19.2.14

Unexpected Blessings



Ruth 3:10

“The Lord bless you, my daughter,” he replied. “This kindness is greater than that which you showed earlier: You have not run after the younger men, whether rich or poor.”

Boaz wasn’t a handsome young Prince Charming. He was a kind man who noticed a foreigner working in his fields with his servants. He fed her and told his employees to be kind to her also. When she followed her mother-in-law’s instruction to visit him later at the threshing floor, he was happy to see her.

Boaz saw her beauty when he noticed her in the field. But he had to come to realization that she was his happiness. She made him aware that night when she came to see him that having her for a wife would be pleasant enough.

Sometimes it takes a man a while to see that honoring a woman and being respectful are just the first steps in a long-term relationship. Usually a man is focused on his business and has to adjust his perspective to see what God has given him.

It is so beautiful when a family comes together. Many times that blessing blooms from the seeds of honor and respect.

12.2.14

Waiting for the Day


Genesis 29:18 
Jacob was in love with Rachel and said, “I’ll work for you seven years in return for your younger daughter Rachel.” 

Talking to Rachel’s dad, Laban, was tricky for Jacob. Isn’t it always nerve-wracking for any guy to talk to his potential father-in-law? But Jacob figured Rachel was worth whatever he had to do to win her father over.

Jacob and Rachel had a long love story. He had to be patient. He had to work to earn the opportunity to be her husband. This reminds me of a few movies I’ve seen. It’s a common theme in romantic movies. Sometimes love isn’t simply a date/proposal/wedding situation. There is usually a lot to overcome before the marriage can begin.

So how do we spend our time while we’re waiting for that next step, the wedding? Jacob stayed in close connection to his beloved Rachel and her father. When he finally married her, all that waiting time seemed to be a distant memory. Isn’t that how it is when you’re in love?

Time floats away on clouds when you’re in love.

I’m sure this is because God is bigger than time. God invented time. He allows it to seem different to us depending on our perspective. Lovers see time one way, but employers see it another way. Children think three months of summer seems like years, but the parents experience it as just weeks.

Even the decades on the earth that we call our lifetime are just a small part of the timeline that God sees. Our time perspective changes according to what we focus on. When we focus on God and his will, our chances of seeing the big picture improve. Focusing on love helps us to be more patient and more generous with those around us.

Have a happy Valentine’s weekend, and thanks for seeking God with me.

5.2.14

Keeping the Marriage Together


Esther 1:12
But when the attendants delivered the king’s command, Queen Vashti refused to come. Then the king became furious and burned with anger.

Let’s say you’re a wealthy and generous king who has spent a lot of time sharing the wealth of the kingdom with the people of your city. On the last night of the banquet, you want to show off not only the beautiful things of the kingdom, but also the beautiful people of the kingdom. The first person who comes to mind is your wife, the queen. You send someone to get her so you can brag about how beautiful the queen is.

However, she rejects your invitation to appear at your banquet. She’s having a little banquet of her own and won’t leave her party to join yours.

First, it’s bad form to disobey the king. Second, it wasn’t like you were asking the queen to come clean up all the empty beer bottles. You simply wanted to impress your friends with the rich treasure of beauty found in the kingdom. You were asking her to be adored by her fans. And third, you were concerned about the possibility of her banquet turning into a man-bashing party after she refused to leave her friends.

You knew something had to be done to prevent the spread of the disease called disrespect, so you asked a friend for advice. He said to replace her with someone more deserving.

Today, that’s called divorce.

Sometimes we don’t see that coming. We don’t see the little hints that we’re headed in the wrong direction in the marriage. Both spouses feel they deserve better, but each one isn’t willing to accept that change must begin with himself or herself.

The best way to keep the marriage together is romance.

I don’t mean buying gifts for each other. I mean the humility of romance. Having consideration for the other person must be at the forefront of the relationship. Each must honor the other. Romance always begins with one person being kind and thoughtful. When one is energetically and enthusiastically helpful to the other, having listened to the needs before jumping into action, the other one usually reciprocates.

Romance is always give and take. You are patient with their faults, and they’re patient with yours. You celebrate their strengths, and they celebrate yours. When each one shines the spotlight on the other, selflessness takes a bow. When you shine your spotlight on yourself, selfishness starts a storm of greed and self-destruction.

In the first chapter of the book of Esther, Queen Vashti was shining the spotlight on herself. With that bright light on herself, she couldn’t see well. The bright light in her own eyes blinded her to what could’ve been a marriage-affirming moment. Instead, she let her lack of humility steal not only her position as queen in a prosperous kingdom, but also her position as wife of a generous man.

Queen Vashti was a beautiful woman. However, if the beauty is only skin deep, it’s forgettable.

Marriage requires both spouses to think of the other person’s needs. You can keep your marriage as your happy place if you stay in the humility of romance.

29.1.14

Songs of Gratitude


Colossians 3:16
Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts.

Do you sing around the house as you do mindless tasks? Some people sing or hum as they fold towels, sweep the floor, or set the table. There is a peace around those people.

However if someone is distracted from a contented peace by hatred or greed, they usually don’t sing. I hear others singing a light-hearted song more often than I hear them singing the theme from Jaws. A contented person sings peacefully.

If you like singing around the house, then it makes sense to “Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things,” as it says in Colossians 3:2. It is so much easier to have that contented peace if your mind is set on heavenly things. When we get bogged down in the depressing details of earthly things, it’s harder to focus on helping others. That’s when we lean towards selfishness, rather than selflessness.

Setting our minds on heavenly things is a choice we make. If we make that choice often enough, it could become a good habit. Like making your bed first thing in the morning, it becomes easier and comes more naturally with time. At first, you may have to set up reminders for yourself to help you continue in those positive decisions.

If there is more time spent encouraging others, there is more peace to enjoy. The more peace, the more opportunity for the music of gratitude in our lives.

Thanks for seeking God with me.

22.1.14

Songs of Joy



Psalm 126:2

Our mouths were filled with laughter, our tongues with songs of joy. Then it was said among the nations, “The Lord has done great things for them.”

I remember singing “Bringing in the Sheaves” when I was growing up in church. I found out that sheaves were the cut and bound grains that were brought in from the field at harvest time. Several of my great-grandparents were farmers. They knew all about waiting for the harvest, wondering if all their hard work would pay off. Psalm 126 tells the story of farmers rejoicing at harvest time.

People who work in fields of grain (farmers) feel joy when their crop comes in and gives them a good payoff. All during the growing season, they had to protect their crop from its natural enemies: bad weather, drought, insects, disease.

Likewise, people who work in fields of spiritual rebirth (pastors, missionaries, Christians world-wide) feel joy when they see the harvest from the seeds they’ve sown. They’ve prayed over their seeds that God would protect their growing season and allow a good harvest. When they see the person who had been captive to sin making the decision to hold onto God’s hand and trust him for their rescue, they are filled with more joy than the farmers experience.

Songs of joy are a natural response when a period of waiting is followed by good news. How many times have you heard a loud “Hallelujah!” as if someone was at a Handel’s Messiah sing-a-long, only to discover that the person had just received good news?

We train our children to say “Thank you” when someone does something good for them. Singing a song of thanksgiving to God is so easy. He’s always listening.