Everything Changed This Side of the Cross

Years ago we made some really terrible financial mistakes and lost everything we had. Included in our loss was a beautiful home my husband had built for us in Evergreen, Colorado. He had put our home up as collateral for a loan from a friend of ours. When we couldn’t pay him back, our friend got our home. That was bad enough, but very shortly after that he sued us for several million dollars. It was really a ridiculous suit, fueled by his anger, but it meant we had to hire a lawyer and go to court.

Since we had lost everything, we had no money to pay a lawyer. Finally we found one who would let us pay $10 here and $25 there when we had the money. It was our first year of ministry and that year we made $8,000 the entire year, so finding even small amounts of money was pretty difficult. We were trusting God daily for food and other necessities and I resented greatly that we had to put out money to fight a ridiculous lawsuit.

One day I was reading the Psalms and decided to pray as David had regarding the man who was suing us. I began to call for the Lord to remove him and to take him out of our life. In the midst of my heated prayer, the Lord very clearly asked me, “Do you want his life?”

I was shocked! Why would the Lord ask me that? Then I realized that David had indeed been asking God to take the life of his enemy. The depth of what I had asked overwhelmed me and very quickly I decided that the man’s life was not what I was seeking.

The Lord reminded me that, unlike David, I was not fighting against flesh and blood, but against powers and principalities. That man was not the problem. David had prayed and fought his enemies as best he could, but everything changed this side of the cross.

In the Old Testament the punishment for adultery was stoning to death. There was no other way to remove the sin from the family line than to kill the person who had sinned. His or her death removed the generational sin from the family. The punishment for a rebellious child was also stoning. Rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft and to remove it from the family required removing the rebellious person.

Jesus became sin for us and on the cross He changed everything. The adulterer no longer must be stoned, for the blood of Jesus cleanses not only the sinner but the sin from the family line. His blood also redeems the rebellious one and restores the prodigal to the family. The cross changed everything.

Because of Jesus’ death and resurrection, we don’t have to beg God for provision, or healing, or victory. Jesus paid the price and when we receive Him, all that He purchased for us is ours. Because we have been given life, we are now empowered to pray for life. We can take a strong stand against the enemy, but when we pray for people, we need to speak life over them. The cross gave us the blood of Jesus that heals and restores.

Now as we walk through all the pain that divorce brings, we are again reminded that we can stand firmly against the enemy and his works in our marriage and family, confident in the power of His name and His blood. We speak life and liberty to those held in the enemy’s clutches and we anticipate the day we see the fullness of the victory in their lives.

No matter what is said or what is done, people are not our enemy. Jesus gave His life for them as well. Many times our flesh wants to strike out, to retaliate, to get even, or to make it fair. It’s at times like that we must remember that Jesus forgave in the midst of His pain. When He lives in us, He makes it possible for us to do the same. Today as I write these words to you, I speak them to myself as well. Many times it is hard to love the sinner, but if Jesus could do it when He was sinless, then how much more should we who are not. Love, Marilyn

“…who, when He was reviled, did not revile in return; when He suffered, He did not threaten, but committed Himself to Him who judges righteously; who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness—by whose stripes you were healed.”  1 Peter 2:23,24

From the Heart

Recently I was talking with someone from another ministry who had heard about our daughter’s divorce. It had been a particularly difficult day and I was hurting a good deal when she called. I know she wanted to encourage me, but immediately she began quoting scripture and talking about the spiritual battle.

Now normally, that is where I live, but that particular day my heart was breaking. I so wanted someone to just put their arms around me. I needed to feel an emotional connection at that moment.

Instead I felt badly that I was feeling pain. I told myself I should have been stronger. Why wasn’t I quoting scripture and speaking faith like she was. I scolded myself and resolved to shake off the pain and move on. Yet when I got off the phone, all my resolve melted away. I spent several minutes just crying. The pain of all of it just seemed overwhelming.

