Tuesday, May 27, 2014

My Spirit Will Not Contend with Humans Forever

Just a couple more weeks until our Yosemite Half Dome hike! Not to mention, with next Monday, June 2, comes summer session at my school. It is also the final week of the kids' school year. My hope is that the Early Education class I am going to start soon is not so intense I will not get to enjoy my summer! I am already having a hard time finding motivation --- I really do need to deep clean the house --- but I feel that is largely due to allergy season and I am hopeful I will feel more energetic once it is over.

The Army Kid is "home" for a very brief visit before heading to the first duty station. I have found first hand the army definitely changes people. I perceive the Army Kid to be calmer, not so restless or irritable. Perhaps more mindful of thoughts and emotions, like a Jedi. (Can you read in my tone I am smiling.) Any hint of a rebellious teenager seemingly gone and there appears to be a peace.

Then the Lord said, "My Spirit will not contend with humans forever, for they are mortal; their days will be a hundred and twenty years." (Genesis 6:3 NIV)

This piece of scripture really stood out to me and has stayed with me since worship service this weekend. It is important to me that I understand it correctly so I looked up some cross references:
After being made alive, he went and made proclamation to the imprisoned spirits— to those who were disobedient long ago when God waited patiently in the days of Noah while the ark was being built. In it only a few people, eight in all, were saved through water, (1 Peter 3:19, 20 NIV)

For many years you were patient with them. By your Spirit you warned them through your prophets. Yet they paid no attention, so you gave them into the hands of the neighboring peoples. (Nehemiah 9:30 NIV)

So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want. (Galatians 5:16, 17 NIV)
Further, I looked up the passage in my study bible. It states,
[Genesis] 6:1-4 The account that follows records an act of degradation that reveals the end-point of God's patience. (MacArthur, John. THE MACARTHUR STUDY BIBLE. 1997. Pg 24.)

So, God will not "strive with" unbelieving human beings forever. He will draw the line and then that will be it. This brings me peace but let me explain. It is not a comfort in knowing there are some that will never be saved. That actually makes me feel sad. It is a relief to know that even God has His limits. Over the course of my vapor of a life, I have mourned the relationships that just did not work out (with unbelievers). Despite my very best efforts, there were some (and I am certain there will be more) that were hurtful, wicked, heartbreaking, unhealthy, full of deceit, dishonorable, etc. I always told myself, "You must keep trying." But I have to be honest, it is a blessing to have the knowledge that even God has an "end-point" when it comes to His patience. Thank you, Lord, for this piece of wisdom and peace of mind!

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Strength and Dignity Are Her Clothing: The Wife as the Supporter

I think some individuals get offended by the term “help mate” or “helper” when it refers to the wife’s position in a marriage. I see it as a difficult post which requires great tact, wisdom, compassion, and gumption. Why, exactly? Well, we are all sinners, right? So you know, as the “helper” or “advisor” (as I like to say), there are going to be times (maybe many or perhaps few) when something needs to be said that is not going to go over well, at all. Does that mean the wife should shy away from it or sit quietly while a terrible mistake (that could have been avoided) is being made? Does a general’s right hand man/woman stay silent when a grave error is about to occur, like the leading of an army into a massacre? I should hope not! So, I ask, why would a man’s most trusted counsel remain quiet during one of his most dire times of need? That does not sound very loving to me!

I am going to try to be very pointed, here, because I feel this is important and comes from my heart. Let me begin by saying, I know and understand there are dangerous relationships that take place (about 1/3 overall, from what I understand) and those need to be handled delicately because there is high risk of injury or even death. For those I say, get assistance. You most likely cannot handle that alone (nor should you have to)! With that said, I am addressing the other 2/3 of relationships (with a focus on wives).

