Categories
Life Challange

PERSISTENT PASSION

How would you like to go to a church which had a report from God almighty that said:

“This church works hard; is patient; does not tolerate evil; checks out people who claim to be leaders and teachers and can tell the difference between those who are putting on a show and those who are real; is patient and bears up under stress; does not faint or give up under persecution; and does everything for the name of Christ?”

Sounds pretty good, huh? But not to Jesus. He said that outweighing all of that effort, was the fact that they had left their first love!

He told them to repent, remember where they had fallen from, and go back to doing labors of love not just labors.

He advised them to shape up or he would come quickly and remove their candlestick.

We are told to put our light on a candlestick to give light to all in this dark world. However having a candlestick with no light on it, is pointless and having a candlestick with the false “light” of loveless, if dutiful, labor is even worse.

Being human it is so easy to drift from the labor of love to either doing no labor while trying to maintain a bubbly infatuation or to doing labor that becomes an end in itself without relationship.

Think of marriage. We start out fascinated by the newness of it all, delighting in the love of the other person. We move on to being familiar with the other and take things for granted. We are to continue to invest in that person, adding to our initial love , ever deepening intimacy and commitment. For “where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.”

I am blessed to be part of a growing church with lots of “first love” people. However, I fear that they might stop at just being saved and avoid the effort and struggle of growth and commitment and lifelong deepening relationship with God and each other. Jesus wants to be in all my thoughts and not just be an insurance policy or a fixer of my problems. He wants me to see all life events as a way to walk together and get to know him more. He wants me to delight in his love and in the privelege of loving him back. He wants to be a fellow soldier, worker, sufferer, builder etc.

I need to ask at the start of each day and of each endeavor, “Am I doing this because he asked me to? Am I doing it in his strength? Am I doing this in fellowship with him, talking to him and enjoying his company as we adventure together?”

One good way to tell if I am going-it alone is to ask myself if the present moment feel like a stress or do I see it as a challenge an opportunity. If it is a stress, then I am going-it alone.

Like marriage, it is not okay to say, “I told her I loved her and if I change my mind I will let her know.” I need to constantly check in on my tendency to wander. I need to build habits into my life such as daily quiet time with Jesus. Remember that habits back up good intentions and make them stay alive and grow.

Check out the following words by Mr. Robert Robinson asking Jesus to help him keep his heart fixed on him. But remember we still have to do our part. I can’t expect God to make me stay on track while I actively wander off. Read 2 Chronicles 6 and 7. Solomon asks God to keep him on track and bless him and the Lord replies, if you do your part I will do mine.

As for me I will work to ignore the storms and focus on my heavenly lover.

Come, Thou Fount of every blessing,
  Tune my heart to sing Thy grace;
Streams of mercy, never ceasing,
  Call for songs of loudest praise.
Jesus sought me when a stranger,
  Wand’ring from the face of God;
He, to save my soul from danger,
  Interposed His precious blood.

O to grace how great a debtor
  Daily I’m constrained to be!
Let that grace, Lord, like a fetter,
  Bind my wand’ring heart to Thee.
Teach me, Lord, some rapturous measure,
  Meet for me Thy grace to prove,
While I sing the countless treasure
  Of my God’s unchanging love.

Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it;
  Prone to leave the God I love:
Take my heart, oh, take and seal it
  With Thy Spirit from above.
Rescued thus from sin and danger,
  Purchased by the Savior’s blood,
May I walk to earth a stranger,
  Walking hand in hand with God.


Categories
Marriage Relationships

For Husbands Only

Becoming a Provoking Husband:

And let us consider our wives to provoke unto love and to good works, making time to be together and exhorting one another. 

Hebrews 10: 24

We that are strong, ought to bear the infirmities of the week, and not to please ourselves.  Romans 15:1

God’s word is wisdom among them that are perfect: Yet not the wisdom of this world, nor of the princes of this world, that come to nothing. 

1 Corinthians 2: 6

But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil. Hebrews 5: 14

Let us therefore, as many as be perfect, be thus minded: And if in anything ye be otherwise minded: God shall reveal even this unto to you.

Philippians 3: 15

All too often people are in a marriage where the other partner makes no pretense of walking with God.

It is easy to complain of how hard it is to be godly when our partner is not doing their part.  Instead of complaining, the Bible exhorts the husband to stay in the marriage and live in such a way that God can use his example, first to sanctify his children, and then influence his wife.

And the husband which has a wife that believes not, if she be pleased to dwell with him, let him not leave her.  For the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband: else were your children unclean; but now are they holy.

First Corinthian’s 7: 13

From the first sin in the garden, wives have wanted to control their husbands:

“See, I ate from the tree and I feel fine, you try some.”  

