What is TBG and What is Your Role?

Since my blog last week about writing down your goals, quite a few people have asked me what is The Barnabas Group (TBG) and what I will be doing as the National Managing Partner. TBG is a network of Kingdom-minded men and women who tbg-logo-big-pressprint-with-spacedesire to exploit their God given skills and talents to advance the Gospel. We are located in 12 cities across the nation and we meet quarterly to showcase para-church ministries that benefit from the pro-bono consultant level assistance TBG members desire to provide. TBG is unique because our members are our primary customers and not the ministry. Members donate an annual fee to learn how they can come alongside of these ministries to make an impact. My desire is for all of our members to grow in their love for Jesus and His Gospel as Barnabas did in the Scriptures.

The first time you see Barnabas (his name means son of encoura ger) he is giving of his treasures. The church in Jerusalem was meeting the needs of all because of the generosity of the early believers. In Acts 4, Barnabas goes out and sells a piece of property and gives the money to the apostles to be used as they saw fit.

The next time you see Barnabas he is using his touch or sphere of influence. Paul cannot join with the other disciples to preach the Gospel because they were afraid of him.  But because the apostles trusted Barnabas they were willing to meet with Paul after receiving Barnabas’s introduction of Paul.

Later in Acts, you see Barnabas giving of his time. He goes on several trips with Paul to reach out to the churches across Antioch. Now while on one of these trips we know there was some conflict. Barnabas and Paul didn’t see eye to eye on something and because of that there was a separation between Barnabas, John Mark and Paul. However, we know Barnabas had to use his talent in the area of conflict resolution during this time because eventually John Mark and Paul reconciled and even if you have read the Bible just a little bit you know that Paul had zero conflict resolution skills.

Lastly you see Barnabas willing to risk his life for the Gospel. Because of Paul and his preaching, the Jews in Lystra are being stirred up to the point of trying to stone Paul but they would not be deterred but continued on to spread the Gospel.

My role as National Managing Partner is to serve our local Managing Partners so that our members will impact our world with the Gospel of Christ in more ways than just through their checkbook. My desire is to see all members become Barnabas’ and give of their treasures, touch, time and talent as well as being willing to risk it all for the Kingdom of God.

May I be found faithful!

Christ with Me, Christ with You, Christ with Us

0106_ChristInUsOn Good Friday, I was blessed to sit a in a family’s media room with a small group of close friends to experience Secret Church 2014. David Platt (author of Radical and Radical Together) started the first Secret Church experience at his church. It is basically a  "house church" where we meet periodically for an intense time of Bible study—lasting 6+ hours—including a time of prayer for our brothers and sisters across the globe who are facing persecution and for those who have still not heard the Gospel. Platt started off his messages with this prayer and I think it is well worth an entire blog post:
As I arise today,
May the strength of God pilot me,
The power of God uphold me,
The wisdom of God guide me.
 
May the eye of God look before me,
The ear of God hear me,
The word of God speak for me.
 
May the hand of God protect me,
The way of God lie before me,
The shield of God defend me,
The host of God save me.
May Christ shield me today.
 
Christ with me, Christ before me,
Christ behind me,
Christ in me, Christ beneath me,
Christ above me,
Christ on my right, Christ on my left,
Christ when I lie down, Christ when I sit,
Christ when I stand,
Christ in the heart of everyone who thinks of me,
Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks of me,
Christ in every eye that sees me,
Christ in every ear that hears me.

Amen

My prayer is that you will realize that Christ, through the indwelling Holy Spirit is ALWAYS, with you. And with Him all things are possible!

Unworthy

imsis047-078"All my life I have been called unworthy..." Oh my goodness, can I just be real with y'all?  This so describes me!  Not that this describes who I was or used to be a long time ago but this often describes me on any given day!  Well, actually until I heard Big Daddy Weaver's song, Redeemed, two weeks ago it was my daily mantra.

With that kind of daily mantra, I would do some crazy things to earn my worth.  Before Christ it included lots of immoral stuff, trying to feel worthy.  Then after Christ, despite knowledge of the Word and great counseling, I would often believe I was unworthy and so then I had to earn my worthiness.  Work harder, faster.  Produce more.  Please everyone around you.  Manipulate here.  Exaggerate there.  Anything to silence that voice...

Then a friend who knows me so well, sent me Redeemed (now that is a true friend!)  And when I heard this line in the middle of the song, the lightbulb - no, it was a flood light - went off.  Here is the entire line:

"All my life I have been called unworthy...named by the voice of my shame and regret."

