Thoughts Matter


Ugh!  I am NOT a morning person.  Well, actually, I LOVE mornings!  I’m just not an early-riser.  I love the brightness of morning.  The day seems cheerier, to me, in the morning–especially right after sunrise.  But, for the life of me, my internal clock hates waking up before 9ish, even with a 10PM bedtime!

Another issue I have is, if I wake up naturally at an earlier hour, I can usually get up and get on with the day, although still feeling a bit tired.  But if I wake up to an alarm, it’s like melatonin stays stuck in my brain most of the day, and all I feel like doing is going back to sleep.

This morning, I had an eye appointment at the ungodly hour of 7:50!  I had to BE there by 7:50!  The doctor insisted that he needed my eye pressure readings “first thing in the morning” for his treatment of my glaucoma.  Who am I to argue with the educated doctor?  I complied.

On the way into the office, walking up the ramp that leads to their front door, my thoughts were grumbling, “Ugh!  I hate these early morning appointments!”  Then I remembered their newfangled check-in system which required scanning my driver’s license and everything digital (<—not a me-friendly thing), so more grumbling set in, “I hate this new system!  It takes longer than checking in with a real person did…”

Then God’s way of living came to mind and immediately I apologized to Him, “Those thoughts aren’t very productive, are they, God?  And they aren’t very Christlike, either.  So, enough of that.”

I knew His way is to take those types of thoughts captive and to have a thankful heart.

Instantly my inner feelings changed from one of anger, frustration and discontent–which likely would have yielded “negative vibes” to all within my radar–to one of peace and resignation.  I had to work on the contentment a little longer. 🙂

Our thoughts really do matter.  They influence how we think about others and how we treat others.  God wants us to love well.  That’s pretty hard to do when our thoughts are focused on negative things.

Our thoughts do control us.  Have you ever realized that?  If you don’t believe it, try an experiment.  Set a timer for two minutes.  Then, for two minutes, make yourself think of all the complaints you can think of.  I’m sure you’ll find tons to fill the time.  This world and all people in it fall way short of being perfect. 😉  Plus, I think it is most people’s default setting, especially in this day and age. 😛

Record how you *feel* at the end of that experiment.

Next, for another two minutes, force yourself to think only thankful thoughts.  For those of you who are habitual complainers, this might be a little more difficult. 😉  If you find your mind drifting to a complaint, restart the timer until you can fill the whole two minutes with gratefulness.

Again, record how you *feel* at the end.

Was there a difference?  If so, which of those two ways would you prefer to feel most of the time?  If there wasn’t a difference in how you felt, repeat the test–only this time, set the timer for five minutes. 🙂

“Godliness, with contentment, is great gain!” 1 Timothy 6:6

If you don’t learn contentment, you’ll end up like this:

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Written by Jason Lehman when he was 14 years old!  I am impressed with his wisdom and insight at such a young age!

May we all learn to appreciate the good things we have in the moment.

I get to have eye care; it is a beautiful day; I am healthy; my eyes still work; I get to drive; I still have my hearing; Jesus is my best friend; no more tears and no more pain are in my eternal future; beauty is all around me; I have shelter; I have food; I have a smart phone that is capable of doing far more than I am capable of remembering *smile*; I get to go on bike rides; I am able to walk; I get to have flower gardens; we have good drinking water; I have a husband, I have children, I have grandchildren—–

OK, ok–you get the point.  There are a TON of things we can be thankful for!  If you found out you are a habitual complainer, you’ll discover all the blessings you have, too, once you change your focus. 🙂

 

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Pride Masquerading As Discretion


There are many costumes pride wears.  One I’ve been guilty of was “We need to keep this secret so we don’t hurt God’s reputation”.  God finally got it through my thick skull that He is totally capable of taking care of His own reputation in the way He sees fit.  He doesn’t need me to defend Him. (Reading even a few of many stories in the Bible makes it totally clear that God is all about being authentic/truthful at the expense of His reputation.)

Another costume came to my attention today: Discretion.

