STICKS AND STONES ………!

 

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At some time in our lives most of us have heard the following saying “sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me”.

Nothing could be further from the truth! What people say about us and to us has the ability to wound us deeply.

Proverbs 12:18  Reckless words pierce like a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing”.

The tongue is a muscle attached to the floor of the mouth. It is one of the strongest muscles in the human body and is also vital for speech.  Without your tongue you would not be able to formulate words.

We need to realise how powerful our tongues are.

With our tongues we can speak blessings or curses into each other’s lives.

We can encourage people or we can choose to bring them down by our discouraging words.

There is a quote that says “the tongue like a sharp knife….kills without drawing blood” and an old Persian proverb says “whatever is in the heart will come up to the tongue”.

With our tongues we can belittle, embarrass and hurt someone so badly that they actually want to die.

The reverse is also true.  With our tongues we can bring healing and joy into someone’s life.

“There was a little boy with a bad temper.  His father gave him a bag of nails and told him that every time he lost his temper, he had to hammer a nail in the back fence.

The first day, the boy drove 37 nails into the fence.  Then it gradually dwindled.

He discovered it was easier to hold his temper than to drive nails into the fence.

Finally, the day came when the boy didn’t lose his temper at all.  He told his father about it, and the father suggested that the boy now pull out one nail for each day that he was able to hold his temper.

The days passed, and the young boy was finally able to tell his father that all the nails were gone.

The father took his son by the hand and led him to the fence.  He said, “You have done well, my son, and I am proud of you.  Now look at the holes in the fence.  It will never be the same.  When you say things in anger, they leave a scar just like this one.  You can put a knife in a man and draw it out.  It won’t matter how many times you say I’m sorry, the wound is still there.”

We need to choose our words carefully and to remember that once they are spoken they can never be taken back!

Psalm 34:13  “keep your tongue from evil and your lips from speaking lies”

Proverbs 21:23 “He who guards his mouth and his tongue keeps himself from calamity”

(Nail article source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=JeffHerring)

HOW QUICKLY WE FORGET ……. FOR ALL THE MOTHERS OUT THERE!

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(Please note: names have been changed to toddler and child and children to protect their identities!!)

This morning I came across a journal entry that I had written more than a decade ago.  I had written about a week in my life when my children were very much younger.  It starts off like this:

“After a day when it felt like all I had been doing was lifting and fetching children, cleaning house and hanging up the washing I stopped off at an ATM to draw money in order to do food shopping. The machine swallowed and retained my card.  I had to go into the  bank and be issued with a new card.  I was not on my best demeanor by then and it took forever to be issued with a card. The thought did cross my mind as I exited the bank, toddler on hip, that if anyone asked the man who had been dealing with me whether he thought I was a Christian, his answer would have been an emphatic, “Hell no, not her!”

I then went shopping with my toddler. When it came time to pay we had to stand in a long queue.  It was one of those shops that have the queue aisle lined with sweets on both sides.  I am convinced that if all mothers with young children started to boycott shops that did that, there would be a major change in the interior design layout of shops frequented by mothers with young children.  My toddler decided that she wanted a Barbie chocolate.  I said no.  This is what followed:

“I wanta a Barbie choccie”,  “Sorry, but you can’t have one” “I wannntaa a Barbie choccie (progressively getting louder followed by stamping of feet and waving arms) I waaaanntt a Barbie choccie”. It was a very long, slow queue and I could literally hear the people behind me muttering “For heaven’s sake, just give her the darn chocolate – anything to keep her quiet!” I am proud to say that I did not give in, but I did slink out of there with my head hanging down, feeling very embarrassed by my toddler.  Needless to add, I did not go into that shop again for the next six months.

From there we went to pick up another child from her playgroup, only to be informed that she had scratched a child earlier in the day and I was shown the nail marks on the back of this child’s neck to prove it.  I duly apologized to the mother and scolded my child who by then had forgotten all about it and couldn’t understand why mummy was so upset. That same child by the way now has no fingernails left because the first thing I did when we got home was to cut them extremely short.  A bit of forward planning and damage control! At least now when she attacks another child she can’t draw blood.  I hate to think what will happen if she ever starts biting other children as I think our dentist will balk at extracting all her teeth!

The week ended by me taking the three children to the beach on the Saturday morning.  It is almost impossible to keep an eye on three children simultaneously in a large open expanse.  The only thing that benefited that morning were my calf muscles from all the exercise of trying to contain them.  The children got to go home with a grumpy, irritable mother.

That night I reflected on the words from Psalm 127:3 “children are a gift from the Lord; they are a real blessing”. God sees children as a gift, a blessing and a reward.  If only we as parents would learn to view them the same way”.  End of journal entry for the week!

I had to laugh but at the same time, had a feeling of immense sadness overwhelm me, as I read this so many years later.  I don’t even remember that week but I do remember that my overriding emotions when my children were young were largely of stress, impatience and tiredness. I wish I had known then what I know now – I would not have ‘sweated’ the small stuff and would have spent less time tidying the house and more time playing.

They truly are God’s love letters to me here on earth and I wish I had spent more time reading the beginning of the letters …………

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STRUGGLING WITH GOD!

