The Pit of Destructive Thinking by Desiree Talbert

This post is by my daughter-in-law Desiree, who ministers in Asia.


The Pit of Destructive Thinking

Have you ever felt hurt and upset by something someone said to you? How many days, weeks, or months (or years) did those words haunt you? Did you try to find a way to stop these words from creeping into your thoughts? What did you think would mend the relationship or bring relief? We face this situation all the time. Sometimes the words leave scratches—sometimes deep wounds that stay for years. Sometimes they are the result of a legitimate rebuke. (We can’t forget Proverbs 27:6: “Faithful are the wounds of a friend…”) Other times, they inflict only harm (Proverbs 12:18 “There is one whose rash words are like sword thrusts…”).

After words hurt us, what should we do? Where should we go for help? Even if these words were intended as a rebuke, what can we do if their source is harsh rather than gracious, and we are reeling from the pain? I want to share something that happened to me a few years ago that helped me answer some of these questions.

A sister in Christ had said some critical things to me about my professional life. Within 24 hours, another sister had made some caustic remarks about my life as a wife and mother. Maybe it was the conflation of these two encounters, but I felt really hurt. At first, their words certainly felt like “sword thrusts.” Later, however, I tried to view them as helpful criticism. But no matter how I envisioned their intentions and message, their words seemed too harsh and hurtful. I felt awkward around these women. I was afraid to speak while I was around them because I feared more criticism. I also felt reluctant to be enthusiastically kind to them. This behavior I knew to be wrong, but I couldn’t seem to change my attitude. I kept thinking about what each one had said, and I often imagined the perfect solution: I thought the best way out would be for them to admit they were too harsh and apologize. I kept checking my email for an apology, but the longer I waited, the more I knew that nothing would come.

An email inbox is no place to find hope. But that’s where I was looking.

The thoughts kept circling in my mind like vultures eyeing a huge rotting mess: Why would she say such a thing? I’m sure by now she realizes she shouldn’t have said it. Maybe she’ll apologize today. Maybe she’ll tell me she didn’t mean it, that she didn’t mean to be unkind . . . .

I knew I needed a way out of all this turmoil, but I felt like it was impossible.

In God’s goodness, He gave me hope by reminding me of His word:

I remembered Psalm 40:2-3:

He drew me up from the pit of destruction, out of the miry bog, and set my feet upon a rock, making my steps secure. He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God. Many will see and fear, and put their trust in the LORD.”

I had always thought of David’s “miry bog” as something external. It was a metaphor of course, but I thought it represented his outside problems paralyzing him. I could see, though, that I was in a miry bog. It was a pit of my own making inside my own mind. I had been trying to get out, to stop the cycle of my destructive thoughts. But it was like quicksand—just when I thought I was making progress, I would just sink further down. If I went a day without thinking about those words, they might still rush back on me the next day and overwhelm me with hurt. Just like a person in a pit of quicksand, I knew I couldn’t pull myself out. I was looking for someone else to fix the situation—to pull me out of this pit by apologizing.

But God wanted to rescue me as only He could. Looking at David’s example, I cried out to Him for rescue. I was surprised when, after that prayer, I immediately felt safe. When I submitted my feelings to Him, I realized that I didn’t need to be angry or hurt. I didn’t need to hold onto it until someone apologized. God had rescued me from my thinking, and I could forgive because He was giving me grace to do so even without an apology.

Then I did feel like singing out to God! (“He put a new song in my mouth…”) I stopped checking my email and started to think of all the ways I was thankful for these women. Even if they had said some harsh words, that didn’t actually negate the good they had done in my life up until that point. Forgiveness mixed with thankfulness, through the grace of God, creates the perfect extinguisher for the corrosive flames of bitterness and resentment.

Of course, there is more to the story. One day of forgiveness isn’t the end. We must endure and keep following Him. I had felt immense relief as God lifted me out of this pit of bitterness. And I was out! I had a song to sing, and I wanted to tell others about what God had done. (“Many will see and fear, and put their trust in the LORD.”)

But wayward person that I am, it’s possible for me to walk right back into that same pit. So I’ve erected a big sign in my mind that says, “Danger! Watch your thinking!” When I catch myself going down the same path, I have to warn myself that where I’m going leads to a dangerous pit. I know how prone I am to think these things. But I also know that God can and will rescue me again. I just need to keep looking to Him (not to myself or other people) for a way out.

The Testimony of Armena D’Arcangelo

My mother and her 3 sisters were orphaned in Turkey where they lived in a small village.  The Muslins came through and killed her parents (my grandparents) and all the other Christians.  Somehow, my mother and her sisters came to Beirut, Lebanon and lived for several years there in a Lutheran orphanage.  My mother and 2 of her sister eventually came to America.  My mother met my father who was from Tehran, Iran.  They married and settled in a small town in Massachusetts.

My parents sent my brother and me to church without them.  After we moved to Philadelphia, a neighbor took us to church.  My parents did not want to go to church.  I attended Sunday School, sang in the choir, got involved in the youth group, and became very religious.

