WHO, ME? BE SUBMISSIVE?

marriage submission Christianity

My friend, Chris, gave a talk last night on submission taken from Ephesians 5. She’s a brave soul!

If you’ve ever struggled with submission (and who hasn’t—whether to a husband, boss, or someone else), you’ll find her words worth reading and thinking about. Please understand her presentation in no way endorses abuse of any kind.

Let me encourage you to:

  • Leave aside your emotional reactions and reflect.
  • Ask to hear what God might be saying to you.
  • Listen and respond.

That’s what I did, and God showed me some negative attitudes

I need to change. Maybe He’ll speak to you, too.

Here’s what Chris said:

Submission—the hated word

It seems the word submission is hated, feared and badly misunderstood but I think it is refreshing to be able to talk about it from God’s perspective. We hear so much from the world about the role of a woman that it is easy to subconsciously start believing it. Even in Christian circles the word has been misconstrued and misrepresented.

I would like to make a disclaimer before I start.

  • I don’t have it all together. I have been married for 45 years and I am learning and growing but I am not coming to you as one who has it figured out. I have made most mistakes common to man. I am probably the least likely one to be standing here, so it is with His strength and power that I am speaking to you. Life isn’t easy, relationships aren’t easy. It doesn’t matter if you are married or single. God is faithful to complete the work he has started in us.

Let’s talk about this word…Submission.

Why does the mere mention of the word submission make the hair stand up on the back of our necks? I can understand the misuse of the word creating anxiety but we have become hyper- sensitive about any use of the word submission. Yes, it has been misused, misrepresented and often abused. Submission is a bad word in our culture.

My objective is to look at the word submission and let God speak his truth to us.

Some things to think about are…..

  • Are there appropriate uses of the word?
  • What is it that God wants us to understand?
  • If the word itself strikes terror into you, don’t run from it but allow yourself to think about why.

Just to put us a little at ease….Ephesians really has much more to say to the men than to the women….. Men actually have more responsibility. There are more verses dedicated toward their role.  However, Ephesians 5:22 says

Wives submit to your own husbands as to the Lord.

marriage submission ChristianityWhy does it seem like an unreasonable request that we are to submit to our husbands just as we do to the Lord? I’m wondering if maybe some of our struggle with the word is that it has been taken out of context.  Our culture has made it into a degrading, derogatory command.

But is that the spirit in which it’s stated? The verse actually says to submit to our husbands as to God.

So let’s ask ourselves some questions….

Do we get upset about submitting to God? Well if we are honest about it, sometimes maybe yes when God is asking us to do something we are unwilling to do,

I’m wondering if the problem is deeper than submission

I’m wondering if the problem is really pride. 

Our self-centeredness exposes our pride, and when we are self-centered we are on the throne…we are first… 

Maybe instead of being a command, submission is the result of an attitude. An attitude of humility and respect, coming from our hearts rather than an attitude of pride and entitlement, or equality or demands. 

 Humility versus pride

  • What do we do when things aren’t fair? How do we handle it?

Often we wait for the other person to make the first move and then base our actions and responses on theirs.

  • In many relationships fairness becomes the unspoken rule. Henry Cloud says, “Fair is giving good things to others as long as they give good things to us.”   

If they fail us in some way we respond “fairly”.  We give it right back to them either at the moment or soon after.  Either our words or our actions say, “That’s not fair” therefore I am not going to do good to you anymore. In fact I’m going to give you exactly what you are giving me. Then you can see how it feels.

The problem with playing fair is that all it takes for any relationship to go sour is for one person not to perform, then the other one will do the same.  There is an interlocking dependency:  the other person must be good so I can be good to them—otherwise I won’t be.

marriage submission ChristianityWhen this happens and we perceive we haven’t been treated fairly or things aren’t fair we harbor those hurts or the injustice.  We tuck it away down in our hearts and put the next hurt beside it and it grows into bitterness.

Beth Moore says that bitterness is a spiritual cancer, a rapidly growing malignancy that can consume your life.  After it consumes the soul, it begins to eat away at the body.  It is so contagious that we can pass it to our children who are often oblivious to the source of their bitterness. Hebrews 12:15 warns: Watch out that no bitterness takes root among you, for as it springs up it causes deep trouble, hurting many in their spiritual lives.

Love and Respect

  • We don’t have a marriage crisis in the Christian community; we have a crisis of living out our faith. My spouse doesn’t cause me to be the way I am, he reveals the way I am. When my reactions are unloving it reveals that I still have unresolved issues.

