Hatred….

There isn’t a “reblog” connected to this blog post on the Gentle Reformation site by Kyle Borg, but here is the link and here is the text. EXCELLENT post!

Many of us woke up this morning to the absolutely tragic news of a mass shooting on the Las Vegas strip. Videos show the fear and horror as gunshots can be heard breaking through the noise of the crowd. So far, reports indicate a lone gunman opened fire from the 32nd floor of a hotel into a crowd. The initial numbers are nothing short of devastating. Fifty-eight dead and more than five hundred injured. Fifty-eight people. Fathers. Mothers. Sons. Daughters. Brothers. Sisters. Friends. Almost sixty people who will not walk past the threshold of their homes today because their lives have been snuffed out by an act of violence. Events like these trigger our collective memory—Pulse nightclub, Virginia Tech, Sandy Hook, San Bernardino, and the list goes on. My heart is broken and so is the heart of this nation.

Hatred. Yes, that’s what it is. Hatred. There’s no other word for it. We can see it. We can feel it. We can hear it. To deny its presence or pretend it’s something less is to willingly ignore the obvious. It would be like closing your eyes and insisting that the sun—bright and warm as it is—doesn’t exist. To admit hatred is to admit that something is very wrong. In response, Country star Jake Owen said: “This isn’t what our America is supposed to be like.” No it’s not. But more, it’s not what our world is supposed to be like. There’s a big problem.

And, in displays of hatred like this, many well-meaning people want to find a cure for the hatred. Gun control. Less political rhetoric. Stricter laws. Statements of solidarity. Positive feelings and well-wishes. Are these cures? Well, a cure depends on knowing the source. When doctors deal with sicknesses they don’t simply treat the symptoms they have to treat the source. Without knowing the source a cure for hatred can only address the symptoms. So, what is its source?

The Bible says, “The heart is deceitful above all things and desperately sick” (Jeremiah 17:9). Jesus taught, “What comes out of a person is what defiles him. For from within, out of the heart of a man come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person” (Mark 7:20-23). What if that’s true?

If it’s true then it means we need a cure that goes more than skin deep. We need a heart cure. Politics can’t change hearts. Laws can’t change hearts. Psychology can’t change hearts. Positive vibes and well-directed thoughts cannot change hearts. Rather, the Bible says, only the gospel of Jesus Christ can—only it can address the problem of the heart. Jesus said, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I came not to call the righteous, but sinners” (Mark 2:17). The gospel offers a cure for the sickness of the heart. The gospel is a message that does heart surgery and gives a heart transplant, “I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh” (Ezekiel 36:26).

Today, I grieve the hatred I see and hear. Even more, I grieve the hatred that is in my own heart. But I’m also reminded why we need the Great Physician, “The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners” (1 Timothy 1:15). So let us mourn with those who mourn, and do so for as long as it takes to bring the heartsick to the Physician and the life-giving medicine of the gospel.

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Speak Life – Live Like You’re Loved!

LifeLikeYoureLovedFinally, I finished the four day – stretched out to two weeks – devotional, “Speak Life” by Brady Boyd. I have relished each day, over and over, hoping it is finally entrenched deep in my soul. I’ll give an update in a month or two. I can say, I feel myself holding my tongue more and more and working on “Speak Lord” on my lips. I’m grateful I have a few role models. If you missed the previous three posts, you can click and start them here.

So here is the final devotion followed by Hawk Nelson’s “Live Like You’re Loved” – a great way to end this!

