The “Good Advice” Wife

Whoever guards his mouth preserves his life… (Proverbs 13:3).
 
As a wife, I often feel the pull to “give my husband good advice,” thinking this will somehow bring him to the point that I would like him to be at. Can anyone say, prideful person? Yep, that’s me.
 
This rarely, if ever works. Finally, I am learning how to pray and let God work in the heart of my husband. This is a difficult lesson for many wives because, for us, we just want someone to tell it to us straight, so we can fix it and make it right.
 
A nagging wife is like a dripping faucet. It’s like decay to the bones. No husband wants a wife with a flapping mouth always offering her unwelcomed, “good advice.”
 
I always thought that if someone expressed a concern that they wanted a solution. That’s not always the case. More often than not, people want the space to share their concerns and the silence to let God work in them. Now, as my husband shares, I’ll sit in the silence, maybe offer a supportive word or two and then pray.
 
What I have seen God do recently has been remarkable. Believe it or not, once we get out of the way of trying to be someone’s Holy Spirit the true Holy Spirit can do his work.
 
My husband has come to me and said things that were EXACTLY what I had been praying for IN THE SILENCE. As a wife, one of our greatest weapons of warfare, as we come alongside our husband, is to stand beside him in prayer, believing that he can fight the battle and win. He doesn’t need a woman telling him how to always wield the sword or fight the battle for him. He needs a woman who says, “I believe in you, don’t give up.”
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Sometimes it’s appropriate to speak truth into our husband’s lives, but only when it’s welcomed or appropriate. If his behavior becomes destructive, by all means, speak up, but if he’s doing his best to seek the Lord and lead your family, let him fail a few times and never give up on him. At the end of the day, he is just a man and he needs your respect, love, and support.
 
Lord, use my mouth to praise you. Keep it shut when it doesn’t need to be open. Heal my heart so that the words of my mouth follow what you have done inside of me. Jesus, I believe and trust you. You are an all-sufficient Savior. I will praise you. Thank you for my husband. Fill him with your courage, strength, and perseverance as he leads our family, for your glory, in Jesus name, Amen.

The Gate

The LORD loves the gates of Zion…. (Psalm 87:2).

A gate represents entrance into a new place. Inside the gate is something different than what we’ve experienced. If we pay the entrance fee, know the code or the gatekeeper, we can enter into what lies behind.

Sometimes my heart swims around in anger, keeping me from entering into the gates of God’s love, mercy, joy, peace, and hope. Jesus, as the Good Shepherd guards the gate. He keeps thieves and robbers out. He only lets those good things for us into the gate. Jesus loves His sheep. He feeds, protects and provides for them there in His sheepfold.

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Some Christians never enter into the place of God’s joy, abundance and rest, because they spend all their time dwelling on past and present hurts. They cannot receive the Father’s peace and joy for their heart, because the troubles of this world have weighed them down in a place of desolation.

Left to our own negative thoughts we cannot experience God’s freedom for His sheep who have learned to walk by faith. The ones who have learned to run back to the Good Shepherd, releasing the injustice done to them and the pain in their hearts over their present and past seasons.

Sometimes the Good Shepherd wants to make us new, but our hearts want to keep us stuck in bitterness, anger, and hatred. I feel my own heart constantly being drawn towards bitterness in this present season of life. Then, I am reminded of the Good Shepherd and His love for me. I am reminded that I can entrust my whole life to God, even the parts that feel painful and unfair. I can give him my hurts so that a root of bitterness does not shoot up in my heart.

I keep having this thought in my mind-“God saw that.” This gives me hope that He is working to redeem every injustice brought upon my life that the enemy tried to use against me for my destruction. The enemy wants to destroy my faith, grow a root of bitterness in my heart and make me believe that God is unfair. The enemy is a liar.

Therefore, we must take captive every thought and make it obedient to Christ. When we do, His grace awaits us there as He opens the gate and ushers us into the place of His lasting peace, joy, and victory.

Lord, I trust and believe. You see everything. You are redeeming all of it. I believe it. Today I guard my heart against anything that would try to set itself up to destroy my faith. I claim my victory in Christ. Thank you for Shepherding my soul. Thank you that your plans for me are good, in Jesus name, Amen.

Church Leaders, Watch Your Heart Against This

Like a roaring lion or a charging bear is a wicked ruler over a helpless people…..(Proverbs 28:15).

 
What makes a good pastor? Is it someone with a tremendous amount of charisma? A leader who can build and grow a church to where it’s bursting at the seems? Someone who publishes books, has their own podcast and has sermons downloaded all over the country?
 