After high school, I taught a Sunday School class and enjoyed teaching children.  Since I wasn’t able to study opera like I wanted to, the Lord allowed me to study music education.  While I was at college, I attended an Inter Varsity Bible meeting every week.  My friend had a small Bible study in her room, and she had me turn to several Scriptures.  The Lord convicted my heart with Ephesians 2:8, 9 and I became saved.  My friend’s witness and testimony for 3 years influenced me and some of my other friends.

For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:
Not of works, lest any man should boast.
Ephesians 2:8, 9

My parents thought I was a fanatic, but I persisted in attending Sunday morning and evening services.  I started attending my friend’s church and sang in the choir.  That is also where I sang my first solo as a Christian.

I met my husband at a Singles Christian Retreat.  He was out of prison, and someone paid for him to come.  He gave his testimony one evening.  I was amazed and blessed at what God did in his life.  We started dating at the Philadelphia College of the Bible Evening School.  We were married 10 months later and God gave us a miraculous and fantastic 40 years of marriage together.


After we were married my husband, Leo, wanted to go to Philadelphia College of the Bible as a day student.  They would not accept him because of his prison record.  Someone told us of a small Bible school in Philadelphia.  He applied, but because of his lack of languages and his schooling (he left school at 10th grade), they accepted him on probation.  Leo studied very diligently and was determined that with the Lord’s help, he would be accepted.  After 3 years he received A’s and B’s in Greek and Hebrew.  Also at graduation he received the History award.  During this time, a Christian plumber hired him and taught him how to be a plumber.

After seminary, Leo knew he needed to go to college to further his education.  We moved to West Chester, PA and Leo went to West Chester University.  After 4 years, he earned a BS in Elementary Education.  I taught school in the Upper Darby school district while Leo worked as a plumber after class.  During that time in seminary, our first daughter was born, and our second daughter was born during college.

At that time I was also the choir director of a Baptist church.  A family in the church was going to South Africa for business and asked us to take care of their house for 3 years.  We moved from a small mobile home to a 4 bedroom house.  That was a great blessing as there was a nice yard and room for a small garden!

Toward the end of his schooling, Leo was a student teacher in the Great Valley school district.  When he graduated they hired him to teach 4th grade and run a Title I Program in the summer for children that needed extra help.  He did this job for 8 years.

After listening to some preaching we realized that the church we had been attending was not heading in the right direction.  The Holy Spirit convicted us of not being true to the Word of God.  There were several others in the church who felt the same way.  The Lord led us to leave and start an independent Baptist church in 1967.  We called a young preacher who was just finishing his schooling to be our pastor.  God blessed the church, and it grew in attendance.  In 1972 God led us to start a Christian school.  Leo became the administrator in 1973, and I was the school’s music teacher.

My favorite verse is Joshua 1:8: This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success.”

My husband and I have always strived to put Christ first in our lives, honor the Bible, and observe to do what God’s Word proclaims.  God has blessed us, and has been faithful and merciful to us over these many years.  I praise Him for saving me and loving me.

And in every work that he began in the service of the house of God, and in the law, and in the commandments, to seek his God, he did it with all his heart, and prospered.
II Chronicles 31:21

Mrs. D continues to teach Elementary Music classes at West Chester Christian School in West Chester, PA.  She has just finished her 39th year of teaching.

Journey’s End–The Testimony of Leo D’Arcangelo

This is a man who ministered in my church while I grew up in Pennsylvania.  He and his wife have influenced many lives, and I would like to share their testimonies with you.  The following is taken from a tract written by Lee Heinz about Mr. D’s life:

Journey’s End
Pacing back and forth in his prison cell, Leo D’Arcangelo was deeply disturbed–who wouldn’t be, facing what was ahead of him.

On The Run
As a boy of 11, he had picked a lady’s handbag on a crowded trolley car.  That was the start.  Four years of stealing followed before his first arrest at 15 in a Philadelphia department store.  Leo spent the next 14 1/2 months behind prison bars.  Like most reformatories, attempts were made to rehabilitate him, but peer pressure from other inmates destroyed attempts at personal rehabilitation.  While there, Leo learned the finer arts of forgery, burglary, and picking men’s pockets.  When released from the above finishing school, Leo returned to his old neighborhood.  His friends were now smoking pot.  They willingly shared with him their treasure.

Pot became an every night experience in Leo’s life.  Six months later, a friend introduced Leo to heroin.  He knew the danger of becoming hooked, but again peer pressure took its toll.  One Sunday morning 4 months later, Leo awoke and needed a fix, but had none.  He knew he was hooked.  Then began the seemingly endless arrests: First, for use and possession of drugs; then a few months later for picking pockets.  Shortly after, in Los Angelos, Leo was arrested for use of drugs.

“I was picked up at my apartment by detectives who caught me using heroin.  Given 90 days, I soon learned what it was to kick a drug habit cold turkey.  Those days were pure horror.”

