The Counsel of Elders

The other day I was flipping through my Flipboard (lol) when I came across this article about Silicon Valley and its Peter Pan Syndrome. Basically it’s a commentary, by Jeffrey Sonnenfeld, on how most technology firms these days like to keep a staff of young employees and often force out their older employees (or refuse to hire them). Sonnenfeld noted that the median age of Google employees, for instance, is 29. He then went on to describe why this is a mistake and how much we can gain and have gained from people over age 35 in various industries. It was actually a great commentary that I shared on my Twitter feed. (Additionally, just after I began working on this blog, I came across a similar article in the Washington Post discussing ageism in the workplace.)

After reading and contemplating the content of the article, I began thinking about another person who thought that those older than him brought little to the table: King Rehoboam.

Now, king Rehoboam took the throne after his father Solomon, son of David, son of Jesse (don’t ask me why I felt like providing the geneology, lol, maybe I had too much coffee), and Rehoboam had some pretty big shoes to fill. But in 2 Chronicles 10, we read about how after Solomon’s death, the people of Israel come to Rehoboam and request that their load be lightened–labor and tax-wise–and he tells them to let him think about it, and he’d have a response for them in three days. King Rehoboam first asks his father’s advisors as to how he should respond…

 The older counselors replied, “If you are good to these people and do your best to please them and give them a favorable answer, they will always be your loyal subjects.” But Rehoboam rejected the advice of the older men and instead asked the opinion of the young men who had grown up with him and were now his advisers. “What is your advice?” he asked them. “How should I answer these people who want me to lighten the burdens imposed by my father?” The young men replied, “This is what you should tell those complainers who want a lighter burden: ‘My little finger is thicker than my father’s waist! Yes, my father laid heavy burdens on you, but I’m going to make them even heavier! My father beat you with whips, but I will beat you with scorpions!’” ~ 2 Chronicles 10:7-11, NLT

We all know how this story ends. Rehoboam, rejects the advice given by his elders and responds as his peers told him to, and this was the wrong answer! In fact, this is the determining factor of Israel’s split from Judah; creating the northern and southern kingdoms.

When I first read this, I thought, “what a spoiled rotten, thoughtless, stubborn, little teenager!” but then, I went on to read in 2 Chronicles 12 that Rehoboam was actually 41 years old when he took over the kingdom! He was a grown adult behaving as a child!

So, here I am, having just read these two things–the article/commentary and 2 Chronicles 10–and I’m recognizing how we can, at any age, fall into this trap of ignoring and holding in contempt, the wisdom of our elders. I believe that we can become so consumed in the way we do things now and doing things “the right way,” or our way, or improving upon the way things have been done, that we negate the people who have been doing those same things in generations past. By doing so we attempt to deny the skill, wisdom, and knowledge of those who came before us; when the truth is, we couldn’t do or wouldn’t have most of the things we do today, if they weren’t out there “doing” before us. We don’t create from scratch…we simply build upon the foundation that’s been laid before us.

Proverbs 4:6-9, NIV

Rehoboam’s elderly counsel were the same men that counseled his father; and according to the Bible, Solomon was the wisest person to have ever lived. So, why do we, like Rehoboam, think that our way is best, and deny the wisdom and counsel of those who’ve gone before us? Why do we think that those older than us have nothing to bring to the table or have nothing of value to offer us?

Now, this isn’t to say that we don’t have something new or better to offer, but that we respect and accept the fact that our elders laid the foundation for us to have what we have, have provided a path for the future, and are still capable of providing much insight and wisdom; much like we are doing for those who will follow us. Neither does it mean that we neglect to seek the counsel and wisdom of God, for as the Word says, “true wisdom and power are found in God; counsel and understanding are His” (Job 12:13, NLT) and “God looks down from heaven on the entire human race; He looks to see if anyone is truly wise, if anyone seeks God” (Psalm 53:2, NLT).

Therefore, let us not neglect or scorn the wisdom of our elders, but take it into consideration, contemplate upon the words and advice of those who’ve gone before us, and compare it to what the Bible says and let’s not act harshly, rebelliously, or rashly, but be considerate and respectful of the opinions of others.

