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Tuesday
Aug202019

I Don't Like Correction, but It's Good for Me

Kathy Collard Miller is a wise woman. She writes much about the heart and how to please the Lord. In this Biblical Thinking UPGRADE, she encourages us to see God's correction through a biblical grid.

“If we can see the value of being corrected by God,” Kathy says, “we will be much more receptive to receiving His love through it.”

I (Dawn) have never much liked being corrected. It was a pride thing. But shortly after I became a Christ-follower, I learned about the love motivating my Heavenly Father whenever He corrected me. In a life story, Kathy writes about how the Lord helped her understand His loving correction.

Kathy continues . . .

Years ago, I remember feeling guilty about not giving my toddler daughter enough attention, but I didn’t know how to change.

Then one day the water bottle man dropped off a five-gallon glass bottle for us to use later. As I watched a soap opera on TV, I looked over at my two-year-old daughter who played near the bottle. I thought, “She can’t possibly be strong enough to push over that bottle.”

Then she pushed on it.

Over it went and the bottle shattered, spilling five gallons of water onto the carpet.

For once I didn’t get angry at my toddler. I realized I had the problem, not my toddler, and God was gently correcting me about my lack of attention to my daughter.   

In the future, when I was tempted to watch television at the exclusion of my daughter’s needs, I remembered that glass bottle. I also reminded myself God wasn’t wanting to punish me but teach me how to be the good mom I wanted to be.

The Bible tells us a lot about being corrected. We can learn He intends our good.

1. Receiving correction shows you are smart!

I don’t like to be thought of as stupid. I’ve been bothered by that since childhood mainly because being stupid seemed to get me in trouble. I concluded, “If I’m not seen as stupid, I won’t get in trouble!

Interestingly, Proverbs 12:1 tells us,

“Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge, but he who hates reproof is stupid.”

I didn’t know that principle when I resisted anger after the water bottle incident. Now I see God was showing me my sinful escape method of soap operas! I was smart to learn to pay more attention to my daughter.

2. God corrects us in many different ways, even painful ones.

God’s correction may not always seem evident, because we can interpret His loving action as harmful.

He can correct us through the words of others, through unwelcome circumstances, or as He gives insights into our past wrong choices. Correction might be involved anytime we stop and evaluate: “Is my response godly and glorifying to God?”

James 1:2-3 tells us,

“Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.”

We may not like that verse because trials are not fun, but God intends to use something difficult to bring the good results He wants—our holiness for our good.

3. Being corrected is a gift from God offering a sense of love.

Children rarely say, “Thank you, mom, for giving me that correction. I’ll be happier because of it.” But that is exactly what God wants to hear from us.

We may not see it at the time, but God's correction helps us feel loved and valued.

Hebrews 12:5-6 assures us,

“My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor be weary when reproved by him. For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives.”

The next time you recognize God’s correction, you can actually tell yourself, “God is loving me!"

4. Correction helps us see when we are at fault.

Every one of us has a tendency to blame someone else for why we were unloving, unkind, unwise and a host of other ungodly reactions.

A miserable person is one who never takes responsibility. She never learns to make better choices resulting in her own joy, peace, patience, and self-control, and the good of others.

Proverbs 19:3 verifies that.

“When a man's folly brings his way to ruin, his heart rages against the Lord.”

Let’s stop blaming God for our own choices. You will better know how to change and avoid ruin.

Being corrected doesn’t seem positive at the time, but as we change our attitudes about it, we will:

  • gain wisdom,
  • value God’s involvement in our lives,
  • feel more loved, and
  • take responsibility for our actions.

Those choices will result in our good and the good of others.

What lie have you believed about being corrected? What truth would you like to replace it with?

Kathy Collard Miller is the author of over 50 books, her most recent is Heart Wisdom: Daughters of the King Bible Study Series (Elk Lake Publishing, Inc.). She loves to speak at events and has spoken in over 30 US states and 8 foreign countries. Visit her website.

Graphic of water jug - 20 Canada Drinking water jug - offered at Wayfair.

Thursday
Aug152019

Praying Through Our School Problems

Julie Sanders, a teacher, cares about students. In this Prayer UPGRADE, she calls us to pray for our students, especially as they struggle in school or face tough circumstances in their education.

"It doesn’t take long into a new school year before problems emerge," Julie says. "No education format is exempt from trouble to sort out, so how do we find school solutions in spiritual ways?"

I (Dawn) know Julie is right. Whether our children are in public school, private school, or even homeschool, when problems arise, we need to know the best way to move forward.

Julie continues . . .

When the first sign of a school problem appears, with speed unique to moms and grandmas of students, we can assess an issue, create a list of options, and find the school office number.

In the moment when our learner faces a fear, challenge, obstacle or conflict, it’s easy to forget about being quick to listen and slow to speak (James 1:19).

