Tag Archives: Divorce

Your Example Didn‚Äôt Quit

Husbands, love your wives, even also as Christ loved the church and gave himself for her (Ephesians 5:25).

In other words, think twice before you say of your marriage:

“This is too tough.”

“I don’t feel it anymore.”

“I deserve better.”

“I deserve to be happy.”

“She doesn’t love me.”

“She doesn’t meet my needs.”

“She cheated on me.”

“I quit!”

Think of all Jesus could have said, but didn’t…as He carried the cross all the way.

“As Christ loved” is our example. If He didn’t quit, when should we?

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Filed under Defending Traditional Marriage, Defining Marriage, Divorce, Love of God

What It Takes to Stay Married

Just married! Leaving the church with the most beautiful woman in the world ūüôā

Today (June 18th) my wife (Valerie) and I have been married 24 years. Hard to believe we’ve been together that long. In reality, we’ve been “together” for 26 years, but the first two we were dating, then engaged.

Next year will be the big 25, and I don’t have any time to spare in getting ready for it. We went to Disney World on our honeymoon, and that’s where we want to go next year – with the whole family! Donations WILL be excepted…better believe it.

Anyway, as I was sitting here doing some reading and studying in order to answer a question about prayer from a fellow blogger, another question randomly popped into my head:”What has kept us married for 24 years, if not simply prayer?”

Well, prayer has been an indispensable part of the glue, that’s for sure, but there are other things, too. Therefore, this evening I’m going to share them with you in hopes of helping your marriage and strengthening mine.

But that’s not all! I’m starting with my list, then I’m going to bring Valerie (my wife) into this with her thoughts!

My List:

God. First and foremost. Without divine intervention, I’m sure Valerie and I would have either ended up divorced at some point…or simply dead. Don’t think I’m being facetious, either; I’m being very serious. There have been more times than I can count that the Lord has worked miracles, moved mountains, guided circumstances, and healed incurable wounds with the Balm of Gilead. If nothing else and no one else, we owe our marriage to the One before whom we made our vows.

Commitment. If you want to know a dirty little secret, there have been times when my wife has said, “The only reason you’re still here is because you made a commitment!” Well, yeah, that’s true. But you know what? Whatever happened to making a vow and keeping it? There will be times in life when the only thing that will keep you trudging through is your promise, your word. If your word means nothing, then you’re marriage will certainly fail.

Our Witness. You see, my wife and I are unashamedly Christian. Everything we do – we believe – should bring glory and honor to God. Even when there were difficult times, we still wanted other people to know about Jesus. Therefore, we have stayed together through the worst of times if for no other reason than to be an example of God’s faithfulness to us.

Faithfulness. It may seem like a no-brainer, but staying faithful to each other and guarding against unfaithfulness should be an every-day commitment. Don’t expect your marriage to last when you start sampling the water from other wells. And here’s a little FYI… when your spouse gets too thirsty, don’t think he/she isn’t going to be tempted by a fountain in the desert. Know what I mean?

A Well-Watered Garden. Keep the grass green on your own side of the fence.

Forgiveness. Folks, we all fail. My wife isn’t perfect, but I’m less perfect. As a matter of fact, I’m a regular mess. If we didn’t learn to forgive each other we’d both be in a world of continual hurt.

Putting the Other First. It might sound funny, but my wife and I have actually gotten into fights (verbally, of course) over trying to please the other one! “Where do you want to eat?” can spark arguments even when all you want to do is be thoughtful! However, pride, putting yourself first, and always wanting to get your own way will end in real disaster.

Children. I don’t want to get too deep into this one, but having children has done a lot for keeping us married 24 years. For one thing, my wife was a child of divorce, resulting in abuse, emotional trauma, and a lot of unfortunate baggage. The last thing we wanted our three girls to endure was another broken family. We had to break the cycle. You do a lot and endure a lot for your kids, you know.

Church families. I can’t stress enough how much belonging to and regularly attending a church has meant to us. So many times, when there was nowhere else to turn, God used our church families to come alongside us with love, compassion, and support.

Love. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not just talking about emotional fluff or sensuality; I’m talking about the kind of love that’s expressed as a verb. Love is not a thing; it’s something you DO.

Listen to Your Wife! Yeah, this is a guy’s responsibility, but it’s important. Men, listen to her. She has a lot more to say than you do, and you want to be the one she talks to when she’s concerned, hurt, lonely, angry, etc. Did you get what I said? YOU want to be the one she talks to. If you don’t listen to her, who do you think will? Oh, and take that “woman’s intuition” stuff seriously – it’s real.

