Do You Murmur?

I know I sure do sometimes. There’s a whole host of things we might murmur about. The weather, our jobs, our bosses, our churches, our families, our neighbors, what’s on TV, poor service, money etc. I could go on and on.

Sometimes we murmur because it just seems normal. Everyone else is doing it. You stop at the grocery store and the conversations around you might be something like, hot enough/cold enough for you? Man, is it ever going to stop/start raining? Can you believe the price of groceries? Why do they never have enough registers open? You know how we can get caught up in those conversations.

I guess in today’s language we would say we complain. We grumble. We mutter, we gripe, we moan, we whine. Ever do that? Or is it just me?

What makes us do it? A critical spirit? Perhaps. Sometimes it’s because we are just plain ungrateful. Other times we may be caught up in a group of people who are griping and complaining. Co-workers or family members perhaps, one person starts complaining and everyone else has to join in with their complaints and opinions.

We are certainly not the first to gripe. The Bible has lots of examples of those who murmur. Yesterday I was reading in Exodus, about the Israelite’s murmuring and complaining to Moses because they had no water and no food. Seems like a legitimate complaint. How many of us would keep silent if we and our children were hungry and thirsty? Then I read Exodus 16:8: “Also Moses said, “This shall be seen when the Lord gives you meat to eat in the evening, and in the morning bread to the full; for the Lord hears your complaints which you make against Him. And what are we? Your complaints are not against us but against the Lord.”

Wow. That puts it in a different light. When we complain that things are not the way we want them, or we don’t have what we want, or feel we need, or should have, we are complaining against God. We are saying You have not provided for me well enough. You have not done the things that I want you to do. Like we somehow know better than God. I’m not sure. Perhaps it was the way the Israelite’s complained. They didn’t trust God to provide, even after all He had done for them. Instead of just asking Him for provision, they complained. 

One problem with complaining is we can drag others down into it with us. We want others to know what injustice has been done to us, so we murmur and complain. The problem is this can lead to gossip. And we know the Lord hates gossip. We can lead others to sin. Then they may go and share what you told them about this person or that situation and the gossip continues on. 

We can also be sowing discontent among others. We start complaining about our job or our family or our church, and those who never had a problem with those things all of sudden start seeing only faults. Now they are looking at people and situations in light of what we may have complained about, not the way they saw it before.

Proverbs 6 talks about the seven things the Lord hates, and one of them is one who sows discord among brethren. (Prov 6:19). Is that what we set out to do? Most of the time this was never our intent when we started complaining. We wanted sympathy, or understanding. Someone to agree with us. We were unhappy and we wanted others to know it. Our intent was not to sow discontent or to gossip. Yet it might have happened anyway.

That does not mean that sometimes we will not have legitimate complaints about situations. But instead of complaining to others around us, we need to take our complaint to the one its about, or to someone who can fix the problem. Sometimes, all we are supposed to do is pray about it and keep it to ourselves.

The Lord knows our weaknesses and He knows that sometimes we will be in situations that are unfair or unjust. And He knows that sometimes we will be unhappy about things in our lives. Instead of murmuring to others, we can go to Him as it says in Psalm 62:8: “Trust in Him at all times, you people; Pour out your heart before Him; God is a refuge for us. Selah”. 

We can trust God that if something needs to be worked out He will help us. Yet, there are also times the Lord has us in a particular place, or in a particular situation because He wants us to learn something. Or, He wants to work something out of us that is not pleasing to Him. As long as we continue to gripe and complain instead of trusting the Lord we will stay in the same place. And who wants that?

Thankfully, we don’t have to stay the way we are. We have God’s Word to renew our minds and change us. I love 2 Timothy 3:16-17: “ All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work. And Hebrews 4:12: “ For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.”

Let’s let the Word start doing it’s work in us today. 

phil 2

 

What’s That You Say?

I was thinking about my Mom yesterday and some of her crazy sayings. My mom had more sayings than Carter had liver pills. In fact she had more than you could shake a stick at! Lol. Suffice to say she had a bunch. Some she made up, but many of the sayings she used were probably as old as the hills.

It’s funny when I think about it, because although she died 13 years ago, when we her children and grandchildren get together we still laugh about it as we use many of those sayings and remember her. They have become part of our family history. Things that we say without even thinking about it.

