Thursday, July 24, 2014

Book Review: Answering Your Kid's Toughest Questions

A few weeks ago, the last two of my children made a profession of faith and followed the Lord in believer's baptism.  It was a beautifully wonderful day in so many ways.  How awe inspiring it is to know that all 10 of my children have confessed to needing a Savior, acknowledged the need to be forgiven of their sins, and testifying to the grace of God in providing, through His Son Jesus, the means of justification!  My 7 and 8 year old didn't put it quite like that, but they understand and trust as children who will prayerfully grow in the grace and knowledge of the Lord.



 And so, as if that wasn't enough, we had visitors at the church that day and one family had an 8 year old little boy. As he watched the testimony of my two little boys and the others being baptised that day, he approached his mother about how he could be saved!  How great to share later with my boys that their first act of obedience was also one of the first opportunities of sharing the gospel because of their outward testimony!  Well, the mom sat down after the service with her child and one of our church leaders.  They feasted together on the glory of the gospel as this sweet little boy's eyes were being opened and the Holy Spirit continued drawing his heart to the greatest story ever told.  The mom asked for some good literature to use for them to continue the conversation at home and I tucked the request in the back of my mind so I could give her a list of books I would recommend beyond what we gave her that day.  If you have older children, don't you remember when the Lord first began working on your first child and he/she came with questions? Were you like me and had been on missions trips, had evangelism training, and had done plenty of witnessing...but this little child from your womb left you speechless?  I had even worked for years with younger aged children but for some reason found talking to my own child brought new meaning to sharing the gospel.

So, Monday came and in the mail that day arrived a new book for me to review.  Yes, you know what I am going to say here :)  The Lord brought me the book Answering Your Kid's Toughest Questions by Jessica Thompson and Elyse Fitzpatrick!  I had a few other books I was ready to recommend, but was so excited to dig into this one and see what it had to offer in light of Sunday's happenings.



I was not disappointed!  Answering Your Kid's Toughest Questions is a great tool to use right along with one of my other favorite parenting books: Give Them Grace by Elyse Fitzpatrick.  Give Them Grace is one of the best discipling/parenting books on how to bring your kids to the knowledge of the gospel through your day to day parenting.  Anyway...I could get off on a tangent about that.  Look up the book and order it if you have kids! :)

This new book by Mrs. Fitzpatrick and her daughter is another great tool and fantastic resource to have on hand.  Kids do ask tough questions and the Bible is the answer key.  This book, though, does some of the ground work for you by providing the scripture that supports the answers to the questions (in correct context, by the way) and then giving great examples of how to explain them to your children. Not only that, the authors lovingly give sections within each chapter that lay out appropriate explanations for Preschool aged children, ages 5-10, and beyond.  This is a great feature in helping the parent realize what the child may or may not understand at the various ages.  The sections are complex yet simple enough that you can read through them, do a little background study, and then feel prepared and knowledgeable enough about the concept to discuss it with the child.  The book covers subjects like:

  • What is Sin?
  • Why do people die?
  • Who is Satan?  What is Hell?
  • Why do people get divorced?
  • Why does the Bible say that?  Difficult Bible stories.
  • Sexual Sin
  • Natural Disasters
  • War
  • Terrorism
  • And of course-The Good News!
I highly recommend this book for parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, Sunday School teachers and anyone who works with children!

Paul David Tripp said, " I love this book! I will recommend it again and again.  It is street-level theology for children that drips with the gospel of Jesus Christ.  Parents, read it, live with it, share it daily with your children, and not only will they learn and grow, you will, too."

{I received a free copy of this book from Bethany House Publishers in exchange for an honest review}




Friday, July 18, 2014

Do the One Thing!




I'm sure your reaction to that picture and those words are the same as mine: Yeah, right! After all, we are women. Have we EVER done just one thing? I seriously can't think of a time I've done just one thing at a time. My mind actually is filling up right now with hilarious examples of some of my multi-tasking abilities. To be honest, even on Sunday mornings, when I am supposed to be focused on my one true God and setting everything aside to worship Him, I am making notes on the side of my paper. Yeah...not sermon notes...grocery lists, menus, chore charts, to-do lists of every kind. I have to. I have to jot them down so I can clear my mind to focus on the Truth that is being spoken from the pulpit. I'm not proud of that. I am such a Martha. I so want to be more of a Mary.

