I am finally getting a chance to share with all of you the best 6 months of this journey for me. Last June we arrived through a beautiful chain of events at SAFE Family ministries in Chehalis, Washington. Its a home for women who desire to come out of their addictive or abusive lifestyles. I have always had a heart for women from these backgrounds but never knew how we, as a family, would have an opportunity to help. As we pulled in, I didn’t know what to expect. I don’t have a background similar to any of these women, so I didn’t know what this would look like. I was hesitant at first but couldn’t wait to get to know them. Little did I know that the next 6 months would teach and mold me in new ways.
I started by going in the morning to their devotions. I got to listen to each one share and I became in love with their hearts for God. Their desire to learn and their humility. I began to learn that even though I hadn’t been in their shoes, the answer doesn’t change. Christs example of how to live and his will for all our lives doesn’t change depending on your background. These women, as well as most of the people we meet, have just lost sight of Gods love for them and the marriage relationship with him he has called them to. These women were no different than anyone else. They needed to know they were loved by a holy God and that he had called them to a powerful freeing lifestyle in Him where they die to their fleshly desires and begin finding value and direction within the life and example of Christ.
I saw how their humility and desire to learn, opened the door for powerful moves of God. They began to find freedom and value as God used them to heal, prophesy, to dream dreams, and begin to pray mightily in the spirit (they would see things in the spirit and they learned they could pray against them and take authority over them). Their destinies began to come clearer as they submitted and learned to use the authority God had given them. But I also saw how a persons will, to not submit or fight spiritual truth, hindered them from finding the freedom they deep down wanted.
I will never forget a conversation I had with a young lady, whom I love deeply (I really love all of them like crazy). She began to get real with me and when I asked her why do they struggle with self sabotage and going back to their old ways after being clean for a long period of time. She told me that it can be a fear of the “other” side. They have grown so accustomed to this lifestyle and being controlled by others that even though they know its destructive, they fear living a good life on the “otherside”. I just thought to myself, wow! And here many of us sit in judgment and snub their noses at people struggling and they don’t even realize the deep deception and lies those struggling are dealing with. They have to be told and encouraged that there is more and that they have much more value in Gods eyes then what man around them tell them. And sometimes, we have to walk with people as they go on their journey to discovering this for themselves.
While I was there I also saw the difference in helping the girls when we attempt to use mans way and psychology vs Gods way and freedom in the spirit. I also saw how someone can begin to get freedom but how the enemy can come back if they don’t get fillled with the spirit and align themselves with Gods spirit and truth.
After seeing and learning over those 6 months, I left there with a stronger understanding that following Christ is not a casual endevor. The spiritual battles are real. Demonic activity is very real and following Christ is not about a religion nor is it a game we can just play around with to make us feel good and get us to heaven. I have realized that Christians have become too comfortable with grace and have lost their fear (holy reverence) of a God who holds our eternity in his hands. When we get ahold of this as a body, there is nothing more humbling yet so empowering to go and do the works of Him. If we are comfortable with helping at church occasionally, cracking our bibles open for bible study or following a program, we are missing the mark. We are missing what relationship with God is all about. We miss out on the true transformation as we learn to walk in His ways, obeying his commands, stop following feelings, denying the sinful desires, and humbling ourselves to a mighty God that draws us to holiness and walking as Christ walked.
My sisters at SAFE are a part of me. They will be forever and I miss them dearly. But I also knew it was time to go because some of them needed to fly. You can walk with people but they must also learn to depend upon the holy spirit for themselves. They must step into who God wants them to become within that house. So we passed the torch. And God is still growing them in leaps and bounds. I pray to go back and I know we will at some point. But for now, we are off learning more, in other ways.
Since day one on this journey we got asked how long we would be doing this. After 3 years, this hasn’t changed. People are quite surprised by our story and wonder how long can a family do this. Our answer hasn’t changed, we will stop when God tells us. But in the meantime we go and stay for how ever much time we feel we should. But the scripture that comes to mind whenever people ask how long we will be doing this or staying in an area, the scripture that comes to mind is Luke 10..
