thoughts and words

Don’t be duped

The more I understand about feminism, whether it’s 1st, 2nd, or 3rd wave, the more obvious it becomes that it’s not compatible with God’s idea of femininity; nor is it actually about equality.  And when we’re raised in a culture saturated with a particular idea, it’s bound to permeate some of our views without us realizing it.

To see if a belief you have is rooted in feminism, you just have to contrast it to a principle that Jesus teaches, and see where it leads.  He tells us to use our whole minds in the course of loving him – perhaps part of the reason is so we don’t get duped like the small minded, weak-natured and spiritually dwarfed women that Paul wrote about.

Here’s an example of a feminist perspective that, in the past, would’ve appealed to my flesh and fed my victim mentality:

Generally, when writers write, they have a main idea called the topic sentence and they surround it with supporting sentences.  It’s the primary message an author wants to convey to the reader.

BUT, when it comes to the visual messages we find in images or memes, you don’t always plainly see what the creator of the message is actually conveying – there’s no topic sentence.  What you see are the supporting sentences.  Usually presented in a vein that’s catchy, rhyming, romantic or utopian – these are more like sound bites directed at the emotions.

This meme is really about  MEquality

It resonates with romantic feelings of freedom, independence and courage; while the undercurrent belies a truly immature definition of love.  Her claim is actually very self-centered.  It’s an outgoing sentiment that would be better spoken from her man to her or about her  – like in Proverbs 31, when the husband brags about his wife, “Baby, you rock!” (verse 28-29 – paraphrased).

– but what really ramps up the toxic, is the disguise.  It appears that her man is the object of her affection; that he’s the subject of her compliments.  But as you read through, it becomes clearer and clearer that her focus is on what she gets from the relationship.  She’s the focus – not him.

Could the Church say this of Christ?

Doubtful.  I think Christ wants to change and renew His bride; He wants her to grow up by, sanctifying her, by cleansing her by the washing of water with the word, to present her to Himself in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing, … she will be holy and blameless. (Eph 5:26-27)

Could the Apostles, who were the first members of The Church (and our example of how to relate in marriage) ever say this of Jesus? I don’t think so. He was training, discipling and even correcting them!  Christ found their behavior unacceptable.  Yes, He loved them unconditionally – but that didn’t mean He was going to leave them in the condition He found them in, rather; He was going to begin the process of changing everything about them through transformation by renewing […]. (Rom 12:2)

It’s more blessed to give compliments than to take them

A meme that would really uplift your man would read more like this:

It truly compliments my husband’s qualities, makes his abilities shine.  I’m able to do my part as a wife better because of him.  You can see the difference in the two mindsets by pressing both of them up against the verse, Acts 20:35; we’re reminded that, it is more blessed to give than to receive.

Guard your heart with vigilance

Living in the information age means we intake a lot of diverse data, and sometimes it’s tough to see just how anti-marriage (and anti-God) some of the relationship information is.  This meme might seem insignificant but that’s how it starts – one little meme, then another, and another – and before long you’re thinking, “Our marriage would be better if he would love me without restrictions — if he would listen to what I say and trust meMy life would flow easier if he would just let ME be exactly the way I am and want to be.”

And before you know it, all the problems in your life and marriage are because of your husband.  Nothing’s your fault, you don’t need to change anything – it’s him that needs to change.

The message of self-focus in this meme is actually pretty unhealthy for a wife to consider:

  • That the love she’s receiving has more value than learning to give love without restriction.  ~Titus 2:3-5
  • That the trust she receives has more value than learning to fearlessly give the gift of trust.  ~1 Peter 3:6
  • That the unconditional acceptance she receives has more value than learning to give unconditional acceptance without making demands. ~Ephesians 5:33

We’ve got to guard against little things that appear innocuous, but separate us from our husbands when they’re added up.  We need to trust David’s advice and refuse to take a second look at corrupting and degrading things. Of course, we are going to have deadly information come into our field of vision, we’re living in the world – but that doesn’t mean we have to focus on it and let it corrupt the view of our husbands.

If what you read, doesn’t lead you to give away the grace that Christ gave you, then it’s leading you to hold it just for yourself.  C.S. Lewis rounds it out nicely when he says,  “There is no neutral ground in the universe: every square inchevery split second, is claimed by God and counterclaimed by Satan.”

A 21st century paraphrase might read: There is no neutral ground in the information age:  Every book you read; every meme, illustration, song and movie you hear and see; every split second on a screen, is claimed by God and counterclaimed by Satan.  There’s no fence sitting, the Kingdom of God is either being advanced in you or you’re working to counterclaim it with Satan.

