Even in Rural Areas

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I had a meeting with Lara Olson, an advocate for youth in crisis,  about how we as the church can help impact our at-risk youth in our county. She said that one of the things we must do is get STD awareness out to the public because what we don’t know is harming us. That caused me to begin reading and learning.

Here are some facts:
Chlamydia is on the rise in Merced County and shows very few symptoms, pain in the eye, abdomen, or pelvis. If left untreated it can cause infertility.

Syphilis is also on the rise. Symptoms include, sores or legions, skin rash, headaches, fatigue, patchy hair loss (alopecia). If left untreated it can affect the organs.

These are two serious diseases that are plaguing our county. If you think you may have one or more of these symptoms please do not hesitate and go and seek medical attention.

Do I think the church should be involved in these conversations? Yes. We, the leaders in the church, teach about the sin of premarital sex but we often fail to teach on the why. God isn’t a fun spoiler. He is merely trying to save us a lot of heartache over decisions that have consequences that we can’t take back. He is protecting our hearts, our minds, our physical beings from the things that could pollute us and change forever the course of our lives. That word forever is no exaggeration. So while these are delicate and difficult discussions, let’s be honest, who really wants to talk about this, they are necessary conversations. We can’t pretend that it isn’t happening or that it doesn’t affect us all in some way. We must be wise and we must be informed if we are going to help others navigate what can sometimes be difficult heart-wrenching decisions. We can’t be afraid to speak up and we certainly can’t be afraid to tackle the tough stuff.

I choose to lead with eyes wide open and ears listening to the pulse of humanity and to what God is saying and sometimes that means I have to get uncomfortable as we bring to light what is trying to destroy us in the dark.

What is happening in your community that is needing your attention? Are you ready to get uncomfortable in order that it could help someone?

Published in: on September 18, 2017 at 2:27 pm  Leave a Comment  

Divorce Is Not a Simple Never

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I hear Malachi 2:16 quoted often. It’s the verse generally quoted out of context that says God hates divorce. God also doesn’t like, manipulation, lying, violence, gossip, and a whole host of other things but when we’re counseling couples this is the go-to scripture. Except when it’s not. I’ve been in ministry for over 15 years and just when I think I’ve heard it all, something new pops up. The question then becomes do I counsel and meet the status quo of the church or do I counsel in love?

In the case of the minor infidelity, I recognize it sounds like sarcasm but it isn’t because honestly infidelity is minor compared to what I hear, you can put Humpty Dumpty back together again when he has a crack.

In the case of the porn addiction you can transfer the fear of intimacy and get a marriage back on track but these are minor compared to the shattering realities of some marriages.

What do I tell the mother who has just found out her husband is molesting his child? Do I tell her God hates divorce?

What do I tell the wife who comes in and shows me her burn marks and bruises of abuse? “Go back home Daughter of the Most High King, for you see, your Father hates divorce.”

What do I tell the woman who has been told that her husband is going to be staying at their house sometimes, and his girlfriends house sometimes?

What do I tell the woman whose husband was having sex with her daughter and selling the video tapes to his friends for extra money?

What about the woman who has lost her home because her of her husband’s _____________ problem? Fill in the blank, I’ve heard them all, drug, gambling, spending, loaning.

Why am I only speaking about women and not men? Trust me, I know men have been wronged often more deeply than these examples if you can believe it. I get it but you see, I minister to women. I am surrounded by women. So I hear stories from women.

So instead of telling them that God hates divorce, instead sometimes I say, “Get to a safe place where you can think about what your next move is.” No where, not one place, in the bible does it say we must stay in an abusive situation, nor does it say God tolerates abuse. In fact, it talks of love, of bearing one another up. We must be wise, but we aren’t to be heartless and we certainly should never line up with sin.

The dogmatic response of never can’t stand in the face of truth. Life is complicated and sometimes nightmares and horror stories become real life. When I hear Never Divorce I wonder what you would tell your daughter? Well she’s God’s child and she wasn’t created for some of the things she has gone through.

