Saturday, October 22, 2011

Lessons for Your Relationships from Love Stories of the Bible

Fireside - Conversations by the Fire About Nurturing Home and Family

Let’s face it. There aren’t many good models of marriage in this day and age. Don’t get me wrong – there are some out there, but as a whole, the family unit has been declining for years and much of it has to do with a lack of commitment to the marriage relationship. When conflict comes to a marriage, or people don’t see things the same way, couples often make the choice to discard their marriages with the assumption that it’s a whole lot easier to start over with someone new. But that’s a horrible fallacy.

This week, the school I’m attending has been studying the institution of marriage. My assignment this week is to study some of the marriages of the Bible. Here are some positives and negatives from three of those stories.

Zacharias and Elizabeth

Their story;
After being married for many years, Elizabeth and Zacharias were childless. Bearing children brought value to women in Bible times. It was a source of joy, and a fulfillment of “duty” to their husbands. According to Sue and Larry Richards in the book, Every Woman in the Bible (copyright 1999, Thomas Nelson, Inc., page 176), a woman’s barrenness was grounds for divorce. It also brought tremendous social disgrace. (Luke1:25)

Positives:

1) Zacharias honored his commitment to Elizabeth. He stood by her through years of disgrace and sorrow.

2) Zacharias prayed continually pleading with God to give Elizabeth a child. (Luke 1:13)

3) In the end, we recognize that Zacharias loved Elizabeth deeply and respected her as a wife and as a woman of God. He would rather live life with her by his side and have no children, than live without her and have many children with another wife.

4) Zacharias and Elizabeth were both devoted to God. Their devotion was evidenced by the way they lived their lives (Luke 1:6).

5) When they faced the sorrow of infertility, they faced it together with a continuing trust in God and a continuing commitment to one another.

Negative:

1) Zacharias failed to believe the words of an angel of the Lord who told him they would have a child.

God did give them a child. His name was John. He was the one who “made ready a people prepared for the Lord.”

Some lessons for marriages today:

When we face hardship in marriage, it is helpful to:

1) Remain deeply committed to God and dependant on him – both individually and as a couple.

2) Remain deeply committed to our spouses, and face the hard times together.

3) Humble ourselves before God and pray for our spouses.

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Isaac and Rebekah

How they came together:
A servant traveled to Abraham’s homeland to find a mate for Abraham’s son, Isaac. The people of Canaan where Abraham was living had very different values, so it was of utmost importance to find a wife for Isaac who lived by the same principles he did. The servant asked God to identify the wife of His choosing by bringing her to a well and having her offer water to both him and his camels. Before the servant had finished speaking, Rebekah appeared at the well and did just that.

Rebekah left her homeland and her family to marry Isaac who lived in the land of Canaan (400 miles away). For 20 years, she was heartbroken because of her inability to have children. Isaac, who loved her deeply, pleaded with God on her behalf. (Genesis 25:21) God answered his prayer and Rebekah had twin sons.

Positives:


1) Abraham and Isaac trusted God to choose Isaac’s wife.

2) They desired a woman who had similar values.

3) Isaac loved his wife and prayed for her.

Negative:

1) Rebekah played favorites with their children and deceived her husband into giving their youngest son the blessing, rights, and inheritance that normally went to the oldest son. As a result, Jacob (the youngest son) had to move far away from his family because his older brother planned to kill him in anger. (Genesis 27:41) Deceit took a toll on the entire family unit and on Isaac and Rebekah’s relationship.

Three things to take away:

1) If God plans for us to marry, he also has a mate chosen for us. If you’re single, don’t miss God’s best and the mate he has chosen for you. Pray for his guidance and ask him to identify that mate to you then wait patiently for him to reveal that person.

2) Place priority on someone who has similar values and lives by the same principles you do. This will prevent lots and lots of conflict in marriage.

3) Avoid deceit (both minor and major) because of the damage it causes. Relationships are built on trust.

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Aquila and Priscilla

Their story: Only positives!
Aquila and Priscilla were tent-makers (Acts 18:1-3) who had a mutual devotion for Christ. They sacrificed as a couple to support Paul’s ministry, occasionally accompanied the Apostle Paul as he traveled, and graciously opened their home as a “house church” for fellow believers. (1 Corinthians 16:19). Together, they taught the ways of God. (Acts 18:26)

Positives:

1) They courageously stood together to serve, sacrifice, and take risks as they worked to spread the gospel. (Romans 16:3-5)

2) They are a picture of the strength and power that comes from an “equally yoked” couple who live in “oneness” of heart and mind.

3) They had mutual respect for one another.

4) They are a team who complemented each other in business, in ministry, and in life.

5) As partners with a common desire to live in commitment and obedience to God, they worked in tandem to help others understand the truth about Christ, the ways of God, and the gospel message.

