Good Gifts Gone Bad

Good Gifts Gone Bad

by Meredith Mills


Sometimes you’ve got to give yourself a time out.


For several months, I’ve been very intentional about writing regularly, trying to post here on a weekly basis. But last week, I chose not to write. At all.

God told me not to.

I had lots of work to do – A book proposal waiting to be revised, a book in process, a weekly blog post, a monthly contribution to Just18Summers and another article to complete by the end of the month.

Clearly, I didn’t have time to take the week off.

But God showed me that writing had become an idol.

An Idol.

It’s a rather church-y word, one that’s lost much of its meaning to modern American Christians. We read about idols throughout the Bible, but they can seem like distant relics of the past or an unfamiliar element of cultures somewhere else in the world.

Maybe we need to rethink the word.

Maybe addiction is more relevant to our modern minds.

Unlike statues of gold, addictions can be much harder to recognize, but they’re just as insidious.

Some addictions are big and ugly and obvious. But most of them aren’t. Most start as good gifts, designed by God for our enjoyment and use.

But they become addictions when we find our identity in them.

When we panic at the thought of losing them – even temporarily.

When we can’t stop thinking about them.

When we look for comfort, peace or healing in them.

When they drive and control us.

That’s what happened with my writing. I had taken it up as a hobby several years ago. It was a refreshing way to process my thoughts and emotions and a means of sharing with others what God is doing in my life.

But I’ve grown to love the feeling of completing a piece and meeting a deadline. I get excited when I hear how God ministered to someone through my words. I enjoy reading comments and feedback.

Those good things, however, took root in my heart and seeped into my identity. They began driving and controlling me like a task-master.

What started as a good gift became an addiction, an idol.

When God showed me this, I asked Him what to do about it. Not all idols can, or even should, be completely discarded. I’ve wrestled with a food addiction for much of my life, but I certainly can’t quit eating.

As I prayed, Jesus reminded me of this verse: “…Take every thought captive to obey Christ” 2 Corinthians 10:4-5

Just as my thoughts need to obey Jesus, the gifts I’ve received need to be under His control as well.

My writing needs to obey Jesus – the time I spend on it, the projects I undertake, the very words I say.

My eating habits should obey Jesus – what I eat, when I eat, how much I eat.

My parenting ought to obey Jesus – how I speak to my kids, the way I train and discipline them, the activities we chose to do as a family.

My role as a wife needs to obey Jesus – how I talk to and about my husband, how I respond to him, the priority I give our relationship.

My people-pleasing personality should obey Jesus, so that His pleasure is my heart’s desire and satisfaction.

My use of time needs to obey Jesus.

Absolutely every area of my life needs to obey Jesus.

Because this is what following Him is all about – my whole self living in full surrender to the God who invites me to find rest in Him. Rest from the idols that drive me, rest from the law that condemns me, rest in Christ’s work and rest in the nearness of God.

While idols and addictions consume those who cling to them, Jesus offers the abundant life for which our souls were created. (See John 10:10.)

How about you? Are there any idols lurking in the shadows of your soul? Any addictions strangling your abundant life?

God loves us too much to let us continue worshiping at the feet of things that will destroy us. Will you bring your idols to Him and let Him show you how to bring them under His control? no idols

I’d love to hear your thoughts and comments! Please respond below.

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Pondering Perfection

Pondering Perfection

“Please don’t let me mess up. Help me not to make a mistake.”

microphone-2479265_1280I stood in front of our church congregation, filling in as a member of the worship team. I would be leading out on the next song. My stomach was in knots as I thought through all that could possibly go wrong, things that have gone wrong in the past.

I could forget the words. My voice could crack. I could miss that high note.

Listening to the song’s intro (my heart obviously not worshiping), I realized something quite convicting – I’m quick to admit I’m not perfect. I talk about transparency and the importance of being real, of extending grace in our weaknesses and laughing at our embarrassing moments.

But I don’t like people to see me make mistakes. I want to control which imperfections they observe.

