Category Archives: Flexibility

God Is Still on The Throne!

RiversOfBabylon“By the rivers of Babylon, there we sat down, yea, we wept, when we remembered Zion” (Psalm 137:1).

Not everything in life goes according to plan – according to our plan at least. There are circumstances we find ourselves in that we never dreamed possible. 

Daniel, his three friends, and many others like them were cruelly taken from their home by the Babylonians (Daniel 1:1-4). They had done nothing to deserve this personally. These terrible circumstances were the direct result of sin and disobedience in the lives of their present and preceding kings in the nation of Israel.

As the king went so went the nation. When the king followed God’s ways and sought Him with his whole heart – these were times of revival and blessing. But when the king was given to idolatry and sin – the nation suffered. Now the Babylonian captivity was the ultimate consequence and judgment for their disobedience, and tragically there were many innocent people who loved God that were taken captive into Babylon.

What do you do when your adverse circumstances are the result of someone else’s wrong choices? How do you respond if you’re the victim of a DUI or a spouse that has been left for someone else?

Certainly there is time for grieving and reflection; but ultimately God is still in control. This is just a new path He has given you to walk and He has promised to walk it with you “…for He hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee” (Hebrews 13:5). Whatever your circumstances, He has promised to guide you and provide for you.

These are the truths that you need to keep constantly before you because the enemy will fill your mind with his lies of hopelessness and discouragement. He will present you with a multitude of “What ifs.” Don’t go there! 

Focus your mind and heart on the Truth of God’s Word – spend time especially reading the book of Psalms. Dedicate yourself afresh to fulfilling God’s will for your life whatever path that journey might take. God is still on the throne!

Morris Hull
Home Life Ministries

Circumstances Are The True Test of Character

“Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content” (Philippians 4:11).

God is constantly working in our lives to build in us the character of Jesus Christ (Romans 8:28-29). That’s His purpose for each one of us; and He will use the changing circumstances of life to accomplish that task. Circumstances are the true test of Christian character. God uses the tough times to reveal our rough edges.

Circumstances have a way of bringing out our anger, selfishness, impatience and lack of forgiveness. It’s not that circumstances make us this way. Sometimes we have a victim mentality that believes that we are the way we are because of our circumstances. But circumstances do not make us what we are; they merely reveal the kind of person that we are already. The anger, selfishness, impatience and unforgiving spirit are what we are really like on the inside and serve to highlight how much we are in need of God’s mercy and grace so that He can change us to be more like Christ

Circumstances are unpredictable – we don’t know what a day holds – but our response to those circumstances is a deliberate act of the will. We may not be able to control our circumstances, but our circumstances do not have to control us. We do not have to respond in anger toward those who show anger toward us – “A soft answer turneth away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger” (Proverbs 15:1). We do not have to be bitter toward those who wrong and hurt us – we can respond with the kindness and forgiveness of Christ (Ephesians 4:32).

Recognize that God is at work in your life today. He will present you with a variety of circumstances and challenges to help you grow and learn the character of Christ. We would never learn how to forgive if we had never been hurt. We would never learn meekness if our rights were never challenged.

Ask the Lord today for His enabling grace to help you learn the character of Christ – “Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need” (Hebrews 4:16).

Morris Hull
Home Life Ministries

Expectations destroy relationships!

“When a man’s ways please the LORD, he maketh even his enemies to be at peace with him” (Proverbs 16:7).

Expectations destroy relationships!

Everybody has unrealistic expectations for marriage because there are actually six people at the altar when the marriage takes place.

First of all there’s the girl she thinks she is; the girl he thinks she is; and the girl she really is. Then there’s the man he thinks he is; the man she thinks he is; and the man he really is. Six different people standing at the marriage altar.

Shortly after the wedding takes place, four of those people disappear and two are left in clear, sharp focus. When we settle into the reality of married life and discover what the person we married is really like, we tend to react because they have not lived up to our expectations. We become disappointed and even angry and bitter thinking we’ve been cheated or deceived.

We need to accept each other’s differences and realise that God is using those differences to build in us the character of His Son, Jesus Christ. Those differences give us the opportunity to be more understanding, more sensitive and more forgiving. This in turn can produce a oneness of spirit that will bind and knit your hearts together irrespective of any differences you might have.

Give your expectations to the Lord. The less you expect, the less you will be disappointed. The wife who became angry when her husband regularly returned home late from work, finally gave her expectations to the Lord. She was delighted when he arrived home an hour late – because she wasn’t expecting him at all!

Have you placed expectations on your spouse and others? Die to those expectations! Give them to the Lord. Our expectations of others will only destroy our relationships.

When we have learned the valuable character lessons God is teaching us through the differences of others, it’s amazing how He also changes the other person so that “when a man’s ways please the LORD, he maketh even his enemies to be at peace with him” (Proverbs 16:7).

Personal Evaluation – How flexible are you?

