Change

This is my son. So proud of the man of God he is becoming.

athoughtfulnerd

Another informal and unprofessional post coming right up:

Change is hard, and for some it’s harder then it is for others. For me, it’s harder then it seems to be for most others.

 

 

 As the end of my second week of high school comes, the change (slowly but surely) begins to get easier and easier. 

I also realize how difficult it is for my family as well as me. For the first week, I was so engulfed in whatever emotion happened to be upon me on that particular day, that I neglected to realize that it wasn’t just me. I think a lot of us when we are having a hard time, for whatever reason, often don’t think about how our struggles are affecting the lives of the people around us. Personally, I know that I have been in complete disarray over this whole change thing, but you…

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I’ve Fallen And I Can’t Get Up

 

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The Lord helps the fallen and lifts those bent beneath their loads

 

Psalm 145:14

 

Let’s be honest. Some days it just feels like too much. When you get out of bed in the morning and you’re already tired and feeling beaten down, there is not much room for any more stress and strain.

 

Right now I’m afraid I’ve fallen and can’t get up.

 

I’m struggling. Not with anything earth shattering. Just life. And change. And adjusting to life’s changes and my decisions. I’m struggling with other people’s decisions. I’m struggling with other people’s struggles.

 

Life. Death. War. Hatred. Disappointment. Sickness. Fear. The loads get heavier.

 

In the course of last week, I struggled with the deaths of two high school classmates. This was their choice. I also struggled with the death of a movie star I didn’t know but who had been part of my life for most of my living memory. This was his choice. The logical part of my brain says that I had no part in these things. I hadn’t seen my classmates in 24 years. I had never met that movie star. I did not cause their suffering. I did not affect their choices. And yet I’m caught feeling off balance by their choices. I find myself dwelling. I find myself worrying that others in my life will make choices I can’t stop, can’t help, can’t change.

 

Also last week I dropped TechnoTeen off at high school. I’ve never dropped him off at school before. School was in our kitchen. We (Mr. Incredible and I) had prayed about this decision to send him out into the world to gain from teachers well suited to teach him things he’s interested in. It’s a small charter school geared toward technology, right up his alley. At each step we prayed for God to block the path if it wasn’t right but the blocks never appeared and we moved forward. I expected culture shock on his part. A hiccup to his routine that would pass quickly. But he struggles. Not with the schoolwork. He’s doing great in his classes. But he’s quiet and reserved, picky about who his friends are. He’s lonely in the crowd. I understand and yet I can’t help him. Now I see this human who is dearer than life to me struggling not from his choices, but from mine. I am the cause of his suffering.

 

His sister is struggling. She has rarely had a day that didn’t include her best friend, her brother, right there with her. She’s lonely and the adjustment to this is harder than I figured on. She also is suffering because of my choices. I don’t think I can stand it!

 

How does God stand it? How does He look at us and see us struggling and stand the heartbreak of seeing those He loves suffering from choices made?

 

I don’t know. Furthermore, I don’t have a nicely wrapped up conclusion to this post. I’m still walking it out and probably will for some time to come.

 

What I do know is that God is still here in my questioning. In my worrying. In my tears I cry when no one is looking. He is caring for me in my double-mindedness. He is helping me bear the load when I fear the burning feelings in my chest will crush me. He’s keeping me from running back to the familiar to avoid adjustment pains. He’s whispering that He suffers too from our choices but He’s never ever going to leave us to suffer alone in them.

 

Please say a prayer today for all families who are dealing with the painful burden of suicide. Say a prayer for those who do not remember that He is helping them as they are bent under their loads. Say many prayers.

 

Soli Deo Gloria

 

Shay

 

Broken

 

The sacrifice you desire is a broken spirit. You will not reject a broken and repentant heart, O God

Psalm 51:17

 

 

Broken. Another thunder storm, another plate shaken off the wall of the dining room. The second one in a week. Weird. FunnyGirl texted me on my way to Bible Study “Well there goes another plate”. Those plates have hung there for a couple of years now with no problems so to lose two in a week was just puzzling.

