Up for a challenge?

This one is for all the married women out there. Men, you can read on if you want, but the post is geared toward women this time.

Ladies, do you love your husband? Like really love your husband? I’m sure you all answer “yes” to this question but I don’t think you know what I mean. If you said “yes” to my question, then you should be able to answer this one: How do you love your husband? Is that a little harder to pin down? Probably is, and that’s ok. You’re in the right place.

If you are a married woman, your priorities should look a little different than those of a single woman. A married, Christian woman’s priorities (according to the Bible), should be 1. God, 2. Husband, 3. Children, etc. If this is true, we’re looking at the husband having a higher ranking in the wife’s life than her children, job, housework, other relationships, etc. Rub you the wrong way? It did me too, until I started applying it in my marriage. The change has been incredible.

What is the most important human relationship you’ll ever have on this earth? Who knows you better than anyone else and still loves you? Which human being has the ability to make you happier than you’ve ever been with anyone else ever? Catch my drift? Your marriage is the most important relationship you’ll have this side of heaven. And if that’s true, it’s probably worth your effort.

Is your husband perfect? No, I’m sure he is not. But neither are you. Is loving your husband always easy? No, I know it’s not. But God never promises life is going to be easy. Notice the order of priorities above? God is first.

God is first because you can’t love your husband without God. You can’t love your children without God. You can’t love your neighbor without God. Without the love of God indwelling, you are not capable of loving anyone properly. Because love is not a feeling that ebbs and flows like the tossing waves of the sea, love is a choice. I choose to love my husband when he’s being a turd, or worse, because God chooses to love me as a wretch. When I was the worst of sinners, God sent His only Son to die for me. I’m glad He made that choice.

Knowing the love of God is the foundation of any love relationship you’ll ever have. So that’s step one. But I don’t want to leave you hanging while you dive into step one, it could take a lifetime. Here are some practical ways to love your husband (these are your “how” answers from above), in spite of how you FEEL for your husband:

1. When he comes home from work, drop everything you’re doing and hug him (or kiss him or grope him, depending on your level of comfort). Doing this will show your husband that he is your top priority; not dinner, or tending to the house, or children, etc. If he knows he’s your number one, you’ll see some changes in your relationship almost immediately. You are his biggest cheerleader, or insult-er, and you hold his self-worth in your hands. Are you building him up with your actions, or tearing him down?

2. Ask his opinion on things. Again, by doing this, he’ll know you value his opinion, and in turn it makes him feel important. You two are a team, act like one. Making decisions without him, repeatedly, will have the opposite effect and make him feel unimportant. Eventually, he won’t know how to make a decision without you and then you’ll be insulting him for never making a decision on his own.

3. Initiate intimacy. Show him you want him. Men need to be wanted. They want to feel attractive and needed. If you let him know you want to be intimate with him, and that it’s not just a chore, his self-worth will increase immensely.

Are you freaked out by those three things? They’re not that hard, right? Ok, maybe number three is a little difficult, but the other two are easy peasy. The trick is to not give into your feelings. He may come home from work Tuesday and you’ve had a horrible day. You have a full night of errands and your only goal is to get dinner in your kids and get out the door on time. In the grand scheme of things, is 30 seconds of attention to your husband really going to make you late? Drop everything you’re doing and hug him, as soon as he walks in the door, regardless of how you feel. There’s a reason why that’s number one, it’s the easiest one to incorporate into your “routine”.

If you’ve made it this far, you’re probably wondering “Why do I need to do all this? Just because some blogger mom told me too?”. No, of course not. The answer to the question, “Why do I need to show my husband I love him?” is simple, because God showed you He loves you. You have made a covenant with God to honor and love your husband. God has brought the two of you together as one flesh. He didn’t do that so you could just “go through the motions” of marriage. He did that so you could have life abundant here on earth. Your marriage is worth fighting for. Are you going to do your part?

One final point and I’ll end. We (women) are so good at joining challenges to eat better, lose weight, read the bible, whatever it may be. We are smart enough to know we need accountability in certain areas of our life, but why don’t we think we need it in our marriages? So here’s what we’re going to do: I’m initiating a challenge. It’s called the 1 John 4:19 Challenge. I want you to love your husband for the right reasons and I want you to do it practically. I’ve given you three practical ways to show your husband you love him. I want you to find an accountability partner, another MARRIED woman who will do this challenge with you. I want you to commit to four weeks of intentionally loving your husband. Your goal will be to accomplish at least ONE of the three listed above FOUR times a week. One week you could do 1, 2, 3, and 1. One week you could do 1, 1, 1, and 1. Whatever is easiest or most important to your marriage, that’s what you should focus on. At the end of the four weeks, I want you and your partner to meet and talk about what you noticed. How has your relationship changed? How have your feelings changed? How have your priorities changed? Etc.

