the importance of respect

My daughters and I went on a 15-mile bike ride today. During our ride, I noticed someone had spray-painted graffiti on the underside of a bridge.

We don’t have a lot graffiti in our small rural town, and when it does appear, it is usually covered up quickly (an excellent way, according to experts, to help prevent more graffiti).

The graffiti by the spray-paint “artists” brought to mind the destruction of property we are seeing on a daily basis in our country. Homes and businesses destroyed. Looters, people burning the property of others, and the list goes on.

When did we get to the point that it was all right to destroy the property, livelihoods, and lives of others?

When did it become all right to, just because we disagree with someone, their beliefs, or their actions, to outright deface, damage, destroy, or demolish their personal property? When did it become acceptable to ruin government property?

Property isn’t the only thing at risk. More disturbing is the general lack of disrespect for parents, other authority, older people, the handicapped, police officers, and people in general. If someone disagrees with someone, it no longer is enough to state your opinion calmly or courteously; there are now more damaging ways to make sure an opinion is heard. Injuring, harming, and even killing people no longer shocks us as much as it once did. We’ve become jaded to the horrific antics of those seeking revenge or acting in pettiness because something is not the way they want it.

Disrespect can stem from bad parenting, learned behavior, hatefulness, anger issues, etc. However, it is ultimately the perpetrator’s fault for their actions. No blame should be placed on others for evil behavior.

How can we teach our children to respect others?

Set a good example. If you are disrespectful to others, from the grocery store clerk to your employer, your children are bound to follow that example, no matter how many times you “tell” them to do the opposite.

From an early age, teach your children the importance of manners. “Please” and “thank you” are far too sparse in conversations these days.

Teach them to be generous and avoid selfishness. Putting others first is a critical component of avoiding self-centeredness.

Set an example for them on how to interact with those with whom you disagree. Role play ideas and encourage them to humbly and kindly state their position when it differs from yours.

Impress upon them the importance of honesty. Honesty and respect go hand in hand. Not too long ago, a friend of ours had her mailbox run over by the neighbor’s visitor to the neighborhood. Rather than admit to backing over the mailbox, the visitor denied it and lied to the police, even though there were witnesses. An easy solution would have been for honesty from the one who ran over the mailbox, a plan to have it repaired, and forgiveness. Instead, dishonesty got the crook off the hook.

Reiterate the importance of treating others how we would like to be treated. A good habit for all of us to remember is to ask ourselves before each action, “Would I like that done to me?” If the answer is “no”, then we shouldn’t be taking that action against others.

Remind them that not everyone is worthy of their respect. However, even so, we must remember that lashing out with destruction on someone’s person or personal property is never the answer.

Above all else, teach them to love and honor God. Respecting and revering our Lord is paramount to loving and honoring others.

Even if your children are no longer young, it is never to late to teach them the importance of respect. And as adults, it’s never too late for us to remember – and exemplify – that importance as well.

Other posts on this blog you may be interested in reading:

the importance of life

the importance of honesty

the importance of priorities

14 things for girls to consider before dating

Movie Monday: Signed, Sealed & Delivered Home Again (movie review)

Movie Monday: Invincible (movie review)

14 things for girls to consider before dating

14 things for girls to consider

As a mom of daughters, we’ve had many great discussions about things to consider before they choose to date someone.

Everyone will have their own personal likes/dislikes. For example, my girls have mentioned they would never date someone who has a man bun, wears skinny jeans, or has body piercings.

While hair and clothing styles and body piercings are all a matter of preference, some things are non-negotiable, and while we need to remember no one is perfect, being aware of the following attributes (or lack thereof) will help you make a more informed choice before you choose to date someone.

Below are 14 things to consider before dating that cute guy.

1. How is his faith walk? Is he growing in Christ? Is he living out his faith? Is he unashamed of his faith? Does he pray with and for you? Is his faith an important part of his life? Does he “walk the walk and talk the talk”?

Romans 12 2

2. How does he spend his time? We have become a world obsessed with technology. While that’s not bad in and of itself, if you are contemplating dating someone who has an addiction to video games or is constantly on his phone or social media, you might want to think twice about whether there would be any room in his life for you. As a matter of fact, a name has been given to cell phone addiction: “nomophobia”. According to techjury.net, “66% of the world’s population shows signs of nomophobia.” And gaming and cell phone addiction aren’t the only addictions to be wary of.

