Category Archives: faith

“Fool For You,” Interview with Karen Shea

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Please welcome Christian musician Karen Shea to the blog! I’m so excited to have her featured here and introduce you to her. Her faith and enthusiasm are contagious!

I don’t know about you, but music is a big part of my life. Worship is powerful and soaking my soul in Biblical truths and positive, uplifting and inspiring messages is a necessity. As a teen, I sat on the porch with my cassette tapes in my Walkman for hours, jamming to Christian music, like DC Talk. And now? I’m raising my girls up with a good foundation and love of Christian music…and that includes Karen’s music.

I used to fantasize about being a singer, but I think it’s best I stick to my hairbrush microphone and just keep writing!

Karen and I have been friends on Facebook for a long while…some time before she got married. We have a few mutual friends, but otherwise, I’m not even sure how we connected. Nevertheless, I’ve paid attention to her, knowing she was a budding singer and filled with God’s light.

When she reached out to me about helping promote her new single, “Fool For You,” I was delighted!

Me: Tell us a little bit about yourself…Where do you call home?

K: West Virginia is still home to me, but I live in Nashville, TN.

Me: Is it true that you’re a “newlywed?” (I’m not sure when that label officially wears off!)

K: I’ve been married for a year and 1/2, but it still feels new. 🙂

Me: How is married life for you?

K: I love it so much! I have an amazing husband!

Me: What’s your favorite food?

K: Anything Mexican!

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Me: Tell us about you as a musician…How long have you been singing? How did you get your start?

K: I’ve loved to sing for as long as I can remember, but I got my start leading worship for my youth group at 16. That’s when I realized music could be a vehicle to reach others so I began to pursue it outside of church and consistently!

Me: Do you play any instruments?

K: Guitar!

Me: Do you write your own music?

K: I like to co-write! I’ve learned that songs come out stronger when a strong team comes together on them!

Me: If you could perform with anyone in the world, who would it be and why?

K: TobyMac! I love his music and I love the energy in his performances! I think it’d be a good collaboration!

Me: What song do you love to perform the most?

K: I’m most excited about performing my new single “Fool For You”. It’s so fun!

Me: What inspires you, moves you, or gets your creative juices flowing?

K: I draw inspiration from anything that can encourage others. I listen to others and what they are walking through. A lot of times it inspires me to write a song of encouragement. Sometimes I write from my personal journey. If I’m walking through something that I know will give hope to others I write about that. And scripture. When I spend time in the Word something will jump out at me that I know I have to sing about.

Me: How would you describe your music for those who haven’t heard it before?

K: Pop, with a taste of rock, and lyrically bold.

Me: Who are your favorite artists or your favorite songs to listen to?

K: I have a lot! I love TobyMac, Needtobreathe, Ellie Holcomb. Also, a lot of my favorite music right now is music that hasn’t been released yet. I love the new material my husband is writing. And my friends are working on a worship record that I love! 

Me: Tell us about your new single…Is there a “behind the scenes” story with “Fool for You?”

K: There is! I went over to my friends house (which also happens to be my cowriter Morgann David and producer, Paul David’s house)! They pulled up a track that my other cowriter, Greg “Gregatron” Williams had sent over for me to hear. I loved it and Morgann and I immediately started putting lyrics to it. At that point I was feeling pulled so many different directions. Though my flesh is weak my spirit only desired to live for more. “Fool For You” points out what the world says to be and what God says to be and ultimately says “I’m choosing Gods way even if it seems foolish to the world, because I know it’s worth it.”

Me: What is the takeaway message you hope listeners get from “Fool for You?”

K: “For God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise. He chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong” 1 Corinthians 1:27. I would want people to know that there is difference in living for the world and living for God and it’s worth discerning. A life sold out and surrendered to the purpose of Christ is beautiful.

Me: “Fool for You” is a single – what other songs or albums do you have out?

K: My last EP, “My Hearts Desire” is available on iTunes under my maiden name, Karen Spurlock. It features my single, Love is Calling! You can also hear it on my website www.karen-Shea.com 

(I posted “Love is Calling” here so you have a listen to her music!)