My brother “G” and I have had a falling out.  It’s a long story having to do with what he sees as me butting my nose in and not exercising “discretion” and what I see as his responding to me in a very unloving, unkind, and un-Christlike way.

It wasn’t until today that I realized his use of “discretion” encompassed keeping all skeletons in a closet–not living authentically.  That fact became glaringly obvious to me when he suggested at the end of his final letter to me, “Should our paths cross at weddings, funerals, or the like, there is no need to be unfriendly or to feel uncomfortable.  In fact, no one need to ever even suspect that there is this separation between us.  This will spare (various family members) and many others from the pain that this rift within our family must otherwise inevitably cause them.  And it will spare the cause of Christ any damage swirling rumors may engender.” (He seems to think he needs to protect God’s reputation, too.)

Our initial fall-out started because I found out about a skeleton in his immediate family’s closet and I asked him about it.  I had found out that his relationship with one of his sons was broken.  I was coming from a place of concern, compassion and with a desire to help if I could–to be a sounding board if he would like. His response was uncharacteristically vicious, and I was quite taken aback by it.  In that response, he included the directive to stay out of it, to which I replied that I would honor his wishes unless I believed God was directing me to say something else because I answered to God and God alone.

I didn’t get any response from him on that point.

Many years later, I believed God was calling on me to say something.  Several circumstances had presented themselves for me to begin and grow a relationship with this son. The son spoke a little bit of the brokenness between himself and his father, but he never shared any details about what caused the brokenness.  In my correspondence to G, or his wife, I never felt free to mention this son’s visits–even though the son stayed at our house for days at a time on some visits.  It felt dishonest to me.

Wanting to live in authenticity and truth, I one day let them know I had been getting to know their son and had, in fact, just had a nice visit with him and I wondered if perhaps there was some kind of misunderstanding or assumption going on between that son and my brother, as it was the only thing that made sense to me–since I had believed that both my brother and this son were trying to live godly lives.

This son of G’s was a very nice human being, and he was obviously heartbroken over the chasm that had formed between himself and his dad–preventing him from even having a relationship with his mother.

My “coming clean” and suggestion that there might be a misunderstanding or assumption going on was met with even more venom!  He, in so many words, blasted me, and then he virtually slammed the door in my face by saying, “I will not discuss with you any of this further, and I do not wish to hear from you further in regard to it.”  This was not the brother I had grown up with whom I had once described as having a heart of gold.

He told me I would benefit from a study in the Bible on discretion.

I responded to that e-mail asking for clarification about how he thought I was not using discretion and I also let him know that his blasting me and slamming the door in my face based on an assumption he made, rather than having a conversation with me about it, was unfair, unloving and therefore unChristlike.

I can only assume that he never read that e-mail as he never responded to it.

I left it at that for a year or two more, but I felt the fracture in our relationship.  In my opinion, he had sinned against me.  I was hurt and I no longer felt safe to engage in conversation with him.

I wanted to let it all go, but it wouldn’t go.  I was dealing with it by avoiding it and avoiding interactions with him.  At times, I had to battle feelings of resentment wanting to form.

Finally, a couple of weeks ago, I decided that God would have me hand-write a letter to him, letting him know about the brokenness I was feeling and how he had hurt me with his mean remarks.  After all, avoidance is not taught in Scripture–letting a brother know of his offense is. (Matthew 18)

A couple days ago I got an e-mail from him with more mean remarks and no ownership of his ill-treatment of me.  In his mind, his anger and “rebuke” was justified because I had not exercised discretion.  *I* was the one who owed *him* an apology.

To this day, I am confounded as to where his anger towards me came from.  If his initial reply to me many years ago had been more along the lines of, “I really appreciate your concern for my son and myself, but this is something I would prefer to not discuss with you” I would have respected that and not felt threatened or hurt.  There was no need for anger in that exchange–or any of our exchanges, in my opinion.

