family

There your heart will be also (Moving)

As I load the van a second time today,

I realize that moving, for one like me,

Is just transporting the debris of my broken life

from one place to another and then hiding

it from myself.

 

This load goes to the landfill.SOLID WASTE AUTHORITY-2

My daughter’s crib can go.

Why did I keep that?

A box of carefully packed framed photos

of the wedding.

 

I will see the goodness of the Lord

in the land of the living…

Some kids toys that didn’t fit in this house

ended up becoming squirrel habitat

in the shed.

 

Oh, God, why didn’t you kill me

three years ago when I was blissfully ignorant??

I know I shouldn’t treasure anything

in this life, but my family

was a treasure.

 

I don’t want to do this anymore.

I don’t want to be alone.

I’m sick of helping people.

I’m sick of my fake surreal life.

I want out.

 

Where is my breakthrough?

I’m trying to come to terms

with your bringing everything to term.

I don’t know what’s going on in this womb of despair.

I just want out.

 

God, I hate my life. I hate it.

I know you’re in this, somewhere.

I know you have a plan,

or I wouldn’t still be here.

Any hints?

 

I take another walk down the roadIMG_4689

that crosses behind my house.

I look out across the fields through tears

at farms of people I don’t know.

I cry and snot…

 

I’m shouting at You in the middle of the road,

out across the fields.

If anyone is around I’m sure they think I’m crazy.

Maybe I am.

Maybe…

 

Three tissues weren’t enough for this walk.

I’d better return to the house.

It’s not home. I’m homeless now.

Any house without a helpmate

is not home.

 

Daddy, I know you’re a jealous cuss.

I know you don’t want me to want this

near as strongly as I do.

But you can’t hold me at night or fall asleep

drooling on my chest.

 

I’m tired. I hate this. I hate me.

Everything is so gray and tasteless.

I can’t even sleep anymore.

Won’t you at least let me sleep??

Help me!

 

God, I hate moving…

 

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Is it “not good”???

If you’re reading this for the usual dose of encouragement and insight, STOP. Hit the back button and leave. I am not having a good Spring. April and May have been hard on me. This is a post of emotional vomit, lamentation, and hard hard questions, many of which aren’t even rational in light of my previous posts. This is a post of pure simple irrational pain. If you’re feeling strong, self-confident, and ready to speak into my pain, read on…

20 “Why is light given to those in misery,
and life to the bitter of soul,
21 to those who long for death that does not come,
who search for it more than for hidden treasure,
22 who are filled with gladness
and rejoice when they reach the grave?
23 Why is life given to a man
whose way is hidden,
whom God has hedged in?
24 For sighing has become my daily food;
my groans pour out like water.
25 What I feared has come upon me;
what I dreaded has happened to me.
26 I have no peace, no quietness;
I have no rest, but only turmoil.”

Job 3:20-26

So, as this stand of mine goes on day after day with no end or resolution in sight. The wise, sagely Christ followers in my life are reassuring me that I am growing so much in my walk of faith. I am told that God is “wooing” me right now and that I need to “abide in His love”. I have to be honest, though. Despite frequent miracles, unmistakable signs, and divine appointments out the wazoo, I am still really really struggling… I get the whole, “I am loved by the God of the Universe” thing, but I really don’t. I’m still working on getting His love from my head to my heart. It’s the spirit of rejection blinding me. I know it is, but I still struggle.

You see, I read the book “The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love that Lasts“, with my wife, several years ago. It was obvious right away that my love language is physical touch.  A friend recently pointed out that it is “a little difficult to get a hug from your heavenly father.” No crap! I keep asking Him for a hug… I tell Him I need to feel love with skin on… If it weren’t for my kids and their constant affection, I believe I would have withered long ago. Standing is so hard for touch people. You can get just about every other love language from your friends, but a short awkward hug from “a bro” just isn’t the same. I want to be held and cry my guts out! I am so sick of not being held! I think this is why I am struggling so much right now… I just have all of this bottled up hurt and no satisfactory way to release it. Due to our screwed up legal system, custody rules and expectations, I am not even allowed to cry in the presence of my children, let alone cry when I am holding them.

I told God that I need restoration soon or some supernatural dispensation of Holy Spirit power, or I am going to crack and go find someone to hold me. I know that is not good stander etiquette, but there it is. No time table (Don’t put God on a time table… Satan will use that against you… ~says everyone from the stander community)… Just a cry for help. My flesh can’t do this anymore. Restore me, kill me, or change my freaking love language! You designed me this way, God. You know how much this hurts! What the heck??