Valerie’s List:

Patience. Anthony has more patience than me. Actually, he’s the most patient person I know – it’s both a blessing and irritating at the same time.

Empathy. Even when something doesn’t necessarily bother me, it hurts me to see my husband hurt. I hurt when he hurts, but when he hurts when I hurt, that makes me love him even more. When we empathize with each other we learn a little better to see things from the other’s perspective and feel their heart.

Understanding. Even when Anthony doesn’t understand something, he takes the time to listen and try to understand, which lets me know he loves me and makes me love him. Sometimes you have to try to see things from the other person’s perspective, which leads to a better understanding. There is always more ways to see the same thing, and marriage requires both of us to take a step back, at times, and imagine ourselves in each other’s shoes. Trying to understand the other by listening and putting yourself in their position is loving them.

Shopping. I don’t like to shop. I don’t like to clothes shop, Christmas shop, or anything like that. I don’t like grocery shopping most of all! I know it runs contrary to the stereotype, but I just don’t like shopping! But when Anthony says he’ll go with me shopping – even though I know he probably hates shopping more than me – it puts pep in my step and joy in my heart.

Doing things I like to do even though he doesn’t like to do them. Or, to put it another way, Anthony watches the “chick flicks” with me and rarely even complains – sometimes he even cries! There are times I’ll even say “yes” to the war movie. The thing is, once we start watching the other’s movie, we often find out we like it. It’s when the other one asks to participate in something that we should stop and think about how often the other person did something with us, even when he didn’t want to. Simply being nice and thoughtful can make a marriage last a long time.

Conclusion

My wife and I are not marriage counselors, but we’ve got a lot of marriage experience. We’ve also seen a lot of marriages fail when they could have lasted. All they would have needed was to do what we’ve shared above.

Marriage is tough. Marriage is work. Marriage is not for the faint of heart. But marriage is a gift. Marriage is a calling. Marriage is meant to be a symbol to the world of God’s love and faithfulness to us.

For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones. For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh. This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church. – Ephesians 5:30-32 KJV

If you’re married right now, know you are in the Enemy’s sights, and he wants nothing less than for you to fail in your commitment to each other. Hang in there. Be strong. Love each other with a Christ-like, cross-bearing love. Stay on your knees. Give God the glory.

Oh, and always have a sense of humor. Laugh.

And then you’ll have what it takes to stay married.

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Filed under Divorce, Life Lessons, Marriage, Relationships and Family

26 Ways to Contribute to a Ruined Marriage

Like I mentioned in a previous post, because it is both Father’s Day AND our wedding anniversary, I thought I would share with you a list of things I jotted down the other night when I couldn’t go to sleep.

Folks, there are a lot of resources out there meant to help your marriage to succeed. However, not a lot of them specifically deal with things that can ruin your marriage. So, after 23 years of everything from marital bliss to marital warfare, I can speak with authority about the following items.

Why 26? Because that’s where I decided to stop. Each one of these could be expanded upon and sub-pointed.

26 Ways to Contribute to a Ruined Marriage (in no particular order)

  1. Never pray together as a couple.
  2. Think about yourself more than your spouse.
  3. Believe that what matters most is your personal happiness.
  4. Never pray for each other.
  5. Pursuing your own interests while ignoring those of your spouse.
  6. Saying negative things about your spouse to other people (especially those of the opposite sex).
  7. Having a “Plan B.”
  8. Spending all your time, energy, and money on your kids.
  9. Avoiding sexual intimacy.
  10. Pornography (soft sore, hard core, in print, in video, in literature – doesn’t matter).
  11. Flirting with others.
  12. Arguing and/or fighting, but with the sole objectives being to win or hurt the other.
  13. Materialism.
  14. Complacency.
  15. Bitterness.
  16. Not putting God first.
  17. Using each other.
  18. Lack of trust.
  19. Lack of, or poor communication.
  20. Baggage not dealt with.
  21. Running to Mother.
  22. Lack of leadership (for men).
  23. Lack of submission (for women).
  24. Too many single friends.
  25. Fear of / intimidated by your children.
  26. Pride.

Honestly, any one of the above items could lead to disaster, but what about when several of them are in play? The Enemy would love nothing better than to see your marriage fall to pieces or be nothing more than an empty shell.

Start over and give your relationships to God. He can rescue you, heal you, and restore you – but only if you will let Him.

