Jumat, 16 Juli 2010
Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother, and shall be joined to his wife: as though they had one body.
25 And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed.
GENESIS 2:24 GMRV
Do you remember the first time that you were naked in front of your spouse? Everyone has had their own experience, but I think that in all of us, there was this initial feeling of insecurity. I remember the first time I made love to my husband, I was so insecure! I wondered what he thought of me. I wondered if he found me attractive. In the romance novels you always read of how the woman falls into the man's arms and is swept away with passion. Forget being swept away with passion, the whole time I wondered if I was doing it right and what was going through his mind!
Not very romantic at all is it? Well it was round about that time that I discovered that the things I had read in romance novels were just that...novels...story books. Reality and fantasy did not mix and it took me a while to discover that romance was not something that just happens, but something you grow into together. I learned that passion was not just based on the flesh, but something that is developed in your soul too.
As time went on, I became more comfortable being naked around my husband. We had a wonderful sex life and I felt like the most blessed woman in all the world. Yet something was lacking. Even though I knew the "breathless passion" was something only to be found in story books, I was sure that there was more romance to be found in a marriage.
So I did what any sensible woman would do. I prayed that my husband would come right! I prayed that he would learn to be more romantic. Well you know how the Lord is. When you pray and give Him an opportunity to bring change in your marriage, He usually starts with the person who thinks they need the least help. In this case...it was me. Was I in for a surprise! The Lord did not waste any time at all in showing me my very closed heart. He showed me how even though I had a loving and tender husband, that I chose rather to get my emotional and other soulish needs met in my work and in other people.
Instead of being satisfied with just lying in his arms, I had to get up and work and strive and do other things to meet that need. Only when I had pushed myself hard and worked as much as I could, did I feel I had accomplished. Not only had this brought a very big wall between us, but it also killed any chance of romance! I suddenly realized that it was impossible for my husband to romance me at all, while I was running around getting my needs met elsewhere.
It was during this time that I truly came to learn about a heavenly marriage. So just like the first time we made love, I took a chance and removed the clothes and the covers from my heart. I opened my heart to my husband and began to share my needs, desires and cares. Then I did not run off and do work, but chose to lay in His arms and to allow his touch and his words to comfort me and meet my need. Something miraculous happened that night and I could relate to Adam and Eve in our passage above who "felt no shame" even though they were both naked. For the first time I could have my husband there to meet my need and then together we could come into the presence of the Lord.
Perhaps you find it easy to talk with your spouse and share all your cares with them, but are you also ready to allow them to meet your needs? Or do you say what you need to say to your spouse and then go and have a drink, watch a move, get on chat with someone else, go out or get some more work done?
The key is not just about sharing your heart, but waiting a little while to find rest and fulfillment with your spouse.
This is not a complicated thing. How difficult was it to take off your clothes the first time? It was not hard at all! It just took a simple choice and the rest followed. Well being naked in spirit and in soul is the same choice. It means making a choice to stay with your spouse a little longer. To look into their eyes a little longer and to choose to put away the other things that have been meeting your needs up until now.
This Story Has A Happy Ending
Even though things started off bumpy with my husband, I am pleased to say that this story does have a happy ending. I discovered that the novels and story books left out a whole chapter on real romance and passion. With that one little choice, something began to happen in our marriage. Suddenly my husband found me more attractive than ever and suddenly I found my husband more attractive than ever. We could not wait to get alone in the evening and would often feign weariness so that we could chase the kids to bed and take an extra hour together. Our times of communication in the evenings became fun!
Suddenly I wanted to make love more...to just be with him! My husband was pleasantly surprised, but did not ask any questions, just enjoying the moment. As for me, I discovered that my husband was an incurable romantic after all. I had just never hung around long enough to see it.
So let me both challenge and encourage you today. Romance, passion and joy are God's gifts to you in marriage. When you allow your marriage to be the one thing that entertains, encourages, motivates and blesses you, everything else will fall quickly into place. When you are secure in your marriage, you can handle any kind of pressure or stress. So I challenged you...get naked with your spouse. Not just physically, but bare your heart to them also and then just wait in their presence and allow them to meet the needs and desires you have.
It is a big leap to a relationship that is more romantic...more passionate...more HEAVENLY!
Selasa, 13 Juli 2010
WHY The 'WILDERNESS'?
