Mountain-Moving Faith

Need to move any mountains?

Jesus replied, “Truly I tell you, if you have faith and do not doubt,
not only can you do what was done to the fig tree, but also you can say to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and it will be done.”
(Matthew 21:21, NIV)

mountain-moving faithWhat is this faith that shrivels fig trees and tosses mountains into the sea?

It must be more than believing that “God can.” There have been times when I have believed that, and the mountain did not budge. And it must be more than believing that “God will.” There have been times when I have believed that, and the mountain just laughed.

Achieving or receiving?

I don’t claim to have the final answer on faith. But here is an aspect of faith that I am learning:

Faith is often an act of receiving.

Faith is always active, but it is not always an act of accomplishing or achieving. Primarily, it an act of receiving.

Faith is not grabbing something as much as it is holding out empty hands. Perhaps a quick willingness to receive is part of the childlike quality that Christ commended to us:

“I tell you the truth, anyone who doesn’t receive the Kingdom of God like a child
will never enter it.”
(Mark 10:15, NLT)mountain-moving faith

Mountain-moving faith must have a spiritual emptiness which God can then fill. This kind of belief is not a gathered-up power; it is more of a posture. It is the mode of receiving. It is the very opposite of what we usually do when we want something: we try to grab!

Rather than commanding God, faith is the act of submitting to God. It is submitting to receive. It is the act of opening, the act of rolling out a red carpet of expectancy. It is submitting to the will and goodness of God.

Causing or allowing?

This kind of faith is not about causing something to happen as much as it is about allowing something to happen. It is about creating spiritual space that God can infuse with His power.

This helps us understand why God cannot forgive us if we do not forgive others. Bitterness causes us to close our spirits. Resentment is actually a lack of faith in God. We don’t trust His justice and goodness enough to relinquish the matter to His care. When we close our spirits to others, we are closing our hands to God. We no longer have an inner openness that can receive from Him.

Adam and Eve were the first to close their spirits to God. Instead of living with “open hands” before the LORD, Adam and Eve decided to take matters into their own hands. Instead of remaining in a posture of receiving from God, they grabbed for themselves. And then, in a futile attempt to cover their shame, they picked leaves from a fig tree—leaves which soon shriveled.

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Was that first fig tree related to the tree that Jesus cursed in Jerusalem? Of course, I don’t know that, but I think we can link them a bit in symbolism.[i] The fig leaves that Adam and Eve wore represent their closed spirits and their lack of faith in the goodness of God. When we resist God, it is as if we are wearing spiritual fig leaves. We will experience shriveled spirits unless we open ourselves again to the Spirit of God. Like sap flowing through a tree, the Spirit will revive us, and He will produce spiritual fruit in our lives.

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Prepare to see some mountains move!

 

 

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[i] I think that the primary symbolism of the cursed fig tree is a denunciation of the “false advertising” of empty religion, which is full of “leafy” deeds to show off but which bears no fruit to feed hungry souls.

 

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Overcoming the Overwhelming

We make complicated messes.
God gives simple instructions.
The enemy tries to confuse and bewilder and overwhelm.
We try to figure out the tangled, jumbled-up complexities;
but with each broken piece we pick up,
we become more perplexed.
overwhelming

 

 

 

 

 

God gives simple instructions.
“Humble yourselves.”
We may not like God’s instructions, but they are simple.
“Forgive.”
They may not be easy, but they are simple.
“Serve.”
overwhelming

 

 

 

 

God says, “What’s in your hand?”
With what we have, we can love.
Wash feet.
Show kindness.
Move toward.
Be for.
overwhelming

 

 

 

 

We have complicated messes of “he said; she said; but he didn’t; and then she did….”
God says,
“Be still.
Know that I am God.
Trust Me,
and love.”

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What Are You Celebrating?

Interested in a FUN way to strengthen your relationships, including your marriage?

Through an extensive review of studies on productivity and relationships, blogger Eric Barker discovered a common factor. He realized that this one thing strengthened friendships, boosted success in the work place, increased happiness, and strengthened motivation:

celebration!¹

celebrating

In summarizing his findings, Eric made this unexpected suggestion:

Want a better relationship? Spend more time celebrating the good things.

He explained further: “Studies show divorce isn’t usually caused by an increase in problems. It’s often caused by a decrease in positive feelings.”

Here is how Eric summed it up:

Stop trying to fix the bad and focus on relishing the good. That’s what makes marriages last.

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Of course, there may be things in your marriage that must be addressed and boundaries that must be maintained. However, we can easily become consumed with problems and fixated on the negative.

We forget the core of marriage: delighting in one another.

God delights in us, and He longs for us to delight in Him. When we forget to center our lives on enjoying Christ and savoring Him, we become spiritually dry. The Christian life becomes one of effort and plodding duty. But when we relish the generous goodness and lavish love of Christ, we thrive. We gain spiritual radiance.

Our marriages are similar. When our relationships are all effort and duty, we become unbalanced, and we snuff out the sparks of joy.

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I love seeing how much God values celebration! The words “celebrate” and “celebration” appear in the NLT version of the Bible 131 times. God created many amazing feasts for His people to celebrate every year, and He is preparing for us the most incredible celebration of all, “the wedding feast of the Lamb” (Revelation 19:7, NLT).

You weren’t about to say that you have nothing to celebrate, were you? That’s good because

you can always celebrate!

celebrating

All you need is a grateful heart. Add a balloon, or a bit of confetti, a handmade sign, a plate of cookies, or even a single candle in a muffin, and—viola!—you have a celebration.

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Celebrate the good things you have received from God. Celebrate daily victories, little joys, small steps, warm smiles.

celebrating

Relish life with the spouse you love
Each and every day … (Ecclesiastes 9:9, MSG).

celebrating

Celebrate the big stuff, and celebrate the little things, too. Celebrate with gratitude to God, who is the Giver of every good thing.

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Here’s something to celebrate: Pentecost is coming up soon! This festive holy-day will be on May 15 this year.  Be sure to take a minute–or a meal–to celebrate the awesome gift of God’s Spirit to His people.

BookCoverImageMy family and I have enjoyed celebrating God’s good gifts to us through simple adaptations of the Biblical feasts. To share these activities with others, I recently wrote a book entitled, Simple Celebrations: Practical Ways to Enjoy the Biblical Feasts.

This book provides step-by- step instructions for celebrating God’s goodness through the symbolism and festivity of the Biblical feasts. Simple Celebrations explains how to enjoy Passover, Pentecost, the Feast of Tabernacles, Hanukkah, and Purim in meaningful ways. The book is available on Amazon in both paperback and Kindle formats.

 

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So … what you are celebrating?

Blessings to you,
Tami

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¹http://www.bakadesuyo.com/2016/05/way-to-improve/

 

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Faith is Like a Fish

Do trials increase our faith?

Have you heard that trials increase our faith? “Trials and troubles … are treadmills for the soul.”[i]

faith

That certainly may be true. But if trials increase faith, then we should be muscle-bulging spiritual giants and we should be surrounded by people of massive faith. We have no lack of trials, but we often have a lack of faith.

Clearly, it is not trials themselves which develop our faith.

In fact, our problems present as much opportunity to weaken faith as they do to strengthen it. Satan wants to use our trials for his destructive purposes, just as God wants to use our trials for His life-giving purposes. What makes the difference, then?

How can we go through tough times so that we are strengthened instead of shredded?

We can ask ourselves two important questions:

  • Who has our ear?
  • Who has caught our eye?

We always have the choice to listen either to our circumstances or to our God. We always have the choice to focus our gaze either on our circumstances or on our God. One will be a misty fog to us, and the other will be a solid rock.

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If we listen to the enemy speaking to us through our circumstances, we will hear faith-crumbling lies about God. We will hear that He doesn’t care, doesn’t know, or doesn’t have enough power. If we put our eyes on our circumstances, God will seem to be an unreliable vapor to us.

If, however, we listen to God’s voice as we go through trials, we will hear faith-building truth. Not only will we hear about God’s love, wisdom, and power, but we will witness them firsthand.

What does increase our faith?

If faith does not come from trials, from where does it come? The Scriptures explain that faith comes from hearing the Word of God (Romans 10:17). As we experience problems in life, we must open the Scriptures and listen to the promises of God. We can then take those promises, throw them down like planks over a ditch, and walk on them.

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Robert Morgan says that we will “never encounter any situation for which God has not provided a precious promise to bear us through it.”[ii]

How is faith like a fish?

Thomas Watson, a Puritan from the seventeenth century, had another great word-picture for this same concept. He said, “Faith lives in a promise, as the fish lives in the water.”[iii]

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If you are going through a trial without living in a promise, then your faith will struggle like a fish out of water!

Ask God for His specific promise for you in the trial you are facing now. Plant your feet in it. Cling to it. Swim in it!

Who has your ear? Your problems, or your God?
Who has caught your eye? Your troubles, or the beauty of Christ?
Let your circumstances be the temporary mist. Let God be your immovable, eternal Rock.

When you focus on God, your trials will serve you. They will strengthen your faith, expand your capacity for joy, and maximize your delight in the glories of Jesus Christ.

 

 

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[i] Robert Morgan. The Red Sea Rules: 10 God-given Strategies for Difficult Times. Nelson. 2001. 96.
[ii] ibid. 102-103.
[iii] ibid. 103.

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The Seven Rings of Marriage

The Seven Rings of Marriage is a new book by a new author. Jackie Bledsoe has a sincere passion to share what he’s learning in his marriage to encourage others in their marriages. His fervency is the strength of this book.

Seven Rings

The High Value of Marriage

I greatly appreciate the high value that Jackie puts on marriage. This treasuring of marriage reflects the heart of God, and it is something we jettison to our own loss.

Jackie excels in speaking directly to other husbands. His style is that of a friend who is urging his buddies on and sharing advice from his own life. With an earnest voice, he maintains an unwavering focus on strengthening marriages.

Champion Husbands

Jackie does a great job of calling husbands to be heroes in their marriages. He says that he learned from Kevin Bullard that “[o]ne of the root meanings of the Hebrew word husband actually means ‘champion.’” Speaking to husbands, Jackie explains that God wants men to be champions in the way they love their wives:

“As the champion in our marriages, we have a twofold role: (1) defeat our rivals, and (2) fight on the behalf of our wives. We do this by caring and feeding her spiritually while we advance together against the enemies of our union.”

He concedes that this “won’t always be easy or even always enjoyable. But the person we are fighting for and with is worth anything we have to go through on the way.” (page 31)

Jackie is a list-maker. He includes lists of how to be a happy husband, how marriage counseling can help your marriage, 25 fun date-night ideas, why you must attend marriage retreats, habits that create unbreakable marriages, and many more. Here are two of his lists:

How to Restore Friendship in Your Marriage:

  • Go back to basics. (Show kindness and respect.)
  • Stop saying yes to everybody else.
  • Get desperate about date nights.
  • Talk, talk, and talk some more.
  • Prioritize your friendship. (121-122)

Image courtesy of Ambro at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

How to Enrich Your Prayer Time with Your Spouse:

  • Choose a time but be flexible.
  • Pray alone before praying together.
  • Thank God and praise Him for your spouse.
  • Use Scripture for your prayers.
  • Write a prayer and read it.
  • Start short.
  • Show some affection. (46-47)

The Model Husband

Here is some further advice from Jackie:

“Do you really want to love your wife and prosper in your marriage? The solution is simple. Do what Jesus did.

“Jesus loved His bride. … He gave up what was most important for Him when it conflicted with what was best for her, the church. Jesus made the ultimate sacrifice, His life. His life was important, probably more important than anything we are holding on to. The Bible shows us the conflicting emotions He had while praying in the garden of Gethsemane. He didn’t want to suffer, but He knew doing so would be the greatest blessing for His bride.

“He constantly built her up, and His relationship with her made her look even better. … Ephesians 5:27 says He makes the church look radiant (NIV). Husbands, we should constantly encourage our wives, and the result will be beautiful.” (148-149)

While the writing in The Seven Rings of Marriage could be improved, Jackie Bledsoe’s passion to strengthen marriages is faultless. Kudos to Jackie Bledsoe for being a great champion of marriages!

And may God bless YOU for being a champion in your marriage!

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Image courtesy of Ambro at FreeDigitalPhotos.net (2nd image)

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The Blessing: 5 Elements of a Life-Changing Gift

Earlier this month, Gary Smalley crossed the finish line and entered heaven. I was one of the many who were blessed by his writing and speaking.  As he ran the race that God had marked out for him, Gary shared some wonderful truths that he was learning along the way.

Be a Blessing!

Gary Smalley wrote sixteen award-winning books, selling over five million copies. One of those best-sellers was The Blessing, co-authored with John Trent. The Blessing explains how we can give a powerful blessing to our children, our spouses, our parents, and our friends.

Bless Your Children

Parents can give their children a life-changing blessing. In Biblical times, this blessing was a important, well-understood part of  family life.

