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How Can I Seriously Count Painful Times As Joy?

I was planning to write this post a few hours before my father-in-law suddenly died August 4th. It is the sequel to my post from last week about Is Real Joy Possible for Me?  I am honored to share these precious spiritual treasures with you – as it so happens – from the midst of a significant trial in my own life.

We live in a fallen world and we all face many kinds of trials in our lives. None of us are exempt. I may not have much control over what trials come my way. But I do have control over my response and attitude.

I am so excited to share some amazing truths with you – truths that will radically change your life and perspective if you are willing to embrace them.

JOY IS MY CHOICE IN TIMES OF TRIAL

I can choose to depend on God’s wisdom, His strength, His sovereignty, His power, His goodness, His love, and His vision. I can choose to trust Him and His Word. I can willingly yield to His Lordship and let Him lead me.

This takes the power of the Holy Spirit. It takes close fellowship with God. It takes practice. It is a discipline we can learn as believers with God’s help. I can begin to see hard times as spiritual tests and opportunities for growth.

When I face difficulties, the Holy Spirit empowers me (if I belong to Christ) to choose to respond in:

  • Faith
    • I don’t know the answers, but I trust that God knows what to do and that He will lead me through this. (Isa. 30:21, Ps. 23)
    • I don’t have the wisdom to solve this dilemma, but I trust that God has wisdom and power in this situation. (Isa. 40:28)
    • I know God is sovereign, good, and loving even now and even over this. (Jer. 29:11-13)
  • Joy
    • I know that God promises to use this specific trial to help me grow in my faith and in spiritual maturity, and that brings me great joy. (James 1:2-4)
    • Jesus invites me to ask for things I genuinely need – according to His will – and to receive from God, that my joy might be full. (John 16:24)
    • A joyful heart is good medicine. (Prov. 17:22)
    • God calls me to rejoice in Him at all times. (Phil. 4:4)
    • I have so many reasons for joy in Christ, even in the midst of my trials (the following is excerpted from www.gotquestions.org).
      • The joy of my salvation.
      • The joy of anticipating God’s deliverance.
      • The joy of God’s presence.
      • The joy of spiritual maturity.
  • Anticipation
    • I can’t wait to see how God will use this awful situation to create something beautiful and good in my life and bring glory to Himself!
    • I want to go much deeper with the Lord! (Eph. 1:15-23)
    • God wants to use hardships to help conform me to the image of Christ Jesus. (Rom. 8:29)
  • An Open Heart
    • What does God want me to learn and how does He want to help me to grow in this painful trial?
  • Spiritual Treasure Seeking
    • It is only in the dark caves where people can find diamonds, rubies, emeralds, and gems physically, it is similar spiritually. The greatest treasures are found in the darkest times, if we are willing to look.
    • I don’t want to miss any of the gifts He has for me here.
  • Prayer
    • Lord, I give this situation to You. You see all that I am going through and my suffering. I trust You are with me. I trust You are sovereign and good.
    • I invite Your provision!
    • How should I pray about this situation?
    • Not my will but Yours be done! (Luke 22:42)
    • Is there anyone I should ask to pray with me/for me about this?
    • What step do you want me to take next?
    • I only want to see Your greatest glory!
    • I want Your perfect will.
    • What miracles do You want to do here?
  • Peace
    • In the world, I will have tribulation. But Jesus promises to give me His peace. (John 16:33)
    • God will keep me in His perfect peace when I trust Him and my mind is focused on Him. (Isaiah 26:3)
    • I can lay all of my concerns, worries, and fears before God because He cares for me. (Phil. 4:6)
  • Assurance 
    • He is going to make a way for me to make it through this. (Isa. 43:16-19)
    • He is with me and He will never leave or forsake me. (Deut. 31:8)
  • Rest
    • Jesus invites me to come to Him when I am weary and He will give me rest for my soul. (Matt. 11:28-30)
  • Strength 
    • His grace is sufficient for me, for His power is made perfect in my weakness. (2 Cor. 12:9)
    • God promises I can do all that He calls me to do through the power of Christ in me. (Phil. 4:12-13)
    • The Lord is my strength and my song. (Ex. 15:2)
  • Thanksgiving
    • I can look for the blessings and provision of God in the midst of my trial. (1 Thess. 5:18)
    • I can give thanks to the Lord for He is good! (Ps. 107:1)
  • Focusing on Positive Things 
    • I can focus on the good things, the Philippians 4:8 things, because whatever I focus on tends to grow in my field of spiritual vision.
  • Receptivity to His promises
    • I learn about God’s promises theoretically as I read His Word. But it is during a crisis that I actually get to rest the weight of my life on God’s promises and experience them in reality.
    • I want to keep all of God’s promises in my heart and stand firmly on them and His Word.
  • Ministry
    • How does God want me to shine for Christ in the midst of this yucky situation? (Phil. 2:14-16, Matt. 5:13-16)
    • How might He want me to be an example, blessing, and witness to others? (1 Cor. 7:16, Acts 1:8)
    • How does God desire me to overcome evil with good here? (Rom. 12:17-21)
    • I can rest assured that God will use my pain – and the comfort He brings to me – to bring comfort, healing, salvation, and to strengthen the faith to others in the future when they hear about what He did for me and how I responded. (2 Cor. 1:6)

This doesn’t mean I won’t have feelings of sadness. I will! I am human, after all. I will have sadness and grief, at times. I will feel frustration and anger, at times. I will hurt. I will have emotions. It is important to feel my emotions and to identify them. But I don’t have to be a slave to my emotions. And I don’t have to be a slave to my circumstances.

Things may look hopeless from a human perspective…

Thankfully, I don’t have to see from a mere human perspective if I know Jesus!

THE BLESSINGS OF TRIALS

Scripture is full of encouragement about the spiritual benefits of our trials as followers of Christ. Here are a few of the blessings my trials can produce in my life as I trust God:

  • Lamentations 1
    • Suffering for sin may help me repent of sin and return to God if I have strayed.
    • God disciplines those who belong to Him for our good, so that we will turn from death and embrace His Life.
  • Matthew 5:10-11 and Acts 5:41
    • Suffering for my faith in Christ means I have been counted worthy to suffer in Jesus’ name.
    • I am blessed if I am insulted, punished, and/or persecuted for my faith in Jesus.
  • Romans 5:3-5
    • I can glory in my sufferings because of the good they will produce
      • perseverance
      • character
      • hope
  • James 1:2-4
    • As I trust God during suffering, He will use my trials to produce good things in me:
      • endurance
      • greater faith
      • greater spiritual maturity
      • spiritual completeness
      • I will lack nothing
  • Hebrews 12:4-12
    • I am to count hardships as discipline from God that will help me learn and grow. His discipline:
      • is verification of my adoption as a child of God
      • brings greater respect for God
      • yields peaceful fruit
      • brings about righteousness
      • is guaranteed to be for my benefit
      • allows me to share in God’s holiness

NOTE – “Counting trials as joy” does not mean that I need to try to create trials for myself, that I should be purposely combative or argumentative, or that I should try to prolong trials. It also doesn’t mean I must stay in a dangerous, abusive situation where I am being severely sinned against if I am able to get somewhere safe.  

