Okay, so I am currently on a diet. I started it, let’s see…around 1992. I should be nearly invisible by now, I know, but nursing school, marriage and 3 kids need to be taken into account. As well as 25 years of holidays and birthdays. I probably should just be happy with my current weight considering all that, right? (Joking aside and truth be told it isn’t about my size, it is the idolization of food in my life. I’m on a quest to stop bowing to my stomach and seeking consolation in calories [see Phil. 3:19 and 1 Cor. 10:31]).
It was brought to my attention that when I diet, it affects the whole family. I don’t cook as often and I don’t buy as much food (flee temptation!). I also don’t bake if I can help it (don’t mix up and eat temptation raw, that should be in the Bible too). My 12 year old, Peyton, takes notice of all of this. He is where I got the title. For the first few weeks of my diet, he would proclaim to anyone who would listen, “Mom is on a diet, so ALL of us are STARVING!” He wanted everyone to know he was suffering and I was responsible.
Peyton has lightened up a little on the complaints (Easter candy helped), but it made me realize the influence we moms have on our homes. Do the “little” things we do really affect the family that much? The clear and decisive answer is YES! But I think you already knew that. How many of us have tried to take a night off of cooking and suddenly everyone is irritable and confused (You didn’t make dinner? What are we supposed to eat?!?). When we are having a bad day and get grumpy, how long is it before everyone in the house is grumpy and having a bad day? Yes, we wives and moms have great, influential power over our families. But…we need to be very careful with that “power”.
Ladies, this blog today is not about food or dieting. It is actually about starving. Some of you are starving yourselves and in effect starving your families too. How do I know this? Well, I have been talking to some of you. And I have observed some of you. And I have been listening to many of you. And I have seen the Facebook posts. Some of you are emaciated and your family is suffering. They may not shout, “Mom isn’t reading her Bible, so all of us are starving for encouragement, grace and love!” But they are expressing it one way or another if you are paying attention.
When we skip (or skimp) on reading our Bible there will be effects. God tells us, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.” (Matt.4:4) and “It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh is no help at all. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life.” (John 6:63). God’s Word is the Source of life, that makes it essential for living.
Separating yourself from the living waters of God will cause you to dry up and produce thorns, these thorns will pierce those around you. It is difficult and painful to love a thorn bush. Don’t make your husband and children try to do that. Stop the insanity of denying yourself what you most deeply need. Exercise your faith and dive in. Let your soul be refreshed and replenished with God’s Word. Begin to produce fruit that will bless those around you.
Read Psalm 19:7-8, “The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul; the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple; the precepts of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes;”. In just a few consecutive lines we get a glimpse of the value of reading God’s Word - it revives, makes wise, brings joy to the heart and enlightens our eyes! This is what we need in our homes.
Stop the starving. Love those around you well by reaching for scripture throughout your day. Just like oxygen on an airplane, put yours on first so that you can then help the ones you love. Act like God’s word is your lifeline and like you can’t survive without it…because you can’t. I have not met a single person on earth who is too busy to read the Bible and you won’t be the first. No excuses.
The best thing you can do to help your man, encourage your child, love a screaming baby, fold laundry with joy, discipline with wisdom, or fill a house with grace is to read God’s Word daily. It is only God’s Word that can accomplish these ordinary, yet divine purposes in our lives. If mom has joy in her heart and praise for God on her lips, her husband and children will be blessed by it. Her home will be a sanctuary and a place of peace and God will be glorified.
There are so many adjectives I’m often tempted to place at the end of that sentence. How about the rest of you wives? Let’s be honest, the words we may pick run the gamut of our emotions and they may change minute by minute depending on what our husband has said or done (or not said or done). Sometimes it feels like a rollercoaster of a relationship…but that’s not the way God desires it. So, today, I want to help you fill in that blank the right way and in permanent marker.
This blog will post on Phil’s and my 15th wedding anniversary. This may seem like pocket change to many (including my parents and in-laws who will each be celebrating 49 years of marriage this year!). But, for Phil and me this feels fairly monumental. You see, we really didn't enjoy those first several years of marriage (nope, no honeymoon phase for us). We struggled.
So, to all you wives who would like to fill in that blank with some not-so-nice words, I’m here to tell you I’ve been there. I still get caught there at times. But there is a better way and it brings great hope. Not just “suck-it-up-buttercup” type hope (though there is a good dose of that now and then); I’m talking about real hope for a marriage with joy, peace…and kind words.
Several years ago, Phil and I went to a Christian marriage retreat hoping to improve our relationship. Before posing the fill-in-the-blank question above, they had us do this one: “My husband/wife is not _________.” We were told to fill in the blank with "my enemy". In my notes I wrote, "My husband is not my enemy." Phil enjoyed that little nugget for a few years. I would grumble at him for making some mess and he would throw up his arms and say, "Hey, I'm not the enemy here!" Thank you, Weekend to Remember.
