February 09, 2013

The Nuts and Bolts - JOIN US for Marriage on Lent

The Nuts and Bolts -

I will fight for your marriage in prayer.

Longer rant of the statement above can be found...here.

I would love for you to join me in praying for the marriages of our friends, family, church family and others you might run into (and our own marriages). You could do this in your own manner, however, I will list here some things that might be helpful.

1. Make a list of who you know would be blessed by prayers for their marriage. Pray to God and ask Him to reveal others you might pray for. Put your list somewhere that you will see it every day. Add new names to your list as they come up.

2. Start praying. Lent begins on Wednesday, February 13th. Let's pray for 40 days. On Resurrection Sunday not only will we rejoice that we follow a Living God, we can rejoice that He has heard our prayers and through faith trust that some miracles either seen or unseen have been done in hearts. Prayers of God's people never fall on deaf ears. God is often times just waiting for us to ask, He never pushes His way in.

That's it!!

Some ideas of what to pray for:

Pray for the couples to be aware of Ephesians 6:10-20. Pray for humble hearts willing to kick pride to the curb. Pray for forgiving hearts. Pray for the Fruit of the Spirit to infiltrate their hearts. Pray for them to turn to God in prayer. Pray for them to desire to know God's word and to act on it in faith. Pray for unbelief to be gone. Pray for the children involved. Pray for hope. Pray for hard hearts to be softened. Pray for repentant hearts. Pray for love to be felt, seen and spoken. Pray for a mighty work of the Holy Spirit....please add to this list in the comments below.

I typed out a list of scriptures today and I just deleted them ; ) Ha! I will not be deterred. I will type them out again...but maybe you might help all of us by giving us a scripture or two that you think would be a blessing to pray over couples. Please add your scriptures in the comments....*Update to this comment, I am excited that there will be numerous guest posts through Lent that will bless us with scriptures, prayers and thoughts. Thank you, God for your provision in this area!

Marriage on Lent

Will you join me for praying for marriages during our 40 days of Lent.  It doesn't matter if you haven't participated in Lent before or if you are a seasoned veteran. Let's use this common time to bless God's people by calling out to God on their behalf.

Do you hear the people sing? 
Singing a song of angry men?
It is the music of a people
Who will not be slaves again!
When the beating of your heart
Echoes the beating of the drums
There is a life about to start
When tomorrow comes!
Will you join in our crusade?
Who will be strong and stand with me?
Somewhere beyond the barricade
Is there a world you long to see?
Then join in the fight.
(Les Mis)

Who of us has recently seen Les Mis at the theaters and were ready to wave a flag and join the fight of the oppressed? They had been overlooked long enough. They were ready to fight for their freedom from oppression no matter what the cost. As I am pursuing my education and planning to apply for the MFT Program at ACU in the Fall of 2014, I have been asked for a while what I would like to do with my degree? Would my primary practice be in marriage therapy? For the first several years I had said, "No, unless God has a different plan for me." I have learned to never say no and leave it at that. I always want to be joined with God and what He is doing. Well it seems as though God's plan for me involves fighting for marriages, but not waiting for my Masters to do it. And I am wanting to join HIS crusade to fight for His people's hearts. I bet some of you out there are too. 

I go to a church of hundreds of people, and every week I learn of another couple or more whose marriages have hit a wall. I think that most marriages hit a wall. The decision is whether that wall will destroy the marriage or if the couple will fight to keep their marriage whole, or in many cases bring wholeness for the first time. Some have plenty of fight left in them, some are worn out and even to get out of bed and take care of their kids is difficult. How can we help them? How can we help ourselves? We can be people of prayer for them. We can pray bold prayers over them. We can fight for them when they can't fight for themselves. A dear friend of mine once said to a common friend, "I will fight for your marriage," and she did. Through prayer and unwavering support to both the husband and wife.

Lots of echo's have led me to this place where I am ready to start beating the drums. 
1. Being a child of divorce that knocked my feet out from under me and eventually played into to my own demons of addiction during my late teens and early adulthood.
2. Not wanting to settle for less than what God had in store for my own marriage.
3. The knowledge of my Family Studies classes that have made it very plain that children of divorce are more likely to flounder, maybe not all right away, but with a term called the "sleeper effect" statistics show that a huge percentage of children of divorce will have issues once they hit the age where they start developing intimate (not necessarily sexual, but often times children of divorce are sexually active earlier).
Here are some basic facts -
Children from fatherless homes are:
15.3 times more likely to have behavioral disorders
4.6 times more likely to commit suicide
• 6.6 times more likely to become teenaged mothers
• 24.3 times more likely to run away
• 15.3 times more likely to have behavioral disorders
• 6.3 times more likely to be in a state-operated institutions
• 10.8 times more likely to commit rape
• 6.6 times more likely to drop out of school
• 15.3 times more likely to end up in prison while a teenager
• 73% of adolescent murderers come from mother only homes

stats from: http://fathersunite.org/statistics_on_fatherlessnes.html

It is important to not allow the false pictures that media creates lessen our understanding of the destructive repercussions of divorce.

