Tag Archives: Proverbs

Dear America

Dear America,

Let me start by telling you who I am. I am an American citizen who has, my entire life, been proud to be an American. I was raised by a wonderful mother who taught me about patriotism and service to my country. She taught me hard word and personal responsibility. I am a Christian; I believe in a sovereign God who forgives, love, and redeems. I am veteran of the United States Coast Guard; and I am proud of that. I am the proud wife of a United States soldier; I am proud to be married to a man who loves his country and his family enough to be willing to lay down his life, if need be. I am a mom of two very sweet and adorable little girls. I am a college graduate who worked hard for my education; I paid for my education through my service in the military. And lastly, I am distressed.

2 Chronicles 7:14 If my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.

America, I am distressed that our priorities and values have gotten so discombobulated. What has happened to the values that this nation was founded upon? What has happened to the nations love for family and country? What has happened to the base of our government being the constitution? I used to find myself getting angered at the ridiculous decisions our government made, but now, more often than not, I just find myself getting saddened.

As a society, we have messed up priorities. We value the life and entertainment that a professional sports player offers more than the sacrifice that the members of our military offer. We value TV villains more than police officers. We value actors and actresses more than teachers. Why is it that the most important jobs in our society, jobs that are necessary to a functioning society, get paid the least and are the most thankless? When did we, as a nation, quit caring about the things that truly matter?

Proverbs 16:2 – All the ways of a man are pure in his own eyes, but the Lord weighs the spirit.

My husband, a U.S. soldier, wants to go back school and as a service member he should be able to use his tuition assistance and easily have it paid for. But due to budget cuts, the military has cut all funding for tuition assistance until further notice. I know that I can’t be the only one who thinks that, that is absolutely ridiculous. How can we take tuition assistance away from our military and yet we still provide educations in prisons and jails?

What has happened to personal responsibility? Too many of us live with a sense of entitlement; like just because we’re living in breathing we deserve to have everything handed to us without working for it. Why do we think that? Because that’s what our culture and our government have taught us. Our government has said that if we don’t want to work, if just want to sit at home and have an excuse for not providing for our families, that’s okay. Don’t worry about any personal responsibility, it’s not your fault, it’s because of your parents and the way you were raised, it’s because of you grew up in poverty, it’s because your mom didn’t feed you all organic as a kid. We can come up with a excuse for everything, but what it really comes down to is that too many of us fail to take responsibility for our own actions and choices. What we do is no one else’s fault but our own.

Ezekiel 18:20The soul who sins shall die. The son shall not suffer for the iniquity of the father, nor the father suffer for the iniquity of the son. The righteousness of the righteous shall be upon himself, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon himself.

I am heartbroken and pensive about how far we have gotten from God. I know that this is a strongly controversial statement, but abortion is wrong. This is the ultimate failure of personal responsibility. My heart is heavy for the millions of women who have believed the lie that abortion was the only option. I am filled with compassion and sorrow for a nation that has been and is still lying to women that abortion will solve all their problems. Whether you want to believe it or not, abortion IS murder. If God is in control of all things and we only have what comes from him, then who are we to say that we have the right to take the life a child that HE created. I don’t really care what the good ol’ scientists say about when life begins. According to God’s Word, life begins at the MOMENT OF CONCEPTION. And who am I to argue with God?

Ecclesiastes 11:5As you do not know the way the spirit comes to the bones in the womb of a woman with child, so you do not know the work of God who makes everything.

Job 31:15Did not he who made me in the womb make him? And did not one fashion us in the womb?

Psalm 139:13-16For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.

Exodus 20:13You shall not murder

We believe everything we’re told that abortion doesn’t hurt the woman, abortion is the best thing you can do for an unplanned pregnancy, abortion will solve the “problem” that your choices caused. They wouldn’t really allow something to be legal if it was bad for us, right? Oh how wrong we are. If there is nothing wrong with abortion, then why do women feel trapped in secrecy and shame afterwards? Most women numb themselves to the emotional and mental effects of the abortion because of the basic human need of self-preservation (and they don’t even recognize they’re doing it). Feeling the pain simply hurts too much. There is only One who can heal the pain of an abortion and that is God. It’s hard to believe, at least to me anyway, that He can forgive that, but that’s part of the marvel of Jesus’ death on the cross. All can be forgiven! I’d love to talk more about abortion and its effect on the woman, but this is not the place for that.

