Coffee Talk 2015: Week 6 {Are You Sure PMS is Real?}

Biblical Solutions for Problems with Ourselves
“Are You Sure PMS is Real?”
By Brittany Cady

coffee talk online edition pictureNo matter what stage of life you’re in, being a woman is part of what defines your identity. Some of the gifts God has given us as women are heralded with high praise: our nurturing nature, or our capacity to understand and empathize with others. Other traits we possess can be embarrassing or the topic of jokes. PMS (Premenstrual Syndrome) is one of those taboo topics. Men won’t touch it with a 10 foot pole and we women are usually more comfortable making jokes or complaining about it than really addressing any real issues at hand.

Martha Peace discusses the wide range of symptoms that can be associated with PMS and acknowledges that for many women that time of the month can be extremely challenging. She offers 11 ideas on how to help us deal with our own “symptoms” during the week to 10 days that we may suffer with PMS. Some of the solutions she offered were helpful in assessing your character biblically regardless if PMS is something that you struggle with or not.

First, she suggests that you should, “make an honest assessment of your character weaknesses” p 105. Is that not something that we should have a good grasp of anyway? If we don’t know our weaknesses how can we strengthen ourselves in those areas, and how can we work on improving? She also suggests that we spend time preaching to ourselves in the midst of the emotional turmoil that often accompanies PMS. Listening to the varying emotions swirling around in our minds can often lead us to places we do not need to go (Philippians 4:8). Other solutions offered include: being organized, maintaining a good diet and exercise, not overcommitting during the PMS time of the month, or asking for help from a good girlfriend or your husband and together developing a plan of action (accountability).

The most important take away from this chapter is to “realize that the mood swings are real and difficult, but not an excuse to sin” p 106. We may be especially susceptible to outbursts of anger, giving in to depression, or feeling yucky physically. However, we are never given an excuse to give in to the temptation to sin. My favorite tip of Martha’s is to “turn your focus from yourself to God and others” p.110.  She discusses several ways to practice this tip:  “pray for others; thank God for______; fulfill your responsibilities whether you feel like it or not; sing praise songs and hymns or play them from a tape or CD; tell God that you love Him, trust Him, and that He is good; (and) work on new or review older Scripture memory” p 110.

Any time hormones rage we can feel out of control. For me, any time I have been pregnant I have been an emotional mess, exhausted, and irrational. I can remember living weeks on end in complete annoyance with everyone and everything! Regardless of our physical or psychological symptoms, we are accountable for our thoughts and actions before the Lord. We may have trouble controlling the way we feel, or the thoughts that pop into our heads when our hormones are on overdrive, but we can control our reactions. Our loving heavenly Father “will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it” 1 Cor. 10:13b. Don’t give in girls!  Don’t buy the lie that the world feeds us that PMS is an excuse to eat everything in sight, fly off the handle at the slightest disturbance, or give in to the sinful thoughts that come to mind. If PMS has you captive, make a plan of action and start with reading this chapter!

Questions:

  1. If you struggle with PMS, what plan of action do you have for dealing with its symptoms?
  2. What are some ways we can come alongside each other and be an encouragement to one another in relation to struggling with PMS?

Coffee Talk 2015: Week 5 {Hurt Feelings} Part 2

(You can read Part 1 here.)

Biblical Solutions for Problems with Others
What Difference Does It Make What He Intended?
Hurt Feelings Part 2
Christie Ballewske

coffee talk online edition pictureSometimes people hurt us unintentionally. Martha properly places blame on the one who got caught in the crossfire. With myself front and center, I will agree with Martha, we are far too sensitive and self absorbed. We need to be actively overlooking these hurts and lovingly assuming the best of others.

For the intentional hurts of others, it is their sin, yet we are responsible to overcome those hurts biblically. Here are the eight practical ways Martha offers as a biblical solution to overcome the intentional hurts of others.

