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Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Lord, Give Me Patience

Now may the God of patience and comfort grant you to be like-minded toward one another, according to Christ Jesus.” Romans 15:5 NKJV

With one eye on the clock and the other on my toddler, I watched her tiny index finger and thumb select one cheerio and eat it. After looking around the room and chewing, she would pick up another one and eat it. She had no concept of time or the understanding that I needed to get us out the door to begin our day. As she chewed, she would push on my leg with her foot as I sat by her highchair. It was a morning ritual and nothing was going to hurry her while she enjoyed each individual cheerio.

She didn’t eat much, but what she did eat, she savored. With that little foot still resting on my leg I watched the clock and coaxed her to hurry. To speed things up I tried giving her my breakfast but she was not interested. Her little stomach was happy with her small meal that seemed to satisfy her.

This sweet, but at the time stressful, memory often sweeps across my mind when I’m talking to a new Christian. At times I’ll have someone come to me for advice or to share a concern and I try to hurry things along. I want to slide them a plate full of dos and don’ts along with Scripture as well as give them an example of someone in the Bible when they just aren’t ready for all of that information yet. They need for me to give them a little at a time.

Patience. That’s when I call out to God for more patience. Sometimes when we are in the ministry we have a tendency to forget that some people who come across our paths didn’t grow up attending church and aren’t familiar with Scripture or many of the people that are written about in the Bible. They also aren’t in a hurry. What they bring to us is important to them, and they need to know that we care and want to help.

When talking to a new Christian we need to remember:
  •        Not to assume they know the Bible as well as we do.
  •         To listen to what they are saying and don’t hurry them along.
  •      That at first, a little is better than a lot. Keep things simple.
  •          Not to use a lot of “churchy” words.
  • ·       To pray, pray, pray . . . not just for patience, but also for wisdom.

As pastors’ wives, women will sometimes bring things to us that they don’t want to discuss with our husbands so we need to take our roles seriously. Next time that dear one wants to talk to you, and if you know she is a new Christian, just prepare yourself to settle in beside her and feed her a little at a time. And don’t watch the clock. God is using you to care for this child of His just like He used me to care for my toddler—with patience and love!

About the Author:

The hats I wear are many but with each one brings an opportunity to share heart, humor, and hope. My day job is with a ministry in Greenville, SC but my other hours I fill with writing, speaking, teaching Bible Studies, leading our women's ministry, designing landscape/gardens, rowing at Greenville Indoor Rowing and answering to Beth, mama, and grandmommy. Serving alongside my husband, who is a pastor, for over twenty years, I can say without a doubt that as difficult as it is at times, it's also a great honor. They say that with age comes wisdom, I'm not sure about the wisdom part, but I do know that with age comes the realization that no matter what I go through God is always there with His overwhelming love and grace. 

Connect With Beth:

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Delight Your Soul Today


Alyssa balled up the empty grocery bags and stuffed them through the swinging cover of the red wastebasket. She plopped into the captain’s chair at the head of her kitchen table. The plaid cushion absorbed the assault. Head tipped back, a groan escaped.

She pulled the paperback Bible to her and opened the concordance. Her friend’s words led her search until she found the reference, Psalm 37:4. Delight yourself in the LORD; and He will give you the desires of your heart.* Her back rounded into the chair rungs. “Could I be wrong?” she whispered as she reviewed their conversation.

Gayle had challenged her to rethink her relationship with God as more than a barter system—if you want what you want, be happy in Jesus. Gayle pointed out that David’s opening words said not to fret and offered instructions on how to avoid worry and envy. He directed God’s people to delight, fill up with great pleasure and joy, in our God if we want to conquer anxiety.

Alyssa wondered how to pull off delight on demand. How was she supposed to be cheery, never mind full of delight, when situational and emotional storm fronts drifted across her path?

Gayle suggested she wrap herself in worship, go to the LORD in humble reverence. She said when she united her heart with Him, His presence brought gladness, contentment, peace, and fulfillment every time. Then she shared two types of worship experiences she practiced to maintain the joy of the LORD that was her strength.**

Worship with Others

The corporate worship setting is a glorious opportunity to come before God with our brothers and sisters. To join our hearts and minds, spirits and voices in reverence and exultation for who He is and all He’s done. We grow together as a community through the proclamation of His Word and fellowship around His table.

But she said sometimes, a steady diet of only group interactions, though they’re rich and full, can weaken our individual connection with God. Even a banquet can become unhealthy, if we indulge at every meal. Right?

