When Your Marriage Is Breaking…

wedding-rings

(http://www.freeimages.com/photo/wedding-rings-1416826)

Marriages are breaking all over the place.

We know this, but what do we do when it’s our own marriage that is breaking apart?

There are a few questions to ask yourself when you know your marriage is not what it should be:

1.  What kind of marriage do you want?

2.  How much are you willing to invest or work at it to improve it?

3.  What is your relationship with God like?  How would you rank it?

The absolute key to the health of your marriage is truly dependent upon the health of your relationship with the Lord. 

Let’s look at two simple areas in regards to your relationship:

1.  Are you reading God’s Word, believing that it does have answers and will help you?

2.  How is you prayer life?

These are simple questions — things we all know.

The problem is the difference between what we know and what we do — which is what we believe.

There are also two questions to ask in regards to your part of your marriage:

1.  What does God want to show you in regards to yourself?

2.  What specific area(s) do you need to forgive today?  (Note: Forgiveness doesn’t absolve the offender; it frees the offended from the stranglehold of bitterness.)

Here’s some simple advice:

1.  Ask God to show you something about your spouse today — how God sees that person.

2.  Pick one wife from the Bible (if you are a wife; otherwise, pick a husband).

  • Write down why she or he was or was not a good example to follow — give specifics (heart and actions).
  • How did this wife affect her husband (or husband affect his wife)?

3.  What is one thing you want to see your spouse change most of all?  (Focus on one thing at a time.)

4.  What is one thing you think you need to change?  Focus on that.

5.  What is one thing you think your spouse is going to say you need to change?  Focus on that.

6.  In a safe environment (with a counselor possibly present), share those things you need to change.  They should do the same thing.  Refrain from any disparaging comments.

7.  Respect is the key.  No relationship will flourish where there is a lack of respect.

8.  “Die” to yourself.  (This doesn’t mean accept or tolerate abuse.)  This refers to your own will.  Surrender it to God.  Walk in His truth and freedom.

9.  Pray, expecting God to answer!

10.  Invite God’s Presence into the situation — to convict, change, make a difference.

 

 

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Putting On Your Armor…

Soldiers from Battery B, 3rd Battalion, 320th Field Artillery Regiment, 101st Airborne Division, pause at the end of a patrol near Wynot, Iraq. This photo appeared on <a href="http://www.army.mil">www.army.mil</a>.

(http://www.everystockphoto.com/photo.php?imageId=2722810&searchId=afc4d1bde8a35eac244d4d7fc35b2e44&npo)

I am enjoying a study on spiritual warfare.  It’s been absolutely needful, encouraging, and convicting!

What a difference it makes when we begin to recognize the attacks for what they are! Knowing the source of our attacks helps us to begin to “muck” through the lies.

Our enemy is very conniving, and his attacks are always directed “below the belt.”  They can be lethal if not recognized and dealt with properly.

As horrific as the attacks can be at times, the encouraging truth is there is hope and also guaranteed victory for us if we walk in our position in Christ.

In the past, I would have seen this as one more reason to pile on fear.  “What if I am not fighting him properly?  What if I start to believe the lies?”

Here’s the truth:

The armor is something we have because we have Christ.  We are in Him, and He is in us.   — Kay Arthur from Lord? Is It Warfare?  Teach Me To Stand

1 Corinthians 15:57

57 But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

Jesus won our victory at Calvary!

We though are active participants in our victory.  We are “to quell the enemy and hold our position.” (Kay Arthur)

Obedience guarantees victory.  In warfare, there’s nothing to fear but your unbelief and disobedience — and those you determine.

It is each individual’s responsibility to put on the armor; it is not a passive claiming of something which happened at salvation.  We are told to take up the full armor!  It is an act of … believing, embracing, responding.  — Kay Arthur from Lord? Is It Warfare?  Teach Me To Stand

What does our armor look like?  How do we “wear” it?

