He Remains the Same: Reliable

If something never changes, it remains the same.

If the unchangeable remains the same no matter what, everything else must realign in relation to it.

For every earthy thing I think up to be an example of something remaining the same, I immediately think up something that can budge it a little:

Brick walls: Dynamite

Mountains: Earthquakes

Bulkheads: Hurricanes

We rely on immovable objects to get our bearings. When those objects get busted, we are adrift with loss, floundering as we try to find our own way.

This is not the case when following Jesus Christ– honestly. He determines  the way we go. He is absolutely unchangeable. When railed upon by whatever force, he is not the one busted, the one(s) coming against him are. There is comfort for the floundering in this; they can get their bearings when aligning themselves with him.

 Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or [r]shifting shadow.

James 1:17 (NASB)

Who God was when He created the stars, He was when He made you. He continues to be the same when He walks with you today as He does until the end of time. The LORD is the LORD. Jesus is Jesus. He is trustworthy, true, and reliable because of who he is. We can test him and he remains the same … always.

This is important for those of us who have suffered from abandonment – physical, emotional or both. Trusting God is a gargantuan prospect. Indeed, trusting anyone is a huge deal. Like the people who followed Moses out of Egypt so very long ago, our first line of defense is to try to align our relationships for our own sense of stability and like them we long for sameness… things already known regardless of reality:

Take their comments in Exodus 32 as an example:

Now when the people saw that Moses delayed to come down from the mountain, the people assembled about Aaron and said to him, “Come, make us[a]a god who will go before us; as for this Moses, the man who brought us up from the land of Egypt, we do not know what has become of him.”

Everything was up for grabs when they decided they would wait no longer. But it is just as big a mistake for us as it was for them:

Then the Lord spoke to Moses, “Go [c]down at once, for your people, whom you brought up from the land of Egypt, have corrupted themselves. They have quickly turned aside from the way which I commanded them. They have made for themselves a molten calf, and have worshiped it and have sacrificed to it and said, ‘[d]This is your god, O Israel, who brought you up from the land of Egypt!’” The Lord said to Moses, “I have seen this people, and behold, they are [e]an obstinate people. 10 Now then let Me alone, that My anger may burn against them and that I may destroy them; and I will make of you a great nation.”

People are fickle though not all of them. Sorting out who to trust is hard work. We need to trust God. God is reliable all the time. Easy-Peasy. No oppressive work in it.

Let’s follow God’s reliability in other passages. 

Behold, He is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see Him, even those who pierced Him; and all the tribes of the earth will mourn over Him. So it is to be. Amen.

“I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, “who is and who was and who [a]is to come, the Almighty.” Revelation 1:7-9 (NASB)

I am so glad God is always all mighty, aren’t you?

10 “I will pour out on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem,[a]the Spirit of grace and of supplication, so that they will look on Me whom they have pierced; and they will mourn for Him, as one mourns for an only son, and they will weep bitterly over Him like the bitter weeping over a firstborn.11 In that day there will be great mourning in Jerusalem, like the mourning of Hadadrimmon in the [b]plain of [c]Megiddo. 12 The land will mourn, every family by itself; the family of the house of David by itself and their wives by themselves; the family of the house of Nathan by itself and their wives by themselves; 13 the family of the house of Levi by itself and their wives by themselves; the family of the Shimeites by itself and their wives by themselves; 14 all the families that remain, every family by itself and their wives by themselves. Zechariah 12:10-14 (NASB)

Don’t miss the connection here. … the Pierced One (that’s Jesus, FYI), the tribes in mourning. In chapter 13 we see that the Almighty is there.

ON that day… a cleansing fountain opens to the house of David

On that day… the LORD banishes the name of idols, they will be remembered no more

On that day… the LORD Almighty removes both the prophet and the spirit of impurity from the land

On that day… Alignment with the Truth  means more than family – Zechariah 13:1-3

Wow.

Fear concerning the unreliable, whether things or people, is out of place in the Christ-following experience because God, the Almighty, the Lord Jesus Christ, is who he says he is … reliable – time and time again. Amen.

Reality: The Essential Course

Dad told me the story of his leaving.

“I kept thinking things would get better but they never did. One night when I came home, I decided I would either go in and kill her or I would keep going and never come back. I drove around the block a couple more times then drove away.”

I asked Dad why he never came back. “My heart would never carry me home.” That was a healthy choice for him.

He had no idea what storms of loss that choice would create in his children. Divorce? That was only one loss. Leaving three infants in the care of a woman he had decided was enough “off kilter” to entertain serious thoughts of killing her…..and in reality continues to suffer mentally and physically; that choice was a doozy. Our loss…catastrophic and ongoing.

Looking back on it always takes me to a dark place. Sometimes another person’s darkness hovers nearby and I inadvertently catch a piece that takes me back into the same darkness… like one Sunday in the church foyer.

“It’s not like I’m bitter or anything,”mumbled my friend sitting along the wall in the church lobby. “She’s [my mother’s] just not a very nice person.”

Statements of reality do not equate resentment or emotion of any kind. They are facts.

I recognize that dark place. That place where relationships that are supposed to be a certain way just aren’t. That place where reality just is … the way a submerged reef lies innocently in the path of unwary sailors who venture too close to shore.

Bitter? My ears perked up as my thoughts went back to the mother who raised me.

Another window into my dark place came years ago when my own step mother and dad were talking with me in my kitchen. I forget the remark I made but my step-mom’s response was “ How can you talk like that! She’s your mother!”

