The Importance of Marriage: Reflecting God’s Love to the World
September 25, 2014
“I’m asking you to pray with me that God would awaken love in our marriages, so that this world would awaken to God’s love.”
– Pastor Kyle Idleman
This prayer request is the heartbeat behind the new film The Song, which is inspired by the life of King Solomon and the Biblical book, The Song of Solomon. Kyle Idleman is not only a best-selling author and a teaching pastor of the fourth largest church in America, but the executive producer of this upcoming Christian film which opens tomorrow, September 26th throughout theaters in America.
Idleman says, “The Song film is a great date night movie that will point you to God who has the power to awaken love in your relationship.”
As I began to read more about the film and listen to some of the songs featured in the movie (which are based on scripture found in the Bible), my heart became so stirred and excited to hear that the powerful message found in the Song of Solomon, and many other books of the Bible, will be released to a world in such desperate need of God’s amazing love. The creators of this film may or may not realize that this timeless story goes so much deeper than the importance of a strong and healthy marriage relationship between a man and a woman, but sheds light on the kind of relationship that Jesus wants to have with His Church.
The Song of Solomon has been a book of the Bible that many Christians have avoided because of its poetic nature and seemingly sexual terminology. I know this because I was one of those Christians. I remember the first time I opened my Teen Study Bible to its pages and saw the words “You are tall like a palm tree and your breasts are like its fruit. I will climb that palm tree and grab ahold of its fruit” (Song of Solomon 7:7-8a paraphrased). Of course, at 16 years old, giggles ensued after reading it.
That was stamped on my mind for many years and I didn’t open up that book again until I was 26 years old. The Lord put it on my heart to enroll in a ten-week in-depth study of this mysterious book that I basically brushed aside and ignored for ten years.
Over the course of those ten weeks, my relationship with the Lord went to a completely different level. I saw God’s love for me in an entirely new light- casting down wrong ideology that I had embraced for many years living in performance-driven Christianity. Each verse in those short eight chapters were jam-packed with so much deep meaning, especially the intensity of how much God loves me and how He sees me when I stand in my position in Christ. I may feel dark and like a failure, but God sees me as lovely when I stand in Christ and in the shadow of the Cross (Song of Solomon 1:5).
Embracing the work of the Cross, opened my eyes to the depth of God’s love for me. John 3:16 wasn’t just a children’s church verse that I had memorized, but it became reality to me.
God loves me.
So much so, that He gave His only Son’s life for me to live with Him in eternity.
“Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends” (John 15:13, NKJV).
Receiving this kind of love from what Jesus did for you, laying down His life for you, will change the way you love others, including your spouse. The charge that the apostle Paul gives us in Ephesians 5:22-33 as husbands and wives is not difficult when we fully understand and embrace Christ’s sacrificial love for us.
“Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is head of the wife, as also Christ is head of the church; and He is the Savior of the body. Therefore, just as the church is subject to Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything. Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her, that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish. So husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies; he who loves his wife loves himself, for no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as the Lord does the church. For we are members of His body, of His flesh and of His bones. ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.’ This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the church. Nevertheless let each one of you in particular so love his own wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband” (NKJV).
We are able to love because God loved us first, but we cannot give away what we do not choose to receive.
I have to ask, is this why our marriages here in America are falling apart?
I know the answer is “yes” for those who have not accepted Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior, but what about His Church?
There is much debate regarding the actual percentage of divorce in the Church vs. the world, so I will not cite any findings or studies because frankly, the numbers aren’t the sole issue. The sole issue is that Christian marriages ARE falling apart and divorce IS tearing apart Christian homes. I personally know many believers whose lives have been impacted by the tragedy of divorce. Too often, you hear the husband and/or wife that is contemplating ending their marriage whether it be through separation, divorce, or even adultery say, “I just don’t love them anymore.”
How does that happen?
I believe when we take God out of any environment, situation, or relationship, we take love with it because God is Love (1 John 4:8). Marriage here on earth is God’s way of showing us how much Jesus loves His Church and how much The Father loves the world. The love shown between a husband and wife is a direct reflection of God’s love for them that John 3:16 teaches us about.
Are we as believers truly accepting that love? Is it penetrating the very depths of our soul or is it just head knowledge?
Are we embracing God’s limitless, unconditional love above all other pleasures and relationships of this life, truly allowing it to flow through our limited, conditional human heart?
These are questions that I pray people begin to ask themselves, especially after seeing The Song. I also pray that this film ignites a fiery passion in marriages shining so bright with Christ’s love so that through them the world will fully receive God’s all-consuming love.
After all, that’s the only true love that even exists.
Forever My Girl-New Film Releasing in January 2018!
