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How Can I Seriously Count Painful Times As Joy?

I was planning to write this post a few hours before my father-in-law suddenly died August 4th. It is the sequel to my post from last week about Is Real Joy Possible for Me?  I am honored to share these precious spiritual treasures with you – as it so happens – from the midst of a significant trial in my own life.

We live in a fallen world and we all face many kinds of trials in our lives. None of us are exempt. I may not have much control over what trials come my way. But I do have control over my response and attitude.

I am so excited to share some amazing truths with you – truths that will radically change your life and perspective if you are willing to embrace them.

JOY IS MY CHOICE IN TIMES OF TRIAL

I can choose to depend on God’s wisdom, His strength, His sovereignty, His power, His goodness, His love, and His vision. I can choose to trust Him and His Word. I can willingly yield to His Lordship and let Him lead me.

This takes the power of the Holy Spirit. It takes close fellowship with God. It takes practice. It is a discipline we can learn as believers with God’s help. I can begin to see hard times as spiritual tests and opportunities for growth.

When I face difficulties, the Holy Spirit empowers me (if I belong to Christ) to choose to respond in:

  • Faith
    • I don’t know the answers, but I trust that God knows what to do and that He will lead me through this. (Isa. 30:21, Ps. 23)
    • I don’t have the wisdom to solve this dilemma, but I trust that God has wisdom and power in this situation. (Isa. 40:28)
    • I know God is sovereign, good, and loving even now and even over this. (Jer. 29:11-13)
  • Joy
    • I know that God promises to use this specific trial to help me grow in my faith and in spiritual maturity, and that brings me great joy. (James 1:2-4)
    • Jesus invites me to ask for things I genuinely need – according to His will – and to receive from God, that my joy might be full. (John 16:24)
    • A joyful heart is good medicine. (Prov. 17:22)
    • God calls me to rejoice in Him at all times. (Phil. 4:4)
    • I have so many reasons for joy in Christ, even in the midst of my trials (the following is excerpted from www.gotquestions.org).
      • The joy of my salvation.
      • The joy of anticipating God’s deliverance.
      • The joy of God’s presence.
      • The joy of spiritual maturity.
  • Anticipation
    • I can’t wait to see how God will use this awful situation to create something beautiful and good in my life and bring glory to Himself!
    • I want to go much deeper with the Lord! (Eph. 1:15-23)
    • God wants to use hardships to help conform me to the image of Christ Jesus. (Rom. 8:29)
  • An Open Heart
    • What does God want me to learn and how does He want to help me to grow in this painful trial?
  • Spiritual Treasure Seeking
    • It is only in the dark caves where people can find diamonds, rubies, emeralds, and gems physically, it is similar spiritually. The greatest treasures are found in the darkest times, if we are willing to look.
    • I don’t want to miss any of the gifts He has for me here.
  • Prayer
    • Lord, I give this situation to You. You see all that I am going through and my suffering. I trust You are with me. I trust You are sovereign and good.
    • I invite Your provision!
    • How should I pray about this situation?
    • Not my will but Yours be done! (Luke 22:42)
    • Is there anyone I should ask to pray with me/for me about this?
    • What step do you want me to take next?
    • I only want to see Your greatest glory!
    • I want Your perfect will.
    • What miracles do You want to do here?
  • Peace
    • In the world, I will have tribulation. But Jesus promises to give me His peace. (John 16:33)
    • God will keep me in His perfect peace when I trust Him and my mind is focused on Him. (Isaiah 26:3)
    • I can lay all of my concerns, worries, and fears before God because He cares for me. (Phil. 4:6)
  • Assurance 
    • He is going to make a way for me to make it through this. (Isa. 43:16-19)
    • He is with me and He will never leave or forsake me. (Deut. 31:8)
  • Rest
    • Jesus invites me to come to Him when I am weary and He will give me rest for my soul. (Matt. 11:28-30)
  • Strength 
    • His grace is sufficient for me, for His power is made perfect in my weakness. (2 Cor. 12:9)
    • God promises I can do all that He calls me to do through the power of Christ in me. (Phil. 4:12-13)
    • The Lord is my strength and my song. (Ex. 15:2)
  • Thanksgiving
    • I can look for the blessings and provision of God in the midst of my trial. (1 Thess. 5:18)
    • I can give thanks to the Lord for He is good! (Ps. 107:1)
  • Focusing on Positive Things 
    • I can focus on the good things, the Philippians 4:8 things, because whatever I focus on tends to grow in my field of spiritual vision.
  • Receptivity to His promises
    • I learn about God’s promises theoretically as I read His Word. But it is during a crisis that I actually get to rest the weight of my life on God’s promises and experience them in reality.
    • I want to keep all of God’s promises in my heart and stand firmly on them and His Word.
  • Ministry
    • How does God want me to shine for Christ in the midst of this yucky situation? (Phil. 2:14-16, Matt. 5:13-16)
    • How might He want me to be an example, blessing, and witness to others? (1 Cor. 7:16, Acts 1:8)
    • How does God desire me to overcome evil with good here? (Rom. 12:17-21)
    • I can rest assured that God will use my pain – and the comfort He brings to me – to bring comfort, healing, salvation, and to strengthen the faith to others in the future when they hear about what He did for me and how I responded. (2 Cor. 1:6)

This doesn’t mean I won’t have feelings of sadness. I will! I am human, after all. I will have sadness and grief, at times. I will feel frustration and anger, at times. I will hurt. I will have emotions. It is important to feel my emotions and to identify them. But I don’t have to be a slave to my emotions. And I don’t have to be a slave to my circumstances.

Things may look hopeless from a human perspective…

Thankfully, I don’t have to see from a mere human perspective if I know Jesus!

THE BLESSINGS OF TRIALS

Scripture is full of encouragement about the spiritual benefits of our trials as followers of Christ. Here are a few of the blessings my trials can produce in my life as I trust God:

  • Lamentations 1
    • Suffering for sin may help me repent of sin and return to God if I have strayed.
    • God disciplines those who belong to Him for our good, so that we will turn from death and embrace His Life.
  • Matthew 5:10-11 and Acts 5:41
    • Suffering for my faith in Christ means I have been counted worthy to suffer in Jesus’ name.
    • I am blessed if I am insulted, punished, and/or persecuted for my faith in Jesus.
  • Romans 5:3-5
    • I can glory in my sufferings because of the good they will produce
      • perseverance
      • character
      • hope
  • James 1:2-4
    • As I trust God during suffering, He will use my trials to produce good things in me:
      • endurance
      • greater faith
      • greater spiritual maturity
      • spiritual completeness
      • I will lack nothing
  • Hebrews 12:4-12
    • I am to count hardships as discipline from God that will help me learn and grow. His discipline:
      • is verification of my adoption as a child of God
      • brings greater respect for God
      • yields peaceful fruit
      • brings about righteousness
      • is guaranteed to be for my benefit
      • allows me to share in God’s holiness

NOTE – “Counting trials as joy” does not mean that I need to try to create trials for myself, that I should be purposely combative or argumentative, or that I should try to prolong trials. It also doesn’t mean I must stay in a dangerous, abusive situation where I am being severely sinned against if I am able to get somewhere safe.  

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If you have experienced God’s supernatural joy and/or blessings in the midst of a difficult trial, or you have learned something helpful about how to “count it all joy when you face trials of many kinds,” we’d love to hear about it! I’m so thankful we can walk this road together and encourage one another.

