Thursday, April 17, 2014

A God First Life

I think in life there are three types of Christians. Those who are actively putting GOD first in their lives. Those who want to put GOD first but can't quite figure it out. And those who care more about their fleshly desires than putting GOD first in their lives. 

It may seem kind of harsh to think of such categories, however when you really think about it, its not too far off. For those of us who are actively pursuing a relationship with GOD yet need the help with really putting HIM first, a book to help you would be The God-First Life by Stovall Weems.

This book looks at Christian life as if you were a babe in Christ trying to figure it out. You know you want more you just don't know how to obtain it. Then read this book and it will help. One thing that I love in this book is on page 99 in which the author breaks down the Lord's Prayer:

In breaking down the Lord's Prayer as such, the author helps the reader to see that while they may not pray this exact prayer they can get across the same effect of Praise, Purpose (us doing God's will), Provision (God providing for us), Pardon (asking for forgiveness), People (praying for others), Protection (asking for God's protection), and closing out with Praise.

Then the author goes further and reminds us that even in the Lord's Prayer we are putting GOD ahead of ourselves. 
Another topic I enjoyed in the book is the chapter "You've Got to Feed Yourself." Many Christians, regardless to whether they just got saved yesterday or been saved for years, are not always aware of the need of daily fellowship with God beyond prayer. Yes, prayer is important but the only way to truly hear God's response to your prayers is to learn who HE is through studying HIS Word. Many times, God's answer's to your prayers will come through reading HIS Word.
I have gotten plenty of responses to my prayers while studying HIS Word. The Holy Spirit teaches and its our job to ask for instruction in the Word.

"Be careful of approaching the Word with your own agenda"- Stovall Weems. 
So often we do just that, we brings our issues and desires to the Word of God and try to make God's Word apply to what we want. If we want revenge on someone, we'll try make God's Word apply to that situation. If we feel we deserve blessings, we'' try to make God's Word apply. However God's Word does not exist to be a genie but to be instruction, to correct, to admonish, to guide
And to be honest, I used to think this was normal, because I was people do it everyday. They would take a Scripture out of the Bible and make it apply to their situation. They would tailor the Bible to fit their lives instead of taking their lives and circumcising it to align with God's Word. Yet this is the very thing the author warns us about.

Whether you're a new believer or a seasoned believer, you're never too old/young to live a God-First Life. Many of us lead a me-first life not realizing that it is what holds us back. We look at how we can benefit from God instead of coming to HIM in humble servitude.


Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Training and the Mission of Marriage

Something I just picked up on while doing Discussion Questions for class is that just like we get training for jobs, we should receive training for life, especially marriage. Prior to getting married we should undergo a training period so we know (to a degree) what marriage is about. Too often people jump into marriage without truly discovering what marriage is about especially considering marriage is the combining of two lives into one life
For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh. (Genesis 2:24)

Many times people (like myself) go into marriage not fully understanding what marriage, especially a godly marriage, requires of us. Marriage REQUIRES sacrifice, submission, obedience, unconditional love, unconditional respect among other things. However when we think about getting married we don't think about these things, we just think about the fancy wedding & honeymoon. We think about "oh he so fine" about having a man. But then we don't realize what marriage really means. 

I am almost sure everyone goes into marriage with expectations, we go into it certain understandings (mutual or not). Yet when these expectations and understandings are not communicated, that's when the arguments arise that make people believe that they're incompatible or that their marriage won't work.
Many arguments and issues can be avoided if people knew what their spouse expected of them beforehand. What GOD expects of them. And honestly some things only come through "on-the-job training." You learn how your spouse likes to communicate through time. You learn that sometimes its best to shut up and let them be than to hound them to talk.

I remember when I first got married, I thought I knew about submission, about obedience, about unconditional love, about sacrifice yet I quickly realized I was unprepared. I was unprepared for what submission really meant. For me it's being willing to be heard yet not force an issue. To set aside my pride in wanting to be in control and be under the mission of succeeding in marriage and as a family together. In marriage we have to realize that each person plays a different but equivalent role.

