Warm Wednesday Words: Willpower – An Unsung Hero

I canWillpower is much more then it’s often cracked up to be.  Whether it’s willpower to eat healthy, get fit, quit smoking, only drink in moderation, control anger, be humble, not gossip, resist hidden sins, etc, willpower leads to victory.  For those of us who know the Lord, calling on Him to help us packs a powerful punch to our enemy, the devil, who would sabotage our goals.  “He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak.  Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall, but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength.”  (Isa. 40:29-31a)  When we are wise enough to acknowledge that God’s Word has the absolute truths that may be distorted by our own perspective, we can add more power to our prayers by praying and believing, “My soul is weary with sorrow; strengthen me according to your word.”

Look to the Lord's strengthDiet is probably the most trivial example to use; however, in many social settings successful dieting and fitness is, by example, a colossal failure.  If someone really wants to lose weight, then that must become the focus and most jokes of food indulgence and no time for exercise need to bite the dust in favor of  long term genuine effort.  Just replace any other more serious matter (admittedly by culture’s standards) and insert the efforts, excuses and failures that we laugh about with diet and fitness, and you will agree it is an area whose successful example potential is largely a loss to offering any kind of real example to the harder areas such as serious addictions, hidden sins, etc.  In most social settings, we acclaim the one laden with food dripping with grease and loaded with carbs rather than the one with any kind of dietary willpower.

find a wayI belong to some online social support systems for the food lifestyle we have adopted (Trim Healthy Mama).  On these sites, as on other similar food lifestyles, members are encouraged to post prayer requests, pictures of progress, etc.  The comment strands of encouragement are usually too long to read them all.  The support I have gained in other  online Christian women support groups is also amazing.  We are lifetime friends and constantly lend each other strength with our prayers and words.  There are many other noteworthy types of support groups (both online and otherwise) that lend strength and foster willpower, such as for homeschooling, sports, writing,  marriage, parenting, debt reduction, recovering alcoholics, grief support, widow groups, and on and on.   Some of these support systems can be found within churches or church small groups as well.

someone believes in youAs believers, we have an added boost to will power (or perhaps the other way around) in our conscience.  Oswald Chambers said in his 5/13 Utmost devotional, “God always educates us down to the scruple.  Is my ear so keen to hear the tiniest whisper of the Spirit that I know what I should do?…The one thing that keeps the conscience sensitive to Him is the continual habit of being open to Him on the inside.  When there is any debate, quit.”  If it seems we can’t find our way, we can pray about what, if any, counsel God would have us seek.  When we are truly seeking counsel for our own selves and not using the seeking of counsel as a cover up for gossip; and in fact, are refraining entirely from gossip, then our efforts will be blessed.  “Where there is no guidance a people falls, but in an abundance of counselors there is safety.”  (Prov. 11:14)  C.S. Lewis said, “The next best thing to being wise oneself is to live in a circle of those who are.”  Hopefully, we will have ample opportunity to offer good counsel, not just receive it.  “One who is righteous is a guide to his neighbor, but the way of the wicked lead them astray.” (Prov. 12:26)

build upTo have supportive friends who help strengthen you with their words and prayers is good.  Even better is to have a friend or a few friends who are close enough in proximity to put action to their words and hang in there with you through a period of your life when you need strength.   “And Elijah said to Elisha, ‘Please stay here, for the Lord has sent me as far as Bethel.’  But Elisha said, ‘As the Lord lives, and as you yourself live, I will not leave you.’  So they went down to Bethel.”

true friendshipWhat areas of your life do you need strength and willpower in to make it through?  What support are you seeking for that?  Are you listening for the tiniest whisper of the Spirit?  Who around you needs to lean on your strength for a season and are you able to give it?  Are you able to inconvenience your own plans in support of a friend?

 

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Warm Wednesday Words: The Repose of a Rose

11400995_10205619300614671_8431724544511363409_nThere’s lettuce in the garden rows
and herbs in tubs galore.
The raised bed has varied tomatoes
and peppers to chop, freeze and store.

