Loving Being in the Word

sunbeam

Psalm 119:105 (NIV) “Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light for my path.”

Let’s admit it – life is tough and full of uncertainties. It’s a natural tendency that we cling to something (or someone) when we face challenging situations or at crossroads.

Personally, reading the Bible has been a life-transforming experience for me.  From it, I gathered gems of wisdom from the writings of the different authors such as King Solomon the author of the book of Ecclesiastes. Lessons on human behavior, culture revolution and leadership from 1 and 2 Kings to the book of Revelation. From matters regarding finances, to relationships, it all can be found in the Bible.

Does that mean that the Bible is the magical quick fix answer to all our problems? The answer is no. In Psalm 119:105, imagine walking on a path in total darkness holding only a lamp. The light emitted from the lamp enables us to see just a few steps ahead, it doesn’t reveal the point of destination. One thing however is to ensure that the light is always near you to give you clarity on the surrounding nearest to you so that you may walk with confidence avoid potential danger. The principles and wisdom found in the Bible grant us ability to comprehend life, have patience in difficult situations and the grit to persevere.

If you are a Christian reading this and wonder how you can start reading the Bible, I’d encourage you to do the following:

  • Start by determining the specific part of the day that you wish to set apart (the time) to do your reading. For example, it could be every morning after breakfast while finishing a cup of coffee (which is my routine) or for some people who prefer reading the Bible before bedtime. The key is discipline and consistency.

 

  • If you are having difficulty to kick start your daily habit of reading the Bible, allow yourself time to get into the routine. You may want to start with the book of Proverbs from the Old Testament, reading it a chapter a day which takes about 10 to 15 minutes. Alternatively, if you want to start with a book from the New Testament; the book of St. John is a great book to read, also begin with a chapter a day.

 

  • Some of you may have started a routine but find some books such as Leviticus, Deuteronomy and Numbers difficult to read – why not try an audio Bible? Not only that you could download the app for free, with the audio Bible you could listen to the scriptures being read to you whenever and wherever – be it while you are getting ready for work, commuting or winding down for the day.

From biology stand point, a plant can’t grow without water and soil or an individual needs proper nourishment to function efficiently.  The Word of God is the nourishment to our understanding of who God is. There is no short cut to that.

Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.” Matthew 24:35 (NIV)

Do you struggle with being in the Bible routinely?

_________________________________________________________________________________

timmie-liew Timmie

Hello, my name is Timmie and I’m from Malaysia. I am a lawyer by profession. I am a charismatic, passionate person and enjoy beautiful things in life such as travelling to different cities to appreciate the culture. I love fashion and appreciate ‘coffee time’ with people to talk about life and build meaningful relationships. I’m passionate about the things of God, the Church and authentic leadership. My deepest desire is to embrace all that God has called me to be and be a blessing to whoever that God has placed in my life past, present and future. Our God is a GREAT God, and the best is yet to come !🙂

Advertisements

September Finish – Managing Conflict

conflict

Conflict is an inevitable part of life. When someone hurts us, anger is a common response. Yet anger is like a wildfire. If not properly handled, it will quickly barrel out of control and cause immense harm.  In James 1:19-20 we are taught an important lesson on anger: “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.” Anger does not produce the righteousness that we are called to.

What are the most common responses to anger? Some of us rehearse in our minds exactly what we want to say to the person who made us angry, and even how we would deliver the message so it gets across how we intend. Other people take the rehearsal a step further and actually deliver the message, and perhaps physical blows. Both of these methods of coping can be harmful. While anger is identified as one of the “7 deadly sins,” it is also not good for your physical health. Anger has even been linked to heart disease and high blood pressure. Clearly, anger can be a very dangerous thing.

So, what is the answer to conflict and to anger? The reality is we can’t go through life without conflict. There are even times when anger can be justified. Even Jesus got angry at the moneychangers in the temple, as they made it a marketplace instead of a sacred place. But it is our response to our emotions that we must be careful about.

  1. It is important to not respond right away–rarely has a response made from anger been healing or productive. Find a constructive way to deal.
  2. Seek people concerned about the same issues. If your anger is caused by injustice, find a path to fight for justice.
  3. When someone hurts you, find a way to take care of yourself so that you don’t spiral into negativity and cause further harm to yourself. This could be going for a run, deep breathing, taking a boxing class, or talking to a counselor.
  4. Tell the Lord how you are feeling. He can take it. Ask Him how you are to respond, both internally and to the person who made you angry in the first place. With any conflict, the Holy Spirit can help us find a way where there seems to be no way.

Conflict is something I dread. Yet I’ve learned that conflict can be an opportunity. Instead of wallowing in anger and falling further from righteousness, our response to conflict can be a way to grow in character.

