Even If

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This morning I was so encouraged by the new mercy I received from the Lord. You know how sometimes He just seems to grab your attention in a new way that will stick with you forever? Well that was me this morning. On my way into work I was just spending some time praying with God and felt like He was probing me with the question, “Will you still praise me even if ____________?” Honestly, you could fill in that blank with anything. Even if your life doesn’t look like how YOU plan it to look? Even if you feel stuck? Even if you receive bad news from a family or friend? Even if you don’t understand? Even if it doesn’t look like there’s a light at the end of the tunnel?

It’s a question we all have to ask ourselves at some point or another. But I believe that in the asking, we are able to get real honest, and then ask the Lord to help us in our unbelief; to be faithful when we are not; to give us faith in the midst of doubt. And He will. His mercies are new every morning. And just like Psalm 5:12 says, “…but it is You who blesses the righteous man, O Lord, You surround him with favor as with a shield.”

When we take refuge in God, He shelters us with His lovingkindness. We can sing for joy at the work of His hands. We can praise him “Even if.”

Doing a New Thing

This post is going to be short and sweet. I just wanted to share a new thing the Lord is doing in my heart. As a recap, Matt and I have been feeling very busy for the past two years. He started working 60+ hours a week during football and lacrosse season, and I have been working full time as well. We’ve been very involved with our Sunday School class and teaching high school Sunday School as well. We’ve also bought a house and been working on getting unpacked and settled in. We’ve travelled a whole lot for weddings and seeing family. It’s been crazy!

Unfortunately, when we get busy, we tend to drop things. The most important things. Like spending quality time with the Lord and investing in our relationship with Him. We began feeling convicted that everything was taking priority over sitting and allowing ourselves enough time to hear from the Lord. So we’ve had to look at our schedules and our lives and ask where we can create some margins.

It was hard. But after many months of prayer and talking through it, the verse God kept bringing me back to was “be still and know that I am God.” I think I do well with the whole “know that I am God” part, but it’s the “be still” I’ve been missing, and therefore essentially have been missing out on really knowing God. As a result, we’ve decided to step down as Sunday School teachers. It was a super hard decision because we both LOVE it so much. But we began to feel like we weren’t able to give our best to the students because we weren’t feeding ourselves with the Word first. It’s impossible to give to someone else what you don’t possess yourself. So we are taking a break from teaching in order to really focus on our relationships with the Lord foremost, and then on quality time in our marriage next. The Lord is so faithful and has been so good to us, so we don’t want to miss out on all that He has for our lives by being so distracted by our normal “routine.”

I’m SO excited for this next season with the Lord and with my husband. One of our friends called it, “addition by subtraction,” and that’s exactly what it is. By subtracting something in our schedules, we’ve been able to have some margins to add really spending time with the Lord and with one another. I can honestly say that in the few short weeks since we decided to step down, we have already seen such spiritual breakthrough. I am amazed at the Lord for the way He honors obedience. I’m so thankful that His guidance was clear and that He continues to affirm that this was His leading in our lives.

I would encourage any of you who may be feeling the same way (like you don’t have any spare moments), to take a good look at your schedule and sincerely ask the Lord if He wants to move some things around. Maybe He does, maybe He doesn’t. Maybe He just wants you to give your schedule to Him and trust Him with the results. Whatever the outcome, I know you won’t be disappointed if you do what He asks you to do. He is faithful. Take some time to enjoy Him and find that out first hand!

Practicing Gratefulness

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I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. When you buy a new house, there is a constant battle that goes on in your mind with all of your new wants, and striving to be content with what you have. It’s a natural thing to want to furnish a home and set it up as cozy and comfortable as possible. And there’s nothing wrong with that as long as you don’t start to idolize those desires. It’s been a fun process of deciding what’s most important to buy first and what things can wait.

Matt and I decided living room furniture was next on the list because we currently have one couch in our living room (that we dearly love) but that doesn’t leave a lot of room for guests to sit if we have them over. We’ve joked about having a BYOCC (Bring Your Own Camping Chair) policy if people want to sit anywhere but the floor or squished on the couch when they come over. So needless to say, we were so excited about saving up our money and buying new living room furniture.

