It’s Not About Me


Thank you Sharon Jaynes for today’s message….

Some of my Girlfriends in God are not going to like this devotion. I’m not even sure I do. But I’m going to put it out there anyhow. During the month of February, I write devotions on marriage. It is the month of love, and marriages certainly are in shambles all around the world. Each February, I am flooded with e-mails: some are appreciative for the reminders on how to love their husbands; some are filled with hurt because they are in their own struggling marriage, and some are broken-hearted because of shattered dreams. These women are so thankful for the balm of God’s truth in a very tender area of their lives.

But I also receive e-mails from women who are not married, who do not like the attention to marriage at all. They are flat out angry and frustrated because the devotions do not pertain to them. “Don’t you know that all of your readers are not married?”

“Oh honey child,” as my grandmother would say.

I’ve seen the same attitude in church. “I didn’t like that sermon.” “I didn’t like the singing today.” “I couldn’t relate to that teaching.” And on and on we go.

You know what I’ve discovered…it’s not about me. It is all about God. If the pastor is preaching on a topic that is not my struggle, I pray that God will open my eyes to new truths that I’ve never seen. If he is talking about losing a loved one, I pray for those who have lost a loved one recently…even though that might not be my struggle at that particular time. Is the teaching on raising young children? I have a grown son, so I pray for those who are raising the next generation.

One Sunday, I was singing in church. Barely singing, I might add. It was a dry old hymn and I just wasn’t into it. Then I looked at an older woman a few seats down and she had tears trickling down her wrinkled cheeks. She was moved to tears by that old hymn and was taken to the throne room of grace.

“Oh Father,” I prayed. “Please forgive me. This is not about me. It’s not about what I like or don’t like. It is all about You. Truth is truth. Worship is worship. Help my focus be on You and You alone. It’s not about me.

Here’s a truth I want you to underline, memorize and ponderize (I know that is not a real word, but it should be.) Say it out loud: As long as I think the world is all about me, the angrier and tired-er I will be. The more I realize it is all about God, the happier and freer I will be. (I know tireder is not a word either. I’m just feeling feisty today).

Listen to how David focused on God during worship:

So let’s commit to remember together…it’s not about me. It’s all about God.

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

To Speak or Not To Speak…that is the Question


Thank you Sharon Jaynes for today’s message:

When Steven was about seven-years-old, we went snow skiing. For hours I instructed him in how to stand up, ski down, and get up once he fell. Steven fell down, and fell down, and fell down. He was not getting the hang of it at all. What’s the problem, I wondered. Then I found out. It was me.

“Mom,” Steven cried, “If you just quit telling me what to do, I think I could get it.”

“Fine!” I said as I skied away in frustration. “Go ahead and do it your way!”

And you know what? He did. Thirty minutes later Steven was cruising down the slopes with ease. See I was the problem. My continual instruction was hindering Steven from working the maneuvers out on his own. The day started out being a skiing lesson for Steven, but ended up being a parenting lesson for me.

Sometimes the most powerful words are the ones we withhold. “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven…a time to be silent and a time to speak,” (Ecclesiastes 3:1,7). A wise woman learns the difference.

In the Bible, Esther is a wonderful example of a very wise woman who knew that timing was crucial. After much prayer, fasting and deliberation, she went before the King to make a petition for her people. It was an important request as the entire Hebrew nation was at stake. Rather than grovel at the King’s feet in dismay, she very calmly invited him to dinner. When the King attended the soirée the following evening, once again he invited Esther to make her request. Once again, she invited him to dinner the following evening.

At the second dinner party, the King offered yet a third opportunity for Esther to make her request. Finally, Esther revealed the evil Haman’s plot to annihilate the entire Hebrew nation, which included her life as well. It is an amazing story and I encourage you to read the book of Esther for yourself. But here’s a lesson among the drama. Esther had a very important request for the King. And yet, it was all about timing. Sure, she could have made the request the first time she approached the King and he extended the golden scepter in approval. Yes, she could have made her request at the first dinner party when he offered her anything she desired, “up to half his kingdom.” But there was something in Esther’s spirit that caused her to wait. The time wasn’t quite right.

