Each summer, I attempt to read through at least a few classic books. Many of these wonderful books, I did not have the opportunity to read while in school, so I am taking the chance now.
This past summer, I read Confessions, by Augustine of Hippo, an early philosopher and theologian of the Christian faith. One main idea he discusses is that, as humans, we are loving beings. We all love something. Augustine challenges himself and his readers to consider what they love and to whom they direct their love, for what we love is what we become most like.
I am not sure there is a better time for us to consider this idea. With everything that is going on in the world, it is more important than ever for us to direct our affections toward things that are truly good for us and lead to a flourishing life.
But how can we direct our loves and desires? Is it even possible to change what we love? Actually, it is. If we are not careful, we actually begin to love things that we had no conscious intention of loving! Science continues to show us that what we love and what we desire are learned, through repeated actions or practice.
So how does this play out in our daily lives? Our actions, or how we choose to spend our day, greatly impacts the person we become. The things we choose to make most important in our lives become the things that we love the most, and ultimately, change who we become.
Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.2 Corinthians 3:17-18 ESV
What we behold is what we become. It is important that we set up routines in our lives that encourage us and guide us to become who we want to be. Have you implemented many practices into your days that help direct your affections toward things that are good and helpful, things that lead you to a flourishing life in Christ? These practiced routines both remind us who we are, and challenge us to become something more.
Let’s look at a simple example. When you greet someone, whether a friend, acquaintance, or stranger, do you thoughtfully respond to questions and ask similar questions in response? Do you give eye contact when speaking to another person? While this may seem simple, it is actually very important! It is helping us see other people as fully people, to be respected and to be given due attention.
Do you pray for your day or sing songs of praise? In my job, I am privileged to do this with my students. We begin each day with a learned prayer that we recite together:
Unto you, oh, Lord, this day, I submit my heart, my head, and my hands.
This routine helps us remember that we are all part of something outside of ourselves. It reminds us of our focus for each day to submit our work, our thoughts, and our affections to God.
At the end of each day, in my classroom, we spend time reflecting on where we experienced joy each day. A mentor once told me, “Whatever you assess is what children will see as important.” For this reason, I assess joy each day. I ask, “Where did you receive joy today? Where did you give joy today? Where did we share joy today?” These simple reflections, when repeated daily, help each child to learn to love giving and sharing in joy each day.
Charlotte Mason states that “an observant child should be put in the way of things worth observing,” but that can be said of all of us. Throughout our day, are we careful in choosing what we put in front of us and our children? Do the books we read have ideas that are worthy to think about? Are the characters in the story portraying virtue (…and are we, as examples to not only children, but those around us)? Are the stories in the movies or TV shows we are watching helping us to better understand God and the world? Is the art beautifully drawn? Is what we speak accurate and helpful? The things that we dwell upon have a great impact on who we become.
This practice is good for our community to consider, especially given our national circumstances. How do we help each other deal with the uncertainty that faces each day or the challenges that may come? What do we do when all around us, it seems things are falling apart or not going as we expected or hoped?
One solution might be to create basic routines to remind us of who we are in Christ and who we want to become. Maybe it is something as simple as spending time each night sharing what we are thankful for that day, in order to grow into more thankful people. Maybe it is choosing to read a chapter of the Bible or a book that inspires everyone toward a virtuous life together over breakfast or before bed each night, or maybe you just share a story that you enjoy! Maybe it is praying a blessing over each of your children at night or before they go to school…or your spouse before they leave for work. I can’t think of a time where we need blessing more.
Now, more than ever, it is good to consider where we are directing our time, affections, and desires. Meaningful routines give us structure, something to rely on, and something that helps us become more like Christ.
Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.Philippians 4:8
Ben Sytsma teaches 5th grade at Calvary Schools of Holland and also acts as Assistant Principal of the elementary campus. Mr. Sytsma completed his Bachelors in Education and is currently pursuing his Masters in Education at Dordt University. He is a graduate of the Ambleside Master Teacher Training Program and has been on staff at Calvary Schools of Holland since 2014.
