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Love Lives Forever

God wants you to live in the moment. He wants you to savor every minute you have with your loved ones on this planet, but he also wants you to live with an eternal perspective.

Some time ago I was watching a replay of a football game on ESPN. I knew the outcome of the game because I’d seen the final score on the news before I watched the replay. My team won! Knowing I already had the victory changed the entire experience of watching the game.

As I watched the game unfold, there were times my team was losing. I started thinking to myself, Oh, no! We’re behind! We won’t be able to come back. This isn’t going to end well.

Then I would come to my senses and realize, Wait! The end is already decided. Victory is certain. We’ve already won!

When the opposition would score, it wasn’t pleasant to watch, but I could smile because I knew the final outcome.

You and I are living lives full of ups and downs. There are days that seem like a victory, and other days we feel defeated. On the hard days it’s easy to look around and become discouraged. It’s easy to feel like things are never going to work out.

I want you to be reassured with the truth of God’s eternal promises. The end of the story is already written, and we win!

Jesus has claimed victory. Through faith in him, we can rest assured that he will set all things right and make all things new. We’ll get to celebrate with him and with our loved ones forever.

Love isn’t a story with a happy ending. Love is a story with no ending!

When we choose to love people the way Jesus loves people, the world will change. Don’t treat others the way they treat you; treat others the way God treats you. Embrace the love of Jesus in your own life, and then model the example of Jesus in your relationships. Jesus changed the world with love, and he wants you and me to continue in this. He wants to give you a new heart and a new life.

When you step from this life into eternity, love will be all that matters. Live your life with a heart of love. You’ll be amazed at what will happen as a result.

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Battle Formations: The Battle of the Mind

You may be outnumbered but when God does battle on your behalf, you are NEVER out powered.

We all have battles that we fight on a daily basis.  Some are more intense than others.  Some we feel like we can win easily, while others take everything that we have. When we come to the end of ourselves, we have to call on something, rather SOMEONE bigger. There are a number of battles that we fight daily, sometimes on a moment to moment basis.  There is a battle raging around us all the time 24 hours a day. Most of the battles we have begin in the mind and spirit.

For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Ephesians 6:12

The Battle of Comparison and Insecurity

Don’t get me wrong, there may always be people who are smarter, who you may think look better than you, or people who have more than you.   Here is the thing though, you don’t know what kind of hell other people had to go through to get those things or to be the way they are.  You also don’t know if they are truly happy with what they have or who they have become. Count YOUR blessings, not those of someone else.

Theodore Roosevelt stated, “Comparison is the thief of joy”.  This is so true.  You spend so much time getting things, trying to improve your exterior that you forget that you need to work on the inside.  You forget to work on your spiritual man. Having more stuff isn’t going to fill the void in your life.  There is a void in your life that only God can fill.  Don’t compare your journey to someone else’s, you may be comparing your movie to their highlights.

Philippians 4:6 – Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, 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 our minds in Christ Jesus.

1 Samuel 16:7 – But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”

1 Timothy 6:17 – Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment.

Psalm 139:13-15 – For You formed my inward parts; You wove me in my mother’s womb. I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Wonderful are Your works, and my soul knows it very well.  My frame was not hidden from You when I was made in secret, and skillfully wrought in the depths of the earth.

Ephesians 2:10 – For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.

 

The Battle of Shame and Guilt

We often feel like because we are not like those around us that we should be ashamed.  We are ashamed of our past, things we have said and done. We often wonder, how in the world can God forgive us when we can’t even forgive ourselves?  My husband would say, who are you to not forgive yourself?  If God forgave you and paid the ultimate price so that you can have unconditional forgiveness, who are you to lord over yourself and not forgive yourself.  How are you going to make your unforgiveness of yourself more powerful than the forgiveness of God?  Is His forgiveness not enough?  I know that it is enough, but sometimes we are our own worst enemy.  We get so fooled by the enemy, that we become convinced that we are not worthy of forgiveness.  We choose to dwell to in our guilt and shame because as awful as it is, we feel comfortable there. It is what we know.

Romans 8:1 – Therefore there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.