RESOURCES

Verses about trials – Open Bible

Verses about God’s wisdom – Open Bible

A list of all of God’s promises – Bible Gateway

Verses about peace – Open Bible

Verses about suffering as a believer – Open Bible

Verses about being persecuted and hated for faith in Christ – Open Bible

Verses about God’s Sovereignty – Open Bible

Verses about finding God’s direction – Open Bible

Verses about strength – Open Bible

“The Peaceful Mom – Building a Healthy Foundation with Christ As Lord” has one chapter on counting trials as joy and one chapter on having an eternal perspective. Most of the chapters in the book would be a blessing to all women, not just moms.

Is Real Joy Possible for Me?

Photo by Allef Vinicius on Unsplash

 

This is the post I wrote just an hour before Greg’s dad suddenly passed away last Saturday. The next one I plan to write is about counting trials as joy, which I had also planned to write before the trial we are currently facing began. I’m so excited to share the wonderful blessing of the joy of the Lord with all of you. It is one of the most precious gifts of God. When we know the Lord, we get to experience and participate in His amazing joy and contentment, even during the most difficult circumstances. 

Joy is something we all long to experience continually. But so few people possess it today. Even in the church. Dear sisters, this need not be! Each of us have access to more joy than we could possibly imagine in Jesus Christ!

DEFINING “JOY”

John Piper’s definition of joy:

  • Christian joy is a good feeling in the soul, produced by the Holy Spirit, as he causes us to see the beauty of Christ in the word and in the world.

www.gotquestions.org’s definition of joy:

  • The Greek word for joy is chara. Joy is the natural reaction to the work of God, whether promised or fulfilled.
  • Joy manifests in different ways:
    • the joy of deliverance
    • the joy of salvation
    • the joy of spiritual maturity
    • the joy of God’s presence
  • The Greek chara is closely related to charis, which means “grace” or “a gift.” Chara is the normal response to charis—we have joy because of God’s grace.
  • Possessing joy is a choice. We choose whether to value God’s presence, promises, and work in our lives. When we yield to the Spirit, He opens our eyes to God’s grace around us and fills us with joy (Romans 15:13).
  • Joy is not to be found in a fallen world; it is only fellowship with God that can make our joy complete (1 John 1:4).

Definition of joy – Bible dictionary

WHAT CAN DESTROY MY JOY?

For a believer in Christ, no one can take away our joy. The gifts and promises of God are secure for us in Jesus. The only way to lose my joy is to take my eyes off of Jesus, to slip from fellowship with Him (because of sin or neglect), to believe lies, and/or to look to other things/people for my joy, security, contentment, peace, and purpose.

Satan wants to steal my joy, and he will if I allow him to. He would love to get me to think I have to live in misery, defeat, sin, discouragement, worry, and fear. But reality is…

No one can steal the promises of God for me – unless I allow them to!

This joy is always available to me in my relationship with the Living God and Creator of the universe. It is not dependent on my circumstances or on other people.

  • The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. John 10:10
  • So also you have sorrow now, but I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you. John 16:22

ATTAINING JOY

Joy comes only when I turn away from everything that is spiritually toxic and my heart is fully yielded to the Lordship of Jesus. Then I have fellowship with God – emotional and spiritual connection, oneness, and intimacy.

Joy is intrinsic to the character and presence of God. He is the source of all true joy. Joy, in and of itself, is not to be my primary goal. It is an inevitable result when I am in close fellowship with the Lord. Joy is a byproduct, like all of the fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22-23).  Interestingly, joy is also a command for us as believers.

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. Phil. 4:4

God’s joy is always available to me – as much as He is always available to me. Many of us live in despair, hopelessness, and spiritual oppression today. But that is not God’s provision for us! We often live like we are beggars, searching desperately for crumbs. But if we belong to Christ, we are children of the Most High God and joint heirs with Jesus. All that He possesses belongs to us. We are already seated with Him in the heavenlies! And we will reign with Him for eternity.

WHAT REASONS DO I HAVE FOR JOY RIGHT NOW?

Here are just a few reasons I can have joy in any circumstances:

  • Jesus’ death conquered and paid for my sin debt in full! I have the ability to be in right-standing with God! (1 Cor. 15:55-57)
  • There is no longer any condemnation for me, if I am in Jesus! (Rom. 8:1)
  • His resurrection is mine – with the power to live today in holiness and the power to rise from death and experience eternal life! (John 11:25, Rom. 8:11)
  • I have God’s Word – and it is Life and Light. (Matt. 4:4, Ps. 119:105)
  • I have access to the very Holy of holies in heaven through Jesus! (Heb. 10:19)
  • His promises are all mine to claim, to stand on, and to delight in. (Phil. 4:19, 2 Cor. 1:20)
  • His Spirit is mine. (1 Cor. 6:19)
  • His fellowship is mine. (1 John 1:3)
  • His love is mine. Nothing can separate me from the Love of God in Christ Jesus if I belong to Him! (Rom. 8:38-39)
  • God will never leave me or forsake me. (Deut. 31:8)
  • God uses everything that happens in our lives for our ultimate good (if we are believers) and His ultimate glory. (Rom. 8:28-29)
  • God is sovereign over my life, my family, and the nations. (Ps. 103:19)
  • He is love. (1 John 4:8)
  • His wisdom is infinitely higher than my own. (Isaiah 40:28)
  • God is good. (Ps. 34:8)
  • My identity is in Christ Jesus alone. (Gal. 2:20)
  • My security is in Christ Jesus alone. (Eph. 1:13-14)
  • In Christ, all my fears melt away. He does not give me a spirit of fear, but a Spirit of love, power, and a sound mind. (1 Tim. 1:7)
  • He has given me so many reasons to sing praises to Him. (Ps. 100:1-2)
  • He gives me victory over sinful thoughts, words, and actions as I let His Spirit work powerfully in me. (Rom. 8:13)
  • He has done great things for me and I am extremely thankful to Him! (1 Thess. 5:18)
  • If I am on God’s side, He will fight for me and the enemy will not be able to have victory over me. (1 John 4:4, Ex. 14:14)
  • I don’t have to be afraid of all of the chaos going on in the world, God has given us information about what must take place before the rapture and Great Tribulation. I can stand on His Word. (1 Thess. 4:17, Rev. 13)
  • Heaven is guaranteed for me if I belong to Jesus. I don’t have to face death with fear. (John 3:16, 1 Cor. 2:9)

God has blessed me with countless blessings throughout my life: Jesus, salvation, the Bible, prayer, the Holy Spirit, my birth family, my husband, my children, air to breathe, food to eat, water to drink, a job, a roof over my head, a country where I am free, a church family, friends, health, electricity, the internet, talents, abilities, etc…

If these reasons for joy don’t get you excited, it’s time to check your spiritual pulse!

The joy of the Lord is your strength. Neh. 8:10

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What has God shown you about joy? We’d love to hear about it!

RESOURCES

Verses about joy

Verses about the promises of God

Is There a Difference between Joy and Happiness? by www.gotquestions.org

What Is Joy? by www.gotquestions.org

How Do You Define Joy? by John Piper

How to Have a Relationship with Christ 

How to Stay Filled with the Holy Spirit

 

“My Husband Thinks We Should Move!!!?!?”

Photo by Jamie Street on Unsplash

I love to take real-life situations and seek to approach them biblically. God has given us a LOT of instruction, help, and wisdom to use in times of conflict in our marriages and in almost any situation. As we learn to look to Him and His Word for biblical principles, and as we learn to depend on Him in faith and prayer – we can then learn to notice His promptings and leading in the details of our unique situations, as well.

Today, let’s picture a scenario where a husband* announces to his wife something like:

  • “My job is being relocated in two months to the office 2 hours away.”
  • “I found a better job opportunity out of state.”
  • “I think a move would be best for our family.”

