Grumble Grumble Grumble

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When one of my kids starts complaining, I often hear the other say to them, “Grumble grumble grumble.” It’s their way of reminding each other (and themselves) that no one likes to listen to other people’s complaining and griping all the time.

Recently I have been the one who is grumble grumble grumbling. I’m finding it very easy to grumble about many things in my life. My grumbling comes from a discontented heart. It’s a heart problem.

Knowing I’m grumbling a lot, and that it comes from a discontented heart, should make it easy enough to change, right? Honestly, not so much. I’ve fallen into the habit of complaining about all of the hard stuff rather than rejoicing. I find when my heart is discontent it’s much easier to see the difficulties as difficulties instead of opportunities to rejoice in the knowledge of Jesus Christ.

I must resolve to change my attitude. It is a choice I make. I can choose to wallow in the mud and muck, grumbling and complaining about everything I see as a hardship. Or I can choose to take God’s hand, and “by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present [my] requests to God” (Philippians 4:6).

I find great hope in Philippians 4. God knows who I am, what I’m doing, and what I need. When I focus my mind and thoughts on Him, my heart can rejoice in His great love for me. My circumstances may not change. All of those difficulties I’ve chosen to grumble about may all still be there. But when I choose to focus on God and His love rather than my own circumstances, my heart and mind can rise above the grumbling and into peace.

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Finally brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me – put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.

Philippians 4: 4-9

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Dear Margo

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Below is the very thought provoking, and heart felt letter I got in response to my Dear Family letter from my godly father-in-law.

Dear Margo,

Thanks for the fine letter recently sent this direction. So many thoughts to ponder as I write this morning.  There is no way to cover all that is on my heart. I have prayed for Divine assistance here, for I am so feeble in my own strength.

My first thoughts regarding Susan’s decisions were fleshly anger, and almost instant legalism from my past early church days.  But I was then reminded in my spirit that we live in the new covenant times…”Who also made us competent as ministers of a new covenant, not of the letter, but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life”. (2 Cor. 3:6-7)

As you know, the new covenant provides forgiveness of our sins through the death of Christ. A fast trace begins with Jer. 31:31 to Luke 22:20, to our verse in 2 Cor. 3:6 to Heb 10:16-17.

Of course, that doesn’t mean we don’t have discipline, love without discipline is not love. We know God will and does discipline His own children because He loves them and will not allow sin to have dominion over them. In Heb 12:5-17, it’s clear, He will discipline when needed.

You gave an example for consideration, Matt 7: 1-6. I think you were right on track with that. Let’s take a closer look at Matthew 7 – “Do not judge”.  As the context or whole chapter shows, this first statement does not prohibit all kinds of judging (vs. 16). Also, there is a righteous kind of judgment we are supposed to use with careful discernment as in John 7:24 – “Stop judging by mere appearances, but instead judge correctly”.   I hope you have time to look at this because we all have used this judging verse incorrectly through the years.  Censorious, hypocritical, self-righteous judgments are forbidden, but in order to fulfill the commandments that follow, it’s necessary to know who the “dogs” and “swine” are in verse 6, from our own brethren (vs. 3-5).

We, as Christians, must make judgments all the time, and they must be fair and righteous, which means right standing before God.  Colossians 1:10 and Galatians 5:22 fit here. So we surely can use Matthew 7 for understanding righteousness from unrighteousness in our lives and around our lives.

But the big question remains, what should we do about the sin that is so glaring in our family?

“Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted.” Gal. 6:1

I believe our prayers, thoughts, actions, and decisions should center on what would bring us all together in love and concern rather than who is right or wrong in how they look at this issue as Christians.

When we don’t confess our sins and repent, we put ourselves in a position to be disciplined by God’s hand, perhaps in a more harsh way than if we confessed. It’s scary to even think about it.

What is it that we are looking for here?? What is it we want in this whole struggle?

Perhaps Susan’s admission to her adultery?

Put her family back together?

Probably too late for that now.

