My Fitness

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

prayer guide (7 days to pray for your husband)

The importance of prayer.

This sounds like a plea from the
midst of a bloody battle that they
fear they might not it out.
If nothing else, prayer keeps your mind off things that aren't God.
It's really difficult to pray for people you don't like. Try it some time. Something like, "Dear God, please bless these persons. Renew them. Draw them closer. Save their souls." etc. Use their actual name. Your heart will soften toward that person.
Praying scripture is a sure way to get your prayers heard. Find a verse and pray it. You will learn Scripture in this way too.
Jesus prayed. He often left his followers and went to be alone to pray. He even prayed that there might be another way than being crucified to save us. Surely, if Christ can pray for another way out, we too can pray for another way out. And we should also pray that HIS will be done, not ours...just like Jesus prayed.
Prayer affects change. How many times when the Israelites were wondering in the dessert did they do some bad thing and God desired to be done with them but then "changed his mind" or relented when Moses appealed to him and prayed for mercy?
In this sermon from Gateway Church, Jimmy Evans talks about setting our minds free from the bondage of sin and Satan. He made several outstanding points. The sermon wasn't about prayer, but certainly not altogether a separate topic. Satan is actively trying to defeat you. It's a battle won in the spiritual realm. Combined with Scripture meditation, prayer is the best way to defeat Satan.

To summarize, prayer keeps us from idols, makes us loving, helps us learn Scripture, apply Scripture, be like Jesus, alters outcomes, and overcomes sin and Satan. Why do we not pray more often?

Aside from God's relationship with you, your spouse's relationship with you is most important.

I have done this prayer guide intending it for seven days. Use it as you are lead. Let me know if you were able to use it at all. The prayers are just suggestions. Feel free to use your own words. The importance is not in words but your heart. If your heart is hard toward your husband, you will find it soften as the week goes by. If you relationship is good, you will find it even is strengthened. I have found that most is applicable and convicting to myself as well, perhaps even others. So this isn't necessarily just for husbands even though it is centered around.

1 - pray for his relationship with God
     (Psalm 112:1Mark 12:30)
     Dear Heavenly Father, in your word you instruct us to love you with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength. Please work in my husband's heart. Have him devote all of his resources to loving you. Let him continually understand that he will not find fulfillment outside of you. You have also said in your word that we will blessed when we fear you and that we should delight in your commands. I ask that you would keep my husband's heart soft that he will delight and continually fear you. For his soul's sake, and for you glory. Amen.

2 - pray for his relationship with you
     (Ephesians 5:22-33, 1 Timothy 3:8-13)
     Heavenly Father, I have read in the Bible the great amount of responsibility you have placed on my husband, to lead, to serve, and honor me. I realize this is a difficult task to please both you and me. I ask that I would be able to help him in this task. Guide him to know how to lead, when to lead, to let go of his parents and cling only to me. I have also read what you require of deacons and as they are an excellent example I ask that you would work in my husband's life that he should be dignified and honest, loving and kind, and always be a godly leader of his household.

3 - pray for his relationship with others
     (Proverbs 3:4Matthew 9:38Matthew 25:35-40Mark 12:311 Corinthians 10:24)
     Dear God, I ask that you would bless him in his workplace that he would find favor and grace. I ask that you would use my husband as one of the sent ones into the harvest to spread your love and good news. I ask that you would use him to bless "the least of these" and so bless you. I would ask that you would stir in my husband's heart to love his neighbors and coworkers and so shine a light in their lives and to seek their good and well-being.

4 - pray for his mind his thoughts and intellect
     (Philippians 4Colossians 1:9, 1 Peter 3:8-12Romans 15:14, 1 Corinthians 8:1)
     Father in heaven, I ask that you would set before my husband thoughts of truth, and honor, and justice, and purity, and love, and excellence. Guard his mind in Christ Jesus. Fill him with the knowledge of your will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding. Give him unity of mind with you, and with me, and with all those of the faith. Give him a humble mind and a tender heart. Fill him with goodness and knowledge to humbly and lovingly instruct those you direct to ask him. But above all knowledge, I ask that you would give him love to build up those around him.

5 - pray for his physical and spiritual strength
     (Psalm 84:51 Corinthians 16:13Ephesians 6:10-20)
     Father God, bless my husband with strength found only in you. Make his body and spirit strong and healthy. Have him "act like a man" doing everything in love while standing strong in the faith. Have him be strong in the Lord and put on the full armor of God so that he can withstand all spiritual forces of evil.

6 - pray for his sexuality and temptation
     (Matthew 26:41, 1 Corinthians 6:18, 1 Corinthians 10:12)
     Lord God, I ask that you would keep my husband watchful that he would not fall into any temptation. Whenever temptation does arise, empower him to flee that place in his mind or presence. Let him stand firm and take heed so he will not fall.

