Attractive Love

Last week marked a big victory! Audrey is holding an 11-day old baby girl. It was just six months prior that we first met this couple with divorce papers in hand, facing an unwanted reality of an affair resulting in a pregnancy. They had little to no hope but were willing to trust us to lead them to a future they could not see themselves.

After months of hard work, tears and sleepless nights this couple and their now three children are entering a new season of life. There are some tough days yet ahead but they are experiencing grace! They now see the promises and truth of God becoming their reality and it is glorious. That’s attractive love.

“So we are convinced that every detail of our lives is continually woven together to fit into God’s perfect plan of bringing good into our lives, for we are his lovers who have been called to fulfill his designed purpose.” ( Romans 8:28 Passion)

I’m honored to be sharing this story with you. It’s the attractive love of God that transforms one's heart, giving new purpose for life. The reality of the resurrection always has and always will fill the people of God with boldness to obey His word at great cost to themselves, for the good of all persons involved, and to the honor and worship of King Jesus.

“If you cling to your life, you will lose it; but if you give up your life for me, you will find it.” (Matt. 10:39 NLT)

Because of the NEW life we have in Jesus, I want people to be curious about why we’re kind, considerate and gracious. That’s attractive love.

People need to wonder why you value the broken, poor and marginalized and use your finances, life, and time to help them (even if they never change). That’s attractive love. People should marvel that your family is marked by mercy, forgiveness and is a haven of safety and belonging. That’s attractive love.

When you read the gospels, this incredible Jesus wants to give in exchange all he has for all of you. He isn’t asking for a part of your life, He invites you to, “come follow me.” He calls us to lifestyles that would make no sense without the reality of the resurrection. If there’s nothing more coming for us, then why should we risk anything? Why not try to find a way we can follow Jesus and lose nothing?

Our daily solution is to get your eyes off of ourself. Finding the truth of our identity in Christ allows one to make possible reconciliation with others. Following Jesus isn't a set of rules, it's a lifeline out of sin and destruction. The truth of the resurrection is the eternal future that Jesus has secured for us, that He promises for us and that He will bring to pass for us that will cause you to keep giving yourself away. That’s attractive love.

When reading the Bible I attempt to place myself within the story. One of the most impactful scenes is with Peter, one of Jesus’ closest followers. No one was more adamant and outspoken of his love and devotion and yet when confronted about his relationship with Jesus he denied that he ever knew him (Luke 22:54-62). 

No matter the strength of your devotion in a relationship we all need mercy. Jesus knew that it was crucial for Peter to know that He had chosen him. Peter needed to understand that although he had forsaken Jesus, Jesus had not forsaken him (Rom. 8:31-39). God is not asking you to make a promise you cannot keep. God is asking you to believe the promise that only He can keep.

“But Christ proved God’s passionate love for us by dying in our place while we were still lost and ungodly!” (Romans 5:8 Passion).
“Look with wonder at the depth of the Father’s marvelous love that he has lavished on us! He has called us and made us his very own beloved children.” (1John 3:1 Passion)

Thank you. For it is your faithfulness and generous support that helps rescue countless couples in need. Because of you we are able reach more with the true hope of the resurrection found in Jesus!

 

He is Alive therefore we live, 

 
 

Bob and Audrey

Living Without the Madman

Miracle Monday!

Last week we mentioned cherishing your prayer as we lead our 4 day Love Married Life Intensive. Well… faithful, faithful God! 

We enter these intensives knowing the diversity of the couple's backgrounds and the planned schedule for the week but how these ingredients will come together and the outcome is always amazing. We prepare and plan but ultimately it is living surrendered as you trust God to orchestrate and heal the broken hearted.

So today - It’s Miracle Monday, the beginning of yet another week and I’m still basking in the victories won. Thank you, everyone, for your part in helping us fight for marriages and families. 

Allowing space for change is essential when you experience a healed and transformed heart. Everything in your world may feel familiar yet you know you’re not the same. When you choose CHANGE, your future is really a reconditioned or improved version of the past. But when you experience TRANSFORMATION there is an assertion of our actions that are now aligned with Truth that begins to co-labor with God. Hope is ignited and your future can be described and realized as you live free from the constraints of the past.