Well……..we can dream right? Turns out our cars were feeling a little under the weather and needed to be taken care of. Unfortunately, they are rather needy cars and don’t settle for minor fixes. They require a lot of attention when they decide to stop working properly, leaving us with a major hole in our emergency fund. All that goes to say, the money that we thought was going to go towards new furniture has now been invested into our cars, so the BYOCC policy will have to remain in effect for a little while longer while we re-save.

SO, tonight I made a little chalkboard sign to remind us to be grateful. Because so often we can look at these circumstances and get really bummed out. So we needed a visual reminder to look on every day that we have been incredibly blessed.

To name a few things:

  • First and foremost, we have Jesus. The author and finisher of our faith who provides for our every single need.
  • Each other. God has blessed us with a wonderful marriage and a 2-year wedding anniversary coming around the corner.
  • Our family. We have the most incredible support system on both sides.
  • Our friends. God has given us lifelong friends that sharpen, encourage, and challenge us. As well as just making life fun.
  • Our church. We have an amazing church that preaches the Word and really lives like the Body of Christ.
  • A brand new house with a one year warranty on everything.
  • A vacation coming up that we’ve saved for for 6 months and is already completely paid for. Hallelujah.
  • The cars that we do have, no matter how problematic they may be, are both paid in full.
  • Food. We’re never without food or access to food.
  • Our health.
  • Our jobs and the fact that Matt’s on summer vacation!

AND about a billion more things. We are blessed. So when it comes down to it, gratitude really does turn what we have into enough. It changes our perspective and encourages us to use what God’s given us to be a blessing to others.

So tell me, what are you thankful for? How do you practically practice gratitude? I’d love to hear some of your ideas!

Want vs. Contentment

I like stuff. I like clothes, shoes, accessories and gadgets. And even more recently added to the list is HOME DECOR! I absolutely LOVE home stuff. Furniture, paint, organizing systems, wall art, throw pillows, etc. You name it, and it’s probably on my giant “Home Wish List” on my phone. I think I’ve always known this about myself, but with the purchase of our first home, the desire to accumulate all this “stuff” has hit me full force, almost to the point where I feel blindsided by it. I genuinely want my house to feel organized and welcoming, and in my worldly mind, I feel like the more I can buy/DIY to help me in that endeavor, the better!

But here’s my problem. I know that no matter how much I buy or paint or decorate, it’s not going to satisfy my desire for “more.” And that’s the battle I’ve been feeling recently. I know there is nothing wrong with having a beautiful home or with owning material possessions. But I know there IS a problem when I let those material possessions own me. As Christians, we know we are to be content because God has given us more than we could ever ask or imagine in His Son, Jesus. And we also know that God has given us everything pertaining to life and godliness (2 Peter 1:3). Not to mention, we know that if the heavenly Father feeds the birds of the air and clothes the lilies of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is gone, He will much more take care of our needs! (Matthew 6). But yet, we are still prone to worry and fret, even though our heavenly Father has NEVER neglected our needs.

Ergo, this battle of wanting more versus my striving for contentment ensues. So how do I combat these two opposing desires? One way for sure, is to practice gratefulness. The more I practice being thankful for all the things the Lord has given me and blessed me with that I do not deserve, the easier it becomes to let go of some of those material possessions because I realize how abundantly blessed I am. I have not mastered this. It is an ongoing battle. But I am grateful to God for bringing it to my attention that I may not be swept up in the “American Dream,” focusing on all the stuff and remembering all the riches that I have in Christ.

“But godliness is actually a means of great gain when accompanied by contentment. For we have brought nothing into the world, so we cannot take anything out of it either. If we have food and covering, with these we shall be content. But htose who want to get rich fall into temptation and a snare and many foolish and harmful desires which plunge men into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all sorts of evil, and some by longing for it have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs. But flee from these things, you man of God, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, perseverance and gentleness.” (1 Timothy 6:6-11)

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You Wear the Victor’s Crown

This past Sunday at church, the beautiful and talented Abby Hoenstine sang a song that blew my mind. I had never heard it before and it seemed like every word pierced my heart. I haven’t been able to get it out of my head since, so I thought I would share it with anyone who wasn’t there and, like me, might not have heard it before.

