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Gossip

Speak the Truth:

Ephesians 4:29 Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. 

Talk the Talk:

Women like to talk!  We talk about everything.  Are we happy?  Are we sad?  Are we frustrated, mad, etc?  It really doesn’t matter.  We can be in most any mood and we still like to talk about our feelings and emotions.  I don’t know about you but I have a smorgasbord of words that bounce around in my head.  I contemplate and entertain many thoughts throughout my day.  And where there are thoughts……there are emotions.  I am once again under God’s conviction.  This time……Gossip!  I think there are degrees of gossip or maybe different kinds of gossip.  I do not divulge secrets or personal information.  That whole ‘talking about someone behind their back’ thing can get nasty and I have been on the receiving end of that type of gossip.  Here is the definition I found, gossip: a person who habitually reveals personal or sensational facts.  A rumor or report of an intimate nature.  A chatty talk.

Hmmm.  What does God’s Word have to say about gossip?  Proverbs has a lot to say.  A gossip betrays a confidence, but a trustworthy man keeps a secret (11:13).  The words of a gossip are like choice morsels, they go down to a man’s inmost parts (18:8). A perverse man stirs up dissension, and a gossip separates close friends (16:28).

I am guilty of sharing with others how I have been offended or how my feelings were hurt or the mean things that have been said or done to me.  What’s the big deal, right?  Everyone needs to vent.  Right.  We are correct in saying we need to get it out and avoid bottling our feelings up inside of us.  Imploding and exploding are no fun.  Think though.  Who are you sharing this stuff with?  You may be fortunate to have a best friend or a real confidant.  You may have a spouse you can really talk to.  I know I am blessed with both.  They will not betray my trust.  I vent.  They listen.  I feel better.  Then what?  They, the spouse, friend, or trusted one, now have a new perception of the offender.  Sigh.

I’m not saying there is anything wrong with having a confidant, but what I am saying is that oftentimes, we skip right over our God who knows it all, and right to ears who might not need to know.  Pray. Seek discernment.  Vent to Him.  God is more than capable of comforting us, holding us and redirecting our thoughts and feelings.  His opinion and love for you AND your offender are in tact.  His opinion is not swayed.  How awesome is that?

Walk the Walk:

Fact: I am a woman and I like to talk, and that is OK.  I have many things to share but join me in making a commitment to be mindful of what the Holy Spirit wants me to share and who He wants me to share it with.  Continually praising God for His love.

 
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Posted by on July 23, 2014 in Attitude, Health and Wellness

 

Clouds of Life

Speak the Truth

James 1:17 “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.”

Talk the Talk

During a recent walk on the beach—without my forgotten music player—my mind began to wander (I know—scary!) As I looked to the east, the sky was blue with no trace of clouds. Above me a variety of clouds dotted the sky, and to the west, some dark, ominous looking clouds were building up and threatening to unleash an unwanted storm. How comparable is this to life? We may be enjoying the status quo with no major setbacks, and with no outstanding or super exciting happenings. We may have just emerged from the stormy clouds of sorrow, failure, or despair. Perhaps, we could be approaching a “stormy” situation as challenges, uncertainty, or changes appear in our lives. We may have recently been on a mission trip, fed and clothed the homeless, given time or funding to our favorite charity, been in a Bible study that has made our desire for more of Him burn in our hearts. We may be on fire at the moment as His Word permeates our being. (as the sun beats down with no clouds) We may be in a place where the little clouds of this world have cooled the burning, and we are back to our “normal”, enjoying life in our comfortable walk. Throughout our faith walk and our earthly existence, we will experience a variety of clouds. The Good News is that God never changes. He is in the storms as we struggle through disappointments, setbacks, and failures. He is in the “mountain top highs” with the “Son” burning in our core, and He is in our normal, everyday lives. He is unchangeable, unmovable, unshakable, and unstoppable. The God who created the heavens and the earth, who always has been and always will be, is present everywhere at once.

Walk the Walk

As I meditated on the clouds of life, I also thought about the fact that I used to run—with music—the same path on the beach that I was now walking. Maybe, in my earlier years, I was rushing through life, with the hustle and bustle of work, my boys’ activities, and other distractions keeping me from realizing that God was there in all of it. He has and will always be there. What a blessing to know that He is there for all of us no matter what life brings. As Michael W. Smith sings in You Won’t Let Go , “You are the anchor for my soul, no matter what may come I know, you won’t let go.”