This profound transformation is seen in the life of the Gadarene Madman as told in (Matthew 8:28-34, Mark 5:1-20, Luke 8:26-37). Upon meeting Jesus, he falls at His feet, and worships Him, and cries out, “What have I to do with You, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I implore You by God that you do not torment me” (Mark 5:6). Jesus mercifully drives out the demons and restores this man completely. He is no longer the Gadarene madman, but we now see him free “sitting and clothed and in his right mind” (Mark 5:15). Those who had herded the swine saw what happened, and they went into the village and reported all of this to the people, and they came and saw, and “were afraid.” They then beg Jesus to leave.

This “madman” played a very key role in the community of the Gadarenes. Jesus has in fact, just annihilated the social order of the village. The entire village functioned by placing their demons on the madman. If he no longer functions in this way, there is no way left of establishing and maintaining cohesion amongst the people. The “glue” of the community is gone. The community cannot function without the madman to blame and to bear the hurts, dysfunctions, wounds etc. of everybody else.

Sadly this happens in our families today. Everyone in a family unit learns to adapt and even be dependent upon the patterns of abuse, not just the one with the identified substance problem. If he (or she) stopped partaking, the entire rest of the family would likely go under a type of withdrawal. In the text of the Gadarene, we see the entire community relating to one another by projecting their own “demons” unto him and living in a relationship of hatred against him.

Not everyone will immediately celebrate you living transformed. What is needed is all that Jesus came to bring, which is that by the power of the Holy Spirit, we move from living in fear and blaming others to living confidently in our true identity found in God. Living rooted in love and learning to live as one who connects and never divides brings love in humility and grace to all who meet you.

This now free Gadarene wanted to travel with Jesus, “but Jesus sent him home, saying, “No, go back to your family, and tell them everything God has done for you.” So he went all through the town proclaiming the great things Jesus had done for him (vs. 38, 39).

I pray for great wisdom as you continue to speak of the great things Jesus has done in your life. And I also pray for healing for your entire clan as you leave the fear dance of codependency and learn to walk in love.

Together in Hope, BOB

Seeking God's Opinion

“A fool is in love with his own opinion,
But wisdom means being teachable” (Proverbs 12:15 TPT)

There are many things I am in love with.  Sunshine. Jesus. My kids. Peace. My Mom and Dad. Smiling. Bob (especially Bob)…but I really do NOT want to be in love with my own opinion.  In fact, I want to learn to listen without wondering what I’m going to say next.  I want to surrender my ideas to the Lord.  I want God’s opinion.  And I want to be gentle and see other’s opinions as a gift to me – offering an opportunity to grow and learn and be rich in wisdom.  

A wise person answers the questions that people are actually asking!  

Yesterday I was with people that I love, and they were pushing each other’s buttons, and because I know some of their history and the buried pain that they carry, I thought I knew the answer and solution to this relationship hiccup!  Too bad I didn’t think ahead before I approached them and told my solution.  Too bad I tried to control the situation from my own strength!  I think you can guess that it didn’t turn out the way I originally dreamed it would. It all ended up “okay” but I learned my lesson (again) that it’s important to be aware of over-helping, and I simply do not want to be in love with my opinion of people of how they can get their hearts healed, and rather patiently bless them on their own journey!

A wise person asks God questions because He loves us with accuracy!

Just as Moses was called a “friend of God” we have the invitation to have an intimate conversation with God and walk and talk with him about the places we get hurt and overwhelmed.  This morning, as I was confessing to God my weakness in this area, I felt the comfort of the Holy Spirit.  If I felt frustrated because I felt I “had an answer” for someone’s hurting heart, and they didn’t want to know about it, can you imagine how He feels?  He has the answer for every single person!  He knows the past, He knows exactly where every person needs unconditional love the most, and He deeply loves all of us.  Yet, He patiently allows us to take our journey, make blunders until we finally ask Him the questions that will lead to our freedom.  

Instead of being frustrated with others not asking the right questions, I choose to be wise and ask God the important questions and surrender to His opinion on a very regular basis.  

Today is my day to hear the Lord’s opinion for the decisions I make, the places I go, and the thoughts that I think.  I am in love with my Heavenly Father who disciplines me because He loves me so much.   I desire His ideas, His ways, and His thoughts.

