Relax, Reflect, Recharge

That Little Sneaky Path to a Bad Place

Thank you Sharon Jaynes for today’s message:

 He leads me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake ~ Psalm 23:3, NKJV

One Sunday my pastor had to do some housekeepin’ fussin’ at our congregation before he started his sermon. It was a “visitors, close your ears” moment as Jimmy interrupted the service for an important message from our neighbors.

See, right beside our church property is a city park. On Sundays, when our parking lot is full, we tend to use the city park lot for our overflow parking. The only problem is that the folks going to the city park don’t like the fact that those daggum CHURCH people are taking their parking spaces.

It is not nice of us. Really. I’m sorry. I’ve done it, too.

And while our sweet pastor calmly asked the congregation, once again, to STOP PARKING IN THE CITY PARK PARKING LOT (he didn’t yell, but I bet he wanted to), folks still do it. As soon as Jimmy finished his announcement and began his sermon, God had a sermon just for me. He wasn’t finished with me and the forbidden parking lot issue. That’s what happens when you make a path or keep a path open, He seemed to say, “You’re going to walk down it eventually.”

See, while we have been warned, scolded, and pleaded with not to park next door, there is this nice little path through the bushes from the city park’s parking lot to our church’s parking lot. The bushes are trimmed on both sides, cobblestones are succinctly placed, and a nice little bit of concrete forms a gently curving sidewalk. Someone keeps the bushes clipped and the grass maintained. The breezeway almost beckons us (me) to break the rules.

Now let’s go down a different path. Let’s call the path sin. Let’s say that you have decided that once and for all you are not going to park yourself in the parking lot of a particular sin.

  • You’re not going to stop by Dunkin’ Donuts and eat a dozen chocolate-covereds in one sitting. You’re not even driving by.
  • You are not going to sleep with that boyfriend… ever again!
  • You’re not going to date that guy you know is bad for you… ever again.
  • You’re not going to look at that particular website.
  • You’re not going to flirt with the married guy in the next cubicle.
  • You’re not going to gossip about other people.
  • You are not going to drink because you know you have an alcohol problem.
  • You are not going to indulge in online shopping because you’re in debt.
  • You’re not going to _______________.

There are hundreds of vices you could put in that sentence. But then there’s a nicely groomed little path that you’ve kept open…just in case. You wouldn’t call it “just in case.” You wouldn’t say it out loud.

  • The guy’s name is still in your contacts list on your smartphone.
  • You still think about what that guy in the next cubicle would like when you get dressed for work in the morning.
  • You still pull up that website when you think God isn’t looking.
  • You still pull up a chair when someone begins to gossip.
  • You still take the route home from work that goes right by the Dunkin’ Donuts store.
  • You keep a bottle in the cabinet…just for company.
  • The paths beckon you. And as long as you keep the breezeways open, you’ll probably breeze right through them… eventually.

The answer? Remove the path. Put up a gateless fence.

  • Remove the contact.
  • Change your job.
  • Get rid of your computer.
  • Get an accountability partner.
  • Take a different route home from work.
  • Remove the bottle.
  • Unsubscribe.
  • Make the path to temptation impassable, implausible, and impossible to take, and put up a gateless fence instead.

Jesus said, “If your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out” (Matthew 5:29 NKJV). That is pretty dramatic. I’m not telling you to pluck out your eye, and I’m not sure that’s what Jesus was saying either. But He was telling us to remove the cause of the temptation.

Remove the path. Put up a fence.

So here’s my question: Do you need to put up a fence where you now have a path?

Have a blessed day!

Hope Wissel, Relax, Reflect, Recharge

A Plan

“If you do well, will not your countenance be lifted up? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door; and its desire is for you, but you must master it.” Genesis 4:7 (NASB)

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OUCH!  That is the response I had when I read this verse this morning.  I needed a wake up call.  I feel like I say that a lot but Satan always seems to be sitting outside my door waiting for just a crack to open so he can get in.

I have struggled on my weight maintenance journey.  Tracking has been none existent.  Activity is getting better but still not moving as much as I would like.

Temptations always seem to be there.  Things that never really mattered seem to be calling my name.  The tootsie rolls and caramels that sit on the counter at my part-time job.  The homemade muffins from the little deli on the way to work.  The mindless eating while sitting at home at night. All things that allow sin to enter into my life causing havoc not only in my maintenance journey but also seeping into other areas of my life.

The best way to master temptation is to have a plan to avoid it!  Really?  Like that is a no-brainer.  My problem is my plan has included the temptations.  Some where in my head things got jumbled.  The plan allowed for sin with lots of justifications.

So today starts a new plan for weight maintenance….

  • NO stopping at the deli on the way to work.  I will leave a few minutes later which means no time to stop at the deli
  • NO more packing “just in case” snacks in my thermal for work.
  • Avoid the candy that sits on the counter at work.  This one could be a little tougher since it is for the customers BUT I am going to do it.  I will STOP and count to 10 before I grab a piece.  Hopefully that will be enough time to let the plan to NOT eat it sink in.
  • I will start tracking again TODAY everything I eat… no matter what.

I made a plan about overspending – I cut up ALL my credit cards.  I am working on a budget which isn’t always easy but I know it will pay off in the end.  I catch myself when temptation comes and I STOP!  Why is it so hard to control temptation with food?

When we don’t make a plan to keep out of trouble, the sin that crouches at our door will often be too hard to resist!

I had a plan when I entered into recovery.  It worked – 24 + years later, I am still drug free.  It was a struggle in the beginning when times were tough but I did it.

Just for today, I am going to STOP and ask God for HIS plan to keep me out of trouble and away from temptation.  I will TRUST and BELIEVE that I can do this.

“No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.” 1 Corinthians 10:13

What is YOUR one temptation that you need to make a plan to avoid?  Let’s ENCOURAGE each other on this journey.

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!