If you become wise, you will be the one to benefit.
If you scorn wisdom, you will be the one to suffer. ~ Proverbs 9:12, NLT

Fools think their own way is right,
but the wise listen to others. ~ Proverbs 12:15, NLT

Pride leads to conflict;
those who take advice are wise. – Proverbs 13:10, NLT

Wise people think before they act;
fools don’t—and even brag about their foolishness. ~ Proverbs 13:16, NLT

Walk with the wise and become wise;
associate with fools and get in trouble. ~ Proverbs 13:20, NLT

If you listen to constructive criticism,
you will be at home among the wise. ~ Proverbs 15:31, NLT

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Welcome to 2016!

First, I’d like to start out by saying, HAPPY NEW YEAR! I hope you finished 2015 strong and I pray you have a wonderful 2016. Personally, and I think I’ve mentioned this before, I like to do a quick review of how the previous year went before the new year arrives—and usually around my birthday, as well—and think about what I accomplished, what I’d like to change or improve; and this year was no different.FontCandy (2)

Last month, I began to write down some past accomplishments and some future goals. You know what they say…it’s not a goal unless it’s specific, attainable, measurable, etc. etc. So, I started getting really specific, but as I did this I remembered that Proverbs 16:9 says, “We can make our plans, but the LORD determines our steps.” And I was reminded that it’s great to make plans and create goals, but we must also allow room for the Holy Spirit to work in our lives and allow Him to change our direction whenever He sees fit. So I’ve been praying that I allow God to lead me more this year.

Oddly enough, He saw fit to change some of my plans, when my boyfriend of about a year and a half, asked me to marry him on Christmas day 2015. So, now some of my plans have changed slightly, but I’m still here and I’m still planning to share the Word with you, as well as some wisdom and guidance. Originally, I planned to schedule a post once a week (as part of my 2016 goals), but now since I’m leading a Monday night Bible study on Michael Catt’s Refresh, and planning a small wedding (in 4 months!), I may only be able to share with you bi-weekly. Below are a few goals I’d like to accomplish this year…let me know what some of your goals are for 2016.

  • Teach a Bible study
  • Really pour my heart into children’s worship
  • Read a book each month
  • Watch less television
  • Learn to play guitar (I got one for Christmas!)
  • Learn Spanish
  • Get more involved in outreach ministries (Hey! Maybe even start one!)
  • Exercise (Be healthy!)
  • Become debt-free by the end of the year
  • Post a blog every other week

Bonus ** You know how a lot of people like to use a word to describe the year? My word for this year is passion. I want to be so passionate about the Lord and what He’s done and is doing, that I ignite the people around me. I want to start a wildfire! And I want to act more on the things that I’m passionate about! I don’t want to just talk or write about these things, I want to actually DO SOMETHING. God-willing, I’ll be able to share some of those things with you throughout the year. I love you guys!

God bless and take care.

Unrealistic Expectations

A day hasn’t gone by this week that I haven’t heard or read something about how people hurt each other, are untrustworthy, or are undeserving of something or other. The reality is…it’s true. Humanity is imperfect. We often do or say things to one another that we may or may not realize hurts the other person. However, not everybody is out to get us. Sometimes we just take things the wrong way. More often than not the other person doesn’t even know that they hurt us!

Most importantly, whether or not the other person meant to hurt us, doesn’t really matter, because as children of the most High, we’re called to love other people…period. It doesn’t matter how badly they treat us, God has called us to love our enemies, pray for those who persecute us, and do good to those who hate us (Matthew 5:44; Luke 6:27). He also tells us to love our neighbor as ourselves (Matthew 22:39; Mark 12:31; Luke 10:27; Galatians 5:14); that means to treat others as we want to be treated, regardless of how they treat us. (We’ve already talked a lot about this in my R-E-S-P-E-C-T post back in July.)

Now, I understand full well that this isn’t always easy. When people hurt us a common desire is to hurt them back, to treat them the way they treated us, or to play the victim and tell the world how we’ve been mistreated. Sometimes we’re spiteful, vindictive, judgmental or cruel; and the world tells us we have a “right” to be. But as believers, we’ve lost our so-called “rights.” When we choose to follow Christ, we choose to give the Holy Spirit full access to every part or our lives, to change us from the inside out (John 3:30). Our behavior and thoughts shouldn’t be the same as the worlds!

Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect. (Romans 12:2, NLT)

Since you have heard about Jesus and have learned the truth that comes from Him, throw off your old sinful nature and your former way of life, which is corrupted by lust and deception. Instead, let the Spirit renew your thoughts and attitudes. Put on your new nature, created to be like God—truly righteous and holy. (Ephesians 4:21-24, NLT)

An example of unrealistic expectations.