November 8, 2017
I don’t know about you, but I am a total sucker for romantic movies, and when they have music interwoven in them, they are even better! And maybe it’s just my small town, southern Illinois roots, but I have a sweet spot for country music love songs. That’s why I am extremely excited about an upcoming film called FOREVER MY GIRL that is coming to theaters about a month before Valentine’s Day 2018!
Not only does the story line draw me in, but the music soundtrack includes some of country music’s favorites such as CMA New Artist of the Year nominee Lauren Alaina, Travis Tritt, and Alex Roe who stars in the film as country star “Liam Page.”
FOREVER MY GIRL tells the story of country music super-star Liam Page (Alex Roe) who left his bride, Josie (Jessica Rothe), at the altar choosing fame and fortune instead. However, Liam never got over Josie, his one true love, nor did he ever forget his Southern roots in the small community where he was born and raised. When he unexpectedly returns to his hometown for the funeral of his high school best friend, Liam is suddenly faced with the consequences of all that he left behind. -From Roadside Attractions
FOREVER MY GIRL releases in theaters on January 19, 2018, so be sure to mark your calendars and make it a girls’ night out or a date night!
Watch the trailer below!
Destroying Mis-Identifications, Finding True Identity, and Understanding Purpose: Part 1
August 15, 2017
I woke up this morning with an overwhelming desire to write, to share something on my heart. I haven’t had that desire in awhile, and quite frankly, I haven’t had a lot of other desires besides eating and sleeping.
Growing a human will kind of do that to ya…
…oh yeah, I don’t think I officially announced that on my blog yet, have I?
Oh well, I will just blame that on pregnancy/mom brain! Trust me, it’s a VERY real thing!
Anyway back in April, before I got pregnant, I had a stirring within my spirit believing that the winds of change were blowing upon my circumstances and that God would be bringing restoration to many areas of my life and resurrecting joy within me. In fact, it seemed as if that season was already upon me, or at least I had hoped it was.
But somewhere between May and August, that hope seemed to fizzle and fade. Perhaps it was the unexpected struggles of mega morning sickness (that wasn’t just bound to morning, but morning, noon, and night and everywhere in between) that seemed to last FOOORRRRRRREEEEEEVVVVVVVVEEEEEEEEEERRRRR.
Yes, I’m pretty sure that has been my TKO (Total Knock Out- and now I am having flashbacks of playing Mortal Kombat on Playstation with my brother…hahaha) over these last few months. Since I didn’t really deal with the constant exhaustion, nausea, and vomiting with my last pregnancy, it was difficult to focus on much of anything else besides breathing, eating, and trying not to upchuck what I just ate. I was just praying that there would be an end in sight because I did not feel like myself whatsoever. Three months of feeling like junk definitely gave me a lot of more sympathy for those who suffer from chronic pain and illness. It’s definitely a challenge to hold onto your joy in the midst of issues in your body.
But thankfully the end has finally come; I have made it into the glorious second trimester and those miserable symptoms have faded! Hallelujah to the Lamb!
And although I have had my days here and there with the fun of raising a growing toddler (yay for potty-training and constipation!), I am beginning to gain more clarity and focus regarding what God has for me in this next season, especially the short time I have left before baby #2 comes and keeping another tiny human alive (and my sanity) becomes my central focus once again. 🙂
Okay, enough of the Emily-update and onto what I believe the Lord has put on my heart to share with you all today! Thanks to all of you who have stayed with me thus far! 😉
Since I have been sensing my season of rest coming to an end and hearing the Lord’s beckoning to come run with Him in ministry once again, I have been asking Him on and off these last few months for more clarity regarding my purpose and destiny. Now having finally grasped the fact that a huge part of my purpose on this earth has much to do with my role as a mom and raising my children in the admonition of the Lord, I also believe God has placed gifts within me that reach beyond just my very own family, although I completely understand that my family is my primary ministry, right after my marriage, of course.
Through dreams and times of prayer, God has been (slowly) unveiling more and more of my purpose to me.
One of the questions I have had though is “why does it feel like it has taken so long for me to have solid understanding of my purpose, Lord?”
I believe I got an answer to that this morning…
…I needed to understand my identity FIRST.
And like much of what God does in our hearts, understanding my identity has been a process- a process on the Great Potter’s wheel.
- Before I could even fully understand my identity and who I am in Christ, I had to first acknowledge my mis-identification and ask the Lord to help me dismantle it. When I wrote about this process back in December 2016, I finally admitted that I wasn’t sure who I was apart from doing, accomplishing, productivity, or even using my gifts for Him:
Although I would have told you straight to your face that my identity is not in what I do, I don’t know if I whole-heartedly believed that.
And that is why I think the Lord has had to strip me down where I do none of those things, with absolutely no opportunities in sight to even attempt them, or having very little desire or passion left in me to attempt doing any of those things at all and not much grace to accomplish them.
