To Destroy or To Build Up

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To Destroy or to Build up

I did a lesson with young children at church where I took in bubbles and the bubble wand.  Of course they loved chasing the bubbles and trying to catch them.  I ended the lesson with telling them to go get all of the bubbles and bring them back to me.  They got the funniest expressions on their precious little faces!  They told me that they couldn’t do that.  I explained how it’s the same with words that come out of our mouths too.  Once they are out there, we can’t take them back.  Oh sure, we can say that we are sorry, but wouldn’t it be better if we had never said the words that required the apology in the first place?

James says in chapter 3 that a word out of your mouth may seem of no account, but it can accomplish nearly anything – or destroy it!  He then goes on to mention how just a spark can set off a forest fire, and compares our tongues to a fire – that with our speech we can turn harmony to chaos, throw mud on a reputation, etc.

Prov. 6:2 says that we are snared by the words of our lips, caught by the speech of our mouths.  — Think about this:  Sometimes we can be having a day where nothing is going right.  We begin to say aloud that we can’t do anything right.  The enemy of our souls hears that, and TRAP!  He’s caught us, and sets a snare for us.  The next thing we know, we are in the mindset that we are nothing but a failure.  Our joy, peace, contentment, and over-all sense of well-being goes out the door in an instant.

Prov. 10:19 says that in the multitude of words, sin is not lacking, but he who restrains his lips is prudent.  In the Webster’s New World Dictionary, “prudent” means, “exercising sound judgment in practical matters, cautious in conduct, not rash, managing carefully.”  Oh, that we could all say that where our tongues are concerned.

Prov. 18:20 says that life and death are in the power of the tongue.  There are so many ways in which our tongues can speak death.  With our words, we can emotionally damage our children, we can kill a friendship, we can cause a huge wall to erupt in our relationship with our husbands (and in a matter of only a few words!), we can even cause physical ailments to come upon ourselves…..and the list goes on.  There is a flip side to it though; our words can speak life to people too.  (I like this part!)  We can speak life to someone who is so discouraged that they don’t feel they can go on.  We can encourage our children in their struggles, or even encourage them in what we see as strengths for them.  We can lift the spirits of our husbands who can carry such heavy loads at times.

Prov. 10:11 says that the mouth of the righteous man is a well of life.
Prov. 10:14 says that wise men store up knowledge in their heart and mind.  Well, what is the wise man going to do with that knowledge?  He can use it to speak life to those who need it.
Prov. 10:20 says that the tongues of those who are upright and in right standing with God are as choice silver (the best silver).

Father, may we daily make the choice to let our words be as choice silver, bringing life and joy to those to whom we speak.  Amen.
© 2003, Stacy R Miller

When to keep your mouth shut

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I’m a Little Teapot

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I’m a Little Teapot

Have you ever sung the song “I’m a Little Teapot” with your children?  It’s a fun one for young children because they enjoy doing the motions to them.  Besides that, they’re just downright cute when they do their little songs!

Many times, we are like the teapot.  We get all steamed up and we ‘tip’ over to the side of our flesh, quickly finding ourselves being ‘poured out’ in a very ungodly fashion.  Our mouths spew forth some damaging words to those around us.  Some of us may even fall into the habit of throwing things when we get all steamed up.

As I’ve watched America’s Funniest Home Videos, I’ve seen numerous clips of babies who have projectile vomiting.  While we laugh at those video clips, it’s no laughing matter when the ‘projectile vomiting’ comes in the form of nasty words from our lips.  Just as vomit has a very nasty stench to it, our words can be filled with just as much stench because they are filled with acid — words which ‘burn’ those who are around us.

Jesus tells us in Matthew 26:41 that we should watch and pray so that we won’t fall into temptation.  Sometimes the temptation we face may be keeping our tongue from sinning.  In I Timothy 4:16, we see that if we watch our life and doctrine closely, persevering in them, we will not only save ourselves, but also our hearers.  Could it be that we could save our hearers from hearing some ungodly words spewing forth, if we carefully watch our lives and how we conduct ourselves when we are under pressure?

We can’t neglect the impact of doing daily devotions with the Lord.  Psalm 119:11 tells us that we should hide God’s Word in our hearts so that we might not sin against Him.  I have found that the more I devour the Word, the more control I seem to have over my emotions.  I’m still not perfect, by any stretch of the imagination, but at least I seem to have a better grip on my emotions, my words, my thoughts, and my actions — or should I say my ‘reactions’?  God’s Word is a lamp to our feet and a light to our path. (Ps. 119:105) When we stay in that light, it’s harder to go down the darkened path because we see the light, and we follow it more closely.

Paul sheds some light for us in Romans 7:20 when he tells us that if we do what we don’t want to do, it is no longer us that is doing it, but SIN that is living IN us.  In verses 24-25, he realizes what a wretched man of sin he is, wondering who is going to deliver him from this body of death.  He quickly declares that it is Jesus Christ who delivers us!  In Galatians 5:24, he admonishes us to realize that if we belong to Christ, we must crucify that awful sin nature with all of its passions and desires.  The next verse admonishes us to keep in step with the Spirit.

