Archive for April, 2012

A Marriage Conference

I’ve been thinking about marriage a lot. Probably because my daughter is going to tie the knot on Mother’s Day in Tallahassee. Maybe because after 30 years of what most consider a good marriage, Tom and I had to work through a few issues that have been problems in our marriage and we didn’t see them until recently.

Kind of like the crack on the big mirror in our bathroom. It’s been there since we moved in, but after a while, I got used to it and don’t notice it anymore.

So when there was a one-day marriage conference at Lakeside Community Chapel and Tom had the day off–we went.

The conference was an answer to prayer.

Steve Kreloff began with Ephesians 5:18, “And do not be drunk with wine, but be filled with the Spirit.”

Strange way to start a conference on marriage.

He went on to explain being filled with the Spirit as feeding on God’s Word and willing to obey it. It’s being focused on others. Like our spouses.


I don’t think I’ve ever been more proud ( if I can use that word) to be part of my church. So Christ-centered. So practical. So necessary.

I left during the next session on husbands loving their wives. I heard bits of it and marveled at how God uses His Word to change lives.

Next session was the role of women by Bruce Mills. A cop. And not a warm and fuzzy one, although I count him as a friend. Another winner. Bruce was so gracious and kind. Not only a succinct definition of what submission is, but also what it’s not. I needed to hear all of it.

Our assistant pastor, Joe Trofemuk ended the conference with a message about communication.

“Debbie and I have a secret to our marriage. If I have time at the end, I’ll tell share with you what that is.” Then he went on to describe 5 characteristics of gospel-centered communication. It’s designed to please God, preceded by thought, motivated by love, done with openness and honesty, and intended for good. Wow.

At the end, he remembered to share the secret of their happy marriage. “When we have a conflict, we both think we’re the worst sinner in our marriage.”

Simple but profound.

That thought has crossed my mind over these last several days. If I realized the magnificence of God and my sinfulness, I’d fall on my face and say, “Woe is me.”

We’ve been taught that in  Sunday School. But believing it, living like it, and especially seeing ourselves as the worst sinner in our marriages is life-changing.

I think I’ll have Tom order a new mirror.


Locking Shields

“How have you been?” She asked innocently.

Then, I told her.

“Well, the Lord has been working on me to conform me to His image. Tom and I have been married for 30 years and right after Christmas, we realized that even though we like and love each other, our marriage still needs work. I needed work.”

My friend was stunned.

“I guess I realized that just because we’ve been married a long time, doesn’t mean there aren’t sin areas.” I caught my breath. Might as well tell all.

“Like controlling. I hadn’t realized how much I tried to control my husband and my children. The Lord has been convicting me about that. It’s an unbelief issue. I just need to trust. I know I can’t move on in my walk with Christ if I don’t trust Him.”

“I don’t want to be like Rebecca who knew God’s will was to bless Jacob and instead of trusting God to work things out, she ran ahead of him and deceived Isaac. She never saw her son again.”

“I don’t want something like that to happen to me.”

My friend who just asked a passing “how are you?” at a wedding shower, received an earful.

Tears filled her eyes. “Thanks, Pauline. I needed to hear that.”

As Christians, why are we afraid to be honest with our brothers and sisters in Christ? James says to confess our sins to one another. Not details. Not gossip. It’s called transparency. It accomplishes much.

It humbles us. It encourages others that they are not the only ones who struggle. It encourages us both that God is sovereign and still working on all of us to conform us to the image of His Son.

Just last week, family friends of ours were struggling with a heart-breaking issue. They called and asked for prayer. I prayed. I received permission to share their request with close friends and other prayer warriors.

We all prayed. And God worked mightily. They were able to have agape love in a difficult situation, and share the gospel with an unsaved man. Amazing.

A few weeks ago, I studied the armor of God in Ephesians 6. The Bible Study Fellowship leader spoke about some specifics. “We need to lock shields with other believers in prayer. We’re not fighting against flesh and blood but against principalities and powers. We need each other.”

We do.

It’s not airing our dirty laundry. We’re family, it’s okay.

Is there someone you can lock shields with today? Perhaps I can lock shields with you, friend.

Let me know. In the meantime, no matter what, pray. It changes things.


I’m reading a book by David Jeremiah about Encouragement. I need that book. I tend to encourage those outside my family and discourage those inside my family.

You might ask why. That’s a good question.

I think it is worry. I don’t live with those outside of my home. I love them, but not with the intensity that I love my family. So, I worry. I think if I don’t have control, the world will fall apart. Then, when I don’t have control, (which is never), I get discouraged.

That’s a sin according to Jerry Bridges and his book “Respectable Sins.” John Piper would agree. He preached a whole series and wrote a book about unbelief.

Unbelief is exactly what is plaguing me.

I can believe that God raised Christ from the dead, but He can’t speak to my family through the Holy Spirit.

I can believe that God created the world with a word, but He can’t take care of our finances.

I can believe that He has a home in heaven for me where I’ll spend eternity with Him that defies description, but cannot believe that He is sovereign in the details of my life.

Which leads to another “respectable sin.” Discontentment.

This morning during my quiet time with God, I took the advice of David Jeremiah. I ran to God and His Word and then sang praises to Him. The song? “O the Deep, Deep, Love of Jesus.”

The weight of discouragement has lifted for now. I’m going to keep feeding on God’s Word, and singing His praises.

James 1: 2-4 says, “Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.”

It’s growing time for me. What about you?


The Right Glasses

3-D Glasses annoy me. I feel them on my face for the entire movie, and really I’m only using them for a few scenes.

But what if we had special glasses to view spiritual warfare? No doubt it would astound us. Shock and scare us.

That is exactly what the Bible says is happening all around us. Ephesians 6: 12 says, “For we are not fighting against flesh and blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.”

If you believe that the Bible is the actual breathed-out-Word of God, the thought of a spiritual struggle between God and Satan should have a great effect on you. It has on me.

In December, on a mission trip to Honduras, I experienced it. After arriving home, I was overcome with despair, my sin, and the sin of others. But I couldn’t pinpoint it. That’s a clue that it is spiritual warfare. If I feel guilty and can name my sin, then it is my sin.

But when I am being obedient to the Lord. When I’m confessing my sins daily and still have an overwhelming sense of guilt, or despair, or evil, that is when I need my spiritual glasses.

According to Ephesians 6, like the Boy Scouts, we need to be prepared. Put on God’s armor and fight with the Word of God and prayer. It is interesting to note that we fight by standing. Not in our own strength–we’re no match for Satan.

I know some of you think this is a myth, or that I’m just imagining it. Believe what you want.

We’ll find out when we die.

Try picking up the offensive weapon of the Word of God. Read it. Ask God to open your eyes to it.

If you really mean that, He will.

It’s nearing Easter. It would be a great time for you to give your life to Christ.

And then get ready for the battle.