Grace and Divorce

60 Comments

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”

Day 12 Love lets the other win II

Leave a comment

I had a conversation with a friend last night. He is of the opinion that there are “no good marriages”. I admitted that most of what I believe concerning having a Bible-based, God-centered marriage is based on faith, not experience. I know a few married people who have good marriages, but they seem to have them by “luck” and not by design. If I consider what makes the marriages I see as successful work, many of the elements outlined in this book are being implemented, not by design, but perhaps through discovery or just due to the individual’s personalities. What this says to me is this Love Dare book is really needed!

We are to glorify God and give honor to Him through our lives. When we do not have marriages that glorify God and bring honor to His Name, it is a terrible testimony and a HUGE missed opportunity to witness to others what the reason for our success is. When we divorce, what does that tell those who look to us as Christians for answers? I can say this about my own failed marriage; it is not God’s fault. It takes two willing people to submit to God’s guidance and live out what He empowers us to live out when we are willing to do His Will in our marriages and lives.

Today’s lesson in “The Love Dare” covers stubbornness, willingness and the ability to lay aside personal “rights” for the good of the relationship. Stubbornness can be good in certain areas, like our belief in God and a refusal to deny those beliefs. In a marriage, a stubborn insistence on our own way and “rights” is detrimental to a good relationship. It only takes one partner to “give in” to diffuse an argument, but ideally both should become willing to cooperate with one another.

I am a stubborn person, my wife is stubborn also and this knowledge causes me much grief. I know my wife is stubborn enough to take her being offended, hurt and disappointed all the way through Divorce Court. I did not file an “Answer” to my wife’s Petition for Dissolution. I told her I could not, would not file an Answer and would not appear in Court. In Minnesota, it only takes one person to file for divorce and if there is no “Answer” filed, all that the person filing for requests is granted by default. I had the “right” to challenge my wife’s settlement requests, but was physically, emotionally and mentally unable to. The Apostle Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 6: 1-11 admonishing believers not to take one another to court. I read this after I was unable to file legal papers and felt better about not being able to do so.

Even though this is not the scope or application the author was referring to, I feel like I am allowing my wife to “win”. This is a sickening thought in this application and I pray that God will be able to impress upon my wife that this is not the course to stay on. I am not deluded however to think that if the divorce were stopped and my wife reconciled to me, that our marriage would succeed without professional help and the application of the principles laid out in this book. Without God being first and foremost in our lives and a humble submission to His Will for our lives, we can have no success. Whatever the outcome, I am giving myself wholly to God everyday, to seek His Will for my life and ask for His power to carry that out. I am course corrected and I am very grateful for that, “not my will, but Thy Will be done”.

Day 10 Love is unconditional II

Leave a comment

God demonstrates His own love towards us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5.8

When I read this verse today, it was if I had read it for the first time, perhaps it is the first time I meditated on the first 5 words. God demonstrating His love, while we cursed Him, ignored him, sinned against Him and denied Him, Christ died for us. Without Jesus, we are at enmity with God, separated from His love; we have no fellowship with Him.

This is somewhat the position I find myself in with my wife. We have no fellowship, we are not at peace with each other, and we are headed for divorce. This separation has been good for me. I think separation is necessary for couples when their problems require professional help. I am absolutely convinced that divorce in a Christian marriage is against God’s Will however.

Think about it, while we were sinners, enemies of God, He laid His life down for us, the supreme sacrifice. Jesus was beaten, spit upon, had His scalp lacerated with a thorny crown, scourged with a cat-of-nine tails, 40 lashes times 9 steel balled ends tearing the flesh off of Him, then nailed to a cross! Who amongst us can claim that extreme abuse? Jesus said, “Father forgive them, for they don’t know what they are doing”! Abuse, whether verbal or physical is wrong and must stop and that is where separation until professional help comes to play. We are to forgive, God does not divorce us, and He forgives us.

When you are separated for an extended period of time from your spouse, in my case approaching one year with a short reprieve, you learn what your love is made of. “Phileo”, friendship love is gone as is “eros”, sexual love. If you have forgiven your wife for the wrongs she has done, asked forgiveness for the wrongs you have done against God and your wife, what remains? Good memories? Hopefully. If the love you feel grows during the separation and you get past the hurt, you realize this love is from God and it is unconditional.

“The Scriptures say that “neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8. 38-39) This is God’s kind of love. And thankfully—by your choice—it can become your kind of love. But first you must receive it and share it.” From “The Love Dare”.

Until yesterday I would say, unless God intervenes, my marriage will be over in “x” number of days. I was corrected, God has intervened, He has given us forgiveness of sins and all the accompanying promises of salvation and that was before we accepted it. In like manner He is intervening in my marriage, my heart has undergone a course correction, He has spoken to my wife through our Pastor, at the bare minimum and has provided her with the same Spirit of truth that all believers have. If my wife chooses to ignore God’s Will and obtains her divorce that is her choice, not God’s Will. If God’s Will was being done on the Earth, Jesus would not have taught us to pray, “Thy Will be done on Earth as it is in heaven”.

Day 3 Love is not selfish II

2 Comments

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!

Day 1 Love is patient II

4 Comments

In 40 days my marriage will end in divorce, unless God intervenes.

There are references to 40 days, years, throughout the Bible. The Love Dare book is 40 days of “dares”. I feel lead to go through the LD book one more time during this 40 day period.

It has been 7 1/2 months according to my reckoning, for how long my wife and I have been separated. According to my wife, it has been 11 months. Much has happened during this time. Our daughter-in-laws’ grandmother died, Christmas was spent apart, my children’s grandmother died, my youngest stepson’s dad died, Easter was spent apart, sporting and school events were missed of Garrets’ Senior year in High School. Good news, my oldest daughter is going to have a baby boy in October! All these major life events were experienced as a single person, no comfort or joint celebration was possible.

