Respect

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Respect, honor, esteem, reverence, consideration…in other words to hold in high regard.  This week my daughter emailed one of her professors and addressed her by her first name.  The professor wrote back and answered her question but also told her that she should be addressed as Professor…(last name).  This daughter showed me the email and I reminded her that this professor is in a position of authority and should be addressed with respect.

This topic of how we address people is something that has bothered me for quite some time. When I was growing up, every adult was addressed as Mr. or Mrs.  If they had earned a title, they were addressed with the title before their name.  Our Pastor was always Pastor.

As we were raising our daughters they were taught to address those in authority with the proper title.  Somewhere along the lines it changed.  More commonly now, adults introduce themselves to children by their first name.  From my perspective, we are in positions of authority and not their friends.

Another area in our present day culture that has a seeming level of disparity is the football players in the NFL who have decided that they will kneel during the National Anthem to show their stand against racial oppression and inequality in the United States.

So these players want more respect and yet their actions show a high level of disrespect for our flag, our country, and those who have fought for our freedom.  How does one gain respect by showing disrespect?

How did we get to such a place in our country?  There are those who are in positions of authority that do not deserve respect, yet we are to “be subject to the governing authorities.  For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God.” (Romans 13:1).  God has instituted levels of authority “as His servant for our good” (Romans 13:4).

The next verse leaves no questions as to what we are supposed to do. “Honor everyone.  Love the brotherhood.  Fear God.  Honor the emperor.” (I Peter 2:17).

There has been much mistreatment of many different human beings in our world and there continues to be mistreatment of people today that do not deserve this mistreatment.  We live in a “me first” world so if someone feels disrespected, rather than return respect they will return more disrespect.  It is a vicious circle that needs to stop.

I wonder if a good place to start would be with our children.  Teaching them that an adult deserves respect and should be addressed with respect.  Teaching our children that no matter who the other person is they were made in God’s image and deserve to be honored and loved.  Jesus challenged His disciples and us with a difficult task, “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” (Matthew 5:44).  We are not to show disrespect when disrespected, rather we are to show love.

Rather than showing our country disrespect by kneeling during the National Anthem, what if these football players all across America went to the lowliest of people and showed them respect.  Helped them with their needs.  Worked alongside rebuilding their homes, their communities, and their spirits.  What if they taught boys that being a gentleman is nobler than being a part of a gang?  Finishing school and getting a job to support ones family is nobler than anything illegal.  I wonder what level of respect the rest of the American people would gain for these football players?

What if we as adults introduced ourselves as Mr./Mrs./Professor/Dr./Miss and expected that since we are in positions of authority we should act as role models for those children that are addressing us with respect.

What if our attitude changed from “me” to noticing the needs of others?  What if we tried to be positive role models by behaving in a positive and respectful way?

What if…

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Listen and Love Well

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The end of the year and the beginning of the New Year always brings a certain amount of contemplation on the part of most people.  It may not last for long or amount to any major changes in an individual’s life, but a new year does cause most to stop and consider, “How could this year be better?”  What could I do to be a better person, impact others, make more money, lose weight, or get in shape?  What would it take to have a better relationship with my spouse, children, parents, friends, boss, etc.?  Or some may even go as far as to ponder, “What do I need to do to have a better relationship with God?”

I have seen some really catchy ways for people to write out their goals for the new year.  I must say I like lists, and I do feel as though I accomplish more if I have a list of things that need to get done, especially if they are things that I do not particularly want to do.  There is the avenue of writing out the big goals and then making smaller monthly, weekly, or daily goals to accomplish the big goal.  This is a proven method that works very well.

As I consider my new year, I have not listed out a bunch of goals for the year.  I honestly haven’t decided if I am going to or not.  I could write down all the things that everyone else does, but then I wouldn’t have enough time to get them all done.  I could dream big and make action steps to fulfill those big dreams by accomplishing the little ones along the way.  I suppose, in a way, I am writing this to sort out my thoughts that are whirring around in my head, but haven’t settled out onto anything concrete much less a list or a set of action steps that must be accomplished in order to achieve the big goals.

