Jackie's Journey "Chance or Choice!"

 

“The great thing in the world is not so much where we stand, as in what direction we are moving”.  Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.

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“I’m glad for the Bible. It gives me a chance to see how other people chose…and the results.  There’s the contrast between Abraham’s choice and Lot’s choice before Sodom.  There’s Moses’ choice of his fellows rather than the riches of Egypt.  There’s Joseph’s choice in the prison house of Potiphar, and Daniel’s choice of the king’s vegetables rather than his meats.  Paul paid a glorious price when he chose his lot with the early Christians. Christ made marvelous choices when he set his face toward Jerusalem, at the Garden of Gethsemane, and in the Judgment Hall.

 Adam’s choice cost him Eden; Esau’s, his birthright; Achan’s his life; Lot’s, his home and herds; Absalom’s, his father’s throne; Saul’s, his kingdom; the rich young ruler, the companionship of Christ.  Judas lost his apostleship; Demas, his discipleship.  Pilate, Agrippa, and Felix chose wrong and missed immortality. Ananias’ choice fooled no one but himself.  Caleb and Joshua chose well, while Jonah’s first choice nearly shipwrecked himself and the crew….” Robert G. Lee

 As mothers, if asked how do we build the character into our children 

that is necessary for them to make right choices,  

would our answer prove we know how to choose

the things that matter most?

 “Destiny is not a matter of chance, it is a matter of choice; it is not a thing to be waited for, it is a thing to be achieved.”  William Jennings Bryan

 Life is a continuous series of choices determined by our wise or unwise decisions.  The Bible gives us a pragmatic biblical principle that teaches us that we reap a life with purpose and blessing, if we sow wise choices.  We reap what we sow… The opposite is also true…if we sow unwise choices, we will reap the consequence of destruction on our heritage and ourselves…

 What are you sowing?  What is the pattern of your life?

 Decisiveness is the ability to finalize difficult decisions based on the will and ways of God.  We build decisiveness when we refuse to reconsider or rationalize a decision that we already know in our spirit is the right choice!  “Rationalization is allowing my mind to find reasons to excuse what my spirit knows is wrong!” Romans 2: 21 

Are you a wise decision-maker?

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The opposite of decisiveness is confusion and double-mindedness.   The mother who thinks she can ride the invisible and non-existent fence is fooling herself.   There is no middle or neutral ground.  “…That woman (man) should not think she (he) will receive anything from the Lord; she (he) is double-minded, unstable in all she (he) does”! James 1: 8

 I have never been the fastest decision-maker, but I have a treasured friend who makes me look like the “Road Runner”!  She meticulously finds every pro and con to every decision.  Detailing its purpose, longevity, functionality, and preference in comparison to a multitude of other possibilities.  I, frankly, am honored I made the cut and she has chosen me for one of her closest friends for almost 40 years!  There is one area of her life, however, where she has absolutely no difficulty in making a decision and consistently makes the right one.  Her secret…she is bent on seeking the will of God, above all else, disregarding her own will!  She is single-minded!

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Meet my single-minded friend, Nancy Sanchez

 When facing a decision, check your facts, seek wise counsel and make sure your goals are clearly defined. But most importantly, make sure that Matt. 6:33 is in play first…” Seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness (His Will!) and all these things will be added unto you”.

“I hate double-minded people, but I love your law.

You are my refuge and my shield.

I have put my hope in your word, oh God.”

Psalm 119: 113-114

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~Jackie Johnson - I am a former tribal missionary to the Kuna Indians on the Colombian border in Central America.  Fluent in several languages, my husband and I currently pastor a Spanish-speaking church in Southern California.  My passion is discipling and equipping dedicated young women for life, marriage, motherhood, and beyond. I am the mother of two daughters and the grandmother of three Princesses and four young Knights. 

Jackie's Journey "Are You Wise in Your Own Eyes?"

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As moms we have the ultimate privilege of having little innocent ones look up to us, think us wise, copy our every move and watch our pattern of responses to life’s situations. 

We nurture them and delight in the fact that we are so needed and well thought of at our young age.  To our little ones everything is new and learning about the world outside is an adventure we readily take with them, carefully exposing tiny hands to the beauty of flower petals, cautiously moving furry caterpillars and catching the wind blowing leaves.  We experience the joy of living through the eyes of these that see only the splendor…then reality hits!

 We don’t live in that world anymore.  We are fraught with the truth of our own reflection in their innocent eyes.  We are in the adult theater of war with the manifestations of our self-importance!  The enemy has blinded us with a pursuit of self-recognition and self-exaltation and a desire to control.  We have become complainers; mothers who pass judgment on God (by judging others!); women of bad attitudes and angry looks; contentious; perfectionists; chatterboxes about ourselves; women consumed with what othersthink; unteachable; sarcastic; devastated by criticism; defensive; disrespectful to our husbands; self-sufficient; irritable; jealous; envious; full of self-pity…you know you best…you fill in the blank!  