 

 

 

Published in: on September 14, 2017 at 5:38 pm  Leave a Comment  

But She’s The Bride

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I just read another social media rant about what is wrong with the church. As a follower of Christ it makes me sad. Is she perfect this church of ours? No, she is far from perfect. However she is my neighbor, she is my sister, my brother, she is ME. So when you talk about her, when you disparage her, you are talking about me, you are talking about my family, and maybe you are talking about yourself.

Here is what I know for sure. She is the vehicle in which Christ chose to move his message forward. He could have picked any number of things, he is God and God doesn’t lack resources. So for better or worse, in her glorious imperfection she is here to stay. She is the only thing that will last when all is said and done. She is the one that the Lord said the gates of hell shall not prevail against, and most importantly she is the one for whom he returns to take home with him.

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You see, finding fault with her is a cheap shot. It’s too easy. She’s human and therefore fallible but finding the solution and putting your hand to the plow is the work. The harvest of beauty is there and plentiful. Are you willing to get messy? Are you willing to be a laborer or will you continue to be a critic? A critic is someone who determines the value of something and usually decides it is not good. Only that doesn’t work for the church. Because if we are saying she isn’t good then what we are saying is God chose the wrong way in which to express himself.  He made a mistake and I don’t think he did. It’s especially harmful coming from ministry leaders. They are in the wrong profession and confession when they are critical of the very thing they profess to give their life for. Let’s love her through the process of becoming. Let’s come up with solutions to the problems we see. Let’s love her to wholeness.

Packing For The Journey Ahead

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This is a picture of bags packed for a recent trip we took. Notice we humans packed quite a bit into these two bags but Lulu the Wonder Dog demonstrated a valuable lesson.  She only packed what was necessary for the journey ahead. She packed her favorite chew toy. That toy goes everywhere with her. She lays it down next to her food bowl while she eats, she takes it outside with her, she takes it to bed with her. That one thing was all that she needed.

Think about this for a minute. ONE THING! 

Matthew 6: 25“Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? 26Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? 27And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?g 28And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, 29yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 30But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?31Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’32For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. 33But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. 34“Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.

Such is life. We carry around all these bags stuffed with memories, life patterns, and thought processes. Some are to be stored away for safe keeping. Things like lessons learned, rich fulfilling friendships, family adventures. Yet, other memories, life patterns, and thought processes are used to torment our lives and cause anxiety, worry, and fear but we’re afraid to leave them behind because we might need them on the journey.

Lulu showed us this day that you can’t leave everything behind, but taking everything with you becomes too heavy. She could only take what she could reasonably carry to keep up on the journey.

You see, she was going on a journey with her humans. She didn’t have to worry about food because that was their job. She didn’t have to worry about where she would lay her head to sleep because that was their job. She didn’t even have to worry about where she was going, it was an adventure! She was happy to be led. All she needed was her chew toy. Everything else would take care of itself. She had confidence in that. She was living by what she understood. Not everything could go with her and not everything was necessary. She opted to trust her guides.

So where are you going and what are you taking with you? Burdens? Obstacles? Fear? Anxiety? A map? Vision? A Word? A prayer? Anticipation? Are you stuffing bags just in case life fails you? Are you packing just in case God doesn’t come through? Are you packing because you have become a hoarder of insignificant things but maybe lack has made you afraid to get rid of anything? Are you stuffing things in your bags that were necessary a long time ago but that won’t serve you today?

Remember what Lulu is teaching us today:

You can’t leave everything  behind and taking everything with you is too heavy for your journey. Pack well my friends! 

 

Published in: on August 21, 2017 at 7:28 am  Leave a Comment  

At What Cost?

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Matthew 6:1-4 “Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven.