The big things that happened in most people’s lives didn’t happen because they sat around and thought about it, it happened because they made a plan to do it and then they did it.  So the reality of this is if I don’t get off the couch, so to speak, life isn’t going to be different.

So here’s my thoughts.  What if I listened to the prompting of the Holy Spirit more?  I spend time daily in God’s Word and in prayer.  Do I sense the Holy Spirit nudging me or pricking my conscience?  Then those seem like actions steps I should follow.

I have been thinking a lot about the tongue.  Easy to understand why since I have read Proverbs every day for the past 1.5 years.  Proverbs 31:26 says that the “…teaching of kindness is on her tongue.”  I cannot very well teach something if I do not know anything about that topic.  I want to be such a student of God’s kindness to me that God’s kindness readily flows from my tongue.

People.  God created us so we must be important.  Am I daily seeking ways to minister to people?  Am I a student of others and their needs?

It’s not a fancy list, but it certainly helped me process a few things.  In the end, according to I Corinthians 13 if I do all that I do and I do it without love, it profits me nothing.  It’s just noise with no melody.  It’s actions with no purpose.  It’s busyness with no activity.  The Holy Spirit and God’s Word can be powerful tools with our tongues and our relationships, the question is – Will we allow that to be the case?  A list without love, is simply some scribbles on a piece of scrap paper. My challenge is this:  Listen and love well.

Happy 21st Birthday, Danielle

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Twenty-one years ago today, I became a Mom.  As with all of us, we have a story that leads up to being a Mom.  My story starts when I was in high school.  As I was considering options for college, I seriously considered being a medical doctor.  I enjoyed medicine and helping people, so I thought this would be a good career choice for myself.  Then I thought about the day I would eventually be a Mom.  I thought about the long hours a Dr. puts in and did not see how I could be a good Mom and a good Dr.  I am not saying it cannot be done, but I did not think I could manage to do those 2 things well. So I chose to go to nursing school. It seemed to be a more flexible and not as much of a time commitment.

After Dave and I had been married for a few years, we were coming home from vacation (I can still remember where we were) and he said, “I think it is time to start our family.”  I had just finished my first semester of grad school.  There was no way I wanted to start a family then.  So we waited till I finished school.  Except, life never goes exactly like we plan it.  Of course, I had the perfect time table.  God had different plans.  So we waited until it was God’s perfect timing not my timing.  As I waited, I struggled with different things, but the biggest thing I struggled with was how my friend who did become a Dr. could also be pregnant.  I was jealous and struggled with having to wait when I had given up a career choice for this baby.  God in His goodness and kindness did not make me wait for long.

Sitting in the nursery holding Danielle in the rocking chair looking outside at the beautiful snow with tears in my eyes I told God and Danielle, “I am so glad I gave up those things for you.”  How I have loved being a Mom.  The joys have been more than I could ever imagine, because I did not give up anything, I gained everything.

Danielle, I love being your mom.  I love when you call to ask my advice, or tell me a story, or just need a sounding board.  I love when you need medical advice or plant advice. I love our conversations about what God is teaching you and how you are growing in Him.  I am so happy you had the opportunity to be a camp counselor last summer and chose to get involved in the lives of those girls.  They will never forget the fun times they had at camp or how much you impacted them and taught them about our Lord.

You have an infectious smile.  You share the joy of the Lord.  You watch for people that need love and love them.  You look out for people that need help and help them.  You enjoy teaching and helping others learn.  You are a bit quirky like me and break out into song spontaneously, only yours is usually on key.

I could not be more proud of the young lady you have become and the godly character you exhibit in your life.  So today on your 21st birthday, I pray that God will continue to be your source of joy and His Word will be a light to your path.  You know that throughout this journey of life I am always here for you. Happy Birthday!