Me: Is there a full length album with “Fool for You” coming?

K: I plan to continue recording for a full length album but there is no release date at this time! 

Me: Are you planning to go out on tour?

K: Would love to! We are booking. Keep checking my site for dates!

Me: Tell us about your overall experiences…What has been your greatest blessing(s) as a Christian musician so far?

K: The people that I get to work with and my friends/fans. They are so loyal and supportive. I couldn’t do this without them! 

Me: In what ways do you hope your music impacts people?

K: I want my music to go beyond the concerts and the songs. I love great music and I want everything I release to be done with excellence, but at the end of the day I want my songs to transform hearts. I want to see people live up to their potential. I believe we can achieve that when Christ is in the center of our lives! We are all learning together-so let’s encourage one another!

Me: Do you have a web site or would you like to share your social media handles so people can follow you?

www.Karen-Shea.com
Twitter/Instagram/periscope @karenshea_
Facebook.com/karensheamusic

Me: Is there anything else you want to share with the blog readers?

K: You are loved and I believe in you! 

You guys, Karen has such an awesome heart for people and following Jesus! “Fool For You” is an exciting and energetic song – one you can workout to, clean your house to, have a dance party with your kids…or your friends, and one that will be totally “cool” blaring out your sunroof! {If you’re a fan of Britt Nicole, Kerrie Roberts, or Jamie Grace…you’ll love Karen’s music!}

Check Karen’s single, “Fool For You” out on iTunes….it’s released TODAY! (Click the link to go there!)

Keeping the Main Thing the Main Thing…in Maine

Greetings, Friends!

So much has happened since my last post in June that I don’t know where to begin. I will say that there is one more chapter to post about from the book, “The Pursuit of Holiness,” when I seemed to drop off the face of the blogging earth. I apologize for leaving that hanging. Because I love Jerry Bridge’s message in that book so much and feel it is important to write about, and because my personality is part melancholy and gets irritated with unfinished things, I will finish the book club.

If you follow me on social media, you’ll know a bit about what’s been happening. Without all the details at this time, suffice it to say that we have relocated to the southern coast of Maine and I’m homeschooling our girls this year! It’s a whole new state, a whole new church, and a whole new way of life.

2015-09-04 15.32.17In the midst of all the changes and newness, I’ve redesigned the blog yet again…finally finding a theme I love and that will showcase some of the beautiful Maine scenery. Blogging is something that I enjoy and can remain a constant.

The new tagline is, “Keeping the Main Things the main things…in Maine.” In junior high, I had cut out a quote from a magazine that said, “The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing.” (Looking it up now, the quote is attributed to Steven Covey.) I thought that was such a great play on words. Even then, I knew my priorities and would read it each day as a focal point. This quote has embedded itself within me and followed me through life. So when we relocated to Maine, my mind went to the quote. It might be a bit cheesy, but it fits in neatly with the blog.

2015-08-27 17.18.25I’ll be sharing about life in Maine and living along the northern Atlantic coast. We’re renting a house for the winter that is literally on the coast line. We wake up to the sound of waves. The air is filled with the salty-fishy smell of the ocean. We can walk to two private beaches that are just a hop, skip & jump away. As of next June, we will have to find somewhere else to live, but we are soaking in this living on the ocean while we can. It’s gorgeous and such a blessing.

2015-08-31 09.19.20I’ll be sharing about some of our homeschooling adventures. I have no idea if we will continue beyond this transitional year, and I know I had written a post in the last year that pointed out the reasons why we didn’t homeschool. I’ll probably address that later. God has moved on my heart, and where I was convinced I wouldn’t in a million years be able to handle homeschooling the children He gave us, I’m fully relying on Him and by His grace we are doing it. Homeschooling has proven, in just these three weeks since we’ve started, to contain so many more blessings than I could have imagined.

Of course, I’ll continue sharing about faith, doing book reviews, and perhaps book clubs.