It wasn't a parent or a teacher or a coach or a friend who had called me unworthy but it came from the voice of my shame and regret!!  I could silence the voice not by performing better or pleasing more people.  I could silence the voice by walking in the fact that I am redeemed and that my shame was paid for on the cross and my regrets can be released to Him who cares for me.

Is the voice always silent?  No...I am still living in a fallen world and in a body of flesh that is so prone to sin. However, when the voice calls out, "Unworthy! Unworthy!"  I can respond, "Redeemed!!  Redeemed!!" and the voice goes silent.

How about you?  What's your daily mantra?  Do you hear the voice?  Can you cry out, "Redeemed!"?

Josh Hamilton and Cereal

What in the world does Josh Hamilton and cereal have in common?  As many of you know, last week it was reported and later confirmed by Josh that he relapsed and drank alcohol.  (Side Note:  So impressed at how the body of Christ has responded to Josh.  Check out this article and this one as well as this one to see.)  Josh has struggled with addiction for many years and had even lost everything until he cried out to Jesus.  Check out his testimony. So back to the original question….what does Josh and cereal have in common? I have an addiction, too, and it is cereal!  Well, really, it could be just about any carb but when I am at the Jenkins home cereal seems to call my name.  I made Bowdie and Andrea crack up the other night when I texted them while babysitting the boys, “I am going to bed early partly because I am tired but also so that I will quit eating.”  Just like Josh it is a daily struggle for me to not feed my addiction.  Pun intended.

However, unlike Josh I cannot “cold turkey” or simply quit going to grocery stores.  I have to eat to live….the problem is too often I live to eat.  Another difference is that if I give into the addiction I am usually only hurting myself unlike Josh who may hurt others if he chooses to get behind the wheel of a car.

The verse that has really rolled around in my head lately is 2 Corinthians 10:4 – The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world.  On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. God has not chosen to just deliver me instantaneously from this addiction but I do have at my disposal weapons that can destroy strongholds - anything that has a strong hold on me.

Unfortunately, I do not always use the weapons available which takes me back to the cereal…Tuesday afternoon I was watching the boys because Andrea was helping with the funeral of an amazing man of God.  I wanted (read lusted for) a bowl of cereal but was not hungry (this would be sin for me.)  I had just poured the milk over the frosted shredded wheat and there was a knock on the door.  “Aunt Becky, Blaine needs you!  He is hurt.”  I run out the door and see Blaine crying on the trampoline.  I carried him into the house and laid him on the sofa to get an icepack on the (now we know) broken foot.  As I sat with him, my cereal was growing soggier and soggier.  By the time he was calmed down enough for me to get up, my cereal was yucky!  I am grateful that 1 Corinthians 10:13 is true as well!

So I am throwing no stones at Josh but rather rejoicing that as quickly as he fell off the wagon he is back on again and praying that when I make unhealthy food choices or choose to over eat that I get back on track just as quickly.

What about you?  Do you have any addictions that you struggle with?  By the way, I had cereal yesterday morning for breakfast and only ate one cup!

The Truth About Lies

Manipulation.  Embellishment.  Deception.  Falsehoods.  Untruths.  Little white ones.  Fabrication.  Slander.  Tale.  Whoppers.  Whatever you call them, they are still lies and if left unchecked it will cause disaster in your life! "How do I know?" you may ask.  I know because my life became a disaster as I continued to lie and believe lie after lie.  But don't just take my word, look at what Proverbs says about lies. Our lies will always find us out.  (19:5)

Lies for a time seem good.  (20:17)

Lives built on lies will crumble.  (21:6)

Lies are the root of all pain.  (25:18)

The Lord hates lying lips. (6:17)

What is so wonderful is that the opposite of lying is freeing and life giving.  Lies destroy but truth will set you free.  Oh it may be painful at first but in the end truth is the best course of action..in the small things of life - "You have a bit of spinach between you two front teeth and each time you say the 'th' sound it flaps just a bit" as well as in the big things of life - "You need to end your engagement because your fiancee is in debt up to his ears and is not anywhere near ready for marriage."

In my life, I was blessed to have people speak truth to me that uncovered the lies I was believing.  Those truths were painful to take at times but because of the love for me of the truth speaker it made it just a bit more palatable.  And in the end, those wonderful truths brought freedom and life.

Why don't you take some time today and examine your life to see if there are any lies that you are believing?  Or why not ask a trusted friend if he or she thinks there are lies you are acting on in your life?  Of you are really gutsy, why not ask God?  It may be painful at first but in the long run it will set you free!

