Category Archives: Challenge

Post from the Past: Submission – What Does It Really Mean?

Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the savior of the body. Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing.

Ephesians 5:22-24

What should you do when you feel that your husband isn’t treating you right? Maybe you can sense a reoccurring streak of selfishness, or maybe it’s as bad as a complete disregard for how you feel. Worse than that, perhaps you can see that he is making poor choices or ignoring the mandates set forth in God’s Word. How can you make him understand? The short answer: you can’t. You can try to reason with him; respectfully tell him exactly how you feel. Sometimes your honesty will be enough to make him take a second look at things. But in the long run, you can’t force him to believe differently about something or to behave in a certain way.

How then, should you react? Here’s my advice, although many may not agree. The Bible commands wives to submit to their husbands. I know, I know; it also commands husbands to love their wives as Christ loves the church. That means that your husband should listen to your opinions and give them a lot of weight in his decision-making, right? Well, the truth is, however your husband decides to interpret that verse, it shouldn’t have any impact on the way you interpret the preceding ones. You see, those verses aren’t set up like “if…then” statements. If the husband loves his wife, then the wife submits to her husband. What if your husband isn’t a Christian at all, and gives no thought to the Bible whatsoever? Does that automatically make you the decision-maker of the household? Because your decisions are the right ones? No. Every wife believes her opinions to be the right ones – all the time. The Bible doesn’t say, “Therefore, whosoever is wrong shall submit to whosoever is right.” God has ordained your husband to make family decisions.

The only time you can disobey your husband is if he asks you to sin against God. You cannot force him to act the way you believe God wants him to. I have found that approaching God’s command this way frees me from worry about the effects of my husband’s decisions. I obey God by obeying my husband; everything that happens in my life as a result is God’s responsibility. You see, God will never punish you for obeying him. In fact, the only way you can find His perfect will is to obey Him to the letter – even if you feel that God’s will is being hindered by others in your life. Believe me; He does have the power to perfectly order your life in spite of other humans.

Your only job is to act the way you believe God wants you to act. As a matter of fact, that is everyone’s job, and the sooner we can believe that as a church, the sooner we can begin to examine our own lives, and stop nit-picking the lives of others – either audibly by nagging them, or in our thoughts. Think about a common church service for example. Maybe the pastor is preaching about finding God’s will for your life. Maybe your husband is sitting next to you, and you just know this sermon is exactly what he needs. You speak to him after the service and discover that he thought the message was, “ok.” What? That was a life-changing message! So why isn’t he bubbling over and brainstorming areas in his life that need changing right away? Sometimes – I would venture to say all of the time – what people really need in their lives is an example of godly living. My advice is to apply every Word from God to your own life, whether you are sitting in church or having a quiet Bible study by yourself. So much time is wasted by thinking, “So-and-so really needs to hear this. I wish she were here,” or “I hope he’s paying good attention. This message is for him.” When in reality, God has you sitting under that message on that day for a reason, and I guarantee that that reason is not so you can sit there and think about who else needs to hear it. Am I making sense? Let me bring it down to one sentence:

It is not the words you speak that will change the world, but the example that you set.

Challenge: apply everything you read today to your own life.

Post from the Past: Not Real Good with Words

One of my all-time favorite posts, which I originally blogged on February 14, 2011. That just so happened to be the day that I gained my first follower. Now that I have more readers, I would like to repost this for you all! Hopefully, someone will find the encouragement that they need.

The young man on my porch stammered as he tried to think of a way to begin a conversation. Finally, he just said, “I’m not real good with words…I just thought you might like to see this.” He handed me a DVD and walked away. As I turned the homemade disc over to read the writing, I saw that it was about the Bible. The DVD was the young man’s way of letting me know about Christ. I was struck by his willingness to obey God in spite of his perceived limitations. How many times have I shied away from witnessing to someone for the fear of not knowing all the answers? How many times have I refused to play the piano or sing in church for fear of messing up? How many lives might I have touched if only I were more sensitive to the prompting of the Holy Spirit? I have found that many times, God will call us into an area of the ministry where we don’t feel comfortable serving. Why does He do this?

Exodus 4:10-11

And Moses said unto the Lord, O my Lord, I am not eloquent, neither heretofore, nor since thou hast spoken unto thy servant: but I am slow of speech, and of a slow tongue.

And the Lord said unto him, Who hath made man’s mouth? or who maketh the dumb, or deaf, or the seeing, or the blind? have not I the Lord?

1) We need Him. We must realize that we just can’t minister without Him. If He has called us to a ministry, He will provide the tools to accomplish that ministry.