Somehow I’ve made it a whole year without needing to cuddle a pillow to go to sleep… So He has provided some supernatural grace there somewhere. Still I wish I could feel really loved by God in the absence of a person through which I feel that love and favor. I keep asking Him for that. Every day, I ask for that. I think that emotionally I still feel like my rejection by my wife is a rejection by God because I only ever felt loved and favored by Him through the “blessing” of her… Which is of course a slippery slope to idolatry… or is it? God did design us male and female and created us to live in this community.

So, I have some questions… some hard questions for God and for the standing community as a whole.

  1. Genesis 2:18 says, “It is not good that man should be alone…” It certainly isn’t. How long am I supposed to suffer for my spouse’s sin? How long am I to do life without a help-mate while she enjoys all the privileges and support of having a non-covenant partner, the support of society, the support of friends, and the support of family?
  2. Where is the body of Christ on the weekend when my whole family is with the other man, and I have no one? “I’ll call you brother.” “We’ll get together and do something.” Father, You know how many people said that last week… The weekend rolled around, and I, alone, ended up turning to an online game for community…
  3.  How long am I supposed to believe for restoration, and when am I supposed just start believing that God will graciously keep me alive until I die, this life will suck and be increasingly more painful every day, and then I get to go to be with Him and live happily ever after?
  4. If God hardens and softens hearts throughout the scriptures, according to His plans and whims, then why when our hearts and our prodigal’s hearts harden is it, “just free will”? Where is the the scripture that says, “God touched hearts throughout these scriptures, but from this point forward, you’re all on your own. Good luck. Enjoy your free will.”?

I know that this is not a positive or uplifting message. I know that this is bordering on blasphemy. I am not trying to make anyone stumble. I’m just crying out for encouragement. I’m looking for someone to speak into my pain and confusion and help me transcend my flesh because it is crying so much more loudly than my spirit right now. This year of starving my flesh and feeding the spirit should have made this easier, but apparently it hasn’t. I feel like Frodo, buckling under the weight of this ring, and my friends have their lives to live. I am making the long and lonely journey with only the Holy Spirit as my companion, and He has been a piss poor companion lately, giving me the silent treatment, letting in all manner of attacks from my prodigal, and basically leaving me to my own devices.

So, help me, my community… my brothers and sisters… give some words of encouragement. Pray for me. Tell me that everything I have said is so wrong and mislead and that I am missing something huge and obvious and clear. Pray that God would grab me by the collar and shake me around and wake me up because the eyes and ears of my heart are flooded in darkness and despair.

God, Father, Daddy, please help me!!!!!

Expectations, Walmart, and The God of the Universe

I arrived home this evening from work, and I was immediately struggling. I was struggling with depression, anxiety, and obedience. I did not want to be struggling, and I did not want to give in. So, presently, I decided to “move”. I have found that if I stay in one place when struggling, I’ll continue to struggle until I fail in some profound way, sometimes even lashing out at God. I called a friend, and he invited me to a bar to play pool. I turned him down. I’m convinced that a bar, even with Christian friends is no place for a stander.

Some rights reserved by Paul L Dineen

Some rights reserved by Paul L Dineen

I decided to do one of my least favorite activities and go to Walmart. It has been a year since my wife left me to live with her non-covenant partner. So, when I have my kids on Resurrection Sunday, I will not be invited to the in-laws, two minutes down the road, because they have chosen to stand against my stand and side with the adulterous relationship. The result, is that we will not have Easter with Nana and Popop, as usual… Instead, a loving and generous colleague from my place of work and her husband has invited us for dinner. She even sewed pillows for our kids and is making them Easter baskets. Incidentally, I am responsible for crackers and cheese as well as stuffing some eggs. Ergo, off to Walmart.

I hate Walmart… I have nothing against the store itself these days. I hate being in Walmart, seeing couples and families shopping, knowing I am coming home to an empty house. I hate the fact that I used to complain about going to Walmart with my wife. I would like to go back in time and punch myself in the face for that. So, here I am, in Walmart, and I’m struggling still. I’m not getting along with the Holy Spirit particularly well. It has been a year. I have stood. I have prayed. I have fasted from food, media, secular music, and numerous other things. I’ve given up playing video games in obedience. I have prayed and prayed and prayed. Countless friends have prayed and had their friends pray and had their churches pray, and my wife still cannot see beyond that demonic squid on her face. I still love my wife. I still want our family healed. I want to be restored because I don’t want to see her live in sin and rebellion, but honestly, I am not feeling a lot of warm fuzzies for her right now. In fact, I was struggling a few moments in Walmart with the thought of taking my ring off. I never struggle with that. Tonight, I did. I just wanted someone to look at me like I am interesting or worthy of affection. I know that is ridiculous, but there it is.

Standing in the shoe section, picking out some shoes for my daughter, I said under my breath, “No! I am standing! Father, forgive me. Father help me get through this.” That was my expectation. I wanted to survive my trip to the store. Lately, when entering any store, I ask God to put me in “the right place at the right time” and to use me. I did no such thing tonight. I simply wanted to survive until I could become unconscious at home.

