Does your mouth ever get you in trouble?

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I will meditate on Your precepts, And contemplate Your ways. Psalm 119: 15. NKJV

I don’t know if this is a gal-thing or a flaw in both genders.  But I can’t keep from saying things that hurt, bad-mouth, presume, annoy people or even sometimes betray confidences.

This is not a new observation.  I’ve known about my faulty mouth for years.  But not until some months ago, have I mounted an intentional campaign to cure my mouth.  Disappointingly, no matter how sincere my intentions are in the early morning when I’m immersed in God’s word, I can’t remember to call on Jesus ‘to put a guard over my mouth’ (Psalm 141:3, NIV).

I blurt out things I instantly or later regret.  My friend Joyce suffers from this disease as well.  So, we pray for each other.

Yesterday morning I spent some time in Psalm 119, lingering where a verse would call out to me to dig deep.  Verse 15 was one of those where I focused specifically on the word ‘meditate’. Blue Letter Bible app offered an amplified description of ‘siah’, including to:

  • converse with oneself, as in chatter out loud
  • ponder
  • talk about (or sing about)

Immediately I saw the application.  If I am chattering God’s words in a soft voice, maybe what comes OUT of my mouth might actually be God-glorifying, helpful to others, necessary and timely.

Then last night, I read about Charles Hodge’s practice as a boy.  Taking God at his word, he kept up a running monologue to his heavenly Dad, thanking him for every good thing and telling him what he wanted. 

Isn’t this the kind of confident, child-like prayer our Lord desires?  Hodge’s practice makes me think of 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 where Paul urges us to:

keep on rejoicing (in hope, in Christ, in our salvation, in our heavenly provision, in our peace, in our future……)

keep on asking God for what we want

keep on thanking God (for all his good gifts)

I know that I can’t conform myself to Christ by myself.  I need God’s supernatural power. That’s why I ask him regularly to put a guard over my mouth.

But I DO want to keep up a running chatter with the triune God.  That will at least help me stay focused on Him.

Is it ‘okay’ to retire?

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What do you have that you did not receive? 1 Corinthians 4: 7 NIV

…in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. 1 Thessalonians 5:18 NKVJ

Mike and I have been praying and planning about when he should retire.  I left my full-time teaching job in March 2019 when God moved us here to Huntsville.  Mike has continued working full time as a senior systems engineer.

Now, for many reasons, he wants to retire. This is not a decision we are rushing into.  Prudently, we have met with financial advisors. It does appear that Mike can stop having to work for income. What a privileged position that the Lord has granted us!

One quality I appreciate in my husband is that he is not a workaholic.  Western culture and especially America in the 21st century appear to esteem endless work.  Most men we know boast in how long they work each day. Putting in hours at night or over the weekend appears to be a badge of honor.  Mike is counter cultural.  He likes time at home with me to talk, think, read, exercise and pursue other interests.  His identity is not tied up with his productivity at the office. I’m so glad.

If God indeed grants him to retire, he’ll be 65 and 4 months. Assured of the financial viability of this change, I see Mike cautiously allowing himself to enjoy looking forward to the day when he can exercise more choice in how to invest time and energy. Instead of needing to support us through full-time work, we are now talking about ‘energizing joy’ as a way to choose how to invest his God-given talents, gifts and experiences.

But he is still hesitant to take anything for granted. The other night as we started chatting and fixing dinner, Mike mentioned how he didn’t want to be like that prosperous fool in Jesus’ parable. (Luke 12: 13-21) You know the scene Jesus depicted, that of a prosperous man salivating over his vision of tearing down his barns to build a larger storage facility to protect his wealth, his retirement.

I reassured my hard-working husband with this observation. His eagerness to acknowledge all that we have as God’s gifts to enjoy and steward, to be received with thanksgiving, points to a healthy fear of the Lord.

Mike has endured decades of ‘thorns and thistles’ in his work.  He has endured those times by God’s grace and experienced periodic days of satisfaction, but no real joy.  I think the idea that we should ‘find our bliss’ in our work sets up many for disappointment.  Work is for feeding your family, providing a useful service to society and other important reasons.  If you enjoy your work, that is icing on the cake.

Should retiring people feel guilty for enjoying some God-given peace and ‘prosperity’? No!  Read what the Lord teaches his people who look to him, who trust him, who follow him:

Then the Lord your God will make you most prosperous in all the work of your hands…..Deuteronomy 30:9 NIV

God promises that there are times of refreshment and prosperity where thorns and thistles do not get the upper hand.  This is what I believe retirement can be.  I am encouraging my earnest, hard-working, precious husband to look forward with hope as he trusts the Lord with this next phase.  There are times when our Father delights to give us work that yields abundant harvests, satisfies us and meets needs of other people, all for his glory and the spread of the kingdom.

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