Tag Archives: Faith

a place to start

Starting anything seems to be the hardest part for us.

How often have you thought that you needed to begin a diet and exercise program but this week doesn’t seem like the right time to begin? Or you found that if you started on Monday, come Tuesday you had already fallen off the wagon? (I’ll let you in on a secret: Start on a Saturday…you’re welcome.)

Most of us know at least three things that, if we did them, would immensely improve our lives. Maybe one of those things would be to do a better job at managing our money, or spend more time with our family, or decide once and for all that we’re going to change careers, go back to school, or start a business.

Not having enough information is rarely the problem. We just never get started.

I’ve struggled with this too, in the fact that I have multiple dreams and goals I would love to see met in my life. I have all the facts. I know what to do. I just get hung up on all of the “buts” that tie into each idea.

Allow me to elaborate on that one word for a moment. 

I’ve had many opportunities to talk with friends, family, coworkers and acquaintances about their life goals; they willingly and readily share the processes they need to go through get there or the ideas they had on how to get there but…

There’s always a “but.”

I stumbled on several articles just this past week on the power this one word has on all of us. An interesting power, actually. Whenever the word “but” is used, people tend not to remember anything that was said before it.

For example, your boss asks you to join him in his office late on a Friday afternoon. The conversation begins like this: “We have really appreciated your work for our company these last several years, but…

or

“You did an excellent job heading up the project for such and such, but…”

Or maybe, a young man receives a text message from a girl he’s been seeing and it reads: “I have really enjoyed dating you these last three months, but…

See what happens there?

Hearing that one word removes everything before it from our memory and we tend to focus on everything that comes after it.

Isn’t that strange?

Unfortunately, we tend to do the same when it comes to Jesus and the free gift of grace He offers. Sin possesses the same kind of power that one word. Sin is the negation, the “no” that attempts to blot out the truth Jesus Christ offers.

Sure, Jesus loves me, but I’m a sinner.
The Bible says all are saved by faith in Jesus Christ but I’ve done too much.
I know Jesus can do much through me, but I need to fix me before He can do anything.

But…

We forget everything else that comes before that one word.

We forget the price He paid.

We forget that He covered everything with His blood.

No sin is so far removed that it hasn’t been covered.

In The Gospel of Yes, Mike Glenn writes, “The memory of past sin and the realization of current sin loom large, blocking out our view of the work Christ is doing in our lives today. Sin has a way of making us forget the goodness of God. Sin denies the presence and power of God in us and our world.”

Satan uses our awareness to twist the truth of grace; to blind us. He uses our sin to trick us into believing it has more power than it really does. Sin devalues us as people and causes us to see others and all creation as lacking worth. It belies the good work Christ does in us and in the world.

Jesus gave His life for you; sin has no power. Death has no sting.

We all have a past. We have things in our lives that cause shame or grief (tools used by Satan to keep us down). We forget the promise of forgiveness and the second chance(s) that Christ offers.  We have a hard time believing that a second chance could still apply after all that we’ve done.

I struggle with my past and my sins just as much as the next person. Satan uses those things to blind me; to trick me into believing that it has more power than it really does.  He has a thing about keeping me down.

But how does one overcome that “but” in their life?

First, we must let go of the lie; the one that we aren’t worth it; that the second chance does not apply.

Second, we must confess and repent and not the way many have preached/taught since the birth of the church. We don’t simply show up to confession, list off our sins and go on our merry way. Grace does not work that way.

It’s about the combination of confession and repentance. True confession and repentance cannot exist without the other. There is a vast difference between the two and yet, they play a very important part in the process of forgiveness. We are very familiar with the term forgiveness. How many times have we been told to simply confess our sin(s)? There is a certain emphasis on God’s forgiveness as a free gift, and in emphasizing it, we unknowingly cheapen it. We hop, skip and jump right over repentance…which includes confession and so much more. It goes beyond simply confessing sin to a definite change in how a person approaches life.

Grace extended/Forgiveness is not a do-whatever-I-want-and-get-away-with-it ticket.

Grace is God’s unmerited favor. We did nothing on our own to deserve it and, yet, He freely offers it. We are saved by grace, not by works (Romans 11.6). We cannot save ourselves. Only God can and He did. Through His Son, Jesus.

He paid it all. No part of that debt has been left for any one of us to pay by working hard and cleaning up our own lives. We cannot do that on our own. Jesus opened the door. We only have to walk through it. And yet…we struggle with accepting the truth that this gift, the gift of salvation, is free. Who would give away something like that? So we think we have to earn it.

Here’s a nugget of truth that makes my heart and soul smile: The mess you are in, the mess I am in, is why He came.