Well, God got me through. I finished my shopping. I got in line, and I did not begin to freak out like I normally do in line. There’s a stillness, waiting in line at Walmart. No one is talking to you. You can try to fidget with your phone or look around, but the fact is you are stuck there, with nothing to occupy your mind, facing whatever reality you have found yourself in. I hate going to Walmart, but I despise standing in line there thinking about the life I am living presently… So I pray… Practicing the presence keeps the demons away. I had chosen a line with a tall kid in his early twenties. He looked unhappy. I thought, that’s my line. I don’t know why I thought this… It just was there. When it was my turn, I broke protocol by preempting the his hello with, “how are you?” I don’t know why I said this. I didn’t particularly care how he was at the moment.

He said, “well, I am alive and breathing, so I suppose that that beats the alternative..”

I, being so self-absorbed in my pity party, cleverly responded with, “Well, that is debatable. I often think I would quite prefer the alternative.”

“Well”, he said, “I’m not so sure. I’d like to think there might be something on the other side, but I really have no idea.”

At this point, I am screaming at God, on the inside. Father, I’m not ready for this!! I didn’t ask to be used tonight! How on earth did I fall into a conversation about this cashier’s eternal life??? What are you doing, God? I feel like a bumbling idiot here! On the outside, I am fumbling desperately with a response. While sliding my card in the kiosk, I pick the conversation back up with, “well I know that there is something in store for me that beats the heck out of my current circumstances.”

“Well”, he said, “That sounds promising, but if there isn’t, though, I’m okay with that. That will be 64 dollars and 98 cents.”

So, I left. I apologized to God profusely for doing such an insanely poor job of representing Him. I asked the Holy Spirit to intervene and work on that man despite my poor performance. I put my groceries in the trunk of my car and went around to the front seat. There, on top of my prayer journal were two tickets to the local Assembly of God Church’s Easter service. This was one of those moments when there was no point in arguing. Sometimes the Spirit speaks to your heart. Sometimes, though, it just gives your heart that look… that look that says, you know what to do, and if you make me spell it out I’m gonna slap you. So back in, I went, tickets in hand. He was very busy with other customers, but he turned my direction as I walked up. I said nothing profound or clever. I simply handed him the tickets and said, “These, sir, are for you.” I turned and walked out. I am no evangelist, but I am trusting that the Holy Spirit can work even in the context of my ineptitude.

So, once again, God exceeded my expectations. He used me despite of myself, and I left Walmart crying and feeling awestruck, foolish, and overwhelmed with His mercy, grace and goodness.

Love, Obedience, and being tired…

Thoughts from a recent conversation

*I will continue to obey, even though I am tired

I am tired of having an adversarial relationship with my wife, tired of feeling like I’m losing everything important to me, tired of feeling like I’m as much a failure as a parent as I am as a husband, and tired of failing to hit the mark so often. Heck, I don’t even want to face the day anymore… I live in dread of the next text or email. I want off of this train, but where would I go? I worry that God won’t restore me or kill me and I’ll just have to keep going. Living out our faith definitely seems harder than dying for it. Still, I will serve Him and trust him. I will trust that He is a loving father and not some twisted sadist, enjoying chips and dip while our tragic lives play out.

I have to trust that there is some purpose to this mess and that it is not just random pointless pain and suffering at the whims of Satan and his minions, entirely out of God’s control to stop. I have to believe that He cares. I have to believe that he is at work. If I don’t, I’ll snap. I’ll utterly lose all touch with humanity. I need God. I need Him to hold me together. I could use some serious prayers to stay out of the slough of despond. I spend far too much time lately looking like a hapless victim to everyone. That’s not a good witness to anyone. The truth is, I’m starting to hate myself, so I really need to know that He loves me… I really need to know that, even if I’m not sure that I really love Him… The thing is, that we’re commanded to love him.

I’m trying to love Him… I’m not sure I ever did… I obey Him, and I try to serve Him, and I talk to Him almost every moment I can spare part or most of my brain to do so. I read His word. I listen to sermons almost non-stop… I don’t sing though… I haven’t really felt like praising Him since my wife left. Am I holding a grudge against God? Am I holding my praises hostage? I don’t know… the praising, loving part of me just feels dead… like a lump of cold clay. I refuse to give up on my God, and I cry out to Him every day… I just feel guilty for not feeling any love for Him…

4 Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken the love you had at first. 5 Consider how far you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first. If you do not repent, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place (Revelation 2:4-5).

