What About You Wednesday | Brittney

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Today we welcome Brittney to the blog! Let’s step into her season…

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Describe the season you currently find yourself in.

“The only phrase that seems to suffice the past two years and where I currently am is “The Assurance of Christ within the Change”. Of course a season and attitude of change is a constant and very necessary thing, but what I didn’t expect was that it would be so painfully beautiful. I began full blown vocational ministry right out of college, and through many joys and trials I have seen God move in crazy ways in the lives of myself and my faith family. From grieving hurts that come along with the progress of immense change in a church body, to seeing God have to remove people from positions to deal with sins or simply because He has another plan for them, the Lord has shown me so much about finding my assurance in Him.”

What is God teaching you/revealing to you during this season?

“It has been a long process in seeing what God has been teaching me in this season. Mainly because of my stubbornness. I don’t know if others do this, but this past couple of years, it felt like I just needed to keep my head above water. “Don’t sink Brittney, you have to keep going even when the waters around you seem to be crashing everywhere.” This was the mindset for a while and it was exhausting. The sweetness of God and His consistent character is that He doesn’t stop pursuing us and He deals with us with so much patience. In the book, “A Dangerous Calling,” Paul David Tripp sums up exactly what God has been revealing and teaching me during this season. “Either you will be getting your identity vertically, from who you are in Christ, or you will be shopping for it horizontally in the situations, experiences, and relationships of your daily life.” and “If you are not requiring yourself to get your deepest sense of well-being vertically, you will shop for it horizontally, and you will always come up empty.” I quickly became weary due to this “horizontal search for identity” and I finally recognized because the idol I had made to replace the perfect Savior was hope in myself and hope in other people. I found assurance in people’s approval, assurance in my morality, and assurance in my abilities, when all the while Christ was patiently guiding me to assurance in Himself.”

How have you/are you changing during this season?

“God has been moving me from the fracturing assurance in self to abiding in the joy-filled assurance of Christ. Even though I knew Christ was who I needed to abide in, I definitely wasn’t living out or understanding John 15:5 – “I am the vine, you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, it is he who will bear much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing.” God has shown me that the gospel frees me to obey and serve Him because He has first accepted me. My obedience and service is not a way to earn His acceptance. The way of working hard to keep my head above water, performing well, not screwing up, and gaining people’s approval is NOT the gospel. Honestly it’s pride. God has been breaking down that pride, making me dependent upon Him by allowing me to walk through a season of change filled with fear to make me realize that Christ is my only assurance. He is the only one who brings joy, peace, endurance and to the fact that I need Him in all I do. That seems like a “DUH” moment, but it’s huge. I am not sufficient! Brittney isn’t capable of holding her head above water. In the past two years I have felt like Peter in the passage in Matthew when he went to go meet Jesus by walking on water but was so quick to take his eyes off of Jesus, became afraid, and quickly began to sink. But in Christ’s sweet sweet grace He has reached out, caught me and spoke softly, “You of little faith” and then carried me in His security to show me truly who He is. That He is able and I am not. That He loves me enough to give me the strength and capability, things I sought in people who were incapable of supplying those things (myself included), to continue in what He has called me to do.”

What encouragement would you like to share with someone who is in a similar season?

“God cares about His people and He is a God of compassion. The idols we make out of people or our own abilities can never give you the assurance you desire or need. Only in Jesus and the giving of the Holy Spirit are we able to find assurance, strength, love, acceptance and joy within difficult situations. God is a good Father who never stops changing us into the image of His son. Let us all find sweet assurance in Him above all other tempting and sweetly-false things through every season of change.”

