Friday, April 29, 2011

Unlimited Potential

Turning points in our lives can cause us to revert and focus on weaknesses or they can catapult us into new possibilities.  There are many places we can land in between those points, but I am praying that the turning points in my life will catapult me straight into the middle of God's plan and purposes for my life.  

Several events lately have caused me to pause and to begin reevaluating my own relationship with the Lord and how to use my gifts.  For that matter, I am even having more discussions with God about what gifts and talents He gave me versus the ones I want or the ones I think I have and don't.   That will be another post perhaps.

Anyway, if I look at things through my own limited understanding, I will find myself . . . limited.    If, however, I sit up and take note of how I see God working in miraculous ways, I find that the limits are the fences and walls I have built in my own thinking.

A couple months ago, I wrote about sponsoring a child through Compassion.  Within just a few short days after that, God saw fit for me to meet a man from Rwanda personally.   The man walked straight into my office at work.  I love the way God does things.

Here's the beautiful part of what I learned about this man.   I don't know exactly how he became a believer in Jesus Christ, but he did.   He read his bible.   And he took God's instructions personally.    The bible told him he was to go and reach and teach the world for Jesus Christ.  He thought to himself that he would be unable to teach the world about Jesus because he did not know English and so many others did.  So he taught himself English.  

He also went from teaching a handful of people in an untraditional style of church to leading a church of over a thousand.  I forget the exact figure but it was as a lot!   No marketing.  No advertising.   No formal education in the Word.  Just preaching and teaching.     Right there in the middle of Rwanda.

He is here because his country now has certain requirements that he must meet.   I have no doubt that he will do that in record time so that he can get back to preaching the Word and leading people to Jesus.

What would happen in our lives if we began to take God's words of promise and instruction a little more literally?   God said it and so I must do it.  God promised it and so I must expect it.   God forbade it and so I can't do it.

Our potential and power is unlimited when we remember where both come from.  May the turning points in my life cause me to tear down the walls of limitation with the truth of God's word and to wait with expectation for the unleashing of his power and provision in my life to do what he called me and created me to do.

I pray there is also a part 2 to this story.   I couldn't help but wonder about the timing of meeting this man.  So I very boldly printed off what little information I had about the child we were sponsoring and asked the man how close he lived to the boy's village.  Turns out he lives only a couple hours away from there.  Perhaps someday God will use this man to show my husband and I to the village where Mucyo lives.  You just never know.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Your Spouse First

Two very different conversations that took place in the last 24 hours really have me thinking about marriage and how we treat our spouse.   In the one conversation, a person basically stated they were nice to people who weren't family.  The indication was clear that you can treat family like dirt, as long as you are nice to strangers.   This was in the presence of their spouse.    The second conversation was one relayed to me that concerned a couple where at least one of the spouses vacations without the other.  

Here's the deal.   The person you are married to - where exactly do they rate on your list of priorities and time?   Do you put them before yourself and others?

I remember several years ago, probably 9 or so by now, when my husband and I were having a very rare night of dinner alone at home without the kids.   It always seemed like we rarely had time to talk when the kids weren't there or something wasn't going on.   However, on this particular night, it seemed like within 5 minutes we had covered what we needed to talk about.  And in my own mind, at least, there was this very eerie feeling that I didn't really know my spouse.  And what would happen to us when the kids moved out?

We had just finished moving into the home we had built. We had full-time jobs.  We didn't have financial problems.  We had been married a long time.  We had two teenagers.   But our marriage seemed to be held together by stuff as opposed to substance.

That night was my wake-up call.  Although things are very different now, I still remember it as though it was yesterday because I never want to feel that way again.

I often hear people say that you and your spouse should go out on a date regularly.  I believe this is especially true when you have little people at home.   But when it is just the two of you there, I suggest you take time to talk.    You can catch up on what is going on in your lives and other things.   But then, take time to talk without the TV, the movies, the dinner guests, or other distractions.    

Without a doubt, I believe that your spouse is to be your first ministry.   Before the church, before the children, before anyone else.  Do you minister to your spouse?      I'm not talking about doing ministry together, which is a great thing.  I'm talking about ministering to them in ways that show you love them and that they matter to you.

At the end of my days, can I say that I loved my husband well?  Will he say that I loved him well?

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Have You Prayed for Your Husband Today?

Okay, if you are a man reading this - Have you prayed for your wife today?

Seriously, have you prayed for your husband or wife today?   Years ago when our marriage was still far from God and my husband was not yet a believer, the one thing that God taught me was to pray for my husband.  Trust me - it was all God.  I just prayed.

I firmly believe in the power of prayer, but I had no idea even where to begin or what to pray.  I had no real understanding of the Word and the power of praying scripture.  I just prayed from my heart and usually it was at least three times a day.

I got up early in the morning, set my timer for 30 minutes, and just poured my heart out to the Lord.   Then again on my lunch break I would read the Word, pull out a book I purchased that gave me some direction and pray through the written prayers in it.  

On my way home from work, I prayed.  I prayed for time.  I prayed that God would do a miracle.   I prayed for help in how to answer my husband and how to treat him.  I prayed God would help me with the housework so that our home would be inviting.  I just prayed.   No magic sentences or right order of words, just a pure heart that wanted God to work in my marriage.

Truthfully, I wanted God to fix my husband so that our marriage could be fixed.   But what happened was that while God did do a mighty work in my husband's life, he worked on me first.     If God had actually answered my prayers in the order I wanted, I would never have been the wife my husband needed.  I was too spiritually immature.

Sometimes I thought God wasn't moving fast enough.   As I look back, God moved really fast.    

One of the most encouraging things my husband said to me during those early months was when he told me that he could tell I was praying for him.  I didn't have a clue and I asked him how he knew.   His reply wasn't so much that he could tell when I was, but rather he could tell when I wasn't!!

Marriages can be extremely messy and I don't know any that don't have problems from time to time.  So whether your marriage is at the top of its game or on the last rung of the ladder of hope - pray.

God designed marriage.  He hears you when you cry out to him with a sincere heart.   If things are going well, pray for your spouse.   If things stink, pray for your spouse.   There isn't a thing that you can't take before the Lord.  He already sees and knows exactly what is going on.

One of the greatest answers, aside from salvation for my husband, was when God answered my prayer that my husband would have godly friends in his life.  I wanted my husband to have godly men who would speak into his life and that he could hang out with.  God answered.  

Do you pray for his friendships, for his job, for his health, for strength to resist whatever temptations he may face?  Do you ask God to bless your husband in specific ways?     I can't encourage you enough to pray for your spouse.    Don't wait until tomorrow - start now.