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Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Wildflowers

Yesterday my youngest son and I were driving along a big highway. In the ditch area there were beautiful wildflowers - orangey-red and yellow. I told him a story I remember from my childhood.

My grandma and I were driving together somewhere, and I noticed beautiful flowers in the ditch. I asked her if I could get some, so she stopped and let me.  She lived in the country and we only had about 7 miles more to go, but by the time we got back to her house, I was sneezing and my eyes were watering so bad that I knew it was the beautiful wildflowers.  I tried to keep them a while, putting them in some water in a vase, but soon we both realized we would have to get rid of them.  How sad that something so beautiful could cause such a big problem for me!

Back to yesterday....

It occurred to me that sin is much like those beautiful wildflowers.  So many thing are tempting because they look beautiful and appealing to us, yet when we get closer to it, they cause us big problems.

We are tempted by things that appeal to our sinful nature and we each are made uniquely different by God.  Something that looks beautiful and appealing to me, might not be to you. Something that looks beautiful and appealing to you, might not be to me.  We all have weaknesses that make us unique.

As Christians, we have a power within us to resist the temptations that come into our lives.  The Holy Spirit will help us in our weaknesses if we allow that power to reign and use it to grow.  The "beauty" and allure of those wildflowers of sin will always be there, but as we resist and turn away from them, those temptations will become less frequent.  They will become less beautiful and alluring to us, as well.  Instead of stopping and getting out to pick the wildflowers, we will just admire them from afar and remember the trouble they caused when they were brought into life.

When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; but each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.
James 1:13-15

(Note: I'm sure I've said it before and have thought of it in this way: that Satan is the one tempting us.  And perhaps he is in many cases (read Acts 5 about how Satan influenced Ananias and his wife, Sapphira, but the scripture above clearly says that it is often our own evil desires that cause our temptations.  We have to recognize our responsibility to giving in to temptation and not make the blame always go to another source.)  

No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.
1 Corinthians 10:13

Monday, May 16, 2016

NOTHING BUT THE TRUTH

Many years ago we heard someone say, "Coaches have to lie." We said to ourselves, "No...no they don't." We don't believe that and hopefully you don't, either. 

No one HAS to lie. Everyone has a choice whether to be honest or not, but sadly many make a habit of lying early in life, so it becomes an addiction that gets out of control just like any other addiction. The lying cycle is hard to stop, especially when it's been a habit for so long.

Many, hopefully most, coaches are honest people. We believe most are! But perhaps there are professions where lying is common. If someone does happen to be in a profession that causes them to be tempted to lie, or where they feel as if they have to lie, it's time to change professions, don't you think? 

Teach your children to be honest from an early age, but always show them the example of honesty in your life for them to emulate. If you lie on "small" (There's no such thing as small, little-white-lies. They're all big, equally wrong in God's eyes.) things, your children will see it and learn to do the same. 

Be honest, even when it's tough. Be kind, but be honest. It's a character trait that all should strive to have. Reputations are destroyed by lies. Be careful with your words.

“The Lord detests lying lips, but he delights in people who are trustworthy.”
Proverbs 12:22 

“There are six things the Lord hates, seven that are detestable to him: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked schemes, feet that are quick to rush into evil, a false witness who pours out lies and a person who stirs up conflict in the community.”
Proverbs 6:16-19

Friday, May 6, 2016

Like Any Other Sunday

You may or may not have noticed, but I'm not a big fan of celebrating Mother's Day or Father's Day.  That may seem strange to some, but working with Tipton Children's Home, I am reminded every year that some people don't have happy thoughts about these days that are recognized in the world as being happy.  Actually, in the world, Mother's Day is put way far above Father's Day and dads are often bashed from pulpits all across the nation.  That's sad, too.

The thing is, some of us have wonderful mothers, some have okay mothers, some have bad mothers.  And some of us are celebrating having a mother, but others of us are mourning our mothers.  Some of us are sadly reminded of the times when we lost a child, others are reminded of the fact that they will never be a mother.  And then there are lots and lots who are celebrating their living mothers as well as the fact that they are a mother.

I want to think about those who are mourning this celebrated day, but most of all, I don't want to take the focus of worship off of who we are supposed to be celebrating as we gather for worship each week - JESUS.  HE is what we celebrate! His birth, death, and resurrection.  Thankfully, here anyway, we don't have some big celebration with lots of awards given as I've seen and heard that some places do.  I even saw a comment that one lady doesn't go to worship that day because it's too painful!  That is NOT what the church should be about - causing pain to someone else in that manner!  That makes me so sad.

