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How to Encourage Others Without Even Trying

How to Encourage Others Without Even Trying

I really appreciated Elizabeth’s insight on last week’s post, Three Epic Reasons to Encourage Others. I asked,

“Who do you know who could use a good dose of encouragement right about now?”

And she responded,

“There isn’t anyone who doesn’t need to be encouraged!”

True that! And here’s the thing: it doesn’t take much to become a continual encourager.

I like how J.R. Miller says it,

“[Jesus’] inquiry concerning every person was, ‘Can I do anything for you? Can I share your burden? Can I relieve you of your sufferings?'”

Now we have the privilege of being Jesus’ ambassadors in our neighborhoods, of housing the Spirit of Christ within us and allowing Him to love through us. That said, here are four simple (but meaningful!) ways to encourage others:

1. When you think a kind thought about someone in your head, put words to it.

Say it out loud. To them! (And others, too, if you want.)

My Story: Last night as an older woman was leaving our small group, I told her, “You look vibrant. I didn’t know you when you were younger, but I think you must be one of those women who gets more beautiful with age.”

“You just gave me such a gift,” she said as she kissed my cheek. “Today was really hard.”

Your Challenge: Go ahead. You can do it! Say something nice to someone else. Who knows—they may have had a hard day too.

2. When you hear someone say something nice about someone who’s not in the room, pass the encouragement on.

My Story: Last week a girl told me that one of her relatives hates her. But after spending time with this relative, I specifically heard her say she loved this girl.

I was then able to tell the girl that even though her relative might not express their love well, that relative does love her.

Your Challenge: Listen. Do you hear anyone saying something nice about someone else? Instead of feeling envious, why not share this “good gossip” with that person?

3. Show genuine interest in others.

Yes, even people you don’t know. Who says you have to stare at your phone and pretend they’re not standing right next to you?

My Story: The other day as I was walking out of a retirement home, I stopped to talk to an older woman who was out pruning bushes. She proceeded to show me her different bushes, and we guessed at their names. “A porcupine bush, maybe? That’s what it looks like to me!”

I don’t know if my conversation with her brightened her day or not. It doesn’t really matter that I know. She has great worth as an image bearer of God, and I had the privilege of “seeing” and interacting with her briefly.

Your Challenge: The next time you’re passing a stranger, look them in the eye, and say “hi”! Ask them a question about what they’re doing. Show a little interest. C’mon, you can do it.

4. Say thanks.

Make it a habit to thank the lady filling the paper towels in the bathroom. Thank your server, manager, and/or cook as you’re leaving a restaurant. Don’t take everything for granted. If it’s nice, it’s because someone made it nice it for you.

My Story: A couple weeks ago, without even thinking about it, I glanced up from my table in the grocery store deli and said, “Thank you for cleaning, Jim.” (He was walking by my table pushing one of those big, yellow cleaning carts.)

The next thing I knew, he was standing over me, grinning his toothless smile, and telling me that in his fifteen years cleaning at this store, no one had ever thanked him before.

Wow.

Your Challenge: Say thank you to someone for something you’ve never even thought to be thankful for.

What did I miss? Surely those aren’t the only ways to encourage others. Let me hear your stories and ideas. Then check back next week for how to write an encouraging letter.

How to Encourage Others Without Even Trying was originally posted on LiesYoungWomenBelieve.com. 

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3 Epic Reasons to Encourage Others

3 Epic Reasons to Encourage Others

“Correction does much, but encouragement does more.” ~Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe

Today I want to encourage you to encourage others. Why? Here are three epic reasons for starters.

Because . . .

1. You’re made in the image of the God of encouragement.

He intended for you to reflect Him to the world around you:

“May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus” (Rom. 15:5).

What’s holding you back from imitating and “imaging” your Father, the God of encouragement?

2. Your encouragement is someone’s lifeline today.

Everyone needs encouragement—even leaders! The apostle Paul—the same guy who wrote at least thirteen books of the New Testament—wrote of a time he was desperately in need of encouragement:

“When we came into Macedonia, our bodies had no rest, but we were afflicted at every turn—fighting without and fear within. But God, who comforts the downcast, comforted us by the coming of Titus, and not only by his coming but also by the comfort with which he was comforted by you, as he told us of your longing, your mourning, your zeal for me, so that I rejoiced still more” (2 Cor. 7:5–7).

