I was trying to put my 6 year old daughter down for bed the other night and, well…it gets pretty frustrating at times, you know… this is my time at the end of the day when I just want to set on the couch and read or watch a little TV or just sit and relax for a while… you know, unwind. So after I read her a story, she went to the bathroom for what seemed like 5 times, asked for a drink of water, heard sounds outside her window, and so on. When she finally settled down. I went and plopped on the couch and took my laptop and started checking my email. As I was deep into my own little world I sensed someone standing in the doorway of the living room. I looked up and you guessed it, it was my daughter. “Kayce, what do you want now?” I know she heard the frustration in my voice and at that moment I felt bad for allowing myself to show it. She came across the room and sat down beside me and hugged my arm. “Nothing, Daddy. I just want to be close to you.” Man, did I feel crummy at that moment. The truth is, I wanted to be close to her too.
Is this what Jesus is whispering to me, “I don’t want you to do anything right this minute – I just want to be close to you.” for so long I’ve been so busy trying to do… that I’ve forgotten how important it is to be. Am I the only one who cares that I’m drying up in my soul? No I’m not. Jesus cares.
As people who are seeking to have our hearts alive let’s open our ears to what Jesus is whispering, “I don’t want you to do anything right this minute – I just want to be close to you.”
In honor of National Marriage Month in February, we are dedicating this blog to marriages. The VCLi SALT curriculum has some excellent lessons on the topic of marriage. There is even a pre-marriage counseling course that will soon be available on the web.
Actually all the VCLi SALT lessons can apply to marriages. Marriage is the place where we are often tested in our commitment to live for God. Check out the material on marriage.
Here is one pastor’s story.
“I remember frequently saying from the pulpit ‘If you want the perfect marriage, just copy my wife and me. We have the perfect marriage!’ As I was sharing those words my wife would be thinking ‘God if he would just die, my life would be much better’.
Marriage was perfect for him because his controlling leadership style and his wife’s people pleasing tendencies always produced what he wanted. Because she never shared how she was really feeling; he was oblivious of her loneliness and unhappiness in their relationship.
This is their testimony today:
“We can’t imagine life without each other today. Every year we grow more and more in love.”
As they started applying the biblical principles they had always known and even taught, their married lives changed for the better. He doesn’t describe his marriage as perfect anymore and she has learned to share her thoughts, feelings, and desires without fear.
That reaction is what makes SALT a life changing tool. SALT is an appeal to change the way you think. When our thinking really lines up with God’s word, we will change the way we act and respond accordingly.
They have always been devoted to God but now they also share their souls as well as their bodies with each other. They accept their family roles as the husband being a loving leader and a wife being a loving support.
They are achieving intimacy spiritually, psychologically, and physically.
Below is a summary of the initial marriage teaching from SALT.
You were created as a three-part being – spirit, soul, and body. God designed marriage to bring intimacy in all three parts. When a couple’s spirits are devoted to God, they experience spiritual intimacy. When their souls understand each other, they experience psychological intimacy. Physical intimacy creates closeness
While men generally focus on physical intimacy, women tend to focus on psychological intimacy. God’s plan is that we focus on all three parts of our being.
Here are some tips for maintaining Spiritual Intimacy which produce greater devotion to God and each other:
- Pray together
- Read the bible and talk about it with each other
- Attend and serve at church together
- Do bible studies and devotionals together-SALT is and excellent tool for doing this
Here are some tips for maintaining Psychological Intimacy which produce understanding of each other:
- Make time for talking
- Share what you think about, how you feel (emotions), and what you want or desire
- Tell your spouse things you appreciate about them
- Always avoid negative and cutting remarks
Here are some tips for enhancing Physical Intimacy:
- Give Hugs
- Hold Hands
- Make yourself as attractive as possible for your spouse
- Ask your spouse what kind of physical intimacy they prefer and think of each other as more important than self
- Remember sex is for marriage only
Ephesians 4:31-32 is an excellent scripture to practice in a marriage relationship.
