Tuesday, 31 July 2012

Praying... again!

You shall pray for your husband...

“Never stop praying…”
1 Thessalonians 5:17

 For the MARRIED ladies – this is something we touched on during the week, but it is so important that we start to systematically pray Scripture over and for our husbands. They need so much protection and encouragement. This isn’t something that we are just glibly pray ‘help him Lord’ (although I’m sure that works just fine too!) but something that we should take joy in praying knowing that when we bring our husbands before the Lord He will answer our prayers. There is a 31 day programme for praying for your husband at a great wee site called Inspired to Action. My challenge would be for you to take the time to go through this and if you aren’t already doing it, take the month of August to totally focus on praying for him.

For the SINGLE ladies – obviously we talked about this on Friday when I wrote about the concept of praying for your future husband. If you haven’t read the post it can be found HERE, and my challenge to you is to start to really intentionally pray for your future spouse. And if you want to get the book and read it, I would still love a review!!
Keep shining... J

Monday, 30 July 2012

Focus on God.

This week we’ll be working our way through the ten disciplines so let’s get started!!

You shall centre your life on the Lord…

Whether you are single or married, this is always going to be the top priority, no matter what area of life we are looking at. There is definitely a common thread running through the book’s discipline chapters!! We need to constantly make sure that we are putting God first.

“Jesus replied, “‘You must love the Lord your God
with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’"
Matthew 22:37

For MARRIED women – I know how easy it is to slip into the way of putting your husband and your children before God. It creeps up on you as you start to do prioritise time to do things for or with them, rather than spending time in God’s Word, or how Sunday becomes family time so you don’t want to take away from that by going to church. But the only way that we are going to be able to fully function as wives and mothers, is if we keep on re-evaluating this area and always striving to make sure He is number one.

For SINGLE ladies, this is no less important. You may not have a husband and kids to put before God, but how many times have you compromised your beliefs to go somewhere with friends or do something in order to get that guy to notice you? And if you aren’t in that category, bow many times have you focused so much on doing things in church and being that helper that everyone can rely on that you forget that you are doing it for God and not the congregation? There are so many traps to fall into, things that we can put before God without even realising it, that we need to be ever vigilant with this.

My challenge to ALL of you this week is to truly put God first. Get up each morning before your day begins and spend some time dedicating your day and your life to Him. Doing it first thing will help to centre your day firmly on the Rock, even if you only manage 5 minutes in prayer before you get out of bed!

Sunday, 29 July 2012

Praying for your future husband

I have to admit that this isn’t something I thought about much before I started thinking about this series. I always assumed that my little prayer of ‘Please God, give me a Christian husband’ was enough. But my eyes have been opened and I have a couple of great links for you.

As Christians we pray about everything… or at least we should!! So why should this be any different? We pray for our jobs, our friends and our families, our homes…. and if you are anything like me you pray details!!! When I pray for my job  or my kids I go into tremendous detail in my conversation with God – telling Him exactly what I think He should do, before obviously leaving it with Him!

But when it came to wanting a husband, I honestly thought my simple prayer was enough. I didn’t think it was right to give God a list of everything I wanted in my husband – because let’s face it, at that time in my life my faith wasn’t what it is now, and I probably would have ended up praying for specifics like brown hair, nearly 6ft tall with blue eyes!! (Yep – that describes my hubby to a tee!!)

But when I read a few blog posts and really thought through the Proverbs 31 list of what a virtuous wife is like, I began to wonder what you should be praying for when it comes to praying for your future husband. I began to think about all the qualities I wanted my husband to have,  apart from having a strong faith and a desire to serve God first – but even those are things to pray for.

I truly do believe that this is one of the gifts you can give your future spouse, if you end up getting married. I read one story of a woman who was woken out of her sleep one night with a sense of urgency to pray for her future husband because she felt he was going through something important. So she stayed up all night praying for him. What an experience! I’m not sure what I would have done in the same circumstance, but this lady prayed earnestly for him all night long. When she finally met him and they were dating, he happened to mention that the previous year he’d been in a terrible car accident and had been at death’s door. Amazed she asked for the dates and yes – you’ve guessed it – that was the very night she had spent in prayer for him!! WOW J

And I have heard other stories with a similar point. Praying for your future husband can make a  big difference and have a huge impact on his life – whether you know it or not! A wonderful lady that I know even had an experience where she cried out to God asking him to make her someone’s angel – because she wanted to serve God in that way. When she eventually met her husband-to-be he told her that he had prayed for God to send him an angel… the very same night!! I cried when I heard that! It truly is amazing what God can do in your life and in his when you pray like this.

I have a wonderful programme that I use that has been written to encourage women to pray for their husbands, but while this would be helpful to pray for a future spouse, I’m not sure it’s exactly right for it. But I have had a book recommended so I’ll give you the link for that as well as the original plan. I don’t usually recommend books I haven’t read, but it came recommended by someone I trust, so read it at your own risk!!

