Month: June 2014

Attacked.

A lot of my fellow standers are being attacked this week. So am I. The darkness is pretty oppressive. In fact, many of us have taken to meeting together to pray nightly. The enemy does not like this and we have all become a bit depressed, if you will. Here’s a quick scripture prayer that I worked up with some inspiration from my friend Ben.

Awesome God, I pray that the eyes of our hearts may be enlightened in order that we may know the hope to which You have called us, the riches of Your glorious inheritance (Ephesians 1:18 NIV) God, show me what the enemy does not want me to see!

I know that our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. (Ephesians 6:12)

You have told us that we, Your church, will not be overcome by the gates of hell and that whatever we bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever we loose on earth will be loosed in heaven (Matt 16:18-19) so we bind the spirit of heaviness and despair from all of the brothers and sisters standing for our marriages today.

I ask all these things in the name of Jesus and by the power His blood,

Amen

Ignatius for Standers.

Ignatius of Loyola was a Spanish knight from a local Basque noble family, hermit, priest, and theologian, who founded the Society of Jesus (Jesuits). He was a bit of a reformer but he worked from within the established Catholic Church, rather than splitting off. That’s the best I’ve got, as an Evangelical who knows nothing of the Catholic tradition. Correct me if I’m wrong.

Why am I talking about this dude? Well I’m giving his spiritual exercises a try in an attempt to draw closer to God and to be less focused on self and circumstances. How many times have we heard Charlyne Steinkamp yell, “Stop looking at your circumstances!”? Well it turns out that is really difficult to do.

The Spiritual Exercises are a compilation of meditations, prayers, and contemplative practices developed by St. Ignatius Loyola to help people deepen their relationship with God. For centuries the Exercises were most commonly given as a “long retreat” of about 30 days in solitude and silence (Ignatian Spirituality).

I am currently doing An Ignatian Prayer Adventure, an adapted version of the Spiritual Exercises, found at Ignatian Spirituality, rather than purchasing a book. The actual written content of each exercise is rather brief. The meat comes in my reflection, my meditation of the scripture, and the prayers I journal as I go. I am three days into this adventure and I have found these exercises to be ideally suited to the life of a stander. If you are standing, and you’re struggling to connect with God, as I am. If you feel like you need to add some depth to your devotional experience, I invite you to give these exercises a try with me.

You’ll need:

  • a Bible or two (I’m using an NIV, a Message, and my Bible app).
  • a Journal (any notebook will do)
  • Some good pens.
  • A quiet, “sacred space” to work in.

I like to have a cup of coffee as well, but that is not entirely necessary. There are some great tips on getting ready to do this “retreat” here. Oddly, each day I have found that the exercise has deepened and expanded my understanding of the theme and passages in Charlyne Cares. If you’re already doing that devotional, as I am, I think that you will find that it fits nicely into this time of prayer and reflection.

I’m sure that this work will inform the next few posts you find here. Meanwhile, I leave you with one of the passages I have been chewing on and praying through for the last three days.

But now, this is what the Lord says—
he who created you, Jacob,
he who formed you, Israel:
“Do not fear, for I have redeemed you;
I have summoned you by name; you are mine.
2 When you pass through the waters,
I will be with you;
and when you pass through the rivers,
they will not sweep over you.
When you walk through the fire,
you will not be burned;
the flames will not set you ablaze.
3 For I am the Lord your God,
the Holy One of Israel, your Savior;
I give Egypt for your ransom,
Cush[a] and Seba in your stead.
4 Since you are precious and honored in my sight,
and because I love you,
I will give people in exchange for you,
nations in exchange for your life.
5 Do not be afraid, for I am with you;
I will bring your children from the east
and gather you from the west.
6 I will say to the north, ‘Give them up!’
and to the south, ‘Do not hold them back.’
Bring my sons from afar
and my daughters from the ends of the earth—
7 everyone who is called by my name,
whom I created for my glory,
whom I formed and made.” (Isaiah 43:1-7)

That, my fellow standers, is how God feels about us and our spouse despite what we may be seeing on the ground.

Identity Crisis

firststandingpostI don’t know what to do.

I don’t know where to go.

I don’t know what to say.

I don’t know how to act.

Honestly, I don’t know who to be.

 

I’m with her.

I’m with them.

I’m a husband.

I’m a father.

