What’s in Your Heart? Our Speech Part 1

I mentioned on Facebook last week that over the past couple months, I have been considering the many scriptures that relate to our speech and our kindness to others…or lack thereof.  Respectfulness and kindness to others unfortunately seems to be a vanishing commodity these days…even among professing Christians…which is tragic.  We are supposed to be different.  Others are supposed to see…and hear the love of Christ in us.  If all we do at work, in our homes, in the checkout line, etc…is grumble and complain, and give everyone who irritates us a piece of our mind, quite honestly…we are sinning against God.  We are hindering, and not helping to spread the gospel.  If our speech did not matter so much, why then would God’s Word address this very issue in many more portions of scripture than I can even go into in a 2 part blog post?!

I will address our speech that is directed toward others next week in Part 2.  For now I want to focus on where this “wrong speech” comes from and what we can do about it.  It begins with our hearts…and minds.  Sometimes we may not even realize the things that we are harboring in our hearts that cause our attitudes and speech to be unrighteous and hurtful.  Also, we need to take a serious look at what we are filling our minds with.  If we have a steady diet of worldly things (music, movies, books and magazines, etc.), and none or practically none of God’s Word, praise music, and godly teaching, we are starving our spirits and will behave no differently than the world.  Hear me please!  I am not saying that we should never watch any TV or movies, or never listen to any music other than Christian music!  I am not saying we should never pick up a book or magazine other than Christian ones!  What I am saying is that if we are to live godly and set apart lives as we are called to live, we have to more seriously consider what God’s Word has to say about this subject.  Then we each consider and obey what He is directing each of us personally to do.

1 Peter 1:15-16 says: “But as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, because it is written, “Be holy, for I am holy.”  God does not leave us on our own here.  His Word truly speaks for itself.  We just need to read, study and obey it!  In Romans 12:2 we are told: “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.  Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – His good, pleasing and perfect will.”  Ephesians 4:23 also tells us to “be renewed in the spirit of your mind.”  God’s Word teaches us, convicts us, refreshes and renews us.

Proverbs 15:28a tells us: “The heart of the righteous studies (or ponders) how to answer…”.  Proverbs 16:23 says: “The heart of the wise teaches his mouth, and adds learning to his lips.”  In Matthew 12:34b where Jesus was speaking to the self-righteous Pharisees, He said: “…for the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.”  It is repeated in Luke 6:45.

Philippians 4:13 says: “Do all things without grumbling or disputing.”  Merriam Webster’s Dictionary defines grumbling as: “to complain quietly about something; to mutter in discontent.”  It also defines disputing as: “to engage in argument: debate: to argue irritably or with irritating persistence.”  Those are some issues of the heart.  We all get upset over things.  We all get frustrated.  But that is precisely when we need to turn to God in prayer, asking Him to “set a guard O’ Lord over my mouth; keep watch over the door of my lips.” Psalm 141:3.  We need to pray as in Psalm 139:23-24 (paraphrased), Search me O God, and know my heart. If there is any wickedness in me, cleanse me and lead me in Your way!

Galatians 5:25 tells us if we live in the Spirit, we are to walk in the Spirit.  What does it mean to “walk in the Spirit”?  It simply means to let Him direct us!  It means that everything we do or say should ultimately be pleasing to Him.  When our thinking shifts from only obeying God’s commands to avoid difficulty or punishment, to obeying because we don’t want to hurt the heart of God, we have taken a radically huge step in our relationship with the Living God!

Proverbs 4:23 says: “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.”  I will close with this statement from David Jeremiah: “Our lips are the barometer of the heart, and His praise should be continually in our mouths.  Today, try to restrain the complaining spirit; in everything give thanks.”

Oh friends, I hope I haven’t scared you away!  I have been speaking to myself as well!  As I have pondered over these and many other scriptures the past couple months, I have come under conviction myself.  My heart has also become heavy as I listen to so many of the conversations around me…and realizing how we must be hurting God’s heart…yet we aren’t even seeing it!  It starts with a change in our own hearts, by truly seeking God, and feeding our minds some good and godly things.

