Ashes to ashes . . .

In reading and thinking about Lent and what to share I read this article by Sandy. I thought it can’t get much better. With Sandy’s permission I am sharing with you.
MARCH 11, 2011
by ssalvin
“Late winter-early spring was different before I knew about Lent. I think that my introduction to Lent may have actually been my introduction to spiritual disciplines in general. Before when I didn’t know about any spiritual disciplines – besides praying and reading my Bible, neither of which were accomplished with anything resembling “discipline” – I didn’t think about any of my indulgences. I’m talking about the way I spent my money, the things I chose to eat and drink, or how I chose to spend my time. I didn’t worry so much about how I could be a better neighbor or even a randomly-kind stranger.

Those things didn’t matter to me because I saw my faith in Jesus as something very personal. I didn’t see myself as part of a faith community. Frankly, I didn’t trust a lot of the people I went to church with. I learned not to trust church people when I was old enough to have a different social opinion from most of the ones I knew – because they turned on me in ways that I believed were unjustifiable for folks who claim to know Jesus. That sort of thing happens more than most people would like to acknowledge. I am grateful that God continued to pursue me, knowing how I felt about some of His other children and what I saw as their offenses and failures. Living life as an offended person is not a happy life.

Ashes to ashes, dust to dust…that’s what most of us heard who received the imposition of ashes on Wednesday of this week. It sounds so “funeralish”. [My spell-checker hates it when I make up words!] But that’s what it’s about for me now: death and renewal until we get to the resurrection. I’ve been reading some of Fred Craddock’s sermons for a project and in one of those sermons, Fred said that he didn’t understand how any Christian expected to be invited to the resurrection party if they never attended the funeral. During this season, we have the privilege – all of us, collectively – to experience again through spiritual disciplines the suffering that Jesus experienced, even to the gut-wrenching death, all for the sake of our reconciliation with God.

So, in light of that understanding, I am compelled – more happily than ever – to let die some of my indulgences and stinkin’ thinkin’ as the Holy Spirit reveals those things to me. One of the first things that had to go in order to get to this place was my misguided notion that I could follow Jesus in isolation. A faith that turns inward is no faith at all. It is when we reach out in faith to share something of ourselves with others that we encounter Jesus. He didn’t stay dead, remember? That is a deal-breaker for determining whether you’re a Christian or not. We talk and sing about His resurrection, but many of us live like Jesus just died. When you encounter the risen Savior, the only possible response is to be changed. Transformed! It’s easy to change personal habits, but I’m convinced that only encounters with Jesus can change our bad attitudes and misguided beliefs.”

More about and articles by Sandy:
About « Finding a new “normal”
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30 thoughts on “Ashes to ashes . . .

  1. “When you encounter the risen Savior, the only possible response is to be changed. Transformed! It’s easy to change personal habits, but I’m convinced that only encounters with Jesus can change our bad attitudes and misguided beliefs.”

    In my present local Bible study, by Beth Moore: “Beloved Disciple: The Life and Ministry of John”, I am learning some of these concepts, that Sandy has mentioned. Read with me, a quote from my Bible study book: “I received many wonderful treasures from the churches of my youth, but I did not learn two vital keys to a victorious life: how to have an ongoing, vibrant relationship with God through His Word and how to be filled with the power and life of the Holy Spirit. Both of these are vital concepts that the enemy does everything he can to make us miss. The Word and the Holy Spirit are by far his biggest threats.”

  2. “Remember, oh man, that dust thou art and unto dust thou shalt return..”
    The easiest Christian life to live is to (only be concerned with one’s own spirituality….if one can ascertain that in a vacuum) and not be concerned with the community of believers ANYWHERE. Unfortunately, or maybe fortunately, that was the religious realm in which I was raised, before I met the Lord Jesus Christ OFF THE CROSS and PERSONALLY. Yes, thank God for a crucified Savior…as Paul says…he endeavors to know nothing but Jesus Christ, and Him crucified…but we know that that’s not all Paul said. He also said that he died daily…with Christ, for the sake of the Gospel.
    When the TIME OF ASHES TO ASHES occurs, as with each of us , Father will say to us… ‘What did you do with MY SON JESUS CHRIST?” Did you share
    with My people; did you communicate with the “community”. Did you show the love of God that I shed in your hearts by My Holy Spirit? Or did you hog it all to yourself, not realizing that that was NOT what pleased ME? Oh !!
    Thank you for sharing Sandy’s article with us. It sounds quite familiar to me.

