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Beauty for Ashes. Isaiah 61:3

When my Bride and I were scheduled to get married, we were at church, and we had gone up to the front for prayer, and we were both feeling a bit excited and anxious as well. The lady who was praying for us, she prayed this prayer from Isaiah 61:3, God, give them the beauty the need for the ashes that have been on their life. Help them to rise up together, as the set out on a new adventure together. For us, it was confirmation for the both of us, at the time, and now, it is very real to us again, but for different reasons, and now, Our Creator is about to do something new and great in our lives together and in our marriage.

Isaiah 61:3 says, “to console those who mourn in Zion, to give them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness that they may be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified.”

Isn’t it beautiful that God says He can give you beauty for ashes? We love that. I think we concentrate on the beauty, but unless you give Him your ashes, you don’t get the beauty. There is a substitution plan here. There is a plan where you give Him your ashes. Then He, in return, gives you His beauty. We hold onto our ashes and wonder, Why doesn’t my life change? Where is His beauty? Well, where are your ashes? You held on to them and He couldn’t give you His beauty.

What are ashes? Ashes, I believe, are the wounded parts of our lives. Everybody has wounds; everybody has ashes–and all kinds of them. Sometimes they happen with a family member. There can just be every kind of a thing–a mate, your children, your job, your church. Ashes happen every place. Everybody gets wounded.

I think the hardest wounds to turn to the Lord are the ones you wounded yourself with when you have done stupid things.

When something is burnt by fire, what you have left is ashes; a soft, greyish-black powdery substance. Imagine how a person who has ashes rubbed all over his face would look.

In the spiritual realm, the devil rubs spiritual ashes on people. He can rub spiritual ashes on a person’s face, marriage, business, job application, or visa application. A single lady for instance who has spiritual ashes rubbed on her, would appear so unattractive to potential suitors.

Spiritual ashes signify or symbolize 4 things:

  1. A mark of disfavour
  2. Loss
  3. Spiritual dryness, emptiness, or death
  4. Mourning, grief, or sorrow

God promises us in Isaiah 61:3 that He will give us a crown of beauty instead of ashes. In the place of prayer, we are going to address everything in our lives that represents spiritual ashes.

PRAYER POINTS:

  • Father, please forgive me for every sin I have been indulging in that has robbed me of your beauty and glory.

Sin is a type of spiritual ashes that covers a person with filth and dirt.

  • Father, by the blood of Jesus, remove any ashes in my life that came as a result of besetting sins in my life. Let the cleansing power in the blood of Jesus avail for me today.
  • Wind of God, blow off every spiritual dust covering my life.
  • Father, remove spiritual ashes from every area of my life and replace it with your divine beauty and glory.  As you cover me with your glory, let uncommon favour be my portion (Esther 2, 12 -13, 15-17).
  • Lord, restore every good thing I have lost by evil fires the enemy sent into my life. Restore virtues, opportunities, promotions, breakthroughs and blessings I lost through evil spiritual fires.
  • Father, in a mighty dimension, release the fire of the Holy Spirit on my life. Set my spiritual life; my prayer life, bible study, faith and ministry on fire that there will be no room for spiritual ashes in my life. Make me a flame of fire for you not someone who is spiritually dry and weak. Let my spiritual life be alive with your fire not dead with ashes (Hebrews 1:7).
  • Father, baptize me afresh with the Holy Spirit. Fill me with the fire of the Holy Spirit so I am untouchable to any evil fire, dart or arrow (Daniel 3:26-27, Psalm 105:15).
  • I stand against every evil conspiracy and oath that has been taken to cut short my life or the lives of my family members (Acts 23:12). 
  • I declare that I shall live and not die. My family members will not mourn over me this year, I will not mourn over any family member.
  • O Lord, give me beauty for ashes. Turn my mourning to dancing. I refuse to wear garments of mourning, sadness and sorrow (Psalm 30:11).
  • Father, this year and beyond, let my life be full of celebrations, thanksgiving and rejoicing (Jeremiah 30:19). 

