love your enemies

More Than a Conqueror

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 Life’s too short to not give your marriage everything you’ve got. 

What is the nature of your life? You are [really] but a wisp of vapour (a puff of smoke, a mist) that is visible for a little while and then disappears [into thin air]. ~James 4:14

And then, when you’ve got no more left to give – GIVE MORE by pressing into God.  In this way, you’re strong through your weakness.

But He said to me, My grace (My favour and loving-kindness and mercy) is enough for you [sufficient against any danger and enables you to bear the trouble manfully]; for My strength and power are made perfect (fulfilled and completed) and show themselves most effective in [your] weakness. ~2 Cor 12:9

And now you’ve just become more than a conqueror through Christ.

Yet amid all these things we are more than conquerors and gain a surpassing victory through Him Who loved us. ~Rom 8:37

YAY!

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Million Dollar Wife

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THE MINIMUM WAGE MENTALITY

This mentality agrees to become part of a marriage, and brings expectations of the wedding into the marriage – but soon finds out it’s not so much fun all the time.  In fact, this marriage isn’t like a wedding – at all.  It’s starting to require too much hard work:  short-sighted

She increasingly thinks someone (usually her husband) owes her happiness.  Being unable to see what she already has because of what she wants, she becomes unable to celebrate her own unique role as a wife because the grass is always greener … somewhere else:  fleshly-focused

Her focus on self is blocking the bigger picture so she can’t see the marriage from 40000ft – God’s view.  What He’s doing in both of them through the marriage.  All that comes into view is what her husband is presently like — not what he could be like:  near-sighted

At the heart of a minimum wage mentality, there’s conditional love.

It’s a kind of love that keeps score with checks and balances.  It leans heavily on the Law – how it should be – and because of the double-standard that often accompanies legalism, it’s blind to a vision of success for the future.  When I had a minimum wage mentality, nothing changed in our marriage – especially not me.  Familiar to me were phrases like.  What about my husband’s part?  Why do I have to go first?  How is that fair to me?

You can tell you might be stepping down into this mentality when you repeatedly hear:  Me – My – I

THE MILLION DOLLAR MENTALITY

This mentality is aware that every marriage has two broken sinners, so there’s going to be good days and bad days.  And sometimes even seasons that are gnarly and emotionally painful.  She accepts the truth about trials in marriage and believes that God can bring healing and wholeness out of any circumstance – she takes God at His Word:  faith

And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them. ~Rom 8:28

She understands that part of being a successful wife is fearlessness.  She’s able to bring her best to that role knowing God always comes through – she’s confident in God’s timing:  hope

Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people. ~Col 3:23

She sees strength and merit in Christ’s example for marriage.  How Jesus chose to please God rather than himself.  Even when the disciples, in their confusion of not really understanding, tried to get him to go against His promise, He didn’t falter because of His love for God.  She knows the source of this power is not her own, it belongs to God:  love

We love each other because he loved us first. ~1 John 4:19

At the heart of the million dollar mentality, there’s unconditional love.

She leaves the scorekeeping of offences to God by leaning heavily on Grace.  Her primary focus is eternal by letting the temporal events fall to the peripheral – and this changes everything.  The higher grade of seed you plant in the soil of the marriage, the higher grade of harvest God reaps into the life of His daughter – you.

[Remember] this: he who sows sparingly and grudgingly will also reap sparingly and grudgingly, and he who sows generously [that blessings may come to someone] will also reap generously and with blessings. ~2 Cor 9:6

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SOUL-ution:

It’s definitely a process to cultivate the million dollar wife. Perhaps you’ve already seen some miserly minimum wage seeds that you’ve planted and have taken steps to move into the million dollar mindset – fantastic, keep up the good work!

He who finds a [true] MILLION DOLLAR wife finds a good thing and obtains favour from the Lord.

~Prov 18:22

But it gets rough. We know it does. When we find we’ve stepped down from that high calling: the call to be a million dollar wife, the role we agreed to on our wedding day…we’ve got to get back.  If you’ve slipped away from being that good thing that God speaks about – your man needs you back.  Remember,

YOU  ARE

A

GOOD THING

 

 

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Grace Changes the Storyline

 

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We cheapen grace when it’s only received, but the value of grace is exponentially maximized when we give it away.  Grace will always change the storyline because it changes everything it touches, especially in marriage.  The closer the relationship the deeper the risk for pain, but this is how we bring the greatest results, for everyone.

