Friday, October 26, 2007

I Represent Him

Anthony and I have been reading The Blessed Marriage written by our pastor and his wife. After the introductory chapters of this book, Robert takes 3 chapters and writes directly to the man and focuses on the role and responsibilities of the husband. Then Debbie takes the next 3 chapters and writes directly to the wife, focusing on her role and responsibilities.

Tonight, as I was soaking in the tub, I picked up this book with the intent of re-reading those 3 chapters dedicated to me. As I read, I highlighted the significant and poignant passages that spoke to my heart. When I finished, I crawled into bed, picked up my laptop and typed up all the parts I had just highlighted. I wanted to have a list of the points that shouted loudly to me so that I could read through them as often as I wanted to, without having to rifle through the pages of the book.

Some of these principles are a call for change in my life - others are reminders of the blessings I already have with Anthony. I couldn’t simply kill myself with change, change, change... I also needed to encourage myself with what I already experience in my marriage.

After I finished typing, I got a call from my husband (who’s out of town on business) and I read him my list. As I began to read the first key point, I was prompted by the Holy Spirit to put each sentence into the first person narrative and use active, present-tense verbs. Basically, I was to personalize what Debbie had written and make these points mine to embrace. What a different perspective each thought took on as I changed the pronouns from “you” to “I” and from “your” to “my”. You’ll see what I’m talking about as you read the list.

I wanted to share many of these points, not only as a way to encourage you (if you’re female and married) but also to get you to think. I know putting the ‘stand out’ tenets in a list where they can’t hide among the text definitely put my mind and heart into gear.

“Heavenly Father, I pray that you will change me by changing my heart. That You will help me to embrace each point listed here (where change is required) and take these to You each day in prayer. Father, thank you for my husband and for Your gift of marriage. May I one day be the wife who examples each of these traits without hesitation.”

Honor is the key to my husband's heart.

However my husband acts, it is my privilege and responsibility to respond to him with honor.

If I choose to honor my husband, might I be releasing him to do incredible things?

Wives are to respect and honor their husbands. Ephesians 5:33

Respect is a verb insinuating "to lift up the face."

Honor is my husband's number one need. Anthony is my husband; I cannot allow his needs to be met by someone else.

If I see how my disrespectful attitude is harming my marriage and holding my husband back from becoming the man God wants him to be, I know that I need to change.

First, I must recognize that my husband was a gift to me from God and is the head of my household. That demands my respect.

Second, my husband deserves respect for his hard work.

Finally, I should honor my husband because of the man he can become. This is called providential honor because it speaks of divine guidance.

Faith for Anthony's best is honoring because I am agreeing with God that Anthony can become an even greater man of God. I honor him for what he will become tomorrow.

Honoring in word and deed: Matthew 12:34-35 - "How can you, being evil, speak good things? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good things, and an evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth evil things."

My words have the ability to boost or deflate Anthony's potential.

Death and life are in the power of the tongue. Proverbs 18:21

I must make a conscious decision to work with God instead of against Him to release supernatural power through Anthony into our marriage and family.

Satan loves to harass me with Anthony's faults in an attempt to steal, kill and destroy our marriage. I know his schemes though, and I choose not to believe his lies. I opt for life in my marriage through honoring instead of death to our relationship through dishonoring.

I will learn to honor my husband not just in my heart and with my words but also by following his desires. As his wife, I represent him. Thus I should respect who he is by following his desires.

Even when Anthony messes up, I am still to honor him.

I know Anthony better than anyone on earth, and I know he is not perfect... but it is my joy and my privilege to keep his weaknesses between the two of us. When I do this I create a safe haven for him to take refuge in. Anthony's heart safely trusts mine.

If I have ever gone along with my husband's ways with a reluctant heart, I have been an obedient wife but not a submissive wife. Obedience is what I expect from our children; it is not how I should respond to my husband. Submission flows from a willing heart, I will yield my will even if I don't agree with or understand my husband's decisions.

Submit to God (James 5:7) and only trust in Him (Provers 3:5). If I am submitting to the Lord by submitting to my husband, then I can confidently ask God to move on my behalf.

Honor is my husband's greatest need; sex is his second greatest need.

God made my husband and me to be lovers. He wants us to be exhilarated with one another.

Satan loves to lie to me about my husband. If I choose to listen to the fictitious tales the enemy spawns, I fall right into his hands and away from the embrace of my husband.

If Satan can distract my mind and prejudice my thoughts against my husband, he has succeeded in entrapping me in selfishness. If I want to foil Satan's attacks on my marriage, I must start by fighting back on the battleground of my mind.

Only God can change hearts and minds... I can't. When I discover something in my husband's heart that is less than virtuous, I will give it to the Lord.

My husband is far more likely to change his mind in response to a question that causes him to rethink his position than if I blast him with my opinion. As a godly companion for my husband, I need to know how to communicate and express my concern in a manner that does not contradict my submission.

Submitting to my husband's headship does not mean surrendering my voice in his life. I will commit ahead of time to accept his response no matter what it is; to trust God to change his heart and refuse to force my side on him; and to approach him with humility at the right time.

Just as our young love is nurtured by spending time in some form of recreation, our old love will mature with time shared together!

Anthony loves to have fun with me, and I love being the one he has fun with. We are best friends.

When I walk closely with God, my relationship with my husband becomes easier. Filled with the Spirit of God, I am be able to honor my spouse with my words and actions.