 All of these and more are marks of arrogance in the life!  Being wise in your own eyes!  Don’t give approval to your child with a lower standard than God gave us in His Word regarding pride.

 Everyone who is proud in heart is an abomination to the Lord; 

assuredly, he will not be unpunished.” Proverbs 16: 5

 “There is one character quality that will enable us (to be the moms we are called to be) and all Christ wants us to be.  We cannot come to God without it.  We cannot love God supremely without it.  We cannot be an effective witness for Christ without it.  We cannot love our children or husband and serve others without it.  We cannot (be that model or) lead in a godly way without it.  We cannot resolve conflict without it.  We cannot deal with the sin of others without it.”  

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In short, we must embrace and live out humility in order to truly live and be who God means for us to be.”(Stuart Scott…emphasis added)It is for this reason that God exhorts us through Paul:

 Therefore, I the prisoner of the Lord, implore you to walk in a manner 

worthy of the calling with which you have been called, with all HUMILITYand gentleness…Eph. 4:1-2

 “We can have no power from Christ unless we live in the persuasion that we have none of our own.” John Owen We cannot be humble without realization of our areas of sinful pride; calling it by name, repenting in brokenness and reflecting glory back to God. As difficult as the battle between pride and humility seems, the provision to live triumphantly is possible only by His promise and delivery of grace made available to the humble.  “Humility creates the vacuum that divine grace fills.” (John McArthur)  Moment by moment decisively walking a life absent of self opens the door to all the grace needed for humility to grow.

 God’s most powerful illustrations have been in the lives of men and women who knew their weakness, but who learned how to draw on God’s strength!

 Charles Spurgeon taught “every Christian has a choice between

being humble or being humbled”!

 Which will it be??

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~Jackie Johnson - I am a former tribal missionary to the Kuna Indians on the Colombian border in Central America.  Fluent in several languages, my husband and I currently pastor a Spanish-speaking church in Southern California.  My passion is discipling and equipping dedicated young women for life, marriage, motherhood, and beyond. I am the mother of two daughters and the grandmother of three Princesses and four young Knights. 

Jackie's Journey "Do You Want the Formula for a Successful Life?

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How’s LIFE going for you?

Living in wealth and honor?

 This week we celebrate the 4th of July and this year is officially half spent!  June and July welcome us with summer…warmer weather, B-B-Q’s, beach days and family vacation time.  School responsibilities take a short break and our focus changes.  We look forward to “fun” time with our children and grandchildren unencumbered by pressure.  Time to think, study, write and talk without the rush of a daily overtasked schedule crammed into days that are entirely too short! Most of us moms’ welcome summer…

 Jungle life in the tropics offered two seasons… dry and rainy.  The rhythm of life in the Darien and its inhabitants kept time for us. What we ate depended on what animals were available to hunt or catch in season.  Life looked different than it does here in the states.   However our motivation in that remote village was the same…to make a difference in the life of someone every day.  

 My husband and our two little princesses were my first daily focus.  I needed a formula to give my life a goal that would keep me motivated. I knew I was created with destiny and my life had eternal purpose.  I instantly saw the promise in the Proverbs 22: 4 verse, but I did not understand the two pre-requisites for achieving it. 

What was the formula?

 We are all influencing someone all the time. I wanted my life to make a difference … 

 The question was “HOW?”

 The answer was locked up in that short, little verse of promise and instruction!  It beckoned my attention because the promise was so inclusive, desirable and powerful.  

 Humility, the first pre-requisite in the verse, is my seeing my sinfulness (Jas. 4:17) in the light of His holiness!  My personal experience is that His holiness is blinding!!   Submission to Him is mandatory…God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble. The only authority of my life is the fullness of His Holy Spirit, who in verse 5 of James 4 says, He is “jealous for what belongs to God” …ME!  Jas. 4: 1-6

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The Fear of the Lord, the second stipulation, is to fear the consequence of sin and to understand that we are to live as examples of His grace, not excuses!

 The promise that comes with living our life in HUMILITY

and THE FEAR OF THE LORD is 

Wealth, Honor and Life!   

 Who doesn’t want that?

 One requires a brokenness before an almighty God to all the things we hold dear…including and specifically… our self-life with all its wants and demands!  It means an abandonment of our pride.  The other requires an understanding of sin and its consequence.  

 We do whatever it takes to avoid both of these!  Our culture accepts demanding our rights…do whatever it takes to get what we want and that there is no consequence for our actions!  We can blame, rationalize or just plain lie and there is no personal judgment or responsibility.  As a practice, we moms should be teaching our children to “think consequence” before a decision is made, not after!