1 John 1:9If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

Personal responsibility; we’re all looking for a way around dealing with the consequences of our actions and our government is us a “quick fix” for everything. What we fail to understand is that those consequences don’t go away; they just get postponed or pushed into something else.

America was founded on Judeo-Christian values: free will – being free to make our own choices, personal, moral accountability – being responsible for our own choices and actions whether they are good or bad and dealing with the consequences, and a true moral law – which stems from Christ and the Jewish prophets.

Luke 6:46Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do what I tell you?

It’s heart wrenching to see the state our nation is in now. It saddens me that over half of our children don’t know what a successful marriage looks like. It’s depressing that God has been so far removed from our government and our society that anything related to religion is outlawed or banned. We wonder why or how things could’ve gotten as bad as they are now, and there’s only one answer for that – we refuse to acknowledge God’s sovereignty.

Isaiah 60:12For the nation and kingdom that will not serve you shall perish; those nations shall be utterly laid waste.

Psalm 33:12Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord, the people whom he has chosen as his heritage!

It may not be within my lifetime, but I think that this country, as much as I love it, is headed for self-destruction if we don’t get our focus back where it needs to be – on God.

Joel 2:12Yet even now,” declares the Lord, “return to me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning;”

Proverbs 14:34 Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people.

I would like to take a minute to note that none of which is written above is to be meant with judgment or anger, but my intention is love and hope. I hope that, one day, our nation will turn back to its foundations – back towards God. I hope that, one day, we will welcome Him back into our country. But until then, I trust Him and His plan for me and my family in the midst of the pain and suffering.

Sincerely,

A Broken Hearted, Jesus Following American

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Because I am Beautiful

I know I can’t be the only person who is appalled by what our society deems as beautiful. The messages we, as women, receive about beauty and success just make me sad. I googled the word “beauty” and the picture to the left is one of this first things that came up. It simply makes me sad for our next generation of girls who don’t know and understand how God sees them. Then I googled “Godly beauty” and the image to the right was one of the first results. There’s a big difference between what the world sees as beautiful vesus what God sees as beautiful.

We receive the message that we’re not beautiful unless we are very thin and wear designer clothing and we’re not successful unless we’re beautiful. And unless we’re beautiful and successful, we’re unlovable. For a long time, those messages shaped who I was and who I wanted to be. From a very young age I wanted to be thinner. I never felt good enough. I felt ashamed of my “ugliness” and I turned to extreme measures to try to find some comfort and control. I just knew that if I wanted to be beautiful then I needed to be thinner. I have tried to lose weight through the unhealthy obsession of an eating disorder. I have tried to manage the shame of that eating disorder through self-harm. It’s a vicious cycle. The more out of control I felt, the more control I tried to grab a hold of; but the more control tried to grasp for, the more control I lost.

All I wanted was to be beautiful because I wanted love. I never had the reaffirming love of my dad while I was growing up, so I turned to ridiculous places to find it. I didn’t find love in alcohol, I didn’t find love in self harm, I didn’t find love in an eating disorder. As I got older, I was beginning to believe that I would never find love.

But, better late than never, my dad showed me love. He showed me the love of an unfailing, all-powerful, sovereign God. As I began to understand who God was, I began to understand who He said I was and what He said was beautiful.

1 Peter 3:3-4 – Do not let your adorning be external—the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear— but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious.

1 Samuel 16:7 – But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.”

God doesn’t see beauty in our external appearance. Beauty doesn’t come from our weight or our clothes, but beauty comes from our heart. God doesn’t see the way the world sees. When the world judges us by our outward appearance, God looks into our hearts and sees our real selves, our hidden lives. That can be comforting or terrifying, depending on how we see God. If I try to find beauty based on the world’s standards, I will never be satisfied. But based on God’s standards, I am already beautiful and love by my Heavenly Father. I don’t like to dress up and I don’t like to wear make up, but guess what? God still loves me unconditionally and thinks I am beautiful. I am His daughter and He loves me, no matter how I look.

Song of Solomon 4:7 – You are altogether beautiful, my love; there is no flaw in you.

Isaiah 43:1 – But now thus says the Lord, he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel: “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine.”

