Endurance of a Counselor

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I have the joy of teaching first and second graders in our church Pioneer Club on Wednesday nights.  In this children’s ministry, each club works for badges by learning Bible verses and different skills.  This month I’m teaching them to sew two kinds of simple stitches.  While it’s hard to tell them they have to pull out the stitches they worked so hard on because they’re wrong, they would never learn if I let them go on with their own way of doing it. So, we rip out and they do it again with help from workers.

Have you ever watched someone you knew and cared for slip away from the Lord? It’s even more heart wrenching than a 7 year-old who has to redo a task.  Out of a desire to help, someone steps in – maybe it was you – and tries to give godly counsel. The one going astray is guided to God’s Word but they continue a downward spiral, avoiding the Bible, church, and anyone who points them to God. The frustrated counselor might want to say, “Fine, go your way. You will reap from what you’re sowing! I’m washing my hands of this.”

As we read I Samuel 15 we see how Samuel responded to hearing that Saul had not obeyed the Lord. It says in verse11 –  

“And it grieved Samuel; and he cried unto the Lord all night.” 

His heart was broken for Saul. Samuel had given Saul much instruction, but spite that, Saul chose to go his own way and disobey the Lord’s commands. In verse 35 we read,

“Samuel came no more to see Saul until the day of his death: nevertheless, Samuel mourned for Saul…” 

 Samuel wasn’t afraid to share the truth with Saul; a reminder, I believe, that we don’t just sit and watch someone sin and be afraid to tell them the truth in love. But we must remain broken over their sin. I believe that Samuel continued to pray for Saul, and even though he watched Saul slipping farther and farther away, he loved him and desired that Saul make things right with the Lord.

If there’s someone you know that has drifted – perhaps a friend, or even a child or family member, ask the Lord to keep your heart soft towards them, as modeled by godly Samuel. May our hearts be as such as would mourn and cry to the Lord all night for a brother or sister that has wandered. Keep praying and lovingly sharing the truth when you have the opportunity. God desires that they return to Him, and it might be due to a Christian friend like you that they will do just that.

I can’t wait to see my club members get their sewing badge at the end of the month! Let’s care enough to share the truth with that one who isn’t walking with God, then stick around to see the results; it will be worth it!

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Foolish Choices that Could Destroy Your Marriage

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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.

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Bringing People To Jesus

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I’m one of those strange people who enjoy grocery shopping.  I love to walk the aisles and see new items and also find the best deals on the things I’ve written on my list.  Sometimes, though, it can be difficult when you’re trying to find something you don’t usually buy.

Such was the case this week when I went looking for Gluten Free tortillas.  Would they be in the Organic section?  No.  How about the Ethnic food aisle?  Not there.  An employee at the Kroger store where I was shopping must’ve seen my desperate searching and came to ask me if I was finding everything I needed.  I explained that I was looking for Gluten-free tortillas, to which she said,

“I think they’re over in the dairy (I would’ve never looked there!).  Follow me and I’ll take you there.”

I told her she could just point me in the right direction, but she insisted that she was happy to walk over with me to be sure they were really there.

As my cart and I shadowed her steps across the store, the Lord brought to my mind that this is exactly how my life should tell others of Christ!  It’s not enough to just give an explanation of who He is and what He did!  They need someone (me) to say, “Follow me and I’ll show you where you’ll find Him!”

How and when does that happen since He’s not simply on the other side of the building?

  • At home –  I engage in people’s lives and have a hospitable heart so that I can invite others into my home where I can share the Gospel.
  • In my neighborhood – I invite my neighbors to my church and church activities.
  • In my social contacts – I give them a Gospel tract and a testimony of God’s goodness to all of us.
  • At church – I engage in conversation with visitors at church and I look for a opportunity to ask them about their relationship with Christ.
  • At the grocery store, bank, doctor’s office – I learn the names of the people who work there and build relationships so that I can share the Gospel.

It’s such a privilege to share Jesus with others.  Why? Our lives are empty and searching for something and He is the answer!  He came to die for the sins of the entire world, yet each person individually.  He came to take our place on the cross.  He took the punishment that should have been ours so that we could have a relationship with God and go to heaven when we die. He’s the only way to heaven.   Having a relationship with God now makes life’s trials have purpose, and makes this life here abundant and purposeful!   This is a message that every person needs to hear, and it has to come from people who know the Truth!

I love Kroger for lots of reasons, but their personal touch is one thing that always stands out when I’m there.  As a believer in Jesus Christ, others should constantly be receiving a personal invitation from me to come to my Savior.  It happens when I invite them into my life and ask them to follow me.  “Oh, Lord, open my life and my lips to bring others to You!”