Love and Hugs,
Audrey

 

P.S.  Our approach to helping marriages is to ask couples the important questions, possibly questions they have never thought about, for the purpose of deep connection.  

We really appreciate your prayers as we begin our 4-day Marriage Intensive this week.  Couples have sacrificed to get here, some as their last hope for their family.  We know that with God, ALL THINGS ARE POSSIBLE.   Thank you for investing in these families by praying that we will communicate God’s wisdom, hope, and solutions.  We are trusting God to heal broken hearts and relationships like only He can!  (www.lovemarriedlife.com)  #fightforfamilies

God Delights in You!

“How lovely are Thy dwelling places, O Lord of hosts!” (Psalm 84:1) 

What does this scripture mean to you?  It means YOU are His dwelling place and you are so lovely!  Bob and I have always thought of this scripture as referencing a place,  location or real estate… and we have been missing the treasure!  To think, that you and I… God has chosen to call us “His location”.   

God will never turn out one individual like another.  He loves to create a new masterpiece, and you are His workmanship.  The simple message to you today is, you cannot be replaced.  Nobody can be a representation of Jesus the same as you.  

As the resurrection life of Jesus wakes you up every morning, the Holy Spirit is making you whole… perfect… more and more like Him every day.  That’s the power of resurrection life, it resurrects you into a unique wonder!  You are, and you are becoming the wonder of creation that God intended you to be when He first “dreamed you up”.  

If any of us were the same, one of us wouldn’t be necessary. Think about the value and importance of your life with your unique personality and expressions.  Instead of being frustrated with your weaknesses and core fears, invite God into those places, and allow Him to love you with accuracy.  

Just this morning we were ministering to a couple, and the wife said, “Sometimes my extreme sense of loyalty can drive me to be possessive and jealous, and I don’t want to be like that, but I can’t help myself, it’s just part of my personality!”  So, what do we do in a situation that seems so negative?

We paused to reflect the loyalty of God – faithfulness is His very character! We could encourage this precious woman with the reality that God is reflecting that very characteristic through her!  It is not negative to be loyal, and love deeply.  The only issue comes when we attach fear to that trait and allow it to form a lie that we believe in our heart.  

We shared a beautiful moment when the Holy Spirit desired to take this precious woman to that place of fear and say, “Let me love you here. I am loyal just like you.  I love very deeply. I always choose you.  You are safe in the security of my loyalty towards you.  Let me love you and chase away the fear of rejection and the fear of abandonment.  Rest in my Love.”

It always comes back to love, doesn’t it?  You are loved and you are a lovely dwelling place.  Receive His love in the EXACT place that fear is attempting to rob you of your true identity.  You are worth it!

With Much Love in Jesus,
Audrey and Bob

“Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not our own?” (1 Corinthians 6:19)  

The Key to Your Miracle

This is your moment to receive a very important key.  The fascinating aspect of a key is its detail. You could show me two keys that look very similar, but only one of those keys can turn the ignition of my car.  

God is a God of Details

God is personalizing the miracle you have been asking for.  It won’t look like anybody else’s miracle because it is yours!  

The Story

The widow in 2 Kings 4:1-7 was in dire straits. Tragedy had hit her home.  Her husband had died, and as if that wasn’t bad enough, the creditors were knocking down her door threatening to take the only precious family she had left: Her two sons.  

The Turning Point

She had nothing. But suddenly it changed when the prophet, Elisha, came to her door and asked her for something she did have. There is something that you have in your house. In your possession. The miracle takes place when you supernaturally see what you already have.  That, my friend, is your key.  Your personalized, made-just-for-you-miracle that is ready to open the door to new possibilities.  

The Overflow

There’s nothing quite as fun-filled as seeing something overflow with goodness! You have probably experienced that flow…it’s when everything seems to be effortless.  Well, that is exactly what we were created to live with.  As we are aligned to heaven, we are walking under that favor and grace where peace and joy overflow, and we are influencing others.

The Benefits Last a Lifetime

The widow was asked to collect empty flasks.  The oil was supernaturally supplied – flowing -  filling every single container right to the brim! There was enough valuable oil – and it was worth so much money, that all her debts would be paid, she could keep her precious sons, and she had enough to live on. 

Ask God for the miracle to SEE.

To (no longer) see what you DON’T HAVE.

