Is Your Iron Sharp?

I recently noticed something. Something big. Something profound. Maybe you’ve noticed this, too… but are you willing to admit it? I recently noticed that it is REALLY easy to see the faults in others while being completely blind to my own faults! GASP!!! I know! I’m in my upper 30s, I can’t believe I’m just now figuring this out! My guess is that you’re like me. That you’ve known this little fact for a while, but you haven’t really given it much thought.

I’m at home all day with the amazing task of teaching 4 children. Kindergarten, first, fifth, and sixth grade. I correct grammar, math problems, behavior and bad attitudes all.the.live.long.day! And sometimes, unfortunately sooner than it should, I become short, frustrated, and sometimes downright unloving. This goes on for some time before my husband comes home. Then my husband walks in, who knows what kind of day he’s had (I mean, I didn’t even ask) but he says one comment in a grumpier-than-I’d-like way and BOOM! I’m all over him! “Why are you short!?” “Why are you so frustrated!?” “Why can’t you be more loving!?” I promise, I don’t really shout this! But I am so quick to see it in him… why was I so unwilling to see it in myself?

I know I’m not alone. I’m a facebook user. I see the “advice-seeker” who posts an issue they’re having, asks advice, but then immediately turns angry when the advice doesn’t go their way. I even have a secret group of pastor’s wives that I’ll take my issues to. But as soon as one of them says something that requires me to look inward at my own bad behavior, I want to high tail it out of there! I’ve even deleted my posts so I don’t have to deal with it (I mean, let’s get real here, right?). It isn’t easy when we are faced with our own sins.

I googled “Why is it so hard to be held accountable?” You can’t even imagine how many responses I got to that question… NONE! Not one!  It’s rare to find someone who truly wants to be held accountable. We may SAY we want it. But our actions tell a completely different story. I tell my husband many times a year, “Honey, please talk me off this ledge! Please remind me of my goals of being a loving parent in the midst of my knit picking and nagging.” Then I wonder why he isn’t quick to do so after I bite his head off for not agreeing with me that whistling is the root of all evil. (Oh, have I never mentioned my hatred of whistling and how quickly it makes my blood boil in anger??? Maybe another blog post…). We say we want to be held accountable, but we actually hate correction. I believe this to be one of Satan’s most successful tools. If we can fight against correction, we can turn a blinds eye to the sin that is so easily visible to those close to us.

The word “accountability” isn’t found in the Bible. But the concept is all over the place.  In Hebrews the Author says,
Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near. -Hebrews 10:23-25

The author knows that in order to hold on to our hope without wavering, we’re going to need each other to stir one another up. This is the purpose of gathering together on a regular basis. Our relationships are so important in this process. This is accountability!

To stir up can be translated urge, spur on, or motivate. It can also mean to provoke or irritate. Have you ever tried to cheer up a really grumpy person? It can be downright irritating! It’s not always easy, even when the accountability is coming in an encouraging way. However, this is needed for us to be at our best spiritually. Done right, accountability can be and should be encouraging. The word “encourage” means to call someone to your side in order to strengthen them with your words; it can refer to a variety of encouraging speech: instructing, comforting, admonishing, warning, urging, begging, and consoling. Whatever it takes to pull a friend from the dangers of sin.

I would expect my husband to remove a knife from my hand if I were about to harm myself with it. I would actually feel unloved if he sat back and did not act quickly when he could clearly see I was hurting myself. So why do I feel so attacked when he steps in to lovingly warn me about the sin I’m involving myself in? Done the correct way, accountability should encourage you to choose a more godly path in life. Galatians 6:1-2 says, Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted.  Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.

If God is telling  a person to help restore a friend, He must expect that friend to receive the restoration. Just imagine the change that can come to your life if you’d receive the correction as a blessing instead of an offense. We are to bear one another’s burdens. Why not take some off yourself and let someone help you with it? Sometimes anger is too heavy of a burden to bear, Confess your sins, and let someone pray for you and hold you accountable (James 5:16). Gossip is a hard habit to break. Ask some friends to stop you before you sin against another person, causing both them and you harm. Depression is a dark hole to get lost in, connect with a friend who won’t leave you alone even when you withdraw. Help a friend help you.

Being held accountable isn’t always easy. It isn’t always comfortable. It isn’t always painless. We are called to admonish one another (Colossians 3:16). Admonish isn’t a pleasant word. It means to warn or reprimand someone firmly. Firmly, not harshly. As grown adults (and I guess even as children), we don’t like to be told what to do. Somehow we thought that when we became adults we could do whatever we wanted and no one could tell us what to do! And yet… The Bible tells us that we should admonish one another. I’m sure many of us read that and allow it to give us permission to rebuke others. That’s easy. But what about when you’re the person who needs the rebuke?