To which I replied, “She’s my mother, but that doesn’t change reality.”

While her response was gobsmacked, my Dad’s eyes glowed with some kind of long awaited happiness, “ You finally understand.”

Reality is the worthier course. Alignment to it is not optional or whimsical. It is essential.

One boat plots a course based on the underwater terrain and the depth of water they can safely traverse. Another lacks knowledge of the waterways without regard for the reality of their situation to their own peril.

Who would you rather be?

We raise our glasses to toast those sailors triumphantly reaching their home port, and reflect on premature death escaped at least this time:

Once Again, We Have Failed to Die!’

After listening to my church friend, I felt the need to protect my heart against being bitter…again. To read once again the channel chart as it were.

Bitterness. I had to look that one up. People throw it around like a dart trying to chart courses for others in a dark place without consideration for the reality of their situation…to their peril. So here it is:

bit·ter·ness Google definition

ˈbidərnəs/ noun

1.

sharpness of taste; lack of sweetness.


2
.

anger and disappointment at being treated unfairly; resentment.

Given that first definition, and Job 34:3 

“For the ear tests words
As the palate tastes food.

think about all the foods that taste sharp…

  • cheddar cheese
  • certain sauvignon blanc wines
  • certain herbs

These are bitter.

Then think on the sharp words  you’ve heard recently.

Now the sweet ones.

How did you respond? Which course did you take?

Here’s another definition (a depth chart notation) worth looking at:

Strong’s concordance word # 4751 – māra – bitter, bitterness : ranging from merely disagreeable to the taste to being poisonous; by extension: anxiety, despair

If I speak my anxiety or despair to anyone but the LORD, they are negatively effected in their spirit. Indeed, so am I.

If I speak graciously to anyone – even to the LORD – listeners are positively affected. So am I. Yes, I’m talking about talking graciously to ourselves as well as to others. The turn about in countenance is amazing.

Sweet and bitter both have their place in the culinary spectrum as well as the spectrum of language. Either one out of balance presents a problem.

Being sweet always sounded obnoxious to me but I’d rather be sweet than be toxic….uh..favorably flavorful than bitter.

I’d rather be traveling by a chart with true depth soundings, traveling safely and enjoyably than traveling full of distress and foolishly place myself in danger.

By these marks, then, how we talk about our past makes a difference in our present. Just a thought to travel by.

Can A Woman Be Saved?

 But women will be saved  through child bearing — if they continue in faith, love, and holiness with propriety . 1 Timothy 2:15

I shared this passage at Bible study within the context of another issue…namely, the condition of Adam and Eve at the time they chose to disobey God. 1 Timothy 2:11-15.

One dear lady blurted out,  “Does that mean that women who cannot bear children are not saved?!”

Uh-oh. However steeped in emotion, it is a logical question.

What I wanted was to take her “…but-I-CAN’T-have-children…” pain away. Wafting through the corridors of my mind was the sentiment, “Does God really say THAT?” Brought up short by the Serpent’s words to Eve, I confess, I wished it said something else.  Changing God’s word comes with a heavy penalty so I opted out of that real quick.   We cannot pick and choose truth nor amend it when it doesn’t feel cozy. No amount of wanting can change reality. So…

“I did not write it.” Were the words that sprang unchecked from my lips. Yet there it was. The battle to understand what God really said… the truth he intended …had begun.

What does this text really say? What doesn’t it say? …and what on earth are we supposed to do with reality according to God?

Women shall be saved. That is comforting. What kind of “saved”? Strong’s Exhaustive concordance records nine different words all translated, “saved”.

The word used here is [Strong’s #4982]–sozo– to save, rescue, deliver; to heal; by extension: to be in right relationship with God, with the implication that the condition before salvation was one of grave danger or distress.

The offer: Being healed is available. That is to say, we are not healthy at one point but now can be brought into right relationship with God (be made healthy) from “grave danger” (that condition we are saved from). The idea is that one could die from said threat which is certainly distressful. Contextually the text suggests that the danger of death experienced is the very same one Eve got herself into by listening to the Serpent, eating the fruit and making Adam complicit in her error.

I say offer because we have that “IF” qualifier tagging along in the text.

IF a woman continues in faith, love, and holiness with propriety she will be saved through childbearing [strong’s #5042:- childbearing …from 5088 – to give birth, bear ; produce + #1096 – to come into existence, be born; to be, become, happen; (used in certain contexts to introduce a new section or paragraph in Hebrew narrative style “and it came to pass”] . #5042 is only used as “childbearing”  once and that is in 1 Timothy 2:15.

Right standing with God is conditional for us women. Whether the issue is longevity (continuing in) or methodology (with propriety), being saved through child-bearing is a difficult teaching.

Note that the woman is responsible for both the longevity and the methodology not the act of saving.

For by grace you have been saved through faith; and [a]that not of yourselves,it is the gift of God;  

Ephesians 2:8 (NASB)

(That’s the same word for saved in both texts…#4982 – right standing with God)

For the moment let’s concentrate on what we are responsible for.

Faith:  [Strong’s #4102] faithfulness, belief and trust –this trust carries with it the implication that actions based on that trust may follow. Essentially this is a loyalty, being true and trust worthy as we rely on the Mighty One throughout the day …everyday.

Love:  [Strong’s# 26 ]The active love of God for his son and his people; The active love his people are to have for God, each other and even enemies. Love is active; real love does things.

