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.

I want it all

What does a life look like that has come alive to God? It’s not going to be the same.The Gospel message is more than reciting a prayer to accept Jesus as your Savior.

We all desire something. The thing we desire was placed in us by God; and He has given us the choice to walk in it, but without His Son we cannot be full in it.

What is this thing that we desire?

Matthew 22:37-38 (NIV) Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’[a] 38 This is the first and greatest commandment.”

That’s not the only place you will find that either.

Deuteronomy 6:5 (NIV) Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.

Do you know what those next verses say? These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the door frames of your houses and on your gates.

We do the first, but lack confidence in the second part.

Acts 4:10-14 (TPT) Peter states: “you and everyone else in Israel should know that it is by the power of the name of Jesus that the crippled man stands here today completely healed! You crucified Jesus Christ of Nazareth,[a] but God raised him from the dead. 11 This Jesus is ‘the stone that you, the builders, have rejected, and now he has become the cornerstone!’[b] 12 There is no one else[c] who has the power to save us, for there is only one name to whom God has given authority by which we must experience salvation:[d] the name of Jesus.”

Here is what I want to put inside of you: 13 The council members were astonished as they witnessed the bold courage[e] of Peter and John, especially when they discovered that they were just ordinary men who had never had religious training.[f] Then they began to understand the effect Jesus had on them simply by spending time with him. 14 Standing there with them was the healed man, and there was nothing further they could say.

Do you remember the feeling of when you first accepted Christ?

Matthew 13:44 (NLT) The Kingdom of Heaven is like a treasure that a man discovered hidden in a field. In his excitement, he hid it again and sold everything he owned to get enough money to buy the field.

Now I know some of you are like, ‘now you are asking too much of me’. Really? He has not asked for all of us to sell all of our belongings. He did not tell me that.

What does Paul tell us? Philippians 3:7-16 (NKJV) But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ. Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith; 10 that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death, 11 if, by any means, I may attain[b] to the resurrection from the dead.

Let me tell you, I haven’t gotten all there yet, but like Paul: 12 Not that I have already attained,[c] or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. 13 Brethren, I do not count myself to have [d]apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, 14 I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. 15 Therefore let us, as many as are mature, have this mind; and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal even this to you. 16 Nevertheless, to the degree that we have already [e]attained, let us walk by the same [f]rule, let us be of the same mind.

One thing that I can say about myself, I am not the same person I was a year ago. I am not the same person I was 5 years ago and I sure am not the same person I was 22 years ago when I accepted Christ as my Lord and Savior.

We get to a place in our thoughts and we think we are “okay” because we have a balanced life.  That’s our goal right? To have a balanced life, to raise my kids in a safe environment, where none of us are suffering. Do you know how strange that is to the rest of the Christian world? American Christianity is so different from the rest of the world. They are willing to die just by admitting they are a Christian and here we are not being bold about the divinity of Jesus so that we do not offend. We are willing to deny His power to placate someone’s feelings because that’s “Love.”

We are willing to deny His power to placate someone’s feelings because that’s “Love.”

This is the fullness of the Gospel: Luke 14:25-27 (MSG) 25-27 One day when large groups of people were walking along with him, Jesus turned and told them, “Anyone who comes to me but refuses to let go of father, mother, spouse, children, brothers, sisters—yes, even one’s own self!—can’t be my disciple. Anyone who won’t shoulder his own cross and follow behind me can’t be my disciple.

God has really been pointing out this word “refuse” to me this year. It started when I read about Solomon. God spoke to him about marrying all the women from different nations and Solomon refused to listen, that was the beginning of the end of the lineage of David as kings.

Definition of refuse: verb. Indictes that one is not willing to accept or grant (something offered or requested). Fails to perform a required action.

Luke 14:33 (MSG) Simply put, if you’re not willing to take what is dearest to you, whether plans or people, and kiss it good-bye, you can’t be my disciple. This was Jesus speaking.

I know that is not a popular place to be in this day in age. We could not be true pastors if we do not take this to heart.