The Bible is Just Another Book – Part 2

(See last week's blog for Part 1) Oh, I had very little faith that it could really make a difference - I had no life changing experience or revelation that called me to pick it up.  I was just so desperate that I was willing to try anything.  My years of church attendance had taught me that living the Christian life is not complicated - an aerospace degree was not necessary to figure this out.  Three simple actions that needed to be taken on a regular basis:  #1 pray, #2 read the Bible and #3 fellowship with other believers.  That was it.  Doing these three things with your whole heart for an extended period of time is the definition of a Christian walk.  But really, could something so simple take the mess of my life and turn it into anything good?  Since I had nothing else to lose I might as well try it and being an all or nothing kind of girl I went all out.

It is interesting now to look back at those early years - 1992, 1993 - and read my journal entries.  Every time - and I mean 100% of the time - God revealed something to me in His Word.  It was not necessarily some profound theological concept but it was a slow realization that this book - this Bible - was something special.  Here is an entry from November 24, 1992:

II Peter 2:  v. 9 The Lord can and does do what is right and what He wants to do.  He has the power to do all things.  v. 19 No matter what, all people are slaves to that which masters them - it could be God, money, sex, people, satan, etc. but they are all slaves.

Or February 13, 1993:  Luke 10:  v. 37 Jesus Christ had mercy on him - not giving others what they deserve - the homeless person may have brought his troubles on himself but we cannot throw him in the "ditch."  We must give mercy unto him.  v. 18-19 Jesus saw satan fall from heaven like a lightening bolt; He has been with the Father since the very beginning.  Thank you, Jesus!

Despite the fact that I had been to church hundreds of times and was even on the cradle roll at First Baptist Church, St. Petersburg, Florida, I was clueless to actually were the books of the Bible were located.  I was so thankful for the Table of Contents in my Bible and used it without shame and regularly.  Since I am a bit challenged, phonetically, the first few times I had to turn to Psalms was a bit of a struggle because I kept looking for the book of Salms.  What a relief when I looked on the person Bible next to me and I realized the "p" was silent!

It was at a Metro Bible study that I learned a truth that today still rocks my world.  II Timothy 3:16 says, "All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness."  What this verse is saying is that the Bible is able to answer these four questions:

What is right? (useful for teaching)

What is wrong?  (useful for rebuking)

How to get right?  (useful for correcting)

How to stay right?  (useful for training in righteousness)

If we add in verse 17, "So that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work," the Bible even shows me what I am equipped to do - every good work!!

I don’t know where you are – is your life a wreck or are you just coasting along nicely.  Either way, the Bible is a book that is able to guide you in all areas of your life.  Will you just take a risk and try it out for yourself?

Or maybe the Bible is a big part of your daily life, would you please share with me some of the cool things you have learned or experienced as a result of being in the Word?

The Bible is Just Another Book – Part 1

Sitting on an antique piece of furniture in my living room is a baby sized, white, leather bound New Testament Bible.  On the inside flap it reads, it says "Presented to Becky Turner January 29, 1965 by First Baptist Church of St. Petersburg."  Even as I write this tears come to my eyes as I ponder the fact that what has become a treasure in my life was available to me from the moment I took my first breath of air (January 29, 1965 is my birthday) and for 27 years I never sought it out.  What is so unique about me still having this little Bible is that I am not the least bit sentimental and I tend to purge more than I hoard.  However, I have always had a healthy respect for the Bible but to think that it held everything I needed for life and godliness?  Give me a break. You see I grew up in church.  For many years, when the doors were open we were there – Sunday morning, Sunday night, Wednesday night and every night of the annual spring revival.  Dad served a term as chairman of the deacons.  My parents taught a Sunday school class.  The church used our swimming pool as the baptism until one was built at the church.  We participated in marathon gospel hymn sings and I even broke my arm one Wednesday night while doing a cartwheel in the church's courtyard.  But going to church and doing all the activities does not translate into a transformed life if the Bible is not a part of one's day-to-day life.  The Bible had been a small part of my life but I never cognitively came to the understanding that the Bible - God's thoughts, written by man, inspired by the Holy Spirit, condensed into 66 books - could have such a huge impact on my life.

Well, at least no personal impact on my day-to-day living.  The Bible does impact us at a corporate level because so many of the laws of the United States were founded on the commands of the Bible.  Who doesn't want to live in a society were stealing, killing and even lying are not punished by the governing authorities?  But to think that this book that was written 1,000s of years ago, could help me live my life today was a foreign concept.

For me to study the Word, memorize the Word, apply the Word, to believe the Word, to take the Word as being the final authority on life in my own personal life, no way.  It is just another book, right?  Like Aesop's Fables or the Koran or the Old Farmer's Almanac - a book with stories, guidelines for living and some sage wisdom.

