Divorce, Endurance, God's Power, Spiritual Warfare, Temptation

Don't Be Complacent

They have all fallen away; together they have become corrupt; there is none who does good, not even one.

Psalm 53:5

If you are standing for your marriage or have experienced the Lord miraculously restore the relationship between you and your spouse, there may come a point when you become comfortable or lax in your walk with Jesus. If you are like me, the desire to possess an intimate and close fellowship with the Savior can be a struggle. Far too often, the very things that should rightfully occupy the inner parts of our hearts take a back seat to what is fleshly, temporal and fleeting.

Recently, I’ve become aware of areas in my own life where complacency has taken hold. What has become clear and glaringly apparent is the fact that this attitude usually is a result of our unwillingness to be proactive and intentional in our pursuit of righteousness on a routine basis. Unfortunately, deviation from deliberate efforts to fully submit to God have the potential to put us in situations where our hearts can become vulnerable to the attacks from the enemy. It’s a dangerous place to be and an environment we as believers should always seek to avoid.

So vitally important to understand is that none of us are above reproach and what exists in our hearts will never come close to being good. In fact, what is there is described as deceptive and wicked by the Word of God. This should serve as a sobering reminder should any think he or she is beyond scrutiny and incapable of turning astray. I’m reminded of the story of Peter and the circumstances that led to his denying Christ three times. Surely if any person had a right relationship with the Lord it would be Peter, right? One can easily assume this, but if we view this apostle from a lens focused squarely on his human imperfections and sin nature, it becomes easier to understand how this event likely occurred.

Before Peter’s outward denying of the Savior, there were already failures at the heart level. In other words, the spiritual battle Peter was in had already been lost long before the infamous cursing came from his lips. As Scripture tells us, it is out of the abundance of the heart, that our mouths speak. This is also true of what we do with our hands, think in our head, or look upon with our eyes. It all begins in the heart. It is due to this corruption that the sinful and ungodly actions of the flesh are born out and made manifest.

Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.

1 Peter 5:8

At this point, you may be thinking to yourself that if someone like Peter who was so close to Christ fell so easily, what hope do we have? The answer is simple. The hope you have is not in yourself or in your ability to fight the enemy on your own. Your hope is in Jesus. He is the one able to strengthen and equip you. His Word is what prepares you for battle and provides you the armor to withstand the attacks of the evil one. We must rely on Him completely and not leave ourselves vulnerable by assuming anything concerning the virtue and integrity we foolishly think we possess.

There were times in my stand when I did feel extremely confident about my walk with the Lord and the work He had done in my life. But even in those moments, there was danger lurking at every corner seeking to lead me astray. It was only by the grace of God and the empowering of the Holy Spirit that potentially harmful situations and opportunities were kept at bay.

The challenge we all face is clear. A relentless enemy is on the attack. He will use anyone and anything to lead us down the path of darkness. Be constantly aware of these dangerous snares and entrapments. Don’t let your vulnerabilities during these valley experiences allow the evil one to gain access to the doors of your heart. Purpose now to cling to the cross. May we all remain broken before Jesus and understand the importance of our full and complete submission to Him. It is only through Christ that victory will be found.

In Christ,

Tommy Larson

Divorce, Faithfulness, Healing and Reconciliation, Holidays, Suffering

Thankfulness vs. Hopelessness

In this episode of the Purposed Marriage podcast, we discuss the Thanksgiving season and how to properly view our circumstances in light of our identity as born-again Christians.

15 Powerful Bible Verses About Thankfulness and Gratitude

Anger, Christian Walk, Divorce, Forgiveness, God's Power, Healing and Reconciliation, Marriage, Suffering, Waiting on God

Enter His Gates with Thanksgiving

It’s not always easy to recall the two years I spent running from the Lord, because those memories seem so distant and foreign to me. But, I share stories from that time because I know for so many standers recounting my path to restoration is helpful in order to better understand the heart and mind of a prodigal. My desire isn’t to rehash past events that bring about guilt and shame, but to paint a picture of how far God has brought me is such a short period of time. Thankfully, Thanksgiving of 2015 is one holiday experience I can retell but never have to relive.

