I love Wife Swap, the 60 minute program now in syndication on the Lifetime television network. When I first saw it advertised in 2003, it certainly caused my eyebrow to raise. You can only imagine what I thought it meant. I know television has become quite risqué since television in the 60′s when Dick Van Dyke and Mary Tyler Moore as Rob and Laura Petrie, though married, didn’t even sleep in the same bed! Now we are swapping wives on regular network television!? What has this world come to!!? I admit, out of curiosity I had to check it out. After all, it is my responsibility as a good parent and informed Christian to see what the world was pushing onto our unsuspecting and naive public. I had to be informed if I was to rightfully bash the program. Well, I was relieved to see that it was not at all what I thought. Whew, thank gosh! And I learned that there was much to glean from this program.
If you are not familiar with the program, it is about 2 families, usually from different parts of the country, who live extremely different lifestyles. The emphasis is on “extreme.” I love how at the end of the program, both families seem to learn balance based on a few of the principles they learned from the other family.
One thing that is usually missing from these episodes, like most programs on TV, is God. Let’s look at the particular episode I watched today, as I was effectively avoiding doing anything productive. The Beauvais’ are a successful entrepreneurial family from Arizona who promote the power of “positive thinking.” The Clayton family from Indiana who are a close knit family living in a trailer park and are struggling financially while remaining cheerful.
First, the Beauvais’. Dina and Mark both work at home as “inventors.” They have devised a program where for $39.00 you too can discover the secrets to living your dream life, as they do in their expensive home. Dina claims to have “manifested” her dream job, dream husband, dream home, and even her 2 children based on the power of positive thinking. The problem, is that she gives no glory to God. She believes that all these blessings came about because SHE willed them. No doubt she works hard and focuses on getting what she wants. However, when she went to a soup kitchen to “encourage” those who were less fortunate, she seemed more concerned about selling her program than truly helping those in need.
There is certainly nothing wrong with positive thinking. In fact we are told in Philippians 4:8,
“Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.”
God knows that we are truly at our best when we think positively. He cannot use us to further His kingdom if we are walking around feeling sorry for ourselves, making excuses for our circumstances, or focusing on all that is wrong with the world. We make ourselves available to serve the Lord when we are positive. Opportunities present themselves and His success becomes our success. Our goal should not be to focus on what WE want, but what Christ wants for us. Only then will we truly be satisfied and fulfilled.
The families focused on personal appearance to an extreme as well. Dina and Mark, from Arizona were very clothes conscious. Dina worked out with the mantra, “I am a size 3″ and even had permanently tattooed makeup. Sheri, on the other hand, at 300+ pounds was happy to wear stained and torn clothing. Her family eats a high fat diet professing that they cannot afford healthy food, and even if they could they wouldn’t eat it because they don’t like it. Sheri and her husband had many missing teeth and did not seem concerned at all about physical appearance. Again we see extremes.
So is it wrong to take pride in our appearance? Shouldn’t we care what we look like? Of course we should, but again let’s look to the bible for guidance on appearance. Proverbs 31:3 says, “Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised.” As one ages, beauty is indeed fleeting. I don’t look like I did at 19, do you? And I don’t look now like I will in 10 years. My husband jokes that as men age, they look like Sean Connery. As women age, they look like Sean Connery. I’m afraid there is too much truth in that “joke.”
If we put too much emphasis on our appearance however, we will definitely be disappointed. Too often, we adorn ourselves to extremes to impress others, hoping we will gain favor with others and we tend to judge others appearance as a way of justifying our own. But who are we pleasing, man or God? So does that mean that we should walk around in rags? NO WAY! We need to honor our bodies for they are a temple as we read in 1 Corinthians 6:19-20,
“Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body,”
Would Jesus walk around in rags? No, but neither would he be wearing a Versace suit and Cole Haan shoes. As far as our health, I believe we should do what we can to eat healthy meals and maintain a healthy appearance. By all means to maintaining an attractive hairstyle is one thing, but to spend hundreds of dollars for the “right” stylist and to spend hours having your hair highlighted to look “natural” is wasteful, extreme – and vain. It’s not your outward appearance that makes a difference in other people’s lives. Spend the time reading your bible, praying for others and looking for opportunities to bless those around you weather at the grocery store or in line at the DMV. Eat a balanced diet, but enjoy a Big Mac once in awhile. If you have poor dental health, get your teeth fixed. But is it necessary to spend thousands to have the “perfect” smile? I have never seen an unattractive person who does not look like a million dollars with a simple smile. A smile can be given to anyone and can make a huge difference in another person’s life.
I was pleased to see that at the end of this particular episode, Dina and Mark sold their expensive home and invited those who were less fortunate to partake in their success seminar for free. They realized that they were living for themselves and turned themselves around to help others.
