Marriage

Standing for God’s Glory

Suffering while standing for the cause of oneness and reconciliation is a heavy burden to bear. The emotional toll taken on those willingly turning the other cheek and extending grace in the face of constant rejection, ridicule and hostility inevitably results in a painful existence where moments of peace and happiness are few and far between. When thinking about our own suffering and the challenges faced on a near daily basis, one should consider the role of suffering as it fits into God’s plan, and how this is ultimately used to bring glory to the Lord and to His kingdom.

A perfect example of someone who suffered greatly in life for the express purpose of God being glorified comes from a familiar passage in Scripture. In John 9, we read the story of Jesus healing the man born blind. Before Jesus performs His miracle, the disciples asked Him why the man was in that condition. They wrongly assumed it was a direct result of something either the man or his parents did. Jesus’ response was shocking.

It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him.”

john 9:3

You may be wondering why you are continually suffering for the sake of a spouse who has checked out or expressed a desire to completely leave you and your marriage. If you find yourself in this position, it’s possible your stand and time remaining faithful to an unfaithful spouse has been going on for years. But consider the man Jesus healed. His entire life up to that point had been defined by suffering, hardship and a longing to be made whole. His blindness was placed upon him for one reason; the glorification of God Himself. One might ask if it was fair this man had to endure a life of suffering so at that very moment Jesus could be given glory. You may be asking the same thing about your stand, but keep in mind this man was singled out and chosen by God for the express purpose of growing His kingdom. Many who witnessed this miracle were amazed by God’s power and believed in Jesus from that point on. Long after the healed man passed from this life into the next, his story and the role he played in God’s plan to glorify himself lives on and is a testimony of Christ’s enduring compassion, mercy and power to transform and heal.

When you are faithfully standing for your marriage and honoring the vows made on your wedding day, you are honoring the Lord. The testimony of the power living within that has sustained you up to this point is a witness to the One making it all possible. It may be difficult to understand the why’s and how’s of this tribulation you are going through, but when you examine it in the context of Christ’s glorification, the picture becomes much clearer.

Dear friends, we understand the suffering you face is very real and the normalcy of everyday struggles and challenges taking place right now would likely not be missed if God was to suddenly remove them. But during this season in the valley, ask the Lord to help you better understand why it is you are going through what you are. When others around you witness your stand and commitment in the face of strong adversity, they can’t help at some point to be amazed at the displayed level of dedication as they wonder where it came from. When this occurs, don’t hesitate for one moment to reveal the source. And think of the reactions that will occur when restoration finally happens. God’s glory will be magnified exponentially! Until that time, remain faithful to the Word of God and purpose in your heart and mind to stand for Him and for His glory alone.

In Christ,
Tommy Larson

Divorce, Healing and Reconciliation, Marriage

The Hope of the Cross

The twelve disciples were taught by the greatest teacher and leader who walked the earth. When Jesus called them to drop everything and set out on mission with Him, I’m not sure they knew just how extraordinary of an adventure it would be. It was met with miracles, healings and teachings that defied logic. They knew Jesus was the Son of God, and were witnesses to the mighty power He possessed. Yet, in the end, Matthew 26:56 tells us the disciples left Him and fled. Peter with deep aggravation and profane cursing denied Christ three times and Judas betrayed Jesus for thirty pieces of silver.

Jesus personally suffered through a tremendous amount of pain and experienced devastating grief. The betrayal by those He walked with side by side and was closest to was no surprise to Him. And, this is where we see the beauty of Christ’s character. Jesus knew they would turn their backs on Him, but still chose to devote His life to teaching them and poured out His love into their lives daily.

But all this has taken place that the Scriptures of the prophets might be fulfilled. Then all the disciples left him and fled. Matthew‬ ‭26:56‬ ‭

Dear friend, in your marriage circumstances, you may be suffering from an overwhelming sense of hopelessness. This Easter, take time to reflect on the hope of the Cross and the ultimate demonstration of restoration the world has ever known.

In Christ,
Amy Larson

Marriage, Suffering

Suffering for Christ

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Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. Romans 5:3–5

For standers (those seeking marriage restoration), one of the most difficult things to deal with and work through is the pain inflicted upon us by those taken captive by the enemy. Our spouse’s hurtful words and actions born out of anger, bitterness, and resentment have the power to put us in precarious and vulnerable emotional and mental states. Compounding the problem is the fact that while enduring the pain, we are filled with disbelief and confusion, as we attempt to reconcile how someone with whom we are joined in a marriage covenant can openly attack and wish us harm.

Leading up to our divorce, there were times I looked into Amy’s eyes and didn’t recognize her. It was a though the woman I married had been replaced by someone I had never known. My words of love and sacrificial acts of service were often laughed at, ignored and in some cases, openly mocked. I can’t express how painful this was. Those fighting for their marriage and dealing with a spouse hell bent on breaking their covenant, can attest to how vicious and cruel these same words and deeds can be. However, when you consider our prodigal spouses are willingly pursuing what God hates, we shouldn’t be surprised that the manner in which they chase after this evil plan will be marked by callousness, insensitivity, and anger. To put it another way, we should expect to be persecuted for our stand.

