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When tempers flare in cultural dialogue

Posted by on Jan 24, 2019 in Daily walk | Comments Off on When tempers flare in cultural dialogue

In light of the recent conflict concerning the Covington Catholic School boys and all of the intense, often hugely judgmental dialogue that has followed, I posted this verse and two-sentence comment on Facebook.

“Because lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will grow cold. But the one who endures to the end will be saved.” Matthew 24:12-13

This applies to all of us. Guard your hearts out there.

Many people “liked” the post; some commented and expressed their exhaustion with our cultural conversational warfare. In response to the back and forth, I posted this:

“We must all do our best to apply this warning of Jesus to our own thoughts, attitudes, and conversations with everyone. The temptation to hate those who think differently than we is cleverly coated with a sense of self-righteousness…but to resist that, we’ve got to be shrewd as serpents, harmless as doves.

“The thing that hit me about our current Catholic kid story is when I recognized that BOTH SIDES of the commenters have similarly intense strong convictions–right or wrong–AND similar responses of offended self-righteousness toward one another! I saw that for us to be effective, we must learn to navigate NOT ONLY the issues in question, but also our own sense of being slighted, disrespected, or being misunderstood. And when attacked, it matters not which side of an issue we are on, if our RESPONSE is from wounded ego, hurt feeling, offense, or bruised pride, we aren’t going to effect the change that we so desire to bring about…we will do the opposite of what we want: We will push people further into what we perceive as delusion. Goes for both sides!

“That’s why I believe many progressives are currently shooting themselves in the foot…they are reacting so strongly, so vehemently, and so judgmentally. People who don’t take sides are really getting their fill of that (think Kavanaugh confirmation era viciousness) and tend to want to side with the less “spit-spewing” side. Those of us who embrace a more conservative, traditional worldview can be every bit as tempted to react with similar vehemence, judgmentalism, and dogged self-righteousness. However, when we speak our peace in love, are patient when wronged, honest, bold, yet never vicious, we can watch what God will do. He will help us!”

Praying that each of us press on to “study to show ourselves approved” not only in CONTENT but also in DELIVERY.

Dorothy

© 2019, Dorothy Frick

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Abandon the quarrel before it starts

Posted by on Apr 5, 2017 in Daily walk | Comments Off on Abandon the quarrel before it starts

The beginning of strife is like letting out water, So abandon the quarrel before it breaks out.” Proverbs 17:14

Have you ever waded into the breached dam of contention? Before you know it, you find yourself swept away in a torrent of hurt feelings and strife. Family members or friends dear to your heart seem like bitter enemies after such an encounter. Your soul stings with every thought of them; the pain demands resolution, but fear of stepping back into the flood waters of angry words and dredged up past transgressions freezes you into inactivity.

Perhaps you’ve never experienced this. Perhaps you navigate relationships with grace, thoughtfulness, and dignity, confronting every disagreement with wisdom, kindness, and fairness, humbly taking into consideration your own weaknesses as well, bringing every potential conflict to a quick, peaceful, and loving resolution.

I WISH I could say this about myself. I cannot. You see, I have found myself in the tango of turmoil more than once, even after swearing to myself “NEVER AGAIN” and committing to wise and peaceful discussions—or deflections—whichever seems to suit my fellow “disagreer”.

How, how, how, I asked myself recently, do I train myself to abandon the quarrel before it busts down the dam?

Well, the Lord came through for me (yay, God!) with some instruction as I was seeking Him about this. Instruction is good; doing it is better.

Unfortunately, living in this fallen world, I will have ample opportunity to practice. Not sure I’ll be always be proficient; but as a child of the King, He will help me every time I fall to get back up again. It is my fervent desire to grow in this and to put into practice what He has shown me.

Here’s the Scripture the Lord dropped on me as I prayed. First Corinthians 10:13 is a lengthy verse, but it’s enormously helpful. It says

No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it.”

Standing on the edge of an ill-advised quarrel is definitely a temptation. Your pulse quickens as you think of defending of your honor and exposing how very wrong the other person is. However, throwing yourself into the quarrel sucks you right up the vacuum cleaner—trapping you and your “sparring partner” with all of the other dirt!

As I prayed about this verse, God plopped a four-point flow chart down on the inside of me revealing how to deal with the beginning of strife, any time, any place. As an acronym, the first letters of the words He gave me spells the word “ALTAR”—the very spot you must place yourself at the onset of strife—that is, if you want to invite God’s intervention.

