Peace of My Heart

An encouraging voice to drown out the noise

~Blinded By The Log~ November 4, 2013

Tomorrow is election day and can I just say how glad I will be when it’s all over!  I have had about all the “he said, she said”, slanderous, malicious, back-biting campaigns I can take!

Why is it that politicians ads focus more on what the other guys did wrong instead of what they themselves propose to do right?  I find it rather frustrating that they are spending exorbitant amounts of money tearing each other down all the while one of our countries biggest issues is debt.  Does anyone else take issue with this?

Show me the guy (or gal) that runs an honest campaign, focusing solely on their morals and intentions if elected and that’s the one who gets my vote.

In the last couple of weeks, it’s gotten to where every other ad on television is politically based.  Having it been so in-your-face, I couldn’t help but draw a parallel to campaigns and life right where we’re at.

How many of you have ever dealt with a “politician” in your life?  You know the type.  Someone who uses the vast majority of their time and energy putting the focus on what everyone else around them is doing wrong so that hopefully no one will notice their own blunders.  I would venture to say you have all been either on the receiving end of this sort of behavior…or you have even been the guilty party a time or two (gasp)!

I find that people are more receptive to what I have to say when I use my own personal experiences as an example.  Today I’m turning the tables….I’m going to show you how I’ve been the ugly politician.

My marriage has had it’s fair share of ups and downs (relax honey, I’m not airing our dirty laundry).  We have argued, hurt one another’s feelings and  neglected the other’s needs.  In the midst of one our more recent valleys, I found myself making a list of everything he did wrong.  It was locked away in my mind, but that doesn’t make it any less dangerous.  All of my thoughts were centered around his short-comings.  My attitude and actions towards him were reflective of this list that scrolled through my mind on repeat.  Not once did I pause to think of my role in the problem.  I justified my behavior thinking that surely everyone would see it my way if I were to point out all his flaws, so to speak.  Then one day it hit me.  It was if the Holy Spirit gently asked me, “what about you?”

You see, I was behaving just like the politicians that get on my last nerve.  I was painting this hideous picture of my opponent, aka hubs, hoping that if I could keep the attention on all the wrong things he had done, no one would notice where I was falling short, myself included.  As I said, this battle was happening internally, but eventually it would have come out because what you say flows from what is in your heart (Luke 6:45).  I would have bad mouthed my partner in this life in hopes of gaining favor with those around us.

Maybe you can relate to this example and you’ve been the one dishing the dirt.  Or maybe you’ve encountered a “politician” in friendship, the workplace, or heaven forbid, church!  May I encourage you today?  When faced with someone bent on tearing you down, before you turn it into a full blown mud-slinging showdown, take pause and think of what personal demons they may be battling that is making them point the finger at you.  If you are like me and are doing the finger pointing, look inwards and perhaps you will find that you have some work you need to do and that other person isn’t so bad after all.

“For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.  “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?  How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye.’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye?  You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your bother’s eye.”

(Matthew 7:2-5 NIV)

 

~Goody-Goody Is A Bad Thing?~ September 25, 2013

hurt peopleRecently I was talking to a young lady who is oftentimes ridiculed for being a “goody goody” and it made me think of so many other young people who are made to feel ashamed for being good Christians.  What kind of a messed up world are we living in when those who live righteously are mocked?  When did it become acceptable to belittle someone based solely on the fact that they have chosen a life that lines up with the Word as opposed to submitting to the pressure that the world places on them to conform?

This is not exclusive to our children.  Many adults are faced with this same trouble.  Friends poke fun behind their backs because they don’t participate in the same “recreational” activities or refuse to follow the crowd.

Well, the good news is, those who are being mocked right now…you are in the same shoes that Jesus once walked.  So let people laugh and make fun.  Recall to mind the words of your childhood, “sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me!”  Don’t respond to their attacks in anger, but with gentleness and grace.  It has been my experience that people make fun of what they don’t understand.  So make it a point to show them the way to the same Jesus that you serve by not retaliating.  After all, if you seek vengeance, are you really any different than the rest of the world?

 “Who is going to harm you if you are eager to do good?  But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. “Do not fear their threats; do not be frightened.”  But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect,  keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander.   For it is better, if it is God’s will, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil.”