Do you remember the Biblical story of Jacob and Esau as they battled for their father’s blessing? The Genesis account is dramatic and heart-wrenching.

007-jacob-deceives                          008-jacob-deceives

In our culture today, we are not familiar with the concept of blessing, but it is just as important as ever. If we do not receive a blessing from our parents, that sense of loss can plague us our entire lives.

Our desire for the approval and affirmation of our parents is a strong, innate longing. It is critically important to learn how to give this great treasure to our children.

blessing

There are five elements of the blessing:

  1. meaningful touch

  2. a spoken message of love and acceptance

  3. attaching “high value” to the person being blessed

  4. picturing a special future for that person

  5. an active commitment to fulfill the blessing[i]

Bless Your Spouse

Giving a blessing to our spouses will also make a profound difference in our marriages.couple

  1. We can touch in ways that convey concern, affection, and encouragement.
  2. Every day, we can speak words of admiration, gratitude, and appreciation.
  3. We can choose to attach high value to our spouses, and we can be deliberate in expressing that high value to them.

In Hebrew, to “bow the knee” is the root meaning of blessing. … Bowing before someone is a graphic picture of valuing that person. … Anytime we bless someone, we are attaching high value to him or her. [ii]

  1. We can picture a future for our spouses that is full of hope, growth, success, and joy.
  2. We can express active commitment to our spouses. This is the “glue” that holds the blessing together.

In fact, this final element of the blessing is at the heart of “cleaving” in a marriage. When the Scriptures tell us to “cleave to our spouse” (Gen. 2:24), the root word in Hebrew means “to cling, to be firmly attached.”[iii]

touch

Bless Your Friends

You can bless your friends with these same five elements. The fantastic friendship of David and Jonathan provides a great model. If you review their story, you will see how they gave each element of blessing to one another. (See 1 Samuel 18 and 20.)

And Be Blessed!

The one who blesses others is abundantly blessed.”[iv]

If you are God’s child and His friend, He will give you His blessing, which is the richest of all blessings.

  1. You can feel His touch through His Spirit within you. God says that He holds your hand. (Isaiah 41:13)
  2. You can hear His words of love through the Scripture. (Jeremiah 31:3)
  3. You can be amazed by the high value which He attaches to you. (Genesis 1:27, Deuteronomy 7:6, Psalm 147:11, Zephaniah 3:17, Isaiah 43:4, Isaiah 49:15-16, Zechariah 2:8, Romans 8:32, Ephesians 1:3-5)
  4. You can look forward to the glorious future that He has planned for you. (Jeremiah 29:11, Philippians 1:6, Revelation 21:4)
  5. You can rest in His active, loyal commitment to you. (Deuteronomy 41:8, Psalm 136, Psalm 94:14)

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We are going through The Red Sea Rules on our weekly prayer call, held every Thursday. You are invited to pray with us!  You can join us HERE. You can also listen to past recordings HERE.

May God bless you and your home with His life-giving power as you celebrate Resurrection Sunday this weekend!

Blessings to you,
Tami

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[i] p. 25. Thomas Nelson, 1986.

[ii] p. 67

[iii] p. 177

[iv] Proverbs 11:25, MSG

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Who You Are, and What You’re Worth

If you are trying to build up your value, or if you are working to create a satisfying identity, you can lay those heavy burdens down.

identity

I listened to my friend recently as she lamented that her sense of identity had seemed to unravel like yarn being pulled from a sweater:

“I  thought I was doing great. I was getting stuff done and feeling rather talented. But lately, I have been feeling completely incompetent. Maybe even worthless.  I’m overwhelmed with demands that I can’t meet. I can’t even keep my closets organized!”

We all need reminders of our true identity and worth. If you feel that a messy closet—or a messy life—is messing with your value, here’s some great truth for you:

Your value is built in.

You are a masterpiece, bearing the fingerprints and signature of God. You are created in His image to reflect His beauty and strength to others. You are created in His image in order to enjoy Him with true delight and pleasure. 

Your identity is not found in your good looks or your talents or your personality or your accomplishments.  If you are in covenant with Christ, then you have the most fantastic identity possible:

“I am His.”

You belong to Christ as His beloved. You are His.

identity

“I am His.”

“Do not fear, for I have redeemed you;
I have called you by name; you are Mine!”
(Isaiah 43:1, HCSB)

You are deeply desired, passionately pursued, forever cherished.

“The LORD your God is with you,
the Mighty Warrior who saves.
He will take great delight in you with gladness.
With his love, he will calm all your fears.
He will rejoice over you with singing.”
(Zephaniah 3:17, NIV, NLT)

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You belong to One who knows you—the real you. He knows everything about you; and in the midst of all the knowing, He loves you. He is unfailing in His commitment to you, and He is unwavering in His devotion. He is your intimate friend, your Gentle Shepherd, and your awesomely perfect God.

“My beloved is mine and I am his.”
(Song of Songs 2:16, NIV)

“I am His.”

All the circumstances of your life are just props for this great Love story. Messy closets, difficult relationships, fussy babies, demanding work assignments, physical challenges, financial pressures—all of these are backdrops for living out the truth that you are His beloved.

Made in His image, you can reflect Him in your circumstances. Your goal is no longer to control circumstances or to impress people. God has established your value, and He is the One who controls the details of your life for you. You can focus on being impressed with Him. He is the One who will make your name great (Genesis 12:2), and He is the One who will share His glory with you (2 Thessalonians 2:14, Romans 8:17).

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Deeply and perfectly loved by Him, you can walk through this day with the goal of loving Him back, following His guidance. That might mean cleaning a closet. Or it might mean shoving another stray shoe into that closet and just trying to get the door to close, for now.

But your value is unchanging: you are priceless.

And your identity is solid: you are His.


If you are interested in learning more about who you are and what you’re worth, you will enjoy reading “Beautiful and Beloved,” the first chapter in Devoted: Pressing in to Know Christ More.

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Handling Hurt: 5 Steps for Healing

We live in a world of hurt, don’t we?

We are not quite the walking dead, but we are the walking wounded. We know how to feel hurt and how to cause hurt, but who knows how to heal?

Mercifully, “the God of all comfort” specializes in healing. As our tender-hearted Physician, God provides a five-step prescription for handling hurt. These principles are effective in treating our injured hearts, whether the wounds are minor or severe.

The first step is easy:

1. Say, “Ouch!”

Acknowledging pain is a great place to start because saying, “ouch!”  focuses attention on an area that may need treatment.

Just remember to say, “I’m hurting” without throwing any emotional punches yourself!

2. Put your wound in the Light.

As you bring the situation to the Lord, let your heart be fully exposed.

“Everything exposed by the light [of Christ] is made clear,
for what makes everything clear is light.”
Ephesians 5:13-14, HCSB

Talk to God with honesty and openness. He will talk to you with love and wisdom.

“Pour out your hearts like water to the Lord.
Lift up your hands to him in prayer….”
Lamentations 2:19, NLT

“But for you who fear [the LORD’s] name,
the Sun of Righteousness will rise with healing in his wings.”
Malachi 4:2, NLT

Just as the rays of sunshine penetrate your body with warmth when you lie in the sun, so the soothing rays of Christ will penetrate your spirit with healing as you lay your heart open before Him.

3. Allow the antiseptic of His Presence to cover the situation.

Put your eyes on your Lord, knowing that He has put His eyes on your pain. Ask Christ to put His Hands all over the situation, as you take your controlling or punishing hands off.

Take Him up on His incredible offer to “take your hits” and to be your Shield. (See Psalm 18:2, 84:11, and 91:4.) Accept His unbelievable offer to carry the weight of this situation. (See Isaiah 53:4 and Matthew 11:28.)

“But You, Lord, are a shield around me,
my glory, and the One who lifts up my head.”
Psalm 3:3, HCSB

When God belongs to you as your God, then your pain belongs to Him as His pain. Every hurt given to Christ is redeemed, for He knows how to use every drop of pain to gain a far-exceeding glory. He knows how to turn the ashes of your pain inside out into the beauty of joy (Isaiah 61:3).

“For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long.
Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever!”
2 Corinthians 4:17, NLT

4. Guard against spiritual infection.

Be vigilant in preventing contamination from your own unhealthy responses, such as fear or anger. The Scriptures urge great caution against the spiritual virus of bitterness, which contaminates and spreads quickly (Hebrews 12:15).

Maintain zero-tolerance for toxic bitterness, vengeance (including the silent treatment), and poisonous self-pity (which is resentment in disguise). 

“See to it … that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many.”
Hebrews 12:15, NIV

 5. Apply the potent, soothing promises of Scripture.

God promises to heal our inner wounds through His Word: “He sent His word and healed them” (Psalm 107:20, HCSB). 

“He heals the brokenhearted and bandages their wounds.”
Psalm 147:3, NLT

Soak in the healing waters of God’s truth until they seep into the very pores of your spirit.

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hurt

hurt

“Then your salvation will come like the dawn, and your wounds will quickly heal” (Isaiah 58:8, NLT).

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A Different Kind of Valentine

I just spent an hour reading Valentine’s Day cards in a couple stores today. I am quite sure that I will be seeing red hearts when I close my eyes tonight.

Valentine

Spending an hour looking at greeting cards might sound painful to you. But that’s not the pitiful part. The sad thing is that I did not find a card for my husband, after all that.

But I have an idea:
[Click HERE to continue reading the article at StartMarriageRight.com.]

Happy Valentine’s Day to you!
Tami

 

 

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The ABC’s of Worship (Part 2)

Have you ever used the alphabet to spur your responses of worship to the Lord?

Last fall, I shared with you several graphics that used the letters of the alphabet to structure a prayer of praise to the Lord. (Click here for “The ABC’s of Praise.”)

Today, I would like to share something similar. However, instead of an alphabetical listing of the attributes of God, this is an alphabetical listing of our responses to the Lord. (Of course, as you worship through the alphabet, you will think of other responses to add to this collection.)

Before each of the phrases listed below, insert the word “I.”

Lord, I …

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Honor You

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Savor You (1)

Worship You

May each day of this New Year be filled with sincere worship from our hearts.

 

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Photo credit: “Daffodil Blooming Through The Snow” by Serge Bertasius

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Is God’s Will for You a Mystery?

Sometimes, God’s Will can be a real mystery to us.

At other times,  it can seem rather mundane. But we can learn from several fascinating stories how to push through the mysterious and mundane into the marvelous!

Kings have dreams.

In ancient Babylon, King Nebuchadnezzar had a disturbing dream. When he awoke, he called all of his wise men and advisers. He said to them, “Tell me my dream. Tell me what it was, and then tell me what it means.”

Of course, no one could tell the king what his dream had been. Even when threatened with execution, the counselors could not tell the king what he had dreamed.

This impossible request reminds me of the game that my youngest child invented when she was a preschooler. When we were at the pool one day, Grace announced, “I am going to go under the water and think about a song. When I come back up, you tell me what I was thinking!”

God's Will

The rest of the family thought this was hilarious, which only encouraged Grace in her unusual game. However, we soon discovered that it was not as difficult as it could have been because Grace’s mental collection of songs was apparently limited to “Happy Birthday” (her most popular choice), “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star,” and an occasional “Row, Row, Row Your Boat.”

Grace’s game was not very hard, but King Nebuchadnezzar’s challenge was truly impossible! His astrologers and sorcerers had no clues. This was no game at the pool; it was a life-or-death matter.

One of the king’s wise men was Daniel, who actually was a wise man and who knew what to do. He prayed to God, for he understood that “God is a revealer of mysteries” (Daniel 2:29, NIV).

Sometimes, we are in a similar situation. The King of Kings has a “dream” for us, so to speak. We understand that God has a plan for us, and we say, “God, if You will just tell me what the plan is, I will do it.” But we can’t figure out what this great mystery is!

We may be struggling with a career decision or a relationship challenge. Certainly in marriage, we face some mysteries! The hearts of our spouses—and even our own hearts—are deep mysteries, indeed. We may be saying, “God, I want to do what You want to me to do in my marriage; but God, for the life of me, I cannot figure out what that is!”

God reveals mysteries to those who seek Him.

But our King is not like King Nebuchadnezzar because our King loves to make known His dream to His people. God does has a dream for your life. He does have a plan for your marriage today, and He is not going to keep it hidden from you! Instead, God promises to be the Revealer of mysteries, and He will show you what you need to know for today.

I notice that Daniel did not learn what the king’s dream was until the very night before his scheduled execution. He had only a few hours to get this right! That is relevant to us, too. God does not usually show us the five-year-plan that we would love to see, but He always gives us the wisdom and the knowledge that we need for today. Always.