Judges 7:2

And the Lord said unto Gideon, The people that are with thee are too many for me to give the Midianites into their hands, lest Israel vaunt themselves against me, saying, Mine own hand hath saved me.

2) He wants us to realize that the ministry isn’t about us; it’s about Him. He wants us to stay humble in serving others instead of getting caught up in what a great job we’re doing.

I Corinthians 1:17b

…not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect.

3) He wants others to focus on the message, not the flashy music or the perfectly delivered sermon.

II Samuel 24:24a

And the king said unto Araunah, Nay; but I will surely buy it of thee at a price: neither will I offer burnt offerings unto the Lord my God of that which doth cost me nothing.

4) He doesn’t want a sacrifice that costs us nothing to give.

I will never forget a performance I heard one summer at youth camp. A young lady with Down’s Syndrome sang the song “We Are the Reason” in front of hundreds of her peers. I was deeply moved by the message, compounded by the fact that she was willing to respond to the call of God on her life. I knew she wasn’t standing up there because she liked the sound of her own voice. But do you know what? God liked the sound of it. I liked the sound of it. I imagine that her sacrifice was a sweet savor unto God, and was perhaps more precious to Him than many of the offerings of song that we hear in services today. Too many times, we make up excuses why we can’t serve. I challenge you to serve Him in spite of your perceived limitations.

No Internet Thursdays

The problem:

Our internet service has been getting slower and slower over the course of several months. Sometimes it is so slow that it won’t load up any pages at all! We called the cable company once before, and they said they would come out and take a look, but if the problem was on our end (aka, our router), then they would charge us a service fee for coming out when it wasn’t their problem. And we would still have to buy a new router.

The solution:

A few days ago, my husband had the grand idea to plug the laptop directly into the modem to see where the problem lay, and sure enough, it was the modem and not the router. When he called again, they said he could bring the old modem in and switch it for a new one. Our cable company is a half-hour from home, but it’s near where Jesse works, so we packed up the modem Sunday night and he took it to work with him on Monday.

The other problem:

To tell you the truth, I was actually excited about an internet-less day. You see, I have a problem constantly checking my email, my blog stats, and tag surfer. I am forever looking for more blogs to comment on, and any time I find myself with a spare minute, I check out Twitter or Facebook as well. Then those spare minutes turn into minutes that I could be using to get things done around the house. They aren’t spare anymore; they’re wasted. Now I know I need to be social and network and all that, but not every single day!

The experiment:

So with an internet-less Monday looming, I just knew I would get all sorts of odds and ends accomplished, and do you know what? I did! I won’t go into detail (I always skim those posts where women brag on every single detail of their day), but I finished up several projects that had been on the back burner for awhile and got a good chunk of another one out of the way. And writing! Boy, did I write!

The resolution:

So, thanks to such a wonderful, blessed Monday, I hereby proclaim Thursdays my NO INTERNET day. (I picked Thursdays because I don’t have to be anywhere on those days, and I will have absolutely no excuse for not having a productive day.) So, in preparation, I am typing this post up ahead of time (Wednesday afternoon), and I will schedule to have it posted for me on Thursday. I am so looking forward to this mini-vacation every week!

The challenge:

Take a break, and tell us how it went! Or let us know your method of coping with all of this insanity!

What is sacrifice?

I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.

Romans 12:1

A living sacrifice. What does that mean exactly? Basically, it means we shouldn’t do everything we want to do. Even if those things are within our means. We should say no to ourselves sometimes. Deny our flesh. I have been reading When the Bottom Drops Out by Robert Bugh. I’ve really been enjoying it, and getting a lot out of it.

He had this to say about sacrifice: “Sacrifice is saying no to something you prefer so you can say yes to God. It’s placing your preferences, what you love, on the altar and telling God, ‘I want to keep this or have this or do this, but You are speaking to me and I am giving it up. Take it; it’s Yours!’…Sacrifice is counterintuitive; it’s winning by losing, gaining by giving, living by dying, doing without now so you can be rewarded later in heaven…Hear me, dear reader: as painful as it is, it’s sacrifice that will keep you from wasting your life, because it’s sacrifice and service that reveal the lordship of Christ in your life.” – pages 101-102

I don’t hate myself. I’m not going to go out of my way to make life difficult on myself. But I do know that I don’t need everything I think I do. God will take care of everything I need, and sacrificing the things I want won’t necessarily make life any harder on me. In fact, sometimes, I think sacrifice makes our lives simpler. It’s going without. It means there will be fewer things in my life to distract me from God.