Looking back, I realize God began talking to me about learning how to just be and detach my worth from all the doing shortly after giving birth to Isaiah. I wrestled with God for many, many months, asking Him why I felt so stuck. It took me two years to finally yield to the hands of the Potter and give him every label and title I have ever held onto and see Him smash them to smithereens with is mallet, y’all. That’s a long time to wrestle with God, but thankfully, as He always does, He won that match!
- Once God stripped me of all of those wrong labels that I was trying to identify myself with by completely removing me from activities, ministry positions, and even removing certain desires and passions, I entered a time of formlessness.
This is usually the time on the Potter’s wheel where your world is spinning and nothing is familiar, not even yourself, because His hands are forming a masterpiece that only the Creator could create.
Who am I? becomes a question you ask a lot. God was teaching me to be still and know that He is God, even though I had no idea what He was doing. Telling a do-er to be still and rest was one of the hardest lessons I have ever tried to receive and live out.
Suddenly doors that were open, were now shut to me. I lost interest and passion in things that used to bring me such enjoyment (I know now that this was only for but a season as God worked on my heart). Leadership roles and responsibilities were now gone, and because of issues with Isaiah’s sleeping for many, many months, I could no longer write because of the lack of mental clarity and focus.
Even in the midst of motherhood, it felt like I was doing a whole lot of nothing.
There were times that I felt like I had lost myself.
But through the process of losing myself, just like Jesus tells us, I found myself all over again.
He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for My sake will find it (Matthew 10:39, NKJV).
In the moment of formlessness, I had to learn how to take my eyes off of the life that was familiar and the life I used to identifying with, and fix my gaze upon the Potter and see His hands gently, yet firmly and securely holding me, believing that He was molding me more and more into the likeness of His Son, and I would find the life I was meant to live, all for His glory. No matter what, even if I didn’t fully understand everything that was going on, I had to trust God and trust that the process was for my good. God had good in store for me.
In my next blog, I will discuss the next steps that the Potter took as I discovered what it truly means to be IN CHRIST, how that helped me learn to simply be God’s daughter, and how that revelation is leading me into further understanding my purpose.
Until next time, friends. 🙂
Here Comes the Sun
March 28, 2017
I have decided to say “No!” to depression. Not to sound too…well, depressing, but since December, I have felt its noose slowly begin to tighten around my neck, and I was passively allowing it.
I believe it was a combination of the effects of stress and bad eating choices, winter blues, extended sleep deprivation, and just lies bombarding me from the enemy. I was also in the midst of working Christmas retail chaos for the first time in my life, so I guess you could say I was a tad overwhelmed and a little disappointed with the lack of creative outlet in my life.
But the clouds are parting and I’m beginning to experience the sun again!
I have felt in my spirit for quite some time that I am approaching transition into new territory. Like I wrote in my last post, I have been holding onto that hope with all of my might. I have been in survival mode for far too long, and I am ready for my life to thrive again. And not just for me but for the sake of those God has entrusted to me and who He is now sending my way.
The Bible verse that has been on my heart lately comes from Isaiah 60:1:
For your light has come!
And the glory of the Lord is risen upon you (NKJV).
This verse is displayed in my son’s room because it is one of my favorites found in the book of Isaiah.
What it says to me is that there is an action required for me to see the glory of the Lord rise upon me and that is I MUST ARISE! I can’t just sit there passively and let the devil continue to beat me up with his stinkin’ lies! I must rise up! I must stand up and most importantly, stand upon God’s truth and promises!
*Edit 4/4/2017- Shortly after I wrote the words above, a decision was unexpectedly made for me regarding my current evening schedule. God pretty much closed a door for me in an area of my life that was causing strife, stress, and strain in my marriage. Ha! How about that alliteration for ya?!
What seemed like something the Lord had asked me to do for quite some time, turned out to be a very short season for me in the end. Eight months later (8 symbolizes “new beginnings” in the Bible), I’m finding myself facing another “new beginning” in my life. Suddenly all this unnecessary weight I was carrying has been lifted off of my shoulders, and even though I could sense God’s grace carrying me through this last season, I still feel lighter in some way.
And now that my physical circumstances have rearranged to help alleviate stress and tension, I know that I still must hold onto hope and stand upon God’s truth because the enemy isn’t going to stop his dumb tactics to steal my peace and joy. This new change will require trusting God in a greater way regarding our physical needs because it has taken some of the control out of our hands and we have no choice but to trust that God will provide no matter what.
I just love how God cares about all aspects of our life instead of just our spiritual health. He will move on our behalf so that we can experience the life Jesus died for us to have. The more we look to Him to fulfill and satisfy, the more we discover how great a Father He is to us. He never disappoints!
Even if you can’t see it, He is working behind the scenes always. Even if you don’t feel the sunshine just yet, know that the clouds are going to part. Hold on! Stand up! Trust and believe!
