On Sunday evening, we heard Keith and Kristyn Getty in concert. We really enjoyed hearing the “modern hymn writers” perform; they have beautiful musical talents. They also have a very talented band who created a great and full sound. One of my favorite songs of the evening was one called “Before You I Kneel”, and I am posting the lyrics here:
Before You I kneel, my Master and Maker
To offer the work of my hands.
For this is the day You’ve given your servant;
I will rejoice and be glad
For the strength I have to live and breathe;
For each skill Your grace has given me;
For the needs and opportunities
That will glorify You great Name.
Before You I kneel and ask for Your goodness
To cover the work of my hands.
For patience and peace to shape all my labor,
Your grace for thorns in my path.
Flow within me like a living stream,
Wear away the stones of pride and greed
‘till Your ways are dwelling deep in me
And a harvest of life is grown.
Before You we kneel, Our Master and Maker;
Establish the work of our hands.
And order our steps to seek first Your kingdom
In every small and great task.
May we live the gospel of Your grace,
Serve Your purpose in our fleeting days,
Then our lives will bring eternal praise
And all glory to Your Name.
I just finished reading Anne Graham Lotz’s newest book, Wounded. I thought that she was brave to write this book, and address a topic that is very relevant. She confronts the unfortunate reality that many people have been wounded and hurt by God’s people, and by people who claim to love Christ.
She tells some beautiful stories in the book. Some will make you cringe, just because she reveals examples of some of the hurt and separation that happens in churches. But, I loved hearing how she experienced God’s love through her parents. She told a story of when she was a teenager and wrecked her mom’s car. She decided to continue on with her business of the day, and decided she would try and wait to tell her parents about the car. When she got home in the evening, she hoped to sneak up to her room, but her dad (Billy Graham) was right inside the living room and looked right at her as she came in. As she started crying, she said her dad taught her four important truths about life and our Heavenly Father. He said: “Anne, I knew all along about your wreck (a neighbor had told him earlier in the day)- I was just waiting for you to come tell me yourself.” “I love you.” “We can fix the car.” “You are going to be a better driver because of this.” She tells the story in a beautiful way, but I am trying to paraphrase here to keep it brief.
There are several options for what to do when wounded. One could decide that because one of God’s people hurt them, they want nothing to do with God. A person could decide to have conversations with other people in which they blame their wounder in an attempt for revenge. However, pity parties never result in authentic benefit or blessing, they only keep the focus on self rather than on our Healer. “Bitterness is like drinking poison hoping the other person gets sick.”
When wounded, one needs to think things through carefully. Ask yourself these questions:
- How is the way you are reacting today going to help you tomorrow?
- Do you want your life characterized by the result of remaining focused on “them” while being blind to your own pride, arrogance, anger, resentment, name-calling, schemes for revenge, or gossip?
- Are these attitudes working for you and making you happy?
- What are you living for? Instead of living your life to the glory of God, are you driven by a desire to get even, prove someone else wrong, justify your opinion, get your own way?
- Consider carefully…do any of these desires truly honor God?
Here are some other points to ponder:
- Do you think God has forsaken you when He says He never will? (Heb 13:5)
- Do you think God no longer loves you when He says He always will? (1 Chronicles 16:34)
- Do you think God no longer cares about you even though He says He most certainly does? (Isaiah 63:9)
- Do you think the wretched way others have treated you is an accurate reflection of how God treats you when He says it is not? (Genesis 50:20)
- Do you think your situation is beyond His ability to alter when He says He’s the God of the impossible? (Luke 1:37)
There is a prayer written in the book that helped Anne Graham Lotz understand that “sometimes the wounded, broken heart is the blessed, healed heart.” It comes from The Valley of Vision, a compilation of prayers written by Puritan church leaders.
“Lord, high and holy, meek and lowly, Thou hast brought me to the valley of vision, Where I live in the depths but see Thee in the heights; Hemmed in by mountains of sin I behold Thy glory.
Let me learn by paradox That the way down is the way up, That to be low is to be high, That the broken heart is the healed heart, That the contrite spirit is the rejoicing spirit, That the repenting soul is the victorious soul, That to have nothing is to possess all, That to bear the cross is to wear the crown, That to give is to receive, That the valley is the place of vision.