Then I thought about some of the other types of sayings we all use, or have used probably during our lives. Things we also may say without even thinking. Just harmless sayings we may think. But are they?

What are we really doing when we say things like my feet (or any other body part) are killing me, or it, or you, or she or this situation is making me crazy.  Or any number of variations on that theme. What about when we make statements like oh, I get the flu every year and I know I’ll get it again this year. Or, all the men in my family died by such and such and age so I’m sure I will too. Our words have creative power. Are those the things we want to create?

Do you find yourself sometimes using sayings that were said to you as a child? Things that perhaps fostered a poverty mindset or a mindset of lack? Sayings like, money doesn’t grow on trees. Or, what, do you think we’re made of money? Our words are seeds. What kind of things would grow from seeds like that planted in a child? Not ones we would like to plant I think. 

Just look at the work we are saving the enemy if we are cursing ourselves and others with our words. He can just sit back and laugh and watch as we get what we speak. Just listen sometimes to the things people say without a thought in the world as to the power of their words.

We laugh and we joke about sayings and meme’s we see on Facebook about aging or relationships or any number of things. By laughing and saying to one another, that’s so true, are we coming into agreement with those things for our own lives? Before we pass it along do we think, is this something we really want to be true for our lives or our friends lives? 

So many verses in the Bible warn us about our words. Matthew 12:36 says “ But I say to you that for every idle word men may speak, they will give account of it in the day of judgment.” Or Colossians 3:8 ” But now you yourselves are to put off all these: anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy language out of your mouth.” Something to think about. We may not always think much about the way we speak but it is important to the Lord. 

What about the words we use to speak about others? The things that we may call the driver that cut in front of us in traffic, or the things we say about politicians or people in the public eye with whom we disagree? Just because they aren’t there does that give us the right to say what we want about them? Will we want to give an account of those words one day?

What about when we hear parents say things to their children like, you’re a slob or you’ll never amount to much. You’re going to end up in jail one day. He/she is just like their father/mother (and not in a good way). What kind of seeds are being planted in those situations? Then when these children get older and become what was spoken over them the parents wonder what could have happened to cause such a thing. 

No wonder James had this to say about the tongue, “But no man can tame the tongue. It is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison.  With it we bless our God and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in the similitude of God.  Out of the same mouth proceed blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be so.” James 3:8-10.

I was reading someone else’s blog recently about words. He said he was in his car one day and someone near him almost caused an accident. He was alone in the car and called the person an idiot. He figured it was no big deal as no one was there to hear him. But the Lord did. He said immediately he felt the Lord say to him in his spirit “I have created no one—no human being—by that description”. Yikes.

How easily we sometimes make those offhand comments about another person. We forget that the Lord created them also and He loves them. When I think of the things I may have said about others in the past it makes me cringe. I’m so thankful that when we do say something we realize we shouldn’t have, we can go to the Lord and repent and He will forgive us.

He can also help us in our battle to watch what we say. We can ask Him daily to do what Psalm 141:3 says. “Set a guard, O Lord, over my mouth; Keep watch over the door of my lips.” Or Psalm 19:14 “Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart Be acceptable in Your sight, O Lord, my strength and my Redeemer.

I have also found it helpful to give my family and close friends permission to point out to me anytime I am speaking a curse over my life or over anyone else. To be held accountable. 

The Lord warns us so many times about our words because He knows what can come of us speaking things we shouldn’t. He wants us to be sowing good with the words of our mouths so we can blessed. Proverbs 18:21 “Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruits.”

We have the choice of what to speak. May we learn to think before we speak and speak only that which is good and true. Its tough sometimes I know. After all, old habits die hard. For those who may say you can’t teach an old dog new tricks, the good news is, that only applies to dogs! 

 

 

 

Idols

Often when we hear the word idol we think of statues that are worshiped by other cultures, or altars dedicated to false gods. While those things may be true, those are not the only things that can be idols.

I have been taught that an idol is anything that we put ahead of God. Something that we spend more time doing or thinking about, something we treat with more value. It could be different for everyone. For some it might be endlessly watching their favorite sport or just watching TV. Pornography. Video games, Facebook, shopping, junk food etc. Our relationships could become our idols. Maybe our relationship with a spouse or significant other, or family members. People pleasing can be a big idol in our lives.

