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Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Rotten or Respectful?

I'm turning the screen toward my husband as I write this so He can see every word. Just typing the blog title makes me cringe ... and proves how necessary transparency truly is.

Respectful communication is a must in marriage. There's just one problemthe little pink thing that flaps back and forth in my mouth. Without warning it rages. I'm sure you have as much trouble with yours as I do with mine.

Proverbs 12:4 says, "An excellent wife is a crown for a husband, but she who shames him is like rottenness in his bones."

A few weeks ago, Mark and I hit a slippery slope. To tell you the truth, I didn't even see it coming. I let my responsibilities with my ministry take precedence over my marriage, and before I knew it, my husband was sending me an email to tell me how he was feeling.

An email.

After reading it I had a choice to makerespect him and acknowledge his feelings or shame him and shirk responsibility.

The second choice would've been much easier. I could've come up with ten-thousand excuses about why I was so busy. After all, serving God is paramount, right?

Wrong. It's number five on the list. According to Titus 2, it comes after my relationship with Christ, my husband, my children, and my home.

By the grace of God, I didn't go on a rampage as I've been known to do in the past. Instead, I respectfully talked to him with a repentant heart. I confessed to him my misplaced priorities and asked him to forgive me. And just so I didn't forget what I'd acknowledged as sin, I shared his email with two ladies on my leadership team for accountability.

There isn't a man in this world that wants to be shamed. That's why the locked-vault syndrome occurs when you disrespect your man. I know you know what I'm talking about.

You disrespect him; He clams up.

Then you get even angrier because he refuses to talk.

Men need the respect of their wives, which is why Ephesians 6 commands wives to respect their husbands. In the Greek, respect means "to fear, reverence, or be in awe." That sounds a lot like how we're supposed to treat God, doesn't it? God has given our husbands authority over us here on this Earth until he returns from heaven as our bridegroom.

When was the last time you stood in awe of the amazing gift God has given to you in your husband? Praise Him and thank him today for joining you together as one flesh, and confess to God any disrespect or shame you've shown your man. But don't just tell God; tell your husband as well. Then you'll be his crown.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

A Rhetorical Response

Are you ever brazen with God? Do you ever question Him and demand a response?

Well lately, I've had a lot of questions for my sweet Savior. Although I seem to have fallen off the face of the blog world this past month, I've just been wrestling instead of writing.

One thing I love about God is that He doesn't scoff at my questions (or yours!)—but He often answers them differently than we might expect. You see, God already knows the minute aspects of our characters. He understands our motives long before we do. He dares us to discover the root problems which lie deep within our questioning hearts.

If God gave us immediate answers when we question Him, we wouldn't have to peel back the layers of our lives to learn what lurks beneath. That's why instead of giving us the answers we so desperately want, He often answers our questions with a question of His own.

Thankfully, we're not the only ones with whom God used this tactic! When Moses doubted God's call on His life and battled unbelief, he questioned God. But God often asked Moses a question before giving him an answer.

When Moses asked God what He should do if the Israelies failed to believe him, God asked him what he held in his hand (Exodus 4:1-2). God reminded Moses He would provide the needed tools for ministry.

When Moses argued that he wasn't eloquent, God asked him who gave man his mouth (Exodus 4:10-11). God reminded Moses it was not about what he could accomplish in his own strength but about what God would achieve through his obedience.

Like Moses, I desperately want to know the end before the beginning.

It's been months since I found out a publisher was interested in my submission for Grafted into Godliness (the first Bible study in the GEMS curriculum), and I often ask, "God, how long will this take?" He responds, "How long are you willing to wait?"

He mercifully shows me my impatience and unbelief. He reminds me that my times are in His hand (Psalm 31:15) and that if I truly believed His Word I wouldn't care if the publishing process took two years or ten.

Another question I often ask Him is how I'm supposed to juggle ordinary life with the awesome responsibility of ministry. After all, I'm called to live my priorites of being a wife, mother, and keeper of my home, and just because He's called me to ministry doesn't mean I can neglect my family, trash the toilet scrubber, and kiss the laundry goodbye.

He answers, "What branches in your life will you let me prune so you aren't just surviving but thriving?" (John 15:2-3). We often think Jesus only wants to cut off the dead branches in our lives. But He sometimes needs to cut off the fruitful ones as well so we can FOCUS. Only then will we truly flourish.

I struggle with the "YES" complex. I think I can have it all, do it all, and be it all. I battle busyness and wonder why I wind up shortshort of time, short of enery, short of faith. God hasn't called me to race through life; He's asked me to rest in His perfect plan. And most times that plan involves doing one or two things with excellence- not ten thousand things well.

What questions have you been asking God lately? Instead of an answer, look for the question He's asking you back. Dig deep to discover what part of your heart He desires to change, and you'll have the answer you really needed after all.