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Filed under Marriage, Struggles and Trials

Happy Fox Is Leaving

If you have lived for any amount of time, like most of you surely have, I’m positive there’s been a time or two when the air was knocked out of you by some bad news.

Think of something you’ve experienced – not so bad as the death of a loved one, though, – and you’ll understand how I feel right now.

Names

The first thing you need to know is that I name children on my school bus. If that sounds strange, the reason is because sometimes I can’t remember their parent-given names, especially early on in the school year. Therefore, I give them a name in the same way my Native American ancestors did; I name them based on something I see.

For example, one girl is tall and thin as a stick, so I call her Sticky. There’s a boy who always runs from his house to the bus, so I call him Runny Boy. Flower Girl lives on a street called Magnolia. Flower Girl’s little sister, a 5th grader who started riding my bus in Kindergarten, blew bubbles on the bus, so… her name is Bubbles, a name which she fiercely defends (she’ll go by that name in college one day).

Another little girl started riding my bus four years ago, I believe. The thing that set her apart from every other child on my bus was her smile – it was constant and predictable. So, when she started riding my bus it was cooler weather, therefore she always wore a hat that looked like a fox head (with ears and all). That’s when I started calling her Happy Fox.

The Notification

This afternoon, as I was standing in the big room where all the children come to sit in their designated areas, each one with a sign that displays the number of the bus they will ride, Happy Fox walked up to me with only half a smile.

“I’m gonna be leaving you,” she said with an uncharacteristically somber tone.

“What? You’re gonna be leaving me?” I asked jokingly.

“Yeah,” she said, “I’m not going to be riding with you anymore.”

A little shocked, I replied, “Really? Why not?”

With an brave little attitude that some kids have – the kind that care about the feelings of others and don’t really expect your sympathy – she explained, “Yeah, well, my mom and dad are breaking up, and I’ve got to go live with my dad…so I won’t be riding anymore after Friday, I think.”

That.  Hurt.  On.  So.  Many.  Levels!!

The Others

Here’s the thing: God hates divorce! You want to know why? Well, besides the fact that it is the opposite of what God wants, which is a picture of faithfulness that mirrors His faithfulness to us, it hurts a LOT of people, especially the children!! …¬†And the bus drivers!!!

Too often couples will separate for the most petty of reasons. Others break up for good reasons, but the reasons were preventable. Nevertheless, no matter the reason, there are very few of them that are insurmountable, should the offended couple think of others besides themselves.

Today was a good example of the ripple effects divorces have. Sure, some couple thinks their lives are going to be better now that they don’t live with each other, but children are going to suffer; future families are going to suffer; risks for many bad things are going to go up; and even people like me are going to cry, get in an ill mood, bite the heads off their own families, and write depressing blog posts at the end of the day.

I just pray that Happy Fox can keep that smile.

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Filed under Defending Traditional Marriage, Depression, Divorce, Parenting, Relationships and Family

A Transformed Marriage

The Truth Hurts

I’ll never forget what happened in the winter of 2014. Christmas was only two weeks away, and I had been working hard getting ready for our church play. My husband had just lost his job, and we both were stressed to the max. We got in an argument over something simple, but it was enough to bring the truth out of his mouth. He said, “I want a separation! We don’t make each other happy anymore, and I just want to be happy.”

I was shocked. I knew our marriage had been on a roller coaster for years, but after attending a marriage conference a few months prior, I was taking baby steps to becoming a better wife. I agreed to the separation, and within a couple of weeks, I had an apartment picked out.

The Transformation

On December 29, 2014, I got a phone call from a lady inviting me to come sign the lease to my new apartment. At first I was excited, but then I began to cry.¬†As I sit in¬†my car at work, I began¬†praying to God. I said, “Lord, I know divorce cannot be your plan for my life. I only want to do your will. Please show me what to do.”

Immediately, God put it in my spirit to ask my husband one last time if he really wanted me to leave. He said no, and then admitted to having an affair with a woman he met online. I knew that if I wanted to save my marriage, I had to allow God to transform me into the wife He called me to be, according to His word. So I begged God to forgive me for all my failures as a wife, and to show me a better way.

Although my husband was clearly living in sin, I was more worried about the changes I needed to make.¬†I committed that day to doing whatever it would take for restoration. My husband ended his affair, and we starting forming new, healthy habits.¬†We stayed up late¬†most¬†evenings¬†spending quality time together,¬†we¬†planned weekly date nights, we¬†wrote¬†each other love letters and sweet text messages,¬†begin praying¬†together, and sleeping in the same bad every night. At first it was awkward, but then it just became the normal. Our marriage was not only restored, but it’s better now than it ever was before.

