Can two born again Christians be married, know it is not God’s will for them to get divorced, YET be divorced in the HEART? They sure can, because I experienced it firsthand. Divorce in the heart is a growing epidemic among Christian believers, (not to mention unbelievers), and it is one of Satan’s most effective tactics to rob husbands and wives of the joy that Jesus Christ desires for them to have, and the children of those parents, if children are involved.
The painful story I’m about to share is one I could very easily leave buried. Yet I’m going to share it for one primary reason . . . TO EXPOSE SATAN FOR WHO HE IS . . . WITH MY TRUST IN JESUS THAT HE WILL COMMISSION THE HOLY SPIRIT TO USE IT TO REVEAL SATAN’S RELENTLESS, RUTHLESS PLOY TO DAMAGE AND DESTROY CHRISTIAN MARRIAGES.
Perhaps YOUR marriage right now is at a place where your love for your spouse has grown so cold that if a semi-truck ran over your spouse at high speed, you would feel more sorry for the truck driver than your spouse who is now deceased! If this happens to be where you are with your spouse, then please take the time to read what I’ll be sharing with you,
BECAUSE you need to know that an ‘unseen divorce lawyer’ is already hard at work with your case. Satan has assigned him to you and your spouse, free of charge of course, to deposit HARDNESS in your heart that is designed to not only topple your marriage, but a greater victory than even THAT … to cause your love for Jesus, and your desire to reach out to others with His love and the Gospel message of eternal salvation, to grow dimmer and more distant.
I do hope you have read Kathleen’s side of this painful story. If not, please do so, because we are writing from two totally different perspectives, yet with the same purpose in mind. I question that one could receive all that God would want someone to get out of my story alone without also reading hers.
To help you understand where I’m going to go with this story, I think it would be helpful for you to know a bit about some of my inner-makeup. Let’s pretend you are the psychiatrist, and I’m the guy lying on the couch, okay?
“Doc …from the earliest of my childhood”
“Doc . . . from the earliest of my childhood, I knew I was different than most others my age. I sense that I have a great purpose in life to accomplish. I don’t have the foggiest idea what that PURPOSE is, but I know I have to find it with everything in my being and pursue it to the fullest, otherwise I will be one of the most miserable people walking around this planet that has ever walked it.”
I learned early in life that I was not going to be a Michael Jordan, therefore I would not be a well-respected athlete that youth would be inspired by. I learned a little later in life that being a career soldier was not my purpose either. If fighting in wars like Vietnam were to be my profession, I would rather become a drug pusher and help kill people THAT WAY and make some BIG money rather than kill innocent people in the name of “war” and always be broke.
I learned quickly that marriage was not going to fill the hole inside me either. Marriage was fulfilling but not a means to an end . . . at least the END that I had inside of me. Having children and being a successful father was not my eternal purpose in and of itself either. Something MORE had to be out there to fill the big hole inside of me. But WHAT was it?
Holding down a good paying job with good benefits wasn’t it, because I had a job like that (well, sort of) and I knew that wasn’t the trail I was to walk along either.
Perhaps what I needed was a PROJECT? A project so impossible to attain that I would die happy trying to attain it? [Ladies – to get grace from God to continue reading this crazy story, let me see if God will use me to help you GET some of that grace. To cope with men, you have to realize THIS about men: ALL men are mentally retarded. Some are just more mentally retarded than others. There . . . now does that help?]
INSPIRATION must find an outlet, as each of us must find OUR purpose in life. One day “inspiration” landed on me like a ton of bricks! I would write a minimum 10-book series! This fictional book series would center on a mysterious character called DIRTY ERNIE. The theme of the series would be THIS: Dirty Ernie has spent a lifetime digging secret tunnels all over the world, and no one knows WHY . . . (except ME of course. If you bought all 10 copies of my book series, I MIGHT tell you the secret in the 10th book WHY Ernie dug all those secret tunnels, and then again . . . maybe I wouldn’t. It would all depend on how I felt about it by the 10th book!
Seriously . . . it would become my own business. It would give me a channel to express the creativity I had inside of me . . . it would make more money than our family would ever need if all went well . . . and it would enable OTHER WRITERS to have an opportunity to write books about Dirty Ernie involving areas of interest they enjoyed writing about.
This wouldn’t be just MY writing project, but it would be a TEAM writing project. A staff of well-paid writers and I would have a cartoon series, movies that Steven Spielberg helped produce, Dirty Ernie dolls in fast-food restaurants that would replace Ronald McDonald, and one day Dirty Ernie would be smiling at you on your computer monitor everytime you signed onto the Internet. Dirty Ernie would be everyone’s hero . . . yet no one would really know WHY, other than you just couldn’t help liking the little guy.
Was Ernie pornographic? ABSURD! He simply was dirty because all he ever did was dig secret tunnels. (You would be dirty TOO if that’s all you ever did).
I couldn’t interest a publisher to publish my first book of the series, so I stubbornly decided to borrow the money from the bank and publish the book myself, which I did, much against my first wife’s wishes. (I couldn’t blame her. That money should have gone toward a down payment on our first house, which I never bought for her, sad to say.)
Working a full-time job with lot’s of overtime, trying to be a husband and father, trying to market the first book of the series, trying to write the second book of the series, try to go golfing, fishing and hunting every chance I got . . . well – one might go ahead and agree that “I was a good wad short of a full roll of toilet paper.”
At this juncture of this story, it might be helpful for you to read my born again testimony of how God invaded this insanity I was living, (which can be found on our ministry web page under the Born Again Testimonies section) and how a personal relationship with the Creator of the universe was the ONLY purpose HE had in mind for me . . . at least up to that time.