WarriorChicks41I’ll also be sharing thoughts on living the “warrior chick” life. A friend lent me a copy of the book //ws-na.amazon-adsystem.com/widgets/q?ServiceVersion=20070822&OneJS=1&Operation=GetAdHtml&MarketPlace=US&source=ac&ref=tf_til&ad_type=product_link&tracking_id=onwiwa-20&marketplace=amazon&region=US&placement=0800722396&asins=0800722396&linkId=DKGGNMJ2RPEDWGM7&show_border=false&link_opens_in_new_window=true” target=”_blank”>Warrior Chicks by Holly Wagner {affiliate link} over the summer. I read it in three days. This book made my pulse race. I knew it had touched at the core of my being and my faith experience over the past several years. I’ve been through many battles and storms, keeping up the good fight, learning, growing, and refining. I desire to shine that out – attempting to put some of it into words – giving hope to other fellow warrior chicks – learning how to be overcomers despite our circumstances.

I co-led a Facebook group through (in)courage called, “Refuge in the Storm,” which was for women who had been through or were going through storms in their lives. It was a place of encouragement, prayer and support. To know they’re not alone and to continue walking in faith. The session with (in)courage ended a while back and we were supposed to end/delete our groups. However, ours stuck around and many ladies have stayed in the group for prayer support. I changed the name to “Warrior Chicks {41}” and would like to have an open invitation to my blog readers to join us.

Here’s the new description: A secret group for women who are “warrior chicks,” thriving in life’s storms, overcoming the battles. We might be cracked, broken, wounded and scarred, but we’re stronger and growing – bearing beautiful fruit by the power and grace of God. Our lives are dedicated to ardently loving God and loving others.

Warrior Chicks {41} is a closed and secret group, so you’ll need to click this link and ask to join. You won’t find it on a search on Facebook. If you’re already my friend on FB, I can easily add you to the group if you let me know you’d like to join us. Or you can send me an email (KristenHami7 at gmail dot com), let me know, and I will email you a link.

Come along with me on the journey of life – the new changes in my life in Maine and homeschooling!

The Pursuit of Holiness Book Club Week 11

HolinessBookClub

This has been an extremely busy final week of school for the girls and me. On Monday, Kaitlyn’s kindergarten class walked to a diner for free ice cream cones and I joined them. On Tuesday, Alexis & Jasmine’s classes participated in the annual 3rd, 4th, & 5th grade kickball tournament. On Wednesday was the annual school “Field Day” and picnic. I was at the school all day, running the “ring toss” game. (It’s set up in stations with a carnival theme including games, activities, and snacks.) I have a free day today, thus the blogging! Tomorrow, the kindergarten classes are walking across the street to a pond/dam to have a picnic lunch, and I’ll be going along for that.

After this post, we’ll have one final post on “The Pursuit of Holiness” book club. Then I’ll be writing two book reviews (these are affiliate links): “Miracle on Voodoo Mountain: A Young Woman’s Remarkable Story of Pushing Back the Darkness for the Children of Haiti,” by Megan Bordeaux and “How to Love Your Neighbor Without Being Weird,” by Amy Lively.

Here’s the list of links to past posts from the book club in case you need to catch up: Intro, Week 1, Week 2, Week 3, Week 4, Week 5, Week 6, Week 7, Week 8, Week 9, and Week 10.


Today, I’m on chapter fifteen, called Holiness and Faith. This was a defining chapter of the book for me when I read it the first time, two years ago. On the last page of the chapter, I had written: Faith + Obedience = Holiness. In all simplicity, that is what it boils down to. This time around, I wrote more of a flowchart: Salvation => Holiness => Faith, with two arrows off faith: 1. Obedience and 2. Trusting God’s Promises.

“By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would
later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even
though he did not know where he was going.”
Hebrews 11:8

This chapter looks a Hebrews 11, specifically the stories of Abraham and Noah, as examples of great heroes of faith. Both Abraham and Noah were called to do things by God that seemed unreasonable, absurd, or even stupid in the eyes of anyone watching. Many times, the same thing happens to us.

