The Restraining Order

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The Restraining Order

We are admonished in James to be quick to hear, slow to speak, and slow to wrath.  When tempers are flared and emotions are flying high, it’s nearly impossible to follow this command.  Sometimes we need a spiritual restraining order put on our mouths.

When dealing with different issues where a conversation needs to take place, it’s important to remember that the first thing we should do is pray.  There are several things we can pray before approaching the other person, be it our husband or someone else.
1.  Pray for God to adjust your attitude so that you aren’t bitter and full of angry, hurtful words when you do speak.
2.  Pray for the Lord to season your words with His grace and to tenderize your tongue before you speak.
3.  Pray for the Lord to direct you in the timing of bringing up the issue.
4.  Pray that both parties will not be sidetracked by bringing up past hurts.
5.  Pray for both parties to be receptive to hear out the other person.
6.  Pray for a quick and speedy resolve that is agreeable to both parties.
7.  Pray for there not to be any resentment or bitter feelings once the conversation has taken place.

It is important to remember that while we may speak our mind, we must be careful to mind our manners in the process!

There are many reasons why it’s good for the Lord to put a restraining order on our mouths.
1.  When we speak too much, sin is often close behind.
(Prov. 10:19)
2.  A harsh word can stir up anger. (Prov. 15:1)
3.   We can be like the fool who gushes folly.  (Prov. 15:2)
4.  Sometimes our tongue can speak deceitful things.  (Prov. 15:4)
5.  In our anger and hurt, we can speak death to a relationship.  (Prov. 18:21)

When the restraining order is in place, there can be positive results:
1.  We will be wise and learn to hold our tongues. (Prov. 10:19)
2.  Our soft answer will turn away wrath.  (Prov. 15:1)
3.  Our tongue will be filled with the fruit of knowledge.
(Prov. 15:2)
4.  Our tongue can be a healing tree of life.  (Prov. 15:4)
5.  We will learn to speak words of life to those around us.  (Prov. 18:21)
6.  We will speak pleasant words that promote instruction, and are sweet to the soul. (Prov. 16:21,23-24)

So is getting a restraining order on your to-do list for the day?
© 2004, Stacy R Miller

The Other Woman

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The Other Woman

Many times, we become so myopic with our vision.  We are focused on our own personal tasks, whether it be for our job, our home, our family.  We can miss out on those quality moments to minister to the ‘other woman’ who may be right in front of us.

Looking at the woman at the well, Jesus was likely tired and very thirsty, yet He took the time to minister to this woman at the very heart of her need. (Jn. 4:1-42) When Peter’s mother-in-law was sick, Jesus took time to heal her. (Lk. 4:38-39) If we take time away from our agenda, can we bring healing through our intercession to the ‘other woman’ whom God places on our heart? Can we be a healing balm to the ‘other woman,’ who may have a wounded spirit?

The widow of Nain depended on her son for financial support, and now he was dead.  Jesus cared enough about this ‘other woman’ to raise her son from the dead so that her needs would be met. (Lk 7:11-17) What about the ‘other woman’ you know who is widow?  Can you offer her a ride to the doctor so she doesn’t go alone?  Can you take a few moments to let her know that you are thinking about her, or that you appreciate her?

The sinful woman came to pour out precious ointment upon the feet of Jesus.  Yet, those around scorned her. (Lk 7:36-50) Would we be the same way with the ‘other woman’ if she suddenly started attending our church, and lavishly giving of herself to the Lord?  Would we be intimidated by how fast she was growing in the Lord?  Would we be jealous of her free worship of our Lord?

Joanna was a woman who supported the ministry of Jesus with her finances.  (Lk. 8:1-3) If the ‘other woman’ has implemented some really creative ideas to support the work of the Lord, would we stand back and criticize her?  Or would we desire to encourage her?