After assuring us that our spouse was not on the opposite side of the battle lines (we have one true enemy and that is Satan), they continued on and told us to fill in the next blank with "gift from God". So I wrote, "My husband is a gift from God." I kind of gagged on that one. All I could picture was Phil with a big bow on his head and a cheesy smile on his face. Half of me wanted to laugh and the other half wanted to frantically look for a gift receipt.
Don’t get me wrong, I agree with the point they were making. But “gift” wasn’t doing it for me. I do find many verses in the Bible that support wives as being gifts (Gen. 2:18-22, Prov. 12:4, 18:22, 31:10), but husbands are not spoken of in the same way.
What I do find often is God assigning a portion to us (our lot) and being assured that it is for our good and his glory. For example, Paul in 1 Corinthians 7:17, after talking about the principles of marriage says this, “Only let each person lead the life that the Lord has assigned to him, and to which God has called him.” If you are married, your husband is part of the life that God has assigned to you. This is a divine assignment and a calling from the Lord. It is not something that should be shrugged off or taken casually, we are not to leave our husbands (Matt. 19:6, 1 Cor. 7:10).
In addition, Psalm 16:5 states, “The LORD is my chosen portion and my cup; you hold my lot.” Verse 2, same chapter reads, “I say to the LORD, “You are my Lord; I have no good apart from you.” In simple words, what we are given in life comes from God and everything that comes from God is good (for those who are his, see Rom. 8:28). With God we have good, without God we have misery. If God desires that we stay in our marriages (and he does), then that is where the “good” will be found for us. It is that simple.
Wives, God chose your exact husband just for you. He is precisely what you need to make you more like Christ. He is one of the primary instruments in your life used for your sanctification. This is a great blessing! No, it doesn’t always feel like one. The process of cutting away sin is never comfortable, but it is always worth it. God uses your husband to teach you how to love other sinners and how to give grace to those who hurt you. God uses him to teach you how to exercise patience and self-control.
Your husband and you were put together in order that God’s glory would be multiplied through your relationship. There is no greater honor than this. Here is where your hope and purpose is found. This is why peace, joy and kindness can be found between two sinners.
So are you ready for what I like to write in that blank? Here it is: “My husband is a divine assignment from God for my good and God’s glory alone.” Okay, so it’s a little long, but it provides some clarity. Is it just a fancy way of saying that my husband is a gift from God? Maybe, but I still like it better (and it keeps the gag reflex in check).
Ladies, I encourage you to live out your God-ordained destiny in your marriage.
For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. – Romans 1:19-20
Everything, everything, everything screams “Jesus!” I’m no biblical scholar and I’ve never been to seminary, but I love the Bible and have studied it for years on my own (that is what every Christian does, right?). Even to a lay person like me, it is blatantly obvious. From the first days of creation to the one boat in a worldwide flood to the blood sacrifice at Jewish Passover to the kings and prophets – the Bible is all about Jesus Christ the Messiah. It is no wonder Jesus is called the Word (see John 1:1, 14, Luke 24:27 and Rev. 19:13), he is the Bible with skin on.
If you think the display of who Christ is and what he has done is limited to Scripture you are very mistaken. Today I want to shift your attention to what God is declaring in the world all around you. He is NOT done talking about his son. Jesus is too wonderful to be held to one large volume of print. Jesus is too great to be limited to preaching on Sundays and small groups on Wednesdays. Jesus is too powerful to be regulated, governed or managed. And praise God that he is!
Not only has God determined that his Son should be declared in all of the good ways listed above but also that his qualities should be clearly seen through what he has made (see Romans 1:20 above!). The entire Universe screams “Jesus!” just like everything else. How? Let’s look at two very simple ways.
…BUT first, two important points for us to keep in mind. 1 - No creation is divine, no creation is a part of God. Creation is a way that God displays his attributes, but creation does not contain God. That is called “pantheism” and is heresy. 2 – The way that God reveals himself to us in a personal way will always be his Word, the Bible. Hearing or reading the gospel is what brings us to a saving faith in Jesus, not pretty clouds or majestic mountains. These things cause us to praise God but not know him. Guard your hearts, Ladies. Now let’s continue…
Spring is here and we love it. It is the topic of conversation and it changes how we spend our days. We long to be outside…experiencing what? Experiencing this re-birth of our earth! What was dead is coming to life again. We see trees budding, flowers stretching and brown landscapes turning bright green. Creation is acting differently - the birds are chirping, the fish are biting, and the kids are running. There is a resurrection happening all around us, are you noticing?
God allows a time of increased darkness, cold, and barrenness then follows it with a warming that thaws the earth and awakens what has been “asleep”. This stirs something in us because it is supposed to. It is another display of what Jesus did in dying for us under the wrath of his Father while paying the penalty of our sins. He was dead in the grave for a time, yet death could not keep him. He rose again to life and now radiates a beauty and perfection that we can enjoy (if we are believers). We bask in the goodness of our Savior, like we do the beauty of good spring weather.
