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Posts Tagged ‘divorce’

Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted. Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.  – Galatians 6:1-2

I’ve been through church crisis one too many times. The longtime head pastor of my church that I grew up in passed away due to cancer. Our popular youth pastor was fired abruptly because the new pastor that came in wanted a whole new staff in place. My good friend became an intern for our church (after just becoming a believer) and had an affair with one of the staff members. He took his life soon after. The accountant at my last church embezzled almost half a million dollars. My current pastor had to resign due to extramarital affairs. Yes… the church experiences death, scandals and affairs just like the real world. I must note that in most of these situations, the church handled them very poorly (something I’ve experienced personally as well).

But how are we doing as Christians in handling these situations? Do we deal with those caught in sin in a loving way? Do we restore them gently back to Christ with the truth of the gospel? Do we act Godly when the media tears into us or do we get defensive and attack back? All I know is Satan loves to attack the church when things are going well. All the situations I described above happened when the particular church I was at was at their peak and experiencing tremendous growth. We forget that when we became Christians that Christ warned us that we would face persecution. One of the things I know is that Christians today do not handle persecution well. Look at the Chick-fil-a and Duck Dynasty situations and see how defensive Christians get when our views are spoken against. I’ve been embarrassed how Christians have reacted in the media about gay marriage and other topics that go against our beliefs. Do we not trust that God will ultimately prevail?

Now those who had been scattered by the persecution that broke out when Stephen was killed traveled as far as Phoenicia, Cyprus and Antioch, spreading the word only among Jews. Some of them, however, men from Cyprus and Cyrene, went to Antioch and began to speak to Greeks also, telling them the good news about the Lord Jesus. The Lord’s hand was with them, and a great number of people believed and turned to the Lord.  –  Acts 11:19-21

God works during times of despair. He redeems and restores and takes these situations and uses them for his glory. The church isn’t perfect and it isn’t about one man or a building. It’s a living organic body of messy believers that come to together to grow and worship our Lord. We treat Pastors like rock stars and put them on a pedestal so high they could never meet the expectations we put on them. Pastors are just messy people being used by God. But God isn’t going to let his church fall. He is still faithful even when we are unfaithful.

What if some were unfaithful? Will their unfaithfulness nullify God’s faithfulness? Not at all! Let God be true, and every human being a liar. As it is written: “So that you may be proved right when you speak and prevail when you judge.”  –  Romans 3:3-4

I have been impressed with my current church and how they have handled our current crisis. They are doing it in a loving biblical way. My last two churches were clueless in dealing with people caught in sin and usually let them leave without any restoration. When I heard the news in church, the first thing I did was look at myself. I took this as a warning sign that I myself am a step away from falling into temptation and sin. I am thankful for my community and that I can come to them about anything that I may be struggling with. I am thankful for my church and that God called me to be here during this crisis so I can see firsthand his redeeming power at work. I remember when my last church was going through its scandal, I was quoted in the paper at that time by saying “God is bigger than this”. My viewpoint is still the same – God has got this and He will prevail.

I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world – John 16:33

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I spent my whole night with God tonight in front of this candle. I’m at a place in my life where God and I just talk all the time. I had a very interesting week this week. I shared my story with someone I deeply care about Saturday night and it got me processing a lot about where I am at in my walk. God’s really pulling me out into the community to share the gospel and my testimony to others. The brokenness of this jacked up world is really weighing on my heart. I really care and love people  and I find myself hurting for them. It kills me to see people make the choice of turning from God when Satan throws his punches our way.

Church for me exists in the world. Sundays are great for fellowship and teaching, but I’m growing in my walk meeting with people out in the surrounding community. Tonight I spent hours in the smoky atmosphere of Coffee Rush with a brother that just went through divorce. It’s a shitty thing for anyone to have to ever go through and I feel for this guy cuz he has little kids. But what an encouraging night that came from hanging out with him. God used me to impact his life in our short time together and he in turn was a blessing to me. I knew of him when he was married and was always encouraged when I saw his family. But then last summer I saw him at a small group alone with a look in his face that was all too familiar. I knew right then and there his marriage was over and I felt for him. But hearing him speak of his desire to cling to Christ through this tough time made me knew that God was going to take care of him. Tonight we had the opportunity to meet for the first time.

