Marriage & the Bride of Christ

If marriage is supposed to be a picture of Jesus Christ and the church, the bride of Christ…what does that mean for my marriage in everyday life?  How is that reflected in how I treat my husband?
In love…do I hope all things, believe all things and bear all things? 
Am I patient, kind and gentle?
Do I lay aside my prerogative and put my spouse first? 
Do I treat my spouse as though God the Father is my Father-in-law?
Do I show respect and honor?  Not only when my husband is present…but also when I’m out with friends?  Or do join in the conversation and bag on my husband?
Do I remain pure…in my thoughts and in my heart?  Or do I entertain lustful or adulterous thoughts? 
Do I pray for my husband every day?  Do I pray for my will or God’s will for him?
Do I encourage my husband’s relationship with God through Bible study, prayer and fellowship with godly Christian men? 
Do I build him up or tear him down?  Do I believe in him and his capabilities or do I only see that which is wrong?
Do I see him growing in Christ and encourage that?
Do I relax, trust and believe in my husband, confident that he is capable and able?
Do I believe in the permanence of marriage?  Just as God is a covenant maker and keeper…so too our marriage is permanent? 
Do I believe that our marriage is transcendent?  That marriage is bigger than us as a couple or us as individuals?  That it can be a tool in God’s hand to witness to the world?
I don’t know about you…but that seems like such an impossible list to live out because of my sinful human nature.  But praise God…He is patient and has given me His Holy Spirit.  Gradually, He is conforming me into the image and likeness of Christ.  When I resist it’s painful…yet when I yield it’s hard, but at the same time good.  When I have a set back and fall…He picks me up and sets me on the straight and narrow path again.  

(Note…picture is from our wedding pictures take by Sherry Hebestreit)

2010 Shepherd’s Conference

Pulpit Highlights – John MacArthur from Grace Community Church on Vimeo.

The audio/video from the 2010 Shepherd’s Conference is posted and available for free download.  Talk about some great preaching!  These men love God and are faithful to preach the full counsel of God’s word.  Go to the Shepherd’s Conference website and partake in a banquet of God’s word. 

Missing You

The silence is piercing
It bears witness that you are no longer here

The bed that once held you stands empty
The blanket that comforted you, brings comfort no more

Everywhere I look
There are memories of you

The house seems a little too quiet
Our home a little too empty

My heart is a little bit broken
My smile seems a little bit sad

Everywhere I look
There are reminders that I’m missing you

by Susan Bunts Wachtel
March 27, 2010

In Light of the Cross – Submission to God’s Authority

As a Christian, is there any area in my life that should not be brought in to submission under the authority of Jesus Christ?  Is there any area that I can hold back?

Does liberty and freedom mean license to sin or is the power to live in obedience to Christ?

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! – 1 Corinthians 5:17

You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. – Ephesians 4:22-24
I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me. – Galatians 2:20

Does submitting to Christ’s authority influence the choices I make each day?   Does it touch the root level and impact what I choose to think about?

We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.  I am to take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ. – II Corinthians 10:5

For who has known the mind of the Lord that he may instruct him?”  But we have the mind of Christ. – I Corinthians 2:16

Does Christ’s authority impact my words and what I say?  Does it impact how I treat my husband?
The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For out of the overflow of his heart his mouth speaks. – Luke 6:45

Does it influence what I read, what I listen to, and what I watch on TV or in movies?  Does it impact what I choose to wear or how I spend money?
Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. – Romans 12:2

Then He said to them all: “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. – Luke 9:23

For it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy.” – 1 Peter 1:16

Is there any area in my life, anything at all, that should not be brought under the authority and submission of Jesus Christ?

What did Jesus Christ withhold on the cross? 

If Jesus Christ, Who is God the Son, equal with God the Father, chose obedience how much more so should I? 

Moss…Lessons on the Will to Live

When I woke up this morning…I wouldn’t have guessed before the night was over I would have my kitty Moss put to sleep.  Moss was eighteen years old…actually just three months shy of nineteen.

It’s not like I didn’t know the day was coming…but it seems very surreal.