Joseph changed his storyline the day he forgave his brothers (Genesis 37-50) when it was within his power to retaliate.  David changed his storyline by showing respect and kindness to an enemy that was trying to destroy him (2 Samuel 9), instead of going to war.

Jesus didn’t change our storylines so that we could take His grace and only receive it for ourselves, but rather so that we could share it with each other.  He gave us a real life demonstration at the cross of how this grace changes outcomes:  He showed us how to capitalize on it.

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THE POWER TO CHOOSE

Unity is the common thread that is weaved over every story where grace touches.  Grace bridges us from separation because of offence to unity and in the process makes us spiritual heroes in God’s eyes.

God gave me the power to change my own storyline from retaliation to forgiveness through the power that was bestowed on me when I received Grace.  Grace has a power that the world just doesn’t get.  It isn’t until you exercise it through giving it away that you can increase its strength and feel its empowerment.

I hear over and over again how difficult it is to step out of the euphoria of the wedding day into the reality where marriage is lived out.  I agree completely:  With some marriages, it is impossible to do – in human strength.  But when you bring a supernatural being into the picture, the view changes.

God has good plans for our marriages (Jeremiah 29:11), plans that we cannot even begin to understand (Isaiah 55:8-9).  Plans that He ordained from the beginning (Ephesians 2:10 ).  He knew all this before we were born (Psalm 139:16).  He then spends the rest of our lives renewing our minds (Ephesians 4:23) and changing our hearts (Romans 2:12) to come onside with His plan of grace.

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A Woman Ahead of Her Time

Sarah didn’t follow Abraham’s schemes because she was a doormat who believed she had no choice other than to sit in a victim mentality.  She was a woman who was victorious in love and victoriously ahead of her time.  She was living in the dispensation of grace before grace had arrived.

It was her choice.  She already had the freedom to choose, otherwise, Abraham wouldn’t have asked her to decide in his favour.

The World is a system.  It is more a way of thinking than it is a specific activity that takes place outside of a religious venue.

There is a sharp contrast between how the world system operates and how God operates in the spiritual realm.  The peace Jesus refers to in John 14:27 is just one of the examples He uses to draw our attention in order to contrast the two different methods.  Sometimes it gets tricky because the world masquerades as Jesus by appearing as right, righteous or good.  It’s only in the outcome of the benefit that the truth is revealed; am I all for me or am I all for another.

Sarah chose Abraham instead of herself, not just once but twice (see Genesis 12:11-13 & Genesis 20:2).  She trusted God and He protected her.  Her radical faith enabled her to choose grace for her husband, unlike Eve who believed her way was better than Adam’s.  Eve chose self-benefit which lead her to self-trust.  Sarah chose for the benefit of someone else other than herself which lead to deeper trust in God, instead of self.

In Sarah’s choice, she became free.  Free where it really counts.  In Eve’s choice, she became a slave.  She lost the freedom she already possessed and lost it where it really counts.  God has got some fine things to say about Sarah, but all He says about Eve’s character is that she was deceived.

Through feminism, the world tries to tell me I don’t have any freedom and to get it I must choose self over everyone else.  Yet it never actually gives way to any real freedom.  There is only one way to have freedom; true freedom for everyone.  It’s not found in a movement that tells you to take what you think is yours, but in a Person who demonstrated how to give it.

Satan uses the same old strategies in new trendy ways:

                Deception of withholding.  By masquerading as a good choice.  For the illusion of freedom.

Is the old Garden now the new Kingdom?  As the Church grows up in the world could feminism possibly be the one tree in the midst, to not eat from?

Sarah demonstrated how to shift our focus from the debilitating self-centered view that only sees a glass ceiling and instead rise to the top with the true vision of the only corporation that really matters:  Heaven’s hierarchy.

 

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POSSESSION (part 3) Courage to Possess

Possession Introduction here.  Possession (part 2) here.

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Who am I listening to?

Obstacles are about pushing past fear, and Satan knows this.  That’s why he spends so much time pushing the obstacle to block the blessing.  He knows that the more his voice focuses on the problem of the obstacle, the better chance he has of getting us to fold in fear of that obstacle.  It is simply a matter of time.  But, if we choose faith in  God rather than fear of  the obstacle, we become conquerors instead of victims.