No Escape
Brought back to Philadelphia for jumping bail on an earlier drug charge, Leo was sentenced to Holmesburg Prison.  When released from prison he began using drugs and was arrested in Atlantic City on narcotic charges and jumped bail again.  While living in New York City, Leo was arrested for Grand Larceny, and served on year on Riker’s Island.  Just before his release from Riker’s Island, a detainer was lodged against him for forgery of money orders.  While awaiting trial in Philadelphia, a detainer came from Atlantic City on charges of drug use and bail jumping.  Things were really piling up, and Leo knew he was facing a heavy sentence.  Throughout this period in his life, several people attempted to reach him with the Gospel of Jesus Christ without any apparent success.

The Line That Changed A Life
As he paced back and forth in a courthouse cell, he noticed a few lines crudely scrawled on the wall.
“When you come to the end of your journey and this trouble is racked in your mind, and there seems no other way out than by just mourning, turn to Jesus, for it is Him that you must find.”
Leo’s first thought was to laugh because he had always thought religion was for fools and that Jesus Christ was a con-man who paid the price for getting caught–but those lines on the wall started him thinking.

“People have told me that Jesus Christ has the power to give me a new start in life.  They said that all of this was possible because Jesus Christ cam to suffer physical  punishment in my place.  He went to the cross and died for my sins.  The Son of God loved me and gave himself for me.  God’s love was greater than my unbelief, rebellion, and immorality.  All my life I have done things my way with total failure as the result.  Jesus, I need your help.  I’ve made a mess of my life and this is the end of my journey and all the crying isn’t going to change my past.  Jesus, come into my life now.  Help me make tomorrow different.”

For the first time Leo felt something besides despair.  Back in his cell with a sentence of only 11 1/2 to 23 months, he eagerly read the Gospel of St. John given to the inmates by the local Christian Business Men’s Committee.

A New Kind Of Hunger
“I was eager to know God’s plan for my life.  As I began to read, I come to where Jesus Christ, God’s Son, said, “I am the Light of the world; he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness but shall have the light of life.”  Christ didn’t want me to stumble and fall through life; He provided His book, the Bible as my guide.  I began to realize what a wonderful Savior I had and that Jesus Christ is the only way to peace, joy, and a new life, in jail or out.”

Years Later
The Bible declares, “If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.”

Released from prison, Leo earned his high school diploma and then went on to graduate from both seminary and college.  Over the years, God has used Leo in evangelistic services in prisons, youth groups, and in churches on both coasts of the United States.

Leo entered the ministry to be a positive influence in the lives of young and old alike.  His desire was first to see children and young people come to know and trust Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord, and then to proclaim that message of Christ to a lost and dying world.


A New Normal by Debbie Talbert

Countryside (1)Ever-changing landscape

She must have been Martha Stewart’s sixth cousin. My friend could drive by a garage sale and out of the corner of her eye spot a dusty loveseat piled high with junk. She would wrangle an impossibly good deal on the loveseat, take it home and clean it up and would triumphantly rearrange her entire living room around that new piece. Amazingly to me, her space now looked like the cover of House Beautiful. This scenario repeated itself frequently enough that her husband joked that he didn’t dare walk through the living room in the dark for fear of tripping over the ever-changing landscape!

Life is not static

Life is not static. Birth, death, illness, job change, schooling, marriage, divorce – these events and many others all bring change and, with change, adjustment. What was normal before has disappeared and our circumstances bring us a new normal. We can gracefully adjust and learn to live that new normal or we can stubbornly ignore change and try to live in the past.

We walk by faith

As believers we are to walk by faith, not by sight. For people like me this can be a scary proposal. I would find it comfortable to have my life unfold like a well-rehearsed play where every line is memorized and every movement choreographed. Bud God doesn’t promise what is always comfortable. He wants us to trust Him, and this means trusting Him in and through every change He allows in our lives. He wants us trusting Him even when everything we planned is set aside for an unknown future.

Stuck in the past

We all know of someone who is stuck in the past. These folks are unable to effectively function in the here and now because of fear, sentimentality or denial. Their lives become a series of faded memories, of rehashed stale experiences which have little or no relevance to the present. We can easily be that person if we do not trust God’s leading and adapt to the new normal God brings to us.

My new normal

The past few years has brought me to a new normal with my health. Arthritis, fibromyalgia, severe food intolerances, and a congenital condition requiring me to have both hips replaced have drastically altered just about everything in my life from grocery shopping to mobility to plain old energy needed to function. My mom used to urge me to listen to my body, but I wasn’t tuned to the right channel. Now that I want to listen to my body, and try hard to do so, I still find my mind telling my body it can push further and do more when in truth, it simply cannot. While I try to accept this new normal with grace, at times I still find my old man rearing his ugly head in rebellion to what God has allowed for me right now.

New normal in ministry

We not only face changes in our personal lives but changes in our ministries. We are thrilled when these changes are what we think of as ‘good’ or ‘positive.’ A group of believers join the church, people are getting saved, the congregation is encouraged, and all seems right with the world.

