Revive Me #16–Be Marvelous!

Revive Me, Week 16–A Year of Growing Stronger in the Lord

Be Marvelous!

“Now when Jesus heard this, He marveled at him, and turned and said to the crowd that was following Him, ‘I say to you, not even in Israel have I found such great faith.'”

(Luke 7:9)

Reading about something that causes Jesus to marvel catches my attention.  What did that man do to amaze Jesus?  In the beginning of Luke 7, we read about a centurion whose slave was about to die.  He sent for Jesus.  When the centurion heard that Jesus was on the way, he sent messengers to Him to say He needn’t “trouble Himself” to come all the way under his roof.  He said, “Just say the word, and my servant will be healed” (v. 7).  He spoke of Jesus’ authority and power.  Simply put, the centurion’s speech revealed his great faith.

Words can also reveal weak faith.  When the disciples of Jesus experienced a storm, they said, “Save us, Lord; we are perishing!” Jesus said, “Why are you afraid, you men of little faith?” (Matt. 8:23-26).

Peter took a few brave steps onto the water but then he “became frightened” and began to sink.  He cried out, “Lord, save me!”  Jesus said, “You of little faith, why did you doubt?” (Matt. 14:28-31).

What does your speech reveal about your faith?

Is it obvious to those around you that your faith is great?  No matter what life throws at you, you’re quick to speak of the authority and power of Jesus.  You happily turn control over to Him.  You exude confidence and peace because of your trust in the One who can heal the broken and calm the storms.

Or  does your speech reveal a little faith?  You’re a fretter.  You’re easily overwhelmed.  You allow the things of this world to intimidate you.  When you experience a storm, your words reveal your fear.  When you begin to sink, your cries reveal your doubt.

I want Jesus to marvel at my faith, don’t you?

This week, be marvelous!  Create opportunities to declare your great faith.

Suggestions for the week:

1.  Marvelous is a terrific word.  Look it up.  Just reading the definition and its synonyms will make you feel good.

2.  Study the accounts of the centurion and his great faith (Matt. 8:5-13; Luke 7:1-10).  Also study the accounts of those who dismayed Jesus by their little faith (Matt. 6:30; 8:26; 14:31; 16:8).  What situations did these individuals find themselves in?  How did they react?

3.  Think of your specific storms.  How have you reacted?  Have you allowed fear and worry to weaken your faith?  What will you do and say to show your great faith?

4.  Be mindful of opportunities this week to cause others to marvel at your great faith.

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Revive Me #14- Speak Tenderly

Revive Me, Week 14– A Year of Growing Stronger in the Lord

Speak Tenderly

“Death and life are in the power of the tongue” (Prov. 18:21).

Death speech:

  • Attacking instead of defending a position with dignity— We are to “be ready to give a defense” (1 Pet. 3:15).  We are to be passionate about the Truth (Jude 3).  But in that passionate defense, we need to make sure we are not neglecting to “speak the truth in love” (Eph. 4:15).
  • Overusing sarcasm– When speaking to or about others, sarcasm can smack of arrogance.  Just because we’re quick-witted enough to use it doesn’t mean we should.  Let’s not be snarkastic (to borrow my husband’s word) when a gentle answer would be more powerful (Prov. 15:1).
  • Making disparaging remarks— When someone is struggling with personal battles, the last thing they need to hear when they show up for worship is, “What?  You don’t own a tie?”  We assume that others are strong enough to bear whatever we dish out but we don’t always know their spiritual state.  Our innocent but thoughtless remarks could cause someone to leave feeling beat down instead of built up.
  • Speaking in exasperation— Since we spend the most time with our families, we can have more moments of irritation and annoyance with them.  Let’s be sure to cherish those relationships by interacting with patience and respect.

If a loved one is the one being discouraged by the words of another, we feel very protective and indignant. We wonder why someone didn’t think before they spoke, why they thought it was okay to be so free with their careless opinion.  We need to feel that same level of protection toward everyone.  We will be held accountable for what we say/ post to or about others (Matt. 12:36).