SHARE

If you have experienced God’s supernatural joy and/or blessings in the midst of a difficult trial, or you have learned something helpful about how to “count it all joy when you face trials of many kinds,” we’d love to hear about it! I’m so thankful we can walk this road together and encourage one another.

RESOURCES

Verses about trials – Open Bible

Verses about God’s wisdom – Open Bible

A list of all of God’s promises – Bible Gateway

Verses about peace – Open Bible

Verses about suffering as a believer – Open Bible

Verses about being persecuted and hated for faith in Christ – Open Bible

Verses about God’s Sovereignty – Open Bible

Verses about finding God’s direction – Open Bible

Verses about strength – Open Bible

“The Peaceful Mom – Building a Healthy Foundation with Christ As Lord” has one chapter on counting trials as joy and one chapter on having an eternal perspective. Most of the chapters in the book would be a blessing to all women, not just moms.

Is Real Joy Possible for Me?

Photo by Allef Vinicius on Unsplash

 

This is the post I wrote just an hour before Greg’s dad suddenly passed away last Saturday. The next one I plan to write is about counting trials as joy, which I had also planned to write before the trial we are currently facing began. I’m so excited to share the wonderful blessing of the joy of the Lord with all of you. It is one of the most precious gifts of God. When we know the Lord, we get to experience and participate in His amazing joy and contentment, even during the most difficult circumstances. 

Joy is something we all long to experience continually. But so few people possess it today. Even in the church. Dear sisters, this need not be! Each of us have access to more joy than we could possibly imagine in Jesus Christ!

DEFINING “JOY”

John Piper’s definition of joy:

  • Christian joy is a good feeling in the soul, produced by the Holy Spirit, as he causes us to see the beauty of Christ in the word and in the world.

www.gotquestions.org’s definition of joy:

  • The Greek word for joy is chara. Joy is the natural reaction to the work of God, whether promised or fulfilled.
  • Joy manifests in different ways:
    • the joy of deliverance
    • the joy of salvation
    • the joy of spiritual maturity
    • the joy of God’s presence
  • The Greek chara is closely related to charis, which means “grace” or “a gift.” Chara is the normal response to charis—we have joy because of God’s grace.
  • Possessing joy is a choice. We choose whether to value God’s presence, promises, and work in our lives. When we yield to the Spirit, He opens our eyes to God’s grace around us and fills us with joy (Romans 15:13).
  • Joy is not to be found in a fallen world; it is only fellowship with God that can make our joy complete (1 John 1:4).

Definition of joy – Bible dictionary

WHAT CAN DESTROY MY JOY?

For a believer in Christ, no one can take away our joy. The gifts and promises of God are secure for us in Jesus. The only way to lose my joy is to take my eyes off of Jesus, to slip from fellowship with Him (because of sin or neglect), to believe lies, and/or to look to other things/people for my joy, security, contentment, peace, and purpose.

Satan wants to steal my joy, and he will if I allow him to. He would love to get me to think I have to live in misery, defeat, sin, discouragement, worry, and fear. But reality is…

No one can steal the promises of God for me – unless I allow them to!

This joy is always available to me in my relationship with the Living God and Creator of the universe. It is not dependent on my circumstances or on other people.

  • The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. John 10:10
  • So also you have sorrow now, but I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you. John 16:22

ATTAINING JOY

Joy comes only when I turn away from everything that is spiritually toxic and my heart is fully yielded to the Lordship of Jesus. Then I have fellowship with God – emotional and spiritual connection, oneness, and intimacy.

Joy is intrinsic to the character and presence of God. He is the source of all true joy. Joy, in and of itself, is not to be my primary goal. It is an inevitable result when I am in close fellowship with the Lord. Joy is a byproduct, like all of the fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22-23).  Interestingly, joy is also a command for us as believers.

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. Phil. 4:4

God’s joy is always available to me – as much as He is always available to me. Many of us live in despair, hopelessness, and spiritual oppression today. But that is not God’s provision for us! We often live like we are beggars, searching desperately for crumbs. But if we belong to Christ, we are children of the Most High God and joint heirs with Jesus. All that He possesses belongs to us. We are already seated with Him in the heavenlies! And we will reign with Him for eternity.

WHAT REASONS DO I HAVE FOR JOY RIGHT NOW?

Here are just a few reasons I can have joy in any circumstances:

  • Jesus’ death conquered and paid for my sin debt in full! I have the ability to be in right-standing with God! (1 Cor. 15:55-57)
  • There is no longer any condemnation for me, if I am in Jesus! (Rom. 8:1)
  • His resurrection is mine – with the power to live today in holiness and the power to rise from death and experience eternal life! (John 11:25, Rom. 8:11)
  • I have God’s Word – and it is Life and Light. (Matt. 4:4, Ps. 119:105)
  • I have access to the very Holy of holies in heaven through Jesus! (Heb. 10:19)
  • His promises are all mine to claim, to stand on, and to delight in. (Phil. 4:19, 2 Cor. 1:20)
  • His Spirit is mine. (1 Cor. 6:19)
  • His fellowship is mine. (1 John 1:3)
  • His love is mine. Nothing can separate me from the Love of God in Christ Jesus if I belong to Him! (Rom. 8:38-39)
  • God will never leave me or forsake me. (Deut. 31:8)
  • God uses everything that happens in our lives for our ultimate good (if we are believers) and His ultimate glory. (Rom. 8:28-29)
  • God is sovereign over my life, my family, and the nations. (Ps. 103:19)
  • He is love. (1 John 4:8)
  • His wisdom is infinitely higher than my own. (Isaiah 40:28)
  • God is good. (Ps. 34:8)
  • My identity is in Christ Jesus alone. (Gal. 2:20)
  • My security is in Christ Jesus alone. (Eph. 1:13-14)
  • In Christ, all my fears melt away. He does not give me a spirit of fear, but a Spirit of love, power, and a sound mind. (1 Tim. 1:7)
  • He has given me so many reasons to sing praises to Him. (Ps. 100:1-2)
  • He gives me victory over sinful thoughts, words, and actions as I let His Spirit work powerfully in me. (Rom. 8:13)
  • He has done great things for me and I am extremely thankful to Him! (1 Thess. 5:18)
  • If I am on God’s side, He will fight for me and the enemy will not be able to have victory over me. (1 John 4:4, Ex. 14:14)
  • I don’t have to be afraid of all of the chaos going on in the world, God has given us information about what must take place before the rapture and Great Tribulation. I can stand on His Word. (1 Thess. 4:17, Rev. 13)
  • Heaven is guaranteed for me if I belong to Jesus. I don’t have to face death with fear. (John 3:16, 1 Cor. 2:9)

God has blessed me with countless blessings throughout my life: Jesus, salvation, the Bible, prayer, the Holy Spirit, my birth family, my husband, my children, air to breathe, food to eat, water to drink, a job, a roof over my head, a country where I am free, a church family, friends, health, electricity, the internet, talents, abilities, etc…

If these reasons for joy don’t get you excited, it’s time to check your spiritual pulse!

The joy of the Lord is your strength. Neh. 8:10

SHARE

What has God shown you about joy? We’d love to hear about it!

