What Do You Want To Do About That?

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Romans 8:28 (NLT): “And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.”

Hi. I’m back, and I want to share a story because it’s time…

The Old Testament book of I Samuel, chapter 8 introduces us to the nation of Israel turning away from God and asking for a King (to rule over them) in His stead. At the time, God’s representative—Samuel—was aging out of his appointment. Despite Samuel’s righteous heart, his two spoiled sons were dishonest men. The people didn’t want either of those characters to fill the roll of their father once he was gone, so they demanded that Samuel appoint a King to lead the nation after him. Israel had seen how the other nations of the world governed themselves, and wanted to be just like everyone else.

Naturally, Samuel was pretty put off by this ridiculous request, so he consulted the Lord, rather than make any emotional decisions. He went to God through prayer. And you know what? God answered him, basically saying (translated in Ennis vernacular),

“Hey, don’t worry about it, Sam. I’ve got you. You go on ahead and do whatever it is they want you to do. Just know they’re not disrespecting you or your service. No…they actually have the audacity to disrespect Me with this foolish request. So, you give the people what they want, but I want you to tell them precisely what they’re going to get, as a consequence of this request.”

And so it was, Samuel gave them permission to elect a king from among themselves. The people chose Saul. And God allowed it to happen. Saul was a handsome specimen of a man and honestly, that trait won him the position; that’s just about all he had going for him. Eventually, what Samuel warned against came to fruition in Israel’s first king. He did such a bad job at God-honoring leadership, that God removed His Spirit from Saul and placed it over a young man who would go on to be called, “A man after God’s own heart”. That young man was king David.

America was supposed to be built on the principles and beliefs of God-honoring men. Now, history is rife with instances of those same founding-fathers failing to uphold God’s two most important decrees (Love the Lord your God with all your mind, soul, and spirit and love your neighbor as yourself), but they at least attempted to somewhat build our country around some version of what they decided God’s word meant to them. Again…not even close to perfection, but that’s another discussion for another time. As time marched on, our nation has strayed farther and farther away from God’s word. In the process, we’ve somehow managed to redefine what it means to be Christian. Our culture has successfully interwoven into the very fabric of our faith; so much so that the average person can’t recognize many self-proclaimed Christians by their behavior anymore; by their fruit. We are just like everyone else in the world, instead of being world changers.

The saga of the current administration leading right into the present days following the election, reminds me of the story of Saul. There are Christians among us who vehemently support the idea of God appointing the current president to office. And you know what? I would agree with them, but for extremely different reasoning. God did (in fact) put him in that seat, within the oval office. He did so, just as he gave Samuel permission to appoint Saul as Israel’s first king. He did so, just as he appointed king Nebuchadnezzar power to take into captivity the southern kingdom. Now to be fair, Israel didn’t ask for King Nebuchadnezzar. He was sent as punishment. The point I’m making in including him, is that God was—and is—always in control.

Our current president is a flawed man, just as all men are. None of us are perfect. By the democratic process our country is privileged to have, he was nominated and elected to be our commander-in-chief. In truth, we all knew what type of character he possessed long before he was appointed. Yet, despite the warning, he was given an opportunity to lead this country in a God-honoring way.

Many of my Christian brothers and sisters out there have stood behind him and supported his every decision. Just as King Saul had loyal subjects who saw absolutely no wrong in his leadership, Christ-followers were (and are) willing to ignore many of the president’s character flaws to support his politics. Today—at this very hour—the sanctity of the democratic process is being challenged by some of those very followers choosing to overlook character flaw for personal victories. The man in charge is attacking the democracy which placed him in power.

But it’s really not the politics that disappoint me right now. It’s the way we’ve all deteriorated into treating one another, as a result of the politics. This political climate has really revealed what is in the hearts of each and every one of us. It’s downright scary. It’s shameful. It’s the opposite of what it really means to be Christian.

I’ve personally shouted to the heavens, “Forty-five is not my president!”. I’ve unfriended many people that I once felt safe speaking to. I’ve argued my points, rebutted differing opinions and stopped speaking with close friends. Family, this is within the body of Christ I’m talking about here! It’s not just me either. It’s all of us. Right now, if you’re taking the time to read through this, you’re thinking of someone you’re disappointed in; someone maybe you had to block; someone who shared a different political view than you. We’ve all lost sight of what it truly means to follow God.