Holiness: [Strong’s # 4997] Sanctification (the state of being sanctified- to make something holy, to give official acceptance or approval to something; the state of growing in Divine grace as a result of Christian commitment after baptism or conversion.) Holy (in moral quality), consecrated (ceremonially acceptable to God).

This is definitely an on going thing. We say that life is a process, a journey. Here it is a growing. As we repeatedly choose good actions, good alliances, good whatever, we grow. That is, we change over time in a positive way. Picture the upward growth of a grapevine, make that vine a symbol of a woman and you see what kind of growth we’re looking at. Better yet, you see what type of growth we women are supposed to emulate.

Continuing on in these things is our job. Vines repeat their actions towards fruitfulness season after season.

How do we get the job done?

With propriety:  appropriateness, reasonableness, mental soundness. This word comes from one that means to be in a right state of mind, to have sober judgment; to be self-controlled.

What I get from this word is that we should live life doing what is right, able to defend our choice, exercise effective boundaries and do everything on purpose. Sounds great but it is extremely difficult for broken people like me to accomplish on our own. No wonder Paul gives Titus the formula for successful women!

Older women likewise are to be reverent in their behavior, not malicious gossips nor enslaved to much wine, teaching what is good, so that they may[a]encourage the young women to love their husbands, to love their children,to be sensible, pure, workers at home, kind, being subject to their own husbands, so that the word of God will not be dishonored.  Titus 2:3-5 (NASB)

Now let’s tackle the saving bit. Women are saved (see above definition) through child bearing.

The text might say actually giving birth saves but elsewhere the Scripture declares,

Jesus *said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.  John 14:6 (NASB)

I know some women who have children and are brazenly opposed to God and other women who have no children who are dear and  seek the LORD. Some godly women remain barren for most of their lives and then have children (Sarah, Rebekah, and Rachel are examples).  Other godly women give a new meaning to the word “fertile” and have lots of children…deep sigh.

A word of caution: It is possible to over think this. As to who is saved and who is not,  only God knows. Rest assured he definitely does. Make sure we do what it is we are responsible for and leave the rest in his capable hands.

19 Nevertheless, the firm foundation of God stands, having this seal, “The Lord knows those who are His,” and, “Everyone who names the name of the Lord is to abstain from wickedness.” 2 Timothy 2:19 (NASB)

And we might want to pray for the barren women we know. Isaac did and God gave Rebekah twins.

 

Looking at Wrong Rightly

When things go wrong…when wrong happens, what do we do?

For my own part, when I loose my watch, have searched for days and still can’t find it — this counts for one wrong thing — I experience life somewhat off balance.

Off balance progresses to heavy-hearted and lethargic when a series of unfortunate events converge. The idea that all my effort is misspent battles to be the queen of my thoughts. Totally not true by the way but that doesn’t stop her from trying to sabotage living life.

Lethargy can quickly become oppression as I give in to a focus on wrongs in me, to me, in others and to others.

What if God opens my eyes …essentially making me watch and/or experience prolonged and various wrongdoing? What if my whole world gets turned upside down?

You know …that time when each cell in your body screams at God that maybe his ways are not quite right … the right He claims to be.

Habukkuk voiced just such complaints to the LORD.  Their conversation won’t take long to read.  Begin here.  More than the loss of a watch, the prophet looked at his own people and saw justice perverted, violence, strife and conflict everywhere. He cried out to God and it seemed like God did not care because no matter what the prophet said no action from God was observed. Sound familiar?

God answers by showing Habakkuk a picture of life beyond his own experience and asking  the prophet to look on life, God’s actions and character rightly. Then he was told to wait for it. Wait for everything the LORD had planned to occur.

God flips his view from a focus on all the wrong things, people and places to  peeking through heaven’s vantage point. The community must give up its bad ways due to a conqueror. The conqueror must give up his bad ways due to God’s direct and potent anger. Even nature gets in on the action.

When things go wrong, we need to wait – to exercise our faith in our living and fully capable LORD. We need to remember His deeds are an exercise of his everlasting power not just a one time deal. We need to witness…to observe that God works all the angles to accomplish His goals.

Good and bad, right and wrong… these mean something to God. He cares very deeply about them and about us.

When things go horribly wrong, God fights for His children even though we may not see it now. We will see it. Of this Habukkuk was certain. This certainty brought him through all the rough times, gave him strength to wait patiently for God to deliver him and enabled him to rejoice through it all.

May  looking at wrongs rightly (through God’s eyes) and patient endurance mixed with joy be God’s gift to you who are troubled in these troubling times. Amen.

Grief and Loss

Grief is a multifaceted response to loss, particularly to the loss of someone or something that has died, to which a bond or affection was formed. Although conventionally focused on the emotional response to loss, it also has physical, cognitive, behavioral, social, spiritual, and philosophical dimensions.

That’s the Google definition….my own is a bit less clinical.

My heart wails. My body takes longer to move. My head throbs. 

In these times of global this and national that, even those who don’t posses personal grief are exposed to some form of grief on a daily basis through TV sitcoms and cop shows, internet communications, charity ads, local news broadcasts of wars and politicians and community tragedies, etc. All this exposure makes its mark on our generation. While our specific losses are different ( loss of a spouse is different than loss of a child, etc), there are aspects of grief that are similar across a wide range of loss.

When I lost three family members in four months the most helpful article I read was from a Jewish organization recounting the “What-to-do” issues surrounding multiple deaths experienced from terror attacks.