RESOURCES

Verses about joy

Verses about the promises of God

Is There a Difference between Joy and Happiness? by www.gotquestions.org

What Is Joy? by www.gotquestions.org

How Do You Define Joy? by John Piper

How to Have a Relationship with Christ 

How to Stay Filled with the Holy Spirit

 

6 Reasons NOT to Criticize Your In-Laws

Photo Credit – Flickr

Before we get into the issue of why not to criticize our in-laws, let’s define criticism.

When I am speaking about criticism in this post, I am talking about:

  • having a critical, judgmental, negative, condemning spirit toward others that cannot be pleased.
  • insulting other people.
  • fault-finding.
  • gossipping.
  • having a negative attitude.
  • looking down on others with a sense of spiritual superiority or self-righteousness.

The truth is that…

  • When someone criticizes a man’s parents, he often feels an instinctive loyalty to defend them, even though he knows they aren’t perfect and may even agree with the criticism.
  • When a man’s own wife criticizes his parents, she is (perhaps unknowingly) pitting herself against his family – and by extension – against him.

Of course, the same is true for us as women when someone criticizes our parents.

It can be tempting to have a critical spirit against people. I may feel completely justified to do this in my own mind. However, if I choose to dishonor, disrespect, insult, and/or criticize my husband’s parents, I need to understand the price I will pay.

  1. My husband will feel personally dishonored, disrespected, insulted, and criticized if I do these things to his parents, even if I don’t criticize them to anyone but to him. If I criticize or insult his parents to other people, he will feel even more hurt. He will likely feel like I have been disloyal to him, like I have committed a type of betrayal against his family.
  2. I will create a wall of emotional/spiritual division between myself and my husband.
  3. I will lose some of his trust.
  4. If I disrespect and criticize my husband’s parents in front of our children, I will hurt their relationship with their grandparents.
  5. Even if I just have a critical spirit about my in-laws (or anyone else) in my mind and don’t verbalize my thoughts to anyone else, this mindset will adversely impact my spiritual growth and walk with the Lord and my relationships with my husband and his parents.
  6. If I complain and have a negative attitude toward my in-laws (or anyone else), I hurt my witness for Jesus Christ.

Instead of focusing on the negative things, perhaps I can focus on something positive? The more I look for good things, the more I will probably find good things about my in-laws. When I practice thanking God for the blessings I see in others, the better my own frame of mind, and the more power I have from God to respond in His Spirit rather than in my sinful flesh. What if God wants to use the things that are so difficult to teach me something valuable and to help me find spiritual treasures? Perhaps, if I feel there is a trial with my in-laws, I can count that trial as joy (as James 1:2-4 says to do) and invite God to do His miracles in my own thinking and in my own approach. I can then also pray effectively for my in-laws, that God might richly bless them and heal any wounds they may have, as well.

The Bible has much godly wisdom about a critical spirit and how we are not justified to do this and how God calls us to change to be more like Himself by the power of His Spirit:

  • A fool gives full vent to his spirit, but a wise man quietly holds it back. Prov. 29:11
  • “Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you. Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.” Matt. 7:1-5
  • Do not speak evil against one another, brothers. The one who speaks against a brother or judges his brother, speaks evil against the law and judges the law. But if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge. There is only one lawgiver and judge, he who is able to save and to destroy. But who are you to judge your neighbor? James 4:11-12
  • Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted. Gal. 6:1
  • Who are you to pass judgment on the servant of another? It is before his own master that he stands or falls. And he will be upheld, for the Lord is able to make him stand. Rom. 14:4
  • And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, correcting his opponents with gentleness. 2 Tim. 2:24
  • Therefore you have no excuse, O man, every one of you who judges. For in passing judgment on another you condemn yourself, because you, the judge, practice the very same things. Rom. 2:1
  • Why do you pass judgment on your brother? Or you, why do you despise your brother? For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God; Rom. 14:10
  • If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 1 Cor. 13:1
  • 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. Eph. 4:29
  • Do all things without grumbling or questioning, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, Phil. 2:14-15

Are there times I need to respectfully share concerns with my husband about his family? Sure. There may be times I need to let my husband know that there is an important issue going on. But I can do that without condemning, bashing, insulting, attacking, criticizing, or disrespecting his parents.

Examples of a critical approach:

  • Babe, I don’t want your parents to watch our kids. Your mom is such a horrible grandmother. She lets them be around their vicious dog. I don’t think she cares if they get hurt.
  • Honey, do we have to go to your parents’ house this month? Their house is a total disaster. She is the worst housekeeper. My sinuses go completely crazy every time we go. It is torture for me to have to be there for even an hour.

Examples of a respectful approach:

  • Babe, I want your parents to get to have lots of time with our kids. I know they love them so much. I want them to have a close relationship. However, I don’t feel that our kids are safe around their dog. I have seen the dog growl at them and snap at the baby. What are your thoughts on that?
  • Honey, I know it is so important to you that we spend some time with your parents. I want us to have a great relationship with them. I do want to let you know that my allergies sometimes flare up a lot, I have noticed, when we are there. I think maybe it is a combination of the dust and perfume. I will take some medicine to try to prevent problems. Do you have any suggestions so that we can be with them but I might not have to have so many problems with allergies?

 

Lord,

Please help us to live holy lives in our thoughts, our motives, our words, and our actions. Purify us of all sin. Purify us of negativity, a critical, judgmental spirit. Cleanse us of any self-righteousness and pride. Help us to see our in-laws, our husbands, and everyone with Your eyes and Your love. Transform our thinking by the power of Your Spirit and Your Word. Help us to approach our in-laws and everyone else in ways that bring glory and honor to Your Name.

Amen!

NOTE:

In-law relationships can be some of the MOST difficult. Sometimes our own husbands have quite a bit of godly wisdom about how to handle their family wisely. If you need some outside help for a tough in-law situation, please check out the free counseling resources available at www.focusonthefamily.org. Or the counseling resources at www.biblicalcounseling.com. Or check with your pastor or a strong believer you trust for a referral to a solid, biblical counselor in your area. Be sure the counselor seeks to handle God’s Word correctly.

 

Most of all, check out what God’s Word has to say, seek the Lord’s wisdom, and the power of His Spirit so that you may respond in His goodness and overcome evil with good.

RELATED
What Does the Bible Say about Criticism? – by www.gotquestions.org

What Does the Bible Say about Complaining? – by www.gotquestions.org

What Does the Bible Say about Self-Righteousness? – by www.gotquestions.org

17 Tips to Ask for What You Desire Respectfully

 

 

 

“I Want to Tithe, but My Husband Doesn’t”

Photo by Fabian Blank on Unsplash

What is a wife to do if this is her difficult situation?

NOTE – I am speaking about a hypothetical situation here. Greg and I wholeheartedly endorse tithing or even giving more than a tithe for believers in Christ. Not because we have to – but because we GET to!

Let’s do a little overview of the concept of tithing just to get our bearings biblically.  (Don’t take my word for anything, please feel free to study the Bible yourself to confirm that what I am saying is correct.)

