Two Ears, One Mouth

Those who consider themselves religious and yet do not keep a tight rein on their tongues deceive themselves, and their religion is worthless. (James 1:26 NIV)

I want my words to be life-giving.  I want to use my words and tone of voice to bless people and love them well.  Isn’t that what we all want? Isn’t that what pleases God? Tod be clear: I’m still a work in progress when it comes to this, but by God’s grace I am making progress.

My heart is hushed as I reflect on the way James addressed the importance of our words in the New Testament.

My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires.  Those who consider themselves religious and yet do not keep a tight rein on their tongues deceive themselves, and their religion is worthless. (James 1:19-20, 26, NIV)

I know this verse.  Maybe you do too.  Maybe you even know it by heart or have it written on an index card that’s taped to your bathroom mirror.  But, as James reminds us not so subtly, knowing and doing are two different things (James 1:22).  It is not good enough for us to be “knowers” of God’s Word.  If we want to be men and women of great and godly impact, we must also be doers.

So let’s break down the verse so we can better implement what it has to say about how to ensure that our words will be life-giving.

Be “Quick to Listen”

My friend Marji said, “This is difficult for a girl who likes to finish sentences and finds silence to be the most uncomfortable sound in the world.  I often have to turn off the voice in my own mind to really hear the other person.”  I get her.  Don’t you? Such good advice.  To be a good listener I have to turn off the voice in my mind.  I don’t need to think of my answer while the person is talking, I need to listen and be in the moment.  I need to hear.  When I hear, I am better equipped to be compassionate, understanding, gracious, and honorable.

I get myself in trouble when I don’t listen.  I stumble over arrogant thoughts, confident that I know more, understand more, have a better idea than, a more correct idea than, or a holier idea.  God knew this would be a struggle for most of us.  He points us to a better way in His Word.  Be quick to listen.

Be “Slow to Speak and Slow to Become Angry”

This may come as news to some of you, but I have lots of opinions.  Bogs of them! And I have almost convinced myself that people need to hear them.  Certainly my husband.  He should know where I stand on everything he says and everything he thinks. Right? And my kids? “Oh, my kids LOVE when I give them my opinion twenty times a day!” said no mom of teenagers…ever. So with this directive to be slow to speak, I sit up a bit straighter in my chair.

And then there is that “slow to become angry” part. Ahem! Have I mentioned that I’m a bit spicy? I credit it to being a sassy girl from the ‘Burgh, but that’s just a way for me to make excuses for my sin.  Some people hold their anger in.  I’m not that people.  My anger becomes a lovely fireworks display inside our home.  Light my fuse and I will show you some sparkling color and allow you to hear my booms!

And with that vulnerable gem of an admission, we move on to the next oh-so-challenging point that will lead us toward the righteousness that God desires from us.

“Keep a Tight Rein on Your Tongue”

The Apostle Paul told the believers in Ephesus, “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” (Ephesians 4:29). One important word to notice in that verse is the word any.  That doesn’t even leave room for a loophole or an excuse that starts with “But HE said…”

You and I may have a word-choice problem, but our word-choice problem does not have to have us! We are children of God who are filled with His righteousness.  It is time for a new day with words, friend.

Chin up. Shoulders back, Deep breath. Intentional step forward.

Let’s do this.

Prayer:

Holy Father, please forgive me for all of the times I’ve allowed sinful behavior to creep into my thoughts and conversations.  I ask that you will now, “Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts.  See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting” (Psalm 139:23-24)

In Jesus’ Power Name

Next Step:

Read Proverbs 18:21.  What two powers do our tongues possess? Which of those do you want your words to reflect? What can you do today to make that happen?

Beyond the Grave

How do we convey just how we feel when we lose someone we love? How do we explain the deep, lonely pain, the emptiness left in us?

The hopes and dreams we have remains like an unfinished book of their life; like an incomplete chapter that remains unfinished with nothing more to write.

No words can express the hurt and anguish we feel. Yet God shares our tears and gives us His love And He, in time, will heal.

We know God’s comfort and know there is hope. With a new chapter to begin, we can hold on to God, For He loves us so much and fills the void within.

As we close one chapter, another can begin. Though the one we love has gone, through Christ’s strength in us and hope in our hearts, we find courage to carry on.

 

Relief That Comes When Seeking Him First

“But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well” (Matthew 6:33, NIV)

A while ago, I accidently stepped on a wooden toothpick that was lying on my bathroom floor. Oh my goodness, did that ever hurt! I knelt down to pick up the toothpick… missing the wooden tip. Yes, I now had a chunk of toothpick lodged in the side of my foot. I spent hours trying to squeeze, tweeze, poke, and pluck the splinter out. It nagged and hurt and throbbed. This little piece of wood was no more than a centimeter, but I thought about it so much! It affected so much of my day-to-day: what shoes I wore, the activities I could do, what occupied my thoughts and my time. I kept thinking, “It is amazing how something so miniscule could affect your life so much!”

