showing all articles for the category "faith"

Love is NOT enough

October 18, 2019

*guest blog by Megan King

We see it everywhere. This idea that all you need is love. Love will get you through! As long as you have love, you have everything. Our movies, television shows, and music are all saturated with this overwhelming idea. It's pervasive and addicting!

Love is powerful. It is selfless and generous. True love sacrifices and honors and cherishes. Love fulfills us and gives us motivation to be a better person. But it also fades and wanes. It can come and go.

Love is not a statue that you affix in the center of your marriage and then live happily ever after. Love is the most demanding garden you've ever tended. Love is a fragile thing and it can easily wilt.

We want love to be enough because it feels so good and it makes us happy. And we all just want to live happily ever after, right?

My favorite Disney movie growing up was Cinderella. I loved it, but now that I'm grown, I have some concerns about how Cinderella got her happily ever after... The whole movie is based off of the romantic notion of love at first sight. They didn't even know each other's first names before they decided that they were madly in love. How does that work?

Love at first sight makes for great movies, but not marriages.

To be clear, I am not saying that you don't need love in order to be happily married. This blog post simply isn't about that.

This blog is about what else you need to live happily ever after.

Let's get real - God invented marriage. If we're going to do it right, we should probably consult the Creator. He wrote the laws of love way before Disney and I am pretty sure that God would have a thing or two to say about what you need to make it work. In fact, the whole purpose of marriage was never centered on love in the first place!

Scripture gives us three purposes for holy matrimony:

1) To fill the Earth and Subdue it
"So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. And God blessed them. And God said to them, Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth"  Genesis 1:27-28 ESV

This one is rather simple; have babies and fill the Earth. In God's wisdom, He created the family unit consisting of a mother, father, and children. Marriage provides the structure and safety that children need in order to thrive.

2) To be in partnership
"And the LORD God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make a helper suitable for him."  Genesis 2:18 ESV

This word, helper, means so much more than just an extra set of hands. The Hebrew word, "ezer," expresses an idea more along the lines of an indispensable companion. Sounds like a partner to me.

3) To serve as a reflection of the relationship between Jesus Christ and His Church
"For your Maker is your husband, the LORD of hosts is his name; and the Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer, the God of the whole earth he is called."  Isaiah 54:5 ESV 
"Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church"  Ephesians 5:25-33 ESV

This is so beautiful, isn't it? The love and loyalty expressed in marriage is merely a reflection, an example of the relationship Christ wants to have with his church.

Attempting to successfully navigate a marriage relationship without understanding WHY you are married is like navigating the ocean without any charts - reckless and hopeless. You will get lost and you will sink. Might as well call yourselves the Titanic. You're going down, my friend.

There is an incredible amount of patience, selflessness, humility, gentleness, kindness, and generosity that is required to truly love someone... and the fact is that all of that can only come from God. If I didn't have the strength of God helping me to love my husband daily, I wouldn't be able to do it. Without my faith in God and the gifts of his holy spirit, my marriage would quickly dry up.

When you decide to be friends with someone, you consciously choose to hang around that person more and more because you agree with their actions, you share the same beliefs, and you enjoy their company. The way they handle life resonates with you and you see things eye-to-eye. Jumping into a romantic relationship before you have a chance to objectively make this evaluation is like waiting to put on a parachute until after you've already jumped. Reckless.

Love, handled in the wrong way, can cause us to overlook character flaws in a person and justify their actions or beliefs regardless of if we agree with them or not.

Seriously, though. Imagine having fundamentally differing personality types. Strip your marriage of sex, attraction, even love. What is left? If you can't see yourself hanging out with this person in a completely casual manner, you might not be friends with them and your marriage could be in danger.

A little piece of advice here, if you find that you don't have many interests in common with your spouse...

Find something that they love and decide to love it too. No, seriously. You can choose this. 

Is your husband a basketball fan? Good, so are you. Make it happen. Watch the games together. Wear the shirts and sport the gear. And maybe, you just might find that you... well... you couldn't care less about basketball, but being with him makes it worth it and now you are that much closer. What about video games? Pick up that controller, girl. It's okay if you suck. Does he like to go hiking or running? It's good for you anyway, so grab your tennis shoes and get to it.

Find something that he loves and choose to love it too.

Unlike every Disney relationship ever, Marriage is not "happily ever after." It is difficult, ever difficult. When you feel the love fade, friendship is what keeps you from looking at your spouse as someone you used to be attracted to.

True love is friendship on fire. A marriage rooted in friendship is what makes your relationship a companionship. (Say that five times fast.)

On average, the human brain stops developing around age 25. Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying you must be at least 25 to get married - I was 22!! I am saying that it's important to consider that you may not even be fully you, yet.

What are you supposed to be doing with your life? What do you want to be when you grow up?

No, seriously, it's important to have this figured out before you get married. Because what if you marry a man that is called by God to be a pastor in Africa, but you are completely unwilling to move to Africa? What if you desire to travel the world, but you marry a man who refuses to board a plane?

One of you will lose. You will either spend the rest of your life resenting your spouse for holding you back or you will be dragging your spouse around as you follow your dreams and crush theirs.

Your spouse is not meant to be your other half. You both must be your own person. When you fall in love and get married before you are your own person, how can you know what you want in your future, let alone if it matches with someone else?

Why does this even matter?

God takes marriage very seriously. There aren't a lot of escape routes and the ones that do exist are rough to say the least. Any Christian couple looking to get married is making a lifelong commitment and a very serious decision.

You can't clearly make this decision when you are clouded by love. Love makes us foolish. It is a dangerous chemical; a powerful potion. It will overwhelm your senses and make you lose your focus. Love is not to be trifled with!

Yes, love is powerful, but it's also fickle. Love fades. Sorry, but it's true. It is a daily choice that must be made. Some days, you won't feel like making that choice! But it's all worth it when you know that you have something to fight for. Something that won't degrade over time or fade away.

My husband and I have a foundation underneath our marriage that is stronger than love! Something that cannot be melted by our sinful nature, selfish attitudes, or the passing of time. Nothing will change our faith in the God we both serve. Our personalities match and we were good friends before the romance began. And we have the exact same vision for our future. We also deeply love each other, but that came last. This security is what I wish for you, too.

I would encourage you to be clear headed when it comes to choosing your lifelong partner. And that means making the decision to get married based off of whether or not the marriage makes sense, not on feelings alone. And if you're already married, it's not too late to work on these things and build a foundation underneath what you already have. 

Just remember, love is NOT all you need.