Lord, in the daytime stars can be seen from deepest wells, And the deeper the wells the brighter Thy stars shine; Let me find Thy light in my darkness, Thy life in my death, Thy joy in my sorrow, Thy grace in my sin, Thy riches in my poverty, Thy glory in my valley.”
When I was young, I prayed to God and asked Him for a man. I wanted a husband to love, and who would love me. I hoped he would like to travel, and that he would be good with the checkbook. I hoped he would make me laugh and enjoy going on walks. Mostly I hoped that he would love Jesus.
I had no idea how beautiful and well-suited for me that man would be. To me he is the most exquisite and wonderful person I have ever known. With him, I began to pray to God for a baby. We hope our child will be an encourager to others and enjoy the special way God has made them. Mostly we hope our child will love Jesus.
I have no way of guessing your personality, or your special talents. I do know that I am grateful that God has given you to us. You will be such a fun addition to our family. I am so thankful for how God has blessed us. I pray that He would use your daddy’s optimism, his minor in psychology, his Biblical wisdom, eagerness for games and outdoor sports to shape you. I pray that God would use my musical knowledge, my enjoyment of the arts and exercise to benefit you. We give God the glory for all of these gifts. I know God will create you in such a beautiful and unique way! I can’t wait to meet you!
Dan gave me a special Christmas present this past year. He arranged for us to attend a marriage conference in Ridgecrest, North Carolina. It was a great gift, because we both learned a lot and enjoyed spending the weekend in the mountains.
The speaker for the opening session was Emerson Eggerichs, the author of Love and Respect. His message was based on Ephesians 5:33. “So each husband should love his wife as much as he loves himself, and each wife should respect her husband.” Men and women have different vulnerabilities and they each react differently to conflict. A man will typically withdraw during conflict, and that feels unloving toward his wife. When a woman feels unloved, it is in her nature to be disrespectful. She may try to confront her husband about conflict because she wants to connect, but to a man, it feels disrespectful. On the other side of the coin, a man may try to avoid conflict in order to protect his wife from hurt, but this lack of connection feels unloving to her. God made males and females differently. It is easy and natural to do what is in our nature, but it is good to be aware of what our mates need. Men and women both need love and respect. But during conflict, they have different needs. God also warned that we would encounter trials in this life. So, it is good for us to have differences, but it is wise to learn how to make the most of the differences, rather than allowing them to drive us apart. To read more on this topic, here is an article from his website.
The speakers of the next session were Steve and Debbie Moore. Their message was based on Philippians 2:1-4. ”If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.” They shared some bullet points:
- Value one another’s opinions. Try to balance conversations, so that they do not become one-sided.
- If you are always in control, control-freak, God is not. Step back and ask yourself, “Why do I have to be in control?”
- Unspoken expectations lead to discouragement. (A man can’t read a woman’s mind.) Unmet expectations lead to disappointment. Unrealistic expectations lead to defeat. (Keep your expectations in check. Do not try to change your spouse; cherish them for how God made them.)
They also shared a 10 Things Every Spouse Needs list:
- Your spouse needs to feel valued by you. (Do not assume they just know.)
- Open and Honest Communication.
- Your spouse needs a shoulder before your mouth. (Don’t try to fix their problems. Instead, listen.)
- To know that you will defend them. (Even if your spouse is wrong, stick up for them and have their back. There are plenty of people in the world who aren’t going to defend your spouse. Our spouse needs us to be their cheerleader, no matter what.)
- Your spouse needs to be held and touched.
- Affirmation (Build one another up with words.)
- Quality Time. (Your spouse wants you. Be present when you are together, and give them undivided attention.)
- Be a partner. (Find things you enjoy doing together, and dream together.)
- A forgiving heart toward you. (God does not hold your mistakes over your head, so do not let pride prevent you from forgiving your loved one.)
- Pray for each other. (Praying over your spouse gives them security.)
Debbie also told a story that stood out. She said that years ago they attended a cruise for youth pastors. The main speaker at the conference delivered powerful and encouraging messages, that pointed them to Jesus. That well-known speaker also happened to be staying in a room right beside Steve and Debbie. She recounted how unfortunately she could hear how disrespectfully and unlovingly this man spoke to his wife in the next room. After that, she could no longer appreciate what he said during the sessions. It is not about what you say. It is how you live. And without love, nothing you do will matter. The best way to honor God is by honoring your spouse. It is God’s will for you to love your spouse well and consistently. Your relationship with your spouse is also a direct reflection of your relationship with God.
