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

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The Pacifier

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The Pacifier

I remember when Rachel was an infant.  She just had to have her pacifier if she was sleeping.  The instant it would fall out of her mouth, the peace in the household would quickly dissipate!  Once I would pop it back in for her, a sense of calm would fill the house again, at least for a few more minutes!

You may ask, “What does a pacifier have to do with me?”  Well, everything!  I looked up the word ‘pacify’ in the Webster’s New World Dictionary, and it says that pacify means “to make peaceful, calm, nonhostile, etc.”  Have you ever felt that you needed a ‘pacifier,’ even as an adult?  I wish that I could answer no to that question, but the truth is, I need a pacifier on a daily basis, many times I need it on a minute by minute basis.

Jeremiah 17:9 says, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and it is exceedingly perverse and sick!”  (AMP) Do you ever have times when your heart is causing you to have some terrible thoughts, thoughts that could be considered hostile?  Well, you need a pacifier!

Luke 6:45 says that out of the abundance of our heart, our mouth speaks.  Do your words ever make the peaceful atmosphere of your home disappear in a matter of seconds?  (Ouch, that one really hurt!)  Again, you need a pacifier.

Prov. 16:32 says, “He who is slow to anger is better than the mighty, he who rules his own spirit than he who takes a city.”  (AMP)  When we are quick to anger, we are showing that indeed, we do need a pacifier.

Just as a baby needs a pacifier for comfort when they have fallen down, we often fall ourselves.  Not physically, but spiritually.  We know what we should be doing, but many times we miss the mark.  Paul talked about how he wanted to do good, but evil was right there with him.  There was that spiritual struggle, waging war against the law of his mind and trying to make him a prisoner of the law of sin.  Paul saw that he, too, needed a pacifier because in the next few verses he says, “What a wretched man I am!  Who will rescue me from this body of death?  Thanks be to God — through Jesus Christ our Lord!”  Rom. 7:24-25 (AMP)

Jesus came to be our pacifier.  He came to forgive us for our sins and to give us life abundantly.  Part of that life abundantly is for us to be at peace, to have a sense of calm about us, and to put off those filthy garments of hostility and ill-will.

Why don’t you take those daily struggles which you face (you know which ones), and turn them over to the Lord?  He wants to help you, and show you what a wonderful Pacifier that He can be in your life.
© 2004, Stacy R Miller

Terrorist Attack

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Terrorist Attacks

When we hear the term ‘terrorists,’ most of us will think back to the terrifying events of September 11, 2001.  We weren’t doing anything to warrant such a vicious and unexpected attack, and it became very clear in the days following the attack that it was a very strategic one.  It was carefully planned to have the utmost impact.

I remember discussing the idea of starting this Internet ministry with a dear friend.  I was wanting her thoughts and any wisdom she had to share.  Her husband quickly mentioned that I should be on guard against attacks of the enemy.  After much prayer and input from other close confidantes, I launched this ministry and was amazed at how fast it took off and began to flourish.  I kept watching for an attack, yet none seemed to be coming.  Finally, I became lax about being watchful for the enemy’s attacks.  Satan caught my laxness and launched a vicious attack against me and my family.  A spiritual terrorist had invaded my home, and I was completely unprepared for the war in which I found myself fighting.

It started slowly — we discovered those nasty carpenter ants had invaded our home.  Shortly after we began treating that, a tornado went directly over our home.  Thankfully, it didn’t touch down until it has passed over us.  I breathed a sigh of relief and my heart was turned to praising God over and over for His watchful care and protection.

Suddenly, within a period of about three weeks, Rachel developed a chronic cough that not only was untreatable with codeine, but we discovered after two sleepless nights that codeine was a stimulant to her system, rather than a suppressant.  My husband has faced a myriad of problems with his job — nothing really big, but rather, those little things that tend to nag at you, destroying your sense of peace and order.  Nevertheless, it’s been quite trying for all of us.  Then the car had some major repairs.  When I went to pick up the car, it never even made it home!  Thus, more costly repairs followed the very next day.

The ‘straw that broke the camel’s back’ for me was Mother’s Day weekend.  That is a very emotional weekend for me, being that I miscarried my first baby only a few weeks before Mother’s Day.  Even with as thankful as I am to have Rachel, there will always be the memory of my first Mother’s Day, spent with a heart that was grieving, dreams that had been shattered.  This same weekend, Dean made some critical comments to me that really wounded me.  I was an emotional wreck anyway (but he didn’t realize that), and then when adding to my fragile state-of-mind that words of affirmation is my primary love language, you can understand why his words were so hurtful.  Anyone who thrives on words of affirmation is crushed when someone is critical of them.  Any criticisms must be spoken gently, and with much love.  Instead of having an enjoyable weekend, I spent the entire day crying.

