Give Up Your Life

Ephesians 5:25 New Living Translation (NLT)

25 For husbands, this means love your wives, just as Christ loved the church. He gave up his life for her…

Last week, as we were cruising down the road through our little southern town, our ten year old son randomly asked “daddy, what would you give up in the whole wide world to be with mommy?” My groom looked over at me in the passenger seat. Our eyes widened, as if to say, “where did THAT thought come from?” The little man in the backseat repeated himself “what would you give up, dad?” Glancing back in the rearview mirror my groom confessed, “buddy….…I don’t know!”

IMG_6600My heart has silently been asking that same question since the moment I said, “I do” on May 18, 1996. For more than 21 years, I’ve longed for my husband to give up his life. Not to physically die, but to emotionally die to the things that steal his time and attention away from loving me. Fortunately, I have the privilege of saying that I’ve been the beneficiary of a man who has crucified selfish ambition, hobbies and bad habits in years past. Whether He was motivated by the Holy Spirit, or by my persistent “encouragement” the result was the same: He obeyed God and I reaped the overflowing reward: Love.

Listen up fellas! I’m gonna let you in on a secret:

If you lay down your life, your wife will feel loved.

When your wife feels loved, she will submit to you.

If both of you submit to the Lord and one another you will become one.

You may be thinking: “Dag gone it. I work my tail off every day, providing for my family…and she doesn’t even appreciate it!!!” I’m sorry about that. It’s incredibly ungrateful of her. It would be nice if she praised you for your work, but regardless, it’s your role. Read Genesis 2-3. Adam worked hard. It’s your “job” to provide food, clothing and shelter for your family. But just in case you think I’m being unfair, re-read Genesis 2-3. Do you have children? Eve had pain and so did your wife. Now read Proverbs 31. Does your wife manage the home? Does she have a “job” too? Does she train your children? Does she help others in the community and in the church?

Love her.

Give up your life for her.

It’s no more than what Jesus did for you. It’s no more than what He did for His bride, the church. He submitted His will to the Father every moment of every day. He worked. He served (and He wasn’t praised). He suffered. He was betrayed. He was mocked. He was beaten. He was falsely accused. He was crucified. He willingly gave up His life.

Give up your life.

You may be thinking: “how do I do that- practically?”

What are some things the Holy Spirit has been whispering for you to give up?

What are some things your wife has been persistently “encouraging” you to give up?

  • TV
  • Social Media
  • Video games
  • Hobbies
  • Sports
  • Alcohol
  • Drugs
  • Pornography
  • Prized possessions
  • Serving the community or church (but not your family)
  • An unhealthy relationship with a friend, family member, or co-worker

Here’s the challenge: Give it up for 40 days. See what God does in your life- and your marriage.

Love, Your Wife.

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Thorns, Cares & Riches

Matthew 13:22 (KJV)

 He also that received seed among the thorns is he that heareth the word; and the care of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, choke the word, and he becometh unfruitful.

Every summer, when I was a little girl, my mother would require my older sister and I to weed “the hill.”

Begrudgingly, we’d wake up in the wee morning hours to avoid the heat of the Southern California sun at midday, put on our garden gloves and start digging & pulling thorns out from the MASSIVE hill. (I may over-exaggerate a bit….but when you’re a kid, everything seems MASSIVE doesn’t it?!)

After several days of digging & pulling, “the hill” would be restored to its original beautiful landscape.

But you know what? By the next summer, we’d be out there digging & pulling MORE stinkin’ thorns!

Ugh.

Such is the case with children of God. We get saved and God gives us a glimpse of the beautiful landscape that He has planned for our lives. We soon discover, however, that as we seek His Kingdom, He begins to reveal hidden thorns that the enemy has planted on our hill! Yet, by His grace, we can believe His promise to deliver us and we can wake up in the wee morning hours, put on our garden gloves, and ask Him to start digging & pulling the cares & riches out!

Strong’s Concordance defines the Greek word for cares as merimna: “to draw in different direction, distract…that which causes a care, especially an anxious care.” Cares of the world can be any thorn the enemy plants in our mind that convinces us to believe a lie, instead of God’s truth. We can be distracted and anxious over our marriage, our children, our friends, our position at work, our position in the church- all of which choke out the Word, as people & position become more important to us than our Lord and Savior. Cares believe the lie that without the relationship or position, we won’t be loved or accepted. In short, we’ll be abandoned and alone.

