Thursday

5 Things You Need to Know about Gossip

“Did you hear what happened with the Fredricksons? I suspected something was going on, but I never imagined it was this bad.”

Gossip is everywhere—break rooms, coffee shops, the gym, and, sadly, even in the church. Sometimes it’s obvious, like the example above. Other times it’s much more subtle.

“Jean, I want to share a prayer request. Did you hear that John’s fallen off the wagon again? We’ve got to pray for him and Chelsea. I’m so afraid he’s going to lose his job. And then how will they keep the kids in Christian school? I heard that they’re paying $20,000 a year to keep them there. . . and I think they had to take out a second mortgage to buy that new minivan last month.”

Google defines gossip as “casual or unconstrained conversation or reports about other people, typically involving details that are not confirmed as being true.”

Scripture has a long list of names for it: slander, backbiting, betraying a confidence, whispering, and tale bearing. However you define gossip, the Bible clearly warns us of its destructive power.


Here are five things you need to know about gossip: 

1. When we gossip, we break God’s greatest commandment, the call to love one another. 

“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another” (John 13:34-35).

2. Gossip hurts our witness to the unsaved world.

“By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another” (John 13:25). 

Wounding other believers with our speech (gossipy “prayer requests,” whispered “I’m concerned about so-and-so,” and behind-the-back conversations in the spirit of “care and concern” doesn’t demonstrate an accurate picture of how sisters and brothers in Christ should act toward each other. The world sees this, takes note, and determines that “believers” are no different than unbelievers.

3. God holds us accountable for every idle word we say.

“But I tell you that men will have to give account on the day of judgment for every careless word they have spoken. For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned.” (Mat. 12: 36-37).

If we’re true, born-again believers, we have the assurance that Christ took the punishment for our sins, even the ones we haven’t committed yet, on the cross. So when the Bible talks about being judged, it’s talking about a different type of judgment. This judgment may involve a loss of rewards (because gossip is certainly “wood, hay, and stubble” that will burn) or experiencing the natural results of being a gossip, like loss of trust and broken relationships.

4. Gossip will cause you to lose friends. 

 "A perverse man stirs up dissension, and a gossip separates close friends” (Prov. 16:28).

The most obvious way we can lose friends is to gossip specifically against that person. When word gets back to them, and it will, your relationship can be permanently damaged.

Another reason gossip parts friends is because sharing gossip, even if it’s about someone else, destroys our friend’s confidence in our trustworthiness. If Cara hears you gossiping about Shelby, then she’s naturally going to wonder what you say about her when she’s not around. Because trust is the foundation of any deep and lasting relationship, without it, our friendships will be superficial and stunted.

5. Gossip will find its way back to you. 

“What you have said in the dark will be heard in the daylight, and what you have whispered in the ear in the inner rooms will be proclaimed from the roofs” (Luke 12:3).

The very nature of gossip requires passing along information. When that “information” makes its way to the person being talked about, rest assured, the tale-bearing breadcrumbs will lead straight to your door.

Now that we’ve examined these five scary truths about gossip, here are six questions we should ask ourselves before we speak:

1. Is it true? 


2. Is it kind?


3. Does it need to be said? 


4. What is my motive in sharing this bit of information—to build someone up, or tear someone down? Look deeply into your heart and examine your true motives.


5. Would I say this if the person was standing here in front of me? 

6. Do I have a right to speak on this matter? Am I part of the problem or part of the solution?


One of the best ways to break the gossip habit, according to Chip Ingram in his Bible study, Five Lies that Ruin Relationships, is to listen more and speak less. This is sound advice, straight from the Bible: 

"When words are many,” Proverbs 10:19 says, “sin is not absent, but he who holds his tongue is wise.”

I want to be known as one who uses my words to help others, not hurt them. I suspect you have a similar desire. As we pursue this noble goal, may the words of Ephesians 4:29 guide us:

“Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.”

Now it's your turn. Why do you think almost everyone struggles with gossip? What steps have you taken to help break the destructive speech cycle? Leave a comment below and share your thoughts. If you're reading by email, CLICK HERE to visit Hungry for God online, scroll to the bottom of the post, and leave a comment.







HOT OFF THE PRESS: FREE Bible Study Guide and Small Group Discussion Questions! Did you know there is a FREE Bible study guide and discussion questions to accompany the Hungry for God...Starving for Time devotional? Click HERE to download your copy. Now you'll have everything you need to use Hungry for God as the basis for your next small group Bible study. 




