Joseph Prince and Divorce

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I will be adding another new post in a day or so, time to get some of these bottled up thoughts out again!

There have been many people viewing my blog by searching “Joseph Prince and Divorce”. If you are not familiar with his ministry it is very good on the teaching of Grace. I have followed his daily devotionals and read a book of his. He refers to restored marriages but says they are rare (restored after a divorce) yet encourages us to believe it possible. I would love to hear from readers and stumblers upon their experiences with divorce and remarriage or their use of the ‘Love Dare” book.

If you are a follower of the teachings of Joseph Prince and are facing divorce, please open up dialogue here.

My main reader and contributor died this past year. Katie Mitten-Smith was her name and she is sorely missed, I lost a friend and a prayer warrior partner with her passing.

The apostle Paul says quite plainly that as Christians we are to be reconciled or remain single, (scripture reference to follow). Clearly this practice is not a common one. I sometimes wonder if church leaders and pastors shy away from teaching that would require some sacrifice or hard work to follow. I hope teaching is not going out just to satisfy and therefore keep members or contributors to the ministry happy.

Hope to hear from you!
Stan “Pops”

Divorce, a Terrible Thing

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For those of you that have followed this journey through daring to love, the seemingly inevitable happened, Beth’s divorce of me was finalized on June 20th, 2011. I maintain that God’s Will was not done in this situation. That being said, God’s Will was not being done in my conduct towards my wife all the years we were married.

I see the failure in our marriage as a spiritual failing. I was to be the Spiritual Leader in our family and I never developed as that leader. I believe it takes 2 plus God to make a marriage great. A man of God fulfilling his responsibilities to his wife and children would more than likely result in encouraging the wife to live a God designed life also. Pure speculation on my part but I did see glimpses of this dynamic in my marriage.

God forgives and forgets, not so with we mere mortals. I did not know how to cope with the dynamo my wife was and certainly needed spiritual help to live successfully with her. My way of getting along was to go along and 9 times out of 10 this was not a problem. When I did not want to go along, I was pressured so strongly that I did 1 of 3 things, all with anger. I either refused to comply and faced her anger, complied, or left. The leaving was stupid and childish not to mention painful. Each leaving was with the intention of not coming back, then the pain came and I returned on my knees with promises that would be broken over and over again.

My wife was wonderful. Through her wounding she accepted me back dozens of times, only to be heart broken again and again. She forgave me much, so I love her much, ultimately she did not cancel my account of wrongs and states she had 16 years of walking heartbreak. I also held her to account for things that I had no right to hold her to account for. God is the Judge and God forgave us our sins through the sacrifice of Jesus, PERIOD.

The key I believe of a successful life, marriage and relationships is to accept God’s plan for forgiveness, for ourselves and forgive others as we have been forgiven and to turn our wills and life over to Him. There were so many missed opportunities in my marriage to step up to the plate, that if I had a double, I’d give myself a good butt kicking. Was Beth responsible for her conduct in the marriage, of course, but that was God’s job to correct not mine.

The Bible describes marriage as becoming one flesh. In divorce and in all the times I left, there is a tearing of that one flesh and it is excruciatingly painful! Do I blame my wife for wanting to bring this pain to an end? No. Do I wish she would have chosen the path of forgiveness, true forgiveness and trust God to fulfill His promises? I desired that and prayed for that more than you’ll ever know.

So now I’m attending Divorce Care, a Bible based course and support group. It promises healing through the only One who can heal, Jesus.

Day 9 Love makes good impressions II

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The first time I saw my then future wife, she smiled her 1,000 watt smile. If all that ever transpired between us was her smile, we’d both be happier people today.

I have worked through the Love Dare book several times, this is the fourth journey. I cannot perform the “dares” by request of my wife. I do seek God daily, several times a day even, on what I am to do in this difficult situation. Unless my wife has a change of heart, her divorce from me will be finalized in 31 days. I used to say, until just this moment, that unless God intervenes, the divorce will be finalized. I believe God is intervening, in my life as well as hers. God directs, urges, prompts us to do the right thing constantly and it is our choice to follow those promptings or not. We often receive bad counsel from other “well intentioned” Christians and relatives and friends.

One of the reasons I am sold on “The Love Dare” is because it relies heavily on Scripture and gives supporting Scripture for emphasis. There is a danger creeping in to Christian Counseling of “worldly” counsel. As mature Christians we need to be absolutely certain of what God says about divorce. God “allows” divorce due to our hardened hearts. Is that really a place we want to be? There obviously are some serious issues that need to be addressed in a marriage that is heading for divorce, I haven’t heard of anyone divorcing because their marriage was great.

So far in The Love Dare we have been encouraged and shown how to show patience, kindness and encouragement towards our spouse. Christians should recognize these qualities as being “Fruits of the Spirit”. My wife and I both need to grow up in many areas. The ironic and now not surprising thing to me is I embarked on a program for improvement in areas of my life that previously I had resisted. This began in January of 2010, by June of 2010; my wife ejected me from the house and her life. Ironic because we had been struggling for 17 years in the old way of doing things, not surprising because as Joseph Prince teaches, “when God begins a good work in you, the Enemy comes to destroy that work”.

