What Is Marriage?

Within the past few years we have seen marriage radically redefined in the earth. God’s design has been so totally twisted that, sadly, it is now considered hate speech to say that His is the only definition of marriage.

As God created life in the earth before He created the man and the woman, Genesis 1 tells us each thing He created had “seed in itself according to its kind.” And as He created, He observed that “it was good.” God’s creative design was not flawed.

Then God said, Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness” and He created a man and a woman and joined them in marriage. He gave them the ability to reproduce and fill the earth. “So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. Then God blessed them, and God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth.’”

In Genesis 2, God gave Adam the privilege of naming all the animals, of defining them, but He did not give him the privilege of defining marriage. God sovereignly designed that union and people do not have the privilege of redefining it. In Ephesians 5, marriage is compared to the relationship between Christ and His Church. The design of God is very specific and reflects the deeper eternal relationship with His bride. God designed marriage to be a covenant relationship between a man and a woman that brings forth life (both natural and spiritual) and is only broken by death.

So what occurred spiritually that opened the door for the world to believe it could redefine marriage? Could it be that the Church redefined marriage long before the world did? Could it be that a covenant relationship that God designed to last a lifetime was redefined by the Church as a fragile, disposable relationship that could be broken by the behavior of one or the other spouses? Could it be that the Church believes the covenant commitment of our relationship with Jesus is totally different than that of a husband and wife?

The Church speaks for God in this earth. Because of our relationship with Jesus, we are the only legal voice of His authority. What we speak establishes things in the earth. And when the Church speaks something different about marriage than God speaks, then we change the atmosphere regarding marriage in the earth.

It is no small thing that the Church has strayed so far from the original plan of God for marriage. Jesus said, “…in the beginning it was not so.” God’s original plan has been greatly warped by the Church. Lately I have read many writings of people within the Church declaring why divorce is, at the very least, accepted by God and, at the worst, endorsed by God. I even read one the other day that explained why God didn’t really mean He hated divorce when He declared, “I hate divorce.” It took quite a bit of mental gymnastics for him to explain away God’s words. Anyone who has endured the pain of divorce, though, can easily understand why God hates it.

Years ago we read a letter to the editor of our local paper. It was written by a man defending his homosexual lifestyle. At one point in his letter he said he had been in a monogamous relationship for many years and he asked Christians how we could say his relationship was wrong when we couldn’t even stay married to each other for that long. It brought to light the Church’s hypocrisy regarding marriage.

God created man and woman in His image and the covenant relationship of marriage reflects the fullness of God. The redefining of marriage is about more than marriage. It is about the image of God in the earth. For years we have said that those who stand for their marriage covenant reflect the heart of God — forgiving in the face of unforgiveness, loving in the face of rejection, and faithfulness when faced with betrayal.

When the Church endorses divorce, the world is given the message of a God who loves conditionally and rejects those who do not perform according to His wishes. Relationship with Him becomes performance-based. How very much religion has fostered that image of God!

That distorted picture of God then opens the door for further distortion. If God is not faithful, how can you trust Him? How can you trust His word? How can you believe that He created marriage and designed it according to His will? Anything can be anything you want it to be if God’s will is not the bottom line.

We are now reaching the tipping point. A line is being drawn in the sand. Where will the Church stand regarding marriage? What will we be willing to suffer to see God’s original plan defended in the earth? One thing is for sure, we cannot stand on shifting sand. Until the Church is willing to endorse His original design for marriage and remain faithful to His plan, there can be no clear voice for marriage in the earth. Love, Marilyn

“For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil.”  1 John 3:8

Why Does It Hurt When I’m Healing?

Whenever we hear that someone we know is getting a divorce, we immediately want to talk with them. Yet 100% of the time someone close to them insists that we leave them alone. Their reasoning always is, “They are hurting enough already. Don’t make it any worse for them by talking about how Jesus can change things. You’ll just give them false hope.

Recently a friend of ours tried to meet with the daughter of a friend of hers who was going through a divorce and the girl’s parents told her the same thing. It seems that family members are quick to protect their loved ones from any challenge to healing or even the thought that reconciliation could be possible.