It used to be that husbands could say, “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” But times have changed, and we often find that our partner is not as interested in spiritual things, or feels she can be fine spiritually without our leadership, or that she is more spiritual and should do the leading.

Does this mean you have to give up leading your family spiritually even though you can’t make your wife change? Can you be the spiritual leader even if she does not want to follow?

Well, God calls us to do our part whether anyone else does theirs or not. But this does not mean demanding the role or shoving our leadership onto her. You can do things that lead towards God and reward her anytime she joins you in focusing on God.

Living This Out

  1. You can lead your wife to pray together with you.

Husbands, dwell with your wife according to knowledge, giving honor unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel, [I strongly suggest you don’t you not call her that!] and as being heirs together of the grace of life; that your prayers be not hindered.

I Peter 3:7

 You can deliberately go through life watching for needs, that would touch her heart, as they naturally arise around you. You can then invite her to take a minute and join you in prayer.

Example: “Dear, my boss just found out his daughter has cancer, could we take a minute and pray for her?” Even if she just stops and listens with you as you pray, she is still joining you in praying together. Then you can say, “Thank you for supporting me in prayer.”

2. You can watch for life questions and take them to the Bible and to older Christian men to seek guidance. Then say something like,

“I ran into the following issue at work, and I have been trying to think through what God would have me do. I think that he would have me________. Do you think that I am understanding that right?”

Even if she just says, “Sounds OK to me.” That is enough. You can then go out and apply the insight and say, “Thanks for letting me bounce ideas off of you, I tried it and it went really well.”

3. Be willing to admit to yourself and your wife,

“I want to grow into a better person, and I have identified the following areas that I need to work on_________. I know that I am blind to my faults and will miss obvious problems. Besides this, is there some other area you would like me to work on?
“I am already doing the following to help me grow_______. Every Monday after supper, would you take a few minutes and let me know how I am doing? Here is a notebook for you to write in during the week. If you see some examples of where I have been doing better or need to do better, please share them with me.”

If she says, “O you are fine the way you are.” Don’t walk away satisfied. Say something like,

“I realize that I have not been open to your feedback in the past. I have even done things to make you uncomfortable when you care enough to give me feedback. I have pointed out your faults or just withdrawn.
“God is convicting me of my need to grow and I promise, with his help, to listen and benefit from your feedback.
“If you would forgive me and take the risk to help me grow, I would be so grateful.”

 If she has the guts to suggest something — anything, thank her and clarify, “Are you seeing the following area I can work on?” (No explaining or defending, see my blog on excuses).

If she risks pointing out something, it will probably be something small and unimportant but if you accept it and grow from it, she will slowly become God’s best tool for fashioning you into the likeness of Christ.

Then you need to work to benefit from her feedback. The next week, point out what you have done and how you appreciate her supporting your desire to grow.

When she is encouraged and rewarded to start with little steps, it leads to more and more. Soon she will be thinking that getting saved and supporting you in your spiritual journey, might not be such a bad thing after all. Even if she does not change, you will find yourself becoming more and more like Jesus!

A Vital Warning

Do not point out that she could do some growing too! Leave that to the Holy Spirit who is free to work on her in the same areas you are letting the Spirit work on you.

Instead

Keep your own notebook of any little efforts she is making and point out your appreciation.

All In

God is not into you changing your 50% if she changes her 50%. Nope, he is into 100% you change even if she does not. This is because he sees your changing as 100% a blessing for you. Such 50/50 thinking garbage comes from seeing godly growth as hard and boring and painful rather than glorious.

Of course, you might say to yourself that, “This is just too much work and she is doing almost nothing, it’s not fair.” True it’s not fair, but God is not fair:

  • he pours out heaps of unfair mercy,
  • he paid the debt he did not owe (how unfair) you owed the debt you could not pay, and it was unfairly paid.  

So, anything God asks is fair, fair, fair. Also, her “almost nothing” is a whole lot better than nothing.

Categories
Marriage

For Wives Only

Becoming a Provoking Wife

And let us consider our husband to provoke unto love and to good works, making sure we spend time together and exorting one another. Hebrews 10: 24 

We that are strong, ought to bear the infirmities of the week, and not to please ourselves. Romans 15:1

God’s word is wisdom among them that are perfect: Yet not the wisdom of this world, nor of the princes of this world, that come to nothing. 1 Corinthians 2: 6

But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil. Hebrews 5: 14

Let us therefore, as many as be perfect, be thus minded: And if in anything ye be otherwise minded: God shall reveal even this on to you. Philippians 3: 15

All too often people are in a marriage where the other partner makes no pretense of walking with God.
It is can be easy to complain of how hard it is to be godly when our partner is not doing their part.  Instead, the Bible exhorts the wife to stay in the marriage and live in such a way that God can use her example, first to sanctify the children, and then influence the husband.

