Sunday, February 21, 2010

The cure for mouth disease

I have a friend who’s been known to pray, “Lord, put a guard over my mouth, and if that doesn’t work, use duct tape!”

As of right now, I am making that my official prayer!

Lately I’ve had a series of episodes with diarrhea of the mouth. Even though I could sense the Holy Spirit saying, “Be quiet! Don’t say that. Stop right now,” I persisted in saying what was on my mind.

And do you know what? Every time I’ve done that, I’ve made things worse, not better.

Nothing good can come of disobedience.

So I’ve repented — more than once — but it’s obvious I need some medicine for my mouth disease. Isn’t it a good thing I just happen to know the best doctor in the world?

I started by examining my motives and noticed a strong tendency to want to “straighten people out” when I think they’re wrong or to defend what I believed was right. This revelation was followed by an image of the Lord Jesus facing accusers and would-be attackers. I noticed two ways He responded. First, when Jesus was tempted by the devil in the desert, He responded with the Word of God. He didn’t argue or try to convince Satan that he was wrong; He simply said, “It is written …” (Matthew 4:1–10).

Next, when testimony was brought against Jesus as He faced the chief priests and the whole Sanhedrin, He remained silent (Mat. 26:63).

As always, Jesus is our perfect example.

Instead of rushing to defend myself or to explain to someone why they’re wrong, I need to listen to the Holy Spirit when He says, “Hush.” Saying nothing can be so hard, but leaning on His strength, I can do this.

And, if the Holy Spirit should give me license to speak, I need to put aside my own inclinations and speak God’s Word into these difficult situations.

Given my record, the cure may not be instantaneous, but I know that with time, practice and lots of prayer, God is going to cure my mouth disease.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Easy to love

In an age of “looking out for #1,” power struggles in marriage are too often a couple’s demise, and divorce is the tragic result.

God has the perfect plan for how we ought to treat one another in marriage, but one area in particular seems be a source of controversy. From my experience of talking to other women, especially young women, Ephesians 5:22 is a verse that tends to make many of us uncomfortable: “Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord.”

I suspect the verse has been abused and misunderstood by a good number of men over the years. I also suspect women’s changing role in society has made submission a dirty word in any context.

But let’s skip over to verse 25 of Ephesians 5: “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her.”

God makes a great demand on men in regard to how they treat their wives. Stop and think of what God is requiring from husbands.

If a man loves his wife the way Christ loved the church, his love will be sacrificial, meaning he will put her needs before his own. He will attend to her welfare at all costs. He will always do what is best for her. He will build her up through encouragement and want to see her content and joyful. He will provide for her and protect her even to the point of giving his own life!

Wow, if a man loves a woman like that, I can’t imagine that submission would be any big deal. After all, a husband who loves his wife like Christ loves the church is not one who is going be harsh and cruel or make unreasonable, selfish demands on her, right?

God’s plan for marriage is that it would be two people “submitting to one another in the fear of God” (Eph. 5:21). His plan is that marriage would be a beautiful representation of Christ’s relationship with His bride, the church. His plan, when a husband and wife cooperate with it, means that love will last a lifetime.

Knowing versus believing

My dear husband has spent the past week dealing with some dental issues and a lot of pain. How sad that Doc Dave was on vacation during our tooth emergency!

I chided my husband for neglecting his teeth and letting things go until there’s a big problem. I believe in the importance of preventative dental care and think a person should go in every year for a cleaning and exam.

But wait … when was the last time I’ve been to the dentist? Hmmm, it’s been going on three-and-a-half years according to my calculations. So the question is, do I really BELIEVE this, or is it merely something I’ve been taught, acknowledge is true, but haven’t fully committed to the idea?

Judging by my actions, perhaps the latter is true.

There’s a difference between knowing something and truly believing it, isn’t there? Genuine belief will change our way of thinking and acting in the world.

As Christians we need to evaluate our stated beliefs against our reactions to life’s circumstances. How often do our actions and the words of our mouth negate what we claim to believe?

Do we state, “I trust God to meet all of my needs” one minute and then turn around and say, “I’m never going to be able to make that payment” the next?

Do we say, “I know I can trust my loved ones to God’s care” but then fall into a panic at the first sign of a fever?

Do we declare, “I’m going to back off and let God to handle this situation” only to continue spending hours trying to figure out ways to fix it ourselves?

We can know about God and acknowledge His existence, but true belief in Him manifests itself in trust – in faith.

God gives us faith (Romans 12:3b), and like the muscles in our body, every time we choose to exercise that faith it grows bigger and stronger. If I never trust God for anything but continue always trying to operate in my own strength, controlling everything myself, my faith will not grow.

Remember, “Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Rom. 10:17). So if you want to strengthen your faith muscles, fill up on the Word of God and then put your faith to work!