Upon surrendering to the Lordship of Jesus Christ, I was then faced with a major decision. ‘What was I to do, Lord, about Dirty Ernie? Convert him to “Saint” Dirty Ernie, or just plain “Saint” Ernie? I was in debt up to my neck in my now divorced state, and I needed to be freed up to grow in knowledge of God’s Word and whatever else He expected of me after that.
Many of my well-meaning Christian friends felt I should continue with Ernie. Others weren’t so convinced, yet wanting to spare my feelings, they remained mostly neutral about the issue. The time came when I realized that I was going to have to hear plainly from God and God alone . . . yet HOW was I to go about accomplishing THAT?
I decided to go on a 7-day water fast only, with ONE purpose in mind: to hear what God might communicate to me about the whole issue.
Four nights into the fast I believe God spoke to me while I was sleeping. In a dream, I was sitting all alone in a big movie theater. God spoke clearly out of the speakers, telling me that I could ask Him anything I wanted.
“What should I do about the Ernie project?”
My first and ONLY question was: “Lord, what should I do about the Ernie project? Should I continue with it, modify it, or WHAT?”
What was so precious to me was the gentleness in which He answered. “You know, Norm, if the project was somewhat modified, I could use it to touch some lost souls. And I’ll honor that if that’s what you want to do with the rest of your life. But if you REALLY want to know what my PERFECT will for the rest of your life is beyond growing in your personal relationship with Me . . . it would be to publish true-life stories of Christians instead of stories about a fictional character. Give Christians an opportunity . . . give them a platform every way you know how . . . to share what I have done for them, and I will use what they share to keep more souls from going to hell than what the Ernie project could ever possibly accomplish.”
Mission accomplished! I had heard from THE SUPREME PURPOSE GIVER. But the path to that purpose got rocky quickly. Three days later Satan was successful at stealing the word God had delivered to me, because I was totally ignorant of the power God has allowed Satan YET to have in thwarting God’s purposes here on earth and in each of our lives as born again Christians. I naively “assumed” that because Jesus whipped Satan at the cross, Satan just now roars loud, with no real power anymore. How DECEIVED and BLINDED Satan had me!
Nine frustrating months later from the night God spoke so powerfully to me about doing these true life stories (or in essence they would be called testimonies) . . . I repented to God about not putting the Ernie project on the ‘altar of oblivion,’ and said, ‘Okay, Lord, I’m ready to start publishing these testimonies, but how do I go about starting this?’
By this time in my life God had given me a second chance at marriage, at least that was what I “nervously” believed. Before agreeing to marry Kathleen, I tried to communicate to her with the best of my ability that I wasn’t your NORMAL Christian.
My whole life all I had ever wanted was a boy and a girl, in THAT order. Not one child nor three or more: just TWO. (I had incredibly been granted my heart’s desire with my first wife. She too only wanted two children when we first married, so we had been compatible in that arena). So entering into marriage number two, I told Kathleen confidently that there would be no children of our own if we got married. Could she handle that? She said she could, because she had never desired children of her own, so no problem there.
I told her that God had a call on my life to reach lost souls for Jesus via the vehicle of testimonies, and would she support that call in every way possible to do all we could together as a team to reach as many lost souls as we could during the rest of our lives, as God opened doors? She found the challenge very exciting, and gladly agreed.
Totally Blinded To Her Need
In my absolute and total ignorance of the needs that God places in most women at birth for the God-given desire to birth and nurture children, I forced Kathleen to bury that priceless God-given desire even more than ever so she would passionately and unreservedly channel all her energies and talents on the call God had for us, before I would consent to marry her. I believed that she knew her heart well enough at that stage in her life about what she wanted and didn’t want, in other words.
To this day, many years later, regarding the issue of children, I bare my soul with great vulnerability and pain. I would have given just about ANYTHING for Kathleen to be my FIRST wife, and she could have been the mother of the boy and girl God entrusted to me. And, if you could ask my first wife her feelings on the matter, I would have to assume she would MUCH rather have had the father of those same two children to have been the husband she’s NOW married to, her second husband (a wonderful man, I might add). If you were to ask our two precious children what THEY would have desired, I think they would rather have preferred to see God do an impossible miracle and never have seen our marriage come apart in the first place, which would have been GOD’S desire too, I have to believe.
But moving on . . . SATAN has NEVER been blinded to the needs God places in each of us. He knows my wife’s’ EVERY need . . . her EVERY vulnerability . . . her EVERY weakness. Sixteen years of being born again as of this writing, I believe he has diligently worked overtime at exploiting every one of those God-given needs to his fullest. Satan also knows MY every need, and my EVERY vulnerability. He has, and continues to exploit them every second of my existence, and will continue to do so until I’m released to heaven. It’s his job, and I give him an A+ in his persistence, wisdom, and cunningness.
Yet Satan doesn’t have the FINAL SAY in my life. Jesus Christ is the author and finisher of my faith, because it HAS BEEN WRITTEN AND ENGRAVED IN THE LAW BOOK OF HEAVEN. Satan is my adversary, and a formidable one at that, but the power he has been given over me and you is ONLY designed to remind you and I that the One who gave him that power in the first place was Jesus Christ, and that anytime I get mad enough at the devil instead of GOD for ‘all hell breaking loose in my life,’ all I have to do is go to THE SUPREME POWER SOURCE, whose name is Jesus, and ask Him for the wisdom to stop Satan’s influence in my particular situation.