I still would have spoken up as I felt God leading me to later on, as I did, but even that could have been met with, “I understand and appreciate your desire to be obedient to God, walk in truth and not keep secrets from me, but I do not wish from this point forward to hear of your interactions with my son.  No, it wasn’t a misunderstanding or an assumption, but let’s leave it at that.  I acknowledge that he is sometimes part of your life, but I would prefer to keep that a topic that we avoid.”  That’s how I believe Jesus would have handled it.  It’s also a response that would not have involved sin against me or caused our relationship to break. Knowing that he now knew I was in contact with his son, I could have continued enjoying his son without feeling like I was hiding anything from my brother.  The matter could have been dropped and the relationship could have stayed in tact.

But that is not the path my brother chose.  Instead, he chose anger and insults. 😦

Regardless–I love my brother and my heart grieves for him.  I see him now as being blinded by pride and a misguided effort to protect God’s reputation.  If he looked deeper into that, would he discover that it is really his own reputation he is worried about?  I don’t know.  All I do know is that truth and authenticity are being smothered under the label of discretion that is actually a costume his pride is wearing.  He is totally blinded to that truth. 😦

Pride makes us keep all our skeletons in our closet.  Consequently, we close ourselves off from others’ wise counsel and input and we carry a burden all by ourselves that is meant to be shared in a loving community.

Discretion keeps unneeded details secret.  Pride keeps the whole matter a secret, smothering authenticity and truth.

Keeping sins or brokenness hidden in darkness/secrecy is not discretion–that’s pride masquerading as discretion.

James 5:16

“Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed.  The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.”

My heart grieves for G and for our now broken relationship.  But I know all of it is in God’s hands.  I will be praying for all of it.  God will redeem, restore and renew if He sees fit.  His will be done.

 

Spiritual Warfare


Exhaustion.

That’s what I feel right now.  I am weary and bedraggled.  “I’m tired, I’m worn.  My heart is heavy from the work it takes to keep on breathing” as the words of  the Tenth Avenue North song declare, making me think they have stolen a peek into my heart and mind. “My soul feels crushed by the weight of this world” the song continues.

There is a part of me wanting to give up–roll over and expose my belly so I can be put out of my misery.

Yesterday was a mountain-top day, though.  My heart was filled with hope; my blessings were in focus; many promises of God filled my mind:  He brings beauty from ashes; He is our deliverer and redeemer; He came to set captives free…

The song continues with more insights into my heart and mind, “I know that you can give me rest.  So I cry out with all that I have left: Let me see redemption win.  Let me know the struggle ends, that you can mend a heart that’s frail and torn.  I want to know a song can rise from the ashes of a broken life!  And all that’s dead inside can be reborn.  ‘Cause I’m worn.”

Spiritual warfare is exhausting.  We are pelted with lies upon lies.  Many of the lies are disguised as truth.  It’s a battle to rise above it.  The struggle is real.  Taking thoughts captive and correctly discerning what is truth and what is a lie is mentally and emotionally exhausting some days–which is the enemy’s objective.

He’s out to kill, steal and destroy.

Many of us are falling into his traps–believing his lies.  It’s very easy to do, especially during seasons of exhaustion.

The author of Healing The Wounded Heart, Dan Allender, says it this way, “Evil is a killer that delights in taking life and destroying hope.  It does so through mocking our sense of powerlessness to escape the harm that evil has inflicted.”

“The news is a prime example.  It is nearly impossible to hear of the suffering of the day without some sense of exhaustion, futility, and despair.  It is beyond our capability to bring about change in any dimension in the ‘big’ crises of the day.  And, in fact, we feel we can’t substantially change the problems at work or even alter our tendency to procrastinate.  What seems true is that we don’t really have any power or capacity to change anything.  It is a lie, of course, but it feels true deep in our bones.”

“Evil knows that to the degree we are discouraged and defeated, we will not fight for survival.  To not fight is to capitulate, to surrender.  Evil doesn’t primarily want to kill us; instead, it wants us to spend our lives in worry or regret.  Its design is to take life from life, or in other words, to kill hope.  It loves for us to sour ourselves through ruminating on failure and obsessing over the disasters we anticipate in the future.  Both regret and worry sap creativity and plunge the heart into the slough of despair.”