Megan King lives in Gilbert, AZ with her loving husband and the dorkiest dog you'll ever meet. You can typically find her watching Friends on Netflix (again) or hanging out with the youth group girls from her church, where she's served in leadership for the past seven years. She works as a communications director for a non-profit that spreads the gospel in SouthEast Asia and she loves every minute of it. (Okay, not every minute but she can't complain.)

A prayer for my son's future bride...

October 15, 2019

Father God, 

You are the author of life, and You are love. You created my son and you have plans for him. Thank You for allowing me to be his mother for this time, short as it may be. God I pray that You give him eyes to see, and a heart to desire, the woman You are preparing for him.

Even right now, Father, make Yourself known to my son's future wife. Create in her a passion for You that will be shadowed by no man. Fill her with Your Spirit. Show her that her purpose in this life is to know You, love You, and glorify You. If she, as a child, right now is not a believer, God pull her towards You in a personal way that she will never forget. Capture her heart and show her what true love is. Before she even meets my son, her future husband, cause her to fall in love with You first and foremost. And give her parents the wisdom to appropriately foster a relationship with You in their home.

Give her a high respect for and appreciation of her purity. As she gets older, convict her in those weak moments where she may crave the touch or attention of a man, the kind of touch and attention that should wait until marriage; and comfort her in the way only You can. Give her a heart that desires to remain pure and that is excitedly waiting for her future husband, whom You are also preparing for her. Allow her to remain unscathed when friends or the world tell her she's silly for waiting and saving herself for marriage. Reinforce in her the truth that she is not missing out on any good thing while she waits. God show her what good really is, that it is good to wait, that she is setting herself up for marital success that is for her good and Your glory.

Give her the wisdom to not "date around" and to take courtship and finding a suitable husband seriously. More than just protecting her, God, grow in her the ability to protect herself, guarded in You, and armed with Your Word, and rooted in strong fellowship; to protect herself from the lies of this world regarding sex, love, and marriage. Show her Your true vision and plan for a man and his wife, and give her that vision as her own. 

God give her a mind that is open and a heart that is full. Whether she desires to work in the home and have tons of babies, or be a career woman, make her a strong witness for You and Your Kingdom. Bring many people to Your Son through the way she lives her life and carries herself as she grows. Show people Your love through her words and actions. Grow her to be like the wife of noble character from Proverbs 31:10-31. Allow my son to benefit from the woman You are creating her to be even in these years before they meet. 

And Father, You have been so good to me in my marriage, I ask that You bless my son and his future wife even more than You have blessed me and my husband. I know You are good, and that You delight in blessing Your children. You have not simply made my marriage good, but even better You have given us opportunities to trust in You, to lean on You and on each other, and come out on the other end of trials even stronger together and individually, all in Your Name and power and through Your Spirit's work in us. This is how You have been good to us. Give this to them as well. Don't allow them to rely too heavily on each other or in the world's so called wisdom, that they forget You, but show them Your rightful place in their marriage - right in the center. 

God I know You can do all these things. But if You have other plans, I submit my will to them and I will worship You still. Thank You, You are trustworthy and You will not allow Your people to strive in vain. You have a plan, and it is always good. And I trust You.

I ask all of these things in the Holy and Precious Name of Your Son, Jesus Christ. 

it's OK to be out of control, mama

September 24, 2019

Here's a question I struggle with sometimes, and the following is really a letter to myself. 

How much control do you really have in your household? 

Sure, you can control what you cook for dinner and how clean you keep your house... at least to a certain point. But can you make your children obey you? Can you make them eat all their veggies, clean their room, or do their homework? Without having to ask or bribe? Can you make your husband help you out around the house or make him choose what to do with his time?

Short answer: No

What you are able to control is your actions; your reactions; your responses; your thoughts; your emotions.

No matter what you do or how hard you try, you cannot make anyone do anything. You don't control anyone but yourself.

Even God doesn't "control" people.

Yes, He has control over every one and every thing and is ultimately in control, but He doesn't actually force anyone to do anything.

God created each and every person with their own free will, that includes your husband and your children. And what they do with that free will - well, is entirely up to them. Sure, you can strongly encourage or even manipulate someone into doing something you want them to do, but ultimately it is their choice. 

As a wife and mother, God has given you much responsibility. Although you are not responsible for the choices your family make, you are responsible for loving them well and keeping the home a safe place full of love and focus on God.

You are called by God to help, submit to, and support your husband; to teach and guide your children. What they do with your help, support, teaching, and guidance is up to them. You won't always get the results you want, and that may drive you crazy. But again, that reaction is yours to control.

Knowing and submitting to God's design for free will should make it easier to manage situations in your home with your spouse and children. 

And really, you should respect their free will as you have that same free will! You may disagree with what they do with their free will, however that's between them and God (so but out). Just keep doing what you know you are supposed to do. Make the next right choice and pray they do as well.

Thank God He didn't give you the ability to control anyone because that would mean that someone else could have the ability to control you!

Let this truth encourage you and allow you to relax a little. Trying to control people is an endless loosing battle that you don't have time to fight.

It's OK to be out of control, mama. Rest in knowing that God is in control and He sees you and knows what you need to be able to do the work He has called you to in your home. Ask Him to remove your "need for control" over your husband and children.

Let go and let God fill you with peace as you do the work He has called you to do in the home and with the family He has so graciously given you.

Why you should keep dating your spouse after having kids

July 08, 2019

Just because you are married doesn't mean you should stop dating.

In fact, you should date more now that you are married!

Marriage is hard. And once kids enter the equation, finding time to be with one another and grow in intimacy gets complicated.
Unfortunately for many, dating stops once parenting begins.
This is sad and potentially dangerous.

If you do not keep the intimacy and passion in your relationship alive and thriving, your marriage could die. So many people are stuck in a stagnant marriage with no passion and are together for the kids and convenience, coasting through life on autopilot. It's fairly common, but shouldn't be considered normal.

So be intentional.

Go on dates regularly.
Make plans for once a week, once a month at the longest.
Keep a routine and make it a priority.
Schedule regular date nights and don't cancel them.
In your home, the most important relationship is you and your spouse (second only to God, of course). Your kids come third.

If you and your spouse are not a team, working together with a like mind, communicating and connected to the core, how can you expect to co-parent effectively? Children need the input of both parents - that's how it was designed - a mom and dad together. It's very confusing for a child to live in a house where the parents' marriage isn't the priority. They will learn that it is normal to be unhappy in marriage and to not be in love with thier spouse; and will most likely end up in a similar situation when they grow up. Don't let this happen.