The original prayer plan can be found at inspiredtoaction.com under the resources area. Kat has lots of other great tutorials and ebooks, so her site is well worth a visit. And the book is called ‘Praying for your future husband' and is written by Robin Jones Gunn and Tricia Goyer. They inspire you to pray:

  • …for His Heart
  • …that He Will Be a God Lover (a lover of God)
  • …for Patience
  • …for Understanding
  • …for Trust
  • …for Loyalty and Faithfulness
  • …for Strength
  • …for Protection
  • …for Intimacy
  • …for “The List” (the list of things a girl wants her future husband to be)
  • …for Contentment
  • …for Commitment

Sounds good? This is definitely one that I’ll be looking out for so that I can read it too!! So my advice is to think seriously about bringing your future spouse to God and praying for him. Maybe you’ll end up with one of those lovely stories to share later in life, to inspire the next generation to pray for their future husbands too. And if not, then you definitely will have made an impact in his life, because we serve an Almighty God who always listens when we pray, and always answers us, one way or another.

Let me know if you get the book and maybe you can do a wee review on here for us!! For the next two weeks we’ll be looking at Elizabeth George’s ten disciplines for maintaining a meaningful marriage, but each day I’ll have a little thought for you guys too!

And until then keep shining… J 

What will really help our husbands?

When I thought about this last session, I wanted to finish with something that we all need to do in order to help our husbands, in a way that only we can… SEX!! I get quite embarrassed talking about sex so you’ll be very glad we’re having this conversation over the internet and not face to face!! I probably am the same colour as strawberries right now! J

A couple of years ago I was able to attend a fantastic conference – Intimate Issues – based on a book of the same name and run by its authors Linda Dillow and Lorraine Pintus. It was fantastic. Most of the two days I spent enthralled by their messages and the rest of the time I spent in tears. I had never ever thought of sex in the way that they talked about it. I never realised what a gift it is.

As I grew up in a Christian culture, I was taught that sex was something you did only in the context of marriage… which of course it is… but the manner in which I was taught this made me come to the conclusion that sex isn’t necessarily something to be enjoyed but something that happens when you’re married, or something that always looked good and perfect on TV (in the clips I caught when I wasn’t supposed to be watching them!!)

Linda and Lorraine had a totally different view of sex and I will be eternally grateful to them for coming to do that conference as it really opened my eyes to how I alone can help my husband in this way.

In the book they give us the reasons that God created sex. Of course they start with the obvious reason – for CREATING NEW LIFE. This was really what I thought was the main reason, and then after that you just did it because your husband would probably want it!! I really was terribly stupid!! J

Yes, God gave us sex so that we could create new life and have beautiful children, like my four wonderful boys, but He also gave us the gift of sex for so much more… I want to just give you some verses and thoughts on each – because they changed my thinking and I hope they challenge yours.

God gave us sex for INTIMATE ONENESS. There is no greater way that you can truly connect with your husband than when you are being intimate. It is just such a special, private time that you can’t help but become closer. As Genesis 2:24 says

“This explains why a man leaves his father and mother
and is joined to his wife, and the two are united into one.”

The very fact that sex is a private thing between a man and a woman, means it can really help to close off any interfering voices that may try to control or mould your marriage, and makes it truly yours.

God gave us sex for KNOWLEDGE. No-one can know your husband as well as you do. And that knowledge can be a powerful thing, especially when we look at the next three reasons. In Genesis 4:1 in the NKJ version we read

“Now Adam knew Eve his wife, and she conceived and bore Cain,
and said, “I have acquired a man from the Lord.”

God also gave us sex for PLEASURE! Yes it’s really true – God really wants us to enjoy our marriages and created this wonderful act so that we could enjoy each other in every way. I don’t really need to go into details here (I hope!!) but there are so many verses in the Bible dedicated to it that I think it may an important point to note!!

“Drink water from your own well—
share your love only with your wife… Let your wife be a fountain of blessing for you. Rejoice in the wife of your youth.
She is a loving deer, a graceful doe.
Let her breasts satisfy you always.
May you always be captivated by her love.”

Proverbs 5:15,18-19

God gave us sex as a DEFENCE AGAINST TEMPTATION. This reason is one of the most important of all. You all read Cindy’s story the other day – unfortunately our husbands are fallen men, designed to react to what they see and be excited by visual things. Temptation is all around them. We live in a world where people don’t care about what they wear or how they act and the effect it has on those around them. So we need to make sure that our husbands’ needs are being met by the one person who can meet them properly – his wife. Life is tough for our men, ladies, so let’s try and make it a little easier by being a little more understanding about what they are going through and how we can help them.

“But because there is so much sexual immorality, each man should have his own wife, and each woman should have her own husband... Do not deprive each other of sexual relations, unless you both agree to refrain from sexual intimacy for a limited time so you can give yourselves more completely to prayer. Afterward, you should come together again so that Satan won’t be able to tempt you because of your lack of self-control.
1 Corinthians7:2,5

And lastly, God gave us sex for COMFORT. This was definitely something new for me to think about, and yet it makes perfect sense. When your husband is upset, worried or anxious, the one thing that he wants is to relax, and the best way to help him do that isn’t a nice manicure and massage like you and I would enjoy, but to make love to him and let him relax in the way his body knows best. This isn’t rocket science – you all know what I’m talking about – the lovely way our husbands like to fall asleep as soon as it’s over!! It works and God created us to be able to comfort them, and vice versa, like no-one else on this planet can. David and Bathsheba are a perfect example.

