Saturday, January 24, 2009

A Merry Heart, chapter 2 of Created to Be His Help Meet

Debi Pearl heads the chapter with this verse, "The joy of the Lord is my strength." Probably this is the most important statement she could have made. Constant joy simply cannot be manufactured from our determined willpower. Nor can the "joy of the Lord" be dependent on our husbands. Please recall that part of the fruit of the Spirit of God is joy, and understand that He alone can be the source of unfailing joy.

Marriage can be the source of a certain measure of happiness and laughter. But husbands are human and they are sinners. We cannot think that having a good-humored approach to circumstances will cause our husbands to see things our way, or cause them to be more godly and considerate. Rather, we should rejoice in the Lord always, because no matter what our circumstances are, He is greater than both our joys and trials and will be glorified in them.

I say this with caution: sometimes our joy and our merry hearts can be an irritation to our husbands. There is a time for everything, a time to laugh and a time to weep. God has made everything beautiful in His time, and we should obey Him for His pleasure.

That said, I want to say that this chapter grated on me a little the first time (or maybe the first few times) I read it, because Debi kept talking about sickliness being connected with being uncheerful. To make a long story short, I, who was continually sickly, determined to prove that maintaining cheerful thoughts would not improve my health.

Thankfully, I proved Debi right. "The joy of the Lord is my strength," and "A merry heart doeth good like a medicine."

Other passages about God's involvement in my healing: Psalm 103:1-6, Proverbs 3:1-10, and Isaiah 40:28-31.

Friday, January 23, 2009


it is a pale pink wild rose
with a drop of dew in its heart
when she holds a newborn baby
in her arms.

it is a crimson rose
half opened
when she takes pleasure in her husband,
moved with holy passion,
in the half darkness.

it is a burning orange flame
giving warmth to her home,
dancing and vibrant,
as she serves God
by serving her family,
her community.

it is a golden glow
as she radiantly observes the accomplishments
of her husband
and children,
and she knows,
deep down in her heart,
that she had a part in their successes.

it is a growing like the greenness
of a tree,
persevering through hardship,
flourishing in rain and sunshine,
drawing nourishment
from a source unseen by human eyes.

it is limitless like the azure sky,
stretching beyond the boundaries of imagination.

it is midnight blue,
when it mingles with grief.

it is the purple comfort of hearts-ease,
the purple pungency of lavender,
and the purple fragrance of lilac.

this is joy.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Created to Be His Help Meet, Introduction and Chapter One

Shaina at Biblical Homemaking is hosting a discussion on the book Created to Be His Help Meet by Debi Pearl.

God tells us in His Word that He created man and woman, and that He Himself joined them in marriage in the paradise that He created our world to be. Before they ever fell from grace by their disobedience, He brought them together in a pure and beautiful union. In that perfect environment, God designed woman to be man's ideal assistant.

I have wondered what exactly Eve was supposed to help Adam do, and I found the answer in noticing the tasks that God gave Adam before the fall of man. First, man was supposed to rule the earth (Genesis 1:26-28), he was supposed to "multiply and replenish the earth" (Genesis 1:28), and he was supposed to eat of all the plants except the fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil (Genesis 2:16-17).

Later God led Solomon to write these beautiful and comforting words:
He who finds a wife finds a good thing,
And obtains favor from the LORD.

When God leads a woman into marriage, He is showing a man His favor! Practically, that means that I am a specially designed gift to my husband! While that is a beautiful thought, it brings with it a tremendous responsibility! I am responsible to God for being the gift He intended for me to be to my husband. As Debi said in the heading for chapter one, "A wise woman doesn't take anything for granted. She is thankful to be loved and seeks to make herself more lovely."

That is sobering, but I don't have to do it on my own! He will help me to grow to be more and more what He designed me to be!

So putting this together, I try to see how I can fulfill His design for my husband and our union in our present world that is far from paradise. In the same way He gave Adam a responsibility to fulfill his vocation, a responsibility to father, and a responsibility to obey God; He has given my husband these responsibilities.

As Mark's perfect, God-given helper, I want to do all I can to support him in the vocation God has given him. I want to help him raise children. And I want to encourage him to obey God in all things.

Oh, how I desire for my marriage to be as nearly like that union in paradise that God originally intended for marriage to be!

Sunday, January 18, 2009

dangerous fantasy

does not follow
the script she has prepared.
so she tries
to delete
but all that she can delete
are a few words
on a computer screen.

she says to you,
"i want to be friends with you.
but there are two rules.
you have to approve of everything i say or do.
you cannot say or do anything that i do not approve."

absurd fantasy!
does she think she is your god?

but it begs the question,
why is your approval so important?
if you see her engaging in self-destructive behavior,
you cannot express concern?
cannot warn of danger?

she feels threatened by disapproval.

how can creature demand unconditional approval?
how totally absurd!
how impossible!

she also has two rules for God.
He will be totally pleased,
and satisfied
with any effort at religion that she chooses.
He will not be offended at anything she does
in between
those religious thoughts or acts.

this is a dangerous fantasy.

truly dangerous.

