When Your Marriage is in Trouble

marriage trouble

Have you ever sat with a wife sobbing uncontrollably because her husband just walked out? Have you ever counseled with a man whose wife left him for another? Have you ever talked to a young person who is broken over their parent’s divorce? Have you ever comforted a friend who is living with past regrets? Have you witnessed the devastation that a broken marriage has brought to a family?

I have…

Marriage troubles are devastating. In fact, recently I posted an online marriage survey and the responses would break your heart.  People are hurting. Men and women are giving up. And, every month or two I hear of another marriage ripped apart.

Ripped apart by sin.

Ripped apart by selfishness.

Ripped apart by worldly influences.

Perhaps, you are in the middle of marriage heartache right now and in need of a friend and biblical encouragement. Let me be that friend who points you to the One with all the answers.

Call out to the Lord

Call unto me, and I will answer thee, and shew thee great and mighty things, which thou knowest not. (Jeremiah 33:3)

 

Cast your cares on Him

Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you. (1Peter 5:7)

 

Cease from anger

Cease from anger, and forsake wrath: fret not thyself in any wise to do evil. (Psalms 37:8)

 

Cling to His mercies

Hear me, O LORD; for thy lovingkindness is good: turn unto me according to the multitude of thy tender mercies. (Psams 69:16)

 

Commit your ways

Commit thy way unto the LORD; trust also in him; and he shall bring it to pass. (Psalms 37:5)

I don’t know what you are going through right now. But, I do know that life gets extremely difficult when your marriage is in trouble. You are not alone. The Lord knows what you are going through. He cares about your marriage. He wants to do a work in your life for His glory. Go to His Word. Seek out His answers and trust in Him, dear friend. He cares for you and He will never fail you.

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If you haven’t already, click here to fill out my simple, 8 question survey on marriage. It is completely anonymous and just takes a few minutes.  My next book (and first one co-authored with my husband) is called The Eden Concept: Marriage God’s Way. Be watching for announcements on a coming launch!

Puffed-Up Christians

puffed up

Social Media is exhausting! Most of the time I scroll on by. Every now and then I stop and interject. It’s probably pointless, but I’ll never know. The other day I wasn’t feeling well, so curled up in my recliner with a blanket and that 2nd cup of coffee, I lingered on Facebook a little longer than usual. (Honestly, I should have gotten up and cleaned the toilets. It probably would have been more edifying.) A controversial topic was posted and what followed was rather disheartening. Seriously, do we really think that name-calling and bashing one another is appropriate as professing Christians? Does the bickering back and forth help the cause of Christ? Or, does standing for truth on Facebook make a difference. I’m not being condescending. I seriously want to know. We are called as Christians to speak truth. And even when done in love it sometimes inflames others, hence the “you’re arrogant” remarks. Other times, Christians are truly being arrogant.

Let’s talk about that for a moment.

Have you ever met one of those Christians? A better question…Have you ever been one?

Toward the end of His ministry, Jesus and His disciples were on their way to Jerusalem and wanted to pass through the village of the Samaritans (Luke 9:52-56). However, the Samaritans would not receive Christ. Burned with anger, The Sons of Thunder asked, “Lord, wilt thou that we command fire to come down from heaven and consume them, even as Elias did?” In other words, just destroy them! How dare they spurn the Living Son of God! How dare they reject Him! They don’t deserve mercy. James and John should have checked their motive behind their “zeal” for God. Knowing their hearts, Jesus rebuked them. “Ye know not what manner of spirit ye are of. For the Son of man is not come to destroy men’s lives, but to save them.” Too many times I’ve seen professing Christians with that same arrogant, prideful, puffed-up “zeal”. If I were to be honest, I’d have to admit that I’ve had this same attitude at times.

It’s shameful.

It hurts the church.

It harms the cause of Christ.

But, this isn’t the only type of arrogant, prideful, puffed-up attitude that Christian’s sometimes carry. One particular church struggled with it. The Corinthian church was a mess.  They were rather worldly and known in the community for their divisions. Another known issue that had to be dealt with was the sexual immortality of one member. “It is reported commonly that there is fornication among you, and such fornication as is not so much as named among the Gentiles, that one should have his father’s wife. And ye are puffed up, and have not rather mourned, that he that hath done this deed might be taken away from among you.” (1Co 5:1-2)

Church, you are puffed-up! You’re prideful. You’re arrogant.

I didn’t use to understand that. How could a church of professing Christians be arrogant about such a grievous sin? What’s there to be prideful about? Were they seriously puffed-up about this situation?

However, I’m starting to understand. The worldlier the churches are becoming along with faster access to information via the internet, it’s becoming clear. It looks like this.

We’re non-judgmental!

Who are we to speak out against their sin?

Everyone sins. At least we’re not hypocritical like some Christians!

