living on pb & j

Ordinary moms living on Prayer, the Bible, and Jesus!


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The Worst Advice I Have Ever Received (or Given)

The Worst Advice

Have you ever asked someone for advice, and they told you, “Just trust your heart”?  Or perhaps they told you, “Follow your heart.”  That sounds so encouraging, and empowering, and it makes us feel good to “follow our hearts”; but the truth is, that’s terrible advice!  Sadly, I’ve probably given that advice, and certainly have followed it at times in my life.  And whether it’s as a wife, a mom, a teacher, a friend, or in any other capacity, if that is the advice I’m giving or following, I am making a huge mistake.

Do some of these quotes look familiar?

“There is no set path, just follow your heart.” 

“Follow your heart, and your dreams will come true.” 

“Stop thinking so much and follow your heart.” 

“Don’t follow the rules.  Follow your heart.” 

“Follow your heart.  It knows the way.” 

And here’s one that’s only slightly better,

“Follow your heart, but take your brains with you.” 

All these sayings (and many more) appeal to our flesh, to our innate pride and desire to do our own thing and trust ourselves; however, the Bible warns us to beware of trusting, or following, our hearts. Proverbs tells us plainly, “He that trusteth in his own heart is a fool…” (Pro. 28:26).  That goes completely against the grain of the world’s philosophies, and frankly, it goes against our grain personally.  We want to be able to trust ourselves, to follow our feelings and desires, and to believe that no matter what choices we make, it’s all going to be ok because “I followed my heart.”

So, why shouldn’t we follow our hearts?

First, because our hearts will fail us.  We can think that we are strong.  We can believe that we are certain of what we want.  The reality is that our hearts fail us time and time again.  Sometimes they fail us because of fear.  Sometimes they fail us because we are foolish.  And sometimes they fail us because they are fragmented by suffering, betrayal, or grief.  But you can be assured of this – our hearts are prone to failure, and it is hard when we discover that we are not as strong as we thought we were.

Second, our hearts will fool us.  This one hurts to admit even more than the first, but God’s Word teaches us that our hearts are “deceitful and desperately wicked:  who can know it?” (Jer. 17:9)  We think we know our hearts, but we don’t.  We think we know our motives, and our emotions, and our desires, but we really don’t.  It can be very confusing at times.  I can’t tell you the number of women I have spoken with who have “followed their hearts”, and found themselves betrayed, broken, and bewildered.

Our hearts will deceive us, and one of the most difficult things to face is not that others have deceived us, but that we have deceived ourselves.  It is humiliating and overwhelmingly painful to realize that the lie we have believed, and followed, and lived by, is the lie that we have told ourselves.

That seems like a lot of bad news!  If we can’t trust our hearts, how can we make decisions and know that we are doing right?  How can you and I deal with a heart that fails us and fools us?  

Place Your Faith in the Word of God, Not in Your Heart

“The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusted in him, and I am helped: therefore my heart greatly rejoiceth; and with my song will I praise him. “ (Ps. 28:7)

“Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths. Be not wise in thine own eyes: fear the LORD, and depart from evil.”

Emotions are God-given, and are important, but you and I cannot place our trust in our intellect or our emotions, unless they are acting in obedience to the Word of God.  I know that my emotions can change from day to day (even moment to moment!).  My mind can change, and my thoughts are not His thoughts.  God’s Word does not change.  I can have full confidence in it.  I can trust it to remain the same through any circumstances, in any culture, and at every crossroad in my life.

This really is the crux of the matter for each of us – who do I trust, myself or God?  Will I choose to believe in Him with all of my heart, or will I believe in myself?  For our eternal salvation, and for every aspect of daily life, we are faced with this decision, and what we decide determines our destiny.  (Rom. 10:8-17)

 Make Your Heart a Follower, Not a Leader

Submit and commit your heart to the only One who knows it fully, and will lead it in the right way.  (Ps. 40:8; 69:32; 94:15; 119:10, 36; Pro. 3:5-6)

“There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.” (Pro. 14:12)

“I will run the way of thy commandments, when thou shalt enlarge my heart. Give me understanding, and I shall keep thy law; yea, I shall observe it with my whole heart.  Make me to go in the path of thy commandments; for therein do I delight.”  (Ps. 119:32, 34-35)

Fix Your Heart on God

“He shall not be afraid of evil tidings: his heart is fixed, trusting in the LORD. His heart is established, he shall not be afraid…” (Ps. 112:7-8)

“My heart is fixed, O God, my heart is fixed: I will sing and give praise.” (Ps. 57:7; 108:1)

Determine that you will love God with all of your heart.  Anchor your heart to Him (Heb. 6:18-19).  Set your affection on Him (Col. 3:2).  Make Him your preeminent love (Mt. 22:37).  Make pleasing Him your preeminent desire.  Make glorifying Him your preeminent aim.  Keep your eyes on Him.  Keep your mind on Him.