When I got home that night I found the pieces of plate laying on the kitchen table. Mr. Incredible had gathered them up from the floor of the dining room and, recognizing that all the pieces seemed to be there, had laid them out for me to see. I agreed. All the pieces did indeed seem to be accounted for. All that we needed to do was procure some Krazy Glue and reunite the chunks into a whole.

The next day, Krazy Glue in hand, I set about to rebuild the broken plate. All was going well until I found this:

Broken plate 2

That, my friends, is a missing piece. I looked around the table, I looked around the floor, I searched the dining room. No luck. “That must be the pottery dust I vacuumed up” surmised Mr. Incredible. “It looks like Chicken Little where the sky has fallen” quipped FunnyGirl.

Oh well. It was mostly there so I finished up, let it dry and hung it back on the wall.

I was glad to be able to patch it up instead of throwing it out in the garbage. One little missing piece isn’t enough to make me reject it. No one eating dinner at our table would be likely to notice the missing section. That is, if we don’t point it out.

I think it will be okay barring another thunder clap so close to the house. I’ve heard it said that things that are glued back together are actually stronger at the glue lines than elsewhere on the item. Broken bones are stronger at the point they have been knitted back to together than at places that have remained unbroken.

I love how God uses everyday stuff to teach me real truths about Him. As I looked down at the broken plate, I could so clearly see the brokenness of people. Hit hard by storms, dashed against the hard surfaces of life. Needing to be gathered up, recognized as broken but fixable, and then patiently put back together and often stronger at the broken places than we were before. Maybe with pieces missing (even a loving Father allows us to have scars and consequences from our sin) but often we are the only ones who know about those unless we choose to share them.

Does anyone CHOOSE to be broken? Not usually. But often God requires that we be broken. He requires a broken spirit so that we have no choice but to turn to Him to be remade, strengthened. A broken spirit that He has patiently mended can show us how loved we are, how precious to Him that He would take the time and care to put us back together. He will never reject your broken heart, never throw you away when a missing piece is discovered. He will proudly put you back on display as a treasure. And He will never point out to others where the sky has fallen. He is so good!

Soli Deo Gloria

Shay

Shame

Nor can the gift of God be compared with the result of one man’s sin: The judgment followed one sin and brought condemnation, but the gift followed many trespasses and brought justification. Romans 5:16

When I was little I had a friend named Jarrod. Our parents were good friends and the two families spent a good deal of time together. Once when Jarrod and I were about 4, my parents went away for the evening, leaving me in the care of his parents. I loved Jarrod’s parents. His father was a pastor (in fact, the pastor who would baptize me a few years later) and his mother was just lovely. So I was very happy to have endless hours with my friend and his family. Part way through the evening, nature called and I had to use the bathroom. Jarrod went with me. I was just returning my shorts to the proper position when there was a loud knock on the door of the bathroom. Jarrod’s dad, the pastor, was demanding to know what we were doing in the bathroom. At 4, what we were doing was totally innocent. WE were totally innocent. But by his angry tone and then his rebuke about being in the bathroom at the same time, a new sensation washed over my young mind and heart. Shame. I’m sure my eyes must have been as big as saucers. I felt like a bad girl. I remember running upstairs and crawling under a bed to hide myself from their disappointment and anger and accusing eyes. I was overwhelmed by this new knowledge that people I loved could see something shameful in me. I remember crying, desperately wanting my daddy to come and rescue me. I could never un-know that shame existed in the world. I could never again be free of the understanding that my actions could bring shame. Even shame I didn’t deserve. Adam and Eve lived a blissful life in the garden. Not just the beauty of it and the abundance. Not just in the wonder we find in newness. They knew no discouragement, no anxiety, no self-doubt. They knew no shame. They were truly free to enjoy the world around them, basking in the Father’s love and presence. Then came the fall. No longer content with their Father’s presence, they sought equality with Him. And their eyes were opened to knowledge from which He had wanted to spare them. As a parent I can understand this about Him. I’ve done my best to shelter my kids, especially when they were younger, from knowledge that was too heavy for them to carry. I wanted to protect their innocence for as long as possible and the joy and freedom that innocence would give them. I wanted to hide from them the knowledge of shame. Often kids think we are just trying to keep them from having the “fun” that grown-ups get to have. They have no idea we want to protect for them that feeling of total freedom found in pure innocence. This is what God wanted for His first children. But once the fruit had been bitten, awareness of their nakedness poured into their hearts and minds and with it the understanding of shame and doubt and guilt. And they ran and tried to cover their shame and they hid from the eyes of the Father and the disappointment they knew they would see there. And I’m sure they wept, desperately wanting their Daddy to rescue them. And God saw all of this. He knew what they had done. He grieved, I’m sure, for all they had just lost by this one decision. He called to them, asking where they were even though He knew. He gave them the chance to be strong in the face of their shame. To do otherwise could have handicapped them forever. There is healing in confession that can’t be found in being confronted and berated. So they emerged and confessed (although with a good amount of buck-passing 🙂 ). And what happened next was pure love.

