What Comes out of my Mouth

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A good person produces good things from the treasury of a good heart, and an evil person produces evil things from the treasury of an evil heart. What you say flows from what is in your heart. Luke 6:45

The server didn’t deliver my food as I had ordered. I wasn’t too upset… I mean, he left the bacon on my salad! I love bacon! But I was trying to eat healthier that day. I chose not to say anything about it and go on. Surrounded by some of my favorite people, we were meeting to discuss ministry matter with two of our Pastors, and the ReEngage leadership team – a marriage ministry that my husband and I help lead.

When everyone had their food and after we had given thanks, one of our Pastors made a comment about how amazing the server was, that he had remembered everything we ordered without writing anything down. There were 10 of us so this was quite a feat! This next moment I keep replaying over and over in my mind, as I blurted out “He didn’t remember everything!” while oozing contempt if only for a second. My friend next to me kindly pointed out that he was right behind me, with the dressing I had asked him to bring.

Open mouth, insert foot.

I’m certain I turned all shades of red as I realized what happened and everyone at the table just sat there momentarily in silence, not knowing what to say or how to react. My stomach was sick and I was stunned at my outburst. I didn’t think about it before I spoke. I just spoke.

Management found out about it and came to apologize, offering desserts to our entire table. I politely declined and explained that I was not in the least bit upset. I’m not certain anyone believed me. In fact, I wasn’t certain what I felt at the time either. After our lunch meeting continued on, I struggled to focus. I genuinely felt bad for the server. I’ve been in those shoes and that job is NOT easy. So near the end of the meal, I excused myself from the table and talked with him, apologizing for what I said and explaining that I was not mad and he had, in fact, done a fantastic job serving us.

Fast forward 12 hours to smack dab in the middle of the night. I was awake after only getting 2 hours of restless, dream-ridden sleep. As I lie in bed staring at the ceiling, I start thinking about it again. I pray, asking God to show me why I was so critical. You see, God’s Word states that what you say flows from what is in your heart. I said a very critical, piercing statement about the inadequacy of our server. It may seem to many of you that it isn’t a big deal, but I’ve been generally working on finding out what’s in my heart and how that is a direct correlation to what comes out of my mouth.

I wrestled with it for a little while before finally crawling out of bed and heading to my chair – the chair where I spend time with God most mornings – the chair where I write and study writing – the chair where prayers have gone up for my family and many of you. As I sat and prayed, then listened, I felt God working on me and my critical spirit. Critical spirits come from being arrogant. If you feel you would do a better job, then you can easily become critical of others when things aren’t done as you think you would do them. So as God spoke to me about my root of criticism, I prayed. I prayed that He uproot it, that He remind me of the grace I need every day so that my first response anytime someone else messes up is also grace.

What comes out of my mouth is a direct reflection of what is in my heart. I don’t want to simply watch what I say, even though at times that is needed. I want the contents of my heart to be so pure, kind, humble – that the first words that come out of my mouth are filled with sweet goodness and grace.

What I’m learning is this: It is good to control my tongue, but what if my focus switched from trying NOT to say something to focusing on the cause of it so that the thought never crosses my mind? I think I’d rather spend the time necessary searching out the root of ugliness and allowing God to pull it up so I don’t have to continue trying to watch what I say.

Every time I say an unkind, inconsiderate comment that slips out, I’m going to seek God in understanding why I said it so I can allow Him to get rid of it. I may never be perfect but I can continue to keep going back to Him, seeking His guidance, and living within His grace.

If we can focus our attention on the root of the matter, rather than only controlling our tongue, we will make strides to not only keep from saying something ugly (that we actually want to say) to being a person above reproach, full of grace, authentically showing the love of Christ to others. Don’t you want that too?

When Sadness Hits

I’m sad, heartbroken, and my emotions are once again balancing on the scales between out of control and covered up. The heartbreak of my life has struck once again and my defense was down. The pain came searing through me like a knife through my heart. Why do I ever let my guard down? I’m so much stronger than I used to be but occasionally, when I get too relaxed, it gets through to the depth of me. And knocks me down for a few days.