The name of the song is “Victor’s Crown” by Darlene Zschech. Amazing.

You are always fighting for us
Heaven’s angels all around
My delight is found in knowing
That You wear the Victor’s crown
You’re my help and my defender
You’re my Saviour and my friend
By Your grace I live and breathe
To worship You.

At the mention of Your greatness
In Your Name I will bow down
In Your presence fear is silent
For You wear the Victor’s crown
Let Your glory fill this temple
Let Your power overflow
By Your grace I live and breathe
To worship You.

Hallelujah
You have overcome, you have overcome
Hallelujah
Jesus You have overcome the world.

You are ever interceding
As the lost become the found
You can never be defeated
For You wear the Victor’s crown
You are Jesus the Messiah
You’re the Hope of all the world
By Your grace I live and breathe
To worship You.

Hallelujah
You have overcome, you have overcome
Hallelujah
Jesus You have overcome the world.

Every high thing must come down
Every stronghold shall be broken
You wear the Victor’s crown
You will overcome, you will overcome.

At the cross the work was finished
You were buried in the ground
But the grave could not contain You
For You wear the Victor’s crown.

Hallelujah
You have overcome, you have overcome
Hallelujah
Jesus You have overcome the world.

Every high thing must come down
Every stronghold shall be broken
You wear the Victor’s crown
You will overcome, you will overcome.

original lyrics source

With Easter just a few days away, I am so thankful for the freedom to focus on the Cross of Christ and His glorious resurrection. Jesus’ death paid the penalty for our sins. His burial confirms the finality of the end of sin for all those who put their trust in Him. His resurrection is HOPE for life, freedom from sin and life everlasting. The Gospel. So pure. SO beautiful. I’m so grateful to God for rescuing me out of the domain of darkness and leading me into everlasting life. Don’t let Easter pass you by this year. Spend some time meditating and celebrating the cross and the redemption that we have received in Jesus. He is WORTHY.

Dedicating Our House

About a month ago we went and dedicated our house to the Lord by writing Scripture on the walls and praying for all that would enter our home. We really want everyone who enters our home to feel the love of the Christ and to be exposed to His hospitality. We felt the best way to remind ourselves of our main objective in owning a home would be to write the Word of God on the beams and foundation of our home so that we will always remember the center of our home is Jesus.

“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. These words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand and they shall be as frontals on your forehead. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.” -Deuteronomy 6:5-9

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We wrote these verses on the walls of our master bedroom to remember that we are responsible to die to ourselves daily and to exhibit this kind of love to one another and all those we invite into our home.

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As the leader of our home and the spiritual head of our household, Matt wrote these sweet verses at the entrance of our home. I’m so thankful to have a husband who truly desires for his household to serve the Lord, Jehovah, the living God.
We are currently TWO WEEKS away from closing on our house!! I can barely contain my excitement. Every time we go up to visit our house I literally squeal with delight at all the progress that has been made. At this point, dramatic changes are happening EVERY DAY! It’s so fun watching it all come together. Thanks, everyone for your continued excitement and prayers on our behalf! We can’t wait to host you in our new home!

The Beauty of Submission

SUBMIT, WOMAN!

Have you ever heard those words? Either meant seriously or in a joking manner? Probably every woman on the face of the planet has in the very least been acquainted with the idea of submission. In America especially, submission is VERY unpopular word. The concept makes many cringe at the thought. It seems outdated and male chauvinistic. BUT, please bear with me. I promise by the end of this post you’ll have a different perspective with which to think about submission. And you might just like it!

First, we have to ask: When did submission first come into play?

Some believe at creation, others believe it is a consequence of the Fall of Man, and others might believe that it came much later. But I’d challenge you to look at Scripture with me a little bit closer. Let’s collectively zoom into Genesis chapter 1 verse 1: “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.” Stop. In the beginning, GOD. Now, lets move over to verse 26 of the same chapter: “Then God said, ‘Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness…” Do you see that? God said, ‘Let US, OUR.” Meaning none other than the Trinity. God the Father, God the Son (Jesus Christ) and the Holy Spirit. It is in THIS relationship that we FIRST see submission. Jesus submitted to the Father’s will when He willing gave up the treasures of heaven to come to earth to die on the cross for our sins. Before he faced the cross, He prayed, ‘My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; yet not as I will, but as You will” (Matthew 26:39). He didn’t want to face the cross, but Jesus recognized that the outcome of His death would make a way for mankind to be reconciled to God, bringing His Father glory.

