Thursday, August 19, 2010

A Spiritual Helpmate

I Thessalonians 5:11 "Therefore, encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing."

Ephesians 5: 22-27 "Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything."

Our church is taking sign ups for an upcoming Men's Conference.  The approaching weekend conference had me wondering how many wives responded to this event with excitement and encouragement.  How many ladies asked their husbands if they were going, told them how great it would be and explained to their spouse that they were happy to watch the kids that weekend and pray for them while they attended?

On the other hand, I also thought about how often wives might respond with frustration, dread and reluctance when their husbands miss a night or day at home for conferences, accountability, prayer group, Bible study, or quiet time.  I know I have sinned in this area.  On the weekends, it is so nice to have help with the kids after a long week at home with them.  I don't always jump for joy when my husband has a Partners discipleship meeting or a time of accountability on Saturday morning.  However, this is not a righteous response.  My priority should be my husband's spiritual growth, not my own feelings of comfort and entitlement.

Sisters, this is a very imortant calling.  We need to be encouraging our husbands' spiritual growth.  He is the leader of our home, and we need to have a healthy head of the family in order for our family to thrive in the Lord together. 

Here are some practical ways you can make sure you are being a spiritual helpmate to your husband and spurring him on in the Lord:

1. Praise him for any area in which you have seen increased obedience to God and spiritual growth.  Be specific and tell him how proud you are of his choices to grow in righteousness.

2.  Ask your husband questions you have about the Bible or Bible study.  This gives your husband respect and shows him you care about his leadership.  This also spurs him on to find out the answer and be knowledgable in the Word of God.

3.  Cheerfully send your husband out the door as he is on his way to accountability, prayer group, Bible study, conferences or other Bible programs.  Joyfully receive him home again and ask him how it went.

4.  Ask him what God is teaching him in his quiet time.

5.  Inquire of him if there is something you can do to make it easier for him to fit in quiet time or Bible studies.  (This is not meant to be nagging in disguise, ladies).

6.  Pray for his spiritual maturation.

7.  If someone must miss church due to an ill child or emergency, have your husband attend church and then come home and explain the points of the sermon to you.

8.  By your attitude and response, make it easy for your spouse to repent and ask for forgiveness.  Quickly forgive, love and encourage him so he can move forward.

9.  Have your husband lead prayer and family devotions.

10.  Submit to your husband and do not let your marriage relationship become a snare which satan can use to derail your husband's walk with God. 

11.  Honor your husband in front of others and be grateful for the gifts and personality that God gave specifically to him.

12.  Share your prayer requests with your husband and ask him if you can pray for him.

13.  Do not be overly scheduled with moms' nights out or even church functions to the point that your husband cannot be a part of his own Bible study or foster his own godly friendships.  Remember, our spouses often work all day in worldly settings and need time to grow relationships with other men at church.

14.  Pray together daily with and without your children.

15.  Be selfless and take on "extra" so that your husband can, for instance, attend those weekend conferences, go to night time Bible studies, help people at church move, and take someone through Partners (our church's one on one discipleship program).

These are just a few practical suggestions to encourage your husband in the Lord.  In the moment, we often let exhaustion, frustration or selfishness keep us from allowing our husbands to flourish spiritually.  Let this not be.  Pray for God to strengthen you to be a helpmate in the most important manner--a spiritual helpmate.  Pray that you can encourage your spouse effectively so he may one day hear Christ say, "Well, done, good and faithful servant."

Monday, August 2, 2010

A New Venue for Christ: Social Networking and Your Words

Philippians 2: 14-16a "Do everything without complaining or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe as you hold out the word of life."
Ladies, if you are reading this blog, you have more than likely joined the ever growing population of Facebookers.  This relatively "newer" area of social networking has far reaching effects.  When we post a new status update, share a picture or comment in a thread, it is read by far more people than phone calls or face to face conversations ever affected.  Within seconds, people can learn about your day, your mood, your prayer requests, your needs, your questions, or your schedule.
With this new source of information and entertainment come responsibilities.  Being Christian women, our Facebook posts should look different from those of our non-Christian friends.  I have seen many uses for Facebook, and I want to explore some of the worldly and godly behaviors that result.  I pray this discussion will help all of us to think twice about what we portray, share and tell.