 I am here to tell you that one formula leads to destruction and the other, a biblical plan, (Proverbs 22:4) that comes with a promise, leads to a dynamic and successful Life!

 “Fear the Lord, you his saints, for those who fear Him lack nothing”!  Psa. 34: 9

 Which will you choose?

 Humility + fear of God = wealth, honor and life  

 OR

 Pride +no fear of God or consequence = destruction of self, family and home!

 A triumphant life or a defeated life

Your choice!

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~Jackie Johnson - I am a former tribal missionary to the Kuna Indians on the Colombian border in Central America.  Fluent in several languages, my husband and I currently pastor a Spanish-speaking church in Southern California.  My passion is discipling and equipping dedicated young women for life, marriage, motherhood, and beyond. I am the mother of two daughters and the grandmother of three Princesses and four young Knights. 

Jackie's Journey "You choose...Calm or Chaos!"

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I’m minding my own business…quietly reading through Proverbs… 

and the words “quarrelsome wife” keeps popping up on the pages!

 “Better to live on a corner of the roof than to share a house with a quarrelsome wife”. Proverbs 21: 9  

 Just ten verses later…” Better to live in a desert than with a quarrelsome or ill-tempered wife.”  And in the next few chapters…” Better to live…” an exact quote of Proverbs 21:9!! 

How important is tranquility to you?

 With chaos all around us (wives and mothers) what would it take for us to maintain a calm peace in our homes?  We just celebrated Mother’s Day a few weeks ago. A day set aside to encourage us in our commitment to our families. We are reminded of our role and responsibility to be all God has called us to be.  It takes two to quarrel and whether you live with a good listener or an argumentative person, it requires your participation to induce a “quarrel”.  No great revelation, but a great challenge for those of us who have our own opinion and think that opinion has value enough to be verbalized!

 Most attempts at resolving an argument are fought on the battleground of confessing the sin of the other person, rather than acknowledging our own.  No one ever wins an argument!  Our energy, limited as it often is, is spent recklessly.  Our focus is on our need to be right or to have a sense of personal value or to correct a false accusation, rather than the need to know God’s perspective and stepping into the classroom of life and growing-up! 

 What value does our argument have in the light of eternity? 

 How will it profit His life in us?

 In the heat of the moment the issue seems important, maybe even life-changing.  Our perspective is often clouded by our self-life, personal desires and expectations.  We are held captive by a force (Satan) pushing us to get our way or have the understanding we think we deserve from our husbands to validate our worth.  Self is demanding its rightful position in the relationship!  Satan stands back and just laughs!

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 God’s design from the beginning has been to use our inability to resolve issues to draw us to a place where we hear His voice alone.  There is no argument worth sacrificing our peace with Him; no right or expectation is as important as pleasing Him in all our thoughts, words, attitudes, and actions.  Our weakness in being able to discern the greater need of identifying the real source of our disagreement and resolving issues more quickly, demonstrates our immaturity. “For everyone looks out for his own interests, not those of Jesus Christ.”  Phil 2:21  

 Laying down our demand at the moment and sensing His quiet voice of peace in the chaos of our situation is what His life in us is programmed to do!  As mother’s, it is easy to lose focus temporarily and none of us is immune to its pull, but the peace of God that transcends all understanding will guard our hearts (plural) and minds (plural) when we choose to bring Phil. 2:1-3 into focus in that moment of decision before the climatic altercation gets a foothold.  Mom’s, this promise we can “take to the bank” … every time!

 The promise is the “God of Peace will be with us” if we put into practice that which we have learned or received or heard or seen from Him.”  Our little ones (and big ones!) are watching and listening to see if we “walk our talk”in the things we say to them to resolve their issues when they are arguing. 

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Do they see God at work or hypocrisy with no hope?

Finally, sisters,” if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ or any comfort from His love or any fellowship with the Spirit or tenderness and compassion, then make His joy complete by being like-minded, having His same spirit and purpose.  Do nothing out of selfish ambition and conceit but in humility (not self-defense or rationalizations) consider the other person more important than yourself.” 

 However difficult this exercise is when in the thick of an argument, this is the admonition and solution to avoid whatever we feel is more important than maintaining our peace with Him!

 Our choice:  Peace or Chaos!

Which will you choose?

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~Jackie Johnson - I am a former tribal missionary to the Kuna Indians on the Colombian border in Central America.  Fluent in several languages, my husband and I currently pastor a Spanish-speaking church in Southern California.  My passion is discipling and equipping dedicated young women for life, marriage, motherhood, and beyond. I am the mother of two daughters and the grandmother of three Princesses and four young Knights. 