We put up our Christmas tree this weekend, as many of you probably did. My husband is not a huge fan of Christmas trees, as he believes it’s a tradition that takes away from the real meaning of what we are to celebrate. I understand where he’s coming from and that long ago, in many countries, people used evergreens in the hopes that they would ward off evil spirits, diseases, and other evils and also used them as decorations in the mid-winter to celebrate the winter solstice as well as various gods, including Saturn (the Roman god of agriculture), Ra (Egyptian god of the sun, order, kings, and the sky), and Balder (Viking sun god). While they wrongly attributed life, being fruitful, life’s victory over death, and eternal life to their various gods, evergreen trees, created by the One True God, YAHWEH Borey (LORD Creator), symbolize these gifts of a fruitful life in the context of what Christ’s birth means to me, as a believer.
Many years ago, I was sitting in our Living Room, working through a Bible study. The room was dark, except for the glow from a small lamp beside me, which I used to see what I was reading and writing down; the pure, white lights from our Christmas tree shone brightly from the corner of the room. As I pondered one of the questions in the study, my eyes fell on the reflection of the Christmas lights, bouncing off my piano and into my sight. I couldn’t take my eyes off of them. I watched them dance, as they interacted with my vision. They held my attention, and nothing else seemed to be in the room…only them…and me. It was at that moment that the LORD revealed that this is what my life, as a believer in Christ, was supposed to be like!
“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.” Matthew 5:8 ESV
“Having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth for a sincere brotherly love, love one another earnestly from a pure heart, since you have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God;” 1 Peter 1:22 ESV
“The words of the LORD are pure words, like silver refined in a furnace on the ground, purified seven times.” Psalm 12:6 ESV
“The aim of our charge is love that issues from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith.” 1 Timothy 1:5 ESV
“You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.” Matthew 5:14-16 NASB
“Do everything without complaining or arguing, so that you may be blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and perverse generation, in which you shine as lights in the world, holding fast to the word of life…” Philippians 2:14-15 BSB, 16a ESV
“Then Jesus spoke to them, again, saying, “I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.” John 8:12 NKJV
“Jesus answered,…’I must work the works of Him who sent Me while it is day; the night is coming when no one can work. As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.’ ” John 9:4-5 NKJV
“Jesus answered, ‘Are there not twelve hours in the day? If anyone walks in the day, he does not stumble, because he sees the light of this world. But if one walks in the night, he stumbles, because the light is not in him.’ ” John 11:9-10 NKJV
Jesus is in me; therefore, His light is still in the world!
That evening, the lights on the tree were captivating, but I wasn’t looking at the tree. I was looking at the light from the tree being reflected by the shiny side of my piano; yet, I was mesmerized by the beauty and purity of the light. This made me reflect (literally)…
This year, as you trim your tree or sit admiring it, reflect on this…
In ALL things, we are to make the truths of the son of God, Jesus Christ, beautiful and appealing (Titus 2:10) to those who observe us! May He be a mesmerizing light through you!
“Would you trust your mom, best friend, or a stranger the most with a secret?”
Truth or Dare…This game has been around for centuries, though it has been called different names. In fact, one version was played as entertainment at Christmastime. Some people may pose the goal as trying to get to know each other better, but that intention could be questioned in many circles. If we are truthful, the premise is the same for many versions: Use the power we have been given to embarrass someone or find out some dirt on them that would otherwise not be offered willingly. Kids are playing it with their friends (not always age-appropriate versions), while teens and adults are intrigued and challenged by it. You can make up your own questions and dares, or you can buy a game that has them supplied for you. Some versions are light, funny, and maybe a little embarrassing, while others divulge way more information than is fitting, put the players in incredibly uncomfortable situations, and encourage players to do things outside of their character.
Why is it that people are drawn to this when so much is at stake? As I pondered this, the LORD revealed a couple truths to me.