Life Speech:

  • Building others up— It doesn’t take much effort but oh what good can be done by thoughtful words (1 Thess. 5:11)!
  • Commending/ praising/ blessing others– This is one way we can look to the interests of others (Phil. 2:3,4)
  • Loving others— We’re commanded to love one another (1 John 4:7,8) so why shouldn’t we tell each other we do?
  • Sharing the good news– The best way to give life is to tell about the One who is Life (John 14:6).
  • Expressing gratitude— I don’t think it can be overdone.
  • Encouraging others– Many are quietly serving.  We can encourage them by telling them they make a difference.

To speak tenderly means to speak lovingly and gently.  Let’s determine to speak tenderly in every interaction.  We represent Christ.  Our life-giving words will clearly demonstrate that.

Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear. Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.

(Eph. 4:29-32)

Suggestions for the Week:

  1.   Use the power of your tongue this week to encourage:
  • Face to face– Make it your mission to encourage at least 15 different people
  • Social media– 10 posts that will encourage the church as a whole or a specific person
  • Email– send to 5 different people pointing out their strengths
  • Traditional mail– Write to 3 different people thanking them for their service
  • Phone– Call a shut-in to brighten their day

2.  When communicating in whatever form, remember the words of  Thumper.

3.  Focus your personal Bible study this week on the power of the tongue.

4.  Ask God to help you see when you are being thoughtless or careless with remarks.

Study it. Memorize it. Live it.

deep love quotes

 

 

Revive Me, Week 7– Stop Complaining

Revive Me, Week 7– A Year of Growing Stronger in the Lord

Stop Complaining

“Stop”- to not do something that you have been doing before; to not continue doing something

That little reminder of the definition of “stop” is for myself.  I admit this challenge will be tough for me.  I don’t like to think of myself as a whiner or negative person and yet I realize that I have found ways to complain anyway.  I certainly have tried to justify it.

If I only complain to my husband, it doesn’t really count.

If I have a legitimate cause for complaint, surely it’s understandable.

I think I’ve even figured out how to disguise complaints.  I can word them in such a way that makes it sound like I’m only asking a question.  But complaining is complaining.  What’s the big deal?  Well, when I take the time to focus on Scriptures about complaining, I see that God thinks it’s a big deal.

“Now the people became like those who complain of adversity in the hearing of the Lord, and when the Lord heard it, His anger was kindled…” (Num. 11:1).

“Do all things without grumbling or disputing” (Phil. 2:14).

“Do not complain, brethren, against one another, so that you yourselves may not be judged” (James 5:9).

“Be hospitable to one another without complaint” (1 Pet. 4:9).

In 1 Cor. 10, we read that God was not “well-pleased” with the Israelites.  “Now these things happened as examples for us, so that we would not crave evil things as they also craved” (v. 6).  What “evil things” did they crave?  While they were in the wilderness, they were guilty of idolatry, immorality, and complaining.  “Nor grumble, as some of them did, and were destroyed by the destroyer. Now these things happened to them as an example, and they were written for our instruction…” (v. 10,11).  Twice in the text Paul writes that the behavior of the Israelites and their consequences are an example for us.  Is complaining really as bad as idolatry and immorality?  Yikes.  

I’m ready to remove complaining from my speech and my mind.  I’m ready to nip it in the bud.  I want need to set a better example for my husband, my sons, and anyone else who is around when I open my mouth.  I don’t want to sound like the world.  Even more than that, I realize that complaining comes from discontentment and ingratitude.  God’s children are the most blessed in this life and have still more to come in the next.  How can I waste my breath grumbling when there’s so much for which to rejoice?

