Seeing Others Through Christ's Eyes

Parenting is sometimes a difficult job. Do you ever remember your parents saying "This hurts me more than it hurts you"? I used to think that was nonsense... until I became a parent. Well, I believe Jesus feels that way A LOT as He molds us into the mighty men and women of God that He has called us to be! Seeing Others Through Christ's Eyes

 

As I continue to grow in the Lord, He helps me to see areas of my christian walk that need to improve. Lately He has been dealing with me about how I view others... especially those that have caused chaos and heartache in my life. The truth is that when we view things in this world through our own sight, it is like walking blindly. When we turn our focus to Him, He removes the blinders and gives us true sight.

Well lately, I have stumbled in this area.  So, I have been seeking the Lord and started to be very intentional in my prayers. When I know that I am going to have an encounter with someone that has caused pain in my life, I seek the Lord in prayer. I specifically ask for these three things.

#1: Lord, help me to see others through Your eyes... especially those people that have caused me heartache. #2: Lord, shine Your light brightly in my life so that others see Him through me. #3: Lord, open doors of opportunity for me to share the message of Your love and plant a seed in their life.

God's Word has spoken clearly to me on this topic. The verses below have shown me that God views His children for the potential they have ...... not the choices they have made. He accepts us where we are and then cleans us up. He then molds us into the mighty man or woman of God that He created us to be. We were all created in His image ........ which means we all have good within us. So, as Christians, we are called to see the potential in others... not their mistakes and their faults. We are to love them right where they are!

Genesis 1:27 (NIV) ~ "So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them."

I Samuel 16:7 (NIV) ~ "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.”

Ephesians 1:18 (NIV) ~ "I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people."

Matthew 7:1-5 (NIV) ~ “Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?How can you say to your brother, 'Let me take the speck out of your eye', when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye."

Col 3:12 (NIV) ~ "Put on then, as God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience."

I pray that God moves mightily in your life and helps you to see other's through His eyes. I encourage you to go out and allow His light to shine brightly through you.

How has seeing things through Christ's eyes changed your perspective?

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See what Christ sees for your marriage: FamilyLife's Weekend to Remember is a great place to get TRUTH! It will strengthen your marriage, and change your life, marriage and legacy. Find a getaway near you, register with our group code JOSHUA2415 for a $120 discount!

 

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Trust the Shepherd

Sometimes I get scared. I worry.

Sometimes I think about all that God has done these last eleven months and I feel so on fire right now, which is good, right?

But my mind plays the "what if" game from time to time.

What if, sometime down the road, I forget?

What if a tragedy strikes, and despite all that I have learned, it causes me to question the God who has been so good to me?

What if, years from now, I find myself in another man's arms, because I lose my way?

I think, "Never again!"

But then I remember what I thought before:  "I would NEVER do that!"

So who is to say that I won't forget?

This is something I struggle with.

Trust the Shepherd

But what I hear when my mind starts going to this line of thinking is God saying, "Jamie, stop it.  Remember what I've shown you?  Those are lies.  Keep your eyes focused on ME.  I am the truth.  TRUST ME."

And in those words, all the truth God has shown me this last year comes flooding back and washes over me.  It cleanses the worry and fear, the doubt and the concern.  One day at a time.  That's all we can manage.  We can't dwell on the past.  It's ridiculous to think that we could actually live in the future.  So, why don't I just go ahead and keep my mind on TODAY.  Today is all I have to think about and get through.  And by keeping my eyes focused on what Christ has done for me, I can get through the day, and defeat the lies that the enemy never stops whispering in my ear.

I was making a card for a friend the other night, thinking about how she mentioned that the enemy comes to steal, kill, and destroy.  This is not a new concept to me.  I read it in high school, and maybe even in Bible college.  But Tony, our counselor, has mentioned this passage from John 10 several times as well, in talking about how shrewd the devil is.  He walks around, whispering lies and deceiving at any chance he gets.  But TRUE sheep KNOW the Shepherd's voice.  They follow him, because they recognize his voice.  They will not follow the thief that comes in to steal, kill and destroy.  Because they do not recognize his voice.  So, my question to you (and myself) is this:  Whose voice do you KNOW?

Have you spent years growing accustomed to the enemy's voice?  Are you often filled with despair, doubt, guilt, or fear?  I spent 30+ years living with all of those feelings, having become so accustomed to the devil's voice that I wouldn't have recognized my Shepherd's voice if I tried.

But I'm learning now, in fact have learned, to recognize the Shepherd's voice.  It brings me peace, comfort, joy, and calm.  And now that I recognize his voice, I recognize the thief's voice.  And I hear the lies.  And I am able to refute those lies with the truth that is given to me by the Shepherd.  I would encourage you to examine your own heart, and your mind, and decide who you are listening to and whose voice you recognize.  Is it the thief's or the Good Shepherd's?

Matt Hammitt released his album "Every Falling Tear" after his 3rd baby was born with a severe heart defect.  The songs on the album were written while they awaited Bowen's birth, and they were not sure he would live.  The songs continued to be written after his birth, cardiac arrest, surgeries, etc...for now, Bowen lives on and should have another surgery this year.  One article I read said that before he reaches middle age, it is likely that he will need a heart transplant.

Now imagine, as a parent trying to deal with all of the confusion, fear and doubt.  Imagine what your heart would feel like, how it would ache, and how you may find yourself questioning God.  Matt Hammitt wrote out his heartache and fear and the album "Every Falling Tear" was born.  On that album is a song he wrote when he was feeling desperate and alone.  Like I imagine many of you are feeling right now.  Please listen to this song, and take the words to heart, and NEVER forget how good God is!

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=maRMivc5vB4?rel=0]

 

What lies is the enemy whispering in your ear? Shout out God's truth to come against it!

 

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GO TO THE SOURCE: FamilyLife's Weekend to Remember is a great place to get TRUTH! It will strengthen your marriage, and change your life, marriage and legacy. Find a getaway near you, register with our group code JOSHUA2415 for a $120 discount!

 

AOM at Sea October 2013 Slider

 

 

We LOVE cruise vacations and we love The Art of Marriage, so we're combining them! Come with us!

LLYMI

We're also excited about the fourth annual Love Like You Mean It Marriage Cruise! It's the ONLY fully chartered marriage cruise. Book with our group for LOTS of additional perks!

We're linking up!

The Alabaster JarTheBetterMom.com

Be Present!