Notice Daniel’s prayer:

Praise be to the name of God for ever and ever;
    wisdom and power are his. …
He gives wisdom to the wise
    and knowledge to the discerning.
He reveals deep and hidden things;
    he knows what lies in darkness,
    and light dwells with him.
I thank and praise you, God of my ancestors:
    You have given me wisdom and power,
you have made known to me what we asked of you,
    you have made known to us the dream of the king. (Daniel 2:20-23, NIV)

God delights in answering our prayers for wisdom. (See Proverbs 2:6 and James 1:5.) If we ask God to reveal the mysteries of His will for us, we will be able to pray this same prayer that Daniel prayed. We can say, “Wow, God! You are going to show me deep and hidden things that I would never be able to know on my own. You will give me wisdom to know how to love my spouse well, and You will give me the power to carry out what You ask me to do.”

That is awesome! We have great confidence that our King not only has a dream, but that He reveals it to us at the perfect time.

We can lose that confidence, however, when God’s instructions to us are not what we expect. Sometimes we ask God to reveal His will, He tells us what to do, and then we respond like Simon Peter did one time.

Keep doing what God tells you to do.

Crowds of people had gathered beside a lake to listen to Jesus.

Then [Jesus] sat down and taught the people from the boat. When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Put out into deep water, and let down the nets for a catch.”

Simon answered, “Master, we’ve worked hard all night and haven’t caught anything.” (Luke 5:4-5, NIV)

I can identify with that response! Sometimes we ask God for wisdom, He tells us what to do, and then we say, “Lord, I have done that! I did that all night long and caught nothing!”

Maybe you are saying, “God, I did that all year long!” or “I did that for the past decade! I worked very hard, and I am exhausted. I tried doing what You said to do, but I caught nothing. Nothing has changed; nothing is working.”

As we listen carefully to God, we may hear Him say, “Go back out there. In fact, go out even deeper.” That instruction seems to indicate a level of commitment. Perhaps God is asking us to throw ourselves back into working on our marriages, to keep “putting down the nets.” Perhaps we are to go even deeper—that is, we are to commit ourselves to a greater extent than ever before.

And then do it some more.

We sometimes say, “If nothing changes, nothing changes.” That is certainly true in many situations, but spiritually, that statement does not always apply because we often do not see what is happening in the spiritual realm.

Jesus once told a story about a widow who persisted in her legal appeals to an unjust judge. (See Luke 18:1-8.) This hard-hearted man refused to help, but the widow kept going back to him. The Bible doesn’t say that she finally came up with a new approach, wore a different dress, or thought of a new thing to say. She just kept “putting down the nets.”

God's Will

And then … the breakthrough came. It came not because the widow did something different; it came because she kept doing the same thing!

015-persistent-widow

Do you remember Naaman, who had leprosy? (You can read his story in 2 Kings 5.)  He dipped down into the waters of the Jordan River six times–and six times, nothing happened. Naaman did not see a little bit of improvement after the first dip into the river, and then a bit more improvement after the second dip. There was no visible progress at all! Naaman kept doing the same thing because God told him to do it. And then … God performed the miraculous. Naaman dipped down for the seventh time, and this time, he stood up as a completely healed man.

naaman

This is exactly what God does in our marriages sometimes! God says, “Get back out there, and see what I am going do.” And we obey for the same reason that Simon Peter obeyed:  “Because You say so, I will let down the nets” (Luke 5:5). Peter was saying, in other words, “I am not doing this because it seems smart to me, or because I figured it out. I am doing it simply and entirely because You tell me to do it.”

throw net

That is a good attitude for us, too, in our marriages. When we know that God has told us to keep on doing what we have been doing, we say, “Lord, I have done this already, but because You say so, I am going to keep doing it.”

When Simon and the other fishermen obeyed Christ, they caught so many fish that their nets began to break and their boats began to sink! Simon was awestruck. Everyone was amazed.

net full

If we are faithful to do what God tells us to do, we are going to be astonished. We can trust God’s instruction to us even though it seems that we are just doing the same thing  … and then doing the same thing again!

You are going to be amazed!

But if we will persevere, God will overwhelm us with spiritual fruit. We are going to be amazed at what God is achieving through our persistent, ordinary obedience. If we trust and obey, we are going to be astonished. We are going to overflow with joy because of what God accomplishes through our obedience.

Let’s ask God to reveal the mysteries of His will. 
Let’s do whatever He asks.
Let’s be amazed.

———————————–

“Is God’s Will for You a Mystery?”  is a transcript of last week’s prayer call. Every Thursday, we gather by phone or online to “fight on our knees” for our marriages and families.

You are invited to join us!

The call lasts only 15 minutes. For more information, click HERE for the prayer page at MannaForMarriage.com.

————————————

Photo credit:  “Smiling Little Girl Swimming” by David Castillo Dominici

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Christmas Prayer

In Psalm 18:35, God says that He stoops down to make us great. Isn’t that incredible?

I think that also sums up the wonderful message of Christmas: God came down to lift us up. How amazing!

I wrote about Psalm 18:35, Christmas, and marriage in “A Christmas Prayer for Our Marriages.” Click on the image to read the prayer.

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Merry Christmas!

Blessings to you,
Tami

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Merry Christmas!

Christmas

God saw
that His creation,
though beloved still,
was beautiful no more.

Broken,
it was
riddled with rebellion
and fractured with hatred;
and the great heart of God was
broken.

Like a tear,
the immense love of God for the people of Earth welled up
and spilled out,
descending
like a brilliant star
through the universe
before appearing
as a baby in a bed of straw.

And this was
Christmas.

Christmas

This God who loves us
loves us enough
to enter our sorrow and make it His own
that we would be His own
and that our comfort would be
this God-with-us.

As we behold Him
unceasingly
may we adore Him,
this Christ of Christmas,
this very Glory of God.

********************************

Book Sale

Through the end of December,  the code  RF2D3P97 is valid for a 15% discount on any book purchased through the Books page on the Manna for Marriage website.

********************************

Merry Christmas, everyone! 

I pray that the God of all comfort, Jesus Christ, will be more precious to us than ever before during this Christmas, and I pray that we will treasure Him as never before in the coming year.

 

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Battling Bitterness

A Strategy to Target Bitterness

If I were your enemy, I’d use every opportunity to bring old wounds to mind. … I’d try to ensure that your heart was hardened with anger and bitterness. Shackled through unforgiveness.” (page 151)

With this insight, Priscilla Shirer begins her discussion of a prayer strategy to combat bitterness. Battling bitterness is not only a very common struggle, but it is also an especially fierce one, don’t you think?

Here are some more excerpts from the chapter entitled, “Your Hurts,” from the book Fervent:

  • Your spiritual enemy, Satan, “wants you long-term angry. And he can use even the lightest offense to do it. … He wants your heart coated with the calluses of resentment, crippled by offenses from your past. Unforgiveness is his design to ‘outwit’ you—to keep you not only bruised and bleeding but unable to experience any power in your prayers or intimacy with your Father.” (157)
  • The enemy of your soul “wants you baking in unforgiveness until your spiritual life is hard and crisp around the edges. Lifeless. Comatose. But Jesus … He wants you free. That’s what He created you for.” (159)
    bitterness
  • “Unforgiveness puts us in prime position for demonic influence and activity to take advantage of us.” (169)
  • The “forgiveness you don’t have any desire to give right now can be amazingly enabled through prayer. … The real facts and details don’t change as you get real with God in prayer. But get ready for some other pieces of information to bubble up to the surface as well, as the Spirit and the Scripture come together in agreement on how you need to handle things.” (161)
  • “The enemy, of course, will want you to balk at this part. He’s been banking on keeping these solutions hidden from you and convincing you that anger and bitterness are the most productive, protective ways of managing the situation.” (161-162)
  • “Forgiveness is God’s command. And it comes with a promise that He will provide us the companion power to pull it off. Don’t expect any other solution to work or to change anything, except for the worse.” (162)

3 Steps to Victory

We can demolish enemy lies with God’s truth. We can follow the three steps of spiritual warfare to destroy the enemy attack of bitterness:

  1. When we are bitter, we are believing a lie—always. So the first step is to ask God, “What specific lie am I believing?” Perhaps we think, “Someone else is ruining God’s good plans for me,” or “I am missing out on something good.” Maybe we believe the lie that we must be in control in order to be happy, or the lie that our worth is based on how others treat us.
  2. The second step is to identify Scripture that replaces the lie with truth. I can’t believe that someone else is messing up God’s plan for me if I believe Job 42:2:bitterness
    I can’t believe that I am missing out on something good if I believe Psalm 84:11:bitterness
  1. The third step is to flood your thinking and your spirit with the water of the Word so that the lie is washed away.

A Surprising Truth about Bitterness

God is helping me to understand this startling truth:

My struggle to forgive is actually a struggle with God.

I think I am wrestling in my spirit with someone who has wronged me. But that is another lie! Here is the truth:

I am wrestling with God,
saying that He should not have allowed this to happen,
and saying that He is not taking good care of me.

When I recognize this lie, I can target the real problem in my spirit. I can reorient my thinking. God wants to transform me through the renewal of my mind (Romans 12:2).  I can choose to trust the goodness of God. I can rest in knowing that my Good Shepherd really is taking good care of me.

When I trust the goodness of God, I experience His peace.

snappa-1449520164

The light of His Presence utterly dispels the darkness of bitterness.

bitterness

May the Spirit of God enable us to keep our eyes on Jesus, to cast ourselves upon His goodness, and to rest in His immense love.

———————————–

Last call for a giveaway copy of Fervent:

prayer strategies

Just let me know by Friday, December 11, if you would like a chance to win a complimentary copy of Fervent, and I will enter your name into the drawing.

 

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Turn Your “Hit-or-Miss” Prayers into Targeted Prayer Strategies

What are your prayer strategies? Could you use some?

prayer strategies

We understand that we are in a spiritual battle. We “wrestle not with flesh and blood,” but against spiritual forces. We wage this battle through prayer, fighting on our knees.

But do we understand the need for clear battle strategies? Do we fling our prayers out in a hit-or-miss fashion, or do we have a defined plan and target?

We need focused prayer strategies which will effectively devastate the works of our spiritual enemy. But what are these strategies? And how do we get them?

To develop a successful strategy, we must
1) evaluate the methods of the enemy,
and then
2) devise a plan to counter those schemes.
The strategy is both offensive and defensive.

3 Steps to a Powerful Strategy

The enemy’s primary strategy is to deceive.  Here, then,  is how you can develop the prayer strategies that you need to be victorious:

1. What lies does the enemy tempt you to believe? What lies does he tempt your spouse or family member to believe? Identify those specific lies. Those are the specific weapons that you must oppose through prayer.

2. What truth defeats those lies? Stockpile Scriptures which specifically express the truth which will demolish the deception that the enemy is using.

3. Pray those Scriptures, and believe that truth. As you do that, you are using a definite prayer strategy to gain spiritual victory. You are fighting effectively, with precision and with power.

prayer strategies

An Example

For example, if I am struggling with discouragement, I can develop a targeted prayer strategy by using those three steps:

  1. What lie am I believing? Perhaps God’s Spirit shows me that I am believing this lie: “my success comes from visible accomplishments.”
  2. What truth defeats that lie? The Scripture says that my success lies in my obedience to Christ. My goal is to please Christ—not impress others or myself.
  3. My prayer strategy is to pray these Scriptures:

“Study this Book of Instruction continually. Meditate on it day and night so you will be sure to obey everything written in it. Only then will you prosper and succeed in all you do.” (Joshua 1:8, NLT)

“Walk in obedience” to the LORD, “so that you will be successful in all you do and wherever you do.” (1 Kings 2:3, NIV and NLT)

“Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.” (1 Corinthians 15:58, NIV)

A Helpful Resource

prayer strategies

I recently read Priscilla Shirer’s new book Fervent, which is a resource designed to accompany the movie War Room. The book’s subtitle is A Woman’s Battle Plan for Serious, Specific, and Strategic Prayer. (These strategies form a powerful battle plan for men, too!)

Priscilla does a fantastic job of examining nine definite prayer strategies, each discussed in a separate chapter. I like the way she begins each chapter with a short analysis of the enemy perspective. It is very helpful for us to grasp that! It is precisely what C.S. Lewis creatively expressed in his Screwtape Letters. When we understand the enemy’s viewpoint and objectives, we can develop powerful counter-strategies.

Next week, I will share a couple of the prayer strategies from Fervent.

A Giveaway for YouImage courtesy of digitalart at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Thanks to B&H Publishing, I have a copy of Fervent to give away. Simply leave a comment on this post if you would like to be entered into the drawing for a chance to win a copy of Fervent. This book will encourage and strengthen your prayer life.

 

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10 Commandments … for Marriage

When God made a covenant with His people at Mount Sinai, He clarified the guidelines which would best nurture a healthy relationship. The Ten Commandments were given as principles which would guard the covenant.

10 commandments

Just as there are principles which protect our relationship with God, our Covenant Partner, so there are principles which protect our relationship with our earthly covenant partner. The guidelines are very similar since the two covenants are parallel relationships.