Victim:  Fear of the obstacle

Fear is a parasite that feeds on your strength and releases toxin into your soul.  This toxin clouds your mind so you can’t think straight, and it has one purpose:  to mess with your emotions so that you end up with a victim mentality.
The Israelites learned about fear the hard way, remember?  The only ones who actually made it into Canaan were Joshua and Caleb … all the faithless complainers died (Numbers 13/14).  They were unable to conquer because they listened to the wrong counsel – the victims’ counsel.  It’s easy to recognize a victim mentality because their words always diminish.  The scouts themselves were terrified and the only way they could get the Israelites to embrace victim mentality was to convince them of just how impossible it would be to possess Canaan.  So, they gave a report that would distort the nation’s view of God’s power … the power that would have freed them to conquer as they chose obedience to God’s plan. Listen to the negative words that the spies used to cultivate fear instead of faith:

We can’t attack those people;

they’re way stronger than we are. […]

We scouted out the land from one end to the other—it’s a land that swallows people whole.

Everybody we saw was huge.

Why, we even saw the Nephilim giants.

Alongside them we felt like grasshoppers.

And they looked down on us as if we were grasshoppers.”

(Numbers 13:31-33)

 

This report was not only false – as it was directly opposite to what God had told them – but it was also malicious and designed to injure His reputation in the eyes of everyone.  The scouts slowly glided through the congregation of Israel whispering secretly to rally everyone against Joshua and Caleb.  It wasn’t that they lied, per se, they just capitalized on only one aspect of the situation.  It was slick and Satan’s fingerprint is all over it:  a lie by omission.  They told the truth, just not the whole truth.

Who am I listening to and what are they saying?

Conqueror:  Faith in God

Conquerors are people like David, Jesus and Peter. They have a power perspective not a victim view.  Goliath was a giant but David didn’t focus on that.  There were only a few fish and some bread, not enough for all the people, but Jesus didn’t focus on that.  Walk on water?  Impossible!  But Peter didn’t focus on that. (At least, not at first)  In Peter we see both choices stacked back to back.  At first he is fully engaged in the power perspective:

“Lord, if it is [really] You, Command me to come to You on the water. […] So Peter got out of the boat, and walked on the water.

But then his focus shifts to the victim view:

But then he saw [the effects of] the wind, he was frightened and began to sink […].”

Shifting our focus from faith to fear will always diminish us to failure.
Caleb displayed a power perspective by challenging the Israelites to ignore the spies, “Don’t listen to these guys, it doesn’t matter what the obstacles are, whether we are grasshoppers or not, it’s about who God is!  You are focusing on the wrong thing!  If we remember God and choose His promise … we are able.”   Caleb didn’t deny the truth of who or what the obstacles were, but concentrated on God’s supernatural ability instead of human strength.

Wrap up 

quote in textAll marriages face obstacles. Some are small and benign, and perhaps even laughable after some time has passed; and some are great offences that require everything you have in your soul.  It’s the greatest offences that bring greatest temptation to have our focus snatched away from the blessing and centered on the obstacle.
Listen to the voice you are hearing.  Really listen.  What does it say?
Does it say that your land of milk & honey is not possible because the obstacles and the giants are too big for you to conquer?  … too big for God to conquer?  After you listen to the voices is your attention drawn to the obstacle rather than God’s power and blessing?  How about the intent behind the voice?  Does it sound like the scouts – hopeless, weak and giving up in fear?  Or, does it sound like Caleb’s words – full of hope, strength and promise?
In the final analysis we need to silence the voices of the spies by listening to a Caleb; it is a voice that pushes through feelings of fear, with faith in God.  It says:  Don’t be afraid (John 14:27).  You will be more than OK (Rom 8:37).  Never, never,  NEVER give up. (ok, that one was Winston Churchill, but I believe he paraphrased it from Heb 13:5)

Who am I listening to

and are they a Caleb

encouraging me to courageously possess my land?!

A Worthy Purpose

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“True happiness is not attained through self-gratification, but through fidelity to a worthy purpose.” –Helen Keller

Have you defined your worthy purpose?

For me, being a wife is the most important role I fill while here on earth.  Submission to Darrell’s authority won’t be a dynamic in our relationship when we’re in heaven; but learning the humility to submit while on earth renews my mind and strengthens my faith.  This humility goes a long way towards shaping my inner person to be fit for eternity. (1 Cor 6:2-3)

God moves through my marriage in His limitless love and power to shape me into the unselfish daughter that He created me to be.  Being a part of marriage allows me to work towards something bigger than me.  Striving to make a positive difference in those closest to me diminishes my human selfishness by shrinking the desires of my flesh and moving me closer to the likeness of Christ.

