Spiritual Lessons in Gardening

BottleBrush

God has a funny way of inserting important lessons into our lives in the most intriguing ways. I had such an experience recently when I ventured into the wild abyss that is my untamed garden. When we first moved in, our entire yard was a mess; but in my usual overly eager and optimistic attitude, I thought “Sure, I could get that all done in a day!”. After finishing cleaning up and pruning just one tree, a lot of time had passed; it was a hot sunny day, and I needed to rest. Well, my garden sure showed me!

But what was most interesting about my endeavour, was the actual pruning experience itself. The tree has been here a long time. The outer branches and twigs were relatively healthy, but had some dying parts attached to them which were also large. Cutting through them was extremely difficult; it was almost like there was a bit of fight in them. It reminded me of the ‘healthy’ sins in my life – the seemingly little things I sometimes do because it’s convenient, or faster, or serves some ulterior selfish motive.

As I moved on from the outer branches towards the deeper parts, I had quickly developed scratches and grazes on my arms and wrists (I was wearing gloves which covered my hands, thank God). The inner dead branches were small, and so of course I assumed they’d be easy targets for my tools given their long-time wear and tear and small size. But, yet again, I was proved wrong. The branches on the inner parts were very strong, and very hard to cut through. I had to clamp down, twist, pull and basically wrench at the tree to prune it; it was hard work, and my arms bore the marks of my labour.

As I came to the end of the heated struggle, I looked to the ground to see the treasure of my efforts; a huge pile of cut away dead branches and twigs, no longer serving the otherwise healthy tree which now stood more beautifully before me. I remember smiling as I realised this is probably similar to what it’s like for God when He prunes us. The surface, or spiritual issues and sins may not be strong, but we give a lot of fight to them. They’re our preferences which we’d rather justify and hide from God; but He gently and lovingly leads us toward holiness and goodness.

Then there are the sins and struggles which are deeply-rooted; the desires which cause us shame. The struggles with sins which linger from a previous life of ungodliness and debauchery. Set deep within our hearts, in Christ we hate these sins and we desperately need His grace and help to fight with and for us against them. Through obedience, repentance and drawing near to Him, in fulfillment to His own promise He draws near and fills us with peace, as we draw closer to Him in fullness of joy.

And the marks of His labour? Well, Jesus Christ Himself bore those marks for us when He died on the cross for our sins. His death represents for us both our initial forgiveness, and our ongoing rejuvenation into becoming more like Jesus.

I’m extremely thankful God chose to reveal this little lesson to me – it certainly puts a lot into perspective. I hope it encourages you to holiness and godliness as well, as Christ continues to transform you into His own likeness!

“In your struggle against sin, you have not yet

resisted to the point of shedding your blood.

And you have forgotten that word of encouragement that addresses you as sons:

‘My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline, and do not lose heart when He rebukes you,

because the Lord disciplines those He loves, and He punishes everyone He accepts as a son.'”

Hebrews 12:4-6

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Get Over Yourself, Christian: Love Like You Mean It

 

What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their (physical) needs, what good is it?

In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.

James 2:14-17

There’s no doubt Christ calls us to a different kind of love than what we’d be comfortable giving. After all, it’s so much easier to see someone in their pain and anguish, offer a short prayer or ‘encouragement’, and go on our merry way. It’s far too much effort for some to extend the arm of grace.
In light of this, I want to share a story with you:

“Recently I shared with some friends about a particular hardship I was going through. I was nervous the entire day, leading right up to the point when all eyes were on me as I began to reveal my heart to the people I cared about most.

I expressed that I had been feeling great fear, shame and pain surrounding the subject, and that it was difficult for me to talk about. That this was an ongoing issue, and I needed help.
In the end though, I managed to get the words out – despite how vulnerable and humble it made me. I was met with some smiles and nods, and a couple of thank you’s for sharing.

Afterwards, one person asked me about it, wanting to know how I was really going. ONE. In the entire group.

I had just done something that was mentally, physically and emotionally so difficult and draining for me, because being genuine with those I love is the sort of person I am, and I believed they, being brothers and sisters in Christ, would care, as they had done for others in the group before.

To say I was disappointed is a massive understatement. I can’t believe I trusted them to see me in my pain and offer more than a mere ‘thanks for sharing’ – is it me? Am I selfish?

And what now? Well, I just go back to suffering – alone, apparently.