A wife may be tempted to have a  knee-jerk reaction – like, “NO WAY!!!!!!”

Most of us don’t like change too much. It’s easy to immediately hate the idea and blast a husband with all the reasons this can’t possibly sane.

  • “Well, then, you need to get a job here. There is no way we are moving.”
  • “You can move and the kids and I will stay put. I’m not going to uproot them.”
  • “The kids are settled in their school and they have friends here.”
  • “I love this neighborhood and this house. I’m not giving it up!”
  • “I hate that idea.”
  • “I don’t care what you say, I’m not going!”
  • “Absolutely not! End of discussion!”

Sometimes it’s easy to freak out in a situation like this and be contentious, defensive, and argumentative. But what if, instead of freaking out and immediately rejecting our man’s idea, we take a deep breath and listen? He may be hearing from the Lord. He may not even know it, himself. But what if God is leading in this idea? What if I am fighting God? How could I possibly know for sure – yet?

SOME BIBLICAL PRINCIPLES TO KEEP IN MIND IN DIFFICULT SITUATIONS

  • “Father, if You are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but Yours be done.” Luke 22:42
  • Let the wife see that she respects her husband. Eph. 5:33
  • Train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled. Titus 2:4-5

God does work through things like circumstances, job transfers, a husband’s ideas (as the God-given leader of the family), job offers, and other situations to lead us into His will. Of course I am not saying that every job transfer announcement means, “It is definitely God’s will for the family to move.” Or that every idea a husband has is God’s will. We do need to pray and seek the Lord in times of decisions. So do our men.

But we have a sovereign Lord! If only we could grasp this precious truth! He is even able to take awful things like natural disasters, wars, and persecution – things Satan intends to use to destroy us – to lead His children. And He can certainly use good things to benefit us, too (Rom. 8:28-29). He will never leave us and never forsake us!

It could be that God wants to lead us into a new place where we will be greatly blessed. He may have just the right church family waiting for us, just the specific neighbors He wants us to have as our friends. He may have mentors for us in the new place or an amazing new ministry. Or, it may be that our children’s best friends and future spouses might be there. That is what happened when my Daddy’s job was relocated in 1987 from Pittsburgh, PA, to Columbia, SC! I sure hated the move at the time, but now, I am grateful beyond words!

Our cooperative spirit with our husbands, and – even more importantly – with the Lord, makes a huge difference! It also helps us to shine for the gospel and to draw others to Christ.

A DIFFERENT APPROACH

Maybe I could consider approaching a big, potentially scary decision, in new ways:

  • Listen to his ideas.
  • See the merit and good points he has, as well as the reality of the situation.
  • Ask for some time to pray to:
    • Seek the Lord.
    • Be open to Him.
    • Die to myself.
    • Really determine to trust Him no matter how He may lead.
    • Yield everything in my life to His will and hold things loosely in my hands.
    • Desire God’s will and His greatest glory for my husband, my children, and myself, even if I don’t know exactly what may happen.
  • Then after I have prayed and am calm, I can share my heart respectfully. I can share my concerns politely, in a friendly, cooperative way.
  • Maybe, in time, I might even be able to get excited about the idea. It could be a grand adventure the Lord has prepared for us all!

God is the One who is outside of time and space. Not me. He is omniscient – He knows everything. I definitely do not. He knows absolutely everything about the past, the present, and the future. His wisdom far exceeds my own. I want to be cooperative when He is opening a new door He has for my family.

*NOTE – If your husband is suffering from uncontrolled mental health issues, uncontrolled drug/alcohol addiction, if he is abusive, or not in his right mind, please seek appropriate, trustworthy, godly counsel and help from your local church, medical professionals, and even the police if necessary.

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Have you experienced a time when your husband believed that your family needed to move and now you can see God’s hand at work? Or maybe you had a move where you went kicking and screaming, only to realize later that God was in it. We’d love to hear about it in the comments. Your story may be just the inspiration another wife needs to see.

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13 Keys to Peace for Moms with Kids in Public School Today

I believe God can and will give each family the wisdom they need for each of their children at every stage about what kind of schooling works best for them. And I know that things can change for different children and families depending on many factors. So I am not going to advocate that all Christian parents must homeschool, must send their kids to private school, or must use public school. That is a matter of personal conviction and prayer for each family. God lovingly instructs us, in Romans 14, to extend grace and understanding to one another in the area of personal convictions.

This post is for moms who have children in the public school system right now and who are grappling with fear for their children’s safety.

We have two children in the public school system. In our area, we have been quite blessed because most of our children’s teachers have been Christians. We have had many very positive experiences with our school district, the teachers, the students, and the administration. Of course, there have been a few bumps along the way, too.

But I do have to admit, the shooting in Parkland, FL was tough. It definitely threatened my peace as a mom.

Every shooting is awful. Every single one tears my heart to shreds. This one hit me harder for some reason than all of the ones in the past. I didn’t even want to drive our son to his high school the next day. It was so tempting to react in fear. As a Mama, my first gut reaction was just to want to yank both of our kids out of public school.

Reality is – there are no ironclad guarantees our children will be safe at school – or anywhere else today.

How can I be peaceful when it feels like my children are potentially in danger?

It takes some spiritual wrestling to get to that place of perfect peace, but it IS possible in Christ!

  1. I have to get alone with God and feel my feelings first. I pour out my fears, my concerns, and my desires to the Lord.
    • It’s best if I do this first with God rather than unloading all of my fear on my husband, I have found. If I unload it on him first, he feels attacked. That makes things a lot worse.
  2. I seek to reject a spirit of fear because that is not from God.
    • I know I must take my thoughts captive for Christ. 
    • I have to be careful how much news I read/watch and how much Facebook I read. There are certain news outlets I don’t read/watch at all.
    • If I react out of fear, I will make destructive, horrible choices many times. I will play right into the hands of the enemy of my soul. I want to walk in God’s victory over my fear. I want to act in godly wisdom and faith.
    • I remember and declare out loud that God has not given me a spirit of fear but a spirit of power, love, and a sound mind. 2 Tim. 1:7
  3. I pray and ask for God’s wisdom for my husband and for myself, for our children, for the administration at the school, for the teachers, and for our government officials.
  4. I invite God’s Spirit to pour His love, life, power, and healing into our schools. I invite the gospel, the Bible, and prayer back into our schools.
    • We have been teaching our children that there is no God, human life is an accident, there is no purpose for them. We kicked out God and the Bible and the gospel, but we did not kick out the darkness. Darkness has been running rampant. That is not God’s fault – it is the result of people’s choices corporately and individually.
    • The only way to dispel the darkness is to allow God’s Light to return. I beg God for a 3rd Great Awakening in our country including in our schools, churches, businesses, government, families, and communities, that our schools might become places of light, hope, truth, and the gospel.
    • I pray for the shooter – and many potential future shooters – to receive healing from Christ and to come to know Jesus as Savior and Lord.
    • I pray for God to redeem the situation and use this tragedy to bring the gospel to many people and to open people’s hearts to His love and salvation.
    • I can find others to pray with me or join www.momsinprayer.org.
  5. I remind myself who God is.
    • God is sovereign. He doesn’t cause evil. But He promises to use all things, good and bad, for the good of those who love Him. He is love. He is just. He is holy. He reigns over the universe.
    • He is with me. He will never leave or forsake me – or my children. I focus on His Word and His character.
  6. I remember that my trust must ultimately be in God. Not anything else. My hope and faith has to be 100% in Him.
    • I might read through some of the Psalms where David was being attacked by King Saul and his enemies and how his trust was completely in the Lord.
    • Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the LORD our God. Ps. 20:7
  7. I thank God for this trial and rejoice at what He wants to teach me and how He wants to help me grow spiritually through it.
    • Consider it a great joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you experience various trials, because you know that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its full effect, so that you may be mature and complete, lacking nothing. James 1:2-4
    • I focus on thanksgiving and praise for the Lord.
  8. I do some research, if I think it may be time to change our children’s schooling situation. Maybe there is another school that might be a better fit for my child? Maybe I look into home schooling, a private school, or a charter school if I believe there might be a better alternative. I bring those options to the Lord first.
  9. I share my concerns and ideas with my husband respectfully. I share any alternative solutions I believe might work for our children if I truly believe they are not safe where they are. And I patiently wait for him to consider them. I don’t force my way or rush him. I give him all the time he needs.
  10. I hold the outcome loosely in my hands remembering that I don’t know all things like God does, trusting God to lead our children and myself through my husband. God has designated him as the leader – and He often nudges him in specific ways. I don’t know what is best. No human does. I have opinions – but God is already in the future and He sees and knows so many things I can’t know yet. His wisdom is infinitely higher than my own.
  11. I cooperate with my husband’s leading, unless he is asking me to sin or go against God, and seek to honor God’s order for our family because if I try to strike out on my own and do things my way without respecting God’s order in the government, at work, at church, or in my marriage, I may find myself fighting against God.
    • If we move our children to another type of schooling, I will trust God.
    • If we keep our children in public school, I will trust God.
  12. Then I continue to pray for everyone involved in my family, my children’s schools, the students and staff, our leaders, and our country. I trust God to lead our family through my husband. I invite God’s miracles and power and Spirit into the situation. I seek His glory more than anything else.
  13. I ask how God might want to use me to bless my kids’ schools and other schools.