And while video games, social media, and time spent on a cell phone are fine in moderation, look for someone who spends his spare time doing productive things.

3. What is his standard for music, books, and movies? What does he allow to fill his mind? What does he allow his eyes to see and his ears to hear? What goes in will come out in his attitude, personality, and the way he treats others.

4. Speaking of how he treats others, how does he treat…

Your family? A guy who wants nothing to do with your family is a guy to avoid. In addition, a guy who won’t allow you to spend time with your family could have possessive and abusive tendencies.

His family? Some people come from dysfunctional homes, and as such, the guy you are considering dating may not be close to his family. That is tough and there are many logistics involved in that. But is your potential boyfriend respectful to his family? Does he care about their wellbeing? You can be estranged and still care about those you are not close to.

Children? It has been said many times that how a guy treats little children and babies is a huge indicator of the type of person he is. Is he hateful, rude, and sees little ones as a burden? Does he believe babies should be aborted because they aren’t worthy of living? Notice how he treats not only your siblings and his siblings, but also children at functions, such as church.

The elderly? Does he view them as precious creations of God or as wasting society’s resources?

Animals?  Your potential guy doesn’t have to be a dog or cat lover to be kind to animals. But you don’t want to date someone who mistreats or abuses animals.

5. How does he treat you when you can’t do anything for him? Does he take care of you when you are sick? Is he there for you?

6. How does he handle disagreements? Does he withdraw, get into a raging fight, or blame everything on you? Guaranteed that if you date (and later marry!) anyone for any length of time, you will have disagreements. It’s natural for two people to not see eye-to-eye on every subject. How he handles conflict speaks volumes.

7. How is his work ethic? Is he lazy and unmotivated? Or, on the opposite end of the spectrum, a workaholic?

8. Is he loyal? Will he defend your honor?

9. Is he honest? Does he keep his word? Does he do what he says he’ll do? Is he honest when speaking with authorities?

10. Does he have a servant’s heart? There are multiple ways to serve others and it’s not a one-size-fits-all. But is he using his gifting to make the lives of others better?

1 Peter 4 10

11. How does he handle your concerns or fears? Lightly? With care?

12. Does he respect you? Or does he coerce, guilt-trip, pressure, or force you to do things that are against your convictions, make you uncomfortable, and/or aren’t safe?

13. Does he show any signs of an abusive temperament? In other words, how does he treat those he is no longer friends with or girls he formerly dated?

One thing my daughters and I have discussed often is the high rate of abuse suffered by young women in “romantic” relationships. A horrifying statistic from the website loveisrespect.org states “Nearly 1.5 million high school students nationwide experience physical abuse from a dating partner in a single year”. Further, “Nearly half (43%) of dating college women report experiencing violent and abusive dating behaviors”. The rise of cyber abuse has contributed to the problem.

As a mom, this frightens me more than I can express. We can’t see all of the warning signs in a potential abuser, but we can be aware that abuse does exist and be on the lookout.

14. How is his overall character and integrity? One of my favorite quotes is that assessing one’s integrity is done by seeing what they do when no one is looking.

C.S. Lewis

Webster’s defines integrity as “adherence to moral and ethical principles; soundness of moral character; honesty”. Character and integrity are crucial and a huge part of someone’s personality. Does your potential boyfriend stand for what is right?

Stand even if alone

In our house, we put an emphasis on intentional dating. Not dating just to date, but rather seriously contemplating who to date and whether that person could be a potential long-term prospect. This helps to “weed out” those who could never be potential mates for a variety of reasons, and helps eliminate the emotions, heartbreak, and problems that arise from failed “romantic” relationships.

 

 

Other posts on this blog that you may enjoy reading:

4 ways to reconnect with your spouse

10 ways to help your kids choose good role models

Looking to homeschool? Here are 7 things to consider.

7 tips to help safeguard against an entitlement attitude in your kids

Movie Monday: Chronicle Mysteries – Recovered

 

12 verses to encourage the burdened heart

12 verses to encourage the burdened heart

Life is hard. Things don’t always go as we’d like. Discouragement, disappointment, fear, and anxiety can overtake us at a moment’s notice. Everyday we are faced with trials, hardships, and frightening news about the world around us. What should we do when faced with these feelings?