SOUL-ution

  • Don’t just believe it:  Know what it is, why and how you came to believe it and who lead you to it.
  • The grace of Christ is always the litmus test:  Does it lead you to give it or take it?
  • Do look to culture!  Sounds weird I know, but it’s a good place to start examination.  Although we might say, “I belong to Christ” – Do we look like Him or the current culture that surrounds us? Do we walk the talk of the world? Do our views conveniently couple alongside the world?

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Thoughts are the compass of your life

 For as he thinks in his heart, so is he. As one who reckons, he says to you, eat and drink, yet his heart is not with you [but is grudging the cost]. ~Proverbs 23:7

Just like the selfish person progressed in the direction of their thought pattern, we also will move in the direction of our own thoughts.  Happy thoughts progress towards better and miserable towards worse.

Nagging

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… the contentions of a wife are a continual dripping.

… better to dwell in a corner of the housetop [on the flat oriental roof, exposed to all kinds of weather] than in a house shared with a nagging, quarrelsome, and faultfinding woman.

… better to dwell in a desert land than with a contentious woman and with vexation.

… better to dwell in the corner of the housetop than to share a house with a disagreeing, quarrelsome, and scolding woman.

True, it’s hard to hear, but God told us for a reason.  I’m guessing it does more damage than we realize.  Nagging is hurtful to your husband’s ears and toxic to your marriage.  And probably doesn’t make God too happy either.

~   Let’s not be like that   ~

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Only Focus on The Good

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When the demands of a God-centered marriage contrast against the world’s view, our vision towards marriage in general, can become jaded.  When this happens it gets really hard to see marriage as a gift, much less be thankful for it.  The world calls our flesh to do what’s best for itself, to think of self first and to have its own way.

There is a temptation to want it now and to think we know what’s best instead of waiting for God’s plan to unfold. Remember, He said His ways are higher than ours and Jesus said His peace is different than the peace of the world.   Don’t look at a God-centered marriage with lenses that have been fitted to the world’s view.

When you find yourself in an emotional tight spot, sin crouching at the door of your temptation, resist the lure to think negative low thoughts about your husband.  Instead through gratitude and praise, elevate your mind to the higher things.

In their letter to the Philippians, Paul and Timothy tell them, and us, that we’ll do best by filling our minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious — the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse.

Be empowered by grace as you head into your weekend!

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POSSESSION (part 3) Courage to Possess

Possession Introduction here.  Possession (part 2) here.

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Who am I listening to?

Obstacles are about pushing past fear, and Satan knows this.  That’s why he spends so much time pushing the obstacle to block the blessing.  He knows that the more his voice focuses on the problem of the obstacle, the better chance he has of getting us to fold in fear of that obstacle.  It is simply a matter of time.  But, if we choose faith in  God rather than fear of  the obstacle, we become conquerors instead of victims.

Victim:  Fear of the obstacle

Fear is a parasite that feeds on your strength and releases toxin into your soul.  This toxin clouds your mind so you can’t think straight, and it has one purpose:  to mess with your emotions so that you end up with a victim mentality.
The Israelites learned about fear the hard way, remember?  The only ones who actually made it into Canaan were Joshua and Caleb … all the faithless complainers died (Numbers 13/14).  They were unable to conquer because they listened to the wrong counsel – the victims’ counsel.  It’s easy to recognize a victim mentality because their words always diminish.  The scouts themselves were terrified and the only way they could get the Israelites to embrace victim mentality was to convince them of just how impossible it would be to possess Canaan.  So, they gave a report that would distort the nation’s view of God’s power … the power that would have freed them to conquer as they chose obedience to God’s plan. Listen to the negative words that the spies used to cultivate fear instead of faith:

We can’t attack those people;

they’re way stronger than we are. […]

We scouted out the land from one end to the other—it’s a land that swallows people whole.

Everybody we saw was huge.

Why, we even saw the Nephilim giants.

Alongside them we felt like grasshoppers.

And they looked down on us as if we were grasshoppers.”

(Numbers 13:31-33)

 

This report was not only false – as it was directly opposite to what God had told them – but it was also malicious and designed to injure His reputation in the eyes of everyone.  The scouts slowly glided through the congregation of Israel whispering secretly to rally everyone against Joshua and Caleb.  It wasn’t that they lied, per se, they just capitalized on only one aspect of the situation.  It was slick and Satan’s fingerprint is all over it:  a lie by omission.  They told the truth, just not the whole truth.

Who am I listening to and what are they saying?

