Wrinkles and Pimples!!

think-2…My brethren, these things ought not so to be.” (James 3:10)

The other day I was looking in my magnifying mirror, checking out how deep my wrinkles are getting and if my new anti-wrinkle cream was working, when I noticed something: I had a couple of pimples!! If I am old enough to have wrinkles, surely I should not have to have pimples, too!! That just doesn’t seem right! Now, being the spiritual person that I am (lol!), a Bible verse came to my mind:

…these things ought not so to be!” (James 3:10).

Absolutely! These things out not to be so!! I shouldn’t have to suffer those marks of mature old age (wrinkles) and at the same time suffer those humiliating reminders of immature teenage skin (pimples)!

Then, I thought, well, I ought to look at that verse and see what it is really talking about, because I know that’s only part of the verse. And guess what!! It’s about the tongue! Oh my! No wonder I remembered THAT verse, because it’s one I have to remind myself about often:

For in many things we offend all. If any man offend not in word, the same is a perfect man, and able also to bridle the whole body…But the tongue can no man tame; it is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison. Therewith bless we God, even the Father; and therewith curse we men, which are made after the similitude of God. Out of the same mouth proceedeth blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not so to be.” (James 3:2, 8-10)

…these things ought not so to be!” is referring to mature Christian talk and immature worldy talk coming out of the same mouth. Like having pimples and wrinkles on the same face! James is telling us that it is hard to avoid offending people with our words, because we are all sinful and all lack maturity and self-control in some areas, especially our tongue. But he rebukes his audience by saying that we should not speak maturely and immaturely out of the same mouth! These things ought not so to be”!

After spending some time talking with another, we may think to ourselves: Most of what I said was true, most of it was helpful, most of it was important, most of it was necessary, most of it was kind. Only a little of what I said was gossipy, exaggerated, mean-spirited, hurtful, unnecessary, prideful, and self-exalting.

James goes on to use the example of a bit in a horses mouth, the rudder of a ship, and a match that starts a fire – meaning that a “small thing” like the tongue can cause BIG damage!

bit rudder match

He then states that out of the same mouth we pray and sing praises to God, and then we use it to “curse” or speak badly to or about other people who are made in the image of God, as we are, whether saved or unsaved.

I don’t know about you, but I really don’t wish to offend people, I know sometimes I do, without realizing it with what I say, or how I say it. So, how do we become this “perfect” man (think ‘mature Christian‘) who doesn’t offend people with their words?

So, he told us it involves wisdom, which, he affirms at the beginning of his letter, we can have if we just humbly ask God for it in faith:

If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him. But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering.” (James 1:5,6)

Then he explains what this wisdom looks like:

Who is a wise man and endued with knowledge among you? let him shew out of a good conversation his works with meekness of wisdom. But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy. And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace of them that make peace.” (James 3:17,18)

That sounds good, doesn’t it? So wisdom is shown by:

Good conversation, Meekness, Pure, Peacable, Gentle, Easy to be intreated, Full of mercy and good fruits, Without partiality or hypocrisy, Righteous. That sounds a lot like the fruit of the spirit in Galatians 5:22,23.

So the answer to our problem is wisdom. How to deal with wrinkles and pimples? Wisdom – knowing that God is in control and that He wants me to have those natural signs of getting older and mature (wrinkles), but still remind me (with pimples) that I am immature in some areas, and He’s not done with me yet!

And, how to avoid both good, mature Christian talk and sinful, immature worldy talk coming out of the same mouth? Wisdom—asking God to help me control my tongue, fearing the Lord (Psalm111:10, Proverbs 9:10), yielding to the Holy Spirit so His fruit is manifested in and through me, and just LOVING GOD and LOVING OTHERS. Let’s be a good influence on others by using our tongue, a small member, to “…be always with grace, seasoned with salt…”(Colossians 4:6).

Well,  I’m feeling convicted, are you??

~ Graced and Grateful Grammy

A bit, a rudder, a match, and our tongue are all small things with BIG influence.

The tongue is the strongest muscle in the human body, use yours to lift someone up today.

Advertisements

Thorns and Nails

Thorns and nailAnd they stripped him, and put on him a scarlet robe. And when they had platted a crown of thorns, they put it upon his head, and a reed in his right hand: and they bowed the knee before him, and mocked him, saying, Hail, King of the Jews!” (Matthew 27:28-29

Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross.” (Colossians 2:14)

Recently, I was preparing to teach our final lesson for Good News Club – the Easter lesson, the Good News! I decided to make a crown of thorns to show the children, and since my husband is a carpenter, find a big nail to show them how Christ suffered for our sins.