  • When plans are changed, do you get discouraged, or do you immediately look for reasons why the new plans are better?
  • Do you quickly adjust to a change of direction, or does it require time for you to mentally or emotionally adjust?
  • When you learn that you must move, does it cause anxiety in you, or do you rejoice in it as a further reminder that you are a stranger and a pilgrim?
  • Do your parents or employers have to explain instructions twice, or do you understand what they mean the first time?
  • When God calls you to a ministry or work, do you resist and make yourself busy with other activities?
  • When others suggest a better way to do something, do you try it or do you keep doing it the way you had been doing it?
  • Do you misuse flexibility by having no daily plans or life goals?
  • Is your life so encumbered with possessions and debt that it would be impractical or impossible to exercise flexibility at the leading of the Lord?
  • Are the thoughts of your heart in harmony with the will of God so that changes are easy transitions?

– taken from The Power for True Success – How to Build Character in Your Life

The Monkey’s Clenched Fist

In North Africa the natives have a very easy way to capture monkeys. A gourd, with a hole just sufficiently large so that a monkey can thrust his hand into it, is filled with nuts and fastened firmly to a branch of a tree at sunset. During the night a monkey will discover the scent of food, and its source, and will put his hand into the gourd and grasp a handful of nuts. But the hole is too small for the monkey to withdraw his clenched fist, and he has not sense enough to let go of his bounty so that he may escape. Thus he pulls and pulls without success, and when morning comes he is quickly and easily taken.

Boy Still Standing on The Inside

A mother repeatedly told her little boy to sit down. The boy continued to stand, disobeying his mother. Finally, the mother went to him and forced him down in a chair. The boy said, “I may be sitting down on the outside, but on the inside I’m still standing up!”

Encyclopaedia of 7,700 Illustrations

Adapting One’s Self to Circumstances

Very few men and women can adapt themselves to all circumstances. They may adapt themselves to some circumstances, but not to all. Lazy, shiftless people have the poorest faculty to do this; enterprising, successful men and women can do it readily, for it is one of the conditions for success. They are obliged to make the best of things, bitter though the experience may be, and so they must accept the situation day by day. To sit down and lament and lose heart under any circumstances is to give up the race of life.

There lies before me a Maine woman’s description of her pioneer life in the valley of the Penobscot. She says:-

“Trees were big ones in those days, and husband could not pile them alone, and we had no neighbours with whom we could exchange works, so he used to help me in the morning about the house, and then we went out into the clearing. Husband would get one end of a log well up on the pile and then I used to put a handspike under that and hold it until he could pry up the other end. I made all the cloth we had; made a year’s sweetening from maple syrup. I knit mittens, socks, shirts, and drawers, and even made cloth caps and my own bonnet.”

She was happy, with all the privations of her pioneer life, but she might have been otherwise, and she might have made her husband wretched, too; She had a capital opportunity to accomplish both. Many women would have been miserable in the circumstances, for the want of this excellent faculty of adapting themselves to circumstances. She possessed this quality in a high degree, and her humble home in the woods had as much real enjoyment in it as was ever found in a palace, and probably more.

But the mass of young people, and older ones as well, are not living pioneer lives. They dwell were society is settled, its manners and customs fixed. And yet they have as much need of the quality under discussion as pioneers in order that social life may be enjoyed at its best. There is no day when its possession will not result in good. In the most common walks of life as well as in the most select, its use is constantly demanded. For example, a Christian woman was in affluent circumstances. Her husband was able to provide her with all the servants she desired, and with all the comforts and even the elegances of a city home. But unexpectedly and suddenly he lost his property, and his business, too. “I can support the family by keeping boarders,” suggested the lady. Her husband imposed objections to that, as it might impair her health. “I have no doubt that it will do me good,” she replied laughing. “Well, you take a philosophic view of the matter, I must confess,” continued her husband; “You do not seem to be very much troubled with your new experience.” “Why should I be troubled?” responded the wife. “I have no doubt that it will turn out for the best in the end; that is the way things do when we endeavour to make them turn out for the best.” Such a disposition is a fortune to a man or woman; it is really success itself, at least on one line.

There is much disappointment, chagrin, and failure among men for the want of this ability to accept the situation. We see it in the common walks of life, among all classes and conditions of men. A few adapt themselves to circumstances, while the many are out of sorts with their surroundings and accomplish nothing because they cannot have everything to their liking. “It is a great blessing to possess what one wishes,” said one to an ancient philosopher, who replied, “It is a greater blessing still, not to desire what one does not possess.”

John Newton once said, “If two angels were sent down from heaven, one to conduct an empire, and the other to sweep a street, they would feel no inclination to change employments.” That is, the higher and purer the nature, the more readily do men adapt themselves to circumstances and rest satisfied. Angelic natures do it best. So that the human quality in question is not small or mean, but high and noble.

Youth needs it as much as age, yea more; for in youth both male and female are doing things for all time, and even for eternity. The earlier the disposition to be content with the allotments of Providence is established, the better will it be for all the future, here and hereafter. In the home and schoolroom, on the playground and in social life, its beneficial influence will be enjoyed. Addison said that “it destroys all inordinate ambition, and every tendency to corruption with regard to the community to which we are placed. It gives sweetness to the conversation, and serenity to all the thoughts. It is the greatest blessing a man can enjoy in this world; and if in the present life his happiness arises from the subduing of all his desires, it will arise in the next from the gratification of them.”