Everyone, at one time or another, needs to be reminded of God’s love and that He never leaves us.

God’s Word has much encouragement for the burdened heart. Here are 12 inspiring verses of God’s promises to be with us and give us comfort no matter what life tosses our way.

Isaiah 66 13

Jeremiah 29 11

1 Peter 5 7

Psalm 91 4

Philippians 4 13

Psalm 29 11

Psalm 46 1

Psalm 147 3a

Psalm 46 10a

Psalm 23 2-3a

Psalm 55 22

Isaiah 41 10

 

Other posts in The Scripture Series you may enjoy:

11 verses about God’s unfailing love

scriptural antidotes for fear

10 Bible verses to start off your day

surviving shingles – part 1

surviving shingles pt1

The most unexpected thing happened to me recently.

Totally unforeseen, unanticipated, and totally not on my radar.

As a matter of fact, I thought the soreness I felt a day before the onset was due to overdoing it while lifting weights or spending too much time at the gun range with my husband.

My diagnosis begged an answer to  the question: aren’t I too young for shingles?

Apparently not.

If you’ve ever had shingles, you know that it can be some of the worst pain you will ever experience. It’s a burning, searing, stabbing and unrelenting pain that gets a grip on you and doesn’t let go.

For those of you who have had shingles or are perhaps going through them right now, I hope this blog post offers you some comfort.

2 Corinthians 1 3-4

I am not a health care provider or a medical professional; the following items are merely things that have worked for me as I continue down this trek of surviving the shingles virus. Please check with your doctor before trying any of the following suggestions to be sure they are right for you.

Cling to God.

My first night with shingles was a nightmare. I still wasn’t sure of my diagnosis, only that instead of sleep, a pain like I’d never known invaded the left and back sides of my neck and my collar bone. Tears streamed down my face in the middle of the night, as I sought peace while calling upon comforting Scripture verses. I prayed that God would help me with whatever was going on, as my sweet husband clutched my hand and prayed over me. I’m not sure how people make it without the Lord during times of trial.

Get diagnosed.

My oldest daughter and I Googled rashes (by Friday morning, I had four blisters) and came to the conclusion I had shingles. My chiropractor confirmed it when I headed to his office for an adjustment in hopes of helping the unrelenting pain. By Friday afternoon, my blisters had multiplied from my left upper chest up around my neck, my jawline, my upper arm, and around the back of my neck and into my hairline. The fatigue and flu-like symptoms, including a sore throat, ear pain, and fever, added to my discomfort.

A few hours later, I was in my primary care doctor’s office with a prescription for Valtrex. While I am one who tends more toward natural therapies, taking the Valtrex soon after being diagnosed was a very wise decision. I have also been taking Tylenol and Ibuprofen for the pain.

Realize shingles affect everyone differently.

Some I have spoken to have said their shingles weren’t too severe, but for the majority I have talked with, their shingles were a horrific nightmare they don’t soon want to remember. And no, it doesn’t just attack the elderly. Three people I know shared with me that they had succumbed to the shingles virus while in their 20s.

Get rest.

There is no way around this one. You have to rest when you have shingles. Even if you have a mild case, get lots of rest and take time to heal so there are no complications. It’s said that this virus can last 3-5 weeks, and for some people even longer.

Do an assessment.

As I mentioned previously, shingles were not on my radar. How on earth could a healthy girl like myself get it?

Well…apparently stress can contribute. So I decided to do an assessment. Besides the many hats I wear: wife, mom, homeschool mom, author, volunteer, group fitness instructor, blogger, etc., I had also had some pretty serious stress in the past six months. In mid-January, my oldest daughter and I came down with the worst flu we’d ever experienced that lasted a month with lingering fatigue continuing an additional two weeks. Job furloughs and unemployment, a dental procedure that included an allergic reaction, a huge door swinging shut on me for a book project I had poured my heart into, and my youngest being rushed to the ER for what appeared to be a stroke added to my list of stressors. (Turns out she was having a horrific complex migraine – her first ever – and hopefully her last).

So do an assessment of where you’re at with stress. Covid-19 and all the upheavals currently taking place in our world are enough to cause anyone a sleepless night.

