Simulator

Simulator

I took my daughter to a local college to attend an annual event where they had many hands-on activities.  One of the popular attractions this year was a flight simulator.

Just as a flight simulator imitates flying without actually taking flight, I began to wonder if we are ever Christian simulators.  Do we do all the right things?  Do we say all the right phrases?  Do we simulate to others that we are Christians, when in reality, we act totally different behind closed doors?

Matthew 7:22-23 tells us about some Christian simulators.  Jesus makes it very clear that not all who prophesy, drive out demons, and perform miracles will actually enter the kingdom of heaven.  He specified that it is the ones who do the Father’s will who will be welcomed into His kingdom.

I think it is helpful to take as assessment of our own fruit once in a while.  Jesus tells us that if a branch bears no fruit, it is will be cut off, thrown into the fire, and burned. (John 15:2, 6) If we feel that we are not bearing much fruit, we may need to ask the Lord to prune us so that we will be more fruitful.

You may think, “It is painful to be pruned!”  Having experienced the feel of a knife pruning away some scar tissue several years ago, I know how bad it can hurt, even if given something to numb the pain.  Believe me – I still felt the sting of that scalpel!  So, I am not going to lie to you.  Yes, going through the pruning process will hurt, but at the end, we will be a real work of God’s grace and mercy.  That is much better than being a simulator!  A simulator is only pretend.  We want to be the real thing!

© 2006, Stacy R. Miller

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Sign Language

Sign Language

Rachel and I recently took an eight week class in sign language.  We both enjoyed learning this new language, and while we are far from fluent in it, we are conversing in it every day.  What surprised me about sign language is that so many of the signs make perfect sense!

Whether we realize it or not, we all speak some kind of ‘sign language’ by the life we live.  Many times we will label a person with a word that comes to mind when we think of them.  For instance, if someone in your women’s group is a constant complainer, you will likely think of her as ‘the complainer’ because that is what her ‘sign language’ is.  If you know someone who can fill a room with laughter, they likely have a ‘sign language’ that says, “I’m the life of the party.”  A lady who constantly has to be talking about others is quickly able to inform others with her ‘sign language’ that she is a gossip.  Maybe you know someone who can’t hold down a job and always tries get hand-outs from others.  We would likely call this type of person a loser.

I love to watch people.  Sitting in the middle of the mall can be an interesting experience.  Even if you don’t hear what the people are saying, you can watch the animation in their faces and their body language and quickly determine what kind of mood they are in.  It’s the same with all of us – even though we may not speak ASL (American Sign Language), we are still speaking, if only through our own facial expressions and our body language.  What we ‘speak’ without even saying any words can cause others to quickly form an opinion on what type of person we are.

What does our ‘sign language’ speak about us?  Does it say that we are angry, bitter, impatient, or rude?  Or does it say that we are a woman who is loving, peaceful, gentle, content, kind, and joyful?
Do we need to learn a new ‘sign language?’
© 2005, Stacy R. Miller

Pray and Be Alone With God

This is a FANTASTIC message!

Sibling Rivalry

Sibling Rivalry

If you have more than one child, you could probably write a book on sibling rivalry.  While I only have one child, I still remember the sibling rivalry that took place when I was growing up with three brothers.

Unfortunately, we have sibling rivalry in the church.  Galatians 5:26 tells us that we shouldn’t be conceited or competitive, nor should we be provoking and irritating to one another, envious or jealous of one another.  If Sister Susie gets to sing on Sunday morning, do we get jealous because we got scheduled on Wednesday night when the attendance is down?  When we hear someone sing or play an instrument, do we conceitedly think that we could have done better?  If an opening for a leadership position in women’s ministry is made known, do we do everything in our power to get that position?  Do we want the position because we feel called to it, or do we want it to stroke our ego?  If you offer to teach a class for women’s ministry, but the department leader chooses to go another direction, do you get jealous or angry?