“Then David comforted Bathsheba, his wife, and slept with her. She became pregnant and gave birth to a son, and David named him Solomon. The Lord loved the child”
2 Samuel 12:24

So those are the reasons God created sex. I’m nicely embarrassed sitting here, but I know how much these ideas helped me to embrace the gift that God has given us, and I pray that you will find the same insights. Just before I stop – there is a great ebook that has crossed my path as well that I thought I’d let you know about. It’s called ‘The Good Girl’s Guide to Great Sex’ by Sheila Wray Gregoire. It is good for everything from your wedding night to getting the spark back (apparently - I’ve not read it all as I just got it!).

So I hope that helped you if you needed help, or just reinforced what you already knew! Next week we’ll start having a look at the ten disciplines needed to maintain a meaningful marriage. So why not take the initiative this weekend and surprise your husband with a little fun for one of the reasons above!!

Until then keep shining… J

Saturday, 28 July 2012

London 2012 Olympics

I was hoping to sit down and write out my final two posts in the ‘Managing your Marriage’ section last night, but I got totally waylaid watching the opening ceremony of the London 2012 Olympics. It was amazing! We actually ended up watching it until the speeches section and then taped the rest!

My favourite bits included the formation of the Olympic rings, the music montage, crying my way through ‘Abide with me’ and of course the athletes arriving. All the outfits made me smile – from the tribal dresses, grass skirts, Italy’s  Armani, the US’s Ralph Lauren and the handbags and heels from the San Marino girls, everyone made an impression. That is always such a special time. Everyone gets their time to shine, proud to be representing their country, determined to do their best and achieve all they can achieve. Not only will they bring glory to themselves if they win a medal, but also to their country as every medal is celebrated and every achievement written into the history books.

It just reminded me of why I write this blog. My dream and my goal is to help women to learn how to shine, bringing glory not only for themselves, but for the God of all creation. I want to encourage ordinary women to shine where they are, helping them see that God has placed them in that exact spot for this exact time and to see that, as it says in Esther, they were born ‘for such a time as this’. I want to help anyone who happens upon this to see Christ in it and to want to know more about Him, and to realise that through it all, my goal is ultimately to bring Him glory, honour and praise.

God sees everything we do – whether that’s something remarkably special like winning an Olympic gold medal or whether it’s a little more mundane like making sure your family (or just you!) have clean clothes for the day ahead – and He knows what our heart condition is like when we do it. We need to make sure that everything we do is for Him.

'And whatever you do or say, do it as a representative of the Lord Jesus,
giving thanks through him to tho God the Father.'
Colossians 3:17

And when we do, He remembers and will reward us. We may not get a gold medal here on earth, although with every Olympics I start to dream of suddenly ‘finding’ my sport and winning gold at the next games… {sigh}… but if we live right, in the centre of God’s will and follow His commands, we’ll get something even better for all eternity.

So until then, keep shining girls… J
(And if that happens to be in Armani or Ralph Lauren or at the Olympic Games, then be sure to shine a little brighter!!)

Friday, 27 July 2012

How far is too far?

Today I wanted to address one of the hardest topics for single Christian women – sex and how far is too far… And I wanted to explain the BarlowGirl firsts!! I have a lot of links in this post because there are just so many people who have written about this far better than I ever could!! And I apologise if it’s a bit mixed up – I just wrote my thoughts down!!

In a world that is so focused on getting what I want when I want it and with making myself happy before everything else, sex has become something to be used to gain pleasure in the moment and something that can be given away with no very little thought of tomorrow. I don’t agree with this at all. Someone once told me that every time you have sex with someone you give a little of yourself to them that you can’t ever get back. Is it worth it – for a moment’s pleasure? I really want to encourage you to really think about this in light of eternity. God designed sex for the context of marriage – to be a beautiful thing that enhances your relationship in a way that nothing else can.

If you haven’t yet had sex I would encourage you to keep going and keep looking on your purity as a gift. It is such a beautiful thing to be able to give your husband on your wedding night, but it will be tough to get there without facing some sort of temptation.

And if you have had sex before – don’t worry!! You can draw a line in the past – because that’s where it is - and start afresh in God’s power and love. Every morning He gives you new mercies and new blessings, and you can wake up this morning as a new creation in Him. Your purity can begin again right now, keeping yourself accountable and pure for the future, whether you get married or not. For some this will be a harder task than for others, because sex by it’s nature is something that is enjoyable and can be addictive (especially with the right person – and that is meant to be your husband).

So if you aren’t supposed to have sex before you get married, then how far is too far and what are you supposed to do? Girltalk have a great blog post here on building relationships with guys before you get to the dating part. They write:

“Until a young man had expressed an interest in us, Mom helped keep our feet firmly planted on the ground: "Think of him as someone else's husband," she would say. "You wouldn't consider it appropriate to daydream or fantasize about a married man. And most likely, this guy you like will be married to another woman someday. Assume he is not going to be your husband unless he makes his intentions known."

That is such a wonderful way of looking at it. I know I would never have looked twice at a married or attached guy when I was dating, so to view a friend as that instead of as a potential husband leaves you free to pursue a friendship and a getting to know each other time, before moving into dating. And this is where BarlowGirl come in. I have followed them for a while now, and found this interview with them where they discussed why they don’t date. They don’t date at all – and one of their reasons is that they only want to date their future spouses. They want to be able to give their future husbands gifts that are special – their first kiss, their first date, their first dance… all because they won’t ever have done these with another guy.

