Archives for July 2012

A Blogging Break

Well friends, July is nearly over, which means that the deadline for me to have my Fall study to the printer is FAST approaching. In a perfect world, I would be entering the copy editing phase of the writing process, but to my dismay I don’t live in a perfect world. Hence, I still have six chapters of 1 Corinthians to research and write about. [Deep, anguished sigh.] It’s looking pretty doubtful that a thorough “copy editing phase” will ever happen. So, this study is bound to blow your mind with all sorts of interesting grammar and spelling no-no’s. I like to call it “keepin’ it real.” 🙂

All that to say, I am basically falling off the face of the earth for the next few weeks. Other than the final Romans video that I will post next week and perhaps another excerpt or two from the study, I won’t be blogging.  I WILL, however, continue to post links, quotes, and other resources to encourage you to “marinate” in God’s Word on my Facebook page.  So, if you haven’t “liked” it yet, you should! (Facebook dot com/ marinateblog)

One last thing – will you pray for me? The task before me is way bigger than I have the time or energy to handle.  It’s definitely requiring me to flex those faith muscles and trust that God will indeed supply my every need. But I get anxious. I get tired. Sometimes I really doubt whether or not I’m actually going to finish on time, which often leads to a major “freak out moment” that usually invloves a tear or two. (My poor, poor husband.) I would be deeply grateful for your intercession on my behalf. DEEPLY grateful!

I’m REALLY looking forward to sharing the final product of this study with you. I will be posting some more details and a promotional video soon, so be on the lookout.

Until we meet again . . . keep marinating!!!

Marinate Blog Summer Study: Week 6

Interesting day. I was was going to drop Shep off at school, record the video, and spend the rest of the morning studying. It was going to be a fabulous, productive a.m. complete with coffee and the oh-so-wonderful sound of complete silence.

About 15 minutes into this video, my camera went dead. While I was charging it (and very frustrated with myself for not checking the battery BEFORE I started), I got a text from my hair stylist that said “running late.” Yep, that’s right – I had a hair appointment that I totally forgot to put on my calendar. So, off I went to get my cut and color which took my entire morning. When I picked up Shep at noon, there was still no video, but I did manage to acquire a massive headache. I put him down for a nap and finally managed to finish recording the video, do some editing, “produce” the file, and begin the upload process. . . with a little time left over to squeeze in a tiny nap that did wonders for the intense pounding going on inside this head of mine. Gotta love it when a day has a mind of it’s own. I suppose I should be a little more diligent about building margins into my life. But where’s the fun in that? 🙂

It’s hard to believe we only have one session left after this one. I have really enjoyed doing this study with you! As always, if you have a minute, I’d love to hear how the Lord spoke to your heart through this session.

Surrender, sacrifice, separation, saturation, service!

Where to “Marinate” When Your Marriage Gets Messy

I’ve read a lot of marriage books. I’ve been to a lot of marriage seminars. I’ve heard a lot of sermons about marriage.

I know how important it is to understand and seek to meet the needs of my husband. I am well aware of his love language and try to be intentional about “speaking” it (though I probably fail more times than I succeed). I try hard to make our home a refuge for him, be an encourager to him, and hit up Victoria’s Secret from time to time. I cook. I clean. I pay bills. I make sure our three year old doesn’t kill himself (among many other motherly duties). I calendar regular date nights. I work out, take care of myself, and try not to wear my comfy pajamas ALL the time (at least not any with holes or that I purchased last decade).

All that stuff is important. It really is.

But the longer I am married, the more convinced I am that a great marriage has a lot less to do with meeting needs and a lot more to do with forgiving faults; it has a lot less to do with filling love tanks and a lot more to do with emptying myself of pride.

When my marriage is struggling; when I am caught in the comparison game (“if only my marriage were more like so-and-so’s”); when my husband and I are like two ships passing in the night; when I’m flat-out ticked off that MY love language isn’t being spoken . . .

When I’m hurt; when I’m misunderstood; when I have no desire whatsoever to apologize or to overlook an offense; when  I’m tempted to turn into the “ice queen” and shut him out until he’s ready to “get with the program” (the program = whatever makes me happy) . . .

When the pressure cooker of busy schedules and sheer exhaustion produces an eruption of unchecked, unbridled emotion and things get really ugly . . .

When the plank in my own eye is all but lost on my pride-impaired vision and my own self-righteousness blinds me to how amazing my husband actually is . . .

There is one place I always go.

One passage of Scripture I always turn to.

