April 2014Walking Worthy: April 2014

Monday, April 28, 2014

Speaking Life or Death: The Power of the Tongue

 Death and life are in the power of the tongue, And those who love it will eat its fruit. Proverbs 18:21

“Ashlee, just keep your mouth shut.” I preached these words to myself as my blood began to boil. I was angry and I had things that I wanted to say. Things that NEEDED to be said, but I knew better than to speak in the moment. So I kept silent and began to pray. I could have spoken my mind. I could have told them exactly what I thought, but what would that profit? Would it lead them to repentance? Would it drive them to sit at the feet of Jesus. Or would it simply make their hearts hard and proud?

Watch Your Mouth
The books of James has much for us to learn about the words we allow to roll off our tongue.  James 3 tells us that the tongue is a fire and should be controlled like a horse with a bit in it’s mouth. It parallels the tongue with a small flame that can set an entire forest on fire and a fountain that cannot produce both sweet and bitter water. The words we say matter. They reveal whether or not we live submitted to Jesus (like a horse with a bit in it’s mouth). Our words expose whether our fountain springs from the fresh water of Jesus or the bitter water of the devil.

The Battle Rages on
Recently I have battled my tongue. I have battled when to say something, how to say, if I should even say it. I have watched others hurt because of words spoken by a fellow believers. In those moments I wonder as a follower of Jesus, what am I to do?

My Heart is the Issue
Often, I bite my tongue, not because a conversation doesn’t need to take place, but because my heart is not right. Many times I am driven by emotion (remember my story above?) All I wanted to do was chastise and yell. I did not desire those I wanted to speak to be led to repentance. Instead I desired to be right and to show them they were wrong. My pride swelled…”Ah Ha”, I thought, “I WAS right”. Before I speak I know I must consider my own heart. If my heart is swollen with pride and anger how can I even lead anyone to Jesus? First I must deal with the sin swelling within my heart.

Seek the Lord
I must also stop in that moment and seek the Lord before I speak. There are times God does not want me to speak. He calls me to be silent and watch Him work. Other times, He clearly affirms that I need to have a conversation with someone. The key here is surrendering my will to His will. My desire will always be to speak, but I need to stop and seek the Lord to know if it is His desire for me to speak. I must be silent, and sit at His feet, waiting for His will.

Don’t Let Fear Rule You
Sometimes I know God wants me to speak, but fear freezes the words in my mouth. I am afraid that person will get mad at me. I worry they will fight back. I wonder what they might say about me behind my back. Worrisome fear is not of the Lord and we must reject the desire to be silent because we are afraid of the outcome.

Speak with Grace & Remember the Goal - Repentance
Ephesians 4:29 tells us "Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear". Before you speak ask yourself “Are my words edifying? Will they give grace to those who hear? I do not mean sugary words full of warm fuzzies. However, my words need to be seasoned with God’s grace geared toward repentance and heart change, not simply a change of action. True repentance brings about heart change that  results in life change. A heart that repents, turns away from their sin, and walks toward Jesus is the goal. So as you sit down to have that conversation, remember the goal, it’s not to be right, it’s to lead that person back to the feet of Jesus. 

Remember It's Him not Me
Even when God calls me to speak, it is His Holy Spirit who works in the heart of His people. It's not me, not my words. It's all Him. He is God, I am not. I must trust Him to move in the hearts of His people and remember it's not me.

I sat nervously, waiting for my lead into the conversation. I felt the Holy Spirit press me "Ask." As I began to ask questions (instead of accusing) I saw that God was already moving in the situation. The hard conversation I prepared for melted away and our discussion continued. I shared some words of caution and affirmed what God was already showing them. Our conversation ended with me reminding them to sit at the feet of Jesus. I walked to my car grateful for the movement of the Holy Spirit and reminded that God doesn't need me to move in the hearts of His people. Sometimes He calls me to speak and sometimes He asks me to stay silent, but He is always the one who works.