Challenges for the week:

  1.  “Go 24 hours without complaining (not even once).  Then watch how your life starts changing” (Katrina Mayer).  Complaining is a habit.  Take the challenge, one day at a time!
  2.  Tell someone that you’re trying to kick the complaining habit.  Ask them to help catch you when you gripe.
  3.  Keep an index card in your pocket.  Every time you complain, make a tally mark.  See how you do at the end of each day.  Hopefully your marks will get fewer and fewer as you learn to catch yourself.
  4. Replace complaining with blessing counting.  When you think a complaint, voice a blessing instead.
  5. Read this excellent and convicting article by Erynn Sprouse.

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Ways to LOVE MORE in 2015

What can we do that will really make an impact on others?  How can we draw others to Christ?  If that’s an important goal for you in this new year, you’ve probably already considered the words of Jesus when He shared the main way that we prove our Christianity.

“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another.  By THIS all men will know that you are MY disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:34,35, emphases mine).

If our love for one another shows the world that we belong to Christ, what does the world think when we display anything less than love?  In an effort to change/ teach/ enlighten others in the Lord’s body, we must be very careful that anyone reading or hearing our words can only think, “My, how they love each other!”  So what are some ways we can accomplish that?

  • Limit use of sarcasm, and remove snarky remarks altogether (Prov. 15:1; Col. 4:6)
  • Make sure the majority of our remarks and writings paint the Lord’s church in a positive light (Psa. 133:1)
  • Get in the habit of daily looking for ways to compliment and encourage other Christians (Rom. 12:10)
  • Avoid a reputation of being deliberately controversial (2 Tim. 2:24,25; Eph. 4:29-31)
  • Focus on unifying the body instead of promoting strife (John 17:22,23; Phil. 2:1-3; Rom. 12:6; 1 Cor. 1:10)
  • Inject much more sweetness in speech and in writing (Prov. 16:24)
  • Be ever so gentle in defense of the gospel (1 Pet. 3:15)
  • Practice patience, even if attacked or wronged (2 Tim. 2:24,25)
  • Think, think, think before speaking or posting (Prov. 12:18; 15:28)
  • Share more Word than opinion (Col. 3:16; Prov. 15:2)
  • Remember that true wisdom and kindness go hand in hand (Prov. 31:26)

As we strive to be salt and light, let’s also make it very obvious that everything we say and do is motivated by love.

Prayer for Today:  Grow our love for one another, Lord, so we can draw others to You.

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How to have a Real Conversation

Yesterday, Neal and I enjoyed a great conversation with a 95-year-old man.  In the course of our brief time together, he said things like:

  • I celebrate our relationship.
  • A Scripture I read the other day reminded me…
  • In Romans 12…
  • Have you seen this great article in the Gospel Advocate?
  • Let’s sing a couple of songs.
  • May we pray together?

Anyone who knows this man knows that his speech is often seasoned with spiritual substance.  Sprinkled throughout talk of the Rockies, our boys, and his grandchildren, this sterling gentleman naturally referenced God’s Word, the Lord’s church, and the beauty of Heaven.  We did sing together, just the three of us.  “Angels are Singing” and “Be with me, Lord” never sounded so sweet!

I keep thinking back over that conversation.  It was so REAL because it was filled with eternal matters.  I’ve known and admired this man for over eight years, but I was still caught off guard a couple of times by his seemingly unorthodox requests.  “Let’s sing a couple of songs.”  What, right now?  “I’d like for you to read these two paragraphs I found about Ephesians One.”  If we’re reading, no one is talking.  But the silence was only mildly uncomfortable at first.  Then it seemed natural and right and beneficial.

I’m grateful for the example of how to have a real conversation.  Too often I get caught up in going through the polite motions, saying what’s expected, or neglecting opportunities to encourage.  I loved the multiple references to God’s Word and I was especially drawn to how naturally they flowed from this Christian man’s lips.  I saw him as a real man who knows how to talk about real things.

Neal and I left smiling and refreshed.  One conversation did that for us because of its substance.  I’ve been thinking back over the interactions I’ve had this week and I’m challenged to engage in more REAL (face to face) conversations with my husband, my children, my church family, close friends, and with my neighbors.

For those who live according to the flesh

set their minds on the things of the flesh, 

but those who live according to the Spirit, 

the things of the Spirit.