Luk 10:2 Therefore said he unto them, The harvest truly is great, but the labourers are few: pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he would send forth labourers into his harvest.
Luk 10:3 Go your ways: behold, I send you forth as lambs among wolves.
Luk 10:4 Carry neither purse, nor scrip, nor shoes: and salute no man by the way.
Luk 10:5 And into whatsoever house ye enter, first say, Peace be to this house.
Luk 10:6 And if the son of peace be there, your peace shall rest upon it: if not, it shall turn to you again.
Luk 10:7 And in the same house remain, eating and drinking such things as they give: for the labourer is worthy of his hire. Go not from house to house.
Luk 10:8 And into whatsoever city ye enter, and they receive you, eat such things as are set before you:
Luk 10:9 And heal the sick that are therein, and say unto them, The kingdom of God is come nigh unto you.
You see, sometimes people equate doing what God has on their hearts with finances and this being Gods blessings and his “green light” but if the money runs low for a little bit the questions within and sometimes from the outside begin, “maybe God just has you doing this for a season” and “Maybe this is him telling you to stop and settle down?” But I have realized time and time again that Gods blessings come in many different forms and if what was in our bank account determined how long we would be doing this, we would have been done long ago. God tells us to walk by faith and not by sight and when we feel a call on our lives to begin serving him instead of ourselves, it would be in our best interest to listen. YES, even if it seems impossible and doesn’t make sense. But this scripture above is what its about. As we have gone, we have not been welcomed by some and others we were welcomed but we knew only for a short time. We have shared the kingdom only to be rejected by some and embraced by others. We have also prayed for the sick among those whose paths we have crossed. Each stop holds some learning and greater understanding as to how the kingdom works. Our desire is to be led by Him and learn as he leads us. This is our journey and its for the rest of our lives.
Right now, this scripture holds a special place in my heart because we are seeing it in a much different way. We arrived here at SAFE Ministries in Washington and planned to only stay a couple weeks. We pulled in and they had a campground behind the facility on the property. There are newly installed electric boxes and full sewer and water. But the spots were overgrown and we weren’t sure what this was going to look like. Joe got the weed wacker and began clearing our spot. We pulled in and were welcomed with open arms. We knew we would be here for a little bit. There was peace. They have welcomed us into their home and some meals are provided and we began building relationships with the beautiful women that live here. They come from various backgrounds and are here to get their lives back on track after living addictive lifestyles. We have seen some women healed of physical ailments and we have seen others not healed. We have shared testimonies and had incredible conversations and times of sharing what God has done in our lives. The most beautiful times are when women come and share with me that they went to the doctor and were offered narcotics for pain and they turned them down….or…when they are offered a cigarette and instead of taking it, even when they won’t get caught, they say no thank you. Then there are the times when they do take it and God convicts them of it and its tastes horrible and they confess. All these times are huge victories and such glorious times.
I have had the privilege of getting to know one young lady since we arrived and to see the light within her get brighter and brighter each day. To walk with her when things were hard and she wanted to quit and walk out. But you know what is key to each girls success? They are choosing to be REAL, both with God and with others. They are making daily choices to surrender themselves to God and let him do the work in their lives. Deciding daily to choose Gods way over the enemies. These girls are no different than any other person we have met, but as with everyone, true change comes when we surrender EVERYTHING to him. And you can see those who don’t want to and they stay in their struggles much longer. There is a huge difference to knowing scriptures, going to church, doing the program of life and TRUE surrender. And true change won’t occur until we are willing to let go.
I laugh within sometimes to think about how people who aren’t working with these girls look in and judge. They assume they need God and are afraid to step in and help because of their own judgements towards these womens past. But I can attest that these ladies are so amazing. They have incredible hearts for God and a true willingness to transform their lives. There is a hunger for truth that in our 3 years of traveling we just haven’t found in many places. Some of these women hear from the Holy Spirit so clear and but years of turning the other ways left the Spirit buried beneath their choices. But as the clutter clears, they really shine and its humbling and powerful all at the same time.