Please feel free to comment.  I don’t mind a little healthy discussion! 😉  Part 2, Lord willing next Wednesday!

Much Love,

Debbie

The Beautiful Dance

AnniversaryThe artistry of dance can tell a beautiful story.  I’m no expert and I’m only a dancer in my imagination.  So please don’t judge me, but despite the scantily clad dancers, I have watched every season of DWTS.  As I watch, I imagine myself light on my feet and breathlessly dancing the Quick Step.  I feel like a princess as I glide around the dance floor (in my imagination of course) dancing the Waltz.  I even bought an exercise DVD of Latin dances featuring some of the DWTS cast.  I thought; “This is going to be so fun!  Exercise and even learn to dance a little!”  Umm…not so much.  Let’s just say that I’m glad I was alone and the blinds were closed!  I’ll stick to dancing in my imagination, thank you very much.  However, I digress.

I think marriage is very much like a beautiful dance.  Sometimes we are in tight hold.  Other times we have to release our hold so that our spouse can pursue his own interests and God given passions.  At times we are joyously twirling around enjoying every moment.  Then there are times when we are quietly walking side by side as we deal with serious life issues…or we are simply content.  Sometimes we push each other away, but if we’ve learned to forgive and not blame, we will draw each other close again.  We may occasionally step on each other’s toes, but the more we practice and the more we diligently work at it, the easier it gets.  There’s less toe stepping and more being in step with each other.

Seagulls

We just celebrated 36 years of marriage on Valentines Day (Yes, at 18 years old I thought it was a perfect day so he’d never forget our anniversary!:).  I look back and think; “Wow. How we have learned to dance!”  We have had many highs and lows.  It has not always been easy.  Some said we’d never make it.  We almost didn’t, but that’s a story for another time.  It is definitely God’s grace that healed and held us together.  But we had to cooperate with Him.  Even when it looked like there was no hope, we still took our commitment seriously.  We weren’t quick to just throw it all away.  We tried.  We worked at it.  We learned give and take.  We learned how to lead and to follow.  We searched what God’s Word says about how a marriage is supposed to work, then we humbled ourselves before God…and each other.

These days it seems we sway back and forth in almost perfect rhythm.  We hold, release, we changeHeart shell effortlessly from the Quick Step to a leisurely stroll, to the perfect timing of the Waltz.  We rarely push each other away because we’ve learned how to forgive.  We’ve learned that mutual respect and happiness matters far more than who is right or wrong.  We finish each other’s sentences and anticipate one another’s next move.

I have learned so much from my husband.  Though it sounds cliché, he has made me a better person.  I know he’d say the same of me.  Along the way on this journey we have both learned that the other’s happiness and well being is so much more important than getting our own way.  We aren’t perfect by any means.  But when we put God first…above all else…and follow the principles He set forth in His Word, we no longer dance to the beat of our own drum…but God’s.  Despite all of our flaws, God will take two imperfect people and create a beautiful union.  A beautiful story.  A story unique to each of us.

Yes, we have learned the beautiful rhythm of the dance.  The dance that makes for a lasting marriage.

Love is patient

Love is kind

It does not envy

It does not boast

It is not proud

It is not rude

It is not self-seeking

It is not easily angered

It keeps no record of wrongs

Love does not delight in evil

But rejoices with the Truth

It always protects

Always trusts

Always hopes

Always perseveres

Love never fails.

1 Corinthians 13:4-8a

Love & Blessings,

Debbie

What Do You Do When Your Plans Aren’t Working

    I had just hung up the phone from talking with our realtor last Thursday morning.  We lost out on yet another house, and I couldn’t stop smiling!  Let me explain:

Nineteen months ago we sold our two story house.  We were excited to have a break from home ownership, and to rent for just a year while we searched for our “forever home” (here on earth anyway).  That was our plan.  In the meantime…we have looked at so many houses, online and in person, it’s enough to make your head spin.  We have prayed and contemplated moving out of the area.  We thought we wanted to move back to the country, then decided at this point in our lives we are better off staying in a neighborhood.  That way it’s more convenient to take our walks and to be close to everything.  We have come to the conclusion that unless God does something major (like He did when we knew we were supposed to move here from upstate NY!), this [area] is home.