Rebuilding Trust with your Spouse…

Trust in an intimate relationship is rooted in feeling safe with another person. Infidelity, lies, or broken promises can severely damage the trust between a husband and wife. That, however, does not necessarily mean that a marriage can’t be salvaged. Although rebuilding trust can be challenging when there is a significant breach, it is, in fact, possible if both partners are committed to the process.

Picking Up the Pieces

It takes much time and effort to re-establish the sense of safety you need for a marriage to thrive and continue to grow. Recovery from the trauma caused by a break in trust is where many couples who want to get back on track can get stuck.

Research has shown that couples must address the following five sticking points in order to effectively move past a breach of trust:1

  • Knowing the details
  • Releasing the anger
  • Showing commitment
  • Rebuilding trust
  • Rebuilding the relationship

Whether you were the offending partner or the betrayed, to rebuild the trust in your marriage, both of you must renew your commitment to your marriage and to one another.

Know the Details

Even in seemingly clear-cut cases of betrayal, there are always two sides. The offending partner should be upfront and honest with information, in addition to giving clear answers to any and all questions from their partner. This will give the betrayed party a broader understanding of the situation. What happened, when, and where? What feelings or problems may have contributed to this situation? What were the mitigating circumstances?

Release the Anger 

Even minor breaches of trust can lead to mental, emotional, and physical health problems. Partners may have trouble sleeping or diminished appetite. They may become irritable over small things or be quick to trigger.

While it may be tempting to stuff all of the anger and emotions down, it is imperative that betrayed partners tune in and reflect on all the feelings that they have. Consider the impact of your partner’s betrayal on you and others. Reflect on how life has been disrupted and all the questions and doubts that are now emerging. Make your partner aware of all these feelings.

Even the offending partner is encouraged to express any feelings of resentment and anger they may have been harboring since before the incident.

Show Commitment

Both parties, especially the betrayed, may be questioning their commitment to the relationship and wondering if the relationship is still right for them or even salvageable.

Acts of empathy—sharing pain, frustration, and anger; showing remorse and regret; and allowing space for the acknowledgement and validation of hurt feelings—can be healing to both parties.

Building off of this, defining what both sides require from the relationship can help give partners the understanding that proceeding the relationship comes with clear expectations that each person, in moving ahead, has agreed to fulfilling.

Both parties must work to define what is required to stay committed to making the relationship work. In communicating this, avoid using words that can trigger conflict (e.g., always, must, never, should) in describing what you see, expect, or want from your spouse. Instead, choose words that facilitate open conversation and use non-blaming “I” statements.

For example, favor “I need to feel like a priority in your life” over “You never put me first.”

Rebuilding Trust

Together, you must set specific goals and realistic timelines for getting your marriage back on track. Recognize that rebuilding trust takes time and requires the following:

  • Decide to forgive or to be forgiven. 
  • Make a conscious decision to love by trying to let go of the past. While achieving this goal fully may take some time, committing to it is what’s key.
  • Be open to self-growth and improvement. 
  • You can’t repair broken trust with just promises and statements of forgiveness. The underlying causes for the betrayal need to be identified, examined, and worked on by both spouses for the issues to stay dormant.
  • Be aware of your innermost feelings and share your thoughts. 
  • Leaving one side to obsess about the situation or action that broke the trust is not going to solve anything. Instead, it is important to openly discuss the details and express all feelings of anger and hurt.
  • Want it to work. 
  • There is no place in the process for lip service or more lies. Be honest about and true to your wishes.

Once the above points have been taken to heart by both sides, talk openly about your goals and check in regularly to make sure you are on track.

For the Offender

As the person who compromised the relationship, it may be hard or even painful to be reminded of your wrongdoings. Remember, though, that the above steps are essential to the process of repair and recovery. As you work on them:

  • If you are the one in your marriage who lied, cheated, or broke the trust, your partner needs you to show that the errant behavior is gone by changing your behavior. That means no more secrets, lies, infidelity, or anything else of the sort. Be completely transparent, open, and forthcoming from now on.
  • Be honest. Work to understand and state why the bad behavior occurred. Statements such as “I don’t know” don’t instill confidence or help you get to the root of the issue.
  • Take responsibility for your own actions and decisions; defensiveness will only perpetuate the conflict or crisis. Justifying your behavior based on what your spouse is doing or has done in the past is also not productive.