“Thus, when you give to the needy, sound no trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be praised by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

The Senior Pastor, who happens to be my husband, and I have a weekly breakfast meeting. This morning we were at our usual place, Eddie’s Famous Cafe. We were just finishing our breakfast when a man in a shirt and tie walked in with a homeless man. Nothing to see normally but he came in videotaping with his phone. The homeless man kicked the bathroom door startling all of the patrons and it was relatively packed. When  he couldn’t open the men’s room, perhaps occupied, he went to the ladies room. My husband quickly gave me his hand and walked me to the cash register so that we could pay and leave.

The premise? Apparently the guy videos picking up homeless people and taking them to restaurants and asking the owners to feed homeless on video to post on YouTube. Let me be clear. I don’t have an issue with that per se. What I have an issue with is that it’s all on public video.

The homeless man comes out of the bathroom, orders his food, mind you no one has volunteered to pay, and yes, I’m watching as my husband pays, the homeless man proceeds to pick up the silverware set on the table and begins dropping it on the table, causing it to make loud clanking noises. Other patrons are now looking uncomfortable. The man in the shirt and tie, comes to us and loudly proclaims, “Did you hear about what I am doing? I am bringing attention to the homeless and I bring them to restaurants and ask the owners to buy them a meal. Will you buy him a meal?” My husband answers, “Yes, I will buy him a meal.” The man in the shirt and tie says, “Great and I need to film this for my YouTube channel. My husband says, “No, thank you.” The man proceeds to attempt to pressure my husband saying this is about posting it on YouTube. My husband declines once more. The man turns to me and proceeds to give me the speech. I decline. He asks if we understand what he is doing. Not being one to wonder I say, “But what exactly are you doing? You go and get homeless people and bring them to restaurants but what exactly are YOU doing for the owners and for the homeless?” He goes on about how many viewers he has. Then he says if we won’t be videoed then can we take a picture with our fist up in the air and declare our help for the homeless. We decline again. My husband thanks him and we went on our way.

At what point does this cross the line? At what point does the whole of the group, the patrons out to eat a meal, the owners deciding when and whom they will help, and this gentleman’s right to video for YouTube, stay within the boundaries of acceptable community? My heart went out to the homeless man. To me, the better approach would be asking politely without a scene. It would seem more sensible.

And yes! I totally get that this post does the exact thing I am complaining about. So what is social etiquette in today’s world? What is our responsibility, I’m not talking about to the homeless man, obviously you feed someone who is hungry, I mean our responsibility to the community?

Just something to think about.

Published in: on August 7, 2017 at 7:16 am  Leave a Comment  

Cherished

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My husband’s middle name is I-Just-Want-To-Stay-Home. I am married to Paul Douglas I-Just-Want-To-Stay-Home Young. Try saying that three times fast. I am the complete opposite. If I have a day off I want to do something with it that isn’t domestic. However we have a pretty cool house and lately we’ve been staying home and swimming and reading. On the eve of my day off I went to bed with laundry on my mind and boredom in my heart.

This morning I woke up and was reading quietly when he woke up. He stretched out and smiled, yes believe it or not, there are people who smile in the morning, I know!  Shocking to me too! I never knew that people like this existed.

He said, “is there anything at the movies? NOT HERE.”
Me: Where? Monterey?
He: What the high there today?
Me: 62
He: Too Cool. Fresno or Turlock.
Me: (reads movies)
He: So do they even make movies for people like us who don’t have kids? I have no interest in any of those.  I don’t want to stay home today. Let’s go!
I was getting dressed ASAP. I don’t care where we go. We just get to go somewhere. I know, I know, I sound  the way I hear Lulu The Wonder Dog’s voice in my head.

Paul Douglas I-Just-Want-To-Stay-Home Young knows how to hold my heart with care and he knows how to make me smile! It’s not always his favorite thing to do but he cherishes me and he spent the entire day making me happy. He took me on an adventure to see beautiful things and reminded me why I still say yes to us.

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When you’re team focused and not self-focused you do things you wouldn’t necessarily do for yourself. What have you done for someone else lately?

