Remember.

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It's late in the day and you have just been through one of the most harrowing life-tumbling roller coaster rides you've ever experienced. You're exhausted. Your body hurts, your head aches, your emotions feel as fragile as handmade paper. You just want to curl up and shut the world away for a few hours of uninterrupted sleep but worry keeps you from doing so. You have to keep moving. You have to keep going. The last several weeks have been tough, and you're not sure when true relief will really be in sight. The uncertainty of what's ahead is overwhelming sometimes to handle and you wonder what's going to happen to you and your family. But right now, the thing you're worried most about is when your next meal will be.

Probably none of us have experienced as many challenges as the Israelites did once they left Egypt but I think we've often felt the same emotions as they. Worry, uncertainty, wonder, a sense of hopelessness, a feeling of unsure footing.

Life can be pretty bewildering at times, can't it? It can be hard to believe that God is paying attention. But He is. We can look at the Israelites story to know that.

In Exodus 16 we find God's people in their second month of travel after leaving Egypt. They're in the wilderness and there is absolutely nothing around. No gas stations, no fast food places, not even a rest stop. They've walked for days with nothing in their stomachs and Egypt's all you can eat Cairo buffets are starting to look pretty good again. Forget the little fact about slavery and bondage as the price of admission; at least in Egypt they weren’t constantly hungry!

They share their complaints with the leader of this guided tour, Moses, and they make it clear that his comment card is about to get really bad reviews.

"Why didn't God let us die in comfort in Egypt where we had lamb stew and all
the bread we could eat? You've brought us out into this wilderness to starve us
to death, the whole company of Israel!" (Exodus 16:3-The Message)

But God hears their griping and like the patient and kind father that He is, He answers their cries for help.

That night a flock of quail descends on the camp. Roast quail is quickly fired up in every campfire kitchen and stomachs feel fuller that night than they have in a while. The next morning, the families roll out of bed and to their astonishment, find little thin manna cakes all over the ground. They cautiously pick the flaky bread up, examining it. Man-hu, they ask. What is it?

Moses reminds them. It's God's provision. Once again He met their needs.

We have really short-term memories, don't we? It has been less than two months, less than eight weeks, less than 40 days, and the Israelites have already forgotten the miracles they've witnessed. They’ve had an up close view of God in action and they’ve already let it slip. He brought them out of Egypt by sending Moses to persuade Pharoah to let them go. And then when Pharoah changed his mind, God parted the Red Sea, allowing the Israelites to cross, and preventing the Egyptians from following. They were dying of thirst and God gave them cool flowing water to drink. But none of that mattered once the hunger pains set in.

They hadn’t yet learned to look for the manna.

I confess I am no better sometimes. After all of the miracles I have witnessed in my 30-some years, the interventions I have seen first hand from God in my life, the blessings He's poured out, there are many times I too am complaining of hunger pains - not the physical, but the emotional. Like a child, I'm wanting something. Instant reaction. Instant gratification. Instant supply to my whiny demand.

I need to be quiet. I need to listen. I need to look.

There is no reason to fret. Instead, I need to lift my eyes to the sky. Expect the manna to fall.

We can do this when we remember the manna that has fallen before. Just like the Israelites should have remembered the massive waters of the Red Sea parting and lifting like waves on heavenly pulleys, so should we remember when God has saved us from ourselves. Or provided when we needed it most. Or orchestrated a blessing completely undeserved.

The manna that we will find in the morning may not look exactly like we thought it would. It may not come at the exact time we believe it should. But we can, without doubt, without hesitation, without exasperation, be certain that it will come eventually.

So ask yourself today - where has God brought you manna? Can you name the ways He has walked beside you? It could be something as little as a stranger opening a door for you at the exact moment you needed to see kindness, or as big as a bill being paid off that you had unceasingly prayed about. Take a moment and write some of these manna moments down. Remember them and thank God for them.

By remembering, we can then more easily expect fresh manna to fall.

Photo Credit: Philerooski via Compfight cc

From the Archives: God’s Purposes

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While Sara is wrapping up a very intense time of writing, thank you for praying for her. She is so grateful for your encouragement through your comments, tweets and Facebook messages. If you haven't taken the time to follow Sara on Twitter or Facebook, click on over and join her! We have another fun giveaway in store for you in the coming days and we don't want you to miss your chance to win. In the meantime, be blessed with the following archived post from 2008. ~ Sara's Team

Yesterday morning, I woke up and grabbed my copy of "My Utmost for His Highest." Sometimes I read this for my devotion for the day, sometimes I read "Daily Light" which is a devotional I learned about from Ruth Graham that uses only scripture, pulling verses together which is pretty neat.

So yesterday, before I even got out of bed, I started reading the entry for the day.