Let this be clear: Submission is NOT a result of the Fall. Before the entrance of sin, God put Adam in the garden of Eden to ‘cultivate it and keep it.’ (Gen. 1:15) After this, the Lord said ‘it is not good for the man to be alone; I will make him a helper suitable for him’ (1:18). Did you catch that? Role responsibilities before Eve was even created! Before sin ever entered the picture! Man was to cultivate the land and keep it (work, provide, protect) and Eve was to be his helper (help-mate, come along-side to help accomplish his God-given tasks, submit to his leadership).

Okay, that was a long intro, but I promise it was necessary to have a proper understanding of the submission concept!

Ask yourself:

How do YOU view submission? Has this changed over the years or since you got married? Is it harder or easier? For me personally, I believe submission to be necessary, right, and true but even more HARD. Submission is hard! But we practice submission every day in all kinds of various relationships:

  • employer/employee
  • government/citizen
  • parents/children
  • husbands/wives
  • God/creation

Yet which one do we fight the MOST? Husband and wife. We have to remember that husbands and wives are completely EQUAL in value and importance, we just have different role responsibilities. Genesis 1:27 says, “God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.” We are NOT in any way talking about a difference in value. God’s Word is exceptionally clear that men and women are created equally in His image. But just like a manager and an employee of a company are both vital to that company, they have to operate different roles and tasks in order for the company to run as smoothly as possible. Ephesians 5:22-23 reveals to us that God’s ultimate intention for headship and submission in marriage is to reflect the relationship of Christ and the church. “The husband is to mirror the sacrificial love of Christ by laying down his life for his wife, and the wife is to exemplify the church’s joyful submission to Christ by following her husband’s leadership” (138). God designed submission for His glory. When we recognize that, we experience far more blessings than if we are to continuously fight it.

So WHY do we fight submission? What in us makes submission so hard? Well, after the Fall, there were consequences. Right? Right. Genesis 3:16 lays out the woman’s specific consequences for her sin, “…Yet your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you.” Mahaney puts it this way,

“The form and context of the word desire actually has a negative connotation–an urge to manipulate, control, or have mastery over. Because of the curse, we now have a sinful tendency to want our own way and to resist our husband’s authority” (140).

So in reality, the submissive wife, who is portrayed as weak-willed in our culture, is actually a model of inner strength. By God’s grace, she has conquered this opposition within her own heart. “It is actually weakness on display when a wife is not submissive; she is only caving in to her natural inclination to usurp authority and demand her own way. That doesn’t take any effort at all” (140).

I think the reason we buck up against submission is not because we don’t agree with the command, but rather because it is HARD. We would rather be lazy.

We have to get out of our lazy-rutt and act in obedience to God no matter how much we might not initially want to. It is the only way our marriages will perform as God intended them to.

Ask yourself: 

Do I make it difficult for my husband to lead? [Think about your attitude, countenance, sarcasm, leading yourself or trying to lead him, shooting down his ideas, brushing off his requests, etc.]

When I was a teenager, a friend of mine was telling me about how his mom was constantly complaining about how her husband didn’t step up and lead the family enough. His response was, “Well if you want him to step up, you have to step down and let him!” That has resonated with me ever since. Oftentimes as women (and women who have a more outgoing personality or tendency to lead especially) we like to take the reigns and run with them. But then we find ourselves wishing our husbands did more. But in reality, we have to check ourselves and see if we are actually the ones who need to step down in order for our husbands to step up. There’s not room for two in the pilot seat.

Also, we cannot blame our husbands for our lack of submission. Just like we wouldn’t want them to blame us for their lack of leadership. We each have responsibilities and we need to take care of the ones directed towards us. Remember, Titus 2:3-5 says, “…being submission to their own husbands, so that the word of God will not be dishonored.” [emphasis mine]. As married women, we are not to submit to ALL men, but rather to our OWN husbands. One man. ONE MAN, ladies! We can do this!