Now to tackle the laundry tomorrow and iron his shirts. Yes, doing things for one another isn’t always glamorous but it keeps us grounded and together.

 

Published in: on July 13, 2017 at 2:54 pm  Leave a Comment  

The Undisciplined Pursuit of More

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We’ve heard the term, we point fingers at those who live this lifestyle but are we checking ourselves to see if this is where we are failing as well? I recently found myself with too many projects once again and realized I had stepped out of a winner focused mentality back to a loser spray mindset. So I stopped booking myself so far in advance.

With six weeks left to go before my first grandchild is born, I have to clear my plate of a few things. I need to focus on getting things together so that I can make the time I will need in this coming season. It’s the usual places where failure finds me. The same things I put off again and again, they are patterns that manifest out of undisciplined pursuits.

So what happens to get me off track? Well, I have a goal and a purpose and then someone asks me to help with their goal and purpose and if it’s worthwhile I help and pretty soon I am so busy that I have lost sight of the path I was heading on.

SQUIRREL!

Even though I know better, I still fall into traps that if I had just lifted my eyes for a minute I would have seen. It’s my fault, for forgetting who I am. Again. It happens. It happened to Paul, it happened Moses, it happened to Elijah. I am no better or worse. I just AM.

So what is it that you are in pursuit of and why do you sometimes find yourself off track? Or rather why do I? There are so many things that pull at my time. Staying focused on the things we are in pursuit of is essential. In the book Essentialism by Greg McKeown, he asks the question:

“What do I want to go big on?” 

That is the question that keeps us focused on the right thing. Often we have a few things we want to go big on. We want to go big on another home, we want to go big on a Walmart shopping spree, we want to go big on another project, and we want to to go big on that promotion, we want our kids to go big, we want our spouses to go big. Well truth is we can’t focus on all of that and stay true to ourselves so what is the ONE THING that we want to go big on? I get stuck there sometimes. Multitasking is often a waste of my time. There I said it.

This week, focus on determining what that ONE THING is. Then write down how to make it happen. Let me help you. It isn’t always QUITTING your job. It isn’t always RUNNING to the next distraction. The job may be the source to allow the pursuit. The place may be the open door to the pursuit once distractions leave. Even in opposition there are lessons to be learned. Ask yourself why you walked away or why you want to? Generally, there are selfish reasons that have nothing that can be gained, although this sometimes is hard to swallow once you’ve convinced yourself. The problem may be the distractions themselves that have you in and out of pursuit. It’s easier to blame the distraction rather than ourselves.

My husband and I have a weekly ministry meetings. We either order food in or go out for lunch and we sit and strategize together about our ministry ONE THING. We are intentional about it. If we don’t meet for a week or two our focus becomes one-sided and we have to come back to focus.

It leaves that quickly.

What have you let go of that has caused you to doubt where you are? For you, it might be a weekly focus calendar, or your team meeting, or your family meeting. Here is what IT IS NOT because in these places the ONE THING becomes the OUR THING and these aren’t places to hash out differences, although I fail here too if I’m honest :

  • It’s not your date night.
  • It’s not your family time.
  • It’s not your sabbath rest.

Distractions don’t allow time for the stillness that is required for my/your focus. I opted to take back my peace and not allow the boisterous voices to question my identity no matter how loud and negatively persistent they may be. Just because they are loud and persistent doesn’t mean they are true. The enemy roars like a lion but the roar, if heeded, only causes the prey, us, to run in the wrong direction.

Stop running friends! Stop running towards that wrong thing and stand in the place the Lord has put you in, not looking around in criticism but with eyes of an eagle that can make it better than it is. The Lord is ready to help you. Let’s get focused on the ONE THING.

 

 

Published in: on July 7, 2017 at 3:06 pm  Leave a Comment  

When You’re Tired

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It’s been a hectic six months. Reconciling the death of my father has been tougher than I thought. Things that I thought I had let go years ago came back up to be dealt with.