I want to share a testimony about how God provided for us while here. A few weeks ago, I began being in charge of the girls medications. I love this opportunity to pray over their medications and over them each week. Part of this job is that I have to go into town 2-3 times a week to pick up the medications. Well, our tank was empty. The light was on and I knew I had to go pick up the meds the next day. I kept thinking of ways we might be able to come up with some money, but I didn’t want to ask because we haven’t had to since we have been traveling. I tossed and turned and woke up in the middle of the night and God told me he had it handled. I went to sleep and got up at 6:30 for devotions. I went and came back home and crawled into bed. I thought, God, all I need is $20. God again told me he had it handled. I fell back asleep. There was a knock on the door and one of the girls had an envelope and said another girl gave it to her to give to me. I opened it and there was $20. There was a note with it that said God woke her up at 4:00am and told her to put $20 in an envelope and give it to me and tell me that God would continue to provide our needs. This was so humbling and amazing to me.
And the truth is, God has provided all our needs. The other day I was in town and found $10 on the ground. Someone even blessed us with a container of emergency meals they had sent to us here. God continues to show up in many different ways.
I can’t even begin to share all the lessons we have been learning. But maybe in a future post. But the biggest thing we have seen is that a persons desire to surrender to God in every aspect greatly influences the change within an individual, whether it be physical or spiritual healing. I am still leaning to release things myself. But Its wonderful and worth it.
A friend once asked me if I could get $10,000 in a lump sum or I could get 1 penny the first day then double it the second day, then double that the third day and so on for the month, which would I choose? This sounded like a trick question so I said I would take the penny the first day option. He told me that would be wise because over the period of a month, that comes to over $10 million. In just 30 days, 1 penny becomes 10 million. You see, if each person who knew the love of God took time to talk and share with one person, then encouraged them to do the same, imagine the impact! We look to governments, to make a difference, but the truth is, we can! One person at a time.
A few weeks ago I had the privilege to share my heart and our story with a few groups of people. Afterwards, I was approached by a precious gal with a huge heart. She told me she just didn’t know enough about the bible to talk to people. I asked her who it is that draws a man to repentance? It’s the Spirit, right? I explained to her, that she has the love of God in her and a story of what he has done in her life. I said, just share that. You see, we all have a story. We all understand what God has done for us. We don’t have to have all the answers, no one does. People are desiring something that is real. Your story is real. You share it, and God takes care of the rest. I encouraged her to just let God lead her and when she felt a pull toward someone, just ask if they need prayer for anything. Its that simple. Its amazing how many people open up.
Another woman came up to me and said she couldn’t pray for people in public because she just didn’t have the right words to pray. I smiled at her and reminded her that it wasn’t what we said, its being willing to do it. I shared with her a story about a lady we talked to in Walmart and she wanted prayer but asked us to come out to her car to do it. We put our hand on her back and just commanded the pain to leave her back. That was it, no wordy prayer. The woman felt heat and her back was healed. I told her of another time where we just prayed that God would reveal his love to a person. They began to weep as God touched their hearts.
You see, you don’t need to take special class or go to special training. You don’t need to know everything about the bible or be able to rattle off scriptures. The bible says that no man comes to the father unless he is drawn by the spirit. When we enter into a relationship with God, it says His Spirit lives within us. So all we do is become a vessel of Christ’s love to others. We just have to be willing. When we stop and open our lives up to another, we allow the Spirit to flow from us to another. There is no need to have all the answers. You will know what to say.
Do you recall the story of the demon possessed man in Mark 5? This man was in the tombs and pretty wild. After Jesus delivered him, this man asked Jesus if he could follow him and Jesus tells him NO. He tells him to go to his friends and tell them all the great things the Lord has done for him. Do you see this? Jesus didn’t need him to train or make sure he knew everything about Him first. He didn’t need him to have all the right theology first. Jesus told him to go and share his story! That’s it! That’s all we need to do. We all have a story, maybe not as dramatic as the demon possessed man’s, but we all have a story. And our stories are true.
