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How to Get It Right: Being Single, Married, Divorced, and Everything in Between

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How to Get It Right

Chapter 2: Questions and Answers

Coming Unglued:

Many years ago, I heard it said that when you glue two pieces of wood together with permanent glue, even if you pry them apart with force, there are remaining fragments of each piece of wood permanently attached to the other. So it is with divorce. One is never completely free from the other because there are fragments of memories that will forever remain.

I am twice divorced; once from an abusive, vile, adulterous husband, and once from a great guy. In my second marriage (the nice one), I was in my own turmoil given the abuse of the first marriage. I am now married to the man for whom God created me before the foundation of the Earth. Even after forgiveness (of self and the ex-spouses) and repentance of my own wrong along the way, there are fragments that will forever remain. This is not God’s punishment, but rather God’s Law in effect. It’s simply the result of having been glued together with someone with permanent glue (covenant vows) and ripping yourselves apart (broken covenant).

Some divorces must happen. Without getting into a debate, this is about the pain of a fallen world and bad choices. In the grand scheme of things, its obvious that few marriages are actually God ordained. Regardless of one’s personal take on this subject, divorce happens. Even when I counsel people and I happen to agree that divorce is necessary, I caution them that divorce is never an easy out. Divorce is never easy. It is both frightening and emotionally draining. The individuals must determine between themselves and God which route will usher true healing. Sometimes it’s working it out through great sacrifice, dedication and seeking the face of God, but unfortunately, other times it is divorce for the sake of being able to truly come back to a place of sanity, safety, and healing, aka peace.

If people who are single (divorced or never married) would grasp the magnitude of the marriage covenant, they would not so readily jump in. Married people, likewise, would not so readily jump out. Even after the pain of wounds has healed, the scars are permanent no matter how far you move away from time and space. No one can dictate who someone should or shouldn’t marry, or who should or should not divorce. That is between the individuals and God.

We must, however, caution all who come for counsel as to the ramifications of both. Every situation is different. There are Scriptures we could all debate and toss around, but it still comes back to the individual and their walk with God. Let us not forget that we all desperately need the free gift of both grace (that which we do not deserve) and mercy (not getting deserved punishment).

Q and A:

I have a dear friend and brother in Christ who posed some very good thoughts and questions. They are as follows:

  1. I have questions about your belief that there’s but one God-ordained person that He wants each of us to find and marry. Rather than that being a comforting thought (that God created someone just for me), in the emotional cauldron of dating/courtship, I’d be terrified of picking the wrong person, knowing that getting it wrong would doom me to a life of marital misery.

Of course we should want God’s perfect will for our lives and need to pray for direction in this most important of decisions. Christians are under orders to marry only other believers; that much we know. And I remember the admonition of my youth leader when I was a teenager: “Don’t date someone you already know you couldn’t marry.” Adhering to that would preclude a lot of needless risk. And I hear what you’re saying about people marrying somebody they’re currently having an affair/living with. What have they gained once they tie the knot? A spouse they already know is more than willing to have sex outside of marriage! What a catch!

  1. But why would God tell Christians to marry only believers, if the choice was not ours to make? Wouldn’t it be more consistent if the Bible said, “Determine who it is that God has created for you, then marry them.” There are so many other issues we consider in choosing a life-partner, variables such as compatibility (what we think is important, what we have in common) and practicality (kids, money, health, etc.). Still, a Christian hoping to marry may find themselves with more than one suitable choice. Could it be that God would bless a marriage to any one of them, as long as we don’t knowingly disobey Him? Can we assume that all marriages that do break up failed because it wasn’t a union with that one, God-ordained person? Or that happy, successful, God-honoring marriages are impossible if we mistakenly choose the one who was not God’s top choice for us?

My response to “fear of messing it up” is this – we must understand that when we draw so near unto the face and heart of God, mess-ups are fewer and farther between. This knowledge should usher peace, not anxiety. Fear comes from punishment, but perfect love casts out fear (I John 4:18). The more in love with Yahweh we grow, the less room fear will have a place to live and mutate into a state of a spiritual paraplegic.

More often than not, we are looking for a mate rather than looking for the perfect will of God to manifest through our lives. With that frame of mind, we’re already off course. When we do find someone we desire to marry, we generally don’t seek God to answer our question of “Are they right or wrong?” We only ask God to bless the union, regardless of His will. If we spend our time focused on the perfect will of God instead of “Who can I marry,” everything will change. Instead of seeking a mate we should be seeking the Kingdom of God and His righteousness (Matthew 6:33).

Simply stated, when God’s people seek Him first and His mission He has set before us, we’ll stop focusing on, “What if I mess up? What if I do the wrong thing or want to marry the wrong person,” and begin focusing on the Kingdom, supernaturally-naturally, our ordained mate will be presented and, through Holy Spirit already in full force, in time we will know the difference. Satan will send decoys along the route to throw us off the spiritual scent, but keen discernment from Holy Spirit actively moving within us will allow discernment to kick in and overpower emotions and lusts of the fleshly man. It’s as simple as that. The biggest problem with God’s people is that we have grown as impatient as the world in need of Christ. Whether we want to acknowledge it or not, the fact remains.

With the question of, “Could it be that God would bless a marriage to any one of them, as long as we don’t knowingly disobey Him? Can we assume that all marriages that do break up failed because it wasn’t a union with that one God-ordained person? Or that happy successful God-honoring marriages are impossible if we mistakenly choose the one who was not God’s top choice for us?”

I personally do not believe that just because a marriage breaks that it was not of God. We have the innate ability to ruin the best of things, marriages included. Also, I don’t believe that God can never bless a union that was not His perfect will. That would imply that something is impossible for God. Everything God has done on the behalf of mankind has been worked around our foolish mistakes. If the two people earnestly desire to be pleasing in His sight, God can work any number of miracles.