 

 

No such selfie……..

Speak the Truth:

I Samuel 16:7  But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.”

Talk the Talk:

So, here’s the thing.  2010 and the front facing camera brought in the all popular, all forgiving, all controllable SELFIE.  I am the guiltiest party of them all, much to my spouse’s chagrin.  Why has this phenomenon made a tidal wave?  Well, let’s think about it.  In the good ole’ days, AKA, at any point in the latter 20th century, one would have to take a roll of film to a location of choice and get that film developed, hoping that one or more shots came out in a flattering way.  We were stuck with poor lighting, double chins, misplaced hairs, closed eyes, bags, bulges, etc.  There was no delete and retake.  Only the most sophisticated photographers with high tech equipment could fix the picture everyone else would lay their eyes on.  However, the 21st century and the invention of smartphones won over most people with the power to control image, and therefore…..perception.

Which brings us to our verse. Gut level honesty moment: I squirm when I read this verse.  Have you ever tried to make eye contact with anyone for any amount of time, say five minutes?  If you haven’t tried this little experiment, give it a shot.  I dare you.  It is very uncomfortable.  We start to think……what are they looking at?  What do they see?  We want to break eye contact, adjust, and control perception.  We want to run what I like to call, The Show.  As people we can fake a lot of things, and oftentimes we can put on a spiritual show that would make any fellow pew sitter nod their head and say Amen.  Such is not the case with God Almighty, or as I have come to know Him, El Roi, the God who sees.  The Creator of the Universe sees straight through all attempts at filters, touch ups, and cropping.  He sees our intellect, what we are thinking. (Oh.)  He sees our emotions. (My.) He sees our will. (Word.)  I am ashamed to admit, but if I were to try and construct a selfie illustrating my thoughts, emotions and will on some days, girlfriend, there is no amount of editing that could make it worthy of tweeting.

Walk the Walk:

Nope, I am convinced the only way to take a selfie when it comes to the Lord is explained in Psalm 139:23-24.  In other words, drop the phones and step away from the camera.  His lens doesn’t lie, but praise Jesus because He is the filter.

Abba Father, El Roi,

Search me, O God, and know my heart!
Try me and know my thoughts![a]

And see if there be any grievous way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting![a]

We are Yours.

Amen

 

 

 

 
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Posted by on July 21, 2014 in Faith and Spirituality

 

Second Chances

Speak the Truth:

Hebrews 13:1-2

Let brotherly love continue.  Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.

Talk the Talk:

I heard her before I saw her in the parking lot that day.  She wasn’t yelling but rather pleading; pleading with the oldest of her three children to stop jumping, stop running, stop yelling, stop poking, stop flopping… stop Stop STOP!  I smiled at her and the “oldest” who appeared to be about three years old.  I went inside and it wasn’t long before I heard the familiar chorus of “Stop Devon” rising above the crowd.  It was one of those times that God quieted me and said, “Tammy look at her.  Really SEE her.”  She looked to be in her 20’s with three children who appeared to be 3, 2, and an infant in her carseat.  This totally explained the exhausted look and pleas for compliance she continually looped to her children.  I captured the blue ball that Devon threw down the aisle and returned it to him.  I put my hand on mama’s shoulder and said, “How are you today mama?  Looks like you’ve had a pretty active day.  Are you doing allright?”  She looked at me with bloodshot eyes and and quivering lip and began to cry.  I put my shopping basket down and wrapped my arms around her while she sobbed on my shoulder.  Was it awkward?  A little.  Two grown women, complete strangers hugging in the middle of the grocery store with two children swirling around us had to seem odd to at least one of the 20,000 people crammed into that store for Black Friday deals.  She explained how her cat had destroyed their small artificial tree, her husband was away for weeks at a time for work, the baby was allergic to anything and everything, and the bank was at $-17.00 til Monday.   She had $22.00 in cash for gas, some organic veggies to make baby food with, and to buy washcloths to use instead of wipes for baby girl who smiled endlessly the entire time.  Devon and little brother created their own vortex in the aisle wrestling around and somehow avoiding displays and product pyramids.  We hugged some more, talked about her strength and worth.  She allowed me to bless her babies with a gift card and we eventually parted ways.  That night I prayed for my new friend.  I felt as though I could have done more and hoped that someone else would be able to pick up where I left off in caring for this girl’s tender heart.
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The following day I listed some items for sale on a website for our area.  Baby clothes and toys had been collecting dust in a corner of my house and the extra cash would come in handy for Christmas.  A buyer set up a time to meet me that night and as I drove up I recognized her right away, along with Devon and the other two sweet children.  I walked over to her and hugged her marveling at God’s impeccable timing and divine placement.  I didn’t make any extra cash that day.  But I made a new friend and God made an astounding impression on both of us as He wove our paths together to reveal Himself on a mission of love and friendship.  You can bet I didn’t leave that particular divine appointment until I felt assured that I had done everything we were both placed there to do.   Social Media has ensured that I don’t lose her either.
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Walk the Walk:

This world is chaotic and time is of the essence when it comes to sharing the Hope and Love of Jesus.  We don’t always get second chances so we simply MUST be ready to love on those around us and shed light on the glorious fact that our Lord meets us right where we are; whether we are filled with hate, filled with love, drowning in depression, struggling with kids, questioning our sanity, or crying in the middle of a grocery store.  Take every chance you’ve got.  Anything less is wasting time and this is literally a life and death situation.  Stand ready.  Your chance is coming today.  Guaranteed.

 

Human Trafficking: Fighting For Those With No Voice

Speak the Truth

Psalm 31:8-9

“Speak up for those who have no voice, for the justice of all who are dispossessed. Speak up, judge righteously, and defend the cause of the oppressed and needy.”

Talk the Talk

Over the last couple of years, God has placed a heaviness upon my heart for those with no voice, who are sexually exploited. They are on my mind daily and it causes me to go to my knees crying out to God begging Him to intervene and to bring freedom and restoration to their lives. Most have been sold or stolen from their homes to become commercially trafficked sex slaves. My heart aches thinking of what the men, women and children go through on a daily basis across our world who have no means on their own to escape from their circumstances.

Ann Lovell served 13 years in Asia as a Christian worker in the Philippines, South Korea and Thailand. In Thailand, she and several co-workers initiated a ministry called heartweavers to exploited women in her city’s red-light district. Ann is a writer for the International Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention and the author of various articles and other publications. Last year, Ann co-led a break out session at the National Women’s Forum in Nashville, TN that I attended. In partnership with One Life Ministries and Kingdom Women of the International Mission Board, she wrote a bible study on confronting the exploiters. The following information on human trafficking is from the study that Ann authored. Please read closely and pray about what you can do to help.

Human trafficking is the illegal trade of people — especially women and children — for the purpose of commercial sexual exploitation or forced labor. The U.S. State Department estimates that 600,000 to 800,000 men, women and children are trafficked across international borders each year. UNICEF reports that nearly 2 million children work in the commercial sex industry worldwide. A modern-day form of slavery, human trafficking is tied with illegal arms as the second largest criminal industry in the world. The United Nations estimates that human trafficking generates $32 billion per year in income for exploiters.

Unfortunately oppression and exploitation are nothing new. The seeds of oppression date back to the third chapter of Genesis when Satan himself exploited Eve’s desire for relevance and manipulated her into disobeying God. Eve’s disobedience instantly broke humanity’s fellowship with God, and, in a sense, modified humanity’s spiritual DNA, causing us to forevermore be born “sinners.” Today, broken families, addiction, crime and exploitation are the physical manifestations of humanity’s spiritual brokenness. As Paul wrote, “creation groans,” yearning to be set free from the “bondage of corruption” (Romans 8:18-25).

God cares for the exploited. He hears their cries, and He prepares and calls His people to be a voice against exploitation and oppression. Is He calling you to be a voice for those who have no voice?