My destiny lies in denying my fleshly desires so that I can be the companion my husband needs. When I meet his needs, I am fulfilling my calling in life.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Falling in REAL Love

This past Friday, God called Anthony and I to fast for the day. During my time with the Lord that morning, I spent time in prayer seeking God’s direction on the “topic” we believed was the purpose of our fast. In the midst of praying, God softly spoke to my heart and asked me what I wanted - not from the fast - but from Him. I told Him that I wanted to know, for the first time in my life, what it was like to REALLY fall in love with Jesus. Yes, I believe in Jesus Christ as God’s Son, I have asked Him to come take residence in me, I read my devotions every morning, I say my prayers, and I do my best to teach what I know to my kids so that as they grow older they will come into a mature and deep relationship with their Savior.

But who am I kidding? If, at 40, I can say that I still want to know what it feels like to REALLY fall in love with Jesus, then how can I expect from my children what I don’t experience myself?

So, when God spoke to my heart and asked me, “What do you want?”, I told him. I want to fall in love... with Jesus.

I know what it’s like to fall in love. I have a husband, I have children, and I have family and friends. To varying degrees and in different ways, I am in love with all of them. If I find it easy to understand love - falling in love - with one of these, why haven’t I completely fallen in love with Jesus? He is the one who has saved my soul from the pit of hell; He is the one in whom Eternal Life is given to me; He is the one who I run to when I’m in need; and He is the one who comes and sits with me while I worship.

“It’s a simple answer”, God spoke to my heart. “You know so much about Him, you’ve given your heart to Him, and your life is changed because of His death on the cross.” And this is where God brought my question to light...

“But, you don’t really know Him. How can you expect to fall in love with Jesus when you’ve never taken the time to really get to know him?”

And God was right. I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that my heart belongs to Jesus. I know that I will never turn away from the only way to eternal life with the Father. I know that Jesus lives and he longs to sit with me, minister to me, teach me, and worship with me. The only thing I don’t know is... Him. Why? Because I’ve never - yes, that’s right - never taken the time to read through the Gospel books of the Bible from start to finish. Yes, this is my confession, of sorts. I have delved through chapters, have memorized certain scriptures, and know of so many of the miracles he performed. But, I’ve never disciplined myself to actually read through each of the Gospel books from “cover to cover”.

So, I asked God, “What can I do?” And He answered, “Read my Word”. So, I asked, “What do you want me to read?” He said, “Matthew. Start with chapter 1 and don’t read anything else until you are finished with this book. Then read the next book, Mark, and don’t read anywhere else in the Bible until you are done with it.” Do you see the pattern God was creating for me? One last instruction from the Lord was that I was not to read through Matthew with the intent to study it. I was to read through it as if I were reading the autobiography of Jesus. Read the life of My Son so that you can know Him.

So, I did start. I opened up to the book of Matthew and just started reading. Today - this morning - I read a couple more chapters and discovered something... It’s one thing to open up to a chapter in one of the Gospel books and read an individual passage or story about, or from, Jesus. It’s one thing to acquaint yourself with Jesus feeding 5,000 from a few fish and a couple loaves of bread or turning water into wine. BUT, it’s something special to just sit and read through the life of Jesus, from one page to another, from one parable to another, from one miracle to another, and understand Jesus for who He is in whole.

As I read, I am realizing an even bigger truth... that I - not Jesus - have held myself back from falling in love. But I know this... at 40 my heart is falling.

Friday, October 19, 2007

You're Blessed When...

When Jesus saw his ministry drawing huge crowds, he climbed a hillside. Those who were apprenticed to him, the committed, climbed with him. Arriving at a quiet place, he sat down and taught his climbing companions. This is what he said:

"You're blessed when you're at the end of your rope. With less of you there is more of God and his rule.

"You're blessed when you feel you've lost what is most dear to you. Only then can you be embraced by the One most dear to you.

"You're blessed when you're content with just who you are—no more, no less. That's the moment you find yourselves proud owners of everything that can't be bought.

"You're blessed when you've worked up a good appetite for God. He's food and drink in the best meal you'll ever eat.

"You're blessed when you care. At the moment of being 'care-full,' you find yourselves cared for.

"You're blessed when you get your inside world—your mind and heart—put right. Then you can see God in the outside world.

"You're blessed when you can show people how to cooperate instead of compete or fight. That's when you discover who you really are, and your place in God's family.

"You're blessed when your commitment to God provokes persecution. The persecution drives you even deeper into God's kingdom.

"Not only that—count yourselves blessed every time people put you down or throw you out or speak lies about you to discredit me. What it means is that the truth is too close for comfort and they are uncomfortable. You can be glad when that happens—give a cheer, even!—for though they don't like it, I do! And all heaven applauds. And know that you are in good company. My prophets and witnesses have always gotten into this kind of trouble.

Matthew 5:1-5 (The Message)

This morning God drew me near to Him. He spoke to my heart as I listened. He asked me to open His Word and He directed me to what He wanted me to read. One of the passages I read was Matthew 5 - more specifically, the Beatitudes. I’ve never read this passage before from The Message Bible, and it struck me how alive the words now seemed to me - as if I were reading them for the first time. I drew comfort, understanding, peace, and encouragement from reading the words of Jesus. I’ve kept my Bible open to this passage since reading this morning. I’ve gone back and read them again. And as I sit here typing this blog, I’m reading them again. It never ceases to amaze me how Christ’s words hold so much life in them, even when He says that I’m blessed when... I’m at the end of my rope, and I feel I’ve lost what is most dear to me. To the world, these statements would seem to be dichotomous. How can one be considered blessed when they’re at the end of themselves or have lost what is most dear or are persecuted for their commitment to God? It’s amazingly simple - yet so hard to live out on a daily basis, minute after minute.

With less of me... there is more of God!