It’s my duty, but it’s also my highest privilege!

I struggle with this – I really do, but I so want to bring people to my Savior!  Are you inviting others to follow you so you could take them to Jesus? How are you accomplishing that?

Lovingly,

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Family Friday – Keep Your Marriage Safe

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Recently in the late hours of the night, while a subdivision of residents was fast asleep, a thief entered the quiet of the street and began making his way up driveways looking for unlocked cars. All he was interested in was cash, and any he found was taken.

What the thief didn’t know was that a security camera was right on him, taking footage of his sinful deeds.  Aside from seeing him enter unlocked cars, one thing noted on the security tape was that when he approached one vehicle that was locked, he simply moved away from it. There was no attempt at breaking in.  The security of the car door locks, kept him from taking what was not his.

As I thought about the crime, the Lord brought a truth to my mind about my marriage.  No one can steal away from our relationship unless we leave areas unlocked.  So then, we must check to be sure that we’re keeping our marriage safe.  Here are some security locks that need to be checked regularly:

  • Keep your marriage vows.
    • Love
      • Love is a choice, not a feeling. If you’re not “feeling it,” pray and ask God to help you love your husband – He will. Keep praying about it and don’t quit!
      • Love him thoroughly, the way you want to be loved. Accept him and don’t have any expectations of what he should be or should do.  Would you and I want to be held to our husband’s list of expectations?  We must accept him in the same way.
      • Love him physically. Don’t withhold your physical love as punishment.  Doing so could cause ramifications that could cause the thief to come in and steal what is supposed to be only yours.
    • Honor
      • This is the same as respect. A husband doesn’t earn it as the world says he must – you give it because God commands you to.  Eph 5:33 Honor him as unto the Lord, or as you would the Lord!  Your words, your reactions, your decisions – your whole married life is to show the man you married honor – the highest esteem.
    • Obey
      • He has ultimate leadership for your home. Whether you like his decision or disagree, God says the husband is the head, and unless what he is asking is sinful, then you must come under his authority. Period.
    • ‘Til death do you part
      • Never should we use the word, “Divorce.” Nor should we threaten to leave.  Marriage is for a lifetime.  Considering divorce is leaving an open door for the right situation to enter so we have an out.  (I realize divorce for fornication is allowed, but often lesser things cause those words to be spoken.)

So, how secure is your marriage?  Are you leaving an unlocked door in any of the areas above?  There are many other safeties we could discuss, but I believe if we’re  honoring our marriage vows, most of the other scenarios will be safe from danger.

Marriage is a gift from God that is a beautiful picture of our relationship with Christ.  He keeps us secure for eternity.  I’m pretty sure I know a subdivision of people who will now be locking their car doors at night.  Don’t you wait until the thief comes to steal from your marriage before you do what is wise!  Keep it secure all the days of our life, “so long as you both shall live.”

Happy Easter!  Rejoice; He is risen, and that makes a difference in every area of life – even your marriage!

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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.

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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?

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Frogs In the Bed

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When my girls were at home, I usually knew when one of them had found a spider somewhere – it came through the high pitch in her scream. She and her sister both have a huge hatred for the eight-legged critters. I would follow the scream to the room where the creature has her cornered and take off my shoe and – WHAP! No more spider. They don’t frighten me. However, put a cricket, grasshopper or frog in my path and my skin crawls! I can’t stand for anything to jump at me!

When I read the story of the plagues of Egypt and see that the first plague that came upon the Egyptians was frogs, my mind pictures the terror I would have experienced if I had been there. Exodus 8:3 says that the river brought forth the frogs abundantly. There weren’t just a few; they were everywhere! The Scriptures goes on to tell us exactly where they were.

  1. They were in the bedroom – That would mean on the floor, on the dresser, in their clothes, overhead in the light fixtures, on the ceiling fan. There was no comfort.
  2. They were IN the bed – on top of the bedspread, between the sheets, on their once soft blankets. There was no sleeping!
  3. They were in the houses of the servants – Every room, every floor space, every cupboard was covered. There were no Egyptians spared.
  4. They were ON the people – sitting on their heads when they stood, jumping on them when they sat, “boinging” in front of their path when they tried to run away. There was no escaping.
  5. They were in the oven – They couldn’t even bake their frozen pizza without encountering these slippery amphibians! There was no eating!
  6. They were in the kneading troughs – The dough that was left rising in the trough turned from raisin bread to froggy bread. There was no baking.

The sad part of the whole story of the plagues is that it all occurred because of the Pharaoh’s unwillingness to obey the Lord. If the man had only done what was right and let the people go, recognizing that he was no contest for the God of the universe, he could have saved himself and all the Egyptians lots of discomfort! Oh, at times he said he would let the people go, but then he would reason to himself why that wouldn’t be good for what he wanted, and he would change his mind. You’d think he’d catch on after a while, wouldn’t you?

