For a Lifeline, Call a Friend

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Did you ever watch “Who Wants To Be a Millionaire?”?  The contestants answered questions, each one getting progressively harder and taking them closer to a million dollars.  If they were unsure of an answer, one option they had was to call a friend.  This would be a person, who, obviously had lots of knowledge and could be their “lifeline,” helping them reach their hoped-for goal of becoming a millionaire!
It would be quite an honor to be asked to be your friend’s life-line!  That would mean the contestant had full confidence in your ability to give them the correct answer at a very crucial moment!
I recently heard a preacher say that at a time in his life when he had to make a decision about whether or not to accept an important position, he spent many hours in prayer.  He weighed the pros and cons.  He talked with friends and associates and asked their advice.  One night after spending time with godly friends, trying to come to a conclusion about the right decision, he came home and found his wife had already gone to bed.  When he laid down beside her, she rolled over and held up two fingers, signifying that she rated the decision he was going to make only a two.

“That was all I needed to hear.  My wife walks so closely to the Lord, I knew that if this only ranked a two, then the Lord would have me not accept that position.”

Talk about being a life-line! This godly wife was so trusted by her husband in her walk with God, that it altered the course of his life!  His story made me stop and ask myself a couple of questions:

  1. Could my husband trust my response to a decision that fully?
  2. Do I walk so closely to the Lord every day that at any given moment I could be asked a question by my husband, my daughter or a friend, and I would give the right answer because it would be God’s answer?
This dear pastor’s wife I mentioned had walked with God.  She’d been faithful to read and study God’s Word.  She’d spent time in prayer.  She was sensitive to His directives in her own life – that’s how she could rightly guide those around her!
It really doesn’t matter that no one has asked me to be their lifeline on a game show.  I’m not that smart!  However, I want to be able to know the Lord’s heart so well that I could be a lifeline to my husband, or to any friend that the Lord brings across my path today.
How about you?  Have you spent sufficient time in God’s Word this morning that even through what you read today you could give biblical counsel?  
Know God so that you can lead others to Him, too!
Psalm 119:1-7
Blessed are the undefiled in the way,
who walk in the law of the Lord.
 Blessed are they that keep his testimonies,
and that seek him with the whole heart.
They also do no iniquity:
they walk in his ways.
 Thou hast commanded us to keep thy precepts diligently.
 O that my ways were directed to keep thy statutes!
 Then shall I not be ashamed,
when I have respect unto all thy commandments.
 I will praise thee with uprightness of heart,
when I shall have learned thy righteous judgments.
With love,

The Beauty of a Thank You Note

I recently saw a picture of myself from the 90’s and it made me laugh out loud.  The fashion statement in those days was the addition of shoulder pads.  They made my small frame look like I was trying out for some football team.   Not pretty.

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Some things like shoulder pads go out of style, but some things never do – like a thankful heart.  Gratitude is always attractive!  The means to display gratitude is another thing that will never be passe’ and it comes in the form of a Thank you Note.  Thank you notes are a special touch to demonstrate your gratitude for an act of kindness or a gesture of generosity.

That being said, let’s talk a little about when and how to write one.

When should we write a thank you card?

  • When you receive a gift.
    • Birthday
    • Christmas
    • Wedding/Baby Shower
    • Wedding Gift
    • Graduation
    • You get the idea…we get gifts often, and so a thank you needs to be sent…often.
  • When you have been a guest in someone’s home
    • For a meal
    • As an overnight guest
  • When someone has done a kind gesture
    • Helped when you were sick
    • Encouraged you
    • Done a task for you

What should a thank you note say?

  • What the person did
  • Why it meant something special to you
  • How it will be used (if it was a gift)
  • That you are grateful

It doesn’t have to be long, just include the essentials listed above, and do it promptly.  The saying that has stuck with me is,

Swift gratitude is the sweetest!

If you wait until 6 months after your wedding to send Aunt Betty a thank you for the place setting of your china, it’s not going to be received as warmly as it would have a couple weeks after your honeymoon.  So being prompt is key.

I receive lots of sweet thank you’s and it always means so much.  Just that the person would stop to write out their gratitude means a lot.  It’s a social skill that will never grow out of style.  Let’s all try to put on thankfulness and see how it embellishes our personal style far better than those 1990 shoulder pads did!

Are you an avid thank you note writer?  When was the last time you received one?