In ladies class Wednesday night we talked about mourning and our ministry to others in mourning.  Here are the points I would like to share today that are especially relevant for this coming Sunday....a hard time during this time of year every year because they are missing a loved one. (Be considerate of the feelings of others. These points are from a sermon at Memorial Rd. Church (Phil Brookman) in February.)

1.Take the words “at least” and “you should” out of your vocabulary.
No one wants to hear the words “at least” when they are in grief because at that moment there is no "at least". And no one wants to hear “you should” because that doesn’t validate how they’re feeling.

2. Instead of the phrase, “Call me if” change that to “I will do”. When people are in grief we often say, “Call me if you need anything.” But rarely does that happen because when someone is in grief the last thing they want to have to do is take advantage of someone else’s to-do list, so change that to a tangible action. Decide to do something and just tell them, “I will do _____________”. I’m going to bring you a meal. Tell them what you are going to do for them.

3. When it comes to those who are mourning the loss of a loved one or friend, don’t be afraid to mention the name of the person who died because the person who is grieving is probably thinking of that person all day long. It can be very validating to that person to mention by name the loved one.

4. Just listen. Be quiet. Job said to his friends, "What miserable comforters you are!" (Job 16:2) He just wanted someone to listen to him. He knew all of the things they said to him, but just needed someone to hear him.

5. Don’t force yourself into the situation if the person doesn’t want to talk. You might not be the person that this person needs to or wants to talk to. Be available, but don’t force it.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

K.Y.M.S. (Again!)

“The one who has knowledge uses words with restraint, and whoever has understanding is even-tempered. Even fools are thought wise if they keep silent, and discerning if they hold their tongues.”
Proverbs 17:27-28

K.Y.M.S. Do you know what that means? I am pretty sure I've entitled a blog post with this same acronym before, but in case you haven't seen it or don't remember, it stands for "Keep Your Mouth Shut!".  Oh, what a great thing to remember to do that I often forget....or neglect...to do!

In physical growth, children love to look at a mark on the wall and see how much they've grown year after year.  There is one mark, then a little above that, another mark.  Every time they measure they can see growth for many years.  In our spiritual lives, we can't physically put a mark on the wall, but it is good to examine ourselves often and see just how we are "measuring up".

When I think about my 20's or even 30's, I cringe about some of the things I said.  I would say whatever popped into my head (and that isn't good to say whatever is in your head!).  And now....in my mid-40's, I still mess up.  But now, these years later, I do often think about what I'm going to say or should say before I say it.  It doesn't mean I never say the wrong thing because I do all of the time, but now....I say the wrong thing less.  I can see that I've grown and matured as far as my words are concerned.  But I can keep going and maturing in this area.  For me, it will most likely be a life-long growing because it will probably never end.

I love reading about the words and the mouth in the Bible.  It steps on my toes, for sure, but it reminds me of the work that needs to be done in my life.  The good thing about it, though, is that the Holy Spirit will help me in this growth.  I don't have to do it alone.  Neither do you!  Whatever your struggle is - the Holy Spirit can help you with it, if you are a baptized believer in Christ!  The Holy Spirit is your helper.

Sometimes in our minds we say, "I can't do that!".  We say, "That's just the way I am!".  Well, if we are a child of God, it's wrong for us to say that!  GOD says HE will help us change and grow to be more like His Son, Jesus.  That is His will for our lives.  So for us to say "can't" just simply means we don't believe God can and will do what He says He can do.  Sadly, a lot of the times, we don't want to change.  We want to be the same. We don't want to work at something, but just continue doing what we've always done.

Each and every day I pray, "God, please help me use my words wisely".  He does His part, but I must do my part.

I have a brother-in-law that I admire (well, I have several that I admire, but this one for this reason).  When he's asked a question, he doesn't respond immediately.  It actually bugged me for a long time!  I would want to say, "Hurry up! Answer!".  But he wouldn't.  He was thinking.  Like I should do!  And for someone who is impatient in this area, waiting for an answer is torture!  But, what wisdom there is in thinking before speaking!  How many problems would be alleviated if we just took the time to think before speaking?

So today, I begin again with this same prayer.  Today I'll strive to grow more in this area with the help of the Holy Spirit.  Today is a new day.

Thank you, God!





 
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