Blog

Psalm 13
1 How long, Lord? Will you forget me forever?
How long will you hide your face from me?
2 How long must I wrestle with my thoughts
and day after day have sorrow in my heart?
How long will my enemy triumph over me?
3 Look on me and answer, Lord my God.
Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep in death,
4 and my enemy will say, “I have overcome him,”
and my foes will rejoice when I fall.
5 But I trust in your unfailing love;
my heart rejoices in your salvation.
6 I will sing the Lord’s praise,
for he has been good to me.

 

Romans 7:24-25

What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!

This week, these two passages have been teaching me something very important about faith in Christ: We can’t wait for our circumstances or our “feelings” to change so that we can praise the Lord and trust in His power.

Last week contained a particularly challenging day for no particular reason, and it was really hard to feel God in those strange moments. The next day, I had a wonderful, uplifting conversation with a friend, and one thing that we talked about was the verse in Romans 7. We talked about how Paul deeply felt his sin and his despair, but immediately acknowledged hope and praise in the Lord. He knew he was unworthy, but also knew that his deliverance is through Christ! And he didn’t hesitate getting from the “I’m terrible” to the “Thank you God for being great!” To imitate Paul (he talks throughout many of his letters about imitating him) means to see our sins but to see Jesus as greater than our sins AND praise Him.

Often times, I wait to praise God until I feel “ready”, either emotionally ready or ready based on my circumstances. I think many people don’t go to church, read their bibles, or pray when they don’t “feel” like doing it, and don’t worry, I get caught in this trap frequently, especially with regards to reading my bible. We don’t praise God or give thanks in the midst of hard times or bad moods because we aren’t “feeling” the positive energy. And yet, Paul didn’t say “and then I felt Jesus’s power and felt like praising him, so I say…”. No, he just does it.

Paul also tells us in 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 “Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” He doesn’t give any qualifiers there about the mood we should be in when we rejoice, pray, and praise God. We should be doing these things always, but it isn’t saying we should always be in the perfect mood for it! Instead, we should be doing it always, regardless of our mood or how we feel in the moment.

[I also want to add the excuse of “I’m not feeling God right now”, because I think it is in the same camp sometimes. I think it’s very easy to not pray or stop praying because our prayers aren’t helping us “feel” the Lord. But just because we don’t FEEL God’s presence doesn’t mean He isn’t with us; He promises throughout scripture that he is with us always, and that means when we feel him or not. See a quote from The Screwtape Letters at the end].

Early this week, I was reading through some of the Psalms, and I read through the short Psalm 13, and I realized the Psalmist (David) has the same attitude as Paul. David sounds like he is not feeling God’s comfort, he is distressed about what is happening in his life, and he wants to hear an answer from God. But the Psalm doesn’t have a verse that says “Then David heard God and he praised him…” or “But David felt up to…” or anything like that. No, David praised God regardless of what he was feeling. He acknowledged his salvation was from the Lord and he praised God for his goodness and unfailing love, even when it was difficult to do so in his situation.

I want to be the kind of person who turns right to trusting God in every circumstances, especially when turning to God, praying, and thanking Him is the last thing that I feel like doing. I want to be like Paul, David, and so many others who didn’t wait for their circumstances to change to praise God and trust Him. I’m thanking God now for His goodness (in the relatively easy moments), and I pray that I can always and constantly be rejoicing in Him in EVERY situation.

 

 

 

*The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis is a collection of letters from one of Satan’s men to another to coach the younger devil (his nephew) into being more effective at keeping people from God, who is referred to as the Enemy in the letters. This is what he tells his nephew about prayer. (This is the whole book online for free, if you are interested: http://www.truechristianity.info/en/the_screwtape_letters.php)

The best thing, where it is possible, is to keep the patient from the serious intention of praying altogether. When the patient is an adult recently re-converted to the Enemy’s party, like your man, this is best done by encouraging him to remember, or to think he remembers, the parrot-like nature of his prayers in childhood. In reaction against that, he may be persuaded to aim at something entirely spontaneous, inward, informal, and unregularised; and what this will actually mean to a beginner will be an effort to produce in himself a vaguely devotional mood in which real concentration of will and intelligence have no part. One of their poets, Coleridge, has recorded that he did not pray “with moving lips and bended knees” but merely “composed his spirit to love” and indulged “a sense of supplication”. That is exactly the sort of prayer we want; and since it bears a superficial resemblance to the prayer of silence as practised by those who are very far advanced in the Enemy’s service, clever and lazy patients can be taken in by it for quite a long time. At the very least, they can be persuaded that the bodily position makes no difference to their prayers; for they constantly forget, what you must always remember, that they are animals and that whatever their bodies do affects their souls. It is funny how mortals always picture us as putting things into their minds: in reality our best work is done by keeping things out.

