Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Friendships - Three Good Friends

Job was a lucky man - he had three good friends. When his friends heard of all the calamitous things that had happen to him, the three of them made a plan to see their beleaguered friend. When they saw him they sat with him for seven days and said nothing.

Then they opened their mouths - and it all went downhill from there.  Thankfully the friendship survived.

It's great to have friends that can be there for us through the good, but especially the bad. The Bible speaks a lot about friendships; even Jesus had his disciples who were followers and friends. John 15:13-15[NLT]

Job's friends were intentional - when they heard, they got together, and traveled from their homes to be with him. Imagine this, in the time before cell phones or email. The communication was not instantaneous and yet in spite of the elapsed time they made a plan to be there for their friend. Whenever they got there it would be the right time.

Job's friends shared his grief - .When they first saw him they cried loudly - these were some emotional men! Then they sat with him for seven days and seven nights and said nothing for they saw that his suffering was great - this is the epitome of being there for a friend. Your presence alone is a wonderful comfort; nothing needs to be said.

Job's friends were male - we make a big deal today about female friendships and the need for girlfriends, but a little known fact is that men need friendships also and Job had this in spades. Men can be vulnerable and open with each other (in their own way) and reap the benefits of friendship.

Job proved to be a very good friend, for at the end of his trials Job prayed for his friends in spite of some of the things they said to, and about him, and then Job was restored. Is there a correlation?

11 When three of Job’s friends heard of the tragedy he had suffered, they got together and traveled from their homes to comfort and console him. Their names were Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite, and Zophar the Naamathite. 12 When they saw Job from a distance, they scarcely recognized him. Wailing loudly, they tore their robes and threw dust into the air over their heads to show their grief. 13 Then they sat on the ground with him for seven days and nights. No one said a word to Job, for they saw that his suffering was too great for words. Job 2: 11-13 [NLT]

Human beings seem to do better when they have friends around; it's as if we were wired for this interaction.

How many of us have three good friends? How many of us can forgive our friends and remain friends with them?


Saturday, October 3, 2015

On Being a Wife - Job's Wife

"Why don't you curse God and die?" This is what Job's wife said to Job at the height of his suffering. Job had recently lost his livestock, his children and his health. Job's wife was there as he was going through all of his losses, because she also lost possessions and her children also, but not her health. The loss of her children would be just as painful as the loss of Job's health; she was suffering in conjunction with Job.

Curse God and die - was this the raging of a mad woman or someone who was overly concerned for her husband?

If God knew Job was a righteous man, surely his wife knew. She knew his heart.  Seeing him at his lowest point and not being able to do anything for him, she probably blurted out what she thought would release him from his misery - death. And since Job was so righteous the only sure fire way that she could think of for death to occur would be to curse God, anger God, reject the very deity that Job has been so faithful to his whole life; because in her grief she had a warped view of God.

But Job's response indicated that he knew that she wasn't literally suggesting he do so - he said she speaks like a foolish woman, not that she was a foolish woman. Job knew his wife was not a foolish woman but in her grief she sounded like something she was not. Job was a smart man and recognized that. Because whatever his response and reaction to her, the Bible says, "In all of this Job sinned not."  He didn't sin in his response to her.  Sometimes in wanting the best for our spouses and doing all that we can but yet not feeling their pain, our anguished thoughts may not come out as clearly as they should. According to Job's wife, death would release Job from his suffering.

The Bible doesn't indicate that Job's wife suffered a greater fate for her words, and we know that Job was restored and went on to have ten more children. When we are suffering in marriage, the whole unit suffers, but we may not always express ourselves poignantly in our deepest grief to each other. This is where knowing each other's heart and having a solid foundation is important. This is why you never stop talking and communicating with each other.

If you've lashed out at your spouse because of their pain, I hope your spouse receives it in the spirit it was intended. I hope they understand that it pains you to see them suffer and if you could you would do anything humanly possible to stop their pain. I hope they don't respond in kind to you. I hope you get the opportunity to come back and clearly express yourself and perhaps ask forgiveness. Tricky times wreak havoc, but let's use use it to come together, not pull apart. .

But Job replied, “You talk like a foolish woman. Should we accept only good things from the hand of God and never anything bad?” So in all this, Job said nothing wrong. Job 2:10 [NLT]

What can you learn from Job's wife?

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Suppressed Rules

The other day, at a busy 4 way intersection the traffic light ceased to work. Now while this may seem like a recipe for chaos and mishap, quite the opposite occurred. Somehow everyone knew to be more cautious and to take turns so that accidents were prevented. A non working traffic light at a 4 way intersection, functions the same way as a 4 way stop sign.This is something you learned in driver's ed, but rarely have a chance to use.

Expecting chaos and not having any, provides a feeling of relief and it's because we can fall back on what we know.

As I drove through the intersection I realized that this could only happen because every driver was familiar with this unwritten, suppressed rule of the road.

They are other situations in life, where we know what to do, but because its occurrence is not common, we neglect it. Also what's rare for one might not be the same for another. So in my case it's dealing with elderly parents - managing care and being mindful of their emotional state. This is new to me (I don't have any grandparents). But I know it's part of honoring my parents, so I do it. I've also learned that the parent child relationship is enriched when you're adults - pretty much nothing is off limits and the older generation offers an interesting and sometimes much needed perspective.

Suppressed rules revolve around what should be done in the situation.- things people sometimes don't like to hear under normal circumstances and remind us not to take our "normal" for granted; because at some point your normal can change.

Don't wait for a broken traffic light to remember to be courteous to other drivers on the road. In the same vein don't wait until something or someone is gone to realize that you didn't handle with care.

