Thursday, June 26, 2014

Sticky Friends

Panera's was a convenient meeting place late that Saturday afternoon providing the privacy to share honestly.

Janine on a river.
At first, I didn’t recognize her with her hair pulled back, baseball cap in place, and dressed like she just came off the river—which she had.

My friend is also a fishing guide.

I needed her wisdom. And her full day of fly fishing didn’t keep her from our time.

My story poured out; she listened. When my words quieted, she asked. Her perceptive questions caused me to see another way. It was good. 

Floating is an apt descriptor of how I felt as the door of Panera's closed behind us.

Janine-standing on left; me-seated on right.
I arrived tied in a metaphorical knot; I left with the ropes falling off—a free woman once again.

I arrived with a plan. A plan meant to offer significance to my insecure self. But even I knew the plan was faulty and I couldn’t figure how to fix it. 

A sticky friend was the need. 

“A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.                      Proverbs 18:24

A bit of re-writing and that scripture describes my friend, A woman of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a girl-friend who sticks closer than a sister. 
Janine and I talking with another.

I could have sought the counsel of many; I chose the wisdom of one—my sticky friend. SF and I trekked this mountain before.

Not sure who is Janine and who is me. 
My sticky friend is a friend I can trust with me. She is not surprised or scared by my crazy thoughts. In the midst of reality, I experience her friendship in stronger ways. She pulls closer to me and walks with me through my faulty thinking. She facilitates untying the knots and celebrates the falling ropes.

As I experience her love and wisdom, I know I have found a Proverbs 18:24 friend. Even in knowing the worst about me, she loves and pulls closer. She doesn’t empathize; she walks me into the Truth. 

Yes, I have many other friends and yes I have other sticky friends—often my husband is the one I go to. Because you are reading these words, I am trusting you with a piece of me. Thank you for listening. 

Have you identified your sticky friends? You are blessed if you have.

“Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.”                                       John 15:13

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Trust - Distrust

I memorized these words 40 years ago.

“No distrust made him waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God, fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised.”

Good seed that took all those years to germinate.

Last week I dreamt about those words. (Is this an illustration of Psalm 1:2?) I woke and wrote, compelled to remember.

Abraham’s story instructs my story.

“No distrust …” Abraham had a choice—to trust or distrust. Circumstances offered a strong case for distrust. Nothing in his life experience led to the trust option. It was crazy!

He chose trust anyway.

Trust in a promise, a hope, a character - trust in God who stood behind the promise.

They were generic promises … God is good; God is omniscient, God is omnipotent. 

They were specific and personal promises … Sarah will conceive; God will provide a lamb. “In hope he believed against hope … he did not weaken in faith …” (Romans 4:18 and 19).

And he grew strong in his faith. Growing is a process. I imagine Abraham was a different man at 100 years old than he was at 98.

Scripture records two keys to his growth: 

·       He gave glory to God.
·       He was fully convinced that God was able.

Abraham knew where the credit belonged and in humility he placed it in there.

His humility shines in the second key as well; He was fully convinced that God was able. He was convinced of God’s ability; He did not presume how God might work.

God is not asking me to have an Abraham-sized faith; He is asking for a Sue-sized faith as I walk through my personal family issues. 

Will I trust? Will I believe the promises of God, the generic ones and the specific ones He has spoken to me? How badly do I want to grow? Will I be humble and give the glory to God in my family situation? Will I believe God is able or when I think about how he should show himself, do I have him in a box?

What about you? What issues in your life might God through Abraham be speaking to?

Will you pray for me? I will pray for you.

“That is why his faith was “counted to him as righteousness.” But the words “it was counted to him” were not written for his sake alone, but for ours also. It will be counted to us “who believe in him who raised from the dead Jesus our Lord,”                                                                                                           Romans 4:22, 23, and 24 (bolding mine)

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Sticks and Stones

Many times as a young girl, I heard these words,
sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can never hurt me. How UN-true! Words can hurt. A LOT!

Interesting, some of the most life-giving words that have been gifted to me were very simple,
Of course I do. These were my husband's words in response to my anger-induced challenge, Do you even believe I love Jesus? Although the details escape me, I remember his 4 wonderful words. They were a balm to my soul and infused me with the grace to repent.

This week Bill and I have been in Tennessee, our days filled with friends eager to know God better. It seemed a good time for a guest post. When I read Craig's words below, I knew I wanted to pass them on to you. He spoke my heart.


From Faith Gateway: Devotionals Daily

Proverbs 16:24
The Power of Words by Craig Groeschel from Soul Detox

You don’t have to have a big nose to have heard the childhood mantra, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can never hurt me.” Just because it’s spouted by first graders doesn’t mean it’s true. Perhaps the adult translation of this age-old adage is more like,

“Sticks and stones can bruise your body for a few days, but words can scar your soul for life.”