(1 Peter 3:13-17 NIV)

 

~The Word As My Weapon~ July 4, 2013

“He reached down from heaven and rescued me; he drew me out of deep waters. He rescued me from my powerful enemies, from those who hated me and were too strong for me. They attacked me at a moment when I was in distress, but the LORD supported me. He led me to a place of safety; he rescued me because he delights in me.”

(2Samuel 22:17-20 NLT)

What is your “powerful enemy” that has you drowning in deep waters today? Who is holding you down beneath the darkness attempting to drown you? Which one of life’s struggles have you so bound that you can’t see the light hovering just above the water’s surface? God is there, with His mighty hands, reaching down to lift you to a place of safety. Your enemy may be a strong one, but God is all the more powerful.

Are you facing financial ruin, with a mountain of debt that seems impassable?

“You can even say to this mountain, ‘May you be lifted up and thrown into the sea,’ and it will happen.” (Matthew 21:21 NLT)

Is your marriage falling apart before your eyes, struggling with forgiveness of some past hurt?

“He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.” (Psalm 147:3 NIV)

Have your children rejected God and instead chosen to live dangerously close to the edge?

“Direct your children onto the right path and when they are older, they will not leave it.” (Proverbs 22:6 NLT)

No matter what you are facing, God is standing at the ready saying, “I’ve got a word for that.” His Word is full of promises just waiting for us to take hold of. The enemy is clever and knows just how to manipulate each one of us. If we stay in the Word and commit it to memory, we will be armed and ready for any hurdle that satan throws onto our path. Don’t lie down and admit defeat today, stand up and fight. Hold up your shield of faith as you battle using the Word of truth as your weapon.Two Edged Sword

“In all these things, we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.” (Romans 8:37 NIV)

 

~What happened to grace?~ June 27, 2013

graceSocial media has once again inspired me.  It seems that everyone has an opinion on a certain well-known Southern lady and something that she did or said many years ago.  Now, before anyone fires off hate mail my way, let me make my point.

What we all are seeing, hearing, and reading about this case is only what the media is allowing, so I believe we’d all agree that our information is limited.  Do any of us really know what this woman said or thought 30 years ago or even yesterday for that matter?  I understand that she made offensive remarks about a certain ethnic group, and I am not defending that fact.  However, how many of us can stand up and say we have not once ever said something derogatory, discriminating or offensive about another human being?

“Indeed, there is not a righteous man on earth who continually does good and never sins.”

(Ecclesiastes 7:20 NASV)

It is because she is in the limelight that her mistake is being broadcast for all the world to see.  And it is for this same reason that most of America feels they have a right to judge her.  But what if someone flung open the door to our past so that all of our transgressions were laid out for the whole world to see?  How many of us would lose friends over something we or they did many years ago?

My girlfriend and I were talking about this last night at church and it all comes down to one word: grace.  The vast majority of our population has no grace.  There is no forgiveness of wrongs, no room for human error, nor is there any mercy.  Someone blunders and the world cries foul and screams for justice.  The offender attempts to apologize and we collectively turn our backs refusing a 2nd chance.  Why?  We are neither judge nor jury.  It is not our place to sit back and condemn another HUMAN BEING from the comfort of our homes based solely on what we think we know.  The truth of the matter is, no one knows another’s heart condition.  We can’t see into someone’s heart and know if they are sincere or simply tossing out words that they think we want to hear.  But that’s not our problem.  We are supposed to forgive and leave the judgment to Christ.

“Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.”  (Ephesians 4:32 NLT)

“If you forgive those who sin against you, your heavenly Father will forgive you.  But if you refuse to forgive others, your Father will not forgive your sins.”  (Matthew 6:14-15 NLT)

“Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.”  (Luke 6:37 NIV)

I could go on with verse after verse but they all carry the same message, forgiveness is far sweeter than judgment.  Think of it this way, how would you want others to respond if it was your fanny in the hot seat?  Just a little something to think about today.

*I feel I should add that this post is not about where I stand on what this particular woman did.  I really just wanted to give people a different perspective on how we respond to our fellow brothers and sisters in the midst of a “scandal.” *

 

~Undervalued~ June 13, 2013

Social media tells me a lot about people and the completely backwards world we live in.  One day someone is airing their dirty laundry about a spoiled relationship due to unfaithfulness, a friendship gone wrong because of loose lips or whatever else may have said person upset.  Within a day or so, the very same person is singing the praises of the offender that caused them enough turmoil that they felt it necessary to share with the world.  What is wrong with this picture?!

