The Beegees and the Bible

The drama class that I teach is doing a show with a 1970s theme. In keeping with this, I’ve been checking out music from this decade. I ran across this beauty.

I was born in 1979, so I’ve heard the song. It’s one of those earworm songs that you sing for days after hearing it. I even knew that the Beegees sang it.

But, I’d never seen a picture of the Beegees.

I was shocked. At first, I thought someone had made a lip synched video of this song using weird white guys in tight pants with windblown hair singing Stayin’ Alive.

And then I realized…That IS the Beegees!

All these years, my impression of that group was that they were a group of black ladies! I don’t know where that idea came from but it’s been firmly cemented in my brain for my entire life.

I’m questioning everything I know abut my life!

Seriously, though this situation reminds me of myself far too often.

How many times have I thought something was in the Bible, perhaps even telling it to someone else to learn later, embarrassingly, that it’s not.

Stuff like

“Cleanliness is next to godliness.” (Not in the Bible)

“God helps those who help themselves.” (Nope. Not in the Bible either.)

“Hate the sin, love the sinner.” (Ironically, this is usually said when people are being rather unkind toward the people whose sins are being discussed. But nope, not in the Bible either.)

Anyway, there are things that people say all the time that sound good, but they’re not necessarily part of the Bible. As Christians, we need to make sure that all that we believe is grounded in the truth of God’s Word. And the only way to know God’s Word is to get in it.

We won’t know if we’re hearing Biblically based preaching, reading a book that complements the Word and our understanding of it, or know whether or not that statement that our relatives always say is, in fact, true.

The whole foundation of our faith rests upon the Holy Word of God. Don’t take for granted that you already know what’s in it. There’s no substitute for picking up the Bible and reading, studying, and learning about what is in it.

Yes, it is that important.

Even more important than knowing who the Beegees are!

 

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Grumbling, Complaining, Thankfulness, and Joy

I hate snow. I hate winter. I hate illness.

We’ve had plenty of the above over the last few weeks, and I’ve noticed my attitude souring greatly. I grew up in Florida, and I guess I still have the tropics in my blood. In winter, it’s hard for me to keep my attitude cheerful.

This morning I was reading my Bible, and I’ve been reading in Exodus about the nation of Israel in the wilderness. God had done many mighty, wondrous works for them. He rescued them from Egyptian slavery and kept them safe as Pharaoh’s army pursued them to the desert. He did an amazing miracle as he parted the Red Sea for millions of people to cross on dry ground.

A beautiful song of praise is recorded in chapter 15. Two of my favorite verses are Exodus 15:2, “The Lord is my strength and my song, and he has become my salvation. This is my God and I will praise him. My father’s God and I will exalt him.” And in Exodus 15:13, “You have led in your steadfast love the people whom you have redeemed. You have guided them by your strength to your holy abode.”

And yet, in the very next chapter, we see an ugly episode. The people began grumbling and complaining about the food. They forgot that God had taken them that far and would continue to sustain them. They took their frustrations out on their leaders, Moses and Aaron. Moses answered them in Exodus 16:8, “Your grumbling is not against us but against the Lord.”

And this is so true. Any time I begin complaining about my lot in life, I am shaking my finger in the face of the Lord and saying, “This is not good enough for me. I don’t like what you are doing here, Lord. All of your blessings are not enough for me.”

I’ve learned something lately. My grumbling and complaining only hurts myself. It sucks the joy right out of my life. However, when I cultivate a thankful heart, the joy just flows right through me.

Yes, life is hard. It sWinter 2015-2016 010nows. I’m trapped in the house for days at a time with children who also are not always so pleasant. My outside work is made more difficult and time consuming by the weather. However, I have a lovely home that keeps us warm on cold days. We have enough to eat, and other than some colds, coughs, and sore throats, overall, we are a pretty healthy bunch. I can choose to focus on the negative and make myself and my family miserable. Or, I can be thankful, joyful, and cheerful and bring a whole lot of happy to my family. The choice is all mine.

God’s Will and Me

I have a graduating Senior this year. There are some huge decisions that must be made by her in the next few months. We’re already deep into the world of ACT scores, college applications, and scholarship essays. She often feels overwhelmed by the enormity of the decisions that she has to make right now.

I understand.

I remember vividly my own anxiety at this time period in my life. I went to a small Christian school and I remember preachers and teachers talking about “the Will of God” and how important it was for young people to figure out what THE WILL OF GOD was for their life and to do it.

