Tuesday, March 31, 2015
I'm sitting here watching an episode of "Little House on the Prairie". Who knows how many times I've seen it before but what really caught my attention was the first couple of minutes where Laura's fiance' Almanzo decides to push the wedding date back because (eh hem) *he needs to be able to put a roof over her head*. He doesn't want to live in his sister's house. He doesn't want to live in her parents home. *He wants to be able to provide for her*.
Just as a good and responsible husband *should*...
"But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever."---I Timothy 5:8(NKJV)
It makes me think of an article that I read entitled "A Good Man". Here was her bullet point list (click on the link to read all of it, though):
A good man is a SAVED man
A good man is a GOD-FEARING man.
A good man is a STUDENT of the Scriptures.
A good man LOVES GOD'S WORD.
A good man OBEYS GOD'S WORD.
A good man is a man of PRAYER.
A good man WINS SOULS.
A good man WORSHIPS God.
A good man PROVIDES for himself and his family.
A good man is INCOMPLETE (in the Genesis 2:18-25 sense).
A good man will LEAD his family.
A good man SERVES the Lord.
A good man is a WISE man.
A good man is HUMBLE.
A good man WAITS on God.
Provide means "to make available; furnish".
Provide means "to supply or equip".
Provide means "to afford or yield".
I have shared it more than once. Being that a husband is to love his wife as Christ loves the Church (Ephesians 5:25-33) and being that John 14:1-6 speaks of Christ *going to prepare a place for us*, a godly man is going to "follow suit" and prepare a place for his beloved as well. The importance of this is further confirmed in Matthew 25 in the Parable of the Five Wise and Five Foolish Virgins. According to Jewish custom/tradition (which is where the parable comes from), after a man would propose, he would go away for about a year to prepare a place for his bride. That's why in Matthew, it speaks of the bridal party waiting for the bridegroom.
If you're in a relationship that "shows fruit" (Matthew 12:33) of transitioning into marriage, it is important that your sweetie is preparing a place; not that he's planning on moving into your place. In order for you to feel more comfortable submitting, he's going to need to lead. A part of leading is providing. (Just as God does for us-Philippians 4:19)
However, there are other "signs of being a provider" that you should also look out for...
One article entitled "Leadership in the Home - A Godly Man Leads" breaks it down this way:
Lead as a Husband
The reality of male headship means that a husband is responsible for his wife’s well-being in a way she is not responsible for his. It falls upon you, for example, to take initiative in ensuring that your wife has sufficient opportunity to spend time in Scripture and prayer. It falls upon you to ensure that you live peaceably with your wife so that your prayers (not her prayers) may not be hindered by any discord between you (see 1 Peter 3:7). As leader, you bear the greater responsibility and the greater burden. Here are some specific ways you must lead your wife:
Lead with Love. The leadership of the godly husband is marked by love (Ephesians 5:25). Your wife, aware as she is of your sin, should never have reason to doubt that you love her, that you love your children, that you are committed to serving your bride in this unique role. You must be willing to forsake your own desires, your own comfort, your own rights in order to express love for your wife. Your leadership must be marked with the kind of love that marked Christ’s love for his church. That same love, that same desire for God’s glory, flows from Christ to the husband and into the family.
Lead with Gentleness. The godly husband leads his wife with meekness and gentleness. You need to be aware of your own sin and your own failings. You need to lead your wife gently, aware of her own struggles and weaknesses. Heed the word of God which says, “Likewise, husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered” (1 Peter 3:7).
Lead with Dignity. The godly husband does not mock or belittle his wife. You must not lead her through scorn or sarcasm or anger or punishment. Lead your wife with special delight and dignity, leading her differently than you would lead a child or an employee. Lead her with an awareness that you are a servant first, a leader second. Do nothing to puff yourself up with pride but everything to show your wife that you esteem her higher than yourself.
Lead with Confidence. This is a particular challenge today, of course, at a time when culture has conditioned us to thinking that men have no business being leaders over their wives. But the godly husband listens to Scripture above the world and leads his wife, confident that God calls him to do just this. Lead your wife with a humble confidence, even when you are called upon to make difficult or unpopular decisions. Lead with confidence that God is willing and able to bless you for your obedience.
So a husband is to lead with love, gentleness, dignity and confidence. Here now are some practical ways in which you are to lead and oversee your wife:
Oversee her ministry. 1 Peter 4:10 says, “As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace.” As a husband concerned both for your wife and for the church, you will see that she is serving according to her gifts and that she is giving of her time to each of her areas of ministry, whether in the home or outside of it. You will see that she does not overextend herself or minister at the expense of her family. And you will encourage her as she discovers and exercises her spiritual gifts.
Oversee her relationships. Titus 2:3-5 has stern admonitions toward what seems to be a particular temptation to women. It teaches women how to use their abilities to encourage rather than discourage. As husband you will ensure that she knows the roles God has called her to primarily. You will help guard her against sinful relationships and help her balance and prioritize her many responsibilities. You will encourage her to develop relationships with women who she can befriend, mentor or be mentored by.
Oversee her decision-making. Colossians 1:9-10 provides a wonderful example of how to pray for wisdom and understanding on behalf of another person. As a godly husband you will pray for your wife, that she will make decisions that honor God. You will encourage her toward big and noble goals and you will help ensure that she is making decisions based on the best priorities.
So good. SO GOOD!