IMG_9816Spikes, celosia, silver dust, and lobelia crowd in planters.
A kaleidoscope of perennials vies for the flower bed.
Pots of dichondra, australis, zinnias, and dragons head
tangle with caladiums, elephant ear and other enchanters.

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IMG_9809But none of those garden wonders
nourish the soul quite like the rose.
When darkness depresses and plunders
the rose gives the spirit repose.

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Like a scented lady dressed in draping folds
the rose wafts her fragrance over the end of the day.
To weariness and discouragement she scolds
and sweetly kisses the stresses away.

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11425131_10205612778571624_4036724106705985532_nHer essence is felt in the garden.
Her briers remind us of strength.
Her petals carpet and pardon
and tranquility seeps in at length.

IMG_9810Some favorite rose quotes

“The rose speaks of love silently, in a language known only to the heart.” (Unknown)

“Won’t you come into my garden?  I would like my roses to see you.”  Richard Brinsley Sheridan

“The fragrance always stays in the hand that gives the rose.”  George William Curtis

“I’d rather have roses on my table then diamonds on my neck.”  Emma Goldman

“God gave us memories so that we might have roses in December.”  J. M. Barrie

Take time to smell the roses.  (Proverb)

“I come to the garden alone while the dew is still on the roses; and the voice I hear, falling on my ear, the Son of God discloses.”  (Hymn)

Warm Wednesday Words: Despising the Shame

scandalDictionary.com – *Shame – 1. The painful feeling arising from the consciousness of something dishonorable, improper, ridiculous, etc., done by oneself or another.  4. A fact or circumstance bringing disgrace or regret.

*Shame  launches us into a sort of sacred suffering that gives us tools, otherwise illusive, that can actually save us.  It can originate in our own conscience, or it can be “assigned” to us by others who are more then willing to serve it up and offer seconds.  Constructively, it can provoke remorse and change, or when felt on behalf of others, comfort, grace and prayer.  Yet it also can circle over our heads with landing gear down, powerless to make its mark, if we aren’t willing to humbly inspect our hearts.

Jesus was no stranger to shame.  He didn’t turn from it, but conquered the sting of it for the joy that came from making a way to save us.  Hebrews 12:2, “Who for the joy that lay before Him endured a cross and despised the shame…”  Shame can be a stalker and a haunter, especially if we’re prideful, but when we follow Jesus example and despise it, we shrink it to its rightful place and role and amazing things can happen.

When I worked at a local daycare, we often sang action songs including a favorite “We’re going on a Bear Hunt”.  Within the lyrics, there is a great message, “we’re coming to a wide river, and there’s no bridge going over it, no tunnel going under it, it’s just plain old water, and we’re gonna have to swim…I’m not afraid.  Are you?”

We’re often put in circumstances just like that.  There’s no way around, under, or over.  We just gotta go through and get thicker skin while the elements pelt us.  The ultimate example is Christ on the cross.  John Piper wrote an excellent post on what it means to despise the shame.  He concluded Jesus “despising the shame” was like saying, ‘Listen to me, Shame, do you see that joy in front of me?  Compared to that, you are less then nothing…You think you have power.  Compared to the joy before me, you have none…. You think you can distract me.  I won’t even look at you….You are a fool.  Your filthy hands fulfill holy prophecy.’  There was once a man who over the course of his lifetime had experienced devastating parenting failures with dire consequences, committed adultery, and set up a murder to cover his own mistake.  Yet because he loved God and repented of his sins, he was able to say, “Those who look to Him are radiant with joy.  Their faces will never be ashamed.”  (Ps. 34:10)  If you guessed David, you’re right.  I love reading the Psalms, and am thankful he despised the shame and told his story.

So yeah, I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength, and so can you.  That includes the boldness to be honest and humble for Christ’s sake, no pun intended.  Some would rather avoid the power tools that can be earned in trials and shame, then admit anything shameful touched them or their families.  Ann Voskamp said in a recent post “the worst grief is a grief that cannot speak…..Grief is the guaranteed price we pay for love.”  The Bible is rife with examples of the type of guarantee that things are going to get tough, and that there’s no way around but through.   There are no guarantees of turbulent free friendships, marriages, parenting, businesses, health, reputations, etc; only of a Savior who will walk beside us triumphantly through the turbulence and “keep” that which we’ve committed to Him, ultimately souls.  He may allow some deep plunges, shame, grief, or heartache in order to refine and use what is of high value to Him.