May I suggest, then, the Ten Commandments for Marriage?

Click HERE to continue reading.

Image courtesy of digitalart at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

And the winner is …

We have a winner for the 25 Questions book giveaway! Moody Publishers will be mailing a copy of Juli Slattery’s new book to MELISSA soon. 🙂

To all of you who entered the drawing, thank you for participating.

___________________________________

Mailbox image is courtesy of digitalart at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

 

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Questions about Sex and Marriage (Part 3)

Today, I would like to share one last peek into Juli Slattery’s new book, 25 Questions You’re Afraid to Ask about Love, Sex, and Intimacy. Last week, I discussed a couple of those questions about sex and marriage, and today I would like to look at the last two:

questions about sex and marriage

Chapter 24: How do we fight without hurting each other?

After hearing many marriage experts say that fighting is an unavoidable part of marriage, I am cheering to hear Dr. Slattery say that fighting is actually optional. Yes! It is inevitable that two different people will have two different perspectives, but fighting is optional.

That is some good news to share! There are healthy ways to work through differences without resorting to fighting.

Here are several quotes from this chapter:

Most important issues in a marriage don’t have to be resolved today. … Although it may feel like you need resolution, find your own peace in bringing the issue before the Lord before seeking peace with your spouse. (page 203)

God is teaching me that I could win every argument and still lose my marriage. That perspective helps me practice the self-control and humility required to do conflict well. (205)

Switching from a pattern of fighting … means refusing to make your spouse the enemy and being patient to wait until the right time and setting to talk the issues through in a loving manner.  (206)

You’ll get no fight from me on those points.

Chapter 25: Why wouldn’t God want me to be happy?

This kind of thinking can really trip us up, can’t it?

Here are some of Juli’s thoughts on this topic:

My friend, it requires great faith living within our fallen world to believe that honoring God with every relationship and sexual choice is worthwhile. You may be teased, mocked, and have some lonely seasons. Even then, your loving Father is for your deepest joy. (215)

The question is not about how much God loves you, but how much you love Him. … It is in loving Him and seeking Him that you will find your greatest happiness. (215)

Yes, that’s right! God longs to love us better than we could ever love ourselves. We can trust Him.

questions about sex and marriage

Again, I recommend this very practical book by Juli Slattery.

How you live out your sexuality may seem like a personal decision, but it also tells the world what you believe about God. (214)

I have one copy of 25 Questions to give away, courtesy of Moody Publishers. If you are interested in a chance to win, simply leave a comment on this post or reply by email. You may enter the drawing more than once, but no later than November 10.

Blessings to you,
Tami

 

 

 

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25 Questions (Part 2)

Last week, I recommended to you Juli Slattery’s new book, 25 Questions You’re Afraid to Ask about Love, Sex, and Intimacy.

Today and again next week, I want to share several of Juli’s gracious answers to those awkward questions.

9780802413420

Chapter 1: What’s the big deal about sex?

I was interested to read Juli’s basic “theology” of sex. If someone does not have this foundational piece well-grounded in Biblical truth, then the other pieces may not be solid, either. However, I think Juli is right-on-track with statements such as these:

“[Y]our sexuality is inseparable from your spirituality. In fact, every sexual choice is also a spiritual choice. Sex isn’t just about sex.” (p. 16)

The “walls we build between the sexual and spiritual are only imagery.Confusion and hidden pain related to sex is intricately intertwined with our present relationship with God.” (16)

“God created sex and the covenant of marriage to be a brilliant metaphor of how deeply He knows us and longs for us to know Him.” (16)

“Sexual intimacy is a powerful picture of the gospel—of the degree of intimacy and ecstasy we are capable of having with God.” (17)

What an important understanding! Sex has physical components, obviously, but it is an immensely powerful force—for good or for evil—because of its spiritual dimension. We cannot determine whether particular sexual practices and attitudes are healthy or destructive without knowing that physical marriage parallels spiritual covenant. Unfortunately, in our culture and even in many churches, this is a completely foreign concept.

Chapter 16: How can I compete with porn?

MIM_WRAP_2015-03
Click on the graphic for a great list of resources for combating porn.

I want to highlight this question because October 25-31 is WRAP week, designed to focus on the fight against pornography. Porn is a vicious destroyer of marriages, families, and everyone it touches.

Longing for intimacy and affection, many wives feel they must compete with porn. However, this is a phony set-up. Porn does not provide true intimacy and has nothing to do with affection. (By the way, the ministry that Juli Slattery now leads is called Authentic Intimacy.)

In this chapter on porn, Juli writes:

“Ironically, porn can’t even compete with itself. A man using porn doesn’t go back to the same picture or video, but always wants something new …. However, we must remember that porn is NOT intimacy; it is a cheap counterfeit. Your husbands needs more than sex; he was designed for intimacy.” (134)

Juli also provides this encouraging reminder:

“As rampant as pornography and sexual addictions have become, God is still in the business of healing.” (135)

So, how do you compete with porn? You don’t! When you discover mold in your walls, do you try to compete? Of course not. Porn is not something to compete with; it is something to fight against. It is something to resist and defeat.

Interested in a copy of 25 Questions?Image courtesy of digitalart at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Compliments of Moody Publishers, I am able to give away one copy of 25 Questions.  If you would like a chance to receive this book, simply leave a reply to this post (or email me), and your name will be entered into the drawing. You may enter more than once.

Blessings to you!
Tami

 

————————————————————————-
Image courtesy of digitalart at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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25 Questions about Sex (and 25 Great Answers!)

Hot-off-the-presses of Moody Publishers is this new book by Dr. Juli Slattery:

25 Questions You’re Afraid to Ask about Love, Sex, and Intimacy.

25 Questions

If Juli’s name is familiar to you, you may recall that Dr. Slattery was Dr. Dobson’s cohost on Focus on the Family from 2010-2012. A clinical psychologist, Juli has been married for almost 20 years, and she is the mother of three boys.

25 Questions

25 Questions You’re Afraid to Ask is easy to read and well organized. Each chapter in this paperback book is fairly short. (The longest is only nine pages.) Written in a stand-alone style, the chapters may be read in any order. The material is very practical and certainly relevant to many. Although the book addresses women, much of the discussion would be just as applicable to men.

Do I recommend this book?

Absolutely.

I recommend 25 Questions because Juli’s counsel is solidly grounded in Scripture. We may ask the 25 questions with fear, but Juli answers them with grace and insight.

Juli treads a couple “gray areas” more tentatively than I would. Once or twice, she uses a broader brush than I would have chosen, but I agree with her conclusions. Her advice is godly, springing not only from personal experience and extensive counseling, but especially from the wisdom of Scripture.

Here are some of the questions that we’re afraid to ask:

  1. What’s the big deal about sex?
  2. Who are you to judge my sexual choices?
  3. Can I be single and sexual?
  4. Is it wrong to like sex?
  5. And I waited for this?
  6. Why do guys care so much about sex?
  7. Is ____ okay in the bedroom? (You fill in the blank!)
  8. What do my temptations say about me?
  9. How do I get past my shame?
  10. How do I know he is the one?
  11. How far is too far?
  12. Is living together a good test run for marriage?
  13. What if I’m attracted to someone else?
  14. How can I compete with porn?
  15. Can I be godly and gay?
  16. How do I rebuild trust after a betrayal?
  17. Does forgiveness mean I’ll be hurt again?
  18. What if I don’t like sex?
  19. How do I make time to make love?
  20. How do we fight without hurting each other?
  21. Why wouldn’t God want me to be happy?

Over the next couple weeks, I will be sharing a few “choice nuggets” from 25 Questions and summarizing several of Juli’s responses.

Blessings to you!
Tami

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The ABC’s of Praise

the ABC's of praise

On the Thursday prayer call recently, we “entered His courts” by thinking through the letters of the alphabet in order to list praiseworthy things about God. I like to use this simple method because it quickly brings to mind many words that I can use to express my gratitude and adoration. You might like to try this, too!

the ABC's of praise

ABC's of praise

1590NQYUV2XEYI

1590I1K2XTNX69

15904F5RZXHCKF

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7 Traits of a Great Husband

Do you know the traits of a great husband?

Do you know where these 7 characteristics are listed in the Bible?

I would like to nominate Psalm 23 as “The Husband Chapter” of the Old Testament. The Good Shepherd provides a fantastic model for godly husbands.

Click HERE to read more.

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Friendship with God

There is nothing more awesome than friendship with God!

We cannot earn our way to God, but we can accept His amazing proposal to us of unfailing friendship.

Here’s how:

If you’d like to learn more about having a friendship with God, please feel free to ask.

Blessings to you,
Tami

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5 Smooth Pebbles for You (printable Scriptures)

For you today:

I would like to share  five Scriptures that I pray will be an encouragement, refreshment, and strength to you.

When David prepared to meet the fierce giant Goliath,  he put five smooth pebbles in his pouch for his slingshot.  We need to do the same thing!  As we encounter spiritual opposition, our best weapon is the powerful truth of Scripture.

If you would like to print a PDF of these Scriptures, click HERE.

Blessings to you,
Tami

Scriptures Psalm 84:11
Scriptures Psalm 113:3 (photo credit: Mary McKee)


Scriptures Job 42:2

 

Scriptures Zephaniah 3:17

 

Scriptures Psalm 138:8

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“War Room”

I saw War Room last night.

war room

This new movie has a fantastic message:

PRAY FOR YOUR MARRIAGE!

The right way to fight in marriage is by fighting on our knees through prayer. We want to fight for our spouses, not against them. We must ask God to fight the real enemy, the spiritual forces of darkness.

Elizabeth, the praying wife in War Room, reads these amazing words in James 4:7:

Submit yourselves, then, to God.
Resist the devil, and he will flee from you” (NIV).

As she ponders that incredible promise, Elisabeth sets a beautiful example of submitting herself to God in prayer. She then proceeds to resist Satan by shouting at him, which I am not ready to endorse as the best means of resisting Satan. Although she says that now she is going to let God do the fighting for her, Elisabeth actually tries to do a little direct fighting herself. The Warrior Wife tells Satan, “Go back to hell, where you belong!” It seems to me that that directive should come from Christ. I prefer to follow the example of Michael, the powerful archangel. In a dispute with Satan, Michael “did not dare bring an abusive condemnation against him but said, ‘The Lord rebuke you!'” (Jude 1:9, HCSB).

I am not wanting to be critical. I just want to add this surprising and encouraging truth:

Our submission to God IS resistance to the devil.

Pushing into God is pushing back against the enemy. We sometimes spend a lot of time and energy trying to hold the door closed against Satan. We might forget that our victory comes from something else: it comes from yielding entirely to the Spirit, allowing His Presence and Power to fill us so completely that nothing else can intrude. In other words, instead of trying to hold the door shut against the enemy, I can lay myself down in openness to the Spirit.

I encourage you to see War Room.

I am delighted to see a movie playing in the theatres that honors God, that seeks to strengthen marriages, and that promotes Scripture-based, persistent prayer.

war room

Most of all, I encourage you to pray!

Let’s pray for our own hearts. Let’s pray for our marriages and families. Let’s pray for the people that God has placed in our lives.

And let’s pray the Scriptures. In doing so, our will becomes one with God’s will, and through that unity, power is unleashed, miracles are birthed, and ashes are turned into beauty.

I also invite you to join our ongoing “war room” every Thursday (at 12:30, Eastern time). For 15 minutes, we “fight on our knees” for our marriages and families. Join online or by phone.

Battle on!

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Ready for a Challenge?

Here’s one that will strengthen your marriage:  a 30-day prayer challenge.

prayer challenge

During the month of September, FamilyLife is offering a “Oneness Prayer Challenge.” For 30 days, FamilyLife will text or email to you a short devotional and prayer that you and your spouse can share together.

One of the most powerful things you can do for your marriage is to pray with your spouse. One study found that praying together reduces the rate of divorce to less than 1 in 1,000. Wow!

Praying together seems like a simple thing to do, doesn’t it? Well, it may be simple in concept, but it can be difficult to implement!

If you have not yet established a praying-together habit with your spouse, the Oneness Challenge will be a great help in getting started with that. After 30 days, you will have created a habit that will bless your marriage for a lifetime!

Praying together does not have to take a lot of time. Start with just 2 or 3 minutes.

And praying together does not have to be intimidating. You might begin by simply holding hands and praying together silently. When you are comfortable with that, try reading a short prayer aloud. Progress from there.

If you and your spouse already pray together,  the daily devotionals in the Oneness Challenge will encourage you, and the prayers will add a fresh richness to your own.

If your spouse is not willing to pray with you, you can still benefit from using the Oneness Challenge as you pray for your marriage.

“The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results.”
James 5:16, NLT

You can sign-up here to receive the 30-day Oneness Challenge by email or text:  Prayer Challenge.

Praying with you!