We even deal with the very familiar phrase, “It’s not fair!”  If a sister gets blessed with a grocery shower because she’s having a hard time financially, do we rejoice?  Or, do we remember years ago when we were having a tough time and nobody did anything to help?  Too often, we cry out “It’s not fair!”

If we’ve been praying for God to use us in the gift of prophecy or speaking in tongues, and we see a fairly new Christian operating in that gift, do we get jealous?  Or can we speak a word of encouragement to them on how blessed you were by their obedience to the Spirit of God?

Do you have some sibling rivalry that you need to confess?
© 2005, Stacy R. Miller

Shifting Sand

Shifting Sand

When my daughter was a toddler, we frequently sang a song about the wise man and the foolish man.  I had no idea how the truths of that song would affect me I in years to come.

Part of keeping our house on the rock is to make sure that we refrain from choosing the better over the best.  Sometimes I see the need to give up some very good activities so that I am able to grab hold of the best.

In my quest to try and keep my house built on the rock, I frequently assess the activities in my life.  I usually try to do this about every three months.  Occasionally, I may need to do it on a weekly basis during excessively busy times of the year, such as the Christmas season.  There are also some days when our schedule is extremely hectic.  On those mornings, I will often surmise each activity, trying to place the most important ones at the top of my priority list.

For instance, I was looking forward to attending a dinner with our women’s group at church.  It started at 6:30.  That same evening, my daughter had PE class from 5:00-6:00 P.M.  Time did not allow me to do both, so I had to make a choice.  While the women’s dinner would have been fun and uplifting, my daughter is higher on my priority list, so my choice was to give up attending the dinner (the better choice) so that Rachel could still attend PE (the best choice).  By making this choice, I kept my house built firmly on the rock.  It also made a deep impression on my daughter when she realized that I saw her activity as more important than my own.

My normal routine is to attend church on Wednesday evenings.  However, one Wednesday, I could tell that my husband was incredibly stressed.  Since my husband is higher on my list of priorities than my church attendance, I chose to drop off Rachel at church.  I came home to be with my husband while we had the opportunity to be alone for a while.  Dean was very pleased to see that I viewed ministering to him as more important than church attendance. Giving him a chance to vent his frustrations of the day was very therapeutic.  Again, I set aside the better choice (church attendance), in place of the best choice (ministering to my husband).

Another opportunity for making a choice between building on shifting sand or the rock came when a friend discovered that her son had a cyst on the brain.  I had been unable to reach her, so I left a message for her to call me the next day, even if it was during our homeschool hours.  She knows that I am adamant about not being disturbed during those precious schooling hours.  Hearing my message let her know that I saw her need as one of top priority.

I went through a spell where I had not been able to write any devotions.  I simply did not have the time.  While I enjoy writing, and even feel the Lord has gifted me to write, I cannot let it take the place of my own personal time with the Lord.  I must also be careful to not let writing take priority over my family and managing things at home.

During that period of time, it would have been very easy for me to become frustrated over not having any new material to send to those on my mailing list.  Instead, I focused on building on the rock.  I knew that if I kept my priorities in order, daily choosing the best in place of the better, God would honor those decisions.

Eventually, I sat down one evening to write.  It was like a dam that burst forth.  Not only was I was able to write six devotions in a very short amount of time, but I could not seem to write fast enough to get my thoughts on paper.

As I have had to set aside a few of the things that I really wanted to do, in order to choose God’s best for me, I have had no regrets.  God is so faithful in pouring out His peace and granting clarity of mind to me.  The sense of balance I feel in making choices that honored Him has made it easier for me to say “no” to that shifting sand so that I can say “yes” to a firm, strong, and stable rock.

Are you choosing to build on the rock?
© 2006, Stacy R. Miller

“Seducing” Your Husband

“Seducing Your Husband”

I Pet. 3:1-4  Wives, in the same way be submissive to your husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without talk by the behavior of their wives, when they see the purity and reverence of your lives.  Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as braided hair and the wearing of gold jewelry and fine clothes.  Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.