Merging three churches together was a lot of work with the promise of a lighter load that hasn’t happened yet but instead has increased.

My first grandson arrived on the scene and he is so amazing to me. I want to do better with him than I did with my own children. By that I mean, I want to slow down and not be so busy because I know my role is different than his parents. I realized I was putting undo pressure on myself which is my typical mode of operation. Go back to the first paragraph of reconciling issues.

My stepdad who has always been healthy and invincible wakes up one day with chest pain and ends up having a triple bypass. This brought new challenges as I realized things for my parents are changing and this was quite a bit of stress for my mom. My strong mom who has always been our leader suddenly looked at us with fear in her eyes. Somehow it affected me in way that I am still processing. It was unsettling and I realized I am stepping up in places that I hadn’t considered stepping up in.

As this parental crisis was happening, my Uncle Fred passed away and although he had been ill, I just happen to think our patriarchs are going to pull through. We’re a stubborn breed.

My Godmother turned 90, sharp as a tack mentally, with a body that is failing her and there isn’t much we seem to be able to do to stop this process.

Lulu the Wonder Dog develops a tumor and off to the vet we go on the same day I’m heading out to a conference. This seemed to be the straw that left me feeling, I don’t even know how to describe it other than profoundly tired.

I left the vet’s office and cried. I cried for a whole bunch of reasons but sometimes the strong one, the one everyone expects to be unflappable needs to just be vulnerable for a minute. Life can be tricky sometimes and as weird as this reads, I was catching a glimpse of a whole lot of things I had to deal with personally within myself.

As great as God is, he speaks strength to my soul as I ask him for direction.

He spoke in a podcast: If you’re a leader whose not willing to do the tiring thing what in the world are you doing? Leadership is tiring. Buck up, it’s the nature of the job. It’s leading people. It’s going first, you’re the first one through the door, you’re the one finding the the problems so that your team can help you find the solution and breaking barriers. So yes that is exhausting because the promise isn’t easy and following the crowd is not creating new ways. If it were easy to follow and nothing needed to change we’d still be leeching people to cure disease. Leadership is a multiplying effect and so yes it’s tiring.

He spoke through the word:“We put our hope in the Lord; he is our protector and our help. We are glad because of him; we trust in his holy name. May your constant love be with us, Lord, as we put our hope in you.”
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He spoke through friends who called and said that the Lord was asking them to pray for me. That’s always great and always appreciated deeply. Isn’t it wonderful when people look up and see you might need some help? As a pastor most people expect you to have it all together, and when you don’t it’s because you’ve committed some grave sin or you don’t have enough faith, only life happens even to us in ministry as well. I step out from time to time to work on myself and so as not in infect others and in those seasons the criticism comes from those who haven’t bothered to ask what is going on, I’m just supposed to be in my place. No excuses they are partly right.

God spoke through the picture I posted above. I want you to know that he brings hope to the hopeless and I am confident  proof of that.

Here is a key to His great love:  I first had to admit I didn’t have it all together, I had to ask for help, and then I had to deal with my stuff.

So if you’re feeling desperate or overwhelmed there is a Heavenly Father who wants to help. All you have to do is get humble enough to ask for help and stay still enough to listen. Listen even when you want to run. Listen even if don’t like what you hear. Just listen. Then get up and move toward the healing, comfort, strength, love, encouragement, and peace that is being offered.  He’s right there for you.  Blessings!

 

Published in: on June 28, 2017 at 8:51 am  Comments (2)  

On Loyalty

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As the world awaits here are my thoughts.

Loyalty CAN NOT be demanded.

Tyrants demand it.

Insecure managers demand it.

Let me type that again.

Tyrants and Insecure managers demand it.

What demanding an oath of loyalty does is expose the hand of a manager, notice I was careful not to say leader, who has to avoid negative feedback at all costs to soothe their EGO (Edging God Out).

