Thirsty for Honor

Several years ago my husband’s beloved college basketball coach, North Carolina’s legendary Dean Smith, passed away.  Next to his own father, David says Smith was the most significant man in his life. Even superstar Michael Jordan called Smith his “second father.” No wonder David felt compelled to capture his experience playing under Dean Smith in It’s How You Play the Game, his own version of the Dean Smith story.

When I first met my basketball player-turned-preacher husband, I was a University of Georgia girl and a die-hard football fan. Basketball, not so much.

But I loved David and I grew to love basketball.  Coach Smith sent me a handwritten note welcoming me to the “Carolina Family.”  He always remembered my alma mater and my college major.  He even knew our children by name.  Seriously. Who does that?

When Coach Smith died,  the overwhelming public reaction spoke to me of a deep yearning for role models.  For dads.  For men of honor.  I remember being inspired to hastily fire off an editorial honoring the good guys in our lives. (click here).

The reaction to my editorial  intrigued me.  A prominent defense attorney in town sent me a handwritten note sharing how his own father had been such an honorable man–and how deeply he missed him since his passing.  A federal judge and a bank president both weighed in on the subject of honor. Young moms wrote to tell me about their “amazing husbands” and vowed to be more intentional to honor them. Had I touched a nerve?

Maybe it’s because honor is gradually disappearing from our homes, our classrooms, and our culture in general. Families today are in trouble. Studies show that 70% of divorces are now initiated by women. Even the gender wars are taking their toll.

Honor was God’s idea in the first place—especially in marriage.  No wonder we’re thirsty for this sometimes forgotten virtue.  I wonder what would happen if we sparked a movement of honor in our homes, our communities, and our world?

 


The Lost Art of Honor

“I don’t enjoy going to lunch with my work friends anymore,”” my young friend confided over coffee. “The conversation always turns into husband bashing.” Her own marriage wasn’t perfect, she admitted. “I’m a very transparent person,” she smiled. “So I try to be real.  But I don’t want to dishonor my husband.  And I want my friends to know I truly love being married to him.”

As we talked, she came to the conclusion that it was okay for her be honest with her friends about some of her own marriage struggles.  She could share a few of the positive ways she and her husband have discovered to work through their issues. But she resolved to do this in a manner that would honor both Christ and her husband.

I loved my friend’s heart for her husband and for the Lord.  Knowing her as I do, she’ll be a winsome witness to her friends about what it means to have a godly marriage. And more importantly, what it means to follow Christ.

That conversation was just one of many I had with women of all ages and stages of life while writing a book on the subject of honor.*  I yearn to help wives reclaim the lost art of honoring their husbands.

 Perhaps it’s time to take a fresh look at this age-old virtue. We can start by honoring God. “Those who honor me, I will honor” (1 Samuel 2:30).  Then, let’s explore practical ways to honor our husbands.  Remember, the world is watching us.  And deep down, I believe they’re thirsty for honor—especially honor in marriage.

*adapted from Eight Great Ways to Honor Your Husband.


Strengthen Yourself in the Lord

God is near to the broken hearted.  He loves us when we’re weak.  But He wants to make us strong. It’s not hard to embrace the concept that God is close to us when we suffer. After all, we love our own children and hold them close when they’re in pain.

We may secretly wonder whether God wants to keep us weak so we’ll be more devoted to Him. Sadly, that’s like saying that as a mom, I would rather my children be sick and wounded so they’ll want to hang around me more. Of course not!  I want to help them return to strength so they can live life to the fullest.

But, I have to confess. I have experienced God’s greatest strength during times when I am broken. I would never have known Jesus as healer if I hadn’t gone through years of infertility and the subsequent healing that resulted in our three children. Nor could I have comprehended God’s mighty power if I hadn’t seen Him set me free from stubborn fears. And of course, I could never have grasped His saving grace if I hadn’t come face to face with my condition as a sinner. Perhaps you have your own stories.

Let’s take a few minutes to reflect upon following encounter in 1 Samuel 30. Upon returning from battle, David and his mighty men are horrified to find their village raided and burned, their wives and children taken captive by the violent Amalekites. Click here to read the entire account.

The verse tells us David and his men “wept aloud until they had no strength left to weep.” Can you imagine the sound? The despair? The men were so distressed they even talked of stoning David. What would you do under these circumstances? Where would you turn for strength?  For David, one simple sentence says it all:

“But David strengthened himself in the Lord his God” (1 Samuel 30:6).

After seeking the Lord, David receives this answer:  “Pursue, for you shall surely overtake and shall surely rescue.” Which is exactly what happened. David and his men defeated the Amalekites and returned with all their family members safe and sound, along with all that had been stolen. Their victory was riveting—and complete.