“Surely You desire integrity in the inner self, and You teach me wisdom deep within.”Psalm 51:6 CSB
There is a God-given desire deep within us to crave knowledge…to truly know God and His ways. Now, knowledge and wisdom are different. Knowledge is knowing things; wisdom is applying what you know. God continues to teach us, through His Spirit, how to apply what we know about God’s character, which can include admitting or confessing when we have sinned by thinking or acting in a way that opposes Him; not all of these matters are known to others, but they certainly are to involve honest interactions between you and God. What pleases God is that we keep the knowledge of Him and His ways close to our hearts, so that we can rightly discern everything that is trying to take root there. We are to be cautious; not everything that’s trying to take root in our hearts is good. What He wants is for us to be faithful with what we know about Him and His ways. He wants us to exercise the wisdom He has given us on whether or not something should stay and take root (i.e., truths that line up with Scripture) or be uprooted (crafty schemes of the enemy that twist truths to invoke fear, incorrect views of God and others, degraded value, etc.).
The verse above was written by David and is tucked in the middle of a prayer of repentance. He had come face to face with his sin, and his spirit was broken. You can feel the remorse and anguish as you read this Psalm. He knows, deep within, that His fellowship with God has been affected by His sin, and he is willing to act rightly before God, confessing it and asking for forgiveness. This is what the above verse is really dealing with. If you just take this particular verse and don’t look at what’s around it, you can interpret it very differently. However, this is the example of wisdom being referred to…knowing God, knowing how He has designed us to live, AND living that way. When we don’t, His Spirit convicts us of our sin in order to restore us and our relationship with Him.
“…we know indeed we all have knowledge. Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up. If anyone thinks to have known anything, not yet does he know as it is necessary to know. But if anyone loves God, he is known by Him.”1 Corinthians 8:1b-3 BLB
Let’s take a look back at our Truth or Dare example; please note that this game is not always sinful, but it can be. The enemy is really good at taking concepts that are beautifully designed by God and twisting them. Here are possibilities of how (and it’s not just in this game, but also in our everyday conversations with family, friends, co-workers, etc.)
“Let no unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building up the one in need and bringing grace to those who listen.”Ephesians 4:15 BSB
Whether you’re playing a game, sitting at a table for break with your co-workers, having lunch with friends, standing in a LONG line at the store, or spending the holidays with family, we can all examine our words and actions (even our facial expressions) and what was/is at the heart of them. Think of a newly built house. You want a strong foundation, solid walls, quality materials. If you go skimpy on any of those, the integrity of the house is compromised. Well, your body is a dwelling place (1 Corinthians 6:19-20) for God; and another believer’s body is also a dwelling place for God. If you chip away at them with your words, you are, in an essence, hacking away at their spiritual dwelling. Instead, we are to speak in a way that fortifies their dwelling and makes it stronger…to provide good, quality truths to build on.
What are we doing with others’ dwelling places? Are we helping to build them, or are we wrecking them?
If we have been wrecking them, is the Spirit nudging us to have a healthy conversation between us and God, confessing our sin? Is He leading us to also have a restorative conversation with someone else?
May our words be those that will strengthen our dwelling and others’! Let us know how someone has recently built YOU up!
This year, my family and I have enjoyed watching a flock of turkeys, made up of a tom, a hen, and eight chicks, travel through our yard on a regular basis. They have made their rounds through our neighborhood, feasting on a smorgasbord of grass, nuts, and insects from the various yards. It’s been fun, watching the chicks grow up, and we’ve been so excited to see that all eight of the little ones have survived and grown as big as their parents!
One day, I saw them crossing the street from our neighbor’s yard into ours. They, then, congregated around out mailbox and into our side yard. What caught my eye was the wide wingspan of one turkey, as it flew and perched on top of our mailbox while the others eagerly foraged on the ground below! In all the time we had watched them, they had never perched in our yard, so I quickly grabbed my phone, snapped a few pictures, and texted them to several people. The following caption was the first thing that came to my mind: “Sometimes, we need a new perspective!” I’m really thankful the LORD gave me that visual that day with the turkeys. As Thanksgiving approaches, I have been thinking more about the significance of it. Here is what the LORD has revealed…
A lot of times, filling our minds and hearts with thankfulness takes our adopting a completely new perspective. Just like the turkey put forth effort to physically move from one viewpoint to another on the mailbox, moving our thoughts from a place of grumbling to one of gratitude requires a significant amount of mental effort on our parts.