Education questions today raise issues related to curriculum, requirements, pacing, classmates, special needs, transportation, and cultural exposure, to name just a few. Parents face challenges to ensure students receive academic opportunities they need, while shaping their spiritual perspective and relational patterns.

Keeping the school formula at home has its benefits and challenges, while traditional classrooms, Christian or private, invite their own opportunities and obstacles.

Thankfully, God doesn’t call us to bow to problems, but to bow to Him.

Rather than being a fearful woman, I can be a prayerful woman.

In The ABCs of Praying for Students, I wrote, “What our learners need more than anything is our prayers—prayers fueled by your genuine love and a heart full of hope for the student on your mind.”

In Paul’s explanation to his learners about the essence of his prayers for them, we find guidance for how to pray for students on our hearts and minds.

I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith.

And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God (Ephesians 3:16-19).

We want children:

  • to learn according to their ability,
  • to respect their teacher,
  • to develop healthy peer friendships,
  • to make wise choices, and
  • to have a friend at lunch.

Those things matter, and God cares about every element in our child’s education.

But most of all, we want our learners to intimately know the love of Christ, so deep and wide that no vocabulary describes or defines it.

Back-to-school problems have a powerful ability to turn our thoughts toward things we can touch, people we can email, supplies we can get, and assignments we can review. Earthly things (Colossians 3:2).

But in God’s greater curriculum, these things come under a bigger plan to help learners know the love of Christ. This truth applies from cradle to college and career.

Whether you school in a traditional classroom, a co-op, homeschool, or a one room schoolhouse like my mom, God wants to use the experience of education to teach our child the truths that matter most.

May our kids and grandkids know we pray for their concerns, but most of all we pray for them to know the concern and love of God toward them. There is no greater lesson to learn.

The most powerful thing we can do for our students will never be found on a school supply list. 

Engage what your child’s education needs most: the great power of your prayers at work.

As the learners we love start a new school year and problems emerge, what is your default action? Resist the urge to whip up a list and type an email. Instead, stop and pray for God to use hard things to lead to holy things.

Julie Sanders has been teaching students of all ages for thirty years. She loves Back-to-School season and how learning leads grown-ups and children to God’s deep and wide love. Julie is the author of The ABCs of Praying for Students, available at Christen Price Studio. Learn more about Julie at her blog.

Graphic adapted, courtesy of Open Clipart / Vectors at Pixabay.

Tuesday
Aug132019

Leaving a Legacy of True Treasure

Cathy Horning, a true Bible lover, loves to help people understand the truths and treasures of scripture. In this Legacy UPGRADE, she shares how to leave a legacy to children and grandchildren that can make a difference in their lives.

"This month I turn 60!" Cathy says. "Six decades of life seemed the perfect time to write an upgrade post about milestones. Until, I received an unexpected gift that shifted my focus from years past to the ones which lie ahead."

I (Dawn) am in the proces of considering what legacy I will leave to my own family someday, so I truly appreciate Cathy's wisdom in this post.

Cathy continues . . .

The gift was an old Bible, a precious treasure which challenged me to be more purposeful about what I will leave behind one day.

You see, during the past year a deep regret had grown in my heart, because I had nothing which belonged to my grandmother. So, on a recent visit to my parents, my mom had no idea the special gift she was passing on to me when she gave me my grandma’s Bible.

And, if that wasn’t enough, joy flooded my heart when she opened the pages to reveal a treasure trove of notes, poems, and handwritten letters addressed “To God” and “To The Lord.” 

The inheritance of my grandmother’s Bible and it’s contents inspired me to be more intentional about leaving behind a legacy of true treasure.

1. Leave True Treasure

Growing up, we lived thousands of miles away from extended family and I loved when we would go for visits. But especially precious to me were the letters my grandmother and I wrote to each other. I’m sorry I didn’t keep her letters, which had been tangible reminders of her love, faith, support and encouragement.

So finding the letters she had written to the Lord in her Bible was like discovering true treasure.

2. Leave A Treasure Chest   

I wish I would have known to cherish the letters my grandma and I exchanged, and to keep them in a safe place. But I didn’t.

So as an adult, I am conscientious to keep journals I have written, notes and cards others have given to me, as well as pieces I have written for others.

I hope that one day the writings I have saved will be a treasure chest for my loved ones to explore.

3. Leave Imperishable Treasure 

The letters my grandmother and I wrote to each other are gone forever, but her plain, black, hardback Bible, filled with the handwritten letters of her prayers, lasted.

Still, after I read each note and letter, I found I was sad that there was nothing underlined or highlighted in her Bible to give me a  glimpse of what had spoken to her the most from God’s Word. Until, I showed my adult children my wonderful gift.

Then, as we looked through the notes and scraps of paper together, my daughters noticed that there were small black pencil marks next to passages throughout it’s pages. To me these marks have become an imperishable treasure.

