Friday, February 29, 2008

Inspire Conference 2008 - Part I



As I mentioned yesterday, I'm in Orlando Thursday through Saturday for the Inspire Conference. It's being held at the Florida Mall Hotel and Conference Center - one of the greatest places in the world to stay and shop!

Many awesome women of God are gathered here for these three days to seek the Lord and rest, renew, and grow in all areas of their life.

The conference host, Pastor Sandy Phinazee asked me to speak again this year on marriage. I spoke last year and she said so many lives were changed through it they asked me to come and do the same this year.

Women come to this conference from other places besides Florida. Just this morning I met a sweet older woman from Birmingham, AL who came and fell into my arms crying after my message and said, "thank you, thank you...you'll never know what a God-send this has been..." We sold out of my "Above Average Woman" books already. One lady came racing over to the product table and said to another lady who had just bought the last copy, "I keep that book by my bed every night and read it over and over..." I started tearing up when she said that. It's AMAZING TO ME...simply amazing what GOD has done. Yesterday a young lady who has been married just a few years (but had been having some problems) came running up and said, "do you remember me from last year?!!" I said she looked familiar and she said, "My marriage has been healed and turned around since last year...I'm the one who wrote you an email from last year's conference and told you how I was changed..." It's stuff like this that makes it all worthwhile. PRAISE THE LORD!!!

I spoke last year on being the "Irresistible Wife" and "10 Ways to Keep Your Marriage Hot, Hot, Hot" and so this year I spoke on "10 Lies Women Believe About Marriage." This is the topic Pastor Lisa Alexander brought me to her church in Houston, TX to speak on, and it went so well I decided upon the leading of the Lord to speak on this at Inspire '08 as well, although I did tweak the message somewhat since the TX trip to reflect some new things I've studied and learned. I thought I would share with my readers the outline of my message. I will do it in two parts since it would be rather long to put all ten points here. I'll post the other half tomorrow. When they release the CD's from Inspire I'll do a podcast and make it available on line. Here we go:

1. Women believe the lie: "I don’t feel anything for my husband right now, and my marriage is so far gone, I won’t ever again. It's time to give up."

85% of people get divorced for “non-severe” reasons. Surveys have shown that divorce does not make most people happy.

The first thing you need to do if you are here this weekend and you have been contemplating divorce is discover first of all if you have Biblical grounds. Most people do not. (Read Matthew 19, Mark 10)

If you do not have a Biblical reason, then you need to work it out. But you say, “I’m miserable…” If you have a Biblical reason that is one thing – but if not, work it out. The Bible says God hates divorce. Why does he hate it? It hurts his kids. First of all, you are still one of "his kids" no matter how old you are - second most of you have kids and I can tell you from experience - it hurts them.

Some of you here today are divorced and you did not ask for it. Someone cheated on you, beat you or walked out on you. I realize you did not deserve this and certainly our heart goes out to you. It's not you that I'm speaking about today. Today I am addressing those 85% of people who have absolutely no biblical grounds for divorce but do it anyway or are thinking about doing it anyway. Also I am addressing those who initiated divorce, not those who were victims. If you are a victim I believe God wants to bring you His healing today and restore all the devil tried to steal from you.

Christians (especially Pentecostals) want to act on FEELINGS all the time but honestly we Christians need to ACT OUR WAY INTO A FEELING! Act on facts of God's Word – feelings will come eventually.

Many times people give unBiblical excuses about why they are divorcing and when they talk it's all about WHAT THEY FEEL, not all about what GOD SAYS. The fact is, some people will believe whatever they want to believe even with the facts of God's Word right in front of them.

Most of the time to succeed in your marriage or anything in life, it’s just about doing the right thing long enough.

A study was done of people who were very unhappy in their marriage yet chose to stick it out no matter what. The majority of those people 5 years later were very happy. Every marriage has seasons. Don't leave just because you are in a down season. And yes, sometimes seasons can last for years.

Act on the facts of God’s Word. His Word says plenty about how to treat your spouse. The Word tells you how to act from day to day. If you do the right thing for long enough, it will catch up with you!!!