I know that God has this… I know that He is in control… I just wish I felt it. I trust Him. I wait upon Him. I cry out to Him, but do I love Him? A fellow stander recently expressed what many of us have been feeling inside, “I miss feeling.. important… special…. noticed…” That got me wondering if that’s how God feels about me. I wonder if that’s why this is all happening. I wish I could make my heart love Him, but I worry that want to love Him just so he will end this pain and heal my family. I’m questioning everything… I am not willing to turn on God for a moment, but maybe that’s only because I know the other team loses in a big way. Is that love, or is it totally selfish and self-serving self-preservation?

Likely, though, loving God has very little to do with warm fuzzies. It probably has a lot more to do with trust and obedience… mainly obedience… So, I will continue to obey, even though I am tired

* These are thoughts removed and cleaned up from a conversation I had recently with some fellow standers with whom I have found community. In looking back over the conversation, I realized that others may benefit from being included in this conversation. So, I posted it here. This is also an explanation of why I have been so silent lately…

Survival Supplies

Here’s the stuff that I have been consuming to help me survive this week. Enjoy:

Sermons etc.

Scriptures

Proverbs 3:5-6 New International Version (NIV)
5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart
and lean not on your own understanding;
6 in all your ways submit to him,
and he will make your paths straight.[a]

Psalm 91 (emphasis added)
1 Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High
will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.[a]
2 I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress,
my God, in whom I trust.”
3 Surely he will save you
from the fowler’s snare
and from the deadly pestilence.
4 He will cover you with his feathers,
and under his wings you will find refuge;
his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.
5 You will not fear the terror of night,
nor the arrow that flies by day,
6 nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness,
nor the plague that destroys at midday.
7 A thousand may fall at your side,
ten thousand at your right hand,
but it will not come near you.
8 You will only observe with your eyes
and see the punishment of the wicked.
9 If you say, “The Lord is my refuge,”
and you make the Most High your dwelling,
10 no harm will overtake you,
no disaster will come near your tent.
11 For he will command his angels concerning you
to guard you in all your ways;
12 they will lift you up in their hands,
so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.
13 You will tread on the lion and the cobra;
you will trample the great lion and the serpent.
14 “Because he[b] loves me,” says the Lord, “I will rescue him;
    I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name.
15 He will call on me, and I will answer him;
I will be with him in trouble,
I will deliver him and honor him.
16 With long life I will satisfy him
and show him my salvation.”

Vows, covenants, and sickness

I put our wedding pictures back up on the dresser today.

Some rights reserved by Hamed Saber

Some rights reserved by Hamed Saber

Interesting that you take them down when you stop by…

You feel that I’m unable to face reality… move on…

Your parents even encouraged me to do so.

It’s sad really; that God’s word means so little to so many.

 

I made some vows and I entered a covenant.

There was something in there about sickness and turns for the worse.

I meant those things, though I never pictured it quite like this.

I used to run scenarios in my mind… maybe I’m a bit strange.

I knew I wouldn’t leave if you lost your hair, face, limbs, or your ability for physical intimacy.

 

I was ready for tragic accidents…

I was ready for cancer of the body.

I never imagined cancer of the heart… the soul… the mind.

I never imagined the enemy would capture you.

Yet, it’s no different. I still stand by you.

 

I know you probably feel like I’m trying to trap you…

to keep you from “getting on with your life”.

You likely would think I’m mad if I told you.

He talks to me. The God of the universe speaks.

I’m standing, as long as He tells me to stand.

 

I know you don’t want to hear about “God and covenants”.

I know you could care less about my “feelings”.

Look, this has nothing to do with “feelings”.

I don’t feel like fighting this. It is exhausting.

I don’t feel like being lonely much of the time.

 

If you had gotten a terrible degenerative disease,

would you not expect me to stand by you and love you through it?

Here I stand.

If someone had kidnapped you, would you not expect me look for you?

Here I stand.

 

I know you don’t believe your heart will change.

You may not even think anything is wrong.

I believe in the God who stops the sun, raises the dead, and created you.

If He says He’s got this,

who am I to argue? You take it up with Him.

Why does my prodigal seem fine?

Some rights reserved by Another Pint Please...

Some rights reserved by Another Pint Please…

Does it ever seem like Job 33:14-22 is happening to you but not your prodigal? My prodigal seems so happy, and I am suffering terribly. How can he / she not feel any of this pain? A fellow stander said to me recently, “I think the most confusing part of it is how one person in the marriage can feel all the pain of separation but the other one seems to feel nothing. It seems like if you are ONE flesh…..it’d be equal pain.” Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem that way.

Yes, there are a lot of testimonies online of returned prodigals that testify to the idea that they do feel pain and conviction but are simply hiding it.

That’s nice to hear, but it doesn’t really answer the question. After all, many of us standers are trying to hide a good portion of our pain for our children or what have you. Still it’s hard to hide real heart pain and even harder to hide 30 some pounds of weight loss.