Holding Onto Hope
March 17, 2017
“Hold onto hope!” were some of the last few words I wrote in my journal as I reflected over my current circumstances.
I had no idea how much the word “hope” would become even more tangible to me as it has bubbled up inside of me these last few weeks while Paul and I have been discussing our future.
For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future (Jeremiah 29:11, NIV).
Now, I understand that many Bible scholars and Bible thumpers HATE when people quote this particular verse to apply it towards any given circumstance in life. Many agree that it is widely taken out of context.
I understand that the Lord is talking to Israel through His prophet Jeremiah in this passage, and I also understand that the Israelites would have to endure seventy years of captivity in Babylon before they began to see God’s promise of a great future come to pass.
But does that mean that God’s plans towards us are not good or that we should not remain hopeful of a glorious future ahead?
Of course not!
And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28, NKJV).
God’s character has not changed and He loves us just as He loves His chosen people, Israel.
Yet, we definitely need to remember that our definition of good and God’s definition of good could be two completely different things and those plans could possibly involve some suffering and challenges on our way to that glorious future.
And the Lord knows Paul and I have endured some of those challenges and suffering over the last few years that have tested our faith and shaken our hope in the Lord’s promises to us, especially as it concerns our desire for debt freedom- a dream we have had since very early on in our marriage, which has always been accompanied by very limited time together from all of the jobs we have had to take on to see that dream become a reality.
Although those difficult and sometimes painful experiences seem to have loomed over our heads these last two years, they have most definitely become more intensified these last six months or so.
Our son Isaiah has always seemed to have sleeping issues since he was born, but in late September until early February, he was waking up every single night (no exaggeration), multiple times, into the early morning hours. This just so happened to be around the same time I started my new part-time job in retail where for almost three months (well over 20 hours a week) I wouldn’t get home until close to one o’clock in the morning (thanks to those lovely extended holiday hours). All I wanted to do was sleep during the day, and I dreaded having to do it all over again that night, not to mention hating all the time I was missing out on with my family and friends on the weekends as well.
I didn’t know how quickly this would all catch up to me- my health definitely took a turn for the worse, which was difficult for me to experience since I was in the best shape of my life after working out for an entire year straight, eating clean, and taking supplements. But in December, I began experiencing severe bloating, fatigue, and issues with my menstrual cycle that culminated in a chemical pregnancy, which is a type of early miscarriage, because my hormones were extremely imbalanced from all of the added stress. I was having panic attacks in the middle of the night and arguments increased between Paul and I because of the sleep deprivation and utter exhaustion from dealing with a child who would inconsolably scream for hours through the night. Did I mention we live in an apartment complex? I’m sure our neighbors just adore us. 🙂
But thanks be to God…and to friends who have been praying for us continually!
We have seen great improvement in Isaiah’s sleep and in my health this last month! I have had no choice but to hold onto hope. I have had no choice but to fight to hold onto my peace and joy and to fight for my marriage.
I’ve held onto it all with a death-grip, really.
I refuse to sink. I refuse to let the enemy win because frankly, he’s a loser and has already lost the battle.
My Jesus has already won the war!
I know this sounds kinda cheesy, but it has such a deep truth:
I don’t know what my future holds, but I know Who holds my future.
God does.I will hold onto the hope that God is holding onto me. Click To Tweet
Whatever you are facing today, know that God is holding you. He’s got this and He’s not going to let you down. His thoughts and ways are higher than ours (Isaiah 55:8-9) and His plans are greater than you could ever ask, think, or imagine (Ephesians 3:20).
HOLD ONTO HOPE IN JESUS TODAY, FRIEND! He is your anchor and won’t let you sink!
I’m holding on to hope
I’m holding on to grace
I’m fully letting go
I’m surrendered to Your ways
The anchor for my soul
Father You will never change
I love You, I love You
–From “Anchor” by Bethel Music
Casting Down Lies
August 30, 2016
A few months ago, my eyes were opened to the stark reality that I was struggling with an area of my past.
I found myself getting easily offended and constantly upset from discussions with my husband to people that I didn’t even know on Facebook.
I would make great assumptions and I began to believe lies of how others were perceiving me.
I finally felt lead to call the spade a spade…
…it was the spirit of rejection.
I began reading Joyce Meyer’s book, The Root of Rejection, which I was able to take home a copy while I worked at the ministry, not having any idea how much the topic would affect me later. I then created a group on Facebook called “Rejecting Rejection” to take others through the book as well as offer a safe space for others to share their struggles and stories. A couple months later, I was even asked to discuss this nasty spirit on a Christian radio show with a dear friend of mine as the host.
You would think that after months of searching and meditating on the truth of my acceptance in Christ and uncovering the lies of the enemy’s old trickery with the spirit of rejection I wouldn’t fall prey any longer.