What does changing the way you think entail? I know for me, I now recognize the brokenness of humanity. I recognize that people are lost, broken, hurting, and don’t know the truth. Therefore, how can they make good choices, or treat people with love and respect, when they don’t understand or haven’t accepted the love of the Creator? When it comes to people and relationships, our expectations often exceed reality. Meaning, we expect them to be up to par with our personal standards, but that’s unrealistic. While the world may believe that people should “just know” these things, the truth is, humans are selfish at heart, and like I wrote in a previous blog, due to our relativistic culture, we do what seems right in our own eyes. That’s why when Jesus called people to follow Him, He told them to turn away from their selfish ways, deny themselves, and pick up their cross (Matthew 16:24; Mark 8:34; Luke 9:23).

This is the world we live in; one in which none of us is perfect and we all fall short (Romans 3:10, 23). But let that not be an excuse to give in to sin and treat others poorly, to complain, or to give up on people altogether, because we have the power of the Holy Spirit within us; and through Him we can do all things! Furthermore, we’re made to be in relationship with others, why else would God say loving our neighbors is as equally as important as loving Him? (By the way, you can’t do one without the other.) So, remember, the next time that person cuts you off in traffic, talks about you behind your back, or gives you an attitude, to treat them as you would want to be treated: with grace, mercy, and kindness. And remember to pray for them, in love.

So You’re Thinking of Moving Out? (Or Perhaps You Should Be)

You’re 18 (or older) and you’re thinking about moving out of your parents’ house. I’d like to suggest you stop and ask yourself a few questions before you do.

  • Are you going to college?
  • Do you have a job?
  • Do you have a car?

If you’re still in college, whether you’re working your way through or your tuition’s being paid by your parents, a scholarship or grant, I’d suggest you live at home until you complete. (Notice I didn’t say student loans? That’s because you should just say no to student loans!) Trying to cash flow your tuition while living on your own only works if you have a really high income, which most young college students usually don’t have. I cash flowed my undergraduate degree while living at home, but made the mistake of moving out while I worked on my graduate degree—these are the infamous student loans I’ve been trying to pay. Another option is splitting the costs of an apartment or house with multiple friends.

Now, let’s say you’ve finished college and/or you’ve gotten a job. First, you must recognize how much money you have coming in. Do you make enough to move out on your own? The answer, at first, may be “no.” I’ll tell you why. You need enough money on hand to pay a security deposit and first month’s rent. This means you’ll have to save a little money before signing that lease; I suggest you save 3-6 months of living expenses before moving out, just in case something unplanned occurs. You wouldn’t want to move into your own place, only to have to move back home when your car breaks down, or you lose a job! Be prepared.

Here are a few other costs you’ll need to think about:

  • Do you have a reliable car? Insurance? Maintenance costs.
  • Are you a single parent? Childcare costs. Will you have reliable/neighborly help or family nearby?
  • Do you own a pet? Monthly pet fees/costs.
  • Don’t forget those daily living expenses! Food, clothing, gas, renters insurance, electricity, internet/cable, water, & cell phone bill, etc.

Now, perhaps you’re an adult and you simply don’t want to move out? What’s your reasoning behind staying home? Economic? Your parents insist you stay home? Let me tell you something. My parents never wanted me to move out; they expected that I would stay home until I got married. But I’m 31 and I’m still not married! Thankfully, I recognized that I needed to move out and learn how to take care of myself, because who knew what God had in store for my future. What if I never got married? I didn’t want to be living at home forever!IMG_3270

Honestly, unless you’re a college student, like I mentioned above, I suggest you move out on your own. Something happens when you move out on your own and you’re responsible for your own well-being. You grow and develop in ways that you can’t do at home under your parents’ wings. You’re forced to become more responsible with your money, forced to make decisions that affect your life and future, and you meet people you might never have met, while at the grocery store, gym, job, church or while hanging out with your friends or volunteering.

If you can’t afford to move into your own place, again, as I mentioned before, get a roommate (or two), take on another job, or better yet, think more intently about what you really want to be doing with your life, and change career paths! Create goals and take steps to reach them.

Finally, living at home can stunt your growth and prevent you from reaching your full potential because you’re comfortable and have a security blanket (i.e. your parents). However, once you’re on your own, you are responsible for you, and you’re forced to push yourself outside your comfort zone! Therefore, stretch those wings of yours and take the leap (obviously, within the bounds of reason)! 😉

Love you all and God bless!

