Archive for January, 2012

Let’s Start Over!

Jan 09

by Victoria Robinson

In the beginning … ahhh those famous first words recorded in the book of Genesis. Beginnings so often start with a sense of great hope and wonderment. This was the fresh starts of all fresh starts. A blank canvas with limitless possibilities. Girlfriends, don’t you just love a fresh start? A chance to begin anew with no past mistakes. There are times when we just need to start over.

Spiritually speaking, a new beginning is found in the book of John. That new beginning is found in putting our faith in Jesus Christ, the Son of God. The apostle Paul spoke of this transforming faith in the book of Titus. he said, “… a faith and knowledge resting on the hope of eternal life, which God, who does not lie, promised before the beginning of time …” Acknowledging that a new life is only possible through Jesus Christ is the only way to have a fresh start. In fact, Jesus said to a man named Nicodemus, “I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again.” Born again—let’s start over! If this is your desire, click on this Heaven link and learn more. Heaven

If you already have a relationship with Jesus Christ then you surely know what a wonderful feeling it is to be able to “wipe the slate clean” and start over. King David came to a place in his life when he desperately needed to start over. Troubles surrounded him due to his disintegration into a sinful life. The enemy of his soul had enticed him to indulge in lustfully gazing upon a beautiful woman named Bathsheba. This led to sleeping with her apart from marriage as set forth in the Word of God. Once it becomes known to him that Bathsheba is pregnant, we see the actions of a desperate man. So panicked by his circumstances that he engaged in a murderous plot to kill Bathsheba’s husband, Uriah. If ever a person needed to start over it was King David.

The good news is David repented and turned his heart back to the Lord. David’s fresh start resulted in the Lord speaking these kind words about him after his departure from this world, “… walk before Me as your father David walked, in integrity of heart and in uprightness …”

King David whose life was ravaged by his sinful choices, but who got a fresh start from the heavenly Father, has been memorialized by the Jewish historian, Flavius Josephus.  He wrote, “David was truly a man after God’s own heart.”

This is an encouraging story when we reach a point in our life where we need a new beginning. If that is where you are today, then praying the very words King David prayed after he repented are appropriate. In the book of Psalms David wrote, “Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.”

Near the end of Lamentations, a book of poetry written to lament the destruction of Jerusalem, the prophet Jeremiah makes a plea to the Lord. He says, “Bring us back to you! Give us a fresh start.” What a wonderful way to cry out to the Lord when we have a remorseful heart and want to start over!

Dearest girlfriends, let us turn our hearts towards our heavenly Father and receive a new beginning.

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters. ~ Genesis 1:1-2 NIV
 
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. … The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. ~ John 1:1-2,14 NIV
 
Paul, a servant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ for the faith of God’s elect and the knowledge of the truth that leads to godliness— a faith and knowledge resting on the hope of eternal life, which God, who does not lie, promised before the beginning of time, ~ Titus 1:1-2 NIV
 
Now there was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a member of the Jewish ruling council. He came to Jesus at night and said, “Rabbi, we know you are a teacher who has come from God. For no one could perform the miraculous signs you are doing if God were not with him.” In reply Jesus declared, “I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again.” “How can a man be born when he is old?” Nicodemus asked. “Surely he cannot enter a second time into his mother’s womb to be born!” Jesus answered, “I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. ~ John 3:1-6 NIV
 
… walk before Me as your father David walked, in integrity of heart and in uprightness … ~ 1 Kings 9:4 NKJV
 
Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions. Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin. For I know my transgressions, and my sin is always before me. Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight, …  Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow. Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones you have crushed rejoice. Hide your face from my sins and blot out all my iniquity. Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me. ~ Psalm 51:1-4,7-12 NIV
 
Bring us back to you! Give us a fresh start. ~ Lamentations 5:21 CEV

A Polite Conversation With Him

Jan 07

A Polite Conversation With Him 010712 2by Victoria Robinson

What in the world does learning how to use etiquette in conversation and learning how to converse with our heavenly Father have in common? Actually, quite a bit. Conversations with Him are what we think of as prayer. In the 1896 etiquette book, The Secret of a Happy Home, Christian author, Marion Harland, speaks of the satisfaction in telling one’s woes and sorrows to an interested listener.

“Undoubtedly there is a momentary satisfaction in telling one’s woes and sorrows to an interested listener. When the auditor is a friend, and a trusted friend, whose sympathy is genuine and whose discretion is vast, there is a comfort beyond description in unburdening one’s soul.”

Marion Harland, The Secret of a Happy Home 1896

Fortunately every one of us has a trusted friend we can unburden our souls to. King Solomon told us, “… there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.” The friend  he is referring to is Christ, our Lord and Savior.

Our Lord and Savior gave us detailed instructions on having a polite conversation in prayer with our heavenly Father. He told us, “And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words.”