  • Show love to God and the person sinning against you. We accomplish this by obeying God’s word. Ask yourself “How does God want me to respond?”
  • Thank God for the test. We need to look at everything from an eternal perspective and ask, “What does he want me to learn from this?”
  • Overcome evil with good. Resist the natural tendency to fight evil with evil.
  • Give a blessing instead.
  • Pray for those who mistreat you. (I thought, “Do hard things”, when I read those three!)
  • Speak the truth in love. Don’t feel the need to respond right away as we might be caught off guard and often in such times, we speak for sinful gain.
  • Lovingly confront the person who has sinned against you. Ask yourself, “how would you like to be confronted about it?”
  • Bring other witnesses into the situation if necessary.

When we see our own offense in it’s true light, only then can we see the gospel in it’s true light. The true light of the gospel is so illuminating that we can’t help but forgive, because we have been forgiven of much! When we remember that and then seek to love God and love others, we are responding righteously and we can be properly restored to a brother/sister.

Earlier in the chapter she says it nicely, “Our Lord endured much suffering due to the intentional hurts of others.” We also participate to a tiny degree in the “fellowship of His sufferings” when by His grace we respond righteously. Jesus not only suffered far worse than us, but did it for us. He did it perfectly. He was rejected, betrayed, defiled and humiliated by his bride. Since He was human and knows our sufferings, He is patient as He empathizes with us. He is also God, therefore, empowering us like no therapist in this world can, to overcome hurt, even the deepest of hurts. Praise be to God.

Discussion questions:

  1. Do you have an “unforgivable”? Do you believe you have a “right” to that?
  2. Thinking of your deepest hurt, have you responded righteously, or do you believe it’s the exception?
  3. What does it mean to “fellowship in His suffering”? Make it personal.

Coffee Talk 2015: Week 5 {Hurt Feelings} Part 1

Biblical Solutions for Problems with Others
What Difference Does It Make What He Intended?
Hurt Feelings
Christie Ballewske

coffee talk online edition pictureWe can all agree that there are some offenses that are trivial, but we’ve all had that one hurt that resurfaces like vomit. All it takes is a weak moment in our thought lives to be utterly defeated by it. Martha wisely states:

“Feelings are emotions, and emotions occur after we think something.”

So essentially, we “choose” hurt feelings. Like a magnet, our minds will grip a hurt for as long as we allow it. Especially if we believed our hurt is “justified.” Offenses like betrayal, rejection, deceit, and violation are thought to be unforgivable. The world says we have a “right” to those hurt feelings. Can I gently say, we are not of this world! It is Jesus Christ who is sin bearer, so Sisters, what right do we have to unforgiveness? The grip our mind has on our hurts is great because we have forgotten or loosely remember the gospel.

Everyone has hurts that are not so easily overlooked or forgiven. Listen to the response Jesus gave Simon in Luke 7:47:

“For this reason I say to you, her sins, which are many, have been forgiven, for she loved much; but he who is forgiven little, loves little.”

The “justified hurts” are now dissolved as we see we don’t have a leg to stand on.  When God is faithful to bring us out of an infant stage faith and into maturity, we will begin to see ourselves as the women “whose sins were many.”  As believers, to the degree we understand the gospel, we must conclude that we have no option of reserving any offense to be “unforgiven” and even in limiting our length of love to the offender, we only paint a shallow picture of God’s deep love to His people.

Here’s how I see it when I look through the eyes of the gospel… I remember the moment I stood in front of this church, many of you were there. I took an oath before God. In tears, I vowed to be faithful and true to Him. Then the symbol of that covenant was witnessed as I was immersed into the water. Seemingly, as soon as I dried off, the marriage walk began, and I started to forget how satisfying Jesus was. At times I found myself estranged from my true love as I’d begin seeking comfort in the arms of another. Before long, and without premeditation, I’d find myself in bed with the world. After the first offense, I felt a bit of shame, but like a dog to his vomit, I returned. I cheated on Jesus.