The woman which has husband that believes not, if he be pleased to dwell with her, let her not leave him.  For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband. 1 Corinthians 7: 13

Men, from their first sin in the garden, either say:

 “Sure, dear, I’ll eat the fruit.”   /   Or they say, “You don’t tell me what to do, I tell you what to do!”

Calm spiritual leadership is not a natural bent for men; they are terrified of taking their proper role and need help beyond themselves to see what it looks like and to grab ahold of it.

But does a wife have to accept the fact that her husband will not naturally be a spiritual leader?

Well, God calls us to do our part whether the other does theirs or not. However, she can do things that lead toward and reward him whenever he takes his God-given role. She can increase his likelihood of taking his role and even his likelihood of getting saved.

For example, a wife can lead her husband to pray more by first watching for needs as they naturally arise around them. She can then invite him to take a minute and join her in prayer.

“Dear, my boss just found out his daughter has cancer, could we take a minute and pray for her?”

Even if she has to do the actual praying, he is still joining her in praying together. She can then say, “Thank you for supporting me in prayer.”

When a man is thanked for doing almost nothing, his brain will perk up and say to him, Maybe I should invest more time and energy into that area.

A wife can watch for life questions and take them to the Bible and older Christian women to seek guidance. She then, having done most of the work, can go to her husband and say, perhaps,

“I ran into the following issue at work, and I have been trying to think through what God would have me do. I think that he would have me _________. Do you think that I am understanding that right?”

Even if he just says, “Sounds OK to me,” that is enough. She can then go out and apply the guidance, return to him, and say, “Thanks for your advice! I tried it and it went really well.”

Despite the glaring issues she can see in him, a wise wife will admit to herself and her husband,

“I want to grow into a better person, and I have identified the following areas that I need to work on __________. I am doing the following to help me grow.
“Every Monday after supper would you take a few minutes and let me know how I am doing? Here is a notebook for you to write in during the week. If you see some examples of where I have been doing better or need to do better, please share that with me.
“I know that I am blind to my faults, besides the areas I have identified, is there some other area you would like me to work on?“I ran into the following issue at work, and I have been trying to think through what God would have me do. I think that he would have me _________. Do you think that I am understanding that right?”

If he says, “O you are fine the way you are.” Don’t walk away satisfied, but say,

“I realize that I have not been open to your feedback in the past. I have even done things to make you uncomfortable when you care enough to give me feedback. I have pointed out your faults or just withdrawn.
“God is convicting me of my need to grow and I promise, with his help, to listen and benefit from your feedback.”
“I am already doing the following things ________ and getting the following accountability from my friends ________.”
“If you would forgive me and take the risk to help me grow, I would be so grateful.”

If a husband has the guts to suggest something, anything, thank him and clarify, “Is there anything else I can work on?” Then work on it and the next week point out what you have done and how you appreciate him supporting your desire to grow.

Do not point out that he could do some growing too! Leave that to the Holy Spirit who is free to work on your husband in the same areas you are letting the Spirit work on you. Instead, keep your own notebook of any little efforts your husband is making and point out your appreciation.

If he risks pointing out something, it will probably be something small and unimportant, but if you accept it and grow from it, he might slowly become God’s best tool into fashioning you into the likeness of Christ.

The Christian Life Isn’t Fair

Of course, you might say, “this is just too much work and he is doing almost nothing, it’s not fair.”

True, God is not fair, he pours out heaps of unfair mercy on us, he paid the debt he did not owe (how unfair), you owed the debt you could not pay. So, anything God asks is fair, fair, fair. Also, “almost nothing” is a whole lot better than nothing.

Starting with a little can lead to more and more.

Soon the husband could be thinking that getting saved and being a spiritual leader might not be such a bad thing after all.

So many men fear that getting saved would require them to submit to the wife who is “more spiritual.” Now he would just have to submit to God himself, which is a little easier for a man to do. And he can see how submitting to God would give him the back-up he needs to fill the new role his wife is easing him into.

Categories
Christian Living

Act Drunk!

In Acts 2, when people observed Peter and the other disciples after they received the Holy Spirit, they mocked them with “these men are full of wine.” Peter pointed out that it was too early in the day to be drunk, besides, that was not what was going on.

