Saturday, June 11, 2011

Suffering, Pt. 1

Here is the first post in... a few anyway, that I wrote on suffering. The Legend of Thousand Hills Farm

As I have been contemplating suffering and trials, I have also been thinking about how they pertain to us as wives. I believe that we have the influence within our home to make or break our family when it comes to times of suffering.

Wives and Mamas are often referred to as the thermostats within the home. And how we act or react to situations often dictates how our children will react as well as our husbands. If Mama (or Wife, if there are no children in the home), handles trials with trust and faith in God, her children are going to be much less likely to fret and worry, and she is going to be building her husband up during these times instead of beating him down.

Whatever trial we happen to be walking through ~ deployment of a military spouse, the illness of a child, or perhaps the death of a child, unemployment or under-employment ~ we have a choice to make. Are we going to look at our circumstances and become a miserable, naggy wife, difficult to live with and always finding fault; or are we going to look above our circumstances to our Father God, who is our provider, protector and shield. Are we going to find joy in our circumstances, reasons to praise God within those circumstances, and be a boon and source of hope for our family, our husband in particular?

Because it's something that we are dealing with right now, I want to address the unemployment issue. Sometimes it's not total unemployment, but there is only part-time or seasonal work to be had. My Beloved has been out of work ~ a good, steady job ~ for about 2 1/2 years now. During that time, we have been blessed with 2 pregnancies (I am currently due with baby #11 in October). My last pregnancy was with a baby who has a very rare and extremely severe heart defect. We had a house payment to make, bills to pay, and last spring, while our youngest was recovering from open heart surgery, our house burned and we lost almost all our possessions. And, my husband had no job.

Men are created by God to work. It is within their DNA to be a provider. Being out of work is very difficult for them. It hits their ego hard (and I'm talking ego in a good sense/not in thinking too highly of themselves).  My Beloved is a man with a good reputation within the community. He has a great work ethic, and always gives his job everything. He is one of those people who can learn to do just about anything, and do it well. He has a pretty good looking resume as well. And yet, like so many others, he cannot get hired. It seems he is either too qualified or not qualified enough. No one is willing to accept that he just wants a job to provide for his family or they are not willing to put in the minimal time it would take to train him to do the job.

When a man is used to going out every day and working to provide for his family, to go out time and again and be turned down for defeats him. So, what do we do as wives? It is easy for us to be consumed by the bills laying unpaid...or at least overdue. To be worried about where the house payment is coming from, or how we will afford groceries. In that worry, it's easy to nag. To tear him down. Make him feel like he's not trying hard enough, or that he never does anything right.

Sometimes, we have the best of intentions, but our words become a stick to beat our husband with. We can easily cause him to become dejected and depressed.

What a sad place for a woman of God to be. And, if you honestly look at yourself and find yourself there, I hope that you will repent. Ask God for forgiveness and ask your husband to forgive you as well. That kind of behavior reveals a deep-seated idol of control in our heart. We want to control the situation, we don't trust that our husband is doing his best, and worst of all, we are not trusting God to be sovereign and provide.

I am thankful that my husband will tell me when I get this way. I don't like to hear it! But, it also breaks my heart when I know that I am falling so short of my desire to be a godly woman and wife.

Our job is to be our husband's cheerleader. To be the one person who he can always count on to truthfully build him up. To make him feel like a man. A *safe haven*.

Proverbs 31 says: "The heart of her husband trusts in her, and he will have no lack of gain. She does him good, and not harm, all the days of her life...Strength and dignity are her clothing, and she laughs at the time to come. She opens her mouth with wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue." v. 11-12, 25-26

Are you doing good to your husband? I am not talking about making sure his laundry is clean and dinner's on the table. I'm talking about your attitude and your mouth. Are you tearing him down ~ either to his face or behind his back ~ or are you building him up ~ both to his face and behind his back. You are one with this man that God has joined you to. He needs your honor and respect just as much as you need his love. And you know what? Scripture says that it is to be unconditional...just like his love for you is to be unconditional. Are you honoring him, or are you despising him? My heart breaks for men who do not have respect from their wives. And it's very difficult to think well of a woman, no matter how good a person she may be, if she is disrespectful of her husband.

Ultimately it is a lack of trust in God. Do we truly believe that God will provide? If not, then I guess I can see how you would nag your husband and fuss at him about getting a good job. But, something that I have come to realize...rather quickly into this journey of unemployment, is that it is much like trying to conceive a baby. You can do all you can do, but if God doesn't make it's not going to. A man can apply, he can put his best foot forward, he can interview well, he can have all the right qualifications, but he cannot make someone hire him. Only God can open that door in His timing. We need to trust God. We need to believe Him when He says that He will provide. Will it look just like we think it should? Likely not. But, we have seen Him miraculously provide for us over and over these past 2 years. Even when our husband is working, it is still God who provides. So, trust God, and be your husband's best cheerleader. It will be an incredible blessing to him, during a very difficult time, and it will only improve your marriage and family life. 