Though some of those things are always bad, most of those things are not bad on their own. But anything we magnify ahead of God can become idols in our lives. In the 1913 version of Webster’s dictionary one of the definitions of an idol is “That on which the affections are strongly (often excessively) set; an object of passionate devotion; a person or thing greatly loved or adored.”

I believe that if we are constantly thinking (worrying) about a situation whether it may be family relationships or jobs or finances or what have you, it can be setting those things up as an idol in your life. I know there have been times, even recently, that I have done this in my own life. If we are constantly worrying about a situation are we not magnifying that problem above God? As if it’s greater than God?

When we are in that situation, where we are constantly worrying, we are in essence fearing that this problem is something that the Lord cannot possibly work out. We fear things will never change. Maybe we entertain all kinds of scenarios in our heads as to what we think will happen, or we think things we should not be thinking, instead of taking our thoughts captive to the obedience of Christ.

The Word says in 1 John 4:18: “There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love.” 

It is not that the Lord doesn’t want us to enjoy our lives, nothing could be further from the truth. John 10:10 tells us “The thief comes only in order to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have and enjoy life, and have it in abundance [to the full, till it overflows].” Yes, He wants us to have abundant life but God wants to be first in our hearts and lives not just an afterthought. 

Those other things that we put ahead of God and seek after are not really what our soul is desiring. The Lord made us so we would seek Him. He longs to have us fellowship with Him. Acts 17:27: “ for in Him we live and move and have our being, as also some of your own poets have said, ‘For we are also His offspring.” How then could anything else take that place in our lives?

Why is it that we hold so tightly to some of those other things? For some, perhaps they don’t know the Lord or the value of a personal relationship with Him and with Jesus. Or perhaps they think there’s no rush, they want to enjoy their lives now and wait and turn to the Lord before they die (bad idea by the way). For others of us could it sometimes be fear again? Fear that if we don’t have enough wealth or power or fame or popularity or love, then maybe there’s something wrong with us and maybe we are just not good enough?

What we fail to realize is that the one thing that we are made for and the thing that would give us the most joy, putting God first, is the thing we sometimes think of last, if we think of it at all. 

When we listen to the lies of the enemy, or the flesh that tell us we don’t have time to seek God, or, God doesn’t mind if I just keep Him in His little box so He doesn’t really affect my life, we are being stolen from. Robbed of a relationship with the one true God, robbed of the peace and the joy that that would bring to our lives. Robbed of the happiness we could have following the path He has for us, instead of the one we may think will bring us happiness. 

john-3-16

Is there anything in our lives more important than that?

Memorial Day

This day in the United States is set aside as a day to remember those who gave the ultimate sacrifice in service to their country. To those who never came home, or came home in a flag draped box. Many died on foreign soil miles and lifetimes away from their loved ones. Let us remember them today with deep gratitude and honor. And gratitude to their families who had to learn to live their lives without those who were lost.

When I was growing up our town always had a Memorial Day parade, as did most of the towns around us. It was a small town at the time, so it was not a long elaborate affair, but it held much meaning to me and I’m sure to many others. I was a scout for most of those years as were my siblings, so usually at least some of us were participating.

It started early in the morning.  As we were getting ready we could hear the rifles being fired. I never saw the Honor guard but could hear them as they moved to different cemeteries and war memorials around town. The parade route wound through downtown as we stopped at a couple of memorials where speeches were read, prayers were prayed and the Pledge of Allegiance was recited.

The last stop was the town cemetery for more speeches and prayers and then the roll call, where  the names of veterans in the town who had died during the previous year were read. It was a time where people gave of their time on a day off to come and pay respects to those who had died. To acknowledge the part they had played in our freedom. John 15:13: “ Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.”

Those times growing up instilled in me patriotism and deep love for my country. I am still moved to tears when I hear Taps or patriotic songs or see flags proudly waving. The town where my children grew up had many of the same traditions. I hope it helped instill in them some of the same things.

I wonder, are the children of today being taught the same things? I’m sure there are many small towns that still do these things. And I’m sure children who have parents who either serve in the military or have served have a much greater understanding of what these things mean than most of us.