    Now as they went on their way, Jesus entered a village. And a woman named Martha welcomed him into her house.  And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord's feet and listened to his teaching.  But Martha was distracted with much serving. And she went up to him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.”  But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.” Luke 10:38-42

I know so many of you are with me on this...and this isn't the first time you have been reminded of Jesus' loving admonition to Martha.  But as I was reading in my morning devotions this week (while also jotting down my lists, keeping the kids on their tasks, and thinking about what to put in the crock-pot), God showed me a beautiful example of scripture.  I had one of those "Ah ha" moments where the scripture you have read so many times seems to hit you right between the eyes and lovingly reveal a blind spot in your life.  I was reading in Psalms.  I use Professor Horner's Bible Reading program, so I am consistently going through the Psalms and Proverbs.  But, thanks be to God, His Word is living and active!  It is inspired, literal, true...always constant!  But because He is gloriously transforming us and sanctifying us to become more like His blessed Son, it is never the same twice!  As we abide in Him and grow in His Truth, He continues to open our eyes and reveal to us, through His Spirit, just how we are to be more obedient.  And more than that, his amazing and abundant grace!

So...I was reading Psalm 27:4 where David says,

One thing he asked the Lord.  One thing he sought.  His desire was to dwell in the house of the Lord (to abide in Him) all his days, and in the place of dwelling, to gaze upon His beauty and to always seek Him.  The verse just stopped me in my tracks.  The Word of God pierced through my heart and my multi-tasking brain in that moment and hushed the world outside...and inside.  And, I did the same thing you are doing now. "But Lord!  There is so much to be done!  The food won't cook itself, the baby has to be changed, groceries bought, laundry washed-folded-put away!"  And God answered. In the way He always does.  As I sat there telling God how easy it was for David who had NOTHING to do but dwell in the house of the Lord and seek Him, He reminded me of Mary and Martha.  Not that there is not much for us women to do.  And not that in fulfilling the role He has designed us for that we are doing anything wrong.  But He reminded me how important it is to focus on the ONE THING.  Him.  

Then, through the great tool of cross referencing, He led me to Paul.  Guess what?  Paul had a "one thing" too:

So, I began to meditate on it all. (The kids got gloriously quiet and God graciously helped me single task!)  Martha was "anxious and troubled about many things" yet, Jesus told her that one thing was necessary.  The good portion that cannot be taken away from us.  It is important to eat.  Clean clothes are a really good thing.  A tidy home makes a peaceful home.  All those things are good, but only one thing is necessary. Re-read the passage about Mary and Martha.  It wasn't that Martha was doing wrong by serving, but she was "distracted" in "much" serving. 

Mary, David and Paul all knew it. And they all labored tirelessly for God and accomplished much for His glory.  But the One thing came first.  The One thing is where they got the strength and calm assurance to do the rest.  

Are you like me? Do you tend to give in to the tyranny of the urgent?  Have you gotten the priorities out of whack? Think about it...sincerely, transparently with an open heart before the Lord.  What is your one thing?  What consumes you?  What do you desire MOST?  Do you neglect Him and His Word?  And prayer?  Is your answer yes because there is so much to do?  Do those things take precedence because God has required it of you or are you doing it to please others?  Are you unnecessarily anxious and troubled about many things? Would your family benefit more from you seeking God's face first or feeding them breakfast?  Are you like me and need to get up earlier in order to dwell before His throne?  Let's do the One thing.  Paul said he didn't consider himself to have mastered it yet!  But he had a One thing!  To forget what was behind and press on toward the goal (sanctification) to win the prize for which God called Him.  We are women and He has designed us for many unique purposes.  But He has designed all of us for One Thing:  To glorify Him and enjoy Him forever! (Romans 11:36)

I pray my one thing is never anything apart from what He has ordained it to be.  I pray it for you too.
Let us live out our glorious design by serving our families.  But let's press on toward the goal which God has called us to and let's abide in Him, seek His face and gaze upon His beauty.  Take a deep breath.  Do the One Thing!


