Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Maybe They Have a Fish

My name's Melissa and I have road rage.

 There, I said it!  It's not the dangerous kind, I'm a very safe driver.  I'm just the kind of driver that likes to get to where I'm going as quick as possible and I get very frustrated when people don't drive the speed limit, or come to a total stop in order to turn a corner.  I didn't realize the depth of my problem until my young children starting telling me to "just go around them, mom!" Talk about a wake up call!  

A couple years ago, we were given a goldfish from a friend and we attempted to drive home while my son held the fish in a fish bowl full of water. Suddenly, I found myself driving 20 miles per hour and stopping before every turn.  The kids thought it funny that I was apologizing to all the cars around me for being one of those annoying drivers.  I had already been working on my road rage, so I took the opportunity for an object lesson. 

 "Maybe I should be more understanding of other drivers. Maybe they have a good reason for driving so slow.  Maybe they have car trouble, or they aren't feeling well and want to be safe, maybe they have food sliding around in the trunk for a party, or maybe, just maybe they might have a fish."  We finished our trip home, the goldfish safe and sound, Peter only slightly wet.  Object lessons are necessary in raising children, but I often don't know if what I've said impacted them or not.  

Several weeks later I was driving somewhere with the kids and we found ourselves behind the slowest driver in town (you know who you are!) and I failed in my mission to be an understanding driver.  I began complaining about this driver and how we were never going to get to our destination.  

Right in the middle of my rant, Peter pipes up from the back seat,"Maybe they have a fish." Silence.  

As I fought back laughter and tears I was humbly reminded by a 10 year old pastor in training that I need to remember the fish. Quit judging, quit complaining. I don't know everyone's situation, I have no right to get angry just because I feel inconvenienced.  What a selfish brat I am. 

Lord, help us to love.  Help us to not be so quick to judge when we have no clue what's going on.  Remind us that you call us to serve, not to take. Help us let go of what we think our rights should be.  Help us remember the fish.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Do All Roads Lead to God?

All roads lead to God.    Do you believe this statement?  Let me follow up the statement with another question.  How are you attempting to reach God?  What road are you traveling?  Maybe you are just trying to do more good things than bad during your lifetime in hopes that God will accept you.  You might believe that we're all God's children and are automatically on the road to God.  Are you holding onto some childhood religious experience to get you to God?  Maybe going to church enough times or saying the right prayers will get you closer.

 If you are thinking about your answer right now, that means that you have a DESIRE to get to God! Jesus tells us in the Bible that "narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it."  (Matthew 7:14)  If you're reading this, I want you to know for sure that you are on right road!  

The answer is found in John 14:6 when Jesus makes the bold statement that He is the only way to God. He says "I am THE WAY, THE TRUTH and THE LIFE, no one comes to the Father except through Me.  If you had known Me, you would have known My father also..."  According to God's Word, all roads do not lead to Him.  There is ONE road, ONE way and that is through His Son, Jesus Christ.

We are not automatically born as a child of God, although we are all created by God. (John 8:44).  Good works cannot get us to God. (Ephesians 2:8-9).  No one is naturally "good enough" to earn favor with God.  In fact, no one is good at all. (Romans 3:10-12)  It is only through Jesus that we can be redeemed, saved from Hell, and get on the road to God.  When we choose to step off the path we're on and trust in Jesus Christ alone, then and only then can we begin to build a relationship with God.  Everything else we try on our own will fall short.

Do you know Jesus?  I don't mean do you know about Him, I mean have you experienced a relationship with Him?  If you have no idea what that means, I would LOVE to show you more from God's Word!  All roads do lead to God in the sense that one day, we will all appear before God.  If you choose Christ now, you will kneel before Him to enter into His glory and eternal life.  If not, you will also kneel before Him, only to be sent into eternal judgement. (Philippians 2:9-11; Hebrews 9:27; Revelation 20:11-15)  The choice has to be made today, it will be too late when you appear before Him.

What's keeping you from choosing life today?

Sunday, November 24, 2013

I'm No Super-Mom!

We had a great discussion tonight in our ladies Bible study about raising godly children.  I still don’t quite know how we began our class with that, since the topic was the death and resurrection of Lazarus, but it was a much needed discussion none-the-less.  Plus, we were able to end on the thought provoking truth that the all-powerful God who raised Lazarus that day, is the same God that wants to help us parent our children.  Being a mom is one of the most rewarding things I will ever do, but it’s also the most challenging.  We want to give the very best to our kids, but we don’t want to spoil them.   Every decision comes with the fear of making the wrong one.  For me, I fear that I’m going to ruin my children by not providing them the opportunities they need or by not being the emotional and spiritual support they need to prepare them for life.  Every failure is magnified under our mom-sized microscope as we compare ourselves to all the other super-mom’s around us.  Besides all that, as Christian moms, we have a deep desire to instill godly values into our children, but often don’t know how. 

