Keeper of His Home

by Chelsea McCafferty

Fleeing from Temptation or Flirting with it?

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Sergey Sus via photopin cc

He’s just a friend. We get together and have coffee from time to time, but just as friends. We just have a lot in common. He’s fun to be with. We’re both married so it’s fine. He has been having some problems in  his marriage so he just needs someone to talk to. He’s a good listener so I feel like I can tell him anything. We’re just friends. What’s the big deal?

As married Christian women, we need to be very careful when it comes to having close relationships with men who are not family (same goes for Christian, married men). Some people blow this off as legalism or simply an old-fashioned concept, but there are many good reasons to avoid these kinds of close friendships with the opposite sex when we are married. This is an important issue and here is why:

  1. Adultery is on the rise.

Adultery is on the rise in America and throughout the world. While it’s always been a problem, it was far less a problem in the days of our grandparents, where some researchers estimate only 9% of spouses under the age of 25 in the 1950’s admitted to having affairs. In 1983 a similar study showed that number to have gone up to 29% of spouses under the age of 25 having had an affair. Today it is estimated that a third of all men and a quarter of all women cheat on their spouses, with more than 50% of marriages being touched somehow by adultery. We shake our heads and say, “ the world is going nuts” and surely it is! What about the Christians?

A study conducted by Christianity Today indicates that some 45% of Christians admitted to having done something that was sexually inappropriate and an astounding 23% confess to having had an extramarital affair. It’s hard to read those numbers. It’s difficult to understand how a man or a woman who love the Lord can sin against Him and their spouse like this. Then again…it’s not so difficult to understand it. Let’s try looking at it from another perspective:

A man and woman have been married for twelve years. They have four children. Both are Christians. For the past two years the man has had a difficult time, losing his job and falling into a bit of a depression. He spends his days searching the internet for a job and usually wants to be alone, because he (like many men) view their self-worth based on how their provide for their family. The wife feels shut out. They aren’t communicating well. She is dealing with the kids all day alone and feeling worn, lonely and frightened about the future. One day at the market she runs into an old friend from high school. He is funny, sweet and they have a lot of fun memories together. They decide to meet up for coffee and when they do they both open up to each other about struggles in their marriages and how they long for something different. These coffee dates become more frequent and the conversation more deep. Suddenly this woman realizes she is having an emotional affair with this man. They both feel the connection and attraction. One day, after she has had an argument with her husband and is feeling rotten, she meets the other man for coffee and, despite their convictions, they give in to their wicked desires. That’s it.

Adultery is something we should never accept or view as anything but evil and wickedness. It destroys families and people. It is a sin that is committed against one’s own body and God hates it. We should hate it too. Yet, we can see, if we are being honest, how it happens. We need to avoid close friendships with the opposite sex. No matter how strong we think we are, we are still weak human beings and sin is a temptress.

  1. Emotional Affairs Damage Marriage Too

We women usually are far more emotional than the men in our lives. We are emotional beings! That’s just how God made us! That’s why we are prone to love romantic comedies and novels that have romance in them. We love the whole emotional side of falling in love and being close with someone. This is why we are more likely to jump head first into an emotional affair if we allow ourselves to be tempted in this way.

What is an emotional affair? It’s when we form romantic feelings for someone who is not our spouse and allow ourselves to engage in a relationship with that person. Now, this doesn’t mean you are dating. The other person might not even realize you have an emotional, romantic attachment. Still, you are living it out by seeking to spend time with the person, opening up and sharing more than you ought to, and fantasizing about more. As women, we can be so overcome by our emotions. These types of emotional affairs can go on for ages. They can be easily hidden. So, is it wrong to engage in this type of relationship? Yes!

Ladies, it may seem like a harmless crush, but it’s anything but harmless. First off all, remember that Jesus warned that as Christians even the thought of adultery is akin to committing adultery. You are committing adultery in your heart and mind. Secondly, you may have no idea how an emotional affair takes a toll on the marriage. While you are madly in love with another man, you are most likely neglecting your husband at home. Instead of meeting his needs for companionship, relationship and sex, you are off fantasizing about someone else. Instead of praying for God to renew your love for your husband and working on drawing closer to him, this emotional affair is pulling away. Your kids will notice. Your friends will too. Your husband will definitely notice. Your marriage will be weakening by the moment. This is serious stuff my friends. Close relationships to the opposite sex is playing with temptation and you have to be careful to guard your heart.

  1. It Doesn’t Look Good

Whether or not you and your friend have any attraction or feelings for each other, a married, Christian woman meeting up regularly and engaging in a close relationship can look like something…even if it’s nothing. In other words, it can appear to be just the tip of the iceberg to strangers, your friends, family, your spouse, the other person’s spouse or maybe even to that other person. Your husband, while trusting and faithful, may start to have concerns about what’s going on or struggle with jealousy. After all, he should be your best friend right? A husband may come to feel replaced or displaces, as it were. It is not loving or respectful to put him in that position. Not only that, but what if your friend has misconceptions about what’s going on?

Let’s say, for example, that you have a good friend whom you have no attraction to whatsoever. You are in love with your husband and in a happy marriage. You would never in a million years struggle with feelings for this friend. He, on the other hand, hasn’t told you that he finds you attractive, is forming romantic emotions towards you, and is considering divorcing his wife because his feelings for you have grown so deep. You may not realize it or see the signs, but to have a very close friendship with a man who isn’t your husband is always a dangerous game…one that’s not worth playing.

1 Thess. 5:22 says we are to abstain from the appearance of evil. It’s not just doing evil that matters. God wants us to avoid even appearing like we are doing or considering doing evil.

