I don’t know about you, but for me, it is so easy to fall into the world’s line of thinking.
I got mine, you get yours.
It’s all about me.
What’s in it for me?
Problem is, for a Christian, this way of thinking is completely contrary to what Jesus taught. It is also contrary to what I had modeled for me growing up. Although I never fully realized the scope of what my parents did for others until they were gone, I knew they were generous toward those who were in need…both in the body of Christ and outside of it.
At my Daddy’s funeral, my Mother, Sister, and I greeted hundreds who came to pay their respects. Over and over people told us how my Daddy had helped them.
He paid my house payment when I was about to lose my home.
He came to my appliance store, bought a refrigerator, and told me where to deliver it. But he said that I was not to tell the recipients who provided it.
When my electricity was about to be cut off, he paid my bill.
He bailed me out of jail when I made a poor choice.
Then, when my Mother died, many shared similar stories of her love and generosity.
These testimonies, and so many more, were evidence of Romans 12:13 in the life of my parents.
Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality.
I love the reminder offered by John MacArthur in his commentary on the book of Romans.
The flow of the supernatural life is outward, not inward.
It is true. The life modeled after Jesus is not a life of selfish ambition, but one of self-less sacrifice and offering.
Billy Graham said:
The smallest package I ever saw was a man wrapped up wholly in himself.
As I think about the life that Jesus lived, I see a life of service and hospitality to others:
He restored life
He ate with the outcast
He never heaped shame on those who sought Him out
He took my place on the cross and paid the fine for my sin
So, really, how can I justify being selfish and self-serving? Everything I have…my body, my money, my talents, my time, my home, everything…..is on loan to me from God. None of it is really mine, so if the Jesus-life tells me to be generous in giving and hospitable to others, how can I do otherwise?
The question then becomes whether the flow of my life is outward or inward. It is the question for your life, as well.
Outward or Inward?
One of the ways I seek to help women develop that outward flowing life is to encourage them to walk more intimately with Christ. September 15-17, 2017 the Come Away retreat for women will offer ladies an opportunity to lean into Jesus in a beautiful, relaxed setting. In our world of constant stimulation and social media, one must be intentional in their pursuit of Christ. Come Away with Jesus for a weekend! Click HERE to learn more.
Every week I am privileged to spend an hour or so of private time with my pastor’s sweet wife, Becca. We talk, we share, we cry, we pray, we simply do life together. She is young enough to be my daughter, and I love her as if she were. She is a beautiful, honest, all-out-crazy-for-Jesus young woman. Her heart is very much for seeing those who do not know Jesus come to Him, and she is a blessing to me in a dozen different ways.
Recently we were talking about how God’s plans often end up looking very different from the plans that we make for our life. I shared with her how true that is for me, especially in regard to ministry.
I told her that when the Lord called me into ministry in 2007, He made it so clear that I was to speak and teach God’s Word. He confirmed it through several avenues, and so I stepped boldly into that calling. To be very transparent, I secretly hoped I would be the next Christian teacher ‘star’….’the next Beth Moore’, as so many told me at my speaking engagements. I know….ten years into this wild ministry ride, I see how ridiculous and prideful that sounds, but I’m just being honest with you.
For about seven years all of my dreams seemed to be on track. I spoke at ladies events all over the southeast. I was blessed to write and publish four books. Ministry life was good and going according to ‘my plans’. I held on tightly to a quote I read on a flip calendar somewhere. It said something like this: It can take ten years to be an ‘overnight sensation’.
As Becca and I talked, I shared with her that when my ministry began to change, at first I was not happy with God about it. I saw other speakers going on to bigger and better things, while God seemed to be drawing down my ministry. Oh, He was not pulling me out of ministry. Rather, He was changing what ministry looked like for me. Instead of the big stage, it was more one-on-one and small group ministry. Instead of preparing messages to be delivered to a few hundred women, I was pulling together ingredients for making biscuits and pound cakes and chicken and dressing. Instead of spending time writing more books, I am spending face-to-face and shoulder-to-shoulder time loving on, mentoring, and doing life with women. And you know what, now I love it and I cannot imagine doing anything else.