In the last few days, I’ve seen Christians hold emergency prayer meetings in favor of the president retaining his position, lest the challenger win, and the world goes straight to hell. Likewise, I’ve seen Christians hold emergency prayer meetings in favor of the former vice-president winning the election by landslide to ensure the utmost humiliation of the current administration. The social media memes are by far the worst. Christians are mocking opposing camps in deplorable ways. To add insults to the many injuries, Christians from both sides of the political line are calling on like-minded brethren to pray for their specific candidate’s victory, while simultaneously calling on all Christians to pray for God to heal our land.

Really?! What’s that got to do with God’s will being done?  

Saul—despite his many victories in battle—was a major failure when it came to serving the LORD. He used the people to his advantage, and still they followed him. Yet, God allowed this to happen. He gave Israel exactly what they asked for. Today, we are reaping what we’ve sown in this country for generations. We’ve turned our backs to God, and He’s given us exactly what we’ve asked for along with everything that comes with it. Despite these hard facts, we’ve still chosen to put our faith and prayers into these two candidates first, while continuing to hate and ignore one another because of our differences in opinions. Satan…right now…is winning. Don’t kid yourself, believer. Right now, while you’re awaiting the victor of this 2020 election, the real winner is him. We asked for him.

What do you want to do about that?  

Honestly, I don’t need you—any of you—to agree with my thoughts. But I need you to think about your own heart for a moment, and really consider where it is…right now.

Some of us are leaving our home church over race relations. Some have stopped speaking to brothers and sisters because they have different political views. Some have decided that there’s nothing wrong with our nation that wasn’t caused until (insert whatever). Some have simply decided that Christianity is a sham, based on how we’re treating each other. So, the question still stands.

What do you want to do about that?

Romans 8:28 is special for me, because it puts my life into perspective. If I love God, then I have to believe that all things—all things—will work out ultimately for my good, because I’m called according to his purpose. That means, instead of me praying to God to put my choice in candidate into the oval office, I’m going to pray that His will be done, no matter what that might look like in my eyes. His vision is a lot stronger and longer than mine ever will be. I’m not going to pray for what I want. Rather I’m going to pray for what God wants, and I’m simply going to choose to accept His decision. History has proven, if I turn my back on Him and He gives me what I’ve asked for selfishly, the results can be quite disastrous.

The “Larry Crowne” Effect

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Remember the movie, “Larry Crowne” starring Tom Hanks as a middle-aged college student? It’s one of my favorite contemporary films. I love the fact that Larry made the decision (at his age) to start over. Forget the house, the mortgage and the SUV. Larry trimmed the fat and started a whole new life as a student of higher learning. Sure, he didn’t really have much of a choice, but he made the most of his situation and circumstances.

Believe it or not, Larry Crowne was a deciding factor in my choice to return to college. That’s right; I’ve decided to make it public. In the fall of 2018, I have officially returned to go after my elusive degree in Construction Management. Wanna know what’s funny about the return? My core classes were all closed, so I decided to complete a course that would fulfill my ART requirement. I enrolled in Creative Writing 201. For the first time in my life, I’m learning writing skills in a class setting! How cool is that?!

Like Larry, I am the old guy in class. It was a bit intimidating to be surrounded by so many young and hip undergraduate students, on day one. I honestly doubted whether or not I actually possess the writing skills and talent to be able to keep up with the younger generation of future professional Wordsmiths. I sat in the back of the class at a lone table and simply listened to the their interactions with our vibrant and passionate young professor, Mr. Jesse Eagle. While some students are  more vocal and eager to participate than others, I slowly settled into my newfound roll of creative writing student.

Here comes my public announcement segment. You’re never too old to restart, or continue. Did you start a task early in life and somewhere along the journey, you lost focus? Find that focus again. Reignite the fire, and get back into the saddle. Finish what you started.

 

We Can Be Better

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This morning I listened to a sermon preached by pastor John MacArthur. The focus of the message was on Christianity and politics. Pastor John made it clear that Jesus was certainly not interested in the politics of the day, but made it clear that we should respect authority.

