Green Is Not Your Color

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Guys, you’re welcome to read today’s devotion, but since we’ve just passed Mother’s Day, I’d like to direct some thoughts toward my female readers.

Okay, ladies, by a show of hands, how many of you heard some reference to the virtuous woman of Proverbs 31 this weekend?  Yes, I see those hands.  And how many of you cringed a bit as the passage was read?  Yeah, me too.  Don’t get me wrong.  I love God’s Word, and I know it is perfect, holy, and right in every way.  It is full of encouragement and strength, but there’s just something about Proverbs 31 that tends to make me feel inferior and even downright lazy.  Can I get an “Amen”?

Of course, it doesn’t help any that when I read it, I immediately think of a real-life example that seems to fit the virtuous woman in every way.  I’m speaking of Joanna Gaines.  For those who don’t recognize the name, she (along with her husband, Chip) is the star of the popular show, Fixer Upper. In addition to being a star, she is a mom of five who owns multiple businesses and seems to excel at anything she sets her hands to.

In her “spare time,” Joanna grows her own vegetables and herbs, helps out on the family farm, and bakes delicious treats for friends and family alike.  Not only is she talented, but she’s beautiful too — the perfect hair, teeth, skin tone, and figure.  To be honest, as much I as enjoy watching Fixer Upper, I tend to come away feeling a bit green. . .with envy.

Why do we ladies do that?  Why do we insist on comparing ourselves to others?  Don’t we realize that God made us who we are for a reason?  Why is it so difficult for us to understand that we’re unique in our own way?

I wish I had answers to those questions, but I’m afraid I don’t.  The truth is, I fall into the pit of envy more often than I can count, especially now that my health is holding me back in so many ways.  I look at those around me who keep immaculate homes, cook gourmet meals, and raise their families, all while holding down a grueling job, and think What’s wrong with me?  Why can’t I be a better wife, housekeeper, cook, etc.?  Then, I start to feel sorry for my dear husband, and before long, I conclude that if I feel like I’m letting him down as a helpmeet, he must believe the same about me (even though he has NEVER said or done anything to make me think that.)

It’s not Jason that causes the chaos in my thoughts and turns my self-pity into self-loathing.  It’s envy.  Envy is dangerous, and it is a powerful weapon in Satan’s arsenal. . .especially when dealing with us, ladies.  Many, many verses in the Bible address envy, but this one grabs my attention every time:

For where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work.
— James 3:16

Ouch!  Envy doesn’t stop at making me feel like a loser.  It progresses into bitterness, resentment, and so much more.  It is the seed from which confusion and evil works grow.  Envy leads people to do stupid things and to cause great havoc not just in their own lives, but in the lives of all those around them.  It causes strife, heartache, and in the end, despite the progression, envy remains.  Never satisfied.  Never quenched.  Instead, it grows bigger and bigger until we, too, are never satisfied.  We want more.  We want something different.  We become so blinded to our strengths and blessings that all we can focus on is how we feel we’re lacking.  And we carry that sense of “not enough” with us into all our relationships, creating a burden for those we love.

I’ll be the first to admit that stopping envy in its tracks is laborious.  It’s so easy to allow those thoughts to creep in and take root, but we must be on guard and catch those nasty weeds before they take over the garden of our heart.  One verse that helps me do that is found in my favorite book of the Bible.

I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well.
— Psalm 139:14

Speaking this truth aloud sends the enemy and his weapon of envy fleeing in the opposite direction.  I am fearfully and wonderfully made.  That is what God has to say about me, and God is never wrong.  His works are marvelous, and I am one of His works; therefore, I must be marvelous.  

Now, here comes the tricky part:  my soul knows it.  I struggle with that a bit, but repetition aids learning.  So, I keep telling myself this truth as many times as it takes until it sinks in:  I am fearfully and wonderfully made.  God doesn’t make junk.  He doesn’t make worthless individuals.  I am not lazy.  I have a health condition, and that’s a different story entirely.  I may not be able to do what others can do, but they have no idea how to be me either.  Besides, I can only see what others want me to see.  I don’t know what goes on behind closed doors.  Sure, their home may be immaculate, but is it full of joy?  Which is more important?  I have nothing to prove to anyone, even myself.  God’s work is marvelous, and I am privileged to be His work.  And He’s also promised He’s not done with me yet, so I can take comfort in knowing I’m a marvelous work in progress.

My dear lady friend, you are fearfully and wonderfully made.  You are beautiful, marvelous, and unique.  Don’t let envy steal your joy, strength, or peace.  Don’t allow it to cause strife and division in your home and relationships.  Stop it in its tracks by speaking God’s truth aloud.  Use the Scripture above or find your own and take it to heart until your soul knows the truth—You are amazing!

Fervent: A Woman's Battle Plan to Serious, Specific, and Strategic Prayer -- A Book Review

I haven’t posted a book review in a while, and I assure you, it’s not because I haven’t read any good books lately. I’ve been busy enough that the task of sitting down and writing a review seemed too great. But, with this book, I had to make an exception. This book has changed the way I view prayer and has made me feel much more like a warrior rather than a worrier. That being said, I knew I had to share it with you.

About the Book:

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You have an enemy . . . and he’s dead set on destroying all you hold dear and keeping you from experiencing abundant life in Christ. What’s more, his approach to disrupting your life and discrediting your faith isn’t general or generic, not a one-size-fits-all. It’s specific. Personalized. Targeted.
 