When people look at us, they should see a “peculiar people.” (I know when it says peculiar people in Deuteronomy 14: 2 and 26:18 it means special people set aside for God). But, if we are special and set aside for God, shouldn’t we be crammed with enthusiasm and energy and act totally “weird” from the point of view of those who are not of God’s household? Maybe we should act so “weird” people see what we do and conclude that it must be God and give him credit (Matthew 5:16).

So, what are drunk people like that maybe we should copy?

Well, they get all happy even when things are not so great in their life.

Maybe, we too have reason to be happy even when things are not going well as we focus on higher truth. We do not have to ignore the problems in order to be happy, we can be happy in spite of the problems because our God is bigger.

Drunk people are very open and friendly and lose their social inhibition.

Maybe we should learn to quit worrying what people think about us and, like the apostle Paul, become all things to all people in order to win them to Christ. Maybe we should be focused on enjoying them and making them feel better, on appreciating their jokes and affirming their friendship.

Drunk people feel that they are loved and that they have accomplished great things and that they are worthwhile even when there is no evidence that any of this is true.

Maybe, we too, should remember that, no matter what, we remain in God’s love. That our lives do count. That are feeble efforts are picked up by God and amplified and used to bless others.

Drunk people blurt out what they really think and feel without proper filters.

Maybe, we too, should get in touch with what we really think and feel and get help from the Holy Spirit to cleanse our hearts and then take the risk to be honest and real with those around. We could seek to solve problems rather than create them.

Drunk people are bold.

Maybe we, like Paul, should ask others to pray for us that we too might be filled with holy boldness.


Yes I think that we should all act more drunk in a godly way and stir up those around us to consider that there is a God and that he does make a wonderful positive difference.

Categories
Comfort Relationships

Accepting Forgiveness — The Ultimate Humility

I knew an evangelist who was checking into a motel, bone tired and anticipating a week of services. As he walked down the hall to his room, he had an urge to go back and talk to the man at the desk. He thought, “I am always wanting to talk to everyone and this would make me even more tired. I’ll talk to him tomorrow.”

He did not sleep well. The next morning he went to the desk to ask when the worker from the previous evening would be on. The man replied, “Why?”

“I’m an evangelist and I just wanted to talk to him about eternal life.”

“Too late,” was the reply, “he killed himself last night.”

Another evangelist was running late on the first night of a campaign and decided to wait till the next evening to have an altar call and invite people to repent and find salvation. That night Chicago burned to the ground. 300 people died and the campaign had to stop.

A young man I knew talked his girlfriend into using drugs along with him. He then found salvation in Jesus and the power of the Holy Spirit to give up his drugs. She, however, went on to die of an overdose.

Heavy stuff!

They all went on to accept the forgiveness of God and to listen far more attentively to the Spirit. They came back to the now, learning by God’s grace, to grab the present encounter. So often, we trash today because we trashed yesterday, which excuses trashing tomorrow. Today is the accepted time. God loves to restore the years that the locust has eaten.

Why, when we need forgiveness so much, do we resist it so strongly?

We are not even sure we will accept a God who would forgive someone as bad as we are!

You’ll have to examine yourself; are you resting in the forgiveness of God? Do you feel and act clean and pure and worthy because he has taken upon himself all-all-all your sins?

Or do you secretly believe that your sins are bigger than the finished work of Jesus on the cross? 

Perhaps you are afraid that:

  1. If I accept forgiveness for the full debt that I owe, I lose all rights. All “right” to bitterness or blame and have to accept God’s right to forgive my enemies. See Jonah.
  2. If I accept forgiveness, I owe God big time and no longer have any basis for justifying my rights, owning my time, judging others, feeling superior, feeling sorry for myself, etc.
    For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s. I Corinthians 6:20
    Ye are bought with a price; be not ye the servants of men. I Corinthians 7:23
  3. If I accept forgiveness, I lose the rationale behind not serving in the kingdom. I am faced with the reality that no one is worthy to serve and, since I can see that I am the least worthy, that makes me “much more necessary.” So when God calls — I should go!

And Moses said unto the LORD, O my Lord, I am not eloquent, neither heretofore, nor since thou hast spoken unto thy servant: but I am slow of speech, and of a slow tongue. And the LORD said unto him, Who hath made man’s mouth? or who maketh the dumb, or deaf, or the seeing, or the blind? have not I the LORD? Now therefore GO, and I will be with thy mouth, and teach thee what thou shalt say.

Exodus 4:10-11

It is especially difficult if the person I have hurt is still responding to my actions with bitterness. Still, the choice remains the same,

  • to wallow in self-contempt and cause even more damage to those around me,
  • or to accept the forgiveness and reach out to those God places in my life letting God bless them through my yielded self.

God knows that for me to be fully healed, I need to build what I have torn down and he loves to help me do this.

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