Strong’s Concordance defines the Greek word for riches as pluotos: “wealth, money, possessions, abundance…used evilly.” Basically, it’s any tangible thing that we own which was obtained with a greedy heart. Riches believe the lie that God will not provide everything we need. It justifies “wants” as “needs.”

Our church just finished a sermon series on The Parables of the Four Soils in Matthew 13. Although it isn’t yet summer here in North Carolina (even though some days it feels like it!), the seed that I received from those teachings encouraged me to wake up in the wee morning hours, put on my garden gloves, and dig into the rich soil of God’s Word. I’ve come to realize that the enemy’s thorns will continue trying to choke out Truth to keep His Spirit from producing love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control in my life. BUT, I don’t need to worry, because Jesus is the way, the truth and the life. His Spirit will lead me into all Truth. When I seek Him, I will find Him. When I ask Him, He will reveal any cares of this world & deceitfulness of riches that have taken root in my soul. When I confess my sin to Him, He will forgive me. And if that weren’t enough, He’ll even restore my hill to its intended beauty.

Is your life producing love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control? Ask the Holy Spirit to show you any hidden thorns that are choking out His Word. Confess, repent and forgive for believing the lies associated with cares & riches. Choose to trust God in all things- and watch as He restores the landscape of your life into His intended beauty.

Carrying Men

Luke 5:17-26 (NLT)

17 One day while Jesus was teaching, some Pharisees and teachers of religious law were sitting nearby. (It seemed that these men showed up from every village in all Galilee and Judea, as well as from Jerusalem.) And the Lord’s healing power was strongly with Jesus.

18 Some men came carrying a paralyzed man on a sleeping mat. They tried to take him inside to Jesus, 19 but they couldn’t reach him because of the crowd. So they went up to the roof and took off some tiles. Then they lowered the sick man on his mat down into the crowd, right in front of Jesus. 20 Seeing their faith, Jesus said to the man, “Young man, your sins are forgiven.”

21 But the Pharisees and teachers of religious law said to themselves, “Who does he think he is? That’s blasphemy! Only God can forgive sins!”

22 Jesus knew what they were thinking, so he asked them, “Why do you question this in your hearts? 23 Is it easier to say ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or ‘Stand up and walk’? 24 So I will prove to you that the Son of Man[a] has the authority on earth to forgive sins.” Then Jesus turned to the paralyzed man and said, “Stand up, pick up your mat, and go home!”

25 And immediately, as everyone watched, the man jumped up, picked up his mat, and went home praising God. 26 Everyone was gripped with great wonder and awe, and they praised God, exclaiming, “We have seen amazing things today!”

There are Facebook “friends” – and there are loyal friends. Loyal friends become brothers in time of need. Brothers help. Brothers are carrying men.

Proverbs 17:17 (NLT)

17 A friend is always loyal, and a brother is born to help in time of need.

Carrying men will pick up on your sleeping mat. Carrying men will try to take you to Jesus. Carrying men won’t be intimidated by the crowd. Carrying men will go up to the roof and take the tiles off! Carrying men will lower your mat right in front of Jesus.

Carrying men have great faith.

Carrying men love God with all their heart, mind, soul & strength. Carrying men love you, as they love themselves.

Carrying men aren’t satisfied to sit beside you & hold your hand while you lie on yoursleeping mat. Carrying men aren’t satisfied IMG_3691watching you remain paralyzed with fear, pride, selfishness, unforgiveness, anger, sexual sin or unbelief. Carrying men aren’t satisfied until they help you get to where you need to be. Carrying men use the strength God has given them to pick you up. Carrying men know that Jesus is the way, the truth and the life. Carrying men believe that Jesus can forgive you from sin. Carrying men have faith that Jesus can heal you from paralysis!

Will you allow your carrying friends to take you to Jesus?

Will you receive forgiveness from the Savior of the world?

Will you obey the Lord’s command to stand up, pick up your mat and go home?

Surrender your will, my friend. Great wonder and awe of God awaits you, the carrying men – and the crowd.