Voices

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Voices

We are surrounded with voices that tell us what we should do.  There’s the radio, the TV, the newspaper, our friends and family.  The list is endless.  Sometimes it makes it extremely difficult to determine which voice is the correct one.  Even in church, we can be bombarded by the voices of people who feel the need to give us their opinions on issues when we didn’t even ask for their advice.

Many times, I think we have the assumption that the older ladies in the church have much wisdom to share.  While they should have much wisdom to share, there are times when that just isn’t true.  I have seen a few cases where an older woman is nothing more than a busybody, feeling the need to voice her opinion on every issue.

I remember a time when a couple in our church was celebrating over fifty-five years of marriage.  My husband asked the lady later what the secret was to the longevity of their marriage.  She told him that men feel the need to be right about everything, and a smart woman will just be quiet and let him think that way.  I wish I could say that I was shocked by her response, but I wasn’t.  You see, I have seen this older lady in action for years.  Her comment made her husband look really bad.  It was a ‘man-bashing’ comment.  Quite honestly, the need to be right is not just a ‘man thing.’  We all struggle with that issue.  This woman obviously had no idea of what being a help meet was.

A friend of mine shared a time when she and her husband felt that they should get their children involved in an activity that would take up two evenings a week.  Because of taking on this new commitment, she felt the need to step away from a Bible study that was taking place at their church.  (Keep in mind that her family was still going to be attending Sundays and Wednesdays.)  She had several ladies pressuring her to be at this Bible study.  They continued to pressure her even after she expressed that she and her husband felt that this activity was not for them at this time.  She got no affirmation from anybody in the church that she was making the right choice.

When you face times like these, remember that even Jesus said and did things that people didn’t understand.  They were quite vocal in voicing their opinions too!  Some of them were so angry with Him that they decided to throw Jesus off of a cliff.  I love what Jesus did in this situation!  He simply walked right through the crowd and went on His way.  (Luke 4:30)  He didn’t seek their approval.  His approval came from God.  It’s the same for us.  When we know deep in our heart that we are doing the correct thing, we need to remember that it is God’s approval we are seeking, and not the approval of men.  Keeping this in mind makes it easier for us to avoid listening to the wrong voices.

For those who may be married to an unbelieving husband, please don’t let what others think of you take precedence over what your husband thinks of you.  Many times, after a wife gets saved, she quickly wants to get involved in her local church.  While there’s nothing wrong with this, if you see that your husband is quite upset over it, it might be best for you to stay home with him.  You could still get the sermon on tape, watch preaching on TV when your husband isn’t around, and invite some Christian ladies over for some fellowship when he isn’t home.  You may even find a women’s Bible study that meets during the hours when your husband is working.  In this way, you will still be fulfilling the admonition of Hebrews 10:25 that urges us not to give up meeting together with fellow Christians.

There will likely be some well-intentioned ladies may try to sway you to be there for every single service, but these ladies probably haven’t had to live with an unsaved husband who resents these new affections in his wife’s heart.  After all, she’s has a new lover – Jesus, the lover of her soul.  Don’t be swayed by their voices.  By continuing to attend church services when your husband is adamantly opposed to it, you may turn his heart from ever desiring to follow the Lord.  Yet, if you follow the biblical mandate to have the unfading beauty of a spirit that is quiet and gentle, you are going to have your husband wondering just what has taken hold of you!  (I Peter 3:4)

What voices are you hearing?

© 2005, Stacy R. Miller

 

 

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Spiritual Hyenas

Spiritual Hyenas

One behavior common in the animal kingdom is the arrival of hyenas trying to steal the prey from other animals.  Rarely will you see a nature show portraying hyenas on the hunt for live prey.  They let other animals do the hunting, the chasing, and the killing.  They come along after the fact, in hopes of taking the food for which others have worked.

I have seen spiritual hyenas in the church.  These hyenas are too lazy to “hunt” for spiritual meat, so they try to take it from others.  Often times, they even demand that you spoon-feed it to them.