Who do you know who could use a good dose of encouragement right about now?

3. You have real perspective and hope to offer.

It’s too easy in this dark world to start living like Jesus is just a fanciful idea rather than our soon-to-appear King! The end is in sight. The best is yet to come. That ought to change the way we think and live right now. That’s why, for ten whole verses, Paul reminds believers that Jesus is coming back soon. He concludes,

“Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing” (1 Thess. 5:11).

How could the truth that Jesus is returning soon encourage your friend in what they’re facing right now?

I’d love to hear your answers to these three questions. Then, check back next week for ideas of specific ways to encourage others. Because it matters. Epically so.

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When Jesus Is a Joke at Your Christian School

When Jesus Is a Joke at Your Christian School

One of the saddest comments I ever read on this blog went like this:

I go to a Christian school, but we’re at the stage where Jesus is irrelevant and a joke.

After spending a week at a Christian school, I saw firsthand the kind of peer pressure (or is it persecution?) that takes place from other students at Christian schools.

I don’t share this with you to discourage you; I just don’t want you to be shocked or unprepared when you walk into your Christian school . . .  or even your local church.

Because this is a fact: Lots of people who claim to be Christians aren’t. Jesus is clear about this in Matthew 7:21–23,

“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’”

So what can you do about this?

1. Make sure that you know that you are a genuine follower of Jesus.

If you’re not positive, begin by reading “Are You Good Enough to Go to Hell?” Then pick up your Bible and read the book of 1 John (you can do it; it’s just five chapters!). As you read, ask God to help you know whether you really belong to Him.

2. Don’t expect everyone in your class to be a Christian just because they’re at a “Christian” school.

In fact, I think it’s wiser to assume that “Christians” don’t know Christ—until the “fruit” of their life proves otherwise. (For more on that, check out “Treasure Trove or Garbage Dump?”)

3. Point your friends to Christ. Often.

Not to rules or Bible facts, but to Christ, and how His death, burial, and resurrection changes everything about their lives. (For more on this, read “Three Truths That Forever Changed My Life.”)

4. Pray that if you or any of your friends are deceived and think they’re a Christian when they’re not, that God would reveal the truth to them.

Have you experienced anything like this at your Christian school or church? I’d love to hear about it. If so, what will you do to know Christ yourself and then make Him known at your Christian school?

Because like it or not, you are no longer just a student at a Christian school; you are now a missionary. Shine, Christian!

When Jesus Is a Joke at Your Christian School was originally posted on LiesYoungWomenBelieve.com. 

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Authority Is Not a Bad Word

Authority Is Not a Bad Word

Let me guess. You can’t wait ’til your parents bug off and get out of your business. I felt the same way when I was your age.

But I didn’t realize then that this authority thing never ends:

  • You go to college, and you’re under your professors’ authority.
  • You get a job, and your boss tells you what to do.
  • You marry, and your husband leads you (Eph. 5:23–24).
  • There are traffic laws to obey and consequences if you don’t.

Since that fateful day centuries ago when Adam and Eve decided God couldn’t tell them what to do, we’ve all been bucking authority.

Authority is as much a part of life as sunlight or toasted wholegrain bread. That’s because God has all authority (the right to control and command), and He’s the One who established human authorities:

There is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment (Rom. 13:1–2).

Anyone else less than happy about this whole authority idea? Of course you are. Since that fateful day centuries ago when Adam and Eve decided God couldn’t tell them what to do, we’ve all been bucking authority. Including me.

Months ago I was invited to speak at a Christian school’s Purity Week in Sao Paulo, Brazil. I forwarded the invitation to my work supervisors and waited and waited and waited. When I finally received their answer, I wasn’t pleased.

They were thrilled for me to go, but they didn’t want me to travel by myself. This wasn’t easy to hear for a “big girl” like me who can take care of herself just fine, thank you very much.

I appealed, explaining that my hosts would pick me up at the airport, but my employers stuck to their guns.