Things I found helpful were these:

  • It’s OK not to be happy. That sounds obvious, doesn’t it?If someone is throwing a party – even someone you know and love – the best option is to politely decline attendance. That happened to me. I was invited to a wedding shower, a baby shower and other events… I said no. While I missed out on those social connections, possible new connections and all the “fun” of those events, it was awesome not to force a smile.
    Later, when the desire for company outweighed my desire to stay at home, I did accept an invitation to a birthday party. I tried to force happiness. It did not go well and I wish I’d never gone.
    Advice tested: Don’t go out to parties while grieving. Limit the scope of social activities for awhile.
  • Let yourself experience grief. Deal with the effects of grief in all your parts (heart, mind, spirit, and body) as waves going through you. Grief ebbs and flows. Go with it.
  • Grief ignored will pop up when you least expect it demanding your full attention. Being ambushed by grieving is no fun. Nobody knows why you’re having a meltdown. Those who want to help can’t and those who need you or depend on you, you will be unavailable for. Better to manage grief than to let it manage you.
  • Grief does effect our physical well being so use your body in grief management. Express your grief in a positive physical way. One suggestion was the practice of tearing a funeral scarf which I facilitated at one of the three family funerals. It was a healthy, healing event.
  • Turn your thoughts to God as Supreme Judge. Hand him the job of sorting out motives, situations, personalities, regrets, vengeance, wrongs and rights. Then grant him the honor of deciding the verdict…passing sentence if need be. Not your job. Don’t take on the extra burden of it.
  • Prolonged grieving is not good, nor is it healthy. Designate a period of time. 30 days to one year are benchmarks used by many. The important thing is to allow yourself to grieve completely. Grief has a beginning, a middle and an ending.
  • Open your heart to the reality that it is not your grief alone. Grief has ripples. What affects you effects those around you. Incidentally, those people have also suffered loss and need to process it.

Death and loss happen.

How are we going to deal with it?

Laugh? Finding a sense of humor about it all is actually very freeing. Like the time the mortician told us we couldn’t mail my Dad anywhere. Seriously!? Then we started thinking about where we might send him… hilarious. Please use the comment section to share your grieving humor.

Cry? Tears can heal such deep wounds. But crying at your core causes such headaches! …and runny noses. Just being practical: Ibuprofen and Kleenex are a good idea.

Talk? We should talk about grief openly before it visits because grief comes to us all. The best option is to prepare for it, not be blindsided by it.

As you consider grieving, please consider this; God grieves too. In fact it is one of the ways we are reminded that we have been made in his image. Note: the word ‘grieved’ in Genesis 6:6 is Strong’s #6087…the same word used in Genesis 3:16 translated as “… in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children…” Eve grieves during childbirth; God grieves over pervasive wickedness.

Then the Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great on the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. The Lord was sorry that He had made man on the earth, and He was grieved [a]in His heart. The Lord said, “I will blot out man whom I have created from the face of the land, from man to animals to creeping things and to birds of the[b]sky; for I am sorry that I have made them.” But Noah found favor in the eyes of the Lord.                                     Genesis 6:5-8 (NASB)

Here we have an ending and a new beginning. A grieving God providing a way out of the grief, a way through the cleansing from grief and the hope of better things to come.

May the way ahead of you bring the light of God’s favor and may you experience refreshing new life in his presence. Amen.

I Train, God Trains

She turned her head away heaving a great sigh that exhaled, “ohhhhh….Reconciliation”.

What!? I stared at her across the table and I longed to come back with, “Oh no it’s NOT!” but I kept silent. I had the urge to define ‘reconciliation’ but I didn’t do that either.

People need to hear these stories. People are leaving [the church] because they don’t feel cared for.”

No. I don’t want to slander anyone.”

You haven’t slandered anyone today…in what you just told me.”

Well, Hallelujah! 

I shouldn’t tell these stories – not completely anyway. These stories, –snapshots really – included characters, that hurt me so deeply and treated me and my family so recklessly. Reconcile? Death is a type of reconciliation….

 I have watched words wreak havoc in church…the church of the walking wounded. Thinking about participating in that nauseates me.

On the flip side, speaking with a focus on meeting needs is much better. Love covers over a multitude of sins, amen?  It doesn’t have to be my love that covers it. God’s love can cover it.

Letting God do and say things through me sounds easy but it’s not. The temptation to feel vindicated by humanity is very strong. The temptation to be in some way superior … to have all the answers… to get it right… these make their ugly appearances too.

Praise God! God shuts my mouth. Heaven help me when I open it.

I believe Paul called this the war between the spirit and the flesh. War is what it is – a bloody battle of strategy, will, stamina and resources.

22 For I joyfully concur with the law of God [a]in the inner man, 23 but I see a different law in [b]the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner [c]of the law of sin which is in my members.                                                                                                                          Romans 7:22-23 (NASB)

So what do I do that might be helpful to someone in the same tight space? Good question. I train myself.

I train myself to look at those problem people as God’s servants not mine.  If those who wronged me worked for me, they would be punished. They would be corrected in as harsh a way as is viably effective to change their behavior (that does not change hearts by the way). 

But since they, those other church-goers, are God’s servants, they are his problem. Leaving room for God’s wrath is something that is so beneficial to the wronged as well as the wrongdoer. It sets us free to move forward. 

Another thing I have trained myself to do that promotes peace in the family of God is the practice of handing God my ‘sense of justice’ and my ‘hurt’. With my sense of justice verbalized in his presence I feel a camaraderie with him that knits us closer because he is Just and I have been made in His image. With my sense of hurt expressed in His presence  I am washed with his inexpressibly deep love for me.

