Prescription for Peace

“Don’t repay evil for evil. Don’t retaliate with insults when people insult you. Instead, pay them back with a blessing. That is what God has called you to do, and he will bless you for it.” (1 Peter 3:9 NLT)

When someone hurts us,  its’ only normal to want to hurt them back, but Jesus is giving us a better way to handle things here.   You know,  arguments almost never escalate when you refuse to “pay back” hurt for hurt.  If you concentrate on paying back a blessing instead ( yep, I know it’s really hard to do that sometimes),  your focus is immediately off your hurt and onto more positive things.  And God said here that if you bless this hurtful person….He, himself,  will bless you!  Wow!  The hanger of the stars will bless us.  if we will just bless instead of blast this other  person…I don’t know about you but I’m totally up for that!  I can give up the seeming satisfaction of blasting back a hurtful comment,  for the absolute awesomeness of  a blessing from the Most High God. 

This paying back a blessing doesn’t seem fair, but it’s God’s job to repay, and he says ” I will repay”.   I can rest in the realization that God’s got the payback covered.  I don’t need to be bothered with score-keeping. 

It’s not easy for sure ( especially during menopause hehe )  but scripture says to be proactive about  peace…SEARCH for it and WORK to maintain it. 

0 For the Scriptures say,

“If you want to enjoy life
    and see many happy days,
keep your tongue from speaking evil
    and your lips from telling lies.
11 Turn away from evil and do good.
    Search for peace, and work to maintain it.
12 The eyes of the Lord watch over those who do right,
    and his ears are open to their prayers.
But the Lord turns his face
    against those who do evil.”[a]

1 Peter 3:10-12 NLT

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Content to be yourself.

Matthew 5:5
“You’re blessed when you’re content with just who you are—no more, no less. That’s the moment you find yourselves proud owners of everything that can’t be bought

Matthew 23;11-12“Do you want to stand out? Then step down. Be a servant. If you puff yourself up, you’ll get the wind knocked out of you. But if you’re content to simply be yourself, your life will count for plenty.
So relax ….. God knows your shortfalls, He made you.  There is something so awesome about being in the presence of someone who is content with who they are….comfortable in their own skin.   Isn’t it stressful to be in the presence of someone who isn’t content with who they are,  but are rather insecure about who they are?  Insecure people seem to need constant affirmation or attention.    They tend to be either very judgmental,  because they have to bring others down to feel better about themselves, or they are addicted to the approval of others.  I was the latter.  I was shackled -up to the opinion of others.  I was discontent with who I was,  and so sought the approval of other people to the point that it controlled me.  Nothing was more awful than when I was in a situation where  I couldn’t please everyone.    For  so many years I struggled to be content with who God made me to be.  I compared myself to other people, and to their gifts, talents, circumstances, successes.  I diminished everything God was doing for me and had done for me , because I wasn’t content with just who He had made me to be.    It was a special kind of bondage that God wanted to free me from.
The Lord definitely wants to grow us in grace and knowledge, becoming more Christlike as we abide in Him.   He also wants us to be free in the contentment of who He made us to be…..but if you’re content to be yourself, your life will count for plenty.
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Content with second place

Colossians 3:12-14

So, chosen by God for this new life of love, dress in the wardrobe God picked out for you: compassion, kindness, humility, quiet strength, discipline. Be even-tempered, content with second place, quick to forgive an offense. Forgive as quickly and completely as the Master forgave you. And regardless of what else you put on, wear love. It’s your basic, all-purpose garment. Never be without it.
When I “dress” myself in Christ, I decide to be content with second place.   Second, after Christ himself….second, after my husband…. second, after the woman at work who gets on my nerves…..second.   Our culture is soooo not “ok” with this concept.   We live in a “me first” society.   Love  says “you first”, my nature says “me first”.    “WHAT ABOUT  ME?!”
You know, there is so much peace to be had with a “you first” mentality.  I don’t have to keep mental tally in my marriage and in my relationships of how much I’ve done, versus how much they’ve done.    I just let the Lord show me how He wants me to serve and I do it.  If someone takes advantage of me, I just consider it a second mile investment.
Matthew 5:41

