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Awhile back I wrote a post about loving God when things are going well.  I’ve been thinking about it lately, wanting to follow up, so today when our pastor spoke about idols in our lives, I knew it was time to write.

It has always bothered me when I hear people making fun of Christians or saying hateful things about them.  In particular, it bothers me that people call Christians hypocrites.  In my mind, I always thought these haters must have met a Christian who didn’t really follow Jesus, or perhaps they were just out to complain, or maybe they just had their own issues.  In my self-righteous thinking, I figured if they met me, they might form a different opinion.  I’m nice, right??

Unfortunately, I’m realizing that my pride goes deeper than I thought it did, and perhaps it’s the dishonesty that is so offensive.  Because I tend to care too much about what other people think of me, it’s easy put up a front.   I’m probably even trying to convince myself that I’m “good enough”.

This year, our church began a Bible reading plan together.  I started out right on track.   In fact, I think God was really causing me to look at my own heart, and teaching me some really good things.  What is there?  I’m a Christian, so it’s supposed to be a love for God and others, but mostly I think it’s love for myself.  Hypocritical: someone who says one thing but does another; the people I’d been reading about in Matthew; and me.  Here’s the funny part: I had been reading about these prideful people, praying that God would give me humility, talking about being faithful to him, and lately, well, let’s just say that I haven’t been very faithful.  I’ve totally gotten off track with the reading program and I have not been faithful in prayer either.  Even these “baby steps” I was feeling positive about have been replaced with backward strides.  What do I spend my time thinking about?  Myself.

You know what is even more amazing?  God has been kind to me.  So kind.  He has given me things in the last three months that I totally don’t deserve.   Matt went out of town on business for two weeks and I was overwhelmed by how many people offered to help me while he was gone.  People that I am not very close to even came by to help!  It was God’s kindness that sent them to me.  A friend’s husband bought her a spa package for her birthday, and he paid for me to go with her!!!  Talk about kindness and undeserved blessings.   I could go on, but I want to wrap this up.

Mostly all of this is to say that there is alot that I don’t understand about God.  A passage comes to mind, 2 Timothy 2:11-13:

11 Here is a trustworthy saying:

If we died with him,
we will also live with him;
12 if we endure,
we will also reign with him.
If we disown him,
he will also disown us;
13 if we are faithless,
he remains faithful,
for he cannot disown himself.

I shouldn’t pretend that I have it all together, because I don’t.  But God has it all together.  He does remain faithful, to Himself, and to us.  I want to be faithful like that.  Unfortunately, my will and my desire isn’t enough to do that in me.  There is so much I don’t understand about God and so much I have to learn.  The Bible says is that His “grace is sufficient” for us.  And He is faithful.   I need to cling to this, so I write these words to help me remember the Truth.

Another Kindness from God

So in my quiet time today I came across this verse:

“He turned their heart to hate His people, to deal craftily with His servants.” (vs. 25)

The Psalmist is basically describing God’s faithfulness to Israel after they were in Egypt and became enslaved to them.  By the end of the psalm, the psalmist writes how Isreal was delivered and that God gave them all these many blessings “so that they might keep His statutes and observe His laws”.

What struck me was how clear and simple this truth was portrayed-that God has the power over us to change our hearts.  In this case, it was the Egyptians heart being hardened and given to evil.  It was also not the choice of the Egyptians, but God’s will that prevailed.  How big He is!  I cannot comprehend it, but I pray that He will soften my heart to follow after Him.  God controls all of me-the breath to live and my heart to seek (or not) seek Him.  I believe He is good, or that would be a very scary thought.  As it is, I am comforted to know that a good God has everything in His control.

Well, I’m trying to do a post a week, so today I’m going to write out something I’m a little excited about.  Matt and I started a parenting class last night at Bannockburn church called the Legacy Breakthrough class.   It’s only four weeks but the premise is how to raise your children with intention.  One of the first things that the pastor mentioned last night was that good parenting doesn’t just happen-it takes being intentional and purposeful in how you want to raise your kid.  I don’t know from experience, but I agree that is probably true.  It’s definitely easy to be a bad parent, that’s for sure!

What really excites me is that this class is kind of like setting goals and planning, two of the things I’m pretty lousy at but really want to improve in.  I think that if I improve in these two areas, it will pave the way for me to improve in a lot of other areas of life (discipline, follow through, finishing things, challenging myself, etc). How can I accomplish anything if I don’t have a plan?  Exactly.

Growing up so quickly!