Tithing in the Old Testament:

Tithing was a requirement in the Old Testament Mosaic Law that provided money for God’s work and for His designated workers. The Levites were in charge of running the Temple and taking care of all of the sacrifices of the people. They had no land inheritance like the other 11 tribes did. They were given land on which to live, but it did not belong to them. Their lives were to be fully devoted to service to the Lord. So the people’s tithes supported the tribe of Levi. Also, Israel was a theocracy when it was established, so the Levites also fulfilled the function of a government. Everything that the entire nation needed for religious purposes and government purposes was accomplished through what God commanded the people to give in His law.

Tithing is not specifically required in the New Testament. We are no longer under the Mosaic Law.  The church is not Israel. We do not support the Levites, the animal sacrificial system, or the Temple. Jesus fulfilled all of the Old Testament Law and now, we are under Grace. So things are different in a lot of ways now because we are under the New Covenant rather than the Old Covenant. However, giving is mentioned in the New Testament – giving money to the work of the Lord, sharing with those who teach and instruct us in the faith, and giving to the poor is also mentioned.

Tithing in the New Testament – excerpt from www.gotquestions.org:

After the death of Jesus Christ fulfilled the Law, the New Testament nowhere commands, or even recommends, that Christians submit to a legalistic tithe system. The New Testament nowhere designates a percentage of income a person should set aside, but only says gifts should be “in keeping with income” (1 Corinthians 16:2). Some in the Christian church have taken the 10 percent figure from the Old Testament tithe and applied it as a “recommended minimum” for Christians in their giving.

The New Testament talks about the importance and benefits of giving. We are to give as we are able. Sometimes that means giving more than 10 percent; sometimes that may mean giving less. It all depends on the ability of the Christian and the needs of the body of Christ. Every Christian should diligently pray and seek God’s wisdom in the matter of participating in tithing and/or how much to give (James 1:5). Above all, all tithes and offerings should be given with pure motives and an attitude of worship to God and service to the body of Christ. “Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver” (2 Corinthians 9:7).

There are believers in Christ who give 20% of their income to the Lord’s work to support local churches, mission work, and charities. And there are even those who give 90% and live off of 10%. I think that is amazing! We are commanded to give as believers in Christ. It is not a command in the New Testament that we must give a specific percentage now. Rather, it is our joy, honor, and privilege to give generously and cheerfully out of thanksgiving for all that Jesus has done for us.

I wholeheartedly endorse giving to the Lord’s work! If you and your husband agree on 10%, that is awesome!

If you agree on some other amount, that is great! Giving, like just about everything else in the New Testament, is primarily a heart issue. The Lord blesses us in many ways as we give generously.

  • “Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” Luke 6:38

If My Husband Doesn’t Want to Tithe

First, I think it is important to take special note of 2 Corinthians 9:7.

“Each man should decide in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.”

If my husband doesn’t want to give as much as I do, I may consider giving “behind his back.” Or I might give with his knowledge, but knowing he is not in agreement. Unfortunately, attitudes like these are disrespectful toward my husband’s God-given leadership in our home and toward his free-will. They are also disrespectful toward the Lord. God is not going to bless my giving to His work if I am giving in a way that is dishonest or disrespectful to my husband or to God’s system of order. My attitude is important. And my husband’s attitude is important, too. God wants us both to willingly and voluntarily choose to give what we give. Both of us must be on board.

I can absolutely respectfully share what I want to give or that I would like to tithe:

  • Honey, I would really love to start tithing. What do you think?
  • I’ve been thinking that it would be amazing if we might give X% or $X amount to the church and/or Christian ministries each month.
  • It would mean so much to me if we could sponsor a child with a Christian charity.

In my understanding, the amount of money a Christian or Christian couple decides to give to the Lord and His work  is a matter of personal conviction. This means, I don’t get to accuse my husband of sinning if he doesn’t want to give 10% to church, if he calculates a tithe differently from how I would, or if he wants to give in a way that is different from my preference.

If I had a desire to tithe, but my husband did not, then I would want to let him just think about my respectful request and wait on God to work in his heart. Or if we were on the same page about tithing, but if I wanted to ask about giving more than we have been giving, I could share what I want to do and then give him some time to think about things.

Some husbands are fine with the wife tithing her own money. Some husbands have particular charities they trust and prefer to support. Some have valid reasons why they don’t want to give to certain ministries. There are all kinds of different arrangements that couples construct. The biggest thing is, I want to be sure to honor the Lord by respecting my husband’s decision and not run ahead. I don’t want to force him into giving against his will.

As I wait, I can pray:

Lord,

You know my heart to want to give so much more financially to Your church and to Your work. Please inspire my husband to want to give generously, too. Help us to be cheerful givers. I know he needs to make up his own mind and decide to give without me forcing or coercing him to. Help me to be patient and wait and to treat my husband with a godly, respectful, honoring attitude. And help me to see ways I can contribute to Your kingdom and share Your love while I wait on You to work in his heart on this issue. I trust You to work. I am not going to run ahead and try to force my way. I thank You and praise You for what You will do in this area for Your glory!

Amen.

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If you would like for me to consider anonymously sharing your story related to the issue of tithing and giving and how the Lord worked in your own marriage, I’d love to hear about it! Please send an 800-1000 word story to my Contact Page.

RELATED

Does a Christian Have to Tithe? – by The Billy Graham Evangelistic Association

Is My Husband Bound by My Personal Convictions?

My Husband Doesn’t Want Me to Minister Like I Want To

My Husband Isn’t Being a Good Enough Spiritual Leader

What If My Husband Doesn’t Lead? How Can I Encourage His Leadership?

Posts about Various Ways Different Couples Handle Finances

Eight Powerful Keys to Peace

Photo by Matt Artz on Unsplash

There is no doubt about it, being a woman, wife, and/or mom is tough today. With so many crazy things happening in our own families, relationships, jobs, and schedules – not to mention the complete insanity going on in the world – a peaceful heart may seem like an impossibility.

Yet, each of us has a built-in longing to live in perfect peace for ourselves. And we desperately desire peace in our families and for our precious children, too.

Eight Keys

Here are some critical keys that I have found on my own journey of discovery to become a peaceful wife and mom:

  1. Choose to allow Jesus alone, the Prince of Peace, to sit firmly on the throne of your heart. If anything/anyone else competes for His place there, you will not experience His peace. Peace is part of Jesus and His character. It is something we have because we have Him and we are close to Him. It can’t be separated from Him.
    • You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you. Isa. 26:3 ESV
    • “I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” John 16:33 ESV
  2. Carve out the time you need with God to praise Him, to thank Him, and to fellowship with Him. As you spend time soaking in His love, His Word, and in prayer -He radically transforms your mind and heart. He restores your soul. Receive the tender love of your Good Shepherd. This leads to great peace because you allow yourself to sit at His feet, to be with Him, to know Him, to be still before Him. You allow Him to care for you, protect you, love you, and provide for you in spiritual abundance. He is so very generous to those who come to Him in faith and trust.
    • He will tend his flock like a shepherd; he will gather the lambs in his arms; he will carry them in his bosom, and gently lead those that are with young. Isa. 40:11 ESV
    • Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. James 4:8 ESV
  3. Invite God to help you examine your fixed beliefs and thinking about Him, relationships, and yourself. As you allow Him to help you eliminate lies (big and small) and embrace His truth, He heals you spiritually in amazing ways. His truth truly sets you free. This leads to the ability to have peace with God, with your children, with others, and yourself.
    • “And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” John 8:32 ESV
    • Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” John 14:6 ESV
  4. Develop the discipline of taking your thoughts captive for Christ so that you can walk in the victory of Christ over negative emotions, tempting thoughts, and even crazy hormones. Then you can often avoid even starting down the mental and spiritual pathways that lead away from peace.
    • We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ, 2 Cor. 10:5 ESV
    • No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it. 1 Cor. 10:13 ESV
  5. Get rid of anything God labels as sin. Whether it is sexual impurity, porn use, sex outside of marriage, homosexuality, lust, bitterness, hatred, unforgiveness, gossip, pride, self-righteousness, dishonesty, stealing, false teaching, idolatry (putting anything above Christ in your heart – even marriage, a relationships, a boyfriend, beauty, money, children,  happiness, or a career), a cult, or an addiction – it all has to go. You can’t have peace and sin at the same time. It is impossible!
    • Now He commands all people everywhere to repent, Acts 17:30ESV
    • Bear fruit in keeping with repentance.Matt. 3:8 ESV
  6. Seek to treat others with respect and honor on your end, responding with the power of the Spirit rather than in destructive ways. When you set a godly example, you open the gates of heaven to pour the Lord’s Life, healing, and peace into your family and relationships
    • Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor. 1 Pet. 2:17 ESV
    • Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. Rom. 12:10 ESV
  7. Give up attempts to be responsible for/trying to control other people’s decisions. The ability to accept other people and their own God-given free will is such a gift! When I try to control things over which I don’t actually have control, it creates anxiety. A lot of anxiety. But if I focus on what God has given me control over – myself – and trust God with other people, this is a huge key to peace.
    • But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people. 2 Tim. 3:1-5  ESV
    • Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. James 4:7 ESV
  8. Forgive other people – wholeheartedly. Forgiveness may seem impossible in some situations, and it certainly is difficult. It requires the power of the Holy Spirit to help us. But unforgiveness, resentment, and bitterness are toxic. They lead to anxiety, hatred, contempt, and, eventually, even to violence, suicide, or murder if left unchecked long enough. Forgiveness releases you from poison. It allows you to have full fellowship with Jesus and sets you free to live in peace with others as far as it depends on you. (Forgiveness is not the same thing as trust. Trust has to be rebuilt when it was broken. Trust is conditional.)
    • Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you. Eph. 4:32 ESV
    • But if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses. Matt. 6:15 ESV

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What are some keys to peace you have found on this journey?

REMINDERS

My Mission and Vision 

My Commenting Policy

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES:

7 Keys to Finding Real Peace  – different keys from the ones in this post. 🙂

How to Stay Filled with the Holy Spirit

How to Have a Saving Relationship with Christ

What Is Respect in Marriage?

Respecting My Children?

Fear Fuels My Need to Control

The Peaceful Mom – Building a Healthy Foundation with Christ As Lord is a book for moms of any age. It’s an easy-to-read, step-by-step guide to help you discover the abundant spiritual life and divine peace that is available to you in Jesus. It gets into the meat behind these 8 keys, and much more. Honestly, it would be a blessing to any woman, even those who are not married and who don’t have children. But it is especially designed with moms in mind. The best part is, as you become a Peaceful Mom, you also learn to give the same tools to your children so that they can learn to live in God’s supernatural peace, too. There is no greater gift than that for our children!

 

“My Husband Thinks We Should Move!!!?!?”

Photo by Jamie Street on Unsplash

I love to take real-life situations and seek to approach them biblically. God has given us a LOT of instruction, help, and wisdom to use in times of conflict in our marriages and in almost any situation. As we learn to look to Him and His Word for biblical principles, and as we learn to depend on Him in faith and prayer – we can then learn to notice His promptings and leading in the details of our unique situations, as well.

Today, let’s picture a scenario where a husband* announces to his wife something like:

  • “My job is being relocated in two months to the office 2 hours away.”
  • “I found a better job opportunity out of state.”
  • “I think a move would be best for our family.”

A wife may be tempted to have a  knee-jerk reaction – like, “NO WAY!!!!!!”

Most of us don’t like change too much. It’s easy to immediately hate the idea and blast a husband with all the reasons this can’t possibly sane.

  • “Well, then, you need to get a job here. There is no way we are moving.”
  • “You can move and the kids and I will stay put. I’m not going to uproot them.”
  • “The kids are settled in their school and they have friends here.”
  • “I love this neighborhood and this house. I’m not giving it up!”
  • “I hate that idea.”
  • “I don’t care what you say, I’m not going!”
  • “Absolutely not! End of discussion!”

Sometimes it’s easy to freak out in a situation like this and be contentious, defensive, and argumentative. But what if, instead of freaking out and immediately rejecting our man’s idea, we take a deep breath and listen? He may be hearing from the Lord. He may not even know it, himself. But what if God is leading in this idea? What if I am fighting God? How could I possibly know for sure – yet?

SOME BIBLICAL PRINCIPLES TO KEEP IN MIND IN DIFFICULT SITUATIONS

  • “Father, if You are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but Yours be done.” Luke 22:42
  • Let the wife see that she respects her husband. Eph. 5:33
  • Train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled. Titus 2:4-5

God does work through things like circumstances, job transfers, a husband’s ideas (as the God-given leader of the family), job offers, and other situations to lead us into His will. Of course I am not saying that every job transfer announcement means, “It is definitely God’s will for the family to move.” Or that every idea a husband has is God’s will. We do need to pray and seek the Lord in times of decisions. So do our men.

But we have a sovereign Lord! If only we could grasp this precious truth! He is even able to take awful things like natural disasters, wars, and persecution – things Satan intends to use to destroy us – to lead His children. And He can certainly use good things to benefit us, too (Rom. 8:28-29). He will never leave us and never forsake us!

It could be that God wants to lead us into a new place where we will be greatly blessed. He may have just the right church family waiting for us, just the specific neighbors He wants us to have as our friends. He may have mentors for us in the new place or an amazing new ministry. Or, it may be that our children’s best friends and future spouses might be there. That is what happened when my Daddy’s job was relocated in 1987 from Pittsburgh, PA, to Columbia, SC! I sure hated the move at the time, but now, I am grateful beyond words!

Our cooperative spirit with our husbands, and – even more importantly – with the Lord, makes a huge difference! It also helps us to shine for the gospel and to draw others to Christ.

A DIFFERENT APPROACH

Maybe I could consider approaching a big, potentially scary decision, in new ways:

  • Listen to his ideas.
  • See the merit and good points he has, as well as the reality of the situation.
  • Ask for some time to pray to:
    • Seek the Lord.
    • Be open to Him.
    • Die to myself.
    • Really determine to trust Him no matter how He may lead.
    • Yield everything in my life to His will and hold things loosely in my hands.
    • Desire God’s will and His greatest glory for my husband, my children, and myself, even if I don’t know exactly what may happen.
  • Then after I have prayed and am calm, I can share my heart respectfully. I can share my concerns politely, in a friendly, cooperative way.
  • Maybe, in time, I might even be able to get excited about the idea. It could be a grand adventure the Lord has prepared for us all!