“Stop being mean, bad-tempered and angry. Quarreling, harsh words, and dislike of others (like your spouse) should have no place in your lives. Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God has forgiven you because you belong to Christ” (Living Bible)
Our prayer for you is that if you are struggling in your marriage, God will draw you nearer to Himself and reveal His word in your life. If you have a good marriage, that God’s word will make it great. And if you want to be married, that God will become your provision as you wait on Him.
Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.”…“That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.” John 3:3,6
After several months of discilping a women using the SALT marterial, she wrote this testimony that I would like to share.
Georgia’s Testimony (name has been changed)
“My entire life I thought I was a Christian. After all, I attended Sunday school, received a Bible, and took my first communion in the fifth grade. Even as a adult I was certain of my faith because of singing in the church choir, Bible study at church, reading the Bible, and praying at home. What a big “SHOCK” I had recently when I learned about a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. I had heard from believers about the “Peace” from God but hadn’t experienced it until after asking Jesus to come into my life. I repented from my sins and past behaviors and asked for His forgiveness. I’ve now made Him first in my life. I’ve been working with new “tools”, being discipled while going through the VCLi SALT series. It has given me wonderful knowledge to have a closer walk with our Lord Jesus. I’m now shouting with “JOY” on the inside and planning an outward expression of this joy with a baptism soon. I’m so blessed to be growing, changing, rejoicing, and loving our Savior and others. He saved me! I’m praying God will continue to show me His plan for my life. Praise the Lord!”
Has God given you the privilege of ministering one-on-one to someone? It is wonderful to be able to share God’s truths. However, it is possible to miss the most important truth. They need to become a child of God.
We can help a person be a better spouse and show them how to forgive. We can give scriptural wisdom about finances and parenting. However, if we overlook their relationship with God we have done them a great disservice. I always start with the Spiritual book in the SALT Discipleship series. If a person is not right with God they will have no power to deal with the other 6 areas of life. In the second chapter the subject of salvation is addressed.
You can begin the chapter by asking a simple question, “Could you tell me how you came to know the Lord?” If they tell you how and when they came to Christ that is wonderful. If there is some confusion or hesitancy then turn to page 25. Ask this question, “As you look at this diagram you will see the person in Adam and in Christ.” Then ask, “Are you in Adam, in Christ, or somewhere in the middle?” It is a trick question. If they say, “Somewhere in the middle.” then you know they are not sure of their salvation. I have had people say, “I want to be In Christ” or “I am trying to be a Christian.” Those statements reveal a genuine desire to know Christ. You can ask, “Would you like to know for sure that you are In Christ?” If they respond positively then use pages 20-24 to explain God’s plan and provision for salvation. You can invite them to pray the prayer at the bottom of page 24.
May God give you the courage to address this most vital issue. You will have people praising God forever because of your faithfulness!
Check out this new spin on the encouraging and well-known narrative Footprints in the Sand…
Imagine you and the Lord Jesus are walking down the road together. For much of the way, the Lord’s footprints go along steadily, consistently, rarely varying the pace.
But your footprints are a disorganized stream of zigzags, starts, stops, turnarounds, circles, departures, and returns.
For much of the way, it seems to go like this, but gradually your footprints come more in line with the Lord’s, soon paralleling His consistently.
You and Jesus are walking as true friends!
This seems perfect, but then an interesting thing happens: Your footprints that once etched the sand next to Jesus’ are now walking precisely in His steps.
Inside His larger footprints are your smaller ones – you and Jesus are becoming one.
This goes on for many miles, but gradually you notice another change. The footprints inside the large footprints seem to grow larger.
Eventually they disappear altogether. There is only one set of footprints. They have become one.
This goes on for a long time, but suddenly the second set of footprints is back. This time it seems even worse! Zigzags all over the place – stops, starts, gashes in the sand – a variable mess of prints.
You are amazed and shocked.
Your dream ends.