If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles.
Scripture says, do twice as much for the person taking advantage of you as they are wanting you to do.  Wow! that’s a culturally crazy statement huh??
Being clothed in Christ, being content with second place,  is typically not “in style”, as the world determines style….. but you’ll always look sooo beautiful in it.    The world will say “put on your boxing gloves”, Christ says put on humility instead and be content with second place.
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The wardrobe God picked out for you

Colossians 3:12-14

So, chosen by God for this new life of love, dress in the wardrobe God picked out for you: compassion, kindness, humility, quiet strength, discipline. Be even-tempered, content with second place, quick to forgive an offense. Forgive as quickly and completely as the Master forgave you. And regardless of what else you put on, wear love. It’s your basic, all-purpose garment. Never be without it.
I don’t know about you but I have a closet full of clothes and shoes, way more than I actually need.  I have clothes for different occasions and well, for different sizes hehe.  In the US especially, we’re careful to follow the “dress code” on the invitation.  What exactly is business casual anyway???  You know none of the clothes in my closet do me any good unless I put them on.  I’d just show up in my jammies, unless I go to my closet and put on my outfit.  How carefully we choose what we wear….  Does this make me look fat?  Is this a good color for me?    I should never,  under any circumstances wear skinny jeans…what a misnomer!  They should call them fat jeans if you ask me…. and don’t even get me started on jeggings… a cross between jeans and leggings??? what????    I’m a big fan of ” not your daughter’s jeans” they are reinforced with bungee cords.
I spoke at a conference a few months ago and their theme was “Clothed in Christ- Col. 3:12-14.  As I meditated on this scripture, I became convicted about how much time I spend on how I look on the outside,  verses how much time I spend  on how I look on the inside.
The clothing of Christ must be put on, there’s an action required of me in order to wear it.  I don’t naturally look like this,  so I dress myself in the clothing of Christ.
My own nature wants to be first place, to hold grudges, to be unkind when I feel like it.  I want to have my opinion known and to be loving only when I feel like it.  When I choose to put on Christ, He gives me the power to wear these things….they fit perfectly. And in the economy of Heaven, even though they are “others focused” they tend to make me look great too.
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reality not an illusion….

My purpose in writing is simply this: that you who believe in God’s Son will know beyond the shadow of a doubt that you have eternal life, the reality and not the illusion.  1 John 5:14 MSG

You know I’m not the perfect pastor’s wife.  I’ll be the first to admit, I  just don’t have it all together.  For one thing, I’m not organized and my house is usually a complete wreck

( “cleanliness is next to godliness” is not in fact in the bible, just so ya know)

Several years ago my husband Barry was, at the time,  a minister of music and senior adults, and he was bringing the seniors group ( about 50 of them) to my house for a surprise destination trip.  Well, if they could’ve seen my house that morning they certainly would’ve been surprised!    I was cleaning like a mad woman all morning …you know throwing dirty dishes in the oven and stuffing toys in the washer and dryer.  Whew!  I was finally upstairs in my bathroom trying to throw on my make up, you know, to make it look like I had been calmly waiting for them to appear at my immaculate house….cuz it always looked that way. hehe.  When my son Kent, who was about 6 at the time, popped into the bathroom holding a t-shirt above his head….one sleeve in each arm.

” Mom, does this look like a parachute to you?”  I was in such a rush and not really paying attention, I just said “sure buddy, that looks a lot like a parachute to me.” ..like get out of here and let me get my face on will ya?   Well, Kent had always been absolutely fascinated with our 2-1/2 story foyer, about the time the light bulb was appearing above my head, I heard WHAM!!  I rushed out to look over the banister at the foyer floor….you guessed it!  There was Kent, face-planted on the parquet still, holding his “parachute”.  Poor baby!    He lifted his little head, looked up and said…”mamma, it looks like a parachute, but it ain’t one.

There are sooo many things like that “parachute” out in the world today.  Ideas and ideals  that look like you could count on them to save you, only to have them  leave you face-planted on the parquet.  Don’t trust your future and eternity to something that looks like it might work.  Trust what the maker of the universe says will absolutely work.

