Gifts From Granny Archive 2013
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 All articles written by Joanne Beckley unless stated otherwise

  • Managing Our Money
  • Sympathy or Empathy?
  • Are We Lights Shining in Babylon? 
  • Removing the Rocks from Our Heart
  • Land Turtles - Tortoises  
  • "Have You Heard...."
  • Granddads and Grannys

 

MANAGING OUR MONEY  

Joanne Beckley
                           
God wants mankind to live a good and productive life. This is clearly spelled out by the apostle John in his letter to Gaius: “Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers” (3 John 2). To know that God cares about us is very encouraging. God has provided a world for us to enjoy, full of blessings to feed, clothe and shelter us. God called his provisions “very good” (Gen.1).
 
Not only has God provided this world with all that we need, he has given us rules or conditions for how we are to benefit from his gifts. The rules are basic. If we follow them we will please God.
 
God’s Rule #1: MONEY IS NOT OUR GOAL IN LIFE
 
Work and financial security is certainly not the whole of life. King Solomon reminds us that the whole of man is to fear God (a deep reverence/worship for God) and keep his commandments (Eccl.12:13). Jesus also plainly said, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God” (Matt.4:4). Jesus recognizes that we must have physical food to live, but it is not to take the place of our spiritual needs. In fact, if we focus on fearing God and keeping his commandments, we can partake of God’s promise concerning our physical bread.
 
Paul told Timothy to remind those who are rich in things:
Command those who are rich in this present age not to be haughty, nor to trust in uncertain riches but in the living God, who gives us richly all things to enjoy. 18 Let them do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to give, willing to share, 19 storing up for themselves a good foundation for the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life (1 Tim.6:17-19).
 
Jesus himself gave us a strong warning about desiring riches:
Matthew 6:24-34 "No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon (money). 25 "Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing?
 
God’s Rule #2: NO WORK, NO EAT.
 
There is a basic instinct to live and that instinct motivates us to seek ways to provide a living. It made a farmer out of Cain and a shepherd out of Abel (Gen.4), a fisherman out of Peter (Matt.4:18), a merchant out of Lydia (Acts 16:14) and a tentmaker out of Paul( Acts 18:1-3). Working for a living is one of the duties of every man to provide for his family and himself. It is a quality of manhood and to be admired (Luke 16:3). Work is the fruit of courage and continued effort despite difficulties. This command includes the responsibility women have to provide for herself and her family if her husband is not present or cannot/will not work.
 
But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever... If any believing man or woman has widows, let them relieve them, and do not let the church be burdened, that it may relieve those who are really widows (1 Tim.5:8,16).
 For even when we were with you, we commanded you this: If anyone will not work, neither shall he eat (2 Thess. 3:10).
 
God’s command to work is very plain and very right. The God of justice will not join hands with someone who is capable of working but is a lazy person and does not want to work. (See also Prov.18:9; 21:20.) Remember the prodigal son in Luke 15:11-32? Not only did he run from work, he also spent his inheritance!
 
Proverbs 14:23 is a good rule of thumb to remember: In all labour there is profit, But idle chatter leads only to poverty.
 
Rule #3: WASTE NOT, WANT (LACK) NOT
 
Having said all this, we want to now consider setting financial goals. Families who do not set goals never reach their goals. Too many Christians pray for their daily bread – and then do not make a plan. Faith without works is a dead faith (James 2:17).We call the work of money management a personal budget.
 
As the head of his family, the husband has the primary responsibility to plan a personal budget for God has made him the head (Eph.5:23). God gave him a  wife to be his helper (Gen.2:18). If the husband does not share his financial plan with his wife, how can she help him maintain and safeguard the budget, for she is the keeper of the home? (Tit.2:5). Why would a godly husband want to ignore God’s provision of a helper?
 
Consider the wife in 2 Kings 4:8-10 – she wanted to help someone (the prophet Elisha). What she wanted to do would affect her husband’s ability to provide for his family. She shared her idea with her husband and appealed to his leadership. She did not take it upon herself to build the extra room without his consent. (1 Peter 3).
 
We as wives must believe that we can be good helpers in the area of financial responsibility in a family.  Just as the husband must be determined to use the money wisely, so must the wife determine to keep within her set budget. When we believe we can do it, when we can picture the benefits, then we will want to manage our money.
 
What are the benefits of staying within a family budget?
1.    We are able to purchase what is necessary.
2.    We have confidence in our abilities and rejoice in pleasing God. There is joy in living.
3.    We have no feelings of insecurity caused by spending more than the budget allows.
4.    We have no feelings of guilt for not keeping our husband’s trust.
5.    We can have a husband who learns to trust us. He has no need to seek other ways to make money, even to borrow or seek a loan.
Who can find a virtuous wife? For her worth is far above rubies. The heart of her husband safely trusts her; So he will have no lack of gain. She does him good and not evil all the days of her life (Proverbs 31:11-12).
This excellent wife had her husband’s happiness in view – constantly. Her good actions were always present and constant. This is her general character. She could only do good.
 
6.    There will be no wastage. Even Jesus commanded his disciples to gather up the left-over food after working the miracle to feed everyone (John 6:12).
 