God calls us to something, oftentimes contrary to human reason and the world’s view. Did you know that when God called Noah to build the ark, the earth had never before seen a drop of rain? Yeah. So not only did everyone think he was utterly nuts, talking nonsense about water drops falling from the sky, but no one even knew what a flood was. Our callings might not make us appear to be insane like that, but following God’s precepts makes us pursue morals, values, and goals that are opposite to the majority of other people in the world. So it’s by faith that we obey and it’s by faith that we trust God to uphold and fulfill the blessings He’s promised if we obey.

We need to have conviction about the necessity of obeying God’s will, as well as confidence in the promises of God. Without these elements, we won’t do the hard part of carrying out obedience.

I want to quote a few sentences from the book, because Jerry says it perfectly:

“No one can pursue holiness who is not prepared to obey God in every area of his life. It calls us to obey God even when that obedience is costly, when it requires deliberate sacrifice and even exposure to danger.

Obedience to the revealed will of God is often just as much a step of faith as claiming a promise from God.

…since obedience is the pathway to holiness – a holy life being essentially an obedient life – we may say that no one will become holy apart from a life of faith.

Faith is not only necessary to salvation, it is also necessary to live a life pleasing to God. Faith enables us to claim the promises of God – but it also enables us to obey the commands of God. Faith enables us to obey when obedience is costly or seems unreasonable to the natural mind.

How often do we fail to obey God’s clearly revealed will because we do not exercise faith?

And because we do not have a firm conviction that “without holiness no one will see the Lord” (Hebrews 12:14), we do not seriously pursue holiness as a priority in our lives.

Faith and holiness are inextricably linked. Obeying the commands of God usually involves believing the promises of God. One definition of faith might be “Obeying the revealed will of God and trusting Him for the results.”

“Without faith it is impossible to please God” (Hebrews 11:6). If we would pursue holiness we must have faith to obey the will of God revealed in the Scripture and faith to believe that the promises of God will then be ours.”

Here’s a New Testament example that Jerry uses. Matthew 6:33, “But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” There’s a command and a promise. If we don’t believe in, have faith in, or trust in God’s promise, then it’s difficult to pursue obeying the command. The things of life end up taking top priority, instead of seeking God first.


For your journal:

1. Explain the relationship you see between faith and obedience in Hebrews 3:17-19 and 4:2, 6.

2. Read through Hebrews 11, noting the instances of obedience by faith. List five things which some of the persons mentioned in this chapter believed. Which is the most meaningful for you, and why?

3. List five ways in which the persons mentioned in Hebrews 11 obeyed God. Which is the most challenging example for you, and why?

The Pursuit of Holiness Book Club Week 10

HolinessBookClub

Hi Friends,

There are only two more posts to go and this book club will be done. Then I have two book reviews to do. I am aiming to get these posts all done by June 8th – my kids’ last day of school. I’m considering a blog hiatus for the summer, or at least not committing to a regular schedule. (If you’ve been following the book club, you’ll know that I’ve ended up not posting on the same schedule I intended. For that, I apologize.)

If you have missed any posts, you can read them at these links: Intro, Week 1, Week 2, Week 3, Week 4, Week 5, Week 6, Week 7, Week 8, and Week 9.

“For it is God Who works in you to will and to act according to His good purpose.”
Philippians 2:13

This week, we’re looking at chapters 13 & 14 of the book, “The Pursuit of Holiness,” by Jerry Bridges. This is about holiness and our wills and habits. We need to determine in our wills that we’ll form habits of holiness. Jerry points out that each time we give into temptation and sin, it becomes easier and easier to keep giving in and sinning. But the converse is also true – whenever we choose holiness and habits of discipline, it becomes easier and easier to choose that. Soon, (either way it goes), those repetitive choices will form habits.

We need to understand our wills – why they choose to sin or obey, and learn how to bring our wills into line with obedience to the will of God.