Martha points outs Israel had a lustful eye for anything but God who made them, favored them, and faithfully and lovingly provided for them. They rejected Him. We, like Israel, have committed spiritual adultery. Though we all are victims of hurt, with more confidence, we should boldly proclaim that we are the unfaithful ones. Jesus bought us with his blood. This purchase is nothing short of inflation! The price paid for our ransom continues to hold greater value as our worth continues to fall short and we,  the product, only cheapened with time. We’ve turned a blind eye to Jesus’ sacrifice and tripped over his broken body beneath us, all to embrace our cheap lovers time after time. We are the woman whose sins are many, yet Jesus turns to us, stands in the direct line of fire, and declares, “your sins are forgiven.”

We should never cease to kiss His feet.

Ladies, the point Martha makes is that the offense is ours!  Any hurt we’ve ever experienced is at best, second, next to the rejection of God by his people. Truly, pain is good for God’s children as it helps us understand the pain that we have heaped on Jesus and the grace and forgiveness he has lavished, in return, on us.

(Read part 2 on Thursday to discover the biblical solution to hurt feelings.)

Coffee Talk 2015: Week 4 {Idolatrous Emotional Attachments}

Biblical Solutions for Problems with Others
What Do You Mean I Can Live without Him?
Idolatrous Emotional Attachments
Gaila Roper

coffee talk online edition pictureJenny looked excitedly at her most recent text. It was from Tom, who was her high school sweetheart for two years.  This Saturday was their secret Senior Prom rendezvous she carefully disguised as a date–then a sleepover with Patty her best friend.  In reality, it was to be a special night celebrating their two year relationship at a downtown motel!   Jenny was a church kid with godly parents. She was attracted to Tom, captain of the football team and kind of a bad boy, who ridiculed her faith.  Jenny put up with him because he made her feel special.  Like that time Tom confided to her that nobody understood him or was as patient with him in his insecurities and bad temper.  He said she was good for him and she rationalized that he was well worth the ‘missionary dating’ thing.  My parents will come around to the idea of me and Tom when they see how much we love each other.

Jenny didn’t foresee that her mom and Patty’s mom were also best buds. Jenny’s mom called up Patty’s mom and asked if she could send over some snacks for the girls after their special prom event.  After their phone conversation, Jenny’s mom and dad were shocked that their daughter had deceived them. They prayed together about confronting her. “How could this happen? We’re a Christian home and these kids are in the same youth group!”

After supper they confronted Jenny and everything spiraled down into threats. “You don’t trust me.  We love each other.  He needs me.  I’ve been sharing Christ with him.  Don’t you care about that?   If you ground me or forbid me to see Tom, we will run away. Can you deal with that?”

Her parents, heartbroken and shell shocked, simply said, “honey, we’re deeply hurt that you’ve deceived us for some time.   We’re all too upset emotionally tonight to address this.  Just know that we love you, and we’re going to trust God to help us deal with this in a God honoring way. We’ve called our church elders, and they’re willing to come over tomorrow.  Are you willing to show up?”

Martha Peace opens the chapter with several illustrations as to what an idolatrous emotional attachment looks like. In a similar scenario above, “There is an idolatrous emotional bond that involves inordinate longings and sinful desires to be with the person even if it is obviously wrong.” (page 46)  Inordinate means excessive, or unrestrained according to the dictionary.  Her strong emotional desires have been habitually developed by a belief that what she wants is worth more than honoring God. Jenny knows Tom is an unbeliever. She believes the lie that she cannot live without Tom.

What would be the biblical response to these ungodly desires and beliefs? Encourage Jenny to respond to God based on the objective truth of His Word rather than to how she feels.  Wanting a relationship is a good thing.  Witnessing to Tom is good.  But her intentions and desires of her heart were revealed by how far she was willing to sin, rather than her obedience. She wanted Tom’s acceptance and good feelings more.  There are many layers of unbiblical beliefs in Jenny’s young life. Perhaps she should examine her heart to see if she’s in the faith?

It would be a good thing if her parents could receive some counsel to address this as well as the emotional bondage. Because Jenny is still living in her parents care, all members of the family would benefit from a small accountability group which may consist of a pastor, elders, and a biblical counselor.  Wrong thinking could be addressed and corrected such as, “I don’t want to be alone”, or “I can’t live without him”, or “it’s ok to lie”, etc.  By putting these off, we see Christ is sufficient and promises to never leave us. (Heb.13:5)  She’s also in emotional bondage to sexual sin.  Believers are taught to flee immorality. (1 Cor.6:18-20)  By submitting to this accountability, it will have a humbling and discipling effect, with the promise from God that He gives grace to the humble. (James 4:6)

Are there other ways to engage in an idolatrous emotional bond?