When the woman with the issue of blood approached Jesus, He was on His way to help Jairus, whose daughter was sick.  It’s implied in scripture that this ‘other woman’ wasn’t important because she wasn’t mentioned by name, yet Jairus was mentioned by name and occupation, giving us the idea that he was an important man.  Yet, we see Jesus take time for this insignificant woman. (Lk. 8) Do we forget about the insignificant woman in order to take care of the woman who seems to be more important in social stature?  Do we prefer to do our acts when they are seen by those ‘important’ people?

We see that the Syrophoenician woman had a serious plea and Jesus takes the time to respond to her. (Mt. 15:21-28) When the ‘other woman’ has a plea for a prayer request, do we take the time to agree with her right then in prayer?  Or, do we tell her that we will be praying, only to forget about her request in a matter of seconds?

A woman caught in the act of adultery was quickly condemned by the people, yet Jesus refused to condemn her. (Jn. 8:1-11) Do we condemn the ‘other woman,’ just like the people in this story did?  Do we begin to gossip about the woman, not even realizing that our mouth has led us into just as bad of a sin?  Do we remember that if it wasn’t for God’s grace, we could be that ‘other woman’?

Looking at Mary and Martha, we see Martha griping about the ‘other woman,’ who happened to be sitting at the feet of
Jesus, soaking up His every word.  (Lk. 10:38-42) When we see the ‘other woman’ being truly blessed by the Lord, do we find something about which to gripe?  Do we speak bitter words about her?

In Lk. 11:27-28, we find that a woman in the crowd cries out a blessing to Mary, the mother of Jesus.  How often do we take time from our own agenda to simply bless the ‘other woman?’

God sets many ‘other women’ in our path throughout the week.  Many of them have been battered by trials that we can’t even fathom.  Some are battling deep depression because they feel like nobody cares.  Some haven’t felt appreciated in a long time.  Who is Father laying on your heart?  Isn’t it time to break away from your own agenda and minister God’s agenda to the ‘other woman?’
© 2004, Stacy R Miller

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

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

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

Relating to One Another

Relating to One Another
Several months ago, our pastor did a series on the “one anothers” in the Bible.   I wanted to do a message on that topic, but relate much of it where many of us live on a daily basis as stay at home moms.

Col. 3:16 tells us that we are to admonish and teach one another.  Maybe God hasn’t called you to teach a Sunday school class.  Even so, you can teach and admonish your children, or even ladies in the church who are looking for one to mentor them.

James 5:16 tells us to confess our sins to one another.  When confessing our sins to another, we need wisdom to know who would be a trusting person for us to approach.  I remember hearing about a man who was struggling with homosexuality.  He approached a leader of the church.  What he said in confidence was told to everyone.  It’s no wonder that this man has turned back to the homosexual community.

James 5:16 also mentions that we are to pray for one another.  First, we need to be faithful in praying for those in our own household.  We also need to remember to pray for others and maybe the best way to do that is to dedicate one day a week for lifting up the needs of others.  Some of them may not have anyone else who will pray for them.

Rom. 12:10 tells us to honor one another above ourselves.  This is a good practice to start in the home.  It is good teaching for our children.  We live in such a selfish, “me-oriented” society.  It is good to make the choice to honor others above ourselves.  While it is virtuous to practice this outside the home,  it is more honorable to practice it in the home with those whom God has entrusted to our care.

Gal. 6:2 tells us that we are to carry each other’s burdens.  It goes on to say that this will fulfill the law of Christ.  Which law?  The one that says to love your neighbor as yourself.  I saw this in action right after our town was flooded.  It was incredible to see people setting aside their own agenda and going to help others who had lost so much.

I Thess. 4:18; 5:11, and Heb. 10:25 all tell us to encourage one another.  Sometimes that may be in person.  Sometimes it may be just a phone call.  Another way to encourage is by sending a card or a note.  When you send something, the person can read it over and over, and be encouraged each time they read it.  We can practice this in our homes as well.  A note in a child’s lunch can mean so much to them as they go through hard times.  A friend of mine discovered all of the notes which she had written to her son.  He had saved them all, and she “happened” to see them one day while in his room.  We can do this for our husband’s as well.  What about sending him a card to his work address?  What about tucking away an encouraging note in his luggage as he prepares to leave town?  If you don’t know what to say to encourage him, just tell him that you will be ready and waiting for him when he gets home!  That alone will speak volumes to him.