A Prayer for Brittney

Constant Father,

Thank You for Brittney. Thank You that You are aware of her and with her in this season. Thank You that You use change to change us. Thank You for using change to change Brittney, to make her look more like Jesus. Thank You for revealing to her the idols of others and self. Thank You for being the One who never fails us, never gets fed up with us, never needs time away from us. May the same gospel that saved Brittney continue to sustain her. May she continue to walk in freedom and do things out of adoration instead of obligation. May she continue to crave Your sweetness and long for more of You. Continue to help her to utterly depend on You. Instead of just doggie paddling to try and stay above water, may she sink into Your grace, may she drown in Your love, may she lose control only to rest in You. Help her to continue to abide in You and as she does May You bless the works of her hands. May her ministry, her life be fruitful because she knows you as the Vine. May Brittney rest in Your blessed assurance.

Amen.

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What About You Wednesday | Krista

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Today we welcome Krista to the blog! Let’s step into her season…

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Describe the season you currently find yourself in.

“I currently find myself in a place of patient anticipation. Each year as winter comes to a close and spring is approaching, I get a bittersweet sense of excitement and discontentment. As the long, cold winter months come to an end and the spring bursts through with new life, warmth and hope, my heart always anticipates what a joy the next season will bring. And yet in the anticipation for the next season, my heart becomes weary in the waiting. I feel like that is my life right now. It has been a brutally cold and disheartening year, but I can see the springtime coming fast. I anticipate the Lord’s goodness in the time to come and CHOOSE DAILY to see Him working even now.”

(I just want to point out how symbolic Krista’s above picture is. The little white flowers look like the snow of the winter and the pink flowers shout spring.)

What is God teaching you/revealing to you during this season.

“The Lord has been so sweet to be patient in my doubting and untrusting heart. He shows me little bits and pieces of His plan and promises at the times that I need it most. He is gently teaching me to depend upon His grace and to trust that good works together for His children who faithfully love Him. A verse that I have been clinging to during this time is found in Lamentations 3:21-24 and it says, “But this I call to mind and therefore have hope: The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, His mercies are new each morning. Great is Your faithfulness. ‘The Lord is my portion’, says my soul, ‘Therefore I will have hope in Him!

I have also been taught through the loss of loved ones within the last year that our hope and satisfaction can only be found in the fact that eternity will be spent in the perfect presence of Jesus. All things good or bad in this world are fleeting compared to the eternity we are promised as children of God. Therefore all things should be counted as temporary here on earth, held loosely, knowing that the eternity that awaits us is the most high honor and greatest gift we could ever receive. This has kept so much in perspective of the urgency of the Kingdom for me. For the first time in my life, dying and going to be with Jesus is something I look forward to not something that I fear.’”

How have you/are you changing during this season?

“I have become so aware of my need of time alone and away from busyness. It is so funny because all throughout college I was a people-person, constantly surrounded by and interacting with a ton of people. However, now I see the great importance of being alone, internally processing with Jesus and using the ‘pray about it more than you talk about it’ concept. I have found it to be so peaceful and encouraging to grow in my relationship with the Lord in this way. My dependence on Him has been strengthened and my friendships have continued beautifully. I have learned to not fear being alone, but embrace it as an opportunity to draw near to the Father. Although, this is most certainly not always my initial attitude, keeping this in mind has strengthened my ability to rest during this season.”

What encouragement would you like to share with someone who is in a similar season?

“Whether you are walking through a season post-grad or are just unsure of where the Lord is leading in the time to come, be comforted. The Lord is faithful to complete the work that He began in you and He will surely do it (Philippians 1:6). Walk each day with faith in trusting that everything that the Lord has equipped you with for that day is exactly what you need to serve Him (Hebrews 13:20-21). He is working in the midst of our doubt and anxiety and will reveal His will in His perfect and beautiful timing. Be STEADFAST and HOPE in the faithfulness of our Father. Remembering that in all things, our purpose is not to serve ourselves, but to glorify the Father who saves, loves, redeems and chooses us to be His own.”