Be healthy.

In an effort to fight this virus, I adopted and continued with a list of healthy things I would be doing in the coming weeks. Some that have helped me are the following:

Supplements. Multi, C, E, D, zinc, B complex, and a good probiotic can be super helpful. For Optimal Daily Amounts, my personal go-to book is The Real Vitamin and Mineral Book by Shari Lieberman and Nancy Bruning.

Foods. Vegetables and fruits, such as sweet potatoes, spinach, broccoli, red/black grapes, watermelon, cantaloupe, pumpkin and pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, berries, avocados etc. are all good choices. Avoid anything inflammatory, such as junk food, refined foods, and sugar.

Water. Stay well-hydrated.

Time with God. Spending time in His Word and a vibrant prayer life is a must for me. I am so dependent on His mercy and grace.

Prayers. I put myself on my church’s prayer chain and collected those prayers along with the faithful prayers of my immediate and extended family. Prayer works.

Sunshine. Plan on getting 10-15 minutes a day, preferably surrounded by nature.

Exercise. Gentle stretches and a short walk are a good start to building up to where you were before shingles.

Hugs. Studies have shown that hugs boost the immune system. My family is awesome about helping me fill my hug “quota” for the day.

Chiropractic care. It’s a good way to strengthen the immune system, and if you are fortunate to have a good chiropractor, he/she can be a wealth of information.

Just say no to stress. That includes taking a break from social media and the toxic news that currently surrounds us.

Sleep. A full night’s rest can be a challenge with the pain, so be sure to give yourself permission to take naps as necessary.

Don’t get discouraged.

I will humbly tell you that discouragement has knocked on my door a couple of times during this trial. As an active person not accustomed to not being busy, it has been difficult to not have the energy to do anything. And the pain? There is something called neuralgia that can stick with you long after the shingles are over. The thought scares me to death since my own sweet mom has severe chronic pain and is wheelchair-bound.

All this to say, discouragement will find you if you allow it. The second you take your eyes off Jesus, despair is there ready to accompany you through the day. Don’t let it.

discouragement - mom

Return your focus on our Lord and His promises. Remember Peter when he took his eyes off Jesus that day during the storm? He sank. We sink when we take our focus from the One who loves us so much He gave His Son for us.

To be continued…

I am officially on Day 13 of my shingles journey. I wish I could say I am completely healed. That I have no more neck, shoulder, and ear pain. No more fatigue.

But that’s not the case. While it has relented somewhat and I continue to get stronger everyday, I still have a ways to go. The pain and fatigue are ever present. But I’m hanging in there and am relying on God’s faithfulness to see me through this ordeal.

So all this to say that if you are going through shingles right now, hang in there. We will get through this!

 

 

 

 

6 things to do in these crazy times

6 crazy times

It’s definitely a crazy (and scary!) world we live in at present.

Everywhere we turn, there’s footage and news of horrific violence. Innocent lives taken. Businesses ruined. Cities destroyed. Some of it is even happening in our own towns and cities. The America we love is no longer the same. What can we do?

Pray fervently that God will heal our nation. Pray for wisdom for our leaders. Pray  that they will make godly choices in the governing roles to which they were elected or appointed.
Reach others with the love of Christ. The world is watching and is desperate for hope. Let’s not waste the opportunity to show people that the hope they yearn for can only be found in Jesus. We need to be an example of Christ and be the light in an increasingly bleak world.

Reach out and help someone in need. Whenever we take the focus off ourselves and our stress, and place our focus on another, it benefits everyone.

Strive for unity. No, we aren’t always going to agree on everything, and frankly, it would be pretty boring if we did. However, when we disagree, we can do it respectfully. Satan loves division among Believers. Don’t give him a foothold.

Take a break from the media. It can be toxic, and who needs the elevated blood pressure? However, we should not be ostriches with our heads in the sand either. We do need to be aware of what is going on in the world around us. Just in a balanced dose.

Remember that God is sovereign. As I mentioned during the height of the corona virus, this unrest we are seeing in our nation did not catch our Lord unaware. He is our refuge. Our strength. Through Him, we can have peace. And it’s not just a superficial peace, but a real and abiding peace.