It looked like I might not be able to go to Brazil. My hosts said they could only pay for an additional ticket if I could find another speaker.

I tried. No one could come.

Until one day I thought of a perfect fit. After several days of prayer, this speaker agreed to travel with me.

With God at the helm, authority is just another layer of His providence and protection.

And then, finally, it all made beautiful sense. God had worked through my authorities in order to send not only me, but another Spirit-filled speaker to Brazil. As a result, His kingdom work was at least doubled—maybe more.

And in the process, I was reminded of an important lesson: Authority is not something to be bucked; authority is not a bad word. With God at the helm, authority is just another layer of His providence and protection. In fact, He works out all His purposes through authorities.

How about you? Are you bucking authority, or do you trust God enough to submit to the authorities He has placed over you at this time in your life? How can you actively choose to submit to your authorities today?

Authority Is Not a Bad Word was originally posted on LiesYoungWomenBelieve.com.

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Cinderella: “Have Courage, and Be Kind”

Cinderella: “Have Courage, and Be Kind”

I saw Disney’s new Cinderella movie this past weekend. (Did you?) I loved it! Not only was it a much-needed break from my never-ending work; it also gave me a picture of the unparalleled beauty of courage and kindness in the face of humiliation, suffering, and shame.

If God is your Father, and you are His adopted daughter, then you are a princess.

It was a surprising picture, and a jarring one, as the previews before the movie—and everything our world seems to celebrate—is not letting anyone so much as step on our toes.

But Ella (the main character in Cinderella) shows us a shockingly different way of life. A beautiful way of life.

For some reason, Ella’s mom waited until her deathbed to share with Ella “a great secret that will see you through all the trials life has to offer.” Ella promised. She would:

“Have courage and be kind.”

The movie doesn’t explain how Ella is able to perform this feat in the face of such mistreatment, but she does. After her dear mother dies, Ella is courageous and kind when her stepmother and stepsisters:

  • Relegate her to the attic to sleep
  • Banish her from the table at mealtimes
  • Change her name from Ella to Cinderella because she’s dirty from the cinder in the fireplace
  • Treat her like a servant instead of the sister and daughter that she is
  • Tear her dress and forbid her from attending the ball

But thanks to the fairy godmother, Cinderella is able to attend the ball after all, and the Prince makes a beeline for her.

Sure, Cinderella looks stunning. But it’s not her ball gown or glass slippers that first catch the Prince’s eye. Weeks before, she turns his head when he happens upon her on a hunting trip in the forest—when her hair is knotted and her clothes plain. It’s her inner beauty that captures his attention—her courage and her kindness.

Girls, this beauty isn’t just the stuff of fairy tales. It’s what you and I are to pursue as daughters of the King:

“Your adornment must not be merely external—braiding the hair, and wearing gold jewelry, or putting on dresses [or shimmering, blue ball gowns!] but let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the imperishable quality of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is precious in the sight of God” (1 Peter 3:3-4).

According to God’s standards for beauty . . .

Kindness isn’t weakness; it’s strength.

Submission isn’t pitiful; it’s beautiful and courageous.

First Peter has a lot to say on the subject. Here’s just a taste:

“To sum up, all of you be harmonious, sympathetic, brotherly, kindhearted, and humble in spirit; not returning evil for evil or insult for insult, but giving a blessing instead; for you were called for the very purpose that you might inherit a blessing. . . .

“Who is there to harm you if you prove zealous for what is good? But even if you should suffer for the sake of righteousness, you are blessed. And do not fear their intimidation, and do not be troubled, but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence . . .

“It is better, if God should will it so, that you suffer for doing what is right rather than for doing what is wrong. For Christ also died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, so that He might bring us to God” (1 Peter 3:8–18).

But how can we have courage when others mistreat us?

Why should we be kind to those who are cruel?

Cinderella acted this way because she was a princess—not a princess by blood, but a true princess in heart.

And if God is your Father, and you are His adopted daughter, then you are a princess too. Not the kind with a ball gown and a tiara, but a true princess. A princess because God brought you into His family at the exorbitant cost of His Son’s life-blood. This honored position is not an excuse to act selfish but to be courageous and kind.