If you want to take this challenge, and you’ve found a partner, please comment below and let me know you’re in. I don’t have to have names and addresses or anything, I just want to know if you’re doing this so I can pray for you through it. If we all loved our husbands the way God wants us to love our husbands, could you imagine the fire we’d start!? Have fun!

P.S. I can type all of this because I’ve been there. My marriage was on the brink of divorce and, by the grace of God we’re not now. I’d be happy to share our testimony privately, just comment or message me. I believe in the sanctity of marriage and I think your marriage should be your priority, almost always. Strong marriages are super powerful in the Kingdom of God and your marriage can be one too.

Thank God He Doesn’t Rely on Me!

One of my favorite attributes of God, my God – the Christian God, the Father of Jesus and Creator of the entire Universe, is that He’s sovereign. When I was new to the faith, shortly after Jesus had succeeded in wooing me, I would hear this term and really didn’t know what it meant. When used as an adjective (to describe someone or some thing), the term SOVEREIGN means:

2sov·er·eign

adjective \ˈsä-v(ə-)rən, -vərn also ˈsə-\

: having unlimited power or authority

: not limited

: having independent authority and the right to govern itself

My God has UNLIMITED power AND authority. I am so happy that He is NOT LIMITED. I love that NOTHING affects His power and authority. NOTHING! No matter what I do, no matter what you do, no matter what happens, HIS power is still the same. And because He is good, and only good, that means NOTHING will affect HIS goodness. And because HE loves us, nothing we can do will EVER change HIS love for us! Nothing. He is immutable (unchanging).

I cannot affect God. I can do nothing to change who He is, ever. The attributes that He possesses are His and will remain the same forever and ever, amen! His goodness, His love, His righteousness, His holiness, His mercy, His grace, HE IS UNCHANGING. I am so glad that none of Him relies on me.

I am human and I screw up. If God took away His love for me every time I screwed up, where would I be? Where would God be? He’d be human, wouldn’t He? I can never bring Him down to my level because then He would cease to be God. And if He’s not God, than who am I? I am who I am because He made me perfectly. To take away anything from Him would take away my purpose and my meaning. I only have purpose because God created me to have purpose. He created YOU to have purpose too.

Do you know the purpose of/in your life? Do you feel like you’re just wandering around aimlessly, trying to figure out why you’re here, on Earth? Even if you’re unaware of your purpose; even if you’ve denied God and His existence in your life, in the world; He still loves you with an everlasting love. That love will never cease, it will never lessen or diminish, it will never be less than the day He created you and the day He close His Son to die for you. There is NOTHING you can do to change His love for you. So you might as well embrace it, eh? It’s not going anywhere.

Doesn’t a God like that deserve our praise? Don’t you think He deserves our worship? The fact that “He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him (2 Cor 5:21)” is the best reason to worship anyone, ever. Because yet while we were sinners, Jesus died for us (Romans 5:8), the  ultimate sacrifice, He deserves our praise. Because when we denied Him, and refused Him, and yelled and spat at Him, He still loved us enough to become our sin and nail it to the cross, He deserves our everything. It’s the least we can do; it’s all we can do.

We can’t obey ourselves into relationship with Him. We simply seek Him, and He will draw near to us (James 4:8). We were created for relationship with God, not because He needs us, but because life is NOTHING apart from Him. God is God regardless of us, regardless of me. He needs nothing from me to continue to be God, and He needs nothing from you to continue to be God. And for that I am extremely thankful. I cannot mess this up, EVER! And neither can you.

Once we enter into relationship with Jesus, NOTHING can pluck us from His hand. That is a forever relationship that will only end if we deny it’s very existence. And even that denial would not, will not, stop the love God has for you. You are loved whether you want to be or not. You are loved whether you believe you are or not. You are eternally loved, by the Perfect One who called you into existence. Life is so much more abundant when you walk like that’s true.

