Sacrifice of Praise

Let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name. Hebrews 13:15 King James Version

 How do you get to a point of giving God a “sacrifice of praise” when you have been hurt or when you have hurt someone?

We have all been there (some more painful than others) and at times have trouble turning a painful situation into an item of praise to God – a stepping stone for spiritual growth. But let me assure you…

…if you do not turn pain into a sacrifice of praise, the pain ­will hinder your walk with the Lord.

Healing from the pain of a broken bone is far easier than healing from emotional pain. I grew up in a home where I was sheltered from a lot of emotional pain, so dealing with gossip, hearing cruel things about myself, or learning that I have hurt someone is difficult for me. I have a Pollyanna-type personality that wants everyone to be happy.

I gave you that bit of information to say – if I can turn emotional pain into a sacrifice of praise, you can do it too.

One of the most painful things that ever happened to me involved gossip against Cerwin and me. It happened several years ago after an incident at our house while we were on vacation. We learned about it six or seven weeks later during the early part of the gossip. We tried to bring peace to those who were offended. It was probably eight months later when a godly man approached Cerwin and told him how angry he was at us for serving beer to underage young people. He was especially offended because of what we represent in our ministry with TFC and the church we attend. What? We do not allow alcohol in our house nor do we drink alcohol of any kind. But, before confronting Cerwin, this man learned the truth and came to apologize for his bitter feelings toward us. Wow! How did the gossip trail get to that strange place?

The gossip was more painful to me than the actual situation – especially because it traveled way beyond our circle of friends and church family. How many other people heard the incorrect information? There was great temptation to be angry or even quit serving with TFC because of the humiliation. But, I didn’t have to think about that very long before I saw the “footprints” of Satan.

Sometimes I wish there had been just one person who had stopped the gossip early in its journey and said, “Wait a minute. I know Cerwin and Doris better than that, let’s ask them about it.”

It still bothers me on occasion (like in the next situation). Other times I smile and know in my heart that this bit of pain and humiliation was nothing compared to what many people have faced or what Christ faced when he was misunderstood and even crucified.

It was about a year after the man approached Cerwin that a woman came up to one of our children and hissed, “You must have the most awful mother in the world.” Our child (an adult) did not know the person, or why it was said, and was too surprised to ask. Had this person heard the gossip or had I or our child angered her in some way? I don’t even know who it is to ask what I have done.

How did I turn that pain into a sacrifice of praise? It has become a huge stepping stone for me to be careful what I believe and say when I hear gossip or bits and pieces from an unsettled, difficult situation. My faith in God has become stronger and I have become more patient and established in waiting on God.

I have done some things that caused my own pain.

Because I love to capture life in pictures, you won’t find it surprising that I have offended people by pictures I have posted on Facebook or in my blog. Even when I meant to honor someone or something, my carelessness or eagerness to share a story caused them humiliation or pain. I didn’t try to make them angry, but it did. Other times I learn that someone is offended because I didn’t post a picture.

Because I want everyone to be happy – their frustration causes me great pain. How did I turn my pain into a sacrifice of praise? I could do what my flesh feels like doing at times, and just quit taking and posting pictures. But I know that it is God who gave me a passion for capturing life in photographs, so I have become more cautious in what I post and more creative in how I do it without always showing faces.

When I have trouble forgiving myself or feel that someone hasn’t forgiven me I try to do something positive – something to share the love of God with others – my sacrifice of praise.

It’s what propelled me to turn some of my photos into Bible verses.

Give Them Love Anyway

I love what Ann Voskamp posted on Instagram today  – and since I don’t have time to post pictures tonight, I am sharing part of it with you. If you want to see the rest, go to: https://www.instagram.com/annvoskamp/

Giving isn’t about what you have in your hands — it’s what you have in your heart. .And never doubt it
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An act of kindness, giving it forward, can be more powerful than a sword in starting needed revolutions.
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True, people may be angry,
Give them love anyway.
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People may not like your way,
Give them kindness anyway.
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People may be divisive,
Give them dignity anyway.
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People may be indifferent,
Give them genuine attention anyway.
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People may build fences,
Give them a gate anyway.
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People may disagree with you,
Give them space at the table anyway.
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People may climb over each other to get ahead
Give them a bit of your heart anyway.
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Because honestly?
Giving kindness is how to give sight and hearing to those who hearts may be blind and deaf.

A Lesson from Fighting Hummingbirds

This morning I watched a pair of hummingbirds fight over the sweet syrup I have in one of our five feeders.

1 (1)As soon as one got near the feeder, the other chased it away. I couldn’t tell if one was the aggressor (as often happens) or if both were being selfish.

Because they fly and swoop so quickly, I never did get a shot with both in the same picture.

1 (4)They fought for a full fifteen minutes – never letting the other one at the syrup.

I would have liked to tell them to share – that there is enough syrup for both of them because there are four other feeders and each is filled with fresh syrup. 🙂

PS: I am writing this eight hours after taking these pictures – and they are back at it again. 🙂

Both will starve if they keep this up.

1 (2)As I watched them, I thought about the many times Christians do the same thing – fight over a spiritual matter – even though there is enough “sweet stuff” for everyone.