I happen to think it’s a result of people undervaluing themselves.  If you don’t think you are worthy of being treated with love and respect, then chances are, the people you surround yourself with are going to think the same.  While my lady friends tend to be most guilty of having low self-worth, there are quite a few fellas out there who struggle with the same problem.  For whatever reason, some of you honestly believe you deserve the poor treatment that your “loved ones” throw your way.  It could be that growing up you were made to believe that you would never amount to anything by someone that should have been lifting you up.  Or perhaps you’ve experienced so many failed relationships you feel you have to settle for whatever you can get, even if they treat you like a doormat.

I just can’t take it anymore.  People, you are children of God.  That should be enough to make you see that you are worthy.  God does not make trash, so stop letting people treat you as if all you deserve are scraps.  He makes everything glorious, that includes you!  No one deserves to be made to feel as though they don’t matter enough to be loved and held in high regard.  I’d also like to point out that there is a big difference in forgiving someone and allowing them to continue to use and abuse you.

Snap out of it and realize that you are God’s treasure and no amount of mistakes or past hurts can take that away from you.  You alone determine how others will treat you.  If you allow someone to put you down and take advantage of you, there will always be someone out there who will do just that.  However, if you look at the Word of God and see what your Creator has to say about you, then I can assure you that your self-worth will skyrocket.

I wanted to share just a couple of verses that will hopefully serve as a reminder of how precious and priceless you are.

“Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex!  Your workmanship is marvelous-how well I know it.”

(Psalm 139:14 NLT) 

“But you are the ones chosen by God, chosen for the high calling of priestly work, chosen to be a holy people, God’s instruments to do his work and speak out for him, to tell others of the night-and-day difference he made for you—from nothing to something, from rejected to accepted.”

(1 Peter 2:9-10 The Message)

“Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered.  Don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.”

(Luke 12:7 NIV)

Having read just these handful of scriptures, do you still think of yourself as worthless?Knowyourworth

 

~Graduate~ May 31, 2013

graduationThese last couple weeks have been full of major milestones in the lives of our children.  First we had Emma’s preschool graduation, time for big girl school!  Then my beautiful step-daughter, known around here as Kiki, graduated from high school.  Next up were the two 5th graders, Peyton & Autumn, who celebrated their final year of elementary school with a promotion ceremony.  We small town Southerners like to celebrate every step!

Each program was different but they each held the same theme.  It’s time to move forward.  The kids were encouraged to leave the things of their previous years behind, to use them as a learning experience and to embrace what their futures held for them at the next stage of life.  It was funny to me how the same message could apply to a 5 year old, 11 year olds and a 17 year old!

Then I got to thinking how we go through many “graduations” in our lives; again, the message often being the same.  When we move through the various stages of our lives, we have to leave behind the former things and focus on what’s to come.  However, we become so consumed by things of our past, that our present is neglected and our future seems nonexistent.

While we are young, we can make the mistake of living a care-free life, using the excuse that we are young and just want to have a good time before the responsibilities of adulthood kick in.  Scripture warns us:

“Don’t let the excitement of your youth cause you to forget your Creator.  Honor Him in your youth before you grow old and say, “Life is not pleasant anymore.”

(Ecclesiastes 12:1 NLT)

As we get older and make the common mistakes that teens and early twenty-somethings often do, we can allow the shame and embarrassment of those mistakes to haunt us.  We can become gripped by fear that someone from our past will pop-up in our present and cause those in our lives now to look down on us with disdain.  Don’t worry, there is a Word for that too:

“Do not be afraid; you will not be put to shame. Do not fear disgrace; you will not be humiliated. You will forget the shame of your youth…”

(Isaiah 54:4 NIV)

Now you’re an adult and you’ve blown it big time.  You had a child out of wedlock, you’re divorced, you filed bankruptcy, you had an affair…this list could rattle on forever.  You are so wrapped up in the mistake that you made that the future looks dim at best and insignificant at worst.  Try this approach:

“…I focus on this one thing:  Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead.  I press on…”

(Philippians 3:13 NLT)

No matter what season of life you currently find yourself in, there is no sense in living in your past.  You must graduate on to the next thing God has in store for you.  Even if your past holds no regrets or mistakes; (first of all, you’re fooling yourself, we ALL have something lingering from our past where we’d like a redo); you can’t live off your past victories either.  This may very well be one of if not the best “life” Scriptures:

“But forget all that-it is nothing compared to what I am going to do.  For I am about to do something new.  See, I have already begun!  Do you not see it?”