Be on guard. Stand firm in the faith. Be courageous.[a] Be strong. 1 Corinthians 16:13 [NLT]

So be on your guard, not asleep like the others. Stay alert and be clearheaded. 1 Thessalonians 5:6 [NLT]

The end of the world is coming soon. Therefore, be earnest and disciplined in your prayers. 1 Peter 4:7 [NLT]

Your normal can change in the blink of an eye. Are you ready?

Sunday, September 27, 2015

This Person I've Become - Nature Lover

Tonight I saw the blood moon.

After the sunset, but before the moon

I didn't know much about it before hand, but I had heard about it. Some Christians have beliefs around what this red moon signifies, but I hold no such beliefs. I was simply curious and a tad bit bored.

So we ventured out to a popular hiking spot and it was crowded - seems like many had the same idea.

We parked our car and somehow I got in to a conversation with an elderly gentleman named Neil.  He seemed knowledgeable about what was supposed to be happen, but it turns out he was just like me - curious. While waiting for the moon to show, we talked about everything and nothing in particular. He was a gregarious man. He thought because I was black, I bought in to some of the spiritual significance of what this moon could potentially signify.  We chatted and waited and when he left he hugged and kissed my daughters and I. And as soon as he left the moon showed her pretty face. I was excited. The moon was red, but it was blocked by clouds but it was still a sight to see.

I kept saying - "There it is! There it is, I can't believe it."

I was awestruck, because so many from around the world were witnessing this phenomenom also.

All I could think was:

The heavens proclaim the glory of God. The skies display his craftsmanship.
Day after day they continue to speak; night after night they make him known. Psalm 19, 1,2 [NLT]

Did you witness the blood moon? What were your thoughts?

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

War Room and Marriage

Today my husband and I saw War Room - the movie that brings a Christian spiritual perspective to the masses. Before I saw this movie marriage was on my mind:

It's a good thing - it has the ability to bring out the best in you through much trial and error. Just like in raising children, there's no definitive formula for having a successful marriage but there are traits that improve the situation.  Living and loving closely isn't always smooth sailing, but the importance of a solid foundation becomes prominent as you navigate the ups and downs of life.

Iron sharpens iron - the best in you sharpens the best in him and vice versa.

Don't neglect yourself for the sake of your marriage - this is often overlooked. Nowadays it sounds like taking "me" time with a focus on physical renewal. However if you had a solid walk, and a strong pray life, prior to marriage then this is something that you need to continue. This practice produces the best you. When two become one, it's two solid people that do so. To neglect this individual aspect of your union does not a strong union make.  It seems counter intuitive - but when two people have strong walks and come together and continue their individual spiritual practices while at the same time adding  to it, the union becomes stronger. The spiritual aspect affects the rest of you. Your pray time and time with God, literally provides practical application for day to day living. It is one of the most effective ways to affect change in your relationship.


One of the comments from the movie was, "It's hard being a woman." When I would say this, my husband would say, "It's hard being a man." I would have to agree with both statements. Some of the hardness has to do with cultural expectations combined with personality and general expectations. Being in relationship with others brings out the best and the worst in us, because though married we are still human with all of our flaws in addition to everything else.

I like that War Room shows a version of marriage most people don't see, in a demographic that is often overlooked. We've heard people talk and heard the Christian cliches, but the movie provides a visual representation of:

Praying for each other instead of trying to change each other - Elizabeth's prayer life has lapsed due to the busyness of life. But she knows and loves the Lord. Her husband, Tony seems to be even more cursory in his walk and his faith doesn't appear to have an impact on his daily life. This shows up in his actions at work, and how he treats his family. Elizabeth is burdened by the state of her marriage and wants it to change, but she seems to be at her wits end. Enter Ms. Clara who has seen how prayer changes things. There comes a point in the story where Elizabeth is forced to pray and she takes Ms. Clara's lessons to heart and establishes a War Room in her house - a place that is quiet and private where she can spend uninterrupted time with the Lord - and begins to pray earnestly for her marriage, her husband, her family, her house, and herself.

Christians can make dumb mistakes - Tony has made some poor choices and ultimately loses his job. Elizabeth knows her husband's flaws, but because she is no longer focusing on him and what he's not doing she can respond in a way that astounds him and forces him to search his heart and ultimately confess, repent to his wife and God, and change his ways.

Spiritual warfare - As Elizabeth prays for her family, she recognizes that she is fighting a battle in prayer. Sometimes when we have minor arguments that erupt in to big things I wonder how we got here. At these times, it is distinctly impressed on my heart that the devil does not like thriving Christian families and creates distractions that take our eyes off of our purpose. As Elizabeth prayed she recognized that something was trying to tear her family apart, but no more. In the mighty name of Jesus, it had to flee. When you recognize the enemy you are dealing with, you can pray smartly so that he is defeated.

Mentoring - Ms. Clara wasn't always a prayer warrior; she didn't always know how to pray and didn't always read the Bible. But now that she is, and she has seen visible proof in the transformation of Elizabeth, she charges Elizabeth to do the same for another person. She shares with Elizabeth how seeing her grow has strengthened her faith as well.

I have found that praying and spending time with the Lord, provides wisdom that you just do not have unless you do so. It gives you the courage to act and speak wisely. You have a confidence that belies your current situation. Now, I don't have a physical war room in my house and I don't typically write my prayers down. I have a prayer time daily in the quiet of the day where I read and pray. I know the importance of pray and set aside time to do so daily.

Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all believers everywhere. Ephesians 6:18 [NLT]

Do you pray for your marriage? Do you pray for your spouse? Will you see this movie?