I know there are many others with the same questions sitting in the pews of churches each week and I am hoping this post is an encouragement to everyone who has been seeking God and wants more. As God moves through you into the lives of others, you begin to see why you were created. And Pastors or other church leaders, begin to do this in your lives and share the stories with the people you have the blessing to speak to. Lead by example and help the people in your church or people you come into contact with know that they too can do this, and should, because one life at a time will make a larger impact than the largest church meeting or conference. By doing, growth comes. People don’t need more classes, they just need to know that they can in everyday life. Everyone needs to know they are already equipped with all they need, they have the Spirit who will teach and guide each of us. So lets all do our part and begin to spread the true love of who Christ is and what he represented. We have no earthly excuse to do otherwise.
It is good that a man should both hope and quietly wait for the salvation of
Since we’ve been on the road we’ve stayed at ran down truck stops and at five star resorts. We’ve been to Disney World, SeaWorld, and Legoland. We’ve also been where drug deals are going down less then eighty feet away from our front door. We’ve had nights at fancy hotels and nights with drunkards yelling at each other right outside of our bedroom window. But wherever we are God is always right there with us and it’s exactly where He wants us to be.
At the time of this writing it is Sunday September 14th 2014. We are on our way to the Albuquerque hot air balloon fiesta. At the moment we are a little over 7,000 feet above sea level in Santa Fe, New Mexico. The backdrop is a beautiful mountainous scenery behind miles and miles of prairie. Scattered throughout the landscape are various Indian homes called adobes. And as I sit in my bed writing this chapter looking out my bedroom window all I see is a crystal blue sky with white puffy clouds as though we’re floating above the earth. Our truck is sitting on an eighth of a tank of fuel and we have been resting in Walmart’s parking lot for almost a week now. Which is new to us, Walmart stays are usually only for a night. Usually just a place to break up the drive. Only this time the reason we stopped here was because we are once again out of cash and low on fuel. He always gives us what we need to get where we need to be, so there must be a reason we’re here.
When we arrived we were just waiting for God to bring us what we need to move on. This is the farthest we’ve been out west and honestly I was a bit concerned about being out this way. I had heard that life was different here. Another step outside of my comfort zone. After two nights of waiting on God to provide we began to get uneasy. Doubts once again began to try to creep their way in. This is another time of pruning. Learning to walk this out isn’t always easy but knowing it’s God’s desire makes us want to do it more then anything this world offers. It helps me when I think about the Israelites being taken out of Egypt, there’s a lot in that story that relates to us in these days. Moses had parted the waters of the mighty red sea and taken the Israelites across on dry land. Then it says as they were wandering through the desert they had forgotten how God had parted the waters for them and they began to doubt. After some time passed they once again arrived at the waters edge, needing a miracle. God parted the waters for them, but this time tells them to go to the deepest part and gather stones. With these stones build an altar near the water’s edge so that when doubt tries to come it will remind you of what the Lord has done. We’ve found it encouraging, in times like these, to look back at all that He’s done for us and where He’s taken us. So we continue to rest.
After staying for two nights we realized something interesting. Generally people stop for the night at Walmart, it’s a convenience that most of them allow, then they’re back on the road the following day, but this Walmart is different. We started realizing that the same people would pull in, in their cars, every night to get some sleep and then disappear for the day only to return again later that evening. A small community of homeless folk are our neighbors at Walmart. Now we know why God brought us here.
The first person we spoke with was Dave. We noticed him walking in the landscape behind our camper. It’s a large area that’s nicely sculpted and perfect for small walks, we’ve taken a few strolls around it ourselves. Erin had just made a large pot of chicken soup so I shot out the door to invite him for dinner. As I approached him, he was the first to speak up “hello, how are you today?” He asked if I was the one with the wife and two kids. He said he had noticed us the day before going into Walmart and was surprised to see how happy we seemed. We talked for a bit and he welcomed our offer to come for dinner. Dave is a clean cut publisher that has published a few books from his late wife Anna. He lives with his son Seth in his small pickup truck and they’re hoping to get an apartment in the area soon. They are both spiritualist in search of truth, which seems to be the norm in these parts. So far it’s been very refreshing as opposed to the east, where it seems most have their guard up. It seems westerners are very receptive and interested to hear about our lifestyle.