We understand that they are hurting and yet we know that left alone, they may not heal on their own. When someone breaks a bone or tears a ligament, there is great pain. The first step in healing is often surgery or, at the very least, the setting of the bone. Sometimes pins must be used to insure proper healing. All of these things are painful and may even seem to add to the initial pain of the injury. To leave the person without these remedies, though, would insure improper healing and perhaps even permanent crippling.

It seems to us that many times this is what well-meaning family members, friends, and sometimes even pastors, do when they recommend that hurting people not be approached with the truth of covenant faithfulness. We realize that when someone is going through the pain of separation and divorce, they are really hurting. To those who love them and want to help them, just getting them through it may seem like the best option.

Many pastors have told us that divorce is the best solution for this particular couple. It is best they end years of pain and get on with their lives. The problem is, what seems like an effective resolution in the short term always produces continual problems in the future.

Case in point – the daughter of a friend of ours divorced two years ago. We wanted to talk with her at that time, but her family insisted we leave her alone. We almost lost relationship with them when we expressed how important we felt it was to see her. The other night we saw her at a party. She shared with us how her life was going. She was unhappy with the shared custody arrangements. The kids were hurting. She was angry. Her “ex” was uncooperative.

Then she shared about her dating life. She initially tried meeting men at church and in social situations, but that hadn’t worked well. Now she is online dating, but the outcome hasn’t been much different. As I listened to her I thought here is a woman desperately seeking peace and fulfillment. She thought divorce would set her free to obtain it all. Instead, she is still dealing with the same issues she faced in her marriage and cannot find the man she believes will change her circumstances.

She is healing crookedly because her wounding was never set properly with the Word of God.

Sometimes we have to be willing endure a bit more pain to ensure we are truly healing. Sometimes we have to look deep within ourselves and see things we do not like in order to have the Lord help us change. Sometimes we have to stop pointing fingers and blaming and start looking in the mirror. Those are painful moments, but if we are willing, they lead to true healing.

I remember when I first began to stand for our marriage and I was so eager for God to begin working on Michael. He really needed help! How shocked I was when the Lord made it clear we were going to work on me instead. I was the one serving the Lord! I was the one who wanted to see the marriage healed! I wasn’t in adultery! Why would God want to start with me?

He started with me because if I didn’t endure the pain of healing my broken heart, if I didn’t endure the pain of looking at my attitudes and behavior, or if I didn’t allow the Lord to remove the dross from my life, I would never have healed properly and I could never have truly loved my husband again the way I needed to in order to stand and intercede for him.

Sometimes facing the truth is painful, but if we trust the Great Physician to walk us through the pain to healing, we can be assured that we will heal properly. He has promised that “He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ.” (Philippians 1:6)

Physical therapy hurts. We never want to push ourselves past our place of comfort, but the therapist makes sure we we push through the pain and gain more mobility. Being protected from truth, never produces freedom. Love, Marilyn

“And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”  John 8:32

What About Abuse?

When we talk about standing for your marriage or keeping your covenant, often people in abusive relationships believe we are saying they should continue taking abuse in the name of faithfulness. Nothing could be further from the truth!

Abuse, whether verbal, physical, psychological, or sexual, is one of the many ways the enemy attacks relationship. When you make the choice to stand against the enemy and agree with God, it is important that you separate natural things from spiritual things.

People who abuse others are operating out of their own wounding and many times have been abused themselves. I am not excusing the behavior, but I do acknowledge that Jesus Christ died for that person and wants to see him or her healed and restored just as much as He desires the same for the one being abused.

Many times abuse begins long before marriage. The one being abused grows to accept the behavior and might even expect it to change after the wedding. As you well know if you have been abused, it only gets worse as time goes on.

Whether abuse begins early in a relationship or develops over time, it demoralizes the one being abused. Fear, guilt, blame, and shame accompany abuse. In the cycle of abuse, the one being abused may assume responsibility for the reaction of the abuser. “If only I hadn’t done this or said that. It’s my fault.”