II Cor. 1:4  tells us to comfort one another with the comfort we have received.  We don’t have to use eloquent words.  A simple hug, along with letting them know that you are praying for them will mean a lot.  When I miscarried, the one  thing I needed to hear was that it would get better, but no one told me.  Now, when I see others going through things, I am able to share that with them, in hopes that it will help them.  We can practice this with our children as well.  When they have been betrayed by a friend (or a number of other scenarios), we can comfort them by sharing with them a time when we faced the same thing.

Col. 3:13 tells us to forgive one another.  I can’t stress the importance of this.  Many years ago, I struggled with chronic colitis.  I was on so much medication for it.  As I began studying on deliverance, I found that I had a lot of unforgiveness in my heart, which had opened the door to the colitis.  I had to forgive, not just because our Lord demands it, but I had to forgive so that I could live a full life again.  I am thrilled to tell you that once the unforgiveness was gone, so was the colitis.  It has been gone now for over 10 years.  We need to be sure and ask for forgiveness from our children and our spouse, and to grant them forgiveness when they have done wrong.

We are to love one another.  (I Jn. 3:11, Rom. 12:10, James 2:8)  In I Pet. 1:22
we find that we are to love one another deeply, from the heart.  We are to have a sincere (without pretense, genuine) love for one another.  Many times it is easy to say, “I love you.”  What is often harder is putting action behind our words.  Action means that we are setting aside our own agenda for the good of someone else.

Gal. 5:13 tells us to serve one another in love.  This is a hard one for me when evening comes and I am so tired.  I want someone to serve ME!  But if I follow scripture, I must crucify my flesh once again, and serve my family in love, no matter how tired I am.

Eph. 4:31-32 tells us to be kind to one another.  This is another one that needs to be practiced consistently in the home.  I often find myself barking orders to my daughter instead of speaking kindly to her.  I have been faithfully asking Father to help me to learn to be kind to my daughter in spite of how frustrated I may be with her.

Rom. 12:16 tells us to live in harmony with each other.  In the Webster’s Thesaurus, it mentions having an even balance.  How many times do we disrupt harmony in our homes because we aren’t living a balanced life?  I saw this in my own life over the summer.  Because I homeschool an only child, I try to get her involved in several activities over the summer.  This year I found that I overdid it.  There wasn’t much harmony in the home because “If Momma ain’t happy, ain’t no one happy!”  At the time of this writing, we have had two days of having to be nowhere.  While I have been very busy over these two days, I have been happy, calm, and content.  It has brought much needed balance and harmony to our home.

Eph. 4:2 tells us to bear with one another.  In our homes, this might mean learning to listen to both sides of the story before making a judgment.  It could also mean to discern whether something was done because of childlike immaturity, rather than defiance.  As mothers, we run in an exhausted mode much of the time.  It can be very hard to bear with others, when the “others” are those in our own home.  In those times, we need to remember that God is right there, just waiting for us to call upon Him to help us.
Precious Jesus, You gave us such wonderful examples of how to treat others.  Help us to put those examples into action in our own homes, then help us take them out to a lost and dying world.  Amen.
© 2003, Stacy R Miller

Reality Marriage

Reality Marriage

There are so many “reality shows” on TV right now.  Yet, when I have wasted some time watching them, they aren’t “reality” at all.  The only reality that I have seen in so many of them is that you will get hurt emotionally, you will have people stab you in the back, and you will end up looking like a fool in most scenarios.

So many “lovestruck” couples get ideas in their heads of what marriage is going to be for them.  Shortly after they say “I do,” their “reality” sets in.  While women find fulfillment in relationships, men find fulfillment in their accomplishments.  They find fulfillment in being able to cross one more item off of their lifelong list of things to do, and getting married is usually one of those items.  While the wife wants to nurture their relationship, have candlelight dinners, and cuddle on the couch together, the man may be looking at his agenda, searching for the next thing to conquer.  For the bride who has the “lovestruck” notion that her new husband will meet all of her needs, she finds that she is bitterly disappointed.