Do we want everyone to agree with our assessment of the situation?

Is that even possible?

But what’s the truth here? What will satisfy us?

Are we angry with Susan? I was at first. Is it the deceit, the wrongs done, the sin, the effect on our family? Perhaps the selfishness of it all is the main thing. Lots of times we hate the sin of selfishness and even the person who is committing the act because it seems like they are getting away with it scott-free, doing anything they want, getting what they want, hurting whomever they want, maybe even secretly getting some of the things we have secretly wanted in our sinful flesh at times.

What’s our truth?

Do we think Almighty God doesn’t see how His own children are living? He’s not on a vacation and He alone is the One who knows exactly what should be done to help poor Susan, whom He loves so dearly. This is a tragedy, just like you said, but God knows every detail about this and He is going to use this to teach those whom He loves what they need to learn. God does still cause all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those what are called according to His purpose. (Rom 8:28)

So what about our response? Shouldn’t we feel just horrible for the one who has fallen? It could be us very easily. Just imagine the pain and suffering yet to go through as The Father works with the fallen child. What really should be our response?

Think about what really is ahead for Susan, Mike, Gary, and the boys.  What a horror!

What they need from us is support and love….and much knee time in prayer.

Our inconvenience, discomfort, disruption, being lied about and insulted should be easy to forgive when you think about what Susan must face yet. Our hearts should be broken for her, that the enemy has lied to her and in her weakened condition she believed the lie. Now Satan is using her to destroy, or try to destroy her and her whole family and witness for Christ.

This is our spiritual battle, too. A family member is down on the battlefield and wily old Satan has twisted it and clouded its meaning so we can’t see clearly. We almost mistake Susan for the enemy. We need to sound the battle cry for one of our very own is down!!

Susan does not yet even know she is the target and the victim of Satan and his hordes. She doesn’t know what is happening and believes the incredible crafty lie of the angel of light as he can appear to be.

In the saving name of Jesus Christ, our spiritual force of prayer needs to go and surround our fallen sister and fight this huge spiritual battle claiming Jesus blood was shed for Susan, that she belongs to Jesus, her Savior and Lord. We can command in Jesus name for all the unholy spirits and filthy demons to leave this Blood bought child of the Living God!  We must not falter another moment. We are already late going into battle. We need to look past the camouflage and smoke screens that Satan always puts up. His purpose is clear, it’s to destroy all victory in the Christian’s life, make them a Christian failure, destroy any and all witness for Christ, rip the Christian family apart, take no prisoners. He does not want us to believe this truth, however.

Susan’s blindness to all this is the key. How, if not under Satan’s spell could a Holy Spirit led believer be duped? Impossible, absolutely! We know all this makes zero sense unless the mind has been fooled by a master deceiver, preying on her weaknesses.

Of course, God knows what the truth is here, but whatever the case, our hearts should be broken for this dear messed up child of the King, our sister in Christ and by blood.

I know God loves families and wants ours to be together, not apart in strife, but together in Christ. All other religions operate on fear, anger, law, without love – only the Christian faith is based and founded on love: “For God so loved…”

And we are to be conformed to the image of Jesus Christ who loved us and gave Himself for us. I do like your family letter, Margo, even if it’s kind of formal in tone, but many good points.

This family needs to come together in love for and forgiveness to each other. This is because of our wonderful, loving family head, even Jesus who was and is our Teacher and Savior, who as our great High Priest continues to intercede in our behalf with the Father.

Love, in Christ,

Dad

While my mind (and heart) understands what my very wise father-in-law is saying, I have to confess, I am not there yet. There is still a part of me that is looking for justice, for God’s judgment, dare I say, a lightening strike! ;) I will be annoyed if it appears for a time that Susan and Gary are living happily ever after.

Yet, I understand that the greater tragedy here is that Satan appears to have won a victory in destroying two families and a Christian’s testimony and legacy. Susan is indeed blinded and deceived.

No, Susan is not the enemy.

