Monday, June 25, 2012

Are Failures Fatal?

Did you ever want to crawl under a table because you said or did something inconsiderate or unkind?  It happened to me just yesterday.  It was just a stupid little thing, but I knew the minute I did it that it offended a dear brother in Christ and it was so unnecessary.

As soon as I could, I apologized to him, and I'm sure he truly forgives me.  But you know, he'll probably remember that for awhile and it will most likely have somewhat of a chilling impact on our relationship.  

So, why would I do such a thoughtless thing?  That's what sticks in my mind.  After all, I talk about putting others first, displaying the fruit of the Spirit in our lives, loving each other--all those basic Bible truths.  I teach them and truly intend to practice what I teach.  But there I was, displaying anything but the fruit of the Spirit.

Why?  Because I was thinking about me--what I had to do, how my time was limited, where I needed to go.  I was more important to me than anything or anyone else for that moment--and just that quickly, that old selfish  me behaved the way it always does on its own.  

Well, do I just give up and call it quits?  Is there no hope that I'll ever truly be like Jesus?  Is it impossible for me to learn to be under the Spirit's control even when I'm under time or workload pressures?  Should I resign and hang my head in shame?

That wouldn't accomplish anything, would it?  What I can and have done--and will do--is confess again my sinful, selfish heart, ask for forgiveness, then pick up the pieces and go forward.  It's humbling, and I need to be humbled quite frequently, but it's not fatal.  That's because we have a God of grace who specializes in using broken vessels and damaged goods!  

These failures we experience, whether large or small, should be teaching moments for us.  Rather than driving us away from God's purposes for our lives, they should shape us more and more, little by little, into the image of Jesus.   The next time I'm in a similar spot, if I have learned my lesson well, I will handle it more like Jesus and so even this failure will be used for good in my life.

Be encouraged today.  Your failures are not fatal.  Join hands with me as we continue to grow in the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Mary Whelchel

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

He Cheated.

He cheated. Eight years of marriage. Two kids. A house, a boat, a family...and he walked out. What do you say to a friend who was figuratively punched in the face and told she wasn't loved anymore? How does she make sense of her life being turned upside down in a matter of days? Where is God in all of this and how can a divorce be in His plan for her?

Tough questions, right? And it just keeps getting messier. The more she finds out about her husband’s infidelity, the more the betrayal continues to pile up. His words are cruel and untrue. Her boys are crushed and confused. This journey for my dear friend is far from over. There are going to be some super dark days ahead for her and she’s going to have to cling to any hope she can find. She’s going to have to choose to believe God is in all of this when nothing seems to make any sense anymore.

And here is the ironic twist to this devastating story: my sweet friend was beyond faithful to her unfaithful husband. It wasn’t long after they got married that she had her first of many blows – she thought she had married a man who had surrendered his life to Jesus and shared the same values of her faith. But as it turns out, his actions weren't matching up to the words coming from his mouth. So now what? She trusted God’s Word when it says:

“And if a woman has a husband who is not a believer and he is willing to live with her, she must not divorce him. For the unbelieving husband has been sanctified through his wife, and the unbelieving wife has been sanctified through her believing husband...” (1 Cor. 7:13-14)

She believed God and faithfully prayed for his salvation. She worked hard, really hard, at being a loving and servant-hearted wife. She pursed his interests and hobbies so she could spend more time with him. She encouraged him to lead their family and inspire their boys. She was faithful. He was not. It’s unbelievable enough that he would just walk out on his wife and kids, but for another woman? Disgusting.

I look at my friend with such admiration and awe. She is heartbroken right now and certainly confused. And as she puts it, he chose his flesh over his family. Sure did. And we all know where that’s going to leave him.

But to my girlfriend, and anyone else finding that they have been hit hard by a curve ball – remain faithful to the One who defines faithfulness. He will reward you when you follow through with what you’ve committed to. Big commitments like marriage or small commitments like a promise to your kid. Faithfulness is a virtue that pleases the Lord and He will show His favor to you. And faithfulness comes from simply having faith -- faith that God sees you, knows you, and longs to glorify Himself through you (that's grace), never stops training you for righteousness (that's loving), and is in control when life is out of control (that's sovereign).

"So those who have faith are blessed along with Abraham, 
the man of faith." (Gal. 3:9)

But the Lord is faithful, and he will strengthen and protect 
you from the evil one.” (2 Thess. 3:3)

“Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and your dominion endures through all generations. The LORD is faithful to all his promises and loving 
toward all he has made.” (Psalm 145:13)

“God, who has called you into fellowship with his 
Son Jesus Christ our Lord, is faithful.” (1 Cor. 1:9)

I love you friend,

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

The Effortless Bobby Pin Look

Have you noticed this new hair trend lately? I call it the “Effortless Bobby Pin” look – until I tried it. I found that swooping back just a tiny piece of hair and securing it with one bobby pin isn’t easy! I couldn’t figure out where to put the hair strand and the one bobby pin wouldn’t hold my thick hair. I kept thinking about this mom at my daughter's school who has mastered this look and wondered how she makes it look so effortless!? Wouldn't you know that if you want instructions, you can fine them on Pinterest! And guess what, it's a process!

Why do we try to make difficult things look easy? A friend recently told me that I made having a third baby look easy. She said, “It doesn’t look like you missed a beat!” Oh wow. That couldn’t be more wrong. My beat is so gone that I wonder if I’ll ever get it back. And what an injustice I’m doing if I’m giving any other impression. Again, why do we try to make difficult things look easy?

Do you think it is in our nature to not show our weaknesses? Are we constantly trying to be someone we’re not? Paul talks about human weakness in 2 Cor. 12: “But [Jesus] said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

There is a section in a book I’m reading entitled “Authentically Me.” Just those two words bring a little freedom to me. The author reminds the reader of three anchors of Scripture that we all need to claim and hold on to:

1) Jeremiah 1:5, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.”

2) 2 Timothy 2:21, "Those who cleanse themselves from the latter will be instruments for special purposes, made holy, useful to the Master and prepared to do any good work."

3) Ephesians 1:3, "Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ."

Boy, if we clung to those truths wouldn't we just ooze authenticity? How could we not if we walked in the confidence that Jesus intends for us to have -- confidence, faith, in Him and who He makes us to be. Like all things Gospel-centered, it is counter-cultural to expose our weaknesses. But if we were more honest and open about our trials, difficulties, and struggles, how much more room in our lives would we have for learning, growing, and encouragement. Sign me up!

And even if the Effortless Bobby Pin is easy for some, it's not easy for all. Such is life. Celebrate each other's strengths and weaknesses for the glory of God. Live an authentic life. Do you.

Rockin' the ponytail!