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A 3-Step Approach to Banish Nighttime Fears

Almost every child I know has struggled with nighttime fears. When I was young, the gremlins I never saw in the daylight scurried around under my bed as soon as Mom turned off the light. The creaks and groans I normally attributed to tree branches and the ever-present New England wind became monsters’ footsteps and heavy breathing in the dark. The fears I labeled “silly” became terrifyingly real. 

Even now, nighttime can be the most frightening part of the day. The busyness that distracts me is gone, and my mind is free to wander into dark places where What If gremlins dance. Tragedy lurks at every bend in the road. That couldn’t happen to me becomes Oh yes it could. The constant activity of job, home, family, and ministry pauses, yet I continue to scroll through the To Do list that didn’t get done and fret about the consequences. 

Second Corinthians 10:5 has become my spiritual sword to help me vanquish nighttime fears: “Bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ.” 

When I struggle to fall asleep or I awaken at 3 a.m., I reach into the swirling melee and grab hold of the noisiest fear. Separated from its slimy comrades, it immediately grows smaller. 

Then I shine the light of God’s Word on it, and it starts to melt like the Wicked Witch of the West before Dorothy’s bucket of water. 

Bringing every thought into captivity to Christ means I remind myself of three truths: 

     I can trust God's sovereignty. Because God is in control, nothing can touch my life that He hasn’t ordained for my good and His glory (Romans 8:28). 

     I can trust God’s presence. If God allows a trial to enter my life, He will walk through it with me. “I will never leave you or forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5). 

     I can trust God’s provision. “And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:19). 

Finally I determine to pray instead of fret. “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7). 


For the last few months, I’ve been awakening most nights around 3 a.m. Sometimes fear strikes, bombarding me with scary scenarios. I began implementing the three-step plan of attach I’ve described above, and now 3 am has become one of my favorite times of the day. 

As soon as my brain starts spinning, I pray for whomever or whatever is foremost in my mind. Before fear has a chance to gain a toehold, I blast it with prayer and God’s Word. This two-fold heavenly fear repellent transforms my anxiety into faith, and before long, I slip into a peaceful, God-given sleep. 

David the shepherd boy experienced this worry-free slumber. “I will both lie down in peace, and sleep;” he wrote, “For You alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety.” If you struggle with nighttime fears, I encourage you give this a try. God promises He will keep us in perfect peace when our minds are fixed on Him (Isaiah 26:3). 

Now it’s your turn. When fear troubles your sleep, what do you do to banish it? Leave a comment below and share your thoughts. If you’re reading by email, CLICK HERE to visit Hungry for God online and leave a comment.




HOT OFF THE PRESS: FREE Bible Study Guide and Small Group Discussion Questions! Did you know there is a FREE Bible study guide and discussion questions to accompany the Hungry for God...Starving for Time devotional? Click HERE to download your copy. Now you'll have everything you need to use Hungry for God as the basis for your next small group Bible study.




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Monday

Is It Enough to Believe with All Your Heart?

“I believe with all my heart God is going to heal him.” 

“If I truly believe God is going to ___________ (deliver me from my financial troubles, give me a new car, send me a husband, release me from the job I hate), then he will. But I have to reeeeealy believe it.” 

“God wants you to be healthy, wealthy, and happy. If you’re not, it’s because you don’t have enough faith. James 1:6-8 says so: ‘But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That man should not think he will receive anything from the Lord.’” 

Have you ever heard someone say one or all of these statements? I have. 

I’ve also seen people continue to experience illness, financial trouble, singleness, difficult marriages, and challenging jobs, even though they reeeeeeealy believed God was going to answer their prayers for deliverance. Was their faith not strong enough? Did they harbor a smidgen of doubt that hindered God from answering their prayers? 

How can we be sure we have enough faith to tip the scales in our favor when God decides which prayers to answer in the affirmative? And how do we “ask in faith, believing,” when we’re just not sure how God’s going to answer? 

Years ago I was scheduled to have surgery to remove a cyst/tumor. There was some concern that the growth might be malignant, but we wouldn’t know until the day of surgery. As I prayed about the outcome, I wrestled with “asking in faith, believing,” for a cancer-free report. I knew God could heal me if necessary. He certainly had the power. 

But the thought occurred to me that he might not choose to. I’ve lived long enough to know that sometimes God glorifies himself by delivering someone from a difficult situation. Other times he glorifies himself by empowering them to go through it. How could I know God’s will in order to believe with all my heart and get the answer I hoped for? 