Most of all, keep our eyes on Jesus. I am reminded of the time Peter took his eyes off of Jesus and he sank. When we turn our focal point on the Lord and with His help keep it there, we will never sink.

Hebrews 12 2a

11 verses about God’s unfailing love

God's unfailing love

Thank you for joining me as we continue journeying through The Scripture Series and diving into the Bible this week to look at verses that detail God’s unfailing love.

We’ve all been hurt by someone we care about, whether that be a friend, relative, or fellow believer. The sting of betrayal is painful and not something that is easily overcome.

But there is One who will never betray us. He will never walk away from us when times get tough. He will never betray our confidence, share our most precious secrets, give up on us, spread gossip about us, or leave us for someone “better”. This is good news in a fickle world where most of us are just one step away from “offending” someone and losing their friendship.

God’s unfailing love can be difficult to grasp. Yet His love is boundless, steadfast, and inexhaustible. It is eternal. And as Romans 8:38-39 tells us, nothing (emphasis on that word!) can separate us from His love. Nothing. Nada.

Nothing we can ever do, or will ever do, can stop Him from loving us. He is forgiving, patient, and merciful. As His children, we are cherished, valued, and precious. So precious, in fact, that He paid a high price for us – the death of His Son, Jesus Christ for our sins. May we never take such a costly gift for granted.

Be blessed by the fact that God’s love is faithful and enduring.

Romans 8 38-39

I am convinced that nothing will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. ~ Romans 8:38-39

1 Chronicles 16 34

Give thanks to the Lord for he is good; his love endures forever. ~ 1 Chronicles 16:34

John 15 13

Greater love has no one than this: to lay down ones life for one’s friends. ~ John 15:13

Psalm 86 15

But you, O Lord, are a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness. ~ Psalm 86:15

Galatians 2 20

I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me. ~ Galatians 2:20

Romans 5 8

But God demonstrates his own love for us in this. While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. ~ Romans 5:8

John 10 11

I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. ~ John 10:11

Romans 5 5

And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. ~ Romans 5:5

John 3 16

For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. ~ John 3:161 John 3 1See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God. ~ 1 John 3:11 John 4 10This is love; not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. ~ 1 John 4:10

 

unfailing love verses

 

Other blog posts you may enjoy:

scriptural antidotes for fear

10 Bible verses to start off your day

the importance of mentorship

outside-the-box homeschool ideas

the importance of perseverance

 

 

10 Bible verses to start off your day

10 verses morning

I am super excited to be starting a new series on my blog called The Scripture Series. I’ll be taking a journey through God’s Word and sharing Bible verses on a variety of topics.

Our first in the series is 10 Bible verses to start off your day. Those first precious moments in the morning that we spend with the Lord, wrapped in His embrace as we pray about the day and turn it over to Him, set the stage for the next 24 hours.

Thank you for joining me for this new series. Be blessed!

 

Psalm 118 24

This is the day the Lord has made; we will rejoice and be glad in it. ~ Psalm 118:24

 

Lamentations 3_22-23

His mercies are new every morning. ~ Lamentations 3:22-23

 

Philippians 4 13

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. ~ Philippians 4:13

 

Romans 8 31bIf God is for us, who can be against us? ~ Romans 8:31b

 

2 TimothyFor God did not give us a spirit of fear, but of power and love and self-control. ~ 2 Timothy 1:7

 

 

Ephesians 6 11

Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. ~ Ephesians 6:11

 

Psalm 19 14

Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer. ~ Psalm 19:14

 

James 1 5

If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given to him. ~ James 1:5

 

Matthew 11 28

Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. ~ Matthew 11:28

 

Psalm 143 8

Let me hear in the morning of your steadfast love, for in you I trust. Make me know the way I should go, for to you I lift up my soul. ~ Psalm 143:8

 

10 morning verses summary

 

 

Other posts you may enjoy:

5 ways to start your day off right

7 ways to inspire others

the importance of gratitude

13 ways to help someone going through a difficult time

12 verses to encourage the burdened heart

 

the struggle is real

struggle is real

Flying down the dirt roads on my parents’ property on our Honda Odyssey go-kart are some of my favorite childhood memories.

There was a time in the field when I landed in a ditch. As hard as I would try, I couldn’t quite get the go-kart out of the ditch without flipping it. I had the knowledge of how to do it, but I just couldn’t achieve that goal. So there I sat, upside down, protected by the roll cage and seat belt, as I struggled to remove the go-kart from the ditch.

