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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

Spring is my favorite time of year.  Right now I’m lounging on my couch: Caleb is taking a nap, there is a gentle breeze pushing my wind chimes, the birds are singing, my flowers are blooming and the air smells great.  My mother gave birth to me in the spring, and I will always feel most connected and alive around this time.

I wrote awhile back about why I believed in God-how I know He exists.  On days like these, I feel His presence and truth most clearly.  I can’t say I was there when He created the world, but perhaps the springtime is a whisper of what it was like, the smell of Him cooking up something delicious.  Looking out my back window every morning gives me joy.  When the sun shines on some purple bushes I have planted back there, they simply glow.  It’s so beautiful!  I wish I had a picture to add to this post, but even so, a photo wouldn’t do justice to the real thing.  Beauty is best when experienced.  Am I right?

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.

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?