The Belt Of Truth

You could tell by the way a Roman soldier wore his belt whether or not he was on duty.  If his belt was tight, he was prepared for action.  If it hung loose, he was off duty.

… the belt was essential and foundational to the armor because it kept everything in its proper place.  Truth performs the same function! …It keeps righteousness in its proper place.  How can we know what is truly right or wrong apart from truth?

You must be convinced of the truthfulness, the veracity of God’s Word to be firm in your faith.

If you are not convinced of these things, then the rest of the armor will be useless.

Truth must become at home in your, and you must be at home in it.  Otherwise, you’ll find it easy to diminish it or to add to it.

You can walk in the futility of your mind, or you can walk in truth.

When we meet the Lord Jesus Christ, we encounter truth, pure unadulterated truth.  Jesus is the way, the truth, the life (John 14:6).  His Word is truth (John 17:17).  We have to come to know the truth, and the truth has set us free (John 8:32).

…truth in it love.  — Kay Arthur from Lord? Is It Warfare?  Teach Me To Stand

The belt of truth is imperative for the rest of our armor to function properly.  Truth is our foundation to walk in freedom and power as a Christian. 

There is no spiritual strength or freedom where there is a “foundation” that is built upon mere human reasoning, which changes with the opinions of society.  There is no true freedom where lies are keeping us from fully seeing and living the truth.

John 8:32

32 Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

The Breastplate Of Righteousness

The breastplate — righteousness — is a gift given to every child of God.  Without the Holy Spirit, you could never be righteous, let alone walk in righteousness.  (2 Cor. 5:21)

God’s righteousness has been put to your account.  It is imputed through His death and imparted to your life through His Spirit.  God does not condemn.  God does not accuse.  God convicts of sin and seeks to lead us to repentance.

…we have been declared righteous.  We are also expected to live righteously day in and day out.  When we don’t choose to live this way, we must confess our sins so that the devil has no opportunity to wound us in our vital organs.

The breastplate of righteousness protects us against deadly attacks to our heart.  Our “heart” is the seat of our desires and emotions.  It is what motivates us.  It is the essence of who we are.

This shows how important righteousness is because it is the “armor” God has given to protect our desires, our motivations, our emotions, the essence of who we are.

If you want to know the projection of your life, then know what’s in your heart.  In other words, what’s in our hearts is what is going to determine the direction of our lives.

God is saying that righteousness is that important!

Sin, left unconfessed, within the life of the believer can become deadly.  This is not to condemn us or leave us in fear.  It is to warn us so that we recognize the sin in our lives and repent.

It is so easy to condone, minimalize, or excuse sin in our lives.  I have been guilty of doing that — of overlooking pride, unforgiveness, selfishness, anger.

I love it though when God brings those areas to my attention and says, “It’s time to deal with these…”  He doesn’t say that to condemn me, but He says it because He loves me and wants me to walk in freedom.

Ephesians 4:27

27 and do not give the devil a foothold.

“…sin in the life of a Christian gives Satan a place of occupation, an opportunity.”

The word translated opportunity simply means a place… [occupation]

Any sin that we harbor in our lives, that we know is there and yet we refuse to acknowledge and confess, will give Satan a beachhead for further attacks. 

— Kay Arthur from Lord? Is It Warfare?  Teach Me To Stand

The Shoes Of Peace

If you’re at peace with God and others, then you can withstand almost anything.  But let that peace be disturbed, and you’re in torment.

… peace is so vital to our being able to withstand circumstances…

Paul shows the necessity of the believer’s participation in putting on shoes which will enable him to stand firm when the enemy attacks.

…our position with God is one of peace — peace with God and with those in the body of Christ.

…to stand firm in warfare we must be convinced that we are at peace with God.

If I have done everything I can to walk in peace with God and others, I will be able to stand against the enemy’s accusations.

…anger, unforgiveness, bitterness, and depression — four tactics of the enemy to rob you of peace.

