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By my 40th wedding anniversary, I learned about sacrificial love.

Always on our anniversary, we remember our wedding day.  And we celebrate another year of our love together.  I love to celebrate with my husband, Skip, and simply enjoy him.  This day marks our 40th celebration as husband and wife.  We lavish each other with gifts of kindness, attention, sweetness and well, love.  My heart is full of him all the time, but it simply bubbles over on such an occasion as this.  Sometimes, however, my heart has not always bubbled over for him because I have misjudged his motives and mine.  These were times when I had not yet learned to “die” to my own selfishness.

My desire is for my earthly husband.  God gives wives that desire.  But another desire exists…for my heavenly Husband.  God says that He is the Only One who knows the motives of our heart.  He is the Only One who will transform those motives to line up with His perfect motives.  Sometimes, my motives are not pure toward my husband, whether it be my husband of 40 years or my eternal Husband.  And, over the years, others have judged my husband with incorrect motives and have spoken unkind things about him.  But God says that He is the Only One who knows the motives of our heart.  He is the Only One who will transform those motives to line up with His.  God loves to show us about loving with His love – empty of our selfish desires; especially toward the ones that we love the deepest and most intimately.

My husband is a quiet, humble man of God who loves me and I believe that he would die for me.  He loves God and is saddened by the lies spoken against Him. He loves his country and is saddened by those who try to destroy it.  He loves his family and is saddened by anyone who wants to destroy them.  He loves God’s creation – all of it and it pains him to see destruction of God’s beauty.

God blessed us with four wonderful children who are now having children of their own.  Throughout the years as we raised our children, my husband had to demonstrate tough love on rebellion – at least to the extent that he understood how to be tough.  Sometimes our beloved children judged his toughness incorrectly and that hurt.  But, don’t we do the same thing with God?  We judge Him incorrectly because we don’t know His heart.  That saddens God.

In the past several years, I been seeking God’s heart as I desire to know Him and fall more deeply in love with Him.  I have been given the time to examine many areas of my life and my character as the Holy Spirit leads me.  I thought about my beloved husband of 40 years.  The trials have made us stronger.  Jesus is the Center of our marriage today.  But it wasn’t always that way.

Back Where You Belong by Jack Vittriano

Sometimes, we misjudged each other’s hearts.  We blamed each other for our failures.  But, because of grace and mercy, we began to ask God to examine our hearts, and they were not empty words.   Not only did we want to know each other’s hearts…I mean, really know, but we wanted to know our own hearts.  And we wanted to know our spiritual Husband’s heart…I mean, really know it.  As I discovered, neither husband is a hard taskmaster…at least not toward His beloved family.  And each  husband has the responsibility of helping his wife be all that she was created to be.

When we are born into the family of God, He looks at us in a new way.  God is always for us and He always loves us.  It’s just like when my husband and I were married, we looked at each other in a new way.  Sure, we understood our passionate love for each other at first but as we celebrated another and yet another anniversary, our love grew to include a deep companionship and deeper, more sacrificial love.

We are for each other and we love each other – as completely as we can understand.   Jesus loves us so much that He died so that “we” could be one with Him and enter into a sacred covenant with Him.  In the same way, my husband and I were joined together in a sacred covenant ordained by  God.  In that covenant, we have learned that we are to stop judging each other and love each other the same way that Christ loves us.  That’s supernatural – for without God’s hand in our marriage and in our lives, we would have perished.  We continue to lay down our own lives and die to our selfish desires – little by little – the same way that we lay down our lives for our spiritual Husband – little by little – until we are so entwined with Him that His will becomes ours and we become the fullness of each other in the sacred covenant.

It saddens me that so few couples are enjoying what we have been blessed to have.  People misjudge others.  People misjudge God.  People don’t forgive themselves or else blame God for stuff that the devil has done to them.  Immaturity – blindness – selfishness – sin.  All the attributes of the fallen sin nature of humanity.  Why do human beings reject the love of God towards them?  God says because the devil has blinded them.  Is God a hard taskmaster?  Some think so.  I did, for many years.  But, God already exhibited His tough love toward us – through His Son, Jesus, Whom He sacrificed for us.  Can love get any tougher than that?