Here was the verse:

"And all things that are written by the prophets concerning the Son of Man shall be accomplished... And they understood none of these things." Luke 18:31, 34

That struck me because I don't think I ever think a whole lot about what went on with the disciples as they were following Jesus around during His ministry on earth. Can you imagine what it was like after Jesus was crucified, rose again and went to Heaven? We know that the Holy Spirit was with them, and they were empowered by that. Still, the thought of doing God's work on earth on their own must have been a little overwhelming.

When we are in relationship with God, we don't write the blueprints to the plans. We don't send our orders up through prayer and ask God to deliver. Or, at least we shouldn't. Something that I've always remembered from going through Henry Blackaby's "Experiencing God" study so many years ago is that we need to see how we fit into God's will - not the other way around. It's the difference between good and great - we can do many good things on our own, but only the great can be experienced when we follow God's purpose.

Oswald Chambers talks about how from every standpoint, when you look at the life of Christ, it was a failure. Except from God's view. "...what seemed like failure from man's standpoint was a tremendous triumph from God's, because God's purpose is never man's purpose."

God's purpose is never man's purpose. Somewhere along the way we've gotten it into our heads that we will always be favored, our lives will always be rosy and God will never let bad things happen to us, and if bad things do happen, then God is punishing us. But I don't believe that's the case. The Christian life is not a call to the good life - at least not by the world's standards. Yet, how many of us still aspire for the big house, the big cars, the big investments and stock options? I think that's just human desire. But that's not God's desire. His desire is to grow us in Him. He wants us trusting Him, leaning on Him, serving Him. But so often, I think we look at it the other way.

God's purpose is never man's purpose. And He uses us most when we are at our least. When we are swinging without a net, when we are running without our good shoes, when we are just trying to make it through one more day. (Click on the Keep Reading link for the rest of this post...)

I always thought I would sing for ministry. A lot of people don't know this but my degree is actually in music. During my college years, though, God deliberately and clearly changed my purpose to His. Instead of encouraging people through song, He wanted me to encourage people through words. Left up to me, I would have done the other. Even once He had me pointed in the direction of writing, I often tried to figure those next steps out on my own. I thought I'd write for a Christian organization, making a good salary, and winning awards. For the rest of my career. :)We like things to be sewn up with nothing left undone, don't we? We like knowing the "rest of the story." We like mysteries, only when we can figure out or be told what really happened by the end. (But I'm convinced that God likes to offer twists to the story.)

The Christian life isn't like a sixty-minute CSI on tv. We may never know some of the answers for why things happen. But if we follow God's direction, His leading, we can be sure that His purpose will be achieved.

One more quote from Oswald:

The call of God can never be stated explicitly, it is implicit. The call of God is like the call of the sea, no one hears it but the one who has the nature of the sea in him. It cannot be stated definitely what the call of God is to, because His call is to be in comradeship with Himself for His own purposes, and the test is to believe that God knows what He is after. The things that happen do not happen by chance, they happen entirely in the decree of God. God is working out His purposes.

How is God working out His purposes in your life today? See, I almost wrote, what are you doing today to help God work out His purposes? But I don't believe it's up to us to do. I believe it's up to us to observe. To recognize. To stand back and say, "OK God, work Your purpose in my life." He wants us to simply be. 

See, I may not understand why God allows my husband to be sent to the other side of the world for a deployment, leaving his family at home by themselves. I may not understand when bad things happen and service members are killed in combat, leaving families and loved ones to grieve. I don't understand why military marriages are put in such stressful and straining situations such as deployment multiple times.

But I do know this: I do know God cares. And that He loves. And that He wants to grow us in Him. When we decide to put His purposes first, that's when we can experience His peace. His love. His hope.

Ask God to continue to work out His purposes in your life. And trust that He will. 

Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. - Matthew 6:34

Dear Spiritually Abusive Husband

Dear Spiritually Abusive Husband,

I don't know you, but your wife emailed me today looking for help and advice.

Dear Spiritually Abusive Husband

Apparently, you travel a lot and when you do, you spend a lot of time at night on your computer, looking at porn. She's not sure, probably because she doesn't want to think or admit to herself that it could really be that bad, but she suspects your addiction hasn't stopped at just the computer screen.

You've told her you don't think this is wrong, though you'll flat out deny that you do it if anyone asks. Except for your wife who found out by accident. Computer technology makes it pretty hard to hide anything these days, by the way.

Since you know she knows, you've told her it's no big deal, that what you're doing isn't wrong, it's certainly not adultery. You've told her she should be thinking about what's wrong with her. You're very good at quoting scripture to her, and you've marked all the passages where it talks about how wives need to submit to their husbands, and overlook their husband's faults.