My heart grieves so much over where we are as a culture. It is so obvious that we need God! We need His healing in our land! It is completely heartbreaking that we have so many people who are so broken, hurting, who feel so unloved, and who are so far from God that killing other people seems like the solution to them. If only they had the love of Christ! If only they knew the truth about their value to the Lord and the value of other people – that we are all made in the image of God. That we are all dearly loved by Him. If only they know that life – all human life – is precious and sacred. That we are all created with a high purpose. If only they knew what Jesus did for them and the Life and Love He offers them!

With the passing of Billy Graham this week, the gospel is being presented all over the world on secular news stations and social media. Perhaps God will even use the timing of his death at a time when many people are searching for answers from the shooting to soften people’s hearts to His message. There is also a major prayer movement with many believers in Christ pleading with the Lord for an awakening in Washington DC this week, as well. I believe there is about to be a MASSIVE movement of His Spirit – a tidal wave across our nation!

May God empower us all to grow like crazy in our faith in the midst of these trials and may His Spirit move mightily among us to draw us all closer to Himself than ever! And may He even use these tragedies to spur His people on to pray in the greatest Awakening the world has ever seen. Let’s come together in prayer, my precious sisters (and brothers)!

Verses about peace.

7 Keys to Finding Real Peace

 

The wicked band together against the righteous

and condemn the innocent to death.

But the Lord has become my fortress,

and my God the rock in whom I take refuge.

Ps. 94:21-22

God Is Asking Me to Do Something HARD – but Good!

Photo by Peter Aschoff on Unsplash

I spent some time over the past month praying, asking God what was blocking me from growing more in my faith. I know there are so many more things God wants to show me and that my faith could be much stronger. It is a question I want to ask myself and the Lord every so often. He showed me that I have been too distracted. Like – WAY too distracted. Mostly by comments and emails related to ministry stuff – I can easily spend about 2 hours per day, 7 days per week on that. And I often check comments and emails multiple times an hour. Ack! I am addicted!

So God is asking me to do something different. At least for a time.

He is asking me to give up my comment section on my blogs and my ministry-related emails for Lent.

This year Lent runs from 2-14-18 through 3-28-18. I have never really observed Lent before. But the Lord has made it clear to me that He wants to take me much deeper with Him. He is saying to me:

“Come away with Me and rest for awhile.”

Well, my precious sisters (and brothers), I can’t possibly turn down an invitation like that from my Lord! How sweet that He wants me to Himself for a bit. And that the time starts on Valentine’s Day. I want to always be willing to drop anything for Him. If I am not doing things His way, and not depending on His power, any ministry I do will be worthless.

And now, with it being about 6 weeks until the launch of The Peaceful Mom book and with all He wants to do in my life, my ministry, my own church, this ministry, the church as a whole, and in America – He is calling me to 40 days of fasting from online ministry connections.

Honestly, this is really hard! It’s painful. And – a bit anxiety-producing, at first. (Which just proved to me that I really am way too addicted to constantly checking my messages.) I’m awful at resting and slowing down. But I definitely see that I need this. And I want to take this big step with the Lord.

I love all of you, my readers. You are very dear to me. I feel so connected to you and love to be here with you and be here for you. I love the interaction, love, camaraderie, and fellowship we share here.

Some questions began to pop into my mind:

  • What if my readers need me?
  • What if they feel abandoned?
  • What if they can’t find what they need on my site?
  • What if this hurts my ministry to them? Forty days is a long time!
  • What if people quit reading my blog because I am not available for 6 weeks?
  • What if it hurts my book launch on March 27th?

dimitri-tyan-261850

(Photo by Dimitri Tyan on Unsplash

Of course, God had some really amazing answers for me:

  • Your readers are My precious lambs. I am holding them in my arms. They are Mine first. I will never leave them or forsake them. Even if you take a break that I want you to take. I will take care of them.
  • “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life” – John 14:6. As they seek Me first, they will find everything they need.
  • I’ve got them. You have left plenty of still water and green grass all over your sites for them to eat. I’ll help them find what they need on your sites and – most of all – in My Word.
  • You are exalting yourself way too much, April. Watch that pride! They really don’t need your advice and personal counsel. They need Me. My Spirit, My truth, My wisdom, My Word, and My power.
  • I’m going to show you that I can bless your ministry even if the comments are closed. I can use this site even if you aren’t there to answer comments every day for an extended period of time. I am the key here. Not you.
  • I want and deserve your full, undivided attention.
  • You need to rest in me and be still for awhile. I have a lot of things I want to show you. And I want to prepare and equip you for the major things I am about to do that will blow your mind. But I can’t do that if you constantly too busy to stop and listen and fellowship with Me more deeply.
  • The times you grow the most are the times you take a break from ministry for a bit. When you come back filled up with much more of Me, you will share that overflow with your sisters and they will be greatly blessed, too. This will be a win for you and for them.
  • I want you to set them a godly example of how to step back and take a break and be spiritually replenished. Many of them need to do something similar to come away with Me during this time, too.

I believe He wants me to:

  • Be still in Him.
  • Wait on Him.
  • Rest in Him.
  • Soak in His presence.
  • Praise Him.
  • Thank Him.
  • Seek Him more than ever.
  • Receive much more from Him.
  • Soak in His Word and goodness.
  • Allow Him to restore my soul.
  • Listen to His voice more than ever.
  • Be ready to hear His new vision for my ministry going forward.
  • Depend completely on Him, not myself, in ways I have never experienced before.
  • Pray more intently for each of you, my readers, than ever for God to radically transform your lives, your marriages, and your families for His glory by the power of His Spirit.

 

In the past 9 years of my journey, I have told God that I wanted to obey ANYTHING He instructed me to do. And that if He ever wanted me to give up anything, I wanted to obey. So I am laying down comments and any kind of ministry emails until 3-29-18. I will still be posting at times, as God leads. But the comments will be closed starting on Valentine’s Day. I just wanted to keep you in the loop! Can’t wait to see all that the Lord wants to do in that 6 weeks and to share with you all again soon.

