Spiritual And Physical Storms

Last month my wife and I had made it to our 25th anniversary. As a couple the journey has been great! However, during that journey there have been many challenges along that way, though not with each other. As we hit that anniversary date, we wanted to celebrate it in some special way. We did not want to just go out for a dinner date and a movie. It needed to be a get away for at least two or three days.

Our children pulled their money together and gave us a gift of a 3 day, 2 night getaway of our choice. With a lot of searching my wife and I finally chose a location to go to and things to do that would be relaxing and new for us. It would be several weeks after our anniversary, but at a time when we could both be gone. This time would allow us to be away when our older children could be home to watch the younger ones, and at a time we would not miss any church. It would also be the first time we have been away for a vacation alone in several years.

As we prepared to go on this trip, things started to rise up that threatened to prevent the trip from occurring. The Sunday night before the trip was to begin, our house had two trees fall on it, doing a significant amount of damage to the house. You can read about that here: God’s Protection And Favor. At the time this occurred, we seriously considered canceling the trip, much against our desires.

Along with this disaster that had occurred, I also found out that the job I had planned to work at during the summer would most likely not happen. I work during the school year as a teacher and so I do get paid during the summer, but it is not very much. I wanted to work a another job just to help boost the pay some. It was a job I have worked at the last three summers. Now I did not have that job and it did not look like I would get it.

Our house had a huge hole in the ceiling and a wall was missing, and I did not have a summer job yet. Do we leave or not? With a lot of prayer, we chose to continue with the trip, though somewhat nervous for the sake of the children at home.

On the morning of the trip, we had loaded our vehicle and proceeded to leave. As I started to drive down the road, immediately after leaving our driveway, I noticed the suburban was pulling fairly hard to the right. This was new and unusual.

I drove for about two miles and the pull kept up. There was some wind, but not enough to push the vehicle like that. I chose to pull over and see what might be the problem. It was the front passenger tire that was causing the problem, it was flat.

We live about 15 miles from town and did not have a working jack to be able to change the tire ourselves. I prayed that God would give me favor in driving into town to the tire shop we use. The tire was still under warranty. He did give us favor and we made it all the way there safely. In about 45 minutes our vehicle had been brought in and the tire was repaired. All that was wrong was a screw had somehow lodged into the tire. The shop pulled it out and put a plug in place.

We were back on the road for our trip, though about one hour later than expected.

On this trip a lot of what we were planning to do was located outside. The weather was supposed to be fairly nice with only a slight chance of rain.

As we got closer to our location we were headed to, the sky had some dark storm clouds that had formed. The thing that I caught as interesting was that the dark clouds were on one side of the highway, while the other side was nearly completely cloudless.

My wife, in her great wisdom, looked at the sky and saw something about them. She saw it as a visual representation of what was going on in the spiritual realm of life. The spiritual forces of this world was trying to attack us and discourage us. God had a plan for us, and the forces of the world wanted to stop it. Satan wanted to get us to lose faith in God and complain.

It would have been easy to complain to God about what had been happening. It would have been easy to say that God was against us. It would have been easy to give in and give up.

However, that is not what God wants to have happen. He wants us to trust Him and lean on Him in times of trouble.

Looking at the sky, there was clear sky on one side, and dark clouds on the other. It appeared to be a spiritual sign of what was going on. The dark forces fighting against the forces of God.

We continued on the trip and had a great time. During those few days, we did not get one drop of rain on us at all, though it appeared several times as though it may rain. Neither did it drop any rain on our house at that time.

Although it was a bit scary to leave our children home alone after such a great disaster, God did take care of them and blessed all of us. They were also able to get out and have some fun and relaxation.

God had blessed all of my family during this time. He had overcome the dark forces that work against us. He overcame our fears and strengthened us.

My wife and I are looking forward to the next 25 years of our great marriage!

I remember the verse in the Bible: 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. Ephesians 6:12

I want to encourage you that when you are going through struggles in this life, remember that the dark spiritual realm is against you. That is who you are fighting against. God is on your side and has already won the battle. Trust Him. Do not be discouraged.

Just as the weather was fighting for either clear skies or for a storm, so there is a battle going on for your life. God and His angels are fighting for you, not against you.

