Friday, May 28, 2010

There is a Friend

Proverbs 18:24 "A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother."

As women, we know that friendship is an important part of our lives. We are blessed to know that the Bible has much to say concerning friendship and those we choose as friends.

Not surprisingly, the Bible is concerned with our holiness and God's glory, not with our popularity or self promotion. This flies in the face of the goals of the world, where ladies dress, speak and act in ways that will allow them to be accepted by the most people.

Proverbs 18:24 says, "A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother." It reminds us that the secret is not to gather as many friends as possible, but, rather, we are to find a true friend who will be a friend through all seasons, a friend who sticks closer than a brother. A true agape love of sacrificial consideration will be the foundation for this friendship--a Philippians 2 type of mentality.

Most of all, though, this friend needs to primarily love God and seek His glory above all else. Even our choice in friends needs to be rooted in righteousness and wisdom. Philippians 12:26 explains, "A righteous man is cautious in friendship, but the way of the wicked leads them astray." We all know that we are affected by the words and actions of those closest to us. God reminds us that a righteous man cautiously chooses with whom he will fellowship, but sinners haphazardly befriend whomever comes along, being led further astray by the other sinners with whom they party, gossip and "hang."

How do we know if our friends truly love God and want to glorify Him? Proverbs gives us some insight into their actions and words.

Proverbs 27:6 tells us, "Wounds from a friend can be trusted, but an enemy multiplies kisses." The idea of a friend wounding us doesn't sound very, well, friendly; but what the Word of God is saying is that a friend will tell us truth and admonish us. We need to find friends who use scripture, not opinion, to encourage, counsel and correct us. On the other hand, God tells us that "friends" who flatter us time and time again, even when we are sinning, are our enemy! They cannot be trusted because they are not concerned with the righteousness of God. If your friends are not confronting you in love, you are not growing and they are not spurring you on to be like Christ.

Proverbs 22:4 explains further, "Do not make friends with a hot-tempered man, do not associate with one easily angered." Are we all going to have moments where we sin in anger? Unfortunately, we are. I pray we are all growing in this area. However, the Bible warns us about befriending someone with patterns of anger in them. Do you have a friend who is always put off, offended, feeling slighted, bitter or holding grudges? Like a hot-tempered person, this type of friend is concerned about themselves, not God. When we see patterns of sensitivity, bitterness, anger, and unforgiveness, we know that an individual is concerned about her own feelings rather than God's commands. She needs a good dose of humility and repentance before she will be a righteous and fruitful friend.

Finally, Proverbs 27:9 says, "Perfume and incense bring joy to the heart, and the pleasantness of one's friend springs from his earnest counsel." Earnest counsel means telling the truth when advice is being given. As Christians, we define truth as Biblical truth. Are your friends giving you opinions or looking to God's Word to give you wisdom and answers? There is no other compass to follow than the Bible. If a friend is steering you by popular opinion or feelings, then this is not a friend who gives earnest counsel. In God's Word, we see what a disaster bad counsel can bring when Solomon's son, Rehoboam, leans on the opinion of his young, foolish "friends" rather than the wise, tested counsel of his father's elders. (I Kings 12) This lapse in judgement of his friends ulimately caused the separation of Israel from the tribe of Judah. The counsel you receive is very important, so do not underestimate the effect your friends' words have on your behavior.

Ultimately, ask yourself this, "Do my friends put God first in their lives? Do I see fruit in their actions and speech? Do I constantly feel guilty and ashamed or edified and built up in God when I leave after time with my friends?

Is there a place for non-Christians in our lives? Of course there is! We are to have aquantainces with whom we can share the gospel. Our time spent with them should primarily be just this--sharing the gospel and witnessing of their need for a Savior. They should not be our best friend, and we should not be walking into sin with them so we can "be their friend" in hopes of one day bringing them to Christ. Just as "missionary dating" doesn't work, having good friends who are lost in their sin never pans out either. You, as a Christian, are living for and serving God. You are an alien of this world. They are children of darkness and living for themselves. They hate the light and find little issue with sin. How can we be so unequally yoked? The truth is, we can't without compromise and sin on our own part.

