back again so I can catch up with so many others I wanted to see.

As I am finding it takes time to make new friends.  Everyone has plans and lives and other friendships and families and…

I have a group of college friends who are trying to schedule a week-end together and it seems challenging to schedule with family vacations and other commitments.  I do so value these friends and would love to get together and see how God has worked in our lives over the last 20+ years.  I trust God will work this one out for me as He sees fit.

Do we value friendships or just acquaintances?  Do we value those friends who dig into our lives and try to help us be better people? “As iron sharpens iron so a friend sharpens the countenance of his friends.” (Proverbs 27:17).  Do I diligently work at challenging others to be the best they can be? Am I careful who I spend my time with so that my friendships are with people who challenge me to be the best God has for me?

True friendships take time and energy.  We must be careful not to spread ourselves too thin.  Our jobs take time.  Our families take time.  Our spouses take time.  We need to spend time with God.  Do we prioritize correctly or are we off balance?  There will be times that we spend too much time on one, but as long as we are aware of this and don’t let living off balance be our norm, it is acceptable.  Do you know people who say, “Once I get ‘this’ done, everything will be better.”  What happens?  That one think turns into something else. I have found in my life there is always “one more thing.”  Our friends could be the kind who take lots of time and energy and keep us off balance all the time.  This is not a healthy friendship and should be handled with care and attention to how much time is spent.

Solomon reminds us how valuable friendship is.  “Two are better than one…for if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up.  Again, if two lie together, they keep warm…and though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him, a threefold cord is not quickly broken.” (Ecclesiastes 4:9-12).  A true friend is so valuable and helpful.  They provide encouragement when we are down.  They share in our joys.  They comfort us in our sorrows.  In this day of technology, we must remember that it should be a help to our friendships.  Too often we see people with others, but on their phones with someone else.  Be all present.  When we are distracted, we cannot see the hurt someone has or the joy they have.  It is hard to notice the little things when we are paying more attention to the screen if front of us than the real person in our presence.

Friendship has value.  People need each other.  The older I get the more I value friendships and am willing to drive across the state of Michigan in order to catch up with friends.  Don’t get so busy.  Be intentional in how you spend your time.  “Two are better than one…”




Respect, honor, esteem, reverence, consideration…in other words to hold in high regard.  This week my daughter emailed one of her professors and addressed her by her first name.  The professor wrote back and answered her question but also told her that she should be addressed as Professor…(last name).  This daughter showed me the email and I reminded her that this professor is in a position of authority and should be addressed with respect.

This topic of how we address people is something that has bothered me for quite some time. When I was growing up, every adult was addressed as Mr. or Mrs.  If they had earned a title, they were addressed with the title before their name.  Our Pastor was always Pastor.

As we were raising our daughters they were taught to address those in authority with the proper title.  Somewhere along the lines it changed.  More commonly now, adults introduce themselves to children by their first name.  From my perspective, we are in positions of authority and not their friends.

Another area in our present day culture that has a seeming level of disparity is the football players in the NFL who have decided that they will kneel during the National Anthem to show their stand against racial oppression and inequality in the United States.

So these players want more respect and yet their actions show a high level of disrespect for our flag, our country, and those who have fought for our freedom.  How does one gain respect by showing disrespect?

How did we get to such a place in our country?  There are those who are in positions of authority that do not deserve respect, yet we are to “be subject to the governing authorities.  For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God.” (Romans 13:1).  God has instituted levels of authority “as His servant for our good” (Romans 13:4).

The next verse leaves no questions as to what we are supposed to do. “Honor everyone.  Love the brotherhood.  Fear God.  Honor the emperor.” (I Peter 2:17).

There has been much mistreatment of many different human beings in our world and there continues to be mistreatment of people today that do not deserve this mistreatment.  We live in a “me first” world so if someone feels disrespected, rather than return respect they will return more disrespect.  It is a vicious circle that needs to stop.

I wonder if a good place to start would be with our children.  Teaching them that an adult deserves respect and should be addressed with respect.  Teaching our children that no matter who the other person is they were made in God’s image and deserve to be honored and loved.  Jesus challenged His disciples and us with a difficult task, “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” (Matthew 5:44).  We are not to show disrespect when disrespected, rather we are to show love.

Rather than showing our country disrespect by kneeling during the National Anthem, what if these football players all across America went to the lowliest of people and showed them respect.  Helped them with their needs.  Worked alongside rebuilding their homes, their communities, and their spirits.  What if they taught boys that being a gentleman is nobler than being a part of a gang?  Finishing school and getting a job to support ones family is nobler than anything illegal.  I wonder what level of respect the rest of the American people would gain for these football players?

What if we as adults introduced ourselves as Mr./Mrs./Professor/Dr./Miss and expected that since we are in positions of authority we should act as role models for those children that are addressing us with respect.

What if our attitude changed from “me” to noticing the needs of others?  What if we tried to be positive role models by behaving in a positive and respectful way?

What if…

Listen and Love Well

To do

The end of the year and the beginning of the New Year always brings a certain amount of contemplation on the part of most people.  It may not last for long or amount to any major changes in an individual’s life, but a new year does cause most to stop and consider, “How could this year be better?”  What could I do to be a better person, impact others, make more money, lose weight, or get in shape?  What would it take to have a better relationship with my spouse, children, parents, friends, boss, etc.?  Or some may even go as far as to ponder, “What do I need to do to have a better relationship with God?”

I have seen some really catchy ways for people to write out their goals for the new year.  I must say I like lists, and I do feel as though I accomplish more if I have a list of things that need to get done, especially if they are things that I do not particularly want to do.  There is the avenue of writing out the big goals and then making smaller monthly, weekly, or daily goals to accomplish the big goal.  This is a proven method that works very well.

As I consider my new year, I have not listed out a bunch of goals for the year.  I honestly haven’t decided if I am going to or not.  I could write down all the things that everyone else does, but then I wouldn’t have enough time to get them all done.  I could dream big and make action steps to fulfill those big dreams by accomplishing the little ones along the way.  I suppose, in a way, I am writing this to sort out my thoughts that are whirring around in my head, but haven’t settled out onto anything concrete much less a list or a set of action steps that must be accomplished in order to achieve the big goals.

The big things that happened in most people’s lives didn’t happen because they sat around and thought about it, it happened because they made a plan to do it and then they did it.  So the reality of this is if I don’t get off the couch, so to speak, life isn’t going to be different.

So here’s my thoughts.  What if I listened to the prompting of the Holy Spirit more?  I spend time daily in God’s Word and in prayer.  Do I sense the Holy Spirit nudging me or pricking my conscience?  Then those seem like actions steps I should follow.

I have been thinking a lot about the tongue.  Easy to understand why since I have read Proverbs every day for the past 1.5 years.  Proverbs 31:26 says that the “…teaching of kindness is on her tongue.”  I cannot very well teach something if I do not know anything about that topic.  I want to be such a student of God’s kindness to me that God’s kindness readily flows from my tongue.

People.  God created us so we must be important.  Am I daily seeking ways to minister to people?  Am I a student of others and their needs?

It’s not a fancy list, but it certainly helped me process a few things.  In the end, according to I Corinthians 13 if I do all that I do and I do it without love, it profits me nothing.  It’s just noise with no melody.  It’s actions with no purpose.  It’s busyness with no activity.  The Holy Spirit and God’s Word can be powerful tools with our tongues and our relationships, the question is – Will we allow that to be the case?  A list without love, is simply some scribbles on a piece of scrap paper. My challenge is this:  Listen and love well.