Let's just say that grace has not always been a visible characteristic in my life. In 2008, I was blind to the trouble in my marriage. I was too busy in my own world putting my children and work above God and my husband. My husband's needs were not being met, and he turned his focus toward work, friends, alcohol, and eventually other women. Needless to say, communication was nonexistent. Be Present

This went on for a couple of years, and I was so out of touch that I didn't notice a thing. Looking back, all of the warning signs were there, but I was just living life blindly. I didn't want to acknowledge the problems because in my mind I thought ignoring them would make them go away. So when the bottom fell out, I felt completely overwhelmed with shock, abandonment, and heartache. I hit an all time emotional low instantly.

I was so far away from God at the time that I didn't even begin to know how to pray. Why would He want to hear from me after all the time that had passed ..... that's what I thought in my mind. Here I was at the holiday season suddenly trying to figure out how to deal with a broken marriage, balance finances alone, care for my boys, and somehow pick up the pieces of my shattered life. I just wanted to curl up and cry all day everyday.

I am grateful that God strategically placed godly people in my path that ministered the love of Jesus back into my life. They met me right where I was and shared the message of God's redeeming grace and mercy. At first, hearing the truth from a godly friend was tough. All I could see was my husband's mistakes. Sure I had made mistakes, but he CHEATED. That was way worse than my mistakes ... right???? Well, the truth hurts, but I was finally able to see the thorn in my own eye. God revealed to me how I contributed to the downward spiral of my marriage. I could finally recognize that I was very controlling, hard-headed, wanted everything my way, and my priorities had been way off base for years.

It has been a crazy, yet amazing roller coaster ride the last 4+ years. God's grace and mercy have been at work in my life in ways I could have NEVER imagined. My "fleshly" nature is to be extremely blunt and speak my mind regardless of what others think. I used to never worry about the delivery of my message, and I always spoke without thinking it through first. God has helped me to learn to seek His guidance first in ALL things! I finally figured out that things are much better when I allow Him to be in complete control and I walk in obedience to Him.

Although my marriage didn't work out the way I had hoped, I KNOW that God has BIG plans for my life. I now understand that He can take what the devil intended for harm and use it for good. My life was a shipwreck in numerous ways.  Now that I am walking in obedience to Him, I can't go wrong. He has met EVERY single need ... and there have been many! I am also confident that God will reach my ex-husband in His perfect timing. I don't know what the future holds, but I do know Who holds my future! That's all the reassurance I need, and it brings me such perfect peace.

“Forget about what’s happened; don’t keep going over old history. Be alert, be present. I’m about to do something brand-new.    It’s bursting out! Don’t you see it? There it is! I’m making a road through the desert, rivers in the badlands. -Isaiah 43;18-19

This verse speaks volumes to me. It ministered hope to me at a dark moment in my life. I pray it brings you hope for what you are facing as well. I also pray that you too will put complete trust in Jesus in ALL areas of your life. His grace is sufficient for all your needs! Stand on His promises, and you can't go wrong.

Which scripture speaks to you and gets you through dark days?

 

Scott & Sherry and Rick & Beverly love The Art of Marriage so much, we're taking it on vacation with us! Come with us!

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You Are Not Alone

When God calls us to do something, we often find ourselves in an unfamiliar place. Not because we’ve been brought to the destination but often as a result of the calling.

 You Are Not Alone

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In Genesis 12, God tells Abraham to leave his country, his people and his father’s household.  In Abraham’s day, people lived with their entire family. People didn’t move away like we do today and set up a new household. They stayed on the same land with their siblings and parents. There was strength in numbers and reliability in forging land and flock with your own people.

You have to really understand where Abraham is at emotionally and physically when God calls him to move away.  This wasn’t normal to just pick up and move away from known territory.  If you pay attention to the scripture in Genesis 12:1, God doesn’t even tell him where he’s going!

Now the LORD said to Abram, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father's house to the land that I will show you.  (Genesis 12:1 ESV)

Can you imagine what God is asking of Abraham? Can you put yourself in his place emotionally? Of course you can.  As a Stander, we have been called to move to new land.  We don’t know where this journey is going to take us when we’re asked; we only know that we’ve been called.  To stand for the healing of our marriage, to stand on God’s Word as He intended marriage.  To follow Jesus. To ignore the circumstances and focus on God. It’s a scary time.  It’s an unknown time.  Nothing feels NORMAL to you. Nothing looks THE SAME.  Your spouse may be in the house with you but not acting as your spouse and friend or your spouse may not be home with you and is doing one hurtful thing after the other. Your surroundings have changed completely and emotionally this is a new experience.

God makes a promise to Abraham though in the next verse, the same way He has made a promise to you as descendants of Abraham and because of the covenant you’re in with God and your one-flesh mate.  Understand this: God’s promises aren’t EMPTY WORDS spoken, they’re a COVENANT.  Unbreakable and ours to claim as our heritage as children of God. Abraham may not have had one clue about where he was going or what he might find on the way to the destination, but He does knows God can be trusted and that God has great things in mind for him and He will bring him to the point of receiving the promise.

And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”  (Genesis 12:2-3 ESV)

Wow! What a promise.  What a gift.  What a reason to press on and go forward despite the unknown when you know what’s awaiting you.

There are many changes you’re going through on top of the issues in your marriage.  Your family may not be supporting you. Your friends may have deserted you.  People may label you in denial, crazy, unwilling to let go and blinded. There may be absolutely no one on this earth that is in support of you or believes what you’ve been promised will come to pass, not even your pastor, but you are not alone.

God has called you to STAND and He is with you.  If you believe in the covenant you’re in with God, you know that He’s bringing you through this circumstance to bring you TO His promises.  God will often cause us to LEAVE BEHIND what we are familiar with in order to EXPERIENCE HIM in the new place. To get your attention and to show Himself active in your life and to build your faith.  Whatever has been REMOVED that was familiar is to build you up in the unfamiliar.   Don’t look back at what’s been taken, look forward to what’s coming!

You are not alone even if you feel alone; God is with you wherever you’ve been moved.

Consider Taking a Stand for your marriage and marriages around you, despite your circumstances, and praying about what God is calling you to do In the Meantime.