Jennifer Kennedy Dean, in Live a Praying Life answers this question better than anyone I’ve ever heard. Listen to what she writes: 

“Faith is not ‘believing real hard.’ Faith is not shutting your eyes and drawing a long breath and willing yourself to believe something. You can make yourself believe anything, true or not. Believing something won’t make God do it. Belief is one thing; faith is something else.” 

Her observations are similar to mine, that because "many believers have mistaken belief for faith, they have had experiences in prayer that are discouraging and disappointing." She describes faith quite differently than belief: 

“Faith has only one focus: God. Jesus said: ‘Have faith in God’ (Mark 11:22). When your faith is in God, not in your own idea of what God should do and how He should do it, then faith has substance. The person who is living a praying life is living a life of faith. That person understands that prayer is always releasing the power of God for the purposes of God. Therefore, once prayer has begun, whatever direction as situation takes, it is taking the direction that will accomplish the purposes of God. That’s faith.” 


And then, she writes the words that parted the faith curtain for me: “You do not have to be able to predict how God will act in order to have faith.” 

What we must know to be able to ask in faith, believing, is that God is all knowing, all powerful, and all loving. Everything he allows into a believer’s life is to accomplish two purposes: my good and his glory. Knowing this allows me to yield my will to his and trust him to accomplish his ultimate and best purpose in every situation. 

Richard Foster, in the book, Prayer, says this: “Frequently we hold on so tightly to the good that we do know that we cannot receive the greater good that we do not know. God has to help us let go of our tiny vision in order to release the greater good he has in store for us . . .” 

This is why the true prayer of faith lifts our requests to him, then ends with, “Lord, not my will, but yours be done.” When we pray this way, we can rest in faith, knowing we can trust the God who has all the power of the universe and all the wisdom of the world at his disposal. Knowing that he loves us and is working for our highest good and his glory allows us confidently to yield our will to his, “asking in faith, believing.” 

I’m so thankful we don’t have to figure out what’s best and then work ourselves into a belief frenzy before we can pray. Instead, we can come before the Lord and acknowledge, “God, I don’t know what the best answer is in this situation, but you do. I trust you. Please work for my good and your glory.”

Now it's your turn. What does this explanation of the difference between belief and faith mean to you? Leave a comment in the box below and share your thoughts. If you're reading by email, CLICK HERE to visit Hungry for God online, scroll to the bottom of the post, and leave a comment.


HOT OFF THE PRESS: FREE Bible Study Guide and Small Group Discussion Questions! Did you know there is a FREE Bible study guide and discussion questions to accompany the Hungry for God...Starving for Time devotional? Click the link in the right-hand side bar to download your copy. Now you'll have everything you need to use Hungry for God as the basis for your next small group Bible study.




Are you hungry for God, but starving for time? 
I’d love to send you a 5-minute e-mail devotion twice a week to start your day off with the Lord. 

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Thursday

Birthing a Book Baby (And Mrs. Billy's Embarrassing Question)

I'm glad I didn’t know my first embarrassing pregnancy moment would be one of many. Followed by many embarrassing parenting moments. Followed by many embarrassing grandparenting moments.

Except by the time you become a grandparent, you think everything kids do is cute, and you cease to be embarrassed.

Until then, there’s about a forty-year window where you can and will be embarrassed. 

My moment came in early December 1988. I was about four months pregnant with my first child. On the other side of morning sickness, by belly was just beginning to grow.

For the first time, I slipped into my jeans and couldn’t button the button. No worries, I thought. I’m wearing a long sweater. I’ll just leave it unbuttoned. No one will ever know.

And no one would have known, except we ran into one of my mother-in-law’s friends, Mrs. Billy, in the center aisle of Kmart.

“Oh, Honey,” she exclaimed in a voice that carried all the way to the automotive department. “I heard you’re expecting. Are you showing yet?”

And with that question, she lifted my sweater, exposing my unbuttoned blue jeans for every Christmas shopper in the store to see.

“Well I guess you are!” she exclaimed delightedly. “You’ll be big as a house by Valentine’s Day.”

She planted a kiss on my burning cheek and disappeared down the sporting goods aisle. Mortified, I prayed for a blue light special to distract everyone’s attention from me and my exposed belly.

