Hate mornings? Encouragement for everyone

I am not a morning person. That doesn’t mean I don’t get up and get with it. I do. But, give me a cup of coffee first, and let me stumble around a minute or two before I’m actually functional.

Other people love mornings. They hit the floor ready to roll. Good for them.

Whatever kind of morning person you are, God has some promises and challenges for you.

Let’s begin with the challenges:

  • Communicate with the Lord first thing. My voice shalt thou hear in the morning, O LORD; in the morning will I direct my prayer unto thee, and will look up (Psalm 5:3). I think of David, Daniel, and Jesus Himself, who sought the Lord each morning. Even if mornings aren’t your best time of day, you can pray before crawling out of bed, dedicating the day to the Lord and asking for His guidance. You can breathe a prayer while you slurp your tea or coffee. Meet Him first.
  • Remember God’s Word in the morning. The Bible is ultimate truth, so it is helpful to refresh our minds in it each morning. I prevented (got up before) the dawning of the morning, and cried: I hoped in thy word (Psalm 119:147).
  • Love the Lord more than you want to see another day. Priorities are so important. God first. The psalmist said, My soul waiteth for the Lord more than they that watch for the morning: I say, more than they that watch for the morning (Psalm 130:6). Jesus admonished His disciples, But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you (Matthew 6:33).

Now, for the promises:

  • But I will sing of thy power; yea, I will sing aloud of thy mercy in the morning: for thou hast been my defence and refuge in the day of my trouble (Psalm 59:16). I love that we can praise God for His power, mercy, and his ability to defend and even be a shelter for us.
  • To shew forth thy lovingkindness in the morning, and thy faithfulness every night (Psalm 92:2). The context is to praise God in the morning and night for His lovingkindness and faithfulness.
  • If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea; Even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me (Psalm 139:9-10). This might be a reference to Jonah, but it is so beautiful about how the Lord sees us, wherever we are, and he leads us and holds us.
  • Cause me to hear thy lovingkindness in the morning; for in thee do I trust: cause me to know the way wherein I should walk; for I lift up my soul unto thee (Psalm 143:8). This prayer for guidance during the day should be our prayer, too.
  • The Lord GOD hath given me the tongue of the learned, that I should know how to speak a word in season to him that is weary: he wakeneth morning by morning, he wakeneth mine ear to hear as the learned (Isaiah 50:4). Of course, this testimony is given by a prophet, inspired by God, but I love how God will open our ears to hear wisdom and give us words to say. He will do this every day, if we trust in Him.
  • It is of the LORD’S mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness (Lamentations 3:22-23). This one is perhaps my favorite.

God’s faithfulness is constant. His mercies and compassions are new every single morning … even if I haven’t yet drunk my coffee.

May your mornings be blessed.

A contentious person–and how I almost became one

How glad I am for God’s Word and prayer.

I recently read something controversial that I felt I needed to answer right away. When I prayed about answering, this verse came to mind: But if any man seem to be contentious, we have no such custom, neither the churches of God (1 Corinthians 11:16). The context of this verse is the controversy about headcoverings and long hair for men and women. It’s not worth arguing about.

Another verse about being contentious says, It is better to dwell in the wilderness, than with a contentious and an angry woman (Proverbs 21:19). An additional Proverb says, A continual dropping in a very rainy day and a contentious woman are alike (Proverbs 27:15).

I don’t want to be a person no one wants to live with or a source of water torture. Quickly, I put my plan to respond to this person to rest.

The Bible uses another colorful illustration about being contentious: As coals are to burning coals, and wood to fire; so is a contentious man to kindle strife (Proverbs 26:21).

No one wants to add fuel to a problem.

You may have thought about times when we’re supposed to contend. Contend means “to strive against.” We’re to contend for the faith (truth, pure doctrine). Defend it.

But, being contentious means arguing for the sake of argument, stirring up strife, nagging, and adding fuel to the fire. In short, it’s being a real pain.

This never helps the cause of Christ.

Jesus gave us this example: He held His peace.

As I get older and—I hope—more mature, I am learning that most controversies don’t require an answer. People have already made up their minds. It is totally useless to argue.

Many of the subjects are silly, too. Who cares if the sky is actually blue or if it is a reflection of certain bands of light and only perceived as blue? We could argue all day. Is it blue? Yes. But, who cares whether it is actually blue or the perception of blue?

We’re supposed to defend the gospel and sound doctrine. But, most battles don’t call for our participation.

In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus said, Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God (Matthew 5:9).

Let’s be peacemakers instead of contentious.

I’m glad I prayed first.

Whatever you do

I was reading Colossians 3, a powerful chapter of instruction for Christians, and the phrase “whatsoever ye do” popped out at me. It reminded me immediately of this first verse in 1 Corinthians.

Let’s read the three verses, and then we’ll find out what we’ve learned.

Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God (1 Corinthians 10:31).

And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him (Colossians 3:17).

And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men (Colossians 3:24).