Aquila and Priscilla are an inspiration to me personally. Read the scriptures above and ask God to show you strengths that can be applied to your own marriage. One of the greatest strengths I see is a couple who chose to live in a completely surrendered relationship with God and committed themselves to God’s purposes. This cemented their relationship and created a synergy that caused them to have an extremely positive impact on the world.


5 jewels I gained from our speakers this week:

1) The way I relate to God affects the way I relate to other people – including my husband. If my relationship with God is strong and healthy, my relationships with others will be too.

2) Husbands and wives need to protect each other’s weaknesses and be strong where the other is weak.

3) Expectations are pre-meditated resentment.
4) Bounce your eyes. There are many beautiful people in this world. It’s okay to admire the beauty of God’s creation found in another person’s appearance, but don’t dwell and think too far. Move your eyes to something else.

5) All angry arguments have nothing to do with the situation but with my personal core fears.

I’m personally going to work on protecting my husband’s weaknesses with my strengths, getting rid of expectations, becoming more aware of myself and personal core fears that feed my anger, striving to respond rather than react in conflict, and memorize scripture that will help me focus on loving my husband in times when I want to change him.

Friends, I know this has been a long post - but it's necessary for my assignment. Balancing school and family life has been difficult - and the reason I haven't been posting as frequently. My goal is to post at least once a week.

I tell people all the time that this year I am sitting at the feet of Jesus learning from Him. When you arrive at The Warming House for the rest of this school year, you will most likely hear me share what Jesus has been teaching me through the institute I'm attending.

Hope life in your corner of the world is going well. Thanks for stopping by.

Because families are worth fighting for . . .

Lisa ~

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

How Can You Ease His Pain?

On the Wooded Path - Impacting the World with Compassion

When our middle child was in the first grade, his dad took him and his older sister skiing over the President’s Day weekend.  This was an annual ritual for our family; however, that year I stayed behind to care for our new baby. 

One day during their trip, I arrived home and checked our answering machine.  The caller ID showed a call from a hospital in Colorado.  Naturally, my heart panicked. 

I anxiously dialed the number of the hospital.  The woman who answered the phone told me that my son was there.  Without any explanation of his injuries, she casually threw out the comment that he wasn’t too seriously injured.  Then she put me on hold to ring me through to his room.  Those were agonizing seconds as I waited for the call to go through.


My husband answered the phone and explained that the ski shop had set my son’s bindings incorrectly.  They were too tight.  When our son fell on the mountain, one of his skis did not release.  He had spiral fractures in both bones of his lower leg.  Not good.  The bones were broken all the way through.  When I spoke to my son, it was very clear that he was in agony!  What made it worse was that I wasn’t there to comfort him.

My husband’s “vacation” became a trial as he took our son back to the hotel to care for him.  I called repeatedly throughout the day to check on him.  Each time, excruciating pain was evident in his small, quiet voice.  Later that evening there came a point when he refused to talk to me at all.  His suffering was so great that he couldn’t tolerate anyone even slightly bumping the bed, and he couldn’t talk on the phone – even to me.



Because of the distance between us, the only way I had been able to care for my son was through my voice on the phone. It was such a small, insignificant thing in light of his circumstances and was truly a helpless feeling. Now, even that tiny avenue of care was ripped away from me.  I was left with nothing.  No way to reach him. No way to help him. All I could do was pray . . . and rely on those who were with him on the trip to care for him in my place.  I prayed they would!! 

When Christ sees people suffer, his heart aches - just as I ached for my son; yet many people reject him in one way or another eliminating a point of personal connection. There is no way for him to personally reach them or help them. He then relies on those who are in the physical presence of the people who are hurting. We are Christ’s ambassadors and representatives.  As we make ourselves available to Him, the people of the world have the opportunity to experience the love and grace of the living Christ through us. As we care for others, we ease His pain too just as those who cared for my son in my absence eased mine.

 “The church, you see, is not peripheral to the world; the world is peripheral to the church.  The church is Christ’s body, in which he speaks and acts, by which he fills everything with his presence.”  Ephesians 2:22-23 (The Message Bible) 

 How does it make you feel to know that when you ease the pain of someone Christ loves, you are easing his pain too? As his ambassador, how can you comfort someone today?

Warming the World Together,
Lisa~

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Sharing Courageous

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http://www.courageousthemovie.com/

Fireside – Conversations by the Fire about Nurturing Home and Family

Each time I put up a post in the Fireside category, I close with Because families are worth fighting for. I believe in this wholeheartedly. Families are most definitely worth fighting for, and fathers are an extremely important part of the family equation.

Unfortunately, in our society today there aren’t many who are committed to fighting for the family unit. Many fathers do not recognize the critical importance of their role and the impact their involvement – or lack thereof - has on their wives and children. This fact is communicated in the movie “Courageous.” We went to see it last night. It’s one of the best movies I have seen in a long time. It made me weep, and left me wanting to clap and cheer at the end. This movie speaks a message that desperately needs to be heard by all daddies, sons who will one day be daddies, and by those who feel a stirring in their soul to mentor children whose daddies are not active in their lives.