Even though the Bible doesn’t tell us directly, I believe that Esther was listening to God. I believe the Holy Spirit was telling her to wait. Because she asked herself the question, to speak or not to speak, and then spoke when the time was right, the entire Hebrew nation was saved. That is the power of a woman’s words offered at the right time.

“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven…a time to be silent and a time to speak,” (Ecclesiastes 3:1,7).

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

 

Gossip is Deadly

Thank you Sharon Jaynes for today’s message….

A monster was sneaking into my yard in the dark of night and devouring my prize plants. I never saw his beady eyes or heard his pounding footsteps—just the aftermath of his destruction. He left a trail of slime as he moved from plant to plant, leaving large gaping holes in broadleaf Gerbera daisies, gnawing entire velvety trumpet-shaped blossoms on purple petunias and reducing bushy begonias to naked stalks.

I asked a neighbor about my flowerbed’s demise and she determined, “You’ve got slugs.”

Slugs!” I exclaimed. “The yard monster is a tiny little slug?”

“You can put out slug bait to catch them and see for yourself,” my confident neighbor continued.

I sprinkled slug bait all around the yard and then waited. The next morning I viewed the “monsters” remains. The beasts were about ¼ inch long—about the size of my little toe nail.

How could something so small cause so much damage in such a short amount of time? I mused. Then my mind thought of something else that is very small that can cause enormous damage in a short amount of time…gossip. King Solomon wrote, “The words of a gossip are like choice morsels; they go down to a man’s inmost parts.” Just as one tiny slug can destroy an entire flowerbed, so can one tiny morsel of gossip destroy a person’s reputation, mar one’s character, and devour a friendship.

In the South we have this knack for making gossips sound…almost nice. All you have to do is add “bless her heart” to the end of the sentence. It goes like this: “Susie gained fifty pounds with that last pregnancy, bless her heart.” “Marcy’s husband ran off with his secretary, bless her heart.” “I heard Clair yelling at the postman yesterday, bless her heart.” But all the “bless her hearts” don’t mask what it really is…gossip.

Solomon wrote, “Whoever repeats the matter separates close friends,” (Proverbs 17:9 NIV). Charles Allen, the author of God’ Psychiatry observed: “Those of great minds discuss ideas, people of mediocre minds discuss events, and those of small minds discuss other people.” Maybe if we are spending our time talking about people, we need to fill our minds with better material such as good books and other reading material (and I don’t mean People Magazine or the National Enquirer).

What exactly is gossip? Webster defines gossip as ”easy, fluent, trivial talk, talk about people behind their backs.” It is repeating information about another person’s private affairs. If you have to look around to make sure that no one can hear what you are saying, you are probably gossiping. If you would not say something in front of the person you are talking about, then you’re probably gossiping.

We have often heard the phrase, “knowledge is power.” Perhaps that is why gossip is so appealing. It suggests a certain amount of power because, “I have the inside scoop.” But gossip is not power. On the contrary it shows a lack of power…lack of self-control.

Today, let’s make our lives a NO GOSSIP ZONE.

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

 

When You Don’t Like the Story God is Writing

Thank you Sharon Jaynes for today’s message…

If it were up to me, I would have written some stories differently. My second child would not have died, and I would have a little girl who would be 21 years old this year. Carol’s son would not be in prison. Linda’s 20-year-old daughter would not be a quadriplegic. Barbara’s daughter would not be bipolar. Patty’s 21-year-old daughter would not have died in a car accident. Jennifer’s husband would not have died of a brain tumor. If I had been writing the story.

But I’m so glad I’m not the author of those stories. Each and every one of these friends has ministries that impact thousands upon thousands of women all over the world. God has turned their pain into purpose, the misery into ministry, and their devastation into anointed messages of hope and restoration. Sudden glories fill and spill from each of these women’s lives. Their love journeys of living and moving and having their being in Christ have led them through dark valleys and back out into the light on the other side. They practically glow with radiant wonder.