Leave & cleave / Sever & suffer

4 “Haven’t you read,” he replied, “that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’ 5 and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’? 6 So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.” (Matthew 19:4-6)

I left home. I moved four hours away. I intertwined my life with my spouse’s family, neighbors, hometown events, annual family vacation, and favorite restaurants; “a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.” Now she is gone… and I’m still here with no “claim” to anything that has been my life for nearly 16 years… She can come and go as she pleases and still “fit in” because blood is thicker than water as they say. Meanwhile, I’m stuck in limbo. My job is here. My friends are here. My church is here. My kids are here… My wife is not. This is the case with many of us. We have not only lost our spouse but much of our day to day life experience. Meanwhile, the prodigal has replaced that experience with sin. We are left with void. Yes, we have God to fill that void, but it’s hard to go on vacation with God or take Him out to eat.

Sin feels good & this one is legal…

Our prodigals also have something to distract them, to fill the void. Sin feels really good. That’s why we sin. They have a non covenant partner to keep them busy, going on dates. They have a little false fantasy life and no real consequences yet. The sin is the prodigal’s, but so far all of the pain and consequences have managed to be shifted to the stander and, quite often, the kids. This is how the pain can be distributed unequally. Also, our legal system tends to favor the prodigal, rather than the stander, so you’re not likely to get any “justice” like victims of most other sins can hope for. You are left entirely to rely upon God. This is a good time to pray scriptures, like Hosea 2:6-7. Pray that God would stop your spouse from being fulfilled by his or her life of sin. Pray that it would be increasingly more empty and meaningless.

For the lips of the adulterous woman drip honey,
and her speech is smoother than oil;
4 but in the end she is bitter as gall,
sharp as a double-edged sword. (Proverbs 5:3-4)

7 Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. 8 Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. (Galatians 6:7-8)

Take consolation

Throughout the Bible, marriage is an example of God and the human race, Christ and the church. Jesus suffered in ways we can’t imagine to take away our sin so we could be in a relationship with Him. Yet, people everywhere are just living their life, enjoying the pleasures of sin without realizing the hurt they cause Him by rejecting Him. Honestly, that’s how I’d been living before I got the wake up call of separation and divorce. Most of us would have to admit the same, I think. Now, we are living the ultimate example of Christ and the prodigal church right now.

Again, this isn’t very encouraging. I know that my life is serving as an example to others, but that doesn’t make me feel better. I really don’t enjoy folks telling me how others are watching my walk. Honestly, I’d rather have my wife back than be an example of Christ’s sufferings. Also, the enemy comes at me with doubt. What if she never comes home? What kind of example am I then? Hey everybody, look at me! I’m an example of how sometimes God lets us hanging… Again, that’s the enemy trying to steal my faith and my hope, but it’s there nonetheless. Meanwhile, our prodigals don’t know they are the ones really missing out on a deep, fulfilling relationship with God because they are deceived by the pleasures of sin. Also, as we’ve read earlier, there’s NO peace for Prodigals. I have to believe that, or I may lose faith. He is seeking them and longing to show them a real relationship. This is how we testify to our sphere of influence what God’s love is really like.

Remember, that Jesus promises to come and make a home with those who obey His teaching. Not everyone who says, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the ones who do the will of God. Further, in the end of the story, victory is only guaranteed to those who overcome (Revelation 2, Revelation 3). The key is to overcome. If we don’t overcome, we are overcome (Derek Prince). That brings me the the passages I despise above all others:

2 Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. 4 Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. (James 1:2-4)

6 because the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and he chastens everyone he accepts as his son.”
7 Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as his children. For what children are not disciplined by their father? 8 If you are not disciplined—and everyone undergoes discipline—then you are not legitimate, not true sons and daughters at all. 9 Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of spirits and live! 10 They disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, in order that we may share in his holiness. 11 No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it. (Hebrews 12:6-11)

I really don’t like those.

Crying out to God

God,

Some rights reserved by Elsie esq.

Some rights reserved by Elsie esq.

I cry out to you! I scream at the top of my lungs in this empty house. I scream and cry out to You! God, my God, My Father, My Daddy, how much longer will You, God of the universe who loves me, allow this pain and injustice to stand? I am determined, with your grace, to remain obedient no matter how long, but how long?? Have I not been put to shame enough?

Lord, must I restate my case?

  1. You hate divorce. (Malachi 2:16)
  2. What you have joined together, man should not separate. (Matt 19:6, Mark 10:9)
  3. Whatever I ask in Jesus name in in Your will, you have heard and it is as good as done (1 John 5:14-15)

You know these things, and I know that I am undeserving of you. I know that I am a wretched sinner. I know that I bear much of the responsibility for this mess. Yet, I seek you, with a broken and contrite heart, to have mercy upon me in Your great love. Forgive me for my many sins, and help me to also forgive. May I look only to You as my God and nothing else. I know that you do not intrude upon free will. Still, I ask you to work in my wife’s life as you did in Gomer’s (Hosea 2:6-7).