Let me give you a different example; and maybe this will help to highlight why I’m angry.
Say my group of friends and I were walking along, all hunky dory – when suddenly, I fall and break my leg. I’m in a lot of pain, and can no longer walk by myself; I need their help.

I call out to them, humiliated and broken; they turn back, smile and say, “cool, thanks for sharing!”… And keep on walking.
I feel heartbroken, and absolutely devastated.”
Stories like this shouldn’t happen – particularly among Christians. When someone has fallen ill, you don’t ‘thank’ them for sharing their pain with you, and then do nothing. You may as well say ‘screw you!’ and slap them in the face. It’ll hurt just as much.”
No. Here’s what you do, if you’re a Christ-imitating Christian.

You ask specifically what you can pray about for them, and then you follow up with them – because you care.

You ask if there’s anything you can do to help – because you’re a genuine friend.

You ask questions like, “what has God been teaching you?”, because you care about their spiritual welfare during trials.

You take the initiative to listen, visit, share, encourage, and do all you can to help that broken person heal – because you want to love like Christ.

Don’t be a lip-service Christian. Love like you mean it.

In The Ring With Jesus

 

In looking for a photo to put this post into words, I found one featuring Ronda Rousey, a world-famous American fighter, having her hands bandaged and held by her coach.

I thought the image of a woman fighting in a ring was appropriate, because that’s how I often see myself; stubborn, angry, wanting to right wrong by ‘fighting it out’. And seeing the picture, it wasn’t just a woman being cared for by her coach. I saw my Heavenly Father’s hands covering my own with His, tenderly reassuring His love for me. But, there’s a problem – I still want to get in the ring. I want to fight and wrestle with Jesus until He blesses me the way I want to be blessed.

Heavens, who does that sound like?

“Then Jacob was left alone; and the Angel of the Lord wrestled with him until the day. Now when He saw that He did not prevail against Jacob, He touched the socket of his hip; and the socket of Jacob’s hit was out of joint as they wrestled… and Jacob said, “I will not let You go unless You bless me!”

Genesis 32:24-26

I know many Christians, myself included, struggle to grasp the relationship we have with God as our Heavenly Father. Our fathers here on earth can’t be perfect – and many are far from that ideal – so it’s difficult for us to grasp what a perfect father’s love really is. But something else I’ve always struggled with, is anger.

I have a short fuse; it’s not easy to admit, but it’s true. Sure, I’m easy going and most things slide off my back – I’m sure motherhood did that to me. But for the most part, injustice, inconveniences, and impertinent people boil my blood in seconds. And in those moments when I give in to the fury, give in to the anger rising in me, I choose to forget the peace and blessing I can have from my Father.

What prompted me to write about this was the sermon at church today. A seasoned godly man from within our fellowship spoke about the ‘mystery of Christ’, which is God Himself in us; heaven, the very presence of God, living in us. He leads us through the power of His grace, and our obedience, toward where He would have us go and the person He is growing us into. Picture the prodigal son – God, the Father, stands with arms toward us; do we also reach out in eager love to embrace Him?

My problem is this: I rely on happiness, not joy, to sustain me. Happiness depends on circumstance, whereas joy is based on the foundation of Christ. Through my struggle with mental illness, I have found it physically and mentally draining to even try to seek joy through prayer, bible reading, listening to sermons – even singing worship songs, as well as other non-spiritual things I’ve often enjoyed. In fact, almost everything I usually enjoy is tiring to me. So, I’ve found it easier to fill myself with superficial ‘joys’ – things I do that make me happy, which certainly aren’t bad in and of themselves, but realising I find more fulfillment in creative hobbies or my work than say, my time with God or with loved ones, raises a huge red flag to me.

And yes, a lot of this comes down to the neurophysiological chemistry in my brain – that is to say, not finding enjoyment in things you usually enjoy is a very common symptom for those with depression. But I’m not okay with that. I am so not okay with that. And I’m willing to fight – to fight both God and myself. Let me explain.

Imagine this in your mind. God, our Father, sitting on His throne in a great hall – the floor scattered with broken toys in front of Him. His children approach Him, one by one saying, “God, this toy is broken – give me a new one!” and with that throw their broken toy on the floor. But every once in a while, a particular child comes along who says, “Father, I broke my toy. Can you please fix it for me? Let me watch you while you fix it”. They know their Father, and they know His heart for what He’s given them.

