Q and A

Okay, I took a deep breath since yesterday. I want to make sure you understand when I talk about Christians divorcing I am not talking about those who have no choice because the law allows their spouse to divorce even if they don’t want to. I am talking about Christians who both walk away from a marriage and declare that nothing can be done. When one spouse decides to take a powerful stand in the spirit to see the marriage healed, that sends an entirely different, very healthy message. Just want to make sure that is clear.

I’d like to start answering questions today that have been submitted by followers of this blog.

Question: How did you pray while you were standing? Were you scared?

Answer: When I first began standing I was terrified. I was pregnant with our third child, our two other children were terribly wounded by what was happening, and I didn’t know of one person who had stood for their marriage. I didn’t know what the future held for us and I didn’t know what to do. I was an emotional basket case and I was filled with fear and doubt. All I knew was the Lord had told me if I was willing to stand, He would be there for me.

Our pastor says that sometimes the most effective prayer is, “Help!” That was my initial prayer. It was usually prayed as I sobbed uncontrollably, clutching my Bible, trying to figure out what to do next. The hurt was so deep and so painful and I felt so worthless and abandoned. I was not a woman of faith or courage. I vacillated between hopelessness and fury. One minute I wanted God to heal our marriage and the next I just wanted to kill the two of them. No wonder people watching me thought I should just move on with my life.

Gradually, though, the peace of the Lord began to sink into my heart. I couldn’t explain it. Nothing really had changed in the natural. If anything, things had gotten worse. Yet in the midst of all of that, the Lord began to forge within me a solid faith that He was at work. It didn’t happen overnight. Every waking moment I clung to Him. Every moment I was not taking care of children or working or completing household chores, I sat in His presence and read the Word. I was bankrupt emotionally and spiritually and being in His presence was the only place I could find peace from the storm around me. I think that gradually the peace of being with Him began to calm my heart and clear my head. Faith had been planted in my heart and was beginning to grow.

At first my prayers were very basic and very scattered. I prayed for God to take care of my children and me, I prayed for food and other necessities, and I prayed for my husband to come home. Sometimes my prayers were uttered in a moment of panic and other times they flowed in a more settled emotion. Basically, though, they were survival prayers.

As time passed and as I learned to hear the voice of the Lord more clearly, my prayers changed to praying scripture for my husband and our marriage and family. I had begun to realize that the attack on our marriage was really a demonic plan to destroy our family and home. This helped me to remember that I was not fighting flesh and blood. The Lord had begun healing my heart, so things weren’t all about me anymore. My own pain had subsided somewhat and I could focus on my husband who was caught in the enemy’s snare.

I began to realize that I was not a victim but a victor in Christ. My husband was the one who was caught in the clutches of the enemy. I was free in Christ and in Him I was more than a conqueror. As I began to get God’s perspective, I began to pull out of the focus on me and my problems and began to fight spiritual warfare on my husband’s behalf.  (2 Corinthians 10:3-5)

Eventually (after a couple years) my prayers became very focused. I would wake in the morning and ask the Lord what demons were assigned to my husband that day. The Lord would very clearly reveal to me the enemy’s plans for the day. I would then bind those spirits and declare their assignments cancelled and I would pray for Michael to recognize those areas of his life where the enemy was working.

I think the key for me was the more time I spent with the Lord, the greater the compassion that He placed in my heart for Michael. Eventually I could pray for him with the love and compassion of the Lord, not my own emotions or desires.

Everyone’s journey is unique but I would encourage you to spend every moment you can in the presence of the Lord. He will transform your heart and give you vision far beyond your own. He will also replace your hurt with a powerful love and compassion that is not limited to human love. There were many days when I did not love my husband, but the Lord never stopped loving Him. He went to the cross to see Michael set free and that love is what carried me when I had none of my own left.

So many times people say to me, ” I want to see our marriage healed. I love him (her) so much!” Believe me, human love is not enough. It will not endure the days ahead. It will not survive betrayal and rejection. The love that Jesus has, though, endures through everything. Draw on Him today. Lose yourself in Him. Rest in Him and find peace! Love, Marilyn

“But You, O Lord, are a God of compassion and gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in mercy and truth.” Psalm 86:15<

“Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

Don’t Give Up!

Our youngest son has begun an incredible exercise regimen. He found that he was plateauing on his previous workouts, so he is now working on a new program that prevents plateaus. When the kit arrived, he was reading some of the material to me and one phrase really struck me. “Most people give up far too soon.”

As he began the daily regimen, I realized why they had warned him up front. He works out for an hour and a half every day and the workout is brutal. Yet every time he feels he has reached the point of quitting, the video encourages him, “You can do more.” He told me that he would have given up long ago if he had not been encouraged continually to keep going.

