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A Day of Rememberance

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Today is a mixed bag of feelings for me.  I remember hearing about the twin towers and then watching television for several days with tears flowing.  I learned some things that day I’d like to share.

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1.  People will come together and help one another in crisis.

2.  People care!

3.  Some things are more important than politics and petty concerns.

4.  It does matter what you believe.

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The first two were obvious as we watched first responders and others take their life in their hands to help others.  People across the country stepped up to the plate in a big way, then and on down the road.  In fact, we still remember and honor those who died that day.  We still follow the lives of some of those who lost parts of themselves or their loved ones in that building.

The third reminds us that all those things we worry about and argue about won’t really matter if we lose our country.  We need to stop snarking at one another and come together in an effort to save this land.  Many of us are coming together on our knees.

Fourth, we are reminded that not every belief is valid.  In the USA (and I suspect elsewhere) we’ve come to the point where we want truth to mean whatever someone wants it to.  In this case, several young men believed that they were doing a service to their god by flying those planes into buildings full of people.  In fact, they willingly martyred themselves for this belief.  I believe they had a rude awakening seconds after the planes hit or went down.  How sad.

They weren’t the only ones with a rude awakening that day.  We learned how vulnerable we are.  We learned many things, good and bad, that have changed how we view the world around us.  I hope we will all choose today to remember those lessons and seek God for the restoration of our country.  These lessons were not just those of the people of the US either.  Everyone everywhere needs to learn what we learned that day.  Their life and their eternity may depend upon it.

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 What were you doing on this day?  What lessons did you learn?  How do you remember?

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Today is also my anniversary.  30 years!  I don’t know where the time goes, but I thank God that He knew better than I did who I needed and put us together.  I thank Him that He has kept us together through all the ups and downs.  I thank Him for teaching me some of those life lessons through my marriage.  I thank Him for teaching us what real love is through the hard times.  On September 11 of the tower tragedy, we did not celebrate.  We cried.   Today we celebrate the wonder of 30 years of life!

Brian’s mother (Ginny), the happy couple, My mother and father (Marilyn and Phil), and my son (Jason). My how life has changed 😀

What’s Your Beam?

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Sins of the tongue probably rate as the worst kinds of sins as far as harm to others goes.  Yet, we sit in our churches with blazing tongues, spreading hurt to all with no qualms.  While I believe homosexuality is a sin because the Bible says it is, I sometimes question the obsession with it that I see among Christians.  It’s like we’ve separated the sins into acceptable and unacceptable categories.  We have our pet sins; those go into the acceptable category.  Then we have the ones that don’t bother us as much; those go into the unacceptable category.

 

Let me tell you no sin is acceptable to God!

 

We are all sinners.  There is none righteous, no not one.  We cannot gloss over some sins and sit in our pews as holier-than-thou whited sepulchres, spewing ungodliness in our judgmentalness.  We ought to do one and not leave the other undone.  We should worry about sin – all sin – our own sin first.

 

The Bible tells us to take the beam out of our own eye first.  Then we will be able to see clearly to help others remove the speck in their eyes.  As long as we have these sins that we cling to and justify and ignore as ‘not so bad’, we will be unable to help others with their sin.  This is the problem when it comes to speaking out against sin.  We do not have the right to do so until we have cleaned up our own back yard.  I am not saying we shouldn’t speak out.  I’m saying we should clean up that beam and then speak out, when we have the right and the ability to help others in the same mess we found ourselves in.

 

We have the answer:  Jesus Christ.  But we besmirch His name when we excuse sin in our own lives while condemning others for theirs.  I have been asking God for over a year to show me the truth about these matters.  He is slowly but surely moving me into His will as He teaches me how to walk with Him and how to know Him as He truly is.  This is a difficult concept for most Christians,  but it is difficult in its very simplicity.  The same is true of salvation.  It is simple, and yet we make it hard.

 

So what beams do you have in your eyes, keeping you from seeing clearly? 

 

In this series, we will talk about the beams we can have and what they look like.  Tune in for more. . . .

 

 

But I need you!

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Tonight, I sit here just resting from the quiet and the stress of the week with my #2 granddaughter.  I get a few days off before I get my grandson, so I will be working on VBS and writing, writing, writing.  This week I did not get any writing done at all.  I did more the week I had the Mother-in-law and the #1 granddaughter at the same time.   I adore my #2 (my Rissa Roo).  She is, however, extremely needy.  She is #2 of 4, and often gets the short end of the stick.  Since the advent of her 2 yo sister, she has taken up baby talk.  This is one of many annoying habits, but it is one that compares to Chinese water torture nails on a chalk board.

