Wednesday, March 31, 2021

Gossip Is the Devil's Radio

 

Gossip is the Devil's radio. Are you the DJ?

Let's be real. Most of us gossip about others. But why, when we know we shouldn't? And is it necessarily bad?

The Good and the Bad and the Ugly

When you talk behind someone's back, God hears.
We first need to be clear that there is "good" gossip and there is "bad" gossip... and then there's really ugly gossip. These three categories are differentiated by the intent behind sharing the information.

"I heard that Jessica's having a baby!" can be good, bad, or really ugly, depending on the context.

If Jessica's been trying to have a baby for a while and learned that she's finally pregnant, the statement will be delivered as a happy revelation.

If Jessica is an unwed teenager, the statement may be cloaked in judgment and distain.

If Jessica is not, in fact, pregnant, the statement - whether you are just passing along what you heard or you are starting a negative falsehood - can cause unimaginable heartache.

Why We Gossip

One study suggests that over half of our conversations are about "socially relevant topics" which includes talking about people. But is it all bad? Nope.

Entertainment

Sometimes gossip can be fun. Telling a funny story about a mutual friend can be entertaining, as long as it's not malicious. If you're going to engage in this kind of gossip, be sure you understand your motivation so you are using funny stories to ridicule or embarrass.

Informational

My small group at church maintains a prayer list that we update each time we meet. I like going over the list and hearing new information about the people I am praying for. Usually, this is very personal - often medical or financial - information. Relaying this information could easily turn ugly, but, since our motivation is to intercede on their behalf, we would never use that information to hurt those we pray for.

Instructional

A story about my daughter has been circulating for years. Thankfully, it is a story of caution, not one of those ugly rumors. When she was about 12, she absent-mindedly left a candle burning in her bedroom. That might not have been so catastrophic if she had followed my frequent reminders to use candle holders. Instead, she had placed the candle on top of her clock radio which sat on her nightstand. When the flame reached the clock, it quickly caught fire. Thankfully, the fire didn't spread to anything but the nightstand and the house suffered nothing but smoke damage, but it was a tough and expensive lesson about the importance of using a candle holder. The story quickly spread throughout our circle of friends and the adults used it as a safety lesson with their children. Even years later, people will occasionally say "I remember when Maria's room caught on fire. That taught me to always use a candle holder!".

Maliciousness

The ugly gossip usually involves spreading rumors or even factual stories with the intent to tarnish someone's reputation. The co-worker who makes sure everyone knows about the mistake you made or the girl at school who spreads a false rumor just to build up herself. Whatever the reason or method, ugly gossip is, at the least, hurtful but, it can have far-reaching and long-term damaging effects. 

As Exodus 23:1 says, "You must not pass along false rumors. You must not cooperate with evil people by lying on the witness stand."

Keep in mind that ugly gossip says much more about the person spreading it than it does about the subject of the gossip.

How Do I Stop Ugly Gossip?

If you find yourself engaged in gossip for the wrong reasons, here are some steps you can take to squash it:

  • Pray about it. The Holy Spirit can give you the wisdom to recognize ugly gossip and the strength to refrain from participating in it.

  • Put yourself in the place of the subject of your gossip. How would you feel if someone said those things about you?

  • Consider if what you're about to say is something that you want God to hear you say.


  • Follow Paul's advice to the Ephesians: Let everything you say be good and helpful.

  • Think about your motivation for spreading the gossip and address it. Are you jealous? Do you think you have to tear others down to build yourself up? Trying to fit in with other gossipers? I don't have to tell you that those are feelings and actions that need to be addressed in order to maintain a close relationship with Jesus.
Ephesians 4:29 tells us that our words should be an encouragement to those who hear them. In every situation, in every way, that should be our guiding motto. Strive to follow this guidance and  you will not be the source of ugly gossip.



Friday, March 19, 2021

Share Your Story



Your story is the key that can unlock someone else's prison.