When the time comes and we find ourselves in a tense situation: a trial, a temptation, a tragedy… God does not think so little of our worth and joy as to merely give us a new situation. No, God blesses us in the times we find most hard – even if it’s by our encouragement to others in moments of our greatest pain. God is not Santa – He won’t give us whatever we want. But He does give us whatever is most good.

And He can’t take us to the next step in our journey if we fail at one point – in order to move on, we must learn, we must grow, and most importantly, we must trust and obey. And in doing so, allow ourselves to be conformed to the image of God’s own perfect Son.

And so, I’ll keep striving towards holiness, even if it means God has to put my hip out of joint in the process. Because then I’ll know it’s by His power, His grace, that He has chosen to save me, and continues working in me even while I insist on fighting against Him at times. And, just like Jacob, I’ll be stubborn and relentless in seeking His blessing – not for the things I want, but for that which is most good for me: God Himself. For, the mystery of Christ is this: God Himself, the very presence of heaven, in us right now! And you can have this. I can have this. I just need to keep getting back into the ring; wrestling against my sin for holiness, and wrestling with God for blessing.

NOT Princes and Princesses of God, and 20 Things God Says We Are

 

I might cop quite a bit of backlash for this post – or, some well-meaning comments from wishy-washy types who think it appropriate to take words from Scripture and extend them into meanings which feed their ego. Regardless, this is a topic I feel very strongly about – not only because it’s propaganda of a false title for Christians, it takes everything Jesus lived – and died for – and spits in His face.

We are NOT royalty

I can’t tell you how many times I have seen memes, statuses and even T-shirts claiming something along the lines of “I’m a prince/princess in God’s eyes”, “I’m the daughter of a King – I’m a princess!”, “I can do all things in Christ because I am royalty” yada yada ya, you get the picture. But, is there anywhere in the bible that believers, or those who trust in God, are called such a thing? No. In fact, far from it.

It’s a nice sentiment. Royalty are a representation of everything we could want: financial stability, good reputation, status, comfort – in short, a perfect earthly life. Isn’t that nice? Isn’t that what Jesus was all about? I mean, He attended parties, hung out with his friends and family, and told us to ‘shine our light to the world’, right?

Yes, our Lord Jesus did do all of those things. But do you know what His main goal was? To take our focus off of the things of earth, and onto Him, for the Kingdom of Heaven is near. Just look at the statement: I’m a princess. What do we get from that statement? Firstly, we are the only ones it’s directed to. I’m talking about ME. Even if I join it to God somehow, the focus of the statement is still on me. Secondly, I’m stating something as truth, that something being ‘princess’ or ‘royalty’.

Thirdly, the exclusivity of this statement (as well as the screaming implication, “I’M OKAY BY MYSELF THANKS”) excludes us from God. Why? Because a Prince, or Princess, usually have everything they need, don’t they? They have health, wealth, and every possible comfort. They are the epitome of earthly indulgence and contentment, so this is what we are proclaiming when we call ourselves royalty: I am content because I am blessed and comfortable and, frankly, don’t feel a great need for a saviour. If you don’t think that’s true, have a look around you and your home. Is there a fridge with food inside? A wardrobe with clothes? Access to water and electricity? Heck, if you’re reading this, you’re at least rich enough to own a laptop/Ipad/mobile phone. That makes you wealthy. Moreover, do you know what Princes and Princesses are not famous for needing or desiring? A Saviour. And that should be very, very sobering to us when we consider how we present ourselves to the world as Christ’s ambassadors.

… But God says we are BETTER!

I’ve got good news! You’re NOT royalty, but do you know what you are? A helpless sinner in need of grace. That is the heart cry of the Christian. We are aware and convicted of our sinful nature. We don’t want to sin, and we need a Saviour: so we submit our lives, our heart and soul and mind and strength and all that we are, to Jesus Christ, who isn’t merely royalty, but divine. We believe in Him who had no sin, who died on the cross in our place, as payment for our sin on our behalf. Trusting in Christ’s sacrifice and repenting from our sin is how we become children of God. That is WAY better than being called a prince or princess.