Last night, I read Jeremiah 25 and 26. In those chapters, God made it clear to Jeremiah that he was going to use the evil King Nebuchadnezzar to punish God’s chosen because of their disobedience. He said that Nebuchadnezzar would also be punished (in time) for the atrocities he had committed. Politics are not important to the Lord.

If Jesus isn’t concerned with the political stature of his people (he cares about Salvation rather than occupation of the White House), why are we as believers in Christ, displaying wretched behavior over the current political race? I’m serious. It amazes me that Christian brothers and sisters are not only dividing over differing choices in candidates, but we are also reverting to the type of behavior that we honestly teach our children to steer clear of. Why would non-believers want to listen to our message of Salvation when our actions over two political figures–neither of whom have anything to do with the message of the gospel–cause us to behave like lunatics?

Today on the radio, I heard so much negative talk about both candidates that it was totally ridiculous! This was on separate AM Christian talk shows, recapping last night’s second presidential debate! One station’s argument was that Christians who will stand behind a candidate who is supporting “all-inclusiveness” do not believe in the Bible. The other station’s stance was that Christians who continue to support a “sexist” and “racist” candidate aren’t Christian at all. A third station’s stance was that any Christian who chooses to “bow out of the voting process all together” is not only anti-Christian, but also unpatriotic!

Folks, none of these stations made a plea for the brethren to come together and agree in prayer for our nation. None of these stations spoke about the final question asked during the second debate. In my opinion, that question was the best question of the night. None of these stations made any relevant reference to Jesus being concerned with saving souls, over political allegiances.

Believers, we have to keep our eyes heavenward. I’m not suggesting we totally ignore what’s going on in our world at the moment. I am suggesting that we all take a deep breath and remember to trust in God; not our political parties. Our children are watching and listening to us make hypocritical fools of ourselves, during this election season. We can be better than that.

Luke 20:21-26 (NIV):  “21 So the spies questioned him: ‘Teacher, we know that you speak and teach what is right, and that you do not show partiality but teach the way of God in accordance with the truth. 22 Is it right for us to pay taxes to Caesar or not?’

23 He saw through their duplicity and said to them, 24 ‘Show me a denarius. Whose image and inscription are on it?

“Caesar’s,” they replied.

25 He said to them, ‘Then give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s.

26 They were unable to trap him in what he had said there in public. And astonished by his answer, they became silent.

If we can’t follow Jesus through this time in our history, we need to be silent.

 

 

*always*

Set Your Mind On Eternal Value

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We always lust for more. We’ll envy the new house the Jones bought even when our modest home is paid for. We want their house. Have you ever pulled up next to a nice SUV, but failed to notice the woman and 3 children standing in the snow at the bus stop right beside you? We’re too busy wondering how that gas guzzler must ride. Guys, have you ever ogled the supermodel–currently on her 3rd marriage–while your faithful wife–the mother of your children–is asleep on the sofa beside you? C’mon, don’t act like I’m the only flawed man in the room!

In the flesh, our appetites are insatiable. Sometimes, life plays out like an old school video game with never-ending levels. Each time we grab hold of the next big thing, almost instantly we want more; something bigger; something better; something totally unrelated to the last big thing, but still temporarily out of reach.You ever meet a millionaire who has everything money could ever buy, but still suffers from loneliness? Personally, I don’t know any millionaires, but they get lonely too. Money can’t buy happiness.

Colossians 3:2 says, “Set your mind on things above, not earthly things.” If we could find it in our hearts to daily seek the Lord and ignore the cravings of the flesh, we’d have less stress in our lives. The big house on the corner doesn’t care that you’re trying to obtain it. It won’t make an effort to reach out to you; neither will the Bentley, or the yacht, or the promotion. But…if we set our minds and hearts toward obtaining Jesus, He will reach out and meet us…not halfway, but right where we are. Jesus doesn’t depreciate either, people. His value is eternal.

Repentance

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Dear Lord,

I spend a lot of time complaining about the lack of attention I receive. I clock hours writing articles and stories that I claim glorify you. I work into the late night hours, and sometimes days, putting together original beats and melodies with the plans of writing God-glorifying lyrics or at least passing the instrumentals on to an artist who will honor you. My DJ controller/mixer has clocked some pretty insane hours as I constantly record sessions for my various social media sites. Speaking of social media, I’ve spent loads of time trolling and following various Christian artists and authors; reaching out to give a word of encouragement whenever I feel led to do so.