But in reality, those times are almost always interspersed with times of trial and discouragement. Many in the church family suffer from difficult situations at the same time. A member chooses to sin and refuses to repent. A recalcitrant individual gossips, murmurs, and stirs up discord among the church family. Several among the leadership simultaneously undergo intense trials.

How did they respond to a new normal?

The Bible is full of examples of people having to adjust to a new normal. The children of Israel must have wondered about their new normal when Moses, the privileged son of the daughter of Pharaoh cum desert herdsman, burst boldly onto the scene as their deliverer from bondage. God paved the way for the mass departure through the miraculous plagues that spared the nation of Israel but decimated the Egyptians. If the God Moses represented was powerful enough to control even death, then they’d better obey Him, even though it meant an unknown future for them.

God sent angels to tell Lot and his family their normal was going to change immediately and drastically. Lot hurried around to his various family members warning them of God’s judgement and pleading with them to drop everything and leave. His lifestyle had grown so worldly that those he warned thought he was joking with them. Lot and some of his family barely made it out of Sodom before God’s judgement rained down on their town, their home, their friends and on loved family members. The angels’ last warning to the family was to not look back. Lot’s wife did not believe God’s warning. In her unbelief she looked back and God turned her into a “pillar of salt.”

What is my ministry now?

When we shifted from my husband being the senior pastor of a church to being the head of a small Bible college I floundered in my mind to know what my ministry should be. Many of the things I was responsible for in our old church I no longer had anything to do with. I was trying so hard that I inserted myself into some situations and whipped up other ‘ministries’ instead of waiting on the Lord to show me what to do.

Then God gently reminded me that my primary ministry needs always to be to my husband. He was finding his way in a new place with a new ministry. We also had one child still at home. Having to fit in at a new school for her last year of high school was tough. Both of them needed help and encouragement with the transition. My focus needed to be on helping them.

Trust in the Lord

Maybe God has recently given you a new normal. Maybe, like me, you naturally resist change. It’s good for us to remember that God is still in control and brings these changes to reveal His glory and for our ultimate good. He wants us to trust Him whether we like our circumstances or not, whether our current situation is something we planned, or is totally unexpected. “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.”

Special addendum to my friends in Alberta:

Yesterday the voters in our province elected a new government which promises to be far more liberal than what we have lived under for the past few decades. Many conservative minded people are expressing dismay and alarm over what they expect is coming. Did you pray about the election? Good. Did you vote? Good. God is still sovereign and like it or not, this government is our new normal for the next few years.

God requires us to obey those who have the rule over us and to pray for them that we can have a godly and peaceful life under their leadership. As believers, we know that God holds the future. Pray as the scriptures command and trust God. The heart of the king still remains in the hand of the Lord and God’s will is still accomplished even when in our finiteness we can’t understand how any of this can be for our good or His glory. Trust God and pray!

Do You Really Love? Part 4 by Sarah Pollock

You made it!  We are going to look at the last few characteristics of love and hopefully challenge each other to continue on to love each other like Christ loves us!

These are some of the people I love very much!

Love Does Not Rejoice at Wrongdoing
Rejoice at wrongdoing is to be glad or find pleasure when someone’s behavior or action does not agree with the Bible’s principles and rules.  We might rejoice at this because we know that the person will be punished for those sins, because God will not let sin go unpunished.  We may also rejoice at another’s sin, because it makes us feel better about the sin we may be involved in.

This way of thinking is completely opposite of how a Christian should think.  When others are struggling with sin, it should break our hearts and cause us to help them in any way possible.  To enjoy the fact that they are struggling is to show that you have your own struggles and you are not living how God would want you to sin.

When was the last time you were heartbroken over someone’s sin?  God is heartbroken over our sin and sent His Son to die in our place.  That is no laughing matter!

Love Rejoices With the Truth
Rejoice with truth is to be glad or fine pleasure when someone obeys the principles or rules in the Bible.  We couldn’t be more excited when someone makes a decision or confesses sin and gets their life right with God.  We often just sit and watch these things happen.  Aren’t you excited?  Can’t you hardly contain yourself?  Don’t you just want to give a shout?

Praise the Lord!

What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he loses one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness, and go after the one which is lost until he finds it?  And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost!’  I say to you that likewise there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine just persons who need no repentance.  Luke 15:1-7

Love Bears All Things
I heard this explained this way–to have confidentiality with others; others don’t need to hear what has happened.  You have all heard lengthy “prayer requests” as people share details and things that don’t need to be spread.  It is just so easy to tell others things that you have heard.

If you truly love someone, you will keep your mouth shut.  No matter what you want to say, don’t do it.  Let that person trust you that you will not say anything.  Instead of talking about the situation, pray for them.  Make it a rule that instead of saying you’ll begin praying. 🙂

Love Believes All Things
It is hard to give the benefit of the doubt at times.  You want to believe the worst, but God tells us to believe the best.  Forgive others even when it is the last thing you want to do.  God has forgiven us many times….for the same thing.  We never have to worry if we have done too much this time, God is always ready and willing to forgive us when we ask.  As hard as that may be at times, we need to be willing to do the same towards others.