So when you encounter those bullies at school or at home or at work, remember this: You may not have a fairy godmother to rescue you, but you have the living God on your side. This God is pleased—not when you suffer for doing wrong—but for doing right. This same God suffered for you so you might become royalty:

“You have been called for this purpose [to patiently endure suffering for doing what is right], since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps,

“who committed no sin, nor was any deceit found in his mouth; and while being reviled, He did not revile in return; while suffering, He uttered no threats, but kept entrusting Himself to Him who judges righteously; and He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed” (1 Peter 2:21–24).

Are you acting like the princess you are? If you’re not sure you’ve ever surrendered your life to the King of kings, you can read more about that here.

Bow to the King, sweet girl.

Have courage, and be kind.

Cinderella: “Have Courage, and Be Kind” was originally posted on LiesYoungWomenBelieve.com.

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Does Erotica Help . . . Or Hurt?

Does Erotica Help . . . Or Hurt?

Dear Single,

So you don’t have the love (and sex!) you want. Does that mean that erotica is a good outlet for your sexual frustration?

 

Before I answer that, let me tell you how I define erotica. Erotica is art, literature, or movies intended to arouse sexual desire. It doesn’t have to be a harlequin romance novel or an X-rated movie to count. I can hear you protesting, But when I read a book or watch a movie, I’m not actually having sex myself. So isn’t that the lesser of two evils?

This Valentine’s Day, the world offers you a solution: You don’t have to have sex yourself; you can watch someone else have sex, or you can read all the steamy details through erotica like Fifty Shades of Grey. While that might initially sound better than having sex yourself, don’t believe for a minute that erotica has any place in a genuinely born-again believer’s life.

 

Is Jesus a Killjoy?

Jesus clearly taught us that any kind of lust is sin:

“Everyone who looks at a woman [or man] with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her [or him] in his heart” (Matt. 5:28).

Was Jesus just being a killjoy? Quite the opposite! Did you know that great sex was God’s idea?! (Gen. 1:18–25). If that blows your mind, that’s because,

“Sex has been dragged through the mud so thoroughly that most people can’t even comprehend that it is intended to be something holy.” —Dr. Juli Slattery

By the way, “holy” does not equal “boring!” God designed loving, passionate sex to be enjoyed in the safe context of a covenant commitment between one man and one woman. (I can’t wait!)

But if you—like me—aren’t yet married, than you do know what it’s like to wait! And wait. And wait. And wait.

 

Why Erotica Is Not the Solution

Here’s why Dannah Gresh shares that erotica is not the solution for your sexual desires:

While erotica might originally heighten sexual feelings, over the long haul it erodes something much more important—intimacy. Whether you are married or single, you are longing for more than sex. Your body, your mind, and your spirit were created to crave intimacy. The Old Testament [word] for sex [is] yada—to know, to be known, to be deeply respected. Transcending the physical act, God’s language speaks of the deep emotional knowing you ultimately long to experience. The physical aspect of sex is just one part of the equation, but our culture tends to hyperfocus on it with no attention to the ultimately more fulfilling aspect of yada—emotional intimacy. Sexual activity by itself is an empty substitute for true intimacy, and will never be enough. Erotica places undue emphasis on the physical and disables your ability to connect emotionally.

The Tragic Ending Erotica Doesn’t Tell

If you’re still skeptical, take it from a girl who’s been there. Dannah and Juli share this girl’s story in Pulling Back the Shades: Erotica, Intimacy, and the Longings of a Woman’s Heart,

I am single and erotica has ruined my life. I have been addicted for ten years, and I am only twenty-five. No one knows that I have lived an isolated life because I have found more solace in fantasies aroused in my mind by erotica than in real relationships. Erotica seems harmless because it’s just words on a page but it brands your mind, creates false expectations for future relationships. I can’t even maintain real relationships because I feel like a shallow pretender hiding one of the biggest parts of my life. Erotica perpetuated my “need” for meeting people online because I didn’t know how to develop or maintain relationships with people outside of the screen. Eventually, I decided to take my online relationships into reality. Many of the stories I read portrayed rape or power-struggle situations as exciting. A no didn’t always mean no because, in the end, the girl always seemed to end up just fine. So when I met one of my first guys offline, I was thrust ever too quickly into a scenario I had read about but, unlike the stories, I didn’t end up fine. My no didn’t mean no, and I was sexually abused by a man who did the same things to me that I had read about in those erotic stories. But in my story, there wasn’t a happy ending. Ever since then, I have carried the weight of shame and guilt from putting myself into that situation six years ago. Erotica makes it seem normal for us to be used and abused, but it’s not normal.