“Some people are always bored. May it not be because they look at everything animate and inanimate from a selfish standpoint, with the query in their minds, “How does that affect me?” The old definition of a bore as “a person who talks so much of himself that he gives you no chance to of yourself,” may apply not only to the bore, but to the bored. When you find yourself wearied and uninterested, be honest enough to examine yourself calmly, and see if the reason is not because your vis-a-vis is not talking about anything which interests you especially. Should he turn the conversation upon your favorite occupation or pastime, or even upon your personal likes and dislikes (which, by the way, might be an infinite bore to him), would he not at once become entertaining?”
Marion Harland, The Secret of a Happy Home 1896

Listening to the other person is an important key to polite conversation. Nobody enjoys chatting with a boorish person who only is concerned with prattling on about themselves. Your heavenly Father is not interested in having a one-way conversation with you. Besides, if you are not listening during your prayer, you cannot possibly attain His wisdom for your requests. Conversing with our heavenly Father must always include listening. In her 1860 book, The Ladies’ Book of Etiquette and Manual of Politeness, Florence Hartley gives us instruction on the importance of listening while conversing.

“It seems paradoxical to observe that the art of listening well forms a part of the duty of conversation. To give up the whole of your attention to the person who addresses himself to you, is sometimes a heavy tax, but it is one which we must pay for the privileges of social life, and an early practice will render it an almost involuntary act of good breeding; whilst consideration for others will give this little sacrifice a merit and a charm.”
Florence Hartley, The Ladies’ Book of Etiquette, and Manual of Politeness 1860

Genuine praise is another important aspect of good conversation. Marion Harland gives an excellent example of developing the habit of praising the one you are talking with.

“Ten girls whom I know formed a society for the repression of unkind criticism. The members themselves to try, as far as in them lay, to speak kindly of people when it was possible for them to do so, and when impossible to say nothing. At first it was hard, for self-conceit would intrude, and it is hard for one girl to praise another who dislikes her. Little by little the tiny seed of effort grew into a habit of kindly speech.”
Marion Harland, The Secret of a Happy Home 1896

This story is reminiscent of the hardness that can develop in our hearts and hinder us from praising our heavenly Father during prayer. The enemy of your soul will always point out why God is not worthy to be praised. A direct contradiction to the Scriptures! The psalmist tells us, “I will call upon the Lord, who is worthy to be praised; So shall I be saved from my enemies.”

Just as Marion Harland reminds us that no true lady complains while conversing with others, neither should we bring our request to the Lord in a complaining manner.

“But if you do not feel this, for politeness’ sake refrain from making your listener supremely uncomfortable by your complaints. No true lady will so far forget her innate ladyhood as to be guilty of this rudeness.”
Marion Harland, The Secret of a Happy Home 1896

An extremely descriptive picture of the perils of complaining while praying are found in the book of Numbers. The Israelites were whining about not having meat and my oh my did they ever get their request granted! The Lord said, “The LORD heard you when you wailed, “If only we had meat to eat! We were better off in Egypt!” Now the LORD will give you meat, and you will eat it. You will not eat it for just one day, or two days, or five, ten or twenty days, but for a whole month—until it comes out of your nostrils and you loathe it—because you have rejected the LORD, who is among you, and have wailed before him, saying, “Why did we ever leave Egypt?”’”

Polite conversation sometimes involves forgiveness. The person chatting with you may say something offensive and it is important for you to overlook the words that have wounded your heart. The Lord instructed us that prayer also involves forgiveness. In the book of Matthew, Jesus told us, “Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.” Our prayers will be hindered if we approach God and have unforgiveness towards others.

Dearest girlfriends, let us endeavor to develop polite conversation when we pray.

Give your burdens to the Lord, and he will take care of you. … ~ Psalm 55:22 NLT 

Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about what happens to you. ~ 1 Peter 5:7 NLT
 
If you are having trouble, you should pray. … ~ James 5:13 CEV
 
A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother. ~ Proverbs 18:24 NIV
 
I will call upon the Lord, who is worthy to be praised; So shall I be saved from my enemies. ~ Psalm 18:3 NKJV
 
“Tell the people: ‘Consecrate yourselves in preparation for tomorrow, when you will eat meat. The LORD heard you when you wailed, “If only we had meat to eat! We were better off in Egypt!” Now the LORD will give you meat, and you will eat it. You will not eat it for just one day, or two days, or five, ten or twenty days, but for a whole month—until it comes out of your nostrils and you loathe it—because you have rejected the LORD, who is among you, and have wailed before him, saying, “Why did we ever leave Egypt?”’” ~ Numbers 11:18-20 NIV
 
A fool shows his annoyance at once, but a prudent man overlooks an insult. ~ Proverbs 12:16 NIV
 