“There are two primary consequences of despair: dissociation and indulgence.”

The enemy wants me to enter despair.  I’ve been there on several occasions.  It’s not a happy place.

Having been there on numerous occasions, I have finally learned the steps that take me there.  I’ve come to recognize the pattern.  So I am heading it off at the pass.

In my exhaustion, I am choosing to believe God.  His grace is sufficient.  He is good.  He is faithful. He cares.  He is abundant in mercy and grace.  He is all-powerful.

Along with focusing on truths about Him, I will fill my heart and mind with His Word through Christian music and messages.  I will fight for hope.

As I take these actions towards truth, I will trust that God will not let me go–He will not allow me to expose my belly.  And one day, I fully expect to see redemption win.

 

 

 

Deception? Possibly.


Recently I watched a movie I have been wanting to see for a long time.  It recounts a 4 year old’s experience in “heaven”.  His testimony has helped convince people that heaven is for real.

At first, I was in awe of his experience.  I thought, “I would LOVE to experience something like that!”  But there were a few things that niggled at me–that didn’t sit right.  Still, I wanted to hang on to the hope that this little guy’s experience was wonderful.

My daughter sent me a link to read about another little girl who started having visions when she was four years old and it was also noticed that she had quite an artistic talent.  She supposedly encountered Jesus one day and she painted what she had seen.

The Jesus she painted is compelling.  He’s handsome and seems harmless enough–even a bit inviting.

Apparently the little boy was shown many pictures of Jesus as depicted in today’s art-offerings and he claimed that none of them were the Jesus he saw–until he saw this painting the little girl had done.  He was transfixed by it for a bit and then he declared that that was the Jesus he had seen.

Those things seem to confirm both of these children’s experiences.

But here are some of the things that niggled at me:

  1. The little boy asked Jesus why he had marks in his hands and feet and Jesus’s answer was, “They are to help me remember how much I love you.”  Say, what???  Jesus IS love!  He doesn’t need to be reminded of the love He has.
  2. The little girl drew a stunningly beautiful picture of an angel–only her angel is female.  The Bible speaks of male angels only.  You will not find one reference to a female angel in the Bible.
  3. She called her Jesus portrait, “Prince of Peace”.  That doesn’t impress me because if she truly thinks it is Jesus, she might have learned some of his names.  But it actually gives me pause because demons aren’t above taking on the names of Jesus.  Read Karl Payne’s book on spiritual warfare for some examples of that.
  4. The little boy’s father declared that thousands of people have declared that Jesus to be the Jesus they have seen, too.  Matthew 24 says, “Then if anyone says to you, ‘Look! Here is the Christ’ or ‘There He is,’ do not believe it.”  That particular passage is talking about tribulation times, but it still gives me pause.  I also thought of 1 Timothy 4:1 “Both the Spirit explicitly and unmistakably declares that in later times some will turn away from the faith, paying attention instead to deceitful and seductive spirits and doctrines of demons”
  5. In an interview, the now grown boy declares that God is okay with us loving His Son–as if to say that that is all it would take to get to heaven.  The real Jesus says, “I am the way, the truth and the life.  No one comes to the Father but through Me.”
  6. In the movie, the father comforts a grieving mother by assuring her that God loved her son more than she did–therefore she could be certain he was in heaven.  That’s not what God says.  (see above point)
  7. The little girl testifies to having been invisible once.
  8. She also testifies to being taken through galaxies.  Neither of these declarations have any biblical basis whatsoever.

Did the little boy experience heaven?  Once upon a time I would have been bouncing on his band wagon with a bull horn.  But not anymore.  I am skeptical–very skeptical.  The little girl’s experiences caused me to think demonic activity was going on and when her painting resonated with the little boy, that called into question *his* experience, for me.

The little girl is now a mid-teen, as is the little boy.  She has chosen to be vegan/vegetarian.  Because I sense demonic potential in her experiences, it made me wonder if this vegan/vegetarian culture might also be a demonic bandwagon everyone is jumping on.