Please pray for Susan, and me, and the rest of our family that Jesus would have the victory and be glorified somehow in all this mess.

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Dear Family

Small Town America

My husband is one of several children. I’m not sure if all large families have as much drama as his, but for as long as I have known him (over thirty years), there has been enough drama to keep a soap opera writer in business for many seasons.

Recently, one of his sisters went through a divorce and the repercussions caused much division within the family.  Here is a letter I wrote to explain our position to the rest of the family. I never sent it because my husband didn’t think it would make a difference, but I share it with you here to show that decisions we make impact the whole family. Also, I wanted to start a conversation about divorce, families, forgiveness, marriage, or whatever this story might stir. The names have been changed to protect everyone’s privacy.

Here’s some background info to help you understand the story better.  This sister-in-law and I are about the same age and I have known her as long as I’ve known my husband.  I considered us to be close friends and I loved, admired and respected her very much. At the time of these events, she was a full-time women’s’ ministry director at a large church.

I’ve included a cast of characters to help you follow the story better:

Margo – me

Susan – divorcing sister-in-law

Mike – Susan’s husband

Tyler – Mike and Susan’s 14 year old son

Jake – Mike and Susan’s 12 year old son

Gary – Susan’s boyfriend, who is also Mike’s and her neighbor and best friend’s husband; his employer transferred him to another state in the middle of this situation.

George – my husband, Susan’s older brother

Family – other siblings and in-laws who live out of state and only know what Susan wants them to know

Dear Family,

After seeing everyone together at the recent family wedding, and feeling the tension in the air over the “situation”, we feel it will be beneficial to the eventual healing of family relationships that some explanation of the position we have taken regarding Susan’s divorce would be in order.

We have refrained from talking to most family members in order to keep the division to a minimum. Several of you have said that you don’t understand why we have taken the position we have with Susan and Mike, and so, we would like to explain.

We want to say first and be very clear about this – we love Susan very much and miss her. We miss the Susan we used to know.

We’ve lived in the same state as Susan and Mike long enough now to have seen the whole picture, from before Susan asked Mike to move out, until now.  Susan is a married woman dating a married man. Together, they are breaking up two families, which include five children and two devastated spouses – all for the sake of their own happiness.

It is not a coincidence that Susan and Gary, her married boyfriend, both find themselves on the verge of divorce at the same time. They each filed for divorce within three days of each other and they were seeing each other and had inappropriate feelings for each other before they each separated from their current spouses.

George had a conversation with Gary at a local restaurant before papers were filed, and Gary admitted inappropriate feelings for Susan and inappropriate behavior with her. George encouraged him to do the right thing and stay with his family. Gary told George he intended to act with honor and integrity and that things were over with Susan. Obviously not.

We cannot and do not respect this behavior.

But even if her married boyfriend were not in the picture, we do not agree with what Susan is doing by divorcing Mike.  This is for several reasons. The main one is because we love Susan and do not believe that a second divorce is what is best for her. If we saw Susan about to step off a curb into on-coming traffic and did nothing to prevent it, how much love does that show? We believe she is making a decision here that is extremely harmful to her.

We also do not believe that a divorce is the best choice for Tyler and Jake, whom we also love very much. Two young boys need their father in their lives on a daily basis. As children of divorce ourselves, we know the pain and insecurity, and emotional scars divorce causes.  We don’t want that for them.

Also, as the pastor said at the wedding, everything in our lives need to center on the Lord. True!!  We are all part of a Christian family.  Susan and Mike stood in a church and vowed before God, “’til death do us part”.  No matter what.

We are sorry Susan is not happy in her marriage to Mike. However, God cares more about our obedience than our happiness. And when we obey, there is a peace and contentment that comes from submitting ourselves to His authority. But even if we are unhappy, we still need to obey and trust God to take care of our heart.

At this point, we feel we need to address the issue of Mike staying in the apartment at our house. We know this has hurt Susan greatly. This was never our intention. George spoke to Susan over the phone before we invited Mike to stay and explained our reasons. Susan said she understood why we were doing what we were doing. This arrangement allowed Mike more time with Tyler and Jake, plus saved their family a large amount of money each month.