For the Betrayed

While moving forward hinges a lot on what your partner is able to show you, remember that work that you do also has a lot to do with your potential success. As you proceed, day by day:

  • Actively work on understanding why and what went awry in the relationship before the betrayal actually took place. While this won’t help you forget what happen, it may help you get some answers you need to move on.
  • As hard as it may be, once you have committed to forgiving your partner, work on providing positive responses and reinforcement to help give your partner consistent feedback to things that please you or make you happy.
  • Know that it’s also OK if you do not want to continue the relationship after considering the above steps or beginning them. Just be honest with yourself, and your partner and don’t go through the motions just because you feel that is what is expected of you as a devoted partner.

For the Couple

While there’s independent work to do, remember to:

  • Listen completely to one another.
  • Remind one another that you each deserve open and honest answers to your questions about the betrayal.

Rebuilding the Relationship

Once couples have committed to rebuilding trust, they must work on treating the relationship like it is a completely new one. Both sides must ask for what they really need and not expect their partner to simply know what it is they want.

Do not withhold trust in this new relationship, even though it is with the same person. Withholding trust out of fear or anger will prevent you from emotionally reconnecting with your partner. This keeps your relationship from moving forward in a healthy way.

Instead, work toward rebuilding the relationship by doing the work required in building trust and rebuilding a mutually supportive connection. Come to an agreement about what a healthy relationship looks like to you both. Some examples include establishing date nights, working on a five year, ten-year and even 20-year plan together, finding your love languages, and checking in with your partner about how you feel the relationship is doing or if it is living up to your expectations.

Remember that all relationships require work. Even the closest of couples have to work hard at renewing the spark while working to grow in the same direction together, year after year.

A Study on my Spiritual Journey: My Creator has given me everything I need for Life and godliness…

His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness (2 Peter 1:3; NIV).

“Everything you need for life.” Doesn’t that sound a bit ambitious, even pretentious?

What do you need for life? Wisdom for raising kids. Courage in the face of opposition. Peace under pressure. Faith in the face of tragedy. Comfort in bereavement. Love when you feel alone. Healing when you are wounded. Strength when you are overwhelmed. Where can you get everything you need for life?

I would never have chosen this title if it were not for Peter’s words: “His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness” (v3). Peter is making an extraordinary claim: In Jesus Christ you will find everything that you need for life!

Jesus is sufficient for ALL of life

This challenges the way people often think about Christianity. We often view our lives as a series of compartments: My work—that’s one area. My family—that’s another. My pleasure—that’s what I do just for me and for my own joy. There’s my faith—which is a very important part of my life. And then there are my hopes and dreams

Most folks in church would agree that Jesus Christ has everything we need for faith. He’s enough to fill that compartment, but some are not sure that he has everything we need for life! Peter presents us with completely different picture. You will find in Jesus Christ not just everything you need for faith, but everything that you will face in life!

Think about what that means for getting through life in middle school or high school–your first experience of discovering that the world is unfair. Peter says Jesus Christ is everything you need for dealing with this. Your first experience of rejection, of finding yourself outside the group, Christ is everything you need for that. You will experience struggles with your own moods. Jesus is everything you need.

God’s divine power has given you everything you need for life in middle school and high school through your knowledge of Jesus Christ. Everything you need for life in old age. Everything you need for married life. Everything you need for single life. Everything you need for your mid-life crisis. Where you discover that what you have done is less than you thought. You look at how long you have to go and it’s less than you thought too.

We are talking about life in all of its fullness here, and Peter is saying to us that Jesus Christ is sufficient, not only for faith, but for all of life. If you can see that He is sufficient, not just for a corner of your life, but for the whole of it, this will change how you follow Jesus Christ.

“Godliness” means God-centered living

His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness (v3).