In close proximity to the conversation above I was granted an opportunity to share these concepts with a young musician at our Wednesday music practice.

So,” he snaps his fingers,”And just like that you give it to God. Every time you have bad thoughts about people you just…”

I wanted to tell him I was perfect… Yep. Got it mastered!

Nope. …Can’t claim that.

How I wish I could.

The very next day I was tested. All day I was thinking about these people who had wronged me or  with whom I disagreed …family members, church people, work associates….. I was stuck in this dark loop-de-loop.

Nothing got done.

My body felt weak.

Long about late afternoon I get this thought, So you trained yourself to…. what was that exactly? Yeah. Not getting that.

Crap! You’re right. Father, God, please clean me up and bring me into line with your word. Help me to get better at this. Please…. I need you.

I thought I was out of the woods, cleaned up and ready to go. I was ready to enjoy life.

Up next – battle three.

Late night chat. I’m tired and talking too much. I want to be the one receiving care and all of a sudden out of my mouth pours deep struggles and heartache.

BOOM. My spirit fell, shell-shocked. I had been defeated…again. Face-planted in blood-stained mud trying to get a glance at what just happened.

I wasn’t battle ready in that moment. My thoughts got me and out they came. My sense of justice became a brainstorm session. My hurt became just another story. I stopped thinking of speaking according to my listener’s need like I am supposed to do. The armor provided by the LORD was nowhere to be seen. (Guess I forgot to put it on – oops.) 

The conclusion of the matter is that I am not the only one training myself.  God trains me. My fingers. My hands, my mouth, my stories, my life…. God is training me. This post is a good picture of what God-training looks like in real life.

If you are being trained by God and it seems horrible, hang in there.

11 All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness.

Hebrews 12:11(NASB)

Loving Husbands (Part 2): Being Your Man’s Friend

Older women are to “teach what is good” THEN they can “train” the younger women to love their husbands…. SO THAT the word of God will not be dishonored. 

Today we’re going to assume that you are acquainted with “ teaching what is good” because we already covered that in “What a Mom Teaches” and move on to the second part of “love their husbands” in the Titus 2 divinely ordained curriculum.

Let’s review. The compound word we are looking at is translated, ‘to love their husbands’.

Love husbands 1510+ 5362 eimi:- to be, exist, be present + philandros:- loving one’s husband [ from 5384+435 philos:- friend +anēr:- man, male, husband; usually an adult male but in some contexts the emphasis is on maturity rather than on gender.

Notice how the two words “love husbands” are the equivalent of a much larger equation; Presence + one’s own husband + friend + man.

Lesson #1: Be Present in Relationship

Now let’s move on to today’s lesson, friendship within the married relationship. I want to be precisely clear that the following discoveries are about married love between one man and one woman. There are many words for love, so defining the word(s) used in Titus 2:3-5 will help promote clarity and – LORD willing – realign relationships endearingly.

Lesson #2: Being Your Man’s Friend

The second part of our relationship equation is this word; philandros:- loving one’s husband [ from 5384+435 philos:- friend +anēr:- man, male, husband; usually an adult male but in some contexts the emphasis is on maturity rather than on gender.

I love the expanded definition in brackets. When you get married, your boyfriend becomes your manfriend. That is an important distinction. Not only do ladies think of boys differently than we do men but men having transitioned into men, view themselves differently. Honoring the maturity your man displays (without being condescending) will garner you a closer proximity to his heart. Be vocal about your respect for him.

NEVER abandon being your man’s friend and by default settling for being his roommate.

Committing to being a friend is a rewarding work. Let’s begin.

 

