The Day I Realized My Words Were Poison

To say I didn’t know it was coming would be a full-on lie. I did. The Holy Spirit had been at work for a while gently convicting me over my less-than loving use of my words to eviscerate another person. But I, like King David, thought I could just push it back and not deal with it. Lo, what is that I hear? God’s tsk-tsk from heaven at my stubbornness and flat-out disobedience.       I sat at lunch chatting with two ladies from my Tuesday morning Bible study. One of them asked about some changes that had taken place in an organization to which I had belonged for several years. I had been in the organization long enough, and had been close enough to the person in charge to know the cause for the changes. I was also very close to several people who had been hurt by the situation. My heart had been one of those that had been hurt. As I answered my friend’s question, I laid the blame squarely on one particular person. I told my friends some of the things this person had done, and how so many people had been hurt and left the organization. While I did not realize until later how deeply hurt and angry I was over the whole mess, my friends told me later that they recognized it immediately. We finished lunch and I got in my car to go home. Y’all I felt like a Mack Truck of conviction from the Holy Spirit had hit me head-on. The realization that I had sinned horribly by allowing my...

When Humor Is Not Funny

Recently, I attended a local community event and overheard a conversation that disturbed me greatly. A couple sitting near me were making fun of an obese gentleman who was part of the event, but was not close enough to hear their conversation. After a few moments, their conversation turned to a different topic, but I was left pondering what I had heard. Allow me to offer a disclaimer of which I am not proud: ten years ago I probably would have joined in the discussion and laughed right along with the couple. I can still remember my mother telling me, “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.” Unfortunately, I did not learn that lesson very well. For many, many years, I used my tongue to make fun of others and talk about them behind their backs for a host of reasons. Unconsciously, I suppose I reasoned that as long as the person did not actually hear me doing it, I was safe. In truth, it never occurred to me that my actions were displeasing to God and a sad statement about my relationship with Jesus. My actions spoke like a megaphone to the world about the state of my character. I called myself a Christian, but I was a hypocrite. I looked nothing like Jesus when I made fun of others and talked about them behind their backs. My words were neither encouraging or helpful to anyone. In 2008 I was confronted with a quote from a flip calendar I received when I attended one of the awesome CLASS speaker training events. The quote, by Patsy...

Authentic Christianity: Stop the Fighting, Body of Christ!

DISCLAIMER: Electronic media makes it difficult to convey emotion. Please, please know that there is not one smidgen of anger contained in this post. As you read it, I hope you will hear my heart of love for the body of Christ. I believe this is an important conversation to have, and I invite you to enter in.   Would you pardon me while I climb atop my soapbox for a moment? Stop it with all the denominational fighting! Just stop!     I grew up in the Southern Baptist denomination, and I am grateful for (most of) that upbringing. I learned about missions and Jesus and amazing old hymns and the beauty of an organ and piano and the order of service and the Doxology and Girls in Action and Acteens and Summer Vacation Bible School and ‘raise your hand if you read your Sunday School lesson this week’. I also learned that women are not to be pastors and speaking in tongues is not actually an accepted thing and, dear Gussie, exclusivity. I think my Grandma might have had to be revived with St. Peter’s smelling salts when she stepped through the gates of heaven and discovered that there were Methodists, Church of God, Presbyterians, Lutherans, and many other people who affiliated with non-Southern Baptist denominations, or no denomination at all, right there in heaven. I am not here to bash the Southern Baptist denomination. I really am not. My ‘letter’ is housed at the Southern Baptist church where I grew up, and I love that church and pray for it. Southern Baptist just happens to be...