"Blessed are they who do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled."  Matthew 5:6

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Book Review: Sharing Christ with the Dying

Sharing Christ with the Dying

Title: Sharing Christ with the Dying
Author: Melody Rossi
Publisher: Bethany House
ISBN: 978-0-7642-1165-2














From the back cover:  When your friend or family member is facing death, here is the help you need to share Christ in a loving, non-confrontational way.  It will show you how to:

  • Serve in ways that speak louder than words
  • Respond to signs of spiritual openness
  • Discuss maters of eternal importance
  • Cope with the ups and downs of this difficult time
In addition, this book offers you spiritual care, answering your questions about end-of-life issues, and addressing your grief and loss.

And this book does just that!  Being a pastor's wife and sharing ministry life with my husband for over 20 years, I know first-hand how necessary and important it is to have a book like this available. Melody Rossi so sweetly shares from her experiences with three close family members in a way that shows not only her heart and compassion for her loved-ones, but her greater love for the Gospel message.

I so appreciated how she begins the book by opening up about her own experiences, fears, submission and obedience to God.  She shares the importance of sharing Christ with the dying, but from someone who has been through the trial and can relate to those readers who are or have experienced the same journey.

In part 2 of the book, Rossi so aptly lays out the tools needed on this journey.

  • A Road Map (Know the Destination)-Rossi marks what the road will look like, landmarks to watch for, and how to keep focused on where you are going with the gospel (knowing how to share the gospel and not get side-tracked with debates or other derailments).
  • Sturdy Shoes (For the Rugged Terrain): Preparing to serve your loved one as you sacrificially walk them, prayerfully, home.
  • GPS (To Keep You on Track): Trusting God's plan and the Holy Spirit's guidance.
  • Emergency Information (Documents You Will Need):  Discussing Living Wills, DNR order and other special circumstances, as well as basic documents.
  • Traveler's Assistance (When You Feel Lost and Weary): Calling for help, having your own support team, your church, etc.
This section was so practical and full of loving reminders.  I know it would be a great resource for those finding themselves in this position and not having the time nor the mental capacity to process the needs she so graciously points out.

Part 3 speaks to the reader about not turning back, the realities of spiritual warfare, and endurance while Part 4 lovingly explains about the journey's end: what it might look like and how to cope during the grieving process.

I know I keep using the word "sweet", but the overwhelming sense of kindness, care and concern in this book is one of its greatest offerings.  Rossi speaks from an obvious heart of love and with a desire to help others be used, for His glory, in this unique and often overlooked ministry. Too many just rely on the minister to attend to those nearing the end of life.  A minister has a calling to lead us biblically and teach us God's truth, but we are all called to go out and share His Truth.  I love this excerpt from the book:

"How will God use me?  Recently I took a trip to the Philippines to visit missionaries working with Wycliffe Bible Translators.  I was amazed to see how many different types of missionaries there are! Administrators, accountants, bookkeepers, office personnel, school teachers, librarians, computer experts, construction workers, medical staff, and of course, linguists are all needed for the work of Bible translation...The work of sharing Christ's love with the dying is similar.  While the main objective is to introduce the person to Christ, the small seemingly unimportant duties are often what allow this to be accomplished.  Instead of talking directly about God, you may first find yourself providing a meal or transportation.  Ordinary tasks such as these have incredible impact on an unbeliever, and often, sharing the Gospel cannot otherwise happen.  God will reveal to you how He wants to use you to share His love.  For now, the most important thing you can do is decide to walk along with the person for a little while.  So put on your shoes and trust that everything will be made clear to you as you travel."


This book is not only full of heart felt and loving encouragement, but is also laid out almost like a guidebook.  It will be such a great tool for someone right in the middle of loving and serving someone at the end of their life. This is an easy pick-up-and-read book while also a handbook to keep alongside to refer to for insight, instruction and encouragement.  This would be a great resource for ministers and all Christians alike to have on hand to give to those in the hour of need.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Wisdom from the Word-Weekly Series #3

Question of the week:

Do we need friends?

The short answer:  no

The long answer:  yes


The short answer is no for a couple of reasons (and I promise this is the short answer :)  No, because of the word "need" in the question.  The only thing we need, according to God's Word, is Christ and His Word.  Those two things alone will sustain us.  Okay...you are saying, "but we need air, food, clothing, money, etc."  Yes, but in essence, if we get down to what we REALLY need, we only need Him. We don't "need" to actually even live!   As sinners destined to hell we NEED a Savior.  That is the first and greatest need for every single human being.  After that, He tells us clearly, "Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart." (Psalm 37:4)  And, "But seek His Kingdom and all these things will be added to you."(Luke 12:31)  If you found yourself in the place where you literally had nothing but Christ, you would have all you need!  He is the greatest Friend. One of my favorite songs is Hallelujah, All I Have is Christ!