A Prayer for Krista

God, You are good. We thank You for working all things for the good of those who love You. Thank You for Krista. Thank You that You are aware of her and with her in this season. Thank You for Your faithfulness to her in the past. May she cling to the truth that You will be faithful again and again. Thank You for how You are using the waiting to increase her longing and hope for You. Thank You for using death to birth truth in her life, an urgency for the gospel, and a peace about Home. Continue to comfort her grieving heart. Thank You for being a God who can handle our doubts and our questions. May Krista continue to bring those and lay them at Your feet. For someone once said, “faith does not eliminate questions, but faith knows where to take them.” Thank You for the many lives Krista has invested in. Thank You for her kind and giving heart. Thank You for this season where she’s been able to pull back and come away and rest with You, receiving after giving so much of herself. May she continue to be strengthened in her alone time with You. As spring approaches, and the buds begin to bloom, may she be thankful for winter, for the time when growth was happening under the surface. As things begin to shoot out from under the ground, may she burst with joy. Although winter was cold and brutal, may she also remember the quiet, the stillness, the calm which winter can bring. And may she continue to hold onto those things even as seasons change. Thanks for loving us, Lord. Amen.

Entering Dangerous Territory | Part Three

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Last week I began unpacking my journey through “Resisting Gossip: Winning the War of the Wagging Tongue,” by Matthew Mitchell. We looked at the first part of his one-sentence summary of the Bible’s teaching on gossip:

“Sinful gossip is bearing bad news behind someone’s back out of a bad heart.”

Today we pick up where we left off…


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(Photo Cred)

What does “behind someone’s back” mean?

We all know gossip happens when you are talking (or listening) about someone who is not there. We find it much easier to talk about someone else when they aren’t around don’t we? Not only is it easier, it’s more intriguing. This is the first red flag we should look for. This is the first sign that we are entering dangerous territory. This is our first check point.

Mitchell urges us to ask ourselves some questions before we talk or continue to talk about someone who is not present.

-Would I say this if he were here?

-Would I receive this bad news about her in the same way if she were present?

-Am I hiding this conversation from someone? (If you use the phrases “I shouldn’t be telling you this”, or “I know you won’t tell anyone else about this”, or “don’t tell anybody else I’m telling you this” to start off your conversation about another person, that is a good indicator that you shouldn’t be telling it, and if you hear those phrases you probably shouldn’t be listening to it).

-Would I want someone else to talk this way about me if I were out of the room?

Pretty convicting questions huh? But they are so practical. Such great weapons to keep close at hand as we engage in battle with gossip. I encourage you to write these down, or memorize them and try to apply them to your life this week. They will reveal your tendency to gossip and make you more aware of how much you engage in gossip (whether on the talking or listening side).

There is one more thing to be said here though, something that gets misunderstood. The Bible does not teach that we should never talk about people who are not present, rather it warns us to be careful what we say. Of course we should praise other people when they are not with us, we should turn gossip around and spread good news about people instead! Another time it is appropriate is under “the biblical principle of warning others…parents, teachers, elders and pastors, even friends, teammates, coworkers and neighbors all have to do that sometimes.” The biblical principle of warning others is also touched on later in the book, so once I get there I will unpack that a little more on the blog as well.

Finally, sometimes when we are seeking wise counsel from people about our conflicts, struggles, and problems we may need to share shameful things that someone else has done without them being present. This is not sinful gossip if you are truly seeking out help. But there is a fine line here. Often times we are tempted to mask our desire to gossip by labeling it “seeking counsel.” This is the area in which I have felt the most confused about gossip.

Since I was in elementary school I have found that people gravitate towards me to confide in and seek out wisdom and counsel, a gift I know is from the Lord. I so enjoy being that for people, but I can remember countless times when I have felt as though I know information about someone that I shouldn’t know, information that has tainted my view of someone because of what was shared by someone else. I know many times I have felt like “I don’t know what I’m supposed to do with this information.” Most of it over the years I have held it inside because I haven’t wanted to share it, because people don’t confide in you so you can go tell other people. But it wears on you at times, it’s something you really have to ask The Lord to help with, to help you see people through grace-filled eyes. We must remember that we are only hearing one side of the story at times. I’ve come to find the antidote to this is finding and focusing on one good thing about the person you’ve heard shameful things about. And of course, we must remember that there are shameful things about us too. The ground is even at the cross.

