Christian love · Family life · friends · home · Husband · joy · Love · Marriage · obedience · Refreshment in marriage · Women's roles

Foolish Choices that Could Destroy Your Marriage

treea.jpg
Someone told me recently that they had enjoyed reading my blog until they began reading my posts about The Foolish Woman! They were teasing, but the implication was that it’s not always easy to read things that hit home and bring conviction. I trust that you will read on anyway, and consider the description of the foolish woman from Proverbs 7.

Proverbs 7:6-10 reads, “For at the window of my house I looked through my casement. And beheld among the simple ones, I discerned among the youths, a young man void of understanding, passing through the street near her (the foolish woman’s) corner, and he went the way to her house, In the twilight, in the evening, in the black and dark night: And, behold, there met him a woman with the attire of an harlot and subtil of heart.”

I see here that another foolish characteristic of this woman is the choices she makes. She’s going out in the evening when it is dark outside. This is a romantic setting and she is setting herself and this foolish man up for a huge fall by being out at this time of night. She has no concern how this might look to others who might see her standing on the street alone with this man.

What a warning this must be to us! We have to let our mind run ahead to look out for situations that could put our testimony at jeopardy. Some potential danger zones would be:

  • Having a man in your home when you are there alone.
  • Listening to a man tell you about his marriage problems or you talking to him about yours.
  • Sending private emails to men (Why not send a carbon copy to his wife?).
  • Having chats with men on the Internet.
  • Riding alone in the car with a man.

Some may say, “My goodness! Are you suspicious of everyone?” No, but we need to make good, wise choices before we are in a situation that destroys our testimony and possibly our marriage.   What seems harmless could lead to other things.

If we guard our hearts and are also thoughtful enough to protect the men around us, we will know that our choices will label us as wise instead of foolish.

Were any of these surprising to you?

Make wise choices and guard your marriage.

Denise Signature 150 px

Encouragement · friends · God's character · Life

Refreshing Your Own Heart

Spring dining room A

This week I shared some advice given to me on “How to Refresh the Hearts of Others.”  But has your own heart ever ached and wished someone would come and minister to you?  I understand.

This week has been full of activity, ministry and needs.  One morning when things seemed to be spinning out of control, I stopped – literally stopped with tears in my eyes and my heart pounding with frustration and the feeling of being overwhelmed.  I turned my heart to the Lord.  I told Him my burdens, my frustrations, and my need.  At the end of my prayer I said, “Lord, please show me what to do.”

It wasn’t much later after that the Spirit of God spoke to my heart, directing my steps in a clear, biblical answer. My plans were to head out the door to join others in a good thing – we were to pray together – but the Lord said,

“Be still.  Pray here.”  

I thought, “Really? That makes so much sense! Yes, Lord!  Thank you!”

I let my friends know I wouldn’t be joining them where they were gathered, but I did join them at the Throne of Grace from my home.  It kept me from running there, running back, then running to prep for another obligation later in the day.

It gave me rest.

It calmed my heart.

No one but the Lord could have done that.

Now I slowed my pace.  I took time to pray for the needs of others.  I cleaned the mess that was around me.  I added a few touches of decor in my dining room. I listened to a podcast while I worked.   It wasn’t long at all until my own heart was truly refreshed.  I was thankful that it had come completely from the Lord’s directives speaking into my heart and not from a person.  It made me so thankful for the reminder that God cares about every detail of my life – even the little things that can trouble my heart.

My need was so simple, really, and I know there are times when there are HUGE needs, but there is nothing too big for Him to handle!  When you have a hurt, confusion, anxiety, burden or longing that causes your heart to be filled with emptiness and longing, what do you do when God sends no one to your doorstep, your pew at church, or your side?

