THE PRESENCE AT HIS SIDE

The future begins now…

You might make all the difference for both of you in this marriage if you choose to be the presence he needs.  The beginning of your marriage was hopeful and romantic, but down the road it sometimes got soggy, downright hard. This is where you can plan ahead with a picture in your heart and mind of what a good relationship with your husband can be – – and play it!

In “Submission is not Silence” I compared the Presence of the Holy Spirit to the amazing presence of a wife growing to become all she can be.  She is There!  She has Wisdom!  She offers the female perspective of: “created in God’s own image”.  Like the whisper of the Holy Spirit, her perspective might save the day.

You can ONLY do your part – – but it is powerful!

A man is not made to be all wise; he should not be expected to make decisions alone.  Sure, every man is creative, gifted in an important direction, he is smart and has strong opinions – – but he does not have perfect logic because “Does not wisdom cry? And understanding put forth her voice?”.  (Proverbs 8:1)

Your lives could have a “built in” safety by choosing to accept responsibility:  with your wisdom, your creative impulses and your vision.  Your lives with your direction and his will be the best you both come up with – – you might save him and yourself.

When we married, my strict upbringing led me to think that I should give all decisions to my husband.  I fretted in my soul, “I have all these ideas and thoughts, what do I do with them?”  I didn’t know that my new husband did not want to make decisions alone.  I was not “playing my role” and didn’t know it.

You are created “a help meet for him.” (Gen 2:18).  In Hebrew it means “a counterpart; a presence at his side.”  Why? Because God said it.  He must have thought, “It is not good for the man to be alone I will make him a presence at his side.”

You are created in God’s own Image as the man is:  “God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.” (Genesis1:27)

One night I was asleep in bed; sometime in the middle of the night I was awakened with something like a plague in my mind, in front of my eyes.  It said, “Get prepared.” And that was all. I said under my breath, “Lord, did you just speak to me?”  Tears came to my eyes as I turned on my back, stared into the darkness and contemplated the unusual awakening.

A few weeks later, Eric’s suitcase and computer were packed Sunday evening, ready for an early Monday flight out of Orlando International Airport. He had a business trip, past Seattle to Whidbey Island on the West Coast.  But an occasional spotting for a few weeks had turned into an ominous flow of blood during that evening. It took my most persuasive speech and our son Zachariah’s serious concern, to persuade him to go to the Emergency Room instead.

His coworker on the trip was new on the job; a team from around the country was to meet.  My responsible husband preferred to take a chance and go on the trip.  He could see a doctor when he returned home in five days.  He might not have returned.  He is here today because he listened to me and his youngest son.

For the next year our roles reversed, as the colon cancer was treated.  My determined husband was down.  It was my job to step up, make decisions, pay the bills.

What you may need to learn, what you may be called to do, what you discover you are able to do, may surprise you; but you are alert and ready to find out how to be the presence at his side.

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HELP, I’M BECOMING A GROUCH

The children and grandchildren were here; we were on a circle sidewalk at the playground and we looked at adult exercise possibilities in our neighborhood.  I was into our conversation and stepped back unthinking . . . we were in kids’ territory.  A ten or so year old boy on a bike was riding fast from behind and nearly hit me.  I spoke to him rather sternly, “When you are coming to someone from behind, say something, “Watch out, I’m coming by.”  His mother came from nowhere and defended her son angrily.  I made sure I had the last word, “He should have warned me; I ride bikes and always speak up.”  I was right Of course, but my intensity embarrassed my daughters in law and grandchildren.  I surprised myself, felt terrible for a long time . . . and still do. Where did that aggression come from?  Yesterday, I was at the grocery store, the teenage boy bagging my considerable amount of food, talked the whole time to the man at the register . . . no stopping . . . on and on and on, as he put my groceries in plastic bags.  I am ashamed, but I said to the man at the register, “You are a very patient man.” His calm acceptance of the “bag boy” and ignoring my demeaning statement smote my conscience.

I knew I had disrespected this young teenager who was serving me.  I had been hard on the young boy on the bike.  I had over talked his mother.

If I don’t watch it, I’m going to become a grouchy old woman.  I know better.   I purposefully think about respecting every living human being.  I know that they are created in God’s own image.  I’m grateful for being one of them.

So, as hours rolled by and the pain of my actions kept hitting my brain, I said about five times, “Lord, forgive me; I was demeaning, disrespectful and arrogant.”  And then when I was about to say, “Lord forgive” again, it was as if the knowledge of Who He is and who I am said silently, “Ok, that’s enough.”  Forgiven!

If I become a bitch, a grouch, a needy old woman, it will be my own fault.   “He restores my soul; He leads me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake . . .” (Psalm 23) He restored my hope and peace and calm once again.

Thank you, LORD.

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WHATEVER IS “WORSHIP MUSIC”…

We are an integral part of the Church, The Body of Christ.  When the Church weakens we suffer . . . when the Church prospers, we’re part of that!

The music in Church is called “Worship Music” . . . it can be either a strengthener, bringing a sense of nearness to God or it is part of a problem, i.e. entertainment with miked up sound, celebrities on stage and simplistic words

There can be more:  “speaking one to another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord. . .” (Ephesians 5:19.)  “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts unto God.” (Colossians 3:16).

A Church leader (the pastor, in fact) told me that the music must relate and appeal to many different types of people.  So at that church old hymns are not used, or if they are they are applied to a rock-and-roll beat.  He grew up with the old hymns and thinks they do not appeal to people.