And, in their pride and arrogance they proclaim to be tolerant and loving. The truth is that they are so puffed-up that they don’t even mourn over the sin in their brother’s life. The harder truth is that they don’t love him enough to speak hard truth to him. If they truly cared for his soul they would remind him of what God’s word says about adulterers. (And yes, Christians are commanded to make judgments, but that’s another post.)

Christians can be puffed-up with a holy, self-righteous indignation, or they can be puffed-up with a non-judgmental, too-tolerant attitude. Regardless of what end you stand on, extremes are usually dangerous.

By the way, do you think that social media has hindered or enhanced our ability to communicate with one another? Here’s my take.

Leave a comment. I’d like to hear your thoughts.

The C+ Marriage

c+ marriage

A couple of years ago, while visiting with friends, my husband made the comment that we have been married 15 glorious years.  They knew we had just celebrated our 20th wedding anniversary, so seeing their confused expression he clarified, “The first five were not so glorious.” It’s true.  We didn’t have a horrible marriage by any stretch, but it certainly wasn’t all it could be. Early on we made mistakes that (had it not been for God’s grace) should have destroyed us. But, about 5 years into our marriage God intervened. He began to place people into our lives that made a drastic impact. We changed churches and sat under a pastor who preached expository messages. We began to grow toward God and toward one another. His Word became precious to us and we started living out precepts that would bind our hearts and strengthen our marriage. Fortunately, our oldest was born during that first 5 years. By the time our children were old enough to learn about marriage, we had a C+ Marriage to model.

One of the most important lessons you will ever teach your children is on marriage. Dad and Mom, whether you realize it or not, every day you are teaching a Marriage Course. The adage is true; more is caught than taught. Your children are watching and learning and they will build their ideologies about marriage based on what you teach them. The core curriculum for marriage consists of 4 C’s that you teach every day.

Communication

We often take communication for granted. I know this because of how we use our words. The Bible states that death and life are in the power of the tongue (Proverbs 18:21). Words can build up or tear down. They can heal or destroy. They can be seasoned with salt (Colossians 4:6) or corrupt (Ephesians 4:19). Jesus said, “out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh,” Mat 12:34. A person who speaks ugly, hurtful words does not have a mouth problem; they have a heart problem. Their speech is a measurement of their spiritual condition. It is a monitor of the inner heart that is revealed for everyone (including our children) to see.

Children learn communication skills from us. They watch and learn how to talk to one another, treat their spouse, and work out disagreements. They can also learn how to argue, yell, and fight. It is no wonder that David prayed, “Set a watch, O LORD, before my mouth; keep the door of my lips” (Psalm 141:3). Communication affects every aspect of a person’s life including their future marriage, parenting, and work.

Character

Character is defined by what we do when we think no one is watching. But, guess what? Someone is always watching. In other words, character develops in darkness, but it manifests in light. As parents, we have just a few short years to help develop our children’s character. No one has a greater impact on them. When my children were little I read to them a book that taught a different character trait each week. One week we would focus on joy; another week on humility. It was a sweet little book with stories and Bible verses to go along. But, here is the bottom line. I can teach character traits every day of their childhood and still fail in teaching them true character.

We know that the scriptures teach us to not just love in word, but in deed and truth (1 John 3:18). We can talk about love all we want, but it must be shown. Likewise, we can teach our children about compassion, but they will embrace it when they see us being compassionate toward one another. They will truly learn about forgiveness when they see their dad and mom practicing forgiveness. Mom, they will learn patience when they witness you demonstrate patience with your husband. Father, they will learn gentleness and kindness when they see you treat your wife in this manner.

Commitment

Commitment is a big part of our character.  Statistics range, but most say that around 50% of marriages end in divorce. A lot of men, women, children and families have been drastically affected by it. I hesitate to make sweeping statements, but in many cases a lack of commitment plays a role. Marriage is hard. Everyone has problems. Life events and circumstances can overtake a couple. The enemy whispers give up and move on, but commitment shouts never!

Commitment is not something that can be taught in a classroom. However, it is something that can be demonstrated daily and passed on to our children. One of the most beautiful promises God gives His children is “I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee,” Hebrews 13:5.  Are you exhibiting similar commitment for the sake of your children? No matter where you are in life and no matter your past, you can begin today being fully committed.

Conviction

In his book The Conviction to Lead, Albert Mohler articulates the heart of conviction. He states, “Convictions are not merely beliefs we hold; they are those beliefs that hold us in their grip.” We can let go of convictions we hold, but those that hold us will never be relinquished. What convictions do you and your spouse embrace? Are they grounded in faith? Do they lead to action?