Now you pray:
‘Lord, I understand the first scene, with zigzags and fits. I was a new Christian; I was just learning. But You walked on through the storm and helped me learn to walk with You.’
‘That is correct.’
‘And when the smaller footprints were inside of Yours, I was actually learning to walk in Your steps, following You very closely.’
’Very good… You have understood everything so far.’
‘When the smaller footprints grew and filled in Yours, I suppose that I was becoming like You in every way.’
‘So, Lord, was there a regression or something? The footprints separated, and this time it was worse than at first.’
There is a pause as the Lord answers, with a smile in His voice -
‘You didn’t know? It was then that we danced!‘
To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven: ….
a time to weep, a time to laugh, a time to mourn, and a time to dance.
Ecclesiastes 3:1, 4
The 23rd Psalm is a favorite of many Christians and is a favorite portion of the Bible children memorize in their Sunday school class. You can find it hanging on hospital walls, framed in a bookstore, or even put to music. Needless to say, it is one of the most popular Psalms written.
Why did David write this Psalm? Did he want us to see God as a Shepherd or to learn how to trust Him? God is Yahweh – an unchanging, faithful and consistent God.
Lloyd Douglas, author of The Robe tells this story. “As I was attending college, I lived in a boarding house. A retired, wheelchair-bound music professor resided on the first floor. Each morning I would stick my head in the door of the teacher’s apartment and ask the same question, ‘Well, what’s the good news?’ The old man would pick up his tuning fork, tap it on the side of the wheelchair, and say, ‘That’s middle C! It was middle C yesterday; it will be middle C tomorrow; and will be middle C a thousand years from now. The tenor upstairs sings flat. The piano across the hall is out of tune, but, my friend, that is middle C.’”
Everything around us is constantly changing. Relationships change, health changes, political leadership changes, finances change, weather changes, and even our mood can change from moment to moment. But God, who created all things, has never changed. He is the same yesterday, today and forever! He is our middle C!!!
God – our Shepherd – doesn’t check the weather; he makes it. He doesn’t defy gravity; he created it. He isn’t affected by health; he has no body. John 4:24 says, “God is spirit.” Since he has no body, he has no limitations. He is everywhere, knows everything, and provides for us in every way. That is why David said in the first verse of Psalm 23, “The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want.”
Take some time with your Shepherd and listen to what He wants to say to you. Give Him the freedom to show you who He is and all he has done for you.
Consider this -
We human beings are the only part of God’s entire creation that have the unique opportunity to voluntarily love God, sight unseen, and to live life on this earth fully trusting Him.
Ponder this –
All of the heavenly angels, principalities and rulers love God because they live constantly in His presence, in the full revelation of His beauty, His power, His majesty, His splendor, etc.
But, there will never be another time in history, once the Church is raptured and Jesus returns to establish His millennial kingdom, that human beings will have the unique opportunity to express their truest love for God by living a life of faith. On this earth, we see only a limited view of God and what He chooses to reveal at this time.
There is something so pure, authentic, and honoring about a love that trusts and believes without seeing or knowing the whole picture…
Imagine this –
You meet a person from a different country and fall totally in love, while knowing only a little about their entire life. You know only what they chose to reveal to you, but it doesn’t matter because you love them completely and trust them. Then, after marrying, you discover that he or she is the richest, most powerful person in the world!
This is true about our God … When we finally see Him face to face, in all His heavenly splendor, glory, and majesty, we’ll discover that the One we chose to love is the greatest of all! We will spend eternity captivated by what we see, worshipping and loving God with our entire being because He is so much more than we ever imagined!
Picture this -
Most of us have only a short 60, 70 or 80 years here on this earth to express our deepest and purest love for God while we see Him only dimly as in a mirror. How can we fulfill the greatest commandment to love Him with all of our heart, soul and mind?
He cries out to us –
I know your heart.
I know what matters to you.
I know your dreams and desires.
Come to Me!
I have a surprise for you.
I know what’s best for you.
I have the richest blessings for you.