Most of us will have passed this stage long ago – but I challenge you to think about it and from this point on change the way you view dating and how your life now will impact your future spouse’s life. It really does make a difference.

And if you are someone who is starting to feel a little ashamed because of past sexual sin or a past relationship where things went too far, then stop right now! All God wants is for us to bring these things to Him, to confess them and to leave them with Him. He loves us and forgives all of our sins – including those we’d rather forget about or that no-one else knows. A friend of mine sent me this song and I cried when I listened to it. We have so many things that we do throughout our lives that we aren’t proud of, but the minute you give your life to Him, God only sees our righteousness through Christ. We are more than the choices we have made, more than the sum of our past mistakes… we are remade.

So I would just challenge you. If you have to ask the question ‘how far is too far’ you’ve probably gone too far already. If you feel ashamed of your past or of mistakes you have made, spend some time confessing them, then rise a new creation with a new future and new goals. And if you are living a life that is pure and holy then keep going, but don’t get too complacent as temptation will be waiting round the corner. Our God is here to help and to be our strength when we are at our weakest, and I know that He is there right beside you as you made these decisions in your relationships.

A final word from Jeff Bethke – this is well worth a listen too…

Keep shining…  J

Thursday, 26 July 2012

When I just don't love him anymore...

I think this is one of the most dangerous misconceptions about marriage – the thinking that marriage is about and is based on your feelings of love for your husband. It relies on the fact that you are desperately in love with your husband (and you probably are at the start!), that you will stay desperately in love with your husband for all time (maybe, maybe not!) and that you will never ever reach the point where you don’t feel the same way…

I don’t believe this happens for a second! That might sound strange, but let me explain. As I have pointed out in the previous points, our marriages are made up of two people who are only human and therefore are sinners. There will never be a partnership between two humans that doesn’t break down at some stage or have a bump or two. It doesn’t have to be a major bump, but there will be a bump.

But it’s NOT whether or not you have bumps that’s important. It’s how you handle the bumps when they come. If you are relying on your feelings to get you through, then you may be in for a nasty shock. Take the story I told you yesterday – I think if Cindy had relied on her feelings to get her through her husband’s betrayal the marriage might well have ended there and then. And I know of lots of couples that have hit a road block, realised that they’re life isn’t as rosy as they thought and given up because ‘I just don’t love him anymore’.

Love is not about feelings. Love is a choice. You may be getting a pattern here!! So many things in our marriage are choices that we need to consciously make to realise the dream of a marriage that is God-centred and that works.

As many people have found, one day in your marriage you may wake up and feel a little more disillusioned than usual. It may be that the normal routine and family life is wearing you down and making you feel extra weary, or it may be a traumatic incident between you and your spouse, or it may just be that you have stopped trying and given up.

I know, for us, that when I wake up and think ‘oh no’ to another day, or when I start to pick holes in everything my husband does its usually based on one of two things. It’s either because I have been reading too many romance novels or I have let my desires and my selfishness come to the front of my thinking.

Romance novels are great for a wee bit of escapism but I find, in my life, that when I spend more time focusing on them than I do on focusing on my marriage I begin to feel very discontented. I begin to wonder why my husband isn’t like the hero in the book, or why he isn’t showering me with diamond rings or romantic holidays to Bali! I wonder what it would be like to get someone new (who of course needs to be very rich!) who would truly treat me like a princess and not expect me to spend all day doing laundry or making dinner. I begin to dream about what my ‘other’ life would look like.

But ladies this is NOT right!! It may be ok to escape into the story of a book, but if you start imagining your life as that, and getting discontented with what you actually have, it’s a recipe for disaster. How many affairs and divorces start because it looks like the grass is greener somewhere else? You imagine your perfect man – like Ryan Reynolds in ‘The Proposal’ – but, as I read in a blog post somewhere, even Ryan Reynolds isn’t Ryan Reynolds!! The real Ryan isn’t like his character in ‘The Proposal’ – that is a made up fantasy man written by a very good writer… where the real Ryan has just the same problems as everyone else, including a failed marriage behind him.

But the other reason for my discontent is the one that has the potential to hurt more and do even more damage. That is the one where I have let my selfishness and my desires come to the front and am looking at everything in my life from a ‘ME FIRST’ attitude. And this will never work. Being selfish is the single biggest reason for divorce and separation… why? Because every other reason boils down to this – I want it.

You may not agree with that sweeping statement, but take a minute to think about it. If we let our selfishness out, then we start forgetting that we have been created as a helper for our husbands, and we start demanding that they treat us like princesses, and not in the good way. We expect them to meet our every need or desire, complain when they don’t and we can make life very uncomfortable for them if they aren’t on the same page as us. Let’s face it girls – as women we are very good at getting what we want… but is that actually what we should be doing?

My opinion is this. We need to take a moment, put God first and realise that we have started to do things wrong… again… We need to confess this, and for this I love to write it down, rotate it by 90 degrees and write 1 John 1:9 across it…

“But if we confess our sins to Him, He is faithful and just
to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness.”

…and then burn it as a symbol that my sin is no more and that God has forgiven me. Then we need to go and have a wee chat with our husbands. It is always a lovely gift to them when we can go and say we’re sorry, that things got on top of us and that we want to help, follow, respect and love them as we should.