7 - pray for his path in life and walk with God
     (Psalm 16:11Psalm 23:3Psalm 119:105Proverbs 3:6Romans 6:4, Romans 8:4, 1 John 1:7)
     Almighty God, I ask that you hand would guide my husband to the path of life and that he would never stray. Give him fullness of joy that can only be found in you. Lead him in paths of righteousness so others will rejoice at your name for his well-being. Light his path with your word and direct him to immerse himself in Scripture so his way will be lit. Have him acknowledge you in all things and make his path straight. Have him walk in the newness of life and according to the spirit so to draw others to walk with him. Have him walk in the light as you are in the light and let the blood of Jesus your son cleanse him from all sin. Amen.

This is a list of the topics covered above. Below it is a guide with verses and another one with journal entry space should you choose to go that route. Enjoy! I have no copyright on the Bible or prayers and would never be so arrogant to assume that because I arranged an outline that I do.

Print-friendly outline with verse references

outline with journal entry space

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

it is written: loving god's word (latest sermon from gateway church)

Usually I categorize sermons into one of three options, or it's just labelled "bad". My three categories are informative, encouraging, and convicting. Informative sermons tell me some piece of information that I didn't know before but are not specifically encouraging or convicting. Encouraging sermons are just what you would think: sermons that encourage me. And then convicting sermons are those that point out some sin or flaw or short coming that I had previously not noticed or trivialized.

This latest sermon though was all three. I've never heard this specific speaker at my church despite him being a key leader. He put pieces of information I had known independent of each other together. I need to listen to it again. It was rather convicting. I'm a complainer. Listen to the sermon and you'll hopefully see why it was convicting.

But even in the midsts of feeling convicted (convicted, not guilty) I was overcome with the peace that the Spirit brings knowing that I was covered in grace. Compelled to change for the love I have for God, I was encouraged by the very conviction that had been instilled. God corrects those he loves. I am loved.

I am loved.
Loving God's Word | Sermon | 1 | It Is Written | Marcus Brecheen | 02/01/2014
Marcus Brecheen concludes the It Is Written series with the fourth message, “Loving God’s Word.”

(I wish I could embed the file but I don't think it's possible.)
Here are my choppy notes:
Weakest in areas that I am most selfish. Temptation is a promise not from God ie a lie. Now look at James 1

The cause is idolatry. The effect is sinful desires. Which leads to death. 

Idolatry often begins when god doesn't do what we think aught to have been done.   

Do I want god or do I want what religion promises?

Convicting sermons are encouraging bc god disciplines those he loves. He hasn't given up on me yet. 

I know god doesn't want me to do this but I want to do it anyway. That is placing self above god. And is idolatry. 

Jude 21
Take your own notes here.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

controlling words

"...the impact of our spiritual life can be neutralized if we fail to control our words." (LUC, p94)

If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person's religion is worthless. (James 1:26 ESV)

Even a fool who keeps silent is considered wise; when he closes his lips, he is deemed intelligent. (Proverbs 17:28 ESV)

"If God is really at work in [Christian's] hearts, their speech will demonstrate His controlling influence. Religious words alone, without the Holy Spirit's presence within, are worthless." (LUC, p95)

My spiritual life can be neutralized if I do not bridle my tongue because self-control is of the Spirit and whatever comes out of my mouth proceeds from my heart.  What is deceptive about an unbridled tongue? I deceive myself by speaking truths without wisdom without grace without love.

How many religious people forget to speak with the sole purpose of glorifying God? Two people can share the same message; one in godly love while glorifying God and the other in self love and seeking their own glory. And perhaps there is a third type that has deceived themselves into thinking that they love God and yet they really only seek to be correct. Wanting to correct, to be seen as right, is self glorification.

It is possible that the most God glorifying thing a Christian can do is not correct another.

What should I do, then, if I meet a Christian leading what appears to be an ungodly life? There is still time. A new Christian, even an old one, can genuinely love The Lord and not be completely perfect. For me, the litmus test is, "do you desire to be obedient to all that God says?" It doesn't mean that the person is completely obedient yet. But as God reveals to that individual so he will begin to obey. No need to brow beat him...unless a special circumstance and prompting by the Spirit call for it. But my suggestion is that if you "feel God" is telling you to go around correcting people constantly, you are mistaken. Perhaps you think too highly of yourself. Wait to be asked. Wait to be drawn into their circle of trust. Wait until you are a friend. Wait until you actually love them.