As I seek counsel, as I struggle in my relationships with others, I have always tried to make an effort to talk more about what I am struggling with and my wrongs in the situation than focusing on the wrongs of the other person. Sometimes I fail, I fall into gossip disguised as “seeking counsel.” But the more I make a conscious effort to seek out what I need to work on in my relationships, the sin in my heart, the reasons why I feel hurt or angry or jealous toward someone else, the easier it is to seek wise counsel in a healthy way, a way that leads away from gossip instead of close to the line.

When I got married (and even when I was dating my husband), one thing I vowed to myself was I would always strive to only talk positively about my husband in public. I never want to be the reason someone’s view of my husband is tainted. But the thing is, I struggle in my relationship with my husband. There are conflicts, there are hard things, there are things that annoy me and things that hurt me, there are things that breed tension, there are things that I need to seek wise counsel on. And in these moments I make a sincere effort to focus on the struggle at hand more than the one I struggle with, I make a conscious effort to paint my husband in a positive light, even when I am sitting across from a friend or mentor seeking wise counsel. It’s not easy to keep that vow to only talk positively about my husband all the time, but that doesn’t mean I stop striving towards it. So should it be with any person.

One final note on this: It is important to choose wisely who we seek wise counsel from. Honestly, there are people in my life that I will never talk to about my struggles with my husband or other relationships I have. There are people of mine that I will never talk to about certain relational sin struggles I have. Why? Because I have found that with certain people it is easier for me to veer off the “seeking counsel” road and end up on the gossip trail. Or if someone has shared gossip to me, I know they will share it about me. Also we can get counsel from anyone, but not everyone will give wise counsel. As a rule of thumb, when a situation arises that we need wise counsel in, there are three things the person should posses: a fear of God (for the fear of God is the begging of wisdom and God is the giver of wisdom), the view that Scripture is supreme, and in most cases (if not all) you should seek wisdom from someone who has experience in the same situation you are seeking counsel on. As much as your single friend would like to give you marriage advice, there are just some situations they cannot speak into like a seasoned married person can. As much as they would love to seek wise counsel on how to handle a conflict with your boss, your atheist friend from high school cannot speak into your life about the Biblical principles of confronting conflict.

“They key to sharing circumstances with people in a right way is to keep loving others even when we have to talk about them and even if they are our enemies…simply put, we just need to apply Jesus’ Golden Rule to any difficult situation. If you have to talk about someone when they are not present, make sure that you are treating them as you would want to be treated.”


Join me next time as we touch on the final part of the definition of gossip… “out of a bad heart” and sift through why we gossip.

And as you go through this week, here’s some questions to reflect on:

-Why do you think it’s easier to talk about someone behind their back?

-How are you going to implement the questions Mitchell gives in your conversations to help you fight against gossip?

-Are you masking your want to gossip by labeling it “seeking wise counsel?” Who can you seek out when you need wise counsel who will keep you from veering to the gossip trail?

-Do you believe Jesus is better than gossip?

-Do you believe God is powerful enough to overcome gossip in your life?

As A New Week Dawns…

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When exciting things are happening in the lives of those around you, rejoice with those who rejoice. Send the card, buy the gift, go to the shin dig, make your presence the present. May you support them amidst the changes. May you remind them who the Giver is. 

When tragedy strikes in the lives around you, mourn with those who mourn. Send the card or encouraging text, buy the flowers, sacrifice the time, take the meal, keep your words but give your ear to their questions, give them the ministry of your presence. May you support them amidst the changes. May you remind them who the Comforter is.

Two extremely different seasons. Just like spring, summer, winter, fall, we all go through them all. Support today, be supported tomorrow.