 

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Top 10 Tips for Marriage [with graphic]

What are your best marriage tips?

I recently listed my top 10 tips for marriage here: 10 Simple-but-Powerful Ways to Build Your Marriage.

The article explains each tip, but this chart gives a summary of the ten points:

top 10 tips for marriage

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What would you add to that list? I would be interested to hear your suggestions.

Blessings to you,
Tami

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Forgiveness as Resurrection

Jesus was not the first person to be raised from the dead.

forgivenessHis disciples had seen Lazarus walk out of a tomb after being dead for four days. They had seen Jesus lift a dead boy out of his coffin and back into life.

But as amazing as those things were, they did not affect the disciples the way the resurrection of Jesus did. Seeing the resurrected Christ changed His followers dramatically. They became obsessed with the resurrection of Christ. The resurrection  became the basis for their faith and the driving force for their lives.

The resurrection of Christ is absolutely unique in all of history:

Others were raised from the dead, but Jesus Christ raised Himself.[i]

He defeated death from within.

Before He died, Jesus made this startling prediction: “Destroy this temple [that is, my body], and in three days I will raise it up” (John 2:19-22, NIV). Jesus told His disciples, “No one takes [my life] from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again” (John 10:18, NIV).

forgiveness

Christ chose to walk into death and then to walk back out, demonstrating a power greater than the power of death. Lazarus and others were given a temporary reprieve from death: they were retrieved from death for a while, but then they died again.

But Christ won more than a postponement; He actually conquered death. He faced it head-on and completely dominated it.

The core of our faith, just like that of the early believers, is the Resurrection of Christ. Death is the fierce power of our sin, but there is a power that is even greater: the purity, the deity, and the love of Christ constitute an absolutely unsurpassed power.

We sometimes fear that forgiving means surrender or passivity. Nothing could be farther from the truth:

Forgiveness is looking evil in the eye, calling it what it is, and then proclaiming victory.

Forgiveness rises taller and stronger than the evil that came against it. It removes the “sting” of evil by removing the harm from the hurt[ii]. It removes the poison of bitterness and the curse of resentment.
forgivenessWhen we are hurt by others, we experience something like a death: there is a kind of grieving, perhaps the ending of a relationship as it had been, and there may even be—as Lazarus’ sister pointed out—a “bad smell” to the whole affair. But forgiveness says, “This is not the end of the story.”

After His crucifixion, the body of Christ was placed in a borrowed tomb, not His own. Similarly, forgiving involves walking into someone else’s evil, not our own. We stand for a moment in the dark “tomb” of someone else’s sin, but then, like Christ, we choose to walk out into the garden, where the Spirit makes all things new.AAM8X0DRXY

This is why Christ-followers must forgive:

Forgiveness is the Resurrection again.

A49952BF7AForgiveness is first the Cross raised as an identifying banner over us. Forgiveness is then the Resurrection, demonstrating the power of the Spirit of God within us. He brings the power to obliterate evil and to transform ashes into beauty.

3C2AEB6A2A

When given the opportunity to forgive, we can respond to our debtors with these truths in our hearts:

You hurt me, but I will not hurt you back.

My willingness to forgive you is my willingness for God to forgive me.

When God poured out the riches of His grace to me, He included all the grace that I would need to pass on to you.

I do not seek your punishment. I seek your redemption and your healing.

5FS7RIUMKC

How has forgiveness brought Resurrection power into your life?

{Read Part One of this series here: A Spiritual WMD.
Read Part Two here: Forgiveness as Self-Help?
And read Part Three here: Forgiveness: A Power Way to Hold Out the Cross.}

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[i] The Resurrection was an awesome performance of the Trinity, the Son acting in concert with the Father (Galatians 1:1) and the Spirit (Romans 8:11).
[ii] 1 Corinthians 15:55

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Forgiveness: A Powerful Way to Hold Out the Cross

Bitterness can destroy us.

We understand that.

But do we understand why? Why does our refusal to forgive cause such serious harm to us?

Unforgiveness deforms us because it is rooted in a lie.

As with all sin, it binds us in spiritual enslavement because bitterness denies the truth that sets us free.

Resentment denies the truth of Deuteronomy 23:5, which says that God turns curses into blessings for us because He loves us.

forgiveness

It denies the truth of Jeremiah 29:11 and Job 42:2, which assure us that God’s plans for us are good and that they cannot be thwarted.

forgiveness

Bitterness also denies this startling truth: as forgiven Christ-followers, we do not have the right not to forgive. The liberating truth is that the spiritual work of atonement is finished. Physical consequences may still apply, but spiritual justice has been satisfied.

Bitterness cries out for justice. Forgiveness recognizes that spiritual justice has been served.

Forgiveness is not a matter of deciding not to press charges; it is a matter of recognizing that charges have already been settled. As I recognize that a penalty has already been paid, I can say to the one who has wronged me, “You do not owe me.” Spirit to spirit, there is no debt. Insisting on payment would actually be further injustice.

At the foot of the Cross, I stand next to those who have wronged me, for we are all sinners alike. If the blood flowing down from the pierced body of Christ is insufficient to reach my debtors beside me, then it does not reach me, either, for my sins against God far exceed the sins committed against me.

forgivenessForgiveness is full of power because it is full of truth: it is agreeing with God that the debt has been paid.

Justice has been written with whips and nails across the flesh of Christ. The full wrath of God poured out at Calvary even as red blood poured out.

Forgiveness is not something we choose to do as much as it is something we acknowledge: we recognize that the punishment for every wrong and every evil has been lashed and deeply striped across the back of Jesus.

The choice we must make is not whether or not we will forgive:

The choice we must make is whether or not we will be people of the Cross. If we choose to stand in the shadow of the Cross, then every facet of our lives also comes under that shadow of atonement.

Forgiveness, then, is not an isolated event or an extraordinary choice that we make. It is the air we breathe as believers; it is the rule of the Kingdom. It is the seamless way we live, for the Forgiving God lives within us. To deny forgiveness to someone else is to quench the Spirit within us.

It is not being wronged that disrupts the well-being of our spirits; the festering infection within us is our refusal to forgive. When I struggle to forgive someone, I am not wrestling with the one who wronged me as much as I am wrestling with the God who forgave me. My bitterness is my own rebellion against God.

God forgives us not because He denies our wrong or excuses it. He forgives our evil because He has paid the price for it. In fact, Hebrews 9:22 tells us that without the shedding of blood, there is no forgiveness. Every time we forgive, we are holding out the Cross and saying again, “It is finished.” The paying is finished.

It is the power of the Cross of Christ to move us from a place of punishment to a place of redemption. The work of transformation and restoration remains, but the work of atonement is finished.

forgivenessAs we forgive, we move from seeking punishment to seeking redemption.

Forgiving is the stamp of the Spirit upon our spirit, and it a powerful new proclaiming of the gospel. This “good news” declares that, although evil has been committed, justice has been satisfied. What remains is an invitation to healing and restoration.

Forgiveness says, “Although I have been hurt, I will not hurt you back.”

Forgiveness also says, “I will not feel sorry for myself.” This is possible because we know that God redeems our pain fully. “For our momentary light affliction is producing for us an absolutely incomparable eternal weight of glory” (2 Corinthians 4:17, HSCB).

I do not have to deny my pain or someone else’s evil in order to forgive. I do not have to wrestle with my emotions. Instead, I simply lay down the stone that I had wanted to throw in punishment, I walk away from my pity party, and I stand in the shadow of the Cross. And suddenly, I realize that I have forgiven.

The apostle Paul asked his friend Philemon to forgive Onesimus, the slave who had stolen from Philemon. Paul made this remarkable promise to Philemon:

If [Onesimus] has wronged you in any way or owes you anything, charge it to me. I, PAUL, WRITE THIS WITH MY OWN HAND: I WILL REPAY IT. AND I WON’T MENTION THAT YOU OWE ME YOUR VERY SOUL![i]

Paul was saying, “You can forgive this debt, Philemon, because I will pay it.” Paul said this because he knew that God had said the same thing to him.

When we are wronged, we can hear God say these very words to us, too. We can forgive our debtors because God has promised to repay us. He will repay what has been taken from us—and even more.

(This is the third in a series on forgiveness.  You can read Part One here: A Spiritual WMD, Part Two here: Forgiveness as Self-Help?
and Part Four here: Forgiveness as Resurrection.)

 

[i] Philemon 18-19, NLT

 

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The Best Foundation for Marriage

MIMZ4PUM2FWhat creates the strongest base for an enduring, successful marriage?

We try to build our marriages on all kinds of things: on romance, on pleasure, on personal fulfillment, on financial gain, … but our success rate is not very good.

The best foundation is actually so solid that it has two layers: 1) a reliance upon Christ to meet our needs, and
2) a commitment to serve our spouse.

Click to read more: “The Double-Layered Foundation for Marriage.”

Blessings to you,
Tami

MannaforMarriage_final

 

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The Glory of Femininity

What is true femininity? How can it strengthen our marriages?

Recently, I offered my salute to masculinity. Today I would like to honor femininity.

Every woman has a great strength to bring to her marriage: the “superpower” of femininity. femininityBy femininity, I do not mean pink, ruffles, or lace.

It is the great strength of femininity to offer warm welcome and deep acceptance.

{Click HERE to read more.}

As women embrace godly femininity, they regain not only a forgotten strength but also a God-revealing glory.

Blessings to you,
Tami
MannaforMarriage_final

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Forgiveness as Self-Help?

Last week, I discussed forgiveness as a “weapon of mass destruction,” recognizing its immense spiritual power.  Today, I would like to continue with this theme of forgiveness, evaluating its current popularity as  therapeutic self-help. (If you missed last week’s post, you can read it HERE.)

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Trendy Self-Help

Interestingly, forgiveness has received a lot of positive press lately in mainstream culture. “Forgiveness is good for you” is a trending theme promoted by all kinds of secular sources, including physicians, psychologists, news outlets, and entertainment media. We can appreciate and even applaud this surge of support for forgiveness.

However, if we forgive only for our own sakes, then the power of forgiveness is stunted. True forgiveness is not primarily a self-help strategy, although we do benefit when we forgive. The tremendous dynamo of forgiveness is activated most fully when our motivation is grounded in truth and in love.

Diluting and Defusing Forgiveness

forgivenessIf we dilute our forgiveness by forgiving others for our own gain, then we lessen the impact of love upon the wrongdoer. We defuse the spiritual combustion that could have wreaked greater havoc on enemy forces.

Leslie Leyland Fields has written about the “therapeutic forgiveness message,” quoting those who say, “Forgiveness is a gift you give yourself.” She recalls Jesus’s parable of the unmerciful servant who was forgiven a large debt but who then refused to forgive someone else’s small debt:

That man with massive debts who is called before the king is us. We’re hopeless before the holy King. We stand there shoulder to shoulder with every other debtor, even those who owe us money and honor and … love. … Our only hope is the King himself, and he does it. He clears our debts entirely. … [The man in the parable] misses this essential fact: Forgiveness is not for his personal freedom and happiness alone. It’s to bring freedom and restoration to all, especially to those who owe him. … We may begin the journey of forgiveness to ease our own burdens. But along the way we discover a chance to live out the fullness of the gospel: loving the unlovely, forgiving seventy times seven. In so doing, we reflect the kingdom of God among us.[i]

Self-Help for God?

forgivenessDoes God forgive us so that He can give Himself a gift? No, at great cost to Himself, He forgives us so that we can receive a gift. He forgives us so that we can be changed through the power of love.

When we are given opportunities to forgive, we are being privileged to reflect God in a dramatic way.

 

(Read more about forgiveness HERE: “Forgiveness is the Gospel.”)

[i] “What We Forgot About Forgiveness.” Christianity Today. May 2014. 30-35.

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A Spiritual WMD

You’ve heard of a “weapon of mass destruction.”  Do you think there could be something like a spiritual WMD?

forgivenessI recently read the astonishing biography of Jacob DeShazer, one of the courageous Doolittle Raiders.[i] Led by Lieutenant Colonel James Doolittle, these American airmen were the first to bomb Japan after the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor in 1941. When DeShazer’s plane crashed after the raid, he was captured by the Japanese and tortured as a POW for 40 months. Through reading a Bible, Jacob became a follower of Christ and “a new creation.”[ii] After the war ended, Jacob was able to express love and sincere forgiveness to his former cruel guards and to the Japanese people.

Captain Fuchida was the Japanese airman who had led the attack on Pearl Harbor. After the war, Captain Fuchida was convinced that everyone, regardless of nationality, was motivated by revenge toward one’s enemies. However, as he tried to gather evidence of this, he was astounded to learn that DeShazer and other Christians were showing kindness and extending forgiveness to those who had mistreated them. When DeShazer returned to Japan as a missionary in 1948, Captain Fuchida was eager to speak with him.