But the truth is there is another man involved and Susan is doing everything in her power to move half way across the country to be with her married boyfriend, uprooting the boys for the second time in two years – certainly not in their best interest, but again, for the sake of her own happiness.

However, Susan can’t move without Mike’s permission to take the boys out of state, or unless she can get Mike’s parenting time revoked.  In order to accomplish this, Susan made some accusations that show she has no regard for her brother.   She made the false accusation to her lawyer that there is “excessive drinking, partying, and a severe lack of supervision of the children in our home”. As a result, Mike is no longer allowed to have the boys at our house for his parenting time. Is this really in the boys’ best interest?

I write these things to say that Susan only seems to have Susan’s best interests in mind.

Instead of owning up to all this, Susan has portrayed herself as a victim. She blames Mike for everything, saying he was verbally and physically abusive to her. She did admit to George that the physical “abuse” was that Mike blocked her from going down the stairs during an argument.

She has even said that “God wants her to be happy.”  So, she is ok with breaking her marriage vows for the second time, dating a married man, and breaking up two families because “God wants her to be happy”?

At this point, we can imagine that you think we are being pretty tough on Susan. She’s our sister and where is the family support?

We’ve had a lot of time to think, pray, and get Godly counsel about what our response to all this needs to be.

Matthew 7:1 -3 “Do not judge, or you too will be judged. 2For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.  3“Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?”

This is a passage that is used quite often in these kinds of “sticky” situations. And it is valid here; however, we cannot use it out of context and stop reading at “Do not judge or you too will be judged”. The passage goes on to say, “For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you”.  So, if you feel we are judging Susan, then judge us. Judge us according to God’s word and His direction about divorce, dishonesty, obedience and betrayal. And then judge Susan by those same standards.

Please hear our hearts on this. You know us well enough to know that our hearts are not hard. Susan has interpreted our disagreement with her as lack of love and support.  But really, what is more loving – agreeing with her to spare her feelings or calling her out, warning her that she is making a huge mistake that we believe will cause great pain to her, Tyler and Jake? George has spoken to her, disagreeing with her choices, and for that she has chosen to cut us out of her life.

We love our entire family, including Susan, very much. Our hope and prayer is that you will take this in the spirit it was meant – which is to help you understand where our hearts are in this tragedy.

Love,

Margo and George

As of this writing, Susan and Mike are divorced, as is Gary. Susan did move with the boys to another state and now she and Gary are living together. Most of the other siblings have decided the whole thing is none of their business and act like everything is fine and have encouraged us to do the same for “the sake of family peace”.  Because George and I have spoken to and explained to Susan why we disagree with her choice to divorce and move with Gary, she has cut off all communication with her and our nephews. And to be completely honest, because Susan and Gary are Christians and know God’s Word regarding adultery, deception, and divorce, we are none too eager to sit down to a family dinner with them either.

But how far does one go for “the sake of family peace”? Do we turn a blind eye to blatant sin and the disregard for others? Is this not a natural consequence for bad behavior – damaged relationships?  Believe me, we have been torn over this, we are well aware of the verses that teach us to love one another, and to live at peace with all men.

I did send a copy of this letter to my father in law who is out of state and removed from the situation. I plan on posting his response soon which is very rich in spiritual insight and wisdom.

Stay tuned…

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Meet “Margo”

Jane aka Margo

Hi!  I’d like to introduce myself to you.

My name is “Margo”. 

Now, I’d like to confess something to you.

Margo is not my real name .

I will be writing here at A Martha Heart under a pen name. I will be writing anonymously mostly from The Closet, in order to speak more freely about some of  the trials and tribulations I have been through in my life while protecting the privacy of my husband and children. Some of my stories also intersect with extended family members, and I definitely want to honor their privacy as well.