Then, there was this thing called “The Perfect Will of God” and “The Permissive Will of God.” The Perfect Will of God was God’s ideal plan for your life. The Permissive Will of God was the second-rate plan for your life. It was okay, but if you fell into God’s permissive will, then you were doomed to a life of mediocrity.

I remember stressing out so much trying to figure out God’s Perfect Will for my life. I didn’t want to settle for second best. But there were so many huge decisions to be made. How could I be sure I was in God’s Perfect Will? It seemed so nebulous, and it felt that without meaning to, I’d be stuck in the Permissive Will with one wrong misstep. *

It was confusing.

I was to pray about the Will of God with regards to my future spouse. But, I wondered, what if that one perfect spouse marries someone else? How is it right that someone else can mess up the Perfect Will of God for me?

I was to pray about God’s Perfect Will for my future. But, what if I didn’t choose the correct major? What if I attended the wrong college? I could lose years of my life at the wrong school or in the wrong major.

Looking back, I can now see how messed up my thinking was. I’ve thought about this considerably in the past few years, studied the Word, and I think I’ve figured out some interesting things about God’s Will and Me.

First of all, there was only one person who perfectly worked out God’s Will in His life. That was Jesus. It’s not God’s Will that people do anything wrong, so every time we sin, we are stepping out of God’s Perfect Plan for our lives. But the amazing thing about Grace is that we don’t ruin our lives with these missteps. He will still use someone with all sorts of problems and mistakes in their lives. Think about it! The Scripture is full of examples of common people with dumb mistakes and poor choices who were mightily used of the Lord.

Second, God does want us to listen to his guidance for our lives. I feel strongly that God does work personally in the lives of those who love him. He does communicate with us. It is vitally important that we regularly pray for His direction. However, sometimes when we don’t feel that we have direction in one way or another, it’s okay to just make a logical, wise decision. For instance, one can pray about the choice of a college major. It’s perfectly fine, after a time of intense prayer and seeking God’s heart on the matter, to choose what makes the most sense to you, provided you feel that all choices are equal. Many times, I’ve prayed “God, I’ve asked you about this many times. I don’t feel a particular direction is more pleasing to you over the other. I plan on doing x. If you don’t want me to do x, please make it plain to me.” God has never let me down. If I’ve asked him to interrupt my plans to show me a better way, he always has done it. However, there have been times when I’ve gone ahead with what I’ve considered, and things have worked out perfectly fine anyway. The key is to keep an open heart that is willing to listen for His voice and obey.

Third, God’s will is broken down into daily increments. We can’t get so wrapped up in seeking the “Big Picture” Will of God that we neglect the little things. The little daily things are important too. Scripture is plain that God rewards faithfulness in the small things. So if you are looking for the “Big Picture,” start small. Be faithful today where you are. Develop your personal Christian life: read the Word, study it, be faithful to church, pray all the time, grow as a Christian. And develop your outward-focused Christian life: be kind to others, love your neighbor, help those in need, work hard at your job in an ethical manner. God will work out his Grand Plan for your life through your daily faithfulness.

Fourth, don’t be afraid. God’s will is bigger than our mistakes. If you mess up, repent and do your best to move forward. Don’t give up because you’ve fumbled around and lost time. Don’t feel that God won’t use you because of your past problems. God is in the business of taking our messes and turning them around to bring Him glory.

If yesterday, you made one of the biggest mistakes of your life, wake up this morning determined to do right from this point forward. Of course, sin has consequences. Make amends with those you’ve hurt; accept the consequences with a grim determination that you will never go there again. And then move on. You can find God’s will again after making some royal blunders. Just look at the lives of Jacob, Rahab, David, and so many others in the Scripture.

Don’t allow your fear of “missing God’s Will” to paralyze you. Don’t allow Satan to tell you that it’s too late for you because you’ve already missed out on God’s “Perfect Will.” The Will of God is a Big Thing, but it’s not a fearful thing. God loves us so very much, and he wants what’s best because he knows what will make us happy and holy.

“There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love.” 1 John 4:18

Last, I’ve learned that God’s will isn’t so complicated. Each day, surrender your heart and life to Him. Stay as far from sin as you can. Listen for his voice, and read the Word. Cultivate a Godly worldview and examine yourself for wrong attitudes and motives. That’s it. Doing those things will put you in the position of knowing what God wants for you each day. When God says, “Follow me,” just obey.

There’s no reason to get overwhelmed and scared about God’s will. He is faithful to let us know what we need to do and when we should do it.

 

*I understand what my well-meaning leaders were attempting to do. They were trying to stress the importance of seeking God first above our own personal ambitions. They were trying to get us students to take our life plans seriously and not think that options like “sowing wild oats” were okay. Perhaps in my youth, I misunderstood the points that were trying to be made. I do not fault these people for their attempts to guide us. I know they meant well.

Smile Lines

I celebrated my 36th birthday in September and as I look into the mirror, I can see the signs that age is showing a bit on my face. There are a few grays that I’ve recently started covering up, my eyes have a few fine lines, and…well, I could go on. But, most women who get closer to 40 starts looking into the mirror a little more closely and scrutinizing themselves for signs of the inevitable. You all know what I mean.

I find myself studying the faces of older people, men and women alike, to see how they are faring in the age department. I’ve begun to notice something. The lines on people’s faces reflect so much about their inner person.

The older folks who have sweet, cheerful personalities sport happy lines around their eyes and indentations around their mouths that prove to the world that they’ve spent a majority of their time with a lovely smile pasted on their faces.

However, there are people whose lines betray other, less admirable traits.

Those who’ve spent a large amount of time pursing their lips in disapproval, have tiny etchings around their lips.

Those who have a generally unhappy outlook have droopy jowls and sagging lips, permanently creased into a bulldog mouth.

The grumps have large creases between their eyes as they’ve spent hours frowning at others.

Of course, I know there’s usually more to it than that, and I am spending a stupid amount of time judging people on their appearances, but I’ve noticed a huge correlation in the relation of the inner person to the appearance of the outer person.

Perhaps if the grumps began cultivating a heart of joy, their faces would begin to reflect what’s going on in their hearts. Perhaps if the grouches began counting their blessings, their skin would relax into new folds of happiness on their faces. Maybe if the old crabs began reflecting on Jesus more than the behavior others, those tiny lip creases would not be more noticeable as the face is more often stretched into smiles.

I don’t know,

But what I do know is this. I want my face to reflect a lifetime of joy, happiness, and contentment, even when we have a rotten day, week, or year. If I’m going to get lines (and I have to face it that I can’t afford cosmetic surgery to tighten loose skin and wrinkles) I want them to be happy lines.

As we come to the end of 2015, I am resolved to smile more. This year has been a difficult year for our family for many reasons (and I plan on posting about that in a few days) But, I still have so very much to be thankful for. I have a genuine source of joy that cannot be touched by my circumstances. My face should reflect that, even in the midst of frustration, grief, and annoyance.

Image from page 98 of "Fall River, Massachusetts, a publication of personal points pertaining to a city of opportunity" (1911)

Thunderclouds and Tight Pants

Have you ever woken up in a foul mood?

Perhaps you got to bed too late the night before, or woke up too early.

Maybe you were just awakened a few times in the night by a needy child or by a hot flash.

It could be that you could only find the pants that are a little too snug or the undies that constantly ride up.

The dirty dishes from last night still stare at you from the kitchen counter, and apparently, nobody did their household chores for at least three days.

Maybe you are just overwhelmed with what all you have to do today and it’s raining. Again.

Whatever the reason, we all have days when we are just grumpy, irritable, and out of sorts.

It’s really easy on such days to get  snippy with our husbands, short with our kids, and just walk around all day with a thundercloud over our heads. Our kids avoid us, keep their heads down, or glare at us for the unfairness of being barked at for common, everyday mishaps.

I woke up like that today. Didn’t get enough sleep, the house is a mess and my kids…well… they’re acting like kids.

Sigh.

I prayed. Read my Bible. Still grumpy.

This is when I need a new attitude.

And I managed to find it.

My son loves to sing his hymns in the morning. So I crabbily dug out his hymn book and put the CD in.

I ran the water in the sink to tackle those dishes and listened to the first hymn that we always start with, my son’s very favorite.

This Is My Father’s World.

Just hearing my six year old’s sweet voice singing along with that classic hymn brought tears to my eyes. This IS my Father’s World. And to my listening ears, all nature sings, and round me rings the music of the spheres.

I think God is speaking to me all of the time. However, most of the time, my ears are not listening. My focus is on the dirty dishes, my kids who need so much from me, the dirt on the kitchen floor. The everyday cares of life scream at me, and I don’t tune my ears to Him.

This is why things like rain, chores, fatigue and headaches can so easily get me down.

This is my Father’s World.

And he does shine in all that’s fair.

In the rustling grass, I hear Him pass;

He speaks to me everywhere.

I just have to listen.

So today, right now, I’m making a conscious effort to slow down.

To listen for His voice.

To hear his calling to be the wife, the mother, the woman he wants me to be.

Isaiah 30:21

“And your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, “This is the way, walk in it,” when you turn to the right or when you turn to the left.”

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