Whatever we do, we’re to do it:

  • to the glory of God—This means that our actions actually convey honor and glory to God. Do they?
  • in the name of the Lord Jesus—Our words and actions are to be done in Jesus’ name. Are we living so that all our actions and words are done in the name of Jesus?
  • giving thanks to God—Thanksgiving is the mark of a Christian life. Do we give praise in all our words and actions?
  • heartily—”From the soul” is the Greek word’s meaning. Do we do everything from the heart?
  • to the Lord and not men—Pleasing God should motivate a Christian’s walk and talk. Are we God pleasers or men pleasers?

Every one of these verses convicted my soul. My actions, thoughts, words, and motivations fall far short of this ideal.

I am praying that whatever I do today gets closer to these high goals and that something will bring Him glory.

It’s a start.

Non-mask masks, on uncovered faces

By now, we’ve read, heard, and seen enough reactions to mask wearing to make us sick of the idea, whichever way we believe. The purpose of this post isn’t to add to the endless debate. It isn’t even about the debate.

I don’t care what you do.

Your decision.

I was thinking how strange the whole mask thing is, though. In most ancient cultures, people wore masks to pretend they were something else. Greeks, Mayans, Native Americans, African tribes, Brazilian people groups, Japanese actors … nearly everyone has some kind of a mask tradition. Some are religious, some cultural, some play acting, and others are for protection, like the Samurai and knights in Europe, for example.

Before Covid, you would never walk into a bank with any kind of a mask on. Now, everyone does—and in Spain, people stand in a line with 6 feet of space between them, marked on the floor.

Before this year, you would rarely see anyone in an airport or on a walk with a face covering. Now, you can buy them in patterns, motifs, and in colors to match any outfit. Airports require them. Some cities and countries do, too.

Masks are weird things. They hide people.

Most little kids like them. They think they look scary. Several of our grandchildren have “scared” us with their faces in masks. “Grr!” T-Rex is after us. “Boo! Were you scared?”

Yet, in these modern times, we go to the grocery store masked. In the stores that I frequent, we must also wear gloves. (Yes, I understand, and I wear them. No problem.) I wonder what someone would do if I started chasing them and growling or hid and said Boo! It could be hilarious.

Most of the time, masks make us into things we aren’t.

I was thinking about some non-mask masks, the ones people wear even when their faces are completely uncovered. Let me suggest a few.

The Liar’s Mask—Some people are professionals. They can look you straight in the eyeballs and lie. These people are manipulators, cheats, embezzlers, and thieves. They know which strings to pull in order to come out on top. God hates lies. These six things doth the LORD hate: yea, seven are an abomination unto him: A proud look, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, An heart that deviseth wicked imaginations, feet that be swift in running to mischief, A false witness that speaketh lies, and he that soweth discord among brethren (Proverbs 6:16-19).

The Ugly Green Mask—Envy seems to be a common sin among both men and women. It’s about wanting what another has or wanting to be like another person or even disliking a person because they are beautiful, rich, talented, successful, or whatever. Envy is the opposite of contentment. Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee (Hebrews 13:5). This actually means we’re supposed to be content with what we have right now. The last part of the verse means our contentment should be found in God Himself—because He won’t ever turn His back on us. What a beautiful promise!

The Apostle Paul blows me away with this verse, written to the young pastor, Timothy: And having food and raiment let us be therewith content (1 Timothy 6:8). Not even roof, heat, running water, and pumpkin spice latte? Yep, Scripture says so.

We should all keep a look out for ugly green face coverings.

The Friend Mask—Some people act sweet and syrupy when face-to-face, but as soon as you leave, these people will be more than happy to slander, stab you in the back, and spread nasty stories. The old saying, “With friends like these, who needs enemies?” characterizes them. Scripture recommends faithful friends. A friend loveth at all times, and a brother is born for adversity (Proverbs 17:17).

Real friends are honest and helpful. Fake friends aren’t really friends. Faithful are the wounds of a friend; but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful (Proverbs 27:6).

The Goody Two-Shoes Mask—Hypocrites come in all sizes and shapes, but those in churches can do a lot of harm, especially to their own families. On the outside—and at church—they look, talk, and smell like wonderful Christians. But sadly, their insides are cruel, rotten, and abusive. How should we feel about these people? Seriously, they need prayer and careful confrontation. Some pastors are fantastic about sniffing them out and trying to help. Personally, I can take an out-and-out sinner before these two-faced people.

But, when we think about it, we have all worn the Goody Two-Shoes Mask from time to time. Maybe we’re not rotten inside, but we’ve given one impression when the reality was less than nice.

The religious people in Jesus’ day had the same problem. Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men’s bones, and of all uncleanness (Matthew 23:27). Let’s not be like them.

The Real Mask—This one looks just like the person under it. It isn’t false at all. With this person, what you see is what you get. They are the genuine deal, transparent, honest, good through and through. How I appreciate someone like this!

Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering; Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye. And above all these things put on charity, which is the bond of perfectness. And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him (Colossians 3:12-17).

A genuine Christian shows his face. He acts like a child of God and glorifies God by loving others. Real Christians are thankful and pleasant to be around.

If you’re going to wear a mask, wear this last kind.

You’ll be beautiful.

Girls ask, “Where are all the good men?”

