Bible, bible study, Christian, Christian Church, christian encouragement, christian men, christian parenting, christian podcast, Christian women, Faith, Jesus, Jesus Follower, podcast, Uncategorized

Slow to Speak

Then the high priest stood up before them and asked Jesus, “Are you not going to answer? What is this testimony that these men are bringing against you?” 
But Jesus remained silent and gave no answer.  Mark 14:61

I sat in that meeting surrounded by men.  I was the only woman on the coaching staff and that alone put me at a disadvantage.  But I never have had an issue with being “the only one.”  I frequently have found myself in the position of being the youngest, the woman, the questioning, the sober, the only one to say “no.”  So that evening was no exception.  What was uncomfortable was the man in front of the room threatening me.  He also threatened to have the softball program thrown out of the community center if I remained a coach.  

Something inside my head told me to do something I rarely do – keep silent.  I typically will speak up and defend myself but it was almost as though tape were placed over my mouth.  Partially out of a sense of shock and fear that this man might physically attack me and partially because of that voice I remained quiet as he ranted and raved.

When the ranter was out of steam, the president of the league stood up and with his large physical presence made it clear the man was done and needed to leave.  A vote was taken and I stayed part of the coaching staff.  When the meeting came to an end I was shocked again when the other men, many who had rarely given me the time of day, approached me and congratulated me on standing strong and being so “tough.”  As I walked to my car that night my legs turned to jelly and I collapsed in my car in tears.  The ranter’s words were painful but the words of congratulations also overwhelmed me.  I had finally done something they could all respect.  And it was all because I listened to that small voice to keep quiet.

Even though I experienced success that evening with my silence it can drive me bonkers reading how Jesus took the abuse from the Pharisees.  Of course, unlike Him, I couldn’t rain hellfire down on my accuser and work a miracle.  But Jesus knew exactly when to speak and when to stay silent.

Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry... James 1:19

And that’s my topic this week on being resolute in Christ – when to act or speak and when to rest or be silent.  Because frequently doing the exact opposite of what the world expects is exactly what we need to do to serve God righteously.

But how do we know?  It can be difficult to discern between our wants, needs and fears and the Word of God. I have found over the last few years, however, that God does make things clear when it is important.  Plus, knowing the character of God and Jesus and what is expected of us is tantamount in making good decisions.  God never speaks to our fleshly desires, encouraging us to indulge.  He is prudent, loving, kind, careful with resources, seeks justice and forgiveness, and above all He is holy.

Study the three main traits of Christ (justice, goodness, holiness) for thirty days, begin to practice them in your daily life, and see what God does…you won’t be disappointed.

Joyce Meyer, God’s Character

I’ve found it fascinating that people who want clear answers from God aren’t willing to actually know the character of the “person” from whom they are seeking answers.  Yet, I won’t go to a friend who clearly has difficulty with their finances and ask them for financial advice!  And I won’t seek fashion advice from someone that looks like they’ve just rolled out of bed every day.  

So much of obeying God’s and His Holy Spirit nudgings must start with knowing the road signs to even look for.  And then when we have accomplished that we must start paying attention and actually acting on those directives.

I love reading Sparkling Gems from the Greek each morning.  It’s a yearly devotional that takes scripture and studies it in the original Greek meaning.  Recently, the author wrote of how he was to attend a gathering of fellow pastors whom he hadn’t seen in awhile. He and his wife travelled to the city where the event was to take place.  As they were about to the leave the hotel a clear word came to him to not attend.  He first told his wife he felt the need to stay in the hotel.  But he went anyways not wanting to miss out on the fun.  Each step along the way he was told over and over to not go.  While at the event the message became almost overwhelming.  He left his wife to keep visiting and he returned to his hotel.  Upon entering his room, he realized they had been burgled.  All their passports, computers, important papers, jewelry and more were gone.  And he realized his fleshly desires overtook that warning voice.

How often have we stood in the midst of a situation that calls us to be an outsider, a dissenter, the weird one, the one to step out of line and answer the call of His voice?   And how often have we brushed it aside thinking we know better?  When we don’t know the character of God that will happen frequently.  But when we do know the character of God there’s no excuse.  We repent and tell God to give us another chance to serve Him rightly.