I’m in the middle of those few days now. The fight to hang onto my sanity is strong as I wonder if this will ever get any easier. I feel as if I’m on the edge of falling into the abyss of heartache, never to recover again. I’m fighting to just hang on. And I haven’t told but one person until now because I’m afraid if anyone says anything to me about it, I’ll start crying and not be able to stop.

As tempting as it is to not write these words because of how crazy I sound, I peck at the keyboard anyway. The words coming out are like balm to my soul as I release some of the pain I feel. I know Jesus is here with me, using this for His good, somehow, someway. But it doesn’t take away the fact that sadness is overwhelming me in this moment.

So how can I shift my thinking? How can I allow God to use this exact moment in my life for His glory? How can I encourage someone else even though I’m broken myself?

Let me shift my mindset:

I want to learn more of God’s heart through even the tough parts of life. In fact, I think we have a more clear picture of His heart during these moments if we take the time to open our eyes and see things beyond ourselves. We can’t see God if all we’re looking at is our pain.

He pursues us. He pursues our hearts. Even when we reject Him. Even when we’re hurt and we are struggling to see beyond our own situation.

There have been many times I’ve rejected Him. He has leaned into me, pulling me to Him, trying to show me that I was pulling away from Him, only to be pushed away even further. I have turned my back to Him, stiffening myself to His love, grace and mercy. I wanted to do things my own way. I wanted to continue lying to myself about how “good” I was and following Him but not really let Him take complete control of my life.

And HE NEVER STOPPED loving me.

It comforts me to know that He knows the pain I feel.  He has been in my shoes and knows the pain of rejection from even His own children. He knows the pain of rejection from me.

Despite not wanting to admit it today, I’m thankful for the lessons I learn through my pain.

From what heartache in your life can you take a step back and look at in a different perspective? Can you alter your perspective to see God’s heart through what you may be experiencing today? Can you shift your mindset with me?

It’s never easy to overcome sadness and pain. Let yourself feel it, walk through those emotions, ask God what it is you can learn from it. Then let Him pick you back up and keep right on going with your head held high.

I’ll be there soon… 

“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.” 1 Corinthians 13:4–8

Stop Telling What God Has Done Through You

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I sat there as he talked about how great God was and all He had done through him. Story after story, I heard of how He heard the Holy Spirit, followed His direction, and how God had worked through him.

What I felt surprised me. It made my story of transformation pale in comparison. And I wanted to shrink into my seat. I felt as if I had nothing to contribute to the conversation.

I left with a spirit I can’t explain. It wasn’t positive and uplifting but like a dark cloud hanging over me. And I wondered why.

Why was it I didn’t celebrate and joyfully accept what God had done through him? There was something that didn’t set right and I couldn’t put my finger on it.

I prayed, asking God what I could learn from the experience. He gently whispered, “Daughter, your story, your testimony, should be more about what I’ve done inside of you than what I’m doing through you.” As I begin to think about that, it made perfect sense. There’s a humility that comes with admitting how God has worked in your life, chiseling the sharp spots and fine tuning me into the woman He created me to be. People respond to humility, identify with the struggle to truly follow Christ, and they can put themselves in that same position.

Telling of how God has used you to reach others doesn’t necessarily have the same positive influence. If done in a spirit of haughtiness, it actually can turn people away even though it’s not our intent. Or it makes them wonder why God isn’t doing the same through them.  If God is working THROUGH your life, others already know it, they SEE it. The fruit of His hand is on display for all to see and rarely does anything need to be said about it.

Many times, when God is working inside of you, it isn’t seen. There’s an intimacy in this relationship experience and some of these moments are meant to be private, viewed as a personal experience with God that only you share with Him. For instance, in your relationship with your spouse, if you shared every meaningful moment you had together with others, it would cheapen the value of your experiences together. What makes a relationship truly intimate are those personal, private moments that only the two of us share. I view that to be true in our relationship with God as well.

