Tuesday, August 29, 2017

When Hospitality Costs You





As a pastor's wife, we've all been in that situation. Your husband tells you he's invited a committee to meet at your house and will need refreshments served...or someone's coming to speak and will need to stay at your house...or the staff Christmas party will be at your house in two days!  

Hopefully, you and your pastor-husband communicate well and plan ahead. But there are always those times that the unexpected happens...and God uses those circumstances to squeeze us. We have a choice in how we respond. 

God expects us to be hospitable. (I Timothy 3)  The problem is...I don't always feel like being hospitable. And sometimes (most of the time) hospitality costs us--time, money, physical & emotional energy, etc.  

So what's the key?  I've learned a few things through the years. The times I don't want to be hospitable usually turn out to be some of the most meaningful experiences. I remember Andy wanting to invite a family to our home for dinner and money was so tight that I told him the only thing we could offer them was a sandwich. But he still wanted to invite them. I was embarrassed. But they came. That family became some of our very best friends. And the woman confided years later that they'd had nothing to eat because they'd just moved to town and we're waiting on their first paycheck. Our friendship was sealed over a sandwich. 

Hospitality always seems to cost something. But the reason it does is because it's so VALUABLE. Hospitality is God's way of inviting others into our lives. It's the very plan He uses to grow the Church. There's something so important about sharing a meal together!  Jesus did it over and over with His disciples. Eating together opens our hearts to one another. 

I encourage you to be hospitable...even when you don't feel like it.

Monday, August 28, 2017

Job's Wife


My sister, Becky Sanders Dietz and I were discussing the subject of Job's wife, and she had such great insight I asked her to co-author a blog with me.  I'm glad I did!  Here's the outcome of that collaboration...Sandra Langford. 

Job had a pretty good life.  He was, though not perfect, a man devoted to God.  In fact, in Job 2:3 God Himself said of Job, "No one else on earth is like him, a man of perfect integrity, who fears God and turns away from evil.” His reputation was infallible. Job was a man of wealth and a father to seven sons and three daughters.  His family appeared to have a happy and close relationship. They would have a feast "each on his appointed day" (probably their birthday) and invite each other to the parties.  After the feast, Job would offer a sacrifice in case any of his children had sinned in their hearts. 

Then, one day, God looks upon Job and with pride, and asks Satan the life changing question for Job. "Have you considered my servant Job?" With that simple question, Job loses everything, his animals, servants, and finally his sons and daughters.  Everything, that is, but his wife.

I had never considered before why Satan the accuser chose not to kill Job's wife.  But why kill her if you can use her?  Satan first afflicted Job with painful boils all over his body. Then he attacked Job through the words of his wife, "Why don't you curse God and die?"  Satan knows better than we do how powerful our influence is over our husbands.  Her words are actually suggesting treason against God. "Declare a rebellion and insurrection against God and His kingdom!"  

How many of you wives have ever thought, "I could do this life so much better without my husband!"?  I have. This isn't my own thought--but one the Great Insurrector put in my mind. Satan wants to divide us as husband and wife. Every single girl longs to be married and every married woman longs to do it alone. It's Satan's way of spreading discontent and disunity. (And it has been working for thousands of years!) If our marriages are a picture of Christ & the Church, Satan will do everything in his power to destroy it. 

Even though Job's wife was used by the enemy to try and cause an insurrection against God--and even against their marriage--God used her as part of the restoration process.  When God restored everything to Job, He also gave an increase.  He doubled all he'd owned...everything, that is, except children. He received exactly what he'd lost--7 sons and 3 daughters. But I like to think peace, spicyness, and allure came into his marriage in spades. After all...that's what he named his new daughters!  Job and his wife were the age of grandparents by this time.  That can bring hope into marriages which are in that stage.  I believe the marriage of Job and his wife was completely restored.  I believe it became everything God intended it to be--a picture of Christ & the Church.
--Sandra Langford

Sunday, August 27, 2017

INTIMACY



Tonight, Jamie Shuck led our youth in an exercise of emptying our cups of pleasure and culture (good or bad) at the cross...and lifting our cups and asking God to fill it with Him. It was a powerful moment as I realized how empty I was. 

I know the way to be filled is intimacy with God. It's listening to Him--from His Word and in my heart. And me sharing my heart with Him. Jamie even read Psalm 23:5 to us. "You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You anoint my head with oil; My cup runs over."

As I came home and began journaling what God had shown me tonight, I told God I desired a deeper intimacy with Him--I had let the world and circumstances crowd Him out. I'd lost focus. Immediately, a picture came into my mind of me sitting at the table feasting with Him--intimately. Just like the couple in this photo. I was so enthralled with God, I had no awareness of the enemy around me. This was a completely different interpretation I'd ever had of Psalm 23:5!  

I want to be that enthralled with Jesus!!  I want to be so intimate with Him that the enemy can do all kinds of shenanigans around me--and I only have eyes for my King.

Saturday, August 26, 2017

When the Enemy Taunts




What is your first response when God is putting a plan in your heart and the enemy taunts you?  I'm guessing it's to stop...retreat...cower in fear...listen to the enemy...watch the enemy...talk to like-minded friends about that mean ol' enemy!

That's what the Israelites were doing for 40 days as Goliath sneered at them. Then as soon as David arrived and heard Goliath, God began putting a plan in David's heart. He began asking what the reward would be for the person who killed this giant who was mocking God. And David was eattacked, taunted, jeered, and made fun of--by his own brother, Eliab. 

What did David do?  Very simply...he ignored his brother. Now this brother was his oldest brother--and David was the baby of the family. For David to ignore him shows how powerful this was. I imagine God had been in the process of strengthening David's inner man as he spent so much time alone caring for his father's sheep. God had already told David he would be the next king. God had sent a lion and bear for him to kill and overcome. And David knew it wasn't about him--it was all about God. 

What plan is God putting in your heart?  Has the Enemy taunted you about it?  He may even speak through those closest to you. He may use intimidation you've lived with your whole life. You should have one response...
Ignore it. 

"Eliab: Why have you come down here? Who is watching your tiny flock in the wilderness? I’m your brother, and I know you—you’re arrogant, and your heart is evil. You’ve come to watch the battle as if it were just entertainment.

David: What have I done now? I was just asking a question.

David ignored him and asked another soldier the same question, and the people gave him the same answer. When news of David’s valiant words reached the king, Saul sent for David."