I think if we don’t teach our children these things we are doing them a great disservice. They need to know that a price was paid for them to enjoy the life they have now in this country. As the old saying goes “freedom is not free”. How can we teach children to be grateful if they don’t learn what freedom and sacrifice really means?

It saddens me deeply to see so many teaching children only to hate this country and complain about all that they think is wrong with America. Yes, we have our problems but you don’t see people in boats trying to escape from America do we?

America is still the land of the free and the home of the brave. It will remain that way as long as we have those brave men and women who stand up to protect that freedom. For no other reason than love for their country. Those who will answer the call to stand against forces threatening their land. 

There are some who prophesy doom, gloom and the total destruction of America. I disagree. Yes, we may have some challenges ahead but this is one nation under God. God has His hand on this nation and His purposes and plans for America WILL be fulfilled whether you like it or not.

As a citizen our job is to pray for this country and to do our part to keep it the free nation that it is. Yet there are those who do nothing besides spew hatred towards America and teach their children that America is evil. And those who try to turn this into a country it was never meant to be. Perhaps they need to remember that the only reason they can get on Facebook and rant, or to cause unrest is because of those who died so you could have that right. And those who even this day or this week are fighting for their country. To those people perhaps we could just say there’s the door. Go find that perfect utopia that you think is out there. I dare say we won’t even miss you.

God Bless America!

download (2)

 

Choices

” I call heaven and earth as witnesses today against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants may live; Deuteronomy 30:19.

We have many choices set before us every day.  Sometimes the choices we make can have great consequences in our lives.  Things like choosing to go somewhere we know we shouldn’t, or doing something we know we shouldn’t would be obvious ones.  Yet, even the smallest choices can have consequences. We need to make our choices wisely.

The Bible says the joy of the Lord is our strength.  Do we purposely choose joy?  Even when things don’t seem joyful?  Do we choose to believe that if God is for us who can be against us? Do we choose to be thankful?  Thankful for things we may take for granted, that many in the world do not have.  Food to eat, a roof over our head, people who love us, and even just the fact that we got up this morning, and we are still breathing.

Do we carefully choose the words we speak? Do we speak only blessings over our lives and not curses?  And what about the things we choose to think about?  If the thoughts we are thinking aren’t good thoughts, and they make us feel angry or sad or bad about ourselves, then we know they are not from the Lord. Do we choose to keep thinking them anyway?

To me and I’m sure to many others that is one of the greatest battles.  We can listen to those negative thoughts and before we know it we are meditating on them and feeling bad. If we realize we are thinking on the wrong things we can instead choose to do what the Bible says, and take those thoughts captive to the obedience of Christ.  Then we can replace those negative thoughts with the Word instead. 

God’s thoughts about us are always good. As Jeremiah 29:11 says “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lordthoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.” Thankfully, He does not think the same way we think. Isaiah 55: 8-9: ““For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways,” says the Lord “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways, And My thoughts than your thoughts.

How different would our day be if when we get up in the morning, we first thank the Lord that we are alive, then we choose life, choose joy, choose to only speak and think on good things. Choose to believe the best of people and to treat them as though they had done us no wrong.

What if instead of watching the news and mediating on what the media says and wringing our hands over it,  we choose to pray about it instead? And mostly, how about if we choose faith. If we just choose to believe that no matter what we see going on around us with our natural eyes, we focus on the Lord instead and know that He has His hand on us. Choose to focus on His promises instead of our problems.

For those who know the Lord and love Him, he has given us this promise from Romans 8:28: “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God to those who are the called according to His purpose.” Amen. We can choose to believe that.

joshua

Memories

Memories are a powerful thing aren’t they? It’s funny how we can be going along, minding our own business and then we see something, or smell something or hear something and memories  sometimes come rushing in. Good or bad I guess.

I had that happen the other day.  I was at a local farm looking at some flowers.  They happened to have one of my all time favorite garden flowers. Cosmos, for those of you flower lovers out there who were wondering. There’s just something about them, so tall and graceful and cheerful. They make me happy.

In the house where we raised our kids, I used to plant them every year right outside the back door. Every time I went in or out I looked at them. It wasn’t so much the memories of growing the flowers that hit me that day. I have grown them, or tried to, in my current house and the one before this. They never seem to grow the same as they did at that old house.