Also, I would like to add that there are certain people for certain seasons whether it pertains to marriage or any variety of relationships. A person may very well have two ordained mates, but obviously separately in different seasons. Say someone marries a person that is ordained for them and then they die prematurely. That does not mean that since he or she was their created mate that there won’t be another season (after healing) for their second ordained mate to come along. However, there is also the possibility that there was only one and the rest of their life is to be spent in celibacy as a eunuch. These are very intimate issues that need to be resolved between the individual and God. Again, when the focus remains on the Kingdom of Heaven in every season, there won’t be much room for error.

  1. His next question was: “What are the acceptable reasons for getting married? How does your ‘one ordained mate’ theory square with Paul’s admonition that those who ‘burn with passion’ (to Christ-followers) should go on and get married (1 Corinthians 7:9)?” In vv. 26-28, Paul says that, when it comes to marrying or staying single, we’re to count the cost, choose wisely, honor whatever commitments we’ve already made, then go ahead and decide based on those considerations. He doesn’t seem to have a one-reason, one-person view. If so, wouldn’t it be more logical to say: ‘Pray for God to show you if He wants you to marry. If the answer is yes, ask Him to point out the one’?”

Good question, indeed, and not without an answer. I respond by skipping to vv. 32-35, which read, “But I want you to be free from concern. One who is unmarried is concerned about the things of Yahweh, how he may please Yahweh; but one who is married is concerned about the things of the world, how he may please his wife, and his interests are divided. The woman who is unmarried, and the virgin, is concerned about the things of Yahweh, that she may be holy both in body and spirit; but one who is married is concerned about the things of the world, how she may please her husband. This I say for your own benefit; not to put a restraint upon you, but to promote what is appropriate and to secure undistracted devotion to Yahweh.”

With this in mind, for me, it only solidifies the relevance of God-ordained spouses. Paul speaks candidly that if you cannot control yourself in your “burning,” marry, but with the marriage your interests will be divided between Yahweh and your spouse. However (this is a large however), if we conduct ourselves in self-discipline (as we are repeatedly instructed, I Corinthians 9:27) and wait upon the perfect will of Yahweh for our mate, how beautiful a union! In this, both the husband and the wife are focused on God together; hence, no division will occur. Both will be so Kingdom-focused, Kingdom-minded and Kingdom-driven that everything else will fall into its proper place. In this, they have secured undistracted devotion to the Lord while married.

Sadly, as it stands today, we burn, therefore, in the effort to not commit fornication (wrong motive for marriage), we enter a covenant not ordained by God; He merely allows it. Let’s face facts, we live in a world where followers of Christ and non-followers conduct themselves in the same manner leaving us all bewildered and hazy on the will of God. People in and out of the body of Christ are committing adultery and fornication as though it is absolutely acceptable.

Many reason within themselves, “God will forgive me.” But, as I’ve stated in previous books, forgiveness is not the issue at hand. Forgiveness was given at the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus. Blessings of God, on the other hand, are the issue. When we do whatever we want and then just expect God to bless any ol’ marriage based on the above words of Apostle Paul, we limit His hand of blessings. We forge a mess without even realizing what we’ve done until the mess has fully metastasized in our lives.

Once we finally get on board with God’s perfect will (obedience) verses His permissive will (disobedience), we are left in a bit of a quandary, the preverbal pickle, wondering why God has forsaken us. It does not have to be this way. Granted, God can absolutely bless wrong marriages if both the husband and wife choose submission both to God and one another, but it must be a joint, unified decision which happens next to never. Most just continue to co-exist until death and call it a successful marriage all the while condemning those who “didn’t go the distance.”

“And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28, NAS).”

“God loves the individuals who make up the marriage more than He loves the marriage institution!” Stephen Gola, author of Divorce: God’s Will?

Prayer: Father, as I read this book, I pray to understand what You want me to personally apply to my life. I desire to know what You know and understand what You understand. I thank You for helping me move out of the normal thinking of the traditions of man and step into a new dimension of revelation that I may walk in freedom and holiness as You have designed for Your people. Amen.

How to Get It Right: Being Single, Married, Divorced, and Everything in Between

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How to Get It Right

Chapter 1: God’s Perspective

“When you brought in foreigners, uncircumcised in heart and uncircumcised in flesh, to be in My sanctuary to profane it, even My house, when you offered My food, the fat and the blood; for they made My covenant void – this in addition to all your abominations (Ezekiel 44:7).”     

Understanding God’s View:

God hates divorce; however, we need to clarify what type of divorce is hated. God understands divorce, for God has been divorced as noted in Ezekiel 44:7. To “make My covenant void” is to divorce. He divorced His holy Bride in times past due to her harlotry and deep-seeded wickedness. God wants His people to view both marriage and divorce, not from the perspective of Law, but from His heart. He is Law, but He sent His Son to fulfill the Law that mankind was incapable to fulfilling; therefore, we must look at things as a whole instead of in fragments.

Eunuch for the Kingdom of God:

Marriage is a physical depiction of our spiritual union (marriage) with God. In Matthew 19:11-12, Jesus says, “Not all men can accept this statement, but only those to whom it has been given. For there are eunuchs who were born that way from their mother’s womb; and there are eunuchs who were made eunuchs by men; and there are also eunuchs who made themselves eunuchs for the sake of the Kingdom of Heaven. He who is able to accept this, let him accept it.”

A eunuch, by man’s definition, is a “castrated human male.” However, spiritually speaking, since the Spirit is neither male nor female, either gender can be a eunuch in so much as they choose to abstain from sex for the greater good of God’s Kingdom. It could be one who has homosexual tendencies but, for the sake of the Kingdom of Heaven, he or she vows to God to abstain. It could be a sex addict who, for the sake of the Kingdom of God, abstains altogether and so on.

We should be so in love with God that obedience is our desire, not our burden. This comes from trust in who He is, therefore we want to submit because His ways are best. Unfortunately, even when we possess the earnest desire for obedience, we rarely know what true obedience is. We must all keep in mind that not all people are meant to marry, but whether we are or whether we are not, there is always a plan. If the one who is called to be a eunuch can accept it, they should seek Yahweh to give them peace, joy, and understanding of their God-ordained purpose.

