Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Thoughts on what constitutes gossip…

The Oxford American Dictionary defines gossip as “casual talk, especially about other people’s affairs.” I think it’s interesting a secular dictionary would use the phrase “casual talk” to define a term that usually has hurtful and negative consequences. Casual suggests the gossip is done without forethought and that it is not a harmful activity in which to be engaged. However, when I checked the synonym suggestions on my computer for gossip one of the words listed was blather. Since I was unfamiliar with the term blather, I looked it up, too. It was defined as, “foolish talk.”

Gossip is usually thought out and done with intent to harm or to prove one’s beliefs about another person. Typically, gossip involves hearsay and goes through many people’s mouths and the person that is the subject of the gossip is ordinarily not given opportunity to confront his accusers. Often we justify this type of behavior because of our experiences with the person who is the subject of the gossip. We are on a mission to find the truth.

As I think about this act, I have to wonder if the scribes and the Pharisees felt justified in locating witnesses against Christ? They certainly did not like Jesus. He was an inconvenience and was interrupting their plans. So, they engaged in casual talk to build a case against him. Finally, when the evidence was presented to Jesus, He didn’t even bother to defend himself because he knew that these folks had already determined what they believed as the truth.

We quickly dismiss putting our actions and words into the same category as the scribes and Pharisees because Jesus was innocent. The person that we are engaged in tearing apart is horrible. We justify our actions because there is a greater good. We are on a mission to show this person’s true character. But, we never give the victim of the gossip opportunity to defend himself until we have already judged and tried him by rounding up our fellow gossips to substantiate the facts as we know them.

Gossip is dangerous. James 3:5 -6 says , "Likewise the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole person, sets the whole course of his life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell."

In Romans 1:29, Paul includes gossips with other evil works and in verse 32 he says that those who practice such acts deserve death.

All of us have probably engaged in gossip from time to time. That does not make the activity godly and we should never justify it. In fact, we should run from it.

Monday, August 22, 2011

First Day of Class....

Seminary is back in session. Going back to school for my graduate degree is both delightful and aggravating. I guess it’s delightfully aggravating. I am blessed because I unconditionally adore Biblical studies. I haven’t discovered any class or discipline in theological studies which I haven’t enjoyed. That is not to say that I would have preferred a different professor or grader for some of my classes but the subject matter has both inspired and enlightened me. This evangelism class which I began today is probably going to take me out of my comfort zone. Therefore, I am reminding myself that as Christians we need to be challenged. I need to be challenged.

My method of personal evangelism is to develop relationships with people. This can takes weeks, months or years. After mutual respect and trust is developed, I gradually discuss the subject of Christ. Of course, I am also comfortable speaking in front of large or small groups and sharing the wonder and power of Jesus in my life and His invitation to each of them. I usually do not approach the check-out girl or the waitress about their spiritual walk and go into a witnessing chat. That has always seemed like a run-and-gun method and I have worried that I would come across as insincere.

Yet, it seems that this class is expecting me to do that very thing. After reading several books, it appears that this type of witnessing can be done with care and success. So, I am praying that God opens my eyes to opportunities to be His ambassador to the stranger who desperately needs Christ as his Savior.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Things that I have learned ....

Things I’ve learned from conflicts in marriage!

1. Handle issues when they are small so that you don’t build an impermeable wall.

The ancient Israelites would fortify their cities by building unique walls. They would create a rock wall of about a foot wide and build another one about 6 or 7 feet away from it. Into that gap, they would throw rocks, garbage, and dirt to create a 9 foot wide wall. They used their garbage to construct large thick walls that their enemies would have a hard time breaking through.

Sometimes, we do this in our marriages. We are at an impasse so each of us builds a small wall. At this point we need to break through that wall; however, we often start throwing our garbage into the mix and soon we have a royal mess and cannot see anyway to tear the wall down.

Moral of this illustration: Handle the issues as they arise and do not allow them to fester and grow.

2. Be quick to apologize even when you *know* that you are right and he is wrong. A gentle response will help to defuse a volatile situation.

Have you ever had this conversation with a child who is fighting with a friend or sibling?