  1. ALERT! The Lord showed me that with my most recent quarrel, I had let down my guard. The quarrel had started before I even knew what was happening—and soon enough, I was in the thick of things and neither of us were benefitted. Had I been on the alert, I would have recognized the flashing warning signals…and I would have abandoned the quarrel before it started! It is because we live in a fallen, troubled world that we must be diligent to maintain vigilant, prayerful alertness for the signs of impending “tit-for-tat” verbal “slap fights” (which sometimes manifest as “helpful insights” into the other person’s secret motives or varied dysfunctions) before we get swept up in the flood of contention and hurt.
  2. LOOK to the Lord. Once you realize that you and your friend are cruisin’ for a contention bruisin’, immediately force your attention to the One who loves both of you. Look to the Lord for help; don’t look to your mental database for a quick list of past transgressions they’ve committed against you. If you will take charge right then—right when the strife starts—and quietly invite the Lord into the conversation, I believe God will arrive on the scene to intervene.
  3. TRUST Him. He has answers, solutions, and a way of escape. As you are busy trusting Him, your mind won’t be hashing and rehashing your best comeback to their points against you. Trusting Him to do what He does best—being God—will open the door for Him to step into the middle of your situation.
  4. AND (Don’t leave this next part out!)
  5. RECEIVE the way of escape. As soon as you are alert to the onset of strife, look to God and trust Him to open up your escape route…and He will. Your next step? Abandon the quarrel, receive the way of escape He’ll provide—and take it…all the while resisting the urge to land one last jab.

I realize this set of steps—ALTAR—seems simplistic. However, the weeks, months, and years of hurt and blame that emerge from the crippling incapacitation of verbal slap fights consisting of dominance-jockeying, recitation of past transgressions, labeling/name-calling, and harsh judgments destroy relationships and send many lives down bitter dead-end paths of sullen despair, callous resentment, or defeated hopelessness.

By no means does Scripture teach that confrontation is always harmful; the Bible calls us to go to the brother who has offended and speak to him about it. It also urges us to go to the people we hurt and apologize. We are even called to bring a word of correction to one who has strayed. However, never are we commanded to jockey for dominance, recite old laundry-lists of transgressions, brand each other with demeaning labels, or hit one another with harsh judgments.

May God help all of us as we navigate the ups and downs of every relationship in our lives.

Dorothy

If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men.  Romans 12:1

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The good fight of faith

Posted by on Mar 17, 2017 in Daily walk, Help from God | Comments Off on The good fight of faith

“Fight the good fight of faith…” 1 Timothy 6:12
I feel like I should share this for anyone who is facing a nagging, persistent trial.
 
A week ago, I woke up with a neck ache. I took my go-to three ibuprofen and a 3-shot espresso drink. (I usually don’t experience this kind of pain, but when I do, these things seem to help.) Everything was fine until a couple of hours later when wavy lines disrupted my vision–the aura, or precursor to a migraine. Three more ibuprofens, three more shots of espresso, and I waded through a day full of dull, icky misery.
 
Of course, with all that caffeine piled up in my system I didn’t fall asleep that night until 2:45 am, so the next day, March 11, was pretty much a lost day for me…the day before my birthday, when I usually take the time to reflect, pray, and hear from God for the next year. UGH!
 
My birthday, March 12, was the first day of daylight savings time. Did I ever NOT need to lose an hour of sleep! But I decided to look at the positive–extra daylight started on MY birthday this year 🙂 and I got up to go to church to teach my singles’ Sunday school class, then on to the main service, followed by a birthday lunch with friends in my honor, then on to an evening prayer meeting.
 
Well, wouldn’t you know it? As I was feeding the cats at the crack of dawn, WAVY LINES started disrupting my vision again. ON MY BIRTHDAY!!! My first instinct was to yell, “NO!!!” and pray (definitely with some anger!) against this massive interruption to my day. I pictured all the things I absolutely couldn’t cancel and remembered how AWFUL I had felt with the same symptoms just two days before. I grabbed the ibuprofen and was well into my triple espresso when I heard the Lord say softly and simply, “Sing. Just sing.”
 