A splinter is a small thing, but when it’s lodged in your skin, everything gets off-kilter and uncomfortable. A small thing with big ramifications.

As the week went on, I had found myself trying various at-home remedies like swabbing my foot with honey, baking soda, salt, banana peels… you get desperate! But one thing that came to my mind as I pondered the significance of such a small object, is how a seemingly small sin can affect your life in an incredibly significant way.

As our verse says, Jesus calls us to seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and He tells us that our needs will be provided for. This calling to “seek Him” isn’t an option. If we’ve signed onto follow Jesus, we are to go after him and the way he wants us to live before anything else. There are so many “little” ways I get this wrong. By caring more about checking my phone than checking in with prayer. Going to friends for advice instead of going to Scripture. These are “little” choices but if they fester and remain, we will feel the effects.

Is something off-kilter or not quite right in your heart? Is there a habit you need His help to break? Are you seeking the Lord as you should and trusting him to provide? Maybe you’ve come out of a season where you haven’t been faithfully reading the Bible. Do you feel it; how life feels awkward and not quite right?

God is so gracious, and a week after I stepped on that toothpick, I woke up one morning and the splinter had popped right out. I nearly cried in relief! He is so good and with His grace, he heals those tender and sore places to help us serve Him with a willing heart.

Prayer: God, please be gracious to us. We want to serve You, but we need your help. Take my heart and cleanse every part so I can be better for you.

In Jesus’ Powerful Name

Amen

 

Gratitude Changes Us

Gratitude Changes Us

By Gloria Gaither

 

The joy of summer is the harvest, whether it be golden grains, the bounty from the vegetable gardens and orchards, or the armloads of blooms that border our yards.  The season of the summer of life, too, results in harvests that bring us joy:  children and grandchildren, enduring friendships, and well-established relationships with neighbors and our broader communities.

 

It is impossible to enjoy these joys without being grateful.  And when a roomful of dear friends and family gather to express their gratitude in stories and singing, games and crafts, something unforgettable is bound to happen.  Yes, when families bring the gift of time and bounty just to give thanks, to eat and talk together, and to sing our hearts out to God for all the blessings they have experienced, we are somehow changed.

 

It is really true that “the hand that gives, gathers.”  Whether times are sparse or abundant, let’s keep being generous with whatever blessings we have.  If we are blessed with good memories, share them.  If we have been given the gift of music or art or writing, sing or paint or write something to share.  If we are good at sports, an afternoon on the drive-way basketball court or the front yard football field is great for the heart, the body, and relationships!  Making something together around the cleared Thanksgiving table will unfailingly lead to the greatest conversation and lots of laughs.  Give what you have!  And enjoy and revel in the gifts of others. No matter how hard we try, we can never, never out-give the Lord!  Let’s live these end of summer days with an attitude of gratitude!

Exciting Times Ahead

Gary and I have bought our dream of an old farmhouse with 5 acres.  Every inch of this barndiminum needs to be transformed and loved. In other words it is a major fixer upper.  We have completed three room of this huge project and we have so much more to do.  And this is the house where we will live and have many Bible studies ahead.  There have been no updates on this website because we have been living out of our suitcases waiting for this property to become a reality.

We also plan to build an event center and sleeping quarters for those that want to stay longer than a few hours.  We have prayed that God place his blessings upon everyone that comes to find Him and rest in Him.

We are applying for grants and doing a lot of fundraising for this G&G endeavor that God has placed on our heart.

Please keep us in your prayers and if you feel led donate to God’s ministry.

 

 

Apologies for not being online for so long

We have had so much going on and we haven’t had access to our computer.  We have moved to a beautiful 5 acres with an ugly house on it.  We were living in motels for 7 weeks before we could move out here.  However, now that we are here….every inch of this house is in desperate need of a huge amount of TLC.  So we have spent every waking hour working on the house.  Currently we have my office, Gary’s office and one guest bedroom completed.  So much to do….

We are also building an event center with rooms for people to stay as a retreat for those that want to spend time on their relationship with Christ.  We have had this vision for a long time and watching God work this out has been awesome.

We have purposely not accepted any concerts recently because we are human and need to rest some.  However, we are now ready to get back out there to meet each of you and share Christ.  I will be updating the event calendar also.

Thanks so much for your support of God’s ministry.

 

God is good all the time and all the time God is good.

We have had a busy year and are amazed that we are heading to the end of April.  We had the opportunity to go to Nashville, TN and record another CD.  We met some amazing people while we were there.

