Friday, April 17, 2020

Husbands Love Your Wife...

Today, I just needed to speak whats on my mind. Here we are, in the middle of a world wide epidemic, forced to be closed in our homes. Going on week... I don't even know how long it has been now. But the truth is, close quarters has exacerbated what was already percolating inside of me. Right now, I am struggling emotionally. Right now, my marriage feels hard. Right now, life feels really difficult. Right now, all I can think about is where are the teachings in the church that shows how a good marriage works.

Truth bomb... christian woman I talk to have the same issues in marriage. We all seem to struggle wondering how to fix what feels wrong. We all want our husbands to step up to the challenges of making our reality better. We all want our husbands to lead us, help us, take care of us. We want desperately to be loved by our man the way Jesus loves us. I don't need to teach women how to love sacrificially, motherhood teaches us that. I don't need to teach how to submit, we've all had that drilled into us. 

According to scripture, what I have been taught over and over about the roles in a marriage. The part played by both parties is the same.
Wives, submit yourself to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything. 

Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. In the same way husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself.
(Ephesians 5:22-28) 

Here are my very honest thoughts:

As someone who was single for a very long time; before deciding to remarry, submission was a difficult concept for me to embrace. I'm not going to lie, it's been a journey learning to submit to the leadership of someone else. I might not come by it easily, but I do desire to do it humbly and honestly.

From the beginning of time, woman has been inclined to take the lead and man has often gladly given it away. Because I know this, God continually exhorts me to voluntarily submit wholeheartedly to my husbands leadership. There are times I have to remind myself, this means even when my husband doesn't deserve it. But by divine right, God has set him as the leader of our family and I know I can trust the goodness of God. As I submit when its difficult, I am reminded that nothing escapes God and I'm not accountable whether my husband is doing what right before God.

Through the years I have work hard to do what God calls me to do. To stand down at times where I would rather pick up the reins and run to fix what challenges come our way. To encourage my husband and challenge him to step forward and make decisions. To charge the gates of heaven with prayer for his health, healing, holiness and transformation to be more like Christ. To be his helpmate and support the desires of his heart.

There is no shortage of teaching concerning marriage as the topic that detail what it means for a woman to submit to her husband. It seems to be spelled out for us in detail what it might look like for us to submit to one another. I have had the picture painted very clearly for me what my role should be and how it should look. But for men, they are told to love their wives as Jesus loves the church. And to this day, I have never heard it taught what that looks like in practical details.

So I am going to try very hard to spell it out as I see it. From both a biblical standing and the viewpoint of a woman and wife.

Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church. This is where it normal starts and ends with teaching. Love her like Jesus loves the church. Jesus sacrificed himself for the church.

Husbands love your wife with a sacrificial love. Every husband is willing to make the ultimate sacrifice for his wife. If someone was holding a gun to you both saying one of you is going to die: most husbands would sacrifice themselves. Most husbands would tell the person holding the gun to kill them and let his wife go. Most men would do the noble thing and die for her. But here's the question, will you live for her? Sacrifice is not a one time act, its a day-by-day dying to your selfishness and ego for her sake.

Are you willing to make the sacrifice day-by-day? Will you hold loosely to your time and make sure you are investing it in her? Will you put boundaries around your work, personal interest and responsibilities so you make sure she comes in first place? What about your preferences so you can concede to hers? Will you sacrifice your preferences with a joyful heart with no feeling of injustice or selfishness?  Will you let go of some of your dreams so she can achieve hers? Will you ferociously eradicate the sin in yourself so you can be the best version of you for her? Will you live more for her good than for your own? Will you consider all the sacrifice as an honor instead of feeling burdened by it?

We could stop there and if done successfully, every woman would be in awe and feel deeply loved but lets keep going because the verse doesn't stop there. Paul says the reason Jesus sacrificed himself for his bride the church is for her sanctification. He gave himself up to make her holy. Jesus calls husbands to love their wives with a sanctifying love. He died so the church would be set apart for the service of God. Husbands will you sacrifice yourself day-to-day in order to set apart your wife for service to God?

Your wife exists to bring Glory to God, together with you, but first individually. She was set apart to God. Yes, to be your helper but first to be God's servant. And she was only given to you so you could help her be even-better at being set apart to God.

She exists first to bring glory to God. This means your task as a husband is to be committed to helping her unleash her gifts, talents, passions and interest to bring the greatest glory to God. Not with reservation that it might hinder you glorifying God or hinder your agenda. But with complete abandon knowing what she feels called to might deduct from you and your interest. Will you sacrifice yourself in order to make sure she becomes all God has called her to be and to do?