We have to let go of having the "all about me" attitudes, being lazy, being too headstrong, trying to control your husband. Too often we think we always know better when it's not about knowing better. It's about doing better, it's about knowing how to make a suggestion without issuing a demand. It's about realizing that being "headstrong" is actually one of the curses pronounced over Eve (and thus the rest of us). And thus is a part of flesh that has to be circumcised.

To the woman he said, "I will greatly increase your pains in childbearing; with pain you will give birth to children. Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you. (Genesis 3:16)

If you cultivate a submissive and obedient heart towards God prior to marriage then you will be more adept to be submissive and obedient in marriage. Many times we try to rationalize why we shouldn't be submissive or obedient but in all honesty, there is no rationalization. 

Submit to God and be at peace with him; in this way prosperity will come to you. (Job 22:21)
Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord.  (Ephesians 5:21-22)

And before anyone asks, I address wives because I am a wife. I cannot truly address a man on his role as a husband as I have no experience as such. I address what I live, what I understand.


Thursday, April 10, 2014

Communication at its Best

This morning I read an article on HappyWivesClub and I was quite surprised and yet not surprised in what I read.

Fawn Weaver reminds the reader of the age old saying that arguing is normal that all couples argue at some point and that to a degree arguing is healthy for a relationship. Something I think everyone has heard. But then she quotes something Rosie O'Donnell said on Oprah a while back in which Rosie said she wished she would have expressed her feelings versus getting angry and snapping off (in a situation with Barbara Walters). Rosie states that had she just reacted exactly how she felt, then the outcome of that situation would have probably been quite different.
Fawn then relates this to marriage in how most people do the same thing Rosie did which is to snap out in anger when they're hurt or offended.

So then I began to reflect on different arguments or "heated discussions" that I've had in my marriage and I can definitely agree. There have been several times that I have been hurt by something my husband said and instead of addressing my hurt feelings, I have snapped out in anger, which in hindsight did absolutely nothing to address my hurt feelings but did start an unnecessary argument. And I can honestly say the same has happened with my husband and its after the fact, after we've argued and further compounded the situation that we speak on the underlying feelings, on how an action made us feel & why we snapped. 
I wonder how much different the landscape and atmosphere in our marriage would be if instead of getting angry/yelling/snapping, we just addressed our actual feelings. No anger, no animosity just plain and simple, "this is how __ made me feel."

I challenge all of my readers to make this change, instead of getting angry and lashing out that you address your feelings. Now here's the side effect: it will make you face your vulnerability.
When you address your feelings instead of allowing anger to surface, you allow your vulnerability to surface. In marriage this can be crucial, to allow your husband/wife a look inside your feelings, inside your heart. To let them see what really affects you.

Remember love keeps no record of wrong doing, love covers a multitude of sin. We can start by being slow to anger and quick to address what has offended us in a respectful manner that gets across our "feelings" but does not point blame or offends. I read recently (somewhere on Facebook) that when you criticize a behavior be very careful to criticize the person.

We do better, when we know better.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Am I pleasing in YOUR eyesight?

May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing to you, O LORD, my rock and my redeemer. (Psalm 19:14 NLT).

I absolutely love this verse! 

Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart by pleasing to you, O LORD. When I read this verse I think of how our words need to match our heart. David is coming to God saying, Lord look at the words I say and my heart, are they pleasing in your eye sight?
The magnitude of that is awesome! 

Now think of yourself, can you confidently go to God and say Lord look at the words of mouth and what my heart meditates on, are they pleasing in YOUR sight? I know that as much as I want to say yes, there are many times when my heart nor my words would be pleasing to the Lord. There are days when I'm not living in the way I should be. I'll let anger, frustration or irritation get the best of me when I should meditate on God's Word so that God gets the best of me.

So how often do you rely on something else? The Lord is our rock and redeemer, He is the one we should run to when our hearts are troubled to meditate on His Word. 
Does this happen ALL the time, probably not. But the truth is that it needs to happen all the time. 
I am slowly learning that nothing is substitute God. Even if I don't think I am attempting to substitute something for HIM, that's exactly what I do when I turn to anything other than HIM when I am in need or troubled. I am no longer meditating on God when I do this.