Psalm 119:113 reminds us that God’s Word and its teachings are sweeter than honey.

There is enough for each of us, but when we fight, no one is feasting on the sweet Word of God.

Could that be part of the reason why there is great spiritual starvation in our nation and in the world – because of selfishness and fighting within the Church.

DSC_5599I smiled when I saw this one on a high branch – waiting for the other – to make sure it wouldn’t take its syrup. However, the entire time it sat here it could not take in the fresh, sweet syrup that I put out yesterday.

How many times do people (including me) do that? Sit self-righteously – from what we think is a high place – looking down on those we do not understand – those who make mistakes or even blatantly sin.

How much of God’s sweet nectar (His Word) do we miss because our attitude is feasting on anger, selfishness, or jealously?

DSC_5572Then I saw something that made me smile. While those two fought over the syrup in one feeder, this one peacefully drank from another.

Selfish, controlling Christians can starve spiritually while others are peacefully drinking in God’s Word.

DSC_5594Then I noticed another feeder – something of another species.

Could this represent a Christian from another denomination or country – someone who looks and thinks differently than you or me.  Maybe it’s someone with whom we strongly disagree. Consider that this person may be taking in the sweet Word of God while you or I sit in a self-righteous high place – starving spiritually – while trying to be in control.

~~~

I love when God teaches me lessons from nature.

Godly Ways to Deal with Negative People & Situations

never give away

Godly Ways to Deal with Negative People & Situations

Things that God and life have taught me.
By Doris J. High

Introduction

If you are interacting with negative people (and who doesn’t?) and they are people you have to deal with on a regular basis – like a friend, spouse, family member, or coworker – you should never blame them.

Never give your inner peace away by blaming others for what you feel or don’t feel.

That is indeed what you do when you blame another person for your reaction. The moment you give away your inner peace, you become a victim of your circumstances and you begin a pattern of living under your circumstances instead of above them. Blaming another person or circumstance for your problems or thought life will take up way too much of your time and energy, causing you to get stuck (sometimes even lost) in a really dark place – maybe for a very long time.

Sometimes other people do not know they are negative or that they are affecting you in a negative way. Other times you and they know there is negativity going on and you are both trapped in a pattern of being unkind or negative to each other.

The following is what has worked for me in dealing with those who seem to have been born on the negative side of life. I do not get this right every day. Sometimes negative people cause me to internalize a situation and I fail to assume responsibility for my thought pattern. This is not all inclusive, but a beginning – a goal.

Assume Responsibility

If you do not assume responsibility for your thoughts, you will become a victim – the kind of person who goes nowhere and does nothing because you might run into the people who hurt you or someone else in your life. If you do not assume responsibility for your thoughts, every negative situation will drain your energy and drag you down.

Use each situation to your advantage. When you are in the same place as negative people – church, family gathering, work-related meeting, or place of business – treat them like you want to be treated. Treat them like they are valuable to you. If they avoid you, try again at a later date. Only you can assume responsibility for your part in the situation. You cannot make the other person assume their part of the responsibility. Only God can do that, and He may begin working in their life if you do your part.

Remember their birthdays, anniversaries, and special occasions; extend sympathy on the death of a loved one. Express concern if they are ill. When you hear someone say something nice about them, call, text, write, or email them a note.  Keep on doing that, even if they don’t respond or seem to care about any of your special dates or pain.

Ask God to give you wisdom for assuming this kind of responsibility. Ask Him to give you creative ideas in encouraging those who are negative and unforgiving. Make others wonder how you can be at peace and live in joy during painful, negative situations. Assume responsibility for your reaction.

Don’t Take Your Thoughts Too Seriously

This is one of the most powerful lessons I have learned from God and from life because it is one of Satan’s most powerful tools – especially at night – because our minds are constantly looking for trouble.

Change your focus. For me this is easier during the day, because I think more rationally then, and I can easily go to a Bible verse that is powerful for me in negative moments. If this happens during the night and I know that I cannot go back to sleep because of the negative whirlwind in my mind, I get out of bed, go to my favorite recliner, read Bible verses or listen to songs that shift my focus. Christian radio or TV help me change a thinking pattern. (I do this whenever I can’t sleep – even if I don’t have anything negative going on in my mind. Maybe I just had too much caffeine after lunch.)

Maybe your negative thought pattern is not concerning a person, but a situation like the death of a loved one or something awful that has happened in your life – like abuse or a traffic accident. Maybe your negative thought pattern is worry.

Be patient with yourself and give God time, but never give up on moving toward assuming responsibility for your thought pattern. If you give up, you will move toward a dark, negative place. Happiness and peace of mind do not come to those who give up practicing God’s presence or remembering the teachings of Jesus. Reread the beatitudes. Write down any verses or quotes that help guide you toward peace of mind. Keep them in your face at work and in your house.