Of course my mind immediately drew the parallel to the stamina and courage it takes to stand for a marriage – and to the fact that “Most people give up far too soon.” That’s why it’s important to have folks cheering you on and telling you frequently, “You can do more!”

I saw other parallels with the exercise program as well. Not too many people are willing to push their bodies so vigorously. Not many begin an exercise program that tough and even among those who do, many drop out when it gets too hard.

When the enemy attacks a marriage, not many people realize that the problem is the enemy and not their spouse. Not many are willing to take a stand and fight for their marriage. And of those who are, not many continue on when circumstances or people convince them they should stop. That is why we all need encouragement just like our son receives from the video he watches.

The Holy Spirit is our number one coach and encourager. When we’re exhausted or discouraged, He is right there to cheer us on. When circumstances seem to overwhelm us, He reminds us that it is not by might or by power but by the Spirit that victory comes. When we are hurting, He is the great Comforter. When we need direction, He brings us divine wisdom. His is the voice we need to hear when we want to give up.

We also need the encouragement of each other. That is why we always recommend that those who are standing for their marriage become a part of a support group, such as a Covenant Keeper’s meeting. It is important to encourage one another. Not only do we get blessed but we also learn to move beyond our own needs by reaching out to others.

Every January it seems that the whole world decides to get in shape. Commercials for diet programs and exercise equipment bombard the airways. People are making New Year’s resolutions and determining that this year will be different. Yet by March it is amazing how many have abandoned all hope of ever getting in shape. Newly purchased exercise equipment sits gathering dust and diet programs have either been discarded or are on sale on eBay.

It takes courage and determination to follow through. The pain of staying the same must be greater than the pain of change in order to endure the effort needed to change.

It is the same with standing. First of all, we need to realize that change is possible. The Lord’s desire for our marriages is not to paste us back together in the same state we were in when the trauma began. His desire is to heal each of our hearts so that we are whole and healthy in Him. He wants our marriages to be filled with unity and power. Change in our hearts and in our relationships comes through Him. Our part is staying steady and faithful while He works.

So realize that you are in this for the long haul. It is going to take time. It is going to take effort. Look for those who will encourage you and and avoid those who want to help you quit. Realize that if it were easy, everyone would do it. It is not easy, but just as with physical exercise, as you exercise your faith, you will begin to see results. Think of the Holy Spirit as your personal trainer and follow His direction. And remember, most people give up far too soon! Love, Marilyn

“You were running a good race. Who cut in on you and kept you from obeying the truth? That kind of persuasion does not come from the one who calls you.” Galatians 5:7,8

“Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us…” Hebrews 12:1

It Seems the World Is Always Winning

Sometimes it does seem like the world is winning, that their way is prospering. It can be frustrating to pray and believe and wait on the Lord only to see that what happens is the exact opposite of what we are seeking. And many times those around us seem to understand more what the world is doing than what we are.

When Michael told me that he was leaving me to marry my best friend, I thought that all our friends would be on my side. Both our family and her family were members of the same church. I thought our pastor would be totally against the divorce and would stand with me for healing. Actually, just the opposite happened.

Our pastor told me it was inevitable that our marriage was over and that Michael was going to remarry. He said there really was nothing I could do about it. The biggest shock for me, though, came when our friends began double dating with Michael and his new love. They were invited to dinner at the homes of mutual friends and they frequently went out with couples we had known for years. Many of them told me that I should just let Michael go and stop trying to ruin his life. In a very short amount of time I began to feel alienated in my own church. It was as if I had become the other woman.

All of those experiences were reality, but were they truth? That is what the Lord began to teach me. Truth is what God says – plain and simple. There is a reason that scripture asks, “Who has believed our message and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?” God says one thing, the world says another. And the world works hard to reinforce what it says and believes. We are constantly surrounded by evidence that seems to prove that the world is right.

Yet God has told us something very different. Where then is the evidence of what He says? Why do we not see it readily all around us and why does it often seem like an uphill battle to experience His truths?

First of all, God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth. (John 4:24) Everything that comes from God originates in the spirit realm. God speaks things before we see them in the natural. Jesus, who was the promised redemption of mankind in the Garden of Eden, came to earth in God’s timing – God’s Word became flesh – what God said came into the natural.

Remember Hebrews 11:1 – “Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.” When we begin standing in faith we have God’s word but as yet it is not seen with our natural eyes. Standing in faith means believing before we see it. “… while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.” (2 Corinthians 4:17-18)

All of this sounds great in sermons, but it is a bit harder when we are walking it out. It is much easier to see earthly things. They are all around us but they are temporary. What really matters and what really will stand permanently is what is not seen.