For us, the hope and promise is that we have a Savior who showed us how to despise the shame and find joy.   Have the filthy hands of shame and despair propelled you toward a destiny?  Are you willing to share what might be useful to encourage someone?

Despise the Shame

*For the purpose of this post I chose not to split hairs over shame vs. guilt.

Warm Wednesday Words: Acres of Hope

IMG_9703As another Mother’s Day approaches I am leaning into hope and steering clear of man’s conclusions as I prod through my valleys.  I  refuse to compare myself to Mother Theresa, Susanna Wesley, Michelle Dugger, nor any young and idealistic mother full of preconceived notions about life and parenting, though I’m happy for all of them.  But for myself, I’m madly in love with my kids and grandkids no matter what.  Every single one.   The sweetest celebration of my motherhood is not on any one particular day, or in reveling in any one of my children’s successes, though I do that.  It is in the thoughtfulness of each one of them throughout the year.  And then another year and another and another.  It is in cards, calls, visits, and laughter.  For the ones with children (my sweet grands), it is in the effort they put into guiding the grandkids to gift us with sweet indulgences of artwork, notes, hugs and chats.  For seasons when there has been too much gap between visits or too much silence in the conversation, (on either end) it is in the celebration of a God who mends and heals in our lack, our uncertainty, and yes, even in our sin.

If I have ever doubted the lavishness of my God, and I don’t generally, I have only to feast my eyes on an azalea bush in May to settle the matter.

IMG_9723For my friends who have yearned to have children, but could not, I am sorry.  Truly sorry.  My heart aches for you.  I am also sorry for those who have loved and held a child who passed away.  There are no words to say I understand, because I don’t and can’t.  Your hope for reunion is literally an eternity away.  Then there are heart holes for those who have had to give up a child, parent a child without the parenthood “title” or for those of us who have miscarried without ever holding that child.  As Ann Voskamp said in a recent post, “Grief is the guaranteed price we pay for love.”  She went on to explain that God is the ultimate grief converter because He promises to invade our grief with joy and pour lavish comfort on us in our circumstances.

IMG_9735I hope that God fills your heart with hope in abundance this Mother’s Day…hope that you know how much love God has for you.  If you are a believer in Christ as your Savior who died for you, that makes you a daughter of the King, and a joint heir with Christ.  In other words, you are royalty!    Since God has all the traits that were divided in Adam when He created Eve, He longs to love us and our children with a motherly type love, as well as a fatherly love, and of course, His agape love (which is not based on feelings).  “How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings…” from Luke 13:34.

This Mother’s Day I once again am thankful that God indulgently  allows us to be a miracle in the middle of our circumstances.   Our compass is always pointed to hope, as is beautifully expressed in a song about Christ and the church, “And though you’re in the dark here call me friend…not safe but worth it, so worth it…As you lead us away to valleys low, to acres of hope, acres of hope.”

Do you realize the miracle that He has allowed you to be and the acres of hope that He is leading you in from your “unsafe” valley?