One parable that never ceases to place the messy parts of my marriage – and my heart – at the foot of the cross and remind me that nothing, and I mean NOTHING my husband ever does (perceived or actual) even comes close to the horrifying mountain of offenses from which I have been graciously pardoned.

It’s the parable of the unforgiving servant recorded in Matthew 18:21-35. Here are a few facts you should know before you dive in:

  • Ten thousand talents (v. 24) = about 20 years wages for a common laborer
  • A hundred denarii  (v.28) = 100 days wages for a common laborer (pocket change in comparison to ten thousand talents)
  • The extreme difference is intentional!

21 Then Peter came and said to Him, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me and I forgive him? Up to seven times?” 22 Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven. 23 “For this reason the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who wished to settle accounts with his slaves. 24 “When he had begun to settle them, one who owed him ten thousand talents was brought to him. 25 “But since he did not have the means to repay, his lord commanded him to be sold, along with his wife and children and all that he had, and repayment to be made. 26 “So the slave fell to the ground and prostrated himself before him, saying, “Have patience with me and I will repay you everything.’ 27 “And the lord of that slave felt compassion and released him and forgave him the debt. 28 “But that slave went out and found one of his fellow slaves who owed him a hundred denarii; and he seized him and began to choke him, saying, “Pay back what you owe.’ 29 “So his fellow slave fell to the ground and began to plead with him, saying, “Have patience with me and I will repay you.’ 30 “But he was unwilling and went and threw him in prison until he should pay back what was owed. 31 “So when his fellow slaves saw what had happened, they were deeply grieved and came and reported to their lord all that had happened. 32 “Then summoning him, his lord said to him, “You wicked slave, I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me. 33 “Should you not also have had mercy on your fellow slave, in the same way that I had mercy on you?’ 34 “And his lord, moved with anger, handed him over to the torturers until he should repay all that was owed him. 35 “My heavenly Father will also do the same to you, if each of you does not forgive his brother from your heart.”

This parable does for my marriage what no love language, lingerie, late night talk, or lavish date night can do. It confronts me with the one thing that has the power to transform my selfish heart. It confronts me with the gospel.

It turns whatever arrows I am pointing at my husband back on me.  It suffocates my self-righteousness and revives my desire to show grace . . .

. . . to forgive.

. . . to have mercy.

. . . to love.

. . . to really, truly love . . . as Christ loved me.

And, yes, I believe it can do the same thing for you.

So, when your husband doesn’t come home in time for dinner (again), when he prioritizes work over family, when he says something really stupid, when he makes a foolish purchase, when he comes home after having a few too many beers, when he “forgets” to help around the house or with the kids, when his hobby becomes way too important, when you catch him looking at porn, when he falls way short of your expectations . . .

Whenever he fails, however he fails, whatever he fails at doing . . .

Dare to linger in Matthew 18:21-35.

Dare to compare his offenses with the massive debt you’ve been forgiven.

Dare to compare your attitude toward him with the attitude of Jesus toward you.

Dare to allow God’s Word to be a full-length mirror . . . and look. Really, really look at what it reflects back to you.

Expose your heart – and your marriage – to gospel realities and refuse to walk away unchanged.

Don’t ignore what needs to be addressed. Don’t sweep sin under the rug. Don’t be naïve to the importance of confronting marriage problems head on.

But whatever you do, do it as a woman who’s been forgiven ten thousand talents.

When you don’t feel like it, when he doesn’t deserve it, and when you know it’s not going to make a whole lot of difference in the short run, choose hear your Savior say: “Should you not also have mercy on your [husband], in the same way that I had mercy on you?”

Then, choose grace.

Choose to forgive “just as God in Christ also has forgiven you” (Eph. 4:32).

 

 

 

 

Marinate Blog Summer Study: Bonus Video

If you are viewing this via email, you will need to click on the title to see the video.

Hello there! I am typing this from the lovely Daytona Beach where my family is enjoying a week full of eating and doing nothing – my two favorite things! 🙂

I don’t have  a Romans video for you this week, but I do have something I would love for you to watch instead. It’s a message by Nancy Guthrie entitled “Word Based Ministry to Women.” It doesn’t directly related to our Romans study, but it does lay out why Bible study is so important and how God’s Word transforms us from the inside out. I’ve never heard a message that more clearly expresses why I am so passionate about helping women like you live Bible-saturated lives. I think you’ll really enjoy it and it might be just what you need to motivate you to finish our study strong. If you get around to watching it, I’d love to know what you think.

