Tag Archives: wisdom

Shoes

Standard

I had a really nice visit with a friend not so long ago. While she is a pastor’s wife at our church, I’ve also had the privilege to get to know her better through a small group Bible study. It was during this time that she really made an impression on me. Although she has 5 children of her own and is my junior, I was able to discern she had a depth to her Christian walk. In other words, she wasn’t just a “pastor’s wife” in name only. She has a genuine faith all her own aside from her husband’s role in the church.

During our brief visit, I shared with her some things I’ve been struggling with in my parenting. Knowing her as I do, I felt she would have some godly wisdom for me. Little did I know that her words would be few, yet pregnant in meaning. Her response, “I haven’t walked in your shoes.” Wow! That really resonated with me because she could have easily spewed from her vast experience of parenting her own 5 children. I would have taken it all in and considered what she was saying, but the impact of those 6 words conveyed so much more to me.

“I haven’t walked in your shoes” communicates several things. One being the most obvious, I’ve not been in your particular situation so I don’t feel I can bring anything to the table. Second, considers that while the experience I have with my children might be helpful to you, it may not be, simply because all children are different just as all parents are different. Third, it validates you as a parent by not assuming you’re an igmo since you’re in the spot you’re in. Fourth, it offers empathy to the person who is seeking help and desperately trying to find a solution to their problem.

Leaving my friend that afternoon, I not only felt heard but encouraged, empathized with, prayed for, and refreshed. Isn’t this what we all long for with our most treasured of friends? It seems ludicrous to think otherwise, yet more times than I care to recall, I’ve come away from a conversation having felt ridiculed, challenged, put down, a less than, and an igmo all rolled into one! For me to humbly ask a friend for advice, in my opinion, is a compliment to my friend. It conveys that this friend is admired, looked up to, been in a similar situation where they can empathize and offer help. I cannot fathom why anyone would respond in any other way but with grace and honor.

My challenge to you: the next time a friend shares her personal dilemma with you, consider her thoughts and feelings. Listen to her with respect and empathy. Weigh your words carefully before pontificating your thoughts. And as a respected pastor of mine once said, ‘while listening (to the person speak), I pray silently to God asking for His wisdom to share rather than my own’.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

life throws punches

Standard
life throws punches

Whether a Mom, businessman, husband, pastor, or child, we can all relate to the punches life throws our way from time to time. Ever think that some people seem to have more than their share? I know people like that! Scrolling through social media brings so many to mind, both complete strangers and friends, who are desperate for God to show up in the punches they’ve been thrown. Life can be yucky, even outright ugly at times, yet the trials we face are inevitable as long as we have breath in our bodies.

As hard as we may try not to, it’s easy to turn inward and wonder, “why me?” I think it’s a valid question, however if we look to God for answers when we’re in a pit of life, we will quickly see that we shouldn’t be surprised when things happen to us that we simply don’t prefer. In fact, a pastor that I often listen to who years ago battled cancer shared in his testimony, “why not me?” A bold statement for sure and a question I certainly would not pose to someone going through cancer, or any other such agony of life. His rather seemingly odd question was provocative nonetheless.

Looking into God’s Word for some wisdom, however, you might stumble across one or more of the following scriptures:

Dear friends, don’t be surprised when the fiery ordeal comes among you to test you as if something unusual were happening to you. (1 Peter 4:12)

Do not be surprised, brothers, if the world hates you. (1 John 3:13)

We also rejoice in our afflictions, because we know that affliction produces endurance, endurance produces proven character, and proven character produces hope. This hope will not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured out in our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us. (Romans 5:3-5)

The truth is that when we are knocked off our block by an unwelcome punch being thrown our direction, we are (hopefully) driven to our knees in prayer seeking His help. It means in  humility we come to Him knowing that we are in desperate need of His power which supercedes our own. It means we recognize how desperate we are for Jesus. As much as we may think we are strong enough to handle all of life’s difficulty, we simply are not. It’s during these difficult times we recognize our need for a Savior. I believe the Lord uses these times in our lives to drive us to Him and pursue Him like nothing else.

So back to the question from the pastor regarding his cancer struggle of ‘why not me?‘, the fact of the matter is that none of us are immune from life’s difficulties and tragedies. We all will experience the negativity of life from time to time. It is only when we become residents of heaven, as followers of Jesus Christ, that we will not experience sickness, tears, and death. This side of heaven, however, problems and suffering are inevitable. It’s why we need Jesus. It’s why we need a Savior. When life is going great, unfortunately we don’t see our need for a Savior. Conversely, when we are in the depths of despair we are desperate for Him to intervene and illuminate the darkness we find ourselves in. Life brings both good and bad which is why it is essential to fill our minds with God’s truth in  both the good and bad days.