Jackie's Journey "A Cruel Companion!"

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After major emergency surgery in Panama my recovery was slow.  While my husband returned to our village in the jungle, I was taken in by dear friends who cared for me and our two daughters until his return and a doctor’s release to re-enter jungle work.  Christina attended the mission school during those months and I attempted to care for a very active three-year-old, Kim.  To say that she was lively would be an understatement.  Her boundless energy was an extreme contrast to my very slow and weak frame and keeping up with her was daunting.

 Kim, to this day, can walk into a room and the whole room lights up, full of energy.  Her middle name is Joy and she certainly brings that into our lives!  Her willful defiance to correction in those early days brought this young mom to an impasse…we would continually lock horns or I would just count my blessings and give in! 

 Ever been there?

 I have one of those faces that can’t hide anything.  I wear my emotions on my face, not my sleeve.  I consider myself to be a fairly even-tempered woman with a clear understanding of what it means to be angry.   I know the functional definition of anger, the peace I have to sacrifice to give into it, the guilt that results, and the pain required to resolve it. 

  One day at our friend’s home, Kim’s “lively activity” drew attention for some needed help. I was asked how I was going to respond to her. I answered the question with a silent non-verbal,… “what...what do you mean…?”  My face must have spoken loudly because I was then asked, “Are you angry, Jackie?”  I responded, “Of course not!”  My friend replied, “Jackie, look at your expression in the mirror” (there was a mirror on the wall where I stood).   

 I looked…and there was no denying the fact that my face said what my mind clearly denied…I was angry! Sometimes I pause and glaze over while processing, but this was different!  I slithered off into my temporary bedroom and made an attempt to rationalize my situation!  Don’t they realize how fragile I am?  This can’t be fair…I just had a Laparotomy, forty-four stitches inside and forty-four stitches to close…I was in bad shape…don’t I get a smidge of extra consideration???  My self-pity consumed me…why… I thought I was a victim (the biggest lie from the pit!), well…wasn’t I??  

Sound familiar?

Anger is cruel and fury overwhelming….

Anger is cruel and fury overwhelming….

Anger is a cruel companion. The emptier the pot the quicker it boils!  Anger does everything to undermine truth and defeat us!  It is nothing more than “someone finding a right that I have not yet yielded to God.”  By that definition no one can makeme angry!  I choose it all by myself…I can’t blame anybody!  It is my fault!

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 “When God wants to bring more power into our lives, He brings more pressure”.

A.B. Simpson

 There was no verbal argument and no laboring the point…just my humbly taking personal

responsibility and acknowledging …my guilt!

Anger is an acid that can do more harm to the vessel in which it is stored than to anything on which it is poured. “It is better to dwell in the wilderness, than with a contentious and an angry woman.” Prov.21: 19   The last thing I wanted to be was that angry woman!  My children deserved a godly example, not an excuse!  My husband, bless his heart, deserved a wife free from anger to humbly love him unconditionally.  

 Anger and humility cannot dwell together…one has to go.

 Henry Drummond in The Greatest Thing in the World, wrote:

  “It is the intermittent fever which bespeaks unintermittent disease within; the occasional bubble escaping to the surface which betrays some rottenness underneath; a sample of the most hidden products of the soul dropped involuntarily when off one’s guard; in a word, the lightning form of a hundred hideous and unchristian sins.  For a want of patience, a want of kindness, a want of generosity, a want of courtesy, a want of unselfishness, are all instantaneously symbolized in one flash of…TEMPER.”  

 We call TEMPER by many socially acceptable names in an attempt to excuse it: impatience, frustration, wrong response, irritation, and annoyance…    We find clever ways to rationalize our anger.  We protect it, guard it, defend it, and yet its ugly head rears up and betrays us.

 I am grateful and forever indebted to the family who forced me that day in Panama to face my anger and its subtle and insidious hold on me!  That new light to recognize anger and its deceptions, to call it by name, to ask forgiveness and to walk in the promised victory keeps my Christian life liberated daily, as I continue to learn.

 Are you an angry woman?

 Is humility your signature attribute?

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~Jackie Johnson - I am a former tribal missionary to the Kuna Indians on the Colombian border in Central America.  Fluent in several languages, my husband and I currently pastor a Spanish-speaking church in Southern California.  My passion is discipling and equipping dedicated young women for life, marriage, motherhood, and beyond. I am the mother of two daughters and the grandmother of three Princesses and four young Knights. 

Jackie's Journey "Run...Fire!!"

