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Archive for the month “January, 2014”

Who Sits on the Throne of Your Heart (by Wendy Blight)

Who Sits on the Throne of Your Heart?

“Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, …” 1 Corinthians 13:4 (NASB)

Monty and I began our marriage in a difficult place. Eleven months before we walked down the aisle, I was the victim of a horrific crime. This experience damaged me deeply. Few knew the fear and despair that had made their home in my heart.

Intimacy was hard. It brought back too many terrible memories. I tried to be a “good” wife and make my husband happy. But I just couldn’t.

Yet, I needed Monty. Fear consumed me. He was my only safe place. Being home alone terrified me. So when he left to play basketball or go to dinner with friends, I pouted, cried, and complained that he wasn’t putting me first.

This caused a huge rift in our marriage. Days were hard and nights were long. Soon I began to imagine Monty looking elsewhere for the companionship he lacked with me. Jealousy grew within me and I demanded to know when and where he was at all times. When I couldn’t get a hold of him, I panicked. My mind went places and imagined things it shouldn’t.

Jealousy infiltrated my heart.

I knew these feelings were wrong. Even destructive. But I didn’t know how to overcome them. As jealous thoughts took root, they became a mental obsession that fed me lies.

My marriage and my husband were slipping away. Completely at a loss for what to do, I dropped to my knees and begged God to help me.

Thankfully, God made a way to release jealousy’s grip on me—and it was through loving Him. As I came to know God more intimately, the jealousy began to subside.

God opened my eyes to see Christ in a new way … as my Savior and my “first love.” Until that time, love and security were found in Monty. My need for him was so desperate that I expected him to be my savior, defender, and protector from the evil in the world. I needed my husband more than anything else and felt safe only by his side.

This created a very unhealthy relationship. We should never “need” our husbands, our children, or anyone more than Christ. Ironically, I was so afraid of losing Monty that I treated him in a way that could potentially have driven him away. No one on this earth can ever be our savior. We have only one Savior, and His name is Jesus.

Healing came as I grew to know my “First Love” as my defender, refuge, and strong tower. This understanding put my marriage in perspective. As God took His rightful place on the throne of my heart, Monty took his rightful place too. Our marriage changed dramatically.

Of course, I never want to lose Monty, but I have come to know that I could and would be able to live without him because God now sits in His rightful place on the throne of my heart. He is my first love. My husband and children are precious gifts that He has generously given me.

Heavenly Father, thank You for Your great love and faithfulness. Open my eyes to see anything or anyone besides You who holds first place in my heart. Help me through the power of Your Holy Spirit to replace it with You and You alone. I ask this in the Name of Your Son, Jesus Christ. Amen.

Parents, I Want You to Want Each Other….for Your Kids’ Sake (by Matt McCauley)

 

Fighting Fire With A Squirt Gun

Our students talk and ask a lot of questions about sex. It’s usually the go-to rabbit they like to chase during conversations that wander anywhere near relationships, marriage, manhood, womanhood and dating. And I don’t see this as a bad thing; after all it’s what God is getting their bodies ready for during puberty. In a span of less than two years (usually starting at age 12-13) they will go from children to physically, fully functioning adults. It’s part of maturing into adulthood. And sex is a beautiful gift from our Creator.

My struggle is that often I feel like I’m trying to fight a blazing wildfire with a squirt gun. The world around them is preaching lie after lie about sex and sexuality and the fight for their souls and sexuality feels like a losing battle. The statistics don’t make my day any brighter either. By age 15, one-fourth of all teens have had intercourse. By age 17 it’s up to half, and by the time they graduate high school, 70% of all teens will have lost their virginity. That’s almost 3 out of every 4 kids. A very defeating reality for me and proof that somewhere, somehow, they aren’t hearing and believing the truth about sex and what it truly is.

Sex, Drugs, and Rock n Roll

Last week I sat down with a father of a soon to be middle school girl and one of the questions he asked was, “What are some of the issues that will come up in the next couple of years of my daughter’s life?” “Great question,” I thought to myself. The first humorous response that popped in my head was “Sex, drugs, and Rock n Roll.” I didn’t say that obviously, but there was some truth in it. Sex will be a new subject at the dinner table in the next year or so, and I feel like we as adults who love Jesus and believe sex is a beautiful, yet powerful thing, are fighting the world’s take on it with the wrong ammo.

All around them, in music, TV, movies, and pop culture they see sex and sexuality and it is usually always connected with passion, interest, and strong infatuation. And this part of the equation is right. Sex is a powerful gift from the Lord. So strong in fact it’s what he decided two people would do and experience together in order to create a child. Think about it. God knows how important it is for a child to be born into and raised under a home with a mother and father present. So, in his infinite wisdom, he created something (sex) that would bond two people…for life. An act of ultimate, physical, emotional, and spiritual intimacy. Sex is the glue that keeps two people (husband and wife) together. In marriage they actually become one. And it’s through that magical and mysterious act that a child is conceived. God is wise.