Many of the turkeys, still on the ground, were able to feast on a plethora of food, but the turkey on the mailbox just stood there, looking around. Isn’t that so like life when we complain? There is always more than enough negativity to gorge ourselves on, and it only gets fueled by others we are around, doing the same. When we perch ourselves on a different vantage point, however, looking for things to be thankful for, we can tend to feel like we are the only ones, yet our outlook is a lot clearer and healthier.
Did you know that turkeys perch, so they are safer? If one or more is perched up high, keeping watch over the flock, the flock is less susceptible to a ground predator’s attack. Likewise, when we intentionally focus our thoughts on “things above” (Col. 3:2) and research matters to get to the heart of them and assess them according to the Word of God and from a viewpoint of Christ’s reign over it (Col. 3:1), we are less susceptible to fall prey to the enemy’s schemes. This may include being thankful for what God has given us; seeing people as God does; focusing on what God is doing in, around, and through us; etc. This not only protects US, but also looks out for those around us!
Satan is so crafty and always on the prowl, and it’s easy to fall prey to his schemes. I know I’m not the only one who feels exhausted, at times, from the energy it takes to speak life into those around me! Our efforts are NOT wasted. The LORD IS using them to shine His light in the darkness and transform lives, whether we see immediate results or not! Just the fact that the enemy sees someone “perched up above” may alter his plan of attack.
“Turkey perch” with me for a minute…I have had people say to me multiple times in the last couple years, “I’m so sorry you have to go through this!” I know their hearts, and they are sincere; they care about me, and no one wants to see someone they care about hurt. Yet my reply is, “I’m not!!” I, then, have a platform to share what I am thankful for and how the LORD has been working through it. Here are my thoughts…
|Chronic migraines||I praise God that, through a modified treatment plan, my migraines are less often each month. However, if it wasn’t for all the times I have laid down, having nowhere to look but up, I wouldn’t have had the still quiet to hear the voice of the Spirit better and learn to better communicate with the LORD.|
|Chronic fatigue||I am so thankful to have more answers and know this is separate from my migraines; it helps me better understand what I have been going through. I also praise God for more good days where I feel physically stronger.|
|Nervous system disorder–PPPD||I still thank God when I walk on uneven grass, that I am able to walk, again. The other day, I forgot my cell phone; I remembered, as we were getting in our vehicle. As I went back into the house and jogged to get my phone, I thought, “I wouldn’t have been able to do this a year and a half ago!” Praise you, LORD! Even though I still struggle with movement, I am thankful to God for my Mayo doctor, all of the information he has been able to provide to me because of their research in this area, and for the treatment plan he has prescribed for me. Though I still have to monitor my activities, I have more days that I feel myself. I have much to be thankful for!|
|Fibromyalgia tendencies||Pain has given me a different view of others in need. The LORD has increased my compassion level for those hurting. Thank you, LORD, for a different perspective.|
|Nervous system disorder–Spasmodic dysphonia||There are so many jobs that are difficult to perform well without a voice that is strong and unwavering, yet I believe the LORD has used this disorder to lead me exactly where He wants me to be. While I miss being able to sing to Him with my voice, my heart sings louder!!|
|Brain tumor||Even though the tumor has grown a decent amount over the last year, I have seen the LORD in it, as well. He has allowed it to grow in a way that allows it to hang out in there for a while; this allows me more time to work on what He has called me to do! Thank you, LORD!|
|All of the above||If it wasn’t for all of the health issues I have experienced, I would still be working a different job and would not have been able to pursue this amazing opportunity to work with the LORD on a Bible study or this blog!!! I’ve been SO blessed by both! I am so humbled to be used by Him…and thankful!!|
“Turkey perch” with me! What would yours look like? I’d love to hear!
The clouds to our East looked dark and ominous as we drove. We knew the forecast was calling for severe thunderstorms with possible tornados, and those clouds looked every bit capable of producing such weather. Our grandma had passed away, and we were determined to make it to the viewing. My younger brother and I continued our conversation while we drove, which included a prayer to our God, Creator of the Universe; we asked, if it was His will, that He would move the clouds out of our path, believing full well that He was able to do so. We continued our drive. It was so easy to talk with my brother, share laughs, shed tears as we recounted memories with our grandma, and get distracted from the inevitable. Yet, for the time being, our path was clear, the sun was shining, and I was very much enjoying the opportunity to catch up with my brother, face to face, whom I hadn’t seen, due to distance, in a while. Our parents were driving behind us with my kiddos, and my husband had planned on coming later, due to his schedule.