This is what we do as a people. We have a hard day we turn to people. We want to be "happy" we turn to stuff. Our heart meditate on something different than the LORD. And while our words may profess HIM, our hearts will be far from HIM. We have to push our hearts close to GOD, it won't happen on its own. 

Lord am I pleasing in your eyesight? Are the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart pleasing to you? Do they glorify you? Do I give honor and glory to in EVERYTHING I do? 
If I do not, wreck my heart, rip out anything that does not please YOU! Wash my mouth and put YOUR word in my mouth.

Change your words and what you meditate on to be pleasing in HIS sight. That is what matters.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Women of Influence......end of the study

Today is Friday and the last day of this Women of Influence mini-study.

A couple of different verses that we've read come to mind:

or if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father’s family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this? (Esther 4:14)

Esther had this amazing story. She went from being a commoner in Persia to being the wife of the King of Persia, a Queen. Then came the threat to the Jewish people of being annihilated due to Haman's trickery & evilness. This particular verse is when Esther is asked to take a stand and approach the King on this topic. This was such a big thing to ask of her because of the rules of engagement: if she went before the King without being summoned she could be killed if he was not pleased. Yet the entire situation was not about Esther herself but about her trusting God to take care of her and the Jewish people. Moredecai reminded Esther that God could have placed her in her royal position of Queen to be able to influence the King in a godly manner. 

I am reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice and, I am persuaded, now lives in you also. (2 Timothy 1:5)

As women of influence its our job to pass on our faith to our children. Even if you do not have children, you can become a mentor to other children (i.e. big brother big sister programs) to pass along your faith to them. For me as a mom its my job to pass along my faith in God to my children. Thus why we read the bible every morning and pray together 2-3 times a day. We have Q&A sessions after reading since I know my oldest has such an inquisitive mind. The goal is to teach them about God so they will want to have their own relationship with Him.

She speaks with wisdom, and faithful instruction is on her tongue. (Proverbs 31:26)

This is probably the hardest verse to live by because its so easy to run off at the mouth. I think many women struggle with. When you're married this is doubled because women seem to have this innate thing to reject marital authority and submission. We are good for "going off" on our husbands and being hardheaded yet we don't experience marital bliss until we tame our tongues to speak wisdom and hate contention. As a wife this is one of the best things I can give to my marriage and family, to tame my tongue, speaking with wisdom & having faithful instruction on my tongue. This will happen when I, we, submit to God's authority which will enable us to submit to our husband's authority as head of the family.

These verses all are little nuggets to help women become more godly influences to those around them. 

Walk and Live as a Women of Influence. Trust God, submit to God, and be the godly influence your family needs!


(FYI: "Why Easter Matters" study begins on Monday 3/31, you are welcome to join us on Facebook. Just comment that you are interested and I will post the link to the group)

Monday, March 24, 2014

The Storm Inside: Book Review

One of the worse things ever is to read a book but you cannot get past the introduction. 
That's my struggle today trying to review The Storm Inside. 

I've had the book in my possession for over a month and no matter how hard I try I cannot get past the introduction without a headache.
Maybe its because I'm not at the point in life where I need this book. Had this book come in 2012 when my mom was battling cancer, I may have been able to really indulge in reading it. 

From the bits and pieces I am able to coherently read, Sheila Walsh takes different stories of chaos and pain and tries to help us not focus on the chaos and pain but focus on God's Word and use God's Word to protect her hearts. 
The reason I really like the Introduction is because Walsh addresses how we think about sin and being on the path to hell. She mentions the book "the Screwtape Letters" by C.S. Lewis. I decided to look it up yesterday and its astounding how we think that as long as we aren't doing anything overtly sinful or wrong then we are okay. However it's the blatant disregard for our internal spiritual wellness that damns us, sends us to hell.
I think that is what Walsh seeks to address with this book. She addresses how we have to let go of how we feel in deference to what God says about us. We cannot allow our emotions, which can be easily manipulated, to govern us or we run the risk of being on the broad path to hell. We cannot harbor unforgiveness and yet still expect to be forgiven. 