But I have no doubt there are times when He wants us to share with others what He is doing in our life. He wants us to be vulnerable and real with them in a way they can relate. When this is shared with a spirit of humility, everything you say points back to the Holy Spirit at work in your life.

There is significantly more power in a testimony that is wholly about God and His hand in your life than in a testimony that is about what you have done.

I’m not saying that I think you should never tell others what God is doing through you, but I believe there takes a considerable amount of wisdom when you do. This is not at all about us and there never needs to be any hint that it is.

God has worked both inside my life and through my life. But what I have learned recently is that I am going to focus on sharing what God has done inside of me. I’m going to use my life stories, experiences, and heart talks with Him to show others what a deep relationship with our Father can be. I’m going to admit my shortcomings and tell of times when God used scripture, other people, or situations to speak directly to my heart and what I learned from these experiences. And in an effort to protect against pride, both real and perceived, I’m going to pray and seek His wisdom before I talk about what He has done through me.

Before you speak, always ask: Is what I’m about to say going to focus so much on my life of obedience that Jesus is overshadowed? If so, Stop. Tell them instead about what He has done inside of you.

The Flower Bed Failure that Changed My Life

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“Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose trust is the Lord. He is like a tree planted by water, that sends out its roots by the stream, and does not fear when heat comes, for its leaves remain green, and is not anxious in the year of drought, for it does not cease to bear fruit.” Jeremiah 17:7-8

As I pulled harder and harder, it finally broke and I fell with a thud to the ground. With stickered vines surrounding me, I cried. I had been pulling at them for what seemed like hours and they only seemed to be multiplying. They were deeply rooted and I had to dig and pull, and dig and pull some more to free one single root. It was maddening! This flower bed around a beautifully established shade tree near the front of our 5 acres had been neglected far too long and the weeds had taken over. It didn’t happen overnight but a little at a time, this once vibrant garden had reduced to a big pile of overgrown weeds, choking out the beauty and life. As I sat on the ground, with scratched up arms, frustrated, I felt a gentle whisper through the breeze, “This is your life. And this is your struggle.”

Over the last year, I had turned my life back to God and was seeking Him again. I was trying to clean up the mess I’d created but still hadn’t internalized that I couldn’t do it. Pulling up my own weeds, I wasn’t getting anywhere at all. In fact, the thorns were hurting me, piercing me with regret. I realized in that moment as my Father wrapped me in His arms and gently spoke, that I needed Him to use His supernatural gardening skills to make me beautiful again. He was my only hope. He was the protection from the pain of the thorns. He had forgiven me and was waiting for me to allow Him to have complete control. I could think I’d pulled up a weed but the root was still there, festering and growing, waiting to rear its ugly thorns once again.

When sin is rooted deep in your life and you’ve left it there for long periods of time, it chokes out the beauty. We can pull it up, but most of the time, there are still underlying roots that lie dormant for a time. We can feverishly work at cleaning our lives up but if we don’t let Christ do it for us, the weeds of sin will at some point come to the surface again.

In that moment, I released all control. I asked my Father to take the reins in cleaning up my life and acknowledged that He was my only hope.  I asked Him to plant in me good roots and to nurture them as they grew deeper and deeper, so that I would stand firm in all seasons of my life. The tension released and a calm come over me that is unexplainable. Sobbing, I sat in silence for a long while thinking about what I’d learned. What HE had taught me.

As I sat on the ground, dirty, sweaty, and in need of Him, He found me and loved me where I was.

Peace. It had been a long time, but I was finally at peace.

I picked myself up and cleaned up the mess around me but I never worked in that flower bed again. To this day, it is a reminder to me of the damage that weedy roots can have in my life. Sin, anger, bitterness, hopelessness, and depression have NO room to take root when the life of Jesus completely fills me. So every day, I give my life to Him. I pray for protection. I pray for Him to have complete control.