The 'wilderness' is not a concept that is understood too well in
Christendom, despite the fact that it is all the way through the
Bible. From the book of Genesis right through Revelation there
are clear references to the 'wilderness' as being something God
often employs in His dealings with men. The pattern is undeniable.
When we look through the Scriptures we see that the wilderness
is often a place of spiritual "crisis" and also preparation. It is the
place God sends us before the "real action" begins - before we
enter into the full purposes of God in our lives. There must be
'death' before there can be resurrection. There must be a desert
place before the "promised land".
The wilderness is a place of trial and testing, of brokenness and
full surrender to God. The props and activities that have kept us
continually striving to "make things happen" are stripped away.
Our self-reliance is shattered and replaced with a total reliance on
God alone. Every "idol" in our lives (often including our own ministry)
is brought under the piercing searchlight of God. Our selfish motives
and ambitions are shown for what they are. This process may take
years. Finally we emerge broken, chastened and purified. The
process has matured and cleansed us in so many ways. We are
now ready for the fulfillment of all that God originally called us to
do. But our heart-motives are vastly different from what they were
We see this pattern all the way through Scripture. Many lessons
can be learned from what we read there. Abraham, Joseph, Joshua,
Moses, David, Elijah, John the Baptist, Paul the apostle - and even
Jesus Himself - all had to go through this "wilderness" experience.
Very often it lasted for years and years. Why then should we be
surprised if it happens to us?
Probably the best-known instance of a 'wilderness experience' in
the Old Testament is the story of Moses and the children of Israel.
Moses had been raised and trained all his life in the palaces of
Egypt. But when he came face-to-face with his heritage as an
Israelite, he rose up "in his own strength" and killed an Egyptian
slave-driver. He was then forced to flee into the desert, where he
was to spend 40 YEARS as a simple shepherd in the wilderness.
What an enormous length of time! Imagine if every Christian leader
had to spend that long in the wilderness before God would allow
them to lead His people! It is almost impossible to imagine the
depths of despair and "death" to all his dreams and hopes that
Moses went through during this time. In fact, after 40 years it is
hard to imagine anyone being "deader" to the usual ambitions
and temptations of leadership than Moses would have been. And
what PATIENCE these years of waiting must have produced in him!
We see here the lengths that God will go to in the "preparation"
of a leader "after His own heart." (-Though 40 years is unusually
long). The isolation, the chafing, the crying out to God for deliverance
- all play their part. Such an experience is almost irreplaceable.
That is why God uses it so often. The hearts of driven men are so
similar in so many ways, that God's "cure" becomes similar also!
He will even shut us up in a kind-of 'prison' for a time so we cannot
escape the process. It is that important. He does not want 'self'-
oriented leaders shepherding his precious sheep.
After his 40 years of preparation, Moses returned to Egypt at God's
command to lead His people out of bondage. This was the beginning
of the entire nation of Israels' wilderness experience. For when they
left Egypt the only way to their "Promised Land" was through the
desert. Some commentators say that in a straight line, their journey
could have taken just a few weeks or less. But because of their
disobedience and fear, the vast majority of those who left Egypt
were destined to die in the desert, never reaching the Promised
Land. In fact, their wilderness journey ended up taking 40 years!
Now we need to take special note of this fact:- Not everyone who
entered the wilderness survived it. In fact, multitudes perished there.
The wilderness tried them and found them wanting. They went to
the place of testing and failed the test. This is a pretty crucial fact
to realize in our day also. Just because we are "called out" and
enter a wilderness time, does not mean that we will embrace the
dealings of God and respond appropriately. It is entirely possible
to lose everything out there. These people lost out completely.
Only their children came through to inherit the promises of God.
How clearly we see this pattern over and over again - in both the
Old Testament and the New:- That many whom God wants to one
day use are sent into a place of aloneness and brokenness before
being brought into their true destiny. We have not even mentioned
heroes of God such as Noah, Jacob, Job and others who all had
similar experiences. Part of this process lies in the "waiting" that
takes place. Also, the fact that all the supporting 'props' are taken
away. The "waiting" alone can be torture.
The wilderness also deals with any fear of man or 'systemized'
way of looking at things. God often uses it to bring a whole fresh
perspective, which is very important for leaders who are going to
be representing a "new" approach or facing opposition because of
the confrontational words that they are bringing. The lonely desert
years give them backbone to stand up to the crowd or the powers-
that-be, and declare God's truth without compromise. They now
truly fear God rather than man. And they think differently from
others. The wilderness is vital for anyone who is wanting to bring
fresh manna to God's people.