But to SEE what you DO HAVE.

That’s the KEY to your MIRACLE!

Share this post, and comment below – your miracles will encourage others!

 

2 Kings 4:1-7

One day the widow came to Elisha and cried out, 
“My husband who served you is dead, But now a creditor has come, threatening to take my two sons as slaves.”

2 “What can I do to help you?” Elisha asked. “Tell me, what do you have in the house?”
“Nothing at all, except a flask of olive oil,” she replied.

3 And Elisha said, “Borrow as many empty jars as you can from your friends and neighbors. 4 Then go into your house with your sons and shut the door behind you. Pour olive oil from your flask into the jars, setting each one aside when it is filled.”

5 So she did as she was told. Her sons kept bringing jars to her, and she filled one after another. 6 Soon every container was full to the brim!

“Bring me another jar,” she said to one of her sons.

“There aren’t any more!” he told her. And then the olive oil stopped flowing.

7 When she told the man of God what had happened, he said to her, “Now sell the olive oil and pay your debts, and you and your sons can live on what is left over.

Our Account Has Been Settled

This week, Bob and I are in Puerto Rico as representatives of God’s hope for families.   We have had tremendous response as we have told our story several times.  In the last few days we have spoken at a college, in a huge tent, at churches and on LIVE radio. 

Just last night, after sharing the part of our story where I chose to see myself the way Jesus sees me…clothed in a beautiful, white, glistening robe of righteousness, the cloak of shame immediately gone, we asked everyone to close their eyes.  When I asked, “Are you carrying a regret or a mistake? Have you been unable to forgive yourself? If you are ready to have a new vision of how Jesus sees you, just lift your hand…”  

Virtually every person in that college campus room lifted their hand. The room was hushed by a silence that felt holy, comforting and full of accepting love.  As each person experienced Jesus in a way that was intimate and unique, forgiveness flowed, and innocence was restored. That kind of transaction only happens because Jesus paid the price.  Our account has been settled. 

I waited patiently for the Lord to help me,
    and he turned to me and heard my cry.
He lifted me out of the pit of despair,
    out of the mud and the mire.
He set my feet on solid ground
    and steadied me as I walked along.

He has given me a new song to sing,
    a hymn of praise to our God.
Many will see what he has done and be amazed.
    They will put their trust in the Lord.

Oh, the joys of those who trust the Lord,
    who have no confidence in the proud
    or in those who worship idols.

Psalm 40:1-4

Are you ready for more joy? 

Then trust God even more.  He has settled your accounts!

Your debts…settled.
Your future…settled.
You reputation…settled.
Your family relationships…settled.
Your life purpose…settled.

Joy, peace, and rest are all found in trusting our Father in Heaven.  Oh the joys for those who trust Him! 

When we decree that our accounts have been settled, we are in agreement with heaven.  The Lord’s Prayer says, “Thy Kingdom come, thy will be done”.  That means that we can enjoy the benefits of the kingdom while we are living here on earth.

Make it part of your day to decree God’s goodness, faithfulness and strength over your life and your family.  You change the atmosphere when you align your heart to be in agreement with God’s promises.

This is much different than “positive affirmations”.  The New Age Movement and the human potential movement teaches about the law of attraction and the law of intention, and the belief that a person can control the universe from their own internal power source.  

Hebrews 11:1 reassures us with this, “Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things unseen”, not based on our own power that we are supposed to control, but rather on this truth from Hebrews that God is and that He administers His kingdom with love and mercy.  Our power source for promises from the scriptures is not us, rather it is God.  God is the Almighty Jehovah.  The Creator. He is our source of life, health, strength, provision, protection, abundance and success.  

Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done!

No stress.
No force.
Resting under an open heaven.

When we trust Him to settle and arrange our accounts, we can be assured that He is ensuring a flourishing success for our lives.

We are praying for you this week as you decree God’s best for your life, future and family.  

Sweet Kiss of Mercy

“If you cover up your sin you’ll never do well.
But if you confess your sins and forsake them,
You will be kissed by mercy.”  
(Proverbs 28:13 TPT)

That Proverb is the Passion Translation has jumped out at me.  I can’t help but think about the Princess that is magically awakened from a deep sleep by the kiss of the Prince. (Sorry guys).Think of the magnitude of the power of that kiss of true love to awaken life once again!