“We must not indulge in sexual immorality as some of them did, and twenty-three thousand fell in a single day. We must not put Christ to the test, as some of them did and were destroyed by serpents, nor grumble, as some of them did and were destroyed by the Destroyer. Now these things happened to them as an example, but they were written down for our instruction, on whom the end of the ages has come. Therefore let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall. No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.” 1 Corinthians 10:8-13

Anyone who thinks he stand, lest he falls….wow. Think you are strong enough in your faith not to fall? You’ve got a big problem when you think that. No temptation comes that isn’t common to man. Many men and women thought they were strong enough only to fall hard. It isn’t worth it friends. We need to stand solid on the rock and not go for runs in the quick sand. We need to stand firm and not flirt with temptation. It’s just wise. It’s just prudent. It just makes sense.

I exhort my sisters in the Lord (and brothers accordingly) to not be wishy washy on this issue. Make your spouse your best friend. I encourage you to caution and to avoid close friendships with a person of the opposite gender. Let us not fall into the trap of justifications and carelessness. Perhaps nothing bad will happen, but what if it did? If we allow our hearts to be open without guarding them, someone may come in an snatch them away.

Let’s stand for emotional and sexual purity. Let’s stand for no compromise. Let’s be on guard. I pray that husband and wives would find emotional and sexual fulfillment in one another alone and not to look to anyone else to meet those needs. May we ever be willing to make sacrifices in order to abstain from temptation and keep our minds and bodies pure.

Thank you for reading! Also, make sure to enter my free giveaway that’s going on right now until Nov. 10th. Click HERE to enter.

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Choosing Peace Over Conflict in Marriage

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Every couple fights! It’s normal. It’s healthy. It’s just the way it is! Right?

There are probably very few couples out there who can honestly say that they never have a fight or argument. Hopefully there are many, many homes in which simple disagreements never escalate to the point of being classified as an argument and then further on to a fight. Yet for many homes, even Christian homes, escalations are indeed more common than one might think. In many homes they happen as frequently as taking out the trash (and sometimes triggered by a wife nagging her husband to take out the trash for that matter). Some couples are finding themselves in conflict monthly, weekly and even daily. I’m sorry to burst your bubble, but there is nothing “normal” or acceptable about a Christian couple fighting this much.

Here are three common reasons that a Christian couple may find themselves in conflict so often:

  1. External Stresses. Couples may find that when they are going through times of intense stress or pressure, fights occur more regularly. Stress often causes people to lash out or to assign blame. We oftentimes inexplicably take out our stress on those who are closest to us because we somehow feel more free or safe to do so. We assume they will continue to love us, despite our snide comments and rude remarks. We feel the need to assign blame, which just leads us down a terrible path altogether (ie Adam and Eve). In these times we are often afraid, and that fears leads us to unleashing our emotional storms on those we love. Not good. So what to do we do?
  2. Unrepented Sin. When we sin, we place a wedge of separation when us and the Lord. We quench the Holy Spirit in our lives. When we live in unrepented sin, our marriages and homes suffer. Sin is destruction and that’s all it knows how to be. When we allow it in the door, pain and suffering will follow. Whatever the sin may be, couples will find that conviction, shame and downright rebellion will cause an atmosphere of rottenness to develop in a home. Have you ever thrown something rotten in the trash and not noticed the smell was getting bad until you leave the house and come back? You walk in the door and the smell hits you like a plank between the eyes. Gross! No one likes a smelly house, and a house where sin is allowed to settle in will fester and stink and cause all kinds of problems. Whether it be something that is an outward sin, such as stealing, pornography or adultery, or one that is more inward, like pride, covetousness and hateful thoughts, sin issues in the home can cause division, disintegration of the family and lots and lots of really bad fights. So what do we do?
  3. Deeper Issues of the Heart. Sometimes couples fight because there are much deeper issues and wounds than can be seen on the surface. Some couples simply do not have feelings of love for one another. Either the love has faded or it was never really there at all. Some have deep wounds that have altered them, such as the loss of a child or a traumatic experience. Other couples experience conflict because of going through life changes and challenges. Infertility. Loss of a job. A move to a new place. Chronic illness. There are deep issues that can cause a lot of pain, confusion and oftentimes marital conflict. When our hearts are hurting, the words of our mouths can be more based on an emotional outcry than on logic. We say things we don’t mean. We sometimes try to inflict pain so that we aren’t hurting alone. So sad. So what do we do?

There is one answer to these common problems. There is one thing we can do to restore calm and unity to the family unit. It seems simple, but it really is profound and perfectly reasonable. What we do is….CHOOSE PEACE. We choose peace over conflict. We always have a choice about whether or not to be a part of conflict. We ALWAYS have a choice. We can choose peace over conflict and bring serenity back into our homes, by letting go of our own needs to lash out, be right, make a point, assign blame and share our hurt. We can choose peace instead and quiet instead of letting our tongues go unbridled. We can choose peace instead of taking out my hurt on my husband or daughter.

“For “Whoever desires to love life and see good days, let him keep his tongue from evil and his lips from speaking deceit; let him turn away from evil and do good; let him seek peace and pursue it.” 1 Peter 3:10-11

Peace isn’t something that just happens to lucky people. Peace is a choice. Unity is a choice. Even love is a choice. The thing is, it’s a choice that sometimes requires sacrifice and hard work. We have to learn to control our tongues and our hearts. We learn to be wise about when to be quiet. We learn that it’s okay not to get the final word and that we don’t have to be right all the time. We learn to weigh out what is most important…..proving my point or peace? Being right or peace? Getting my way or peace? Indulging in sin or peace? God says we should choose peace. It’s that simple.

“So then let us pursue what makes for peace and for mutual upbuilding.” Romans 14:19

One last point I need to make here. If sin in your life is bringing you conflict, know that you cannot possibly choose peace if you don’t repent and get rid of that sin. Sin and peace cannot live in harmony. There is no such union in Christianity. Sin is the enemy of peace. If you are living in sin, repent of your sin and get rid of it. Then you can choose peace, and what a blessing that will be to your home, marriage and kiddos.

“And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.” James 3:18

“Deceit is in the heart of those who devise evil, but those who plan peace have joy.” Proverbs 12:20

CHOOSE PEACE!