Through all the years and difficulties my wife and I endured, there were times of such incredible joy and goodness, I’d have to be a poet to do the memories justice. I have absolutely no doubt that God has placed a tremendous love in my heart for my wife. I was immature, unforgiving, lacked the grace and mercy to fully develop this love, but it remains. I am not denying that my wife does not have issues also, but I know that with God’s help and submission to His Will, this marriage could be a shining example of what God can do with two willing believers.

As the authors encourage in this reading, greet one another warmly and with love. My memories are filled with the waking smile on my wife’s’ face and the joy she showed when seeing me again after even a brief absence. I am blessed to have many great memories amongst painful memories that are thankfully fading. Forgiveness of our spouse’s sins is an incredibly freeing act; accepting forgiveness through the shed Blood of Jesus is simply indescribable!

Instead of showing “Random Acts of Kindness”, be Purposely Kind! Grace, peace, and blessings…

Day 6 Love is not irritable II

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“He who is slow to anger is better than the mighty, and he who rules his spirit, than he who captures a city.” Proverbs 16.32

I received some feedback to a comment I left on a blog post written by two people I greatly admire. They write exclusively about marriage and what it means to become “one flesh” with your spouse. The response included a comment about God opening and closing doors, and to, “go through the open ones with joy and rejoicing and quit knocking your head against the closed ones”. I am a slow learner, stubborn and thick skulled, so I know I knock my head on the closed doors too often. The problem is I am slow to recognize closed doors, the metaphorical ones, I run into real closed ones less frequently. I don’t know if they consider me writing and going through The Love Dare is one of those closed doors.

We are to pray that God’s will be done in our lives and to have “expectant faith”. I think it is helpful to know what God’s Will is, so I can have expectant faith. Problem here is there are almost as many opinions on what God’s Will is concerning divorce as there are Christians. I firmly believe it is not God’s will for Christians to divorce. It is also not God’s will to engage in the activities or manner of conduct that leads to divorce. Being angry and letting your spouse know just how they have disappointed you is not appropriate, nor is being so sensitive that every unkind word is taken as a dagger to your heart.

We are responsible to learn what leads us to being irritable, and it is not the fault of our spouse. We can be stressed and distraught over our present situation, but the best response is to seek God in prayer and study, to learn His solution. I’ll say it again; when I respond in anger it is a lazy approach, letting my feelings dictate how I respond to others and how long I choose to remain in an “off” mood. It takes effort to seek God’s word on the problem, to seek out godly counsel takes humility. God’s solutions are always the best ones! If we pray instead of responding in an angry manner, we will not hurt anyone. Hurting our God given spouse should be the very last thing we should do, but seems to be the first thing we do when irritable.

We must study and pray. If we accept what other Christians are saying, without studying God’s word for ourselves, we will not know if we are given wrong advice. If we do not fellowship with God through prayer, we may miss what He has to say. I have received some excellent counsel and heard some bad counsel from well-meaning Christians (in the past). I am blessed to have several Christians that “rightly divide the Word” giving counsel at this time. The scripture teaches us to establish something “by the words of two or three witnesses”, this applies to scriptures some quote to support their beliefs.

This chapter in “The Love Dare” is another good one, read it, apply it and let me know what you think.

Day 3 Love is not selfish II

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This is the 4th time through “The Love Dare” for me. This time through is a modified version, I am limited in following the “dares”, due to continued separation from my wife. I believe the lessons in this book are invaluable and can be applied to our other relationships, to a degree. If you have this book and are going through it, please share your experiences as an encouragement to those of us faced with a greater challenge in our marriages.

I grateful to be going through The Love Dare as I count down the days until my divorce is finalized. The last time I went through this book, I was an emotional wreck, it’s nice to see recovery in progress and healing, along with growth. I have been praying and hoping for God to intervene and change my wife’s heart. A change of heart is her choice, even if it is God’s Will for it to change. If this divorce is finalized, you will not hear me saying it was God’s Will. Jesus said God allowed divorce in certain situations “because of the hardness of your hearts”.

In today’s lesson we look at selfishness. Selfishness is the opposite of love and we should be aware of our motives and examine them for selfishness. Selfishness is “natural”, selfless love is spiritual. Jesus laid down His life for us out of love for us. We are to do the same, love our imperfect, selfish spouse, even when we don’t think they deserve it. That is called grace, undeserved, ummerited favor.

Pride is the force behind selfishness. God resists the proud, so how can we expect our spouses to be pleased to be around us, if God can’t be near us? Who likes to be around someone who demands their way always be done and keeps a record of every perceived slight or disappointment? If we translate our offenses and being offended into playground language, we see selfishness for what it is…immaturity.

“When a husband puts his interests, desires, and priorities in front of his wife, that’s a sign of selfishness. When a wife constantly complains about the time and energy she spends meeting the needs of her husband, that’s a sign of selfishness.” 1 Corinthians 13 is referred to as “the love chapter”, a daily reading and meditating on it is a very good thing to do. In verse 5 we read, “love does not seek its own”.

