Heart Check Up

This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me. But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men. ‘ Matthew 15:8-9 

I have always been a cheerleader at heart. Yes, I did have the uniform to prove it from 1985-1988. Even after my cheer leading days were but a memory, I loved to cheer on the underdog. The one who always seemed to get the short end of the stick so to speak was the one I tried to lift up, encourage, and cheer on. In my quiet time today I was reading in Matthew 15. At the get go, in this chapter, the Pharisees were after Jesus and disciples again. They were criticizing the disciples for not holding to their traditions and doing things a different way. My inner cheer leader hollered, “Get ’em Jesus!” He did. Yet what He said gripped my heart. “This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me.” (v.8) 

Wait a minute! Am I guilty of this? Am I quick to honor God with my words when I know my heart is not honoring Him with my actions? Is my heart far from God? Do I say all the right things because people are watching, yet in my heart I know I am not where I need to be? I had some self evaluation time with my Savior. I won’t give you the results. That is between Him and Me. I will say it has set me to look after the things that I say.

I want to draw close to him with my whole heart not just my words. I want my motives as well as my lip service to be in line with God. The reason this issue is so important is because in the next verse it reveals why. A heart not right with God affects our worship of Him.(v.9) When we sing in church on Sunday, do the words we sing reflect what is in our heart. We may lift up His name with our mouth, but does it echo from our heart or merely lip service. Do we do more sinning in the song service than out in the world? Can I truly say with my heart “I trust and obey”, or “I surrender all”?

The second part of verse 9 states that instead of clinging to the truth of God’s Word we place in higher authority what men say. How we worship God can affect our view of God. I want to say that in my heart I hold what God says to be more important than what man may say. I want to show that my heart speaks and shows honor to God when I open my mouth. Pleasing God needs to come before pleasing man. My husband is fond of saying, “In my life, I serve an audience of One.” We do. We strive to serve God and honor Him alone. In our walk with the Lord, may we be careful that the words we say come from a heart that is drawing close to the Savior daily.

I am cheering for you, my friend. Let us together practice checking our heart before we speak!


A Kind Word

Someone once said, “You don’t know what’s missing until it’s gone!”, and in a sense I guess that is true. However, some things in life you don’t realize how much you have missed until you begin to experience them again. A kind word from someone is one of those things. Often we may find ourselves in a rut of going to church, putting on our “happy face”, putting in our God time, and leaving without really interacting and having fellowship with those around us. When was the last time you really took the time to give a kind word to someone, and encourage them in their walk with Christ? There is a point when so much is going on in our lives that we hit survival mode and are only able to go to church, and meet with God and that is all we can handle at that moment. The cares of this world may have driven you to a place that you barely can put one foot in front of the other. When we find ourselves in this place, God may use someone to speak a kind word or offer a prayer on our behalf that will help us to see that God has not left us and we still have christian friends that are there for us as well. One of the best things about being a part of the body of Christ and in a God filled church is that you can be there for each other.

In the last month when my husband was so sick, I was so encouraged by all of the kind words, prayers, texts of encouragement, cards, support of our church friends & family, and even people I had not met but who heard about our situation and responded with encouragement and blessings. Some will never know this side of Heaven the extent of the joy that brought to me. Though I tried to express my thankfulness, It has meant so much more that a mere, “Thank you” can cover. Those of you who have ministered to us, you have shared fellowship with us that caused our joy to abound. (I John 1:3-4)

For the last two weeks, my husband has been interim pastor at a new church. One of the things I have really enjoyed has been getting to know the new people and sharing our lives with them.  As I look how far God has brought us in the last couple of months and all He has taught us, I can’t help but try to pass on the encouragement I have experienced. I have again realize the importance of sharing a kind word with someone. Many in this world are carrying burdens and are hurting. You never know that your word, prayer, text, card, etc. will be the difference that will turn them once again to the Heavenly Father. You have a wonderful opportunity to share a kind word that will produce ripples of encouragement throughout someone’s life. Don’t hold back! Give a Kind Word!!!

Me and My Big Mouth

Some of my earliest recollections of family fun were sitting around the dining room table playing board games.  Monopoly, Clue, Go to the Head of the Class, Connect Four were just a few of the many that we played as a family, my Dad, Mom, Sister and me.  Being the youngest, with my sister 8 years older, I was not often on the winning side. 

 I was so thrilled when I got the “Big Mouth” game as a birthday present.  Finally, I thought that this was my ticket.  For those of you who are not familiar with this game it was a plastic green globe looking thing with large wiggle eyes, a big orange mouth and a pink tongue. This was attached to four long plastic arms that were flat with a place at the end to propel small pieces at Big Mouth. When you turned it on the globe would revolve around, opening and shutting, while you were desperately trying to fling objects into its “Big Mouth”.  At the end of the first round, I once again was on the side that did not win.  In frustration I remember saying, “If only this “Big Mouth” would open his mouth at the right time, I would have won.

How often do we open our mouth at the wrong time?