I become very agitated when I am told, “A wife does not question her husband.” Really?! Let me take a hypothetical, very hairy situation. Let’s say my spouse is an alcoholic or drug addict (my spouse and I are many things but this is not one of them so I feel I can speak freely here without infringing on my hubs’ privacy). When a husband is under the influence he says and does things he normally would not. He might get violent, go home with random women, try driving his family from point A to point B in the car while impaired, etc. Now, really, should I just stand by without saying a word and let the cards fall where they may? No way! Why would I? In this state, my husband is at risk. He might get hurt or harm himself or someone else. Let’s take the focus off of him and think of the collateral damage for a moment. What about the people that are innocent bystanders. And, there is the husband’s vulnerability at this point, also. Would a devoted army allow harm or even death to come to their leader (or any of their fellow comrades)? No! They fight! They protect each other.

I feel just as the husband should guard his wife (because God’s word says she is the “weaker vessel”…and frankly no matter how hard I train I will never be as strong as my husband) she should shield him from danger (even when he is such to himself). Does that make sense or am I way off, here?
11The heart of her husband trusts in her, and he will have no lack of gain. 12She does him good, and not harm, all the days of her life. (Proverbs 31:11-12. ESV.)

Being the “helper”, the “advisor”, also comes with great responsibility! The station should not be abused just as the husband’s should not, either. He should never be a tyrant dictator and I should never manipulate or harass him, right?

25 Strength and dignity are her clothing,
and she laughs at the time to come.
26She opens her mouth with wisdom,
and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue.
27She looks well to the ways of her household
and does not eat the bread of idleness.
28Her children rise up and call her blessed;
her husband also, and he praises her:
29“Many women have done excellently,
but you surpass them all.”
30 Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain,
but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised.
31Give her of the fruit of her hands,
and let her works praise her in the gates.
(Proverbs 31:25-31. ESV.)

(Photo Information: Bing Public Domain)

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

For the Man Who Does Not Love His Wife But Divorces Her Covers His Garment with Violence

Divorce is HORRIBLE! I went through someone else's divorce with them and I offered as much support as I could muster but eventually I had to separate myself from the whole thing. It was insanely MISERABLE! As much as I wanted to give encouragement and love to the individual devoured by the ordeal, it was sucking the joy, energy, and health out of me like a relentless leech. If nothing else was deterrent enough to never go through a divorce (again) THAT experience most certainly was, indeed! As much as I want that memory to fade it is, unfortunately, burned into my brain.

If and when I get the opportunity to speak with someone contemplating divorce I highly recommend against it (unless it is absolutely unavoidable like a high risk situation). I have witnessed collateral damage to be obscene, leveling everyone and everything in its path. And, the scars are deep and lasting. To anyone considering marriage I say to beware! It is a very serious decision not to be made lightly, quickly, in lust, or while "blinded" by love. The consequences of choosing poorly are dire. It is a life choice that cannot be easily undone. Most importantly, follow God's word! Do everything "by the Book"!

Not even as an attorney will I EVER touch a divorce! Not with a ten foot pole! Family court would drive me crazy. My plan is to stick with dependency court, representing children in the foster care system.

Do I "judge" people who are or will be divorced? No, of course not! (I easily could become so, myself.) The person I supported through as much of their divorce as I could withstand described the feeling associated with an ending marriage as "failure". Some, perhaps, give up a little too easily. Others truly fight hard to make their dying marriage work and to resuscitate life back into it. It is my understanding 50% of marriages end in divorce. I do not doubt it for one second! It involves two individuals, sinners if you will, who grow and change regularly, right? I think of how hard it was to live just as a single. I only had to care for, clean up after, provide for myself...and it was a challenge in itself (no matter how big or small). Then add a second person (with a mind of his/her own) maybe challenging the way I live or not. How well does #2 care for, clean up after, provide for him/herself? Are the ways compatible? Not to mention the biggest item of all...FAITH! Are the two who want to become one equally yoked? (If not, don't bother, seriously! This may sound harsh but I am abandoning the "love conquers all" mentality for what I have witnessed time and again to be true. Unequally yoked marriages DO NOT go well, at all!) And, there is a good chance I just lost you as a reader at that.