The Lord God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife and clothed them. Genesis 3:21

And God saw them and their puny effort to cover their shame. He could have left them that way, covered in itchy leaves, as a further punishment for their disobedience but He didn’t. Genesis tells us that He made them coverings of soft skins and HE covered their shame. Softly, tenderly, lovingly. Oh there were consequences. There are with sin. But if we sit in our itchy leaves it’s our own fault. God brings conviction to us but never condemnation. Condemnation comes from the same serpent that introduced Eve and  Adam to shame. Ever since Adam and Eve, ever since God covered their shame with His love, He has been doing the same for us if we will let Him. His Son, Jesus, came to cover our shame once and for all with the soft covering of His blood. Take off the leaves, people! Come out of your hiding place when He calls for you and allow your Daddy to cover you with softness and forgiveness. Soli Deo Gloria Shay

Do We Let Him Fight for Us?



 

The LORD will fight for you; you need only to be still.
Exodus 14:14

I have two words guaranteed to start an argument this week between even good friends and family. Ready?

HOBBY LOBBY

I’ll even cop to getting in on the Facebook blowups myself.
I won’t rehash anything and I won’t even give you my opinion since it’s not germain to this post. Suffice to say that this has been just one more skirmish in this battle we seem to be in as Christians and Americans right now. It’s a battle between liberal and conservative, between evangelicals and progressives, between personal responsibility and government overreach, and, dare I say, between freedom and oppression (I can’t believe that’s even a possibility in America now!).
If you comb the news, you will daily find stories of Christian Americans now being forced to fight for the right of religious freedom. I’ve written about this in the recent past. ( Read here: http://wp.me/p4ejTy-4M</a&gt;)  And for many months, it’s been the owners of Hobby Lobby fighting the US Government not to be forced to provide certain drugs to it’s employees to which they have moral objections.

For months we’ve watched news outlets update us on the latest legal wins and losses. But we haven’t really heard the owners of Hobby Lobby at all. They certainly were paying for top-level legal minds but mostly they have said very little. I submit to you that they have been letting God fight for them while they have been still.
This country was birthed in battle and it comes naturally to our DNA to fight for ourselves. But that’s not what the Bible tells us to do. The Bible says to be still. Stop striving and let the Lord fight for us. I’ll admit to some confusion on this point. Are we truly to simply sit and let the enemies overun the camp? Are we not supposed to take the moral stand for Christ? Do we let the morally bankrupt win the day over and over? Being a person naturally given to anxiety and frustration when faced with something I can’t change, I find it both hard to stand still and freeing to let it go.  I have an overwhelming need to control the situation.  I think that if I’m not actively involved in the sword wielding, the battle will be lost!  Yes, Lord, I know what you’ve said in Your word but you can’t really mean we’re supposed to do nothing!

Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.
Ephesians 6:13

Ephesians makes it clear what part of the battle is ours.  We are to put on God’s armor.  And then we are to stand. But having taken that stand, we must then be still and let the Lord bring the victory because He’s the only one who can. We cannot, through the most eloquent speech or vitriolic rhetoric, change anyone’s heart or mind. As hard as we dig our heels into the ground we’ve staked, so too does the opposition.  The owners of Hobby Lobby did not win their battle.  God did.  Their lawyers did not emerge victorious.  God did.  God placed those Justices on the bench.  God gave the financial resources to Hobby Lobby to bring the fight.  God touched hearts and minds of those tasked with ruling.  God won the battle and God will, ultimately, win the war.  The Bible tells us this is so.  Satan has in the past and will again win skirmishes.  But the war will be God’s triumph.
We all have battles. We are all called by Christ to take a stand from time to time. Not all of us will have to take our stand to the US Supreme Court. But, like the owners of Hobby Lobby, we are to take our stand and then be still while He fights for us. We cannot always win but He never loses.
What battles have you fought lately? Which ones are still raging? Are you trying to win on your own or have you finally decided to stand still and let Him bring the victory? I want to hear about them!
Soli Deo Gloria
Shay

 

You’re Not Worthy

Do not call anything impure that God has made clean

Acts 10:15

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It’s fullblown summer and one of my favorite summer traditions is now in full swing. Every week my kids and I meet church friends at the local state park pool to spend the day. Our two families are nearly identical: Dad, stay-at-home Mom, 2.3 kids (one teen, one tween), homeschoolers, active in the church and diligently seeking the Lord day by day. We two moms sit on lounge chairs gabbing about faith and life while the kids dive, swim, and slide down the water slide into the olympic sized pool set in the middle of a wooded park. Heaven.

We usually share the pool with a busload or two of kids from day-camps, teenagers out of school for the summer, out-of-towners camping in the park, moms with toddlers, and grandmothers who are kid-sitting for working parents. It’s a motley crew to be sure. There are people of every race and creed there in that water. There is every socio-economic strata represented. There are trim people and heavy people. There are tattoos and piercings. There are people I smile at in the line as we wait for the gates to open and there are people I would choose not to interact with because they don’t belong to my island.

My island? Yes. Let me explain: Several years ago when our kids got to the age to begin joining teams and taking part in the community-at-large, I made an observation that we had become the minority. Our family with our long marriage (even the grandparents and great-grandparents had all been married to the original spouses), our respectful children, our faith, our manners had become a rarity. We didn’t sit at the ballfield hurling curse words and belittling the children and each other. My kids didn’t talk back to us or speak rudely to each other or to those around them. You get the idea. We were “normal”– for 1950’s America. I decided that we lived on an island of decency and moral uprightness and that the population on our “island” was small and shrinking. Given my inclination to be judgemental, creating this island in my head and voting people on or off of it at a glance was an easy task. In the lingo of my Southern heritage: “Honestly, people should just act right! “ And by acting right, I mean act like me.

How does this relate to our recent day at the pool? I’m getting to that. So last week, we settled ourselves into our favorite lounge chairs and began to chat. Our kids were across the pool and at 14, 14, 12, and 11 they don’t require constant parental attention (especially with several life guards present) but still we are always aware of where they are. A little boy and girl had appeared in front of us (like right in front of us!) and were jumping off the edge over each other’s heads into the water. I’d seen these kids come in with two women . I’d heard these women talking and they definitely did not live on my island! Coarse language, poor grammer, teeny bikinis (seriously, at a certain age shouldn’t it be illegal to buy teeny bikinis? Like alcohol age limit in reverse? Signs in the stores should read: You must have been born after 2000 to purchase a two-piece. But I digress 🙂 ) They were unkind to the kids prior to entering the pool area and once inside they heading to a corner to claim their own lounge chairs. Thankfully across the pool from us. They took a few moments to take “selfies” of themselves in their teeny bikinis in various sexy poses. They had no idea the kids were with us across the water.

After a bit, I had entered the water to goof off with my kids and their friends. As I stood there, I saw the accident coming but couldn’t move quickly enough to stop it. The little girl took a running jump and a leap and landed right on the little boy’s head. I got him out of the water as he held his head looking dazed. My friend sat him down on the end of her lounge and checked him out. I looked around for the women he’d come in with. Their lounge chairs were empty. The boy, Michael (age 7), said she was his grandmother. I heard my buddy ask him if he felt ok and could she pray for his hurt head. I was still looking around for his guardian. I walked to the snack area, I walked into the locker room. No grandma. Michael said he thought he was ok and went back into the water in front of us. 15 minutues later sexy-selfie grandma and companion returned from their smoke break, never looking for the kids.