  3. Thanks Sandy for sharing your heart with us. It reminds me of the following scripture.

    “Deep calls to deep in the roar of your waterfalls; all your waves and breakers have swept over me.” Psalm 42:7

  4. Sandy, I appreciate your article. You lay out a clear measuring line for ‘determining whether you’re a Christian or not’ and you paint a vivid picture of how to lose our life in order to find it. Real truth in how to encounter Jesus.

  5. Friends, thank you for sharing with me your thoughts and responses. I have been blessed to know that this article has been a blessing to you! I know that our walk in faith is truly about the journey and I am pleased to be traveling with you. Peace and many blessings, *Sandy

  6. Sandy, your writings add more grace and glory to our lovely website. How pleasant and how delightful when brethren walk together in the unity of the Spirit. I, too, did so appreciate your article and its enlightened and nouveau thinking on an old subject. Looking forward to reading more!

  7. I thank the Lord for the metamorphoses of our lives. It seems that we are continually changing from ash pile to another ash pile in our thinking. This year has been a big year in changing bad thinking in my life. Isolation with me, myself, and I was about to overwhelm me with anxiety. With deep digging by people who were constant and persistent to get at the core of twisted hurt and cover ups, thinking has and is being changed. What freedom to fly free. No one has to stay in an isolated bubble. Jesus came to set us free from “sticky thinking, misguided beliefs, and bad attitudes” and always has others to help. Surely there will be more ash piles to self in the days and years to come. Thank you for the article that made contemplate and thank God for all HE has done for me this year through his caring servants. It seems the devil plays the same tricks on people over and over again. Thank goodness our journey is seasoned by people of wisdom into the devil tricks who reach out to lend a helping hand along the way.

  8. Rena, it seems as though, just as you have described above, we go from one ash heap to another, hoping to level off the soot, eventually, so that we can begin to go from glory to glory instead of ‘gory to gory”. It like the proverbial onion; a continuing peeling away, layer after layer until there is nothing left but a core (seed) to replant?? On the other hand I hope not to be ever learning (ever peeling) and never coming to the knowledge of…. But at least it is a beginning. And Jesus said He is the Alpha (beginning) and the Omega (ending). Amen!

  9. Attending my mother-in-laws funeral service tonight I thought about Jesus as redeemer and that He is bringing life to each of us everyday – real life. He is not a story book character we read about that we enjoy the sweet story for a moment and then lay it down. The journey we choose is up to us and is interactive with Jesus everyday. Waking up to Jesus you begin to see life in real three D with its up and downs, tears, heartaches, character builders for the kingdom of God. Lives touching lives. As Sandy says we live as if Jesus were dead, but he is NOT. HE if the real thing. If you take the journey with Jesus you will look back and think that was what God was doing when that happened. We know that as we face our individual journey which crisscrosses with others God is forever leading us to him. The song that came to mind was BECAUSE HE LIVES I CAN FACE TOMORROW
    Thank goodness Jesus arose and He rises each morning within us if we allow him.

  10. “Isolation”, “hurt”, “anxiety”, “satan’s tricks”, I’d like to share some of Beth Moore’s thoughts in my study book, “Beloved Disciple: the life and ministry of John”, that touches on this subject. Read with me: “Life can be heartless and mean. Purely and simply, life hurts. However, we can’t check ourselves out of life. Instead, God hopes that we’ll turn to Him to heal us from the ravages of natural life and make us healthy ambassadors of abundant life in an unhealthy world.” She further explains this: “Let me suggest two sure signs of an ailing heart: (1) You’re convinced that nothing in life is reliable. Code name: Jaded. (2) You keep trying to convince yourself you can rely on something that has proved unreliable over and over again. Code name: N. Denial. In case you have a heart like the one I had, please know that God can heal your heart, no matter what got it in such a condition. First John 3:20 tells us that God is greater than our hearts! And He knows everything!”

  11. Needles, does Beth give a list of things that might have gotten one in these situations?

    And, if God can heal our hearts why don’t we let Him?

  12. “My son, give me your heart and let your eyes delight in my ways…(Proverbs 23:26 NIV) I am thinking that if we do this and get a healed heart that then it will cost us something…we are accountable to get into action and be that ‘healthy ambassador’, that Needles writes of, for someone else in need.