I love you,

Mom

Fear God and Keep His Commandments

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I had a conversation the other day with a lady who said she did not believe in the Bible, but believed the 10 commandments.  She also said she did not believe in God.  She went on to tell me about the good points of the 10 commandments: “Thou shall not steal. Thou shall not murder.  Thou shall not take thy neighbor’s wife (commit adultery).”  I agreed with her that these were good.  When I asked her about the first few commandments, “Thou shall have no other gods before Me. Thou shall not make a graven image,” she did not have a response for this.  She also wanted to tell me that Moses wrote the 10 commandments, not God.  When I asked her how she could believe something written by fallible man rather than an infallible God, again no answer.  Since this conversation took place at Best Buy while we waited for our turn to have our broken computers repaired, we did not get to finish our conversation.  I wish I would have thought about getting her number so we could continue our conversation.

I just finished reading Ecclesiastes.   The book written by Solomon that contains his musings about life and what is of value.  At the end of this book after recanting all the things that are worthless, he writes his conclusion to his musings.

“The end of the matter, all has been heard.  Fear God and keep His commandments, for this is the whole duty of man.  For God will bring every deed into judgement, with every secret thing, whether good or evil.” (Ecclesiastes 12:13, 14).

Solomon had everything.

  • All the money he could possibly want.
  • All the wives he could possibly want.
  • All the power he could possibly want.
  • All the prestige he could possibly want.

Yet, with all of this he concluded that what mattered was to:

  • Fear God.
  • Keep His commandments.

The lady I spoke with the other day understood part of this, yet she missed the foundational point: fear God. 

All of the money, power, and prestige is empty.  Solomon says 10 times in the book of Ecclesiastes “I have seen everything that is done under the sun, and behold, all is vanity and a chasing after the wind.” (1:14).  We cannot catch the wind.  Have you ever tried?  It always slips through our fingers heading in a direction directed by God. Solomon tried to find fulfillment in all of this and found every time he got to where he thought would bring fulfillment; it kept slipping through his fingers-just like the wind.

The only true fulfillment in our lives is to fear the Lord and keep His commandments.  Without fearing God, keeping God’s commandments will also be futile.  The foundation for keeping God’s commandments is to fear God. Without a relationship with the one true God, keeping God’s commandments will also not bring the fulfillment for which we strive.  This fulfillment only comes through a relationship with our Savior, Jesus Christ.

As we near Christmas and enjoy the festivities of the season, we must remember that Jesus came to earth as a baby to bring us hope through His sacrifice on the cross for our sins.  No matter how hard we try to find fulfillment in “chasing after the wind” it will always be out of our grasp.

Stop striving after the wind.  Rather run to the Savior and find fulfillment in the peace that comes through a relationship with Him.  Relationship brings peace and fulfillment, not the empty promises of this world.

“Fear God and keep His commandments.”

I’m Thankful For…

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Earlier this year, my daughter told me about something she had incorporated into her quiet time with God.  She had a special journal and as many days as she had time she would write in this journal seven things for which she was thankful.  I thought that was an idea worth replicating, so I had a journal that I was not using and began to do the same thing. I started this May 19, 2017.  Almost every day, I would write seven or more things for which I was thankful.  When I got to the last page dated October 28, 2017, I had recorded exactly 1,000 things for which I was thankful.  Every day, I included something about God for which I was thankful.

The things I included were not always magnificent things, but the things I wrote are not necessarily the point of the exercise.  The point of the exercise is to make me more aware of various circumstances and be thankful for them. The point of the exercise is to be aware of how God works in all the little things of our lives to fulfill His purposes.  The point of the exercise is to be thankful for the people in our lives that impact us or we have the opportunity to serve, encourage, and minister.

The point of the exercise is to BE THANKFUL!