Coffee Talk 2015: Week 3 {Manipulation}

Biblical Solutions for Problems with Others
I’m Supposed to Respond How?
Manipulation

By Christie Ballewske

coffee talk online edition pictureSkimming it over, my first reaction to this chapter was, “I can totally write about this, because I used to be the Queen of manipulation! I saw this as a “past habit,” not a regular offense. The more accurate account started to dawn on my horizon when I read Martha’s words,

“You know you are guilty of sinful manipulation when you don’t graciously take ‘no’ for an answer…”

I was paging through the chapters while having a mutual conversation with my husband one night before bed. I heard my own voice echo as I exclaimed in much laughter, “Pfft, I don’t resort to manipulation anymore! Right?” Suddenly, what began as a mutual conversation, was now just my lonely, foolish voice. First, an awkward moment of silence. Then my husband, gently spoke, “do you know how hard it is to say ‘no’ to you?” Oh! Its high noon and the truth has never been more clear.

I just thought that meant I was cute! I think I honestly believed that when the transfer of headship took place that I had left the “art” of manipulation at home with all of my teddy bears. The truth is that rarely does my husband ever tell me “no.” I’d like to think that it’s because I don’t ask for much and I am a reasonable gal. We all know that is a whopper!

One clarifying truth is that my husband is kindhearted! Like the Lord, he enjoys giving me good things and truly seeks to say “yes” as often as he is able, and because of this,  I have a hard time marking more than a few times he has ever told me “no”. However sweet this is, I must face an awful truth.

When I read the list of “manipulating ploys,” I was shocked that she’d consider some of them “manipulation” while others, well, let’s just say Dan could hang his hat on my cold shoulders! The ones I found puzzling were “sweet talk” and “tears.” I never considered that tears were anything but natural and acceptable, and, frankly, if I were sweet talking, he was still free to say no!

As much as I’d like to stake claim to a quality of cuteness and sensitivity uncommon to women, I must recognize that my tears are at times evidence of a lack of self-control. My tears, sincere as they be, are nonetheless a spell that is often cast when I am unable to accept “no” for an answer. THIS is why my husband finds it difficult to say “no,” NOT my rare cuteness! Rather, I put a spell on him.  So after reading this chapter, I have walked away with several conclusions but more importantly, a biblical solution.

My first conclusion for me personally, is that manipulation is at times unintentional but nonetheless, still manipulative. I’ve also considered that in many cases for me, manipulation can be determined by the effect it has on the my husband. Since he is so sensitive to my feelings and responds so generously to my emotions, I need to be careful when and how I choose to reveal them to him.

Lastly, the Lord desires that women have gentle and quiet spirits. A woman of gentle and quiet spirit is willing to enter the storm of her husband’s “no” and actively seeks to let the spirit alone sway his opinions. She does everything in her power to keep her husband sober of her spells, and reserves her “appeals” for the important stuff, and even then, her countenance shows a trust in God that HE never fails, nor disappoints. We must acknowledge that often, especially if from a husband, the word “no” is a word from God. So let’s, like Martha counseled, honor God graciously by accepting His will for your life in that moment when you hear the word “no” for an answer.

Discussion Questions:

  1. In what ways has God used another person to reveal His momentary will for you?
  2. Tell me of a time when you did not graciously accept “no” for an answer?
  3. What type of manipulation did you resort to? Did you regret that later? Why? Why not?