As a disclaimer, I must add: There are no excuses to this mandate (see 1 Peter 3:1-6) but there are exceptions. We should NEVER follow our husband’s leadership into sin. God’s authority trumps theirs, so if your husband ever tries to lead you down a path that would dishonor God and go against His Word, do not submit. Seek counsel and help from a trusted outside source.

The bottom line is this: Do you trust God enough to lead your husband to lead you?

Susan Hunt puts it rather beautifully in her book, The True Woman:

“The true woman is not afraid to place herself in a position of submission. She does not have to grasp; she does not have to control. Her fear dissolves in the light of God’s covenant promise to be her God and to live within her. Submission is simply a demonstration of her confidence in the sovereign power of the Lord God.”

Remember ladies, Jesus is the embodiment of pure submission. Let’s emulate Him in our marriages to our husbands so that we, too, may glorify God in our obedience to the Father. This is true feminine appeal that draws a watching world to the gospel of Christ.

The Rewards of Kindness

Chapter 7 of Feminine Appeal deals with the topic of “kindness.” This seems at first glance like a no brainer. But kindness is actually harder than we like to admit sometimes.

Have you ever been surprised at how unkind you can be? I sure have!  There have been too many times when I have caught myself thinking, saying or doing things that I am not proud of.

Carolyn Mahaney prefaces this topic explaining that in order to tease out the full meaning of the imperative to be kind, we must also address the topic of doing good. For goodness is implicit in the definition of the Greek word for “kind” in this passage. Kindness and goodness can often be used interchangeably, but there are actually some differences between the two traits. Jerry Bridges explains:

kindness: the sincere desire for the happiness of others

goodness: the activity calculated to advance that happiness.

You can’t have the effectual rewards of one without the other. Just having the desire for the happiness of others doesn’t get you anywhere. And just doing things for other people’s happiness isn’t genuine–it’s people pleasing.

Just like talk and no walk, or walk and no talk. Only leads to hypocrites and “good people” with no explanation or display of the gospel.

First, we must ask for help before we try to do act in kindness or goodness. Just like every other topic we have covered. John 14:26 says, “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you.” Kindness is a fruit of the Holy Spirit living within us. He is the One who produces this fruit in our lives. When we try to accomplish it on our own, we are going to come up short.

There are THREE main hindrances to kindness:

  1. Anger
  2. Bitterness
  3. Judging

1.) Anger

Just like a sponge, when circumstances arise that squeeze us, what is inside is revealed. Matthew 15:18 says, “But the things that proceed out of the mouth come from the heart, and those defile the man.” Anger is when we desire something more than we desire to please God. Expressions of anger reveal sinful desires in our hearts, cravings that are not being satisfied. Is that convicting? Often times we desire peace and quiet, convenience and ease, a clean and orderly house, appreciation and recognition, MORE than we desire to glorify God by being kind.

The solution is to humbly submit our sinful cravings to God. This requires humility, but we have God’s pledge that He will give grace to the humble (James 4:6). He will help us turn from anger and cultivate kindness (121).

2.) Bitterness

Bitterness is based upon somebody else’s sin who is close to us, and who did something to us. It has everything to do with the proximity to us. “As wives and mothers, we must be especially wary of developing bitterness toward our husbands and children–our closest relationships” (122). Ephesians 4:31 instructs us to “get rid of all bitterness.” So HOW do we do that?

The solution is forgiveness. Ephesians 4:32 says, “Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.” For when we remember how much we have been forgiven, only then will we have the capacity to forgive. By pondering the cross, our perspective can be transformed, because we then realize that all of our offenses against a holy God make us just as guilty as the person who has wronged us. When we can receive forgiveness from God, we must also extend forgiveness just as He did in Christ.

3.) Judging

Judging is looking for other’s faults, and without valid or sufficient reason, forming unfavorable opinions of their qualities, words, actions, or motives.” Also known as looking for the worst in others. Often we make negative assumptions about others only to find out later that we were completely wrong. Mahaney states, “Sinful judging can wreak havoc with the desire for our husbands’ and children’s happiness; therefore, we must be vigilant in our efforts to resist this temptation” (125).