Truly – one monotonous yawn from Jesus as He turns to the Father and says: “Should we remind Satan again of just how much power he’s YET to see We have at Our disposal to put him in his place? Norm is crying out to Me again to get Satan out of his situation. Shall we stop Satan’s plan for him from bearing fruit as we do in EVERY person who will call on Us for help?”
“Sick’m , Son!” . . . can’t you hear the Father gladly reply!? Yep – that’s my DAD!
Moving forward several years: As Kathleen shares so beautifully from her side of the story, because earthly children apparently was not to be her experience, investing her energies and time and talents in the local church we were in is what seemed to be the wisest pursuit she could possibly imagine.
Yet that was not my need nor my grace, I grew to discover in time, and NOT being able to provide tangible, believable proof to everyone who knew us that I was OUT of my call and God’s purpose for my life . . . I was dying inside. I was dying to the desire to do ministry of all kinds … becoming cynical and bitter at everything going on in virtually EVERY local church. My energies and giftings and time being invested in the local church was being channeled into the VERY NECESSARY call of others…yet not the one God had chosen for ME. My call was to be used of God to get those who aren’t born again Christians outside “the church” to get born again and in a place where they could get “discipled” or taught from the Word of God, equipped to fulfill the purpose God has for THEM . . . to help OTHERS find the purpose God has for each of them — continuing full-circle . . . and a wife to support me in that purpose.
But the day came when we were fully divided in ministry PURPOSE and call. Satan had me believing she didn’t know how to hear from God anymore about His will for our lives, and had her believing that I couldn’t hear God anymore about His will for our lives. Thus – we were at a critical standoff.
Anything a husband and wife disagree on can be a door they can open to Satan to gain a foothold in their marriage if they don’t use great wisdom in resolving that conflict as soon as possible.
Please allow me to interject THIS right now before moving on. Satan doesn’t care WHAT he uses to divide you (and he has some ways to do so that many of us could have never imagined, until it’s oftentimes too late to do anything about it). His objective is simply to keep you divided. Pursuit of ministry in two different directions works just as well as falling “in love with another person.” Ongoing strife and contention gives him the legal right to invade your marriage, and I promise you he won’t pass up ONE OPPORTUNITY to drive the wedge between husband and wife deeper and deeper, until divorce or indefinite separation has been accomplished.
My first wife did not have grace from God to support me in what I felt was my purpose at that time of our lives. Now many years later, I felt my second wife did not have grace either to support the purpose God had for me, not that it wasn’t available. She seemed to me to be totally content to pursue a different purpose in ministry, and try as hard as I knew how to walk that path with her . . . I knew God’s grace for me was not being given.
Ladies … let me painfully say, that when your husband begins to believe those thoughts inside himself, thoughts that say she believes SHE’s the only one capable of hearing correctly from God and HE isn’t . . . whether that be true or not . . . your husband becomes putty in Satan’s hands until God shows up on the scene, providing your husband will ALLOW God to show up on the scene. (I realize this is probably the most painful part of all, if your husband is resisting calling on God for help — so locked into possible selfishness and/or perhaps so much pain inside his heart that he sees no need to seek God for help — probably because his confidence in God to change things has been so destroyed that NOW he has to take matters into his own hands, because God evidently can’t be bothered with such trivial, earthly matters. Satan has been given that much power, if we grant it to him, either willfully, or in our ignorance. Satan had ME in that place, but I KNEW he was doing it. I just felt incapable of seeing God do anything about it).
On a fateful Thursday night I went to God asking Him to speak to me in a dream if He would and give me some hope that deliverance was ever going to come in the ‘unfulfilling insane world of marriage’ we had been experiencing for so long. I knew that if God didn’t somehow intervene soon, I was going to leave the marriage and never pursue trying to put it back together again. Either God would change the godly woman I had first met and believed was committed to walking the initial path God had given me to share with her — who would stand by me sometimes in absolute blind faith as Sarah had to do with Abraham as he wandered around ‘foolishly’ in the desert looking for the city that she undoubtedly was convinced they would never find — along the path I would die for and have to give an account to God one day for pursuing, especially if it was the WRONG one. Or I would let her pursue her own spiritual journey alone. When there is internal pain that never leaves after all one has done to ask God to remove it, the day usually comes when it becomes too painful to keep trusting for that deliverance of that pain to be removed. I was critically close to that point, and I knew it.
How critical REALLY was the marriage? When a person of the opposite sex is willing to listen and offer sympathy with kindness to your struggle regarding your spouse, you had better KNOW that it’s just a short matter of time that Satan will have a “well-meaning Christian” if need be — to put their hand on your shoulder and say, “You know, if I was married to you, I sure wouldn’t treat you that way. I would support your ministry call every way I could.” When you have two or three people willing to speak those “magic words,” honey-child, I’m telling you, the devil is wearing your favorite color of lipstick and the most fragrant of perfumes. Leave the rest to your imagination . . .”
I asked God for a dream that night. In the wee hours of the morning I awoke in a sweat and shock from the most perverted sexual dream I have ever had! I mustered up enough strength to crawl out of bed and get down on my knees and say these words to God:
“God, I asked you with everything left in my being for a dream of hope from you. Now you’ve let Satan invade one more time and give me this sick dream. How much more are you asking me to take?”
I really didn’t expect an answer. That’s how despondent I truly was. Some moments went by, then a silent voice floated through my tired brain. ‘What makes you think that dream was from Satan?’
“Lord – HOW could that dream come from YOU?! That was the sickest, most perverted dream I could possibly imagine ANYONE having. How could a Holy God inspire a dream in ANY human being of such perversion?”