That’s all I want to be.

 

I don’t want to be a mover.

I have no desire to shake.

I don’t want to be a politician.

I don’t need to travel.

I was happy.

 

Now I don’t know what to be.

I’ve been ripped up…

…and a little ripped off.

I feel like running

or perhaps throwing up.

 

Who am I.

Child of the King always seems so abstract…

More so when discarded by your own.

What am I even doing here?

God, help me.

 

10

Ten years ago today

you, the God of the universe,

of all that is was and will be,

witnessed and blessed our covenant together.

 

You were there through all of our brokenness,

our dysfunction, our happiness, our striving.

You alone know us, our hearts, our souls.

You alone know how to restore order from this chaos.

 

I don’t know what to ask.

A miracle would be swell.

A sign would be nice as well.

I could use an anniversary gift.

 

God, I need You.

God, I need You.

No, I don’t need You to fix it tonight.

Though that would be ideal.

I don’t need wisdom right now.

Well, I always need that…

 

God, I need You.

Not the idea of You…

Not Your perfect Word…

Not a sign, though that would be nice…

I need You!

 

Like that whole relationship thing

that we Christians are always saying makes us different…

I need to be comforted.

I need to be held.

I hurt more than I’ve ever hurt my whole life.

 

I know You’ve hurt more.

I get that.

So let me feel Your presence.

Comfort those who mourn.

I mourn. I could use some comfort.

Sharing from 1 John, Acts, & Job

I don’t have much to say today… God does.

Hear Gods word:

I am sending you to them 18 to open their eyes and turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, so that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me.’ (Acts 26:17b-18)

14 This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. 15 And if we know that he hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of him. 16 If you see any brother or sister commit a sin that does not lead to death, you should pray and God will give them life. (1 John 5:14-16a)

14 For God does speak—now one way, now another—
    though no one perceives it.
15 In a dream, in a vision of the night,
    when deep sleep falls on people
    as they slumber in their beds,
16 he may speak in their ears
    and terrify them with warnings,
17 to turn them from wrongdoing
    and keep them from pride,
18 to preserve them from the pit,
    their lives from perishing by the sword.

19 “Or someone may be chastened on a bed of pain
    with constant distress in their bones,
20 so that their body finds food repulsive
    and their soul loathes the choicest meal.
21 Their flesh wastes away to nothing,
    and their bones, once hidden, now stick out.
22 They draw near to the pit,
    and their life to the messengers of death.
23 Yet if there is an angel at their side,
    a messenger, one out of a thousand,
    sent to tell them how to be upright,
24 and he is gracious to that person and says to God,
    ‘Spare them from going down to the pit;
    I have found a ransom for them—
25 let their flesh be renewed like a child’s;
    let them be restored as in the days of their youth’—
26 then that person can pray to God and find favor with him,
    they will see God’s face and shout for joy;
    he will restore them to full well-being. (Job 33:14-26)

Amen.

Despair, Despise, and Die

Okay, kids. This one is a bit raw. I’m just going to put it out there. I’m hurting. I’m struggling. Maybe some of you are too. Hopefully this ministers to you in some way. Either way, I need to get it out.

Despair

darknessOkay, so I’m now two months and nine days into my stand. That isn’t that much time considering the years some people have stood. I’m praying in the morning. I’m praying on my commute. I’m praying all day long. I’m reading the Word. I’m listening to sermons. I’m praying in my back yard, screaming out to God. I’m kneeling, bowing, walking, standing, sitting, and prostrate in prayer. I am gathering with others in prayer. I am praying scripture over my prodigal spouse constantly. I am falling asleep listening to the Word. The enemy keeps turning up the heat, and I keep waiting for a breakthrough. Meanwhile, the “bad reports” role in and the circumstances pile up. Where are you God? What are you doing on my behalf? You say that, “No one who hopes in you will ever be put to shame, but shame will come on those who are treacherous without cause” (Psalm 25:3), and yet I am being put to shame daily!

Despise

So I’ve been on a Steven Furtick kick, and I’ve been listening to sermons from Elevation Church. Most recently, I listened to two sermons that really got to me, Crash the Chatterbox pt. 3 and That Thing. In Crash the Chatterbox pt. 3, Furtick poses the the “what if” question. What if my worst fears come true? Won’t God still love me and be there for me anyway? Well, two months ago, my greatest fear came true, and my new worst fear is that she’ll never come back. I fear that I’ll grow old in loneliness, holding to God’s promise and law.