Coffee Talk 2015: Week 2 {Gossip & Slander}

Damsels in Distress, Chapter 2
Biblical Solutions for Problems with Others
Well, Isn’t It OK If My Mother Told Me?
Gossip and Slander

coffee talk online edition pictureSue was excited about attending the annual Woman’s Spring Luncheon at church.  As she settled down with her food at the table with girlfriends, she noticed that Sally, a sweet elderly lady, was seated across from her and chatting away as usual.  In the midst of all the various conversations, Sally’s tone changed into ‘dumping mode’ as usual. Systematically shredding her downstairs neighbor’s character, Sally continued to criticize her housekeeping to child rearing skills, or lack of them. “Sally”, I said, “could you please stop for a second? We don’t know this woman, but you do, and God has placed her in your life. We are not part of the problem, therefore, not a part of the solution. We all do not need to hear this.  Have you tried to befriend her, invite her over, or shared the gospel with her?” Great. Dead silence.  Then she started up again, stating that this was for prayer.  “No, that is not a prayer, Sally. If you care for her, reach out, pray, and trust God.”  Women were actually relieved to move on.  And we did. We all tolerated this for many years.

What Sally was sharing was probably true.  A biblical response in Sally’s mind could have been, “all this chaotic stuff about my neighbor is true, but that doesn’t give me the right to give a bad report about her, especially disguised as prayer! I’d better be careful about what I share here. Maybe asking them to pray for me to share the gospel and befriend my new neighbor would be more God honoring.”  (Phil. 4:8)

Have you ever been a Sally, or a Sue, or in a group where this has happened? I sure have.  One time many years ago, I was so angry at a family member for hurting me that I dumped private information onto six or so persons and then had to call each and every one back to ask for forgiveness!  Then I had to humble myself and ask the ‘person’ who hurt me, to forgive me! My anger and emotions overrode my love and obedience to Christ.  My biblical response should have been, “even though that relative was unrepentant, I am going to show love to them by not continuing to ‘take into account a wrong suffered’ and not replaying the sordid details over and over in my mind and out loud. (1 Cor 13:5) (page 42).

So how do I lovingly shut a person down or even myself when obviously going down the road to slander?  You could use the example given above and recognize that sinful thoughts begin in our hearts. “The Bible does not command us to change our feelings; it commands us to renew our minds (Rom.12:2). We do this by simply studying, meditating on, and memorizing the Bible, as well as by hearing it preached. Then when we realize that our thoughts and (gossiping and slanderous) speech are wrong, we are responsible to change our thoughts and speech. This is what Paul calls “lay(ing) aside the old self…” and “put(ting) on the new self” (see Eph 4:22-24). We don’t have to live by our habits.  It says in James 4:6 that ‘He gives a greater grace…’.(page 43)

Martha states that the Greek word for gossip is diabolis. We get our English word devil from it; It means to accuse or give false information.  Slander is blasphema, and connotes evil speaking or vilification (to malign or disparage).   Our speech is the fruit of our heart.  It reveals our thoughts, intents, wants and beliefs (Mark 7:20-23).  Do I speak truth in my heart and take care not to slander, secretly before the face of God or openly before men? (Psalm 15). Let the words of Phil 4:8 and 1 Cor 10:31 be your grid for truth in your heart as you put off and then put on God honoring speech for His glory.

Have you, like me, been guilty of gossip and slander? If so, repent, and thank God for His forgiveness. Go back and humbly make it right. Are you willing to go back to the person(s) you offended and ask for forgiveness in what you had no right to share?   Have you been a victim of gossip? Try to gain their good will, if possible, by approaching them kindly and graciously with the truth (Rom 12:18, 1 Cor 4:13). Did you rather tell your mother or girlfriends or rant on Facebook that you were offended? What should be your biblical response?  So what will you do in your mind renewal process to put off evil speech?  You can change you know.  Work hard at putting off sin and putting on Christ.  The focus has to be Him.

Coffee Talk 2015: Week 1 {Introduction}

Coffee Talk: Online Edition
Damsels in Distress by Martha Peace
Chapter 1

coffee talk online edition pictureI was first introduced to Martha Peace at a Women’s Conference in 2001.  As she gave her testimony, she shared what her life was like before she came to Christ. Martha was a young, independent, professional woman who was pretty much living life for herself and indulging in the pleasures the world had to offer her. She was unhappy, full of anxiety, and her marriage was headed for divorce court.

