"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 3:9-12)
There is that old saying, "Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me." Nothing can be further from the truth. All of us have had things said to us that not only hurt, but has possibly greatly influenced the direction of our lives. It's amazing to think that words carry such power, that just a few syllables can completely crush you or on the other end, can completly change your life for the better. If our words have this much power to harm, how much more so can it be used for good? Chapter 3 of the book of James is discussing the importance of taming the tongue, that if we can get a hold of it there can be so much more peace and joy in our life.
It's wild how easy it is to justify our backbiting and negative talk. No matter the issue, without barely even trying, we as people ( Christians too...there, I said it) find the cause or reason to allow toxic waste to flow from our mouths. Of course, we would never describe it like that, but really isnt that what it is? James is saying how in the world can salt flow from fresh water? How can toxic talk come out of a life that has been transformed by the living God? Can the Holy Spirit really live in a heart like that? Here is our point, the words that come from our mouth is a barometer of what is really going on in our hearts. Our hearts are always on display, by what is flowing from our lips. Think about that next time we become offended by someone. When someone is speaking out against you and you feel like you're being attached, pause and ponder before you let lose. The next time something breaks down in your house, ponder how you plan to vent your disappointment. Your words can make all of the difference.
Your words will either bring life or they will bring death. (Prov. 18:21)
1. Recall a time when you've hurt someone with your words. What was motivating you?
2. What are 2 or 3 practical ways you can be more careful with your words?
3. What can you say today that can encourage and give life?
Therefore be patient, brethren, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, waiting patiently for it until it receives the early and latter rain. You also be patient. Establish you hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand...My brethren, take the prophets, who spoke in the name of the Lord, as an example of suffering and patience. Indeed we count them blessed who endure. You have heard of the perseverance of Job and seen the end intended by the Lord--that the Lord is very compassionate and merciful. (James5:7-11 NKJV)
It has been said that character develops daily, not in a day. If you continue to do the heart work, which is typically hard work, daily victories compound and the inevitable result is growth over time. How are you handling those daily tests? The tests can appear small, insignificant even or they can also be those moments that can effect every area of your life.
Do you have what it takes to pass the test?
I've always admired Josheph's up and down story and the process it took for him to become the man God created him to be. Before Joseph could ever manage all of the power given to him in Egypt, he first needed to spend some time in God's "slow cooker" seasoning as a slave and prisoner. John C. Maxwell says, "Only in testing do people discover the nature and depth of their character. People can say anything they want about their values, but when the pressure is on, they discover what their values really are."
The pressure was certainly on for Joseph during his early years, but there could have been no other way for growth to take place. Gold is purified only after it passes repeatedly through the fire. Diamonds are created only under extreme pressure. And your character is strengthened only through trials.
When people react positively to trials, many remarkable things can happen. Allow your heart to be developed daily.
I came across this article (click) about leadership and have enjoyed going through the tips listed. The writer starts by asking this question, "What do great leaders do that other leaders (average and, well, poor) don't? The writer points out 21 different priniciples/disciplines that will strengthen your influence, I encourage you to check it out. For this post we're going to take a different spin on a few of these principles and reask the question to focus on our personal and home lifes. It's so easy to get caught up in the grind of just doing life, bouncing from one "important" thing to another. The pressure to succeed in work and life seems relentless and before you know it the things we claim that we value are often the first to be neglected. By being an average (fill in the blank), can we really expect to leave a legacy worth following?
Here is our new question, "What do great fathers (mothers, husbands, wives, adults, teens, etc.) do that others don't?
1. Work on your character
Be a better person in private than you are in public. Your public "face" will eventually wear off and reveal what's really going on. No matter how polished you think you are, character flaws will always sink the ship. You want to win your spouse's and children's heart? Be your best where it matters (home) the most.
2. Refuse to make excuses
You can make excuses, or you can make progress, but you can't make both. If something is off in your life, address the issue and start moving forward again. Don't point your finger, unless you're in front of a mirror.
3. See the opportunity, not the obstacle
Some people only see the negative and obstacles, this is evident on how we handle our stress and "cows" (crisis of the week). Great (fill in the blank) won't allow their circumstances to control their behaviors. While others give up, those who are trying to be great will work through the problem until they find the opportunity.