Warm Wednesday Words: Perspective Rescued and Reframed

IMG_9722EditedBecause I believe in God’s sovereignty,  my perspective is constantly being rescued and reframed.  For years I have been closely effected by a roller coaster ride of heartaches due to the addictions and bad choices of a sweet adult child along with turbulence in some of the relationships he became entwined with.  Mixed in with the fun times we all have shared, there have been times that waves of despair have crashed in on our family.  Through it all I believe that God is rescuing and keeping those I have committed to Him, and in fact, our entire family.  (“…and that is why I have suffered these things.  But I am not ashamed because I know the One I have believed in and am persuaded that He is able to guard what has been entrusted to me until that day.”  2 Tim. 1:12) As Carol Kent points out so well in her book, “When I Lay My Isaac Down”, the entire family suffers when a family member is arrested; i.e. not just with the shock and heartache, but with a taste of the ill treatment that is often dished out liberally to the incarcerated.  From exorbitant phone call charges, visitation lines, changing rules, searches, lies, rudeness, scapegoats, assumption of guilt, etc., we have learned more then we ever wanted to about our system.   As Joseph said to his brothers after his long set of trials at their hands, “You planned evil against me; God planned it for good to bring about the present result…”  (Gen. 37-45) Seeing things from God’s perspective caused him to be able to forgive his brothers for the evil scheme they had carried out.  It’s not always an easy thing to keep my eyes focused on God’s perspective, but when I do I see clearly His love and mercy even within difficulties.  Then there are the unexpected moments of God’s grace in the hard places, such as when a friend picks up the corner of our stretcher by encouraging words, cards, prayers, hugs (both virtual and real) or sacrificial actions.  There have been some who have sought us out just to help us stand strong in a hard place; as well as those who have essentially left us alone in it.

IMG_9719That thing that I would most like to erase from my circumstances is often the very thing God will get the most mileage from in His molding makeover plans.  This is something not understood by those who have not put their trust in God.  The lure of success, popularity, and power along with the slippery slope of pride can be too strong to welcome or see the need for a trial to sharpen spiritual perspective and increase trust.   Yet the most humbling things that I would choose to avoid, He uses for His glory and my good.

IMG_9707EditedLast fall I planted bulbs, which, like cocoons and butterflies, wombs and babies, and so many other design marvels, illustrate the amazing skill of a Master Weaver to use the dark and hidden places to yield something no less then splendid.  His transforming powers are not at all affected by my ideas of where they should occur, whether behind prison walls built by men or those constructed within hearts encased in a fine exterior in denial of the slavery within.  Meantime, true heart freedom is being forged in the hard places not the easy ones.

IMG_9706The beauty of flowers and spring is like a visual banner shouting God’s handiwork that was done in the hard and hidden places.  I am thankful for following through with the instinctive nudging to plant more bulbs last fall in addition to other landscape specimens already here. Beginning with helleborus, Magnolia Jane and white forsythia defying winter in the midst of freezing temps, the floral processional has begun.  Moving on from  hyacinths, viburnums and daisies to tulips, flowering almonds, spireas, Japanese Maple, lilacs, azaleas, and the unfurling of peonies, I’m feasting on an array of visionary and olfactory reminders of God’s creativity, faithfulness and love.

IMG_9708If the kaleidoscope of colors doesn’t settle the matter, there is the intoxicating aroma of hyacinths, Korean Spice Viburnum and lilacs to further prove He does exceedingly above all that we ask or think.  In “Eyes Wide Open:  Enjoying God in Everything”, author Steve DeWitt says, ‘…every created beauty was created by God to lead our affections to Him.  That’s why He made the pleasures of earthly beauty so fleeting – so that on the other side of the pleasure we might experience either wonder and worship and ultimate satisfaction in God or the pursuit of the pleasure that beauty provides for its own sake.  If we choose the latter, we will only be disappointed again.’

IMG_9701As one wave of blooms fades and another comes on, there is a rhythmic reminder that, like the blooms that come and go, my life, too is a vapor to be poured out in whatever channel He desires.  My response to the course He chose for me is sweet surrender, and yes, even gratefulness.  Since nothing happens to me outside of His permission, He must have confidence that I will  display His glory even in arid places.  Perhaps He has handpicked you for a hard place as well.

IMG_9718A sweet friend encouraged me after a recent turning point in my family’s heartbreaking saga of the loss of a family member to incarceration, “Now you have the framework for the future.”  Her words were comforting and also reminded me that I’ve always had the framework for the future from the time I turned my life over to Christ at age nine.  Through ups and downs, valleys and “mountaintops”, seasons of drought and seasons of showers, God has always been there and been my Savior and my friend.  The gardens have not failed to rescue and reframe my perspective!

IMG_9693How about you?  What hard place are you in right now and how is God reframing your perspective through it?