How well this was illustrated to me when I was standing. The seemingly permanent situation with my husband and his girlfriend eventually passed away and he went on to other women. While that was not very consoling to me, it did illustrate that if we focus on what our natural eyes can see, we will never have a stable place to stand permanently. What God had told me stood and eventually came to pass. What the world told me just passed away.

That is why if you are focusing on what your spouse is doing or saying or what the circumstances around you seem to be dictating, you will always be in turmoil. They are all only temporary and will change frequently. It’s like building your life on shifting sand.

When you begin to focus on what God says, though, you will find greater peace and stability in your life. You may not yet see with your natural eyes what He has said, but you will know that what He says is true and you can trust Him to bring it to pass in His timing.

Remember that the twelve spies all saw the very same things. Ten believed the circumstances and two believed God. Until the day we leave this earth, we will constantly be faced with the same choice. And remember, even the two who believed God still had to obey Him and fight to take the Promised Land. Faith in God gives us the vision and the strength to overcome what we face in the natural.

Even though our pastor and all our friends treated me like the other woman, God recognized me as my husband’s wife. When my husband’s lover flaunted her relationship with my husband openly in our small town, God assured me that I was still the wife of his youth. The two of us were still one, no matter what others thought or said. That gave me standing to pray for my husband as no one else on earth could. So while others believed I was no longer relevant in my husband’s life, I believed God who had made us one. God’s eternal word stood and the world’s temporary words eventually passed away.

Be encouraged today! As you stand, God is at work. His spoken word is going forth, transforming and renewing. Don’t let the temporary that you can see bring fear to your heart. Stand instead firm on what you can’t see. It is eternal and true. Love, Marilyn

“Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful…” Hebrews 12:28

“Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him; do not fret when men succeed in their ways, when they carry out their wicked schemes.” Psalm 37:3

The Road Is the Journey

This morning my grandson was watching the movie Cars and Sally was explaining Route 66 to Lightening McQueen. She shared how the road used to follow the countryside, twisting and turning as it flowed along. Then the freeway was built and it cut through the land, no longer following its contours. She concluded with a statement something like this, “Instead of trying to make time on the road, people used to have a good time on the road.”

That little phrase caught my attention. I thought of how many times we try to find the freeway to get to what we want from the Lord. Our goal is to make time, to cut through, to get answers as fast as we can. Yet many times the Holy Spirit wants to take us on the scenic route.

I remember traveling across country when I was a little girl. Every summer our family took a trip somewhere to experience more of our land. Back in the dark ages we didn’t have air conditioning in cars so summer travel meant driving with the windows down. The hot air blew throughout the car and by the end of the day everything was covered with dust including our skin and our hair. The roar of the wind made conversation nearly impossible and we didn’t have iPods or earphones or anything else for that matter that made a sound loud enough to hear over the wind. So the whole trip was spent pretty much looking out the windows and watching the countryside.

Sometimes we played games to pass the time. If we were near civilization, we’d play the Alphabet Game and see who would be the fastest to find words starting with each letter of the alphabet. Out in the country, though, games consisted of looking for certain types of vegetation or rock formations.

At some point during the day we would stop to eat, usually a lunch my mom had packed since my folks weren’t big on fast food. My sister and I would run around the park where we stopped to burn up all the pent up energy we had accumulated. Sometimes we’d visit with other travelers and learn where they had been and where they were going.

Then we’d all get back in the car and continue on our journey. I didn’t realize it at the time but those trips left me with a rich appreciation of our wonderful country with its variety of landscapes and climates and delightful people. The journey was so much a part of the experience that actually arriving where we were headed was almost anticlimactic.

Now I often wonder if that isn’t how our Christian walk is to be. I believe sometimes the Holy Spirit loads us into a spiritual car that isn’t air conditioned. It’s not very comfortable and it seems the wind is always blowing. It’s hard to get anyone to hear us when we try to share what is happening in our lives. Occasionally we have wonderful moments of fellowship with other travelers and then it’s back on the road again.

The Holy Spirit never takes us on the freeway. His road is always winding through the twists and turns of life. Our goal is to arrive at our destination, so we want the fastest trip possible. But His goal is the journey, so He is in no hurry. I think the key is we can either complain about the trip or we can look out the window and begin to enjoy the scenery.

Are you seeking answers from the Lord and possibly feeling a little impatient that He isn’t a bit faster? Are you so focused on where you want to be that you aren’t enjoying where you are? Maybe when you get to where you’re going you will need what you’ve learned along the way.