 

Divorce Hope:

If on the other hand one is to marry, God specifically creates their mate so that, when the two come together, they perfectly unify with one another and with God. In this, God is honored and the people are richly blessed. There are countless marriages not of God, but of man. To open this first chapter, I have inserted the following excerpt from Divorce Hope so as to lend insight from someone else’s point of view on marriage and divorce:

We have heard this Scripture: “Yahweh God of Israel says that HE HATES DIVORCE” (Malachi 2:16). This is almost always quoted as if God hates all divorces in general. But that’s just not true. We have previously read from the Bible books of Ezra, Nehemiah, Jeremiah, Deuteronomy, and 1 Corinthians that God is not against divorce. Then why all the confusion concerning why God said that “He hates divorce?” The reason for the confusion is because there are TWO “kinds” of marriages and TWO “divorces” being mentioned in the Malachi 2:11-16 passage.

The “divorces” were not official divorces; they didn’t need to be. They were already previously married and “unofficially” married again. The Hebrew word shalach means “putting away”― a separation, as correctly translated in most Bibles. However, the King James and a number of newer versions have incorrectly translated shalach as to mean: divorce. It never meant divorce and it doesn’t mean divorce. The word was most likely translated as “divorce” to fit what was taught in the church. Shalach is just a common word used throughout the Old Testament which means to: go, separate or to send. That’s it!

So why did God angrily say that He “…hated putting away [a separation]?” “…Because you have not kept My ways [concerning marriage, divorce, and remarriage] but have SHOWN PARTIALITY IN THE LAW” (Malachi 2:9). The Law specifically stated that when a man got a divorce from his wife that he was to write “…her a CERTIFICATE OF DIVORCE, put it in her hand, AND [shalach] send her out [put her away]…” (Deuteronomy 24:1). God also commanded them not to marry anyone who did not serve Him ― who served a foreign god (See Nehemiah 13:25-30). Instead, men separated from their wives without ever giving them a Certificate of Divorce and then illegally married someone else. This is why Yahweh said that they were still “their wife by covenant.” The marriage covenant had never been dissolved by the Divorce Certificate.

“Yahweh’s holy institution which He loves…Yahweh has been witness between you and the wife of your youth…[and] SHE [STILL] IS YOUR COMPANION AND YOUR WIFE BY COVENANT. For Yahweh God of Israel says that He hates divorce [shalach], [separating without a Certificate of Divorce]…. He has [illegally] married the daughter of a foreign god. May Yahweh cut off…the man who does this being awake and aware.” Malachi 2:11,12a,14b,c,16a

Because these men had remarried illegally ― separated from their wives without giving them a Certificate of Divorce, they were in adultery as Jesus stated: “Furthermore it has been said, “Whoever PUTS AWAY [separates from {apoluo}] his wife, LET HIM GIVE HER A CERTIFICATE OF DIVORCE. But I say to you that whoever PUTS AWAY [separates and remarries without being divorced from] his wife for any reason except sexual immorality causes her to commit adultery: and whoever marries a woman who is PUT AWAY [separated without being divorced {apoluo}] commits adultery” (Matthew 5:31-32). (Yahweh never forgot about the Malachi incident when He came to Earth to redeem lost man). The Old Testament Hebrew word shalach and the New Testament Greek word apoluo are equivalent which will be discussed later.

Because these disobedient men still had “un-divorced” wives, Yahweh did not command them to give their illegal wives a Certificate of Divorce, rather, they simply had to “separate, put them away, [shalach].” SO DID GOD HATE DIVORCE? NO! RATHER, GOD HATED THAT THE HUSBANDS WERE SEPARATING FROM THEIR WIVES WITHOUT GIVING THEM A CERTIFICATE OF DIVORCE WHICH WOULD ENABLE THEM TO GET REMARRIED. THIS IS WHAT GOD HATES!

The men of Israel were SEPARATING from their wives for self-gratifying reasons. God Himself was a “witness” at their original marriage ceremony which was still in effect. The marriage covenant was never dissolved by a Certificate of Divorce. The men remarried outside their own culture and tribe. God considered the children they bore unholy because of the mixed marriages bringing curses into their families (See Ezra 9:1,2; Nehemiah 13:26-30).

Because of these unauthorized marriages, the Word of God came to Ezra and Nehemiah to have the men and women of Israel who had done this thing, to separate from their spouse and even from their children (See Ezra 9:1, 11-12, 10:3, Nehemiah 13:23-27). In this situation, God’s command was to “put them away, separate yourselves from them!” This was NOT the kind of marriage to which God was saying, “I hate divorce!” He was saying loudly, “Get out these wrong marriages!” DIVORCE IS A METHOD TO SEPARATE THE ONE, AND MAKE THEM INTO TWO just as a surgeon’s knife is used to separate the cancerous flesh from the healthy flesh. Both operations are good. Divorce can be used to kill a righteous marriage, just as a surgeon’s knife can be used to kill a healthy person. (end excerpt from Divorce Hope)

Narrowing the Margin of Error:

Whether you agree or disagree, we still must understand that divorce happens to Christians and non-Christians alike. So, instead of passing judgment, let’s find out how to prevent divorce as well as recover from one. It can easily be prevented by understanding before marriage that God does not have 100 people lined up before you and say, “These are all people who love Me. Pick one!” God is strategic in all things. To be “unequally yoked” does not mean that you are forbidden to marry someone of another race, color, nationality or denomination. Rather, it’s about who God created specifically for you to become one with the one that God pre-ordained for you so as to honor Yahweh in the union. This definitely narrows the margin of possibilities!

If God’s people understood this basic truth, we would not allow ourselves be to deceived, led by the flesh and drawn into marriages of the flesh. With understanding, there would be a huge decrease in divorce since there would be a decrease of marriages and more that would actually be “what God has brought together.” People marry for many reasons other than seeking the face of God: sex, physical attraction, money, power, loneliness, rebound, rebellion, loyalty, parent-pleasing, parent-rebelling, pregnancy, to cover homosexuality, to cover fornication, etc – and all of this within the Body of Christ. Even if both people are Christ-followers, that doesn’t mean that the two should marry. We make messes and, when things go wrong, we question why God made such a mess. We need to seek the face of God concerning our ordained spouse…and then wait on God

Encouragement for Parents of Chronically Ill Children

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Question #4: Being a primary care giver of a chronically ill child is difficult on a marriage because I now have separate rolls and it can be very lonely. What do I do?