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Without Running Away

I keep hearing song after song after song that tugs at my heart. Songs that were a source of strength and comfort to me, when I was terrified of the road that lay ahead. I spent much of my life, captive to fear. In the months following my homecoming in February 2012, and through countless counseling sessions, we dug up the root of my fear. It stemmed from an external event that occurred when I was a child. This event set into motion irrational fears and paranoia that followed me for almost thirty years. Fears that kept me locked inside my own house and mind for far too long. Fears for myself, my husband, and my children. Fears of the outside world.

without running away

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When I came home to my marriage last February, I was terrified. I was so scared that Kris would hurt me again. I was afraid that his change was only temporary. I was worried that we would find ourselves back in the same patterns of sin. There was a huge risk involved in coming home. I like to be in control. And this was something I could not control. I couldn't control the future, or the choices Kris would make. There was absolutely nothing that I could control, except for the choices I made. I chose to go home, knowing that it had to be enough. Knowing that I was scared, but finally beginning to hope that my heart would be safe this time.

There are times in our lives that we feel completely alone, and terrified. We can't control anything or anyone around us, and sometimes we have to risk everything, hoping that all will work out in the end.  That isn't an easy choice to make. That's why I admire the courage of those who are standing for their marriages. It is anything but easy to stay in (or go back to) a marriage that is broken.

There is a line in the song "Without Running Away" that says "And be free of the burden of the living that hoping requires..." Wow. How many times did I find myself in that exact same place? Wanting to be free of the burden of living that hoping required? Hope isn't easy.

Some of us live with those enslaved in addictions. But there is a line in this song that alludes to the fact that the pain we ourselves live with can be an addiction. Have you ever thought about it that way before? I know I hadn't before hearing this song. But the more I reflect on it, the more I believe it is true.

"But wounded’s a part that I’ve learned to play well

Though the wound may run deeper than I know how to tell

Where pain’s an addiction that keeps me buried alive

But when it’s all that I know, I’m afraid to leave it behind"

Wow. Did you catch that? Pain can be an addiction that keeps us buried alive. Just like fear has always been for me. How many of you are living that way, because it's all that you know, and you are terrified to leave it behind? I've been there. I've lived through that pain, and I understand how hopelessness feels.

God wants us to know and BELIEVE that when we feel like all is lost, there is still hope to be found. But until we understand who we are in Christ, we will not fully see the hope that is there, just waiting for us to grasp. 2 Corinthians 5:17 - "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come."

Maybe it's time to take a risk.  Maybe it's time to "bring your heart to every day; run the risk of fearlessly loving without running away."

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Have you chosen to love fearlessly? Tell us about it!

 

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Hope Does

Hope Does

Music is what really gets inside of me and draws me to the feet of Jesus. Among a myriad of other things, music reminds me that there is always hope. Even when there seems to be no end to your struggles.

Hope remains.

Hope Does

I don't think I ever quite understood 1 Corinthians 13 until God restored my marriage and showed me what love really was. I am sure that I still don't comprehend even half of what is really packed into those thirteen verses. Verse 7 is tough, as it describes what love does. It always protects. It always trusts. It always hopes. It always perseveres.

I spent five years standing for my marriage and a man that was enslaved by a pornography addiction. In the depths of my hurt and frustration, I turned my back on God. I quit believing that His word was true.

I stopped hoping. 

I stopped trusting in the God that tells me that He loves me and He is ALL I need. And when my husband failed me, instead of understanding that God was the only one who could fill that void inside me, I turned to the arms of another man. And I spent the next seven years in a vicious cycle of sin and running from God.

I could write for days about those seven years, but I want to talk about the first five years of my marriage. The years where I begged God to change my husband. I prayed and prayed that God would free my husband from his addiction. But he went back. Over and over again, he betrayed me and our marriage bed.

I became weary. And I gave up hope. No one really understood how hurt I felt and how broken my heart was. Who could I share my pain with and still keep my husband's secret and pride in tact? I thought I had to bear it alone. I think now about what I put myself (and my husband) through, and I know without a shadow of a doubt that if I had not wandered through that desert of sin because I stopped hoping, I would not understand hope like I do now.

I wear a ring on my left hand that encompasses 1 Corinthians 13:13. "And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love."

That ring on my finger has three words on it: faith, hope, love. Hope is in the middle and any time that I look down at my hand, I see hope staring back up at me. If I had not endured the trials that broke my marriage down, if I had not allowed God to rebuild what my husband and I had shattered, I would not understand hope in the same way. I wouldn't understand it at all.

Hope is so important, and if you do nothing else, you have to hold on to hope. I know some of you have been hanging on for many years now. My heart aches with and for you, and I think about you often. I pray for you, for your marriages to be restored, and for your prodigals to return home. But while we wait, I'm begging you: Do NOT give up. Do NOT allow the lies of the enemy to distract you from what God has called you to do. Keep standing. Keep fighting. Do not abandon what you know is right and true, and do not lose hope.

It may feel as if the world will cave in on you. You may be exhausted and torn to pieces from trying and waiting, and seeing no change in your own situation. But you know what? There is someone who sees you. There is someone who is holding you. His arms embrace you, whether you can feel them or not. Someone feels your pain, as deep as it runs. Someone understands. LOVE does.

 

Loving our guest blogger, Jamie Bishop of Loving When It Hurts. She shares candidly and passionately from her healing heart how to love your spouse, even when it hurts.

Jamie and Kris have been married for just over 13 years. 12 1/2 years of that time, Kris was weighed down by an addiction to pornography. After 5 years of praying and wishing it away, Jamie quit trying and slowly found her way to the arms of another man. That relationship lasted on and off for over seven years before Kris found out about it. A year into God’s restoration of our marriage, their story is one of unconditional love, forgiveness, and hope. It is their prayer that their story encourages anyone who is struggling to put the pieces of their marriage back together.

 

Change on Damascus

In 2010 my husband said he loved me but wasn’t in love with me, wouldn’t end his adultery (despite my pleading) and put a $100 deposit on an apartment without me knowing. The scripture that man may make plans but God orders his steps, didn’t seem too believable. My husband had not only made plans and was pursuing them, he was bulldozing through them one after the other.

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In my humanness, I looked for signs in my one flesh mate. I looked for a change within him or his circumstances.  I did not know early in my stand as my husband threw his belongings into trash bags to head towards his new bachelor pad that a shift didn’t have to occur in the natural for God to get his attention and bring about transformation.  I didn’t realize that God could bring altercation to the route he was currently on and shift his direction at the same time.

In Acts 9, Saul of Tarsus is on the way to Damascus.  He was breathing murderous threats against Christians and was purposefully pursuing them. Damascus was a 150-mile journey but he was so set on bringing Christians back as prisoners, the trip didn’t seem like an inconvenience. It was a necessary venture to Saul in order to continue his campaign of persecution.