So why am I writing you? Because apparently she noticed you bought my book, My So-Called Life as a Submissive Wife, for your Kindle. And her heart fell to her stomach, because no doubt you bought it planning to read about a "real" submissive wife who doesn't give lip and is fine taking orders, and you lined up your legal pad, ready to take a whole lot of notes to give her when you get back from your latest trip.

And that's where we need to have a little talk.

First, I hope you realize just how wrong your original notion was. I'm as lippy and stubborn as the next gal, but God's done a whole lot in my life the last few years, teaching me what it means to be a godly wife and mom. I am very much a work in progress.

Second, I'd like to introduce you to my husband, Cliff. Cliff is not a perfect man, but he is a loving man. He is a man who wants to follow after God, who doesn't always get it right, but doesn't give up trying. He is a loving husband, who lets me know every.single.day. how much he loves me.

Lately, he likes telling me, "I love you desperately." 

And do you know what that says to me? He loves me so much he will do anything for me. He will do everything for me. He loves me as God calls him to love me, "as Christ loves the church." That is not an easy thing. (Remember my comment about lippy and stubborn.)

Cliff knows something that you have not yet learned. His leadership in our marriage has a direct influence on whether I follow him or not. He knows he can't force me to submit to him. But he can lead me, and if he leads me well, submission isn't an issue. It only becomes an issue if his life with Christ isn't right, and that spills out in his attitude and actions and words towards me.

You have a precious wife. I can tell by what she says in her email that she loves you. But her heart is breaking.

Pornography is wrong. It is emotional adultery. You are lusting after other women in your heart, and scripture speaks to that (like - don't do it.) The intense anger that you show towards your wife, the scripture you quote at her, the control and manipulation you throw at her, is all an attempt to keep your sin a secret. But all sin comes out eventually. Because God already knows. 

The thing is, though, you don't have to keep living like this. There is JOY in sexual intimacy with your wife, you can have happiness and full sexual contentment but what you've done has defiled -  yes defiled, that same word you like to use with her when you're trying to convince her that anything goes because you're married - your  relationship with your wife because you've allowed immorality into your life and subsequently into your home.

I prayed for you this morning.

I prayed for you and your wife, that God will get hold of your heart and that He will restore your relationship with Him because when you invite sin into your life, like you do every time you sit down in front of a porn site in your hotel room, you are putting one.more.wall up between you and God. And all He wants to do is just knock those walls down and know you.

God has dreams for you as a husband and a leader for your home. Good dreams. Amazing dreams. But you are throwing them away for things that will never ever ever make you truly happy. And you are destroying a relationship that God fully intended to use to help you be the man He wants you to be. But YOUR actions - not your wife's - are damaging it severely.

I hope you really have been reading my book.

And I hope you've realized a few important points that my husband and I both learned during that year.

1) You cannot change your spouse. You can only change yourself. So before you keep worrying about what your wife is or isn't doing for you, take a little time to examine what YOU need to be doing, and what YOU need to change.

2) Change in a spouse happens most directly when there is change in YOU. I saw first hand the influence I had on my husband's life - and I also saw the influence he had on mine, but neither one of us was the best influence we could be when we weren't fully following God first.

3) Biblical submission is not the job of a husband to enforceLet me REPEAT: Biblical submission is not YOUR job as a husband to enforce. It is only in your God-fearing and God-loving leadership, emulating the very LOVE of CHRIST, that a wife will respond to that leadership and choose to be submissive.

I am praying that you will go to one of the pastors at your church and start a sincere dialogue on how you can get help to overcome and break free from your addiction to porn. I am praying that you find a godly man who will be a mentor for you and show you what being a godly husband looks like. And I am praying that God restores your marriage to be the full, amazing, loving relationship He desires it to be.

So please, STOP quoting scriptures to your wife when your own heart needs some time in the Word first. Find ways to show her LOVE, and not anger or hate. God did not give her to you as your wife to be your slave or your verbal whipping boy to take the brunt of your anger. He gave her to you to be your helper, and if you were a smart man, which I think you can be, you would also realize He gave her to you for you to treasure.

"Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave Himself for her to make her holy, cleansing her with the washing of water by the word. He did this to present the church to Himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or anything like that, but holy and blameless. In the same way, husbands are to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hates his own flesh but provides and cares for it, just as Christ does for the church..." {Ephesians 5:25-29}

 Jesus loves you.

He loves you so much, He was willing to go to a cross for you. When you can fully accept that truth, and then read what His Word says in Ephesians above, and equate the two, I hope and pray it CHANGES you, that you will realize that the lust you are experiencing with porn is no longer satisfying.

...that the only true satisfaction you can receive from intimacy comes from Him.