Jesus isn’t unaware of the brokenness of this world or the circumstances of your life. He knows better than anyone that we cannot fix it ourselves.

He came. He gave.

Everything

Himself

His life

All He wants in return is you…

Me…

Us…

We must allow Him, through that repentance, to change our minds. After confessing sin, a person turns from his or her previous lifestyle and commits to following Jesus. This isn’t easy. It’s something that happens daily; a moment-by-moment decision we must make on a constant basis.

It’s about living out the following:

Then He said to the crowd, “If any of you wants to be My follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross daily, and follow me. If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for My sake, you will save it. And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but are yourself lost and destroyed? If anyone is ashamed of Me and My message, the Son of Man will be ashamed of that person when He returns in His glory and in the glory of the Father and the holy angels.” Luke 9.23-26 NLT

or from The Message:

Then he told them that they could expect for themselves: “Anyone who intends to come with me has to let me lead. You’re not in the driver’s seat – I am. Don’t run from suffering; embrace it. Follow me and I’ll show you how. Self-help is no help at all. Self-sacrifice is the way, my way, to finding yourself, your true self. What good would it do to get everything you want and lose you, the real you? If any of you is embarrassed with me and the way I’m leading you, know that the Son of Man will be far more embarrassed with you when he arrives in all his splendor in company with the Father and the holy angels.”

Our minds are transformed when we allow Him a place to start.

Things are not perfect and they won’t be in this fallen, beautiful world we live in until the day of His return. All God is looking for is a place to begin.

A place to start

Jesus Himself took challenges and difficulties in stride. They gave no reason for Him to change course.

When He had been preaching to the five thousand men and their families, Jesus worked with what he had to feed them: two fish and five loaves of bread. He started there.

And when He met the Samaritan woman at the well, He did the same. In Jesus day, men did not speak to women in public – not even their wives – and they definitely didn’t speak with Samaritan women. Jesus did. He came to her in her need. He started there. He opened her eyes to God and His truth: That her being a Samaritan did not lessen God’s love for her. He told her about her life; He didn’t tell her to first get her life straightened out and then come back. He said, in effect, “This is who you are…This is what is going on right now in your life… And this is a good enough place to start.”

“Starting seems to be the hardest part for us…there is always a cost associated with changing your life.”

All Jesus really wants is a place to start.

True change isn’t about you or me trying harder or working on a new plan. It’s not about reading the next best-selling self-help book out there. Until you allow Him to change your mind and your heart, anything you do or attempt to do will be filtered through a mind formed by the ways of the world. Mike Glenn writes, “The Kingdom of God has come near in Christ, so we have to change our minds about love, truth, reality, eternity, Jesus, God, wealth, success, strength, weakness, hope, joy and love. In other words, everything!”

What does that look like in our lives?

Jesus says that we are to love God with our hearts, minds, and souls. To love God is to think in an entirely new way. We think of Jesus in a new way. We see and understand God in a new way as Jesus reveals the Father to us through His Spirit. We transform our minds by spending time in the Word, in prayer and surrounding ourselves with others who believe and want the same things. We grow and are transformed in that; through community, through the body of believers, through His family.

Rather than being buried under our mistakes, failures, griefs and regrets and living in a place where we no longer recognize ourselves when we look in the mirror, we let Him in.

The gift of life that God offers through His Son, Jesus, changes that. When we let Him in; when we let Him take the driver’s seat, the Spirit changes our true identity in Christ. We leave behind everything that is false and start walking toward the truth of Christ and who He created us to be.

But to allow Him the room to change your life, you must allow Him the space to change the way you think. You stop fighting the current of God’s grace and start flowing with it. Once the mind is transformed, the heart soon follows. To be truly transformed, to truly live a new life, our salvation has to be about our entire person, including our minds. This allows us to truly love God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength…and it gives us the ability to love others as we love ourselves. The love we have for ourselves is transformed into the way God loves us…He is our identity.

We no longer condemn ourselves or others.

The truth of the gospel is that Jesus came to offer life; more of life to all of us, no matter what happened before; no matter the choices we made before we met Him. We have been purchased with an immeasurable price. Knowing that should change the way we live.

Peace is more than the absence of conflict and joy is more than not being sad.

We all have a past, but we are not defined by it.

The image of God defines us and the price the Christ paid confirms our worth.

We all have a past and even though you and I have found life in Christ (oh, how I hope you have), no one starts at zero. Our past is part of our story; part of our present and it, along with the choices we make right now, affect our future. We cannot separate it as it serves as our redemption story. The truth of that gives other a testimony of the gospel at work in your life. Jesus is simply asking you to let Him start somewhere. Embrace the truth of Whose you are and to Whom you belong.