The Lord met me there that day and comforted my breaking heart. As I sensed His love and the depth of His understanding of my pain, I realized how many times I had failed to respond to the pain of those who sought my help.

It is often easy to become academic about marriage healing after many years. When the pain is gone, the answers remain. It is the Word of the Lord and faith that make all the difference in a stand, but the pain is real. Over the years that pain had grown dull in my memory. God has used this experience in my life to remind me once again of how very painful divorce is.

When I was standing for our marriage, I was honest with the Lord about my pain. It never bothered Him when I sobbed my heart out or expressed my anger and frustration over our situation. He was always there, loving and encouraging me. In the end, He always brought me back to His Word and strengthened my faith, but He never discouraged my need to express emotions to Him.

Perhaps the key is just that, taking our pain to Him and leaving it there. Bottling it up inside doesn’t help anyone. It comes out one way or another. Denying it isn’t the answer either. Pain is real and it doesn’t go away on its own.

So I guess we must all find the balance between recognizing the pain of wounding and learning to walk in faith in spite of it. It is good to have people in our lives who will cry with us and then encourage us to stand up strong again.

In Luke 7 Jesus came upon a funeral. “And when He came near the gate of the city, behold, a dead man was being carried out, the only son of his mother; and she was a widow. And a large crowd from the city was with her. When the Lord saw her, He had compassion on her and said to her, ‘Do not weep.’ Then He came and touched the open coffin, and those who carried him stood still. And He said, ‘Young man, I say to you, arise.’ So he who was dead sat up and began to speak. And He presented him to his mother” Luke 7:11-15.

Jesus brought healing and restored life, but first He had compassion on the widow. He acknowledged her pain. Let that be a lesson for all of us who seek the manifestation of His healing for marriage and family. May we never minimize the pain for it is very real. We can all rejoice, though, that the same One who feels our pain paid the price for our victory and healing. Let Him touch your broken heart today. You can trust Him. Love, Marilyn

“He heals the brokenhearted And binds up their wounds.” Psalm 147:3 

Playing the Hand You Are Dealt

f you follow this blog, you probably did not want the divorce that was thrust upon you. In most states your agreement was not required. One spouse can simply request a divorce and the other spouse is required to go along with it.

Lawyer’s fees being what they are, it is often difficult to wage legal battles for what you believe should happen. Far too often people are divorced, not only without consent, but also on the other spouse’s terms.

I was thinking about this yesterday as we celebrated Resurrection Sunday with family and friends. After divorce, holidays always present their own particular challenges. Our daughter only gets her boys for half of the yearly holidays, and so yesterday we were blessed to have the grandchildren with us.

Holidays also bring up so many memories of past times and past celebrations. Sometimes the contrast can be heartbreaking, but yesterday was a special time of making new memories.

As they were growing up, we told our children that in life you can’t always choose the cards you are dealt, but you can opt to play your hand well. Yesterday our hearts were filled with joy as we watched our daughter play her hand well.

We knew it was not easy. It is never easy when suddenly you are the only parent there. It is never easy when you carry full responsibility for all the preparation and carrying out of a holiday celebration. The work is one thing. The emotional wear and tear is another.

Yet, there she was, greeting guests with joy and excitement. She had cleaned, and cooked, and filled dozens of plastic eggs with treats as well as organized a treasure hunt. As I watched her, I saw life and energy I had not seen for a while. I knew the pain she has faced and the decisions she has had to make, and yet yesterday she walked in the peace and joy that comes with total surrender to the Lord.

I know she would be embarrassed to have me talk about her this way, but it has been such a blessing to see her play well the hand she was dealt. Through the years I have met hundreds, if not thousands, of people who are standing for the healing of their marriage. I have watched the transformation of their lives as they walked with the Lord, learning to trust Him fully. I have often thought how very much their spouses are missing!

And I have also thought that whether that spouse every returns or not, the lives of those who are standing have been changed for all eternity. I am watching that transformation take place in our daughter’s life now.