To me, this is the beauty of being a witness to someone else’s trial. A believer who is truly seeking the Lord, combating the lies of the enemy with God’s truth, fixing their eyes on Jesus, we can see how they boldly proclaim the Lord’s goodness and care to them. It is as if they are being carried through their trial by our loving God, because we know that He works in all things and nothing takes Him by surprise. He has the power to stop whatever the trial we’re in, but He allows it to draw us to Himself. His ways are higher and He works all things together for our good. Seeing life through His perspective which we won’t fully comprehend this side of heaven, makes the punches we are thrown a little less scary. We are never alone and this life is not all there is, thankfully. What a perspective!

 

 

 

Last days

Standard
Last days

It should come as no surprise to followers of Jesus Christ that we will encounter more false teaching, doctrine, so-called believers including pastors of mega churches, authors, music, and the like who proclaim false doctrine according to the Word of God.

My husband is probably the first to ever challenge me on this very topic. I’ve written about it before, but I believe it needs to be repeated. As someone who worked in a Christian bookstore for years as a teenager, I thought I was pretty well versed on what should be classified as ‘correct theology’. The bookstore I worked in was a “mom and pop” bookstore that exercised discernment in what they would supply in their store. I specifically recall a very popular book at the time I worked there that was one of those so called ‘bandwagon books’, meaning a large community of believers was endorsing, purchasing, and ‘buying into’ its teaching. I recall how even as a young impressionable teenager, I so admired the owners’ conviction to not carry said book, even though it would have been profitable financially to do so.

Fast-forward some twenty or so years later, my husband and I had a conversation once about a particular, rather popular “Christian” author in which I had a few of this author’s books on my bookshelf. In a loving, yet direct way, my husband challenged me to consider this author’s beliefs. As he did some research and lovingly shared his findings with me, I was shocked to learn this author with a large following, selling out stadiums for speaking engagements, had huge discrepancies in major key points of doctrine. Of course, I was embarrassed that I’d been duped into believing this author was one to be trusted. I recall when my husband first brought his suspicion to me, I was a bit defensive of the author as someone I respected on our church staff quoted this author often in a women’s group she led that I’d been a part of for some time. We even watched some of this author’s teachings during our meetings. In my defense, I’d never heard her speak or read anything she had written that contradicted my beliefs or noticed any red flags of the person’s theology. However, it was from this person’s twisted and false doctrine that they wrote and spoke from. It can be very subtle and even sneaky so as not to unveil the lies.

It was then that my husband educated me to be discerning about everything we allow into our minds, especially when it comes to teaching and music from a “follower of Christ”. He gave me pointers such as checking into the endorsements of an author’s books. Are those endorsing this author someone you can trust biblically and theologically? Is their doctrine sound? Where was the author educated? He pointed me to a couple trusted websites where I could search a particular author and their beliefs. He also cautioned me that just because a particular author or book is sold in a so-called Christian bookstore or even marketed as a Christian book, doesn’t mean the book/author is reputable, or even a Christian. Most importantly though, my husband encouraged me to pray for discernment from the Holy Spirit. Pray and ask the Lord to help me rightly identify anything I come across that does not align properly with God’s Word. Ask the Holy Spirit to heighten my senses by being in God’s Word regularly so that I can recognize counterfeit from truth, remembering that the two are closely intertwined.

Now, as a long-time follower of Christ, I was astonished and quite embarrassed that I didn’t recognize such false teaching for myself. How was it possible I could be duped? I believed I was well-versed on truth. It was then that I realized how critical it was for me to ask the Lord for wisdom, understanding, and discernment. God’s Word is clear to believers, warning us of what we allow into our minds and what is to come in the last days. We have to remember that our enemy seeks to confuse us and our beliefs; while God is not a God of confusion. We must be careful what we allow in our thought life and what we put before our eyes, even if it seems that everyone else is reading it. Just because a book is a top seller, doesn’t mean it’s meant to be read. Being in God’s Word with our minds saturated in His truth will give us reason to check everything against His Word.