Work with your spouse and decide what day or times works best for you both. Consider your work schedules and family time. For example, the best time for my husband and I to get in our date is during the weekdays while our boys are in school. We both work from home and that's just what works for us. It will be different for everyone. If you have friends or family members in a similar season of life, consider making a kid swap schedule where you take their kids for a few hours once a month, and they'll take yours on a different day. That way, you get your date night and childcare is covered. Plus you get to help out another couple as well. Or perhaps your church's youth group has a few responsible high-schoolers looking for a side gig? Either way, you will figure it out if you really want to.

Date Night doesn't have to be super fancy or expensive. But it could be, if that's your style and it fits in your budget. Don't be afraid to invest now in the long term stability of your marriage. That is always a good investment. Put your whole heart into it and don't hold back. Never feel guilty about taking time away from the kids to focus just on each other. Trust me, this is the best benefit a child can get from their parents.

Maybe your budget is strict and you don't live near family and don't really have a sitter option. That's no excuse. You still need date night. In fact, you may need it more than anyone. It just may look a little different. Stay in and rent a movie or binge watch Netflix after the kids go to sleep. Go for a family walk and let the kids play at a park while you sit together on a bench and talk. Cook dinner together and experiment with a unique new recipe. Play cards or a board game as a family and choose to be on each others teams. Steal away small windows of time to focus on each other and don't be afraid to flirt in front of the kids. All the while, keeping it in mind that eventually you will find a sitter and you will go out together.

Don't let the most precious human relationship you have be placed onto the back burner. Show your children what a healthy, loving, and Godly marriage relationship looks like. Show your spouse how important they are to you by making and keeping them your priority.

Is eating meat a sin?

March 28, 2019

Is eating meat a sin? Didn't God create all living things as vegan, so shouldn't we all be vegan today? Is it wrong to kill animals for food?

There are many varying opinions within the Christian community regarding veganism/vegetarianism. Unfortunately, this often separates God's people and causes contention. This is not God's will for His people. There is so much freedom we have considering our Christian liberties, and the food we eat is one of them. 

Was creation vegan/vegetarian in the beginning?

In the first chapter of Genesis (Genesis 1:29-30), God clearly says that He created all the seed bearing fruits and plants for us as food. Not only for us though, He also said it was for every animal as well. Even though this statement by God is a positive one, saying what is given for food, not necessarily what isn't allowed, I believe He didn't intend His creation to eat each other. He gave mankind the responsibility to rule over and care for all the animals, but He did not say they were for food or that we could do with them as we please. Besides, God deemed all of creation "good" in Genesis 1:31. There was no violence, sickness, suffering, nor death. God warns Adam about the consequence of sin in Genesis 2:17. Death is a punishment, a consequence for sin (Romans 6:23) and since there was no sin (yet) there could have been no death, therefore, no meat eating. Based on these evidences, I personally believe that human kind and every other creature was created vegan. 

In the garden after they sinned, God clothed Adam and Eve with animal skins when He found them naked (Genesis 3:21). Scripture doesn't say specifically that God killed an animal to make these clothes, but it is a widely believed idea that this is the first account of an animal death. God showed He loves human kind more than animals by sacrificing an animal to cover the sins of His people temporarily, until He sends Jesus to do it permanently. In the beginning before there was sin due to the fall, there was no death, no killing, no hunting, no slaughtering; Adam and Eve were not created as meat eaters; carnivores nor omnivores existed. All of creation ate only whole plant foods. Sin brought death to animals and to humans and that's when eating animals entered creation (for both people and other animals). Does the entirety of my faith rest on this belief? NO, of course not. If I am proved wrong, I lose nothing, and I move on. No big deal.

When did creation become omnivorous?

After the fall of man, sin entered the world and people just kinda started doing whatever they wanted. This includes eating meat, even though it was against God's original design. At this point in time, I believe that eating meat was a sin. We were commanded to rule over and take care of the animals (Genesis 1:26), not to eat them. This is not something God intended for us to do, and when we do what we want to do instead of what God wants us to do, that is sin. So, sin was out, people left God, and the flood came and went (Genesis 7:11-12)...

Is it a sin to eat animals or animal products?

God gave Noah (and all mankind) a new freedom once he got off the ark: everything that lives and moves is now allowed to be our food (Genesis 9:3). It is made perfectly clear that God has made it acceptable to eat an animal from that point on. However, just because it is spiritually permissible, doesn't mean it is nutritionally beneficial - more on that here. So, if it was a sin against God to eat meat up until this point, it is now no longer a sin. I found it interesting that God added verse four as an exception: we can eat meat, but only as long as it's lifeblood is not in it (Genesis 9:4). Does this mean we shouldn't eat raw meat? Or animals who are still alive? Either way, it is very clear here that God Himself says that it is NOT a sin against Him to eat animals or animal products. But He also doesn't say that it is a necessity to following Him. It is neither condemned nor commanded, just allowed. It is a choice each person can make for themselves. But the Spirit works individually in each person and will convict you if He so pleases. If you feel the Spirit prompting you to refrain from consuming animal products, but you choose to eat them anyway, then you are in fact sinning against God. 

What about killing and eating animals for sacrificial purposes or worship?

After giving permission to eat animals, God did tell Noah in Genesis 9:5 that He would demand an accounting of blood from His people and the animals as an atonement for sin, pointing to our need for Jesus. Exodus 12:1-11 is God's instructions on how to prepare and eat the Passover lamb. This was a ceremonial thing that wasn't to be done everyday, but only once a year. The slaughtering and consuming of the Passover lamb was symbolic and, again, pointed to our need for redemption and the future coming of Christ, the Lamb of God. Christians no longer celebrate the Passover today because Jesus was our final Passover Lamb, we have no need to ceremonially sacrifice animals anymore. Jesus was our one and done. The Old Testament Passover lamb wasn't sufficient, but the blood of the Lamb of God takes away the sins of the world (John 1:29).

Does eating animals defile you?

In Leviticus 11:1-47, there's a huge list of rules about which animals are clean and which ones are not. In the New Testament, Jesus says that what goes into a persons body is not what defiles him (Mark 7:14-19), which is commonly known as Jesus declaring that all animals are now considered clean before God. But even that is surrounded by debate: was He talking about hand washing rituals or the actual food itself? I'm not going to go into that, because honestly the research was wearing me out and it's not what our faith is built on anyway (Romans 14:17). Instead I want to focus on whether or not we as Christians are allowed to eat meat or other animal products, and how to handle a situation where there is a disagreement between believers on this subject. We've already learned that it is not a sin to eat meat. If you choose to follow the "clean/unclean" list from Leviticus, there's no harm in that. But taking the spiritual freedom aspect out of it, is it good for your physical health to consume animals and animal products? That demands personal conviction and research.