Be encouraged today! There are those who are watching you as well and, as you surrender more and more to Jesus, they are seeing Him transform your heart and life. Standing is not about getting another human being to do what we want. It is about letting God do what He wants. And He always gives us a winning hand! Love, Marilyn

Now thanks be to God who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and through us diffuses the fragrance of His knowledge in every place.” 2 Corinthians 2:14

The Children

Walking through these past months with our daughter’s divorce, we have once again been reminded of the toll divorce takes on children. Our constant prayer is that our grandsons will walk ever closer with the Lord and will come through this time of their life stronger in Him.

Through the years we have watched so many men and women standing for their marriage who have had to endure painful situations regarding their children. Our own children were wounded deeply when the enemy attacked our marriage. Many of those wounds took years to heal, so we know the pain that a divided home brings. The song Broken Pieces by Steve and Annie Chapman says it all.

We know that the enemy is after those young hearts and that circumstances can become very dark. We have once again been convinced, though, that just as with standing, one parent can bring peace and stability into their lives in the midst of the storm.

Some standers deal with the total rejection of their children by their spouse. Others deal with sharing the children between them. Both situations have blessings and challenges. Whatever your situation, remember that you have authority over the enemy who is fighting to destroy your marriage and family. If you walk in a place of peace and joy in the midst of the storm, your children will be blessed by that too.

I remember one time during my stand that I prayed and gave my children to the Lord. I then saw a vision of Him standing there with His arms around them. What a blessing it was to see them in His care. Suddenly, though, He turned and began to walk away with them. “Where are you going with my children?” I asked Him.

He turned to me and said, “I thought you gave them to Me. If that is true, I can take them where I wish.

I realized that I wanted the Lord’s protection over my children, but I wanted control over where they went and what happened in their lives. It became very clear to me that day that if I were going to trust Jesus to care for them, I had to let go of my hold on them and trust that He would care for them no matter where they were or what they faced.

Children’s spirits are not small. Their spirit man is “full grown” and can receive from the Lord the same as any adult. In fact, in many cases children can receive even more because they don’t have as many mental barriers as adults do.

The Lord is reminding me again of all that He shared with me as I pray for my grandchildren. No matter what they face, I must trust the Lord to keep his hand upon their hearts and their minds. They are His and He can care for them better than anyone else. May they learn to be strong warriors in His army during this time of training! Love, Marilyn

“But Jesus said, “Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 19:14

A Familiar Road with New Turns

Walking through our daughter’s divorce has once again reminded us why God hates divorce. It has also made us wonder once again why anyone ever thinks that divorce is a viable solution to marital problems.

Seeing her pain, the pain and confusion in her children, and the overall effect of a home divided has brought to the surface so many emotions and memories from long ago. Walking through my own stand was painful, but watching this new attack of the enemy has proved much more so.

We’ve always said that God gives grace to each of us to walk through situations. It is a grace that those observing do not have. How real that fact has once again become in the past few months!

We have once again been reminded how quick observers are to state their opinions regarding the marriage, the breakup, and what the future holds. Once again we have been reminded how little faith there is for marriage healing in the Body of Christ, much less in the world.

And yet, once again, we have been encouraged by the Lord and His Word. Once again we have found peace standing on the Rock instead of the shifting sand. Once again we are watching Him perform miracles as only He can do.

The enemy has no new tactics. His schemes are as old as the Garden of Eden. So much of what he attacked our marriage with he is now using in our daughter’s life. They are the same tactics he has used against you and your marriage. Circumstances vary from person to person, but the enemy’s plans are always the same.

How blessed we are to have a Savior who paid the price for our redemption! He bore the shame, the rejection, and the pain so that each of us might walk in peace and victory. He and the devil are not equal enemies. No one is equal to our God!

Satan is a defeated foe. Period. The blood of Jesus has vanquished* him and freed us from his hold. There may be people in our lives that are allowing him free rein in their lives, but that does not give him any power in ours. No matter how dark the times may be, Jesus is still the Light.