So what then are we to make of this? What are we to do when we are wrongfully attacked, accused and threatened? The Scriptures are not silent. In fact, there is much God’s word has to say about suffering; especially suffering for the sake of Christ.

Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed.  If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. 1 Peter 4:12–14

Throughout my painful stand, the Holy Spirit continued to impress upon my heart to persevere and endure the refining fires I was called to walk through. I was being allowed to suffer so as to cause genuine spiritual growth in my own heart and life. The more I understood this, the more I became aware of the suffering Christ endured on my behalf. The love, mercy and grace poured out upon each of us by God, should instill in us an even deeper commitment and resolve to pursue our spouses in their darkened spiritual condition.

Pastor Tim Keller has said, “Jesus Christ did not suffer so that you would not suffer. He suffered so that when you suffer, you’ll become more like him. The gospel does not promise you better life circumstances; it promises you a better life.” How true these words are!

Your suffering now is for a reason. It is also for a season. You don’t need to know how long you must endure or when the pain will be lessened. Rather, you need to be aware that the Lord seeks to draw you closer and to transform your identity into one that mirrors the sacrificial and loving example Christ Jesus set for us. It is when our own hearts become broken and made humble before the Lord that true and meaningful growth is poised to take root.

Standers, continue to allow the Lord to transform you during this time of fiery trials. Hold fast to His Word and promises. Know that one day, you will be rewarded for your faithfulness and devotion to Him. And as you suffer for the sake of the Gospel, know that Christ shares in your suffering with and alongside you.

In Christ,
Tommy Larson

Christian Walk, Faith, Marriage, Uncategorized

We Walk by Faith, Not by Sight

Copy of We walk by faith, not by sight.

The day I had dreaded for over a year was finally upon me. The scheduled mediation where Amy and I would formally and legally divide our belongings was underway. My emotions were in tatters and I struggled to stay composed throughout the proceedings. Feelings of regret, despair, and disbelief all seemed to be consuming my heart and mind at the same time. The woman I had ten years earlier stood alongside in our marriage ceremony and had made an oath to never leave, was about to be legally removed from my side.

During the mediation I can remember pleading with God to intervene and stop what was taking place. I knew what His word said about divorce and couldn’t believe it was His perfect will that the events unfolding before my eyes were a part of His plan for my life, as well as the lives of my children and covenant wife. How could this be happening? Where was God?

Of course, even though I wasn’t “feeling” God’s presence at that moment, I know He was there. Since then, I’ve grown to understand that God’s silence does not mean his absence in our lives and circumstances. The miracle he had in store for Amy and I required this storm be weathered and endured. My faith in Him needed to be grown and cultivated. The “harvest” was not yet ready.

In 2 Corinthians 5:7 we read, “For we walk by faith, and not by sight.” This faith in the power of God to heal and restore was not always easy to believe in. In fact, my faith seemed to contradict all that was real at the time. And make no mistake, I was being verbally reminded by Amy and others of that painful reality on a regular basis. Despite this, the Lord was speaking to my heart and sustaining my spirit. He frequently reminded me of the numerous examples in Scripture where faith was tied to waiting and enduring. This brought me great comfort.

Could God have intervened in that attorney’s office and changed Amy’s heart in an instant? Of course He could have. But I believe in my heart that the power of Christ was demonstrated in a greater way after the judge’s verdict was handed down. It was as though an impenetrable fortress was allowed to be built by the enemy, only to have Almighty God bring it down in a swift and powerful way. It did not matter what had happened in the past or what the new normal appeared to be at the time. The same power that raised Christ from the dead, had the ability to resurrect a dead marriage.

Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. Hebrews 11:1

You may find yourself in a circumstance that seems hopeless. Perhaps you are going through a divorce, or just recently became divorced. Do not give up hope. Pray to the Father daily that His will be done in your life and in the lives of the ones you love. We know what the Lord desires for husbands, wives and families. Do not accept defeat or Satan’s lie that you will find your happiness by moving on or “getting over” your failed marriage. Your happiness and joy comes from Jesus Christ. Your identity is in Him. Submit to His will daily and pray in faith that God does what only He can do. Nothing is impossible with Him.

In Christ,
Tommy Larson

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Christian Walk, Forgiveness

Wanderer

05 - WandererGiven my love for hiking and outdoor adventures, I can relate to the words of J.R.R. Tolkien, “Not all those who wander are lost”. While this statement is true, speaking from experience, it is easy to get lost while wandering. About a year and half ago, a friend and I headed out for a six mile hike in the mountains. 2500 calories and twelve miles later, we finally found our way back to the trailhead. We had been completely and utterly lost!

It’s easy to take a couple of steps off the path to check out something you see in the distance. You have every intention of returning back to the path where you left it, but you can’t quite get your bearings. All the vegetation, trees and leaves look the same. You carefully navigate knowing your next steps can lead you closer to your destination or further and further away. It doesn’t take many missteps in the woods before you find yourself wandering aimlessly.