Sheila Walsh encourage us to take the bad and trade it for God's good. Even when its pain and heartbreaking. When your child or parent dies, its painful and heartbreaking but God wants to heal your hurt so give it to HIM.

I would recommend this book to a person who's really hurting on the inside. Who's battling pain, heartbreak,  bitterness, chaos, unforgiveness, selfishness. Take this book and allow it to aid in your healing. But most importantly take what you feel and leave it on the cross.

(FYI: I received this book from the publisher in exchange for my honest opinion.)

Women of Influence week 2

This is the last week of the mini-study, Women of Influence, before a 4 week study for Easter on GMG.
(FYI, not all groups are doing this study)

Today's passage: Acts 16:13-15

On the Sabbath we went outside the city gate to the river, where we expected to find a place of prayer. We sat down and began to speak to the women who had gathered there. One of those listening was a woman from the city of Thyatira named Lydia, a dealer in purple cloth. She was a worshiper of God. The Lord opened her heart to respond to Paul’s message. When she and the members of her household were baptized, she invited us to her home. “If you consider me a believer in the Lord,” she said, “come and stay at my house.” And she persuaded us.

Lydia, a woman of influence. I can guarantee if you have a women's study bible there's something about Lydia in it. Why? Because Paul sat down and delivered a message to a group of women, Lydia was one of them. As the Lord opened Lydia's heart to receive this message, she left there a changed woman. So changed that she took the message home! Through her heart's reception of Paul's message, Lydia was able to influence her entire household to receive, believe, and be baptized. 

That's HUGE. How many of us receive God's word and yet have a hard time translating that into influencing our family into believing? I don't know how Lydia did it but she did. Maybe it could have been the way she lived her life. Maybe she shared the message with them. All I can think of is that I want to be like Lydia being receptive to God's Word so that I can be a godly influence in my family's life.

There are more than enough ungodly influences in society. We have to combat that by being the godly influence in our homes. It is detrimental to the spiritual health of our family, our children and husbands. This isn't to say shove God in their face. This is to say model a life of living like Christ, be generous and gracious. Be loving and kind. Be forgiving and humble. Read where others can see and maybe even hear, who knows they may listen or have a question. Play worship music softly throughout your house. And always pray for them. Pray for their spiritual health. Pray for God's Will. Ask the Lord to use you to reach them.

Be the Women of Influence our families are in dire need of. 
Ask God to open your heart to be receptive to Him.


Thursday, March 20, 2014

Women of Influence -Thursday

So sorry I am late...I intended on posting on Wednesday. 
Today's passage is Acts 9:36-41

"In Joppa there was a disciple named Tabitha (in Greek her name is Dorcas); she was always doing good and helping the poor. About that time she became sick and died, and her body was washed and placed in an upstairs room. Lydda was near Joppa; so when the disciples heard that Peter was in Lydda, they sent two men to him and urged him, “Please come at once!”
 Peter went with them, and when he arrived he was taken upstairs to the room. All the widows stood around him, crying and showing him the robes and other clothing that Dorcas had made while she was still with them.
 Peter sent them all out of the room; then he got down on his knees and prayed. Turning toward the dead woman, he said, “Tabitha, get up.” She opened her eyes, and seeing Peter she sat up. He took her by the hand and helped her to her feet. Then he called for the believers, especially the widows, and presented her to them alive."

This passage is about Tabitha/Dorcas a disciple who had died but was risen after Peter prayed over her. What's most interesting to me is not that Peter prayed over her and she rose in a similar fashion like Lazarus did but that the widows were grieving so much and that they were showing off the garments she had made for them. 
Think about like this, when a person passes away we tend to talk about the good they've done but how often can we show what they're hands have made for us.
Tabitha made these women clothing that they cherished because to do so requires her time and energy, giving of herself to them.

We are called to be that type of woman. To be the woman who gives of herself, of her time and energy to those around us. We can easily give of our money and think its enough. But its entirely different when we give people our time and energy because then they know that they mean something to us. That we are doing more than trying to meet a need but investing in them in a way that really matters.