This means that we are to hold our husband in high esteem, not that we are subordinate, or less than him.  It doesn’t mean that we have to always agree with him.  Although, when disagreeing, we need to keep a gentleness about the issue, and not be nagging or talking down to him while discussing the situation.  It means a willingness to yield to his headship.  Yielding to his headship is also yielding to God because God is over your husband.

Seducing our husband in a Christian way is by adorning ourselves with a gentle and quiet spirit, and adorning ourselves with honor and respect toward our husband.  I read one time where wives complain that they want their husbands to love them more.  Husbands, on the other hand, want their wives to RESPECT them.

When out in public, what do women do when they step into the ladies room?  Invariably, they will check their lipstick and their hair.  If there’s no restroom close by, most women will carry a little compact case with them.  Spiritually, we need to have a compact case, filled with honor, respect, and reverence for our husband, ready to be pulled out and put on at any given moment.

If we spend time making ourselves pretty for our boss, then we need to do the same for our husband.  I know that can be hard.  After wearing high heels and control-top pantyhose all day, we just want to come home, and “let it all hang out.”

One thing about the outer beauty, it needs to be tempered with modesty.   In I Tim. 2:9 it says that women should dress modestly, with decency and propriety (proper and fitting)…  In other words, if it is too low, too high, or too tight, then it is not modest, and it is dressing with the intent to seduce.  I am sad to say that I have seen too much of this in my own church.  I have serious misgivings about wanting to hang out with any woman who dress for church in such a way.  To me, they are much more concerned with getting attention for themselves and taking the attention from the Lord.  How that must anger our Lord to see these kinds of women literally setting themselves up as an idol, and in His house!

A lot of our beauty is, in fact, store-bought.  We buy the make-up, jewelry, clothing, curling iron, pay the beautician, etc.  There is nothing wrong with this, but we need to be careful to remember that it’s not the outer that is really you.  YOU are what is inside!  I Pet. 3:4 talks about the hidden person of the heart –  that is speaking about the stuff on the inside of you, not your outer beauty.   The inner beauty should always take precedence over the outer beauty.  A good test for this:  Which gets more attention?  Feeding your spirit the Word and praying, or putting on your make-up and clothing?  Ouch!
We need to be spending as much time on our inner beauty.  If we invest in God’s presence, then he will transform us by His glory.  II Cor. 3:18

If we dishonor our husband, then we are wearing ugly attire and ugly adornment.  If we talk him down to our friends and in front of our children, we are adorning ourselves with ugliness.  If we struggle in this area, we need to ask God to transform us on the inside.

When is the last time that you spoke a kind word to your husband?  When is the last time that you encouraged him or complimented him?  Men greatly need to be encouraged and respected.  I try to remind myself how blessed I am to be able to stay home with my daughter.  I realize that my husband works hard so that I can stay home.  That makes it much easier for me to come up with the words of appreciation.

What makes something rare and precious is that it is something of great value.  Prov. 31:10 says that a wife of noble character is worth far more than rubies.  You can find pretty women all day long, but it’s often hard to find a woman who is rare, precious, and excellent in her character.  YOUR VALUE IS PRECIOUS TO GOD!  Let God polish you with the Holy Spirit.  This is something that is very attractive to God, and as you allow Him to do so, GOD will begin to work on your husband.  Before you know it, your husband is going to be truly seduced, in a Christian kind of way.

I Pet. 3:4 talks about the UNFADING beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit.  Over time, most of us will probably put on some weight.  Our outer appearances will change over time.  Our hair may turn gray.  We will develop wrinkles.  God wants us to develop that UNFADING beauty of the inner person and not concentrate so much on the outer beauty, which is bound to fade in time.

