THE STANDARD OF MEASURE BY WHICH WE APPEAR TO BE HOLY (WOW! Write.On.Wednesday! @ 2 min. to read)

Justification is proving oneself to be right or reasonable; pronouncing oneself free from guilt and blame (thank you, Mr. Webster) but I also heard it defined as “the standard of measure by which we appear to be holy.” It’s not a direct quote, but it’s my paraphrase as I heard it from Charles Stanley and quickly wrote down (as best as I could) a few weeks ago.

I’ve been mulling over that thought for weeks now. I love it. I hate it. It’s true.

Each of us, no matter what we do, whether it’s…

  • Positive
  • Negative
  • Helpful
  • Sinful
  • Enabling
  • Kind
  • Mean-spirited
  • Making a point
  • Sharing our “view”
  • In a relationship
  • Out of a relationship
  • __________

…..we will justify it to fit our needs, make us look better, and ultimately tell ourselves (as we try to convince others and God) that we are holy and really OK!

Isn’t it so true? Let’s look at a few fast examples:

  • People in bad relationships find all kinds of ways to make it right, make it sound right, make it look right….even though it looks, feels, and is wrong. (Everyone else can see it.)
  •  Parents not disciplining their typically able and developing children have every excuse for why they don’t deal with the misbehavior: my child is fussy, they’re tired, they’re having a bad day, we’re waiting for the diagnosis, I’m tired, I’ve had it, etc. (Everyone knows you’re just not doing what you know you should.)
  •  Choose one that applies: lying, cheating, stealing, manipulating, enabling, committing adultery, slandering, gossiping, etc. We all put our own “spin” on why it’s right, OK, and sensible….and it’s usually due to the “other” person who’s made me do it – often because we feel our own needs aren’t being met fully and properly.(Watch carefully as brows furrow and eyebrows rise. It’s their look of utter shock as we think we’ve fooled them!)

AND….we all do it. Catch yourself. Then let’s be honest with our self and instead of justifying our actions, sins, mistakes, preferences, comforts, demands, etc. – own up to what is true, right and honorable. It would change us, our families, and our culture. It would mean we’re taking life and our self seriously. Dare we?

Is it ALL ABOUT YOU!? (WOW! Write.On.Wednesday! takes < 3 minutes to read)

IT’S ALL ABOUT ME!

We all know the saying and perhaps have even said it, “It’s all about me.” We use it sometimes in jest, but often there is a hint of truth to it. Sometimes we wish people would say it because in our minds, that’s exactly what we’re thinking about them. The person who is constantly and consistently self centered, selfish, and concentrating only on what they want and need, when there is not the reason for it – like illness or special needs – begins to wear on others and sometimes others isolate and alienate them. The taker, the “all about me person” sucks life out of life.

God clearly teaches in scripture the need for all of us to give rather than receive. Acts 20:35 “….and remember the words of the Lord Jesus. That He Himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’” Many of us have wandered from what He has taught – wanting our own comfort, our own way, and to have life be “all about me.”

Over the past few days I’ve had the privilege to have this time all alone. All to myself. Yes….it will be a total of  4.5 days of “it’s all about me.” I’m not used to that. I’m used to being sure our son with special needs has his medications, rides (from Joe and I and sometimes a friend or my sister) to and from work (yes, 13,000 miles a year!), helping Joey with his showering and other personal needs, and the list goes on. So this time away for me is a rare, wonderful, and MUCH APPRECIATED time away.

I’ve met with several friends over coffee, seltzer water, lunch, breakfast, and poolside who have (with their questions to and about me, the family, etc. and with their encouraging and kind words) breathed LIFE into me. I hope I have done the same for them. I love hearing about what they are doing, how they and their family (immediate and extended) are doing, etc. I feel it’s been a real GIVE and TAKE. It’s so refreshing!

Because of the ministry Joe and I enjoy (helping others in their walk with the Lord, their marriage, their ministry, their challenges) there are times when I long for someone to ask me about me and breathe life into me. THIS has been that for me.

I’m thankful for a husband who was willing to “let me stay” in FL after our 4th weekend in 5 of ministry (speaking to @ 2,500 people and taking one on one time with many of them to hear their stories), for family and friends (my sister Sue, and Mark and Lisa helping provide rides for Joey to and from work!), and to the Lord for these wonderful people in our lives….who breathe life into us!