— Kay Arthur from Lord? Is It Warfare?  Teach Me To Stand

It has been said that without proper footwear, a soldier becomes useless.  In order to hold our position, we need to be able to stand.  Our footwear is vital to our ability to stand.

In ancient times, it was common to hide spikes that would penetrate the footwear of enemy soldier’s feet.  Wounded feet would immobilize the soldier.

It’s interesting that our ability to hold our position, to stand in our victory in Christ is to keep short “accounts” with God and others.  Our ability to walk in peace is vital to our position of victory.

What a warning this is against harboring bitterness and unforgiveness in our hearts!

Let’s be honest; we have all had people that have offended or wounded us in some way.  The question is, “What do we do with those wounds?”  Holding onto unforgiveness does not punish the offender; it punishes us.  Bitterness is a prison that will keep us in bondage until we release the lock and let go of the hurts.

Forgiveness is a choice we make — not a feeling.

Forgiveness does not ignore the pain, but it allows us to walk free from the bondage of those wounds.  Bitterness keeps us enchained to the wounds of the past so we can never walk free from them.

If you harbor anger and don’t deal with it biblically, then you can know for certain, Beloved, that you are giving the devil an opportunity or place in your life.

“The day of anger should be the day of reconciliation.”

Forgiveness, faith, and obedience would spring anger’s trap.

Healing begins when we are willing to forgive.

…if we are unwilling to forgive, we can’t put on the sandals of peace.  Our feet will be pierced by those barely visible, sharpened spears, and we’ll find ourselves immobilized, our feet infected.

— Kay Arthur from Lord? Is It Warfare?  Teach Me To Stand

The life of a soldier is not easy.  It is fraught with danger, toil, hardships.  Yet, our life as a “warrior” in the Heavenly Kingdom is not one of drudgery or discouragement.  We do have a guaranteed victory!

Even past battles that were “lost” God can redeem when we yield ourselves completely to Him.  Here are some following quotes that will inspire and convict:

You’ll have no peace to stand in, Beloved, if you don’t submit to God.  Meekness is the cure for bitterness.

This is part of the good news of the gospel of peace.  Your Kinsman Redeemer will buy back the trauma, the pain, the disappointments, and use them all to make you more like Jesus.

— Kay Arthur from Lord? Is It Warfare?  Teach Me To Stand

Hoping that this encourages and challenges you as much as it does me!

Stay tuned for more on the armor of God.  There are more pieces to our armor yet to be studied.

Finding Satisfaction

Further HDR fisheye shots from B�¡rr�¡s. I was crazy enough to carry a full-size tripod there along with my lens arsenal (I'm happy that these shots turned out decent, as the extra weight was really a bitch to carry). B�¡rr��...

(Free stock photo: http://www.everystockphoto.com/photo.php?imageId=659478&searchId=6cad826248cd3f4e93da71e7b49928e3&npos=9.)

We are only two weeks into the new year, and my thoughts have been on goals, hopes, and dreams.

A new year frequently spurs people on a new trajectory or encourages new momentum on a recurring goal.

Yet when I pondered all the dreams, hopes, and goals we have as humans, I couldn’t help but think that they all point to the same end…

I remember as a girl, having dreams of being the object of a wonderful man’s love and desire.  A beautiful wedding. Marriage.  Babies.  It all sounded so wonderful!

Being mommy meant chubby cheeks, blowing kisses, hearing “Mama”, and getting slobbery kisses.  I pictured all the cuteness and thought that I would be the “perfect” mom and my kids would be little images of “perfection.”  Why not?  No one dreams about the messes, temper tantrums, and sleepless nights.

We have other hopes and dreams too.  Traveling.  Physical fitness.  A bigger house.  Pretty things.  For women, we might think new additions to our wardrobe will make the difference.

All of these things satisfy for a time so we will often return to the things that satisfied us before in order to keep the sense of euphoria going.