If this fails, you must fall back on a subtler misdirection of his intention. Whenever they are attending to the Enemy Himself we are defeated, but there are ways of preventing them from doing so. The simplest is to turn their gaze away from Him towards themselves. Keep them watching their own minds and trying to produce feelings there by the action of their own wills. When they meant to ask Him for charity, let them, instead, start trying to manufacture charitable feelings for themselves and not notice that this is what they are doing. When they meant to pray for courage, let them really be trying to feel brave. When they say they are praying for forgiveness, let them be trying to feel forgiven. Teach them to estimate the value of each prayer by their success in producing the desired feeling; and never let them suspect how much success or failure of that kind depends on whether they are well or ill, fresh or tired, at the moment.

 

Advertisements

How I am failing as a husband.

Because you are all such good friends and have been reading along with this blog for a while now, I am going to share something that might be surprising: I am not perfect.

Okay, so hopefully that wasn’t too surprising.  I am only human and I try not to hide my faults.  If it was surprising, talk to Amanda and she will tell you about the broccoli, and that was only one of my many mistakes.

The mistakes that hit me the hardest are when I realize when I am not obeying God’s commands.  This isn’t just important to me, it is important to God (1 John 5:2-3).

We are called to pray without ceasing, and as husbands, we are called to pray for our wives, and with our wives.  Both are important, but different ways that we are called to love our wives.

I love Amanda by trusting God can and will care for her, whether I can or not.  If I believe that God is who I say He is, the most loving thing I can do for Amanda is to pray that God will provide, strengthen, and encourage her.

Alternatively, praying with her demonstrates my love for her by relieving the pressure and strain that I could put on her and our relationship.  When we pray together, we are agreeing that it is not the responsibility of either of us to make the other happy.  It is not ultimately our responsibility to make each others lives flow smoothly or be God-like.  The holy spirit changes us, and while he can use us as tools in the life of your spouse, it is not our work.  By relying on God to provide eternal joy and not each other, we can stop stressing about being perfect, stop worrying about upsetting your spouse, stop draining ourselves by slaving away so your wife doesn’t have to and start serving them out of the overflowing joy that we find in Jesus.  By praying together, we help to establish God as the priority in the relationship, and not ourselves or our spouse.

I am failing to pray with my wife.  I pray for her regularly, but when it comes to actually praying together, I chicken out.  I fail to provide this opportunity for us to remind ourselves to frame our relationship in light of Christ.  It is hard for me to walk in this.

Which one are you missing? Praying for her?  Praying with her?  Perhaps both?  I encourage you to start praying for and with your spouse and we will see together how it changes our attitudes, relationships, and marriages.

Have you seen God at work through prayer in your marriage?  Feel free to encourage us all by leaving a comment here.

 

God Provides. Do you forget too?

I’ve been chewing on my post about biblical womanhood for a while, and I haven’t been able to get my thoughts just right yet (hence my few weeks of a hiatus). For now, I want to remind you of something that I forget all too often: God Provides. He provides so much for us, and He comes through ALL THE TIME. Sometimes, it takes the big stuff to remind me of this simple fact, and then I remember how He has provided over and over in other ways!

If you haven’t realized yet, Dan and I are going to El Salvador in two short weeks for a missions trip (check out our posts about the trip!). We needed $4000 to go on the trip, and we were not going to be able to put any of our own money into the trip… I was very hesitant about committing to going, so before I jumped in with two feet, I prayed very specifically. My prayer went something like this: Lord, this trip scares me a lot but it seems like you might be wanting us to go. I gotta trust YOU to provide these funds and show us that we are supposed to be going. Help me trust you through this process. Help me feel your hand guiding us to El Salvador. Amen. And then we committed to going. During our preparations, I kept throwing prayers of trust at the Lord, especially when I was overwhelmed by raising support (it’s quite time consuming!).

Actually, it is a huge blessing that I did keep praying throughout the preparation process, but it can be so easy to try to trust in myself instead of constantly trusting God. I obviously had moments where I was less than good at trusting God, but overall, I really relied on Him, prayed often and specifically, and did not let this trip become about what I could do.

