Dealing with the Fools in Your Life – Part 5

Jaws were clenched tight. Horses had been mounted and determination was on the faces of 400 soldiers headed to Nabal’s home to obey the command of their leader, David – “Kill Nabal and every male in his house!” The army looked up to see a beautiful woman headed toward them. Her facial expression is different than theirs; she is showing humility and kindness as she gets off the animal and bows herself to show honor and respect to David. Her words are calm, thoughtful, and respectful. She reveals that she is Nabal’s wife and asks David to forgive her husband for his foolishness and to accept the generous gift of food that she has brought. The soldiers each listen to this brave woman’s words and David’s response to her. They see the anger dissipating from their leader. His staunch position is now relaxed and he’s nodding in agreement. His hand falls from his sword. He slips off his animal and receives the gift from Abigail’s gracious hands. The war is over.

Abigail was standing between two angry and foolish men – Nabal and David. When we see her response we see that she didn’t fall into behaving like them, instead she remained the discerning woman she had been. Just because people around you are acting foolishly doesn’t mean you have to act like a fool. It’s easy to fall into their speech, their accusations, their anger, but you don’t have to!

In her response we see that she didn’t cower in fear. We don’t see her falling apart, crying, and sobbing that she didn’t know what to do. There had to be some fear there – 400 men were headed to her house! But she doesn’t let it keep her from getting up and doing something. She’s not passive. Even though it’s not her life that’s in danger, Abigail doesn’t sit at home. She sets about a plan to help those in the middle of the crisis.

It’s easy for us to not want to help when we see others in a crisis. We’re afraid of doing the wrong thing or saying the wrong thing, so we do nothing. There are those about us that are unsaved – they’re on their way to hell unless some Christian gets active and reaches out to capture them by giving them the Gospel. Who do you know that needs to be “rescued” from a perilous situation? Don’t be passive – reach out with the help only you can give.

In I Samuel 18 we see that Abigail got together the gift of food for David and his men. She does this quickly. She seems like an organized woman. She knew what to get and where to get it. You don’t see her flying all over the house in a fit trying to find the meat or raisins. She calmly gets it together. They were a wealthy family and had plenty to share.

Proverbs 3:27, 28 – Withhold not good from them to whom it is due, when it is in the power of thine hand to do it. Say not unto thy neighbor, Go and come again, and tomorrow I will give; when thou hast it by thee. What has the Lord put into your hand that He wants you to share with others? It may be a material need. Perhaps you know a younger woman that needs to be discipled and taught the Word. Does someone need you to pray with them about a burden they’re carrying? Don’t keep it to yourself; share with others when the Lord brings it to your mind.

Abigail sends ahead the gift to David and she doesn’t tell her husband that she’s going. In her wisdom she knew that he wasn’t in the frame of mind to hear what she had to say. Her motive was not one of deception – she was seeking to spare his life from David’s wrath. She’s was acting in his best interest. Her silence to her husband is the exception. Most of the time if we’re doing something behind some one’s back we’re the ones in trouble; in this case, it was Nabal that was in trouble and his wife was seeking to get him out of it.

A woman who walks with God will know how to act wisely in a crisis. However, we need to be preparing before the crisis arrives. You can’t take a crash course in the middle of the difficulty. How can a person be prepared before a crisis? By storing away the Word of God in their hearts; learning the character of their God.

I heard someone say, “You never know how you’ll react in a crisis until it happens.” That is partly true – I can’t know exactly what I will say or do, but I can have a good idea by what I’m doing now. Think of it this way – when a runner prepares for a marathon he runs every day. He exercises and stretches. He makes his runs longer each day until the day of the race. As he stands at the starting line he might not know if he’s going to win the race, but because of the preparation he’s made, he has a pretty good idea that he won’t collapse before the race is over. He’s readied his body and his mind. That’s what we need to do – prepare so we won’t fall apart in the crisis. We can finish the race. That doesn’t mean we’re perfect Christians; we all must grow until we reach heaven, but we know this – we’re stronger and more sure of what we know about our God so that when the crisis comes we’re prepared and we won’t come unglued.

Abigail knew what to do because she was walking with the Lord. When we are in the middle of a situation that a foolish person has created, the Lord will also give us wisdom to know how to handle it if we’re like Abigail and are walking with Him.

(Continued tomorrow)


A Loving and Pleasant Wife

I love reading through the Proverbs each month. The Lord so wisely scattered so many topics in each chapter. As I read through in the morning there are so many different warnings or exhortations given that I always need something that I’ve just read.