Proverbs 31:30 – Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.

God doesn’t love me BECAUSE I am beautiful; rather, I am beautiful because He loves me.

When we look at what we think is beautiful, do we ever think about why we think certain things are beautiful? I learned a great lesson from watching VeggieTales’ Sweetpea Beauty with the girls. I’m not the one who finds beauty in everything, God does, but I simply choose to agree with Him.

I wish I could get rid of the messages that we’re not good enough, we’re not thin enough, and we’re not pretty enough. But society continues to pour out those messages and there’s not much I can do to stop it. However, I can counteract them with the Word of God. I can counteract those messages with choosing to not believe them and to believe who God says I am.

Psalm 139:14 – I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well.

God didn’t just throw me together from scraps, He knew me intimately and He intricately crafted me with the work of His hands. Who am I to contradict Him?


Human Fragility

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how fragile I was before I came to know and understand the love of God. To look at me, you wouldn’t have thought I was fragile; I had a really tough exterior. But I was an emotional train wreck. A single insult from a friend or a criticism from a family member would send me into a downward spiral of negative thinking and self-analyzing. My self-esteem was in the gutter and my heart felt as if it had been trampled. I was overwhelmed by my own emotions, but I masked it.

I was fragile because I was lonely and I felt unloved. I was fragile because I felt like a failure and I wanted someone to notice me. I was fragile because I didn’t know how to make things better; I only seemed to keep making them worse.

But mostly, I was fragile because I was trying to do life on my own terms and with my own power. I was finding my identity in the things of the world because I didn’t know who God said I was.

Proverbs 27:7 – A person who is full refuses honey, but even bitter food tastes sweet to the hungry.

This verse can easily describe my life before Christ. I was hungry; I was starving for fulfillment. But because I was so hungry for it, I indulged in things that would ultimately harm me and those closest to me. At the time of course, I didn’t realize that the thing that tasted so sweet was really bitter and would come back to bite me.

Isaiah 43:4 – Others were given in exchange for you. I traded their lives for yours because you are precious to me. You are honored, and I love you.

This is who God says I am. I am precious to Him, I am honored, and He loves me. That truth, more than anything else, has helped to remove me from my fragility. When I know who I am in Him, I don’t have to try anymore. I don’t have to keep striving to find love and acceptance. I don’t have to give in to what the world wants of me because it is not the world who defines me. The best definition of something (someone) comes from the One who created it. So I will choose to listen to who God says I am, over who the world says I am.

Ephesians 2:4-5 – But God is so rich in mercy, and he loved us so much, that even though we were dead because of our sins, he gave us life when he raised Christ from the dead. (It is only by God’s grace that you have been saved!)

Grace…what a beautiful thing! I am still in awe of the grace that God continues to show me every day. He brought me back to life and saved me from my sins. It is only in His power alone that I can trust to make it through this life. Thankfully though, this life is not what I was made for. Like the old Switchfoot song says, “we were meant live for so much more.” God made us for so much more than what this world has to offer and I look forward to the day that I get to experience that in Heaven.

So in case you are wondering if I am still fragile? Yes, I am, but I am protected. I am still a very emotional person. I still cry when my feelings are hurt. I still want to avoid confrontation with other people. I am still human. But, I know now what I didn’t know before. And that is: that in the midst of sadness, pain, anger, frustration, and hurt, God is there for me and my identity is found in Him. Now, whenever I face a moment that would have before broken me, I can turn to God. I can fall into His open arms and let Him hold me together. Because I am His daughter and He loves me!

This life may hurt sometimes, but when God has helped me through the pain, I’ll be better for it on the other side.


The Challenge: BE REAL!

The past month or so has been a month of incredibly convicting sermons. Today’s sermon was Submit to the Bible in Community. It was so good, I went back to hear it a second time ;). This sermon made me aware of an issue in my life that I knew was there, but that I think I have been a bit blinded to.

In life we are confronted with two communities – the community of the wise and the community of the foolish. As we grow, we must choose which community to join.

Proverbs 13:20 – Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise, but the companion of a fool will suffer harm.

When we’re upset, need advice, or are going through a hard time, we turn to our friends. However, our friends may not be able to advise us if they are of the foolish kind. Our friends may advise us down a harmful path, away from God. Which is why we need wise community. We need wise friends who aren’t afraid to share the truth with us, even if it’s not what we want to hear.