Just shy of two years ago, I had Moss’ brother Nathan put to sleep.  I never would have guessed that Moss would survive Nathan by two more years.  From the day he was born…he was the shier, more reticent of the two.  Moss was easily intimidated by his less than maternal mother Daisy.  Nathan had some gumption and would not take her guff.  But Moss…he would cower when Daisy passed by.

After Nathan was put to sleep, Moss surprised me and did very well.  He bonded with my newest addition Rudy.  Rudy being the sociable soul that he is, made fast friends with Moss.  I think, in part, that is what strengthened Moss and gave him that strong will to live.

Moss loved Rudy…and whatever affection Rudy would send his way…Moss would take every bit of it. 

Despite being senile, mostly deaf and failing sight…Moss did amazingly well.  Some health issues that he had previously had improved greatly and he was holding his own.  That is until about 4 months ago. 

One day while Moss was standing in the kitchen waiting to be fed I looked at him and realized that his leg looked like it was kind of bowed out.  I wasn’t sure if it was an optical illusion or if something was wrong. 

A visit to the vet’s office revealed that Moss had broken his leg.  As best they could determine, it was because his bones were very brittle.  Like humans, animals can develop osteoporosis.  Who would have guessed that?  Well…that was the beginning of casts. 

Moss had his first cast put on December 5th.  When I brought him home from the vet, I was worried about how he would get around.  I needn’t worry…because before long not only did he walk with ease, he would run when it was time for breakfast or dinner.  Never once did he give any evidence that he was in pain.  That’s why I was surprised at the news at the next doctor’s visit.

Fully expecting news that Moss’ leg was better…I was stunned to find out that it wasn’t healing and was in fact worse.  Without doing a bone biopsy, the best determination was that Moss had bone cancer and that was preventing the bone from healing.  I couldn’t justify having him put through that at 18 years old.  So I made the decision to keep him as comfortable as possible and enable him to keep getting around, as long as possible.  As long as he had life in him…and enjoyed his days.

Each month I would take Moss in for a cast check and to have his leg rewrapped.  Each time…he learned how to walk on the new cast.  Be it a cast up to his elbow or a cast up to his shoulder…he got around.  He really didn’t show signs of being in pain…that is until the last couple of days. 

Even with that…he got around very well.  He ate just fine.  But his meows were incessant…they seemed like they were 24/7.  We were exhausted from just hearing him.  I can’t even imagine how tired he must have been to meow so much.  Not tiny little meows…but ones with a lot of force behind them.

So tonight…realizing that last night wasn’t just a bad night for Moss…it was something more…I made the hard decision to have Moss put to sleep.  The little guy had to have been in a whole lot of pain.  He just covered it up really well…until it hurt too much to cover it up. 

Chris went with me to the emergency vet office and we were there with Moss till the end.  I had to be there you see…because I held him just moments after he was born.  It was only right that I be there to hold him at the end.

This timid and shy kitty demonstrated the strongest will to live.  Pain didn’t stop him; it didn’t slow him down for long.  I think the impetus to live came from the love of his brother Rudy.  Rudy gave him the love his mama Daisy never gave, nor his brother Nathan.  But Rudy paid him attention and showed him the affection we all need. 

So tonight our home may be quiet…but I wonder if I will sleep?  I’m sure it will be a while before it will seem real that Moss is gone…after nearly 19 years.  Good night my sweet boy…sleep tight.  Your mama misses you.

Moss Bunts Wachtel
Born:  June 17, 1991
Died:  March 21, 2010

Time for a Change

Last weekend there was some mumbling, grumbling and complaining going on as people got up early to make it to church on time.  Ordinarily getting up early is not a big deal, but with the time change springing forward one hour, people seem to feel the effects more than falling back one hour. 
I found myself complaining, but even before the words left my mouth, I felt the conviction of the Holy Spirit.
God brought to mind the millions of people around the world who are not able to worship freely.  They wouldn’t grumble and complain because they had to get up early.  Instead they would be praising God that they would get to join their brothers and sisters in Christ in worshipping Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior and diligently study God’s word. 
Praise God…for the churches that preach and teach the full counsel of God’s word.  Those congregations are fed a veritable banquet and feast on God’s word each week. 