I was incensed. These precious children! If they’re treated like this in front of other people, what must life at home be like? Just act right, people! I was in full judgement mode by this time.

As I fumed and we returned to our conversation I felt the Lord begin to speak to my heart. I looked over at Grandma and Friend. I watched them take a few more selfies. My disdain and coldness began to abate. I watched them wander back out of the pool area, leaving the children once again for another cigarette. I heard His voice in my spirit “They are also my beloveds”.

But Lord, they’re acting like the lowest form of humanity! Look at them over there half naked and crude! They don’t talk right, they don’t act right, they’re endangering these children with their carelessness! Why can’t people just do better and act like decent citizens?”

They are my precious daughters too. You don’t know how they were raised, what they’ve walked through. They are doing the best they know how. You don’t get to set the standard for acceptibility in My sight. There are days that YOU don’t measure up to the high standards you think you’re applying to others but I don’t vote you off the island do I?”

Well, properly chastened by God, I asked forgiveness and pondered what He had shown me for several days. Then I came upon today’s scripture while reading a book on the Apostle Peter. Ouch! Who was I to call someone “unclean” whom God had redeemed? I realize the passage is talking about not getting caught up in religious legalism and rules but wasn’t I doing the same thing to everyone I deemed unworthy to occupy my lofty island? My island. Perhaps it’s time to leave that acreage and dive into the ocean of humanity all around me. No longer is God going to let me draw my skirts aside and hide behind “proper behavior” and “manners”.

I will probably always struggle with being judgemental. I will always refuse to act with bad manners. But I will also now refuse, to the best of my ability, to decide who is worthy and who is not. He died for all of us. And we are just doing the best we know how right now.

Soli Deo Gloria

Shay

Opposition From A Sinful World

Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.”

Hebrews 12:1-3

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I read a news story today. It wasn’t front page. It was kinda hidden. But after reading it, I didn’t know whether to feel mad, sad, cold, or scared. It was a story chronicling the the plight of a baker in Colorado who was being brought up before a civil rights panel for refusing to bake a wedding cake. For a gay couple. The baker offered to make them anything else they wanted, but he would not make for them a cake that was to celebrate their wedding because that violated his Christian belief that a wedding, a marriage, was Biblically mandated to be between a man and a woman. So the couple filed a lawsuit with a Colorado discrimination board. And that board found him in the wrong and ordered him to change his policies and send his employees to “sensitivity training”. They also mandated he was to submit quarterly reports testifying to whether or not he had been requested to bake wedding cakes for any other gay couples. Did I mention that gay marriage is illegal in Colorado?

Now this man, this Christian man, didn’t bar this couple from his store. He didn’t hurl insults or call them names, he didn’t burn a cross on their lawn. He was respectful of them as humans and by all accounts he was courteous and kind. There is no mention made that he preached at them, numbering their sins, quoting the Bible at them in order to make them feel bad. Where was his crime that he must now operate as if in some Orwellian Big Brother State where the thought police are watching? His crime is that he refused to bow down to the new idol of culture.

In an act of incredibly brave civil disobedience, he has refused to either change his policies, file the paperwork or ask his employees to be “reprogrammed” and “sensitized”. The baker is not backing down, although he is also not raising a loud fuss. He has simply stopped making wedding cakes for anyone and, as usually happens when a Christian stands up for the laws of God, God has blessed him abundantly. He’s selling enough cookies, brownies, and cupcakes to do very well.

So I’m still deciding whether to be mad, sad, or scared. Christian persecution throughout history is nothing new but Christian persecution in the United States is new and it’s both heartbreaking and a little frightening. I’m feeling a little like Shadrach Mesach and Abednigo with a King trying to force me to bow, to swallow the rich food called political correctness. The furnace is being stoked up hotter and hotter. Will I stand strong? Will I say we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter. If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it…”

I confess that one of the most disconcerting aspects of this new world order is the new sensation of being hated for my beliefs. While believers in other countries have faced this for many years, decades, centuries, those of us in this country have not. This, a country founded on the Bible. It is almost unbearable to me! Yet that same Bible warned us that this was coming. And He gave us encouragement in this:

If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. John 15:18

One thing is for sure, if we are being hated for being His, if we are pressed and condemned, we are in good company but it doesn’t make it any easier.