Much love to each of you!

Comments are still open today and Tuesday. 🙂

<3

The Cure for My Compulsion to Control – Part 1

Photo by Ashton Mullins on Unsplash

Last week I shared about how we can develop a compulsion to control other people, situations, and the Lord in this post. I thought I “had to try to control” other people and situations. I truly believed it was my responsibility and that everything would be a disaster if I didn’t make sure it all worked out right.

When I try to be in charge of things that are out of my control, I am trying to carry a very heavy weight that I was not designed by God to carry. This leads to extreme stress, frustration, depression, discouragement, anxiety, and a feeling of being completely overwhelmed. It is not the path to peace.

THE CURE FOR MY COMPULSION TO CONTROL IS VERY SIMPLE

meinchargeI need to have proper thinking about God, events, other people, and myself. I need truth.

In my old way of looking at things – subconsciously – I saw myself as very big and God and other people as rather small and mostly within my sphere of control. I would never have articulated it like that – because it sounds audacious. But this is how I lived. You could see it in the fruit of my life.

I am not saying it is painless or necessarily “easy” to give up control – but it IS simple when I see the differences between:

  • God’s responsibilities
  • Other people’s responsibilities
  • My responsibilities

Here is reality:

Goddiagram

 

When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is mankind that you are mindful of them, human beings that you care for them? Ps. 8:3-4

When I understand who God is and the place of people in the universe, then I can begin to properly relate to God, people, and myself.

THE TRUTH

  • God alone is God, I am definitely not God. Not even close.
  • God sent Jesus, His Son, to be the only Savior people need. I am not a savior.
  • God’s Spirit is the only one who can open blind eyes and convict people of sin. Not me.
  • God sits on the throne in the highest heavens. Every knee will bow to Him alone.
  • God has put all authority under Jesus’ feet.
  • Angels bow down to God, even the demons believe and tremble.
  • God alone is worthy of worship. I am not.
  • God reigns over the universe. I do not.
  • God has all power and all wisdom. I do not.
  • God loves me, and all people, very dearly because He IS love.
  • I have value because God loves me and I am created in His image.
  • My purpose is to love and obey God and bring Him glory – and to love others with God’s love pouring through me.

I can influence God, people, and circumstances to a degree, for bad, or for good (if I allow God to work through me). But I can only control myself – my attitude, my motives, my sin, my responses to others, my words, and my actions. And even then, I can only control myself in a healthy way with the power of the Spirit.

Just to recap, my actual responsibilities are to:

  • Control myself with God’s power.
  • Love, obey, and worship God with all my heart, mind, soul, and strength – which brings glory to Him.
  • Love others with God’s love.

God3

 

I can be set free from my illusion of control. And that is definitely all it was – an illusion.

God’s truth truly does set me free! I can repent from my pride – my huge pride – thinking I was so big and important. And humbly receive God’s truth. What freedom!!!! I seek only to control the things that are truly mine and I trust God with circumstances and other people.

GOD’S SOVEREIGNTY AND WILL

Within God’s sovereignty is His permissive will and His perfect will. God’s permissive will is larger and accounts for people’s free will, their sin, the effects/consequences of sin, and Satan and his influence. But all of these things operate in the confines of God’s sovereignty and only what He allows can happen. And He uses all that does happen ultimately for His glory and for the ultimate good of those who love Him – to help conform us to the image of Christ.

He doesn’t make choices for us or violate our free-will. That is a good reminder for me that it is not my place to violate other people’s free-will either. God wants us, more than anything, to have the choice to voluntarily love Him or to reject Him. People need that choice in their relationships with me, too. The price of our free-will is very high. For us and for God. We experience earthly and eternal consequences of our choices. But we can never fall outside of His sovereignty and even Satan can never do anything without God’s permission. 

freewill3Godsperfectwill

This is how, in Christ, His yoke is easy and His burden is light. He does the heavy lifting. He takes responsibility for the big stuff.

THE FIRST STEP ON THE PATH TOWARD PEACE

I can step down off of the throne of my life and invite Jesus to reign as Lord over every part of my life.

This means total, humble, absolute surrender to Him, His will, and His control. I hold nothing back from Him.

This feels pretty terrifying at first because I have only really trusted myself before. But as I taste and see that God is good, I begin to realize He is much better at being deity than I ever could be and He is trustworthy. Infinitely more trustworthy than I am! He is the only one who is truly worthy of all of my faith, obedience, and submission. I also begin to realize that trusting Him is wise and safe and trusting myself is the most dangerous place to be.

NOTE – Don’t just take my word for anything. Dig into the Bible yourself. Find out what God’s Word has to say about these important issues and choose to build your life on Christ and the Solid Rock of His Word!

RELATED

How to Have a Relationship with Christ

The Spiritual Healing That Is Available to Each of Us in Christ – by Radiant

7 Keys to Finding Real Peace

Identifying the Lies We Have Embraced

The Pain That Pushes Us to Control

Surrendering the Burden of Controlling My Husband – by Shannon Popkin

 

RESOURCES ABOUT GOD, HIS CHARACTER, PEOPLE, AND FREE WILL

The Attributes of God – by www.gotquestions.org

“Who Is God?” – Secret Church series by David Platt

In the Image of God – by John Piper

A Beginner’s Guide to Free-Will – by John Piper

 

RELATING PROPERLY TO GOD

Humility – by Andrew Murray

Absolute Surrender – by Andrew Murray (free download or audio version)

 

The Pain That Pushes Us to Try to Control

Photo by Civalias Kune on Unsplash

In my experience with women who feel they have to be in control of situations and other people, there is usually some level of trauma or hurt in her past. The level of trauma can vary. But usually something happened that caused her, as a young girl, to develop the following kind of thinking:

  • The people who are supposed to be in charge are weak. (Maybe they are incapable, absent, traumatized, or addicts.)
    • My parents can’t even take proper care of themselves. I have to be the adult and take care of them.
      • I have to be the savior for my parents.
    • My parents can’t/won’t take care of the household. I have to take care of it.
    • They are not able or willing to take proper care of me. So I have to take care of myself or no one else will meet my legitimate needs.
      • I have to be the savior for myself.
    • I have to protect my  younger siblings or something awful will happen (maybe something awful did happen, and I felt I should have been able to prevent it but I failed).
      • Our parents have failed my siblings.
      • My brothers and sisters need me.
      • I am the only one who can help them.
      • I am responsible for their lives, safety, and wellbeing. I am the parent now.
      • I have to be the savior for my siblings.
  • I am responsible for other people.
    • I am responsible for my parents.
    • I am responsible for my siblings.
    • I am responsible for other people in the world.
  • I have to take some of God’s sovereignty on my shoulders because if I don’t, everything will fall apart.
    • People who are in positions of authority in my life have failed me.
    • They seem wimpy and weak.
    • Everything is up to me.
    • It is my duty and responsibility to be sure things go right.
    • It would be irresponsible of me not to take care of other people because I am the only one who can.
    • I can’t be irresponsible and cause other people to suffer like I suffered.
    • I can’t be irresponsible and cause myself to suffer again.
    • Yes, this weight of responsibility for everything and everyone is way too much, but if I set it down, it will result in catastrophe like I have experienced before.
    • Stress, worry, anxiety, and bitterness are just the price I have to pay for having to be in charge. There is no way around those things. This is what love is.
    • I can’t trust anyone else. They will fail me.
    • People in positions of authority represent God to me, and so I have to conclude that God must also be weak, incapable, or absent.
    • I can’t really trust God.
    • I can only trust myself.
    • I have the wisdom that people need. Only I can help everyone.
    • I have to be the savior for everyone.
  • I am not secure financially, emotionally, relationally, or physically. 