What an amazing turnaround God has done in his life! God is really working in this guy. I’m not saying that life is easy for him – he’s lonely, he’s struggling with lust and finances. Yet he has peace because he knows God is going to pull him through this. That’s God!!!! He doesn’t let go. We can have peace and hope because he is our anchor when life sucks. He is ever faithful and true and we can cling to hope when disaster comes. I love this verse from Hebrews..

We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure.  – Hebrews 6:19

I’ve gone through more pain and trials since coming to Christ than when I lived life without him. Coming to Christ doesn’t guarantee things will get easy. But when we surrender our lives to him, He gives us the Holy Spirit to guide us and we can have peace in that. He is the anchor to our souls and we can navigate through the crap when we cling to the cross. I have experienced the type of trials that can destroy a man. But at the same time I can honestly say that I am where I am today because of Jesus Christ. His grace and love for me are the only things that got me where I am today. I don’t fear man or this world because God continues to show me that he will bring me through whatever I go through and give me exactly what I need. What an amazing God we have!

Tonight I saw my new friend and the power of what God can do when we turn to Him. This guy turned to the cross of Christ – the place where God loves us and where Jesus shows us that he understands what we are going through. And now his testimony will be used to change the lives of others who are experiencing trouble. This guy prayed for me and told me how much meeting me impacted his life in a short few hours. I laugh because I feel the same way about him. He was a light to me tonight and a reminder of who God is when life beats us down. I love how the body of Christ is used to encourage each other.

Tonight I realized where God wants me after spending some time with Him. I know a big part of that is being out in the secular world and serving these men that are struggling and going through painful situations. I get pain and I don’t fear it. Jesus is my rock and I’m secure in that and pain has always brought me closer to him. People call me modern-day Job or whatever, but they also know that Christ is my foundation and the trials of life just make me cling to Christ. I want to share that and proclaim that to others. God may allow freedom in this world, but He doesn’t lose control. He knows what we go through and he offers himself as a source of hope to overcome it.

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Mark Driscoll, John Piper, Tim Keller, Matt Chandler… I love listening to these guys preach because they speak truth directly from scripture. They don’t sugarcoat anything, especially when it comes to marriage. I wish I could post everything I learned from this conference about what Mark Driscoll preached about marriage at Mission Community Church. He has an amazing marriage with his wife Grace to back it up because they followed the biblical model of marriage and stuck it through the tough times. He was pretty straight up about this – you need Jesus first and foremost. If you don’t know Jesus, your marriage is doomed. You will adopt a secular view of marriage and make it about yourself and give up during the tough times. Mark was to the point about this and several people ended up coming forward to receive Christ because they truly believed they need him to save their marriages. It was an awesome and powerful moment. After the wedding day, marriage becomes a war. Satan loves to prey upon marriage and if you don’t know Jesus, you will find yourself without hope. Your spouse is not your enemy, Satan is. So no matter what, be there for your spouse, pray for him/her and don’t give up. The most important day of your marriage should be the last day, not the first. These were some of the hard-core stuff Mark preached that hit me to the core.

I could touch on a lot of things that were meaningful and that will help me grow and husband – being best friends with your spouse, daily repentance to each other of your sins (Ephesians 4:25-30 model), forgiveness, selfishness, etc. But the one topic that I take to heart and what I have been working on the most is being a humble servant to my wife (Philippians 2:3-8). As hard as I try, I fail this many times over. This comes from how I view my spouse and my idolatry and tendency to control because of my past. I sometimes see my spouse’s issues as too hard to deal with and I start to not see her as God’s child. Then I try to rescue and control her because of the difficulties – a redemption role which belongs to Christ and not me. This leads to frustration and eventually anger because I don’t see results. So what God has been convicting me of is that I need to serve my wife humbly despite any issues she might have and the hardships we endure. I know God has entrusted me with his daughter and for that I feel honored – especially how fragile she is. My committment I have made and what I have promised myself to live up to is to consider her better than me, to encourage her in her walk and help guide her (not control her), to correct her lovingly and humbly when needed and to love her with all my heart all the days of my life. I want my wife to feel safe with me and to trust me more than anyone (but Jesus) and to always know how much I cherish her. I’m totally up for all the work that needs to go into making this happen – I love her that much. And this is something else I’ve had to ask myself – do I allow myself to be served by my wife? I’m not sure if I do or don’t. But when I read about the life of Jesus, he came to serve humbly and he also let others serve him. So I will continue to pray and allow God to continue to work in me and in my role as a husband. I will never give up the fight against Satan for my marriage or for my wife’s soul.