Conqueror:  Faith in God

Conquerors are people like David, Jesus and Peter. They have a power perspective not a victim view.  Goliath was a giant but David didn’t focus on that.  There were only a few fish and some bread, not enough for all the people, but Jesus didn’t focus on that.  Walk on water?  Impossible!  But Peter didn’t focus on that. (At least, not at first)  In Peter we see both choices stacked back to back.  At first he is fully engaged in the power perspective:

“Lord, if it is [really] You, Command me to come to You on the water. […] So Peter got out of the boat, and walked on the water.

But then his focus shifts to the victim view:

But then he saw [the effects of] the wind, he was frightened and began to sink […].”

Shifting our focus from faith to fear will always diminish us to failure.
Caleb displayed a power perspective by challenging the Israelites to ignore the spies, “Don’t listen to these guys, it doesn’t matter what the obstacles are, whether we are grasshoppers or not, it’s about who God is!  You are focusing on the wrong thing!  If we remember God and choose His promise … we are able.”   Caleb didn’t deny the truth of who or what the obstacles were, but concentrated on God’s supernatural ability instead of human strength.

Wrap up 

quote in textAll marriages face obstacles. Some are small and benign, and perhaps even laughable after some time has passed; and some are great offences that require everything you have in your soul.  It’s the greatest offences that bring greatest temptation to have our focus snatched away from the blessing and centered on the obstacle.
Listen to the voice you are hearing.  Really listen.  What does it say?
Does it say that your land of milk & honey is not possible because the obstacles and the giants are too big for you to conquer?  … too big for God to conquer?  After you listen to the voices is your attention drawn to the obstacle rather than God’s power and blessing?  How about the intent behind the voice?  Does it sound like the scouts – hopeless, weak and giving up in fear?  Or, does it sound like Caleb’s words – full of hope, strength and promise?
In the final analysis we need to silence the voices of the spies by listening to a Caleb; it is a voice that pushes through feelings of fear, with faith in God.  It says:  Don’t be afraid (John 14:27).  You will be more than OK (Rom 8:37).  Never, never,  NEVER give up. (ok, that one was Winston Churchill, but I believe he paraphrased it from Heb 13:5)

Who am I listening to

and are they a Caleb

encouraging me to courageously possess my land?!

POSSESSION (Part 2) Civil War Instead of Unity

You can find the introduction to the Possession Series here.

Isn’t it amazing how something can start out right and end up so wrong?  When the whole nation of Israel walked away from their captors into freedom, it seemed like the hard work was behind them.  But according to God’s plan, the work was just beginning.  As they journeyed through the wilderness they were a unit of one.  Up until now God had done it all. Up until now their oneness was assumed.  But things were about to change.  They would begin the work of possessing their own land.  Their oneness was about to be tested by their enemies.

Faith unites, fear divides

The Israelites were shown the good and the bad of this project.  Their enemies were threatening but God meant for this intimidation to unite them in their quest to conquer and possess the land He had given them: their  land.  Instead of being empowered by faith, they chose fear, and everyone except Joshua and Caleb saw only obstacles and none of the promise.  By focusing on the problems, these leaders played right into Satan’s sphere of fear and took down all the people with them!

Fear led the whole nation in the complete opposite direction of what God had said, “Scout it!  Conquer and possess it!”  They chose the advice of the majority  instead of obeying Joshua and Caleb, who were telling them what they already knew, “God is able!”

Satan got the dissension that he set out to achieve:  division among the nation based on fear.  Even though God had taken steps to show them the goodness and blessings before they began, they didn’t start out with the end in mind.

United in faith

There is a huge correlation here to our marriages.  We start out so right:  A wedding.  A celebration of Oneness and a promise of hope and faith.  But then life begins to happen, unity is stressed and tested and we turn against each other.  The natural contrast between male and female – which God intended to unite us as powerful allies against our common enemy – is turned inward towards each other.  Our focus is wrong:  We try to possess the wrong thing and use the wrong weapons against the wrong enemy.  We are blinded to the blessing that comes with the original purpose of marriage.

Satan’s strategy of negative focus in marriage will yield the same results as it did for the nation of Israel:   infighting to division.  Negative thoughts get stuck in our minds as we focus on difficulties.  Soon we think all the problems in our marriage are giant sized and unconquerable, even by God.  As our focus narrows into singular concentration, every little offence (real or imagined) is magnified into an impasse.  And Satan slips through the crack that we’ve opened and whispers:

  • “he always does this”
  • “this marriage will never change”
  • “there is no other choice
  • “there is no way this marriage can last”
  • “this is just impossible to live with”
  • “this just is not fair
  • “this is not right

Focusing on these obstacles causes them to grow, in our reality, turning them into mythic giants.  Soon the vision of your husband gets corrupted, which leads to a view of hopelessness in the marriage.  Losing sight of the blessing is a scary place to be, but the saddest part is that fear has replaced your faith in God’s power of healing and restoration.