The Clayton’s also realized that they could make positive changes in their own lives. Instead of making excuses for their circumstances, they embraced opportunities to make positive financial changes for their family and found that good, nutritious food was not more expensive, nor less fulfilling than the junk they had been gorging their bodies with. Robert, the older of the two boys even realized that aspiring to attend college was not just a wish, but a possibility.
As I watched this program, I was reminded of how important it is to keep life in balance. We can take anything of this world to extreme, and when we do, we often find ourselves unfulfilled. The only thing we can always take in extreme is Jesus. Only then do we find that all of our needs are fulfilled.
Now it’s off to find something else to do to goof of instead of work. I wonder what’s on the OWN network?
To be continued….
Director of Women’s Ministry
I’m fat. Ok there, I said it. I am a typical 47 year old, middle aged woman with course, stringy hair and a thick waist. I can’t see a blasted thing without my reading glasses which are permanently perched atop of a mess of hair that is too wavy to be straight, and too straight to be curly. I look in the mirror and often wonder what the heck my mom is doing in my bathroom mirror staring back at me. Gone are the days when I could eat 2 Big Macs, a large fries, large coke and top it off with a hot apple pie and still look like twiggy. You know, the model from the 60′s who got her name, I am sure, because of her slim resemblance to a twig! Yes at one time I had a skinny little figure and hardly a care in the world.
Oh how things change. Suddenly we care about what other people think of us, as if they are sitting at home wondering, “Hey, I wonder what Lynn’s waist line is up to today!” or “at least my hair looks better than Lynn’s Gene Simmons helmet head!” Yes, we tend to compare ourselves to others whether we admit it or not. Why do we do such insane things? You would think that after, I don’t know – high school, the competition would stop, that we would grow and mature into adults with adult thoughts. Yet we know that that is not the case. Just look at the cover of ANY magazine at the grocery store. You know the place where you go to buy the food that we stuff into our mouths and then wonder why we can’t look like Kim Kardashian. Why have we not yet figured out that Kim Kardashian does not look like Kim Kardashian? Who is she anyway? With a little starvation diet, a 2 hour daily gym workout, liposuction, tons of makeup and photo shop editing I could look like I did in high school. But why? Would I be happier? It sure hasn’t worked out for Kim! Just wait until she is 50! And who really cares what I look like anyway?
God does not care if we are 130 lbs or 300 lbs. He looks at our heart. We need to learn to look at ourselves through His eyes and stop worrying about what others think. Let’s thank God we live a world of plenty. During the renaissance a heavy woman with pale skin was revered as beautiful. She lived a life of luxury because she had plenty to eat while others starved and her skin was shielded from the sun because she did not have to work the fields. God is blessing us every day.
Let us stop obsessing about our weight, embrace the fact that one day we will look like our mothers and turn our focus on loving others regardless of how well they conform to societies standard. True beauty if found within. We read in 1 Peter 3:3-4 – 3 Don’t be concerned about the outward beauty of fancy hairstyles, expensive jewelry, or beautiful clothes. 4 You should clothe yourselves instead with the beauty that comes from within, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is so precious to God.” Now that does not mean you cannot buy attractive clothes or go to the hair stylist. But it does not give us license to eat like pigs and dress like slobs either. What it does mean is that no amount to outward appearance can make up for a gentle, quiet spirit. Let us embrace our femininity.
1 Timothy 2:9-10 says, “And I want women to be modest in their appearance. They should wear decent and appropriate clothing and not draw attention to themselves by the way they fix their hair or by wearing gold or pearls or expensive clothes. 10 For women who claim to be devoted to God should make themselves attractive by the good things they do.” Again, this is not to say we cannot dress attractively. But we certainly don’t need to adorn ourselves as “harlots.” Too many of our youth believe that the only way to be accepted is by dressing provocatively or in certain fashion labels, when what is truly attractive in an inward beauty.
The scriptures say “For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16) It does NOT say, “For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever is a size 6 and believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”
So in the words of Joyce Meyer, buy the shoes, eat the cookie. Let us stop comparing ourselves and others as society does. Let us look upon one another as disciples of Christ, with love and encouragement, for then we are truly beautiful.
Director of Women’s Ministry
As a new Christian, many have asked themselves, “What is God’s will for my life? This is a question many find asking themselves. In fact, most Christians have asked this question at some time and many, after years, are still asking. For some it is clear. I would venture to guess that Billy Graham, and Joyce Meyer know God’s will for their lives. There are those that just know without question what it is God is leading them to do. So what is it that they have that you may not? Is it that you don’t understand God? Is it that you are not listening? That you have not learned to hear and understand the sometimes small whisper of the Holy Spirit? Maybe you think you are not worthy enough to have a specific purpose in the Kingdom of Christ. No, by beloved, you can be sure He has something very special in mind for you. He tells us in Jeremiah 29:11, “For I know the plans I have for you declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future.” Yes, my dear, you do have a purpose. And it is a purpose which will glorify God.