Isn’t this like your prodigal, dead set on slandering you, avoiding you, ignoring you, shirking their commitments, responsibilities and absolutely head strong in going forward with whatever prodigal-like behavior that is the complete opposite of what you are praying for, and 180 degrees from God’s Word?

One night I read my Bible through tears and looked for something to touch me. A Word that would soothe my aching heart.

Now as he went on his way, he approached Damascus, and suddenly a light from heaven shone around him. (Acts 9:3 ESV)

It was like the scripture was bold in heavenly light.  The words AS HE WENT ON HIS WAY seemed to have a pulse.  God was clearly speaking.

Saul was every bit of who Saul was at the time. His intentions, his thoughts about Christians, his belief about their treatment, it was the way it was. The journey he was about to take was intended. It was thought out, mapped out, planned.  This wasn’t an afterthought or an accidental road trip, it was very much what Saul needed to accomplish his mission and yet, despite his intentions and plans, God interrupted.  God saw behind the behavior Saul exhibited and brought a transformation to bring his plans to an end and to bring forth the person He knew Saul could be (Paul).

And immediately something like scales fell from his eyes, and he regained his sight. Then he rose and was baptized; and taking food, he was strengthened. (Acts 9:18-19 ESV)

God didn’t have to change circumstances to bring about His will; He brought the change to the circumstance.

Don’t you know God can do the same for your husband or wife? You may not view the road they’re traveling on as anything other than a wrong road but that's only because you’re looking for a road that looks different from the one they’re on but God doesn’t need to convert circumstances or surroundings in the natural to bring about what He’s doing in the spiritual.

The One who has the whole world in His hands, has your covenant spouse in the same hands.  He can apply pressure, bring dreams to slumber, remind forgotten memories, soften hearts, renew love, restore, and redeem. Our loving, miraculous Savior doesn’t have to turn your honey onto a right road to make things right. He can bring about change and transformation where anyone currently is and send them where He needs them to go.

Nothing is too hard for our God.  No one is too difficult to change.  God is in complete control.  Submit your will under His will and He will do what needs to be done, in the way it needs to be done, in His timing.  Rest in God’s promises and in His absolute truth, knowing God’s plans are for your good and His glory.

For which promises are you believing God in your circumstances?

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Kris Washington is a Jesus girl, wife of one for 18 years (and counting!) and mom of four. She boldly shares that her restored marriage has nothing to do with who she is but everything to do with who God is.  She not only has a testimony about her marriage restoration but a ministry encouraging others in their stand and helping women heal after adultery. Together with her husband, they write a newsletter for men who have been in adultery and need healing and guidance as well. You can find and follow her at God Is a Restorer on Facebook.  

Consider Taking a Stand for your marriage and marriages around you, despite your circumstances, and praying about what God is calling you to do In the Meantime.

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Before the Journey

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“Pop, you need to go and have an affair,” my young and ignorant self said, “you need someone to talk to and to hang with and mom cannot be that for you right now.” What the heck?! Did I really suggest that to my father when I was a young girl of about 14 years old? Yup, I sure did. before-the-journey1

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And the response changed my life forever. Pre Christ in my life…and pre Christ in my Pop’s life, it went something like this (after a long pause in the car on the one mile drive to my junior high):

"Jo Jo, love means you stay. Marriage means you stay…I gave your mother my word that I would stay through it. She did not ask for the struggles she is having now that keep her from being the woman I married. I promised her I would stay for better or for worse, and this is worse. I gave my word and it is all I am and all I am worth. If I don’t keep it there is nothing you can trust about me. Marriage means you stay. Love means you stay. And when you give your word, you need to keep it. That is honor and that is integrity.”

Before I knew Jesus, I knew George. That’s my Pop. The Navy man. Before I knew truth, I knew honor and integrity the George man way. I would rather have been beaten and fried than to have disappointed that man. There was nothing worse than hearing, “Jo Jo, I am a little disappointed in your choice, but I love you.” That SUCKED. My heart would fall and my only desire would be to make the next million choices I made to be ones that he would smile nicely and say well done.

My parents have now been married 50 years and he was right. By sticking it out, it all turned out. My mom’s struggles became her strengths and his challenges became his credits of faithfulness. THEN later they met Jesus.

I met Jesus about a year after that fateful conversation. I was a 20 year Christian when I left the Way. The most difficult challenge was not my believing that God could forgive me. It was my believing that I could ever stand again knowing the integrity and honor I had tossed aside. Could I ever be a person of honor and integrity again, once I had lived in that sin for a time? I was dying inside. I did not tell my father of all that stuff I had chosen, and don’t know that my heart could withstand it, although I know he would forgive me. I felt even worse looking into the word and talking with God and knowing that I had totally betrayed my Savior. I had betrayed my call to walk in honor with Christ. I had failed and lost who I was completely. Not just in Christ, but even without Him. I had no honor and no integrity. That was heart rending for me.

My father, the Navy man, did not tolerate dishonesty. He did not respect it. He did not like when we did not keep our commitments and went to our sports events even if we didn’t, because he figured our commitments became his commitments to support our teams. My father taught me what honor is. My father had high expectations and even greater love for us. My parents were my greatest fans and best encouragers. I was brilliant, kind, wise beyond my years. I was selfless (to their limited understanding of my heart), generous. I was thoughtful and I was … everything good and everything wonderful with a great future and a ton of beautiful things to offer the world. They believed in me and saw my gifts even when I just knew I was a mess.

Then I met Jesus. I already knew that I was living to please my father and now I had met THE father. A life changer. I went from “Pop, you should have an affair,” to “Pop, thanks for never breaking your word to my mom.”

There are so many broken promises in this world, from broken marriages to broken dates to broken hearts because someone let us down in some other way. The one thing I have learned without a shadow of a doubt is that our FATHER in heaven is all promises kept. “We are only as good as our word,” according to my father. And, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  He was with God in the beginning.  Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.  In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it..,” (John 1:1-5). God is as good as His WORD and “the Word was God.” Jesus was the incarnation of God’s WORD. He spoke it and Jesus came to be. I trust that.

My word is good enough and honorable as it can be…BUT GOD’S WORD is it. Just it. IT IS WHAT IT IS AND HE IS WHO HE IS AND WHAT HE SAYS HE DOES. Period. He is the promises kept in this world. And promises I make can only really be kept when I am in Him. I missed myself when I found myself bereft without him “all of a sudden”, as if I hadn’t been slowly walking away a step at a time for a while. I was just waking up to it one day and realized I was lost without Jesus. Without the promise kept.

