Stirring Spoons by Beth Smith (My Mom)

When you simmer stew, if you don’t stir the pot, food can stick to the bottom and ruin the dish. Stirring also lets you check on what’s in the pot, culling anything that doesn’t belong.

  • Oops! That carrot got too brown. It must have stuck to the bottom.
  • Too much flour. Look at those lumps! Out they come.
  • My goodness! What’s that tomato stem doing in there?

God often stirs us to keep us from sinking down to, and sticking at, our lowest level. Or he may allow us to be stirred in order to remove what doesn’t belong.

What does God uses as stirring spoons? People and circumstances. A stirring may go like this, in your head, that is:

  • “If she asks me one more time to clean the garage, I’m going to throw something.” What’s in that pot? Anger?
  • “If he doesn’t clean that garage, I’m not going to cook for a week. He’ll starve.” (Hmmm, is that a little revenge floating to the top?)

Try to find what’s being stirred to the surface in the life of this fictional lady:   

“I’m never early, never late. Jane always admires my perfect timing when I pick her up. Ugh! I told those kids to bring in their bikes. I’ll be late now because I have to do it. I’m going to ground them for a week.

“Hi, Jane. Get in the car. No, I’m not late. You must have come out early. Well, good grief! Look at that stupid, careless driver! He didn’t stop at that stop sign, and look at him on his cell phone, thinks he’s so important. Humph! Where’s a cop when you need one? Well, if we just had a good governor, things would be different. Man! Politicians! Lazy bunch of no good…I hate that guy on the City Council, you know the one who…”

Stir. Stir. Stir! What came to the surface, provoked by nearby people and circumstances? Impatience, judgmental attitude, meanness, self-righteousness, pride, covetousness, anger?  We surely don’t want those stuck in us. So…

1 Thessalonians 5:18 (NIV) says, “Give thanks in all circumstances.”

Romans 8:28-29 (NIV) tells us, “We know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son.” God uses stirring spoons, often those irritating people and circumstances to show us our weaknesses and to help us become more like him.

What do we do? Here’s a hefty starter list:

  • Thank God for whoever or whatever brought a sinful reaction to the surface. (We have to see it before we can get rid of it.)
  • Ask God to bless the person he used.
  • Give the reaction to Jesus with open honesty. Hatred, self-righteousness, pride…there’s no need to disguise it or analyze it. Just acknowledge that Jesus died for that sin.
  • Repent, be truly sorry, and desire to change.
  • Ask God to replace what the stirring spoon revealed with the fruit of his Holy Spirit.

This week when a stirring spoon comes along, let’s all follow those steps and rejoice that we aren’t sticking to the bottom of the pot. We’re getting rid of a lot of junk. God is working on us for our good, and that’s worth the stirring.

Photo by Gaelle Marcel on Unsplash

Next Word: Modesty

A Formal Definition: Lack of vanity or pretension. Moderation. Propriety.

For your consideration: Has our culture abandoned modesty?

Limits to this discussion:  For today, let’s focus on physical appearance.

The word modesty struck me on a recent beach vacation. I saw so much flesh. (As in very tiny bathing suits.) But I also saw some people, obviously hailing from a different culture than mine, who were beautifully but modestly attired. I also saw a lot of “Instagramming,” as people struck pose after provocative pose for the camera.

I found myself asking:

Where’s the line on how much skin to show?

How much time is it okay to spend before a mirror or a camera?

I don’t know.

I doubt the answer is the same for every single one of us. Sadly, though, our culture nearly forbids us to even open the issue for discussion. Yet those are two significant questions, as they lead to other important considerations.

Modesty issues affect and reflect our inner selves.

  • How do we feel about our appearance?
  • How important is our appearance?
  • How much time and money should we spend on how we look?

Our choices about modesty also affect those around us. An old saying claims that “my right to swing my fist ends just short of the tip of your nose.”

  • What sort of thoughts or distractions are we provoking in other people?
  • What are we teaching our children about the importance of appearance?
  • What are we missing in the needs of other people when we focus on their looks (or our looks)  first?

It’s not our job to decide what other people ought to wear or how they ought to use their cameras. I don’t think we need to go around looking dull or drab. But it’s time to ask hard questions about our choices, even if the answers mean we’ll live a little counter to the culture.

Let’s be rebels. Let’s be willing to be different.

So let the conversation begin! What are your thoughts about modesty?

Photo by Photo by Elizeu Dias on Unsplash.

Practical Proverbs Part 2

The practical, although challenging, advice given in the book of Proverbs is worthy of careful study. Here’s the rest of my abbreviated list of what God is asking us to do with his help.

Be financially wise.

“Dishonest money dwindles away, but whoever gathers money little by little makes it grow” (13:11).

“Do not wear yourself out to get rich; do not trust your own cleverness.” One version says, “Have the wisdom to show restraint.” (23:4).

“The greedy bring ruin to their households, but the one who hates bribes will live” (15:27).

Choose friends wisely.

Walk with the wise and become wise, for a companion of fools suffers harm” (13:20).

“A gossip betrays a confidence; so avoid anyone who talks too much” (20:19).