It continues to be a battle, yet I realize that healing and deliverance from this spirit is a partnership and most definitely, a process. Thankfully, I am not alone in this fight.
One thing for sure is that the Lord fights for me and the Holy Spirit guides me into all truth, illuminating and highlighting lies that I was believing that are rooted in rejection.
Lies that were spoken over me.
Lies that I told myself based on others’ actions.
These lies became strongholds in my life created by the spirit of rejection.
The Holy Spirit has been revealing these strongholds and it has been my job to cast them down.
For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty through God for pulling down strongholds, 5 casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ, 6 and being ready to punish all disobedience when your obedience is fulfilled (2 Corinthians 10:4-6, NKJV).
One way that I have been pulling down these strongholds is acknowledging the lie, repenting for believing the lie, and receiving God’s truth and love, not only with my mind, but receiving it fully with my heart.
I had a mighty encounter with God’s love a few weeks ago when my husband and I were praying. He whispered in my ear, “Nothing you could ever do would make me stop loving you.”
I broke down crying and I know that the lie that I had to hide my bad decisions and sin was broken off of me. My husband’s words pierced right through my heart, and I felt God’s love envelope me in that moment.
I believed that if I made wrong choices or mistakes that I had to hide them for fear of disappointment from others, including God. The lie I believed was that I would be rejected if my sin or wrong-doing was discovered. Therefore, I chose to either keep silent or tell a lie myself to keep my secret hidden so that I wouldn’t be a disappointment.
That lifestyle was keeping me from being fully transparent and honest with my husband and most importantly, with God. I believe this is why 1 John 1 reminds us of the importance of confessing our sin:
If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us (1 John 1:8-10, NKJV).
Hiding our sin causes us to hide from God, very similarly to Adam and Eve when the first sin entered the world- they felt shameful and shame made them feel rejected. Because of Jesus and the finished work of the Cross, we are forever made righteous in our position as we stand before the Father and are forever forgiven, yet when we sin, it causes our fellowship with God to be hindered, and then we can very easily stray from Him. God’s love toward me never changes when I sin, yet I may still experience consequences and correction for my disobedience. Repentance, as a believer, is for our benefit to keep fellowship with our Father open and unhindered.
Although Paul was the one who spoke those words of love and acceptance over me, I received them as if God Himself said them to me.
And it turns out He did say it to me in His Word through the Apostle Paul:
For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come,39 nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 8: 38-39, NKJV).
The next lie that the Holy Spirit revealed to me that was keeping me from total freedom from the spirit of rejection was that I was “too much.”
There are two instances in my life that are still very vivid in my mind where I was told I was “too much.”
You think too much. You talk too much. You are just too much, Emily! I just can’t do this anymore.
Both situations were from break-ups from young men who I had given my heart and body to. Because I had tied so much of my self-worth to how others accepted me and loved me, this crushed me completely. This caused me to become a people pleas-er, and I did whatever I needed to do to get people to accept me.
I approached all relationships terrified that I would be told I was “too much.” I was always hesitant to fully be myself around others and when I felt like I was being “too much,” I would constantly apologize for my “too much”-ness. If I became over-zealous in a new relationship, I just knew they were going to reject me. I struggled with that mindset in my marriage for a long time and God helped me tremendously in that area to let go and be myself around Paul. One of his favorite things about me is that I am passionate.
Oh my, that was a whole different story! If it wasn’t because of my fear of being “too much,” it was my fear that the relationship would only be temporary because so many of my friends (and even some family members) had moved away and our communication became scarce because of the distance. That fear created a hesitancy to even become vulnerable around others enough to let them in to build a relationship with them. If they were going to leave me anyway what was the point of even trying? I thought constantly.
Needless to say, I have always had difficulty with friendships. That difficulty caused a breeding ground for the spirit of rejection to continue to thrive.
I’m calling out that lie that I am “too much” and casting it down! I refuse to apologize for how God created me. I also refuse to live in fear that all of my friendships will be temporary and trust that God’s timing is perfect. He knows who needs to be in my life and for how long. If the relationship is only supposed to be seasonal, then I appreciate the time spent together, memories made, and lessons learned, but I will not become co-dependent upon others to validate me or make me feel accepted or like I belong.
Only Jesus can do that and I should never expect anyone else to fulfill that.
But like I said, healing from rejection is a process. Thankfully, God hasn’t given up on me!
He won’t give up on you either! If you find yourself struggling with the fear of rejection, do not hesitate to reach out to me. I believe there is power in numbers and that if God has brought us through something, it is now our job to help others with their struggles. Contact me if you would like to be added to my “Rejecting Rejection” Facebook group! You will be in great company!
Spiritual Unity: Studying the Bible with Your Spouse
July 26, 2016
I have been a Christian for almost fifteen years and my husband has been a Christian for over twenty years. In December, we will have been married for seven years.
