IS YOUR SOAP BOX TOO BIG?

MBA

“It is my judgment, therefore, that we should not make it difficult for the Gentiles who are turning to God.”    Acts 15:19

Recently, I was reading a blog series called “The Homemaking Pharisee” and a portion jumped off the screen at me. The author had a subject matter she was overtly passionate about, it was purely her opinion… but she had allowed it to become gospel to her. It had become an idol. Because of this, people were unwilling to talk to her or include her in discussions about the topic. Finally someone brought this to her attention. Her response: “I do not want to be that person who no one can talk to about that subject because my soap box is just too big.”.

Some well meaning Christians can trip into being just like the Pharisees! We can get wrapped up in things we are passionate about or where God has called us & try to make everyone else apply that in their lives. A strong Christian can easily chuck those things right off their shoulders. We know what The Word says. But for a new believer, we can create unrealistic expectations. We can make ourselves seem so “holy” that they will fear even speaking to us!  And, when people start fearing talking to us… they can quickly disappear from our lives, our studies and our church.

Lord, I pray that you will reveal to me the areas where I have allowed my pride to get before my witness. Help me to soften my heart and my attitude to those around me. Let me speak your truth, not my own. Amen.

 

*Written for the TC3 Women’s Ministry Devotion Blog

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I STAND CORRECTED…………… (Part 2/2)

MBA

I am going to be honest, I do not take well to criticism.  I am an eager learner, I don’t mind being corrected when I am wrong.  I value the opinions of others.  I am a move forward, not back kind of girl. But, there are times when I can allow criticism to get under my skin.  But, there is a difference between criticism and correction.Recently my husband informed me that I “don’t finish projects”.  For those reading this, who know me personally, you are probably wondering if this man knows me at all!  My husband was not correcting me or guiding me, he was being critical.  I didn’t take kindly to it and I proceeded to remind him that he was the one who initiated our journey into Dave Ramsey living.  If he would like me to finish our household projects, I’d be happy to… the moment he handed me a credit card or expanded my personal budget.  (I was being very sarcastic, I really wouldn’t do that.)   I wanted him to understand I was doing the best with what I was given, and he needed to be patient through our “cash only process”.

As I was reflecting on the confrontation I had with my friend (see last month’s devotion), I asked myself if I was being critical of her.  Or, was my assessment of the situation accurate & correction was the right course.  That is, after all, what correction is.  We are helping someone who has taken a turn get back on course.  In some cases it is an obvious sharp turn, and in others it has been a slow, gradual, drift.  When I struggle with anything like this, I always turn to the Word.  If I can figure out what God has to say about it, perhaps figuring out my next steps won’t be so hard. I also reached out to those I consider wise counsel.

As a result, I came to find that scripture not only tells us that we should correct our sisters in Christ, but we are also told how we should be responding to correction.  In reading this, it not only confirmed for me that my friend was responding incorrectly, but also made me take at look at my own responses to correction (and criticism
too).

Proverbs 19:20     Take good counsel and accept correction— that’s the way to live wisely and well.

How do you respond when someone corrects you?  Do you get defensive?  Do you make excuses?  Do you try and pass the buck & blame someone else?  Or, do you try to justify your behavior in order to make it ok?  When you read last weeks devotion, did you relate to it?  Have you responded in the same way my friend did?  Do you take it personally when a friend tries to encourage you to have a different perspective?  Are you teachable?

This bit of advice was shared with me, just this past week:
“When someone gives you advice that you don’t want to hear, you should not react until you have:
1) prayed about it
2) compared the advice to Scripture
3) asked yourself, is it true?”

Being accountable to each other as friends is a two way street.  We must be willing to not only give correction, but also receive it.  If I speak in truth and love, then I should receive with love and humbleness.  I need to embrace this person, who cared about me enough to call me out on my behavior, and help me realize what I was doing & become better for it.

Proverbs 27:17    As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.

Lord, I pray that you give me a mouth that speaks, when it is time to speak; and ears to listen, when it is time to listen.  Help me to speak in YOUR truths, through MY love for my sisters in Christ.  Let me received YOUR truth, through THEIR love for me.  Protect our friendship from division, so that we may continue to encourage each other to be focused on YOU. Amen.

BLESSINGS OF MENTORSHIP

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Early in my walk, as a Christian, I really didn’t have a mentor.  I did have a few people in my life I could ask questions of… and they didn’t look at me as a fool.  They understood that I was growing.  But, I didn’t have anyone who took me under their wing and helped guide me on my walk.

Now, much later in my walk, I have several mentors in my life.  I recently was meeting with one of them.  We were talking about the book of Revelation and the churches listed in Chapters 2 & 3. We were discussing how these different churches mirrored our current world….. the attitudes not just of countries but even of our churches today.

The church in Ephesus had the head knowledge but not the heart knowledge.  They kept up the beliefs, the traditions, etc…without understanding why.  It was empty.  They were on auto pilot.  Serving Jesus without loving Jesus.

It was then my friend, and mentor, mentioned how important it was that we have mentors in our walk from very early on.  Without a mentor we can allow ourselves to get caught up in the rules, the deeds, the work of our faith without actually having real faith.  We know all the things we should do and shouldn’t do, but yet we don’t really understand the why and more importantly the WHO behind it.

As we continue to grow in our knowledge, without a mentor to guide us, we can end up just like the church of Ephesus.  We will have the head knowledge without the heart knowledge.  And then eventually we become like the pharisees.  We stand firm and strong in our righteous knowledge, without loving the least of these…. the poor in spirit, the broken, the lost.

Mentors help us to see the bigger picture.  They help us to learn from their wisdom and experience that our impact on others has to start from a place of love.  Loving them in spite of their faults, not excusing them.  But understanding that we have to start from a place of love and not condemnation.

When you first love a person, taking the time to get to know them and understand them, you build your credibility with them. They learn to trust you.  Trusting that you really care for them and this isn’t just your attempt to add another success story to your book of people’s lives that you have changed.

In your attempts to share the Gospel, a mentor reminds you that it is not your job to change them.  But to love them.  The Holy Spirit will change them.  Your greatest testimony comes from your example.  We have all know of people who were considered “great” and looked up to, and the moment the truth of their depravity came out… it contradicted all the good they had done.

A mentor tells you to focus more on making yourself better, your walk better, your testimony better than trying to change others.  In fact, dear one, YOU are not as big of a part of their testimony as you think.  In fact, you are quite insignificant to the transformation that Christ does in them.

My mentor told me that she can tell relatively quickly when someone has been mentored or not.  You can see it in their attitude towards others.

If you don’t have a mentor, maybe it is time to find one.  In fact, you may need more than one.

Wondering how to find a mentor?

1) Pray.  Pray that God will reveal the person to you.
2) Let Go.  Let go of all the preconceptions of what a mentor should be.  Do not base it on age, years as a Christian, family size.  I remember once a woman in the church came to me for advice on marriage.  She was much older than I was, and I was caught off guard.  I found out as we talked, that she had only been married a few years.  While I was significantly younger than her, I had 10+ more years of marriage experience than she.
3) Be Open.  Be open to having just one mentor, or more.  God will bring those whom you need, don’t turn away wisdom because you “already have one”.
4) Talk to your Pastor or his wife.  If you need mentorship in a specific area, they may know just the right person for you.
5) Don’t Give Up.  You may try out a mentor relationship & it just isn’t working.  That is ok, you can change mentors. But make sure you are changing them because it’s not the right fit… and not because they are saying things you don’t want to hear.