I’ll be honest, 3 weeks ago, we had about $1000 in our account. Then one Sunday, we learned we would receive a $1000 grant and that Dan’s church was sending us $1000 from a love offering. Today, we learned that we have $3250 in our account. We still have 2 weeks to raise the rest of the funds, and so we are still praying and reaching out to people, but we are SO much closer than we were and I KNOW that the Lord will provide the rest of the funds too.

I forget that God will provide. I am getting better at remembering to pray for His provision, but I forget that He does come through. The only positive in this is that I get super excited when I see His work! But I think I am missing a part of the trusting part: believing that He will provide. I always will say that He provides, but do I (or you) really believe deep down that He will be providing what you need?

Matthew 6 holds a pretty common passage about how God provides:

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life? And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” – Matthew 6:25-34 

Jesus is reminding people that God provides for birds and flowers, and that since we are so much more valuable than flowers, that we should feel confident that He will surely provide for us! His answer is to seek God and know that we will have what we need, and to not worry about it, but simply trust.

As a hard-core worrier, this kind of stuff really convicts me and challenges me to live a different kind of life. But I know that true trust in the One who has made ALL things is the best way to live, and so I am actively praying, reading, and trying to trust with all my heart in HIM. And guess what? He does show me His consistent provision, in both the big (El Salvador!!!) and little ways* 🙂

 

*I wanted to provide some examples of the little things He provided me with in the last week:

  • several days of really great sessions with my clients
  • not having to leave the house on a rainy Saturday
  • having 2 midterms that were not that bad
  • getting out of a 3 hr class early because all we had to do was take our midterm
  • enjoying a dinner with friends
  • having an adorable cuddle-puppy
  • seeing family on a spontaneous trip
  • having time to get work done
  • and I could really keep going 🙂

Time Together

I have been working at my new job for a few weeks now.  Everything is alright there but it is not without its sacrifices.  Because Amanda and I are both working extended hours and are not home at the same time very often, we do not get to spend much quality time together.   Even when we do have a little time at night, the time is usually spent preparing for the next day, cleaning the house, or something else that seems like it needs to get done.

By the time the weekend comes it is not uncommon to be craving spending time together.  This may look like going to the grocery store together, watching netflix, or even sitting together doing our work.

On my drive in to work this morning I was pondering why we don’t treat God this way?  I mean, we* are pretty good at the first part, filling our schedules so that we have little time to spend with Him, but do not crave that time when it does become available.  In fact the times that I do find myself craving time with God are few and far between, and it takes a lot more than a long week of work to make me crave Him.

I think that in my case this is likely because of the way that I am tempted to see spending time with God.  If you look at my to-do list or at my calendar you might see “read bible” or “devotionals” or some other code-word for “spend time with God at this time of the day.”  If I only spent time with Amanda when it was in my schedule, I doubt that she would be satisfied with what this says about my priorities and God deserves even more.  God is relational, and our relationship with him should be (and often isn’t) on the top of our priority lists.

In the coming weeks, I hope to expound on this topic a little bit more because it has been something that has really affected my walk with Christ and my marriage.  I will have other posts interspersed, but I want to spend some time diving deeper into what God has to say and the practical implications of treating Him relationally as opposed to treating him like a task to accomplish and giving that relationship the highest priority, end long run-on sentence.

As always, I encourage you to be part of the conversation by commenting below and sharing your thoughts.

 

 

*When I say “we” I mean here people, in general, but mostly me.

 

Ready to go!

We are ready to launch! For the past several months, Dan and I have been saying that we are going to start a blog together! There is no better time than right now!

Through this blog, we will have weekly posts from both of us (I’ll be posting on Mondays), and we will have a space to share life updates with friends, family, and strangers. Why are we doing this? Well, we feel like the Lord has been working amazing works in our lives, and we hope that by sharing them, more people can know and love Him!

I’m ready for this challenge of blog writing. I’ve never been very good at sticking with it, but I’m not going to quit. Writing is good for my soul, and I want to be challenged to articulate my thoughts so that what is happening in my heart and life can benefit others. Be prepared to have a lot of rambles and almost-too-long posts from me because that is how I work. I write out a thought, and then re-write it to make sure I’m saying what I want to say! But I will do my best to be concise 🙂

I’m ready to be accountable. I’ll share more about this in my first post, but basically, I need to know that someone is going to be checking in to see where my heart is, and because of that, I need to be taking care of my heart. I need to be saturating myself in the Word. I need to be praying fervently. And I need to be listening to Him throughout all of this. I’m ready.

Thank you for following us. Thank you for praying for us. And thank you for joining us along our journey to know and love our Creator more deeply each day.