Through it all, I convince myself I’m doing your will. But tonight I dug deep and faced the truth. In my heart, I’ve long for the glory you deserve. I’ve secretly harbored a desire to hear or read a comment from someone—anyone—who gets where I’m coming from; who acknowledges my efforts.

“Hey brother, just wanted to let you know what you said to me really touched my heart.”

“Hey Ennis, your music really grabbed hold of me today.”

“Brother E, I just wanted to say ‘Thank You’ for writing that piece today. It really spoke to me.”

When did my selfish ambitions take the place of your glorification, Lord? When did you receiving the honor become cheap, compared to me receiving praise for my efforts? When did I fall victim to selfish desires, through the gifts you’ve given me?

In my heart, I want people to praise my writing; my music; my witty banter; my words of encouragement. I want it for me. When I pray that you would bless my talents, I’m praying for self-glorification. Your glory is a distant second despite my words.

This is hard for me to write and accept, because no one wants to acknowledge their own dark side. I need you to know that I see what you’ve known all along. I see my selfish intentions and ambitions. Tonight, I give them to you.

I’m sorry Lord. Please forgive me for putting you behind me. Help me to see clearly, and to use the talents you’ve given me to truly honor you, with no expectations of personal gain. If you don’t get the glory, I don’t want to do it. My confession is real. Guide every step I take, from this moment going forward, Jesus.

Step By Step

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“It only takes one step to start. That’s what he told me. Seemed simple enough. So…why can’t I find momentum?”

You’re not ready yet.

“I thought I was. A man can only take so much, before something gives.”

I know. I understand. It takes time, and a real commitment. Unfortunately, many people choose to go the other way.

“But, the prayer was the first step, right? I mean, I feel like I’m not so…alone…anymore.”

It was. You’re not. But, it can’t stop there. I have so much more in store for you. The plans I have for you, are to give you a hope and a future you can’t even begin to imagine. But, you have to willingly choose to go deeper.

“Pastor says that all the time. I never really understood what it meant. Go deeper, how? He told me one step would change my life.”

And it has. Now that you have a new life, you need to lay down the old one. Part of doing that is getting to know me. I don’t want you to simply know my name. I want you to get to know me intimately. That’s going deeper.

“How do I do that exactly? You’re not going to tell me I need to throw out all of my music, ditch all of my friends, relinquish my intelligence and start meditating all day, are you?”

HA! That’s funny. No, nothing like that. I want you to get close to my Word. Don’t fear it anymore. Learn from it. It’s me. In time, you’ll find me throughout its entirety. I’ve always been there. I’ll always be there. I AM.

“You are—”

I AM.

“What’s that mean?”

It means from the beginning to the end, I will always be. Since you’ve called, and I came, I will never leave you. I will fight for you, but I will not compete for your love. You have to willingly choose.

“What’s the choice I have to make? Why can’t you just come into my life and add good things to what I already have? Why does there have to be a choice?”

I know it seems hard at first. Maybe even unfair. But it has to be this way. Light and darkness can’t coexist. You have to choose between the life I offer and the life behind you.

“So…no middle ground? No compromise?”

No. But I promise you this: though the road may get rough, I’ll always walk it with you; one step at a time. Soon enough, you’ll find that the music you loved, some of the friends you cherished, even your former way of thinking will seem flawed compared to what I will show you.

“And what’s that? I’m already bad off. Giving up all the good stuff in my life is going to gain what?”

My peace.

“Peace.”

My peace; a peace you’ve never known but have always yearned for. You already feel a small portion of it.

“How do you know?”

We’re talking.

“-”

Yes. Let that sink in for a moment.

“Jesus—it feels weird to speak your name out loud.”

I know it does, at first. Don’t be ashamed.

“Jesus, I want to try to get to know you better. Will you help me?”

Absolutely. Now, we’re walking together.

 

* Jeremiah 29:11*

Faith, You Must Have

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“I’ve watched this one for a long time. All his life, he’s looked away to the future; to the horizon. Never once did he keep his mind on where …he…was! Hmm? What… he… was doing! Hmmph! Adventure. Heh! Excitement. Heh! A Jedi doesn’t crave these things.  You are reckless!”