What keeps us from staying within the family budget?
 
1.    Selfishness – too many “gimmies”(give me! give me!) without thinking of family needs.
2.    Going shopping with spenders.
3.    Anger and resentment toward my husband. “I am angry at my husband so I will go shopping to get even for the way he is treating me.”
4.    Loneliness and depression – “Shopping makes me feel better.”
5.    Listening to my children’s “gimmies” – their wants, and not their needs.
6.    Maybe we have not been taught how to budget. . . . Read on.
 
What should be our aims while planning a family budget?
 
1.    To make the family self-supporting, to carry our own weight and not expect something for nothing.
2.    To take care of the needs of the whole family.
3.    To have enough to live, with the dignity that characterizes being made in the image of God (Gen.1:27).
4.    To have a livable home that can include being hospitable to others (1 Pet.4:9).
5.    To have funds to educate our children.
6.    To have enough financial strength so there will not be undue worry over payments that come due, including government required income tax (Rom.13:8).
7.    To be able to rest, to recharge physically, mentally and spiritually.
8.    To have enough extra put aside to ride out the bad days when there is no work.
        Go to the ant, you sluggard! Consider her ways and be wise, which, having no captain, overseer or ruler, provides her supplies in the summer, And gathers her food in the harvest (Prov.6:6-8).
9.    To provide security in old age.
10.    But most of all, to be able to give a contribution to God and to help to my fellow man.
        Let him who stole steal no longer, but rather let him labour, working with his hands what is good, that he may have something to give him who has need (Eph.4:28).
 
Budgeting requires self-discipline. It is an amazing fact: God expects us to work and save in order to spend!  It requires developing the good habit of saving – which takes self control. Think about the following:
 
1.    What is not needed is costly. Ask yourself: Do I need this or do I just think I do? It is helpful to carry a shopping list and stick to it!
2.    Every purchase carries with it responsibility. Often the item will need maintenance, repair or it can just break. Ask yourself – If I buy it, how much good will I get from it?
3.    Is it priced right? Or will something else that costs less do just as well? Will there be a better time at a cheaper price to buy it?
4.    Loans and buying on credit carry high interest rates, carrying charges, and extra insurance. They steal from your determination to save. If you choose to carry debt for luxuries this is lost money.
 
Staying within a budget requires being honest with yourself. Unless we master this quality, everything else is meaningless. Honesty also covers many faults. When we go outside the budget guilt begins to eat into our souls. If we admit what we have done was not wise and face the “music” of our unhappy husbands, we can begin again and our husbands’ trust has been strained but not been broken. We want our husbands to be confident in us. We want to hold our own heads up in self-respect, to have a sense of integrity. “Let us walk honestly. . .” (Rom.13:13). “We trust we have a good conscience, in all things willing to live honestly” (Heb.13:8). “But let none of you suffer as a murderer, or as a thief” (1 Pet.4:15). “Lie not one to another” (Col.3:9). Each of these verses emphasize providing all things honest in the sight of all men (Rom.12:17).
 
Rule #4: LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOUR!
Debt carries responsibility. When we sign a loan or give our word to return a personal loan, there is no obligation to pay the debt until it is due. But to never pay, means that we have still taken what belongs to another. This is called stealing. It is against God and our neighbour. (Neighbour is defined as the whole world in Luke 10:29ff.) Now the purpose of the commandment is love from a pure heart, from a good conscience, and from sincere faith (1 Tim.1:5).
 
        Rom.13:7 Render therefore to all their due: taxes to whom taxes are due, customs to whom customs, fear to whom fear, honour to whom honour. 8 Owe no one anything except to love one another, for he who loves another has fulfilled the law. 9 For the commandments, "You shall not commit adultery," "You shall not murder," "You shall not steal," "You shall not bear false witness," "You shall not covet," and if there is  any other commandment, are all summed up in this saying, namely, "You shall love your neighbour as yourself." 10 Love does no harm to a neighbour; therefore love is the fulfilment of the law.
 
Love is a debt that can never be paid in full. We continue to owe love to our neighbour and we must continue to pay. (See also Prov.3:27-28.) Love is the “royal law” of God (James 2:8).
        Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, When it is in the power of your hand to do so. Do not say to your neighbour, "Go, and come back, And tomorrow I will give it," when you have it with you (Prov.3:27-28).
 
A good wife’s rewards for good money management (Prov.31:10-31).
1.    She has the joy of having a successful and honoured husband (Prov.31:23).
2.    She has the appreciation and thankfulness of her children (Prov.31:28).
3.    Her husband praises her (Prov.31:28). She has earned his approval.
4.    Her work speaks for her (Prov.31:31).
Her price is indeed far above any jewel – she is of great value!
 