I have tried many tactics to eliminate this habit (at least around me), but to no avail.  We did make progress this week, but it got to the point where I had to turn away from her and tell her she could choose to talk baby talk somewhere else or choose to play with Grandma.  The point was to show her that her choices are her choices – a habit if you will – and she has the ability, at 8, to make better ones.  We had a few hour long sessions with tears and more, but in the end, she was doing much better.  The thing is that this child is so needy.  She is also bossy.  Along with that and some other quirks she has picked up as a bid to get attention (unconsciously), something has gone wrong.

So what? you may say.  The point here is that the child is desperate for attention.  However, the things she does to get attention work against her bringing negative attention instead of good attention.  Of course, all children will choose negative attention over no attention.  In my little Rissa Roo’s case, I have to worry about her because the attention getting behaviors are so bad and so hard to take, even for her grandma who adores her!  I want to help her learn how to 1) entertain herself, 2) accept that she doesn’t need attention 24/7 (it’s never enough) and 3) learn that the negative behaviors are choices that do not work, and so teach her better choices.  She also talks a blue streak and needs to learn that it’s ok to be quiet sometimes, but that’s another story and may have help from her ADHD. 😀

Horizontal communication, that between us and others cannot happen in this kind of environment.  It may take an 8 year old a while to understand, but I know adults who have this issue as well.  They are overly needy and seek to have that need filled in ways that push others away instead of drawing them.  Sometimes, these behaviors are habits, learned early and left over from childhood.  Some of us outgrow these behaviors as we grow.  Others, either because they do not see them or because they don’t know any better, continue in behaviors that effectively cut off their ability to truly communicate with others and thus get their attention needs met.

Vertical communication, that between us and God, can look like this at times too.  We may not see it as ‘attention getting behavior’ (and neither does the child or the adult in the above paragraphs) but it works the same.  Let’s say God does something for you.  You say thank you (sometimes), but not much time lapses before you want something else.  Some people get upset if God doesn’t do what they want in the time they want, forgetting all that God has already done for them.  It’s like God has to prove His love over, and over, and over, and over.  Jesus death on the cross is proof enough, and if we get nothing else, it’s more than we deserve.  Yet we can act like a young child who loves mommy when she’s happy, but tells mommy she’s a ‘bad’ mommy when angry.

The Israelites displayed this behavior, and I believe God used their stories to show us how we do this too–so no judging allowed.  God would do miraculous things for them and as soon as life got a little tough, they would turn away from Him or whine because they are unhappy with the now.  They forgot the big things God did!  We may wonder how they could march across a sea/river on dry land, among other miracles, and ever gripe to God again, but they did.  And so do we if we do not watch out.  I sometimes wonder if it breaks God’s heart as much as it breaks this Grandma’s to see a child hurting and doing all the wrong things to deal with it.  I’m sure this is something He sees way more than I do:  People looking for love in all the wrong places. . . 😦

Do you have attention getting habits that interfere with your horizontal and vertical communication?  How do you keep a grateful heart, appreciating what you get, while not griping when things don’t go that well?  Anyone have advice for teaching this to an 8 year old?  I’d love to hear what you have to say about this topic.  

BTW–the other kids have wrong behaviors too, but they are just a bit easier to deal with and more amenable to correction.  AND I l♥ve my Rissa Roo no matter what she does or doesn’t do.  😀

Ten ways to love: Be real

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Our 6th installment in the Ten ways to love series:

6.  Share without pretending.

Ephesians 4:15 –“15 But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ:”

 

Hmmmmm, what does this mean?


This one is rather difficult.  I found others in my research who wondered about the connection between the statement and the chosen passage.

One response on yahoo answers:    Share without pretending means, Don’t pretend and do it because you actually want to. This is really what you desire to do. Not forceful desire but willingly desire. Without being a hypocrite or enforcing your pride or scam.

To that, I say, duh!  I mean, I agree.  This is an answer (and even the answer), but it doesn’t really tie in well with the passage.

 

A look at context

When you look at the context of the passage (see below), you find that Jesus is telling them to grow up in the Lord.  He tells them not to be like the Gentiles (unsaved), but to grow in Him, putting off the old man and being renewed in their mind.

 

The old man

I believe the passage, in saying speak the truth in love, is saying not to pretend to be what you’re not:  be truthful, be real, be a grown up in Christ.  When we share with others, do we do it for the right reasons?   Some people make donations for tax purposes or because it makes them look good.  While the charities they support appreciate the money, the motivation for the gift is questionable.  The donor pretends to be charitable, but it is not from the heart.