Lovingly,

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Jesus Sees You

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The picture above is Mt. Arbel in Israel.  We had the privilege to drive up most of the way, then hike up to a high point when we were there recently.  As you can see, the views are incredible.  As I stood looking out towards the Sea of Galilee, my mind went to the passage in Mark 6 –

45 And straightway he constrained his disciples to get into the ship, and to go to the other side before unto Bethsaida, while he sent away the people.

46 And when he had sent them away, he departed into a mountain to pray.

47 And when even was come, the ship was in the midst of the sea, and he alone on the land.

We don’t know what mountain Jesus went to to pray, but it could have been this one.  I pictured Jesus coming up to a place like this to talk to His Father, perhaps about the miraculous feeding of the 5,000 that had just taken place, and then also praying for the disciples, who were at that time out in the boat, getting ready to encounter a storm.

No matter if it was this mountain or another, Jesus could see them because He is God.  He knew they were rowing as it says in verse 48 –

And he saw them toiling in rowing; for the wind was contrary unto them:

Last week when I was on Mt. Arbel, I could see the water, but it was too far away for me to see people and they certainly couldn’t see me.  When the disciples were on the Sea of Galilee, they couldn’t see Jesus.  I wonder if they asked themselves where Jesus was?  Did anyone say, “Why didn’t He come with us?!”  It doesn’t matter, because

He saw them.  

He cared about their storm.

He came near.

When He came, He revealed Himself as Who He was – the One who had power over the storm.  He was the only One that could help them and He did, at just the right moment.

Do you feel today as though you’re in a storm-tossed boat?  Are you wondering where Jesus is?   Are you wondering if He’s forgotten you?  He hasn’t!  He cannot!  He is God.  He sees, He cares, and He is nearer than you even understand.

And immediately he talked with them, and saith unto them, Be of good cheer: it is I; be not afraid.

51 And he went up unto them into the ship; and the wind ceased: and they were sore amazed in themselves beyond measure…

Jesus comforted the disciples with His voice.  He encouraged them by telling them He was there.  You have His Word on it too – Hebrews 13:5  I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee. See also  Isaiah 43:2 Joshua 1:9.

The world and your flesh may say that Jesus doesn’t care, but you must turn a deaf ear, and listen to the Truth of His Word instead.

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Acknowledge His presence and watch to see what He will do as the God Who is able to do exceeding, abundantly above what you may ask or think.

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How To Be the Greatest Blessing to Your Children

As parents, don’t we all long to be a blessing to our children?  There’s so much you could do, and it can sometimes be overwhelming, can’t it?  I mean we could…send them to a private school, homeschool them, give them private music lessons, take them to every service at church, feed them the best organic foods, make sure their immunizations are up to date, or bake them your famous chocolate chip cookies.  But is all this enough?  Too much?

I love how God’s Word breaks down Truth for us in a way that simplifies what we tend to complicate. I read in Proverbs 20:7 yesterday –

The just man walketh in his integrity: his children are blessed after him.

The “just” person is a woman who has trusted Christ as her Savior and now has a standing before God.  She is “justified” and God sees her through Christ as having never sinned.  Amazing, isn’t that?!  After that amazing transformation, she walks in integrity, and in so doing, is a blessing to her children.

What does it look like for a woman to “walk in integrity?”

  • She is steady.  She’s not waffling all over the place – hot and cold, back and forth, up and down.  She has her heart towards her Savior and her face towards heaven.
  • She is sold-out.  Her life belongs completely to God.  Therefore, she is in His Word daily, in His house regularly and on her knees consistently.
  • She is sparkling.  This doesn’t mean she never sins, but she is not involved in things that would cause someone to question her integrity.  Relationships are guarded, her heart is pure and her eyes are shielded against the things that would distract her from her spiritual goals.

Did you notice that none of those marks are things you do for your children? It’s nothing you buy for them or cook up in the kitchen. It’s all about who we are in our heart that makes us a blessing to anyone.  As we live out a faithful life for Christ, we are a blessing to those that we rub shoulders with, and who do you rub shoulders with more than those in your own home?!

So, what are you doing today that reveals your integrity?  Stay steady, sold out and sparkling, and you will be a great blessing to your children and grandchildren!  Oh, but go ahead and bake them some chocolate chip cookies!  A little sweet treat never hurt any mom’s reputation!