Also, Jesus is called the Prince of Peace, and that’s right, because He is of God – we are not. “But,” you say, “we are heirs! Does that not make us royalty?”. People can be heirs without being royalty. A king can adopt a child who is not of his own, and make him a co-heir with his true son – that doesn’t make the child of the king in the same way the true son is. Jesus is God, He is divine; we are not. And we dare not risk irreverence by ignorantly implying that we are.

So, what can we call ourselves?

Here’s a list of biblical titles for Christians, as put forward to us by God Himself in His Word to you – yes, you! – you’re welcome!

  1. Sinners (Romans 3:23)
  2. Co-heirs with Christ (Romans 8:17)
  3. Saints (Ephesians 1:1)
  4. Chosen/elect (Ephesians 1:4)
  5. Objects of God’s pleasure (Ephesians 1:5)
  6. Slaves of Righteousness (Romans 6:18)
  7. Child of God (John 1:12)
  8. Made alive from sin (Ephesians 2:1)
  9. Friend of Jesus (John 15:14)
  10. Justified (Romans 3:24)
  11. Redeemed (Romans 3:24)
  12. Bought by God (1 Corinthians 7:23)
  13. God’s workmanship – created to do good works (Ephesians 2:10)
  14. Slaves of the gospel (Ephesians 3:7)
  15. Gifted (Ephesians 4:11)
  16. Sheep in need of a Shepherd (John 10:14)
  17. Forgiven (Colossians 1:14)
  18. Raised with Christ (Colossians 3:1)
  19. Endurers for the sake of the lost (2 Timothy 2:10)
  20. Loved by God (1 Thessalonians 1:4)

I don’t know about you, but all of these titles, which God Himself calls us, far surpass ‘princess’, which has a self-indulgent, pompous ring to it. I’d prefer to be called the friend of God any day.

“Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God… Put to death, therefore, anything that belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry.” Colossians 1:2-3, 5

On Parole From Depression – Becoming Myself Again

 

Today marks a year since I began this blog – meant originally as a way for me to use my gifts and passion for biblical interpretation and application. It has now morphed into something more – a platform on which I can also express my creativity and my heart. Being genuine is important to me, as is being transparent – and after the year that has been so far, I feel I’m finally ready to do so.

I had always resolved to write about the experience of transitioning into motherhood. Although, it’s not really a transition as much as it is a plunge into a deep, dark ocean – from which there is no return. There are others swimming up on the surface, some even enjoying the float – but they’ve been in the water for years, and many have forgotten the exhaustion and turmoil of the beginning. “It gets better!” they shout. But I can’t seem to believe it yet.

The days in hospital were a shock. The first two weeks home were hands down the hardest weeks of my life. I have never spent so many tear-filled hours on my knees in prayer: for strength and grace in droves. Even now, remembering the desperation of my aching, tired body and soul makes my hands tremble. For the first few months, Nathan cried a lot. As in, any time he was not feeding or sleeping, he was crying, day and night. I dreaded each and every day, and begged Alex to stay home longer – which he did. I had incredible support around me: Alex being the best by far. We had family and friends who would give us meals, gifts, time, kind words, and sympathy – as well as assurance that, again, this is not forever and it will get better.

PND is something that runs in my family, and having had bouts of depression as a teenager, my obstetrician, midwife and GP were all on high alert. But for the most part, I was OK – I accepted the fact that this was just going to be a hard time, simple as that. I looked forward to when, hopefully soon, I would feel like myself again, and I could relax and be happy.

It didn’t happen.

When Nathan hit around 6 months, I cracked – he was overwhelmingly needy, and I didn’t have the time or energy to be constantly holding him and playing with him. There was washing, cleaning, cooking, hanging, scrubbing, as well as my own needs, that required fulfilling on a daily basis. And there was no rest – certainly not. I struggled to even feel happy or hopeful, and started to feel the familiar weight of those mental handcuffs again.

With sincere thought about what Nathan and I both needed as individuals, as well as direction from my doctor, I conceived a plan that would give him the constant attention he craved, but also gave me the space I needed to spend time becoming whole again. I wanted to stop feeling like motherhood was a prison sentence. I wanted to stop resenting Nathan for the inconvenience that he was. I want, so desperately, to cherish, love and enjoy him, without the hindrance of depression.