As I consider my life and this occasion, my heart grieves for the deception of the people in the world who blame and misjudge our beloved Heavenly Father and Husband.

Father, use me to show others how wonderful You are.  Bring Your Bride’s heart into alignment with Your heart that we may be one.  Thank you for giving my husband and I forty years together to learn about love and You.

Letters from home…

Many years ago, during my basic training days in the United States Air Force, I looked forward to mail call just like every new recruit.  When I left for basic training, my husband, Skip, was my boyfriend.  He faithfully wrote to me every day.  Mail call always meant a letter from home.  I anticipated a letter from him and could hardly wait to open it when I got back to my room.  I clung to every word that he wrote, reading and re-reading each letter.  I cherished them and pondered them in my heart and thought about  him all day long.  What do you imagine the outcome would have been if I had thrown away all of those letters?  Or what if I would have simply tied them with a pretty ribbon and stacked them neatly in my drawer?  What a silly thought, you say, and I agree.

About half-way through “basic” (that’s military lingo), we were permitted to make a phone call (pre-cell phone days).  I greatly anticipated hearing Skip’s voice on the phone.  While talking to him, he asked me to marry him!  I accepted his proposal and a few days later, my engagement ring arrived during mail call.  Some of the other young women in the barracks shared in my excitement and said that I was so “lucky” to have such a loving, romantic fiance.  But some warned me about trusting him and that he may not mean what he said and “be careful that I don’t get hurt”.

Which voices did I choose to believe?  Of course, I believed the voice of my future husband and no one could persuade me otherwise.  Now, I began receiving two or three letters a day.  I was on his mind 24-7!  I was (and still am) his beloved.  I cannot even explain in words how my heart felt the day that I stepped off the plane once I finished “basic” and saw my husband face-to-face as he wrapped his loving arms around me.

Fast forward 40 years.  Last night, our pastor spoke about our hearts toward God and His heart toward us as He revealed deeper revelation from His Letter.  As I walked out of worship service with my husband, the Lord instilled a deeper love in my heart for Him and His letter to us: the Bible – His Letter from Home to every one of His beloved.

We are engaged to Christ for eternity.  I was pondering what had just been spoken to us through God’s Love Letter as God used His servant to impart the words to those who wanted to hear.  I considered the similarities and the differences between my earthly husband and my Heavenly Husband.  Why would I believe my imperfect earthly husband’s words and not believe my perfect Heavenly Husband’s words?  Should I put any less “weight” on the Love Letter from God than I did on those love letters from Skip?

God lovingly reminded me of my anticipation of Skip’s letters, of the promise of marriage and of the fact that I believed and clung to every word that my earthly husband spoke to me through his letters and through that one phone call.  Did I doubt anything that my future husband said to me?  Did I doubt his love for me?  Of course not!  Then, why is it that I sometimes doubt any word that God has written to me?  Why do I sometimes believe the voices of those who want me to doubt my future Husband’s love and plan for me?

Last night, I determined in my heart to read and re-read the Love Letter from Home with the same committed heart that I had as a young bride-to-be over 40 years ago.  My anticipation to hurry to my room and read His words to me has heightened.

Fellow “basic trainers”, our Husband-to-be is returning for His Bride one day soon.  Don’t be deceived by the voices of the enemy.  Read and re-read the Love Letter and cling to every Word that is written.  If your Beloved wakes you up at 3 a.m., get up and go spend a some time with Him.  He wants to talk to you.  We can trust Him to fulfill every Word that He wrote.  We can rest assured that God’s promises are true, that He is not a liar and this His thoughts toward us are good.  God loves and adores His betrothed and we are on His mind 24-7  – and even greater than that  – we are on His mind for eternity.  Just like I received my engagement ring – the promise of future marriage from my earthly husband, God sent His Holy Spirit to us until we see our Beloved.  Precious Bride of Christ, arise, for the world will soon know of God’s love for you as we draw near to the time when “basic” is over and we will see Him face-to-face.

You ain’t give up squat.