As you go into the battle for your soul be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Ephesians 6:10.

A Great Journey Still Fresh As New

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A word of warning, this post is much longer than my normal posts. Even longer than my extra posts that I do every so often. May you be blessed as you read it.

I have been on a great journey in this life that started twenty-five years ago today. It was May 16, 1992 that my wife and I said “I do” to each other and were married. It has been an amazing journey that many stated would never survive.

I was a young man who went to Trinity Bible college, a small bible college in a very small town in North Dakota. The college made up nearly half of the town’s population. The town only had one stoplight in town.

At the end of the Fall Semester of 1989, I felt God lead me to drop out of college for a time. I was a member of the ND National Guard at the time. The very next year, the war in Kuwait came up. I had volunteered to go over in the battle. I returned home in July 1991 and returned back to my job as a certified nursing assistant in a nursing home.

In August, my boss asked me to help train in a new worker on a shift I normally did not work. I met this new worker and noticed that I liked something about her, but was not sure. As I trained her in and worked with her, I started to get to know her.

The more I knew her, the more I liked her. Without telling anyone that I liked her, I proceeded to get to know who she was by talking with her and others who knew her.

On October 10, which just happened to be my birthday, she went with me to a Christian comedian concert. There were supposed to be three other friends going that night, but the night before the concert each one had to back out for various reasons. She was still willing to go.

We spent a good portion of the day together. Everywhere we went people thought we were a couple already. This even included some of my own friends who knew me. Yet, at this point we were not going together.

At the end of the day, I knew that I really liked, no loved her. I prayed very hard all that night. I did not want to just date another girl. If I went into a relationship, I wanted it to be for marriage and for life. I needed to know if she was the lady God wanted me to marry. I felt in my spirit that she was the one, but I needed God to confirm it.

The following morning as I was walking on campus of the college, God chose to confirm it. He did it through three different friends of mine, none of whom knew that I was even interested in her. They had no clue what they were saying or talking about when they told me what they felt God wanted them to tell me, but I knew what it was about.

At that point I went to the campus bookstore and purchased a card that basically asked her to go with me for life. Indirectly it was a proposal. Amazingly, she said yes!

Over the next two months we started dating each other. By the middle of November, we knew that we would get married, but I did not want to officially propose to her until I talked with her father. Right before Christmas break I proposed and made it known to everyone. We set a wedding date for May 16, 1992, six months later.

During the time of engagement, my wife-to-be got very sick. Doctors could not determine what was wrong. We went to many doctors building up a very large medical debt. My small paying job was not enough to really cover the expenses of two houses. I had chosen to provide for all of her needs, besides I was going to be marrying her.

Many people were trying to tell us that the marriage would not work out. This included people in and out of the church. It was a difficult time because we both knew that God had called us together.

Right before the wedding, her health had returned, unexplained. God had blessed us with a very beautiful wedding and a two week honeymoon.

After a year of extreme financial hardship, in a town with no economy or jobs at all, I decided to join the army to get a better paying job. This moved us to Colorado. While there our first daughter was born. Shortly after the Army moved us to Germany. We stayed there for four and half years, and two of our boys were born there.

While in Germany God had blessed my wife with many Godly women to help and guide her in her life. She made several friends there that she is still friends with to this day.

The Army then chose to move us to Texas. We did not want to go there at all, and fought it hard, but God had His reasons. We finally gave in to God’s will and went. Before getting out of the Army, one more son was born.

During the time in Texas I had to be gone for several weeks to a month at a time, many times for trainings. It was a difficult time being separated. God held us together and kept us going forward despite all the challenges. God opened the door for me to get my ministerial certification shortly after getting to Texas.

In 2001, right before the 9-1-1 incident, God allowed me to get out of the army. God had blessed us with getting out, since a month later our country was under war again.

In our church I had become the children’s pastor shortly after getting out of the Army. It was a fun time, though there were some difficulties. The hardest part was financial stress. I could not seem to get a job that paid very well. Somehow God helped us survive and blessed us with two more children.

Later I felt God lead me to become a full pastor of a small church in Central Texas. It was a very difficult move for my wife because she had made a lot of friends where we were and did not want to leave them again. Leaving friends was something that seemed to keep happening in our life.