–Romans 8:5

Prayer for Today:  Help me, Lord, to have a mind so set on You that my words more often mirror Yours.

*This post can also be found at http://proverbs14verse1.blogspot.com/2014/08/wise-woman-linkup_13.html.

 

A Nagging Woman is in the House

“Hen-pecked” is great imagery because it’s easy to picture that sharp-beaked chicken peck, peck, pecking an innocent bystander.  The Bible minces no words when describing the nagging woman.  No one wants to be around her (Prov. 21:9) and she is as annoying as a continual drip on a rainy day (Prov. 27:15).

Godly wives try to avoid nagging.  We don’t want to make our husbands miserable and we know God expects us to respect and honor them (Eph. 5:33).  But I don’t think the home is the only place where nagging women can be found.  Nagging involves persistent fault-finding, criticizing, grumbling, and harassing.  If we’re not careful, we can become the constant dripping in the church.  The shrew on the pew:

  • Watches members with a critical eye.  You can see her lift her eyebrows when she spies a teen with an odd hairstyle or a youth minister laughing too loudly.
  • Knows what’s best for everyone.  She tsk-tsks at the antics of young couples or the decisions made by the elders.  She doubts most people really know what they’re doing.
  • Stirs up trouble.  She can’t seem to help dropping a whispered word here and there questioning the character of unsuspecting brothers and sisters.
  • Is never satisfied.  In her mind, no one calls enough, visits enough, or cares enough.
  • Doubts the sincerity of others.  When others offer a kind word or gesture, she questions their motives or assumes they’re only duty-driven.

Harpies in the house of the Lord create an unwelcome, harsh environment.  Women truly play a big role in the overall tone of the church.  Am I compassionate and encouraging?  Or am I quick to peck God’s family to death?

Prayer for Today:  Thank you, Lord, for women who demonstrate Your love to all the saints.

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I See Good People

You find what you’re looking for, right?   I appreciate all those who use social media to encourage others and there are lots!  Below you’ll find just a glimpse of all the good people I’ve seen this past week.  Enjoy, and happy Monday!

1.  Tweeted by Allen Webster:

To free yourself from guilt, you must practice the 4 R’s:

  •  Repentance Acts 8:22
  • Restitution Lk. 19:8
  • Reformation Rm. 6:4
  • Rejoicing Psa. 51:12

2.  Because I LOVE it when spouses encourage each other, here’s a post by Kara Davidson to her husband (with permission, of course):

You did an amazing job with your sermons the past few weeks! Linder is so blessed to have two outstanding ministers! Love you!

3.  Beautiful, beautiful blog post about anxiety by Emily Hatfield…prepare to be touched:

http://emilyhat.com/be-anxious-for-nothing/

4.  Sweet friend Wendy Chesser keeping it real on facebook:

Ya know, when you are asked to lead a prayer for a Ladies event (and you are too embarrassed to say no) and you want the truth about how you did….just ask your 14 year-old daughter, who replied to my asking, by saying, “Well, it was nice, but….you kinda’ made this giant sniff and everybody heard the snot rattle in your nose”…just like to apologize for that!!! ;O)”

5.  From my favorite humorist, Celine Sparks:

I thought I would count a different kind of sheep in order to get to sleep last night. I would think of a preacher for each letter of the alphabet (first name). I got all the way to Alan Highers.

6.  Under the category of Practical and Outstanding, Neal Pollard‘s blog article about what to do when you’re given the cold shoulder:

http://preacherpollard.wordpress.com/2014/02/26/warming-up-the-cold-shoulder/

7.  Wise facebook post from consummate encourager, Jeff Archey:

I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvelous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well” (Ps. 139:14). Was reading this AM and it brought to mind the commercial of the couple at the concert looking for their little boy and they looked on the stage and there he was…seated at the piano of the world renowned entertainer everyone gathered to see. The little boy was playing “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star” as a child would when the entertainer walked up behind him, paused and looked and said, “Keep playing.” The famous pianist added in notes and melodies and it harmonized beautifully. Like that little child, we as children of God have days that may be gloomy and down; sometime boring to ourselves and others. But as we are “fearfully and wonderfully made,” our Father God grants us individuals and moments that brings forth the melodies in our lives and it harmonizes beautifully to His glory. Look for them daily…it starts with me…and you.  Let’s keep playing…and keep living.”