Yes, indeed, this is a common problem in marriages with anyone caring for a chronically ill, handicapped, or otherwise disabled child. We can become so consumed with caring for the child that we completely neglect our marriage. Speaking for myself, I had to purpose to make time with Michael, not only intimately as in “time alone,” but in allowing him to help. Eeeekkk! When he helped, I generally didn’t like the way he did it (just being honest here). One time Sophia had a long stay at the hospital two hours away and Michael took off work to come with us. Generally, when she was admitted, he didn’t come with us because he was always working and could not take time off. This became intensely annoying and I don’t often get irritated with him. I couldn’t figure out why I was so annoyed as I usually appreciate any time with him. I discovered quickly that I didn’t like him having any say in my interaction with the doctors, mainly because I had all the information needed and could spit it out in my sleep. When he jumped in, he didn’t know and would have to think hard to answer and, as you would conclude, still had to look to me for the appropriate response. This definitely rubbed me the wrong way and Sophia too.

Unfortunately, whoever is doing all the caring tends to get in such a routine that, when our spouse tries to help, it’s more frustrating than helpful as it interferes with the status quo and overall flow of things. Over time, I learned to let him help with Sophia even when he was slower to the draw than I because:

  1. He needed to be an active participant
  2. I needed a break from the daily pressures
  3. It allowed us to bond over the situation instead of being pulled apart

I’m sure there are other valid reasons, but these are the top three. We as women (sometimes men too) tend to be so focused on helping our child that we lose all sight of helping our marriage. We can be, at times, controlling. I’m sure it isn’t you, but it was definitely me. It wasn’t that I needed to control for the sake of control, it was because I knew I had everything down to a science and could do it faster and better than he. However, if you want to maintain or regain a healthy marriage, you must, of necessity, allow your husband to take the lead even when you may have to secretly go behind them and do it correctly. I have found that caring for Sophia jointly was far more productive and easier than going it alone simply because “I do it better.” Sophia also had to learn to allow him to do things for her because she knew I did it all so effortlessly. Letting Michael take the reins from time to time strengthened our marriage and it swept away the loneliness. Truly, working together, even though I still do the lion’s share of the caring, helped in the area of not feeling so alone and altogether by myself in this quest to aid my child.

After all, we must keep in the forefront of our minds and hearts that we entered into covenant with our husband, not our children. If we don’t do whatever is necessary to strengthen our marriage, everyone involved will inevitably lose in the process of trying to gain something else (a healthy child). The more we as followers of Christ begin to gain knowledge and understanding of “covenant,” we will be better equipped to be strong in our marriages all the while caring for our child.

 

Ecclesiastes 4:9: “Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: if either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up. Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone?”

Philadelphia: A Kingdom Call to Brotherly Love

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Chapter 17: Falling in Love with the Human Race

So, those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you. Beyond all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity (Colossians 3:12-14).

Whatever we as Christ-followers do, whether good or bad, we represent Christ; unfortunately we do not always present God in our actions. When we do not conduct ourselves in love, we are conveying to people that God is unloving. When we operate with impatience, we are saying God is not patient. We need to become very aware of how we come across to others so that we do not give Christ a bad name. Perception is reality and it is, indeed, God’s name on the line, not our own.

I was speaking the other day to a dear friend who is not a Christian. He commented to me that he has been tossed aside by many “Christians” when they felt like he was a waste of their time; meaning, when he did not convert to Christianity, they walked away from him. That is one of the saddest things I have ever heard, yet I hear and see it all the time. In my past, I too have been guilty of this as well. It is unfortunate that Christians, unknowingly, push people away from Christ. That is not their intention, I’m certain, but it happens all the same.

We need to begin to fall in love with the human race just as Christ Himself is in love with us. Once we begin this process, ministry and witnessing will come with much greater ease. We will realize that the work of getting people to come to Christ is not our burden, it is God’s. Only God can change a heart; it is His completed work extended through His people.

Our part, contrarily, is to walk in a genuine love for people no matter from whence they come or their external appearance; no matter if they come into the Kingdom of Christ or not. Our job, as it were, is to walk in supernatural love. It is love which will woo them to Christ, not browbeating them and condemning them for not believing when and how we think they should. We never know when the moment will come where someone will admit that Jesus is real, valid and vital. Who are we to say, “You’re taking too long. I’m done with you”? In fact, if we are in tune with Holy Spirit as we ought, God will instruct us as to when and if we are to part ways with someone.

We Christians seem to be on a mission to convert people instead of on a mission to love people. Love will usher conversion, not our attempts to persuade them by force. I recognize most mainstream Christians have not been taught how to love with the supernatural love of Christ. Love is certainly a choice and it is something that must be taught through the discipline, instruction of and surrender to Holy Spirit. Children love naturally and automatically, they do not need to be taught. Nevertheless, as children begin to grow, love does not come so readily.

We become a people wounded and bruised by the world in which we live. Because of this, even though we become a born-again believer, we must learn how love looks through the perspective of God instead of the eyes of the world. The world’s love is conditional and superficial; it’s the kind we see in movies and hear in songs. It comes and goes like the wind. The world’s love is fluid, God’s is concrete.

I John 2:6 (NAS) states, “The one who says he abides in Him ought himself to walk in the same manner as He walked.” That is a powerful statement! Jesus walked in love whether He was correcting, healing, encouraging, serving, teaching or being crucified for sins He did not commit. Jesus walked in supernatural love from Heaven. As mentioned earlier, even Jesus’ correction was filled with love, for He purposed to help someone come out of sin, not to make them feel guilty and condemned.

God’s supreme supernatural love is forever, enduring, unconditional, steadfast – it never changes. “Children, it is the last hour; and just as you heard that antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have appeared; from this we know that it is the last hour. They went out from us, but they were not really of us; for if they had been of us, they would have remained with us: but they went out, so that it would be shown that they all are not of us,” 1 John 2:18-19 tells us. Without Philadelphia, brotherly love, we have nothing and are nothing in God’s sight. We will all be known by our love.