Not realizing that a spiritual terrorist attack was underway, I began to listen to the lies of the enemy.  I’m sure that many of you have heard these kinds of lies coming from Satan:
–You have no business teaching other women when it’s obvious your husband isn’t happy with the way you are taking care of things here.
— And to think that you were thinking of yourself as one who is becoming a Proverbs 31 lady!  You’re not even close!
— Who are you to teach others about submission when your husband thinks you do a terrible job in that area?
— You do a poor job of showing biblical love to your family, yet you think you have something to do teach others!  Get real — you can’t do ANYTHING right!
— You are a terrible housekeeper, a terrible mother, a terrible wife, a terrible Christian!  Who are trying to kid?

In actuality, my husband’s words had absolutely nothing to do with being loving, submissive, caring, or with the ministry to which God has called me.  His words had nothing do with the kind of wife and mother I am.  Satan had taken one little hurtful comment from my husband and twisted it to unleash an awful terrorist attack upon my thinking.

Thankfully, the Lord spoke to me and asked me what I knew about my husband’s character.  Here are some of the things He asked me:
— Is he usually a cruel man?
— Is he rude to me or others?
— Did he have a habit of belittling me or others?
— Would he ever purposely say something that he knew would deeply hurt me?
— If he knew that I was grieving over the miscarriage, would he have spoken something that could have hurt me so badly?  The answer to all of these questions was ‘NO!’

Next, the Lord gently reminded me that I had recently mailed out the devotions about how He’d set me free from a violent temper.  He reminded me of the many responses I received after writing about my own struggles.  Suddenly, I realized that without even knowing what I was doing, I had launched a terrorist attack on the forces of hell, and now they were fighting back.  It became crystal clear to me why on Mother’s Day weekend my husband spoke something that hurt me so badly.  Satan saw my frame of mind, and he used my husband’s words to try to get me to give up on everything.  What better way to attack a woman whose desire is to be a virtuous, godly, submissive, loving, and respectful wife?  What better way than to attack a stay-at-home mom — attack her in a way that makes her feel that she can’t do anything right, and that even her own husband doesn’t appreciate her!
Stay-at-home moms expect that the world won’t value or appreciate them for the sacrifices they make, or for the job they do in raising up a godly generation.  What we don’t expect is to hear criticisms (valid or not) from our husband!

The Lord had given me a clear picture of Satan’s terrorist attack against me. (II Cor. 2:11) Now it was my turn to stand against those schemes. (Eph. 6:11) I quickly went to Psalm 91 and declared every promise there for my household.  I began to pray more strategic prayers, using missiles filled with the blood of Jesus to stop the scud missiles of spiritual darkness in the heavenly realms. (Eph. 6:12) I began to mentally put on the armor of God (Eph. 6:13), being especially mindful of the helmet of salvation to protect my thinking — making sure that my thoughts lined up to the truth, and not thinking upon those things which came from the Father of Lies. (Jn. 8:44)

I wish that I could tell you that this terrorist attack from Satan was over.  Unfortunately, we are still dealing with attacks, even in a physical sense.  Rachel had a pinched nerve in her neck just last week, not to mention several stomachaches.  I have been hit physically in a couple of ways recently.  The onslaught does continue, but I’m using my greatest weapons — prayer, quoting the Word, and fighting back through the power and authority I’ve been given through Jesus Christ.

So, here’s a breakdown of how to handle it when we are hit with a terrorist attack:
1.  Don’t ever quit being on guard against the enemy for yourself, or for your family.
2.  Realize that Mother’s Day is a great weekend for Satan to attack you.  Satan doesn’t want you to realize the impact you have on your children and your husband!  If you have times of the year that are exceptionally emotional times for you, warn your family ahead of time that you may be especially emotional.  Ask them to try to be mindful of your raw emotions, and to grant some extra grace to you during those times.
3.  When something happens between you and your husband, don’t listen to all of that twisted conversation that comes directly from Satan.  Rather, repeat to yourself what you know to be true about your husband.
4.  Speak the Word over yourself and your family on a consistent basis.  It will help to alleviate those terrorist attacks, and the attacks that do still come will be lessened if you are filled up with the Word of God.
5.  Talk to a trusted friend who can help pray you through.  Keep in mind – I’m not talking about calling her up and ‘husband bashing.’  I’m talking about mentioning some of the concerns you have, listening for some insights from her, and agreeing in prayer together.
6.  Ask God what He is trying to teach you when you go through spiritual attacks and trials.  This pleases God to know that you aren’t so consumed with your problems that you can’t keep looking for Him to show you some awesome lessons.  Then, wait in expectation to see how He answers you!  I can personally testify to being in total awe of some of the things God has shown me when I have asked Him what He’s trying to teach me.  In fact, this message was born out of that kind of prayer.

Sister, are you dressed for war?
© 2004, 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

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

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