What happened then is incredible: DeShazer, an American who had been part of the first bombing of Japan, was able to lead to Christ the Japanese man who had led the attack on Pearl Harbor! The spiritual explosion of forgiveness had transformed hatred into love. Together, Jacob DeShazer and Captain Fuchida shared the gospel with thousands of Japanese, many of whom also accepted Christ as their Lord.

When Christ died on the cross, the most profound fission in the universe occurred as the Father was separated from the Son.

This breaking-apart of the triune God was far more fantastic than the splitting of an atom. What a massive explosion occurred in the spiritual realm! It is no wonder that darkness fell across the land and the ground shook.forgiveness

The power generated by that fission destroyed the fierce stranglehold of Death upon men and women. As Wesley Hill puts it, the death of Christ “broke death’s power forever because it was the death of the Deathless One.”[iii]

The immense release of Divine Energy at Calvary was sufficient to fulfill the old covenant of earning and, at the same time, to establish the new covenant of receiving. Just as a split rock released thirst-quenching water for the ancient Israelites, so the broken body of God released life-saving atonement for a dying humanity.

The rending of the heart of God preceded the stunning cohesion of reconciliation. Just as extreme nuclear reactions often involve both fission and fusion, so the spiritual dynamics of forgiveness also involve both fission and fusion. When we forgive, we must forcefully separate from our natural desire for retaliation and revenge. We then yield to a fusion of our will with the will of God. This is not a passive, insignificant act: this creates a powerful reaction in the spiritual realm.

Each time we forgive through the work of the Spirit, there is a devastation of the works of the enemy.forgiveness

Not only are forces of darkness defeated, but there is also a mighty unleashing of spiritual energy for our own healing, for the redemption of others, and for the restoration of relationships.

If we want to strike a crippling blow against satanic forces–if we want to advance the kingdom of God–then let’s bring out the “big guns” and forgive. Let’s unleash the explosive light of forgiveness so that the forces of darkness are trounced.

How has forgiveness been powerful in your life?

Blessings to you,
Tami

(This is the first segment in a series on forgiveness. Click HERE to read Part Two: “Forgiveness as Self-Help?”)

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[i] Jacob DeShazer: Forgive Your Enemies. 2009. YWAM.

[ii] 2 Corinthians 5:17

[iii]The Best Christian Paradox.” Christianity Today. May 2015. 28.

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#LoveWins ?

The President got a bit emotional this morning over the Supreme Court’s decision to legalize homosexual unions.

I did, too.

In fact, I cried. I am absolutely brokenhearted that this nation would willingly deprive children of a mother or a father—not only deprive the children, but tell them that it is no loss.#LoveWins

Many are celebrating today that #LoveWins. But who wins when a child is willfully deprived of a mother or a father? This is only loss, and it is loss for everyone. This is something to be grieved.

#LoveWins

“What sorrow for those who say that evil is good and good is evil, that dark is light and light is dark, that bitter is sweet and sweet is bitter” (Isaiah 5:20, NLT).

With respect and compassion, I say that so-called “gay marriage” is neither gay nor marriage. It has no threads of dignity or health; it has no fabric of life; it has no cloth to cover shame. It is no garment of glory.

There are cheering crowds, yes. There is much applause, yes.

But the emperor has no clothes on.

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Image courtesy of tiverylucky at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

 

 

 

 

 

 

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“Fight Back with Joy”

Last week, I mentioned a new book entitled, Fight Back with Joy. However, I did not get any farther than the title! 🙂 Today, I’d like to share a bit more with you about this book by Margaret Feinberg.

fight back with joyNot long ago, Margaret began focusing on joy as her “word of the year.” After several months of pondering and pursuing joy, Margaret learned that she had cancer. God had lovingly and wisely equipped Margaret with a new weapon before she entered the brutal battlefield of dealing with cancer.

Joy proved to be a formidable weapon, indeed. It was not always the emotional cheer that Margaret would have liked, but it was also deeper and more fierce than she had realized.

The book is easy to read, thought-provoking, and encouraging. Here are 12 quotes which I appreciated from Fight Back with Joy:

1. The Bible insists that joy is more than a feeling; it’s an action. We don’t just sense joy; we embody it by how we respond to the circumstances before us. (page 19)

2. What is the genesis of this joy? I believe that, at its core, joy emanates from the abiding sense of God’s fierce love for us. (19)

3. The astonishing love of God found in the relational Dance of the Trinity is brimming with delight. (21)

4. You are founded in joy, created for joy, and destined for joy. Joy is where you come from. Joy is what you are created to experience. Joy is where you are headed. (23)

5. Joy is a far more dynamic, forceful weapon than most of us realize. The abiding sense that you are fiercely loved by God? That kind of joy empowers you to rise above any circumstance. (23)

6. [It is important] to mourn well. The process of mourning is like a long exhale. Expelling sorrow can feel like it’s emptying us of life, but it’s crucial to breathing joy more deeply. (72)

7. When we don’t allow ourselves to grieve well, something inside us dies. … We may not feel as much pain, but we also don’t feel as much joy. Our spiritual vitality depends on our ability to mourn the notable losses in life…. (79)

8. When done well, the tears of mourning become a river that washes away our pain, a holy stream carrying us toward healing, wholeness, and joy. (81)

9. [Celebration] is a discipline. Sometimes you have to will yourself to do it. (90)

10. Celebration is a discipline. But it’s also divine. (93)

11. Most days rejoicing didn’t make us feel better. Some moments buoyed our spirits, and laced us with smiles that attracted new friends. More often it opened the floodgates of tears. Joy is an action, something we can do, regardless of what our emotions may reveal. (107-108)

fight back with joy12. Like a fistful of red balloons, joy picks us up when life knocks us down. … Not only does joy enhance our stride in life, but it also shouts, “Look up!” (132)

God has overflowing joy for us. We can trust that. I agree with Margaret that our joy springs, first of all, from knowing that we are deeply, unfailingly loved by God. It then deepens as we know (experience) Christ more and more.

As C.S. Lewis said, “Joy is the serious business of heaven.” In other words, God is committed to joy! For believers, earthly life is preparation for entrance into our Master’s joy (Matthew 25:21). All of history is being shaped and funneled for the fullness of joy (Psalm 16:11): God and His people will delight in one another without end.

How do you practice the discipline of joy? How do you grieve in healthy ways? I would love to hear your thoughts.

Blessings of joy to you,
Tami

(Click HERE for last week’s post, “Is Joy a Weapon?”)

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Photo credits:
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Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

 

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Is Joy a Weapon?

The word “fight” is what caught my attention.

Fight Back with Joy is Margaret Feinberg’s latest book.[i] As you may know, I am passionate about fighting on our knees for our marriages and families, and I am convinced that worship is a powerful weapon in spiritual battle. When I saw Fight Back with Joy, I was eager to consider joy as another important weapon.

But is joy really a spiritual weapon? As I pondered that question, I focused on Nehemiah 8:10: “The joy of the LORD is my strength.” My thinking followed these successive steps:

1. The word used here in Nehemiah for “strength” is maowz, which means “place or means of safety, protection, refuge, stronghold” (Strong’s H4581). Maowz is sometimes translated as “fortress.” The prophet Jeremiah wrote, “LORD, you are my strength and fortress [maowz], my refuge in the day of trouble!” (16:19, NLT)

2. This means that the joy of the LORD is our refuge; it is a place of protection. In fact, the HCSB translates Nehemiah 8:10 like this: “Do not grieve, because the joy of the Lord is your stronghold.”

When we let go of joy, we make ourselves vulnerable to the enemy.

3. So … if joy is a weapon, then perhaps it is a shield, which offers protection. Roman soldiers had shields which would completely cover them, protecting them from attacks above or from the side.

4. The apostle Paul said that our faith functions as a spiritual shield. Could joy be a part of our faith? It is! It is a core piece, just as metal was sometimes the core piece of a Roman shield.

Joy is the faith that God loves us passionately and personally, intensely and intimately. Joy is the faith that God will keep His covenant promises to us without fail. Our conviction that we can trust God implicitly is what protects us from the schemes of the enemy.

Joy is not an emotion, although it can be expressed as an emotion. Joy is something we do: joy is choosing to believe that God loves us.

Perhaps we can say that joy is like the inner layer of metal within an ancient shield, adding strength to the wood and leather.joy

5. If joy is a weapon, then it is a shield of defense. We can choose to keep ourselves within the refuge of joy, keeping our thoughts and spirits deeply sheltered within the love of Christ—a love that is so wide and long and high and deep that it covers us fully and endlessly (Ephesians 3:18).

6. In researching Roman shields, I learned that the ancient shield was not only defensive but also offensive. How interesting! In fact, some claim that the Roman shield was primarily offensive. It was actually used to punch the enemy. It was the Roman soldier’s “main weapon.”[ii]

So … if joy is a shield, then it is also offensive. I love that! We do not only protect ourselves through joy, but we also advance through joy. We come against the enemy—we overcome the enemy–when we practice tenacious joy.

Here is how we “punch the enemy” with a shield of joy:

We will believe that God loves us. (Pow!) We will believe that God is actively loving us right now in this situation. (Crash!) We will believe that God’s love in unfailing. (Wham!) We will believe that God’s love for us is perfect, wise, and powerful. (Boom!) We will believe that God withholds no good thing from those who belong to Him. (Smash!)

7. So … yes, I think that joy is a weapon. Our shield of faith, strengthened with a core of joy, is a powerful spiritual weapon. As we believe truth, including the truths of love which strengthen us with joy, we are well equipped for victorious battle.

Ann Voskamp puts it this way:

The joy of the Lord is your strength and the person of Christ is your unassailable joy – and the battle for joy is nothing less than fighting the good fight of faith.[iii]

Take up your shield of faith, with its strong core of joy, and watch God win!

 

[i]  Worthy Publishing. 2015.

[ii] http://web.utk.edu/~cohprima/scutum.html. Accessed 6-6-15.

[iii] http://www.aholyexperience.com/2015/06/when-you-want-to-thrive-instead-of-just-barely-survive/

(Shield) Image courtesy of vectorolie at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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Forget Your Marriage!

Forget your marriage.

Forget working on your checklist for the ideal marriage.

focus in marriage

Instead, focus on your spouse.

Trying to achieve a certain kind of marriage can make us crazy.  It can be very discouraging. But a lot of that hard work is misdirected energy. We are actually off-target when we focus on the marriage itself.

We have been called to love someone, not to create a particular kind of marriage. We do not take our marriages with us to heaven. We take people with us to heaven.

Focus on loving your spouse, serving according to his or her needs as God directs. As a result, your marriage will be blessed. But turning your eyes away from your spouse to focus on the marriage itself will bring frustration and disappointment.

We thrive when we stop trying to manipulate our marriages, and instead focus on valuing our spouses. They are the real treasures. Your husband is the real treasure. Your wife is the real treasure.

focus in marriage

Forget your marriage. Instead, focus on your ministry as a spouse.

When we stand before God, we will not be evaluated by the type of marriages we had. We will be accountable, however, for the way we ministered as wives or as husbands.

We torment ourselves with continually measuring our marriages against our version of the perfect marriage. We can live free from that! Instead of evaluating our marriages, we want to evaluate ourselves as wives or husbands. Let’s pray for insight into the needs of our covenant partners, and then let’s ask God to enable us to minister to those needs according to His wisdom and purposes.

     FORGET THIS:                                  FOCUS ON THIS:

  • grumbling                                                                  *gratitude
  • changing your spouse                                          *accepting your spouse
  • evaluating your marriage                                    *evaluating yourself as a spouse
  • controlling your spouse                                       *serving your spouse
  • judging, which is claiming to know                 *examining the motives of your heart
    the motives of someone else’s heart
  • pursuing your own agenda                                 *pursuing Christ, the One who fully                                                                                                         satisfies your deepest longings

 

(This material is adapted from Radiance: Secrets to Thriving in Marriage.)

Blessings to you,
Tami

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Images courtesy of Ambro at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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You can find “Forget Your Marriage!” and other helpful articles on marriage at the link-up here:
WWbutton175

 

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Have no FoMO!

Have you heard about FoMO?

The “Fear of Missing Out” is the latest trend. This phobia can cause endless checking of social media, as well as feelings of anxiety and depression. But Christ-followers have no need to take part in the FoMO fad because we have this fantastic promise from God:

no FoMO

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Psalm 84:11 assures us that we will not miss out on even one good thing if we are following Christ.

But we are often tempted to feel that God is holding out on us, aren’t we?  We think, if only God would give me the good thing of better health; if only He would give me the good thing of that relationship I want; if only He would give me the good thing of more money or a different job. We wonder how we can get God to just let us have that good thing that He is holding back from us.

But when we believe that God is withholding a blessing from us, our thoughts are rooted in deception. God withholds no good thing from those who follow hard after Him.

There is no generosity like the generosity of God toward His people. He is absolutely lavish in His love.

We can trust Him.