Peter has a particular kind of life in mind. He talks about “life and godliness.” A godly life is more, rather than less. Godliness simply means a life that is centered on God. In Jesus Christ you will find everything you need for a life that flows out of a passion for God. The life he’s talking about is not an artificial one, where you try to conform to certain religious expectations and try to be a good person. No, it is a life animated and energized by the power of God for everything you need. And the freedom and the joy for the kind of life you will find in your knowledge of Jesus Christ.

By any standards this is one of the most amazing statements in the entire Bible. It headlines what God has to say to us through this letter and it takes us to the heart of authentic Christianity.

What is Christian Faith?

To whom is Peter speaking? He says right at the beginning that he is writing to “those who through the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ have received a faith as precious as ours” (v1). Peter is writing to those people who have “a faith as precious as ours.” This immediately raises the question: What kind of faith is that? Because it is only to those who have this kind of faith that the promise is given: You have everything you need for life.

Christian faith is faith in Jesus Christ

Notice three things that Peter affirms here:

  1. Jesus is God: “Our God … Jesus Christ” (v1). If someone says: “Jesus is never referred to as “God” in the Bible,” show them 2 Peter, or John’s gospel where Thomas falls before the risen Lord Jesus, and says “My Lord and my God!” (John 20:28).
  2. Jesus is Savior: “Our God and Savior Jesus Christ” (v1). The world teaches you to have confidence in yourself. The Bible teaches you to have confidence in him. I know that I will mess up in many ways through my life, but I am quite sure that Jesus Christ will not mess up on his work, which is to save me and on the last day present me before the Father without fault and with great joy.
  3. Jesus is Lord: “The knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord” (v2). Christian faith is confidence in Jesus Christ. It is confidence in His ability to bring you through every circumstance of life. I know that I will face many trials and many temptations and many circumstances of life that are too great for me. But I know that they are not too great for him. He is Lord over the darkest temptations and the strongest devils.

He is Savior. He is Lord. He is God. He is with me and he is for me. Christian faith is confidence in Jesus Christ. That’s why we want him to be at the center of everything we do in worship. That’s why he’s at the center of the Bible.

Christian faith is apostolic

A faith as precious as ours (v1).

We often speak about personal faith. That’s good, because you have to believe for yourself; nobody else can believe for you. But Christian faith is more than personal; it is apostolic. To be a Christian means that you share the same faith as the apostles. We often ask people, “Do you have a personal faith?” It might be better to ask, “Do you have an apostolic faith? Do you share the faith of the Apostles? Do you believe what they believed?”

What matters is not that you have “a faith” (as if you had to make up your own), but that you hold to “the faith” (the apostolic faith), the faith that was “once for all entrusted to the saints” (Jude v3). The apostolic faith is the only one worth having! For the promises of the gospel belong to the people who share the same faith as the Apostles.

Christian faith is God’s gift and His command

…to those… who have received a faith as precious as ours (2 Peter 1:1).

You received this faith. You did not generate it. The apostle Paul said the same thing in different words: “It is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God” (Eph. 2:8).

Faith is also a command that we obey: Jesus said, “Have faith in God” (Mark 11:22). That’s a command! “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you shall be saved” (Acts 16:31). That’s a command; God calls us to do this. Faith is God’s gift and his command.

Have you ever thought about how strange it is when a preacher says to an unbeliever: “Put your faith in the Lord Jesus Christ”? How can an unbeliever put his or her faith in Jesus? If you are an unbeliever, then by definition you do not believe. And if you do not believe, then you don’t have any faith to put in Jesus!

So how can anyone ever be saved? The disciples asked that question once, and Jesus said “With man it is impossible but … all things are possible with God” (Mark 10:27). God is able to create faith where it does not exist. He created the world out of nothing, and he is able to create a faith that you can go and exercise.

It is a strange tension that faith is both a gift and a command. When Augustine understood this he said to God, “Command what you will, only give what you command!”

It is important to understand something about Augustine: God was calling him to change, but he did not have the capacity to change. “Lord, you are absolutely free to issue any command you choose. But please understand this, Lord. I don’t have what it takes to do what you command. If you command me to have faith, that’s fine with me. But I don’t have faith, so you need to give it to me.”

