I have already offended many of you with just with my title alone, but I don’t believe there is R.I.P. or “rest in peace” after death. This phrase alleges that after you die you can relax and take it easy after the busy or painful life you left behind. Like you can finally take that nice long nap you have always wanted. What a great picture for the rest of us left on Earth to imagine, it simply makes us feel better about this whole dying thing.
So here’s my beef, the Word of God tells us that there are only two options after death and neither involves nap time.
Option 1: Easy Street to Hell - This is the more popular option and many take this route. I hesitate to say (because it hurts) that the vast majority decide to take this option. This road is well paved and easy to travel on. It has been used many times before and will be very comfortable. You will have many friends and family traveling this road with you. It is nice and broad and can accommodate a wide variety of people. Don’t just take my word for it, Matthew 7:13, “…For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many.”
The main problem with option 1 is the final destination, which is Hell. Hell is a real place. Here are just a few descriptions you may find in the brochure:
They will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might, 2 Thessalonians 1:9
In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Matthew 13:50
And the smoke of their torment goes up forever and ever, and they have no rest, day or night, these worshipers of the beast and its image, and whoever receives the mark of its name.” Revelation 14:11
So if you go with option 1, there will be no resting in peace. You will be too busy weeping and gnashing your teeth in the tormenting darkness away from the Lord, never allowed to close your eyes in sleep again.
Option 2: Hard and Rocky Road to Heaven - This is a much less popular option and not many choose it. The path that leads to Heaven is narrow and difficult. Matthew 7:14 – “For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.” The trail is bumpy and usually doesn’t seem to make sense. There are twists and turns, ups and downs. Sometimes you feel like you are the only one on it. Your friends don’t understand why you would choose such a path; it doesn’t make any sense to them. Many times the path can be dangerous. But then there is the final destination…Heaven!
Now if you think you are going to rest in Heaven, you are oh so mistaken. The last thing on your mind will be rest. You will be so energized by being in the presence of your Savior that you will never want to close your eyes again. You will never be able to get enough of Jesus and you will be too full of joy, love and yes, peace to take a nap. Trust me…it won’t even cross your mind.
So there is no R.I.P. in the worldly way of looking at things; no naptime and no eternal slumber. But you can have rest from your struggles and know true peace by being with your Savior in Heaven. In Heaven there will be no more troubles, fear, pain, or cancer. “He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” Revelation 21:4. This is a solid promise from God, but only for those who are in Heaven. Only those who have travelled the narrow path while here on Earth.
So, how do you find the narrow path? Well, for starters, it’s not a place, it is a person. John 14:6 - Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. The narrow path we must travel is directly in step with our savior, Jesus Christ. We must believe in him and receive him and then are given the gift of being adopted as a child of God (John1:12). When you are part of the family you get to live where the Father lives, in Heaven.
Whether you know it or not, you are already on one of these paths. Check under your feet, are you planted on the solid rock of Jesus Christ or are you just “going with the flow”, agreeing with the world and strolling along Easy Street toward Hell? Choose quickly and choose wisely, your final destination matters.
Sold. I knew as soon as I read the label on that pair of jeans hanging on the rack, they would be the ones I would buy. The lure of a better appearance just by slipping them on was overwhelmingly appealing. The marketing department knew exactly what they were doing. Had they been honest, the label may have read, “Get some exercise and eat less, Tubby, then you can really be 10 pounds thinner and won’t have to fake it anymore!” Not a good way to make sales.
If we were to take a good, hard look at our lives my guess is that we could identify other areas where we also tend to “fake it”. For some it could be your financial status, you spend money you don’t always have and act as though you are very secure when maybe you are truly living paycheck to paycheck. For others it could be your home life. You act as though you have it all together when in reality you often feel like things are a mess and you can barely keep up.
These are important issues, but there is one area in which faking it can mean the difference between life and death...that is your spiritual life. I am sad to say, but I think MANY people are faking the wellbeing of their spiritual life. They may attend church (at least on the “important” Sundays), say the right things, and even carry around a Bible, but this is all for appearances. They may look and act the part very well, but inside they are dead. They don’t truly know Jesus. Could this be you?