Where culture goes wrong and where our kids are led astray, is in the fact that it sells sex short. Intimacy is robbed and sex becomes just a physically pleasurable experience. No intimacy, no bond, no spiritual and emotional depth. The beauty of one woman and one man enjoying each other for the rest of their lives is lost.

Where We Go Wrong

And I think where we as believers go wrong in our teaching and instructing about sexuality is that we also sell sex short. I think if teenagers saw the same passion, interest, desire, and infatuation between a husband and wife, father and mother that they see on TV and in movies, the fight would turn in our favor. Now obviously there is a line here and by see I don’t mean something that will scare them for life (thank God I never walked in on my parents). But what I do mean looks something like this:

Husbands, when you come home from work is it obvious to your kids that you’ve been thinking about and desiring to be with your wife all day long? Is grabbing and holding the bride of your youth the first thing you want to do when you walk through the door after a long day away from her? Wives, do your kids see in your eyes a desire for your husband? Is it obvious that you long for him? Like Solomon’s bride in the Song of Songs do you lie in bed at night when he is away and become so filled with passion for him that you have to get up and roam the city looking for him? (SOS 3.1-4) Husbands and wives, are you both physically affectionate toward one another other in appropriate ways around your kids? Is it obvious beyond a shadow of a doubt that you two want and enjoy each other sexually? Are we fighting fire with a bigger, brighter, stronger flame? Or are we trying to put out the lies culture would tell them with a squirt gun.

No Thanks, I Want What My Parents Have

I think if kids saw this passion and desire and satisfaction between their parents and parents followed it up by teaching them that it’s within marriage that God designed sex to flourish and be enjoyed, kids would hear it. And when temptation and opportunity came knocking on their door, they would say something like this, “I’m gonna say no to this cheap imitation of what sex is because I’ve seen how enjoyable and satisfying it can be in my parents’ marriage. And I want that. So no thanks.”

Praying for your kids and for the flame in your marriage

Follow Your Hunger by Francis Frangipane

Today too many Christians have lost their hunger for God. Instead of coming into the Lord’s presence hungry for more of His fullness, our thoughts are held hostage to worldly pursuits and fleshly distractions. At best we are merely curious about spiritual realities, but not truly hungry.


Let me tell you a story that illustrates
what I mean. We have a little dog named Sophie. Sophie loves people food. To her, eating people food is the culinary equivalent of entering the Kingdom of God. She loves our food. She even has a Bible verse that she claims in faith, “Even the dogs get the crumbs” (Matt 15:27).

When my wife and I share a meal, Sophie will sit at our feet, squint her eyes, and stare at us (she thinks squinting makes her cuter). Any food that falls to the floor instantly vanishes into her mouth. No matter how much of her food she has already eaten, she is always hungry for ours.

Our home has a small, fenced-in yard outside our porch where Sophie plays. Although the fence surrounds the area, there are gaps where the pickets don’t quite reach to the ground. If Sophie wanted, she actually could squeeze under the fence and get out, but she normally has no reason to try. Occasionally she will get curious and go as far as the gate, stand there a while and look out, but she doesn’t leave the yard.

One day, though, my wife decided to feed a few slices of stale bread to the birds that nest on the other side of the fence. When Sophie went out an hour later, she immediately noticed a human food smell in the air, which she tracked to the bread outside the gate. In less than a heartbeat she found a little gap under the picket fence, flattened herself to the ground, and then shimmied beneath the fence to the bread on the other side. It was gone in less than a minute.

My point is this: hunger will take you where mere curiosity would never go.

My friend, God is looking for hungry people. Blessed are those who hunger. He is seeking people who are truly seeking Him. Indeed, He has bread from Heaven for us, and it is eternally satisfying. We cannot afford to settle into the routine of a fenced-in reality, not when God has eternal food prepared for us. Let us, therefore, follow our hunger as we pursue the presence of God.

A Challenge to the Married and Frustrated

5 Scriptures to Pray Over Your Marriage

5 Scriptures to Pray Over Your Marriage by Lysa Terkeurst

I sat down to write some thoughts for a young friend getting married. I wanted these words to be encouraging but also realistic. I didn’t want to pen the typical “best wishes on your wedding day.” Wishes might be sweet for a church day full of flowers and white tulle but it takes a whole lot more for a marriage to go the distance.

So I wrote honest thoughts as they came to me:

Being married is incredibly difficult. Being married is amazing. Being married can seem impossibly hard. Being married can seem incredibly beautiful. There is no other person that can make me feel as frustrated as my husband can. There is no other person that can make me feel as loved as my husband can.

