Are you frustrated in ministry? Do you sometimes think, My ministry is insignificant compared to hers? Yep, me too. Been there, done that. If you’re feeling frustrated that your life and/or ministry isn’t as “big” as “hers,” this post is for you. More
Some men don’t care if their home is clean or messy. Not my hubby. He grew up with a mom who could challenge anyone to the Heavyweight Cleaning Champion of the World title. Trevor is used to a spotless home (and I really do mean spotless). Mess stresses him out. But his high expectations for a clean house stress me out. Sounds like a killer combination, huh? Yes, I’ve shot lots of heated words his way over this volatile subject.
The Clean Freak I Married
You know from my first book how for thirty plus years I ached for a pair of strong arms to hold me close. In God’s extravagant kindness, He granted that gift. However, in all those years of pining, I never gave a thought to what might accompany such a gift.
Turns out, marriage involves more than being adored by a man. With a husband come kids, and that husband and those kids must live in a house, and that house must be cleaned, and those hubby and those kids must be fed and clothed with freshly laundered clothes . . . again and again and again.
I was not prepared for that kind of service. In one childish-sounding journal entry I spewed, “Cleaning is stupid. As soon as you finish, it’s messy again. It’s futile; It’s not creative; I hate it.”
Truth be told, I thought myself above such dull tasks as dusting and mopping and window washing. After serving in women’s ministry for well over a decade, these sorts of tasks felt like the demotion of the century.
My Cleaning Conundrum
Now, lest you think him a chauvinist pig, let me clear the record. Trevor does pitch in and help me clean. If it weren’t for him, our fridge, oven, and floors would never get a deep cleaning. But we’ve worked out a deal of sorts.
See, he’s handy, and I’m not. We have been—and still are—in the middle of a home renovation. So anytime there is something I can do, I try to do it myself rather than asking him for help, in order to free him up for the tasks that only he can accomplish.
In Search of Answers on Why a Clean Home Matters
There was simply no way around it. I needed to clean, and I didn’t want to hate every minute of it for the rest of my life. I desperately needed some big questions answered. Is there any redeeming value to cleaning? In light of eternity, why does cleaning matter?
By the grace of God, I finally stumbled across the answer in Courtney Reissig’s book, Glory in the Ordinary: Why Your Work in the Home Matters to God.
First, she showed me how housework is connected to the two greatest commandments of loving God and loving neighbor. My closest neighbors are my husband and kids, and work in the house is for them. This was an “a-ha!” for me:
“Laundry is for people to wear. Food is for people to be nourished. Clean floors are for people to crawl around on. Dishes are for people to eat off. The people and the physical work of the home are not in competition. They are two sides of the same coin. . . . The physical work of the home exists for the physical people in the home.”
I was wrecked (in the best kind of way).
Another paradigm shift I experienced from reading her book is that work is not about my personal fulfillment; it is for the good of my neighbor. How have I missed that for all these years?! I wondered. Courtney quoted Martin Luther more than once in this regard:
“If you find yourself in a work by which you accomplish something good for God, or the holy, or yourself, but not for your neighbor alone, then you should know that that work is not a good work.”
Keep the Whole Law with a Clean Home
Ever since I read these truths, things have been changing in my house and my heart. As long as I keep the big picture in view, I don’t resent the poop stains I have to magically remove from my son’s shorts. I don’t mutter about the smooshed grapes I have to clean off the floor. I don’t cry over the onions I have to chop for supper (well, actually I do, but for a different reason).
Life is too short not to love my closest neighbors with a clean house, clean clothes, and food on the table. Do I do it perfectly? Not even close. But I keep working hard at it, because in this small, ordinary way, I can actually fulfill the whole law (Galatians 5:14).
Should we move?
A few weeks before, Trevor’s sister had told him about an amazing opportunity with her company. Trevor has lived in Syracuse his whole life; I remember him telling me when we were dating that he had no plans of ever moving. More
I often hear from aspiring writers asking for tips on how to make their dream of becoming a published author come true. Here are three steps I recommend for those whose eyes are set on a writing career. More
Dear College Grad,
Congrats! You’ve worked so hard, and now commencement is over. I was cheering big as you walked across the stage, and I’m praying for you as you make this transition out of college. I remember well the conflicting emotions: mourning all the goodbyes, anticipating all the adventures just ahead.
Speaking of adventures just ahead . . . let’s talk about that, because if your experience is anything like mine, reality won’t quite meet your expectations. More
A soon-to-be-graduate asked: “I really want a career that not only glorifies God but also gives me financial security. Am I wrong?”