Parent, “Apologize.”
Kid, “But, I am not sorry. I am right! He is not being fair. He hurt me. He is wrong…”

Just like our children need to apologize, we need to practice the same instruction in our marriage. A simple, “Honey, I’m sorry,” can create an atmosphere where conversation can begin. Having a good relationship is more important than proving that I am right and he is wrong.

3. Listen with respect.

This is important because if you do not listen to and respect your spouse, he or she will find someone else who will.

4. Trust each other.

This one seems pretty reasonable yet often trust is lost in a relationship. I am not talking about infidelity but in other areas. All of us can make decisions that end up being horrible mistakes. When (not if) your spouse makes a bad choice, let it go. Don’t assume that he or she can no longer be trusted in that area.

5. Finally, remember that you love this person!

Musings....

Time for another rambling Blog about Nothing in particular…

Working on my book has created a major problem. I have been redoing my previous writing and I have discovered that I do not LIKE several of my chapters. Hahaha! How sad is that? The author doesn’t like her writing? So, now the process has slowed down because I am just not editing but I am rewriting some of my chapters.

I told Mark my dilemma and the man sort of chuckled at me. My first inclination was to reach out and smack the man. But, I didn’t because I am a really sweet person. However, I thought about kicking him in his sleep.

My theology classes start back next week and I have not done as much on my book this summer as I had planned. I am not sure how this happened. Oh, yes… I remember! Life happened and sort of dragged me off my schedule.

I hope all of the other writers out in the blogging world are staying on target.
Be blessed and be a blessing!

Friday, August 12, 2011

Trying for a lighter note

A blog I visit asked us to write something about here we lived. Here's what I wrote:


I am from Vidalia, GA. We have amazing weather here – hot or hotter, lovely huge hills of fire ants, sweet onions and sweet tea. We think that all y’all talk really funny and can’t give directions. Here’s an example of driving directions that you could expect to get from any local southern person....

Foreigner (otherwise known as Yankee), “Can you tell me how to get to the post office?”

Local (known as Aunt to everyone regardless of a blood relation), “Sure, sugar. You go to where the IGA used to be...”

At this point the Yankee will interrupt and say, “Sorry, I am new to the area. Is the IGA sign still there? What’s an IGA?”

[Side note: We don’t need to be told you’re not from here because we know it. You don’t talk right.]

Aunt, “Honey, the IGA sign is long gone. It’s hasn’t been around for a good 15 years. Mr. Mack’s hardware store is located there now. Don’t y’all have IGA where you come from?”

Yankee, “So, I am to look for a hardware store called Mr. Mack?”

Aunt, “Why would you do that? That’s not the store’s name.”

Yankee (getting a bit frustrated), “Can you tell me the street’s name?”

Aunt, “I don’t rightly know the name of the street but you go up this road a piece. Look for the big ole white house with a large magnolia in the yard located on the corner. It’s a right pretty Bed and Breakfast. The fire chief and his wife run the place.”

Yankee, “Turn there?”

Aunt, “No… pass it. Turn two roads up - next to where IGA used to be….”

BTW, that's a true story. And, here's another true story....

My dad loved the Sunday drive when we were growing up. One time, he started driving and driving.... We got severely lost. He finally saw this little old man sitting in a rocking chair on his porch and chewing tobacco. Dad stopped the car and asked,

"Can you tell me how to get to Franklin?"

The old man, "You talkin' Franklin, TN or Franklin, KY?"

Dad, "Franklin, TN."

Old Man, after thinking a while followed by spitting out a wad of tobacco , "That's a far piece from here."

Those were the instructions. Not another word. LOL

Dad finally said, "Well, can you point me in the direction that I should be driving?"

Thursday, August 11, 2011

No Tears to Cry

If I could produce tears….
I would have filled a pond with them today.
Instead, I think that I have filled a swamp with my mucus tears….
And, my eyes are paying the price.

I am trying to find a way to praise God today….
And, to mean it.
I don’t want my words to be empty….
To be shallow without truth.

….But....

Sometimes, praise is hard…
Especially when life is difficult.