I have a quandary:  what is not appealing in an ancient song?  Is the tune “old fashioned”?  Many hymns have lasted thousands of years.  The Psalms certainly have.  Are the words obsolete?  If they are truth from Scripture how can they be obsolete?

The hearts and souls today have the same needs as in time past.  What in a tune that Charles Wesley composed is ugly, unappealing?  What is not encouraging, comforting, instructive, inspiring?

Why is our deep, powerful history cut off from us by leaders in the Church!

Fanny Crosby was blind but composed songs, hymns and spiritual songs:  she wrote 9000 hymns.  (Christianity.Com).  Hymns such as:  “Blessed Assurance,” “Saved by Grace,” “Draw Me Nearer,” “Safe in the Arms of Jesus,” “All the Way My Savior Leads Me,” “To God Be the Glory,” “Jesus, Keep Me Near the Cross,” and “I Am Thine, O Lord,” not only expressed Fanny’s deep devotion to her Savior, but were backed up by a life that demonstrated the sentiments that she wrote about in her hymns.

The brothers John and Charles Wesley started a powerful, spiritual move.  Charles opened his Bible to Psalm 40:3 where he read, “He hath put a new song in my mouth; many will see and fear and will trust in the Lord.”  The next day he started his first hymn, probably it was “And Can It Be?”  It is a powerful, wondrous rejoicing in the freedom to be found in Christ:  Here are some of the words of “And Can It Be”:
Long my imprisoned spirit lay
Fast bound in sin and nature’s night;
Thine eye diffused the quickening ray
I woke, the dungeon flamed with light;
My chains fell off, my heart was free,
I rose, went forth, and followed Thee.

He believed in learning through song. Wesley wrote 6,500 hymns:  where are they?  They are here still. . . to be learned and sung and meditated on.  For decades there poured forth from him an unstoppable stream of spiritual songs.  Charles Wesley, like Martin Luther, believed hymns were a means of teaching theology.

The old songs have brought and taught us through an amazing history that glorifies Jesus Christ . . . the old together with the new: “Sing unto Him a new song; play skillfully with a loud noise.” (Psalm 33:3)

It is not too late to revisit and reuse at least some of the rich heritage of church music.  It’s not too late:  bringing our history in songs to the forefront of the Church will be part of our saving from a secular culture.  Indeed, we will rise above it in the power of the Holy Spirit.  Let’s find our roots . . . rooted in the power of the Word of God, hymns, and spiritual songs written by our Christian forebears . . .  A song or hymn or spiritual song accompanied by gifted artisans of music . . . or songs sung by beautiful voices a cappella, just with voices and harmonies . . .

All of us will be inspired, encouraged and strengthened.  We can still have the new but bringing the old back will be an exciting adventure.

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SILENT NO MORE

This Country, our United States, has a well known group called “The Silent Majority”. We speak, well, silently. We speak via voting, via choosing to eat at Chick-fil-A (particularly in New York City). We buy Bibles, more than one translation. We belong to a Church. We believe in our Christian heritage. We know that freedom is priceless. We allow others to disagree, because that is what the Bible teaches; it is what Jesus did . . . even allowing himself to be crucified.

We should be silent no more. There is too much at stake. Because we who know Jesus have the same power in us that created the heavens and earth. “For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.” (2 Corinthians 4:6) That power that raised Jesus from the dead is inside of every Believer!

As I’ve lived my life, a Preacher’s kid, it’s been important to grow in knowledge and to understand the wisdom of the Bible. I’m grateful to have been brought up reading it, to know a lot about it and consequently about the Almighty, All Knowing, and All Powerful Jehovah . . . about Jesus. I’ve been grateful. I wanted to grow spiritually, meaning, I would obey what I knew to be true and put it into practice in my life.

But sharing it? That was uncomfortable, unless I was asked. I would tell myself, “If the Lord wants me to testify about Him, He will open the door.”

Lately it is different. Why didn’t I think this way before? Now, because of the truth of the gospel, the reality of the forgiveness of my sins, eternal life through Jesus Christ, passion is rising. I’ve put a personal message with a Bible verse on piece of paper that I give out. I’m ready to speak up as a Christian. One beautiful server at a restaurant, I’d given her my paper message, walked up to Eric and me, “Are you Christians?” And we talked to her about Jesus.

We can speak “the truth in love” if we’re ready. (Ephesians 4:15) We who know Jesus, Who is the Way, the Truth and the Life, we know that He is the way to peace with God; we should be no longer the Silent Majority. We can be bold. Step up. Speak out . . . “Speaking the truth in love . . .”

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STAY NEAR THE SHEPHERD

Lately, the hope that God is involved in every moment in the lives of us, His children, came into question.

Can I, a faulty child of the Father, expect Him to answer every prayer?

Yesterday I was riding my bike home . . . there were six miles between me and home. The weather had reported “no rain” for the day. It began to lightly sprinkle. I prayed, “LORD, please don’t let it rain (or lightening) until I get home.” It sprinkled on and off. It did not begin to rain until I was three fourths of a mile from home. I walked into the house damp, not soaked, no lightening, safe.

I asked the LORD the question, “How much do You desire to be involved, to interact with me?”

Then I read Psalm 23. He is my shepherd: I shall not want (by implication to fail). He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul. He leads me in the paths of righteousness . . . I fear no evil for He is with me . . . comfort is present . . . a table is prepared . . . He anoints my head with oil . . . my cup runs over . . . goodness, mercy follow me all the days of my life . . . I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever . . .

Yes. The LORD is interested in every day, every hour, and every part of my life.

Keep close. Stay near the Shepherd.

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