When we get home how many of us set our Bible down, only to be picked up again when we are heading out the door to church the next Sunday?  May we be mindful of the millions of people who would love to hold the Bible in their hands and read it with their own eyes. 
If we knew that tomorrow laws would be passed that would forbid us to attend church would there be an outcry from God’s people?  Would we flock to church in record numbers?  If we knew our Bibles would be taken away from us, outlawed or banned, how would we treat God’s Word? 

May we live in light of the precious gifts we have been given by God.  May we not take lightly our freedom to worship and read our Bible.

Follow me?

In thinking about Paul’s invitation, “Follow me as I follow Christ”, I had to ask myself would I feel comfortable saying likewise.  Or would I find things in my life that would reflect that I’m not walking as closely as I should?

  • Am I following Christ?
  • If so…in what ways is that evident in my life?
  • How’s my prayer life?
  • Do I pray without ceasing?
  • When I tell someone I’ll pray…do I?
  • Do I pray believing God and trusting His character?
  • Do I daily read and study God’s word?
  • Do I apply it to my life?
  • How do I respond when the Holy Spirit convicts me of sin?
  • Am I quick to listen?
  • Am I quick to yield to the Lord’s leading and prompting?
  • Do I say Thy will be done and really mean it?
  • By the power of the Holy Spirit, am I increasing in my holiness?
  • Do I daily display the fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness and self-control?
  • Am I taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ?
  • Do I hide God’s word in my heart so that I might not sin against Him?
  • Do I put a guard over my eyes, ears, heart and mouth?
  • Is my love patient, kind, trusting, humble, longsuffering, not easily provoked?
  • Do I bear all things, believe all things, hope and endure all things?
  • Do I speak the truth in love, not like a clanging cymbal?
  • Do I hunger and thirst after righteousness?
  • Do I seek to do my Father’s will?
  • Do I put others first?
  • Do I love God with all my heart, mind, soul and strength?
  • Do I seek to be upright and blameless before God?
  • Do I keep short accounts with God?
  • Can people tell I am a Christian without me having to tell them? 
  • Am I prepared to give an answer for the hope that lies within me?
  • Do I really believe that without Christ, people will perish and spend eternity in hell?
  • Am I broken over the thought that someone will go to hell forever?
  • Am I humble or do I think more highly of myself than I ought to?
  • When I look at my schedule or checkbook what do they say about my priorities?
  • What’s first in my life?
  • Am I dying to self daily?
  • Can I say it’s not I who lives, but Christ who lives in me?

Would I feel comfortable issuing the same invitation that Paul said, “Follow me as I follow Christ.”?  If not, why not?  If not now, when? 

Who’s Your Daddy?

by Priscilla Shirer
Anointed, Transformed, Redeemed

He is the First and the Last
The Beginning and the End
He’s the Keeper of creation
And the Creator of all
He’s the Architect of the universe
And the Manager of all time
He always was, always is and always will be
Unmoved, unchanged, undefeated and never undone
He was bruised, but brought healing
He was pierced, but eased pain
He was persecuted, but brought freedom
He was dead and brings life
He has risen to bring power and He reigns to bring peace
The world can’t understand Him
Armies can’t defeat Him
Schools can’t explain Him and leaders they can’t ignore Him
Herod couldn’t kill Him
Nero couldn’t crush Him
The new age cannot replace Him
And Oprah cannot explain Him away
He is Light, He is Love, He is Longevity
He is the Lord
He is goodness and kindness and faithfulness
He is God
He is holy and righteous and powerful and pure
His ways are right
His word eternal
His will unchanging and His mind is on us
He’s our Savior
Our Guide,
Our Peace,
Our Joy,
Our Comfort
Our Lord
And He rules our lives
I serve Him because
His bond is love
His yoke is easy
His burden is light
And His goal for us is abundant life
I follow Him because He’s the Wisdom of the wise
The Power of the powerful
The Ancient of days
The Ruler of rulers
The Leader of all leaders
His goal is a relationship with me
He’ll never leave you
Never forsake you
Never mislead you
Never forget you
Never overlook you
And never cancel your appointment in His appointment book
When you fall He’ll lift you up
When you fail He’ll forgive you
When you are weak He’s strong
When you are lost He’s your Way
When you are afraid He’s your Courage
When you stumble He will steady you
When you are hurt He is going to heal you
When you are broken He will mend you
When you are blind He will lead you
When you are hungry He will feed you
When you face trials He is with you
When I face persecution He shields me
When I face problems He will comfort me
When I face loss He will provide for me
And when we face death He will carry us all home to meet Him
He is everything
For everybody
Every time
And in every way
He is our God
And that is Who you belong to