Like a neutron bomb which annihilates human life but leaves buildings intact,words can devastate. Your body may remain unharmed, but your heart suffers the deadly shrapnel of painful phrases. David, who knew a thing or two about having enemies in high places, wrote that evildoers “sharpen their tongues like swords and aim cruel words like deadly arrows” (Psalm 64:3). 

Whether you’re eighteen or eighty, you can probably recall the pain of someone’s harsh words scalding your soul.

Maybe you still hear the message from years ago, playing an endless loop in your mind, echoing inside you every day.

“You’ll never amount to anything.”

“I wish I never had you.”

“You’re nothing like your brother.”

“I’m sick of you.”

“I never loved you.”

“You’ll never change.”

As devastating as these words can be, they can be offset by words of truth, hope, and love.

The right words at the right time can be helpful, healing, and life-transforming.

Proverbs 18:21 says, “The tongue has the power of life and death.” What you say can give life to you and to other people, or it can take life away.

Words are powerful beyond imagination. Think about it. When God created the world, how did he do it? He spoke. God said, “Let there be...” and there was. Words have power. In so many fairy tales, legends, and myths, it’s the power of a spoken spell, incantation, or magic phrase that can either cause destruction or restore harmony.

The potency of godly words can revive, heal, and change our lives. Ungodly words have the power to bind, imprison, and destroy.

-  Creative words create. Destructive words destroy.
-  Hurtful words crush. Helpful words build up.
-  Toxic words poison. Soothing words heal.
-  Faith-filled words bring life. Faithless words bring death.

Several passages in the Bible clearly contrast the difference.

The words of the reckless pierce like swords, but the tongue of the wise brings healing. — Proverbs 12:18

What are reckless words? They’re the shards of glass you hurl in the heat of an argument. They’re the words you know you’ll regret as soon as they’ve left your tongue. They’re the bitter, painful, cancerous messages that leave people sick and hurting. Talking out of the other side of your mouth, the tongue of the wise brings encouragement, joy, and wisdom. Proverbs 15:4 expresses this duality another way: “The soothing tongue is a tree of life, but a perverse tongue crushes the spirit.” Positive words plant seeds for beautiful trees. Deceptive words poison others like weed killer.

If you are like most people, you can recall several of the many toxic phrases that have been directed at you. They could have been innocent: “Did you mean to do that to your hair?” “Why aren’t you married yet?” “I thought you would do much better than that.”

Or perhaps the words were intended to pierce your heart like a poison dagger: “Why can’t you do anything right?” “I wish I’d never married you.” “You’re a real piece of work.” “You are the biggest disappointment to me.”

My hope is that you can also remember life-giving words spoken to you at the precise moment you needed them.

Maybe someone told you,“I believe in you,” and it was all you needed to move forward. It could’ve been someone saying, “I’m so proud of you,” and their affirmation touched your soul. Maybe a close friend shared, “I’m more thankful for you than you could ever know,” and in return, those words meant more to you than your friend would ever know. The words spoken by a loving spouse can often communicate, “I’d marry you all over again,” reminding you of their support.

Another proverb compares such words to honey and to medicine: “Gracious words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones” (Proverbs 16:24). I’m thankful for the people in my life who fed me sweet words of affirmation and encouragement.

My wife Amy’s words have often kept me going. When I’m down and feeling inadequate for the ministry before me, she reminds me who I am and what I have in Christ. When others criticize our style of ministry, she reminds me that God called us to do a different work. And sometimes, she simply calls me her Mega-man! I may be an average guy, but I like knowing that I’m her superhero.

We obviously can’t control what others say about us, but we can control what we believe. Since toxic words can destroy our souls, we’ve got to passionately guard our hearts against them. Do whatever it takes to keep the poison out of your heart.

Solomon told his son, “Listen closely to my words... Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life” (Proverbs 4:20, Proverbs 4:23, emphasis mine). With his life-giving words, a protective father warned his son to guard his heart as his life source. We must keep others from dumping their toxic waste into our water supply.

Countless times a day, when it comes to what you hear and say, you have choices to make. When you hear the words of others, you can choose to receive them as truth or reject them as lies. And every time you open your mouth to utter a word, you have the opportunity to speak life or the temptation to take it. Think back through the past few days. When you spoke to others, what did they hear? Either you aimed sharp, poison-tipped darts at their hearts, or you injected them with life-giving, God-honoring booster shots.

Back to me. A scripture I pray almost daily for myself ...

"May 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