But the long answer is Yes!  Of course, you know I am going to define friend right now!  You just can't go forward with questions like these without everyone being on the same page!  What is a need? And what constitutes a friend?  More specifically, how does the Bible define a friend?  


friend

  [frend] 
noun
1.
a person attached to another by feelings of affection or personal regard.
2.
a person who gives assistance; patronsupporter: friends of the Boston Symphony.
3.
a person who is on good terms with another; a person who is not hostile: Who goes there? Friend or foe?
4.
a member of the same nation, party, etc.


Jesus gives us a beautiful definition of a friend and because it is from Him, it is the perfect definition and the One we should base all our thoughts about friendship on!

 "Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command. I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master's business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you" (John 15:13-15).

Jesus fulfilled this definition by laying down His life, in obedience to the Father, for His friends...us!  Wow.
But, before He laid down His life, He lived it out for our benefit and made everything He had learned from His Father known to us.  How did He live it out?

  • He was a friend to sinners:  So many examples in scripture!  In Mark 2:15 he is found reclining and eating with sinners.  In Luke 7 a sinful woman anoints Jesus feet with her hair. In John 8 we see how Jesus lovingly interacts with the adulterous woman who is about to be stoned.  And in Luke 19 we have Zaccheus!  How can we forget Zaccheus? I'm sure you can think of many other examples. My favorite example is me! "But God demonstrates His own love toward us in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us" (Romans 5:7-8).
  • He encouraged His followers: All the promises in scripture, all the ways He comforts, exhorts and even admonishes.  His ministry on the earth was full of selfless service toward mankind
So with Christ as our friend, and Him as our example of a friend (by the way, that ^was not a true study of Christ's ministry---for all my scholarly friends!)...where does that leave us with all this friend business?

Well, besides Jesus being our great example, scripture also gives us other examples and great verses about friendship.  And (for those scholarly friends), John MacArthur teaches us that the Old Testament gives three different words for friend:

  • "rayah" -an associate, someone you keep company with.  English equivalent would be acquaintance.  Proverbs 18:24 "A man who has friends must first show himself friendly".  This is probably the majority of your friendships. And the majority of your Facebook friend list :).
  • "alooth" - to be gentle or familiar with.  This is taking the friend term a step further.  Close friends.  The ones you love to spend time with or remain close to even if distance comes between you.  These are usually few but precious.
  • "ahave" - intimate, close companion.  This is the friendship used in the second half of Proverbs 18:24 when it speaks about a friend(ahave) sticking closer than a brother.An intimate friend that you feel so blessed to have.  The ones that fit into the category of the old saying, "if you can count your true friends on one hand, you are truly blessed." This would also be in the category of comrade-a term my husband uses so much to describe those men who are friends that will stick by you, hold you up, and encourage you.  The ones who have a common goal and are in the realm of a Christian brother and fellow soldier for Christ!  The kind of intimacy so beautifully shown in the friendship of Jonathan and David. Ahave is also the word used in John 15 mentioned above.
So, yes (told you this was the long answer) we need friends in this life!  Christ was first the ultimate friend meeting our greatest need, but while we are here on this earth, He has given us three vital things:  His Word which is His love letter to us, the Holy Spirit who is our comforter, and His people to encourage and edify one another.  We look to Christ as our example.  We seek Him and His kingdom through His Word as to how we are to live, we rely on the Holy Spirit to guide and strengthen us in obedience, and we pour all that we have learned out on other people in order to imitate Christ and to be a biblical friend.



You know, this question was asked by a friend on her facebook page and, while I can't share all the responses she got (there were so many!), I thought some of them really captured the heart of why God has given us the treasure of friendships and why we "need" them:

"So that you know that you are not alone."

"Because the bible says,'Two are better than one,because thy have a good return for their labor:  If either of them falls down, one can help the other up.  But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up.  Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm.  But how can one keep warm alone?  Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.'"Eccl. 4:9-12

"Because they bless us, care for us, love us"

"Yes, so we can pray for one another"

"I've gone through seasons where I didn't have many friends, or don't see them...but in those times I did grow closer to God."