Do you feel you are just going through the motions, do you ever stop and think, “What the heck am I doing this for?” Do you say you believe but then wonder what that even really means? Do you find yourself thinking people should keep their beliefs to themselves? Do you act differently depending where you are and who you are with?
If any of the above describes you, time to do a serious heart evaluation. Don’t take any of this lightly and don’t waste time. Matthew 10:28 - And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell. God is just and he will deal with those who are only pretending to serve him, the consequences are real.
How do you know if you are authentically following Christ? Here are a few ways: Check the fruit in your life. Matthew 7:16 - You will recognize them by their fruits. Your life should be producing godly fruit for the glory of God (see Galatians 5:22-23). Seek counsel; ask a trusted minister to help you evaluate your condition. Finally, ask yourself if you really know who Jesus is; are you able to articulate it? Better yet, do all three of these things.
What you DON’T want to do is compare yourself to others around you. There are too many fakers out there. If everyone who claimed to be a Christian was a Christian, the Bible would be a lie. Matthew 7:14 - For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few. The Bible is not a lie, it is solid truth. Make sure you are on the narrow path and not following others along easy street to destruction.
We can fool many around us, even those closest to us, but you will never fool God. God sees your heart and he knows what is inside of you. Let this cut you deep; you have to get this right. No more playing around or blindly following traditions taught by men. No amount of good deeds will get you into Heaven, only accepting the free gift of Jesus Christ. John 14:6 -I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. Know for certain.
An authentic relationship with your Savior may not make you look ten pounds thinner, but the evidence of his grace in your life and on your face will be glorious and beautiful, more attractive to others than any pair of jeans. Go ahead and fake your hair color, nail length and skin tone if you must, but let your relationship with Jesus Christ be the real deal.
Yep, I called that “s” word beautiful. That’s how I see it. Well…now anyway. I’m finally starting to get it. There were many years when that word would come up in a sermon like in Ephesians 5:24, “Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands,” I could feel my eyes rolling back in my head and the curtain would fall. No need to listen to rest of what the minister was going to say, I wasn’t interested.
It took a few years of growing in faith until I accepted that it was scripture from God and therefore true and valuable. However, even after a few years into our marriage, I didn’t put it into practice. It just didn’t seem practical, especially when my husband could be a total dope at times. Seems fair, right? I will submit to him when he shapes up and loves me like Christ loves the church (Ephesians 5:25), otherwise the deal is off.
Oh my…thank you God for being so patient with me. So how did I come to see beauty in submission instead of feeling it was an insult? I finally got my sight fixed. Instead of seeing these verses as a service to my husband alone, I realized it was my service to Christ. Phil was not calling me to submit, Jesus was. Why? Because he loves me like crazy and has plans to use our marriage in awesome ways if it is built up correctly. The more I get to know my Savior, the more I want to please and serve him. And, yes, I have discovered through trial and error (lots of error) that His way is ALWAYS best, no exceptions.
We need to get things straight, Ladies. If you think submission = weakness, inferiority, or conformity against better judgment you are sorely ignorant just like I was. Would you use these same qualities to describe Jesus? I don’t think so, probably just the opposite. In fact, Jesus is our perfect example of submission.
Jesus is God and therefore equal to God yet he was called to submission to fulfill his role in God’s plan. John 6:38 “For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me.” Jesus submitted to his Father God, even unto death. Matthew 26: 39, “And going a little farther he fell on his face and prayed, saying, ‘My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.’”
You can see that we as wives have been called to a very noble role indeed. One that Jesus powerfully undertook willingly. Yes, our husbands also model a role of Jesus through authority and leadership. That is the role they have been called to in service. We have separate but equal roles, Galatians 3:28 “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” So get that sense of inferiority out of your head right now (haven’t you read about the Proverbs 31 woman?).