“Don’t be afraid to speak from personal experience; in many ways, those vulnerable moments will be the key that unlocks a hardened heart.”  - Luis Palau


There truly is nothing more powerful than sharing how you have been personally affected by your relationship with Jesus. It's easier for people to see themselves in such a relationship when they see how it's affected someone they know rather than just reading words on paper or hearing it from the pulpit. (Not to say that some people don't find Jesus by reading a book or listening to a sermon. They're just more apt to make that important decision if it's more personal.)

For most people, it's exceedingly scary to open up that way. Here are three tips that may make it easier.

Pray about it

God-confidence comes as the Holy Spirit works in us. As we pray and when we make choices that honor God, the Holy Spirit fills us with His power for ministry. Elizabeth George
Talk with God about your anxiety. He understands that it's not your idea of a fun time and He can fill you with confidence that will ease your fears.

 






Realize that it's God's desire

Not only does He expect us to worship Him, He wants us to tell as many people as possible about Him so they can experience His love, too.

Give thanks to the Lord and proclaim his greatness. Let the whole world know what he has done.






Ask God to give you the words

If you're thinking that you can opt out because you're not good at talking with others, Moses already tried that excuse and, well, we know how that worked for him. 

I won't promise any burning bushes, but I can assure you that the right words will come to you at the right time. 

But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you will be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere.
Today, may God place me in someone's path and give me the words to touch their heart


Friday, March 12, 2021

Proverbs 16:9

We can make our plans, but God determines our steps.
We can make our plans, but the Lord determines our steps.
Proverbs 16:9


As a child, whenever I was asked what I wanted to be when I grew up, I responded that I wanted to be a teacher. Not surprising for several reasons. As a female Baby Boomer, I was encouraged to only consider the traditional female roles. I get weak-kneed at the sight of blood, so nursing was out of the question and both of my parents were teachers, so that was the logical choice. Besides that, I liked teaching and I'm good at it.

So, I earned my BA in Elementary Education. I never actually taught except to work as a substitute teacher for a short time. Through a series of circumstances, I ended up in Human Resources and spent 35 years doing something I absolutely loved. In high school and college, I didn't even know what Human Resources was, but when I stumbled upon it a few years later, I knew it was what I wanted to do.

I can see God's hand in the events and opportunities that led me to my career. I don't know if getting a teaching degree was in His plans or if it was just my myopic view at the time, but it all worked out. I used what I'd learned in college in so many ways, especially when I conducted training.


My career path could have been more direct, but, looking back, I know it happened just the way it needed to. The experiences I had made me a better HR director and supervisor.

I trust God to know what's best for me and, even if I stray from the path He has for me, He uses those experiences to help me grow. Trust Him to lead you in the right direction.

All Dances In The Light graphics are free to use by churches and non-profit organizations.

 


Thursday, March 11, 2021

Spiritual Milk


Like newborn babies, you must crave pure spiritual milk
so that you will grow into a full experience of salvation. 
Cry out for this nourishment.

1 Peter 2:22

If you've ever cared for a newborn - whether it be human, puppy, or lamb - you have experienced their frequent need for nourishment. Every few hours, they are crying for milk. It's fascinating to watch a newborn lamb stand up on its wobbly, knock-kneed legs for the first time and immediately seek out its mother's milk. Even puppies, eyes closed and barely out of the womb, find their mother and latch on to a nipple for sustenance. 

So it should be for new Christians. We need spiritual nourishment to grow in our relationship with Jesus. But how do we receive that nourishment?

Read The Bible

Learn as much as you can from the Bible. As the saying goes, BIBLE stands for Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth. The Bible is God's Word given to you so that you can better understand what God expects from you and what you can expect from Him.

The Old Testament gives us a rich, amazing history that helps us understand the foundations of the Christian faith.

The New Testament provides the New Covenant, which is God's promise of salvation and eternal life.

Reading the Bible isn't always easy - there are lots of unusual words, contextual meaning and symbolism. If you're just starting out, a good study guide is very helpful. There are study guides for just about every imaginable topic, but a good one to start with is something like the New Christian's Handbook by Max Anders.