As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend. (Proverbs 27:17). Are you sharpened or do you live in a dull state with no desire to live up to your full potential? Try cutting a tomato with a dull knife. It’s a mess. And so is life when we refuse correction. Would you take this sharpening journey with me? Ask someone to hold you accountable. Tell them to be loving, but to correct you on the sin you’re struggling with. And then actually receive the correction. Pray over it, and make the necessary changes in your life. Don’t let your pride ruin your walk with God.

There is no need to be around toxic people who correct, rebuke, and admonish out of mean spirits and divisive intentions. There are people like this lurking behind every corner. They are not there to encourage you, but rather point out your faults, push you down, and walk away. Search for those with their hands outstretched in love pulling you up. Choose a person that loves you, and loves what God could do in your life. Ask someone to come along side you  in order to strengthen you with their words. And then pray for the humble spirit to take their encouragement and grow closer to God.

 

Church is a great place to find this kind of friend. I’d love to invite you to visit us on Sundays at 10a at Crossroads Church in St. James, MN. 721 Weston Ave. Make plans to visit with a friend, I’ll save you a seat!
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Slave to Busyness

In the first year of marriage, I ran circles around my husband. If he took the last drink out of his glass, I hopped up and put it away (whether he was hoping for more to drink or not). I mopped our hardwood floor EVERY.SINGLE.DAY. It was just the two of us. No shoes were worn in the house… but those floors NEEDED to be mopped. There were nights my husband would sit on the couch and say, “Honey! STOP! Come sit with me.” I had to stay busy all the time. Funny thing though, I got off work at 2p (went in at 6a) and cleaned the apartment and took a short nap because, well, I wanted to be completely available to my new husband once he got home from work. Yet, I spent most of the night running around doing… busy work.

We live in a society that glorifies being busy. We value one another based on our schedules and how much space we can fill in on that little hourly grid. We come home and sit just long enough to brag about our busy days on social media… or we do it from our phones on the go.

We see statuses like
– It may be 3am, but I’ve crossed off the 40th thing on my to-do list! #whoneedssleep
-Yep, that’s an empty 12-cup coffee carafe… and it’s only 7am #busyday
-Not sure how I’ll get this paper done, dinner made, house cleaned, dog walked, work completed! #notime
-Up at 6a, and still going strong at 1am #insertyourenergyboostingproducthere

It’s absurd! It isn’t how we were designed. The Bible says, “It is useless for you to work so hard from early morning until late at night, anxiously working for food to eat; for God gives rest to his loved ones.” -Psalms 127:2

All this running here, there, and everywhere (even if you stay in your own house) is useless. Sure, we have to prepare meals, we have to work (whether it be outside the home, or in the home caring for children), we have to maintain our living spaces. There’s nothing wrong with signing up for a sport or book club, or church choir. It’s not useless to volunteer, pursue further education, or train for a better job. Of course if we try to do them all at once, we have to eventually give up rest. And rest is a gift from God.

Busyness can soon become a disease in your life. It can destroy your happiness, your health, and your walk with God. Busyness may get you through life, but it will not BRING you life. John Ortberg says in his book The Life You’ve Always Wanted ,”For many of us the great danger is not that we will renounce our faith. It is that we will become so distracted and rushed and preoccupied that we will settle for a mediocre version of it. We will just skim our lives instead of actually living them.”

I often wonder if the reason we fill every minute of our day with activity after activity, and the reason we boast about all we can fill in to our 24 hours is because society has filled us with this idea that the more we do, the more value we have. And yet, the more we do, the more pressures and temptations we put in our life. We may think that the packed full schedule means success and security and comfort and happiness. But it only attempts to fill a void that only God can fill. Our success isn’t measured in how well we can function on a tiny amount of sleep. Our security isn’t secured in a life with little down time. Our comfort doesn’t seem very comforting when we fill our lives with activities over people, and our happiness will be shallow when we fail to step back, slow down, and find solitude in God.

Hey, I’m not saying I don’t fall into this trap. I do, too often and I’m sure that’s why this is laid on my heart so heavy lately (well, for the past few years really). I see it, I recognize it, and I want out of it. We live in a society where pulling out of the busyness of life isn’t encouraged. We live where fast-food isn’t fast enough, we have to go through the drive-thru and eat in the car. And if that isn’t bad enough, we have replaced our meals with pills and patches, and tiny little power bars. We’ve gotten too busy for simple MEALS… we are in trouble. We put our kids in so many activities that we not only cut into their healthy sleep time, but we have completely done away with family time. Our kids are in school 7 hours a day, given 3 hours of homework, and still encouraged to try for varsity in every season of sports (sometimes those sports even overlap). And this has become so important that church hasn’t found itself on our schedules in months.
We must do something! But what? It’s the world we live in, right?