Now, Nathan is 8 months old – and doing very well! And I’m doing better. I have a couple of friends who come over during the week to play with him and spend time with him for a few hours while I take care of the house, or have some free time to rest or work. I’m taking medication on the insistence from my doctor (who really had to push me, as I was apprehensive of anything interfering with breastfeeding), and having sessions with a specialist who has given me wonderful techniques to practically apply to day-to-day struggles. I’ve noticed Nathan cries a lot less, and I’ve started enjoying our time together even more than before. It’s an ongoing process. In the words of Anakin Skywalker from Star Wars Episode II, “I wish I could just wish my feelings away; but I can’t”. I can’t make myself be the perfect mother; I can only be a good enough mother by giving Nathan what he needs, being there for him, and also making sure I get what I need – so that I can be the good enough mother.

For many, having babies is a mostly wonderful experience. For others, it’s harder to feel that same bond or fulfillment. I can’t explain it, except that it’s like fighting myself to become the woman and mother God made me to be. With His help, and the support of those I love, I know and believe I can – and I look forward to being the good enough mum for Nathan, because she will be good enough for me.

What Good Thing Must I Do?

 

“Now a man came up to Jesus and asked, “Teacher, what good thing must I do to get eternal life?”

“Why do you ask me about what is good?” Jesus replied. “There is only One who is good. If you want to enter life, obey the commandments.”

Most of us are familiar with the story of the Rich Young Ruler from Matthew 19. As I read from verse 13 to 30 in my quiet time today I noticed something that I hadn’t before.

The Rich Young Ruler was working out of a framework most of us live by because, well, that’s just the way the world works most of the time. That framework is the idea that in order to receive something, we must do something to earn it. This is a good principle to keep us from being elitist and having a sense of entitlement by virtue of our existence. Working hard to earn or achieve something produces in us substance of character and fortitude. All good things.

But when it comes to the gospel, we must understand that the way things work in God’s Kingdom take the principles of the world and flip them on their heads.

The problem with the Rich Young Ruler’s question is that he is assuming that in order to attain eternal life, he must do something to earn it. And this is what many Christians today believe – but this is not the gospel!

Jesus’ response is brilliant: “Why do you ask me about what is good? There is only One who is good.” The thing we get through salvation is God Himself! And God is not something we can have or achieve on our own – it is purely by God’s grace that He extends His love and relationship to us. God IS our salvation, from God Himself.

Let us not be foolish like the Rich Young Ruler, or even like the Galatians – who Paul rebuked for “turning back to those weak and miserable principles (?) Do you wish to be enslaved by them all over again?” (Galatians 4:9).

It is by grace we have been saved, through faith – not of our own works (our own doing), so that no one may boast (Ephesians 2:8). Salvation is completely God’s work, completely His own predetermined election and grace, through the death and resurrection of Jesus. We need only repent, turn from our sins, and believe and trust in what Jesus has done; enjoying the free grace and mercy of our Heavenly Father.

Marriage Vision Statement: Just For Marrieds? 

Recently I posted on my Facebook wall a photo of the “Marriage Vision” my husband and I had come up with. He and I have been receiving awesome feedback about it, as well as some questions as to whether and how this could be relevant outside of marriage. I believe the principles definitely can be! But before I talk about that, first let me explain what a Marriage Vision is.

As a married couple, you are joined together in a covenant of love, bound together by God as a united front. You are a team – two singles brought together to make one whole. With Christ as your foundation and hope, it is helpful to know where your marriage is headed, and what it’s going to take to get there – in other words, what is the purpose of your marriage? And how are you going to achieve that?

Props must of course go to The Generous Wife, who was the one to encourage myself and thousands of other couples to come up with a Marriage Vision. You can read more of her encouraging content here: http://www.the-generous-wife.com

This is our Marriage Vision:


The clincher in all of that is that we want to glorify God by increasingly enjoying Him and enjoying each other forever. 

So, considering the specific parameters of marriage, how can non-married Christians apply the same principles in singleness, or a dating relationship?

Glory, Fellowship and the Church for Singles

The glory of God should be the top priority of every Christian, regardless of life circumstance or season. So for the single, their ultimate goal should be glorifying God; and this is mainly done through knowing and enjoying Him in increasing measure, as you grow in godliness; ministering to other Christians (as well as being ministered to), and devotion to Christ’s church through genuine, heartfelt worship and service, using the spiritual gifts God has given you for the sole purpose of building up His bride.