Love is a choice not a feeling. Even on the days when love seems very far away and you think you’ll never feel that way about your husband again, believe me when I say that I have seen marriages transformed, just by the women CHOOSING to love their husbands no matter what. When you decide this, and spend time each day asking and pleading that God will help you love him, that love will return and your marriage can work.

“Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.”
1 Corinthians 13:4-7

Keep shining… J

Wednesday, 25 July 2012

Can I date someone who doesn't believe?

Speaking to the lovely single ladies I know, there are many questions go through your mind when you think about dating, so we’re going to look at a couple.

·         Is it EVER alright to date someone who isn’t saved, even if he’s religious?

·         How far is too far?

·         And what did you mean about the BarlowGirl’s firsts?

Today we’re looking at the first one, tomorrow we’ll look at sex and the single girl and we’ll look at what BarlowGirl does that is so special on Friday. (I know I said I was going to talk about it today, but today’s topic is just too big!!) We’ll also talk a little about prayer.

So back to today… I am going to start with the BIG one. Is it EVER alright to date someone who isn’t a Christian? For the purposes of this post, I am talking about someone who hasn’t accepted Christ as their own personal Saviour and who isn’t growing daily in their walk with God. Someone who is ‘religious’ still hasn’t the same faith as you unless they have taken that step – no matter how many times they go to church each week.

I know I may antagonise any of you who either have done this or are doing it at the moment, but I am going to just come out with it – NO - it is NOT ever alright to go out with someone who hasn’t got the same faith and relationship with God as you. Let me explain my thoughts.

One of the best books I ever read was a book called ‘I Kissed Dating Goodbye’ by Joshua Harris. This is a book that really challenges your thinking on whether you should date at all, but one thing it did do for me was to make me think of the consequences of dating for the sake of having someone. At that point in my life I had just broken up with a long term boyfriend (yep and he become… my hubby!) and I was starting to lament that I would be on my own forever and that no one would ever love me like he did. I started thinking about all the places I could go and all the parties I could attend to try to find someone new – and honestly, at that point, anyone would do. How wrong I was! I never actually got to any of the wild parties – we went on holiday and I bought the book to read while I was away – and that book really challenged my thinking.

Well, the guy who wrote the book – Joshua Harris – answered this question in such a good way in a sermon that he gave on ‘What it costs to follow Christ’. This is what he said…

“Because of the topics that I’ve taught on in the past and the books that I’ve written, there have been so many occasions when I have encountered young men and women who are in a relationship with a person that is not a believer in Jesus Christ. And this seems to be in particular young women who will come, and they’ll talk about their desire to live for Jesus and to give their life to Him. But there’s this guy in the picture. And there is a relationship that has been formed, and there are affections, and there is a growing love for this person. But this person is going in the opposite direction from their Savior. And they’re often confused, and they’re often distraught and they often don’t know what to do. And when you quote the passage about not being ‘unequally yoked’--this kind of picture from agriculture and cows and stuff, just really isn’t doing anything for them. ‘Yoke. Cows. What? He’s so cute--what does that have to do with a cow, you know?’ And they’ll often have a desire to try to care for this guy. They don’t want to hurt his feelings. They think they can reach him with the gospel, and they’ll just stay in this relationship.”

“And what I say each and every time is: ‘You’re facing a choice. If you are truly a follower of Jesus Christ, then you must choose Jesus and you must turn your back on that guy. In fact, if you have a desire for him to see the reality of Jesus Christ, the most loving thing that you can do is show him that you are more committed to Jesus than you are to him. If you want to show that guy that God is real, then obey the God who is real and choose Him over this relationship –with a person that doesn’t know Him, doesn’t follow Him, doesn’t obey Him. Those are hard words, but those are the words of Jesus.’”

I don’t know how much simpler we can put it. If you really and truly want to follow Christ with your whole heart and live for Him alone, then you are going to have to make the choice to put aside your feelings and your desires and turn your back on anything and anyone that is going to hinder your walk with God.

I know that this can be a very hard thing, especially if you have been dating someone for a long time. But this is the only way to go. If you do continue the relationship and end up getting married then you have a lifetime of compromising your beliefs to fit in with your husband’s non-belief. It may just start with him getting annoyed at your going out to church things, but when you have children you then have to decide how to bring them up, and as a mother, if someone told me I couldn’t introduce them to God and show them how important He is in my life, I would be devastated.

You are probably thinking ‘you’re just trying to make a point and things wouldn’t be that bad’ but I can honestly say that out of every relationship between a Christian and someone who didn’t have the same faith that I have seen, none of the women have been able to pull their husbands up to their faith… and worse, most of them have been dragged down and now have no faith at all. There are, of course, exceptions to every rule, but do you really want to live your life hoping that you are going to be that exception?

Just think about it like this – if you start to go out with a guy who doesn’t have the same faith as you, there will always come a point when he doesn’t ‘get’ why you need to go to yet another meeting or go to do a particular job or why you won’t do a specific thing in your relationship… and if you manage to get through the dating to the marriage without this, then you will be living out the story of the two builders – building a house which cannot be built on the rock totally because both people don’t believe that. You may be building on the rock, but your partner is building on sand and a house divided cannot stand.