We have to realize that the only real healing and comfort we are going to get is by looking to the Lord and trusting Him with your situation, as painful as it is. Then we can begin to grow spiritually when we take responsibility for our part and quit the victim role, and the fairness game

Think of a speck of sand. If the sand gets in the human eye, it causes irritation then infection and if not cared for eventually loss of vision. But put that same speck of sand in an oyster. It causes irritation, then secretion and eventually the oyster forms a pearl. Was the sand the primary cause of the results in the eye? Was the sand the primary cause of the results in the oyster? No. If it were, the results would be the same. The sand was an agent that revealed the inner properties of the eye and of the oyster.

In a real sense when life with your spouse causes irritation you can let it develop into an infection or you can allow it to become a pearl.

We all have irritations. How are we reacting to them? Are we letting those irritations become infections, infecting us with bitterness or are we allowing God to use those irritations?

Do we respond the same way we did 5 years ago or are we allowing God to teach us a new way?

I encourage and exhort you to forgive. Forgive your husband. Unforgiveness puts our souls in prison and gives the devil the key. When you are hurt, before you move on, say even in your mind…I forgive you…I forgive you for……name it……..don’t let the hurt take root and grow…

Don’t cause the Holy Spirit sorrow by the way you live or by the way you talk to your husband.

Stop being mean, bad tempered and angry. Quarreling, harsh words and dislike of others should have no place in your lives.  Instead be kind to each other tender-hearted forgiving one another just as God has forgiven you, because you belong to God. (Eph. 4)

  • You see it isn’t about our husbands. It’s really about our relationship to God.
  • Are we willing to trust him to work in our heart and character?
  • Are we willing to learn a new way, a different way of relating?
  • Are we willing to let go of bitterness?
  • Are we willing to let go of our agenda and say Jesus I want you?
  • I want you …..more than I want to be right or have my way
  • I want to be like you….I want to reflect you
  • I need you Jesus…

 

Qu.  I’d love to hear your comments—and how God might be speaking to you about this topic.

Choose to grow more like Jesus, my friends. Let’s strengthen each other on our journey.

Love in Christ Jesus,

Poppy

Join me for my interview on The 5-Success Secrets for Reaching Your God-Given Goals on Marnie’s Friends. http://ow.ly/3rKC30aSc4X

Carol Graham of Battered Hope recently interviewed me on The Secret to a Better Marriage. Check it out! http://ow.ly/nhv830a5zR1 


For more on marriage, check out my book, Why Can’t He Be More Like Me? Using Scripture, humor, and colorful illustrations from my own struggles, I offer hope in this upbeat, personal, practical, biblically grounded, and empathetic book. It will help women analyze areas of marital conflict by reviewing their backgrounds, parenting personalities, expectations, needs, and reactions. Each chapter provides practical tools to help women learn to accept and enjoy their mate, resulting in a strengthened relationship, better communication, and deeper understanding of each other.

Blog photo credits: GraphicStock

CRAVE PERSONAL RENEWAL?

CONQUER STRESS – CULTIVATE REST!

Jesus: “Come to ME and I will give you REST”

Matt.11.28-29

How do you feel when you’re stressed? Do you identify with these reactions: irritable, snappy, depressed, mad, sad, ready to scream—and burst into tears? Or maybe you react with silence, withdrawal, stuffed rage, smoldering resentment—and perhaps a mask that hides it all?

Stress can be a motivator, it can also be a constant drainer of your emotional and spiritual energy.

To help you conquer stress and cultivate rest:

  • Visualize a tank say the size of an aquarium, with tubes running into the top, and others draining out the bottom. Your tank can hold only so much. When stress drains your tank, and you don’t keep refilling it with what renews your soul—you get depleted, dry, and empty.

 

  • Get your rest and relief from Jesus. If you’re burdened, weary, and overwhelmed, He offers a relationship of love, healing, and peace. He isn’t waiting to shame or condemn you, He holds out understanding, forgiveness, and renewal.

 

  • Take action. God’s Spirit doesn’t pour out the spiritual and emotional energy you desperately need without your desire, request, and action. James 4:2 declares a powerful principle of the spiritual life: You have not, because you ask not.

 

  • Pray for insight. List all the causes you can think of that are producing stress in your life right now. Study them. Which are roles or situations you can change? For help, see these links:

Stressed Out? Get God’s Input

Overwhelmed?  Make Margins

When you feel like Screaming: 4 Tips for Moms

personal renewal

  • List what brings you vitality and joy. To fill your emotional tank, make time to get outside and walk, worship, and wonder at God’s love and acceptance of you. Create something. Get together with friends. Take care of your body. Make 7-8 hours of sleep a priority for good health. Do what nourishes your inner self, helps you flourish, and makes you come alive.

 

To fill your spiritual tank, make prayer a priority. Choose times of rest from endless to-do lists, from noise that blocks the voice of God, and instead, seek a place of quietness to read Scripture. Pray over it, praise God through it, perceive what He is saying to you in your life, your choices, and your direction. Stop and listen, capture your thoughts from prayer and Scripture. Write to God—just like a human relationship, you’ll sense His closeness and be filled.