God is the One who is outside of time and space. Not me. He is omniscient – He knows everything. I definitely do not. He knows absolutely everything about the past, the present, and the future. His wisdom far exceeds my own. I want to be cooperative when He is opening a new door He has for my family.

*NOTE – If your husband is suffering from uncontrolled mental health issues, uncontrolled drug/alcohol addiction, if he is abusive, or not in his right mind, please seek appropriate, trustworthy, godly counsel and help from your local church, medical professionals, and even the police if necessary.

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Have you experienced a time when your husband believed that your family needed to move and now you can see God’s hand at work? Or maybe you had a move where you went kicking and screaming, only to realize later that God was in it. We’d love to hear about it in the comments. Your story may be just the inspiration another wife needs to see.

NEW INFO

My new commenting policy.

My new vision for ministry.

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My Husband Doesn’t Want a Baby, but I Do

My Husband Wants to Go Where?!?!

A Wife’s Strong Faith and an Old Truck

A Real Life Example of Respect and Submission

What Headship and Biblical Submission Look Like at Our House

Taking Our Thoughts Captive – VIDEO

 

The Gratitude Challenge!

Photo by Neven Krcmarek on Unsplash

Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. 1 Thess. 5:18

Gratitude is a habit I must consciously cultivate. It is is a choice. It is also a command! Meaning – it is not optional for believers in Christ. I choose to stop focusing on problems and bad things. I choose to focus on good things. I do this because God commands me to do it and I love to obey Him. His commands are always given to bless me and benefit me.

  • Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Phil. 4:8

Interestingly, as I choose to take my thoughts captive for Christ and think on the good things, God changes me. He begins to make me more like Jesus. He begins to transform my heart and mind. The more this happens, the more clearly I can hear Him and discern His will. What I think about matters much more than I could possibly express. This is our spiritual battlefield!

  • Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. Rom. 12:2

When I focus on thanksgiving and on the good things in my life and the good things about God – my perspective changes.  God’s Spirit feels at home in my life, and I am filled up more and more with Him and His goodness. My faith increases. My joy skyrockets. My peace multiplies. I find myself experiencing God’s amazing love for other people in ways I never have before.

Once I am in right relationship with the Lord and my heart is filled up with Him, His goodness spills out into my relationships with other people. He often begins to change my perspective and the way I respond to others. In time, my change may be God’s tool to encourage other people to change and heal in Christ, too.

Thankfulness and contentment go hand in hand.

I can’t be content if I am focusing on everything that is wrong in life or in other people. The more I focus on yucky things, aggravating things, frustrating things, complaining, arguing, and trying to force my way, the more miserable and discontent I will be. And the more miserable everyone around me will be. Satan LOVES it when I think about awful things. I open the door to him in my life when I think about the things he wants me to dwell on that will hurt me.

But when I am thankful for things – the good things and even the trials – knowing God will use all things for my ultimate good and His ultimate glory (Rom. 8:28-29), my whole perspective shifts. I open the door to Christ. When He is welcome and my heart is right, He opens the floodgates of heaven in my life to provide for what He knows I need to accomplish His perfect will.

When I am thankful, I trust God more. I rest in His love and provision. When I trust God, I am drawing near to Him. And the closer I am to Him, the more the fruit of the Spirit will be evident in my life. Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Gal. 5:22-23).

What I think about is what spills out of my mouth and life.

THE CHALLENGE

I want to challenge you to think of 10 things for which you are thankful today about:

  • Your husband.
  • Each of your children if you have any.

You are welcome to write down more things. But I would encourage you to do at least ten for each person. If you really have trouble coming up with ten, just continue to think about it through the day and add to your list as you can.

If you have been on this journey for awhile, you may be able to come up with twenty things for each person. 🙂 The more you practice appreciating the good things, the easier it is to see the good things and the more you will notice.

Perhaps this would be a wonderful daily or weekly habit. Or you may just want to keep a notebook handy (or the notes on your phone) so that you are looking for things to be grateful for all the time. Just keep adding to your list every day. You can have separate lists, if you like. One for each family member and one for other blessings in your life.

PRAY WITH ME

Lord,

We are so very thankful for You. For Your ability and willingness to create the universe and each of us. You have given us life, morals, our senses, relationships, marriage, and family. You have given us Jesus and Your powerful Word and the gift of Your Spirit. Thank You for our husbands and children. Thank You for our extended families. Thank You for our blessings and trials. Thank You for Your sovereignty and goodness. Please help us develop the critical godly habit of gratitude and contentment. We invite Your Spirit into our hearts to transform us and make us more and more like Jesus.

Amen!

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What are some things about your family members for which you are thankful? You are most welcome to share in the comments.

Note – If reading about things other women are thankful for tempts you to feel jealous, skip the comments and focus on writing down the things you are thankful for in your own life. <3 Each list will be a bit different, and that is okay!

RELATED

Verses about THANKFULNESS

Verses about CONTENTMENT

How Satan Would Love to Destroy Your Marriage Through Your Thought Life

My Demon – how we can be tempted into bitter, accusatory, critical thoughts by the enemy

Taking Our Thoughts Captive for Christ – VIDEO

A Heart of Thanksgiving and Praise– VIDEO

How to Have a Saving Relationship with Christ

 

 

 

God Changed a Wife’s Heart for Her Imperfect Husband

I am so thankful to be able to share other women’s testimonies of God’s incredible power to change and heal hearts, lives, and relationships. Every story and situation is unique. I know God can – and will – give each woman His divine wisdom about the specifics as she seeks Him wholeheartedly and is led by His Spirit. And yet, so many of the central principles we all have to learn as believers in Christ are the same. I always love to see that. Keep in mind that time frames and outcomes may be different in different stories. The main thing is that we are close to the Lord and we are doing what He calls us to do each day in our specific situation. I pray this precious sister’s story might be a blessing to you today:

Hi April!

I wanted to share a story with you about how God completely changed my heart and my marriage through the gospel and His will for wives to submit to their husbands

(Note, God’s definition of “submission” is NOT at all the same as the world’s, it is not about slavery or BSDM – and it all begins with our submission to Christ as Lord).

I was a new wife when I stumbled across your website. A zealous new Christian who “had it all figured out” in her mind. Deep down I thought I was very obedient, a good wife and my husband was the man who was a rebel against God. Ignorant to my own sin, I would preach the Bible to my husband. He knew the scriptures, but in my mind he was just a rebel who wouldn’t submit to God.

I didn’t realize the very destructive and severe sin in my heart. I was striving in my works to be perfect. My heart was hardened, but still, I did want to submit. The problem was I thought I already was. I carried bitter thoughts towards my man, I was lifted up in pride, definitely more “spiritual.” I was “righteous” in my own eyes until…

I kicked my husband out one day and he walked on the streets all night.

I told a new sister in Christ how horrible he was and that I told him to leave. He struggled with smoking and pornography, and couldn’t hold a job. I was better than he was in my eyes. Thankfully by God’s grace this sister confirmed the scriptures I knew but brought them to me in a new light. She pointed out how the Lord wanted my heart to honor and reverence my husband rather than the awful self-righteous and condemning judgement that I previously had towards him.