There is a very good reason why so many people in your life have told you NOT to date non-Christians. It is because they don’t want to see you hurt when the inevitable happens. If you really want to live for Jesus you have to put Him first. And that means that you have to make a choice between your boyfriend and Jesus… and you MUST choose God.

I hope you understand that this is just as hard to write as it is to say… but it’s a truth that must be shared. Jesus wants all of you. Every single part. I really do pray that you will understand that I am not judging any of you, but hoping to encourage you that if you do have a big decision to make, that you will take the time to talk to God, that He will give you the strength to make the choice, and then that you will choose God. He is the one that makes life worth living and I promise you that if you honour Him in your relationship choices, He will truly honour you.

Keep shining… J

PS – the sermon by Joshua Harris can be found at  HERE  and it is well worth a listen! And thanks to girltalk for the transcription of Joshua's sermon.


I hate to have to address this issue but unfortunately we live in a broken world full of marriages where both parties are sinners. That’s life. Both you and your husband were born with sin in their lives, and even when we have come to Christ and asked Him to forgive us, we are only human.

So we need a plan when we think about our marriages. We need to think about what we can do when we hit the inevitable bumps in the road, and how we can still glorify God and our husbands through the trials and pain.

The thing I want to talk about today is forgiveness. This is a BIG topic but one I feel is paramount to whether our marriages survive or not. It is too easy to get out of marriage these days – not emotionally, but physically. All you have to do is see how quickly Katie Holmes left and divorced Tom Cruise earlier this summer. It seemed to happen in a heart-beat, although I’m sure she put hours of thought into it before the actual end.

Things are just so easy to stop and start these days. There is no focus on making things last or of saving things – whether that’s material things or a marriage or relationship. The question we need to ask is whether we want to go along with the world’s view or go to God’s view.

Marriage is difficult. Things go wrong. These things may be relatively small – like things getting on your nerves or hurting you – or they may be big – like abuse or cheating. Let me remind you that I am not an expert and if you have either of these things going on in your marriage, I would advise you to seek help from a Pastor or counsellor. These things are too big to be ignored or pushed under the carpet.

I have been reading a lot of books and blogs about marriage recently, and I came across a story which totally touched my heart. I am of the belief that people can change and that everyone deserves a second chance… and yes maybe a third one or a fourth one too. The Bible teaches us that we are to forgive those who do wrong against us – and just because you are married to him, and he does more against you than anyone else, doesn’t mean he isn’t deserving of your forgiveness.

Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times...”
Matthew 18:22

Let me tell you about this lady. Her husband was a worship Pastor in their church. Behind her back he had been sleeping with women in every area that they had lived and worked. Behind her back he was lying and cheating. And not just once…. The only reason that she found out was because the last lady he slept with found out she was pregnant.

Take a minute to think about that. Your whole life is in front of people – the people in your church, the people in the community, and all those people who just love to pull Christians and their faith down. And you find out that your husband is a serial adulterer. And is about to become a father again.

I cried my eyes out when I read her story. And my first reaction was that she needed to throw him out. After all that’s one of the few reasons we are allowed to divorce, right? But then I cried even more when I read her journey of forgiveness and acceptance. I know – when I first heard about her story (before I read it) I thought –‘How could anyone be so stupid as to keep him? There is no way he deserves a second chance! She’d be better off without him’ But as I read it God spoke through it and I can totally agree with her decision to keep her marriage, forgive her husband and let God be glorified in whatever happens next.

Don’t get me wrong - forgiveness isn’t forgetting. It doesn’t mean that you condone the person’s actions and it doesn’t mean that you just brush it under the carpet and go on as if it never happens. True forgiveness takes place more easily when you can see genuine repentance and when you can see that the person is broken by what they have done, but true forgiveness can also happen when that isn’t the case. True forgiveness is a God thing.

Just think about Gordon Wilson who openly forgave the terrorists who had killed his daughter Marie in the Enniskillen bomb. He didn’t need their repentance or their confession. He didn’t need to come face to face with them or have it out with them or have them say how sorry they were… or make things right. He just needed God. God helped him to find it in his heart to forgive them.

We have a choice. Whether your husband cheats on you or just annoys you by leaving his dirty socks on the floor every night – we can choose to forgive him or not. But be aware – this will not be an easy thing. It takes lots of prayer, lots of patience and lots of God-given strength. But you can get there and I have heard of lots of marriages that have been restored after such incidents, through God’s love and power. Don’t give up. It can work for you too.

The one thing I would remind you however, is that if you decide to forgive your husband it does mean that that subject is NOT to be brought up in every argument or row you have for the next twenty years! We need to be humble in our forgiveness.

‘Humility isn’t thinking less of yourself
It’s thinking of yourself less.’

It will never work if you keep bringing up the gentle reminder that you forgave that horrid thing he did every time he does something you don’t like! I know it will be hard – we’re only human after all – but I promise you that when we follow God’s Word and really practise forgiveness in our lives (and marriages) God can do amazing things.

