Today for our Sharing Life series I am recycling a post from many years ago that has gotten a lot of traffic. It is a message that is especially tender to me because God took me to the woodshed over it. In fact, my name is emblazoned on the woodshed wall because God seems to take me there quite often. It is called sanctification, or cleaning me up. You too?
In this post we are reminded that sometimes humor is not funny.
Recently I attended a local community event and overheard a conversation that disturbed me greatly. A couple sitting near me were discussing making fun of an obese gentleman who was part of the event, but was not close enough to hear their conversation. After a few moments, their conversation turned to a different topic, but I was left pondering what I had heard.
Allow me to offer a disclaimer of which I am not proud: ten years ago I probably would have joined in the discussion and laughed right along with the couple.
I can still remember my mother telling me, “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.” Unfortunately I did not learn that lesson very well and for many, many years used my tongue to make fun of others and talk about them behind their backs for a host of reasons. Unconsciously, I suppose I reasoned that as long as the person did not actually hear me doing it, I was safe. In truth, it really never occurred to me that my actions were displeasing to God and a sad statement about my relationship with Jesus. My actions spoke like a megaphone to the world about the state of my character. I called myself a Christian, but I was a hypocrite. I looked nothing like Jesus when I made fun of others and talked about them behind their backs. My words were neither encouraging or helpful to anyone.
In 2008 I was confronted with a quote from a flip calendar I received when I attended one of the awesome CLASS speaker training events. The quote by Patsy Clairmont was like a sword piercing deeply within my heart and it placed me under a wagonload of conviction about my actions and words. Consider the quote:
Humor: if it is at someone else’s expense, it isn’t funny.
Suddenly I saw my actions for what they were: sin that grieved the heart of God. I was making fun of another person just so I could have a laugh or, Lord, help me, feel superior to another person. What arrogance! What ugliness!
Over the past few years, I have consistently prayed for the Lord to help me see my sin as He sees it and to help me turn from it. He is doing that!
Do you make fun of others? Do you talk about others behind their backs and in a way that is not pleasing to the Lord? I encourage you to ask the Lord to reveal any tendencies toward this kind of sin in your heart. I know you want to leave a godly legacy and getting rid of this sin is one way to do just that.
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Now, here are links to some books that are funny.
The first speaking engagement God allowed me was on Valentine’s Day weekend in 2008 at Macedonia Baptist Church in Hiawassee, Georgia. The event was the church’s annual widow’s brunch, at which time the church honored those church ladies who had lost their husbands to death. As I prayed and asked the Lord to give me a topic and Scripture that would speak to that particular audience, I sensed that He wanted me to focus on the topic of “legacy.” Most of the ladies who were being honored were older and had seen quite a few years come and go. There would certainly be a wealth of wisdom and some godly legacies among them.
My focal Scripture for that event was 2 Timothy 1:3–5, in which the apostle Paul reminded young Timothy of the great legacy of faith that belonged to Timothy through his mother, Eunice, and his grandmother, Lois. This seemed like a fitting topic and passage of Scripture on which to focus for a group of ladies who were still active and spiritually seeking, even if it was without their life partners.
My fifteen-minute message was well received, and I went home feeling that I had pleased the Lord with what I had done. Little did I know that this topic of legacy would become what author Margaret Feinberg calls a “sacred echo” in my life. Repeatedly over the course of the next two years, the topic of legacy would surface. Time and again, the Lord made it evident that this message about creating a godly legacy would be the message that I would offer to one ladies’ group after another. Each time I have taught this message, the Lord has given me new information and Scriptures to add to it. In fact, this message has become my hallmark message, for it is based on the things that God has taught me over the course of fifty-one years of doing this thing called life.
We live in a world that is all about the here and now rather than the there and then. Our mottos are “if it feels good, do it” and “it’s all about me.” The simple fact is that it is not all about us. I see generations of young girls and women who have never been taught the importance of a noble character or the value of “shunning the very appearance of evil.” Today our young women are learning about character and holiness from mainstream fashion and lifestyle magazines. To our shame, Christian women have planted themselves comfortably in soft pews in white-washed churches and allow the world to teach its values to our young women. We, the body and bride of Christ, should be the ones teaching our young women how to be women of faith who believe in Jesus Christ; women who exhibit noble character and holiness before God.
This is our calling in this generation. This is why I wrote Legacy.
Have I always made all the right choices to create a godly legacy? No, I have not, yet God has faithfully and lovingly corrected and guided me. Every day offers opportunities to make choices that reflect God’s presence in my life….or not. My prayer is that I make more godly choices than not; that my character reflects more of Christ than not; that my faith is stronger than the day before, yet not as strong as it will be tomorrow.