Once again, I pray for the hedge of thorns. Frustrate her every attempt to find peace and happiness in this non-covenant relationship, the toxic environment that fostered it, and this new life she is trying to construct with Your blessing. Open the eyes and ears of her heart and speak loudly to her, offering the way of escape. God I ask this hedge of thorns around everyone on vacation this week with this imposter Satan has put in my place. May they find this getaway to be empty, joyless, and frustrating. Fill them with Godly sorrow that leads to repentance and leaves no regret (2 Corinthians 7:10). Speak to all of their hearts and grant your servants boldness to speak the truth. May your Holy Spirit be felt and recognized. The enemy’s powers were broken over two thousand years ago at the cross. Satan and his powers and principalities have no right to touch or torment my wife’s mind. I cover my marriage, our home, our family and all that we have under the blood of Jesus Christ.

Awesome and mighty Father, place your armor upon my family today. Surround them with chariots of fire (2 Kings 6:17). God, I know that those who are with us are more than those who are with them!! I stand firm, awaiting Your deliverance (Exodus 14:13,
2 Chronicles 20:17) and Your victory. Come quickly, Lord (Psalm 70:1)! Do not delay (Daniel 9:19)! Abba, Father, Daddy, I could really use a hug. Come and save me! Please help me!

God, where are you? There are so many broken families suffering under the attacks of the enemy right now! Give ear, our God, and hear; open your eyes and see the desolation of [these families] that bear your Name. We do not make requests of you because we are righteous, but because of your great mercy. Lord, listen! Lord, forgive! Lord, hear and act! For your sake, my God, DO NOT DELAY, because [these families] bear your Name (‭Daniel‬ ‭9‬:‭18-19‬ revised).

I praise you for Your mighty works! I praise you for your perfect love. You have never let me down, and always you are with me! You provide for me even now when my enemies are partying and I am downcast. You are still on Your throne and everything is under Your command. God, this battle is Yours! I love You! I praise You! I cry out to You! You are mighty to save!

In Jesus Name,

Amen.

Adultery, Truth, Convenience, and making God Fun Size

Some rights reserved by dnguy3n

Some rights reserved by dnguy3n

Okay, I’m not even sure where to begin with this one. If you read this blog regularly, you know that I am on a very intimate journey with God as a “Stander“, one who refuses to move on, even though his or her spouse has believed the world’s opinion about marriage and divorce. I’ve shared a lot of scripture here. I’ve shared a lot of prayer. I’ve shared some of my deepest pain.

I have not shared a lot of personal testimony (how God is working specifically in my life). Frankly, I assume that most of you would immediately tune me out if I started sharing what God has been doing in my life since my wife left for the far country. Why? Popular Christianity has diminished God so much that we do not believe that He is who He is. As a result, anything or anyone that speaks against that illusion is marginalized as a little crazy. I know this because that is how I had always felt. Charismatics, Pentecostals, and the like always came off as a bit cult-ish to me. I wanted nothing to do with that mess. Then, my wife left. I decided to wait on God to bring her back. Then He started speaking to me and intervening in my life. How do I share this with others without being labeled as a crazy person?

This Sunday, one of our pastors gave a sermon on the true nature of God, with a focus on how we’ve diminished God, and it occurred to me that this is not only the key to denying truth in our lives to avoid its inconvenience, but also how we can deny the supernatural in our lives. My argument is that both lead to apostasy and set us up beautifully to become servants of the enemy, rather than of the God we profess to know and love.

 

The Truth

If you profess to be a Christian, the truth is not relative. The Word of God is the truth. It does not make suggestions. It was inspired by the being that created all things, that holds all things… That’s scary stuff. It should be very very sobering, particularly if you live like most of us do in the USA.

Incidentally, our culture has programmed us to not see any real awe in anything. So, we put God in a little fun-size package and go on with our life not following the truth and asking Him to bless us in our self-centered pursuit of happiness. After all, our happiness is the most important goal of our whole life…

With this diminishment of GOD, then we experience a decay of TRUTH. For God is truth, true truth, the source of all truth and without God, truth cannot remain. We exchange the truths that would provide the norms for human life for the prevailing lies that are convenient. (Brian Rice)

I agree with Brian Rice, that we get more “truth” today from pop culture than we do from the Bible. We’re practically marinated in it. No wonder so many of our prodigal spouses have said that God wants them to be happy, so they left to pursue happiness with someone else. We have countless pop culture gurus to thank for the pervasive believe that our feelings are paramount and that we can live without sacrifice, self-denial, or discomfort. We just need to focus on what makes us happy. Thanks a lot, Oprah!