A really interesting study is see in scripture how many things happened to people when they were on a journey. Paul was converted on the road to Damascus. The servants of Cornelius were on a journey to find Peter when he had his rooftop experience to prepare him to go to the Gentiles. Journeys are very important. Maybe today is the day to refocus and begin to see what the Lord wants to show you along the journey. One thing is for sure, He knows where you are going and He knows how to get you there. The important thing is, you need to let Him do the driving. He has a wonderful trip planned. Love,  Marilyn

“By day the Lord went ahead of them in a pillar of cloud to guide them on their way and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, so that they could travel by day or night.”  Exodus 13:21

“As [Paul] neared Damascus on his journey, suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him.”  Acts 9:3

A Great Cloud of Witnesses

There are many who say that the Book of Acts is still being written today. I personally believe so is Hebrews 11.

That chapter begins with, “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” Then follows a lengthy list of people who stood in faith, despite incredible odds, believing what God had said. The Faith Hall of Fame begins with Abel and includes Noah, Abraham, Sarah, Moses David, and Samuel, among others. Each one is remembered for standing in faith while facing daunting circumstances. Everyone of them had to put “feet to their faith” by trusting God as they fought battles, faced torture, or just lived day to day while waiting to see the promise of God fulfilled.

Faith is always tested and perfected in the dark. It may be the dark of circumstances, or the dark of loss, or just the dark of not seeing what we want to see. I don’t think faith ever comes easily.

Those who speak glibly of the ease of faith have usually not been tested in it. Sometimes they remind me of my early days as a labor and delivery nurse. I had not yet had a baby of my own and it was easy for me to refer to “discomfort” when talking with a patient about labor. When I had my first child, I discovered the depth of “discomfort” that labor brings. After that I approached labor and delivery quite differently when working with patients. Experience taught me that talk is cheap and easy if we haven’t been tested in an area.

Those who walk in faith through hard times and circumstances come to know the true depth of believing God against all odds. God pours out an amazing grace on those who choose to stand in faith. His grace makes it possible to weather the circumstances and keep our eyes fixed on Jesus, the Author and Finisher of our faith.

Those who watch do not have that grace. I remember what Corrie ten Boom shared in one of her books. Her family was hiding Jews in their home and she had asked her father how they would be able to face what the Natzis would do to them if they were ever caught. Her father told her that when they rode the train, they always got their ticket just before they got on. He said that God would give them the ticket (the grace) to face it when the time came. Her testimony reflected how very powerful that grace was in the hour it was needed.

Too many people today believe that grace gives us the freedom to do what we want. They remind us that we are under grace and not the law when they choose to do something contrary to the Word of God. I believe that grace gives us the courage and ability to do what is required of us, even when it is not easy. Grace enables us to follow the Word of God and trust the Lord in the darkest of circumstances.

Those who watch you stand and believe God for the healing of your marriage do not have the grace to do what you are doing. They may tell you to forget about your spouse and just get on with your life. This counsel probably comes out of their love for you or because they feel sorry for you. They see only the painful circumstances and want to spare you the hurt.

You cannot expect them to understand what you know in your heart. Understand that they love you and just love them back. Don’t be discouraged by their desire to remove you from a place of faith. Hebrews 12 begins with this amazing statement, “Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses…” That cloud of witnesses is all those who have gone before us and stood in faith! All those listed in Hebrews 11 are witnesses to what you are doing in this hour. Just think of that. Abraham, Sarah, Moses, and David are watching you and cheering you on in faith!

Hebrews 12 continues, “…let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”

Not only do you have a great cloud of witnesses cheering you on, but you have Jesus as your example. He endured the cross with all its shame and pain because of the joy that was set before Him. He now sits at the right Hand of God, encouraging you through pain and shame to see the joy that is now set before you.

There is a joy that comes from knowing what God wants to do. Remember that faith is the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things not seen. When you can see it in the spirit long before you see it in the natural, joy will follow. And God’s grace will carry you through the dark times. Love,  Marilyn

“Therefore strengthen the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees, and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be dislocated, but rather be healed. ” Hebrews 12:12

“These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full.” John 15:11

He Won’t Let You Down

Times are tough. There’s no way around it. Prices are up and even essentials are a challenge to buy. Our children are grown now and sometimes when I am in the grocery store realizing how much we spend for just two people, I wonder how people with children can even afford to feed them.

What do you do when there seems to be no provision for you or your family? How do you pray? What do you believe God to do?

One day while we were praying over some things the Lord had spoken to us in the ministry, God began to speak to us about the word provision. The prefix pro means for so provision means for the vision. The Lord began to show us that He provides specifically to fulfill the visions He gives. We began to realize that day why without a vision, the people perish. If you have no vision, you have no way of seeking provision. If you have a vision, then you pray specifically for what is needed to see it come to pass.

Do you have a vision of your future? Are you just moving from day to day or do you know what God has spoken to you about the future? When God has spoken His vision to you, the provision follows the vision.