We can trust Him with our marriages. We can trust His instructions to us. We can trust His plans. We can trust Him with our needs, with our disappointments, and with our longings. We can trust Him with our lives.

Joining you in living FoMO-free,
Tami

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10 Daily Vows for Lifelong Marriages

VowsPerhaps you wore a gorgeous gown or a dashing tux when you stood before God and spoke your vows. You chose someone—out of all the people on the face of the earth—to be “the one” for you. You made noble promises on a glorious day.

And then you began the daily business of marriage. You packed the gown or returned the tux, and you filed away the vows with special-day memories.

But you probably want the same thing that I want: day-by-day efforts that grow into a decade-by-decade success. If we want our daily decisions to create lifetime legacies, then this is what we must do: every day, we must choose our spouses again. Every day—maybe even every hour—we must choose again.

Every day, we choose to be committed to our covenant partners. Every day, we choose to make them our top priorities. Every day, we choose our spouses—out of all the people on the face of the earth—to be “the one” for us.

Every day, we can make five “I will not” commitments to our spouses:   (Click HERE to continue reading this article.)

Let us keep our marriage vows, which are really promises to God. Let us break our covenant promises the day that God breaks His covenant promises to us.

On Pentecost this weekend, don’t forget to celebrate the Spirit, the One who empowers us to keep our promises.

Blessings to you,
Tami

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Image courtesy of Rosen Georgiev at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

 

 

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A Gift to Celebrate

There is a birthday coming up soon that you will not want to miss!

Did you know that “the birthday of the Church” is on May 24 this year? You may know the day better as “Pentecost” or as “the Feast of Weeks.” There are many things that I love about this holy-day, but if I had to pare it down to just one essential, I would say this:

Pentecost is a special day to thank God for the precious, powerful gift of His Spirit to every believer.

On the day of Pentecost, the Spirit came to God’s people like a mighty rushing wind. (See Acts 2.) The Spirit is not only God with us, but He is God within us! As we yield to God, His Spirit fills us just as the the beautiful glory of God filled the Old Testament tabernacle.

It is the weaving of the Spirit that allows us to abide in Christ as He abides in us. The Spirit guides us, challenges us, and comforts us. What a wonderful Gift to celebrate!

Like Pentecost, our marriages also have one essential:
the Holy Spirit.

The Spirit is the Mighty Rushing Wind in our marriages, too! It is through the Spirit that the glory of God fills our marriages. It is the Spirit who knits together one man and one woman within the one-flesh covenant. It is the Spirit who guides us to serve our spouses. It is the Breath of God who challenges us to love well and who comforts us in the painful places of our marriages.

The Spirit is the One who gives us power—the power to forgive, to honor, and to cherish (Acts 1:8). He gives us the ability to speak in other languages: He enables us to communicate love and respect in ways that our spouses can “hear” and receive (Acts 2:4). As God pours out His Spirit, there will be signs and wonders in our marriages (Acts 2:18, 19). There will be miracles of forgiveness, endurance, humility, and kindness.

It is the Spirit who oils our relationships with harmony. He is the Friend who longs to encourage the lover and his beloved, not only in the “Song of Songs,” but in every marriage.

Even if your spouse is not obedient to God, the Holy Spirit is able to pour redemption and goodness into your marriage through your yielded spirit.

What a wonderful Gift to celebrate!

LORD, I do thank You for the priceless gift of Your Spirit. How awesome that You would choose to live with me and even within me! I yield to Your rule in my marriage. Even if my spouse does not join me, I choose to yield to You. Fill my mind with Your thoughts; give me eyes to see what You see; and fill my heart with Your desires. Fill me with Your Presence so that Your glory radiates into my marriage. Amen.

A joyful celebration to you!
Tami

If you would like to learn more about Pentecost, I have written much more about it HERE and HERE.

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Image courtesy of Ambro at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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National Day of Prayer 2015

This Thursday, May 7, will be the 64th National Day of Prayer.  You can be part of this important movement as we pray together for our country.

National Day of Prayer 2015

The National Day of Prayer website offers a number of prayer resources. I am attaching two of those resources here because they are helpful in knowing how to pray specifically for our country’s leaders:
*a bookmark which lists 130 top U.S. officials by name (click HERE), and
*a prayer guide which lists 30 ways to pray for those who are in authority (click HERE).

We certainly want to be praying for the Supreme Court justices as they prepare to rule on Obergefell v. Hodges. Their decision will have a significant impact on marriages and families in this country.

The theme for this year’s National Day of Prayer is 1 Kings 8:28:
Hear the cry and the prayer that your servant is praying in your presence this day.”

And here is this year’s song:

As always, you are invited to join us this Thursday for our weekly prayer call.  We “fight on our knees” for our marriages at 12:30 (Eastern) for fifteen minutes. To join us online, click HERE on Thursday; or to join us by phone,  call 1-323-920-0091. When prompted, enter the access code 022 5211#. (Callers are in “listen-only” mode.)

How are you praying for our country?

Praying with you,
Tami

 

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Masculinity: A Salute to Men

How does an adult male become a masculine man?

masculinity

As a culture, we do not talk much about masculinity, and our little boys are becoming big boys instead of men.  We are seeing more passive males and fewer masculine men.

indian-1158803_640

Why is masculinity important?

In the beginning, “God created humans in his own image. He created them to be like himself. He created them male and female” (Genesis 1:27, ERV). Our human design as male or as female reflects something very important about God. We know that God is neither male nor female. However, He has attributes of both masculinity and femininity.

While being male or being female are components of biology, masculinity and femininity are components of relationship. The triune God encompasses full and rich relationship within the Godhead. When males live as masculine men, and when females live as feminine women, they are able to reveal more fully the glory of God. When we blur the distinctions of masculinity and femininity, we are blurring a critical piece of our knowledge of God. In the process, we also fail to know ourselves, for we have been made in His image.

In a culture which understands only the biological distinctions of male and female, people often act like animals, which are male or female but not masculine or feminine. When we reduce ourselves from “bearers of the divine image” to mere animals, we miss the glory and significance for which we were created. We also lose critically important tools for building strong relationships in our marriages.

Alone in the Garden of Eden before God created Eve, Adam was a male human being. But in relationship with his wife, Adam could be masculine. Understanding the unique strengths of both masculinity and femininity gives us an immense advantage in our marriages: not only do we gain insight into our spouses, but we also gain valuable instruction on how we can best contribute to these relationships.

While being male and female allows for physical interaction, being masculine and feminine allows for souls to be knit together.

What is the masculinity of God?

We see this type of masculinity being fleshed out through the Lover in the Song of the Songs, and we read God’s directives for masculinity in several power-packed verses in Ephesians 5. From these and other Scriptures, we learn two primary characteristics of God-revealing masculinity:

1. A masculine husband is a man of responsibility. The apostle Paul wrote that the husband is “the head” of his wife. This means that the man is to carry the weight of responsibility. God has charged the husband with nothing less than the well-being of his wife. It is the calling of a masculine man to cherish his wife, esteem her, protect her, provide for her, and love her with unconditional, tender love.

planting-865294_640Following the example of Christ the Bridegroom, a masculine husband makes it his goal to nurture his wife’s health and thriving, both outwardly and inwardly. This man does not shirk his responsibility; he stands tall to carry it well. As he shoulders the weight of this responsibility, a masculine husband gains the spiritual weight of significance and develops the strength of success.

2. A masculine husband is a man of action rather than a male of passivity. After accepting responsibility for the well-being of his wife, what does a husband do? With energy and with initiative, he acts on behalf of his wife. He moves toward his beloved to know her and to serve her. He works for her good, taking action even to the point of self-sacrifice. He lays down his self-centeredness, his self-directed interests, his self-focused energy, his self-directed time, and his own self-guided preferences. He knows that loving his wife well is the best thing that he can do for himself. When his bride is radiant, the masculine man wins. (They both win, don’t they?)

God’s loving of us first, His moving toward us to love us, His self-sacrificing action to rescue us, His ongoing pursuit of us—all of these are part of the masculine glory of God. Certainly, there are many times when women can, and even should, act in these ways, too. But God has a unique calling on the lives of husbands to be responsible for their wives’ well-being and to take energetic, loving action. Husbands who specialize in these things are wise.

How can a wife encourage her husband’s masculinity?

With the best of intentions, many women choose the worst of tactics: pushing, controlling, or leading. Not only do these approaches fail to stir up masculinity, but they can actually backfire, making matters worse. Pushing a husband tends to evoke his withdrawal or his anger—two things a wife does not want. When a wife tries to control or to lead, the husband will often become passive.

The best way to encourage masculinity is through femininity, which is the warm welcoming of a husband’s spirit. Femininity is the deep acceptance of a husband as a man of great value. (Certainly, femininity is not the welcoming of ungodly behavior, nor is it an acceptance of abuse.) A feminine woman supports and cooperates with the responsibility of her husband, and she welcomes his proactive movement to serve.

How does our culture affect masculinity?

Our culture works relentlessly to suppress masculinity. Though it may seem ironic to some, pornography is a vicious emasculator. The pornographic industry recognizes maleness, but it eviscerates masculinity. Pornography deforms a male into profound passivity; instead of moving toward his wife to give for her benefit, the husband demands movement toward himself for his own consumption. Instead of bearing responsibility, he denies it, trading away the masculine glory of God.

King David, who was a man after God’s own heart, spoke these final words of counsel to his son Solomon: “So be strong, act like a man, and observe what the Lord your God requires …” (1 Kings 2:1, NIV).

The Spirit of God is continuing to raise up such men––men of spiritual strength, action, and responsibility.

I salute these mighty, masculine men of God.

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Love: Just the Basics, Please

I often need to recall the basics. Here are the basics of love, as spoken to us by Love Himself, paraphrased by Eugene Peterson. My favorite line is near the end:

Trust steadily in God, hope unswervingly, love extravagantly.

From “the love chapter” (1 Corinthians 13):

Love never gives up.
Love cares more for others than for self.
Love doesn’t want what it doesn’t have.
Love doesn’t strut, …
Isn’t always “me first,”
Doesn’t fly off the handle,
Doesn’t keep score of the sins of others, …
Trusts God always,
Always looks for the best,
Never looks back,

But keeps going to the end.

Love never dies. …

love

We don’t yet see things clearly. We’re squinting in a fog, peering through a mist. But it won’t be long before the weather clears and the sun shines bright! We’ll see it all then, see it all as clearly as God sees us, knowing him directly just as he knows us!

love

But for right now, until that completeness, we have three things to do to lead us toward that consummation: Trust steadily in God, hope unswervingly, love extravagantly. And the best of the three is love.

Here’s one more reminder:   No prayer call this week. But be sure to join us for next week’s call on Thursday, April 30.

Until then, I want to keep focusing on the basics:  “Trust steadily in God, hope unswervingly, love extravagantly.”

Blessings to you,
Tami

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Scripture taken from The Message (MSG).Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson.
Image courtesy of dan at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.
Image courtesy of nuttakit at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

 

 

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The Strength of Joy for Your Marriage

Here is an amazing verse:

      Do not grieve, for the joy of the LORD is your strength.   (Nehemiah 8:10, NIV)

That is not only a command and a statement, but it is also a promise!

God is full of love, and He is also full of joy. Not only is He the greatest Lover, but He is also the most joyful Person in the universe. His love and His joy are woven together.

joy

We tend to think that if we have joy, then we can love others. But I think it really works the other way around: if we love, then we can have joy. When we give to others, we gain joy.

The exhaling of love allows the inhaling of joy.

But there is more! I think there is something else involved in this giving and this joy—something that is very important but often overlooked:

Covenantal love is a decision to enjoy another person.

While godly love is a commitment to give, it is also a commitment to enjoy.  Part of loving our spouses well is enjoying them–enjoying who they are. God does that for us, and we can do that for others. God delights in us, and we can choose to delight in others.

So I guess we can say that this, too, is a giving because we are giving the gift of enjoying. When someone enjoys who you are, isn’t that like a gift to you?

joyVery often, our joy in marriage is lacking because our commitment to enjoying our spouses is lacking. We think that enjoyment should simply come to us. It’s great when that happens, but sometimes we must make the decision—the determination even—to enjoy someone. After we take the challenge to enjoy, we can pray for eyes to see past faults and past behaviors to the core treasure of someone. We can pray to see more of what God sees and more of what God delights in.

Enjoying our spouse is part of our love. That is part of what we give. And when we give the way God does, then we have the joy that God has. Then we have the joy of the Lord as our  strength.

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Image courtesy of Witthaya Phonsawat at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.
Image courtesy of photostock at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

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The Parity Principle

How would you take these two Scriptures concerning marriage and put them together in one illustration?