The move became even more difficult when half the church left right after I took it over. I found out that the church was not doing as well as they had appeared on the outside. After struggling to help it grow and keep the doors open for two years we closed the doors and left the ministry. I could not find another position at all. I felt like God closed the doors on us. I believe that maybe someday God will re-open those doors.

My wife struggled with that because she wanted to be a pastor’s wife. She was also struggling hard to raise our six children, at that time.

After working at it for twenty years, God allowed me to finally graduate college with a General Church Ministries degree from Southwestern Assemblies of God University in Texas. It was a long, at times difficult road, but God had blessed it.

I started working several different jobs and kept getting laid off. Finances were extremely difficult to manage. Somehow God provided for our needs and kept us going. The one thing that was always very strong for us, was our love for each other. My wife supported me in whatever I felt God was leading me or us to do. I supported her in homeschooling our children.

Although my wife has never really worked a job for pay since we have been married (with exception to a couple of short time work jobs), she has worked very hard. The process of taking children to different events or trainings on a regular basis. The work of determining meals for a large family, that half will choose not to eat. The work of ensuring chores are done. And many other things keep her busy and working extremely hard.

Since then God has blessed us with two more wonderful children and a house with some land. We still have some struggles financially, but God has been amazing in providing for our needs. We have had vehicle breakdowns, sickness too numerous to count, injuries, loss of jobs, death in extended family members, false accusations, and many other challenges. The two things that gives sense to why we have survived is love and God, and both of those are one and the same. God is described as love. When we have God, we will have love. When we have love, we will have God.

We have kept a strong love and commitment to each other and to God. Both of us are constantly talking about each other and about God. Our relationship with God comes first, then our relationship together, and finally our relationship with our children.

God has blessed us with our children. Three of them are now adults but are active in the church and in ministry. The next three down are old enough now to be active in ministry in our church also.  The youngest two, I expect, will be active some day in ministry when they get old enough.

As I look back on this journey that started twenty-five years ago today, it often seems as if it just started yesterday or at least just a few days ago. My love for my wife has grown over the years. It has not diminished as many claimed it would. We have never entertained the thought that we should not be together or that someone else would be better. My wife, nor I have ever thought it was better when the other was gone away.

I want to encourage you, that if you are in a relationship or already in a marriage, keep that commitment to love each other and God as God loves you. Do not entertain thoughts of being with someone else. When you say, “I do,” say it for life, no matter what comes up or what happens.

God is with you and will never leave you. With God all things are possible. A marriage that lasts for a lifetime, though uncommon in this world, is not impossible with God at the center.

I can say with Solomon: He who finds a wife finds what is good and receives favor from the LORD. Proverbs 18:22

God has given me what is good and I have found favor with Him in my wonderful marriage of twenty-five years and counting!

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I have been blessed with these twenty-five years and will be blessed for the next hundred and twenty-five on this great journey of marriage and family.

 

Ezra 9:12 Do Not Marry The World

Therefore, do not give your daughters in marriage to their sons or take their daughters for your sons. Do not seek a treaty of friendship with them at any time, that you may be strong and eat the good things of the land and leave it to your children as an everlasting inheritance. Ezra 9:12

As the Israelites were rebuilding the temple and Jerusalem, some of them started marrying the people of the land. The Law of Moses had stated that they were not to marry any of the foreign people. Ezra bowed before God in repentance for the people and then told them not to marry or seek any treaty with the foreign people. They were to serve God alone.

Until about the 1990’s, interracial marriage was frowned upon as a whole in America. Although it did happen prior to that time, many did not agree with it. Today, as a whole it is acceptable by most people.

Even though there is nothing wrong with interracial marriage, there is a type of marriage that many people have that goes against God. It is the marrying oneself to the world and its ways.

There are believers who have chosen to live in sin while claiming to love Jesus. They choose to act and speak the way that the world acts and speaks. They have given in to the ways that the world does things and not followed the ways of God.

Every believer in Jesus is to be married to Jesus and Jesus alone. As a believer you are the bride of Jesus. Some day in heaven there will be a marriage supper for you and Jesus.

Since you are married to Jesus, you must not go and marry the world also. Do not seek to have a treaty with the world. You are separate from the world. This world is not your home or your heritage.