I Timothy 6:6  "But godliness with contentment is great gain."
First of all, many people can use Facebook to gripe or complain.  I am guilty of this.  If one of my kids comes down with something or I have a flat tire, I want to vent on Facebook.  I want everyone to know how truly horrible my day has been.  I believe that we can be real and share requests of challenges we are facing, but we have to check our motives and the attitude we are portraying.  If we are sharing practical needs, asking for prayer and seeking God's will in a situation, we should share away!  It is when we have a negative, discontent and frustrated tone that our post has wandered into sinful territory. 
This especially applies to what we share about our husbands.  If we are unhappy that our husband is late from work, don't write on your husband's wall, "Where are you??????  Dinner is ready."  You have effectively disrespected your husband in front of hundreds of people.  If you are telling a story in which your husband did something silly or stupid, don't post it!  No spouse want his wife to belittle him in front of others.  An example of this could be as simple as posting a picture of your lobster red son and the caption, "Johnny has quite the sunburn!  Jeff forgot to pack the sunscreen on our trip to the beach. Ouch!"  This sounds silly, but, for the sake of a laugh or chuckle, you have thrown your husband under the bus.  This is not godly, respectful or loving behavior. 

Philippians 2:3 "Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves."
Besides griping and negativity, Facebook can produce feelings of jealousy and bitterness.  It sounds extreme, but, ladies, how many of you have seen a post about a girls' night out you weren't asked to attend or have seen pictures of a shower or party to which you were not invited and have felt sinful, selfish thoughts about how you have been treated?  I know there was a particular day that I was sinning in my attitude against my husband.  Of coure, satan jumped on that and all my friends seemed to post about how their husbands had bought coffee for them or let them sleep in.  Pictures of flowers "just because" popped up everywhere, and before I knew it, my bitterness and jealousy were in full bloom--fed by my sinful thoughts upon reading Facebook posts.  On the flip side of the same coin, do not use Facebook as a popularity contest.  Don't compare numbers of friends, post about every social outing you attend to make people see how "popular" and socially in demand you have become.  If you think a particular social event was limited and small, you might want to just thoughtfully mention you had a good night out with friends.  Name dropping and mentioning events so you puff yourself up in your own eyes is never becoming for a daughter of Christ.

Psalm 12:3 "May the Lord cut off all flattering lips and every boastful tongue."
II Corinthians 10:17 "But, 'Let him who boasts boast in the LORD.'"
This is a great transition to discussing how we can sin through bragging on Facebook.  We should share in great things God is doing in our lives and rejoice with our kids or hubbies when they are blessed with success.  However, again, we must check our heart motive before we post anything on our status update.  Are all our posts about how Johnny and Jane got straight A's again and got MVP of their sports team?  Do we read most of our wall and realize they talk about praising our kids, sharing our spouse's job promotion and talking about all the ways we served at church that week?  This is a gray area, and many posts of praise and rejoicing are just purely sharing good news with friends.  However, it is a fine line between that and bragging--be careful how you are portraying yourself.  A great way to check your motives is to make sure your boasts point to God.  We can better share success if we give all the credit and glory to God, making sure we know that all our abilities, blessings and possessions are His and His alone!

I John 2:10 "Whoever loves his brother lives in the light, and there is nothing in him to make him stumble."
Finally, a fourth area in which we must tread carefully is our reputation.  There are gray areas that might be better left off of your public wall.  Facebook can be used as a witnessing tool and way to shine light to the lost world, so you have to be overly cautious when you put anything on Facebook.  Why would you post a picture of yourself in that skimpy bikini for all of the guys who you have as friends to view?  Why would that picture of you holding a beer at that birthday party make it onto your photos?  We know that there are many activities that are not spelled out to be wrong in the Bible, but we can stumble others by parading our freedom to do these activities.  Be careful!  Your effective witness could be tarnished by a simple post that forever sticks in the mind of an unsaved friend.

Galatians 5:22-25 "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other."
How should we behave?  Look at your recent posts and comments.  Are you sharing scripture?  Are you encouraging your spouse and lifting him up?  Are you encouraging a friend and strengthening her with Bible verses or sermon links?  Are you thanking the LORD for the blessings you mention in a post?  Are you, without a doubt, the aroma of Christ to those who are friends with you on Facebook?  Ladies, if we use Facebook correctly, it is one of the most wonderful opportunities to shine for God, encourage our spouse and build up friends!  Let us examine our hearts, and use Facebook, yes, even Facebook, for His glory!