On my mirror in my bathroom I hung a piece a paper a couple of months back as a reminder that reads – How can I SERVE my wife DAILY?

This also really encouraged me – a couple gave their testimony on stage at the end. After 15 years of marriage, he had a heavy porn addiction. After years of loneliness, she developed an emotional affair with a co-worker. Divorce was around the corner for them.  He discovered her phone days before she was to meet her co-worker in Vegas for a weekend. Their secrets were out in the open and they confessed them to each other. They got help and one year later, they renewed their vows and avoided divorce. And now they both say that they have never been happier in their marriage ever after 15 years. And it was all because they knew they needed Jesus and that they fought for their marriage, stop listening to other people and got help. That was their message to the crowd – don’t give up! Man – I cried like a baby seeing the power of Christ work in this couple. It was an amazing two days and I am thankful for God providing this time for me to grow in my own walk as a husband.

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What’s on my heart

I don’t know if I can hear another story about a family or couple struggling right now. A couple near and dear to my heart have separated. I’ve heard way too many stories like this this week. My prayer this week is for all the families of Cornerstone and in the world today that are going through difficult times. Trust God and make him the center of your family. It is the only hope through these trials.

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Wow.. I have lots on my mind. Very typical after Sunday. So I thought I’d tried and sort my scattered thought with this blog. Spent the whole week hanging with the kids. My youngest turned eight and I had a swim party for him today. It got over just in time for the rainstorm. I’m pretty fried form being outside so much this weekend.

I came across a blog I wrote awhile back on God moving events. I had gone to College Briefing, then Belize and Passion Atlanta all within a few months in ’06. I was on a pretty big spiritual high at the point of my life. Those events brought me closer to God. Then I signed up for three mission trips in ’07. All three of those fell through. I was disappointed and fell into a spiritual rut. In my blog, I wrote how I need to not rely on these trips to bring me closer to God. I wanted to get excited for God by just opening up my Bible. Well, today is not the case. I get pretty jazzed up from opening up the Word quite a bit now. But I also need those God moving trips as well. There is something about that alone time with God away from everyday life and also being around a community of believers. It really draws me closer to him and is a big part of my growth. Passion L.A., Tijuana and camp have all been huge for me this year.

Speaking of camp, one of the kids that was in my cabin came running up to me at Target. He was really excited to see me. I got to meet his parents. I really miss those guys from my cabin. I told him that I was leading a small group for 5th/6th grade starting in a month. He was really happy about that. That kid is amazing. He knows more about Revelations than I do.

Just want to write real quick about my friend Nathan. Amazing guy that was in my men’s group a year ago. Friday, his brother Tyrone was found dead from an apparent overdose. I can’t imagine how hard being in that situation has to be. At the same time, I just don’t get it. Life is too short and too precious. My heart goes out to Nathan and his family. He’s such an amazing guy. Even though his life has been super rough, he’s always kept close to God.

Dangit.. I’m frustrated. So a few months back I decided to try and open up a bit and let some new friends into my life. I’ve had this shell around me for some time and I’ve been praying about letting new people in. I’ve had some trust issues with people because I’ve been burned too many times… especially from those close to me. Yet I still continually get let down. Really don’t know how to handle this. I do have some close people in my life I trust, but I’m having a hard time letting others in. I feel myself climbing back into my shell and just staying away from people until I figure this out. Its hard because I love meeting and getting to know people. I just need to trust God about the people he brings into my life. Need to pray, pray, pray…

Had a great time taking a team of people down to Liberty House for Second Saturday yesterday. I really need to sit down and blog about how that ministry has changed my life these past couple of years. There were a few people from the Singles and others class that really wanted to help the organization and set up a thing with the Golden Spoon where they donated 75% of their profits to help fund some camps for kids. I was so excited to hear about that. Then Steve Lappen (the director and an amazing guy with a big heart for those kids) was invited to speak at church today. I’m so excited to see Cornerstone finally get involved with this ministry and helping these intercity kids stay off the streets.

Met the new singles Pastor, James Patterson today as well. Great guy and I’m very excited to see him here. God has good things in store for him here.