A Thought for Your Thursday | When You Want Something Other

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You want to go out to dinner. They wish they had food in the fridge.

You want a house. They wish they could afford an apartment.

You want to retire. They want a raise.

You want a better job. They want a job, any job.

You don’t have enough money for vacation. They don’t have enough money to pay their bills.

You want to have children. They want to be married.

You don’t want children. They can’t have children.

You want what they have. They want what you have.

Have you ever stopped to think about how privileged you really are?

When you are caught up in the wanting, focused on the lacking rather than the having, have you ever stopped to think that someone else would GLADLY live the life you lead? They would love to swap seasons?

When you are caught up in jealousy, do you realize that you may be the object of someone else’s jealousy?

We all want something else, something other, something more. We feel the pull. We feel the discontentment swell.

So how do you fight it?

When comparison costs us joy let thankfulness drown discontentment.

Give thanks today for the things in your life. Name them out loud, big and small. Trump jealously by verbally giving thanks for the blessings in other people’s lives, even your “enemies” (how often do you do that?). Engulf envy before it has a chance to plant its roots in your heart.

Anchor yourself in the truth that Jesus is enough. He knows your needs. Where the ideal is lacking, His grace abounds. Cry out in your discontentment. He will stir your wanting for Him. For only He satisfies.

What About You Wednesday | Lindsay

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Today we welcome Lindsay to the blog. Let’s step into her season…

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What season of life are you currently in?

“The season of life that I’m in could be summed up in a couple of words: painful growth. I am coming up on two years of marriage, only a few months into my first “big girl” job, just recently bought a house, and am more comfortable in the material/circumstantial ways of life than ever before. But… I’ve been reminded that peace and contentment are so much more than these things. It’s been a neat reminder that no amount of success, love, or accomplishments can satisfy one’s heart.”

What is God teaching/revealing to you during this season?

“God is exposing the ugly and breaking my heart in the process. It’s so good, but man is it tough. I came into marriage with a ton of baggage, and I’m slowly sorting through it all. It sucks, if I’m being honest.”

How have you/are you changing during this season?

“As my ugly heart is exposed, I am then freed to walk in Grace. Knowing that, I feel like every day I have to make a choice. I have to choose selflessness and joy, in every aspect of my daily life. Saying that, I screw that up minute by minute, truly. But… I’m trying.”

What encouragement would you give someone in a similar season?

“Don’t give up. Don’t build up walls and let pride come in to make you believe that vulnerability and exposing your heart won’t be worth it. The more you open your heart to your spouse, family, friendships, co-workers, etc., the richer your relationships will become. Christ calls us to community for a reason. You can do it!”

A Prayer for Lindsay

Lord, You are good and You do good. Your glory is our good. Thank You for Lindsay. Thank You for being aware of her and with her in this season. Thank You for the way You have provided both earthly and eternal for her. As she transitions into a new house and a new job, show her how constant You are. Thank You for putting a longing in her that cannot be satisfied with earthly treasures. Continue to show her that only You satisfy. Thank You for seeing her as Your beloved, and not wanting anything unholy in her. Thank You for using marriage as an avenue to sanctify Lindsay. May she always remember that You are for marriage, that You are for her marriage. Continue to strengthen her marriage and help them to grow deeper in love with You so they can love each other better. Continue to tear down the walls she tries to put up by reassuring her that there is nothing she could hide that would separate her from Your love, so she has nothing to be afraid of. You see all, You know all, and Your grace covers all. May she take her sin seriously, repenting when needed and walking in the freedom of forgiveness. In Your Name, Amen.

Entering Dangerous Territory|Part Two

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A few weeks ago I invited you along on my journey into the dangerous territory of gossip. Since then, I have dove into a book I ordered and have found some answers to the questions I presented in my initial post. Today I start unpacking what I’ve discovered through my reading…

(Much of this is summarized or quoted from the book with a little of my own thoughts here and there).