As wives we have the authority and responsibility to share our wisdom, and provide discernment and input to our husbands as they make decisions, but they have the task of making the final call. They will not always choose right, but this does not relieve us of our calling from Christ. No, we should never follow our husbands into sin; God is still our absolute authority. However, we will not always agree on decisions made. This is a great time to use the dynamic power of submission to influence our husbands toward Christ. Pray for them, love them and serve them in a Christ-like fashion. You will be amazed at the changes these alone can bring about.
Take back what the Enemy is trying to steal from you in your marriage relationship. Don’t let the world twist the beauty that God has ordained. Submission holds incredible power and has life changing abilities when put into proper practice. It is a powerful position that God has placed his daughters in. Claim it as yours and wield it with style and passion.
Ladies, do you ever wonder what your husband would be like without you? Yes, he would probably survive but would he thrive like he does with you by his side? Do you make him better with how you treat him? Do the words you say to him cause him to want to lead better, to be more like Jesus for his family? These are some tough questions but good measures for how we are performing our role. They also show the potency of our gifts as helpers in marriage. Are you a help to your husband, do you add honor to his life… or take it away?
God created man in such a way that he is better when woman is there by his side helping him as no one else can. I encourage you to be that wife that proudly comes up beside your man and uses your God given gifts together to glorify your Creator.
Have you ever had to work in a group where there was no leader? No one took the reins to guide the group in a clear direction and so the members simply flounder along with no good guidance. Or maybe you have been in a group where there are too many leaders. Two different people feel they know what is right for the entire group and but want to lead in different directions. In either situation the result is confusion and frustration for all involved.
Both of the above scenarios are common in families today. There are times when neither the husband nor the wife takes a clear lead and decisions are left up to chance or each takes a turn being in charge at different times. This sounds like a fair way to run things, but when put into practice this causes a mess.
In the reverse, both the husband and the wife claim leadership and then often try to lead in different directions. Each spouse may feel they know the best way to discipline the kids, make family decisions, or handle the money. This causes great confusion for the children and keeps families going in circles instead of making progress toward any priorities.
So what is the answer? You must name a chief of your tribe. There must be a clear leader whose decision is final. According to the Bible, this must be the husband. Now Ladies, stay with me and just keep on reading. In 1 Corinthians 11:3 it says, “But I want you to understand that the head of every man is Christ, the head of a wife is her husband, and the head of Christ is God.”
We can see in this verse that the husband is to be the head of the wife, so this is Biblical. The husband is assigned the role of being the leader in this marital relationship. This is no easy task, just ask Adam. We know that it was his wife, Eve, that first ate of the forbidden fruit in the Garden of Eden, but who takes the blame? Read Romans 5:12, “…sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men…” Adam takes the blame of allowing sin to enter the world and therefore spreading to all men. Eve was our first example of how our actions can dishonor our husbands.
If the husband is to lead his wife, who is leading the husband? The verse in 1 Corinthians 11 clearly tells us it is Christ himself. The husband takes his cues on how to lead from Jesus. That right there should be enough to completely satisfy us… but if not, check out what Ephesians 5:25 says, “Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her”. There is no greater love than the love of Christ towards his bride of the church. Husbands are called to have this type of sacrificial love towards their wife. Don’t miss the enormity and intensity of this. Jesus poured everything he had, including his blood, out for his bride of the church. Husbands are called to no less than this.
I know the question that is coming… what happens when you have a husband who is not serving the Lord? Does this give you the permission you have been hoping for to chuck this marriage and check out eHarmony? No way. You are still called to submit leadership to your non-believing husband. You will be the model of Christ to him in how you serve him. Pray for his salvation and love him toward Jesus with all you have. Read 1 Peter 3:1-2, these verses speak directly to this.
Ladies, allowing your husband to be the Chief of your household is very freeing. God’s way of doing things is always best, including how he has set up leadership in marriage. I’m proud to call Phil Chief of our little tribe and I will gladly support him as he keeps his eyes on Christ. I admit I have failed at this so many times; I have tried to step in front of him thinking I know what is best. When I do this I feel the shift of unrest and unbalance it causes. This discernment has come not through years of marriage, but from maturing in my walk with Christ.