We all need mercy’s kiss. When we feel lost or numb to God’s presence, and want to feel the heartbeat of God, and it just doesn’t feel near.  When we need an answer to a big decision because we just don’t want to mess up again.  When we feel undeserving of unconditional love and can’t seem to grasp its embrace. 

When we find it too difficult to forgive an offense, and justice is screaming for a voice, it’s the kiss of mercy that will triumph over judgment.   When we receive mercy, we are then able to give it away as a gift.  When you love, you simply can’t lose.  Mercy triumphs over judgment.  Mercy is powerful.  Colossians 3 reminds us to wake up every morning and clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy.  

This proverb gives us the roadmap to experiencing the kiss of mercy.  Please don’t go searching for sin in your life with sackcloth and ashes, but do humble yourself.  Open your heart to the Lord and confess your desire for purity and holiness, a consecrated life that hates sin and loves mercy and grace.  Confess your sins and turn the opposite direction – forsake even the thought of doing wrong!  Refuse to hold resentment, refuse to slander or gossip, and live a life saturated in liquid love, the kind of love that only Jesus can give us.  

Then be still and receive the kiss.  May mercy fall on you – sweet mercy from the Lord Jesus because He took the punishment for you…sweet mercy with the fruit of gentleness, kindness, self-control and patience.  Just like the princess who was suddenly awakened by the magic kiss…that kiss of mercy will awaken hope and intimacy with God.  That’s the life where dreams come true!

The Gift of Trust

A Perfectly Amazing Present

 How do I get my 15-year-old to want to hang out with me again?

 Why does it feel like my spouse doesn’t exactly “like” me anymore?

Maybe you have a person in that family that just doesn’t seem to want to be with you. You are stuck with wondering what to do.  Do I give them space? Do I reach out? Am I doing something wrong? 

As we help people in their marriages and with their children, we were recently posed with the question, “how do we reach our son…he feels disconnected from us”. 

Bob immediately threw out the question, “Do you trust him?”  They both immediately (and in unison) chimed, “No!”

The fact was, this son had demonstrated behavior that disqualified him from trust.  So, discipline was in order.  Privileges taken away.  Consequences in place.  All the important mechanisms that help shape our children to understand that sin will lead to pain. 

And it does.  Sin leads to destruction and ultimately death. But sin does not separate us from God’s love.  God, in his love pursues me while I was still lost in sin:

When we were utterly helpless, Christ came at just the right time and died for us sinners…and since we have been made right in God’s sight by the blood of Christ, he will certainly save us from God’s condemnation.  For since our friendship with God was restored by the death of his Son while we were still his enemies, we will certainly be saved through the life of his Son.  So now we can rejoice in our wonderful new relationship with God because our Lord Jesus Christ has made us friends of God” (Romans 8:6-11 loosely translated from NLT).

Restored Friendship

We started asking them more about their son.  We asked about his passion, his interests, and most of all, his heart.  Their faces lit up as they described the time he went on a missions trip and stood up in front of everyone and told them about how  Jesus accepts Him without question.  They talked about the fact that he was strong and talented enough to pay football, but that he just didn’t have the heart to fight.  The more they described him, the bigger their smiles became. 

I love how God speaks and brings such a gentle answer to our deep and heartfelt questions.  I then asked the question, “Your son sounds like an exceptional person.  Would you like to give him an incredible present?”  They said, “yes...maybe that’s what he needs…a present?”

“I think I know what your son is craving and longing for more than anything.  I think this present would change everything for him”.  “What is it,” they asked.

Trust.  Why don’t you sit down and tell him that you’ve decided to give him the gift of trust.  He can stop beating himself up and he can stop trying to jump through the hoops to earn your acceptance”. 

You have the opportunity to draw a line in the sand, step over that line and give your loved ones the gift of trust.  Sure, they may mess up again, but because there is trust, they will be safe enough to move towards you instead of away from you when that happens.  The flow of relationship runs freely as love is your goal and trust is a highly valued gift. 

 

Monday

Believe in the “real” version of your family members

Did you hear in that story how the conversation turned when the parents began to talk about what they loved most about their son?