This morning as I read chapter 5 it was easy to feel “off the hook” when most of the chapter is a warning to a man about the strange woman. However, when I got to verses 18 and 19 the Lord brought a sharp reminder to my own heart. It says, Let thy fountain be blessed: and rejoice with the wife of thy youth. Let her be as the loving hind and pleasant roe…”

The husband is to enjoy the wife of his youth. We wives can make that a hard task some days because we’re not being what the verse 19 reminds us – loving and pleasant. Every day should find us enjoying being married, not enduring it! It’s ironical, isn’t it, that when a couple is engaged they count down the days until their wedding. Some even know the hours and minutes! They can’t wait! Then not long after – a couple years, perhaps – they’re looking at each other with daggers instead of delight. What happened?

I’m not going to speak for the husband, but for us wives I know what goes on in my own heart. Instead of being loving and pleasant I’m lukewarm and parsimonious (a neat word that means stingy) in the love I give him. It’s easy for us to enjoy our friends and other family members – parents and siblings, but we’re easily irritated with our husbands for some little something.

This passage is directing its encouragement to husbands, but we wives need to do the same thing toward them that they’re asked to do towards us. What is that?

  • Rejoice in him – Thank God in prayer today for the husband that He brought into your life and that you chose! Think about all the things that brought you together – the reasons you fell in love with him and rejoice!
  • Rejoice in being married.
  • Pray for your husband every day.
  • Choose to be joyful today in the way you speak to your husband and the way you respond to him.
  • Be fond of your husband and love him dearly. Think of ways you could display that today.
  • Laugh with him.
  • Spend time close to him, just loving him the way you did early in your marriage.

Other people can be my husband’s friend, but I am the only one that can be his wife…I want to do it well. I’m sure you feel the same towards your husband; we just get sidetracked sometimes. Let’s work today on being loving and pleasant so our husbands will have good reason to rejoice with the wife of his youth!


Spiritual Growth – Sure and Steady

Isn’t it amazing what a little dose of Miracle Gro will do for a plant? This window box is nearly bursting at the seams with thyme, impatiens, and ivy after a couple waterings with the fertilizer.

On the outside of my box of Miracle Gro it says, “Starts to work instantly – promotes quick, beautiful results.” I must say, it really does work well – if you remember to use it! Sometimes when I’ve neglected adding the plant food to my watering can I’ll be reminded just by the look of the plant. The blooms aren’t multiplying; instead it’s just maintaining its existence in my yard. Then the thought strikes my mind – “Add Miracle Gro!” Bingo! The plants take to it and they’re off and blooming again.

I wonder if any one’s thought of creating a miracle grow for the Christian life; a neat little package that if applied weekly will guarantee “quick, beautiful results.” “That’s ridiculous!” you say. Of course it is, but I wonder how many would pick up the package and give it a good consideration? Growth in our spiritual life is gradual. It comes slowly, from day by day study of the Word, and that’s hard. We want to see sprouts of new growth overnight.

Just as I neglect the needed addition to my plants occasionally, we’re prone to neglect what we know will bring growth in our spiritual lives. It takes too much effort. We may be very thirsty and know we need a drink from the Living Fountain of God’s Word, but it’s just easier to go talk to a friend about my issues. We’re content with a little splash of water – a quick prayer, a light reading of Scripture without a real longing to commune with our Savior.

Sometimes our loving “Gardener” will bring a trial that will force growth. We’re pushed to the Word every day because it becomes our very sustenance. We can’t survive without it and we are very aware of need. For weeks, perhaps months our lives sprout under the nourishment of God’s Word. Jeremiah 15:16 says, “Thy words were found, and I did eat them; and thy word was unto me the joy and rejoicing of mine heart; for I am called by thy name, O Lord God of hosts.”

After the trial, have you ever found yourself feeling not so needy and falling back into your comfortable routine of neglect? We all have to guard our hearts so that we continue to grow by delighting in the Word. We are preparing for the next trial before it arrives. Psalm 119:80Let my heart be sound in thy statutes; that I be not ashamed. When the next trial comes, we will find that are heart is “sound” or secure in the Word. We have new blooms, so to speak. They’ve come gradually by the meditating of the word (Psalm 119:11) and we won’t be ashamed, in other words, we won’t fall apart and come unglued because we didn’t know how to apply the Scriptures to our situation.