Shared Post: Breaking Up is Difficult but Doable by Dani Miser

Found here.

When I was single, I became involved in a relationship that lasted about eight years. In the eyes of the world, my boyfriend was a pretty good guy. I readily admit he didn’t leave me much to complain about; he treated me like a queen most of the time. I found our being together easily justifiable. Nevertheless, soon after becoming officially engaged to him, doubt crept into my heart. God began confirming he wasn’t the man for me. Eventually, I found myself craving God’s better plan for my life and tried to break up.  However, breaking up, as the song goes, is hard to do!

I’ve reminisced with numerous singles caught in the same mess. They aren’t with their boyfriend or girlfriend because they truly want to be, but because they feel stuck. Some explain that they’ve tried to walk away only to return boomerang style. I remember the seemingly endless cycle myself. It went something like this: feel conviction, break up, return to his pleading heart, crave God’s better plan, break up, return and apologize to him for ever having left in the first place, begin to doubt, break up…You get the picture.

Are you a Christian who truly craves God’s awesome plans for your life, especially in regards to marriage, but right now you don’t feel you’re capable of making the break? Maybe you’ve already tried severing ties and failed. Perhaps you’re just about ready to throw your hands in the air and settle. Don’t! Simply admitting you need to abandon the relationship is a huge accomplishment. Congratulations! I call the seed of desire in your heart, your want to. I know. I know. Some of you don’t want to break up, but you know you should. You, my friend, have the want to to want to!

By God’s grace, desire became reality in my life. I tested God’s faithfulness by abandoning what could have been a great life with a good guy, and I waited for the Lord to bring me the man of my dreams. God did not fail me. As a matter of fact, He worked such an amazing miracle to unite me with my husband that I’ve chosen to include our story in Chapter One of my book Single Woman Seeks Perfect Man: Facing the Consequences of Unhealthy Relationships. God’s amazing goodness compels me to share three not-so-secret steps to a successful breakup with you:

1.) Gratefully accept that your yearning for a better future (and a better relationship) is a gift from God.
Scripture teaches that it is God who works in you to will and act according to His good purpose (Philippians 2:13). This means that the desire (and the strength) to wait the right way for your perfect match is a gift from God alone. You must believe that the want to in your heart was put there by God’s loving, gracious hand. Humbly welcome His spirit to continue convicting you, and allow those convictions to thrust you closer to The Gift Giver. Admit that unless Almighty God continues changing your heart, you will continue blindly and foolishly trying to make something so wrong (your present relationship) feel so right!

2.) You must grow your faith.
Without faith, you’ll never risk giving up Mr. Wrong (or Mr. Right) because faith is believing without seeing that God will bring you The One He has prepared for you to marry (Hebrews 11:1)! Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God (Romans 10:17).  This means, in order to build your faith, you must read your Bible. You must also pray. Why? Because while reading God’s Word is like allowing His light to shine through windows in your heart, prayer opens the front door and welcomes Him in completely.   Faith is only one of the many good and perfect gifts He longs to bring you when He comes into your life (Ephesians 2:8-9). Be completely honest and consistent in your prayers. Begin now, right where you are, increasing your faith by coupling the reading of scripture with prayer. God promises to reward those who diligently seek Him (Hebrews 11:6).

3.) You must act!
Faith without works is dead. You may have heard it said “the proof is in the pudding.” For you, the proof is in your actions. If you say that you believe God’s plans for your life are better than your own, but your walk doesn’t match your talk, you lie. God waits for an excuse to bless you, but He will not bless disobedience. If God is urging you to break up, you must rely on His strength and do it! The Lord says, I love those who love me, and those who love me obey me (John 14:23, Proverbs 17:8). Apart from God, you can do nothing, but with God you must do something. Obey God and all will go well with you (Jeremiah 7:23); Live for God and He will give you the desires of your heart (Psalm 37:4). All things are possible through Christ who strengthens you (Philippians 4:13). This means that for those of us who claim to be God’s children, breaking up might be hard to do, but not impossible. Wait a minute! I know it’s possible because with God’s help I did it, and you can too.

© 2011 Dani Miser, Author of Single Woman Seeks Perfect Man (Deep River Books, 2010)

Shared Post: The Three Blessings of Sorrow

We tend to sell joy like it’s no one’s business but our own. Thing is, sorrow can be good for you too. Just read the following:

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Written by Bo Stern

The Three Blessings of Sorrow

What John 16:33 means to me

I’ve never had to convince anyone that joy is good, but sorrow is a tougher sell. Sometimes we Christians describe a life following Jesus as something straight out of the pages of a pretty magazine. The house is beautiful, the kids have clean faces and matching socks, the refrigerator is full. We confuse the favor of God with the benefits of living in a blessed country during an era of relative prosperity. However, the words of Jesus himself in John 16:33, “In this world you will have trouble,” defy the idea of a picture-perfect existence in our preeternal world.