Items that should be included in a budget:
 
1.    Contribution to the church. Place this item at the top of the list of expenditures. The Lord does not accept last place or even second place. Putting Him in your budget first is to obey the command to give as we have purposed in our hearts. The amount should be bountiful and not affected by covetousness. Above all, “God loves a cheerful giver” (2 Cor.9:5-7).
2.    Food & Clothing
3.    Rent/house payment.
4.    Utilities – gas, electric, water
5.    Car payment
6.    Petrol/car maintenance
7.    Health and life assurance
8.    Telephone
9.    Credit card payments
10.    Doctor
11.    Other items
 
The Causes of Financial Problems
 
Every family will have disagreements about money and how it is to be spent. It is because the husband and wife each have a different understanding about money, its use and the need for a budget. For example, the husband’s values may centre around buying a home and making a good impression on his friends. His wife may want a better education so as to be seen as a powerful woman. Both have good values but sinful reasons for their goals.
 
Often the simple cause of financial problems is wondering where the money went  instead of telling the money where to go. The family just spends from payday to payday, without saving. It is easy to be convinced there is just too little income and too many expenses. Rich or poor, financial difficulties occur on every level of society.
 
To help us recognize where the problems might lay, we should ask ourselves:
1.    Do I have wrong values? Am I devoted to material things rather than to spiritual things? Do I feel in my heart that I deserve all the good things in life – pleasure, money, possessions? Money is not wrong. It is the love of money that condemns us. Loving money will destroy happiness.
        For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows (1 Tim.6:10).
2.    Am I covetousness – greedy? Do I want more and more and more? Have I forgotten that what I earn is to help others? (Eph.4:28).
3.    Do I want to get rich quickly with very little effort?
4.    Do I encourage my husband to work and work while I spend and spend?
5.    Do I spend money so I can be “better” than my neighbours? Pride is a terrible sin. A man's pride shall bring him low: but honour shall uphold the humble in spirit (Prov.29:23).
6.    Do I impulse buy? I see, I buy. Business men stock grocery shelves with you in mind!
7.    Am I careless with budget records and receipts?
8.    Do I take care of the items I purchase? If not, they will have to be replaced. . . .
9.    Do I use credit like it is money I have earned? This is a major cause of family disagreements. It is easy for us to fall into this trap. We are tempted to buy more than we otherwise would and then we begin paying a larger payment than if we had bought the item with money. Afterwards we don’t have enough money and we use the credit card again or get loan. All this leads to increased debt – debt we cannot pay at the agreed time. This is sin.
10.    Do I stay within the budget my husband has set up? (You might try keeping a daily list of what you buy. It will help you to see what is really happening.)
11.    Do I give as I should to the Lord every 1st day of the week?
12.    Do I give to the poor? Yes, even the “poor” can give to the poor and the reward is great.
 
        Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again. (Luke 6:38).
 
Questions for discussion:
1.    What if my husband will not take the responsibility to set up a budget or stay within a budget?
2.    What if I’ve made some disastrous financial decisions and I don’t know where to begin?
3.    What if my husband has no job and no money is coming in?
4.    What if I am single, still living in my father’s home?
5.    What if my husband’s work is far from home and he cannot come home every night?
6.    Should the wife keep her earnings be kept separate from her husband’s?
7.    ______________________________________________________
 
 
SAMPLE OF A BUDGET
    Proposed Budget
    For Period (year) ending February _______
 
MONTHLY INCOME
1.    Husband’s Net salary    R ________
2.    Wife’s Net salary        R ________
3.    Other fixed income    R ________
 
    Total Net Income    R __________
 
EXPENSES:
1.    R
2.    R
3.    R
4.    R
5.    R
6.    R
7.    R
8.    R
9.    R
10.    R
11.    R
TOTAL EXPENSES    R
 
If your expenses are more than your income, adjust the budget.

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Sympathy or Empathy

by Joanne Beckley

Remember (or have you seen) the short video of the woman with the nail in her forehead? (Youtube) What a hoot! This caused me to reflect on what it means to be empathetic. There is big noise in our society that it is not enough to sympathize with others, but that we must be empathetic. Is there a difference? Does it matter? And does the Bible make a difference between these two words?

Oxford Dictionary:
To be sympathetic: 1) feeling, showing or expressing sympathy, 2) likeable in a sensitive and fitting way.
To be empathetic: to understand and share the feelings of another.

When I consider various English words used in the Bible (listed below), their Greek counterparts seem to describe what we call empathy, rather than sympathy. In seeking out similar English words used in the scriptures, it becomes obvious that being empathetic is not the stopping point, but rather to be used in completing the process of loving one another. Using Strong’s definitions:

#1
* tenderhearted – Eph 4:32, (eusplagchnos) well-compassioned, sympathetic, pity,

#2
* compassionate – 1 Peter 3:8, (sompathes) having a fellow feeling, mutually commiserative
* bearing all things – 1 Cor 13:7, (stego) to cover with silence (endure patiently)
* weeping with those who weep – Romans 12:15
* whether one member suffers, all the members suffer with it, 1 Cor 12:26, (sumpascho) to experience pain jointly or of the same kind, to suffer with
* bear one another’s burdens – Galatians 6:1, (bastazo) to lift, literally or figuratively
* bear infirmities of the weak – Romans 15:1 carry (with patience) scruples of conscience (asthenema)

#3
* kindness – 1 Cor 13:4, (chresteuomai) to show one’s self useful, ACT benevolently
* kindness – Col 3:12 (chrestotes) USEfulness, gentle
* mercy – Zech 7:9, (checed) SHOW kindness, (tender mercies – Psalm 25:6, (racham) compassion)

From “sympathy” (tenderhearted, compassionate) one develops “empathy” (bearing, weeping, suffering). These emotions in turn prompt action (kindness and mercy).

