Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Be careful when you blame the devil. 

How's that for an opener? Is Dolly going soft toward Lucifer? Is she joining the "dark side?" 

Heavens, no. But I am bothered by statements that put all the blame on Satan and none on ourselves. As fallible humans, we have the ability to make bad choices, to make mistakes, to use poor judgment, and to just be wrong. And when our mistakes are discovered it's so easy to say "Satan is really working hard today" or "I'm not going to let evil win!" After all, it is much easier to hand the blame off to the devil instead of owning up to our own blunder. 

All week long we know Sunday is coming. Gracious, we even look forward to it as part of our "weekend." We relax on Friday night, do some chores on Saturday; maybe we throw something on the grill and head inside after the marshmallows are browned and the lightning bugs are sleeping. We set the alarm and fall into bed. Zzzzzz. Thank goodness for the snooze button. 


Morning already? What am I going to wear? Where's my Bible? What time does service start? I.Need.Coffee.  

You get into church while the greeting time is going on and what do you say?? 
"Satan sure wanted me to stay home today!" 

In a way you are correct. Yes, the devil would have been thrilled if you had stayed home; after all, you hung out with him all week! But you have to own up to your poor judgment all along and the fact that, for 6 days prior, church was an afterthought. Now that you are up against the wire, it's suddenly vitally important. Wasn't it important enough to plan for? 

What about when we make mistakes in our home, at school, or at work? It's so easy to say that Satan is attacking us when, in reality, we may have spoken too quickly, been ill-prepared, or have neglected to put the time in that we need to in order to perform well. Again, the devil gets satisfaction from the outcome, but we have not lived up to the standard set for us. 

Colossians 3:23  Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people. 

We must, as Christ-followers, be ready and willing to admit our own flaws without casting blame on someone else -- and in many cases that "someone else" is Satan. After all, by placing the blame on him, I'm suddenly freed from any type of reparation. 

Oops...didn't get to that appointment today. Satan's really working overtime on me, ha ha! 

Yeah. No. 

In light of the recent SCOTUS decision, I have been convicted that I, too, have laid the blame at the feet of evil without first placing my knees at the foot of the cross. We all knew this was coming. We saw the warning signs but we - I - remained silent. Now we are reaping and reeling from the consequences. It's easy to say that "it's the way of the world" and "we live in a godless society." People, there is "the church" and there is "the world" and that is simply how it is going to be. Yes, the line has been blurred by some whose interpretation of Scripture differs greatly; but the truth is still the truth and God alone will have the final say.

And Satan cannot make me do anything that I don't allow. 

Until my day of judgment I plan to live my life according to God's plan, on His terms, and in His will to the very best of my ability. Will I slip every now and then, and fall short? Yes, I'm human. But I must, and I will, take the responsibility for my own mistakes and bad choices. And I will be careful where I lay the blame.  

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

There was a little turtle in the yard the other day. I spotted him first thing, when my husband and I were headed out to the back porch to do our devotion and say our prayers. 


To say I was excited is an understatement. I love turtles. I mean, what's not to love about a turtle? Determined, purposeful, peaceful, and efficient. And cute. Don't forget the cuteness. Take another look at the picture if you need to. He's really a handsome turtle. 

So there he was, making his way through the grass. It was like a thick jungle to him. And the distance must have seemed endless. What if that had been me? Would my journey be as steady and purposeful? Would I have continued to struggle and push, only to stop and rest for a bit and then begin again? But on he went, heading only to the place God was telling him to go to.  Once or twice he'd hunker down and I would almost not be able to see him. (Yes, ok, I'm busted: I was praying with one eye open sometimes) But it was a turtle-- in our yard-- and I wanted to enjoy every moment of it! 

It really didn't take him long to move from the middle of the yard where he was when we first saw him to the side yard. Of course, now we were all on High Alert since we needed to check all around and under the cars before we left. It was just like when I had the wreath on the door too late after Christmas so I called it a Valentine wreath (hey, the red worked, don't judge) and the finches came. I could not handle the pressure of the birds on the door. Now to have a turtle somewhere under a car or a tire...too much. 