Want personal renewal?

            I do.

            I need it constantly.

            It’s like manna. It doesn’t last.

            I need to stay close. To abide. To stay hungry.

            When I do, my emotional and spiritual tank overflows.

            I’m who I want to be.

 

Qu:  What about you? What drains you emotionally or spiritually?

What renews you?  Let’s encourage each other by sharing life.

 

Keep growing closer, my friends, keep building your relationship with Jesus.

Poppy

Photo Credit: GraphicStock

Want Personal Renewal? Pray More!

Today we’re continuing our series on the 5 Essentials for Personal Renewal. If you missed the first post in the series, click here. If you missed Essential #1, click here.

Photo of grapes

Essential #2: Cultivate Conversation with God

If you skip praying on your knees first thing in the morning, are you flunking out spiritually?

Is that a requirement?

Is there a difference between a prayer-time and a prayer-life? Do we all have to fit the same “devotional” box—having the same style and schedule?

I don’t think so.

To Do List

Convictions vary. Some of you have both a conviction and a commitment to begin your day with Bible reading and prayer. One woman (with no children) told me she was raised with the principle, “No Bible, no breakfast!” At the time I was a young mom struggling with two little ones and desperately trying to open my eyes at an unearthly hour to spend time with God. I won’t tell you what went through my mind about her total lack of understanding! You might be like me, struggling to be consistent at the crack of dawn—and feeling guilty if it doesn’t happen. But: Here’s an important fact to remember:

We are not the same. Good and helpful and Biblical as it is to spend time with God early in the morning, we are not shaped the same way, we don’t have the same inner clock, the same outward schedule, or the same responsibilities at that early hour. We are individuals and can celebrate the fact that God has given us 24 hours in a day when we can talk with Him—at any moment and in any circumstance. But here’s another important fact to remember:

Our need IS the same. We live in God’s grace and not in His judgment. We live with his invitation to COME, to CALL on Him, to PRAISE, to TASTE and SEE that He is good—and to snuggle close in every situation we experience each day. When we sail though our day without conversing with God, we’re saying “I don’t need you. I can manage my life, my relationships, my fears, and my decisions without you.” I doubt any of us would honestly say that!

So do we need prayer? Absolutely. And out of my own longing to pray more, let me encourage you with these quotes from a few of my favorite books and authors on prayer.

 

Corrie ten Boom: Magnificent Prayer, collated by Nick Harrison, Zondervan

1. Prayer is necessary for the soul. “What wings are to a bird and sails to a ship, so is prayer to the soul.”

2. Is prayer your steering wheel or your spare tire?

3. We depend far too much on our feelings as a test of our prayers.

 

Richard Foster: Prayer: Finding the hearts true home

1. Prayer is not another duty to add to an already over-committed schedule.

2. We must firmly discipline ourselves to a regular pattern of prayer. We cannot assume that time will somehow magically appear.

3. While the wilderness is necessary, it is never meant to be permanent. In God’s time, and in God’s way the desert will give way to a land flowing with milk and honey.

MaryKate Morse: A Guidebook to Prayer—24 ways to walk with God, IVP

1. Prayer can redirect anxiety to hope, bitterness to freedom, insecurity to courage, and stuck-ness to vision.

2. I encourage you to pray as an individual at least four times a week for at least fifteen minutes a day.

3. Because of distractions and busyness we can miss the places where Jesus is yearning for us to make a difference. Prayer is the space where we get close to the heart of God and are renewed in our priorities.

Qu. What are your thoughts or convictions about prayer? Do you have a story or suggestion for your fellow readers? Leave your response in the comment section below.

I’ll share more with you in my next post.

“Pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests…always keep on praying for all the saints” Ephesians 6:18.

Blessings on your prayers to the Living God, in the name of the Risen One.
Poppy


If you’re not sure how to get started with your morning prayer time, here’s an inspirational post for you:  10 Morning Prayers to Use Daily

Photo credit: GraphicStock

Instead of Anger and Division — Act out Your Faith!

In celebration of my birthday, I’m giving away one copy of my latest book, Go For It! To enter the drawing, leave a comment on this post. More details to follow below.

Live a life worthy of the calling you have received… Ephesians 4: 1.

In America, and in many other countries, we are going through a time of anger, conflict, and division. Each viewpoint is driven home by arguments, scorn, and rejection of those who hold different views.  Friends have told me that they cannot share their thoughts with work colleagues. Others are verbally attacked by family members they once got along with.  And one woman was reported as planning to divorce her husband because of who he voted for in the recent presidential election. Yikes!