That night was the beginning of a journey, through new eyes. Eyes that had been enlightened by the TRUE grace of God where I found true repentance unto salvation and my heart began to change. I told my husband to come back home.

Things didn’t change instantly.

The Lord had to unwind every bitter thought I had towards him and replace them with honoring thoughts. I felt, for a while, like every day the Lord was nit-picking new sin in my heart. But the closer I got to knowing the Lord, the more delight I had in repentance and suddenly I was a lot more joyful and at peace to submit to my husband. It was no longer a burden, but I started to embrace his leadership and look forward to serving him. I recognized that being my husband’s helpmeet was God’s perfect will.
We used to argue constantly and say hurtful things. Suddenly there was no longer as much to argue about. I was not as easily offended when I felt hurt by him, but could forgive him quickly and move forward, which would soften his heart towards me. Before my husband was so discouraged, he had no confidence to work. Recently the Lord provided him with a position of authority in a workplace that he loves and he excelling at.

I pray for him almost every day to succeed and do well, things I never used to pray for him.

Today we are in a better place, it is truly only by the abundant mercy of the Lord that we are where we are! I’m so excited to see all God has in store and pray that I can just encourage wives that they do have a choice in whether or not they can have a godly marriage. First it starts with a willing heart to serve the Lord, and therefore submit to our husbands as unto the Lord. I finally understand the scripture “seek first the kingdom of God and these things shall be added unto you.”
Have a blessed day. Your website was the beginning of my journey!

RELATED

Should a Christian Wife Consider Separation? – Separation is not ideal, however, there are times when this may be necessary, but only as the Lord leads under certain circumstances.
Biblical Submission – definition

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If you want to share with me about what the Lord has done in your life – as a wife, mom, or single woman, I’d love to hear about it! Just let me know if you want the message to be private, just for me, or if you give me permission to consider possibly sharing your (600-1200 word) story anonymously as a blog post. Send me a message on my Contact Page.

RESOURCES FOR WOMEN WHO NEED MORE HELP

If you are facing something really tough, I encourage you to get in touch with your local Bible-teaching church for godly mentors/counselors/pastors who may be able to direct you and who know you personally if you are having major issues or need one-on-one help.
Or you may contact resources like:
Focus on the Family – for a one time free counseling session and free counselor referral service
Nina Roesner’s eCourse Strength and Dignity
Ultimately, be sure to compare any advice or counsel any human gives to God’s Word and seek to do what He leads. <3

The Cure for My Compulsion to Control – Part 2

We are continuing a series that started earlier this month:

Once I see that God is God and I am not and I begin to rebuild my thinking on His Word and truth alone, I am ready to begin the next phase of healing from my controlling ways.

GOD’S TRUTH WILL SET ME FREE IN EVERY AREA

I allow God’s Light and Truth into the the deepest foundations of my spiritual beliefs about every topic. I invite Him to help me completely tear out my old foundations and fixed beliefs that I have cherished for so long. Then I invite the Lord to help me begin to build on Jesus Christ and His Word alone.

  • Anything that is not from Him has no place in my life and has to be trashed. It is poison.
  • Anything that is from Him, I must embrace wholeheartedly even if I don’t understand it or like it at first.

I have to be ruthless about this. And yes, it is painful. But extremely necessary.

This is the path to peace and miraculous spiritual healing and deliverance. If I don’t do this, I will suffer a lot more pain in the long run. This is not a one-time-and-done thing – it is the path I will continue to take for the rest of my life. There are layers that God will reveal to me and I deal with each one as I see it. It is part of the refining and pruning process.

I have to be willing to question the things I have believed – maybe things I have thought were true since I was very young. I need to question the things I learned and absorbed growing up and even as an adult. Just because I have thought something was true for a long time, doesn’t mean it is true. Just because it feels familiar and feels safe, doesn’t mean I can keep it.

It is ALL about Him from now on and about what He says and how He sees me and everyone and everything.

I read my Bible with new eyes, inviting God to:

  • Teach me!
  • Change me!
  • Heal me!
  • Show me Your wisdom!
  • Empower me to obey whatever You ask of me!

I commit that I will obey God and do things His way from now on – with any passage I can clearly understand. And if I don’t understand something in scripture, I will seek to understand and obey. I commit to learning sound doctrine and to handle scripture rightly. Whatever God asks me to do, I know it will be the best thing for me, for my marriage, for my family, for the kingdom, and for His glory. Bringing Him glory is my highest purpose!

For me, the next step in healing was to see God’s design for authority for His people.

GOD DESIGNED A SPECIFIC AUTHORITY STRUCTURE FOR ALL BELIEVERS

Authority

When Christ is Lord, I also yield to His structure of authority in my life according to 1 Cor. 11:3, Rom. 13:1-3, and other scriptures. I don’t buy the world’s messages or trust my own human reasoning.

God chooses to lead me (and all believers) through His Spirit, His Word, prayer, circumstances, and also through people in places of designated authority in my life: church leaders, government leaders, police officers, managers at work, my husband at home, and parents for underaged children. He provides people in leadership positions to protect, provide for, bless, lead, and create order for His people.

Of great importance – in God’s design, positions of authority/roles have nothing to do with a person’s value. This is the opposite of the world’s system where greater authority = greater value.

Every person has equal value in His eyes. Each of us are made in His image (Gen. 1:27). Men, women, different races of people, older people, young people, and babies are all precious and dearly loved by the Lord. We are all co-heirs with Christ (Gal. 3:28). If anything, God has a special place in His heart for those with the least amount of authority – children, babies, the unborn, orphans, widows, refugees, migrants, and the poor. The purpose, in God’s kingdom, for this authority structure is that those who have the most strength and power are supposed to use their gifts to bless, provide for, nurture, and protect those under their care. And those who are in positions to lead are held to higher standards by the Lord.

For more on the concept of God’s structure for authority in every area of our lives, please check out these foundational posts:

I need to know who has the God-given proper authority in various areas of my life.

I know that God has ultimate authority and sovereignty over the universe. Then when I understand what humans are in places of God-given authority and what their responsibilities are vs. what my responsibilities are – I learn to stay within my healthy boundaries and I don’t try to take on authority/decisions that don’t belong to me. If I usurp someone else’s position of God-given authority and try to do someone else’s God-given job or if I disrespect those in positions of God-given authority, I will bring judgment on myself according to Romans 13:1-3.

When I honor God’s design in any area of my life, including this one, it leads to so much weight being taken off of my shoulders and leads to His peace as I trust Him, honor His will for me, and don’t try to control things that are not mine to control. Then I am cooperating with and submitting to God rather than fighting Him. I can’t please Him if I am opposing His methods.

God leads His people through human leaders to teach us to trust Him and to increase our faith. He did it with Moses. Some men rebelled against the authority of Moses during the exodus – and they paid a hefty price (Korah’s rebellion) because:

God counts rebellion against people in positions of God-given authority as rebellion against Himself.

God also led His people in the New Testament through the apostles and then through elders, deacons, pastors, prophets, and teachers. He accomplishes His will through kings, queens, presidents, and governors. He works through our managers and bosses at work. He works through our police officers and military leaders. He works through our husbands – even unbelieving ones – to lead us into His will. And He works through our parents and teachers when we are children.