Read this: “…who forbid marriage and advocate abstaining from foods which God has created to be gratefully shared by those who believe and have knowledge of the truth.  For everything God has created is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with gratitude; for it is sanctified by means of the word of God and prayer.”  You’ll find that passage only two verses after the verse that talks about the “doctrines of demons”.

Colton  and Todd Burpo–if you read this, I implore you: read the Bible and compare your experience to it.  If it refutes your experience, IT is true, and your experience is false.

Akiane Kramarik–you, too.  The Bible tells us that “satan himself masquerades as an angel of light”. (2 Corinthians 11:14)

My heart goes out to you all.  It is really, really hard to lay aside our experiences and trust the Word of God.  But I will be praying for you!  May God mercifully and graciously lead you into all truth.

God’s Will, The Way I See It


Some would say that God does not have a specific will for each individual.

I recently finished a devotional plan by a famous pastor whose view supports that first sentence.  In his opening paragraph he writes, “God doesn’t dream about where you’re going to live or what kind of decision you’re going to make about your vacation or some silly minutiae.”

He goes on to argue that God’s dream for our future is about an intimate relationship with Him.

I fully agree that God’s dream for our future is about an intimate relationship with Him.  But I fully disagree that God doesn’t have specific dreams for us as well.  How can a relationship be intimate if one person is off doing whatever they want, whenever they want, never consulting the other person in the relationship about their plans?

He says, “Since there are no Bible passages that connect the phrase ‘the will of God’ to personal life decisions, we won’t make decisions as if there were.”  But what about passages like Proverbs 3:5, 6 “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.   In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will direct your path.”?  Or Isaiah 28:29 “This also comes from the Lord of hosts, who is wonderful in counsel and excellent in guidance.”  And Psalm 31:3 “You are my rock and my fortress; therefore, for your name’s sake, lead me and guide me.”  And I love this one, Psalm 32:8, “I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you [who are willing to learn] with My eye upon you.”

God tells us He will “instruct” and “teach” in the “way you should go”–with His eye upon us.  That speaks to some very intimate involvement in our lives, as I see it.

The author goes on to say, “What could cause more stress, anxiety, and guilt than praying for something that doesn’t even exist?  What seems like God’s radio silence is actually His letting you choose.”

To his last statement, I would agree.  If you pray about something and you don’t *hear* a concrete answer from God, choose whatever option you’d prefer that is in keeping with God’s Word and trust God to overrule your decision if He sees fit.

And that’s the key to answering his first statement: there is absolutely no need to stress over God’s will or be anxious about it–your trust needs to be in God, not in your ability to hear Him or find out His will for you or what-have-you, but in His ability–and I even dare say “responsibility”–to lovingly guide His child who is depending on Him fully with a surrendered heart.  (Just as human parents have the responsibility to lovingly guide their children who are depending on them.)

Isn’t the Bible filled with stories and examples of God wanting people to rely and depend fully on Him rather than on themselves or riches or others?  That’s an overall message *I* come away with when I read His Word.

The man ends the devotional with this point: “If God does have an individual will for me, then who decides what His individual will is?  I do.  And I get to frame my choices with the indisputable claim, ‘This is God’s will.’  With that pronouncement, how can I give permission to wise people in my life to question what I have called ‘God’s will’?”

I understand his concern.  Some people will use the phrase, “This is God’s will” for anything and everything they *want* to do–and there is no way for anyone to know for certain that they are misusing that phrase.  (Lying, to be blunt. Possibly lying to themselves, even.)

But, the fact is, Paul writes of a time when he believed it was God’s will for him to go to a city where many of his friends implored him not to go.  Acts 20:22 “And now, behold, I am going to Jerusalem, CONSTRAINED BY THE HOLY SPIRIT, not knowing what will happen to me there.  (“constrained” =compelled or forced toward a particular course of action)

A prophet and some other people urged him not to go.  But he was surrendered to doing what God was asking of him.  They finally gave up on trying to convince Paul otherwise saying, “Let the will of the Lord be done.”  Isn’t that interesting?