By seeking the guidance of the Holy Spirit in times of conflict, we can also grow closer to the heart God has for us and the person who hurt us. Instead of letting anger dictate our responses, let’s work on Spirit-filled healthy responses and watch how we grow in virtue.

________________________________________________________________________________________

lianna-headshot Lianna

Hello! My name is Lianna. I am 28 years old and live in Cleveland, Ohio.  I am a Master’s student studying to become a counselor.  My favorite things are traveling, learning other languages, singing, and journeying with others. I blog and hope to inspire others at sunflowersojourn.wordpress.com.

 

The Absurd Stages of Anger

barbie

So ladies. It’s time we had a talk. Just a little, tiny talk about our anger. Or maybe it’s just a talk about my anger. Who knows. Either way, follow along.

You know those times when you’re super mad at your man-friend? When you’re absolutely boiling hot over the way they’ve hurt you or done you wrong. Whether big or small. Life changing or petty. You will have some sort of reaction.

Well. I know myself. And my self reacts in what I’ll call The Absurd Stages of Anger.

First, comes The Calm. It is capitalized like a cheesy book title because it’s about as dramatic and silly as straight-to-DVD movie. I get all worked up on the inside about something (in)significant – a quiet despite the internal storm. You might even call it the silent treatment. It is the appearance of thinly veiled peace with a hint of sarcasm and shade.

It is Stupid. With a capital S. Because most men you’re getting to know through dating have no idea you’re even mad in the first place. Which serves to make us madder. And then leads to the next stage.

The Verbose Volcano. Basically this means that after I’ve stewed over the (in)significant event for a considerable time, I spew all the words and anger and feelings and thoughts that I’ve had about them dating back to 1989. A time before I even knew the man in question.

I tell them how I hated that one time they didn’t open the door for me on December 12, 2016. And of course the time they cut off all of Holiday Barbie’s hair when we were in the 2nd grade. That’s a collector’s item for goodness sake!

Wait. That wasn’t even him.

It doesn’t matter. In The Absurd Stages of Anger, he is still at fault for all bad things that come to mind.

And this, ladies, is where the stages culminate. In confusion. With no solution. You’re still mad. He still hasn’t figured out why. And he’s also possibly questioning your sanity.

You’ve all seen The Absurd Stages of Anger. You may have been victims of it. You’ve all done it. And if you claim you haven’t done it, you’re probably lying. Because we all know it’s easier to harbor conflict within ourselves than it is to deal with it head on, in the moment.

In-the-moment conflict management is hard work and effort that I just don’t want to put forth as an adult. I have enough things to manage in my daily life. I’d rather not add conflict to my list of things to manage at all if you know what I mean.

That would require doing things that most humans don’t like very much. You know. Really hard things like letting go of our pride, admitting our wrongs, walking in gentleness and meekness, and relying on the Holy Spirit to tame our tongues.

And this makes conflict management even harder because we’re so used to relying on ourselves, on how society tells us to manage conflict.

We’ve been told our egos are what have protected us, our faults are the equivalent of weakness, strength means death to meekness, and winning the argument is all that matters.

But doesn’t God tell us that He is our protector and our shield? That His strength is made perfect in our weakness? That the fruits of the spirit are gentleness and self control? That He is in literal, spiritual, and physical opposition to the proud? That He will fight our battles for us and we only need to be still?

And what a relief that is. What freedom there is in knowing that a terrible quarreler like me doesn’t have to quarrel at all. That if He’s on my side, I can face conflict head on or even choose to let insignificant things go in love.

Because some things just don’t matter as much when your ego has left the building. What’s left to bruise or offend? And the things that do matter can be handled with grace and vulnerability to show the other that even if they’re wrong for cutting off all of Holiday Barbie’s hair, you still care about them. And vengeance is the Lord’s.

Just kidding. Don’t actually say that.

Can you recall a time you gave someone you were dating the silent treatment? What was the result?

________________________________________________________________

roz Roz

Hey there!  My name is Roz.  I’m a full time working, single, homeschooling mother to the world’s funniest 5 year old on the planet.  I’m an introvert who is obsessed with bacon.  I like to play music extremely loudly in my car and will keep singing at full voice even when you turn to stare.  I also blog occasionally over at beautyfullyflawed.com where I write words about Jesus, homeschooling, and the beauty of imperfections.  I look forward to sharing my imperfections with you, as well.

Peacemaker

girls

“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.” -Matthew 5:9

It was happening again.

To my right stood Wanda, loudly voicing her displeasure, her nape length ponytail wagging with every word. To my left was Charlotte. Her jelly bean-colored barrettes were clamped over her braids and were as frozen as the frown on her face.