If Jesus was walking among us today, He would not hate homosexuals. He would probably have dinner with them, infuriating many church goers. He would dare modern day Pharisees to throw the first stone. But He wouldn’t perform their marriage ceremonies. Given today’s culture, that act alone would land Him before a Civil Liberties Board, and He would be ordered to undergo “sensitivity training”.

I think it’s time for all believers to take up some acts of gentle civil disobedience. Wear the Ten Commandments on your shirt when you go into a public building. Teach our children to pray silently at school. Refuse quietly to conform to the culture.

I can feel sad that this country has caved into the pressure of an evil world-view. But I refuse to be scared and I refuse to bow down. The Bible says

In this world you will have trouble, but fear not! I have overcome the world!”

 

Please pray for this man in Colorado as he quietly stands up for Christ. Pray for the couple who brought the lawsuit to have their eyes opened to the truth. Pray for strength to stand up for Christ yourself as it is now becoming clear it’s only a matter of “when” and not “if” we are all called on to make a stand. And pray a prayer of thanksgiving that we can go through this time of persecution for Him. We join a great community of saints that have walked this way before.

Soli Deo Gloria!

Shay

 

 

 

 

 

Photo credit: Rosen Georgiev

Prayer Warrior

I urge you, first of all, to pray for all people. Ask God to help them; intercede on their behalf, and give thanks for them.

I Timothy 2:1

 

 

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In the space of three days I’ve received requests to pray for families grieving the loss of loved ones from cancer; a high school classmate who was involved in a nightmare car accident leaving her and her daughter and two nieces critically injured and taking the life of her mother and sister; another dear friend who’s son was in a car accident in another state and is badly injured; one of my voice students is suffering from a serious concussion following a fall. I’ve had texts requesting prayer for ill parents and spouses, marital problems, job stresses. I’ve opened my email to find prayer chain requests for a church that is struggling, friends with health issues, kid issues, people struggling to get clean from drug addiction, a young teen who seems bent on attempting suicide. At every turn there seems to be death and destruction and agony and defeat. I’m beginning to dread hearing the chirp of my text alert or the ding of my computer telling me I have mail.

My heart is broken. And I feel helpless and useless to give any aid. I can’t be with any of the ones requesting prayer and in some cases my being there would, at worst, only cause more stress or, at best, really wouldn’t help at all. So I pray.

I pray for hearts wounded by loss. I pray for doctors tasked to heal broken bodies. I pray for angels to appear in nurses scrubs to give comfort and encouragement. I pray for the protecting hand of God over family members traveling to be with the ill and wounded. I pray for His mercy and grace and peace in hearts and minds. I pray for miracles.

Praise God we are never all struggling at the same time. In His infinite wisdom, there are always those who are doing ok right now, not dealing with any mountains at the moment. We are rested and strong to intercede for those who are reeling and unsteady from the body blows of life. We stand in the gap by falling to our knees. It’s like the ancient soldier who picked up the battle flag which had fallen from the hands of a wounded comrade. That flag represented victory, it rallied all to fight on. So I pick up the flag. So I pray.

I pray and I send texts and emails to others to pray. I send encouragement, expecting no reply, just to say “We are here. On our knees. Rest. We’ve got this.”

And I will give thanks for the privilege to pray for friends and loved ones and strangers. I will give thanks for their existence. I will give thanks for those who will one day be praying for me when I cannot stand. That is what the body of Christ is really all about. Not our doctrines or our buildings or our worship styles. We exist to pray, to intercede, and to give thanks. That knowledge has come to me in overwhelming ways in the last three days. So I pray.

Soli Deo Gloria

Shay

 

The Battle to Tame the Tongue Part 2

.Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole body,sets the whole course of one’s life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell.