But God had other plans for her.  He put Katrina, a faithful, Christian coworker in her life who incessantly prayed for her and witnessed to her for over a year until one day God opened Martha’s heart to the Gospel and her need for Him.

Martha states in the opening paragraph of the book, “Shortly before I became a Christian, I had so many problems that it would have been difficult to name them all. Afterward, I realized that my biggest problem had been solved because God had cleansed me from and forgiven me for my sin. It would be wonderful to report that from then on I had no problems. However, that’s not true. Fortunately for me, God provided resources to help me either solve or cope with those problems. The resources were being a Christian, the Scriptures, learning about the character of God, and my friend Katrina.”

God has given Martha a desire and heart to disciple and counsel women and her favorite place to do that is around her kitchen table with her Bible and cup of coffee in hand. In this book, Martha wants to share with us what she hears around her kitchen table. These are all problems common to women. But she doesn’t stop there; she wants to encourage us that we aren’t without hope as there is a biblical solution and application for every problem we face.

You will be hearing from Gaila, Brittany, Christie and myself; four women in different seasons of life. We will share with you problems common to women and the biblical solutions God has provided for all of us. Some of these problems concern others such as gossip, manipulation, and hurt feelings; other problems concern ourselves such as vanity, PMS and legalism; and other problems deal with the world in general such as feminism, women’s roles in the church and trials.

So grab your favorite cup of coffee or tea and sit down in that comfy place and join us every week for this online version of Coffee Talk. Better yet, buy a book and follow along with us. Next week you’ll be hearing from Gaila about gossip and slander, one of the problems all women struggle with. We want to hear from you and have you join in the conversation, so feel free to comment at the end of each blog.

Examining My Priorities

It’s that time of year again–hopefully you’re thinking along the lines of how you can do this year better. As a Christian woman, wife, mom, and grandma, I’d like to bring more glory to God this year in each of these areas. If I’m able to honor Him in all these God-given roles then I should be able to be a better witness to the unbelievers in my life.

Giving God glory has to begin with His Word. I have to know what He loves and what He hates. So, the first area that I look at is how I’m doing with my bible reading. If you are like me there’s always room for improvement. When I’m behind, I schedule a time to catch up, if not it doesn’t happen. Then I ask myself about the other disciplines–prayer, memorization, meditation, studying, journaling, and fasting. Could I do better this year, the answer is always, yes. So, what would I like to change? Again, I have to schedule my disciplines or it won’t happen. Sometimes even then my plans are supplanted by emergencies or things that just can’t wait. These are His plans for me so I know I can’t complain or lose heart.

Next, I look at 1 Peter 3:1-6, “In the same way, you wives, be submissive to your own husbands so that even if any of them are disobedient to the word, they may be won without a word by the behavior of their wives, as they observe your chaste and respectful behavior. Your adornment must not be merely external—braiding the hair, and wearing gold jewelry, or putting on dresses; but let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the imperishable quality of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is precious in the sight of God. For in this way in former times the holy women also, who hoped in God, used to adorn themselves, being submissive to their own husbands; just as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord, and you have become her children if you do what is right without being frightened by any fear.”

I prayerfully ask how I’m doing with respecting and submitting to my husband.  By the way, as our God-given head what our husband wants us to do is our highest priority. Again, I can always do better! I’m thankful to be able to remind myself of 1 John 1:9, I confess yet again, thank Him for forgiving me, and praise Him for choosing to look at me and not see my sin because Jesus has already paid for it on the cross!

Then, I look at Titus 2:3-5, Older women likewise are to be reverent in their behavior, not malicious gossips nor enslaved to much wine, teaching what is good, so that they may encourage the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be sensible, pure, workers at home, kind, being subject to their own husbands, so that the word of God will not be dishonored.” Titus 2:3-5 tells me what I should be doing as an older woman.  Because my home is where my husband lives and my kids and grandkids visit, it should be a place where they can relax. For younger women or unmarried women, Titus 2:3-5 is your goal as a Christian woman. If you aren’t married this verse still has many targets with which to aim.