  • philos:- friend
    • / 865aphilagathos:- not loving good/[1.1+5384 +18] a:- alpha privitive (as non- or un- in English)+ Friend + agathos:- good as a positive quality (vs. bad) good as a moral quality (vs. evil) << Bad company corrupts good morals… Get your morals – your sense of right and wrong– on the same page. Be good company.>>
    • 5358 philagathos:- loving what is good/[5384+18] Friend + agathos:- good as a positive quality (vs. bad) good as a moral quality (vs. evil)
    • 866 aphilagyros:- not loving money/
    • 5365 philagyria:- love of money, avarice, greed [5384+696]/Friend + argyros:- silver
    • 5366 I philagyros:- money-loving, avaricious, greedy/ [5385+696 Friend + argyros:- silver
    • 2321Theophilos:- “Friend of God”/
    • 5377 philotheos [5384+2316] lovers of God/Friend + theos:- God; usually refers to the One True God, in a very few contexts it refers to a (pagan) god
    • 2705 kataphileō:- to kiss/ <<This is the touch that never gets old. It could just as well be holding hands as much as it could be pressing faces together and touching lips. The many ways it is translated indicates an emphasis on exclusive, daily, throughout the years, relation-building, positive bond. The emotional sharing kiss.>>
    • 5370 philēma:- kiss/ This is the kiss of a friend. It is less of a bond and more of a kindness.
    • 5369 philēdonos:- loving pleasure [ 5384 +2237]/ Friend + hēdonē:- pleasure, desire, enjoyment, usually with a negative sense << Let’s use this in the positive sense. Physical pleasure in married love is not a bad thing. Enjoy each other. This should be obvious but sometimes we need reminders. Allow yourself to enjoy your man no matter what else is calling your attention away from him.>>
    • 4375 prosphilēs:- lovely, pleasing/ <<Center your beauty regimen around what your man likes not your girlfriends or the department store.>>
    • 5359 philadelpheia:- love of brother/sister [5384+80]/ Friend + adelphos:- brother, fellow countryman, neighbor (often inclusive in gender) by ext. a fellow believer in the family of faith; in the plural ‘brothers’ regularly refers to men and women
    • 5360 philadelphia:- brotherly love or kindness/
    • 5361 philadelphos:- loving as brothers/
    • 5362 /philandros:- loving one’s husband [ from 5384+435 philos:- friend +anēr:- man, male, husband; usually an adult male but in some contexts the emphasis is on maturity rather than on gender. <<Have you thought about growing old together on purpose? Have you considered growing in maturity together? Age and maturity are different topics. Think and act on both of them.>>
    • 5363 philanthrōpia:- love, kindness[5384+444] /Friend + anthrōpos:- human being, person; human kind, people; man, husband; used of human beings in contrast to animals or deity; in some contexts its used of male/husband in contrast to female/wife.
    • 5364 philanthrōpōs:- in kindness, kindly /5384+444] /Friend + anthrōpos:- human being, person; human kind, people; man, husband; used of human beings in contrast to animals or deity; in some contexts its used of male/husband in contrast to female/wife.
    • 5367 philautos:- loving one’s self, selfish [5384+846/ Friend + he, she, it, they; him self herself, itself, themselves; of place: here there, where <<Some people have never learned to love themselves appropriately. Wives can help their husbands to love themselves and in so doing will help them to love their wives. >>
    • 5368 phileō:- to love, have affection and regard of a very high order, not unlike 26[agapēand overlapping in meaning in some contexts/
    • 5374 Philippēsios:- Philippian [5384+2462]/Friend + hippos:- horses << Just a thought, bringing this idea into the our century ladies: It’s OK to like his car. In fact, it is part of being his friend. :) >>
    • 5375 philippoi :- Philipi/ <<This is the horse lover place. Some might see a car show…I see a garage. :) >>
    • 5376 Philippos:- “horse lover”/ << how much do you know about your man’s transportation device(s). Learn about them. Find something positive … something you like about them.>>
    • 5378 philologos :- [5384+3004] lover of words (education)”/ Friend + legō:- say, said; the most general term for speaking in the NT translated contextually with more specific words such as – say, tell, ask, answer <<lego… kids toys, plastic snap-into-place building blocks…hahahahaha… That fits! Words are building blocks. :) What we say, tell,ask,answer is all a part of being his friend. Speak intentionally and speak so that he hears you. God brought us into his life to be his helper, educate kindly.>>
    • 5385 philosophia :- [5384+4680] philosophy, human wisdom/ Friend +sophos:- wise expert, skilled; a person who is wise or expert often of a class or kind, a wise man or woman << Be someone worth spending time with. Those who spend time with the wise become wise…>>
    • 5386 philosophos:- philosopher/
    • 5381 philoxenia :- hospitality, entertainment of strangers/ << Do whatever it takes to facilitate his willingness to and his accomplishment of having people over.>>
    • 5382 philoxenos:- [5384+3581] given to hospitality/ Friend + xenos:- strange, foreign, alien; foreigner, stranger, alien; host, one who shows hospitality << Cultivate the attitude in your own heart that is in agreement with meeting the social needs of others. Make a welcoming demeanor and pleasantness habits of daily life.>>
    • 5390 philophronos:_ hospitably, in a friendly manner/ <<Welcome each other into your lives.>>
    • 5387 philostorgos :- devoted, loving dearly/
    • 5391 philophrōn:- well disposed, friendly, kind [5384+5424] Friend + Phrēn:- thinking understanding <<Being understood is one of the three basic needs people have. Make it one of your goals to understand your man in such a way that he realizes you do. Be the only one who “gets” him.>>
    • 5371 Philēmōn:- “beloved”/
    • 5372 Philētōs:- “beloved” /
    • 5373 philia:- friendship, love/
    • 5383 philoprōteuō :- to love to be first/ << Let him be first. First to talk, first to open the door, first to [whatever]. Let your man lead the way and help him to enjoy it.>>
    • 5388 philoteknos:- loving one’s children << husband and wife love the kids as a team. -teknos makes me think of a modern musical style … hmmmm. Try approaching the children as if you and your husband are the band leaders. :) >>
    • 5389 philotimeomai:- to have an ambition, aspire to a goal <<Not that you can’t have individual ambitions and goals, just make sure you support his. >>

To be our man’s friend, we do lots of things geared up by focusing our thoughts, words and actions towards him. I notice a few categories to be especially mindful of; your relationship to God individually and with each other, physical pleasure , How you think and what you decide about finances, transportation, education and hospitality. There is more to explore in these definitions than these colored categories so don’t miss out on the miscellaneous ways we can befriend our man. If you have anything to add please share in the comment section below. :)

As I dug into these definitions I made convicting discoveries. I pray we will all love our husbands better. Amen. 

NOTE: Happy early Valentine’s Day. I am posting early because tomorrow, I’m … busy…practicing what I write instead of writing. :)

Loving Husbands (Part 1)

Older women are to “teach what is good” THEN they can “train” the younger women to love their husbands, to love their children…. SO THAT the word of God will not be dishonored. 

Today we’re going to assume that you are acquainted with “ teaching what is good” because we already covered that in “What a Mom Teaches” and move on to the “love their husbands” bit which is the second part in the Titus 2 divinely ordained curriculum.