“I DID inspire that dream. I wanted it to be as graphic as it was so you would get the full comprehension of what is going on in your marriage. There is such SPIRITUAL perversion going on in your marriage, that if you don’t leave that church NOW, I will NOT be able to save your marriage.”
Needless to say I kneeled there in shock. “But Lord, you know my wife WON’T leave that church. She believes with everything in her being that’s where you want her to be used. Our marriage will ABSOLUTELY COME APART if I leave, and you know that.”
“Trust me and I’ll bring it about. Stay closely in touch with Me, and I’ll cause it to happen soon.”
It goes beyond what words can adequately explain how much hope and joy filled my soul after that. Three days later the local church leadership met, and I was voted to be removed from a leadership position. It was the right thing for them to do, but what they weren’t prepared to hear was that I said WE would also be leaving the church soon, because God had said that if we didn’t, He wasn’t going to be able to save our marriage.”
How the whole scene unfolded was so terribly ugly and painful for Kathleen that she had to get away from me which I couldn’t blame her for. Shortly days after that painful day of our leaving the local church we were so involved with, Kathleen decided in her heart that she could not handle the emotional abuse she had received and was still receiving from me and felt she had to get “away” from me. I came home one day after work only to find that she had left me. She left a note saying she did not know where she was going and did not know if she was ever coming back. I had no idea of where she was or what she was going to do.
The second night of her being gone, which was a Monday night, I came home from work to an empty house. It felt a little strange, and I began to wonder if Kathleen would EVER come back home to me. I prayed a token prayer to God for Him to watch over her and protect her, and basically went to bed and slept really quite well for the first time that I could remember in months.
The following night I came home to an empty house again, with no word from her. I cooked a favorite meal, cleaned up the dishes, did a little vacuuming . . . and began to think about the future. Hey – this isn’t so bad. I could EASILY fend for myself. Who really needs her anyway? We haven’t had sexual intimacy for so long that I’ve learned to live without that. What is left other than cooking meals, doing my own laundry, and cleaning house now and then? I got the real-good warm fuzzies way down deep all the way to my toes, as I thought those thoughts.
I went to bed thinking . . . I don’t care if she EVER comes back, Lord. She belongs to You, and she’s so confident that she’s hearing from You . . .then let You and her go it alone from here on out, okay?
“Get up and pray for a miracle”
I fell asleep, very peacefully. About an hour later I suddenly awoke and heard a loud voice inside my head say: ‘You NEED to get up and pray for a miracle.’
I knew it was God speaking, but I didn’t have the foggiest clue WHY He wanted me to pray for a miracle. “WHY do you want me to pray for a miracle, Lord?”
“I want you to pray for Me to restore your marriage.”
I thought about that a moment, and confidently answered, “Lord, I don’t really CARE anymore if you restore this marriage.”
“THAT’S the miracle I’m asking You to believe Me to PERFORM. I KNOW you don’t believe I can restore your love and respect for each other. I KNOW you don’t care that your marriage doesn’t work anymore. But if you DON’T ask and TRUST ME to perform this miracle, you completely tie my hands and power in breaking Satan’s hold in both of your lives.
The working of this miracle is not up to Me to get it started first — it’s up to YOU.”
Dear reader, at that moment of time, God could have asked me to go to China to preach the gospel blind with both hands and feet tied behind my back, and I would have gladly said yes. God could have asked me to go to the darkest corners of the basement and eat live cockroaches, and I gladly would have obliged. God could have asked me to waltz into hell and attempt to whip the devil single handedly . . . but what God was asking me to do at that moment was harder than going to Nineveh. Escape in a whale’s belly would have been utopia! God asked me to believe Him to restore my love to someone who in my mind had taken the call of God He had called me to and willingly handed it to the devil with a smile and paid him a dollar tip in gratitude.
A Garden of Gethsemane experience was unfolding as I began to ‘sweat in the spirit!’ By God’s grace and God’s grace alone; by the help of the Holy Spirit and I’m sure by more angels than Monica and Tess (stars of “Touched by an Angel” TV series) could possibly count . . . I did the MOST PAINFUL THING I believe I’ve ever had to do. I asked God for the GRACE to ASK Him for the ABILITY to ask Him for the MIRACLE He was asking ME to ask of HIM.
Then I heard God say, “In your weakness, My strength is made perfect. Are you WEAK enough in and of yourself to let MY strength accomplish this task?”
Humbled to have to admit it . . . somehow I mealy-mouthed a wimpy “Yes.” (Some great spiritual head Kathleen HAS for a husband, right ladies?).
The devil started trembling at that precise moment! The battle was about to be over and he knew it, though I didn’t realize how HARD he would keep hammering away at me. I say this, because upon being exhausted, I went back to bed to try to get some much-needed sleep. Sometime after that, in between exhaustion and nothingness . . . I heard a voice speak very loudly and well pronounced: ‘If you’ll quit doing testimonies, I’ll make your marriage work easily.’
I was so tired that I didn’t CARE what had just gone through my mind. When I awoke a few hours later, I had the GREATEST desire I had ever experienced to give up the testimony outreach ministry. Thoughts kept running through my mind, uncontrollably all day long . . . why NOT give up those stupid testimonies? All they’ve done is cause problems in your marriage from day one anyway. Why don’t you just go to church like so many others do, put your money in the plate when it goes by, sing a few songs to Jesus and keep your mouth shut otherwise? Quit making such a big deal out of those stupid testimonies. If you would just trash them, God would SURELY give you something more FUN to do, wouldn’t He?