Are you someone who has been going through such a "desert"
experience, my friend? Be encouraged! Look up, for your deliverance
draws nigh. God only ever sends His children through such
experiences when there is a great purpose to it. Don't give up. Don't
be cast down. On the other side lies a 'land of promise' if only you
can hang on to Jesus. Be active, be praying, be prepared. Don't
become "passive" and let the desert swallow you whole. Use this
time to draw closer and closer to Jesus. Dig down and plant your
feet firmly on the Rock. Humble yourself before the Lord and He
will lift you up in due time - if only you can cling to Him.
-Please comment on this article at the following website-
God bless you all.
Senin, 12 Juli 2010
Looking Forward To The Future
It was a time when you were not woken up at 4 in the morning by the cry of a newborn baby. It was a time when there were so many new things ahead of you. Hopes, dreams...expectations. So much was possible. It was a time when you were dating or newly married with a new and wonderful road up ahead. You could not wait to begin walking it!
Yet as you have continued walking this road of marriage, the romance of the first moments started to become a little dull. Conflicts, pressures of life and a growing family can make you forget how you started this walk. Often you become so caught up in all of your problems and conflicts that you even forget to look at the wonderful things any longer.
This week I want to take your hand and walk you back down memory lane and then show you a much brighter future. Can you remember the first time you met? Perhaps it was a good time, perhaps not. But can you remember when you first felt that love for your spouse? The person you wanted to be with more than anyone else.
Yes, if you look back a lot has changed. You have changed, your spouse has changed and those memories might seem like wonderful fantasies now. You look at yourself in the mirror and you can tell that you certainly do not look the same way any more. You also know that inside, you are not the same person any more.
Well praise the Lord for that! Can't you see how much you have grown and changed as a couple?
I want you to go back and remember what it was like when you first met. Write down a list of qualities and impressions that you had of your spouse back then. Then fast forward and take a look at the qualities and impression that you have of your spouse right now. Can't you see how much they have changed? Over time can't you see how the two of you have now become one flesh?
Perhaps at the beginning it was all fantastic and you long back for those moments, but what you do not realize is that you are experiencing the greatest romance of your life right now. In fact the more you walk down this road the more wonderful the romance becomes! Why is that? It is because the more you walk this road together, the more you become one in the Lord. The more you know each other, the easier it is to share your heart and have something REAL.
The memories in the past are special to us all, but never forget that you are living the most romantic time of your life RIGHT NOW and...it will only get better. You and your spouse will have many more experiences together. You will learn more about one another each day and as you do, the greater your romance will become.
So remember the past and the special memories, then also hold on to the future, knowing that the best is yet to come. What you had back then was like a little seed that you planted. Yet as you matured, that seed began to flourish and develop into a beautiful rose, with a rich and beautiful fragrance.
Look forward to what is ahead and enjoy the moments you have now, realizing that the Lord has His hand on you and your marriage.
Why not put this lesson into practice!
1. Write down a list of qualities that your spouse had when you first met.
2. Write down a list of qualities that your spouse has now that are different from the beginning.
3. Finally write down one thing that your spouse did this week that you enjoyed, admired or thought was really good.
4. Finally send your spouse your list either by e-mail or on written paper and tell them how much you are looking forward to the future with them!
Senin, 05 Juli 2010
From Hero to Heretic by David Van Cronkhite
Why would a popular Jewish leader like Nicodemus risk his temple rank and his position and provision in society to sneak through the shadows to speak with the One who challenged every aspect of his world?
Why would a simple, struggling monk like Martin Luther risk his life to publicly provoke his church-his very livelihood and known salvation--and expose centuries-long errors and doctrinal presuppositions?
Why would a respected theologian like Dietrich Bonhoeffer place himself in the middle of Nazi Germany and go head to head with one of the most diabolical kingdoms to ever exist on earth?
Separated by hundreds of years and born into different political and social empires, these three theologians seem widely separated at first glance. But they had this in common: they were spurred in their hearts by the revelation that their true God had been shrouded by the religious system and traditions of their day. And everything within them eventually demanded that the real God--the One who loved even the losers and rebels unconditionally, was unflinchingly faithful and forgiving, and was compassionate, merciful, truthful and slow to anger--be revealed.