Use your Christian freedom responsibly

To judge a brother or sister who is using their Christian freedom to eat or abstain from whatever food they want is wrong (Romans 14:18-20). Some people are personally convicted by the Holy Spirit to refrain, for whatever reason, while others are not. It is good to be vegan or vegetarian, but it is not good to put that above loving and accepting others. In general, it is not a sin to eat animals. In the Old Testament, God says it is no longer forbidden (Genesis 9:3). In the new testament, Jesus says to love each other (John 13:34-35). So whether you eat meat or choose not to, do it for the Lord. Romans 14:1-23 is a great chapter about this very topic. I don't believe that this passage is calling all vegans "spiritually weak." It is most likely referring to those Christians who were offended by, and therefore avoided, meat slaughtered by pagan butchers that may have been offered to pagan gods; they still believed it was a sin and were convicted, and that's OK (Romans 14:6). One might say that person is "spiritually weak" because they are acting like those pagan gods were real and have any power to make the meat "unclean." Either way, this chapter is more focused on keeping the peace between believers rather than focusing on the things of earth that won't matter when we get to heaven. What we eat or drink won't determine where we end up for eternity, so why bother making a fuss of it down here? 

But for the sake of argument...

Let's just assume that at creation God didn't forbid using animals for food. Let's assume that Adam and Eve were allowed to eat meat and other animal products. If it was allowed by God at creation, one would assume that it would be good and healthful and science should be able to back that up. Well, quite the opposite actually. Eating animal products is known to cause cancer, heart disease, and other health issues. BUT, the animal products they would have eaten back in Adam and Eve's day are exponentially different than what we have available to us today. Factory farming and processing has changed the quality of the animals themselves, making a potentially harmful "food" product. Plus, the large quantity in which we eat animal products today is just ridiculous. We aren't out there working hard like Old Testament peoples to hunt the animal or raise it ourselves, and we aren't the ones preparing their bodies or breast milk for consumption either. We go to the grocery store where it's already been done for us days or even weeks earlier.

But let's get back to this hypothetical and compare it to what we have today.

If Adam and Eve kept a dairy cow, odds are they would consume much smaller amounts of dairy than we consume today, given the fact they had to leave enough for the baby cow. Nowadays, the babies are separated from their momma right after birth because they take too much of the milk. This may be a little known fact, but cows only lactate after having a baby, like humans. Dairy cows are continuously cycled through forced pregnancies which takes a toll on their bodies. They are impregnated while still lactating, so all those pregnancy hormones end up in her milk then straight to your glass or on top of your pizza. Would you drink some random woman's breast milk? Probably not, so why would you drink some random cow's breast milk?

Anyway, Adam and Eve wouldn't have been able to forcibly impregnate their hypothetical dairy cows, and they most certainly would have let her baby drink from her mommy. The quality of the milk would have been very different, too. They would have had fresh, unprocessed, un-homogenized, unpasteurized, naturally added-growth-hormone free, antibiotic free, grass fed, and free range whole milk from happy and healthy cows who also got to feed and keep their babies. To buy milk like this today can cost between $15-$20 a gallon! 

And then there's eggs, same idea different animal. Happy chickens, doing their chicken thing. So what if Adam and Eve picked up an egg a wild chicken left behind and ate it? It doesn't hurt the chicken. The egg industry today is nothing like that at all. Chickens have been so genetically modified that they lay almost 300 eggs per year, compared to a wild chicken who would only lay about 12. An egg is part of a chicken's reproductive cycle. If it's fertilized, a baby chick is in there. If it's not, it's just a "period." And unfortunately, backyard chickens are not wild chickens. They still come from a chicken hatchery from a long line of genetically modified birds, so they will also lay way more eggs than God created them to. 

So even if we argue that Adam and Eve could have been vegetarian, not killing animals to eat them, but loving and taking care of them while consuming their food products, it is not a good argument to say that it is good for us to do today. Or even if they were omnivorous, "ethically slaughtering" their animals for food (sounds like an oxymoron to me), the quality of that meat would have been far superior to what we are offered today at any grocery store. And I'm sure the factory farms are not concerned about what "ethical" means. 

So, all of that being said...

If God was OK with it back then, having the animals living and being cared for the way they would have been with Adam and Eve, what makes us think He would be OK with the way it is now

Proverbs 12:10, Genesis 1:21

If you choose to consume meat or other animal products, that is your choice. It is not a sin against God and no one can fault you for it. However, I challenge you, for the sake of your health and the animals, to eat way more whole plant foods and considerably less animal products - and when you do eat animal foods, consider where your meat, eggs, and dairy come from. We vote with our dollars, and when you buy animal products that come from abused, genetically modified, factory farmed, sick animals who are pumped with medications you are keeping those things going and saying that you are OK with it. You are paying for and therefore supporting animal abuse. Not to mention you are buying a food product that will possibly make you sick and fat in the long run.

I am not an animal rights activist and I won't be picketing or anything like that, but once you do the research you can't help but notice that something is wrong with the way our animals are being treated before they become our food. With all the research out there about animal food consumption being to blame for so many health and environmental problems, I find it hard to defend eating animals. It seems to be a bad idea no matter how you slice it. But again, it's not a black and white sin. 

You have to follow the Spirit's guiding in your own life. If you are convicted and called to refrain from eating animal products, listen.

Win your child's heart to God through nurturing love, a tool of redemptive discipline

February 13, 2019

It can be difficult to show Christlike love in the midst of dealing with discipline issues with your children. Sometimes, children with the most unlovable behaviors are the ones most in need of nurturing love. The goal of redemptive discipline is to encourage growth in a child's relationship with God.

Nurturing love can be used as a tool for redemptive discipline to:
  1. Develop your child's faith in God
  2. Deepen and sweeten the parent/child relationship
  3. And simultaneously train them in obedience

It is unloving and unkind to allow a child to continue in negative behaviors. They should be reassured that you love them and that their behaviors and actions cannot change that. 

But just like God is firm with us sometimes, it is OK to be firm with your child. They need to learn what is and is not acceptable behavior. You can do this while also being kind and loving.

We know that our sin cannot separate us from our Father's love (Romans 8:38), our kiddos need that same assurance.

If your child knows that you love and care about them as a person, and not just about their behavior, they will be more ready to respond appropriately to correction.