What we want to leave behind when we leave this world is not just material things but things that matter. Memories that matter, lessons that are helping others in their walk in life. If we leave this world without leaving any non-material treasures then we have not really left them anything.

So strive to be like Tabitha, giving of yourself, of your time and energy. Give your attention to those around you but that's what truly matters and will last.

We are Women of Influence....we must live like it!


Monday, March 17, 2014

Women of Influence

Women of Influence is a mini-study that is two weeks long and seeks to encourage us in our walk as women of influence. Even if you are unaware of it, you are a woman of influence. Each and every day you have some influence over someone.

 I personally influence my children and husband on a daily basis with my words and actions. And because of this, I must be careful to guard my spirit against any impurities so that I do not influence them in a negative way. This is an on going thing, you won't get it right once and that's it. Nope it's a daily dying to self so that you can be a godly influence in the lives of those around you.

Today's passage is: Titus 2::3-5
 Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine,but to teach what is good. Then they can urge the younger women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God. (NIV)

This is one of those passages I need tied around my wrists and fastened to my forehead. Why? Because I fill both of those roles. For some I am that woman of influence who is to teach and encourage, to be an example of what a woman of influence looks like. And yet I am still a young wife and mom who has to be self-controlled and pure, to be submissive to my husband and humble. It's hard to be that person, but its definitely worth it.

It's easy to snap and be angry, to follow our emotions. It's hard to practice self-control and patience.
It's easy to point out your husband's mistakes, to try to usurp control. It's hard to praise his good and let love  cover the mistakes and submit to the authority given to him by God.
It is so easy to gossip and do what everyone else does. It's hard to mind your own business and put out love, to pray for those that others gossip about.
Choose what is hard for you now but is in your best interests and pleases God.

Ladies, I am NOT perfect. I will be honest just yesterday I allowed my emotions to lead me into being disrespectful and being offended. It's hard to rein in those emotions because those emotions tell us we're right, especially when we are wrong. But today I am thankful for a husband that puts on love. Today I am thankful for another chance to get it right and rein in these emotions (and the additional pregnancy hormones). 

So this is my charge to you, I am not telling you anything that I myself am not learning and everyday going to God for help with. Die to yourself and take up the mantle as a Titus 2 woman. You may be the seasoned woman who can help and counsel the younger woman, or you may be the younger woman who is seeking godly counsel. Or you may be like me a mixture of both and fighting to stay on track. Not just for myself but for those who I influence (whether intentional or not).

God LOVES you. Grab on to it and put it on EVERYDAY.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Where is God?

In life we all experience the ups, the downs, the hardships, the happiness. And in it all is God, as the Creator of all things, He is always somehow connected to what we experience.
Many times we see the good times and we scream how blessed we are. Yet what happens when we experience the bad? Do we say we are cursed, do we blame God for our misfortune, or do we blame the devil? Many times God will allow the bad to happen so He can get the glory for what happens next. 

The best example of God allowing the bad to happen so He can get the glory in the great happening next is the story of Joesph in Genesis. I chose Joesph's story because there was human free will involved in his story. His brothers chose to sell him into slavery. His father chose to display favoritism between his sons. Yet in that same manner, Joesph chose to do good and have honorable actions at all times.
The bad is that Joesph came from a wealthy family, yet the same brother who should have had his back were the same ones who sold him into hardship. 

Have you dealt with something similar? Where people who should have your back didn't? 
Guess what its OKAY. 
Because God will use what hurts you most, to give Him the most glory. 
You have to let Him have control of your situation, you have to lay everything that you go through, good or bad, at the altar. You have to leave yourself on the cross so that God gets the glory.
God took Joesph from being a slave in Egypt to being the second most powerful man in Egypt, all for HIS glory. It shows us that regardless to what happens, what God says will be, will be. And in everything, God will turn it around for His glory.

God is in everything that happens. Many times the bad happens so the better can happen. Sometimes God will allow something to happen just so that we can know to appreciate what comes next. Joesph was giving the prophetic dreams on what the outcome would be but he didn't know HOW it would come to pass. We know we have the victory, but we still have to walk the path to get there. So since we already know the outcome, we can walk the path with our eyes firmly fixed on Christ.