Basically, by the end of the day, testimonies were HISTORY in my mind. I was so excited about what God had done the hours before regarding my marriage that I couldn’t be hassled with “testimonies” and “ministry.”
That evening I got a call from Kathleen. She asked if I would like her to come home. I gladly encouraged her to do so, if she wanted. She did. (She said at a later time that she was praying and God told her to call me and ask me if I wanted her to come home).
That night in bed we “got to KNOW one another” as the Old Testament would describe it. God used that priceless intimacy to break something in BOTH of us.”
Yet – we had a long way to go. I knew we had to go to counseling, but by WHOM. She couldn’t trust me to pick a counselor and I couldn’t trust her . . . or should I say neither WANTED to risk it.
THIS much I CONFIDENTLY knew: God KNEW which counselor we needed, and all we had to do was get Him to let us know who it was.
In prayer, I lifted it up to Him. I felt He said this back to me. ‘ DON’T go to a Pastor right now for counseling. Go to an EVANGELIST.’
An EVANGELIST? …I questioned inside myself . . . I don’t KNOW any Evangelist. Billy Graham doesn’t know me from Adam, and He’s the ONLY Evangelist many Pastors would have in their churches anyway (dig-dig: a sore spot at that time that I won’t get into).
Then, in faith, I heard THIS reply: “Trust Me for one.” Duhhh . . . why didn’t I think of THAT? (See gals, that’s my PROOF. All men really ARE retarded. That’s the REAL reason God created you. He knew that man alone would self-destruct. He needed an AUDIENCE down here to watch it happen, and you’re IT, arr-arr. Just trying to lighten up things here a little, ’cause we’re talking about some pretty heavy-duty stuff, wouldn’t you agree?).
God led us to an Evangelist in Holland, Michigan by the name of Dan Roxbury. Dan had felt released from God to give up marriage counseling for some time, but upon my asking Him to pray about it, he tiptoed into the hotbed of our rocky relationship, bless his heart.
In our dialoging with Brother Dan, I heard some things from him as a practicing Evangelist for over 35 years that I had never heard come out of the mouth of a Pastor.
What he shared in confidence brought healing to my much-troubled soul. It had confirmed to me first hand through him that spiritual warfare exists on some very high scale between the local church and those called into outreach ministries. I also came to realize that the spiritual warfare going on in MY marriage was quite similar to the spiritual warfare many other couples have experienced as they moved out into areas of outreach that doesn’t center entirely around the weekly functions of the local church.
In due time, I’m sure Dan was glad to be relieved of his responsibility of counseling us, because we both had a lot of poison stored up in our hearts.
Over time, it took a lot more prayer, counseling, books, and some key sermons tossed in, to restore the marriage to where it is today.
A few months after we had started counseling, and it didn’t appear that much progress was being made in several different areas, I grew slowly despondent again with the whole ordeal, and basically got very cold and snippy constantly when I was around Kathleen.
“You can be married but divorced in your heart toward each other”
My precious sister and brother-in-law, Flora and Jerry Cheadle, met us on a two week vacation in Cancun, Mexico. My wife and I were at each other’s throats the whole time we should have been enjoying ourselves, and on the last day of the vacation, my sister said something to me that I had never heard before: “You know, Norm, it’s possible for two born again Christians to be married on paper only, but be DIVORCED IN THEIR HEART’S TOWARD ONE ANOTHER. In fact, because some Christians KNOW that the word ‘divorce’ is not even to be in our vocabulary, simply because divorce is not to be an option for two born again Christians who truly want God glorified in their marriage . . . it’s totally possible to let Satan grant you a divorce of the heart and exist the rest of your lives in a hardened state toward one another and never realizing it, all the while living in the same household.”
Owwwh . . . she nailed a fact I had never heard about, and I was as guilty as a person could be. So was Kathleen. We were both holding on to some bitterness that needed to be let go of, but had been in denial to. Bitterness is a “spiritual cancer” that invites strife and contention into the relationship, two of Satan’s most ideal ingredients to keep a couple divided, and the flow of joy from the Holy Spirit cut off.
Would you please allow me to impart these words that I think God wants me to leave with someone reading this: Wives, if your husband believes that God has called Him to reach lost souls for Jesus, please realize God is for EVERY person with a desire like that. A person can never go wrong desiring to be used to reach the lost for Christ, PROVIDING wisdom and balance in all areas of ones life are the constant handrails of support along the path God has you walking down.
Husbands, it is YOUR responsibility to believe God for a miracle when the marriage gets rocky, not leaving it up to your spouse. Once Satan can get YOU to quit believing for ongoing deliverance, knowledge, restoration and healing . . . it makes his job so much easier.
Husbands and wives, Satan IS doing everything he knows how to do NOW to divide your marriage. It’s not ‘MAYBE he is, or maybe he’ll TRY. He emphatically IS the master marriage divider. It is becoming no more difficult for him to break up a marriage of two non-believers, as it is two born again, spirit -filled Christians who are doing “mighty works for Jesus.” The people he is challenged the MOST to work on are mighty men and women of God who are so ‘anointed’ in their own estimations that God would NEVER let Satan touch THEM. Friend, there is a thin line between TRUST and ASSUMPTION and PRESUMPTION in our relationship with God. Assumption and presumption can open the door of pride wide open for Satan to do his evil work, if we’re not careful in learning from God the differences from those two devilish counterfeits and true, humble trust.