Marriage is a testimony, shaped by convictions. In Ephesians 5:22-33 God lays out the beautiful picture of a godly marriage.  It looks like this:

  • Wife submit to your husband (verse 22).
  • Husband love your wife (verse 25).
  • You are no longer two, but one flesh (verse 31).

Then God gives the motivation behind marriage.  “This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church,” Ephesians 5:32.  Your marriage here on earth is a picture of the heavenly marriage between the Lord and His bride. This is a conviction that holds me – my marriage is a testimony for my Lord! When Christian couples have unhealthy marriages, they are depicting to the world a distorted picture of Christ and His church.  However, marriages built on healthy communication, godly character traits, unwavering commitment and lasting conviction portray a beautiful picture to the world and testimony to our children.

Are you teaching your children how to have a C+ Marriage?  Are you teaching: Communication, Character, Commitment, and Conviction? My husband and I will be the first to admit we don’t have a perfect score, but it is God’s grace in which we stand. And, we’re both looking forward to many more glorious years.

Would you like to learn more about marriage? My husband and I are finishing up our newest book, The Eden Concept: Marriage God’s Way. You can read about it here and make sure you are signed up to follow this blog to receive updates! 

Dealing with Criticism

criticism

Zig Ziglar jokes that some people find fault like there is a reward for it. You know these people, the Negative Nancy’s and Pessimistic Paul’s of the world. They are your neighbors, co-workers, family members and sometimes even church members. These people have nothing positive or nice to say about anyone. You smile when they approach and secretly whisper a prayer of thanksgiving for this “thorn in the flesh”. You do this because you know that learning to deal with them grows you. Yet, you wonder just what in life has made them so miserable and your frustration by them is overshadowed with your pity for them.

Aristotle said, “Criticism is something you can easily avoid by saying nothing, doing nothing, and being nothing.” Dale Carnegie expressed it in a slight different manner. In How to Stop Worrying and Start Living he said, “Remember that no one kicks a dead dog.”  He reminds his readers that unjust criticism is often a disguised compliment. When you are criticized you are accomplishing something worthy of attention. Does this resonate with you? Then let’s learn how to properly define criticism, practically deal with it, and then permanently defeat it.

Defining Criticism

The first step in defining criticism is to identify what it is not. Criticism is not the same as biblical exhortation.  I realize that the idea of accountability (i.e. exhortation, looking out for one another, discipleship, admonishment, and being answerable to one another) comes across as archaic. However, as we read the Bible we see a theme of accountability to one another.  We are to love one another, honor one another, edify one another, admonish one another, care for one another, serve one another, restore one another, bear one another’s burdens, and be kind, tenderhearted, and forgiving toward one another.  We are to teach one another, comfort one another, exhort one another, and consider one another.  The Bible says we are to confess our sins to one another, have compassion with one another, be hospitable to one another, minister to one another, and fellowship with one another.

God designed us for accountability. He does not intend for the believer to be an island to themselves. In the Bible, coming to the faith always meant coming to a local fellowship of believers (the church or assembly).  Salvation is personal, but the Christian life is not.  When we are born into this world we are born to a family; when we are “born again” we should be joined with a family of believers.  In this family, the older are to teach the younger (Titus 2).  The strong in the faith should help to restore those overtaken in faults (Galatians 6:1).  The brethren exhorts the unruly (I Thessalonians 5:14).  We are called to encourage one another daily so that sin will not harden our hearts (Hebrews 3:12-13).  And we are to love those in sin enough to have compassion and make a difference in their life. (Jude 22-23) This is biblical exhortation.

Second, criticism is not making a judgment. It is here Matthew 7:1 is quoted, “judge not that ye be not judged.”  This is the problem that arises when Scripture is taken out of context.  The Bible does not say we cannot judge the sins of others, but we are to first cast the beam out of our own eye “and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye,” Matthew 7:5.  We are not to be hypocritical in our judgment, but do so in love and compassion.

There are things we cannot judge. We absolutely cannot judge the heart or inner motives of others. Only God knows the heart (I Samuel 16:7). However, this does not mean that we are to be undiscerning Christians; for we are commanded to make righteous judgments. For example, 1 Corinthians 6:1-8 states that when disputes arise between believers it should be settled in the church. A judgment has to be made. The church is to judge serious sins of its members and take action. We see this in Matthew 18:17 and 1 Corinthians 5:9-13. Those in the church must judge which men have qualifications necessary for elders and deacons (1 Timothy 3:1-13). As believers we are to judge the teaching of preachers by the Word of God (1 John 4:1). Jesus told us in Matthew 7:15-20 that we are to make judgments based on fruits in these men’s lives. Christians have to discern or make a judgment concerning the salvation of others to obey God’s command in 2 Corinthians 6:14 about not being unequally yoked. And according to 1 Thessalonians 5:14 we are to judge which people are unruly, fainthearted, and weak in that we can warn them. Making a judgment based on God’s Word is not the same as being critical of them.