When Your Heart Has No Peace and Eggs Are Everywhere

Our Thanksgiving family vacation was over. Greg and I, along with his parents, were nearing the end of our 8-hour road trip back home to the North Georgia mountains. We had spent the week in Orange Beach, Alabama with Greg’s entire family. As we sped along the interstate about an hour and a half from home, I saw tail lights of cars up ahead. Traffic began to slow and whatever had happened was clogging up the interstate around a sharp curve in the road. Traffic moved at a snail’s pace, but move it did, which is a reason for praise in the mess that is Atlanta traffic. Thankfully, it was Saturday and not Friday, which meant a much lighter traffic volume on the highway. Greg’s Mom and I mused about what might have happened as we inched forward. We could see several police vehicles stopped in the left lanes, and policemen were directing traffic into a single right-hand lane. Three fast moving lanes of traffic, plus a lane that merged from a perpendicular road, suddenly bottle-necked into one lane that moved about as fast as a herd of turtles. Within a few minutes we approached the disaster that caused the traffic angst. A large truck loaded with eggs had gone into the sharp curve at a high rate of speed and, oops, did not emerge from the curve upright. A clean-up crew with a front-end loader was dumping the remains of hundreds, perhaps thousands, of eggs into a dumpster that sat on the side of the interstate. Scrambled eggs poured out of every crevice of the dumpster and ran...

What Will Your Tombstone Say?

One can find all kinds of epitaphs on the internet: some funny, some sad, some that definitely cannot be repeated. Have you ever considered what you might want engraved on your tombstone? It really is something to consider. I think there are probably some things that you do not want on your tombstone. Consider these actual tombstone engravings: “I told you I was sick.” “Here lies an atheist. All dressed up and no place to go.” “She died from a broken heart.” In a single day, I heard two separate preachers mention a man named Demas, a contemporary of the apostle Paul. When God repeats things to me, I try to pay attention because I assume He is trying to get my attention. So, I decided to check out Demas and see what he had to teach me. Turns out, it was something related to tombstone engravings. Our boy Demas is mentioned in Scripture three times, each time by Paul. The first two appearances of Demas are in Colossians and Philemon, both written around AD 62. In Colossians, Paul simply mentions Demas, along with Luke, as someone who greets the church at Colossae, while in Philemon, Demas is referred to as Paul’s fellow worker. At this point, it appears that Paul and Demas were buds. Then, two to three years later, around AD 65 when Paul wrote 2 Timothy, there had been a seismic shift in the relationship between these two men. We are not given specifics, but Paul’s words in 2 Timothy 4:10 speak with a large megaphone.   For Demas, in love with this present world, has...

Lessons From An InnKeeper

Mary, Joseph, and Jesus are the primary characters in the grand story of Christmas. Without them, there would be no Christmas story. In a movie, play, or television series, there are the main actors and the supporting cast. Those who play supporting roles are not as widely recognized, but often are crucial to the story as a whole. As I talked to the Lord about what I should offer for the month of December, the Holy Spirit reminded me that He used many people to bring the story of Christmas to life. When I went to Luke chapter 2, I discovered that, indeed, there are 4 people or groups of people without whom the Christmas story might not have happened. Today, we turn our gaze to Luke 2:6 – 7 (NIV). Although an innkeeper is not mentioned specifically in this verse, the concept of an inn necessitates an innkeeper, so let’s see what we can discover about this supporting cast member in the Christmas story.   While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.   As I researched the inns of Jesus’ day, I discovered that often they were not exactly what we might think. The inns of that day could have consisted of a structure with rooms where travelers lodged for the night. However, it was just as likely that it was nothing more than an open, level field near a water source where...