“But there were also false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you. They will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the sovereign Lord who bought them—bringing swift destruction on themselves.”  (2 Peter 2:1)

“But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God— having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with such people. They are the kind who worm their way into homes and gain control over gullible women, who are loaded down with sins and are swayed by all kinds of evil desires, always learning but never able to come to a knowledge of the truth. Just as Jannes and Jambres opposed Moses, so also these teachers oppose the truth. They are men of depraved minds, who, as far as the faith is concerned, are rejected. But they will not get very far because, as in the case of those men, their folly will be clear to everyone. You, however, know all about my teaching, my way of life, my purpose, faith, patience, love, endurance, persecutions, sufferings—what kinds of things happened to me in Antioch, Iconium and Lystra, the persecutions I endured. Yet the Lord rescued me from all of them. In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, while evildoers and impostors will go from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived. But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it, and how from infancy you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.                                         (2 Timothy 3, full chapter)

The heart of the discerning acquires knowledge, for the ears of the wise seek it out. (Proverbs 18:15)

“Let the wise listen and add to their learning, and let the discerning get guidance” (Proverbs 1:5)

“The way of fools seems right to them, but the wise listen to advice.” (Proverbs 12:15)

“I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves.” (Matthew 10:16)

What you heard from me, keep as the pattern of sound teaching, with faith and love in Christ Jesus. Guard the good deposit that was entrusted to you—guard it with the help of the Holy Spirit who lives in us. (2 Timothy 1:13-14)

If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. (James 1:5)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Me, Alexander? You, Dennis?

Standard
Me, Alexander? You, Dennis?

One day I might be able to laugh about it. One day.

Actually, I laughed out loud last night. Only because it was portrayed on the TV. I’m talking about Dennis the Menace. Remember that 1950 something black and white show about a curiously inquisitive, yet innocent looking little tot who manages to find trouble wherever he goes…especially next door, with his neighbor, good ‘ol Mr. Wilson! That’s the one! I loved watching this show when I myself was a young’un. I’d laugh and laugh at all Dennis’s shenanigans. It seemed like real life comedy straight out of Hollywood!

That was until I had a boy of my own.

So, watching the show last night made me laugh because, oh my word, I can relate to poor Mrs. Mitchell, Dennis’ mother. If it’s not one thing, it’s another with that boy! All I could think is, that woman needs an award for all she’s put up with. No wonder she only had one child. Fast forward to me, my son, and an only child at that. Similarity on steroids! I guess it’s true what they say, misery loves company. There’s comfort to be found in others who are in the same boat, at the same time.

I had a thought though as I was being entertained by the ‘5o’s TV show last night…..perhaps I need to adjust my attitude. My child, busy as he is with a dose of naughtiness, a spoonful of mischievousness, and energy out the wazoo, is a gift. That’s right. He’s a gift from God and therefore he was created by God. Instead of feeling frustration day after day with his actions (I started to say “behavior” but behavior can be adjusted or corrected; innate curiosity is something different), just like Mrs. Mitchell, I need to embrace my gift and adjust accordingly. There are times to punish naughtiness and there are times to roll with the curiosity of a toddler boy. There are also plenty of opportunities to just sit back and have a good belly laugh over their outlandish and creative imagination! I prefer to choose laughter over anger and negativity; after all, I don’t want to be like *Alexander who proclaims his day is terrible, horrible, and no good.

I’ve decided that we as parents tend to get the most frustrated and irritated with our children when they don’t act or respond the way we think they should. I think I’ve heard this from a psychologist somewhere at some point. In other words, expecting a certain maturity of behavior from a young child will only yield frustration because that young child isn’t capable of it just yet. I find myself in this state quite often. I expect my child to respond or react in a way that I would expect a peer of mine to respond. Impossible. Chalk this up to impatience! Somewhere along the way, I’ve heard it said the older a person is, the more patient he is….HA! At least that is not true of me.

To put shoe leather on this, as my former pastor used to say, I have been erroneously trying to manage my emotions and frustrations over parenting on my own. If I’ve read one parenting book, I’ve read ten! I’m not saying books aren’t of value, but Whom better to turn to that our Creator? The One who made me, the One who created my son. God’s Word should be my go to source. A book to supplement here and there is okay but where am I getting my main advisement??? At some point, enough reading regurgitated psychological thoughts….no two children are the same. Comparison is not where it’s at. Being in tune with my Maker, who is also my son’s Maker (duh!), has all the wisdom and equipping I need.

That said, I’m committing this year to turn to God’s Word first, rather than as a last resort. God’s Word has the power to transform and renew my mind, to change my “want to” and give me a song in my heart. His Word not only has the power to change me and my heart, but also my son and his heart. I want and need God’s wisdom above all else. In order to attain His wisdom, I have to be plugged into it. Spending time with the Lord, reading His Word, committing it to memory, asking the Holy Spirit to give me the desire to read and understand so that I can apply it to my life is paramount. I need this for my life, and I can bet you need it for yours!

Let’s do this together!