What if? Won’t God still love me and be there for me anyway?

The answer from my heart is, “I don’t care!”, and that, kids, is the PG version. I still don’t care. In That Thing, Furtick talks about how we’re pleading with Him to fix that thing that’s broken or hurting in our lives, but that God wants to fix our underlying thing first. What’s my underlying thing? I still want her more than I want Him. What’s more, I know that that is what He wants to change! I know that he is a jealous God. I spent all weekend crying out to God to change my heart. Instead of wanting Him more, though, I find myself despising God. I am angry with Him for withholding his blessing while I try to make a change that I feel totally unequipped to make, a change that may take years, a change that I want to get done now so I can have my wife back. I’m trying to yield to Him. I’m trying to hear His voice. I’m trying to change my heart. Meanwhile, Satan is screaming in my head that God is being unfair and unloving, that He can fix my situation but isn’t fixing it to prove a point, and that I’ll never live up to His expectations of me. Oh, God, help me!!! My head knows that God loves me no matter what. My head knows that if God is trying to get me to grow, that for my own good. My head knows that God is working on the other side of this mountain of circumstances, preparing to cast it into the sea. My head knows that his timing is perfect. My heart is really really really ticked off and hurt and becoming bitter… and that, again, is the PG version. Oh, God, help me!!!   

Die

How do I die to this? How do I truly die to self? How do I give this up? Honestly, I finally understand, “to die is gain” (Philippians 1:21). I get it. I’d much rather be with God than be here, going through this, but I still don’t get the “to live is Christ” part. I want to get that part. I want to be consumed by Christ. I want this pain to stop. I want to stop fearing every text message and email that the enemy is sending me through my wife. I want to stop fearing bad reports from my kids, my friends, and my attorney. I want to trust God. I want to thirst for God. I want to stop worrying about all of this crap and “seek first His kingdom and His righteousness” (Matthew 6:25-34). How do I get my heart to follow??? How do I stop thinking more about what is absent than about what is present (all meanings of present intended)? Help me! God, in Jesus name, help! I have never felt so lost and in pain in all of my life. I have never felt so abandoned and rejected and betrayed in all of my life. I have never felt so alone and dark and miserable. I’m struggling to walk in victory. I’m struggling to get out of bed. I’m struggling.

I would say that I need God to show up, but I know that he never left. He’s right here with me, but I can’t feel Him. I can’t see Him. I can’t hear Him. I just want to be reassured. I just want to be comforted. I just want to be held…

7 Hear me as I pray, O Lord.
Be merciful and answer me!
8 My heart has heard you say, “Come and talk with me.”
And my heart responds, “Lord, I am coming.” (Psalm 27:7-8 New Living Translation NLT)

“Come and talk with me.” God wants me to come and talk with Him. He doesn’t want me to scream and beg at Him all of the time, I’m sure. He wants me to come and talk with Him. I feel like I spend most of my time telling Him how nice it would be if he could rearrange the schedule so I could be talking with her instead of Him. I’m sure He loves that. Yet, I am angry with Him. Meanwhile, He loves me through it all. I feel like I’m losing my mind. Do any of you ever feel like this?? Seriously! Someone comment below and give me an Amen or something! Maybe I won’t feel so crazy and alone.

Change my heart… no, really.

Idolatry, patience, and idolatry… did i mention idolatry?

God’s timing is perfect. How many times do we standers hear that? We hear that almost as much as we hear that God wants to be first in our heart. It is true. God is a jealous god (Exodus 34:14).

So, how do I make God first? I nearly worshiped my wife when she was at home, and now that I’m standing and praying for her constantly it’s even worse. So here I am,

  • Reading the Word
  • Praying
  • Listening to the Word
  • Listening to Rejoice ministries podcasts
  • Fasting from all other media…

…every day. I feel like I’m in constant prayer. Still, so many of my prayers end up being about her.