The solution is repentance. We MUST enlist the Holy Spirit’s aid to making loving judgments. When we repent from judging, we will gain fresh passion for our families’ happiness. We must not presume we are judging a situation correctly. We must ASK if we are perceiving the situation accurately with humility and kindness.

Questions to ponder:

  1. If you were to rate yourself on a scale of 1 to 10 of your kindness before marriage and now, how would the results fall? More kind? Or less kind?
  2. If family and friends were to use one word to describe your character, do you have any idea what they would say?

Scripture makes it clear what we should be known for:

  • praying (James 5:16-18)
    • No one can pray for our husbands and families better than we can!
  • greeting (Romans 16:16)
    • How do you greet your husband when he comes home? (or when you come home to him?)
    • Are you greeting/being greeted with enthusiasm?
  • listening (Proverbs 20:5)
    • Do you practice listening? I think this skill is increasingly difficult for our generation because we have so many distractions. We must PRACTICE the art of listening! Not just hearing, but understanding.
    • Have sincere interest in what our husbands and children are saying. Don’t interrupt, look away, yawn, or take over the conversation.
  • encouraging (Proverbs 12:25)
    • How do we talk to and about husbands and family members? We should be on the lookout for praiseworthy actions that glorify God–then give specific encouragement.
  • planning (Proverbs 22:3, 21:5)
    • Planning ahead to do good works. This is the “calculated” part of kindness and goodness. This could mean planning to hide ourselves and family from trouble as well as planning to initiate good works.

A lot of these acts of kindness do not lend themselves to immediate return. We must think of them as an investment for greater return later in life. “Marriage will become more precious. Motherhood will grow more dear. The rewards will start coming–with bigger and bigger returns” (133). Regardless of who takes notice in this life, God is watching. He is recording every expression of kindness and every act of goodness. What greater incentive could there be to advance our families’ happiness?

HOMEWORK:

  • In which of these five acts of goodness would you most like to improve on?
  • How do you plan on seeking to change?

The Honor of Working at Home

Well….hello.

I feel like I need to introduce myself to my readers again because I’ve been gone for so long. With all the craziness of Christmas and a new year, building a house, and being on the job search again, my blog has taken the backseat, totally unintentionally. I honestly didn’t realize it had been so long since I had updated and for that, I apologize! So, without further ado, let me finish my summaries of Feminine Appeal for those of you who have been following along. Our Wednesday night group just finished last Wednesday, so I’m not too terribly behind, right? Ha, right.

Chapter 6 is titled, “The Honor of Working at Home,” which could quite possibly be a source of debate among some of you. So let me preface this by saying, there is no biblical mandate that says the wife and mother is sinning if she does not work at home. Absolutely not! There are definitely circumstances that do not allow that to happen, and people who would prefer to have a career outside the home. This is not intended to induce guilt by any stretch of the mind, so please don’t think this is some legalistic virtue that binds women to ONLY household duties and mothering. It is merely an encouragement to priorities these roles over other things and for us to realize the great honor that comes with it.

Titus 2:3-5 says,

“Older women likewise are to be reverent in their behavior, not malicious gossips nor enslaved to much wine, teaching what is good, so that they may encourage the younger women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be sensible, pure, workers at home, kind, being subject to their own husbands, so that the word of God will not be dishonored.”

Let’s all start on the same page here. Obviously, we are living in a post-feminism movement society. So let’s ask ourselves:

  • In what ways have we been influenced by the toxic feminist air that we have been breathing for the last several decades?

The media feeds us constant lies that being a wife and a mother is less honorable than having a career. Mahaney states, “Feminism has failed to deliver as advertised. Yet feminism philosophy has become thoroughly integrated into the values of mainstream society–so much so, that it has been absorbed and applied by the majority of women, even many who do not consider themselves feminist. Ask yourself: “Have I been seduced?” For me, having a career seems more glamourous sometimes–especially in my 20’s. It seems glamourous to have a nice paycheck, be able to buy nice clothes, travel for work, and to meet all kinds of people in all walks of life; to not be “tied down” at home.