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I Want Her to Walk in Purity

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“Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity.” 1 Timothy 4:12

Purity. The word used here in 1 Timothy is the Greek word “hagneia” that comes from the root word “hagnos.” It is translated “pure from carnality, chaste, modest, pure from every fault, immaculate and clean.” As the mother of a daughter, purity is something that I have on my mind often. I so long for my daughter to walk in purity throughout her life.

This scripture in 1 Timothy is one that I pray over my daughter. I pray that she sets a beautiful example of Christ’s power and glory in her life through her lovely speech, God-pleasing conduct, deep love, unwavering faith and purity. Purity doesn’t always mean sexual purity, but rather is a way of life in which one chooses not to mingle with the sin of the world, but rather to serve the Lord with a whole, uncompromising heart. Purity is a heart that’s sold out for God manifesting itself throughout the entire body…in speech, modesty, humility, chastity and grace.

While purity isn’t solely based on chastity, this is one of the most common and devastating ways in which young ladies surrender their purity. God says that the sanctification of a single person is their sexual purity.

 “For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from sexual immorality; that each one of you know how to control his own body in holiness and honor, not in the passion of lust like the Gentiles who do not know God…” 1 Thessalonians 4:3-5

I pray for my daughter’s purity, even now while she’s young. I pray that she will be able to hold fast to her purity and that my husband and I will be able to present her as a pure bride on her wedding day. That thought overjoys me and also motivates me in the decisions I make for her now. You see, striving to protect and guide our children sometimes requires sacrifice. We make choices that other people mock or belittle. We may say no to “dating” as the world sees it and yes only to modest apparel. Does that mean our kids have to cover themselves from head to toe? No, not necessarily. However, allowing our kids to wear revealing clothing is a way in which we send them out into the world with a target on their backs. Do we want our children to be like the world or like the Lord? That’s what we have to decide.

I’ve made that decision. I will train my daughter up to know that the Lord’s calling on her life is to abstain from sexual immorality. I will teach her the beauty of purity and God’s course for her life. I will not allow her to wear mini-skirts and tiny shorts or low-cut tops. I will educate her at home, where she will not be thrust into the hands of a secular and liberal education system that will issue great lies and confusion about sexuality, family life and so forth. Dating will look much different in our home than in others. We will treat her as a beautiful young lady and remind her all of the time who she is in Christ.

Now I know fine well that I can do all of these things only to find later in life that my daughter still stumble. I pray this isn’t the case, but I know it’s possible. I know that ultimately our children have to make their own decision to follow God. Still, I will labor and fight for my daughter’s purity. I will pray for her, teach her, exhort her and support her. I will be honest with her and show her the truth. I will do everything in my power to protect her purity, both for herself and for her future husband. She is worth that and we are privileged and honored to be the ones to raise her in the ways of the Lord.

Purity is important. For our kids, it’s crucial. It’s where so many families lose. It’s where so many are suffering. Teen pregnancies, abortions, drugs, sexual confusion, STDs….so much sin and so many devastating consequences. Our children need our protection and guidance.

Listen, my daughter won’t be missing anything by not attending the prom or by not wearing the same revealing clothing that some her friends do. She’s not missing anything by being removed from situations of bullying, peer pressure and the influences of worldly friends. You may want your child to be like the other kids. You may not want them to feel different, but I’m looking at a generation of kids in which most of them are having sex before they turn 18. I’m hearing the way these kids are speaking and behaving and I say, “Let our kids be different!”

Jesus didn’t make us new creations so that we could return to looking just like the world. He said not to be conformed to the world. He told us to be set apart. He wants us to be a shining light in a dark place. If you want your children to be like everyone else, no doubt they will be. They won’t shine for Jesus, but rather the world’s darkness will quench and put out their light. They won’t stand for purity and holiness, but rather blend right in with the others, pressing and sometimes shattering every boundary of purity they come across. This grieves the heart of the Father, and it grieves our hearts as parents.

By the time our kids get to this point, there’s little we can do but encourage them and pray. That’s why it’s so important that we start early. It’s crucial that we teach, guide and protect purity from an early age, so that it is a way of life. Praying for the purity of our young ones and praying that they will grow to be an example of God’s glory and goodness, walking in beautiful purity.

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Three Ways to Combat Division in Marriage

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“So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.” Matthew 19:6

When God said that nothing should separate a husband and wife, He did it for a reason. He knew that the world would present ample devices for creating a wedge between a man and his wife and that it was important to be aware. These devices come in many forms. Sometimes it is people from the outside, the girl making eyes at your husband at the workplace or your best friend who tries to encourage you to talk bad about your husband behind his back. Maybe it’s a family member who is always stirring up trouble and planting seeds of contention in your marriage. The devices could be idols in your life such as an over-indulgence or an unhealthy focus on television, sports, hobbies (especially those hobbies that require money), or even ministry. Division can come from our own selfishness or self-focus. There are many tools that the world, and the enemy of our souls, uses to try and divide a husband and wife. The following are just three of the ways you can combat division in marriage and keep your home in peace and unity:

1. Communicate Freely

Whether it’s Christian-based counseling or secular counsel, most people agree that communication is key in marriage. The fact is, when it comes to combating division, the most successful weapon is communication. Now, this tends to come easier to us than to the men. We ladies are usually talkers. We are more than happy to discuss our day, our feelings, our dreams and our concerns. We could discuss them all day! Men, on the other hand, usually don’t need that kind of sharing on a daily basis. Still, it is so important that husband and wife communicate freely in order to stay united. What does that look like practically speaking? I don’t keep secrets from my husband and he doesn’t keep them from me. We do not withhold information from each other. If you want to share something with me, know that I won’t tell anyone else about what you share, except for my husband. We communicate freely about our concerns, our feelings, our challenges, our sin, our goals, our fears, etc. We communicate about those things that could bring division into our home so that we can deal with them. Most importantly, we communicate about the Word of God and what the Lord is doing in our hearts. We talk about His plans for us as a family. We pray together. We encourage each other as we talk about the ways of God. This communication shines a bright light that expels darkness and division from the home.