Just read Cindy’s story for yourself.  Her story has written in a book but it is also on her blog. The link takes you to a page where some of the posts are. http://cindybeall.com/?s=chapter+2&submit=Submit&paged=6

I hope you can get some encouragement out of this and not think about the doom and gloom of a situation where all is going wrong. Forgiveness is a choice. It’s a choice we can make, and as God is our help and our backbone, we can get through anything and come out the other side bringing glory, honour and praise to Him. It is possible. Not only have I read about it, but I have also seen it happen.

God is an amazing God and with Him all things are possible. Take some time and think about what God can do in your marriage if you let Him. And let me know what you think…

Keep shining… J

Singleness... a blessing or a curse?

So you are a Christian single lady …but is it a curse or a blessing?

Over the next couple of days we’re going to be looking at how to live life as a single in a world where Christian women are all expected to want to be wives and mothers. That may still be your ultimate goal – to find your very own Prince Charming and have a brood of little princes and princesses – but until that happens how do you live life to the full?

It is natural to struggle with being single when we have been brought up with films like Cinderella, Beauty and the Beast and Snow White – films where the girl always overcomes trials and heart-ache to get her prince and live happily ever after. We’re brought up to believe that anything is possible, that the maid can get her prince and that the ultimate goal of every girl is to get married and have a family.

But what do we do when life doesn’t pan out like that and when we end up without a boyfriend or husband, never mind the lovely house filled with perfectly behaved children?

I want us to first turn to God’s Word. It really doesn’t matter what anyone tells you, but when you can see things straight from God’s Word it helps us to realise that this is another issue that God is passionate about and really does care about.

In 1 Corinthians 7 Paul explains that for him singleness is best – and you can clearly see how God uses him through this time. He is able to get up and go on all the missionary journeys that he does – he is able to travel freely without the responsibility of family making him think twice. Basically he was free to serve God wherever God led him.

Of course when you are married you are still free to serve God – it just usually occurs in a different manner, but we still serve God as He commands us to and hopefully our lives bring Him just as much honour and glory. But I think for this topic, Paul explains it best later in the chapter.

“This is what I mean, brothers: the appointed time has grown very
short…For the present form of this world is passing away. I want
you to be free from anxieties…And the unmarried or betrothed
woman is anxious about the things of the Lord, how to be holy in
body and spirit. But the married woman is anxious about worldly
things, how to please her husband. I say this for your own benefit,
not to lay any restraint upon you, but to promote good order and to
secure your own undivided devotion to the Lord” (v. 29-35).

As a single woman your main job is not to be thinking and dreaming of what life is going to be like when you find a man and get married… your main job is to figure out how to bring God honour and glory through the way you live your life to the full NOW. This is a time when you need to get your priorities sorted out – with God fully number one – and figure out what being a daughter of the King really means.

Take it from an old married woman – the more time and effort you put into figuring this out now, the easier and better your life will be, even if you do end up with the husband and kids! This is YOU time. This is time for you to really focus on your relationship with God and figuring out what He wants you to do with your life. You don’t have to worry about a husband or children or maybe even a house or a job – each of you will have a different set of circumstances… but the main thing is that you use this time to grow in your relationship with God.

One of the biggest things that I regretted from my life before marriage was that I didn’t do this. I didn’t use the time to focus on me and God – I was much too focused on what my life was going to be like… in the future. I didn’t take the opportunities laid out in front of me to spend time in prayer and study, in going to different countries to serve God in different ministries, or to spend time helping in church, when I was the one who could have. One friend I have has been away on mission trips over the last three that have changed her life. Not only is she totally focused on learning more about God, but she also has a mission focus to her life that is inspirational. And another friend spent a summer listening to a different sermon each morning as she ran, and then was able to spend the rest of the day meditating on Scripture. It is amazing what you can do when you don’t have to worry about others!

But time is short. We don’t know how many days we have left on this earth – everyone’s lifespan is different but also every day brings us closer to the day when the Lord will come back. So is it not so much more important to be focused on Him than on a fictional wedding day and plans that may come under the ‘what if’ category?

I want to encourage you. This is a season in your life and like any season it will pass. If you spend this season getting frustrated and dating anyone just to have a boyfriend (we’ll talk about that tomorrow) or dreaming the days away you can’t live in the present and not only will you miss the opportunities God has for you to serve Him, but you also may miss the person God has for you because you’re too busy looking in the wrong places at the wrong people.

And if you are destined to remain single, I do believe that God will give you a sense of contentment and satisfaction about this. I have a friend who is now in her 50s and, like Paul, she prayed that God would take away the desire to get married if she was to remain single… and guess what – He did! He won’t torture you with dreams of something that isn’t meant to be. He is a loving God and once you figure that out, and really truly give your singleness over to Him, He will help you through it and either give you a sense of contentment or help you to wait in patient surrender to Him.

So it really isn’t a case of being a blessing or a curse. Its about bringing glory to God, honouring Him with your life and taking the most of every opportunity He passes your way. Tomorrow (or maybe later today because I know this is late!!) we’ll have a look at the whole dating thing – is it ok to date someone who isn’t a Christian? Should we be dating at all? And we’ll be looking at what the Christian group BarlowGirl have to say about firsts…

Intrigued? J I’m fascinated to know what you think so please do give me your input as I write. After all I am an old married woman now so if you don’t agree with something let me know!!