From Pain to Purpose

imageMy husband and¬†I both have endured a lot of pain in the eight and half years we’ve been married. We’ve faced trials and overcome obstacles we never thought we would. But now we’re beginning to see the big picture. God allowed us to go through some things, so that He could use us to help others.

Now we are¬†very passionate about teaching others God’s design for marriage. We teach a marriage class weekly at our church, I have a personal blog, and we just hosted our first marriage conference.

If you would like more information about our ministry, please check out my website www.transformedwife.com You can also follow me at facebook.com/transformedwife

 

 

 

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Honey Maid Fatalism?

Yesterday evening, just before I was about to head on over to the church, my wife saw a commercial on the television she had on while she was doing taxes for a client. She said, “Did you hear what that commercial just said?”

“No, what commercial?”

OK, before I go any further, before any of you get too judgmental, my wife is an accountant and this is income tax season – she barely has time for sleep and is doing tax work every available minute. Therefore, even up to 30 minutes before time to leave for evening services at church, my wife – the pastor’s wife – was still sitting in front of two computer screens and listening to a television for background noise.¬†

“There was a commercial from Honey Maid (they make graham crackers),” she said. “Here, I’ll just rewind it…watch this…”

Evidently this commercial is not new, but would anyone with any sense like to explain to me what I just watched? Does this not in any way concern any of you? What in the world does it mean when you say, “What makes us wholesome never will”?

Some of you (you know who you are) don’t understand why this commercial upsets me. After all, it’s only a reflection of the pagan, post-Christian culture in which we live, right? “It is what it is,” some might say, “so just move on.” But this commercial DOES anger me! As a matter of fact, it does more than anger me – in breaks my heart. Let me tell you why.

First, it condones divorce, even going so far as to making it a positive for the children involved. In the first few words we hear a father say how that he never thought he’s get a divorce, but now he sees it as just that many more people to love the kids. Really? That’s akin to stating, “Hey, divorce ain’t that bad, just look at how happy the kids are!”

Second, it promotes brokenness. Yes, I said it “promotes” it. Even though this commercial is linked to a larger advertising campaign,¬†#NotBroken, that aspires to celebrate the diverse landscape of the modern family unit, it’s actually celebrating¬†brokenness as an inherent virtue. There is nothing in this commercial that promotes wholeness, is there? There’s nothing in this commercial that calls for the support of intact, nuclear families, is there? No, only the celebration that families come in all shapes, sizes, colors, AND sexual orientations.

Third, it’s fatalistic and hopeless. The money quote from the commercial is, “What makes us wholesome never will.” In other words, whatever it was that we as a culture ever thought was normal and healthy, forget it – we will never be “wholesome,” for there is no such thing…except for Honey Maid crackers.

But, supposedly, this is our culture.¬†Mondelez International senior marketing director Gary Osifchin said of their add campaign, “[W]e‚Äôre holding a mirror up to America and celebrating all-American families. We‚Äôre on a journey here where we are very much showing America who they are. … It‚Äôs reality.[Source] Maybe so, but it’s not by God’s design.

We’ve given up on promoting nuclear families; now we’re celebrating the pieces left over from a nuclear blast, and supposedly the kids are happier for it.

 

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Filed under America, Culture Wars, Defending Traditional Marriage, Defining Marriage, Divorce, Parenting, Relationships and Family, World View

Re-Examining the Divorce Controversy

Recently, I have been asked about the issue of divorce and whether or not it ultimately disqualifies one from ministry, especially the pastorate. Even though I know there will be many of you who disagree with me on this, here are my thoughts on the subject. Please understand that I did not come by them lightly.

My Story

I will never forget the phone call I got from a church in Rome, GA about 16 years ago. Someone on the other end of the line was part of a search committee looking for a new pastor. ¬†They had gotten my resume and were impressed enough to give me a call. ¬†Everything was going well until they asked a very pointed question, “Bro. Anthony, does your wife have a spouse that is still living?” ¬†I responded coldly, with squinted eyes and through clinched-teeth, “Yes,¬†ME.” ¬†Unfortunately, this would not be the last time something like that happened.

What I encountered on the telephone that day was not unusual, nor unexpected, but it stung, nevertheless. I had chosen to marry a woman who had been divorced and it cost me. But even though our (then) pastor told me marrying Valerie would “put the final nail in the coffin” of my ministry hopes,¬†I was aware the scripture (1 Tim. 3:2) being used against me was lacking in exposition, and it was ultimately up to God whether or not I pastored a church. ¬†So, after much study, I felt peace that what I was doing was right (but it didn’t hurt when the late Dr. Spiros Zodhiates¬†gave us his approval).