2. Make Tough Choices

Keeping a family united sometimes means making hard choices. Making those choices could cause hurt in other relationships, but it’s important to remember that the marriage and family relationships are top priority. If someone or something is coming between you and your husband, it must be dealt with. Sometimes it must be removed from the home. For example, if you and your husband argue often about a certain television show, then perhaps the best choice is to stop watching it altogether. That’s an easy one, of course. What if there is a certain friend who always seems to try to stir you up to anger against your husband? Once you have searched out your own behavior for issues where you may have encouraged the intrusion, and confessed, then it may be necessary to share with this friend, in love and gentleness, that this is becoming a problem and must stop. If the friend does not stop, it may be necessary at that point to stop that relationship. Sound extreme? What if it’s an extended family member? Same plan? You know, many marriages have crumbled and burned because of people from the outside bringing division. Sometimes it’s an obvious agenda and other times it is more subtle. Just remember that God said nothing should come between a man and wife. Nothing. No one. Nada. You may need to make some tough choices to purge your home and marriage of division and division-makers.

3. Be a Team.

Sounds easy enough, right? Just like with anything else, it’s easy until it’s not so easy anymore. Why is being a team important? When you are a team, you forfeit personal preferences and desires for the victory of the team as a whole. It’s no longer about what I want, but what we want. We are willing to compromise, to work together, to communicate freely and to give in for the good of the family. A team is united. Strong. Dedicated. A team member does not betray another member or defame his character, but rather lifts him up in encouragement and edification. Cheer for one another! Fight for one another! Stand with one another! That’s a team that will not be divided.

Your marriage is important. It is the most important ministry of your life. It is absolutely vital that you beware devices of division. Get rid of division. Make those hard choices. Be your husband’s best friend and teammate. Communicate freely and do not let the sun go down upon your anger. God will bless the home that stands united on the Rock, that is Jesus Christ. He will keep your home standing while others around you are blown away by the storms of life and the attacks of the devil. May the Lord who created marriage keep you united as one for as long as you both shall live.

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I Wish I Could Make Her a Sister

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This is going to be one of THOSE blogs. One of those really hard to write ones. One that really exposes the heart of an issue. Being real isn’t always easy, but in doing so we are often able to minister to and relate with others. It brings a sense of community and a feeling of understanding. It promotes compassion and gives others some insight into the trials of others which helps us to love them, support them and pray for them. So this is a REAL blog about REAL issues of life and the heart.

Tonight’s topic is especially hard though. You see, if you’ve never suffered through the pain and frustrations of infertility, you probably haven’t considered the many ways in which it affects a woman, a marriage or a family. There are so many emotions, trials and challenges. I have been experiencing one lately, as I deal with secondary infertility. (For those who don’t know, secondary infertility describes a woman who has been able to have a child but hasn’t been able to conceive or bring to term and deliver more children.)

My daughter is such a beautiful gift from God. She is five years old now and I can barely stand to see her grow up so quickly. I try to cherish every moment and every experience with her. She makes my life so special. The Lord was good to us in giving us this precious little girl, and I thank Him for her daily. I accept that she may be the only child He will give us, and that His plan is perfect, though we certainly have prayed for another miracle baby over the past five years.

While I am able to accept His will, it’s not to say it is without the occasional tear or heartbreak. A few nights ago I experienced a new kind of pain and it was for my daughter. She was playing with her little cousin and his big sister at Grammy’s house. At some point my daughter heard her big cousin referring to herself as the little one’s sister, so my daughter started to profess that she too was his sister. She was gently reminded that she isn’t the sister but rather the cousin and my brother (her uncle) went on to explain to her how special a cousin is. Still, despite their efforts to encourage her, she was heartbroken. She wasn’t a sister.

When they told me about this happening (I was at a wedding at the time), I was so sad for her. You see, we are part of a family and church family that places great importance on family and most of the families have been blessed with multiple children. In fact, many of our friends have very large families. We watch as sisters and brothers share sweet moments, hold brand new siblings, teach each other and love on one another. It’s precious and I’m so happy for those families. At the same time, I can’t help but ache for my daughter, who wants so badly to experience those moments, but can’t.

Sadness isn’t the only emotion for me. Whether or not it’s how I should feel, I’m often filled with guilt. I sometimes blame myself for not being able to make my daughter a sister. I would so love to give her that experience someday, and it’s my prayer that this will happen, but for now I’m left feeling inadequate and like a failure for not being able to make my little girl someone’s big sister. It’s a hard feeling to describe, but I’m sure other’s who have experienced similar circumstances will understand all too well.

I know that, just as I have to accept that I may never be able to mother another child, my daughter will have to accept that being someone’s sister in the traditional sense may not be God’s plan. What I will strive to remind her and assure her is that in the family of Jesus, she is a sister to many of God’s children. She will have friends who are like sisters. She will have big and little sisters in the Lord. While it may not be exactly the same, with Christ’s help it’ll be enough.

Perhaps our dreams of adopting will someday come to fruition and we’ll be able to give her siblings, but for now we will teach our daughter that God is the opener and closer of wombs. He is the one who knits families together, whether naturally or by adoption. He will give her plenty of opportunity to love others and to be loved. I pray now for my little girl’s heart, that she will have understanding in this and, even at this young age, trust the Lord. I pray also for this mommy’s heart, that I would feel the hurt when it’s needed but then move on to joy and contentment. I pray that my heart would see the opportunities all around me to use my mother’s heart to minister to others. I continue to thank God that I got the tremendous privilege of experiencing life forming and growing within me, and that I get to gaze upon my daughter’s beautiful face every day. Thank You Jesus!