Follow Jesus Christ.  Obey His Word.  Love Him with all your heart.  That’s good advice!

FollowtheLord

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Tied Down

TiedDownBlogsize

I have recently been reading the biography of Amy Carmichael.  As she began to realize the plight of some of the Indian children, and God began to send them to her, she struggled with “giving up” the ministry she felt God had already given her.  Could it truly be the will of God for her to raise these children?  Would it not take time away from other important things?  She wrote,

He took a towel. The Lord of Glory did that. Is it the bondservant’s business to say which work is large and which is small, which unimportant and which worth doing? Children tie the mother’s feet, the Tamils say, and …. Paget said, ‘with the venture of faith there is need of self-discipline and effort.’ Babies are truly a venture of faith and, in India at least, they tie the mother’s feet. We knew we could not be too careful of our children’s earliest years. So we let our feet be tied for love of Him whose feet were pierced (from Gold Cord, by Amy Carmichael).

As mothers, it is often tempting to feel that the work of mothering is unimportant; or worse yet, Satan may whisper to us that the duties of motherhood hinder us from doing something “more important” for God.  Our children do “tie us down”, but rather than viewing that as a bondage of some sort, we should view it as a beautiful and awesome privilege.  

Spurgeon said this, O dear mothers, you have a very sacred trust reposed in you by God! He hath in effect said to you, “Take this child and nurse it for Me, and I will give thee thy wages.” You are called to equip the future man of God, that he may be thoroughly furnished unto every good work. If God spares you, you may live to hear that pretty boy speak to thousands, and you will have the sweet reflection in your heart that the quiet teachings of the nursery led the man to love his God and serve Him.

Those who think that a woman detained at home by her little family is doing nothing, think the reverse of what is true. Scarcely can the godly mother quit her home for a place of worship; but dream not that she is lost to the work of the church; far from it, she is doing the best possible service for her Lord.

Mothers, the godly training of your offspring is your first and most pressing duty. Christian women, by teaching children the Holy Scriptures, are as much fulfilling their part for the Lord, as Moses in judging Israel, or Solomon in building the temple.”

I will close with one of my favorite poems by Edgar Guest,

“Tied Down”

“They tie you down,” a woman said,
Whose cheeks should have been flaming red
With shame to speak of children so.
“When babies come you cannot go
In search of pleasure with your friends,
And all your happy wandering ends.
The things you like you cannot do,
For babies make a slave of you.”

I looked at her and said: “‘Tis true
That children make a slave of you,
And tie you down with many a knot,
But have you never thought to what
It is of happiness and pride
That little babies have you tied?
Do you not miss the greater joys
That come with little girls and boys?

They tie you down to laughter rare,
To hours of smiles and hours of care,
To nights of watching and to fears;
Sometimes they tie you down to tears
And then repay you with a smile,
And make your trouble all worth while.
They tie you fast to chubby feet,
And cheeks of pink and kisses sweet.

“They fasten you with cords of love
To God divine, who reigns above.
They tie you, whereso’er you roam,
Unto the little place called home;
And over sea or railroad track
They tug at you to bring you back.
The happiest people in the town
Are those the babies have tied down.

Oh, go your selfish way and free,
But hampered I would rather be,
Yes rather than a kingly crown
I would be, what you term, tied down;
Tied down to dancing eyes and charms,
Held fast by chubby, dimpled arms,
The fettered slave of girl and boy,
And win from them earth’s finest joy.”

Mothers, let us stop and be grateful for the precious little treasures that tie us down today.  Let us willingly, joyfully, prayerfully invest in them.  They are one of the few things we can take to heaven with us.

A Prayer for our Children

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A Prayer for Our Children
Father, hear us, we are praying,
Hear the words our hearts are saying,
We are praying for our children.
 
Keep them from the powers of evil,
From the secret, hidden peril,
From the whirlpool that would suck them,
From the treacherous quicksand pluck them.
 
From the worldling’s hollow gladness,
From the sting of faithless sadness,
Holy Father, save our children.
 
Through life’s troubled waters steer them,
Through life’s bitter battle cheer them,
Father, Father, be Thou near them.
 
Read the language of our longing,
Read the wordless, pleadings thronging,
Holy Father, for our children
 
And wherever they may bide,
Lead them home at eventide.
 
~Amy Carmichael