The concert on March 30th was such a blessing with the awesome Babbie Mason.  The miracles and blessings keep coming in as we hear how people were touched by that concert.

Gayla has been able to learn more about songwriting from Babbie and has learned so very much.

Griefshare was also a blessing.  We just completed our 4 round of teaching this curriculum. We loved getting to meet the people that came to the group and watch them grow individually as they journeyed through their grief.

We love being able to watch God work in ways that are unpredictable by us.  His ways are bigger than ours and He always takes very good care of us.

God is good all the time and all the time God is good.

The Day After Thanksgiving

There are so many preparations and things to look forward to for this holiday.  I can remember years that I felt so exhausted that being with others was not all that enjoyable.  I love my children, siblings, grandchildren and all family and friends.  Though I am thankful for each of them it can sometimes be too much to cook, clean, prepare and try to visit with each one the way I want to.

This year we decided to do something different. We served others by serving food at a shelter and then we went to a gathering in a small town that has had a yearly Thanksgiving feast since the end of WWII.  It was wonderful.  People drove from all around to go to this gathering.  The food was amazing and there was some uniqueness that I was not familiar with.  They had the regular Turkey and dressing but because this was a German settlement from years ago they also had homemade sour kraut and homemade sausage. There were many people there that we knew and it was fun to visit with people that we had not seen in a while. By the time we got home we were not exhausted and felt like visiting with family that came over that night.

Thanksgiving this year was different and it was a very good different.

We both have had a very blessed year with this ministry and in our personal lives.  We didn’t realize that there would be friends that would fall by the wayside due to jealousy, arrogance, negativity and gossip due to this ministry.  However, we have gained new friends that we have no doubt God placed in our lives. Friends that understand the nature of this business and ministry.  It has been a year to be thankful for in so many areas of our life that as we began to list our blessings we became very humbled by how our creator has smiled down on his creations.

Thank you Lord for each of the blessings that You have allowed us to have and for the supports that you have placed in our life and a Thanksgiving to be restful, reflective and enjoy.

Next month is the last month of the year and there is much to be done as we have three concerts coming up and various Christmas parties. I love that God has opened so many doors for us to serve Him.

 

 

Prayer Warriors

I received a card in the mail the other day that has meant so very much to me. It said “You’re being remembered today in prayer before a God who deeply cares about you.”  Then in someone’s personal handwriting it says “We are covering you in prayer, love from the LRBC Women’s Ministry”  This is a ministry at the church that Gary and I go to.  The day before I received this beautiful card I felt very overwhelmed.  Our schedule had increased and the month of October has been full of concerts, speaking engagements and our regular jobs.

I got down on my knees at one point in the day and just asked God to take it because the tasks were becoming too much.  I did feel much lighter and more calm and peaceful.  But the moment I saw the card and realized that others were praying for me just as I needed it my heart became full of a peaceful energy that I had not felt in a while.  I got more tasks done on that day that I had the days previous.  Instead of trying to get one foot in front of the other, I felt like there was productivity and tasks were being completed.

It was a precious reminder to me that we just need to go to HIM and ask.  He takes very good care of us.  And the bonus of having others praying for me and covering me in prayer gave me wings to fly through each chore one at a time knowing that it is ALL in God’s hands.  He truly deeply cares for me and for you! Praise Him! Praise Him!

Blessings Abound

Gary and I have been loving the opportunities to be out and about doing concerts and speaking engagements.  God has blessed us so, so, very much.  Our longing and desire is that ALL hear about Jesus love and grace and come to know Him as their personal Savior. We do a lot of events on grief, hurting, and how to allow God to heal those hurts.  However, I recently did an event in which I was allowed to speak on “Tell Me The Story of Jesus”, an evangelism topic and in both classes I really didn’t get to finish the story and though the participation was fabulous I felt that the class left before we could get into the “meat” of what it takes to talk to others about Jesus.  We would love to be able to do this class again with more time.

We are also trying to sell our house and God has given us a vision and a promise of a retreat for those that need time to just be still and spend time with Him.  So prayers for this project would be amazing.

God has opened many doors for us and the ministry is growing in directions that we had not realized it would go but we are grateful that God as always has been faithful and watched over us as we minister to others. Our thankfulness for your prayers is always on our mind.  We have many events coming up that are not posted yet because we are still confirming but we are looking forward to sharing with you all that God has put in our path.

We also pray for each of you that have given us your prayer requests and all that have been so supportive of this ministry.

Someone asked if we ever feel like we don’t need God because of the talent we have.  First of all, we need Him every second of every day and will always need Him.  Second, the talent comes from Him and Him alone and we are ever mindful of that fact.  It is all about Jesus and not about us at all.  We are His instruments not the other way around.

God bless you abundantly….