Warm Wednesday Words: Margin for the Other Side Journey

BeFunky_IMG_20150315_081054430.jpgThe pendulum has swung wide for me recently on life events, and there have been moments in the stormy times, I’ve lost sight of the other side.  Because stresses and griefs tug at the heart even through the elation of miracles, I’ve had a time of it.  Yet the recent warmth of personal kindnesses and encounters threatens to thaw the icy numbness that settles and resettles in my arms.

I will highlight a few, but not all, of the weekend warmths God sent my way.  On Saturday, a friend and marathon runner committed one of her many miles she runs to praying for our family.  She says she likes to pick a friend and devote a mile to them in prayer.  I’m humbled, honored. and grateful.

Sunday I received a “random” message from an out of state friend who I have not been in touch with for months.   Among many other encouraging words, she said, ‘I am praying that the Lord carry you through the storms and calm the waves. May you always remember that the Lord is in the boat with you and that because He is, you will make it to the other side. When the Lord went into the boat with the disciples, he said to them “let us go to the other side“.  There was no doubt that they would make it to the other side.even in the storm…even though they were afraid when the storm came…because Jesus was with them and He knew they would make it, it was not yet His time. It is hard to Trust in the storms that shake us, but Jesus says “Do not be afraid, Lo I am with you always, even unto the end of the earth….” ‘ 

Again on Sunday (after church and a deeply satisfying nap) I did some catching up in the “Breathe” Bible study (by Priscilla Shirer) that I am in, on making room for the Sabbath, boundaries, etc.  After discussing boundaries and margin, Shirer quotes Brad Lomenick, respected innovator and leader of the Catalyst Movement in America as saying several things about the powerful concept of ‘margin’ in several areas of life, including this quote, “Margin in our friendships creates significance and impact.”

If there’s anything new I’ve concluded about friendships over the past year or so, it’s that in my own strength, I might be able to encourage and pass along the love of Christ to someone on occasion, but any consistency is lost on me without some margin in my  life for such efforts.  To have margin requires that I set boundaries.  To set wise boundaries necessitates time in prayer to be sensitive to what parameters I need in order to keep the proper things in their place, and to be guided to friendship as the Lord would lead.

Hebrews 4 says “for the person who has entered  his rest has rested from his own works, just as God did from His.  Let us then make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one will fall into the same pattern of disobedience.”  Entering into a “rest”, or a cessation of normal activity, and especially to focus on God, counters the physical world and is the beginning of true freedom and blessing.

Oswald Chambers says, “are these things crushing us? Are they badgering us out of the presence of God and leaving us no time for worship? Then let us call a halt, and get into such living relationship with God that our relationship to others may be maintained on the line of intercession whereby God works His marvels.”

Today, I was blessed with a friend who I haven’t seen for weeks coming by my place of work just for a quick hug.  And then blessed again with a good ole chat with my mom, who I will never stop needing.  I’m touched in those moments and more recently by many around me who get off the merry go round of their normal activities and in effect, say, ‘Let’s go to the other side.  I’m with you.  And, oh, yes, there IS another side and we’re headed there together!’   I’m so thankful to God because He sends those who would speak His Words, and actively care the way He does.  That is what points to Him and reminds me what I momentarily forgot about the other side.

Warm Wednesday Words: Truxton Turns Six

 BeFunky_IMG_9276.jpgTruxton Stuart Jacobson occupies a very special spot among the twelve, soon to be thirteen English grandchildren, since he’s so far the only grandson.  Tony (Granddad) bought Truxton’s first gun (a .22 Crickett rifle) the day he was born.  When the sex of his fourth sister (due any day now) was determined by ultrasound, he had a momentary breakdown and declared that he hated girls.  But since then, he has, with some help, reassessed his lot in life and realized it really is very unique, and holding the only boy title has earned him certain advantages, even if certain responsibilities.  Truxton gives 100% or nothing to whatever he puts his hand to.  There’s not much gray area for him.  And loving his family is one of those 100% things, which makes him the most endearing fellow!  There’s just not much unlovable about this little man!

Trux's 2nd blog picHere’s his story…

My favorite food is: All food, except some food isn’t. Hmm… I like donuts, and apple pie with whipped cream. And BLTs with bacon and homemade bread and mayonnaise and butter.

