We like control. We crave control. Our first reaction when life starts to spin is find a way to fix it. Control. Manage it. Control. And when we can’t fix it, and can’t manage it, we block it out and begin to focus on what we can control in the moment (or at least, what we think we’re controlling).
I have discovered that God doesn’t just “allow” pain – he uses it, on purpose, in each and every one of us. There are some lessons that cannot be learned through ease and comfort. And there are some things we’ll never change, some sin we’ll never forsake, until God uses pain to get our attention. Therefore, pain is not just inevitable; it is necessary.
Our response to pain reveals what we truly believe about God.
They all ran. For all the same reason. Sin.
They ran from the consequences of their sin.
They ran into the arms of sin.
And they left a trail of destruction behind them.
[Excerpt] By believing that rebellion is inevitable, parents make the mistake of beginning to excuse it at the beginning stages, feeling it’s not a big deal yet, or even believing it’s just not a big deal. Sometimes they avoid the confrontation simply because they’re too tired or busy, or even afraid.
The worst part of believing that rebellion is inevitable is that it allows parents to excuse their children’s behavior by believing that they can’t help it, it’s normal, or even natural for them to behave in these ways that are, in reality, sinful. And of course, if the parents excuse it, the children will not only excuse it, but indulge it.
[Excerpt] Divorce begins before a couple is even married. Before a man and woman even exchange vows and rings, most marriages are already in decline. By the time a couple reaches the alter, they’ve already begun to take each other for granted, they’ve already begun to think marriage is going to make them (and keep them) happy. They already believe that it will be easy and effortless, that it will finally complete them. But these are all lies.
Marriage is hard, and a good marriage is even harder.
[Excerpt] Ruth Bell Graham said, “A good marriage is made up of two good forgivers.” What is forgiveness? It’s choosing to release someone from the obligation that resulted when they hurt you. It’s about humility. It’s about laying down your rights. It’s the opposite of taking, manipulating, and controlling. It doesn’t feel good. But it is good.
It’s time to stop placing your happiness in people. Stop manipulating to get what you want. Be determined to give, bless, and encourage. Don’t look out for yourself – look out for your husband. Sound impossible? That’s what grace is for. But in order to receive God’s grace, you have to be surrendered to God’s grace.
[EXCERPT] Did you know that the average evangelical Christian spends only 3 minutes a day in prayer? And evangelical pastors spend 5. There is something very wrong with this.
I think it’s worthwhile to note that there’s a reason prayer and Bible study are called spiritual disciplines. The first is that they are the most spiritual things you can do – and prayer is THE most spiritual thing you can do. Secondly, consider the meaning of the word discipline: “training to act in accordance with rules; drill.” I think we can all agree that training and drills are challenging – and that’s the point. Our time spent in spiritual discipline is training us, equipping us, and making us strong and competent for the troubles ahead – regardless if those trouble are the daily pressures we face or a major trial that may be around the corner.
[EXCERPT] Have you heard the phrase, “Giving the devil a foothold?” It comes from Ephesians 4:27, and it’s in the context of holding on to hurt and anger. When you indulge in those things, it’s like taking your armor off while you’re at war – it’s going to kill you. And not just those sins, but any sin that you indulge, or as Romans 13:14 says, that you make provision for, opens you up to be destroyed. And the devil does not wait for you to have a vulnerability to come up with an attack – he’s already pursuing you. 1 Peter 5:8 warns us to be alert, because the devil is on the prowl, and he’s looking at us for his next meal.
I think too many people dismiss the importance of cultivating their relationship with God through personal worship simply because they’ve lost sight of the bigger picture of spiritual warfare going on in our lives on a daily basis.