What about sacrificing my time? Won’t that add things to my life? Won’t my schedule get busier if I try to minister to others when I already have so many things on my plate? Not if you sacrifice something else that eats up your time. Television is the first thing that comes to mind. Nobody needs it. On your deathbed, you won’t regret the hours you didn’t spend watching television.

What about homeschoolers? Homeschoolers are too busy already. So many things to teach, to learn. Let’s not forget the reason many of us are homeschooling in the first place. It’s not so our kids will be smarter. It’s not so they’ll get a better job or function better in society. Are we not preparing our children for a life of service to God? And do they not learn best by example?

Some ideas for sacrifice:

Change the way you eat or drink, what you watch, what you wear, the way you spend time on the internet or the phone.

Change the way you spend your money, your time, your emotions.

Change the way you relate to God, your spouse, parents, children, and others.

When you see a need, fill it. Be sensitive to the urging of the Holy Spirit.

Why does sacrifice mean so much to God?

Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.

Matthew 5:16

And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.

Romans 12:2

One-sided Conversation

Drugs. When I was in junior high, one of my best friends started dabbling in drugs. It was an extremely painful process for me. I had known all my life to “say no to drugs,” and I worried about her a lot. I specifically remember a conversation that I had with my dad one afternoon. Before he met my mother, he had experimented with pot. He explained to me how it made you feel and how it slowed down your thinking process.

Going through the motions. One thing that I remember in particular was a description of “conversation” between two people who are high. He said that two people could be sitting there talking to each other, but they were basically just going through the motions. Neither was listening to what the other had to say. One might talk about his new car, and the other might talk about his brother the whole time. Neither responds to what the other one says. Basically, they are just talking to themselves while facing one another.

One-sided conversation. The other day, I overheard two men talking to each other. One was the pastor of a church, and the other was a youth pastor at another church (judging by their conversation). Now neither of them had been experimenting with drugs (to my knowledge), but their conversation had the same one-sided qualities as the one described above. It seemed strange at first, but as their conversation progressed, it struck me just how common it was. Here are my thoughts:

No exchange of information. I would venture to say, that on some level, most conversations are just two people talking about themselves. Each participant will (usually) politely wait for the other participant/s to finish speaking; then they will say what they had decided to say 30 seconds ago. They can’t really listen to the first speaker because they might forget what it is that they really want to say. It’s funny if you happen to eavesdrop on two people who are doing this to each other. (Not funny if you catch yourself doing it.) They don’t really exchange information at all. Each comment makes them think of something else they really want to say, usually to one-up the other person’s comments. Every time each person speaks, they are continuing their own monologue from where they left off. They don’t take anything new with them when they leave the conversation, because they were “sharing” more than they were listening. I would be tempted to call this a waste of oxygen.

Challenge: Next time you find yourself doing this, try to stop imagining how interested “they” would be to hear your stories, and just listen. If you have a really bad habit, just ask questions instead of making comments.

A quick confession: I catch myself doing this all the time, to people I love and in whom I am genuinely interested. It’s a problem for me. Maybe I have made the common mistake of assuming everyone else is wired like me, so maybe I’m the only one who really needs to pay attention to this post!

Still waiting on God?

I have heard people say that God spoke to them audibly. I have never known exactly what to think of that, even though I am sure that God is quite capable of doing anything He feels like doing. A few years ago, however, I had an experience that made me wonder.

I was attending chapel at my college. It was probably the first or second time I had ever been to chapel there. Even though the university had a chapel-attendance policy, I was exempt; I was a commuting student and was rarely on campus during chapel sessions. I don’t remember what the message was about that day, but I remember sitting there in my own little world talking to God. I was asking Him what He wanted for my life. Normally, we see or hear words, but this was a completely different experience. While I didn’t hear an audible voice, I felt the very distinct impression of two specific words: Serve Me.

“Impression” is the only word I can think of that even comes close what I felt. Now as to whether these words came straight from heaven, or whether they were just the culmination of everything that I already knew, I have no idea. But as I was thinking about this experience later, more and more I got the impression that I should have already known the answer. It doesn’t really matter whether God spoke directly to me, or whether I just happened to figure it out in that instant. Either way, I’m absolutely sure what God wants me to do with the rest of my life: serve Him.

Serve Him. Am I being too simplistic? I don’t think so. I guess you could just brush it off as a phrase that you have heard one too many times. Maybe it has lost its meaning to you. But if you will take a moment to consider the implications, I think you will see that those two little words offer a life-changing experience. Taken literally, they have the power to change the life of everyone who comes into contact with you. Those words, acted upon, will function as a stone tossed into the middle of a sea of souls. Whether a large stone or a small one is entirely up to you.