You can know “beyond the shadow of a doubt that you have eternal life, the reality and not the illusion. And how bold and free we then become in his presence, freely asking according to his will, sure that he’s listening. And if we’re confident that he’s listening, we know that what we’ve asked for is as good as ours.” 1 John 5:14-15 MSG ( emphasis mine)

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Forgot I could fly

My daughter is an incredible young woman, we are crazy blessed to have her in our lives!    She has overcome some seemingly insurmountable obstacles in her young life but those very obstacles have made her into  the young woman of God she is today.  She’s learned that God works everything for good….even things that don’t feel good.  And if you ever forget you can fly, He’ll be there to remind you.   I hope her journey will encourage you.

At 16, Kristen pulled out in front of an 18-wheeler going 60 mph…she ended up in the ER with  a concussion….the car was demolished.    The paramedic was a believer and actually hung around the ER to tell me that the Lord saved Kristen’s life that day.  He said ” I don’t want you to miss what God did for you today Mrs Voorhies, when I drove up to that accident, I thought I would be pulling dead bodies out of that car.”  WOW! Thanks Jesus!

Fast forward 5 years,  Kristen is 2 weeks from graduating from Union University with a degree in music.  She’s been on the college worship team, writing…singing…hopeful about what the future holds.   Then….just 2 weeks from graduating, she’s dancing and singing in an end -of- year variety show and is dropped on her head and gets another concussion.

Over the next few weeks it becomes incredibly painful to sing and her 4 octave range becomes just 4 notes.  We began taking her to doctors, and no one had any idea why she couldn’t sing.  Kristen becomes so broken-hearted and discouraged..hopeless.  Had God brought her this far to leave her?  It was so tough to watch her struggle to hold on to God’s promises and purposes in the middle of confusion and pain.

Finally,  we had scheduled a Tonsillectomy ( the doctor wasn’t sure it would help but didn’t know what else to recommend) as a last attempt.  We were praying as a family for God to show us a way to help her.   Then, a few days before the surgery,  my husband remembered that 25 years ago an older doctor at Vanderbilt University helped  him to recover from serious vocal issues.  Barry made an appointment at the very same clinic, not thinking Dr. Cleveland would still be practicing, but maybe someone there could help.    As Kristen is being seen, my husband tells the doctor how a Dr. Cleveland, some 25 years ago, helped save his voice and how grateful he was.  The doctor said “well he’s right next door why don’t you tell him yourself.”    As it turns out Dr Cleveland was still practicing after all those years and within no time diagnoses Kristen’s vocal problems.  It had been the head injuries, and after 6 mos of rehab her voice is nearly 100% back. Thanks Jesus!  

Soooo this song is Kristen’s heart’s song…. for a while there, she forgot she could fly.  You can feel free to click and listen to the excerpt for free, or buy it if you like……just in case you ever forget you can fly.

http://itunes.apple.com/us/album/you-are-my-wings-single/id595786291

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Love like that

Valentine’s Day is everyday for the lover of your soul!  You are his beloved, his bride, his own.  He thinks you are drop-dead gorgeous!  There are no “bad hair” days with Jesus my friend,  He always thinks you’re stunning!!!    Valentine’s Day may be awesome or awful for you as it relates to romance, but know this,  you are loved extravagantly by the one who knows you best!  So if you’re feeling a bit  romance-deficient today, meditate on the way he loves you and then go love someone else in the same way.    ” His love is not cautious but extravagant”     Hang out with God( meditate on His word and listen ) and watch how He loves and love like that.  Lavish love on someone without expecting anything in return…not romantic love, but  lay- down- your- life- for- your- friend kind of love.       Invest in, listen, encourage, help  someone everyday,  without looking for a payback.   Love like that…..live like that.   Your life will be soooo full of grace and love, that  everyday will feel like the best Valentine’s Day EVER !

Ephesians 5:1-2

Watch what God does, and then you do it, like children who learn proper behavior from their parents. Mostly what God does is love you. Keep company with him and learn a life of love. Observe how Christ loved us. His love was not cautious but extravagant. He didn’t love in order to get something from us but to give everything of himself to us. Love like that.

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