Anyone who claims to be a real Star Wars fan knows Yoda’s unique dialect doesn’t flow as simple as that. But, that’s what I heard. I must’ve watched “The Empire Strikes Back” a hundred times since I was a kid. But this time, those accusatory words hit me personally, and square in the heart. On top of that, I watched Luke Skywalker struggle with his faith in the Force; watched as he erroneously judged his command of the Force on the circumstances surrounding him. The icing on my cake of conviction was that infamous dialogue between Luke and Yoda, after Luke’s submerged X-Wing Fighter was levitated out of the bog.

“I don’t…I don’t believe it,” Luke said.

“That is why you fail.” Yoda sighed.

For most of my adult life, I’ve spent too much time star gazing into the future, and never really concentrating on the “here-&-now” tasks required to get me there. Spur-of-the-moment decisions and knee-jerk reactions cause more setbacks than successes. Eventually, life can become frustrating when you try to go it alone. Since I struggled with the concept of “faith alone”, I usually made up my mind to do something, then prayed about it afterwards. But, that’s not how it works.

Faith is a lot like the Force. In Luke 17:6, Jesus said, “If you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it will obey you.” That kind of faith seems impossible, in the natural world, so most of us don’t even bother trying to cultivate it. Because we tend to look at our circumstances, we lack the faith to believe in miracles, despite claiming to know Jesus. The trick to changing that failing faith, is to do precisely what Yoda told Luke Skywalker:

“You must unlearn, what you have learned.”

We have to put our complete trust in the one who created everything, and controls all things. That’s Jesus. Faith in him is the way we conquer our giants. Complete trust in him, is how our lives will change. Believe it or not, trusting him all the way is a simple choice. I don’t mean it’s easy. If that were the case, everyone would be saved! What I mean is, you have to choose to trust the Lord. It’s a daily wholehearted choice.

Trusting in the Lord may start out small and seem ridiculously uncomfortable, in the beginning. But, that’s where he meets you, right where you are with his mercy and grace. As you continue to move toward trusting him, he gives more grace. And believe me when I say his grace is sufficient. There isn’t a challenge you will encounter that God can’t walk you through.

So here’s my call to action, friends. In 2016, let’s all train to be Jedi. Our lightsabers are prayers because our struggle is not against flesh and blood enemies, but against the rulers, authorities and powers of our dark world. Whether you realize it or not, our greatest battles are fought spiritually. Let’s start fighting back, by using the real Force: our faith.

P.O.V.

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  • One man’s trash is another man’s treasure.
  • The glass is half empty; the glass is half full.
  • This is a setback; this is an opportunity to regroup.
  • I can’t get any lower; I can only go up from here.
  • I quit; now watch me get started.

Point of view (or P.O.V.) is vital for success. The way you view a situation or circumstance tells a great deal about your character. If there are truly two sides to every story, your version will determine your own outcome.

Do you look at your life challenges and see the obstacles standing before you? Can you look beyond those giants? Or…are you the kind of person who faces the giants, and recognizes the opportunities beyond the challenges? Can you see the victory just after the trial?

Long before David was crowned king of Israel, he faced off against a Philistine giant of impossible size and strength. Yet, David never faltered. He saw victory where others, much stronger than he, saw only defeat. David’s P.O.V. was different from that of his countrymen despite looking at the same challenge. Because of his difference in perspective, God gave him a great victory.

We all face giants. How you respond to yours depends on your point of view. Instead of fearing the circumstances, look to God and recognize the victory on the other side of the challenge.

*always*

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Strength In Weakness

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2 Corinthians 12:9

“’But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.”

It doesn’t naturally or logically make any sense that Jesus chooses to use us in our weakness. But, from a spiritual standpoint, that weakness within us is exactly what he wants. Think about it: if God takes our weaknesses and uses them to minister to others—through us—can we honestly say, “Look at what I just did”?

I hate the sound of my own voice, outside of my head. Yet, I sing when he tells me to. I’m afraid of crowds. But, I charge toward the alter if God calls me to it, right in front of a full congregation. I second guess my written work all the time. But, God continues to flow through my words. Folks, I’m a coward by nature; always afraid of what someone else might think of me; always afraid of my human inadequacies. But, the Lord uses my cowardice and transforms it into a strength I don’t possess on my own. Through his power, I’m able to do marvelous things.