With love,

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The Blurry Vision of People-Pleasing

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Yesterday I picked up my new glasses.  I hadn’t had my prescription updated for three years.  I wear contacts most of the day, so it didn’t affect me that much – until recently.  I knew it was time to make the change when I had my last exam and he told me my eyes weren’t working together and that a prism would fix the problem. “Well, let’s do it!” I was fitted and the order was made.

Yesterday when I got home with the new glasses, I took my contacts out and put the new frames on my face.

WHOA!

It literally reminded me of when I would visit my grandma – she would set her glasses down and I would slip them on.  I couldn’t see a thing then and I sure wasn’t seeing yesterday!  It felt like one eye was going one way and the other eye the complete opposite!  I was trying to figure out where to look so I could even read. Right now I’m wondering if my brain is ever going to adjust to this!

This reminds me of another area of my life that gets completely out of focus – it’s that of serving “as unto the Lord.”

You see, I get double vision.  The desire to please people and the desire to please God often have a tug of war in my members.

My heart says, “Please God!”

My brain says, “What are people thinking?”

Oh how I hate it when I realize how important it is to me that people applaud, yet it is there.

“Did she see?”

” Does he approve?”

It’s in my heart far too often, and it goes against everything we read in Scripture, for our labor is to be done, not as men-pleasers, but as servants.

 For do I now persuade men, or God? or do I seek to please men? for if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ. Galatians 1:10

The fear of man bringeth a snare… Proverbs 29:25

Trying to please people will ensnare me.  It traps me into trying to fit into a person’s mold, rather than my Savior’s.  It fills me full of fearing…

  • Not being good enough
  • Not doing enough
  • Not measuring up to what someone thinks I should do
  • being rejected
  • being disliked

Yet, my Savior served to please only His Father.  Christ went against everything man would have done.  He was unconventional in His methods and only had the desire to obey the Father.  Why then, do I worry about what others will think?  Why am I concerned about my reputation, when Christ gave me the perfect example to follow?  Why do I fear when He tells me what to do, how to do it, and then even gives me the strength and ability?

Last night I Googled, “Getting used to prism glasses.”  The encouragement was to “put them on and leave them on and don’t go back to your old lenses!”  How did they know that’s what I’m wanting to do?  They are comfortable.  I’m used to straining and making the adjustment!  But no, I must follow what the doctor has prescribed.

So too, I must keep on the lenses of servanthood, rather than trying to please people.  It will take adjusting my attitude, but in time, my spiritual eyes will see correctly, and I’ll have my eyes on Christ and no one else! That’s spiritual vision that is 20/20!

Do you ever realize that you’re being a men-pleaser?   Look only to the Lord, for He that sees will also reward us when the work is done for Him!

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Any typo you find in this post is a result of… you guessed it – these new glasses! The words are literally jumping all over the page! :0

 

The Picture of Discernment

About nine years ago our church graciously gave my husband a 40-day sabbatical (a period of paid leave) that started on Christmas Eve. During the first week of January we went to a lovely mountain home in South Carolina to rest. This home was located high up in an area known as “The Cliffs.” We were staying in a section of homes at the end of the road. We could look out the large windows in the house and see the tiny lights of the houses far below us twinkling in the darkness.

The weather was quite blustery.  The wind was howling when we unloaded our belongings from the car and the snow was flying. After we got our things moved into the house, my husband headed back down the mountain to go get our younger daughter who had been staying the week with her sister. He would be gone about an hour and a half.