The missionary Amy Carmichael said this about spiritual growth:
“Sometimes when we read the words of those who have been more than conquerors, we feel almost despondent. I feel that I shall never be like that. But they won through step by step by little bits of wills little denials of self little inward victories by faithfulness in very little things. They became what they are. No one sees these little hidden steps. They only see the accomplishment, but even so, those small steps were taken. There is no sudden triumph no spiritual maturity. That is the work of the moment. “

We’ll never be done with growing until we reach heaven’s shores; it’s a slow yet deliberate process. There’s no Miracle Gro remedy for us as there is for my plants, but growth is certain if we just do what we know we need to do with our gracious Savior’s enablement.

What are you doing today to promote growth in your spiritual life? I’d love to hear about how you study the Word to keep it fresh!


Ladies’ Retreat

Wow, I can’t believe it’s August! I’m usually preparing my schedule for school, but now that my daughter has graduated, so have I! This August I’m planning a retreat instead. We have made many announcements about it at our church, but I wanted to post a note here for further publication.

The theme for our retreat is, “The human heart is dark without Christ, but what a difference Jesus makes.” On Friday night, the 14th, we will meet at Boones Creek Bible Church at 7 pm. The evening will begin with a fun time of skits and then refreshments. Then our first speaker, Debbie Duncan, will share her testimony. Five years ago Debbie lost her husband suddenly after 24 years of marriage. Though she has gone through some very hard times, she has had a sweet testimony of God’s sustaining grace. How can a woman go through losing her husband and not be bitter or angry with God? Well, Jesus made the difference and she’s going to tell us how.

On Saturday morning we will meet back at the church at 9:30. The first scheduled activity is a workshop time. The topics include:

  • Help! I’m homeschooling – There will be tips from two moms that have home schooled their children for several years. Topics will include such things as scheduling, extra-curricular activities, teaching godly character traits, working outside the home, and teaching multiple grades.
  • Making the Most of Your Senior Years – This workshop will help those headed for their senior years, or those already there. Information shared will be ways to grow older without feeling useless, as well as ideas of how to serve in these years. This workshop will be practical and hopeful!
  • Multi-tasking my Minutes – This is a workshop on time management. Tips will be shared about how to accomplish more in a day, how to plan ahead, cook ahead, and be prepared without feeling overwhelmed.

Following our workshop time we will have another speaker, Kathy Barker. Also a member of our church, Kathy has experienced the words, “You have cancer.” Her faith and her testimony have remained strong in the midst of the initial news, as well as during her treatments. Again, those of us that know Kathy see that Jesus has made the difference in her life. Whatever God chooses for Kathy is her heart’s desire. I know her testimony will encourage you, or anyone you know that is going through a difficulty in their life.

We will end the day by having lunch catered in from Atlanta Bread Company. The cost for the retreat is $8, which will include your meal. Registrations need to be made in advance so we will be sure to have plenty of lunches ordered. You can register by calling our church office at 423-477-3011. All ladies are welcome! I believe this is going to be a special weekend that will truly be significant for those that attend.


A Blog to Read

Just a little note on this Saturday. I found a really helpful blog this week about the subject matter of my blog Monday and Tuesday – hospitality. The blog is entitled, “4 Reluctant Entertainers.” The subtitle reads, “Real entertaining for Real People.”

The blog is full advice about making entertaining simple. There is lots of encouragement to rid the excuses we use for not being hospitable and to help alleviate the fears. She also has recipes and other ideas that are very practical. There are lots of pictures to aid her teaching. I thought I’d pass this special blog on to you. I’ve really enjoyed it and thought you might too!

Here’s an excerpt from her blog:

Sometimes I’m just too tired to think about other people, let alone open up my home to them. Some of the “joy stealers” and the excuses that often run through my head are:
* I really don’t need anyone
* My life is full enough
* I’m just too busy
* It costs to entertain
* My house isn’t adequate
* I need to look the part (Marthaidious Lie)

For others it might be:
* It’s too risky to open myself to family and others

* I’ll look foolish if I reach out
* My house is always cluttered
* I’m a horrible cook
* It’s too hard with kids
* I’m not a good conversationalist
* I need to be a couple
* It’s too much work after a long day
* My spouse isn’t interested in entertaining
* I’m just not spontaneous enough
* I am fearful and freeze up, just thinking about it
* It’s always a disaster
* I’m too much of a perfectionist

I wonder which one of these rings true with you?I know that I get the JOY sucked out of me at times, because I want things to look a certain way.What if we all pasted this quote on our front doors? “If you want to see us, come on over; if you want to see our house, make an appointment.”

I hope I’ve piqued your interest!

Have a blessed time in church Sunday. Show some hospitality there too!