Dear single, erotica is not the answer to your longings for intimacy. Christ is. He’s also provided community so you can experience emotional intimacy right now. And if and when He provides you with a godly spouse, the physical intimacy of sex will just be the icing on the cake of the friendship and emotional intimacy you already share together. (And if you’re married, erotica isn’t for you either, for all the reasons mentioned above. It will erode your intimacy with your husband, rather than enhancing it.)

I’d love to hear from you. Here are some ways you can join the conversation:

  • Do you agree that erotica doesn’t belong in a born-again believer’s life? Why or why not?
  • How do you see the difference between sex and intimacy?
  • Got any great ideas for how single girls can cope with unmet sexual desire? Please share them!
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When a Fantasy Romance Seems So Much Better Than a Real One

When a Fantasy Romance Seems So Much Better Than a Real One

I’ve been dating an amazing man for several months now (surprise!), and until recently, I’ve not enjoyed it.

Let me fill you in on some background info before I tell you more:

  • Before my boyfriend came into my life, I’d pretty much learned (by God’s grace!) how to live the single life with contentment.
  • My boyfriend built a solid friendship with me for over four months before we began dating.
  • As soon as we started dating, though, I didn’t value our friendship. I expected non-stop romance . . . and NOW!

Romance Me Now, Please!

For most of my life I’d observed dating relationships in romance novels and watched them unfold on the screen. As a result, I expected to be fawned over and hotly pursued from my boyfriend’s first admission of liking me. Here’s a peek into one of my journal entries,

I thought dating would be all excitement and fireworks and distraction and butterflies in my stomach 24/7. (Thankfully it’s not, because then I’d really get nothing done!)

Sometimes it is exciting, but most of the time it’s simply comfortable and nice. It feels like real, everyday life instead of the stuff fairy tales are made of.

Suddenly I had a real, flesh-and-blood relationship . . . and I found myself mourning the loss of my long-anticipated fairy tale fantasy.

Who Says Fairy Tales Are Better?

One night, my boyfriend and I were having a playful conversation that opened to my eyes to the fact that fairy tale fantasies aren’t necessarily better than real life. It went something like this:

Me: And then, after getting married on the beach, I’ll ride my dolphin off into the sunset and live happily ever.

My boyfriend: That would put you in shark-infested waters in the middle of the night. (He’s so smart like that!)

Hmmm, I thought, maybe—just maybe—fairy tales aren’t so wonderful, after all!

Meet Prince Charming

A couple months ago, my boyfriend and I sought counsel from a wise elder in his church. After hearing the ins and outs of our relationship, this man spoke words I will never forget,

What I see when I look at you two is two young people who love Christ, understand each other’s shortcomings, have been honest about them, and are still willing to love the other.

That’s more to build on than, “When I look in his eyes, I see stars, and there’s this feeling in my tummy.” That may happen too. But long term, you want a more realistic picture of what you really need. Prince Charming is the grace of God ministering to your area of brokenness.

Oh, how grateful I am for my Prince Charming! How relieved I am that I chose to stick with this real-life relationship rather than rejecting it for some unrealistic, fairy-tale fantasy in my head.

And who knew . . . the romance/desire has developed naturally over time, rather than hitting like a ton of bricks from day one like I expected.

How about you? Have you thought about what expectations you might have for a future dating relationship? Where are these expectations coming from: God’s Word or the culture?

Check back in two weeks to see an exercise I worked through that helped me sort through my expectations for my boyfriend. You won’t want to miss it!

When a Fantasy Romance Seems So Much Better Than a Real One” was originally posted on LiesYoungWomenBelieve.com.

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Two Letters to My Landlord

Two Letters to My Landlord

I moved into a little apartment this past year, and ever since I’ve been praying that my landlord would come to know Jesus.