A number of evangelical Christian organizations are taking on the fight against exploitation and trafficking. God has uniquely prepared each of them to address oppression. One of the most notable is International Justice Mission (IJM) ijm.org, a Christian organization that works with law enforcement agencies around the world to bring freedom to men, women and children in forced labor or forced prostitution. While IJM focuses on intervention and rescue, OneLife (onelifematters.org) sponsors Gospel-focused ministries to at-risk and exploited women and children around the world. Rather than focusing on bringing women and children “out,” these workers bring the Gospel “in” to massage parlors, brothels and bars. Baptist Global Response (baptistglobalresponse.com), a Southern Baptist relief and development organization, also sponsors projects designed to relieve the suffering of the exploited, oppressed and vulnerable. God is using these men and women to bring hope and healing to victims of oppression and to bring justice to their oppressors.

 Walk the Walk

Isaiah 61:1

“The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners…”

So, what can we do to make others aware of human trafficking and that it indeed is real and happens right in our own backyards?

1. You can visit some of the following websites for information and ways that others are already intervening on behalf of those being exploited. Pray about getting involved and educating and making others aware that slavery still exists.

www.enditmovement.com

www.thea21campaign.org

www.ecpatusa.org

www.ijm.org

www.love146.org

www.notforsalecampaign.org

www.polarisproject.org

1 (888) 373-7888 is the Hotline number for Polaris Project which is a resource to connect victims of human-trafficking to a local source where they are for help.  It is also a hotline for people to call in tips, and also provides information and resources for lay people not connected to local rescue projects.

2. You can teach children about the signs of trafficking.

3. You can pray. Please pray that both physically and spiritually, freedom and restoration would come to those being trafficked. It is a war. We need to be an army of prayer warriors praying and interceding to the One True God for those being exploited. He hears our cries on their behalf.

God can do immeasurably more and perform miracles in lives to make His name known to the world for His glory! Please pray with me to this end!

http://www.commissionstories.com/eurasia/humantrafficking

IMG_8522

 

 

 

 
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Posted by on July 17, 2014 in Missions and Discipleship

 

Pressing Toward The Goal

Speak the Truth

Hebrews 12:1b “…and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us.”

Talk the Talk

A motivator that outshines all other motivators issued a 30 Miles in 30 Days challenge. Energetic, enthusiastic, encourager, and leader are just a few words that describe this lady. She not only exhibits these qualities in the fitness areas, but she uses these qualities to glorify God in every aspect of her life. That being said, many people jumped, walked, ran, or crawled to enlist in this invitation to “get moving”. Some participants are slow and steady; some skilled and fast; some–like me–playing “catch-up”; some banking extra for the days when they will have other obligations. Reading the posts about various techniques being used, and observing the encouragement shared among the group, has been fun and beneficial.

Seeing this enthusiasm made me wonder what would happen if a challenge was offered for spiritual reasons (for example, reading the 4 Gospels in 30 days). Would we be motivated to share, “I read 4 chapters today” or “I was so charged reading God’s Word that I completed 10 chapters without even stopping for a break”?

Think of the millions of people nationally and internationally who become so involved with sporting events (Olympics, World Cup, national championship games, car races, even weekly and daily football, baseball, basketball games.) Some people are moved to tears, or become sick or depressed if their team loses. If only we could channel this passion to reading scripture, to prayer time, to serving others, to working at bringing the lost to Christ. We may not experience immediate results. We won’t receive a trophy, a medal, a championship ring. But, as Philippians 3:14 says, “I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” This goal offers us eternal life. The reward for accepting this challenge will be “Heavenly”.

Walk the Walk

Challenge yourself, a friend, a spouse, a co-worker, or a group of people to reading a section of the Bible in a certain allotted time, or adding extra prayer time to your schedule for a given amount of days, or setting a goal to serve others (feeding the homeless, working at the pregnancy center, visiting a nursing home, serving or giving time to your church). Be accountable and become renewed, revived, and restored.

 

You’re Invited

Speak the Truth:

1 Now on the twenty-fourth day of this month the people of Israel were assembled with fasting and in sackcloth, and with earth on their heads. 2 And the Israelites separated themselves from all foreigners and stood and confessed their sins and the iniquities of their fathers. 3 And they stood up in their place and read from the Book of the Law of the LORD their God for a quarter of the day; for another quarter of it they made confession and worshiped the LORD their God. 4 On the stairs of the Levites stood Jeshua, Bani, Kadmiel, Shebaniah, Bunni, Sherebiah, Bani, and Chenani; and they cried with a loud voice to the LORD their God. 5 Then the Levites, Jeshua, Kadmiel, Bani, Hashabneiah, Sherebiah, Hodiah, Shebaniah, and Pethahiah, said, “Stand up and bless the LORD your God from everlasting to everlasting. Blessed be your glorious name, which is exalted above all blessing and praise.