I want to be precisely clear that the following discoveries are about married love between one man and one woman. There are many words for love, so defining the word(s) used in Titus 2:3-5 will help promote clarity and – LORD willing – realign relationships endearingly.

Love husbands 1510+ 5362 eimi:- to be, exist, be present + philandros:- loving one’s husband [ from 5384+435 philos:- friend +anēr:- man, male, husband; usually an adult male but in some contexts the emphasis is on maturity rather than on gender.

Notice how the two words “love husbands” are the equivalent of a much larger equation; Presence + one’s own husband + friend + man.

Lesson #1: (eimi:- to be, exist, be present) BE Present. Married people suffer from distraction  not because they seek it or are cursed with it but because they must navigate multiple areas of living at one time. When engaging love towards a husband, it is time to focus solely on him.

Providing time free of distractions on a regular basis while raising children, particularly when children are young, involves training yourselves and your children with habits of consideration (Ex: How was your day…? / This is Mommy’s time with Daddy). It may not be easy but it is worth it. Your relationship with your husband has a priority over their whims or whines. They will watch you for consistency and they will respect mastery of this discipline in your lives.

I’ve heard it said that the greatest gift you can give your child is to love their Dad. Coming from a family of divorce, but having raised our four children together over the last 30 plus years, I would have to say that my experience validates that quote.

Brokenness exists and I grieve with you over it. Single parents work very hard to raise their children well. Some have remarried men who become great dads to their combined children which is a huge blessing. Others of us live in brokenness for years and wobble along in and out of relationships making the best of it. But the fact remains that lack of modeling presence in relationship means that children lack an essential element in their relationship training – sometimes severely suffering from it.

God can stand in the gap and bring healing. It is good to ask for His help because the husband/wife bond is very important to Him (Romans 7; Ephesians 5:22-33). God has helped me so much in this regard by putting some great couples in my path who modeled a love displaying presence…being there for and with their married partner.

It is imperative to note that divorce is not the only cause for a lack of presence in relationship. I confess that learning to be present in relationship with my husband has been a process – our interests and responsibilities in life are different. Sometimes my mind just wanders and I have trained myself to take my thoughts captive and pay attention with focus. If your mind is always wandering when you are with your husband, Figure out why. Stop it and practice being wholly present…in heart, soul, body and mind.

Isn’t that the kind of love God wants from us? (Matthew 22:37; Mark 12:30; Luke 10:27)

Practice it.

Look for Lesson #2 next week: Being Your Man’s Friend and may your celebrations of love this month bring honor and glory to the LORD who brings your relationships into existence and keeps them actively present. Amen

I Can Trust

For years I trusted all the wrong people. Knowing who to trust was and is work for me … maybe it always will be. Trust is a problematic struggle just to breathe socially.

I’ve been learning first hand about the sorrows that damage trust in family-of-origin relationships (It’s a long story perhaps better suited to a different post). On this journey, the LORD is guiding me along a path of discovery that enables me to trust properly in both new and old relationships. Oh how I love the LORD!

Just like previous Bible words I’ve studied, one word in English has several words in either Greek or Hebrew that define it. What is translated as “Trust” in Scripture has a few more (and enlightening) definitions. Please sit with me awhile and allow me the pleasure of sharing my discoveries of just one facet of trust with you.

If I (and I’m using this pronoun loosely to mean each individual) look at trust as the act of “taking refuge in…” – something I desperately need after trust is damaged – and act upon that knowledge, then my life displays the wonder of His [The LORD’s ] shelter in several ways none of which the “I” that is truly me has mastered…yet:

  • I will spend time with the humble and lowly because one thing they do well is trust in God (Zephaniah 3:12).
  • I will spend time in God’s word because all his words are tested and found to be worthy of trust (Proverbs 30:5; Psalm 18:30). And by default that means sometimes I test his words too.
  • I rejoice that trusting God is open to everyone. I’m talking about everyday reliance on God for for the meeting of needs as separate from a discussion about trusting God as a matter of initial saving faith.
  • I am confident that no matter who takes refuge in the LORD, they will experience the benefits associated with abiding in Him. …Even the ones we’re not pleased with at any given moment which is good for us all to remember.(Most of the benefits recorded here come from a long list of Psalms).
    • Joy and gladness
    • Deliverance
    • Preservation
    • Loving kindness; both coming from God and the ability to be kind to each other
    • Freedom from shame
    • Experiencing God’s goodness when we take refuge in Him before men
    • Freedom from condemnation
    • The obedience of those who are subservient to me
    • The powerful help of the LORD
    • Receipt of our inheritance, our promised land
  • I do not ever seek refuge in anyone or anything other than the One who Exists and causes all things to exist, Yahweh, the LORD with all caps. :) In this we can follow Christ’s example. He did not trust himself to men because he knew what was in their heart. He did not trust himself to the Tempter because Yahweh is truthfully supreme.
  • I am confident that when I take refuge in Him, He knows who I am (Nahum 1:7)
  • I am equally confident that those who take refuge in anyone or anything other than the LORD, while they are free to do so, will experience the polar opposite of any or all of the above listed benefits.

What treasure there is in taking refuge in the LORD!

I have a feeling that when I take my capacity to trust out of my hands, out of the hands of other people and place it in the hands of The Almighty, that he secures my heart which enables me to do all kinds of stuff.

Finding shelter in God is not troubling. It’s peaceful. It’s empowering. It’s the space to inhale and exhale we all crave.