What is happening? And what can we do to shine as

lights in a dark and divided world?

Whoever you voted for, and whatever views you hold, God’s Word gives us principles to live by—which is another reason we need to take it in regularly.

This is not the full answer but here are 7 verses that, if practiced consistently, will make a difference in your stress level, your mood, and how you come across to people who don’t share your views!

  1. Psalm 119:105. Get your input from God’s Word, not your favorite network or news source. What does God say about how to handle the situations you’re facing?
  1. Psalm 37:1. Don’t fret. Don’t get unduly upset! Stay cool! Breathe deeply. Step back.  Recognize that worry and anticipating the unknown will not help you. Jesus repeated this principle five times in Matthew 6:25-34.  Your worry will not change a situation, but it will eat away at you! Repeat to God: “I trust YOU!”
  1. Proverbs 21:23. Guard your words! Plaster the old advice on your brain, Think before you speak! In today’s climate, whatever you say can bring derision and division—from both sides of the issue. Check your motive in speaking out, and consider the possible outcome. Is it something that helps or hinders the person or situation? Eph.4:29.faith community friends
  1. Micah 6:8. Do what God requires of you. It’s not complicated. Be fair and just toward others. Be compassionate and merciful. Walk humbly with God. Show God’s heart through your words and actions.
  1. Romans 12:17-18. Don’t play tit for tat. Don’t repay anyone evil for evil. As far as it depends on you, live in peace with everyone. Jesus didn’t respond to insults and we’re to do the same. You can read about my somewhat humorous encounter with a difficult person hereThrive 4 Responses to Difficult People
  1. Philippians 2:14. Shine like Jesus in your universe. Choose to be a positive influence in your various circles. Show interest, learn to listen without interrupting, look for the fears that are driving their emotions, and yours. Pray for insight to identify the values you have in common–and build on those, not your differences. Remember it’s not about winning an argument or a convert to your opinions, it’s about revealing the love and peace God can give in any situation.

Want to brush up on your listening skills? Click here: http://bit.ly/2lWwizw

  1. 1 Peter 4: 8-11. Praise God if you suffer for being a Christian. Don’t assume that all attacks or rejection are because of your faith. Sometimes they come because of insensitive reactions, mean words, accusations, or other negative behaviors on our part. But if you’re on the receiving end of scorn or dislike because of your identification with Jesus, remember His words: Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you. Matthew 5: 11-12.

You’ll find more practical principles and help on dealing with conflict of all kinds in my book, Reaching Higher. In his conflict with Lot, Abraham shows us how to handle it.

If your conflict is with your spouse, you’ll find many helps for better communication in Why Can’t He be More Like Me? You can order an autographed copy from my website or from Amazon.

Let’s talk: What’s troubling you the most in our current social divisions? What teachings from Scripture are helping you act out your faith?

Poppy

Now it’s time to enter the drawing! To win a copy of my latest book, Go For It!, leave a comment below sharing about a time in your life when you chose to act out your faith instead of letting anger and division control you. (Winner must be a resident of the Continental United States. Contest ends March 15, 2017.)

Update: Congratulations to Debbie McAlear who won a copy of my latest book, Go For It!, during my birthday celebration!

In case you missed my latest YouTube videos, here are two. One is a hilarious situation I experienced recently and one is an inspirational video regarding transformation. Enjoy!

 

Photo credits: Dollarphotoclub_69793015, Dollarphotoclub_51199267

Essential #1: Create Time for God’s Word — You Need it!

5 Essentials for Personal Renewal - Part One

Create Time for God’s WordEssential #1:

Create Time for God’s Word—You Need it!

“How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth” Psalm 119: 103. 

As a baby Christian living in Kenya, I would drive my beaten up car to the city park during my lunch hour, munch on a sandwich, and devour a Bible study on Romans.  I knew nothing about the Bible, why Jesus died on the Cross, or how to live like a Christian, but I had a longing to know more. I’m so grateful for this gift of spiritual hunger because it has changed my life.

As our focus is on creating time to read God’s Word, let me share with you a book written by my friend, speaker and author Lucinda (Cindy) McDowell. In Cindy’s book titled, Live These Words: an active response to God, she examines 40 key words from Scripture.  Adding stories, quotes, and prayers, her writings have stirred me to grow in Christ. And reflecting on her sub-title, I can’t help but ask you, and myself:

“If we don’t make time to read God’s Word, how can we actively

respond to what He says about a life that pleases Him?”

Clearly, we can’t!

Many of us live packed-to-the-brim lives where we desperately multi-task our endless to-do lists. Rushing to work, taking care of our children, or meeting other pressing needs too often means that time to read the Bible, think about it, and absorb it into our spiritual system just doesn’t happen. In spite of loving to soak in Scripture, at times I still struggle with fitting it in.

