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Judy Lair is a licensed counselor and owner of Counselorplace Christian Counseling. She is the author of “From the Other Side of the Couch: A Biblical Counselor’s Guide to Relational Living.” Judy’s personal struggles with fear led her through the valley of hurt and sorrow. She now embraces a joy-filled life grounded in God’s truth and freedom in Christ. Judy uses her professional counseling expertise to tell stories that help people find healing and freedom. Her vulnerable, godly approach helps people find courage to move from Fear to Freedom. For more information or speaking requests, email JudyLair@counselorplace.com or sign up for blog posts at http://judylair.blogspot.com

 “Freedom is attainable. Trust me, I’ve been on the anxiety side, gone through the Valley of the Shadow of Death, and now I’m praising God, eating at the banqueting table, and helping others make the same journey. Whether you find yourself stuck in anxiety, disappointment, grief, or confusion, your heart can be set free.” Judy Lair, “From the Other Side of the Couch.”

Monday, October 26, 2015

Listening to a Different Drummer

The man who eats everything must not look down on him who does not, and the man who does not eat everything must not condemn the man who does, for God has accepted him. Who are you to judge someone else’s servant? To his own master he stands or falls. And he will stand, for the Lord is able to make him stand. Romans 14:2-4 NIV.

“Who are you to judge someone else’s servant?” Paul used very strong language to remind us to keep our eyes on our own papers! There’s a difference between sharing your own testimony and experience with someone and demanding they follow your example or a specified set of actions in order to be seen as a “good Christian.” People and institutions that demand total adherence to one set of beliefs while judging folks who don’t adhere to them are exactly the people Paul was writing against in Romans 14.

I highly appreciate mentoring and general principles for folks to follow as they learn how to have a relationship with God. But the goal is for each person to develop an individual relationship with God where they receive direct guidance. Imagine what the folks in Ur thought when Abraham declared God had called him to start walking to an unknown place?

Abram:  “God’s called me to take all my family and leave dad, mom, my home and my country to go to a new place.”
Neighbor:  “Where are you going?”
Abram:         “I don’t know.”
Neighbor:  “How long will it take?”
Abram:  “I don’t know.”
Neighbor:  “How will you take care of everyone?”
Abram:  “I don’t know. I guess God will provide.”
Neighbor:  “Doesn’t sound like God to me. I think you’re hearing things! Seems really crazy to me to set out on a journey without knowing anything. Stay here, talk to the elders first, take some spiritual discipline classes, and pray about it as you’re teaching Torah classes. Give it a year or two so you can mature and listen to wise counsel. That’s the way we do things here.”

What about crazy old Noah who built an ark when there had been no rain for who knows how long? John the Baptist lived a very odd lifestyle compared to the religious establishment and regular people. Joseph had dreams, Deborah was a judge, Peter left his family fishing business to follow Jesus around the country. Every one of these folks knew they were God’s servants and they heard directly from him for their lives.

God speaks through his Word and other people, but our goal is to separate the wheat from the chaff and focus on what God has directly spoken to our own soul. I may be called to live my life in a very different manner than you. Please ask me what I’m hearing from God rather than condemning me for the differences. Follow God’s voice in your life—even if those around you don’t hear the same word for themselves.

If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away.
Henry David Thoreau

Monday, October 12, 2015

Viewing Failure

Never let failure get to your heart. 

So I’m all geared up to spend my afternoon cooking and baking for the week.  I’ve recently decided to follow the Trim Healthy Mama eating plan (low glycemic). A requirement for success is planning and preparation. I’ve chosen new recipes, went to the grocery store to buy new ingredients, and now I’m standing in my kitchen mixing, cooking, and baking.

Excitedly I put ingredients into my NutriBullet for a protein shake (I am in love with this easy to use, easy to clean appliance). As the blades are whirring around, chocolate liquid oozes out of the glass. Humm, probably too much of this new stuff called Glucomannan which thickens liquid. I grab another glass and pour half the shake in it, then clean up the mess. Tastes good but really thick.

Okay, I feel really iffy about this next recipe for an egg custard. It looks simple enough, but I’ve not eaten many custards so I don’t really know what to expect. Egg whites, almond milk, vanilla, etc. all blended together and into the oven. An hour later I take it out and there’s a puffed up brown film that completely sinks 10 seconds after removal. Underneath it’s still as watery as when I put it in. Epic failure!

Let’s try a pasta dish. I should be able to get that right! Following a Spaghetti Pie recipe, I put the Dreamfields pasta (doesn’t raise blood sugar) on to boil. I’m making great progress proofreading my upcoming book on Generalized Anxiety Disorder when I suddenly realize I didn’t set a timer! Yup, overcooked pasta but since it’s the only box I have, I’m just going to use it and hope for the best.

Lastly I decide to make healthy muffins, yum! Oven’s preheated, should only take me 5 minutes to mix up the ingredients. Oatmeal flour, Truvia, yogurt, eggs, baking soda and baking powder…wait! I only have baking soda, what am I going to do now? My options are 1) stop what I’m doing and try it another day; 2) get in my car and run up the street to the market; or 3) ask neighbors. I’ve lived in this apartment for six months and although I’ve nodded to several neighbors, I’ve really not talked to anyone. But this seems to be a good opportunity so I take a small bowl and start knocking on doors. Saturday afternoon, surely someone should be home somewhere. Eight doors later, a woman finally answers.

She brings out a box of baking powder and I tell her, “No, sorry, I need the other one, baking soda.” She kindly gives me some baking soda and as I climb the stairs to my door I realize I messed up. I actually did need the baking powder! No way was I going back to the nice lady. Grabbing my keys, I got into my car and drove to the market with my oven still on and the rest of the ingredients sitting on the counter.

Looking at my actions today, I failed in a lot of ways. What’s most important is how I process each event. Viewing failure as a character issue wounds our heart. We then use negative self-talk to condemn and demean ourselves. When others point out it’s merely a learning opportunity, we brush them aside, holding ourselves to a perfectionist standard. I believe the Bible tells me to love myself the way God loves me. That means offering myself grace, mercy, and compassion. Not everything is a character issue and when it is, God is the one who convicts my heart.

When I view my actions today through grace-filled eyes, I’m excited about what I’ve learned. No more custard, remember to time the pasta, and now I have another neighbor to wave to in the complex. Albert Einstein said, “The only source of knowledge is experience.” I believe my Heavenly Father encourages me to try new experiences as I learn who he made me to be and live out the plans he has for my life. It’s imperative we critique our definition of failure, and not let it compromise our heart.

By the way, the muffins turned out scrumptious!

Photo used by permission thru Creative Commons by tobyelwin.com