Tears to Joy

Tears to Joy: April 2013

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Burning Words

Several years ago, I stood aghast as I watched my friend’s house go up in flames. She had left her home with her family only thirty minutes earlier. Now I stood in front of the raging fire, staring at her infant in my arms. What would happen now?

The book of James tells us that the tongue is like a small spark that starts a fire. This took on new meaning for me in light of watching the fire wreak havoc on my friend’s home. The tongue’s harm is just as dangerous. Once a word has been spoken, there’s no taking it back. The damage is done, and sometimes the hurtful repercussions have only begun. Words have the power to destroy relationships.

I talked about in an earlier post how the enemy plans to kill, steal, and destroy. Many times he uses our words as weapons. Learning to tame the tongue is difficult, but necessary. We must learn to be quick to listen and slow to speak. This isn’t a lesson we learn once, but one that we have to practice every day of our lives.

The author of Proverbs tells us in 25:11 that a word aptly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver. God can use a kind, compassionate response to diffuse potentially explosive situations. May our words be pleasing and acceptable in your sight, O God!

So, like the children’s song suggests – “O be careful little lips what you say…”


Monday, April 22, 2013

Consider it Joy

I’ve been teaching the book of James in my New Testament classes and several things have jumped out at me. I want to use the next few posts to highlight a few of these thoughts. The first is found in James 1:2, where we are told to consider it pure joy when we encounter various trials. Now I don't know about you, but joy is not my default setting when hard times hit. I want to grumble, complain, and sometimes throw an all-out tantrum. However, God is clear in his message to us that it is through trials that we gain endurance.
I’m a wannabe athlete and have been for a long time. I go through phases when I get obsessive about working out (I love P90X and Insanity), and then I just get plain lazy.  Most recently, I’ve been pretty lazy. Mountains I used to climb with vigor, I now climb with huffing and puffing – why? Because I’ve grown lazy in building my physical stamina.

The same is true of our spiritual muscles. When life is easy, we tend to get lazy. We risk losing our spiritual oomph when our faith isn’t being tested, in the same way that our physical muscles lose strength when we fail to use them.

Now, I don’t want to face struggles any more than the next gal, but I do want to be more like Jesus. I can’t say that I welcome the trials in my life, but I’m learning to consider them joy. I know that they are not in vain. There is meaning and purpose for times of suffering.

So, I’m making a commitment to strive to be better fit, both physically and spiritually, through personal discipline and endurance. Will you join me?

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Monday, April 15, 2013

I've Got the Joy, Joy, Joy, Joy...

It’s been a few weeks since my last entry, because I got married last weekend and so I took a hiatus from blogging. My new name is Natalie Ford, but I’ll continue to write as Natalie Flake so my website will stay the same.

Our wedding day was perfect! The weather was absolutely gorgeous. We were so humbled by the number of guests who came to share in our special day. My groom looked so handsome, and my daughter was glowing as she walked me down the aisle. A friend even told me that as the musicians sang, “Love Song” by Third Day, a yellow butterfly fluttered over the crowd, as if it was celebrating with us.

We are ecstatic about what God is doing in our lives. He truly has turned our tears to joy. Jeff and I have reflected on God’s goodness in bringing us together so many times. This is a year of jubilee in my life!

Saturday night was our first night together as a married couple in our home, and the dog barked all night long. On our way to church Sunday morning, the reason became all too clear. Our pesky neighborhood bear came a callin’.

You see, while we were basking in God’s goodness, the bear was busy digging up our trash. Isn’t this how Satan works? God wants us to experience his joy and peace, but the enemy comes to kill, steal, and destroy. There have been so many times in the past when I’ve let Satan steal my joy by changing my focus to my “past garbage” or to difficult circumstances. We have to be on defense, meditating on the Word and clinging to Christ.

God has made all things new. He is our Redeemer. He is our Peace. He is Perfect Love. Don’t let the enemy throw your trash in your face to paralyze you from moving forward. Celebrate the greatness of our Father!

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