Tuesday, December 9, 2014

One thing wives need to stop doing now

I've noticed a disturbing trend on both Facebook and Pinterest lately among some of my married friends.  It's been bothering me for a while now and it just seems like an issue that ought to be addressed.  Several of my married friends have been posting and pinning pictures of half-naked male models talking about how attractive these men are and how attracted they are to this type of man.  It's one thing for single women to drool over Greek god-like male figures, but it's quite another for a married woman to publicly talk about how attractive she finds men who are not her husband.  It is flat out disrespectful, not to mention hurtful, to the husbands.

In Ephesians 5, Paul is talking about marriage and how a husband and wife should treat each other.  The last thing he says in chapter 5 is  in regard to wives and I think it is particularly applicable to this situation.  He says, "So again I say, each man must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband" (Ephesians 5:33, NLT, emphasis added).  Ladies, it isn't optional.  We are told to respect our husbands.  It isn't always easy when they're behaving in ways contrary to what they ought, but that doesn't exempt us from living up to the way God wants us to treat them.  Posting and pinning pictures of men who are not our husbands is extremely disrespectful of our husbands and it can only do harm to our marriages.

Marriage is supposed to be sacred.  Certainly, we should treat it as though it were.  Once things like this start to creep in from the outside, it becomes a slippery slope.  At first, it's just a picture here and there.  Then perhaps it becomes going to women's clubs where men undress.  And then maybe it progresses to infidelity.  Ladies, it always starts small with something innocuous and once that small thing is a habit, we stop thinking of it as sin and we allow ourselves to get deeper into sin.  We have to be ever vigilant so that we don't let this kind of thing creep into our lives.

Think about how your would feel if the situation was reversed.  What if your husband was looking through a Playboy magazine and decided to get a subscription?  How would you feel?  If you're like me, you would feel betrayed, hurt, disrespected, and angry.  If you don't want the man you love to make you feel that way, then you sure shouldn't make him feel that way.

Perhaps you are thinking to yourself, "but my husband doesn't see what I post on Facebook or what I pin on Pinterest."  Maybe he doesn't.  But other people do.  People you are probably both friends with.  These people see how you treat your husband.  This is the example you are setting for them.  Likely not all of your friends are Christians.  We're supposed to be set apart from other people in this world so that others can see Jesus through us.  Treating your husband with such blatant disrespect is far from the example you should be setting.

Ladies, if this is you, please pray about it and consider how your actions affect your husband and those around you.  We all struggle with something, and sometimes we don't even realize how the things we do/say can be detrimental to our relationships.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Praise the Lord, O My Soul!

It has been a really fantastic day.  I love to go to church and worship in the company of other believers!  God indwells our praise, and I feel him the most when I am worshiping him in song.  There are few things I love more than singing praises to God.  It is so important for us to come together as believers and worship.

I hear people say that they can worship God anywhere and that they don't need a building set aside specifically for worship.  While it is true that God isn't contained by a building, we do still need to come together to worship.  We need other believers to pray with us, and we need to pray for other believers.  Having a church family gives us somewhere to go when we need help or guidance.  One purpose for having other believers in our lives is so that God has vessels through which he can work in our lives.  For example, my husband and I are building an addition to our house and doing the work ourselves.  We needed help in order to close it in and weatherproof it before some rain came, and our church family was there to help when we needed it.  If we didn't attend church and make our needs known to our church family, I sure don't know where we would have gotten help.  I am so incredibly grateful for them!

Another thing I hear people say about church is "I know so-and-so goes to that church so I won't go there" or "Church is nothing but a bunch of hypocrites anyway."  Really??  Those are nothing but excuses.  We are all sinners and we all fall short on a daily basis.  We aren't going to church for so-and-so and we aren't going to show others how righteous we are.  We're going to worship an Almighty God who, despite our failings and shortcomings and total inability to do anything worthy, saved us by His Grace.  El Roi, the God Who Sees, knows all of our own shortcomings and failures and loves us anyway, so who cares what so-and-so thinks or does or how many people say one thing on Sunday and live a totally different life during the week?  We go to church for God alone!  We go because HE is worthy of worship no matter what!