As we go about our lives, surrounded by others, Jesus expects us to be able to sense a person’s emotional state. We either choose to reject what we sense, or we may then try to understand what led them to that state by asking them or even seeking information elsewhere. This ability to “pick up” on feelings cannot exist unless we “give room” within our own self-awareness. If we are full of self we cannot read others in order to even begin the process toward sympathy, caring about others.

Empathy requires another step; developing the ability to walk in another’s shoes. We must imagine the small stone caught under the heel, and the hole in the toe of the shoe in order to give us insight into what the other is feeling and the like emotion they need to feel from us. We collect clues by drawing on observation of body language, especially of the face, our collection of memories, our reasoning ability, and our emotions. But at the same time we have to also be aware that our particular prejudices, biases, and inaccurate memories can also distort what we are “reading”.

Have you noticed how our emotions tend to draw together when we are talking with others? Without being aware of it, we are copying them! We actually mimic speech, gestures, expressions, attitudes, etc. Now, get this–negative emotions are more contagious than positive ones. Think about the time your husband/wife/child said something in anger. What was your response? Didn’t you have to make a concerted effort not to respond in kind? What about when someone was tense, anxious or fearful, what did you begin to feel?

Yet, if we do not try to “read” others, the consequences are distressful. It can cause misunderstandings. We can feel lonely and left out. We feel we are never included in the group because we are not learning to read others, and thus respond inappropriately. We will feel unloved for who we are. Then, again, perhaps we have learned not to show exactly what we are thinking/feeling in order to make sure others cannot make us feel uncomfortable or exposed, or even have a determination not to let the other “get the upper hand”. On the other hand, we have all seen a long married couple who read each other so well they spend their lives tormenting each other with their intimate knowledge.

For anyone, the ability to read others demands knowing when to probe and when to leave well enough alone. We call this discretion, choosing when to indicate understanding of the other’s emotional state and when to care enough not to keep trying to understand. Indeed, to know another and to be known creates a wonderful relationship.

But if Christians choose not to get close to one another they are unable to obey the commands as described in the Scriptures! So I ask: How well do we know one another? Everybody does better when reading people if they know each other. Let us get to know one another, ask for information that helps the understanding, pay attention to facial expressions, and give the same in return. Complete the process from sympathy, to empathy, to bearing one another’s burdens.

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 I've written the following, prompted by my own need to be encouraged away from my comfort zone. I prayerfully hope it will encourage you also.  -J.B.

 
Are We Lights Shining in Babylon?
Joanne Beckley


 When my husband and I made the choice to live in Africa, a foreign land, I knew I would become a foreigner, a stranger. But I didn't understand at the time that 30 years later I still would never be "one of them". I am indeed a resident alien. My dress, my behaviour, my language, my way of thinking, my very attitude toward the differences I see about me will always set me apart. My understanding of the apostle Peter's description of an alien continues to becomes clearer and clearer the longer I remain in Africa. But, oh, how at times I long to belong!

When Judah was taken into captivity they became aliens and strangers in Babylon for 70 years. In the first letter of Peter, the apostle makes an analogy of the this event in comparison to how Christians are to live. We too live in Babylon, the world, as strangers, pilgrims– aliens, 1 Peter 1:1; 2:11-12; 5:13. The early Christians became a scattered people who live under very different circumstances throughout the known world. They were not forced to be scattered, but chose to follow Jesus and took on the status of aliens. Think of the meaning of these three words, strangers, pilgrims, and aliens. Truly, the day we become Christians we begin living as strangers in the world where previously we had belonged. Our home is now a strange environment, one we will never be comfortable in again while we await going home.

Peter uses the Old Testament event in Genesis 17:8; 23:4 to help describe what it truly means to be a stranger, sojourner, foreigner. When Sarah died, Abraham suddenly needed a place to bury her. He was not a native of the land but he had lived in the land a long time. He had never invested in the land and never saw it as home. In Hebrews 11 it is said he viewed his lifetime sojourn as just a short time. Our attitude should be the same for truly this world is not our home. Jesus said, "You are in the world but you are not of the world."

The Hebrew word for a resident alien is one who settles only for a time, just long enough to transact a business matter. He was called a transient foreigner, and therefore not taxed. This foreigner has a strong sense of alienation and he is not seeking acceptance and refuge. This is emphasized when we read the prophecies of Jeremiah urging the captives to build, live a normal life, for they were going to be in Babylon for 70 years. A lifetime never to be accepted, an alien. (Jeremiah 29)

So, I ask each one of us: Are we as Christians truly viewing ourselves alien, living in a foreign land called Babylon, never "fitting in", biding our time until we can go home? Or perhaps are we guilty of living on the outside wistfully "looking in"? The United States we call home is not our home! No? Consider the amount of time and efforts you spend agonizing over politics and the state of the nation that is seemingly galloping through changes before our very eyes. Compare this to the time and effort you spend in trying to save the very souls of those who are galloping their way to hell. Where is our salt? Our light? Is our longing to preserve this world so strong that it is in actuality blinding us to our original aim and desire to reach toward our spiritual home? Surely we are not making ourselves at home, wanting so much to belong, to have a place with those around us, to create a nest of comfort, that we actually do not really want to go home? Philippians 3:20; Luke 24:18.