Some Things That May Have Been Triggers:

  • Someone got hurt and she took full responsibility and believes it was completely her fault (even if it really wasn’t). She can’t forgive herself. She feels compelled to prevent something like that from ever happening again. She feels overly responsible for other people because of this.
  • Perhaps her dad was very passive or absent and her mom was completely in charge and had a controlling personality and being a controlling woman/wife/mom just seems “normal.”
  • She may have been the oldest child and was given, or felt she had to take, extra responsibility for her siblings and felt she had to act like a parent more than a sibling.
  • Her pastor or parents may have taught, or she may have misunderstood, that people’s free will is huge and God’s sovereignty is very small.
  • She may have heard that she is responsible for making sure people go to heaven or it will be her fault they end up in hell.
  • She may have witnessed some horrific tragedy or accident at school or somewhere else and blamed herself for not being able to stop it or for not being able to save everyone.
  • She may have been taught that God does not exist and she can only depend on herself.
  • She may have personality traits tend to lean toward being a fixer, doer, and in charge.
  • Her sinful nature is happy to help promote control and pride.
  • She may have bought some of the messages of radical feminism, even if she didn’t study it, just by absorbing it from our culture.
    • Women should be in charge.
    • Men are evil.
    • Women are goddesses and are always good.
    • Men are idiots.
    • Women are very wise.
    • God either doesn’t exist or He is a woman.
    • You can’t depend on the God of the Bible.
    • The Bible has no authority over our lives as women.
    • The Bible is not true.
    • The church has no authority over our lives.
    • No God-given authority in scripture has any right to guide, lead, or direct women.
    • Everything rests on your shoulders as a woman to take care of yourself.

The bottom line is this:

  • She believes she must make sure everything turns out okay and that it is her responsibility to do so.
  • She has a small, wimpy, or non-existent picture of God and a picture of herself as big, strong, and powerful.
  • Self is on the throne of her life, not God.
  • She is ensnared by pride and unbelief.

She develops some skewed thinking about God, others, relationships, and herself. That skewed thinking becomes the foundation of her understanding for how to relate in marriage and family later.

When someone’s core beliefs about God, other people, relationships, and themselves get skewed (and all of us experience this to some degree) – the only way to heal is for that person to be willing to examine these core beliefs against real truth. We must learn to take our thoughts captive for Christ. That is a scary thing. A painful thing – at first. But it is a necessary pain that leads to healing. Kind of like the pain of having a wound full of gangrene debrided. It is necessary to get rid of the toxins and the lethal infection. As we tear out the faulty foundations in our thinking, we can invite God to help us build all of our fixed beliefs about important topics on His Word and truth alone.

“Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.” Matt. 7:24-27

 

We all tend to develop wrong thinking as children. Then we build our lives on those messed up beliefs. But when we build on anything other than the truth of God’s Word, we are building on sinking sand. Things begin to collapse the farther we go along in life because the foundation of our belief system is faulty.

It takes great courage to be willing to examine our fixed beliefs and to question them. And to allow the Lord to show us His infinitely higher way of thinking. We have to tear out the old foundation and rebuild a new foundation for our belief system on Jesus and His Word. It is hard. But it is worth it.

As we do this, we have the incredible blessing and gift from the Lord of finding spiritual, emotional, and relational healing in Christ.

Next week we will dig further into the cure for a compulsion to control.

SHARE:

If you struggle with control, is there a specific event or situation in your past that you can link to this struggle? You are welcome to share with us.

Much love!

RELATED:

Identifying the Lies We Have Embraced (My new book, The Peaceful Mom, will have a whole chapter on this issue with a chart of lies we tend to believe vs. the truth of God’s Word – the book releases March 27th, 2018).

Healthy VS Unhealthy Relationships

Fear Fuels Our Need to Control

The Spiritual Healing That Is Available to Each of Us in Christ – by Radiant

25 Ways to Be a Safe Place for Your Husband Emotionally

Taking Our Thoughts Captive for Christ – VIDEO

Facing Our Deepest Fears

Experiencing God’s Victory over Fear

But I’m Right! I’m the Better Leader. I Should Be in Charge.

Why Won’t My Husband Lead?

My Husband Is Not a Good Enough Spiritual Leader

Ways Husbands Lead That Wives Often Don’t Notice

Are You Brave Enough to Ask God for This?

Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

Due to hurricane Irma approaching soon, I am running the post I would have run on Monday, September 11th today instead. Join me in praying for those being impacted by Harvey, Irma, Katia, Jose, and the 8.1 earthquake in Mexico last night.  There are so many other significant crises around the world today that need our prayers, as well. This is a perfect time for us to join together as believers in prayer and fasting.

The “birth pangs” Jesus described that will lead up to the Great Tribulation sure seem like they are coming very quickly now. Let’s do all we can to be sure we are right with the Lord and right with other people. This is the time for the body of Christ to shine more brightly than ever before with the Gospel, with hope, with love, with tangible physical aid, and with the message of Good News for this dark world! It is a time to be united and to cast aside any divisions. Let’s be fully available to the Lord to do anything He may call upon us to do in this time. It’s a time to give up our personal agendas and plans and to be ready to plug in wherever God wants us to.

————-

Are you prepared to wholeheartedly say to God:

“Lord, I want ALL of Your perfect will for me and nothing outside of Your will no matter what it may be and no matter what it costs me”?

What is your initial response when you think about praying such a bold prayer? Are you excited and ready for a lifetime of incredible adventure with your Lord? Or does this idea make you freak out? Does it seem too radical? Too scary?

Our natural sinful tendency when we think about completely trusting God and His will for our lives is fear.

We tend to be afraid that maybe if we fully trust God, He might do something like:

  • Hold out on us.
  • Do something to hurt us.
  • Not really know what is best as much as we do.
  • Be too wimpy to really help us.
  • Lie to us.
  • Purposely want to cause us pain just to see us suffer for no reason.
  • Not care when we are hurting.
  • Ignore us.

Of course Satan would love for us to believe these lies about God. Interestingly, when we believe these lies about God, we are actually trusting Satan and we don’t even realize it. Not only are these lies not true about the God of the Bible, but each of these lies are really true about the devil. He wants us to be deceived into believing that God is bad and scary and that if we choose another path, any other path, it is good and safe.

But there is no goodness apart from the Lord. 

“Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights,” James 1:17

Let’s begin with the premise that the Bible is the source of all truth. According to the Bible, there are only two sources of spiritual information: God and Satan. So the question becomes – “Whom will I trust?” These are my only two real choices. If I don’t trust God and His Word, I am trusting Satan and his word, even if I think I am simply trusting myself.

We know many extremely important things about God and His character from scripture that make it entirely reasonable and rational to trust Him fully.

WHO IS GOD?

How could I not trust such a One? Is my character or my wisdom superior to His?

HOW DOES ALL OF THIS AFFECT ME?

Once we belong to Jesus Christ, God melts away our fear (1 John 4:18). Now we no longer have to fear losing our illusion of control. We never did have control anyway! God has always been sovereign. And now we rejoice because this is a very GOOD thing, not a scary thing!

If I really know who God is – THEN I can pray very boldly for God’s total will for my life without any fear. In fact, I know that to desire anything else would be dangerous and extremely foolish.

When I know who God is, I can trust Him – just like if I had a loving earthly Daddy. I knew I could always trust my Daddy to do what was best for me, even if I didn’t understand it at the moment. How much more will our perfect heavenly Father do what is best and give us what is best? Not in our wisdom but in His wisdom. Not what is best in the moment, but what is best in light of eternity. The more I taste and see how good He is, the easier and easier it is to trust Him with everything in my life. And the stronger my faith grows.