Is your mind cluttered with fear of disaster? Do you fear what tomorrow may bring? Do you envision the very worst? Is that what you are praying for God to bless? Or have you spent time with the Lord and know you can trust Him to care for you and your family? Do you know what He plans for you? Do you trust Jeremiah 29:11? Are you waiting for your spouse to provide for you or do you know the Lord will do it?

One day years ago I was reading Genesis 24 when Abraham sent out his servant to find a bride for his son Isaac. When the servant arrived in the city of Nahor, he prayed that the Lord would send a woman to offer him a drink and then offer to water his camels. Rebekah was the young woman who did just that. Then, after offering water to the servant, she watered all his camels.

Now camels that have been on a long journey are very thirsty. Rebekah had a pitcher with which she filled the trough from which the camels drank. Can you imagine how many trips that took and how much water she must have poured out for those camels?

God blessed Rebekah for her efforts. The servant gave her beautiful jewelry and took her back with him to become Isaac’s wife. She became part of the lineage of Jesus. She was faithful and God gave her what she needed. What if He had blessed her back with what she gave out? Just think of all the water that would have poured into her life!

But Rebekah didn’t need water. God knew what she needed and He provided for her. Many times God asks us to pour out into the lives of others in an area where we have absolutely no need and then He pours back into our lives in the area where our need exists.

What if Rebekah had been praying for a husband and that day instead of going to the well, she had stayed home concentrating on her own need. By focusing on herself she would have missed the answer to her prayer.

God is responsible to meet your needs. He has promised He would. (Philippians 4:19) What you are responsible to do is to minister to others in His name. If you put your life on hold and focus only on what you need, you may miss the provision of the Lord.

In the early days of the ministry we were just learning to step out and obey the Lord. A woman who was standing for her marriage asked us to go to her home to pray with her. We had no money and were glad we had enough gas in our car that we didn’t have to buy any. We spent several hours with her and watched the Lord take her from the depths of despair to a place of hope and joy. She was moving to another city the next week and as we were leaving her home that day, she asked us if we could use some groceries that she couldn’t take with her. Little did she know we had nothing in our cupboards and her offer was a true miracle to us!

But the miracle really happened when she opened a door that led to a large pantry with every shelf filled with groceries. “Please take it all, if you can,” she said to us. “I can’t move any of it and I will just be throwing it out if you don’t take it.”

She began to bring us grocery bags and we filled every one of them. That night as we drove home we were alternately crying and laughing and praising God the whole way. We had gone beyond ourselves to meet someone else’s needs and God had poured His provision into our lives.
I don’t know what God has planned for you or how He is going to do it in your life. I do know, though, that He can be trusted to care for you and your family. The more you can look beyond yourself and into the needs of others, the more you will see His blessing pour out into your life. The holidays are a good time to reach out to others in acts of service and love. What can you do to bless others at this time? What can you teach your children about serving others? These days may be tough, but they may also provide some of the precious lessons they will learn. Love, Marilyn

“I will abundantly bless her provision;I will satisfy her poor with bread. Psalm 132:15

“But in all things we commend ourselves as ministers of God: in much patience, in tribulations, in needs, in distresses…” 2 Corinthians 6:4

What Do You Do When You Think It’s Your Fault

Sometimes individuals who want to stand for their marriage wonder if they can because of something they have done. Perhaps they have committed adultery or filed for divorce or been the abuser. Maybe that was you. And now the Lord has changed your heart and your life and you want to stand in the gap for your marriage. Yet since you blame yourself, you aren’t sure if you can truly stand.

If you think about it, that’s kind of like shooting yourself in the foot and then wondering if you can get medical care. Wouldn’t it be sad to sit home and bleed to death because you felt you weren’t qualified to ask for help?

That’s how we are with the Lord sometimes. We make mistakes and then convince ourselves that what we have done disqualifies us from asking God for help. In fact, those are the very times when we most need to run to Him and cry out for His grace and mercy.

That’s why we need Jesus. If we could fix things ourselves or if we never made mistakes or if we always did the right thing today so that tomorrow would have no problems, we wouldn’t need His redemptive love and power. As it is, though, we take a lot of wrong turns in life and far too often only hindsight is 20/20.

The thief on the cross said to Jesus, “Lord, remember me when You come into Your kingdom.” And Jesus said to him, “Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise.” That is God’s standard. Those who seek forgiveness, are granted full pardon. There is no longer any debt due to sin.

Are there still consequences in this world? Of course there are. You may be walking through some of the consequences of past decisions and actions right now. That doesn’t mean, though, that you can’t make good decisions today that God will honor.

So if you made poor choices in the past, if you said or did things that you now regret, there is one simple solution. Repent! Ask God to forgive you and then repent also to those who were affected by what you said or did.