I hope that you will join me in examining yourself, using our faithful, gracious Father’s words, so that we can strive to honor Him.

A Year in Homemaking: Ordered Heart, Ordered Home – Part 3 {Week 50}

{Click here to view all of the “A Year in HomeMaking” posts}

“But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” (Matthew 6:33).  “The command is to seek God’s kingdom first. The promise is that as we do, God will provide for our temporal needs. Because we are often fainthearted regarding the promise of God, we find it difficult to obey His command.  Consequently we often give the affairs of this life top priority in the basic decisions of our lives.”(Jerry Bridges, ‘The Pursuit of Holiness’, page 143).

This is part 3 in the Ordered Heart/Ordered Home series.  We will focus on clutter and downsizing.  Right, in 500 words or less!   Previously we quoted the verse in Matthew 11:28 and 1 Corinthians 10:31 where both had the commands, not suggestions to ‘come, learn of Me’ and ‘whatever you do…do for the glory of God.’ What do these Scriptures , as well as the quote above have to do with keeping house?   They focus us on God’s commands, and God’s promises.  They very much engage the belief/motive section of my heart.  And we know by now that what we really believe comes out in our behaviors.  The desires of my heart always dictate my choices. So why do we have to talk about all this heart change stuff anyway? Or have accountability?   All I want is to get rid of clutter, and downsize a bit so I can be more organized! Right, just tell me how to fix my mess,  and don’t mess with my head….

Usually it is wise to ask the “buried in clutter” person, ‘what is it that you want my help for?’   It does help to examine yourself to see how this became an issue for you, and your family. Remember, they suffer too in your mess.  We can’t always assume that people with clutter/messes are lazy or disobedient.  Sometimes they are, and that can be corrected by addressing their heart like we’ve mentioned above.  But often clutter can happen due to a new baby in the house, chronic illness, death, or a major crisis.

When you go into a house ‘to help’, remember, these are folks who are overwhelmed, weary, fainthearted, burdened. Ask, ‘how can I help?’ or sit down for a while with them and inquire how have they been lately, or what would you like to see done here.  Be patient, and take the time to know their story.  You can guide them out of the mess with caring, truth-filled words of encouragement. Words like, “yes, it’s a mess, but let’s map out a plan of attack, and begin to work in one area at a time.” Working side by side, clear out a small area of the room for a keep, toss, and donate pile.  Go through the stuff quickly, separating each category.  When the pile gets big, bag the trash pile and take it out immediately. Then box the donations, label and take to the holding area preferably the garage or car trunk (to haul away).  These two action steps will clear space in your room immediately so you can keep sorting and doing the same routine until you move quickly through the whole room. The ‘keep’ pile will still be there, of course, waiting to be arranged in that pared down room.  You will be able to have a better feel for what you want that room to be used for when you examine the furniture & accessories that remain. Then you can make a decision later on of what is truly useful and meaningful to you.

Getting rid of clutter doesn’t have to be so hard if you focus your heart on things eternal.  The verses shared in this series contain commands as well as promises of God’s faithfulness. He knows what things we have need of.   In Colossians 3:2-3 Paul says, “set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth. For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is our life, is revealed, then you also will be revealed with Him in glory.”   Leave the stuff—and cleave to Christ.

December 25: The Theme of My Song

candle-holiday-lights-header
Matthew 3:13-17

Though no one could have known all of this at the time, Jesus was the priest who became the sacrifice, the king who took on the form of a servant, the prophet who himself was the Word of God.  He was Immanuel, God with us –Son of God, Son of Man.

But the death and resurrection of Jesus only makes sense through the lens of his birth.  God’s eternal Son, who was present at creation when God made man in his likeness, humbled himself and took on flesh, born in the likeness of man.  The Maker knitted him together in Mary’s womb, fearfully and wonderfully forming each tiny part in the depths of her waters.  God saw his unformed body.  Every day ordained for him was recorded in his Father’s book of life before a single one had come to pass.

dec 25And now he has come.

Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.

Excerpt taken from Behold, the Lamb of God by Russ Ramsey.  (Pg. 178)