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Is Church Membership Biblical?

Here is another 'installment' in my 'What is the church series.' :-) This is an excellent article by Pastor Matt Chandler. Hope you enjoy it, and that it gives you either food for thought or Biblical proof for your stance.

Is Church Membership Biblical? Just click on the link to read the article.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Bride of Christ or Cheap Whore?

I don't know if this really falls into the 'Godly marriage' category, but it definitely falls onto the rabbit trail that I warned you would happen when I first started this blog! :-) I posted....goodness, I think in November! about 'what is the church?' This is a continuation of that, and I imagine there will be at least one more post in this "series".

Many years ago, we had a situation in our church. It was necessary to implement church discipline. Our church had never done that before (at least it had be a very loooong time since it had), and it didn't go so well. The person being brought under discipline basically threw their membership in our faces and walked away, and several other members left as well ~ believing that discipline was not the 'loving' thing to do.

So, this created in my mind a question as to the validity of church membership. It had obviously made no difference in that situation, so what difference *did* it make? If someone is committed to a body of believers, then they are committed whether or not there is a piece of paper stating it to be so, and if they decide they are not going to be, then that piece of paper makes no difference. Right? Of course, that kind of sounds like an argument that couples who live together but won't marry use. We're committed to each other whether or not there is a piece of paper saying we are. Right...whatever...

And then there is the argument that there isn't a command in Scripture to have church membership. So, there isn't a "Thou shalt be a registered member of a church". Does that mean that church membership isn't a Biblical principle? And often, not always, but often, the people that use these "excuses" to not hold a church membership end up being church hoppers. They come into a body, stay a while; until the pastor isn't meeting their expectations, or until someone offends them, or tries to hold them accountable, or until they get bored, or whatever, and then they move on to a different church where they stay until a similar scenario happens and then they move on yet again.

I think to really address the issue we have to look at the God we serve. The God who happens to be the Creator of the Universe, the Giver of Life, the Foundation of the Church. The One who gave His Son to die for His bride, the church. What is God like? Is He fickle in His relationships? Is He committed? Is He a loner, or does He live in community?

God is a God of community. As the Bible opens with the book of Genesis, we see Him creating the world and everything within it. He creates man and says that it is not good that man is alone, so He creates woman to be man's companion and helpmeet. But God is not satisfied with that, He also spends time each day, in the cool of the evening, walking with man in the garden. This is a God that values relationship. We continually see broken relationship as punishment. When Cain kills Abel, he becomes an outcast ~ God does protect his life, but He is still left to be a wanderer. When Moses kills the Egyptian, he must flee everything, everyone he knows. And on through to the New Testament, where we are told to put those believer's in unrepentant sin out of fellowship.

God is faithful and true. If you are one of His chosen children, there is nothing you can do to cause Him to stop loving you or stop being faithful to you. How should this aspect of His character affect how we treat the church?

We also know that our God is covenantal. He shows His commitment to relationships by covenanting. He makes covenants with Abram, Noah and Moses, and through the blood of Christ, He has made a covenant with all believers. God *commits* in a very real, tangible way to those He chooses, to those He will be faithful to, to those He loves. I believe that our church membership mirrors this characteristic of God. No, there isn't a 'thou shalt' when it comes to church membership, but what would God do? What does He do? He doesn't just leave it up to emotions and want to's to be involved. He commits.

I have already referred to the church as the Bride of Christ. We know that. It's in scripture. But are we treating her that way?  A few years ago, at the home discipleship conference we attend, one of the speakers talked about the church and our attitude toward her. He talked about the church being Christ's bride, and how that should affect our attitude toward our local body of believers. We need to look at the church ~ local and universal and see the Bride that Christ *died* for. If she is worth His life, should we treat her so flippantly and disrespectfully? It really impacted me, and likely was the beginning of this set of posts.

Watching various people in our lives who move from one church body to another, not for any real, valid reason ~ such as heresy being preached from the pulpit, or sins being ignored, etc., but for preferences or offenses, or makes me think on how it affects the body of believers, what does it do to the body to have these non-committed people just moving in and out of our midst? How does it affect their children? What are they learning ~ not how to faithful. What are they taking in about the church?

Is the church the Bride of Christ, or a Cheap Whore? How do you treat her? She *is* the Bride, so if you aren't treating her like that, how disrespectful is it to her Groom, our Lord Jesus Christ?

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Better than a Hallelujah

I am preparing to sing this song for church this coming Sunday. I have spent a fair amount of time not only working on the song, but thinking about the words. I had no idea until I looked at it on YouTube that there were people who believe this to be a totally unbiblical message. I disagree, and will share more after the song.

