Friday, November 16, 2012

A Warning to Wives

 I’m troubled in my spirit by a trend I’ve seen in the church. 

What is it?  Wives who pull their husbands out of church because they are dissatisfied.

Here’s the scenario.  The husband and wife join the church and become involved in meaningful ways.  But over time, the wife begins to notice little things that bother her, and these annoyances get in her spirit.  The nursery has some issues.  The youth doesn’t have a full time youth pastor.  The women don’t have enough Bible studies.  There’s no opportunity to sing solos.  Somebody’s offended them.  They’re not appreciated.  Their family is having a crisis and somehow it’s the church’s fault. There’s someone in leadership with a past.  Her husband is serving so much that he can’t sit with her in service. And the list goes on and on.

So, they begin the constant “dripping” to the husband (Prov. 27:15).  The complaining.  The negativity.  The negotiating.  The positive talk about what other churches in town are doing.  “The church down the street has amazing leadership.  The church across town has more Bible studies.  The church so-and-so goes to has more programs for our kids, etc.”  Manipulate lately?

Then there’s the husband. The husband starts out happy.  He’s using his gifts and talents in service to the Lord.  He has gained credibility and a respectable position in the church. He’s reading his Bible and growing in his faith. He has brothers in the Lord whom he’s accountable to and he enjoys spending time with . . . ALL good, except for his dilemma- his wife wants to leave.  He loves his wife. He wants her to be happy.  He gets weary from her constant depressing commentary. He is caught in between his own desire to stay and his wife’s desire to go after something “better.”

How does it end?  The wife wins.  

Here’s what she doesn’t know.  Men who love going to church are rare.  According to David Murrow, in most churches the only man who practices his faith is the pastor! He explains,

“Let me be blunt: today’s church has developed a culture that is driving men away. Almost every man in America has tried church, but two-thirds find it unworthy of a couple of hours once a week. A wise Texan once told me, “Men don’t go to church ’cuz they’ve been.”
More than 90 percent of American men believe in God, and five out of six call themselves Christians. But only two out of six attend church on a given Sunday. The average man accepts the reality of Jesus Christ, but fails to see any value in going to church.” (Why Men Hate Going to Church, by David Murrow)

So, why in the world, if your husband loves going to church, has found a place to serve using his unique gifts and abilities, and is experiencing the great adventure of reaching people for Jesus, would you drag him away? 

Ladies, I’ve been dissatisfied in church.  And sometimes for valid reasons.  But, I believe when we see problems in the church we should go to our knees and begin to pray.  There are no perfect churches and no perfect church people. Stop and ask yourself-is my discontent really because of the church I’m attending or my own lack of intimacy with Christ?

Girls, do you REALLY want to be the spiritual leader in your home?  Do you REALLY want to take your husband away from Godly men?  Men who will stand by your husband and counsel him to overcome worldly temptations like pornography, addictions, anger issues, etc?  Men who will challenge your husband to be more like Christ?  Be very careful not to unwittingly become part of the enemy’s plan to steal your husband away from his walk with Christ.

Of course I believe there are legitimate reasons for leaving a church (which I won’t go into in this blog post), but leaving a healthy church you’ve served in should be done with great care and great prayer. A good test of a church’s health is:  Do the leaders have integrity?  Are they active in carrying out the Great Commission?  Will they make room for you to serve using your gifts and abilities?  Do they preach the word of God? Do they have a vision to reach the lost in the community and spread God’s love?

Monday, November 12, 2012

Shakespeare, Carpe Diem, and Virginia Trees

Our 1st visit to Williamsburg, Va.
Autumn is God’s "carpe diem" reminder.

When we first moved from California to Virginia, my kids were in awe of the endless rows of trees.  People would ask them, “What do you think of living on the East Coast?” Each would answer something like, “There’s TONS of trees . . . no, really, I’m not even joking, they’re EVERYWHERE!”

Soon, our first autumn in Virginia arrived and with it, a new appreciation of trees.  The trees began to change colors, and we couldn’t seem to get enough of the gorgeous hues: maroon, cherry red, purple, auburn, burnt orange, yellow-gold, etc.  We took visitors on drives up through Williamsburg and northern Virginia with a destination in mind, but secretly I just wanted to see the trees.

All too soon, the leaves began to turn brown.  Lonely, barren trees emerged.  The unwelcome winter arrived.  

Every year now, I’m intentional about planning outdoor events to enjoy nature’s splendid show before winter comes.  The local news even reports the “highest peak time” for the fall colors, ensuring viewers they won’t miss out.  Apple picking, pumpkin patches, and fall festivals summon people out of the house and into nature.

In life, sometimes we’re in such a hurry to get to the goal that we don’t celebrate the beauty of what God’s doing all around us.  Every day something wonderful is ours if we’ll just pay attention—“Blessed be the Lord, who DAILY loads us with benefits, even the God of our salvation.” (Ps. 68:19)

During Autumn, God reminds me to seize the day. Enjoy the beauty and joyful times of life, no matter how small or fleeting.  The changing colors of Autumn inspired Shakespeare to write the words “love that well which thou must leave ere long.” (Sonnet 73)  How will you make the most of today?