  • But how does Scripture convince us to think differently about “working at home?”

1 Timothy 5:14 counsels the younger widows to marry, bear children, and manage their households.

Proverbs 31 we have the ideal wife and mother who’s sphere of work centered around the home.

1 Timothy 5:8 clearly states that men are responsible to be the providers for the home while women are responsible to be the caretakers of the home.

However the KEY is this:

“Scripture provides examples of godly women who worked in other settings and earned extra income, but never to the neglect of their families and homes” (104).

Working at home should be a constant and ongoing priority in our lives. Seasons of our lives will change and working outside the home will not compromise our work in the home. Especially before children and after they have left the house. However, whenever we contemplate opportunities outside of the home, we must first consider what consequences they might have on our families. That includes our motives for working outside the home. Ask yourself the following questions:

  1. What are my reasons for considering this opportunity? Are they selfish or God-honoring?
  2. Will pursuing this venture glorify God and honor the gospel?
  3. Is this an undertaking that will help my husband?
  4. Will it enhance and enrich the lives of my family?
  5. Does this endeavor hinder my role as caretaker of my home?

Let us remember, though, Scripture doesn’t say that wives and mothers are sinning if they work outside the home. Let that be clear! There will be some women in circumstances that do not allow them the choice. However, our PRIORITY should always be to our husband, children, and home first.

In all of this, we must know where our ability to do this comes from. Psalm 28:7 says, “The LORD is my strength and my shield; in Him my heart trusts and I am helped.” God is the One who has called you to be a homemaker, and He will supply all the strength you need as you look to Him (107).

Scripture has provided a job description for us as managers of our homes, and it is surprisingly simple: We are to be our husband’s helper. (Genesis 1:26-31, 2:7-25, 1 Cor. 11:8-9) We can easily determine what we should do and how we should do it by asking ourselves: “What will most help my husband?” As Douglas Wilson puts it, “The man needs THE help, the woman needs TO help” (109). That is our God given role and God-equipped nature.

  • How is your attitude at home while you are “homemaking?” Would your husband and family describe you as happy?

REMEMBER: Proverbs 31:13 says “she works with her hands in delight!”

The tasks have to get done, you might as well make them fun!

The goal of all of this is so our homes can actually be a showcase for the gospel. In God’s economy, homemaking is a high and noble calling!

Our homes should be our families’ safe haven. It is our responsibility to make that happen.

HOMEWORK:

  1. Ask your husband what you can do that will be MOST helpful to him this week.
  2. What is one new skill of homemaking you’d like to acquire?
  3. Keep this as a constant issue of prayer in every season of your life.

The Pleasure of Purity

First of all, my apologies for the delay in getting this posted. I’ve been crazy busy lately and haven’t made the time to make it happen! So without further ado…

“The Pleasure of Purity.”

“Older women likewise are to be reverent in their behavior, not malicious gossips nor enslaved to much wine, teaching what is good, so that they may encourage the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be sensible, pure, workers at home, kind, being subject to their own husbands, so that the word of God will not be dishonored.” -Titus 2:3-5

Usually when we think of the word “purity” we think of being pure before we are married, not having sex before marriage and guarding our thoughts before marriage. But in this passage, Paul is addressing the older women to teach the younger women who are married to be pure. So what does that mean? What does purity in marriage look like?

The Effects of Our Culture:

Unfortunately, “our culture has pushed marital sex into the backroom and instead celebrates immoral sex” (82). Just by watching TV, movies, or reading magazines, we get the impression that the only people having sex (or “good sex”) are the ones who aren’t married. Martial sex on the other hand is portrayed as bland and routine. God never intended for that to be the case.

God’s Purpose and Design:

Scripture actually encourages marital sex and has a good deal to say about it! Only God, in His infinite wisdom, could create sex and showcase His approval of it in marriage in an entire book of the Bible: Song of Solomon. (Not to mention the various other Scripture that speak to this topic.) Often times, in Christian homes, sex is portrayed as something to hide, something embarrassing, or something that is bad. However, Mahaney reminds us, “Our sexual desire is not evil because God Himself has created it. He is not embarrassed about our sexual nature, and neither should we be embarrassed.” God is the one who gives sexual desire, so He is the one who gets to define the boundaries, and His boundaries are confined to one man and one woman in a covenant marriage. These boundaries are for our good: to protect us and to bless us.