Additionally, the abuser often follows abuse with a showering of attention and/or gifts to reaffirm his or her “love” for the one abused. This can give hope to the abused one that things are changing. Promises that it will never happen again, though, soon disappear as the cycle repeats itself over and over again.

If you are in that type of relationship, you need to seek help. Standing for your marriage does not mean accepting abuse. If you or your children or another member of your family is in physical danger, you need to take measures to get out of danger. There is a huge difference between that, though, and divorce.

The world, and unfortunately many Christian counselors, believe the only way to deal with abuse is to get rid of the abuser. Finding a counselor who will help you reach a safe place and help you heal, but not tell you to walk out of the marriage is extremely difficult. If we were simply dealing with human behavior and the world’s way of handling it, I could understand their point. But we are not!

Scripture tells us that we are more than conquerors through Christ Jesus. His blood paid the price to overcome sin. The power of His love and forgiveness are not reserved just for those that we deem “redeemable”, but extends to all through His faith for them. Scripture after scripture speaks of the power we have in the Spirit to overcome and to walk in victory. We are not victims when we are in Christ. We are victors!

I know that what I am saying is not easy to hear, but far too often we have seen people walk out of a marriage without ever dealing with their own issues. Often they walk right back into a similar situation. You are not responsible for the behavior of the abuser, but you can be obedient for yourself and allow the Lord to bring healing and restoration to your life

As you begin healing and growing stronger, you can start to identify the enemy operating through your spouse and learn to take authority over that activity. Again, it does not mean you have to subject yourself to the behavior, but you learn that greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world. My husband was never physically abusive, but his verbal abuse viciously attacked both our children and me. Over time I learned how to silence those spirits when they were in my presence because they had to submit to Jesus Christ within me. Eventually they had to release their hold on my husband as the transforming power of Jesus changed his heart and life.

So, if you are married to someone who is abusing you, get help. Recognize the difference between finding a safe place and divorcing. Find a counselor who will help you face the issues of your own heart and help you heal. Learn who you truly are in Christ and how precious you are to Him! Grow strong in the Spirit. And then ask the Lord how to stand and pray for your spouse to be set free from the enemy’s hold. Love, Marilyn

Romans 8; 1 John 4:4; 2 Corinthians 10:3-6; 1 Corinthians 15:57; Nehemiah 4:14

The Blender Family

Many years ago we had a ministry magazine and one month someone wrote an article on the blended family. It was a very positive, sunny article and so we were totally surprised by the outpouring of negative reaction from those who were standing for their marriage. Many couples come to us for ministry who were divorced and neither spouse stood for the marriage. They come to us with their eggs “already scrambled” so to speak and those are the couples we were thinking of when the article was written.

I have to admit I was surprised by the responses and really didn’t understand the outcry. They say you never totally understand someone until you walk a mile in their shoes and we have walked many of those miles this past year following our daughter’s divorce. It didn’t matter that she didn’t want it. It didn’t matter that their two sons didn’t want it. You know all too well how the law works. When one spouse wants out, he or she doesn’t have to justify anything. And so a whole new life experience began for all of us.

I want to start by asking your forgiveness. I know now how truly hurtful that magazine article was to so many. Please forgive us for our insensitivity to your pain. Please forgive us for not understanding the depth of ongoing chaos and helplessness that a so-called blended family creates.

For the past year we have watched as our two precious grandchildren have been required to live in two separate households on an alternating basis. We have watched the emotional scarring and the continual turmoil this arrangement is creating. We have watched the Word of God be compromised in their lives and sin celebrated. We have watched them torn between the two parents God gave them because they love them both but can’t love them together.

I have always hated divorce. It is a cancer that slowly eats away at people’s hearts and relationships. There was a song many years ago entitled Children are the Broken Pieces when a Marriage Falls Apart. What a sad but true statement! I didn’t think it was possible, but this past year I have grown to hate divorce more than ever. And I have become more determined to see hearts healed and made whole again!