There is no need to pledge allegiance as if you were pledging to a god. A manager who is demanding loyalty does so because they can’t listen to negative feedback or can’t lead without unwavering loyalty because of insecurity. They make a terrible boss and that person is not a leader at all.

You will be loyal out of a heart that believes in the mission. A covenant of mission never demands an oath to a person. An oath to a person is always bondage. Christians have dominion over the earth not over people.

Walk away from anyone who demands an oath of  loyalty to them or one who would disguise the verbiage in the word covenant. Demanding loyalty to a person is a dangerous precedent of the abuse of power to come.

I am not loyal to Doug Young because he demands it. I am loyal to Doug Young because I love him and I believe in our marriage. My loyalty can’t be made by force and doesn’t negate his leadership when I disagree. My covenant of marriage was to the mission of our marriage under God.

In the military leaders are taught not to demand personal loyalty and they teach subordinates to avoid personal loyalty at all costs. The reasoning is that eventually the tyrant will rise up and cause you to do things you never thought you’d do out of loyalty or be cast out of the ranks. It’s too high a price.

God never demands loyalty and these oaths and covenants that are demanded by men are not of God in any way shape or form. God is looking for a people with love and a heart for Him and service in the freedom of Free Will. This is not blind ambition or loyalty. This is eyes wide open, mission-focused, unity because we want to not because we must. We give our loyalty out of love not fear.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Those Accountable Friends

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Proverbs 27:5 An open rebuke is better than hidden love!

Wounds from a sincere friend are better than many kisses from an enemy.

 

A friend of mine asked if I had anyone who holds me accountable. I answered that in fact I do. She said that she did as well and that the response of those who kept her accountable helped keep her in check when she got out of line in her own life.

It’s that way with me. When  I get out of line or am thinking about issues with the wrong frame of mind I have people in my life who hold me accountable. It happened recently when someone who I have given permission to speak into my life called me out on an issue in front of a group of friends. If I am honest, it stung but here’s the thing, if I am open to growth I am open to receive correction, so I prayed about it and examined myself. I then examined why I do it and I needed to take a step back and assess my intention. When we came back together I apologized to the group and thanked my friend for telling me.

Galatians 2:14 When I saw that they were not walking in line with the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas in front of them all, “If you, who are a Jew, live like a Gentile and not like a Jew, how can you compel the Gentiles to live like Jews? 

I hate generalities and as I type I can feel you asking me, WHAT WAS IT THAT YOU WERE DOING?, so here was the gist:

My friend asked if I had heard the story of the many starfish who were stranded on the shore. A man was seen throwing the starfish back into the water. The man who witnessed asked if this endeavor was going to make a difference given the number of starfish left to go and the man who was throwing starfish into the water said, “It makes a difference to that one.” My friend proceeded to tell me that she thinks of me when she hears that story because I am a rescuer. I get starfish back into the water and it’s admirable but once back in the water, I go put my attention on another stranded starfish. The starfish who is now settled, gets little  attention from me and that I needed to decide if I was strictly a counselor or a friend, both very different. In the moment it felt as if she were saying I ditch my friends for the next rescue but what she was asking was, did I notice I did this and was it intentional? I hadn’t noticed I did this and it was in no way intentional but I can see how it can hurt someone and it wasn’t my heart.

Dave Ramsey in his Financial Peace University said if the person you choose to hold you accountable can’t hurt your feelings sometimes, then you have the wrong person. We protest this thought process because we live in a generation where feelings matter more than fact but what if you are hurting someone unintentionally and because you won’t receive it you continue to live an area of your life in error?

Proverbs 28:33 He who rebukes a man will afterward find more favor Than he who flatters with the tongue.

So who holds you accountable? Are they allowed to hurt your feelings? If not, get someone who can. Whatever you do, don’t correct someone’s bad behavior if they haven’t given you permission to do so because you will not be received and will create an offense.

Published in: on May 19, 2017 at 2:52 pm  Comments (1)