Consecrate your marriage to Jesus. Allow Jesus to remove the sin in your life. Seek God and His ways and have an abundant life, rather than seeking the world and finding death. Remain married to Jesus alone.

I pray today that you will dedicate your life to Jesus; that you will turn away from the ways of this world; that you will not seek friendship with the world; that you will find all of your value in Jesus alone; and that you will be a witness for Jesus.

Loving Your Spouse When You Are Single

My 22 year old, single daughter, Brittany wrote this article recently. I felt it would touch someone’s heart and life. She gave me permission to post it here.

There are times when I have been discouraged about being single. Third wheeling, no date to bring to a wedding, all your friends being married, all the questions about WHEN you’ll find the right one, I have been there – am still there. (single, that is)

The Lord has spoken to me some words, and figured I would share it and maybe some of my single friends will feel encouraged. Not everyone will get married, but I am speaking to those with the desire to be married. I haven’t mastered all of these, and I am still clay at the Potter’s wheel.

How I love my spouse (when I am still single):
1. I love my spouse my remembering it’s not just about the ring on the finger. I wear a purity ring that will be replaced by a wedding ring one day. But, it’s about my WHOLE LIFE, not just the span of my life when I am married. How am I bringing good things NOW? Tomorrow morning? Next month?

Proverbs 31:12, “She does him good, and not harm, all the days of her life.”

2. I love my spouse by crucifying the flesh so that Christ reigns. This goes into so many areas, but one I will mention is abstaining from sex, and pornography. My body is the Lord’s, and treating it as sacred is important. This honors God and my spouse. (If you are seeking help with this area, look up Fight the New Drug)

Psalm 101:3, “I will not look with approval on anything that is vile.”

Romans 13:14, “Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the flesh.”

3. I love my spouse by not letting bitterness and impatience take hold. It’s easy to see all your friends as happy couples and be bitter towards God. But, taking a step back and remembering that He has GOOD plans, at the PERFECT timing sets your mind in the right place.
Romans 8:25, “But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.”

4. I love my spouse by being thankful in every circumstance. Did you know that when you get married life problems don’t go away? Loved ones die, people get sick, you can lose your job, tragedies HAPPEN. But, when your soul is founded on something SOLID, Jesus Christ, nothing shakes you. You have joy in places where only “darkness was supposed to reign”. Also, there are a MILLION things to be grateful for, just ask God to open your eyes to see the gifts He gives.
1 Thessalonians 5:18, “Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”

5. I love my spouse by learning life skills. It’s fun to think of some knight in shining armor slaying the dragon. But, cooking, cleaning, changing a tire, etc are important skills that will benefit your spouse.
Luke 16:10,”One who is faithful in a very little is also faithful in much.”

6. I love my spouse by waiting on God’s permission. Choosing your own timing, person, and situation may seem beneficial. But, I know from experience that it’s BETTER to wait on God to bless a relationship. Having to say no to dates seems completely backwards in my season. Yet, waiting for God’s timing is so much more worth it than all the comments and sideways glances I get.

Psalm 27:14, “Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord!”

7. I love my spouse by praying for them. I pray for his safety, the development of his character, the relationship he has with The Father, that he would be wise about life, that he would say no to temptation, etc. Pray for your spouse the way you would want to be prayed for.
Mark 11:24, “Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.”
1 Thessalonians 5:17, “Pray without ceasing.”

This season isn’t easy, but the next season won’t be either. The Lord refines us like gold in every life marker. I pray that you would use your single years wisely, because it’s for a short season (big picture wise).

Romans 15:13, “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.”

Ephesians 5:25 For The Husbands

“Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her” Ephesians 5:25

Many people, especially the men, love to remind people of Ephesians 5:22, that wives are to submit to their husbands. Many women do not like that verse. People like to forget about today’s verse just a few verses further. It is a command to the husband.

Yes, husbands are supposed to be the head of the household. They are over their wife. Alongside that, however, they are supposed to do that with the same love that Jesus had for the church.

What kind of love did Jesus have? It was a self-sacrificing love. When people hated Him and wanted to kill Him, He showed His love by dying for them. Even as the people killed Jesus on the cross, He was asking God the Father to forgive them. Jesus was willing to do whatever it took to save people from their sins.

