Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Wives, Respect your Husbands...

Several years ago, a friend started a ministry to girls who were engaged to help prepare them for marriage.  The engaged girl is encouraged to select three to five married women they trust and respect to join her for an evening of fun, food, and marital advice.  Over the years, I’ve contemplated what I wish I had known before I got married and what I can say to young brides-to-be.  This is what I have decided.

We hear a lot about unconditional love.  The Bible commands husbands to love their wives as their own body and as Christ loves the church.  This love is not dependent on the person’s actions.  It is sacrificial and enduring.

However, when it comes to wives roles, there seems to be some confusion.  The Bible commands wives to respect their husbands.  Interestingly, research suggests that a man’s number one need from his wife is to be respected.  Somewhere along the way, we started believing the lie that respect has to be earned.  Says who?

The Bible does not say wives, respect your husbands when they deserve it.  It is an unconditional statement.  We are to respect our husbands, period.  This does not mean that we agree with every decision they make, nor that they always act with integrity.  It does mean that we respect them even when it is difficult.

Think about it.  We are commanded to respect authority.  We may not always agree with the president’s policies, but we respect him because of his office.  Respect is due him because of who he is, not for what he does.  In the same way, we are to respect our husbands.

So ladies, the next time you are disgusted with something your husband does, respect him anyway.  You don’t have to condone bad behavior, but you can still treat him with dignity and respect. 

What does it look like for wives to respect their husbands?  I’d love to hear your feedback for a future post, illustrating how this is practically accomplished.

Friday, July 4, 2014

The cost of freedom...

I apologize for the brief hiatus; it wasn't intentional.  I'm working on my doctorate, and I have had so many papers to write and books to read that I haven't had time to write.  I did want to take a minute today to encourage you to pray for people in the military around the world.

The National Alliance for the Mentally Ill (NAMI) released a disturbing statistic.  More soldiers have died from suicide than in battle in Afghanistan.  This tells me that the horrors our servicemen and women are experiencing overseas come home with them.  Many suffer from PTSD or have a difficult time reintegrating into society.  Family problems, economic problems, and access to healthcare are all added stressors for many who have served for our freedom.

While we grill out and enjoy fireworks, a soldier is contemplating whether or not to live.  This is not OK.  I have asked a friend who works with veterans to write a guest post in the coming weeks, but for now I am calling you to pray for our nation. Pray for our leaders who determine where our troops will go.  Pray for our troops at home and abroad.  Freedom is costly -- may we be willing to do our part in prayer.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

I Traded the Sin of Busyness for Guilt

Anyone who knows me will tell you that I am the queen of overcommitment.  The problem is, I have way too many interests, and I try to be involved in all of them to a fault.  This past year God has been teaching me to be still and know that he is God.  I am learning that just because I don't have something on my schedule, doesn't mean I am available.

A wise man described this to me by talking about margins. When we write on lined paper, we don't write from one end of the paper to the other, but rather from margin to margin.  Have you ever wondered why we do this?  It is so that our words are readable.  Without margins, our eyes cannot focus and reading becomes near impossible.  In the same way, we need margins in our lives -- space to remain unfilled and silent.

So, being a "good Christian" I decided to put these lessons into practice and I began saying no so that I could prioritize and focus on what God is calling me to do.  I don't know what I was expecting.  Applause from heaven.  Praise of man...not really, but I didn't expect to be overcome with feelings of guilt.

"If you were any kind of Christian you'd . . . (fill in the blank).

I know that this is not the voice of God, yet it is so loud, there are times when it is difficult to tune it out.  I am sharing this with you because I know that I am not the only one who deals with this.

God's love is not conditional of our works; He loves because He is love.  Period.

When we realize that guilt is not from God, and that he desires a relationship with us more than our works, we will be content to rest in his presence.  Don't own that guilt!  Be intentional with your time...each moment is a special time that only happens once.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Remembering...

