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Putting Myself in Timeout

There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death. (Romans 8:1-2)

 “Will you hold me, Mommy?” Eli said.

“Sure, come here.”

“I can’t. I’m in timeout.” Eli made a pouty face and looked at his grandfather.

Mommy looked up at her dad. “Can he get down now?”

Grandfather shrugged. “I’m not the one who put him in timeout. He put himself on the chair.”

Eli had misbehaved. Anticipating the typical response to his behavior, he climbed up on the chair, putting himself in timeout. This wasn’t the first time he had done so. He knows when he ignores instructions and continues to do what he’s don’t supposed to do, he eventually receives timeout as his reward. So to save us all from the aggravation of scolding and sitting him on a chair, he does it himself. The funny thing is, he often does so when we (the adults in charge) have no intentions of giving him timeout.

This little routine taught me a lesson about being a child of God. Occasionally, I do things that most likely don’t … perhaps don’t … well, okay, definitely don’t line up to my Father’s standards. Take procrastinating for example. I know He has specific tasks for me to do and guidelines for me to follow everyday. But I get sidetracked. I do things my way. I don’t get the tasks completed.

Then my guilt steps up to confuse the issue, allowing the enemy a foothold. The enemy tells me I’m lazy and unworthy of the task. So I put myself in timeout … procrastinating all the more.

Eventually, I confess to the Father that I’ve been worthless, unfaithful, and deserve to be punished. Do you know how He answers me? He answers by bring to mind the Scripture above–“There is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” He also says, “I have not put you in timeout. Now get up and get busy doing the work I have called you to do.”

How about you? What’s keeping you from doing the work the Father has called you to do?

See you in a twinkling,

Brenda K. Hendricks

 

Words of Life—Words of Death

Be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. (Ephesians 5:18-19)

Speak Life

Speak Life

As some of you know, my family is getting hit pretty hard with health issues currently. And friends want to comfort us with words of … of wisdom and encouragement? I know they mean well. However, they would do better if they’d remember the adage my mother hammered into my head—if you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.

Here’s the thing:

When disaster strikes, whether it comes through sicknesses, finances, or relationships, we all have stories to tell. Either we’ve experienced the crisis first hand, or we know someone who has. And we’re eager to relate to a person in crisis. Or are we simply eager to retell our story.

Before Gene began his radiation treatments, co-workers told him how draining radiation is; how miserable he would feel; how he’d miss work and not be able to mow his own yard. It was depressing to say the least. He came home from work more than once in a gloomy mood and said, “Why can’t anyone say something encouraging?”

When I was diagnosed with melanoma, people said things like:

“I know someone who has that. Every time she goes back, the doctor cuts her. She has scars all over her body.”

“I know someone who was diagnosed with melanoma and died within 4 months.”

“Melanoma? Oh my, people die from that.”

People mean well.

I know that. But we “put our mouths in motion before we put our minds in gear.” We want to make a connection. We want to verify we’ve been there too. We want to qualify ourselves to speak with empathy. I get it. But, can’t we do all that while speaking words of life?

Can’t we say something uplifting like:

“I’m sorry you’re facing this. I’ve gone through that. It’s not an easy road, but look at me. I’m okay now. God strengthened me and carried me through that trial. He’ll do the same for you.”

Do we have to spew out gruesome details?

The details grab and stab our victims … our friends.

The comments Gene and I have endured recently have taught me to think about how to relate to others by relaying my story. Are my words encouraging and life breathing? Or, are they discouraging and destructive? Can I tell my story without gruesome details and leave my friend with hope, comfort, and peace?

If not, I best heed my mother’s words and say nothing at all.

How about you? What story can you tell that breathes life into someone in crisis?

See you in a twinkling,

Brenda K. Hendricks

 

 

It Left a Scar

Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. (Ephesians 4:29 & 32)

Experiences Drives a Deeper Understanding

Experience Drives Deeper Understanding

Sunday was an exciting day for me. I drove our pickup truck, not once, but three times. We’ve had this truck for 3 years, and I only drove it one other time. Before this truck, we had another truck for 16 years, which I only drove once or twice.

So why the truck-driving reluctancy you ask.

It’s not so much the size of the vehicle. I drove Gene’s pickup truck a lot when we first got married. But almost forty years ago, a car barreled off the bypass into our truck at an estimated speed of 55 or 60 miles an hour. It knocked the left front wheel off the axil. Amazingly, no one was hurt, including my 18-month-old daughter. Did I mention we didn’t have the fancy-schmancy car seats for small children they have nowadays? Our guardian angels were working overtime that day for sure

With or without angels guarding me, cars and trucks, approaching me from a left-side street panicked me for years. And obviously, I still struggle with getting behind the wheel of a larger-than-a-sedan vehicle.

It amazes me how incidents like that accident continue to affect our lives decades later. We can’t prevent mishaps, tragedies, or trauma. Nor can we eliminate the scars they leave. However, we are commissioned to do whatever we can to minimize the impact of such events in one another’s lives. Unfortunately, by our words, actions, and attitudes, we sometimes contribute to or are the cause of someone else’s lifelong struggles.

We can’t take back our thoughtless words. We can’t undo our inconsiderate deeds. We cannot erase the past.

Nevertheless, by God’s grace, we can start today to show genuine compassion. Speak edifying words. Touch others with Christlike healing hands.

How about you? How can you minimize someone else’s pain today?

See you in a twinkling,

Brenda K. Hendricks

 

Do You Love Me More?

Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten by God. Don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows. (Luke 12:6-7)

 

Not Sparrows

Not Sparrows

When my daughter Rachel was in college, she became distraught and wear almost to the point of quitting mid-way through her first semester. One day, the phone rang, and I heard a different tone in Rachel’s voice.

“Wait until I tell you what happened, Mom. I went to the ball field alone, sat on the bleachers, and watched streamer clouds float across the sky. ‘Why am I here?’ I grumbled. ‘What makes me think I can do this stuff?’ I searched the heavens for answers, like God was going to write a message in the sky just for me. Then I noticed two sparrows flutter across the clouds. I remembered Luke 12:6-7, ‘Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten by God. Don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.’ Then I asked God, ‘Do You really love me more than those sparrows?’ And guess what happened, Mom! Small black dots speckled the sky, as though God shook His peppershaker over the clouds like Dad peppers his eggs. There were sparrows everywhere. I’m sure I heard God say, ‘Rachel, I love you even more than all of these.’ Isn’t that cool?”

True story … still brings tears to my eyes. Rachel is that special to God. However, she’s not the only one. You and I are too. When we feel powerless, overwhelmed, and alone, perhaps all we need to do is to ask how much God loves us. I believe He wants to show us just like He did Rachel that day—through something as simple as a flock of sparrows.

Have you considered the sparrow? What a plain bird! Unappealing, even the male … feathers painted in shades of brown. Beaks polished in drab, dark brown. No bright blues or yellows like the blue tit I chose for this painting. Admittedly, I chose the blue tit because of its beautiful hues after considering the homely sparrow. I wanted an eye-catching, cheerful subject. Like I said, the sparrow has little to offer. Who marvels at the sight of it or even notices it?

Yet, the Creator noticed and marveled, giving the sparrow a special honor as an example of His care. Not because the sparrow is so plentiful or unattractive, but because that little bird presents the poor, the wretched, the undesirable so well.

If God accepts and honors the sparrow, how much more will He accept you and me? Jesus said we are much more valuable than many sparrows. No matter how we feel about ourselves. No matter how dismayed, overwhelmed, or depressed we are. No matter how much we messed up our lives. God still notices and marvels at us as His creation. He can use us as acceptable sacrifices for His purpose to seek and save the lost, to comfort those that hurt, to feed and clothe the needy.

How about you? How is God using you to bring Him glory and to uplift others?

See you in a twinkling,

Brenda K. Hendricks

 

Fueling Optimism

Then he said to me, “Prophesy to the breath; prophesy, son of man, and say to it, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: Come, breath, from the four winds and breathe into these slain, that they may live.’” (Ezekiel 37:9)

Wayne's Trout 4 webDo you remember the commercial for a carpet cleaner in which the lady kept saying, “It’s okay” in a sickening sweet voice every time someone yelled, “Johnny just spilled … ?” I wanted to slap that lady silly while screaming, “It’s NOT okay. Teach that kid some manners. Sit him on a seat at the table where he belongs.” And then at the end, the lady’s friend, apparently the mother of the klutzy kid, chimes in with her own gotta-brush-my-teeth-to-avoid-cavities sweet tone, “It’s okay!”

That kind of “Pollyanna” attitude cleans the carpet about as well as it helps cope with daily stressors. Tough stains take knuckle-scrappin’, elbow-bendin’, muscle-tautin’ work to remove. And whether daily stressors or huge disasters threaten our tranquility, relief comes through more effort than a cheery “It’s okay.”

Fueling optimism involves a more solid conviction than merely reciting “positive” quotes and Scripture verses.

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How about you? How do you fuel optimism to get through these trying times?

Next Week:

We’ll consider the power of water. Please prepare by studying John 4:7-15

See you in a twinkling,

Brenda K. Hendricks

 

Fine China Breaks Easily–The Past Not So Much

You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. (Ephesians 4:22-24)

 Every family seems to have at least one person who is directed to the sturdiest chair in the house and given a paper plate for his/her meal, while everyone else is eating off of fine China. Some people have a knack for breaking things. They’re the reason plastic was invented, I’m sure of it.

If only the past could be broken as easily as fine China. We’d all line up, eager to hand our past to these I-break-everything-I-get-my-hands-on people. They’d be commended for their special gift and mostly likely well paid.

At least, I’d be glad and grateful to paid someone to break my past for me.

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Next week:

We’ll discuss being alive in Christ. Prepare by studying Romans 8:9-17

See you in a twinkling,
Brenda K. Hendrick

Not My Army; Not My Battle

“Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army. For the battle is not yours, but God’s. You will not have to fight this battle. Take up your positions; stand firm and see the deliverance the Lord will give you …” (2 Chronicles 20:15-17)

Disclaimer: If you feel uncomfortable or singled out while reading this post, know it’s the Holy Spirit’s voice not mine. That’s His job. I’m simply obeying the call to write about my recent experience with spiritual warfare.

Unwanted VoicesThe enemy seems to hit me from behind…as in the past. Throughout my life, I’ve been left out of a lot of activities with people I care about. Every time it happens, questions arise that threaten my self-worth, my usefulness, and even my salvation. I know these matters don’t depend on what anyone thinks of me. The Lords says I’m worthwhile. I’m useful as long as I’m obedient to Him. And Jesus paid the ransom for my salvation. Nothing can change those things.

Yet rejection by people we want desperately to accept us can give the devil a foothold into our souls.

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Next week, we’ll take a look at Jesus’ example of handling spiritual warfare. Prepare by studying Luke 4:1-13.

See you in a twinkling,

Brenda K. Hendricks