I’ll leave you with this simple question: How do you strengthen yourself in the Lord?  My prayer today is that we  become like Paul when he said, “When I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Corinthians 12:10).


Mom’s 3-Minute Rule

Don’t worry about anything. Instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need… Philippians 4:6

How many times on any given day are you tempted to lose your patience? If you’re like me, the answer is plenty. Next time a petty problem causes you to unravel, I challenge you to pause. Try to wait for three minutes before you allow yourself to become anxious. Time yourself if necessary, but stay calm. Just for three minutes. Then see what happens. I’m amazed at how many of life’s little whirlwinds clear up in three minutes! My kids used to call this “Mom’s three minute rule.”

It’s the minor irritations that quickly steal our joy. It’s the “little foxes,” marriage counselors will tell you, that nibble away at our marriages. And it’s the trifling annoyances that rob our daily calm.

What if we stood up to the enemy and said, “No! I will not surrender my peace of mind.” I may not be able to keep my cool forever, but surely I can wait for three minutes. Especially if I remember to turn the matter over to God through prayer.

“Cast all your anxieties on Him because He cares for you,” we’re reminded in 1 Peter 5:7. But casting your anxieties, I’ve learned, takes a bit of spiritual muscle.

Daily life gives me plenty of chances to practice. That incredibly long line at the register. The traffic light that takes forever to change when I am already late for that appointment. Lost keys. Or my irresistible urge to snap at my husband or kids. Could I wait just three minutes before I react? And breathe a quick prayer for God’s peace? So much the better.

Those we love are watching to see how we navigate life’s inevitable anxieties. I was reminded of this years ago when driving our youngest child across town to a birthday party. We were running late. Of course I hit every stop light. Then, just as things were looking up, I got stuck at a railroad crossing.  I was exasperated by this ridiculously long train. My impatience showed. “Hey mom,” quipped my son. “What happened to your three minute rule?” Yikes…I stopped. Took a deep breath and said, “OK, let’s time this train, (Mr. Smarty Pants).” And so we did. And you know what? The train took forever, or so it seemed. But just as the caboose whooshed by, the three minute mark passed on my dash board clock. Exactly. Three minutes.  To the second.

Next time you feel your blood boil, take a deep breath. Think. Pray. Respond, don’t react. And wait three minutes. Guard your heart…and your peace. And save all that energy for the really big battles in life.


Wine Not?

 

blog-series-awake-wine

A friend asked me the other day whether I ever drank alcohol. Interesting question for a pastor’s wife and one I’ve been asked before.

Back in the seventies I attended a large Southern university.  I was active in sorority and fraternity life.  I attended my share of parties and “tipped a few brews.”  In those days, I didn’t even believe in God. So I obviously didn’t look to Him for guidance about behaviors like drinking.

But near the end of college, I had a radical conversion to Christ while reading Mere Christianity, by C.S. Lewis, the famous Oxford scholar and former atheist himself. Everything changed.

These days, I rarely drink—maybe an occasional glass of wine with hubby on vacation. It’s not that moderate drinking is immoral. Or that I’m worried about my image.

But here’s the thing: I want to be alert to hear God’s voice. I know this might sound silly.  But I want to remain mindful of those little nudges to pray for someone. Aware of the Holy Spirit’s guidance, or conviction, or instruction. I especially want to hear His whisper—that still small voice that’s so easy to miss.  I’ve noticed that even one glass of wine can dull my “spiritual hearing” a bit.

Moreover, the Bible tells me that as a believer in Jesus, I have an enemy. He continually prowls around looking for someone to devour. As long as I live on planet earth, I’m at war. It was George Washington who said, “To be prepared for war is one of the most effective means of preserving peace.”

One of the best ways to prepare for our spiritual war is to remain alert to the wiles of the enemy. The Bible says it this way:

“Be sober [well balanced and self-disciplined], be alert and cautious at all times. That enemy of yours, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion [fiercely hungry], seeking someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8 AMP).

“Keep actively watching and praying that you may not come into temptation; the spirit is willing, but the body is weak” (Matthew 26:41 AMP).

I want to win my spiritual battles.  To stand strong against temptation.  To hear what the Lord wants to reveal to me.  In short, I want to stay fully awake.

So I’ll l continue to enjoy that occasional glass of wine.  But as a special treat, not a habit. Not a way to cope.  And certainly not my method to deal with worry, stress, or anxiety.  For those, I think I’ll choose to be “filled with the Holy Spirit.”  I’ve discovered that the Spirit gives me lasting peace.  Joy.  Power.  Plus,  I’m plenty alert and ready for the next battle.

Hope you don’t hear my thoughts on this subject as a rigid law or rule–but rather something to ponder as we start our New Year.

Blessings to you in 2019!