And then there is the matter of materialism, that enticing visitor at our door, always knocking insistently that we open our door yet wider...and wider. Ahhh, but we say, we are not ones to long for things the world longs for, nor do we desire the best of whatever is available to enjoy. Right. Let us consider. What about the "nest" we have created of our house? Do the sums. Add up the time, the money, the effort to please self and our families in comparison to the time, the money, the effort we place in reaching outward as a light.

We also must be careful of not having what is called a "ghetto mentality". That is, isolating our thoughts, our desires, our actions only for ourselves, spending most of our time with others like ourselves. This is not what following Jesus wants from us. Christ has sent us out to shine the gospel, to act as a preservative in saving souls, to demonstrate a strong desire for a better home. We must ask ourselves, have the comforts we have created here become so great that our light has dimmed and we are no longer shining as a light in the darkness? No longer acting as salt to the world to preserve mankind? Is my desire for personal comfort in this world erasing my claim to be a servant of the most high God?

Where is the salt? Where is the light?

Let us go back and take the time to reread the book of first Peter. Notice the theme and the way he divided his thoughts, always urging us to rejoice in being an alien in a foreign land awaiting our true home in heaven. Read again Hebrews 11, paying particular attention to verses 32 onwards. Did you notice how the women suffered? Are we suffering for Christ? Or are we busy making sure we are no different from those around us so as to avoid suffering? Haven't we, in fact, "taken our ease in Zion"? Are we living as aliens, strangers in the dark world of Babylon that cries for light?

Outline of 1 Peter by Melvin Curry:
Theme: 1:10; 5:12 No matter where we are scattered it is God's choice as to where we are.
1:3-2:10 mercy
2:11-17 evil of you as of evil doers
3:18-4:6 flesh-spirit
4:7-17 end - judgment
5:1-10 suffering-glory

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Removing the Rocks in Our Heart

by Joanne Beckley

Why are we having trouble forgiving/repenting???
Most of us live surface lives, much like taking a boat out on the water. We never look beneath the water. We have no concern about what is down there. Our only concern is what we see above water. But living for Christ requires that we live much more than just on the surface. Jesus demands that we search out what is hidden beneath–within us. He wants us to consider each one of the “rocks” that we are unknowingly trying to hide from God and from one another.

Within our heart of hearts lie hidden destructive motives, shameful attitudes, corrosive memories, and hidden emotions (anger, deep sadness, etc). These “rocks” will not only affect our surface ride, but the rock(s) can become big enough to tear a hole in the very fabric of our lives. When we do not forgive one another, or when we fail to repent of sinful thoughts and actions, we will indeed sink our boat. Integrity requires that we be honest with ourselves. Let us examine our rocks and remove them from our hearts.
 

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Land Turtles–Tortoises
James 1:2-4; Phil 3:13-14
by Joanne Beckley


 Tortoises have big, heavy shells that are shaped like domes. And unlike sea turtles, they can hide inside their shells for protection. When they’re frightened, tortoises just tuck their heads and tails inside their shells. Some tortoises also tuck their feet in. Other tortoises pull their front feet over their heads.

Consider the heavy weight this animal must continually carry. Never able to escape his burden, never released from his particular situation. For a tortoise this is his lot in life, created by God. The only time he bangs his head in frustration is when fighting another tortoise. (Actually they retract their heads and run at each other, banging their shells against each other, their grunts heard up to a mile away.)

What about you and me? Do we face the continual weight of our lot in life with the same equanimity as does the tortoise? Or do we continually moan against our situation, whether God or man-created because we are unable to change the way things are? Or could we be one those who is afraid to face a situation and so tuck in our heads, tails and feet and hide from making necessary decisions?

It is not the difficulties in life or the lack of safety that is the problem! It is our wants and desires running amuck and the constant reruns of memories of what was that can tear us apart and reduce us to the life of a tortoise, moving ever so slowly, one day following another. Yet even the tortoise recognizes a flower in its path. He will eat it, but do we stop to give thanks for the beauty and fragrance of the roses in our lives? Failing to face situations that are not within our power to change, moaning over the lack of what no longer is, or being buried under with the sin of procrastination will surely slow us to the pace of a tortoise–no longer useful to the Lord.

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"Have You Heard...."

by Joanne Beckley

1. INTRODUCTION
a. There was once a woman who talked to others about a man she was sure had been drinking because his car was often parked at the hotel bar. The man soon heard that she was accusing him of drinking alcohol. One morning the woman awoke to find the man had left his car parked outside her house all night. He did not remove the car until that afternoon.
b. Had the man been drinking in the bar? Could there have been other reasons why he was parked at the hotel bar? Did the woman take her decision too quickly? Why were others listening? How do we know the man did not like what she had been doing? Did her sharing with others prompt a good response in him? Was this woman gossiping?
c. Most people gossip, even Christians. The trouble is, we often don’t know when we have crossed the line and are indeed gossiping. We often don’t know at what point talking becomes gossip according to the Bible. Or, we might even think God does not take gossip too seriously.