Worship by Ourselves

Whether with a Bible and cup of tea in a cozy chair or hiking boots and a backpack on a mountain trail, the times we meet with God on our own feed us in a different sense. We’re able to concentrate on who our Father is and how He sees us personally. His individual attention and our intimate responses blossom in this unique interaction.  

Gayle explained it was tempting to substitute alone time for meeting together. And yet, the Father warns us about that habit.*** The trick is to find the balance. For most of us, the corporate experience is set in a once a week routine. It’s the one-on-one delighting we miss—extended, focused, intentional worship … an oversight easy to remedy.

Have you soaked in the delight of the LORD lately?
If not, purpose and plan to do so. He’s missing you.

**Nehemiah 8:10
***Hebrews 10:25

About the Author: 
Sandra Allen Lovelace is a continuing missionary, a pastor’s wife emeritus, and a homeschool pioneer. She’s an award-winning speaker and author, and a sought-after mentor. Sandra’s a member of Advanced Writers and Speakers Association, and her current manuscript is Wallflower Women: How to Start Living the Life God Designed You For. She enjoys hiking with a camera in her hand, best done on an international adventure. Sandra and her husband Curt are transitioning to South Carolina.

Get to know Sandra at her website, http://sandraallenlovelace.com/
You can also connect with Sandra on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

God for Us and our Marriages

A year ago this month (February), we stood in a marriage retreat with our church.

Often, families in ministry don’t sit together in services. Even more often (and not just for people in ministry), husbands and wives don’t sit next to each other because…well, you know…kids. Often, families in ministry have responsibilities before, during, and/or after services, so it’s easy to get distracted or be pulled away just as we draw our focus onto worship.

Let’s be really honest here: An intense love for the Lord doesn’t mean corporate worship time is automatically easy.
So with no children at this retreat and no responsibilities, I enjoyed the chance to stand with my husband in worship. We held hands while we sang. (I felt kinda cute…)

The worship pastor had chosen a new song for the occasion: God With Us, by Jesus Culture, and it took me a few repetitions before I could really listen to the words I was singing.

As we returned to the chorus for perhaps the third time, my mind was drawn toward our hands linked between us, and I began to think about the repeated “us” in the chorus. It could apply to my husband and myself just as much as to the greater church community.

Consider this:

God with us
In the beautiful and the difficult places, He is present. Yes, there’s this:

If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast.  -Psalm 139:8-10

But what about the near-by places? Have you thought about these as well?
·         In the loan office at the bank
·         In the bathroom, puking
·         In the delivery room
·         In the doctor’s office where we again hear, “Not this month”
·         In bed (yes, there too)
·         On that trans-continental Skype call
·         At the quiet little restaurant where we celebrate our anniversary
·         Through our worst fights

And in a thousand other places, God never fails (Lamentations 3:22), never quits on us, never takes away His grace. This applies not only to me as His child, but to us as an example of His love (Ephesians 5:25-31).

God for us
God is for our marriages! When it feels like everything in our culture is trying to tear us apart or convince us to quit, God is still rooting for beautiful, long-term, covenant marriages.
Nothing can come against
Our unity makes us stronger than one standing alone. We pull each other up, support each other, and bear burdens together. We cannot be crushed, cannot be swept away. When one is weak, the other is strong. When one cries, the other shouts (Ecclesiastes 4:12, Galatians 6:2).

No one can stand between us

What God has joined together, let no one separate.  -Matthew 19:6 NIV

As long as we hold tight to Him and each other, no earthly entity can separate us, and certainly no created person. God Himself has made us one.

Trying reading Romans 8:38-39 with your name and your husband’s in place of “us.”

For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons neither the present nor the future, or any powers, neither height or depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate [husband’s name] and me from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.  -Romans 8:38-39 NIV (amended)

If neither of us is separated from the love of God, then neither are we separated from each other. Such strength in His love!

Our marriage retreat weekend was filled with encouragement, fun, and Spirit-led learning, but my biggest take-away revolved around this new song. Our families are the body of Christ just as the larger church community is His body. The New Testament truths about church (e.g. John 17:23, Ephesians 4:1-3, even 1 Corinthians 12, just to name a few) are also true of your family and mine.

Question for Reflection: What Biblical truth about the church would you like to “own” for your marriage?

Has a worship song (or some other seemingly unrelated thing) specifically blessed your marriage? We would love to hear about it in the comments below!


Carole Sparks is a Bible study writer who sees God’s hand in the mundane and the magnificent. (That’s her Twitter bio.) After twenty-one years, she still finds nothing mundane about holding hands with her husband and something magnificent in the way they now have the same ideas without even trying. You can also catch up with her on Facebook or her blog.

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