While not having anything in common with those fun times on the Honda Odyssey, yesterday, I faced another real struggle.

Having broken a tooth, I sat in the dentist chair for an emergency dental appointment. Sure, I had prayed myself up, asked my family to do the same, and had spent time with the Lord that morning, resting in His unfailing peace.

I reached up and placed my earbud in one ear and adjusted the volume. I needed to be able to hear both my playlist on my phone and the dentist. The songs from some of my favorite Christian artists flooded into my mind.

Yet, as they numbed me up and the dentist arrived with the needle that would inject the anesthetic into my gums, fear and trepidation rose within me.

dentist

If you guessed that I am not fond of needles, you are correct. I join 50 million other people who share the fear of needles.

Doesn’t make it any easier that I am in good company.

This isn’t my first rodeo when it comes to dental work or needles. I’ve been going to the dentist since I was four years old. I’ve had orthodontic work, wisdom teeth removal, and a gum graft. I’ve had my appendix removed and spent a large part of my first pregnancy connected to IVs during a long stint in the hospital with hyperemesis gravidarum and pneumonia. Each year, I have a wellness blood draw with my annual physical. I’ve never put off a medical procedure because of my fear of needles.

But the struggle is real.

Scripture verses flooded my mind as the needle drew closer. Verses about fear, worry, anxiety, God’s comfort, His refuge, and the list goes on.

Psalm 46 1

Verses I know by heart. Verses I have drawn upon many times in my life for comfort.

So why then was I still anxious about that needle? Why was a grown woman struggling with something some would deem minor?

My heart and my mind were in agreement. God would get me through this. I was not alone. He was there with me. He went before me, would never let me go. He created the entire world and everything in it. I knew needles were not a big deal for Him. And yet, I still struggled.

Experts say that everyone has a fear and/or phobia. Many people have more than one (snakes, heights, public speaking, spiders anyone?) Still, I hate the thought of being fearful of an inanimate object. I hate the thought of having to share with the dentist and her team members that taking a needle to the mouth is a hugely stressful event for me.

The procedure was over in an hour and a half. Drowsy, loopy, and starting to feel the pain from the procedure, I staggered out of the room and was driven home by my teenage daughter.

I’d made it through.

In three weeks, I go back for round two, again with another needle (or two). Someday, hopefully long before I enter into eternity, I hope to no longer get ramped up with anxiety at the mere thought of a needle.

But even if I continue to have this fear the remainder of my life, I know one thing is certain. While God’s will may not be that I am fearless, it is His promise that He is with me no matter how many times I have to deal with fears (or anything else).

That His daughter was struggling with the needle at the dentist’s office mattered to Him. I mattered to Him. My seemingly “little” problem in the scope of all of the huge problems in today’s world mattered to my Lord and Savior.

Sometimes struggles are real. Our mind and heart know one thing, but our human selves do not cooperate. During these struggles, God grows us. While we wish He could do it in a less anxiety-provoking and terrifying way, we can rest in the knowledge that He is always with us and everything is in His control.

Psalm 56 3

 

are you showing the difference?

showing the difference

My teenage daughters and I were recently discussing how it seems to be getting more difficult to differentiate between a believer and an unbeliever. Sure, we as followers of Christ make mistakes, and by God’s merciful grace, are forgiven.

We pray for His guidance and direction and that we will learn from that mistake and grow in Him. We struggle from day-to-day to live for Him. To love Him with all our hearts, souls, and minds, to love our neighbors, pray for our enemies, make good choices, and reach a lost world for Jesus Christ.

No one, not even a longtime Christian, is even close to being perfect. We will never achieve perfection in this world.

But what about those who profess to be a Christian, but aren’t living for Him and really have no desire to do so? What about the very real possibility that we, as those who profess belief in Christ, are looking oddly similar to the world – the very world we are to be set apart from?

Consider these commonly seen actions in our world today:

Climbing the ladder/selfish ambition. Do anything to get to the top, no matter who is stepped on or shoved aside in the process

Backbiting/backstabbing. If someone dislikes us, disagrees with us, has a difference of opinion, then it is perfectly acceptable to backbite, backstab, accuse, and do what you can to destroy their reputation.