2 Timothy 3:16 says that “all scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness.”

2 Peter 1:3 tells us that “His divine spirit has given us all things that pertain to life and godliness…”

The fact is, if we want to raise godly children, we cannot do it apart from God’s word.  That means that we first need to be in God’s word as moms so that we know how to share it with our children.  There are all kinds of tools and books out there to help in this journey, but nothing can replace the absolute truth of God’s Word.  Like I told the ladies tonight, I’m going to fail (and do fail).  There will be lots of times that I don’t speak the truth of scripture in my kid’s life when I should.  There will be times that I’ll miss an opportunity to pray with them so they can experience the power of the Lord in their life.  However, that won’t keep me from trying.  Rather, it will push me to do better next time.  I have been putting scripture in front of my children and praying with my children since they were in the womb.  It is never too early!  The beautiful thing about the power of God is that it’s also never too late.  Start today!  I promise you that God’s Word and prayer make a difference.  Better than that, God promises!  Isaiah 55:11 says that the word that goes forth from God will NOT return void.  It WILL accomplish what God wants it to.  If you feel like you've failed too much already, and you just give up, then the devil is getting the victory in your life.  God is all-powerful and is bigger than my mistakes.  I only fail when I give up and quit trying.  So, get in the Word right now and see what God has for you today! 

Here’s a “starter list” for you of verses to start teaching your children right away.  Even babies need to learn the Bible, and YES, it does make a difference!  I am happy to help you find Bible passages for what you might be dealing with specifically, and I am always here to help coach you in how to present it to your kids.  We’re in this thing together as sisters in the Lord, so don’t be afraid to ask for help!! 

Top 10 Bible Verses to teach your children

John 3:16 – For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.

Ephesians 6:1 – Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right.

Jeremiah 29:11 – For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord. Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future.

Proverbs 13:24 – He who spares his rod hates his son, but he who loves him disciplines him promptly.

Proverbs 20:11 – Even a child is known by his deeds, whether what he does is pure and right.

1 John 1:9 – If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

1 Peter 5:7 – Casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.

Philippians 4:6 – Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God.

Proverbs 15:3 – The eyes of the Lord are in every place, keeping watch on the evil and the good.

Matthew 19:14 – But Jesus said, Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of heaven.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Never Give Up!

Have you ever wondered what on earth your purpose is?  Ever wonder "what's the point?"  You look around at your life and the lives of those around you and you see good people being hurt and bad people being lifted up.  Maybe you have worked your way to the top, only to realize you lost everything dear to you along the way.  Maybe you're struggling to make ends meet, working 3 jobs, while others flaunt brand new cars and huge houses that were practically handed to them.  Where have you tried to find fulfillment?  Your job?  Marriage?  Motherhood?  Maybe you're searching for happiness in places you know you shouldn't be.  Have you already called it quits?  Given up?  "Life's just too hard, it doesn't make sense, I don't know why I even try!"  "My marriage is falling apart."  "I have a ton of money and stuff, but I'm still not satisfied."  "I serve on 15 ministry teams and still feel depressed and far from God."  "I just don't understand God's Word, what it means, or how on earth I can apply it to my own life."  Maybe these quotes speak to where you are.

Did you know that the wisest man who ever lived had these same questions?  The book of Ecclesiastes is a journal from King Solomon during what seems like the darkest times in his life.  A close look at this book will show you a man who has tried it all, has it all, done it all, and still isn't satisfied.  He goes back and forth with sharing his struggles and pointing us to God's wisdom on how to get through some of these struggles.  After 12 chapters of this extremely transparent confession from the King of Israel, he sums it all up in Ecclesiastes 12:13.  "Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter:  Fear God and keep His commandments, for this is man's all."  To fear God means that you live with the constant awareness that He is present, right there with you all the time.  He is in complete control and you live your life in a way that trusts in His control and not your own.  One who fears God understands the sovereignty of God and makes decisions based on the character of God and not on the character of herself.  Regardless of how we feel, regardless of what trials (or nightmares) are going on in our life, regardless of how empty and futile life seems, God is still God.  God loves you with an everlasting love. (Jeremiah 31:3)  He created you with His own hands and in His own image. (Ps 139:14; Gen 1:27)  He has a plan and a purpose for your life.(Jer 29:11)  As long as you have breath, you have a unique and significant purpose on this earth.  Don't ever forget that!  You will need to remind yourself of that on those darkest of days.