I was preparing dinner the other night and as I got the blender out of the cupboard its name really struck me. Blender. As I watched the ingredients chop and swirl together, I realized what blended really means. And I realized it is a terrible thing to do to a family.

So today my heart is with each and every one of you who has had to share your children or your grandchildren with an ungodly family situation. I now understand the challenges it brings. Yet it has made me more determined that ever to stand on God’s Word for our daughter and her family. What the enemy meant for harm in her life and the lives of those little one’s we are trusting the Lord to turn to good.

Our prayers are with you today. What a blessing it is for your family that you have chosen to stand against the enemy’s attack and hold fast to the Word of God and the vows you have taken! Our children and our grandchildren belong to Him and we must trust that as we pray and stand, He will care for their souls even in the most difficult situations.

Let us agree today for God’s plan for each one of them! Moses grew up in Pharaoh’s house and yet fulfilled the call of God on his life. Joseph was sold into slavery by his own brothers, but became the mighty man that God had called him to be. Scripture gives us so many examples of God’s plan coming through in so many lives that faced challenges. Let us hold fast to His Word and His promises for the children we love who are being blended. Love, Marilyn

“But Jesus called them to Him and said, “Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of God.” Luke 18:16

Where Is The Faith?

Nevertheless when the Son of man comes, will He really find faith on the earth? Luke 18:8

Often when I read this scripture, I wonder if He was thinking of marriage when He spoke those words. Walking with our daughter through their divorce this past year has once again opened our eyes to the dismal lack of faith for marriage healing that surrounds all of us. Far too many Christians, many of them leaders in the Body of Christ, have expressed their joy for Cristine that she is now free and can seek a new husband.

I wonder what their reaction would have been had she told them her husband was battling cancer. I imagine they would have met that news with promises to pray for his healing. There is a lot of faith in the Body of Christ for physical healing. Not so much for the healing of a marriage.

Why can’t people see that God has plans for every person? When Jesus hung on the cross, He saw everyone of us as we are and as God has designed us to be. He had faith for all of us and gave His life that we might become that vision of God.

Yet, so many only see people the way they are today. Imagine what Saul’s friends must have thought of him before the Damascus road. Would any of them ever have imagined that God could transform a man’s heart so completely? Paul became a man filled with the Holy Spirit and fire. His heart and his life were totally transformed by a touch from Jesus.

Can that not happen today? Is God limited by time and place?

Is He a respecter of persons?

I remember how many people told me years ago that Michael would never change and that I should just get on with my life. They saw him only as he was, not as God saw him. They told me God had a good husband for me, a Christian man who loved Jesus, and they were right. The only problem was they never realized it was the same man!

It amazes me that people believe one human being is so powerful! That one person, man or woman, has a will stronger than God’s. Think about it. That is what people are saying when they believe a person will never change. Yes, he or she needs to make choices. We cannot do that for someone else. But scripture says, “The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.”  2 Corinthians 10:4-5 NIV

God has given us divine power in warfare. The enemy may be pulling one way, but what God says carries more weight than that. It is not an even battle! Where will we place our faith? In what God says? Or in what we see the enemy doing? Who is more powerful?

I think the reason people have lost faith for marriage is they have only been watching the work of the enemy. The destruction they have seen has convinced them that there is no hope for change. How truly sad that is!

We need to fix our eyes on Jesus, the Author and Finisher of our faith, and listen to what He is speaking about marriage and family. His Word stands for all eternity! What we see with our natural eyes does not even compare with what we should be seeing in the supernatural. If we keep our eyes on Him, and not on the circumstances, we will begin to walk in His faith for our situations.

No one is impossible. No circumstance is beyond God’s ability. How I long for the day when the Body rises up as one to confront the enemy who has the gall to attack a marriage and family. May we all begin to realize that Jesus died for the transformation of hearts. May we begin to see each person through eyes of faith and stand solidly, unwavering on God’s promises for him or her. Love, Marilyn

For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, 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

What Does It Mean To Take Up Our Cross Daily and Follow Him

Look around you in your community, your workplace, maybe even your church and see how many you observe living a sacrificial life. Today, sadly even in the Church, life has become a constant fulfillment of self, to one degree or another. We hear that God wants us happy and that grace often means we can live as we please and God will bless it.