My favorite book is: Tin Tin and Cowboy Sam.

I think the coolest person on earth is: Daddy.

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My favorite thing to learn about is: Math

The thing I am most awesome at is: Reading fast.

If I could go anywhere in the world I would go: The Legacy in Branson. Or the beach.

My favorite color is: Green… blue… orange…. I kind of like black. My top favorite is orange.

When I grow up I want to become:  A librarian.

My current favorite song is: The Gummy Bear Song, The Lion Sleeps Tonight, and Everyday

Three words I feel best describe me are: Hungry. Human. Toad Lover.

When I was little I used to: Cry a lot.

My favorite season is: Summer

Trux's 4th blog pic

The absolute best thing about camping is: Everything!

The snack I like the best is: Donuts.

One food that I really dislike is: Potatoes.

My best friend is: The Lepich and the Eldredge boys, and Daddy.

If I had one wish it would be: For a Pac-Man Frog.
Trux's 3rd blog pic
My favorite movie is: Pop Eye
My favorite outfit is: I just like wearing clothes.
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My favorite thing to do: Fly my remote control helicopter, read Tin Tin, visit people, and eat.
A favorite memory of mine is: When we went to the beach, and to The Legacy
My favorite animal is: Toads, Hedgehogs, and Bearded Dragons.
Trux's 1st post pic

Warm Wednesday Words: Sophie Lucia-Marie Jacobson

Sophie turned 8 on January 6, and I got behind in asking for grandchild birthday blogposts…but Sophie jumped in to get me caught up again.  I remember her from the moment she was born, and am honored to be her “Marme” and love the cuddly moments we share.   As you can tell from her next to last picture, she got her sewing skills from me, not her talented mama.

Sophies top blog pic

My favorite food is: Donuts!

My favorite book is: Right now my favorite book we’re reading out loud is Jungle Book. My favorite book I read myself was about Amelia Earhart.

I think the coolest person on earth is: Uncle Jacob

My favorite thing to learn about is: Animals, and stories of real people.

The thing I am most awesome at is: I like to do a lot of things, but maybe I’m best at making things.

If I could go anywhere in the world I would go: Maybe somewhere to feed hippos.

My favorite color is: At the moment it is red, but I also kind of like yellow.

When I grow up I want to become: I don’t really know what I want to be right now. Maybe a zoo keeper.

My current favorite song is: The Lion Sleeps Tonight

Three words I feel best describe me are: Hyperactive. Weird. Crazy.

When I was little I used to: Do a lot of things! Like watch TV a lot. I probably chewed on things. I don’t know what all I did when I was little.

My favorite season is: Probably summer.

The absolute best thing about camping is: Being in the wild!

The snack I like the best is: Granola bars.

One food that I really dislike is: Tomatoes.

My best friend is: I don’t really have one. But I have lots of good friends.

If I had one wish it would be: To own a pet hippo.
My favorite movie is: Oscar’s Oasis maybe?
My favorite outfit is: Umm… maybe my long jeans skirt and my owl shirt.
My favorite thing to do: Play with my calico critters, or pretend to be an animal.
A favorite memory of mine is: Going to the beach!
My favorite animal is: Hippo
Sophie's 2nd blog pic
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Sophie's last blog pic

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Warm Wednesday Words: Words Seasoned with Grace

Tongue is a FireSome of my best days are those that are sprinkled with encouraging words, while the occasional less tolerable days are peppered with careless words.  I have no doubt I’ve supplied fodder for many a person’s better and worse days as well.  We’ve likely all used adjectives to tear down, just as we’ve all likely been torn down by hurtful and exaggerative words.  Adjectives emphasize and therefore leave their mark in the memory.  How much better it would be for them to leave a positive, pleasant memory then a negative, bitter one. However, I know too well, when I get puffed up with pride or anger it is impossible to chase down grace and tack it on to my words as an afterthought.  That would be akin to attempting to put out a fire with a watering can; whereas a heartfelt apology is more like the downpour that puts out a fire.  Even better is to not ignite a fire of words at all.  “Don’t say anything that would hurt [another person].  Instead, speak only what is good so that you can give help wherever it is needed.  That way, what you say will help those who hear you.”  Ephs. 4:29 GWT  “Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer everyone.”  Col. 4:6   How I need an ample supply of stored up grace before I open my mouth.  I also know that not one of us is perfect in taming our tongues, but we are to still strive to be.

