Thursday, August 10, 2006

Turning 40 (What doesn’t kill us makes us stronger - even if we do wish we were dead!)

My 39th year was a rough one. I watched my husband grieve the loss of BOTH of his parents, tried to help my children grieve their Grandparents in their own way, and dealt with the loss for myself. Then, I lost my Granddaddy. He was the first person I ever loved - a great friend and role model and I miss him. My Aunt had a series of strokes that kept her and my Uncle from attending my Lil’ Sister’s wedding.

The final week as a woman in my thirties hasn’t been any easier. My cousin arrived at the airport in Florida to fly to Vegas because she is in my Sister’s wedding. Instead of boarding, she ended up in the hospital having emergency surgery for appendicitis. While visiting with one of my Brothers, I shared about my frustration over a watermelon plant that is overtaking my yard, but producing nothing! I have threatened to pull it up by the roots. He told me about having the same experience with a pumpkin plant when he was a kid. I guess misery really does love company.

There were mishaps here and there throughout the wedding: bad-mouthing and frustration, hurt feelings, coordinator errors and lack of air conditioning. Other occurrences included dress straps that broke, forgotten purses, hair that didn’t look perfect, missing compliments, uncomfortable shoes, people sitting in the wrong place, lost inheritances, not enough food, too much attitude.

But there are many roses among the thorns I’ve mentioned. First of all, both of my In-Laws and my Granddaddy are with Jesus! Hallelujah! There’s no place I’d rather be! My Aunt is healing and has an amazing, new sense of humor. My Uncle is blessed! J (And he’s a blessing, too.)

My cousin had her surgery, got on a plane, and still made it to the wedding! What a trooper! I discovered, and had to share with my Brother that there are about 6 little watermelons on my huge plant! It made him smile. The other things will fade with time. Hopefully, the lessons in humility will remain. The moments that we witness even the smallest glimpse of character in others or ourselves should inspire us. Perhaps we’ll even realize that it’s what’s on the inside that counts rather than the outside. And that the wedding doesn’t make the marriage! Praise Jesus.

I am embarking on a new decade. It holds the promise of being a wonderful adventure. My other Aunt told me that 40 backwards is 04, and I can pretend to be dyslexic. So now that I’ve counted my blessings, and turned 40, I’m going to Disneyland!

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Blameless Life - Psalm 15:3

Backbiteth Not!

Verse 3 in the KJV actually says “who backbiteth not.” I love that. You absolutely cannot sugar-coat that one. Sadly, I confess that I have been a master slanderer. I’ve struggled for years to break the hold that this generational sin has had upon my life.

Jesus never bad-mouthed anybody. Once again, I wish I could make that claim. The good news is that I can ask forgiveness and repent of my bad behavior when God makes me aware of it and get another chance. And since I am aware of my vulnerability in this area, I can bathe myself with prayer over it and avoid situations where the temptation to participate in such things arises.

To be blunt, slander is a vicious lie! When was the last time you slandered someone? When were you last the victim of slander? How did it feel to be on each side of this sin?

Would you like to know what else the Bible says about slander? Take a look at John 8:44.

Whoa! This is a habit worth changing. When I am face-to-face with God, I want to hear “good and faithful servant,” not the above! Look up the following verses of scripture. What instructions do we receive from the Word about slander? (Leviticus 19:16, Psalm 54:5, Proverbs 10:18, Proverbs 30:10, Matthew 15:19, Ephesians 4:31, Colossians 3:8, Titus 3:1, 2, James 4:11)

Warnings to us on this subject abound. Pray that God will protect you from this behavior and cleanse your heart, mind and mouth.

Don’t You Wrong Your Neighbor

Make a list of your neighbors. Now read the story of the good Samaritan in Luke 10:25-37. Who would you have been in this story? The priest? The Levite? A Samaritan? A robber? The beaten man on the side of the road? Why do you think so? Who would you like to aspire to be? Spend some time with God praying for opportunities for Him to teach you how to do His will in this area of your life.

It Wasn’t Me. He Did It!

Who never cast a slur? One guess. By the way, what’s a slur? The King James Version and New American Standard Bibles call it reproach. Others would call it “the blame game.” By the title alone, we should realize that this behavior doesn’t belong in a blameless life! Have you ever blamed someone for something? I’ve done it, too. And I’ve justified it by saying that they really were at fault, but I’ve learned that pointing the finger and placing blame never fixes the problem.

The act of casting a slur means to shame or disgrace someone. Suddenly, I have visions of Drew Barrymore with one of her wings ripped off in Ever After. I also envision many encounters between Christ and the leaders during His time on earth. Read the scriptures below and make note of some of the slurs cast against Jesus and his disciples by the Pharisees and teachers of the law. (Matthew 15:1-2, Matthew 27:41-43, Mark 2:6-7, Mark 3:22, Luke 7:39)

Every time I read these stories, I am amazed at how these religious leaders should have recognized the Messiah in their midst, but didn’t. I’m absolutely awed by how Jesus always managed to turn their verbal traps right back upon them! We serve a truly amazing God! There is no one more intelligent or compassionate or loving or forgiving.

Read the accounts below. Record Christ’s response to the slur against Him. You don’t have to record exact words, just the character trait He displayed (compassion, reprimand, love, forgiveness, etc.) (Matthew 9:1-8, Mark 15:31-32, Luke 7:36-50, John 8:1-11)

Our Lord is amazing. What can you do to be more like Him? Simply pray that God makes you more like Jesus. Then obey God.

No Man Can Tame The Tongue

Yes, the Bible actually says it can’t be done. This passage is about self control. Read James 3:1-12.

The tongue is a powerful weapon. Isn’t it amazing how something so small can cause so much trouble? I regret to admit that I have personally wielded the verbal assault weapon. But Jesus wants to teach us to use our tongues to heal instead of hate. Although you can’t tame the tongue, God can develop the fruit of self-control in you so that your words will speak more life. Spend some time in prayer asking God to reveal any wrongdoing in this area of your life.

When the Lord makes you aware that you’ve violated someone verbally, we must admit our sin and ask forgiveness of the person we’ve battered with our words. Don’t waste another minute. What was revealed during your prayer time? How have you used your tongue like a weapon recently? How could you have used it to heal and encourage? Time to go and ask forgiveness.

Keep Going. Memorize Psalm 15:3.