Nowhere have we seen this more evidently played out than in marriage. It would seem obvious to anyone who is listening during a wedding ceremony that marriage has its good times and its challenges. Why else would we vow “for better or for worse”? Some vows even include “in good times and in bad”, yet when those challenging times come, few are ready to face them with the resolution those vows would seem to indicate.

Life’s question is often, sadly even for Christians, “What am I getting out of this?”

Marriage was designed by God to be the strongest, most life-giving relationship on the earth.That strength and life come from the oneness created by two diverse people, differing from each other in almost every way.Only God can create oneness and His plan for marriage is not based on similarity and compatibility, but rather on the dynamic tension created by diversity and complexity.

Before marriage most couples are focused on each other. Dating produces an atmosphere of deferring to one another and blessing each other. After marriage, though, over time the focus often shifts to self. What do I need? What are my goals? What am I getting out of this relationship? Since marriage was never designed to solely bless the individual, the answers to these questions are usually not what we want to hear.

Marriage was designed to bless the oneness of the relationship. It challenges the individual and brings to the surface the dross of our hearts. Marriage is the perfect relationship to help us refine our soulish desires and renew our inner man. “Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day”  2 Corinthians 4:16.

Because we live in a society that focuses on self-fulfillment, though, it is hard to understand what God is working out in the marital relationship. That is why so many run from the relationship, often looking for someone else because he or she believes that another person will be a better match. The sad thing is, though, the refining that God was accomplishing is cut short and the next relationship will face many of the same challenges.

“If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me” Luke 9:23. Marriage can only flourish when the husband and the wife both understand this scripture and obey Jesus’ words. Then marriage becomes what God designed it to be, a life-giving source of the power and love of God flowing through the oneness of their relationship.

Praise God, changes can begin when one of the spouses begins to understand and follow Jesus’ words. You have made that choice. It is not about you getting what you want any more than it was about that on the day you married. It is about the world seeing Jesus and knowing His love and faithfulness for them. It is about you allowing God to continue His refining work in your heart. He will never leave you or forsake you. And He desires only His best for you. That’s His desire and His best, though. Sometimes that’s hard for self to accept. Love, Marilyn

Then He said to them all, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me.” Luke 9:23

Dancing with the Lord

Last night at our Bible study we were studying Elijah and how he moved so powerfully in the Lord. It was as if he and the Lord were in total unison.

After the study was over, I sat for a while thinking back to the days when I stood for our marriage. At first I had been in shock and so wounded that most of my prayers were just to help me survive and get through the day. Little by little I moved into “shotgun” prayers where I prayed about anything and everything I could. I hoped that something would hit the target.

As time passed, though, and my own healing progressed, I began to hear the voice of the Lord more clearly. No longer did I shoot prayers out hoping that something would work. I learned to hear His voice, to move as He directed me to move, and to speak as He directed me to speak.

I reached that place in my life because I was desperate.

Back then I could see nothing good in that desperation, but now I know it was the most powerful impetus in my entire life. That desperation brought me to a place of craving God in a way I had never known before. I wanted to know Him intimately, to know His very thoughts and feelings. I wanted to move in unison with Him as two dance partners glide across the floor together.

Today, too often, I take that intimacy for granted. Although I still long to know Him more, it is harder to find time to dance with Him. Even now as I write this, I can sense that longing within me. There is nothing that can compare with that powerful oneness with Him.

Is there desperation in your life now? Let it be the force that propels you into intimacy with Him. Lose yourself in Him. Let Him become the very air you breathe. Let everything else around you, all the cares and the crisis, melt away in His presence. Surrender to His peace.

In that stillness, listen for His voice. To be sure, there will be times when His words bring direction or insight to you as you stand, but first learn to hear His words of love. Too often we come to Him with our list of needs. Let this be a time for relationship, for conversation, and for love. He knows your needs and while you may think they should be met one way, He may desire to bless you in an entirely different way. Let go of all expectations and just let Him love you.