2. WHAT THE WORLD CALLS GOSSIP
a. Our English word gossip is defined by the Oxford dictionary as “1) casual conversation or unsubstantiated (unproven) reports about other people. 2) chiefly derogatory (spoken to hurt someone). A person who likes talking about other people’s private lives. Gossip is the act of spreading groundless rumor, hearsay, idle talk, a whisperer, to publish (announce).” (Afrikaans: to “skinder”)
b. The world says:
i. “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can never hurt me.”
ii. “If it is bad, don’t repeat it.”
iii. “Adding a little to the tale doesn’t hurt anyone.”
iv. “I can keep a secret. I only tell my best friend.”
v. “I’m telling truth so you can’t call it gossip.”

3. WHAT THE BIBLE CONDEMNS AS GOSSIP
a. When we search the Bible to understand what gossip is we learn that the word of God takes a very serious view concerning the way we talk and the motives behind our speech. God holds us accountable for the lies or hurtful truth we knowingly spread with evil intentions. He also condemns every idle word that does not bring about good (Matthew 12:36), or joking words that carry a sting in the tale (Prov.26:18-19).

b. The word gossip is not found in the Bible, but there seems to be two areas of concern that God condemns which we would today call gossip.
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i. Slander (Titus 2:3) and back-biting (Psalm 15:1) are an abomination to God (Prov.6:16-19).
(1) Slander (dibbah) comes from an evil heart with the intention to hurt someone, also translated “backbiting.” The Greek word for “blaspheme” is defined as “revile or slander.” Example: Luke 7:33.; Matthew 9:33-34. (In the original language diabolos, which we call “devil” in English, means slanderer, false accuser.)
(2) Backbiting (katalalia) is also evil speaking in order to ruin someone’s reputation (Rom.1:30; 2 Cor.12:20).
(3) Other Bible words that have similar meanings include whispering (Rom.1:29-30; 2 Cor. 12:20), evil surmising (1 Tim. 6:4), tale-bearing (Lev.19:16), babbling (Eccl.10:11), tattling (1 Tim. 5:13), evil speaking, (Psa.41:5; 109:20), defaming character (Jer 20:10; 1Col. 4:13), Bearing false witness (Ex 20:16; Deut.5:20; Luke 3:14), judging uncharitably (Matt.7:1; James 4:11,12), raising false reports (Ex 23:1), and repeating matters (Prov.17:9).
(4) One who is guilty of slander and backbiting becomes a talebearer (Lev.19:16), a meddler (Prov.20:3), and a whisperer (Prov.16:28; 2 Cor.12:20), a busybody in other men’s matters (2 Thess.3:11; 1 Tim.5:13; 1 Pet.4:15), and a tattler (1 Tim.5:13).
(a) A talebearer (halak rakiyl) is like a trader, a pedlar, and he travels about “selling” scandal, spying out and getting the secrets of every person he meets and then telling everyone else.
(b) The meddler (gala) is one who is always ready to begin strife or become part of trouble.
(c) A whisperer (nirgan, psithurismoi) has the same understanding in meaning as a talebearer of one who enjoys hurting others and separating friends.
(d) A busybody (periergazomai) is one who walks disorderly, idle, busy to stir up strife.
(e) One who judges with an evil motive (mê krinete) uses unjust criticism in order to condemn. Matthew 7:1-5; Matthew 5:11; 2 Tim.3:3)

ii. The other category that God condemns concerning sins of the tongue is just as serious. This sin of the tongue has various names: tattler (Eccl.10:11); empty babbling (1 Tim.4:7; Prov.29:11), idle talk (Prov.14:23; Luke 24:11), every idle word (Matt.12:36), tattling (tattler) (1 Tim.5:13), fables (1 Tim.4:7), foolish talking or jesting (Eph.5:4)

(1) These words seem to indicate more than just talking too much or empty talk, but that in so doing, sin occurs because of careless speech – speaking without sufficient thought (“It just slipped out.”) which reveals the condition of the heart. These idle words do not do good. The context in some cases indicates that these idle words are actually wicked, false, and purposefully hurtful.
(2) A tattler (phluaros) means a person who is always talking.
(3) One who babbles (lashown) is one who talks too much and her speech drives a wedge, separating, offering no protection and increases ungodliness. “A fool speaks all his mind” (Prov.29:11) as did Delilah to Samson (Judges 16:17). Proverbs 10:19 In the multitude of words sin is not lacking, But he who restrains his lips is wise.
(4) One who utters idle words (argos & leros) indicates the real problem is too much time on her hands – lazy, inactive, unemployed.
(5) One who spins fables (muthos) are those who tell untrue stories and claim them as truth.
(6) One who jests (eutrapelia) uses words that can be easily turned to other meanings; good words which, from their connection, and the manner in which they are used, make us think of obscene or offensive meanings.
(7) One who speaks foolishly (morologia) is one who speak as a clown, a buffoon, with the intent to ridicule and make others think less kindly of someone. This person is hard to identify, because he or she is amusing to listen to.
(8) One who judges without all the available facts (kat' opsin) John 7:24; 1 Cor.13:3-6 is also guilty of gossipping.