Next week we’ll be back in Romans, so keep working through that workbook!

 

Whatever You Do . . . {Another 1 Corinthians Sneak Peek}

I have officially crossed the half-way marker in my writing for the Fall study I will be teaching on the book of First Corinthians. Thank you so much for those of you who are praying me through! Needless to say, blogging has taken more of a back seat than usual, so I thought I’d post another excerpt from the study. The verse being applied here is 1 Corinthians 10:31:

“Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.”

For several years after I graduated high school I served in my church’s youth ministry, the highlight of which was getting to enjoy the retreats and camps right along with the students. One year our youth pastor brought in a retreat speaker who told our students (and I quote), “Have all the sex you want to the glory of God.” The second the words came out of his mouth, the middle school students giggled while the high school students sat wide-eyed and speechless. All I could think of in that moment was the damage control I was going to have to do as a leader of girls who were sure to ask a thousand questions about that statement.

Fortunately, the speaker followed his provocative declaration with really solid teaching. His point was that for an unmarried person, “having all the sex you want for the glory of God” means having no sex at all. God’s commands are a reflection of Himself. Because of that, a person absolutely cannot break God’s law by having sex outside of marriage and glorify Him at the same time. A body engaging in sin cannot be a body reflecting God’s image as He intended. That’s why sin of any kind is so detestable in the eyes of a God whose very purpose in creating us was His own glory. He desires for even the most mundane tasks like eating and drinking to point to Him and reflect His worth. All of life is worship, or at least it should be.

So, in light of 1 Corinthians 10:31,  I would like to take what that retreat speaker said to our students and rephrase it in a few ways that may strike a chord with adult Christian women:

  • Yell and scream at your kids to the glory of God.
  • Spend obsessive amounts of time at the gym to the glory of God.
  • Tell a dirty and/or racist joke to the glory of God.
  • Compromise your sacred marriage covenant to the glory of God.
  • Shack up with that guy to the glory of God.
  • Make alcohol a central part of your social life to the glory of God.
  • Routinely choose sports, recreation, entertainment, and home improvement over church to the glory of God.
  • Read pornographic novels – all “shades” of them –  to the glory of God.
  • Go see Magic Mike (or any other blatantly inappropriate movie) to the glory of God.
  • Watch sitcom characters dialogue about their private parts to the glory of God.
  • Listen to Katy Perry sing about kissing a girl and liking it to the glory of God.
  • Flaunt your boobs and other body parts to the glory of God.
  • Gossip, belittle, and criticize others to the glory of God.
  • Ignore your family and your home so that you can pin, tweet, or update your status to the glory of God.
  • Refuse to forgive and hold that grudge to the glory of God.

Don’t these sound utterly ridiculous? Each and every point is an absolute impossibility. And yet aren’t we constantly fooling ourselves into thinking we can dabble in sin and still live God-glorifying lives? Or that we can sing “Holy, Holy, Holy” on Sunday and seek to defy God’s authority by doing our own thing the rest of the week? If God cares about our eating and drinking, then He most definitely cares about the subtle immorality we carelessly putter around in. “Whatever you do” means “WHATEVER you do.” No exceptions.

Sadly, the life of the typical Christian in America reflects God’s glory about as well as a carnival mirror. Interestingly, we get all worked up when unbelievers don’t take God seriously. But do we? Do we take Him seriously? All too often, the answer is “no.” And rarely do we have to look further than our media preferences to prove it.

I hope you don’t feel like the morality police just rolled into town. The point of all this is not that we would be good boys and girls obeying all the rules and retreating from society as much as possible. The point is that we would start to see our lives as platforms for God to show off His glory; as stages upon which He can display His majesty; as channels through which He can broadcast His goodness and grace to a world so desperate to see that the gospel really does make a difference. When I started seeing my life that way, obedience became an honor instead of burden. Holiness became a source of tremendous happiness instead of an exhausting duty. My life became a beautiful story of redemption instead of boring record of a church girl who tried her best to be good. Even the mundane started to have meaning. Seeing my life as a platform for God’s glory changed everything for me. With all my heart, I desire the same for you.

There is perhaps no command that, when heeded, has more potential to transform the church of Jesus Christ than 1 Corinthians 10:31. The health and influence of the Church throughout the ages has always depended on a passion for the glory of God, an insistence on worship as a lifestyle, and a radical commitment to live all of life coram Deo – before the face of God.

And that will never, ever change.

Have mercy on us, O Lord . . .

 

 

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