Saturday, September 28, 2019

Frazzled or Frustrated? Drained and Discouraged?

by Sylvia Gaston

So many of us are. The hurried, overloaded, multi-tasking culture we live in can be a lifelong trap. We’ve become used to working harder, doing more, having it all. Some wear busyness as a badge of honor, complaining of exhaustion and accomplishments all in the same breath.

There are some who are busy by necessity. The single working mom, the dad working two jobs to make ends meet, the student who must work in order to go to school…are all worthy of support and encouragement.

However, how many of us are overworked, stressed out, and grouchy by choice? If you’re jumping from one thing to another each and every day with no time to rest and recharge, you’re doing it wrong.

God did not create you to do everything nor to live a frenetic life. In fact, His Word, the Bible, places high value on rest and peaceful living.

He gives an example of two completely different sisters. While Mary sits at Jesus’ feet, listening to the ultimate Teacher and Rabbi, Martha scurries around, making dinner, cleaning up, and complaining. She asks Jesus to tell Mary to get up and help her. Jesus says, ‘Martha, Martha, you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.’ (Luke 10:38-42 NIV).

Could it be that our list of “have to’s” needs closer scrutiny? What falls into that category for you? Most of us have to work at a job to pay our bills. Most of us have to take care of our family and clean our house. Beyond that, what else is on your to-do list?

It may be time to ask God what kind of life He has in mind for you to live. It may be time to lay it all down and start from scratch – prioritizing what really matters. We must be intentional about our life and what we allow it to become or we can be sucked into a swift stream of busyness that has no rest, no rewards, no purpose.

God also tells us, “I know what I’m doing. I have it all planned out—plans to take care of you, not abandon you, plans to give you the future you hope for.” (Jeremiah 29:11 – MSG)

Come on, Martha, sit a spell, and see what His plans are for you.

Saturday, September 21, 2019

Failure Can Be A Good Thing

by Tim Howard

I know everyone fails at some time but it doesn’t make any of us feel better when it happens. No one wants to mess up because it’s painful, evokes feelings of disappointment, may have negative effects, doesn’t seem to be positive and recovery takes a lot of effort.  No one sets out to fail but it happens.

One major example is recorded in Joshua chapter 7 in the Old Testament. Joshua was a great leader of Israel and if you read his story, you will discover a massive failure that affected a whole lot of people in an adverse way. The Israelites were attempting to besiege a city called ‘Ai’ with the purpose of expanding their kingdom because they miscalculated some important details and didn’t have a clear understanding of the big picture.

His example should warn us all. Whether it is an individual, a corporate business or the leadership of a nation; failure a-waits those who do not thoroughly investigate all the facts and get to the cause.

There are two responses to failure that can help greatly. Joshua did both and was able to move beyond his failure. Some people move on in life after a defeat but they often don’t move beyond the collapse to recover totally.

1. Resilient people seek to discover the root problem and refuse to deal only with the fruit. They are committed to cutting down the tree and not just trim the branches. Too often we deal only with the symptoms of the failure and not the source.

A life of secrecy and sin surely lead the list but other things contribute to failure as well. When you put in minimum effort and expect maximum results failure is nearby. If you act upon bad advice, the results can be devastating. The ‘I’ll do it tomorrow’ syndrome is responsible for many failures and defeat happens frequently if we don’t make a commitment and demonstrate perseverance. Whatever the root reason is, it’s worth finding. It may be obscure, hazy or concealed but you can’t fix something unless you know why something is broken?

2.  Don’t react to failure but respond.

Emotions are wonderful but if you allow them to lead your decision making process in the midst of failure you will react improperly rather than respond correctly.

Here’s a few ‘Do’s and Don’t’ when you fail.

Don’t be quick to look outside before you have taken a long look inside. This will lead to shifting the responsibility onto someone else. Others may have contributed to your debacle but that doesn’t make them responsible for what you do. Do accept full responsibility for your own life and the decisions you make.

Don’t ignore the facts and fail to recognize the ‘Pink Elephant’ in the room. Do focus fully on the problem and seek an honest evaluation.

Don’t quit – take another swing. Someone said: “Failure doesn’t have to be final.”

Don’t blame God but pray to Him. The first thing Joshua did when failure happened was to call out to the One who could help. Some people will look down on you when failure happens and possibly reject you but Jesus will ALWAYS work with you if you come to Him. There’s something good that can come out of failure if we call on God.

Saturday, September 14, 2019

Who’s Listening?

by Candace Cortez

There is one part of parenting that is revealing parts of myself that I didn’t know existed. That is youth sports. I have never been chill, and I know this. But I did not expect passion to escape from my being as it does when my son’s team has the ball. I try to play it cool with some of the other cute moms and relaxed fathers on the side lines. I enjoy chatting with the other fans of children’s team sporting events. But more often than not, I am interrupting a nice conversation about what our kids will or won’t eat for dinner with a shout of “GOOOOO GOOOO GOOOO!” because all of a sudden my son or one of his friends is running the ball. I can’t help it. I am a loud, but encouraging team mom.

I have been comparing these same compulsory responses to those that erupt when you stub your toe on the corner of the couch. You don’t always get to plan those next few syllables that sneak (or stampede) out of your mouth. You don’t get to practice your response to sharp pain and usually that response is wrapped in anger, which could lead to not so shiny statements.  But just because you’re not in a place to edit your comments with your full range of self-control, does not mean you’re off the hook for what comes out of your mouth. I learned this lesson recently.

I was sitting next to a mom I didn’t recognize. She was kind and didn’t complain with her face when I decided to share her shady spot instead of choosing a space outside of her bubble. I was being loud encouraging the team as always. I typically try to celebrate both sides of the field if the situation arises. There was a particular play when one of the players on the opposing team got a little aggressive when he didn’t go as far as he wanted. I kind of laughed at the situation with her, made a passing comment about his frustration, and then quickly followed it up with a complement about his cuteness.  Insert generic mom comments here. After the game, that same little boy from the opposing team came running up to his mom sitting right next to me. My mind immediately raced back to my comments. Were they rude? Did I mock or ridicule him? Was she even paying attention? Luckily after my rapid-fire recall moment, I felt I was in the clear. I told him good game and left so glad I didn’t have my foot in my mouth.

Lesson learned: you have no idea who is listening! There are very few things that can break the potential for relationship than insulting someone’s child. I know I would have a hard time trusting someone who was rude to my little ones. Paul warns us in Ephesians 4:29 Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.

This doesn’t mean when you’re in a good mood, or at church, or when you’re totally aware of your surroundings. This isn’t because God wants to control us, or dictate what we say. I truly believe God gives us these warnings because it’s wisdom. If I were to shout out negative things about a little one who is having a negative moment during a child’s sporting event, I may have used words that don’t matter to end a friendship before it even began. 

God desires for us to love one another. One of the ways to do that is with your words. It’s really difficult to say I love you after a situation when your words or actions say quite the opposite. We must weed out the negative stuff so when we are in an auto-response mode, it’s not hurtful to those who are forced to hear us. We don’t always get to pick who hears us, but we do get to pick our words.