And in the middle was me…again.

The three of us enjoyed being together. Playing jump rope on the playground. Eating Ellio’s frozen pizza in the school cafeteria. Talking excitedly about the newest toys in the Toys “R” Us Sunday circular.

But eventually, there were times when one of us would do something that would completely disrupt the peace.

Maybe we didn’t see Michael Jackson’s latest video. Maybe one of us had spearmint lip balm and the other had cherry. Maybe we liked Pepsi instead of Dr. Pepper.

Whatever the reason, Wanda would complain and usually Charlotte would counter back, resulting in a rip in our friendship blanket.

I would try not to take sides but my residence on the sidelines never lasted long.

During recess, I’d walk along the length of the playground with Wanda, half-listening as she complained about Charlotte. I’d scan the concrete for Charlotte and would finally spot her, playing happily, oblivious to the invisible friction that was rubbing me raw.

But then, they got over it. The rip was mended and all was well again.

Until next time.

We were 9-year-old girls who eventually matured into women and outgrew such behavior. But thinking back made me wonder how often we take the easy exit in an conflict.

Aligning with the loudest voice, joining the strongest alliance, standing with the largest group against the weaker side is the path of least resistance. But peacemaking requires a lot from us: backbone, energy, and love for all involved.

Taking sides keeps the conflict alive. As Christians, we should work at dissolving discord, not feeding it.

Have you ever taken sides in a conflict instead of trying to end it?

______________________________________________________________________________________

Jennifer Jen

Hi, there! My name is Jennifer. I’m 32 and live in the D.C. area. I love Jesus, R & B music, and sugar in all its forms :-). In June 2016, I married my amazing husband, Calvin. I was completely single and waiting throughout my entire twenties. So I know the prayers, fears, and tears that come with prolonged singleness very well. I am excited to share my story and encourage single women who are waiting for God’s best!

August Finish/September Start!

fall

Brr!  I walked outside this morning and there was a chill in the air!  It sure feels like the start of fall!  To me, fall says college football watching with nachos, chicken wings, and dip, long hikes through woods exploding with color, and cool nights under a blanket with a mug of hot tea.  Fall is by far my favorite season.

Rather than fall representing the end of growth, fall is energizing to me.  There is a quickening in the air, a sense that change is coming.

It is also a time for reflection.  The year is coming to a close.  All those great goals from January – what happened to them?  Am I closer to where I wanted to be?

Last month we looked at taming the tongue.  It’s no coincidence that this month we’re looking at managing conflict.  The two are intertwined; if we all had a lot more control over our tongue, we’d have a lot fewer conflicts.

In today’s world of phones, emails, texts, and social media, the opportunity for conflict is ever greater.  What’s more, taming the tongue is no longer valued as a sign of maturity and self-control.  Instead, now people start Facebook posts with “I just have to put this out there…” and post not-so-cryptic memes that are clearly aimed at specific people in their lives.

The Bible tells us that Satan is prowling like a lion, looking for opportunities to devour someone (1 Peter 5:8).  We are daily presented with these opportunities – that’s a fact.  We have to decide now who we’re going to be, how we’re going to respond.  We can follow the world and say what we want, what makes us feel good, show how right we are.  Kaboom, conflict.

Or we can do what Jesus prescribes.  Turn the other cheek, be a peacemaker, forgive even those who have wronged us.

When soldiers came to arrest Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane, Peter responded with the way of the world – conflict.  He drew his sword and cut off a soldier’s ear.  But Jesus responded in the way of grace – he told Peter to put away the sword and he healed the soldier’s ear.

Are we more like Simon Peter?  Or are we more like Jesus?

Do our actions foster conflict?  Or do they foster peace?

As I said last month, the biggest source of conflict in my life is not my personal life, but my work life.  Last week, I had a situation that made me so upset.  I felt it was unfair and completely unjust.  I was so upset about it that it kept me up at night.  I wanted nothing more than to call out the person who I thought was being unjust.

But instead, I prayed for peace.  I prayed for self-control.  I prayed for wisdom.  I checked my motivations and found that what was driving me was really ego, and I knew that wasn’t right.

Rather than calling out the person and likely blowing up the situation into a larger conflict, I chose a different path.  The time for the conflict passed and peace reigned instead.

When Satan comes prowling, choose peace.

The Power of Words

couple talking

What words have changed your life?

The strongest muscle is neither the biceps nor the glute because the strongest, most powerful muscle in our body is in fact the tongue. A strong bicep gives the ability to hurt physically but the tongue has the capacity to wound emotionally.

