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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.  

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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

 

Top 5 Pitfalls on This Journey

Photo by Raúl Nájera on Unsplash

On this lifelong journey as I seek to become the woman, wife, and mom God created me to be, there are some common snares. I have fallen into them myself, at times, and I have seen other women fall into them, too.

“Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.” Matt. 7:13-14

It is a very narrow, counter-cultural, politically incorrect, difficult path to follow Jesus – not just in the area of being a godly wife and mom, but in every area. His ways go completely against our old sinful nature and our human wisdom. It requires the power of the Holy Spirit every moment. But God’s path is more than worth it in light of eternity!

One of the most helpful things can sometimes simply be to know where some common pitfalls are. Here is my top 5 list.

  1. Having a Divided Heart 

I must seek the Lord first in my life. He must be my greatest desire, my greatest Treasure. If I put other things/people/desires above Christ in my heart, even good things like – a strong marriage, my husband, romance, feeling loved, my children, my happiness, or self – I am living in idolatry. Idolatry never satisfies. It leads to heartache, loneliness, frustration, disappointment, discontentment, depression, anxiety, and spiritual death. (Sometimes, idolatry even leads to suicidal thoughts or even death if we follow it long enough.)

The Prince of Peace, Jesus, must be firmly on the throne of my heart and He must have no rivals. It is very easy for me to slip into wrong motives and not even realize it. So if I notice that I am feeling stuck, frustrated, resentful, negative, or disappointed, the first thing I want to do is a throne check of my heart. I invite the Lord to shine His light into the darkest places of my heart and expose any toxic thinking.

I want to confirm to myself and to the Lord that He is my greatest priority, my greatest desire, and that He alone is worthy of all of my love, worship, adoration, reverence, trust, faith, and hope. I remind myself to seek my identity and security in Christ alone. When I am walking in right relationship with Jesus, He gives me His supernatural power to relate in godly ways to other people.

2. Starving Myself Spiritually

I can’t possibly be a godly woman, wife, or mom if I am not receiving proper spiritual nourishment. Just like I have no strength physically if I starve myself more than a day or so, the same thing is true spiritually. I must have serious time with the Lord on a daily basis as much as I need food to eat and water to drink every day.

This is more challenging in some seasons than in other seasons of life. But I can pray, “Lord, I want to make You my first priority. Show me where I can carve out the time I need so desperately with You. Help me to get rid of distractions and things that may be good, but that are keeping me from what is best.” I need to do anything it takes for me to be filled up with the Lord, myself. Then I will be overflowing with God’s power, love, and Life and can pour these blessings into my marriage and family.

Spiritual nourishment involves:

  • reading, studying, and meditating on the Bible with the desire to apply and obey God’s truth.
  • praying and being still before the Lord.
  • memorizing verses/passages of Scripture.
  • praising and thanking God.
  • repenting of sin ASAP.
  • replacing any lies and unbiblical thinking with God’s truth.
  • fasting of various types.
  • fellowship with other believers.
  • avoiding things that are spiritually toxic to me – things that distract me from God, things that encourage me to be afraid, things that entice me to sin. These may be books, movies, types of social media, the news, certain friendships, tempting situations/people, certain topics of conversation, a specific train of thought, etc…

I need some amount of space/time where I can completely focus on the Lord and be still and allow Him to speak to me and to transform me.

3. Attempting to Be Godly in My Own Strength

I need time with the Lord in prayer and in His Word, but I also need the power of the Holy Spirit. If I am trying to be a godly woman, wife, or mom in my own power, I will fail. Every time. I don’t have the ability to do this in my own strength. Some telltale signs that I am trying to do this whole thing without the power of the Spirit are things like:

  • exhaustion
  • frustration
  • legalism – trying to follow a long list of rules
  • lack of joy and peace
  • resentment toward my husband/children for not changing
  • resentment toward God for not doing what I want Him to do yet
  • coldness in my heart
  • irritability
  • self-righteousness/pride
  • worry/fear/anxiety
  • depression/discouragement
  • hatred of self or others
  • hopelessness

Here is a post about how to tell if I am trying to do this in my strength or in God’s strength.

4. Changing Myself Only If Other People Will Change, Too 

I am willing to change IF my changes will make other people change like I want them to. If they don’t change quickly enough, then I get upset that “this isn’t working!” I feel tempted to give up and go back to my old sinful ways. Ultimately, my obedience to God is all about getting what I really want from other people/relationships, not about being close to Him.

This is actually an attempt at manipulation and control on my part. When things don’t go my way, my real motives are exposed.

“I have been doing so much to try to change. My husband hasn’t changed at all. My children haven’t changed at all. This is NOT fair! I want them to work just as hard as I am working and I want them to change, too. Why should I try so hard when no one else is doing anything to try to bless and love me like they should? Following God isn’t worth it!”

Now, instead of getting frustrated when other people aren’t changing, I realize this is a spiritual test for me. I can ask myself:

  • Why am I doing this journey, really? Am I doing it to honor and love the Lord or to get what I want from other people?

If I am doing this for the Lord, then I will be committed to doing things His way and to continue on this narrow path no matter what anyone else decides to do. My goals are to honor, love, and reverence God and to bless others. Challenges will crop up that force me to have to re-examine my motives at times. That is actually a blessing. It is an opportunity to undergo the refining fire of God. In Jesus, there is contentment even in painful trials.

As I double down on my desire simply to obey and follow Christ, my faith will grow and God will bless me spiritually. Then I will have His power to pray His healing, blessing, and Life into my family in His way and in His timing. Not for my selfish desires but for His glory!

It is tempting to expect and to desire everyone else to change first. Here is a post about why I want to deal with my sin first and allow God to change me first.

5. Allowing My Feelings and Thoughts to Go Unchecked

Taking my thoughts captive for Christ is an essential daily discipline on this journey. I can’t allow just any old thoughts and feelings to run rampant in my heart and mind. That is a recipe for disaster. If I realize there are sinful thoughts – bitterness, fear, resentment, unforgiveness, pride, self-righteousness, discouragement, lies, etc.. in my thinking – I must do something about it. Otherwise, I give room to the enemy to take territory in my life. I am responsible for my own emotions and thoughts.

In Christ, my emotions and thoughts do not rule me, Jesus rules them.

God instructs me, as a believer in Christ, to reject any sinful or wrong thoughts and motives and to replace them with His truth from His Word. As I learn to immediately shoot down sinful thoughts and motives and replace them with God’s truth, I will be able to walk in greater fellowship with Him and experience so much more of His love and abundant spiritual life in my everyday challenges. Here is a video about how to take your thoughts captive for Christ.

PRAYER

Lord,

We choose to have You, and You alone on the throne of our hearts. We submit ourselves to Your Lordship. You are the only true God there is. You are the only one worthy of all of our love, adoration, reverence, respect, awe, and submission. Your love for us is beyond our ability to fathom as we look at the cross and all You have done for us. Please help us be wholeheartedly devoted to You. Help us have eyes to see these pitfalls and help us to turn to You for the power we need to walk in obedience and in right relationship with You. Jesus’ power is what we need every moment. Transform our hearts, minds, and lives for Your glory! Help us to walk in the reality that we are new creations in Christ and that we are dead to our old sinful selves and this world. We are alive to God through Jesus!

Amen!

RELATED VERSES

My Motives:

  • I am your shield, your very great reward. Gen. 15:1
  • “The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up. Then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.” Matt. 13:44
  • ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ Mark. 12:30 (The Greatest Commandment)
  • “If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters–yes, even his own life–he cannot be My disciple.” Luke 14:26 **

My Need for Time/Fellowship with God:

  • Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path. Ps. 119:105
  • But he answered, “It is written, “‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” Matt. 4:4
  • “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.” Matt. 5:6
  • “My food,” said Jesus, “is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work.” John 4:34
  • Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.” John 6:35

Being Filled with the Spirit:

  • He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. Matt. 3:11
  • It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh is no help at all. John 6:63
  • The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace. Rom. 8:6
  • Walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. Gal. 5:16

Taking Responsibility for Myself:

  • Whoever conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will obtain mercy. Prov. 28:13
  • And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them. Luke 6:31
  • For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil. 2 Cor. 5:10
  • Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. Gal. 5:19-21
  • Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. Gal. 6:6-18

Taking My Thoughts Captive for Christ:

  • We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. 2 Cor. 10:5
  • 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
  • For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Eph. 6:12

** Note on Luke 14:26 – The Second Greatest commandment is that we love other people as ourselves. So Jesus is not actually saying we are to hate our family members. The meaning of this verse is that our love for Jesus is so much greater than our love for our closest family members that our love for them looks like “hate” compared to our love for Him. Paradoxically, it is only when we truly love Jesus infinitely more than others that we truly can love other people in healthy, godly ways.

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What are some of the general areas that have been pitfalls for you on this journey? What godly wisdom have you learned that may be a blessing to other women?

My Commenting Policy

RESOURCES

How to Have a Saving Relationship with Christ

Are You Giving the Enemy Authority in Your Life?

Stages of This Journey – This is a lifelong process of growing and maturing in our faith in the Lord, not an instant thing.

The Peaceful Mom – Building a Healthy Foundation with Christ As Lord has much more info on:

  • how to do throne checks.
  • creative suggestions about how to get the time with God in that you need when you have young children at home or you are in a time crunch.
  • how to get rid of distractions so you have the time you need with God.
  • how to take our thoughts captive for Christ

NOTE – If you are experiencing severe problems in your marriage (uncontrolled mental illness, severe spiritual oppression, unrepentant immorality, addictions to drugs/alcohol/gambling, abuse, etc…) please seek appropriate, experienced help.  Contact a trusted godly counselor, a trusted pastor, the police, a doctor, or whoever would be able to get you the help you need right away.

God’s Healing for Suicidal Thoughts

Photo by Oscar Keys on Unsplash

I am so thankful for this dear sister’s story and for the victory she has experienced in Christ! We have all felt the darkness of despair. May we all experience the Light and hope of Jesus like this wife and mom did. (Shared with permission.)

————

Dear April,

I am writing to you after spending three delightful days with my grandson. The miracle in this is that I am a mother and grandmother at all.

You see, I have struggled with depression off and on my whole life. I seriously contemplated ending my life around 32 years ago, and then again 9 years ago.
Thirty-two years ago I felt so betrayed by a boyfriend, that I felt worthless and that life was too hard. With his unfaithfulness and my sensitive nature, I felt destroyed.

He was my idol, my false god. I placed my own personal value upon how he treated me. He treated me like trash, and I absorbed that identity.

What saved me from taking my life? Three things:

  1. Personal guilt I would feel toward my parents and siblings.
  2. I knew this was against my church’s teaching.
  3. I believed God did not like suicide.

Even though I felt no personal desire to live, I reasoned that if God wouldn’t give a free pass for people to just “quit” life when someone wanted to, then He must have another way out of the mess. In my core, I believed in a good God. Life could be cruel, but surely not the Creator of life?

I remember feeling numb and just praying, “Help me, God.” I went through the motions of living. I held on. I met my future husband one year later. We will celebrate our 30th wedding anniversary this year.

So why in 2009, while on an island vacation with our four children did I feel suicidal again?

This time I felt unneeded, unappreciated, and unimportant.

My husband was extremely successful, admired, and appreciated at work. I stayed home with our children, working very hard to cook, clean, drive, keep up with laundry and dishes, help with homework, etc., and earned no money. I wanted to home school, but my husband wouldn’t let me. I watched our children’s spiritual lives drying up. I was frequently undermined in front of our children by my husband. I was rarely respected and the children saw that.

Needless to say, I became depressed. I remember crying a lot behind my sunglasses on that vacation in 2009, sitting in a bathroom stall trying to decide if I should overdose in that bathroom or go somewhere else. I spent many hours by myself. My husband and the children were having a great time in all the pools, in the ocean, and at the bar…no one knew what I was going through. They still don’t know and would be shocked to read this. My husband still refers to that vacation as a favorite family trip.

Again, making an idol had brought me to the point of ending my life.

What was my idol? My feeling of being a relevant member of my family. This time I didn’t feel like trash. I just felt irrelevant. They could find anyone to cook, clean, etc…

So, what stopped me this time? Two things:

  1. They would have to ship my body back to the U.S., and what a pain that would be…and it would be embarrassing to them.
  2. I still thought God would highly disapprove. I would have to face Him, with my final act being one of disobedience.

My whole life I’ve based my decisions on other people’s opinions; I have idolized their opinions, or what I have perceived their opinions to be. And my feelings have ruled my reason.

  • It is amazing to me that in my depression, I could only hear the voice of death. No other ideas or solutions for making my life better came to mind. I was in a dark cloud.

In 2010 I went back to work and loved my job. In 2012 I wanted out of the marriage. In 2013 my husband’s job changed where he had to travel a lot. He asked me to quit work. I cried. But I quit for our children. I had time to google things I wondered about like “how to be a peaceful wife.” Literally, I googled that. I just wanted to be peaceful – forget happy.

Well, I gobbled up your blog, April. And for Lent in 2014, I did Nina Roesner’s Respect Dare. I begged God for help. My husband started to treat me kindly, as I started to respect the memory of all those good qualities he had when we got married and all his good qualities he still had but I had ignored because of my hurt feelings. I’m not perfect and neither is he.

Shockingly, to me, each family member has come to me for advice on different things within the past two years. Sometimes they follow what I say and sometimes they just listen. It’s free will at this point. I ask God to help me help Him with His kingdom. I hope I have helped my Beloved King in some ways. I pray His forgiveness for my failures and near disasters.

Why did I want to share this? Mental illness and depression are very real. Putting other gods before the One true God twice nearly ended my life. These are my darkest secrets. Could anyone be helped by my story?


From The Peaceful Wife:

If you need help because you are struggling with suicidal thoughts, discouragement, or depression, please know that those thoughts are not from the Lord. If you are experiencing a spirit of death, you can be set free from that in Jesus! He is all about a Spirit of LIFE!

Don’t listen to the awful lies of Satan. He is the one who wants to steal, kill, and destroy you and your family. He is the one who speaks despair, hopelessness, and darkness into your life. Choose to turn to Jesus. He is the Good Shepherd who goes after the one lost sheep who has gone astray. He knows where you are. You are not too far away for Him to save you. Turn to the Bible. Turn to Light and Life in Him. He can heal you. You can have a saving relationship with Him.

The enemy wants you to believe horrible lies like:

The truth of God is:

  • You have value because you were created by God and everything He makes is precious and valuable.
  • You have hope because of what Jesus has done for you on the cross if you will turn to Him and yield your life to Him as Savior and Lord.
  • You are dearly loved – more than you could possibly imagine – by the God who created you. Not because you are so good, but because He is so good and He IS love.
  • You can’t be good enough on your own, but – what good news! You don’t have to be good enough. Jesus was good enough! God will allow His life to count for your own, and His death to count for your death. And He will give you His power so that you can walk in holiness and you can please and know the Lord. All you have to do is turn away from your old ways, your sin and your old toxic thinking and turn to His truth and His life.
  • Jesus offers you a brand new heart, a new Spirit, and a new life in Himself if you will come to Him in faith and trust.
  • The greatest and most lasting peace, joy, hope, and fulfillment only exist in knowing Jesus. When we are close to Him, He shares with us all of His spiritual riches and treasures.

PRAYER:

Thankfully, we can pray anytime! God is always ready to hear from us when we call out to Him for help.

Lord,

The mind set on the flesh is death. But how we thank You that the mind that is set on You is LIFE and PEACE! (Rom. 8:6) You have the power to transform our thinking, our minds, our hearts, and even our circumstances. Help us to acknowledge that we need You desperately. We all do. On our best days and at our lowest points. None of us are good. None of us are perfect – not even remotely. Only You are Good, Lord. The only goodness we can have comes directly from You. We need Jesus. We need Your cross. We need Your salvation. We need Your healing. We need our old selves to be crucified with you and buried with You, Jesus. We need new life in You that comes through Your resurrection power. We need Your transformation. We need the power of Your Word and Your Spirit.

Breathe Your LIFE into every hurting heart today. Heal wounded, broken souls. Conquer the enemy. Conquer the lies. Let all who are in darkness see Your great light. Let all who are chained and shackled in the prison of sin and the prison of Satan see their chains falling off by Your power and walk out into Your glorious light and hope. Let today be the day of salvation and healing for all who are thirsty, defeated, and weary. Let them come to You and find true rest for their souls.

Amen!

SOME LIFE-GIVING BIBLE VERSES (ESV):

  • The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit. Ps. 34:18
  • He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds. Ps. 147:3
  • Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. Prov. 3:5-6
  • For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. Jer. 29:11
  • Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. … Rom. 5:2-8
  • For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. Rom. 8:38-39
  • For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” Rom. 10:13
  • Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you? If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him. For God’s temple is holy, and you are that temple. 1 Cor. 3:16-17 (For believers in Christ, we are God’s temple)
  • For you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body. 1 Cor. 6:20
  • But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 2 Cor. 12:9

More encouraging verses.

IF YOU NEED IMMEDIATE HELP FOR A SERIOUS ISSUE:

Please contact a trusted pastor, or go to the free one-time counseling services available at www.focusonthefamily.com or check out the counselors available at www.biblicalcounseling.com

If you feel you are an immediate danger to yourself, please call 911, or ask someone to take you to the emergency room. If someone you know is threatening suicide, please call 911 and get help right away. There are a lot of reasons for suicidal thoughts. Sometimes it is because of our own sinful thoughts or a spiritual battle. Sometimes suicidal thoughts can be a side effect of certain medications or a side effect of stopping certain prescriptions too quickly. There are other possibilities, too. But if you feel like you want/need to harm yourself, you are not thinking clearly and you need help right away. Please reach out for help. You will be so glad you did.

SHARE:

How has God given you hope when things were hopeless? Has there been a time when God encouraged you and pulled you up out of a dark pit in your life? We’d love to hear about it.

Do you need prayer and hope today? I’d be glad to point you to Jesus and the healing that is available to you in Him. But, please, if you are in immediate danger, please don’t wait for me to be able to respond, but get local, experienced help right now.

My Commenting Policy – Let’s seek to use this place to honor the Lord, our spouses, our families, and others. Let’s seek not to share lots of details about other people’s sin here or to tear anyone else down, but let’s seek to build up one another in our faith. Thank you so much! <3

RESOURCES:

How to Have a Relationship with Christ – this is the first and greatest step toward REAL peace. Jesus is the Prince of Peace. When He is seated firmly on the throne of your life, He gives genuine, lasting peace.

Why Should I Not Commit Suicide? by www.gotquestions.org – also provides suicide hotlines and resources

Lacey Sturm’s story – she was an atheist teenager who was planning suicide, but God intervened! Now she is a Christian who sings “The Mercy Tree.”

Articles about suicide at www.gotquestions.org

Articles about suicide at www.desiringgod.org

Identifying the Lies We Have Embraced (about God, others, and ourselves – lies lead to bondage and thoughts of harming ourselves or others)

The Idol of Happiness

8 Powerful Keys to Peace

Finding Contentment in Christ Alone in Painful Trials

Praying Life into Your Marriage and Family – changing the spiritual atmosphere in your home

Are You Giving the Enemy Authority in Your Life?

Roots of Insecurity, Low Self-Esteem, Sinful Jealousy, and a Desire to Control

Real Security – in my identity in Christ!

What Does God Say about Me?

Triggers for Sinful Thoughts – sinful thinking leads to fear, depression, isolation, discouragement, and hopelessness

 

 

 

A Critical Spirit VS. a Godly Rebuke

Photo by Noah Buscher on Unsplash

 

As believers in Christ, we are not to have a critical, judgmental spirit, but there are times when we do need to share a life-giving, godly rebuke. We don’t just want to ignore a situation where someone is hurting others or himself/herself.

How can we rightly discern the difference?

Here is a picture that helps me. I imagine someone is in danger, hanging perilously from the edge of a tall cliff.

  • Do I want to kick the person’s hands so he/she falls farther?
  • Do I want to throw him/her a lifeline?

If I have a critical, judgmental spirit (if I am acting in my sinful flesh):

My motives will include things like: resentment, bitterness, condemnation of others, self-righteousness, hatred, jealousy, pride, hypocrisy, gossip, slander, or some other sinful motive. I do not examine myself first. I do not see sin in my own life. I approach the other person harshly and/or go to other people and tell them how terrible this person is. I cause division and more hurt. I set myself in the place of judge and jury – maybe even executioner. My sinful response only adds gasoline to the fire.

  • My primary goals are to exalt myself and hurt others. I want to see the person I criticize defeated. I view him/her as “the enemy.”

If I am operating in the power of the Holy Spirit:

My motives will include things like: wholehearted love for God, unconditional love for all the people involved, truth, a desire to see the sinning person turn to the Lord in true repentance, a willingness to examine my own life for sin first, a longing for spiritual healing for all involved, a desire for genuine unity in the Body of Christ, hatred of sin and the destruction it causes. I seek to approach the sinning person very humbly. I want to honor God’s Word in Matt. 7:1-5, Matt. 18:15-17, and Gal. 6:1-2 about how to lovingly, rightly confront a sinning brother/sister in Christ.

First I deal with sin in my own life thoroughly before the Lord and I also repent to anyone I have injured. I seek to make things right. Then I approach the person in private. I don’t share details all over social media or with my coworkers and friends. If the brother/sister still doesn’t repent, I bring 1-2 strong believers along with me to address the issue – again, in private. And then, if the person still doesn’t repent, we are supposed to take them before the church. I am to watch myself carefully, so that I do not fall into any sinful temptation myself in this process.

  • My primary goals are to exalt and honor the Lord, to build up His kingdom, and to bless and love others. I am throwing a lifeline to someone who is about to be swept away by danger. I want to see the real enemy (Satan) defeated and everyone in the Body of Christ healthy and functional. I want to see those who don’t know the Lord come to Him and be transformed and healed.

Lord,
Please radically transform our hearts and minds with the power of Your Spirit! How we need Your power and holiness each moment – that we might love You and love others. Use us to shine Your light in this dark world. Be greatly glorified in our lives and help us to rightly handle Your Word and difficult relationships.
Amen.

Check out the post below for a great summary about what it means to properly give a rebuke.

https://www.gotquestions.org/rebuke-believer.html

 

SHARE:

What are some red flags you have noticed to help you see your motives clearly before you attempt to address someone else’s sin or wrongdoing?

What things have you learned to help you respond in a godly way?

 

Much love!

 

IF YOU NEED PERSONAL HELP WITH A TOUGH PROBLEM:

If you are facing a difficult situation and someone is sinning against you and you need to talk about it – please seek wise, godly counsel in private.

Check out the free counseling resource at www.focusonthefamily.org, or you can check out www.biblicalcounseling.com to find a counselor. Or please check with a trusted pastor or godly mentor for a referral.

Of course, if you are facing someone who is extremely abusive or acting in dangerous ways, it may not be safe to confront them privately. There are times when things are so bad you may need to go directly to the police or seek outside help ASAP.

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

The Importance of Finding Your Family Vision – by Shelly Wildman

Photo by JOHN TOWNER on Unsplash

 

A guest post by newly published author of the Christian parenting book “First Ask Why,” Shelly Wildman. It would be a fabulous follow-up to my book, “The Peaceful Mom – Building a Firm Foundation with Christ As Lord”:

———–

Have you ever taken your kids on a trip but not told them where you were going?

 

Unless we’re surprising them with a trip to Disney world, it might seem a bit ridiculous not to prepare our kids for a trip, wouldn’t it? Even, perhaps, a little bit scary for a child.

 

My husband and I inadvertently did that one year. We loaded our car with suitcases, strapped our youngest into her car seat, grabbed our airline tickets, and headed to the airport, three little girls in tow. The oldest two knew that we were headed to Arizona to visit their grandparents for Christmas, but four-year-old Julia had no clue.

 

About halfway to the airport, Julia, still smiling and just happy to be with us, spoke up from the back seat.

 

“Hey guys? Where are we going?”

 

The rest of us burst out laughing! How had Julia missed the memo? This wasn’t a small trip, after all.

 

We’ve laughed about that incident for years, but in reality, my husband and I had missed the mark—we had not prepared everyone for the journey.

 

Sadly, many parents do this on a much larger scale, and often it’s not just a trip that’s miscommunicated. Often, parents forget to communicate where they’re going as a family, which leaves kids confused and misguided about the family’s purpose.

 

Proactive parents help their children see that their family isn’t merely a random group of people who live together under one roof for a time (and as one whose kids don’t live under her roof anymore, it feels like a very short time indeed!). Proactive parents help their children understand the purpose of their family and provide a vision for what God is doing through them.

 

So how do we get to our family vision? We ask why.

 

Asking why reveals our intentions and motivations.

 

Asking why helps us focus on what’s most important in our lives and in our family.

 

Asking why takes into account the individual needs, challenges, and personalities within our family.

 

When my husband and I began asking why, rather than how, we began to see that God did, indeed, have a purpose for our family, and that purpose became much clearer. When we started asking “why are we here?” we began to realize that God could use our family for gospel purposes—to shine the light of Jesus into the dark corners of the world.

 

Asking why guided our discipleship of our daughters and began our family on a journey of intentionally living for Christ. It gave us a vision for our family that was much bigger than what happens between the four walls of our home.

 

Here are a few questions that might help you formulate a vision for your family.

 

  1. What are some of the unique characteristics of your children? What are some things they have in common and how are they different?

 

  1. How can you take the unique combination of personalities, interests, passions, and needs in your family and formulate them into a gospel-centered vision for your family?

 

  1. How does the gospel influence your family’s purpose? How might thinking about your family in light of the gospel change what you’re focusing on today?

Shelly Wildman is a writer, speaker, and the author of First Ask Why: Raising Kids to Love God Through Intentional Discipleship. She is a former writing instructor, but her most important life’s work has been raising her three adult daughters. She and her husband, Brian, have been married for 33 years and live in Wheaton, IL.

Follow Shelly on Instagram or on her blog at www.shellywildman.com.

 

FROM THE PEACEFUL WIFE

This idea that Shelly suggests is awesome. I think it would be ideal if parents sat down and formulated a family vision together and share it with their children. I LOVE Shelly’s book and the intentionality with which she and her husband parent. I also commend her approach of looking at the reasons why we do things as parents before launching off into a specific method. She has so much godly wisdom, love, and experience to share. I highly recommend her book.

I’d like to also address those wives whose husbands would not be excited about coming up with an official “family vision.”

It’s okay. If your husband doesn’t like doing things like this, or you mention it and he is not on board, that is fine. Don’t freak out. Don’t succumb to the enemy’s temptation to be bitter or angry at him for not jumping on this amazing idea. Don’t feel like he is failing you or your children. There are lots of ways to lead a family. Some people love to be extremely intentional – and that is awesome! But if your husband is not one of those people, he can still be the leader in the home, even if he has a different way of leading.

You are totally free to pray yourself to the Lord and to invite Him to share a family vision with you – and your husband if you would like to ask for that.  You can share your vision with your children as their mom. Even if Dad doesn’t want to participate. I encourage you to invite God’s Spirit to work in both your husband and yourself and to be open to any way the Spirit of God wants to lead your husband. Even if it looks different from this exact plan. Even if your husband hates coming up with written goals. God can still lead you through such a man. Check out this post for inspiration.

RELATED

Raise a Daughter Who Doesn’t Need to Date – by Shelly Wildman

First Ask Why – Why I Wrote the Book – by Shelly Wildman

I Wish My Husband Would Pray with Me More

My Husband Doesn’t Speak My Love Language

25 Ways to Be a Safe Place for Your Husband Emotionally

 

 

 

 

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!

 

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!

SHARE

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

 

 

 

Books Were My Mentors When I Began My Journey

Photo by Kimberly Farmer on Unsplash

In December of 2008, God used a book, “Love and Respect,” (by Dr. Emerson Eggerichs) to open my eyes to a lot of problems in my attitude and behavior I had never noticed before. I was mortified. I had no idea how blind I was and how much work I had to do spiritually to become the woman God called me to be.

I didn’t have a godly mentoring wife/mom to meet with me once a week or once a month. I didn’t have a female prayer partner or an online teacher. But I was determined that I was going to learn everything God wanted me to know about being a godly woman and wife.

I spent about 3-5 hours per day (7 days per week) immersed in the Bible, books, prayer, and my journal notebook for several years. I begged God:

  • Don’t leave me like this!
  • Change me!
  • Show me what it means to respect my husband. I don’t understand.
  • Show me what godly femininity means.
  • Show me how to be the woman You call me to be to my husband and children.
  • Help me make up for my sin and treat my family well from now on.
  • Help me obey You in everything. I hate my way. I want to do things Your way!

I read over 30 books on godly femininity, biblical womanhood, and being a godly wife during those 3.5 years. Those books and authors were my mentors along with much prayer, and – most importantly – scripture and the Lord.

I could read the books over and over again, and I often did, to help me really drive home the new ways of thinking I wanted to adopt. I often wrote notes and prayers in my prayer journal while I read. And I highlighted the books and made notes in the margins. Of course, I had to be sure to carefully evaluate each statement against the Bible. I only wanted to receive things that align with God’s Word. But books were a way for me to connect with people who understood God’s design for women, marriage, and faith so much more than I did. It was a way for me to have very low cost, high intensity discipleship for many hours each week on my schedule. I didn’t have to bother anyone else. I didn’t have to find child care. I found that books were very thorough and organized. I think, in many ways, they can help even more than having someone with you face-to-face at times.

I used the many hours in the evening that Greg was doing renovations on our house after the children were in bed and just soaked in every drop of God’s truth that I could. I began to really look forward to that time with Him and with my “mentors.” Even when Greg wasn’t working on the house as much, he would be sitting watching TV in bed. I wasn’t really into TV, so I would often sit beside him and cuddle while I read my latest book and communed with the Lord in prayer. What precious times of intimacy with God and of healing and growth for me spiritually!

Since that time, I have read even more books to help me grow in my walk with the Lord and as a wife and mom. God has used so many Christian authors from recent history, and from even the 1800s to help sharpen my faith and trust in Him. I can’t imagine where I would be without the books God has used, along with His Word, to open my eyes to His love, His truth, His transforming power, and His path to peace for me.

My Newest Book, “The Peaceful Mom,” is releasing today, March 27th!

51cXWa6UBDL._SX322_BO1,204,203,200_Perhaps The Peaceful Mom – Building a Healthy Foundation with Christ As Lord, might be one of the books God uses to be a great blessing and mentoring resource in your life? Maybe there are some areas where you are struggling as a mom, and this would be just the thing to help you grow and experience more of God’s power and peace in your life.

Check out the quiz on this link to see if it might be right for you.

And, if you are looking for help with your marriage and haven’t read, “The Peaceful Wife – Living in Submission to Christ As Lord,” it’s here for you, as a resource and mentor, too.

Lord,

Thank You for Your Word, Your healing and Your truth. Thank You for the blessing of Christian books with solid biblical teaching. I pray that You might provide godly books to help us grow. Lead us to the ones we need for each stage of our journey. Most of all, help us cling to You and Your Word. Transform us by the power of Your Spirit. Make us be more and more like Jesus. Teach us Your ways and give us the faith, power, and courage to follow and obey You in everything. Your ways are the best!

Amen!

NEXT WEEK:

I plan to share a bit about what God has been doing in my life over the past 6 weeks. <3

RELATED:

Some of my favorite books – check out the books God used to most impact me on my journey

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