Envision this -
When I stand before the Lord (one day soon) and together we reflect on my earthly life – when I had the opportunity to
believe His promises,
trust His goodness,
rely on His provision,
obey His commandments,
follow His leading,
feed His sheep -
did I fully embrace His love (passionately hold on to and believe)?
did I completely abandon myself to Him (surrender control of my life)?
did I accomplish His purposes (carry out or complete something successfully)?
I want to look back at this unique, limited time in all of eternity that I had a chance to live by faith alone – to completely trust God’s ways and to fully believe His Word – and know that I loved God well!
A Gift for God -
God knows our hearts and He knows what it takes to believe and trust Him without seeing the full revelation of His glory. It’s a mystery, but He is so honored and pleased when we operate with even the tiniest of faith.
To wholeheartedly live by faith not sight (believing and trusting the One who is passionately in love with us) is an amazing gift of love we can give to God today and for the rest of our lives!
It is a gift He will cherish for eternity…
“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son,
that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.”
“This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God,
and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.” John 17:3
Isaiah 6:1 “In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord, high and exalted,
seated on a throne.”
Overall King Uzziah was a good king. He died. That’s a bad day.
But what happened to the prophet? He saw the Lord!
This verse could have read, “In the year that King Uzziah died I grieved his death.”
When bad things happen what do we see – the bad event and its ramifications or do we “See the Lord?”
When these things happen what do we see?
Loss of a job – we see devastation.
Divorce – we see disgrace.
Sickness – we see disruption of daily life.
Youth rebellion – we see disaster ahead.
Death of a loved one – we see depression.
Can God use the serious issues and events in our life to reveal Himself to us?
Yes! But we get stuck on the issue and totally miss the Lord.
Could we ask this question, “Lord, I don’t like this but what do you want me to see about you through this?”
Loss of job – we see He provides Philippians 4:19.
Divorce – we see He comforts – 2 Corinthians 1:4
Sickness – we see He is present Psalm 23
Youth rebellion – we see He guides – Proverbs 3:5-6
Death of a loved one – we see He is peace. John 14:27.
Let’s be like Isaiah and allow the difficult events of our life cause us to look up and see the Lord.
When I was a child and going through school, I took several different classes requiring memory work. As I got older, I was involved in theatre and memorizing lines started out hard, but became easier the more I did it. I became a Christian as an adult and one of the first things I was taught was the importance of memorizing God’s Word. As I started my journey through the Bible, I began to experience how the Scriptures I memorized affected my thinking, which in turn affected my choices. As a parent I wanted to pass this same idea of memorizing Scripture down to the next generation.
God gives us as parents the responsibility to teach our children who He is and how much He loves us. He also wants us to teach them how to make wise choices in life. Memorizing God’s Word keeps truth in the forefront of our mind which helps us make choices according to God’s ways. Proverbs 22:6 gives us this command.
“Teach your children to choose the right path, and when they are older, they will remain upon it.”
So I began the discipleship process with my own children by reading them the Bible, memorizing Scripture, and praying for their lives to be transformed by the power of His Spirit. I am blessed to have two adult children who love the Lord and know they are loved by Him. They have both seen some real bumps in the road along the way, but being grounded in God’s Word has caused them to trust in Him and grow deeper in relationship with Him.
Recently I have been using a curriculum called Kids SALT in my Sunday school class. Each week I am using the repetition of Scripture and a diagram to teach the children a Biblical principle that will help them make wise choices in life. This past week a 1st grader came to me after just 6 days of practice and shared a long portion of Scripture from memory. Not only did he say it perfectly, but more importantly knew what it meant. Ephesians 5:16-17 has been a life long verse for me that I memorized years ago. It says,
“Make the most of every opportunity for doing good in these evil days. Don’t act thoughtlessly, but try to understand what the Lord wants you to do.”
My challenge to you is to read God’s Word, memorize it and listen to what He is saying to you. Your life will be filled with His joy and peace when you live this way!