Paul goes on saying this,cleansing her by washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless.
Husbands, do you love with a purifying love? If a wife is to submit, then a husband is to lead. A wife can not follow aimless wandering. The call for a husband is leading, guiding and assisting your wife to greater holiness. Jesus cleanses his bride by washing her with water through the word. The call to a husband is to grow in holiness himself and lead the way by the word of God. This means not just understanding or knowing the word but being changed by, on fire by it, with it burning sanctification in you soul. It is not enough to just read your Bible everyday, say a prayer and hope for the best. You must ask God to take the pride from your heart and bring true humility to you. How can you possibly lead where you have never been or refuse to go? You must first identify your own sin and ruthlessly put it to death. The task of growing in greater holiness, love and character falls to you as the leader. A husband is to drench himself in the word and then lead his family in the gospel. You are the bible leader, prayer leader, and the worship leader. Are you washing your wife with the water through the word as Jesus does the church? If you do nothing else, step up to leadership and read the Bible and pray with your wife.

All leaders are set to, and accountable for, a higher standard before God.  Most importantly is the leadership position of husband. One day everyone of us will stand before God and account for our lives. A husband will account for not just himself but the family that he was put in leadership of. God will ask him what he did with the woman he was gifted with. Did he lead her to greater glory for God or leave her unguided. Did he guide her towards holiness or damage her heart? Did he languish in his own sin leaving her with no direction? Did he hold her up to be all God called her to be or did he allow his own ego and selfish ambition to ruin her soul with hurt and anger. 

It's time for the church to step into the positions they have been given of glorifying God and stop the advancement of the enemy in marriage. Will you do your part.

Thursday, August 31, 2017

He said "Believe Me"

    I haven't written a blog post in over two years.  I began the process of writing a book and dropped blogging to put my focus on the book.  It has taken me this long and I'm still not finished.  Two long years I have been working on it.  It has been a hard process.  Because I wanted to focus on finishing the book I have neglected the outlet this blog gave me.  So all those times I had something brewing in my heart or something that just wouldn't leave my mind I neglected to share those things.  Much more, I suppressed the release that the process of writing gives to me.  It releases something inside me and helps me let go of things.  It helps me to trust God with what my heart and mind is struggling to understand.  In writing I seek God for the answers so I can put them down on paper.  That has always been my process.  I ask God to give me words and I believe He does.  Today I realized that sometimes its OK to put down the grind of performance and just write to share whats on my mind.  Its OK to just write whats on my heart instead of sitting at the keyboard trying to find the next words to say in my book.  I will finish the book, its close to being done.  But today I have something else to share and maybe someone else out there in internet land needs to hear it.  
     Sunday morning before last I got up like every other Sunday morning.  I hopped in the shower, washed my hair and set about getting ready for church.  As I stood at the mirror drying my hair I heard God say something to me that has stuck with me for almost two weeks now.  He said "Believe Me."  That's it.  
    Now mind you I am not crazy.  I don't walk around hearing audible voices from out nowhere.  What I mean when I say God spoke to me is He whispered a thought into my mind.  I knew it was Him because why in the world would I say "Believe Me" to myself.   It just wasn't the kind of thought I would think on my own.  And it left this impression on my mind that has stuck like glue and made me ponder on what He was trying get across.  
    I have been mulling it over and chewing on the idea for almost two weeks now.  I have prayed about it and asked God to clarify it in my mind.  I believe I have come to understand what He meant.
    For a very long time, well, most of my life I have doubted myself.  I have lived my life wondering if I was good enough.  It has always been my inner dialogue to believe that I am less than others and somehow not good enough to achieve anything substantial or succeed in any way.   It has been my standard operating procedure to doubt my own ability, my likability, my talents and my intelligence.  I have doubted my worthiness in every way possible. I have spent my time thinking why would anyone ever listen to me or believe I have anything worthwhile to say.  
    Since I started writing, God has been telling me things about myself.  He has poured into me trying to get me to believe in myself.  He has been pouring into me trying to show me that I have things He has given me that are of importance.  That inside of me is untapped potential that He has been waiting to unleash.  He has told me all these things about myself.  That I am important, worthy and the daughter of a King.  That I have gifts that He has specifically placed within me.  Gifts that if I trust Him with will touch others in the world.  Gifts of words and experiences that can help others.  
    Up till now, I have doubted.  Like maybe He didn't really know the real me.  Or He didn't really see me clearly.  I don't think I really knew that the doubt was doubt.  I just felt insecure and questioned whether I was who He kept saying I was.  It was like I just couldn't let go and believe that those things about myself were true. 
    Then He said "Believe Me."  and I have been thinking about it for days now.  That maybe I really am who He says I am.  I really do have the things inside of me that He believes I have.  So today I am making a choice to believe Him.  To believe I am the writer He says I am.  To believe I have the abilities He says I have.  To believe I have the importance He puts on me.  
    I am going to believe Him and be who He says that I am.  I am worthy.  I am gifted. And I have the ability to be who He has called me to be.  Maybe you need to believe Him too.  Believe Him and step into the confidence of who He says you are.                         