You might be interested to know what came of Solomon after this depressing episode of searching.  Before we go there, let me ask you.... where are you at?  Are you just beginning down this path of discouragement?  Have you been in the thick of frustration over life for years?  Are you still searching or are you ready to call it quits?  Let me encourage you with something very important to me.  King Solomon, the wisest man to ever live, struggled just like you and me.  He seemed ready to throw in the towel many times throughout the book of Ecclesiastes.  But look at Ecclesiastes 9:1 - Solomon took the time in the midst of his discouragement to consider and ponder the work of God and the things of life.  He took the time to keep searching for answers.  Then, Ecclesiastes 12:9-10 says that "because he was wise, he still taught the people knowledge and... he pondered and sought out and set in order many proverbs.  The Preacher sought to find acceptable words; and what was written was upright - words of truth."  Just think, what if Solomon gave up?  Isn't it awesome to know that God can bring about such change and fulfillment in our lives when we just remain faithful, even when we question life?  Don't ever give up and don't ever stop studying God's Word.  When you study God's word, you are studying about Jesus Christ.  He is the single theme, woven throughout the Bible from cover to cover.  He is the only one who can give purpose and meaning to your life, no matter how discouraged you may be.  Keep studying, keep learning, keep searching.  Never Give Up!!

Just a few of my favorite Proverbs put together by Solomon in the wake of Ecclesiastes:    

3:5-6 "Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths."

4:13-14 "Take firm hold of instruction, do not let go; Keep her, for she is your life. Do not enter the path of the wicked, and do not walk in the way of evil."

11:2 "When pride comes, then comes shame; but with the humble is wisdom."

11:22 "As a ring of gold in a swine's snout, so is a lovely woman who lacks discretion."

12:25 "Anxiety in the heart of a man causes depression, but a good word makes it glad."

14:1 "The wise woman builds her house, but the foolish pulls it down with her hands."

16:7 "When a man's ways please the Lord, He makes even his enemies to be at peace with him."

18:24 "A man who has friends must himself be friendly. but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother."

20:11 "Even a child is known for his deeds, whether what he does is pure and right."

23:9  "Do not speak in the hearing of a fool, for he will despise the wisdom of your words."

31:30  "Charm is deceitful and beauty is passing, but a woman who fears the Lord shall be praised"

Thursday, July 18, 2013

God is Bigger Than Our Struggle

I just finished a 7 week study on the book of Job with my ladies sunday school class and we had some amazing discussions!  Here's a brief summary of what we can learn from Job.  It's a commonly known story, one of great loss and sorrow.

We see Job, a man who is upright and blameless before God leading his family in faith.  The Bible describes his piety this way; he was a man "who feared God and shunned evil." (Job 1:8)  After tragedy struck, he holds fast to his faith and trusts God.  As we read from this side, we get to see the little detail that God actually points Job out to Satan and then gives the permission and the power to Satan to administer the adversity in Job's life.  This makes a lot of people turn off right away.  It's one thing for us to accept tragedy when we can blame it on Satan, but to see that this actually was initiated by God is another story.  In Job 2:10 he addresses this issue when he asks the question of his wife, "shall we indeed accept good from God, and not accept adversity?"  The first step to getting through unexplained tragedy, is to accept that nothing happens without God's permission.  We have to realize that His ways are not our ways, and He has a purpose for every single thing that happens in this life.  Job understood this.  He never did get to know why God allowed so much adversity, but He chose to trust anyway.

As if he hadn't suffered enough, Job's friends came to him attacking his integrity.  They were so convinced that he had committed some heinous sin that brought on all this punishment.  They had the idea of God that He only sends bad things as way of punishment to those who have sinned.  In their minds, this much suffering was evidence of huge unconfessed sins.  Of course, we know (and Job knew) that he wasn't being punished for sin.  He knew God brought this to him, and he had no idea why, but he knew that he had served God and was faithful to Him.  How awful it would be to go through something so tragic, only to have your religious friends accuse  you of some wrong doing.  It's important that we take personal inventory of our walk with the Lord often.  There absolutely are times when trials are a result of our sins, and Job even took time to repent of any unknown sin and asked that he be searched out to see if there was sin in his life.  There are other times, however, where suffering happens for reasons completely unknown to us.  There are times that we are NEVER given a glimpse into the why and how of what we are going through.  Job chose to trust God anyway.