Thank you readers for being willing to go deep and real with me here in this blog. If what I share touches your heart, I pray you will share the blog with your friends and stick with me here. If you have never suffered from infertility, I pray you will be able to give understanding and compassion to friends and loved ones who have or do now. I pray that, as you look upon the faces of your children, you will remember to pray for those women who are aching for children they cannot have even now. Pray for them and thank the Lord again for His blessings.

“And He (God) will make the barren woman to keep house and to be the joyful mother of children. Praise ye the Lord!” Psalm 113:9

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Burdened for the Lost

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“Jesus died Mommy,” said my darling little five year-old Princess, having just returned from VBS last night.

“That’s true,” I replied. “And why did He die?”

“He saved us,” she answered. “He saved me, and my friends, and you!”

“Yes He did,” I said, blessed in my heart that she understood this concept. “And is that why we love Him so much?”

“At VBS I got to pet a chicken and a horsey and a turtle!”

Ah well! haha Lovely fleeting moment!

When I think about the cross, I’m reminded of my sin and how much it cost my Savior. I’m reminded that He paid a hefty price for my soul. He gave everything to redeem me. He saved me with His very life. It’s an overwhelming thought and one that always fills me with awe, gratitude and love for my Jesus.

There’s another emotion that always follows when I meditate on Christ’s death on the cross… it’s a feeling of burden. That may seem strange to you. After all, didn’t Christ die to free us from burden? Absolutely! We were freed from the chains of sin and death. Those burdens have been cast off and crushed by the death and resurrection of our Mighty God. Amen!

So what is this burden I feel?

It’s a burden for the lost. it’s a deep yearning for those who don’t know Jesus to open their hearts to Him. It’s a holy calling to share the gospel of Jesus Christ with others. It’s a need to fulfill that great commission and it breeds in me a commitment to follow Christ where ever He may lead me to bring the good news of His grace and mercy and love to the world. That’s the burden I feel.

When I look at this world, I see such darkness and devastation. We see addiction and depression. We hear of war and ruin. There is evil and despair and hopelessness lurking everywhere. Divorce is running rampant. Children are being seduced and abused. They are witnessing atrocities on the television and even worse in their homes. Sickness is growing and mutating. Lives are being ruined by sex trafficking, violence, abuse, drugs and alcohol, and every evil tool of the enemy and man’s wicked heart. it’s getting bad folks. This world needs Jesus now.

He saved us! My daughter said it so perfectly last night. He saved us from it all. He saved us from our sin…ourselves. So now that we’re saved, do we go on living as selfish, self-centered people? Wait a minute! That’s what we were before! We were selfish people who sinned to feed our greed and our lusts for the things of this world. So we give our lives to Christ and He changes our desires. We turn from sin and love not the ways of the world. Yet, so many Christians still maintain that selfish way of thinking, and it makes them ineffective in fulfilling the call of God to make disciples.

If you missed what I was trying to express there, let me put it another way: if you are a Christian, you should have a burden for the lost. You should feel called to share the gospel, disciple younger believers (in the Lord) and to go where God sends you. Being a Christian is not about receiving salvation and then building our own little heaven on earth. It’s not about keeping it to ourselves. If you are a Christian, you should be sharing the gospel. You should be discipling others. If you arent, you’re missing the mark, dear one. You’re missing half of the equation. You’re saved but you haven’t adopted the heart of Jesus. His heart was to saved His children. Your heart should be to take that message to the world!

I pray that we are never too busy to do that most important mission on earth…. to make Christ known and to make disciples. People are hurting. They need Him. We are called to do something about that!

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Five Marriage Killers Part 5

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5. Money, Money, Money

“Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” Matthew 6:31-33

Whether it be the secular world or within the church, marriages are ending rapidly, and one of the biggest causes for marital distress is financial discord. A large percentage of marital fights are over the issue of money. Whether it’s a lack of finances that is straining the marriage or someone who is spending more than they should, money problems can be rough. Family budgeting is an important aspect of family life, and yet somehow, even when we try to do our best, the issue of money can creep in and cause problems.

If you and your spouse fight over money issues, perhaps you fall into one of these general categories?

1. Unemployed Spouse. When the family is suffering financially and a spouse is unemployed, it can be very difficult. Sometimes that person is hard-working and desperate to work but unable to find anything. Maybe he just refuses to work and would rather live on benefits and do side jobs under the table. Either way, stress is going to be a major factor and it will affect the marriage if you let it. If your spouse is hard-working but has been out of work, be his number one support and encouragement. You have to understand that a man places great importance on how he is providing. Most men determine their self-worth on how they provide for their families. So if your husband has lost his job and is trying to find something, try not to add to his worry and troubles. Be his support, his encouragement, his cheerleader and his lover. Build him up because he needs it. He is hurting, no doubt. Trust the Lord to meet your needs, be creative on how to bring in extra money or stretch what you have, and remind your husband over and over that you love him and respect him.

If you are married to a man who refuses to work and take care of your family, you are in a difficult spot indeed. It must be incredibly hard to deal with and to remain a respectful wife. Believe me, I would have a few words to say to such a man, but God tells us to obey Him whether or not our husbands do. In other words, if your husband will not work, the most important thing for you to do is pray. Pray hard and pray without ceasing. Trust the Lord. Work hard yourself if need be. It’s not right for a man not to provide for his family by choice, and your husband needs a kick in the pants, but God has said it’s not you who is to give it to him. Pray for God to break through to him and trust the Lord to take care of you in the meanwhile.