A child who experiences love at home will find it easier to believe that God loves them. 

You can properly CARE for a child and show them nurturing love by following these few basic principles. 

  • Cheer for and comfort your child with gentle and kind words. Use a tone of voice that is loving and welcoming.
  • Appreciate your child's God-given uniqueness and gifts. Recognize that they are a treasured creation whom is truly valued by the Most High God.
  • Reach into their heart. Ask them about what interests and concerns them, and listen to what they have to say.
  • Edify and encourage your child with truths about God. Tell them how good and creative our God is, and that He created them special and unique on purpose.

Nurturing love requires abiding in the Holy Spirit. Continued prayer and dependence on Him is absolutely necessary in order to love our children the way we should.

Pray for God to help you guide and redirect negative behaviors in your child with love, gentleness, and grace. And pray that God will show you in specific ways how He is working in your child's heart already.

If we choose not to pray about specific issues or circumstances, we are admitting that we don't need or want God's help. It's like saying that we know better or prefer our way over His. The only way we can win our children's hearts to God is through His way, not ours.

1 John 4:11 and Hebrews 12:11 are great verses to keep in mind when dealing with tough situations with your kiddos. 

Remember, God is love, and He can help us to love our children like He does.

This post is inspired by training I have received from Bible Study Fellowship's Children's Program.

caring without wearing

January 26, 2019

I am a homemaker, or as some say, a stay at home mom.

My job is one I don't get paid for, in a financial sense. 

My payment comes in the form of hugs, smiles, cuddles, messes, and stress. 

I love my job, but sometimes I get tired of it. This is just me being completely honest and transparent.

I realize now that I am not the only one. This homemaker thing is not easy, I don't know if it ever has been.

But over time, it seems to get harder  -  I believe it is because I put taking care of everyone and everything above taking care of myself.

I used to think that taking care of myself first was the selfish thing to do.

I don't have time to take care of myself, my family needs me.

After many hours in desperate prayer for peace and patience, God has opened my eyes.

I cannot effectively care for my family unless I am first cared for. 

It's the same mentality behind the oxygen mask in an airplane, place your mask first and then help those around you. 

I won't be much help to my loved ones if I pass out on the floor. 

So... now I am learning the difference between knowing and doing.

I know I need to take care of myself, but how do I do that?

I've been asked before, "What do you like to do?"


It's depressing that I don't really have a good answer. 

I like to watch TV (lame), I like to go on long walks (a little less lame), I like to ...

I got nothin'...

So this year, I am going to try out a few new things.

I will relax!

I plan to do a lot more blogging, with that comes research (which I guess I also like to do).

I am going to read. And not just to gain knowledge or for research. I want to read fiction.

I want to try meditation or maybe even yoga.

I will start a prayer journal.

And I am not going to be ashamed to tell my family that I need me time.

Even if that just means a 20 minute bath while the dirty dishes wait in the sink - and I will choose not to let that bother me.

I will learn how to care for my family without wearing myself out, one day at a time.

Santa, Christmas, and Christianity

December 10, 2018

Since Christmas of 2015, my husband and I have decided to rethink the way we celebrate Christmas. As Christians, Christmas is a very special holiday in which we get to celebrate the birth of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. The best gift of all is the gift God gave to us through His Son. But if you ask any child what Christmas is all about, they may say: presents.

In the months preceding Christmas, in an attempt to modify a child's behavior, it may be tempting to bribe them with presents or say that Santa sees everything. I have even fallen into the trap of suggesting that my sons write up their own Christmas Wish Lists, only to pretty much completely ignore it later because (1) we have already decided what we want to buy them and (2) we can't afford the whole Lego Store.

I remember, as a child, my mother and father let me in on the secret that there is no Santa. This may have been because I was always skeptical anyway and they wanted to keep the magic alive for my younger siblings. If I knew it was a secret, I could play along and not ruin it for them. Smart thinking, mom.

Anyway, at some point in my early years I came to the conclusion that believing in Santa isn't always beneficial for a child's emotional state. Sure, the parents who buy their kids gifts, label most of them as "from Santa", and tell them that he came in the night and left the presents under the tree while the children were sleeping, may have good intentions. But what are they teaching their kids? That they deserve multiple materialistic items to clutter up their rooms and minds? That they've earned it? That there is a man who sneaks into the house once a year and leaves toys? That reindeer actually can fly? Where does it end!?

Yes, I understand the difference between having a colorful imagination and telling lies, but where is the line? Believing in Santa, for the children who come from a poor family, can be heartbreaking. Especially when they go back to school, perfectly content with the new pair of socks that Santa brought them, and a classmate is coming excited to share about the many new and expensive clothes, toys, and high tech gadgets Santa brought them. How is the less privledged child supposed to feel? If Santa is the one deciding which child gets what, what is that child going to think? Somehow they weren't good enough? They aren't loved as much as the other, richer child? I know that parents aren't intentionally teaching their children this, but it's just how the mind of a child works. They can't help but compare.

It is possible to teach your children the truth about Santa, and keep the Christmas Spirit alive. Take the focus off of the jolly fat man in red, and put it onto the one Man who bled and died for them. Christmas is about Jesus. Jesus was born as a human baby and we celebrate His birth as an act of worship. To use this holiday as an excuse to spoil our children and focus on Christmas gifts they will get perverts the true reason for the season.

In our home, we are trying to move away from the worldly Christmas traditions and move toward a more authentic Christian way of celebrating Christmas. So instead of focusing on what my kids will get for Christmas, we try and teach them to focus on what they can do for someone else during the Christmas season. And this doesn't always mean buying someone a toy or a gift. You don't have to spend money to bless someone. This could be helping someone around the house, writing letters to people in the military or in a nursing home, or picking up trash at a park.

This doesn't mean we do not buy fun things for us as a family. We do. But we do not wrap it, put it under a tree, or glorify the mystery gifts piling up. The anticipation for opening piled up gifts is exciting, yes, but we need to be careful about what mindset we are fostering in our children. They are fairly simple minded, but they also are smarter than we give them credit for.

We have taught our children that there is no Santa Clause from a very young age, so it was never something that was a shock to them. This came up in a preschool setting once, and the preschool teacher told me all about it - didn't go well. A friend of my younger son was excited for Santa to come to his house on Christmas, and my son had told him that Santa wasn't real. This ended up in a big emotional argument. It's really is a tricky thing. But you have to decide what is right and good for your family. So after school that day, I took him home to talk about it. My son was angry because his friend was believing a lie, but his friend was sad because he felt like my son was being mean to him. I told him that some kids believe in Santa, and even though he's not a real person in the way they believe, it is impolite to intentionally call out a Santa-believing friend. I have a "the truth doesn't care how you feel" mindset and that's how I raise my kids, but we also need to be aware of and compassionate towards others who may believe differently.