Difficult times are pregnant with glory moments just waiting to be birthed in the lives of those willing to labor through the pain. The key is to not allow bitterness and anger to make our hearts infertile to God’s gifts. One way to avoid the darkening of the soul is by constant communication seasoned with thanksgiving—a continual acknowledgement of His presence.

Glory moments in difficult times are not dependent on our circumstances, but on our focus. Focus on the difficulty and God is difficult to see. Focus on God and glory seeps through the broken places. Difficulties become the bass notes of our life’s song, adding a depth and beauty not found in a life that hovers around middle C.

After my husband and I got out of college, we moved to Charlotte so that my husband could go into practice with another doctor. But after we moved here, the doctor changed his mind.

“Sorry, Steve. Good luck,” the doctor said.

I was so upset. OK, I was angry. Flat out angry. Angry with the doctor and angry with God. We had no money. No job. And school debt.

Three months later a situation opened up that was far better than our original plan. It was Ephesians 3:20 in lab-coat white: “Now to him who is able to do immeasurable more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us…”

Well, why didn’t God do that in the first place? Why didn’t He lead us to that second opportunity when we did all that praying and seeking? He could have. But He is far more interested in developing our character than doling out a life of comfort and ease. C.S. Lewis notes: “If you think of this world as a place intended simply for our happiness, you find it quite intolerable. Think of it as a place of training and correction and it’s not so bad.”

We are ever the students. He is the teacher still. Trials rip away the flimsy fabric of self-sufficiency and become the raw material for God’s miracles in our lives. And those miracles are a sudden glory.

Someone once said, “Faith means believing in advance what will only make sense in reverse.” Oh that we would trust Him even if the twists and turns never make sense this side of heaven. That’s what trusting God is all about. As we live and move and have our being in Him, the dark places are simply opportunities to trust that He knows the way—and the perfect time to hold on tight.

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

When Worry Weakens Your Soul 

Thank you Sharon Jaynes for today’s message focused on one of my favorite passages in the Bible…

My husband, Steve, and I sat anxiously in our seats. I wondered if I was going to be able to endure the ride, especially knowing my propensity for motion sickness. But we began nonetheless.

The guide strapped all passengers into the tiny boats and gave last minute instructions. Of course there were life preservers, but what good would they do in the fierce rapids that threatened to suck its prey below the surface?

The crew boarded and began the journey down the mysterious Amazon. The calm meandering waters quickly gave way to fierce torrents, rushing rapids, and rocky crags protruding from the foaming waters. Alternating between plunging into the water and flying into the air, the boat made its way through the first set of rapids. My body relaxed, thankful that was over. Several times along the journey calm gave way to chaos as passengers maneuvered to keep the boats afloat. Often, I closed my eyes and waited for the turbulence to pass.

When we finally reached the end of our journey, I picked up my popcorn and walked out of the theater.

No, I wasn’t really on the Amazon River strapped in a tiny boat. I was comfortably sitting in a cushioned chair in the IMAX Theater watching a documentary about the Amazon River. In the five-story domed screen covering 6532 square feet of projection surface, large images put you in the center of the action, and the surround sound gave the illusion that you were indeed wherever the screen took you. It wasn’t real.

Yes, I did get a bit queasy from the larger-than-life movement down the river, but I was never in real danger. Even though the producers and engineer tried their best to create a realistic experience, I knew it wasn’t true. It was a movie. I would walk out unscathed.

That is the peace of walking, or in this case sitting, in the truth. Every day the enemy seeks to trip us up by stirring up worry about the future. It’s not real. It’s imaginings. Something that most likely will never happen.

Worrying is like sitting in the IMAX Theater watching a documentary about the Amazon River, but thinking you’re really in the boat. You’re not. It is your imagination running wild.

So what do you do?

Stop looking at the screen…the imaginings in your mind.

Leave the theater…the cinema where the worriers in you heart loop round and round.

Trust in God…the only One who knows what the future holds. He’s got this.

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!