But know this, that in the last days grievous times shall come.   For men shall be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, haughty, railers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy,   without natural affection, implacable, slanderers, without self-control, fierce, no lovers of good,   traitors, headstrong, puffed up, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God;  holding a form of godliness, but having denied the power therefore. From these also turn away.  (II Timothy 3:1-5, ASV)

 

Being unthankful is in some pretty serious company.  It seems being unthankful is another indicator of the true intent of our heart.  Our gratitude shows what is in our hearts.  If we have ever kept company with someone who has these qualities (boastful, haughty, unthankful…) we know that the basis of these is because they are so in love with themselves.

 

A heart of thankfulness comes from a heart of humility.  When we are thankful, we realize that someone outside of ourselves did something for us.  When we notice the little things that people do and voice our gratitude, it could quite possibly turn their day around.  Sometimes, in making someone else’s day by being grateful, it also could make our day.

 

I challenge you as we focus on the festivities of Thanksgiving to remember the reason for this holiday.  It is not to get a day off work (at least for some of us).  It is not so we can become gluttons and see how much we can eat.  In your life it may have become something else.

 

Thanksgiving is about thanking God for what He has given us.  Whether He has given us plenty or we are in want, God is to be thanked.  Start a journal and write down the things for which you are thankful.  Begin to notice the little things in life and thank God for them, and then thank those around you who helped make those little things happen.  It will change you.  It will change your outlook.  It could quite possibly change your life.

 

“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with THANKSGIVING let your requests be made known unto God, and the peace of God which passes all understanding will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:6, 7)

What’s Your View?

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“Life is 10% what happens to us and 90% how we respond to it.”  (Chuck Swindoll).  This quote has always been one of my favorites.  The life of Joseph illustrates this quote perfectly.

As we read about the life of Joseph, the mistreatment does not seem to stop.  Brothers throw him in a pit.  Sold as a slave.  False accusations.  Prison in a pit.  Forgotten for 2 years.  Seems like enough mistreatment to make Joseph want to give up on life, his family, and even God.  BUT, he never does.  As a matter of fact, quite the opposite takes place.

If we took Joseph’s life and observed how he responded when the going got tough, we could see why he rose to positions of influence in Potiphar’s house and in the land of Egypt under Pharaoh.

  1. Joseph fled from sin “…He fled and got out of the house.” (Genesis 39:12).
  2. Joseph noticed the needs and hurts of others. “Why are your faces downcast today?” (Genesis 40:7).
  3. Joseph gave God the glory “It is not in me; God will give Pharaoh a favorable answer.” (Genesis 41:16).
  4. Joseph had a proper perspective “God sent me before you to preserve life.” (Genesis 45:5).
  5. Joseph practiced forgiveness “And now do not be distressed or angry with yourselves because you sold me here, for God sent me before you to preserve life.” (Genesis 45:5).
  6. Joseph didn’t complain or grumble
  7. Joseph was a willing servant in the hands of His God “You meant it for evil, but God meant it for good.” (Genesis 50:20).

Life is not always a challenge, but many days it is.  Many days we see all of the challenges in our day and choose not to see life through the eyes of our Heavenly Father.  Joseph did not deserve to get thrown into the pit, and yet his brothers took out their jealousy for Joseph on Joseph.  How many times do we have a pity party for ourselves because of the circumstances we did not deserve and yet we are left to deal with them?  If we look at Joseph’s life, we see he forgave his brothers.  He didn’t allow the bitterness of the past to eat up his future.

False accusation and prison.  While in prison, he did not have another pity party for himself.  Rather he noticed the needs of those around him and sought to meet those needs.  How often do we set aside our own pain and notice the pain of others?  Many times the best healing for ourselves is by helping others to heal.  Do we notice others needs or only focus on our own pain?

What side of the tapestry are we visualizing?  Joseph did not know how, but he did know God had a plan.  Even though Joseph could not see the entire tapestry of his life as God did, he trusted God’s vision for his life never doubting His plan.  He walked faithfully with God through every bend in the road.