Author Dallas Willard speaks of a study done where mice were given amphetamines. Some mice were in solitude, some were in a group. It took very high dosages to kill the mice in solitude. However, the mice in the group started hopping around and hyping each other so much that a dosage twenty times smaller was lethal to those mice. They even introduced mice that had not been given ANY drugs to the group and within 10 minutes, the crowd had gotten them so hopped up and hyper that the drug-free mice died. This is the great effect of this “World” that has been created around us. We look at all of our friends get all hyped up on busyness that we feel we need to as well. We begin to put a value on ourselves based on how much we can cram into one day. But, let’s just STOP.

Let’s stop over scheduling our kids. Let’s stop boasting about everything we’ve done that day. Let’s stop letting our to-do list define how great we are. Let’s stop neglecting the rest God has given us.

And let’s start…
1. Planning ahead. When we procrastinate, we find that we cram way too much into a 24 hour period, and we miss out on the abundant life God wants for us. So plan ahead, and be sure to plan some down time into your life.

2. Praying and seeking God first. Give time to solitude with God. If that means getting up before kids do, then go to bed earlier so you can get up after a healthy night’s rest. This also may mean you have to cut something out. *You can also choose to go have time late at night… but only on nights where you can still get healthy amounts of sleep to prepare for your next day.

3. Cutting things out. Yes, getting a degree would help you get a better job. Getting a better job would help your finances. Better finances will…. Well… can I stop here and say, “Not always”. I don’t make 6 figures. And I’m doing great. Money isn’t everything. Simpler living just may be happier living. If you are pushing to get a degree just to get a better job to make more money… stop and ask yourself if that also means more hours away from family and church. I’ve seen this way too many times. Dad goes back to school while working full-time. He tells his family it’s just 2 years, then I’ll have so much more time. But then the new job requires more time away… and the cycle never stops. Maybe this isn’t the time for the new degree. Maybe wait until kids are grown and there is more time to pursue it. (Moms, this goes for you, too). Sports are fun. But don’t allow your kids to fill their time so full that they aren’t learning about quiet times. Stop the cycle now.

4. Take time to do nothing. Don’t plan something in every single slot on your calendar. Leave room to life. Do not be afraid of boredom. Let the day get away from you. You will start to feel free. Probably not right away, since busyness has such a great hold on us. You will have to make this a discipline, or a training in your life. But I guarantee it will bring freedom soon.

5. Change the stigma. Let’s start changing the scene. Stop glorifying busyness. Encourage others to come and enjoy life.

It’s time to change things, to choose another way of living, and to eliminate busyness from our lives.

One last thing… God wants more of you. He values you. He longs to be with you, to be in your thoughts, to be king over all your activities. If rest was good enough for Him… it’s good enough for us.

Ok…so one more thing…
Please watch this funny clip…
And remember, not everything that “saves time” makes life better. 😀

Father’s Day for the Fatherless

There I was, in the aisle surrounded by all the Father’s Day cards. I go in thinking I’ll find a few funny cards for my dad. To tell the truth I don’t even buy my husband cards anymore. Part of his gift is the money saved by NOT buying the card. But, I’m not sure how my dad would feel getting a construction paper stick drawing card from me. So I venture into one of the worst aisles I can… the Father’s Day Card Aisle!

It goes something like this… Read card # 1. It’s half funny/half sentimental. I give a short “ha” but the lump in my throat starts to form. Read card #2. There is no humor to this one, it’s pretty tame, but my bottom lip starts to quiver. Read card #3. It speaks of the support of a father. It mentions a daddy’s love for his children. It covers all the strengths a good dad has, and the power he has in his child’s life. This is the point where I lose it. Tears do not simply fill my eyes, they shoot out. I do not get teary-eyed, I melt into a blubbering mess.

*Ask my husband who left me for a few seconds only to come back and find me this way and had to escort me out of the aisle.*

Why does this happen to me?

There are many reasons.
1. I read the cards while thinking of my dad. My dad met me when he was 24 years old. I was 5, and I wasn’t the only child. He jumped right in and was instant daddy. He worked multiple jobs to provide for us. He grew up with us. He prayed for us, taught us, laughed with us, put up with us. He raised us. He filled a void, and did it well. I think about the sacrifice he made by choosing to be Daddy to me and my heart is full of pride. I’m confident in his love for me, and tears begin to fall down my face.