In Romans 12:4-5 we read, “Just as our bodies have many parts and each part has a special function, so it is with Christ’s body. We are many parts of one body, and we all belong to each other.” We all play a role in God’s glorious kingdom. Having just celebrated Thanksgiving, let’s take a look back at the day in order to illustrate this point. This is a day where much planning and preparation is necessary in order to have a wonderful and memorable day. Usually several people are involved. First, someone has to prepare a menu and the shopping has to be done. We usually have to drag out all types of cooking equipment used just this one time of year. Then the table must be set. We don’t usually just throw down a couple of forks and knives and call it good, but put a little more effort into the task by beautifully decorating the table to reflect this special Fall festivity. Finally, once the meal has been consumed and all are relaxing with the delicious pumpkin pie that Aunt Evelyn made, someone else may be cleaning the kitchen. You see, without a joint effort this day would not be nearly as colorful or enjoyable. We all benefit from the contributions of many when each person uses their unique gifts and talents to make it a pleasurable event.
Often times we resist seeking God’s will because we believe He may ask us to do something we do not want to do. But God has given each of us unique gifts for which to serve Him and His perfect purpose. For instance, again using our Thanksgiving analogy, if you are like me, I really do NOT like to cook. I never have and I suspect I am not going to wake up one morning and suddenly desire to be the next Rachel Ray. But I LOVE to decorate, and doing dishes is not a chore for me. My husband, on the other hand, loves to cook, but does not really care to bake. So we rely on Aunt Evelyn for those yummy pies. Our roles may not be “traditional” but by using our unique gifts and talents, we accomplish the task at hand. We all do what we are gifted to do. This is the way it is in God’s kingdom. So you don’t have to fear doing something you are not equipped to do. Now that is not to say that the Lord might ask you to do something you may be uncomfortable doing, but He is not going to expect you to bake the pies if He gave you the gift to decorate the table. He would never send you to battle without first properly equipping you. This is where trust enters into the picture.
Trust that God has your best interest in mind and learn to be patient. The time might not be right for your part of the plan. Like with Thanksgiving, there is a time to shop, a time to prepare, and a time to clean up. Maybe God is not ready for you to do your part yet. We cannot possibly understand time as the creator of the universe does. He does not work within the constraints of 24 hours a day 365 days a year calendar. His timing is much bigger than that. The Lord is orchestrating everything in the universe and you can be sure He knows what He is doing. No matter how hard you try, you will NEVER understand His time clock. He will use us when He is ready, and not before. Abraham and Sarah did not have Isaac until they were in their 90′s. Moses was 80 years old when he led God’s people out of Egypt to the promised land.
So what do you do until you know for sure what God is asking you to do? It can be difficult to sit and wait, wondering if you should be doing something more. One thing I have learned to do is ask myself, “What would God NOT want me to do?” I know He would not want me to be idle. He would not want me to just sit in a ball on the couch, watching the newest morally questionable reality TV show of the moment, or reading trashy novels. He would want me to take care of my family and my home. He would want me to study His word to better understand who He is. He would want me to continue to learn to be more Christ like in my daily life. We may be in training right now. But like a child in a math class who complains, “why do we need to know this stuff?” we need to prepare for when it is our turn. You would not want your child to sit in class and stare out the window completely ignoring the teaching, so why would God want you to do so when you have the best training manual ever written. The choice is yours. If you want to know God’s will, do your due diligence and STUDY!!! God cannot use you if you are not willing to do His will. If you truly want to serve Him, prepare yourself. And finally, believe that when the time is right, and He believes you are ready, He will give you all you need to accomplish whatever He has asked you to do.
Associate Publisher, Director of Women’s Ministry
Have you ever had a friend or relative ask you to keep a secret? The idea that someone would trust you enough to let you in on something so personal in their lives makes you feel accepted and part of an “inner circle”. Sharing something so intimate creates a type of bond, or camaraderie reserved only for the closest and most trusted people in their lives. Once you learn this secret information you feel a responsibility to keep it private. After all, this person is trusting you with information that is reserved only for those closest to them. Once this information was revealed, however, did it make you uncomfortable?
Rarely does a secret have a positive effect. That which is done in the light does not need to be kept secret. We learn in John 3:19-21 that “God’s light came into the world, but people loved the darkness more than the light, for their actions were evil. All who do evil hate the light and refuse to go near it for fear their sins will be exposed. But those who do what is right come to the light so others can see that they are doing what God wants.” With this in mind, why would anyone choose to keep secretes? Usually it is to cover activities or behaviors that are not appropriate, or that do not align with Godly behavior. Think about it, if there was nothing to be ashamed of why would it have to be “kept quiet”?