The Bible doesn’t run from sorrow, but rather encourages us to see it as one of the blessings born on the battlefield. I have experienced at least three distinctly beautiful benefits from sorrow.

1) Sorrow connects us to the comfort of God’s presence.

The Sermon on the Mount is Jesus’s most extensive monologue, and is the best foundation we have on which to build a theology about the blessing and favor of God. In it, he mentions eight specific “blessings,” including poverty, hunger, and persecution. One has grown near and dear to my heart: “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted” (Matthew 5:4).

I realize that comfort seems like a cheap consolation prize for mourning. It’s like, “Blessed are those who break their arm, for they shall get a shiny new cast!” This promise, however, is so much bigger and better than that.

The Greek word for comfort is the word parakaleo. It’s formed from two words: para, which means “close or near,” and kaleo, which means “to call, invite, invoke, or beseech.” Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be invited to come near. God’s beautiful, intimate presence is the blessing in our sorrow. When we are suffering, he comes near. He calls us near. He draws us out of our hurting and into his healing. It’s not just because we need to be with him, it’s also because he loves to be with us. Here’s another verse just to prove it:

So the Lord must wait for you to come to him so he can show you his love and compassion. For the Lord is a faithful God. Blessed are those who wait for his help (Isaiah 30:18).

Every time I read that verse, I picture the Lord earnestly waiting. I can see him searching for a chance to meet with me, hoping that I will turn to him, run to him, and sit in his arms without squirming away. I find myself longing for the gift of his matchless, unbroken companionship and wondering how I can find that in my life. Well, the next verse tells the whole story, and the story matches the words of Jesus’s sermon perfectly:

O people of Zion, who live in Jerusalem, you will weep no more. He will be gracious if you ask for help. He will surely respond to the sound of your cries. Though the Lord gave you adversity for food and suffering for drink, he will still be with you to teach you. You will see your teacher with your own eyes (Isaiah 30:19-20).

God is gracious to us at the sound of our weeping. He uses adversity and affliction to draw us to himself and to reveal himself to us in ways we have not seen before. God’s comforting presence is an extravagant reward, one that we can undervalue … until we are in the heat of a battle.

That was certainly true for me. I had never asked for suffering so that I could experience his comfort. I hate to cry. Hate it. Yet in the past months I have spent more time immersed in the murky waters of weeping than I have in all my previous days combined. In the beginning, when sadness pushed tears to the surface, I beat them down. I excelled at distracting myself by changing my thoughts as frantically as possible or by trying to Bible-verse my way out of the pain. It works for a bit, and then—eventually—the waves cannot be held at bay and the crying just comes. I have abandoned my old method.

Now when the battle gets hot and sorrow overwhelms me, I hear in my heart the word parakaleo. God is near to the brokenhearted, and my tears are bringing me near to his healing. Weeping has become a supernatural tether that draws me back to the arms of the only one who can give the comfort I need. I can try to gut it out on my own, or I can let sorrow usher me right into the presence of Jesus.

2) Sorrow connects us to the heart of Jesus for His world.

When I was little, my Sunday school teacher challenged the class to memorize a verse in the Bible, so I chose the shortest one: “Jesus wept” (John 11:35). Though I committed these two words to memory, I had no clue as to the depth of their meaning until I was much older. The story is this: Jesus’s friends Mary and Martha had lost their brother, Lazarus, to a sudden illness. They had sent Jesus a message before Lazarus died, but Jesus had chosen to stay where He was rather than go to them. When he did arrive, Lazarus had been in the tomb for four days and the sisters were mourning their loss. Though Jesus knew that Lazarus’s condition was temporary, he was not numb to the grief of those around him. John painted a beautifully emotive picture of the scene: “When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in his spirit and greatly troubled. And he said, ‘Where have you laid him?’ They said to him, ‘Lord, come and see.’ Jesus wept” (11:33-35).

Jesus wept because his friends wept. He felt what they felt. He felt the sting of sorrow because he loved them. Let this one stunning truth wrap around your heart like a soft blanket on a cool evening: Jesus weeps with you. The one who created the concept of emotion does not live in a state of anesthetized indifference. He hurts for the hurting.

Here’s another astonishing encounter from the pen of Mark: “And they brought to him a man who was deaf and had a speech impediment, and they begged him to lay his hand on him. And taking him aside from the crowd privately, he put his fingers into his ears, and after spitting touched his tongue. And looking up to heaven, he sighed and said to him, ‘Ephphatha,’ that is, ‘Be opened'” (7:32-34).