Then open your mouth and speak wisdom with grace. Then you won't be deceiving yourself into thinking you are a special messenger. Then your words will not fall on deaf ears.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

reflections on humility

[Please read the with the idea that I am speaking to myself. Writing out my thoughts helps to form and clarify them. If there is anything here that edifies or encourages you, that's just an added bonus!]

For the month of January my church leaders wrote a devotional called "It Is Written." The main focus  of the devotional, and what I assume the leadership was hoping we would get out of it, was to learn Scripture. We had Scripture we were to memorize. We were taught to apply verses to our lives. And we were encouraged to meditate on Scripture throughout the day. I really enjoyed the structure.

One particular point that seemed emphasized or at least stood out to me was that when you meditate on Scripture you simply cannot meditate on anything else. This reminded me of a discipline I once practiced (and have since forgotten and should pick up again) of memorizing verses so that when my mind wonders or goes blank my thoughts will naturally float to verses instead of anything else less worthy. Do you ever remember a conversation and think to yourself, "I should have said this!"? You can't change the past; so why meditate on those memories that frustrate and anger you? Learning from mistakes is good. Plotting revenge is not good.

This idea on meditating on God's Word is repeated in my Life Under Control Bible study that I picked back up today. This week we are specifically addressing pride and self-esteem. "With your focus on the Holy Spirit, you don't have time to develop arrogance, pride and selfish ambition in your life." How can you better focus on the Holy Spirit but by memorizing and meditating on His Holy Word?

Philippians 2:3

Charles Stanley elaborates on humility saying, "Humility is quick to confess sin and slow to point it out in others." I've known so many Christians who have deluded themselves into thinking that they are somehow being loving by constantly telling people that they are in sin or wrong in doctrine or otherwise not true to the Word, and thus not truly living for God and perhaps not even a real them. These issues are "peripheral", not salvinic issues and are greatly a matter of opinion and interpretation. To claim total authority on the Word is arrogant in the most deluded way. If you say, "If this verse doesn't mean what I think it means, then I cannot believe the rest of the Bible either." that puts you as the ultimate authority, not the Bible, not God. You are in essence esteeming your view as higher than God's. This might be the ultimate arrogance. Instead, be like Wayne Grudem who has often said that he believes he's right, but it's possible he's made an error.

Then there's this idea, that I grew up with, that humility means never saying anything good about yourself. Whether it was an intentional mis-lesson or accidental, I had a definite confusion of what humility meant based on what my parents taught me. It also lead to a lot of other confused individuals in my life. I think the idea comes from Proverbs 27:2. But this verse doesn't mean to cover the truth by downplaying your abilities. It means don't be boastful. I am good at dancing. I am good at singing. I am good at math, science, and critical thinking. This is not boasting. This is not praising my abilities. This is not pride. It's simple fact. Pride would say, "I'm so good at dancing. You will never see a better dancer. When I point my foot, it's going to astound you!" Pride is bloated. Pride and arrogance are brothers.

Being proud in the Biblical sense is also not the same concept of taking pride in one's work. The word "pride" is not sinful. And yet I grew up around people who refused to say they were proud of their children. Why? Because they thought taking pride in their children's accomplishments and even congratulating them or complementing or even acknowledging their accomplishments was a form of pride and therefore sin. THIS IS RIDICULOUS. And completely not what the word means. Taking pride in your children does not mean you are arrogant about them. When written this way, the error in thinking is much more obvious. These two prides are different concepts.

Also, humility doesn't mean praising everyone around you. Humility doesn't flatter. I mention this because I recently saw a sermon online where the speaker seemed to believe he deserved better than what God had for him. Every time I see this man there always seems to be something off about him. He finally spoke the problem himself by admitting that he was still learning humility and that he was naturally quite arrogant and proud. I think it is wonderful that he is at least humble enough to admit he isn't very humble. But I feel, perhaps erroneously, that one does not learn humility by constantly flattering those around him.

But what do I know? I'm certainly not among the top 10 humble people. In fact, I doubt I know 3 genuinely humble people. I certainly can't think of anyone at the moment. It's ironic how those closest to me who think of themselves as humble come across as anything but humble. It was C. S. Lewis who noted that true humility is not thinking less of yourself but rather thinking of yourself less.

So, what to do about this? Meditate on the goodness of God. Reflect upon his mercy. Memorize those verses that speak on God's greatness and our smallness. Remember Job?  "Then the LORD answered Job out of the whirlwind and said: “Who is this that darkens counsel by words without knowledge?Dress for action like a man; I will question you, and you make it known to me. Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? Tell me, if you have understanding..." (Job 38:1-4 ESV) And so it goes on for quite awhile with God basically saying, "Excuse me? Who do you think you are?" And finally Job responds with, "Oops. I'll shut-up now." “Behold, I am of small account; what shall I answer you? I lay my hand on my mouth. (Job 40:4 ESV)
One final point is on the impossibility to be humble if you are insecure. Insecurities surround almost everyone. I recently received an apology for something quite harmless but it was immediately negated by the person's sarcastic remarks on how she's "so sorry" that this was even something she needed to apologize for. I didn't ask for an apology for anything. This person called me. A humble person would have apologized and let that be the end. But this person was obviously shrouded in insecurities and couldn't allow herself to be viewed as somehow less and had to try to knock me down to where she felt. (I just said, "oh ok" and hung up.)