What Moms Teach

My son, hear the instruction of your father; reject not nor forsake the teaching of your mother.

Proverbs 1:8

Today let’s define Mom’s job…teaching.

Teaching: 8451 tôrâ – law, regulation, teaching, instruction; often referring to the five books of Moses in whole or in part. From [3384- yārâ: to throw, cast, shoot; to be shot through; to shoot an arrow, to hurl; to water upon, rain, shower; to teach, instruct, give guidance, in a formal or informal setting, with an implied authority for the teacher and the content of what is being taught; to be refreshed ] and [8452- tôrâ : manner, direction]

Moms don’t set law, they teach it. If mothers…and grandmothers … simply read it and live it that is praiseworthy.

In our family, we habitually said, “There is a God. I’m not God but God has given me authority over you. God sets the law. Together we teach and train it into you.

Teaching God’s law teaches manners, hygiene, health, welfare, community problem solving, respect for authority, causes for celebration, rules and freedoms of worship, judging and judgments, rewards and penalties, how to lead, how to follow, what is good, what is bad, who is good/acceptable and who is bad/not acceptable, choosing friends and allies, maintaining family relationships, and so much more.

Here’s an example from a lesser used portion of Proverbs 31.

The words of King Lemuel, the [a]oracle which his mother taught him:

What, O my son?
And what, O son of my womb?
And what, O son of my vows?
Do not give your strength to women,
Or your ways to that which destroys kings.
It is not for kings, O Lemuel,
It is not for kings to drink wine,
Or for rulers to desire strong drink,
For they will drink and forget what is decreed,
And pervert the [
b]rights of all the [c]afflicted.
Give strong drink to him who is perishing,
And wine to him [
d]whose life is bitter.
Let him drink and forget his poverty
And remember his trouble no more.
Open your mouth for the mute,
For the [
e]rights of all the [f]unfortunate.
Open your mouth, judge righteously,
And [
g]defend the rights of the afflicted and needy.

She gets her point across in 136 words! Notice, he did in fact grow up to be king and he listened well enough to repeat his lesson.

Jesus was asked to recite the greatest commandment (We’re talking ‘law’ here…Mom’s job).

34 But when the Pharisees heard that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered themselves together. 35 One of them, [a]a lawyer, asked Him a question, testing Him, 36 “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” 37 And He said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the great and [b]foremost commandment. 39 The second is like it, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’40 On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets.”

Matthew 22:34-40 (NASB)

Jesus outdid Lemuel’s mom. He only used 54 words. I can hear him saying today, “Tweet this!”.

As I reread this passage with fresh perspective, I get to thinking that the ruling religious leaders were taking over responsibility rightly belonging to mothers. Aside from ridicule men might subsequently experience, I’m wondering what on earth happened to set the proper way upside down – might it be that Mom wanted the enforcement job or that Dad wanted the teaching job, or that both were AWOL? I’ve always imagined Jesus speaking the greatest commandment compassionately but now I wonder because my ears are ringing with clarion calls of indictment – those wanting to indict Jesus (…and his mother?) and Jesus’ turning it round to indict them.

It is important to remember that Dads enforce – correcting errant behavior– while Mom is teaching –making expectations of behavior known. Working properly together, they ensure God’s law is crystal clear to their own children.

Why did Jesus mention the “LAW” as separate from “PROPHETS”? Simple. The parental roles or jobs got seriously messed up over time but truth is still truth.

During the time of the exodus and acquisition of the land, Mom and Dad did their jobs; children knew who God was, they knew what pleased him and they experienced its benefits.During the time of judges and prophets, however, Mom and Dad didn’t do their job; a generation grew up who knew neither the LORD, nor what he had done for Israel and their actions led them to suffer in many ways. 

While I’m not a big fan of standardized public education, I’m becoming even less of a fan of standardized public religious education. Mom and Dad are the rightful authorities tailoring morality curriculum and ways of God for their children. That said, Dad has an additional task…to make sure that his children are instructed by proper managers and guardians.

 

Now I say, as long as the heir is a [a]child, he does not differ at all from a slave although he is [b]owner of everything, but he is under guardians and[c]managers until the date set by the father.  Galatians 4:1,2 (NASB)

Does this sound like school to you too? Children need to learn to learn from others as well. Moms and Dads are not experts at everything. Their job as it relates to parenting, though, is very specific. Introduce children to, and maintain knowledge of, the LORD.

So then Dads, do your job… enforce. So then Moms, do your job… teach. What do Moms teach and dads enforce? God’s law, God’s way, for God’s glory.

For those of us who muck it up, for whatever reason, there is always hope. God always offers each individual an opportunity to repent, to change our ways and to move forward in victory and freedom.

Sometimes He just steps in and makes a difference. Jesus did, after all, answer the lawyer truthfully. Their conversation didn’t stop with the “test”.

Listen in to the rest of their dialogue.

32 The scribe said to Him, “Right, Teacher; You have truly stated that He is One, and there is no one else besides Him; 33 and to love Him with all the heart and with all the understanding and with all the strength, and to love one’s neighbor as himself, is much more than all burnt offerings and sacrifices.” 34 When Jesus saw that he had answered intelligently, He said to him, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.” After that, no one would venture to ask Him any more questions. Mark 12:32-34 (NASB)

May the LORD help you, Friend, to teach what is right or to rightly correct your own children. May he fill the gaps and broken parts with his mercy and love.  Amen.