“You husbands must give honor to your wives.” 1 Peter 3:7, NLT
“Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord.” Ephesians 5:22, ESV

Author and pastor James Ford puts these two directives together in an unusual word-picture that he calls the “Parity Principle.” Here is how it works:

Parody PrincipleThe husband is to put his wife “on a pedestal,” so to speak. Just as a man might put a treasured heirloom on a pedestal of honor, so the husband is to esteem his wife and attach high value to her. When the wife is on a pedestal, the couple is not face-to-face.

However, …

The wife is “to bow,” so to speak,  to her husband. When the woman on the pedestal bows  in respect to the man who raised her to a place of honor,  the couple is now face-to-face in healthy relationship.

What do you think of that picture?

 

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Celebrating Easter in Your Marriage, part 2

Last week, I shared with you several themes from the Holy Week of Christ that we can apply to our marriages. We looked at Palm Sunday through Wednesday last time, so today we will consider Thursday through Easter Sunday.  May this be a Holy Week in each of our homes.

Thursday: themes of servanthood and covenant vows

Easter: 011-jesus-washes-feetAt the Last Supper, Jesus washed the feet of His disciples. This was an act of humility and of service. Afterwards, He explained that He had come to serve and that true greatness belongs to the greatest servants.

A little later, He offered the disciples a Passover cup and said, “Drink from it …. It is My blood of the covenant.” This action reflected a tradition from the Hebrew betrothal ceremony. When proposing marriage, a man would pour a cup of wine and then offer it to the woman whom he hoped to marry. If she accepted the cup and drank from it, she was agreeing to become the man’s covenant partner.

Easter: 009-last-supperEvery time we drink from the communion cups at our churches, we are doing much more than remembering that Christ died for us; we are actually renewing our covenant commitment to Him. We are agreeing to share His cup, to share His suffering, to share His life with Him. No wonder the apostle Paul tells us that we should not take communion carelessly! It is a renewal of our covenant vows to belong entirely to Christ.

Prayer: LORD, thank You for pouring out lavish love to me. Thank You, Almighty Creator and Ruler of the Universe, for humbling Yourself to wear human flesh and to suffer unimaginable agony so that I could enjoy a personal relationship with You. Thank You for serving me and for being my Covenant Partner.

LORD, I want Your ways of humility, service, and commitment to fill my marriage. Pour out Your Spirit into my marriage through me. Help me to put more importance, significance, and attention on my spouse than on myself (Philippians 2:3).

Help me to be willing to suffer, as Your wisdom directs, for the sake of my spouse, my covenant partner. Make me alert and sensitive to the needs that You are calling me to serve. Before You, I renew my commitment to my spouse.

Action: This Easter, how is God asking me to serve my covenant partner? Where do I need to take off pride and put on humility (just as Christ took off His outer garment and put on a towel)? How can I renew my vows to my spouse—that is, how can I express my renewed commitment to him or her?

Friday: theme of destroyed barriers Easter: 013-jesus-dies

Friday was the day that Christ was crucified at the Place of the Skull. There are many things that we can learn from that day, but what I would like to highlight now is something that happened in the Temple when Christ died.

An incredible thing happened: the thick veil that had hung between the Holy Place and the Holy of Holies was torn in two, from top to bottom. This symbolized God’s move to destroy the spiritual barrier that had separated sinful people from Himself. Although we had been the ones to wrong Him, He took the initiative to reconcile. At great cost to Himself, through His own broken body, God opened a path for restored relationship.

When God broke the barrier, this explosively powerful action in the spiritual realm was again reflected in the physical realm: “The earth shook and the rocks split. The tombs broke open and the bodies of many holy people who had died were raised to life.” (Matthew 27:51-52, NIV)

Prayer: LORD, thank You for tearing the veil so that I could experience a covenant relationship with You. Thank You for being willing to tear Your own flesh so that I could know healing and wholeness.

Please destroy the barriers, whether small or great, between my spouse and myself. Please bring healing and wholeness to my marriage. Help me to be willing to take action, even at cost to my own comfort or preferences, as You direct me by Your Spirit.

Action: This Easter, how can I “tear a veil”—that is, how can I take action to destroy a barrier in my marriage?

Saturday: theme of trusting when we don’t understand

Easter: 017-jesus-diesOn Saturday, the heartbroken disciples must have struggled with fear, guilt, huge disappointment, and probably even despair. They had expected Jesus to conquer the Romans and to provide political salvation to the Jewish people, and they had expected to be key players in that exhilarating action. Instead, Jesus had been crucified by the Romans, and the disciples had played the part of fleeing cowards.

However, God was conquering in greater ways than they had imagined! God was preparing a glory for each Christ-follower that was far beyond their grandest hopes. Despite the horrors of the physical realm, God’s plan was right on course in the spiritual realm. What appeared to be utter defeat in the physical and temporal realm was actually a more-than-conquering victory in the spiritual and eternal realm.

Prayer: LORD, thank You for Your marvelous plans for goodness and glory and intimacy and health and joy. Thank You for being a trustworthy God. I praise You for Your power to orchestrate every detail, seen or unseen. Thank You for keeping every precious promise. Thank You for being far more generous to me than I can even imagine. Thank You for redeeming the works of the darkness.

Help me to trust Your unseen work in my marriage, as I yield to You. Help me not to lean on my own understanding, but to lean on Your promises. Reassure my fearful heart that, even though Saturday is dark today, the glorious Light of Sunday is preparing to spring forth.

Action: As I think about my marriage this Easter, am I trusting my physical eyes instead of using spiritual eyes? Where am I doubting the goodness of God? How am I disappointed with God in my marriage? How can I trust that His plans are greater than mine? How can I cling to the promises of God instead of to my pain?

Easter Sunday: theme of opened eyes

On Resurrection Sunday, several followers of Christ failed to recognize Him. They were focused on their pain and disappointment. They were aware of their own failed plans, and they did not comprehend His far greater, successful plans. But the Spirit opened their eyes to see God’s awesome work. When they saw what God had done, there was no regret or disappointment. They were overjoyed!

Easter: 016-jesus-alivePrayer: LORD, please open my eyes to You as You work in my marriage. Thank You for being the God who raises the dead to life. I praise You for being a God who delights in making things new and beautiful. I ask you to bring to life what has been dead in my marriage. Make our spirits and our relationship new and beautiful, full of Your truth and Your life. Thank You for being a God of Resurrection Power. I lay my marriage before You, asking You to release that Power in my home., and I rejoice that You are working actively and forcefully for my good and Your glory. I am overjoyed that You are my Living God, and I rejoice in the Abundant Life that You pour into me.

Action: In my marriage, how can I, like Mary, lift my eyes to see Christ before me? How do I need to quiet my spirit so that I hear His voice of instruction to me? How can I, like the believers in Emmaus, receive the Spirit’s gift of “opened eyes” so that I can recognize God in the midst of my marriage?

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Rejoicing with you in our Living God, who still works miracles of resurrection,
Tami

Easter: 009-jesus-alive

 

 

 

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Celebrating Easter in Your Marriage, part 1

Easter week is a special time of celebration for Christians. We remember the days leading up to the crucifixion of Christ, and we celebrate His resurrection from the dead. In fact, Resurrection Sunday is our highest holy day: it is the greatest event in history, and it is our greatest reason for joy.

During the next several days, Christians will be meditating on the profound spiritual principles that we can learn from Christ as He walked through that Holy Week. We want to apply these truths, first of all, to our relationship with Christ. However, we can also apply many of these principles to our marriages, too. (You knew I was going to say that, didn’t you?)

For each day of the Passion Week, I would like to share with you some thoughts that we can apply to our marriages. I will include Palm Sunday through Wednesday in today’s post, and I will send Thursday through Resurrection Sunday next week.

Easter Thoughts for Your Marriage

Sunday: themes of welcoming and praise

Easter: 010-triumphant-entrySunday is the day we call Palm Sunday, the day of the Triumphal Entry. Christ rode into Jerusalem as the gentle King, and the people welcomed Him with praise.

Prayer: LORD, I welcome You to this marriage. I lay branches of adoration before You. I spread garments of praise to welcome You. I lay myself before You in worship.

Thank You for being the gentle King who comes to us, to be Immanuel to us, to be the God who is with us. I ask you to reign with gentleness over our home. We need Your wisdom to guide us and Your peace to govern us.

I praise You, King of Glory, who comes to us, even in our brokenness and darkness. This is an awesome thing! “Who is this?”

This is Jesus.

“Hosanna! Blessed is He who comes in the Name of the Lord.”

Action:  How can I offer affirming words to my spouse? How can I be a welcoming presence to my spouse? I receive my spouse today as a gift from God.

 

Monday: theme of cleansingEaster: 006-cleansing-temple

On Monday, Christ cleansed the Temple in Jerusalem.

Prayer:  LORD, I pray that my marriage will be a dwelling place for You, a kind of temple for You. We need Your cleansing. Please reveal to me where I have brought defilement or impurity to my marriage. Help me to turn from it. Show me my part in cleansing our marriage.

Action: How have I “robbed” my spouse? Have I withheld from my spouse affection, loyalty, respect, or support? How have I bartered when I should have given freely?

Tuesday: theme of anointing

Easter: 010-jesus-anointed

With lavish love, Mary anointed Jesus with expensive perfume.

Prayer: LORD, I want to pour out to You my full obedience to You in this marriage. I pray that this offering of myself would be like a sweet aroma to You. I pray, too, that the Presence of Your love in my life would be like a pleasing fragrance to my spouse.

Action: How can I anoint my spouse with honor today? I want to say to my spouse, “I choose you!”  How can I show lavish love today?

Wednesday: theme of rest

Prayer: LORD, thank You for the places of rest that You give in the midst of our busyness and chaos. I pray that You would open my eyes to the need for “quiet streams” in my marriage. Help me to let go of “rushing” so that our spirits can rest; help me to let go of “pushing” so that You can prepare us for what You know is ahead of us.

Action: I want to be still, and know that He is God. How can I build needed rest into my marriage? Where does my spouse need renewal?

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Blessings to you and to your marriage,
Tami

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6 Reasons for Hope

hopeAre you ready to give up on your marriage?

Perhaps you have reasons such as these: You are the only one trying to making it work. It takes too much effort. Nothing ever gets better. It is too painful. What if you discovered that God’s gift of hope is greater than your pit of despair?  What if you learned six powerful reasons for not giving up?

1. Just one person can make a huge difference in a marriage. Just one person—you!—can make enough difference in a marriage to change the entire dynamic of the relationship.

Imagine this: think of two people standing back-to-back in conflict. If both people are willing to turn around, then the couple will be face-to-face in good relationship again. However, what happens when one person in that back-to-back situation remains motionless while the other person walks around to face the one who did not move? The two people become face-to-face again, even though only one person moved.

…  [Continue reading at www.StartMarriageRight.com]

 

 

Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

 

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Someone Should Say This to You

Are you honoring your marriage? If so, then please allow me to say something to you:  …

[Continue reading at www.startmarriageright.com.]

Have a fantastic weekend celebrating our awesome God!
Tami

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Marriage Essentials

BookCoverImageIf you had only a few minutes to share the most important principles about marriage, what would you say? What are the most critical components to understand about marriage?

Your Marriage: God’s Masterful Design is my response to those questions. I am excited to share this new resource with you! Many of you received a shorter, working version of this booklet several weeks ago. But I would like to give you now the completed version. Simply click HERE for the full PDF.

Your Marriage: God’s Masterful Design is also available as a full-color booklet on Amazon.

God’s design of marriage is masterful … and completely trustworthy!

Blessings to you,
Tami

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“A Weekend to Remember”

Have you attended A Weekend to Remember?  My husband and I were blessed to attend this marriage getaway recently, and we are eager to recommend it to you now!

A Weekend to Remember is a marriage retreat organized by Family Life. The events are held all over the country throughout the year. From Friday evening through Sunday morning, couples hear excellent teaching on marriage, relax at a great hotel, and enjoy quality time together.  The weekend is marriage-saving and life-changing for many.

“The  Weekend to Remember getaway is not a large counseling session, and you will not be asked to participate in small groups. Rather, you will receive marriage-changing principles that you can take home and apply to your daily lives that will strengthen your marriage. During the weekend, you will learn how to:

  • Receive your spouse as a gift.
  • Clarify your role as a husband or wife.
  • Resolve conflict in the relationship.
  • Maintain a vital sexual connection.
  • Express forgiveness to one another.
  • Increase your commitment, creating an even deeper level of intimacy.

“Every couple drives away with a roadmap to a great marriage. You will leave the weekend with encouragement, hope, and practical tools to build and grow your relationship.” (Family Life)

If you are military, be sure to sign up soon because free registration is currently being offered. And if you aren’t military, be sure to sign up with the code MannaForMarriage to receive a discount of $100 per couple.  Click HERE to find locations and  times, and to register.

Central Florida friends: There will be a Weekend to Remember this summer in Orlando, June 12-14.

Florida Panhandle friends: There will be a Weekend to Remember in Destin, November 6-8.

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