1 John 3:20 – For whenever our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and he knows everything.

Psalm 103:10 – He does not deal with us according to our sins, nor repay us according to our iniquities.

 

Breaking down strongholds

2 Corinthians 10: 3-5 – For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. 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.

The apostle Paul says here that our job in this battle is to “destroy strongholds.” You know what a stronghold is? It is a mental block. Paul is talking about pretentions, arguments set up against the knowledge of God. This is a mental battle. And he says, “Destroy these strongholds.” A stronghold can be one of two things:

It can be a worldview, such as materialism, hedonism, Darwinism, secularism, relativism, communism, atheism. All of the different -isms are mental strongholds that people set up against the knowledge of God.

A stronghold can also be a personal attitude. Worry can be a stronghold. Seeking the approval of other people can be a stronghold. Anything that you make an idol in your life can be a stronghold — fear, guilt, resentment, insecurity. All of these things can be strongholds in your mind. And the Bible says that we are to tear them down.

Taking Every Thought Captive

Now look at the very last phrase in the passage: “take every thought captive to obey Christ.” Take captive every thought. The Greek word aichmaløtizø there means “to control, to conquer, to bring into submission.” We take captive. We make it submit. Every thought obedient to Christ. Make it obedient. The Greek word Hupakøe means “to bring into submission, to bring under control.”

But how do you do that? How do I make my mind mind? I have noticed that my mind doesn’t always mind. It is often disobedient. It is often very rebellious. It wants to go in a different direction. When I want to think a certain way, it wants to go another way. When I need to ponder, it wants to wander. When I need to pray, my thoughts want to float away.

The battle for sin always starts in the mind.

Paul talks about this in Romans 7, and he says, “I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. . . . Wretched man that I am!” (Romans 7:19, 24). The fact is, the reason we have so many ineffective Christians today is that they do not know how to fight the battle of the mind.

Four Principles for Winning the Battle for Your Mind

Keep in mind that the battle is in the spiritual realm.  Things may be chaotic in your physical world, but until you deal with the spiritual realm and your mind, anything you do in the physical won’t have much effect.

  1. Don’t believe everything you think. We naturally feel that if we think something, it must be true because it came from within us. Just because you think something, doesn’t make it true. The world puts suggestions in our minds that are false, and we are bombarded with false thoughts all the time. Our minds are
  2. Confused (Deuteronomy 28:20)
  3. Anxious, closed (Job 17:3-4)
  4. Evil, restless (Ecclesiastes 2:21-23)
  5. Rash, deluded (Leviticus 5:4; Isaiah 32:4)

The Bible talks about:

  1. Guard your mind from garbage. Just because you hear people talking about disturbing things, doesn’t mean you have to take all of that into yourself. Keep the attitudes of other people where they belong, on the outside of you. Also guard your mind from television, music, and other things that don’t build you up.  If you feel ashamed about indulging in certain things, or they make you feel insecure, then stop doing them.
  2. Never give up on learning. Knowledge is the cornerstone of credibility.  If you are secure in what you know, you are less likely to let false thoughts totally consume you.  You are able to combat fleeting thoughts with what you know. Become a lifelong learner. Love knowledge. Love wisdom. Learn to love the act of learning. The word disciple means “learner.” You cannot be a disciple of Christ without being a learner. Jesus said, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden [by the way, that sounds like a felt need!], and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me” (Matthew 11:28–29). What do you do when you take on a yoke? You share a burden with another animal. You lighten a load. And Jesus wants us to learn from him.
  3. Let God stretch your imagination. If we are going to learn, and teach others, how to fight the battle for the mind, we must learn how to let God stretch our imaginations. This is a part of the battle. This is part of thinking. Everything that happens in life begins with a dream. Somebody has to imagine it first.

    This is a gift that God gave to us: the ability to dream and envision and imagine something before it comes into reality. Every building we see was first imagined by an architect before it was built. Every piece of art was imagined before it was painted. Every song was imagined before it was written. Every athletic award, every gold medal, the athlete imagined before it ever happened. Every church that’s been started, somebody — either a group of people or a single church planter — imagined that church first. Rarely does anything happen until somebody starts dreaming.