The time came to turn East. We knew we would soon enter the storms…Yet, as we approached them, cloud after cloud moved to the left and right of the highway. It literally felt like a parting of the Red Sea! The sun shone brightly down upon us and our path, and the sky above us was a gorgeous blue! Some may explain it away or believe it was just a coincidence, but we knew this was God’s blessing on us and answer to our prayer. As we looked off to the North and South, we knew the storm was present, yet our God was, as well!! I can’t remember if I cried, but I have tears in my eyes, even now, as I think about it. His presence was SO close to us in those moments; I felt like a child, safe, watched over, and cared for by her loving daddy!
Years later, my husband and I were heading back to Mayo Clinic for a variety of medical tests. I was in a mood! No news was going to get me down! Our daughter had prepared an envelope with a plethora of Bible verses listed on it, which she gave to me before we left (I still have this envelope in my Bible to this day!). She picked them out, specifically, she told me, because they were verses that had to do with “praises.” She said she was praising God “for [our] going back to Mayo in the hopes that they would find out something.” We began our trip by my reading a number of them aloud while my husband drove. We had amazing conversations about the text, and my spirits were lifted high as I meditated on the safety of dwelling in God’s presence!
After hours of driving, we could see the skies to the North and West turning extremely dark; we knew storms were ahead. We drove closer and closer to them…up to the bottom edge of that part of the storm front. As we turned West, which was our planned route, we began to drive right into the storm. We saw a beautiful lightning show in front of us, and my husband made a comment about the presence of the storm we were heading into. I remember looking out my window as I was listening to music and seeing large drops of rain begin to fall around us; I said, “I don’t care! We serve the God who tells the rain when and where to fall! Drive on!” I was SO confident in that moment that we could drive into a lightning bolt, and we wouldn’t be harmed! God’s presence was SO full and consuming, and I knew His hand of protection was around us! No more did big drops of rain begin to fall; then, they stopped! We watched as the storm in front of us and to our North cleared, as the storm looked like it was pushed to the South. The remaining trip to Mayo was dry. This is our God!!! You should ask my husband; I was about bouncing off the insides of the vehicle! I was SO excited about Who our God is, what He can do, and how much He loves His kids!!
“For to the snow he says, ‘Fall on the earth,’ likewise to the downpour, His mighty downpour.”Job 37:6 ESV
I know for a fact that God is in the storm…every storm! It may not be a weather storm; it may be a storm in your life. If what I mentioned previously wasn’t enough to convince you, and you are still unsure, may I please share this with you…My younger brother was going through some challenging times. God reminded me of how He led the Israelites out of Egypt and in the wilderness…
“By day, the LORD went ahead of them in a pillar of cloud to guide them on their way, and by night, in a pillar of fire to give them light, so that they could travel by day or night. Neither the pillar of cloud by day nor the pillar of fire by night left its place in front of the people. “Exodus 13:21-22 NIV
The LORD led them in a pillar of cloud and a pillar of fire. The LORD God was in both! Sometimes, we can relate to the fire…We see God leading us; we feel His power in us and on our behalf; we see His protection of us, we trust Him fully, and we’re willing to follow Him. On the other hand, the clouds seem to cover the reality of His presence at times. Just like on sunny days, when you see white, puffy clouds floating in the sky, your brain sees images in the clouds like an elephant or dolphin, dog or fork. During our rough times, I believe we as humans imagine things…maybe that God’s not there, because we can’t see Him in this or what we are dealing with doesn’t seem fair; maybe that God doesn’t love us (How could He, if He allowed this to happen?). The fact is: The LORD them in a pillar of cloud, and He never left His place…guiding His people.