Satan’s greatest way to have influence in our marriages is for us to believe he HAS no influence in our “godly’ marriages. As the power of Jesus Christ is perfected in our human weaknesses — when we will acknowledge them, confess them to Him, and ask and trust for His strength to be made perfect through them in accordance with His will . . . so is Satan’s power often perfected (or released) in our weakness. What ‘weakness’ might THAT be, one might ask? Our ignorance that Satan best operates when we DON’T REALIZE God has given him the power to do so.
Wiser words were never said: Never underestimate the power Satan yet has to bring havoc into the lives of Christians. Those who are soberly AWARE of the power he has been given and the WAY HE DECEITFULLY and CUNNINGLY and PATIENTLY operates . . . are the FIRST to be in tune with the Holy Spirit to stop him at his attacks in our lives and send him fleeing before his plans have a chance to begin prospering.
Please heed this warning carefully from 1 Peter: 1:5:8: “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom (what Christian marriage) he may devour.”
At this juncture some Christians start tripping out and believe that I’m giving Satan more ground than what he actually has. My experience is that when you ASSUME Satan is going to attack you and it’s just a matter of time, he usually won’t. He doesn’t like to get exposed and get caught red-handed at his game, especially if you like exposing his tactics to other Christians who need to hear about them. When you let your guard down and stop putting on the armor of God on a consistent basis as Ephesians 6:12 says we’re to do, that’s when he’s about to launch a dart into you that is tipped with a nuclear warhead!
Satan is not to be underestimated, but he’s never to be feared either. Jesus Christ in the born again believer is GREATER in power and authority than any power Satan ever had, or will ever have. And you can be sure of this: God will never allow Satan to exert his power and influence over you to the degree that you are incapable on calling on the name of Jesus Christ to rescue you and deliver you from Satan’s grasp.
A secret ingredient to break Satan’s strongholds in your marriage is to change your confession to your spouse from “I am sorry,” to “I was WRONG,” when it is called for. Saying you are sorry is like putting a Band-Aid on a broken arm, in many cases. Saying you were WRONG brings almost instant healing in more cases than not, when it is called for.
Marriage counseling and seminars and books and tapes are great to learn secrets of keeping Satan out of ones marriage, but digging in deep on your knees and hearing GOD tell you specifically what is needed in a troubled, lean marriage is the WISEST thing any of us can do.
Satan will constantly try to break up Christian marriages. When two Christians are troubled with each other, it immediately begins to rob them of the joy that God desires them to have. They begin to focus on fixing their problems and lose their desire to be used of God to reach out to other hurting people that God has called them to reach.
When Satan is putting a wedge between you and your spouse, remember that it is easier to see God release His power to stop Satan in his tracks when YOU will admit to the wrongdoing instead of accusing your spouse of wrongdoing. If your spouse will covenant with you to do the SAME when you aren’t at each other’s throats, when you’re at peace in the marriage, then when the attack from Satan comes, God can more easily “correct” the guilty party in the marriage, and Satan will desire to flee.
Remember, Satan won’t waste his time on a strong marriage. He’s just not that stupid. He only picks couples who have weaknesses they have carried into those marriages, left unattended and unhealed or weakness that develops after they’ve become married. Kathleen and I had more weaknesses going into the marriage than what we care to admit to ourselves.
When your marriage is under attack or lean, and you just can’t seem to hear from God in what you might be able to do to get the devil out of it, ASK THE WHOLE WORLD TO PRAY FOR THE TWO OF YOU. The prayers of God’s people will move the hand of God to release His power in ways OUR prayers alone sometimes just won’t accomplish. I don’t know about you, but I would love to hear the Father tell Jesus to tell the Holy Spirit to tell born again believers TOO MANY of them are praying to Me. That would be a nice “problem” for Him to have, wouldn’t it?
No matter WHAT your spouse has done to you or God, God can restore your love for your spouse. TO HIM WHO BELIEVES, ALL THINGS ARE POSSIBLE. (Mark 9:23)
If believing God for the impossible to happen to you and your spouse will glorify God somehow, someway . . . consider doing the HARDER thing, instead of the easier thing, instead of bowing out. Your reward in heaven will be much greater.
You already know this, but I’ll repeat it in case someone reading this needs to hear it right now. God NEVER gives His seal of blessing on a spouse who is physically harming the other. Emotional abuse can be subject to interpretation, and qualified counsel should be consulted . . . but emotional abuse that drives one farther and farther from their relationship with Jesus Christ when they themselves are FREE OF SIN can become grounds real quick for God to tell you to GET AWAY from the one abusing you.
Would you treat people in your Church the way you treat your spouse?
God is not for divorce, but He’s neither into indefinite CONTROL, MANIPULATION, or OBLIGATION either. Wives are to respect the POSITION of authority God has given the husband. Yet the husband has to EARN genuine respect for it to mean a whole lot to have a marriage filled with joy, right ladies? (A policeman has my respect when his lights are flashing and he pulls me over, but HOW HE TREATS ME at that point will determine whether or not I’d invite him or her to be my next door neighbor, if you know what I mean.
Wives, your husband can only LOVE you “as Christ LOVES the church” as they comprehend God’s unconditional love He has for THEM. If your husband doesn’t come to realize how much God the Father loves HIM unconditionally, no matter HOW MUCH HE HAS SINNED, IS SINNING NOW, OR WILL SIN IN THE FUTURE . . . your husband will be “loving” you by your performance, totally ill-equipped to love you the way scripture wants us to love our wives.