What about you? Are you being intentional in the creation of your legacy?
May I leave you with a quote about choosing to live a holy life that resonates deeply in my soul? It is from Jerry Bridges book The Pursuit of Holiness and I quote it in the Legacy Bible study.
“It is time for us Christians to face up to our responsibility for holiness. Too often we say we are ‘defeated’ by this sin or that sin. No, we are not defeated; we are simply disobedient! It might be well if we stopped using the terms ‘victory’ and ‘defeat’ to describe our progress in holiness. Rather we should use the terms ‘obedience’ and ‘disobedience’ … when I say I am defeated by some sin, I am unconsciously slipping out from under my responsibility. I am saying something outside of me has defeated me. But when I say I am disobedient, that places the responsibility for my sin squarely on me.”
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GIVEAWAY WINNERS: The winners of this first Legacy Bible study giveaway are……Shannan Williams and Mary DuBose. Congratulations, ladies!! If you did not win today, please be sure and enter the giveaway for the remainder of the launch!
As many of you know my first Bible study was published in 2010 and was entitled, From the Trash Pile to the Treasure Chest: Creating a Godly Legacy. The message of that Bible study is the basis around which my entire ministry is built…..leaving a godly legacy for the generations that come behind me. I do this through teaching God’s Word and mentoring.
In 2015 the company through which I published that study closed their doors, leaving me with no access to obtain copies of the study. After much prayer, I decided to do a bit of re-formatting and a new design and re-publish the study. I sought the help of Jen Stults for the formatting and design work. She was such a gem and worked so hard for months on this project. Today is the day her work, as well as mine, is unveiled and made available for purchase.
If you are not familiar with the Legacy study, may I give you a bit of a peek into it? The premise of the Bible study is that we are all leaving a legacy for the generations that come behind us. A god-less legacy will happen by default unless we are intentional about creating a god-ly legacy.
I believe there are three key components of a godly legacy:
- Faith in Jesus Christ
- Godly character choices
- Holy living
Every person who names the name of Jesus over their lives gets the first one right. The second and third ones are where many Christians fail to make intentional choices that create a godly legacy. Our world is chock full of opportunities to make poor character choices and default to less than holy lives. All you have to do is spend two minutes on social media or television to know this is true.
Enter Legacy: It’s What You Leave Behind!
This six week Bible study offers a wealth of Scripture to help the student think through and make choices that create a godly legacy. Each week of the Bible study consists of five days of homework that takes the student straight to the Word. At the end of each day of study there are Meditation Moments that encourage pondering of the topics studied that day.
Week 1 of the study is focused on why it is important to create a godly legacy. Weeks 2 and 3 examine the issue of faith. Weeks 4 and 5 take the student on a journey that helps them examine godly character choices, as well as choices to live out real, boots-on-the-ground holiness in their daily life. The final week offers testimonies of women who are seeking to create a godly legacy in the midst of doing life.
This Bible study is appropriate for women and teen girls. It can be done in a group setting or individually. There are no videos to accompany the study since my goal is for the study to encourage much interaction and discussion when done in a group setting.
Because I am super excited to re-launch Legacy I will be sharing quite a bit about it for the next several days…quotes from the study and from people who have done the study. There will be opportunities to win FREE copies of the study as well. I will be sharing about Legacy on social media as well.
Legacy: It’s What You Leave Behind is available in print form and in Kindle format from Amazon.
In celebration of today’s re-launch of Legacy I want to give away to two of my blog readers one print book and one Kindle book. How do you enter?
Simply leave a comment right here on this post telling me which format you prefer should you win. Print or Kindle. That’s it. I will draw two names of winners on Friday morning, so be sure you use an email to comment that you check frequently.
You may increase your chances of winning by sharing this post on social media. One entry per social media platform, so if you are active on Facebook and Instagram and you share this post there, you can enter three times…one for leaving a comment, one for FB and one for IG. For every share, please return here and leave a comment letting me know where you shared the post. LOVE IS SHARING!!
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It all began in 2008. Somewhere…perhaps in a Bible study or a sermon…Romans 12:1-2 floated into my heart like an autumn leaf twirling to the ground. It was not an unfamiliar pair of verses, but neither were they sealed into my memory….yet.
Before long, these verses began popping up everywhere. In a sermon, in whatever Bible study I was doing, devotionals, on the radio…flitter, I fully expected to walk into a bathroom stall somewhere and find them scrawled on the wall. Seriously, it was comical how God was using repetition to force me to pay attention to these verses. The more I heard them, the more I realized that there was a message, a life message, in them for me.
In the eight years since, I have tucked these verses deeply into my heart and made them into an almost daily prayer for my life. I believe they are the key that opens the door to the authentic Christian life. Let’s start with verse 1.
