Feeling Like a Stalled Project God Has Shelved? For you. :)

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“And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.” — Philippians 1:6

Sometimes, when God has began a good work in us,  it seems to take forever, especially with emotional healing and overcoming all sorts of life challenges. We want an instant miracle, not a painful spiritual growth process that can have such a slow pace that it makes rush hour traffic look like its racing on a NASCAR track. We may feel like we’re getting no where and wonder if we’ve misunderstood what God wanted to do in our lives, or if God has given up on us. If what we’re struggling with is a sin, we may hope that he’ll let us into Heaven still prone to sin, or be afraid he’ll toss us into the cosmic trash.

Phil 1:6 answers: Never! God will never give up on us. Sometimes we quit on him, though, and God’s promises often have conditions. Let’s take a look at the context of this verse and what else Paul says here to his original audience, the first century Christians in the city of Philipi.

After his salutation and greetings, he tells them in verses three through five that he joyfully thanks God for them in his prayers because they have been his partners in spreading the gospel from the very beginning of his ministry. In verse seven, Paul adds that it is right for him to have such great love for them that he is sure that God will finish the work he’s begun in the Philipians. Why?

His evidence is that the Philipians have received and experienced the same grace that Paul has–and taken an active part in God’s grace. They’ve stood by him while he was imprisoned for the faith and defended and confirmed the gospel. Confirmed here means to give someone new assurance of the validity of the gospel. It corresponds with defending the gospel and is a non-violent offensive by the Church against the forces of darkness.

The text doesn’t state who the gospel is being defended against. Neither does it state who the gospel is being confirmed to. Paul is likely thinking externally. What would be visible to him is the Philippians’ defending the gospel against its human enemies and confirming it to those questioning it with open hearts. For many of us, though, what is most vital to us staying on Christ’s team until Christ is victorious is defending the gospel against the lies Satan tells us and confirming the truth of the gospel to ourselves.

Lord, we grow weary, we become impatient. Sometimes we’re tempted to give up and quit and learn to live with the brokenness or emptiness in our lives. It seemed like you’d gotten started healing us, but there have been stumbling blocks and obstacles. We’re starting to wonder if you ever really wanted to fill in this empty, broken area of our lives, or to set us free from a sin or bad habit that has hindered us emotionally, spiritually, physically, and/or mentally. Thank you for this confirmation that you have started a good work in us. Thank you for your reminder that you may not do it as we imagined, but you will continue to work on us and will complete us at latest upon your return for your bride. While we wait in our present weakness, Lord, fill us with your spirit’s power, teach us how to refute the enemy’s lies and rely upon you for strength. In Jesus’ name we pray, amen.

Don’t Think So Lowly Of Yourself!

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Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.”  Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you. (1 Peter 5:5b-6)

Some of you are thinking the title and this verse don’t match. Others I’m sure got only as far as the title before they stopped there, thinking, “Wait, that’s backwards, the bible tells us not to think too highly of ourselves.”

Yes, it does, but if you’re mentally correcting me,  you’re likely not afflicted with arrogance in reality and likely in no need of a lesson on humility. Our focus today is the part about the humble being exalted by God at the proper time.

Thing is, too many of us haven’t been taught humility right. We’ve been told to get our faces down on the floor and keep them there by abusers who misuse the bible to keep us “in our place,” which is in their control and serving them rather than God. Abusers trained us to equate being humble with thinking lowly of ourselves. So the proper time comes, and God sends someone to come to us and lift us up as he promised, we rebel against His will and reject him.

Maybe we don’t out right rebuke the vessel of his grace, but we usually do politely ignore the person “tempting me to sinful pride” or we subtly reject God with an audaciously hypocritical, “thank the Lord.” We may claim we’re instructing a misguided person to give credit where credit is due. In reality, we’re not the Lord and can’t know that they haven’t offered him thanks, too. So we have no business saying something so rude and judgmental. That answer springs from spiritual arrogance, not humility.

The true humble answer to gratitude and/or praise is a sincere “You’re welcome” or “Thank you.” After the simple courtesy, if the person isn’t a believer, by all means, take the opportunity to tell them about the hope within you, if God leads.

On the flip side, while pride leads to a fall, thinking lowly of ourselves follows being already fallen and keeps us unable to get up because we think we can’t. We tell ourselves we’re losers. We tell ourselves we can’t win. We can’t lose weight. We can’t stop getting drunk all the time. We can’t resist the temptation to sin sexually. We can’t control our tempers. We can’t, we can’t, we can’t.