8.  New on the scene:

-Written by Christian young men, check out “Let No One Look Down” on facebook       and at their blog site:

http://redbirdsfan6.wordpress.com/

-Terrific posts by Shanna Anderson!  Follow her new blog and be sure to like her facebook page as well (Life in the Cleft):

http://lifeinthecleft.com/

Prayer for Today:  Bless those, Lord, who encourage others by their words and actions.

*This post can also be found at http://proverbs14verse1.blogspot.com/2014/03/wise-woman-linkup.html.

Writers of “Let No One Look Down” (Photo credit: Neal Pollard)

If Complaining is Your Weakness…

Discontentment can rear its ugly head in multiple areas of our lives.  If only I had a bigger house.  If only my spouse would try harder.  I wish our church members were different.  No one understands me.  I’m the only one doing all the work.  When these types of thoughts take root in our hearts, the words coming out of our mouths sound more and more like complaints.

Why complain about what we don’t have?  We should be content with what the Lord has given us.  Why complain about someone else’s character?  Everyone else can observe it as well as we can.  Why complain about the state of our nation?  The world hears enough of that, and we’re trying to draw others to Christ.  Does complaining attract or repel?  Why complain about the shortcomings of the Lord’s church?  It seems like we should spend more time voicing the blessings of being in God’s family so our coworkers and neighbors will want to know more about it.

Oh, I am stepping ALL OVER my toes.  So if complaining is a weakness of yours as well, here is a little list of quotes and Scriptures to print and post.  May we all use our tongues to spread the grace and love of Jesus Christ in 2014.

  • “Go 24 hours without complaining (not even once).  Then watch how your life starts changing.”  (Katrina Mayer)
  • Do ALL things without complaining or disputing” (Phil. 2:14).
  • Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers” (Eph. 4:29).
  • “But let the thankful heart sweep through the day and, as the magnet finds the iron, so it will find, in every hour, some heavenly blessings!”  (Henry Ward Beecher)
  • Do not grumble against one another, brethren, lest you be condemned” (James 5:9).
  • “It is not how much we have, but how much we enjoy, that makes happiness.”  (Charles Haddon Spurgeon)
  • Now when the people complained, it displeased the Lord; for the Lord heard it, and His anger was aroused” (Num. 11:1).
  • Now these things became our examples, to the intent that we should not lust after evil things, as they also lusted…nor complain, as some of them also complained, and were destroyed by the destroyer” (1 Cor. 10:6-11).
  • “It is amazing how many occasions present themselves in which I can choose gratitude instead of a complaint. I can choose to grateful when I am criticized, even when my heart still responds in bitterness. I can choose to speak about goodness and beauty, even when my inner eye still looks for someone to accuse or something to call ugly.” (Henri J.M. Nouwen)
  • “You say, ‘If I had a little more, I should be very satisfied.’ You make a mistake. If you are not content with what you have, you would not be satisfied if it were doubled.” (Charles Haddon Spurgeon)
  • Be hospitable to one another without grumbling” (1 Pet. 4:9).
  •  “Had we not faults of our own, we should take less pleasure in complaining of others.”  (Francois Fenelon)
  • “Ultimately, all our complaints are directed against God.”  (Woodrow Kroll)
  • Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you” (1 Thess. 5:16-18).

Prayer for Today:  May I strive to be more like Your Son who, even when oppressed and afflicted, ‘opened not His mouth.’