It’s one thing to talk about our mistakes and embarrassments, even our sins, in the past tense. It’s another matter to mess up when people are watching.

For most of my life, I’ve aimed at perfection. It seems a worthy pursuit. Jesus Himself said, “You are to be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Matthew 5:48).

When the Bible uses this word perfect, however, it has the connotation of completeness and maturity.

This term “can be used in a relative or absolute sense…God’s perfection is absolute; man’s is relative reaching the goal set for Him by God with each individual different according to one’s God-given ability.” – Lexical Aids to the New Testament, Key Word Study Bible

God is perfect. He’s sinless and holy. He needs and lacks nothing.

bean-1512433_1280We, His children, on the other hand, are in the process of becoming perfect and mature. We’ve been declared righteous and our sins have been washed away. Yet the Holy Spirit is about the lifelong work of forming Christ in us – and He’s not in a hurry.

True perfection, like all of Christianity, revolves around Jesus, not our own efforts to keep a good image or avoid mistakes. Jesus is our example, as well as our Source of transformation. He uses even our weaknesses to mature us and make us like Christ. (See 2 Corinthians 12:9-10.)

So today, instead of focusing on myself and the image I want to maintain, I choose to rejoice in the work God is doing in my heart, my life and my home.

ChristianPerfectionHow about you? How is Jesus perfecting you these days?

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Life-Giving Breath

Life-Giving Breath

“Then the Lord God formed the man out of the dust from the ground and breathed the breath of life into his nostrils, and the man became a living being” Gen. 2:7.

“I wish I could give you my breath!” My sweet husband’s words still echo in my heart. This week, I’ve been fighting a really bad asthma attack. I’ve had asthma for almost as long as I can remember, but this one’s been a doozy! One night, as I struggled to breathe, my hubby said those words to me…”I wish I could give you my breath.” And I knew he would if he could.

His kindness, his sacrificial love, are a beautiful picture to me of our life-giving God. In Scripture, one of the first pictures we receive is of God breathing life into His creation. After speaking everything into existence by His powerful word, He stops to “get His hands dirty.”


He doesn’t just say, “Let there be man!” Instead, with intricate detail and loving care, He forms mankind from the dust of the earth. An amazing masterpiece. The crown of His creation. But still lifeless. No blood coursing through His veins. No mind whirring into action. No nerves sending rapid-fire messages. Until God breathed life into his body. Then man became a living being (Gen 2:7). It is God’s nature to create. To breathe life.

It is also His nature to bring back to life what was once dead. You see, after God’s astounding work of creation, mankind chose to commit cosmic rebellion, thus issuing death into the world (Gen 3). And for thousands of years, death reigned in humanity.

But like bookends upholding the story of redemption, we see God once again imparting life in the New Testament. Only this time, He Himself took on our flesh and breathed our air. He became like us so that He could give His very life FOR ours (Heb 2:14). We were dead in our sins, helplessly unable to bring our spirits to life. But with sacrificial love, He took on human breath, so that He could give it up again (Luke 23:46). The sinless One died a sinner’s death.


But death could not hold the Creator, the One who is the essence of life itself (Jn 14:6). He brought Himself back to life and now offers this same resurrected life for those who come to Him in faith.

So what does that mean for you and me today? If your spirit is still dead in sin , you can find forgiveness and life through faith in Jesus (John 3:16).

And if you already have this spiritual life within you, your days can consist of more than “religiously” doing the right thing. “…the blood of Christ…(will) cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God” (Heb 9:14). Religious duty without an intimate connection to His life-giving Spirit is nothing more than “dead works.” Just as He breathed life into your soul at salvation, He can breathe life into your service for Him.

Those menial tasks you do, they can have spiritual significance now because the Spirit of God is living through you. That person you just can’t love or forgive, you can choose love now because it is the living, forgiving Christ who abides in you. That sin struggle that holds you captive, you can live victoriously because Christ has set you free from the power of sin (Rom 8:2). So bring your burdens, your responsibilities, your fears, your dreams, your everything to Him. And watch Him breathe life into all you are and do.

Where do you need God to breathe new life today?