My Pastor recently used the metaphor of dancing to describe this marital balance. There can only be one leader for a dance to be beautiful, if both try to lead (or neither) it is an uncoordinated mess. In our home I relate easier to the tribe mentality (could be because Phil and I are lousy dancers). I like thinking of our household as a small band of warriors with a mutual mission and the bond of relationship. We stand together, armed with the Word of God as we battle a real Enemy that desires to keep our family from being effective and fruitful.
This leads me to the gift that God has granted all wives… encouragement. Once we name our husband as the Chief of our home it does not release us of responsibility or leave us without a say in how the family is run. God has given us a super-power in the form of how we use our words and actions to build up our man. Watch for ways to praise his efforts and respect his decisions. Demonstrate a Biblical marriage for your children so they will know how to care for their own tribe someday.
Watch for my upcoming blog on the beauty of submission.
Get rid of your stuff… end of class. Go get rid of everything you have that you don’t need and only keep what you need to. After that very little organization is needed because there won’t be much to organize. No need to buy pretty boxes, bags, or closet systems. No need to rent a storage unit or to even have a large house. No more stress because of all the clutter and piles lying around the house. No more weekends spent dusting, cleaning out the garage or polishing your toys. Without all your stuff you will have time to spare!
As I give out this advice I sit in my office surrounded by lots of stuff I could easily live without. This room is surrounded by other rooms full of items I could live without, the garage is full too. I’ve never been one to hold on to too much but I still find myself spending time on my possessions. I spend time buying, sorting, moving, arranging, and cleaning my stuff. I spend time working for money to buy more stuff to waste my time on. What an insane cycle to live in. I am realizing that more stuff = more stress.
The Bible confirms this, in 1 Timothy 6:10 it says, “For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs.” (Emphasis mine)
Loving money (or what money can buy) is the root, or beginning, of all kinds of evils (covetousness, pride, greed). This craving for more leads us to pierce ourselves with many pangs. This desire for stuff truly hurts us! Also notice the strong pull materialism can have on a person; it even causes some to wander away from the faith. It is very hard to resist, but that is exactly what we are called to do.
In 1 John 2:15 it says “Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.”
This verse tells us not to love “the things in the world”. Do you love your possessions? Do you love your pretty bedspread, do you love your 401k, do you love your new shoes, do you love your nice green lawn, do you love your jewelry? If we love our possessions which are part of the world this shows a huge heart issue. I don’t mean that if you have a nice pair of shoes or some jewelry that your heart is in the wrong place, but it could be. If you find yourself striving after items like this or finding ways to accumulate more items to treasure, you need to do a serious heart check…and fast.
A heart aligned with the world is a heart against God, literally an enemy of God. This may seem harsh, but these are not just my words. Check out James 4:4, “You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.” Like I said this is serious. We want our hearts to be aligned with God not the world. What we treasure and hold dear displays what is in our hearts. What is your heart clinging to?
Mothers, be an example for your children. Teach them at a young age to hold on very lightly to the things of this world. Teach them how to be givers and to bless others instead. Instruct them on the difference between what is eternal (God’s Kingdom, God’s Word, Christian relationships, work done for Christ, time spent with God) and what is truly dust (everything tangible). They are watching you closely so be aware of what you are spending your time on too. Is shopping a hobby? Do you often admire and value objects? Are you being generous in blessing others? What are your reasons for working? What are the future aspirations of your family? Are you planning for a vacation, a hot tub, or an awesome way to bless others for God’s Kingdom?
The only proper place to store your treasures is Heaven. Matthew 6:19-21, “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”
Ladies, it’s time we cut our tethers to this world. We need to keep our eyes focused on eternity and not the dust all around us. Our current surroundings are so very temporary; don’t get distracted by the pull of fake joy found in objects. Release yourself to fully experience the true freedom only found in Christ.