Memorial Day is a time of remembrance. While our nation remembers and honors those who gave their lives for our freedom, I am challenging you to also take time to remember God's faithfulness in your life.  Throughout the Old Testament, God told the Israelites to build memorials so that they would not forget God's faithfulness.  in Joshua 3, they built a memorial of stones to remember how God parted the Jordan River so that they people could pass on dry ground.  Jacob built a memorial after he dreamed of angels ascending and descending on a ladder from heaven.

Memorials act as a sort of sign post to tell us something. When someone we love dies, we put a tombstone on their graves as a reminder of their lives. What can we do to help us remember God's faithfulness in our lives?  The Jewish people clung to the Shema in Deuteronomy 6 (Hear O Israel, the Lord your God is One.) and put it on their door posts as a reminder of Who God is.

I can look back over my life, and see significant moments when God spoke to me.  While I didn't set up memorials to remember these times, many are hidden deep in my heart and mind.  During times of hardship and trials, I go back to those "sign posts" and remember God's past faithfulness to give me hope for today.   I encourage you to take time this Memorial Day to remember. Start a new tradition:  As you grill out with family and friends, take time to remember God's faithfulness in the past; share the stories of his goodness with others, and trust him for tomorrow.


Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Guest Post: Suicide Prevention in the Bible

I am proud to share with you a guest post written by my husband, Jeff.  Last week, our high school was in lockdown due to a suicide threat.  Jeff was working at the school when it happened, and below are some of his reflections on the event.
Guest Blogger: Jeff Ford

In September of last year, Natalie posted a prayer challenge and this vital information on her blog:

Pray that God will help anyone who is currently considering suicide to find hope and peace... I (Natalie) also wanted to share with you a hotline for people who are contemplating suicide. Write this number down and carry it with you: GEORGIA CRISIS AND ACCESS LINE / WWW.MYGCAL.COM / 1-800-715-4225

I'm re-posting her challenge as well as a devotional thought regarding suicide prevention. I asked Natalie to allow me to be her guest "blogger" this month. In light of last week's White County High School crisis, and my close vicinity to the events, I hope I can encourage the readers of www.natalieflake.com to be more informed in ways to help prevent suicide. 

It was a normal day at the High School. We had just finished saying the pledge of allegiance when word of the "full-lock-down" came on the intercom. Appropriate measures were made to ensure the safety of the students in my classroom. It was a day unlike any other we had ever experienced. I would later hear of the heroism and preventative measures by faculty members at White County that saved the life of a high school student. A student had felt like her circumstance were so overwhelming that suicide was the answer. 

Suicide is a permanent solution to temporary problems. Suicide is never the answer. 
Our crisis at the High School ended in the best possible fashion. A life was saved. In Acts 16:27-28, we discover a story of suicide prevention. A Roman jail guard's circumstances seemed so dire, that he set out to make the most dreadful of decisions. The jailer believed his life circumstances were so unbearable that he should take his own life. 
Paul, aware of the threat, reached out to him and stopped him with words of hope: "Don't do that! We are here." The Roman jailer was on the verge of making the worst decision he could ever make. His decision to commit suicide was derailed because Paul spoke up. 

What the one in crisis thought were facts, "I am better off dead, my life is ruined, I have no other option, I should end it all..." These were simply misconceptions. The truth is: you are better off alive, your life is sacred, you have options, you should start a new life. The crisis became the turning point. The jailer's life and the life of his family were dynamically changed in the midst of the crisis. If not for Paul's words of wisdom, guidance, and clarification then the person in crisis would have gone through with his intentions and ended his life. A life was saved. A life was changed. When the crisis ended, life took on a new meaning. The jailer put his faith and trust in a new way of life. The jailer was able to live as he was meant to live.

Through crisis hope is embraced. This is the story from Scripture, and this can also be the story for you. Amen. 

One last reminder: 
Write this number down and carry it with you: GEORGIA CRISIS AND ACCESS LINE / WWW.MYGCAL.COM / 1-800-715-4225