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Fires can be devastating!  In the jungle there is no 911, no 

Fire Department, Fire Fighters or fire hoses and trucks…no place to run…

 One afternoon the entire village stood on the riverbank and watched across the rivers swift moving waters as a raging fire approached our settlement.  Like a tornado it swept across the forest floor consuming everything in its path.  The entire area was a patchwork quilt of gardens planted with bananas, rice, yucca, corn, and sugarcane… 

 Many of the new believers had fields laden with produce, as did their unbelieving neighbors.  Shocked at what we were watching, the believers began to pray.  My thought was…could that fire jump across the river?  The blaze began to pick its fields to blister as it “zigzagged” toward us. 

 To our utter astonishment the fire leaped over the believer’s fields and consumed the others. Not one field of a believer was touched! God’s demonstration of Sovereign control over the elements was undeniable. 

God was in that fire!

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“And I myself will be a wall of fire around it, declares the Lord, 

and I will be its glory within.”Zechariah 2:5

 Since time and memorial, the Darien jungle and its unpredictability had ruled!  Whether it was the fluctuating weather, the epicenter earthquake, the remote isolation, the absence of communication to the outside world, the challenge of transportation or the miscellany of wild animals, poisonous creepy crawlers, army ants, snakes and vampire bats…we were captive to the jungle around us. This was one of those days when my mind concurred with the reality.  

 We all stood amazed at God’s presence in that most obscure place.  He had been there all along.  The boldness of His Sovereignty was magnified in that raging fire. The assurance that regardless of the circumstance we were experiencing we were “…shielded by God’s power…”(I Pet. 1:5)was our pre-eminent thought as we stood “shaking in our boots”.  The promise that “the beloved of the Lord shall dwell in safety by Him; and the Lord shall cover him all day long” was as real that day as it ever would be.  We surely sensed that covering as we surveyedHishandiwork! 

 While buried in the jungle, I often sang a song taken from Psalm 32:7. “You are my hiding place. You will protect me from trouble and you surround me with songs of deliverance, whenever I am afraid, I will trust in You…”  Delivered and protected, standing on the edge of the Pucuro River, I was reminded of the truth “God makes winds his messengers, flames of fire his servants”! Psa. 104: 4 

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Ralph, my husband and God’s servant, teaching in our Kuna house with our daughter, Christina listening in.

 We are saved to serve, called to be “flames of fire”.  

Alive, dancing through life, consumed with the burden on His heart…

controlled by His sovereign will.

 “HE makes his ministers a flame of fire…”Psalm 104: 4

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~Jackie Johnson - I am a former tribal missionary to the Kuna Indians on the Colombian border in Central America.  Fluent in several languages, my husband and I currently pastor a Spanish-speaking church in Southern California.  My passion is discipling and equipping dedicated young women for life, marriage, motherhood, and beyond. I am the mother of two daughters and the grandmother of three Princesses and four young Knights. 

Jackie's Journey "I Hate Conflict!"

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Conflict…the plight of the ages.

 My husband tells me conflict is “confessing another’s sin instead of my own!”  It happens more often than we want.   It often comes when least expecting it.  It can be planned and contrived for personal benefit.  It is unspeakable if entered for selfish purposes. It speaks its own ugly language. It brings with it a sense of guilt and rejection.  It leaves a taste of loneliness, if unresolved.  It defies common sense.   It strengthens selfish resolve.  It denies truth.  It stands in the way of peace and unity.  You have to sacrifice your peace with God to be a participant in it.  It divides friends and fellowship.  It has no godly purpose or end.  It separates all that is good and emphasizes the negative.   It wounds the Spirit.  It brings with its depression and failure.  It lies to us about our value.  It leaves us discouraged.  It….

 Ever been there?

Who hasn’t?  What causes conflict and how can we avoid it?

 If everything has a purpose…what is the purpose of conflict? Is there anything redeemable in a clash of wills?  The Word of God is filled with conflicts and resolutions.  I don’t have to look far to find God’s mind on the subject of conflict.  Psalm 119, the longest chapter in the Bible, records David’s prayer in the midst of conflict.  The first four verses express a promise and a goal.  “Blessed are they whose ways are blameless, who walk according to the law of the Lord.  Blessed are they who keep his statues and seek him with all their heart.  They do nothing wrong; they walk in His ways.” Then comes the conflict.  “You (God) have laid down precepts that are to be fully obeyed.  Oh, that my ways were steadfast in obeying your degrees!  Then I would not be put to shame...”

 Conflict is a direct result of not fearing and obeying God.  His Word clearly records my responsibility (vs. 12-40).  My failure to follow His instruction in my relationship with Him (and others) results in conflict.  My response to conflict reveals my true character and my relationship with God (Verses 41-48).  Conflict is my signal that I have violated a very simple scriptural principle… I have ceased to fear and obey God!

 There are varying types of conflict from world wars and societies to crossing wills with a two-year-old child! While at Bible School someone asked me if I believed in “personality conflicts”.  It was certainly a common phenomenon on campus and in the dorms and the question was thought provoking. 

