Why Stay in an Unhappy Marriage?

Recently I overheard a Christian man make this shocking statement:  “Why would anyone stay in an unhappy marriage? Life is short! Get a divorce and move on!”

How could a follower of Jesus say such a thing?  I listened from a distance, but it started me thinking.  Why? Why? If we are truly Christ-followers who have been born again, then we do the right thing, that’s why.  Yes, life is short!  That’s why it’s important that we stay in our marriage. We work on it. We pray. We set an example for our children. We don’t run from our problems, but we trust God.  We work on becoming a better wife or husband and we love more and more.

Marriage vows were made. Vows are not to be broken. Perhaps your spouse needs the Lord. Leaving will not lead him/her closer to God, but will even distance him/her more.

Life is a test.  I want to pass this test.  Happiness is a choice. Moreover, our goal in life is not to be happy, but to become holy.  God never promised us happiness. What He did promise us in John 16:33 was trouble!  Our purpose in life is to know God, to serve God and to love God.

When we surrender our lives to Jesus Christ we receive the Holy Spirit and all the fruit of the Spirit. This includes love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23).  All Christians receive all the fruit of the Holy Spirit, not just some of it.  We simply need to exercise that fruit.

Does the fruit of the Spirit guarantee us happiness?  Happiness is a result of something that happens.  The Spirit promises us joy. Joy is a quality that abides within and keeps us living above our circumstances.  Joy is better.

  • Wait!  Are you being physically abused?  In the USA call the National Domestic Violence Hotline:  1-800-799-SAFE (7233), or 1-800-787-3224 (TTY).
  • Jesus said,  “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”   John 16:33
  • When a man makes a vow to the LORD or takes an oath to obligate himself by a pledge, he must not break his word but must do everything he said.    Numbers 30:2, Matthew 5:33
  • For the unbelieving husband has been sanctified through his wife, and the unbelieving wife has been sanctified through her believing husband. Otherwise, your children would be unclean, but as it is, they are holy.   1 Corinthians 7:14
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Rebellion, Drugs, Then Jesus

My friend Jessica has an amazing story.  Raised in a Christian home with a mother who faithfully prayed for her, Jessica had a rebellious spirit and a drug addiction. Her disobedience often resulted in trouble.

One day she prayed asking God for a lifetime supply of narcotics. He answered her prayer by giving her a job as a caregiver for a woman with crippling arthritis. When the woman recognized Jessica’s depression, she suggested she take her syringes and use them for herself!  Jessica’s addiction to morphine became so bad that one day she swallowed every pill she owned and woke up in the hospital thinking, “Why am I still here, God?”

It was then she realized that all her life she’d gone her own way and not God’s way.  She prayed, “God, I was dead and now I’m alive. From now on, Jesus, I belong to You and I will follow Your way.” She went into rehab belonging to God.  She decided that every time God nudged her to do something she would obey.

She was challenged to pray for the one person who bothered her the most.  “I began to pray daily for my mother and it changed me. I was able to forgive her from my heart and accept her imperfections. Jesus is in the business of restoration. He restores us to God and then restores us to each other.  Today I love my mother dearly. I no longer see her as I once did. I want this for everyone!”

“When Jesus saves us, we think we’re getting saved just for eternal life. But NO…we’re also getting saved from ourselves–from our rebellion and our inner anger.  Jesus helps us to let it go.  Jesus really IS the prince of peace. He’s the king of peace. Jesus IS our peace.”

Today Jessica is sober, happy and serving God with her life.  Her joy is contagious. She openly shares Christ wherever she goes. She leads a Bible study for homeless women and also leads worship in a retirement home.  What a treasure she is!

 

 

 

 

 

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Seven Seconds of Boldness

I once heard that “Seven seconds of boldness can change a life.”  I think about that phrase often, especially when I see an opportunity.

A few days before Easter I took some invitations for Easter Sunday Church to hand out at a Good News Club.  When the parents arrived to pick up their children, I’d say, “Do you have a church to attend this Easter Sunday?  If not, I’d like to offer you an invitation!  Some parents said, “Thanks, but I already have a church!”  Others said, “No, I don’t have a church!  I’ll take one!”  Seven seconds!

Yesterday while walking through a shopping mall parking lot I saw an older teenager taking a break from his job.  He was wearing the store uniform and leaning against a wall smoking a cigarette. I stopped in front of him and smiled.  Then said, “Did anyone ever tell you that cigarettes aren’t good for you?”
He smiled back.  “Yeah, I know.”                                                                                                         “While you’re relaxing, perhaps you’d like something to read.”  I handed him a Good News booklet and said,  “It’s about Jesus.”

He said, “Thank you!”

I walked away and then looked back.  He was reading it.

“Dear Lord, Thank You for giving me the boldness to speak to him. Would you now speak to his heart through the booklet?  Show him how much You love him and draw him to Yourself.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.”