At the end of the book, we see God come to Job in a whirlwind after Job has defended himself to his three friends (turning into a pity party later on), and after Elihu (a younger member of the group) came and put all of them in their place.  I love how God begins his conversation with Job;  MAN UP!  (my own personal paraphrase).  In Job 38:3 he tells Job to "prepare yourself like a man".  He was about to set Job straight about who He really is.  We see that God is the only one who has all the power of the universe.  He created the world, not us.  He tells the tide when to stop, tells the moon where to hang suspended in the air,  tells the lightening where to travel.  His purposes are for HIM to determine, not us.  Well, Job did "man up" and realized that as faithful as he had been TO God, he really didn't KNOW God.  I've been there too!  I learn more and more about who God is as I experience Him in my everyday life.  I believe we all have a "Job moment" (or many Job moments) where we are stripped bare of whatever we hold onto and have no choice but to walk away from God, or really get to know who He is.  When I have those moments now, I imagine God saying to me, "put on your big girl pants and just trust Me!"  Job chose to trust God in that moment, and He experienced Him in a way he never had before.

This is nowhere NEAR the amount of treasure you can find in the book of Job, so I STRONGLY encourage you to take the time to study the entire book.  Dig into the culture, study it in proper context and in its entirety.  But just remember, our trust in God and what He's doing in our lives should not be based on our own need for control.  Even when we do not have a reason for our adversity, we can trust God simply because He is God and we are not.

I am happy to walk through this study again with anyone who has questions about what you're studying, so feel free to ask!  (As always, if I don't know an answer I will help you find it.)    

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Obedience IS......

Obedience is, the very best way, to show that you believe.
Doing exactly what the Lord commands, doing it happily.
Action is the key, do it immediately, joy you will receive.
Obedience is, the very best way, to show that you believe.

Do you remember singing this song when you were a kid?  Remember back to childhood, when everything was just so easy!  We learned this song and it taught us the truth from scripture that immediate obedience is what God expects of His children.  As parents, we teach this to our children in expecting first time obedience.  In John 14:15, Jesus tells his disciples, "If you love Me, keep My commandments."  Several years ago now, I went through the study "Experiencing God" by Henry Blackaby in my church, and he said something that has stuck with me ever since.  If we struggle with spending time with God in fellowship, we don't have a scheduling problem, we have a love problem.  Same holds true if I struggle with obedience in a particular area, I don't have an "obedience" problem, I have a love problem.  If God shows me something from His Word that I know I should be doing, or shouldn't be doing and I don't do anything about it, I am not loving God. Let me tell ya, I was broken in that moment.  My fellowship with God changed at that point, because I desire to love God, but how could I love someone I wasn't even getting to know?  Then I had to evaluate where my obedience stood as a picture of how much I truly love Him.  Sure, I obey Him in the big things.  I'm faithful in my marriage, I raise my kids according to God's Word, I serve in the church, I live a moral life.... but what about the "little stuff"?  When I speak my mind without thinking and hurt someones feelings, do I ask for their forgiveness?  When I get angry with my husband (I know, he's perfect, so I should never have a reason to be angry), do I blow up and treat him with a lack of respect or do I take my anger to God and then calmly discuss the issue with my husband.  See, God only gave us two commands:  Love God with you heart, soul, mind, and strength and love your neighbors as yourself. (Mark 12:30-31)  I can't even keep those two!

Hear my heart, in that I'm not saying we have to obey every second of every day and always do good in some attempt to earn God's love.  God loves you unconditionally, and he showed that by sending Jesus to die on the cross to pay for your sins so that you can spend eternity in Heaven with Him if you would just turn your life to Him.  What God's Word does say, is that we show our love for Him by how we obey.  When you read His Word, do you just check it off your list and get a warm fuzzy knowing you opened the Bible today, or do you obey what He's telling you to do?  Knowledge means NOTHING if you're not going to apply what you know.  You are not loving God if your obedience to Him doesn't match with what His Word says. Next time the Holy Spirit convicts you of something in your life, next time you read the Bible and see something that needs to change in your life, remember that you love God!  If you love Him, you WILL keep His commandments.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Depression: Do We Have a Choice?