Are you sharing Jesus Christ with others, or are you settling for something less?

I’ve committed to leaving the place better than when I came and to being a thoughtful tenant. After all, everything I do reflects on Christ, as my landlord knows I’m a Christian.

Still, living well is not ultimately enough to share Christ with someone. People have to hear the gospel before they can understand it (Rom. 10:13–14).

My First Letter

So, one month when I sat down to write my landlord a note to accompany my rent check, I tried slipping God into my talk of cable cords, nail holes, and trashcans. (By way of background, my landlord had slipped a short note in my mailbox apologizing for not getting some work done for me, as her dad was sick.)

My note went like this:

No worries at all. Your care for your dad is infinitely more important than cable cords and nail holes!

In fact, it’s an example to me of how I desire to live in the future. And it’s beautiful to God, who commands us to honor our parents and promises to bless us when we do (Exodus 20:12).

Praying for you both. Let me know if I can do anything to help on my end (sorry, you beat me to the trash last night!).

Loving my apartment!

Gratefully,

Paula

Thankfully, my mom always taught me to sit on a message before sending it. As I thought about the note I’d written, I started to question . . .

  • Is anything that’s done apart from faith in Christ really beautiful to God? (Heb. 11:6).
  • Would this note give my landlord false confidence that she had an “in” with God apart from Christ?
  • Would this note ultimately be helpful to her if it didn’t point her to Christ?

Take Two

So I took another stab at it:

Thanks so much for patching those holes and removing the cable cords for me. And no worries about not getting to it until now. Your care for your dad is infinitely more important than cable cords and nail holes!

In fact, it’s an example to me of how I desire to live in the future, and it reminds me of Jesus. John 19 records that He made sure His friend would take care of His mom after He left earth—and He saw to this while hanging on a cross as the substitute for the sins of all who would put their trust in Him. How amazing to be thinking of others while in such agony!

All that to say, I’m grateful for you, and I’m loving my apartment.

I still need to get you the checklist—hopefully by early next week. Sorry for the delay (and for not beating you to the trash this week!)

Gratefully,

Paula

Why do I share this with you? Not because it was the perfect note. I realize it was . . . zealous. Possibly too much so. But:

  • Did it point her to the beauty of Christ?
  • And is time short?
  • And could I love her in any better way than sharing Christ with her?

I’ve been camping out in Colossians lately, which is quite possibly the most Christ-centered letter in the Bible. Paul wrote this letter not to his unbelieving landlord, but to the believing church at Colosse. He wrote it to urge them not to add to Christ. Christ is enough; Christ is everything:

“See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ” (Col. 2:8).

Let’s make sure we’re not inadvertently doing the same thing by failing to point others to Christ. Let’s not forget the main point. Rather, the main Person. All of Scripture points to Jesus! (Luke 24:27).

Are you sharing Jesus Christ with others, or are you settling for something less?

Two Letters to My Landlord was originally posted on TrueWoman.com.

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When Another’s Words Sting

When Another’s Words Sting

Ouch, that stung.

Over the years, people’s words have wounded my soul more times than I care to count. That’s largely my fault, as I tend to be overly-sensitive (and overly-proud!).

As I wiped my tears away after one such painful exchange, I picked up Nancy Leigh DeMoss’ four-week devotional, The Power of Words, and found my perspective changing as I read this:


Set a guard, O Lord, over my mouth; keep watch over the door of my lips (Ps. 141:3).

Nancy pointed out,


Notice where the guard is posted. Not at the ear—to protect us from being hurt by words we might hear, or at the heart—to shield us from the wounds that are sometimes caused by what others do.

Rather, the Psalmist asked God to post a sentinel at his own mouth knowing that the greatest danger he faced was not what others might do to him, but rather, what he might say that would harm others. (p. 32)

Really? Suddenly I began to wonder, “How’s my own speech?

  1. Do I:
    • Subtly put people down when talking about them to others, or
    • Build them up when talking about them to others?
  2. Am I:
    • Quick to hurry people along so I can get back to my schedule and tasks?
    • Fully engaged with people when they stop by to talk?
  3. Do I:
    • Assume the best about people’s motives?
    • Assume the worst about people’s motives?
  4. Do I regularly:
    • Speak words that encourage those I live and work with?
    • Speak words that discourage those I live and work with?

