June 2013

Becoming Best Friends

Do you have a best girl friend or two, or perhaps a sister who you can call a best friend? You probably do. And can you think of the many things you do for and with a best friend? Your list is probably like mine—you pray for her, phone her, send her cards and notes in the mail, celebrate her birthday, get together for lunch, visit often, e-mail her, pick up little things for her that you know she would like. On and on the list goes.

Well, this is the kind of love God wants us (if we’re married) to display to our husband—a love that is deeper and more devoted than what we would demonstrate to a best girl friend. You see, loving your husband is first on God’s list of assignments for us in Titus 2:3-5. Indeed, loving our husband is a high calling! So, let’s see how many ways we can do the work of love and set about to answer God’s calling for us to cultivate this character quality as Christian wives.

It may sound strange with all of our recent emphasis on the importance of your role as a parent. But, an important choice that every wife needs to make in order to become best friends with your husband is to choose to love your husband before or ahead of your children (or your best friend!).

This is not a choice to love your husband and not love your children. No, this is a setting of priorities. God’s next high calling in Titus 2 is to love our children. But please note the order of God’s callings in verse 4—before He calls us to love our children, He calls us to love our husband.

In most cases, marriage and establish­ing a relationship with a husband precedes bearing children and beginning a family. And, as I once heard a wise person explain, “You live the first 20 years of your life as a single, the second 20 years as a married woman raising children, and the third 20 years with your husband.”

Let’s see now… that’s 20 years alone, 20 years raising children, and 40-plus years as a wife. Surely the mathematics show us vividly the investment we must make in our marriage day after day. So be careful—and be wise. When the children arrive— accompanied by all the busyness and activity that chil­dren generate—make sure loving your husband doesn’t get crowded out. Your friendship and love relationship with your husband must be faithfully and dili­gently nurtured, even in the midst of the duties and chaos of raising your children.

So, make the choice to love your husband. That’s right—decide to love him. That might not sound so romantic. But, a choice to love your husband is most definitely a choice that will benefit both him and you. And it’s a choice that honors the Lord and is a testimony to His glory.

Elizabeth Barrett Browning penned these now-famous words to her dear husband Robert: “How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.” When you choose an attitude of thankfulness determinedly express love to your husband, you will certainly find that the lovey-dovey feelings beyond those of friendship will follow.

A Verse to Recall:

She does him good and not evil all the days of her life (Proverbs 31:12).

Find further study of God’s priorities for women in my book, A Woman’s High Calling.

The Gift that Keeps on Giving

One of the greatest gifts you can give your hus­band is that of lifting his name and his needs before the throne of God. Prayer for your husband releases the ener­gies of God, for prayer is asking God to do what you can­not do.

Start a prayer book or set aside a prayer page for your hus­band. Then commit yourself to praying daily for him. What should you pray for? His job. His boss. His challenges. His character. His role as a provider, husband, father, stepfather, or grandfather. His leadership of the family. His management of the family finances. His health. His friendships. His purity. His relationships with both sets of parents. His involvement at church. His spiritual growth and giftedness.

Here is a list of powerful verses from a prayer card by B.J. Reinhard to pray for your husband’s…

Peace – Lord, cast out his fears. May your peace rule in his heart. (1 John 4:18, Col. 3:15)

Strength – Uphold him physically, emotionally, and spiritually. (Psalm 68:19, Col. 1:17)

Intimacy with God – Lord, assure my husband that he can pour out his heart to You. (Ps 62:8, 139:1-4, Jer. 9:24, John 14:21)

Fatherhood – Lord, be my husband’s wisdom in the challenges we face as parents. Teach him how to relate to and love our children the way You love us. (1 Cor 1:30, Ps 103:8-14, Prov. 3:12)

Influence – Enable him to set a good example for and love those under his influence (Isaiah 40:11, Acts 20:28, Titus 2:7-8)

Significance – Lord, show him how valuable he is to You. May he know that his true worth comes from You. (Matthew 6:26, Zeph. 3:17)

Passion for Life – Father, show my husband his true purpose for living, especially in areas that seem mundane. May Paul’s claim “To live is Christ,” always be true for my husband. (John 4:13-14, 6:35, Phil. 1:21)

Make your own list. Then set aside a page for each con­cern and category in your prayer book or prayer journal… and start praying!

A Prayer to Pray:

God, let me start today, and each and every day, with small prayers that leads to big blessings for my husband. Remind me that you are at work in his life as well as mine. When we need a boost or attitude-adjustment, Your ever present truth and promises bring relief and renewal.