They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness.  Lamentations 3:23

Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times?  Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven.
Matthew 18:21, 22

Love Hopes All Things
Believing everything will turn our for the best and will be used as gain in the lives of those involved; anticipation that what is done is good.  Instead of always thinking about the negative and how this will never work, why not pray and believe that this will work out for the good and everyone involved will be blessed.

Love Endures All Things
Enduring is put up with everything that has been done or needs to be done.  Endurance is just that…..the ability or strength to continue or last…..despite everything else that is going on!

Love Never Ends
Love absolutely has no limitations or weaknesses; it will never stop; it will never be filled to capacity.  What a comforting thought that God’s love toward us is this way, and what a challenge to know that our love toward others should be characterized this same way!  We often want to stop loving others because of something they did or said, but this verse tells us that our love should never end.  It should never be limited because of something that happened, and it should be never be filled up so we don’t have any more to give.

Nothing can separate us from the love of God.  God doesn’t love me because of what I do, but God loves me because of Christ.  Our love for others is because of what God is doing in my own life.  We will never be able to love even close to perfectly without help and strength from God.

I hope this review of I Corinthians 13 has been a challenge and help to you, as it has been to me.  May our love for others continue to grow and reflect the love that God has for us!

Do You Really Love? Part 3 by Sarah Pollock

It has been a couple of weeks since we last met and talked about this challenging topic of love.  I hope you have been thinking about what love really is, and working to make your love more like Christ’s.  We have a long way to go before we ever come close to Christ’s perfect love, but we should be striving each day to become more like Him in every way!

We are going to discuss a few more attributes of love (including one of my favorites….not sure why it is my favorite, but we’ll get there in just a second…..)


Love is Not Rude
Love is not being discourteous or impolite in an intentional way; does not behave inappropriately.  We can think of manners and the way we are supposed to act around others.  This attribute came alive to me after I heard it defined this way……Love does not make someone else feel uncomfortable.

We have all felt uncomfortable at times in different situations or around different people.  Love makes others not feel uncomfortable, so if you are doing something that is worsening the situation, you are not being loving.

Simply defined, but yet this definition takes on a whole new way of looking at life.  It makes it very simple when instructing my children.  “That was rude….that showed you do not love.”  Ouch!  How many times do we make others uncomfortable by the things that we say or how we act.

Like I said, I’m not sure why this one attribute sticks out so much, but it definitely makes me think as I interact with others in my day to day life.

Love Does Not Insist on Its Own Way
Love does not demand that their way is the only plan or method for attaining the goal.  We’ve all heard it say, “It’s either my way, or the highway.”  That means you have to get on board with whatever the other person is doing because no one is going to ask what you think.

How often are you so emphatic about doing things your way that you aren’t even open to what anyone else has to share?  Sometimes others may have a different perspective on things.  Older people have more experience than you.  You may have misunderstood what is going on.

Love others by listening to them.

Love Is Not Irritable
Love does not easily get annoyed or angered; it does not quickly become impatient or stir up emotions or feelings.  There are days when I can cry over anything (and I mean anything….I lost my sewing pencil the other week, and I couldn’t contain myself….no, I still haven’t found it).  There are times when we don’t interpret things correctly and get upset.  There are situations when someone says something or does something and we take great offence.  And there are days when they could do the exact same thing and we wouldn’t even blink an eye at it.  There are days when everything goes WRONG!

Even on the worst of those days, we should never respond out of annoyance or anger.  We need to always respond out of love!  Not even at the end of the day when we are tired….. Not even if………

When my daughter is crying hysterically about a headache, and then about being hungry (not knowing what she wants to eat), and then about not being able to understand her schoolwork, all the while she really just doesn’t want to do school.  Or when something happened and I asked her if it was an accident or on purpose, and she said it was neither….I tried to explain the difference, and it only made things worse because it was still neither in her mind…..

Even when we are end the end of ourselves, we still need to respond in love.  Actually being at the end of yourself is the best place to be because then we are finally realizing that we are in desperate need of God.  And we should have been relying on Him long ago instead of trying to do things ourselves.

Love Is Not Resentful
Resentful is to show or feel displeasure towards someone because you didn’t like what they did to you.  Love doesn’t jump to conclusions.  Love doesn’t think of someone else’s words as an attack.  How quick we are when we talk to certain people to always feel like they are attacking in everything they say.  Love doesn’t allow you to think that way.  God is not resentful toward us after all that we did to Him.  How can we hold things against others, when our sin nailed Christ to the cross?

These characteristics of love give us a lot to work on….adding to the characteristics we have already talked about.  As you go through each day think about how you should be loving others, and never forget about the Lord’s great love for you….no matter what you do!


Do You Really Love? Part 2 by Sarah Pollock

How did it go this past week?  Was your love patient and kind?  Did you purposefully look for ways to show others that you care about them?