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There is no one else other than a husband who qualifies to fit in every category of relationship:

  • …have unfailing love for one another1 Peter 4:8
  • … shall love his brother also  – 1 John 4:20
  • …love your neighbour as yourself  – Mark 12:31
  • …no one has greater love […] than to give up his own life for his friends  – John 15:13

Pulling strings or manipulating to gain the advantage in our marriage (more commonly known as getting your own way) will only bring temporary satisfaction; not true happiness.  And does nothing to teach the kind of love that Jesus demonstrated for me to learn.

Marriage isn’t supposed to teach me how to have my own way – do my own thing, or impose my own rights.  But to daily learn how to lay those things down for a better and permanent way.

  • Marriage is God’s plan to grow me.
  • Marriage belongs to God; it’s His way and in His control.
  • Marriage is the best opportunity I have to grow up.  It gives me real life practice of disciplines that will renew my mind to think like Jesus.

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Marriage Triangle (Part 1)

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Part 1 – The Myth We Discovered

There is a triangle paradigm used to depict the Christian marriage, aptly called a marriage triangle.  There’s many variations of it, but generally it looks like one of these:

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The premise is obvious:  The closer you get to God the closer your marriage will align to the perfection of God thereby bringing the two of you closer.

In theory this paradigm makes complete sense, but for real life practical application in marriage, it’s a miss and leaves us strandedBy glossing over our human brokenness – the truth of what we really are, with the illusion of perfection, it leads us more into a myth mindset than a paradigm that can help a marriage grow into the force it was meant to be.

This triangle image bolsters the idea of black and white in the marriage relationship and leaves us with a flavour of simplicity.  It doesn’t factor in the reality of any hurt, strife, offences, or conflicts that are inevitable, as Paul describes in 1 Corinthians 7:28, “… Yet those who marry will have physical and earthly troubles, …

Perfection is a myth

MYTH:  Darrell and I are equal in our maturity and our backgrounds won’t make any difference.  It doesn’t matter what each of us has been through in childhood and life, we’ll ascend the triangle towards God at an equal rate of maturity.

Both spouses growing equally in their respective relationship to God, and naturally getting closer to each other.  Yes, if all things were equal.  If I grew up on Bliss Boulevard and if Darrell came from Paradise Place and if we were making our home on Utopia Avenue, this triangle is a statement of truth.  Correctly depicting 2 Christians in a marriage; as the marriage should be.upwithmarriageJAN

But here’s the problem:

  • Earth is not utopia and balanced maturity is hardly the reality of two sinners that are …
  • Bound together in such a close relational space that they may as well be called one person …
  • Living in the fallen world.

Sorry for the bummer of all those grim verses but if we are going to live in reality and not fairyland, we need to be honest with ourselves about who we really are.  Let’s face it, there’s a reason Jesus had to die for us.  Also, if when we get a little high on ourselves, there is nothing more effective than a good dose of reality to level the playing field of marriage.

Without exception all of us are different.  Nobody grows and matures at an equal level, in the same way or during the same time frame.  Each of us have come from different backgrounds, lived different lives and have experienced hurt in ways that differ from each other, so our wounds are unalike.  Our healing and maturity will be anything but identical, equal or symmetrical as we grow closer independently to God.

Conflict is not a myth

You can’t live in this world and not be wounded.  Somehow, some way … all people are hurting (Mk 2:17).  Hurting people hurt others.  But as we heal and grow … we do less damage to each other.

Wounds are the root of offence, discord and strife.

They reveal where we need to be healed in order to grow-up.

Ferreting out the wounds from beneath our self-made coping mechanisms so that we can heal and grow, takes time.  And on top of the wounds, there’s also variations in our genders, our basic personality differences, which are not so basic if you’ve spent any time reading some of the Meyers Briggs information.  Not to mention birth order factors that probably come into play.

We humans are fearfully and wonderfully created with all our amazing complexities.  The good we live in and do belongs to us and our spouses; and so does the darkness.  It’s not as simple as:  sliding up our respective sides of the triangle into happily ever after.  So, what’s the solution?  Reciprocity.

Part 2 – ReciprocityWhat can you give to The God that has everything?  Same triangle – alternate and active perspective.  Helping each other to heal so that we each can grow closer to God.