Over the years we have encouraged many people whose marriages were under attack. Our hearts were firm in what we know God can do. Now, once again, the battle is fresh in my heart. We face each day, as do you, trusting God and standing on the power of His blood and His Word. It is now time for this generation to stand and see the hand of God move on behalf of marriage and family! Love, Marilyn

*beaten, bested, defeated, overpowered, overcome, overwhelmed, conquered, routed, trounced, subjugated, annihilated

“For it pleased the Father that in Him all the fullness should dwell, and by Him to reconcile all things to Himself, by Him, whether things on earth or things in heaven, having made peace through the blood of His cross.” Colossians 1:19-20

The Purpose of Scars

Many times I am asked, “Does the pain ever stop? Do the scars ever go away?” I can tell you that truly the pain does stop, but the scars remain.

Several years ago I had emergency surgery right after one of our conventions. I had a ruptured hernia that trapped part of my small intestine. Today I still have the scar from the surgery, but the pain is totally gone. I was looking at that scar the other day and wondering, what is the purpose of a scar?

When Jesus heals us He could take away the scar as well. In some cases, maybe that has happened, but most of the time the scar remains. Whether it be a physical healing or an emotional one, long after the pain is gone the scar is still there.

As I was thinking about this the words of the song came back to me “His nail-scarred hands…”. Even Jesus bears for all eternity the scars left behind by the nails. That immediately made me think of Thomas when he doubted that Jesus was alive. Jesus said to him, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.” Jesus’ scars provided proof to Thomas that He indeed had risen from the dead.

As I have pondered this issue of scars, I have come to some conclusions. I think scars are like markers – they are there to remind us not of the pain but of the victory

Jesus didn’t show Thomas His scars to remind him of the cross. He showed them to Thomas to prove to him of the victory of His resurrection. So we have a choice. We can either look at scars and remember the pain or we can look at scars and be reminded of the victory.

When I look at the scar from my surgery, I remember all the ways the Lord was with me that day. I am reminded of how His hand orchestrated the day and brought me to just the right place at the right time. I remember how bad the pain was, but I remember even more how wonderful it was to wake from surgery and realize the pain was gone. Thank God for all He provided that day to bring about my total healing!

One night all of our family was sitting together after dinner and for some reason all our kids started talking about the different scars they had acquired during childhood. One by one they pointed to them and shared what had happened to cause them. Then their spouses joined in with their stories. As we listened to their conversation I was taken back to those days gone by and  all those injuries. I remembered the blood and the tears and the seemingly endless band aids we went through. Yet now they were all laughing as they went over each of those traumas. The pain was gone, the wounds had healed, and now the scars were just a visual testimony to that healing.

Emotional injuries are the same. They leave scars in our lives, but those scars can become testimonies to our faithful Lord if we permit them. Lord, may we allow You to heal our wounds so that one day our scars become testimonies to Your greatness! Love, Marilyn

“But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; The chastisement for our peace was upon Him, And by His stripes we are healed.”  Isaiah 53:5

“He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.” Psalm 137:3

Who Is On the Throne?

Recently I have been reminded how much self is at the root of divorce. When one spouse’s self determines it is not getting what it wants, needs, and deserves, that self determines to leave the marriage and seek fulfillment elsewhere.

SELF fulfillment              SELF preservation

SELF determination         SELF actualization

When the other spouse’s self determines it doesn’t deserve to be treated that way, it seeks its own way as well.

SELF fulfillment                   SELF preservation

SELF determination              SELF actualization

Two people working hard to take care of themselves miss the bigger picture. Self is such a tiny focus, yet all other things diminish in importance when self is on the throne. Contention, division, and separation increase exponentially as self battles to have its own way.