I remember when I was standing every time I lost my temper or did anything that was contrary to the Lord’s direction for me, He would remind me to repent. That meant not only asking the Lord for forgiveness, but also going to Michael and asking his forgiveness. There were many times when I struggled with that. I had a hard time asking forgiveness of someone who said he didn’t love me, didn’t want me around, and was in open adultery with other women. I felt like my “little” sin wasn’t much by comparison.

On top of that, Michael never received my repentance with any kind of loving acceptance. He would either make fun of me or just laugh in my face. I used to wonder why on earth the Lord would have me do something that seemed so lacking in meaning to my husband.

It wasn’t until years later that Michael shared with me what happened to his heart every time I repented. He said it was the one thing that would break through his hard heart and cause him to feel sorrow. Although his outward reaction was always negative, each time I asked for his forgiveness, the Lord softened his heart a bit more. One day Michael was finally able to repent and receive the forgiveness of the Lord for his own life.

So no matter what you did yesterday or even today, the important thing is that you repent and receive the forgiveness of the Lord. He will then direct you as to what you need to do regarding others. Repentance keeps your heart soft and malleable on the potter’s wheel. It also demonstrates the love and kindness of God to others. And it takes away the condemnation the enemy tries to bring when you stand strong in faith.

So the next time the enemy reminds you of what you have done, just remind him of what Jesus has done. Then stand firm on the Word of God and believe He will do what He has promised! Love, Marilyn

“But go and learn what this means: I desire mercy and not sacrifice. For I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance.” Matthew 9:13

“I say to you that likewise there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine just persons who need no repentance.” Luke 15:7

Our Hearts Deceive Us

Last night I had a really tough discussion with our youngest son. He challenged me regarding my attitude toward a member of our family who has hurt me a lot in the past. I thought I had dealt with my issues and so I was a bit defensive (actually more than a bit) when he confronted me. He asked me if I thought that was the way Jesus would handle the situation. That only turned up the heat of my reaction.

At first I responded, “Well, who are you to talk. Here’s what you have done with this person in the past. Your reaction was even worse than mine.” He readily admitted it had been, but then went on to share how Jesus had dealt with his heart and he had repented. His answer was, “Neither one of us was responding correctly, Mom.” He was right.

When our hearts have been hurt, we can justify all kinds of words and reactions. I learned that long ago when I was standing, but that doesn’t mean that I always recognize when I’m slipping back into that pattern. Sometimes it takes someone who really loves us to confront ungodly behavior in our lives. It was a hard conversation, but it was an honest one filled with love. In the end I knew he was right. I had given lip service to forgiveness, but I had hardened my heart against that person to protect myself from further hurt.

Jesus is the only one who can protect our hearts and keep them healthy at the same time. When we choose to protect ourselves, we can only do that by walling ourselves off from others.

I remember years ago during a counseling session the Lord showed me a line of weak little men dressed in underwear. Each one had a pie plate on his head for a helmet and carried a stick in one hand and a garbage can lid in the other. They were running frantically to and fro in a state of panic. I had to laugh at how inept they seemed.

I asked the Lord what on earth they were and I will always remember His reply. “They are the army you have established for your own to protection.” That day I realize that compared to what Jesus had to offer, my own resources were pretty pathetic. And yet here I am today discovering that I was amassing that same debilitated group to once again protect my heart.

Hurts never stop in this life and the lessons we learn as we stand for our marriage can serve us again and again if we let them. As we talked last night, the pain of all that has happened with this person came flooding back to me. I realized that I had not taken it to Jesus, but had stored it away in my heart thinking there was nothing I could do to change things. And, in reality, there probably is nothing I can do to change things, but then why do I need to when Jesus is the one who does that best?

No other human being can ever truly understand the pain we each suffer. Others may have had similar experiences, but there really is no way to convey what we each uniquely feel as we experience trauma. In the end, though, it doesn’t really matter because Jesus understands completely what we have experienced. Scripture tells, “For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are,  yet without sin.” (Hebrews 4:15)

Often we think of being tempted to sin in association with lying or stealing or committing adultery, but is not the desire to strike back against those who have wounded us also a temptation? Isn’t speaking evil of someone who has treated us poorly also sin? Isn’t harboring unforgiveness and a desire for retaliation also sin?

Last night after my son and I finished talking, I talked with the Lord for a good while. He always tells us the truth when we are willing to listen. He showed me my heart and I realized that what my son had seen on the outside was only a symptom of what I was harboring on the inside. Out of the abundance of our heart our mouth speaks.