Every personality has a redeemed and amazing side to it.  The person you love might be more of a fighter than a lover!  So when you read about this son (above), you think, “wow, must be nice that their son has a soft and warm heart, it’s easy to see the beautiful part of that!”  Well, maybe the one you love (your spouse, your loved one) has the gift of passionate persistence and lion’s heart of a leader that will push through resistance and “fight” for truth and justice.

Don’t try and mold and shape the person you love into who you think they should be.  Discover and focus on the truth of their identity and embrace the gift that they are. Remind yourself, even keep a grateful journal of all the fabulous qualities that come with this gift God created! 

 

Tuesday

 Believe the best instead of assuming the worst

Your loved ones can “feel” your judgment, even if you’re not saying the words aloud.  Take every thought captive!  If you want to think of negative attributes about someone in your life, you can gather up more than enough evidence to prove your Right-ness and how you’ve been wronged. That could very well be true, however:

A wise person demonstrates patience, for mercy means holding your tongue.  When you are insulted, be quick to forgive and forget it, for you are virtuous when you overlook an offense.  (Proverbs 19:11 tPt).

Believing the best rather than assuming the worst in your loved ones is an invitation to draw them near. For your own sake, start releasing your angry or hurt feelings and thoughts. Stop your mind from obsessing about the past, and focus on the present and future. Turn toward what is going well, what you’re grateful for. Your giving attention to the garden of your heart, you have to pull some weeds, sure, but mainly focus on planting flowers.

 

Wednesday

Live in the land of acceptance

This is not denial!  Yet, how do we pursue our misbehaving family in love without condoning their mistakes or behavior.  You can accept that person without approving of their behavior.  But that doesn’t mean blasting them with reminders of how unapproving their behaviour has been. On the contrary, you will emphasize 100% acceptance.  Open arms.  Caring words. 

We were recently speaking with a couple last week, and we simply asked them to give each other some safe-space to heal before we tackle the relationship issues.  The marriage relationship cannot be healed until the two precious individuals within the marriage first become healed and whole. 

As we were Skyping with them, we felt led to ask them if they would agree to live in the “Land of Acceptance” together.  They thought about…looked at each other…paused for a moment, and then both said, “That actually sounds like a good place to be”. 

Even if your loved one hasn’t invited you to live in the land of acceptance, you can start by letting them live there with you. What a concept!

 

Thursday

Don’t demand appreciation

Living in the Land of Acceptance means you simply can’t make your loved ones jump through hoops. I know it’s not easy.  I recently reached out to a distant family member by spending a significant amount of time, money and creative effort to send a present.  It’s been a few weeks and I haven’t heard whether they received it, or whether they appreciated it.  Yikes! Something in me wants to jump up and down and say, “Hey! Hey you!  Did you get that amazing present of love I sent you, or what?”

All of a sudden it sounds like my love-gift wasn’t much of a gift at all? That’s because it comes with a stipulation! Chose not to be “that person”. I want to give without expecting anything in return.  Not always easy, but Bob was so amazing with his word picture.  “Audrey, you built a beautiful bridge.  Now, it’s up to them if they want to come towards you.  But, aren’t you glad you built it?”

Yes, I am!  Plus, I don’t want to tear that bridge down by suddenly having expectations, or make it difficult by placing a tollgate and demand payment for a restored relationship.  I want to keep that bridge alive, full of love and ready for any moment that distant relative wants to come over and deepen our relationship.  And I will build another one and another one.  Why not?  When you love, you can’t lose!

 

Friday

Be generous with the gift of trust

Let’s not be stingy with trust.  It’s risky, I know.  But Jesus took a huge risk on me, by loving me first.  He demondstrated His love.  He extended His hand.  He built the most safe and beautiful bridge imaginable. And I love this about Him!

There was a day about twelve years ago, when Bob gave me the gift of trust. I couldn’t have performed enough to ever earn it.  I couldn’t have cried and been sorry enough to deserve it.  Yet, he offered it to me out of his love.  It’s the most beautiful gift Bob has ever given me in this lifetime.  I cherish it.  I treasure it, and I live up to it. 

*Disclaimer:  We are fully aware that there is a place for earned trust through changed behavior.   This is not permission for someone to mistreat or abuse you in the relationship. Prayerfully consider if there is someone in your life that would benefit by your gift of trust.