The final session that we attended was with Scott and Angela Hunter. Psalm 34:3 says, “Magnify the Lord with me, And let us exalt His name together.” Here are seven points they shared for strengthening a marriage:
- Deal with past failures. (Identify, Confess, and Forgive)
- Choose a winning attitude.
- Learn to speak your spouse’s love language.
- Develop the awesome power of emphatic listening. (Make it clear with words. Tell your husband, “I just need to vent for a few minutes.” Then he will know that you just need him to listen and are not asking him to fix anything.)
- Discover the joy of helping your spouse succeed.
- Maximize your differences. (God is a God of diversity. No two fingerprints are the same. Affirm your spouse in who they are, because you won’t be able to change them.)
- Implement the power of positive influence. (You cannot change your spouse, but you can influence them every day.)
We learned a lot! We were challenged to try and focus on two or three things from the whole weekend. I still need to work on what my major take-aways will be. Even though our marriage is still young, it was great to be reminded of ways we can support and love one another. It’s so easy to forget small things that make a big difference.
We spent the weekend in Ridgecrest, NC for a Lifeway Marriage Conference. The weather was great, and we enjoyed being back in the mountains!
We were grateful to see our friends, Ryan and Angela, from Sumter. They have been to the conference for several years. We are glad we were able to join them this time.
On Saturday, Ryan and Angela took us up to a spot they discovered with an awesome view of the mountains. They shared a picnic lunch with us there.
A picture of Ryan and Dan. Ryan is the worship pastor at Crosspoint, which is the church we attended in Sumter.
During our break on Saturday, we went to the close by town of Black Mountain. There is a cute downtown, and we enjoyed exploring some of the shops. The general store had several old fashioned sodas for sale, and below I am drinking a Sprecher Cream Soda. I chose that one because it is made in Wisconsin, and has Wisconsin honey in the ingredients. It was yum! Dan bought a Dad’s Root Beer.
“I will be glad and rejoice in Your mercy, for You have considered my trouble; You have known my soul in adversities” Psalm 31:7
“Draw near to my soul and redeem it” Psalm 69:18
I love these encouraging verses that God cares about our troubles. I love that David wrote how he found hope in the Lord during despair.
“He will call upon Me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble; I will rescue him and honor him.” Psalm 91:15
When we are walking obediently with God, He will respond: if He does not alter the situation, He will replace fear with courage and confidence.
We had the privilege of hearing Ken Boa speak this weekend at The Cove in Asheville. The seminar was titled, “God of Wonders: The Creator and His Handiwork” and was quite impressive intellectually.
In each session, Dr. Boa presented a slide show with pictures and diagrams. His first presentation was called “Pointers.” He said that all of nature points to God, just as a painting points to an artist. Nature is not God, but God uses nature to reveal Himself. God is the Lord of time and space. He is the Head of beauty, goodness, and truth.
There were pictures of bugs, animals, stars, planets, galaxies, and more. The slide show proved how God’s creations are so big and vast that our minds cannot comprehend the largeness of the universe. At the same time, the smallest details of nature are so microscopic, that our minds also cannot understand the complexities and purposes of the number of cells and atoms that make up creatures and objects.
Dr. Boa encouraged everyone to practice noticing, admiring, meditating on nature and how it points to the glory of God. The bigger one’s picture of God is, the greater their capacity to worship. The more we see about His glory, the more we see He is worthy. And to think that all of what we see now on earth pales in comparison to the new creation!
After learning many facts about the complexity and details of nature, it is astonishing to think: Who am I that God would give up His life for me? But He did, and He thinks I am worthy. If God can manage the galaxies, He can handle my problems.
BIG God = little problems little God = BIG problems
The second session was an outline of the human body. Humans are the ultimate created order, and each body is far more complex than any galaxy. We learned how cells are continually being made, and how DNA packs an incredible amount of information in such a small area. No two cells are the same in the universe. The presentation included facts about the sensory system, and all of the different senses. George Will said, “It is extraordinary how extraordinary the ordinary person is.”
Some applications were: Discern and discover who you are. You are unique and there will never be anyone like you. You were made to be you. God created you for Himself. Don’t let the world define you. Let the WORD define you. The Word of the One who made all things is within us.