How do I serve Him? One obvious way we can serve Him is by serving others. “…Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.” Matthew 25:40b.

Why do I think I should have already known the answer?

Because God has already told us to serve. It is not a suggestion, but a standing order. “…but by love serve one another. For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.” Galatians 5:13c-14.

Because Jesus is our example. “For even the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.” Mark 10:45.

Christ’s first miracle as a man occurred because there was a need to be met. John 2:1-11.

The question then, is how can we serve? Find a person with a need and fill it. Find an organization that helps people with needs and volunteer. No act of kindness is too small. The more spontaneous, unexpected, and undeserved it is, the greater impact it will have. If you have an abundance of time or money, start by offering these. If you don’t have either, find ways to consume less of what you do have so that you will have some left over to share with others. What do you think is more effective: knocking on doors and inviting complete strangers to church, or serving someone in the community, stranger or not, and following up with a conversation about Christ? They may even ask you why in the world you are offering your time, money, sweat, etc. This will open the door to explain how your actions are nothing compared to the love of God and the free, undeserved gift of salvation.

When can we serve? Start by cutting out as much television as you possibly can. Remember that everything in this world will be burned up, and that we could be taken off this earth at literally any moment. Get up a little earlier or go to bed a little later. Take a week or a month, and inventory how you spend your time. Try not to worry too much about loss of personal time. Time means nothing to those who have an eternity to look forward to. Any time lost to serving others and spreading the gospel will most certainly be redeemed after you are resurrected. You will be laying up treasure in heaven. Of course, you must still make time for your family: they are your responsibility, and serving them is just as important as serving others.

Do you ever feel like you can’t do anything else without direction from God? Do you feel you have been waiting for years, and you are just tired of waiting? Sometimes I fear that we Christians use “waiting on God” as an excuse. He has already given us direction for our lives. Why do we think we need to wait for a personal word from God, in addition to what He has given us in His Word? Are we waiting for Him to drop an opportunity into our laps? Are we waiting to be the leader of a ministry? Our own ministry? That’s our first mistake. Ministry is about everyone except us. Sometimes, we don’t recognize God’s will because it doesn’t line up with our own will. He wants us working, not sitting around waiting for Him to knock us over the head with an answer that we approve of. I’m not suggesting that we stop waiting on the Lord. He commands us to do that as well. I’m merely suggesting that we do both – obey His commandments, and wait, expecting Him to lead us to the next step.

Challenge: Still waiting on God? All well and good. But in the meantime, obey the call to service.

Do we truly believe that God is in control?

If you study biology, chemistry, astronomy – well, just pick a science – you will gain an appreciation for God’s ingenuity and power like never before. For instance, the human body is a fearfully wonderful thing. When it’s working properly, every tiny cell is serving a purpose. They all work together to keep us alive. I have begun to mentally apply this awesome microscopic design on a larger scale – to the workings of every living person on earth. Does God have enough power to direct every detail of every person’s life in order to accomplish His will? He does. It seems to me that every person on the earth is like one cell in the body of God’s design. He is winding things up in preparation for The End, and we are all a part of that.

My way of looking at life has changed over the years. I used to believe that God only took a hand in the big events in my life. I used to believe that He just allowed some things to happen on their own – without any consideration from Him. I think I was making excuses for Him in my mind. I didn’t want to believe that people could suffer and die because of a decision on His part (tragic deaths, natural disasters, etc). The events of September 11, 2001 really bothered me. Why would God choose to end all of those lives? At the time – one thing never occurred to me: God loved those people more than I have ever loved anyone. God wanted a relationship with each of them. Do you think He allowed even one to die that, given one more chance, would have accepted Him? I like to think that the entire population of those who died that day were either already saved, or had made up their minds already against God. I know that’s radical, but I believe that God is just that powerful. And if that’s not the way He works, then I trust that His way is even better, and makes even more sense.

I don’t know when it happened or what caused it, but my perspective has changed a lot over the past year or so. I now believe – wholeheartedly – that God is in direct control of every tiny thing. I believe that He is telling the literal truth when He says that, “All things work together for good [my own emphasis].” The question is, do we really believe that He has that much power? Do we believe, for instance, when it rains, that it is exactly what every Christian needs on that day? When we get a new job, or when our dryer stops working, do we believe that He is blessing and/or molding us into something better? I’ve finally stopped worrying about things I can’t control. I figure that if I have sinned (say, for instance, that I’m a lazy employee), then I can take myself out of God’s will for my life. If I lost my job at that point, I would blame myself. However, if something happens, and I know that I haven’t had anything to do with it, I assume that God wanted it to happen. I assume that it’s in my best interest. In other words, my own sin is the only thing that can hinder God’s perfect will in my life. I know that a lot of people won’t agree with me. I just believe that He has enough power over our lives to work every tiny detail according to His will. Now, when something “bad” happens, I think, “What can I learn from this? What is God trying to tell me?”

