Begin Again

Yesterday was Valentine’s Day and for the past few years my husband and I take the time to talk to the church together about marriage and relationships. This year it was important that we talked about managing conflict and walking in forgiveness. This year with the pandemic we have spent more time with our families, especially if you were in a stay at home order like we were.

I think we did pretty good with it. The stressful activity we did was to paint the outside of our house. We have a ranch style home built in 1968, addition was done in 2000. Part of the house is on foundation, the other is crawl space. It is a brick home that was painted a sea foam green. When we moved in thirteen years ago I had always wanted to paint the house, I did not like the color. The home has sixteen windows that looks to be original to the house (except for the addition) and they have the pained glass. We had gotten quotes to get the job done. They ranged from six to eight thousand dollars. The pandemic hit, and we all had to stay home together. My husband and I went out and bought a paint sprayer, rollers, brushes, paper, tape and lots of paint. Stay at home did not mean we could not go outside, and I did not want my kids playing video games all day.

Marriage, more than any other relationship, is going to highlight your flaws. A project of this magnitude with two teenage boys, was going to highlight some flaws as well. We each had a job, and we assisted each other when our job did not need to be done at the moment. The struggle that we found was when we needed help, how to communicate that. In the middle of the frustration on not being able to do this task or problem solve it, how to communicate without filtering that frustration in how we talked to each other.

Ephesians 4:1-3 (TLB) I beg you—I, a prisoner here in jail for serving the Lord—to live and act in a way worthy of those who have been chosen for such wonderful blessings as these. Be humble and gentle. Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s faults because of your love. Try always to be led along together by the Holy Spirit and so be at peace with one another.

We each have faults. In love, we must make allowances for each other. Grace needed to be applied to each other. Be patient with your children and spouse. Have faith in what your marriage/family can become. Do not heap on expectations on where you think you should be. Enjoy the journey.

Hebrews 12:2 (MSG) Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we’re in. Study how he did it. Because he never lost sight of where he was headed—that exhilarating finish in and with God—he could put up with anything along the way: Cross, shame, whatever. 

If in the process of painting the house we fixed your thoughts on the faults and failure’s of each other the project would probably had never gotten completed. Our family relationship would have suffered a great loss. The problems in our marriage/family are going to be magnified if we do not keep our eyes on Jesus. Study how He lived His life. He had some different personalities to do life with.

The problems in our marriage/family are going to be magnified if we do not keep our eyes on Jesus.

The bigger picture is that I want my children to have lasting relationships. The highlighted flaws that their parents have are going to come out in front of them. When my husband and I first got married my reaction to a question or statement would have been returned with a quick straight to the point answer. I filtered my responses through defense. I thought I was always under a microscope waiting for someone to point out my flaws, this person now being my husband. In return, how I answered was not clear or was often misunderstood because of how I said it, not in what I said. This escalated the conversation into a fight. My husband when he is flustered can come off as very aggravated, this combined with filtering through defense was a combination for disaster. One of us needed to do something. I went to a really good source. I went to my Word.

Colossians 3:13 (NLT) Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others.

Philippians 4:8 (TLB) Fix your thoughts on what is true and good and right. Think about things that are pure and lovely, and dwell on the fine, good things in others. Think about all you can praise God for and be glad about.

When tensions started to flair, we had to go back to this. Someone was not ready to change how they approached the problem, that is okay because they need grace in the moment and we are going to give it to them. Did we have a few blow ups? Yes! We are not perfect. In the end, I do not recall what they were about. I do know that the house is painted. We have to redo the porch, we did not seal it…oops! We still love each other. We still enjoy each other’s company. We have had to tackle other projects together and did not dread it!

It is not too late for your marriage or your family. For us, it started with one person making up their mind that they were not going to hold onto offense and to be quick to forgive. I just so happened to be that person in my home. I had to lay down my pride and me wanting to always be right. In turn there was a change in me. I no longer responded in defense. Peace was raging in me, so it was also becoming a part of what our home would be.

You can make up your mind to begin again. What if you spouse is not wanting to make the change? You make the change. Let God work on them. At the end of all of this, we will give an account of what we did, not what they did. I want to hear “well done good and faithful servant”. We are not going to hear “well done perfect servant.” So please stop putting that expectation on the people you have relationships with, including leaders. I want to point out that He uses the word servant. Are we serving in our families? If not, you can begin now. It is not too late. I do not regret making that change. I have my moments, because I am not going to be perfect at it all the time, in return my family have made allowances for me as I have made allowances for them. It is pretty nice.