God will frequently call us in our everyday lives to do something that may help us or help others.  That cashier you want to be rude to because she is talking to another co-worker about her personal life? Ya, God might be telling you to say something incredibly kind to her or just keep silent.  That neighbor who yells at you because he doesn’t like where you put your trashcan?  God might be telling you to keep your mouth shut.  That trip you are about to take? He may be saying, “cancel it.” You won’t know if it’s your own worries or desires unless you know Him and His ways.

“But they refused to pay attention; stubbornly they turned their backs and covered their ears.They made their hearts as hard as flint and would not listen to the law or to the words that the Lord Almighty had sent by his Spirit through the earlier prophets. So the Lord Almighty was very angry.
“‘When I called, they did not listen; so when they called, I would not listen,’ says the Lord Almighty.  Zachariah 7: 11-13

God calls us to action and He calls us to inaction.  He calls us to speak and calls us to stay silent.  But if we worry too much about the world and what they will think if we obey those words, then we are sure to be judged.  We must stand resolutely when we hear that voice and through knowing His mind we will be assured He has our backs.

30daysofpraise, Bible, bible study, Christian, Christian Church, christian encouragement, christian men, christian podcast, Christian women, Faith, Jesus, Jesus Follower, podcast, Uncategorized

We Belong

Because you are his sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts,the Spirit who calls out, “Abba,Father.” So you are no longer a slave, but God’s child; and since you are his child, God has made you also an heir. Galatians 4:6-7

For a long time, I just didn’t feel like I “belonged.”  As a child, I didn’t have a group of friends to hang out with.  My one friend, a neighbor around the corner, frequently left me out of activities with her other friends.  And when I got into high school I felt more like I was on the edge of my friend group.  Fast forward to adulthood and I never quite fit in with the boozy softball coach crowd, the gossipy PTA crowd, or even the Girl Scout leader gang.  

And when I married I was an outsider to a large, wonderful family.  Yes, they welcomed me but I couldn’t share in all the stories from long past because I never lived in the town they were all from.  My own family consists of myself and my parents – who I see and speak with infrequently.  

I spent a lot of time in prayer over the years asking God to work His changes in me so that I could feel like I belonged, somewhere, anywhere.  As my faith has progressed I’ve come to realize that I first need to accept being a part of the most important family of all – God’s. I praise Him today that He sees us as His sons and daughters.  We are His beautiful children whom He loves unconditionally.  We belong to Him.

That’s been a hard message for me to soak in and accept.  When I stand in the mirror I’ve asked God to help me see what He sees.  To love myself as He loves me – no matter where else I may have felt rejected. 

And it’s funny how God’s ways work.  When I focus on God’s love, gifts and promises the more I feel that sense of belonging.  He places me with new people and new situations that He has prepared for me.  I slough off the old negative feelings and instead give all glory to Him who loves me and who draws me closer to Him.

I recently heard a lesson about belonging. As Christians we are admonished to “remember our last name.” Like children of our earthly parents we are to go about our lives remembering who we belong to and who we represent. That really hit home. When I accepted Jesus as my Lord and Savior I became a part of a special family. One where I’m expected to remember my last name and act like I belong to the Lord Most High.

It’s amazing how God gives us the next steps when He sees we are ready — when we start acting like He expects us to.  He brings in new people to our lives when He knows we can openly accept His new ways.  I find myself so incredibly blessed by, not only the women that have been populated in my sphere, but the men.  Strong Christians who love people.  Faithful Christians who serve others.  Young, old, every race and quirkiness. And I feel like I belong.


Bible, bible study, Christian, Christian Church, christian encouragement, christian men, Christian women, Faith, Jesus Follower, Uncategorized

A Mirror for Jesus

Lesson 3: Imitate good, not evil

Dear friend, do not imitate 
what is evil but what is good.  
Anyone who does what is good 
is from God.
3 John 11

Occasionally in our lives we are asked to state who we consider to be our “hero or who we most admire.”  According to the annual United States Gallup poll the incumbent president is usually top of mind when Americans name, without prompting, which man living anywhere in the world they admire most. In the 74 times Gallup has asked the open-ended most admired man question since 1946, the incumbent president has topped the list 60 times.

When you look at the list from 2020, four of the “most admired men alive today” are politicians, one is a government employee, two are businessmen, one is an athlete and two are religious leaders.  Billy Graham is the all-time vote getter while he was still living with 61 appearances in the top 10 of this list.  That fact made me feel slightly better.