It’s a good idea to let the Holy Spirit become a muzzle for our mouths.  Psalm 39:1-2 tells us that we should watch our ways and keep our tongue from sinning.  The key is letting the Holy Spirit be our helper in this area.  After all, James makes it very clear that no man can tame the tongue. (Jas. 3:8) If we look at Luke 1:37, we find that with God ALL things are possible.  You see, there IS hope for those of us who struggle in this area!
© 2004, Stacy R Miller

Talking to Yourself

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Talking to Yourself

Many times, when we are faced with trials of various kinds, we find ourselves listening to our ‘self’ speaking.  What I mean is that we speak from our emotions, our fears, our doubts, and our questions.  Instead of listening to our ‘self’ speak, we need to start speaking to our ‘self.’

David spoke to himself on occasion.  In Psalm 42:5, he asked himself, “Why are you downcast, O my soul?  Why so disturbed within me?  Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.” (NIV)

In Psalm 103:1-2, David is again talking to himself.  He says, “Praise the Lord, O my soul; all my inmost being, praise his holy name.  Praise the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits.” (NIV) He begins to recite to himself the many things which God has done, choosing to encourage his ‘self’ rather than listen to his ‘self.’

While fleeing from Saul, David wrote Psalm 57.  He mentions how he has been in the midst of ravenous lions that have dug a pit for him.  He is obviously feeling very low and lonely.  Yet, in spite of how his ‘self’ felt, he declares in verses 7-8 that his heart is steadfast and that he is going to sing and make music.  He speaks to his ‘self,’ saying, “Awake, my soul!”  He knew that he needed to speak out loud to awaken his ‘self’ which was dealing with a great sense of despair.  He ends this psalm in exultant praise to the Lord, edifying his ‘self’ in the process.

One way to encourage ourselves is to pray for God to help us in making the words of our mouth and the meditations of our hearts to be pleasing before Him. (Ps. 19:14) Anytime that we are speaking that which edifies our Lord, we will be edifying our ‘self.’

In Psalm 66, David sets a great example of how to remind our ‘self’ of past victories that God has brought forth in our own lives.  It helps to keep a journal to jot down those victories so that when our ‘self’ is trying to speak negatively to us, we can pull out our journal of past victories, and speak back to our ‘self.’

Ephesians 5:19 admonishes us to sing and make music in our heart to the Lord.  Many times, for it to truly get it into our heart, we need to be singing it to our ‘self.’  In singing it to our ‘self,’ we conquer the negative that our ‘self’ will try to bring forth.

What about you?  Do you need to start speaking to your ‘self’?
© 2004, Stacy R Miller

Slaves of Righteousness

Slaves of Righteousness

After being a stay-at-home mom for thirteen years, the economic situation required that I reenter the workforce.  That was a major culture shock to me!  Much to my dismay, I discovered that any topic was opened to discussion.  I was appalled by the amount of backbiting I observed.  On top of that, gossip and negativity abounded where ever I went.

It is very hard to keep a positive attitude in those kinds of situations.  In fact, all too often, it was too easy to join in.  However, I soon realized that doing so left a very bitter taste in my spirit.

However, in Romans 6:15-18, it is clear that I don’t have to be a slave to sin.  Rather, I can be a slave to righteousness.  It is my choice — I can continue to join in with the gossip and negative conversations at work.  Or, I can choose to be a slave to righteousness and walk away, keeping my integrity intact.  What an encouragement to realize that I do not have to let sin reign in me!

© 2011, Stacy R. Miller

Mind Your Own Business

Mind Your Own Business

I remember hearing it said that gossip is sharing any piece of information about another person that isn’t necessary.  Yet, how many times do we find ourselves doing just that?

On the Wednesday night before the FMA (Family Marriage Amendment) was coming up for a vote in the Senate, our pastor mentioned that there was some talk that homosexuals were planning to target some churches around the nation on that coming Sunday.  He briefly shared that they may picket with signs and/or try to disrupt church services.  He then mentioned that coming to churches was another one of their methods to get their own point of view heard.  Anyway, someone in the church wasn’t paying real close attention to what Pastor had said.  The next day I received a phone call from a friend who was very disturbed over something she had heard that our pastor supposedly said.  She proceeded to tell me that this individual told her that our pastor was opening up our church to homosexual advocates.  Because this person didn’t pay close attention to what was actually being said, they ended up slandering our pastor, speaking lies about him, tainting his character.

An area where I see falsehoods, gossip, and slander quite frequently are in the myriad of urban legends circulating on the Internet.  Time is a very precious commodity, and I don’t want to waste mine on reading that kind of trash.  Yet, I continually find that people keep sending them to me every week.  We would be wise to use some discretion when we receive these kinds of messages in our email box.  Rather than immediately sending them on to every person in your address book, check them out first to see if they are even true.  A great resource for checking to see if something is an urban legend is http://www.snopes.com/.  When I take the time to research these kinds of messages, I have only found about two of them that were actually accurate messages.