So, if criticism is not biblical exhortation or righteous judgment, what is it? Simply put, criticism is an opinion with a negative connotation. (Notice exhortation and judgment has nothing to do with opinion. Both are based on God’s Word.) However, opinions in themselves are not bad. Everyone has them. Opinions can be given in love, but criticism is often associated with animosity. It is a condition of the heart with the intent to destroy and discourage. It tears down instead of builds up. (Proverbs 14:1) It brings death instead of life. (Proverbs 18:21)  It obsesses with flaws and imperfections instead of letting love cover them. (1 Peter 4:8) Criticism is a heart issue.

Dealing with Criticism

Now that criticism is defined, how do we deal with it when it comes our way? A peek into the life of David can give insight into how to handle critical attitudes in a very practical way. No matter what position in life you are in, you will receive criticism. David was criticized as an insignificant shepherd boy and as the prominent king of Israel. He received criticism from the world and from those near him. David was criticized in his youth and in his old age. He was criticized often even though he is considered a man after God’s own heart. So how did David deal with criticism? Let’s look at two specific incidences in his life.

“Who is this uncircumcised Philistine, that he should defy the armies of the living God?”  Can you see young David asking this question?  Righteous anger burns within him.  Will no one take a stand? The strongest and bravest of the Israelites surrounded David, yet none dare battle the giant. King Saul, the one chosen to lead the people, sits in fear doing nothing.  So, the young lad, willing to fight for the Lord, speaks out. Outside vilification is expected, but these words come from a brother. “I know thy pride, and the naughtiness of thine heart,” he says.  David, criticized by one closest to him, addresses the matter. “What have I now done? Is there not a cause?” I Samuel 17:29.

Much later in David’s life he is again verbally attacked. King Saul is now dead and David reigns as king.  He is weary, worn, and fleeing from his son Absalom.  As David approaches Bahurim a relative of Saul named Shimei comes out cursing and hurling accusations toward him.  (Pay attention. It is often a technique of the enemy to attack when we are tired and exhausted.) “Then said Abishai the son of Zeruiah unto the king, Why should this dead dog curse my lord the king? let me go over, I pray thee, and take off his head,” 2 Samuel 16:9. David had the authority to stop his accuser’s tongue, but this time he chose to respond in quiet humility. “…let him alone, and let him curse; for the LORD hath bidden him,” 2 Samuel 6:11.

There are several lessons we can learn from David on how to deal with criticism. The first is to determine how to respond. There is, “a time to keep silence,” Ecclesiastes 3:7. In the case of Shimei’s attack, David was silent. His response was consistent with a verse he later wrote under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. “I said, I will take heed to my ways, that I sin not with my tongue: I will keep my mouth with a bridle, while the wicked is before me,” Psalm 39:1. There are plenty to times to hold our tongues when faced with criticism. But in that moment we should be careful to not hold our prayers. David’s prayer was that, “the LORD will look on mine affliction, and that the LORD will requite me good for his cursing this day,” 2 Samuel 16:12. He knew God could do much more for him than his enemy could do against him.

We also need to recognize there is, “a time to speak,” Ecclesiastes 3:7. David addressed his brother when criticized about his motives in facing Goliath. We also see him speaking out when criticized at other times in his life. (See 2 Samuel 6.) When we reply, we should do so in love and remember that a soft answer turns away wrath. When it comes to responding to our critics, remember that there is, “a time to keep silence, and a time to speak.” Let us seek wisdom to be able to discern which is appropriate.

The second aspect of dealing with criticism is to not let it affect your plans. Even though David’s brother came against him, he still became victorious over Goliath and the Philistines. Even thought Shimei came against him, David still continued on the path set before him. God was leading him in both incidences and he would not be deterred. Have you faced criticism in the way you raise your children or live your life? Do not give the enemy victory by letting it throw you off course. Has a friend criticized you for teaching your children at home? Follow God’s plan for your life even in the face of opposition.  As we later see with David and Shimei, sometimes those that oppose us come back seeking forgiveness. (See 2 Samuel 19:15-23.)

Finally, do not let criticism steal your joy. How easy is it to get discouraged when faced with just one critical person! Notice what David did after Shimei’s vile attack. “And the king, and all the people that were with him, came weary, and refreshed themselves there,” 2 Samuel 16:14. David wasn’t alone and neither are you.  For every one person who opposes you, chances are many more support you. David and all the people that were with him came and refreshed themselves. They would not let the hostility of one take away their joy.

To practically deal with criticism you must first know how to respond. Do not let it affect your plans or steal your joy. Then you must learn how to defeat it once and for all.