 

The new man

A person who has put off the old man, now has pure motives and gives in truth and without pretending.  He or she now gives because the love of Christ is present in his or her life.  I am not saying that people cannot be truly generous and sharing for the right reasons outside of God.  I am saying that a Christian who has matured in Christ will have a generous, sharing heart with no ulterior, hidden motives.  He or she will share without pretending, showing love, the love of Christ, generously and truthfully.

 

Secret Millionaire

As I type this, I am watching “Secret Millionaire”.  The Millionaire goes out incognito to check out various charities and then donates to them.  What we learn from this:

1.  When we share without pretending, we have to get out there, get in there, and get our feet wet.  There’s nothing wrong with charity from a distance, but if it’s possible to get in there and get to know people and help people, that is sharing without pretending.

2.  When we share without pretending, it makes a huge difference in the lives of those we share with.  Money is great, but when we share more — our talents, Christ’s love, everything we are — we touch people’s lives in ways we can’t even imagine, and we touch them for eternity.

 

►OK, that was my attempt at this one.  What do you think?  Can you find further answers in this passage? What about other ways to give without pretending?  I am open to hearing your thoughts on the subject.  Maybe one of you can clarify the connection for us. 🙂 

 

Ephesians 4:13-24:

“. . . 13 Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ:

14 That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive;

15 But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ:

16 From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love.

17 This I say therefore, and testify in the Lord, that ye henceforth walk not as other Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their mind, . . . 20 But ye have not so learned Christ;

21 If so be that ye have heard him, and have been taught by him, as the truth is in Jesus:

22 That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts;

23 And be renewed in the spirit of your mind;

24 And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.”

Ten ways to Love: Yeah, but…

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Our 5th installment of Ten ways to love is to:  Answer without arguing. 

Proverbs 17:1  Better is a dry morsel, and quietness therewith, than an house full of sacrifices with strife.  (KJV)

The Message puts it this way:  1 A meal of bread and water in contented peace is better than a banquet spiced with quarrels.

 

Argument

Argument (Photo credit: andrewmalone)

Anyone who has ever lived with an argumentative person knows exactly how true that statement is.   Have you ever known someone who couldn’t just give a simple answer?  They always have a “yeah, but…” or some other reply explaining why they are ‘special’ and your premise is wrong.  I think all of us answer with an argument at times, but the person who consistently does this is not saying, “I love you.”  They might be saying, “I’m better than you” or “I know better than you”, but not “I love you.”   I find that many of those who make this a consistent habit have no clue what they do to others.  In their mind, they really are special, know better, or simply want to make sense of the question.

English: Northern Mockingbird juveniles at a b...

English: Northern Mockingbird juveniles at a bird bath in Austin, Texas. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

How do you help someone who has no clue?         I don’t know.  That’s a rhetorical question 🙂  If you have the answer, let me know!

 

Since we already know we can’t help others, we can only look at ourselves.  Do we answer with an argument or do we listen and answer without arguing?  Human beings have this unique ability.  It’s called justification.  AND–it works best when pointed at our own behavior.  I of course, never have an issue with this. . . . . ;]  but just in case someone out there does. . . .

 

Anyway, back to the topic.

I have way too many people a person in my life who cannot simply answer a question without argument, and it drives me to distraction at times.  I call her on it, but she comes back with more argument.  This leads to more drama, which leads to anything but a feeling of ‘love’.   Responses often contain “Yeah, but”, “Well, I”, “You don’t”, and “I didn’t mean to” to name a few.   I have to admit I don’t always respond well to this.  Frustration probably tops the list of emotions that pop up.  How do you communicate with someone who doesn’t really hear you?  Instead of hearing what’s said, the arguer hears something they must take exception to.  I guess it’s a form of defensiveness.  I don’t know.  I just know neither party winds up feeling very good afterwards.  Neither person feels very loved or listened to either.

 

A very simplistic example of this:  

Adult:  “Go to bed.”   Child:  “But, I’m not tired!”

Adult:  “Go to bed.”   Child:  “I can’t sleep if I’m not tired.”

Adult:  “Go to bed.”   Child:  “Well, sissy doesn’t have to go to bed now.”

Adult:  “Go to bed.”   Child:  “Can I have a drink.”

and so on.        Can anyone say distraction technique?

The major theme in this scenario is:   “I don’t have to do what you tell me because…..”

 

Pride.  Is pride at the base of the argument.  I think I could argue that it is (tongue in cheek).   Pride and love, real love, do not go together.  In fact, they are diametrically opposed, and offering argument instead of answers says, “I don’t have to” or “I know better” or, well, you get the point.