  1. Recognize the need to go to prayer and tell Christ about what’s on your heart.  He already knows, of course, but this isn’t for His benefit, it’s for yours.  Stopping to put that longing into words and tell the Lord is so helpful. Divine intervention is what you need, and if you don’t ask, how will you receive it? This time of prayer also makes us realize that we are completely dependent on Him.  That’s always the best place to find ourselves, because He is omnipotent!  In the day of my trouble I will call upon thee: for thou wilt answer me. Psalm 86:7
  2. While in prayer, ask God for His wisdom for the next step.  What do you do after you finish praying?  Without God’s help, you’ll be just as hopeless as before if you don’t have His direction for the next moment. But the path of the just is as the shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day. Prov. 4:18
  3. Look for verses of promise regarding your situation and meditate on their truth.   If you can’t think of one off the top of your head, or you don’t have your Bible with you, Google it!  We ask Google for other things we need information on, right?  Use it now!  Google Bible Verses on God’s Provision  or Bible verses on Comfort.  A list will come up that can anchor your heart with Truth!!!  Know therefore that the LORD thy God, he is God, the faithful God, which keepeth covenant and mercy with them that love him and keep his commandments to a thousand generations. Deut. 7:9 
  4. Listen to music that will minister to your heart and calm you.  It’s amazing what good music will do.  I love to listen to instrumental music that points my heart to God.  It brings peace and a reminder of Who He is!
  5. Don’t isolate yourself!  Get with others that will encourage you.  It’s easy to want to sulk and be alone, but you need other believers to help you – even if they never hear a word from you about your trouble.  Invite a friend to lunch or coffee.
  6. Talk with a godly friend about your trouble and ask them to pray with you.  You decide with whom should share – it might be your husband, it might be a friend or your pastor’s wife.  Two are better than one.  Eccl. 4:9 Humble yourself and admit you have a need.  We ALL need encouragement from time to time!
  7. Put yourself in an environment that helps your attitude.  Open the blinds and curtains and let the sunlight in!  Straighten up the clutter that might be right in front of you.  Create the order that will clear your head and heart.
  8. Get some fresh air.  Take a walk in your neighborhood or walking path at the park.  Go walk through the nursery at Lowe’s or your local greenhouse.
  9. Do something you enjoy.  Stop for a sweet tea and take a drive in the country.  Go to the library.  Buy a bouquet of flowers for your kitchen table.  Stop for a Dairy Queen treat.  Rearrange your living room.  Do a craft you love.
  10. Do something for someone else.  See this list to remind yourself of what you could do!  The focus gets transferred from your problem to someone else.

I pray this will help you to know how to refresh your own heart when you need it!

What do you do when you’re anxious or feeling overwhelmed?

Denise Signature 150 px

friends · ministry · Refreshment

Refreshing the Hearts of Others

stream 1.jpg

Last week my husband and I were standing alongside this stream pictured above.  How refreshing it was to stand in its bubbling song.  There is just something about flowing, moving water that invigorates!  If you’ve ever stood a stream’s edge in the countryside you know what I mean.  I could’ve stayed there all day!

Two weeks ago I was given a handout entitled, Twenty Ways to Refresh.”  Due to the nature of my blog and my desire to refresh others in their heart, home and life, I gravitate to the word, “Refresh.”  Harold Vaughan, the founder of Christ Life Ministries, is the epitome of Encouragement and he is the author of this list I was given.  When we refresh others, we are pouring life into them, like that flowing stream did for me!  If you’re like me and you have difficulty thinking of ways to encourage others, this list will help you.

Today I’ll share the first ten:

  1. Greet people on Sunday mornings (at church) with a smile.  It is okay to let your face say that you are happy to be at church.  Go out of your way to say, “Hi.” Ask questions about the lives of others, and listen attentively.
  2. Visit the widows and shut-ins of your church.  Take an afternoon and visit three or four.  Sit, talk, listen and be willing to look at their photo albums – all of them.
  3. Have a mouth that is overflowing with grace and is slow to wander down any other road.
  4. Show up each Sunday morning with a mental list of three or four people that you are going to find and minister to.  Many of us walk into church with an attitude of, “I wonder who will minister to me today.”  Nothing can be as drastically encouraging to a local church’s membership than a people united in the understanding that they are there to serve and love one another.
  5. Be a Monday morning encourager instead of a Monday morning critic by sending your pastor an email detailing what you appreciated about his Sunday sermon.
  6. Don’t rush out of church on Sunday mornings.  Be one of the last to leave because you are taking the time to talk with everyone you can.
  7. Often remind others of the benefits of salvation and the graces that flow from union with Christ.  Let it season your conversations.
  8. Routinely have a crock-pot meal or roast cooking on Sundays and spontaneously invite a visiting family or family in need for supper following the service.  (See my Successful Sunday Dinner series!)
  9. Seek out those visiting the church, get to know them, and introduce them to others.  Find connections, and be a networker to the glory of God.
  10. Aim to remember people’s names and greet them by name each Sunday.  This takes work, but it can happen.  (I go to my seat and write their names in my journal, with a brief description of the person!)

This really inspired and refreshed me!  Which one of these points spoke most to you?

Lovingly,

Denise Signature 150 px

Christian Life · friends · Husband · ministry · Pastor's Wife

Throwback Memories of My Weekend in the UP

Yikes!  I haven’t stopped to share about my weekend in Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan almost two weeks ago!  Let’s fix that today!  I’ll share some of the highlights of that great time with some really special ladies!

I went to Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan to speak for their “Ladies Day.”  Traveling and speaking is never anything I ever sought out to do.  The Lord has put this privilege before me, and I have loved it so much.  I always learn far more than anyone I speak to!  For that reason alone, I am so thankful to my God!  But I would never/ could never travel if I didn’t have the support, encouragement and prayers of my husband.  He cheers me on every step of the way.  The picture below was on our way to the airport when we stopped to have lunch before he dropped me off.  What a man I am blessed with!

Michigan 1.jpg
It’s all about the People!
My friend, Kellie traveled with me and she was such a blessing.  It’s lots more fun navigating a trip with a friend at your side!

Th next picture of the pretty blonde is the sweet young woman who invited me to her church.  Lisa was a member here at our church until she got married and her husband moved them waaaaay up north!  It was a joy beyond compare to be with her for the weekend, to see her church, her home and her heart for God!

I met lots of precious women.  I won’t post them all here, but they were welcoming, open to God’s Word, and very friendly to this Tennessean!

Michigan 3
The decor
The ladies used the white birch around them to help decorate the platform for their theme “Deeply Rooted.”  They had verses about being rooted in God’s Word all over – on the bulletin boards, in frames – everywhere.  They did a wonderful job carrying the theme throughout the whole church!

Michigan 4
The Fellowship
Part of the blessing of a weekend like this was fellowship with other ladies.  Aside from our main sessions and workshops, we had times of sharing a meal, a dessert, and a game.  That’s when you really get to know others!  We had lots of fun together!  We played a game using our purses.  You know, it’s amazing what some people carry in theirs (that would be me!)

Michigan 2
The SNOW!!!
There was plenty of snow all weekend!  They had a few flurries while I was there, but the piles have been there since December.  As we say in the south – Bless their hearts!  It sure was beautiful – but then I got to leave it after a weekend and come home to green grass!

There’s nothing better than serving God!  Look where He takes me!  Look who allows me to meet!  Look at what He teaches me in His Word!  I never would have dreamed that I’d be so blessed, but isn’t that just like our God?  He surprises us over and over and over!

FBC ladies, thank you for having me.  Thank you for being such a blessing to me.  I am the richer for it!

Lovingly,

Denise Signature 150 px

friends · Refreshment

That’s What Friends Are For!

0304171723.jpg

The beautiful scene above was the setting for the “Ladies’ Day” I was privileged to speak at last weekend in the UP.  The church has a very adequate and comfy mission house where we lodged.  The only thing between me and the church was this snowy parking lot.

I had the blessing of having a dear friend travel with me.  She graciously volunteered to accompany me on this adventure.  When I questioned if she was sure she wanted to make that sacrifice, she said, “What are friends for?!”

