Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Valentine’s: Catch the Foxes



Were you expecting pictures of beautiful women when you saw the title of this post? The foxes in this case are from an obscure little verse in the steamy love poetry of Song of Songs in the Bible. If you haven’t already, I suggest you read it with your husband or wife and then go get a little steamy yourselves. 
 
“Is God okay with that?” you ask. Well, He’s the One who created us for intimacy, and He knows how it all works. In fact, He knows how marriage works best, and we are wise when we follow His instructions. But that’s not what I want to write about today.

Two verses from Song of Songs (or Song of Solomon depending on your Bible translation) have always struck me as profound. The husband says to his wife:

My dove in the clefts of the rock, in the hiding places on the mountainside, show me your face, let me hear your voice; for your voice is sweet, and your face is lovely.  Catch for us the foxes, the little foxes that ruin the vineyards, our vineyards that are in bloom” (Song of Songs 2:14-15).

I love the nickname he has for her—Dove—the symbol of peace and purity. In this scene, she’s hiding from her Lover. I get the feeling she is hurt and he’s trying to reassure her of his love, and drawing her out. His words say, “You’re safe with me.”Then he gives her an instruction that at first seems out of place—Catch the foxes. What does this have to do with their relationship?


In the literal sense: If you have a vineyard in bloom and a bunch of foxes go scampering through it knocking off the fragile buds, it will affect your harvest. In relationships it’s much the same. There are times of vulnerability in each marriage, and areas of vulnerability in each partner. If we are rough or inconsiderate with each other we can damage the fruitfulness of the marriage. 

The Lover in this poem is telling his wife to do the same thing we need to do for each other in our marriages. Watch out for and catch the “little foxes” before they damage your relationship. 

Here are a few, which if not dealt with while they are small, can cause much heartache:

  • Carelessly spoken or critical words
  • Letting days pass without meaningful touch, like long hugs or kisses
  • When busyness keeps you from date night and a daily check in
  • Talking without eye contact
  • Conversations that go no deeper than fact and opinion
  • Putting our children ahead of each other
  • Giving more focused attention to phones and computers than each other
  • Withholding words of affection and praise
  • Disrespecting one another
  • Forgetting to laugh and delight in your spouse
  • Failing to pray together every day

You probably thought of a few others as you read my list. Not everyone's list will be the same.

Kelly and I are currently in a season that requires a lot of time apart. We’re making great efforts to pray together morning and night, and send each other texts throughout the day and evening in order to stay connected. We share funny stories, dreams and ideas, and how God is speaking to us from His Word and through daily encounters. All this contributes to a sense of intimacy while we’re apart.   

We keep reminding each other “it’s only for a season.” 

But when we are together, we’re both so exhausted and busy catching up we forget to talk about all the stuff we've been saving up. So we’re finding new times to talk when we’re at our best—like lunch dates when he’s in town instead of evenings out, and making sure we set aside our phones and really listen. 

Are there little foxes scampering through your vineyard that you need to catch and banish from your marriage? 

Where is your husband or wife feeling vulnerable right now? How can you actively protect and nourish them?

This Valentine’s and every day, love is not just flowers and a card (and of course chocolate!); love is investing in our partner for a lifetime harvest of mutual delight and satisfaction.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

#Valentines #howtoloveforlife #itsthelittlethings #songofsongs #foxesvines #protectyourpartner

Friday, January 25, 2019

How Much Will This Cost?

I tried on the coat and loved it, but when I glanced at the price tag I put it back on the rack. It was too much. But then Kelly saw me in it and loved it too. "I could get it for you for Christmas?" he offered. I knew we could afford it. Even so, it went against my frugal upbringing and desire to be a good steward of our resources. I'm a thrift store shopper and sale rack girl. I re-use plastic bags and create cards and wrapping paper out of old calendars.

When we travel to Mexico, I'm glad to know one important phrase, "Cuanto cuesta este? (How much does this cost?) I've seen signs in exclusive stores that say, "If you have to ask the price, you can't afford it." So I don't shop there. This is something that applies to all spheres of life.


How often we buy into: habits, relationships, jobs, lifestyles, and dreams without ever asking, "How much will this cost me?"

Sometimes in desperation—for a change in circumstances—we say we’ll pay “whatever it costs.” But that’s a dangerous declaration to make before you determine what you’re getting into. 