He is a lover you can trust. He will never leave you or forsake you. Let Him help you pick up the pieces and show you what true love is. There is a time for warfare and a time for miracles, but first we must learn how to dance! Love, Marilyn

“A time to weep, And a time to laugh; A time to mourn, And a time to dance.” Ecclesiastes 3:4

What Do We Value?

In 2013 Americans spent $55.7 billion dollars on their pets. That is $10 billion more than Germany’s entire defense budget. It is estimated that number will increase to $60 billion this year.

In 2011, the average parent spent $271 per child on Christmas gifts. One in ten parents said they planned to spend $500 per child. The average American spends $1,200 each year on electronic gadgets. Adults with teenagers in the home spend on average $500 more than that.

The average couple spends $27,000 on their wedding. Marriage and family counseling costs between $75 and $200 per hour. The average divorce costs between $15,000 to $20,000, almost as much as a wedding.

Yet with all these costs, we’re still not even close to what people spend on their pets each year. What do we really value? What is the value of a relationship, a child’s life, a family? Many would say–priceless!

An enduring relationship cannot be purchased. You cannot put a monetary value on a strong marriage and an intact family. No, these take investment of love, of time, of energy. Far too many times people are more willing to spend money on things they want than to spend time on far more important things.

You have come to a realization of the preciousness of marriage and family. And you have decided you are willing to pay the cost to redeem the priceless! You are one of the few who recognizes what really matters in this life.

Generational blessings come through the faithful! Far too many families suffer because they fail to recognize what really matters and instead invest in what, at best, is temporary.

This is, no doubt, a difficult time in which you see others, perhaps even your spouse, enjoying what this world has to offer. When that starts to get to you, remember what God values and what you value. When you invest in what is precious to Him, the harvest is great!

Don’t compare your life to someone else’s. Allow the Lord to minister to your heart and bring you peace in the midst of the storm. You are precious to Him. Your spouse is precious to Him. Your family is precious to Him. He paid the greatest price, His own life, for you and for your family.

Begin to walk more and more in His economy. Get your eyes off the world and its economic system and keep them on Him, the Author and Finisher of your faith. Before long you will see how priceless His harvest truly is. Love, Marilyn

“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal.” Matthew 6:19-20

On The Potter’s Wheel

At all times in our life we need to be as soft clay on the Potter’s wheel, but it is especially important when we have opened our hearts to the Lord as we stand for our marriage and family. When we are hurt, it is easy to believe we know what God needs to do. I remember when I began my stand, I just wanted God to fix Michael. I could see all the problems he had and that he was creating in my life, and it seemed so clear to me what God needed to do.

The Lord, however, was focused on my heart. There was much work to be done in my life, with my attitudes and reactions. At first I was like hardened clay, set in my own ways and resistant to His reformation in my life. Eventually, though, the water of the Word softened my heart and I surrendered to the Potter’s hand.

Recently I was reminded again of how often people seek answers, but have decided ahead of time what they want to hear. Many times people contact us with questions regarding their marriage or their stand, but are not ready to hear the truth God wants spoken. In the past I spent a good deal of time trying to convince them of the truth, but I have realized through the years that time is better spent in prayer for the softening of their hearts rather than the changing of their minds.

Wounding can make us defensive and cause us to protect our hearts and minds. We often decide what is best for us, as I had done, and tend to reject counsel that does not agree with us. To be sure, when you are standing you will receive a good deal of counsel that is contrary to the Word of God. Only a close walk with the Lord and learning to clearly hear His voice will help you discern what is from Him and what is not. When He makes it clear that He is speaking, it is time to listen even if it hurts.

The Lord always desires the very best for us. We can trust Him even when people have failed us completely. When He places us on the Potter’s wheel, it is to create a beautiful vessel. It is not to destroy, but to enhance. So often we focus on what is wrong, but God is focused on enhancing what is right.