Even if I have to face significant trials, which I will, I know He will be with me and I know they will bring about great good for His kingdom and for me in the end.

Jesus said to them, “My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to accomplish his work.” John 4:34

Jesus is not asking us to do anything for Him that He hasn’t already done:

  • Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.” Matt. 16:24
  • “Nevertheless, not My will, but Yours, be done.” Luke 22:42

A CHALLENGE

I encourage you to sincerely pray a prayer in faith today to receive all of God’s will and to desire nothing apart from His will in your life. Get ready for an incredible life of adventure with God as you allow Him total access to all of yourself and all that you have.

This is what it means for Jesus to be Lord. This is what He calls all believers to do. This is Christianity.

There will be opposition for anyone who lives for Christ. So expect that. But if the sovereign God of the universe is for you, who can be against you?

If you are not ready to completely trust God with everything right now – pray that God will help you be able to get to this point ASAP. If you need resources or encouragement, please let me know.

I want each of us to know without any doubt that we are in right relationship with God and to have His power to be in right relationship with other people as much as it depends on us. None of us are guaranteed another day on this earth. Let’s be ready for whatever may come.

SHARE

  • If you have gotten to this place of total surrender to God’s will and want to share about how you arrived here, please share in the comments to encourage others.
  • If you are afraid to trust God fully like this and want people to pray for you and you need encouragement, please share in the comments, as well.

Much love to each of you! I am praying for you all!

RESOURCES ABOUT GOD’S CHARACTER

WHO IS SATAN?

Finding Contentment in Christ Alone in Painful Trials

Photo by Tim Foster on Unsplash

Three strong believers share about finding contentment in Christ alone even in very painful, difficult, lonely situations where worldly peace and contentment are completely impossible. I pray their words and stories might bless you and your walk with the Lord richly!

From Sister in Christ #1 

I had to hit rock bottom and surrender everything to the Lord before I found that peace and trust in Him. I had to get to the point where I truly realized that my husband and my marriage had been an idol – that I had been depending on my husband to meet my needs, instead of God. So truthfully, the main reason I was so afraid of losing my husband (in the beginning) was because he was the one that I had been looking to – to take care of me, provide for me, love me, and fill me. I knew the Lord, but I had not been fully relying on God for these things – and I didn’t even realize that until after my husband left!

It took my husband leaving me for me to come to the end of myself and surrender to the Lord. And it took many months (actually over a year) before I FULLY trusted God with my life, my husband, and marriage.

I can assure wives that if they will press into the Lord and give Him total control, that they will get to a place of complete trust and have a peace that passes our human understanding! I’m sure there may be other problems on our spouse’s end, too. But the Lord wants to work on our hearts individually. The change has to start with us! There may be a totally different timetable for what God does in a husband’s heart and in the marriage, but the only time table that we have any control over is what we allow God to do in our hearts right now, even through painful, lonely situations.

I remember people telling me things like that and I would just get angry because I didn’t want to hear that I had no control over anybody but myself.

Control issues are rooted in fear – what do we truly believe about God?

  • Are there false beliefs about God that needed to be uprooted?
  • Do we see Him as being totally sovereign, 100% trustworthy, and that He is exactly who the Bible says He is – and that He can do exactly what the Bible says He can do?

That was another thing that I discovered in this journey, that I had false beliefs about God – I didn’t truly believe He had only the best plans for my life. I had to ask the Father to break many strongholds, and to renew my mind by His word.

I had to start speaking out scripture, and hear myself declare it, until I truly believed it.

 

From Sister in Christ #2

You know what? It would be wonderful to have Christ-centered human companionship always, but so often in life, only the Lord stands with us. For example, in 2 Timothy 4

  • “. . .At my first defense, no one stood with me, but everyone deserted me. . . . But the Lord stood by me and strengthened me. . . . So I was delivered. . .

Ultimately, it is just us and the Lord who have to cross the “Jordan Rivers” of our lives.

God makes all His best people in loneliness. That is so demonstrable. You study the great souls in the Bible, those great souls – they walked alone — alone with God. Just like great eagles that soar, they fly alone.

That loneliness is hard to endure, and impossible to enjoy unless God is really within you. But that’s how you can tell He is really living in your heart. You will enjoy it!

God makes us His, alone. He takes us out to be alone to make us Holy. And Holiness is real Happiness. I believe it is because He knows how dangerous co-dependency is. Faith in Jesus combined with action is the only thing that will bring you contentment. I have to be alone very often because of my work and travel schedule. I was so worried when it all started, now, I can’t wait to get alone with the Lord. That’s how I fully refuel.

My goal is GOD HIMSELF. Not joy, not peace, not even blessing – but HIMSELF. . .my GOD.

I lived for the praise, acceptance, and expectations of those around me. Now, I have an audience of ONE. Also, He is now the only One who gets a vote on my worth and value. Jesus had an audience of ONE, His Father. Only God knows why He takes us along these paths. All we can do is keep seeking God in Christ and let Him direct us. He loves you, you have the greatest value. He gave His life for all your worth!

From a Brother in Christ

Two weeks before our 10th anniversary my spouse walked out of the family home with my two children after engaging in multiple acts of adultery with multiple different people. I am now divorced (not my decision), I have sold that family home, split our assets, moved to a different town and have walked a LONG way through the valley of pain since that day.

When a person whom you believed would meet your emotional needs and create fulfillment within you fails to meet those needs, it creates a deep hole within.

We begin to question so many things!! We feel upset, angry, and fearful. For me fear was the overriding emotion.

  • What will this do to me?
  • What will this do to my children?
  • How will I ever heal from this?

At the point of my anniversary I had NO idea what to do or how to heal. But I came to a place where I genuinely surrendered the situation and the outcome of my life to God.

I did NOT have peace or joy when I surrendered it to God, I still felt the pain and fear but I had made a conscious decision to trust God with the process. It was a time of great trial.

Fast forward to nearly 7 months later and I was still grappling with the separation and pain, but still surrendered to God’s will and plan. At this point I was focused on a Christian book that used Isaiah as a springboard to talk about the healing that we can find in Christ. It talked about the fact that Jesus used these prophetic words to illustrate that He was the one who would bind up our wounds, heal our hearts and set us free. And I wanted that far more than anything else!

God graciously opened my eyes and heart to see that in Christ I was loved and accepted without reservation! That the only one who had any right to reject me actually chose to give His life for me!!!

As I saw this, my heart was set free from needing approval or acceptance from my spouse and I knew SO much joy. I knew that if I never had my spouse again I would be more than ok.

And, I am more than ok.

Nearly 2.5 years after my spouse requested a divorce, I AM divorced and all that I feared DID happen, plus more. The trials were so severe that I could not have imagined them. But I am 100% ok and I am thriving in all aspects of life. I enjoy companionship and the love and presence of God in a tangible, incredible way that I did not think possible before I experienced it. I have experienced answers to prayer, fulfillment, and joy that I had no idea was possible. Truly the treasures of heaven are found in Christ.

God has met my needs emotionally, spiritually and physically in every way I needed.

Interestingly, my prayers for a reconciliation were not answered and I realise now that those prayers were made because I wanted to find my identity in my spouse. God could not allow that, my identity must be in Him. Now, I do not pray for a reconciliation, in fact I am reluctant to consider a reconciliation given the history between us. Now I pray for my ex-spouse’s salvation and for my ex-spouse to experience God’s love, as that is of primary importance.

When we try to find our identity in another person we find ourselves in bondage to that person.

