Saturday, September 27, 2008

Thank You For Giving to the Lord

Here is the song that has been speaking to me lately, for "Then Sings My Soul Saturdays" hosted by signs, miracles and wonders.

My favorite Contemporary Christian song ever is "Thank You" by Ray Boltz. If you've never heard it, the chorus says:

Thank you for the giving to the Lord
I am a life that was changed.
Thank you for the giving to the Lord,
I'm so glad you gave.

Simple words, but so meaningful. You see, I am an approval seeker. I know that I should be satisfied with simply God's approval, but I strongly desire to be accepted, approved. I cry every time I hear that song, without fail. To think that I could make a difference in some one's life. To think on the last day, that someone will come up to me and say "you made a difference to me." Overwhelming!

But I am posting about this song today to share something sad. The writer and singer of this song, Ray Boltz announced this month that he has divorced his wife of 33 years and adopted the homosexual lifestyle. I can't imagine what his wife must be going through. Divorce is hard enough, but this must seem impossible.

Please pray for the Boltz family during this time. And pray for Ray Boltz, and all those who struggle with homosexuality. Obviously we are all sinners who are in need of God's grace, and it is not our place to judge. What can we do? Here are some ideas from James Watkins website:

So how should the Christian community respond? Here are some thoughts . . .

1. Compassion and confrontation

“Dear brothers and sisters, if another believer is overcome by some sin, you who are godly should gently and humbly help that person back onto the right path. And be careful not to fall into the same temptation yourself” (Galatians 6:1).

We must never minimize a lifestyle that God labels an “abomination” and “detestable,” but at the same time, we must “gently and humbly” offer . . .

2. Hope and healing

“Those who indulge in sexual sin . . . or practice homosexuality . . . will [not] inherit the Kingdom of God. Some of you were once like that. But you were cleansed; you were made holy; you were made right with God by calling on the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God” (1 Corinthians 6:9-12).

I hope to see Ray Boltz in heaven one day. I hope to be able to tell him how much his song meant to me, and to be able to tell him "Thank you for giving to the Lord."

Friday, September 26, 2008

You're Not His Holy Spirit

If you're like me, you know all your own husband's issues and bad habits. If he'd only listen, you could change him, fix him, get him right. But you know, you're not your husband's holy spirit. And I'm not mine.

For years I have wanted my husband to do more than just attend church with me. I realize many wives would be thrilled to have their husband sit in the pew with them on Sunday. But as a bible study leader and active participant at church, I longed for my husband to attend a couples small group or Sunday school class, or have dinner together as a family on Wednesday nights. (I'm posting this with his permission. He asks that I insert here that he had done all of those things in the past. But we've been together for 15 years, and he's never done them with me).

I talked. I nagged. I complained. I explained. I tried to be my husband's Holy Spirit. Didn't he understand the errors of his way? Wouldn't he be better off, even grow spiritually, if he attended a group with me? But to no avail.

So I gave up. I'd like to be able to say I gave it up to God. But no, I just gave up. Yes, I had prayed about it...quite a lot especially when doing the Power of a Praying Wife study with my girls group. But I never really gave it to God.

Oh I told God about it. And like with my husband, I talked to God. I nagged God. I complained to God. I explained to God why my husband should go. But I never gave it over to God.

This has been going on for over 12 years. We started attending our new church in February. After our first Sunday visiting, my daughter was so excited, she asked if she could also attend "Jr. Church" (not just Sunday school) the next week. "Sure!" was my husband's response. "Great," I thought. "I guess we'll sit in the car for an hour after church."

The next Sunday after church, my husband said "So I guess we need to find a Sunday School class." We've been attending Sunday school together ever since. I am not my husband's Holy Spirit. But God is the Holy Spirit and his perfect timing prevails. (Not to mention a little child leading them.)

Why not give your marriage issues over to God today? Not tell God. Not nag God. And certainly don't nag your husband. Just give it to God. And in his timing, he will prevail. (Even if it takes 12 years!)

Acts 5:32 -- We are witnesses of these things, and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey him.

Romans 5:5 -- And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.

2 Corinthians 13:14 -- May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Two Shall Become One

For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh. Genesis 2:24

My husband parents are in their late 80's. They have been married for 66 years. They are amazing to watch. Yes, they can argue like no body's business, but there is love, and respect, and perseverance there. They've worked hard their whole lives, working the Iowa farm as a tenant family, and raising two sons.

Mary (hubby's mom) now walks on a walker. Rheumatoid arthritis has twisted her joints, and she's had several back and foot surgeries. Diabetes compounds the healing issue. Joe (hubby's dad) has had several strokes. He has no dexterity in his fingers and shuffles his feet when he walks.

My husband visited them in conjunction with his high school reunion last week. He noted that it requires both of them to do household jobs. His mom is the hands...she buttons her husband's shirts, and does anything that requires dexterity. His dad is the feet. He does most of the cooking, since he can stand unassisted, and has full arm movement even without the finger movement. I suspect neither could live alone, without the other. But together, they complete one another making it possible. They are truly two becoming one.

They are independent minded, and continue to live unassisted. The time may come, sooner than any of us would like, that they do need some outside help. But for now, they work in tandem, a beautiful picture of marriage as God intended it. Two working as one for the same goal.

And as Paul said, all parts of the body of Christ.