Did you know that we CAN (and do) choose how we are going to feel?  I put this chart together as a way to visualize what I have learned in God's word so far about how stress plays into our lives and how we can choose to respond.  The paths we have to choose from lead to two very different places.  Here's the hard truth that we MUST realize:  If I choose to worry, then I have chosen to NOT trust God.  If those of us that battle with depression could truly grab a hold of that one truth, it would revolutionize our walk with the Lord and He would cure the depression.  I STRONGLY encourage you to look up each of these verses and let the Word of God change your life!  I have this chart hanging in my office at work to remind me what choices I need to make every day so that I experience peace instead of depression.  Feel free to print one for yourself as a constant reminder to choose peace!    This is not an exhaustive list.  One thing that I have found critical is being quick to repent when I find myself going down path 2.  When I choose worry instead of trust, I have sinned and immediate repentance is the only thing that will pull me off that path.  Do you trust God?  Let's show our trust by having joy in trials instead of worrying about them.  Worry is NEVER OK.  Do we have a choice?  Absolutely!  These verses merely scratch the surface. I would love to hear from you!  What are some verses that you have found helpful as you deal with stress in your life?  Share them in the comments space!

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Wise up! Don't be a Scoffer!

Proverbs 9:7-9 "He who corrects a scoffer gets shame for himself, and he who rebukes a wicked man only harms himself.  Do not correct a scoffer, lest he hate you; rebuke a wise man, and he will be still wiser;  Teach a just man, and he will increase in learning."

My natural tendency when reading this passage of scripture is to focus on the obvious;  knowing who to offer correction to and who to leave alone.  But, that seems fairly self explanatory here.  Instead, I'd like to ask a question;  Are you a scoffer or are you wise?  How do you take correction?  Let's look at this from both standpoints.

The scoffer (also called "wicked man") - The scoffer or "scorner" is one who mocks, scorns, derides, or boasts so as to express utter contempt.  When the "scorner" is confronted by godly counsel for correction, instruction, or pleading to turn back from sin, she will fly off the handle and is too rebellious to listen.  She may lash out with anger, hurtful words, and sometimes will even resort to physical force.  Or maybe she outwardly smiles and nods, but inside she is fuming.  She often knows the truth, but refuses to listen to it.  She has set in her mind her own "form" of the truth and nothing will sway her from her faulty thinking.  The scoffer will not receive correction, therefore cannot gain wisdom and understanding and will not have spiritual growth.   According to Proverbs 24:9, the scornful is condemned as an abomination and Psalm 1:1 shows that this activity is absolutely against the law of the Lord.  We are told to not even sit in the seat of the scornful, let alone practice such behavior.  This is no laughing matter. We are hurting ourselves, and all those we love when we do not listen to godly counsel.  This passage isn't talking about criticism from just anybody, it is referring to correction that comes from the Word of God, often through the mouth of a godly person.  When someone urges you to turn from sin, do you fight it?  Do you lash out in anger and frustration?  Do you put up your rebellious walls even further around your heart?  Then you, my friend, are in the category of the scoffer.  I've been there, and it's not a pretty place.  It is truly an abomination and will affect not just you, but everyone around you.  It brings shame upon any who attempt to help you.  Before long, they will realize that you are in this category and that they can no longer bring correction before you.  They will quit reaching out.   Don't be a scoffer!

The wise (or just) - A wise person is one who is skilled or experienced in living.  She is one who learns as she goes and allows her experience to grow her instead of inhibit her.  She loves learning, knowing that it is the only way to gain understanding.  She sees the blessing of godly counsel, and is not easily lied to.  When a person confronts her with godly counsel, she is eager to hear them out.  This person craves instruction and guidance and will take the time to hear what has been said and weigh it seriously against God's Word.  This is the place I have learned to reside.  I need godly women in my life that are not afraid to confront me if I'm heading out to left field.  I have also learned that not all counsel is accurate against God's Word, but that does not mean I make a scene or scoff at the one bringing it to me.  Instead, I take it to heart and search the scriptures for the truth to see what I am missing.  It is an opportunity to step out of my box, take off the blinders, and search for the truth.  Proverbs 11:14 says "Where there is no counsel, the people fall; but in the multitude of counselors there is safety."  If you only listen to one voice, and then fail to check it against the scriptures, and scoff at everyone else, then you are in grave danger.  However, when we listen to a multitude of counselors, take what they say and hold it up to the light of the WONDERFUL COUNSELOR, then we will be in the safety of wisdom.

So, which one will you choose to be?  Scoffer or Wise?  

Sunday, February 17, 2013

How Far Will You Go?

Why do we run from God?  Why is it that we know what we are supposed to do, but we do the exact opposite instead?  Jonah was a highly regarded prophet of God among the Hebrews in the Old Testament.  God told him to go Nineveh and tell them of their sin and that God wanted to show mercy to them.  He was to share God and urge this city to repent of their wickedness.  Instead, Jonah runs in the other direction, beginning a downward spiral into rebellion against God.