What a joy to have someone literally “at my elbow” all weekend!  We navigated the airports, meal decisions, hilarious situations in the airports, bumps in the presentation of my lessons, AND this parking lot, side by side.  She’s a decade+ younger than me, so she would link her arm in mine as we maneuvered across the parking lot, turned ice rink.  As we walked  I would hear,

Watch that patch of ice!

Look out for that rock – it’s pure ice!

Careful here!

Don’t slip right there!

Together we made it to the safety of the church building where we continued to serve together. Not many would have known she was serving – she did it from hidden places – the quiet of her room at the mission house when she prayed and also wrote me an encouraging card, in the mission kitchen when she fastidiously watched an egg boiling so it would be the “perfect” soft-boiled egg.  Then she served from way up high in their sound room as she flipped my Power Point presentation for me, all the while missing out on the action in the sanctuary.

Again she served as she snapped pictures of me talking to the ladies afterwards so I could remember them as I wrote their names in my prayer journal upon returning home.  She was always on the lookout for how she might serve, and she did it in a way that God was glorified and those around her were blessed.

She won’t like it that I’m recognizing her in this post, but I must because she is the essence of what a real friend does.  It’s far deeper than getting powerpoint slides on a screen – it involves coming alongside, looking for ways to serve and encourage.  Sometimes I think she has a secret camera in my world because her timing is uncanny!  That comes from a person walking under the Spirit’s control and allowing Him to prompt her, because “that’s what friends are for.”

I learned so much about friendship this weekend as I considered her.

  • Folks all around me need a “hand on their elbow,” if you will.  They need to know that someone sees their need and cares enough to reach out to them.
  • They need my close communion with God so that I will be directed to when and how I might serve them.
  • It’s risky business being a friend- she could have gone down with me, had I fallen, but she didn’t mind.  I doubt she ever gave it a thought.  She was more concerned with what I needed next, because “that’s what friends are for!”

My takeaway’s about friendship:

  1. Look for needs – what could I give?
  2. Look for weaknesses – how should I pray?
  3. Look for gaps – how might I serve?
  4. Look for disappointment – how could I bless?

I’m not the only one blessed with this dear friend; she has more friends than springtime has daffodils, and it’s no wonder!  Today I honor her and the many other friends the Lord has poured so richly into my life.  Some are close, some are far away.  Some I don’t talk to very often, but we could pick up the phone today and pick up where we left off. Thank you for the blessing of your frirendship!

Let’s don’t isolate ourselves; we need each other.  Let’s link arms and navigate life together – That’s what friends are for!

Lovingly,

Denise Signature 150 px

Christian love · friends

Put Some Hope In Others!

gas-pump

My husband went through a month-long series on Sunday nights of this past month entitled, “Be a Hope Put’er In’er and Not a Hope Take’r Out’er.”  All his messages were to put hope in marriages.  It was so practical and good!

As I went through my week after those messages, I thought about others who need hope. Everyone is going through something difficult from time to time.

We all deal with:

  • Illness
  • Personal trials in relationships
  • Financial struggles
  • Heartaches
  • Dealing with others’ sin that affects them
  • Death
  • Current events

So how can we put hope in and not take it out of folks?

You know how you pull up to the gas station and insert the nozzle into your car and then pump in the gas?  That’s how we should be spilling into others’ lives and giving them hope!  Pull the trigger and pour it in!

One of my favorite verses in Scripture is Romans 15:4

For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.

What a good Father we have, Who gave us the Scriptures so that we could live lives that are hope-filled!  We look in and we find promises that we can claim.  We read psalms and we are comforted.  We learn of people in the Bible like, Job, David, Jeremiah and Peter who went through hardships and we are encouraged by their lives and victories.  Jesus is all through the Bible, and we remember that He came to live, die and rise again to give us the best kind of Hope!

So when we bump into others who are going through a difficulty of small or immense proportions, how can we put hope into them?