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I can tell you what makes a bad pastor. Someone who is concerned about building their own Kingdom for the grooming of their own ego. There are too many church leaders who aren’t in it for people, but for the growth of the institution they have clung to for their self-worth.
 
We need to be careful to not let our own hearts be led into such blind rebellion towards God. Even as churchgoers we can be wooed into the same place of self-aggrandizement. When a church grows, we must ask, “what’s making it grow?” Is it love? Is it the outward image it projects? Many churches are growing, not because they’re fruitful for the kingdom and producing true disciples, but because they are giving an outward impression of fruit, but deep down inside they hold no real sustenance.
 
The problem is that we love big things. It makes us feel more important and significant. We place all the burden on the shoulder of one leader, expecting them to drive the ship where it needs to go, when we all, within the body of Christ have a responsibility to one another. We all have been given the Spirit of Christ.
 
We cannot, nor will we ever experience church as it was meant to be experienced if we live as people who believe they have it all together. If we make church about some show we can offer to others to entertain and woo their hearts then we have cast out one of the greatest purposes for the church- to love and care for broken people. To be God’s agent to the world to bring Christ to the ends of the earth by making disciples of all nations. Not through attraction, but through multiplication.
 
Jesus had twelve, that’s it. Twelve people that He poured His life into. Many of our churches are pouring all their time, energy and focus not on the investment of people, but into building an enterprise.
 
We must guard our hearts over the desire to become something, “big.” I feel my own heart being pulled that direction constantly as if my witness for Christ and my role in the Kingdom would have greater significance. Yet, I am reminded of the life of my Lord, who shepherded a small group of people, investing His talents, gifts, and abilities into seeing them grow into fruitful people. I need that same kind of humility. I need that same kind of love for others.
 
Lord, forgive us. We have made the church into something we can grow outwardly instead of becoming inwardly. Forgive us for our own self-aggrandizement. We love the praise of people. God, please forgive us for our pride. Give us the grace to love broken people, in Jesus name, Amen.

The Reflection of Your Heart

As water reflects the face, so one’s life reflects the heart….(Proverbs 27:19).

Integrity, it is a word that carries a lot of weight in my mind. It always has. Growing up, my father was truly a man of integrity. I never remember him lying. Whenever my father spoke something he followed through with it. If for some reason he didn’t, he would apologize and explain why. Now, as an adult, being a person of my word is immensely important.
 
My father must have placed a high priority on being a man of his word because he certainly was that. We need more men who mean what they say. We need more women who live with integrity, faith, and joy.
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I have felt the pull to say what I need to say to impress others or go back on my word because following through with what I said is hard and painful. Yet, our word is everything. If we never follow through, who will learn to trust us? If the words of our mouth are not trustworthy, will we ever have an audience who believe us when we share Christ’s love? After all, the best witness for Christ is not what comes out of mouths, but what our life produces. The most compelling message I will ever give is how I treat people when they can do nothing for me, or how I carry myself in daily affairs.
 
The gospel is what is reflected in a heart captured by love. This changing love in the heart of a believer is the most attractive thing about them. Our words do very little if our lives do not back them up. Living in this grace is water the soul needs to grow a heart captured by the Lord Jesus.
 
Sometimes God speaks a word and we must sit in submission to it. We must let go of what our heart wants so that the good Father can grow His fruit in our lives. God is taking me somewhere in my heart to teach me about submission and trust. There’s something in my heart that has always wanted to take action, to make things happen and insert myself into the situation so I can speed up the process. Now, for the first time, probably ever in my life, I’m submitting myself to the Father, because, for the first time, I actually believe that He can pull through for me. I’ve tried to insert myself too much and it’s just not working, so I’m going to sit with Him in the promised land of His provision as I await His hand of blessing. In the meantime, my prayer is that my heart grows and the Father’s love is reflected in me more deeply than ever before.
 
Lord, let it be so, may your word, your love, your joy, and delight be reflected in my heart. Even though you’re not giving me everything I want, you’re giving me exactly what I need. It is your grace. Thank you for this amazing grace. Thank you for pressing out of me my own stubborn self-will. Jesus, truly, I trust you. I proclaim you as redeemer over my life. I believe I will see in my life what you did for Job, Joseph, and Ruth. Lord, bring full redemption. I believe it, in Jesus name, Amen.

Turn

he will surely take me to himself….(Psalm 49:15).

Sometimes my life feels overwhelming, frustrating or exhausting. When I get to that point, I’ll call someone I know who will help me process through my frustration. A friend, my sister, mom or dad, someone I know who will offer a listening ear and words of compassion.
 