4. Schedule their priorities
What on your calendar is receiving your best energy? Before we begin rationalizing our crazy schedules, we also need to realize that everything else is receiving your "leftovers". What is it that you really value? Does your priorities filter through these values? If they're not, then you may be starving the very thing you need the most.
5. Leave people better than you found them
Everyone leaves a wake. The choices were making, the things we say, even our body language is leaving an impression on others. Poor (fill in the blank) will sometimes leave a trail of disappointment and pain. But those that are striving to be great leave a legacy, because they leave people better than they were when they found them. When was the last time you were concerned with making someone else's world better? Even the smallest pebble leaves a wake, so does our smallest encounters with others.
Your character is always on display. Character is one of the most important things that you have. How are you investing in yours? What else would you add to this list?
1 Timothy 4:12
This one little verse has me thinking alot lately: "When your words came, I ate them; they were my joy and my heart's delight, for I bear your name, LORD God Almighty." (Jer. 15:16)
This is quite the statement to make. The prophet Jeremiah was so ready to hear from God, that when he received His Words, he took it like a hungry man would take his dinner! He cheerfully received them, treasured them up in his memory, digested them in his mind, and carefully retained them. Let's not forget too, things were not always easy for Jeremiah, he is often referred to as the "Weeping Prohpet". To say he was pursecuted would be an understatement! Here is the point, if anyone had reason to lose heart and joy it would be Jeremiah. The circumstances seemed to never be in his favor...yet, when it came to hearing from the Lord, there was no circumstance or crisis that would keep him from being nourished.
When was the last time you can honestly say you were hungry to hear from the Lord? When was the last time that just being with Jesus was the highlight of your day, the goal of your day? When is the last time you were nourished by His Word? Jesus declared, "I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty." (John 6:35) Lose your joy? What's your heart finding it's "delight" in lately? Take Jesus at His word. Be all about Him, let Him nourish that place in you that aches, and watch what He does in your life.
Lord, put a fire back in our bones for more of You!
During the past few months, the leadership team at Peoples Church has been reading through Revision by Dr. John Bowling. It's a good read about renewing your passion and commitment in your work, ministry, and life. Plenty of takeaways to catalyze change and/or renewed energy in anything that you do! Here is a small excerpt from the chapter titled "ReFRESH":
"Leaders are men and women of the horizon--looking out there into the future, standing on tiptoes, leaning forward, faces pressed toward the glass to catch a glimpse beyond the now. The task of helping refresh one's work and life is embedded in the ability to see something new. Once they see the future, others begin to see it as well. Vision carries with it a magnetic power..."
It's so easy to get distracted by what we will call Cows (crisis of the week). These are issues that happen in our work and our home life that keep us running at an absurd speed, constantly putting out fires, and feeling like nothing is being changed or produced through our efforts. When chasing Cows for a long period of time, passion will diminish and all you will have left is apathy. The enemy of enthusiam and the ability to see something new is always apathy.
Let's bring this to a personal level. What's your "next" in your life? Not what your next home will be or vacation you are saving for. Where in your life is their fresh vision, magnetic power? Have you been distracted by the Cows for so long that all you have left to give your spouse and children is indifference? Of course we would never intend for this to happen...but it can and does happen. We know this. We've lived it. If you find yourself running on empty, I want to leave you with some encouragement and direction. The best place to start is by praying a simple, yet life altering prayer, "Lord, stir in me a holy passion!" Simple and to the point, yet once prayed prepare for the Lord to begin the work only He can do. You will find that He does not demand for you to merely do more or try harder, but it is an invitation to His rest. When in His rest, you will find that your heart can finally be refreshed!
Psalm 23:1-3 "The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he refreshes my soul..."
"God can't stand deceivers, but oh how He relishes integrity." (Prov. 11:20 MSG)
If honesty means "telling the truth", integrity would mean to truly live out this "truth". You can be honest and not have much integrity, but it's very difficult to be a person of integrity and not be honest. Integrity is defined by Merriam-Webster as a "firm adherence to a code of especially moral or artistic values." Being a person of integrity is to make daily choices to live out what you believe. There is a good case that without integrity, our foundation of who we are, our core, will certainly begin to disintegrate.