But if anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for members of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.” 1 Timothy 5:8

2. Overspending and Greed. Sometimes in a marriage, one or both will struggle with a heart of greed and covetousness. In these cases, it’s common for overspending, unwise decision-making and greedy living to come into play. This can lead to major marital problems. If one person is a spender and the other is prudent and wise financially, there will be strife that may come into play daily, weekly, monthly, etc. It will snowball into serious marital problems and even marital death. If both people are spenders, well then the couple is likely to come to ruin and extreme poverty. Few marriages survive that. So this is a dangerous place in which to be. If your spouse is a spender, or perhaps you are, it is important to get on track in terms of God’s calling for us to serve Him and not money. We need to address issues of covetousness and greedy spending. If your husband is the spender, you may want to respectfully address the problem and then spend time in prayer. You may ask him to get some help and counsel from an elder or financial counselor. Ultimately, if he will not change, all you can do is do your best to stay on track, do not nag and cause conflict, and pray. If you are the spender, repent of greed. Get yourself on the right track. Get into the Word. Don’t allow a love of money to creep into your heart and get a stronghold.

For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs.” 1 Timothy 6:10

Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” Hebrews 13:5

3. Low-Income or Self-Employed and Struggling. So many of us, ourselves included, could be considered low-income though we have a strong work ethic and continue to work hard day by day. In this case you have honest, hard-working people who still can’t seem to make ends meet. As the bills roll in, stress accelerates and pretty soon the whole household is on edge. All it takes is one major and costly event (such as automotive repairs or a new waterheater) to through you overboard. In this case, fights are caused by the amount of stress put on the family. It is important that these trials not pull you apart but bring you closer together. Pray together, study the Word and then come up with ideas on how to move forward towards financial stability. Don’t play the blame game. Budget together and make it a family team effort. Be there to comfort one another and don’t allow your hardships to harden your hearts.

“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Matthew 6:19-21

Financial problems can be a real marriage killer. Being aware of this and fighting back with our spiritual weapons is the best way to combat it. Remember that God is our provider and we can trust Him. If He cares for the birds of the air, will He not care more for His children? He knows what we need. Our job is to be honorable in our handling of the money that He allows us to steward and then to trust Him through the rest. We, as wives, are called to honor our husbands and to build them up, whether or not they do everything right. Understanding how important it is for men to feel good about how they are providing, it is important we do not tear them down but rather bring words of edification, respect and love to build them up.

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Five Marriage Killers Part 4

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4. Manipulation & Spiritual Domination

When we look at scripture, we see a long list of women who manipulated their husbands in order to get their own way. Let’s start with Eve in the Garden of Eden, feeding her husband bad fruit (Genesis 3). Adam should have been leading, but Eve took the reins and led them both into temptation and the first sin. Should Adam have refused to follow her into sin? The answer is clearly yes, which is why both were disciplined by the Lord. However, would Adam have ever considered eating the fruit if not for his wife’s encouragement? Perhaps not. How about Sarah and Abraham (Genesis 16)? Sarah’s deep desire to give an heir to her husband prompted her to convince her husband to commit adultery with her own handmaid, Hagar, and to produce the son of the flesh, Ishmael. Once the son of promise, Isaac, came along, there was tremendous friction and subsequent pain. We certainly cannot forget Delilah (Judges 16) and how she manipulated Samson, causing him to lose his hair, his strength, his connection with the Holy Spirit (for a time) and eventually his life.

These are just a few examples of women manipulating their men, but manipulation may not always be leading our husbands into sin. Sometimes it is simply leading them in a different direction than they feel God has called them. A man and woman get married and the woman wants to have a child right away, while the man feels they should wait for a few years so that they can spend time together as a married couple first. The woman seduces her husband and conveniently forgets to take her birth control pills. Whoops! Now certainly there is no sin when it comes to sex in marriage, nor is having children a sin, but the refusal of the wife to follow her husband and her clear manipulation is far from fitting behavior for a daughter of the King. Perhaps you want to move to the beach but your husband feels called to buy a home in the mountains. Circling the ads for lovely beach homes for sale and leaving them sitting on his favorite chair when he comes home is not the way to do it. Neither is crying and complaining all day and night until you get your way. These are tactics of manipulation and are not in line with God’s Word.

The same principle holds true when it comes to spiritual issues. Women are far too swift to take up the role as spiritual leader when they think their husbands are doing the job incorrectly. Spiritual domination by a wife can be a marriage killer. I know a young woman who was the daughter of a pastor, and she married a nice, young Christian man when she was about 19 years old. This young woman and I would chat about married life, and I was always taken back by her attitude of spiritual superiority over her husband. Her husband was raised in a different type of church than she was, and so there were small differences in doctrine. She would complain that after hours and hours of trying to convince her husband that his church was wrong and hers was right they would get nowhere. She called him stubborn, but I think the more problematic of the two was this woman who thought it was her job to teach her husband in spiritual matters. If I, as a friend and outsider, picked up so quickly and with such clarity that this woman considered herself far above her husband in spiritual wisdom and maturity, than there is no doubt her husband felt the weight of her spiritual domination on a daily basis. No doubt he felt disrespected and deflated at home instead of built up and edified.

Don’t get me wrong. It is fine for a wife to share with her husband in a respectful and humble way. Most godly husbands cherish their wife’s opinions and are more than happy to hear her feelings on various topics of faith, the Word and spiritual growth. However when a bossy, dominating woman sits across the table from her man and lectures him for hours about praying longer, throwing out any PG-13 rated movies they have, or his faulty views on the issue of whether or not the Bible speaks against tattoos, I have to question her spiritual discernment. God never intended wives to lead their husbands in spiritual matters, or to instruct them. Yes, she may be right sometimes, but her disobedience to the Lord is far worse a sin than her husband’s occasional bad decision. The correct response would have been to lift her husband up in prayer and to speak with the law of kindness on her tongue. God is the head of her husband, and He will complete the work He has started. A pushy woman is merely a hindrance to the handiwork God wants to do in her husband’s heart, and she ought to spend more time focusing on her own spiritual growth than worrying about that of her husband’s.