Going to church and corporately worshiping God is refreshing to our souls.  It really keeps me going from Sunday to Wednesday and then to Sunday again.  I learn so much that is helpful to my daily walk with the Lord; things I couldn't pick up just reading my Bible and not discussing it with other believers.  Ultimately, by giving my time, my praise and my worship to the Lord, it blesses me in so many ways.  Amen and amen!

Monday, November 3, 2014

No more excuses!

We all have sin in our lives.  We're all guilty of something that we just don't want to let go of.  From lying and cheating to eating too much, drinking too much, pornography, or whatever it is, there's always something in our lives.  I've struggled for most of my life with gluttony.  I just love food, and cooking, and eating, and feeding people.  There's nothing wrong with that, but when it comes to eating and stuffing myself full, well... that's not good.  I feel bad when it happens and I ask for forgiveness and strength to overcome the temptation.  One thing I try never to do, and that is make excuses for my sin.

Society has become really great at telling us that sin isn't our fault.  That we can't help it.  That we're born this way so why try to fight against our nature.  I call that a bunch of lies!  Personal responsibility is a thing of the past!  We make our own choices daily.  We choose to sin or we choose to follow Jesus.  In the same way I choose to control my eating, others can choose to control their drinking, or their viewing of porn, or their choice to have sexual relations with a member of the same sex.  It is a choice.  It may be a difficult choice; it may seem impossible, and there may be days where we choose to sin, but it's still our own free will allowing us to make the choice.

God forgives us when we ask, every single time, but when we choose to live in sin openly and without remorse, he can't forgive us.  We haven't asked.  We don't even acknowledge it as sin.  And the more we sin without repentance, the easier it gets for us until we've stopped viewing whatever it is we're doing as a sin.  If we have given our lives to Jesus, the Holy Spirit will be pricking our conscience when we're doing something wrong.  One of the fruits of the Spirit is self-control, which helps us when we're struggling with sin.  God promises that he will give us a way out if we pray for his help when we're fighting temptation.  (1 Cor. 10:13)

We've got to stop making excuses for our sin.  There's just no reason to.  God knows we struggle with it and he's ready to forgive us always if we just ask.  We need to stop making sin okay as a society.  The popular choice for Christians these days is to preach tolerance; we're all going to heaven and sin is okay because we're all born with a sinful nature anyway.  I'm sorry, but that's not what the Bible teaches and it may not be popular but it's the truth.  I would rather be unpopular because I told people the truth than to be responsible for leading people away from The Way, The Truth, and The Life.

Monday, October 27, 2014

More precious than rubies

I love to snuggle up with my husband in the evenings and watch a good show on Netflix.  It’s just so nice to curl up with him and relax after a day of running around the house doing whatever needs doing, running the kids wherever they need to go, making sure homework gets done, dinner is fixed and cleaned up, etc.  It’s comforting.  It’s safe.  It’s my happy place.  We sit together and unwind while watching comedies and crime, love stories and life stories.  

Most of the things we watch involve couples of various ages and stages.  Most of the time, my husband and I look at each other and say, wow, I’m so glad we aren’t like that as a couple!  So many of the couples portrayed on television these days are a less than stellar example of what a loving, committed couple should look like.  We as wives need to be careful of who we look up to in this fallen world.    Often, the couples on TV are disrespectful of each other, quick to anger and defense, and selfishness prevails rather than love and compassion.  The “virtuous wife” spoken of in Proverbs 31:10 is indeed hard to find if you’re looking at the television.  Our society glorifies their definition of “strong women.”  The definition of a strong woman according to today’s society seems to be this: a woman who leads her man around by his nose, telling him what to do and how to do it, doing what she wants when she wants to do it, and generally living life on her own terms.  Television characters like Laura on the Walking Dead, Lily on How I Met Your Mother, Cersei Lannister on Game of Thrones, Temperance Brennen on Bones, and Alison on Medium are examples of society’s definition and ideal as far as strong women are concerned.  I don’t think there is anything wrong with watching these shows, but I do think that we need to be very careful about idealizing these characters and emulating them.  It should be our daily prayer as wives for the Lord to shape us into the biblical version of a strong woman. 