Why would a mother's tears, a drunkard's cry, a soldier's plea....why would any of these ever be better than a Hallelujah? It has to do with brokenness and surrender. I think that those things are better than a Hallelujah because they *are* a hallelujah. They are not a word of worship, they are an act of worship. I have been a Mama shedding tears in the night ~ have you? They were tears of fear, of acknowledgment of my inability to handle the situation, tears of pleading, and some of them have been tears of gratefulness and thanksgiving...all acts of worship.

"For though the Lord is high, He regards the lowly, but the haughty He knows from afar." Psalm 138:6

"Everyone who is arrogant in heart is an abomination to the Lord; be assured, he will not go unpunished." Proverbs 16:5

"For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person." Mark 7:21-23

I wonder what the stench of our self-sufficiency is to God's nostrils. We live in a society that takes pride in 'pulling one's self up by your bootstraps', and being a loner, and 'I can do it'. But it all smacks of just that...pride. Pride is something that God hates. He wants us to ackowledge and live like we can't do it without Him ~ 'cause guess what? We can't.

"The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise." Psalm 51:17

"He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds." Psalm 147:3

I hear people say it all the time, and it is my most despised saying, "God won't give you more than you can handle." Really? Says who? And, what makes you think you can handle breathing? I think this is said in very well-intentioned ways, but I believe it is a lie straight from the mouth of Satan. I don't know about you, but I have been in many circumstances in my life that I couldn't handle. Moments before our 7th child and 5th son was born, God called him home to heaven. Trust me, I couldn't handle that. I can remember frantically pleading for his life, begging God not to require that of me. But He did. I have sat by my newborn's bedside, watching machines breath for him, and having to think about surgical options or "comfort care" to let him die. Trust me, I couldn't handle that. If I really believed that God wouldn't give me more than I could handle, I would have to conclude that God really doesn't know me (or care), or that I am an epic fail. However, God does give us more than we can handle. It is in those circumstances that we run to Him and rely fully on His strength to get us through. It is those times that bring us to a true and pure form of worship ~ recognizing that it is God alone. God alone who guides, God alone who saves, God alone who gives strength. It is all God.

"But I call to God, and the Lord will save me. Evening and morning and at noon I utter my complaint and moan, and He hears my voice." Psalm 55:16-17

"When I am afraid, I put my trust in you. In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I shall not be afraid. What can flesh do to me?" Psalm 56:3-4

"You have kept count of my tossings; put my tears in your bottle. Are they not in your book?" Psalm 56:8

God loves it when we run to Him and lay our burdens at His feet. He cares ~ someday you will forget the tears you cried, but God won't. He keeps an accounting of every tear. When we come before Him and admit that we are incapable of handling what we are walking through, He will rescue. Because it is in that admission and in turning to Him that we seek Him and His strength for the journey we are on.

God loves you, God wants to draw you nearer to Himself, God wants to be your strength ~ a very ready help in time of trouble ("God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble." Psalm 46:1). And you admitting that you can't do it, that you need Him...well, I guess I don't know if it's better than a hallelujah, but I believe it *is* a hallelujah.

Monday, November 29, 2010

A Quick Note...

To let you know that I have not forgotten about my post on the church. I have some research I need to do...slowed down by the loss of my concordance! And, at the moment I am swamped with trying to get our content insurance figured out from out house fire. That must take priority at the moment, but when I come up for air, I will get my post on the church written. :-)

May you each have a blessed Advent season!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

What Is the Church?

I have been thinking a lot about the church lately. I am working on a blog post about it now. But first, I want to know...if someone on the street were to ask you, what would you say the church is? Please feel free to leave a comment.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Join Me In Worship

Let me start by saying, please join in with me! Take the time to comment and let's worship together.

Adoration, worship, praise...our God is holy and worthy. I was listening to the radio a few weeks ago, and the person they were talking to talked about starting our time with God in praise. She challenged listeners to spend 20 minutes in worship. One of the "tools" that she gave was to take the alphabet and praise God for a character quality that begins with each letter.

I sat down the other morning, before coming into the hospital (and although I didn't take 20 minutes), I did try to come up with at least one character quality for each letter. I just went off the top of my head, I did not pull out my Bible and really do any looking, so for some of the letters I don't have anything, and I may have missed some very obvious ones ~ I am just a little scattered mentally at this point.

Please feel free to comment and add character qualities of God that are different from mine, or share how a particular character quality has touched you or drawn you closer to God.

A- Almighty, Awesome
B- Beside me
C- Constant, Comforter, Counselor
D- Diety
E- Everlasting, Exalted
F- Faithful
G- Great, Gracious
H- Holy
J- Just
K- Kind
L- Loving
N- Never ending
O- Omnicient, Omnipresent
P- Present, Powerful
R- Rock
S- Steady, Sovereign
T- True
U- Understanding
W- Wonderful

There is my incomplete list. Even at that, what a great and awesome God we serve! I look forward to reading what character qualities that you have come up with.