I think the answer depends on two things:
1) her definition of financial security, and
2) her motivation for wanting financial security.
By “financially secure,” does she mean that she will have enough to cover her expenses and bless others in need? Because that’s wise. We know from God’s Word:
It is important to work hard and earn your own living so you won’t be a burden to others.
“We hear that some among you walk in idleness, not busy at work, but busybodies. Now such persons we command and encourage in the Lord Jesus Christ to do their work quietly and to earn their own living” (2 Thess. 3:11–12).
We are to honor God with our money.
“Honor the LORD with your wealth and with the firstfruits of all your produce; then your barns will be filled with plenty, and your vats will be bursting with wine” (Prov. 3:9–10, emphasis added).
It is good to have enough money to share with others.
“Let the thief no longer steal, but rather let him labor, doing honest work with his own hands, so that he may have something to share with anyone in need” (Eph. 4:28, emphasis added).
We should be prepared to provide for our close relatives if necessary. (FYI, the context of the following verse is caring for widows in your family.)
“If anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for members of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever” (1 Tim. 5:8).
So if by “financially secure,” this girl means she will have enough to cover her expenses and bless others in need, that’s wonderful!
But I don’t know her heart. She could be asking, “Is it wrong to want enough money so I can have a closet full of expensive clothes and drive a fancy convertible into the garage of my luxury home?”
Is she wanting to never have any financial needs that she might have to trust God to meet? If this is the case, God’s Word warns:
Riches are anything but secure; they are uncertain.
“As for the rich in this present age, charge them not to be haughty, nor to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly provides us with everything to enjoy” (1 Tim. 6:17).
Riches are deceitful and can choke out God’s Word.
“They . . . hear the word, but the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches and the desires for other things enter in and choke the word, and it proves unfruitful” (Mark 4:18–19).
If you trust in riches, it’ll trip you up.
“Whoever trusts in his riches will fall, but the righteous will flourish like a green leaf” (Prov. 11:28, emphasis added).
Trusting in God, who cannot be moved, is so much more secure than trusting in riches that can be stolen or decrease in value.
There are temptations that come with both poverty and riches.
“Give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with the food that is needful for me, lest I be full and deny you and say, “Who is the LORD?” or lest I be poor and steal and profane the name of my God” (Prov. 30:8–9).
What a great prayer to pray! Will you pray it with me?
“Give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with the food that is needful for me.”
So what does this mean as you search for a career? Ask yourself:
Would this amount of money allow me . . .
- To honor God first?
- Not to be a burden to others?
- The freedom to share with those in need?
If so, it’s enough money.
How about you? How much money do you hope to make in your future career, and what’s your motivation?
Is It Wrong to Want to Make Lots of Money? was originally posted on LiesYoungWomenBelieve.com.
Do you struggle to know God’s will for your career? If so, here are a few thoughts for you as you face this overwhelming decision. More
This woman hosted me when I spoke at a school in Brazil last month. She prays. Oh how she prays! And the things God does through her prayers . . . here’s just a tiny peek at how He’s on the move as a result of her persistent asking and believing. Teach me to pray and trust like that, Lord!
In 2012, after completing the True Woman 101 study with three other women, Cindy Rast—a missionary in Brazil—just knew Brazilian women needed to hear this message. For months she thought about how to spread it to women in Brazil, but she always came back to, What can I do?
Still, she continued to lead group after group of women through True Woman 101—American women, Brazilian women; older women, younger women; divorced women, married women, single women—and she saw the same results over and over. Women were starving for this truth.
This message is in all of Latin America except for Brazil! “God, what do You want? I don’t have anything to offer.”
“We’ve let the world define us for so long, but when you look at the Word and see your Creator’s design, there’s something so affirming and beautiful,” she told me. “It’s not just someone’s nice idea. It’s what the Creator is saying! There’s the power.”
One day in December 2013, as Cindy was sitting down to lunch, she turned on Revive Our Hearts and heard Laura Gonzalez de Chavez sharing how God made her dream of starting Revive Our Hearts in Spanish a reality. As Cindy listened she thought, This message is in all of Latin America except for Brazil! She got on her knees, weeping, and cried out, “God, what do You want? I don’t have anything to offer.”
But then God began to bring to mind her connections . . . at TransWorld Radio, at the audio-visual company where her father-in-law serves as president, and more. So with trembling fingers, Cindy picked up the phone and left a message at Revive Our Hearts, sharing her passion. They’re going to think I’m a crazy lady! she thought.