Defeating Criticism

Criticism is a two-headed beast that must be defeated from within and without. We cannot stop others from responding with criticism, but we can defeat it by stopping its intended purpose of tearing down. When it rears its ugly head, we have power over how it influences us by overcoming it with good. “Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good,” Romans 12:21.

But what if criticism is a problem that comes from within? We have addressed being on the receiving end, but to truly overcome it we must look within ourselves. Critical words tear down and we are all guilty of being critical at times. As Christians, we are to build up others through encouraging and positive words. There are two verses I go to when I find myself needing encouragement.

Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers, Ephesians 4:29.

Let your speech be alway with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man. Colossians 4:6.

Notice that both verses refer to grace. When it comes to permanently defeating criticism we do it with goodness and with grace. But, there is one more weapon used to defeat this monster. It is love, the most powerful of all. We are told in Proverbs 10:12 that, “love covereth all sins.”

Let us not think that we have power within ourselves to overcome the nature of our tongue. “For every kind of beasts, and of birds, and of serpents, and of things in the sea, is tamed, and hath been tamed of mankind: But the tongue can no man tame; it is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison,” James 3:7-8.  As we see here, no man tames his tongue. It takes something more. In Mark 7 we see a deaf man who could not speak clearly. Just as it took a touch on the tongue to heal him, we too must be touched by the Lord. Only through the power of God can we subdue our words. It takes His goodness, grace and love working in us to control our words and defeat criticism.

Thank God that through Him we have the capability to overcome evil with good, turn negative into positive, and criticism into encouragement.

Gossip

gossip

Have you heard?

Please don’t repeat this to anyone.

Let’s just keep this between you and me, shall we?

I’ve said each of these phrases before. At times, they have been perfectly acceptable. And yes, other times I’ve said them to my shame. Gossip is an ugly sin.  It breaks hearts, hurts marriages, ruins friendship, ends careers, destroys ministries, generates grief, and tarnish reputations. It is no respecter of persons and the more it’s repeated the more it’s believed.

If you’ve ever been hurt by gossiping words, you understand how painful it can be. And, if you’ve ever been gossiped to, be prepared to be gossiped about. That’s the nature of this beast.

The scriptures warn us about the use of our tongues.

  • Whoso keepeth his mouth and his tongue keepeth his soul from troubles. (Pro 21:23)
  • In the multitude of words there wanteth not sin: but he that refraineth his lips is wise. (Pro 10:19)
  • A talebearer revealeth secrets: but he that is of a faithful spirit concealeth the matter. (Pro 11:13)
  • If any man among you seem to be religious, and bridleth not his tongue, but deceiveth his own heart, this man’s religion is vain. (Jas 1:26)
  • But the tongue can no man tame; it is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison. (Jas 3:8)

The more we talk, the more we risk sinning with our words. That is why the Bible speaks of wisdom through silence. But, I like to talk. I especially like to get together with my friends to visit, share stories, communicate and bond through our words. So, where does talking cross the line and become gossip?

I’m glad you asked.

When you share privileged information with others, it is gossip. Simply put, some information is private and not intended for everyone to hear. If the information is not yours to share, don’t share it.

When you repeat negative rumors about others, it is gossip. This line of gossip is often accompanied with the intent of tearing others down to build others up. It’s the nastiest form of gossip.

When a negative is discussed with anyone who cannot solve the problem, it is gossip. Sometimes negative information must be shared. If you are in leadership or ministry of any sort this is especially true. However, when you share negatives with people who have no authority to intervene or offer valuable insight into the issue, it becomes nothing short of gossip.

The list is not inclusive, but it’s a good start. David prayed, “Set a watch, O LORD, before my mouth; keep the door of my lips,” Psalms 141:3. Christian friend, let this be our prayer!

Have you personally seen the negative effects of gossip? Leave a comment and share your thoughts.

Blessings!

Back to School

back to school discipleship

It’s that time of the year and in some form or fashion we’re all getting prepared for the back to school season. Teachers are getting their classrooms ready. Parents are buying up school supplies. Drivers are anticipating the extra commute time the school buses will bring. It’s good to be prepared. But let me ask you something. In all your preparation, are you making sure that your children are discipled this year? Christian parent, it’s your responsibility and nothing is more important.  Education is great, but (to quote Theodore Roosevelt) to educate a man in mind and not in morals is to educate a menace to society. And to take this thought a step further, the source of all morality is God. (Proverbs 1:2-7)

So, no matter what season of life you or your children are in, here are some Back to School discipleship reminders for us all.