If you are not yet a Christian, this is a great place to begin. You can come to God today as Augustine did. You can say: “You command me to have faith, and I don’t have it. So give me what I do not possess. Make me what I am not.” Jesus said “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you” (Matt. 7:7). That’s how you come to God: Nothing in my hand I bring, simply to your cross I cling.

If you come to God like that today, it will change your life. You are admitting that you cannot save yourself. You are casting yourself on Him. You are agreeing with Jesus that your salvation is impossible apart from God. There’s a strange irony here: The first step of faith is to admit that you do not have it, and to ask God to give you what you do not have.

Christian faith comes through Jesus’ own glory and goodness

Our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness (v3).

What would make an unbelieving person want to follow Jesus today? The first reason is his goodness—the sheer excellence of his life, the abundance of his grace and kindness. The second reason is his glory—the total impact of all that he is. That’s how Jesus draws people—he calls us through his own glory and goodness.

Think about how this relates to evangelism. If we want to see people follow Christ, we should make much of his glory and his goodness. Make him the focus of your Sunday school class, or small group. Keep him central when you share the gospel. Remember that the gospel is not about you and your faith. It is about Jesus and his glory.

Jesus said, “When I’m lifted up, I’ll draw people to myself” (John 12:32). Faith is formed as Christ is exalted. When you see his glory and goodness you will be compelled to follow him.

What Does God Promise to Those Who Have This Faith?

By his own glory and goodness… [Jesus Christ] has given us his very great and precious promises. (2 Peter 1:3-4).

Participation in the divine nature

He has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature (v4).

What does that mean? How can you participate in the divine nature? Either you would somehow have to enter into God, which the Bible never suggests happens. Or God would somehow have to enter into you. The Bible clearly teaches that when a person comes to faith in Jesus Christ, God’s Spirit enters the life of that person.

When Peter says “you may participate in the divine nature” (v4), he is talking about our union with Christ. This is the same thing the Apostle Paul is speaking of when he says: “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me” (Gal. 2:20). Our Lord puts it in a picture “I am the vine you are the branches. If a man remains in me he will bear much fruit” (John 15:5). These are all different ways of talking about a shared life.

Many of us think that we have all that God has to offer, but all we have is forgiveness for the past, heaven for the future, and a great void in between. I want you to grasp this: “His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness” (v3). The gospel is more than forgiveness and heaven. It is God’s power and presence in your life today.

A man by the name of Henry Scougal put it this way: The life of God in the soul of man. That’s the promise of the Gospel. That means new power, new desire, and new capacity.

When we are in heaven we will see Jesus in all of his glory. We will say “I knew he was great, but not this great! And to think the he was with us all the time on earth! Why didn’t we have more faith? Why didn’t we make more progress?”

Escape from corruption in the world

He has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may… escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires (v4).

What’s wrong with the world? Where does the corruption in the world come from? What would need to change if we are to have a world of freedom and justice and love and joy?

There are many answers to these questions. Some people will tell you that the corruption in the world comes from lack of education, lack of opportunity, or lack of resources. The Apostles would not agree with that.

Peter says the corruption in the world is caused by evil desires. That’s why you find corruption in people who have education, opportunity, and resources, as well as those who don’t. What evil desires are we talking about? Envy, greed, lust, pride, and laziness—to name just a few. These desires are in us, and they corrupt us.

Teenagers: Do you ever find yourself overcome by moods, and you say to yourself, “Where did that come from? Why was I like that?” Do you ever find yourself looking at another person—at what they have, and their success? It eats away at you and you say, “Why is my life not like that?” You don’t want to be like that, but you can’t seem to help it. There’s something going on inside you. It spoils you. It corrupts you, but you can’t get free from it.

Understand your position

What does Peter mean when he says we can “escape” the corruption in the world? I am a Christian but I have an ongoing battle with lust or greed or pride or envy. What do you mean escape? I struggle with evil desires all the time!

Some of you will have seen the film, The Fugitive.[1] A doctor is framed for the murder of his wife. He is sentenced to jail, but while they are moving him to a penitentiary there is an accident. The bus rolls off the road, and in the chaos that follows, the character, played by Harrison Ford, escapes. He becomes “the fugitive.”