The holidays are an especially difficult time when we are standing. I pray today that you can take your hurt to Jesus. He knows what has happened and He knows what you have experienced. The condition of your heart can make or break this time, first for you and then for those around you. With Jesus there can truly be joy in the midst of pain, there can be healing in the midst of hurt. And I also pray that you have someone in your life who loves you enough to confront you when your reactions are not godly. It hurts to hear the truth sometimes, but if we are honest with ourselves and with the Lord, it can bring great healing. Love, Marilyn

“For in that He Himself has suffered, being tempted, He is able to aid those who are tempted.” Hebrews 2:18

“Every way of a man is right in his own eyes, But the LORD weighs the hearts.” Proverbs 21:2

A Powerful Movie

Recently we went to see the movie Fireproof. I knew it was a movie about faithfulness in marriage, but I had no idea how anointed it would be. I don’t want to reveal all the details in case you haven’t seen it yet, but I would like to focus on a few powerful principles.

Because it is a movie, changes that may normally take a good deal longer are accomplished in a little over 40 days. So it is important to focus on the principles, not the time frame. God’s principles never change and we need to give Him the time it takes to work those principles in our own life and the life of our spouse.

Knowing the movie was about marriage, I had expected to see some depiction of marital fidelity, but I was truly surprised by the layers of truth sandwiched throughout the movie. One of those surprises was the generational fruit of faithfulness. Each of the parents of the central characters had challenges in their own marriages. One dealt with physical incapacity and the other with enemy attack against their unity. Both sets of parents demonstrated covenant fidelity and, in a very powerful way, their faithfulness overflowed into the next generation.

Another interesting facet was the influence of friends in the lives of the husband and wife whose marriage was disintegrating. One had a strong friend who spoke life and encouragement, the other had friends who gossiped and spoke death. It was quite revealing to see how each spouse was influenced by those they chose as friends.

Perhaps, though, the most powerful principles of marriage healing (and strengthening) were seen in the actions undertaken by the spouse who chose to stand for his marriage. He began where most of us begin, being willing to change and do things differently in order to receive the reaction he wanted from his wife. When that reaction did not come, the true challenge of unconditional love began.

There are many other facets of the movie that bring forth scriptural truths, but I would like to focus at this time on unconditional love. Many of you have written and asked what exactly unconditional love is and how it is manifested. Some believe it is letting their spouse do whatever he or she wishes and not objecting. Others believe it is forgiving and going on as if nothing has happened. Others are completely confused somewhere between unconditional love and tough love.

Standing for our marriage certainly made me no expert on unconditional love. I made a lot of mistakes and did a lot of things wrong. I could so relate to the garbage can and baseball bat scene in the movie. Mine was glasses and a garage door. Anyway, back to the topic…

Jesus is our example of complete unconditional love. He gave His life for us, both in how He lived it and how He died. He stands with open arms ready to welcome the sinner. He remains faithful even when we are not. He forgives and restores. He has His priorities straight. He sees the beginning from the end and walks in faith regardless of circumstances.

Equally important, though, is what He is not and does not do. He does not compromise with sin. He does not play games or attempt to manipulate us. He gives us free choice and does not try to force His will upon us. Even when we choose poorly, He does not tell others what we have done. Instead He intercedes for us and does not give up on us.

So what does that mean when you are walking out unconditional love with your spouse? I remember years ago when I was studying to become a nurse. As we approached graduation many of us were concerned we had not done enough procedures. I remember our instructors telling us, “Learn the principle behind the action. If you know the principle, you can even invent a new procedure.”

It was little comfort at the time but when I went to work after graduation I began to see what they were telling us. You can either be event based or principle based. If you are event based, you must learn what to do in each new event. That can cause great anxiety if you don’t know what the next event will be. It is hard to always be prepared. If you are principle based, though, you can rely on the principle to carry you through any event. So, learn the principles of God’s word and you will know what to do when a new event comes your way.

1 Corinthians 13 is a great place to begin learning the principles of unconditional love. I believe those verses can be summed up like this: I don’t care how holy or righteous you think you are, if you aren’t walking in love, your message stinks.

There was a season when I thought I was my husband’s Holy Spirit and I let him know what God liked and didn’t like about his actions. I felt justified because I was the Christian and I knew what God’s word said. Then one day the Lord began to break my heart for my husband. Instead of seeing him from my point of view, I began to see him from God’s. That day unconditional love began to grow in my heart.

I cannot tell you what to do in each situation you face with your spouse. All I can do is encourage you to know the principles of God’s word. Giving your spouse everything he or she wants is not unconditional love. If your spouse is being led around by the enemy, what he or she wants is probably going to be perverted by that influence. Don’t let the devil lead the parade. That is not unconditional love.

At the same time, don’t stand in haughty self-righteousness and look down upon your spouse. Be led of the Holy Spirit. Spend time in prayer and in the Word and learn God’s heart regarding the issues of life. Ask Him for help when you don’t know what to do. Do as Jesus did and only do what the Father is doing. Each time you are faced with a decision regarding your spouse, go to the Lord and ask Him what to do. Don’t react to pressure from your spouse or anyone else. Don’t give in just to appease your spouse or anyone else. Walking in unconditional love means letting the One who is love rule and reign in your life.