Flipping out and feeling better…

So, today, I got in my car after work and started crying out to God… no, I was really crying out. I nearly went hoarse:

God, I want you to be first! I want you to be sufficient for me. I want to love you so much that I don’t need her! I want to desire you! I want to hunger for your word and meditate on your will! I want to be 110% sold out for you! I’m tired of feeling like my world is in gray-scale because she’s gone. I don’t know how to make my heart turn fully to you God. Help me! Help me! Change my heart! I want to be wholly yours! I don’t know how. Take this sickness from me!!! Help me want you more than I want her back!

So, yeah, I kind of flipped out like that for twenty or so minutes with a lot of tears and snot and stuff. Then I started to feel better. I still got a huge burden tonight to pray for my wife. I prayed some scriptures for her, then I played with my kids, fed them dinner, and I’m still feeling better. There was a moment when my almost-three-year-old daughter asked me to come up and rock her. She said she wanted to pray for mommy and that she missed her. I was a crying snotty mess again, but now that’s gone.

Maybe I’ll have to flip out like that once a day until my heart really falls in line. Either way, I want to put God first. I want to continue standing in the gap for my prodigal spouse. Squaring that circle moving forward shall be interesting…

Be my refuge…

8076301689_dcbaefd6d8_b

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I need a refuge. We all do. We just don’t realize it until things get this bad. I am sick. I am worn down. I am tired. I hurt deeply, but I refuse to give up. So, I keep asking Him to be my refuge. My devotions, the sermons I’m listening to, and even my friends are reminding me that He is my refuge. I even signed up for this “Spirit of Prophecy Bulletin” thing a friend told me to try. I had forgotten all about it, but I got this email yesterday:

Be good; be strong; be faithful. For, by the power of My spirit I have entered in to you and caused spiritual life to become active. Acknowledge the fact that I am doing My work in you. And, the very good work that I have begun in you I will complete. All you have to do is believe, line up and walk with Me in the way that I will lead you. I will empower you by My spirit to do the things that I have asked of you. Will I not bless you according to My word? For, you are My chosen ones, you are My children in whom I am blessed. Connect yourself to Me. Acknowledge Me this day. I am going to go with you from this place into that which is before you. Oh yes, even into those things that you do not know about yet. For, I have promised you that the day of surprises are about to come forth. And, you will be surprised! Your surprise will be filled with enjoyment, laughter and peace. So, come forth now and walk with Me, says the Lord.

You can make great strides spiritually if you will set your mind on spiritual things instead of on worldly things. This is a matter of discipline, but you can do it, says the Lord.
2 Corinthians 10:4-5 For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ.

Then, in my son’s devotional, and on the way to school this morning listening to a podcast, this verse came up:

 I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me (Phil 4:13).

Honestly, I don’t really have any point whatsoever. I have no wisdom. I have nothing profound to say. Here’s all I know. God is working and He is blessing me. I have received so many small surprise blessings over the last three weeks that I am in awe of his providence and goodness. God is blessing me with everything from free parts for my broken lawn mower to anonymous cash in my mail. He is most often blessing me through all of my friends and prayer warriors, their prayers, their visits, and their support.

I am in the midst of a battle. I can see that there is serious warfare going on. Last night, while making a great gesture of “I’m never coming back”, it was clear to me that my wife was struggling to maintain her composure. The devil is fighting hard to keep hold of her but God is greater! The more combative she is, and the more she tries to distance herself from me, the more I know that God is working on the other side of this mountain that will soon be cast into the sea.

I am still sick over the coming of summer. I am still fearful and doubtful of His goodness and providence. HOW CAN THAT BE? Am I blind or deaf? Even my in-laws are supportive of me. How can I not rest in His mighty provision and see the future with absolute hope and anticipation? As I said earlier, I am in the midst of a battle. I can see that there is serious warfare going on. There is a spirit of heaviness and oppression and doubt upon me and I need to respond with His Word.

 I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me (Phil 4:13).

The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. (2 Corinthians 10:4)

I know that if I make Him my dwelling, my refuge, that no harm will befall me, no disaster will come near to my tent. For He will command His angels concerning me to guard me in all my ways (Psalm 91:9-11). I need to internalize these truths! I need to know that:

1 God is our refuge and strength,
an ever-present help in trouble.
2 Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way
and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea,
3 though its waters roar and foam
and the mountains quake with their surging.[c]

4 There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,
the holy place where the Most High dwells.
5 God is within her, she will not fall;
God will help her at break of day.
6 Nations are in uproar, kingdoms fall;
he lifts his voice, the earth melts.