Holiness, Honour, and Dating

I believe there’s also a middle ground for those who are neither single nor married – but within the context of a romantic relationship. The seeking of God’s glory becomes a hunger and thirst for holiness (as we ought to be holy as He is holy). Our romantic relationships should increase in spiritual, emotional and physical intimacy with equal measure (as appropriate), with reverence and a sincere desire to be holy. Instead of, “how far can we go?”, Christian couples should ask, “How holy can I/we be?”.

Moreover, we can honour our partner by adhering to the biblical pattern of loving headship and submission. Obviously, since you’re not married, this won’t be to the full extent – but lads can practice loving like Christ loves the church (by making sacrifices for his gal), and ladies can practice gentle submission by letting go of pride, and trusting the loving leadership of her man.

All in all, there’s no reason for any Christian to think they can’t apply the ‘principles’ found in the vision and goal of marriage to their own lives. We should continue in the hope set before us by Christ, ever prayerful and devoted to the glory of God!

The 4 Pillars of Priority for God’s Women

 

As Christian women we live not as anti-cultural, but counter-cultural – presenting to the world a completely different way of living and hoping, as we continually become more and more like Christ.

As different seasons come and go and new roles and responsibilities make their presence known, I often find myself coming back to God’s Word to refresh and refine my mind with what my priorities ought to be. It’s far too easy for me to let the world, news, and other humdrum of life carry my mind to places that distract me from my God-given callings.

So, what should our priorities be as God’s women? Particularly for young women? And where in the bible can we find such instruction for our hearts?

The two main texts I always refer to are Titus 2:4-5:

Then they (the older women) can urge the younger women to love their husbands and children,

to be self-controlled and pure, to be workers at home,

to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God.”

and Proverbs 31:10-31:

A wife of noble character who can find?
    She is worth far more than rubies.
 Her husband has full confidence in her
    and lacks nothing of value.
 She brings him good, not harm,
    all the days of her life.
 She selects wool and flax
    and works with eager hands.
 She is like the merchant ships,
    bringing her food from afar.
 She gets up while it is still night;
    she provides food for her family
    and portions for her female servants.
 She considers a field and buys it;
    out of her earnings she plants a vineyard.
 She sets about her work vigorously;
    her arms are strong for her tasks.
 She sees that her trading is profitable,
    and her lamp does not go out at night.
 In her hand she holds the distaff
    and grasps the spindle with her fingers.
 She opens her arms to the poor
    and extends her hands to the needy.
 When it snows, she has no fear for her household;
    for all of them are clothed in scarlet.
 She makes coverings for her bed;
    she is clothed in fine linen and purple.
 Her husband is respected at the city gate,
    where he takes his seat among the elders of the land.
 She makes linen garments and sells them,
    and supplies the merchants with sashes.
 She is clothed with strength and dignity;
    she can laugh at the days to come.
 She speaks with wisdom,
    and faithful instruction is on her tongue.
 She watches over the affairs of her household
    and does not eat the bread of idleness.
 Her children arise and call her blessed;
    her husband also, and he praises her:
 “Many women do noble things,
    but you surpass them all.”
 Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting;
    but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.
 Honor her for all that her hands have done,
    and let her works bring her praise at the city gate.

1. God and His Word

We see in Scripture that God gives honour and praise to the woman who fears Him. A woman whose dress is dignity and strength – not meaning literal clothing of course, but the way she presents herself and her character leaves an impression on others that she is strong and dignified. Her hope is in her Saviour, Jesus – so she has no fear for the future. She eagerly does good, so that she faithfully represents the Saviour she worships, and so the Word of God will not be maligned. The godly woman is obedient, gentle, kind, faithful, sensible, and a hard worker.

2. Husband and/or children, if they have them

Another priority of the godly woman, and her first ministry, is to her husband and children (if she has either). Our husbands are given to us by God as a gentle, loving servant leader who constantly directs us to Christ, as co-heirs and co-worshipers of God.Our submission to our husband is a model of the church’s submission to Christ and, ultimately, the kind of submission we bring to God in our own relationship with Him.

Just as our husbands are called to love us sacrificially, so we too must also consider the needs of our husband and children before our own. In this way we imitate Christ, who came not to be served, but to serve others – that we might have life. This service of love, hard work and faithful diligence to our husband and children will come also as a result of us seeing to the next priority.