4. We also have to consider other words that are condemned which have their part in gossip: exaggeration, flattery, lying, misleading and inaccurate speech, deception, hypocrisy, and guile..

5. The Lord takes a very serious view concerning the words we speak, what motivates our words, and the time and place when we speak. 1 Peter 1:15-16; 2 Peter 3:10-14 (“conversation” - behaviour). Women are especially cautioned against gossip, Titus 2:3; 1 Timothy 3:11.

6. THERE ARE TIMES WHEN WE MUST SPEAK – Ecclesiastes 3:7 A time to tear, And a time to sew; A time to keep silence, And a time to speak;
a. RIGHTING A WRONG Matthew 5:23
b. LEGAL TESTIMONY Leviticus 5:1
c. ENCOURAGEMENT Isaiah 41:6
d. REBUKE 1 Timothy 5:20

7. WHAT WILL HELP US TO CONTROL OUR TONGUES??!!
a. God gave us the answer in the Old Testament (Lev.19:18) and Jesus repeated it in the New Testament (Matt.19:19): “You shall love your neighbour as yourself.” A simple command, but it describes the heart God wants in you. Love will seek what is best for another, whether it is your friend, a stranger – or your enemy.
b. What will help us to control our tongues? By understanding that we must learn to control our thoughts and emotions in order to control our tongues (James 1:19; 2 Cor.10:3; Luke 6:45).

8. HELPFUL SAFEGUARDS
a. Understand THE POWER of the tongue James 3:3-10; Proverbs 18:21
b. Know that God will hold us accountable for our words (Matthew 25:31-46).
c. Seek the Lord and serve Him 1 Chronicles 28:9
d. Use the avenue of prayer that God has given us, in asking for forgiveness and strength to overcome sinful attitudes which tempt us to gossip Psalm 19:14; 141:3
e. Learn humility Titus 3:2; Colossians 3:12
f. Be thankful Ephesians 5:3; 1Thessalonians 5:18
g. Speak fewer words Proverbs 10:19; Ecclesiastes 5:3; Proverbs 17:27
h. Avoid useless arguments/discussions Titus 3:9
i. Endure when you have been hurt by gossip. Don’t strike back! Matthew 5:11, 44; 1 Thessalonians 5:15; 1 Peter 3:9; Ephesians 5:2
j. Be ambitious to lead a quiet life, including silence. Laziness goes hand in hand with meddling, so get busy and work! 1 Thessalonians 4:11; 2 Thessalonians 3:10

9. So, can I go visit my neighbour? Can I talk to someone on the telephone? When can I talk? Ask yourself these questions:
a. Am I speaking to the right person concerning what I’m about to say?
b. Is it true?
c. Will it betray a confidence?
d. Will it encourage dissatisfaction, anger, strife?
e. Will it hurt someone unnecessarily?
f. Will it separate friends?
g. Is what I’m about to say second-hand knowledge (and therefore could be inaccurate)?
h. Do I talk just because I enjoy talking?
i. Am I so sure that what I have to say absolutely must be said?
j. Finally – does what I have to say edify (build and not tear down)?

10. Conclusion
a. Psalm 19:14 “Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart Be acceptable in Your sight, O LORD, my strength and my Redeemer.”
b. As feathers tossed into the wind, so do our words fly out and cannot be caught again. Therefore, what manner of words should they be?

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GRANDDADS AND GRANNYS
by Joanne Beckley

Truly, our grandchildren’s world is much different from when we were tikes. Yesterday’s activities, advice and even customs and conventions of a community have not always remained constant. Today, very few children have their grandparents living next door or even across town. Yes, times may have changed, but the need for grandparents has not changed. We may have changed the how, when, and where we manage our skills, but grand-parenting is just as valuable and necessary as it has always been down through the years.

Society offers a number of alternatives in rearing children, but children need a pattern, something that will project a clear direction for them. They need several reference points of direction from the past that give them the stability to reach into the future. Parents can offer one source and grandparents can provide the another. Then there are uncles and aunts, and even great-grandparents who can provide yet more.

It’s a great big world out there, but all too often it only offers hostility to too many children. We as grandparents can help to remove the sense of aloneness they experience and provide a perception of who they are and where they belong in the scheme of things. Fortunately, there are some really great grandparents out there and I’ve been gleaning all the good they have to offer. Perhaps you too might benefit from the following thoughts.

What can grandparents offer? Family security and a sense of history. Someone to talk to who is on your side. Someone to stand and cheer when you do well. Someone who can give that little extra when the budget is too tight. Someone who will listen when mom and dad won’t or cannot.

But grand-parenting requires hard work. We don’t just slide into it when little junior is born. It requires doing some homework BEFORE junior comes along. (And here you thought you were going to retire?!)