D – Devote time for Bible study and prayer first thing in the morning. (Psalms 143:8)

I – Inspire your children to do “good works”.  (Ephesians 2:10)

S – Stress less. Pray more. (Philippians 4:6)

C – Christ is preeminent. Keep this as a foundational truth in your home. (Colossians 1:8)

I – Instill godly character traits at an early age. (Proverbs 22:6)

P – Prefer one another. (Romans 12:10)

L – Laugh with your children. (Proverbs 15:13)

E – Establish a home that loves the Lord first, others second. (Matthew 22:37-40)

S – Share your faith regularly. (Matthew 5:14-16)

H – Help your children develop their spiritual gifts. (Romans 12:5-8)

I – Invest in others. Teach your children to serve out of selflessness. (Galatians 5:13)

P – Prepare them for the daily spiritual battle they will face. (Ephesians 6:10-13)

If you would like to learn more about discipleship, check out my book Home Discipleship: Much More than ABC’s and 123’s.

Blessings!

5 Reasons Change is Good for You

change

“I don’t even know what normal is anymore.” This was a comment made during breakfast a few mornings ago. Nothing else was said. After 24 years of marriage, sometimes silence speaks louder.

I like normal (whatever that is) and I certainly don’t like it disrupted. Not many people do. However, if you’re alive you better except change. Life is often just one change after another.  A move, a change in careers, the death of a loved one, a new school, a change in your health, a financial change, or becoming a new parent (just to name a few) are all major life changes that can be hard and scary at times. But, just because change is hard it doesn’t mean that good cannot come from it. There is truth here that even I need to remind myself of – change is good.

Change grows us. Without change, there is no growth. It doesn’t matter if you are a child, a leader, or a company, to grow there must be seasons of change.  What area of your life needs growth? I know that God is constantly growing me in my faith and knowledge of Him (2 Peter 3:18). Growth like this is often hard, but always rewarding.

Change keeps life interesting. Normal is comfortable, but it’s also boring! Change can keep us on our toes. It can keep us sharp. We can use the interesting aspect of a life change to minister to others who are walking down the same path. One of the most common mistakes we make when going through a change is to stay self-focused. Try focusing on others instead. It will keep life interesting.

Change is better than regret.  Sure, change is hard, but it’s also essential to life. We are often faced with changes that need to be made, yet hesitate on making them because of fear. Jim Rohn said, “We must all suffer one of two things: the pain of discipline or the pain of regret.” Which one would you rather suffer?

Change is going to happen anyway, so embrace it. That’s right, it’s better to embrace change than to fight it. Once embraced you can move forward, focusing on the future. Don’t build a wall when the winds of change blow, instead build a windmill! You will never be productive by looking back and holding on to the past. Learn from the past then move on. Embrace change.

Change makes us dependent on the One who never changes. When life throws changes out left and right I’m reminded to cling to the Rock, that stable foundation in my life that never moves. “For I am the LORD, I change not.” (Malachi 3:6) He is the one steady thing in my life. His Word is truth. His ways are right. His mercy endures forever. He is the same yesterday, today and forever (Hebrews 13:8). Being dependent upon Him is always a good thing.

Leave a comment and share what changes are you going through right now and how they are changing you for the better?

Blessings!

A Letter to My Daughter

 

I wrote this letter when my daughter was 10 years old. Now that she is just a few days away from turning 18 I thought it was time to repost. I’m so proud of the young lady she has become. She shines with the love of Christ and she has my heart!

Dearmother and daugtherest Daughter,

 

 One of the highest callings in life is that of a mother.  It comes with great joy and incredible responsibilities.  When God gave you to me, He gave me a most precious gift.  You are a joy and delight.  When you smile your sweet countenance spreads light throughout the room.  You can laugh and turn sorrow into joy.  You are a treasure and your calm disposition brings peace to our home.  I realize that I only have a few years in which to teach and train you to become a virtuous young lady of highest character but that is my desire. 

 

 Daughter, there are many things I want you to know.  First of all, know that I love your father.  Next to Christ he is my dearest friend.  Every night as I pray for you, my prayer is that someday God will bring a godly young man into your life that mightily loves the Lord and deeply cherishes his wife, just like your father.   I pray you discover early on in your marriage your God given role as wife and that you will embrace it with joy. 

 

I want you to know that children are a blessing from God.  Today children seem to be nothing more than a burden to many in which to cast off on someone else.  You and your brothers are a joy and I thank God daily for each of you.  I praise Him for the opportunity that He has given your father and me to raise you.  I want you to know that we will do our best to raise you not by the world’s standards but by God’s standards alone.  The world says you must be beautiful on the outside and that your value is based on how you look and dress.  God says that your value is based on who you are.  True beauty comes from within and God’s standard is one of purity. 

 

 Never forget that the most important thing in this life are relationships. Your relationship with God is first and foremost.  Only in Christ will you find complete fulfillment.  Your life will be void if you look to any other.  Second is your relationship with others.  Never miss opportunities to love your family, to build and cultivate friendships, and to reach out with kindness to strangers.  For it is in loving and serving others that Christ will be glorified. 