First, he goes DOWN to Joppa and found a ship getting ready to sail out to Tarshish.  Then, he went DOWN into the boat. (1:3)  His purpose in fleeing to Tarshish was to escape from the presence of the Lord according to the end of verse 3.  Then in verse 5 of chapter 1, we see that he goes DOWN to the lowest part of the ship to go to sleep.  When a huge storm rages and the mariners discover that it is because of Jonah, he tells them to throw him DOWN into the sea.  They do and Jonah sinks DOWN into the depths of the sea as the waters billow over him.  DOWN, DOWN, DOWN he goes, sure that his life is over.  Isn't that exactly the way we run from God?  One step at a time, each one taking us farther and farther away from God.  At any time along this path, Jonah could have stopped, repented, and turned back to God's task for him.  But each step of the way he gets deeper and deeper into his rebellion until it seems there is no hope of return.  Chapter 2 verse 2 tells us that Jonah was literally "deep in the world of the dead" (Sheol) in his attempt to flee from God's presence.  

According to Psalm 139:8, however, even in the depths of Hell you cannot escape the presence of God.  God sent the protection of a fish to swallow Jonah up from the depths.  After 3 days go by, and Jonah realizes that he's not dead yet, finally he prays to God and says that he will turn back to Him.  We could spend an entire blog analyzing his prayer, but that's not what I want to focus on today.  I want us to take a look at our life, our marriages, our families, our ministries, our walk with God.  Are you at the beginning of a downward spiral, or are you deep in the pits of Sheol?  Do you spend time feeding yourself with the Word of God every day?  Do you talk to Him on a regular basis?  Are you choosing to love your husband even when you don't feel loved?  Are you spending time nurturing your children?  Do you share God's love with that person that you think is too far gone?  Do you obey God in every area of your life, or are you living life for yourself?  IT'S NOT TOO LATE TO TURN AROUND!  

Don't be a Jonah.  Don't wait until "your soul faints" before calling out to God. (2:7) How much heartache Jonah could have avoided had he simply turned back the ship.  Open God's word right now and start reading!  Talk to God, repent for whatever sins have you spiraling down into the depths.  GET OFF THE SHIP!  God wants to work through you, He has a perfect plan for your life.  You just have to be willing to get off the boat, and turn back to Him!

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Are You Trustworthy?

Proverbs 31 tells of the lifelong journey of the virtuous wife.  This passage is one that so many Christian women, including myself, look to for guidance on how to be the wife she is called to be.  Today, I want to look at just one aspect of being a godly wife.

"The heart of her husband safely trusts her;" Proverbs 31:11. 

So let me ask you, are you trustworthy?  Can your husband safely trust you?  
You may say, "Of course he can trust me!  I've never cheated on him!"

Being trustworthy in your marriage is a whole lot more than just remaining physically faithful to your husband.  

Be trustworthy in your finances:  Do you go shopping and hide the total from your husband?  Are you careful to find deals, or do you just buy whatever you want, regardless of the cost?  Do you respect his leadership enough to talk to him before you make a large purchase, or even a small one?  People have often scoffed at the fact that I ask "permission" from my husband to spend money, especially when I run a business and make my "own" money.  It's not at all that I have to get permission, but I desire that my husband can safely trust me and this requires me to not keep secrets from him in our finances.  He knows that when I do go shopping, I am extremely frugal whether they are needs or wants. And there is no "our own" money.  We are one, and every penny goes to the unit, not one individual.  

Be trustworthy with his emotions:  Can your husband share how he really feels about something without worrying about you criticizing him?  Even worse, is he afraid that you'll complain about him to you parents or your friends?  One of the greatest things you can do as a wife is to create a safe environment for your husband to vent out his deepest emotions.  When you allow him the freedom to speak his heart to you with complete assurance that you will think no less of him, that you won't nag him, and that it's not going to create a huge argument, then his heart can safely trust you.

Be trustworthy in your relationships:  Most women lump trust and jealousy together and view it only in light of physical infidelity.  "I don't know why he's so jealous, I've never cheated on him? He can trust me!"  Here's the thing, you don't have to physically cheat on your man to break his trust.  Do you flirt with other men?  Do you dress provocatively?  Do you allow other men to meet needs that you think you should be getting from your husband? Allow me to give an example.  If there is another man who sings your praises and tells you how great you are all the time, RUN!  Be careful in your relationships with other men.  Make sure that your relationships are above reproach.

So, how trustworthy are you?  Are you a woman whose husband can safely trust?  If not, stop what you are doing right now and talk to your husband.  Ask him for forgiveness, and go to God together to repent and seek His help to heal the broken trust.  