 What do you think?

 f I am walking in the Spirit in all the light I have and you are also, can there be a conflict? Not likely.  There will instead be deference and understanding of one another. However, if one of us, or both of us, is not walking in the light of God’s Word we can count on conflict! Both of us want our own way!  We have sacrificed our peace for the conflict! What a destructive exchange!  Harmony is the absence of unsettled offenses. “A genuine confession is explaining how I have failed so that God will not be blamed for the consequences”.  

 Years ago, Ralph gave me a verse that I quote to myself when tempted to enter into conflict…It goes like this:  “Great peace have they that love Thy law and NOTHING shall offend them (or make them stumble)”.  Psa. 119:165   That means that NOTHING (or no one) has the power to bring offense that I would choose to accept.  There is no excuse for anger, self-protection or division. “Great peace have they…”   The choice is to maintain my peace and walk in the light or choose all the negatives that come with conflict!

 Which do you choose most often?

 As Moms, our children are busy reading us, while we are communicating with one another.  What do they hear?  The purpose of conflict is to teach us the power of the peace of God in our lives.  To sacrifice peace for conflict is disobedience against our Creator and demonstrates the lack of fear we have of the consequence that comes with every act against His will.  

 The next time you are given a choice, which will you choose?

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“… my heart will be blameless toward your decrees, 

that I may not be put to shame…I put my hope in your Word.”!  Psa. 119: 6-11. 

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~Jackie Johnson - I am a former tribal missionary to the Kuna Indians on the Colombian border in Central America.  Fluent in several languages, my husband and I currently pastor a Spanish-speaking church in Southern California.  My passion is discipling and equipping dedicated young women for life, marriage, motherhood, and beyond. I am the mother of two daughters and the grandmother of three Princesses and four young Knights. 

Jackie's Journey "Who Said I Was Lazy??"

I saw my first Sloth while traveling down the potholed Panamanian Highway!   It was so sad…my heart ached to pick it up and lift it safely into the tree it was approaching.  Toiling with every move, the poor little thing seemed lonely and abandoned.  I wanted to hurry its journey along, be a good servant and speed him on his way.  He sluggishly lifted his head and peered up at me…I imagined he was beckoning me for help.  However, his long claws and musty smell rendered him unapproachable.  His coat was matted and green…greasy looking… which only accentuated the stifling heat and humidity where we stood.  His slow motion gave new definition to idleness! He seemed so needy. I just wanted to fix it!

 Have you ever been there?

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What do you think of when you look at this mammal?

 I envisioned something creeping up on him while he was sleeping and his not being able to defend himself. The sloth, I understand, sleeps 15 hours day and night!  This motionless mammal is so still that the moths move into his thick hair!  He hangs upside down 90% of his life cycle and eating is his primary occupation. When food becomes scarce, he goes hungry…a sloth will die of starvation if food is not always within grasp!!  

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Slothfulness brings deep sleep; and an idle soul

will suffer hunger” Proverbs 19: 15.

 I love to study the world of nature for insights and analogies.  As I watched this mild-mannered sloth struggle to move, I realized there is a lesson to be learned.

 In extraordinary times God looks for extraordinary men and women that He can count on.  This remnant does not need great intellect, talent, or resources.  But they do need to be obedient moving channels through which God can show himself strong.II Cor. 12: 9-10

 For most of us the enemy of disobedience is the willful rebellion of crippling slothfulness.  It is crippling because its subtle characteristics are usually unrecognized until the pattern of laziness is set!

 Would you consider yourself a slothful person?

As mom’s, we don’t like to think of ourselves as being lazy! 

Our lives are busy from sun-up to sundown….

 But listen to the 6 symptoms of a slothful mom:

Ø She hears God’s Word and walks away with no change (she doesn’t believe she has a need)

Ø She does not seek the Lord with her whole heart (she has become guilty of little surrenders)

Ø She does not value the importance of time (she rationalizes and procrastinates)

Ø She does not finish tasks (she may be a great starter but a poor finisher)

Ø She lives in wishful thinking and vain imaginations (she’s a dreamer; not a doer)

Ø She forgets where she came from and is self-deceived Jas. 1:22-24. (she lives in fear)

 Life is a race against time. We are called to be “doers of the Word”. 

All is not lost! We still can win the race

if we realize the following truths about respecting time:

§ Time is limited! (Make the most of what is left!)

 Do you procrastinate? Do you live for the moment and let the future just take its course?

 § Time has a certain deadline…Death!  What will your legacy be?

Are you a person of example or excuses?  Are you spiritually prepared?

 “It is appointed unto man once to die and after that the judgment…” Heb.9: 27.