He created her,
and in Him she lives and moves and has her being.
He is everywhere around her,
and she is totally dependent on Him
for her well-being,
her talents,
her abilities,
even the air that she breathes.

and she thinks she can make rules for Him?

she is warned:
do not be afraid of mere humans,
the worst they can do is kill your body.
you need to fear God,
who not only can end your human life,
but also controls your eternal destiny.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

He knocked

i was four years old.

i don't know why my mom decided to do this,
but while she was working in the kitchen,
she set me on the counter
and with determination
taught me a Bible verse:

I stand at the door and knock,
if any man hear My voice
and open the door,
I will come in
and sup with him
and he with Me.

over and over i tried to say it.
i didn't really want to work at this.
i was tired of sitting up there,
and wanted to get down.
but i couldn't until i could say

finally i could say it,
and off i went,
indifferent to the One who was knocking,
knocking at my heart's door.

but the seed had been sown.

i became aware of the message
of one of the Sunday School songs:
one door and only one,
and yet its sides are two,
inside and outside,
on which side are you?

oh, it was just a fun little song
with hand motions
and a catchy tune.
it delighted me.

and as time went on
we moved across the country
and at a different Sunday School
i learned another song:
I stand at the door
and knock, knock, knock. . .
I stand at the door
and knock, knock, knock. . .
if any boy hear My voice,
if any girl hear My voice,
and will open, open, open the door
I will come in.

another catchy tune with fun hand motions.

and about the same time i received a little card
with a long-haired, patient Jesus
apparently knocking
on the outside of a cottage door.

there were words on the back,
but i couldn't read.

it was all a lovely mystery
in my child-mind.

then one night
moved with jealousy
because my parents were all happy
because my brother "got saved",
i asked what that meant.

my mother took a wordless book
and showed me the colors
and explained that my heart was all dirty with sin,
but Jesus died,
and His blood could wash away my sin
and make my heart whiter than snow.
then when i died, He would take me to heaven.

oh, i opened the door of my heart that night,
and Jesus came in!

all jealousy was forgotten.

i became His, and He was now mine.

and that has made all the difference.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009


"Now I urge you,
keep your eye on those who cause dissensions
and hindrances
contrary to the teaching which you learned,
and turn away from them.
For such men are slaves,
not of the Lord Christ
but of their own appetites;
and by their smooth and flattering speech
they deceive the hearts
of the unsuspecting.
For the report of your obedience has reached to all,
therefore I am rejoicing over you,
but I want you to be wise in what is good,
and innocent in what is evil.
And the God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet.

"The grace of our Lord Jesus be with you."

Paul wrote the quoted passage to the church at Rome.
But since Scripture is given by the Spirit of God moving men,
and it is all profitable for me to receive
so that I can grow to think, speak, and act more like the God I so dearly love,
I don't brush it off.

God would not have given me this instruction
if I weren't going to be around people like this.
I need to think about who I know who is like this,
and then I need to trust God and His instruction enough
to do what He has told me to do.

I ask myself,
"Do I know anyone like this?"

I almost close my Bible and go on my way.
But I know God better than this
after the time we have spent together.

I lay aside the "do I know anyone"
and ask instead, "Who do I know that is like this?
Who do I know who causes dissension,
and raises objections to what the Scripture says?
Lord, help me to be fair in my evaluation."
Some people come to mind--
people who I want to please,
people who I want to impress.
"Lord, what is it again that you tell me to do with this people?"
I hesitate.
He wants me to turn away from them.
Avoid them.

Part of me cries out,
"You're kidding, right?
this is a poetical metaphor?
or maybe it only applied to that time and place?"
No, it is clear, and it is for me.

There is a short struggle.

"God, I will do it Your way,
but You are going to have to help me,
because You know this is going to make me look bad.
Don't You know about the 'peace at any price' game?
You don't play that game?
You won't sacrifice truth or justice or mercy in order to gain peace?
You must have some reason for this command.
I think I need to have my thought-processes changed,
because otherwise I am not going to be able to do this.

"How do You see these people--the ones who cause division,
the ones who place obstacles in the way of understanding Your teaching?"

Time passes as I reflect on what this Scripture says.

They are slaves,
slaves to their appetites,
not slaves to Christ.
How so?
Slaves to an appetite for control?
Slaves to an appetite for their own fame?
Slaves to an appetite for money?
Slaves to an appetite for conflict?
Slaves to an appetite for superiority?
If this is true, then of course they cannot be slaves of Christ.
I can see this clearly now.