  13. Thanks, Debi, for the lesson. So, when you give your heart away you do it their way. Hey, teacher, Debi, did I get a passing grade understanding what you said?

  14. Brian Sawyer wrote, “….salvation is free, but the anointing cost you everything…”

    Is this part of the give all of your heart away?

  15. Needles comment on Beth Moore’s thoughts on “jaded and denial”, I understand this to come right from the Apostle Paul and other Biblical writes as “self-deception.”
    “Self-deception is a process of denying or rationalizing away the relevance, significance, or importance of opposing evidence and logical argument. Self-deception involves convincing oneself of a truth (or lack of truth) so that one does not reveal any self-knowledge of the deception.” Wikip…definition….They also give these examples, Simple instances of self-deception include common occurrences such as: the alcoholic who is self-deceived in believing that his drinking is under control, the husband who is self-deceived in believing that his wife is not having an affair, the jealous colleague who is self deceived in believing that her colleague’s greater professional success is due to ruthless ambition, etc….” Find more at Wikipedia-self deception

  16. Tozer writes, “Of all forms of deception, self-deception is the most deadly, and of all deceived persons the self-deceived are the least likely to discover the fraud…He is his own enemy and is working a fraud upon himself. He wants to believe the lie and is psychologically conditioned to do so. He does not resist the deceit but collaborates with it against himself. There is no struggle, because the victim surrenders before the fight begins. He enjoys being deceived.”

    Read this article in its completion at:

  17. Sara your comment, “So, when you give your heart away you do it their way” sure seems right if I understand you correctly. I think you are not taken up with your own self but with someone else’s welfare and interests.
    Looks like Brian has a good perspective on giving your heart away…the annointing comes when we are in aligned with God’s agenda and His timetable and is for His purposes to be accomplished. It’s not for us to feel good but for others to benefit, get healed and draw closer to the Lord.

  18. Teach me your way, O LORD, and I will walk in your truth; give me an UNDIVIDED heart, that I may fear your name. Ps. 56:11.
    If we have a DIVIDED heart it is obvious that we are not giving our whole heart to the Lord.

    And Ps. 86:11 says, Teach me your way, O LORD, that I may walk in your truth; UNITE my heart to fear your name.
    A UNITED heart is not a wavering heart that is moved off course by emotion, or lusts of the flesh, or pride of life. But the Scripture says….a united heart toward the Lord enables one to walk in the truth and thus not become deceived or deluded, but to walk in TRUTH. As for a divided heart,
    James says, ” Do not waver, for a person with divided loyalty (and a divided heart) is as unsettled as a wave of the sea that is blown and tossed by the wind. Let not that person think he will receive anything from the Lord”

  19. Debi, do you think the definitions of self deception goes along with the same thought as twisted thinking?

    Discussion group: What about the idea that one enjoys being self deceived? If that be the case what should a friend do when their friend is self deceived and wants to live there and enjoy it?

  20. I have a friend who handles self deception very head on. She tells you that your are self-deceived and the situation is never going to change unless you face it and stop it. You can wallow in deception. It is like a cyclone that doesn’t stop. Face it about another person be it husband, friend, associate. They are not you and you are not them. You are entitled to your way of thinking and they are entitled to their way of thinking. Perhaps they are not on the same plane as you or you believe on the same planet. Their thinking about people and the way they interact with others is so different than yours. You can’t change them or cure them. You can’t say words to try and lead them or control their thinking onto the path of yours. Each of us has a journey to make. We choose our path with God or not with God. Women and men of integrity or not. Don’t get twisted trying to change them with around the barn thinking (cyclone) in trying to get them to change. Don’t try it with your speaking to other. Focus on your walk with the Lord. Getting twisted emotionally with someone else will bring stress and will cause you to be twisted at the ankles and fall. You yourself become walking dead. Fixating on deception causes you to lose who you are in God. Self deception takes a lot of healing and walking through it and lots of out spoken friends of God who bring truth and light to your situation. I surely know this from experience.