He hits the road with a mission: to find the truth and to establish justice. He moves from place to place, constantly in danger of being apprehended. He finds himself in a great struggle. He is relentlessly pursued. It seems like the whole world is against him, but he is not in chains. He is free.

That’s your position as a Christian believer. Understand your position and it will make sense of your experience: I am the fugitive. I have been released from captivity to sin and darkness by the power of Jesus Christ. I’ve escaped.

But sin and temptation are pursuing me. Satan, who once held me captive, is always after me. He is like a roaring lion seeking someone to devour (1 Peter 5:8). Satan wants to get you back in chains, but God is with you and He will protect you. Sin is your enemy, but it is no longer your master (Rom. 6:14).

You will be hounded by the world, the flesh, and the devil all your life. You are in for a life-long struggle, but you are not in chains. You are not a captive. You have escaped! You can move. You can act! And this freedom is God’s gift to you in the Gospel.

Hear God’s promise

I want to speak to Christians who feel defeated. I want you to hear this promise: By his power, and through Jesus Christ, God’s promise to you in the Gospel is that you should escape the corruption caused by evil desires. Sin shall no longer be your master.

You will not escape the battle with evil desires. But if you are in Christ, you have escaped their power over you. Stop telling yourself you are in chains when God has set you free.

I thank God for this promise. A gospel that offers forgiveness but not power isn’t big enough for life. Many people have heard a gospel that is about forgiveness for the past and heaven for the future, but it says nothing about God’s power to change your life now.

That’s why there are many who attend church and profess faith, but never grow. They remain stuck in the same failures, gripped by the same fears, trapped in the same despair.

Peter says “Let me tell you about a faith that is big enough for life. Let me tell you about God’s power that gives us everything we need for life and godliness. That power will come into your life through Jesus Christ who calls you by his own glory and goodness.”

And here is his promise: his Spirit will live in you, giving you new power, new desire, and new capacity, so that you will escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires! Sin shall no longer be your master!

Fundraiser to help get Tyler's Service Dog.

Tyler, he is 11 years old. and his mom, Jill.

Help us Spread the Word. (Please Share).

4 Paws For Ability (Ohio)  is training a multipurpose service dog for my son Tyler (age 11). Tyler has severe non-verbal autism, Type 1 Diabetes, seizures,  paralyzing migraines & ADHD. Tyler is an amazing young man. So tenderhearted. So very caring. The love that he is able to show, is simply amazing. One of my favorite memories with Tyler, I was in my home office working, and he came in and sat down in the other office chair, I turned around, he saw me, laid his head back, on the head rest, and was pretending to be asleep, snoring and all. I laughed, and he smiled, peeked at me, so I laid my head back on my head rest, and pretended that I was sleep as well. He giggled, but kept snoring. 🙂 Such a fun little moment that we shared together.

Tyler has amazing balance, when at the park, he would run on these log like barriers, at the sand box area, and his balance, was awesome! Made me nervous to watch him at times. But there was no worries.

Another memory that is cherished in my heart, is when he would be walking by me, and bump into me, his way of asking for a quick hug. Then he would be happy and on his way.

Like stated before, Tyler, like his momma, has a heart of gold and very tenderhearted.

If there is anything you all can to help Tyler get his service dog by donating, that would simply be amazing. And, his momma and the boys would be extremely grateful!

4 Paws will have Tyler’s dog ready early 2020, but we must get to Ohio & train with the dog for 2 weeks. Tyler cannot fly so I need to rent an RV and pay for a caregiver to join us. The cost needed includes RV rental, fees, gas,  food and caregiver expenses.

Thank you for reading Tyler’s story and for your act of kindness in donating and passing his story on.

FundRaising Event

Please Share and Help Us Spread the Word

Please send us a comment. What country you are reading this from, and if you are able to share our little story.

Many many many heart felt thanks from:

Jill Johnson, Tyler and Jesse Renfro.