When we receive validation, we feel ok. When we do not receive validation, we feel awful. But, when we receive all that God has for us in Christ we can feel ok whether we receive validation from our spouse or not! The words and actions that our spouse gives can be received as a gift when they are positive, recognised as coming from a wounded heart when they are not positive or used as a springboard for prayerful, personal evaluation if they are suggesting things about an area that we may need to grow in.

I pray that you will be able to see again, or maybe for the first time, just what you are worth to Christ. He gave ALL that He was to purchase you, to have you for His own, He ADORES you and wants to know you and love you in a way that you can not imagine. I pray that you are able to release your fear and hurt to God and enjoy this day with Him.

SHARE:

If you want to share a bit about your story and how you are learning to find contentment in Christ alone, you are welcome to share. If you are struggling in this area and want to talk about it, you are also welcome to share.

Much love!

RELATED:

If you are dealing with a very difficult marriage, please check out the healing that is available to you in Christ at Nina Roesner’s eCourse Becoming a Woman of Strength and Dignity. There are lessons to read and watch. And there is a private forum there for women to heal and encourage each other.

A Big Lightbulb about True Contentment

Roots of  Insecurity

Finding God’s Victory over Fear

My Security Is in Christ Alone

A Lightbulb Moment about Loneliness

FreeinChrist Fights with Heavenly Weapons

Last night, I got to do something that I will remember for the rest of my life as one of the most amazing experiences I have ever had. May it bless you, as well!

FreeinChrist is a friend of mine and has given me permission to share. For more of her story, check out this post.

FreeinChrist is so strong in her walk with the Lord now, that she knows God has good things in store for her life no matter if her husband returns or not. She faces the future with great joy – seeking only to live in the center of God’s will. At this point, it would be infinitely easier for her to continue on without her husband. But she is seeking to be available to work to restore the marriage if that opportunity arises so that she can honor her marriage covenant before the Lord – simply to please Him and keep her vow, if the Lord provides the way. It is her heart’s desire to see her marriage restored if it will honor God.

She is not desperate or despairing. She has emotions to deal with, of course, and pain to hash through at times, but she is completely filled up with God and such a powerhouse of faith. The Lord has provided abundantly every step of the way for every need – housing, jobs, medical care, spiritual needs, everything. She says, “My story for His glory.” Whatever will bring the Lord the most glory, that is what she desires with all her heart, whatever that may be. Most of all, she wants to see her husband find peace with God.  She wants him to experience the healing and abundant life that can be his in Jesus.

Today in just a few minutes is their court date to finalize the divorce that her husband has filed against her.

When the judge asks her if there is any hope for this marriage to be reconciled, she plans to answer, “Yes.”

Last night, she assembled a group of 6 other strong, godly women to pray with her who have been praying and, at times also fasting, with her for quite some time.

  1. First we sang a song of praise together in the parking lot – Resurrecting.  Her reasoning was that when King Jehosephat went out to battle, he sent the worshippers out to sing praises to the Lord before the army went into battle in 2 Chronicles 20. (I LOVE that story! It is a great one to read in your quiet time this week.)
  2. We walked around the county courthouse 7 times – just like Joshua did with Israel around Jericho – another amazing encounter with God’s power and victory for His people. Before each lap around the courthouse, we all read a passage of scripture together out loud in unison. Then we walked around the courthouse and prayed – some silently, some out loud. We received God’s work, His power, His truth, His promises, His Word, and His Spirit to work in this couple’s situation.
    1. Lap 1 – Divorce. We prayed for FreeinChrist and her husband and for all people coming to that county courthouse to get a divorce for healing for their marriages and glory for God.  “For I hate divorce!” says the LORD, the God of Israel. “To divorce your wife is to overwhelm her with cruelty,” says the LORD of Heaven’s Armies. “So guard your heart; do not be unfaithful to your wife.” Mal. 2:16 NLT
    2. Lap 2 – Marriage. We prayed for FreeinChrist and her husband and for all those coming to the courthouse to get a marriage license and for those in our county getting married – that they might honor and understand the significance of a marriage covenant in God’s eyes. “So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.” Matt. 19:6 NIV
    3. Lap 3 – New things. We prayed and thanked God for the new things He is doing in FreeinChrist and in her husband and prayed for new things for those coming to the court house and in our county – for a great awakening. “Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.” Isa. 43:19 NIV
    4. Lap 4 – A new heart. “And I will give you a new heart, and I will put a new spirit in you. I will take out your stony, stubborn heart, and give you a tender, responsive heart.” Eze. 36:26 NLT
    5. Lap 5 – New life. “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold the new has come.” 2 Cor. 5:17 ESV
    6. Lap 6 – God’s sovereignty. We thanked and praised God for His sovereignty in FreeinChrist’s life, in her husband’s life, and in their marriage. We thanked and praised Him for His sovereignty in this courthouse and in this county. “Remember the former things, those of long ago; I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me. I make known the end from the beginning, from ancient times, what is still to come. I say, ‘My purpose will stand, and I will do all that I please.'” Isa. 46:9-10 NIV
    7. Lap 7 – God’s sovereignty. “I know that You can do all things; no purpose of yours can be thwarted.” Job 42:2 NIV
  3. After the 7 laps –  we stopped and sang Holy, Holy, Holy together in the parking lot and thanked and praised God.
  4. We walked an 8th lap – a victory lap for new beginnings. And we prayed and received these scriptures:
    1. “‘The glory of this present house will be greater than the glory of the former house,’ says the LORD Almighty. ‘And in this place I will grant peace,’ declares the Lord Almighty.” Hag. 2:9 NIV
    2. Now all glory to God, who is able, through His mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think. Glory to Him in the church and in Christ Jesus through all generations forever and ever! Amen. Eph. 3:20-21
    3. I will restore to you the years that the locusts have eaten. Joel 2:25
  5. We sang Victory in Jesus together at the top of our lungs.

It was amazing to walk behind this precious sister in Christ and to pray with her and to see her faith. She had the biggest smile on her face all evening and was simply totally yielded to the Lord. Praising Him, thanking Him, worshipping Him, trusting Him. She doesn’t know what will happen today. None of us do. But she was radiant with His glory and beauty last night. And we are all confident that the Lord is going to move in this situation. We are excited to see how.

You know something? It hit me that if all of us approached trials in our lives in a manner like this – we would have a VERY different world!

Imagine if every marriage had this kind of prayer. If every lost person had believers praying for him/her like this. If every school, courthouse, city, state, and country had believers bathing them in prayer and faith like this.

FreeinChrist has no need to use earthly weapons or human wisdom and effort. She doesn’t have to try to force her way. She doesn’t have to cry, scream, yell, cuss, or make demands. She doesn’t have to argue or try to convince her husband of anything. She doesn’t even have to communicate with him. Her eyes are on the Lord. His will is going to be done. His glory will be made known through her story. He will do the fighting and all she has to do is to be still and receive the things He will do on her behalf.

Commit your way to the Lord;

trust in Him, and He will do this:

He will make your righteousness shine

like the dawn,

the justice of your cause like the noonday sun.

Be still before the Lord and

wait patiently for Him;

do not fret when men succeed in their ways,

when they carry out their wicked schemes.

Psalm 37:5-7

Please join with me in praying for the Lord’s victory, His greatest glory, and His Name to be exalted in FreeinChrist’s life even now as she is about to enter the courthouse within ten minutes of when I publish this post. And let’s also lift up our other brothers and sisters who have lost spouses and who are facing a spouse going ahead with a divorce. I can’t wait to see all that the Lord will do!

RELATED:

FreeinChrist Stands for Something Way Bigger Than Just Her Marriage

 

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