Let’s take a glimpse back at November of 2015. Tommy and I had been separated for nearly eight months and were living in two households. I went to great lengths to distance myself from him, only communicating about matters that directly involved our children. Earlier in the month he appeared at one of our divorce hearings and pleaded with the judge for an extension in our case. The extension was granted and my desire to be permanently estranged from my husband was foiled. Needless to say, I was angry! I was angry at the judge for taking pity on him. I was angry at my lawyer for not convincing the judge otherwise. I was angry at Tommy for delaying the inevitable. But, most of all, I was angry that I wasn’t getting my way. My pride and rebellion was at an all-time peak, and anything that stood in the way of promoting my sinful lifestyle infuriated me.

I know Tommy felt the wrath behind my anger, even though he never openly communicated that to me. I intentionally ignored his messages and when I did respond, I kept the texts short. As Thanksgiving was approaching, the messages and phone calls between us increased. With every interaction, I could feel the tension mounting. We were met with making decisions about things we had never had to face in previous years and this was new territory for both of us. It was especially challenging because we did not have the same expectations regarding the holidays. 

Tommy wanted nothing other than to celebrate with me and the boys. He longed to take part in the Thanksgiving traditions we had created together over the past ten years. I would have probably been open to the idea of a joint holiday had Tommy been willing to go along with my wicked plans and not attempted to delay our divorce proceedings. But, my schemes went awry and I intended to punish him for his lack of cooperation. I was so blinded by my anger towards him that I couldn’t see his desires were genuine and good for our entire family. All I could see what that he was standing in the way of what I wanted, which was a declaration to end our marriage. Despite his request for togetherness, I chose to host Thanksgiving for family and friends in our home without him.

That year Thanksgiving was different. After the feast was over and my guests had left, a deep loneliness set in and the reality of my choices started to hit home. I was living life entirely on my own and it was solely based on my poor decisions. The company of my friends and family could not fill the void that I had hoped it would. In reality, Tommy could not fill that void either, but turning back to my marriage would have been a step in the right direction. I had fallen so far out of the will of God that I had tunnel vision. I was consumed with my will instead of God’s will and I was seeking the happiness that I felt I deserved. I was willing to do anything to please my selfish desires, and oftentimes in ways that were damaging and sinful.

Praise the Lord, God gave Tommy clarity to see right through the devil’s schemes. That Thanksgiving, Tommy continued to respond to me in love. I knew I had hurt him deeply, which was my intent, but he did not retaliate or respond to my sin with sin. The Father provided him comfort and love as well as great restraint, which didn’t go unnoticed. Tommy could have easily faltered in his stand due to the cirumstances, but his foundation for standing was grounded in the love of Christ. His absence from our family dinner wouldn’t deter his fight for our marriage. He knew that the Lord had more work to do in my heart, so he thanked God for the process and prayed for me that holiday weekend, as he did every weekend. Tommy’s spirit of gratitude wasn’t based around a day, but it was a lifestyle choice that he chose daily. 

The following Thanksgiving, we celebrated our first holiday as a restored family. I still get emotional as I reflect on the goodness of God. The Holy Spirit renewed my mind and set my feet back on the path to righteousness. The Father took our dead marriage and restored it back to life in a miraculous way that only He was capable of doing. 

Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise! Give thanks to him; bless his name! For the Lord is good; his steadfast love endures forever, and his faithfulness to all generations.

‭‭Psalms‬ ‭100:4-5

Dear friends, I know many of you may find yourselves in desperate family situations. Some of you may even question what you have to be thankful for in the midst of your crisis. I want to remind you of the Father’s may provisions, the greatest of all, a Savior. God loved us so much that He sent His one and only son to take our place and bear our burdens on the cross. Let’s never forget to be grateful for the gift of the cross! We can also come to the Lord with thanksgiving knowing we serve a Master that is actively working and fully capable of performing God-sized miracles in our marriages. Despite the longsuffering, let’s be thankful for the process of transformation taking place in our lives, and let us continue to pray for our prodigals to make their way home to Him!