While we wait for things we desire in our lives and pray for them…stay standing on HIS WORD and walk in His Way. Without it, we are just lost.

 

Jody-Lynne is a Christ follower who is very grateful to be allowed to walk out her journey by journeying with others in her career and in her service to the church as a counselor. She is a Christ follower that has been the prodigal and the welcoming father at different times and she is humbly grateful for both. She longs to share the work that God has done in her life and encourage others to see the work God can do and is doing in theirs. Her joy is growing and journeying with others.

 

In the Meantime

in the meantime

OK, let’s talk about “in the meantime. You know…the “what am I supposed to be doing in the meantime?” What am I supposed to be doing now in this exile?

If we are in a “waiting time,” “a desert,” “exile,” or other somewhat undesirably challenging place called by whatever creative name you choose to use,… what do we do in the meantime as we wait for God to lead us to that “future and hope” that he promised in Jeremiah 29:11. But, Lord, what about right now?

in-the-meantime

In Why Wait Through the Wandering, I wrote about that hope and future in Jeremiah 29: 11 and the hope it offers at the appointed time AFTER the SEVENTY YEAR exile. I know. It sort of sucks just to hear that again, right? 70 years of exile is in the plan. THEN comes the future and the hope. It is the hope I searched for in my exile, when I was more the betrayer of my Lord and realized I was the prodigal. It is the hope that I now count on when I am feeling the exile because I KNOW THAT GOD KEEPS HIS WORD. He is faithful to His people and keeps His promises and honors our obedience in the time of our exiles.

Let’s talk about the “meantime.” The “meantime” the way God has shown us and that He has talked with me about. Let’s back up to the “meantime” in Jeremiah 29:4-9 (NLT):

4 This is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, the God of Israel, says to all the captives he has exiled to Babylon from Jerusalem: 5 “Build homes, and plan to stay. Plant gardens, and eat the food they produce. 6 Marry and have children. Then find spouses for them so that you may have many grandchildren. Multiply! Do not dwindle away! 7 And work for the peace and prosperity of the city where I sent you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it, for its welfare will determine your welfare.” 8 This is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, the God of Israel, says: “Do not let your prophets and fortune-tellers who are with you in the land of Babylon trick you. Do not listen to their dreams, 9 because they are telling you lies in my name. I have not sent them,” says the Lord.

Do you see it? There are instructions. “Build,” “plant gardens and eat,” Marry and reproduce and increase in number, “seek the peace and prosperity” of the city of your exile,” “Pray to the Lord” for your community while in exile, and “DO NOT LET THE PROPHETS AND DIVINERS AMONG YOU DECEIVE YOU.” He says He did not send them. DO NOT STOP LIVING WELL AND ACCORDING TO GOD’S WORD WHILE YOU ARE IN EXILE. I saw it. I heard it. And I guess He moved me to listen to it. I had to wait. I had to move. I was standing for something but moving in obedience intentionally to His word and His voice.

How does this apply to us? Well, while we are in our exiles, whatever they are…unemployment, separation, deployment, dreams and plans that have not come to fruition just yet, waiting on opportunities we want but that have not been presented yet…you know…whatever the exile is, what instructions is God giving us?

Joshua, being strong and courageous was in the command in Deuteronomy 31:6, then he had to be reminded again…”Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous, do not be terrified, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go,” (Joshua 1:9). Let’s take a look at the list I was given. Read, pray, and consider these for yourself:

Ecclesiastes 11:5-7 keep sowing good seed

1 Peter 3:10-12 Keep your tongue from evil and don’t speak deceit. Do good not evil. Seek peace and pursue peace

Psalm 97: 10-12 hate evil, be glad and give thanks

Deuteronomy 28: 1-14 Be obedient to God’s commands

2Corinthians 10:3-6 Fight the spiritual battles in your life the spiritual way, taking every thought captive

Ephesians 4:1-3 …lead a life worthy of your calling, being humble, gentle and patient with each other.

1Thessalonians 5:17 NEVER stop praying

Luke 11:8 pray persistently and be annoying until God answers (ok,that’s loosely translated but you get the point)

Romans 13:8 Love your neighbor and 1Thessalonians 4:9 and each other

Colossians 2:7 grow deep in Christ and BE THANKFUL (1Thessalonians 5:18 in all circumstances)

1Peter 4:10 and Galatians 5:15 Use your gifts to serve others and your freedom to serve one another in love

And HEBREWS 10:25 DO NOT GIVE UP MEETING TOGETHER AND ENCOURAGE ONE ANOTHER!!

There are so many things we must continue to do “in the meantime.” Serve, encourage, pray, focus our thoughts, dig deeper, PRAY, live lives worthy of our calling, be obedient, PRAY CONSISTENTLY AND PERSISTENTLY, (smile), seek peace…pursue peace, speak encouragement and things that build up, BE THANKFUL AND GIVE THANKS in ALL circumstances…and on and on. There are so many things we can work on “in the meantime.” Be available in your churches, your neighborhoods, your family, and your workplaces for God to move through. Sow godly seed and look to see what he will do “in the meantime.”

AND “IN THE MEANTIME,” I am praying for you to see God move in you, your family and your time of exile.

Which instructions are you receiving in your meantime?

 

P.S. Waiting and "in the meantime" are standard protocol in the military. Check out Waiting... Waiting... Waiting at Excellent or Praiseworthy!

Jody-Lynne is a Christ follower who is very grateful to be allowed to walk out her journey by journeying with others in her career and in her service to the church as a counselor. She is a Christ follower that has been the prodigal and the welcoming father at different times and she is humbly grateful for both. She longs to share the work that God has done in her life and encourage others to see the work God can do and is doing in theirs. Her joy is growing and journeying with others.

 

We're linking up with The Alabaster Jar for Marital Oneness Mondays! The Alabaster Jar

Forgotten Valentine, Part 2

forgotten valentine, pt 2

Picking up from yesterday...Jamie had read the words printed on the Valentine's Day card from her husband, given lovingly despite the fact Kris knew Jamie was entrenched in a long term affair... Those words alone are significant...NOW. Then, they weren't. I certainly didn't believe that I was Kristopher's "only" love, but I know it now. I know it and I am grateful.

Reading his words, written in the midst of probably the hardest time in his own life, I can't help but praise God for bringing us through the path of destruction we were creating for ourselves and our marriage. Kris wrote:

"I know I'm awful at expressing it. I know I've failed as a husband. But I love you more than you can possibly know. I want to fight for us. I feel overwhelmed right now. And that is why my mind keeps racing and I keep zoning out trapped in a million thoughts. But I still have hope. I still have faith that God is bigger than all of this. I know that His love and forgiveness is there for both of us, if we'll only accept it. I want you. I want to be with you. And I'll wait for you to want the same."