And I thank Him for the the flower bed failure that changed my life. 

What roots have you bound?  Jesus is the only one able to pull them up. Will you let Him?

The Calling of Everyday Ministry

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You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven. Matthew 5:14-16

There’s something I want to share with you that only a small handful of people have heard until now. God has called me into full-time ministry. This calling has happened over the last year and during a time of recent fasting and prayer, I finally knew that it was real and truly from God.

So, after that realization, I thought it might be time to share my concerns with my almighty Father, who just happens to know the future, everything about me, all the pieces that will fit together, and has the ultimate plan. <insert eye roll at my lack of faith>

  • How can this happen?
  • We can’t afford it.
  • When will this happen?
  • I’m not equipped. I’m not ready.

In not so many words, my faith was shaken.

You see, when I think of “ministry,” I think of quitting my job, reading my Bible and studying a lot more than I have time for right now, meeting with people to share Jesus with them, maybe working for my church and through the ministries they have, writing full-time, and even possibly speaking (Yikes! Scary…). All these things could be a “full-time” ministry but let me share with you what Jesus has shown me in the last few weeks.

As a child of God, I am always in full-time ministry.


In the job I hold now, I am in ministry. There are people there that need the love of Jesus shown to them and I have the unique opportunity to be the light of the world to someone who may not see it anywhere else in their life.

At the grocery store when I see a lady in the parking lot crying because of a hard time she’s going through, I am in ministry.

At home, when my family is gathered around the table for dinner, I am in ministry.

At a school event for my children, when there are hurting people all around me, I am in ministry.

At a restaurant, when the individual serving us might be struggling to make ends meet and wondering where God is, I am in ministry.


As Christians, we are to be a LIGHT in this dark world and give our Father glory for what He has done in our lives. We can do this wherever we are.

It’s so tempting for me to think that I can’t be in full-time ministry when I still have a secular job and too many responsibilities to have the time. But this is so far from the truth! I can be a light right where I am, in this very season of life.

And you can also be a light right where you are, in this very season of life.

Allow Jesus to be integrated into every area of your life. See Him not as an addition or in a separate box, but as your Father, your friend, that you take with you wherever you are. Be a full time minister of the good news of Jesus and what He’s done in your life. It’s our calling.

When you see the next hurting person in your everyday world, remind yourself that THIS is your everyday ministry. When all of us light up the world within our reach, together we will light up the world.

 

If you would like to connect with me, please feel free to do so! I’d love to hear from you. ~Angie

Let Compassion Be Your First Response

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As he went along, he saw a man blind from birth. His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?’ “Neither this man, nor his parents sinned,” said Jesus, “but this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him…” John 9:1

A story comes out in the news about a teenager killed in a car wreck at 2 a.m. The first questions I hear and/or read are “Was he drunk?” “Surely he was out partying. Why else would he be out in the middle of the night?” “How fast was he going?”

A woman is just diagnosed with lung cancer and the first question I hear is “Did she smoke?”

A man is on the side of the road with a sign. There are many people who will immediately ask, “What did he do to get to where he is?” before they will even consider helping him. I have to admit I’ve asked the same question.

So many times, we as a society feel the need to determine if a bad situation in someone else’s life is justified before we allow ourselves to feel compassion. We want to know, “Is there a sin that caused this?” and if so, we excuse ourselves from feeling compassion or being there to help them.

This is what the disciples did when Jesus came across a man who was blind and had been blind since he was born. Their first question was not asked from a stance of compassion but from a critical spirit. They seemed to be saying, “It doesn’t matter that he is blind, not if he deserves it.” Jesus quickly put them in their place when He tells them there is no sin that caused it. What He did say puts every tragedy and hard thing I’ve ever experienced into place. “This happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him.”

Notice the word “works.” It is plural, meaning this one miracle was not the only display of God’s hand in his life that others would see. It means that this miracle was only the beginning of how God was going to work in and through this man’s life. 