Monday, February 4, 2013

"You Complete Me"

What does it mean when God said He would make a "help meet" or "helper" for Adam?  Does it imply that women are less important or insignificant?  Does it mean that man is weak and can't make it without a woman?  Nothing could be farther from the truth.  In Genesis 2 we see a glimpse of perfect life in the garden. God placed Adam in the garden, told him to tend to it, and put him in charge of naming the animals.  As he is going about this job, God decides that man needs a "help meet".  These words in the Hebrew are "ezer" and "neged" and involve the wife being a perfect opposite or counterpart to her husband in a helping role that is absolutely necessary.  A counterpart is something that closely resembles something else, it fits with or completes the function of the other item.  This is how I visualize this day in my romanticized imagination.  As Adam begins to name the animals, he notices a trend, as two by two they walk by for their turn to receive a title.  Male and female, male and female, walking together in beautiful fellowship.  As Adam watches this, he starts to see a pattern.  All these animals have a partner, someone to share their specific life with. Next, we see God say,  "It is not good that man should be alone.  I will create a helper and counterpart for him."  He sends Adam into a deep sleep, takes a rib from the side of man, and begins to work.  As Eve emerges from the perfectly skilled hands of her Creator, Adam utters the three words that every woman dreams of hearing..."you complete me".  Ladies, do you fully understand the magnitude of your creation?  Do you fully comprehend the purpose you have in your marriage?  Quit trying to make your husband be like you.  Quit trying to form him into something he's not.  You are SUPPOSED to be different, you are SUPPOSED to be opposites.  It is in this part opposite roles that you complete one another the way God originally intended it.  Instead of working to change your husband, work on loving him more for who he is.  Work on celebrating the counterpart God gave you, and experience a depth of your marriage that you don't even know exists yet.  Complete each other!

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Anointed Beauty

I am often asked how I came up with the name for my salon, Anointed Beauty.  As a Christian woman in the beauty industry, it is very important to me that I don't get wrapped up in the vanity of the beauty world.  I keep Proverbs 31:30 in front of me always. "Charm is deceitful and beauty is passing, but a woman who fears the Lord, she shall be praised."  There's nothing wrong with coloring our hair, wanting to have a cute style, taking care of our skin and nails, or wearing makeup.  There is, however, an inner beauty that is eternally more important than our outward appearance.  So, the question is, how do we attain this true inner beauty?  Let's start first in Isaiah 64:6a, "But we are all like an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are like filthy rags;" and Psalm 14:3, "they have all turned aside, they have together become corrupt; there is none who does good, no, not one."  These verses show us that every single person, even on their best day, is filled with an ugliness called sin.  Romans 3:23 says that "All have sinned, and fall short of the glory of God."  There are a lot of people who do a lot of good things, but God's perfect standard doesn't allow for "good".  Only perfect is acceptable to a perfect God.  So, what do we do about it?  If we can't meet God's standard by doing enough good in the world, how do we meet it?  How do we turn that ugliness inside into something clean and beautiful?  There's only one way, and we find the answer in John 14:6.  "Jesus said to him, I am the way, the truth, and the life.  No one comes to the Father except through Me."  Jesus is the ONLY way of restoring a right relationship with God.  That sin we are born with and that we choose to commit has made us ugly and has separated us from God.  The good news of the gospel is that God loves us so much, and He desires a relationship with us so deeply that He made a way for us to be forgiven and return to Him.   (John 3:16)  He sent His son, Jesus Christ into this world to die for our sins in our place.  We have a death sentence because of our sin, but Jesus took our punishment so that we wouldn't have to!  He did all the work, He provided the way, all we have to do is turn from our sins and admit that we need His salvation.  We have to admit that we're ugly inside before we can let Him make us beautiful.  Once we realize our need, Romans 10:9 tells us "that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus, and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved."  When you repent from your sin, and turn to Jesus, something amazing happens.  You are immediately filled with the Holy Spirit, who is God! He takes up residence and abides in you to teach you God's word, to convict you of sin in your life, and to seal you for eternal life in Heaven.  The greek word "chrisma" means "a special endowment of the Holy Spirit" or "anointing" and is found in two passages.  I John 2:20, "but you have an anointing from the Holy One..." and I John 2:27, The anointing you received from Him abides in you."  The verb form of this word is "chrio" or "anointed".  This word is used in four passages referring to Jesus as the anointed one, but it is also used in 2 Corinthians 1:21 referring to Christians.  "Now He who establishes us with you in Christ and has anointed us is God, who also has sealed us and given us the Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee."  Acts 2:38 says "... Repent, and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit."  There are a lot of people that claim to be "anointed" by God, but the Bible is very clear in Matthew 24:24 that we need to beware of false prophets, those who claim to be "anointed ones".  There is only one anointing, and it happens when you repent of your sins and turn to Jesus Christ as your only hope for salvation.  When you have this anointing, your ugly sin turns into true beauty in an instant!  Isaiah 1:18 says "Come now, and let us reason together, says the Lord, though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall be as wool."  There is nothing more important in this life than to make the decision to accept Jesus as your savior.  If you are still trying to get to Heaven on your own, I beg you to look at the truth and accept God's gift to you.  If you are among the anointed, I challenge you to share God's gift with those around you!