Challenge: Obey God in every small detail. Trust Him to take care of everything else.

How do others see you?

When your family, friends, or even a stranger looks at you, what do they see? When you speak, what do they hear? What do we communicate by our actions and attitudes?

What about Christianity in general? Some people have had real experiences with hateful or condescending Christians. When I walk away from an encounter, I want to leave the person thinking, “Oh, so that’s what Christianity is supposed to be like!” I want the world to see that being a Christian is a desirable thing. I want people to realize that my relationship with God is what makes me strive to be happy, productive, and graceful in all situations. Now, it’s easy to be happy when things are going well. However, if you want to leave a lasting impression, try being graceful when things aren’t going your way. Those you are dealing with will be stricken by your reactions, especially if their job has them in a situation where people are upset with them quite often. The next time you get cheated at the store, on a bill, etc, react with grace and compassion for the person who has to “deal” with you. That person’s soul is far more important than any amount of time or money you may have lost.

Challenge: Look for opportunities to surprise others by your graceful reactions. Maybe your toddler will break a dish today or you will feel cheated by your insurance company. React in a way that portrays Christ.

Keith Green

“My eyes are dry; my faith is old. My heart is hard; my prayers are cold.

And I know how I ought to be: alive to You, and dead to me.”

This old song by Keith Green has been running through my mind a lot lately. I had been singing it on and off for days (the parts I could remember), and my 6-year-old finally asked if I knew any more of it. So on Friday, I dug out my seemingly ancient Keith Green CDs and began listening again. I love his music: he was, in my estimation, the Christian version of Billy Joel. He was very straightforward – very blatant in his statement of faith. The words that he chose to illustrate the Christian walk are almost stark: listening to his lyrics gives you the impression that you are being faced with the Truth, with no excuses between you and it to soften the blow.

I know that a lot of Christian artists have written tons of music expounding on the deep things of God, but here’s the kicker: as I was listening the other day, I realized that I had been thinking all these years that Keith Green was a new convert when he wrote these songs. I asked myself why I would have been under that impression all this time; some of the lyrics are pretty deep. How could a person just saved have written so many experience-laden songs about the Christian walk? As I began searching my mind for the answer, I suddenly realized the difference between Mr. Green and most Christian celebrities: he was so humble in his walk with the Lord. His music exudes a meek attitude: the fact that he was so undeserving. It feels like he was a new Christian because (in my mind, at least) he had not had time to develop that attitude of self-righteousness that so many “mature” Christians emit. I think that, above all, I love his honesty about his imperfect walk with the Lord, and his willingness to share his shortcomings with the world in an effort to challenge Christians into a genuine relationship with God.

Challenge: Can we live what we believe? But can we do it without an attitude of self-righteousness? Let’s make every moment count for the Kingdom today – but let’s not feel too proud of ourselves. We must remember in the process that our own righteousness is like filthy rags.


Every time I tell my son, Ian, how proud I am of the way he’s behaved or of the work he’s accomplished, I try to remind him that he is no better than other people. God loves us all the same. Even if Ian’s a little smarter than average, God loves him no more than He loves those who are mentally handicapped. In fact, I have known many people handicapped in various ways, and some of them seem to serve God more completely than many others I have known. It seems they don’t have any hidden agendas; their lives are focused on loving God and other people.

If my son behaves exceptionally well for a day, I stress that he is still no better than those who commit crimes. We all sin; we all deserve to pay the consequences. Ian has been lucky to have received the gospel at a young age. In fact, I would go so far as to say that it is worse for us to commit a sin such as gossip than for an unbeliever to commit adultery, etc. We know better; the Holy Spirit tugs at our hearts and says, “Don’t do that.” Yet we often ignore Him and live and act the way we want to.

As I struggle to improve my life spiritually, financially, and physically, I have to resist the little thoughts that float through my head every day. Things such as, “Wow! They are so far behind on their bills already! Why are they buying another video game,” and “Why is she ordering pizza if she’s trying to lose weight?” The worst thing is, I bounce back and forth a lot and do the same exact types of things. I’m no better than anyone else! – Worse, for being tempted to think I am.

Challenge: base your worth on the fact that God created you and loves you. Base it on nothing else. Do your best to remember that God loves us all the same. The next time you even begin to think that you are better than someone else, be it rich man, poor man, beggar man, thief – pray and plead for humility.