Spend time in the WordStudies in both America and Canada are measuring the decline of Bible reading. They are also linking the lack of Bible knowledge with the moral decline among Christians. One comment struck me:

“Followers of Jesus will treat the Bible as an optional reading lesson. Disciples of Jesus will treat the Bible as the bread of life. Serious Christians will see the Bible as indispensable in knowing Jesus more deeply. Causal Christians will see the Bible as a dusty, boring book that has little relevance to their earthly pursuits.”

https://edleblanc.ca/2016/03/10/the-decline-of-bible-reading/

My goal isn’t to make you feel guilty, flaky, or full of shame.  Life happens. Seasons of life vary. But if we put ourselves in the “serious Christian” category, let’s reflect on the benefits gained from spending more time reading Scripture.

Here are 6 that have transformed my heart—and can transform yours:

  1. God reveals who He is—that He is forgiving, merciful, full of love. Truths you don’t grasp unless you dig in, think, and respond to the stirring of His Spirit.
  2. God eradicates guilt and shame at the Cross. You don’t have to be “good enough!”
  3. God transforms your character, your distorted thinking, your broken sense of self.
  4. God gives hope for tomorrow, provides the strength to persevere, and is for you.
  5. God shows how to live so you don’t keep tripping up, staying stuck, or hating yourself.
  6. God gives power to forgive, reconcile, make hard decisions, and to choose His will.

There is so much more, of course, that God has communicated which I can’t cover here. But here are some suggestions for absorbing more of what God wants you to know:

  1. Ask God to give you a hunger for His Word. We need His help to follow through!
  2. Use a Bible! I know various devices have everything you need, but make a physical Bible a special treasure. Underline, write notes, put in quotes, paste what inspires you.
  3. Find podcasts or Bible teachers who feed you while you drive. Sing praise songs.
  4. Write out verses to reframe your thinking about who God is, and who you are.
  5. Join a structured Bible Study. Prioritize your time to include this. Be accountable.
  6. Absorb the Word in some form every day. Choose to read and journal 3 times a week.
  7. Meet with a growing Christian friend for coffee/lunch once a week and share life.

Again, there are far more ways to absorb God’s Word than I can cover here. For more inspiration on the 5 essentials we’re covering in this series, order a copy of I’m Too Human to be Like Jesus from my website. Let me know if you’d like it signed for you or a friend.

Qu: Do you have a favorite way to absorb Scripture? Jot a response and share it with us here so we can all be helped.

Wishing you much joy from reading God’s words to you.

 

 

 

Photo credit: GraphicStock


DRINK! 
In order to THRIVE, we need to drink, otherwise we’ll find ourselves dehydrated. Jesus impressed on me when I left teaching in BSF many years ago, “Feed my sheep.”  It’s why I DRINK, and write and speak. I need input, just as we all do. So with each THRIVE, I’ll share one resource that helps me hear God.
Here’s one:  
As our focus is on creating time to read God’s Word, let me share with you a book written by my friend, speaker and author Lucinda McDowell. In Cindy’s book titled, Live These Words: an active response to God, she examines 40 key words from Scripture. 

 

5 Essentials for Personal Renewal

Personal Renewal

I have come that they may have life

And that they may have it more abundantly

John 10:10. (NKJV)

I recently drank some “green juice” but I won’t be doing it again. Somehow, I don’t consider liquefied kale an essential for personal and physical renewal, even if some gulp it down with great enthusiasm!

What I have found essential, however, is drinking in the life-giving and life-changing words of Scripture.

Why? Because when I don’t, I get spiritually and emotionally dehydrated, and find myself in desperate need of inner revival. How about you? Are there certain essentials that make a huge difference in your life? Are there areas that need attention?

Over the next few months, I’ll be sharing five ways God uses to revive our souls that I’ve found personally essential.  We’ll explore the importance of each and how we can include them in our busy lives. I’ll also be mentioning other helps, posting links, and recommending books. Here’s what’s coming up:

5 Essentials for Personal Renewal:

  1. Create Time for God’s Word

Of all the ways we can grow strong in Christ, taking time to read the Word, think about it, pray over it, and (for me, at least), write out my responses, has made me stronger than any amount of kale! I can’t abide in Christ, be a disciple, or obey Him if I don’t know what Scripture says, (John 15:1-8). If we want our lives to count for God, we need to know what’s required!

  1. Cultivate Conversation with God

There are 24 hours in a day and we can talk to God at any moment and in any circumstance. Why don’t we? How can we become more God-aware? If we skip praying on our knees first thing in the morning, are we flunking out spiritually? What are we losing when we’re too busy to pray? James 4:2 declares, “You do not have because you do not ask God.”

