lessons from a deck of trading cards

Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.  Hebrews 12:1-2

Our encumbrances are anything that weighs us down and hinders us in our spiritual lives.  The things, or even people, who cause us to take our eyes off of Jesus and block us from true Freedom.  We become trapped, "entangled", in a sticky net of sin.  Thanks be to  God that when we lift our eyes up and fix them on Him, He WILL lift us out of the net.  
         "My eyes are ever toward the LORD, for he will pluck my feet out of the net." ~ Psalm 25:15

Parenting is full of challenges.  Daily.  And I often feel like my oldest child is the biggest experiment.  Each new season of development brings new seasons of parenting.  There are lots of moments when I am silently praying for wisdom on what to do next.  There are lots of moments when I get it totally wrong.  But sometimes my heart is tuned in to God and His Spirit speaks through my weakness and it is beautiful.  We had a moment like this recently. 

The boys became interested in a card trading game a few months ago.  They used their own money to purchase some cards.  And they wanted to play with them, sort them and resort them all the time.  They wanted to take them everywhere they went.  There was only one problem.  Every time the cards came out so did anger, cheating, lying, stealing, bitterness and on it went.  The cards went in time out for a day.  They went into time out for a week.  Every time they resurfaced the same ugliness poured into our home.  

I knew I needed to step in and help my boys to find freedom from this net.  I told them that I thought it was time for the cards to go away for good.  The three of us sat down and I explained Matthew 5:29-30... 
   "If your right eye makes you stumble, tear it out and throw it from you; for it is better for you to lose      one of the parts of your body, than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. “If your right hand makes you stumble, cut it off and throw it from you; for it is better for you to lose one of the parts of your body, than for your whole body to go into hell."  
We talked about how every time the cards were around, their hearts were tempted to sin.  Every time. These cards were beyond their temptation level and they needed to go.  When I first said that the cards needed to leave, the boys were sad.  But as we talked about God's Truth and freedom from sin, their hearts softened and they agreed the cards needed to go.  I love seeing the Holy Spirit working in their young hearts.  

As I walked away from that moment with them, I pondered some questions in my own heart... what are my own encumbrances?  What is it in my life that needs to be cut out?  What about you?  

I love this story by Hannah Whitall Smith.  May it be a blessing to your own life today and lead you to freedom in the only ONE who can bring true freedom.....

"Most Christians are like a moan who was toiling along the road  bending under a heavy burden, when a wagon overtook him and the driver kindly offered to help him on hi journey.  He joyfully accepted the offer but when seated in the wagon, continued to bend beneath his burden, which he still kept on hi shoulders.  "Why do you not lay down your burden?" asked the kind-hearted driver.  "Oh!" replied the man, "I feel that it is almost too much to ask you to carry me, and I could not think of letting you carry my burden too."  And so Christians, who have given themselves into the care and keeping of the Lord Jesus still continue to bend beneath the weight of their burdens, and often go weary and heavy laden through out the whole length of their journey. "  

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