This passage doesn’t tell us Jesus wept; it tells us he sighed. Sighing doesn’t sound dramatic, but the Greek word in this verse is stenazo, and it means “to grieve and groan.” Even though Jesus was going to heal the deaf man, that didn’t stop Him from sharing in the man’s suffering.

In Mark 3 Jesus healed a man with a withered hand. He grieved over the hardness of the onlookers’ hearts. I’m telling you, Jesus feels deeply for us. He feels sadness with us and for us. Sorrow led him to lay his life down for us. When we experience sorrow, it helps us understand his heart for the world that lies trapped beneath the sway of the heartache of sin.

When we taste sorrow’s tears, we become more like Jesus by learning to share in his suffering. If we’ll let it, sorrow can keep our hearts connected to his heart of compassion for our world. This is a great gift from the battlefield because it makes us effective, capable colaborers in the kingdom, and it brings purpose to our pain.

3) Sorrow connects us to the hearts of those who suffer.

My friend Sue is sought after as a mentor by the women in our church and in our city. People turn to her and trust her with their story, not because she’s a well-known author or speaker, but because they know she’s been there. Talking to her, they feel the depth of her empathy; she understands suffering. She doesn’t minimize sorrow; neither does she allow for it to be the end of the road. Sue encourages women in a fierce fight to find the beauty, become more like Jesus, and then turn to help someone else. That women trust and turn to her is one of the greatest joys of her life, and it is a direct result of the battles she has faced and fought with faith. The sorrow she has experienced has qualified her in a unique way for the joy of walking in her calling.

Do you have a heart to help the hurting? Don’t be surprised by sorrow. Sorrow in our own battles enables us to experience a new compassion for others in battle, and this makes us more like Jesus. It molds us into more effective ministers of the gospel, and I believe that the inevitable result will be a whole new level of joy.

Are you seeing the delicate dance that takes place between sorrow and joy? It’s beautiful, and it produces deep, divine things in us that just can’t happen another way. Again I’ll reiterate that God does not cause sorrow, but he is brilliant at using it to create a perfect work in us because he loves us just that much.

Adapted from Beautiful Battlefields. Copyright © 2013 by Bo Stern. Used by permission of NavPress.

Shared Post: God’s Comforting Presence in Disappointment

Something worth sharing…no matter where you are in your walk with Christ/life now. God is my ultimate comfort during any time of disappointment.

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Posted by Adam Holz – July 8, 2013, 8:00 AM

Last week my family and I celebrated the Fourth of July at a cookout with my wife’s parents. We had already spent a couple lazy hours at our local pool with our three kiddos, and next up on the agenda was hanging out at Grandpa and Grandma’s place before heading downtown to watch fireworks later on.

All in all, it was shaping up to be a pretty good day. At least, it was until my son, Henry, got some unexpected bad news.  

We had told Henry that his cousins, Zack and Katie, whom he loves dearly and loves to be with, weren’t going to be able to celebrate with us this year. Unfortunately, Henry, who’s almost 7, hadn’t heard the “not” part of that equation — and he was very much looking forward to seeing them and playing with them.

When he finally understood that his cousins weren’t coming, he burst into tears and ran into the bedroom. After letting him cry for a few minutes, I followed him in to see how he was doing. Crestfallen, with his tender little heart broken just a little bit, Henry was still very upset.

I sat down next to him and put an arm around him and let him cry some more. After a while, we talked. I think (or, I should say, I’d like to think) that my presence was a comfort to him. I didn’t try to talk Henry out of his feelings or tell him he should just get over it. Instead, we talked about why he was so disappointed.

“I just really wanted to see them,” he kept saying. Suddenly, a good day, an expectation-filled day, had turned hard in a way none of us had foreseen: Henry was smack in the middle of disappointment.

Sitting there with him, I had two parallel insights — both about disappointment and about God.

First, I realized that when our expectations aren’t met, whether in big ways or small, there’s no way around that agonizing sense of what could have been not coming to pass. There’s no shortcut through the ensuing disappointment. We simply have to tread through it, one moment, one hard feeling at a time.

Certainly, some disappointments are bigger and have bigger consequences than others. As I look back on my own life, some of my most devastating heartbreaks had to do with romantic relationships not working out. It took time (sometimes months or years) to traverse that emotional territory, time to heal and time to get perspective on the disappointment that had taken place.