Monday, July 7, 2014

Ministry Isn't What I Thought It Would Be

I haven't put my fingers to the keyboard on this site for what seems like forever.  I haven't wanted to let the feelings out that lurk below the surface of my "got it all together now" facade.  When I began this blog everything was so easy...the words came out so was so easy to lay it all out there, to be honest. Guess I felt I had nothing really to lose.  But life got bigger on me....and it's become more complicated.  My dream of just getting up everyday to "do the Father's will like Jesus did" sprouted a heart that said "send me, Lord."  So I went...and a desire to follow became a ministry to help others.  With my lack of anything but a willingness I offered myself as a willing vessel.  Faith that God could use a person with little skills, I set out to follow a path that I believed would be filled with wonder and awe of the miraculous works of ministry.

Before my journey began I heard so many preachers speak about.... "God can use anyone to do great things"  "He's not looking for the most qualified...but the most willing" and I believed in what was spoken.  My problem now isn't that I no longer believe these comments to be true.  I believe God can use anyone.  I believe that God is looking for those of us who are willing.  My problem now is that most of the people that preached these thing to me really didn't believe it themselves.    What I have encounter isn't a community that believe God to be powerful enough to transform someone and use them in ways never dreamed of.  No instead I have encountered many that doubt my ability to be of great use....because I lack the seminary degree to be able to write about the word of God and teach.  Because I am a woman....I lack what is needed to teach a man.  Instead of support from the Pastors and Leaders in my community in starting a ministry, instead of helping us get our legs underneath us, we have been ignored....thought of as a competitor....and plainly dismissed.

I am disillusioned.  To see the possessiveness of see the lack of community between those who feel called to the gospel of see the lack of enthusiasm and support for those who have enough courage step out in faith.  To those of us who put it all on the line for our Lord....who put all our money into saving the lost...who put our comfort and future security in the hands of God in order to step out and be the hands and feet of Christ...who sacrifice time to be there for others who are living in a messed up world....who do things that most perceive as crazy or not following protocol for the glory of God....we need to know what we are doing is encouraged and supported.

I love Jesus....but does anyone else?  That has been my question lately.  Or do they love having big buildings and big congregations?  Or do they love feeling important because they went to seminary?  Or do they love the rules they have decided we follow in order to be greatly used by God?  What do they really love?

What I am saying is .... Jesus didn't require much to be used but I'm finding others do.  And it leaves me feeling like I'm walking alone.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Time for Joy - Part 6

I don't know about you but since I have started this study I have been trying to start my day with the choice to have joy.  As I get out of bed, I remind myself "choose joy."

The other day as I got out of bed, my mind set on a day filled with joyous thinking....I made it only fifteen minutes before someone stole it from me.   Someone that will remain nameless (I'm married to him), started in on a conversation that I really wasn't prepared to have so early in the morning.  I am not a morning person....give me at least an hour before you bounce around and shoot questions at me please. 

As this person spoke, I recognized my mood changing and my joy slipping away.  My brow began to furrow and my eyes became small slits with laser focus.  All the time my brain was saying "wwwwhhhhaaatttt?"  

Point is, in just a few moments my mind had changed from uplifted pleasant thoughts to frustration and irritation.  My joy that I had started with was stolen within one short conversation.  We can start out with such great intention and enthusiasm but be derailed in an instant. 

Life is full of these type of joy stealing moments.  If we could just get rid of the people and circumstances that steal joy our life would be so great, right!?!  I can imagine it now..... Sitting alone in my office, no people, no work, nothing to do that would steal my joy.  Doing nothing, going nowhere, speaking to no one.  Alone.  All the time.   

Maybe it would seem good for a little while but after about an hour of NOTHING I would go completely crazy.  Although people can rub you the wrong way, what would life be like without contact, conversations and love?   And wouldn't it get really boring without different circumstances in life?

There are so many people and circumstances that attempt to steal our joy that we have to determine ahead of time to have joy.  We have to determine not to let those things steal the joy we have chosen.  We have to decide.... NO ONE IS GOING TO STEAL MY JOY TODAY!  Then when that moment comes where you feel your joy slipping away you can say to yourself...."no, no, no, you aren't going to steal my joy! Not today.  Today, I will have joy!"

This my friend is doing what the scripture says in 2 Corinthians 10:5 and taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ.  When we stop our thinking process mid thought and say "No, I'm going there!", we are taking our thoughts captive and determining how we will proceed within that moment.  Our feelings and thoughts are not to control us....we should control them!