He also included the passage from Song of Solomon (8:6-7) that we always liked before we got married.

My heart hurts a little still, when I think about how hard it all must have been for him. That he was willing to wait while I decided if I wanted to stay married to him. That he was willing to wait while I tried to find a way to say goodbye to another man, that had taken his place in our marriage for far too long. That he was willing to wait until I let my walls down and let God in.

I can't help but marvel at where we are, not even a year later. I still continue to wonder why God chose to heal our marriage so quickly, when others seem to spend years fighting; or worse...waiting for their spouse to come back home (literally and figuratively). I don't have an answer to that, but I can speak to the pain. That of the one waiting, and the one running.

I waited for 12 1/2 years for God to deliver my husband from an addiction that had held him captive for over 20 years. I didn't wait long enough. After 5 years, I quit trying. I quit hoping. I quit praying. I ran. Like Jonah trying to go anywhere but Nineveh, or Gomer to the arms of countless men, I ran away. But it was never enough. If God hadn't intervened and exposed my sin, I may have kept on running for years.

But my husband was a stander. He would stand and wait for me, not matter how long it took. The words written in the card last year were not in vain or mere words. They were written from the heart of a man who understands what unconditional love is really all about. A man that wanted to fight for our marriage, even when I didn't.

And what I found, and what I am saying, is that no matter how long it takes, there is always hope.

God has the power to break the chains of bondage. He has the power to bring darkness into the light, and break the hearts of those running from Him. Even if He has to strip away everything that they think the love and find fulfillment in, He has the power to do it. We can't guess His timing. At best, we can pray that all who are fighting for their marriages don't have to wait until they are exhausted from hoping. But I am confident that for those who remain faithful to God and to fighting for their marriage, God can take anything that is broken to pieces and put it all back together again. We determine how long the healing process takes. We can give in and let Him heal, or we can fight and be unwilling to forgive, even the deepest hurt.

It's up to us.

What will you choose?

 

As for me, I made the best choice and am blessed beyond measure. By my husband who waited for me. By my God who took the punishment for sins I believed I had to be punished for. By my family that is strengthened now and is learning what family and marriage is really all about. By everything around me. It's indescribable. the joy that comes from fighting for my marriage, against the very real enemy that would seek to destroy marriages everywhere. It isn't enough to simply say that God is good, but He is. Over and over again, He is good.

 

Join us in welcoming our new guest blogger, Jamie Bishop of Loving When It Hurts. She'll share candidly and passionately from her healing heart how to love your spouse, even when it hurts.

Jamie and Kris have been married for just over 13 years. 12 1/2 years of that time, Kris was weighed down by an addiction to pornography. After 5 years of praying and wishing it away, Jamie quit trying and slowly found her way to the arms of another man. That relationship lasted on and off for over seven years before Kris found out about it. A year into God's restoration of our marriage, their story is one of unconditional love, forgiveness, and hope. It is their prayer that their story encourages anyone who is struggling to put the pieces of their marriage back together.

Forgotten Valentine, part 1

Forgotten Valentine, pt 1

While cleaning my room the other night, I came across a card Kris had given me last year, on Valentine's Day. The card tore at my heart, but also left me feeling so blessed to have weathered that initial storm. Valentine's Day 2012 fell between the night Kris found out about my seven year affair and the night that I came home.

He gave me the card the day before I left home, and at the time, I can remember the contempt and bitterness I felt towards him and our marriage. How dare he try to be loving and act as if he would love me through ANYTHING! After everything we had put each other through, I couldn't understand why that card should matter. So I shoved it underneath a pile of things on my nightstand, and until the other night, never looked at it again. I had forgotten about it actually. The week between February 11th and February 19th are a blur to me, and I remember nothing good until the night I went home for good.

Finding the card that night was a shock to me. I didn't even remember it, but as soon as I read it, I recalled everything I had felt when he gave it to me. I felt like it was his shabby attempt to prove something to me. To prove that we could move beyond his pornography addiction and my unfaithfulness. To prove that he was a changed man. At the time, I didn't believe a word of it. I was convinced he would always choose pornography and that somewhere down the line, I would stray again. I didn't believe that either one of us had any hope of escaping the bondage we were each in. I didn't even get Kris a gift or card that year.

Even though Valentine's Day marks the anniversary of when we began dating, last year was the first year that I didn't even try to care. In years past, I pretended to celebrate along with him, that we had made it another year and that we were happy. But in my heart, I was not happy and usually spent that time thinking about the other man in my life, wishing I was spending that "Lover's Holiday" with him instead of my own husband.

Now, looking back, I can't believe the words in the card. Both already printed and those that my husband penned. By Valentine's Day, as I mentioned already, Kris knew the truth. He knew what I had done, the person I had been. The card itself said the following:

"I will stay by your side forever and always.

Happy Valentine's Day, my true and only love."

WOW! Come back tomorrow to read the words Kris wrote to the bride of his youth, even as she sought her fulfillment outside of their marriage.

Join us in welcoming our new guest blogger, Jamie Bishop of Loving When It Hurts. She'll share candidly and passionately from her healing heart how to love your spouse, even when it hurts.

Jamie and Kris have been married for just over 13 years. 12 1/2 years of that time, Kris was weighed down by an addiction to pornography. After 5 years of praying and wishing it away, Jamie quit trying and slowly found her way to the arms of another man. That relationship lasted on and off for over seven years before Kris found out about it. A year into God's restoration of our marriage, their story is one of unconditional love, forgiveness, and hope. It is their prayer that their story encourages anyone who is struggling to put the pieces of their marriage back together.

Why Wait Through the Wandering?

This is what the Lord says: “When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will come to you and fulfill my good promise to bring you back to this place. For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back from captivity.I will gather you from all the nations and places where I have banished you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back to the place from which I carried you into exile.” Jeremiah 29:10-14

Many of us know the “feel good” verse that  is Jeremiah 29:11. It has encouraged me many times over my million year life…ok, not a million, but it sometimes feels like it in the dry spots and deserts. What we often miss about the verse is its context. The plans God had for his people were to be looked forward to AFTER the 70 year exile.

photo credit

 

I miss that so often when I think that whatever it is I am praying for is clearly in the Lord’s will. It is worth circling and I know the request fits the bill of honoring God’s heart. It should happen now. I know it should. Praying for the salvation of a lost someone…praying for the healing of a loved someone…praying for the temptation never to be seen again in my life because I cannot seem to pass the test… And most significantly for many…praying for the restoration of a marriage that you want the Lord to bless and grow to honor Him from a place of desolation and prodigality (if that is a word…sometimes I make them up, and I thought I should be honest about that, since I love words).