God always has a clear authority structure for us to follow. It is His choice and part of His wisdom to lead us in this way “through cords of human kindness” (Hosea 11:4). If a person in a position of God-given authority abuses that position or asks us to defy God or His Word, then we must choose to obey God rather than men (Acts 5:29). We don’t blindly follow people. We must use discernment. We don’t follow people into sin or away from God. God is the only one we can trust absolutely.

God uses our willingness to honor human God-given authorities to help us learn humility – which is one of the most important virtues in His sight – and to grow spiritually. Until we learn to properly submit to a person in authority, we can’t act as a person in authority in godly ways.

Note – I don’t want to allow people to abuse authority in my life and I don’t want to allow other people to take over the decisions and responsibilities that belong to me. If someone in a position of God-given authority is abusing his/her position, there should be other authorities over that person to whom we can respectfully appeal.

BEING IN A POSITION OF GOD-GIVEN AUTHORITY

When I have a position of God-given authority – I am a boss, a government official, a police officer, a teacher, or a parent of underage children – I must humbly always keep in mind that the purpose of God giving me such a position is always to accomplish His will and His purposes. It is not about me. It is about taking proper care of His beloved people and about doing His will. It is about dying to self, not becoming a tyrant.

Jesus called them over and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and those in high positions act as tyrants over them. It must not be like that among you. On the contrary, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first among you must be your slave; just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many.” Matt. 20:25-27

 

 

Note – I have a whole chapter in my new book, The Peaceful Mom, that is releasing March 27, 2018 that may be a blessing. It is all about how we develop skewed thinking and how to correct it. There is a very helpful chart with a large number of lies we may be tempted to believe, the truth of the Bible, and scripture references to support those truths.

RELATED

Identifying the Lies We Have Embraced

 

The Cure for My Compulsion to Control – Part 1

Photo by Ashton Mullins on Unsplash

Last week I shared about how we can develop a compulsion to control other people, situations, and the Lord in this post. I thought I “had to try to control” other people and situations. I truly believed it was my responsibility and that everything would be a disaster if I didn’t make sure it all worked out right.

When I try to be in charge of things that are out of my control, I am trying to carry a very heavy weight that I was not designed by God to carry. This leads to extreme stress, frustration, depression, discouragement, anxiety, and a feeling of being completely overwhelmed. It is not the path to peace.

THE CURE FOR MY COMPULSION TO CONTROL IS VERY SIMPLE

meinchargeI need to have proper thinking about God, events, other people, and myself. I need truth.

In my old way of looking at things – subconsciously – I saw myself as very big and God and other people as rather small and mostly within my sphere of control. I would never have articulated it like that – because it sounds audacious. But this is how I lived. You could see it in the fruit of my life.

I am not saying it is painless or necessarily “easy” to give up control – but it IS simple when I see the differences between:

  • God’s responsibilities
  • Other people’s responsibilities
  • My responsibilities

Here is reality:

Goddiagram

 

When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is mankind that you are mindful of them, human beings that you care for them? Ps. 8:3-4

When I understand who God is and the place of people in the universe, then I can begin to properly relate to God, people, and myself.

THE TRUTH

  • God alone is God, I am definitely not God. Not even close.
  • God sent Jesus, His Son, to be the only Savior people need. I am not a savior.
  • God’s Spirit is the only one who can open blind eyes and convict people of sin. Not me.
  • God sits on the throne in the highest heavens. Every knee will bow to Him alone.
  • God has put all authority under Jesus’ feet.
  • Angels bow down to God, even the demons believe and tremble.
  • God alone is worthy of worship. I am not.
  • God reigns over the universe. I do not.
  • God has all power and all wisdom. I do not.
  • God loves me, and all people, very dearly because He IS love.
  • I have value because God loves me and I am created in His image.
  • My purpose is to love and obey God and bring Him glory – and to love others with God’s love pouring through me.

I can influence God, people, and circumstances to a degree, for bad, or for good (if I allow God to work through me). But I can only control myself – my attitude, my motives, my sin, my responses to others, my words, and my actions. And even then, I can only control myself in a healthy way with the power of the Spirit.

Just to recap, my actual responsibilities are to:

  • Control myself with God’s power.
  • Love, obey, and worship God with all my heart, mind, soul, and strength – which brings glory to Him.
  • Love others with God’s love.

God3

 

I can be set free from my illusion of control. And that is definitely all it was – an illusion.

God’s truth truly does set me free! I can repent from my pride – my huge pride – thinking I was so big and important. And humbly receive God’s truth. What freedom!!!! I seek only to control the things that are truly mine and I trust God with circumstances and other people.

GOD’S SOVEREIGNTY AND WILL

Within God’s sovereignty is His permissive will and His perfect will. God’s permissive will is larger and accounts for people’s free will, their sin, the effects/consequences of sin, and Satan and his influence. But all of these things operate in the confines of God’s sovereignty and only what He allows can happen. And He uses all that does happen ultimately for His glory and for the ultimate good of those who love Him – to help conform us to the image of Christ.

He doesn’t make choices for us or violate our free-will. That is a good reminder for me that it is not my place to violate other people’s free-will either. God wants us, more than anything, to have the choice to voluntarily love Him or to reject Him. People need that choice in their relationships with me, too. The price of our free-will is very high. For us and for God. We experience earthly and eternal consequences of our choices. But we can never fall outside of His sovereignty and even Satan can never do anything without God’s permission. 

freewill3Godsperfectwill

This is how, in Christ, His yoke is easy and His burden is light. He does the heavy lifting. He takes responsibility for the big stuff.

THE FIRST STEP ON THE PATH TOWARD PEACE

I can step down off of the throne of my life and invite Jesus to reign as Lord over every part of my life.

This means total, humble, absolute surrender to Him, His will, and His control. I hold nothing back from Him.

This feels pretty terrifying at first because I have only really trusted myself before. But as I taste and see that God is good, I begin to realize He is much better at being deity than I ever could be and He is trustworthy. Infinitely more trustworthy than I am! He is the only one who is truly worthy of all of my faith, obedience, and submission. I also begin to realize that trusting Him is wise and safe and trusting myself is the most dangerous place to be.

NOTE – Don’t just take my word for anything. Dig into the Bible yourself. Find out what God’s Word has to say about these important issues and choose to build your life on Christ and the Solid Rock of His Word!

RELATED

How to Have a Relationship with Christ

The Spiritual Healing That Is Available to Each of Us in Christ – by Radiant

7 Keys to Finding Real Peace

Identifying the Lies We Have Embraced

The Pain That Pushes Us to Control

Surrendering the Burden of Controlling My Husband – by Shannon Popkin

 

RESOURCES ABOUT GOD, HIS CHARACTER, PEOPLE, AND FREE WILL

The Attributes of God – by www.gotquestions.org

“Who Is God?” – Secret Church series by David Platt

In the Image of God – by John Piper

A Beginner’s Guide to Free-Will – by John Piper

 

RELATING PROPERLY TO GOD

Humility – by Andrew Murray

Absolute Surrender – by Andrew Murray (free download or audio version)

 

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