I was an emotional wreck for months and learned that this was not unusual. Studies indicate that divorce demands up to 85% of our emotional energy. That is a huge imbalance! Through much counsel and countless prayers of many godly people, I am still here. I still attend 5 recovery meetings per week and have made many new and supportive friends.

I have given away many copies of the Love Dare book and promote it when I can. I firmly recommend if you embark on this LD journey, say a prayer to prevent the “enemy” from sabotaging your efforts. I feel that there was an element of spiritual warfare present in the demise of my marriage. I had just started in earnest to seek a spiritual and practical solution to our marriage and personal problems when my wife declared she was quitting. I still am responsible for my behaviors and have submitted and do submit to God’s correction and teaching.

The first Love Dare lesson proclaims that Love works! The lesson is on exercising patience and not returning evil for evil. Get a copy of the Love Dare and follow along with me, tell me how it goes.

I am going to keep this short, I am using my phone to type this post. God Bless you and your marriage…

Pops Might Be “Getting It”

Leave a comment

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.

Pops Talks Grace

Leave a comment

For those of you who had been following this blog and perhaps were wondering what has transpired over the past several months, here’s an update.

I was served with divorce papers and had 30 days to file an “Answer” with the Court.  There is an interwoven story that I will not attempt to share at this writing, for sake of brevity.  I traveled to the county where the papers were filed, to submit my legal response to my wife’s petition of dissolution.  After many sleepless hours, I realized I could not, would not file an Answer.  I emailed my reasoning to Beth, telling her I still love her, do not want a divorce and would not be appearing in court.  I let her know I am aware that my actions mean that she will get what she is asking for by default.

The main thing I want to share here is what I have learned, in part through this ordeal.  Three months ago I read an excellent book, “Destined to Reign” by Joseph Prince.  Prior to reading this book, I was still laboring under an oppressive mix of The Old Covenant and The New Covenant.   Read the book to find out what that means, you won’t regret it!

I have, by the grace of God been clean and sober for 19 ½ years.  It took me 19 ¼ years to come to a better understanding and peace with God.  I attend 5 meetings a week and correspond heavily online.  I say this to convey that what I am finding are people who have been wounded in their lives by religious minded believers.  I listen to atheists, agnostics, self-righteous Christians, those who are angry at God and those who feel God is angry with them.  In the past several days my discussions with atheists and agnostics has worn me out.  I feel surly and scattered in my thinking from hearing their reasoning.

I have been doing a programmed Bible reading plan since the beginning of the year.  It has readings from the Old and New Testaments daily.  I regain my equilibrium through these readings and through the prayers, love and fellowship with mature Christians.

I do not, cannot blame Beth for her actions.  I can see where there are faulty conclusions and misunderstandings that have had a terrible outcome.  Beth thought I had expectations of her that really were her way of seeing me and not what I actually thought.  I have had uncharitable and wrong minded thoughts towards her that do not line up with the message of grace that is at the heart of the Good News.  I am just now aware of the wrong I committed due to this lack of grace.  This all sounds complicated because it is and that in itself is contrary to the message of grace!  The Good News is so simple and grace so effortless, it is amazing.

Beth held that many Christians (and for good reason), judged fellow believers and held those judged in contempt.  Beth vocalized an understanding of the love of God being greater than all our sin and greater than the love shown by other Christians.  This ties in with the people I hear talk of the rejection and judgments they feel from Christians and the failure of Christians to walk in love as Jesus commands believers to do.  What I, Beth and others have chosen to do with this travesty is where the rub is.

At some point, believers reject God totally, in part because of the “hypocrisy” or lack of love from Christians.  Some think there are enlightened Christians who know the damage self-righteous Christians do to their own and condemn those self-righteous Christians.  These so called enlightened ones are lacking in the truth of the message of grace also, fomenting division, hatred and superiority.

I have and probably will sin again in the area of self-righteousness.  I have a heightened sense of the grace message, because I need it so much.  The love of God that is shed abroad in the believer’s heart is how and why we can love the seemingly un-loveable.   The grace of God and His forgiveness of our sins is what allows us to forgive others their sins against us.  God making us the righteousness (right standing) of God through Jesus is what allows us to go directly to Him and not be ashamed.

I sincerely love Beth with all my heart and more importantly, with the love God has placed in my heart towards her.  The tragedy here is she believes that I do not know what love is and that I am like the believers who act as Pharisees and “don’t get it”.  The fact is, Beth is not acting out of love towards me, or with the love God has for me, nor forgiving me and recognizing “there is now therefore, no condemnation to those who love the Lord”.  You cannot reject, eject and disrespect a spouse or anyone and claim you have a superior or correct knowledge of what God’s love is.  We are to love as God loves us and rejoice that our sins and other’s sins are forgiven, erased even.  The beauty of this is that God gives us the ability to do and be all that we should be!  Grace requires nothing but belief, accepting what God says is true and receiving what He has done for us.

I am okay.  I am glad for God’s love and the love of many towards me.  It is sad and a terrible witness to have Beth’s and my marriage end.  It is not an end for me or her individually, we continue like all God’s children, to be His workmanship and all we need to do is let God be God and thank Him for all He does for us all.

The irony in this is the rejection, the judgment, the discarding what God has redeemed and Beth believing she is right in doing what she is doing.  I would rather have the end of the marriage than to be in a marriage with someone like myself, who has been blind to what grace truly is.  If we are going to rail against the “hypocrites”, shouldn’t we quit acting like them?

Older Entries