Strength in Scripture

bible3

In the past 3 months, I have undergone too many life transitions to even list here. Certain situations in life felt hopeless.  I was unsure if they would ever change; there seemed to be no change to the patterns.

In the midst of my uncertainties and mind battles, the Lord is planting certain Scriptures on my heart. These Scriptures are giving me strength to press on. When I felt hopeless and as if those aspects of my life wouldn’t change, Psalm 118:17 sprang into my heart: “I shall not die, but live, and declare the works of the LORD.”

I began to recite the verse to myself often, especially when the difficulties reared their head. No matter how difficult life seemed, I will live through it. Even greater, I will live to testify to God’s great works! Someday, I will be able to tell how God’s mighty hand turned my circumstances around.

This is just one example of God’s Word being strength to me. There are other verses that have been given to me during other difficult situations. God’s Word is “alive and active.” (Hebrews 4:12)  The Word is becoming nourishment for my mind and heart in each circumstance of my life.

I am coming to a greater appreciation of Scripture, especially for life’s difficult situations. If we are rooted in Scripture, we can dig deep and find power in God’s Word when trials come.  It is working for our good and can provide whatever we need. But like any superfood, it can’t take effect unless we have taken it into our body!

At all times, we need to make Scripture reading a priority. In the times when life is great and we believe we’re super successful…To God be the glory! Praise and thank Him, and make sure you’re reading His love letters to you. When difficulties inevitably come, you’ll be able to dig deep into those times of reading Scripture. By God’s grace, you will have a store of spiritual “vitamin C” to keep you strong. Your remembrance and continued reading of Scripture will sustain you.

It’s easy to put off reading the Bible, or to only listen to it at church once a week. But it is strength to our lives. It is a big aspect of what roots us in the Lord. We keep our focus on Christ when we are reading the Word, in both good and bad times. When troubles come, we will find great strength in being rooted. The Word teaches us God’s goodness and faithfulness to us. Make learning and loving Scripture a priority. You won’t regret it.

What passage or verse has helped you in a time of difficulty?

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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.

Cookie Cutter Faith

cookie cutter

As a child, I remember marveling at the explanation for the term, “one size fits all.” A sweatshirt that can fit anyone of any size? What sort of enchanted fabric is this and where can I get it?

Of course, when I matured, I realized that the term is terribly specious. It can indeed fit all but it may be very baggy on one person or too tight on another. 100% perfect fits are the aberration, not the norm.

I was reminded of this during a Bible study session recently. During one particular section, my pastor imparted that there is no unanimous method for spiritual growth. Author Gary Thomas says it this way: “[There are] four elements essential to worship: adoration, communication with God, Scripture reading and service….But here’s the key: How we pray, how we worship and how we study God’s Word will differ.”

The more I thought about it, the more it made sense. God did not use cookie cutters to create us.  We were created using a medley of varying gifts, desires, personalities, and idiosyncrasies.  And we were all made to fulfill a different purpose for Him.  So if no one person is exactly the same, why would we relate to God and Him to us in the exact same way?

The diversity of worship and relationships with God is present throughout Scripture. David wrote psalm after psalm filled with praise and exaltation for the Lord. Martha provided care and served the Lord. Elijah routinely and vocally opposed all work against the Lord and His purpose.  And though He loved them both, in John 20, Jesus deals with Mary and Thomas’s contact with Him in different ways.  In verses 16-17, Mary’s motion toward Him was gently denied. According to commentaries, Mary’s joy would have caused her to cling too long. She needed to understand that Jesus was not ascending immediately.  In verses 24-27, Thomas was urged to touch the scars in His flesh. Thomas’s doubt needed to be irrevocably destroyed. He needed to see and feel proof that Jesus is alive. Different people with different relationships with the same God.

When you take time to pray and study the word of God​ ​this week, I encourage​ you​ to also take this spiritual temperament quiz.  Discover in what ways you relate to God and how it can help pave your path to spiritual maturity.

Which spiritual temperament are you? How do you see it influencing your relationship with God and how you worship Him?

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?

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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 !🙂

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.

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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.

 

Managing Conflict Through WhatsApp?

smartphone

Recently I had to visit the U.S. Embassy here in Kuala Lumpur and scheduled an early 7.30AM Wednesday morning interview as part of my U.S. Visa application. As such, I had to arrive very early at about 6.30AM to park my car at the office precinct where the office building is to catch an Uber to the Embassy.

Prior to all these practical arrangements i.e. a day before my interview, I texted someone from the workplace (let’s call her Jane) who has the parking attendant’s contact number in order that I may arrange to pass my car key to a trusted colleague to re-park my car into the office building as the entrance to the car park only opens at 7AM.

So the day came, I still have not received a reply. Fortunately, I met one of the many security guards of the building whom I am familiar with, and knew I could trust that he would pass my car keys to the intended person.

The whole day went by; I still have not received any response from Jane. While I know that Jane is of a senior citizen age, she was probably busy and maybe outstation, I decided to wait for a response. I still wanted the parking attendant’s contact in view of any necessary arrangements in future. Long story short, in the evening I saw that my text was read (thank you WhatsApp), but there was no response. I then politely replied by asking Jane if she was busy as I also saw that she posted some WhatsApp messages in another chat group.

Well, being the lawyer that I am – and a bit of a risk taker, I proceeded to let her know in a nice way that it was not encouraging (my precise word) to have read my text and not give a reply. Behold, Jane’s response was rather disappointing. She did say that it was not easy to have wifi access (fine) but (surprise, surprise!) managed to response with limited wifi access reprimanding me that I lacked respect, furthermore that I only respect people in ‘higher authority’. Whoa!

Taking a step back in this whole scenario, I reminded myself of a few things.

#1 To first address the ‘plank’ in my eyes: although I took the route of addressing the fact that Jane did not reply my text. I reminded myself to not do the same to others to give the benefit of doubt just in case the individual genuinely sought help or information. To have some self-reflection to avoid being bitter and judgmental. Instead prayerfully to allow God through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit or through scriptures to give insights on my own heart (basically to search my heart).

#2 To give grace and envision what kind of ‘older woman’ that I want to be: no matter how old or young we are, it is always an emotionally healthy practice to get rid to the superiority or entitlement attitude. Moreover if we are in the community of Christ – Jane is someone who attends our office Christian Fellowship, thus I thought I could rely on her to assist not only in providing information – if not, to have at least the courtesy to leave a short reply.

#3 To build and not tear down: instead of actually providing the parking attendant’s contact, Jane’s reply was an accusatory sweeping statement, not encouraging at all, which I vehemently reject. The focus was not to assist but to reprimand, which I thought was such a waste of time.

#4 People are weird (and yeah, you may think that I am too): but this does not justify for us to be discourteous, especially to people that we meet on a consistent basis (as a matter of fact to everyone).

Reflecting on this particular scenario got me thinking about how we are to carry ourselves.

  • Do we put others first in our thoughts, words and deeds?
  • Instead of waiving your index finger at others, why not take the approach of leading by example?
  • Instead of demanding respect, why not consider that others want to be respected too – that it goes both ways?

In conclusion, I hold these verses close to my heart. Philippians 2: 3-4 (NIV)Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.

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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 !🙂

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?

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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?

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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!