"It's quality, not quantity"

"Friends are the family God lets you choose"

"Friends are the beautiful blossoms of the tree of life"

"I think having friends helps us fulfill a higher purpose.  We serve our families every day but it takes more to be in the service of others.  Friends serve one another in many ways and when we are in the service of another, we are in the service of the Lord.  Many of His works are carried out through the love of friends."

I really love that last one!  To me that sums it up so beautifully!  If we follow the example of our Truest Friend, we will see that really means serving and loving others as we want to be loved.  Obeying the greatest commandments: "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and soul and mind...and love you neighbor as yourself..."(Matthew 22:37-40) brings us to the essence and reason for friendship.

There is a great quote that goes like this: 

 I went outside to find a friend and couldn't find any and went out to be a friend and found many. (author unknown)


So do we need friends?  Maybe we need to step back and see that what we really "need" is not friends, but to be a friend!


So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus,  Philippians 2:1-30


********************************************************************************
Well, the question, of course, was asked: "Do our kids need friends?"  Though all the same scripture applies, there are other aspects to this!  Would love to hear your thoughts and maybe we will tackle this question in an upcoming Wisdom from the Word!





















Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Wisdom From the Word Series: How to Comfort One Another

 
This week's question is taken not only from women who have asked it of me, but also a question I have asked others many times myself:  
How do you comfort someone who has gone through a loss (Miscarriage, loss of a loved one, etc)?


I have quite a few friends who have experienced miscarriages and always try to ask-after an appropriate amount of time-what is most comforting to them during times of such grief.  You have probably experienced, like myself, that completely useless feeling as you attempt to find that balance between just being there for them and finding words to say.  Truthfully, sometimes we "need" to do or say something as much for ourselves as for our dear friends who are hurting.  Though it is not nearly the same, we ache for our friends and desire to do something to comfort and take the pain away.

Of course, there are many promises and verses of comfort from the Word.  And all my friends express to me that God brings His Word to their mind and uses it to minister to them in a way nothing else can. But, we often feel trite or even insensitive as we just tell them to lean on God's Word and it will be okay.  I recently had a young lady tell me she was exasperated with people telling her, regarding a struggle, to just read the Word and lean on Him.  Her response-"WHAT DO YOU THINK HAS BEEN SUSTAINING ME ALL THIS TIME?!?"

So what do we do?  What do we say?  I have not gone through the heartbreak of a miscarriage or a tragic loss and I admit to having to lean heavy on the promises that God will see me through and give me His grace to stand up under it when the time comes. (James 1).

Not long after a friend went through a loss, I read this article called In Her Shoes from the blog
Grace Covers Me.  In her guest post, Angela Basset shares her story of what it is like to lose a child and how to minister to others going through similar tragedy.  She says it so much better than I ever could, and I think it is so appropriate to hear from someone who has gone through this, through God's grace, and is now using the trial to bring glory to God as she comforts others.

Please take time to click on the links above and read her article along with some great insight on how we can serve each other during the time of loss.

I would love to hear from you as well!  Please comment here and tell your story.  Maybe share what God has used to comfort you.  Maybe what NOT to do during those times.  Leave a comment below or on the Living Out God's Design Facebook page.


Galatians 6:2 - Bear ye one another's burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Series: Wisdom from the Word-Week 2







Our second question for the Wisdom from the Word series comes from a discussion we had in our ladies bible study recently.  Someone asked:

In what manner should a Christian woman compliment another
woman on her physical appearance?

I thought this was such a great question.  I don't know about you, but I am a VERY observant person! Sometimes to a fault!  I mean, in this already multi-tasking mom head of mine, I am also very aware of little details of everything around me! At church I can carry on a conversation with someone while also being aware of the lady in the wheelchair needing help out of her pew,checking to see if Jeff is getting to talk to the visitors at the back of the church, and if the new mom is trying to wrangle a toddler while strapping the baby in the stroller.  But, for some reason I am unaware that one of my children is scarfing down the donuts as if I never feed him and the twins are doing military maneuvers underneath the pews?!?  All that to say, when I see someone at church or out and about in town I'm all, "Ooh!  I love your new haircut" or "Girl, where did you get those cute earrings {shoes, lipstick, purse, et. al all things girly}." I notice.  And I can't help commenting that I notice.  Sometimes it does occur to me that maybe my introductory remarks are shallow.  But, I don't get out much!  And when I do it is like live Pinterest for me! 