Birthday Confessions

Carrot Cake B-day Cake

Mmm…Carrot Cake, my fave!

I don’t know about you, but it seems that about twice a year—around my birthday and the new year—I find myself taking inventory of where I am in life and where I would like to be. With my birthday just a day away, I’ve been thinking a lot about career decisions, where I want to be in five years, what my goals are, and what it’s going to take to get there. For those who’ve been following my blog so far, you know that I’m currently on the Dave Ramsey plan and have been trying to pay my student loan off as quickly as possible. I’ve actually started looking into getting a second job to work in the evenings and on the weekends, in addition to my full-time job, just so I can have some extra money to get my loan paid off quicker.

However, these last few days, I’ve been reminded that I shouldn’t become so preoccupied with paying off this student loan that my relationships with God or other people suffer. As much as I want a second job, I also want to continue serving in my church, whether on the worship team; working with the children’s, homeless, or young adult ministries; or teaching a Wednesday night Bible study (like I planned to do in the fall); I want to serve. Not to mention the fact that I currently have the freedom to meet a friend after work to study the Word on Monday evenings, attend a ladies Bible study at my friend Cori’s house on Friday nights, and spend some quality time with my boyfriend on the weekends. 😉

Now, will I continue to look for other ways to increase my income? Absolutely! But I still want to be able to serve, minister, and foster the relationships that God has placed in my life, as well. This just means that I have to trust that God will open a door and make this a reality. Trust and patience have always been difficult for control freak me. I want to devise my own plans and create my own way, but God says it’s His job to direct my steps (Proverbs 16:9).

Whatever you’re doing, wherever you’re going or planning, or even if you’re like me–working on your debt snowball–don’t forget that all this is for His glory and we’re to honor Him in all that we do. Nothing is more important than Him and the calling He’s placed on each of our lives to point the world towards Him. Don’t let any other goals, people, or objects distract you from Him.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. (Hebrews 12:1-2a, NLT)

Boundaries, Preferences, and Dating

Before I gave my life back to Christ I dated, a lot; and to be honest I had the completely wrong idea about what dating was. After Christ, I read Boundaries in Dating: How Healthy Choices Grow Healthy Relationships, (which is mentioned on my resources page) and learned a lot of things that I wish I’d know years prior. I really suggest if you’ve never read the book, do it! It’s so worth it!

After I rededicated my life to Christ I was single for quite a while before I began really dating my now current boyfriend. I was lonely sometimes, but I used the time to deepen my relationship with Christ and grow in my responsibilities at church. When I finally did re-enter the dating scene, I made sure to go back and re-read the book with a friend as a refresher. While I recommend you read the entire book, one of the chapters in particular stood out to me this morning, Chapter 6: What You Can Live With and What You Can Live Without.

When you begin dating another individual there are many important aspects to consider, and some things are much more important than others. The authors of Boundaries in Dating, Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend state that many people are too rigid in their dating preferences and tend to close themselves off to some good options; they state that “there are basically four areas we want you to examine in dating:

  1. Some of your preferences might be too limiting, and you need to be more open.
  2. Some preferences are more important than you might realize, and you should value them.
  3. Some imperfections are minor, and you might have to learn to deal with them.
  4. Some imperfections are major, and you should not ever have to live with them. They are totally off limits” (Cloud & Townsend, 2000, p. 93).
My boyfriend and I at a local pumpkin patch, Oct. 2014.

My boyfriend and I at a local pumpkin patch, Oct. 2014.

Everybody has preferences in a dating partner, but we need to recognize the difference between the traits that are necessary to a healthy relationship and those that aren’t, or even more important, those which can actually harm the relationship or individuals involved. We want to be sure to date someone with whom we share common interests, goals and values, for instance, but the fact that he doesn’t look like a supermodel or that she doesn’t enjoy sports, aren’t deal breakers. We can also deal with minor imperfections. As Dr. Cloud and Townsend state,

No one is perfect. Every person that you date will be a person who will sin and let you down. There is no Prince Charming that has it all together. So give up that fantasy. However, as you evaluate the people you date, remember a few things. First, there are sinners that you can live with. Those are people who have the ability to see when they have wronged you, to confess it, to care about how they have hurt you, and to work hard not to continue in that pattern. Anyone who sees where he or she is wrong and tries to change is on the right path and can probably be trusted if that path is not just a momentary turnaround. If it is truly a path and is continued upon for the long term, that is a good sign.

