Several years ago, the Lord impressed upon me the importance of recognizing the role of perspective in my life. In the process of getting understanding about perspective, I also realized that once I understand my perspective there is much work to do. The work includes: finding out if that perspective aligns with the Word of God, what are the practical aspects of the perspective and how does a particular perspective shape my actions. Perspective alone, unchallenged can be tricky. Here is an example of a perspective that I challenged and was forced to change: Being a wife and mother means I have to put my husband and children first at all cost. Since I strive to live a life where others are esteemed more highly than me (Philippians 2:3), my notions of first meant exactly that. What I had to challenge was what God meant by “esteeming others more highly than self”. I had to note that the scripture did not say “put others first.” I then had to gather the data in my mind on how I had learned that “more highly than self” meant “first”. When all was said and done, I could not make the two things equal. I had equated doing all things for all people in my household, to the point of exhaustion and resentment, as meaning that I was serving them in the highest. Something had to give! My children were unable to pick up socks, place dishes in the dishwasher or replace toilet paper on the holder. I was not putting them first at all, I was causing them to take home for granted. My future son and daughter-in-law would hate me for what I was doing to create two unskilled household monsters. Perspective adjustment time. I changed my perspective to one of training and teaching home life skills as the way to truly put my family first. Loving my children enough to care about their long range goals of being a good husband and good wife was actually putting them first as God would see it. Since I have no interest in living with them any longer than I have to, making sure that they can run a household without me is the highest way for me to serve them. The way that the Lord modeled this for us is to send Jesus to be the perfect example for us on earth and as our Redeemer by His shed blood on the Cross. God trains us through various ways for our ultimate success in our fellowship with Him, our serving others and preserving our minds to guard against bitterness. No, “esteeming others more highly than self” does not equal “first” – it equals “Love”!
“If you need a car, a car dealer will do. If you need a house, a realtor can come to your rescue. If it’s diamonds you need, go to the jeweler down the street. But go to the throne of God, if it’s peace that you seek. Call up a podiatrist, if your feet have put you down. Make your way to a seamstress for that extra special wedding gown. A dentist can be called, if your tooth begins to ache. But none can do like Jesus, when your heart begins to break. You say your furniture looks shabby, an upholsterer can make it chic. If Climbing Mt. Everest is your dream, a Sherpa can take you to the peak. Give a shout to your tailor, if a suit can set you apart. The Holy Spirit is who I recommend, if you need comfort for your heart. You see earthly things can be handled by those applying earthly measure, but only God can give us truly heavenly treasure.(c) November 20, 2013.
Humbly Written and Submitted by Pamela Baker
Dedicated to Clyde, Brittany and Breanna Dyson – the best of Theda’s heart!
On August 19, 2012, I was sitting in the Alexandria, Louisiana airport alone with my thoughts. My mind quickly turned from the ease of getting through the security line to the heart-wrenching situation that I had just experienced over the past 5 days. My precious friend, Theda Mines Dyson, had been called home to our Lord and I was heading back to North Carolina after the home going celebration – leaving her family to gather their lives back together and trust God for daily peace. What I was feeling was familiar, as I had experienced the death of my brother-in-law suddenly about 2 years ago. As with his death, I found myself struggling with feelings of Theda being ripped away. I sensed what seemed to be an actual tearing of my emotions. This was complex stuff and I was going around in circles. I was praying a little bit and thinking a little bit. Finally, I felt the Holy Spirit prompting me to write. The same question immediately came to mind that often does in trying times. Pam, what have you learned? “Already?” I thought. “Won’t the learning come later?” How could I have learned anything, when I couldn’t even think or pray straight? No, this one was quick. Got it! The learning was in the reason I was so deeply effected by Theda’s sudden departure- time really is of the essence. Ecclesiastes 3:1-2 speaks of the seasons of life and that there is a time to die. Since such time is beyond our control, a lesson here must be to treat each relationship with which we’ve been blessed as treasure. Put peace before pride, place a premium on speaking the truth in love and by all means forgive and keep no records. God reminded me that Theda and I had never had an argument about anything, so Theda’s sudden departure did not represent regrets about unspoken things or unresolved problems. As imperfect as we both were, God had given us an immeasurable gift. He had blessed us to walk out the spirit and letter of 1Corinthians 13:4-7. There had been nothing lacking in our communication or otherwise in the entire 9 years of our friendship. We had laughed together often, prayed together often, we had encouraged each other each time we spoke on the phone or were in each other’s presence and we never forgot to say “I love you”, even on voicemail. So there it was soothing my heart, a quick but powerful lesson. God wanted me to honor Him, Theda’s life and the lesson by treasuring ALL of my relationship’s in the good times and bad. Each day I get presents a new opportunity to run towards peace through the door of love.
