Words, Words, Words

Shiloh Photography©

Words, words, words. We either use them like healing drops or killing poison. We all try hard to say less words, to keep our mouths shut, to use our words wisely, but we need to realize that we won’t succeed unless we abide in the Word of God.

The prudent woman not only speaks fewer words than the fool, but she knows when to speak wise words that bring healing and joy (Prov.12:18; 15:23). This kind of words, words that edify, words that bring healing and joy, words that tell the truth, can only come out -naturally- from our heart through our mouths, when the Word of the Builder, the Word of the God who heals and brings life, the Word of the God of all joy and perfect peace, the God of all Truth is dwelling in us. Remember that Jesus said that out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks (Luke 6:45) and that His Word must abide in us (Jn.15:7), do you see the connection there?

Reading the Word, memorizing it, meditating on it, listening to it, is really the only way for us to fill our hearts and minds with the kind of words that will build up and encourage others. Only when we make it a habit to have the Word dwelling richly in us, is that we will start winning our fight against the problem of having a loose tongue and foolish talk.

The Word of God dwelling richly in us will sanctify us (Jn.17:17) -including the way we use our words! The Holy Spirit through the Word of God dwelling in us, will remind us when we should keep our mouths shut, when we ought to speak, and what words to say and not to say. The Lord alone can put a guard over our mouths (Ps.141:3), and it is through His Word and the work of the Holy Spirit that He does that.

“Let the Word of God dwell richly in you.” Col.3:16

Under His sun and by His grace,

Becky

How HONY Has Met Me in my Big Little World.

I am pretty sure you are familiar with HONY (Humans of New York). It is amazing that as for this day, the minute I am typing this, Brandon Stanton has 12, 245, 305 people who have liked his page on Facebook and 2.6m are following him on Instagram -and 246k on Twitter-. So, I am not going to explain you what exactly his project is about (if you have no idea what I am talking about, I invite you to go see it for yourself. Instead I want to share what has been going in my heart, what has been stirred up in me as I follow him through his telling of stories.

I read the comments and I see, for the most part, common grace overflowing. We all want to do something. People send hugs and encouragement through their comments.  People  feel like they want to send money (and they do it generously!) to those in need. We all read and wish we could help in a tangible way, so we say a prayer (maybe?). But then we click another key and move on to the next thing, until another of his pictures reminds us that there is a powerful story behind each face, a fight being fought (as the cliché says). And God is there.

One of the things that this guy, this Story Hunter, does, is that in a few minutes like a magician, he pulls from the stranger’s heart a story that probably no one has ever heard before. And we all hear, we all pay attention, because we love stories, because stories draw us together.

But maybe, while thinking that we’d love to do something for these people, we are just being infatuated by stories that are happening far from us. Stories that, as with any fiction book, end the moment we decide to close the book and move on.

One of the questions I have as I read these story-pictures is not necessarily how he approaches strangers and draws out those stories from them. My question always is, “What does he tell them afterwards?”What words come out of his mouth after they share their fears, their dreams for the future or the nightmares from the past with him? Just  “‘Thank you, may I share your deepest secret with millions of people?” I have no idea,  but sometimes I wish I could know.

So here is where HONY, meets me.

There are stories around me. Walking stories. Happy stories and dreadful stories. Dreams and nightmares.  Stories that have never been told, that have been hidden on purpose until he comes with his camera and unlocks the treasure chest. But you know what? I haven’t taken the time to draw near to them and ask the hard questions. It is easier to feel empathy, and a huge desire to help without even thinking, the woman Brandon Stanton introduced to us through one of his pictures, a woman who lives in The Democratic Republic of Congo, rather than to offer my help to my neighbor.   I have the Gospel, Friends. I have Jesus. I know the God who redeems lives, who turns darkness into light. The God who loves resurrection stories. If only I would start looking into the eyes of the lady who does my hair, the woman at the cashier, my next door neighbor, the person that I see at church every Sunday but I don’t even know her name.

I cannot help all these faces with dreams of their own, but I have other Dreamers, other Faces walking around me. What can I do to bless them? How have I reached out to them?

We feel like we cannot possibly trespass some privacy boundaries, and yet this great photographer has done it over and over, and over again, and people respond to him, they are willingly sharing their stories with millions of strangers. They want to be heard. They need to be heard. Maybe we, the people of God, should dare to be more bold, to reach out, to ask. At the end of the day we know what the answer always is: The gospel of Jesus Christ.

Under His sun and by His Grace,

Becky

Be Hospitable, Love the Body of Christ, Look Up -Pursuing the Intentional Life-

I am enjoying this series of letters on pursuing the intentional life so much. I pray you will be encouraged to make a commitment to live an intentional life, to start counting your days, to live fully in Him and for Him.

You can now read Melissa’s response here…

 

Have a blessed day,

Becky

Prayer and Battles

I just finished reading -again- Douglas Wilson’s book, Standing on the Promises: A Handbook on Biblical Childrearing, and I have to say that this is the one book I most recommend on the subject. In one of the last chapters Douglas Wilson writes about parenting teenagers, and says that we need to pick our battles carefully and prayerfully.

Now, that is a phrase that struck me, because it is not only true when we are talking about childrearing. It is true about every battle we face.

As Christians we face many opportunities every day to pick battles not only in our home, but with our brothers and sisters in Christ, our close friends, and our fellow believers in social media: these are battles that call us to stand for the Truth, to say the right thing, to do the right thing, to expose lies, to confront sin, to ask the hard questions, etc. But we must learn that the fact that there are many opportunities for us to pick a battle every hour doesn’t mean that we are responsible to fight every battle.