Brothers and sisters, whatever weakness we are struggling with today, telling ourselves we can’t overcome it, God is holding out his hand to us and saying to stop thinking so lowly of ourselves. Confess your weakness to God, accept his affirmation and encouragement, and let him exalt you from the low position of ashamed sinner to the saint you are in Christ by grace.

Lord, forgive us for thinking too lowly of ourselves. Help us to stop seeing ourselves through the darkness of the failures, flaws, and mistakes of the past and present. Help us to focus on the good work you are doing in us and to believe that is who we truly are and who we can become with your spirit of power, love, and self control/sound mind in us. In Jesus name we pray, amen.

[bctt tweet=”Don’t Think So Lowly Of Yourself! Let God lift you up!” username=”@andreajgraham”]

Hoping to be the future Mrs. Wrong?

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I recieved a private letter that I won’t disclose, but imagine any number of ladies reading this could have written something along the following lines:

Dear Andrea,

My fiance/boyfriend confessed to a porn addiction/ongoing use and suggested I might want to call off the engagement/stop seeing him. I’ve read up on this subject, so I have an idea of how hard our life together would be, but …. (insert excuses reasons for wanting to marry Mr. Wrong here.)

In short, I love him, and if I say yes (or continue in the engagement) I can help him overcome this even though right now he’s ready to give up and doesn’t want to talk about it anymore. I’d be better able to help him and surely my love can save him. Right? He needs me. How can I reject him?

Signed,

the Future Mrs. Wrong

If you see yourself in this letter, the following is for you:
Dear Future Mrs. Wrong,

Beloved, I realize you love him, but frankly, he’s done the most loving thing he can in allowing for an amicable parting as friends. As long as he’s struggling with this, and especially if he’s not willing, or able, to do what it takes to overcome this, marrying him would bring you little but heartache and could even end in divorce. You can be his friend (after taking time away from him to refocus) and that is what he needs, but it would not be good for either of you to continue pursing a romantic relationship.

Marry someone spiritually stronger than yourself, someone you can look up to and respect, not to mention someone you can trust, in terms of both his faithfulness and judgment. He’s sick, and if you were married to him already, or his illness were physical in nature, that would be one thing. But a wife’s first duty towards her husband is respect him and follow his spiritual leadership (if that makes you cringe, note part of his role involves delegating to you the tasks/decisions in which you are clearly more gifted, but you may have to let him figure that out the hard way if his pride gets in the way.) But it comes down to this: with this kind of spiritual sickness, neither of you could fill your proper roles in marriage, and that would lead to nothing but heartache.

When evaluating a potential husband, ask yourself: Is he respectable, is he honorable? Do I respect him and treat him with honor? Is he someone I can look to as my spiritual authority (head), trusting in his judgment, his ability to make good decisions? Is this man going the same direction I am, and if not, could I ever follow his direction, or at least be a help to him in his calling while following complementary goals of my own? A wife, according to God’s design, is to be a helper fit to assist her husband in his calling, or mission in life , not a nurse maid, and definitely not his mother.

Women want loved first and foremost, but for men, it’s to be respected. As unbelievable as it is to us women, most men, if they had to chose between the two, would rather have respect without love than love without respect (which explains, in past cultures where the duty fell to him, why a father usually sought for his daughter a respectable husband even if it meant the exclusion of love.) So you’d do well to seek a man who will meet your basic need for love and who you can also meet his basic need for respect.

I’d suggest visiting forums for wives of sexual addicts (such as Shelley Lubben Forums or those listed at Bebroken.com :: Wives Links). Read some of their stories and talk to them, so you’ll have a better idea of what you’d be getting into.

Also, I’d recommend you at the least take some time apart, find a nice quiet spot where you can think clearly, and pray and fast unto the Lord, asking Him to reveal His will to you. I’d say Mr. Wrong doesn’t need a fiancé, wife, or for that matter any position of spirtual leadership, especially ones that would give him easy access to vulnerable children and women and others the pornography might tempt him to harm. What he does need is your prayers, the Lord’s healing, and friends he’ll allow to hold him accountable (preferably men, this disease makes it difficult to not relate to women as sex objects–that goes for children also, depending on his viewing habits.) If he’s giving up and not willing to be held accountable, I’d say don’t walk, but run from this relationship.

Ask the Lord to open your eyes to see clearly. The hormones raging in your blood stream are deceptive and will lead you straight into harm’s way.