I remember many Sunday mornings searching for my Bible before church and then remembering that it was right where I left it last Sunday - the back seat of my car.  And there it was - a little sun bleached and full of the previous weeks bulletins because I never picked it from one Sunday to another.  It just sat there...waiting...not being used...available but ignored as I went about making decisions based on man's wisdom and my own experiences.  Until this decision making lead to a wreck of my life and finally, as I came to the end of myself, I reached out to it.

See next week’s blog for the rest of the story.

Forgiveness...Why So Hard

Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. Ephesians 4.32

Forgiveness is the willingness to relinquish the pursuit of justice in response to who’s wrong you.  A willingness to free them of the debt that they owe you.  Our motivation to do this is because God forgave us.  Because of the shed blood of Jesus, God’s justice was satisfied and He has forgiven us of the debt that we owed to Him.

Even with this great motivation, forgiveness is still one of the most challenging character traits to walk out.  What makes it so difficult is our inability to forget the offense.  I wish that when I forgave someone the memory of that offense could be wiped from my mind but that is just not the case.  When this happens, I often want to seek justice for things that have already been forgiven and shed the blood of war in peacetime as David said to Solomon in I Kings 2:5.

David’s army commander, Joab, lost a brother in war at the hands of the enemy.  After the war was over and the peace treaty was signed, Joab went and killed the man who had killed his brother.  He sought justice for a wartime offense after peace had been established.

Unfortunately, I can do the exact same thing.  Now, it might not be that I go and murder someone but often times I have extended forgiveness to someone, they have responded appropriately and we are fully reconciled.  Then, one day, week, decade later the memory comes back and I seek justice, again.  I want another, “I’m sorry.”  I am seeking forgiveness in peacetime for something that was already covered.

When the memory comes back, instead of going to the forgiven offender, I need to go to God and ask for Him to heal me in that area and to walk out the forgiveness that was freely given to me.

Bear with Others

Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. Colossians 3.13 Forgiveness is one of the hardest acts God calls us to do.  As the wickedness in the world increases, the level of offenses increases as well thus making forgiveness even harder.  To truly walk in forgiveness for these offenses takes much prayer, ministering and even counsel to move beyond the offense.

Many times I focus more on the 2nd half of this verse, “Forgive as the Lord forgave you,” and the overwhelmingness of that concept almost paralyzes me.  “How can I forgive that offense?”  “It hurts so much”  “They will just do it again”  “It will not change anything” are some of the mantras I start rehearsing in my mind and I often do nothing to move past the offense.

However, if instead of focusing on the second half of the verse, I focus on bearing with others, walking in forgiveness becomes easier.  Not because in any way it lessens the offense but because it causes my heart to begin to softer towards others and to the things of God.  (Please note that this bearing with others may or may not apply to the offender.)

I like to think of bearing with others in the terms of extending grace to them.  Yes, they just did something that could cause me to be offended but I am going to think the best of them and just extend grace.  Yes, what just happened grieved me but I am not going to seek justice in this matter but release them of the debt I believe they owe me and trust God to deal with them.   Christ Jesus on the day He was crucified bore the burdens of our sins and our offenses on His physical body.  Through His Spirit, we can bear with those around us and move toward forgiveness and beyond the offense.

When you are offended, are you quick to seek justice for that offense or are you quick to bear with them and extend grace?  Through out the day today bear with others and intentionally extend grace to all who are around you.

How is Your Heart?

Doctor Monitoring Patient During Health CheckI had just sent off my 2009 tax return along with payment to the IRS – so grateful that it was MUCH less than I had anticipated – when I clicked over to TweetDeck to read the latest twitters.  As a scrolled through, I decided to check out this news story from FoxNews.com: Some tax day fun: RT @WhiteHouse See Obama and Biden's tax returns http://bit.ly/ci7qTb

And this is what I learned…the President and the First Lady filed a joint tax return and their adjusted gross income was $5,505,409 and reported donating $329,100 to 40 different charities, which is just short of 6% of their income.  Meanwhile, the Vice President and Dr. Jill Biden did not do quite as well, both in income and charitable giving.  Their adjusted gross income was $333,182 and they contributed $4,820, which is 1.5% of their income.

As I have pondered this over the past month I have gone from amazement to anger to apathy until I heard some stats my pastor shared in his sermon this past Sunday.  At Houston’s First Baptist Church (HFBC), 50% of our members gave zero to the church in 2009.  Thirty percent of the members gave less than a $1,000.  It is that 80/20 rule all over again – over 80% of the budget was carried by 20% of the people.  Now, I am sad.