So today.... no....every day....choose joy and determine not to let it be stolen by the people or circumstances around you.  

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Time for Joy - Part 5

Joy is a choice.... So are you choosing joy in your circumstances?  Are you shifting the way you think?
I hope so but I have to admit that there are some circumstances that can make it extremely difficult to choose joy.

Like a parent of a small child that has a chronic illness.  That's makes it hard to choose joy.  Or when you yourself have suffered most of your life at the hands of another.  What about when you are going along nicely and are stricken with a chronic illness.  Maybe your spouse or child gets in a car accident and now needs constant care from you.  What about watching your aging parent lose their ability to care for themselves.  Maybe it's your marriage that is difficult and leaves you with deep depression. 

Is it possible to still find joy in the midst of the difficult?  Can we find a place of joy even when suffering is consuming our life?   It's a tall order to seek joy when you are suffering.  Most of us would rather curl up in a ball somewhere and stay miserable.    But then there are some that learn to overcome and live in a place of contentment and joy in spite of the suffering.  If you will allow me.... today I would like to share with you some of the secrets they have found.

First I would like to tell you about a fellow blogger named Lori Laws.  Lori has Muscular Dystrophy and has written a book titled "A Blessing in the Storm....Muscular Dystrophy messed up my life and made me whole."   In her memoir she shares her story of how her life was great.  Life was going along fine when along came Muscular Dystrophy and messed up her whole world.  But in her suffering circumstances she found what really lacked in her life.  She found Jesus Christ and he made her whole on the inside.  She still struggles with her illness everyday but she uses her circumstance to encourage others.  She carries in her a great contentment and joy that comes only from Christ.  In the storm of her suffering she has found great blessing.  She finds her blessing by keeping her eyes on the one who can give joy even when life gets hard.

This scripture fits her circumstance.

Colossians 1: 10-11 - That you may walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him, being fruitful in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; strengthened with all might, according to His glorious power, for all patience and long suffering with joy.

The writer of Colossians is trying to tell us....To have patience, suffer long and still have joy, you need to do these things......   

1.  Walk worthy of the Lord.... Be pleasing to Him - How do we walk worthy of the Lord?  We obey Him.  If we love Him, we will obey His commands. 

2.  Be fruitful in every good work. -  Do good with what you have been given.  Even in your suffering you can find good to do. 

3.  Increase in the knowledge of God. - The Word of God is living and healing for the soul.  God tells us to increase in knowledge of God because that is what will continue our relationship with Him to grow.  His joy is often found in the Word.  In Jeremiah 15:16 he said Your words were found, and I ate them, and Your word was to me the joy and rejoicing of my heart; for I am called by Your name, O Lord, God of hosts.

4. Be strengthened by His might and glorious power.  - Lean in!  Supernatural power comes only from a supernatural source.  God is the only supernatural source that can supply joy in the midst of suffering.  Nehemiah  8:10b says "Do not sorrow, for the joy of the Lord is your strength."  Let Him be your joy and your strength.

One last story for you before I go...  

In the book "The Life You've Always Wanted" by John Ortberg, he shares a story about a woman named Mabel.  A pastor friend of his visited a state-run convalescent hospital and met Mabel.  When he met her she was strapped in a wheel chair sitting at the end of a long hallway.  The sight of her was absolute horror.  Such so that new nurses were sent to feed her as their first duty to test them.  If they could stand the sight of her, they could stand most anything. 

Mabel sat in her wheelchair with an empty stare because she was blind.  In her ear was a large hearing aid because she was nearly deaf.  One side of her face was eaten by cancer and there were discolored and running sores covering part of one check.  The cancer had pushed her nose to one side, dropped one eye and distorted her jaw so that what should have been the corner of her mouth was the bottom of her mouth She drooled constantly.  And now at the age of eighty-nine years old, she had been here, bedridden, blind, nearly deaf, and alone for twenty-five years. 

The pastor goes on to tell about his encounter that day with Mabel.  He ends up continuing to visit her each week.  First the visits were for her...but eventually the visits became for Himself.  You see, Mabel had something that most of us don't have, she had joy and contentment even in her suffering. 

The young pastor began asking himself, " What does Mabel have to think about - hour after hour, day after day, week after week, not even able to know if it's day or night?"   The next visit he asks her "Mabel what do you think about when you lie here?" 

This was her reply..... "I think about Jesus.  I think about how good He's been to me.  He's been awfully good to me in my life, you know....I'm one of those kind who's mostly satisfied... Lot's of folks wouldn't care much for what I think.  Lot's of folks would think I'm kinda of old-fashioned.  But I don't care.  I'd rather have Jesus.  He's all the world to me." 

You see.... Mabel had the joy of the Lord.... She had all she needed.  And you can too.