So why is it that we have to decide if someone experiencing a hard time deserves it or not before we show them compassion? Does it somehow let us off the hook if we can reason that they deserve to be in this situation? 

I would love to see the church welcome ALL people in ANY situation, whether we believe they deserve it or not, and at the very minimum give them our time and prayers as they search for God, meaning, and a way out of the depth of sorrow they are in. We should respond first with compassion and then later, if needed and in the spirit of love, ask the questions needed to help someone not end up in the same situation again.

 We have an opportunity to minister as Jesus did, not turning away anyone who earnestly was seeking Him and even pursuing those who did not yet know who He was. Personally, I would rather err on the side of compassion with the chance of them taking advantage of the situation then to miss an opportunity to introduce someone who is authentically hurting to Jesus through my kindness and compassion.  

Sometimes, there is no reason for the storm other than Jesus be glorified through it, but even if there is a reason, let compassion be your first response. 

A Call for U.S. Christians to Unite in this Election Season

The uproar over politics has had me in a bit of a whirlwind of emotion. My own family, split in our decisions over who we are voting for President. My carnal self fights the belief that a person with any sort of sound, moral, Godly judgment would vote the way I am voting. It has been an internal battle I am ready to say farewell to and not see for a very long time… I mean never.
I do not know much about politics and though I try to do my research on candidates and vote how I believe God is leading me, I cannot claim to fully understand how it all works. For that reason, I rarely weigh in on politics and I’ve never used this platform to do so but this isn’t really about politics anyway. It’s about truth. And we all know truth is not seen so much in politics, unfortunately.

Here’s truth: There are good people, truly seeking God in their decision, who are voting for Trump. There are good people, truly seeking God in their decision, who are voting for Clinton. There are good people, truly seeking God in their decision, who are voting for anyone else other than Trump or Clinton. 

This has been a hard thing for me to come to terms with but as I look at my own circle of friends and family, I know without a shadow of a doubt, this is true. In my immediate family, I believe all the candidates are covered! Just because someone is voting for a particular candidate of whom you do not approve (or may even think is evil), does not mean they are evil, immoral, or not a Christian.

Satan loves the dissension he is creating between family members, church family, and society. We are seeing more ugly words being spewed towards each other and fights on social media than I’ve ever seen before. Personal attacks on character because of political opinion are plastered all over the walls. And Satan loves it.

Ironically enough, in our attempt to stand up for what’s right and stand up for the issues that we believe in, we are tearing each other down. We are hurting relationships and we are hurting our witness. In many instances, we do not appear any different than the world, saying the same things as everyone else, in the same way, and spouting off at our brothers and sisters in Christ.

Can you imagine the effect we would have on our country if we all were as passionate about following Christ as we are politics? What if we had as much belief in God that He is able to transform our world and perform miracles as we do the next President being able to affect our country? What if we pursued God in prayer and shared His message as passionately as we destroy candidates on Facebook? You might believe that you are following Christ by being passionate about politics and trying to influence others to vote for the one who you believe aligns more closely to Biblical standards and I can see that and understand it. But there are so many other avenues through which God can move and work through us! 

Here’s an idea for us to consider: What if God is giving us an opportunity to stand together, despite differing opinions, and rise up to be the Church He created us to be? What if we realized that the Church, through Christ, has way more power to change our country than the President? And what if we acted on that belief? 

This would be something that would make others pause and take notice. This would be a way we could stand up and stand out from what the world sees on a daily basis. This would be a way for us to be “set apart” in a way that brings light and encouragement to others. I’d love to see people on social media start making statements like “My good friend, ______, is voting for (a person I’m not), but I know she’s seeking God in this decision and is a wonderful person. We may disagree but I love her and think the world of our friendship. And both of us know that ultimately, God is in control. #USChristiansUnite”. Of course, there are many private people so we wouldn’t want to share that without consent. But can you imagine the statement we could make?!!

We have 3 and a half weeks until the election. I highly doubt anyone is going to change their mind at this point. What do we have to lose?