So, of course we want to be people of integrity and we want our children to understand the importance of having this value as well. How do we instill this in our children and teens, particularly since examples of integrity seem to be fewer and father between?
First, let's take a look at some of the obstacles to integrity:
Tips to instill integrity in children and teens:
1. Ps. 41:12
2. Prov. 10:9
2. Pick up the book Modern Parents, Vintage Values
"If we claim that we're free of sin, we're only fooling ourselves. A claim like that is errant nonsense. On the other hand, if we admit our sins--make a clean breast of them--he won't let us down; he'll be true to himself. He'll forgive our sins and purge us of all wrongdoing." 1 John 1:8-9 (MSG)
For the next few weeks, we will spend some time highlighting important values that when understood and practiced can make a positive impact for you and your family! As the title of this post states, the first value will look at is forgiveness. Forgiveness is always easy to receive, but much more difficult to extend. Extending forgiveness involves humility and courage. By extending forgiveness, we are making a statement that we are letting go of the anger and offenses and no longer "hitting back". Extending forgiveness is such an important topic to discuss and can also affect our children in many ways.
Here are some quick findings from the Mayo Clinic regarding the importance of forgiveness.
Forgiveness is healthy. Forgiveness is crucial to understanding God. If we dont understand this core characteristic of God, then it will be difficult for you to see yourself as He sees you (i.e. children, apple of His eye, masterpeice, royalty) and even more difficult to extend the gift of forgiveness to others.
What are your obstacles to forgiveness? Are their old wounds from your past still bleeding out? Have we made room in our hearts for bitterness, anger, and offense towards others, even our family? Here is the point: we can also become an obstacle for our children in extending forgiveness. You can't really force or bribe someone to forgive. The best way to live out a value is to first see it modeled...by you!
Few tips to instill forgiveness in your children:
One of the ways God shows His grace is by using His power and presence to build character into our lives. Character is the mettle and grit that empowers kids to face life's challenges with confidence. Character is like the studs, joists, beams, and tie downs in houses that give it strength to take on all of the harsh elements that work it over year after year. Character is best transferred to a young person's life by the example of someone with whom he or she has a heart connection with. So when a young person sees their parents, uncle, leader, etc. apply character in their life--especially during the "harsh elements"--the easier it is for the young person to develop these traits in their own life.
Here are six necessary character traits to instill in our children:
1. Faith--Becomes a character trait when what we believe starts making moral choices for us.
2. Integrity--is the moral clarity we depend on to do the right thing even when no one is looking.
3. Poise--God's presence in a person's life helps him or her remain focused, thinking clearly, and persevering through the ups and downs of life.
4. Disciplines--Train tracks confine a train, but in so doing, empower it to do an enormous amount of good for people and the marketplace. A train that leaves it's rails is called a "train wreck". Train wrecks are a mess and so are the lives of people who dont have disciplines built into the core of their character.
5. Endurance--The world is full of quitters. Young people need to learn to keep going when everyone else would have long given up. (1 Cor. 9:24-27)
6. Courage--Fear and worry snuff out faith! Much of our efforts in keeping our kids safe or attempting to reduce risk has reinforced the idea that fear and constant worry is normal for Christian. We must help our kids move beyond their weaknesses and fears to become everything God has called them to be!
"Grace assumes that children will struggle with wrong behavior, but doesnt overreact to it. It corrects it as it goes along, but it's true focus is on building character into the child's heart--deliberately and patiently..." -Dr. Tim Kimmel
Deuteronomy 6:4-9 (NIV)
Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.[a] 5 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. 6 These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. 7 Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. 8 Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. 9 Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.
The passage shares God’s command, not suggestion. God intended it to describe an educational process for families to disciple each generation. These few verses shaped the lineage of Israel, significantly impacting each generation. For them, every generation plays a role and is just as significant. Putting it simply, God has a plan for each generation to know and love Him. The key piece to this plan is through the family!
