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From the Mouths of Babes

Youngmotherhood

This week is a celebration of life’s greatest nurturers.  Nurses, teachers and mothers are given days of recognition for their huge contribution to society.  When I think of these professions, I immediately think of children and how much time and care is poured into their lives.   Nurses, of course care for all age groups, but looking at their profession, the way they nurture children is through physical care and health.  Teachers nurture children through educational growth and being mentors to them.  Mothers nurture children in all aspects of life through physicals, emotional, mental, and spiritual needs.  But, my thoughts this week primarily go straight to the child.  I’m a mother, my son just turned eighteen.  He’s entering adulthood, but he will always be my child. Motherhood is one of the greatest and most important roles that I have.  It’s a hard job, emotionally and physically draining at times. However, children are a gift that cannot be measured or taken lightly.   I have grown close to many kids throughout my life, those who are in my family, those who were my sidekicks before I was a mother, and those who I’ve taught or worked alongside of through the years.  Each of them has given me something to learn about life and has a huge place in my heart.

Children can teach adults as much as adults can teach kids.  I really love kids because they are so transparent and speak directly from the heart and with considerable bluntness.  Even the mischievous ones can’t help but tell on themselves, without meaning to.  As much as we pour into their lives, they reciprocate just as much into ours.  I met a kid last week who was visiting my next door neighbor.  I went outside to take out the trash, when the little girl approached me.  In my neighborhood, the houses are super close, so we often share visitors without set boundaries.  Anyway, she greeted me and asked me my name.  I told her and she replied with her name.  Her name was really similar to mine.  She proceeded to tell me about her parents being split up and in each of them in other relationships, among other little details.  The funny thing with kids is that they can immediately spill their life history in less than five minutes, if they feel the need to do so.  Anyway, when I came back into the house after our conversation, I started thinking about how she trusted me enough to unload on me and how easily she let me be a sounding board.  This instance, made me think of Jesus and how he said in the Bible to come to him as a child.  He continues to say; whoever humbles himself like a child is greatest in the kingdom of Heaven.

How often in our adult life do we casually go up to God and just unload on Him?  How often do we treat Him as the friend He really is? How easily do we trust Him?  How quickly do we confess the things that bother us or admit our shortcomings?  Anyone who has been around kids for just a little while will quickly hear at least one or two innocent confessions, even it’s in a roundabout way.

So, this week as we celebrate teachers, nurses, and mothers, let us recognize as well how much life children give to us.  Listen to them and feed back into them with rich nutrients of life that will help them grow in every dimension of their being.  Help them to know that they are valuable and are loved.  And remember how much you can learn from them.

Children grow up fast, enjoy every moment with them.

“Bring up a child by teaching him the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn away from it.”  Proverbs 22:6

When I think of kids, I always think of this literary piece as well.  It’s one of my favorite readings. I had to include it in this blog.

On Children – Kahlil Gibran

 And a woman who held a babe against her bosom said, Speak to us of Children.

     And he said:

     Your children are not your children.

     They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself.

     They come through you but not from you,

     And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.

 

     You may give them your love but not your thoughts,

     For they have their own thoughts.

     You may house their bodies but not their souls,

     For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow, which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.

     You may strive to be like them, but seek not to make them like you.

     For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.

     You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth.

     The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite, and He bends you with His might that His arrows may go swift and far.

     Let your bending in the archer’s hand be for gladness;

     For even as He loves the arrow that flies, so He loves also the bow that is stable.

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Pointing Fingers

“Who are you to judge the life I live?  I know I’m not perfect -and I don’t live to be-but before you start pointing fingers…make sure your hands are clean!”   Bob Marley

