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My Kitchen, My Cooking & My Annoying Smoke Alarm

It was just around lunch time when I was chatting with my friend using an app that lets you record messages and send them back and forth. Starting to feel hungry, I decided to whip up some lunch in between videos. When it was my turn to talk I nonchalantly said, “Oh, sorry if the camera is moving, I’m cooking while we’re talking.” A few moments later a new video popped up on my phone. Her head tossed back as she laughed out loud, she said, “That’s so funny—-you’re cooking and your smoke alarm is going off in the background!” A little embarrassed I replied, “Do you want to know what’s worse—-that sound is so normal in my house that I didn’t even notice it!” Her reply—you need to put this in a blog!!! So here we go—- Yes, it is true—-the sound of the smoke alarm blasting through the air is extremely common at my house. (Embarrassingly so). I’m not sure why—-perhaps it’s the way my home is laid out—-but every time I broil, fry, or make the oven too hot, you will hear the familiar “Chirp, chirp, chirp” resounding through my halls. And yes, the worst part is that it is so common that I hardly even notice it anymore. (Unless I have PMS—-then I don’t just notice it—-I want to rip the blasted thing from the ceiling and throw it out into the snow!). Otherwise, it’s one of those things that becomes such a normal part of my existence, that we just let it ring, knowing we didn’t start a fire—-I’m just cooking. But this is pretty normal right??? (No, I don’t mean the smoke detector part—-I know it isn’t supposed to be a food timer!) Instead, I think that the commonality is that all of us have things in our lives that really aren’t normal or maybe even healthy, and yet we’ve become so accustomed to their existence that we don’t even notice them anymore. They are familiar and we are comfortable with them. Often they’ve become so common that we don’t even try to deal with the situation anymore or solve the problem, we decide to live with it and say, “Oh, that’s just the way it is.” Rather than choosing to overcome—-we’ve decided to tolerate it. We’ve become complacent. In our complacency we no longer see things like hidden sins, bad attitudes, or a bitter root, creeping into our lives and taking over our hearts and minds. Sometimes we get so used to our circumstances and situations that we don’t even realize they are a problem. Like my smoke detector, our issues can become such a part of the landscape of our lives that we don’t even realize they need to be addressed and overcome. Often it’s during these times in our lives that we need a friend to come along side of us and say, “You know this isn’t normal—it’s time to make a change.” Just like my friend pointed out that it isn’t normal for the smoke detector to go off while you cook, we need some outside perspective to help us identify an issue so that we can conquer it. So where do you find this “outside perspective”? The first place we can start is in the Word of God. You see, the reading the Bible isn’t supposed to just be something that we cross off of our “to-do” list so that we can say we are gold-star Christians. Instead, the Bible is intended to be a:

Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path. --Psalm 119:105 (NIV) I like the way the Message says it: By your words I can see where I’m going; they throw a beam of light on my dark path. Psalm 119:30 says, “The unfolding of your words gives light; it gives understanding to the simple.” Hebrews 4:12 says the Word is “sharp as a surgeon’s scalpel, cutting through everything, whether doubt or defense, laying us open to listen and obey.” (The Message) Yes, the Word of God is meant to have purpose in your life. As you read it daily and open your heart to allow the Holy Spirit to speak to you through it, it will help you divide what is right from wrong; normal from abnormal; and healthy from harmful. Rather than always seeing things from your own distorted perspective, you will begin to see life from God’s perspective and that will help you make the changes necessary to live a victorious life in Christ. 2. We need to listen to God’s Word being taught. Here’s a simple truth: Most pastors and teachers do not spend hours preparing, praying, planning, and finally presenting a sermon just to hear themselves talk. They put in all of this work so that they can help people—-help you—-live the life that Jesus designed for you. One of the best ways that we can find outside perspective for our lives is by faithfully embracing the teaching of a born again, Spirit-filled pastor and teacher. We need to listen intently as they speak, hearing them teach us what they have studied and learned from God’s Word, and allow our hearts to be open to hear the Holy Spirit say, “This is how this applies to your life—-this is what you need to do.” 3. Read books by godly people. Let’s be honest: most of us don’t have oodles and oodles of time for reading. That’s why I believe it is important to spend the time that we do have reading books by Bible-believing Spirit filled authors who will influence us and challenge in our lives. I cannot tell you how many times I have read a book that changed my perspective. As an author shared their story or a vital truth that they learned through study, my viewpoint has changed. Rather than always seeing everything from my own limited perspective, I’ve been taken into their world and introduced to a whole new view. Once again, the Holy Spirit has used their words to help me see things in my life that need to be changed, adjusted, and rearranged so that I could experience my best life in Him. 4. Finally, I am a firm believer that it is important to have honest friends who will hold us accountable. Yes, we all like people who tell us we are awesome. It’s fun to have a little fan club who tells you how wonderful you are. But here’s what I’ve learned: these people don’t really help you. In fact, the first ones to tell you how amazing you are will usually be the first ones to leave you hanging at the first sign of difficulty. However, the honest friends—-the ones who will tell you the truth, challenge you be be better, hold you accountable and push you to be all you can be in Jesus—-they are the best friends you can ever find. AND they are the ones who will love you and stick by you through thick and thin—-no matter what—-they will want you to succeed. That’s why I believe it is so important for all of us to seek out these types of people. Don’t avoid them or ignore their advice when it’s given. Instead, ask God to bring these types of people into your life, and then appreciate them when they are there. I can tell you from personal experience that these friends are a treasure and accountability is priceless. Whenever you need a reality check—-they will be there!! Perhaps they will be laughing at you and telling you to fix your smoke alarm, or they may be asking you to sit down and have a chat about why you’ve developed such a negative attitude about someone who has really not done you any harm. (Again, a true story—-different friend). Either way the result is the same: when we hear the perspective of a godly person we begin to see that what we are accepting as “normal” perhaps needs to be changed. If we accept their advice and make the changes, we will find that their “faithful wounds” make our lives better. Wounds from a sincere friend are better than many kisses from an enemy. Proverbs 27:6

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