Can You See Your Reflection?

Years ago, when my kids were young, I used to keep a prayer journal of anything and anyone I was praying for. I had it organized by month and day and then when a prayer was answered I would write in the date below it and how God had answered it. I used to like to go back and read my prayers and answers because it kept me thinking that nothing was impossible for God, and it showed that He was always there for me. I kept writing in it for a few years but kids and life got in the way, and I stopped writing. I could kick myself for that decision!

You see, the journal was a reflection for me in two distinct ways. The obvious way is that it reflected what I was concerned about and praying about. It showed what was important enough for me to write down and then it showed, sometimes many years later, when God answered that prayer. In this way, the journal’s reflection showed me God’s faithfulness. But it was the other reflection that was of concern to me.

The journal was also a reflection of my heart. At one time in my life, I cared deeply about people and their situations. I cared about my family and their needs. I cared about me and my walk with God. To put it plainly, I cared deeply enough to write about something and to pray about it. Sadly, life has a way of hardening and changing us. We become immune to other people’s needs and their pain. We become callous and self-centered. We give lip service more than knee service. You know what I am talking about, don’t you? Have you ever heard about an issue and said to someone, “I’m praying for you,” but you really aren’t? We use that term pretty flippantly. I am guilty of it, and I am ashamed to admit it. But I would bet if you were honest with yourself, you have done it, too.

Now that isn’t to say that I don’t care or I don’t pray anymore. I certainly do. But I can honestly tell you that my needs and situations in life are more on my mind than the needs of others. And again, if you are really honest with yourself, you are the same way. We all are. We are self-centered, self-indulgent, narcissistic beings.

Recently, I was cleaning out a dresser and came across that old journal. I spent a few moments reading through what I had written and the prayers for people that I am not even acquainted with today. It saddened me when I reached the end of the entries that stopped abruptly in the middle of that journal, and I looked at all the blank pages that followed. It was as if God had spoken out loud to me at that very moment. It was as if He said, “Where you stopped, I kept going. What if I simply stopped caring about you and stopped thinking about your needs?” The empty journal pages were a sad reflection of myself, which I didn’t want to see, and so, I put the journal away.

But just putting the journal away didn’t stop the nagging at my heart that was happening. God wanted me to face something, and He has a way of pointing you right to it. That is exactly what He did today when I opened my Bible app to read this morning. Here is what smacked me in the face: Proverbs 27:19 “As water reflects the face, so one’s life reflects the heart.” Think about that for a moment. Really let that sink in. Think about your current life. Think about your thoughts and your actions. Think about your hobbies and your friends. Think about what you read and what you watch. Think about your prayer life and the time that you spend with God. I mean really think about it. What is your life reflecting?

Personlly, I go thru ups and downs. I can be on fire for God and want to read my Bible, pray, and follow HIm, or I can be in the doldrums and half-heartedly read my Bible and kind-of pray. But there is no getting around that verse. God sees what is in the heart and others around us see what our heart is reflecting. So for me the message was loud and clear. And I ask you today to take a look at your reflection. Are you living for the moment, for yourself, and for your own glory or are you living for God, for your eternal future, and His glory? If you glance in the water will you see your reflection or will you see His? And most importantly, what is the reflection that others will see from you? Will they see you or will they see Christ?

When Someone Strikes You

Have you ever had anyone say something to you in such a vile manner that it left you wondering what you did to provoke such hatred and such wickedness? If so, you are not alone.

Recently, I had someone leave a review of something I had written. It was, to say the least, seething with anger. Each line of her criticism, was meant to tear down something that I had worked on for years. Her statements were exaggerated and inaccurate, but it didn’t matter because she was able to do so with nothing more than a few keystrokes, typed behind the cover of her computer for everyone to read. Her unjust rant would do what it was meant to do, namely put doubt in other people’s minds about what I had written. It left me wondering and thinking about it for days.

The more I thought about how easy it is for people to sit behind a keyboard and type out hateful spews and go on rants, the more I thought about Jesus Christ. He was not immune to hateful outbursts, nor was He immune to others saying things that were inaccurate about Him. He was the King of receiving insults and attacks and, in the end, He died because of the hatred leveled against Him. But little did all the haters know that His death was actually part of God’s plan to bring about Salvation- even to them!

Yes, Christ was the ultimate receiver of hate! He was the one that I had to turn to for an example of how to deal with people who behave in such a manner. One of the passages that I found where Christ teaches about this is found in Luke 6:28-29. It states: Bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. If someone strikes you on one cheek, turn to him the other also.

Blessing those who curse us and praying for those who mistreat us is very difficult. He didn’t say it would be easy. He just said to do it. And honesly, I did. I prayed for this person. Not a spiteful prayer like that her computer would break or anything like that – though I was tempted! But I prayed for her salvation. Surely someone who spews hatred so easily is a very unhappy person and probably doesn’t know Christ, and if she does, well…she has some cleaning to do in her spiritual house.

