Strength in Scripture

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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.

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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.

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.