First, I went outside and gathered some wild rose branches from the side bushes, and started weaving and winding it into a crown-shape. As I was getting stabbed and poked by those rose thorns, I started thinking about the soldiers who made the crown of thorns for Jesus’ head. The little pricks I received were nothing compared to the cuts that those large thorns would have given them as they plaited that crown of thorns for Jesus. And I thought how much they must have hated Him and despised Him as they suffered those pricks and worked, making it just so they could ridicule Him. Then I remembered how they shoved it down on His head, gave him a robe and a stick and mocked Him as King of the Jews! What utter wrath must have motivated them. And yet He still loved them!

Then, I went down to my husband’s shop to find a big old nail to show them. I found one that had been pulled out of an old beam, but it was bent. So I laid it on the concrete floor of his shop, held it with the fingers of one hand and tapped at it with a sledgehammer with the other hand. You guessed it! The nail twisted and as the sledgehammer struck, a little bit of the end of my finger got caught under that nail and pinched and I got a big blood blister! So, then I was thinking about those Roman soldiers who took those big nails, spread Jesus’ hands out on that wooden cross and drove the nail into his flesh. I wonder if, in their haste and anger, they ever struck their own finger with the hammer as they drove those nails in? What anger and hatred must have filled their hearts to do such a cold and cruel thing! And yet He still loved them!

Jesus loved them just as He loves you and me. He suffered these things and so much more to pay the price we owed for the sinful things we have thought, said, and done — things that offend our Holy God. He offers it all as a gift that we just have to reach out and receive. He died and rose again on the third day because He is GOD! He conquered death and the grave so that we can be saved, so that we can be redeemed. He told Nicodemus, “You must be born again”, we are all born physically and that begins our physical life on earth. But we must be born AGAIN, spiritually, in order to start our Spirit-filled life as a Christian, or “little Christ”.

Have you received the gift Christ offers? Have you been saved, redeemed, converted, born again (they all mean the same thing)?

You can settle it right now by believing the Gospel, the Good News:

Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand; By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain. For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures”  (1 Corinthians 15:1-4)

I couldn’t help getting emotional as the children touched the sharp thorns on the crown, and imitated putting a nail in their hands, contorting their faces in empathetic pain as they tried to imagine what Jesus went through. When they asked me, “Why are you crying?” I said, “because He chose to do this for ME, and for YOU!” It’s no wonder one of those Roman Soldiers, after witnessing Jesus’ death on the cross, declared, Truly this was the Son of God” (Matthew 27:54).

And, then HE ROSE FROM THE DEAD!!

And that’s what Easter/Resurrection Sunday is all about.

~Graced and Grateful Grammy

He is Risen. He is Risen Indeed!!

Plate spinning

Spinning Plates Act Photo 2Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30

Do you remember the guy in the circus or on the Ed Sullivan Show who would spin a bunch of plates on rods? He would get one going, then another, then another, then another, and keep adding more plates, then he’d have to run back to the first ones and give them another spin. He was forever running back and forth between plates, keeping them all spinning, and trying to avoid one smashing on the floor. At the end, he gracefully catches each plate and stacks them with a flourish – how amazing!

Sometimes, I feel like my life is that way (except the amazing flourish at the end)! My life is filled with busyness, I have so many things going on: My husband, our five children and three married one’s spouses, 3 grandchildren, my husband’s 3-4 businesses (that I do the bookwork and running for), my 2 businesses, two classes I teach, the house, the yard, the laundry, cooking, banking, exercising, travel, etcetera, etcetera. It’s all good things, and I enjoy it all, but sometimes I feel like I’m spinning plates, and I am afraid I will forget something important and a plate will crash to the floor.

Because I think I am in control of it all…

Sometimes I feel like I need a rest!

That’s when I need to take a deep breath, breathe a prayer, and remember that God’s got this! My job is to do what is in my little circle of responsibility: To love God first, and to love and help others as His Holy Spirit prompts me. I need to draw near to Him and “yoke up” with Him—like when you see two oxen bound together with a yoke and pulling a load side-by-side, which makes it so much easier than one ox doing it by himself. Yoke of oxen

When I choose to “yoke up” to Him, He takes the load and gives rest to my soul. That sounds nice, doesn’t it?—“rest unto your souls”—that’s what Jesus promises, and that’s what Jesus gives us, if we will allow Him.

Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you” (1 Peter 5:7).