If you read through Proverbs 31:10-31, you will see exactly how God defines a strong woman.  His Word tells us that this kind of woman is so valuable that she can’t even be compared to one of the most precious gemstones known to man!  I don’t know about you, but I would far rather be this valuable to my husband than to try and emulate society’s standards and fall despairingly short of God’s.  

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Teaching modesty, minus the shame

How many times have we as women thought about modesty in relation to what we wear every day?  Modesty is a concept that a lot of us have had drilled into us from early childhood.  In and of itself, it isn't necessarily a bad thing.  I want to portray class.  I want my daughter to be classy.  I don't want people to look at either of us and think that we are intentionally showing off our assets!  However, I do think that there is a middle ground somewhere between covering every part of our body and showing it all off.  There are detriments to teaching girls that they need to hide their bodies.

God designed the female body.  He designed it to be beautiful and attractive and that beauty and attraction shouldn't be viewed as a negative thing.  Women have curves and shape and we like to be, feel, and look pretty.  There isn't anything wrong with that!  The problem arises when society (largely the Christian society) makes women feel as though their bodies are something to be ashamed of.  We're made to feel like our natural beauty puts us at fault for making men stumble in their faith by lusting after us, whether or not we're conscious of our appearance.  Now, if we're trying to catch men's eyes by wearing skimpy clothing then we do have some responsibility there.  But if we're wearing jeans that fit well and a t-shirt and a man looks and lusts, that isn't our fault.  We cannot control the thoughts and actions of another person and we certainly aren't responsible for their sin.  In teaching modesty to our girls we are telling them that men can't control themselves so we are responsible for modifying how we dress in order that they don't have to control themselves.  What kind of logic is that?  It sets our girls up to grow into women who are ashamed of their bodies and uncomfortable around men; even their own husbands.  This goes back to my first post a couple of weeks ago about sexuality and being open about it and talking about sex.  We can't be comfortable talking about sex with anyone, much less our spouses, if we are made to feel ashamed of our bodies.  Read that post here: A Bold Beginning

Teaching women that their bodies are a source of sin for men has produced a culture which believes that rape is the fault of the woman.  I cannot stress enough how wrong this view is.  Ladies, you are not at fault if a man makes the conscious choice to commit rape.  He chose, based on his own lust and sinful nature, to commit an atrocious act against your will.  You did not choose for him by wearing clothing he found attractive.  He had the choice to act or to refrain from acting.  I am a rape victim and it was not my fault.  I did not choose it; he did.  It wasn't because I had a lack of modesty.  I wasn't wearing a mini skirt; I wasn't wearing a shirt showing cleavage or tight-fitting pants; it would not have mattered if I had been.  In fact, it had nothing to do with me personally and everything to do with the man's sinful nature and his willingness to give in to that sinful nature.  Teaching girls/women to cover up their bodies and hide behind loose-fitting, frumpy clothing just teaches us that it is our own fault.  We should no more be ashamed of our bodies, which were designed by God Himself, than we should be ashamed of the beauty of a sunrise.

My daughter is 11 years old.  I want to teach her modesty.  But I don't want to teach her to cover up her beauty or to take on responsibility for a sin which isn't her own.  I believe we can find a middle ground here.  I believe we can teach our girls healthy sexuality without compromising their wholesomeness.

If you'd like to read more, Sheila Wray Gregoire has written a wonderful blog entry about modesty here: Is the Christian Modesty Message Causing Women To Be Ashamed of Their Bodies?

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Dealing with anger

"Understand this, my dear brothers and sisters: You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry.  Human anger does not produce the righteousness God desires."  James 1:19-20 NLT

I had an incident this afternoon where someone close to me said something hurtful on social media and I got angry.  If you're like me, your first instinct is to respond in some way.  I wanted to defend against the remarks and point out how wrong this person was to say such a hurtful thing in a public way.  I had even convinced myself that maybe my anger was righteous anger.  And then I read James 1:19-20.  The anger slowly started to recede in the face of what God says about it.  