 

 Finally, I want you to know that no matter what stage of life you are in and no matter what you find yourself doing, make sure that it is for God’s glory.  If you’re being educated, learn with the desire to use your gifts to please God.  If you’re working, whatsoever your hands find to do, do all for the glory of God.  If you’re serving others, do it to point others to Christ.  Remember, you have purpose; no matter your age or station in life God has a plan for you.  Seek Him with your whole heart and your life will be complete.  You will have joy unspeakable.   Know that I will make mistakes and sometimes fail you, but I pray with all my heart that my words and actions as your mother are that in which you can look to as a godly example.

 

 I love you sweet daughter.

 

ABORTION – Is There Not A Cause?

babyThe Bible tells a story of a young shepherd boy and his foe. The Philistine army gathered for war against Israel. For forty days the giant, Goliath of Gath, stood mocking as he challenged the Israelites to fight. Saul, the King of Israel, and the whole army fled in fear. David, the youngest son of Jesse, was sent to the battle lines by his father to bring back news of his brothers. While there he heard Goliath shouting his daily defiance. “Who is this uncircumcised Philistine, that he should defy the armies of the living God?” David asked as righteous anger burned within him.  Will no one take a stand?  King Saul, the one chosen to lead the people, sits by in fear doing nothing.  Subsequently, the one who is willing to fight for the Lord is criticized by his brother.  Yet David addressed the true matter by asking, “Is there not a cause?”  (I Sam. 17)

Is there not a cause?  Such a pondering question. Yesterday I found myself asking this very one.  A friend brought to my attention an ad that ran in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette last Friday. The full-page advertisement (see here) placed by the Freedom From Religion Foundation asked, “What Does The Bible Really Say about Abortion?” As I read the ad David’s question burned within me. Just who is this organization that they should defy the Living God? Mockingly, they declare that the Bible does not condemn abortion and even “shows an utter disregard for human life”.

Using text out of context, they twist scripture in the same vile fashion as Satan did when he tempted Jesus in the wilderness. It always strikes me funny when people who claim there is no God, try and use His Word to prove their points. But the Bible speaks to this when it says in 1 Corinthians 2:14 that a person without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God but considers them foolishness. The secular man cannot understand the things of God because the things of God are only discerned through the Spirit of God. But nevertheless, they try. Using Genesis 2:7 they say that life does not begin at conception, but rather when a person starts breathing. “The LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.” It goes without saying that Adam’s beginning was unique to mankind. The first woman was created just as unique as she was taken from her husband’s rib. Both were fully formed adults at creation, not babies in the womb.

The ad tried to prove from the Bible that fetuses are not persons. Again, more twisting of scripture. Repeatedly the Bible refers to pregnant women as being “with child.” Job, the oldest book in the Bible, refers to unborn children as infants. The Psalmists declares, “For thou hast possessed my reins: thou hast covered me in my mother’s womb. I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made,” (Psalm 139:13-14). God tells the Prophet Jeremiah, “Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations.” The Apostle Paul says, “it pleased God, who separated me from my mother’s womb, and called me by his grace,” (Galatians 1:15). God is the giver of life. This life begins at conception. To take life through abortion is to murder the innocent. It doesn’t get any more innocent than an unborn child and it should be noted that “hands that shed innocent blood” is listed in Proverbs 6 as an abomination to God and a sin that He hates.

Not only does the FFRF ad mock God and His Word, it deceives readers saying, “We live under a secular Constitution that wisely separates religion from government, and protects women’s reproductive rights.” There are three fallacies with this one statement. First, read the writings of the men who penned the Constitution. They were not secular. Most of these men were believers in Jesus Christ. They acknowledge this in Article 7 of the United States Constitution when they wrote, “Done in Convention by the Unanimous Consent of the States present the Seventeenth Day of September in the Year of our Lord…”  Second, Thomas Jefferson’s “separation of church and state” phrase is not found in the Constitution but rather comes from a personal letter written to a group of Baptists. Third, the constitution does not give women a right to murder their children. However, before the Constitution was penned some of the same Founding Fathers did write about certain rights.  “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” These truths (absolute truths) are self-evident (undeniable and obvious) that our rights come from our Creator (Jesus Christ our Lord). These rights include Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness. Notice that life comes first. Freedom and happiness is of little value if there is no right to life.

Let me ask again, is there not a cause?  Christians, have we forgotten who we are?  Have we lost the will to stand up against this massacre?  Does not the slaying of millions move us to action? If so, pick up a stone of truth and whirl it at the giant of lies that is constantly mocking our God. Take a stand. Write a letter. Support a pro-life candidate. Labor in prayer. Give your time, treasure and talents. It is a worthy cause.