I have been slowly reading a book called “Fearfully and Wonderfully Made,” it is an interesting read that is causing me to reflect on different things about the Christian life.  It is written about the physical body in scientific terms and speaks about the body of Christ in a metaphorical way.  In turn, this morning I read about fingers and so I decided to explore the Bible and see what it said about fingers.  The first reference that popped up was the magicians referring to the plagues of Egypt as the finger of God.  The next reference was God’s finger writing on the tablets for the Ten Commandments, then later on in the New Testament, it led me to Jesus’ finger writing in the dirt in John 8.  I love this picture of Jesus.  The teachers of the law and Pharisees bring this woman accused of adultery in front of Christ.  They are pointing fingers at this lady for what she has done and Jesus in turn kneels down and starts writing on the ground.  I wonder what he wrote, the Bible doesn’t say.  It just says that he writes on the ground.  Perhaps, he wrote down the Ten Commandments, since the teachers and Pharisees brought up the law.  Maybe he was drawing a picture or maybe he was just doodling.  We really don’t know.  But we know how He reacts.  He draws or writes something, I picture him doing it quietly and then he stands up and says whoever is without sin, be my guest at throwing the first stone.  He then goes back to the ground and writes in the dirt some more.  Imagine how angry the accusers are.  Imagine how ashamed the accused is.  But also, imagine the looks of the crowd, wondering exactly what Jesus is up to.  Slowly, the crowd and accusers leave the scene and only Jesus and the woman are left.  After all the accusers and crowd have left, Jesus stands back up and looks at the woman.  He says, “Where are your accusers?  Has anyone condemned you?”  She replies and says, “No one has.”  Then Jesus counters with “Then I don’t either, now go and sin no more.”

I started thinking about how often Christians and really just humans in general are quick to point the finger at someone.  We are quick at judging and placing blame elsewhere instead of looking at ourselves in the mirror and letting God work on ourselves.  Typically others respond to finger pointing by giving the finger back to the one pointing it.  Pointing fingers only causes the other person to feel anger, shame, and annoyance with the pointer.  It doesn’t change whatever they have done or are doing.  It more than likely just fuels the sin instead of putting the sin out.  I know that times in my life when I’ve been accused by someone for something, I’ve just rebelled even more.  That’s not Jesus’ response.  The thing is, God wrote the law…He made the rules.  He saw that man couldn’t keep the rules perfectly, so Jesus came in the flesh to be save us.  When Jesus bent down and wrote in the dirt, then talked to the woman, he told her not to sin anymore.  In other words, he was extending forgiveness to her, he offered salvation.  But, the ball was in her court whether she accepted his forgiveness and mercy and changed.

I guess the reason I’ve reflected so much on this is because I come across people a lot who clearly aren’t living a sinless life, but I don’t see where if I scream at and accuse them or remind them that they are in need of judgement where that would help anything. Instead, it would only cause them to flip me the bird and tell me to get the heck away from them.

Galatians 3:13 says, “But Christ has rescued us from the curse pronounced by the law. When he was hung on the cross, he took upon himself the curse for our wrongdoing. For it is written in the Scriptures, “Cursed is everyone who is hung on a tree.”   Jesus saves; he extends his hand of forgiveness to all of mankind.  He does so with this amazing love that is hard to run from if you clearly see it.  When Jesus turned to look at the lady who was standing there and he asked those questions….I’m sure she never felt so much love in her entire life, just by his actions and grace.  So tell me, which way is better at encountering those who are lost?  I’d rather do it Jesus’ way.

 
 

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Thoughts Under a Microscope

thoughtbrainA thought cradled for awhile may dissipate into a thrown away opportunity. I’m sure there have been many ideas that I’ve discarded due to fear of failure or rejection. Some reoccur out of the blue, reminding me there is a reason for them resurfacing in my brain matter. But still, I shove them away or forget them once again.
Other thoughts are harder to push away like those of what ifs, why’s or if only. Don’t you hate those types? They haunt you at the oddest times. They remind you or your mistakes. They pinpoint weaknesses within. They jab you with guilt that was erased forever ago.
Then, there are those thoughts that take you away from your circumstances, the daydreaming thoughts. Most of my daydreams as a child were thoughts that ran amuck slinging colors and ideas on the canvas of my impressionable mind. These thoughts carried me to places I wanted to visit and I imagined living at these places and doing things that I’ve never done. The imagination of a child is a room filled with bright colors, uncontrollable laughter, and surreal happiness.
There are those thoughts that you allow to escape your mouth that are laced with anger, hate, jealousy and bitterness. Those thoughts are arrows often shot at those closest to you and then some ricochet wounding innocent bystanders. Sometimes these thoughts are shared with others with a whisper in a corner. The whispers are poison filled darts.
Thoughts, whether kept to yourself or shared can be an igniting spark in both a positive or negative way, depending on the source of the thought. When we allow God’s thoughts to become our thoughts, only good can happen. God is truth, our own fleshy thoughts confuse us and impair what God wants us to see and know. Examining the source of these thoughts come from dissecting the fruit of the thoughts. “But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.” Galatians 5:22-23. If the fruit is opposite of this, it is rotten, spit it out and throw it away. Discard the thoughts that destroy. “Do not act like the sinful people of the world. Let God change your life. First of all, let Him give you a new mind. Then you will know what God wants you to do. And the things you do will be good and pleasing and perfect.” Romans 12:2 (NLV).