Speak Life Day 4
Self-Talk That Is Tuned Into God

I want to return to the scenario of the negative-self-talk morning, the one where you find yourself waking after a restless night saying, It’s going to be a long day. What if instead of indulging gloom-and-doom tendencies, you were to say to yourself, I’ve had better nights of sleep, but it’s a new day, and I’m grateful for it. I have everything I need for life and godliness this day. Let’s see what unfolds?
I’m guessing things would go better for you.
I know they go better for me when I do that.
When we make a habit of communicating with God, we start believing that what he says about us is true. When we don’t, we allow the other, louder voices to capture our attention and frame the course of our days.
I distinctly recall when my kids were twelve and ten that parents of teenagers would eye me pityingly and say, “Hope you’re ready for what’s coming, Brady. The teen years are tough.” Once Abram and Callie were bona-fide teenagers, new acquaintances— also parents of teens—would discover the ages of my kids and the naysaying would escalate: “It’s like aliens come down and inhabit them, right? Like, what happened to my sweet, loving kids? All of a sudden they’re selfish, entitled brats who just want money! I bet you know just what I mean!”
I never really understood this tendency to declare awfulness over a seven-year-long period of time. That’s a long time to eat the bitter fruit of negative self-talk, don’t you think?
Instead, as my children entered their teenage years, I meditated on thoughts like these:
This is going to be our best era yet. Pam and I are going to love parenting teenagers. Abram and Callie are smart and funny, and our family is going to have an awesome time while they’re teens. Whatever challenges we face as we parent teens, we will overcome together, and with love on our side.
Today Abram and Callie are seventeen and fifteen, respectively, and proof positive that experience flows from expectation. If we expect awfulness from life and loved ones, awfulness shows up every time, but if we expect greatness, then greatness tends to emerge instead.
So far the teen years have been great.

Scripture references:
“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.”
‭‭Philippians‬ ‭4:8-9‬ ‭ESV‬‬

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.” Proverbs‬ ‭3:5-6‬ ‭ESV‬‬

“I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”
‭‭Romans‬ ‭12:1-2‬ ‭ESV‬‬

When I heard this song, I knew I was ready for this final post! 

Speak Life – Remedial Training

HeartI did say I was going to post each day, one of four devotionals which are from Brady Boyd’s Speak Life Devotional. But I’ve had to slow down really meditate on each message I am trying to get into my heart, mind and spirit! So let’s review before we conclude with Day 4. For the full daily devotional, click on each “day.”

Day 1 I will speak words that are relevant, authentic, life giving, and wise, and I will rarely—if ever—stick my foot in my mouth. I will be someone who blesses, not curses, with the words I speak …

Scriptures: “Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.” Ephesians 4:29 ESV

“pray without ceasing,” 1 Thessalonians 5:17 ESV

Day 2 I want to speak words that gladden the heart of God.

Scriptures: “Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.” Colossians 4:6 ESV

“Judge not, and you will not be judged; condemn not, and you will not be condemned; forgive, and you will be forgiven….” Luke 6:37 ESV

Day 3 When we walk through our days with a “Speak, Lord” on our lips, leaning in to hear the whispers of heaven, longing to fulfill the wishes of God, God looks at us and says, “You’ll never go hungry from this moment forward. You’ll always be satisfied in me.”

Scriptures: “but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans‬ ‭5:8‬ ‭ESV‬‬

“but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct,” 1 Peter‬ ‭1:15‬ ‭ESV‬‬

This week, I’ve been a bit obsessed with TobyMac’s song, Speak Life (it’s on Day 1) as well as wanting to learn more about Brady Boyd. I have reached out to Pastor Boyd, but haven’t heard back from him. He’s over a huge church, so it’s no surprise. While looking at what motivated these two men to write about Speaking Life, I found a short YouTube video with TobyMac explaining why he wrote this song. It’s helping me and I hope it helps you:

 

Speak Life Day 3 of 4 Devotional 

This devotional made me look up the author, Brady Boyd. He is the senior Pastor at New Life Church in Colorado Springs, Colorado. As a child, I lived in Colorado for six years – so I have a bit of a connection without knowing it when I picked this devotional. My husband and I flew there twice for vacation and to visit relatives. Now I want to go back and go meet him! He has not only authored this book, Speak Life (devotional contains excerpts), but several others. He is used by God in a mighty way! But he knows his shortcomings….so today, this starts with a humble experience. My prayer is if he figured out how to control his gunslinger tongue, there is hope for me based upon this one little testimony:

Connection

When I was stepping down from the platform that Sunday morning, and that man laid into me before so much as saying hello, my first inclination was to power up over him, telling him he had no right to speak to me that way. My second was to patronize him, refreshing his understanding of the counseling services our church offers people—like him—with anger issues.