Jerry says,

“It is the will that ultimately makes each individual choice of whether we will sin or obey. It is the will that chooses to yield to temptation or to say no. Our wills, then, ultimately determine our moral destiny, whether we will be holy or unholy inour character and conduct.”

Our hearts = our faculties of the soul => the mind, the emotions, the conscience, and the will. God gave us these things. But with the fall of man in the garden, these faculties started working in conflict with one another and with God. Our wills have become stubborn and rebellious – being selfish, self-centered and self-serving. Our emotions wreck havoc, taking over and drawing our minds and wills away from obedience. Our minds are clouded, our desires are tainted and our wills are perverted, thanks to sin.

Our wills are what ultimately determine our choices and those choices are made based upon the forces acting upon us. Our wills can be influenced by the enemy, the world, our own sinful nature, our conscience, suggestions of other people, or the prompting of the Holy Spirit. Whatever way these forces come to our wills, they must pass through our reason (minds) or emotions.

So again, we see that we must guard (diligently) what enters our minds and what influences our emotions.

“How can a young man keep his way pure? By living according to Your Word.”
Psalm 119:9

It is vital to stay plugged into a habit of reading the Bible. The Word reaches us mainly via our reason so it influences our minds. The Lord, the Word gives wisdom and understanding. Proverbs 2:1-5 points out that He gives wisdom and understanding to those who:

  • receive His sayings
  • inwardly treasure His commandments
  • make their ear alert to wisdom and heart ready for understanding
  • seek understanding as if it were hidden treasure

The Word give us protection by its influence on our minds and wills. It gives spiritual information and practical application for daily living.

While most often God influences our wills through our minds, Satan usually attacks our wills through our desires and emotions. This is why we need to guard our emotions and check our desires through the lens of Scripture. We need to be aware of our desires and emotions and work proactively on the offense by setting our hearts and desires on God and His will – things above – spiritual values – and delight in God.

Our faculties should work by way of reason first, then our wills, then our emotions. However, oftentimes, they work in the reverse order. Therefore, we come back to the need for a structured plan – discipline. That’s why we need to stay in the Word – to get the head knowledge, but as we grow closer to God and experience His love and presence, it moves from the head to the heart. Our emotions, wills and desires will be for God and will keep us motivated to holiness.

I love Philippians 2:12-13 and this is how Jerry wraps up chapter 13:

“In the final analysis it is God who works in us to will and to act according to His good purpose. But we are expressly told by Paul to work at this ourselves (Philippians 2:12). Our responsibility regarding our wills is to guard our minds and emotions, being aware of what influences our minds and stimulates our desires. As we do our part, we will see the Spirit of God do His part in making us more holy.”

“Just as you used to offer the parts of your body in slavery
to impurity and to ever-increasing wickedness, so now
offer them in slavery to righteousness leading to holiness.”
Romans 6:19

John Owen said,

“Repeated acts of the consent of the will unto sin may beget a disposition and inclineableness of the will unto a proneness and readiness to consent unto sin upon easy solicitation.”

We need to understand how our habits influence our wills.

Habit = “prevailing disposition or character of a person’s thoughts and feelings.” They are in our minds and probably the most forceful influence on our wills. I have heard in the world of neurology that there are actual neuron pathways that are developed when we do something or think something – and the more we do or think that thing, the stronger that pathway becomes and the more our brains use that pathway. That’s the process of a habit taking hold in our brains. But when we stop using that pathway (doing or thinking that thing), the pathway begins to fade and over time, will disappear if not used. That’s when a habit is broken.

The easiest and best way to break a bad habit is to not only stop the bad thing, but to also then replace it with a good habit. We can’t just clear out all the junk and leave ourselves bare. Emptiness and idleness can be a doorway for the enemy to move in. So break those undesired habits and replace them with good habits of obedience.

We put off the old self and put on the new. Just remember that it’s futile to attempt this in our own power. We need the power of the Holy Spirit – working in cooperation with and dependence on Him.

