2 Kings

I started reading 2 Kings yesterday and it occurred to me that God asks what do you want in the Old Testament and in the New Testament. Was it because of where I was reading that I felt as if God asked me what did I want today? Whatever the reason, I did ponder that question.

If the God of the universe is asking me what I want as He asked Solomon and as Jesus asked the two blind men calling him from the side of the road in Matthew 20: 30-34, then it’s worth serious consideration.

What would you ask God for if you thought He was asking, “What do you want?”

Would you ask for healing for the short amount of time we have on this earth compared to all of eternity? Would you ask for a mate to marry and then possibly have children with that mate if you’re in child-bearing years? Would you ask for a better job? Would you ask for wisdom or riches? Would you ask for a skill to better the world for all of mankind? Would you ask for help in a faltering relationship? How about asking for social justice?

When Elijah neared the end of his life, his protégé Elisha stayed close by him even when Elijah tried to get him to leave. Finally, before the chariot from heaven came to collect Elijah, he asked his apprentice what he wanted from him. He wanted a double portion of Elijah’s spirit. After the request was granted, stories of God’s power in the hands of Elisha got me thinking of the wondrous nature of God.

God removed poison from the pot of stew, He restored the life of a young boy, He allowed Elisha to call down a curse on a large group of young men that mocked Elisha and two mother bears came and attacked 42 of the boys.

I’ve heard that story before and it never occurred to me that that number of young men was a sizable group. I wouldn’t want to meet up with a gang that size and them looking for trouble.

Also, in the Jewish culture, respect for parents was part of their law. Lev 20:9, (CEV):  If you curse your father or mother, you will be put to death, and it will be your own fault.

Honoring elders was a part of their culture, so for them to mock Elisha showed a lack of morals. In addition, if they knew he was a prophet, then the offense would have been worse.

I love reading the Bible, yet in the book of 1 Kings and 2 Kings, it shows the kings of Israel and sometimes Judah, turning from God to false gods and what a mess that results from that choice. The Moabites worshiped Molech and they threw their children into the fire as a human sacrifice. God abhors that and the penalty for that in Leviticus 20:2 is stoning of the offenders.

I know God sometimes asks us what we want, but how often do we ask God what He wants? I don’t know about you, but I don’t ask often enough.

May God bless you.

Marriage for Life

Portrait of a husband and wife with small baby child - stock photo         photo from shutterstock

My husband and I went to a meeting for area pastors today and statistics about marriages failing came up. 50% of marriages break up, the man said.

An older man gasped, but I’d done research for a marriage book a few years ago. I wasn’t surprised. I put the book aside, and now I’m seeking God about my writing because I set aside a finished novel because it lacked intrigue.

As I sought God today I thought He directed me to blog on marriage.

The main speaker for our function ate lunch with us. He asked how long my husband and I have been married. “Forty-one years.”

I also felt as if God led me to Proverbs 21 before the idea came to blog. There’s a lot of advice in that Proverb and verse 9 in the New King James Version says it is “Better to dwell in a corner of a housetop, Than in a house shared with a contentious woman.”

Verse 23 says, “Whoever guards his mouth and tongue Keeps his soul from troubles.”

So although the verses are not coupled together, I’m well aware that it’s harder for me to be contentious when I’m keeping quiet.

Proverbs 17:1 says, “Better is a dry morsel with quietness, Than a house full of feasting with strife.”

I’ve learned the hard way that words can steal the joy and drain ambition out of my husband with a well-phrased question or a reminder of a particular failed attempt. How I wished for a time machine to go back and re-live the moment with a positive response or a neutral comment.

Now, if you were to ask my husband, he would say I’ve supported him more often than discouraged him because he’s told me so. I’m just aware that there are times when I’ve been sorry my words slid by my self-control and then we both suffered the consequences.

Proverbs 14:1 (ESV): The wise woman builds her house, but the foolish tears it down with her own hands.

So this discourse can be summed up by listing some strong helps for marriage:

  • Following God because He loves you both and He gives great advice.
  • Communicate in healthy ways when you’re not exhausted and after emotions have cooled down.
  • Respect each other. If there’s not a lot of room for respect, ask God to show you how He sees your mate.

No one is perfect – no one. If my husband were abusive, I would love him from a distance with my children safe from harm and removed from a negative influence that they may imitate when they get older.