Two years ago my father passed away from this earth and went where the pain of cancer would be no more – Heaven. I took the time to make an assessment of his life and the legacy he left behind. Within a few months, I realized the great things that I had been given by my father. I also quickly recognized how wonderful it was to not have any financial burdens from his death. He left just enough money to cover his funeral and that was it! What a gift to be able to move on to the most important part of death which is how to keep on living. I asked myself questions like, “how were we alike?”, “what did he really care about that I really care about?”, “what do I really know about my daddy?”. Before I tell you where I landed on some of these questions, let me say that this process was truly amazing. In some respects, I fought through sadness and anger to see the positive, but I made it through. The only lasting regret that I have is that I wish I had realized some of these things before his death and could have thanked him. I choose now to thank him with a life well lived which honors God and him. The answers to the questions provide some important guiding principles for how to embark upon more intentional living – through my father’s eyes. So to the answers. My daddy was a finisher. He cared deeply about finishing what he started and doing the task well. My daddy was a decision maker. He could gather data quickly by assessing people and situations and could communicate his decision with full detail on how he arrived there. My daddy cared deeply about people. He looked to encourage others in their walk with Christ as well as in daily living that would produce joy. He did his best to testify about things he had not done so well in life so as to help his family to not fall prey to some of his demons. Of course, my daddy had his faults that seemed bigger than his positive attributes. I can tell you now, however, that it would have been well worth it before his death to not define him by his faults. My daddy cared deeply about me and my 9 siblings and the legacy he left to us. The best of his legacy is being carried out right now as you read. A legacy based on caring about the ways of Christ and how we are to take care of each other in the good times and the bad times. Take your time to assess relationships and situations in your life and perhaps you will see how I arrived at knowing that I too am a finisher, a decision maker and an encourager all by looking “Through my Father’s Eyes.”
The Word Faith movement and its bogus teachings are rampant. My heart is often grieved (and sometimes enraged to be honest) when I hear fellow christians take and use scripture so out of context. My father, before his passing last year, sat me down and said “pay attention to words, baby – they matter!” He was an avid, long -time student of rightly dividing the word of truth and he taught others how to do the same. He would often point out the inconsistencies in what a person would say they believed by asking questions like “Do you take any medications?” The person would answer in the affirmative and he would say “why, if you have the power to speak away your pain or illness would you do that?” He, of course, would be addressing someone who would have just said to him “the Bible says speak those things that are not as though they were” or “don’t claim that”. After a lengthy discussion about the context of the scripture, my dad would often invite further discussion on an ongoing basis with many people. Over the past 10 years or so, I have seen the cutesie church phrases incorporating out of context scripture grow by leaps and bounds. It seems that it started in certain charismatic denominations, but now I find it in the pulpits and pews in almost every denomination. I am mortified at the fact that we will not study scripture for context – both immediate and overall context. I find it sad to think that we have such a desire for the things of this world, as is evidenced by how prosperity teaching has all but consumed many of us, that we will hold tight to wrong teachings with all our might. Many will fight to the point of bitterness when context questions are raised. The question is not of our faith or the promises of God, but of truth of the Word. I am happy to say that my love relationship with the Lord is beautiful in that I am adored by God, I am chastened sometimes, I receive really cool earthly gifts and I am prompted by the Holy Spirit to give (in every way) to serve others. My sisters and brothers, pray for wisdom. Please look deeply into the scriptures for answers. Don’t be afraid to cross reference and look up words in the original texts. And by all means, know that the words we hear and speak MATTER!
“Let your Walk and your Work be your Worship”
For the past year and a half, I have been focusing on producing a new “original” cd. This process has re-focused my thinking on the importance of discipline. My life had gone into a bit of auto-pilot mode where focus on discipline took a back seat to just getting through the day. I believe that discipline, when properly focused, makes excellence a top priority. I also have found that my days are much more productive and FUN! Many years ago, I heard a sermon entitled “why can’t we finish?” The main idea was the importance of being a finisher. I took the theme a bit further and looked at how I can be a finisher and finish well. Galatians 5:22 speaks of the fruit of the spirit called “self-control.” Maybe God wants to cultivate this fruit in us because it truly causes us to know how important it is to Him to think through our actions and words. On its face, self-control seems to be boring and stale. To the contrary, it actually brings peace and love into greater focus, since being out-of-control tends to cause strife and dissention. Self-control is the starting point of discipline. Discipline is not the finish line, but it sure feels great to have all of my senses alive, fully firing and dancing! Discipline has caused me to see finishing well as my reasonable service to my family, my friends and to Christ.
“Let your Walk and your Work be your Worship”