What I rarely feel like being in the face of someone’s rage is a person of peace, a person connected to God and therefore hitched to nonaggression and steadiness and joy. And yet that’s exactly what God drew out of me that day when I turned to him instead of giving in to my own inclinations.

Then I remember the thief turned toward Jesus with humility and placed his life in the Savior’s hands. “[And] Jesus answered him, ‘Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise’” (Luke 23:43).

Over and over again we have to do this if we plan to walk humbly with God.

Over and over again we need to tell God, “I’m the sheep, and you’re the shepherd. I’m listening for your input. I’ll do what you say.”

When you and I choose to stay intimately connected to Christ—determined to hear from him, ready to serve his purposes whenever he calls—we get handed opportunities to convey truth to the people God loves. Yes, there are times when God shows up directly and communicates firsthand to his followers—in various places in the Bible his words came in a whisper, in a shout, in a burning bush, in a storm—but more often than not, God looks to ordinary people (and even an occasional donkey, as in Numbers 22:28) to deliver extraordinary truth. 

He looks to you and to me, even as he overlooks our inadequacies, and says, “You be the one to speak on my behalf. You go say what I’m asking you to say.”

This is the whole enchilada right here. What I’m about to tell you will change your life. When you press into the presence of your heavenly Father, you’ll speak with pertinence, passion, and power. What you say will matter. What you say will stick. And what you say will call upon others to live well.

When we walk through our days with a “Speak, Lord” on our lips, leaning in to hear the whispers of heaven, longing to fulfill the wishes of God, God looks at us and says, “You’ll never go hungry from this moment forward. You’ll always be satisfied in me.”

Scripture references: 
“but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans‬ ‭5:8‬ ‭ESV‬‬

“Your boasting is not good. Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump? Cleanse out the old leaven that you may be a new lump, as you really are unleavened. For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed. Let us therefore celebrate the festival, not with the old leaven, the leaven of malice and evil, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.” ‭‭1 Corinthians‬ ‭5:6-8 ESV‬‬

“but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct,” 1 Peter‬ ‭1:15‬ ‭ESV‬‬

OH, here is the secret:  “….When we walk through our days with a “Speak, Lord” on our lips, leaning in to hear the whispers of heaven, longing to fulfill the wishes of God….”

Previous Devotion

Next up, Speak Life – Remedial Training

Speak Life – Day 2 of 4 Devotional

I hope and pray others will benefit from this devotional as well. As we learned in the last post, found here, this devotional contains excerpts from a book by Brady Boyd. I don’t really know anything about Mr. Boyd, but I sure can relate to him where he claims he is a self proclaimed “gunslinger of painful words.” I can relate….

If you know me, you probably would not think of me in those terms, but ask my husband, Bill! He’s seen me at my worst and he has been the recipient of some of my gunslinging painful words. Fortunately, today (August 19, 2017), we are celebrating our 28th re-marriage anniversary! You see, after 13 years of marriage, I divorced Bill. You can learn more here if you aren’t familiar with our story. Suffice it to say, we have now been married, on and off, for 42 years. We both changed a lot and our second marriage is now WAY better than we could have ever imaged marriage. So there is hope for me after a decade or so of us practicing the BEST Principle for our marriage. Now to practice a few steps from this devotional

Please be patientBut still, God isn’t finished with me yet….I am still in need of better control of my emotions/words/thoughts/deeds and actions! My mother in law has a picture with this quote on it – she kept it on her dresser for as long as I remember. While she had a few quirky things about her, she was about as perfect of a person (or at least mother in law) as I know. So I never got it, but in recent years, it is starting to ring true for me!