After this time of total refreshing I look forward to being home to hug my daughter who’ll turn 30 on Friday, because while I’d love to stay here in the warmth longer, I wouldn’t miss wishing my LITTLE GIRL a happy birthday! I also wouldn’t want to miss sharing EASTER with my family…celebrating the One who has shown us the REAL GIVE AND TAKE in life, and that it’s really ALL ABOUT HIM and what He has done for us. I’ve seen His goodness in action in my family and friends, and I’m thankful.

I hope you’ll contemplate the Lord….taking a moment to make it ALL ABOUT YOU getting to know ALL about Him. You’ll enjoy Easter in a wonderful new way and your life will be transformed as you learn ALL about Him and how to serve Him. I’ll be sipping my Cafe’ for a few more moments alone while I pray for those reading this, because this moment right now is ALL ABOUT YOU!

Happy Easter!

My HAPPY PLACE: Is it Really ALL about SUCCESS? (WOW! Write.On.Wedndesday! Reading time:< 1 minute)

 

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A young friend of mine (and my friends are getting younger all the time!) posed this question to me, “What does success mean to you?”
Since I’ve thought about that a bit, my answer came quickly:

Success to me is:

• Significance….investing in others as others have invested in me and with integrity from them to me and me to others.
• Also (and most importantly) not WHO I am but WHOSE I am.
• Meaningless if what I do is just for myself, my own goals, my own direction, my own anything. I need to intentionally invest in others because of what the LORD has done for me. I want other to know HIM.
• Not doing just what is comfortable, easy, and fun, but what is RIGHT.
• Not necessarily in this order….

I know for each of us it will look differently, but selfish ambition and success are oxymoron’s to me. You can make it “up the ladder of success” and even make money and all sorts of other things, but without knowing and serving the Lord “in” what we’re doing….there would be little value in it all.

Perhaps the most fun thing for any of us is when we realize that no one really cares about us, or our worldly successes, and thus it’s much easier to just serve the Lord with complete faithfulness. A great “place” to be. I call it my “happy place”!

 

 

“I’m Struggling” (WOW! Write.On.Wednesday! Reading time: < 2 minutes)

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“I’m STRUGGLING!”

When do YOU hear those words? When do you say them; and what do you mean when you say, “I’m struggling?”

I’ve been observing in myself and in others I/we mentor or talk with and it seems that often (while it can be a simple and minor decision to be made) it can also be a pretty sure case of SIN….

  • “I’m struggling in a relationship.”
  • “I’m struggling at school.”
  • “I’m struggling to make a decision.”
  • “I’m struggling…..”

Take some time to take it back to the root…and see if it’s just a “dilemma” or if it’s a SIN that you aren’t dealing with that has you in a place of “STRUGGLING” ~

STRUGGLING defined:

  • To make strenuous effort against opposition
  • To proceed with difficulty or with great effort
  • Endeavor
  • Attempt
  • Try
  • Contest
  • Strife

Does this sound like it fits the situation in which you’re struggling? Can you trace it back to a simple decision or dilemma or is it sin related? If it’s a dilemma, then seeking counsel, praying through the process of decision making, asking for help, and taking some positive steps forward in the decision making process is a relatively easy (even if the issue is a challenge) process.

HOWEVER, if it’s SIN….get on your knees and ask the Lord to forgive you, ask the person(s) involved to forgive you, and STOP DOING THE SIN. If you’re not willing to stop, you’ll continue to struggle, and after a while, people really aren’t going to want to hear about it.

Phonies keep failing. The “real deal” deals with it. I hope each of us will make the right choice.

Still struggling?

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LOVE YOUR EMEMIES – WOW! (Write On Wednesdays) (reading time: 2 minutes)

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“But I tell you who hear me; love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, Bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.” Luke 6:27-28

Do you relate at all to this verse?  Do any of the following apply to you?

  •  I have a co-worker that is confrontational with me.
  •  I have a neighbor that is always angry with me.
  •  I have a family member that criticizes me even when I do good.
  •  I have a person that I thought was my friend who is very nasty to me.
  • I have a friend that betrayed me with lies, gossip, and slander.