Why would God wait? Why will He not respond to my request and plan for myself and my spouse right now? Why is the waiting so much harder than it sounds? And why are the words above, “When seventy years are completed for Babylon,” so incredibly softer in their writing than in their experience?

So many “why?” questions. Most of which we will never really get the answer to. It is not for us to know the “whys” sometimes. God doesn’t want us to stray and wander. He doesn’t want for us to walk in disobedience, but some of us do at times. Some of us seem to have to in order to come out richer and more intimate with Jesus in the after. I am not sure of the whys, but I have done it. I have wandered. And I have been so very lost that I know I never deserved to be forgiven. Neither do your wandered and prodigal spouses. But there God is and there you are ready to forgive and grow through it. Your steadfastness is a testimony to God. If I did not have people praying for me…I would not have made it.

I write this, not as a spouse, but as one who is so thankful that there was God ready to forgive when I returned. I write this as one who is so humbled that there is you ready to forgive and there is you who is standing up for what is righteous. I write this as one who knows that God KEEPS HIS WORD.

For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’  Jeremiah 29:11

BELOVED, KEEP STANDING!!! God rewards the faithful. It may not always be when we want. It may not always seem to be just what we want. BUT IT IS ALWAYS JUST WHAT WE NEED.

You are prayed for. You are thought of. You are a testimony. YOU ARE HIS. As we journey together in this standing. I know “standing” feels like you aren’t moving at all. But your prayers and standing with and for each other are moving mountains. I am so grateful for the journey that brought me to the passion for praying and the passion for marriages and parenting and families. I stand with you for all of those things. I pray with you and for you, for all of those things.

And mostly, I was a prodigal who came home. I cannot tell you how grateful I was there was somebody waiting and ready to love me and help me to start growing in the right direction again. Thank you for being those “someones” in your prodigal spouse's lives.

In His Great Love and With mine,

Jody-Lynne

From Scott: Jody-Lynne is an amazing woman of God, gifted counselor, and a great friend of ours. She is part of the guest blogging team for Intentionally Standing, which is moving to Wednesdays!

5 steps to standing for your marriage

5 steps to standing for your marriage

The questions are swirling, circumstances haunting, and you can't even get out of bed. The sun seems to have set on your home, but oh friend, God has an amazing restoration in store for you! I know that in this moment that seems impossible, maybe even undesirable...but God. God restores marriages everyday. He brings back prodigal spouses who swear they will never come home. He breaks the bondage of the sin of that adulterous relationship. Daily. In this moment, it seems that you will barely survive the next 5 minutes, but God is doing 1000 things in this one thing....beyond what you can think, ask or even imagine.

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why should I fight for my marriage?

why should I fight for my marriage?

He/she walked out and here you sit in the ashes of a brokenness that words can not even describe. Advice is cheap and talk is worse. All you want to do is drown out the noise. But it's impossible. Fears, unknowns, and what-ifs taunt as if they were playground bullies. The mountain of circumstances is so high you can't even see the peak. And every moment feels alone. Oh, but friend, you are not alone. So many have walked this path and your God, HE has already gone before you.

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A beginner's guide to standing for your marriage

A beginner's guide to standing for your marriage

A new day dawns, but the darkness remains. The pillow scarcely dry from the tears, I can't bear to lift my head and face the day. Thoughts of being a single mom haunt and my frailty becomes obvious. I've filled my mind with HIS promises, but the words of my heart scream...

I'm tired. I'm worn from the work it takes to keep on breathing...

My soul feels crushed by the weight of this world...

I know that you can give me rest, so I'll cry out with all that I have left...

Let me see redemption win let me know the struggle ends... that you can mend a heart that's frail and torn.  I wanna know a song can rise from the ashes of a broken life and all that's dead inside can be reborn.

(lyrics from Worn by Tenth Avenue North)

Oh friend, if you have landed on this blog searching for help with the destruction of your family, you have come to the right place. There is hope in your despair. We don't have to give up the fight and accept "every other weekend" as the future of our family. We don't have to live broken. There is redemption, restoration, and promise over our lives and our families. Oh, I hope you read that!

Ready to fight? Good. Come back here next Tuesday as we walk together through why you should stand for your marriage, what it means to stand, how to stand and much more. You will want to subscribe via email, so you don't miss a single post in the series!

Can't wait?

Should I fight for my marriage will get you fired up for this journey.

The series:

Why Should I fight for my Marriage?

5 Steps to standing for your marriage

Intentionally Yours is a 501(c)3 organization committed to sharing God's truth, hope and vision for marriage until every home is a godly home. Your donation is more than a tax deduction- it’s a tool to empower us to continue changing lives, marriages, and legacies. Will you partner with us in this mission? Thank you for your support!

praying scripture to change your life

If I had to name one thing in my life that has completely changed my walked with God, it's writing and praying scripture that has been personalized with names. There is nothing more moving in my soul than proclaiming God's truth and promises. Before you pull out your list of verses that you already pray over, let me tell you one mistake I've made. Sometimes as standers we can get so wrapped up in praying for our spouse that we forget that God has a plan for our own lives. I've been diligent to pray over my circumstances, my children, and even my beloved, yet often neglected myself. This may appear on the surface as a self-less act of love, but it's not. The best way that I can love my family is to seek healing for myself. And God intends to do a great work in my life, as well as the life of every stander. He didn't intend to bring us through this fire without refining us. He wants change!

So friend, let us pray scripture over ourselves so that we will be prepared for the work that God is doing in our circumstances. Here are some of my favorites...