    We need to become great, godly dreamers. Proverbs 29:18 says, “Where there is no prophetic vision the people cast off restraint.” The word “vision” relates to dreaming. It means a kind of revelation, a vision from God. And where there’s not this vision, this God-directed dreaming, the people “cast off restraint” — literally, they get “out of control.” When we do not have an overarching vision or dream or goal for our lives, our lives are out of control. What we need today are great dreamers.

Father Characteristics

Every good and perfect gift comes from the Lord, and that includes fathers. Fathers are central to a child’s well being. If a father is supportive, affectionate and involved that contributes greatly to social development, academic achievement, good self esteem and a strong core. A child’s relationship will affect all others. I figure out what is or isn’t acceptable from this relationship. Boys will try to model themselves after their father and girls will look for similar qualities and men as they grow up that are like their father’s.

Here are a few characteristics that are found in a good father.

Protector – everything under his auspices is assigned to him. He ought to be concerned for your well being and safety. A father is protective and it may get on your nerves but he wouldn’t be a good father if he wasn’t. He should be able to tell God that everything he was given, he kept well. He will protect against the enemy, stress, and trouble. He provides covering. Some things that he is protecting you from, you may never know about. Firstly, because he wants to protect you from it. Secondly, because as the covering he gets hit with it first and will do his best to divert it away from you. He will protect you from the blunt force of the wind. He is recognized for the fullness of his worth upon his departure.

Provider – A father provides, and not just money. But wisdom, friendship, camaraderie, knowledge, and insight. He has a giving spirit. He adds to your life. Your life is fuller and richer because he is in it. He is sensitive to your needs. It’s in his DNA. He is made in God’s own image and one of God’s names is Jehovah Jireh.

Promoter – A father promotes someone other than themselves. It’s about using his gifts to help others. God promoted His own Son, “This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased, hear Him”. A father knows the enemy is not fighting him over him; he is fighting a father over his family. He’s fighting him over what he has covered. Keep standing in the gap for those around you. Build up your staying power and uplift those around you.

Priest – A father is a priest over his home. God is the father over Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, once they became men. As a man you need a prayer life. You have to have a relationship with God. That is the only thing that will keep you standing. Pray without ceasing, because you will have problems coming to you without ceasing. Between work, wife, kids, and other things you will be bombarded, learn to turn it over to God. The only thing standing between you and God is lack of communication – prayer. You have to able to call on God and know that He will bring an answer. Your family should be more important to you than what you do.

Prophet – He prophesies to his children. He tells them what they can be, what they can become. He speaks to their destiny, not to their predicament. “You are better than this”. “You can go further than this”. “This is not the end of you”. Command your children to be blessed. Call them to their destiny.

Spring Cleaning

It is often said when you are spring cleaning that if it is something that you haven’t used or worn in the last 6-8 months, you should be rid of it. You are not using it and shoving it in the closet is not going to make you use it more. I am going through this process at home right now, trying to go through things that I don’t need and getting rid of things that I don’t. Most of this has been perpetrated due to my husband and I trying to combine households. It’s a learning experience, especially when I come with a house full of stuff all on my own. Some areas of the house can be a little cluttered at times as we are sifting through stuff.

Now that is just an instance of a physical house. Imagine how cluttered our spiritual houses are?

We carry around hurts and grievances from 15-20 years ago like it is really doing something for us. The only thing that it is doing is making you better, not better. Whatever you are upset about most of the time the other person has no clue and if they do, they don’t really care about enough to let it affect their lives. So why are you letting it affect yours and your spirit?

We clutter ourselves with thoughts, stress, and worries about things that we can’t change or do not have any control over. Most of the time we take those feelings and that anxiety and we bury it. That in itself is not healthy. What good is it doing you to keep filling up your spiritual closet with stuff that doesn’t serve any purpose?

Unfortunately, some of our clutter has to do with people. A person may have done something to us in the past and we are still holding on to unforgiveness in our hearts. That unforgiveness doesn’t really hurt them, but it’s killing you. The only way you will have peace is to either let go of what they did and forgive them or see if they will change their ways once you tell them how you feel. One way or the other you are going to have to let what happened, and/or them, go.