But seriously, let's examine this topic against God's Word.  I sincerely do want everything I do and say to bring glory to God.

So, the ladies and I hashed this out together and sought the scriptures for answers as opposed to what we "think" or our opinions.  Which, you know how that can go...hahaha.

Of course, questions first have to be asked about motives.  What is the heart motive behind the compliment?  
Proverbs 16:2 says, "All the ways of a man are pure in his own eyes, but the Lord weighs the spirit."

Job 31:4 says, "Does he not see my ways and count my every step?"

And Proverbs 23:15 "My son if your heart is wise, my heart too will be glad."

Psalm 26:2 "Examine me, O Lord, and try me; test my mind and my heart."

Some of us may be natural encouragers!  We compliment to bring a smile to someone's face or to cheer them up.  That could be a heart motive that has good intentions.  Sometimes we are guilty of complimenting another because we are feeling insecure about ourselves and hope the compliment will ensure a gratuitous compliment back.  That could be a heart motive, but with selfish desires and intentions.  Sometimes we compliment as a conversation starter or as a way to open the door to meet someone new.  

Along with examining our heart motives, we also need to understand the difference between a compliment and flattery.  Many times these two will go hand in hand:  A compliment usually accompanies a pure heart motive, while flattery is often used for selfish gain.
These two words are actually direct opposites!  One is to be courteous and the other one is the practice of not being sincere!  And if you are like me, you can tell the difference between the two when you are on the receiving end!  The trouble comes in that we are not so 20/20 about our heart motives when we are are the ones handing them out!  Our hearts like to deceive us and we don't especially like bringing that to light.



com·pli·ment

noun \ˈkäm-plə-mənt\
: a remark that says something good about someone or something
: an action that expresses admiration or approval


flat·tery

 noun \ˈfla-tə-rē\
: praise that is not sincere
1
a :  the act or practice of flattering
(1) :  something that flatters 
(2) :  insincere or excessive praise


So what does the bible say?  Well, on one hand, Psalm 15:23 says, "A man has joy in an apt answer.  And how delightful is a timely word!" And Proverbs 12:25 similarly says, "Anxiety weighs down the heart,but a kind word cheers it up."  A compliment, with a pure heart motive to encourage a brother or sister, and more importantly, to share the gospel with one who has no hope, is a timely word, delightful, and cheery!

On the other hand, the bible warns us very strongly about flattery:

Proverbs 29:5-"A man who flatters his neighbor spreads a net for his feet."

Proverbs 26:24-28-"Whoever hates disguises himself with his lips and harbors deceit in his heart; when he speaks graciously, believe him not, for there are seven abominations in his heart; though his hatred be covered with deception, his wickedness will be exposed in the assembly.  Whoever digs a pit will fall into it, and a stone will come back on him who starts it rolling.  A lying tongue hates its victims, and a flattering mouth works ruin."

Psalm 12:3 -"May the Lord cut off all flattering lips, the tongue that makes great boasts,"

Pretty strong.  I would say that the words we speak and the motives in our hearts are very important to God!  "Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Your sight, O LORD my Rock and my Redeemer." Psalm 19:14.

So how shall we, as Christian women, compliment one another?  If we are to be set apart and different from the world, then we should compliment according to what will bring God glory.  From our heart motives to how it will encourage, cheer and delight the receiver.

The world tears down and belittles.  It portrays a beauty that is only outward and unrealistically attainable.  The message from the world's standards is discouraging and defeating.  There is much exaggeration done for personal benefit and notoriety.  There is an emphasis on the outward and little to none on the inward man.  The world is more concerned with being happy instead of being holy.  The world, rightly, desires the approval of men and not God.

As Christians, we are called to encourage one another in the Lord.  We do that by complimenting one another on the things that God deems as good, beautiful and praise worthy. So as we seek to rightly and biblically compliment and encourage one another, keep these truths from God's Word at the forefront of our minds and hearts. 

When is the last time we complimented someone on the beauty of their gentle and quiet spirit?  Oh, jewelry, clothing and braiding hair is not forbidden (yay!), but they should pale in comparison to the adorning of the Spirit in our lives!

1 Peter 3:3-4 " Do not let your adorning be external-the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear-but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God's sight is very precious."

How about acknowledging God's work in a woman's life and that evidenced by the fear of the Lord? One that radiates joy, peace and contentment?