So this book is your chance to strike back. With prayer. With a weapon that really works. Each chapter will guide you in crafting prayer strategies that hit the enemy where it hurts, letting him know you’re on to him and that you won’t back down. Because with every new strategy you build, you’re turning the fiercest battles of life into precise strikes against him and his handiwork, each one infused with the power of God’s Spirit.
 
New York Times bestselling author Priscilla Shirer, widely known for her international speaking, teaching, and writing ministries, brings her new role from the 2015 film War Room into the real lives of today’s women, addressing the topics that affect them most: renewing their passion, refocusing their identity, negotiating family strife, dealing with relentless regrets, navigating impossible schedules, succeeding against temptation, weathering their worst fears, uprooting bitterness, and more. Each chapter exposes the enemy’s cruel, crafty intentions in all kinds of these areas, then equips and encourages you to write out your own personalized prayer strategies on tear-out sheets you can post and pray over yourself and your loved ones on a regular basis.
 
Fervent is a hands-on, knees-down, don’t-give-up action guide to practical, purposeful praying.

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About the Author:

Priscilla Shirer is a Bible teacher and conference speaker with a Master’s degree in Biblical Studies from Dallas Theological Seminary. Also a popular author, her books include the New York Times Best-Seller, The Resolution for WomenOne in a Million, and Life Interrupted. Priscilla is married to Jerry with whom she founded Going Beyond Ministries. They have three sons and live in Dallas, Texas.

My Review:

I’ve read a lot of books on prayer, but this was, by far, one of the best. I love the way the author portrays her fervency about prayer and compels the reader to find the same. As I read, I felt my heart hungering and thirsting for a more heart-felt prayer life. I recognized where my prayers seemed shallow and like rote repetitions and felt the urge to connect with God more deeply. The author also conveyed the importance and power of prayer, which is something I think most Christians do not take into account. So many times, we think of prayer as something we’re supposed to do instead of realizing it is something we are privileged to do. To speak with the Almighty God. To lay our burdens at His feet. And to do so, knowing He has the power to make all things right. Not only that, but through prayer, we have the power to resist temptations and to live the lives we long to live for God’s glory.

If you’re struggling with your prayer life, or if you feel your time with God has grown stale, I highly recommend this book. It will change your prayer life, and in turn, your entire existence. Prayer is powerful, and it changes lives—especially the life of the one doing the praying.

Would Your Husband Be Better Off in the Attic?

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Okay, ladies, today’s devotion is just for you, and I’ll tell you, you’re probably not going to like it. In my defense, I’m just the messenger. What I’m telling you today is straight from the Word of God, but it’s definitely convicting. Let’s look at a couple of verses in Proverbs 21.

It is better to dwell in a corner of the housetop, than with a brawling woman in a wide house.
— Proverbs 21:9
It is better to dwell in the wilderness, than with a contentious and an angry woman.
— Proverbs 21:19

When the Bible says something once, it’s important, but when it repeats it, we need to seriously pay attention. Not once, but twice, in this chapter, God highlights it would be better for a man to live in an undesirable environment than to live with a brawling, contentious, or angry woman. What does that say about how adverse the situation is for the man who dwells with a fussy wife? Ouch!

The first verse conveys the idea that a man would be better off living in a corner in the attic. Do you have any idea what my attic looks like? It’s packed full of stuff. It’s dark, dirty, and dusty. There are spiders and who knows what other creepy crawlies. And to top it off, the slanting roof line has large nails protruding from the boards. That’s not even safe. Can you imagine having to live up there? Can you imagine your husband having to live up there? Me neither, but according to this verse, he would be better off if all we do is gripe and complain.

The word “brawling” used in verse nine means “contentious, argumentative, controversial, quarrelsome, or vexed.” Yikes! When I read that verse this morning, a hundred instances of my complaints and negativity immediately floated through my mind. I didn’t even have to try to come up with something. On the flip side, when I tried to convince myself I’m positive and supportive as often as I’m quarrelsome and argumentative, I struggled to come up with many instances where I proved that. Oh, me!

The second verse takes things a step further by telling us our men would be better off alone in the wilderness than to dwell with a griping wife. The wilderness? Really? But it’s dry and dangerous, but apparently not as bad as a contentious and angry woman. You know, one who complains that he’s never home then gets frustrated with him when he is. The wife who fusses that he doesn’t help with the housework then complains when he doesn’t do it the right way (i.e., her way). The wife who seems never to be satisfied, who always has to have the last word, who thinks she should be running the household instead of the other way around. When I put it that way, I wonder how many husbands would actually prefer to live in the wilderness or the attic.

Ladies, we’ve got to get it together! God created us to be helpmeets. The last time I looked, complaining and arguing never helped anyone. When we’re difficult to get along with and insist on having our own way, we tear our husbands down. Instead of showing them the respect they deserve, we insinuate that their opinions don’t matter and we would be better off to do things ourselves. Is it any wonder our men withdraw from our company? Is it any surprise they’d rather do their own thing or hang out with the guys?

Our husbands are a treasure, and we need to treat them as such. We ought to be agreeable and positive, always respecting their opinion. I’m not saying we should allow them to lord over us or that we can never have our own opinion, but I am saying we need to remember to whom God gave the authority of the family. It belongs to our husbands, not us. He should have the final say, and we should love and respect him enough to go along with that and to do so willingly, not begrudgingly.

I don’t know about you, ladies, but I don’t like the idea that my sweet hubby would be better off living in the attic or the wilderness than living with me. I want our home (and my presence) to be inviting and welcoming. I desire for my man to want to spend time with me because doing so makes him feel loved, appreciated, and refreshed. For this to come about, however, I have some work to do. I need to get my attitude in order. How about you?