What saddens me, and what saddened Pastor, is that if 80% of the members of HFBC are giving so little financially to God, have they encountered God?  Have they really given their hearts to Him?  Based on what Jesus said I believe the answer to that is no.  Jesus said in Matthew 6:21, “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

Pastor Gregg made it so clear that it is not at all about the money.  God does not need our money, He desires our heart.  You see if we encounter God, we have to respond to God – in worship, in service, in obedience and in giving of our time, talent and treasure.  And what is so amazing is that when we respond to God, we will once again encounter God and the circle continues.

So my question to you today is where is your heart?  Is it going to take a treadmill stress test for the Lord to know if your heart is fully His?  Do you need some CPR?  He challenges us to test Him in this area and says, “…see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it.”  (Malachi 3:10)  Why don’t you test Him and see if you don’t encounter Him in a profound way?

Fruit Trees in the New Land

One of my favorite things about the Bible is that it is so RICH!!  No, this is not about prosperity preaching but rather the wealth found in the Word of God.  One can be a disciple of Christ for years and have read a verse a dozen times and each time the Holy Spirit reveals something new.  A rhema word.  A fresh revelation.  A deeper understanding.  The author of Romans said it best, “Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable His judgments, and His paths beyond tracing out!” (Romans 11:33 NIV) One of my 2010 goals is to read the Bible through in a year.  My pastor, Gregg Matte, has said that Leviticus is the graveyard for many “read the Bible through in a year” plans.  Well, this is exactly where I am right now in my reading, Leviticus – the book of the Law.  However, this morning, the Word almost jumped off the page at me.  It was one of those rhema moments!!

Nestled between the law on having sex with a slave and to not interpret omens are these three verses:

red delicious spartan apple container bins harvestWhen you come into the land and plant any kind of tree for food, then you shall regard its fruit as forbidden. Three years it shall be forbidden to you; it must not be eaten.  And in the fourth year all its fruit shall be holy, an offering of praise to the LORD. But in the fifth year you may eat of its fruit, to increase its yield for you: I am the LORD your God. (Leviticus 19:23-25 ESV)

During the first three years of living in the new land, the Israelites had to plant the seed, tend the sow, pull weeds, pray for rain, pray for sunshine and then at the harvest time, I guess, they threw the fruit away.  In the fourth year, same amount of work but now instead of throwing it away it is given to the Lord as a praise offering.  Then finally, the fifth year comes and they are able to reap what they have sown.

How does this apply to me today as I sit in the middle of the 4th largest city in the US and don’t even have a yard let alone a garden to tend?  Spiritually, there is ground that my forefathers and I have surrendered to the enemy.  As I walk out the statues of God in love for Him, I am gaining back this ground.  I am coming into new lands.  There is great celebration in the victory but for me to have FULL ownership of the land, to no longer be under guardians (see Galatians 4:1-4), there is work to be done.  And this work is hard and long.

I am willing to do the work to gain that full ownership.  Willing to wait a long time between sacrifice and blessings.  I don’t just want to be a squatter on the Promised Land the Lord has granted me but I want full ownership.  The full inheritance!!

How about you?  First, are you even seeking to take back surrendered ground?  To enter into the Promised Land?  Secondly, Have you gained some ground but grown lazy in the labor?  Have a hoe but are just too tired to deal with the weeds?  Finally, are you willing to wait for the fullness of time?  A mark of spiritual maturity is how long you can wait between obedience and reward!

Oh the depths of the riches of God's Word!!  I don't understand the law two verses later that says " do not round off the hair on your temples or mar the edges of your beard" but I do know that God has a reason for it and in the fullness of time I will know.  However, in the meantime, may I tend my lands well!

I am broke! What about your bank account?

iStock_000001604513XSmallThe Lord is teaching me a brand new concept. Well, at least it is brand new to me but it is has been around for 1,000s of years. The heart of it comes from the very first beatitudes from Jesus' Sermon on the Mount. "Blessed are the poor in spirit..." (Matthew 5:6) While in Canada, I picked up Barbara Henry's (http://barbarahenry.wordpress.com/) Renewing the Heart for Women: Life Principles from the Beatitudes and it is already rocking my world.  Let me share a bit from Day Four Week One.

Galatians 2:16, 3:2-7 (New American Standard Bible) …nevertheless knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the Law but through faith in Christ Jesus, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, so that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the Law; since by the works of the Law no flesh will be justified...This is the only thing I want to find out from you: did you receive the Spirit by the works of the Law, or by hearing with faith?  Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh?  Did you suffer so many things in vain--if indeed it was in vain?  So then, does He who provides you with the Spirit and works miracles among you, do it by the works of the Law, or by hearing with faith?  Even so Abraham BELIEVED GOD, AND IT WAS RECKONED TO HIM AS RIGHTEOUSNESS.  Therefore, be sure that it is those who are of faith who are sons of Abraham.