 

Philadelphia: A Kingdom Call To Brotherly Love

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Chapter 14: Give Unrelentingly

I could write an entire book on giving but, for sake of time, I’ll attempt to give a brief overview on how the Lord calls us to give. I’ve added a list of texts at the end of the chapter. “Giving” is not what we see in churches across denominations where we robotically take our 10% or whatever amount and place it in the offering plate Sunday after Sunday. If we are called of God to do that, fine, but giving as Christ calls His people is far beyond that. I hear all the time, “I saw a beggar and I didn’t give him anything because…” 

  1. They should get a job
  2. They’ll use the money for booze or drugs
  3. I have my money set aside to give to my local church
  4. I don’t want to
  5. I hate beggars
  6. They’re lazy
  7. They’re undeserving
  8. They won’t pay it back
  9. They’ll rob me
  10. I prayed for them already
  11. They’re ungrateful
  12. I don’t like them
  13. They smell badly
  14. They look scary

There are many other reasons, but these seem to be the most frequently used. Luke 6:30 begins with the words, “Give to everyone who asks you…” That alone debunks all excuses pertaining to not giving. It further states, “If they steal from you, give more.” That dethrones the remaining excuses used to not give. If we want to go further, read James 2 where we see praying, alone, is insufficient. Faith has legs and hands and feet and money. Faith in Christ will cause us to give, not just prayer, but physically meeting the needs of others.

If we’re still wondering when, how much, and to whom we should give, I John 3:17 clarifies with, “But whoever has the world’s goods, and sees his brother in need and closes his heart against him, how does the love of God abide in him?” If we have the means and someone is in need, give. It’s that simple. In the early church, those who had plenty sold their goods so that no one was without. Selfishness was not an option. When they sold their possessions so as to give, it didn’t leave them penniless, it merely allowed everyone to have and no one was in need.

Why aren’t God’s people giving in such a fashion? It’s because we’ve become calloused, greedy, and hard-hearted. It is time to thaw our frozen, stingy hearts and begin to love one another with prayer, time, energy, and money.

***

“But whoever has the world’s goods, and sees his brother in need and closes his heart against him, how does the love of God abide in him (I John 3:17, NAS)?”

If a brother or sister is without clothing and in need of daily food, and one of you says to them, ‘Go in peace, be warmed and be filled,’ and yet you do not give them what is necessary for their body, what use is that (James 2:15-16, NAS)?”

Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back…Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that you give, it will be measured back to you (Luke 6:30, 38, NIV).”

Additional texts: Deuteronomy 15:10, 16:17; Proverbs 21:26, 3:27, 11:24-25, 22:9, 28:27; I Chronicles 29:9; Matthew 6:3-4; Mark 12:41-44; Luke 3:11, 6:30, 38; II Corinthians 9:6-10; John 3:16; Acts 20:35; Romans 12:8

Encouragement for Parents of Chronically Ill Children

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Question #1: How do I handle watching other healthy children who easily forget about my child; those kids who move on and don’t look back. There are days when it is just too much as a parent and I want to escape from it all, but I know I can’t because my child cannot so I just continue feeling exhausted, overwhelmed, and sad.

As a parent of a child who was chronically ill ten years and, though recovering, still has bad weeks here and there, I can attest to the frustration and deep sorrow a parent feels watching healthy children live their lives with no thought of your sick child. I can’t count high enough to recount all the times I would be in church or around people with healthy, thriving kids and feel so compelled to cry aloud that I could scarcely contain my sorrow and utter agony. It isn’t that we want the well kids to be ill, rather we desire for our own child to have the freedom to run, grow, and thrive like their peers.

There is truly an inexpressible pain a parent feels watching their unwell child day in and day out with no signs of improvement. If one is not careful to self-adjust, jealousy can set in quickly. For those who know the Word of God well, you are aware that jealousy is a murdering spirit. It will annihilate the best of relationships, yourself, and those around you. Most parents don’t equate these feelings to jealousy but, if we are honest and if we look deeply enough into our soul so as to access the root problem, it is jealousy at its worst. I defer to I Corinthians 3:3 which reads, “You are still worldly. For since there is jealousy and quarrels among you, are you not worldly? Are you not acting like mere humans?”

Most liken this Scripture to different circumstances, but I believe it aptly describes the root of a parents’ problem when we feel such things. It is veiled jealousy in so much as it doesn’t at all feel like jealousy. It feels more like just wanting the best for your kid. This is how jealousy attacks – it is disguised as love. We want so desperately for our child to be well that we begin, in our heart of hearts, to pine after wellness. This pining, per se, comes from pure motives yet morphs into sin, the sin of jealousy. Believe me, I have experienced this first-hand and it is ugly! I’m not generally a jealous person so it took me quite by surprise when I felt it so strongly the first time. If I’m being completely candid, the spirit of jealousy stems from pride. Allow me to explain.

When you or I are in a situation we do not understand, do not like, and is altogether gut wrenching, after a while, pride says, “You and your child deserve better. God is not in love with mankind as a whole, and definitely not you or your child personally. If He were, this would not be happening. How can such a good God allow such heartbreak and agony?” The thing with which I had to come to terms is that, if I am to tell the absolute truth about the matter, we all deserve hell because of the sin-sick nature of mankind. Anything short of hell is a bonus, at least so far as I can tell. In other words, anything less than hell is God’s intense mercy on me, my child, or anyone else on planet Earth. I recognize this can sound harsh but, I promise you, this is how I had to bring myself back to reality and by “reality,” I mean God’s truth v. my skewed perspective of how I believe things should be.