James 3:5-6

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I am a fire-starter. No, I’m not a pyromaniac or an arsonist in the worldly sense. I won’t show up at your house and flick my Bic. But I spent the greater part of my life starting fires with my tongue. Let me explain.

In my growing up, how one was perceived by the world-at-large was an all-important detail. I don’t know if it was because I grew up in a very small community where everyone knew everything about everyone and judging it and talking about it to others was a favorite sport. Forget baseball, GOSSIP was the national pastime in the rural county where I grew up. Anyway, I early on developed a need to be looked upon as superior in deed and character, to receive accolades for being “the good one”. If I could lower your opinion of another and show, by comparison, how I was better, my goal would be achieved. My stock went up, yours went down. I’m the good one.

This most often was directed at my younger sister. It started in our youth (and I mean I was probably 10 and she was 5!) and continued on until I was in my 30’s. The only person I really needed to acknowledge my goodness and recognize my superior merit as a human being was my mother and so I would say things about my sister to convey my deep concern that she wasn’t living up to expectations. If I did it correctly, it never came across as judgmental or troublemaking, but as an older sister grieved by the failure of a younger sibling doomed to mediocrity at best and utter failure as a member of the family at worst. My stock went up, hers went down. Fire started.

In my teens it became one of my favorite pastimes to bring stories of my classmates, churchmates, vague acquaintances, to the family bar of judgment. Their foibles were then held up to be measured by my apparent perfection in character and deportment. I would start the fire and then bask in the glow. I’m the good one, you’re the bad one.

As an adult I moved on to my sister-in-law. Same verse, same as the first except now I took my burning embers to my mother-in-law. I NEEDED to be the superior individual. Of course I always omitted my faults and failures. I was superior in one thing for sure, hiding anything unflattering about myself and I was truly gifted at self-promotion. I’m sad now to say it worked. Every time.

Then in my mid-30’s the Lord had had enough. He jerked me up by the tail (sorry, my southern is showing!) and began to make me get control of that tongue of mine. I began to feel truly convicted every time I wanted to start an emotional fire. I could feel the Holy Spirit say “Shh!” each time my mouth would open and my tongue would start to fall out and form the words. This small part of my anatomy had steered the ship for 30+ years and now God had put a curb-bit in my mouth. And it hurt! My flesh screamed. How was I going to feel good about myself if I wasn’t constantly showing you how good I was in comparison to other people? Sick, I know. I was sick, soul-sick. The enemy had done a fine job making me feel so inadequate, so overwhelmed by my shortcomings, that only by making you look like less could I feel like more.

So I repented and stopped fighting the bit. But that was not enough for the Lord. Then He required me to confess. Out loud. To the ones I’d hurt most by my fire-starting. Oh no, Lord! You can’t make me do this! I’ve repented. I’ve stopped starting the fires (mostly), I’m getting better every day! You CANNOT make me go and confess ’cause then they’ll know what and who I really am. They’ll know I’m not the good one. My cover will be totally blown. They’ll know! My stock will be in the toilet!! They will hate me forever!

How many of you know that you cannot argue with the Lord and win? He didn’t argue back, He simply quit talking to me. It was as if He was saying “I’ve told you what you must do. I’m done talking until you obey me.”

It took me a few weeks. I wrestled. I pleaded. My rotten flesh screamed at the injustice and the pain of this latest pruning. Then I picked up the phone.

I started with my sister. After a lifetime of a poor relationship, God had recently healed she and I and I had discovered a treasure of love and friendship in her. I was pretty certain that I was about the ruin it with what I was going to say. Of course God is good. She forgave me (I’m thinking now that she knew all along so my confession wasn’t news to her 🙂 ) and for a decade now she’s been my best friend.

Then I (gulp) confessed to my mother, the one I had always really needed to see me high and lifted up. God’s grace again covered me with her and I was forgiven and given a do-over. Pretty sure she wasn’t surprised either. Maybe I wasn’t as slick as I thought I was, you think?