Large crowds followed Jesus because they liked to hear Him preach, plus He gave out free food and healed their sick. But He told them to count the cost. Becoming His disciple is not something to take lightly, because being a Jesus follower has a price tag. We have to be ready, when there’s a question of loyalty, to choose Him over work, possessions, even our family. 

God doesn’t want us to become Christians based on an emotional appeal or fear of hell. He wants us to check the price tag and come to Him with eyes wide open, ready to commit to Him to the end, no matter what. 

Jesus said, “Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Won’t you first sit down and estimate the cost to see if you have enough money to complete it? For if you lay the foundation and are not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule you, saying, ‘This person began to build and wasn’t able to finish.’

 “Or suppose a king is about to go to war against another king. Won’t he first sit down and consider whether he is able with ten thousand men to oppose the one coming against him with twenty thousand? If he is not able, he will send a delegation while the other is still a long way off and will ask for terms of peace. In the same way, those of you who do not give up everything you have cannot be my disciples” (Luke 14:28-33).

On the other hand, Jesus also challenges us to look at what we will miss if we’re not willing to choose Him. When we compare the hardships and sacrifices believers make here on earth to an eternity without God or anything related to Him—forgiveness, freedom, love, friendship, beauty, peace, hope, music and so much more—it’s the deal of a lifetime! 

Literally.

Plus, Jesus isn’t like a life insurance policy that only pays after death, the benefits begin now.

I can’t imagine going through pain, loss, grief, sickness, confusion, or any other heartache without the comforting presence of the Holy Spirit to help and guide me. I also have a family of Christians all over the world whose prayers and encouragement give me strength and joy. I know my life has meaning and purpose; I know I am loved; I can have peace even when I don’t understand why things happen the way they do.

If you’re questioning whether or not you want to choose Jesus, I encourage you to evaluate the pros and cons before you make your choice. Your eternal destiny and the costs involved are worth careful consideration. Just don’t wait too long to choose.

#countthecost #wanttobeaChristian #nomatterwhatthecost #Luke14 #thinkbeforeyoubuy

Friday, January 18, 2019

Revisiting Praying Like Pooh Bear: What is Your Prayer Character?

Today I was reminded of one of my favorite posts, from 2009. And if you don't mind, I would like to present it to you again today as a good read. Hope you enjoy this "test" to see what your prayer character is. Follow the link below to read this post.

https://bethvice.blogspot.com/2009/08/praying-like-pooh-bear-in-catholic.html

Monday, December 31, 2018

The Perfect App for the New Year


Even if you got everything on your Christmas list, you may still feel the ache for something…more. Maybe you wish you could have some peace and quiet in this noisy world or escape the noise in your head. Or some wisdom—for that job change, relationship, or parenting dilemma. The cozy blanket Grandma made is wonderful, but it doesn’t comfort emotions that jab like barbed wire.

Let’s face it, when everyone goes home and we pack away the toys and electronic gadgets, clothes and gift cards; when we take down the Christmas tree and decorations, it can be a bit of a letdown. When the presents and tinsel melt away, the house feels bare and January looms bleak and cold.

But it doesn’t have to be that way.  There’s an app to fill the emptiness. It’s something you can get yourself—guilt free—for New Year’s. It doesn’t wear out, it’s appropriate for all ages, and there’s no assembly required. It never goes out of style and doesn’t need batteries. It’s an app you can use every day—even if you don’t have a smart phone or I-pad.

The Bible, the printed Word of God, will meet your deepest needs and start the New Year right. It answers every dilemma. It teaches through story, humor, and pithy sayings, and builds faith in our God who still heals, rescues, and gives us victory over temptation and heartache. More than information or entertainment, this app is meant to be applied to our hearts and minds so God’s transforming power can change us from the inside out. 

We may do most of our reading in private, but the Bible is a social app. It prompts us to encourage others, improve our relationships, examine our motives with new perspective, and sprinkles into conversation like savory spices. 

Last Thursday Becky and I talked about King Jehoshaphat and his unwise alliance with King Ahab. We agreed it’s easy to make stupid decisions, thinking we’re helping someone, when in reality they’re using us. Like King J, we put ourselves in needless danger and it can tragically affect others.

On Friday, Trish asked me what I made of a puzzling verse from Jeremiah. So we looked it up in several translations to try and decipher the meaning. I ended up doing some digging and we had fun learning. And yesterday our small group discussion on Revelation fifteen challenged and energized me to keep fighting the good fight.