Sometimes we are so intent on holding onto a person just because they are there even though they serve no real purpose to our lives. Misery loves company but all company isn’t good. People draw on your energy and if they are not feeding you in return, what’s the point? If they are not bringing anything to the table of your life and all they do is pull up a seat to eat, what benefit do you get from that? Let go of the things and people that don’t serve you. I hear people often say that they are afraid to be alone, but you’re not alone if you have God.

Whatever is consuming your time and energy, is also consuming your spirit. So get rid of the Clutter and make room for God. Stop trying to fill the void in your spirit with stuff and people. It’s not fair to you and it’s definitely not fair to the other people around you. You can’t try to put people in a position to do things for you that only God can do. You can’t promote people to positions in your life that they were not called to be in. At some point you’re going to have to get alone and get vulnerable with God because He is the only one that is in total control and He is the only one that can truly give you the peace you need. However, that can only happen when you declutter your spirit.

Clean house. Make room. Be set free.

Welcome to the Threshing Floor

King David was known for being a great warrior and God had given him victory over all his enemies.  Here’s the thing:  because of all those victories, he started to become too confident, a little too full of himself and starting to forget who helped him with all those victories.  He began to put more faith in his armies than in the God of his armies.  So, the Lord became angry once again and David’s mind was turned so that he took a census of all the fighting men.  Of course, when he had done so, David realized he had sinned and wanted to repent.  He knew there would be punishment, and after giving David a few choices to pick from, God brought a plague. When the death angel had his hand stretched out to destroy Jerusalem, the Lord stopped him.  At that point the angel was at the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite.  David went to Araunah and asked to buy the threshing floor.  Araunah, being the willing servant, offered to give it to David for free.  David would not accept that.  He wanted to build an altar to God there being that is where God had stopped the angel.  However, he wasn’t going offer a sacrifice on an altar that didn’t cost him anything.  If he was going to give a gift to God, he knew it would have to cost him something.  David paid 600 shekels for the site and built the altar on the Araunah’s threshing floor on Mount Moriah.

This very site is the place were David’s son Solomon would build the temple.

This is the place where Abraham was tested by God, where he offered up his only son Isaac as a sacrifice.

Jesus, the only begotten Son of God, would become the ultimate sacrifice for mankind’s sins very near this same spot.

Threshing floor: (1)a specially flattened outdoor surface circular or paved (2) inside a building made of stone or wood where a farmer would thresh grain harvest and winnow it.   It is wear the grain is separated from the chaff (corn husks, trash, or fodder).

Sometimes God must bring us to the threshing floor to separate the dead things that are weighing us down. Sometimes those things that don’t conform to His purpose for us, have to be pressed out. Sometimes He brings us there as discipline in response to our actions.  Believe it or not, discipline is done out of love and can be an act of grace itself.

How can that be?  Grace is supposed to feel good.

Well…

Grace doesn’t always look gracious.

You must pay the price for the grace God has given you. An invoice is going to come.  Grace brings you to the threshing floor.

You might ask, how can you have grace and trouble?  Everything costs.  While you may elevate, other things around you will go down.

Sometimes it feels like all hell is breaking loose.  How can this be favor?  How can this be grace?  Like I said all that hell you are going through can be the result of God removing things from your life that no longer serve a purpose, or He is trying to change you and has prodded you, but you didn’t listen to His voice. There must be a pressing, a shaking, re-shaping.

It’s time to pay up.  Put up or shut up.  It’s affliction time, it’s struggle time, it’s endurance time.

After being anointed, lifted, and exalted…. Now when you look around the dead and dying are everywhere.

Anybody can go through life when the grace is being poured out on you, but when it looks like you are going from blessed to cursed, who will still stand?  If it comes too easy, does it mean anything?  How can you offer God something that cost you nothing?  If Jesus couldn’t get through this life without suffering, what makes you exempt? God is touched by our feelings and by our infirmities. How can you offer something you can’t feel?  Or have no attachment to?  It’s easy to be generous with another people’s money. It’s easy to be generous when you are not losing anything, when you don’t have to give up anything.  Jesus had to give up His life to pay for our salvation.  He has asked to die to ourselves and become living sacrifices.