You’re not the only one afraid to step out on faith. Whatever your secret talent is, God wants to use it to glorify his kingdom. You simply have to be willing to give him your weakness. That’s what the Apostle Paul was saying. In boasting of his own weaknesses, he recognized his willingness to give himself completely to the Lord.

  • Jim, don’t be afraid to share your music. It’s time. God will love your sound.
  • Gus, it’s time to write. Jesus will smile on your heart displayed and shared on paper.
  • Mike, it’s time to claim headship of your household, brother. God won’t allow you to fail.
  • Kovan, you’re becoming the husband and father you were meant to be.

*always*

My True Story – For Tasha

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Tasha,

What I am about to share with you is a true story. It was written in dramatic fashion simply because I’m a writer at heart, and that’s just what I do. But, make no mistake: the events played out in our marriage and ultimately led us to a life of love in Christ Jesus.

Tasha, the devil will stop at absolutely nothing in his efforts to destroy a marriage. After all, if he can get to the parents, the children will most likely be affected as well. “Steal, kill and destroy” is not just some snappy catchphrase, sister. That’s exactly what the enemy plans for marriages and relationships.

Sister, I want you to fight for your marriage. When I say “fight”, I’m not talking about airing your private emotional reactions all over social media. Believe it or not, by doing that, you’re actually doing precisely what the enemy wants you to do! I’m talking about genuinely and diligently seeking the Lord’s guidance in all matters concerning your marriage. You’ve gotta pray unceasingly and trust in the Lord to work out what is good for you both. It’s the hardest task you will ever undertake, Tasha. Honestly, a lot of couples don’t make it. But those who survive the fire come through it stronger than ever.

And so, I want to share our story with you. Misty and I decided to share this story with the world last year. It was included as one of 40 testimonials published in a book called “Trials and Triumphs“. My prayer is that this story encourages you (and Zack) to dig in and fight for your marriage. You’ve both been through so much together. I believe that together, there is nothing the devil can throw at you both, that you cannot handle with God’s grace and mercy. This story is called “Going The Distance“.

————————————————————————————–

Hearing the family van park in the driveway, I typed out the last words of my text message. I pressed SEND, and stuffed the phone into my pocket. My wife, Misty, opened the front door, glanced in my direction, then diverted her eyes elsewhere.

“Hey,” she said, disinterested.

“’Sup,” I replied casually.

“So…can we talk? I have something on my mind.”

“Sure, what’s—” My phone buzzed. A return text had come in.

“No, not right now. Besides, someone needs you, obviously.” She pointed toward my buzzing pocket. “Maybe we can go out tomorrow, for a drink.”

As she walked away, I reached for the phone.

‘She’s a liar, and you need to leave her,’ read the message from a female colleague. Recently, I had taken to confiding in her regarding my marriage. ‘You can do so much better, Ennis. You deserve someone who can take care of you.’

The next day, Misty and I drove to the riverfront. We walked along the boardwalk making small talk for awhile.

“All right, we’re here, Smith.” I turned toward her. “What’s on your mind?”

“Our marriage,” she said solemnly. “I think…maybe…we should try separating for awhile.”

And there it was. We were now talking about the pink elephant in the living room.

“It’s really not… you. I just think I need time to myself to discover who I am, and where I need to be.” She stared out over the gray rippling waters of late fall.

I didn’t put up a fight. I agreed to the separation. In truth, I was tired of the nagging feeling that my wife might have embraced a life of infidelity. I had also begun to believe in the soothing words of my newfound confidant, who continuously shared her own marital problems with me. Our stories were similar, and I had come to view her as a shoulder to lean on.

Two days later, my fears were proven correct. The phone bill arrived. I scrutinized Misty’s cellphone portion and discovered dozens of calls made to a specific number over the past month. I dialed that number, and my heart sank when a familiar voice from her past answered the call. It was him. The man I’d had to deal with almost ten years past. Once again, it seemed he’d returned to her life. I couldn’t speak; could only end the call with a trembling hand. Hurt immediately turned to rage. I called her, demanding an explanation, and insisting on a divorce.