Proverbs 31:30 "Charm is deceitful and beauty is vain, but a woman that fears the Lord, is to be praised."

Believe me I know it is easier to notice the new highlights or the cute bob haircut!  I know because the ladies and I at church have been working on this!  In our conversation you may hear something like this, "Whoa...that is such a cute skirt?  It looks SO good on...uh...um...my how lovely and modest and Christ honoring your skirt is!"  " I LOVE your new haircut!  I'm so jealous!  I've been dying to get mine...um...that haircut flatters your face and brings out the sparkle in your eyes and shows off your radiance for Jesus!"  All followed by whoops of laughter and hugs which lead to sweet conversation about all the ways He is sanctifying us!

Let us strive to encourage each other in the Lord!  Be quick to tell a sister how you see the Lord working in her life.  Be plentiful in your compliments as you see one another growing in grace, patience, forbearance and love.  Admire one another concerning spiritual gifts and spiritual victories!

Do it out of love for the Father and for each other with pure motives expecting nothing in return:
Acts 20:35 "In all things I have shown you that by working hard in the way (unity), we must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said,'It is more blessed to give than to receive '". (explanation mine)

Ephesians 4:29 "Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion that it may give grace to those who hear."
















Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Series: Wisdom from the Word

I am so excited...and a little nervous :)...to prayerfully begin a weekly blog post called Wisdom from the Word.
 It will be on Wednesdays.  Yes, because it starts with a W. :) And because it is the middle of the week and generally the time we all could use a little extra encouragement!  I have a few questions that I can use as back up, as well as some that our Ladies Bible Study has searched out together, but I would love to hear from you (use the contact form on this blog)!  Your name will never be mentioned and I would never betray your confidence. Please know that if you have a question you would like to ask but don't want me to answer it on the blog, just let me know.  Those close to me know they have that confidence, but I wanted to express it here as well. Another note:  the purpose of this weekly blog section is double fold...umm...maybe triple fold (tri-fold?...how do you say that?). Anyway,

1.  Of course, to answer your questions...but also so that many women will see that we have similar struggles.  They may not all look exactly the same, but I think it is helpful and strangely comforting to see that we are not the only ones with these questions and/or struggles.

2.  To dig into the Word together!  God's Word is our greatest source of wisdom and direction.  He has promised to meet all of our needs, He suffered and was tempted as we are, and His Word and promises are a comforting balm to a hurting soul.  What about those gray areas where God doesn't tell us point blank yay or nay or what to do?  I would say those gray areas are where most of our questions come from and His Word is still faithful to show and direct us to truth so we can rightly follow in His path.

3.  To dig into the Word together!  I know I just said that...but here is another aspect of it:  We need to be women in the Word.  We need to study it and know what it says.  For our own edification, for wisdom, and for direction--but also so that we have true wisdom to edify and encourage one another BIBLICALLY.  There are a lot of (us) women out there who are full of compassion, sympathy and empathy toward our sisters!  God made us that way and it is good.  But, just the care and compassion will only bring comfort temporarily (if at all).  We must couple that care and compassion with truth from God's Word as we are comforting one another.  (Read 1 Thess. 3 and 4) We should seek out women that we know will direct us to God's Word for answers. Likewise, we need to be the women who will direct others to seek God's Word for answers.  We are not to lean on our own understanding!  We must acknowledge Him and His ways and He will direct our paths!



Okay....here we go!  Question #1:

 My husband isn't being the spiritual leader.  I long for him to be.  I want him to lead us in family bible study.  I want him to pray with me.  I want HIM to make going to church a priority.  If he isn't, should I just do it or not?  I'm so confused!

This isn't the first time I have heard this question.  Bet it isn't the first time you have heard it either. Wonder if Christian men are continually asking each other: What should I do? My wife doesn't follow me.  I try to lead her, but she is so stubborn.  She doesn't do anything I ask because she thinks her way makes more sense.  I so want to lead her and love her as Christ loves the church but she won't let me! She questions me at every turn and then when I put my foot down she gives me the cold shoulder or waits for me to fail. I'm so tired of trying.  I give up.  Let her lead.  She does everything else-and better than me- she might as well do this too.