That’s easy to say, but HOW do I cast it on Him. Well, this is what I try to do: I say out loud, “Lord, I am handing this to you, you know how to take care of it so much better than I do. Let it be done according to Your Will.” And then I have faith in Him to work it all together for my good and His glory. I try not to take it back, I try not to worry about it, and I keep reminding myself that God’s got this! I don’t need to keep spinning those plates. That’s not my job. That’s God’s job. Colossians 1:17 is speaking of the Lord Jesus and says, “…by Him all things consist”. The word “consist” in this verse can also be translated “are held together”. (Kind of like in baking when you mix things together and they have a “consistency” – they are held together!) So, if Jesus is keeping it all together, then it is His responsibility, not mine. Of course, I mustn’t shirk my responsibilities, but I shouldn’t worry about everything. Worry is a sin, and it will steal your joy, just like all the other sins.

I always claimed Matthew 11:28 when I was at the hospital in labor with each of my children. I know that is not really what it means, but at the time I was literally one of them “that labour and are heavy laden”, so I felt that it applied :). And He did help me with my labor!

So, let’s practice “yoking up” with the Lord, and casting all our cares on Him. Instead of running around like chickens with our heads cut off, spinning plates, and missing out on the blessings of the present that is right in front of us.

~Graced and Grateful Grammy

Never get too busy making a living that you forget to make a life

Bad Attitudes are Contagious!

flat tireBe not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners.” (1 Corinthians 15:33)

One day a few years ago one of my daughters was going to babysit for her nephew and nieces (my wonderful, charming, angelic grandchildren). She planned activities and crafts fun things to do –she was so excited!. They were excited too! They kept asking their mother, “How many sleeps til she comes??” The day came and my daughter went over there and they played games, did crafts, baked, and were having a wonderful time, they were singing her praises –she’s their favorite aunt!

Then… it happened:

There was a lull in the activity and the oldest grandchild pipes up: “I’m not having any fun, I thought this was going to be fun!”

Then the second eldest suddenly goes: “Yeah I’m not having fun, either!”

The youngest who is about two at the time, crossed her arms made a pouty face and said: “No fun!

Wow! How quickly the atmosphere changed. One minute she was the greatest, and the next she was the worst! All because of one child’s bad attitude that the others picked up on. Bad attitudes are contagious!

Have you ever experienced that? How one person can change the atmosphere in a room?

Have you ever been the person who changed the atmosphere in a room?

The Amplified Bible translates 1 Corinthians 15:33 this way: “Do not be deceived: Bad company corrupts good morals.”

This is one of those “be not deceived” passages. Those passages I feel must be important because the Lord does not want us to be deceived by the alternative. So, what would the alternative be?

I’m thinking it’s something like, “Don’t let someone tell you that who you hang around with

won’t affect you at all.”

Attitudes, both good and bad are contagious!

So, then we should make sure we have good attitudes. What does a good attitude look like? Well, the Bible tells us that it looks like the Lord Jesus: “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who… made Himself of no reputation, and took upon Him the form of a servant, and…humbled Himself, and became obedient …” (Philippians 2:5-8)

What does that mean? Now, I’m no Bible scholar, but here’s my idea:

Let this mind be in you” – Think this way:

No reputation” – Not proud or arrogant!

Form of a servant” – Servant-like.

Humbled Himself” – Know who we are and Who God is.

Became obedient” – Obedient to God’s commands.

THAT’S the attitude we should have, and THAT attitude can be contagious, too! Imagine if everyone acted that way! If attitudes are contagious, is yours (and mine) worth catching?

~Graced and Grateful Grammy

A bad attitude is like a flat tire, you can’t go anywhere until you fix it!

The Vending machine

vending-machine“But he knoweth the way that I take: when he hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold.” Job 23:10

Imagine one day I was hungry for some crispy, chocolatey goodness, and I walked up to a vending machine, put in my quarters, and pushed the button for a KitKat® (gimme a break ♫♪, gimme a break ♫♪), I pushed “E5”, and much to my chagrin out popped a Snickers®! I was so disappointed and angry! And, I had a “conniption”- I became so angry at that machine for not giving me what I wanted! But I wanted a KitKat®! I don’t want to have to deal with all those nuts!!”

How silly? Over a bar of chocolate! It was just a mechanical malfunction.

But, isn’t that what we do to the Lord sometimes? We put in our “quarters” of praying, reading our Bible, working in the nursery, teaching a class, being kind, doing a good deed, etc., and we expect God to “gimme a break!” But oftentimes just the opposite happens — we have to deal with a bunch of nuts!!

Well, obviously our Sovereign Lord has a plan, He is not a vending machine with a short circuit. He is our loving Father Who knows what’s best for us, especially when we think we know what is best, and what should drop out the bottom of the vending machine when we put in all our “good works” – which, by the way — the Lord calls “filthy rags” (Isaiah 64:6). He knows that sometimes we need to go through some fiery trials, we need to deal with some nuts, and “when He hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold”.