Please tuck this away if you’ve never heard it: Your spouse can only love you and your children as much as he comprehends God loves HIM. God’s love spoken of in 1 Corinthians Chapter 13 is not PERFORMANCE love, but UNCONDITIONAL love. It’s the kind of love that is based SOLELY on a DECISION . . . not performance … not earning it … not deserving it. It’s a love of grace, totally unmerited and undeserved. God NEVER asks you and I to love someone else as He does in 1 Cor. 13 if He doesn’t love the SAME WAY Himself.
I wish to thank God for the miracle He has performed in our marriage. We thank God for the local church and the MOST VITAL PART it plays in God’s plan of redemption for humankind. Though we do not consider ourselves Evangelists, we both are coming to a fuller understanding of the untapped potential there is in motivating the Body of Christ to utilize testimonies to their fullest extent. Testimonies are not a means to an end . . . but a launching pad to gain the attention of the hearer, so the Holy Spirit has a fertile heart to plant and water seeds of truth in a non-threatening way.
My wife at this present time is being used of God to help in the testimony outreach we’ve been called to in ways I’ve known for YEARS she was capable of giving, yet KNEW Satan was blinding her to it. Almost daily I see her blossoming out into her fullness. Although, there are days when I TOO would like to throw the video camera and this computer in the trash and go minister to people LIVE, one-on-one, I believe we must never underestimate the potential and impact video and the Internet will play as we go to the uttermost parts of the highways and byways as we seek to reach the very last lost soul before Judgment is executed on this planet.
I know a man can never respect his wife the way he is capable of doing when she is following a different path than the one he is prepared to stand before God and give an account for leading himself and his wife and family on. It’s a serious thing to be on a wrong path in God. Yet God is not into letting us be confused for long in letting us ignorantly walk down a wrong path in ministry, if we’re truly seeking to obey His perfect will in our lives.
I know I have not been much like Jesus as I’ve been the head of this marriage to Kathleen. I know it would probably be much easier for her to have another man as her spiritual head, yet my hope and TRUST is that God will never let that happen, as long as I’m alive. My hope is that God uses the struggles Satan has put us through to make his life a worse hell, by seeing God use us to help OTHERS gain victory over Satan in THEIR marriages. This attack that Satan has launched on our marriage is now becoming a very personal issue between him and me. At first I thought my primary call was to be used of God to reach lost souls for Jesus. Now a close secondary call is evolving. I get so much satisfaction exposing Satan and his tactics. He’s robbed us, the Church, of so much joy and blessing that could and should have been ours a long time ago. I just purpose to tell the whole world of his nature and ways, simply because I wish no one has to go through the pain and hardship he put my first wife and children, and Kathleen through.
I thank and praise God for Maggie Confessore and her husband for taking it upon themselves to build a Web Site where people like Kathleen and I can share with others the lessons we have painfully learned in our marriage. It is a ministry much needed. It is a ministry Satan will fight very hard to keep from gaining momentum, because once it does, it will be a ministry that will destroy more strongholds of Satan than what many Christians could fathom. The Confessores’ need ALL of our ongoing prayers for the outreach God is calling them to. Most Christians “can’t be bothered with sharing their blood-and-guts testimonies of how God restored their troubled marriages,” I realize.
Satan has so effectively injected the poison of apathy in Christians that most will simply think to themselves: Let someone else do it. I don’t have the time, or the desire. But for those who WILL come forward with their healing testimonies of restored marriages, I can CONFIDENTLY say THIS: Their reward will be greater in eternity than anything they can possibly imagine in THIS lifetime, if they will do so. Anyone can stay silent about the healing testimony God did in his or her marriage. That’s so easy to do. PEOPLE WHO TRULY LOVE WILL FIND NO EXCUSE TO KEEP IT SILENT. Christian marriages are falling left and right and we have to do everything we know to do as God’s people to fight this insidious spiritual attack Satan keeps launching upon Christian marriages.
To him who believes, all things are possible. To him who believes and DOES, the possible turns into the PROBABLE. (WWJD…What Would Jesus Do?) (JBTD . . . Jesus Believed Then DID). It usually takes BOTH to have God release a miracle.
When Kathleen and I were at each other’s throats, God took me to His spiritual woodshed one day while I was praying to Him and gave me some much-needed wacks by saying: “I didn’t give you a second-best wife. I gave you the BEST I had for you. Why don’t you start treating her that way?”
I pondered a long time about that. God doesn’t give us his second-best children to raise. He doesn’t give us his second-best job to work at. He doesn’t give us his second-best country or city to live in. He doesn’t give us his second-best local church to attend. He doesn’t give us SECOND-BEST ANYTHING. It’s ALWAYS His best at the time, until He replaces it with something better . . . as long as we are constantly trusting Him for His perfect will to be done in our lives.
Maybe you don’t believe that about your God, but this is the God I’ve come to know. He’s more AWESOME than Dirty Ernie ever thought of being (no offense, Ernie).
God NEVER passes up the opportunity to perform a miracle healing in a troubled marriage when BOTH partners are trusting Him for one … and are willing to assume FULL RESPONSIBILITY for the problems that exist in their marriage … instead of pointing fingers at their spouse.
He knows EXACTLY what it will take to make me and shake me and mold me into the gem He’s making me to be. He’ll use Satan to hammer and chip away at me when Satan is stupid enough to be used by him, OR he’ll use my wife to hammer and chip away at me if that is what is convenient or needful for Him to use. Mother-in-laws work well too, as do bosses and co-workers. He has a lot of “hammerers” and “chipper-awayers” at His disposal to get the job done, and once I become fully persuaded that He has HIS best interest in mind every time He thinks of me . . . I can rest and be at peace inside, knowing that whatever state I find myself in down here . . . He NEVER passes up the opportunity to perform a miracle in a troubled marriage when BOTH partners are trusting Him for one … and are willing to assume FULL RESPONSIBILITY for the problems tat exist in their marriage … instead of pointing fingers at their spouse.