But wait a minute…how about you and me? How often do we know what the right thing is that we should do, but we turn a deaf ear and do what we want instead?

For example:

  • It might be in the area of tithing. We know we should give to the Lord first and trust Him to care for our needs, but we begin to reason our way out of the right.
  • It might be in the area of being committed to our local church in attending regularly and serving the Lord faithfully, but we think of all that would change in our agenda, and we have a change of heart.
  • Perhaps someone is in a difficult marriage and the inclination in their heart is to leave, but yet they know the truth of the Word of God says they need to stay married. They know the truth, but they’re weary from it all, and instead of waiting to see God do a miracle, they just want out!

The truth is that God will allow us to choose, just as he allowed Pharaoh to make his choices. However, we need to remember that it will not be without consequences. Let’s call the consequences “frogs in the bed!” When we decide to go our own way, we are in essence saying, “Okay Lord, go ahead and send the frogs!” We want our own way so badly that we’re willing to reap what we have sown.

What a loving God we have that warns us before we make our choices! The Lord sent Moses to tell the Pharaoh what would happen if he didn’t obey, but he stubbornly hardened his heart. The Scriptures warn us of the consequences of our sin, too. It’s our choice to obey, or choose the frogs. Doesn’t seem like too hard a choice, does it? Let’s ask the Lord today to help us to obey Him and enjoy the delight of pleasing Him and bringing glory to His name so there will be no more frogs in the bed!

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What To Do When You Don’t Know What To Do

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While visiting my parents in Kentucky over Thanksgiving, we took a drive to some old home sites and places I grew up.  One drive took us to a small town where I had originally thought I’d go to college.  My husband pulled the car into the entrance gate and my mind played back the scene as I looked through the car windows and recalled the last time I was there…

My plans were made, and in my heart, my future was set.  As a senior in high school, I thought I was sure what God wanted for me.  I would attend a local college, literally up the road.

I would live at home.

I would become a nurse and serve the Lord with that ministry.

It was settled.

Then one Friday night I drove through the entrance of the college pictured above for a weekend visit of the campus. This was a time for perspective students to visit and get an idea of what college life was like on this campus.  It was labeled as a Christian school.  I was excited about that, because Christ is my Savior, and I desired to live my life and be in places that honored Him.  I had visited a large Christian university in another state earlier that year, just for a fun weekend, and was so impressed with the spiritual temperature of the campus and in the lives of the students.

However, what I had anticipated seeing and hearing on this weekend was not at all what I saw or heard.  Though this was supposed to be a Christian school, that was definitely not the testimony I witnessed.  I was heartbroken.  At the end of my visit, I got in my car, pulled away from the school, and cried the 15 minute ride home.

I couldn’t have been more sure that God was saying a firm, “No” to all my plans.

At the time I remember how devastated I was.  I wasn’t sure what I would do now.  I had literally had the rug pulled out from under my feet.

I cried and I prayed.

I also talked with my parents, whom I knew were much wiser, and would give me godly counsel.  I suggested the Christian college that I had visited earlier in the year, but they had valid concerns and they lovingly said, “No.”

When you’re an 18 girl who is a child of God, and you live at home, have no job, or no idea about where to get an education, you quickly enroll in the school of prayer.  As I submitted to my parents counsel, and prayed for God’s direction, He provided me with a job at the Coca Cola Bottling Company, working in the accounting department.  That was totally of the Lord, seeing I had NO experience in this field, and didn’t even do super well in my math classes!

I went to work there, and enjoyed my life as a young single adult, all the while praying that if God would allow, He would open the door for me to attend the Christian college eight hours from my home.  In the middle of the year, my mom asked if I was still desiring to attend school there.  I answered that I was.  She gave me their blessing!  I finished out the summer working at Coca Cola and prepared to leave in the fall.

That move to the large Christian university in September changed the direction of my life forever and in wonderful ways.

God’s timing was perfect.

His provision was complete.

His grace was sufficient.

His plan was perfect because He is God.

I learned some really important lessons during those months of waiting and wondering that have served me well as an adult.  In my mind’s eye, when I visit that driveway of the other school, I don’t just remember God shutting that door, I remember the lessons I learned about trusting Him, the sweetness of prayer, and of Him opening the next door – in His time and in His perfect way.

What are you waiting for today?  God’s will to be revealed?  A test result?  A mate?  A provision?  An answer?  Don’t give up and do your own thing.  You can trust God with every detail that He will arrange in His sovereign ways.  Wait and trust.  You’ll be glad you did.

So thankful,

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