Throughout the many years of wedded bliss, I have always longed for the days when Paul and I would enjoy deep times of Bible study and prayer. Although we don’t pray together as often as I would like to, we still do pray together about important issues that rise up in our marriage and we both find it important to cover our son in prayer consistently.
One thing that we never really ever took the time to cultivate in our marriage is studying God’s Word together.
Sure, we listen to sermons together and discuss scripture, and maybe even read our own Bibles while laying next to each other in bed, but we have never had a Bible study together as a married couple.
Until last night.
I don’t know why it took us so long to actually sit down and do it. I could make a list of reasons why I think we just didn’t have the time to and some of them would be really logical reasons, but they would be excuses nonetheless.
Instead of wondering why we waited to enjoy this beautiful area of marriage, I’m going to be so utterly grateful that we have started the journey together.
I could sense the Father’s pleasure as He looked down upon us last night as we read scripture that truly seemed as fresh as it did the first time we laid our eyes on the words on the pages of the Holy Book.
It must have been such a wonderful sight- two of His children who have been made one through the beauty of marriage longing to seek Truth together and their eyes becoming illuminated with revelation straight from heaven!
I guess I tell you all of this, not to make it sound like we are perfect or have it all together, but to encourage you to fight for this absolutely amazing honor within your marriage! I can almost guarantee that the enemy does not want you to read the Bible with your spouse. He will throw every distraction and obstacle your way so that you never make this a priority in your life together as a couple.
It is so utterly important for you to seek God’s Word on your own spiritual journey for yourself, but how much more crucial is it to see your spiritual health be strengthened as a couple since you and your spouse have been unified as one:
But from the beginning of the creation, God ‘made them male and female.’[a] 7 ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, 8 and the two shall become one flesh’; [b] so then they are no longer two, but one flesh. 9 Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate (Mark 10:6-9, NKJV).
Knowing that you and your spouse has been made a team in this life, reading and studying the scriptures is also like spiritually preparing and exercising for those moments when the devil will inevitably send attacks your way. Instead of the enemy trying to advance towards you individually, trying to find weakness if your armor, he won’t be able to withstand two children of God with two swords of the Spirit ready to cut down his lies! You both have the Word of Truth sown into your hearts because you have taken the time to meditate and discuss out loud so you’ve gained wisdom and understanding of God’s great and precious promises. The devil doesn’t stand a chance against you both! And with Jesus in the middle of your marriage, he is severely out-numbered!
I know life can get busy and if you have children, there never seems to be enough hours in the day! But I urge you, make the time to study God’s Word together! I’m so excited to see what God is going to do in my marriage now that Paul and I have decided to incorporate this into our life together. Just like the day we said “I do,” the spiritual union we are continue to build seeking God’s Truth will be a beautiful reminder to Him that His children say “yes” to a life pursuing Him together every single day!
Father, I lift up marriages to You today, asking that You would give these precious men and women a fresh hunger for seeking Your truth- both individually and as a couple. If they have never tried studying the Bible together, I pray they start today. Reveal to them just how incredible the experience of gaining wisdom and understanding of Your Word really is and how much it will strengthen their walk with You as a couple. I pray marriages will become divorce-proof and will stand so mighty against the fiery darts of the enemy! In Jesus’ name, Amen!
When God Changes Your Desires
June 21, 2016
I’ve been through this before.
The Great Potter placing me on His miraculously transforming wheel.
Life as I know it, spinning all around me, causing blurred vision.
Why am I experiencing confusion? I have asked myself several times.
If God was working in my life, this shouldn’t cause confusion or make me feel anxious for loss of control.
For God is not the author of confusion but of peace, as in all the churches of the saints (1 Corinthians 14:33 NKJV).
Then today it hit me.
If I would just take my eyes off of my surroundings and what was going on all around me, and fix my gaze upon the Potter and see His hands gently, yet firmly and securely holding me, my vision would not be blurry or cause anxiety, but become clear again. I will receive clarity.
And His peace comes.When I fix my eyes upon the Lord, His peace comes. Every single time. Click To Tweet
Because of this lack of clarity, I haven’t been able to write. I guess I was experiencing writer’s block and didn’t want to address it.
I just assumed that I didn’t have time because my focus was on other things, good things, helpful things, productive things, but things the enemy was using as a tool to distract nonetheless.
Distraction from my writing. Distraction from my marriage and son. And most importantly, distraction from my time with the Lord.
I have heard Him speak, and have continued to keep up with my Bible reading, but my ear has not been pressed to His heart or leaned in to hear every soft whisper.
When you are anointed of the Lord and you know that you are called and most definitely, chosen, you can’t go on living like that for very long without feeling like something is missing.
It didn’t take long for me to notice that God was working in my heart even if I wasn’t asking Him to at the moment.