Sometimes we have to sacrifice our comfort. Sometimes we have to come off of the mountain and travel through the valley. After we have been pressed and purified, we become stronger so that we can withstand bigger obstacles. The pressing is for a purpose.

God can’t give us everything on credit (grace), we must pay a price (suffering, tribulation).  Your experience is too important to be missed.  There are certain things you can only learn about God through suffering on the threshing floor.

Your experience with God may not be like mine.  Don’t judge your walk with God by comparing with someone else’s. You can’t get what I got just by running up to me and me touching you. Just like I couldn’t get what someone else has gotten from God just by being there either. It costs more than that.  You have no idea what I have paid, what I have had to give up, or what I have had to lay down before God. You have to cry longer than that.  You have to suffer longer than that.

You have to cry with me.

You have to suffer with me.

You have to curl up in the corner and die with me.

You have to throw up your hands and be frustrated with me.

You have to feel like you can’t take another day with me.

After you have suffered awhile….

I didn’t become a wife because I got a ring.  I got the last name in an instant, but I will spend decades earning it, crawling through it, paying full price.  Respect is never given, it must be earned.

I didn’t become who I am at my job just because I got hired.  I got a title, but I had to show and prove that I was worth more, that I needed to be promoted.  I had to suffer through years (10) with no raise, no promotion, no outward recognition until it all came flooding to me over the last two years. I had to earn it.

Men and women don’t become fathers and mothers just because a child is given to them. Yes, the child is in their care; but they have to suffer through the growing pains, the tantrums, the successes and failures, the late nights and early mornings.  They have to have show themselves approved to be fathers and mothers.

Whatever it is that you are wanting God to do for you, you are going to have to do some work to get it.  There is going to be an opportunity cost. You may have to suffer for it, you may have to go through a pressing process. It isn’t the thing that you want that will change you, but the journey it takes to get there. Welcome to the threshing floor.

God’s Letter to the Third String Wife

Yeah, I know how the title looks, but hear me out first…

The title may be how this begins, but it is not how this ends.

Third string: Of a decidedly lower quality or condition

God and I have been having heated discussions lately over the past few weeks. They have mostly been over the perception of myself. I have always had issues with confidence or feeling like I was worthy. That all stems from a lot of things that happened a long time ago. It’s a long story that I will save for another day.

At any rate, I often feel like I am the third string wife for my husband. There are several reasons why. First, I am not his first wife. We are each other’s third spouse. What can I say, it doesn’t work out for everyone the first time. We both had trials to get through, some more painful than others, that brought us to this point. So because I am coming along later in his life, there are a few things that he has done in his previous marriages that I won’t experience. There are things that I can’t experience with him. He’s had the kids, dealt with them going through school and growing up, bought the house, done the family trips, and started planning for retirement. A lot of that I have already missed out on, and there isn’t much I can do about it.

There are a lot of things I want to do, that he is already beyond. He is a great companion and I am sure that he feels the same way about me, but sometimes I have a fear that I am not bringing enough to the table. With everything he’s already gone through as far as benchmark life moments, I often don’t feel like there is much I can contribute. I am a lot smarter and wiser after having gone through the things I have, I know how to pick my battles, and I am not as easily swayed emotionally as I was before. Yet, what do I have to offer?

Then God spoke to me and said:

Dear Daughter, Your opinion of who you are, is not a true reflection of who you are in Me. I can see why you feel the way you do based on your human experience, but let Me explain something to you. I knew you before you were formed in your mother’s womb (Jeremiah 1:5). You had a name before your parents named you and that is how I know you. Nothing I placed in you is “third string”. I uniquely created you. I took my time creating you, I didn’t find random material laying around hoping it would work in order to create you, you weren’t just thrown together. Every part of you and everything in you, was put there on purpose; and where there is purpose, there is power.