Something God taught Kathleen and I through this painful time of healing was what we call: “Conversational prayer.” When we each believe the other is wrong in a matter, and there is an emotional standoff, God taught us that if we will go to Him together in prayer, and each tell Him out loud in the presence of the other that though we each believe we are right … nevertheless we ask for God’s help (praying out loud so the other person can hear!) in showing us if we are wrong, and need to change what we believe or are doing. There is no other thing more frightening to the devil than two couples going before God and admitting that they just might be wrong instead of so right … and that they are willing to not only assume full responsibility for whatever the conflicts are in the marriage — they are also willing to allow God to change them.
If you haven’t caught this … this technique or weapon dethrones Satan like little else will! Instead of pointing a finger at the other person in the marriage, you each point your finger at yourselves, and let God judge who is right and who is wrong in the troubled situation you are in.
As God resists the proud, and gives grace to the humble (See: 1 Peter 5:5) … conversely, Satan is very attracted to the proud, but has no door to walk through with the humble. Two married people who see the wisdom of stopping casting stones at each other, and will go to God in prayer with their partner and assume fully responsibility for the conflict going on … (though both usually believe they may be totally innocent in the matter and absolutely know it) … God will work a miracle in that couple if both will acknowledge any sin they have given place to, acknowledge it to God and each other, and then stop that sin/sinning. Even the sin of infidelity.
When only ONE of the two are trusting Him for a miracle . . . then the believing one must BE CERTAIN they are hearing Him from that point on. God may not be too inclined to link you back up with a “spiritual dud.” One person believing God to do impossible things for His glory and the building of His Kingdom in the lives of people can accomplish a lot more than that same person and a “spiritual dud,” having to be dragged along in believing God to do the impossible. Just another way of looking at difficult areas of strained relationships.
I thank God more than just mere words can convey for what He is done in my marriage. If you know how lovable Kathleen is, you would have a very hard time imagining that she could be at odds with anyone, let alone me. She’s one of the most kind and gentle spirits you could ever meet. I love being at home with her, because her presence thrills my soul. To imagine what living would be like without her now sends cold-chills up my spine.
Though I’m truly thankful God has given us BOTH a channel to be used by Him together to help reach the lost through the Precious Testimonies outreach, I know that much of the joy would be gone of continuing the outreach if she were suddenly removed. It delights me so much to see her willingly using her abilities as a drink offering poured out to God on behalf of others. I have gained a genuine respect for her that I’ve never had, because the call God as given us is no longer “my” call, but “OUR” call, which is what Satan fought so hard to keep hidden.
I don’t want to end this by implying in any way that I was an innocent party in all this. It is hard to see one’s own faults and weaknesses. I know that I can be so un-Christ-like in areas of gentleness and tenderness (thank goodness Jesus is not done with me). In my many moments of frustration and anger, I said words to Kathleen that had to cut so deep — caused so much pain — that most wives would have exited the marriage a long time ago. Repeatedly, words with intensity I never should have said spewed forth into her spirit, opening up gashes so big that took a great deal of time and pain to be healed.
Yet through all we’ve gone through, she is the apple of my eye. I’m so blessed and proud to be her husband, and I hope that as time passes, by the grace of God, her respect and admiration will grow for me as mine keeps growing for her. The call God has given Kathleen and I doesn’t fit a conventional mold. We’re pioneering a ministry much unlike any other. Yet I’d be the greatest hypocrite I know to be doing any other ministry than what we are doing now.
Until the Body of Christ sees the UNTAPPED POTENTIAL of testimonies, and begins using them to their fullest extent, I’ll not be able to go to heaven with full peace in my heart. Though God can take me home at any moment, as well as my wife, and until that time happens, I hope she purposes always in her heart to focus on the GOOD that God has deposited in me, and not the earthly, fleshly part of me that is so ugly to God and others at times. Kathleen is a KEEPER! I wouldn’t trade her for any other woman, ministry call, or for a trillion dollars. She is PRICELESS!
As I end, I would like to make you aware of a book, (if you have not heard of it), that God got into our hands, that helped both of us learn some things about men’s and women’s needs that we were so unknowledgeable of. I have read several books on how to build a successful marriage, but NONE of them communicated to me the needs of a wife like this particular book does, nor the true needs of a man, as Kathleen discovered in it.
I have passed this book along to other men as well, and have heard them say the exact words that I found myself saying: THIS book is the BEST I have ever read in helping me to REALLY understand what a woman needs from a man and what he can be doing wrong and never know it is causing the damage it is causing.
Though there are many excellent books on the marriage, the author of this particular book has been given the ability to write in a way that men can receive from him like none other I’ve read. Most men aren’t interested in reading books on how to improve their marriage, but this book is the type of book that if a wife will simply obtain a copy and stick in on her husband’s work bench or in his tackle box, the Holy Spirit will draw him to the priceless nuggets of insight that are contained in it. I don’t pump up books on marriage, but THIS book I can’t keep silent about. The name of the book is MARRIAGE ON THE ROCK. It is written by Jimmy Evans. The ISBN is 0-9647435-0-7. If for some reason you cannot obtain it at a Christian bookstore, you can contact the ministry that can send you a copy. That ministry name is Majestic Media, P.O. Box 8410, Amarillo, TX 79114. Two phone numbers are also available to call: 806-354-2991 or 800-705-5556.