Welcoming the wrath
Their declarations placed their provision, their reputations, their lives and that of their families in harms way. Yet they welcomed the wrath of the cultural, political, commercial and religious systems even unto death.
Why in the world would they do that? What made them choose to become heretics instead of remaining the heroes of their day?
Luther saw the performance-based measures of the church. He saw that the word "faith" had been long forgotten. He saw the poor as the greatest victims, bowed under the burdens of injustice saddled squarely on their backs. And his church was the worst perpetrator.
When did it begin for Luther? Was it when he wept and agonized over the uncertainty of his salvation and the fear that God would not, could not embrace him? Was it when he saw his people believe the church's lies that they were still too poor, too sinful, too unlovely to be accepted by God unless they bribed Him?
Boenhoffer recognized how the church in Germany had so deeply compromised with the political, commercial, and religious systems, becoming more and more subjugated to the Nazi power. But he was a Father-pleaser. He joined a move to teach young men and women the uncompromised truth of God and His Kingdom, about faith and love, and the ways of the King.
Did Boenhoffer's revelation begin when he quoted Luther, "The curse of a godless man can sound more pleasant in God's ears than the Hallelujah of the pious"? Or did it start when he looked over the German people and had compassion on them because they were tormented by the systems and without a Shepard?
And the popular Nicodemus, the only one who actually talked with the man Jesus, saw Him look him in the eyes, and felt His breath. Did he realize then that he would one day have to stand alone among his Pharisee friends to defend Jesus? Did he understand then that his spirit could be born into a new life by the supernatural Seed of the One whose crucified body he would one day anoint with myrrh and aloe?
Like Luther and Bonhoeffer, Nicodemus, at some point, summed up what it would cost to continue to serve the kingdoms of his world. What he saw in Jesus was worth more than all of that. Church tradition says that he became a follower of Jesus and was martyred for his faith. Later, the church declared him a saint, but not before the kingdoms of the world labeled him a heretic.
Is there a common turning point that changes heroes into heretics? For many, it happens somewhere among the long years of working their way up the systems, while the hole in their hearts that religion and knowledge were supposed to fill, grows larger and larger. Perhaps for others, it happens when they begin to see the glimmer of a Kingdom founded on Love and Justice, and that this Jesus in them has something to do with it. And they are gradually ruined forever when their spirits are stirred and awakened by the maturing Seed implanted within from above.
Jesus said flesh and blood is not our enemy. The systems of man, the kingdoms of the world, are. They are just as real and powerful as flesh and blood because they capture and enslave the flesh and blood that creates them. But God invites us, commands us to seek Him and His Kingdom first, and He will take care of us eternally.
It's significant that Jesus' first encounter after forty days in the desert seeking out His God would be a face off with Satan, the Evil One, the ruler of the world's kingdoms. But Jesus saw the kingdoms of the world and all their splendor and said, "Hell, no! You keep it. I have been given My own Kingdom and it is eternal, cosmic, of another world, and is the only one that cannot be shaken. Any can enter by the faith of a child."
The King started his public journey on earth by declaring his stated purpose: "I have come to proclaim my Father's Kingdom." Each day we have the choice--and temptation--to give our lives for man's systems rather than accepting the Kingdom that God so freely offers. What the prophets of old so desperately wanted to see, we can see now. What they wanted to be a part of, we can be a part of now.
Is this something that can happen by our giving mental assent to or must we have faith that something supernatural will take place that will utterly change us from the inside out? Well, a Seed will grow and mature in us so that when someone looks into our eyes they will find peace and joy, compassion and mercy, graciousness and forgiveness. They will sense His slowness to anger and truth from within and just know there is covenantal faithfulness.
It just takes faith and He is offering that grace to grasp the faith to be born supernaturally from above in a moment, followed by a lifetime of maturing and transformation on earth. He offers us the Seed of life, the Seed of Change, the Seed of AGAPE!
Oh, it will cost you everything. You will become a Father pleaser instead of a pleaser of man. The world will call you a loser, a misfit, and, yeah, a heretic, but it just won't matter. The only thing that will matter will be what mattered to the Son who came to do only His Father's will: to hear those two words, "Well done!"
The choice is ours individually as it was for Nicodemus, Luther, and Bonhoeffer. There is a kingdom at hand; the seed has been planted and we have been born from above. To receive it and let it grow will cost you everything. You may even turn into a heretic instead of a hero.
So, now, how should we then live?
David VanCronkhite David.VanCronkhite@gmail.com