When I was a college student there were all kinds of jokes about the scarcity of good men. I’ll refrain from sharing them, because they weren’t kind. To be fair, there were a lot of excellent men on our Christian campus. Many of those men are still faithfully serving God and have proven that their faith hasn’t wavered over the years. Some are already with the Lord, and other guys didn’t follow God at all. It is the way things shake out wherever you are.

Unfortunately, good men and good women sometimes get overlooked and unnoticed.

Why?

There are several reasons:

  • They tend not to be as flashy as modern, trendy people.
  • A good man is serious and hardworking. This means he is busy and not out socializing.
  • Good means godly. And, godly means his values are biblical. His number one goal is to please the Lord. He’s not looking for silly entertainment.

It is hard to find a good man.

He is disciplined in his mind and interests. This guy usually isn’t the big man on campus or a social butterfly. He isn’t even the star in Christian circles. The good man is Christlike—and that means humble, sweet, and gentle. He’s the guy who flies under many girls’ radar.

If you are a young woman, don’t despair. There are still wonderful Christian men out there, but they might not be the ones you are noticing.

So, what should you look for? Let me qualify that. I don’t believe good women go on the prowl, looking for a man. A good woman lets the Lord guide their meeting. In the Bible, you never see a good woman out looking.

But, there is nothing wrong with keeping one’s eyes open.

A good man:

  • Loves God with all his heart, mind, and soul. This means he refrains from activities that don’t please God. It also means that he is faithful to his church and active in ministry. How can you meet a good man? Love God yourself. Refrain from displeasing the Lord, and be active and faithful in your local church. (Interestingly, both of our children met their future spouses in church.) Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind (Matthew 22:37).
  • Loves people. This means that a good man thinks of others first. If you notice that a guy is all about himself, he has a problem with pride. This is a red flag. He will never treat you right, if he doesn’t put others before himself. And the second (commandment) is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself (Matthew 22:39).
  • Works hard. A man who works hard accomplishes things. Lazy is not good. Period. For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat (2 Thessalonians 3:10).
  • Is faithful. This guy is faithful to the Lord and will be faithful to you. Moreover it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful (1 Corinthians 4:2).
  • Might have some quirks. Every person on the planet has a few goofy things about him, and a good man is no different. Is this a quirk or a character flaw? Decide how important it is to you. For example, biting one’s fingernails is not a character flaw. Slapping is. Discern the difference.
  • May not be the most gorgeous thing you ever saw. Most of the godly men I have met over the years were normal looking. Very few have been extremely handsome. Beauty of character, though, runs all the way through a person. Facial beauty is only skin. Look past the skin and appreciate the smile.

Good men are attracted to—ready for this?—good women. Yes, of course, a girl needs to take care of herself to get anyone’s attention, but a woman who loves God and loves others will attract good men. A beautiful smile is the most attractive thing there is.

Many years ago, a young man was talking to my husband and me about several of the women he had met and liked. Do you know why he crossed some of them off his list? Immodest dress. Why did that matter? Because he wanted to serve God, and he felt that the women’s clothing choices might hinder a ministry together. He wanted his future wife to be an example for other women.

Women can and should try to look nice. A friend’s mother used to say, “There’s no such thing as an ugly woman, only women who don’t take care of themselves.” Case in point: have you ever seen supermodels before and after make-up and hair? Shocking.

To be sure, the Bible doesn’t say we have to do stuff to ourselves, but we are told to look like godly women. In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety; not with broided hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array; But (which becometh women professing godliness) with good works (1 Timothy 2:9-10). How do godly women dress where you live? Do you command respect when someone looks at you?

Much more important—as our grandparents used to tell us—is what goes on inside. “Pretty is as pretty does.” “The most important thing is what’s inside a person.” God says that’s true. The godly woman is beautiful because of her attitudes and good works. God describes the ideal “Virtuous Woman” like this: Strength and honour are her clothing; and she shall rejoice in time to come. She openeth her mouth with wisdom; and in her tongue is the law of kindness. Favour is deceitful, and beauty is vain: but a woman that feareth the LORD, she shall be praised (Proverbs 31: 25-26, 30).

See how godliness, actions, and beauty are intertwined? We find this all through the Bible. Remember Rebekah? She was beautiful and kind to people and animals. I often wonder how much water she drew in order to water those camels.

Where are the good men? Serving God, in church, and studying and working hard.

How can you be attractive to a good man? Be a good woman.

By the way, I absolutely do not believe that it’s God’s will for every woman or man to marry. The New Testament makes it plain that there are two ways God leads men and women: single and married. But he that is married careth for the things that are of the world, how he may please his wife. There is difference also between a wife and a virgin. The unmarried woman careth for the things of the Lord, that she may be holy both in body and in spirit: but she that is married careth for the things of the world, how she may please her husband (1 Corinthians 7:33-34). The Lord lets a godly man or woman know if it’s right for him to marry—and it might even be later in life.

Singleness is a blessing, just as marriage is a blessing. God leads different people in different ways, and we should embrace the clear leading of the Lord.

For more on singles, you might enjoy reading: “Singleness: Can it really be God’s best?” here.