 § God determines our days and time is short!

Are you busy with the task on God’s heart?  Are your children prepared?

 “The length of our days is seventy years or eighty,

if we have the strength; yet their span is but trouble and sorrow,

for they quickly pass and we fly away”.

Psalm 90:10.

 We are moms with a purpose and destiny! 

How committed are we to eternal purposes?  

 § Days must be counted. (1 week has 168 hours!)

How much time do we spend eating, sleeping, playing, activities, on social media…?

              How much is left for productive work? Meditation, Reading the Word, Prayer…?

 “So, teach us to number our days, 

that we may apply our hearts to wisdom”

Psalm 90:12.

 § Our time requires accountability. (1 week has 168 hours!)

Do you rationalize your need to be held accountable? 

 § Time is given with purpose for God’s Work. 

Are you busy with the task on God’s heart? 

Or are you preoccupied with your own busy life?

 “…The night cometh, when no man can work” John 9: 4

 We cannot recover lost time! 

When its gone…its gone!!

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~Jackie Johnson - I am a former tribal missionary to the Kuna Indians on the Colombian border in Central America.  Fluent in several languages, my husband and I currently pastor a Spanish-speaking church in Southern California.  My passion is discipling and equipping dedicated young women for life, marriage, motherhood, and beyond. I am the mother of two daughters and the grandmother of three Princesses and four young Knights. 

Jackie's Journey "Earthquake!"

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The day started like any other day.  The stark silence of the night was broken by clamoring voices on the path outside our bedroom window that led into the dense jungle floor.  Moms with crying babies were arriving at our front door to trade eggs for sugar and oil.  The happy and animated chatter of our two little girls jumping up and down, hungry for those fresh eggs, motivated me to move into high gear! 

 It was only daybreak but life was already on a steady fast track.  As mom’s, we long for stability and a safe place for our children to grow up in.   Sometimes we look for it in the comfortable and familiar…our best laid plans.  Dressing was next and it was familiar and easy…I owned two Kuna dresses and wore flip-flops…no closet required!  Hot coffee, fresh eggs with rice and beans were on the breakfast menu and then off to the river to wash clothes.

 Humming and comfortable that the day was programmed from start to finish and clipping along as planned…I proceeded back up the river bank to hang the clean clothes on the lines strung from the outhouse to our tin roof line, get started on homeschool, then some language study before lunch.  I love it when a good plan comes together….

 The house was full of Kuna’s when we returned from the river.  My husband, Ralph, was seated…Bible open.  The hammock was stretched across the center of the room welcoming us… but no time!  It was almost 11:00 a.m.  It really was a day just like every other day… until the unthinkable happened

 “Suddenly, in an instant, the Lord Almighty 

came with thunder and earthquake and great noise…” Isa.29: 6

 The ground began to shake; a bold and abrupt jerk, a rumbling sound and then a LONG roll.  Our lantern, hanging from the 10’ ceiling, began to swing 2 feet in each direction.  The floorboards began to buckle and the entire house began to sway! I looked down and Kim’s high chair was rocking from side to side.  I grabbed her and reached for Christina already moving toward me.  She wrapped her arms around my leg. Stumbling toward Ralph, I was having difficulty standing; I was swaying and bobbing like a boat in a storm!

 When everything is moving, what does one grab for safety?  Ralph, immediately on his feet, saw my dilemma and reached for us across the room.  With one hand he grasped Kim and I and set us securely in the swinging hammock in the middle of the room.  With his other hand he lifted Christina up into his arms and tucked her in against us.  

 Turning to look outside, we all watched the ground heave and fall in surges.  The dogs were struggling to stay on their feet.  Every house in the village was moving.  The bark walls and thatch roofs were unstable and the tremors were continual for months!  We lived on a riverbank and the river was turbulent and threatening.  I am a California girl and I have experienced my share of earthquakes, but this one was in a class all its own!   It was longer, stronger and more forceful than any I had ever known. 

This, definitely, was NOT a day like any other day!

 In the jungle, interruptions are expected.  The Darien is full of them…creepy crawlers…poisonous spiders, frogs, snakes, ants and caterpillars… Drug runners or sick or injured Indians from other villages from Colombia passing through… These were predictable and probable challenges, but we happened to be in the 8.3 epicenter!  Not predictable…NO…NOT! 

I was reminded that God honors us most 

when He puts us where we will trust Him most?

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Safety was NOT in our house in the Darien jungle!

  Weeks after the initial jolt, someone offered us a third story apartment in Panama City for a few days to renew our visas.  Secretly, my hope was that half a country away from our village in the city, the tremors would not be felt!   Our arrival was after dark so we settled in and headed for bed.  As my head hit the pillow, to my utter astonishment, the earth began to shake and the entire three-story building began to sway!  Again, I was reminded that our true character is what we are in the dark!  