I remember someone sharing at a conference, “1/3 of the people you’ll meet will love you. 1/3 of the people you’ll meet won’t like you at all. 1/3 of the people you meet could care less about you. So why do we work to please the 2/3?”

We probably all have someone who’s upset with us or perhaps even hates us. How we treat that 2/3, however, is very important! Do we react to them or respond to them? The Bible gives us a clear way to respond and that is to (continue) to do good to those who hate you.

Often the best response is to pray for those that mistrust and even hate us.  We can practice ways to bless others without being doormats that “ask” for mistreatment, by responding to mistreatment that shows God is in control. He can help us to show love even though it’s so difficult to do so. We can ask Him to help us obey Roman 12:21 “Don’t be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”

Someone probably came to your mind – if you’re still struggling with a particular person, what will you do to begin to start responding properly?

 

“NOTHING BUT NET” – WOW! WRITE.ON.WEDNESDAY! (reading time: 2.5 minutes)

“NOTHING BUT NET!”

With March Madness at our doorstep and on many TV screens, I thought I’d consider what I like most about watching the playoffs. It’s not the brackets, though I make sure I find one so Joe and Joey can have fun filling it out! It’s not the hours these games will be played, although we love the excitement and fun they provide! I do love, however, when a player scores with “Nothing but Net!”

What that means is the player shoots the ball into the hoop without the ball touching the rim or backboard….touching only the net! It’s a clean “swish” basket that the player just made. When you see it, it’s quite remarkable. It’s even more special and remarkable when it’s a 3-pointer! AND what’s even BETTER? When the buzzer goes off, while the ball is in play for a 3 pointer, and it’s NOTHING BUT NET and it’s the winning score! You HAVE to get excited about that one!

We’d all like for  life to be like this – all the time: being at the top of our game, making every point count, and moving at lightning speed in a forward motion…and all is good; all is going our way!  Life is on our side!

Real life isn’t like that. We find ourselves panting – just trying to run the court and hang on to the ball; not always happy for the advancements of others….forget making points – we just don’t want our opponents to grab the ball, run, and score! We want to win, making those exciting 3 pointers with “nothing but net” – but perhaps we’re not meant to!

In real life, in the madness of the moment when life gets crazy, just like on the court, we have to play as a team (in marriage, work, and ministry related settings, on committees, and in families).

 We have to be OK with others:

  • Getting the swisher while we might be sitting the bench
  •  Achieving their best, sometimes putting ourselves out of the game for the betterment of the whole
  •  Needing the cold cup of water only we can serve even though we’d rather be playing
  •  Being in the limelight while we cheer them on to victory
  •  Winning the title

Each of these actions is a part of the whole team experience and each fills a spot. Using our gifts and talents to the very best of our God-given abilities makes it all work together. You’ll never find me on the basketball court, but you will find me cheering my family and friends on to victory in whatever they’re doing….even if I have to sit the bench to do so. I won’t be making any 3 pointers, but some meals I’ve made for others have gotten applause when their day just couldn’t have handled another moment to make their family a meal. And I’ve had others serve me or stick up for me at just the right time….even as the buzzer is sounding and I think there is no win  in sight.

And in some small way, I think all those things count for “nothing but net” in caring for someone else in the court of life.

Ban “BOSSY”? (WOW!=Write.On.Wednesday!)

While listening to the “oldies” station bringing my son home from work, I heard the PSA (I think that’s what they’re calling it) about banning the word bossy. I looked up the link and provide it for you (http://banbossy.com/) if you want to check it out. They’re saying they are “encouraging girls to lead,” but I think it goes a little deeper than that. I’ll let you make your own decision as to whether or not you’ll embrace it, as will I make that determination for myself, but I think I’d like to ban other things that might help society in a deeper and more meaningful way and actually accomplish what I think are they trying to accomplish in the long run.

For starters:

Let’s ban the term retard. Let’s ban it in our speech because it’s really making fun of others and ourselves at the expense of those who are simple and lovely. I have a son who is simple and lovely (cerebral palsy, epilepsy, slow of speech, low verbal skills, needs full time care, etc.) and he has taught me more than any professor I ever had in college, any pastor from whom I listened and learned, any friend who gave advice, yep – he’s taught me more than most anyone.