That night, as I was laying in bed, I felt like God told me to give Dave a Bible. I woke up the next morning to Erin saying, I feel like we should give Dave a Bible. Then there was a knock at our door, it was Dave asking if we could boil some water for his coffee. We continued our conversation and then I told him we’d like to give you a Bible if you want one. He told me he had read through the red letters once before. I explained to him how each of the gospels are the same story about Jesus but in each disciple’s perspective of what they saw. That peeked his interest but yet he said, I’ll have to pass but thank you. I just said OK, no problem. We finished boiling his water and ended our conversation and he headed back to his truck. Erin and I looked at each other and said, wonder why God told us to give it to him if he didn’t want it? A few minutes later he knocked at our door again, he said, I talked with my son and I think we would like to have that Bible if it’s OK.
The following day as Erin was making dinner I had the pleasure of meeting a precious couple whose names were Brian and Heather. I saw them at the Walmart entrance flying a sign, asking for help. Brian is a veteran, he and his girlfriend Heather live in a small tent in the prairie just outside of Walmart. I begged them to come and have dinner with us but Brian was ashamed of the alcohol on his breath and Heather said she had problems trusting people. I asked if they had trouble keeping warm the night before because it had gotten down in the forties. Brian said “we did alright, she’s a good snuggler” and Heather reached out to hold his hand. I asked if they would like any sleeping bags. They said they would like one if we can spare it. I rushed home to grab the sleeping bag and tell Erin about our new found friends. She joined me on the trip back to the roadside with sleeping bag in hand. We took the chance to love on them, speak life into them, and pray that God would show them His love. We once again invited them to dinner. They humbly agreed to come and join us in a bit and sadly never arrived.
We then had the chance to meet our other neighbors, Tim and Ron. Two friends that had met during some rough circumstances that lead them to being homeless. We brought them dinner, a plate full of roasted chicken, corn, and mashed potatoes. When Tim brought our plates back he was very grateful and I asked if he would mind if I came over and prayed for them. He said he would love that and that he usually prayed every night. We went over and spoke the love of Jesus over them for several hours. Tim said that he was raised a southern Baptist and believed in God. Ron and I just sat on the curb talking about the plans God has for him. He told me how he didn’t feel worthy and I explained to him his value in Christ. We finished with a big hug and Ron explained to me how grateful he was that I took the time to sit and speak with him, especially about things that matter.
I don’t tell you any of this to boast as though we are anything. My hope is that what I’ve written will encourage you to step out on your journey. I know it seems like a scary place, outside of your comfort zone. That’s where the people are that need you. That’s where Jesus spent most of His time and we should all walk as He walked.
Erin prayed last night and asked how much longer we should stay, she heard two more nights. Today she received a text from a friend that was wanting to send us some money and how could she. She ended up sending it the next day just as God had told Erin.
Usually when we dry camp, that’s when we have no hookups for water or electric, our water tank only last about two to three days, it lasted seven full days during our stay here at Walmart. God loves to take care of His children. With the provision we received we restocked our groceries, filled our fuel tank, filled our propane, and headed to a campground. Just as we pulled in, right before we hooked up our hose, Erin tried our water and as soon as she did the tank had just ran dry. It lasted just as long as we needed it to.
Understand that God loves you. You are His child and He has amazing plans for each of us. All that is required is that we put our lives completely in His hands. He sent His son to give up everything in hopes that we would give Him our everything in exchange. We are His adopted children, we’ve all come from different lives and circumstances. Some of us are happy to drop our old selves because we see them for what they are, filthy rags. Others aren’t so sure, I kind of like my filthy rags, I worked hard to achieve them. Look around at creation, the birds in the air, the flowers in the field, sunsets, oceans, we serve a God who knows what He’s doing. Spend time with Him, start your relationship and learn to trust.
This isn’t a typical blog post, but it has been weighing on my heart as we meet so many people. I pray that anything that is from God stays in your heart and anything of my flesh falls aside and is forgotten.
My heart has been heavy for a long time and I have been preparing to write this for almost 6 months. But its not the easiest thing to write because I know it effects a lot of people and each situation is very different. But the more I understand the heart of God and his desire for us and our marriages, I have realized how much the enemy tries to get us to focus on ourselves and tries to destroy our marriages by building up walls between the very person that should be our team mate, biggest fan and support. Marriages are struggling on so many different levels so I felt a need to share what I have been learning and how it has strengthened my marriage in hopes that each of you will allow God to begin making changes in you, so you too will see the fruits in your marriages.