Out of the five love languages suggested Dr. Gary Chapman in the well-known book  ‘The 5 Love Languages’ , my primary love language is words of affirmation –because of that, I have the propensity to reflect on statements and/or words whether they are from me or spoken to me by others. I find that words have the capacity to do the following:

Words Create

Words have the capacity to create intimacy or they can ruin a relationship. Proverbs 18:19 tells us that “A brother offended is more unyielding than a strong city, and quarreling is like the bars of a castle.”

Words have equal ability to create life (hope) or death (hopelessness) in a situation such as the vitality in a marriage or friendship because “Words kill, words give life; they’re either poison or fruit—you choose”  (Proverbs 18:21 , The Message Bible) and the responsibility is ours.

Words Empower

Words have the power to give authority.  Think about the oaths read out by a priest in an ordination service, or by a judge as he takes office. The institution gives the individual the authority to perform the duty entrusted to him.  Why would Christian couples conduct their wedding in a Church before an ordained minister? It is because not only the authority is given to the minister to officiate marriages, but also the importance of the pronouncement of blessing (from God through the minister) upon the new season that they are about to embark on.

Words Direct (the course of one’s life)

A judge who is empowered to perform his duty could sentence a person to death or life imprisonment by his words. Words uttered by parents have profound impact over their children. Teachers can change students’ careers, and the words “I love you” have caused men and women to move mountains.

Personally, I have not been hurt physically by anyone (so not the type of girl who would get into physical fights or MMA). But I have been wounded by words – regardless of whether they were intentional or unintentional. They caused me to focus only inward rather than looking out beyond the horizon, blinded to the fact that the world has so much more to offer.

As followers of Jesus, we are accountable for our words, for they are powerful.

Proverbs 26:18-19, The Message Bible – People who shrug off deliberate deceptions, saying, “I didn’t mean it, I was only joking,” are worse than careless campers who walk away from smoldering campfires.

 Matthew 15:17-20, English Standard Version – Do you not see that whatever goes into the mouth passes into the stomach and is expelled? But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a person. For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander. These are what defile a person. But to eat with unwashed hands does not defile anyone.”

 Colossians 4:6, The Message Bible – Use your heads as you live and work among outsiders. Don’t miss a trick. Make the most of every opportunity. Be gracious in your speech. The goal is to bring out the best in others in a conversation, not put them down, not cut them out.

The Gift of Encouragement

encourage

Let no evil talk come out of your mouths, but only what is useful for building up, as there is need, so that your words may give grace to those who hear.” Ephesians 4:29

If you’ve experienced encouragement at the just the right time, you know the truth of the verse from above. A word of encouragement is truly a grace, giving strength to carry on. Sometimes a simple phrase is what will give somebody the courage to keep moving on. This spiritual gift, sometimes also called “exhortation,” is one that we have the opportunity to practice daily, and we may take for granted how powerful it can be.

From the time a child is young, they need encouragement. Words of encouragement are like building blocks for a child’s self-esteem. Even as adults, we still need to hear encouragement. Especially in times of discouragement, it is so important to offer affirmation to those in our lives. Even if someone appears to be doing well on the surface, you never know if they are ready to throw in the towel. A word of encouragement is like a spark that can set a fire blazing again, giving someone the force to carry on. In the book of James, chapter 3, the tongue is said to be a member that can set fires. I venture that, if used as intended, the tongue can set off sparks in a positive way and spread to others as well.

Your words have the power to build up others every day. Affirm your spouse. Talk to your children about the things they are doing well. At work, find ways to compliment your colleagues. It can be easy to take for granted those in our daily lives, but also remember that we are placed in each other’s lives for a reason. Don’t forget to be mindful of the opportunities that arise to encourage others.  I venture that encouragement can take other forms. For example, a friend buying you a cup of coffee when you’re having a tough day can be a source of encouragement. Lending your ear to listen to someone who is undergoing a hardship or simply needs to talk can also encourage them. Offering to pray for someone (and following through) can also be a huge dose of encouragement.

Try to be mindful about the opportunities to encourage others each day. Whether you are married and the parent of many, or a single person enmeshed in your career, opportunities abound. Ask the Holy Spirit to show you how you can encourage others. It is often simple words of encouragement that gives someone else the ability to carry on. Exhorting others can also strengthen their faith.  Take the time to build up others. You never know how it will affect them, now and forever.

____________________________________________________________

lianna-headshot Lianna

Hello! My name is Lianna. I am 28 years old and live in Cleveland, Ohio.  I am a Master’s student studying to become a counselor.  My favorite things are traveling, learning other languages, singing, and journeying with others. I blog and hope to inspire others at sunflowersojourn.wordpress.com.