The other thing that I did was absolutely nothing. I turned the other cheek. I didn’t respond to her, even though I wanted to! Everything in me wanted to reach out, but I didn’t. I remained silent. After all, that is what Christ tells us to do. This is another hard thing to do because you don’t get the opportunity to clear up any inaccuracies, lies, or anything else that is being said. You simply say nothing.

My mother used to love the saying, “The cream rises to the top.” Many of you might not know where that originated from, but many years ago, (No, I am not that old!), milk was delivered in glass bottles to your home. The “watery” part of the milk would settle while the good, thick, yummy stuff – the cream- would rise to the top. That became an analogy over time to mean that the best or the truth of a situation will eventually come to light. I cannot tell you how many times that this has proven to be the case.

Didn’t that happen with Christ? He prayed for God to forgive the very people who insulted Him, beat Him, mocked Him, and killed Him. He didn’t argue even when standing in front of Pilate. He turned the other cheek. He took the beatings, the earthly humiliation, and then died a brutal death on a cross. But in the end, He arose from the grave and is currently sitting at the right hand of God the Father. His silence while He was walking on earth speaks heavenly volumes today, doesn’t it? Would it have mattered if He tried to debate those who hated Him and spoke lies about him?

And so I want to encourage you today that if someone is speaking lies about you or criticizing you for something that is unfounded, take a step back. Instead of inflaming a situation, do your best to follow the example of Christ. Remember, you are the cream! You can and will rise above the situation!

Proverbs and the Wise Old Owl

Remember when you were a child and you would watch cartoons on a Saturday morning? (That was the life wasn’t it? ) Thinking back on some of those cartoons, I am reminded of some of the stupid antics that the characters would do – like blow themselves up and only walk away with a black mark on their stomach or some such nonsense. And in other cartoons, there was the wise old owl who would sit on his perch pompously watching the antics of the others. He was always the one that everyone went to for advice. What’s odd is that we always associate wisdom with age. After all, we do call him the wise old owl. But did you know that owls only live about twenty years? Not so old, is he? And what about in the old westerns where there was always that one man, whom everyone knew about, that lived up in the mountains? He was the one who was considered wise – like the patriarch of a family.

So what does an owl who lives approximately twenty years and a patriarch have in common, and is it only owls and old men that are wise? That’s such a silly question, isn’t it? Of course it is. But do you know the difference between wisdom and knowledge and does knowledge give you wisdom? I actually started thinking about this after reading some of the Proverbs.

Knowledge is something that is learned. I can learn the law, medicine, or finance, and be very skilled in those or any other subject. I can have a Doctorate in Law, but that doesn’t mean that I am wise. Book knowledge does not equate to wisdom. Take for example an attorney that commits a crime. You cannot tell me that they didn’t have the knowledge of the law to know and understand that they were breaking it. They certainly did. What they lacked was wisdom to understand that they were not above the law, that their actions would hurt those around them who loved them, and that they would go to jail, just like any common criminal. They did not consider wisdom as something to be gained.

A very true story about someone who discarded wisdom was King David. He had everything a man could want. He had money and women, fame, and power. But he wanted more. He was not content with what God had given him, and he wanted what wasn’t his to take – namely another man’s wife. Just like the attorney in the previous paragraph, David knew exactly what he was doing. He simply didn’t care. He threw away his relationship with God, didn’t care about the long term results, and went after momentary pleasure, which then culminated with deception and murder. Unfortunately, as he found out, you can’t just push God to the side, and so, it all caught up with him, and David was punished. Sadly for the child, its life was lost in the process, too

Wisdom is something that was so important, that Solomon wrote a great deal about it in the book of Proverbs. In Proverbs chapter 7, he tells his son to write what he was telling him on the “tablet of his heart.” In otherwords, ingrain it into your very being so that you never forget what I am telling you. That’s how important that it was to Solomon. Wisdom is considering the outcomes and denying yourself momentary pleasures for long term treasures. Wisdom looks at all situations and seeks God’s input. Wisdom is, in fact, given by God. Wisdom is not something that you get only in your old age. Wisdom can be something that even a child can have.

I find it interesting that King Solomon spent so much time teaching his son about adultery. Could it be that after his father, King David, was restored and began to walk again with God, that he taught Solomon about adultery and told Solomon what had happened to his older sibling? Could David have wanted to spare Solomon the grief and heartache that he and Bathsheba had when their child, that was conceived in adultery, died? I would almost bet that was the case. After all, Solomon would have no reason to commit adultery. He had so many wives and concubines that he could probably see a different one each night for two years! My guess is that David suffered such a pain from the loss of his child and his fractured relationship with God, that he taught Solomon, who in turn, wanted to teach his own child. And this is how we should model our lives. We should grow wise from our mistakes and impart that wisdom to our children or family and friends.