This month as I turn 60, about the same age my grandmother was when she wrote her letters, the gift of her Bible stirred up questions in my own heart.

  • What will I pass on?
  • What will I leave to bless and encourage my loved ones?

Not just personal letters, like the ones between my grandma and me, but a spiritual heritage like Timothy’s grandmother and mother passed down to him.

“I remember your genuine faith, for you share the faith that first filled your grandmother Lois and your mother, Eunice. And I know that same faith continues strong in you. This is why I remind you to fan into flames the spiritual gift God gave you… 

"Remain faithful to the things you have been taught. You know they are true, for you know you can trust those who taught you. You have been taught the holy Scriptures from childhood, and they have given you the wisdom to receive the salvation that comes by trusting in Christ Jesus” (2 Timothy 1:5-7, 3:14-15)

More than anything, I want to pass on a treasure chest to my children and grandchildren. I want it to be filled with:

  • Imperishable treasure from my own faith journey, 
  • A true treasure of my own prayers and prayers God has answered, and of
  • Testimonies of God’s faithfulness as I held on to the truths and promises in His Word.

My prayer is that this true treasure will fan into flame their own walks of faith, long after my life here is over and I am in my heavenly home. 

What legacy of true treasure will you leave behind? How would you want to "fan into flame" your family's walks of faith?

Cathy Horning is an author, blogger, speaker, Bible teacher, encourager, mentor, wife, mom, grammy to thirteen (and counting), and Jesus lover! She loves the Word of God! Absolutely, nothing brings her greater joy than sharing with others how very precious, practical and powerful are the promises and truths in God's Word, and how He desires to transform our lives into the men and women we were created to be! Learn more about Cathy here and here.

Graphic adapted, courtesy of Bru-nO at Pixabay.

Thursday
Aug082019

Joy, the Key to Peace

Pam Farrel knows more about joy because she's made it a focused choice in her life. In this Attitude UPGRADE, she encourages us to discover more peace as we pursue biblical joy.

"We live in a world where people are struggling with stress and discouragement," Pam says. "In a recent, Fox News poll, 65% say they are stressed daily and 52% of Americans say they are worried daily."

I (Dawn) see this stress and discouragment all the time. There is little peace in our world. But Pam says joy is the key to peace!

Pam continues . . . 

The good news is, researchers who wrote for Time magazine’s The Science of Happiness say that happiness is made of from 50% DNA, 10%Circumstances, and 40% CHOICES we make.

“We make our choices and our choices make us!” That's a mantra that those in my world have heard my husband, Bill, and I say for several decades.

During one particularly challenging and strenuous circumstance in my life when EVERYTHING seemed to be unraveling, my friends kindly reached out and inquired about my wellbeing.

I didn’t know how to answer them. The answer was too personal, too long and too depressing, so I prayed and asked God, "How do I answer?”

The Holy spirit impressed a question on my heart, “Pam, what kind of person do you want to be?”

Lord I want to be the kind of person that can choose joy no matter what life sends my way. Your Word in Neh. 8:10 says “The joy of the Lord is my strength” and this family needs strength, so I choose You, Jesus, I choose joy!”

From that point on, when people ask, “How are you doing?” my answer has been, “Choosing joy!”       

Yes, our life is the sum of our choices and God’s loving sovereignty.     

In Discovering Joy in Philippians: A Creative Bible Study Experience, I share a word study where I add the synonyms to help define the key words in this verse with a vital key choice:

The choice to rejoice! 

REJOICE (lean in and delight in God’s grace) at ALL times, I repeat, REJOICE (choose to be glad and joyful because of ALL God gives us!) (Philippians 4:4).

God graciously gives the “how to” rejoice in Phil 4:6-9

"Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.  And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."

God doesn’t want us to be anxious (worried and loaded down with cares). The solution He provides can be illustrated as a word picture of wrapping a gift into a gift bag:  

Think of your cares and anxieties (your “supplication”) that you desire God to answer, as the gift; wrap them in the tissue paper of prayer, which Strong’s concordance explains is “to interact with the Lord by switching human wishes for His wishes....”

Drop your cares in the gift bag of thanksgiving, gratefully thanking God by faith for what He will deliver as an answer for your eternal good and His Eternal Glory.

As we ask, request and petition God, the confidence comes in believing you are giving this “gift” to the ONLY ONE who has the REAL POWER to answer—The Almighty GOD!   

And as we make this transaction, God gives us a gift back—peace (harmony, tranquility and sense of security) that is beyond comprehension! And that IS a great reason to REJOICE!