Husbands, you are supposed to have this same type of love for your wife. Are you willing to sacrifice your time, money, work, pleasures, relaxation and anything else for your wife?

There are many husbands who come home from a hard day at work demanding a meal on the table when they walk in the door. Immediately after the meal they are sitting down watching the latest sports game on television, or they are taking off to go do some fishing, or be with other men. They are not willing to do something for their wife or what she desires.

As the husband you are supposed to be looking out for the best interest of your wife. You are supposed to be building her up in Jesus. If you are taking the time to please yourself, will you build her up? If you are demanding that she does everything as you sit and relax, will that build her up?

Spend some time on your wife today. Take notice of what she needs. Give her a break from cleaning, taking care of the children, cooking, or what ever other things she does. Pamper her with love, the same love Jesus had for you. Be the real man Jesus was, not a demanding, greedy, tyrant the men of the world are.

I pray today that you will know how to show love to your wife as Jesus did; that you will be sacrifice yourself for your wife; that you will know the love Jesus has shown you; and that your marriage will be strong with Jesus at the center of it.

Ephesians 5:22 For The Wives

“Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord.” Ephesians 5:22

Submission is the allowing the of one person to be the ruler of another person’s life. It is putting one’s own desires aside for the desires of someone else.

Although many people do not like to submit to another person, it is seen everywhere in life. In the workplace, the worker must submit to the boss, or else he will no longer have the job. As a driver goes down the road, he must submit to the rules of the road, or there will be an accident or a fine, or both.

In the marriage there is to be submission also. Paul states that the wife is supposed to submit to her husband just as she does to Jesus. Every believer is supposed to submit 100% of themselves to Jesus. They are to obey His every command and desire. There is not supposed to be any questioning or rejection.

Submission like this can be painful at times. It is putting aside your own desires and wants for someone else’s. Since the husband is not perfect, there will be times that his desires are not always the best or easiest to follow. Yet, that is what God wants.

Unless the desire of the husband breaks one of God’s commands, there is no reason not to obey it. Your submission to your husband is an example of your submission to Jesus. Let it be known that you submit to him because you submit to Jesus. Let your love for Jesus shine through your loving your husband.

Allow God to make the needed changes in him and perfect him. As you submit to him, God will make all needed changes in your life to perfect you.

In this you must trust that God knows what He is doing in your life and your marriage. Ask God for strength and protection when the submission is difficult.

Look at the eternal picture. The short problems you may have to endure in submission are nothing compared to eternity with God in heaven. Your submission will speak volumes to your husband and other people who see it. Be the light of Jesus in this world.

I pray today that God will give you the strength to submit to your husband; that God will give you His favor in your submission; that God will touch many lives through your submission; and that God will strengthen and build your marriage centered on Jesus.

Romans 7:4 Dead To Live

“So, my brothers and sisters, you also died to the law through the body of Christ, that you might belong to another, to him who was raised from the dead, in order that we might bear fruit for God.” Romans 7:4

Paul had just talked about marriage. He points out that a person is married until death. At the point of death, that person is released, by law, to marry someone else. Prior to death, any re-marriage is committing adultery.

In this passage he points out that in the same way every believer dies with Jesus in order to belong to Him. A believer in Jesus has died to the old law.

The old law only brought about death, it could not bring life to a person. Once a person sinned, he had to die.

Once a person is dead to the law, he is raised to live a life for God. He is expected to bear fruit for God.

The fruit for God is a wide range of things that portray Jesus in a person and to the world. When being like Jesus, the first thing most people think about is being holy and not doing any sin. While this is correct, there is much more to bearing fruit for God.

One must also be active in doing things for God. Changing your thoughts to line up with His; telling others about Jesus; serving others; caring for others; worshipping Jesus; praising God and many other things.

All too often people believe in Jesus, but stay dead. They do not live for God. They just go through the motions. There is no fruit in their lives.

What are you doing for God today? Are you living for Him? Or are you living for yourself?

Are you still living in death? Or have you died in order to live for Jesus?

As a believer you are dead to sin and alive to Jesus. Are you living that way?

I pray today that you will die to sin; that you will allow God to make you alive to Him; that you will live for Jesus; that you will live to bear fruit for God; and that God will use you to reach many for Jesus.