Self first entered into marriage in the Garden of Eden after that first couple sinned and experienced separation from God. …and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves coverings.” (Genesis 3:7) Before sinning they were covered with the glory of God, but now self took over. It is the same today. When self is on the throne, there is no room for the Lord. There is no need for the miracle power of God or holding any hope that things could change. Self is powerful, but it knows its limitations and believes no further than what it can achieve.

Amazingly, though, if only one of those people is willing to trust God and allow Him to sit on the throne in his or her life, powerful things begin to happen. First of all, He begins to heal the broken heart and reestablish worth in the soul. Not a worth brought about by ego, but a genuine worth based on the shedding of His blood and the price He paid because of His unending love.

That one person who commands self to bow down to the Lordship of Jesus Christ begins to experience the fullness of His life within. His forgiveness flows gently into the heart and soul and enables that one person to forgive and ask forgiveness. His unconditional love overcomes rejection, hurt, and the desire to get even. Slowly, but surely, His nature grows within and is reflected out from that one person who acknowledges that He is Lord of all.

Standing is not about getting what we want. It is about getting our”selves” out of the way and allowing Jesus to be Lord of our lives. He transforms us from within and His will becomes life to us. His wisdom guides decisions. He is a shield and protection when the enemy’s darts are flying. His love pours out to our wounded children and brings them life and hope as well.

It only takes one. Are you willing to be that one? Love, Marilyn

“In his self-sufficiency he will be in distress; Every hand of misery will come against him.”  Job 20:22

Close to My Heart

A few weeks ago I was sitting beside our youngest grandson on the glider in our backyard. We weren’t talking very much, just sitting together and enjoying the garden. Then he turned and looked up at me and with deadly seriousness he asked,

“Grandma, do you know we’re getting a divorce?”

The words cut through my heart and I fought to keep back tears. I had wondered when he would be willing to talk about it and had left the timing to him. Never did I suspect, though, that he would take ownership of it. To him this wasn’t just Mom and Dad that were splitting up, it was the whole family.

Through the years we have watched many couples change their stand on divorce and remarriage when their own children went through divorce. They always told us, “It’s different when it’s your own child.” I often wondered how it could be. Truth is truth, no matter whose marriage it is. God’s plan to be faithful “until death do us part” is His marriage covenant. We have always said we can’t control what our children do, but we can control how we react.

Knowing God’s truth about marriage and seeing His miraculous healing of so many marriage through the years makes the pain of watching our own children’s divorce even greater. Knowing that God not only can heal a marriage but wants to, makes choosing the devil’s answer even more tragic.

Seeing our children under attack also makes us twice as angry at the enemy! We are experiencing the pain that so many of you have of living in a “no fault” divorce state where the enemy can tear apart a home with no resistance, where no counseling is mandatory, and no hope is given.

Again, as I have asked so many times before, where is the Church? Why is there no battle for this family? Why is the devil’s solution seen as a Godly answer? I know you have asked these same questions in your own life. Sometimes it seems all of us are a lone voice crying out, yet it makes us more determined than ever to see the enemy lose once again. And this time for the greater glory of God!

On Chad and Cristine’s wedding day, we challenged all their bridesmaids and groomsmen (and there were 20 of them) that they had voluntarily chosen to be witnesses to their covenant. If their marriage came under attack, they needed to stand with both of them, not taking sides, but fighting for both of them and for their marriage and family. Well, that hour is here. Now is the time to surround them with prayer support and stand together with them. It is not a time to agree with one in opposition to the other. On the day they married, Chad became our son and we stand and fight the enemy for both of them, for their marriage, and for their precious children.

Our generation has seen God work miracles in family relationships. We have witnessed impossible situations changed as only God can do. Yet at the same our children’s generation has witnessed break up after break up of marriages in both the Church and the world with few people ever offering any Godly alternative. A marriage that is meant to last a lifetime is only a dream to so many! As we walk through this, may this generation also see the powerful hand of God that we have witnessed through the years!