Dear reader that asked this question...I am not saying this is you.  But it might be.  It has been me.  By God's grace He showed me early on in my marriage some of the ways I was hindering my husband being able to lead as God intended.  I still have to watch for sinful attitudes that lead me down that path. We all need to step back, always, and search our own hearts first: 

Luke 6:42
How can you say to your brother, ‘Brother, let me take out the speck that is in your eye,’ when you yourself do not see the log that is in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take out the speck that is in your brother’s eye.

Psalm 139:23-24
Search me, O God, and know my heart;Try me and know my anxious thoughts; And see if there be any hurtful way in me, and lead me in the everlasting way.

Let me first rejoice with you in gratitude to our Lord that you desire so earnestly what God desires!  It is God who has placed in your heart, as a woman, the love for biblical headship.  It is God who has given you the desire to pray and read God's Word with your husband and together as a family!  This is worth praising God for and rejoicing in the work He is doing in your heart.  Even the coming to someone for guidance is His loving hand leading you to truth and sanctification.

Second, I hear you!  This is hard.  Being a godly wife and mother is a big, wonderful, tough job!  We need God's grace, guidance, strength and power!  And we need our husbands!  Without going into a long 10 page bible study on how God gives us this need for our husbands, let's simply remember this truth:

Mark 10:6-9

"But at the beginning of creation God 'made them male and female.'  'For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife,  and the two will become one flesh.' So they are no longer two, but one.  Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate."

God has made us one flesh with our husbands.  They complete us.  We need them! And I'm so glad!

Thirdly, though I rejoice in where God is leading you and I hear where you are coming from, I also know something important:  We can't make anyone be what they are supposed to be!  Oh, sure, we can whine, beg, use the silent treatment, give wife speeches, and all the other tricks we have in our fleshly wife arsenal....but those only put a band-aid, maybe, on the situation.  You can't change your husband and you can't make him be the spiritual leader he ought to be.  That is solely a working of the Holy Spirit in his life.

So what can you do? Well, the hard thing.  First, humble yourself before God and ask Him to help you. Ask Him to start by showing you if you are doing anything or have done anything to derail your husband's attempts at leading.  Reread God's directives for you as a woman and ask Him to show you areas where you are not being faithful and obedient.  Maybe you are, by His strength, doing all He has commanded you. Praise God.  If that is the case, press on sister!  Continue to walk in His truth by His grace.  He will be faithful to fulfill His perfect will in you and do the work He desires to do in your husband.  I have seen first-hand and heard many testimonies that attest to God doing mighty things in the lives of husbands because of the faithfulness of wives. And to answer the second part of the question...it is always good to read and study God's Word.  Read and study the bible with your children.  Just don't do it in a way that would undermine or shame him.  We have bible time together every morning before we begin school and my husband isn't here. Maybe you could find a time like that where you could teach the children.

Maybe after sincerely praying and asking God to search your heart, He has shown you some areas you need to repent of and possibly seek forgiveness from your husband. Have you placed yourself under his authority? Truly? Are you asking for his opinion or wisdom for situations?  When he does make a decision for the direction of your family do you lovingly and joyful submit?  Do you use manipulative submission?  That is, do you convince him to make a decision based on your wants and then "submit"? 
Do you fix all the problems/issues but then complain to him that you have to do everything?  Do you love him by honoring him?  Do you let him know how grateful you are for him?  Are you "independent" or do you let him know that you need him, look to him, and depend on him in various ways?  They may not always show it, but our men need to be needed!  They love to show us they can and will take care of us. They want to be our hero and protector.  We multi-tasking super women need to step back and let them be what God created them to be!  And we need to remember what God created us to be. We are their help meets (aid, helper, right hand)!  (Gen.2:18)

So, the short answer (ha ha) is this:  Live out God's design for you as a wife.  Purpose to be deliberate about obeying God in how He would have you love and serve your husband.  In His divine plan, He will do a work in your husband.  It may not look the way you think it should-but His ways are higher than ours!  In the meantime, you will have a joy and peace knowing you are walking in obedience to the Father, regardless of what He chooses to do in the life of your husband.  You will grow in the midst of His grace and your children will see and learn so much from watching you trust in Him!

1 Peter 3:1-22
Likewise, wives, be subject to your own husbands, so that even if some do not obey the word, they may be won without a word by the conduct of their wives, when they see your respectful and pure conduct. Do not let your adorning be external—the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear— but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God's sight is very precious.

Proverbs 31:11
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.