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Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Coffee & Crafting

Last fall the girls from my college ministry and I had a day of Coffee and Crafting. My friend Heather organized a day of crafting she calls Create Christmas. Heather picked out half a dozen crafts that could be made for $5. Heather described Create Christmas like this "You see, I love to craft. I love to teach. I love to give gifts. Mix it all together and you have one of my favorite things I do all year." You don't have to be a crafter to have fun at Create Christmas. With each craft there were easy to follow instructions. I used Create Christmas as a fun event for my college girls I called Coffee and Crafting.
We started off Coffee and Crafting at our local Starbucks. We loaded up on caffeine and enjoyed sweet conversation. 
After getting fueled up, we drove over to my friend Heather's church which was the site of Create Christmas. When we got there the fun was already underway. Heather is a pro and Create Christmas was organized beautifully! We signed in, got our instructions, and got to work. 
We spent the entire day crafting. Each of Heather's crafts were easy to do and fun to make. I think we made almost every craft.
I went with the full intention of making gifts for my friends, but I ended up making decor for my bedroom (sorry friends!). Once we were finished our crafts, we checked out and paid for the number of crafts we made.
Our first Coffee & Crafting was a major success! I can't wait for next year! 
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Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Deeply Rooted Lies

Wearing glasses for the first time, I walked down the hallway of my school. I wondered what people would think and was terrified of what they might say. Cliché phrases were floating around in my head, taunting me. A boy I liked looked at me and said “So when are you going to get contacts?” For my junior high self, these words demolished the way I viewed myself in glasses. The word UGLY immediately appeared tattooed on my forehead. I went home that day and told my mom I NEEDED contacts.

Over a decade later those words still ring in my ears.  The wound is fresh in my heart. I don't wear my glasses unless I HAVE to and when I do my UGLY tattoo resurfaces.

I never realized this was silly. It was rooted deep in my self perception. Those words were wrapped around my heart and mind so tightly I believed it to be true. My husband noticed my glasses insecurity when we were dating. He dug deep and asked me hard questions. He sweetly encouraged me and told me he thought I was beautiful in my glasses. Ashamedly I admit I did not believe him.  

Recently my insecurity reappeared when I needed new glasses. My new glasses came in and I prayed they would look okay. As I headed to church the insecurity of my junior high self rushed back. The taunting voice reemerged. My husband hugged me tightly and told me how beautiful I looked. I still wasn’t sure. I felt self-conscious. It returned the next day when I went to work. Will they like them? I wondered. No matter how many times I heard how great they looked my self-consciousness and insecurity grew.

I finally wondered…What is wrong with me? Why did words spoken more than a decade ago still hold so much weight? I began to dig into my heart. And the UGLY truth came out.  

I realized my wounded heart rejected God’s Word. I chose to walk in insecurity and self-scrutiny. The wound never healed because I continued to believe it. And sin was exposed in my heart. I thought I walked in truth, never realizing I lived in a lie. I recognized that I doubted Psalm 139:14 “I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Wonderful are Your works, And my soul knows it very well” and  altered it with “except when I wear my glasses.” I lived in the lie so long I didn’t know what was true.

I wonder, how often lies are allowed to fester in our hearts and minds? Do we perceive our rejection of God's Word? How do we deal with deeply rooted lies? God's Word gives a clear answer:

Recognize the battle going on. 1 Peter 5:8 tells us to “be of sober spirit, be on alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.”

Remember the war is not a fleshly war. 2 Corinthians 10:3, tells us “ though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh.” Ephesians 6:12 reminds us “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.”

Stand firm against the enemy. Ephesians 6:11,13 reminds us to stand firm “Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil.” &; “Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm.”

Take our thoughts captive to the obedience of Christ. 2 Corinthians 10:5 says “We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ.”

Run to Jesus and His Word to replace the lies. Romans 12:2 tells us “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.” Only Jesus and His Word hold the power to transform our minds, hearts, and lives. We cannot transform ourselves, He must do it!

The battle is real. I know it well. Are lies rooted deep in your heart?  I encourage you to dig deep and deal with them. Stop permitting them to grow and fester. They do not belong in your heart. I know it’s messy and it hurts. Seek Jesus, He is faithful to overcome. He is bigger and greater and stronger than any deeply rooted lie.

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