Let’s get back to the devotional:

The Four Conversations: Part 2

Conversation 2: Between You and Yourself
Come on, admit it. You talk to yourself too. The real question here is whether that self-talk is false or true.
Once you’ve checked in with God, it’s wise to run some quick diagnostics on yourself. Is your self-talk helpful or harmful as you approach this exchange with someone else? Are you believing the best about God, about yourself, and about the person you’re talking with? Or are you falling prey to lies?
This second conversation—the one that happens in your heart and head—is crucial. If your self-talk is laced with disparagement and denigration, then you’re better off heading back to conversation number one and giving God an opportunity to recast that inner dialogue.
Conversation 3: Between You and the Enemy
Third, it’s absolutely critical to acknowledge that you have a very real enemy, and he is very interested in how you use your words. He loves it when you use them to hurt people rather than heal them, to promote yourself instead of God.
After checking in with God and getting your self-talk truthfully reset, you’ll do well to get into the habit of assessing the Enemy’s level of access in a given situation. Are you about to communicate from a place of anger, hunger, exhaustion, exasperation, desperation, resignation, or fear? These postures are ripe for Satan’s picking, so you might be better off keeping your mouth closed—at least until you’ve chilled out, settled down, eaten a snack, taken a nap, and moved in your attitude to a place of peace.
Conversation 4: Between You and Me
The fourth and final conversation is the one between you and me. Even after researching this book and practicing its tenets for more than two decades, I still find it astounding how kind, timely, and wise the words I speak to others can be when I’m faithful to steward the other three conversations well. Of course, that’s probably because those words aren’t completely my own but carry the weight of a higher influence—the One through whom all true healing and wisdom really come.
I want to speak words that gladden the heart of God. If you do too, then I invite you to read on.

Scripture references:
“Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.” Colossians 4:6 ESV
“For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ,” 2 Corinthians 10:4-5 ESV
“Judge not, and you will not be judged; condemn not, and you will not be condemned; forgive, and you will be forgiven….” Luke 6:37 ESV

WOW, LOVE this: “I want to speak words that gladden the heart of God.” I don’t know about you, but this is speaking clearly to me….now to put it into practice!

Next up, Day 3 of 4

Speak Life – Devotional

Speak Life

By Brady Boyd, restoring healthy communication in how you think talk and pray.

I just love it when I am down in the dumps, our Lord reaches down to me and pulls me up with something amazing! And this morning it started with the daily scripture on my YouVersion Bible app:

What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me – practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you. Philippians 4:9

Then the app asked me if I’d like to see devotional plans related to this scripture – and then I saw it, “Speak Life.” Oh, yes, one of my favorite (I have about 1,000) worship songs. But this one is really special as I try, oh how I try, to speak life to all my loved ones, friends and family. But I fail time and time again.

Right now, it’s over my soon to be 4 year old grandson. I love this precious little boy, Colin, more than I ever thought I could love a baby – even my own baby. We have been there for every important moment in his life  – for the most part. We have a special bond, his Pee-Paw and me. But he has a typical little boy streak in him that can rile us both up.

We’re preparing for Colin’s 4th birthday party. He is so excited about it and we’ve told him all of his relatives will be there – so he will rattle them off, including me (his Mee-Maw) and his Pee-Paw. To make a long story short, this precious little guy can really rattle your cage and he did a few days ago. I asked him to get into his car seat while I put his almost 2 year old brother in his. By the time I got to the other side of the car, Colin was ripping open the console that has lots of keys, change and nicknacks that don’t belong near children. (Shame on us grandparents). Needless to say, I didn’t speak life into him and he un-invited me to his birthday party! OUCH

Before I start a plan, I read about it: “Written by a self-proclaimed ‘gunslinger’ of painful words, learn to speak words not of recklessness but of restoration to God, yourself and to those you love. Taken from Brady Boyd’s new book, “Speak Life.”  I never heard of him, but the plan was also in conjunction with Dave C. Cook. Him I know so that was all I needed….but somehow I had hoped it was related to TobyMac’s song, Speak Life. As far as I can tell, it wasn’t.