I’ve prayed many times before for Him to mold me, to change me from the inside out, and to use me for His glory as His vessel to flow through.
Disclaimer: If you are going to pray a bold prayer like that, you better be prepared for God to answer you whenever He wants to and however often He wants to!
Certain hobbies, passions, and interests just don’t seem as interesting anymore. I can’t explain to you why that is except that God is changing my desires.
I don’t really know how it happens, but I do believe it happens when our eyes start to stray from the Lord and become fixated and overly concerned with other people, activities, places.
If you are a child of God, He will let you know when you have lifted up your soul to an idol.
You can of course ignore that nudge or heart check, but I would much rather be by God’s side than off alone on my own!
For me, that nudge came from simple convictions during discussion times at my church community group and during Sundays’ sermons. God uses His Word and other people to get messages to us.
He used both to really drive home the point that my priorities were seriously out of order and that I was dangerously close to worshiping other passions instead of Him.
Sometimes if you still can’t put Him first, He will close doors or He will begin to change your heart towards that particular potential idol in your life. Apparently I didn’t do a great job seeking Him first after the initial conviction to re-order things so that’s exactly what the Lord did in my life and heart.
Now here I am again. Standing still and asking God what really has to go and what I should continue to pursue all for His glory.
Ask and you shall know. Seek and you shall find.
He has sent people my way to get me back on track to my true calling, as a solider in the army of God and a daughter in His Kingdom. I haven’t stopped longing to give God glory in all that I say and do, but I believe I have started to pursue an inferior purpose.
Sometimes it’s easier to pursue “callings” that you are able to control the outcome, but that doesn’t take much faith or trust in God. For me, I need to stay as far away from those pursuits as possible, even if they make me feel accomplished and comfortable. As a struggling control freak and recovering perfectionist, I can become my worst enemy in this case.
When God calls you to do something for Him, it requires faith and trusting in Him to see it unfold in your life. This means there are a lot of unknowns and surrender of your control. There is no fast-track formula to success when you are following God’s plan for your life.You have to have faith in God. You have that trust that He knows what He is doing. Click To Tweet
Instead of allowing the fear of rejection and the feeling of inadequacy to hold me back, I’m staring at that calling and trusting God to make a way for me to walk it out. I’m completely relying on HIS ability and strength.
I do the possible and He does the impossible, and there will be so much grace to accompany me in the process.
If my dream or calling can be accomplished in my own ability, it probably isn’t a dream God is calling me to pursue for His glory, but my own.
And that is how I can test myself to see if I am walking in God’s will or not.
I want God’s grace by humbly declaring my weakness more than the pride I receive from my accomplishments in my own strength.
And that is how I know God has been changing my desires.
Thank you for joining me on this journey as I chase God’s dream that He has for me to do. One heart check after the other.
I’m a work in progress and I’m thankful I’m not the one doing all the work!
For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them (Ephesians 2: 10 NKJV).
December 7, 2015
I haven’t spent too much time lately on my blog sharing current personal events. It doesn’t mean there hasn’t been anything important to write about, I just haven’t felt the need to dive into some of the messiness of our life.
Paul and I have been through a lot of major transitions and changes throughout our six years of marriage, but for some odd reason, I never can seem to get used to it. Since I’m a “go-getter,” I pull up my boot-straps, bite my lip, and move forward full-speed-ahead.
In early May of this year, through studying the Word of God in a new light, we began a journey of discovering why we believed what we believed. We began to realize that so much of what we embraced was not sound doctrine. After hearing the pure gospel of Jesus Christ, our eyes were opened to the truth that we had become victims of the prosperity gospel– giving to get more in return, visualization boards, believing we could speak things into existence just like God did (we are not “speaking spirits” or “little gods,” my friends- that is not what being made in His image is about) positive declarations and confessions, seeking increase in possessions and finances, etc. That’s when we began to ask questions to spiritual leaders whom we trusted. We wanted to make sure what we were hearing, whether on Sunday morning or YouTube videos from well-known Bible teachers, lined up with the Bible, and most importantly, the words in red.
Within just a few weeks of studying, the Lord spoke to us about selling our house, so we obeyed. We started that process and within seven days, the home was under contract. Within 30 days, we packed up our three bedroom home in the country and moved into a two bedroom apartment closer to the city and closer to our church.
About two months after we got settled in and used to our shorter commute to church (we spent more time there than at home sometimes), the Lord started speaking to us about finding a new church home.
Again, we obeyed, relieved ourselves from our leadership positions appropriately and completely wrapped in love, and just trusted God would lead the way. Within a month, we were divinely invited to a church where some of Paul’s family (whom he had lost touch with over the years) attended. Being a product of numerous denominations over the years, it didn’t bother me that this church was a Baptist church. Paul’s religious upbringing was different than mine though. He spent his whole life at non-denominational churches, rooted in the charismatic and Word of Faith movements. This theology and doctrine became spiritual reality and truth to me since 2008 when I began attending the church he grew up at. Once we left that church, we found ourselves in an environment similar to that of which Paul grew up in. Since this was all he knew, we never thought about questioning it.