How often do we lose when we do?

Now I know, I probably could have gone all day without saying that! 🙂   Yet In Proverbs 13:3, we read, “He that keepeth his mouth keepeth his life: but he that openeth wide his lips shall have destruction.”  These are powerful words.  How quickly by opening our mouth destruction can and often does occur.  A friendship, a marriage, or a testimony can all be destroyed by opening a big mouth.  Something that has taken a lifetime to build can be wiped out in a moment. 

Many times we feel that God has called us to straighten out all of the people in our life and we use our words to do just that. I have heard some say, “Well, I spoke the truth to this person.”  We need to be careful. The Bible says to speak the truth, but speak it in love.  To often I think when speaking to others we have a lot of truth, and a little love.  In Proverbs 21:32, we read, “Whoso keepeth his mouth and his tongue, keepeth his soul from troubles.”  I want to live a life without causing myself more trouble. I pray that when I speak I will speak with love considering others rather than myself.

“If the ‘Big Mouth’ would open his mouth at the right time, I would win.”

If we did the same, we would all win!

Temper, Temper!

How often in life does my temper get the better of me? More than I would care to admit. That’s for sure. I came across a story several years ago that really spoke to me. 

There once was a boy who had a bad temper. His father gave him a bag of nails and told him that every time he lost his temper, he must hammer a nail into the back of the fence.  The first day the boy had driven 37 nails into the fence.  Over the next few weeks, as he learned to control his anger, the number of nails hammered daily gradually dwindled down.  He discovered that it was easier to hold his temper than to drive those nails into the fence.  Finally, the day came when the boy didn’t lose his temper at all.  He told his father about it and the father suggested that the boy now pull out one nail for each day that he was able to hold his temper.  The days passed and the young boy was finally able to tell his father that all the nail were gone.  The father took his son by the hand and led him to the fence.

He said, “You have done well, my son, but look at the holes  in the fence. The fence will never be the same.  When you say things in anger, they leave a scar just like this one. You can put a knife in a man and draw it out. It won’t matter how many times you say, ‘I’m sorry’, the wound will still be there.” 

In Proverbs 16:32, we read, “He that is slow to anger is better than the mighty…” This verse is just one of many that the Bible gives in regard to the tongue.  In my own life my words have gotten me into such trouble.  Just as we are to guard our hearts; we are also to guard our mouth.  The psalmist, David, declared, “Lord, keep the door of my lips…” How many holes have we left in another person in a fit of anger? This question is why it is so important to guard or “bridle” our tongue. A verbal wound can bring as much or more pain than a physical wound.

May this prayer be on all our lips:

Lord, Please make my words sweet today for tomorrow I may have to eat them.

Ministry: It could happen to you!

Lunch hour of late has been a time for me to get away from the computer for a bit and run errands. I always manage to grab a little something to eat as well. Hey, that’s why we call it the “lunch hour”. However, in the midst of the hustle and bustle of getting ready for a new school year, I have been doing more running than eating which can sometimes be a good thing.  It is amazing to me how when we least expect it an opportunity for ministry appears right in front of us.

I was doing my usual running and the Dollar General was my last stop before I had to get back to the office.  As usual, It was crowded.  I grabbed what I needed as quickly as I could and headed for the check out line pausing ever so briefly by the candy. (I am such a “sucker” for M & M’s. he he!)  Because of my brief pause, a lady came flying in from the right and scooted in front of me in line.   Though I was in a hurry, I remembered to smile.  Seemingly, out of nowhere, she began sharing with me about her life and her children. We chatted for about a minute when she began to pour out all of the things she had been going through in the last year. This included illness, family problems, her husband’s arrest, and her 18 month old going to heaven.  She wasn’t out for sympathy or for something from me. She just needed someone to listen.  How quickly a 5 minute stop turned into an opportunity for ministry.  God put us together at the right place and at the right time. She was a lady who needed some ministering, and God allowed me to be a help.

So many times I find myself not ready for such an opportunity. What would have happened if I had gotten in the the line grumbling and complaining about the crowd or how I was going to be late?  (I have done this before a lot more than I would care to admit.)  I would have missed such a great blessing. 

The Lord brought this verse to my mind,  “Let your speech be alway with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man.” (Colossians 4:6)  Before this verse meant to me that when there is a conflict with someone I need to speak with grace and understanding or when I am speaking with a non-christian I will not discredit  or turn someone from Christ.  Yet the verse very simply says, “Let your speech be always with grace.”  I need to “always” practice gracious speech.  When I think over a normal day in my life and start analysing my speech, I am convicted that my speech is not “always with grace”.  I am so grateful that my speech did not in any way dissuade or discourage this lady. 

I am thankful that God showed me again the importance of being ready at all times for ministry. You never know that the next person you encounter may be the one God has placed in your path at just the right moment for you to minister and help. 

When our speech is gracious, we might find ourselves with more and more opportunities to reach out to those around us in our homes, in our churches, in our communities, and even in our “Dollar General”.