Do we fight for marriages just for the kids? Wow! To give our children a legacy of a stable 2 parent home is worth fighting for. However, NO, that is not the only reason. The rate of divorce stats vary but basically about 35-40% of first marriages end up in divorce, that jumps to 50% on second marriage and 74% on third marriages. If we don't do the hard work in the marriage we are in, the problems we have will most likely show up again in later marriages. The biggest reason for me to continually work to have a marriage that blesses is that I will not let the devil's schemes decide my life for me when I have a God who is greater and more powerful, who speaks of love and forgiveness, who gave me His Holy Spirit that indwells in me to guide me in good and bad times.

SO why are divorce rates out of control? It's a Spiritual Battle. Ephesians 6:10-18 lays it out VERY plainly.

The Armor of God

10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. 13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
18 And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.

When one spouse looks at another and doesn't want to be married anymore is that a natural growing apart? Or is it a culmination of devil's schemes that we have allowed to become places of sin or strongholds? I would say it is a scheme. When a husband or wife falls in love with a coworker is it something that just happened, or have they lined up with the devil's scheme? I would say it's a scheme. When p*rn*gr*phy on the computer or wherever it comes from takes it's hold on a man or woman's heart and becomes an addiction is it just something that popped up on the screen and they had no choice to look? Or did they choose the scheme? I think they chose the scheme.

All of these places of sin are CHOICES that married people are faced with most days if they wake up. There are always ways for us to give into our own selfishness, to look too long at another person who is not our spouse, to just click to a site that seems to give relief but is a road paved to brokenness. We can not blame the devil for making us do anything, but we can credit him for having a part in trying to lure us- and he knows our weakness better than we do, but the choice to pounce is ours. Our God is greater than the devil's schemes. We can pursue HIM and transformation takes place in our desires. What we desire eventually will line up with what God desires for us.

God tells us clearly in scripture that he will ALWAYS give us a place to escape temptation so as not to sin.  

To me the key to not being duped into the devil's schemes is to be AWARE that it is a scheme. Years ago I participated in a Bible Study by Beth Moore, called, When Godly People do Ungodly Things. I can't recommend that study enough for men and women, even if you don't do the whole study and just get the cd's to play in your car to hear her lessons (at Lifeway) on this it would bless your life. But there is a visual I took away from that study that changed the way I looked at temptation and sin. She gave an example of a football field and each time someone sins the devil does a happy dance in the end zone. You have played into his hands and you have been tricked by the father of lies and he laughs at you and celebrates your weakness. The game is not over, but, just the vision of my sin allowing the devil to gloat and celebrate my weakness was enough for me to dig my heels in deep and take a stand against sin in my life. 

The last words in the study are from Micah 7:8 - 
 "Do not gloat over me, my enemy! Though I have fallen, I will rise, though I sit in darkness the Lord will be my light."

So what can we do? Our weapons are not hate, nor ugly words, nor condemnation. Our weapons are AWARENESS, PRAYER, AND SCRIPTURE. Our words and hearts will call out to God to save His people, make them aware of the devil's schemes, bring about repentant hearts, transform marriages to places of grace where healing and forgiveness are welcomed. 

Is there a world you long to see? Will you join the crusade? We have 40 days of Lent that will begin on Wednesday, February 13th. On the day before Valentine's Day will you join me in 40 days of prayer for our brothers and sisters, for our family members and neighbors, for those that sit next to us at church, or maybe they serve us our coffee at Starbucks? Can we get angry because we along with our friends are being duped by our selfish desires and the father of lies? Will you fight the fight for the oppressed? I am ready to fight with praying words, with scriptures prayed, with groups or alone, I will pray for 40 days.

Is there a world you long to see? Let's change it a precious gift from God....PRAYER.

I will be posting some specific scriptures if you think that would be helpful. I would also love to get a group of people together to pray, or be prayed for during this process. I would encourage you to do the same.

The disclaimer - one reason I think that people (including myself) are hesitant to talk about divorce is that it is SO prevalent. The last thing we want to do is hurt our loved ones by speaking to this subject when they have been divorced. God is a God of redemption, and thankfully we live by grace if we are walking in Him. However, we can't be silent to fight the fight for those who need us because we are afraid to hurt someone's feelings. I pray that God will work in those broken places and that those who have been hurt by divorce will not take a post like this as a place of condemnation for themselves, but that they come from a place of knowing how much it hurts and would join in the fight so that others might be spared from the pain of broken covenants. We are all in this together.