Here’s the kicker: Over the past several months there have been five…count them…five houses that we have attempted to put an offer on.  In every single instance we have gotten word from our realtor that the house had already gone under contract…before he could even write the offer.  So back to last Thursday morning.  Actually it began Wednesday afternoon when our realtor called.  He informed me that house number four had just gone back on the market if we still wanted to make an offer.  I told him we’d discuss it and I would let him know what we wanted to do the next day (Thursday).

Thursday morning I was sitting at the table having coffee with God, like we do most mornings.  I was reading Psalm 119 starting at verse 105…and singing.  I simply can’t read that verse without singing it…at least in my head!  “Thy Word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.”  I started singing it as a prayer, and asking God to guide me to a scripture that would please, shine some light on this path of searching for a home to buy.  Before I had even begun to search for another scripture, I glanced at the clock and thought I’d better call the realtor before it got any later.  Now normally, that would be a big distraction during my quiet time, but here’s the conversation: Realtor:”Hey there. I’ve got something to tell you but you go first.”  Me: “Well, we wanted to take another look at the house and probably put an offer on it…but I’m guessing that’s not going to happen.”  Realtor: “It’s already under contract.”

Five houses, second time on the fourth one, gone before the ink could even touch the paper!  That my friend, is not a coincidence.  That is our loving Heavenly Father guiding us.  He knows how much we want our own home again.  He is also aware of how we want to follow His perfect will and plan for us.  I always joke that sometimes I need a neon sign.  Well I don’t think it could be much brighter than that, so that’s why I couldn’t stop smiling.  I felt His nearness and sensed His loving care in a very real and personal way that day.

Micah 7:7 says; “Therefore I will look to the LORD; I will wait for the God of my salvation: my God will hear me.”  And he will also provide what he knows we need.  When our plans don’t seem to be working out, we should always look to the Lord and wait for Him to guide, to light the way.  He usually has a better plan anyway.

Along this journey, God has been drastically changing our perspective and desires.  As a result, our priorities are changing.  A certain kind of house is no longer as important as it once was.  What is important is my husband, after working so hard for many years being able to (semi) retire in a few short years.  Something he cannot do if we have another huge mortgage hanging over our heads.  So we (honestly, mostly me), have had to adjust some of our dreams and expectations.  Along the way, as I let go of my own dreams or expectations, he is replacing them with new and better ones.  But though we keep looking, we are beginning to feel like home ownership may not be in our future again.  What if God says “no” to us owning our own home again?  Am I okay with that?  I’m trying to be.  The jury’s still out on that one…but I honestly will be okay, if that is what God has for us.

We all have dreams and expectations of what we picture our future to be like, and there is nothing wrong with that.  But what if…what if God in his Sovereignty and his perfect will allows circumstances, or whatever, to change our direction?  Are we willing to let go of our own dreams and expectations for His plans for us?  Whether it’s the kind of house we live in, how we expect our grown children to turn out, what kind of job or health we have…whatever it may be…are we willing to let go of our own, for His?

I don’t know if we are going to buy a house again or not.  But this I do know; when our earthly future seems uncertain, and circumstances make no sense, I will trust in the Lord with all my heart and not rely on my own understanding.  I will acknowledge Him in all my ways and He will direct my paths (Proverbs 3:5-6).

Do you have plans that aren’t turning out as you expected?  Is there something maybe God is nudging you to let go of?  Look to Him for direction.  He is faithful.  He will listen and answer you.

Please share how God has provided for you when things were uncertain.  It’s a way we can encourage each other!

 

Many Blessings,

Debbie