Let’s ban divorce.  I think our kids might be less messed up and struggling if we stopped being selfish and sinful wanting to pursue our own lusts and lives. We need to grow up and take on the responsibility for that which we vowed – even if it means (and it will) that we have to be the first to make changes to our life to get it on track. (I know there are exceptions…we work with marriages and some sadly aren’t able to be saved because of rebellion, self-centeredness, self-destruction, selfishness…I could go on. I get it….there are expections.)

Let’s ban words that hurt others – whether it’s a particular group being targeted or a person we’re aiming to put down. We need to treat others with gentleness and respect…and kindness. Who wants to go first?

Let’s ban hate – and actually treat others the way we’d want to be treated. And any crime is a hate crime. (Play it out and you’ll see.) Enough said.

Let’s ban sin – I know we all sin. But when we realize it and confess it to the person we offended or wounded, and to God – letting Him know we were wrong; we can get back on track. (I know it hurts to say that…but let’s grow up and take responsibility!)Are you as tired as I am with those who call themselves Christians, and in the name of Christ make demands that are ungodly, hurt others on purpose, are dishonest, lying, cheating (on taxes, in the grocery store, on their spouse) and whatever else they think they can justify? And they/we do justify the sins we’re committing. It usually shows itself as “blame.” Just listen carefully when you hear it.

What is wrong with all of us these days? We’re majoring on the minors. Let’s get back in the game and get busy with what matters.

What word matters to you that would you like to ban?

I DON’T FEEL LIKE IT! (WOW! Write.On.Wednesday.)

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Sometimes I don’t feel like doing a lot of different things, like making dinner, doing laundry, talking to someone on the phone, or a multitude of things that simply must get done. I often have to muster up the energy and say to myself, “JUST DO IT!”

Prayer, though not one of my household duties, is equally as difficult sometimes. It’s a spiritual duty and discipline and I know the importance of it because I’ve seen answers and results of prayer. For that reason, I must pray even when I don’t feel like it. It is a discipline as much my household chores are but so much more valuable and important.

Oswald Chambers said, “Prayer is not preparation for the work, it is the work.” (His Utmost for My Highest) Prayer is often the last resort but should be the first thought. Prayer is where our decisions are made and our “next steps” determined. Prayer is where we seek the Lord for approval and direction regardless of our own plans.

The quiet closet of prayer is where ministry leaders are lifted up, where families are embraced and cared for and where our connections to the Creator are made. All that the Lord gives us to do….needs prayer support. May we see prayer as the WORK – not just the preparation for the work….and then do it – whether we feel like it or not!

USE US ‘TIL WE’RE USED UP – WOW! (Write.On.Wednesday)

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Turning 60 didn’t hurt at all. Joe went first last April and it happened quietly for me at the beginning of the month as life continued moving at that pace we’ve become accustomed to:

  • FUN – with family and friends
  • FAST – the pace of living and loving life
  • FAITHFUL – to His call on this life

We enjoyed very special celebrations: a few dinners with friends, pizza with the kids and grandkids, and a day date with just Joe that was uniquely special.

Each celebration was perfect in every way.

Each celebration begged the conversation, “It’s amazing how little time we really have left in this life.” Isn’t that CHEERFUL!?

Other conversations made their way to the “old age” or “we’re really not that old, are we?” or when looking across the room at an older person, asking, “Do we look that old?” comments. Well, folks, the answer to both is “yes”! Some might look better for their age than others, but whether we’re 40, 50, 60 or older, we look our decade. We can’t hide it!

Some might choose to stay at some “golden” age where strength, stamina, decent looks prevailed, but while aging makes some changes, aging can be cheerful! Joe and I have asked ourselves, “How are we doing at this age with the time He’s given us and how will we use the time that’s left? We want Him to use us ’til we’re used up!”

Ecclesiastes 5:20 is clear that we won’t even worry about our age if we’re doing what He has asked of us! We’ll be so busy doing His will we won’t even think about how old we are because we’ll be happy doing it! It says, “For he will not often consider (remember) the years of his life because God keeps him occupied with the gladness of his heart.” How cool is that?