"For the man who does not love his wife but divorces her, says the Lord, the God of Israel, covers his garment with violence, says the Lord of hosts. So guard yourselves in your spirit, and do not be faithless." (Malachi 2:16 ESV)

It is my opinion we as believers are God's bride and despite our unfaithfulness to Him, He will NEVER divorce us. Further, our marriages are a likeness, an example, of God's love for us, His bride. God hates divorce. I hate divorce because I have witnessed first hand the wickedness and destruction that comes with it. I have felt its harsh, relentless grip and draining power. With the lingering shadow of that dark place cast near to my feet, I say, consider carefully. Pray for wisdom and clarity. Trust in the Lord and do not lean on your own understanding. Walk in the Spirit with the strength of Jesus.

You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore. (Psalm 16:11 ESV)

(Photo Information: Bing Public Domain)

Monday, May 19, 2014

It is a Matter of Not Being Crushed Under a Load Because He Carries It For You

Now that I am on a short break from my bachelor’s degree program (before summer session begins) I have all these things I would like to get finished…like giving our house a good scrub! But I have to be honest, my allergies are hindering me. They are acting up and either cause me to feel “out of it” or lethargic (also in part because of my asthma) or annoyed because a sinus headache or my nose is “stuffed up” or running like crazy and my eyes itch and water and I can’t stop sneezing. Motivation is difficult to find and I cannot wait for allergy season to come to an end!

It’s the last few weeks of the school year (for the kiddos) and there is so much to do. Final field trips, meetings, graduations, I have to prepare for my summer study session, our family vacation, and hiking Yosemite Half Dome, (as I mentioned above) the house needs to be deep cleaned, one of our kiddos is coming to visit (after being gone for five months) before moving out of state. For all of these things, I am very grateful and feel extremely blessed.

One of the reasons we don't know God deeply is that we don't venture much on his pledge to carry things for us. Knowing God with a sense of authentic personal reality, is not merely a matter of study. It is a matter of walking with him through fire and not being burned. It is a matter of not being crushed under a load because he carries it for you at your side. What, then, does he carry? (By John Piper. ©2014 Desiring God Foundation. Website: desiringGod.org)
I love the reminder that Pastor John Piper gives in this paragraph. God will carry my load no matter if it is a busy physical one or a heavy, painful emotional one. I need not worry myself because He is there and I walk with Him. Now, if I am walking in the flesh (which does happen more times than I would like to admit) that is a different story. But, walking in the Spirit and in faith is all I need to do.

4 Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. 5 Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; 6 do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:4-7. ESV.)

I always need these constant reminders. I forget.

3 Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. 4 Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. 5 Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, 6 who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7 but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. 8 And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. (Philippians 2:3-8. ESV.)

Thank you, Lord, for quieting my soul. I need not be anxious about anything. I need only be faithful and You will take care of everything else. Awesome!

(Photo Information. Bing Images Public Domain.)

Sunday, May 18, 2014

You May Abound in Every Good Work

There are some things at which I am NOT very good. It is not from lack of trying…please believe me, I give it my best. I really do. Three or four examples pop into my mind but for this, I’ll use math. I am terrible in certain areas of math just as I am awful on some levels when it comes to relationships. Algebra is a perfect illustration. I can wrap my head around it to a degree but I do not fully grasp it. It takes me hours to complete and I forget the steps and rules shortly after learning or refreshing my memory regarding them.

Great effort is always given by me, to the point of exhaustion and being burnt out, in fact. Yet, I do not give up but rather continue plugging away at something that will never stop challenging me. There are just elements about it that I will not be able to understand or work out. So do I continue banging my head against a wall, simplify it as much as possible, or wash my hands of it completely? And what will the repercussions be for my decision? In this case, Algebra.

Being a Bachelor of Business Administration major requires Algebra, Calculus, and Statistics. I have to have the bachelor’s degree so I cannot get rid of math out right. I can and did, however, switch my degree to a Bachelor’s of General Studies. No Algebra required. And, I will still fulfil the bachelor’s degree requirement for law school. Win/ win as far as I can tell. Likewise, relationships are necessary in life. I have to maintain various ones so walking away from them does not appear to be a wise idea. What then?

Simplify.

How? Well, it depends on the situation. Each is different. But, with a little thought and a lot of prayer, a remedy (regardless of longevity) will present itself.