And above all things… keep shining J

Tuesday, 24 July 2012

God's Four Words for Wives

This morning I want to have a wee look at the four roles Elizabeth George identifies for us as wives. Now I’m not talking about roles as in jobs – I had a good laugh when I read somewhere that a wife is supposed to be a cook, maid, saint with the children and something different in the bedroom as well as countless other things all at once… but thankfully that’s not what we’re talking about today!!

We’re going to look at “God’s Four Words for Wives”– to help, follow, respect and love our husbands. It is amazing how much power we women have when it comes to our husbands – and this can be a good thing or a bad thing.  We have the power (because they love us) to persuade them to live right or wrong; to do good or evil; to live for God or against Him. Don’t think so? Just thinking about this - it was the power Eve had over her husband that persuaded him to eat the apple and we all know how that ended and it was the power that Esther had over the King that helped to save the all the Jews in the kingdom! It may not be right – but we all have a certain amount of power and its how we use it that matters.

As Christian wives we should be aiming to be the best wives that we can be in order to help our husbands become the best husbands they can be. We want to truly embrace God’s roles for us in order to help both us and our husbands become the women and men that God created us to be – the best versions of ourselves. We should long to encourage our husbands in all of their lives, but most especially to lead them to Christ every day and to do everything we can to encourage their relationship with Him to blossom.

So we’ll start with HELPER.

Genesis 2:18 seems to be the best place to start!

' Then the Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone.
I will make a helper who is just right for him.” '

God created us to be a helper to our husbands. This is such a privilege. We will talk on Friday about the most special way we can help them (blush!) but for starters we need to be able to grasp this. We were CREATED to help them. I know of plenty of wonderful Christian women who love God and love their husbands, but act as if it is their husband’s role to serve them, cherish them and basically do everything that they ask! I even heard of one the other day (online) who will ring her husband at work if she’s not feeling great (and we’re talking slightly unwell here) and ask him to come home to look after the kids while she rests!! While there may be women who need a little more help from their husbands for medical reasons, this isn’t the way it was designed. WE were created to help HIM!

Of course it is a partnership and of course we are equal – but this verse makes it clear why we were created and I, for one, love the fact that I have been created for a purpose – to help my husband in every way I can and to bring glory to God in the process.

The second word we’re going to look at is FOLLOW.

We as wives need to follow our husband’s leadership and while this is against everything the world of feminism tells us, it is something that God asks us to do.

Ephesians 5:22-24 tells us to…

“For wives, this means submit to your husbands as to the Lord.
For a husband is the head of his wife as Christ is the head of the church.
He is the Saviour of his body, the church. As the church submits to Christ,
so you wives should submit to your husbands in everything.

So while we are in a partnership and while we are all created equal, in marriage we are called to submit to our husbands and learn how to follow his leadership as he follows and submits to Christ. This may be a hard thing for us to do – especially when the world is still encouraging women to take control of their own destinies, but I think that women really do misunderstand the word submit. This is not about handing control over to a dictator… it’s about handing your life over to your husband in a way that tells him that you trust him completely to make the right decisions for your family and then standing by him when he does. You don’t have to agree with every decision either – you can tell him your views and your concerns, but you have to trust him enough to make the final decision, trust him enough that he has made this decision with God and trust God enough to be able to help you to stand by your husband in that decision. All-in-all it is an amazing gift to give your husband. And when you think he’s getting it wrong – you pray! (It really works!!)

Following on from that is to RESPECT your husband.                             

Respect is what a man craves – where we as women crave love. If you think about how important it is for your husband to tell you and show you how much he loves you, then you’ll see how important it is that we figure out how to respect our husbands and how to show them we respect them.

“However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself,
and the wife must respect her husband.
Ephesians 5:33

Obviously respect is something that is earned – and if you have had something happen  in your marriage that has destroyed the respect you once had for your husband, then I would either talk to your Pastor or minister, get some good Christian counselling or spend time praying that God will restore this for you. I am not an expert on any of this so please – if this is you, do get the proper help you need. It will be worth it in the end.

For most of us, we respect our husband but don’t always show it. Elizabeth mentions three quick ways we can show our husbands respect.

·         Look at him whenever he is talking to you

·         Never talk about him – EVER – speak only words of blessing about him to others

·         Ask him – whenever you have ANY decisions to make – ask him for his opinion before you answer.

Little things that can make a big difference – they help us to respect him more and to show him how much we respect him.

And the final thing word is LOVE.

Titus 2:4 says

“These older women must train the younger women to love their husbands and their children…”

Ladies, it is obvious that this is something we need to do, but let’s face it – sometimes it is hard to truly love our husbands. Things go wrong. Life intervenes. They fail us – they are only human after all. They hurt us or make decisions we don’t agree with – and we huff or puff or generally make life difficult trying to get them to change their minds.

To love him is not a feeling – it’s a decision that we must make every day. We’ll talk about this a little more later in the week, but here are a few ideas Elizabeth mentions in her book.

·         When he is sad, cheer him up

·         When he is noble, praise him

·         When he is generous, appreciate him

·         When he is talkative, listen to him

·         When he comes or goes, kiss him

I hope I haven’t bored you all and that you can see how we can really change our home lives by giving love, respect, submission and help to our husbands. I have a lot of fantastic links for this series so I’ll post them on Saturday so that you can have a read round some much more godly women’s blogs and thoughts.

Until then why not try some of the ideas above and keep shining… J