As to concerns about rejecting Mr. Wrong, whether he realizes or accepts this or not, he needs your love as a sister in the Lord, not a romantic entanglement. Find a man you can accept, respect, and look up to just as he is, not one where you can do this after x number of changes which you hope your love will make. It won’t. Only God’s can. All you can do is keep reminding him of–or point him to–the Truth and encourage him to walk in it rather than lies. But that will require establishing clear platonic boundaries.

Now, circumstances sometimes do change, and God can change a man who wants to change, certainly. If later on, he actually does prove he has come out of this victorious and becomes a man you can respect and look up to, someone you can lean on as much as he does you, I am not one to hang past sins forever over the head of the repentant and would not suggest you do so either.

Still, we have ladies, when dealing with a tiger, who want to say: “we can marry if you make x changes” or, worse, “I’ll marry you if you promise to make x changes.” I highly recommend avoiding such statements, as that’s not fair to either of you. A marriage partner is an as-is deal and you have to evaluate prospective husbands as if what you have today is what he will always be (but do pray for his soul, spiritual growth, and healing of course.) Promises made by mortals mean little as they are often broken, and changes made to hook a fish last about as long as the courtship; once he has you safely in the bonds of matrimony, Mr. Wrong often reverts back to his native stripes. And that’s especially true in the case of pornography, as even with the most sincere efforts, this demon has a way of coming back to torture a man again. A good man can overcome with the power of Christ’s blood, but it’s never an easy battle for him. So make sure, if you’re planning to go forward into matrimony with a man who struggles or has struggled with that weakness, that you’re doing so with both eyes open.

In Christ’s Love,

Andrea Graham

Coming this April: Light at the Edge of Darkness, An Anthology of Biblical Speculative Fiction
Featuring: FROZEN GENERATION a short story by Andrea Graham

Venture to futures where faith equates to terrorism. Where terrorists smuggle frozen embryos to save lives and resist invasive technologies designed to break their very souls

http://thewriterscafepress.com/advance-orders.html

Trackposted to Perri Nelson’s Website, third world county, A Blog For All, The Crazy Rants of Samantha Burns, basil’s blog, The World According to Carl, Pirate’s Cove, Cao’s Blog, The Amboy Times, The Bullwinkle Blog, and Conservative Cat, thanks to Linkfest Haven Deluxe.

To Go or Not to Go…

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 Dear Andrea,
After a weekened visit to my parents house by myself, i came back home with an awkward feeling and some suspicions. I checked our computers history, and to my surprise found a bunch of pornorgraphic websites that my husband had visited over the weekened..all viewed at night time. Due to his actions i lost complete trust in him and am having a hard time regaining it back. I feel like our sex life has gone down hill. My husband makes me feel like a sex object that is only used to his advantage. One evening while taking a walk i decided to take the opportunity to confront him about it. He looked embarrased and ashamed…and he denied it at first..until i got the truth out of him. The sad thing is that i live with the guilt of wanting to divorce him. We have a three mth old baby together which we both love dearly. Would i be a bad mother/spouse for leaving my husband and my baby without a father?

Sincerely,

Unhappy Wife

Dear Unhappy wife,

I understand your feelings. It is a hard thing to deal with. Put yourself in your husband’s shoes. If you were in his position, would he be a bad husband and father for divorcing you and taking the children from you?
Adultery is an offense you can biblically divorce over, and based on scripture and the nature of the beast, porn can be considered a form of adultery. But do unto others as you would have them do unto you. If your husband is willing to work things out and take the steps necessary to be faithful to you from now on, by all means, stay, get into counseling with him, and get yourself the help you need to come to terms with this.
If, however, he will not repent, and you’ve given him every opportunity to, and your conscience doesn’t tell you otherwise, then you are free.

If the child is a boy, I highly recommend Bringing Up Boys: Practical Advice and Encouragement for Those Shaping the Next Generation of Men. As the book says, boys need their fathers to learn how to be a man. A girl likewise learns how to relate to her husband from her relationship with her father. An absent father is associated with sexual disorders and disfunctions of all colors.

But any father isn’t necessarily better than none. An emotionally absent father (which porn addicts have a high rate of being) or otherwise not modeling positive, loving relationships can be just as bad. If the addict will not repent and straighten his life out, the child will suffer whether you divorce him or not. So for the ladies dealing with a stiff-necked man who won’t repent and turn back to his covenant, if the Lord releases you, if you trust Him, He can also provide a good father for your children (one way or another.)

