Wednesday, September 9, 2009

real men... godly men

As many of you know, yesterday I took a vacation day and relaxed. Since my husband is traveling on business this week, I decided to spend part of my evening bumming around the local bookstore near my home. I selected two or three books, and proceeded with my usual routine by heading over to the nearby café for a cup of coffee. After ordering my beverage, I began to scope out the biggest, deepest chair around, but none were available. So instead, I ended up selecting a small table in the corner. There, I sat with my yummy drink and began to peruse my selections.

While enjoying this quiet time alone, I noticed that a few men had come into the café and began pushing several of the nearby tables together. As time progressed, more and more men arrived and joined in the gathering. With every new debut, the established group that was already seated would welcome the new person by name in a unified chorus... "Ed-waaard!".... "Joe-seeeph!"..... "Matt-theeeew!".... an so on. It seemed like this macho sport of two syllabled name singing was a regular activity for these guys. While their numbers grew, their need for more tables and chairs also grew. Soon, there were about 15 men huddled around 4-5 tables. Their ages ranged from young singles to old retirees. However, despite their vast age differences, these men were clearly happy to see one another and be together. While waiting for everyone to show up, they talked sports, women, sports, music, sports, technology, sports, cars, sports, work, sport and.. hmmm, what else.... oh yes, SPORTS! (What is it with men and sports?)

As I sat back and half read/half listened to these cheerful fellows, I realized this was no ordinary group of men. These men openly loved the Lord and were meeting for their weekly Bible Study together. Soon, their conversations changed to topics such as service, evangelism, church, family, faith and Jesus. How wonderful! Don't you just love godly men!? What a blessing that these simple blue jeans and t-shirt wearing "dudes" were actually taking time out mid-week to just hang out, check in with each other and chat about the Lord and their lives. Considering the lechery, greed, vulgarity and overall wickedness out there, it was truly refreshing to see a group of real men meeting openly and comfortably in a public setting to talk and support one another toward living a holy life.

Of course, once I realized they were their to discuss the things of the Lord, I couldn't help but listen in on their discussion. Suddenly, I felt like a special agent... listening in on behalf of all women out there. What secrets would I learn? What mysteries awaited? Interestingly enough, the topic they threw on the table could have been one of DW's topics. Here is the question they discussed... "What is one thing that you have been putting before God in your life?" In short, their impromptu answers broke down into four categories: (1) A powerful desire to have a family... this was from the singles in the group; (2) To be the best at work and to be successful; (3) Lust... this was a big, BIG issue and they discussed it for some time; and lastly, (4) Those who were married said that they had ongoing challenges putting their wives before God.

The gentleman in charge of the group encouraged each person to consider that the Lord must be the first love of their life. They resolved together in prayer to bring their matters before God. Then, they read Psalm 139:23 & 24... "Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting."

Lastly, their facilitator discussed how they should approach God when issues arise. He wanted them to consider when they cry out to the Lord, do they ask, "Why God?" or "How God?" His point was that they should make an effort to surrender more of the "whys" over to God. Rather, they should be more concerned in asking God "how" to proceed. He noted that when you ask "why" to the Lord, you are blaming Him or doubting His intentions. When you ask "how" to God, you are requesting guidance and instruction from your Teacher. I couldn't agree more.

Finally, they ended by talking about how every day is a new day to "live for what is up there rather than what is down here." (Sounds similiar to DW, doesn't it? WOO HOO! This is the day!!!)

So, why am I sharing this with you, ladies? I have to admit, the encounter of being a "fly on the wall" to such a meeting made me revisit how I could better support the men in my own life. How could I encourage them to further seek God and live a pleasing life for Him? It made me wonder what more I could do as a wife, sister, friend... woman... to further respect and help these warriors of the faith while they strive to be leaders in a lost world filled with sinful distractions. For me, this was a terrific reminder and wake-up call. Especially as a wife, I realized that I must make sure that I am not so demanding of my husband that His focus turns into pleasing my interests over serving God. For those single, it made me understand that there are men equally longing for a wife and family but are waiting and praying for that special someone who loves the Lord with all their heart. Regarding modesty, I was reminded how difficult it is for men to take the high road and avoid sinning when everything around them is sexually suggestive and aggressively available. And with regard to leadership, I know that every man needs to feel like they are valuable and successful in their work. They need to lead. They need to fight the good fight.

Ladies, today I would like to ask each DW to consider the godly men in your lives. How can you love and respect them better? How can you lift them up? How can you help them become strong leaders? Rather than finding ways to tear down, complain, overpower and place selfish demands or blame on your husbands, co-workers, friends, brothers, etc.... how can you build up their confidence and pray for them? Today, I'd like to ask you to focus on the value of our godly men and think about how you can encourage them to be honorable and courageous in their walk. Praise God for such men.