Matthew 19:4-6 -- "Haven't you read," he replied, "that at the beginning the Creator 'made them male and female,'and said, 'For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh'? So they are no longer two, but one. Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate."

Romans 12:4,5 -- Just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.

1 Corinthians 7:4 -- The wife's body does not belong to her alone but also to her husband. In the same way, the husband's body does not belong to him alone but also to his wife.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Some Day My Prince Will Come, won't he?

"Someday my prince will come. Someday I'll find a love. And how thrilling that moment will be. When the prince of my dreams comes to me." These are the lyrics sung by Snow White in the Disney classic.

You know, Walt led us astray. As young girls, we're filled with the notion that Prince Charming is going to ride in on a white stallion and save us. We get married clutching tightly to this dream. And then real life happens.

Maybe after a long hard day with the kids you're waiting for your prince to swoop in on his white horse, only to have him call and say he has to work late. Maybe you want him to slay that dragon that is bothering you, and he just says "I'm sure you can handle it" and kisses you on the forehead as he walks out the door with his golf bag over his shoulder. Maybe you have unfair expectations of your husband?

I recently stumbled upon this verse in my quiet time:

Psalm 146:3 "Do not put your trust in princes, in mortal men, who cannot save you."

Wow. Walt Disney was wrong. The verse goes on to tell us who we should put our trust in:

Blessed is he whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the Lord his God. (Psalm 146:5)

When you count on your husband to make all your dreams come true, you are giving him too high and lofty a goal to live up to. Then strife occurs. How could it not?

This week as I blog on marriage, I urge you to look to the true and only prince, the Prince of Peace. He can meet your every need, leaving you satisfied to be the loving wife your husband needs. And at the end times, he will be the one riding in on the white horse. Then we'll live happily ever after.

Isaiah 9:6 -- For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

Psalm 121:1, 2 -- I lift up my eyes to the hills—where does my help come from? My help comes from the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth.

Revelation 19:11 -- I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True. With justice he judges and makes war.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Listening for God

Edie over at Rich Gifts is doing her weekly random question. But I tell you her questions are anything but random. I think it should be "deep questions" or "important questions" but certainly not random. In any event, her questions this week is:

How do you recognize when God speaks to you?
God speaks to me always, sometimes, and rarely.

Always...I see God in everything and always think God is talking to me. Just read my blogs last week. I heard him saying "Be Set Apart for Me!" "Persevere in My Name!" and "I am the Resurrection and the Life!" I also hear him in the bible. I read the verses and relate them to my life. I check my thoughts against the bible. Are they accurate? I once worked with someone who said God said they could have sex before they got married. You know, if you check that against the bible, it just isn't so. I think that person needs to have their ears checked, or find out who is whispering those lies (Satan). I try to always test what I think against the bible to make sure I'm not confused by Satan who disguises himself as an angel of light and is the father of lies.

Sometimes...When I pray for specific answers, I don't always get them. But sometimes I do. It was important to me that my stepmom attend my daughters baptism. But she said she wouldn't go if my mom went. I couldn't not invite my mom. I just couldn't. As I sat in the rocking chair praying and crying for God to work it out, the phone rang. It was my stepmom saying she had thought it over and would attend. I know God changed her heart. You would to if you knew my mom. For my stepmom to attend, it was huge. There are lots of examples of times I prayed and nearly instantly got a response. But other time, I either didn't get an answer for a long time, or perhaps at all. (I've prayed for years for my mom to stop drinking, to be a mom, she never has). Maybe the answer was "no," in this case. Anyway, I don't always hear the answers, or at least the answers I'm looking for.

Rarely...Hearing the voice of God. I'm always in awe of folks who say "God told me....." Really? It's practically impossible to believe. I do believe them. But I wonder why God has a steady conversation with some, but not me. I thought I was his favorite? (just kidding - there is a t-shirt I saw that says "GOD LOVES YOU, BUT I'M HIS FAVORITE." I always joke to ADHD-Jo, my sister, that I want it.) But God doesn't talk to me in voice. Except once to my heart. I had been reading my least favorite bible story, one I didn't understand, but thought I did. I went into deep prayer and was crying and telling God I didn't understand why he would make the story that way because it just didn't make sense. I was in such deep meditation it was like I was nearly asleep, and suddenly God answered me. It was amazing. I got the true answer of the bible story. I understood it with clarity. I wept and asked for forgiveness for misunderstanding God. It was so incredible. I didn't hear a voice that was recognizable, but yet I knew the entire answer! One day I will blog on this whole story. I have actually submitted it to P31 magazine and am hoping they will publish it. If not, then I will share it here.

My opinion is that God is always speaking to us. We just have to listen. We also have to fight to not be deceived by Satan who whispers those lies in our ears. To do that, you have to be familiar with the Word of God (the bible) and then you can recognize his voice.

Exodus 15:26 -- He said, "If you listen carefully to the voice of the LORD your God and do what is right in his eyes, if you pay attention to his commands and keep all his decrees, I will not bring on you any of the diseases I brought on the Egyptians, for I am the LORD, who heals you."

Psalm 29:3 -- The voice of the LORD is over the waters; the God of glory thunders, the LORD thunders over the mighty waters.

Job 37:5 -- God's voice thunders in marvelous ways; he does great things beyond our understanding.