I like to reference Job in these matters. Job suffered and initially blessed God. He lost everything except his nagging wife. Eventually, he suffered intense bodily afflictions. By chapter 30, Job was complaining about his poor estate. Chapter 31 shows Job defending his integrity. By chapter 32, the young prophet Elihu rebukes Job as led by Holy Spirit and this goes on several chapters. By chapter 38, God rebukes Job intensely because of him defending himself and demanding the counsel of the Lord so as to question Him. Chapter 42:1-6, the last chapter, Job is humbled in the presence of the Lord and says to God, “I know that You can do all things, and that no purpose of Yours can be thwarted. Who is this that hides counsel without knowledge? Therefore, I have declared that which I did not understand, things too wonderful for me, which I did not know. Hear me now, and I will speak. I will ask You, and You instruct me. I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees You; therefore I retract, and I repent in dust and ashes.” Job repented. This is crucial to understand in any case of intense, long-term suffering of any kind. Job plead his case expecting God to “fix things” due to how well and long he had served the Lord. This point of view was ungodly and wrong in every way. In the end, once he repented the situation (surrendered to God’s holiness), his life was Spirit-filled instead of based on “things he didn’t really know.” In the end, life was better than before the trial started. God had a plan Job could not see or understand at the time. All God wanted him to do was relent, surrender, and watch and wait for God’s supernatural hand to move.

What is my point? As parents, we want the best for our children. When, in our exhaustion, we get caught up into the emotions of the situation, we cannot see clearly. More specifically, we cannot see God clearly, even though we say with our lips, “I believe. I have faith in God.” Too often, we say it out of habit, but not truly from the heart of faith. We are frequently so irritated that God isn’t healing our child as we believe He should or fast enough, we completely lose perspective. By “perspective” I mean heavenly perspective. We are to set our minds on things above and not things of this earth and illness itself is of the earth. Our focal point is wrong. Other healthy kids as a focus is incorrect. Our child not healing fast enough is not the correct focus. We are to be sober and vigilant in our communion with the Lord. The only way to combat the jealousy is to request of the Lord a change of perspective instead of constantly begging for a change of situation. Playing the comparison game in our minds is terribly misguiding.

It is completely natural to want our kids to be like normal, healthy kids.  I feel the same way. However, normalcy should not be our goal. Holiness and God’s perfected will in every matter should be. God has made us supernatural in His image once we receive His Spirit. My favorite author, Watchman Nee, said something to the effect that God’s people are usually too quick to beg to be well when, all the while, we should have the patience to see what God is doing in the trial, and he was a man of severe ongoing suffering. I agree. The body in which we dwell is flesh, which means it is flawed due to the entrance of sin into the world. Some bodies hold up better and longer than others. I have no explanation as to the selection of who is who. What I do know is that, as a parent specifically, we get terribly caught up in the emotion of dealing with our children and, in our emotionalism, we miss the hand of God. We pray the wrong prayers or with the wrong motives, though we are sincere.

For me personally, I had to regularly and repeatedly take my eyes off my child, off other children, off what I believed should happen and when, and begin to praise the Lord for His goodness and mercies which are new every day. What I am saying is not for the novice Christian but rather for the one who desires the perfect will of God in everything. It doesn’t mean we don’t have emotions, that we don’t ever feel frustration, sadness, or irritation. It does mean we must filter all our emotions through the Spirit of God. We must inquire of the Lord, “What should I pray? What should I do or not do? Reveal to me how to rest amid this horrific storm. Father, I believe, help me with my unbelief. I trust You with my life and the life of my ill child. I thank You, Father, that You are more in love with my child than I ever could be because they are Yours first and then mine secondly. Father, orchestrate my footsteps. Lead me to the right place so that I will properly do my part as a parent, but help me relinquish the other parts which are not mine to fix. Thank You that those other children are healthy and do not know the anguish of my child. Help me to set my mind on things above, to meditate on Your Word night and day, to be sober minded and vigilant in Your will above my own, to see as You see, to respond in accordance to Your righteousness, to cast down imaginations and strongholds, and every high thing that exalts itself above the name of Christ in my life, and to think on whatsoever is true, honest, just, pure, lovely, of good report, of virtue, and of praise. I surrender this situation to You completely. Thank You for the rest which only You can supernaturally provide for my soul. Selah.”

Philadelphia: A Kingdom Call to Brotherly Love

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Chapter 9: Strangers and Prisoners

“If you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same (Matthew 5:47, NAS)?”

“Let love of the brethren continue. Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by this some have entertained angels without knowing it. Remember the prisoners, as though in prison with them, and those who are ill-treated, since you yourselves also are in the body…(Hebrews 13:1-3).”

Do you remember the question, “who is my neighbor?” Well, here it is again. Not only are we cautioned to love our brothers (which can often feel virtually impossible), but here we are encouraged to do the same with those outside our brethren. Are we who are extending love to those within the body only doing so at the least possible level, or are we pushing ourselves to go beyond our borders and love those without? We never know to whom we are showing kindness or hostility; we don’t know who may be an angel among us.

And more than that, what if they’re not an angel? What if they’re just some random person who needs kindness, a comforting word, or God’s love expressed to them? We are not to choose whether or not we love our brothers or love our neighbors or strangers or prisoners; we are to love all people at all times, even when admonishing someone.

I love the line in Hebrews 13: “…since you yourselves also are in the body.” Prisoners are a passion of mine because I recognize the undisputed fact I too could be behind physical bars if I had remained married to my first ex-husband. Someone was going to get hurt somewhere along the line! I could have been pushed to do something untoward given the demonic nature in which he operated. Any number of things and circumstances could have led me down the wrong path and caused me to do something prison-worthy. No one knows of what we are capable until a situation arises.

Furthermore, there are people not behind physical bars but behind internal bars, chains, and other barriers. “Remember the prisoners as though in prison with them” states Hebrews 13. We are in the body therefore we could do something stupid at any moment should the flesh get the better of us. In this, we must all be compassionate toward those who most folks deem unsavory. We would be wise to remember how our flesh acted prior to surrendering to Christ. I am painfully aware I must surrender the nature of my flesh daily. Just because I live in a fleshly shell doesn’t mean I need to be driven by it, though it genuinely wants to take the wheel of my life.

Those who are externally or internally imprisoned are so because, somewhere along the line, the flesh got the better of them. Neither you nor I are exempt. Have compassion. Have mercy. Lend prayer. We never know what stranger or prisoner may be an angel in disguise, but don’t be motivated to kindness because of that as if to think, “I don’t want to mess with an angel!” Perceive everyone as someone in need of the same love Christ extended to us in our time of need.