While he was gone, I made supper and then put it in the oven to stay warm until they returned. I then decided that this would be a good time to snuggle into the comfy sofa with a cup of hot tea and work on a Bible study I was doing. The wind continued to howl outside the windows as I studied, banging things against the house and making all kinds of imaginary people stomp right outside my doors! Then the wind got so strong that the power flickered, then went out! I put my hand up in front of my face and couldn’t even see it! It was pitch black! I grabbed my cell phone and hit the power button to activate the light, then ran into the kitchen to look for a candle and matches. Aha! Here was a lovely scented candle up on the counter. Matches…matches….? Nowhere. Then I remembered that the stove was gas. I got the wick lit at the burner, then made my way back over to the sofa, relieved at the light this little candle brought to my very dark situation!
That illustration is what discernment does in our lives – it brings light to an uncertain situation. Discernment is the ability to distinguish between two things using the wisdom of God’s Word. Discernment allows us to see issues clearly. We so desperately need to cultivate discernment so we will know light from darkness, truth from error, best from better, righteousness from unrighteousness, purity from defilement and principles from pragmatics.
How does a person get discernment? You ask God for it, and go to His Word  to find it. Ask Him for it before you get into a crisis. It would have been better for me if I’d have prepared for the storm before the lights went out! If only I had gotten the candle lit prior to the crisis moment of darkness I wouldn’t have been so frightened. We can’t plan for a crisis in our lives, but we can prepare ahead of time by seeking God’s face for discernment from His Word. We must store it up in our hearts so it will be ready when those moments come that threaten to shake us at the very foundation of our faith. Proverbs 22:3 tells us that a prudent person looks ahead and sees the possible danger in a situation and they do what they can to avoid it, but the foolish person plunges ahead and suffers the consequences.
One wise way to prepare ahead of time is to memorize Scripture. We will all face death at some time – in the life of a loved one, or our own. What Scripture do you know by memory that will sustain you at that time?
If you’re married you know you need God’s wisdom to be a godly wife. What passages are you meditating on when it gets hard to love your husband?
We are all tempted to fly off the handle and “give so-and-so a piece of our mind.” What do you tell yourself from God’s Word when that temptation comes?
Ladies, storms are coming. We must prepare ahead of time so we’ll have the Light for the darkness!
In I Samuel 25, we read that Abigail responded to her husband and to David in a way that was so wise. She didn’t fall apart, come unglued, or go have a crying spell. She acted in a wise, discerning way. Her husband Nabal never changed, and the fool in our life may never change either. But we can remain a pure, courageous, discerning woman that glorifies the Lord even in the midst of a crisis.
By the time my husband and daughter got back to our mountain retreat, the lights had come back on, though they continued to flicker often. But now there was nothing to fear because there were lit candles throughout the house. I wouldn’t be caught unprepared again! I pray that I’ve learned that same lesson in my spiritual life!
How have you recently seen a woman display discernment?  How are you preparing to be discerning yourself?
With love,

Forgiving the Unrepentant

Doris still remembers the shame brought to her by her uncle’s sin.  She had been violated as a young teen and had lived with the awfulness of that sin for years.  Bitterness toward the offender had taken root in her heart, and she felt cold and empty. 

After hearing a message on forgiveness, Doris knew that she had to forgive her uncle, but he was completely out of her life, and had heard that he’d even left the country.  She had no idea how to contact him.  If he wasn’t confronted with his sin and given the chance to repent and ask forgiveness what was she to do? 

And when ye stand praying, forgive, if ye have ought against any: that your Father also which is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses. Mark 11:25

The type of forgiveness that Doris needs to give is vertical forgiveness.  This is forgiveness that is directed to God, and occurs when you are praying.  When God brings a person to your mind that you have not forgiven, and there’s no chance for you to speak with them and rebuke them in love, you grant forgiveness based on the knowledge of how much you have been forgiven.  When we realize the debt we owe the Lord for the forgiveness He has granted us, based on the cross-work of Christ, we should be willing to forgive others on that truth alone.

Vertical forgiveness would also apply if you approach someone about their sin towards you, and they refuse to make it right; they won’t repent.  We are not free to hold onto our bitterness simply because they are  unrepentant.  Vertical forgiveness has no conditions placed upon it. 

The kind of forgiveness that we talked about last Thursday was rebuking a brother about his sin.  He repents, and you forgive.  That is Horizontal forgiveness.  This is directed toward the offender, not God. The condition is his repentance.  Luke 17:3    Take heed to yourselves: If thy brother trespass against thee, rebuke him; and if he repent, forgive him.  However, if he doesn’t repent, then we apply Mark 11:25 and forgive based on our relationship with God and His forgiveness of our sin.

This truth can change our lives.  Living with unforgiveness in our hearts has the power to turn us into bitter old women!  If you have a situation where you have been sinned against and are still waiting for the offender to ask forgiveness, look no further.  Instead, look at the cross and see your sin nailed there.  See Christ suffering in your place, and forgive that person in the same manner in which you have been forgiven.

And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you. 
Ephesians 4:32
A woman who has a forgiving spirit as a trait in her life will be a blessing to be around.  An unforgiving woman, on the other hand will make you wish you could run to the wilderness according to Proverbs 21:19!
Be a woman of character.
With love,