If consistent and powerful prayer is missing from your life, visit the Free Resources section of our website for the simple guide, “Prayer for Living after God’s Own Heart.” You will find deeper study in my book, The Heart of A Woman Who Prays.

From Jim’s heart for dads… A Father’s Example

Practically every man has heard of Mickey Mantle, one of the greatest base-ball players who ever lived. I certainly heard about him while growing up since he was born and raised in a small town just north of my hometown in Oklahoma. On one occasion I actually saw him perusing the local sporting goods store during the off-season. Of course, I recognized him right away. I was in such awe of him that, rather than ask for his autograph, I casually walked by and purposely touched his hunting jacket from behind. I vowed I would never wash that hand again!

From the time Mickey Mantle was a little boy of five, his father surrounded him with a life of baseball. Mickey ate, drank, and slept baseball. By his own account, his achievements as a baseball player were partly attributed to the environment created by his father. In later life, Mickey credited his father’s constant emphasis on baseball as the strongest contribution to his Hall-of-Fame success.

Friend, whether it’s baseball or faith, I think you get the picture that what you emphasize and exercise in your own life will leave an indelible impression on your young ones. From my pastoral and personal experience, I see that many of us Christian fathers today have two main problems. First, as fathers we are not walking with great care. We are not careful enough about how we act around our children. Our kids sometimes do not see a significant difference between our actions and how those in the world act. This is why Paul says, “Be careful how you walk… redeeming the time” (Ephesians 5:15, 16).

And, second, we as believing dads are not “redeeming the time” when it comes to our children. We are so concerned (and rightly so) about providing for the physical needs of our children that we don’t always give proper attention to their spiritual, mental, and emotional needs.

The most important way you can be a good example as a father is to accept Jesus Christ as your personal savior and confess Him before others, including your family, and live a dedicated life for Christ. That’s a life worth imitating!

Your job is to make sure you establish an environment where your Christian beliefs and character are on constant display before your children. Our children must never for a moment think that our faith isn’t the most important thing in our life. They must never for a moment think that the Christian faith is only a “Sunday faith.” Instead, they must hear us constantly talking about Jesus. They must consistently see the vibrancy of our love for Jesus Christ as it is lived our in every aspect of our lives.

A Prayer to Pray:

Lord, help me to pay attention to my activities today and to consider the importance of the small decisions that I make that affect my family’s environment. May each decision be a reflection of my one big choice to follow You and lead my family into a growing relationship with You.

Find more challenges and insights into your godly role in A Husband After God’s Own Heart by Jim George.

Alphabet of Blessings

Father’s Day gives sets aside the time for us and our children to thank dads for the many ways they meet our needs. But, do we show that appreciation more than one time a year? Do we take time to count the many blessings we enjoy because of our husband and, show him blessings in return?

I’ve saved and used this wonderful list from Partnership magazine for years. I hope that the alphabet of blessings that follows gives you some great ideas for Father’s Day and throughout the year:

Amorous words are not outdated. Write your hus­band a poem, sing him a song, buy him a roman­tic card. Honor his efforts as a father with your words.

Bake his favorite dessert and let him enjoy the leftovers all for himself.

Compliment him – on his looks, his dedication to the Lord, his way with your children.

Drive the next time the two of you go somewhere, and let him relax and enjoy the scenery.

Enumerate his fine qualities, using this modified line of Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s: “Why do I love thee? Let me count the whys.” Tape the list to his mirror.

Fish, golf, hunt, swim with him – or at least read up on his hobby and give him time to enjoy it.

Give him the gift of time: do a job usually his.

Hide encouraging scripture verses or personal notes in his coat pocket, his wallet, his sock drawer, or on the pulpit.

Indulge him with the luxury of breakfast in bed – served on a decorated tray.

Join him for a day at his work – in his office, class­room, parishioner visitation.

Kiss him goodbye when he leaves for work. It’s easy to get out of the habit in the rush of life.

Learn more about him. Do you know his favorite childhood memory? The best Christmas present he ever received? His favorite music? The time he was the most afraid?

Meet him for lunch. Use coupons if you’re on a tight budget. Or pack a sack lunch to share.

New photos of the two of you can make the ordi­nary a day to remember. So get out the camera and frame the results.

Old, cherished wedding pictures can help you remember when your love was new.

Prepare his favorite meal.