But this turtle, just like us, was not alone. He had Someone watching over him that was WAY better than me. He had his Creator watching him, guiding him, and protecting him. Although the turtle was entrusted to us to care for him and to have dominion over him, we need not try to interfere with the plan God had for him. Sure, the grass was high for that turtle; but it wasn't high for God. 

As I struggle with the high grass of life I hope to be reminded of the turtle and his journey. The God who gave him purpose gives me mine. Did the turtle hear his Maker tell him where to go? I don't know; I don't speak Turtle. 

But God does. 

And He speaks to all of us through the Holy Spirit living within us. So press on, little turtle, and so will I. Because the one Who made us has a plan, and I can't wait to see where it takes us. 

Monday, June 1, 2015

Behave yourself. 

How many times were you told that as a child? Some of us were told over and over. Some of us only needed to be told once or twice. 

Apparently some of us weren't told enough. 

I was recently reminded of something that I taught my sons at a very early age: "Everything you say and do affects someone else." Think before you act. Or react. 

It's very simple, really. Just ask yourself: how will my action, or reaction, affect someone? How will my words be received? Will they uplift someone? Will they inspire someone, causing encouragement and kindness? Or will they change someone's countenance from that of joy to that of pain and embarrassment? 

It can happen in the blink of an eye. And the pain can have lasting effects. 

Recently I heard someone make a blanket statement in front of a large group of people. The speaker was speaking in generalities and he talked about some character flaws that he had observed. Rather than give encouragement and offer a plan for change, he simply left the audience feeling confused and insulted. And discouraged. 

You see, he didn't, I'm convinced, think before he spoke. He neglected to look at  the Big Picture before he lashed out. He just said what was on his mind. And left a wake of hurt, discouragement, and resentment. The very thing that breeds- you guessed it- more bad behavior. 

Because everything you say and do affects someone else. 

So when your behavior and words are delivered in such a way as to tear down someone, the other person has to really struggle to avoid reacting in a like manner. It's easy to become defensive when we feel we are being attacked. 

Why would you want to do that? Why set that example?

As a ministry leader I try very hard to be...cautious. I have the kind of face that can easily be misinterpreted. When I concentrate, I look sad. There is a picture of me in my high school yearbook that was taken when I was taking a test. In it I am concentrating. When the yearbooks were distributed I got so tired of people asking me why I was so sad in that picture-- I was actually happy because I was taking a test in a class I did very well in. You'd never know it from the photo, though. Even I thought I looked sad. 

Does this look like the face of someone making an A on an exam?
(actually it's the face of someone totally annoyed that her picture is being taken while she's concentrating)

So I try to be very careful about how my looks can be perceived. In addition, I tend to speak in an abrupt tone. I was told not long ago that I "don't sound like I'm from southern Virginia." Too many trips to Manhattan? (no such thing!) So, knowing that I can be a little..."cutting" in my tone, I try very hard to soften my delivery. Those who know me well can read my tone and they understand that my remarks are not meant to be hurtful, but others may get the wrong idea and come away hurt or angered. 

Have I always gotten it right? No, I haven't. Sometimes I've been misunderstood. Sometimes I have shown my true feelings and opinions. I'm human. But I do realize that we are not, as Christians, meant to cause hurt to anyone. Ever. 

"Do everything in love." 1 Corinthians 16:14

"Therefore encourage one another and build each other up" 
1 Thessalonians 5:11a

Even as I am writing this blog I know that some will read it and think that I am talking about them or someone they know. So should I not express myself? Should I remain silent? I think not. This is, after all, America. I am free to express myself and, in fact, I am justified biblically. It is the job of the older women to speak wisdom and truth, and I am doing it in love, my dear sisters. It is my prayer that it is received well and that it will be meditated upon and will not be hurtful but it will be inspiring. 

Because everything I say and do affects someone else. 

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