Now we look for a moment back to Eve. People love to debate which of the two was more to blame for the fall in the Garden of Eden. Eve was the first to fall into sin, being deceived and tricked by that cunning serpent, and she gave to her husband of the tree as well, who was not deceived but willingly disobeyed God’s instruction. Men love to talk about how women lead men into trouble, just as Eve led her husband into temptation and sin. On the flip side, where was Adam’s leadership or discernment? We don’t see him struggling against doing what he knows is wrong, or rebuking his wife. When it comes down to it and their sin is exposed, both man and women tried to pass the blame and both were punished and therefore both guilty. While figuring out who was more to blame is not necessarily an important quest, we do learn something quite fascinating and significant from this passage about our strengths and weaknesses as women and the roles we are intended to have. We will take a right turn in the Bible to 1 Timothy 2:11-15.

 

“Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection. But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence. For Adam was first formed, then Eve. And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression. Notwithstanding she shall be saved in childbearing, if they continue in faith and charity and holiness with sobriety.”

 

Feminists hate this verse. They love to label our brother Paul as being sexist and the Bible as being outdated and oppressive. Others will attempt to explain away this verse by saying that it was only for the early church and does not apply today or that perhaps it is acceptable for women to teach as long as they are under the authority of male elders. After all we’ve come so far in our mission to create equality between men and women, and to prove to the world that there is no difference between us, right? Wrong. The Bible doesn’t change because God doesn’t change. He created us for a beautiful role and purpose. As women we are precious jewels to our Heavenly Father and to our husbands, should we choose to follow God’s plan for us as wives. There is nothing belittling or insulting about this passage of scripture. Nor does it say it is for a time or a generation, and therefore we must accept that it is for all generations and still applicable today.

Let’s move on to the second part of the passage from 1 Timothy about Adam and Eve. Paul is explaining why women are to learn in silence at church and not to teach or have authority over men. Notice he doesn’t say it’s because women are not educated well enough in the Bible or that it is because at the present time woman were not treated as equals in society. Paul gives two reasons for creating these role boundaries. 1. Adam was created before Eve, and 2. Adam was not deceived in the Garden but Eve was.

Indeed, as we read back in Genesis 2 we see that Adam was created first. This does not mean he was more important than Eve or that he has priority over Eve. It is simply the order in which the Lord God willed for mankind. He has appointed the man to be the leader, going forth first with his wife following right by his side. Men are given a huge responsibility here. Teachers of the Word of God are always bearers of great responsibility as they must pray and study diligently not to lead anyone astray or misinterpret the Word. Secondly we see that Eve was deceived by the serpent. In Genesis, Eve makes the mistake of having conversation with the serpent, misquoting God’s actual words and then allowing the enemy to fill her heart with lies. She was caught up with the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes and the pride of life. As a result, she was deceived. She certainly wasn’t the only one in sin. Adam sinned willfully. The Word does not mention him being deceived, but he did sin. Perhaps in God’s deep knowledge of the character heart of women, He knows that we are often times more easily deceived and led away by emotions than our other halves. There is no shame in this, but the verse in 1 Timothy makes it clear that this commandment not to allow women to teach or usurp authority spiritually over men is not cultural or for Paul’s generation alone, but based on the will and wisdom of our Lord God.

As women we are to refrain from taking control of situations and decisions, even if we think we will handle them better. If you are a controlling woman, this will really be a challenge for you. If you are set in your ways and are married or planning to be married, pray for God to change your heart as I did before I was married. If you are one of those ladies who must have everything “just so”, pray that the Lord will give you a spirit of flexibility, patience and submission. God finds these characteristics so lovely in his children.

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Five Marriage Killers Part 3

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3. Sexual Stalemate

“And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed.” Genesis 2:25 “And Adam knew Eve his wife; and she conceived, and bare Cain, and said, I have gotten a man from the LORD.” Genesis 4:1

God created sex. He intended for marriage to be consummated by an intimate sexual fulfillment when two bodies are made one flesh. It is a beautiful gift that God gave His children for wives to experience sexual intimacy with our husbands for the cause of having children and for a pleasurable bonding with each another. The Lord God said man and woman would be one flesh before sin had ever entered the world, therefore we know that sex between a husband and wife is not sinful, nor is it defiled. It is in fact a lovely and most natural unity.

“Marriage is honourable in all, and the bed undefiled…” Hebrews 13:4a

Sex is a beautiful and honorable union when it happens within marriage. We see back in Genesis 4 that Adam “knew” his wife Eve and she conceived a child. Now we all know that the word “knew” is referring to sexual intimacy. This word is used throughout the Bible to refer to love-making. It’s so fitting as well to consider that a sexual relationship is the physical act of knowing someone so intimately that you are aware of every part of their body. This is why it’s so important for Christians to strive to remain pure until marriage. That intimate sexual knowledge is one that should only be shared between a husband and wife. Your husband should be the only one to know you that intimately and vice versa. It is so sad that the majority of people today miss out on the blessed experience of being their spouse’s one and only sexual partner.

God had a design for sex. He formed man and woman to be perfectly suitable partners for one another. In simple terms, all the parts fit, and when they do, the pleasure is incredible! Ladies, God designed us to be sexually involved with our husbands. As women we must recognize that our husbands have sexual needs that must be fulfilled. Science can show us why men seem to need sex more often physically. Their simple anatomy and reproductive system have been created in a way to need regular release to maintain a state of well-being. Sure men can go without sex—of course they can. The question is why should they? If their bodies were created, by God Himself, to renew and require release, why should we deny them the fulfillment of what their bodies are demanding? We should not. It’s simple.

While our men are driven by physical sensitivities to feel the need for regular sex, we women tend to need sexual intimacy on an emotional level. For many of us, it is through sexual bonding that we feel loved, connected and close with our husbands. I know when my husband and I have had to go for short lengths of time without intimacy it has left me feeling a bit disconnected and needing that physical closeness. If we need sexual intimacy emotionally and they need it physically, then it’s a win-win situation!