From the Archives: 5 Ways to Show Your Spouse is Important

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Since I have met a mini-word goal working on my new book, The Sound of Forgiveness, I wanted to check in with you. Writing is not as glamorous as you may think. With every stroke of the keyboard, there is still a list a mile long of other tasks waiting to be done as a wife and mom -- cooking, cleaning, laundry, helping with homework, mopping up water from heavy rain that got into my office.. . On and on it goes! Your prayers and support are vital to me when I'm up against a deadline and I wanted to take a moment and thank you from the bottom of my heart!

I also wanted to remind you of the great e-book sale going on right now for My So-Called Life as a Proverbs 31 Wife for your Kindle, Nook and e-reader. I saw it the other day on Amazon for just $2.51 on Kindle and I think CBD had it for even less! This is a great deal. Hope you'll share this news with your friends if you enjoyed the book and think they will too. There's just a few more days left until it goes back to regular price.

In the meantime, please hop over to my Facebook page where I've announced the winners of the 10 copies of My So-Called Life as a Submissive Wife. And if you didn't win this time, don't worry. There will be plenty of great giveaways coming in the weeks ahead.

Before I head back to my office to work on my next 10,000 words, take a minute and read this post from the archives. This is a great week to be challenged to show our spouse that they mean the world to us and are important. Enjoy! (And keep checking back here at the blog...  like I said, I've got some few more giveaways up my sleeve!)

From the Archives: 5 Ways to Show Your Spouse is Important

A Proverbs 31 Moment

“If there’s anything I know I can learn from Martha 31 right now, it’s my desire to be devoted to God. Because when my heart is focused on him and his guidance, I’m a whole lot nicer to be around. I have a much stronger tendency to serve my family. So in this state of uncertainty that our family finds itself, I know my energy, my focus, needs to be less on fixing and more on focusing. On God. On his provision. On his direction. Because if past experience has taught me, God does amazing things when we stop trying to take care of it all ourselves.” p. 93, My So-Called Life as a Proverbs 31 Wife

Don't forget the fabulous sale of My So-Called Life as a Proverbs 31 Wife and our equally fabulous giveaway of its sequel, My So-Called Life as a Submissive Wife. Hurry! The giveaway ends tomorrow. Go to my Facebook page for the details and enter to win!

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From the Archives: Unsettled

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While I'm busy pounding away at the keyboard on my latest project, The Sound of Forgiveness, my team has pulled a post from the Archives specifically for your Saturday morning. And don't forget to pop over to my Facebook page and check out the latest sale on My So-Called Life as a Proverbs 31 Wife, and the fun giveaway we're having for its sequel, My So-Called Life as a Submissive Wife. Hurry! The giveaway ends Tuesday.

In the meantime, grab a cup of coffee and enjoy this post originally written in 2011. I love God's timeless Word and I pray that you hear from Him today.

 


 

Have you ever waited for God to work?

You're expecting, you're counting, you're hoping, you're.... waiting.

And the longer you wait, the more anxious you become? Or maybe the more perplexed? Or confused? Or discouraged?

Have you ever waited for God to work?

And yet, isn't God working all the time? For even when His hand is not obvious, isn't His Hand still on it?

Know what I mean?

He's got it. He's on it. He's working.

We just can't see it.

We're like the child who can't wait to open the beautiful wrapped gift sitting in front of him.

But it's not time.

And so we wait.

And we fidget and we get up and walk around, and we sigh loudly, or complain quietly.

That the waiting is taking too long.

Waiting makes us feel...unsettled.

I don't like to feel unsettled.

Limbo is not the address I wish to post on my Christmas cards this year.

But I think about some other folks who felt unsettled... and they got to feel that way for 40 years. And they sighed loudly, and they complained softly (and sometimes not so softly) and yet...

God was still in control.

Still in charge.

Still with a plan.

I think God uses our unsettled-ness to focus our attention. I'm doing a personal study of Hebrews this month and over and over, the author reminds us of God's sovereignty. And Jesus's gift. And God's plan for us all.

So we wait... for the things spoken, and unspoken. With hearts yearning for hope and spirits hoping for peace.

And let the unsettled feelings come.

Because regardless of how long we'll continue to wait...

There is one foundation we can rest our unsettled heads.

The Lord is my rock, 

my fortress, and my deliverer, 

my God, my mountain where I seek refuge, 

my shield  and the horn of my salvation, 

my stronghold. 

~ Psalm 18:2

Faith in the midst of uncertainty reminds us what faith means in the first place.

 

 

 

Faith Pittsburgh Review

Someone sent me a link of this great Christian publication coming out of Pittsburgh which has a review of My So-Called Life as a Submissive Wife in it, by pastor's wife CaRanda Thiessen. If you scroll through the digital issue, you can read the review  on page 29 (print version is page 27). While you're there, take the quiz on Old Testament Women!