To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, ‘If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.’ John 8:31-32

So, we see that truth is intertwined with obedience, obedience to the Word of God, or Christ’s teaching. Further, Jesus connected truth and obedience to our relationship with Him. This is not a doctrine of works, but merely a statement on the reality one will live in if he or she is truly saved.

Jesus replied, “Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them. (John 14:23)

Notice, that Jesus promises to come and make a home with those who obey His teaching. Not everyone who says, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the ones who do the will of God. I spent much of my adult life saying Lord, Lord, every Sunday and failing to do the will of God daily or even weekly. Now my very family is broken and my spouse has been seduced by the enemy. In the middle of this wreckage, God stepped in and reminded me of a few things:

  1. He is real and so much bigger than all of my circumstances.
  2. He bought me with a price.
  3. I’m wasting that gift by not living into it.
  4. He never promised I wouldn’t suffer.

Then I started reading this Bible. The Word of God, after all, is full of inconvenient truth for both standers and prodigals.

11 He answered, “Anyone who divorces his wife and marries another woman commits adultery against her. 12 And if she divorces her husband and marries another man, she commits adultery.” (Mark 10:11-12)

In other words, just because your prodigal spouse left before carrying out your affair doesn’t mean that it isn’t wrong. It also provides a sobering warning to us.

But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart. (Matthew 5:28)

In other words, most of us standers are not innocent of this sin that we hate so much.

In fact the Word of God tends, by and large, to move us out of the flesh and into the spirit. It instructs us to move away from a focus on self and into a focus on others. If my goal is to fulfill my own happiness, then I am focused on self. I am against God at that point. If my view of God is appropriate, then how can I be against God without feeling a little uncomfortable?

16 So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. 17 For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever[c] you want. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.

19 The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; 20 idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions 21 and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.

22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. 24 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. 26 Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other. (Galatians 5:16-26)

So, the acts of the flesh are pretty much what our popular culture tells us leads to happiness. Seriously. Turn on the TV or radio. Listen to some popular music. I remember preachers trying to tell me when I was a kid that Rock music killed house plants so it was destroying my soul. It turns out that it was actually the accumulation of repetitive messages about how to live my life that was killing my soul. The tune to which it was set was largely irrelevant.

Oddly, up until recently, I have found the fruit of the Spirit almost impossible to attain, even in small amounts. Incidentally, what was missing in my equation was the Spirit. Yes, I was saved. Yes I’ve been baptized. Unfortunately, my denial of God’s supernatural power left me unable to embrace the Spirit.

The Supernatural

Some rights reserved by Werner Kunz

Some rights reserved by Werner Kunz

God is either omnipotent or impotent. God is either God, or He is not. We have watered Him down so much. Where is the supernatural in Christianity today? We’ve given it over to the snake handlers and acrobats who do back flips during worship and “flop around like a piece of bacon” (Bill Scott) when the healer forces them to swoon. If you speak of God, Jesus, or the Holy Spirit as thought they’re alive and active in your life, speaking to you and intervening, people assume that you’re starting to get just a little too radical and should consider finding another church (and some new friends) at best or consider admitting yourself to a local psychiatric facility at worst.

This brings us back to the truth, the Bible, which is either the Word of God or a collection of nice stories. Do you believe the new testament? The existence and prevalence of evil spirits in the new testament is not presented as metaphor or as a reality that is dealt with there, at that time, never to resurface again. It is merely a fact of life. This should concern us, as believers, but it does not. Our cultural coating of Teflon, that Brian Rice notes keeps us from comprehending the reality of God’s greatness, also convinces us that such things all had medical and psychological explanations. It’s all science. There is nothing going on in the spiritual realm, you see. Those people were just backward and primitive. So, is the Bible truth, or is it sort of true once you take out all the primitive supernatural stuff? At that point, how compelling is it?

Fellow standers, how many of us have had a spouse who suddenly went from being a man or woman of God, who was devoted and loving to a completely different person, almost overnight, with no logical explanation? My wife’s Christmas card to me told me that I was her “superhero”. Three months later, she informed me that she never loved me the entirety of our 10 years of marriage. She was suddenly cold and distant and a bit haunted. That is the work of of evil in the heavenly realms, or it’s a sudden onset of insanity. Either way, there is little doubt in my mind that the kingdom of Satan is not behind it. If you’re a stander and you’ve never read the testimony of a returned prodigal, then stop right now and read one of all of these. They will change your view considerably:

This is a spiritual battle. All of life is. Once you professed Christ, you joined the war. You can say you are a pacifist, but you’ll still be attacked. We have been both warned and equipped.