Does God take things away?  Job 1:21 says that the “…Lord gave and the Lord has taken away, blessed be the name of the Lord”.  In my human reasoning, (not the fruitful way to reason with God) I had trouble relating to a God who takes away.  From my personal experiences, I had much taken from me and I did not equate someone who takes away as someone who loves me.  See what I mean?  Consequently, I had a battle in the background of my mind about the love of God toward me if He takes things away.

Once again, God spoke through my pastor, Asa Dockery, and shed new light on a question that I pondered quietly for a few years.   Sometime in February – okay – I forgot to journal the date – but I wrote the expression because it caught my attention.  Pastor was quite expressive when he explained what our Lord said.  “Jesus said, “You ain’t give up squat.  Look at what I’m going to give you when you let it go.”  I love our pastor’s southern drawl and speaking style.  He pulls no punches.  Anyway, I considered what he said and the Holy Spirit spoke to my heart.

He brought to mind the times when all four of our children were infants and toddlers.  We had to go through a stage when each one had to give up their pacifier.  Our daughter had a favorite bear and one son had a favorite blanket as well as pacifiers.  Coaxing each one of them to give up their “security” took some doing.  I’m sure many can relate to what I am saying.  As their parents, we knew it would be very silly for them as young adults, still getting comfort from a pacifier.  Then God said to me, “well, you are still trying to get comfort from “this” and I have something better for you if you will give up your pacifier, Georgia.”

I cried, just like each one of our children did.  But not because I did not want to let my pacifier go, but because I realized that I had believed a lie about God’s character.  He never takes anything away.  We really don’t have to give up “squat”.  Just like we coaxed our young children gently into laying down their infant pacifiers so that they could pick up something better, God only asks us to do the same.  I think that many of His children are still carrying around their pacifiers.  By laying down the thing that was a temporary fix, we can pick up what God has for us.

Do you see it?  So, in actuality, God never asks us to give up anything – only to lay down something in order to pick up the next thing that He has waiting for us.  If you are holding on to something and are afraid to let it go, ask your Father to help you grow up.  Honestly, He has something better that brings much more comfort than an old pacifier.

What does the “sacrifice of praise” mean?

Hebrews 13:15

Amplified Bible (AMP)

15Through Him, therefore, let us constantly and at all times offer up to God a sacrifice of praise, which is the fruit of lips that thankfully acknowledge and confess and glorify His name.
God showed me something this past Sunday as I was worshiping.  My thoughts distracted me as I pushed to enter into His presence.  I was mentally thinking about my guests (first-time visitors) and how they would perceive the building, the service, etc.  I was thinking about the chains that the enemy has people bound in as I looked around the room and noticed that many could not raise their hands in praise and worship.  I was observing people and allowing my thoughts to wander about in the natural happenings in the sanctuary.  I had to press in.  So I closed my eyes and purposed to decrease so that He would increase.  I wanted the soil of my heart ready to receive good seed.  And He spoke quietly to me about the “sacrifice of praise” while worshiping Him.
Forget about the other people, what you are having for lunch today, what so-and-so said to you, your finances, your physical body, everything,, including what your guests will think.  Sacrifice all those thoughts to Me.  Enter into a praise of Me where  you  have sacrificed all of you, your circumstances, others all your thoughts about self and laid them at the foot of the Cross.  Then, worship Me.
That’s the sacrifice of praise.  Oh, that the Bride of Christ will enter into such an intimate place where only She can go.  Let us  not be distracted by outside thoughts when we are in the bed chamber with our Husband.

Will you past the test?

Testing occurs on a regular basis in the battle for your soul and today, I was given another test.  I had an opportunity to obtain an item for “free” that I really wanted and was a desire in my soul.  At first glance, I was excited about the “gift” from God.  I even had loved ones tell me it was a gift.  So, I made plans to go get the item.  But a problem arose.  I began having an uneasiness in my soul about the item.  So, I asked the Holy Spirit specifically to let me know if it was okay to obtain this item (valued at about $2,000) at no charge.  He began to whisper truth into my spirit.  I tried a few more times to “rationalize” the find as God and I talked back and forth.  But the uneasiness persisted and suddenly, my spirit was settled.  I knew, just like a teenager arguing with a parent about why she should have something (knowing that it was wrong, but wanting permission from her parent to do it anyway).  She suddenly realizes that her parent was right.