It might seem a bit daunting to shake up some of your friendships and seek out godly ones who desire righteousness for themselves and you. It is vital, though. The Bible urges us to seek out friends cautiously because it is so important. Desire a love for God, righteousness, love, faithfulness and humility in your friends. If you seek God's wisdom and leading, you will find there is such a friend waiting to meet you.

Ephesians 5
Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children 2and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.

3But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God's holy people. 4Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving. 5For of this you can be sure: No immoral, impure or greedy person—such a man is an idolater—has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God.[a] 6Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of such things God's wrath comes on those who are disobedient. 7Therefore do not be partners with them.

8For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light 9(for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) 10and find out what pleases the Lord. 11Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them. 12For it is shameful even to mention what the disobedient do in secret. 13But everything exposed by the light becomes visible, 14for it is light that makes everything visible. This is why it is said:
"Wake up, O sleeper,
rise from the dead,
and Christ will shine on you."

15Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, 16making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. 17Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord's will is. 18Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit. 19Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord, 20always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

21Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

A New Focus for Mother's Day: From me to Him

James 1:17a "Every good and perfect gift is from above"
Philippians 2: 3-5 "Don't do anything only to get ahead. Don't do it because you are proud. Instead, be free of pride. Think of others as better than yourselves.
4 None of you should look out just for your own good. You should also look out for the good of others.
5 You should think in the same way Christ Jesus does."

It is Mother's Day. We are bombarded with advertisements for jewelry, displays of flowers, and stories of breakfast in bed. The holiday has the godly intention of having husbands and kids show appreciation to their wives and moms. However, in the world's eyes, it sometimes morphs away from a simple holiday of appreciation and thanks to a day dripping with expectations of serving mom, treating her like a queen and knocking her off her feet with expensive, owed-to-her gifts. In worldly circles, woe be to the husband or kids who fall short in meeting their wife's or mom's expectations. Moms, this viewpoint of "It better be a special day or else" has the spotlight on you. It is me centered.
As Christian moms, we take James 1:17 to heart and realize today is the day we point to God in thanksgiving. We thank Him for godly mothers we have been given, for each blessing that He has given us to rear for His glory, for mom friends who help encourage us in the trenches, and for His Word which guides us on this journey. God certainly loves to bless us for our hard work as moms, but there should be no expectation for our family to jump through hoops.
As a Christian mom, we know that we serve as mothers every day because God has called us to this and we labor unto the Lord. Every ability we have as a mom is given to us by God. He prepared these good works for us to do in advance, and He has given us the motivation and heart to do this.
Yes, being a mom can be difficult and taxing, but we are not owed this day of thanks. As Christians, we love to hear and give encouragement and praise, but we never should be angry or disappointed if we don't get it. Our satisfaction and identity are in God. Today should be a day we fix our hearts to be focused on Him in gratitude and dependency as we joyfully and gratefully accept whatever means of appreciation we receive.
Surprise your husband and kids with a huge thank you for the opportunities to be blessed with labor for God as a mom and wife. Remember, enjoy the day and, by all means, gratefully accept the love and appreciation of your family. However, do not sin with resentment and expectation if someone falls short in making this the picture perfect, Hallmark holiday. Focus on your blessings and the amazing gifts God has given you! Mother's Day is a day of thanks all around!

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

A Word of Gratitude

Ephesians 4:29 "Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear."

When was the last time you intentionally said thank you to your spouse? I am not talking about a simple "thanks" as he passes you a plate. I am talking about actually thinking about how you can encourage your spouse, picking a time when he can focus on what you are saying and telling him how much you appreciate him for doing x, y, and z.

Ryan and I have a list of thanks on our linen closet that we fill out each week. The thanks is both to God and some to our spouse. I get so encouraged when we read it during our Bible study together and Ryan has specifically thanked me for something I have done around the house or with the kids. It acknowledges my hard work and helps me to feel appreciated. Though I should do my tasks as unto the Lord and not expect a thank you, it sure does spur me on to do more when I know Ryan has noticed my labor.

I am sure we all have plenty of requests and suggestions for our spouse. Make sure you punctuate the day with meaningful thank yous to him as well.