7 Spiritual Warfare Prayers for Marriage Restoration

Keep It Simple

Ephesians 6:10, Psalm 91:10


Oh Lord, we shall be strong in You and in the power of Your might. We pray that our marriage will be fully restored, because we are clothed in Your righteousness. We are winners and not losers; we are Your child and therefore no harm shall come near us. Every dividing spirit be cast down in Jesus Name, because our marriage has been ordained by God as an example of unity according to the will and purpose of the Lord Our Creator, Amen.

Keep It Simple

Romans 12:12, Matthew 19:26, Isaiah 43:19


Dear Lord, we bless you for this marriage and we thank You that in this season of spiritual warfare, You are our rock and shield. Father, we pray that you will teach us how to be patient in tribulation. I declare that you will make a way in the wilderness because with You all things are possible. Father, because You are God of impossibilities, I speak life in this marriage in Jesus Name, Amen.

Galatians 5:22-23

Keep It Simple


Heavenly Father, I break the chord of destruction over my marriage right now in Jesus Name. I pray against the spirit of strife, confusion, discord. Let the spirit of Jezebel be destroyed in Jesus Name and we pray that the blood of Jesus will prevail over us. Let the spirit of tender-heartedness be released and the spirit of malice, hatred and unkindness be cast down in the Name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, Amen.

Zephaniah 1:4, Ezekiel 6:4


Oh Lord, the Highest God; there is none that is compared to You. In my distress, I call out to You because of the turmoil we are facing in our marriage. Lord, just as you stretched out Your hand against Judah and against the inhabitants of Jerusalem, I declare that You stretch out Your hand upon our marriage to bring restoration. Please do not allow our marriage to become desolate and I declare that the plans of Satanic Kingdoms will fall, in Jesus Name.

Hebrews 13:4


Heavenly Father, I come before You to request that You bring restoration in this marriage as You have joined us together as husband and wife. We pray against ‘marriage breaking spirits’ and those negative forces that try to destroy marital intimacy between husband and wife. We declare that this marriage divan shall be undefiled in Jesus Name. We thank You for restoration, Amen.

Genesis 2:24, Matthew 19:5


Father, You said “from the beginning of creation You made them male and female and it is for this reason, that a man shall leave his father and mother and shall cleave to this wife and the two shall become one flesh. Therefore, we come against the spirit of separation and declare that we shall come into agreement as husband and wife in Jesus Name. We pray that You will deal with our hearts and that we will carry a heart of forgiveness, love and care one for another. So, we stand against those things that come to hinder, wreck and devastate our marriage. We claim restoration in Jesus Name.

Mark 4:35-39


Dear Lord, I come to you in despair because this marriage right now is like a great windstorm, just like the windstorm in Mark 5:37, that arose and the waves that beat into the boat. Father, the spiritual windstorm is beating at every angle of our marriage. But Lord, just as You arose and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, “peace, be still”, we speak to the windstorm of our marriage, and declare that “peace, be still” in Jesus Name. Father, by faith, the wind shall cease and there will be a great calm over our marriage in Jesus Name.

A Marriage Restored

God, He Can Heal that which has become Broken. He can rebuild trust and bring help bring an increase in Faith and Restoration.

He wants to do that with Your Marriage.

It wasn’t supposed to be like this. Mark and Lynda Chapman had already overcome much worse — 10 years of Mark’s drinking, his lies and his manipulation. The endless cycle of tears and forgiveness, followed by more lies and manipulation. Confrontations that would have sent most spouses packing.

Through faith and prayer and support from loved ones, they’d managed to weather those dark, dysfunctional days and come out the other side; scarred and scathed but more committed to each other than ever.

So why now, after all they’d been through, were the Chapmans once again fighting over anything and everything?

“We couldn’t agree on the color of the grass,” Mark says. “It was constant bickering, arguing and general unhappiness. We were strong believers by this time, but we couldn’t find the solution.”

Mark hadn’t touched booze in years, but Lynda says it was like their marriage was “in the ditch again.”

“We even separated a couple times, for a week or so, thinking we just needed some distance or time apart,” Mark says. “We were starting to question if God even wanted us together.”