We need to learn to be thankful for the nuts! That’s what makes us grow in our faith, and eventually makes us perfect, or mature in our walk with the Lord:

Knowing this , that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.” (James 1:3-4)

Remember this next time you think of God as a “vending machine.”

~Graced and Grateful Grammy

Life is like chocolate, sometimes you’ve gotta deal with nuts!

Much Ado About “NOTHING”

1 Corinthians 13 4-7.jpgThough I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing.” (I Corinthians 13:1-3)

This past Sunday evening, our Pastor gave a message on 1 Corinthians 13. He went through all the attributes of love listed in the first eight verses, and although I have read that passage MANY times, something struck me anew this time:

Without love, we have NOTHING!!

To paraphrase the beginning of the chapter:  If I speak eloquently and intelligently, while making good talking points, and philanthropically give generously and often, but don’t do it with love – IT IS WORTH NOTHING!

NOTHING!

Wow! Don’t we all wish that we could speak well in front of people, that we could actually SAY all those things we rehearsed so expressively to ourselves earlier in the car, that others would admire our ability to speak and teach, and that we could give lots of money away to various charities? Why is that? Is it so we have the applause of men? It’s really pride and selfishness that makes us want to look good to others, that’s Much Ado. About NOTHING.

Well, without love, God’s Word tells us that those things are worthless!

We all have the most valuable gift within each of us. If you are born-again, you have the Holy Spirit indwelling you, and the fruit of the Spirit is LOVE (Galatians 5:22). We can choose to be loving in our speech and actions, and THAT is more valuable than being able to speak well or give generously.

My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth.”(1 John 3:18)

How about that! We had it all along! We had the SOMETHING that we need. We can all choose to love, and THAT is SOMETHING!

~Graced and Grateful Grammy

Nothing is impossible with God

Window Washing

window-smear7And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but perceivest not the beam that is in thine own eye? Either how canst thou say to thy brother, Brother, let me pull out the mote that is in thine eye, when thou thyself beholdest not the beam that is in thine own eye? Thou hypocrite, cast out first the beam out of thine own eye, and then shalt thou see clearly to pull out the mote that is in thy brother’s eye.” Luke 6:41,42

I have a confession to make:

I don’t really like washing windows.

No matter how much elbow grease I put into it, they always seem smeared. I have to keep going back and forth to each side, because once I think I have it clean on one side I see a smear and rub and rub, but then realize it’s on the other side, and so on, and so on…

(That’s why I usually pay my kids to do them!)

I once heard a speaker on the radio say, “finding fault is like washing windows – all the dirt always seems to be on the other side!” Isn’t that the truth?

It is so easy to see other people’s character flaws, annoying habits, and just downright sinful behavior. But, it is so easy to overlook our own, excuse it away and act like it’s no big deal, and it doesn’t really hurt anyone else, anyways. Right?? WRONG!! Sin always hurts ourselves as well as the others around us!

We have heard the above passage so many times about the mote and the beam, where Jesus is using a practical, physical occurrence to drive home a spiritual principal. It sure makes sense, though: If you have a two-by-four sticking out of your face, how in the world can you see to pick out a little speck in someone else’s eye?? You’ve gotta get rid of that log in your eye first! Don’t even think about trying to help someone else when you have such an obvious issue of your own.

It is the same with finding faults in others. Make sure that you have asked God: “Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” (Psalm 139:23,24) Once you have humbled yourself, repented, and confessed of your own sin, they you can ‘see your way clear’ to help that other person. Confide in them that you struggle with some sins of your own and that you understand this battle we all have with our flesh. Encourage them, restore them: “Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted.” (Galatians 6.1)

If a brother or sister is battling sin in their life, the LAST thing they need is some self-righteous, pompous person pointing out the obvious (their eye-problem) and berating them for not wearing the proper protective eye-gear, and for being so stupid as to let something get in in the first place!! No. They need someone to be “speaking the truth in love” (Ephesians 4:15) to them, gently taking them by the hand, telling them it will be okay, and that restoration and forgiveness is possible – “Let me help you get that out –I’ll go with you to the eye Doctor, I’ll put the drops in your eyes if you can’t do it yourself”. (By the way, my husband is the biggest baby when it comes to putting drops in his eyes, I literally have to sit on him on the couch, hold his head back and force his eye open so I can put them in –thankfully, he doesn’t need it very often!) THAT’S loving others. THAT’S loving God by loving his other children.

Now, go wash those windows –both sides!!

~Graced and Grateful Grammy

Some people find fault like there’s a reward for it” (Zig Ziglar)