Are You a Word-Sniper…or is Every Word a Gift?

Sea Lions arguing 2

 James 1:19-20 (NIV)
19  My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry,
20  for man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires.

Years ago, when my children were small, I was surprised to find that I was becoming impatient. My words came too quickly and they weren’t “hearing” the fact that I was repeating and getting louder didn’t help.

These verses in James changed my life. I became aware that I was getting impatient because I couldn’t get my point across.  I was desperate for them to listen and obey and I was getting more and more impatient in the process.

But the point in this verse was that the anger of man…my anger…was not going to bring about the righteousness of God in them…or in me.  I realized what would develop character in the three of us, was to learn to be more patient, more strategic in disciplining…not impatience and exasperation.  Taking on this discipline myself would bring new creativity and character into my life, model it to my children and create in them more of the righteous life that God desires.

Fast forward forty-something years later.  Here we are in the world of texting and tweeting and Facebook. Our responsibility to apply these verses is even greater, as our sphere of influence is greater.

We can hide and snipe and think we do no harm…maybe even do a little good.  Don’t kid yourself. We are creating impatient character within ourselves and…stoking the fire in others.

When you think of where our nation (the world) is today…the lack of harmony, the killing, leaders who snipe at each other, lie and harm to gain whatever it is that they want, at times you might feel helpless. I know I do.

But we can pray, and we can do our part in our own sphere of influence. We can decide to take these verse on as our own…right within our home…and beyond.

Too little influence?  Whether in your family or outside your family, your example…your life…is influencing the character of those in your sphere!  Period.

Whether or not you have chosen to be a word-sniper in your home, or on your electronics, you are (directly or indirectly) influencing lives. You might be influencing the life of someone inside or outside of your family that you have no idea is paying attention. It could be the life of someone who is confused and hurting and you don’t even know it.

Maybe even someone with a Facebook account and…a weapon in a closet that (because of your choice to take on the discipline of living by these verses) will never find its way into his or her hand.

Ephesians 4:29 (ESV)
29  Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.

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Teach Us Lord…Keep Us Corrected and Faithful…

orange green black bird san diego

Psalm 119:33-40 (NIV)
33  Teach me, O LORD, to follow your decrees; then I will keep them to the end.
34  Give me understanding, and I will keep your law and obey it with all my heart.
35  Direct me in the path of your commands, for there I find delight.
36  Turn my heart toward your statutes and not toward selfish gain.
37  Turn my eyes away from worthless things; preserve my life according to your word.
38  Fulfill your promise to your servant, so that you may be feared.
39  Take away the disgrace I dread, for your laws are good.
40  How I long for your precepts! Preserve my life in your righteousness.

Yes LORD…for us all.

This…THIS…is what we need.

You are Creator-God, Loving-God, the Beginning and the End.

You created beauty that we cannot fathom in nature…the whimsical, beautiful, stunning touches…the humor.

Thank you for loving us that much!

Teach us these Psalm 119 things, LORD…may we do each of those things and truly be humbled and repentant when we do not.

Amen…

 

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Memories…Jesus is Your Friend…

butterfly Lighter

Memories…Jesus is Your Friend…

Think about two or three of your favorite memories. You know, the ones that bring a smile to your heart. That heart-smile sometimes even makes its way to your lips…though it may have been years ago. Maybe it was as recent as this morning!

Are the memories more about where you were and what you are doing…or who you were with?

Had you been with someone else…even just laughing with someone else, the memory would not have the same impact…the same joy.

You and your daughter, son, spouse or friend connected in that particular conversation or excursion in a way that it could not have happened with anyone else. If you are remembering it right now…you are feeling it. Each time you remember it…you feel the joy.

Here is my blessing for you:

Go with God.

Literally.

Walk and talk with Jesus in all that you do. As Him for His Presence. He is the healthiest relationship you will ever experience.

No matter the events of today or tomorrow your joy will be fuller, your peace better, your wisdom and restraint ever growing more complete.

And tonight…when your head hits the pillow and you think of the events of the day, some of your most precious memories (whether losses or gains) will be of how obvious it is that He was with you.

Jesus…is your friend. The One who makes your joy more complete.

John 15:9 (Phillips NT)
9  “I have loved you just as the Father has loved me. You must go on living in my love. If you keep my commandments you will live in my love just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and live in his love. I have told you this so that you can share my joy, and that your happiness may be complete. This is my commandment: that you love each other as I have loved you. There is no greater love than this – that a man should lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I tell you to do. I shall not call you servants any longer, for a servant does not share his master’s confidence. No, I call you friends, now, because I have told you everything that I have heard from the Father.