  • He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.”       Mark 16:15
  • The booklet I used:  http://www.cru.org/how-to-know-god/would-you-like-to-know-god-personally.html
  • To order:  http://www.crustore.org/catalog/Would-You-Like-To-Know-God-Personally-FULL-color.html
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Inmate No Longer Fearful

There was a precious 22-year-old in my Bible study at the county jail.  Kimberly was unusually attractive, with the look of fresh innocence.  She rarely smiled, but I was drawn to her sweet spirit.

She came faithfully every week for five weeks.  Her serious eyes would listen and she’d ask deep questions, but she was fearful of giving her life to Jesus.

One evening I had an opportunity to speak with her privately. “I believe someday you will decide you are ready. When that happens, you won’t need me. Talk to God in your own words, even from your bunk. Tell God you want His forgiveness.  Let him know you realize you cannot live the Christian life on your own power. You need the Holy Spirit to come in and change you. Pour out your heart to Him.  He loves you.”

The next week Kimberly came to class smiling and bubbling with joy.  I knew immediately she was different.  “What happened to you?”

“I did it!  Last Friday night on my bunk I cried out to God and asked for forgiveness.  I have been so happy ever since—and I have peace! I don’t know why I waited so long!”

Kimberly continued to come weekly until her release a few months later. She grew in her walk with God and the transformation was genuine.

A few months later I received a phone call from a friend. She said that her niece, Kimberly, had spent several months in jail. “Ever since her release her parents have been astounded at her change.  She’s happy.  She’s working.  She’s even going to church!  Kimberly gives all the credit to Jesus Christ, who came into her life while she was in jail.  She told her mom she had attended Kathleen’s Bible Study while in jail.   I wonder…are you that Kathleen?”

I could hardly speak as I listened to her message.  I loved that girl and I praise God that she is continuing to walk with Him.

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Singing in the Caribbean

On another island in the Caribbean I became acquainted with a clerk at the reception desk of a hotel. It being Sunday, I asked him about the churches on his island—I believe we were on Granada that day.

He said the same thing as the ladies on St. Kitts—they had Catholic, Anglican and Methodist Churches. He said he was a Methodist, but not a Christian: “I try to live a Christian life, but I keep failing. I don’t think I’ll ever be good enough to be a Christian.”

I said, “It’s true that you can never be good enough to be worthy of heaven.
Nor can you ever be good enough to get saved.
FIRST, you must surrender your life to Jesus.
Only then will you receive the Holy Spirit.
Only then will God supply you with the power you need to live the Christian
life.  You see, it is impossible to live the Christian life without the Holy Spirit first!”

I asked him if he would mind if I sang him a little song about the fruit of the Spirit.           He grinned and nodded.  He politely listened as I simply sang Scripture put to music:  “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.  Against such there is no law.   Galatians 5:22.”

I then explained that ALL Christians receive ALL the fruit of the Holy Spirit when we give our lives to Jesus.  ALL the fruit is available to us, not just some of it. We just need to exercise that fruit. God helps us do that—AS we trust in Him.

This young man’s countenance changed before my eyes. This was good news! Suddenly he had hope in realizing he could be assured of heaven. Yes, he could become a Christian!

Since he had daily access to a computer, I wrote down a helpful website for him: www.godlife.com.  I left him with several tracts and booklets.

As I walked away I noticed my praying family in the corner of the lobby—giving me a thumbs up.

Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.                  Matthew 28:19-20

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Grandma’s Talking to Someone! We Need to Pray!

The best part about traveling is meeting the people.  We were blessed with a cruise to the Caribbean.

Whenever we went ashore I brought my tracts with me. I began engaging people in the shops and on the streets by saying, “I am a visitor, and I’m interested in learning about the different churches you have here on St. Kitts.”

One lady said, “We have mostly Catholic and Anglican Churches. We also have Methodist Churches.  I’m a Methodist.”
“Oh!  You’re a Christian!”
“No, I’m a Methodist.”
“You’re not a Christian?”
“No.”
“Do you study the Bible in your church?”
“Sometimes.”

I said, “I have a little booklet that explains how easy it is to become a Christian.  May I give it to you?”

“I’d like that! Thank you!”

Just then another lady standing in hearing distance approached me and asked, “Are you a Christian?”
“Yes. Are you?”
“No, I’m a Methodist.”
“I don’t understand. Do you to go church?
“Of course I go to church!”
“And you’re not a Christian?”
“No.”
I said, “If you were to die today, do you know where you would go?”
She said, “hell.”
“Are you comfortable with that?”
She said quietly, “No.”

I pulled out another tract. “I have a little booklet called, Would You Like to Know God Personally? by Bill Bright.  It explains how you can get right with God so you will know you’re going to heaven.  May I give it to you?”

She eagerly received it.