2. I read the cards while thinking of the man whose name is written on my birth certificate. I think of all he’s missed out on. I think of how quickly he left my life, and the hurt that came with being rejected by him. I think about all the things he chose as he sacrificed a relationship with me. I think about the love I still have for him, and how I think of him often. I think about the what ifs, and I’m sad for the life we lost out on with him. No matter how many years have passed, no matter how great our lives were with my “real” dad that I met at age 5, there is still heartache associated with the thought of him. I give it to God, I have forgiven him. I have prayed for him. I have even friended him on my terms. I genuinely desire great things for him. But the hurt comes out this time every year in that dreaded father’s day card aisle, and my emotions begin to weep.

3. I read the cards and think of my husband, the father to my children (insert the tears pouring down even as I type!). He is everything I ever wanted in a daddy. He is present, he is their support, he is their playmate, their advice giver, their stability. He will never leave them. He will never choose anything above them. And as I read every card, I swell with love for this man who loves my (and his) children with every fiber of his being. I think of the life my kids have because of their daddy. I think of the confidence they have, and will grow up to have all because of their daddy’s love. I’m so proud of the man Pastor has become, a man to father, with total awesomeness, four awesome kiddos. How could I not cry with tears of pure joy!?

4. I read the cards and think of myHe has made my life what it is today. I’m not scarred by the actions of my birth-father, I’m blessed by a young man who did the best he could with what he had, and I live daily with one of the best daddy’s out there. Because of my heavenly Father, I can forgive, look past my past and feel His deep love for me.

I may cry, but I don’t blame. I’m not angry, and I don’t feel abandoned. I’m fulfilled, lacking nothing. I am not sure I could say those things had it not been for my Heavenly Father. My dad may have struggled even worse taking on the role of daddy to two small girls had God’s hand not been on our lives. He accepted Christ as the leader of his life, and was able to raise us as he followed Him. Without that, I don’t know where we’d be today. Because of God and His grace and mercy on my life, I can talk to my biological dad without hard feelings. I can love him with a real love because of my relationship with God. And my kids are reaping the benefits of a godly father because my husband fathers based on his own relationship with God. The blessings never end.

I titled this “Father’s Day to the Fatherless” not because I feel I am fatherless. My daddy-needs were met, and I am forever thankful for that. But that is not the case for many of you reading this today. You walk around daily feeling the effects of rejection in your lives. You feel you don’t measure up, that you’re unworthy of love. You may feel you’ve been searching for love ever since your father left you… which has left you drained and hurt time and time again. Can I tell you there is hope. You can feel love, support, stability, and worth. You can accept a new Father into your life. God is a Father to the fatherless. His love for you is unwavering. He has always been there for you. And you get to be called His child. “… to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God — “ (John 1:12). You can be a child of the greatest Father ever known. You have a Father in heaven asking you to accept Him.
The hurts from you past may not disappear right away, it may take a while to fall away… and it may not ever go away. You may still find yourself in a blubbering mess of tears in the father’s day card aisle. But, you can dry your tears, walk out of the store with a confidence that you are NOT abandoned. You can take a deep breath, dry your tears and rightfully feel loved and wanted. God wants YOU.

If you’re ready to accept this Father into your life, please begin by saying this prayer.

“Lord, I’m hurting. I’m heartbroken by the actions of my father on earth. I feel hopeless, abandoned, and alone. But I know that You are my Heavenly Father. I know that you’ve sacrificed, when earthly men could not. I know I’ve made mistakes. I’ve broken your laws and sin has separated me from you. I’m sorry, and I want to turn away from the past, and look forward to a life with you. I know that your son, Jesus, died for my sins, was resurrected from the dead, is alive, and is hearing my prayers. I want Him in my life. I want a new Father to lead me, and to live with me every day. I’m ready for a fresh start. I invite Jesus to become the leader of my life, to rule and dwell in my heart from this day forward. Please send me your Holy Spirit to help me obey you, to help me feel your deep love for me. I want to feel your presence instead of rejection. I want to feel your love in my life instead of heartache. Help me to do your will in my life. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.   

If you have already accepted the Father into your life, but are still struggling with the idea of Him being a good and gentle Father, begin to pray that God will mend your broken heart. Pray that God will show you the times that He is present and working in your life. I’ve already started praying for you! You don’t have to live in the past hurts, there IS freedom!

Please contact me either through here, or by emailing pastorswifeslife@gmail.com if you need more information about this Heavenly Father I speak about. I’d love to tell you more!