May God bless you!

To Divorce or not to Divorce?

There are times in my quiet time with God that I think He is saying “Feed My sheep.”

Then I ponder what He might want me to say. Lately, I’ve been running into people that are married and struggling, married and about ready to bail out of the marriage, and/or divorced and dealing with the downside of their choice – custody issues and money issues and the hurting children. I thank God that there are many married and doing well in their relationship!

My daughter recommended a Christian blog called ElisabethKlein.com. It’s for women in crisis relationships. According to my daughter, Elisabeth never advises anyone when they ask, “Should I divorce?”

The thing with couples, there’s always two sides to the story. Each may sound perfectly true from their own perspective. The real picture is only clear to God. So that sounds to me like Elisabeth Klein has wisdom in not telling people to divorce or to stay together.

When I was younger, my husband and I had very close friends that began to have marital problems. We started to take sides. I said, “We’d better not get involved here or we’ll damage our relationship.”

My husband had been thinking along the same lines. So we supported our friends the best that we could and we left “he said, she said,” out of our conversations.

I chose to write about marriage, so I did a lot of research. In “The Unexpected Legacy of Divorce: A 25 Year Landmark Study,” a book by
Judith S. Wallerstein, Julia M. Lewis, and Sandra Blakeslee says children suffer greatly from divorce, especially if they change homes every week. It’s hard for them to make friends and to make plans with the friends.

That’s only one downside. Yet, if their home is extremely volatile and they may be forever damaged being there, what can a mom or dad do? It’s no easy question.

I feel fortunate that I married a man that respects me and whom I respect. We never call each other names, even when we’re mad. We talk things out so we understand the other persons’ viewpoint. We offer grace when the other person isn’t getting it. We dated just about every week along the years, and still do, almost forty years into our marriage. We allow each other the freedom to explore hobbies and interests that the other is not interested in, when we can afford the money to do so.

My husband and I recently got online to take the Meyers-Briggs personality test and I told my youngest daughter that I’d bet we were totally opposite. Yep. So we thrive amidst the obvious tensions that can and do arise. We talk things out; we try to comprehend the other person’s viewpoint. I’ve gritted my teeth and held on for dear life a time or two when I really wanted to leave. Once, in an extended struggle, I called his best friends and told them I needed their help. They got in his face and told him a few things I never could have. He needed prodding to get outside his shell.

He stuck with me when some of my bad habits quietly eroded his well-being. I never knew that until a few years ago. I’m more of a confront-er; he’s quiet and ponders things deeply before he speaks. He told another friend that he was advising – on how to save his marriage – that he decided he loved me more than my inability to keep the laundry caught up and to keep the clutter away – my lifelong struggle. How important was the guy’s marriage to him? Could he overlook some things as well?

Maybe it’s because I keep trying to change, with God’s help, and he’s changed because of God’s influence in his life, that the longer we’re married, and the more we walk in the other person’s shoes, so to speak, the better it gets. I tuned in to Focus On the Family radio program often in my life and purchased helpful resources. Their website’s value seems priceless to me.

God hates divorce. Jesus speaks strongly about divorce in Mark 10:2-12. My oldest daughter thinks it’s because God knows the damage it causes. Many years ago, my in-laws divorced, so I researched divorce. One author said divorce caused grief worse than a death because the wounds keep getting re-opened when you deal with the other person. Plus, there’s no rejection in a death.

If you are thinking of divorce, think long and hard about it, I urge. Proverbs 11:14 (ASV) states, “Where no wise guidance is, the people falleth; But in the multitude of counsellors there is safety.”

Above all, pray. God may ask you to be patient; God may ask you to work on your own failings and ignore the other persons faults; God may say to separate because of the lack of safety for the spouse and/or the children. Another Proverb warns against acting hastily. Proverbs 25:8a (ASV): “Go not forth hastily to strive, Lest thou know not what to do in the end thereof…”

I’m writing this because people I care about have divorced or are considering divorce and it breaks my heart, along with hoping to make an impact on others. Strong marriages are great for society and as Christians, marriage is a representation of Christ’s love for the church, as portrayed in Ephesians 5:21-33.
These verses speak on the roles of husbands and wives and their responsibilities toward each other. May God be glorified in our lives.