As I walked away and looked back, I saw both ladies reading their booklets and I prayed, “Lord speak to their hearts and draw them to Yourself.  Save them for eternity, in Jesus’ name.”

I met another woman on the same island. She was selling jewelry and swimsuits on the beach. Same thing. Said she was a Methodist, but not a Christian. I began to wonder if there really were Catholics and Anglicans on the island. I certainly didn’t meet any. Again, she welcomed my literature and sat reading it as I walked away.

The most precious part of this trip was the support from my family.  It warmed my heart when I overheard our nine-year-old granddaughter say, “Grandma’s talking to someone again!  We need to pray!”

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Jungle Doctors

This was the first time on the mission field for medical doctors, Mitch and Sue. They had brought along their small children to live in this remote jungle serving tribal people.

It was the end of their first week when they heard a commotion outside. One of the local men came running into the village yelling for help. Behind him was a crowd of angry men chasing him with machetes.

He ran for refuge, begging for help, to the home of an older missionary couple who lived next door. The missionary opened his door and let him in while the crowd of angry men shouted from outside.  The older missionary stood on his porch and listened. He calmly asked questions. He listened. The crowd became calm and then quiet. The missionary spoke gently and then he prayed for them. They soon dispersed peacefully.

Later the victim, still unharmed, walked home. Mitch and Sue had been watching and praying from their window.  Now they began praising God.

Later Mitch talked with his neighbor,  “I’m not so sure I could have calmed such an angry crowd.”

His neighbor said, “Some things we can’t do on our own. We have to trust God.  He did it for me and He will it for you.”

  •   Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.   Joshua 1:9
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Cursing Girls Respond to God

Five incarcerated teenage girls walked into Bible study cursing and acting disrespectful.

I smiled, picked up my guitar and began playing.  They picked up the song sheets and slowly began singing along—songs of praise and worship.

A few minutes later I opened my Bible.  The rudeness had ceased. They had questions and hung on my answers. By the end of the hour, all five said they wanted to turn their lives around.  Each girl said she wanted to receive Jesus. Their attitudes had softened.  They became polite and respectful—really sweet, precious girls.

We ended with a couple more songs. They asked if they could keep the song sheets.  I asked a deputy if she would make copies, and she did.  As we were saying goodbye, one of the girls asked if I’d pray with her privately for a personal issue.

I returned home rejoicing and praising God, thanking Him for allowing me to see the transformation in their attitudes in such a short time.

What made the difference?  Was it the worship of God in song? Was it God’s Word?  Was it the prayer? Perhaps all of the above!

God really does change lives!

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Living Water for a Surfer

A surfer stopped by our table at the beach and I offered him a free Bible.

He said, “I can’t believe this! Two weeks ago I was in a car accident and I should have died. Instead, I walked away! Now someone is offering me a Bible. I’m beginning to think God is trying to get my attention.”

I said, “You may be right.  Tell me something.  IF you would have died in that car accident, do you know where you would have gone?”

He said, “No, I don’t.”
I said, “If I didn’t know I was going to heaven when I die, I think I’d be worried.  I think I’d have trouble sleeping at night.”

He said, “I AM worried. I DO have trouble sleeping at night.”

At this point, I shared the message of Jesus with him using the booklet, Would You Like to Know God Personally?  By Bill Bright. Afterward, he said he wanted to turn from his sins and become a follower of Jesus.

We prayed with him and he said he wanted to start going to a church and find a youth group. We sent him on his way with a “Surfer’s Packet”—a waterproof bag containing a Bible, candy bar, booklets and helpful information about recommended youth groups and churches, including our own.

What joy to interact with that precious surfer and to see his smile as he walked away with a new faith, a new direction and a new Bible.

  •  May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.   Romans 15:13
  • Would You Like to Know God Personally?  By Bill Bright:  http://www.cru.org/how-to-know-god/would-you-like-to-know-god-personally.html
  • SONG:   MY FRIEND 

 

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The National Day of Prayer

The first Thursday in May has long been designated as The National Day of Prayer.  This year it’s on May 7.  Have you ever considered inviting friends and neighbors to your home for one hour of prayer on this special day?   I have!

I will print out invitations and take them around the neighborhood.  If it is not U.S. mail, then it’s illegal to place an invitation INSIDE a mailbox or even inside the mail slot in a door.  Instead, I’ll leave an invitation under the doormat or attach with a rubber band to the outside of the mailbox.

It’s important to have some Christian friends help you host it.  I like to post one at the door to greet latecomers.  She could also hand out name tags and prayer guides if you are using them.

You will be inviting people in the neighborhood whom you know and whom you think may be favorable to the idea of prayer. Some you may only know as a familiar wave when they pass. Some who won’t come may call with a prayer request.  Note: Your invitation is not likely to draw a crowd!  You may get a handful at most.  After all, it’s even difficult to get Christians to attend a prayer meeting!  What you are doing as well as praying, is letting your Christian light shine so that the lost can find you.