Ideally both couples subscribe to these ideas and will look at this book for guidance. But remember, we love God, because He first loved us!

Pops Might Be “Getting It”

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In the past two weeks I have given away 4 copies of, “The Love Dare” book.  I feel like a fraud giving out what is basically a “How To” book for a great marriage.  I give the book away because I believe it is one of the best marriage books I have read.  I make a disclaimer with each gift, explaining just because my marriage is ending, this does not mean great marriages are not possible.

I continue to get insights into the errors made on my part in my marriage.  When all is said and done, all we can concern ourselves with are our actions.  It is easy to blame someone else for our errors, “they’re too sensitive”.  If you had a child who had an allergy to peanuts, would you keep trying to make them eat food with peanuts in them?  Of course not!  We have to be honest with ourselves, if our spouse is sensitive to criticism, and who isn’t, what is wrong with us when we continue to criticize?  Long before an issue gets to the marriage breakdown point, we know what the general complaints are.

I know myself well enough to realize when I am off the mark, not taking care of myself spiritually, I become critical.  Somehow I got this idea that if I feel bad, everyone around me should feel bad too, so I would say things that were just plain cruel, not witty, and inexcusable.  God places people and more specifically a spouse to help us achieve balance.  I absolutely cannot and do not blame my wife for terminating our relationship.  I do believe divorce, especially amongst Christians is wrong.

I had the opportunity to apologize to my wife for several things this past Saturday.  I wrote what I wanted to say and put that in an Easter card for her (I had the feeling I would not get to verbalize all I wanted to say).  Including what I wrote, this is what I said, “I don’t blame you for anything.  You were right in saying I was a self-righteous, judging and condemning Christian.  You were right to say I didn’t know what the God kind of love is.  I pray for your healing from the harm I have done and for healing from other self-righteous Christians judgment’s.  I ask your forgiveness.  God has placed a tremendous love for you in my heart.  I will love you forever.”

Unbeknownst to me, the letter announcing the court date for the divorce hearing was in the mail.  I received the letter on Monday (it was dated on Good Friday) and the date set for the hearing is June 20th (Summer Solstice), 2011.  I will not be attending this hearing; it’s a formality, a “default divorce”.  Pending a change of heart in Beth, our marriage will be over on June 20th.  Now I don’t have anxiety every time the mail is delivered, I was staggered by this letter.

I wear my wedding ring still, inscribed inside are the words, “Faith, Hope, Love”.  The greatest of these is love, which I still have for Beth.  I have no faith that she will change her mind, no hope, but love abides.  I do have the utmost faith in God, He is the hope of my salvation and the reason I have a tremendous love in my heart towards Beth.

All Avenues Exhausted

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I am grateful for many things, more so since going through this very painful divorce experience. I am grateful that I am a recovering alcoholic in a 12 step program.  Every meeting I attend, I witness the gradual life rebuilding miracle of recovery.  I witness the Love of God towards those of us who have exhausted all humanly possible attempts at changing our lives around.  I see people so bitter towards a God that “abandoned” them years ago, come to believe in the God that never leaves us, nor forsakes us.

Our faith was exhausted, life had no joy for us and many of us contemplated suicide, some actually did kill themselves, cutting short the promise of a new day.  I was blessed to be in a meeting this past Monday, that was the most emotional meeting I have ever been to in my 20 years in AA.  I did not share at this meeting my own suicidal tendencies.  Four people out of the fifteen in the group had spouses that suicided.  Two people had toddlers die on them.  All of us had been at the end of a death march of sorts.  At the close of the meeting, all the women were crying, the men were choking back tears and we were all so glad to be there!  We are a strange family, brought together by an illness that resisted all outside interventions, only God could relieve us of our disease and would if He were sought.

I began writing this post with the frustration of a failed marriage in mind.  I was discouraged, wavering in my faith, and generally at wits end.  I have been here before and it is exactly at this point where I once again lay all my concerns, all my fears, my powerlessness in the very capable hands of God.  I will not lose my faith with this marriage, all I need to do is keep going to meetings and I can see the work that God is doing.

I have been guilty of an idolatry regarding my wife.  My wife stated that, “nothing on earth or in heaven can make me change my mind” of divorcing me.  I believe her, but God is more powerful than my wife.  She may get her divorce, but I do not think it is going to give her what she thinks it will give her.  Everyone, including myself who has had the audacity to stand up to God and challenge Him, has been humbled.

I have accepted that this marriage will end in divorce.  I accept it, I do not approve of it.  The filing will probably be done this week, and since we are in a “no-fault divorce state”, that will be the end.  Many strong believers have prayed with me, for the marriage, for my wife, and I am very grateful for that.  Just because we miss God’s plan for our lives, does not mean God’s plan is untrue, or not possible for those who seek it for there lives.

All avenues are exhausted, except for what God chooses to do in this situation.

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