No it wasn’t the flowers it was the memories of summers gone by that hit me that day. Warm days when all our family was still under the same roof. We had a pool at that house so, as you can imagine, we spent lots of time out there with the kids. I have such fond memories of times with friends, neighbors and loved ones on those summer days. Some of those loved ones are no longer with us. All we have left is memories.

Good memories can be wonderful things to have and to pull out and remember from time to time. Perhaps memories of vacations or times when your kids were small or yes, memories of those who have gone on. Its especially good to remember things the Lord has done for us in our lives.  His goodness to us. His love.

Memories can be wonderful. But if we start comparing them to our current lives and being more content to live in the past, or think the past was so much better then it can be a problem.

The thing about memories is that they’re selective. We don’t always remember the bad with the good or the good that was there with the bad. That’s why the past is someplace we are only supposed to visit from time to time. Not stake our tent pegs and live there. We can never re-create the past the way we remember it. And living in the past takes away from our present and our future.

Whatever is going on at this time in our lives will someday be tomorrow’s memories. It only makes sense then that we should spend more time thinking about what’s going on today than what happened last week, or last year or a lifetime ago. And why is it we sometimes continually beat ourselves up over mistakes we may have made in the past instead of moving past them, and forgiving ourselves?

The Apostle Paul had his priorities in line. If anyone had things in their past to beat themselves up over, it was Paul. In Philippians 3:12-14 he said: Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me.  Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead,  I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

He hadn’t forgotten any of the wrong that he had done. But he knew he was forgiven and he knew he had things to do that the Lord had called him to do. Imagine if he had spent all his time living in the past instead of in doing what he was called to do. We wouldn’t have much of the New Testament today. 

I think his is a pretty good example to follow. I believe I will cherish my good memories and think on them from time to time. The bad memories I will choose to forget and leave behind, while I reach forward to those things which are ahead. We all have things the Lord has called us to do. Like the old saying goes “your eyes are in the front of your head for a reason”. We can’t see where we’re going if we keep looking behind us.

Oh, and in case you were wondering. I did buy some Cosmos. Like I said they make me happy. And maybe this will be the year that they will really grow!woman-cosmos-flower-field-mountain-background-36938067

 

 

 

Embrace Change

One thing we know.  Change is inevitable. No matter how hard we might try to keep things the way they are; it’s not gonna happen.  Things are constantly changing.  

Are you one of those people who thrive on change? Or, is not your favorite thing, like many people?  However you may feel about change, it still happens. We get so dependent sometimes on our little comfort zones. Even though things may not be the way we would like them to be, at least we are used to the way they are, and somehow that sameness gives us comfort.

What is it about change that can be so scary sometimes? Often the very things we have been praying about, are the things that frighten us the most when we get our answer. Because although we might have wanted that particular change, all of a sudden, we are headed into uncharted waters and we’re not sure what to do about it. Situations have changed and we have to change with it and adapt. We don’t always like that. Well, at least some of us don’t.

I have come to realize something. If we want God to answer our prayers, we have to be willing to let Him answer them in His way….and often that involves change.

We might occasionally have changes that go quickly and smoothly. We think, wow God, thanks, that was awesome! Make sure you enjoy those times! I would say more often than not, because change is a growth experience, where perhaps we have things to learn, it may not always be smooth. Many times change comes about through turmoil, much prayer and learning to trust God in the situation. 

We were never meant to stay stagnant and never change or grow. We can hold so tight to the way things are sometimes, that we don’t see the possibilities of the new. Those changes that may have frightened us most are often the very ones that we need, and they end up being a blessing.

When we are in the midst of a big change in our lives its hard to see the big picture.  Usually its not till sometime later when we look back, we can see how it was all part of God’s plan. Then we can see how the different pieces and threads of the situation were woven together for our good. When you are stepping out in faith to make a change, its that first step that’s usually the most difficult. If you know that change is from God, take the step anyway, even if it frightens you.

 Trust God. He will never leave you nor forsake you. Who knows? It just might end up being one of the best things that ever happened to you! Embrace the change. It may be a marvelous opportunity that the Lord has planned just for you.  If you find yourself starting to panic, calm yourself by meditating on some scriptures about not being afraid. Who knows?  Maybe one day you will find yourself excited by change and bored by the same old same old!

Romans 8-28 All Things Work Together For Good beige

 

I