OK, as a single woman, God is who is your leader and overseer. However, just as the Most High (Genesis 14:19) presented the Woman to Adam in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 2:22), when a man and woman are joined in marital covenant (Matthew 19:6, Malachi 2:14), he also extends and ordains the man with certain responsibilities. A wedding doesn't magically make those things so. *Therefore, it is vital during the dating/courtship process that you look for clear indications of these characteristics*.
As the lead quote says...
You cooking is fine. Awesome, in fact.
A husband making the provision so that you can is good. Great, even.
I listen to a lot of couples with issues because a man's ability to provide was not a priority...
Oh, but it needs to be.
Spend some time in prayer about what it means for a man to provide for you.
And then make the commitment to yourself to settle for nothing less.
Wednesday, March 25, 2015
"For God alone my soul waits in silence; from Him comes my salvation."---Psalm 62:1(NKJV)
After recently talking to an "On Fire" woman about a self-diagnosed loneliness issue that she was having and also reading an article entitled "Why Loneliness May Be the Next Big Public-Health Issue" (according to the article "The subjective feeling of loneliness increases risk of death by 26%"), I discerned that it was time to pen something about the difference between being alone and being lonely.
It's not that I don't think most of us understand the differences from a classic sense. It's just that I "fear" that a lot of people tend to make some *very poor relationship choices* and one of the main root causes is because they are lonely. And if that is not addressed prior to marriage, it's only going to put unnecessary pressure and unrealistic expectations on the marital union.
Case in point...
Every Thursday, I send out a "Marital Covenant Thursdays" devotional. Recently the topic was on unrealistic expectations in marriage. I shared some points from an article that I read on Relevant's website entitled "5 Expectations Marriage Doesn't Meet". Guess what one of them was? LONELINESS. It was the first point, in fact:
1. It isn't a cure for loneliness.
In a society where we're plugged in 24 hours a day, where "community" is more often used to describe your Facebook friends than an actual neighborhood, people long to connect intimately with someone.
We see couples everywhere—in restaurants, on TV, on the bus or train or sidewalks on the way to work—and feel like something is missing in our lives if we're alone. As humans, we have an innate need to belong, and we expect a spouse to provide that sense of acceptance and intimacy and comfort. We're Jerry Maguire looking for a soul mate, someone to whom we can say, "You complete me."
Best case scenario, that's what a good marriage will provide. But I know couples in loving relationships who remain lonely. Why? After all, they've found a perfect mate who has taken great strides toward fulfilling their need for intimacy. But that's a heavy load for one person to bear, despite the stories Cameron Crowe tells. Lonely single people become lonely married people. If your goal in marriage is to satisfy your need to belong, your next stop may be heartbreak.
Rinse and repeat: *Lonely single people become lonely married people. If your goal in marriage is to satisfy your need to belong, your next stop may be heartbreak*.
So what *is* the difference between being alone and being lonely?
Let's look at the definitions of the words:
Alone: (adj.) separate, apart, or isolated from others; to the exclusion of all others or all else; unique; unequaled; unexcelled; (adv.) solitarily; solely; only; exclusively; without aid or help
Lonely: affected with, characterized by, or causing a depressing feeling of being alone; lonesome; destitute of sympathetic or friendly companionship, intercourse, support, etc.; lone; solitary; without company; companionless; remote from places of human habitation; desolate; unfrequented; bleak; standing apart; isolate
When you're alone, you're set apart (I Peter 2:9-10), you're unique, you're (dig this!) *unequalled*, you're (super dig this!) *exclusive*---you're not in dire need of aid or help.
Why? I discern a big part of it is because of the Scripture that starts off this message. By definition, when you're alone, do not depend on a person to provide you with what you need more so than you rely on God. And since your soul is defined as being the spiritual part of you, when your spirit is whole and at peace, you can trust that the rest of you (your mind and body) can be as well. Not only that, but since God has promised you that he will never (NEVER) leave or forsake you (Hebrews 13:5), then you can be sure that your soul is always in good hands.
And do you know why that's so important when it comes to us as women? It's because *we are created to be a man's helper* (Genesis 2:18). Therefore, *if we go into a relationship all desperate and needy, we tend to be clingy and draining rather than helpful and supportive*.
In fact, one of the best things about this time of singleness is that you can use this as an opportunity to see what really does make you all of the definitions of alone that I pointed out. What makes you unique. What makes you unequalled. What makes you truly exclusive: fashionable and stylish, expensive (and you are indeed, expensive-I Corinthians 6:16-20) and "limited to the object or objects designated". Who are you limited to? According to the Word, you belong to Holy Spirit and it's only in marriage that a man, *your husband*, is to have authority over your body (as you do his as well-I Corinthians 7:4). *Only in marriage* is a man truly worthy of that kind of exclusivity! Again, it was the man, Adam, who was told that it was not good for him to be alone. It was the Woman, it is us, who improves a man's state of aloneness.
Lonely, on the other hand, speaks to depression, having a lack of friends and support and looking at life from a bleak perspective. A woman who is in this state, how is she going to provide good help to her future husband? *She's not*. And so, if you sense that you are lonely, *thank the Lord* that whether it's by seeing a counselor, working on your self-esteem, making some big plans for your life or all of the above, you can work on that now. You can go to the Father's throne to get the grace and mercy (Hebrews 4:16) that you need to deal with your loneliness so that you can you live abundantly alone and bring so much joy and happiness to your beloved once he arrives!
Remember, *you bring a man favor* (Proverbs 18:22)...
So being alone...
Until it's not good for your man to be alone...
It's all good.
You are a gift.
Therefore, there is nothing to feel lonely about.