My New Living Testament Bible has a note next to the word "righteousness" in verse 20.  It says that the word righteousness here can also be translated as justice.  I read the verse again, substituting justice for righteousness, and wow!  It spoke to me in a new and vivid way.  My anger over the situation this afternoon could have led to something completely different than what God had in mind if I had chosen to act on it.  God's sense of justice is just not even close to ours!  He sees the big picture.  He understands why the person who hurt me today said what they said and He knows what to do about it even if I don't, and even when I think I know what ought to be done about it.  His Word says I need to be "slow to get angry."  So instead of being hurt and offended and then angry, I need to be "quick to listen" and try to understand the position of the person who has angered me and then let go of that anger.  God will deal with the person justly, and it isn't up to me to determine how that should be.  

Before I read verse 20 with justice inserted instead of righteousness, I used to think that being angry in itself was a bad thing because it made me unrighteous.  Well who wants to be unrighteous??  Not this girl!  So I was berating myself for being angry and that really isn't the point here.  The point is that the fruits of our anger produce consequences that the Lord does not desire.  When we respond to someone in anger, we choose to take God's justice into our own hands.  I don't know about you, but I sure didn't think about it that way before.  I want to be slow to get angry.  I don't like being angry; who does??  Perhaps if we're all quicker to listen (with the intent to hear the speaker, and without thinking about our reply while they're speaking) then we'll be slower to get angry and less likely to take God's justice into our own less-than-capable hands.  I would so much rather He be responsible for the justice than me anyway, because He's perfect in his decisions and I am so not!    

Monday, September 29, 2014

A bold beginning

My very first blog entry.  You'd think I would pick something innocuous to talk about; how to better organize your time, maybe, or respecting your husband more, etc.  Nope.  My first blog is going to be about sex.  S. E. X.  Why, you ask?  Because we don't talk about it enough in the right context!

If you're like me, you were raised in a home where sex was sort of a taboo topic.  Sure, we knew what it was (well, mostly anyway) and that it happened around us, but we didn't *gasp* talk about it out loud.  Heaven forbid.  My best friend and I couldn't even say the word sex, so we made up a code word!  But that's so ridiculous!  Growing up not talking about it and viewing sex as something to be kept under the table and as something dirty did not do me any favors as an adult.  It didn't do my husband any favors either because I couldn't tell him what I wanted or that I wanted!  Sex is an important part of marriage and it's healthy to talk to your spouse about it.  If we can't talk to our spouse about our needs and desires our sex life will suffer.  Ladies, the number one way in which your husband feels truly connected to you emotionally is during sex.  Personally, I want to show my husband how much I love him in every way I can.  This meant that I had to get over that fear of talking about sex.  When I did, my goodness!  What a world opened up for us!  Sure, there's a learning curve, but we were learning together and it was fun!  I felt like a teenager again!

We've got to get over this idea that sex is dirty and disgusting and that we shouldn't speak of it.  Sex within marriage is one of God's gifts to us.  We truly can become one flesh and even be worshipful during sex with our spouse.  It isn't something to be hidden and talked about in hushed tones like it's forbidden and disgusting.  Sex is a beautiful thing between two people who love each other and are committed to loving each other.  I want my kids to know that sex in marriage is a good thing; a healthy thing; and that it isn't something to be ashamed of.  I want them to know how to talk about sex and sexual matters comfortably so that they can develop a healthy attitude towards sex and empower their future spouses to be open about it as well.

It's even important to God that we talk about sex.  There's a whole book of the Bible full of beautiful imagery related to marital sex!  We don't talk about that book in the Bible either!  Song of Solomon is a beautifully written dialogue between a husband and wife.  It's loving and tender, passionate and erotic.  If God saw fit to guide one of the wisest men who ever lived (Solomon) to write a book about sex then surely we should be able to discuss it and use the wisdom in that book to guide our sexual experience!

So, there it is folks.  My first blog entry.  I hope y'all enjoyed it!  Come back now, ya hear?