Recently, as I headed into the women’s restroom at church, and closed the door, I saw a note posted on the door.  It said that someone who speaks to you about someone will also speak about you to someone.

Proverbs shares some wonderful insights regarding being a talebearer.  A gossip is one who will spread rumors.  Yet, the flip side is that she who is trustworthy will stop rumors.  (11:13 NIV)  She who guards her lips guards her own life.  (13:3)  Many times gossip isn’t true, so when we share it, we are telling lies, and God hates a lying tongue.  (6:17)

So, how do we help to guard ourselves against this all-too-common trap?  In II Tim. 4:2, we are told to be ready in season and out of season.  If we want to do our best to be godly women, not given to the destructive habit of gossiping, we need to be prepared with a response so that when (not if) someone wants to gossip to us, we have a response ready to speak forth to them.  For instance, when Sister Busybody approaches you and says, “Did you hear about so-and-so?”, you can immediately respond with, “No, and if it’s something bad about them, I’d rather not hear it, thank you.”  Or another response could be, “Would this person care if they knew you were about to share this issue with me?”  Another way of putting it would be to say, “If you what you have to say about them is edifying, I would love to hear it!”  Sometimes a gentle admonishment is a good approach.  Share with this person a past experience, where someone has spoken something less-than-desirable about another person — a person whom you barely knew.  The end result was that every time you saw this other person, that conversation where gossip was shared is always in the forefront of your mind.  You might even share that having those kinds of thoughts always popping up isn’t pleasant, so you do your best to avoid having that happen again.

The Bible tells us that we are to correct, rebuke, and encourage.  (II Tim. 4:2)  Part of correcting or rebuking may be to stop people who have wagging tongues when they approach us.  Yes, it’s possible that we may offend them.  Yes, it’s likely that they may turn and stab us in the back because we dared to stop them in their sin.  But Sister, I ask you:  Whose applause and approval do you desire?  Do you desire the approval and acceptance of a gossip, who is likely to gossip about you?  Or, do you desire the approval of the Lord who was willing to die for you?
© 2004, Stacy R Miller

Don’t Be a Meathead!

Don’t be a Meathead!

As a little girl, I remember watching All in the Family.  Archie would never fail to call his son-in-law “Meathead” at least once during every episode.  While we laughed to hear the bantering between the two men, it isn’t so funny when we think of being called a “Meathead.”  Nobody likes to be called degrading names.

In I Cor. 3:3, Paul calls the Christians carnal because of the jealousy and quarreling that took place among the believers.  He says that they are carnally minded.  In studying the word ‘carnal,’ I found that it comes from ‘carnivorous,’ which means ‘meat.’  ‘Minded’ refers to the head.  ‘Carnally minded’ means, in essence, being a ‘meathead.’

How many times do we find ourselves acting in carnally minded ways?  It sounds even worse when we think of ourselves as being a ‘meathead.’  Yet, we often do just that.  For example, maybe our husband says, “I wish you wouldn’t iron my pants this way!”  How will most of us respond?  A harsh word usually stirs up more harsh words.  (Pr. 15:1) Let’s look at our husband’s request in another way.  “Honey, do you think that you could iron my pants with a crease down the middle?”  Because he is asking in a gentle, respectful manner, we are much more likely to want to honor his request, and work to please him.  After all, Prov. 16:24 tells us that pleasant words are sweet to our soul.

When growing up, if your mother told you, “Don’t touch those cookies!” you would likely be fighting a fleshly battle.  The mere mention of the cookies probably got your taste buds in an uproar!  But, if she was wise, she would sweetly say, “After we eat supper, we can all have some cookies while we play a game.”  Your thinking would likely have been upon the enjoyable part of the evening (cookies and game time), rather than on the underlying command of ‘do not eat the cookies now.’

Many times people focus on the ‘do nots’ of the Bible rather than changing their thinking.  The Word tell us that we will know the truth and the truth will set us free. (Jn. 8:32) Sometimes we forget that God gives us power to NOT sin!  We are too busy focusing on what we aren’t supposed to do, rather than focusing on the power that God abundantly gives us to help us overcome those things which try to ensnare us.

It’s not a magical formula, where someone performs a voodoo ritual over us.  It often takes bringing our flesh into subjection to our spirit, and that takes work!  A farmer must sow before he can reap. It requires much effort and diligence on his part.  It’s the same with us.  We must renew our minds, training ourselves to be godly, putting on the Lord Jesus, and walking in the Spirit.  As we seek to do these things, we will find the Holy Spirit right there with us, being our cheerleader as we journey away from our previous habit of being a ‘meathead.’
© 2004, Stacy R Miller

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