I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. (ESV)
As we think about authentic Christianity, about being a stand-out Christian in a world that tells us to shut-up, what possible help could this verse be? Sacrifice? Holy? It all sounds very antiquated, doesn’t it?
Paul is doing a little bit of what I like to call ‘guilt trippin’ his brethren. He is saying something like this: “Look at what God has done for you. How in the world could you not give your all for Him? It really is what you should do.”
One thing that is important for us to understand is the context in which Paul wrote Romans. In that day there was a prevalent philosophy that said that the soul or spirit was inherently good, while the body was inherently evil. Because the body was considered to be evil and would die eventually, it didn’t matter what you did with or to your body. Your soul/spirit was what mattered. For this reason, many people participated in immorality, believing that as long as their heart/spirit was right, they were good. There was a huge disconnect between the body and the spirit. Might sound a bit like today, huh?
So, back to how this verse impacted me. One day while I was exercising I was deeply impressed by the Holy Spirit to begin praying this verse back to God. So I did.
Lord, I offer my body to you as a living sacrifice. I am yours. Change me. Use me. Make me into whatever you desire.
Now, this is not a prayer to be prayed flippantly, because sacrifices in the Old Testament did not remain alive. So, what I was saying to God is take whatever does not please you and crucify it, kill it, so that all that remains is holy and acceptable to you.
Vance Havner once said that the problem with living sacrifices is that they tend to crawl off the altar. This required an intentional, deliberate act of my will. I had to be willing open the doors of my heart completely to the Holy Spirit, holding nothing back….NOTHING BACK! I had to be willing to allow Him to clean out impure thoughts and selfish desires. I had to be serious about crawling up on that altar and allowing my flesh to be crucified so Jesus could live through me. What Jesus has done in my heart since I began praying this prayer is stunning. He has given me an intense desire to be more and more like Him.
Authentic Christianity requires that we give God the ultimate sacrifice of self….body, mind, and spirit. The world needs to see Christ-followers who are walking out holy lives because they have offered their bodies as living sacrifices for the cause of Christ.
MEDITATION MOMENT: What would you need to do in order to make Romans 12:1 a reality in your life? What is hindering you from offering your body as a living sacrifice? I would love to pray for you in this regard. Feel free to leave a comment or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Have you heard about Journibles? They are a series of beautiful books that offer space for you to write out that specific book of the Bible. I love my Romans Journible. I scribed the entire book of Romans in it. The Word comes alive even more when you write it out. Here is my Amazon affiliate link to the Romans Journible. Order your copy today and begin writing out the book of Romans.
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In the waning days of 2014, I experienced great losses. The particulars of what and how and why of the losses are not as germane to our time together today as the effects upon my soul. Like tidal waves, one loss piled upon another until I could barely breath or function. For months there were times I felt such despair that I prayed for Jesus to take me home. Never in my entire life have I experienced such suffering and pain. Not physical pain, although I was certain that my heart had been ripped to shreds and would never recover. The pain and suffering were emotional and mental. Two years later, my heart aches at the thought of it and tears still come easily, even though much healing has taken place.
No one seeks out suffering, yet everyone experiences it. There is not a soul on planet earth who has not endured some kind of suffering, be it physical, emotional, or spiritual. Are we ever prepared for it? Is there even a way to prepare for suffering? Do we set our children up for failure and despair by not preparing them for suffering?
Even though I experienced intense suffering of the heart, there were some things that I knew to be true; things that I held onto with everything within me. It was those thing that kept my faith from being ‘greatly shaken’. I would love to share those with you today and next week.
The first thought is one that we hear pretty often in the Christian world, but it really is true.
LIFE IS HARD, BUT GOD IS GOOD
We do our children a huge disservice by not preparing them for the inevitable suffering they will experience. Whether it is another child at school making fun of them or the loss of a special grandparent early in the child’s life, we must prepare kids for the fact that life is hard. Flitter, we must prepare ourselves for that fact.
In John 16:33, Jesus said, “In this world you will have trouble.”
So, what do we do with that? Trouble does not come to us because God is vengeful or sadistic. The fact is that we live in a fallen world and because of it hard and painful things happen. We don’t need to walk around like Eeyore always bemoaning the misery of life or blaming our troubles on other people, although sometimes they are a result of other people’s actions or words. We do, however, need to have a proper perspective on life.
My Daddy developed polio at the age of 16. The doctors told him he would never walk again. He overcame those predictions and walked, with the aid of crutches and a full leg brace, for the rest of his life. Life was not easy for him. He could not do many of things that young men do. He could not run, play sports, ride a motorcycle, or even walk normally. Yet, he knew that God had spared him from death for a reason, and while certain parts of his life would be hard, God was good to him. He became a successful businessman, married my mom and had two daughters. Sure there were times when he would physically fall, but he always got back up and went on. He had a proper perspective on suffering that kept him from losing his faith or feeling sorry for himself.