  1. Connect with a Spiritually Alive Community

Without being exposed to other Christians who live out their faith, it’s easy to dry up, grow cynical, or simply drift away, (Hebrews 2:1). We need to receive input that strengthens us, and to strengthen others in a church community, small group, or mentoring relationship. Seek out a situation where you are fed, challenged and encouraged. It’s essential!

  1. Choose Honesty with Yourself and God  

Being emotionally healthy requires honesty. In Psalm 51:6, David cried out to God, “Surely You desire truth in the inner parts.” Pretending, hiding from the truth, reframing facts, or blaming others will only hinder your relationship with God, others, and even yourself. Acknowledging truth is the key to freedom from guilt and renewal.

  1. Care for Yourself—Physically, Emotionally, and Intellectually

Your physical health, your emotions, and your mind are all gifts from God. How you handle them can leave you unhealthy or healthy; dominated by emotions or in control of them; and either wasting or educating the mind God gave you. Taking care of yourself not only honors God, it brings fulfillment and joy.

  • I hope this preview of what’s to come excites you. I’d love you to forward this to friends, or even use these posts as a base for discussion or mentoring a friend.
  • If you’re looking for personal support and accountability in your journey, let me know. I’d love to help you, either in person, by phone, or by Skype. You can contact me here:

Qu: Let us know what renews you by responding below.

Poppy

DRINK! 
In order to THRIVE, we need to drink, otherwise we’ll find ourselves dehydrated. Jesus impressed on me when I left teaching in BSF many years ago, “Feed my sheep.”  It’s why I DRINK, and write and speak. I need input, just as we all do. So with each THRIVE, I’ll share one resource that helps me hear God.
Here’s one:
The author is honest about his struggles until he became willing to face inner truth. Insightful, instructive, and inspirational. Emotionally Healthy Spirituality by Peter Scazzero.
Quote: “Emotional health powerfully anchors me in the love of God.”

Photos: Graphic Stock Photo

Need Reviving?

Need Reviving?

“If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink” John 7:37.

“Come all you who are thirsty, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come buy, and eat” Isaiah 55: 1.

“He is like a tree planted by streams of water” Psalm 1:3.

True confession!  I crawled into the New Year with no ambition, vision, or enthusiasm. After a year of extensive travel, I just longed to stay home, be quiet, and have time to feed my need for God.

Revival is God’s Grace at Work                             

I know many people ask God for a special word or verse for the coming year. I haven’t done that before but a word for 2017 is reverberating in my mind. Like a parent or spouse who gently reminds you of something you need to do, the Holy Spirit pointed me to the verses above and gave me a word: DRINK! 

A doctor once told me that when you feel thirsty, you’re already dehydrated.  The same is true when you find yourself lacking spiritual, physical, emotional or mental energy. It results from various causes, and there are various ways God has designed us to experience revival.

Restoration, not recrimination, is God’s desire.

Fresh startDryness, distance, deadness aren’t necessarily a result of sin.  It might be because of poor priorities, pressures, or neglect of what keeps us close to the Lord. Restoration, not recrimination, is God’s desire. His grace—His undeserved loving kindness—always reaches out to forgive what needs forgiving, reveal healthier ways to live, and restore a living and vibrant relationship with Him.

The all-encompassing grace of God has been on my mind recently as I’ll be teaching on Ephesians 2:8-9 in a few days.  Just think about this truth:

“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—

and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—

not of works, so that no one can boast.”

God’s grace is:

  • It is beyond human logic.
  • A free, but costly, gift to those who accept it through faith.
  • A truth which changes everything that happens throughout your life.
  • A confident assurance that God is always for you.
  • A source of peace knowing your past is forgiven and forgotten.
  • A liberating awareness that you can never earn or lose His grace and goodness.
  • A powerful release from self-condemnation and an invitation to knowing you’re loved forever.

Embrace GRACE, my friend.  No matter your reasons for needing revival, God’s Spirit wants to refresh and strengthen you for the days ahead.

Over the next few months, I’m looking forward to sharing with you many of the ways God revives our souls. And, in addition, I’ll share books, quotes, and links that I’ve found helpful, stimulating, and faith-deepening.  I hope these topics excite you and that God blesses and revives your walk with Him in 2017.

DRINK! 

In order to THRIVE, we need to drink, otherwise we’ll find ourselves dehydrated. Jesus impressed on me when I left teaching in BSF many years ago, “Feed my sheep.”  It’s why I DRINK, and write and speak. I need input, just as we all do. So with each THRIVE, I’ll share one resource that helps me hear God.

Here’s one:

  • Streams in the Desert. A devotional by L.B. Cowman. Warning—this is old but it is solid gold. Want perspective, encouragement, and Scriptural depth? This is your book!