Last night our homework was to think of some things that we really want to pass on to our kids.  When Caleb leaves for college, what do Matt and I really want him to know?  Here are some of the things we came up with:

1. How to have a close personal relationship with Jesus

2. That we love him no matter what

3. How to live with integrity

4. How to make wise decisions

5. How to manage money well

6. How to care for others

There were more we wrote down, but I can’t remember at the moment.  I think this is definitely a challenge, because I’m (and probably Matt) still learning how to do these things myself.  I’m no expert.  It will be interesting to look back in 18 years and evaluate if we were able to do these things or not.   My thought is that it will probably take me learning how to do #1 well along with a lot of prayer.

What would you want to pass on to your kids?

A few weeks back, I wrote a few words about how I often struggle with doubt.  I’ve been wanting to follow up with one about faith, but it just wasn’t right until now.

Last night in small group, one of our discussion questions was asked: What has God been teaching you?   I admit I didn’t answer, because my answer was “I don’t know.”  I feel ashamed to say this, because it means either (1.) I’m not listening, or (2.) God’s not trying to teach me anything.  I don’t think it’s #2.

I’ve been reading through the Psalms (slowly), and each day I pick one verse from the Psalm that really speaks to me.  This morning I was amazed to go back and see all of the verses I’ve written down.  Most of them say things about how good God is to us, how great He is, and how right it is for us to follow Him.

I’m not sure if I could verbalize what God wants me to learn (there is probably alot),but one thing I want to learn was summed up nicely in the verse I picked for Psalm 37:

Psalm 37:3  “Trust in the Lord and do good; dwell in the land and cultivate faithfulness.

In the sub notes in my Bible, it said that “cultivate faithfulness” could also be translated as “feed on His faithfulness”.  I like this verse because of it’s simplicity.  Sometimes I get overwhelmed with all the things I have to do and be, and when I clearly don’t measure up, I doubt that God would still love me.  But He does!  Jesus is the perfect example of His love for us, not to mention all the blessings he gives us now.  Sometimes I am overwhelmed when I really think about how good God is.  I don’t understand His love.  It is above me.

When deciding names to name our son, Caleb was the first one we agreed on.  It was important to me that his name have a special meaning.  Caleb means “faithful”.  I hope that he is a reminder to me of God’s faithfulness, a reminder to me to strive to remain faithful, and something to teach Caleb about as well.

Matthew 17:20 “I tell you the truth, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.”

In another part of the Bible, Jesus also compares the kingdom of God to a mustard seed, “which is the smallest seed you plant in the ground. Yet when planted, it grows and becomes the largest of all garden plants, with such big branches that the birds of the air can perch in its shade.” (Mark 4:31-32)

I think faith might be like that.  Small at first, but able to grow.  So, I guess what I really want to learn is how to grow in my faith.  It just might be that this is also what God wants to teach me about, and that would be a good thing.

After reading these two posts on Ellen’s Blog, I am feeling a little convicted about some things.

Lately I’ve been struggling in my communication with Matt.  I think for the longest time I’ve felt that a husband and wife should tell each other when something they did is bothering them.  While I still think it’s good to be open and honest, I’m starting to wonder if my means of communication are doing more harm than good.

Before Matt and I got married, I learned what the role of the wife is.  In Genesis, when God made Eve, he called her Adam’s “`ezer”, or helper.  Interestingly, the only other times when this word is used in the Bible is in reference to God Himself.  (See this page for information; scroll down to the bottom.)  I took/take this to mean that a wife has an extremely significant and honorable role in the life of her husband.

To get more specific without airing all our dirty laundry, what I really want to know is how to fulfill my role as a wife in an honorable and Godly way.  When we have conflict and I disagree with Matt, how do I communicate my feelings and still submit to him as God wants me to? (Eph. 5:22-24) How can I be a helper to him when I sometimes disagree with what he does and I think my way is better?  At the same time, it’s extremely frustrating to feel like I could help a situation, but not have him understand me or not accept my help.  Like I said, it’s something I’m struggling with.

At the beginning of one of her posts, Ellen shared this verse, which really hit home to me:

Proverbs 18:2

“A fool has no delight in understanding but only in expressing his own heart.”

I’m wondering if this is one of the mistakes that I’ve been making-speaking rather than listening.  It’s one that I’m definitely sorry for and hoping that I can improve in the future.  I feel that my relationship with my husband is the most important one I have, and I want to take care of it.  Wives, has anyone else struggled with this same thing?  What do you think?  How do you communicate disagreement in a respectful way, and still fulfill your role as a “helper” to your husband?