When All My Strength has Failed

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“Come unto Me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light (Matthew 11:28-30, NAS).”

Definition of Yoke: a wooden crosspiece that is fastened over the necks of two animals and attached to the plow or cart that they are to pull.

Definition of Easy:

  1. not hard or difficult; requiring no great labor or effort
  2. free from pain, discomfort, worry, or care
  3. providing or conducive to ease or comfort; comfortable
  4. fond of or given to ease; easygoing: an easy disposition.
  5. not harsh or strict; lenient: an easy master.
  6. not burdensome or oppressive: easy terms on a loan.
  7. not difficult to influence or overcome; compliant

In this life we are taught to fight and fight harder, to pray and pray harder, work and work harder. Life becomes exhausting drudgery in our feeble attempt to control, manipulate and fix everything we don’t like or that which is simply going haywire. The harder we try, the worse things often become because we needlessly wear out. We are enslaved by the heaviness of life.

If only we knew all that is required of those who are in Christ is to rest. Rest is the place of peace amid any storm, faith in the face of the impossible, quietude during chaos, joy in the midst of the unbearable, and to bask in the love of Christ when all other love has failed.

After all, how is working harder going to get God to usher into your life what He’s already finished? What is praying harder going to do to move Him? Why do we think more of us is required when less is actually the key? Praying once in confident faith God has already moved on your behalf is far more powerful than praying relentlessly expecting little to nothing to happen. Honestly, I don’t understand how one can productively “pray harder” as I hear so many folks say they do in crisis. I haven’t read anywhere in the Bible of that being a tool of God’s most faithful.

Praying without ceasing is not the same as praying harder which usually includes begging and pleading. We need to understand we are sons of God, heirs of His Kingdom, not paupers who beg for God’s leftovers and table scraps. He has ushered rest through Christ Jesus, not a call to more grueling laborious prayer and labor.

Christ never instructed us to work in the sense that we are to strive continuously to get from God that which we want and/or need. We are called to be at ease through unwavering faith in the Creator who is the lover of our souls. Stress, striving, and working with futility to please Him or get what we need are not the ways of God. Yes, we know that for those who “don’t work, don’t eat” but that’s the physical. Faith pleases God. Rest and peace are spiritual; they include knowing without doubting that God has already resolved whatever issue is at hand.

Yeshua need not “get to work” on your behalf as so many pray. All His work was completed before the foundation of the Earth, including Christ’s death and resurrection and our death and resurrection. There is nothing unresolved where God is concerned. We see this defined in Hebrews 4:3 which states with clarity, “For we who have believed enter that rest, as he has said, ‘As I swore in my anger, “They will never enter my rest!”’ And yet God’s works were accomplished from the foundation of the world.”

It is simply our position in Christ to rest during our prayers and fasting expecting the greatness and the fullness of God’s love to surface. The idea of “praying harder” is not something to which God has called His people. Rather, we are incited to pray in faith because His yoke is easy and the burden of following Him is light. Addressing life’s issues should be from the stance of, “Christ, You have completed this situation. Father, reveal to me how to pray so as to usher Your completed work. It’s already resolved, in Jesus’ name.” We pray from victory, not for it.

The depiction of “yoke” is that of enslavement for the oxen binding two together so as to accomplish their task; both work together exerting equal strength. Contrarily, God’s “yoke” is that of freedom. We become bound together with Christ so that our work is no longer required. Being so tethered, we allow Him to take us where He desires; He is the carrier and we are the passenger unlike the two oxen where both must work. Attached to Christ, yes we are enslaved to Him, but what He offers in such slavery grants freedom. It is His finished work alone that enacts our liberty and ease while bound. He has an easy yoke and a light burden.

It is the nature of the natural, fleshly man stemming from Adam that makes our yoke hard and our burdens heavy. Colossians 2:13 reads, “When you were dead in your transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made you alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our transgressions.” The flesh, aka the nature of sinful Adam, is death though having the appearance of life. Once in Christ, attempting to operate in the nature in which we are originally born is likened unto carrying around a dead man’s body trying to make it function as though alive. Though we move our hands and feet, we’re trying with futility to puppeteer a very heavy, clunky, awkward corpse. When, on the other hand, we relent to the eternal life of the Savior, burdens are lifted and yokes are made easy.

Chapter 1, When All My Strength has Failed

Encouraging Parents with Chronically Ill Children

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My name is Alexys V. Wolf. I am first and foremost a wife and mother of two beautiful teenage daughters, as well as a minister, author and artist. I founded The Fiery Sword Ministries in 2007 and have multiple published books dealing with a garden variety of spiritual issues. The purpose of this blog and group, Encouragement for Parents with Chronically Ill Children, is to aid fellow parents in their journey with sick children.

By way of introduction, my eldest daughter, Sophia, started getting sick at six months old with double ear infections, yet they were nothing spectacular; nothing that would send red flags of future chronic illness. She was otherwise a well child until the age of five when she developed chronic stomach aches and UTI’s. We dealt with those nearly a year. When the gastroenterologist performed at endoscopy, he said he found no acid reflux but she had severe unexplained constipation. Unfortunately, the acid reflux went undiagnosed many years because she would only experience it with antibiotics.

By the age of 8, around 3rd grade, the stomach aches worsened and her pediatrician said, “It’s psychosomatic.” Knowing my daughter, watching her day in and day out, I was positive the doctor was incorrect in her sloppy assessment. By 9, I began taking her to our G.P. who was much more responsive to Sophia’s needs. Her neck had been growing oddly several years yet, when I would inquire, multiple doctors blew it off as “that’s just how she’s growing. Nothing to worry about.” Lo and behold, by the age of 10, our G.P. said, “Don’t freak out, Alexys, but Sophia has a goiter.” I rejoiced!! I knew something was remiss and she was the first person to acknowledge it. As one would expect, the ultrasound revealed Hoshimoto’s thyroiditis.