Jerry gives us four principles we can follow to train ourselves in godliness:

  1. Frequent repetition – focus on saying no to sins that we are most vulnerable to. Then God leads us to other areas. Along with saying no to those sins, develop thinking thoughts that are pure, true, and good, and habits of prayer and reading Scripture. (This lets the bad habit pathways fade away and reinforces the new good pathways.)
  2. Never let an exception occur – don’t fall for a “just this once” temptation.
  3. Diligence in all areas is required to ensure success in one area – if we indulge a habit that we think “isn’t too bad,” it weakens our wills in all other areas.
  4. Don’t be discouraged by failure – we’re only failures if we give up and stop trying. If we keep working, regardless of how often we fail, we can see progress.

Jerry closes chapter 14 with this paragraph:

“It is vain to guard our minds and emotions against that which comes from without if we do not at the same time deal with habits of sin which are within. The battle for holiness must be fought on two fronts – without and within. Only then will we see progress toward holiness.”

For your journal:

1. How do the following verses describe our responsibility concerning our reason, emotions, and will? Romans 6:19, Romans 12:2, Colossians 3:1-2, James 4:7-8

2. Carefully read Proverbs 2:1-12. If we desire to guard our minds from evil, what must we do?

3. Review the four principles for acquiring or breaking a habit. Select a habit you want to acquire or break, and write a plan and how the four principles can help you.

The Pursuit of Holiness Book Club Week 9

HolinessBookClub

Hey Friends!

We’re moving on through “The Pursuit of Holiness,” in chapter twelve this week. (I may post week 10, which covers chapters thirteen & fourteen this week as well.) Chapter twelve is called, “Holiness in Spirit.” Week 8 was on “Holiness in Body,” and the next chapter will deal with “Holiness and Our Wills.” (If you’ve missed any or want to go back and read, here are links to each week: Intro, Week 1, Week 2, Week 3, Week 4, Week 5, Week 6, Week 7, Week 8.)

“Since we have these promises, dear friends, let us purify
ourselves from everything that contaminates
body and spirit, perfecting holiness
out of reverence for God.”
2 Corinthians 7:1

This chapter begins by mentioning the famous “Sermon on the Mount,” found in Matthew chapters 5-7. Our pastor just did a sermon series on this a couple months ago, called, “Everybody Knows That.” It’s because in the sermon on the mount, Jesus points out sins of the body, in which most everybody knows not to do, (we know it’s sin). For example, murder – it’s a sin – it’s one of the ten commandments not to do – and even unbelievers, in most cases, know it’s wrong. However, Jesus then points out a sin of the spirit to contrast with the sin of the body, which most everybody has committed, yet even believers might not realize is sin, or at least might not equate it as a sin on the same level. The spiritual contrast to murder is to hate. Jesus says that if we’ve hated someone, it’s the same as murdering them.

Yup, so if we’ve ever felt hatred toward someone, even if for a short time, it’s as if we’ve committed murder. Now, that doesn’t mean that since hating is just like murdering anyway, let’s just go do it. It’s to wake us up to realize that the inward attitudes and thoughts of our spirits/hearts are just as important as what we actually go and do on the outside. Following Jesus is more than actions. It’s an awareness of the heart, too.

I was raised in the church and taught that all sins are equal. There’s not a sliding scale with murder on one end and a “little white lie” on the other end and everything else is somewhere in between, with God measuring our level of “badness.” Sin is sin. Period. Just as we need to be diligent not to do the outward sins, we need to cultivate a diligence toward not committing inward sins.

God knows our hearts, our thoughts, our intentions, and words we haven’t yet spoken.