So with wavy lines and images of inevitable pain, I sang. I made up songs to God about His healing power and love. I made up songs to Jesus about the horrible brutality He endured that one Friday for me. I sang as I dressed. I sang as I put on my make up. I sang as I fixed my hair and brushed my teeth (a spitty little song). I sang as I gathered my materials into the car for Sunday school. I sang as I pulled out of the garage. I sang all the way to church….and as I was sitting at the stop light on Boone’s Crossing bridge to take the last leg to church–still with wavy lines disrupting my vision–I heard the Lord say softly to my heart, “This is what the good fight of faith looks like.”
 
And it hit me. All too often we don’t think we’ve done squat as far as faith in God is concerned if we see no improvement. That’s where we are greatly mistaken. The fight isn’t the fight once things are DEALT WITH–THAT’S when the fight is OVER! The GOOD fight of faith occurs while the pain is still hammering away–AND as we keep forcing our eyes and attention Godward!
 
I’m glad to say, I was able to teach my class, go to church, enjoy my birthday lunch, and hit the prayer meeting….without pain and, thank God, with ever-diminishing eye waviness!
 
Don’t be discouraged by HOW LONG the fight is taking. Don’t let the testimonies of others who fought shorter fights make you think you’re doing it all wrong. Just fix your eyes on Him who bore shame, pain, brutality, and death for you…and leave the rest in His capable, loving hands. He is faithful, and He WILL bring it to pass.
“…fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Hebrews 12:2)
“…Faithful is He who calls you, and He also will bring it to pass.” 1 Thessalonians 5:24
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To turn the hearts of the fathers

Posted by on Feb 9, 2017 in Daily walk, Prayer Perspective | Comments Off on To turn the hearts of the fathers

It is he who will go as a forerunner before Him in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers back to the children, and the disobedient to the attitude of the righteous, so as to make ready a people prepared for the Lord. Luke 1:17

One morning toward the end of 2016 as I was keeping my appointment with God, I heard this snatch of a verse: “…to turn the disobedient to the attitude of the righteous.” I looked it up and found it in the book of Luke. It was the angel’s proclamation to Zacharias, John the Baptist’s father, about this yet-to-be conceived child.

I thought about my generation and the swelling tide of disobedience and chaos throughout the earth…particularly in America. I want nothing more than to see an outpouring of hunger and thirst for the things of God and a moving of His Spirit upon every living soul in this generation—including the rebellious.

As I began praying about this, however, I glanced back at the Scripture open upon my lap. In my New American Standard Bible one phrase was capitalized to show it was an Old Testament quote. It read this way:

…TO TURN THE HEARTS OF THE FATHERS BACK TO THE CHILDREN…

I couldn’t tear my eyes away from it. I knew God was showing me something I’d never thought about before. And then it hit me: The hearts of the fathers had drifted away from their children, and it was epidemic in our culture and world—and this turning away—this gross disinterest—was responsible for most of the chaos and upheaval surrounding us.

I thought of my dad and his difficulty with showing affection. I thought of his temper and tendency toward punitive actions and belittling words. And yet despite his massive flaws and mistakes I knew his heart was for me…and knowing that had helped to keep me somewhat steady in life.

Then I thought of my days as a camp counselor. We all knew it: you were either staff-oriented or camper-oriented—you either put the kids first or you prioritized hanging out with or flirting with other counselors.

I also thought about my teaching career. I had observed some who consistently arrived to school as late as possible and left right after the buses. There were those who sat in the lounge “chill-axin’”throughout every break; others stayed glued to their computer most of the day; and toward the end of my career, as smart phones worked their way onto the scene, I knew of teachers who constantly texted back and forth to each other while supervising students.

I thought of ministries and para-ministries, men and women in governmental positions (both elected and appointed), business leaders and executives, even those in volunteer roles—and yes, fathers and mothers. In every one of these cases, I could instinctively recognize those who prioritized “my ministry; my office; my position; my career; my needs; my desires; my gifting; my talent; my abilities; my expertise, my insight” above everything else. These were the ones—the “fathers”—of whom the angel spoke, whether they were male or female; whether they had children of their own or not.

These were the ones whose hearts had turned away from the children. These were the ones who viewed with gross disinterest those entrusted to their stewardship . These were the ones whose hearts were stuck on self.

You see, my dad was extremely dysfunctional and often unkind; but he wasn’t stuck on self. There’s a big difference.

And I then I saw it. Our nation doesn’t so much need a spiritual outpouring on the disobedient; instead, what we desperately need is a move of God on the fathers—on every last one of us called to leadership in any capacity—whether to steward, shepherd, teach, nurture, guide, direct, correct, or oversee anyone else. Without such a move, the full outpouring of the Holy Ghost upon the rebellious, the disobedient, and the unpersuadable will be stifled.

The hearts of those in leadership must be broken and redirected once again to genuine care for those under their oversight.

And as for the rest of us? I sense the same is true for both you and me: Consider your ways toward those entrusted to you—whether they be many or few. Is your heart genuinely toward them—sincerely listening, pondering, and probing the Spirit of God on their behalf—or is there some “stick-age” in your stewardship—gross disinterest—stuck on self?

Don’t feel bad if you discover you’ve been stuck on self; all of us have been to some extent or other. But now it’s time for the One who has stewardship over each one of us to correct, redirect, and transform our focus, unsticking our stick-age, and to bring our hearts into alignment with His heart…turning us back in genuine concern for those He’s entrusted to each one of us…eradicating any remnant of gross indifference from our souls.

And I believe that as those of us in any leadership capacity at all will yield to Him and turn in real compassion toward those He’s given us, then “the disobedient and incredulous and unpersuadable” will turn “to the wisdom of the upright” (see Amplified Classic) and be transformed.

Lord, prepare us to follow You fully—even in this!

Dorothy

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The power of a praying grandma

Posted by on Jul 30, 2014 in Daily walk, Prayer Perspective | Comments Off on The power of a praying grandma

I dedicate the following story to those of you who are laboring in prayer for your children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews, brothers, sisters—anyone and everyone near and dear to you—who seem to be disinterested in the things of God, who might even appear to be growing more and more closed off to the Lord.

My grandma was the only light in the family for years and years and through her untiring witness and prayers, God supernaturally pulled me out of the darkness in which I was drowning, and set me upon the Rock of my salvation. And even though my grandma is no longer here, those prayers she prayed are still before God, still powerful, and still moving on the hearts and minds of her other grandchildren—whether they know it or not—and now this granddaughter is in full agreement with those decades-old prayers.

My grandma was a Southern Baptist dynamo. She was so passionate about her family having a saving relationship with Jesus that the majority of them despised her for it. Sure, they loved her, but they thought she was a religious fanatic, and she made them very uncomfortable.  And they let her know it.

Grandma’s three daughters all pulled out of the Oklahoma dust-bowl Depression to put themselves through college. Each one married intellectual men—my mom married an engineer and my two aunts married professors (one of whom was rumored to be a card-carrying member of the Communist party). Grandma’s pleas of “Are you saved?” rubbed every one of them the wrong way, but she didn’t care. As a kid, I was fascinated by the dynamics and secretly admired her refusal to be bullied out of what was widely viewed by the family to be an offensive and ridiculous stance. I loved my grandma and never felt threatened by her faith.

Grandma, I am sure, prayed nearly as much as she preached, and years later, even though the others in my generation of the family seemed to embrace worldviews far different than hers, I was still seeking.

One night, during a particularly stressful Christmas break, I was sitting in a bar getting drunk as quickly as I could. My friends, all dolled up, were on the prowl for good-looking guys, but I wanted nothing of that. You see, my step-grandma (my dad’s step-mom) had just passed away, and days before Christmas I had surgery to remove a large mass from my breast. As a nineteen year old, right before I went into surgery, I was required to sign a paper stating that the doctors could remove the breast if cancer was found. Although I was relieved to learn that the mass was benign, I was not in a good frame of mind.

So there I was, in a bar that served 19 year olds, getting drunk and spiraling down into cynicism and despair. I absent-mindedly watched as the band played song after song and the patrons danced in front of the musicians. When I noticed that the revelers were swaying with their arms lifted up, I heard a voice in my ear, “Lifted hands are a sign of worship.”

I dropped my head and said, “I’m in hell.”

Days later, while alone at my parents’ home, Jesus visited me, and Grandma’s prayers were answered.

Don’t you give up on your loved ones. Prayers over distance and time are powerful tools in the hand of God. You can be sure that He is working behind the scenes on behalf of a loved one—or a nation—if you don’t grow weary and give up. Stick with it. Don’t quit!