10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12 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. 13 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. 14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. 18 And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people. (Ephesians 6:10-18)

3 For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. 4 The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. 5 We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. (2 Corinthians 10:3-5)

18 And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hell will not overcome it. 19 I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” (Matthew 16:18-19)

I have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you. (Luke 10:19)

Again, this is either the Word of God or a collection of nice stories. Jesus was either for real when he was talking about that stuff, or he wasn’t who he said he was. Would the God of the universe, incarnate, make stuff up for the primitives or dumb it down? Like it or not, this stuff is real. Every day, you are in a spiritual battle for your very soul, and often that of your loved ones. You had better put on your armor and work on your Kung Fu because Kansas just went bye bye.

Apostasy

Apostasy is not a word you hear often anymore. “Apostasy in Christianity refers to the rejection of Christianity by someone who formerly was a Christian” (Wikipedia). In practice, it commonly refers to falling away from the truth. So, an apostate is someone who has once believed and then rejected the truth of God. There’s that whole truth thing again. Apostasy, then, is a rebellion against God because it is a rebellion against truth. What truth? There’s actually a formal code of primary and secondary essentials, primary non-essentials, etc. The bottom line is, the Word of God is the truth. If you profess to be a Christian, then the truth is not relative. It’s right there. Think it’s okay to leave your spouse for someone you like better. Keep going to church every Sunday and doing devotions with your kids at night, but you are still in rebellion against God.

Remember, that Jesus promises to come and make a home with those who obey His teaching. Not everyone who says, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the ones who do the will of God. Further, in the end of the story, victory is only guaranteed to those who overcome (Revelation 2, Revelation 3). The key is to overcome. If we don’t overcome, we are overcome (Derek Prince). There is no middle ground. There is a very real spiritual war going on. Whose side are you on?

That’s all I’ve got…

Unhappy Independence day…

Covering your garment with violence…

stopdivYou cover the altar of the Lord with tears,
With weeping and crying;
So He does not regard the offering anymore,
Nor receive it with goodwill from your hands.
Yet you say, “For what reason?”
Because the Lord has been witness
Between you and the wife of your youth,
With whom you have dealt treacherously;
Yet she is your companion
And your wife by covenant.
But did He not make them one,
Having a remnant of the Spirit?
And why one?
He seeks godly offspring.
Therefore take heed to your spirit,
And let none deal treacherously with the wife of his youth.

“For the Lord God of Israel says
That He hates divorce,
For it covers one’s garment with violence,”
Says the Lord of hosts.
“Therefore take heed to your spirit,
That you do not deal treacherously.” (Malachi 2:13-16)

I just ate my 4th of July hot dog, grilled to perfection in my microwave, sitting alone in the kitchen of the house I designed and help build for my wife… I never asked for this level of independence.

I feel violated. I cannot think of another way to describe it. What I am experiencing in divorce is no less demeaning, destructive, or excruciating than most felony offenses. Yet, this is perfectly legal to do to someone. I actually would prefer to have been beaten within an inch of my life or even murdered to what I am going through right now. I literally have never felt such pain in all of my life, and I have experienced some serious pain.

If you’ve stumbled across this because you are a Christ follower who is considering divorce, STOP. Forget the escape clause. Read the whole Book. Read all of the stuff in red. Read everything it says about marriage and divorce from Genesis to Malachi to Matthew to the Epistles. GOD HATES DIVORCE! He hates it for good reason.

Divorce should be illegal. I would rather have been murdered. That’s really what this is. That person, the one person to whom we exposed our nakedness and vulnerability, the most significant person in our lives has essentially said, “I wish you were dead“. Then they come to take their share of everything you have together, often running off to share it with someone new.

Whatever lies Satan has planted in your mind, ignore them.

  1. No, your kids won’t get over it!
  2. No, you won’t be happier in the long run. You are in rebellion from God, and you will have no peace.
  3. No, your spouse does not deserve “better”. Your spouse deserves you!
  4. Love is not a feeling. It is an act of sacrifice that you agreed to before God until one of you dies.
  5. The grass is not greener on the other side of the fence, it is greener where you water it.
  6. This lover that seems so exciting and understands you so well and is so perfect for you is committing one of the most atrocious and evil acts in the entire scriptures and is drawing you into it. That person does not truly “love” you if he or she desires to destroy your soul or your family. They may lust for you, but they do not love you.

If you had to go to God for a divorce instead of an attorney, what would you say? How would your current argument hold up under the scrutiny of the Lord of hosts, who created the institution of marriage and joined you on your wedding day? Good luck.

Listen to God now, and save yourself some pain and detours. I know he’s speaking to you. He may be screaming at you to stop, but you are ignoring Him. You want to be “happy”. How can God not want you to be “Happy”? Take some time and seek the Lord.

 

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.