This is the origin of many mid-life crises.  The old is no longer as exciting so we look for a newer, younger, more passionate version.

The old house is no longer as “big” and appealing as it was at first so we look for a bigger, more extravagant home.

Our home town is not the exotic center for excitement so we travel to destinations in distant locations.

Most of these things are fine in themselves.  The problem is when we are chasing after these things in order to either “run from” the things that intimidate us or when we are pursuing these things in order to find a lasting sense of “being”or satisfaction and joy.

As a woman, I have been guilty of ever so often wanting to shop for new additions to my wardrobe or a few new items to decorate my home in order to give me a sense of happiness.  The issue is not with the items; the issue is my desired outcome: happiness from these things.

The truth is beauty fades, strong muscles atrophy into frailty, our health gives out eventually, relationships take work and commitment, clothing wears and so do homes, styles come and go, “familiarity breeds contempt,” the kids grow up and leave the nest, spouses age and eventually die. At some point, it all ends or diminishes.

Nothing in this life is permanent.

It is a grim picture, but it’s not when you find something that is eternal and completely satisfying.

The one thing that remains eternal and transcends the earthly is the supernatural.  This is why there is within us all a desire for something greater, eternal, supernatural.  We all want to know that at some point, we will finally reach a place where we can find “rest,” permanent satisfaction, and joy.

I believe that place is what God promises in the Bible as our eternal and final dwelling: a place with Him.

What comfort it is to know that we can dream, anticipate, and hope for something that is assured to all those who believe and receive this gift.  It is the gift of salvation, the gift of son-ship and daughter-ship, the gift of eternal life, the gift of lasting peace, the gift of victory…

May 2016 be a year where we look not to the temporal to satisfy the eternal longings and needs of our souls.  May it be a year where we discover or persevere in an unshakable faith in an eternal inheritance of life, love, peace, and joy, found in Jesus Christ.

Romans 10:9-11

that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. 11 For the Scripture says, “Whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame.”[a]

Romans 5:21

21 so that as sin reigned in death, even so grace might reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

1 John 2:25

25 And this is the promise that He has promised us—eternal life.

1 John 5:11

11 And this is the testimony: that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son.

1 John 5:13

13 These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life,[a] and that you may continue to believe in the name of the Son of God.

Revelation 21:1-6

All Things Made New

21 Now I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away. Also there was no more sea. Then I, John,[a] saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.”

Then He who sat on the throne said, “Behold, I make all things new.” And He said to me,[b] “Write, for these words are true and faithful.”

And He said to me, “It is done![c] I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. I will give of the fountain of the water of life freely to him who thirsts.

Harmony In The Dichotomy

Three gears in action. Shallow dof, focus in the theeth that make contact. Metaphorical illustration of Industrial workforce, business worflow, teamwork cooperation, energy, transmition,  motor

(http://www.everystockphoto.com/photo.php?imageId=4169713&searchId=f5d7e2532cc9ad16bc2a41222d76f269&npos=6)

When we study the character of God, the complexity of it can be overwhelming.  In its complexity, we can assume that it is contradictory and therefore choose to ignore parts we don’t understand nor appreciate.

Yet, as we study the character of God, we do not find dichotomy that leads to division and chaos. Rather, we see a contrast of character that within the complexity of its dichotomy blends into a beautiful harmony.

There is harmony within the dichotomy of the nature of God.

The following quote speaks of some of this:

The Lion of Judah conquered because He was willing to act the part of a lamb.  He came into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday like a king on the way to a throne, and he went out of Jerusalem on Good Friday like a lamb on the way to the slaughter.  He drove out the robbers from the Temple like a lion devouring his prey. And then at the end of the week, He gave His majestic neck to the knife, and they slaughtered the Lion of Judah like a sacrificial lamb…

So Christ is a lamb-like Lion and a lion-like Lamb. That is His glory — “an admirable conjunction of diverse excellencies.”  — John Piper in Seeing & Savoring Jesus Christ

And another quote from Seeing & Savoring Jesus Christ:

We admire him for his glory, but even more because his glory is mingled with humility.