Leave a comment or suggestion below.  I’d love to know how God’s grace has blessed your life!

Happy New Year,

Poppy

3 Things Christianity Offers the World

Christianity
Article by Timothy Keller

Pastor, author, and theologian Timothy Keller feeds the minds and nurtures the faith of many. Because of this, I wanted to share his article with you. Here is the second part. You can see the full article and sign up to read more at…
Talking about the early church, and today, Keller writes:

• “First, Christians were called into a unique “social project” that both offended and attracted people. Christians forbade both abortion and the practice of “infant exposure,” in which unwanted infants were simply thrown out. Christians were a sexual counter-culture in that they abstained from any sex outside of heterosexual marriage. This was in the midst of a culture that thought that, especially for married men, sex with prostitutes, slaves, and children was perfectly fine.

• Also, Christians were unusually generous with their money, particularly to the poor and needy, and not just to their own family and racial group.
• Another striking difference was that Christian communities were multi-ethnic, since their common identity in Christ was more fundamental than their racial identities, and therefore created a multi-ethnic diversity which was unprecedented for a religion.
• Finally, Christians believed in non-retaliation, forgiving their enemies, even those who were killing them.

Second, Christianity offered a direct, personal, love relationship with the Creator God. People around the Christians wanted favor from the gods, and eastern religions spoke about experiences of enlightenment, but an actual love relationship with God was something that no one else was offering.

Third, Christianity offered assurance of eternal life. Every other religion offered some version of salvation-through-human effort, and therefore no one could be sure of eternal life until death. But the gospel gives us the basis for a full assurance of salvation now because it is by grace not works and by Christ’s work not ours.

I hope that by now you can see the relevance of these studies. The earliest church was seen as too exclusive and a threat to the social order because it will not honor all identities. Yet the early church thrived in that situation. Why?

One reason was that Christians were ridiculed as too exclusive and different. And yet many were drawn to Christianity because it was different. If a religion is not different from the surrounding culture, if it does not critique and offer an alternative to it, it dies because it is seen as unnecessary.

If Christians today were also famous for and marked by sexual chastity, generosity and justice, multi-ethnicity, and peace-making — would it not be compelling to many? Ironically, Christians were “out of step” with the culture on sex to begin with, and it was not the church but the culture that eventually changed.

Another reason Christianity thrived was because it offered things that no other culture or religion even claimed to have — a love relationship with God and salvation by free grace. It is the same today. No other religion offers these things, nor does secularism. Nor can the “spiritual but not religious” option really capture them either. These are still unique “value offers” and can be lifted up to a spiritually hungry and thirsty population.

The early church surely looked like it was on the “wrong side of history,” but instead it changed history with a dogged adherence to the biblical gospel. That should be our aspiration as well.”
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I hope Tim Keller’s article has given you much food for thought. As Christians, let’s be marked by the way we live and act—with moral and social integrity, generosity, justice, acceptance of different cultures, and being peacemakers.
Wishing you joy, peace, and a Merry Christmas!

Poppy

 

 

 

Images by GraphicStock

Why Does Anyone Become a Christian?

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Why Does Anyone Become a Christian? – Timothy Keller, Nov. 2016

Jesus said to Peter, “Feed my sheep” (John 21:17). Those words echo in my heart and guide what I share in my speaking, writing, and counseling ministry.

Even though it’s the time to celebrate the birth of Jesus and you might be expecting some thoughts on the season, I decided to share something I came across today.  When I read this article by Tim Keller, a well-known and respected pastor, author, and theologian, I knew it was something that would “feed my sheep”.  It’s long, and I know everyone is busy, so I’ve divided it into two. I’ll share the second half in my next blog, Hope this helps you grow in your faith!

Christianity is under attack by our changing culture. Here’s help to face today’s challenges.

Many say that Christians who maintain the historic, traditional doctrines are behind the times, are too exclusive, and are “on the wrong side of history.” Two recent books that cast doubt on this view are from historian and biblical scholar Larry Hurtado, Destroyer of the gods: Early Christian Distinctiveness in the Roman World (Baylor University Press, 2016) and Why on Earth Did Anyone Become a Christian in the First Three Centuries? (Marquette University Press, 2016).

JesusThe earliest Christians were widely ridiculed, especially by the cultural elites, excluded from circles of influence and business, and often persecuted and put to death. Hurtado says that Roman authorities were uniquely hostile to them, compared to other religious groups.

Why? It was expected that people would have their own gods, but that they would also be willing to show honor to all other gods as well. Nearly every home, every city, every professional guild, and the Empire itself each had its own gods. You could not even go to a meal in a large home or to any public event without being expected to do some ritual to honor the gods of that particular group or place. To not do so was highly insulting, at the least, to the house or the community. It was also dangerous, since it was thought that such behavior could bring the anger of the gods. In particular, it was seen as treason to not honor the gods of the empire, on whose divine authority its legitimacy was based.