In those seasons, I often cried out to God for help and understanding. And, frankly, I cried out for comfort. One of my cornerstone promises from Scripture during those times of disappointment was Isaiah 51:12: “I, even I, am he who comforts you.” Those words gave me hope. They reminded me that we serve and love a God who, just as I tried to do with Henry, promises to be present with us in our hardest, most disappointing moments.

That said, the other thing I realized while trying to comfort Henry was that, ultimately, he had to work through that disappointment on his own. I couldn’t do it for him, and I couldn’t take the pain away — as much as I really wanted to do so. I could offer him some comfort, but even that couldn’t completely take away the sting of not being able to enjoy something he had been so looking forward to.

Likewise, I believe that God enters into our disappointment — that He’s present and longs for us to turn to Him. And I believe He offers real comfort. But sometimes even God’s comfort can be hard to grasp firmly. I think Henry was glad to talk about his feelings with me, but he still had to work through them nonetheless. Likewise, talking about our hurts and disappointments with God helps us know what to do with them, but it doesn’t magically make difficult emotions disappear. There’s still a process to be worked through in faith and over the course of time.

Thankfully, our heavenly Father is so much more patient and tender than I, as a human father, am even in my very best moments. He’s always willing to listen to us, to offer comfort and to walk with us through disappointment. “Trust in him at all times, O people,” David counsels in Psalm 62:8, “pour out your heart before him; God is a refuge for us.”

And so I keep pouring out my heart … and trying to teach my son to know that he can do the same, no matter how disappointed he may be.

A Resolution to Truly Bless My Man

Note to reader: The following is the result of further study, research and reflection after reading a portion of The Resolution for Women by Priscilla Shirer, a book written upon the influence of the movie Courageous, which hit theaters nation-wide in September/October of 2011.

Even if I remain my single all  the days God has for me in this lifetime.

Certainly, you may be thinking that I have no business talking about marraige or may even have an idea what it takes to be married. But, even in my single state, I’ve learned that I need to seek answers and learn from my peers before I take that step…hopefully, sometime in the future.

Someone needs to ask the hard questions and we single women need to heed to the advice of those who have traveled down that road.

Questions like – Am I ready (or will I be ready) to fully and completely invest myself into that union (marriage)? How will I serve him? How will I esteem him? Build him up? Honor him? Am I or will I be ready to give the time and energy, the emotional effort and attention that would be required to keep myself contented and my husband satisfied even when I didn’t or don’t feel like it? How about when he doesn’t deserve it? Am I or will I be sure?

Have I even considered the selflessness that would be required of me to fulfill my husband and assist him in accomplishing the work God has put him on earth to do? Will I be ready to do this that honors God in a biblical way?

In reading the next section of The Resolution, I’ve rediscovered things that I know (and we all tend to forget). Men possess two great fears:

  • The fear of being found inadequate
  • The fear of being controlled by a woman

My brothers both deal with this…as they’ve ever so lovingly remind me. (I’ve seriously considered the thought that they’ve been given to me for practice…blessings as they are.)

They long to be the hero. They want to feel like they are worthwhile to us women and needed by us. Any husband longs to see a look of love and admiration in your eyes. He wants to know that you celebrate him, depend on him, feel privileged to be married to him, and expect great things from him.

Priscilla Shirer points out that in spite of man’s fear for inadequacy, we must remember that our husband is capable, honorable, and worthy of our attention and admiration. He is fulfilled when he senses that we believe in him. Take the steps to pray for him, root for him, assure him that he still has what it takes rather than cut him down.

We must remember that people are not defined by their imperfections. Men, in particular, were divinely wired to be leaders, fathers and providers. Granted, in this fallen world, the characteristics that make a man great are hard to come by.

Let me ask you this: What would a man do differently if he knew he couldn’t lose his wife’s love and respect, no matter what he did?

Shirer also reminds us that at Creation, we were all created equal; not one above the other value-wise. This addresses the man’s fear of being controlled by a woman. We both hold equal value, but we are not the same. His way of doing things is not wrong. It’s just different.

We women tend to complicate them. Men, as complex as they are, are simple and uncomplicated. They aren’t turned on by a demanding, screaming wife who doesn’t recognize their value and significance.

Men will never get over these fears without us woman. But with us…God created you to be a suitable helper (Genesis 2:18).

There is nothing happier (or more attractive) than a man who actually feels like one.

In the next section, Shirer points to Peter’s words in 1 Peter 3:1-5:

Wives…be submissive to your husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives, when they see the purity and reverence of your lives. Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as braided hair and the wearing of gold jewelry and fine clothes. Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight. For this is the way the holy women of the past who put their hope in God used to make themselves beautiful. They were submissive to their own husbands. NIV

Gentle.

Quiet.