Ecclesiastes 11:4, “He who watches the wind will not sow and he who looks at the clouds will not reap.” I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to be found sitting around waiting for life to happen. I want to be busy, rest when needed, and get busy again because He has me here for a reason. So, I’ll leave you with two closing thoughts:

1-     I haven’t said my age out loud yet….turning “it” didn’t hurt, saying it might!

2-     I’ve gotta get going…..I have some work to do!

WE ARE ALL ONE STEP FROM A BAD DECISION (WOW! Write.On.Wednesday. Takes 4 minutes.)

It’s not stretch to see that EACH OF US are but one step from a bad decision. It’s amazing, but many of us justify a wrong and bad decision simply because we:

  • Feel we’ve been wronged
  • Want to get even with someone
  • Choose to retaliate because we “didn’t get our way”
  • Aren’t happy
  • Want something “better” or “more” and we don’t care who it hurts
  • (_________________________)

The reality is this: we make decisions all day long. Some will be frivolous decisions that really don’t make a huge difference, right?

  • What should I wear today?
  • Where will I go to lunch?
  • Who will I hang out with later?

Wrong!

Our every decision makes a difference because we are always inching our way to that fine line between what (I used to tell my children) is FUN vs. FOOLISH, and RIGHT vs. WRONG. So what’s the problem you ask? The problem is we sometimes just don’t know when we cross that line. For instance:

  • It doesn’t matter what we wear….unless we’re wearing it “for” someone to notice us, or if we’re calling attention to something we shouldn’t call attention to. That one decision can make or break the next choice we’ll need to make….
  • It doesn’t matter where we go to lunch, unless we’re meeting with whom we shouldn’t.
  • It doesn’t matter with whom we’re hanging out…but if they’re a bad vs. good influence it will certainly matter! If it’s the kid who point us to trouble, the man or woman unhappy in their marriage and looking for something new and different – looking to us to fulfill a need (emotional or otherwise), or a friend who doesn’t have the guts to call us out when we’re sinning….we might not have the right influences to help vs. hinder or hurt us.

These are all stepping over that gray line into the wrong and the foolish. We are often already heading in the wrong direction when these little decisions are made. Each decision, each step we take leads us somewhere. We don’t always think ahead to where “somewhere” is. Sometimes we think if we’ve made a wrong decision there’s no turning back, but that’s wrongful thinking, too.

Why do we do that? Why do we take these steps knowing that we’re wrong, knowing that we’re hurting others and God? Perhaps because we’re:

  • Afraid we won’t be liked.
  • Thinking we need to be politically correct.
  • Wanting to be happy and think this will fill that void.
  • Unable and don’t know how to stop.

As I see it: WE.ALL.NEED.TO.GROW.UP.

God will not be mocked. “Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap.” We can’t plant apples and expected oranges.

If we dress a certain way…we can expect others to treat us a certain way (play out various scenarios in your mind.)

If we meet with others we shouldn’t, we can expect that it isn’t going to turn out positively.

When we take over when God should be at the helm, steering us in the right direction, we simply can’t expect all good, warm fuzzy, happy, positive things to happen. There will be consequences. God will not be mocked.

The bible says, “Like a dog that returns to its vomit, is a fool who repeats his folly.” (Proverbs 26:11) If that somehow makes us think about the wrong decisions we’re making (and it should!) we can go to the book of Proverbs in the Bible – studying and underlining the words foolish, wicked, folly, and then follow it up with the words wisdom, counselor, and good. HOWEVER, we’ll only look up these words when we’re:

  • Willing to stop mocking God.
  • Serious about dealing with our sin.
  • Ready to ask Him for forgiveness and make things right.
  • Desiring to make restitution for our sin.
  • Wanting to make relationships right again, that we ruined (or are in the process of ruining).

We can play out many scenarios in our minds as to how we got to where we are: adultery, lying, cheating, drugs, addictions, pornography, gossiping, hateful actions, murder, (fill in the blank).

No one can make us make a good decision; that’s the choice we individually have to make…and it looks like we have that opportunity right now as WE ARE ONE STEP FROM A BAD DECISION. None of us are exempt. What choice will you make?