When it comes to raising your children, are you “skipping stones” or launching “battleships”? No matter how hard you throw a stone and no matter how many “skips” you get, that stone is always going to sink. Many young people today will identify with the “skipping stones”. Sure, they start off great, moving with a lot of speed, but they eventually lose power and sink right to the bottom, never to emerge again.
When following the commands of Deut. 6 we are not preparing our kids like skipping stones, we are slowly but surely building up battleships. Though battleships take time to build and are obviously much heavier than rocks, they will not easily sink! Battleships cruise through the water and waves with ease and are not afraid to take on what is ahead of them. They are built to last and move in power. Generational discipleship is not dumping sermon after sermon on your kids, it’s intentionally investing in them in everyday scenarios. It’s living genuine and passionate lifes for Jesus Christ every day! When you’re at home, it’s about Jesus. When you’re at the store, it’s about Jesus. When you’re on vacation, it’s still about Jesus. Our kids are learning how to live for Jesus by watching you. Don’t spend too much time lamenting over mistakes, let’s correct what needs to be corrected and begin living the D6 (Deuteronomy 6) lifestyle!
"Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus..." Romans 8:1
As a follower of Jesus Christ, shame and condemnation is no longer apart of your wardrobe! With Jesus, it's new identity and destiny!
Check out this artice here by Doug Fields. Be encouraged! There is nothing you have done in your past that God can’t redeem! Remind yourself of this everyday, never allow this truth to lose it's significance. Your past is dealt with. It's done. Now starting embracing the reality of what it means to live for Jesus!
"So likewise, whoever of you does not forsake all that he has cannot be My disciple." Luke 14:33
We have wrapped up our February series "Aligning Our Hearts with Christ's Passion" with a powerful service about "Radical Commitment". Pastor Greg has challenged us to remember those "first love" moments we had with Jesus and to really evaluate if we still have the "practice" of love and not just the "pledge". The pledge and the practice behind love is necessary in our marriages and just as significant in our relationship with Jesus. Without the practice, first love destroyers can quickly find a home in our hearts. First love destroyers focus on giving the devil a foothold in your life to destroy any passion you have for Jesus.
The energy to your Christian walk has everything to do with Jesus Christ and your passion for Him! To get your first love and radical commitment back, start up that "first love talk" you used to have with Jesus! Remember how you used to talk when you first fell in love with Jesus? Remember how you used to pray? How you used to serve? How being with Jesus was the only thing you actually wanted to do? Get that back! What ever the cost, He is worth it! Lift the spiritual bar again and go all in!
"Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us..." Heb. 12:1
There is nothing more rewarding, exciting, and fun (nerve-racking too!) then being a parent! There are many blessings that come with being a parent, but great responsibility too! Parents are the #1 influencer in a child's life and as you already know they're always watching and repeating what they see and hear. The old saying "do as I say not as I do" is a foreign language to kids...the "bar" you set is what they will usually aim for. That can be great news in alot of situations, not so much in others!
So when it comes to matters of faith, make sure you are setting the bar high! Mom, dad, grandpa, grandma, uncle, (whatever relationship you have to a child) make sure you set the pace spiriually! Don't walk or jog...let your children see you run after God with passion and perseverance! Then watch how contagious this faith becomes for your kids!
Here are a couple of ways you can "set the pace" in your home:
-Believe God for to much, rather then to little.
-Be a better person in private, then you are in public.
-Pray. Simple, but absolutely powerful!
-Be faithful in the little things
-Prioritize the things of God first, in all things.
-Teach your kids how to serve, by actually serving.
More tips here
Dont allow discouragement to keep you from "setting the pace". God will equip you with everything you need to lead and be an example for your family!
"God has a university. It's a small school. Few enroll; even fewer graduate. Very, very few indeed. God has this school because he does not have broken men and women. Instead, he has several other types of people. He has people who claim to have God's authority...and dont--people who claim to be broken...and aren't. And people who do have God's authority, but who are mad and unbroken. And has, regretfully, a great mixture of everything in between. All of these he has in abundance, but broken men and women, hardly at all. In God's sacred school of submission and brokeness, why are there so few students?"
-Gene Edwards (A Tale of Three Kings)
King David's life teaches us many lessons. He goes from shepherd, to hero, to fugitive, to king, and then even had his kingdom stolen away. David's story could have been very different; tragically different. Would David become bitter, angry, jealous, and vengeful? Would he become a Saul?