7 The Lord Almighty is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress.

8 Come and see what the Lord has done,
the desolations he has brought on the earth.
9 He makes wars cease
to the ends of the earth.
He breaks the bow and shatters the spear;
he burns the shields[d] with fire.
10 He says, “Be still, and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth.”

11 The Lord Almighty is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress.

Psalm 46 For the director of music. Of the Sons of Korah. According to alamoth. A song.

That’s all I’ve got.

Praying the Armor of God

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Some rights reserved by mikecogh

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard in the last two months of reading devotionals and listening to Bible Studies and sermons, that I need to pray the armor of God upon myself and my family. I’ll be honest. This has been a struggle. It’s like I have a block in my mind (probably some spiritual warfare there). My first attempt at this is here, where I basically personalized the scripture. This is serious stuff. I’m in a battle, and the enemy is unrelenting.

For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. (Ephesians 6:12-13)

The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. (2 Corinthians 10:4)

Today, I decided to fire up Google and do some research. Here are some helpful sites I found:

There are a lot more, but I decided to copy these into my notebook and get to work. I spent some time personalizing them, and I ended up working on The Armor Of God Prayer from the Christian Fencers Association to create a prayer that covered my whole family. Here’s a version with named removed for the protection of the innocent:

Praying the Armor on my family.

Lord, today I pray the Full Armor of God upon my and my family.

Help us to put the Helmet of Salvation on our heads that we might always remember we are saved, and who we belong to. Remind my prodigal spouse today that she is yours. Remind me of the same. Make yourself real to my children today. Guard our minds in Christ Jesus, and that we may have the mind of Christ and that we may think the thoughts of Christ and reject all others.

Help us to put the Breastplate of Righteousness on so that we may walk about in Righteousness and others may see your Righteousness in us. Guard our hearts in Christ Jesus, and that we may have the desires of Christ and reject all others. Renew my spouse’s heart, God. Give her a heart that is soft and can hear you. Guide our children’s hearts in this time of confusion. Comfort and strengthen them.

Help us keep the Belt of Truth securely buckled on our waists. Help me to speak truth and discern truth. Shine your light of truth on my wife so that she may see darkness from light and choose light. May I always be secure in the knowledge of the Truth and always speak the Truth. Give my son, my daughter, my wife and I all a heavy burden for the truth. Speak loudly to our conscience!

Help us to fit our Feet with the Readiness that comes from the Gospel of Peace, that we may stand firm in the Gospel, and spread the Gospel of Peace wherever we go. Fill our home with your peace that passes all understanding. Allow me to radiate that peace. Show my wife how to find that peace. Reveal the path and the way to her!

Help us to hold the Shield of Faith with which to extinguish the flaming arrows of the evil one. Strengthen my arms and help me hold it high, that I may use it to protect myself, my family, my household and those under my care. Lord, help me use the Shield of Faith to press ahead and push forward for the kingdom of God. I intercede for my wife that my shield may cover her and protect her from the fiery darts that are ripping our family apart and leading her into the trap of the Devil who has taken her captive to do his will. Shield my precious children from the many darts they are being exposed to in this battle that is beyond their control.

And Lord, help me take up the Sword of The Spirit which is the Word of God, and use it every day! Help me to use it to protect myself and my family from the evil one through the power and authority of Your Word. Help me to use Your Words to deny the attacks on my mind, to intercede for my wife, and to guide my path. I pray that your sword will be wielded often in the presence of my prodigal spouse and her inner circle to strike the hearts and minds of those who do not know You, calling them towards repentance and salvation; to cause those who know you but are backslidden to repentance, obedience and service; and to help awaken those who know you, but are asleep so they may obey and serve you! Please help us to use your Word to bring, encouragement, strength and wisdom to those around us.

Help us serve you this and every day. Please use us and restore us to Your purpose, Lord. Cover us in your blood and give us all a phalanx of fellow believers to pray for us and have our backs in this fight. These things I ask in the Name of Jesus Christ,

Amen

Hopefully this prayer will help you in your stand. I know that I need to pray this like six or so times today. I will likely expand this further, using the information from Prayer for Putting on the Whole Armor of God and with some more of the scriptures that I’ve received from RMM. My problem is that eventually my written prayers get too long and complex. I hope that the above prayer is one I can use daily without fighting to stay on task.