Women of today are deceived into thinking that a wife should never feel obligated to make love with her husband unless she feels like doing it. We are told that we should consider our own needs first and the needs of our husbands secondly. We are told that we have the right to say no when we’re not in the mood (or fake a headache as the magazines would say), and that our husbands must simply accept that and reign in their natural desires. Biblically speaking we see a sharp difference in the approach to sex. God tells us that, when we are married, our bodies no longer belong to us but to our spouse, and that we are to meet each other’s needs whenever they arise.

“Nevertheless, to avoid fornication, let every man have his own wife, and let every woman have her own husband. Let the husband render unto the wife due benevolence: and likewise also the wife unto the husband. The wife hath not power of her own body, but the husband: and likewise also the husband hath not power of his own body, but the wife. Defraud ye not one the other, except it be with consent for a time, that ye may give yourselves to fasting and prayer; and come together again, that Satan tempt you not for your incontinency.” 1 Corinthians 7:2-5

This passage starts out with a command and a way to avoid lust and fornication. Let every man have his own wife and every woman have her own husband. God knows that we are sexual creatures. He made us that way. He knows that we will struggle with lust and the desire to have sex. He knew that Adam needed a helper to meet ALL his needs—including the sexual ones. Marriage is the only right place to express that sexual nature of ours, therefore let a wife have her husband and let her husband have his wife.

Let the husband render unto the wife due benevolence and likewise also the wife unto the husband. What does this mean? The Greek word for “benevolence” is the word “eunoia” which means “goodwill and kindness”. Women should render unto their husbands the goodwill and kindness that is due to them. When the verse says it is “due” to them, do not be deceived into thinking that means you only give them the goodwill you think they deserve it. Our reverence of our husbands is not based on what they deserve. If you think of it that way then you have to swap it around and also say that your husband only needs to be kind towards you when you deserve it.
Do you think so highly of yourself that you think you will always be deserving of his best towards you? Do you really think you are perfect sister? I know I’m not. I don’t deserve my husband’s affections and love all the time. If we really got what we deserved, we would all be cast into the lake of fire. Thanks be to God and Jesus Christ, Who has shown us kindness and given us—not what we deserve—but His unending mercies and grace. Your husband may not deserve your goodwill but the Lord Jesus Christ is commanding you to give it to him regardless.

The passage goes on to talk about the wife’s and the husband’s bodies. “The wife hath not power of her own body, but the husband: and likewise also the husband hath not power of his own body, but the wife.” Now this goes against everything the world teaches today, doesn’t it? They tell women it’s perfectly okay to deny their husbands sexual intimacy because it’s their body. They give their hearty approval for abortion because they say it’s a woman’s choice what happens to her body. The Lord God of the universe says that when you marry your husband and commit your life to him, you give over ownership of your body to him permanently. If your body is a door, you give your husband the key so that he may enter in at any time. Wives, your bodies, according to the Word of the Living God, belong to your husbands, and you are not to deny them the pleasure that you have to offer.

No doubt there will be some reading this fuming with hot anger. Let me address one point that is certain to come up and cut it off before it even begins. By saying the wife’s body belongs to her husband I am NOT saying that a husband should or has the right to force his wife to have sex against her will. It is very wrong for any man to force any woman to have sex, even his own wife. I am VERY against it. Whether or not a woman chooses to follow God’s instruction to give her body willingly to her husband is her decision to make. She can decide to disobey God or she can obey. That is up to her. I think I’ve made myself clear.

“Defraud ye not one the other, except it be with consent for a time, that ye may give yourselves to fasting and prayer; and come together again, that Satan tempt you not for your incontinency.” 1 Corinthians 7:5

Ladies, the world wants us to believe that we should look after our own needs first, but the Word of God says that we are to care more about our husband’s needs than our own. Withholding one’s body from her husband is in direct contradiction to the Bible and I would encourage you ladies, if you struggle in this area, to pray for God to help you make things right and meet the sexual needs of your husband. Keep him satisfied at home and be the lover he’s always wanted you to be. And remember to enjoy it!

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Lighten Up and Make Merry!

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My husband loves it when I’m silly. He loves the silly, playful and eccentric me. That’s the girl he fell in love with and he just delights in my carefree silliness. The problem is, when real life gets to be busy, hectic, difficult and downright chaotic, it can be difficult to find a few moments to be silly and playful. We often fall into the trap of being too serious day after day as we deal with trials, packed schedules and the labors of life.

It’s in those times, when our home is filled, not with laughter and playing, but with serious tones and furrowed brows, that we just don’t enjoy each other the way that the Lord wants us to. It’s not to say that we aren’t going to need serious intervals. We know that for everything there is a time. There is a time to mourn and to grieve and to focus. There is a time to meditate on the Lord and to soberly consider issues facing the family. God calls us to be a sober (thoughtful, wise and careful) people. We definitely don’t want to be a bunch of giggling weirdos all the time, but it is a good thing for a family to play, laugh and be silly together.

He will yet fill your mouth with laughter, and your lips with shouting.” Job 8:21

A joyful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.” Proverbs 17:22

Then our mouth was filled with laughter, and our tongue with shouts of joy; then they said among the nations, “The Lord has done great things for them.” Psalm 126:2

When life is getting too serious in your home, try a little play time. Tackle your husband and remind him of the carefree girl he married. Make faces, be silly. serve with joy and play with the kids. The thing is, the world has plenty to worry about and a million problems to steal their joy away. While we face trials and tribulations (especially being Christians), we know that our Lord Jesus has overcome the world. You see, we have victory. We have a relationship with the all-powerful God of the universe. We have no need for worry. We do need to be wise and sober, but we can laugh in the face of every trial knowing that God is in control and that He is bigger than our problems. The Proverbs 31 woman laughed at future trials.

Strength and dignity are her clothing, and she laughs at the time to come.” Proverbs 31:25

So lighten up! Let go and have some fun with your hubby and your kids. Be silly. Be goofy. Enjoy your time with them and make your home a place of happiness, joy, laughter and love. Rejoice in the Lord always and make merry!

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