“I want you out of my house!” I yelled. “If you want to be with this idiot so badly, you can leave tonight. I’ll let the kids know you won’t be coming home.”

“You can’t take my kids a—” she started.

I abruptly ended the call. Spitefully, I gathered up our five children and announced our divorce. The three oldest were rocked to the core, understanding fully what that meant for the family. The youngest two didn’t understand. Having to explain divorce to my three- and six-year-old children only intensified my rage toward Misty.

She never left the house, and for a week, we tip-toed around one another. I spent most of my time drinking myself into a stupor to cope, while she openly continued her separate life. One weekend, we sat in our bedroom and talked candidly about our failing marriage.

“I can’t understand why you just can’t be honest with me,” I said.

“You want the truth? I don’t know why I don’t love you anymore,” she said. “I don’t even know why I see other men. That’s right; other men. It’s not just one. I think I love him, but I’m also seeing his best friend unbeknown to him. I can’t stop it.”

My knees buckled, and I collapsed to the floor. My pride broke and I cried out to God. In that instant I rationalized that this whole situation was payback for the thousands of indiscretions I had perpetuated over the years. I had once given my heart to the Lord, but had backslidden and become worse than before. I’d lied to my wife, behaved selfishly, cheated and stolen to get my way, so many times. I deserved everything that was transpiring now. My tears flowed and I pleaded with God for forgiveness. I apologized to Him for everything I had done.

Two weeks later, I found a small home to rent. My wife had settled for an upper flat to move into. As we packed our belongings and prepared to go our separate ways, she came to me one afternoon.

“Dear, are we doing the right thing?” Her eyes seemed so sincere, but emotionally, I had already departed from her.

“Yeah, I think we are. People divorce every day. The kids will adapt.”

“Can we try one last time? I think maybe we should give church a try.”

I was appalled at the idea. It was the fact that she had come up with it. I stalled for time, having already fixed my mind on starting a new life without her.

“Sure. I guess a few visits wouldn’t hurt.”

Six months later, Jesus recaptured my heart. Up to that day, we had church hopped until settling on a large congregational Pentecostal church. I struggled to accept the worship music, and often fought against the messages of the pastor. Because of my hard-heartedness, our marriage sputtered along slowly. By all appearances, we were fine: still in the same house together, still one big family. But, we each fought our personal demons, maintaining one foot in the world while trying out Christianity. And then it happened.

I attended a men’s ministry meeting, one Wednesday evening. The speaking guest, Bill,  was the author of a small book entitled, 30 Minutes in Hell. During the altar call, I reluctantly approached, fell to my knees and immediately felt the sensation of burning pressure fighting to remain over me. I remember pounding my fists on the altar. Bill approached and laid a hand on my shoulder.

“Woo!” he screamed. “Brother, I don’t know what you’ve got going on but some burden you’ve carried for a long time is lifting off you, right now. Don’t fight it! Let that thing go!”

It was hard, but I did. I released years’ worth of misguided anger against my wife, that very night. God set me free, and almost immediately I saw a change in our marriage.

On January 31, 2010, Misty and I were baptized together. For a few months afterward, Satan came against us with vengeance. Misty struggled to severe soul ties with other men, and I struggled with forgiveness, drinking, and releasing my own negative ties. But we maintained our dedication to the Lord and He has continued to strengthen our marriage and family.

Recently, I got the chance to witness our two youngest children, now seven and ten years old, raise their hands unabashedly in worship to the Lord. I cried tears of joy, knowing the Lord blesses and keeps us.

On our return home from the two-day children’s rally, my wife wrapped her arms around me and hugged me close. “I didn’t realize how much I loved you until you were gone away from me.”

“Me too. I really missed you.”

Today, I’m giving God the praise for helping us to go the distance.

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Fight for your marriage, Tasha. Satan is the father of lies and we cannot defeat him on our own. Ephesians 6:12 says, “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.”

Tasha, you have to recognize that this is THE battle of your life! Your faith comes down to right here and right now. Dig deep and seek the Lord’s Divine counsel. He will tell you what needs to be done, and he will walk you through his will, Tasha.

I’m praying for you and Zack, sister.