Only one time in my life have I been privileged to watch a skillful potter work with clay. God spoke so much to me that day as I watched the clay be mashed down, watered, built up, and worked again and again into shape. At first it just seemed like a lump as the water sat on the surface. As the potter worked it into the clay, though, that lump became an exquisite vessel.

It looked so easy so I wanted to try it.

It was then I realized that a skillful potter knows what to do and when to do it. I worked with the same clay and the same water and made a big mess. That day I knew that surrendering to the Potter’s hand is much better than taking matters into my own hands. So, even though it takes courage, we need to let go of our own desires and designs and surrender to what the Lord wants to work within us. He never fails to create a beautiful vessel! Love, Marilyn

“But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us.”  2 Corinthians 4:7

The Family Tree

Many years ago at one of our annual international conventions, Michael revved up a chain saw and began cutting the limbs off a tree he had brought onstage. The point of his illustration was that the devil likes to chop as many branches off the Family Tree as possible and stack them up as fire wood.

It was a powerful illustration and those who witnessed it still talk about it to this day. There is something about seeing the visual destruction of a tree that speaks louder than any words.

In recent years I have enjoyed tracing our family tree back in time. It is a fascinating hobby and I find I have to force myself to stop looking things up and tend to other pressing needs. Seeing how one family connects to another and then another and another never gets old for me. Plus, in the process I have discovered many amazing things about our ancestors. Finding each couple and then tracing their family members gives me a feeling of connectivity to the past and to the future.

In a Family Tree, each married couple is connected by a solid line and each of their children flow off their combined union. When a couple divorces, though, the solid line becomes a dotted line. To me it is an amazing visual of two people who are still connected through the passage of time but at the same time are separated.

I have also discovered that the further back in ancestry, the harder it is to determine which children came from which marriage. On one site they will be listed under one marriage and under another one on a different site. It is clear that each one of those dotted lines represents a family that was torn apart and the confusion of connectivity continued through the years.

I guess if we had a huge amount of space in which to store data and the ability to continue tracing backward, we would all eventually end up with Adam and Eve, our common parents. It makes me think of God’s original plan for marriage and family and how messed up it has gotten through the years. Society plays a big part in what people accept in families and time has eroded God’s plan from the thoughts of many.

Years ago divorce was an unacceptable answer to marital problems. The down side was that many times couples stayed together, but didn’t get the help they needed to have a vibrant, life-filled marriage. So through the years divorce became a more accepted solution until today when it is almost the expected thing to do when there are problems in a marriage.

Too many think that marriage is supposed to fulfill them or make them happy and when those expectations are not met, they see no other solution than to leave the marriage. And another branch is chopped from the tree.

Our hearts long to help couples see that God’s plan for marriage is exactly what most express in their wedding vows–a covenant relationship that remains strong until death. In many ways, that is an uphill battle in this day and age. Divorce has become easy and acceptable. Remarriage has become the predictable norm following the breakup of marriage. Children are shuffled between parents and often end up with step-parents at least once, if not more times than that.

How do we teach each new generation what God desires when at an ever increasing rate people are pursuing what they desire? It is now considered harsh and legalistic to tell people that divorce and remarriage are sin. I can’t count how many times we have been told that God wants people to be happy. That has always seemed strange to me coming from people who just told us how miserable marriage had made them.

Where does it stop? Where do we draw the line in the sand and say, No More? It begins with those who are willing to pay the price and to stand against modern thinking and easy grace. Drawing a line and holding it is not easy and many will work to push you off that stand. It will often make you feel you are swimming upstream as large groups pass you going in the opposite direction.

Yet here, on the face of the earth, there is a growing army of people who will not give in to social pressure and who will not just roll over and let the enemy chop off another limb from their Family Tree. You are the Hebrews 11 people, those who through the generations have stood on the Word of God and walked in faith. We salute you, brave warriors, and honor the choice you have made. Our prayers are with you for courage and strength to go the distance! Love, Marilyn

“By faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that the things which are seen were not made of things which are visible.”  Hebrews 11:3