Sunday, January 20, 2013

The Value of Life

Tonight in Bible Study we took a break from our normal study to talk about the sanctity of life.  Here are a few truths from scriptures that show us God’s value of all human life.
In Genesis 1:26-27 we see that God created man differently than all of the rest of creation.  We were created in the very image of God.  We were formed from the dust of the ground by the very hands of God.  God breathed His own breath into man, making man a living soul.  This is powerful testimony to the value of every human being.  It’s so important for us to see God’s image in every person.  Whether or not you believe in God, in His son, or the Bible, you were still created by God and made in His image.  When we start to see people with the knowledge that they are formed by God and made in His own image, we begin to value that person on a whole new level.  It’s easy to hold this view when the person is healthy, beautiful, or successful.  But, what about those who are usually looked at as weaker, unhealthy, or un-loveable?  It is crucial that we see EVERY life as a gift from God, highly valued by Him, and made in His very image. 
It’s not enough for a Christian to stop here.  It is our responsibility to not only affirm that all life is valuable to God, but to also protect this life.  Look at Exodus 1:15-17 and its surrounding passages.  The king of Egypt had told all the midwives to kill every male child that was born to the Israelites.  He was afraid that Israel’s population was growing so big that they would one day overtake Egypt, so he ordered all male babies to be killed.  Well, God tells us of two midwives, Shiphrah, and Puah, who took a stand for life.  They feared God, they affirmed the value of every life, and they risked their own lives to save those of the babies they were commanded to kill.  What would have happened if they affirmed life, but simply removed themselves for the job of midwife so that they would not have to a part of such a horrendous situation?  No, they took a stand right where they were and saved the lives of many children.  In fact, we see in the very next chapter a story of a woman who gave birth to a son and hid him as long as possible, praying that God would find a way to protect him.  That baby boy’s name was Moses, and God did protect him.  He also grew up to become the man who would lead Israel out of slavery and right up to the Promised Land.  We have to take a stand for what’s right.
We know that God values every life because every life is made in His image.  We know that we have a responsibility to take a stand for human life and defend those who cannot defend themselves.  It’s also important that we see that each and every life has a special purpose from God.  Read these words from Psalm 139:13-16.  “For you formed my inward parts; you covered me in my mother’s womb.  I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; marvelous are Your works, and that my soul knows very well.  My frame was not hidden from You, when I was made in secret, and skillfully wrought in the lowest parts of the earth.  Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed.  And in Your book they all were written, the days fashioned for me, when as yet there were none of them.”   Take special notice that God knew our substance BEFORE we were even formed.  He fashioned every single day of my life BEFORE my days ever began!  When God formed your inward parts, when He covered you in your mother’s womb, He was creating every single detail of your life.  I love the words “skillfully wrought” in this passage.  He was giving you a personality. He was equipping you with talents. He gave you a specific gender.  He gave you your eye color, your skin tone, the structure to give you a specific height and body build.  God created each and every person exactly the way He wanted to for a specific purpose.  For a person to say that one life is more valuable than another is to take the place of God.  It is only for God to determine the value of a life, and He is clear in His word that He values EVERY life, regardless of status, success, handicap, or illness.  Every life is valued from conception to the grave, and it is never up to a man to determine the value of a life.  God is the giver and taker of life, not man.  When a man makes the decision to end any life, the Bible is clear that this man is a murderer.  It does not matter the circumstances; our job is to trust God that when He says He has a purpose for every life, He means He has a purpose for every life.  We ought to be in praise and celebration over the fact that He does have a purpose for life, from the moment of their conception, to the moment they breathe their last. 
Think about your life for a minute.  In what ways can you follow the example of the midwives in Exodus and take a stand for human life?  Don’t be afraid to speak up.  Fear God, and take the stand.