What junk to keep, share, and pitch? Lessons from organizing

My husband and I have been going through our junk. Maybe that should be spelled J-U-N-K, since we accumulated way too much of it in our more than twenty years in this house.

Who would’ve thought we could accumulate so many papers? Some of them are necessary. More than 99% should have been pitched years ago—except for tax returns and those kinds of things. Many of them have gone up in flames in late-night bonfires.

Who would have dreamed we would have boxes of books and toys from one of our children, now to go to our grandchildren?

How is it even possible we had clothes stashed in places I didn’t even know about?

Boxes for just in case, suitcases big and small, old garden boots, and much, much more.

As more bags get donated, trashed, and recycled, I wonder how we accumulated all this in the first place. What possessed us? Why did we hoard all this stuff?

The answer goes deep. What if we need it? Procrastination: we will get to this later. Storing for said child for the future. Making sure we have all legal paperwork, so not throwing away any of it.

None of this is necessarily wrong, but I have made some resolutions for the future:

  • Take care of papers as they come.
  • Organize other people’s stuff, if need be—in nice, sealable plastic boxes.
  • Trash junk—or give it away. As we all know, one man’s junk is another’s treasure.
  • Live towards minimalism, but not quite.

You see, I love decorations. I like the things that make a house look homey. Extreme Spartan living isn’t for me. (You may do it if you like; I’m only expressing my personal preference.) I like real houseplants, pretty dishes, candles, and a decorated mantle. Blue and white china makes me smile.

I got rid of my collections, and I’m not a bit sorry. (Never thought I could do that.) They got donated to a good cause, and I hope someone else enjoys them.

It’s time to start over and start new and hopefully, never, ever have boxes of papers or badly fitting clothing stashed in our house again.

This post isn’t just about organizing my home. It’s also about spiritual stuff. Unfortunately, it’s a lot like a house full of things.

There’s stuff we need to combat and trash: the devil’s darts, negative thought patterns and behaviors, a complaining spirit, and bitterness.

  • Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked (Ephesians 6:16).
  • But now ye also put off all these; anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy communication out of your mouth. Lie not one to another, seeing that ye have put off the old man with his deeds (Colossians 3:8-9).
  • Neither murmur ye, as some of them also murmured, and were destroyed of the destroyer (1 Corinthians 10:10).
  • Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice (Ephesians 4:31).

Some things can be recycled.

  • Verily, verily, I say unto you, That ye shall weep and lament, but the world shall rejoice: and ye shall be sorrowful, but your sorrow shall be turned into joy (John 16:20).
  • And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God (Romans 12:2).
  • Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new (2 Corinthians 5:17).

We need to save some stuff for others: wisdom gained over the years, biblical advice, blessings to share, a song of praise.

  • Howbeit we speak wisdom among them that are perfect: yet not the wisdom of this world, nor of the princes of this world, that come to nought: But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world unto our glory (1 Corinthians 2:6-7).
  • Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord (Colossians 3:16).

Beautiful, useful things should be saved and enjoyed.

  • Charge them that are rich in this world, that they be not highminded, nor trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God, who giveth us richly all things to enjoy (1 Timothy 6:17).
  • Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things (Philippians 4:8).

Above all, we’re to be content with what we have today. What do we really need? What God has supplied.

  • Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee (Hebrews 13:5).

May God bless you, today.

When women make it up

Women in general are emotional beings. Their feelings about right and wrong can sometimes lead them astray. When women step out of the role that God has outlined for them in the Bible, even well meaning ladies lead others wrongly. If you haven’t yet read the previous posts on women in the church, “What does “be in silence” mean for women in church?” is here, and “How do women “usurp authority” in the church?” can be found here. You might want to read them as a background for this post.

I did some research into religions invented by women when I wrote His Ways, Your Walk.* To my surprise, I discovered that women founded at least eight religions. They include: Christian Science, Seventh Day Adventism, Shakers, four different branches of Pentecostals, and a Japanese church where the founder claimed to be the embodiment of the Sun Goddess.

How did these ladies become religious leaders? I’m not sure about every case. Some said they had visions. Others seemed sane, even technical in their approach.

But, every time a woman becomes a church leader, she is doing something that a man should be doing. God never gave church leadership (of a mixed congregation) to women.

By the way, when a woman takes over the leadership in her home, she is taking over her husband’s role. A godly married woman lets her husband lead the family and supports him as he does so. He is its head.

I have a theory about women taking the lead in religions and why so many of them are cults. (A cult is any religion that has a false view of Jesus and a skewed belief about how a person can be saved. Any religion of works, idolatry, or that has an erroneous idea about Jesus—that He is less than the only Divine Son of God and equal with God in the trinity—is a cult.) My theory is based on one of the basic differences between men and women: women pay more attention to their feelings. Following feelings can lead women into theological error.

Is it bad to have emotions? Of course not. God made the man more practical and decisive and the woman more emotional because together, they balance the home. The man has the kind of practical thinking skills he needs, and the woman naturally nurtures and cares. This is good. So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them. And God saw everything that he had made, and, behold, it was very good (Genesis 1:27, 31a).

So, what’s my point?

We get into trouble when we don’t obey God’s specified order.

Our churches and homes suffer when we don’t allow men to lead. We might even get caught up in dangerous cults or a false belief system that doesn’t even preach the gospel, because we may like the music or the way we feel. In extreme cases, women might make up their own religions and attract followers.

The Bible warns against another gospel in Galatians 1. I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ (verses 6-7).

When women make up their own theology, they can get it wrong. We’ll look at the first three female-founded religions that we mentioned earlier as examples.