Throughout my 2014 ordeal, I always knew that God was good and that He was with me. The faith muscles that I had developed over the course of the years of my walking with Jesus gave me a solid foundation on which to abide even when so much of my world was shaken.
Christ followers can be assured that nothing, absolutely nothing, happens to them that has not been sifted through the will and purpose of God’s divine knowledge. Yes, life can be hard, but God is good and He will never allow anything to happen to us that is not part of His ultimate good for us. I liken this to a parent taking their sick child to the physician. The sickness is miserable and painful, both for the child to experience and the parent to watch. The physician diagnoses the problem and suggests an injection of antibiotics.
Queue up the hysterics! Crying, flailing about, screaming. Anything to avoid the injection.
Yet, the physician and the parent both know that the injection is what will restore good health. It may require bringing in back-up to help hold the child still, but the injection is given and health is restored.
So it is with our good God. Sometimes when He allows pain and suffering in our lives to accomplish His will for us, He knows there is no other way to bring about what is for our good. In those times, we must remember that life is hard, but God is good.
Next week we will consider two other very important lessons we must learn in order to properly walk through suffering. For now, would you share your thoughts on suffering? What are some lessons you have learned during suffering seasons?
Go here to read the second part in this series.
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Dr. Charles Stanley has written some excellent books on the topic of suffering. I’m giving you my Amazon Affiliate link for one of them so you can check it out if you feel led.
I am married to my dentist. Several years ago, at a regular check-up, my dentist-husband looked at my x-rays and declared that one of my back teeth had a tiny crack in it. This news did not bring great rejoicing in my heart. I knew what it meant. The word crown became very real to me, and it was not the kind of crown that a queen would wear.
I scheduled an appointment with him for a few days later. On the appointed day, I came into the office, sat down in his chair, and submitted myself to the skillful hand of my husband. He took his drill and ground down the offending tooth to make space for a crown…a porcelain tooth that would be cemented onto the remains of my previous tooth. He measured, checked the color match, and created an impression of that area so the new crown would match and fit perfectly. Before I left the office, he fabricated a temporary crown and placed a bit of cement in the spot to hold the temporary crown in place until my permanent one was created by the dental lab.
My temporary crown looked like a real crown, and in fact, would serve several purposes: it was a place holder to keep the teeth on either side from moving; it protected the remains of the original tooth that was cracked; and it would allow me to chew on that side if I stayed away from hard or crunchy foods. But, the truth of the matter is that it was not the real thing and would never be the real thing. The key to a healthy, functioning tooth would be to go back to the dentist’s office in a couple of weeks and have the permanent porcelain crown placed in my mouth.
In the 2014 Religious Landscape Study performed by the Pew Research Center, the percentage of adults who describe themselves as ‘christian’ decreased dramatically from 78.4% in 2007 to 70.6% in 2014. A Gallup poll published in late 2015 showed that 75% of Americans identified with a Christian religion. As I consider these statistics, I find it nearly impossible to square the fact that 70% of Americans identify as Christians, yet the recent presidential election was the most hateful and vitriolic in America’s history. Blistering, viscious words were hurled from voters of all stripes, including those who call themselves Christians. There is a huge disconnect, people!
A good and right question to ask ourselves is whether our talk and our walk match up. The apostle James said that the Christians of his day were using their mouths to bless and to curse people, much like the Christians of our day. James likely shook his finger at his contemporaries and said, “This should not be.”
I agree! It should not be, but if I examine my life and heart, I find that I am guilty of sometimes walking out a type of Christianity that looks nothing like the life of Jesus. And Lord, have mercy, our world does need to see authentic Christianity. Am I a Christian who stands out as a Christ follower in a world that seeks, more and more, to shut us up? When unbelievers view my life, do they see things that draw them to Jesus or push them away?
A good question to ask right here is this: how do I know what a real-deal, stand-out Christian should look like?
What should the authentic Christian say?
How should they live?
What actions should they engage in?
Over the next several Wednesdays we are going to delve into the profile of a true Christian, a stand-out Christian, and see if our lives measure up to the profile of a true believer in Jesus Christ. I hope you will join me.
MEDITATION MOMENT: Has there been a person or people in your life who lived out the definition of a true Christian? Would you share a bit about them in the comments?
Dr. Adrian Rogers wrote a marvelous little book about the things that every Christian should know. It is packed full of practical advice and plenty of Scripture to encourage your walk with Jesus. You may click on my Amazon affiliate link to check it out and purchase, should you feel led.