We admire him for his transcendence, but even more because his transcendence is accompanied by condescension.

We admire him for his uncompromising justice but even more because it is tempered with mercy.

We admire him for his majesty, but even more because it is a majesty of meekness.

We admire him because of his equality with his God, but even more because as God’s equal he nevertheless has a deep reverence for God.

We admire him because of how worthy he was of all good, but even more because this was accompanied by an amazing patience to suffer evil.

We admire him because of his sovereign dominion over the world, but even more because this dominion was clothed with a spirit of obedience and submission.

We love the way he stumped the proud scribes with his wisdom, and we love it even more because he could be simple enough to like children and spend time with them.

And we admire him because he could still the storm, but even more because he refused to use that power to strike the Samaritan with lightning (Luke 9:54-55), and he refused to use it to get himself down from the cross.

It is the contrasts and unity of these qualities that lend itself to a greater beauty and more complete picture of the wonder of our God!

This is Who God is!  He is both the Lion and the Lamb.  He is conqueror, and He is healer.  He is grace, and He is truth.  He is just, and He is merciful!  He is holy, and He is also forgiving.  That’s my God!

Knowing that there is greater strength, beauty, and glory within the contrast, how does that give us hope and joy in our weakness?

It means that where we lack in all that is good, true, and noble, God is more than abundant.  It means that God meets us in our “lack” and fills the need so that the combination of God in us makes for a superior picture of excellence.

It is when we surrender our brokenness to God and ask Him to fill it with His wholeness, a beautiful “picture” of glorious redemption is portrayed.  Perhaps, it reveals a distinct quality of God otherwise unseen.

This glorious conjunction shines all the brighter because it corresponds perfectly with our personal weariness…  Jesus said, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart.”  (Matt. 11:28-29).  The lamb-like gentleness and humility of this Lion woos us in our weariness.  And we love him for it.  — Seeing & Savoring Jesus Christ

We recognize the glory of God’s work and Presence within our lives.  Yet, the glory doesn’t end with recognition and wonder.  It is “fulfilled” when we respond to this “revelation” of His character with a life that is surrendered and filled with His Presence — this is the essence of true worship.

True worship leads to surrendered and triumphant living.

One more quote that can “set our hearts on fire” with the glory of our God and the life He has given to us:

But this quality of meekness alone would not be glorious.  The gentleness and humility of the lamb-like Lion become brilliant alongside the limitless and everlasting authority of the lion-like Lamb.  Only this fits our longing for greatness. Yes, we are weak and weary and heavy-laden.  But there burns in every heart, at least some of the time, a dream that our lives will count for something great.  To this dream, Jesus said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.  Go therefore and make disciples of all nations… And behold, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” (Matt. 28:18-20)

The lion-like Lamb calls us to take heart from his absolute authority over all reality.  And he reminds us that, in all authority, he will be with us to the end of the age.  This is what we long for — a champion, an invincible leader.  We mere mortals are not simple either.  We are pitiful, yet we have mighty passions.  We are weak, yet we dream of doing wonders.  We are transient, but eternity is written on our hearts.  The glory of Christ shines all the brighter because the conjunction of his diverse excellencies corresponds perfectly to our complexity.Seeing & Savoring Jesus Christ

2016 Soul Food

I am so blessed!  This is the north shore of Lake Tahoe on the way from Tahoe City to Reno.
I used the &amp;quot;dusk&amp;quot; setting on my Nikon digital camera and in Photoshop, I upped the lightness and contrast a bit.  Here's a p...