(Nehemiah 9:1-5 ESV)

Talk the Talk:

Turn off the television. Leave the dishes in the sink.

God is waiting for you.

This is not an invitation to attempt “quiet time.” I don’t know about you, but I dislike that term; it is loaded with failure.

This is an invitation to be at peace with God. Sometimes, with the busyness and chaos and failures of life, we really do feel that we need an invitation to approach Him. Well, here it is, my dear:

chalkboardinvite2

I recently attended a humongous national women’s conference. I’d never been to something like this before so I wasn’t sure what to expect. Even though I had hoped to go with a group of friends, God led me there on my own. I felt lonely, especially during the lunch breaks and dinner breaks. Groups of women were huddled together with delivered pizza or deciding whose decked out minivan they would take to Carrabba’s. My hopes rose merely to surviving the no-longer-chilled lunchmeat in my cheap lunch bag. I felt very small. As it turned out, this was a good thing.

I was very vulnerable at this conference. I didn’t have a cocoon of friends and familiarity with which to tranquilize myself. I was like Shrek, removed from his swamp and wandering through some unfamiliar fairy tale land and, to be completely transparent, a little bit bitter about it. Like Shrek, I am hard and ogre-y on the outside but a complete softy on the inside and this conference was the land of Far, Far Away.

One of the workshops I chose was focused on prayer. The speaker called it an invitation to pester God. She spoke of some of her struggles with prayer and things that have helped her over the years. She closed with inviting us to pray for as little or as long as we needed and this is where God renewed me in an extraordinary way. Even as I began to pray, it was different. My heart felt such relief just in closing my eyes and bowing my head before I ever thought my first words of prayer. When the words came, they were different. It was still my voice praying inside my head, but they weren’t my words. I would know because I pray like a five-year-old and these words were so very precise in expressing my desire for God to renew my ogre-y heart into one that’s full of Christ. I knew I was struggling with a couple of sins that I wasn’t sure how to deal with, but there was also something else that just wasn’t right in my heart but I wasn’t even sure what it was. In this time of prayer, God rained down so much clarity on my heart and I couldn’t confess my icky junk fast enough! I can’t remember the last time I have ever felt so refreshed and alive. I cried during the time of worship that later followed. I cried after the sermon. I cried in the car on the way to the hotel. I cried in the hotel. I knew I had found something that I didn’t know was waiting for me at the conference and I felt so overjoyed in this renewal that I skipped the last day and cried some more on the turnpike as I drove home, one arm raised to the roof of my car praising God for what He had done. I couldn’t wait for my husband to see this new woman I had become.

 

Walk the Walk:

The sermon that followed this prayer was reinforcement to the work God did in my heart during the prayer itself. You can listen to it here and I highly recommend it: http://www.desiringgod.org/conference-messages/responding-to-god-according-to-his-word

So now I’d like to close in prayer. I’ve written a prayer to help you get started. You may pray any part of it as you see fit or ditch the whole thing, but whatever you do, pray. Go to Him! Take your time. Accept your invitation to be at peace with God.

Father in heaven,

I come to you in the name of Jesus. My heart cries out for You. I am suffocating under the weight of my sins and I am blind to what many of them even are. Humble me and reveal my heart to me. Help me see so that I can know and confess all of the ways I have betrayed You and rejected You with my heart, mind, and actions.

I confess: ______________.

Jesus, thank You for taking my place on the cross so that I could even have this chance to confess my sins and be forgiven. Thank You, Lord, for Your forgiveness! Please walk close with me in my repentance; strengthen me when I am tempted and hold me tight, then show me the way toward holiness in every temptation and situation I face.

You are my Lord, my God, my Savior, and I love You.

Amen

 

 

 
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Posted by on July 15, 2014 in Uncategorized

 
 
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Angela Thomas

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