Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Am I married? A test.

A marriage ceremony and a marriage certificate does not guarantee that one is married if by married we are referring to the emotional connection that the Bible calls 'one flesh.'

If you come to me - a professional counselor - and share information that strongly suggests that you are in a marriage that is not a marriage, I might suggest the following things to do to clarify this issue.

1. Know yourself and your mission and values:
I would suggest you spend some time on your own life, your life's purpose, your life's values. Know who you are.

2. Look at, write down, all the signs, all the clues that indicate that you spouse is not married. One example is language. Do they use the language of 'we.'

3. Compare ambitions. Are you on the same page? Are you equally yoked or is one doing all the giving and the other is taking?

4. Are there major warning signs that this is not a stable healthy relationship? Is there an abusive component to the relationship? Does one partner always have to be right or in control? Does this mean it is nearly impossible to have constructive criticism, confrontation or raising of issues without getting derailed?

5. What is your vision for marriage? What is negotiable and what is nonnegotiable? Are you already being forced to compromise your core values in order to make this work? Is it unlikely that what you want in a marraige is going to happen? That you will always be doing your best to 'make it work.'

6. What is God's heart on marriage? I base my theology of marriage on John 15 and point to the spirit and truth of marriage as the secure bond, the unity and connection upon which one can build a life. My best guess is that God holds us accountable for the relationship and is not as concerned with the legalities and religious rituals. Think this through for yourself.

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Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Learning from Christian marriage retreats

I remember that this couple was really keen to get a breakthrough in their marriage. They loved each other, were real and authentic and ready to work.
It was during the summer and we had wonderful weather and a lovely time at Jack and JoAnnes retreat center.
Of course I started each session with a prayer that submitted our work to God and invited the Holy Spirit to protect and guide us. I always to that.
At this time in my career I was more relaxed than earlier. I could rest in my experience, my training and the discernment of the Holy Spirit.
I had lots of experience of God coming through whenever we called upon Him. If we were lost. If we needed insight into a memory. If we needed His truth or His comfort. He was always there.
John Sandford always prayed when he was stuck (Help!) and learned that way. I appreciate learning from John and Paula Sandford. Now I can appreciate learning from the Holy Spirit in the times when I call for "Help!"
This Christian marriage retreat began the process of showing me some of the blocks to marriages that one is likely to see. This resulted in my article on 10 marriage transforming prayer encounters.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Praying for Satan?

I was asked why not pray for Satan’s salvation in our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ?
The person thought
if we prayed for Satan to humble himself and come into the understanding, ever forgiving love and grace of God, through our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, the God, who forgives and loves all of us, would not this prayer be helpful for all of us who battle everyday, “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places, EPH 6:12.”

MY ANSWER re pray for Satan:

I understand your thought: if Satan was converted life for all of us would be better.

Several suggestions I have:
1. The conversion or removal of evil in our life is sometimes God's plan and sometimes He wants us to become strong by standing up to our enemy.
2. I suggest not focusing on Satan (leave that to Jesus and His heavenly forces), rather, focus on your immediate life here on planet earth.
3. Notice the "binding" of Satan for a 1,000 years in the end of the book of revelation - since it is in God's Word you could pray for that, and be hopeful about that. Even more hopeful is -
4. Satan may already be bound and we just don't know it.
5. No-one knows what "Satan being bound for a thousand years" would look like. We think life should be easy and peace would rule, etc. Not!
6. Satan is not our biggest enemy - if the number of Biblical admonitions is our evidence - sin and sin patterns in our life (our 'sinful nature') are the number one enemy. Sin and sinful nature are still around. These will need defeating in our own life.
At times we may be harassed by a human whose life is evil in the extent of the damage he does. God sometimes removes such an 'enemy agent' because of the damage being done. There may be times to bite the bullet and asked for the conversion or removal of an 'enemy agent.' This is someone in your work place, church or family, who is causing great destruction, leading many astray, deceiving many, seriously abusing many. An example might be a clergyman who seduces many women or makes moves on young boys. It could be an administrator who creates financial havoc or undermines the moral of an organization.
7. A creative prayer for 'deliverance' might be appropriate in this situation. Check with someone to make sure this is not just your own personal hurt and animosity. Is it clear to more than one that this one is doing evil? Many will come to the defense of a minister prefer to 'think no evil' and will ignore a well covered up trail of abuse and defilement of the position and authority of the holy man.
8. If yes then 'give God permission,' if it is God's will, to "convert of remove" this agent of darkness.
9. To summarize I would not focus your prayers on Satan either to bind him or convert him. Leave dealing with satan to God. As for you, love God, do good and by that you will be undermining the work of the devil.