Joseph was always ready to be a servant, and God lifted him to positions of leadership.  In Potiphar’s house, he was a servant.  In the prison, he was a servant.  In Pharaoh’s kingdom, he was a servant.

As we consider the injustices of life, do we pity ourselves and focus on the 10% that happens to us or do we focus on having a godly 90% response.

I have seen this from both sides.  You probably have too.

Events-10%        Response-90%

Events-90%        Response-10%

Which person would you rather be around?  We all know the answer. We would rather spend time with the Joseph’s of the world rather than the Jonah’s.  So if that is the case, who are you going to be?

What Do We Do When We Wait?

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Life is every day.  Sounds pretty stupid when we look at it this way, but the mountain top experiences and the valleys of life are interspersed with the every dayness of life.  We do a lot of everyday things that require some thought but they are not necessarily the highs and lows of life.

Getting up in the morning and getting ready for our day.

Eating.

Driving to work or school or the grocery store.

Yard work.

House work.

Our jobs.

Some of us may point to the highlights of life as the mountain top experiences or as the valley experiences.

If we look at the life of Joseph, I would pick out the following as the “highlights” of his life.

Coat of many colors.

Dream.

Bragging about his dream.

The pit.

Traveling in a caravan to Egypt.

Service to Potiphar.

False accusations from Potiphar’s wife

Prison

Interpretation of dreams

Prison for 2 more years in another pit

Interpretation of Pharaoh’s dream

Made 2nd in command

Plan that worked to save many lives from starvation

Reunited with his family

A happy ending to a sad story. And yet in Joseph’s own words, “God sent me before you to preserve life.” (Genesis 45:5).  Joseph told his brothers this three times in Genesis 45, and then the famous words we know from Genesis 50:20 when Jacob dies and the brothers are worried about their fate being in Joseph’s hands, Joseph comforts them with these words, “you meant it for evil but God meant it for good.”

And yet, Joseph did not stroll in with the caravan and announce to the Pharaoh, “Here, I am.”  No Joseph had to put in his time as a servant, as a prisoner, and as a forgotten prisoner.  Without family or friends, Joseph was seemingly forgotten in the depths of that prison pit.

Joseph waited for God’s timing.  He did not change who he was because he was seemingly abandoned.  Joseph continued to notice the needs of people around him, “Why are your faces downcast today?” (Genesis 40:7), and to honor God, “do not interpretations belong to God?” (Genesis 40:8).

And yet, the cupbearer forgot Joseph (Genesis 40:23), so he waited in a pit for two more years.

And when they finally remembered Joseph, he answered Pharaoh, “It is not in me; God will give Pharaoh a favorable answer.” (Genesis 41:16).  No anger.  No bitterness.  No animosity.  Just glorifying God.

Joseph remained faithful to God whether he was in Potiphar’s house being seduced by Potiphar’s wife or in a pit as a prisoner falsely accused.

We do not read about any grumbling.  We do not read about any complaining.  Joseph waited on the Lord for the good to come from his betrayal by his brothers, slavery, prison, and being forgotten.

So what do you do when you wait?  What do we do when we are given a test?  Joseph waited.  Joseph was given a test.  Joseph passed each test and yet he was not always rewarded.  How did he do it?

No matter where Joseph was, he was faithful to God in his thoughts, words, and actions.  This does not just happen, rather it happens as we spend time with our Creator.

“And Pharaoh said to his servants, ‘Can we find a man like this, in whom is the Spirit of God?  Then Pharaoh said to Joseph, since God has shown you all this, there is none so discerning and wise as you are.” (Genesis 41:38, 39)

Having a wise and discerning spirit only comes one way-delighting and meditating on God’s Word.

“Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers, but his delight is in the law of the Lord and on his law he meditates day and night.” (Psalm 1:1, 2).

So what do you do when you wait?  “Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise…” (Proverbs 13:20).  Would Joseph walk with you?