 That sent us on a crazy ride for which we are still sojourning. We went to several specialists locally, but we found better care out of town at MUSC (Medical University of South Carolina), a 2-3 hour drive depending on traffic. It so happens that they discovered additional autoimmune issues, hormonal issues, as well as stomach problems.

I have refrained from speaking publically because there are certain aspects one simply doesn’t want to share with the world. Of course, I do share some within the confines of my various books, but that isn’t a public forum like social media. Not everyone will read my books, but anyone anywhere can run across my blog. Notwithstanding, I knew it was time to speak so as to help those whom I am able with daily living with a sick child. It is definitely no picnic. Along with the physical sickness, a parent has to eventually deal with the mental, emotional and spiritual toll it takes on someone who should, by all accounts, be running, jumping and playing with their friends without a care in the world. They should be fretting over silly things such as completing homework, who likes who at school, discovering interest in the opposite sex, attending school and church and their respective functions; what clothes to wear to this or that social event.

But, to our chagrin, they concern themselves with getting in their daily meds and whether or not they’ll be able to feel well enough to get out of bed on any given day. As the parent, it’s so frustrating watching teen groups at church prepare to minister overseas or in another state and not one person in that group knows my kid’s name. The sick are most definitely the forgotten. As a parent, it is heartbreaking. Not only is your child sick, but you are blatantly aware of all they’re missing. The common joys of life elude them.

In the following months, I will be addressing many issues which waylay, not only the children, but the parents and how I deal with them on a spiritual, physical, mental and emotional level. My directive is not to have a support group, per se, but rather a group of people with common interests and goals so as to encourage and enlighten one another. Granted, my child is not dying of cancer or anything of the sort as she comes in and out of wellness; although, as of late, there’s more illness than wellness. I don’t pretend to have all the answers, but we can certainly rally together with the intention of being comforted as well as grow in faith, strength and encouragement.

As a minister, I am an avid believer of hope in the Lord Jesus Christ as well as the power of supernatural healing; I have both witnessed it and experienced it for myself. In fact, Sophia, like my previous 7 pregnancies, was dead in my womb until, one day, two men of God were sent our way. They prayed powerfully in way I was yet to learn. In that prayer, God later revealed that, in fact, Sophia was dead but He sent these men to speak life into Sophia’s otherwise dead little body. That being said, I also know there are times where we don’t see what we think we ought to given the power of Christ within us. It’s in those times when an explanation fails us that we need to come together seeking the Word and will of the Father who is faithful.

As for our household, we have covered every known area spiritually and physically. We have laid on hands with elders, anointed with oil, bound away evil spirits, released Holy Spirit upon her and our home, broken generational curses and applied the blood of Jesus, repented, praised and so on. We’ve changed our diet, gone to specialists and taken the proper steps. In all this, we wait upon the Lord, trust in His sovereignty, and take things one day at a time. We place our trust in the Living Hope of Jesus.

Psalm 27:11-14: Teach me Your way, O Lord, and lead me in a level path because of my foes. Do not deliver me over to the desire of my adversaries, for false witnesses have risen against me, and such as breathe out violence. I would have despaired unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait for the Lord; be strong and let your heart take courage; yes, wait for the Lord.

 

Know Your Authority, part I

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Pulling Down Imaginations and Strongholds:

For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh, for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses. We are destroying imaginations and every high thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ, and we are ready to punish all disobedience, whenever your obedience is complete. You are looking at things as they are outwardly. If anyone is confident in himself that he is Christ’s, let him consider this again within himself, that just as he is Christ’s, so also are we. For even if I boast somewhat further about our authority, which the Lord gave for building you up and not for destroying you, I will not be put to shame (II Corinthians 10:3-4, NAS).”

 

You have authority through the blood to pull down imaginations and strongholds that arise within us. Before you go into any battle for someone or something, you must first have yourself clean. Here’s the breakdown of the instruction of II Corinthians 10:3-4:

 

  • Imaginations:     have you ever let your mind wander into some out of whack place? It could be imagining having an affair, stealing from your company, lying to get out of something, and so on. Imaginations that are not led by Christ lead people away from God, not toward God. You are not to allow your mind to wander. Take control over it. You are to operate with the sound mind of Christ (Philippians 2:5). In purity, imaginations are what allow you to have visions from God and see them through to fruition. Those visions bring hope to the believer and salvation to the unbeliever.
  • Strongholds:     anything that has a grip on you that would hinder you from being all God created you to be. A stronghold can be holding on to the past, bitterness, anger, greed, jealousy, addictions, or countless other things that seem stronger than Christ in you. When you are led by the Spirit, you will want to pull them down to keep them from oppressing you.
  • Pulling Down:     it is not as much praying as it is commanding those things that hinder you to leave. Commanding things to leave is part of the authority God gave you over your own person. When things try to get in my head, I speak out loud so that demonic forces coming against me can hear, “I command you, in the name of Jesus, to be loosed from your assignment over me (name what it is).” Then I begin to replace them with whatever of God is the opposite. If impatience, replace it with the patience of Christ; if anger, peace; if hatred, love; if sorrow and depression, joy; anxiety, calm; if impurity, purity.

 

Know How to Battle:

 

By knowing who we are in Christ, the power we have and the authority we possess to utilize such power, we will recognize just how in love God is with you. With that revelation, you will turn and fall deeply in love with God and you will never want to displease Him again. By getting to know Him on an intimate level, you will see that all He asks of you is for you, not against you.

Likewise, you will begin to see past the flesh of others. You will begin to see with the vision of Holy Spirit and then you will stop fighting everyone in the natural and begin to war with your authority through prayer. You will begin to war in the spirit realm as God intended. Satan’s tactic is to rally everyone against each other in a billion petty ways to keep us fighting against one another so as to divide God’s Kingdom. When you begin to see through the eye of God, you will seek to know how to battle through prayer and declaration instead of fighting against the flesh.

We’ll pick up here next time as we continue with, Know Your Authority, from my first book, What was God Thinking? Why Adam had to Die. If you are interested in reading more, check out my website to order my books!                                                   

Alexys V. Wolf

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