But if he will repent–stick it out and get to counseling for help to heal the breach and rebuild trust. It may seem hopeless now, but by the grace of God, your marriage can recover. It takes both spouses being committed to working it out, however.

In Christ’s Love,

Andrea Graham

adamsweb.us/bios.html

Coming April 2007–Light at the Edge of Darkness–Advance Orders

Spouse of an Addict? Don’t handle it alone.

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 Dear Andrea,
I was searching for some “Counsel” on this subject myself, and found it comforting to find your comments and advice on the effects of pornography on a marriage relationship. I have also had this issue affect my life for the past six years. A few months into our marriage I discovered my husband was looking at porn in the internet. I was shocked since he had portrayed himself to be a very dedicated Christian man when I married him, and I believed our sex life was awesome. He also had never admitted he had an addiction to the porn and has never admitted to how often he visits these sites. I know of dozens of times because of finding evidence in our internet history. As the years went by the sites he visited were more and more “hard-core”. Yet he never admitted he was “addicted”. He continued to go to church and appear to be a devoted Christian husband and leader to the outside world. It has affected how I see him as a husband and a man. It has affected me sexually, because I do feel like he has cheated on me. We have gone to two different counselors, and each time I hoped it would stop. It didn’t. He became more clever in covering his tracks. And it is true that he also had other areas in his life that Satan was also able to infiltrate. He is very emotionally and sometimes verbally abusive to me. He has often made me feel like I am to blame for his actions. Even though he now claims he no longer looks at porn, I don’t believe him because nothing has changed in the way he treats me. And he has never shown any remorse for what he did and has never really agreed to ways to become more accountable by putting “blocks” on his computer or by seeking intensive counseling for addiction (which he wouldn not do since he doesn’t believe he ever had an addiction to it). At this point I feel like my relationship and faith in him has been damaged to the point that I no longer want to be his wife. I do feel that our marriage bed has been defiled, and his claims that he no longer looks at porn does not suffice to mend any damage done, especially when he continues to have this hot/cold attitude toward me. As a Christian woman I feel especially betrayed, because I believed I was married to a man of God, whom I could trust. And now, being a Christian woman, I suffer with guilt for wanting to divorce him…..yet I know I cannot endure the mental anguish this causes for me being his wife.–Leah K.

Dear, you can’t handle this alone. Talk to your pastor, other women who have been through this. Give counseling one last chance before you give up on him. Let him know as quietly and gently as possible, if he doesn’t take his problem serious and get help, he will lose you.

And for the record, it’s not your fault. The addiction feeds itself. No real woman can compare to the fantasy porn creates. Porn warps a man’s mind to view all women as sex objects, and most fail to measure up to the fantasy. He may or may not have stopped, the poison remains in the man’s system long after he’s quit feeding new images into his brain. If he has stopped, though, nagging and continued distrust will be used as an excuse to go back.

Try explaining to him how this has broken your trust and that you need help from a third party to regain it and would like him to go with you to counseling. Emphasizing how this has effected you and your need may make it easier for him, and the counselor may be able to help him take more responsibility for what he’s done.

What it comes down to is this–if after serious prayer, you reach peace that what he has done is adultery and you are free from your vows–before you take that step, let him know what’s coming and give him a chance to make things right.

But you must remain calm and use non-accusatory language (I feel I can’t trust you, rather than you’ve broken my trust.) Hysterics and statements like, “You never…” and “You always…” , while understandable, will put most men on the defensive and ultimately backfires

Another great page I came across, that may help: Dear Hearts–Encouragement for the spouse of a porn addict

And here’sa support group for those affected by a friend or relative’s sexual addiction:
http://www.sanon.org/SANON.HTM

And you might be interested in the Christian Wives of Addicts which has a forum for wives of porn addicts.

By the way, if you decide to confront him again, try practicing by “role playing” with a trusted friend until you know you can say what needs said and remain calm.

Thank you for your comments on this blog. I’m glad to be of service.

In Christ’s Love,

Andrea Graham

Trackposted to Outside the Beltway, Perri Nelson’s Website, Is It Just Me?, The Random Yak, Woman Honor Thyself, Adam’s Blog, stikNstein… has no mercy, Big Dog’s Weblog, basil’s blog, Stuck On Stupid, The Bullwinkle Blog, Dumb Ox Daily News, and Right Voices, thanks to Linkfest Haven Deluxe.