 

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Your Assignment…Should You Accept it…

pretty good - eye is clear

Your Assignment…Should You Accept it…

Here, Paul instructs Timothy (and us) on how to live his life:

2 Timothy 2:22-26 (ESV)
22  So flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart.
23  Have nothing to do with foolish, ignorant controversies; you know that they breed quarrels.
24  And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil,
25  correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth,
26  and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will.

Does this paint a picture of what you feel is being lived out in our nation’s leadership or in the people of our nation? If it was the true nature of our nation, do you think we would hear much about it in the media?

But what about in our own lives? Do those verses describe the way you are pursuing life and therefore leading by example for those in your sphere?

Everything about this passage (and so many others in God’s word) tells us to do life patiently, lovingly, wisely and in doing so, we give those in our sphere the best opportunity to live life well.

We want to be informed. Yet, since media information constantly highlights the irreverent dishonesty of our leaders and the destructive voices/actions of our fellow Americans, being informed can leave us feeling nearly hopeless.

Still… we have a responsibility to be informed!  At the very least, being informed will light a fire under conservative Americans and propel us to get out there and vote! Being informed will make us aware that we could lose the house and senate in a couple of weeks unless we do vote!

Honestly though, rather than focusing purely on despair about what is going on in our world, we really must look at our own lives. It is the only hope to make a difference for today…and the generations to come!

You want to feel there is hope? You want to make a difference? Take responsibility for your own life and make a difference in your own little sphere. This is the part of the nation God has assigned you!

The best way to start is to begin praying this prayer daily…and mean it!

Psalm 51:10-13 (ESV)
10  Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.
11  Cast me not away from your presence, and take not your Holy Spirit from me.
12  Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit.
13  Then I will teach transgressors your ways, and sinners will return to you.

 

 

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Precious in the Sight of the LORD is the Homegoing of His Saints…

bastrop tree bridge water

Precious in the Sight of the LORD is the Homegoing of His Saints…

We attended the memorial service for the 23-year-old son and grandson of dear friends. Four years ago, Josh was in a terrible accident at age 19 and has been challenged in every way imaginable since that day.

His parents, grandparents, siblings, medical staff and friends have done a beautiful job of enhancing his life in every conceivable way. Between Josh and those around him…God has been glorified through this painful process. Here is an earlier post from his grandmother:

Our 23 year old grandson, Joshua, went to his home in heaven and has been made whole. He can now talk (which he loved to do) and walk and worship at the feet of Jesus. He was a warrior these past 4 years following a terrible car accident that caused severe injury to his brain stem. He had to breath through a trach and be fed through a peg in his stomach. He couldn’t talk so he learned to communicate with his eyes on a special computer screen. Early in his recovery, he would play Tic Tac Toe with his siblings and often win. He always loved people and would show off when a new nursing student would come for the day by asking their name using the computer. There are so many things I could share about the last four years but the greatest thing is the lessons we all learned: how to love like Josh, how to be generous like Josh, how to be thankful even in the difficult times. Our Joshie will be missed but never forgotten. Thank you, dear friends, for your prayers and emotional support the past 4 years.

Josh’s dad, John, spoke at the memorial service. It was a powerful word to all of us. He talked about how none of this journey was in vain, not the love and care invested in Josh, not the pain, not the prayers, not the hopes. John reminded us that through Josh’s journey (and our own) our God sustains and strengthens. He is using every part of Josh’s journey to touch each life involved. Josh’s strength, perseverance, joy and love touched lives. This four-year experience and his short twenty-three years on this earth will continue to touch lives.

Years ago, God gave me this verse after the loss of my precious aunt. To know that the heart of God sees Josh’s homegoing in this way is one of His tender mercies/gifts to those who love Josh so. It is a gift to you, as well:

Psalm 116:15 (ESV)
15 Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of his saints.

As I pray for this sweet family, I know that this is still a long journey…no doubt very different for each person.

I would love it if you would pray for them along with me.

Thank you…

 

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Judge Brett Kavanaugh and…TRUTH!

blue crane jpg flying

Judge Brett Kavanaugh and…TRUTH!

Regarding Judge Brett Kavanaugh, we have been praying for the truth. While we tend to believe him because of his adult life of respect for women and a seemingly exemplary life…there is the drinking that seems to be excessive during his high school college years. So there are…some niggling questions that will likely never be answered.

Of course, there is…media and politics.  One side is going to believe him no matter what and the other wants him crushed no matter what. Supreme Court decisions hang in the balance.

So…in our house, we have prayed for the truth.