When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put aside childish things. (1 Corinthians 13:11, HCSB)

If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good things to those who ask Him! (Matthew 7:11, HCSB)

For this child I prayed, and the Lord has granted me my request which I asked of Him.   (1 Samuel 1:27, AMP)

And do not be conformed to this world [any longer with its superficial values and customs], but be transformed and progressively changed [as you mature spiritually] by the renewing of your mind [focusing on godly values and ethical attitudes], so that you may prove [for yourselves] what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect [in His plan and purpose for you]. (Romans 12:2, AMP)

For the word of God is living and active and full of power [making it operative, energizing, and effective]. It is sharper than any two-edged sword, penetrating as far as the division of the soul and spirit [the completeness of a person], and of both joints and marrow [the deepest parts of our nature], exposing and judging the very thoughts and intentions of the heart. (Hebrews 4:12, AMP)

Honor [esteem, value as precious] your father and your mother [and be respectful to them]—this is the first commandment with a promise— (Ephesians 6:2, AMP)

Fathers, do not provoke or irritate or exasperate your children [with demands that are trivial or unreasonable or humiliating or abusive; nor by favoritism or indifference; treat them tenderly with lovingkindness], so they will not lose heart and become discouraged or unmotivated [with their spirits broken]. (Colossians 3:21, AMP)

Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path. (Psalm 119:105, KJV)

I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you. (Psalm 119:11, NIV)

Keep my commands and you will live; guard my teachings as the apple of your eye. (Proverbs 7:2, NIV)

*Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day by Judy Viorst

All you need is prayer

Standard

Prayer is good for the soul. It connects us with our Creator. Our hearts, minds and will are molded, bent, and yielded to God’s will when we truly are seeking after Him. So, if this is all true, and we know that it is according to God’s Word, WHY is it that we don’t find ourselves in a posture of humility and prayer? Why do we think we can solve it all on our own, as if there’s some badge we’re aiming to attain declaring our wisdom? Why do we allow ourselves to be anxiety riddled trying to figure it all out on our own? And why do we go to Him only after we’ve exhausted all other options?

For me, I’m guilty as charged. I allow myself to get distracted by other things. I pray at mealtime, bedtime and over my husband as he heads out to work; the rest of the day, I find myself “sending sky grams,” as our former pastor used to say, which isn’t bad but on the other hand, isn’t near enough. God knows it all but we still need to be (get to be!) in a conversation with God. And a conversation is a two-way street, involving both listening and speaking. You can’t be in a true conversation with someone all the while running hither and yon, not focused on what you’re doing, spouting off a grocery list of needs. Sure, you can talk up a blue streak, but the most important part of a conversation is listening. Hate to break it to you, but to really listen, you have to be still and quiet.

My husband likes to tease me that when I’m in a conversation with a friend, I’m so focused on them and what they’re saying that the building I’m in could be on fire and I’d never know because I’m so “locked in,” as he says. Why do I do this you ask? Because I don’t want to miss out on important details of the conversation out of being distracted by what is going on all around me. Now, if I feel this way about a conversation with a dear friend, how much more should I defend and protect my time in conversation with the Lord?

I’m well-versed on how to pray and even assuming the posture of prayer. I have loved reading Pastor Cymbala’s books on the power of prayer, as well as many other wonderful reads over the years. I know prayer is where our power is found as believers in Christ. I mean, the God of the universe, Creator of all things, wants a conversation with me! That trumps (pardon the pun!) a phone call from the President of the United States!! However, I also know that our enemy hates for us to pray for this very reason. In fact, he will do whatever he can to distract us, stir up doubt and disbelief all to keep us in a place of defeat and spirit of hopelessness. Therefore, it becomes imperative for us to be intentional. Intentionally carving out time daily to not only be in God’s Word, but to be in constant conversation (prayer) with Him.

Once again, I’ve read and re-read books on praying for my husband; Stormie Omartian has some great resources! I want to be a prayerful wife, mother, daughter, friend….my desire is there and I’m confident this is where power and solutions are found, so I must ask God to help me carve out uninterrupted time daily. After all, we are in a battle for our marriages, children, families, and on and on it goes. I’m not dissing counseling, wise biblical counseling that is, but God’s Word is chock full of counsel if we’ll just open the Word and pray scripture. He should be our first go-to, not our friends or spouses. I’m confident I’d have much less stress if I’d simply go to Him first who is the only One who can advise me and give me the wisdom I’m seeking.

Will you join me in praying fervently for our homes to be a place of peace, our marriages to be shored up on the foundation of Christ, our children to thirst and hunger for the things of our Lord and coming to saving faith at an early age?