Teaching my boys that Santa isn't real was easy. But when we told them we were no longer going to participate in the worldly tradition of opening a ton of presents on Christmas morning, they weren't happy. Of course they weren't. They were raised to expect the presents, making a list and getting what they want. It came with the territory. Fall comes, along with all the Christmas shopping ads and store decorations, neighbors putting up lights, teachers bringing candy canes to share with the class, the hype starts early. The heart of a child is selfish. It just is. We are all born selfish and sinful. You don't have to teach a child to be selfish - they just are. So when you mess with their personal happiness, you'll be met with strife and tantrums. But the fruit that comes later on is worth it. When a child is being intentionally raised with love, truth, and structure (and help from the Holy Spirit), good things will come.

So instead of doing the traditional Christmas morning in front of the tree opening gifts for hours and letting your kids quantifying your love for them in their mind in the amount of cool new toys they got, why not try a bible story and hymn time morning instead? Depending on how old your kids are, maybe they can read it aloud. Come up with meaningful family traditions that they will love and bring with them when they start their own family.

My favorite new tradition is our Christmas Cross with the 25 days of the names of Jesus. For each of the 25 days leading up to Christmas, we put an ornament on the Cross with a name of Jesus. Then we read a scripture passage where that specific name is mentioned. And finally, we worship Jesus through prayer and song together. It took some time for my boys to warm up to this tradition, but now they really love it and look forward to it.

Make Christmas Christian Again.

Halloween - Its origins and what it means for Christians

October 30, 2018

The family friendly children's version of Halloween where we embrace trick or treating, playful imagination, and make believe is thought to be fun and innocent. The darker truth behind Halloween is full of unintentional (and sometimes intentional) pagan demon worship and the glorification and celebration of death, gore, sexual immorality, and all things evil. I know this sounds harsh, but it's the truth. Modern Halloween in America is a mix of secular and religious elements and traditions.

The Origin and Evolution of Halloween and its Traditions

Modern day Halloween has evolved from a collection of traditions from the ancient Celtic festival known as Samhain (pronounced sah-win) and the Catholic holiday All Saints Day, along with many others. Samhain and All Saints Day are strictly religious holidays, observed intentionally for religious purposes, while Halloween is known as a widely and publicly celebrated secular holiday.

Celebrated by BC Celtic Ireland on November 1, Samhain (Celtic for summer's moon or the end of summer) marked the beginning of winter. The night before Samhain was thought to be a time when the veil between the world of the living and the world of the dead was thinnest. The Celtic Priests, called Druids, taught that the spirits of the dead, demons, and gods would rise from the grave and roam amongst the living on October 31, and either wreak havoc or bring blessing. Since not all spirits were thought to be kind, in order to appease the unkind spirits, they would leave food and gifts on their doorsteps and wear masks if they left the house. They would also light bonfires and disguise themselves as ghosts and ghouls to repel and confuse the spirits. The eve of Samhain was The Festival of the Dead led by a band of ruthless Druids who ruled Northern Ireland for centuries through occult terror and human sacrifices.

In the 8th century, Pope Gregory the third established All Hallows Day to discourage pagan practice of Samhain. November 1st became a Catholic holiday, All Hallow's Day (or All Saints Day), and its purpose was to honor all Christian saints and martyrs, known and unknown. This new holiday was accepted by the Celts, but they still insisted on carrying their own rituals and tradition of celebrating Samhain. The day before Samhain soon came to be known as All Hallow's Eve (later shortened to Halloween).

Old Celtic traditions were revived in 19th century America by Irish and Scottish immigrants. During a potato famine, over a million hungry Irish people and their folklore came to America. Their traditions began to change even more.

  • Halloween costumes are thought to have evolved from the Celts demonic or "harmful spirit" disguises during Samhain.
  • Jack-O-Lanterns began as an Irish tradition of bringing home an ember from the Samhain bonfire in a carved out turnip, using it as a lantern. This evolved over time and they started carving faces on the lanterns to honor their deceased ancestors and an Irish folk hero named Stingy Jack. After the move to America, when they saw that the pumpkin was more abundant, they used them instead.
  • Bobbing for apples was a Celtic vestigial divination ritual. The apple was associated with the female goddess of love. Young single people would try to bite the apple hanging from a string. This is similar to a bouquet toss at a wedding. The first person to bite the apple would be the next to marry. It was their way of attempting to see into the future through demonic help.
  • Trick or Treating is thought to have evolved from souling and guising (which originated in medieval Britain). Souling is where people would go door to door and offer prayer for dead relatives in exchange for treats. Guising is where young people would wear costumes and sing, recite poetry, tell jokes, or perform another trick in order to collect a treat, usually money or food. Trick or treating may have also started as the ancient Celtic tradition of leaving food on doorsteps to keep the wandering ghosts at bay. During 1930's America, trick or treating was more about the tricks than about the treats. People would play pranks on unsuspecting victims, usually vandalism or violence, unless they provided them with a treat. I will "trick" you if you don't give me a "treat." So basically, extortion. In the 1950's trick or treating became more family friendly and less violent.

Before Halloween was the family friendly, child - candy - costume centered secular holiday we know today, it was a strange combination of Pagan religious rituals, a Catholic attempt to prevent the Pagan worship, and other foreign traditions more focused on playing tricks on people, trying to tell the future through invoking the devil's help, and honoring and communicating with the dead.

Is Halloween a Satanists Holiday?

Halloween has been celebrated long before Anton LaVey founded "the church of Satan" in 1966. Satanists only recently adopted Halloween as one of their holidays. So Halloween isn't Satanic in origin, but it is considered a Satanic holiday when referencing it being celebrated by Satanists for obvious reasons, being a day when demons, witches, and devils are glorified. LaVey has even said "I'm glad Christian parents let their children worship the devil at least one night out of the year. Welcome to Halloween."

Should Christians celebrate the Americanized version of Halloween?

God makes it very clear how He feels about certain pagan practices in Deuteronomy 18:9-14. In this passage He lists detestable actions and rituals and commands His people to never imitate them. This passage is a pretty inclusive list of activities and beliefs that Halloween was originally founded on. In fact, it was for these beliefs, activities, and rituals that the pagans were driven out of the Promised Land God gave to His people. As a Christian, in light of this passage, Halloween just isn't as appealing to me as it used to be . . .