This regeneration period for the earth begins when the earth’s position shifts in relation to the sun. Our day/night cycles are also regulated by our position to the sun. Why the sun? Because of the S-O-N. Just as each season is a reminder of the resurrection of our Savior so is each and every sunrise. Moving from darkness to light is one of the primary analogies used in the Bible (see the book of John). Jesus himself said, “I am the light of the world.” (John 8:12). Why would God not make this evident to us every day we breathe? Psalm 19:2 says, “Day to day pours out speech,” and that this voice “goes through all the earth,” (v. 4). It is worldwide reminder of Jesus, day after day.
Spring and sunrises –comparisons to the resurrection of Jesus - could it be that simple? Yes! As Romans 1:19 says, “For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them.” God has kept it simple, we don’t have to wonder or look far. Just take notice and give praise.
If you think this is silliness, you may fall under Romans 1:18 which speaks of those “who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth.” Be careful that you are not denying the obvious truth right in front of your face with every sunrise and new season that comes. For the wrath of God is revealed to those who take that position (v. 18). For the rest of us we gladly see it and rejoice in it. We are among those who “live by faith” (Romans 1:17) and “are not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes” (Romans 1:16).
“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the LORD.” – Isaiah 55:8. If I had gotten my way, I would have gone a different direction in life. I’m so glad God is in charge.
Ladies, I’m going to be vulnerable today and completely honest with you: I’ve never really liked women. They’ve always annoyed me like no other creature on this planet. Since the days of middle school pettiness to high school flakes to adult gossips and superficiality, women bother me. So when God began pushing me to minister to and teach other women, I pushed back. They were not the group I wanted to hang with.
Many of the women’s ministries I had been involved with in the past were mostly what I would call “huff and fluff”. They huffed a little about God’s Word and then added in the fluff to appeal to their flesh. They would look at a few verses and then hastily apply it to their lives. Always trying to reassure the fragile female ego that they are beautiful, loved and “okay”. This did nothing for me. I knew the sin in my life was not beautiful, I didn’t understand what love was and I certainly did not feel “okay”. I longed for something more.
I tried to avoid women’s groups most of my life. Then God began to push. He pushed me with his Word and by using persistent believers he placed in my life (if you don’t have pushy godly friends in your life, you need some). The suggestions of others surprised me and I heard myself say more than once, loud and clear, “But, I don’t like women!” I said it to others and I said it to God. However, God always gets his way…this woman who did not like women’s groups found herself at the front of one.
I have been ministering to women in one form or another for several years now. The heart-journey God has taken me on in this area has been amazing, but one of the most important things he has shown me is this: I do not really dislike women. What!?! You may think this is silly, but this came as a great shock to me and I’ve only realized it in the last few years. Here is the truth of the matter: it is easy to dislike someone until God calls you to love them.
What I do dislike in women is the sin they display. The attributes of pettiness, superficiality, gossiping, interest in material possessions and self-indulgence are all sins women fall prey to easily (myself included!). These are what were turning me off of my own gender and what I was allowing to cloud my view of them. I was not seeing them for what they were - women in desperate need of the qualities of Jesus Christ. If they were saved, they didn’t know how to act like it. If they were not saved, Jesus was their only hope. How could I let my distaste for sins (that I often displayed myself) get in my way of showing them the truth found in God’s Word? I repent of this attitude I held for so long.
Now the other side of this is vital! It doesn’t end with simply not disliking women. It goes further because it has to. I can now honestly say that I love women and I love ministering to women. Why? For the treasure involved. Little else in all of creation is more beautiful than a godly woman. If you want to see something rare and spectacular, find a woman who fears the Lord above all else in her life. Find a woman who is humble and eager to serve. Who fills her marriage with grace, trains up her children in scripture and is an encourager to those around her. Find a woman who is diligent in her work and whose mouth is full of wisdom and solid counsel. A woman whose strength is found in her gentle nature and quiet spirit. Find a woman called by God and devoted to following after her Savior, Jesus Christ.
This is the woman God declares praise-worthy (wow!) in Proverbs 31: “Charm is deceitful and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.” A woman like this is said to be “far more precious than jewels” (Proverbs 31:10), “the crown of her husband” (Proverbs 14:4) and possessing a beauty that is “precious to God” (1 Peter 3:4). I agree, a godly woman is a treasure beyond measure and brings great glory to her God. This is what I want to help women display more of in their lives.
The women in the fluffy studies from years ago were in desperate need of understanding more about Jesus. They needed deep biblical guidance, not craft time and pretty centerpieces. Women of today are no different. They need to be shown the riches that are found in Jesus alone. It is in him we find our value…in ourselves…and in each other. I will minister to women for the rest of my life, whether formally or informally. God has taught me to love them and now I can do nothing else.