Disputing and Arguing

January 16 was our first meeting for the new year, but the weather kept many at home that night.  Our topic was on Disputing and Arguing (we skipped ahead of the lesson on Disrespect) and it was a challenging lesson for all of us “expert” complainers.

“Do all things without murmurings and disputings: that ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world.”  – Philippians 2:14

Everyone faces irritations and the temptation to respond in a harsh, unkind, prideful, and annoyed ways.  So how are we supposed to “do all things without murmuring and disputing”?  Is it possible? After all, doesn’t everyone have arguments?

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On our own, it is impossible to go through life without disputing and arguing.  However, God will help us and give us the strength to resist the temptation to argue and overcome this tendency in our lives.  With God’s help, we must learn to overcome our natural human reactions and learn to replace them with Christ-like responses – such as meekness, humility, self-control, and overcoming evil with good.

Arguing can have very damaging consequences, especially in the area of relationships.  For example, arguing can cause siblings to hate each other, parents and children to resent each other, friends to separate, and marriages to end in divorce.

Pride is the root cause of many arguments.  The argument keeps going when someone is unwilling to humble themselves and let the other person with the argument.  When it comes to winning or losing an argument, we need to understand that the “loser” is actually the “winner”.  The one who is willing to give in and humbly “esteem others better than themselves” (Philippians 2:3-4) is the true winner in God’s eyes.  As is often the case, God’s thinking is exactly opposite to our own natural inclinations.

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It is hard to let the other person win the argument, especially when we think that we are right.  We need help, because we can’t do it on our own.  God has promised that He will give some help to those who humble themselves (1 Peter 5:5).  If we look for ways to humble ourselves every day, we can expect God to work on our behalf in a mighty way.  It takes two prideful people to argue.  If one person chooses to be humble, the argument stops.

It usually only takes one person to clear up a conflict.  If one person is willing to obey the Lord, amazing things can happen.  It’s not your responsibility to force others to work things out, but rather to make sure that you are obedient to the Lord and leave the results to Him.  We finished our lesson by reading Colossians 3:12-14:

“Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering;  Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye.  And above all these things put on charity, which is the bond of perfectness.”

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For our activity (which we forgot to take pictures of), we had “Detective Deborah” visit us and ask us to help her solve some cases that she had on her hands.  She heard about a group of “bright girls” and knew that we were just the ones to help her out. :)  She had four mysteries for us to solve: the Puzzling Pencil Problem, the Hockey Fight Conundrum, the Case of the Chore War, and the Mysterious Skirt Skirmish.  In each of these cases, it started with a peaceful afternoon and erupted into a full scale conflict, shattering the serenity with harsh words and raised voices.

It was our job to investigate each of the cases, working though a list of questions to help us identify what caused each argument.  Each mystery was solved when we found out what the root problem was and found a Scripture verse to correct the conflict.  We had a lot of fun being detectives for the evening. :)  Click here for instructions and scenarios.

As usual, we ended our time together sharing snacks and fellowship.  See you all on January 30!

Humility

On November 29, all twenty girls and leaders gathered for a Bright Lights meeting on humility.

We learned that the word humility comes from the word Latin “humus” which means “of the ground” or “dirt”.  Humility is putting ourselves below or underneath, or giving someone else the upper position; it is an attitude of service and submission toward others.  We also talked about pride and its terrible consequences, and how it keeps us from being strong for the Lord in our youth.

During our lesson time, we were interrupted by a breaking newsflash from BLN (Bright Lights Network) News.  Reporter Alicia Sparks filled us in on an incidence that happened at a mission center donation processing hall.

Elizabeth and Jennifer (a.k.a. Sara and Havala)

From watching the security cameras at the center, it seems that two wealthy sisters – Miss Anna and Miss Sophia Proudhart – sold a very valuable gold ring and gave all of the proceeds as a donation. Yet, both of them fell dead after saying that they had given all the money.

Anna Proudhart – having just given a donation of 4 – ahem – $2,000

An interview with Elizabeth and Jennifer from the mission center indicated that they believed that pride – wanting to make themselves look as good as possible – was the reason for the fall and destruction of the Proudhart sisters… similar to the story of Ananias and Sapphira from the book of Acts.

Special thanks to Hannah, Havala, Deborah, and Abby for helping with the skit!

Anna, Sophia, and Alicia (a.k.a. Hannah, Deborah, and Abby)

We wrapped up with an object lesson using balloons.  We talked about how a balloon with no air is soft and pliable – in the same way God is able to use a humble person to bring Him much glory.  I then had a volunteer come up and blow up a balloon as much as she could and we talked about how a balloon with air is puffed up and can only be one shape – in the same way pride makes us consumed with ourselves and useless for God’s work.  Then we popped the balloon to remind us that pride is dangerous and leads to destruction.  As young ladies seeking to be bright lights for Jesus, we want to be humble – like the soft and pliable balloon – so that God can use us for His glory.