Reeling from the sting of rejection
I cry out to the Lord
He answered me
Is My love not enough for you?

In whose eyes do you see yourself
Is it in the eyes of sinful man
Who will falter and fail
Or is it in the steadfast love of the Lord

You are accepted in the Beloved
Redeemed by the precious blood of the Lamb
I will NEVER leave, nor forsake you
My love will never fail you

Is My love enough for you?

A Lesson in Forgiveness


Oh how merciful our God is.  He knows my frame and my weakness.  In the past…I’ve struggled with the issue of forgiveness.  Over the years…and by God’s grace…I’ve learned that it’s important that I forgive completely and quickly.  That my failure to do so will only cause harm. Unforgiveness is disobedience.  
An unforgiven hurt is a useful tool in the hands of the enemy.  He can grow that weed abundantly…and it will choke out the good fruit.  So why would I want to cooperate with the enemy…the one who hates my soul and works against the Kingdom of God and His people?  
During my drive time last week, I was listening to a Beth Moore study in which she talked about forgiveness.  One point that struck me is that I need to bring my hurts to God and let Him bind up my wound.  I’m not sure that I fully understand what all that means.  Perhaps it means to trust Him to bring healing to my hurting heart; to trust Him in whatever He does.
I know when I have sinned the Holy Spirit does business with me.  He convicts me and doesn’t let me get away with sin.  Why would I presume that He would do anything less with others?  Trusting God enables me to pray that He will be merciful towards another who has wronged me…knowing that God will give them exactly what they need: compassion, comfort, conviction or discipline.  He alone knows their heart and motives…not me.
One of my favorite studies on forgiveness is by Charles Stanley.  One of the most convicting points that he makes is how can I continue hold something against someone, when God has forgiven them.  Jesus Christ paid the penalty for their sins…all of them…on the cross.  How can I hold a charge against God’s elect?  The obvious answer is…I can’t.
That point was made crystal clear to me yesterday during communion, while remembering Christ’s death on the cross:  how His body was broken and His blood was shed to cover my sins.  His blood not only covered my sin…but took them clean away.  Not only my sin…but all who believe in His atoning work on the cross.  His blood not only took away my sin…but also the one who sins against me.  His blood has washed all our sins away.  Dare I hold onto a charge against another?  
When I thought about that…visualizing Jesus’ death on the cross…can I imagine going up to the cross and nailing to the cross a charge of sin against someone?  Knowing that it’s Jesus who died and suffered for sin and that He paid the penalty in full?  His blood still flows free and takes our sin away.  
When sinned against I can give thanks.  Thanks to God for exposing something ugly within me that needs to be dealt with.  Or perhaps, see that I’m growing in obedience and trusting Jesus by quickly forgiving.  It can also serve as a reminder to be praying the person who causes an offence.  
Oh how sweet freedom is.  Freedom to forgive.  Freedom to go on and not be locked in the past.  Be free to live each day…fresh and clean.  
There is no way I could do that on my own; it’s only through the work of Jesus Christ in me.  What the enemy intends for evil…God intends for good.  Praise His Holy Name!