 

Now for the Vertical

Maybe you never argue instead of answering others.   But how about God?   Do you question Him when He asks you to do something?  Do you have some reason why the commands (already given in the Bible) are for someone else and not you?  After all, you’re not very good at that, or you don’t have time for that, or ….    I don’t think we mean to argue with God, but too often, we do.  We can show Him love by obeying Him without arguing.

 

Sometimes, whether vertical or horizontal, it takes a lot of hard knocks time and maturity to learn how to answer without arguing.

 

What do you think?   Do you know someone like this, and if so, how do you deal with it?  Have you changed this about yourself?  Any tips for doing so?  My posts are often quests, because I don’t know it all.  I’m always interested in how others deal with various aspects of communication, so I hope you’ll share if you have something to say. 🙂

 

 

What are you kissing?

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Have I ever mentioned one of the reasons I do not like dogs?  They are soooooo cute!  But they are also really disgusting!  My sister’s dog (a big dog in a little dog’s body) is a case in point.  She goes outside and rubs/rolls/revels in whatever she can find that smells to high heaven.  Bath?  Only works till she gets done and out the door.  She also likes to lick people in the face, and lick herself in unmentionable places.  Many people think nothing of that, but I am not one of them.  I just can’t deal.

The same should be true of Christians when it comes to sin.  Do you go out and ‘rub/roll/revel’ in the dirt of sin?  Do you call others to do it with you?  Is the stench of sin clinging to you?

This article by Dr. Stephen Davey says it better than I ever could.  I hope you’ll drop over and read it.  Besides a laugh or two, it’s a great point.

Dirty Kisses

What have you been kissing???

Wild Pigs, Everglades, FL, USA

Wild Pigs, Everglades, FL, USA (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The light version

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Esau Selling His Birthright (painting circa 16...

Esau Selling His Birthright (painting circa 1627 by Hendrick ter Brugghen) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Once again I taught a lesson to Jr. High students and they had no idea what I was talking about when I mentioned Jacob and Esau.  Church kids who do not know the stories of the Bible.  Where have we been?  How have they made it this far with no knowledge of these things?

 

One problem is the onset of what I call “Christianity light”.  The Bible is no longer a focal point of teaching in many churches (and families).  I remember having to deal with students (and my kids) boredom at Bible stories they heard repeatedly.  But, I would rather have that problem than this one.

 

Even then, students often failed to see the stories of the Bible, the people of the Bible, as real:  real people with real emotions, real desperation, real problems, real joys, real lives.  Jacob was a real person who became the father of the Israelites.  Esau, his brother, sold his birthright for one bowl of stew!  Have you ever ‘sold your birthright’ (lost something important) for a momentary pleasure of sin?  Do you identify?  How about the drama that went on in this house as parents favored a different twin and Momma helped Jacob take what wasn’t his.

 

bibles

bibles (Photo credit: fancycwabs)

These people are very real people, whose lives were often better than any soap opera.  They are fascinating.  Do we not see them as thus because they’re in the “Bible” so it  must be a lesson or something?  Have we become apathetic about the contents of the Bible and the stories it contains – the HISTORY it contains?

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Bible Study 2

Bible Study 2 (Photo credit: DrGBB)

I guess this post could classify as a rant, but it really isn’t.  I want to understand so I can make a difference.  How can our kids (or we) learn the meat of Christ if we’re not even getting the milk?  How real are these people to you?  Do you tell your children about them?  Grandchildren? Others?  Do you have any ideas about how we could solve this problem?

 

It so makes me sad that I have to spend so much time just telling the story, giving little time for building faith or even learning the basics.

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What about the story of Jesus?  The movie, “The Passion of the Christ”, probably has done a

The Passion of the Christ

The Passion of the Christ (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

great deal toward making the story of Jesus real.  The scenes are difficult to watch at best.  They bring home the very real brutality of what Jesus took for us.  And we have no idea what it was really like, physically, spiritually, emotionally, mentally, the absolute torture He chose to endure for us.

 

If we really understood, even at a basic level, the reality behind the “stories” we treat so lightly, we would begin to see changed lives.  We would change.  We would become passionate about telling others.   We would understand the depths and height and breadth of His love for us.  Without this understanding, how can we expect the next generation of Christians to really be Christians?  Maybe that’s what was meant by “will I see any faith on the earth” when I return.

 

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Christmas ball - Christianity

Christmas ball – Christianity (Photo credit: nabeel_yoosuf)

Do you get it?  Do you have ideas for ways I can bring this alive to my students?  What went wrong?  What can we do to fix the problem?  . . .

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