Spiritual hyenas are too apathetic to chase after God.  They may show up at the altar and weep bitter tears, yet walk away unchanged because chasing after God is not something you do only on Sunday.  A healthy spiritual diet requires that we pursue God on a daily basis. (Psalm 61:8; Proverbs 8:17)

Spiritual hyenas refuse to kill their fleshly desires. (Romans 8:13) They also refuse to fight spiritual battles. (Ephesians 6:10-18) They would rather prey on someone who is prayed up and ask them to fight the spiritual battle for them.  Yet God says to put on the full armor of God so that you are able to stand against Satan’s schemes. (Ephesians 6:10) Notice that it does not tell us to find someone else to stand in our place against the devil.

When we allow spiritual hyenas into our life, the results are:

1. We are not giving to them from the overflow of God’s Spirit in us.  Rather, they are stealing our spiritual food and we will quickly become spiritually depleted.
2. Not only do they steal spiritual food from us, they steal glory from God.  If only they would seek the Lord for themselves, God would give them plenty of reasons to praise Him!
3. They begin to seek us instead of God.  In a sense, we become God to them.

We are told to be very wise in the way we live, making the most of every opportunity.  (Ephesians 5:15-16) When we are doing things which seem to be of a spiritual nature, we may think we are still using our time very wisely.  However, spiritual hyenas are very sly and sneaky.  Because of that, we must be careful to guard against them so we do not end up becoming unwise stewards of our time.

Have you become prey to a spiritual hyena?
© 2007, 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

Balcony Seating

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Balcony Seating

When our high school girls’ basketball team went to the state finals several years ago, we bought tickets from some fans of the losing team so we could sit closer to the floor for the evening game. When we arrived, someone else was sitting in our seats. We showed them our ticket stubs, proving the seats were ours and they moved to higher seating.

We allow people who are close to us to take a front row seat into our lives. We discuss personal things with them because they have earned that privilege. Occasionally, we will have individuals who expect front row seating in our lives. Yet, we see the need to put up some boundaries and quickly send them to the balcony of our lives.

For instance, I know a lady who feels the need to frequently tell me that I need to have more children. This woman has a proven reputation of being a busybody, so I quickly move her to balcony seating. The Word speaks against the behavior of being a busybody. (Second Thessalonians 3:11) I choose to stay away from her so that her bad company does not have a chance of corrupting my character. (First Corinthians 15:33)

I had a close friend who began to make foolish choices. After investing a lot of my time and energy on her, I saw she was choosing to continue in her foolish choices. After confronting her on the issues, I chose to move her to the balcony, for a companion of fools suffers harm. (Proverbs 13:20)

If you are trying to watch your words, you may find it necessary to move some people to the balcony in your own life. If we continue to hang out with those who are given to obscene language, foolish talking, and coarse joking, we will have a much harder time breaking that cycle in our own lives. (Proverbs 4:24; Ephesians 5:4)

Perhaps you have a friend who is constantly speaking negatively about her husband. It is so easy fall into the trap of adding your own negative thoughts. Yet, by doing so, you will find it difficult to respect your husband. (Ephesians 5:32) Rather than doing him good, you will likely resort to nagging. (Proverbs 19:13; 21:9, 19) It is time to move this person to the balcony so you can focus on developing the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit. (First Peter 3:4)

Because I know several women who struggle with setting boundaries, I want to give one more example that may hit very close to home for many of you. Sometimes we need to move extended family members to the balcony. If we have extended family members who cannot respect the way we choose to raise our children, and they continually belittle us in front of our children, perhaps it’s time to move them to higher seating. I recently had to do this with a family member. It has been very hard because I thought I had a very close relationship with this person, and often shared very intimate details of my life with her. However, she made it quite clear several months ago how little she thinks of me. I was devastated by her behavior. I have had to do much praying to be able to handle this situation in a godly fashion, especially knowing that my young daughter is closely watching because she was there when all of this transpired. The result has been that I no longer make the weekly phone calls to her, nor will I visit her. However, when there is a need to inform her of something, such as an upcoming clogging performance for my daughter, I will tell her, but I choose to keep the conversation very short. When there are family get-togethers, I attend, and I will speak to her, but refrain from engaging in any in-depth conversation. I still treat her with respect, yet at the same time, I have moved her to balcony seating.

Do you need to move some people to the balcony in your own life?
© Stacy R. Miller