I had a choice about how I would respond when God changed up ministry. I could have been angry with Him and pouted. (yeah, that would have worked out well!) I could have been jealous over the speaking opportunities and book contracts that other people received. (hmmm, that would have been pretty!) Instead I bent my knee to God’s plan and have found incredible peace and satisfaction in ministry. Don’t misunderstand me, there were fleeting moments of ‘why, God?’ questions and green-with-envy jealousy, but those were only for a moment. I knew that God sees the big picture, and whatever He ordains for me is for my good and for His glory. I realized that to grasp for anything else is relational suicide as far as my relationship with God goes.
Sometime after Becca and I shared that conversation I received a text from her that made my heart so full of love for her and gratitude to God for how He is allowing me to serve His kingdom.
I love you so much, Leah. I’m so, so, so, so thankful God didn’t make you the ‘next Beth Moore” because our time on the porch feels like the closest thing to Heaven on earth to me. I am so glad you’re in my life. Thank you.
I do not always do life and ministry perfectly, but I love that He trusts me with it at all. Me! A woman who has made her share of mistakes and oopsies in life, but who falls so heavily on the grace and mercy of Jesus.
Part of the ‘new’ look for ministry for me is the upcoming Come Away retreat that I am hosting in September. I’d love for you to pray about attending.
Come Away will be an intimate time of leaning into Jesus through worship, Scripture study, and prayer. We will set aside tweets and posts and hashtags in order to hear from Jesus about how crazy He is over us. The retreat will be held September 15-17, 2017. Pop over HERE to learn more details.
Have you ever watched a sea gull? When in flight he powerfully lifts himself higher and higher with every flap of his wings until he is higher than any other gull. Then, he gracefully circles down to the earth. The gull seems to be all about performing and excelling.
What happens, though, when Mr. Gull gets into a flock of gulls? It is not a pretty sight. There are territorial fights over food that cause feathers to fly everywhere. The word ‘share’ is not in the gull’s vocabulary. Philip Yancey said that ‘they are so fiercely competitive and jealous that if you tie a red ribbon around the leg of one gull, making him stand out, you sentence him to execution. The others in his flock will furiously attack him with claws and beaks, hammering through feathers and flesh to draw blood. They’ll continue until he lies flattened in a bloody heap.”
By contrast, consider a flock of geese. You’ve seen them flying in a V-formation, honking all the way to wherever they are going. Scientists know that geese fly faster in that V-formation. The lead goose is the one doing all the work, flying against the wind. It is because of this that there is a regular swapping of positions among the geese in the V which allows the flock to fly long distances without stopping to rest. Everyone shares in the tough job.
The geese with the easiest jobs are those in the back…the last one on each end of the V. It has been observed that the stronger geese allow the weaker and older of the flock to stay in these lighter-work positions. All that honking may even be a way for the geese to encourage one another to keep flying.
If a goose becomes too sick or weak to fly, she is not abandoned. A healthy goose will stay on the ground with the sick or weak one until she is ready to fly again. While gulls are individualistic and territorial, geese are concerned about the flock as a whole, as well as their individual goose-friends.
Into this story we insert today’s verse in our Authentic Christianity study. Check out Romans 12:10.
Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor.
The kind of love that is being spoken of in this verse is the love of a friend or a family member, rather than romantic love. As Christians we are to be tenderly affectionate toward other Christians. We are to seek the good of our Christian brothers and sisters, rather than maligning them and dishonoring them. The apostle Paul echoed this admonition in Philippians 2:3 when he told the believers in Philippi to consider others better than themselves.
I will just tell you that the last part of Romans 12:10 is hugely convicting to me. HUGELY! I fail miserably at showing honor to other people. Oh sure, I honor my parents and those who are older than me. But, I sometimes get a big old ‘F’ when it comes to honoring those who seem to be making poor life choices or are different than me. This should remind us of Romans 12:3 where we are told to ‘not think more highly of ourselves than we ought’. If we take this verse seriously, we will show real appreciation, respect, and care for others. We will put their welfare before our own, and we will be Jesus-with-skin-on to them.
NOTE: If you are reading this post via email, you will need go to my website in order to see the video and access the GIFT I have for you. Click HERE to go to my website. When you arrive there, please look for the Friday, April 14th post.
Today I wanted to offer a video post because I hope to be able to convey how important I believe this week’s posts have been. Surely, I am not the only one out there who is desperately in need of a word make-over! Surely, I am not the only one in need of grace for her tongue. Surely, I am not the only one who needs accountability in her life?