The peace of God flooded my soul.

Then, I saw it clear as day.  The enemy was trying to rob me of my future destiny by getting me to come into agreement with him, thereby opening my soul up to demonic spirits.  By my own permission, I would have allowed these spirits to mess with my blessings that God has in place for me.  I quickly repented and thanked God for His guidance.  He reminded me that I must be tested and tried and come through the test in order to receive promotion in the Kingdom.  Just like Jesus in the wilderness, Satan made the temptation seem right, even using Scripture.  But Jesus rebuked him and defeated him at his own game.  I did the same thing today.

It’s difficult to explain the joy in my spirit as I realized that I had passed a test which I had fallen victim to several times in the past.  What test?  Trying to obtain something that God says is good through methods that are not or before the timing and release of God to possess the item.  Pastor Asa Dockery just preached a message on January 29, 2012 about this very subject, called “After the Fast Has Ended” and today, I passed the test.

Thank you, Father, for perfecting me.

Why did You let these things happen to me, God?

One of my dear friends, Sue, posted this on her Facebook.  I don’t know the author, but I tweaked it a bit.  We blame God for many things that are not His fault.  In fact, nothing is God’s fault.  We need to grasp this and stop placing blame on our Beloved Father.  And, actually, this is how our conversation should be with our Papa!  Intimate!  Smile, God loves you.

Me : Father, can I ask you something?

GOD: Sure.

Me: Promise you won’t get mad?

GOD: I promise.  I love to reason with you.

Me (frustrated): Why did You let so much stuff happen to me today?

GOD: What do you mean?

Me: Well I woke up late…

GOD: Yes.

Me: My car took forever to start…

GOD: Okay….

Me (growling): At lunch, they made my sandwich wrong and I had to wait so long.

GOD: Hmmmm…

Me: On the way home, my phone went dead, just as I picked up a call.

GOD: All right.

Me (loudly): And to top it all off, when I got home, I just wanted to soak my feet in my foot massager and relax, but it wouldn’t work.  Nothing went right today!  Why did You do that?

GOD: Well let me see….. the death angel was at your bed this morning and I had to send one of the other angels to battle him for your life. I let you sleep through that.

Me (humbled): Oh…

GOD: I didn’t let your car start because there was a drunk driver on your route that might have hit you if you were on the road.

Me (ashamed): …

GOD: The first person who made your sandwich today was sick and I didn’t want you to catch what they have, I knew you couldn’t afford to miss work.

Me (embarrassed): Oh…

GOD: Your phone went dead because the person that was calling was going to give a false witness about what you said on that call, I didn’t even let you talk to them so you would be covered.

Me (softly): I see, Father.

GOD: Oh and that foot massager, it had a short that was going to throw out all of the power in your house tonight.  I didn’t think you wanted to be in the dark.

Me: I’m sorry, Father.

GOD: Don’t be sorry, I’m just trying to help you trust Me in all things, whether they seem good or bad to you.

Me: I will trust You, Father, forgive me.

GOD: And don’t doubt that My plan for your day is always better than your plan.  Remember, My thoughts are higher than your thoughts.

Me: I will remember, Father, thank You for everything today.

GOD: You’re welcome, my beloved.  Remember that I am with you always, even unto the end of the age.

What if we treat our Bible like a cell phone?

I received this in an email and copied it here.  I can’t give credit to the author because I don’t know who wrote it.  I cleaned up the grammar a bit.  There are people who love the Word of God more than their cell phones.

Have you ever wonder what would happen if we treated our Bible like we treat our cell phone?

 vs  
What if we carried it around in our purses or pockets?

What if we flipped through it several times a day?

What if we turned back to go get it if we forgot it?

What if we used it to receive messages from the text?

What if we treated it like we couldn’t live without it?

What if we gave it to our children and grandchildren as gifts?

What if we used it when we traveled?

What if we used it in case of emergency?

Hmm…where is my Bible?

Oh, and one more thing.

Unlike our cell phone, we don’t have to worry about our Bible being disconnected because Jesus already paid the  bill.  No dropped calls.

So, what are your priorities?

Do you “pick up” when God, Jesus or the Holy Spirit is calling you or do you “ignore message”?