Mary Baker Eddy’s Christian Science teachings include that Jesus is not God and that all men and women are God’s children. (Encyclopedia Britannica) Jesus Himself said, I and my Father are one (John 10:30) and He that hath seen me hath seen the Father (from John 14:9). The Bible says that people need to believe on the Lord Jesus in order to become His children. But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name (John 1:12).

Ellen G. White started the Seventh Day Adventists. Their teachings about the Bible being the Word of God and who Jesus is are correct, but they obviously add to God’s Word by believing the inspiration of White’s writings. This is a direct quote from their reaffirmation: “We reaffirm our conviction that her writings are divinely inspired, truly Christ-centered, and Bible-based. We commit ourselves to study the writings of Ellen G. White prayerfully and with hearts willing to follow the counsels and instructions we find there.” (adventist.org) The Bible says, For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book (Revelation 22:18). While I don’t think Adventists would claim to be adding to the Bible, they clearly believe Mrs. White’s writings are divinely inspired and to be used along with the Bible, which is wrong. Less concerning are the practices of keeping the Old Testament laws about food and the sabbath, when in the New Testament, it is obvious that these laws were obsolete and that the New Testament church met on the first day of the week (Acts 20:7; 1 Corinthians 16:2). By the way, Mrs. White claimed to have had over 2,000 visions.

The Shakers were founded by Ann Lee, who desired a more emotional religious experience than she had in the Church of England. She joined a group called the Wardley Society, which had broken off from the Quakers. “She also began to have visions; these, and her innate leadership ability and charisma, led to her becoming leader of the group. However their untraditional mode of worship also brought the group much persecution. Finally one of Ann Lee’s visions directed her to take her followers to America.” (shakerheritage.org) The strange name comes from their shaking body, head, and arms in practice of worship. “She regarded herself … as the female aspect of God’s dual nature (e.g., male and female) and the second Incarnation of Christ.” (shakerheritage.org) Never in the Bible does it use a female pronoun for God. Ann Lee set herself up as God, which is blasfemy.

There’s an interesting story in Acts 14:8-18, where Paul heals a crippled man through the power of God. The people call Paul Mercury and Barnabas Jupiter. The priest of Jupiter brought oxen and garlands to the gates in order to do sacrifices and worship them. Barnabas and Paul tore their clothing and cried out to the people, Why do ye these things? We also are men of like passions with you, and preach unto you that ye should turn from these vanities unto the living God, which made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and all things that are therein (verse 15). Contrast this with Ann Lee, who said she was equal to God.

In conclusion, God gives Bible believing and obeying women many rights and privileges. Women can minister in a variety of effective ways, including being active in our churches and communities. Women are able to share the gospel wherever we go.

Let’s be like Lydia, Joanna, Mary, Martha, Phoebe, and many other New Testament women of faith. May we not usurp the authority of men in our churches but rather keep silence in the congregation. And, may we, like Timothy’s mother and grandmother, influence the coming generations for God.

*His Ways, Your Walk is available through me. Contact me for details.

To my political friends

I was scrolling through my social media home page today and noticed something disturbing. My post feed comes from friends only, and you know what I noticed? About 90% of all posts were political in nature. “We are against this, that, and the other thing.” “People should be listening to these people and not those,” they proclaim. “All of these people are fools.” Poking fun, mocking, ridiculing.

And, it hit me how devisive this is. Want to divide your friends? Easy: talk politics.

Please understand my position. I vote when I can. (I live overseas, and sometimes, it’s easier said than done. We’ve actually received ballots after elections.) It’s my right to have opinions—and yours. Thankfully, we still have free speech in most countries, and we can say what we think about politics. I am not against that at all.

Many years ago, my husband and I made it our own family policy not to talk publicly about politics. We live in the Basque region of Spain and knew that to speak out would not help us reach people for the Lord—which is the reason we’re here. So, we made it a practice—fine if you do otherwise—not to express our opinions on Basque politics, Spain’s, or America’s. It’s proven to be one of the wisest decisions of our lives, especially in the ministry.

What grieved me today? Seeing so much about politics and so little about the gospel.

The Apostle Paul was arguably the first traveling foreign missionary. He traveled from Israel to Turkey, covering most of the northern Mediterranean area back in 47-64 A.D. Paul preached the gospel everywhere and to every people group he could. He used their own cultures as illustrations, but his message was always the same.

Paul said to the Corinthian church in Greece, Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand; By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain. For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures (1 Corinthians 15:1-4, emphasis mine).

What’s the gospel? Three parts:

  1. The death of Jesus on the cross for MY sins
  2. Jesus’ burial
  3. The fact of His resurrection

What does it have the power to do?

Save souls.

Politics are important in every nation. It is vital that Christians stand for right, biblical values, morality, freedom, and that they support the good guys and reject the bad guys. (That may look different from country to country. I remember the former pastor of a church here in Spain voicing that quandary. Did he want to vote for the party that would give him more religious freedom or the one that was more in line with the Bible?) Each Christian needs to know the issues, examine the candidates, pray, come to a conclusion, and go and vote.

But, more important—eternally so—is the gospel of Jesus Christ, Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father (Philippians 2:6-11).

Jesus said, For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost (Luke 19:10). His whole purpose is to save.

Who’s lost?

Every sinner. That’s everyone on the earth. For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23).

Who can save?

Jesus.

He said, For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God (John 3:16-18).

Have you believed in Him? Jesus wants to save you.

If you already know Jesus, are you sharing the gospel? Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven (Matthew 5:16). The world today needs our light.

God bless you.