I hope you will take the time to watch the video. I also hope you will be sensitive to the workings of the Holy Spirit in your own heart. Here are links to my Monday and Wednesday posts that I reference in the video.
I would love to hear from you if you decide to take a journey similar to mine. You can use these principles for more than just changing words. They can be used to break free of all kinds of strongholds…lying, anger, alcoholism, adultery, pornography, overeating and so much more. Scripture memorization, prayer, and accountability. Three tools that have the blessing of God for you, His child.
May this gift will be a blessing to you, my readers. I hope it will help you in your journey toward words of grace. Please click the blue button below and follow the prompts to download and print your Grace-Full Scripture Cards.
On Monday I shared with you the beginning of my journey toward speaking words of grace rather than negative words. If you did not catch that post, you really, really need to go HERE and read it because today’s post will not make sense without the the Monday post. So, head on over and read it and I’ll be waiting right here.
This has not been an easy journey because I have come to realize how often negative, critical, grumbling words fill my mouth. As a woman in ministry, I am embarrassed to have to tell you that I have failed in this area time and time again. This is basic Christianity 101, yet here I am in the Holy Spirit’s remedial class. BUT, I’m thankful that He is patient and loving with me, and that He is giving me opportunities to change.
So, on Monday I shared about how prayer and Scripture memorization were key to my journey. Today, I want to share with you how I utilized the process of accountability in my efforts.
Remember my two friends who were the unfortunate recipients of my negative words at lunch that day? Well, the Holy Spirit instructed me to ask them if they would be willing to be my accountability partners in my journey. Here is the email that I sent to my precious friends.
The Holy Spirit has troubled my spirit deeply over my actions and words yesterday. I have asked for forgiveness from Him and you, and I know that I have received it. Yet, I feel there is an action that He is prompting me to take and I am coming to you for help.
I have a question for you. And please know, up front, that it is perfectly okay if you need to say no – I promise! I’m looking for some accountability *just* for the month of March in regard to making ’the words of my mouth acceptable to God’ (Psalm 19:14).
Consistently over the course of my 52 years my mouth has gotten me in trouble….not speaking the truth IN LOVE, speaking when I should not, saying things that are not kind, etc. Yesterday was evidence that I am in great need of a work of the Holy Spirit in this area. My plan is to be diligent in prayer about this and really seek God’s help in controlling my tongue every day. I recognize that my words are a choice and I must choose to not let my tongue be out of control.
I believe that if I can be focused in prayer and effort for the month of March, then controlling my words will become a habit that I can more easily continue. This is where I am asking for your help, if the Lord leads you. Would you maybe be willing to receive a very short email or text from me each morning for the month of March where I can tell you if I was successful the previous day? And if I wasn’t, I can tell you why I don’t think I was. A few sentences, max…I promise not to waste your time in this. Again, if you do not feel led or feel like you can do this, I completely understand. Thank you for considering it.
Both of my friends said “YES”. And so beginning on March 2nd , I ‘reported in’ every morning with my success, or lack thereof, in my efforts to eliminate negative-speak from my life. It is incredible what accountability will do for an effort like this. I knew that I had to report in, and I hated like everything to have to report failure, so I was much more aware of my words throughout the day. Oh, there were a few days where the report was less than stellar, but there were also many wonderfully successful days. In fact, the successful days outnumbered the failure days by a lot.
I learned that in life there are times when negative words must be spoken simply because of circumstances, but they can be spoken without anger and hurt as their fuel. (You must be thinking, what a moron!! She didn’t know that?) I also became much more aware of my thoughts and where negativity was creeping in BEFORE those thoughts became words.
I am happy to report that speaking grace-filled words, or just keeping my mouth shut completely, happens far more often than speaking negative words these days. I still have moments when I slip and speak a negative word, but the Holy Spirit convicts me immediately and I confess my sin. I will likely be a work in progress for a while on this issue, but I’m so thankful that God took me down this path.
Once again today I want to ask you about your words….to your husband or wife….about your husband or wife? About your children…your co-workers…those with whom you attend church….the homeless person on the street….anyone and everyone.
What kind of words do you speak?
Are they anger- or hurt-driven words, or are they words of grace and care?
On Friday I will be back here with a gift for you and some insight from my recent character issues survey. I will also have a challenge for you, so I hope you will join me here. Please go HERE to watch the Friday video post and download your GIFT.