 

________ believed God and it was credited to him/her as righteousness. Romans 4:3

 

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed ______ in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose _____ in him before the foundation of the world, that he/she should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined ______ for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace... Eph. 1:3-8

 

No unbelief made ________ waver concerning the promise of God, but he/she grew strong in faith as he/she gave glory to God, fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised. Romans 4:20-21

 

I trust in the Lord with all my heart, and do not lean on my own understanding. In all my ways I acknowledge him, and he will make straight my paths. Prov. 3:5-6

 

I am from God and have overcome them, for he who is in ME is greater than he who is in the world. 1 john 4:4

 

When _______ was reviled, he/she did not revile in return; when he/she suffered, he/she did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself/herself to him who judges justly. 1 Peter 2:23

 

The Lord your God is with ___________, the Mighty Warrior who saves. He will take great delight in him/her; in his love he will no longer rebuke __________, but will rejoice over him/her with singing. Zeph. 3:17

 

God is in the midst of __________; he/she will not be moved. God will help him/her when morning dawns. Psalm 46:5

 

Come join us at Intentionally Standing, a private Facebook group for encouragement.

this seat is saved

The pews filled quickly as I searched for my friend. A sea of smiling faces, dressed in their finest attire gathered to worship. I take the seat beside her as the music begins. Surrounded by couples and families, I fix my gaze on the screen and pour my heart out to God. But I don't miss it. A woman leans in and whispers something in her husband's ear. He pulls her close and they worship within each other's embrace. My heart sinks. I remember the days when my beloved stood beside me. The days when we stood arm in arm before a holy God in adoration. Tears swell and I fight to stuff the pain down. The pastor continues and we open our Bibles. I'm focused on the scripture but I don't miss it. Just down the pew a man reaches over and clasps his wife's hand as they read the Word together. The pain surrounds me.

For years I've desperately pretended not to notice the vast loneliness next to me. Yet, it burns more than I care to admit.

My mind flashes back to that first Sunday. I stood at the door watching his break lights in the distance, just hours before church. That night sleep never came, just promises whispered from my Father. Sore from grieving I wandered into the church as if nothing had changed. I slipped in next to a friend and her husband. In front of me, behind me and everywhere I could see were happy couples and godly daddies. Tears fell from the first moment till the last. Then 7 days later we did it again. And then 7 days later we did it again. For months and then years I would come. The tears became less frequent and the friends began to fade into the crowd.

For years, the seat beside me has stood empty and my heart cried out for relief. I find my mind wandering into dangerous waters as I imagine what it would be like to fill that seat and once again worship as a family. I've entertained the thought that perhaps God has someone else planned for me. I've listened to the pleas of a single man and found myself wanting to say yes.

But this morning I watch as a godly daddy holds hands with his bride over their open Bible. The beauty overwhelms. One man, one woman...forever.

Suddenly the words of the pastor come back into focus... There is a difference between knowledge of God's word and acceptance. His words sear my heart. I'm embarased that I haven't a clue what he has even said up until this point, but have no doubt that God intended his sentence to invade. I know the promise, but I don't always accept it. I plead for it to be different. Beg that the pain would be taken from me and all the while my gaze is fixed on the one thing that has no significance in my life.

I glance at the empty seat and the folded hands over their Bible. Tears swell as I remember. I'm saving this seat for my beloved. No one else can ever fill it.

How about you? Will you save that seat?

Friend, if you are looking for encoruagement to fight for your marriage, please join us in a private facebook group: Intentionally Standing.

But our marriage was a sin to begin with

but our marriage was a sin to begin with

She was in her early twenties and life had already handed her brokenness. Instead of clinging to God, she clung to men. From bed to bed she drowned her sorrows in temporary pleasures. Until one day her prince came along. He was tall and handsome and sure to ride off with her into the sunset. The thought of leaving the brokenness behind blurred any right thinking. They moved in together ignoring the Word that was buried deep inside. It didn't take long before he would slip a ring on her finger and make it "right."

Days turned into years and the couple grew closer to the God that they had snuffed out with the world's sinful delights. Bible studies replaced trashy movies and their circle of friends spent more time in the pews than the bars. One by one, they added tiny little ones to the family and embarked upon their happily ever after.

But it turned out that there was no such thing. Unresolved sin issues in both of their lives had been stuffed down by Bible studies and church attendance, but they hadn't been dealt with. One temptation after another led to a slippery slope straight into the pit.  He left, she cried. She wanted to save the marriage and make things right, but he claimed that God would never bless their marriage because it started in sin.

Sound familiar? For thousands of couples, this is the excuse. Somehow we buy this lie that if we didn't start our marriage off right, that surely it's doomed for destruction. We use our former sins as an excuse. I've heard it over and over again. "We slept together before we were married, so God will never bless us. Now the only thing to do is to make it right by getting a divorce."

Maybe it doesn't sound absurd to you, but think of it this way. A young girl walks into a pastor's office 4 months pregnant. She doesn't even know who the father is. The baby was just the result of one of many late night parties with too much alcohol and not enough sense. This pregnancy began in sin. Deep, ugly sin. Now she thinks she should abort the baby to make it right. Seriously? I think we would all agree that killing a baby conceived in sin IS NOT right in God's eyes. He values life and abortion is never permitted. This girl's thinking is clearly absurd.

Saying that God will not bless a marriage that started off in sin is just as stupid. This is a lie straight from the pit. A lie that has been told since the beginning of time. The one that says- we can decide for ourselves what God REALLY said. That's what Eve did. One little temptation and she reframed God's words to fit into her desires. But God never gave us the choice to decide what is right and wrong. He has been clear since the beginning. We just choose to circumvent His words in search for something that satisfies our sinful hearts.

 

So what does God say about marriages that begin in sin?

  • God's word says that all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God (Rom 3:23). Heaven help us if we think our marriages are exempt! Every marriage is a union of two broken, lost and sinful people apart from God. Knowing that is the first step in reclaiming our marriages.
  • Second, we must acknowledge sin and ask for forgiveness. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive and cleanse us from unrighteousness (1 John 1:9). There are no exceptions, including your marriage. True, there may be consequences, but divorce WILL NOT help you to escape those consequences.  Instead it will heap more upon you.
  • Know that you can not fix your sin by doing something. Divorce decrees, hours of praying, and  countless good deeds will never erase sinful behavior... just Jesus. Friend, JESUS paid the price for that sin. You are already free from it! There is no further action to take. (1 peter 2:24)
  • Last but not least, love your spouse like Christ loved the church (Eph 5). Be willing to die for your spouse, no matter what his/her behavior looks like. Sacrifice your own desires to love the one that you vowed to love. Forever.

The promise? For in due time, God will lift up your head (Psalm 3:3). He will restore what the locusts have eaten (Joel 2:25).  He will rebuild the ruins (Ez 36:36). Even if it ALL began in sin.

Friend, may we believe Him for redemption of our marriages with unshakable and unchangeable faith!

Looking for encouragement as you walk through the valley? Join us in a private Facebook group for standers: Intentionally Standing.

 

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