“Gossip is something that we all experience. No one is safe from its tantalizing lure. No one is safe from its poisonous effects.” –Matthew Mitchell

If nobody is safe, then the battle is everyone’s.

Facebook. Twitter. Magazines. Conversations. Work. Home. School.

Proof that gossip is everywhere.

I’ve never heard a sermon on gossip, but I see it in the Bible, and I know it is wrong.

What is gossip? What makes it wrong?

I’m confused on what gossip is and what it is not, because it is hard to define.

If we are going to battle, we must first know our enemy.

In his book, “Resisting Gossip: Winning the War of the Wagging Tongue,” Matthew Mitchell offers a one-sentence summary of the Bible’s teaching on gossip:

“Sinful gossip is bearing bad news behind someone’s back out of a bad heart.”

Let’s take a look at the first part of the definition…

What is “bearing bad news”?

“…sharing, communicating and transmitting stories. These stories flow in both directions: talking and listening…It is often sharing someone else’s secret…It is a betrayal by talking…Sometimes just receiving that spicy piece of gossip without stopping the conversation (or, at least, saying something) is sinful—almost as sinful as speaking it.”

And what is considered to be “bad news”?

“The content of sinful gossip is never neutral.”

Mitchell groups bad news into three categories:

  • Bad information: Bad information is lies, things that are not true. And if we know they aren’t true and we keep on spreading them, we are no longer just gossiping but we are also slandering. Ever play the telephone game? One whispers something in someone’s ear and the information gets passed from person to person. When it reaches the final person they say the info out loud. Rarely does it make it all the way through intact. Somewhere along the line the information gets cloudy, twisted. So it is with gossip. Things get passed through the grapevine and false rumors get spread. “Bad” information can also be something that you think is true but really is not. You make a conclusion or infer something that is unverifiable and you pass it along, you gossip. The Bible promises that “a false witness will not go unpunished, and he who pours out lies will not go free” (Proverbs 19:5).

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  • Bad news about someone: This type of bad news is “shameful truth,” a true story about something bad someone has actually done. “Some of us have been taught that if something is true, then it’s not gossip. Not so. Gossip is also foolishly spreading that awful truth about someone.” You hear about something bad a friend has done, maybe even a friend told you about it himself. Lying to a spouse, lying to a friend, cheating on a test, cheating on a someone, smoking, getting wasted, stealing from work, premarital sex, a certain sin struggle they are walking through, and the list goes on. Newsflash! Just because you hear about it doesn’t mean you have to talk about it with someone else. Proverbs 11:13 says that “a gossip betrays a confidence, but a trustworthy man keeps a secret.” But that’s hard for us isn’t it? It is hard to resist. The Bible even says “the words of a gossip are like choice morsels,” or in other words the words of a gossip are like your favorite piece of food. And we all know it’s hard to resist our favorite foods. My mouth is even starting to water right now thinking about mine! But, like most of our favorite foods, “bad news is attractive but not good for us.” Gossip is hard to resist, but Jesus is better.
  • Bad news for someone: “A third kind of bad news is neither false nor true but is a projection of something bad happening to someone.” Ever heard or said these (or similar) lines?

“He’s going to lose his job.”

“He’s not going to make the team.”

“He’s going to fail the class.”

“She’s going to get kicked out of school.”

“Her husband is going to leave her.”

“They’re going to lose their house.”

“He’s going to break up with her.”

 Bottom line, these projections are all gossip.

So whether we are bearing bad information, bad news about someone, or bad news for someone, by either listening or talking, we are endanger of gossiping.


Join me next week as we look at the next part of the gossip definition…. “behind someone’s back…”

And as you go through this week, think about these questions:

-Are you usually on the talking or the listening side of gossip?

-Which category of gossip do you find yourself participating in most often?

-Do you believe Jesus is better than gossip?

-Do you believe God is powerful enough to overcome gossip in your life?

(Photo Cred)