As these words tumbled out I wondered if my friend would think I was a bit crazy. One minute I painted marriage as blissful as a kite catching wind and rising to the sky. And the next minute as if the string had gotten caught in a thorny bush and sent the kite crashing to the ground with thuds of disappointment.

So which is it? Bliss or disappointment?

It’s a fragile blend of both.

In the end I crumpled up my original note and simply wrote this, “Determine to pray more words over your marriage than you speak about your marriage.” I tucked the note into the white envelope as I tucked that statement into my own heart.

I wrote that note not because it had been true for my relationship but because I suddenly realized I wanted it to be true.

The teacher being taught by her own written out lesson.

And you know what I’ve discovered in the weeks since? I haven’t been praying nearly enough for my marriage.

I think about things. I discuss things. I complain about things. I attempt to fix things. I work on things. I apologize for things. I want to change things. And then I discuss things some more.

But talking about things and thinking about things and working on things… these are not at all the same as praying for them.

In Luke 6:39 Jesus asks a very important but simple question, “Can a blind man lead a blind man? Will they not both fall into a pit?” My husband and I need Jesus leading us, guiding us, teaching us, redirecting us, and showing us how to have a marriage that honors Him and each other.

I want my husband and I to spend a lot less time in the pit this year.

And I think praying more words over my marriage will certainly be key to this. What about you? Below are some lovely Scriptures I’m weaving into my prayers right now.

But, before we end this post, will you commit to doing something with me? Let’s assign ourselves the next step we want to take with getting more intentional in praying for our marriages. If I were you right now, I’d be so tempted to think this would be a good idea but then not take the next step. But thinking about doing this won’t change a thing.

Actually getting intentional about praying for something in my marriage today is the first step toward that marriage I’ve been dreaming of – the one that seemed so possible for Art and me twenty years ago in that church full of flowers and tulle.

Making sure I’m headed in that direction as a wife is only a few intentional prayers away.

Scriptures:

“He reached down from on high and took hold of me; he drew me out of deep waters… You are my lamp, O Lord; the Lord turns my darkness into light,” 2 Samuel 22:17 and 29.

“Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone,” Colossians 4:6.

“What shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us?” Romans 8:31.

“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms,” Ephesians 6:12.

“Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful,” Hebrews 10:23.

 

My New Year’s Offering (Wendy Blight)

Happy New Year!

During this first week of January, many of us will begin anew. New diets and exercise regiments. New Bible studies and reading plans. New organization and time management routines.

We’ll commit to break bad habits, restore broken relationships, and be “better” people.

We call these New Year’s resolutions. I confess. I’ve made more than my fair share of these in the last 25 years.

But most, like me, soon forget our good-intended resolutions. We mean well. But life gets busy. We return to our old habits. To that which is comfortable and doesn’t require so much sacrifice.

I want something better. Something new.

What about you?

Will you join me in doing a new thing this year?

Let’s begin the very best place we can … God’s Word. Romans 12:1-2 says,

“So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering … Fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it … God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.” (The Message)

Using this passage, let’s write a New Year’s Prayer. But not just any prayer. Reread Romans 12:1. There is a powerful little word tucked in that first sentence. Paul tells us to take our lives and place them before God as an offering.

Together, let’s make a New Year’s offering.

We can make all the resolutions we want, but we can’t change ourselves. But when we willingly offer our lives to God, He will change us. The NIV translation of Romans 12:2 says, “…be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” The renewing of our mind requires inward change and comes from God at work in us. It requires diligence on our part. It requires changing our thoughts, our priorities, and goals to be aligned with those of Christ.

It’s baby steps. And it doesn’t require changing everything all at once.

Let’s begin today with our first step … a simple prayer, offering our hearts to God.

How do we do this?

We’re going to write a prayer together. I’ll start. You finish.

Heavenly Father, I praise You this day as Elohim, God my Creator. You are the Author of my life. You are the Strength of my heart and my Portion forever. You are all I need. My heart’s desire in this New Year is to grow closer to You. In knowing You better, I will know myself more because my identity is found in You.

Give me eyes to see, ears to hear, a heart to receive, and a mind to understand all that You will teach me. Make my heart tender to hear Your voice each time I meet with You.

Take Your Word and penetrate my heart. Create a hunger deep inside my soul for more and more of You. May nothing else satisfy me more than You.

Give me a heart of humility. If there is anything in me that keeps me from hearing You, reveal it to me. Convict me. Move me to confession. Cleanse my heart and renew a right spirit within me so I can be in perfect fellowship with You.

Fill my heart with Your truth. Plant it deep so that it takes root. Move me. Change me. Transform me. Empower me to live out what I hear and learn.

Every day of this New Year, make my life one long walk of obedience in response to Your Word and Your Holy Spirit Who lives and reigns in me. Let Your love and Your Word shape my life. This is my prayer offering. I ask this in Jesus’ Name, Amen.

 

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