We must learn to carefully and prayerfully (that is the key word!) discern when when are we supposed to do or say something. We must resist the temptation to react before praying to see if we are indeed called to do something more than praying for that particular person or situation. have you considered why do we so easily forget -in a very practical way- that the effectual prayer of the righteous man availeth much (Jas. 5:16)?

Some other women may face the temptation of never picking up any kind of battles, they never leave their comfort zone, and are always afraid to stand for the Truth, they are never willing to do and say the right thing, to expose sin, to deal with it. This exhortation is also for them. We all need to learn to pick our battles carefully and prayerfully. We all need to learn to live this.

Picking up our battles carefully and prayerfully will help us grow into more mature Christian women who can rest knowing that the Lord is Sovereign and uses pastors, elders, deacons, parents, professors, husbands, etc. to keep His people from going astray and make the Church even more beautiful.

Under His sun and by His grace,

Becky

Because We Never Stop Being Moms -Book Club- Chapter Five

How was your week? Mine has been a mixture of everything: wonderful moments (visiting our dear friends in Las Vegas for a long weekend) and busy moments (having to catch up with all my papers to grade). But each day I have seen that I have been given more grace than what I’d have ever expected. God is good.

We are now in chapter five (half way through our book!), a chapter that mainly deals with three issues: being productive, financial responsibility, and living in community.

In this chapter the authors stir us up to consider how are we to live in community in our homes with our adult children when they are staying home for a season and for the good reasons. Newheiser warns us that “we might be tempted to micromanage their day or fly off the handle…” I agree. And even through distance, even if our children are off in college, we may face this same temptation because we are only a “text away” from them.

The authors recognize that not all the children of parents reading this book are Christians, so they remind their readers that “through common grace even a non-Christian can learn how to work hard and live productively in a community.” However, he also reminds us that we should never “lower our household standards to a level that would displease the Lord.

If we could summarize the suggestions the author gives us in the next part of the book we would have these main points:

1. Develop an open friendship with your children, so that they will be open to hearing our wise counsel when they ask for it (p.71). Maybe you can review your notes on chapter one as this was an important principle Newheiser laid clearly at the beginning of the book.

2. Parents must set expectations and make them known (p.72). And I particularly love that the author reminds us that “laying out these expectations is both wise and loving.

3. Expect them to be productive (p.72). Being lazy is a form of stealing, and not making the best use of our time is a sin. This sentence, in my opinion, summarizes the principle in a clear way:

“Rather that seeing a schedule as enslaving or as thwarting their creativity, our kids need to embrace it as the good means God has given, so that they might know the joy of accomplishing much for him (Prov.21:25).”

4. Young adults living at home should do an adult share of the housework (p.74). We have seen -and heard- this many times: children demanding to be respected and treated as adults but at the same time don’t want the full package of what it means being an adult. They want the privileges only but not the responsibilities.

“One twenty-one-year-old told us that he had learned that “nothing kills work ethic and discipline more effectively than the welfare state of parental indulgence.”

5. Establish reasonable moral standards (p.75). The reason, the motivation for this should be that we want to honor the Lord in our home. (Remember Eli and the way he neglected honoring God in his household?)

“We want to help our young people understand the difference between our negotiable house rules and timeless, biblical standards.”

6. Nothing is more important for living in community with others than trust (p.77).

7. Failure to meet expectations must result in consequences (p.78). I have found through many conversations with friends that trying to avoid the consequences we, parents, find ourselves tempted to overlook the lack of meeting of the expectations we have established beforehand. We are may times so much like Eli. We forget that God cannot be mocked, sooner or later the consequences of all our sins will come.

6. Follow through (p.80).

“Discipline is hard work and often unpleasant. “All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet those who have been trained by it afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness” /Heb.12:11). But we continue to discipline our children in the hope that God will work in their hearts to make them wise.”

7. Get good, godly counsel from your pastor or trusted friend and cry out to God for the courage to do the best, most loving thing for your young adult (p.81).

I purposely left out the point in which the author says that, forcing or not an adult child living at home to go to church is a matter of personal conscience on the part of the parents. And I did so because I think that in this particular issue, the godly counsel of the pastor would always be necessary.

What about you? Thoughts?

May God give us grace to parent well each one of our children through all the different seasons of their lives.

God is faithful and good, and in Him we can fully trust,

Becky

On Modesty: a Question for You, Sister, who are Tired of the Modesty Talk.

Yes, it happens in Mexico too. The “modesty talk,” and all the different opinions surrounding it. The arguments are the same, the same Bible verses about one’s liberty are also brought up. It should not surprise us, we are made of the same material here, in Brasil, in the USA, and Chile.

So, I won’t write another article to try to convince you that being immodest is a temptation for women, or that is a good, good thing to pursue modesty for the sake of God, your dad, your brothers in Christ, your future husband, your children, or your testimony (there are some who have done it wonderfully already).

I only have one question for you.

If you are a true believer and proclaim the love of Christ, why is it so hard for you to just say, 

“Because I love you, brothers and sisters in Christ, and because I have heard that the way I am dressing is a stumble block for many of you (I hadn’t stop to consider how hard it was for you to fight against pornography! Please, forgive me for not helping you!), I will just change the way I dress. No big problem at all. I love you more than I love this skirt or this top.”?

Please, dear Sister, try hard not to answer with one of the old arguments that you have already memorized. Answer this in the prayer closet (not over a coffee table with the group of friends whom you know will try to appease your conscience); be honest and give it a second thought. Pray about it, let the Scriptures speak to you and then answer it before God.

 

May God give us grace to love our neighbor as ourselves,

Becky