In our anxiety, trouble, worry, and fear we must remember that God sees us and He longs for us to come to Himself. To sit in His comfort away from our own chaotic hearts and into His compassion. Before we run to friends, food, TV, money or whatever comfort we choose, we must run into the arms of a loving, compassionate Father. A Father who is kind, generous, loving and merciful.
 
Sometimes my heart needs to simply turn. To turn towards the Father of truth. To turn away from what I choose to bring joy to my heart apart from the sustaining love of God.
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Solomon’s heart turned towards women and it ended up turning his heart away towards God. Although Solomon was known as the wisest man on earth, he had a blind spot. We all have blind spots. This is why we must be humble enough to ask others what they see in our lives that we either can’t or are choosing not to see.
 
When we turn our hearts to God, we must come to Him with those things we have wrongly held dear. In our repentance, we must return our idols to His control. Finding comfort in His grace, knowing that truly, just to be in His presence is enough.
 
Lord, truly, you are enough. I want a heart like yours. I know I have blind spots. I know I don’t always run to you and stay there, trusting in your great grace. Lord Jesus, pour out your joy into my heart through your love, in Jesus name, Amen.

Trusting God When Your Heart Says Something Bad is Going to Happen

and I have directed the ravens to supply you with food there.”….(1 Kings 17:4).

I hate it when Jesus goes to hard places in my heart. I really do. I know though, because of the fear that rises up inside of me it’s an area in my heart that needs to grow in submission to His will.
 
….Jesus, I believe, help my unbelief….
 
Something inside of me rises up and says, “Something BAD is going to happen! You need to do something about this!” My self-sufficiency kicks in and it’s unhealthy, because I feel trapped there, like I must stay in that place, because if I let go, something might happen.
 
Do you ever wonder why the same circumstances keep arising in your life? Could it be because God is trying to press something out of us there and we keep resisting? For me, I’ve always found comfort in a cushy bank account, lots of savings and have leaned into a very hard work ethic to make sure things stayed safe.
 
Now, I feel like God is challenging me to step out into waters that make me very afraid to trust in His sufficiency. To give more, and have less, so that He can do something out of my own poverty that sometimes, I just don’t believe that He’ll do. I can’t seem to get around my thick skull, that God can work in my situation apart from me working really hard to make it happen.
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Elijah is told to go to a widow’s house where he will be provided for. He goes out with faith and God uses ravens to provide for him along the way, RAVENS! Then, when he arrives at the widow’s home, she only has one small jar of flour and oil, but God continues to make sure that the flour and oil never run out.
 
I have never trusted God enough to go out and be fed by ravens. My faith is too limited to calculators and what makes sense on paper. Yet, radical faith calls us out to places of trust with God where only He can show up. God keeps taking me to that place in my heart and I keep wanting to take over control. Yet, I am learning, slowly, that I must rest in His control.
 
Lord, thank you. Thank you for taking me to those hard places in my heart. It feels so scary and uncertain, but I know that you are trustworthy and true. I can trust your heart as I rest in it. Jesus, be my joy, delight, and hope, not money, self-sufficiency or my own comfort. I believe, help my unbelief, Amen.

What Today’s Generation Needs

You are the God who sees me….(Gen 16:13).
 
I believe teenagers today are asking a simple question, “Does anyone truly see me?” They live their lives behind a screen, constantly connected through social media platforms. They are always seen on a page, but rarely known as a person.
 
It’s no surprise that things like depression and loneliness are on the rise. With no place for real connection and life-giving conversation teenagers are hungry to be seen by someone, just anyone who can say, “I see you, all of you, and you are deeply loved.”
 
The church must become that place. The place that says, “God sees you. He sees your pain, hurt, insecurity and disappointment and He loves you.” As we interact with teenagers, we must embrace them as full members of the body of Christ allowing them to be fully seen, loved and embraced with genuine care and concern for the cause of Christ.
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As a teenager, I remember feeling so alone and afraid to share my insecurities, pain and hurt. If there is one thing that adults can do to help teenagers who feel lost and alone it is to simply say, “I see you and I am here for you.”
 
Until we reach the point of letting go of our idea of what church is supposed to look like and get into the messiness of people’s lives we’ll never truly see the body of Christ living, breathing and operating as one unit. If teenagers are left behind, placed in their own silo of ministry programming the church will never be inspired, uplifted and energized by young people. After all, Jesus used young people to change the world. We should go and do likewise.
 
Jesus, help us to see the hurting. Use our lives to invest in the generations under us. God, help me to see hurting people today, to be your love for their wounds and your hope to their soul. Jesus, thank you. Thank you for lifting my life from the pit. Now, go and use my life to do the same, I pray, in Jesus name, Amen.