Quips and cartoons can lighten his day. Cut them out and give them to him on a day he needs a lift.

Read a book together. Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “It is a tie between men to have read the same book.”

Smile when you see him.

Thank him for the routine things you tend to expect him to do.

Uphold him in prayer.

Valentines aren’t just for February. Give him a little gift – a pen, a magazine he likes, a favorite candy bar – along with a love note.

Wash and wax his car.

Xercise to keep yourself looking good.

Yes, let’s do it! Make that your answer when he suggests things to do – a walk, watching a game, taking a day trip, whatever.

Zzzzz. Let him take a long in disturbed nap while you entertain the children elsewhere.

A Prayer to Pray:

God, let me be a great treasure to my husband, family, and You. Keep my ways godly, and help me in small and big ways honor my husband’s service to our family.

Find more encouragement for a woman’s soul in my book, A Woman’s High Calling.

From Jim’s heart for dads…The Heart is the Place to Start

My testi­mony is that of the “prodigal son” who came home to his father (Luke 15:11-31). As a young boy I went to church, but when I left for college, the things of God were of little interest to me. Not until age 30 did I recognize that I was spiritually malnourished… and horribly so!

Gentlemen, start your engines…

When I returned “home” spiritually I had a wife and two small children, two-and-a-half years old and one-and-a-­half. We were off and racing through life before I knew what had happened. I was now to be the spiritual head of my family and I didn’t have a clue as to where to start. I thank God that I at least realized I needed to get my family to a good Bible-teaching church where we all began to be fed and get direction for our lives. Church is a great place to ignite your spiritual engine!

Ready, set…

Once I arrived at the church, I started looking and praying for someone who could give me some help, some guid­ance, anything that would assist me in being a godly husband and a loving, caring father to my girls. And the Lord answered my prayers. I found a church elder who was able to give me some biblical direction. He imparted to me some valuable principles from God’s Word and from his own life experiences. These insights, along with those from godly parenting books Elizabeth and I studied together, were a constant source of input for the next 25 years of my own life as a parent. Seeking wise counsel can point you in the right direction!

Go! 

Here is the goal: Behavior is heart driven. There­fore, correction, discipline and training—all parenting—must be addressed to the heart. The fundamental task of parenting is shepherding the hearts of your children. Author Tedd Tripp says it best:

…parenting is concerned with shepherding the heart. You must learn to work back from the behavior you see to the heart, exposing heart issues for your children. In short, you must learn to engage them, not just reprove them. Help them see the ways that they are trying to slake [satisfy] their soul’s thirst with that which cannot satisfy. You must help your kids gain a clear focus on the cross of Christ.

Your children are given to you by God, and their hearts are your stewardship from God. He expects you to do your part in raising them to know and love Him.  And He has given you all you need in Him to accomplish his purposes. The heart is the best place to start!

A Verse to Recall:

Love the Lord God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up (Deuteronomy 6:5-7).

For more encouragement pick up a copy of A Man After God’s Own Heart by Jim George.

A Bountiful Bouquet – Part 3 of 3

Similar to the bountiful bouquet we’ve been discussing, your life is also like a flower that unfolds with the passing of time. The Lord promises each of us that we are His “handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do” (Ephesians 2:10). We are beautifully and wonderfully made to walk in His ways and in His strength. This is meant to sound exciting to us rather than oppressive and exhausting.

Have you ever thought of your life as being like a battery that needs to be recharged on a regular basis? Likewise, when you plan in time for your­self to grow spiritually, to develop your spiritual gifts, to define and refine your talents, and to grow as a person, you are recharging and unfolding. You are preparing yourself to bless others. If you want to have an influence on others, plan time for yourself.

First, be sure you are scheduling time to allow you to “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 3:18). There is nothing that will sustain you, grow you, and prepare you for life’s activities than life-giving time with the Lord.

Also, look to your physical and emotional life as well. Are you getting the proper amount of sleep and healthy nutrients? Are you endeavoring to exercise a little each day? Do you need to pick up the phone and call to enroll in a special class or a Bible study or to make a doctor’s or haircut appointment? Do you need to purchase a book you’ve been wanting to read? Into the daily schedule these worthy endeavors go.

As you can see from this week’s devotionals, scheduling is a necessity in our busy and demanding world. Pray over your day of potential. And pray through it. And pray at the end of it. How desperately we need God’s clear direction and assistance our each and every day!

A Verse to Recall:

“A man’s heart plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps” (Proverbs 16:9).