 Safety was NOT in Panama City!

 In those first few moments in the Darien with everything rattling around us, the Kuna believers in our house stood up totteringly and began to sing and pray!  We had found our safety in those first few moments…found only in a Sovereign and Almighty God who gives direction to the elements on earth. For the weeks that followed the initial earthquake we had tremors of varying degrees every hour on the hour!  

 Safety isn’t in a place or our best laid plans…

Safety IS in the Lord!

 “…Then you will go on your way in safety and your foot will not stumble.”  Proverbs 3:23

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~Jackie Johnson - I am a former tribal missionary to the Kuna Indians on the Colombian border in Central America.  Fluent in several languages, my husband and I currently pastor a Spanish-speaking church in Southern California.  My passion is discipling and equipping dedicated young women for life, marriage, motherhood, and beyond. I am the mother of two daughters and the grandmother of three Princesses and four young Knights. 

Jackie's Journey "Thank You ,Mom!"

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My Mother turned 100 years old this year!!

This is a current picture…I am abundantly blessed…

 MOTHER’S DAY was yesterday and I was reminded of “a story about four preachers who were discussing the merits of the various translations of the Bible.  One liked the King James Version best because of its simple, yet beautiful English.  Another liked the American Revised Version best because it is more literal and comes nearer the original Hebrew and Greek.  Still another liked Moffatt’s translation best because of its up-to-date vocabulary.  The fourth minister was silent!  When asked to express his opinion, he replied, ‘ I like my Mother’s translationbest.’ The other three expressed surprise. They didn’t know his mother had translated the Bible.  ‘Yes, she did,’ he replied.  ‘She translated it into life, and it was the most clear and convincing translation I ever saw!’”

 There is a woman in the Bible…we don’t know her name or what she looked like or her personality.  We learn of her character and we know she “was her own person”.  She took full responsible for herself and her family. She was not a victim in life making excuses.  While reading Proverbs 31: 10-31 I noted her some of her multiple characteristics. 

This is the mom we all want to be to our children and grandchildren.   

Let’s take a look at this unnamed godly woman whose actions

were extraordinary and pleasing to the LORD.

 This godly woman is PURE. “Who can find a virtuous woman of moral excellence and purity of spirit that radiates from her life, as she obeys God’s Word?   For her price is above rubies.” Vs. 10  

 She is TRUSTWORTHY and “the heart of her husband can safely trust in her, so that he lacks nothing of value.” Vs. 11 Can your husband have full confidence you in all areas of your life?

 She is COMMITTED and “will do him good and not evil all the days of her life!” Vs.12

 She is DILIGENT andRESOURCEFUL and this is demonstrated in vss. 13-16 where she “selects wool and flax and eagerly works willingly with her hands…she gets up while it is still dark (!) and provides food for her family and servant girls…and then, she considers a field and buys it (!) and then,…with the fruit of her hands (her earnings) she plants a vineyard”. (Is sheINDUSTRIOUS, or what?!!)   

She is BOLDLY DETERMINED and girds herself with strength and makes her arms strong for her tasks. She is physically fit! How do you view exercise?  She sets about her work vigorously (goal- oriented!).   She sees that her trading is profitable (good business sense) and her lamp does not go out at night, but her “wonder woman” hand holds the distaff and she grasps the spindle with her fingers!! Vs. 17-19

 She is COMPASSIONATE and opens her arms to poor and needy.  Vs.20

 She isWISE and unafraid of the snow for her household. Why, you ask?  Because she prepares ahead of time and makes fine scarlet and purple linen for ALL of her household! She is CREATIVE.  Strength, dignity and honor are her clothing… 

 She has a SENSE OF HUMOR because she can “laugh at the days to come”.  She speaks with wisdom (ability to see life from God’s perspective, not our own!  She understood God-control and the blessing of surrendering to Him her choices and her faithful instruction is spoken in kindness. Vs. 21-27

 She is HONORED and her children call her blessed. She respects her husband and he praises her by saying, “Many women do NOBLE things, but you surpass them all!” 

 “Charm is deceptive and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised. 

 Give her the fruit of her hands and let her own works praise her in the gates.” Vs. 28-31

Are you this godly woman?

 Are you being praised at the gates?

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~Jackie Johnson - I am a former tribal missionary to the Kuna Indians on the Colombian border in Central America.  Fluent in several languages, my husband and I currently pastor a Spanish-speaking church in Southern California.  My passion is discipling and equipping dedicated young women for life, marriage, motherhood, and beyond. I am the mother of two daughters and the grandmother of three Princesses and four young Knights. 

Posted on May 13, 2019 and filed under motherhood, Character and Virtue.