These verse show that my works bring about nothing.  My justification and sanctification are works of Christ and the Holy Spirit through me.  (Check it out in The Message as well (http://bit.ly/4yxmDV).  Barbara draws a wonderful picture of what this looks like:

Think of spiritual wealth in terms of a bank account in heaven. Since we are spiritually bankrupt in and of ourselves, Christ made the deposit for our “savings” account (justification), and the Holy Spirit makes all the deposits in our “checking” account (sanctification). By faith we make withdrawals from both accounts. Our good works are the fruit of those withdrawals but can never be considered part of the deposit because we are poor in spirit. We have nothing to deposit.

WOW! This is such a paradigm shift for me.  I thought my good works - especially in relation to my prayer times, Bible reading, Bible studying, etc. - were making deposits into my spiritual bank but in reality I am making withdrawals.  The Spirit of God is rising up in me to go to my prayer spot and seek His face so that I can be empowered to do His good works. I come broke - empty - needy.  To be honest with you, it flies into the face of my pride!!  What do you mean I have NOTHING to offer?  Surely, there is something I can bring to the table.  But, alas, I bring nothing. Nada. Zilch.

However, the great news is that my spiritual bank account will never fall below the limit.  There will never be any insufficient funds fees.  As a daughter of the King, I have a sweet Daddy who ALWAYS keeps my bank balance full and passionately calls me to spend freely.  May I be found making lots of withdrawals throughout the day!

For Wives: Things To Do As You Wait On a Miracle # 5

A dear friend of mine write this and I thought it was worth adding it to my blog. Play the Tapes to the End It often looks much greener on the other side of the fence. Don’t allow yourself to look through rose colored glasses. If you’re struggling with the desire to leave your husband, take a long, hard look at what that really looks like. The enemy is the master of lies. Would life really be easier? Are you sure that you really want to be single? What do children of divorced parents really feel? Are you so sure that your marriage is the one thing that is impossible for God?

Can You Stay for Today? Spending your time looking at the next 5 years or the rest of your life in a difficult marriage can make you run the other way. The Lord tells us not to worry about tomorrow because it has enough worries of its own. He wants us to live in today. Tomorrow is filled with what if’s. These things are not true yet and chances are they will never become reality. As you sit with the Lord and listen to His leading for the day, ask yourself, by the grace of God can you stay and do the right thing for today… Deuteronomy 30:11 says, “Now what I’m commanding today is not too difficult for you or beyond your reach.” You are not trapped. You can always choose differently tomorrow though I am confident that the Lord will amaze you with His grace as you choose obedience today.

Don’t Let Anything Keep You From Quiet Time with the Lord There is no way to live as a godly life apart from the Lord. You need to hear how deeply He loves you. You need to express your love for Him. You need His Wisdom. You need His Counselor. You need everything that He’s got and willingly extending to you. He IS your peace. He is your Shield. He is the Truth and the Way. He’s freedom and He’s your Deliverer! Occasional moments grabbed throughout the day will never reveal the God that you need to know. He is your very Life! Large chunks of devoted time early in the morning are your recharging. Take the Lord at His Word. “Those that wait upon the Lord will renew their strength. They will mount up on wings as eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint.” (Isaiah 40:11) “Fear not [there is nothing to fear], for I am with you; do not look around you in terror and be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen and harden you to difficulties, yes, I will help you; yes, I will hold you up and retain you with My [victorious] right hand of rightness and justice.” (Isaiah 41:10)

If you have little children, get up earlier than them. I know of a woman who had her quiet time in the middle of the night and then went back to bed. Yes, rest is important but the Lord will supply all of your needs, even rest, when we put Him first in all things. Try Him. Let Him prove it to you.

Ensure that you are reading God’s Word and not just about God’s Word. There are many useful tools and resources out there but they need to be supplements to a healthy diet of the Word of God. Ask Him to “Open your eyes to see wondrous things in His law.” He will not disappoint you!

The Lord knows that what He asks of us is not always easy. Sometimes, it may feel like it’s never easy but He is the Rewarder of those who earnestly seek Him. I can testify to a God who is WAY bigger than I ever knew – and I’m just seeing the tip of the iceberg! I can testify that I have come to know the Creator God for He created love where there was none left. He truly healed my broken heart and has made beauty where there was only ashes. For that I am eternally grateful!