Proverbs 12:25
Anxiety in a man’s heart weighs him down,
but a good word makes him glad.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

A New Attitude

I'm packing this week, and I came across an old praise tape I had as a kid--yes it was a tape, circa 1980, so I was happy it was still working. We have great praise music CDs, but for nostalgia's sake, I made a point to put the tape in my car and have my kids listen to it as we were driving. I found myself singing along, praises pouring out of my mouth and heart to God--all to the tune of kids' music. Shortly into the drive, I heard my son's sweet little 4 year old voice picking up the chorus and joining in the song. We smiled, clapped and sang as we drove, arriving at our destination with joy and praise in our hearts. My singing and happy attitude initiated a great morning for my kids.

We've all heard the phrase, "When momma ain't happy, ain't nobody happy." Despite it's grammatical flaws, it is sadly true. Proverbs 21:19 puts it this way, "Better to live in a desert than with a quarrelsome and ill-tempered wife." Women, we have a profound influence on the mood and temperment in our home. We can choose to be purposeful in our praise, thankfulness and kindness; or we can choose to be surly, stressed and annoyed. We can reflect the righteousness of our Heavenly Father or the corrupt and rotten desires of our sinful flesh. Either way, our mood vastly affects our husband and kids. Proverbs 15:30 tells us that even a look can affect others. Studying positive influences, it says, "A cheerful look brings joy to the heart."
Considering this, I recently noticed that my mornings were often rushed, frantic and crazy. The problem was that I was trying to get myself ready at the same time that I was getting my four year old and one year old ready for the day. Inevitably, something would go awry, we would end up running late, and the morning would be punctuated with my sighs, frustration and complaining. We would finally get in the car to rush to where we were going, and my kids would both be sulking and quiet in the back of the car--casualties of my impatience and annoyance.

In an effort to adjust my attitude to be righteous and pleasing to God, I decided to get up earlier to fit my quiet time and shower in BEFORE the boys got up in the morning. This has been decidedly helpful. With less rush, I have sinned less in my attitude and words.

Is there a time every day when you find your attitude is habitually unrighteous and affecting your family in an ungodly manner? Do you need to adjust your schedule or make sure you have a time of prayer before a stressful part of your day? Do you need to confess some sinful attitude to an accountability partner or memorize some scripture to help replace a bad attitude with righteous behavior? Have you asked your spouse if he notices a trend in a time of the day or schedule when you are prone to sin in your attitude?

Be purposeful and proactive in dealing with this particular venue of sin. Let's strive to be helpmates with attitudes that reflect the character of our Lord and Savior.
Proverbs 31:12 "She brings him good, not harm,all the days of her life."

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Helpmate: The Kickoff

Deuteronomy 11: 18-20

"Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds; tie them as symbols on your
hands and bind them on your foreheads. 19 Teach them to your children, talking
about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. 20 Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates"
The birth of this blog has been long coming. I have had a blog for a couple of years now, and I alternate between posts of Biblical lessons I am learning and personal antecdotes and news on my kids. It is a little scattered and lacks a central purpose. As I have gotten busier and had two kids, I find that most of my posts have become updates on my kiddos, which, honestly, most people probably don't need to read. Occasionally, when I find a rare moment, I'll sneak a Bible related blog post onto my page, but I always feel the topics are, well, scattered.
Ryan and I have led the Thrive Marriage ministry with Scott and Heather Gilmore for a few years now, and each year we try to stretch ourselves and what we can do to help people properly live out their biblical role in marriage. As I grow and learn myself, I love to disciple women in this area, and since I like to blog and write, I thought, "I'll do a blog specifically dedicated to discussing Biblical roles in marriage!"
I can't promise that I'll have time to blog all the time, but I sure am excited to begin this blog and grow with others in my knowledge of being a godly wife and mom. This is the good stuff--the Bible and how it relates practically and specifically to our lives! Yes, it does! As Deuteronomy 11 states, we are to meditate and read the Word constantly so we can live our lives in step with God's will. It is the inerrant Word of God, and if we use the instructions and directions it gives, we are going to better glorify God in our lives and marriages.
So, here we go! Let us thrive in our role as God-fearing wives and mothers!