We are influenced by those who we associate with, so why would anyone choose to associate with foolish people? They’ll simply become foolish.

I know from my life, this past year (since I became a Christian) has been one of great inner turmoil for me, in terms of trying to find a community where I fit in. I have my non-Christian friends who I was friends with before my Christian life began and I have made new, wise, Christian friends who have been supportive and encouraging. Now, here’s where I stumble. Wise community is harder; it requires more honesty and vulnerability. Wise community is REAL! Foolish community on the other hand is easier, but still rather difficult; it requires masks, lies, and quick fixes for sin. Foolish community is shallow while wise community is deep.

A few days ago I posted a blog about my venture into vulnerability and finding friendship since I’ve been a Christian, so it’s kind of ironic to me that this would be our sermon today. Clearly, something I am struggling with and need to address.

I’ve often rejected wise community, feeling not good enough or like I just don’t fit in. And I’ve gone running back to my foolish community because it’s safe, guarded, and predictable.

Proverbs 12:15 – The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but a wise man listens to advice.

Fools will fail to realize what the wise know, listening is the way to learn.

Small groups are a place for us to connect with one another and share our triumphs and struggles, a place where we can pray with each other and for each other, a place where we can be open and honest, a place where we focus on the truths of the Bible.

The whole honesty in small group thing is something I’m just starting to understand. My small group community is made up of amazing, wonderful people. When I first started attending I felt a bit out of a place, and actually quit going for a little while, making up excuses (some legit, some not) about why I couldn’t make it. I was afraid of them. I was afraid, if they only found out who I really was, they would kick me out in a heartbeat. But that’s where I’m wrong, they’re not concerned with who I was because now I am in Christ and I am a new creation.

But back to the point, we need to listen to the Biblical wisdom given to us from our community and respond to God’s Word. Just because there is a Bible in the room, doesn’t mean you’re listening.

The Word is out there and we need to pay attention.

Proverbs 24:11 – Rescue those who are being taken away to death; hold back those who are stumbling to the slaughter.

Being in community with others isn’t just about friendship, although that is a part of it. But it is also about discipleship.

Part of being in a community is to be missional. Be a disciple and lead others to be disciples. Care for other people, even those who are messing up their lives.

There is nothing like a common interest or task, a mission, to bring people together. We often think that we must bond with people and create strong friendships before we can do a hard job with them. But in actuality, it’s the exact opposite, doing a hard job together or being on mission together, even with strangers, bonds people together in a way that nothing else can. I’ve seen this first hand in Guatemala.

Proverbs 27:10 – Do not forsake your friend and your father’s friend, and do not go to your brother’s house in the day of your calamity. Better is a neighbor who is near than a brother who is far away.

If you’re in a crisis, it’s better to have nearby assistance from a friend than to have to drive hours to get to family

Although our birth families are important, so is our spiritual family. Jesus said in Mark 3:35 – For whoever does the will of God, he is my brother and sister and mother. We are all a part of Jesus’ family because it is our mission to do the will of God.

My missional community, my small group, IS family. We’ve all been adopted by GRACE into God’s family.

Proverbs 28:13 – Whoever conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will obtain mercy.

I hate admitting when I am wrong. There’s something that is totally just unnatural about it. But I admire those who are. I admire those who can lay all their sins and wrongs out for all to see, and still be happy. I’m working on being one of those people. The first step toward forgiveness is confession. BE REAL!!

Proverbs 10:8 – The wise of heart will receive commandments, but a babbling fool will come to ruin.

I’ve got to admit “submissive” isn’t a term that I like very much. In our society, being submissive is equated with being weak. And I don’t know about you, but I don’t like to come across as weak.

So my pastor showed us a picture of a dog lying on his back, legs in the air, submitting to his master. This is how God wants us to submit. He wants us to submit joyfully, waiting to receive goodness from Him.

Being submissive to God, His Word, and community is needed in order to grow. We need to continue to grow.

The only way we can see God as good is through the Gospel, and if we are convinced God is good, then we will also be convinced that His plan for my life is good. God became man and gave Himself up to give us His righteousness. If we believe that about God, it is easy to submit to Him.