For our activity we divided into small groups to complete a humility test containing questions that required answers from the Bible.  However, the girls weren’t able to use a Bible, but rather had to use a set of note cards that had the Bible verses that they needed.  The only problem was that there was only one set of cards and so the teams had to trade to get the cards they needed.  To complicate things even more, there were 4 different penalty cards to slow the teams down.  Whenever a team started doing jumping jacks, singing “Joy to the World” really loud, lining up to get a drink at the water fountain, or running upstairs and back down again – everyone knew that they had gotten a penalty card.  It was a fun activity.  Unfortunately, we were having too much fun to take pictures.

As always we enjoyed our tea and fellowship time.  Autumn brought chocolate cupcakes, and Louisa & Olivia brought pumpkin bars (thanks girls!).  We have a lot of talented cooks in our group!

Enjoying tea, snacks, and fellowship

Remember, we will be going caroling for our next meeting… don’t forget to bring some goodies for the cookie plates we’d like to make.

Gaining a Clear Conscience

At our third Bright Lights meeting (Feb. 16), we covered the very important topic of “Gaining a Clear Conscience.” Not only is it an important lesson, it’s perhaps one of the most difficult to put into practice.

First of all we talked about what our conscience is. We described it as a God-given sense of knowing right from wrong—it is God’s law written on our hearts. Romans 2:14-15 says: “For when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do the things in the law, these, although not having the law, are a law to themselves, who show the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and between themselves their thoughts accusing or else excusing them.”

From our skit: Sisters Alice and Mary couldn’t get along

We all make mistakes and sin against the Lord and others. Sins that we never make right, whether little or big, will effect us for the rest of our lives. When we do something wrong, we need to back and make it right.  If we try to ignore our conscience, things will only get worse.  God’s Word emphasizes having a clear conscience.  Why is this?  1.) Because we have to stand before God (Acts 24:15-16);  2.) to avoid failure (1 Timothy 1:19); and 3.) to maintain a good reputation (1 Peter 3:15-16).

We learned that there are 3 types of consciences:  A good conscience, which is one that is sensitive to evil and free from guilt; a guilty conscience, which is one that is bothered by guilt and unresolved sin; and a dead conscience–the very worst–which is one that is hardened against evil.  We each need to desire to have a clear conscience.

There are many sad consequences of a guilty conscience and hiding sin in our lives.  One of these is living in fear of being found out (Numbers 32:23b).  Secondly, a guilty conscience hinders relationships with those we have wronged, and more tragically, it hinders our with the Lord (Psalm 66:18—“If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear.”)  Thirdly, when we are hiding sin in our lives, it is easy to continue in it because no one else knows and it able to help us with our struggles.  A guilty conscience also effects one’s testimony and ministry.

From our skit: Alice battling her conscience

So how do we obtain a clear conscience?  An important first step is to desire to have a clear conscience.  Next, list offenses that you have committed against God and others, and then confess your sin to the Lord.  1 John 1:9 says, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”  Now, purpose to ask forgiveness from those you have offended or wronged.  Determine when you will ask forgiveness and do it—don’t put it off!!!

When you ask for forgiveness, show sincerity and humility (James 4:6—“But He gives more grace. Therefore He says: ‘God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.’”)  Explain that you were wrong and make no mention of the what they did.    It is important to understand that we need to fix the problems in our lives, which are often big, before we try to fix the small problems in someone else’s life (Matt. 7:3-5).

From our skit: Be sure your sin will find you out!

There are many benefits of having a clear conscience that far outweigh the difficulty of going back and asking for forgiveness.  Some of these many blessings are that you will be able to resolve conflicts, you will experience great freedom and joy (no more guilt!), you will have more strength to overcome future temptations, and you will have a good testimony to others.

My sister Abigail and I each shared about a time when we had to clear our conscience.  Both of us agree that while confessing what we have done and asking for forgiveness is hard, the rewards of obeying the Lord in this matter are great and totally worth the difficulty.  There is great joy and wonderful freedom that comes when we gain a clear conscience.

As an illustration of the struggle within of gaining a clear conscience, we presented a skit about Alice who after a fight with her sister Mary, buried her sister’s doll in the garden to get back at her.  Alice’s conscience told her that she needed to confess what she had done and make things right, while the “Bad Conscience” convinced Alice that it was just too hard to confess, after all no one would ever know if she didn’t tell.  Alice decided to cover up what she had done and lived in fear of being found out—which happened one day.  Mary’s doll was filled with corn kernels, and one day Mom found some corn growing (in the shape of a doll!) in the garden. Alice learned the hard way that “He who covers his sins shall not prosper, but whoever confesses and forsakes them will have mercy.” (Proverbs 28:13)

Playing “Bright Lights Pictionary” during our activity time

We were very grateful for the 17 girls that came out to the meeting. Our snacks were provided by Lily and Betty. Betty made some beautiful cupcakes to celebrate the birthday of one of the girls, which was a treat for us all.  Happy birthday, Joy!

The beautiful cupcakes

I’m looking forward to seeing all of you at our next meeting on March 1st!