Dorothy

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The power of hope

Posted by on Jul 29, 2014 in Daily walk | Comments Off on The power of hope

…hope does not disappoint Romans 5:5a

Now faith is the substance of things hoped for… Hebrews 11:1a

A guest speaker recently preached at my church and exhorted us about hope. Hope is second of the 1 Corinthians 13 “fruit” trio—faith, hope, and love (see verse 13); and unfortunately, like the proverbial middle child, hope is often underestimated, under-recognized, and easily brushed aside as less significant. After all, without faith it is impossible to please God; and the greatest of the three is love. Where does that leave hope?

I wish you could have heard the message; it was a life-changing, revolutionary spark which ignited the forgotten kindling of hope in my heart, fueling the dormant furnace within me. Hope. It must be guarded. It must be nurtured. It must be fueled. It must be fed.

The man of God spoke from Hebrews 11, the famous chapter about faith. ”Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. For by it the elders obtained a good testimony” (Hebrews 11:1-2, NKJV; emphasis added). He pointed out that mighty faith in God exists only because hope existed first. If a man has no hope, he will not have faith. Hope must be present first because it gives faith something to give substance to.

When you are under attack, you know to resist the devil (see James 4:7). However, if he can get you to believe that your situation is hopeless by wearing you down (which is his goal), your faith will diminish because it has nothing with which to work. “Faith is the substance…”means that your faith undergirds, supports, and gives substance to something—that for which you hope. But if hope is gone, faith undergirds nothing. If hope is gone, faith supports nothing. If hope is gone, faith gives substance to…nothing.

I don’t know about you, but I was shocked to realize how insidiously the enemy had been chipping away at my hope reservoir, using all kinds of methods and angles in his evil hope-erosion strategy. The man of God posed this question to us: “Do you expect as much as you used to?” Then he bluntly stated, “If we’re honest, we really don’t.”

Do nagging limitations, fears of what others might think, or past disappointments loom larger in your mind than expectations based on the Word of God and the Holy Spirit’s leading? If you find you are managing expectations so as to protect yourself against disappointment, then you are granting “open season” to the enemy of your soul to chip away at your hope without any restriction.

Give yourself permission to hope again. Give yourself permission to pull out those dreams, blow off the dust, and let the Lord reinstate them however He desires. Let that smoldering ember of hope deep down in your belly burst back into flame, warming your heart, enlightening your eyes, and reestablishing your vision.

The man of God described hope this way: it keeps the avenue open for tomorrow to be better. Think about it. Tomorrow can be better! Next week can be sweeter! Next month can be an improvement on this month! Next year? Better than this one! You are the gatekeeper of your hope, not the devil, not your friends, not the people in the pew across the church. And as gatekeeper, you have the authority not to allow them or the world or even your past to steal your hope from you any longer.

If you—like most of us—are facing a delay in the fulfillment of your vision, dreams, or desires, you are the gatekeeper of your hope, nonetheless. You cannot allow delay—however long it may be—to bring disappointment and discouragement into your soul any longer. You’ve got to guard your hope; therefore, choose to view every delay you face as God’s opportunity to work behind the scenes, heaping up blessings to pour out upon you at just the right time.

Always be willing to believe “crazy” things—impossible things that align with the Word of God. Be willing, like Caleb and Joshua of old, to possess the land—whatever that land is for you. Let God lead you—He is the author of your hope (as well as your faith)—and He will awaken the slumbering vision He once implanted within you and will reignite the dreams lying dormant in your heart.

Never surrender to hopelessness. Don’t give it place any longer. But my hope has been deferred and now my heart is sick, you may think. Granted, the Word does say “hope deferred makes the heart sick” (see Proverbs 13:12); but that’s a far cry from saying “stuff deferred” or “situations deferred” make the heart sick! You see, you are the gatekeeper of your hope. You determine whether hope stays or goes; not your circumstances, not your unmanifested dreams—and not the devil!

Because your faith grabs hold of what you’re hoping for, you must guard your hope with vigilant watchfulness. Don’t let anything steal it. Stand your ground and allow your heavenly Father to rekindle hope for your future. Believe again that all the fruitful purposes God has planned for you will come to pass. Believe again that by His grace you will see the manifested blessings of God abound day by day for the rest of your life—starting today.

Let your hope spring forth again!

Dorothy

For I know the plans that I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope. Jeremiah 29:11

Such hope never disappoints or deludes or shames us, for God’s love has been poured out in our hearts through the Holy Spirit Who has been given to us. Romans 5:5, Amplified Bible

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