Discipline your kids.

Whoever spares the rod hates their children, but the one who loves their children is careful to discipline them” (13:24).

“Discipline your children, for in that there is hope; do not be a willing party to their death” (19:18).

A rod and a reprimand impart wisdom, but a child left undisciplined disgraces its mother…Discipline your children, and they will give you peace; they will bring you the delights you desire” (29:15,17).

Be willing to give and receive godly counsel.

Whoever rebukes a person will in the end gain favor rather than one who has a flattering tongue” (28:23).

“A fool spurns a parent’s discipline, but whoever heeds correction shows prudence” (15:5).

Whoever heeds life-giving correction will be at home among the wise. Those who disregard discipline despise themselves, but the one who heeds correction gains understanding” (15:31-32).

Overlook offense. Control your temper.

Whoever would foster love covers over an offense, but whoever repeats the matter separates close friends” (17:9).

A person’s wisdom yields patience; it is to one’s glory to overlook an offense” (19:11).

“It is to one’s honor to avoid strife, but every fool is quick to quarrel” (20:3).

Be self-controlled.

Do not join those who drink too much wine or gorge themselves on meat, for drunkards and gluttons become poor, and drowsiness clothes them in rags” (23:20-21).

If you find honey, eat just enough—too much of it, and you will vomit” (25:16).

Appreciate your wife.

He who finds a wife finds what is good and receives favor from the Lord” (18:22).

Houses and wealth are inherited from parents, but a prudent wife is from the Lord” (19:14).

“A wife of noble character who can find? She is worth far more than rubies” (31:10).

Whew! That’s plenty for me to work on! How about you? Which one do you find the most challenging?

Of course, I didn’t cover everything the book of Proverbs has to say. ‘Hope you’ll spend some time reading it on your own in the coming weeks, and that you’ll share your discoveries with me.

Practicality

If you tend to stick to reading the New Testament, then you’re missing out on a lot of help in life. Let me encourage you to read through the book of Proverbs (maybe several times.) You’ll be blown away by its practicality. It’s a virtual feast (see, now the photo fits) of good advice! Here’s a sampling. (Since every quote is taken from the book of Proverbs, I’ve only listed the chapter and verse for each one.)

Pay attention to what God says.

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight” (3:5-6).

To do what is right and just is more acceptable to the Lord than sacrifice” (21:3).

“Every word of God is flawless; he is a shield to those who take refuge in him” (30:5).

Guard your heart.

Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it” (4:23).

A heart at peace gives life to the body, but envy rots the bones” (14:30).

Watch your mouth. (This starts with guarding your heart.)

The hearts of the wise make their mouths prudent,and their lips promote instruction” (16:23).

Keep your mouth free of perversity;  keep corrupt talk far from your lips” (4:24).

The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit” (18:21).

Don’t be lazy.

“A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest—and poverty will come on you like a thief and scarcity like an armed man” (6:10-11).

Be humble.

When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom” (11:2).

Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall” (16:18).

Pride brings a person low, but the lowly in spirit gain honor” (29:23).

Be kind.

A kindhearted woman gains honor, but ruthless men gain only wealth. Those who are kind benefit themselves, but the cruel bring ruin on themselves” (11:16-17).

“Whoever is kind to the poor lends to the Lord, and he will reward them for what they have done” (19:17).

“The generous will themselves be blessed, for they share their food with the poor” (22:9).

Easy to do? Maybe not, but these words of wisdom are so important and, clearly, what God is asking us to do, with the help of the Holy Spirit. (‘Cause we’ll all fail miserably on our own.) Next week I’ll give you the verses that talk about financial wisdom, choosing friends, raising kids, handling rebuke, becoming self-controlled, and appreciating your wife (!).  Stay tuned! And have a great week.

‘Couldn’t Have Said It Better Myself

This week, please take a look at the article found in the link below. It’s terrific!

What If Our Happy Place Isn’t a Location?

It’s Who You Know

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Years ago a good friend showed me a conference brochure. It promoted a list of sought-after speakers, all wildly successful in their recent business or ministry endeavors. One of the young men pictured is a friend of mine, and I have been privileged to help him in small ways. I felt a little surge of pride.

There’s good pride — the “Isn’t it cool to watch how God is working” kind, and bad pride –the “Isn’t it cool that I’m important” kind, and at that first moment I’m not quite sure which I felt. In the next moment, though, my mind began to list all the ministry leaders I know who would take my call. By then I was definitely in the “bad pride” arena. I remembered having dropped many of their names during a long car ride just a week earlier. Then, as a firm but gentle rebuke, I could almost hear these words, whispered to my heart by our loving Lord.

“Yes, they’d take your call. The really big deal, though, is that I will take your call any time of day or night. That’s what makes you important. And I will take the call of every person in this room. That’s what makes them important, too. You are all of equal value.

Yes, it’s Who we know. But let’s all get this point straight, the only One we need to know, the One who gives us inestimable value, is the Lord God Almighty. And we can all know him. I invite you in this Holy Week to join me in getting to know him better, in learning to follow him more closely, and in embracing life with him every moment of every day.

And Happy Easter!