When Mere Words Become the Living Word

by Michelle Lazurek

“Truly I tell you,” Jesus replied, “no one who has left home or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields for me and the gospel will fail to receive a hundred times as much in this present age: homes, brothers, sisters, mothers, children and fields—along with persecutions—and in the age to come eternal life” Mark 10:29-30 NIV

Growing up, my grandmother took me to church every Sunday and I enjoyed it. During my late teens, however, I began to have questions about my faith and started to want more out of my relationship with God.

God, in his sovereignty, began to place people in my life who were on fire for Him. At church, I met a woman who understood my doubts. Soon she invited me to her home for a weekly Bible study. She didn’t try to force me into believing the Word. Instead, she encouraged me to go home and study the Bible for myself.

Several weeks passed as I studied Scripture on my own. Just two weeks before my senior prom, I went forward to the altar at church and gave my life to the Lord. I didn’t tell anyone about this for several months.

When I finally did tell my parents, they were furious. Two days after my absence at Thanksgiving, they stormed into my workplace and asked me to step out into the busy plaza walkway. Once outside, my father told me I needed to pack my things up and leave immediately. When I got home, he opened the garage door to reveal a neat line of black trash bags filled with stuffed animals, clothes, and the rest of my belongings. He tossed them onto the truck, and we headed to my boyfriend’s house.

Without even a goodbye, my father threw the bags onto the driveway, got in his truck and drove away, leaving me on my knees sobbing with my life’s possessions lying around me. In the blink of an eye, I went from having everything I could ever need to poverty, clinging to God with a tentative hope that His Word was true.

One day, I stumbled upon the above passage in Mark. Suddenly I saw the Bible in a new light: it was not just an item on my daily to-do-list, but a living and active love letter to me from God. Its beautiful words were meaningful and transforming. I knew now that I needed to get serious about studying Scripture for myself. My once passive attitude about my spiritual life became active. I began to pray daily, study the Bible consistently, and spend time in silence listening for His voice and guidance.

Psalm 1 promises great benefits to a person who delights in and meditates on God’s Word. They will be “like a tree firmly planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither; and in whatever [they do, they] prosper.” (Psalm 1:3 NASB) The Bible is God’s revelation of Himself. Consequently, the biggest reward in studying the Scriptures is getting to know God on an intimate basis.

It is worth the effort to carve out the time (even if it is just a few minutes) to spend with Him.  The better we know Him, the better we will love Him in return.

michelle lazurekAbout the author: Michelle S. Lazurek is an award-winning author, national speaker, pastor’s wife and mother. A member of the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association, she loves to help people encounter God and engage with the world around them. When not writing, you can find her enjoying a Starbucks latte and collecting vintage records. For more info, please visit her website at www.michellelazurek.com

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Family Matters

by Deb DeArmond

“Tact is the act of making a point without making an enemy.” – Sir Isaac Newton

I love this quote. Turns out Isaac Newton was not just a gravity genius. He apparently was a relationship guru as well. Must have come from a big family.

I was raised as an only child; my only sibling was 16 years my senior. By the time I was two, he had gone off to college and never returned to our home state. We grew close only after I grew up. So, as a child, I had my folks all to myself. I never needed to call “shotgun” to ride in the front seat, never had to split the last cookie with a younger sibling and never had the heartbreak that comes with being asked to sacrificially yield the last of the ice cream to another child in the family.

Sounds like a good deal, doesn’t it? I won’t lie—it was a great life. One I discovered (later in life) my friends envied. But it turns out, there was a dark side.

I never learned to share. Or at least to share graciously.

When required to do so in the midst of a school event or neighborhood pow-wow, I was known to be demanding, bossy and loud about what I wanted. Later I learned it was behavior considered immature. Who knew?!

Experience had taught me differently than it had my multi-siblinged comrades.

I eventually developed the ability to effectively relate to others, but it wasn’t easy, and it wasn’t overnight. And now I wonder how I ever avoided being pushed out, pushed down, or simply outcast. I’m very grateful looking back that it hadn’t gone that way.

Now, as a full-grown adult, I watch as we all struggle with the urge to “have it our way” even in the relationships that are most important to us in life: our marriages or family members – adult kids, sibling in-laws, aunts, uncles, even grandparents have their preferences. It’s hard not to campaign for the thing you want. It can be tough to set aside your own preference without feeling sulky and sullen.

But it’s also not okay to simply let the loudest voice lead.

How do you cope? For starters, stop being the loudest, and start being the clearest voice— to bring a sense of peace and order when the conversation begins to give way to self-interest without regard for the thoughts, feelings, and ideas of others.

We can have candid, open discussion without damaging the people we love the most. Effective communication skills and using the Word of God as our guideline is a foundation that will stand every time.

Here are two Spirit-led reminders, designed to help us walk in love.

Show deference. “Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves…” Romans 12:10 (NIV). Putting the interests of another above our own is counter-intuitive to the flesh. Deferring to others will always cause people to sit up and take notice, because it’s not how the world does things. So this action serves a dual purpose, as it draws attention to our great God.

Be willing to give up your own preference. “…[Love] does not insist on its own way…” (1 Cor. 13:5 ESV). Spirit-led love is not Burger King. It’s not always going to go our way. Set your preference aside and listen. Be willing to be changed by what you hear.

And remember: how you say what you say matters. Volume does not equal leadership.

So, remember, tact counts. Just ask Isaac. Turns out that apple bonk on the head must have loosed some real Godly insight!

When I was a child, I spoke about childish matters, for I saw things like a child and reasoned like a child. But the day came when I matured, and I set aside my childish ways,” 1 Cor. 13:11 (Passion).

DeArmond-29 copyAbout the author: Deb DeArmond is an expert in the fields of communication, relationship, and conflict resolution. A writer and professional speaker, Deb addresses topics related to the family and women. Her books include: Related by Chance, Family by ChoiceI Choose You Today: 31 Choices to Make Love Last and Don’t Go to Bed Angry. Stay Up and Fight! Deb’s books help readers, whether engaged, newlywed, or long-time married, create the life God meant marriage and family to be. You can read more from Deb at Family Matters/Deb.

 Join the conversation: What challenges do you face in communicating with family? What has God taught you about this?