You see, God tells us that we are to love God with ALL our hearts and Love our neighbors as ourselves. These are our two commandments on which everything else stems from. I had noticed that I could go out and love people, minister to people, and share the gospel, but when I got home, I would lose patience and get snippy and condescending to the very people who were the closest to me. So why is it that loving our neighbor as ourselves seems to not apply when we are talking about our spouse and somehow we justify it?
A few months ago, I began to get very frustrated with Joe. For some reason, my mind began to dwell on all the things I was doing around the house and for our family which led to thoughts of what Joe wasn’t doing (in my mind). I began to let those thoughts fester within me. I began to have feelings of entitlement from him, like he owed me. That things weren’t “fair”. So everything he did all I could see was what he was NOT doing. My focus and perception became very distorted because I was dwelling on the negative. I was choosing to assume the worst instead of the best and every time we do this, we start building a wedge and begin to separate ourselves from our spouse. He would do a project and instead of encouraging him, I would find a flaw and point it out or ask him why he didn’t do it this way or that way. You see, our spouses value how we view them and we can tear them apart or lift them up to greatness with simple words. As women, we want our men to lead us and take care of us, yet when they do, we find ourselves correcting them or sharing our opinions (even with the kindest words or best intentions) which only quench their ability to lead or do anything because what they hear is “you aren’t doing it right”. When we choose to see the negative within our relationships, we begin to feed this into our hearts until eventually, this is all we see and we begin to gripe and complain about them which just drives us further and further apart.
You see, with Joe, I started feeling like I “deserved” better, that he wasn’t meeting my expectations, and I have a “right” to (you fill in the gap). I was justifying myself while putting my husband down. But the truth is, when we love, we surrender our “rights”. We begin to lay ourselves down, in love, to serve our spouses. And when this happens mutually, we begin to uplift and help one another, doing all we can to support each other instead of our own need, wants, and desires.
You see, God has given us marriage as a reflection of Christ and the church. As we surrender ourselves to Christ and the Gospel, it becomes no longer I that live, but Christ that lives in me. It no longer becomes about me, but about Christ. This is oneness. And this is what we are called to in our marriages. We become one, by laying ourselves down and not making it about myself and what I deserve or what I can get, but about what I can do for my spouse. How I can uplift and encourage and serve them, no matter what, and expecting NOTHING in return. This is love!
Love is kind…this means we don’t speak negatively about our spouse. We lift them up and encourage. Love is patient…it walks things out with our spouse. It helps them and goes through difficult times together. Love is never jealous or envious. We are not in competition with our spouse so when they succeed we succeed. You compliment each other with your talents and faults because you have become one. Love is not proud or boastful. Its not about you! Its not about what you have done or who you are and what you deserve. Its about becoming humble and laying yourself down for your spouse. Love doesn’t insist on its own rights or its own way because it is not self-seeking. It takes NO record of wrongs. This is huge because this is forgiveness. This is something that truly divides a couple. Holding on to and dwelling on the faults of the other. The times they may have failed or messed up. Because when we hold onto these things, we begin to expect the worst in our spouse instead of the best. This causes us to look down upon instead of encouraging them. Love bears up under ANYTHING and EVERYTHING that comes, is ever ready to believe the best of our spouse and hope NEVER fades under ALL circumstances. Love NEVER Fails! This means that regardless of the wrongs done to us, we continue to forgive and not be offended and cling to the best rather than the worst, speaking life into our spouses and our marriages instead of discouragement. This is 1 Corinthians 13.
Now if you read that and thought about all the areas your spouse needs to change, then you missed the point. We can never change our spouses, but we can let God change us. If your marriage is struggling, remember it takes two to struggle. When one decides to lay themselves down and love the way Christ does, refusing the desire to “be right”, it will change hearts. Not because of what you say, but because of your actions. Its the kindness of God that draws a man to repentance, not us pointing out all the things they need to change. And this can only happen by submitting yourselves before God first. Taking your value and worthiness from Christ and not your spouse. Allowing God to love you and loving your spouse as Christ does.