That day in the garden when our grandson asked me that painful question, he added with hope in his voice, “But we don’t know if it’s permanent.” Amen! The faith of a little child’s heart should be what we all stand in right now. Love, Marilyn

“I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth.”  3 John 1:4

And They Said It Wouldn’t Last!

Today we are celebrating our 43rd anniversary! We are so grateful to the Lord for all He has done in our lives. We know that without Him, our story would have ended much differently.

The hours, the days, the weeks, the months, and the years of standing sometimes seem to stretch on endlessly. I remember thinking that maybe nothing would ever change. It was in those times that I needed to remember that I was being obedient to my marriage vows, not working to bring my husband home.

My heart and my obedience were my responsibility. Michael was God’s. It is sometimes easy to begin believing that what we do or say will have a direct and immediate effect on our spouse. If we just say the right thing at the right time or do just the right thing, our spouse will respond and we will be reconciled. It is at times like that we need to remember that God is working in both of our lives and we can only be obedient for ourselves. Trying to be our spouse’s Holy Spirit never works. Believe me, I tried.

I used to think also that so much time was being wasted. It was taking too long and too much of my life was passing by. All I can say is, I was astounded by how the Lord redeems the years. He is a God of miracles and one of those miracles is how He multiplies the fruit of a stand. The harvest is astounding!<

So today I encourage you, don’t give up! Keep your eyes on Jesus, not your spouse or your circumstances. Give the Lord your watch and your calendar and start living in His timing. Keep your eyes fixed on His plan for you and rejoice in each new day He gives you. Let Him bless you with His daily grace and mercy. Let Him fill the places of your heart that long for love. Each day, each hour, enjoy Him and you will be surprised how fulfilled your life will be. Your spouse is not your source, the Lord is.

Today as we celebrate, we thank the Lord for all He has done, not only for us and for our family, but for all the lives He has privileged us to touch in His name! The battle is truly worth it! Hold fast to His promises. Love, Marilyn

“The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do it.”  1 Thessalonians 5:24

The Holidays

It has been quite a while since I have written. You are consistently on my heart and in my prayers, but this last year has been a bit overwhelming for me with aging parents and increasing responsibility. I promise to be more in touch this coming year.

You have been especially on my heart during this holiday season. I know how difficult the holidays can be when you are standing and I want to encourage you to help make this time a blessing.

If we focus on Jesus, truly the One that this time should be about, it helps to overcome the other circumstances that crowd in.

There are many things we cannot control at times like this, but no one nor anything can rob us of the peace that Jesus brings. That is why it is called the “peace that passes understanding.” Things of this earth can come and go. Pressures can increase and decrease. Pain and loss can grow and diminish, but Jesus is constant, never changing. His love never shrinks back and His presence is always there.

You are facing many challenges, some more painful than others, right now. It is time to draw even closer to Him. His life on this earth was filled with rejection and challenges. His birth occurred in a stable because his parents were turned away from a cleaner, safer place. That didn’t stop Him. His own family mocked His call and had little faith in what He came to do. That didn’t stop Him. He was betrayed by a kiss, an act of love. That didn’t stop Him. He was tortured and crucified surrounded by unbelievers who scorned Him. That didn’t stop Him. He was buried in a tomb with guards posted to keep Him there. That didn’t stop Him.

He rose again, triumphing over all, and in that resurrection gave His overcoming power to all of us! Whatever you face this Christmas, don’t let it stop you! Jesus rules and reigns in your heart. His unstoppable vision and purpose are strong within you. You have chosen to stand for covenant, to stand for righteousness and He stands with you. Scripture tells us if He be for us, who can be against us! In the midst of the turmoil, the commercial hustle and bustle, the challenges of family relationships, and the pain that inevitably tries to overwhelm, stand strong in His peace and love.

The enemy can only bring things against you from the outside. Inwardly you live in Christ. Let that inward peace and joy overcome the outward attacks. Keep your eyes on Jesus and trust your heart to His care. Let Him wrap you in His arms and carry you through this time. Love, Marilyn

“Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”  Romans 15:13