So, I called my brother, as the LORD laid His presence in the cloud heavy on my heart and stirred to call him, specifically. I shared what the LORD had given. After I finished, he relayed how he was praying that same day, and He recognized, in his prayer, that the LORD is the same God that led the Israelites through the wilderness in a pillar of cloud and a pillar of fire! He said he didn’t really know why those particular words came to His mind while praying, but we do, now! The Holy Spirit was bringing that to his mind and mine to make the impact greater that God’s presence was with him, even in what he was experiencing.
“When Pharaoh finally let the people go, God did not lead them along the main road that runs through Philistine territory, even though that was the shortest route to the Promised Land. God said, ‘If the people are faced with a battle, they might change their minds and return to Egypt.’ So, God led them in a roundabout way through the wilderness toward the Red Sea. Thus, the Israelites left Egypt like an army ready for battle.”Exodus 13:17-18 NLT
Even when we may question God’s presence, He is working, protecting, and guiding. His ultimate plan may look a lot different than the way we would have done. Honestly, there WAS a shorter way to the Promised Land, yet that wasn’t the BEST way.
Maybe you are walking a path, shining with light and power. God’s presence, guidance, and glory is amazing in that! But maybe a cloud seems to be covering His presence in whatever you’re going through. Maybe you don’t see how any good could come from this. Remember, He will not leave His place, leading His children.
I would love to hear how you have seen God moving in YOUR life! Let me know in the Comment section above (next to the title of this post)!
Have you noticed an uptick in dissatisfied people? If it’s not related to Covid or the election, it’s their health, spouse, kids, job…you name it! They may say it’s nothing…maybe a hole in their sock that’s making them cranky, but they sure are making their dissatisfaction known to other people…and you know there is more that’s stuck than just their big toe! Now, I’m not talking about people who are just giving you a “state of the union” when you ask them how they are; I consider that filling you in on what’s going on, because you asked. I’m talking about those you may or may not address, yet they come into a building or a room, laying woe after woe on the table. It doesn’t take long before it feels like the flame of a candle just got snuffed out, doesn’t it? Your insides begin to feel tight and, possibly, your attitude turns to being disgruntled right along with them.
I was listening to someone doing this the other day, and my spirit knew it was in a fight. I kept wanting to bring light and joy to the conversation, but my insides seemed to have a big ‘ole frown face covering them after hearing complaint after complaint. Shortly after, when I was alone, I prayed for this individual and was asking God how I could make a positive difference in this person’s life. I thought through the armor of God and considered how something to cover our mouths might be beneficial. That’s when it “hit” me; the LORD brought to mind 2 Peter 1:3.
“…seeing that His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence.”2 Peter 1:3 NASB
The armor God has given us in Jesus Christ is everything we need to fight the temptation to complain…And it IS a temptation! Over and over again in Scripture, we are commanded NOT to be disgruntled or question. This doesn’t mean we can’t ask God questions. The sin trigger comes when our questions are self-promoting, because WE want to be in control, rather than giving glory (or a favorable opinion) to GOD. When we are disgruntled, we are complaining about things not going the way WE would like. We lose site of the sovereignty (ultimate power and authority) of God and focus on ourselves. We make that choice. It doesn’t just happen. We consciously make the choice to entertain our own desires or plan, and before long, when we make those same choices over and over, it becomes more of a habit; we tend to think less about each choice.
Before we get to that point (and even if we have already found ourselves there), let’s take a step back, in the quiet, and spend some time in thought and prayer.
Maybe you get annoyed at your teen, consistently leaving a plate or used napkin in the living room after a snack. Is it REALLY the paper plate or napkin that’s annoying you, or is it the lack of respect and responsibility? It’s necessary to address THAT…the REAL issue, after FIRST addressing it in your own heart. If it is the lack of respect and responsibility in your child, are you enabling that behavior or consistently addressing it? I assure you! If you are addressing it, you are not alone, if you feel like you are consistently meeting challenges head on, but not always seeing movement. Sometimes, it feels like a battle that can be won, and sometimes it just feels like you are wounded and taking another punch. However, this is where we need to ask the question…Are we addressing the behavior itself, consistently, or the root? I believe more movement will be seen when we address the roots of our responses as well as those of others’.
