Digressing: At the end of 2008, Anthony got a "God-sized idea" to write a book on Twittering and the Church. He obeyed, sat down and wrote it, and by the beginning of 2009 the book had been given PDF wings, along with a new website and a way for people to purchase the online book. I remember asking God to bring honesty to people's hearts when purchasing the book. After all, since it was a PDF file, one copy could be purchased and then distributed out to whomever they wanted to share it with. I wanted our potential income protected and for Anthony to be financially blessed for the work he put into the book. Sounds like a fair prayer, right?
Well, even more importantly, I remember His specific answer to me, "You're asking me to protect the income due to you for the work Anthony put into this project. You're asking me to convict hearts to purchase honestly and not distribute to others. How is the behavior you're asking me to protect you from any different from what you do all the time when you copy music that you haven't paid for?"
OUCH! That's what I remember thinking.
I was so convicted by those words that I immediately stopped 'stealing' music from the catalog of CDs at the library and stopped downloading music that I hadn't paid for. What's so telling of how even a WHOA!-stopped-me-in-my-tracks kind of lesson can become a slow fade to sinning again, is that my quest towards behavior modification only lasted as long as the heart-felt conviction. For about eight months I steered clear of any music I could gank. I even secretly applauded myself when I would walk past the CD section in the library and not take a CD to load into my iTunes. And then came the slow fade ... "Gosh, I really want that CD even though I'm not going to go out and buy it." Those words began taking their toll on the portion of my soul that desires that which I cannot purchase at the moment; and soon my conviction - and God's word to me - was overpowered by my selfish wants.
Fast forward to today: As soon as I began reading Melissa's article, I was hit upside the heart with a heavy brick of Holy Spirit conviction. The memories of what I wrote above all came back to me in a rush, and I hung my head and let out a big sigh knowing that this lesson was coming back around to me. God had waited patiently, but my moment of choice was once again put before me; and this time, the request came with an even bigger chance to purify integrity.
Last time I heard and heeded the voice of God and immediately stopped stealing music that didn't belong to me ... for a season, anyway. But now, God was calling me up higher, asking me to purify my integrity to an even greater degree. Not only am I to stop and never again upload/download music that doesn't belong to me, BUT I am to go back to my iTunes and delete - yes, DELETE - any and all music that I don't rightfully own.
"All God? You want me to delete it all? Over half of my iTunes library is music I didn't pay for." Even in a moment where I know a choice has been laid before me, I'm still foolish enough to question the request ... just to make sure I heard correctly. And then God reminded me of some more words that Melissa wrote, "If you want to be a leader, if you want to have influence, you need to choose to live your life above reproach … even when no one but Me is watching." And these words, too: "Do you really want to trade your integrity for [insert your compromise here] … Isn’t it worth more than that?”
Okay. I hear You. No amount of music [that I can't afford but want] is worth trading my integrity for.
And then I saw a wall post on Facebook with the scriptures from Provberbs 2:1-5 written out:
My son, if you receive my words, And treasure my commands within you, So that you incline your ear to wisdom, And apply your heart to understanding; Yes, if you cry out for discernment, And lift up your voice for understanding, If you seek her as silver, And search for her as for hidden treasures; Then you will understand the fear of the LORD, And find the knowledge of God.
Okay. I hear You.
"The beautiful thing about the Word… and about the Lord… is that, in order to experience freedom in it, you can’t omit the things you’re uncomfortable with or inconvenience you." [Bethany Dillon]
I read this blog just before sitting down to write mine here. Bethany was writing about walking in the fruit of the Spirit in true wholeness, not just in bits and pieces. When I came to this sentence, it was clear that I was either going to make a choice to wholeheartedly obey God or I was going to make a choice to flip Him the bird. [Harsh, but true] Keeping music that doesn't belong to me is choosing to walk in "comfortable convenience" for the things I want but can't afford; it is choosing the bits and pieces of the fruit of the Spirit as I see fit and, more importantly, not choosing wholeness.
Okay. I hear You.
"Furthermore the Lord began to show me that when I traded my integrity for things like downloaded movies and software, that I limited the blessings He wanted to pour out on my family. He showed me how my actions tied back His hands ... But worse, it’s wasn’t just material blessings, although there was that too, but I limited the spiritual blessings He could bestow on me, and I don’t want that!" [Melissa Aulds]
Okay. I hear You. More importantly, I want to go higher; I want to walk deeper; I want to be purified; and I will not trade any of your blessings for my desires.
Today, I am staring a new blog category ... Altars. While I will not have a physical altar to remind myself of this day, I will have this blog.
"Father God, I confess here and now that I have defiantly disobeyed You and have chosen to walk in false justification of my own wants and desires. Lord, forgive me! I have put a wall between Your blessings and my heart, home and family by choosing my own way; and by allowing the slow fade of selfish sin to invade my soul. Lord, forgive me! Purify my heart and my integrity. I receive your forgiveness with a whole and clean heart. And I will put action to my words by deleting ALL of the music that I do not rightfully own. Thank you, Jesus, for writing this lesson through Melissa and giving her the voice to share with us your desire for purity and a walk that is upright in integrity. Continue to purify me through lessons like these. In Jesus' Name. Amen and AMEN!"