"How was it that You said they work?
By smooth and flattering speech?
Oh, Lord, I have been vulnerable to this smoothness,
and I have an appetite for flattery.
Please help me to yearn for your approval,
and to be indifferent to the approval or disapproval of people."

Time passes in contemplation of how this Scripture will look
when it is lived out in my day to day life.
"Oh, Lord, by accusing them of flattery,
You are warning me that their compliments are insincere--
or if sincere,
given only to achieve their own purposes.
Lord, are You saying that they are only using me?

"You are saying that with their flattery,
they deceive the hearts
of the unsuspecting.

"They are deceiving?
They are deceiving the hearts?
They are deceiving the hearts of the unsuspecting?

"Oh, Lord, this is ugly.
If anyone but You were telling me this,
I would be angry.
But since it is You,
I am afraid--
afraid of straying away from You.

"Please grant me the strength and wisdom to obey you in this.
Help me to be wise about what is good,
and innocent in what is evil.

"Regardless of how contrary this is to my human way of thinking,
I am aware that You are here,
and You have brought Your peace.
I will trust that You will do as You said,
and soon,
soon crush Satan
under our feet."

Saturday, January 3, 2009

new year's eve, evening

watch night service.

i always wondered what it meant.
but i think that we are watching the old year end
and the new one begin,
in joyful unity
with our brothers and sisters
in the family of God.

so at 7:00 in the evening
we gathered for a service.
young families
and older couples and singles.
we lifted our voices in praise to the Lord
who brought us through the year.
the leader brought his testimony of salvation,
highlighted with slides from the time of his conversion.
others witnessed of the ways God had cared for them
this past year.

we gathered for a late evening meal;
homemade noodle soup,
cheese and crackers,
ginger snaps and pumpkin dip,
coffee or hawaiian punch.

sweet fellowship and goodwill abounded
as we played different board games.
laughter rippled back and forth wherever the young people were.
groups gathered,
the younger and elder,
male and female,
more educated and less educated,
different races,
different social levels
believers and unbelievers,
brought together
for the purpose of exalting Christ.

oh, i understand
that not everyone comprehended that purpose--
the small children,
the lost.

but the clear evidence of the fruit of the Spirit
was glorious to see.

new year's eve, afternoon

my husband came home early for lunch,
and we left for a small town
half an hour away
for a funeral.

the dear sister who had
entered her Father's courts with singing
and His gates with praise
would have celebrated her 101st birthday
had her homegoing delayed nine more days.

one hundred one years of living.

she was placed in the state orphanage
along with several of her younger siblings
when her mother died.

if i recall correctly,
she was seven years old at that time.

life was not easy.

but at some point she came to know Jesus
as her Lord and Savior.

she married at the age of fifteen
to a man fourteen years her senior.
he loved her deeply and tenderly,
and they started their family;
nine children,
six of whom lived to adulthood.

one hundred one years.
almost a hundred direct descendants,
and then all those who married into the family
or were adopted.

her former pastor opened in prayer.
five of her granddaughters and greatgranddaughters
sang "amazing grace."
humble people,
heartfelt song.

a grandson read Psalm 23.

a granddaughter arose to give a message
from her grandmother.

she spoke quietly but passionately,
"grandma told me that when she died,
i was not to say anything about her,
but only to speak of her Savior.
she wants every one of you to know,
to consider."
the gospel was presented clearly,
and an appeal was made to those
who had not yet made their peace with God.

my own heart cried out,
"Lord, make hearts tender to Your truth!"

some hardened faces softened
as they heard their matriarch's desire for them.
some hard faces
hardened still further.
others showed
that their hearts vibrated in sympathy
with her wishes.

the former pastor arose to give the eulogy.
by his own explanation,
the dear lady
who was now in the home that her Father had prepared for her
had been as a mother to him.
he also knew her heart,
and spent his time presenting the good news
of God's plan to redeem mankind
one individual at a time.
o precious family members,
she was concerned about your spiritual needs!
please do not turn your back
on the Savior!

the granddaughters and greatgranddaughters sang,
"how great Thou art!"

people shared their memories.

the congregation sang
"God be with you till we meet again."

we took the long drive to the country graveyard.
the weather was unseasonably warm,
at least twenty degrees
rather than temperatures well below zero.
still, we all shivered in the sunshine
as the final words were said;
we are leaving our dear sister's body here,
but there is coming a day
when this body will be raised
a glorious body,
(something we can't understand,
but yearn to experience).
we will be reunited.

after returning to the church,
we ate of the bountiful reception meal,
visited with family members
and the church members who had provided the meal.

then returned home.