Christians, however, saw all these rituals and tributes as idolatry. They were committed to worship their God exclusively. While the Jews had the same view, they were generally tolerated since they were a distinct racial group, and their peculiarity was seen as a function of their ethnicity. Christianity, however, spread through all ethnic groups, and most of them were former pagans who suddenly, after conversion, refused to honor the other gods. This created huge social problems, making it disruptive or impossible for Christians to be accepted into most public gatherings.

Christianity’s spread was seen as subversive to the social order, a threat to the culture’s way of life. Christians were thought to be too exclusive to be good citizens. But in light of the enormous social costs of being a Christian in the first three centuries, why did anyone become a Christian? Why did Christianity grow so exponentially? What did Christianity offer that was so much greater than the costs? Hurtado and others have pointed out three things.”

I hope you’ll read the three things Christianity offered back in the first three centuries, and offers NOW. If you’re really curious and don’t want to wait for the second half of Tim Keller’s article, click http://www.timothykeller.com/blog/2016/11/11/why-does-anyone-become-a-christian

Qu: What are your thoughts about Christianity and our culture? How do you respond to skeptics?  Leave a comment or share your thoughts below.

Let’s be strong in the Lord, celebrate His birth, and also grow in knowing why we believe!

Hugs and blessings,

Poppy

 

 

 

Photo credit: Graphicstock and DollarPhotoClub.

WHERE’S YOUR HOPE?

thanksgiving

I pray that you may know the HOPE to which

He has called you.

Ephesians 1:17

Is HOPE just wishful thinking?

Are we to knock on wood, keep our fingers crossed, and HOPE things turn out for the best?

Is the Bible saying the same thing when it speaks of HOPE—or does it have a completely different meaning?

One thing we know for sure:

Without HOPE, the unknown has the power to stir up anxiety and fear.

Whether your unknown is a health prognosis, uncertainty over a relationship, a job, or a major change, the unknown easily produces fear.

Addressing this familiar response, Scripture repeatedly says:

Put your HOPE in God because hopelessness, dread, and pessimism are not from Him!

Two weeks before America celebrates Thanksgiving Day, this nation faces the unknown. Donald Trump’s election has bought hope and excitement to some, and horror and despair to others.  Whether you live in the United States or in another country, this totally unexpected outcome will make an impact in many ways. Millions are asking how could this happen? And, what does this mean for America? For minorities? For our involvement in the world?  God knows, and so will we, in time.

HOPE is mentioned throughout Scripture and is a vital part of our spiritual armor, but what is HOPE?

Prayer, BibleBiblical hope is not wishful thinking. It is having confidence, trust, and a firm conviction that God is in control of history No matter what happens in your life, here in the USA or in other countries, it is not a surprise to Him. He is working out His eternal purposes, as He has throughout time. Isaiah 46:9

Biblical hope is life transformingit turns us from living with despair and discouragement, from focusing on the negative, and being consumed with feelings of hopelessness and helplessness— to seeing this world and our circumstances through a different lens.

  • In Psalm 42: 5, David gives us a principle for dealing with discouragement. After he acknowledged his feelings, he asked himself why he felt that way. He then pivoted from spiraling down emotionally and told himself to refocus and put his HOPE in God.
  • In Romans 12:12, Paul writes, be joyful in hope. Hope brings joy, hopelessness brings despair.
  • In Romans 15:4, Paul connects the need to know the Bible if we want to have hope in difficult times. Everything written in the past was to teach us, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have HOPE.
  • Hebrews 6:19, We have this hope—this future blessing promised to us—as an anchor for the soul, keeping us firm and secure, spiritually and emotionally.
  • 11:1 Faith is being sure of what we HOPE for.

Biblical hope–our confident expectation that God is with us—doesn’t grow by magic!

You and I can develop a deeper and stronger confidence in God through taking some practical steps.  Here are three that will help to hold you steady when facing the unknown:

  1. Learn more about the greatness of God and the future He has planned for you. Isaiah 40:28-31.
  1. Remember all He has done for you and how much you matter to Him—Ephesians 1.
  1. Reflect and list all the ways He has led YOU and taken care of YOU through Your life experiences. Psalm 77.

Hope in the Lord will renew your strength. It will change your viewpoint. It will give you a new mindset. And it will fill you with a different perspective on the present and the future.

There is a future ahead for all who are His, and it is more glorious than any of us can imagine.

Put your HOPE and confidence in that!

Blessings, HOPE, and joy as you face what lies ahead. Do send a comment or an added thought. I love hearing from you.

Poppy