Maybe you’re upset with your or your spouse’s employer, because you or your spouse have been laid off or are not getting as many hours recently. Examine the root! Is it really the employer you’re upset with, or is it fear that you won’t be able to pay the bills that you still continue to receive? After prayer and reflection, if you find that your root is fear, you can more accurately bring your cares and needs before the LORD; it will also allow you to more wisely assess the root of the employer’s actions. Maybe Covid has been really hard on business, and changes HAD to be made, whether they wanted to or not. Do you see how our misplaced emotions can add to the tension, instead of aiding in healing?
The LORD laid another couple verses on my heart, as I pondered this.
Now we encourage you, brethren, warn those who are insubordinate or idle, comfort the fainthearted, uphold the weak, be patient with all. See that no one renders evil for evil to anyone, but always pursue what is good both for yourselves AND for all. Rejoice always, pray without ceasing; in everything, give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.1 Thessalonians 5:14-18 NKJV
I love how Paul gives us a reality check in his first letter to the Thessalonians. They, obviously, had to deal with some of this stuff, too.
If we focus on THESE things, I believe our perspective will be much more positive and much less negative! Our thoughts, covered by the helmet of salvation through Christ, will affect our heart, covered by the breastplate of righteousness (of Christ); and your heart will affect what comes out of your mouth. How we handle a situation can positively affect another, especially if we are considering how our response can be good for the other person, as well.
“A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.”Luke 6:45 NIV
Let’s go back to the person who just offers complaints readily. This would be a perfect time to interact with God, asking Him to help you discern the root of their dissatisfaction and help bring words of healing (which may come in the way of a question you pose, a challenge, a different perspective, etc.). I think we would all be wise to remember, though, that we are not responsible for the way they respond to how the Spirit is teaching you to speak. That’s between them and God. We just need to listen for His counsel and obey.
The LORD is speaking to me loudly on this. How about you? If He is, and you begin looking for the root of the matter, thinking about others and their good, and the Spirit teaches you how to speak differently from a heart centered on the truths of Scripture, I would love to hear how you are seeing Him move in you and in those around you!
Okay. So, the name of the website is a little different. I give you that, but there is a purpose, as there always is with God! When someone has a child, adopts a puppy, or really loves his/her car, he/she tends to name it. Why? Because of love. Naming is an expression of love, vowing to care for whatever or whomever was named. This has been done since the beginning. God expressed this when He named Adam and Eve “Adam (mankind)” (Genesis 5:2). Adam named his wife “Woman” when God created her (Genesis 2:23) and then, specifically, “Eve,” which meant “life or living,” after the LORD God’s curse (Genesis 3:20).
Names mean something or remind you of something. You probably are not going to name your next pet a name you strongly dislike or, even, something that reminds you of something that makes you cringe. Naming something usually takes a good amount of thought. You want it to “fit” that person, pet, object, or describe the time in your life associated with the one being named.
This website, taylorbaumliv.com, was created out of obedience to the calling God spoke into my life…and just like your name, this site’s name means something:
TAYLOR…It’s not only my maiden name; it also means “to cut.”
BAUM…This is my married name, which means “tree.”
LIV…The LORD brought this name to mind as I was thinking about the previous verse and the word of God. Both of those verses speak life. The word of God is living, and when we trust in and really LIVE (dwell, abide) in Him, He enables us to truly thrive, fulfilling our purpose for His kingdom! Well, it probably won’t surprise you that the LORD knew what “Liv” meant and spoke this name into my soul. I was so excited when I saw what it meant…!
This is my prayer…That, through my life and this site, as I have dedicated both to Him, you will be brought to Jesus, and the river of life will flow out of your heart in a powerful way…
…that the Spirit of God will bring healing in your life (through your thoughts, attitudes, and feelings (discarding sin like muddy boots); and as He produces His beautiful fruit in you, He will bring healing to those whom your life impacts.
It can be healing, basking in the sun, tending to a growing garden, but we ARE in a battle, as well; the enemy wants to stomp right through that garden and bring ruin, not life. I know this well. He has been attacking me and my family in his crafty ways since I set out to obey the LORD in this venture, yet I am confident in this…The LORD is my defender and protection..my salvation!