My 5 year old daughter is constantly writing notes, drawing, and coloring pictures for other people.  Her little mind is amazing.  She hears my husband and me talking with others or she knows we are having someone over, and she immediately starts working on something for them.  I am not sure where all those pictures end up, but it is her way of loving….and I hope that continues as she gets older!


Let’s look at a few things this week that love does not:

Love Does Not Envy
Envy is being discontent or covetous; a craving for something one does not have.  A craving is an eager desire.  But be careful… far are you going to go to get it?

It is always hard to walk close by the toy aisle in a store, because my children see all the toys and they immediately forget about all the things at home, and desire everything the store has available.  They aren’t content with the things they have.  They “need” more!  My son can even be covetous in the girl aisles, and vice versa! 🙂

We were going into a store a few weekends ago, and there was a little girl sitting outside the store.  Her mother was standing there next to her, and the little girl was crying and screaming and repeating the phrase, “I want it!  I want it!”  How often we act exactly the same way.  Hopefully we don’t display ourselves the same way we see children acting when they don’t get their way–well, maybe we do, we just through the tantrum on the inside.

When we start thinking “I should…..” we start getting ourselves into trouble.  We deserve a lot of things we do not get because of salvation.  The Lord has not given you everything you want or desire because He knows that is not what is best for you.  Be thankful for all that you do have and for what others have, and work to be content!

Love Does Not Boast
I love how these characteristics all fit together.  Love does not desire what others have and it doesn’t boast about all that you.

Boast is to speak with exaggeration and an excessively high opinion especially about one’s own self.  Oh yeah….well, I ….. The definition I have for exaggeration is to magnify beyond the limits of truth.  We all have talked to people who love to talk about themselves, all that they have, all that they have accomplished, etc.  Well, we aren’t really talking with them, we are more just listening to them.

If you are truly loving, no one should know how much you have or all that you have done.  You could be a millionaire and no one would know because instead of acting in a boastful way–look at me!, you are humble.  A preacher described humility as someone who never gets credit, and that’s okay!

How often we want to be recognized for what we have done, but the Bible says that is not how we should be living.  Our lives need to point others to God and not to ourselves.  It is God that should be getting all the credit and the one we are excessively talking about.  Think about all that He has done for you!

Love does not boast because it is focused on the other person, and once again, this ties in with the next characteristic:

Love Is Not Arrogant
Arrogance is showing an irritating, angering, or annoying display of superiority or self-importance; overbearing pride.  Once again, we all know someone like this.  They are so much about themselves that it is…..annoying.  They are the only one on planet earth (well, so they think).

Love is completely the opposite and is constantly thinking about others!  We are so focused on other people that we don’t have time to exalt ourselves in any area.  That doesn’t mean that we neglect the things we are responsible for or need to accomplish, but we are not so overcome with ourselves that is all we can talk about.

One of my favorite characteristics because how I have heard it defined is coming up next time, so you’ll have to wait and see which one that is.  But these 3 that we have looked at this time all have to do with taking the focus off of ourselves and looking at the people around us.  Stop thinking about all the things you think you deserve and stop talking about all the things you have or have done (to the point where you are making those around you upset) and start thinking about the people around you.

Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant  I Corinthians 13:4

One verse that is packed full with lots to work on.  Let’s strive together to let others know that we love.

Do You Really Love? Part 1 by Sarah Pollock

I love ice cream…..
I love the mountains……
I love this outfit……..
I love you……..

Obviously these are not the same kinds of love.  But what is love?  What does love look like in the life of a Christian?  Your first thought is probably I Corinthians 13, and that is the passage I think of as well.  The verses in chapter 13 that talk about love are ones that challenge me every time I read them.  How could I ever love the way this chapter describes?  I know I will never reach perfection here on earth, but by God’s grace, may my love continue to grow and develop the way that God calls us to love each other.


A few years ago I did a detailed study of I Corinthians and defined every word multiple times to put each word it into a “simple” definition and description of what love should look like.  So with these notes and some other messages tha I have heard, I would like to share with you some of the things I have learned and been challenged with.  Ready?

What is love?
Love is a complete concern for another’s feelings and yet an intense and strong dedication to that person.  You are aware of another person’s feelings or circumstances and you are completely attached and dedicated to that person.  No matter what is going on in that person’s life, you are going to be there to help them.  You will show them that you care!

How humbling to think that this is what God did for us.  He loved us so much that no matter what we were going through, He was going to be dedicated to us to help us and let us know He cares.  And He did all of this, when we didn’t even love Him back……

Romans 5:8
But God commendeth his love towards us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

We have never seen a greater love than God’s.  In no way will we ever match that love, but that should be our goal everyday of our lives!

Love is Patient
Patience is bearing annoyance, delay, hardship, pain, etc. with strength (mental and emotional) and calm without complaint or anger.  I think I could stop here, and we would all have plenty to work on for the rest of our lives.  I am not a very patient person at times.  I feel very hypocritical at times when I am telling my children to be patient in regards to something, when I am not being patient myself!

