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“Her husband can trust her, and she will greatly enrich his life.  She will not hinder him but help him all her life.”    – Proverbs 31:11 

Do you square dance?  I don’t, but I love seeing those square dance couples that can often be seen at places like Bob Evans and Cracker Barrell.  They’re usually older couples dressed in their finest and fanciest square dance regallia who are on their way to or from some kind of square dancing engagement or competition.  Sometimes there’s a whole group of them!  If you’ve seen them, too, maybe you’ve noticed that they’re always happy and having a good time.  Even if it’s just one couple, they’re having a good time with each other.  Isn’t that something?  After what must have been many years together (judging by their senior ages), they’re still out running around and having a good time together!  And  I think I know why…It’s because they ‘bow to their partner’. 

In square dancing, the couples assemble in their ‘squares’, the music begins to play, and a ‘caller’ calls out the steps to lead them through their dance.   The ‘caller’ begins by telling the dancers to ‘bow to your partner’ and without missing a beat, they do!   Dressed to look their square-dancing best they turn and bow to their partners with smiles on their faces and making eye contact.  What a wonderful way to honor our spouses!  Can you imagine what a difference it would make if each time our ‘Caller’ told us to ‘bow to our partner’ we tried to look our best, put on a big smile, made contact with our husbands, and did so without missing a beat?  Yes.  I think that if I were better at  bowing to my partner (my husband), we’d be having good ol’ time all the time, too!

God brought this square dancing thing to my mind this morning.  It put a desire in my heart to do better at honoring my husband and led me to seek the Bible’s teaching about this.  The Bible doesn’t teach us about square dancing, but it gives the description of ‘a wife of noble character’ in the 31st chapter of Proverbs.  According to the Bible, King Lemuel’s mother described for him the type of godly woman he should seek to be his wife.  The woman she described has come to be known as ‘The Proverbs 31 Woman’ – and please note that she is described as a wife first – not mother, career woman, or someone who’s all about serving herself.  Clearly, being a wife is first priority for the Proverbs 31 Woman!   Many of us would take a huge step forward in our marriages by simply putting our husbands before everything else in our lives (except God, of course).  Yes, that means those precious little darlings known as your children, who clamor for your time and attention, need to be second in line to your husband.  Making your husband second only to God is a wonderful way to ‘bow to your partner’.

‘Bowing to your partner’ is another way of looking at honoring your husbands  Just this past weekend, while attending the Proverbs 31 conference described in the post below,  two women spoke to me about honoring their husbands.  One was talking about a decision she and her husband were making and, although she didn’t share her husbands feelings on the issue at hand, she told him she would honor him by abiding by his decision.  God eventually led his heart to agree with hers, but in the meantime they avoided nasty words and hurt feelings by her honoring him. 

Another woman noticed her husband was uncomfortable with her wearing a stylish top that accentuated her bustline.  To honor him, she said not a word, but changed tops and decided to wear the first top just for him.  How nice was that!  (This lady and her husband are writing a book about marrriage.  I think I need to read it!)  Why wouldn’t I want to honor my husband?  Just last weekend he honored me in a big way by taking over the home and kids so that I could pursue God’s calling for me to attend the P 31 conference.  He didn’t balk at the cost of the conference and even suggested that I should pursue things like this at least twice a year.  How generous!  He couldn’t have honored me in a better way.  Surely he deserves for me to honor him, too, so let’s look more closely at the teaching of Proverbs 31:11.

The verse above begins by teaching that our husbands should be able to trust us.   We should be honest and conduct our lives in a way that allows them to depend and rely on us.  It means not being deceitful,  hiding things from them, or doing things behind their backs.   I’ll never forget the lady who spent so much on Longaberger baskets that she started recording her checks in her checkbook with ‘Kroger’ so it looked like she’d spent the money on groceries. 

We are also to ‘bow to our partners’ by enriching their lives.  What can you do to enrich your husband’s life?  Keep his laundry done and the house organized?  Reduce chaos in your home and create more peace?  How about being there for him…REALLY being there for him?  When you find ways to put your children and other demands aside, you can better focus dedicated attention on your husband. 