As surely as the sun rises, your heart will be tested. Will you allow your heart to grow hard in "God's University" or will you allow it to be broken and transformed? God wants to break and crush everything in us that keeps us from knowing Him. Brokenness always leads to humility and God can do tremendous things through a humble heart!
You have probably heard of the following: Divorce rate is just as high in the church as outside. Most marriages are unhappy. Living together before (or even rather) getting married is now considered conventional wisdom. Relationships will only work when you're "happy". These are the common beliefs about marriage in our culture today, leaving most people feeling discouraged and even hopeless that their marriage can't survive the "valleys" that life brings.
How would things change in your marriage though if these "beliefs" were actually only myths? God's design for marriage in fact works and you can actually have a thriving relationship with your spouse for as long as you live! Check out this short summary of some encouraging research about marriage from the book The Good News About Marriage:
#1 The divorce rate has never been close to 50 percent! There is no way to nail down one final divorce rate. However, accoding to the Cesus Bureau, 72% of people today are still married to their first spouse. And among the 28% who aren't, a portion of those marriaged ended in widowhood, not divorce. The current divorce rate is more accurately at 20-25%.
#2 Most marriages are happy! Although most people think that only about a third of marriages are happy, in reality around 80% of marriages are happy. In multiple surveys, 91 to 97 percent of respondents say their marriages are happy. 93% of people say they would marry their spouse again if they were to do it all over again.
#3 The divorce rate in the church is not the same as the rate among those who don't attend worship services. The common belief to the contrary is based on a misunderstanding of the well-known George Barna studies. The reality is that every study that has been done has found that those who act on their faith by attending worship services, praying with their spouse, and so on are happier and closer in their marriage. Studies find that the rate of divorce drops 25-50 percent among church attenders.
#4 Most marriage problems are not caused by big ticket issues, and simple changes can make a big difference. Most marriage problems are caused by day-to-day misunderstandings, unintended hurts, and trying hard in the wrong areas. 82% of the time in marriage conflicts, one partner is just simply unaware of the other spous's unhappiness. Awareness is a relatively easy problem to fix compared to an affair, addictions, etc.
Be encouraged! Divorce is not the greatest risk to marriages, discouragement is. Don't give up, your marriage can thrive! Find out more here
"The wicked flee though no one pursues, but the righteous are as bold as a lion." Proverbs 28:1
Whatever difficulty the righteous meet, they will not be daunted. They will not be intimidated by fear. They will not give up ground. The righteous are those that are relentlessly pursuing Jesus Christ, no matter the cost. The line has been drawn and there will be no turning back! For many during this time of fasting have faced difficulty and opposition like never before; the devil comes to only kill, steal, and destroy. These are the moments in which spiritual "grit" is developed. Press in! Dont give up! Remind yourself that greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world (1 John 4:4). Connect this truth to every facet of your life this week!
"The cross before me, the world behind me, no turning back..no turning back."
The moment when hardship comes, where does our mind then go?
Hardships, storms, trials, whatever we want to call them are always one moment away. Life will be cruising along and then out of nowhere we receive a bad phone call, a business deal goes south, a relationship comes to an end, etc. Difficulty is promised. At these moments, one’s character, resolve, and faith is tested. How will you respond? Are we drawn into our circumstances or are we taking these moments to allow Jesus to become our peace, strength, and joy in the midst of the storm?
It’s at these moments our mind and heart can be crippled with worry, fear, and what seems impossible. But then Jesus enters into the scene! We must allow our mind to daily marinate in the truth that nothing is impossible with God (Matt.19:26). Nothing. No matter how dark or hopeless the report may be, we are promised that our God is able to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think!
Winning at Home is here to help connect what happens on Sunday morning to the rest of your week! You will find takeaways from Sunday’s services, resources that will strengthen you and your family, and helpful tips on how to apply your faith in everyday situations.
Let’s start 2016 with momentum and a focus to connect our faith to everyday! Here is an article with helpful tips on how to start off the year in God’s Word.
“Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God” (Matt. 4:4)