forgiven much loves muchThe verbal cold wall, no less formidable then 20′ rock castle walls, can be just as damaging, especially as time seems to be on the side of verbal walls, adding layer after layer of additional impenetrable silence and misunderstandings.  The silence behind withheld words of encouragement or reconciliation does damage and this choice  insidiously hides behind a cloak of innocence.  Shortchanging or refusing good and timely communication and reconciliation speaks volumes regarding the lack of grace and abundance of arrogance.  If all  Christian service was done in the order of Matt. 5:24,  and therefore divinely blessed, how much more effective it would be.

The tongue is the only body part which is “set on fire” by hell, itself.  The enemy has a vested interest in that particular part of the human anatomy and the damage it can do. “Like a sharpened razor, your tongue devises destruction, working treachery.”  Ps. 52:2 HCSB  There are times when words should be withheld; not in stubborn silence, but to avoid the arrogance of insisting on the last word.  Though I doubt there’s a single human being all-wise in this area, the saying does have merit, “Wise people are not always silent, but they know when to be”.

Often thoughtful words take time to formulate…more time then some want to give.  A regular influx of grace helps words tumble out less dangerously in those impromptu moments.  No matter how easy or hard it is to say the kind thing, nor how many times I blow it, it’s an art worth perfecting. How I need to take the time each morning with the Source of grace, and ask Him for a clearer picture of the grace I’ve been given at the Cross and therefore the grace I have no right to refuse giving.  Ps. 19:14, “May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable to You, Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.”  With my words I can make someone’s day brighter or with my words or withholding of them, I can tear them down.  The devastating effect of the latter can dampen the spirit and demotivate.  Since words have such a profound effect, why not raise the word bar?  Do you take the time to season your speech with grace?

Warm Wednesday Words: An UnDivided Heart

Undivided HeartI have many times longed for a personality or “heart” swap, and this week I was privileged to hear a speaker at a ladies event give the key to making that possible.  Though I’ve heard and read it before, it’s simplicity seemed profound at the moment, and I even woke up that night with it on my mind.  It is not possible with my own efforts, such as reading the best self help book, attempting some new resolutions, or even listening to the best sermons or spiritual lessons, though the latter may contain the key.  It is simply, Ask.  Prayerfully, ask in faith, acknowledging my great need and reminding Him of His implied promise in Ps. 86:11.  As Oswald Chambers said, “Our Lord’s making of a disciple is supernatural.  He does not build on any natural capacity at all.”  Whew.  What a relief.  Because what I’d like to become more often then not is not naturally consistent in me.

So what does it mean to have an undivided heart?  The band Casting Crowns referred to a saint with a divided heart as one with dirty hands and a plank in his eye.  Oh how we hate hypocrisy in others, yet we all have at least a little of it from time to time.  I also think a heart division occurs when we make other people or things as important as God.  To have an undivided heart may include putting God in His proper place no matter how it effects the rest of our activity time “pie”.

time chart clockReferring to the matter of going the extra mile from the Sermon on the Mount, Oswald Chambers says, “It is a statement of what will happen in me when Jesus Christ has altered my disposition and put in a disposition like His own.”  Sort of like a memory disc just available for the asking from our Heavenly Father.   A broken heart is another matter that I can actually be thankful for if God can accomplish His purposes through it.   But a divided heart is spiritually dangerous and needs a corrected focus.

BeFua divided heartA healthy heart organ must be hard working and elastic, without divisions and holes.   It’s vessels must be elastic and muscular to carry out the relentless task of pumping blood throughout the body.  I am asking for a monumental Valentine gift from the lover of my soul; i.e. a soft and undivided heart that is daily tuned to His.  There could be no finer gift to have, though it wouldn’t be for keeping, but rather for pumping what He gives back out to others, which, after all, is a fitting use for a heart.

What heart gift would you ask for this Valentine’s Day?