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I often struggle with God.  I was reading this morning about Jacob’s struggle with God, and a feeling of immense empathy rose up inside me for Jacob.  I identify fully with him.  Been there, done that and sometimes still find myself struggling with God!  Jacob’s story goes like this:

“So Jacob was left alone, and a man wrestled with him till daybreak.  When the man saw that he could not overpower him, he touched the socket of Jacob’s hip so that his hip was wrenched as he wrestled with the man.  Then the man said, “Let me go, for it is daybreak.”  But Jacob replied, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.”  The man asked him, “What is your name?”  “Jacob,” he answered.  Then the man said, “Your name will no longer be Jacob, but Israel, because you have struggled with God and with men and have overcome.”  Jacob said, “Please tell me your name.”  But he replied, “Why do you ask my name?”  Then he blessed him there.

So Jacob called the place Peniel, saying, “It is because I saw God face to face, and yet my life was spared.”  (Genesis 32:24 – 30)

There were five main things that struck me about this story.  The first was the fact that we are allowed to struggle with God but there will be consequences if we continue the struggle indefinitely and do not stop to listen to what God has to say to us.  Jacob’s hip was put out of joint.

The second was that we need to take the time to be alone with God.  The third thing was that even though there may be consequences for our struggles, if we cling to God, He will bless us.

J.R. Miller says it like this “Jacob won the victory and the blessing here not by wrestling but by clinging.  His hip was out of joint and he could struggle no longer, but he would not let go.  Unable to wrestle further, he locked his arms around the neck of his mysterious opponent, helplessly resting all his weight upon him, until he won at last.  We too will not win the victory in prayer (or actions) until we cease our struggling.  We must give up our own will and throw our arms around our Father’s neck in clinging faith. What wins blessings and victories is the strength of clinging faith.”

The fourth thing was that we often ask God who He is when we are going through a difficult time.  Why do we do that when we know that God has promised to be with us through all our trials and struggles. In Joshua 1: 5 God clearly states “I will never leave you nor forsake you”.

The fifth thing was “what if God has already given me a ‘new’ name?”

When I was born my parents named me Noelene Grace.  Quite a few years ago my husband and I were having a serious argument and during the course of the argument he said this “I am not surprised that one of the names your parents gave you was Grace.  They obviously had insight into the fact that you would need a lot of it in your life time! You are in dire need of being able to exercise grace!”  Loathe as I was to admit it, there was a lot of truth in what he said at that time.

What if , when God thinks about me, He thinks of me as Grace?

Grace is the quality of being pleasing. It is speaking and behaving in a way that is intended to impress and attract people. Grace embodies favour and goodwill.  Grace is realizing that something is right and proper and willingly doing what is asked of us.

Isn’t Grace what we are all called to be as Believers.  Acts 1:8 says “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses …to the ends of the earth” and Romans 8:29 states “For those God foreknew He also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of His Son, Jesus”.  Jesus embodied the word Grace.

Grace is the free and unmerited gift and favour of God shown towards man.

With God’s grace at work in our lives we can be witnesses of His love here on earth.

“Blessings come not by wrestling but by clinging to Him in faith”  –  J.R. Miller

DOES GOD EXIST

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I have a friend who is an atheist. We have been friends for close on two decades and during this time we have had many, many discussions about the existence of God.  A few years ago we were driving home late at night from a function, and as we turned a corner, there was a car coming straight towards us in our lane.  I managed to swerve and avoid a collision and my friend cried out involuntarily “O God, God!!” I parked on the side of the road, turned to her and said “So let me get this straight – you profess that you do not believe in the existence of God and yet when your life is in danger, He is the first person you call out too?”

She jokingly replied “Well, I thought I was about to meet Him face to face!”

This friend has known me long enough to know that my faith is not based on a religion but based on a relationship with the risen Lord, Jesus Christ. God is alive and well and lives in our home and in my life!  She was once present when a group of ladies met for tea at my house.  One of the subjects of conversation was “who wears the pants in our homes?”  The wife or the husband? Who is the actual head of the home?

Bear in mind that, apart from my friend, the rest of us were all Believers so Biblically speaking our husbands should be the head of the home!  Amy, who was six at the time, happened to be passing through the kitchen where we were sitting and one of the ladies turned to her and asked “Amy, who is the boss in your house?” (Personally, I thought this was a horrible question to ask a six year old but relaxed when I heard Amy’s reply).

She paused on her way out of the kitchen, answered “God!” and carried on going.

It was a revelation to me to know that our children acknowledged God as a reality in their lives.  My ongoing prayer for them is that as they grow older they will always know God as a reality.

This friend has often said to me “I wish I could believe in God like you do.  I wish I had someone that I could talk to like you talk to Jesus”.  There is a longing in her heart for something more and it is a longing that was placed there by God Himself before time began.

For me C.S. Lewis sums it up beautifully!  He wrote, “Creatures are not born with desires unless satisfaction for those desires exists. A baby feels hunger: well, there is such a thing as food. A duckling wants to swim: well, there is such a thing as water. Men (and woman I might add!)feel sexual desire: well there is such a thing as sex. If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world. If none of my earthly pleasures satisfy it, that does not prove that the universe is a fraud. Probably earthly pleasures were never meant to satisfy it, but only to arouse it, to suggest the real thing.”

Dallas Willard said that the four great questions humans must answer are:

What is reality? What is the good life? Who is a good person? And, how do you become a good person?

He sought to answer those questions and to actually live the answers.

He believed, as I do, that no-one has ever answered those questions as well as Jesus did.

His definition of a disciple was “anyone whose ultimate goal is to live as Jesus would live if he were in their place.”

I can speak to Jesus as a friend because He states in John 15 “Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends”  Jesus laid down His life for me.  He goes on to say “I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you”. 

My prayer for my friend is that one day soon she will meet and accept my friend, Jesus, as her friend.