Further, I look to Pastor John Piper to remind me where my mindset should be:
I can imagine some American pragmatist saying, "What practical difference would it make in my business planning whether I believe my life is a vapor? Do I stop planning, because my life may be short or uncertain?" I think James would say, "No, you don't stop planning. You don't drop out of society. You don't become a hermit, waiting for your little vapor of life to disappear."

So what is the point? The point is that for James, and for God, it matters whether a true view of life informs and shapes the way you think and how you speak about your plans. Your mindset matters. How you talk about your plans matters. Ponder this. Believing that your life is a vapor may make no practical, bottom-line difference in whether you plan to do business in a place for one month or one year or ten years. But, in James' mind - and he speaks for God - it makes a difference how you think about it and talk about it. "Come now you who say . . ."

Why? Why does that matter? Because God created us not just to do things and go places with our bodies, but to have certain attitudes and convictions and verbal descriptions that reflect the truth - a true view of life and God. God means for the truth about himself and about life to be known and felt and spoken as part of our reason for being. You weren't just created to go to Denver and do business; you were made to go to Denver with thoughts and attitudes and words that reflect a right view of life and God.
( By John Piper. ©2014 Desiring God Foundation. Website: desiringGod.org)

8 And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work. (2 Corinthians 9:8. ESV.)

Friday, May 16, 2014

Preparing for Yosemite Half Dome

It is official. My friend got six permits through the state park lottery and we are going to be doing the Yosemite Half Dome hike in June 2014! To be honest, I love this kind of stuff but I never would have thought to do this hike if it was not for Amber! Thanks, girl! Further, I am actually surprised we got a spot given there are so many who want to do this and they only allow a certain number of people each day. Youtube is full of videos of individuals who have tried and conquered it or gave it their best effort but did not quite make it. I understand it is quite intense but it is not Everest, so I am hopeful I will do okay.

I figure as long as we are wise and prepare to the best of our ability, all should go well. I have never wished to own a “Go Pro” camera before…but for this, I do! I think it is going to be awesome!

I love being in the “great outdoors” in God’s creation --- the fresh air and sunshine. And, from what I understand, the hike will take ALL DAY. We will begin when the sun rises and it is advised we finish before the sun sets. I am planning to bring a head lamp and flash light (just incase), at least a gallon of water, and I would like to get some hiking boots/shoes. The last time I did some serious hiking was years ago in Singapore (or Taiwan, I cannot remember which of the two).

Preparation is a lot for someone like me who has not hiked in a very long time! I feel I have to make sure I have the proper gear (1. Camelbak or backpack to hold drinking water and supplies. 2. Hiking shoes. 3. Supplies: water, electrolytes, hot/cold pack, hat, sun screen, biodegradable baby wipes, sandwich bag or two, acetaminophen or ibuprofen, medical tape, rain gear, gloves for the cables, headlamp and flashlight, insect repellent, etc.), train so my cardio, legs, etc. will be ready, and do some practice trails.

I am already back to the kenpo jiu-jitsu studio training and each weekend I plan to head to one of the state parks nearby to practice some steep hiking. I want to enjoy Half Dome as much as possible. I do not want it to be a nightmare, struggle, “what the heck was I thinking” kind of thing, you know? I think I am most excited about the cables! I have tried a little bit of rock climbing but the cables allow you to get up the side of Half Dome without all the climbing gear. I am afraid my legs are going to be mush. The whole thing is so frightening and exciting all at the same time.

Last Saturday, my friend and I started at the junction (on Mt. Diablo) and hiked to the summit. Tomorrow is supposed to be 80 degrees F (26.6667 degrees C) so it probably is not a good day to go do a trail unless we get there right when the park opens (8:00 am) and try to finish by noon or so. I don’t know. We’ll see.

I am so thankful for this vapor of a life God has given me. It definitely has its difficult challenges but the blessings are immeasurable! I just stick to doing things by the Book (His Word) and being faithful and He takes care of everything else…and gives me amazing “hugs” along the way. Truly I am blessed!

17Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. 18And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit. (2 Corinthians 3:17-18. ESV.)

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