3. The Home

The home can be many things – an unsafe, unkempt area of chaos or, as it should be, an ordered, safe, peaceful haven for the family, brought about by the willing and loving nurture of the wife/mother. Our care of the home should be taken seriously as it is a representation of ourselves, and also reflects the value we place on providing for our family. If the burden is on godly men to provide the finances the family needs, then it must also fall to us to complement our husbands work by ensuring he and our children are well fed, dressed, and kept comfortable and safe in the home.

The home is also an arena for hospitality to others in the church, family, friends, and the needy. Having a home that is safe, tidy and welcoming makes this all the more possible, and makes it a much more viable place for God to use to meet the needs of the underprivileged in our community.

4. The Church

Finally, another main priority for the godly woman is her home church. We ought to be regular attendees, not neglecting meeting with other believers to fellowship, worship and minister together. In being involved in church we also use the spiritual gifts God has given us to build up the church – this is done through teaching (other women, and children), counselling, cooking, discipling, hosting, cleaning, sharing testimonies, child-minding, administration, and other general helping. In doing so we bring glory to our God, and joy to our fellow believers.

It’s easy to guess what kind of life this would result in – a VERY busy one! To meet all of the instructions is impossible, for sure – but through prayer and a willing heart, we ought to strive all the more. If working in employment outside the home is still a plausible option that you’d like to take up, and you have not neglected the needs of your family, the needy, the home and the church, then I say go for it! Having some employment work can also be very fulfilling, as well as the God-given privilege of working as Christ’s hands and feet to our husbands, children, and communities.

I encourage you to pray this week for God to reveal His priorities for your life, where He’d like you to spend more time working, and maybe some things/places you needn’t worry about so much. Ask Him to reveal what your spiritual gifts are, and to bring up opportunities for you to serve the church and your family.

Trust and Anxiety: When Truth and Courage Triumphs over Fear

 

“Without warning, a furious storm came up on the lake, so that the waves were swept over the boat.

But Jesus was sleeping.

The disciples went and woke him, saying, “Lord, save us! We’re going to drown!”

He replied, “You of little faith, why are you so afraid?”

Then he got up and rebuked the waves, and it was completely calm.

The men were amazed and asked, “What kind of man is this?

Even the winds and the waves obey him!”

Matthew 8:23-27

Thunderous storms often come upon us without warning, much like the storm that came upon the disciples in this passage. They arrive quickly and set into action quickly, barely allowing us much time to think past the emotional reactions we feel to our circumstances. Our knee-jerk reaction, as it were, is to surrender to worry, anxiety, and sometimes fear, when it comes to changes (sometimes even the good ones) in our lives.

But even in the most unpleasant storms, we ought to do as nature does, and obey God at His Word and trust in Him. This is certainly easier said than done! But there are ways of overcoming our fears.

Turn to Jesus

Just like the disciples in the boat, our first step ought to be turning to our Lord – the only one who can save us, from anything. He alone, being God, knows everything, is all-wise, all-knowing, almighty and perfectly good. He alone has our best interests at heart, and brings about things for the good of those who love Him.

Be Bold in Prayer

God already knows what we’re going to pray for before we pray it, and He also knows our situations. If some trial has come upon you, or you’ve given in to some temptation you’ve faced – be honest before God, knowing that if we confess our sins, He is faithful and will cleanse us (1 John 1:9).

Expect God’s Work

Following the trend of boldness, be so bold as to expect God to not only hear your prayer, but answer it – because He will. The disciples in the boat didn’t ask Jesus for help, and then simply cover their eyes, fall asleep or cower in fear – they stayed well aware of the situation, anxiously watching Jesus for any sign of deliverance from their storm. Let us do likewise, and glorify our Lord by trusting in His power in all things.

Praise God, and Continue in Obedience

When you see God’s answers to prayer by the work He does in your life (whether He delivers you from your changed circumstances, or gives you the grace and strength to endure it), you will all the more want to respond with genuine thanks and praise! What a warmth to the heart it brings to see our Heavenly Father’s kindness made so evident in our lives, brought about by prayer and obedience.

I have to remind myself of these truths, daily! Our finite and sinful minds and hearts often lead to disappointing attitudes, thoughts and choices. But, with eagerness and hope, we rely on our great Father to continually conform us to the image of His glorious Son, as we await the day when we will suffer fear and anxiety no more.

I encourage you to be vigilant in prayer, heartfelt in praise and constant in your hope in Christ!