No one on earth knows you as Jesus does. No one on earth knows your spouse as Jesus does. The Lord will direct your steps, He will give you the words you need, and He will help you cut through the myriad of circumstances to see things clearly from His point of view. He is the only one who can lead you consistently in unconditional love. And if you haven’t seen Fireproof yet, you really should. Love, Marilyn

But whoever keeps His word, truly the love of God is perfected in him. By this we know that we are in Him. 1 john 2:5

He who does not love does not know God, for God is love. 1 John 4:8

How to Forgive

When the one you love most on the face of the earth, the one who has promised to live with you in the good and the bad times, the one for whom you have forsaken all others hurts you so deeply that you wonder if you can ever breathe again, how do you forgive?

Well, you can paste on your Christian smile and say, “I forgive” without ever dealing with the pain. Or you can wait until you feel like forgiving (once the pain is gone). Or you can ask God to miraculously change your heart and make you want to forgive. Or you can pray that your spouse will repent and ask you for forgiveness. Or you can simply be so immobilized by the pain that you can’t do anything.


Once again it’s time for honesty first. Sometimes Christians are afraid to admit negative feelings, especially anger. I’ve talked with people who have said that they didn’t have any problem and were able to forgive their spouse right away. It sounds so good and I sure wish I could have done that, but forgiveness did not come easy for me.

At first I was devastated and so filled with pain I could hardly think. Then as the pain subsided, anger took its place. I was furious when I realized how I had been lied to and betrayed. I was angry that I was so helpless. I felt victimized and there was nothing I could do about it. And my husband was doing all kinds of things to get rid of me and all those things just made me angrier.

On top of all that, I felt like a terrible Christian because I was so angry. Instead of running to the Lord, I found myself avoiding Him because my heart was so filled with yuck. How silly we are sometimes. He knows me better than I know myself. I don’t know what I thought I was keeping from Him.

Finally I couldn’t take it anymore. I just got honest with Jesus. I poured out my pain and my anger. I argued scripture and heart motives and asked Him a thousand questions. Somewhere in all of that I began to learn to rest in Him. It wasn’t quick and it wasn’t easy, but when it finally began, I felt a huge burden lift from my shoulders.

I realized that Jesus was not judging me and I was not disappointing Him. He knew my heart and every rotten little thought I ever had, and He loved me anyway. Jesus has a wonderful way of accepting us just where we are and yet encouraging us to move on. Never condemning, just always encouraging us on to higher ground.

Somewhere along the way He began to encourage me to forgive. It wasn’t a demand; it was more of an opportunity. When we’re honest with Him, He can be honest with us. The more I walked with Him, the more I wanted to be like Him. I knew that He had been tempted in every way as we are and He had chosen to love and to forgive. I knew that because He lived within me, it was possible for me to do the same. I just wasn’t sure I wanted to. It was so much easier to pull out the list of wrongs and make demands about them.

You know Romans 2:4 says, “Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, tolerance and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness leads you toward repentance?” It is the love and compassion of God that brings us close to Him. Jesus had compassion on Jerusalem and wept. God’s compassion is overwhelming and when we are willing to let Him touch us with that compassion, we not only realize we must forgive, but we begin to learn how to do it.

God touched me with compassion for my husband. My eyes saw his sin and my ears heard his hateful words, but God’s compassion showed me his heart. God’s compassion overwhelmed my heart and I stopped weeping for myself and I wept for my husband. No matter what I was facing, I had life in Jesus. Nothing could separate me from the love of Christ (Romans 8:39). But my husband was walking in darkness. He had chosen to follow the enemy and was trapped in the enemy’s snare. No one else on earth could pray for him like I could because God had made us one. I could either choose to recount what had happened to me or I could choose to become Michael’s chief intercessor. When God’s love and compassion overwhelm your heart, the choice is obvious.

I know that as the Lord began to lead me and guide me in the days that followed, the enemy must have regretted that he ever messed with us. I know I might never have prayed for my husband with the heart-felt compassion I did unless the enemy had taken him captive. I know my own heart might never have sought the depth of transformation I hungered for if I had not been faced with the crisis of our marriage.

Embrace the Lord today! He has so much for you and for your spouse. Don’t let the enemy convince you that he is greater than the One within you. I made a decision one day that no demon was going to come into my home and dictate to me what was going to happen to our marriage and family. They are a defeated foe and they don’t have the right to decide what happens to us. You are bought with a price and the One to whom you belong has greater plans for you than you can imagine. Love, Marilyn

“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

“Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up.” 1 Corinthians 8:1