Find Other Christians

This is probably as important as regularly reading the Bible. God doesn't intend for us to try to do this by ourselves. In fact, he encourages us to seek out other Christians who can support us in our journey.

Even if you're not a "church" kind of person, you can find the fellowship you need. For example, Fresh Expressions is a movement that started in the UK and has been adopted by the United Methodist Church. Activities are geared to meet people where they are, in environments in which they are comfortable - everything from walking clubs to Bible discussions at the local pub. The Florida United Methodist Conference has a list of initiatives and you can probably find something similar in your area or with your preferred denomination. 

Many churches have "small groups" that are informal opportunities for fellowship and Bible study. 


Talk With Jesus


Maybe three hours a day is too much for you, but having real conversations with God every day is an important part of your nourishment. Prayer is talking with and listening to God.

Not sure how to pray? Here's my favorite way to pray.

Honestly, it doesn't matter how you do it. Just do it. Every day. It doesn't matter if it's while you're driving to work (my favorite time), late at night after the house is quiet, or stolen minutes throughout the day. 

Prayer helps ground us and gives us the opportunity to really listen to God as He guides us through the challenges in our lives.

"I pray because I can't help myself. I pray because I'm helpless. I pray because the need flows out of me all the time, waking and sleeping. It doesn't change God. It changes me." - C.S. Lewis



Worship

We were made to love God. And how do we show that we love Him? By worshiping Him.

Worship doesn't mean just going to church on Sunday morning. Romans 12:1 tells us that our bodies should be a living and holy sacrifice. That means that everything we do and say should honor God. He wants us to love others the way that He loves us.

When we honor Him, we are showing respect and love and that is a way of worshiping all that He is.


Worship can be formal, such as a church service on Sunday morning and Jesus encouraged his followers to worship together.  Matthew 18:20 says that Jesus will be wherever two or more are gathered.

But, however you choose to worship, know that it doesn't have to be perfect, just honest and earnest.





Fear of the Lord is the foundation of true knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and discipline. Proverbs 1:7

I pray that you find the nourishment you need to grow as a Christian. For me, it's a lifelong process!

Friday, March 5, 2021

Song Lyrics

 Here are a few graphics with song lyrics that I've worked on lately.





All graphics by Dances In The Light are free to use for church and non-profit communications.

Thursday, March 4, 2021

Not Of This World

I wouldn't miss heaven for the world

Do not love the world or the things in the world. The love of the Father is not in those who love the world 1 John 2:15

There are many things in this world that I "love": my family and friends, of course; puppies, kittens and, well actually, any baby animal; strawberries; the color red; the smell of freshly mowed grass, and horses, to name a few. 

Do not love the world or the things in the world. The love of the Father is not in those who love the world
But that's not the kind of love that is referenced as "worldly love" in the Bible. Perhaps it would be better if we replaced that over-used word with some that are more descriptive: appreciate, admire, delight in, hold dear are a few that might work better.

The kind of love that 1 John 2:15 refers to is worship, idolatry, and glorification of worldly things. It is putting objects or pastimes above God. Take this short quiz to see if you are putting worldly things above God.

  1. Do you skip Sunday church to play golf/go hunting/take a walk in the woods and justify it with the thought "I can worship God anywhere"?
  2. Do you shy away from expressing your faith because you are afraid of how your friends/family/strangers will react?
  3. Are you a workaholic, thinking that if you can just get the next promotion or next big raise, you'll be happy?
  4. You meet two people. They are both charming, funny, attractive, and have the same interests and hobbies as you. The only difference between the two is that one can help elevate your social status and the other can help bring you closer to God. Which do you prefer as a friend?
  5. Do you find it hard to find time to pray or read the Bible because you are busy with life?
Citizens of heaven
If you answered yes to any of these questions, you need to take a step back and really look at what's important to you. If you want a stronger relationship with Jesus, you need to spend more time worshiping, adoring, and talking with Him.

All graphics created by Dances In The Light are free to use in church and non-profit communications.