The strong sense of ambivalence and lack of commitment concerning family has impacted our local communities, our nation, and society as a whole. Unfortunately, our kids have gotten lost in the process. They are the innocent victims. Listen to these statistics. (I’ve made some alterations to some of the words to prevent my blog from attracting the wrong traffic.)

10 million youth aged 12-20 have consumed alcohol in the past 30 days.
63% got alcohol from their own or friends’ homes.
Teens who begin drinking before age 15 have a 40% higher chance of becoming alcohol dependent than those who wait to begin drinking until the age of 21.
*www.centurycouncil.org/www.cafeprevention.org

22% of teens have given birth in their teens.
*NationMaster

20% of teens overall have posted n*de or semi-n*de photos or videos of themselves. It is common for those photos to be shared with others.
15% have sent n*de/semi-n*de photos to people they only know online.
39% of teens have texted s*xually suggestive messages while 58% have received s*xting messages.
*pcsnDreams

Average age of first internet exposure to p*rn is age 11.
93% of boys and 62% of girls are exposed to p*rn before the age of 18.
70% of boys have spent more than 30 minutes viewing internet p*rn on at least one occasion. 35% have done this more than 10 times.
*www.covenant eyes.com/www.internet-filter-review.toptenreviews.com

1 or 2 out of every 100 kids will struggle with eating disorders
*www.kidshealth.org

Teens cut (self-harm) to have control, relieve tension, numb out, and express anger.
1 in 200 girls have cut themselves.
*www.teenbreaks.com

Our children are completely at risk. They are being preyed upon everyday. They desperately need men of integrity who will rise up, fight courageously for their families, and make it a priority to be the best daddies they can be. If they did, many of those statistics would drop dramatically, our families would be stronger, and our world would be a much different place.



Please go see this movie and tell all your friends about it!

Because Families are Worth Fighting For . . .
Lisa ~

Monday, October 3, 2011

Design for Life



Mountain View - Stealing Your Breath With Views of the Heart of God

A week and a half ago, I traveled to Ozark, Missouri to attend my favorite women’s conference – Designed For Life.

Highlight video and info about next year's conference:
http://designedforlifeconference.org/


Standing near the front on opening night worshiping with 3,000 other women with eyes closed, I opened my eyes to see one of the lead pastors of that church standing in front of me looking directly at me. She touched my arm and asked, “How can we pray for you? God led me to you, and I want to know how I can pray for you.” How she saw me in that crowd of thousands, I do not know - or perhaps I do.

About a year ago, I became very intentional about finding healing from some extremely difficult challenges. Bitterness was not an option. I desperately wanted to be better and had been praying that God would remove all hardness of heart from me. In a year's time, I had made a lot of progress and actually thought I was doing pretty darn good. But when the pastor asked that question with genuine love, tears started to flow. She and another woman prayed over me and before going back up on stage she said, “Be all here this weekend. Be all here.”

When something like that happens, you begin wondering what God is up to. One of the things He showed me that weekend was that I had been holding a piece of my heart back from him. Now you have to understand that I have a fierce devotion to God and holding any part of my heart back was not like me – but he was right. I had been so deeply damaged that I had been guarding the deepest parts of myself from him. There was anger too because I felt he hadn’t shown up or defended us in particular circumstances. Making myself vulnerable to him (to anyone) again was a terrifying thought. I wasn't completely free yet, and was still in bondage to some pain.

Let me just tell you, God showed up in big, big ways that weekend. The speakers’ messages hit home - building upon each other and fitting together perfectly.  

John Lindell's (Lead Pastor) blog about this year's conference
http://johnlindell.net/?p=181


One of the speakers, Nancy Alcorn, reminded us that God has called us to freedom. She urged us to appropriate the truth of Christ's freedom in our lives, and to use our lives to draw attention to God - instead of using our problems to draw attention to ourselves. At the end, she asked us to stand if we would commit ourselves to embracing freedom and the future God has for us. I stood.

"He is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit." Psalm 34:18

God answered my prayers. My desire was for complete healing, and He knew exactly what was needed to move in that direction. He pursued me that weekend and helped me give my heart wholly to him again. I can tell you today, “It feels so good to be back home where I belong.” 

"I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh." Ezekiel 36:26



So here’s something for you to think about:

God's design for your life is wholeness, freedom, and fullness of life. (Deuteronomy 30:19; John 10:10; James 1:3; Philippians 1:6, Romans 8:21). Is there a piece of your heart that you're holding back from Him? Is there a place you're guarding? Can you admit to that today? How can you begin making your way home again? How can you get intentional about moving into the freedom, wholeness, and life He has called you to? Maybe for you it will simply begin with the decision to become better - not bitter - and to trust God to get you there.

"Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength." Deuteronomy 6:5

With Great Confidence in the Character of God . . .
Lisa ~