The “importance” of sharing information. Why not share what you know about people – or what you think you know – even if it’s not true?

Wealth. He or she who has the most money should for sure be the most popular. After all, the poorer person can’t donate money to your cause like the wealthy one can. An added bonus? They can buy you things. Befriend those who profit you the most.

Looks are critical. Because our world values youth, thinness, and nice clothes, those who are a little plump, a little wrinkled, a little old, or a little bit ugly really aren’t as important.

Focus on self. Really, when it all comes down to it, is there any room left in the mirror for anyone but ourselves?

Popularity. He or she who is most popular wins. Why side with an “underdog” if it doesn’t further our own agenda?

Christianity is a crutch. Really, who needs to believe in an old book with old verses and stories in it when we can believe what our modern writers/philosophers say?

Lie to get what you want. Honesty is so overrated.

Win at all costs. If you need to pick a fight, go ahead. Prove you’re right.

Never forgive. What they did was wrong and they will pay!

Sadly, the above traits are not limited to some secular people. And by some, I mean that I have many unbelieving friends who are kind, loving, compassionate, and generous  who don’t subscribe to the above list. Far too often, unbelievers who don’t know the hope found in Jesus Christ behave better than Christians.

However, I also know some believers who are manipulative, hateful, critical gossipers.

Friends, this should not be so.

Contrast the following to the above:

Taking the low rung on the  ladder and be happy for others when they succeed.

Letting our words build others up, rather than tearing them down (Ephesians 4:29).

Avoiding gossip as it is the surest way to hurt someone.

Remembering we can’t serve two masters. We will either love God or money. (Matthew 6:24).

Focusing on what is on the inside. In First Samuel 16:7b, we learn that while man looks at the outward appearance, the Lord looks at the heart.

1 Samuel 16 7 (2)

Putting others as more important than ourselves.

Rooting for the underdog. In the Bible, there are several underdogs God uses including David, Gideon, and Moses.

Christianity is not a crutch. It is the Truth.

God values honesty.

Strife and discord are among the things the Lord hates.

Jesus forgave us for all of the times we sin (which are many!)

Revenge is God’s, not ours.

Quite the difference when we compare list to list. Yet, as I write this, many Christians are struggling with being hurt by fellow believers. Other believers may be struggling with they themselves making poor choices that hurt others.

Let’s give unbelievers a reason to want to know Christ. Let’s not blend in with the world and be like them, but let’s rather be set apart for Him. Let there be a difference between us and our unbelieving neighbor.

We must show – and be- the difference to a dying world.

arrested for faith

 

 

 

 

 

 

Where is your focus? Finding peace of mind in a world of negativity

Where is your focus - finding

We have an air purifier that works extremely well. When it detects an odor, it automatically ramps up its motor, and works hard to filter out the impurities to help with our family’s allergies and asthma.

All of the information we are fed on a daily basis via the news, social media, and other outlets can be overwhelming, especially in these times of Covid-19. I know people who listen to or watch the news for hours. Just like the impurities our air purifier eliminates, we ourselves need to decrease the amount of toxicity we allow into our minds. We are going to get through this. We are. Yes, we’ll emerge different that we were before – in many positive ways and a perhaps few negative ways, but this “new normal” is not forever. We need to make a conscious effort to filter out the negative thoughts that crowd our minds, the anxiety that grips us, the fear that constantly bombards us, and the depression that threatens to take up permanent residence.

The Lord is at work, even when we can’t see it. He knows the struggles we face, the adjustments we are having to make, and the fear that coincides with the unknown. Lean on Him. Trust in Him. Rely on Him. Set your mind on Him. While at times a difficult task, seek to fill your mind with gratitude and hope and spend daily time in His word – all remedies to fight despair and hopelessness.

Colossians 3 2

Keeping tabs on what is going on is fine, as long as we do not allow it to engulf us. Instead of allowing yourself to dwell on the incessant negativity, focus on the good that is coming from this. Families are growing closer. People are helping in whatever way they can. Communities are banding together.

The negativity presented to us by the world does not fit into the categories listed in Philippians 4:8. Only when deciding not to focus on the negative, can we filter out the times when toxicity threatens to seep into our minds and lives.

Philippians 4 8 best one