We as Christians are to live in the world, not be of the world. We are Christians every day of the year, we shouldn't compromise our morals just because everyone else is. We should allow God's word to guide us. On Halloween, death and torture and gore are glorified. God has overcome the grave, we should celebrate God, not the grave. 1 Thessalonians 5:5 says "for you are all children of light, children of the day. We are not children of the night or of darkness." We are called to reject the darkness and represent Jesus well. Especially when everyone else is not. Prayerfully consider treating Halloween like an evangelism opportunity. Like opposite door to door missionaries. People come to your door. Be friendly, represent Christ, preach the Gospel, hand out bible tracts, etc.

Some definitions of "evil" are: profoundly immoral and malevolent, embodying or associated with the forces of the devil, harmful or tending to harm, something extremely unpleasant, wickedness, and depravity, especially when regarded as a supernatural force, a manifestation of this especially in people's actions, something that is harmful or undesirable. Some antonyms of "evil" are: good, beneficial, pleasant, virtuous.

Death is a natural part of the circle of life. Everyone experiences it, no one is immune to it. So death is not evil, it is normal, natural. But celebrating and glorifying death, torture, gore, horror, and the paranormal through costume, decor, and other choices that normalize these things can cause spiritual harm and are definitely not considered good, beneficial, pleasant, or virtuous.

Is it truly innocent to allow your children to dress up and go door to door asking for candy from strangers? I personally believe it is not. Even if you are present and keeping them safe physically, you are teaching them it is OK to celebrate and cooperate in a holiday that was originally founded on someone else's religious beliefs. Beliefs that directly contradict the Gospel and go against a direct command from God in Deuteronomy 18:9-14.

All that being said, I do not judge or look down on my brothers and sisters in Christ who choose to celebrate Halloween with their children. Not everyone is convicted by the Holy Spirit in the same way, and we all have our own walk with Christ. I do not believe it is an inherent sin to let your kiddo dress up and take them trick or treating. I do believe, however, it would be sin if the Holy Spirit places it on your heart not to, and you disobey.

See my article on Intentional Parenting.

Intentional Parenting

August 09, 2018

I believe that the best way to love your kids is to be an intentional parent.

There is no such thing as perfect parenting.

In fact, the only perfect Father is our Heavenly Father, and the only perfect Son is Jesus Christ. They share a perfect Father and Son relationship.

As human parents, we make mistakes and that's ok.

God's design for us as parents was never to be perfect or to have all the right answers all the time. We aren't supposed to know exactly what we're doing or even why we're doing it all the time. But we are meant to lean on and trust God for all of the unknowns.

I believe that God uses our children as tools to teach us lessons and grow our faith and trust in Him. My boys are hard to handle sometimes, and God uses these tough situations as a tool to sharpen me and make me look and act more like Christ. He does this for all of us because He loves us.

As parents, we are supposed to train our children to love God and love others.

Parenting is not easy.

If you think being a parent is easy you are most likely doing it wrong. It is not easy raising good and productive members of society. Parenting is so much more than just taking care of your children and making sure they survive each day. Yes, that is a part of it, but that's not where it ends.

Parenting, at least intentional parenting, is about raising your children to walk with Jesus. To become thoughtful, compassionate, kind, forgiving, productive, and respectable adults who love fully and selflessly.

You cannot raise a child like this if you are your child's "friend." You should be their authority figure, their parent.

If your child likes you 100% of the time, you're most likely raising a spoiled brat. If they always get what they want and know how to push all the right buttons to get it, you're failing as a parent.

This doesn't mean you can't have fun together or be friendly, it just means that you should be a parent first, friend second.

Your child should know that you are in charge - this doesn't mean they will never challenge you, it just means that they know you will stand your ground in battle.

They should know that you are there to love them, take care of them, teach them, and protect them, not to just clean up after them, buy things for them, and make sure they're always "happy."

There is so much more to parenting than just getting your kids to obey you or respect you.

Intentional parenting is all about teaching and training your children how to be Godly adults.

Lead by example

- Show your kids how to walk with Jesus.

- Love them through all life's seasons.

- Teach them how to act and live so when they grow up they won't be lost (Proverbs 22:6).

- Communicate with them, be quick to listen and slow to speak, and even slower to get angry (James 1:19).

- Be consistent and authentic.

Practical Tips

I have not mastered intentional parenting, but here are a few practical things I have learned along the way.

Redemptive Discipline teaches children that they are sinners in need of a savior. It teaches them that they are loved no matter what they do, by God and by mom and dad. But sometimes, our attitudes and actions need to be checked and changed. Children disobey and need discipline, not punishment, discipline. (see my article on redemptive discipline).

The tone of voice you use when you communicate with your children is crucial. We teach our kids so much without knowing it. Too often I hear my children speaking to each other with a nasty tone that's all too familiar - my own. Before you're tempted to raise your voice and shoot off a malicious tone, remember - your children were created in the image of God, truly cherished and deserving of love and respect. You can be stern AND kind.

Practicing patience is new to me. I am not a naturally patient person and I tend to assume my young children should just automatically know better. But sometimes they don't - they need to be taught. I learned the hard way that I wound them deeply when I react out of frustration and impatience, rather than respond with wisdom and love. Take a Holy Pause - take a deep breath, gather your thoughts, and say a quick prayer before responding to tough behavioral situations.

Redemptive discipline, patience, and tone of voice all need to work together when dealing with disciplinary issues.

Tough situations are guaranteed to come up, they're a normal part of life. But always remember the God you serve and His plans for you and your children.

God gives us children so we can teach and guide them. That's our role - to teach and guide, and of course, to love.

Redemptive Discipline

August 07, 2018

I attend a Bible Study Fellowship group and have recently learned about redemptive discipline. This is an amazing Christian tool all parents should have in their back pocket. It is all about reaching into your child's heart.

When they misbehave, sure it's easy to lose patience, yell and throw out punishments, but what are you teaching them? That mommy is mean? At any point in the day mommy could just blow up? Nothing they do or say will be safe. They will begin to think that mom's love and happiness with them is dependent on their behavior (first of all, if that is true - mommy needs more of Jesus).

In order to understand redemptive discipline and appropriately apply it, you must first accept that your child is a sinner, no matter their age. Straight out of the womb, a born sinner. We all are. Your job as a parent is to guide your child into adulthood. To teach them how to live, to lead them by example. God has provided an instruction manual, we call it the Holy Bible. It is always relevant. All scripture is useful for correction and teaching.