Some really cool stuff going on in my divorce group. I’m really bummed that I will be stepping away from it for awhile to counsel kids. But it will be good for me. Speaking of divorce, I was stopped by a girl tonight that said she was going through it . Someone had given her my name. I really felt for her because she is at the early stages of it. Really nice girl.. enjoyed my conversation with her. Divorce sucks. Yet God can do amazing things with people if you stay focused on him and trust him.

I’ve got such a super busy week this week. Going to spend the rest of my night preparing for it so I don’t get too caught up with it. Also want to make sure I make some alone time with God. Got some deep thinking to do. Then I head off to San Diego the following week for a little fun in the sun. God is good.

Love you guys (or whoever likes to read about my up and down life), TT

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Our church started a series on communication between men and females. Its more geared toward married couples, but still informative for those that are not. My lifegroup is also doing a similar series. We have had some very good conversations arise out of that group. Except our conversation is more based ..experience because we are all divorced. There are many ’if I had known’ and ’maybe next time’ comments.

As Pastor Linn spoke on stage and described the differences of how men and women communicate and listen to each other, it was like deja vu to me. I started to think of some of the fights and miscommunications within my own marriage. I honestly don’t think much of my marriage or my ex-wife anymore. Its pretty much in my past. So spending time thinking about those events kinda freaked me out. We were never good at arguing. We weren’t that nice to each other when we did. Those are situations I don’t ever want to be a part of again.

But the thing that scared me the most was the question.. can I do marriage again? Do I want to do marriage again? I have learned so much about myself and just relationships in general after going through divorce. I know what I can bring to a relationship. But it’s not always that easy or simple. It takes two people to be on the same page. Communication is huge. How we talk to each other is important.  I don’t really date and I love single life. I’ve only had feelings for one person since my divorce. So I really haven’t had the opportunity to experience or apply what I have learned.

Yet… I want so bad for things to be different next time…

I had dinner with three other divorced guys after the sermon. We spent a couple of hours discussing women and how they operate. But most importantly we spent time discussing how we can be better husbands next time. It was such an amazing conversation with fellow brothers in Christ. I’m glad I have guys like this in my life for me to lean on and learn from.

I’m a person that will give his all to his mate. I will work my butt off for that person. I at times will give tough love when needed, yet I’m pretty caring and compassionate (and a little romantic). But I also know I’m not perfect. I know I have a lot to learn. I know I can be better. I am blessed to have people and resources to help me out on this learning path. But it does take equal effort from both parties.

But most important is God. Without a God-centered relationship, its doomed from the get-go. It’s why my marriage failed. It’s why many marriages are failing. And sadly, it’s why my divorce group is so big. Problems, hard-times and disagreements need to be taken to Christ. Prayer is so vital to marriage and relationships. It needs to occur daily and often. God HAS to be the focus.

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I wrote a pretty long blog yesterday about my divorce group and then accidentally deleted it. So here is the short version…

I was challenged a year ago to start a group for divorce people. I laughed it off. But then God weighed it on me. So I started one with the help two other ladies. Today it has grown to 26 people. Sad that there is such a need for a divorce group, yet awesome because these people come to grow and fellowship with others. It has been a huge part of my healing process.

In the past couple of months my heart wasn’t in it. I wasn’t sure if God wanted me to be a part of it anymore. A couple of people were complaining about the material. The social events outside of group always had to involve alcohol. We had a new guy show up just to pick up women. It just wasn’t there for me anymore.

I prayed about it and wrote a long email this week voicing my concerns. A few people responded with praise. One person was angry with me. I wasn’t sure what to expect when I was driving to group. The awesome thing is that we ended all having a heart to heart talk. Not just about the email, but just about the everyday struggles of having gone through divorce. There was sharing, tears, and a huge amount of support being shown. It was an awesome night.

For the first time I felt this group got it. The biggest topic was how we can take this horrible situation called divorce and become more Christlike. I felt everyone wanted to stop worrying about who their next potential mate was going to be and just concentrate on living a life for Christ. The awesome thing about this mix guy/girl group was the amount of trust there was shown in discussing some of the intimate topics.

I woke up the next day with a very full email inbox. My phone rang all day. Everyone was on a spiritual high. The lady that was angry with me called me and we had an amazing heart to heart talk. I feel so blessed to be a part of this amazing group of people. They encourage me so much.

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