Let’s talk about your husband. He loves you, more than you realize (you’ll get there). Trust Me when I say, that there is nothing that says “third string” to him. He took his time dating you, getting to know you, even though a serious thing wasn’t a part of his plan at that time. Of course that was understandable based on what he had been through, however, it was a part of MY plan. How do you explain two people who really didn’t see much of each other at work, even though they are at the same place, suddenly finding themselves running into each other repeatedly? It wasn’t chance or coincidence, it was Me. There are some things that you have that he needs and vice versa. The two of you draw on each other.

Now you may be third, but you are not in last place or inferior. Look at the number 3. It is a number of completeness. There were three righteous patriarchs before the flood, Abel, Enoch, and Noah. There were three after, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. There are 27 books in the new testament, 3x3x3… completeness to the third power.

My Word is divided into three parts: The Law, The Prophets, and The Gospels.

Time is divided into the past, present, and future.

My ministry only lasted for three years. I was crucified at the third hour, but I rose on the third day.

String: a cord, usually to bind, fasten, or tie. The gut, wire, or nylon cord of a musical instrument.

There are three cords or strings to a marriage: God, husband and wife.

You’ve have come along in the third quarter of your husband’s life but you are no third string wife.

Some of My “Third Stringers”:

David: the youngest of Jesse’s sons, kind of a nuisance to his brothers. Later in life he became king of Israel and was one of the greatest kings. A scepter would come out of his blood line that would come to save His people.

Joseph: He was favored by his brothers and despised by his brothers. He sold off and thought to be dead, only to become second to Pharaoh in Egypt.

Moses: He was banished from Egypt after murdering a taskmaster and spent 40 years as an outcast. Yet he was used to set Israel free an lead them to the land promised to Abraham.

“Though thy beginning was small, yet thy latter end should greatly increase” Job 8:7

A lot can happen in the third and fourth quarters of life. You can choose to get your second wind or you can falter and give up. I have not given you the spirit of defeat or inferiority.

I know what I placed in you and I know that you can push through anything with the fire you have within you.

This is just the beginning.

Marrying Boaz

Every girl dreams of the guy that she is going to marry.  She already has it in her head well before she hits marrying age what she wants in a husband.  The physical details such as body type, height, eye color and hobbies are all things taken into consideration.  When we are younger we tend to either draw up who we are dating at the time (which often, we don’t marry), or a fantastical dream that no one will ever be able to live up to. I am a smart girl, I had a good idea of what I wanted.  I knew how it would all turn out, right?  Wrong!  After two failed trips to the altar, I pretty much gave up on it.  I wasn’t looking for it and had almost become quite content to just stay single especially since dating in these days and times can be quite treacherous.  Then, in walks Boaz.

Don’t get me wrong, I learned valuable lessons from those relationships. I learned what I would and would not tolerate. Most importantly, I learned my worth and that it wasn’t my job to make someone else see it.  It surely wasn’t my duty to accept less than that what I deserved because the person I was with wasn’t willing to step up to the plate.  While I was mulling all these things over and taking mental notes of these things, in walked Boaz.

It usually happens when you aren’t looking.

The funny part is that Boaz and I were not looking for each other and when we did cross paths. When we did decide to hang out it was going to be strictly friendship because we both had been screwed over and neither of us was in a hurry to go through that again.  So that was the deal, we can hang out from time to time, but we were just going to be friends.  Yeah, well that lasted about three weeks. God has a sense of humor.

Casually dating quickly turned exclusive although it would take almost a year for either of us to really call it what it was. Again, there was that fear.  If we give it a name, it may not last or it can be easily attacked.  If no one knows what is going on, then no one will know how to attack it.  Through a couple of misadventures and a couple of twists, four years later we are married.  Now he wouldn’t call himself a Boaz, but here is what makes him Boaz to me.

 

He is worthy

  • He has great character and a good reputation.
  • He has a solid relationship with God and he is continually trying to nurture it. This is an important thing for a woman to know. How can you submit to a man, who isn’t submitted to God? We are equally yoked and each of us are trying to grow in our relationship with God.  We are both trying to serve Him and live out the call on our lives (even though I am still trying to figure out exactly what mine is).

He is a protector

  • I can honestly say that my husband always has my best interests at heart. He is always aware of where I am, even when I am not.  If he senses danger, he is quick to guide my path elsewhere.
  • He makes me feel safe whenever he is near. Just as God is my spiritual hedge, my husband has proven to be my physical one.