But we did start to question it.
And what we found out, over the course of several months of studying God’s Word, revealed the deception that had clouded our minds about God’s truth, salvation, and the gospel of Jesus Christ.
So, here we are, having attended the Baptist church for two months, learning more about the names of God. About HIM. Not US. About what we can do for JESUS. Not what Jesus can do for US. And in our own studying at home, continuing to learn more and more about the lies of the prosperity gospel and Word of Faith movement, of which they often go hand in hand.
I’ve realized that the devil will try all He can to distract you, bring doubt, and confuse you regarding the will of God for your life. Yesterday, I experienced that in the form of waking up from a terrible dream, which caused me to be completely out-of-sorts all morning- on my drive to church, the sound-check for the worship set (I joined the choir a few weeks ago), the whole church service, and my drive home. I was an emotional mess, all from one stupid dream the night before involving some rejection that occurred over the last few months. Because of the lingering feelings from the dream, I was finding myself missing our involvement at our previous church home and began to question our decision to leave.
I walked into the sanctuary at our new church as round 1 of sound-check was going on and I said, “Lord this isn’t me.” I had been involved in leading worship with different music styles, had experienced what charismatic churches like to call “prophetic flow” in worship services, and had many tangible encounters with God’s presence in that kind of environment, and to be honest, I was missing that in my current corporate worship situation.
While waiting for sound-check to start for the choir, the Lord spoke to my heart:
Stop mourning past seasons. I want to do something new in your life…trust Me.
We made it through sound-check and then 15 minutes later, I made my way onto the risers for worship service to begin. I tried all I could to “enter in,” ignoring the blank stares, straight faces, and lack of enthusiasm and expression from the congregation (I’ve concluded this isn’t just at Baptist churches, but can be found in churches all over the US…it’s just the fact that many don’t fully understand how much they have been forgiven and what great sacrifice Jesus made for them to be free), and centered-in on the One whom I was worshiping.
We were celebrating the Lord’s Supper and one of the song selections was “Jesus Paid It All” by Kristian Stanfill– a favorite of mine.
Just as we got to the bridge, I lifted up my hands in surrender and tears began to fill my eyes.
OH, PRAISE THE ONE WHO PAID MY DEBT/ AND RAISED THIS LIFE UP FROM THE DEAD
I have heard and sang those lyrics to this song countless times. I have stood on a stage for many years, whether performing in musicals and plays or leading worship. And this type of spontaneous overwhelming experience while singing, especially to the Lord, has only happened to me when I was involved in charismatic circles. I thought this was a result of “the anointing” or because our worship services were able to “flow” or they lasted longer than 30 minutes (sometimes).
In that moment, my ideologies and judgement about certain denominations crumbled. It doesn’t matter if I am in a “spirit-filled” church (which is actually a term that should be used for all churches who are filled with believers because all believers are “spirit-filled,” otherwise they wouldn’t be saved, and not ones who simply speak in tongues and embrace charismatic worship styles).
Above all, I believe the Holy Spirit is filling a place when He is allowed to guide us into all truth, bring conviction, and grant people repentance that leads to the revelation of Jesus Christ in whom they will put their whole trust in, thus becoming born-again or having restored fellowship with the Father once again.
“Prophetic flow,” extended times of worship, singing in tongues, dancing, hands raised, or clapping doesn’t make my worship in song better or more anointed.If the Holy Spirit is in a place, He is the anointing. Click To Tweet
And if you are a born-again believer, you are anointed!
God was doing something in my heart yesterday and my soul was trying to dominate with mixed emotions.
Knowing that there was something not quite right with my struggle to try to control my situation and questioning God’s will in my life, I went down to the alter towards the end of service and asked God to purify my heart.
Just then, the song that was being sung by our worship pastor met me right where I was:
“Make Us New” by Doug Mickan
Saturate us with your presence
Illuminate the sin within us
Help us to see the things that need to change
You know too well of our transgressions
Now we come with full confession
You are Holy and we are so undone
Purify our hearts
Make us new, make us new
Change our desire
Make it you, make it you
Remove the stain of shameful sin
Restore Your joy to us again
All consuming fire make us new
Tears streamed down my face and I lifted my hands in surrender.
I know that I may not be completely comfortable in my current season, but I do know that I must let go of the past and let God do a new thing in me, even if it is sometimes painful.
Then I’m reminded, the Potter’s wheel is never comfortable, and the molding process can hurt, but it is worth it to see God further shape me into a vessel that seems best to Him. He is making me new…again.