Although as a society we seem to easily agree that most politicians are not typically ones to be trusted we, for some reason, continue to view them as someone to admire.  

Growing up I would have done a “hard pass” on who to write down when asked this question.  I lived a fairly sheltered life – not much TV, only one friend, my parents didn’t have many friends.  And I wouldn’t have written my mom or dad on that list.  At various times in my life I’ve thanked God for somehow keeping me on a halfway straight path due to limited guidance.

According to Forbes magazine these are the ten qualities people admire most in others:

  1. Humility
  2. The ability to learn
  3. Integrity
  4. Responsibility
  5. Resilience
  6. Compassion for others
  7. Respect for others
  8. Big visions
  9. Inspire others
  10. The ability to “reinvent themselves”

After reading this list, did anyone come to mind?  I doubt that it was a politician.  When I got married I finally met someone that does a pretty good job meeting the high standards of this list – my mother in law.  I set upon a path of being more like her.  Someone who is kind to everyone, offers a friendly “hello” at all times, thinks of and serves others, and is always looking on the bright side.  While attempting to mirror her I realized I had, in fact, been imitating someone else all along.  Someone who was inwardly focused, pessimistic, frequently angry, and had difficulty showing love.  

At the end of John’s letter to the church elder Gaius, he warns us to be careful who we choose to imitate.  He has made the case that another church leader, Diotrephes, while powerful and surely had a large following, was not up to the standards set by Jesus.  He instead turns Gaius to another Christian brother, Demetrius.

Demetrius is well spoken of by 
everyone—and even by the truth 
itself. We also speak well of him, 
and you know that our testimony 
is true.
3 John 12

You notice it isn’t enough to have others speak well of someone.  John reminds us that the “truth” must also be used as a measuring stick.  There are many famous people on Gallup’s “most admired men alive” list.  And many have well known, serious transgressions.  Carelessness with the truth has been one of those.  But because they are famous we humans tend to set many bad behaviors aside.

When I was coaching girls softball, I watched the habits and techniques of many of the successful coaches.  I gleaned a lot of good coaching skills from them.  But there wasn’t one, at the time, that I could name as most admirable.  Many parents, on the other hand, admired those coaches because they won trophies.  What they didn’t mind was the abusive behavior toward their young daughters.  Unfortunately, throughout my years in youth, high school and collegiate sports I found this to be frequently the case.  And parents expected other coaches to imitate this same behavior, thinking that was a winning formula.

Last year, my BSGs (Bible Study girls) embarked on a new study called “The Proverbs 31 Woman.”  Now there’s a woman to admire!  Here’s an excerpt from this long list of character traits to imitate:

She gets up while it is still night;
she provides food for her family
and portions for her female servants.
She considers a field and buys it;
out of her earnings she plants a vineyard.
She sets about her work vigorously;
her arms are strong for her tasks.
She sees that her trading is profitable,
and her lamp does not go out at night.
Proverb 31: 15-18

Each week we would take a verse and apply it to our lives.  From our relationship with our husbands to our finances, our work ethic to our own health we were presented with a truly admirable touchstone for our lives.  We cleaned out our closets and our minds.  We took a hard look at our finances and our eating habits.  We used God’s Word rather than the world of the flesh to imitate.

In our world today so many people are trying to imitate the latest Instagram influencer or sports figure.  We see “success” or fame as proof they are worthy of imitation.   We put people like Joanna Gaines or Elon Musk up high on our list. Meanwhile there are Jesus followers, who just do the good work day in and day out that truly deserve our imitation.

Join together in following my 
example, brothers and sisters, 
and just as you have us as a 
model, keep your eyes on those 
who live as we do.
Philippians 3:17

It might seem like it takes a real discerning, wise mind to know who to imitate.  But we all truly know when we’ve met that “someone.”  We just then need to measure that person against God’s truth. And yes, we all sin.  We all have something to which we must repent to God.  But I’d rather imitate a loving, self sacrificing person who doesn’t always use her time wisely than a person who causes chaos and destruction in her wake.

Take a moment today and evaluate the answer to the question, “Who do you most admire?”  Be honest.  It’s easy to throw off platitudes.  No one else but God is listening.  Until we can face the evil we are imitating we cannot fully become the mirrors for Jesus.