Gentle in this sense means to be humble, considerate, meek. It means being kind to our husbands the way we want them to be kind to us. (I can’t help but think of the phrase “Kill them with kindness”…it brings a small smile to my face).

Can I resolve to do that? Can you? Can you stop and think before you blurt our another criticism, whether you’re communicating kindness to him? If not, could you keep your opinion to yourself?

What are some ways that I could proactively express kindness toward my future spouse? Is there something that I could do, even as a single woman, that would show my desire to think of my husband’s need above my own?
This is something we all need to seek out.

Quiet. Meaning well-ordered (not silent), to lead a peaceable and discreet life, thus lightening the task of the one in authority…lightening the load of your husband.

This is how I, as a single woman, should approach marriage. I need to be asking myself how I can be a load-lifter and a burden lightener instead of a needy woman looking to be served, coddled, and made content by her man. That is what God calls me to do and it would be wise that I seek and heed this advice now, before I walk down the aisle.

Will I resolve to do this, not just for my sake, but for my husband’s? For God’s call on my life?

My heart resounds: YES!

Worship – Love – Laughter – Faith – Life

I’ve never considered myself an expert in any of these subjects, and yet my life is full of them. Blessings abound in the gifts I’ve been given (worship), the family I will always call home and the friends that I can be myself with (love), the ability to take it as well as I dish it out and see humor in daily life (laughter) and deeply rooted confidence and trust in something I can’t see (faith).
 
I firmly believe that God uses daily experiences to teach us more on each and we choose to come out stronger or weaker because of it.  Lou Holtz once said, “Life is ten percent what happens to you and ninety percent how your respond to it.”
 
Think about it.
 
It seems that when just when we think we’ve got it all figured out, He usually comes back with a “Ahem, I don’t think so!” in the form of the proverbial two-by-four smacking you in the forehead…or sometimes by allowing you to walk into that tree or fall into hole in the ground, all the while thinking, “I so did not see that one coming!”
 
Strange how life works, isn’t it? I’d like to share a few thoughts on each – it may be long. Here goes:
 
 
Worship

It’s amazing and inspiring to think about how much the worship industry has boomed in the last couple of decades. Partially because of bands like Petra and the Newsboys and partially because of a newer generation, Christian music isn’t like what it used to be. I recently listened to a pastor at a local church talk  about these changes, and honestly – it’s a good…no great… thing!
 
I once read that music speaks what cannot be expressed, soothes the mind and gives it rest, heals the heart and makes it whole, flows from heaven to the soul. It can come in any form – from the birds singing outside your bedroom window, greeting the dawn on some early spring or summer morning to that hard metal rock stuff, where you can’t understand a word that the artist is singing/saying (it’s almost maddening!) – and it can be used to reach a wider audience. Music, in and of itself, is not evil. The words, if any,
are what can classify a song as unfit for worship.
 
Be thankful to live in a country where we can freely play an instrument within the confines of our homes, on some random
street corner or on a stage somewhere and not live in fear of losing life over it. Yet, I find myself wishing that were not the case.
Imagine how much more we’d appreciate being able to worship. Would we take it for granted as we do now?
 
Worship shouldn’t just be reserved for Sunday mornings. As God wishes to have a personal relationship with Him, why not start
each day by saying good morning to Him first. Read from His Word before skipping off to work. Learn to love and live the way Christ did. Each action, each word, each movement was done in adoration of His Father.
 
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Love

God calls us to a live of love.
Jesus said to love your neighbor as yourself. Hard to do, but not impossible.
The Bible also states that the world will know we are His by our love for one another. In every quote and definition I’ve come across, nothing defines love more than 1 Corinthians 13. Sure, it’s used at weddings, but it should be used and followed in every aspect of life; in every relationship.

~ Love is patient. Do you run at the first sign of a bad temper? Are you easily annoyed by inept clerks at the local grocery store, distracted or reckless drivers, or grammatically incorrect co-workers? Have you ever thought of being capable of calmly bearing or enduring pain, difficulty, provocation, or annoyance as patient? We’re not perfect. We weren’t created to be. Learning to love in spite of one’s faults is truly a life-long lesson.

~ Love is kind. Kindness is more than being nice to someone. It’s our response to being patient with those around it. Ephesians 4:2 reads, “Always be humble and gentle. Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s faults because of your love.”
 
~ Love does not envy. Envy is destructive, on so many levels. It is selfishness that tears at the very foundation of any relationship. When jealousy is exhibited, we are telling that person that we don’t believe them and that we really don’t care for them. Jealousy shows our own insecurities. It brings no good or joy to your life or those around you. James 3:6 states that “whenever people are jealous or selfish, they cause trouble and do all sorts of cruel things.”
 