Yes…the truth will set you free, but you must truly want to see and know the truth! We have to be capable of setting our own bias and self-interests aside. In our nation, that appears to be almost nonexistent. Yet…we only see what the media shows us. We all know there has to be more sanity out there…more truth…more character.

This morning I was reading about pilot giving Jesus over to the crowd to be tortured and killed.   The account reminded me of the political climate of today. Those who hated Jesus could see nothing else.  They didn’t like what he stood for and they didn’t like what He was doing to their dishonest/self-serving way of approaching life.

Pilot could see that Jesus was not the terrible man being described to him, but there is a key phrase that highlights what was happening in that day and in ours: “So Pilate, wishing to satisfy the crowd, released for them Barabbas and having scourged Jesus, he delivered him to be crucified.”

Don’t twist this…I am not saying Kavanaugh should be compared to Jesus. I am saying that human nature and the political insanity of our day are similar to the time of Jesus.

Just as in Jesus’ day, truth gets buried because our politicians and media are, “wishing to satisfy the crowd”.  Why? Because men and women are wishing to satisfy their own self-interests. There are political careers and wallets to be considered. There is the pride…always pride…that can easily fuel the fire of dishonesty in order to keep a high-ranking position or be the first reporter to tell the biggest story. There are special interest groups who refuse to see the forest for the trees and every-day people who are too biased to pray for truth.

THE TRUTH…is what sets us free. Not any truth…THE TRUTH. Not what is “your truth”…or “my truth”…but THE TRUTH…is what truly sets us free.

TRUTH established the foundation of our country in unprecedented freedom. But TRUTH is being drowned out by the loudest voices and those who want to please the crowds.

The answer is…and always has been:

John 8:31-38 (ESV)
31  So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples,
32  and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
33  They answered him, “We are offspring of Abraham and have never been enslaved to anyone. How is it that you say, ‘You will become free’?”
34  Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who practices sin is a slave to sin.
35  The slave does not remain in the house forever; the son remains forever.
36  So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.
37  I know that you are offspring of Abraham; yet you seek to kill me because my word finds no place in you.
38  I speak of what I have seen with my Father, and you do what you have heard from your father.”

We must…pray for Truth!

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A Christmas Coat…Marriage…And Other Important Things…

ash britt under tree

Psalm 32:8 (HCSB)8  I will instruct you and show you the way to go; with My eye on you, I will give counsel.

Now that my granddaughters are older, we shop for their Christmas gifts together. The four of us peruse the stores… my daughter, two granddaughters and me…always such fun! This time, Ashley had already found her stylish, cozy-lined leather jackets.  Brittany was looking for a coat to wear with her dresses.

Today’s styles can be pretty “average” if you aren’t willing to do the search.  As she got tired, she was tempted to settle for one that wasn’t quite right. It didn’t quite fit. I knew she didn’t really like it so I said, “If you don’t love it in the store, you are going to hate it in your closet.” Though we were all getting weary,  I was tickled that she decided to keep searching.  It was exciting when only a store or two later she found “the perfect coat”.  It was adorable…it was custom made for her style and personality.  It just screamed “Brittany”. On sale…every puzzle piece in place…perfect.

Later I was looking for a purse and found one that wasn’t quite right.  Funny enough,  I was tempted to settle.  Brittany said, “Manna, if you aren’t sure…you should keep looking…I did and I found my coat.”  I smiled at the thought of her gently using my words against me (for me). I took that precious brown-eyed blessing’s advice.  I will shop for a purse another day.

In what area of life are you tempted to settle? Are you making the choice to believe God has something particular in mind for you?  We say we believe He has our best in mind.  We say we believe the delays, and yes…the pain, are His and for a purpose.  And yet…how many times do we settle for something less and then struggle to make it work for a very long time…even the rest of our lives.

For a minute let’s think of one of the most important decisions of our lives…marriage.  Why in the world settle for a partner that isn’t really a fit in the store, when it is a certainty that he or she will be less of a fit in our real and daily life. Struggles are eminent even when we choose the perfect fit.  When we settle,   the laughter, adventure and oneness that should have been there simply are not.  We miss out on so much because we choose out of the fear that someone better might not come along or because we are tired of being alone or tired of the emptiness…the search.

We miss out on so much when we simply settle regarding other life choices which have nothing to do with a marriage partner.

What a lack of faith and patience and God-given hope we are prone to live out.  We have important choices to make based on the words we say we believe:  He has my best in mind…He has yours.  His timing is perfect in your life and mine. 

 No matter what your tiring search is or how long it has been going on…as the loneliness and exhaustion set in…trust Him…make the choice to believe what you say you believe and step back into His loving arms.

Don’t settle…wait….rest in Him…

Choose!

(Originally Posted November, 2015)

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