(http://www.everystockphoto.com/photo.php?imageId=19084&searchId=635828f397ff80825e1a86d9ad9f4b17&npos=12)

The following quote/goal list is borrowed from Ann Voskamp’s blog, A Holy Experience.  Read her blog for the entire post: http://www.aholyexperience.com/2015/12/this-is-the-year-when-new-year-resolutions-feel-hopeless-you-want-some-soulutions-free-printable.  Feel free to print out her printable and make your own goals.  (Thank you, Ann Voskamp!)

2016. This is The Year
I purpose to —

* Embrace Imperfect.

This is The Year to be held by the arms of grace, not to any standard of perfection.

* Engage Silence — not screens.

This is The Year to engage silences regularly & retreat to the “back side of the wilderness.” Because when you do not need to be seen or heard — you can see and hear in desperately needed ways.

You find your true self when you look for your reflection in the eyes of souls — and not the glare of screens.

* Be still.

Be small. Be Loved. Beloved.

Let yourself be loved anyway He wants to love you. God is always, always good & you are always, always, always. loved.

Be still …. & know.

* Believe in Him for impossABLE things.

Believe in Him who makes the ridiculously impossible into the miraculously possible,
the unbelievable into the you-better-believe-it,
the never into the now.
Be the brave people who pray it bold in the space between the end of one year & the beginning of a New Year: BUT GOD.

“Ours is the God who whispers: “With Me nothing, Nothing, NOTHING is impossible.
Believe in Him for impossABLE things — because as long Emmanuel, God is with us & we are with God: nothing is impossible.

Believe in Him for improbable, implausible, impractical, impossABLE things.

* Break idols — or they will break you.

Break free, break out of ruts, break idols — or they will break you.

* Daily 3 for 10:

These 3 for 10 everyday: Word In. Work Out. Work Plan.
It’s not what you do every now and then, but what you do everyday, that changes everything.

Word in: Get into God’s Word for 10 minutes and let it get into you.
Work out: Work out. Even 10 minutes of moving is better than nothing.
Work plan: Write out the Work Plan — even just 3 things. And then just start: 10 minutes working the plan.

* Do Less. Pray More.

More than your doing hands, God wants your bended knees.

* Let Go of the Outcome.

Come completely committed to the process — and completely let go of the outcome.
In the middle of things seemingly not working out for us —- God is working out something in us.

* Learn Endurance.

Do Hard & Holy Things. Break the idols of ease — or they will break you.

* Live Given.

Because #LoveGives.
Because God so loved He gave.
Because Living is Giving.

* Give

It
Forward
Today — 3 times a day.
Give It Forward Today & be the #GIFT — give an act of grace forward, 3 times a day. Be a #GIFTivst
It’s the Giftivists are the activists who believe that radical acts of generosity counter radical acts of inhumanity. #GIFTivst

* Grow Brave. Grow in Grace

Grow Brave. Grow in Grace. Which is basically the same thing.

Finding The Real Deal This Year

My Prrrreeeciousssss... 
*LOL*

Foto que eu fiz para uma campanha publicitária para o mês dos namorados.

&lt;i&gt;Photo I took for an advertisement at Valentine's Day&lt;/i&gt;

(http://www.everystockphoto.com/photo.php?imageId=10728&searchId=449de323485c7ad045f6af2e284cd81b&npos=20)

 

This short story is taken from The Pearl by Angela Hunt:

“There was once a king who had three sons.  He also had one ring of pure gold.  Concerned about rivalry among his sons after his death, he had two rings fashioned from false gold and upon his deathbed, he ordered his wise men to give the three rings to his sons.  Calling his sons near, he told them the truth: one ring was real, two were false, but the person with the pure ring would always be kind, good, and blessed of God…

All three sons strove to be kind and good because each of them wanted the people to believe he had been blessed with the real ring.

…Anyone who practices good will be regarded as good by those who can’t see the secrets of the human heart … But all the good in the world won’t change the truth — only one son had the real ring.  The other two were living a lie.  Think about it.”

Matthew 13:45-46

The Parable of the Pearl of Great Price

45 “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant seeking beautiful pearls, 46 who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had and bought it.