Just Thinking

These are just a few of the thought ruminating through my mind this quiet Tuesday evening. 
What does it mean to die to self daily?  What does picking up my cross and following Jesus look like?  Is it reflected in my thoughts, attitude and how I treat people?  Does it impact my words?  Is how I dress a reflection on my heart towards God?  Is God first in my life?  What objective evidence is there that’s true?  What has God wrought on the inside that’s reflected outwardly? 
I can’t even imagine how hard it must be to be a Christian teen or young adult in today’s culture that is secular at best and hostile to Christianity at worst.  Where moral relativism has given way to sanctioning evil and even giving hardy approval.  A culture that calls good evil and evil good.
As much as I hate to admit it…I think that the secular culture is influencing Christians more than Christians are influencing the culture.  God calls Christians to be in the world, but not of it.  What does that look like?  How do Christian parents raise their children to not succumb to the secular culture?  To hunger and thirst after righteousness?  Don’t we need to examine ourselves first?
Have you ever noticed how Satan loves to tempt us to sin?  He swoops in during a time of weakness of vulnerability and presents an attractive, subtle alternative to God’s way.  He appeals to our sinful self that desires to put ourselves first, over and above God.  Once we fall and take the bait…that roaring lion turns and calls us by our sinful name…liar, cheat, thief, drunk, adulterer…and on it goes.  He tempts us to sin…and we like stupid sheep follow him.  Afterwards…he condemns us and tells us how we’ve let God down and reminds us we are undeserving of God’s grace. 
Do you know that just as God has a plan for your life…so does Satan?  Whose plan are you following? 
Have you ever noticed that a Christian’s sin may not as visible as other sins?  They usually involve the heart.  Sins like gossip, slander, condemning or judgmental attitude.  These sins are frequently rooted in pride and are every bit as deadly.    
Is there anyone in your life, that when you spend time with them…you walk away feeling like you’ve been with Jesus?  Who comes to mind?  Doesn’t someone who has a passionate hunger and thirst for God…who loves God and His Word…who has a healthy, vibrant, bold prayer life…don’t they spark something in you to want to know God more?  What’s keeping you back?
Sometimes it’s hard to pray for unbelievers when they are in difficult circumstances.  The hope and assurance that you can offer a fellow believer doesn’t hold true for those who don’t know Christ.  So what do you pray?  God often reminds me that as much as I desire for their salvation…He desires it even more.
Is your salvation prayer list growing?  Do you find that you now pray for those you once considered enemies?  Do you pray that God will deal with those in sin…but give them mercy and grace? 
Have you noticed how God uses marriage to help us grow?  That He desires for us to be holy more than He desires us to be happy? 
How much have we lost…how much territory have we given over to the enemy?  Do you ever get tired of scoring a goal for the enemy? 
Do you ever hold back on your prayers…almost afraid to ask God for something in case it’s not His will?  Do you feel like you are protecting God’s reputation…and not putting Him on the line by asking for something boldly?  Are you protecting God or yourself from disappointment?  Does it hurt more when God says no because we know He has the power and ability to do what we ask…but for unknown reasons…it’s not His will.
If you died today…do you know where you would spend eternity?  Based on what? 

God’s Will

Oh how the enemy robs me
When I fail to yield to God’s will

When I want what I want…in my timing
Unwilling to wait upon the Lord

When I plan my ways according to my will
But the Lord directs my steps elsewhere

Then anxiety fills my heart and mind
The peace of God evades me

When I try to manipulate circumstances
Unwilling to admit they are far beyond my control

When I stand in judgment of people
Who just don’t cooperate and mess up my plans

Then frustration and anger reigns
Consumes my every thought

When I don’t trust that God is good
Unless He answers my prayers in the manner I deem best

When my prayers are orders
Instead of a humble petition to omnipotent God

Then I raise myself up
In place of God

Oh Lord, give me the mind of Christ
Help me to die to self daily, pick up my cross and follow You

Put me in the refiner’s fire
Consume any wicked way that remains in me

Help me to wait upon You Lord
With confident assurance all Your ways are good

Susan Bunts Wachtel
February 26, 2010

Recently I was reminded of a time in my life…when I wasn’t yielded to God’s will.  Some of that struggle went on after I became a Christian.  Praise God…He keeps on whittling away at my sinfulness and conforming me into the image and likeness of Christ.  It’s an ongoing work this side of heaven.