Today I have meditated on my sorrow….
On life’s disappointments and lost dreams.
I have piled them altogether….
And, have created an impressive heap of grief.

I have parked myself in the garage of despair….
And considered losing my keys.
Because maneuvering through this place....
Overwhelms me.

I need to seek God and find His goodness….
Instead of languishing in my swamp of mucus tears.
However, the muck and mire of life….
Is at times overpowering.

It begins to function as quicksand dragging me under….
To where the Light can scarcely penetrate.
I try to find a pocket of air in this wretched place….
To breathe something fresh into my lungs.

....But....

I cannot succeed….
Because I have fallen too deep – too far.

Where is the One who can rescue me….
And breathe sweetness into my lungs?
I need Him to find my lost soul….
And restore my joy and trust.

....Because….

I have no strength left in me....
And Darkness is beginning to consume this place.


August 11, 2011

Christi turns 31 today. While we know that she's alive, we have had no contact with her. This pain permeates me like a recklessly growing and deadly mold which has attacked not only the outside fa├žade of my life but has spread its ugliness to the innermost parts of my being. I thought, prayed, and hoped that by now our children would have desired contact with us. But instead, all we get is silence.

Unfortunately, this silence isn’t mute since it is filled with so much agony and struggle of the heart. This silence is my constant companion always sitting next to me taunting my cherished hope of reconciliation. I try to occupy my days with reading, studying, family, friends, and activity. However, eventually sleep must come and I have no control over my dreams. In those dreams, I often see my children and I will try to get to them. Yet, there is always an obstacle that prevents me from holding them or speaking to them. This obstacle used to be my father or mother but not with normal features. Instead, their faces often were so twisted that they appeared demonic in nature. The dreams have modified over the years. The obstacle usually doesn’t portray itself as a person but simply as evil incarnate. Perhaps, God is now controlling my dreams and reminding me of a truth found in Ephesians 6.

“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm.”

Stand Firm.

Today I will pray for God to protect the hearts and minds of my children from the spiritual forces of wickedness that would seek to destroy them. I pray that He will reveal the truth of Himself to them and that they will stand firm in Christ.

I will continue to pray that my father will seek Christ and find hope and forgiveness in Him. I pray that whatever demonic powers have invaded his heart will be eradicated by the power of the Holy Spirit.

I will also pray for me. I pray that God grants me peace and joy in a world that is not my home and continually reminds me of His great love and sovereignty in all things – both in the things that my physical eyes see and that my spiritual eyes hope to see. I will pray that I can Stand Firm.

My longing today is that my daughter will realize that she has a momma and daddy who dearly love her. I hope that God reveals His salvation to her and restores her to a family which has never ceased in praying for her and Bobby.

Christi, my darling girl, I wish you a happy birthday.

Friday, August 05, 2011

Marketing yourself as a Christian speaker....

Ugh. Worded that way it sounds so worldly; however, it seems that you have to be willing to do the marketing so folks know that you are out there and serious.

I love it when I get calls to come and speak but this forward marketing doesn't seem very spiritual!

But, I digress.

I have been researching how you begin getting your name out there as a Christian speaker. A couple of the things suggested are creating a webpage with professional photos, video clips of sections during your talks, and other data. The key word seems to be NETWORK. Since, Mark and I have been writing this book - having these things in place could possibly encourage a future publisher to take a chance with our book.

I hate having my photo made - especially since being on those HIGH doses of predisone last year and the beginning of this year. But, I am biting the proverbial bullet and scheduling a photo session. I contacted a friend who has a studio and told her that I was trying to get some "good"... well, perhaps.... "decent".... photos of me for a webpage and email attachments and flyers. She quoted me an amazing price and I am scheduling that for next week.

I scheduled an appointment with my hair stylist before the photo shoot. Unfortunately, I know that will not make a huge difference because what I need is a face-lift and liposuction!

Yep.... wanting face-lifts and liposuction, hair dying, highlighting and waxing additional hair off my face, wondering which of my clothes make me look less fat.... these are the thoughts invading my mind. haha!

We are called to be in the world but not of the world.... sometimes that line is rather obscure.