I plan to post the daily devotional over the next four days as I pray I can overcome my gunslinging painful outbursts. Here is Day 1 of 4 from the devotional, “Speak Life”

The Four Conversations
God is eager to equip every one of us to use our words to bring not selfishness or haphazardness but rather encouragement and strength to life. This is a radical shift from how most people communicate. As it relates to the words we say to one another, we think the “thing” can be summed up in terms of extroversion or timing or winsomeness or quickness of wit, but there is so much more going on in our verbal exchanges.
Every time I open my mouth to speak to you, I’m revealing how I’ve been doing in three other “conversations”: what I’m saying to myself (self-talk), how well I’m refuting the lies of the Enemy, and how closely—if at all—I’m walking with God.
To the extent these three conversations—between me and God, between me and myself, and between me and Satan—are being managed poorly, I face a correspondingly higher risk of saying something idiotic and/or hurtful to the people I love. But to the extent these conversations are managed in the manner God intends, I will speak words that are relevant, authentic, life giving, and wise, and I will rarely—if ever—stick my foot in my mouth. I will be someone who blesses, not curses, with the words I speak in the fourth conversation: the one between you and me.
So how do we leverage the opportunity for good that exists each time we open our mouths to speak? One simple conversation will get that ball rolling, and it’s the most important of the four: the one between you and God.
Conversation 1: Between You and God
Getting good at communicating well begins, interestingly enough, with prayer.
Prayer?
Yes. Right. Prayer.
It’s important to steal away in the quiet of a given day to communicate with your heavenly Father, but equally important is the practice of speaking to him and hearing from him while in conversation with others. As words are flowing from your mouth, seek input in real time:
How can I serve your purposes in this person’s life, God?
What words are fitting for this situation?
What are you after here, Lord?
Where are you working here?
How can I be of help?
When you and I seek God’s wisdom—when we lean in to hear his voice and pursue divine insights before we open our mouths—we stand a 100 percent better chance of doing good instead of harm. Any conversation you have with another human being ought first to be a conversation between you and God: What are you saying to me, Lord? What are you up to in my life? Why are you having me communicate with this person? And what do you want me to say?
“Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.”
Ephesians 4:29 ESV
“do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.”
Philippians 4:6 ESV
“pray without ceasing,”
1 Thessalonians 5:17 ESV

Click here for the link to the book which can be purchased wherever fine books are sold!

Next up, Day 2 of 4

 

 

My Biggest Problem

Sunday August 6, 2017This was the title of our sermon Sunday, 8/6/2017, at Spotswood Baptist Church (link goes to the sermon). It really spoke to me so I knew I had to write a blog post about it. Maybe it will speak to someone else as well!

Before the sermon started, I looked up the scripture reference, Galatians 2:20:

I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.”

I love this verse! But it doesn’t give me a clue as to how this relates to my biggest problem. We love our Pastor, Dr. Drew Landry. He is an outstanding teacher. He usually says the sermon is for himself, but this time, he said it’s for all of us! WOW! How does he know ALL of us? We are a bit big, as in a mega church if you go by the fact we have three sermons on Sundays and a huge campus with lots of outreach.

Then he hits us, “What is your biggest problem?”  Many of us wrote down an answer.  I wrote down. “Me.” I am my biggest problem. I just get in the way of God’s work and I think sometimes I really aggravate my husband. Even our oldest grandson has spells where he says, “Don’t talk to me MeeMaw!”  That’s my grandma name. I can tell he’s mad at me for some reason. OUCH! See, I must be my own problem because otherwise, how could I upset these two precious guys????  Continue reading