Patience is hard……If it wasn’t hard, can you imagine how different our world would be?  Everyone would always respond correctly in every situation they face.  We would never get upset about things.  We would all understand that God is always at work in everything that happens, and the “patience-testing” circumstances are to make us more like God and bring glory to Him.

Someone else put it that patience means that it takes a long time to get upset.  You are peaceful while you are waiting.

We will never have to wait like God has waited for us.  Wow!  Think about how God has waited for us, many times in our lives, while we finally decide to submit and obey.  What a wonderful thought to think that God is patient with us and will continue to be patient.  His mercies are new every morning.

Love is Kind
Kind is a desire to do good to others.  We may do good to others, but what is the motivation behind it?  Are we being kind because we really desire to be kind, or are we being kind so we look good in the eyes of others.  A desire is a wish or long for; crave; or want (  Imagine a desire to be kind, and that desire and wanting won’t go away until it is satisfied.  Is being kind to others something that you long for and crave?

Psalm 84:2
My soul longeth, yea, even fainteth for the courts of the Lord: my heart and my flesh crieth out for the living God.

Not usually how we think.  We can think of lots of ways for others to be kind to us, but more often than not, we can manage just fine in our own lives without being kind to others.

Love is patient and kind. 

Wow!  We covered 2 different characteristics of love, and I feel like I have a long way to go.  We are going to stop there for this post, but don’t worry, there will be more.  Until then, I think we all have plenty to work on!

Wrong Thoughts? ‘Shut the Door’ by Debbie Talbert

7-13-10 St Andrews church door

Wrong Thoughts? Shut the Door by Debbie Talbert

I have been musing about temptation and sin lately. My husband is preaching a series on the Sermon on the Mount from Matthew 5. While listening to these I’ve been reminded that not only is murder or adultery sin, so is thinking angry or lustful thoughts. They don’t just lead to sin, they ARE sin. Jesus tells us the sinful thought equals the sinful action.

 We have choices

When we are presented with temptation we have choices to make. We can resist the temptation or yield to the temptation. Sometimes we don’t banish it entirely, but leaving the door of opportunity open a crack, we keep it in the back of our minds to decide what to do about it later.

 My ‘Shut the Door’ policy

God used my granddaughter to give me what I call my ‘Shut the Door’ policy. I was working in my office and Chloe would stand in my doorway opening and shutting the door. As she did she would first say, “Shut the door!” and would close it hard. She would then call out in her sweet little voice, “Open the door, Gwama!” She wasn’t skilled enough to open the door yet and needed my help.

Because I am a visual learner something about this picture clicked for me. When faced with temptation I could ‘shut the door’ on it. The more I thought about it I saw that this simple visual was exactly what I needed to remind me to shut the door on wrong thoughts, misdirected emotions, foolish behavior, and other temptations I face. Instead, God urges me to choose God’s truth about what I’m dealing with.

Resist temptation

A very clever commercial portrays this perfectly. A cute little girl pulling a red wagon rings the doorbell and a pleasant young woman, a bowl of the featured cereal in hand, answers. With a charming smile and wink, the little girl thrusts a box of beautifully decorated doughnuts toward her and sweetly asks, “Doughnuts?” The young woman’s eyes light up as she is obviously tempted by the enticing treats. The little girl cocks her head, smiles beguilingly, and waves her hand over the pretty box of baked goods. “Take another look!” is the unspoken message. But the woman instead looks at her bowl of cereal, tells the kid, “You’re cute” and shuts the door.

 Evaluate your thinking

Earlier this month I was fighting my emotions when my youngest headed back to China to finish her schooling. Because she has struggled with leaving home, I was struggling about sending her back. Tears would well up as I thought of her leaving. My dear husband kindly reminded me that allowing myself to break down and blubber in front of my daughter was essentially selfish. I already knew she was dealing with her own concerns about going back and an emotional outburst from me would make it much harder for my daughter to leave. God reminded me to ‘shut the door’ on my selfish feelings and rejoice in the fact the she was following the Lord’s leading in finishing this opportunity to learn abroad.

 Whatever is true…..

God commands us to focus our thoughts in a very particular way. Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. (Philippians 4:8)

 Self talk can devolve

I’m an introvert and I engage in a great deal of inner self-talk and evaluation. My thinking can very easily devolve into negative, critical, complaining, faithless, ungracious inner speech. God commands me to set aside those kinds of thinking and think on things that are true.