But let me be clear about a few things…

wedding picture fourFirst, ¬†I have never been divorced, so for me the whole argument of 1 Timothy 3:2 should be moot. ¬†Second, my wife was left with no choice but to divorce; furthermore, it happened before she was a believer. ¬†Third, my wife’s ex-husband remarried and divorced again before I even met her. By all accounts my wife was free to remarry, so both she and I were clear from any “adultery” issues. ¬†

Also, I am “the husband of one wife,” and Scripture NEVER said a bishop “must be the husband of one wife who was the wife of only one husband, ever.” Just a minor observation.

So, what DOES the Bible say?

1 Timothy 3:2 says, ¬†“A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife...” ¬†Also, verse 12 says, “Let the deacons be the husbands of one wife...” ¬†The difficulty with these verses is not what is being said, but how it is¬†interpreted. ¬†

Is Paul telling Timothy that in order to be a pastor, deacon, or elder in a church, you must have only been married once?  Could it even be possible that Paul is saying that a man of God MUST have a wife, because being single would disqualify one from ministry?  These are things that have been debated for centuries.  

Some believe that a pastor, deacon, or elder should have never been divorced (or married to a¬†divorcee) . Others believe that in order to be a proper leader, one must be married. ¬†Still, many commentators believe that the proper rendering of the Greek is “one-woman man,” implying faithfulness and character over the number of wives. ¬†In reality, what the Bible says is one thing, but as William D. Mounce put it, “The Greek gives us a range of possibilities, but our theology is going to determine our interpretation.”¬†

I think there’s another way to look at it…

Take a look at 1 Timothy 3 and read through verse 12. ¬†The best I can figure is that there are between 16 and 17 qualifications for the bishop, and between 6 and 8 for the deacons. ¬†All of these are preceded with a literal or an implied “must be,” as in “must be blameless,” or a “must have.” ¬†How does this affect the argument that an elder “must have” only been married once, never remarried, or never divorced? ¬† ¬†

Think of any great man of God you know that has stood behind the pulpit and faithfully proclaimed the Word of God. ¬†Has he always been blameless? ¬†Has he always been on his best behavior? ¬†Did he ever get drunk, covet, lose his patience, or curse his wife or children in anger? ¬†Was he ever a novice, a beginner subject to pride? If so, then according to the logic of some, he should never be able to preach or lead in God’s church, for just as a man “must be the husband of one wife,” so he also must be “blameless, vigilant, sober, well-behaved, given to hospitality, patient, never greedy, and always in control of his house and children.” ¬†

Do you see it? ¬†If your interpretation leads you to believe that the bishop must have only had one wife – ever – then the same hermeneutic (the study of the principles of interpretation)¬†should apply to the other “must be’s.” ¬†“Must be the husband of one wife” = never divorced. ¬†“Not a novice” = never been a beginner in the faith. Doesn’t make sense, does it?

1 Timothy 3:1-12 is in the present infinitive tense (i.e., must be / dei einai). ¬†The requirements listed are ones that describe a man of character and faithfulness, of sobriety and gravitas; not a beginner or one untried and unproven. ¬†What I see is a list of requirements that may not have always been present in a man, but should be NOW, after God has done a verifiable work in his life. ¬†In other words, the Bible says a bishop “must be,” not “must have always been,” or “must have never done.” ¬†Paul said, “and such were some of you: ¬†but ye were washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.” – 1 Corinthians 6:11

Here’s my point…

I believe that there are plenty who are sitting back or hiding out because someone has convinced them that they are used up and un-usable.  For example, I can think of men right now who, for whatever reason, are divorced.  Yet, these men, now Christians, are sold-out, God-fearing, faithful, Spirit-filled fathers and husbands with proven testimonies and unimpeachable character.  Sadly, however, because of mistakes made when they were young, unsaved, and stupid, they cannot serve as deacons, much less as pastors.  

On the other hand, I can think of several pastors today who were once murderers, drug dealers, fornicators, extortioners, and abusers of mankind (do I need to explain that last one?). Yet, only because they don’t have “divorced” to add to the list of past sins, they are accepted and given full reign as leaders in the church.¬†

Sad.

It’s time the body of Christ re-examine this issue in the light of GRACE.

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Filed under baptist, Divorce, General Observations, Independent Baptist, legalism, Relationships and Family, Uncategorized