 
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Posted by on September 21, 2015 in Spiritual Reflections, Writing

 

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Lessons Learned

Today, I’ve been reflecting a lot on what I’ve been teaching the teens in youth.  We’ve been exploring wisdom and the book of Proverbs.  The older I get, the more I realize that I still have so much to learn.  Everyday there is an opportunity to learn something about yourself, God or others, if you are tuned in to what the Teacher wants to teach you.  I’ve always liked the book of Proverbs, even when I was running from God.  I think the reason I like it so well, is because it simply shows you the cause and effect of your actions, good and bad.

I came up with three quick “Rascally Proverbs” that I’ve learned through my life so far. The first one is “The more crow you eat, the easier it is to swallow.”  It stinks to admit when you are wrong.  There have been moments in my life that I’ve thought beyond a shadow of a doubt that I was right about something, only to quickly realize I was completely wrong.  Nothing is quite as embarrassing to have to eat a heaping pile of crow in front of those you’ve vigorously argued against.  The crow slowly morphs into a nice fat slice of humble pie with each swallow.

The second one is “Jealous or untrue words against someone is like a baseball bat to the knees.”  The bible says, in the book of James, that we praise God with our tongue and with the same tongue we turn around and curse our brother who is made in God’s image.  Blessing and cursing come out of the same mouth and it shouldn’t be.  The old phrase, “sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can never harm me,”  is a big gigantic lie.  Words hurt more than anything else someone can do to you.  Words of others can paralyze you.  Words can weigh you down.  Words can make you unsure of yourself.  Words can make you doubt.  Words can cause you grief.  Words can make you sick.  Words can make you bitter and angry.

Yet, if we allow the holy spirit to guide our words they can bring peace to someone’s sorrow.  These words can propel people toward a goal.  These words can lift heaviness off of someone’s shoulders.  They can make someone believe and trust again.  They can make people smile.  They can make people grow and flourish.  God reminds me daily to bridle my tongue, sometimes I let words slip and I need to quickly apologize when that happens.

The third and final Rascally proverb of the day is, “Forgiveness rescues your heart and soul from disease.”  There are people throughout my life that were hard for me to forgive for various reasons.  I remember being so weighed down by unforgiveness that it anchored me in hate.  I was hurt and instead of letting hurt go, I fed it.  That unforgiveness and hurt made me rebel against God and any other authority in my life.  I blamed God for what people did, instead of seeing that it was their fault, not His.

But, as I progressed through my life, I learned that I diseased my heart by letting unforgiveness grow there. I tried to keep the hurt enclosed in a petri dish inside my heart but it was growing out of control.  I was destroying myself with it.  That unforgiveness was released when I saw someone I hadn’t forgiven; completely broken themselves.  I saw them sobbing and spiritually devastated.  I could’ve easily laughed and say that’s what they deserve, but instead I saw them as human again.  Weak flesh, like me.  Fragile, so easily broken.  Compassion overwhelmed my heart and I went to them and let them cry on me.  I started crying too; with each tear drops of forgiveness melted within me.  The balm of forgiveness repaired hearts and relationships that day.  “Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other;as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.”  Colossians 3:12-13.

God, continue to teach me daily. Help me to see when you are trying to show me something and help me to extend your love to others.

 
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Posted by on January 18, 2015 in Spiritual Reflections

 

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Is Integrity Lost?