God designed us for intimacy. In Genesis 4:1 it says that “Adam knew his wife, and she conceived.” This word for knew refers to experiential knowledge. Sometimes I think to myself, “I feel like I didn’t even know my husband before we got married compared to how I know him now!” And that’s because it is when husband and wife are joined together in sexual intimacy that they can truly “know” one another. Mahaney describes it as the “highest form of the communication of love–a language that expresses love without words.” Each encounter leads us to a deeper “knowing” of the one we love. (84).

The Effects of Sin:

As wonderful as a gift as sex is, it is grossly polluted by sin. Sin has affected every area of our lives, including the sexual relationship. Sometimes that comes in the form of willful sin and other times it affects some as a result of another’s sin. But be assured  that no situation in your life is beyond the reach of God’s grace. He can beautifully redeem everything that might have been lost prior to a marriage relationship. Because of Jesus, even the most difficult or painful situation can be turned into a story of grace. And THAT is worth celebrating!

The Problem of Lust:

Past sin is not the only thing that can entangle us in our quest for purity. In fact, the most ongoing struggle we will face in this area is the problem of lust. “Sexual temptation is no respecter of persons. You can be male, female, young or old, rich or poor, single or married, happily married or unhappily married. No one is safe from this vice.(86)” Thankfully, we know the truth of Scripture teaches us in 1 Corinthians 10:13 that “no temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man; and God is faithful who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it.”

We Must Resolve:

Because of our propensity to sin sexually, we must resolve, ahead of time, to walk in absolute purity. How do we do that? First and foremost, we must set our minds on things above (Colossians 3). If we are not replacing sinful thoughts with godly thoughts, we are already losing the battle. Next, we must MAKE NO PROVISION FOR THE FLESH. This is a huge one. We must ask ourselves, “When, where, and with whom are we most tempted to accommodate our flesh and gratify it’s desires?” (89). We should not read anything, watch anything, or listen to anything that arouses impure thoughts or compromises our biblical convictions. (Think: romance novels, magazines, chick flicks, TV shows, internet websites, etc.) Remember David’s commitment  in Psalm 101:2-3 was to walk in his house with a blameless heart and set no evil thing before his eyes. We must commit to do the same. We must be honest and pursue accountability in this area. Only then, can we expect victory in the battle of lust.

Now, for MARRIED women only:

One key to pursuing purity in our marriages is to pursue an exciting sexual relationship with our husbands. When you eat on a regular basis, you’re less likely to binge on something unhealthy. Think about it.

  • Be attractive in your husbands eyes alone. Discover what clothing, hairstyles, and make up he finds most appealing, and cultivate that. “We should give the same careful attention to our physical appearance after marriage as we did before.” However, more important than any outward presentation, is the pursuit of a gentle and quiet spirit. (1 Peter 3:3). Growing in godly character is the most attractive quality to our husbands.
  • Be available. Scripture makes it very clear that our bodies belong to our spouse. “We are to give ourselves without qualification and not withhold the pleasure of sex. The only exception to this rule is for the activity of prayer, by mutual agreement and for a limited time. Mahaney quoted a man that said he observed that, “I’ve heard many excuses for not having sex–not in the mood, headache, too tired, don’t have time. Prayer and fasting has never been one of them.”
  • Lastly, be anticipatory. Use your mind to prepare for sex throughout the day. “God has furnished us with imaginations, and we should use them to ‘day dream’ about our husbands.” Carve out time in your schedule for sex and initiate it every once in a while!

Remember, God was the one who created sex in the first place, for our pleasure and for His glory. Do not neglect His wonderful gift. He will reward our obedience in every area of our lives, including this one.

[I realize how lengthy this “review” was, and for that I apologize. But I felt it was a necessary topic to cover thoroughly for any woman who might be reading this who is not in the weekly discussions. If you need to seek accountability in this area or would like for me to pray for/with you, please don’t hesitate to contact me at crimsonrenney@gmail.com]