For Wives: Things To Do As You Wait On a Miracle # 4

A dear friend of mine write this and I thought it was worth adding it to my blog. Become Your Husband’s Cheerleader I’m confident that somewhere inside every man is a doubt or anxiety of “can I really do this?” Be a good husband, provide for a family, be a good lover. Become his cheerleader. Make a conscious point of looking for things that you can praise him for. I understand that at first, it may take some looking. We are in the habit of seeing the bad. Genuinely thank him for every good thing you see. Tell him that he’s doing a good job of … I have been stunned by how much my husband has appreciated this. These are pleasant words that are sweet to the soul and bring healing to his bones like Proverbs 16:24 talks about.

Allow Yourself to Be Dependent on Your Husband Depending on how badly you’ve been hurt, this can be very difficult. Even if you’ve never said it consciously, our tendency is to build walls so that we won’t be hurt again. 1 Peter 3:1 tells us to “be submissive to your own husbands [subordinate yourselves as being secondary to and dependent on them, and adapt yourselves to them]…” Chances are you rebel against things that you would consider bad decisions on their part. The enemy tells us not to let ourselves “go down” with that sinking ship. A friend of mine taught me to say, “whatever you think is best, dear.” Rather than argue your side, if, after simply and calmly stating your opinion, you are of differing minds, winsomely say “whatever you think is best.” Be mindful not to be patronizing. Your husband will know the difference.

It is safe for you to submit to your husband even if you are positive that he is making the wrong decision because Jesus is the Lord of lords. You are not responsible for your husband’s decision but you are responsible for your response to him. That same wise friend reminded me that submission only occurs when we disagree. If I’m not of a differing mind, it’s called agreement. Submission is difficult and it goes against everything the world (and our unbelieving friends) tell us but it is richly rewarded by our Heavenly Father. It is even safe for you to submit to an unbelieving husband or one that is not walking with the Lord as long as what he asks of you is not immoral or illegal. That same verse in 1 Peter 3 continues to say “so that even if any (husbands) do not obey the Word [of God], they may be won over not by discussion but by the [godly] lives of their wives.” I had to quit preaching and arguing my point and start living out my role as God intended.

We are to live as godly wives in “like manner” to how Jesus conducted Himself. “When He was reviled and insulted, He did not revile or offer insult in return; [when] He was abused and suffered, He made no threats [of vengeance]; but He trusted [Himself and everything] to Him Who judges fairly.” 1 Peter 2:23. Trust yourself to the One Who is faithful!

For Wives: Things To Do As You Wait On a Miracle # 3

A dear friend of mine write this and I thought it was worth adding it to my blog. Make an 80/20 List – or a 60/40! Make a list of things that attracted you to your husband in the first place. Make a list of good qualities that he has exhibited. Everyone has them. In fact, I believe we do have more good qualities than bad. It’s just easier to see the things we wish were different. Keep the list handy! Mine is in the back of my Bible and I purposely added to it whenever something would come to mind. Review the list often and thank the Lord for each quality.

Make Some Things Right, Seek Forgiveness Perhaps your parents didn’t bless your marriage or you were engaging in pre-marital sex. Seek forgiveness. You can seek forgiveness for not honoring your parents or seek forgiveness from your husband for not waiting to have sex with the Lord’s blessing. These things are not easy nor do many people think they are necessary but once they’ve been dealt with Biblically, when the enemy throws out lies like “you should have listened to your mother” you can stand on the Truth of no condemnation!

Learn the Lesson “But if Not…” I have found that in every major lesson life change/lesson that the Lord has taken me through there has come a point where I had to come to grips with the fact “but if not…” I’m still going to choose to follow the Lord in obedience. When I struggled with infertility and thought that the Lord was robbing me of a blessing, I had to come to the point where if He never gave me children, He was still Good. When my father was dying of cancer, if the Lord never healed him, He was still Good. If your husband never changes, God is still Good and it is the right thing to walk out your life in obedience. The other thing that I’ve found is that God is so gracious and generous!! He rewards our feeble steps in His direction!

My grandfather always used to say that if the Lord never did anything else for him but save his soul, it was worth serving Him forever. It’s the truth!

For Wives: Things To Do As You Wait On a Miracle # 2

A dear friend of mine write this and I thought it was worth adding it to my blog. Everyone Needs a Day 17 Ruth Myers, in her book “31 Days of Praise” has written an awesome scripture prayer about being thankful for the place in life that we are currently in. The whole book is about praising the Lord when things are difficult. It’s put out by Multnomah and is worth purchasing for anyone – crisis or not.