 

He is a provider

  • If I ever need anything and ask it of him, if it is in his capability, he will provide it.
  • He is responsible and prioritizes the things that need to get done.
  • He makes me feel secure and I know that I am on solid ground with him.

He is observant

  • This is a quality that I noticed about him when we were dating. He was fully aware of things that I didn’t think he was paying attention to. The little details and small things that I mention, maybe only once, he remembers.
  • He observes not only my outer qualities, but my inner ones as well. He encourages me, even when I don’t have the willpower to encourage myself.
  • He studies me. He has figured out a lot of the little things that make me tick.  He knows my likes and dislikes, but also why I like and dislike certain things.  He remembers the smallest details and uses those things when he is trying to surprise me.

He is compassionate

  • When I hurt, he hurts. He tries to understand why I feel down when I do and will try to find a way to fix it. When he can’t, he will let me cry and vent and envelop me with his arms until I get it all out.
  • When I am stressed out he does everything in his power to help me unwind and create an atmosphere of peace.
  • He has no problem blessing others. He is kind and loving to the least of men.
  • He edifies his fellow believers

He is a man of integrity

  • He does the right thing even when no one is watching, even when he gets no benefit from it.
  • He heeds wise counsel. He can admit when he is wrong.
  • He has nothing to hide, all his strengths and flaws are laid bare.

 

Just as Boaz in the Bible redeemed Ruth, my husband redeemed me.  Well he redeems me continually.   When I feel like I am down to nothing and feel unworthy, he calls me by his name and uplifts me. When I feel like it might “cost” too much his time or his energy to pour into me, he does it anyway.

But that is just what a Boaz does.

Take Possession

Then Joshua asked them, “How long are you going to wait before taking possession of the remaining land the Lord, the God of your ancestors, has given you?”  Joshua 18:3

God has given us all kinds of things, but do we actually possess what He has given us?  How often do we sit on the sidelines waiting?  Waiting for the opportune time, waiting for the conditions to be right, waiting for us to be right in our feelings, waiting for someone to help us do it?

When we possess something, we occupy it, we take dominion over it.  To possess something, you have to rule over it.

Here is what the Lord asks:

I have given you dominion over all the things of the earth, yet you sit back afraid to step into your destiny.  How long will you let your petty feelings keep you prisoner?  How long will you let your emotions possess you before you possess them?

I have given you strength and power of a sound mind, but you can’t seem to focus on the things that are good for you.  Not the things that you think are good, but the things that I know are good for you. How long will you let your thoughts possess you before you possess them?

I have created you to be salt and light, yet you cower in darkness and try to blend in with the world by covering yourself with its dirty seasoning.  Come forth and possess the stage that you were meant to?  How long will you be possessed by the flavor of the month before you become the flavor of the earth?

I have given you the Truth yet you still choose to feed yourself with lies.  How long will you let the hunger and thirst possess you before you control and possess it?

I have given you the whole world so that you would go out and make disciples.  I have given it to you so that you can spread the good news to all.  How long will you let the world possess you before you possess it?

I have laid it all out for you, the blessing is there for your taking.  Go possess it!

 

New Name, New Creature

I am currently going through a phase that many women experience after they get married.  The name change phase.  It is an exciting time, but it can be very frustrating.  Depending on where you have to change your name, there can be many hoops to jump through.  Let’s just say it was a lot simpler to change my name on my credit cards than it was at work or at the DMV.  Don’t get me wrong, I understand that there are protocols for everything, but it just seems there was a lot more hassle than was really necessary.

At any rate, it’s a very exciting time!  You are becoming a different person.  The old name has passed away and now everyone has to get use to calling you by your new name.  You have to get accustomed to hearing your new name and writing/signing it.  As much as I love my husband, it is still taking some time getting familiar with being called by his last name.  I am still very early on in signing with my new name, so at times, I have to take a moment to be sure not to sign my former name.