I want to be clear about one thing too. A husband and a wife are a team. Its not meant to be one spouse dominating another and hanging a misinterpretation of Ephesians 5 about the woman being submissive to the husband over your spouses head. When you read this chapter, remember that in that time, Men were the dominating ones. They were the ones with the power. But this chapter is talking about men coming down from this position to raise up his bride to become glorious! This is what Christ did for us, he came down from his position in heaven to come along side his bride so that at the wedding feast he will present to himself a glorious bride. Its beautiful as we, women, submit and come along side our husbands!
I have read and heard others speak of books they have read about “love languages” and psychology books about women and men and their differences and how to relate to the opposite sex. They are full of information about personality traits and accepting who we are. This is fine, except for Christ calls us to die to our flesh and lay ourselves down for one another. So these types of books tend to give us an idea of who we are and become our identity and justifies us to stay a certain way, because “that’s who I am.” It also boxes in our spouse to being a certain way, that it can often times be hard to see them in a different way and we limit them to the confines of this box. This doesn’t leave room for God to change either of you into the love he wants you to be. To become more consumed by what your spouse wants than “how you are”. Be willing to change. Be willing to let God change you!
You see, marriage is supposed to be wonderful just like our relationship with Christ. Its freeing and awesome. That’s why God gave us each other. Just like the church should be working together to love others and encourage each other, we should be doing with within our homes. Spending time with each other, not just talking about bills, activities, and schedules, but flirting, dating, holding hands enjoying each other. And absolutely yes, do this in front of your kids. It benefits them so much to see their parents in love. Take time to use your words to tell your spouse how you feel. Don’t just assume they know. And even if they reject you, keep going. Let Gods love change your marriage. Laugh together and remember what made you fall in love in the first place. And have Sex. Yes, you heard me. We were made for each other. God made this a glorious time to be with each other in a way that is special. So do it and do it often (even if one of you doesn’t feel like it and the other does..this is part of being there for each other) and don’t be ashamed of it. Your marriage will thank you.
Focus on God and don’t give up on your marriage! God never gave up on his bride (you) no matter how much we deserved it, ran away, or messed up. He was always there. We should be too.
Back in 2010, I began to learn how to minister on the streets. But, I had 2 kids aged 2 and 4 at the time. So I put a message out on facebook asking how to seek God with two kids. I received a private message from a now very dear friend, Zoe. Over the years, we have exchanged many emails and cultivated a friendship. She always guided me to listen to the Holy Spirit and encouraged me to listen, not giving me direct answers. This became very powerful in my walk, because I began to trust God rather than a person.
Well, a few weeks ago, God gave me the privilege to finally meet Zoe, her husband Darrel and their family, we also had the pleasure of meeting Edgar and Patty (another family), and their friends in York, Pennsylvania. These 2 families let God lead them into a very dynamic and spirit led ministry unlike anything I have ever witnessed. But this ministry came because 2 families completely surrendered their lives to the direction of God. Both families had 6 figure incomes, multiple homes, and cars. But when they began seeing in scripture where God desires for us to give it all and follow him, they obeyed. They left this all behind to do what God desired.
There are many avenues that God uses these families, but the one I got to experience first hand was at a restaurant called The wHoly Chicken. This restaurant was started through the obedience of Edgar and Patty and lies in downtown York. It is in a strip-mall in the middle of lots of housing with kids wandering around. They just wanted to love the people of York. They live day by day learning to be obedient to God and trusting him for everything they have. The restaurant gives more then they sell in a month and they live by financial blessings and miracles. And when I say they give food, I mean rotisserie chicken, steak, rice, and beans. Lots of delicious food. It isn’t about income, its about hearts.