To all the real men... the godly men out there... WE SUPPORT YOU! Thank you for continually striving to be the leaders God has called you to be!!!

Blessings!

~Victoria

rest

Yesterday, I was anxious and tired. I was irritable, uneasy and edgy. It was one of those days that I wasn't feeling 100% and I truly wanted to be isolated from the rest of the world... perhaps tucked away in a bookstore with a cup of tea or curled up in my bed with the shades all drawn. But alas, I had to work. I had meetings and obligations. My day was full and I had to produce. Nonetheless, I felt so raw to the idea of being in the presence of others that my skin actually felt like a sunburn. I had no sense of humor. I felt beaten down and weary. I simply was not at peace...

So, what do you do when you are weary, anxious and in need of a break? Where do you find peace... and is it acceptable to seek such peace?

Thankfully, Jesus gives us the answer in Mark 6:31-33. Christ told his busy disciples to stop what they were doing and, "Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest." So they went away by themselves in a boat to a solitary place.

Thank you, Lord!! How wonderful to have Jesus validating to us that it is OK to stop and smell the roses!!! Most women (myself included) are so busy burning the candle at both ends that they forget to seek Him for the freedom of relief and restoration. They put their needs last, justifying that the concept of loving others means turning themselves into a doormat to be stepped all over and trampled upon. This couldn't be farther from the truth. We are to seek Christ in these times and STOP! We are to be still and know Him as our God. It seems simple, but it can be so hard to do.

In Matthew 11:28, Jesus appeals to his disciples to, "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest." God expects us to take time to rest. To stop. To breathe in and out. To regroup. It is healthy and necessary for us... and it allows us to be more effective for Him.

I'm reminded of when Chuck and I fly together. At the beginning of every trip, the flight attendants are required to do their presentation as to what passengers should do in case of an emergency. I can almost recite it by heart, "In the event the cabin loses pressure, an oxygen mask will come down from the ceiling..." They always take care to instruct passengers who are traveling with a small child to first put the oxygen mask over their heads... then over their child's. Why? In the real world, not attending to your child first in a crisis seems cruel. But in this situation, if the parent does not secure their oxygen mask first, they could pass out while in the process of attending to their child. Such a decision could put both the parent and child's life in serious jeopardy.

The same concept to care for ourselves is true. In the midst of sharing the Gospel, Jesus pulled His disciples away to stop and breathe. By doing this, He teaches us that sometimes it is necessary, and acceptable, to vacate with Him to a quiet place with the intent to refresh our spirit. (Vacation = vacating!!!)

When we take time to pause and care for our needs, we are putting aside the worry and pride of "doing it all" and submitting our life, and the lives of those we love, over to God's providence. When we worship Him in our stillness, we are acknowledging that we cannot assume the weight of the world on our shoulders. Instead we are laying our cares on the altar and trusting Him to provide... believing that He is in control and will allow all things to work together according to His purpose and in His timing. We then return more capable, alert and ready to serve.

"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light." (Matthew 11:28-30)

Find rest, O my soul, in God alone; my hope comes from him. He alone is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will not be shaken. My salvation and my honor depend on God; he is my mighty rock, my refuge. Trust in him at all times, O people; pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge. (Psalms 62:5-8)


Today, I am slowing my pace and removing myself from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. Today, I am on vacation. I am taking to heart my Lord's welcoming call to, "Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest." Please don't misunderstand, ordinarily I am greatly blessed by my family and work and the opportunity to share and serve others. But my anxiousness yesterday was a symptom. It showed me that I need a break. Rather than ignore such a symptom, I choose to recognize that I need to stop and be in solitude with my Comforter... alone. I choose to allow my Healer to care for me. For I do not wish to be anxious or heavy burdened or edgy. I wish to be filled. I wish for peace. I wish for the fullness I can only find with my Savior. So, today, I am taking the day off to regroup, relax and worship. How wonderful.

Ladies, please do not allow anxiety to rob you of your spirit. When it becomes increasingly evident that you need to stop... STOP! Rest in the Lord. If you need a break, make arrangements to take one as quickly as possible. You are no use to anyone if you are not revived and at peace. Do not let yourself pass out from lack of oxygen because you are trying so hard to serve others. Take the necessary steps to breathe in solitude with the Prince of Peace. Jesus wants you to take care of yourself when you are in need of refreshment. Remember to take time out to be with your Holy Comforter. In Him, be calm... be still... be quiet... be.

Blessings!

Victoria

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