~ Love does not boast; it is not proud. We’ve all experienced them – those people who can’t resist telling others how WONDERFUL their lives are; how ______… (you fill in the blank). I once read that it is far more impressive when others discover your good qualities without you help (author unknown). Boasting has a tendency to raise the one boasting up while putting those around them down.  Pride, on the other hand, should not be confused with what you feel for doing a job well done or what you feel for your family. The type of pride God is referring to here is the type that comes from being too self-absorbed (having an inflated ego). It’s being stubborn; refusing to talk things through or be reasonable. There isn’t room for love or for God in that.
 
~ Love does not dishonor others. It does the opposite. Gossip is one form of dishonoring another believer or person that
comes to my mind.
 
~ Love is not self-seeking. Love does not insist on doing things its own way. It is instead prepared to give up for the sake of others, even if it means giving what it is entitled to. Jesus called us to deny ourselves, to take up the cross and follow Him (Luke 9:23). Love cautions us against making our self-seeking the ultimate goal of our lives. We should be seeking to serve others in the most effective way.
 
~ Love is not easily angered. Self-control communicates love. Love requires that we not accuse or blame others for the way we feel. It requires that we keep ourselves from saying something hurtful and unnecessary. Remember, moments of irritation come with life on this earth, but love does not need to cease when they come.
 
~ Love keeps no record of wrongs. Simply put…but harder to accomplish without the help of One greater than all we see. Love doesn’t hold grudges. Holding a grudge divides relationships and has the power to destroy them. Love lets the past die. It sees to wipe the slate clean and to start over again. Easier said than done. True love is the power to forgive, to tear of the score card, and leaves the final accounting to the judgment and mercy of God.
 
~ Love does not delight in evil but rejoices in the truth. Love looks past the fault and sees the need. And it takes that extra step. Love finds that spark and uses it to ignite something so much more glorious than any of us could imagine. Love always protects. Love throws a cloak of silence over what is displeasing in another person. We have a tendency to protect ourselves when it comes to our own disappointments and failures. But what about those we see in others? Love is supportive of others when they are weak. Rather than delight in their weakness or failure, love brings forgiveness,
hope and healing.
 
~ Love always trusts. Love isn’t gullible or easily tricked. It never loses faith. Take Jesus for example. He lived out His live with positive faith, not fear. He had enough faith to die for us so that God’s good purpose could begin to come about in us.
 
~ Love always hopes; always perseveres. Love can endure all things. It refuses to see failure as final and it lasts. Love never fails. Isn’t it comforting to know that God’s love never fails? If it had, you and I wouldn’t have the freedom to have that relationship with Him.
 
In looking at what love is, I’ve come to “see” a few things about this place I call home. We live sheltered lives in America and, according to some; one would have to go overseas to a third world country to
make a difference when that is not the case. It starts here. It starts now. It starts today — in your own backyard.
 
Do you know the neighbor who lives across the street? The single mother trying to make ends meet just so her kids would have a roof over their heads? How about the guy in the cubicle next to yours at work? Does he go home to nothing? Or the family down the street? Mr. Smith lost his job just before Christmas and they may be losing their home.
 
Start there.
 
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Laughter

I’ve been told that I laugh way too much. Why; when there is humor to be found in many things? God has a massive sense of humor. Why shouldn’t I? I sometimes find myself pondering the thought that He was laughing the day I was born. A self-proclaimed klutz and titled Walking Lawsuit – so lovingly coined by my college roommate – I’ve discovered that life is far too to take it too seriously. Why not laugh when biffing it in the parking lot or face-planting into the door…as long as I’m okay, right? Why get all worked up over being dyslexic when it comes to speaking at times? Or reading for that matter? I’ve also found that laughter, outside of mathematics, is one thing that all nations have in common. Laughter brings joy to all who exercise it.
 
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Faith

Believing in something that cannot be seen may seem radical to some. I once heard that faith is like the wind. You can’t see it but, oh boy, you can feel it. It’s a deep sense that He’s there. God blessed me with an amazing upbringing that I, mostly, wouldn’t trade anything for. Both of my parents believe and instilled that faith in me, starting the day I was born. I used to read stories
from a children’s picture Bible (still my favorite book to this day) and I attended a Christian grade school up until 8th grade. Memorizing scripture really does wonders on the heart and I find myself recalling a lot of those words when I desperately need them even as an adult. What do you put your trust in?
 
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Life…
 
is short. Live a life of worship, from sun-up to sun-down. Love with
everything you have and as if you’ve never been hurt. Laugh at the little things (and often). Finally, believe with all your heart, soul, mind and strength.