Wisdom is choosing to follow the laws of God rather than the foolishness of man. Wisdom cries out for you to follow after her so you will have a long life and finish it well. Wisdom says for you to choose her rather than riches and glory. Who among us will take riches with them to heaven? Or glory? But wisdom to find the Lord and serve Him takes all you will have, but will give you so much more!

As I thought about wisdom in today’s world, and the lack of it, I thought about so many of our younger generation who have no clue as to what wisdom is, and who believe that a college education will make you wise. My heartbeat and prayer, and I hope that yours is too, will be for those of this upcoming generation to gain wisdom – to seek wisdom and to apply wisdom. Just as it was so important for Solomon to write those Proverbs to impart his wisdom to his son, so it is extremely important for us as parents, sisters, brothers, mothers, and fathers to impart wisdom to the younger generation. After all, their very soul is at stake.

And lest any of us forget, the Bible tells us that Solomon was the wisest man who ever lived. So, if he took his God-given wisdom and told his own son to write it on his heart, why should we be any different?

Doubting God

I’ve been there, have you? Praying about a problem in my life or someone else’s life yet doubting that God will actually answer the prayer? Or do you, like me, find yourself making subtle excuses for if God does not answer it – like, well, maybe His answer was no, or maybe this isn’t His will or something like that? Why do we do that? Is our faith in His deliverance really that small, or is it that we don’t really understand what an answer to prayer is?

I have recently been looking at the life of Abraham. What a doubter he was – even amidst God’s promises to him. Take a look at a few of them:

  • I will make you into a great nation, and I will bless you.
  • To your offspring, I will give this land.
  • Lift up your eyes from where you are and look north and south, east and west. All the land that you see I will give to you and your offspring forever.
  • Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield and your very great reward.

But we see that in Chapter 15 of Genesis, Abram says, “What can you give me since I remain childless. (Didn’t God say – I will make you into a great nation and to your offspring, I will give this land).

When God says, “As for Sarai your wife, you are no longer to call her Sarai; her name will be Sarah. I will bless her and will surely give you a son by her. Abraham laughs and says, “Will a son be born to a man a hundred years old? Will Sarah bear a child at the age of ninety?” (Didn’t God say – I will make you into a great nation, and I will bless you? …..all the land that you see I will give to you and your offspring forever.)

Then Abraham stayed in Gerar and passed his wife off as his sister to protect himself. (Didn’t God say, I will make you into a great nation, and I will bless you.)

So, if God spoke directly to Abraham and gave him these promises, why was he so wavering in his belief of those promises? I like to think if God said out loud, “Tammy, I will bless you and protect you. I am your shield and your very great reward,” that I would have responded better than Abraham, but the truth is I wouldn’t and I haven’t. And if you are honest, neither have you. But the question is why? Why can we not believe God with all of our heart?

I think it can be summed up in one word – humanism. We are a finite bunch. We can see and understand only what our little human minds can comprehend. So while we believe God will hear our prayers and maybe He will answer our prayers, we think that the answer to our prayer should be how we think it should be, but we fail to see and understand that God’s ways are so much larger than us – infinitely larger. Let me give an example:

A friend of mine had been praying earnestly for a wayward son. Myself and others joined her in petitioning God for her son. The despair and anger grew within her as she waited for God to miraculously change her son and she watched as nothing changed, or so she thought, and there were even times when she said, “Where is God?” But then, oddly, she received a card from her father, someone she had not spoken to in many years. In a move that she will admit was odd, she texted him and had a brief conversation with him, thanking him for the card. He responded back that “her response was the best Christmas gift he could have asked for.” Ironically, she was the wayward daughter praying for her wayward son. God was answering prayer, but the prayer was not in the way she wanted, which was for her son to change his life around. The prayer was answered in that God wanted her to see that she was a wayward daughter and a relationship needed to be healed with her and her father, before God could work on the other area in her life.

Just as Abraham doubted, and took things into his own hands at times, God was working on Abraham’s faith. An immediate answer to Abraham’s desire to have a child was not first and foremost in God’s plan, just as deliverance for my friend’s child was not first and foremost in God’s plan. The truth is that God is actively answering prayers. And the bigger truth is that God is faithful to us more than we are faithful to him.

Thanks for reading, and if you are interested in a good mystery book, please go to my website http://Marysfingerprint.com , and check out my new book: The Vanderhoof Conspiracy : Based on a True Event. It is about a woman, her husband, their hired hand, and some arsenic. It is available on Amazon also as a paperback or Kindle.

Happy new year, Everyone!