When I think about ways to ‘bow to my partner’ by enriching his life, showing him grace comes to mind.  Our pastors define grace as ‘unmerited favor’.   I think of grace as keeping my mouth shut when it wants to snap; doing something nice because it’s right thing to do – even if it doesn’t seem deserved; expressing my love, appreciation, and respect for him; and doing whatever I can to make his days better.   I haven’t mastered these things, yet, but I’m trying!!!  

Showing grace and being there to aid and assist brings us to the last phrase of the verse above.  It tells us that ‘bowing to our partner’ also means that we are ‘not to hinder him but help him all of our life’.

Some of you reading this have wonderful relationships with your husbands, and I suspect it’s because you’ve already learned how to ‘bow to your partner’.  But others are struggling in their marriages.  One of my dear friends is working hard to reconcile with her husband after a long-time and long-distance separation.  She has been seeking God’s will and direction for her life and for their marriage, and God has been helping her to better see how she can ‘bow to her partner’.  In fact, I’ve been praying for her and the adjustments they’re having to make as they get back together, and I think the words ‘bow to your partner’ came to me as a message for her.

Ladies, it might sound very one-sided and unfair that we are asked to ‘bow to our partners’ in these ways, but I promise you that when you give a little, your husband will respond and give a little, too, and ‘bowing to your partner’ will become a two-way venture.  You’ll soon be doing the do-si-do of life together into a future of love and happiness!          (And if it makes you feel better, 1 Peter 3:7 says, “In the same way, you husbands must give honor to your wives…”  I’ve got that verse circled! ) 

How are things with your husband?  What can you do to ‘bow to your partner’?   Please begin by reading Proverbs 31 for yourself and be mindful of the words that seem to jump out at you.  God is speaking to you in those words.

Dear Heavenly Father, Thank you for giving me the desire to push other demands aside so that I can think about ways to honor my husband and be pleasing to him.  He does so much for the family and I, and he does deserve for me to bow to him as my partner.  And in doing so, I’m not just honoring him, but honoring You, too, as I seek to be a godly wife.  Lord, I pray for the wives who are struggling in their relationships and pray that you will put in their hearts the desire to ‘bow to their partners’, too, and that you will bless their marriages accordingly when they do.  In Your holy name I pray.  Amen. 

To respond, click on ‘comments’ below the title ‘Bow to Your Partner’. 

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“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men. ”   Colossians 3:23

Good morning!  I’m back from my weekend at  ‘She Speaks!’, the Proverbs 31 conference for writers, speakers, women in ministry leadersip, and up and coming Christian teens.  Wow!  What a weekend!

I arrvied trying to look my best  – wanting to make the most of the one chance to make a good first impression – and approached the registration tables.  I was still mentally preparing to enter the conference itself where everyone would be and where I’d catch my first glimpses of all the Proverbs 31 women.   Well, time for mental prep was over because there, right before my eyes, was Renee Swope herself along with several others I recognized from publications and the Proverbs 31 website (their names escaped me at the time) all there to assist incoming guests!    And they weren’t there being all ‘fancy’.  Members of the Proverbs 31 ministry team were dressed alike in simple, yet stylish Proverbs 31 t-shirts so that they could easily be identified in case anyone needed their assistance in any way, at any time.  (This was just the beginning of my seeing how humble and personable they all are.)

A General Session had already begun, and I entered the main conference room just in time for a prayer and then an introduction for Lysa TerKeurst.  It was my first time to hear her speak.  She was friendly,  approachable, and ‘real’, and so full of love for the Lord.  Those qualities proved to be true for each woman of the ministry team.

Four hundred women and teens were there from all over the US.  Many were from my state of North Carolina – and a few were even neighbors of mine, living just minutes away from me!  We came eager for instruction as Christian women seeking to be writers, speakers, or to lead in ministry.  Some came searching for enlightenment.  Others arrived with their hopes and dreams bound in the forms of book proposals anxious to meet with editors and publishers from big-name publishing companies.  I was there for whatever reason God wanted me to be there and had signed up for the Speakers Track and the opportunity to be evaluated as a speaker. 

We received instruction and evaluations; writers had meetings with publishers; ministry leaders were themselves motivated and led; and teen girls were taught that “Modest is Hottest”.  (Don’t cha love it!)  All those things were accomplished.  But to my surprise, that was all secondary for what the Proverbs 31 Ministry team had planned for us.  Their #1 purpose in meeting with us was to humble us before Jesus and remind us that it’s all about HIM.  None of them were there to impress.   They were there to inspire.  And each speaker began with the message that we’re not to become writers, speakers and leaders for our own sake, but for the glory of the Lord.  We heard that over and over again.   I loved that. 

The Saturday night general session was the most inspirationally moving experience I’ve ever had.  Lysa TerKeurst shared her testimony in a way that I don’t think she ever had before.  If ever a sister in Christ humbled herself before the Lord, it was Lysa that night.  And because of that, it wasn’t about her story, it was about her love for the Lord and why she has that love.  I’ve never seen God’s love radiate so purely through another human being.  As emtional as I am, I wasn’t even crying.  I was suspended in the moment.  Then she asked all of us to write down whatever might be holding us back from the Lord or our service to Him and then lay those things down at the foot of a cross that stood to the side of the stage.  Beautiful music played as women came forward, making offerings from their hearts for Christ.  Many knelt to pray at the foot of the cross.  Others were surrendering in ways they never had before and others were hugging them praying for them and comforting them.  I’ve never felt so much love being offered up to the Lord and shared among others.  What an incredible experience that was. 

My mind is still processing all I saw, heard, learned, witnessed, and experienced.  This was an instructional weekend for me, but it was also much, much more.  It was a very spiritual, enlightening, motivating, and most of all HUMBLING time, and I still haven’t stopped praying and thanking God for allowing me to be a part of something so wonderful.

Charlene Kidd was the Speaker Team member who led our speaker group and did my evaluation.  Thank you, Charlene!  It was great meeting you!   Sonya, from Hickory, NC was my roommate.  Sonya, it was so nice meeting you!  Let’s stay in touch!  And God’s blessings to you as you seek to serve Him in so many amazing ways.  Rachel, my friend from P 31, it was teriffic seeing you again!  And finally, to those of you in my speaker group – Kristin, Marianne, Julie, Pam, Lisa, Kim, Carla, Crystal, and Tammy- BIG HUGS to each of you, and may God richly bless you and your families, staying near to you always and giving you peace as you journy with Him.  Charlene, those prayer thoughts are for you, too! 🙂   Let’s stay in touch, girls! 

My commitment to the Proverbs 31 Ministry is even stronger than before.  I encourage you, if you haven’t already, to:   listen to Lysa and Renee Swope on their radio devotions, subscribe for FREE to their online devotions, get a subscription to the P31 Woman magazine (just $15!), consider members of their speaking team for your events, and check out the books many of them have written.  You can do all of this at their website  www.Proverbs31.org  You can even shop for stuff at this site!   

And by the way, my speaker evaluation went well, so if its’ the Lord’s will, I might be coming to a church group near you some day! 

May God’s presence be with you in awesome ways.  Blessings to all,

Renee 

Psalm 138:1-3  

I give you thanks, O Lord, with all my heart; 

I will sing your praises before the gods.

I bow before your holy Temple as I worship.

I will give thanks to your name

for your unfailing love and faithfulness,

because your promises are backed

by all the honor of your name.

When I pray, you answer me;

you encourage me by giving me the strength I need.

 I am very excited today! In just two days I’ll go to ‘She Speaks!’, a training conference hosted by Proverbs 31 Ministries for writers, speakers, and ministry leaders.  This will be a tremendous opportunity for me to grow spiritually, learn more about writing for Christian publications, and prepare me for public speaking. 

I’ve been waiting for this for almost a year!  It will be great!  I’ll be surrounded by Christian women, all there to pursue ways to better themselves for their service for the Lord.  I’ll also get to meet the amazing women of the Proverbs 31 Ministry-the writers of the online devotions whose work I ‘proof’, team members who’ve been helpful and inspirational to me as I’ve answered God’s new callings for me, and I’ll finally get to meet Lysa TerKeurst herself!  Lysa is the founder of P 31 Ministries.  To date I’ve only exchanged email with her and I’ve heard SO MUCH about her from others who have met her or heard her speak. 

These things are all very exciting, indeed, but the greatest reason for my excitement is that my arriving at this great opportunity is totally and completely of the Lord’s doing.  Not only did He lead me along the path that led to this, He’s been with me this week helping me prepare for two presentations that I’ll be giving as part of my speaker training. 

Even though I’ve had almost a year to get ready for this, it’s just been in the past two days that  my thoughts and ideas have come together for my presentations.  Usually my head is swimming with thoughts, but when I tried to work on this in previous weeks, I came up with a big, fat NOTHING!  Anxiety was causing my brain to lock up!  

What was going on?!  I’ve been looking forward to this for almost a year!  I KNOW I can do this!  The requirements for the presentations are easy – one is to share ‘my story’/testimony in three minutes and the other is to give a ‘teaching talk’ in five minutes.  I do this all the time in my Disciple classes.  Why wasn’t I able to come up with something now when it REALLY mattered?  This is what God has led me to do so I can’t fail Him!   Then I realized that was exactly what I’d been doing.  I’d failed Him by not including Him!  I was trying to go about this all on my own – not seeking His guidance or leadership.  I know better than that! 

 Immediately I went to Him in prayer, apologizing for not including Him; acknowledging that this is all for Him and about Him; and promptly sought His help and guidance.  What did HE want me to say and do?  What was the message and story that HE wanted me to share?   And then my mind started swimming with ideas again.  Praise!

Not only did the Lord lead me to the thoughts and ideas He wanted me to share, He’s helped overcome health problems this week and provided alone time at the computer to prepare my work – something I didn’t think I’d have with my 6-year old son home all day while his older brother is away at basketball camp. 

My favorite verse this past year has been ‘Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.  In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will direct your path.”   Proverbs 3:5  

It has proven to be so true in the past couple of days as I’ve relied on him to prepare me for this coming weekend, something that is very important to me because it is important to Him.  The three-minute presentaion came together almost effortlessly once  I entrusted it to God, but the five-minute ‘teaching talk’ was a little more difficult.  I had several ideas and couldn’t decide which would be best.  So again I went to the Lord in prayer, and just this morning that He made clear to me one that I should use.  He even embellished it a bit! 

So my heart is full of praise, as my once again I am amazed, at His provisional hand of grace.  The Psalm above seemed perfect to express what was in my heart -especially the last two lines. 

I hope you know me well enough to know that I don’t share these things to boast.  I share them to witness about God’s goodness and grace and to show how He is there wanting and willing to help us if we just trust in Him.  Is there something you could use help with?  Take it to God in prayer.  I promise He’ll help you just as He helped me.  God is SOOOOO good!

Blessings to all,

Renee

“You faithfully answer our prayers with awesome deeds, O God our savior.”  – Psalm 65:5 

“The earnest  prayer of a righteous person has great power and wonderful results.”   – James 5:16 

Those who know me spiritually know that I am a firm believer in prayer. 

Prayer does many things for me.  Prayer:

  • keeps me connected to God
  • opens my thoughts to receive His
  • enables and even empowers me
  • provides a refuge from the troubles of my mind
  • calms me
  • gives me peace
  • changes things and makes things happen

As a Christian, I believe that you can pray without faith, but you can’t have true faith without prayer. 

Prayer can take many forms.  It can be a quick prayer of thanks upon rising in the morning for the gift of the day ahead, recited mealtime prayers, and bedtimes prayers.  It can be done with eyes closed, head bowed, and hands together in silence or spoken aloud. 

Prayer can be spoken or offered from the heart with eyes open.  Some of my best prayer times have been done this way while I’ve taken in the nature around me and felt God’s presence in the beauty of the world around me (often in my own backyard!). 

Prayer can be a running conversation with God throughout your day.  It can also be a quick desperate call to Him in a moment of chaos or panic.   I expect to have more of the ‘chaos’ moments over the summer with my kids home from school!  🙂  

Prayer can be done alone or in fellowship with others.   I love praying in groups.

Prayer can be a positive, uplifting time or a time to share hurts, anger, doubt and fear.  “I sought the Lord and he heard me and delivered me from all my fears.”   – Psalm 34:4

Prayer can be done through song.  I often let my heart sing the songs from church or tune in to my local Christian radio station for praise songs that speak of my love and joy for Christ. 

Of all the prayers and ways to pray, the most satisfying, sweet moments of prayer for me are those dedicated specifically to spending alone time with God.  These are the prayer times that I plan for, set time aside for, and make a regular part of my day.  Setting aside a designated time to pray ensures that you will have alone time with God – AND that He will get alone time with YOU.  In fact, it only takes a few of these regularly scheduled prayer times for God to know He can count on you and you’ll find Him there waiting for you! 

Getting in the habit of doing this is easy to do. I prefer praying as early in my day as possible. It’s just like meeting a friend regularly to walk or chat.  You can start with just spending just two minutes a day in prayer.  Begin by praising God and giving thanks.  You can offer a hymn or song of praise.  Then speak whatever is on your heart.  Be open to the thoughts and ideas He places before you. 

If you are already spending time every day in prayer, that’s great!   If not, I encourage you to dedicate time every day for 7 days to prayer – even if it’s just for two minutes a day (but give God more time if you can!).  I guarantee that earnest prayer time will make a difference in your life. 

Excerpt from Promises and Prayers, author unknown:    “Prayer changes things and it changes us.  Today instead of turning things over in your mind, turn them over to God in prayer.  Instead of worrying about your next decision, decide to let God lead the way.  Don’t limit your prayers to meals or bedtime.  Pray constantly about things great and small. God is listening, and He wants to hear from you.  Now.”    

Dear God, Thank you for all You’ve done for me through prayer- all the ways You’ve spoken to me, guided me, inspired me, instructed me, and just been there.  You truly are an awesome God to tend to us like You do!  Lord, I pray that You will be with me always and also with those who need Your presence in their lives.  Hear our prayers, O Lord, and tend to the needs of our hearts as we put our trust in You.  In your heavenly name I pray, with Jesus as my Lord and Savior, and with the love of the Holy Spirit. Amen. 

Recommended Bible reading:  Psalm 63 and  Psalm 61

Do you have prayer experiences or encouragements that you would like to share?   If so please respond by clicking on ‘comments’ below the title “Prayer” for this post. 

In a previous post I mentioned the books I wanted to read over the summer.  I finished the first on my list, The Faith Club.   It is written by three women of three different religions who collaborated after 9/11 to better understand their faiths and share their lessons with others.  The authors are Muslim, Jewish, and Christian. 

This book caught my attention in a book store and I felt compelled to pick it up and check it out.  I discoverd that the book was a compilation of the authors’ reflections and excerpts of their discussions as they discussed their own religions and sought to better understand the others.  I  bought the book hoping it would help me to better understand the Muslim and Jewish faiths, and it did. 

What  I liked about this book was that the authors were open and honest and weren’t afraid to tackle tough subjects.  However, I would like to have heard more from the Christian writer and was disappointed that most of her references to Christ were in regard to her questioning His importance in her faith.  When she did finally decide that He was the Christ in Christianity, she addressed it very lightly.  This was her chance to share Christ in a big way with the many readers who would read this book.  Oh, well.  It was still a great book and very well-written.

I came away with a greater understanding and appreciation for the Muslim faith, and deepened my respect for those of the Jewish faith.  I’ve read and heard differing opionions about whether or not Allah is the same as God.   What surprised me most from what I read was that this Muslim author does pray to the same God that Christians pray to, and she even read stories to her children about Noah and other early Old Testament stories.  She emphasized that the violent Muslims are extremists and do not reflect the true loving and peaceful nature of most Muslims.

Ranya, the Muslim author, does an excellent job of describing her Palestinian heritage and her understanding of the war over territories in the Holy Land.  Priscilla, the Jewish author, has a wonderful heart for God and shares beautiful prayers used in Jewish worship.  And Suzanne, the Christian writer, might not have shared Christ in the book as much as I would have liked (just my personal opinion), but she did share Jesus enough with her ‘Faith Club’ friends that they acquired a better understanding and acceptance of Him. 

The Faith Club is an engaging, interesting, and enlightening book.  I highly recommend it to others.  Please respond to share your thoughts about this book if you’ve read it, or be sure to come back with your comments if you choose to read it in the future.  I’d love to hear from you.

Are you reading Christian books this summer?  Doing regular devotions? Or pursuing a study of the bible?  If so, please respond to tell us about it!  We might be interested, too!

Blessings to all,

Renee

To respond, click on the word ‘comments’ under the title of this post.   

Be very careful, then, how you live – not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore, do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is.            – Ephesians 5:15 

My family and  I are fascinated by implosions.  Implosions are the strategically planned method of demolition where explosives are carefully placed inside a building to cause it to explode in such a way as to make it collapse inward, not explode outward. 

As I watch implosions I am amazed at how huge structures can be reduced to rubble in less than 10 seconds.  Although I watch wide-eyed and intrigued, I can’t help but feel sadness that something that was once so magnificent and significant, and probably took YEARS to plan, design, and construct, could be reduced to nothing in just seconds.   I always wonder if any of the people responisble for its creation or associated with its history were watching, and if so, what they might have felt as they watched the bulding come crashing down. 

We have implosions in our lives, too.  It can take just seconds for hateful words, an act of deceit, or a poor choice of actions to cause the walls to come crumbling down around us.   Sometimes implosions might not be catastrophic, but can be very harmful to our relationships.  Those implosions are usually caused by careless words, angry responses, disrespectful treatment of others, etc.   Once the implosive words or actions are out there, they can’t be taken back or done over.   Just as some might be emotionally affected by the physical implosions of buildings and the losses they might represent, others are affected by the implosions in our lives, too.   

Just yesterday, one of my kindergarten-age son’s teachers experienced a devastating implosion.  He was arrested for the possession of heroine.  You can be sure that all the walls came crashing down around him in seconds.  We are very concerned for this person.   Our son was fond of him and hurt that his teacher would do something wrong.   I made sure that my son understood that this didn’t indicate that his teacher is a ‘bad person’, just that he has a bad problem and isn’t well.   We concluded our discussion by saying that we want this person to be well again and that we will pray for him. 

How do you deal with implosions in your life? 

When we’re the cause of an implosion, the first thing we should do is go to God to confess and seek his help and will for rectifying the situation we’ve caused.  Consequences will likely follow, but we can deal with them and make them positive if we trust and rely on God. 

When implosions happen as the result of the actions of others, we again need to go first to God.  Share the situation and your feelings with Him and pray for Him to help you sort out those feelings and rise above them.  Seek Godly responses to your emotions and avoid the human reactions that often lead to more insult, damage, and destruction. 

The physical implosion of a building can be fascinating and entertaining, but those in our lives can be devasatating and very hurtful.   

Dear God, We all make mistakes.  As much as I desire to say and do the right things, I still say and do things I shouldn’t and sometimes cause implosive results.  Please help me to be mindful always of how you want me to act and treat others so that I can avoid being the cause of an implosion.  And when implosions happen in my life, please help me to face them and deal with them in a godly manner, forgiving others and seeking You and trusting You always.  In Jesus’ name I pray.  Amen.

Related post:   “Your Tongue:  Does It Woo or Wound? ”   Found in the April Archives

To respond, click on the word ‘comments’ below the title of this posting.

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