Someone Needs You to Be Their People

Once upon a time, Greg and I had five animals…..two hunting dogs and three cats. Over time, all five of them died from an assortment of maladies. With each passing, our hearts were broken in pieces. When Greg’s last dog passed, he said, “No more animals. It is too hard to lose them.” That was in 2010. Fast forward to 2016. Our neighbors have 8 dogs. Yes, I said EIGHT. They are an adorable assortment of beagles and hounds. When we exercise, it is not unusual for a string of them to follow us home. After a few minutes at our house, they all head back to the neighbor’s place. About two months ago, all that changed. I walked home after exercising and several of them followed me. I came into the house and went about my morning. An hour or so later I look out the French doors onto our deck and see a face. A doggie face and a doggie body lounging in the sun on our deck. I thought to myself, “well, it will go home after a bit.” NOPE! A couple of days later I walk back to the neighbor’s house, which is a half mile away and Puppy walks with me. Greg came and picked me up so Puppy would not follow me back. Success! Got that taken care of!! I decided not to walk back toward my neighbor’s house again so the dogs would not follow me home. I did not want the neighbors to think we were stealing their dogs, for heaven’s sake. A week or two later I look out on the deck and...

Stinkin’ Thinkin’

Today I want to share a bit of what God is doing in my own heart in hopes that it will resonate in your heart. I am only sharing ‘a bit’ because I’m pretty sure that God is nowhere near finished with this particular work. If you have walked with Jesus more than a pair of days, you might just have experienced something similar. I feel like periodically God does an assessment of my heart, very much like a homeowner looks at their home. He opens doors and cabinets. He pushes back stuff and junk. He swings doors back and forth to see if they squeak. He wipes away the cobwebs so He can get a clear view of the rafters. Once He has assessed the situation, He begins moving in the demolition equipment. Suddenly, a renovation of the entire east wing of my heart is underway, and it feels like the jackhammers and crowbars are going full speed. Just as with a home renovation, there is dust and shaking and pulling down. Things need to be in order for light and truth to take up residence. AND IT IS PAINFUL! THAT is where I find myself currently.       There are two tools that God is using in my heart reno. Two verses of Scripture. Let me share them with you. Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O LORD, my rock and my redeemer. Psalm 19:14 (ESV) And the second one: We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we...

Are You Serious About Prayer?

Does God ever ‘pester’ you? He does me, although I suppose it’s not fair to call it ‘pestering.’ Perhaps I should say He nags me. Hmmm, no, that does not sound quite right either. Ah, I know. He is insistent. That’s it. Insistent that I pay attention to something important. That’s what has been going on in my heart recently. God has been all up in my business about PRAYER.       Now, let me start off by saying that I pray…every day. The fact of a prayer life is not what He has been speaking to me about. Instead, He has been reminding me of the POWER of prayer. It all began a few months ago, when a friend told me he was going to do something that he and I both knew was outside of God’s will. Yet, he was bound and determined to do it. My heart was broken over it. Broken so much that I wept on the spot when he told me about his plans. Being the controller that I am, over the next few days I tried to figure out a way I could change his mind. There was not a way. As I agonized over the situation (and that is what I did because I knew my friend’s decision would bring grave and painful consequences), the Holy Spirit reminded me that there was something I could do to change the situation. I could pray. In fact, when my friend told me about his intentions, I rather boldly, but in love, told him two things: first, God cannot bless what you are...

Discerning Right from Almost Right

If you were to come visit me at my home, I would send you directions. I’m a pretty darned good direction giver. I would give you a starting location and tell you about landmarks along the way. I would give you the street name and number for my home. I would even tell you which fork in my driveway to take to get you to my front door. So, let’s assume I gave you those directions to my home, but I made one teeny, tiny error. I left one number out of my street address. Oh, not on purpose, but let’s blame it on auto-correct!! Danged auto-correct!!! Suppose my street number is 7639, but I give you 639. Every other word of the directions is correct, except the street number. How difficult will it be for you to find me? Probably pretty hard. But, but, I was almost right. What’s a little number between friends? Well, friend, you just found out that there is a big difference between being right and almost right. Theologian Charles Spurgeon said, “Discernment is not simply a matter of telling the difference between what is right and wrong; rather it is the difference between right and almost right.” We live in a culture that has blurred the line between right and almost right so much that the two are nearly indistinguishable. It would be wise for us to step back a few paces and ask this question: “How do we discern between right and almost right?” I believe there are three things we need to understand to do this. God’s Word is Right and...