  •  I think the best answer is pretty clear – give them God’s Word.  Any hope I can give is temporal  – but God’s Word will be lasting and it will give hope that meets the soul’s need.
    I’ve found that giving my human input, my stories of similar trials, my humanistic opinion, are empty and can even be hurtful. When I don’t know what to say, I can open the Scriptures with promises that will be just the balm that will instill the hope that is necessary.  I do that for my own heart, and I must learn to do the same for others.
  • After the Scripture is given, and you pray with that person, touch them.  Put your hand on their arm, or around their shoulders.  Human touch  is comforting.
  • Look for a need that they might have.
    •  A meal
    • A load of laundry done
    • A caregiver for their child for a couple hours so they can nap
    • A gift card for coffee
    • A change of scenery.  Invite them out!

Let’s be on the lookout this week for times when we can pump Hope into others, rather than draining it out of them!

Maybe you’re one who needs some hope today. Let me remind you that God sees.  God is bigger than your trial.  He is at work even when you can’t see it.  Keep your eyes upward at a God Who is your hope!

Denise Signature 150 px

Christian growth · friends · obedience

Do you have a Teachable Spirit?

Little toddlers are becoming independent little people and they will often struggle trying to accomplish a task and do it the hard way.  Have you ever tried to step in and show them an easier way?  Their response is often,

“No, I do it!”

and they push away the very counsel that could make their task easier.

Image result for toddler saying no

Toddlers aren’t the only ones who push away help.  Often when we are making our way through our Christian life, a pastor stands to preach, or a teacher gives God’s Word in a Bible study, or a friend pulls us aside to speak Truth to us, and we become stiff and resentful instead of teachable.  We like others to think that we’re just fine.  We don’t think we need someone to tell us what to do,  or how to live!

Are you like that?  I must confess that I’ve fought with this very kind of spirit over the years.  How about  a little check-up to see if we’re teachable or not?

When you hear Truth given by a wise, godly person, whether it’s one-on-one or in a group setting, do you…

  • Turn a deaf ear?  – Proverbs 13:1 a scorner heareth not rebuke.
  • Hate the instruction itself? – Proverbs 5:12 – And you say, “How I have hated instruction and my heart spurned reproof.”
  • Hate the one giving it?  Proverbs 9:8 – Do not reprove a scoffer, or he will hate you.
  • Think about how you’re going to defend yourself while the other person is speaking?  Proverebs 18:13 – He that answereth a matter before he heareth it, it is folly and shame unto him.
  • Stiffen up when you hear it?  Proverbs 29:1 – He that being often reproved hardeneth his neck, shall suddenly be destroyed, and that without remedy.

If these traits are true of us, here is the sad result…

  • Destruction – Proverbs 29:1
  • Punishment and Death –  Proverbs 15:10 – This doesn’t necessarily mean physical death, but it could bring that or spiritual death, death to relationships, death to fruitfulness, etc.
  • Broken fellowship with God – Proverbs 1:24, 25
  • Unanswered prayer – Psalm 66:18

If we continue in sin after we’ve been admonished, we can be sure we are headed for destruction.

The flip side of all this is that there are wonderful blessings from heeding Godly counsel:

  • Increase in learning – Proverbs 1:5
  • There is safety –  Proverbs 11:14
  • Wisdom – Proberbs 12:15, 13:10, 19:20
  • Happiness – Proverbs 3:13
  • Gained a friend – Proverbs 27:6
  • Gained precious treasure – Proverbs 20:15
  • Deliverance – Proberbs 28:26

If we want to be wise, we’ll all lean in, and not away from the one who desires to instruct us in godly wisdom.  Pride is the culprit that whispers in our ear, “You don’t have to listen to THAT!”  Rather than being like an unteachable youngster, let’s keep a humble, mature heart that listens and then responds.  Even if you don’t think the person is on target about what they’re saying, listen, and then talk to God about it.  He will always give the right counsel!

When is it most difficult to receive godly counsel?

Denise Signature 150 px