When I sat down to think about all the difficult issues I could write about from The Closet, I had to laugh because it sounds like a story line from a soap opera.  I plan on writing about my mother abandoning me and my sister, my parents’ divorce, my own marriage struggles and almost divorce (twice), my husband’s mental breakdown, my struggles with depression, and add two teens/young adults to the mix and the possiblilites for blog fodder are just about endless! I will also be writing about some of the “sticky situations” we get ourselves into as fallible humans making our way through life.

I did have a couple of concerns about writing anonymously at A Martha Heart.  I hope you will hear my heart as I write about the difficulties of life. I am not writing to gain sympathy or attention. I am writing to show that in my darkest days, Jesus was there. No matter what I’ve gone through, He has always been right there with me. He has always fulfulled Romans 8:28 in my life.

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.

I also write to give you hope, that no matter what happens in this life, Jesus loves you, and He is there.

I’m also concerned that I might come across as an Eeyore-type personality or that my life is absolutely horrible. But nothing could be farther from the truth. While I have had my share of heartache in my almost 50 years on this earth, God has blessed me abundantly and I am extremly thankful for the blessings and even the pain.  John 16:33 explains where my joy comes from.

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

 I realize that we all have a story. Some of you have had to deal with much more difficult circumstances than I have. I want to honor your stories and pray for you.

I don’t write as someone who has “arrived” or as one who has all the answers, but I do write as someone who can point you to the One who is the answer to all of life’s problems.

Something helpful in dealing with the problems life sends our way is deciding ahead of time how you will respond to the challenge.  Will you despair and fall apart?  Or will you grasp on tighter to Jesus’ hand and hold on no matter what?

Kerrie Roberts – No Matter What

I’m running back to your promises one more time, Lord that’s all I can hold on to, I gotta say this has taken me by surprise, but nothing surprises you. Before a heartache can ever touch my life, it has to go through Your hands, and even though I keep asking why, I keep asking why,

No matter what, I’m gonna love You, no matter what I’m gonna need You, I know that You can find a way to keep me from the pain but if not,if not, I’ll trust you, no matter what, no matter what.

When I’m stuck in this nothing-ness by myself, I’m just sitting in silence, there’s no way I can make it without Your help, I wont even try it. I know You have Your reasons for everything, so I will keep believing, whatever I might be feeling, God you are my hope, and you’ll be my strength,

No matter what, I’m gonna love You, no matter what I’m gonna need You, I know that You can find a way to keep me from the pain but if not, if not, I’ll trust you, no matter what, no matter what.

Anything I don’t have You can give it to me, but it’s ok if You don’t, I’m not here for those things, the touch of Your love is enough on its own, no matter what I still love You and I’m gonna need You

No matter what I’m gonna love you, no matter what I’m gonna need you, I know that You can find a way to keep me from the pain but if not, if not, I’ll trust You, I know that You can find a way to keep me from the pain, but if not, if not, I’ll trust you, no matter what no matter what no matter no matter what.

Now, that’s some good preaching!

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Elohim – Mighty Creator

31 Days Day 28

“God is Who He says He is.” ~ Beth Moore

The very first name God uses to introduce Himself to us is found, literally, in the beginning.

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. -Genesis 1:1

The name God in this verse is actually the Hebrew name Elohim. In the traditional Jewish view, Elohim is the name for God as Creator and Judge of the universe.

Remembering that God is the Mighty Creator of the universe is very comforting to me. Looking around at His creation reminds me that He is in control, He is omnipotent, and there is nothing that comes into my life that He can’t take care of.  If He can make the mountains, the ocean, the sun, moon, stars, the entire universe and Heaven itself, He is powerful enough to take care of me and my family. No matter what!

Heavenly Father, You are the Almighty Creator of the universe. You made the heavens and the earth, and you made me in Your image. You love me and care for me more than I will ever understand until I get to heaven. There is nothing that happens to me or my loved ones that is too big for You to handle. Just as You had a plan for creation, You have a plan for me. Help me to trust You even when I can’t see the path You have created for me.

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