TRY THIS EXERCISE to apply this illustration to your life today:

  • Imagine your greatest stress is placed into your right hand, wrap your fingers around this anxiety.
  • Now lift it heavenward; open your fingers and picture presenting it at the foot of the throne of heaven.
  • Leave your care there, but keep your hand open.
  • Now, think of a name of God that would be best to hang your heart on to find hope, joy and peace. If you struggle to pick which trait, choose the name or trait of God that would be opposite of your stress. For example, if you care is your anxiety, trade it for the peace of God.
  • Follow up by looking up verses about God being peace and giving peace.
  • Then string your favorite verses together, put your name in the series and personalize God’s Word to your life.

Remember: Joy is the Key to Peace.

How can you apply this scripture to your life today? "Rejoice in the Lord always; again, I will say, rejoice" (Philippians 4:4).

Pam Farrel is an international speaker, relationship expert, and author of 48 books including her newest, Discovering Joy in Philippians: A Creative Bible Study Experience. She and her husband, Bill, co-direct Love-Wise ministries.

Graphic of key, courtesy of Pixabay.

Thursday
Aug012019

How to Be a Decisive Woman

Sally Ferguson is a "Woman of the Word," and she draws simple-but-powerful lessons from Bible stories. In this Biblical Thinking UPGRADE, she encourages decisiveness by examining the life of a familiar Old Testament woman.

"I hope you brought your sandals," Sally says, "because we’re going to walk the dusty roads from Moab to Bethlehem."

As I (Dawn) read Sally's post, I thought, "becoming a decisive woman is difficult for some women who are naturally more timid, but sometimes God uses circumstances to teach us how to become more resolute."

Sally continues . . .

Look. Just up ahead. Two women are supporting each other as they carry their loads. Let’s catch up to them.

It’s Naomi and Ruth, and they’re both wearing the black garb of mourners.

Oh, it’s so sad. They’ve had three funerals in the span of 10 years.

When I was younger, 10 years seemed a lifetime away. But, now? Don’t blink, because it will slip by.

But, oh so sad. They’re both widows. And the young one must be in her 20s. What a shame.

Ruth has chosen to uproot from her home and go with her mother-in-law to a place she’s never been. Is she scared about what she will find there? Maybe she feels lost without her husband? But, she seems to be peacefully resolute.

Maybe, for the first time in her life, she feels as if she has been found.

Ruth’s heard the stories Naomi recounted of the wonders God had done in Israel. Would this God take notice of her, a barren, destitute widow with no man-child to support her in her later years? Is there a future with this God, for a woman?

Her own country’s gods couldn’t keep her from her current state of affairs. Would this God be any different?

What made Ruth decisive? I believe there are four things we can glean from her life.

1. She jumped in with everything she had.

Have you ever seen someone go to the beach with a brand new swimsuit, but never get in the water? When they returned, would you say they went swimming? No, probably not.

We might say they were sun-bathing, but wouldn’t equate that with the experience of feeling the silky smooth water and tasting the salty spray.

Walking with God is like that. You can’t fully experience a relationship with Him if you’re going to settle for sticking to the beach.

Like Ruth, leave the past behind you and fully embrace what He has to offer.

Like Ruth, give it all you’ve got. Read Ruth 1:16-17 to see the depth of her commitment.

2. She took refuge in the Lord.

When Ruth met Boaz, he had already heard about her. Look at Ruth 2:11-12.

When someone takes refuge, it implies taking shelter from a storm. When hurricane season hits the Caribbean, you seek refuge. But, even a fortress can take a battering.

The only place we can find true peace in a storm is when our heart is anchored in Christ.

Read Psalm 91, to hear David’s proclamation of confidence in God.

3. She trusted God to provide a way.

When Naomi sent Ruth out into the darkness to meet Boaz, Ruth must have wondered if Naomi had lost her mind. But Boaz’s response became the prototype of when Jesus became our Kinsman Redeemer.

When Ruth trusted God, He provided a way through His kinsman-redeemer named Boaz. He was the one to handle legal matters for the family. Ruth 3 gives the details.

4. She let God rewrite her story.

When we began our story, Ruth was a barren widow. Look how far she’s come!

In Ruth chapter 4, she’s married to her kinsman-redeemer and they have a son.

Ruth is grafted into the story of the Israelites through a baby boy named Obed and is the great-grandmother to a shepherd boy to come, named David.

Why is this important to us? Because we are also grafted into the family through salvation found in Jesus.

And we can therefore claim the promises God made to the Israelites through the ages!

Aren’t you glad we have these wonderful promises in Christ? You can claim them, too, when you believe in Jesus as your Savior and confess that He is Lord of your life. Acts 4:12 says we only have access to God through His Son.

Won’t you let Him rewrite your story, too?

Sally Ferguson loves sharing God’s Word in all different forms! Her coloring book, What Will I Be When I Grow Up? (Warner Press) and ebook, How to Plan a Women’s Retreat are both available on Amazon. Visit her latest retreat release here.  

Graphic—painting by Thomas Matthews Rooke, 1876-7.