Paula Deen and Same Sex Rights

These are the two big news items this morning.  Notice the approach to each of them.  Paula Deen was interviewed on the Today Show.  She tearfully begged anyone who has never committed a sin to cast the first stone.  So far the reaction has been one of outrage that she didn’t apologize for her offensive remarks, but seemed more concerned with defending herself.  What was the reaction concerning the Supreme Court ruling on same sex marriage?  Words like “victory,” “boost,” and “celebration” are being used.  We’ve been told this is a historic decision for America, and have already been reminded of the Gay Pride parade that will take place in San Francisco this weekend.

Is the media trying to lead viewers in moral matters?  We’re being told which sins are socially acceptable and which ones aren’t.  Paula Deen said some things that were wrong.  She’s been fired by Food Network, but the media is still demanding an apology.  People are outraged and speaking out against her for what she did.  Well, she should be held accountable.  The words we use matter, and we’re all going to give an account for everything we say (Matthew 12:36).  But there are other sins that can be committed by mouth.  Why is it okay for public figures to use curse words or take God’s name in vain?  And why wasn’t the same outrage displayed when the sin of homosexuality was publicly declared and embraced?

We don’t get to choose which sins can be tolerated and which ones can’t.  Even more basic, we don’t get to choose which practices are sinful.  God has already done that in His Word.  Our speech is to be pure (Ephesians 4:29), but our sexual activities are to be pure as well (1 Corinthians 6:9,10; Ephesians 5:3).  Trouble is in store for those who accept or tolerate what God calls sin.  “Woe to those who call evil good  and good evil…who are wise in their own eyes and prudent in their own sight” (Isaiah 5:20-22).  May the Word only guide us in determining what is right and what is wrong.

Prayer for Today:  May we shine the Light ever brighter in our confused nation as we seek to glorify You.

Photo copied from HollywoodLife.com

Shining or Shaming?

Teaching (and even admonishing) can be done without insulting or disparaging others.  Righteous indignation is something Christians will and should feel, but surely that doesn’t give us the right to passionately belittle others.  How we speak is just as important as what we speak.  And although tone is not as easily “heard” in print, word choice conveys quite a bit of the attitude behind the writer.  When making a point, orally or typewritten, consider the following reasons to omit offensive language:

To practice the Golden Rule.  We all want to learn and grow, which involves being reproved at times.  But none of us wants an insult included with the rebuke.  We would feel personally attacked instead of lovingly corrected.  We would ask the one teaching or admonishing us to do so without being ugly or smart-alecky.  So if we prefer to be taught with respect, why would it be okay to teach someone else in a disrespectful way (Matt. 7:12)?

To avoid sounding like the world.  Rudeness and name-calling are all around us.  We’re to act differently, and react differently.  Our words when teaching, correcting, or convincing need to be obviously loving, or we’re guilty of conforming to the world in an area the Bible places great emphasis on–our speech (Col. 4:6).

To demonstrate love.  The people in our lives that we dearly love sometimes need admonishing.  How do we speak to them?  Patiently.  Kindly.  Tenderly.  We would never dream of hurting or ridiculing them; we just want to help them!  So we choose our words carefully in hopes of conveying that.  If love is our motivation behind convicting others, let’s make sure no one ever has to question that (1 Cor. 13:4).

To avoid detracting from the message.  Some might think that using scorn or derision makes what we have to say more emphatic.  It emphasizes something alright.  It emphasizes the personality of the speaker/ teacher.  Is that the objective?  Speaking the truth in a respectful way does not dilute it or make it less meaningful.  On the contrary, it shows we care about getting it right (Eph. 4:15).

To represent the Lord’s church accurately.  The world is watching and listening.  They see our interactions with one another.  What are they supposed to think when they see us insulting others (while supposedly standing for what’s right), using words like “stupid,” “idiotic,” etc.?  They know disrespect when they see it, and it has no business coming out of the mouths (or keyboards) of Christians (John 13:35).

We must teach and admonish, but we must also be careful to do so in a way that shines the Light instead of shaming the church.

Prayer for Today:  Lord, may my passionate convictions be tempered with the tongue of lovingkindness.