God had a will for Paul and Paul knew it.  Others tried to talk him out of it because they also became privy to what was going to happen to Paul when he got to that city.  All very understandable!  Usually our friends only ‘get to’ speculate what might happen–they don’t have any prophetic revelations.  But these people *knew* what awaited Paul.

Paul *knew* God’s specific will for him–and kudos to him for sticking with it despite the passionate pleas from the other people to not obey.

My beliefs: Before we claim something to be God’s will, we need to be absolutely certain that it is!  Don’t close the door on wise counsel or sound advice by claiming something to be God’s will, just because you don’t want people trying to talk you out of it or for some other reason that is indicative of a sick heart.  When you don’t have a clear leading, make your choice in keeping with God’s Word and by all means, seek wise counsel.  When you DO have a clear leading, don’t let anything or anyone deter you from following what God’s will is for your life.

In conclusion: God wants a personal, intimate relationship with each of us.  That involves our acknowledging Him in all our ways and not leaning on our own understanding. ie: not practicing independence and self-sufficiency.  In our communication with Him, He might specifically direct us in some way.  When He does, obey.  When He doesn’t, the choice is yours.  In all of it, trust in Him with all your heart.

Some verses that speak to God’s desire for an intimate relationship:

Isaiah 64:4 Since ancient times no one has heard, no ear has perceived, no eye has seen any God besides you, who acts on behalf of those who wait for him.

Psalm 40:5 Many, O Lord my God, are Your wonderful works which You have done; and Your thoughts toward us cannot be recounted to You in order; if I would declare and speak of them, they are more than can be numbered.

Psalm 40:4 Blessed is the man who makes the Lord his trust.

2 Chronicles 16:9 For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show Himself strong on behalf of those whose heart is loyal to Him.

James 4:8 Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you.

John 15:4 Abide in Me, and I in You.

Matthew 10:30 But even the hairs of your head are all numbered.

John 15:15 No longer do I call you servants,…but I have called you friends.

 

 

My Testimony


My testimony seems bland and boring on the surface.  I don’t have a jaw-dropping testimony of how I was once this horrible person who did horrible things but now I am wonderful and doing wonderful things.

The surface of my testimony is this: I was born the fourth child to a Baptist preacher, accepted Christ as my Savior when I was around 5 years old and have lived the pretty-good-person life ever since.

But if you will dive under the surface with me for a minute, you might see that my testimony is actually jaw-dropping–but in a different way.

The key to seeing how remarkable my testimony is is to understand how holy God is.

The Bible refers to Him as “holy, holy, holy”.  That’s a way of saying He is the holiest that anyone could possibly be.  There is absolutely no unholiness in Him in any way, shape or form.

People might label me as a “goody two-shoes” (where did that saying come from, anyway?) or a “holier than thou” (and that one?) kind of person, but I can assure you, I can NOT claim to be “holy, holy, holy” in and of myself–not by any stretch of the imagination!  I’ve lied.  I’ve cheated.  I’ve gotten envious.  I’ve loved things and people more than I have loved God.

Well, I can’t list all my sin categories or I’d be here all day!  If I were to list my sins individually, I likely wouldn’t finish by the time I died!  So I am counting on you getting my point, and I’ll be moving on.

The bottom line is, Romans 3:23 says it best, “For ALL have sinned and FALLEN SHORT of the glory of God.”

God tells us in the Bible that we are to be holy as He is holy!  That bar is set out-of-reach high for all of us!  It does not matter if your goody two-shoesedness (I make up words sometimes) exceeds mine or not!  What matters is, your goodness does not reach up to “holy, holy, holy”.  Mine doesn’t either!  And by not reaching that bar, we cannot be part of the family of God.

But God loves us and wants us to be able to experience Him and enjoy Him, and be His son or daughter.  Therefore He provided a way for us to reach the “holy, holy, holy” bar.