Blessings, Crystal

Come thou fount…

While singing a familiar song in church this weekend, God chose to speak to me personally regarding a specific lyric I’ve belted out hundreds of times before. Many Christians, and non-Christians alike, are familiar with the popular song “Come Thou Fount”. The opening verse is this:

Come, Thou Fount of every blessing
Tune my heart to sing Thy grace
Streams of mercy, never-ceasing
Call for songs of loudest praise
Teach me some melodious sonnet
Sung by flaming tongues above
Praise the mount, I’m fixed upon it
Mount of Thy unchanging love.

The words above strike a chord in my heart like nothing else can. I hear the familiar drum beat (our church performs the King’s Kaleidoscope version) and my heart skips a beat. Singing to the Savior of my soul, the Healer of my wounds, the Redeemer of my life, is one of my most beloved things to do. And this particular tune is a personal favorite. But this Saturday night during worship, God struck me when I sang the fifth line: Teach me some melodious sonnet. When walking with Jesus, He is constantly teaching us a song to sing to Him, is He not? What’s my song about right now?

The first four lines are speaking about God’s blessing, His grace, His mercy, and praising Him for all that. The fifth line, the singer (me) is asking God to teach her a song. She’s saying “Continue to teach me of Your blessings, grace, and mercy.” In other words, never stop blessing me, having grace for me, and showing me Your mercy. All of those treats make up the song in my heart for my God. And His word tells me that those things will never stop, which means I should never stop singing of them!

It all ends with God’s “unchanging love”. Isn’t that what it’s all about? He loves us so much that He blesses us. He loves us so much that He has never-ending grace for us. He loves us so much that His mercy will never run dry for those who love Him. And if all of that is true, how can I ever stop singing the song He’s written on my heart?

Each of our songs will be personal, based on the specific blessings, grace, and mercy God has for us. He is so very personal that we’d be silly to believe He’d give us all the same song. Some songs will be joyful and loud, others will be slower and somber, but all will profess His blessings, grace, and mercy.

Do you know what “melodious sonnet” God’s written on your heart? If not, try to remember who you were before He invited you to walk with Him. That’s always a good starting place for me. His love for us is never-ending and unchanging, so should our praise to Him be.

If you don’t know what I’m talking about, and all of this sounds like gibberish to you, it’s quite possible I just didn’t articulate my heart very clearly. But it could also be likely that you’re reading this and haven’t yet “tasted and seen that the Lord is good”. If this is the case, and you want to know Jesus in the way I write about knowing Him, please comment or contact me privately. I would love to help you get the know the Man who’s stolen my heart, because He wants to steal your heart too.

Here’s that video of the song above, in case you need a little filling up:

Much love and blessings,
Crystal

Are you in love?

love

I’m in love. News to you? Shouldn’t be. See, I’m in love with God. And because I’m in love with God, everyone everywhere who knows me should be aware of that. It’s kind of mandatory that I shout from the rooftops my love for Him. One should never question whether a Christian is a Christian. The love we have for our Jesus should ooze from our pores. It should flow into every conversation we have. It should consume our every waking thought. That love we have for Him should overtake our lives in such a way that no one could ever question our allegiance.

Does all this sound a little crazy? Perhaps a bit radical? It is! The love I have for my Savior is crazy and radical. Wanna know why? Because His love for me is crazy and radical. His love for me is immense. His love for me is huge and more real than any other love EVER. I can only love Him because of how He loves me. That’s it. So if I didn’t understand, or try to understand, His love for me, then none of the first paragraph would be true in my life. I could say I was a Christian and I could still walk around this world with hate in my heart. I could say I was a Christian and some people would never know it unless they heard me say it. What sets me apart from the rest of the world? The love of God. It’s not anything I’ve done or anything I will ever do. It’s the simply, complex love of God.

My Jesus became my sin, He became the sin of the world, and then suffered a horribly painful death. My sin, your sin, the sin of the world, died with Jesus. It’s gone. My slavery to sin has been demolished. It is NO MORE. My debt, to my perfect and Holy God, a death sentence, has been PAID IN FULL. The death that I deserve to die for sinning against a Holy, Perfect God, has been accomplished. Because Jesus died for me, I don’t have to die. And because Jesus died for me, my God sees me as Holy and Righteous. Because Jesus died for me, I am covered in the blood of His sacrifice forever, never again to be trapped in the bondage of sin. IT IS FINISHED.