When she hung up with Revive Our Hearts, she contacted Shedd Publishing and told them how much True Woman 101 had transformed her life. They don’t usually publish Bible studies, so they had no idea how consumers would respond. But after thinking about it for several months, in April 2014 they agreed to publish the workbook in Portuguese.
Cindy then went to work raising money to also publish the True Woman conference video messages into Portuguese.
“The Lord has done everything,” Cindy told me. “You wouldn’t know it, but I’m a high-functioning introvert. He’s impressed on me, ‘You be obedient, and I’ll do the work.’ It’s like this gear that has been greased so well and moves without any difficulty!”
Cindy believes the Lord will raise up a team of Brazilian women who are passionate about spreading this message. “I’m just the little match that’s striking the flame,” she told me.
Burn on, Lord, until every woman in Brazil has a chance to hear Your beautiful design for her life!
How God Is Using One Woman to Reach Brazil was originally posted on TrueWoman.com.
Do you think of yourself as a strong or a weak woman?
Personally, I’ve counted myself a strong one.
I was the girl who ran around flexing her biceps, challenging boys to arm-wrestling matches, and re-arranging my heavy bedroom furniture all by myself.
I was the young woman who had a scheduled activity on her calendar every night of the week. I was the woman who wrote a book on the side while continuing to work full-time. I was the woman who always, always pushed through.
But then last month I had an Isaiah 40:30 fall,
“Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted.”
My doctor said I was strong to have made it as long as I did.
I wasn’t so sure.
God, do You think of me as weak or strong? And how should I think of myself?
Taking Cues from a “Strong” Man and a “Weak” Man
I went to God’s Word for answers, starting with the strongest man I could think of: Samson. You know the beast—tearing a roaring lion to pieces with his bare hands, striking down 1,000 enemies with a donkey’s jawbone, pushing down a house killing 3,000 party-goers.
Here’s the surprising pattern I found. Just before Samson displays great strength, this is what happens just before:
“The Spirit of the LORD rushed upon him” (Judg. 14:6).
“The Spirit of the LORD rushed upon him” (Judg. 14:19).
“The Spirit of the LORD rushed upon him” (Judg. 15:14).
It was always God’s strength Samson displayed; never his own. God is the strong One. Even Samson was weak apart from God.
Then I re-read the familiar story of David and Goliath. Anyone observing the battle scene that day would’ve put their money on the intimidating war champion Goliath, not the young, inexperienced David. Goliath had complete confidence in his strength; David had complete confidence in his living God. And at the end of the short fight, David was the unlikely victor.
I Am Weak, but He Is Strong
Funny how many times I’ve gotten it mixed up. I’ve considered myself strong and believed God to be weak. Nothing could be further from the truth:
“Have you not known? Have you not heard?
The Lord is the everlasting God,
the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He does not faint or grow weary;
his understanding is unsearchable” (Isa. 40:28, emphasis added).
God’s strength will never, ever give out.
Me on the other hand, I’m weak. My strength is finite.
What freedom that realization brings.
Strength comes when we first own up to our own weakness. (That’s ’cause we don’t rely on God when we consider ourselves strong.) But in our weakness, as we depend on our strong God, His strength flows through to us. Catch Paul’s personal testimony of this:
“We were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself. Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death. But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead. He delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us. On him we have set our hope that he will deliver us again” (2 Cor. 1:8–10).
And then there’s my favorite passage from this past month,
“He gives power to the faint,
and to him who has no might he increases strength.
Even youths shall faint and be weary,
and young men shall fall exhausted;
but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength;
they shall mount up with wings like eagles;
they shall run and not be weary;
they shall walk and not faint” (Isa. 40:29–31).
How is this strength-for-weakness exchange possible?
Strong Made Weak; Weak Made Strong
It’s all because the Strong One was made weak so we, the weak, could be made strong.
Check out this baffling verse:
“The foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men” (1 Cor. 1:25, emphasis added).
The weakness of God? But God isn’t weak!
Study the context, and you’ll see this verse refers to the cross. The world judges Jesus weak and pathetic, hanging there exposed and bleeding. “Weakness,” they spit.
But to us who are being saved, we gaze at the cross and celebrate. “Strength!” we shout.
God refuses to save Himself so He might save us. The Strong One is made weak so we, the weak, can be made strong.
What weakness can you boast about today? How might God want to showcase His strength through your particular weakness?
Don’t get it mixed up like I did.
I am weak, but He is strong.
“The Myth of My Strength” was originally posted on TrueWoman.com.