And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him. “This, then, is how you should pray: ”‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one. ~ Matthew 6:7-13 NIV
You can read these antique etiquette books from the library of Girlfriend’s Café by clicking on the links below.
 The Secret of a Happy Home
The Ladies’ Book of Etiquette, and Manual of Politeness

The Day the Laughter Died

Jan 05

by Victoria Robinson

Some would say that April 26, 1989 is the day the laughter died. That is the day that the greatest comedienne of all time died. Lucille Ball who spent her life bringing laughter to millions was silenced. My dearest friend Cyndee and I have spent numerous hours laughing while watching I Love Lucy. Who could resist laughing as Lucy and Ethel frantically gobble handfuls of chocolate candy to hide their failure on their new job venture. What about that hilarious expression on Lucy’s face when her boss says, “Speed it up a little!”? But alas, our lives are not always filled with laughter. Life has a way of turning laughter into mourning.

The Bible gives us many examples of times the laughter died. One such was when Sarah had given birth to Isaac. On this joyous day she said, “God has brought me laughter, and everyone who hears about this will laugh with me.” Interestingly the name Isaac is Yitschaq in Hebrew which means “he laughs”. Yet, there would come a day when Sarah would find herself not laughing.  A great feast was held when Isaac was weaned. The truth is Sarah’s distress on this particular day was the result of sin. Sarah had refused to wait on the promise of God to have a child and took matters into her own hands. Subsequently Hagar gave birth to Abraham’s first son, Ishmael. At the feast, Sarah observed Ishmael mocking her son Isaac. Like any mother, this upset her.

Girlfriends, has your laughter died? There are many reasons we  find ourselves not laughing. One is quite simply sin. If this is why your laughter has ceased, then immediate repentance will bring joy to your heart and times of laughter to return.

 Another reason is that our heavenly Father allows difficulties to come into our life in order for His greater purposes to be accomplished. Such is the case of the many hardships Joseph had to endure in the book of Genesis. If this is the reason you have no laughter, then accepting God’s greater plan for your life will bring you joy. Last year in the short span of a week I had three friends lose their husbands. All these ladies have accepted Jesus Christ into their lives and have the comfort only He can provide. However, understandably this was a period in their lives with very little laughter.

The enemy of your soul also wants to steal your laughter. Sometimes he will even convince you of a lie. For instance, “God is not going to bring you through a difficult time.” The only way to prevent Satan from absconding with your laughter is shielding yourself with the Word. The book of Ephesians tells us to take up the shield of faith, with which we can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. The word faith in the original Greek is pistis which means conviction of the truth. The way to have conviction of the truth is to immerse yourself in the Word of God.

Laughter is an important gift our heavenly Father has given us. The Word of God tells us laughter can even bring healing to our bodies.
 
While we must recognize the truth that King Solomon told us so long ago—there is a time to weep and a time to laugh, let us examine our hearts to see if and why the laughter has died. If repentance is needed then, let us have a change of heart and watch the laughter return. If we are walking through divinely appointed hardships, let us rejoice in the fact that our heavenly Father knows what is best for us. If we are believing lies Satan is telling us, let us put on the shield of conviction of the truth of the Word of God.
 

Dearest girlfriends, I pray we would allow the laughter to return to our hearts and enjoy the life God has chosen for us.

Abraham was a hundred years old when his son Isaac was born to him. Sarah said, “God has brought me laughter, and everyone who hears about this will laugh with me.” And she added, “Who would have said to Abraham that Sarah would nurse children? Yet I have borne him a son in his old age.” The child grew and was weaned, and on the day Isaac was weaned Abraham held a great feast. But Sarah saw that the son whom Hagar the Egyptian had borne to Abraham was mocking, and she said to Abraham, “Get rid of that slave woman and her son, for that slave woman’s son will never share in the inheritance with my son Isaac.” ~ Genesis 21:5-10 NIV
 
But Joseph said to them, “Don’t be afraid. Am I in the place of God? You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives. ~ Genesis 50:19-20 NIV
  
So give yourselves humbly to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. And when you draw close to God, God will draw close to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and let your hearts be filled with God alone to make them pure and true to him. Let there be tears for the wrong things you have done. Let there be sorrow and sincere grief. Let there be sadness instead of laughter, and gloom instead of joy. Then when you realize your worthlessness before the Lord, he will lift you up, encourage and help you. ~ James 7:7-10 TLB
 
In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. ~ Ephesians 6:16 NIV
 
A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones. ~ Proverbs 17:22 NIV
  

a time to weep and a time to laugh … ~ Ecclesiastes 3:4 NIV
 
She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come. ~ Proverbs 31:25 NIV
 
… Blessed are you who weep now, for you will laugh. ~ Luke 6:21 NIV