Now I am not saying that there are not times that secrets are not innocent, such as planning a surprise birthday party for someone. Or at Christmas, the gifts we buy are kept secret so that we may surprise our loved ones on Christmas morning. These secrets are not meant to harm anyone, but to bless them with our generosity and our desire to bring them joy. But few secrets truly bless anyone. If once the “surprise” is revealed, it does not bring joy, it should never have been kept a secret in the first place. The bible tells us:
“Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them.” Before keeping a secret ask yourself if this information, if made public, would bless or encourage another. If the answer is no, you may want to examine why it must be kept secret. Or whom the truth might hurt.” Ephesians 4:29
You might say that keeping a secret is to protect someone. But is it really? Or is it to protect your own pride. Consider a woman who does not want her child to know the true identity of his or her biological parent. Perhaps the pregnancy resulted from poor decision making and the father has never, and likely never will, be part of that child’s life. In fact, she has remarried and her new husband is the only father that child has ever known. Should she give up her secret? Most likely there are other family members who know the truth. It is possible that this truth could be revealed at some point in the years to come bringing shame, humiliation, and mistrust? What happens if the father has a change of heart years later and wants to re-enter his child’s life? These things do happen and having the situation swept under the rug only makes it more difficult to contend with later. We all make mistakes in life but trying to maintain secrets to protect our own pride or selfishness is like trying to cover a lie. You have to continually make excesses, always waiting for the truth to surface. You find no peace continually looking over your shoulder wondering who in the family may at some point, intentionally or not, spill the beans. This becomes bondage. Just what the enemy wants. Satan loves secrets because he understands the nature of their destructiveness.
No, the fact is, secrets are more often than not a way to cover up inappropriate behavior. Think about the wife that buys a new dress, shoves it in the closet and brings it out months later. When asked about the dress by her husband she comments that she has had it for months. Is it a lie? Well, technically no, but she did buy it, in secret, without his knowledge. The only reason to do so would be if she believed that her husband, for whatever reason, would not approve of her buying it. Therefore, by purchasing the dress “in secret”, her behavior has become deceptive, and deceptions breaks trust. Without trust you cannot have a healthy, solid, Godly relationship. So when it comes down to it, is a dress really worth placing a wedge between you and the person who is supposed to mean the most to you in your life? More importantly, is this the way God would expect you show respect to your husband?
Strong relationships depend on honesty. According the book, Love and Respect, Dr. Emerson Eggerichs, Respect is what men most value in a relationship, while Love is most important to women. Now is keeping secrets from one another truly showing love and respect? Absolutely not. As a wife, would you respect a man who spends hours on the internet looking at pornography. He does this in secret because he know his wife would not approve. Affairs start by secret contact. If you are involved in an activity that you know your spouse would not approve of, you simply should not be doing it. Once trust is broken in a relationship it is very difficult to get it back.
Some situations could break trust in a person to the point where it not only disrupts their current lives but their future as it can alter their whole perspective of people in general. Once a child’s trust is broken they may never completely trust anyone again permanently effecting future relationships.
Those who violate children do so in secret. Again, they use the manipulation to gain the child’s “trust”. They may use guilt to keep the child from telling or they may use fear and intimidation telling them that something bad will happen if they tell, or that their parents or siblings may be harmed. Many times they are bribed. Anything to get the child to keep the secret. Again, only to hide inappropriate behavior.
Children learn about secrets at a very young age. Where do they learn such behavior? They usually learn it from us. Buying your child a toy and then telling them ,”shh, don’t tell daddy”, is not only teaching them to lie, but also teaches them disrespect. We must teach our children that telling secrets is very much like lying. Once they are comfortable telling small fibs, then it is just a matter of time before they become comfortable telling bigger and bigger ones until finally it simply becomes a way of life. Satan loves lies. He is on a mission to destroy and he knows the serious impact of lies. Secrets are a favorite of his.
So the next time someone asks if you can keep a secret, perhaps your answer should simply be, no!
May almighty God bless you always,
Associate Publisher, Director of Women’s Ministry
|Love and Respect for a Lifetime: Women Absolutely Need Love, Men Absolutely Need Respect. It’s as Simple and as Complicated as That.By Dr. Emerson Eggerichs / Thomas NelsonThis coffee table edition of the popular Love and Respect book offers excerpts from the book, Scripture verses taken from the NASB, and romantic images. A perfect Valentine’s Day or Wedding Gift. Compiled by Terri Gibbs. Jacketed hardcover.|