“O Lord, you have searched me [thoroughly] and have known me.
You know my downsitting and my uprising; You understand my thought afar off.
You sift and search out my path and my lying down,
and You are acquainted with all my ways.
For there is not a word in my tongue [still unuttered], but,
behold, O Lord, You know it altogether.”
Psalm 139:1-4 (AMP)

“But the Lord said to Samuel,
Look not on his appearance or at the height of his stature,
for I have rejected him.
For the Lord sees not as man sees;
for man looks on the outward appearance,
but the Lord looks on the heart.”
1 Samuel 16:7 (AMP)

We need to learn how to bring every thought captive – catch your thoughts like a butterfly in a net. (There’s danger in letting our thoughts flitter by unchecked.) Examine them. Check the thought itself and check the intent/motivation or where it came from. Check your heart attitude. If these things aren’t right, we need to cast the thought away. Give it to God in prayer. Ask Him to take it away and to help you get your thoughts, attitudes, intentions and motives pure before Him. Make a habit of filling the space where that thought was with prayer, worship, and Scripture instead.

“For as he thinks within himself, so he is…”
Proverbs 23:7 (NASB)

Colossians 2:23 warns us against the trap of acting and looking like we’re Christians and holy, but inwardly, we’re in shambles, basking in sin. The Pharasees come to my mind – doing all the proper outward actions to the point of being legalistic, yet being filled with a false sense of spiritual pride and condemnation for others. Many of them were hypocrites. And it’s what Joyce Meyer would call a “phony” Christian – they look like they are, but inside, they’re not living right.

“For the rest, brethren, whatever is true,
whatever is worthy of reverence and is honorable and seemly,
whatever is just, whatever is pure,
whatever is lovely and lovable,
whatever is kind and winsome and gracious,
if there is any virtue and excellence,
if there is anything worthy of praise,
think on and weigh and take account of these things
[fix your minds on them].”
Philippians 4:8 (AMP)

My “One Word” for 2015 is “separate.” This whole process of pursuing holiness, traveling the road of sanctification, and being more aware and intentional of my inward life and what I allow inside is all part of this idea of separate. Please know that I know that no one is perfect (except Jesus), and never will be perfect in this life. I’m not perfect and don’t except to be until heaven. I’m not going off the deep end and going Amish or becoming a hermit. Nor is my goal to be spiritually prideful in a “holier than thou” attitude.

I simply desire to follow Jesus – to live like He did – and obey God’s command to be holy because He is holy. Following Jesus’ example actually means getting out among the world to associate with and love unbelievers. Yet at the same time, spending time in prayer and the Word with Him and pursuing holiness in my own life. (We see Jesus going out among crowds of people in the day an then retreating alone in the evening to commune with God. That’s where He got His power, strength, focus and stamina.)

Jerry Bridges (the author of the book) says, “As Christians we are no longer to be conformed to the pattern of this world but we are to be renewed in our minds (Romans 12:1-2; Ephesians 4:23; 1 Peter 1:14). Holiness begins in our minds and works out to our actions. This being true, what we allow to enter our minds is critically important… Too many Christians, instead of resisting, are more and more giving ground to the world’s constant pressure.”

In today’s world, we can be influenced and distracted by TV, movies, books, magazines, music and unhealthy conversations. We need to be careful what our eyes see, our ears hear, our mouths say, where our feet go, and what our hands do. And we need to be conscientious about not being a source of temptation or a stumbling block to others. It’s a high calling.

In our spirits, we can be growing many different kinds of weeds: hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, envy, pride, bitterness, unforgiveness, a gossiping spirit, a spirit of retaliation, and a critical spirit. Some of us may have a lot of weeding to do. Jerry says,

“We cloak these defiling thoughts under the guise of justice and righteous indignation. But we need to pray daily for humility and honesty to see these sinful attitudes for what they really are, and then for grace and discipline to root them out of our minds and replace them with thoughts pleasing to God.”

For your journal:

1. Write a statement about the importance of holiness in our thoughts from each of the following verses: 1 Samuel 16:7; Psalm 139:1-4; 2 Corinthians 7:1.

2. Write what the Bible’s standards are in what we see and hear, (because what we see and hear affects how we think), in these verses: Matthew 5:27-28; Ephesians 5:3-4; 1 Timothy 2:9-10.

3. Describe the unholy thinking referred to in each of the following passages:
1 Samuel 18:6-12
Psalm 73:12-14, 21
Matthew 18:21-35
Luke 15:22-32
Luke 18:9-14

4. What applications can you make?