The Word of God puts oxygen in our veins! I encourage you to use it every day this year. I still like my printed Bibles best, but electronic ones have amazing features that open new worlds of understanding. They not only offer multiples translations, but provide study helps, videos, side articles, related devotionals, and commentary. 

So, whether you’re reading in a coffee shop, looking up a verse to share with a friend, want to listen while you’re on the road, or decide to download something for your kids, here are some great apps to consider. Whatever form you choose—printed or electronic—God’s Word will draw you closer to the One who knows and loves you best in the coming year.

Bible apps:
You Version Bible: https://www.bible.com/app
Bible is—read, listen, see: http://www.bible.is/
Olive Tree Bible—resources for study and reading plans: https://www.olivetree.com/bible-study-apps/?source=topnav
Logos—reading plans, study, multiple translations, devotions: https://www.logos.com/apps
For Kids:
Superbook—scripture, games, Q&A, introduces people of the Bible, videos and more: http://us-en.superbook.cbn.com/app
You Version for kids: https://www.bible.com/kids

#bestappever #Biblereading #didn’tgetforChristmas #NewYear #applytheBible #perfectgiftforeveryone

Saturday, December 22, 2018

Open the Gift


I’d taken great care to choose just the right Valentine’s card. I strove over my message, hoping to touch her heart. Things had been rough between us the previous year. I longed to comfort her, but she continually made choices that brought us both pain. I poured my heart out—telling her how I loved her and always would. When I found the card unopened, months later, it was like a physical blow.

There is no pain like trying to love someone who continually pushes you away.

Christmas is almost here. It is a day to celebrate God’s Valentine to us—He came to earth in human flesh, to be with us and show us His tremendous love—yet so many leave His gift unopened. Christmas songs and movies no longer mention Jesus. They say Christmas is all about Santa, presents, family, and fuzzy feel good traditions. Employees now hesitate (are even forbidden) to wish customers a Merry Christmas, wishing us Happy Holidays or Seasons Greetings instead. 

Nativity scenes are scarce.

Can you feel God’s pain in this passage?

“I revealed myself to those who did not ask for me;
    I was found by those who did not seek me.
To a nation that did not call on my name, I said, ‘Here am I, here am I.’
 All day long I have held out my hands to an obstinate people,
who walk in ways not good, pursuing their own imaginations…
  who say, ‘Keep away; don’t come near me.’”
Isa. 65:1-2, 5

God spoke those words to the nation of Israel; now our so called “Christian nation” is pushing Him away as well. My heart grieves.

But why would any of us choose not to open God’s gift? Have any of these reasons kept you, or distracted you, from accepting Jesus?

Fear—This is too good to be true. What will I have to give up if I open this?
Anger—God let my brother/sister, friend, husband/wife die; He didn’t save my marriage; He didn’t heal me when I asked Him to. I don’t want His gift!
Rebellion—I don’t need God; I can fix my own problems. I don’t want anyone telling me what to do. I refuse to open this!
Ignorance—I didn’t know this gift was for me; I thought it was for someone else. How do I open it?
Busyness—I don’t have time for God. I'm too busy to read the Bible or pray or go to church.

Yet the angel announced to the shepherds God’s gift was “good news” of “great joy for all the people.” They said He was “a Savior…Messiah, the Lord.” And when a whole company of angels joined in (probably because they couldn’t stand it anymore) they said this gift would bring “peace on earth.” A phrase we blithely throw around at Christmas. However we miss peace is for “those on whom his favor rests” (Luke 2:10, 11, 14).

We can’t celebrate the good news and experience great joy if we reject the invitation—or go to the manger, but leave the gift behind. The shepherds had to quit what they were doing in order to see Jesus, and they left rejoicing, forever changed.

In the same way, peace on earth cannot rest on those who won’t stand still. We must seek peace and pursue it—peace with God before peace with men.


I love Christmas and presents, both giving and receiving. I love the music and decorations and movies and programs. But most of all, I love the Savior we celebrate. I don’t want to miss opening His gift of love and salvation; I am astounded by His peace that defies explanation. I hope wherever you are and whatever you’re doing, you will pause and open God’s gift to you, and celebrate this Christmas with unbridled JOY.

Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift! 2 Cor. 9:15

Merry Christmas!


#Christmas #openyourpresent #reasonforseason #Jesusgift #Luke2