I struggle with picking a side – wise or foolish. I seem to have a problem with bouncing back and forth. So here’s my decision: I want to be in community with the wise. I want to invite the foolish in so that they may experience the greatness of God, but until they make the decision to enter on their own, I will continue to love them and pray for them.

So now that I pick the wise, I struggle with being honest about who I am and where I am in life, although recently I have made great progress in this aspect. I struggle with following God’s will in mission instead of my own. I struggle with submitting to God’s Word instead of the words of the foolish people around me.

Will you take the challenge with me, to remove your mask and let people see who you really are? To be vulnerable and open? The pursue God’s will over your own? To trust God’s Word above all else?


The Words You Say

This morning I was taught a lesson about the words I say, from the sermon at church. I hope my pastor doesn’t mind that I often blog about his sermons. Here’s some of my notes from the sermon, with a few of my own thoughts thrown in there 🙂

“Sticks and stones may break your bones, but words can never hurt you.” I think that is a lie. I can’t tell you how many times I heard that while I was growing up. But it’s not true. Words can hurt more than any physical pain because the damage of words can’t be healed as quickly and easily as physical injuries.

Proverbs 18:21 – Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruit.

The Power of Words
Our words have the power to hurt people or heal them, it depends on how we use them. Our words don’t have to be eloquent or Shakespearian, they just need to be honest and loving.

Proverbs 12:18 – There is one whose rash words are like sword thrusts, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.

Words have the power to break a heart and inflict an unspeakable amount of damage, but words, if used wisely, also have the power to heal the most shattered of lives. Words can be used like a machete, leaving a mess of destruction in their path or like a scalpel, being used to specifically and precisely heal wounds.

Proverbs 27:6 – Faithful are the wounds of a friend; profuse are the kisses of an enemy

Proverbs 12:25 – Anxiety in a man’s heart weighs him down, but a good word makes him glad.

Many of us fall in to one of two categories when it comes to the nature of our speech. We speak the truth, not paying attention to how we come across, the effect our words have on people, or without love and kindness. Or, we speak with kindness, trying to show love and protect those we are speaking to, but never really speaking the truth (this is the category I fall in to). But the problem is, we need to speak with truth and kindness in our words.

Our words should be direct, but also gentle.

Proverbs 15:1 – A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.

Words have a unique kind of power that can increase the intensity of a situation or they can have the power to calm and restore order to disorder and chaos. How will you choose to use your words?

Proverbs 10:11 – The mouth of the righteous is a fountain of life, but the mouth of the wicked conceals violence. 

The Beauty of Words
Proverbs 24:26 – Whoever gives an honest answer kisses the lips.

I like the imagery portrayed in this verse. There’s a certain type beauty that is seen/felt in a kiss that is nearly impossible to explain. I mean, sure, you can explain about how a kiss happens, but in that explanation, the beauty of a kiss seems to get lost. So it also is with honesty – the beauty of honesty is hard to explain, but once you’ve seen/felt the beauty of it, you’ll never forget it.

Proverbs 25:11 – A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in a setting of silver

We need to be thoughtful about the words we speak and chose our words carefully. Using the “right words” doesn’t mean that they have to be big $10 words that make you sound like you are the most educated person on earth; the right words and words that are spoken with truth and kindness. 

The Source of Words
Proverbs 15:28 – The heart of the righteous ponders how to answer, but the mouth of the wicked pours out evil things.

Do you think before you speak? I know I REALLY struggle with that. I have a huge problem just saying the first thing that pops into my mouth without thinking about the consequences of the things I say. Just because we think/feel something, doesn’t necessarily mean we have to say it. I don’t think most of us would ever intentionally speak words to wound the people we love, but we all do it – too often I think, because we don’t think about our words before we speak them.

Proverbs 4:23 – Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life.

The righteous man who’s guarding his heart recognizes that he is sinful to the core, and that all the things that originate in his heart don’t need to be spoken. (I wish I had taken more notes during the sermon about this section.)

 

 

When we consider the words we use, we need to think, do we really understand The Word?

John 1:1-3 – In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not anything made that was made.

Do we understand that Jesus came to the earth speaking the truth with kindness in his words? He spoke the truth of God, grace, love, and hope. He spoke those words with gentleness and kindness because He loves us more than we can ever imagine. Glorious!

 


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