Acts 20:26-27 (TPT) If any of you should be lost, I will not be blamed, for my conscience is clean, because I have taught you everything I could about God’s eternal plan and I’ve held nothing back.

I have been hurt in the church. I know what it is like to have people say things about me that are not true. That does not mean I have a right not to do what I am gifted in.

In March of this year, right when Covid had caused the nation to go into Stay at Home Orders, I decided that since I could not go to the gym that I would start to hike. It would help me keep in shape. Now I am heavy in the bottom area. I have not had a thigh gap since I got pregnant with my oldest. My body is just not made that way. So I over compensated for the weight displacement and pulled my calf muscle (the top part). In turn that caused my knee to become inflamed and I could not bend it. I had to let it rest and apply ice and heat intermittently. My goal was not just to get it to feel better, but to get it to where I could exercise again.

The same is when we get hurt in the body of Christ. I cannot allow it to stop me. The Word of God is there to cool my spirit man to bring healing. The Holy Spirit gets my spirit man on fire to do the works of the ministry. I need both in my life. If I do not allow both to work, then I am in danger of becoming lukewarm and then I refuse to move.

A refusal to be moved!

Let’s look some dangers that we can be in:

  •  “I like hearing stories of those who do radical things for Christ, but that’s too extreme for me to do.”
  • “I do not want to be rejected or thought of as weird, so I am not going to share my faith.”
  • “I am willing to give only when I know I have enough to meet my standard of living.”
  • “I love God, but that kind of devotion is asking too much. That is only for pastors, missionaries and radicals.”

Ask yourself: Has your relationship with God actually changed the way you live? Do you see evidence of God’s kingdom in your life? If not make up your mind right now that you are going to allow God more access to your life.

My husband was using these next scriptures in a recent sermon, I was leaping with excitement in my heart for these Words for the church. I believe they were prophetic in more ways that you could even know:

Ezekiel 37:1-3 (AMP) The hand of the Lord was upon me, and He brought me out in the Spirit of the Lord and set me down in the middle of the valley; and it was full of bones. He caused me to pass all around them, and behold, there were very many [human bones] in the open valley; and lo, they were very dry. And He said to me, “Son of man, can these bones live?” And I answered, “O Lord God, You know.” 

These dry bones could be you and I when we do not proclaim the Word of God in our lives. When we refuse to get in His Presence. When we refuse to get in His Word. When we refuse to speak His Word only. They were not always dry bones.

Ezekiel 37:4-6 (AMPC) Again He said to me, Prophesy to these bones and say to them, O you dry bones, hear the word of the Lord. Thus says the Lord God to these bones: Behold, I will cause breath and spirit to enter you, and you shall live; And I will lay sinews upon you and bring up flesh upon you and cover you with skin, and I will put breath and spirit in you, and you [dry bones] shall live; and you shall know, understand, and realize that I am the Lord [the Sovereign Ruler, Who calls forth loyalty and obedient service].

Hear my heart: 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!

God is not the one fencing us in.

Lisa Bevere in Lioness Arising writes, “But the lioness did not move outside their enclosure until their hunger exceeded their desire to be safe. In the same way, our lack of vision or hunger for something more can limit and restrain us from stepping out into the wild. We are emboldened and held captive by how we see ourselves, our world, and our God. The world ‘out there’ can look daunting if you imagine it a dark, scary place.”

1 John 4:4 (NIV) You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.

What is stopping your from stepping out into desiring more for God in your life?

Do not let these things keep you from having freedom:

  • Lack
  • Fear
  • Shame
  • Sickness
  • Hopelessness
  • Anxiety
  • Anger
  • Hurt
  • Offense
  • Disappointment

Ezekiel 37:10 So I prophesied as He commanded me, and the breath and spirit came into [the bones], and they lived and stood up upon their feet, an exceedingly great host.

Know His Word, Speak His Word. Desire everything that God has for you! He wants to give it to you!! He wants you to be full in Him. He wants you to be made whole. The power to do it is still on earth today.