Christian friend, if you no longer feel compassion, concern or cause over the fact that thousands upon thousands of babies are murdered every day then please consider these words. “If you faint in the day of adversity, your strength is small. Deliver those who are drawn toward death, and hold back those stumbling to the slaughter. If you say, ‘Surely we did not know this,’ does not He who weighs the hearts consider it? He who keeps your soul, does He not know it? And will He not render to each man according to his deeds? (Proverbs 24:10-12)

Hope…In Times Like These

discouraged

I am done. I am officially washing my hands from politics and this atrocity of an election. Can it possibly get any worse? Hillary Clinton is the epitome of what is wrong with government in this country and Donald Trump is the epitome of what is wrong with our culture as a whole. And like it or not, in less than three weeks one of these two will be elected as the next POTUS. I have played out the scenario over and over again. A Clinton presidency assures that the 1st and 2nd amendment will be under attack, the murder of innocent babies will continue to increase, SCOTUS will be in danger, religious liberty will be jeopardized, freedoms we love will be threatened, and government will continue to grow out of control. But if Trump wins evangelicals who vote for him lose more than an election. By promoting Donald Trump to the highest office of the land, we lose the right to talk about a candidate’s integrity. Morals and character issues become obsolete. In the future there will be no standard in which to measure a candidate. Anything will have to go. Did the candidate sexually abuse women? It won’t matter. Is he unrepentant? Who cares? Does he make his money in lascivious ways? Who are we to judge? It’s not that standards will be lowered; there won’t be any. Our witness and integrity is lost.

We’re all asking the same question. How did we get here? We could blame the liberal left for ignoring the facts. We could blame the right for being more concerned with holding on to power than actually doing what is right. We could blame uneducated voters, media bias, compromising Christians, 3rd party voters, those who refuse to vote, or a host of others. But it doesn’t matter.  The outcome is still the same. Our country is doomed. And I’m done with it all…

This is simply how I felt, that is last night. However, with the morning light peeking through my window I woke with a glimmer of hope. For the first time in months I was able to see our country through different eyes. Last night my husband and I attended a fundraiser for Family Council. We gathered with friends and acquaintances in an effort to support a great ministry. Admittedly, I was hesitant to go. (Remember, I had already washed my hands…) Yet, something compelled me.

Senator Tom Cotton was one of the guests and after dinner we gather around the living room and listened to him speak. What he didn’t say was just as remarkable as what he said. He didn’t stand up pontificating as a typical Washington politician. Nor did he cry out from the depths of despair. He didn’t paint a doom and gloom picture of our current state. And he didn’t highlight the government’s corruption or even cast blame. Instead, He reminded us that man is fallen. He talked of hope, faithfulness, duty and loyalty. He reminded us of the unity we showed in our country just days after 9/11 and how we stood together and overcame great darkness. He was encouraging and even more so convicting.

My friend Jerry Cox, founder and president of Family Council, followed the Senator and continued to encourage. He told personal stories that emphasized the reality of the American Dream. He spoke about the worship service that took place this year in the Capitol Rotunda.  He reported that Arkansas is ranked as the fourth most pro-life states in the union and that we are currently blessed with a rather conservative government.

I needed to hear that message last night. We all do. Listen, it is easy to stay in a defeatist state. I know because that is where I lived. When we look from the top down, cast blame and pessimistically ask “what in world is wrong with this world?” we overlook the most important aspect of this question. The ugly truth and answer is, “I am.”  I’m what’s wrong because I believed the lies. I lost hope. I forgot that God has a bigger plan than who wins the election. I forgot that His plan involves the remnant – God-fearing individuals who wake up each day making a difference to the world around them. They are all around us. They are not giving up. They are not washing their hands from it all. They are not tearing their brothers and sisters apart for simply casting a differing vote. They are looking up, working hard, and fighting local battles in their community, school boards, and city council. They are supporting good causes with their time, treasure and talents. They are strengthening their own family because they know that the family is the building block of all society. They are doing good works and supporting their pastor and local church. They are encouraging others, bearing burdens, and pointing the lost world to the Savior.

I want to be this person. I choose to be this person. I will look into the future with hope because I know there is good left in our country. But even more so, because I am determined to be that good. When my heart breaks for the thousands of babies aborted, I will do the good works. When I see the poor and homeless, I will do the good works. When bad laws are introduced and liberties are threatened, I will do the good works. When marriages are in trouble and families fall apart, I will do the good works.  My efforts do not have to be perfect to be beautiful. In fact, it is in my weakness – in all of our frailty– that God gets the most glory. For when we are weak, He is strong. When all hope is lost in mankind; we remember that it is in Him we trust.  And should darkness continue to engulf our nation then I choose to see the night as gloriously dark. And I choose to remember that stars shine their brightest against the darkest of nights.

And they that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament; and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars for ever and ever. (Daniel 12:3)