TV doesn’t help in the view of marriage.  There are so many shows which have fairy tale endings such as Cinderella.  Her prince charming comes and dashes her away to live a perfect life, willing to meet her every wish.  We all know that isn’t reality.  Reality is that over 50% of marriages will fail.  Reality is that there are many wives who face physical or emotional abuse on a daily basis.

Ladies, your husband will fail at some point.  Maybe he won’t ever beat you or commit adultery.  Praise God if he doesn’t!  However, we need to remember that he is just a man, and man will at some point have failures to face.  How we, as wives, respond to those failures will speak volumes to him.  When failure hits him, he is going to be dealing with a myriad of emotions and thoughts.  He may feel worthless, fearful, stressed, insignificant, or unloved, just to name a few.  His self-esteem may be at an all-time low.  As the woman who has vowed to honor and cherish this man, we must guard our words, as well as our body language when he faces these troublesome times.

One thing we often try to do is help him, but we do it in our own strength, rather than depending on the Lord.  By continuing in our own strength, we may blurt out, “I told you it was a bad idea!”  So much for following the biblical mandate to encourage one another!  (Heb. 3:13, 10:25) Poor hubby already knows it was a bad idea; that’s why it failed!  He doesn’t need us to remind him of that failure, making him feel like more of a failure himself.

It’s important to remember that when we face failures, we often view ourselves as being the failure, when in reality, the failure came through something which we may have done.  There is a difference.  For instance, if I try a new recipe and it turns out terrible, that doesn’t mean that I am a failure at cooking.  It just means that particular recipe was a failure.  I have to move on to another meal, forgetting about the previous one.

We must be diligent to pray even more aggressively during these times.  God is willing to give us wisdom when we ask for it.  (James 1:5) What we  think we should say to him may not be the wisest thing to say, so we must stay connected to the Lord, trusting Him to help us be an encourager.  We are told in scripture to bear one another’s burdens.  (Gal. 6:2) Many times we think of doing this to those outside of our home, but whose burden would be better to bear than our spouse’s?  After all, we did vow to love him in the good times and the bad times.

We need to be considerate of his feelings and moodiness.  Let him know that you are there for him if he wants to talk, but let him know that you don’t want to force him to talk if silent reflection is what he feels that he needs for the moment.  My husband has been going through some real trials lately.  On top of that, he is overwhelmed with three jobs that loom before him.  It seems like he is running into difficulty with all three jobs.  While letting him vent to me this morning, I casually mentioned a couple of things which the Lord has recently shown me, and gently suggested that he try looking at his tasks in the same way.  I believe that part of why he was receptive to this is because I take the time to ask him about his work.  I also ask if there is anything I can do to help, and I sympathize with what he is feeling.  I don’t try to solve his problem, or attack his manhood by telling him that he is doing it all wrong.  I give him the listening ear that he needs, and then he is receptive to a gentle, biblically based admonition, because I’m not preaching at him.  I am just gently instructing him on something that I have been praying about in my own life, and sharing what God has shown me.

When your husband is facing bitter disappointments, be sure to tell him that you’re sorry it didn’t work out like he had hoped.  Tell him that you can certainly understand how discouraged he must be.  After you have taken time to acknowledge the situation, along with his feelings about it, then you may find it appropriate to gently remind him that God hasn’t ever failed you, so you have confidence in God’s ability to see him through this time.  Remind him that God has started a good work in him, and God will carry it through to completion.  Phil. 1:6

In closing, we need to remember that God made man with an intense need for sex.  When he is going through troublesome times that leave him feeling like less of a man, we can do a fabulous job by being responsive in that area.  We may even need to be the initiators, letting him know that we still find him desirable.  That physical release can be a huge help to a man who is facing some stressful times.  Make it fun for him to be home.  I have mentioned before how we, as wives, should make the home a refuge from the things of life.  At times, that refuge may simply be in the bedroom.
© 2003, Stacy R Miller

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