If you feel like a giant failure in this area, know this: Love, kindness, and self-control are all natural fruit of the Spirit. You and I don’t have to labor to produce kindness on our own—it’s a natural outflow of the Holy Spirit in our lives when we crucify the flesh and allow Christ to live through us.

By His power, we can actively put Philippians 4:8 into practice by thinking thoughts that are “true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, commendable, excellent, and praiseworthy.” The result will be words that give grace, strength, and encouragement to others (see Eph. 4:29 and 1 Peter 3:8–10).

Nancy recommends trying these phrases out on the people closest to us:

  • I love you.
  • I’m praying for you.
  • I’m so proud of you.
  • I’m sorry I treated you that way.
  • Would you please forgive me?
  • I appreciate you.
  • You’re such a blessing!

Who can you encourage with a kind word today?

For extra encouragement in this area, listen to “Conversation Peace” with Mary Kassian on Revive Our Hearts. Along with the program, there’s a new 30-Day Power of Words email challenge you can take!

When Another’s Words Sting” was originally posted on TrueWoman.com.

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Will You Get a Divorce Someday?

Will You Get a Divorce Someday?

You probably know someone who’s divorced. Maybe an aunt or uncle, one of the leaders in your church, or your own parents. If so, I’m so very, very sorry for the pain it’s caused—and maybe still is causing—you.

With divorce so common, I wonder, What’s to keep you from heading down that same road someday?

My desire in writing this post is to save your marriage before you even meet your future husband.

Before we go any further, do me a favor, and don’t rub what you’re about to read in any divorced person’s face. That’s not the point! My desire in writing this post is to save your marriage before you even meet your future husband by introducing you to God’s thoughts on marriage and divorce.

Oh, I know you’re not married yet. But someday, you probably will be. And there may be days—possibly even long months that turn into even longer years—when you shake your head and mutter to yourself, This is no marriage. I didn’t sign up for this.

So I wonder, If the going gets tough for you, will you choose to divorce?

I’m afraid you will—unless you get ahold of the mind-blowing truths found in Mark 10:2–12. This passage finds the Pharisees (think “the squeaky-clean, religious, we’re-something-special leaders of Jesus’ day”) trying to trick Jesus with a question:

“Jesus, is it allowed—is it kosher—for a man to divorce his wife?”

“You tell me,” Jesus answered. “What did Moses command you?” (These guys knew the law of Moses like junior highers know their A-B-Cs!) Immediately they rattled off, “Yup, Moses allowed a man to divorce his wife and send her away.”

Doesn’t sound much different than today, huh? A lot of people in the Church will encourage you to get a divorce when the going gets tough.

But not Jesus.

He responds,

“Moses (not God!) wrote this commandment because your hearts were hard.” In other words, you wanted a divorce so bad, he let you have it.

But . . .

“But from the very beginning of time,” Jesus dug in, “God made humans in two varieties: male and female. Man and woman. And He designed them to leave their parents and hold fast to each other, so that the two would become one.”

Then, just in case they missed this mind-blowing math, Jesus repeated Himself,

“Married people are no longer two people but one person.”

Whoa!

“So,” Jesus concludes, “What God has joined together, let not man separate.”

You would never think of cutting yourself in half. God has joined you together. Don’t let others—or yourself—separate what God has fused together.

Did you catch that?! Marriage has always been God’s marvelous plan for one man plus one woman. And when they marry, it’s ultimately God who’s turned two into one.

So, sweet girl, when your marvelous, God-designed marriage starts to seem mighty un-marvelous due to your sin or your hubby’s sin, remember these marriage-preserving truths. You are no longer two but one.

You would never think of cutting yourself in half. God has joined you together. Don’t let others—or yourself—separate what God has fused together.

Okay, your turn to talk back to me. Does divorce seem acceptable to you? Would you consider it if your own marriage got tough? How does Jesus’ teaching crack the way you naturally think about divorce?

Will You Get a Divorce Someday?” was originally posted on LiesYoungWomenBelieve.com.

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