Surround Yourself with Positive Accountability Partners and Prayer Warriors If you are like me, it is easy to see the negative side of situations. You need people who will help you to see the positives. I needed someone who would stop me in mid-conversation if I was about to rant and complain about my husband. My friend would simply say, “have you taken this to the Throne?” or “have you tattled to Jesus?” Your friends and family don’t need to know all of the details. Whatever you spend the most time concentrating on is what is going to grow bigger. Surround yourself with friends that will say, “remember when…” and remind you of those good things that your husband has done. You may need to make a list. It makes it easier to remember when you aren’t seeing those qualities in the moment! If your friends aren’t currently operating in this way – ask them to! Tell them that it is what you need from them. It really is what you need from them. A word of caution – your accountability partners MUST not be of the opposite sex! That’s never appropriate and can lead down paths of destruction.

For Wives: Things To Do As You Wait On a Miracle # 1

A dear friend of mine write this and I thought it was worth adding it to my blog. Pray Less For Your Husband and More for Yourself This may sound totally selfish and inappropriate but sometimes, when a relationship is strained, it’s difficult to pray for your spouse without giving the Lord a long prescription of everything that you’d like to see changed in your spouse. Praying for your spouse can easily become a complaining session with the Lord and since the Lord knows better than us what is going on and what needs to be done, prayer sessions like that serve only to discourage us and remind us of everything that is frustrating or hurtful.

In a great little book “Get the Junk Out of Your Trunk: Let Go of the Past to Live Your Best Life” (by Duane Vander Klok) I learned that when we need to forgive someone who has hurt us, we need to pray blessing over their lives – with NO prescription! When we are praying blessing and not telling the Lord how He should do it, we are brought to the point of forgiveness and wanting to see good things happen in their lives rather than retribution. Prayer is something everyone says and even assumes but we do entirely too little of it and even less effectively. God’s Word is sharper than any double-edged sword (Hebrews 4:12). Praying His Word, convicts us where we’ve fallen short. When we come into agreement with what He says and repent, it accomplishes His purposes within us (Isaiah 55:11). Our lives (and marriages) will be transformed by the renewing of our minds (Romans 12:2). Some great scriptures to pray daily for yourself are: • 1 Corinthians 13:1-7, 12-13 • 1 Peter 2:18-25 (like the term or not, as married women we are “household servants” and we are the only one in our home with that job description) • 1 Peter 3:1-6, 8-9 • Proverbs 16:24

I liked the way these verses were worded in the Amplified Bible. It put some teeth to some of the words that were either too familiar or vague. I prayed these daily for many months. The words became ingrained in my mind and the Spirit would call them to mind – often – when I would be tempted to insist on my own rights or add something to a mental tally sheet of what my husband was doing “wrong” (1 Cor. 13:5).

I printed my prayers out on recipe cards and keep them in a photo album that fits into my purse. I recorded audios of them and put them on my I-pod. Keep them handy and commit to doing what they say. It’s not enough to just read them or highlight them and visit them occasionally. You must do what it says (James 1:22).

Applying the Word – Day to Day

Recently, I was finishing up a Bible study on Colossians and the last couple of days the teacher had us rewrite the entire book of Colossians by hand. It has been a great experience!! During the final day this is a portion of what I wrote: Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. Colossians 3:12-14

Three little verses in a tiny book at the end of the Bible. A quick little command from Paul through the power of the Holy Spirit. 54 words that we have all read and maybe even memorized. Four sentences that if we applied to our moment by moment living would transform every relationship in our lives.

How does this look in day to day living?

1. When giving criticism, we need to show compassion, kindness and gentleness. 2. If someone uses a tone or words that seem demeaning, we need to bear with him or her and forgive as we have been forgiven. 3. But above all that put on love. Remember that our spouse loves us; our children love us; our friends love us; we love our spouses, children and friends. If this is not true then we need to start praying for it and acting like it is true.

The writer of the study said this, “The ultimate witness to the world is how members of the body of Christ love one another.” May we be amazing witnesses!

But before we think that this is just some big love fest – look what Paul said just one verse later:

Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God. (v. 16)

The Word of God has to be in us deeply! (How are you doing in your quiet times, my friends?)

As the Word dwells richly, we will need to teach (to hold discourse with others in order to instruct them, to impart instruction, instill doctrine into one) and we will need to admonish (to caution, advise, or counsel against something; to reprove or scold, especially in a mild and good-willed manner; or to urge to a duty, remind) one another. But then we wrap it all up with the singing of psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in our hearts to God. This is why church fellowship and family devotions are so important.  It gives us the chance to enter into that sanctuary where all that really matters is the Father’s amazing love for all of His kids.

My prayer is that we all may walk out this Christian life in such a way as to draw others to Him. May our humility, love, forgiveness and correction of one another be so different that others will want us to give a reason for our hope.