If you need prayer or would like to talk about anything feel free to email me at amanda@desiringformore.org.

Go Completely Through the Gate

Jesus tells us, “I am the Gate” some translations say He is the Door. John 10:9 (TPT) I am the Gateway. To enter through me is to experience life, freedom and satisfaction.

For far too long the church has represented a life of mundane. No excitement, without vibrancy. A standard set on restrictions and rules. I believe that is why we went into the extreme of the “Friendly Seeker.” Do you know how much freedom I have experienced in Jesus? So much joy, and I did not need a church program to experience it. It was revealed to me through me seeking a deeper relationship with Jesus.

Jeremiah 29:13 (AMP) Then (with a deep longing) you will seek Me and require Me (as a vital necessity) and (you will) find Me when you search for Me with all your heart.

There are things in our lives that fight for our attention, that want to be our vital necessity. I made a decision when I accepted Christ, that I was going to be all in. It was not going to be an “I love Jesus” , but I still do these things because Jesus paid the price for my sins mentality. I actually talked to a guy a few years ago and asked him, “Why did Jesus die for us?” His answer, “He died so that I can sin.” This was so very sad to me, because he was an attender of a mega church in our area. How has the message of Jesus not caused a desire for us to change, to want to be holy as He called us to be?

I was reading a book called Adamant by Lisa Bevere this week and ran across this passage: 2 Peter 1:3-4 (ESV) His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promise, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire.

He came so that we can overcome sin in our lives. His grace is there because He knows what it is like to be human and to have those desires.

Ephesians 4:17-19 (ESV) Now this I say and testify in the Lord, that you must no longer walk as the Gentiles do, in the family of their minds. They are darkened in the understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart. They have become callous and have given themselves up to sensuality, greedy practice of every kind of impurity.

In that day there were “sins” that were culturally acceptable. Going into sex shrines was culturally acceptable, but does that mean it would be okay after they came to know Jesus. That was the question I asked myself when I accepted Jesus into my life. I was eighteen, engaged to be married and was having a sexual relationship with my fiance. Culturally this is acceptable. It is encouraged now to live together before considering marriage. Deep down within me I felt a desire to make Jesus my everything. If I was going to say Jesus is my Lord, I had to make a change or that relationship with my new love (Jesus) would only be shallow. I did not want to just dip my toe in the water, I wanted to get a good swim in! I went to my fiance (now my husband) and told him, “If we are going to do this relationship with Jesus thing, we are going to do it right, we cannot have sex again until we get married.” He was on board, however, if he was not I was prepared to walk away from him.

Deep down within me I felt a desire to make Jesus my everything.

When I met John I was so very lonely. I prayed, without having a relationship, that God would send me my husband and I would serve Him the rest of my life. I did not know what I was praying, but God did. Neither John nor myself were in places to be serving God with our lives. I wanted to be loved so much that I was the one who pursued the intimate physical relationship. That was why when God spoke to my heart that Sunday night I was going to be all in. He told me that the pedestal that I had put John on, the one that I sought my love from, was where He belonged.

I am here to tell you that I made many more mistakes. God had to work on things in my life like anger, resentment, unforgiveness, wanting to get my way and wanting to pitch fits. I did not look perfect and still do not. Lisa Bevere put it so eloquently in her book, “As we read the Word, we pray that the Holy Spirit will reveal any areas of conformity and compromise that we may be tolerating out of habit or ignorance.”

When I look at Jesus as my Gate, I do not look at a door that wants to hold me in. It is like a new garment to me. In that garment it is full of grace. Grace that tells me that I can make it, that I do not have to be ashamed of my past, that in Him is where I find true love and fullness of joy.

2 Corinthians 6:11-13 (MSG) Dear, dear Corinthians, I can’t tell you how much I long for you to enter this wide-open, spacious life. We didn’t fence you in. The smallness you feel comes from within you. Your lives aren’t small, but you’re living them in a small way. I’m speaking as plainly as I can and with great affection. Open up your lives. Live openly and expansively!

It is time that we submerge head first into the life that He wants us to live. One of my favorite verses: 2 Corinthians 3:18 (TPT) We can all draw close to him with the veil removed from our faces. And with no veil we all become like mirrors who brightly reflect the glory of the Lord Jesus. We are being transfigured into his very image as we move from one brighter level of glory to another. And this glorious transfiguration comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.

It is a process that we allow Him to transform us. I am not where I want to be, but I am not where I use to be. Through this Gate, my view, my world, has become so much larger! I am no longer fenced in to that sin desire. He has set me free from the captivity!