(Cont.) Being a Discerning Woman

Some years ago our church graciously gave my husband a 40-day sabbatical 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 at the end of 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 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. 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!
Abigail responded to her husband and to David in a way that was consistent with her heart. She didn’t fall apart, come unglued, or go have a crying spell. She acted in a wise discerning way. 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. There was nothing to fear now though- 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!

Dealing with the Fools in Your Life – Part 4

A Discerning Woman
How many times yesterday were you needed by someone? Perhaps you felt the tug of a child pulling at your clothes, your cell phone was ringing with someone who needed a question answered or a favor done, co-workers were calling for your assistance, your husband was down the hall calling your name. These kinds of interruptions are common for us as women, but at times they can push us to our breaking point and we respond violently to the one that added the proverbial last straw to our load.
In verses 14-17 of I Samuel we meet Abigail who has one of her husband’s servants running to her to ask her to intervene on her foolish husband’s behalf. The servant tells her what had transpired between David’s servants and Nabal when they requested the provisions that were rightfully theirs. They had served Nabal’s shepherds in the field and were entitled to a gift from Nabal, but instead of a gift David received insults and anger. The servant explained to Abigail that now trouble was to come to Nabal’s house if something wasn’t done.
The fact that the servant went to Abigail rather than Nabal tells us that he knew he couldn’t speak to Nabal about this. Proverbs 23:9 says, “Speak not in the ears of a fool: for he will despise the wisdom of thy words.” The servant knew that Nabal wouldn’t listen to anyone. He realizes that Abigail is one with wisdom in the family. I wonder how many times Abigail had been asked by others to step in and fix a problem her husband had created? Perhaps something else had already occurred that day. Now here she is being asked to take care of another mess that foolish Nabal had made. The servant knew he could go to Abigail. She was approachable.
Do you have the reputation of being approachable? Do people know you’re a wise woman and they can come to you because you will handle things wisely? Do your children know they can come to you in a conflict or crisis and that they can talk to you? If your husband or perhaps your boss has a grievance with you are you approachable? Or do people know you’ll fly off the handle, out of control? Proverbs 18:13 “He that answereth a matter before he heareth it, it is folly and shame unto him.” We need to be still and allow the person that comes to us to speak. Our responsibility at that point is to listen – not interrupt with our excuses or accusations. If we answer before we’ve heard the whole matter we are foolish and will be brought to shame, just like Nabal.
In verse 14 the servant tells Abigail that Nabal “railed” on David’s men. It means that he was screaming at them. It means to swoop upon, to dart greedily. He’s a mad man going wild with anger. If we find ourselves behaving like this in the midst of life’s circumstances, we need to stop and realize we hare behaving like a fool.
Some doctors in Gables, Florida did a study on 18 men with coronary artery disease. They ran them through some strenuous physical stress tests while monitoring their hearts. Then they gave them three mental stress tests. At one point they were asked to recall an incident that had made them very angry and give a short speech defending themselves. Using sophisticated X-ray techniques, the doctors took pictures of the subjects’ hearts and saw that anger reduced the amount of blood that the heart pumped to the body tissues more than any of the physical tests. Anger can effect us in so many ways. Anger is deadly in any relationship – a marriage, the body of Christ, in a friendship or work relationship. Now we also see it can be deadly even to our physical body. When you’re in a situation that angers you stop and take a breath…breathe in, breathe out, so you don’t blow up!
In verse 15 the servant tells Abigail that he can’t even understand why Nabal was so angry because when David’s men were with them nothing was missed from their belongings. Nothing had been stolen; indeed, the men had been good to them. In other words, there wasn’t anything that could have provoked Nabal to anger. There’s is no good reason for Nabal’s poor behavior. We look at that and we shake our heads and are sure we’d never behave like that! But wait, we may not fly off the handle, but what if our child comes to us and asks, “why?” for the 100th time today? Or just as we’re settled into our scrap booking project we hear our husband’s voice call out to us to come help him with the project he’s working on, and we turn on him with clenched teeth, a sigh of desperation, or rolled eyes. He did nothing to provoke us, the child is totally innocent in his question, but we turn and “rail” on them. We may not be screaming, but our eyes are screaming. Our spirit is yelling. We have turned into a Nabalish character.
Perhaps you’re saying, “I didn’t do that yesterday. Instead I was the one that was turned on viciously! I didn’t provoke, but I got anger thrust at me!” How are we to respond when we deal with people that act foolishly? Look at Abigail. She’s caught between two angry men, yet she doesn’t respond with anger. Both of these men were hurling out ugly things, but Abigail responds true to what’s in her heart. We do not have to respond in the same way as the fool – we can remain a woman of character and discernment.
…Tomorrow’s post will discuss how to be a discerning woman.