Wandering in the woods can often be like wandering through life. If you don’t have a guide or an inner compass, your steps lead you further away from your preferred destination. At one of the lowest points in my journey, during my and Tommy’s “pause”, I faced a situation where I genuinely feared for my life. I recall numerous warning signs and the Holy Spirit’s persistent voice telling me to run in the opposite direction in which I was headed. I had gotten myself into what seemed like a hopeless situation. I pleaded with God to offer me a way out, begging Him to protect me and allow me to see the light of day. That evening, God’s hand of protection delivered me from a personal experience in which the outcome could have been drastically different. That moment of lowliness I knew changes needed to be made in order to turn my life back into the care and comfort of Christ.

The path back to righteousness was not an easy one, but God gently guided me. It took some deep introspection and tearful conversations to determine which steps to take next. When you run towards God chances are you have to walk away from something else. In my life, it was friends that had been a part of my journey for years. Although I considered them my dearest companions, they had been leading me further away from God and ultimately out of His will instead of towards it. Turning to Christ may mean walking away from friends, jobs, hobbies or bad habits that keep you distanced from the Lord.

Dear friend, perhaps you are in a place in your life where you think there is no hope for you. You have been wandering for years, turning to the pleasures the world has to offer. No matter how far you have gotten off the path, it is never too late to turn around and run into the arms of the Savior! Allow Christ to be your trailblazer so you don’t end up hopelessly wandering through life.

The Lord is compassionate and merciful, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love. He will not constantly accuse us, nor remain angry forever. He does not punish us for all our sins; he does not deal harshly with us, as we deserve. For his unfailing love toward those who fear him is as great as the height of the heavens above the earth. He has removed our sins as far from us as the east is from the west. Psalm 103:8-12

In Christ,
Amy Larson

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Christian Walk, Marriage

Holiness Before Happiness

Holiness 

Happiness

The great quest for mankind these days seems to be finding and obtaining lasting happiness. Whether it is coming from Hollywood or our close personal friends, the mindset that exalts personal happiness above all else has become ingrained into our thinking. Somehow we have bought into the notion that we “deserve” to be happy and are owed a stress free life. According to some, suffering, heartache and pain shouldn’t be things we experience as believers. After all, God wants us to be happy and filled with joy. But is this a Biblical worldview? It depends on where this joy is derived from.

While desiring peace and contentment in this life isn’t a bad thing for the believer, we are encouraged by Scripture to pursue holiness, not happiness. In James 1, we read: “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”

I remember early on in my marriage stand being so woefully unhappy. I felt abandoned, hopeless and forsaken. The extreme sadness felt on a daily basis was something I simply couldn’t escape. But slowly, and only after much prayer, discipling, and constant study of Scriptures did I come to understand that suffering was actually a part of the growth process. I learned that it was because Christ loved me that suffering was allowed to occur. I know this likely doesn’t resonate with the unsaved. Sadly, this concept is lost on many professing Christians as well.

As the Lord was refining me and daily increasing my faith and dependence on Him, the enemy was using others to speak to what the Bible describes as an appeal to “itching ears”. I remember being told by well intentioned people to move on, find someone else to make me happy, take on a new hobby, etc… But these “words of wisdom” did not direct me to the source of true and lasting joy. I speak of the joy and peace that can only be found in the Lord Jesus Christ. It was this recognition that helped me stay focussed on the straight path and to not be swayed.

Hebrews 12:6 says, “For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives.” When my marriage had reached a breaking point, and had seemingly reached its’ end, I was at a point where my heart was actually hostile towards God. I had allowed all manner of evil to enter my life. Pride, anger, selfishness and a host of all other iniquities were ruling inside me. It was because of this, I was being severely disciplined. In the course of this, I was humbled and brought to a place of lowliness. I was broken down completely and made to see just how hard and calloused my heart and mind had become to God’s will.

As I better understood the Lord’s motive for doing what He was doing, I became more aware of His grace and love. Knowing how much I was loved by Him caused my heart to melt and my spirit to desire to be more like the One who had saved me. And while during the times of trial I longed for my marriage and family to be restored, I knew that my relationship with the Almighty needed to be the number one priority.

Dear friend, I know that suffering is difficult. Sometimes the pain can drive us to the point where we are willing to do anything to make it go away. But in our pursuit of peace and comfort, are we neglecting the Great Comforter? Are we following His words and teachings or are we seeking a “quick fix” to make everything better? I challenge you to go deeper in your walk with Christ. Allow the still small voice of the Holy Spirit to lead and guide you. Rather than listening to the voices in your head which tell you to get out and run away from the pain, speak the truth of the Word of God into your life and experience the transforming power of the Lord. As 1 Peter 1:16 states, “…You shall be holy, for I am holy.” As a follower of Christ, you must recognize this as a command, and not merely a suggestion.

In Christ,
Tommy Larson

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