Is integrity lost in our society? I feel that it is lacking greatly in character among many that I encounter on a day to day basis. It saddens me that the world has become such a self-indulgent monster, devouring whatever lies in the path before or ahead of it. Integrity is defined as the quality of being honest and fair. It’s also defined as a firm adherence to a code of especially moral or artistic values. I grew up in a time that we were taught to be mindful of others around us, to give an honest answer, and to be ready to pitch in whenever a job needed to be complete. Now, it seems you have to prod people to notice their behavior, you have to pull teeth for the truth, and you have to beg for something to be done.

Being a mother, I hope that my son will grow to be a man of integrity. I know that I am not perfect, but I hope that the lessons his father and I teach him stick. It worries me that he has to grow up in a world that seems anything but honest. Those who are honest have to question others simply based on the lack of honesty as a whole. This is what happens when God isn’t the center of our lives. My prayer is that people will awaken from this monster of self-indulgence and that they will run away from it; that they will see the need of God being the center. My prayer is that people will diligently seek to be changed by God to where others can’t help but see Him residing in their lives. If we say we are living for Him then why do our fruits stink to high heavens? It’s because we are living for ourselves and not Him. We want the benefits of God but not the sacrifice that comes with it. We would be so much better off if we would yield to God and be his true representatives, don’t you think?

“The godly walk with integrity;
blessed are their children who follow them.
When a king sits in judgment, he weighs all the evidence,
distinguishing the bad from the good.
Who can say, “I have cleansed my heart;
I am pure and free from sin”?
False weights and unequal measures[a]—
the Lord detests double standards of every kind.
Even children are known by the way they act,
whether their conduct is pure, and whether it is right.”

Proverbs 20:7-11 (NLT)

 
 

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Ready for New Things

Do you ever get tired of routines? Do you get tired of being in the same repetition or cycle of difficult circumstances? I personally hate repetition. I don’t even like repeats of movies or television, unless it’s been a really long time since I’ve seen it. I get bored with routine, although I always seem to fall into it. At first routine is comfortable, but then I start to get antsy because I want something different. I’m ready for new things. It may be because I see new life abounding around me because of springtime. It may be because it’s time for some things to change. I know that I’m certainly tired of feeling up against it, but that’s because I try to solve my own problems instead of letting God solve them for me. Pondering all these thoughts lead me to Isaiah 43. The first thirteen verses, God reminds Israel that He is beside them and that He is with them during tough circumstances. He is beside us to save us from these things. In verse eighteen, God says don’t think about the past. And the verse that helps me most today is nineteen, “See, I will do a new thing. It will begin happening now. Will you not know about it? I will even make a road in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert.” I’m ready to see the road of escape that God has for me in my wilderness. I’m ready for the living water in my dry routine life. I’ve just got to remember that God is on this life journey with me, He wants me to not forget that He will lead me through it.

 
 

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This Bread is so Tasty

B-read“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.”  Matthew 5:6

Since I was asked a few years ago to lead the teens, I have dug into the word more than I ever have in my life.  That’s a sad statement to make, but I’m just being honest. I used to do Bible study more as a religious checkmark on my homework assignment.  So, with that kind of attitude, I didn’t get much out of the word.   But when I begin studying the word and what I want to teach the teens, I find myself digging further and further into the Bible.  I feel like I learn more than I can tell the teens.   I don’t want to stop reading and when I do have to put it down to do life, I can’t wait to open it up again and learn more.  The more you read the word, the hungrier you become.  The more you want to come to the Lord’s table and eat.  Then when you are away from it, you’re thinking about what you’ve studied and it brings life to you to sustain you for the rest of the day.

When I prepare my lessons and teach the teens, I’m often aggravated afterwards  because I forgot to tell them some other points that I learned.  God is showing me that all I can do is tell them what I had for breakfast, lunch, or dinner.  They have to choose to eat or come back for seconds.  To enjoy the word, you often have to dig yourself because that’s when you are most satisfied.  Those are the times that God reveals to you how to deal with whatever you are going through.  Those are the times that you filled.

“Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost.”  Isaiah 55:1


 
 

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