When things like the phone apology happen to me, I try to take note of how the other person made me feel so as to not treat others in the same way. Sometimes I write blogposts because of how significant these events were. If I could go back, I wish I had shared Christ's peace with her. I wish I could tell her that she didn't need to be insecure about what people think about her. God is the only person she ever need please. She doesn't need to worry about how I view her. And as I think of this event it reminds me to be patient, kind, and loving.

I'm much more quick to apologize to people, to ask forgiveness, and to admit mistake now than even just 6 years ago. I'm extremely grateful for friends who allow me to be contrite and love me through my humbling blunders. Also, I'm grateful for my husband who has inadvertently taught me that arguing is pointless: either I'm wrong and should stop talking, or the other person is and they will not be drawn to sense so leave them alone. The third option is that the other person will be drawn to sense, but that takes patience and wisdom both of which I often lack and thus only engage in these type of arguments of more serious matters.

In summary, be humble. Also, thanks, friends, for allowing me to make a fool out of myself even while you love me through and through.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

gently loving my 3 year old's horshit

This morning hit me hard. My entire body ached. I'm getting quite the upper body workout from Holly's constant need for attention, even in her sleep. And it seems my older two sons, especially 2 year old Micah, have suddenly developed a need to be held all the time too. In addition, we just put up a baby gate to keep the boys out of the kitchen which seems to be a disguise for my lower body workout. Thus, today I feel like I've been working every muscle group much more than I ever intended this early in postpartum recovery.

I'm sore.

I'm tired.

And after breakfast Caleb wanted something called, "Horshit." While it sounded like he was walking around cussing, I decided there must be something that he is simply mispronouncing. Being rather tired for the above noted reasons, it took my entire will-power to not simply blow him off as crazy. I was also really curious as to what he was talking about.

He was pointing to a cabinet.

Several attempts were made to get him to clarify verbally. All failed.

I lifted him over the baby gate and ask him to show me what he wanted. He walked directly over to a certain cabinet that has nothing of interest to him. He pointed and emphatically expressed his desire for "horshit." That's when I realized his meaning.

Previously, during the Christmas season, I had a bit of a chocolate habit that sustained me. Chocolate-chip cookies, chocolate bread, chocolate candies, chocolate chips without cookies, Kisses, M&Ms, Snickers, it was all welcomed and enjoyed. The last candy we had in the house at that time were Chocolate Kisses. And we kept them in the very cabinet that Caleb was pointing at.

"Do you want Hershey's Kisses?"

Yes, that was it. He was saying, "Hershey."

Too bad, kid. We don't have any. And that's when the fit started.

Normally when I'm this tired, my inclination is to walk away and ignore him. Perhaps lock myself in my room for awhile. But not today. Today I decided that I would put forth more effort despite lacking the necessary energy. Why? Because I love my kid and he deserves a better Mama.

I've been reading how ignoring a child has the same impact as physical injury. Then this morning I read a post on Facebook by "The Way of the Peaceful Parent":

I expressed to Caleb how I understood his grief of not getting his way. It must be very upsetting to not get to eat chocolate (I definitely understand THAT). Unfortunately, there simply is no chocolate. So I cuddled him in my arms in bed and gently stroked his back - his fav.

He was calm. He was still angry, but calm. And eventually he gave me kisses and told me he loved me.

THAT would certainly never have happened if I punished his poor behavior choices. Gently loving him took A LOT more effort. Peaceful discipline took A LOT  more time. My head hurts. My eyes are burning. My body feels like it ran into something. I was nauseated and gagging on nothing for some unknown reason (now presumed to be a certain pollenating tree allergy common in North Texas at this time of year). I was up until 1:30 with Holly and up again at 4:30. I'm tired, possibly exhausted. This was monumentally more effort than I ever desired to put into parenting.

Sincerely by God's grace alone and His on-going work within me, I tried to love my son the way God loves me. Gently. Peacefully. Not through coercion. Not through fear of punishment. He still didn't get what he wanted. But I didn't lose my temper. Nothing escalated. I didn't get angry at my 3-year-old acting like a 3-year-old.

Life, after all, is hard when you can't eat all the chocolate whenever you want to.