I have died with my sin, and it’s gone forever. But my Jesus rose again! I have been born again, with the Holy Spirit as my guide, to live this life to the fullest. My Father not only demolished my sin but He gave me everlasting, eternal life, through His son Jesus. My life is devoted to Him, the One who paid my debt. I will live everyday for Jesus, never being able to repay the gift He gave me, but hoping others will accept that very gift salvation. It’s the best gift I’ll ever receive.

I am in love with the Lover of my soul. He is my Creator and my Savior. He is my Rock and my Refuge. He is my Redeemer and my Healer. My God loves me with an everlasting love. My God created me perfectly and loves me dearly. I am His beloved and He is mine. This kind of love is unconditional. It is the only truly unconditional love I’ll ever know. My God’s agape love is huge. His love is larger than any circumstance this world can throw at me. His love sustains and provides.

God’s love for me is the same as His love for you! The exact same! It’s so simple, the love of God, and so unfathomable. It’s a Holy love. He loves you as if you were His child, because you are. You are an heir to the throne. You are royalty, with royal blood. You have a Heavenly Father and a Holy Spirit and a Blessed Redeemer. You can have heaven on Earth now, right now! Sweet surrender is all that’s required. Surrender to the King, admit that He knows infinitely more than you, and ask His Spirit to enter your heart. He will radically transform you with His radical love. His crazy, radical love is real, and it’s here, now. Take it.

Inspiration

I’ve been pre-occupied and this blog has definitely not been my priority. You know what is though? Glorifying my Jesus. I can do that here! So, consequently, this blog should be a priority. Amen? I’m going to try to make it such, and if it’s God’s will, I will be successful!

I’ve titled this entry “Inspiration”, though I’m not quite sure why. I sat down to write, with no apparent agenda, and that title came to me. We’ll see how this unfolds. The title will, undoubtedly, be accurate since I’m sure it was divinely inspired.

If you’ve read ANY of my blog posts (within the last 2+ years), you should know that I love Jesus. I am so in love with the redeemer of my soul that I can’t help but write about Him and what He’s done, and continues to do, in my life. He is amazing and His love for me is so incredibly great. How could I not share His wonder with you!?

God is God, no matter who I am. He is God no matter who you are too. Do you believe? Do you think I’m a nut? Either way, He’s still Him. His existence does not depend on your belief, or my belief. God is the Creator of the Universe whether we acknowledge Him or not. Isn’t that incredible?

I love that NO MATTER WHAT I do, He’s still Him. That means that His love for me is always the same. It doesn’t ebb and flow like the waves of the sea. He doesn’t love me less when I love Him less. He doesn’t love me more when I’m having an especially “holy” day. His love for me outnumbers the stars in the sky every minute of every single day. And it doesn’t depend on my belief in Him either! You know what that means? His love doesn’t depend on YOUR belief in Him either. That same great love He has for me, He has for you too. Ha! I love it. It’s such a foreign concept to the world, this true unconditional love. We have no idea what it’s like to love like this.

I love my children, like a lot. I love them so much that I could not bear to think of living this life without them. I didn’t know how to love before I had them. Truth. But, my love for them is not purely unconditional. I like to think it is, but it’s not. Your love for your children isn’t either. Or your spouse. Or your parents. Or anyone else you think you love. It’s not unconditional. Our love, our human love, always comes with conditions. Let me explain: When my son does something so ridiculous it infuriates me, I don’t stop loving him. I don’t. I will always love him, no matter what. I’m sure most parents would say the same. But, if he stopped loving me, and turned his back on me completely, never to return or reach out at all, there would come a point where I would stop pursuing him. I would always love him, but I would not always run after him.

God will NEVER stop pursuing. God will NEVER stop chasing. God desires for ALL PEOPLE to come to know Him. You may turn your back, you may reject him, but He will NEVER stop loving you. His love is NOT dependent on your love for Him. Ever. That’s unconditional. That’s the love my Jesus has for all His people.

This love, the love of my Father, inspires me to love others differently. Because of His never-ending love for me, I love others in a new way. I’m no longer self-motivated. I no longer have an agenda. I don’t love others out of selfish ambition. I simply love God’s people because He does. I don’t deserve His love for me. Not one bit (see previous post, Dec 2013). But He freely gives it. If He does, why can’t I? You don’t deserve His love either. But He freely gives it. Why can’t you?

Love today, regardless. Regardless of whether they deserve it or not. Regardless of whether you feel like it or not. Regardless of whether you want to or not. Just love, because He first loved us. You’ll be surprised how easy it becomes.

With love, Crystal