Thursday, April 17, 2014

A God First Life

I think in life there are three types of Christians. Those who are actively putting GOD first in their lives. Those who want to put GOD first but can't quite figure it out. And those who care more about their fleshly desires than putting GOD first in their lives. 

It may seem kind of harsh to think of such categories, however when you really think about it, its not too far off. For those of us who are actively pursuing a relationship with GOD yet need the help with really putting HIM first, a book to help you would be The God-First Life by Stovall Weems.

This book looks at Christian life as if you were a babe in Christ trying to figure it out. You know you want more you just don't know how to obtain it. Then read this book and it will help. One thing that I love in this book is on page 99 in which the author breaks down the Lord's Prayer:

In breaking down the Lord's Prayer as such, the author helps the reader to see that while they may not pray this exact prayer they can get across the same effect of Praise, Purpose (us doing God's will), Provision (God providing for us), Pardon (asking for forgiveness), People (praying for others), Protection (asking for God's protection), and closing out with Praise.

Then the author goes further and reminds us that even in the Lord's Prayer we are putting GOD ahead of ourselves. 
Another topic I enjoyed in the book is the chapter "You've Got to Feed Yourself." Many Christians, regardless to whether they just got saved yesterday or been saved for years, are not always aware of the need of daily fellowship with God beyond prayer. Yes, prayer is important but the only way to truly hear God's response to your prayers is to learn who HE is through studying HIS Word. Many times, God's answer's to your prayers will come through reading HIS Word.
I have gotten plenty of responses to my prayers while studying HIS Word. The Holy Spirit teaches and its our job to ask for instruction in the Word.

"Be careful of approaching the Word with your own agenda"- Stovall Weems. 
So often we do just that, we bring our issues and desires to the Word of God and try to make God's Word apply to what we want. If we want revenge on someone, we'll try make God's Word apply to that situation. If we feel we deserve blessings, we'' try to make God's Word apply. However God's Word does not exist to be a genie but to be instruction, to correct, to admonish, to guide
And to be honest, I used to think this was normal, because I watched people do it everyday. They would take a Scripture out of the Bible and make it apply to their situation, whether it did or not. They would tailor the Bible to fit their lives instead of taking their lives and circumcising it to align with God's Word. Yet this is the very thing the author warns us about.

Whether you're a new believer or a seasoned believer, you're never too old/young to live a God-First Life. Many of us lead a me-first life not realizing that it is what holds us back. We look at how we can benefit from God instead of coming to HIM in humble servitude.


[I received this book through the BookLookBlogger program in exchange for my honest review.]

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Training and the Mission of Marriage

Something I just picked up on while doing Discussion Questions for class is that just like we get training for jobs, we should receive training for life, especially marriage. Prior to getting married we should undergo a training period so we know (to a degree) what marriage is about. Too often people jump into marriage without truly discovering what marriage is about especially considering marriage is the combining of two lives into one life
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)

Many times people (like myself) go into marriage not fully understanding what marriage, especially a godly marriage, requires of us. Marriage REQUIRES sacrifice, submission, obedience, unconditional love, unconditional respect among other things. However when we think about getting married we don't think about these things, we just think about the fancy wedding & honeymoon. We think about "oh he so fine" about having a man. But then we don't realize what marriage really means. 

I am almost sure everyone goes into marriage with expectations, we go into it certain understandings (mutual or not). Yet when these expectations and understandings are not communicated, that's when the arguments arise that make people believe that they're incompatible or that their marriage won't work.
Many arguments and issues can be avoided if people knew what their spouse expected of them beforehand. What GOD expects of them. And honestly some things only come through "on-the-job training." You learn how your spouse likes to communicate through time. You learn that sometimes its best to shut up and let them be than to hound them to talk.

I remember when I first got married, I thought I knew about submission, about obedience, about unconditional love, about sacrifice yet I quickly realized I was unprepared. I was unprepared for what submission really meant. For me it's being willing to be heard yet not force an issue. To set aside my pride in wanting to be in control and be under the mission of succeeding in marriage and as a family together. In marriage we have to realize that each person plays a different but equivalent role.

We have to let go of having the "all about me" attitudes, being lazy, being too headstrong, trying to control your husband. Too often we think we always know better when it's not about knowing better. It's about doing better, it's about knowing how to make a suggestion without issuing a demand. It's about realizing that being "headstrong" is actually one of the curses pronounced over Eve (and thus the rest of us). And thus is a part of flesh that has to be circumcised.

To the woman he said, "I will greatly increase your pains in childbearing; with pain you will give birth to children. Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you. (Genesis 3:16)

If you cultivate a submissive and obedient heart towards God prior to marriage then you will be more adept to be submissive and obedient in marriage. Many times we try to rationalize why we shouldn't be submissive or obedient but in all honesty, there is no rationalization. 

Submit to God and be at peace with him; in this way prosperity will come to you. (Job 22:21)
Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord.  (Ephesians 5:21-22)

And before anyone asks, I address wives because I am a wife. I cannot truly address a man on his role as a husband as I have no experience as such. I address what I live, what I understand.


Thursday, April 10, 2014

Communication at its Best

This morning I read an article on HappyWivesClub and I was quite surprised and yet not surprised in what I read.

Fawn Weaver reminds the reader of the age old saying that arguing is normal that all couples argue at some point and that to a degree arguing is healthy for a relationship. Something I think everyone has heard. But then she quotes something Rosie O'Donnell said on Oprah a while back in which Rosie said she wished she would have expressed her feelings versus getting angry and snapping off (in a situation with Barbara Walters). Rosie states that had she just reacted exactly how she felt, then the outcome of that situation would have probably been quite different.
Fawn then relates this to marriage in how most people do the same thing Rosie did which is to snap out in anger when they're hurt or offended.

So then I began to reflect on different arguments or "heated discussions" that I've had in my marriage and I can definitely agree. There have been several times that I have been hurt by something my husband said and instead of addressing my hurt feelings, I have snapped out in anger, which in hindsight did absolutely nothing to address my hurt feelings but did start an unnecessary argument. And I can honestly say the same has happened with my husband and its after the fact, after we've argued and further compounded the situation that we speak on the underlying feelings, on how an action made us feel & why we snapped. 
I wonder how much different the landscape and atmosphere in our marriage would be if instead of getting angry/yelling/snapping, we just addressed our actual feelings. No anger, no animosity just plain and simple, "this is how __ made me feel."

I challenge all of my readers to make this change, instead of getting angry and lashing out that you address your feelings. Now here's the side effect: it will make you face your vulnerability.
When you address your feelings instead of allowing anger to surface, you allow your vulnerability to surface. In marriage this can be crucial, to allow your husband/wife a look inside your feelings, inside your heart. To let them see what really affects you.

Remember love keeps no record of wrong doing, love covers a multitude of sin. We can start by being slow to anger and quick to address what has offended us in a respectful manner that gets across our "feelings" but does not point blame or offends. I read recently (somewhere on Facebook) that when you criticize a behavior be very careful to criticize the person.

We do better, when we know better.

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