1. Good grandparents have the wisdom of God’s word already tucked under their belts. It is the wisdom that has been collected through increased knowledge of God’s word, understanding it, and putting it into daily practice while they reared their own children in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ (2 Peter 3:18. See also Deut.6:2ff and Psalm 78:4-8). When grandparents do not have this to offer their grandchildren, it is like being unable to give them a view of all that life is meant to be and a beautiful hope of eternity with their Father in heaven.

2. Good grandparents see the excitement of each new day. They have a sense of needing to reach out for new experiences, new thoughts, and new goals. Our grandchildren get excited over the smallest things – we can too! This means, we need to avoid voicing aloud our comforting routines, such as: “Don’t bring the grandkids over until after Wheel of Fortune or Jeopardy.” Think about how this can negate your welcome.

3. Good grandparents understand they are not a back-up mom or substitute dad. We need to look at the real mom and dad’s busy schedule, learn about the kids’ sports and who their friends are and find the areas that are lacking that we can fill. We need to be adaptable and available. We have less unfulfilled needs to be purchased. We can even sink some of our funds into higher telephone bills – or learn computer skills. After all, that’s where the kids are these days!

4. Good grandparents are willing to take a chance on being misunderstood by son or daughter, daughter-in-law or son-in-law. There will be times when we make mistakes. But we have learned the value of saying, “I’m sorry. How can I correct the problem?” Obviously, the only way to avoid these kinds of problems is to completely ignore our grandchildren – and we simply cannot afford this as an option. Not if we want to please God.

I like to read Titus 2:2-5 in light of grand-parenting. It is our Lord’s guidelines for mature citizens in His kingdom. Let us take the time to go down the list:

TO GRANDDADS (These are leadership qualities from which grandchildren will truly benefit.)

1. Temperate
This means we should require self-control of the body and tongue, a soberness that isn’t attracted to the empty offers of this world.
2. Dignified
How serious is serious? It means we are fully aware that heaven is watching. It means amidst all the enjoyment we have with our grandchildren, they will still recognize the respect we inspire and develop a desire in themselves to copy or live up to our example.
3. Sensible
This is a granddad who has his mind under control. He has laid aside “every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us,” and is running “with endurance the race that is set before us” (Heb.12:1).
4. Sound in faith
Grandfathers (and grandmothers!) Who are firmly grounded in the faith, steadfast, and not moved from the hope of the gospel (Col.1:23). We rejoice that we have found comfort and peace (2 Cor.13:11).
5. Sound in love
The longer we live in a sinful world the easier it is to slip into bitterness, criticism, and fault finding. Our grandchildren need just the opposite from us. Because we have had to rise from our own faults, mistakes and failures, we have developed a greater understanding of sympathy and tolerance. We need to offer unselfish love just as God offers patience and tender care for us.
6. Sound in endurance (patience, longsuffering, perseverance)

Maturity carries strength, the ability to stand firm throughout each NEW trial, temptation, and heartache. We are ready to face and meet the challenges life throws at us. True, our bodies are growing weaker, but our spirits must grow ever stronger. We can’t afford to back off now or relax our vigil. Our souls depend on it – and so do our grandchildren.

TO GRANDMOTHERS

1. Reverent in behavior
The apostle Peter described reverence well: “holy women who trusted in God also adorned themselves, being submissive to their own husbands” (1 Pet.3:5). Reverence includes offering honor and obedience to God and therefore to become a servant to one another here on earth. Our willing submission to serve continues even as a grandmother to those who need us.
2. Not malicious gossips
I find it interesting that the apostle Paul included this requirement of grandmothers. Obviously we can fall into this very real temptation – because we just KNOW so-and-so is not really trying and we KNOW just how she/he should fix the problem! Someone truly said – “Gossip is a game based on our own pride.” Our grandchildren need to see humility in action, in word and deed.
3. Not enslaved to much wine
Obviously there was a problem among the older women of Paul’s day. Perhaps a hopelessness that sought a solution from the bottle. Maybe even loneliness caused by widowhood. Today, we could include depression, feeling that we are not really needed anymore. Or boredom because we have forgotten how to live. Today, we also need to consider prescription drugs that cause dependence when not monitored correctly. Our grandchildren need us to be there for them. Even if they don’t exhibit any interest in being in our presence, they need to KNOW we are there for them.
4. Teaching what is good
The apostle Paul saw every older woman of God as a teacher of good. What is good? Philippians 4:8 contains an excellent list, and every day presents new opportunities to practice the same. Grandmothers can play a major role in bringing her grandchildren to Christ.

So, let us go to the phone right now and call our grandchildren and end the conversation with “I love you.” Let us write them, one at a time. The suggestion that got me excited, was to purchase a small address book or even use one of those small photo “brag” books. Collect and insert the names, address, and phone numbers, clothing sizes, hobbies, favorite foods, etc of all your grandchildren. Add a picture or two. Keep track of activities, interests in school, personal needs – whatever comes to your mind that will help you to stay in touch with each child, whether 2 or 20 years old. Then, when you write a letter, or make that phone call or video call on computer, or you are at the store, or on a trip, or overseas . . . you are prepared! In this way, you and I can be stay abreast of what is going on and what needs our grandchildren may have that we can provide whenever the opportunity presents itself.

Go Granny Go!