  21. To answer your question Sara, “Debi, do you think the definitions of self deception goes along with the same thought as twisted thinking? ” In my opinion…definitely. We had some discussion on the topic of twisted thinking in an earlier blog “Wisdom Words”, December 16th, 2010

    There is a scripture I quoted mentioned in that blog from Proverbs 12:8 (God’s Word) that addresses this: “A person will be praised based on his insight, but whoever has a twisted mind will be despised.” Tozer mentions the mind in his article on self-deception that you cited…”But a guileless mind is a great treasure; it is worth any price.”

    In reading more in Proverbs 12, I see a list of casualties from sinful twisted thinking/self-deception:
    “but whoever hates correction is a dumb animal” (vs 1)
    “but the Lord condemns everyone who schemes” (vs 2)
    “but the one who chases unrealistic dreams has no sense” (vs 11)
    “An evil person is trapped by his own sinful talk” (vs 13)
    “A stubborn fool considers his own way the right one” (vs 15)
    “but a lying witness speaks deceitfully” (vs 17)
    “but foolish minds preach stupidity” (vs 23)

  22. Rena, David says in Psalm 141:4-5, Incline my heart not to submit to or consent to any evil things or to be occupied with them….deeds of wickedness (or of no consequence at all) or with men who work evil things or thoughts.. AND LET ME NOT EAT OF THEIR DAINTIES.
    v5. Let the RIGHTEOUS MAN SMITE ME and CORRECT ME.. It is a kindness. OIL SO CHOICE, let not my head refuse or discourage that correction…but even in calamities and evil times shall my prayer continue to God for deliverance.”
    It seems that there is much of this in what you are saying. David said it, too.

  23. “Needles, does Beth give a list of things that might have gotten one in these situations?” If I may, I will quote from Beth’s book, in an effort to try and answer your question, Sara.
    “I can almost imagine Christ saying to humanity, ‘I am perplexed with all your talk about whether or not you can trust Me. Actually, your heart can be at complete rest in My presence. My love is perfectly healthy. The greater risk is in My entrusting Myself to you.’ You see, our unhealthy hearts not only condemn us, but they also condemn others. I have seen marriages destroyed because one spouse refused to accept the reality of the other’s love. Our hearts sometimes even condemn God as we decide for ourselves that He can’t be trusted and that He doesn’t love us unconditionally. Our natural hearts are very deceitful and destructive on their own. We may have a condemning heart without ever facing it. Is that your heart? Is it in shambles? Beyond proper living conditions? Are broken pieces of glass scattered all over it? Has it not only been endangered but become dangerous? As most of us know, hurt people hurt people. My heart used to resemble a condemned property. Oh, I kept a fresh coat of paint over it so that no one would know, but I knew it was a wreck on the inside. I even turned the sign over on the other side and wrote: ‘Fun Person Who Has It All Together…As Long As You Keep Your Distance and Don’t Look Closely’. Some of us may think our hearts aren’t unhealthy because we assume they all look alike. Nothing could be further from the truth. Unhealthy hearts come in all shapes and sizes. Some are cold, others indiscriminate. Some have thick walls around them; some, no boundaries at all. Some are forthright and angry. Others are passive and self-disparaging. Some are completely detached. Others are so attached that the object smothers.”

  24. “no boundaries at all.” This being around the heart. I think this takes a master heart degree to properly spiritually draw these lines. Needles, did Beth elaborate on this?

  25. “You see, our unhealthy hearts not only condemn us, but they also condemn others”…looks like our actions reveal our hearts and our hearts condemn (one dictionary definition says: To pronounce judgment against; sentence) us.
    In reading I John 3:18-21 (NKJ), it seems that a way to get this turned around is to face truth, be truthful and put love in action.
    “My little children, let us not love in word or in tongue, but in deed and in truth. And by this we know that we are of the truth, and shall assure our hearts before Him. For if our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and knows all things. Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence toward God.”

  26. Sara, Beth says: “Beloved, Satan is a liar! He knows if we take this thing about God’s love seriously, we might become a John or a Paul in our generation.”

    I think Debi got it right here, from God’s Word: “it seems that a way to get this turned around is to face truth, be truthful and put love in action.”

  27. So as you sow so shall you reap. He/she who sows abundantly will reap abundance. To everything there is a season…a time to sow and a time to reap. This is reaping of blessing time in your life. This is a mirror of your heart. The reflection of……. sort of, what you get is what you’ve given and more and abundantly pressed down, shaken together, running over…will the blessings and anointing fall upon you.

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