Learn more about the beauty, simplicity, and power of a life lived according to God’s principles in Small Changes for a Better Life by Elizabeth George.

A Bountiful Bouquet – Part 2 of 3

Why have a schedule? First there’s your purpose—God’s purpose. I love the impassioned words of the apostle Paul. When he spoke of God, he added these words—”to whom I belong and whom I serve” (Acts 27:23). To whom do you belong, and who is it you are serving today? A schedule helps you live out your purpose of serving God and of ful­filling His purpose for your life… and your day.

Next there’s your manner. A schedule helps to bring more discipline into your life, which better enables you to walk in the Spirit and produce spiritual fruit. When there’s no schedule and no plan, stress, frustration, and even rage can characterize the gift of 1,440 sparkling minutes God gives to you each day.

Here is a step by step guide to creating a schedule that will help you manage your days:

Step 1—Ask this question first thing each and every day: What is “the one thing,” the most important thing, the cen­tral focus, the most brilliant “flower” of my day? Once answered, create and build your day around it. For me, the definitive bloom is God. My spiritual life is the one thing that makes all the difference in my day. Without setting aside time to cultivate and nurture the all-encompassing priority of your relationship with God, there will be no bold life lived for God.

Step 2—Next ask, Who are the people in my life? When it comes to your schedule, schedule family first… then other people. How can you serve them and tend to them? What will you do for them? And when will you do it? Write your plans down and place them into specific time slots on your daily schedule.

Step 3—Take into account the future. Look ahead and plan for the tasks that you know are up-coming and the preparation that they require. Also, prepare for the unexpected. It seems contrary to say that, but we likely all know by now to expect the unexpected. I confess that here’s where I fail regularly. But, I’ve learned to leave margin in my days, weeks, and months to make adjustments to the Plan B’s that God allows in our lives.

None of this is possible in our culture unless we learn to eliminate. We must ask: What can be eliminated from my life at this time that is not a priority? As Solomon observed in Ecclesiastes 3:1-8, life has its seasons. The point is, priorities change. So today, in whatever your situation and season, eliminate those things that don’t contribute positively and constructively to God’s plan and priorities.

Our job is to be ready, prepared, and even eagerly awaiting each day with our Lord, with our loved ones, and with those He bring into our lives. Don’t miss the opportunity (and yes, peace) that a few moment of scheduling can bring into your life!

A Prayer to Pray:

God, what needs to go? What priority am I neglecting? Guide me as I live this day and love those who are walking aside me.

For additional practical help, read Small Changes for a Better Life by Elizabeth George.

A Bountiful Bouquet – Part 1 of 3

As summer ramps up with its abundance of activities and demands, I think back to some instruction I once receive from my friend, Julie. Julie created bold and beautiful floral arrangements, and was teaching me how to make my own. Before I learned Julie’s insights into creating an arrange­ment of beauty, I used to purchase a cluster of flowers at the grocery store, rip off the cellophane wrapper, and stick it into a vase exactly as it came out of the paper.

As Julie explained to me regarding the masterpieces she creates, some flowers are more brilliant in color, more demanding on the eye, and more important to the visual effect of the bouquet. These major blossoms must be cut tall, stand upright, and be inserted into the arrangement first. Other flowers are softer in color and come next, surrounding the more exciting blos­soms. Still others are filler, while some are used for their fra­grance. Each bloom, Julie patiently explained, has a place and a purpose.

This is similar to managing the different priorities in our lives. Our daily schedules need to be treated in the same way and with the same carefulness required in creating a breathtaking floral arrangement. You can have a “bunch” of things you need to do that you stick and stuff into God’s gift of 24 hours. Or you can lay out and consider all the different tasks you need to take care of, prepare for, and finish, and then thoughtfully and oh-so-painstakingly prioritize and place them in the perfect position in your schedule.

Don’t you think this second way is the better way? As a woman on a mission to live out God’s plan for you, you must seriously and prayerfully consider the value of each task and the best time for it… including the value of each minute and the best way to use it. Making this one change in your approach to your day and your duties will better your life.

A Prayer to Pray:

Jesus, let me be steadfast in the pursuit of Your priorities. Help me to pause at the beginning of each day to best prepare for what awaits me. Help me honor this life You’ve given to me and enjoy the blessing of family and faith.

For more encouragement for managing your priorities, read Elizabeth George’s book,  Life Management for Busy Women.

© Copyright 2017
Elizabeth & Jim George


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