Fear always begins in the mind. The heart ruminates on thoughts and finally gives birth to actions.  Can you see it?  It is exactly the same technique that Satan used with the Israelites!  It is a scare tactic meant to keep us away from our blessing.

Level headed faith

There probably is some unfairness in your marriage and probably some character traits or habits that are hard to live with.  Both of you are broken people living in a broken world; broken people are hurt and hurting people hurt others.

Don’t deny the obstacles that are obviously present, or the tribulations that come with an offence.  Rather, let faith lead your focus to the truth that overcomes obstacles.  Faith will encourage you to say, “I will go at once and possess my marriage of milk and honey, for I am well able to conquer any obstacle” (paraphrased for application).  Faith like Caleb’s enables us to look past the obstacles without denying their reality.  He didn’t disagree with anything that the scouts said.  He didn’t try to explain away any of the obstacles, argue the truth about their size, or deny that they existed.  He simply responded with truth:  Let us go up at once and possess it; we are well able to conquer it.

You already have been given a marriage of milk and honey. All that is needed is possession.

Wrap up

Is someone saying your husband is not good? (that’s a giant)  Is someone saying you have to leave your marriage because you have no other choice? (that’s a giant)  Or are they saying that your current situation is impossible to live in?  (yep, giant)

People mean well. They just don’t realize they are being used by the enemy to direct your focus onto the current obstacles instead of the blessing of the plan that comes after the obstacles.  Paul told us to keep our eyes on the prize and keep moving forward. We do that by laying aside the sin of fear and the comments of the nay-sayers, the bad reports.

A universal truth of God’s design is that whenever there is a wide opened door of opportunity, there will also be many adversaries.  Marriage is that open door of opportunity, so we can expect our Adversary to push back.  Let your focus pass over those giants, right into the promise that God showed you when you first met your husband.  Each obstacle you conquer will bring you closer to possessing a marriage of milk & honey.

 

From The Lemonade Stand – (Part 2 – The Sugar)

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Last post I generously shared my lemons, and I thank you all for your support!  But now it’s time to look for that sugar, the part that really completes the lemonade.  You can find the full sour from Part 1, here.

In Part 1, I ended with, “You can’t make lemonade without the addition of some sugar.  It’s the contrasting of the sour and the sweet that really bring this drink to life.  I already shared some of the sugar that came our way through our wonderful neighbours.  But there’s more – if I will open my eyes to see it.”

The first and foremost serving of the sugar is that our family is secure and intact.  Our children are safe in Saskatchewan, and we are safe in Alberta.  We are divided by seven hours, but in the larger scheme of life, seven hours isn’t that big of a deal.  This is a huge blessing that I need to show gratitude for every day, and one that is often overlooked.  I think our initial appreciation depends on our point of reference.  If you ask someone whose family is fractured or someone who has received a less-than-favourable medical diagnosis, they’ll tell you that family and health are everything.

The cooling system in the car:  Darrell is extremely knowledgeable when it comes to anything mechanical.  He knows exactly what a vehicle needs and how to install all the parts when they arrive.  His skill saves us a small fortune in the automotive area of our budget.  The parts did come in on time and have been installed, and our car is now back to good!

Rocky and Adrienne:  Pets bring a quality to a family that is almost too precious to speak of. We see through them an unconditional love and acceptance in action instead of words.  Any effort they need from us is just not comparable.

My new laptop:  There is a computer sales and repair store just down the street from Darrell’s apartment, so I took it there to see if I could get a diagnosis.  It took about an hour and a half, but although I fully expected to pay for his time, he said, “No charge.”  Thank you Arthur from VM Systems.  Your generosity is very much appreciated!  We had purchased the laptop from Staples, and even though it was past the warranty, they agreed to swap it for a new one.

And finally, when on my extended stay, I’ve discovered a great tea shop!  This is a big deal for me because I’m a hardcore coffee drinker.  I never, in a million years, thought I could ever enjoy a pot of tea the way I enjoy coffee … but now I do.  Thanks to Everything Tea and Gifts for broadening my pallet!

As you move into the Christmas season, which can easily become marked with pressure that can tempt you to be sour and frustrated, remember to let joy sweeten your interactions with people.

Thank you for reading Upwithmarriage.  

I pray the blessing of growth in your life and marriage, that you will aggressively pursue Christ’s love to feed your heart so that you can live the life of a lover.  I pray that grace and wisdom will increase with the strength of your stride as you move forward into 2014.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year

Darrell & Robyn