However, there are also major imperfections that we can’t and shouldn’t live with. I’m going to end this post with a list of destructive personal and interpersonal traits that are to be avoided. If these “occur infrequently, you may be able to work through them if your date will take ownership, confess, and work on himself. But if these things are a pattern, and there is no ownership, sorrow, and repentance then watch out” (Cloud & Townsend, 2000, p. 103).

Destructive Personal Traits

  • Acts like he has it all together instead of admitting weakness and imperfection.
  • Is religious instead of spiritual.
  • Is defensive instead of open to feedback.
  • Is self-righteous instead of humble.
  • Apologizes instead of changes.
  • Avoids working on problems.
  • Demands trust instead of proving himself trustworthy.
  • Lies instead of telling the truth.
  • Is stagnant and not growing.
  • Is an addict.
  • Is duplicitous.

Destructive Interpersonal Traits

  • Avoids closeness.
  • Thinks only about himself instead of the relationship and the other person.
  • Is controlling and resists freedom (in dating, this includes not respecting limits in the physical realm).
  • Flatters.
  • Condemns.
  • Plays “one up” or acts parental.
  • Is unstable over time.
  • Is a negative influence.
  • Gossips.
  • Is overly jealous and suspicious.
  • Negates pain.
  • Is overly angry.

*These lists are taken from Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend’s Boundaries in Dating: How Healthy Choices Grow Healthy Relationships, 2000.Zondervan: Grand Rapids, MI.

Holiday Blues

It’s the most wonderful time of the year…If you’re anything like me you probably sang that verse, lol. I love this time of the year. Actually, as soon as the leaves begin changing into their bright red, orange, yellow, and purple hues I want to take out my camera and take pictures of everything. God’s handiwork is so beautiful and makes my heart feel so incredibly full; I love the colors, the smells, the twinkling lights, and getting the opportunity to spend time with my faPumpkin Patchmily. However, as much as love all of these things, there have been recent years when I greeted these days much less than enthusiastic.

While this season can bring about great joy and gladness, it can also produce pronounced sadness for some. Why? You may ask. For one, there are those who may not have the opportunity to spend holidays like Thanksgiving, Christmas, or New Year’s Eve with their family, due to various circumstances. There are those who celebrate while serving overseas, or at sea, as members of the military; those who are simply separated by great distances of land and don’t have the means to travel; or those estranged from their family. The second category of people who struggle during this season, are those who are single.

Personally, I’ve experienced the sadness of celebrating a holiday alone, and away from my family; and even single, while with my family. I encourage you, if you’re reading this and know someone who doesn’t have family nearby, invite them to celebrate with you. Nobody deserves to be alone during this time of the year. Let them know they are not forgotten, and that they are loved.

This time of the year can also be incredibly difficult for those who are single, whether or not they are able to join their family; particularly, if their siblings are married or dating. I’ve spent a number of Christmases celebrating with my dating or married younger siblings. There are always those dreaded questions regarding your relationship status, and having to internally suffer while watching couples be affectionate with each another. It’s those times I usually returned home feeling more alone than ever.

Some words of advice for those of you who are single or celebrating away from your families during this time of year? Don’t allow your loneliness to isolate you during this time of the year (or ever, for that matter). Surround yourself with friends. Below are a list of activities you can do during this time of the year with your friends:

  • Host/attend a holiday party.
  • Get together for dinner at your favorite restaurant.
  • Bake cookies for the elderly.
  • Check out Christmas decorations/lights in your area.
  • Participate in a gift exchange.
  • Send Christmas cards to military service members, veterans, or inmates.
  • Go window shopping (if you’re on a budget) or Christmas shopping.
  • Host a Christmas movie marathon with popcorn, peppermint bark, and hot chocolate or apple cider.
  • Help provide/serve a holiday meal at a homeless shelter.
  • Exchange gift ideas—sometimes we could use a little help!
  • Host a game night.
  • Pack a box for Operation Christmas Child.
  • Host a gingerbread house decorating party.
  • Sponsor a family or elderly person and purchase Christmas gifts for them through Families First or the Salvation Army’s Angel Tree.
  • Create your own Christmas decorations or gifts.
  • Host a “Christmas From Around the World” potluck.

I know this list is far from complete. Let me know how you and your friends enjoy spending these times of the year by commenting below….and have a Happy Thanksgiving!