If it is more than you can handle, please get help with a professional.

Let Go of the Need to Complain

Ouch! That one hits me sometimes, and I have learned that complaining only drives me into another negative thought pattern. There are times to share concerns with the proper person – but do it in a positive way. If we share it in a negative, whining way – even to our spouse, good friend, sibling, or co-worker – it will also drag them down. When we do that, we become the “negative person” in their life.

When we complain we are not assuming responsibility for our part of the situation. The Bible says we should do all things without complaining. My greatest motivation to keep from complaining is 1 Corinthians 10:10 (The Voice): You need to stop your groaning and whining. Remember the story. Some of them complained, and the messenger of death came for them and destroyed them. (That is in reference to the children of Israel and their desert wandering.) Read 1 Corinthians 10. You will notice that complaining is listed with some of the sins that we consider awful – separating us from God.

Complaining is sin and a waste of time.

Focus on God and Good Things

Focus on the good things about a negative person and the good things in life. Be the person who changes “your world.” We can’t change other people, their situations, or even some of our situations. Death, divorce, pain, and all kinds of negative things will happen in your world and theirs.

Encourage others to focus on good things. Help yourself focus on good things. Those who know me know that photography is something I love. It is a fabulous way to change focus. I have learned to look for light and shadows that I never noticed before. Setting up and posting Bible verses (using one of my photos) on my blog and Facebook each morning is amazing therapy toward training my thought life for the day. On difficult days I go back to the verse many times, because it helps me refocus. Counted cross-stitch is another thing that helps me change focus because it takes a lot of concentration. There are other things I enjoy during my down time, like computer games, but I find they are only good for me when I am exhausted from work and need to do something mindless. If I play them when I am feeling negative about something, they give me too much time to think.

Find things that help you focus on good – it may be cooking, exercising, volunteering, scrapbooking, writing, or painting. Find your focus. Always include Bible reading and good books. I love autobiographies.

When you are with a person who causes you to move toward negativity, work even harder at not thinking or being negative. Withdrawing from them or saying snippy remarks will not help them or you to change focus, plus when we do that, we are not assuming responsibility for our own thought process. You may have to walk away for a bit or purposefully listen. (Sometimes I have to do this by putting my finger over my mouth to remind me to listen and not talk.) 🙂

Summing up: Be agreeable, be sympathetic, be loving, be compassionate, be humble. That goes for all of you, no exceptions. No retaliation. No sharp-tongued sarcasm. Instead, bless—that’s your job, to bless. You’ll be a blessing and also get a blessing. Whoever wants to embrace life and see the day fill up with good, here’s what you do: Say nothing evil or hurtful; snub evil and cultivate good; run after peace for all you’re worth. 1 Peter 3:8-11The Message

Conclusion

Assume responsibility for your own thoughts and emotions.

Don’t take your thoughts too seriously.

Let go of the need to complain

Focus on God and good things.

Never give your inner peace away to a bad situation or another person’s negativity.

From My Praise & Prayer Journal For Today – November 19

PRAISE

Thank You, Lord, for the people who have been and are a blessing to me

  • My parents
  • Cerwin’s parents
  • My step-mother
  • Cerwin
  • sons – sons-in-law
  • daughters – daughters-in-law
  • grandsons – granddaughters
  • grandsons-in-law
  • great-grandson
  • brothers – sisters – brothers-in-law – sisters-in-law
  • step brothers – step sisters – step family
  • aunts – uncles – nieces – nephews – extended family
  • friends – neighbors
  • colleagues – ministry partners
  • blog – Facebook friends
  • pastors – teachers
  • Church family
  • doctor – nurses – medical technicians
  • dentist – dental assistants
  • postal workers – store clerks
  • firemen – policemen
  • computer and software technicians

Thank You for the many ways you use these people to meet my needs

  • brighten my path
  • lighten my load
  • enrich my knowledge of You
  • counsel
  • correct
  • nourish
  • build up my faith.

But most of all I thank You

  • for being my best friend
  • for meeting needs that nobody else can meet
  • because people at their best cannot meet my deepest needs.

PRAYER

The prayer of a person living right with God is something powerful to be reckoned with. James 5:16 The Message

  • Lord, I want my prayers to be something powerful to be reckoned with.

I need Your help today to stay focused on You.

  • Empower me as I begin another day of active duty in spiritual warfare.
  • Stay in my face – intrude in my life
  • Keep me from stupid sins, from thinking I can take over your work.

Because You are my shepherd – I have everything I need.

  • You WILL provide.

Remind me that:

  • Love is kind.
  • Love does not give up.
  • If I want to embrace life and see this day fill up with good. I must cultivate good. I must run after peace for all I am worth. 1 Peter 3:10-2 (The Message)

I love remembering that You are as close to me as the clothes I wear.

  • (Romans 13:14 CEV)

I love setting my heart to serve you at the beginning of each day.

Today 

  • I want to be a vessel of Your powerful Spirit
  • Part of the “bride of Christ”.
  • Remind me to give up my own desires,
    • to not plan my own rescue strategy.
    • our children’s rescue strategy
    • our grandchildren’s rescue strategy

I want to lay down my desires and let them go.   

I want to be a “Resurrection Person.

  • Surrendered to Your will
  • One who believes that hope rises from dead places
  • That impossible stones can be rolled away.

Amen