(Isaiah 43:18-19 NLT)

The point being, if you are so busy looking back, you’re going to miss what’s coming right at you!  Who wants to realize they’ve missed God because their past was at the forefront of their heart and mind instead of the present?  There is a reason why our eyes are in the front of our heads and not the back!

 

~Life is but a Breath~ May 22, 2013

Lord, remind me how brief my time on earth will be.  Remind me that my days are numbered-how fleeting my life is.  You have made my life no longer than the width of my hand.  My entire lifetime is just a moment to You; at best, each of us is but a breath.”

(Psalm 39:4-5 NLT)

Every day we are faced with reminders of just how brief our time on earth will be.  Horrific tornados have claimed the lives of many, including little children.  Closer to home, a young girl lost her life in a tragic accident.  The moment I heard the news, this scripture came to mind.  When my momma’s heart was breaking, all I could think about was God’s Word.

What really bothered me, after the news set in, was how I reacted.  Immediately I softened towards my children, thankful that I had every one of them in my presence.  The remainder of the day, I let things slide that normally would provoke my irritation with them.  I could feel a rebuke in my spirit.  Why does it take some horrific event to make me truly cherish each moment with my family?  If I keep these words from Psalms at the forefront of my mind, maybe I would not be so careless in taking my loved ones for granted.  I turned the words on the page into a personal prayer, “Lord, help me remember that my days are few.  Tomorrow, I could be the momma faced with devastating news.  Help me, Lord to be grateful for every moment you give me here on this earth.”

As I was hurting so deeply for this broken family, one of my boys was getting lippy with me.  He was completely unaware that anything was bothering me, he was simply being his typical pre-teen self.  And I couldn’t help but thank God that I had my boy here even if to fight with.

I hope that each one of us would take to heart just how precious our time here together is.  Let us not wait for the next national or local tragedy to open our eyes to how blessed we truly are and be thankful for every day, even the bad ones.

“You do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.”life-as-but-a-vapour2

(James 4:14 NIV)

 

~Freedom in Worship~ April 29, 2013

worship“Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise—the fruit of lips that openly profess his name.”

(Hebrews 13:15 NIV)

Yesterday was a life-changing day for our church.  I struggle to even put into words how God moved among His people.  I will attempt to tell it as a story from my point of view, only to give you a visual of just how powerful and awesome our God is.

As part of the worship team, we began with prayer just before the start of service.  Our leader prayed that God, not us, would lead the service.  That it would be His will that was done to achieve what He desired.  As soon as we sang the first note, I knew this was not going to be an ordinary service.  We don’t live by feelings, but I’m telling you, you could feel the presence of God in that place.  Hands began to go up throughout the room.  As we moved through the set, more and more people began to worship.  And I mean really worship.  No one seemed to care who was around them, who was watching or what they might think.  The Lord was breaking down some barriers for our church.  Song three, “Forever Reign,” and I was lost in my own worship to God.  We moved right into our last song before the message, “You Are Holy,” and the worship being lifted to God was without question, the most beautiful sound I have ever heard.  I was weeping, as were others in the congregation, some had come to the altar while others dropped to their knees with their faces to the ground in the presence of the Lord.

Our Pastor came up and said he felt we needed to remain in an attitude of worship and prayer for the remainder of our time together.  He chose to put aside the message he had prepared in order to allow God to have His way.  He gave an exhortation to the church to get rid of anything that was separating them from God, to dedicate their all to Him.  People began to flood the altar for prayer as the worship team continued to play and the elders and their wives moved throughout the crowd to pray in agreement with those who had came forward.

There truly are no words to describe what God did in those altars yesterday.  It was freeing, humbling and awe-inspiring all at once.  Lives were forever changed in an instant.  Walls that had taken years to build came crumbling down before the Lord.  Hearts that had become closed because of past hurts and heartaches were opened to the love of God.  Souls that had gone astray found their way back onto the path that leads to victory.

It was a glorious day that I feel privileged to have been a part of.  It’s moments like that when you know that the God you serve is real, that He loves you with an everlasting love and that He is near to those who call on Him.

I have attached the song that we sang as performed by CFNI. I pray that you would listen to the words, realize that God can cleanse you of whatever it is that keeps you from fully surrendering to Him, and that your life would be forever changed by the power of His Spirit at work in you.

“And so, dear brothers and sisters,I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him.”

(Romans 12:1 NLT)