This verse is one of many that talks about God’s plan to help us be holy enough to become one of His sons or daughters.  This is the amplified version of it: “But it is from Him that you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God [revealing His plan of salvation], and righteousness making us acceptable to God] {did you catch that???}, and sanctification [making us holy and setting us apart for God] {and that???}, and redemption [providing our ransom from the penalty for sin].”

So, long story short, this is my testimony: God’s standard is “holy, holy, holy”.  *I* fell short of that standard.  *God* provided a way for me to reach that standard.

If that’s not jaw-dropping to you, then you’re not getting it!  It’s like this.  Say you walked up to the King of England and slapped him in the face.  We all know the respect that is expected of us towards a king.  We also all know that doing such a thing could be a capital offense.  (At least, once upon a time it certainly was.)  But the king, instead of demanding your life, asks his son to offer his life in your stead and the son agrees to it!  Then he asks you to fully acknowledge the wrong you have done but accept his son’s sacrifice in your place. Wouldn’t you find that jaw-dropping?

THAT’S what God, the King of the world, did for us through His Son, Jesus Christ.  And He did it for everyone!  He even did it for the chiefest of sinners–those on the other end of the scale from goody two-shoers.  Because all of us have fallen short–and falling short by an inch is no different than falling short by a mile.  The bottom line is, we miss the bar on our own.

If my testimony has piqued your interest, please follow this link  and read more about God’s plan for us. ❤

 

A Clearer Understanding


“Out of the mouths of babes” is an expression that has come to describe those moments when a child says something profound that seems wise beyond their years.

This past week, I didn’t hear one of my young grandsons say anything particularly profound, but I did witness an action he was part of that struck me as profound.

My four year old grandson was playing a video game at an arcade near Dallas, TX.  His attentive mother was hovering nearby.

This little guy picked a video game to play that had him “riding” on a huge motor cycle while he maneuvered winding roads and various roadblocks and oppositions.  He was having the time of his life as he stretched his little body as far as it could go, resting his belly flat against the “gas tank”, in order to reach the handle bars.   I don’t think his feet were able to reach any pedals.

His objective was to play the game well–to win–but he had no idea he was way too young to do so.  However, that lack of knowledge didn’t stop him from trying and giving it his all.

His mother’s compassionate heart wanted him to win, too.

Without his knowledge, his mother had her hand on the back of the bike as she watched the screen diligently and helped him maneuver the curves and obstacles by pushing and pulling the back of the bike so it would lean in as needed, allowing her son to navigate the course well.

This mother’s heart had nothing but good things in mind for her son.  She wasn’t trying to manipulate him.  She wanted him to win!  She wanted him to stay alive!  She wanted him to enjoy the journey he was on.  She allowed him to do everything he was able to do and she took up his slack–working with him to achieve the objective they both hoped for.

Isn’t that a neat picture of God’s sovereignty in our lives?

The Chirping Bird


This morning, I was sitting at the table eating my breakfast of English muffins, eggs and yogurt with Jesus, and I kept noticing a chirping noise. I’d take a bite of the English muffin and hear, “Tweet”. It was a cheerful sound and made me wonder what kind of bird it might be that was chirping in the middle of winter. Normally the bird sounds of winter around here don’t include such cheerful tweets. I wondered if spring was coming early and this sweet bird had become the first arrival, heralding that fact.

The chirp was happening fairly frequently, which made me wonder, “Was the bird OK? Why hadn’t it flown to another location by now?”

I wanted to figure out where, exactly, the chirp was coming from, so I could maybe find the bird and see what kind it was. Also, I had become curious to see what was going on. So I sat frozen–my hearing isn’t the greatest; I wanted to make as little noise as possible, including chewing my food.  It had seemed that every chirp had come when I couldn’t hear it perfectly clear.  I was eating or swallowing or sniffing–some other noise was interfering with my getting a good read on where the chirp was coming from.

I sat, and sat, and sat. Frozen.  Even holding my breath at times.

No chirp.

Isn’t that always the way? It’s like they have a sixth sense that they are being discovered so they clam up and sit still until they feel like the coast is clear.