When using redemptive discipline, you are addressing the heart of the behavior issue: your child's sinful human nature. For example, if they have toys all over the floor and refuse to obey your request to clean it up, what sin are they committing? Being disobedient to your parents is a sin. It is not wrong to tell your child that they are sinning. Too often parents sugar coat things for their kids, and therefore unintentionally turn their children into adults who aren't able to cope with failure, rejection, constructive criticism and who feel like everyone else is the problem. Don't be those parents. Don't be afraid to parent your child in a way that produces fruit in the future.

To continue the above example, say your child is disobeying your request to clean up their toys. You should only have to ask once. Consistency is key. Once, no more. As soon as they make the choice to disobey, send out a quick prayer, ask the Holy Spirit to guide your words. Then you should immediately pull them aside and have a conversation with them. Get onto their level, never stand over and look down on them and never do this from across the room with a loud voice. You should be face to face, at eye level, preferably close enough to touch, using a gentle but stern voice. Ask them if they know what they did wrong.

"Honey, do you know what you did wrong?"

Let them answer. Sometimes they'll know exactly what they did wrong, sometimes they won't, but that's ok because they are learning. If they know, and they tell you, praise God. If they don't know, tell them.

"You disobeyed mommy. When I asked you to clean up your toys, you said no."

Then teach them about sin.

"Do you know that God commands us to obey our parents? It is a sin to disobey your parents. A sin is when we do what we want to do, and not what God wants us to do."

Right now would be a great opportunity to open your bible and show them Exodus 20:12 and Ephesians 6:1-3, even if they can't read (this will teach them that their mommy treats God's Word with respect and takes it seriously). Allow them to respond, if they want. Then continue.

"When you disobey mommy, you are sinning against God. God does not like sin, but He loves you so much. Everyone sins, even mommy and daddy. But God still loves us, too. That's why He sent His son Jesus to die on the cross for our sins. You have been freed from the power of sin, that means you don't have to sin! You have a choice. You can choose to obey! Isn't that cool?"

Give them a chance to offer a response but don't expect one. Remember, learning is a process.

Ask them to pray with you. It is never too early or too late to start praying out loud with your child. If they want to say the prayer, let them! And then praise God for it. If they will let you, pray out loud with them afterwards, if they don't let you, do NOT force them. We don't want to make any of this feel like a punishment. Prayer is a gift from the Holy Spirit and He will never push himself onto us if we are unwilling, so offer that same courtesy to your child. After you pray together, give them a big hug and a kiss. Let them know you love them and that you expect them to be obedient. And then (good luck) ask them to clean up their toys again (everyone deserves a second chance ;)

This example is assuming that your child is a believer and will sit still for this conversation. But what if they aren't, and what if they don't? Redemptive discipline is still the best route. You can modify this technique to fit your specific family dynamic, but don't stray too much from the main goal: winning your child's heart to God. Relay facts that you can back up biblically. Share the gospel with them, teach them that they are a sinner in need of a savior. Let them know how much their Creator and Heavenly Father loves them.

This technique won't be effective for behavior modification without heart change, that is not our main goal anyway. Do not try to scare them into obedience. That is not God's way, there's no gospel in that message.

Never imply that when they disobey, you or God doesn't love them. We don't want them to come away from the conversation with the idea that they need to work for your love or for God's love. The love of God is unconditional, He wants our hearts first, not our behavior. A child can understand this, they just need to be taught.

Read Romans 8 and thank God.

Romans 3:23, 1 John 1:5-10, 1 John 2:1-2 are about sin.

Proverbs 22:6, Proverbs 29:17, Deuteronomy 6:4-9 are verses about raising children

wives respect your husbands, husbands love your wives

July 30, 2018

Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord, because the husband is the head of the wife as also Christ is the head of the church he himself being the savior of the body. But as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything. Husbands, love your wives just as Christ loved the church and gave himself for her to sanctify her by cleansing her with the washing of the water by the word, so that he may present the church to himself as glorious not having a stain or wrinkle, or any such blemish, but holy and blameless. In the same way husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one has ever hated his own body but he feeds it and takes care of it, just as Christ also does the church, for we are members of his body. For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and will be joined to his wife, and the two will become one flesh. This mystery is great but I am actually speaking with reference to Christ and the church. Nevertheless, each one of you must also love his own wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.

This passage is talking to believers. Verse 32 makes clear that this is a comparison of marriage between a man and a woman and the relationship between the Church and Jesus.

As wives, we need to appreciate how the mind of our husband works (obviously we will never fully understand him, and we're aren't meant to). Every man is different, but in a lot of ways they are the same. Either way, scripture makes very clear that wives should respect their husbands. There are extenuating circumstances, of course. If you are being abused, you need to seek help and protection, if necessary. But there are no conditions listed here. It doesn't say, "wives respect your husband if he loves you first" or "If you feel like he deserves it" or fill in your own blank.

This may sound silly, but just ask him. "When do you feel the most respected?" "What can I do better or differently to best respect you?"

For me, I learned that my husband doesn't always want my advice. This was hard for me to swallow because I am what you would call a control freak and unsolicited adviser. When I offer my advice, sometimes it comes across to him in a demeaning or manipulative way. When that happens, I am disrespecting him hardcore. The sad thing is, if I didn't ask, he wouldn't have told me. I would never have known and I would have continued to unknowingly disrespect him.

Husbands also are responsible to find out how they can best love their wives. He also should simply ask, or even pick up on context clues. My husband shows me he loves me by spending time with me, standing in the kitchen with me while I cook, or lounging on the couch with me watching a show in a dark room. Sure I can do these things on my own, but when he's there I feel loved. There is no one size fits all when it comes to applying this scripture to our marriages. But we are commanded by God to submit to our husbands and love our wives.

In our current culture, there is a lot of emphasis on women's rights and equality This scripture, calling women to submit to their husbands, is not a gender inequality issue. It is an obedient heart toward God issue. God is not now nor has He ever claimed that He created men as greater than women. Nor is He saying that man is or should be in control over woman. He is simply saying that in a Godly marriage relationship He has appointed the man, the husband, as the head of the household and the wife. The husband is responsible to God for taking care of her and loving her as his own body.

As the wife, we are our husband's helper, his friend, and support system. There is nothing wrong with being a strong and independent woman, but a marriage is not the best place for that kind of independence.

When you marry, you commit to your spouse and to God that you are joining together as a team, dependent on God and each other, to work together towards common goals. That is best done when the wife submits to and respects her husband, and the husband loves his wife and cares for her as himself.

If those things are taken care of, everything else becomes a non-issue.