Like Mrs. Billy, many of you have been watching for signs of progress as I incubate my latest book baby, Refresh Your Faith, Uncommon Devotions from Every Book of the Bible. Before you embarrass me, I’d like to reward your patience (and your tact) and give you an update.

The publishing process is slow, more like an elephant’s gestation than a human’s. As of this week, we’re 13 months into a 16 month process, but we’re getting closer. My publisher, Our Daily Bread Publishing, and I have completed final manuscript edits, galley proofs, proofreading, and the final final edit.

The publicity wheels have begun to turn, and soon I’ll be asking you to join my launch team to help get the word out. Advanced reader copies (ARCs) will go out to influencers, librarians, and reviewers. Best of all, the listing is up on Amazon. Would you like a peek? Click HERE to visit Refresh Your Faith, Uncommon Devotions from Every Book of the Bible’s Amazon page.

Because you are so faithful to read my simple words, leave comments, and share your thoughts by email, I’d like to ask you to pray for me in the next few months. 

*That I will do everything I can to help this book succeed.

*That God will connect Refresh Your Faith with people who are bored with their devotional time and want to fall in love with God and His Word all over again.

*That I will seek God every day, take my marching orders from Him, and please Him in all I do.

I want to be a good steward of the opportunities God (and Our Daily Bread Publishing) have entrusted to me through this book.

Thanks for listening, reading, and praying. Y’all are the best readers a writer could ask for!


HOT OFF THE PRESS: FREE Bible Study Guide and Small Group Discussion Questions! Did you know there is a FREE Bible study guide and discussion questions to accompany the Hungry for God...Starving for Time devotional? Click the link in the right-hand side bar to download your copy. Now you'll have everything you need to use Hungry for God as the basis for your next small group Bible study.




Are you hungry for God, but starving for time? 
I’d love to send you a 5-minute e-mail devotion twice a week to start your day off with the Lord. 

Sign up for a free subscription to Hungry for God by CLICKING HERE.

Then, be sure to VALIDATE the confirmation email you receive. 

Note: I promise never to spam you or share your email address.

Because busy women need to connect with God in the craziness of everyday life.






Monday

Look for Opportunities, not Excuses

Nell Easterling is 94 years old. She and her husband, Lairy, were founding members of our church. For more than 50 years,  they served faithfully, given generously, and modeled the faith life to our congregation. 

Nell’s also a really good cook. 

As I sat across from her at a pot luck dinner, I asked for the recipe for the dish she’d brought. As with most good cooks, she could recite it from memory. 

But halfway through, somewhere between the cottage cheese and the Mandarin oranges, she stopped. Catching her husband’s eye, she tapped the tablecloth in front of her. 

“Honey, let’s take these home and wash them,” she said. He nodded. “We can’t do much anymore, but we can do that.” 

I wrote down the rest of the recipe, but came away from the conversation with much more than instructions for a new dish. Without realizing it, Mrs. Nell had shared a life lesson with me. 

I told my husband about it on the way home. “If I was 94 years old, could barely walk, and had been serving in the church for three-quarters of a century, I think I’d probably say, ‘I’m old. I’ve done my time. Let someone else do it.’"

"Instead she looks around and says, ‘I wonder what I can do to help?’” 

Mrs. Nell is living out 1 Samuel 12:24: "But be sure to fear the Lord and serve him faithfully with all your heart."  

Her example challenges me to serve God with the abilities and resources he’s given me. To jump in wherever I see a need instead of waiting to be asked. To look for opportunities, instead of excuses. 

Will you join me in pledging to serve God whenever he gives us the chance and the ability? If every church member served this way, imagine what God could do. 

Now it's your turn. Has there been someone in your life who has modeled biblical servanthood? I'd love to hear about them. Leave a comment in the box below and share your story.





HOT OFF THE PRESS: FREE Bible Study Guide and Small Group Discussion Questions! Did you know there is a FREE Bible study guide and discussion questions to accompany the Hungry for God...Starving for Time devotional? Click the link in the right-hand side bar to download your copy. Now you'll have everything you need to use Hungry for God as the basis for your next small group Bible study.


Are you hungry for God, but starving for time? 
I’d love to send you a 5-minute e-mail devotion twice a week to start your day off with the Lord. 

Sign up for a free subscription to Hungry for God by CLICKING HERE.
Then, be sure to VALIDATE the confirmation email you receive. 

Note: I promise never to spam you or share your email address.

Because busy women need to connect with God in the craziness of everyday life.



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