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I am preempting my normally scheduled Monday Revelation and Wednesday Authentic posts to share something very personal with you. In doing so, I hope to encourage you to consider taking a similar journey to mine in order to look more like Jesus.
To say I didn’t know it was coming would be a full-on lie. I did. The Holy Spirit had been at work for a while gently convicting me over my less-than loving use of my words to eviscerate another person. But I, like King David, thought I could just push it back and not deal with it.
Lo, what is that I hear? God’s tsk-tsk from heaven at my stubbornness and flat-out disobedience.
I sat at lunch chatting with two ladies from my Tuesday morning Bible study. One of them asked about some changes that had taken place in an organization to which I had belonged for several years. I had been in the organization long enough, and had been close enough to the person in charge to know the cause for the changes. I was also very close to several people who had been hurt by the situation. My heart had been one of those that had been hurt.
As I answered my friend’s question, I laid the blame squarely on one particular person. I told my friends some of the things this person had done, and how so many people had been hurt and left the organization. While I did not realize until later how deeply hurt and angry I was over the whole mess, my friends told me later that they recognized it immediately.
We finished lunch and I got in my car to go home. Y’all I felt like a Mack Truck of conviction from the Holy Spirit had hit me head-on. The realization that I had sinned horribly by allowing my hurt and anger to drive my words was overwhelming. I wish I could say this was a one-time event, but it was not. I had spoken in the same angry, hurt tone to other people on several occasions. I’m sure everyone who was unfortunate enough to enter into that particular topic of conversation with me felt like they had been vomited on. I was heart-broken at how I had compromised my testimony and caused others to look down on Jesus. Heart-broken at the pain I had caused others with my poison words!
I texted my two friends and confessed what I had done. I asked for their forgiveness and they lovingly granted it. I thought that would be the end of it. How wrong I was! The Holy Spirit made it crystal clear that it was time to deal with this sin of negative words. I had no idea how often I spoke them about all kinds of subjects in my daily life, but I was about to find out.
God prescribed a three-pronged method for doing away with poison words. I would use prayer, Scripture memory, and oh dear Gussie, accountability.
Prayer would be the easy part of this. Confession, both private and public, was the beginning, but also would be necessary several times over the next 30 days. Each time I allowed poison words to spew forth, I prayed and asked forgiveness. The Lord was faithful to forgive me and encourage my heart to get back in the game and turn over control of my heart and tongue to the Holy Spirit. Slowly my need for confession decreased because my spewing of negative words decreased.
For the Scripture memorization, the Lord led me to the book of James and used a neon highlighter to show me 4 verses that I was to memorize over the course of the next month.
James 3:8 ~ No human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.
James 3:9 ~ With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God.
James 3:10 ~ From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so.
James 5:9 ~ Do not grumble against one another, brothers, so that you may not be judged.
Y’all, I knew those verses…had read them many times, but whew, the Word suddenly came alive in my heart! The more I repeated James 3:8, the more grieved I became over my negative words. My tongue truly was a restless evil, full of deadly poison. Me! A woman in ministry, for heaven’s sake. I had a tongue that eviscerated other people, even loved ones. And up till now I had not even felt one bit bad about it…well, maybe a little bit bad. Suddenly I understood what the apostle Paul meant when he lamented that he was the chief of sinners.
If you are someone who has been hurt by words that spilled from my mouth in the past, I may or may not even realize that I hurt you. I’m so very sorry and I hope you will accept my apology. I would welcome to opportunity to speak with you about the hurt I have caused. Please reach out to me.
What about you? Are you able to control your words or do they spew out like deadly poison on a regular basis? Don’t be too quick to answer. Really think about it. Are your words a blessing or a curse to other people?
On Wednesday I will share with you how the Lord led me to enter into accountability relationships in order to do away with negative-speak in my life. I’ll see you back here on Wednesday. Go HERE to read the Wednesday post and HERE to watch the Friday video post and download your FREE gift.
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I did a Bible study years ago that convicted me hugely about the words I speak to MYSELF. All too often we say things to and about ourselves that we would never, in a million years, say to another person. We demean ourselves, we shame ourselves and it is not pleasing to God. I hope you will check out this link to Me, Myself, & Lies by Jennifer Rothschild.