I’ve had people call me six months or a year later. One lady said she was not a churchgoer, but she had kept my invitation. “I’m going through a crisis and I need God in my life. I thought perhaps you could help me.”   I found it interesting that despite a fine church down the street from us, she called me!  Often people who are unchurched are intimidated by churches—that’s why I suggest this be done in a home.  But it’s certainly a good thing for a church to do as well!

Here is a sample Invitation:

In Acknowledgement of The National Day of Prayer  – Thursday, May 7, 2015

Recognizing a need for more prayer—for our world, our nation, our leaders, our community, our schools, our teachers and our children,  I invite you to a neighborhood prayer gathering!

Time____  At the home of_________ Address_________

  • This will not be a time for discussing various doctrines of belief.
  • We will simply be responding to 2 Chronicles 7:14 of the Bible which states, “If my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray, and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.”
  • I believe God will honor the prayers of a neighborhood on its knees—however, you may sit.  Some may prefer to pray silently, others may pray aloud, conversationally.
  • We will respect the confidentiality of personal prayer requests.
  • We will begin and end promptly on time.
  • Light refreshments will be served after the meeting.
  • I urge those who have never before attended a prayer meeting, to come and see for yourself, what God is willing to do for those who ask.
  • If you cannot attend, but would like us to pray for a personal need, please let me know. My phone: ___________

Sincerely,  Kathleen

History of the National Day of Prayer:  

  • 1775 – First Continental Congress called for a National Day of Prayer.    
  • 1863 – Abraham Lincoln called for such a day.
  • 1952 – Congress established NDP as an annual event. It was signed into law by President Truman.
  • 1988 – President Reagan amended the law designating the NDP as the first Thursday in May.    
  • There have been 62 Presidential Proclamations for a “National Day of Prayer”   (1952-2014)

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Guidelines for Conducting a Prayer Meeting

  1. Ask three or four Christian friends to come early and pray with you before it begins. Pray for God’s anointing on your home and on this prayer gathering.  Pray that God will bring only those people He wants to be there, and prevent all others from coming.
  2. Begin promptly on time. Introduce yourself and welcome everyone. You might go around the room and ask them to share their name and where they live. This should not take more than 2 minutes.
  3. Explain that we will begin praying for our nation’s leaders, then our community, our schools, our teachers and our children. Rather than ask people to share personal prayer requests, ask that they just pray them out as they come to mind and you will all agree. Ask them to respect the confidentiality of personal prayer requests. Some people are more comfortable with silent prayer and that is fine. Silent prayer works.
  4. Before beginning to pray, you will want to prepare your hearts for prayer. Read Matt. 18:19-20.  Or choose another short Scripture reading (1-4 verses), such as 1Timothy 2:1-4. Have your Bible open to the verse. Thank God for His Word, His attributes and His presence with you. One easy formula for prayer is ACTS: Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving, Supplication – for others and for self.  
  5. Another form of praise and worship is singing.  You or a friend can lead in singing one song of praise, perhaps a hymn that is familiar to both Protestants and Catholics, such as “Amazing Grace” or “How Great Thou Art.” Do provide song sheets.  However, music is not necessary.
  6. Then move to confession.  Allow one minute for silent confession.
  7. You might take another minute of silent prayer in memory of the many Christians who have recently been martyred for their faith.
  8. Go directly into prayer for the national leaders, then state leaders and local leaders. Ask that they finish praying for national leaders before going to state, etc.  Allow a pause, a moment of silence, before going from one prayer focus to another.
  9. Some may wish to pray for the Middle East Crisis. Rather than take sides, it might be safe to simply ask that the United States maintain a biblical posture in its relationship with Israel. Remember to pray for the persecuted Christians in many countries:           N. Korea, China, Laos, Iran, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and others.
  10. Pray for government leaders: Obtain a current list of elected officials here: http://nationaldayofprayer.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/02/130TopUSOfficialsBookmark_2015.pdf
  11. The Billy Graham Evangelistic Association has an excellent prayer guide to download:       https://bgcdn.s3.amazonaws.com/secure/wp- content/uploads/2014/03/How_to_Pray_for_Our_Leaders_Download.pdf
  12. Close with prayer in which you personally yield your life to God. We give Him our requests, but we still want His will. When the hour is up, close the prayer meeting by simply praying something like, “Lord, I invited these neighbors for an hour of prayer and our time is now up. Thank you for bringing each one. Would you bless them for coming and bless their homes.  In Jesus’ precious name I pray, Amen.”  If there is anyone who wants private, personal prayer, invite them to remain afterward. You and your Christian hosts will pray for them.
  13. Invite your guests to stay for simple refreshments—coffee or juice, cookies or muffins.

 

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