 Our thoughts or God’s thoughts

God has used the ‘shut the door’ visual to help me turn my thoughts to His promises. When I find I am anxious about some unknown outcome in my future God reminds me to ‘shut the door’ on those thoughts and remember that Philippians 4:6-7 tells me not to be anxious about anything. When fear grips me, God urges me to ‘shut the door’ on my fear and embrace my God-given spirit of power and love and self-control. (2 Timothy 1:7) Am I weighed down with heavy burdens? Open the door and ‘cast your cares and burdens on the Lord because He cares for us and sustains us. (Psalm 55:22 and 1 Peter 5:7) Distressed because a loved one rejects Christ? With God all things are possible! (Matthew 19:26)

 Take every thought captive

Maybe you need a visual reminder such as my ‘shut the door’ policy. God commands us to “take every thought captive to obey Christ.” (2 Corinthians 10:5) When you are tempted to think thoughts which are contrary to the truth of God’s Word and character, ask God to give you the grace to ‘shut the door’ on them and focus on what will bring Him glory. I have been surprised at how much this little device has helped me. I hope it will help you too.

Singleness Is Not a Disease by Debbie Talbert

Single people all around us???????????????????????????????

My world is surrounded by single people. My husband heads up a small Bible college and serves as a teacher there. Several married men are training to go into Christian ministry, but a number of the students are single men and women. There are quite a few single people in the church where my husband serves as pastor of teaching and preaching, and we also have four single adult daughters.

“I thought by now I would be married.”

Not only do I interact regularly with my daughters, I try and stay connected with the college and church singles as much as possible. Whenever I get into deep heart-sharing conversations with singles I often am asked in some form, “What is wrong with me that I am still single?” or wistfully, “I thought by now I would be married and have a couple of kids.”

God designed marriage

God made us social beings. He created us male and female and most of the time His design is for one man to marry one woman and form a family unit. It is not wrong for singles to desire to be married.

Singleness is not a disease to be cured

But somehow in Christian circles we have developed this idea that singleness is a disease that needs to be cured, and we need to do our part to administer the medication.

Thrown into the path of the eligible

I have watched over the years as overeager mothers have manipulated single young men into the lives of their single daughters. Like a character from a Jane Austen novel, they scheme for ways to maneuver their daughters into the paths of eligible young men. And often with disastrous results.

Pray for your child’s future spouse

I shudder but I also understand the desire to see your children happily married. Since the birth of each of our children we have prayed that God would save and protect their future spouses. God has given us an amazing daughter-in-law in answer to those prayers. We continue to pray for our yet unknown sons-in-law and trust God to bring them into our daughters’ lives at the right time.

Resist the temptation to manipulate

But I have to resist the temptation of trying to arrange meetings or concoct reasons for my daughters to meet someone in particular. I want to see God grant my girls the desire of their hearts in marriage, but not in a contrived or manipulated way. And so I pray for God to allow marriage for them in His time and according to His will. And I pray that God will give me the grace to keep out of the way.

Don’t marry just to be married

We may know of someone who has desperately flirted, flattered, or finagled their way into a marriage, just for the sake of being married. While sometimes the couple works hard to make the marriage work, often the relationship is unhappy or has a disastrous ending.

The grass is not greener

Single friends, don’t spend all of your time longing for something which God has not allowed at this time. Don’t be fooled into thinking that your life would automatically be better if you were married.

Marriage does not solve your problems

Are you thinking that marriage is the solution to all of your problems? Don’t be deluded. Marriage brings two sinners into covenant relationship with each other and God for a lifetime. We are all basically selfish. In marriage you are to prefer the other person above yourself. That selflessness takes grace and practice. If you struggled with character flaws and personal failings before marriage you will also struggle with them after marriage.

Marriage is not a cure for temptation

Marriage does not cure temptation. In a class my husband took in college a speaker told the students he thought that marriage would remove the temptation of sexual sin, but was shocked to discover that it did not. Men and women must guard their hearts against sexual temptation, both before and after marriage. If you struggle with pride or anger or laziness or any other sin, marriage will not cure that temptation, but may even magnify it as you live and interact with your spouse who is also a sinner.

Your deepest longings can only be filled by God

Singles may be surprised to learn that marriage does not fulfill their deepest longings. A person can be just as lonely in a marriage as a single person is without marriage. Only God can fill the core longings of our soul. A godly spouse can help us along that path, but a marriage relationship never replaces our relationship with God.

All believers need to practice contentment

Singles, just like married people, need to practice contentment. Don’t sit around waiting for God to plunk that perfect person into your life. Love and enjoy your family in Christ. Involve yourself in spiritually beneficial activities. Go on a short term mission trip, help a church planting family for a year, stay with an elderly friend or family member who needs companionship or care, travel to help with a project or encourage missionaries, host impromptu prayer meetings and fellowship times, volunteer to teach or watch children, or usher, or help with visitation at your church. Remember that godliness with contentment is great gain, and is not dependent on your marital status.

Focus on your relationship with God

During this season of singleness, take time to build your relationship with God. Walk with Him, talk with Him, learn about Him, share Him, and depend on Him. Strive to be the right kind of person, the best Christian you can be. Earnestly thank God as He strengthens your relationship with Christ.

Wait on the Lord to meet your needs

Is marriage in your future? Only God can answer that. Wait on the Lord to meet your needs now and in the future as He has promised to do. Psalm 130:5 tells us I wait for the LORD, my soul waits, and in his word I hope. God has promised to meet our real needs, and He always keeps His promises.