– taken from Gaining Favor with God and Man

The “I Wills” of Flexibility

  • I will not get upset when plans change

Children all too frequently cry, pout, complain, and even throw temper tantrums when they don’t get their way. The character quality of flexibility recognises that such behaviour is wrong. It is not only wrong, but creates extremely difficult situations for both parents and teachers alike. Sometimes these wrong behaviours are simply learned. Children learn that when they cry, they get their way and when they pout, parents or teachers give in. Teaching flexibility helps to counteract such manipulative behaviour by encouraging self-control, patience, and discretion.

  • I will look for the good in changes

Flexibility is optimistic in that it looks for the good in something. The word optimistic comes from the same Latin root as optimum, which means “best.” A flexible child considers a change in light of its benefits and looks for the best to happen as a result of the change. Even cancelled outings or rescheduled activities offer some kind of good. By looking for the good in something rather than the worst, a flexible child usually finds it.

  • I will respect the decisions of my authorities

The fact is that children and students can’t always understand why things change. They don’t share the same knowledge, experience, or maturity that comes with being a parent or a teacher. Regardless of how much or how little they do understand, they can still respect the position of authority by listening, asking questions, and controlling emotional impulses.

  • I will not be stubborn

Stubborn means “remaining stiff and fixed in one place.” The original meaning of the word was considered a compliment. To use the word implied that someone was resolute and steadfast. In the fastpaced and ever-changing world in which children live today, the term refers to those who are obstinate, opinionated, or refuse to bend. Unfortunately, those who refuse to bend often break.

  • I will not compromise what is right

While flexibility encourages one to accept change, flexibility does not yield to changes which are legally and morally wrong. Flexibility never excuses wrong behaviour by blaming it on others, including authorities. It doesn’t say “I was just following orders,” because it knows and holds fast to what is right.

Character First! Education Series 3

How to Demonstrate Flexibility

at Home

  • Being willing to change ideas or plans based on the cautions of one another.
  • Being open to one another’s suggestions on how to improve home life.
  • Welcoming family emergencies as opportunities to build character.
  • Giving up activities that conflict with family priorities – without griping.

at Work/School

  • Being willing to help a struggling student to understand a concept.
  • Listening to the advice of others who may be able to share a more effective way to accomplish your task.

at Church

  • Being open to changes in the order of service (Rather than – “But this is the way we’ve always done it…”).
  • Ministering to other families in a time of crisis.
  • Being willing to change plans or activities in deference to others who might be offended.

Character Definitions of Flexibility

  • Learning the wishes of the one I am serving and adapting my priorities to meet them. Learning how to cheerfully change plans when unexpected conditions require it. Avoiding obligations that would hinder us from taking the best course of action. (Character Clues Game)
  • Not becoming attached to ideas or plans which could be changed by my authorities. (Character First!)
  • Flexibility is not setting my affections on plans or places that could be changed by those whom I am serving. (The Power For True Success)

Bible Verses Related to Flexibility

Spend an evening (or several) looking at just one of these verses at a time. Discuss with your family what each verse or story teaches about the character quality; and give vital application of how this quality can be applied to your family. Choose several verses to memorize together as a family during the month. Since the English word “flexibility” does not appear in the Authorized Version, we have included a list of verses which relate to this important character quality.

  • Genesis 12:1 Now the LORD had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father’s house, unto a land that I will shew thee:
  • 1 Samuel 15:23 For rebellion [is as] the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness [is as] iniquity and idolatry. Because thou hast rejected the word of the LORD, he hath also rejected thee from [being] king. {witchcraft: Heb. divination}
  • Psalms 40:8 I delight to do thy will, O my God: yea, thy law [is] within my heart. {within…: Heb. in the midst of my bowels}
  • Psalms 123:2 Behold, as the eyes of servants [look] unto the hand of their masters, [and] as the eyes of a maiden unto the hand of her mistress; so our eyes [wait] upon the LORD our God, until that he have mercy upon us.
  • Mark 1:16-18 Now as he walked by the sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and Andrew his brother casting a net into the sea: for they were fishers. 17 And Jesus said unto them, Come ye after me, and I will make you to become fishers of men. 18 And straightway they forsook their nets, and followed him.
  • Psalms 62:10 Trust not in oppression, and become not vain in robbery: if riches increase, set not your heart [upon them]. 
  • Matthew 6:19 Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: 
  • Luke 14:27 And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple. 
  • Philippians 1:23 For I am in a strait betwixt two, having a desire to depart, and to be with Christ; which is far better:
  • Colossians 3:1-2 If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth. {affection: or, mind} 
  • 2 Timothy 2:4 No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of [this] life; that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier. 
  • 1 Peter 2:11 Dearly beloved, I beseech [you] as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul; 
  • 1 John 2:15-17 Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. 17 And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever.