Blessed is the man
Yesterday my husband and I finished the first six months of our Bible reading plan*. This means that we just started our second round of reading through the Book of Psalms and therefore we have read Psalm 1 this morning. If you are following me at my other blog, too, you probably read my post about Favorite Books where I'm talking about my love for the Psalms:
I love the Psalms — reading them, meditating on them, and especially singing them.
Reading and believing in God's Word doesn't make all of our problems and sorrows disappear. We will find much comfort and hope in the Word of God, though. By seeking the LORD Jesus Christ with all our heart, we will soon know that He is the only One who is capable to give us eternal life and the One who will, in the near future, wipe away every tear from our eyes. Then there shall be no more death, nor more sorrow, no more crying, and no more pain! (see Revelation 21:4)
Don't be fooled. Some might try to tell you that there is a way in the middle. But there is not. From cover to cover the Bible tells us that there are only two ways in this life to choose from: The Way of the Word vs. The Way of the World.
*Bible Reading Plan We are using The Legacy Reading Plan as a guideline. I have slightly adjusted the plan so that we are following along reading the books as suggested, reading one Proverb a day, and reading one Psalm a day instead of three Psalms per week. This will take us once through all the other books of the Bible (Old and New Testament), except for Proverbs and Psalms. Our slightly changed plan guides us twelve times through the Book of Proverbs and twice through the Book of Psalms.
As I was sitting at the breakfast table this morning I glanced at the glass door of my oven and I didn’t like what I saw. It was dirty. Why did it look that smeary all of the sudden? I tell you why: the beam of the morning sun, shining brightly on it, exposed the stains that are usually hidden behind the dark glass door.
I thought of somebody I have shared the Gospel with a while ago. She was obviously curious and bombarded me with all sorts of questions about the Christian life. To be honest, that made me really happy. Why? Because I think whenever a person is asking us questions about our faith there is an open door. We should take the opportunity to share more about that precious hope we have. We need to be ready to give an answer about what we believe.
A little later on, that same week, we went for a walk together. At the end of the walk, back at where we had parked the cars, I took the gift-wrapped book out of my car and gave it to her.
Addressing her by her name, I said to her: “I want you to have this.”
Immediately, she got cocky and replied: “Is this a religious book? Because if it is, I don’t want to have it.”
“It’s not a religious book,” I told her, “It’s the Bible.”
She answered: “Well, that is a religious book. I don’t want to have it. Take it back home with you and give it to somebody else.”
I told her that I couldn’t pass it on to somebody else because I had written a dedication for her into it. Even though it contained a personal letter specifically for her, I left it right there at the parking lot in the hope that someone would pick it up, take it home and read it.
It’s about time to go back into the garden and pull some weeds. My mom actually enjoyed pulling weeds. You could literally see the joy in her face after she had managed to get to the root of each weed. Something I did not inherit, I’m afraid.
However, it is a job we will have to do. As long as we are on this earth we have to continue weeding. No matter how much we will ignore the weeds in our gardens, they will not disappear by it. They will grow as quick as lightning. The longer we procrastinate pulling them out the more stubborn they become; until they are almost unmanageable to handle.
As it is with weeds, so it is with problems in our families. What will start out small, if left unnoticed, will grow bigger and bigger and turn into a real threat for us and our loved ones.
One way of keeping them under control is through prayer and praises to God. Now what could offer us a better pattern for prayer than the Psalms? They are inspired by the One who knows all about us and our problems. Many who have gone before us have used these very words to express their needs and their helplessness to God. They have used them to offer their heartfelt praises to the LORD.
Girl, pull the weeds early enough to avoid unnecessary hardships in your life. However, if the weeds have become so unbearable and unmanageable, don’t despair. Instead, take the Word of God and sit down in a quiet spot — perhaps right now — and read, meditate on, and pray the Psalms.
Blessed is the man whose strength is in You,
Whose heart is set on pilgrimage.
As they pass through the Valley of Baca,
They make it a spring:
The rain also covers it with pools.
(Psalm 84:5-6 NKJV)
One generation shall praise Your works to another, And shall declare Your mighty acts. (Psalm 145:4)
We need to hear the Word of the LORD, what He tells us to do in Deuteronomy 6:4-9
4 "Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one!
5 You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength.
6 "And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart.
7 You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up.
8 You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes.
9 You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.
According to verse 7,
Your husband and you decided to start family worship at home but you are unsure of how to do it? Don't worry. There is help out there to get you started.
Joel Beeke, writes in the second chapter of his booklet Family Worship* about Joshua 24. Later on he refers to Deuteronomy 11:18-19 which is a review of Deuteronomy 6:6-7. (Ever heard a preacher tell you that if it is repeated it is very important and that we need to pay special attention to the words?) Later on, in the same chapter, he tells us a little more about the how-to of family worship: Instruction in the Word of God, Prayer, and singing praise to God. He continues to give more practical tips on time and place of worship.
If you are not yet in the habit of doing family worship at home, I urge you to take the opportunity to download this 35-page booklet which will give you a great insight into the importance and will give you a good start of how to do it. At the end of the booklet he will get into Objections Against Family Worship and Motivations for Family Worship.
*Family Worship, by Joel Beeke: You can find, read and download it at NTS Library
The Reformation Heritage KJV Study Bible: This Study Bible contains the complete KJV text, notes/comments on verses, and at the end of each chapter you will find Thoughts for Personal/Family Worship which digs deeper into the chapter and how it relates to other parts of the Bible and offers some questions/thoughts for (Bible study/family/worship) discussion. You can find the eBook there: The Reformation Heritage KJV Study Bible - EBOOK where you can also take a look at a samples that contains 64 pages.
One generation shall praise Your works to another, And shall declare Your mighty acts. (Psalm 145:4)
Some of us had been raised in Christian homes, while others had not been. Some of us had been brought up in the training and admonition of the Lord, others had not been. No matter what, after we are born again, we need to be very careful not to fall into the same trap that some of our fathers did.
In Judges we are told over and again how Israel turned away from the LORD. After a while they were in deep trouble. So, in their despair, they cried out to the LORD. He saved them. Then, for a period of time, they served the LORD. But later on, again, they turned from the LORD.
I regret just how often and how easily I have given into peer pressure in my 20s. And then I often wondered how different my life could have been, had I been growing up in a Christian home.
George Grant, author of In the Shadow of Plenty says that the bad influence the pagan nations had on Israel after they have come out of Egypt was not the problem. No, it was that the people of Israel did not want to rely on God alone. They made alliances with others, they did not what God had told them to do, they did not let go of things that God had warned them about. They did not trust that God would supply all their needs and that He would be their King.
I would say that my grandma was definitely a Christian. She read her Bible every morning, and she prayed with us children. She reminded my mom to keep on praying with us and to make sure we would learn the things of God. Well, my parents prayed with us until we were about ten years of age and they sent us to Sunday School and they made sure we had confirmation in the Lutheran Church. But that was about it. I often thought: What happened from one generation to the next? Have you ever asked this question? Maybe you have come to the same conclusion than I did: The next generation was rebellious and did not listen to their parents. So they went astray.
Well, that could have been one of the reasons but perhaps not the reason.
Listen to what Judges 2:10 says:
When all that generation had been gathered to their fathers, another generation arose after them who did not know the LORD nor the work which He had done for Israel.
They did not know the LORD? They did not know the work which He had done for Israel? Why not? Surely not (only) because they did not want to listen later on in life. Surely also because their parents had not taught them. Their family might have told them bits and pieces but wanted to leave the decision (of whether to be a Christian or not) to their children. Or, their parents have left it to the Sunday School teacher to tell them about God. Yes, of course, a Christian home does not make you a true Christian. God tells us that we must be born again in order to enter the Kingdom. However, God has given these children to us so we will teach them His ways.
More coming up on Monday: Family Worship Time - Part Two, which will include some practical tips and a booklet suggestion.
In It Takes Time I said that It is important to take time. Now that time I had been talking about the time factor for a good and successful marriage. Today I want to emphasize that we have to set our priorities right (Setting Priorities) in how and where we are spending our time.
I drove somebody to town the other day so that she could catch a bus to go to the airport. It was at an early hour but it was time well spent. On the way back I dwelt on these thoughts...
We have an appointment for a job interview, a job we really want to have. Won't we do everything in our power to be there on time?
We want to meet with that special friend who we haven't seen in months. Won't we go through all the efforts to arrange a meeting with her?
It would all depend on the work we are willing to put into our assignment the teacher said. Oh, and how seriously we had taken his words.
She had to get up at 5 in the morning. But she didn't mind. It was her wedding day and all worth it.
They made sure to leave early to head to the airport and to catch their plane. They made sure it would not leave without them because it would take them to Hawaii.
What about meeting with God every day? Do we take this lightly because, after all, He is there all the time anyway? Or do we think we can be there as we please because He will understand and forgive us if we are not?
Why do we pressure ourselves to the extreme to meet certain deadlines and to rush to appointments but when it comes to our time with God we procrastinate? How about just setting aside 5-10 minutes of quality time with the LORD every day?
I'm very much preaching to myself here, too. I have often caught myself putting God second, third, even last. We are tempted to push God off His rightful place in our life when we forget about Him. We are in danger of forgetting the One who has saved us, whenever we are of "perfect" health and well-off financially. We are tempted to hold on to our money and stuff, thinking more highly of our own "capability", and we are craving for other gods (things and people can become our gods).
God's Word offers us such an abundance of advice how to live: no matter if we are poor or if we are rich, whether we are young and full of energy or whether we are getting old. God, through His Word, talking to us today. He wants to be our one and only Father. He loves to spend time with His children. Are we making the time for Him today?
If you were to write down the three top priorities in your life, who or what would come first? God? Your daily devotions? Time spent with and for your husband? Being together with your children? Your work? Your home? Your friends? Your ministry?
If you were told that you were only to live another 6-12 months, would you change anything? Why? Why not?
Honestly? I struggle now and then, setting my priorities right. I believe that the following is the perfect order:
2 Husband and Home
The problems start, of course, if God doesn't come first in our lives, but also whenever the ministry takes a higher place than our husband and our family. I'm guilty of having given my ministry too much attention while neglecting my marriage.
1 Putting God first. I'm not talking about plain Bible reading. I want to know more about God's Word, of course, but spending time with my LORD is so much more than that. It's about talking, praying to Him, listening to Him (e.g. verses He brings to my mind or points me to while reading His words) and praising Him through prayer and songs. The quantity of time doesn't matter as much as the quality of it. That changes everything!
2 Putting my husband second. He needs to be only second after God. I remind myself that he has a very special place in my life - even before my child/ren and, yes, before my ministry which goes beyond my home. I include many things I can and should do for him: keeping our home running and in order, guarding his time (after working hours end), supporting him in his work and encouraging him, minding our child/ren while he is working, acknowledging him as the head of our home, telling him how proud I'm of him.
3 Putting the ministry in third place. I find this so important. We are tempted to put the ministry before our husband. But we need to remember that woman was made for man (1 Corinthians 11:9), that we should be keepers of the home (Titus 2:5), and that we need to teach our children diligently (Deuteronomy 6:7). So, for a good amount of years, our ministry lies in meeting our husband's and family's needs and keeping our home.
What does it take for a marriage to work? Besides love, patience and effort, one of the most important ingredients to make a marriage work is time. It is important to take time.
As a couple we need to spend quality time together: going for a walk, having a candlelit dinner, visiting places, spending time alone with each other and being romantic. True, it isn't always easy to do because our schedules are already filled with working hours, chores, fitness, hobbies and more. But it is important that we will take the time to build and nurture our marriage. Keep the marital bond healthy.
Divorce never happens over night. There must have been issues with the marriage before. Maybe they had been ignored again and again? Perhaps the couple has not taken the time to probe the causes of the problems? Unresolved issues and arguments are dangers that can sneak into any marriage. Beware of them. Be on your guard! So, another important ingredient to make a marriage work is communication. It is important to make the time to listen and to talk.
The best anchor of a working marriage is, of course, the LORD Jesus. We might face some similar issues and hardships in our married life than non-believers do. However, having Jesus at the helm of our marriage-boat will make things so much more worth it.
I have ordered a few books on marriage over the last two weeks. There will be some book reviews coming up shortly. Stay tuned for there will be some book reviews coming up in the near future.
Two men had been asked to do something. One said he wouldn't do it but later on he did, the other said he would do it but in the end he didn't. Who would you rather be married to?
You look at Angela's husband and wonder: How could she stay married to him all these years? He is an unbeliever. Ever since she has come to Christ, he is giving her a hard time. Of course she loves him! Maybe not like on the first day of marriage... but she surely cares for him. It hurts her to see him in this stage, neglecting his spiritual health. She wants to help him, teach him, talk to him about her belief in God's Word - and she would love to do that all day long. However, the more she talks the more hostile he seems to become toward what he calls a senseless faith.
Now Violet's husband, he is a total different man! Straight away you will notice that he is very good in explaining Bible passages and teaching the the things of God. They are always in church on Sundays and throughout the week they participate in various studies and gatherings at the church. John had been called to faith first, then Violet followed.
"That sounds wonderful. Good for them," you say, "But you don't understand. I can identify more with Angela than with Violet. My husband is an unbeliever."
Been there! So let me point out, please, that the last thing you want to live with is a false convert. You don't want your husband to live the Christian life only to find out later on that he really never cared for it after all. True, it would make things much easier on you and the children and life could be so great in church, too. Yes, but only as long as he is playing his role well. But what if some hardships come along? What if some of his buddies convince him that there is "more" out there than being a Christian? What if he will meet "the love of his life" and leave? Or, what if he will get fed up pretending to be someone he really isn't? Even if he would continue on, eventually you will stumble across his false doctrines and he might defend them furiously. Then what? Will you be able to stand firm for Christ? Honestly?
I reasoned with my uncle once: "But why did you just lie to her?" My aunt had asked him if he had taken his medication, to which he replied, "Yes, of course I did!" His reason for lying? "Now she is all happy and will leave me alone." He explained that otherwise she will keep on bugging him all day long and he doesn't want her to do that. He just wants (his) peace.
Yes, I understand: You long for your husband to come to Christ. However, you want him to become a true believer, right, not one that will play his role to please you or so that you will no longer bother him about this?
If you turn to Matthew 21:28-31 you will find the Parable of the Two Sons where it says:
"But what do you think? A man had two sons, and he came to the first and said, 'Son, go, work today in my vineyard.' He answered and said, 'I will not,' but afterward he regretted it and went. Then he came to the second son and said likewise. And he answered and said, 'I go, sir,' but he did not go. Which of the two did the will of his father?" ... (NKJV)
Yes, being married to an unbelieving husband can be very hard. Remember, though, that nothing is impossible with God: neither for you to continue living with your husband (as long as he doesn't want to leave) nor that your husband will turn and call out to Jesus for salvation.
Wait. Pray. Trust in God's perfect plan and timing!
Have you ever wished that someone would have told you the truth about how hard and painful it can be to become pregnant, give birth and raise children in this world? Or, have you ever wondered why, in a more or less civilized world, men and women are still fighting in a competition of who is worth more than the other? Why are people still struggling to find meaning and purpose in their lives?
I didn't grow up in a Christian home and I regret that I didn't have any older women around who would teach me the principles about biblical womanhood and Christian homemaking. Now older isn't necessarily relating to age here. The women could have been much younger than I but more mature in their walk with Christ.
True, nowadays we will find an abundance of advice available to us – online and offline. So why bother writing more on that topic? Let me explain what kind of studies I have found so far and what it is that I'm really looking for.
There are studies for women arranged by topics. Often enough these teachings will talk about a specific topic that is of more or less interest to us. Throwing in Bible verses doesn't make these teachings Rock-solid, though. They are usually created to be women-ish and all about us and how we will succeed in life.
On the other side, there are studies for women that go through certain books of the Bible. Often enough I don't find any “female” aspect in them.
What I'm looking for is a study for women that would guide us through God's Word, stopping us each time the verses are specifically addressed to women, and then helping us to read them again and to study what God is telling us – so we can apply the principles in our own lives.
Twenty years ago, while still in my 30s, I started writing a book about The Christian Homemaker. That time God had other plans for me, though. Surely I needed to grow a lot more before I could even start thinking of teaching other women. Now, twenty years later, I feel a strong desire to pick up this work again and – by God's Grace – to finish it before my time on earth is up.
I want to share the pleasure with you that comes through digging deeper into God's Word. I want to encourage you to read and study along. You will be amazed, how much God cares for us and how much He has to say to and about us.