Many kids from the neighborhoods come in and Edgar gives them a broom so they can help. These kids just need a place to belong and a purpose. Many of the kids tell others they “work” at the wHoly Chicken, just because it gives them value. The families love on these kids and welcome them. When we arrived we sat down at a table just to visit and say Hi to Edgar and see his place. He immediately introduced us to a gentleman that he had met out in the parking lot just an hour ago and asked him to come in and have a meal. Edgar fed him for free and he was just hanging out. Joe and I began to talk to him and this guy needed some encouragement and direction. Joe began sharing with him and praying with him. God just gave him the words to share. Then I went to the back of the kitchen and was talking to another friend of Edgar’s, when he came back and asked me to come out front and just talk to this gal for 5 minutes. I was a little confused, but said, Ok. I went out and this girl and her 2 year old were sitting at a table. I just sat down and asked about her. We spoke for a little bit and I began to see her struggle and her heart. I had an opportunity to talk with her and share Gods love and encourage her. I prayed with her and told her some things that just came to my heart. She ended up coming back a few days later to testify that what I had told her came to pass. It was just about loving her where she was. The restaurant was constant, God just brings people in. They don’t know why they are there, but they come in. They get love and prayer and the Gospel. And many times, an awesome meal!
They hold a meeting every Thursday outside on the sidewalk in front of the restaurant right next to a Little Cesears. They let anyone share what God has been showing them. It was an incredible time. Then on Sundays they hold a meeting in the restaurant. We were able to share out testimony that Sunday and it was just an amazing time. People raised their hands and asked questions, people came for prayer, and the Spirit truly touched our hearts on many different levels. These families, really live the gospel. They trust God for everything and were so giving. My son needed a bigger bike because his was too small. They brought out a new custom made bike for Zack. They had been given this bike a few years ago and it was never used. Zack was so excited, it was everything he could have wanted and no one knew it. We were humbled by several who gave to us, not out of their abundance, but out of their obedience and knowing God will supply back for them. The feeling in this place was something that cannot be explained on paper, but only through being there. I saw how they weren’t out to control the ministering that went on there. They truly trust the Holy Spirit. They refer to the restaurant as a ministering boot camp. If you believe and desire to love people, you will be given someone to talk to. They don’t try to tell you how to do it, because they know the spirit will guide you. The flow of God is awesome. It taught me a lot about trusting the spirit and about giving on a new level. It truly is about surrendering our lives for others. Our time, our talents, our resources to expand the kingdom of God. I promise, the more you surrender, the more of God you will get back. Its the most fulfilling and life altering decision you will ever make.
We, as Christians, sing about it. We meet and have prayer meetings for it. We worship hoping for it… “More” of God. Some kind of spiritual experience, a vision, warmth, goosebumps, etc. In the past, I desired this so much and it seemed like everyone was having these experiences. And I saw how I elevated people with these experiences as if they had reached something with God that I had not. Its almost as if I saw experiences as a sign that people had “arrived” at something. But over the last 2 years of doing what Christ said, to leave it all and follow him, I have experienced a depth in God that nothing can compare to. That no reasoning or person could ever take away from me. I have found that the “More” of God that we desire, isn’t in an “experience”, but in obedience. Its in surrendering our selves to Him. Trusting Him for absolutely everything. And I really cannot explain it to another, but the peace and rest, I have, the way I view life and people is so different than 2 years ago. I used to pray and want to “feel his presence”. But it just isn’t about “feelings”. I walk every day in His presence. Sometimes I feel as if people think, if they just pray harder, longer, or worship harder, “soak” longer, we can somehow get God to give us this “experience” we desire. When all along, God is just saying “Follow Me”! But doing this requires sacrifice, so we opt for the other. I honestly don’t share this to attack anyone and I understand the importance of prayer and worship. But there is a depth and understanding of God that he wants each of us to experience through Obedience. So for anyone who truly desires to know God, I encourage you to not look for an “encounter”, but to LISTEN, HEAR his voice and OBEY!GO! DO! Be about the Fathers business (please, don’t get this confused with joining another activity at a church or volunteering more…this is about Listening to God and Obeying what HE tells you).Take NO thought for your needs, but know that God will supply! Surrender yourself to Him (the more we surrender and stop trying to control our circumstances or how things happen, the greater revelation of God we walk into) and even when it seems hard and you feel you are sacrificing a lot, the reward is far greater!