My mother-in-law and sister-in-law took a little more time for me to address. Here were the relationships that truly could have disintegrated from the flames of my tongue. I wasn’t blood. I was a transplant into the family and a thorny one at that. I would have deserved to be cast out, branded and distrusted forever. I’m not sure how they worked through the pain they had every right to feel but they did. They also forgave me and we’ve moved on. I’m grateful.

I’m grateful for the humans in my life who shown more grace and mercy toward me than I showed to them, more love than I deserved. I’m grateful to a loving Father who refused to let me continue on being controlled by a wicked tongue and asked me for the hard things. I’m grateful for the reins and the curb-bit He applied though they caused blisters on my soul and many hours of exhausted fighting of myself.

The scripture in James goes on to say:

All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles and sea creatures are being tamed and have been tamed by mankind, but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.

 

I never could have, never would have tamed my own tongue. I had no reason to. Except that God knew that I could never live a victorious life, sharing living water with others when there was salt water pouring from my mouth.

Do you need to tame your tongue today? What could you gain from the effort? I promise you, even if you only gain peace, it is worth it to put out the fire in your mouth. Take it from someone who’s been there, done that.

Soli Deo Gloria

Shay

The Battle to Tame the Tongue

But no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be. Can both fresh water and salt water flow from the same spring? My brothers and sisters, can a fig tree bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Neither can a salt spring produce fresh water.

James 3:8-13

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I’m a bit of a useless knowledge junkie (just ask Mr. Incredible!). I gather it like a bird gathers bits of grass and fluff for its nest. I know things that cannot possibly be of any use to me or anyone around me unless we’re playing a game of Trivial Pursuit. I can’t remember my sister’s phone number but I can remember…well never mind; suffice it to say I remember a lot of stuff that others find useless.

So anyway, the other day I saw yet another list on Pintrest of little known facts about the human body and of course I took the time to stop and read the whole thing. One fact, in particular, caught my eye; Did you know that the tongue never sits comfortably in the mouth? Yeah, me neither. Didn’t know that but, then again, I sort of did. My tongue is so uncomfortable in my mouth it constantly falls out, bringing forth words with it that would have been better off still in my head!!

Oh, the tongue! God doesn’t make mistakes but it takes all my faith in Him not to question the inclusion of the tongue when He created man. Think how much trouble would have been avoided if only that small part of our body had been omitted, or, at least, had a kill switch connected to that part of our brain that says “No, no, no, DON’T. SAY. IT!”

In the last 10 years or so, with God’s help, I’ve done a lot of work on myself. I’ve worked around the mountains of selfishness, jealousy, envy, strife, bitterness, judgement. I’ve altered my internal dialogue about myself to better reflect what God says about me. I’ve grown better at showing mercy and grace to others. I’m learning to give and love sacrificially. But, Lord help me, that little bit of muscle and tissue inside my mouth WILL get away from me on a regular basis!

The Apostle Paul said in Romans 7:15

For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate.

I can walk around the house telling myself, out loud, to keep my trap shut. I can remind myself that nothing good is going to come from releasing the words inside my mouth. I KNOW the right thing to do and I KNOW that what I’m about it say is the wrong thing but it’s like that tongue has a mind of it’s own and it says to itself “Oh, what the heck. Let it fly!” and so it does, only to poop all over my day like a bird on laxatives.

I want to be one of those people for whom words are doled out only on an “as needed” basis. None wasted, none misused. Mr. Incredible is like that. My sister says of him, “He doesn’t waste his influence” which is so true! He doesn’t talk a lot but when he does, people listen! And he NEVER has to apologize for things he’s said to others. He NEVER breaks a confidence. The control he has over his tongue is amazing! I want to be like that!

Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them.

~ Ephesians 4:29

 

God’s word also says that, like the rudder of a great ship, though it is small it turns the whole ship, likewise the tongue can turn the man. Oh how true this is! My tongue can ruin my day or make my day. It can wound or it can heal. It can encourage or it can discourage. What a noble and worthy pursuit it is for us to learn to tame it and break it’s will.

Let’s take a few days and explore this unruly member of the body and what else God’s word has to say about it. What have you done to help tame your tongue?

Soli Deo Gloria

Shay