Dear Lord, help us to desire to spend that quality time with You, knowing that it is the inner beauty which is of utmost importance in our lives.  Teach us how to honor, respect, and reverence our husbands in new ways.  Help us to be diligent in this.  Our husbands face so much as they are out there working in the world.  Help us to make the home a sanctuary for them by being the gentle and quiet women that You desire us to be.  Let our homes and our attitudes be peaceful from the many storms that we face in this world.  Amen.

© 2003, Stacy R Miller

Saving the Best for Last

Saving the Best For Last

You spent the day washing a multitude of laundry, cleaning the house, running several errands, along with a multitude of other tasks.  Now that it’s evening, you find your strength and your patience waning.  You find you are spent — emotionally, physically, and spiritually.  If you’ve taken the time to pay the bills, you may also find you are financially spent as well!

It seems that by the time we can get the evening meal on the table, we are weary and quite crabby.  Trying to make mealtimes special are at the bottom of our priority list.  We’re just trying to ‘hang in there’ and get supper finished, the dishes washed and put away, so that MAYBE (and that’s a big ‘maybe’) we can sit down and rest for a while.  Then, we suddenly remember — it’s bath night.  So much for getting some rest and relaxation.

While reading about the wedding at Cana in Galilee, I noticed it was the third day of the celebration when the host ran out of wine.  When the master of the banquet tasted the wine Jesus had fixed, he commented on how the best wine had been saved until last.

How many times do we find ourselves trying to cram three days of work into about seven or eight hours?  It’s no wonder that we end up ill-tempered and exhausted by the time our husband gets home in the evening.

It’s wonderful when we work so hard to get things done, always making sure that our family has clean clothing, and the house looks cozy for our husband when he enters the door after a long day’s work.  However, thinking back to your dating days, what did he enjoy then?  Pondering upon  when Dean and I were dating, it was that first-love experience of hanging on to every word he spoke, looking into his beautiful, blue eyes while we talked, and making sure he had my undivided attention.  I can remember the thrill of simply holding his hand while we walked through the park.

Back to our story, when Mary hears them talking about having run out of wine, she looks to Jesus, then tells the others to do whatever Jesus said.  It’s the same for us, in saving the best of our energy for the last moments of the day when our husband is home.  We need to learn to listen closely to the Lord, and discern what He wants us to do each day.  In my own life, on those days when I feel exhausted from the time my feet hit the floor in the morning, I know it’s best to only do what really needs done that day.  If I had planned to get groceries after we were done homeschooling for the day, I check my list to see if it’s possible to put it off until the following day so I can take a nap instead.  Then when my husband walks in the door, I won’t be on the verge of tears, or in the middle of a tirade — acting out of my emotions which are frazzled from exhaustion.  Rather, I can greet him, feeling refreshed and honestly being happy to see him, and looking forward to spending the evening together.

Can we start a ritual where we send the children to their room for some quiet time so we can be alone with our husband for a while?  Those moments of intimate talking may spark a fire (and energy) for other intimacy later.  I have personally found that tub crayons are a wonderful tool in getting Rachel to occupy herself for quite a while.  While she is in the bathroom playing, I can carry on a decent conversation with my husband.  Occasionally, we do hear, “Daddy, come look at what I drew on the tub!”

Even with our children, it’s important to save some of the best ‘wine’ for the end of the day.  And ladies, notice that I didn’t spell it W-H-I-N-E!  We can use the evenings to do devotions with the children.  This can work even if our husband doesn’t want to be involved.  You can gather the children in another room, giving your husband a little time to himself.  You may even opt to do story time with them so your husband has a break for himself.

When we are weary and worn, it’s too easy to want to ‘veg’ on the couch with the remote in hand.  It takes effort and discernment to work our schedules in such a way to leave us with the energy to ‘spend’ ourselves a little more in those evening hours.  That’s why we must do what Jesus tells us to do.  If we follow Him, we’ll find that we too, have saved the best ‘wine’ for last.
© 2004, Stacy R Miller