I ventured a bite of my English muffin–tentatively, still giving moments to sitting perfectly still and not completing the bite, hoping I’d hear the chirp again, but to no avail. Either the bird had finally flown away, or it was on to me.

I completed my bite and began to chew, continuing with my meal and bemoaning the fact that I had gotten curious too late in the game to find out what that bird was.

“Tweet!”

Seriously? Now that I was making noise again, the bird decides to start his chirping again? What are the odds!?

Then my brain did its own cause and effect analysis and posed the question: “Does the chirping only happen when I move?”

I leaned forward and backward in my chair to test that theory.

“Tweet. Tweet. Tweet.”

Oh for Pete’s sake! The chirp wasn’t coming from a bird at all! My chair was making the noise!

Nice one, Lord! You had me going! I love Your sense of humor! ❤

Contentment


While taking a shower the other day, I was thanking God for the running hot water and thinking about how blessed I was to live in this day and age.  I pictured myself living as a Pioneer woman with no running water–having to tote it from rivers or lakes, only getting to take sponge baths or perhaps the occasional portable tub bath; perhaps being the last one of 8 children who got to bathe in the same water.  Yuck!  How did people live contentedly in those circumstances?  I saw myself being very discontent in such a scenario.

But then I realized that I would only be discontent because I pictured myself in that scenario knowing what I know now.  I had something to compare it to!  If I actually had lived back then, I wouldn’t know what I know now, so I wouldn’t have known there might be other options.

More than likely, those people were thankful for their tubs that held so much water! People before them hadn’t had such a luxury!

That’s when I realized that much of our discontent comes from comparing what we have to something else.

That’s where Adam and Eve’s discontent came from that got us all in this sinful mess. They compared all that they had been given with what had been withheld and concluded that what was being withheld was something they just had to have as well!

Living day to day, we have three options.  Two of the options will not cause discontentment in our hearts.  The other option breeds discontentment.

Option 1: Don’t compare our circumstances or belongings or what-have-yous to anything else!  Just practice gratefulness for what you have.  Period.

Option 2: Compare your circumstances/belongings/what-have-yous to those things that are less than what you have–and count your blessings that you have been given such luxury compared to those you see around you who would probably love to have your life.

Option 3: Compare your circumstances/belongings/what-have-yous to those that seem better somehow than what you have.  That’s a sure-fire way to breed discontentment.

Which option will you choose?

“Godliness with contentment is great gain.” 1 Timothy 6:6

Loving Involves Getting To Know


The idea for this blog post was born just after hearing a testimony from a female friend about how she was treated by some men in her church leadership–how they basically made some assumptions and some decisions affecting her life, based on those assumptions.  My mind went on a huge rabbit trail about how “all men” do that to women.  They don’t understand us, but rather than asking questions and trying to understand us, they write us off as stupid or silly or in some other way “less than” how they see themselves.

Then I realized, after I calmed down a little bit, that, first of all, not “all” men do it.  Second of all, it goes both ways.  I’ve seen wives roll their eyes at something their husbands say or do, rather than taking the time to understand what their husband’s were thinking.

Asking questions and trying to understand doesn’t always bring about the desired results–we still might be perplexed.  But when we don’t understand, does that give us the right to dub the other as “less than” in any way?  Are we so sure that our understanding is that spot on?  How prideful!

Jesus’ second commandment was “love your neighbor as yourself”.  I heard one preacher give a reason for the importance of that commandment: all people are made in God’s image.  All are sacred.

Part of loving a person involves getting to know them–not banking on your assumptions about them.

Next time you notice yourself thinking less of a person because of an opinion they have or an action they took, pause for a minute, back up, and ask them some questions in order to better understand them, and therefore start loving them more completely.

Men: stop doing this to women.

Women: stop doing this to men.

People: stop doing this to each other.

And while I’m at it: stop doing it to God, too!

Just stop with the assumptions and get the facts! (I’m including myself in this admonition.)

End of rant. 😛