Then there are moments that tend to be a little heavy.  I have this person’s name.  I have become uniquely bound to this person and their name. What is in a name?  Well, now you share that name with your spouse’s family.  You are now a member of that family. Whatever the reputation is of that family, you now carry it with you. You have now taken on a new identity, whether you realize it or not. That is not to say that you are no longer your own person, only that the actions you take not only affect you, but those associated with that name. You can make the name greater or you can do things that dull it.  The choice is entirely up to you.

In the same way that taking on your husband’s name in effect places a new mantle on your shoulders, so does that of a person coming from the world who takes on the name of Christ and becomes a Christian.

You go through the same things when you first start this journey.  You have to get use to being and acting like a Christian.  You have to get accustomed to being called one.  You have to understand the responsibility you have when you walk around carrying the name of Christ as your mantle.

Again, what’s in a name?:

Character is in a name. Reputation is in a name..and when we look at Jesus, all these things reside there: Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Isaiah 9:6

If you are carrying His name, that is who you represent.  Now when we first become Christians, just like with an earthly marriage, it is an exciting time.  Just like in an earthly marriage, we take pride in the name and we do our best to represent it well.  Somewhere along the way, we forget why we took the name and we forget the reverence we once held for it.  We start to just focus on ourselves, what we can get done for ourselves, without regard for who we represent.

I am not my husband, obviously.  Yet, when I go somewhere, people see him.  Why? Because I carry his name.  My actions good or bad, are going to reflect back to him.  If they are bad, trust me someone will make sure he hears about them before anything else. The same thing is true with Christ.  We represent Him, and when people see us, they should see Him.  That isn’t always reflected in our actions.  Good or bad, God sees it all and thankfully for us He is a lot more forgiving than our human counterparts when we don’t represent Him well.

When you take on a new name, you become a new creature.  The old things are passed away.  You now have a fresh start. You have to be mindful of the name that you carry. Don’t get me wrong, some people will only remember you by the name you had in the past.  Just like some people only remember you by the sin you formerly committed before you became a Christian.  Here’s the thing, if that is all they can remember about you, then they don’t need to move to the next level with you anyway.  You should leave them in the past that they seem to be stuck on.

Focus on the new mantle that you have taken on and represent it well.

 

A New Beginning

Isaiah 9:6

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders.

And he will be called

    Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,

    Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

In the Old Testament the law was given as a way to obtain forgiveness from sin.  There’s only one problem:  We couldn’t fulfill the law ourselves.  There are 613 commandments in the Mosaic law.  There was no way we would be able to keep all of that straight. Then, if you broke one part of the law, you broke it all. The penalty for sin is death and there was no way we could save ourselves.  It wouldn’t have mattered how many sacrifices we made, there was no way for us to have relationship with the Father.  Once we were cast out of the garden,  the veil had been put up between  us. We needed something or someone bigger than us to pay our debt.

Jesus came as the Word made flesh that He might bear the yoke of His people Israel and become the bridge to close the gap between Israel and the Father. He counsels His people, beginning with the disciples, even now on how we should live life and emulate Him, so that we might be pleasing to the Father. He is the Mighty God, the one who was, and is, and is to be.  He is in the past, the future and in the present. He is all knowing, all seeing, and ever present.  Although He brought the sword, He also brings a peace beyond all understanding when we focus our attention on Him instead of our troubles.

Yet before we would know Him as all these things, He had to come to us in the flesh, something we could feel, touch, and understand.  He came in human form so that He would be akin to us.  He looked like us, yet provided an example of how to live. Can you imagine having God Himself walk with you in the flesh daily through life? No one could. Many people of His time  didn’t even believe that He was who He claimed to be until after His death. What a gift that they had been given! To have Christ be right there with you yet still miss the opportunity to know Him had to be an incredible feeling of sorrow. Even still He provided a way for us to know Him.

However I digress. His birth was the dawn of a new age. His coming fulfilled every prophecy spoken in the Old Testament. He fulfilled the law that we would never be able to fulfill ourselves. The government was put upon Him because Jesus was the only one who could bear it. He made it very simple for us to come to Him and the Father, yet even now many of us take it for granted.  Remember today while we celebrate His birth, that this son was given for all mankind, including you.

He has already come and made the way, you just have to walk it out.