Out of desperation, Mark called his friend Tony Elrod. Mark told Tony what was going on at home and that he had no idea where to turn for help.

Fortunately for the Chapmans, Tony had an idea.

The early days

As newlyweds in 1986, Mark and Lynda lived in south Texas. “We had a great first five years of marriage,” Lynda says, “living the culture of tequila and the fast life on South Padre Island.”

By the early 1990s, the Chapmans had relocated to rural Indiana, where living amid the cornfields with a new baby brought a screeching halt to the young couple’s carefree lifestyle. Mark thought he was hiding his drinking, but Lynda knew. They began to fight — not just about the alcohol, but about everything.

Another argument, another baby, another move … this time closer to Indianapolis. Somewhere along the way, Lynda recalled the faith of her youth. Somehow she knew that God was their only hope. She began praying for Mark and their marriage.

The breaking point came on a Friday night in the fall of 2002. Mark’s birthday. They had another blowup, and this time Mark trapped Lynda in the bathroom.

“He never hurt me,” Lynda says, “but I knew it was time to leave and let God be in control.”

That night Mark drove away. When he came back, Lynda and the kids were gone. Two days later, alone in his truck in the parking lot of his children’s school, Mark bowed his head in surrender to God.

When she returned home, Lynda says, Mark was a different person — his desire for liquor supplanted with a drive to learn everything he could about his newfound faith.

Mark became the spiritual leader in our family,” Lynda says, “and he was determined to help others struggling with addiction.”

The Chapmans teamed up with local pastor Dan Johnson, and in 2006 they started a ministry for addicts and their families. Things seemed to be going well until late 2010, when the couple’s relationship started veering back into the ditch.

When things went from bad to worse, that’s when Mark decided to give Tony a call.

A fresh start

Turns out that Tony knew a guy — a board member for what is now the Focus on the Family Retreat Center. Based in Branson, Missouri, the retreat center is dedicated to restoring marriages in crisis through the three, four and five-day Hope Restored marriage intensive programs.

Mark and Lynda arrived in Branson in December 2011. During their three-day intensive session, the Chapmans learned how to stop giving into their fears, how to embrace their differences and how they’d failed to prioritize their relationship over work and ministry.

“I learned that, although I love Mark and am happy with him, I can’t look to him to fulfill my need for happiness,” Lynda says. “That comes from a relationship with God.”

The Chapmans say there is a night-and-day difference in their marriage today, and they want to encourage other couples struggling in their relationship. “Everyone needs help because marriage is frequently challenging and stressful,” Mark says.

And in case they ever forget what they learned, the Chapmans keep some reminders close by.

“When we were working with Robert [our counselor], he drew illustrations on large sticky pages,” Lynda says. “To this day, those posters hang on our bedroom wall as a reminder of how to take care of our marriage.”

There Is Still Hope for Your Marriage

You may feel that there is no hope for your marriage and the hurt is too deep to restore the relationship and love that you once had. The truth is, your life and marriage can be better and stronger than it was before. In fact, thousands of marriages, situations as complex and painful as yours, have been transformed with the help of professionals who understand where you are right now and care deeply about you and your spouse’s future. You can restore and rebuild your marriage through a personalized, faith-based, intimate program called, Hope Restored.

The Nature of Consequences

THE NATURE OF CONSEQUENCES

  Posted on October 26, 2019

I’ve been reading Proverbs all year. Over and over again, God says certain kinds of behavior will result in certain kinds of consequences. It may take a while to get there, but the fruit you get will ultimately reflect the seed you planted.

I think this is terribly important when you are talking about marriage.

Keep It Simple

Being unconcerned and unintentional about your marriage leaves your marriage vulnerable to a number of marriage-killing attitudes and circumstances.

Being thoughtful and intentional about growing your marriage means your marriage has a chance to survive … and even thrive.

Y’all, keep learning, growing, and investing in your marriage. It does take two to make a healthy, strong marriage, but when you do your part, you are doing what you can to make your marriage last for a lifetime and be worth the effort.

No marriage will last a lifetime if left on the backburner. Give your marriage your best investment, not your leftovers.  Mark & Jill Savage