Some of you might think this is easy for me to say. But believe me I've gone through difficult seasons in my marriage where it was not always as happy as it is now. I knew that I would never choose divorce because seen the first hand the pain it causes. Billy Graham's wife was asked, "Have you ever considered divorce?" She said, "divorce no, murder yes." I will be honest, I ruled out murder because I didn't wait to go to jail. LOL However there were times I said, "Lord, I'm not divorcing him, nor will I kill him, however I will ask you to take me to heaven now to get me out of this." He chose not to. God chose to ask ME to change. Here are the facts my friends...marriage is an everyday exercise in getting over yourself. It’s an everyday exercise in getting beyond your selfishness.

2. Some women believe, “being a wife is well and fine, but you know the first thing God called us women to do is be mothers.

Believe it or not, the first thing that God called you to in scripture was not motherhood. Most people quickly say, “being a mother is the highest calling.” That sounds good, and even as much as I love being a mother, I have to admit, it doesn’t come first according to the Word of God.
The first thing God said when he created the first woman is that she was made as a helpmate to her husband. He didn’t say, “And behold…I have created a mother.” He said: “…"It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him." Genesis 2:18 Motherhood came along later, after the call of helpmate was proclaimed.

Many women spend time serving their children and training their husbands instead of training their children and serving their husbands! Married women are so busy with other things in their lives, including their children – they forget their first calling, and that is – being a wife. A wife is called by God as a helpmate to her husband. Many women spend time turning the channel from Dora the Explorer to SpongeBob Squarepants to running to get extra sippy cups of juice and meanwhile neglect the man God has given them day after day. You do have to take care of your children's needs -- but remember, their needs, not all their wants or extras before you take care of the man God gave you.

Before you became a mother – you were a wife (or at least hopefully that was the order things were in…) There is a divine order of things. Your marriage relationship is priority over other relationships in your life. The most important thing to your children is that their parents get along and stay together. The worst thing that hurts your children is when your marriage falls apart – so don’t let it. Too many Christian women have used marriage as a vehicle to get to their main goal – motherhood, and this is wrong. Men shouldn’t feel placed to the side when their kids come along.

3) Many women believe: “The most important thing for me as a woman and a wife is to just serve everyone else first and put myself last.”

The best thing you can give your marriage partner and your kids is a healthy, fully focused, emotionally and spiritually healthy YOU. Make an effort to stay sharp – spiritually, emotionally & physically.

SELF LEADERSHIP is very important – spend 50% of your time leading yourself. Many of us try to lead our children, people in our workplace, our church and community and we can't even lead ourselves. You can’t lead anyone else or really benefit anyone else in life unless you are leading yourself first.

Matthew 22:36 “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?" Jesus replied: " 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.'

The problem is many women do not love themselves. We will neglect ourselves all the day long and allow other people to mistreat us.

One of the best things you can do for your marriage is – love and respect yourself. If you don’t, no one else will.

DON’T BREAK SELF PROMISES!

YOU TEACH OTHERS HOW TO TREAT YOU.

3. Some women believe: “If I keep telling my husband everything that is wrong with him, soon he’ll get it through his head and begin to change.”

Generally this will just make him worse. People generally do not respond to rejection or criticism.

What do most people respond well to? Praise.

Praise your way to a great marriage.

Philippians 4:8,9 which says, “And now dear brothers and sisters, let me say one more thing as I close this letter. Fix your thoughts on what is true and honorable and right. Think about things that are pure and lovely and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.

Hebrews 10:24,25 tells us that as Christians we are to “stimulate one another to love and good deeds.” I Thessalonians 5:11 tells us to “encourage one another and build one another up.”

Proverbs 18:21 says, “Life and death are in the power of the tongue.”

Proverbs 14:1, “The wise woman builds her house, but with her own hands the foolish one tears hers down.”

Most people on the planet respond well to PRAISE. Catch them doing things right and give them kudos. Especially in front of others.

Realize, marriage has never been 50/50…you cannot base your marriage on percentages. There are times my marriage has been 70/30 or 80/20...sometimes 0/100. That's not a reason to bail out.

4. Many women believe the lie that others have a perfect marriage with absolutely no problems. They fall into the comparison trap which is nothing but a lie and then leave their spouse in search for something they think will be better.

Everybody has "stuff." As Hannah Montana says, "Nobody's perfect, I gotta work it!" You gotta work it, ladies. Quit comparing. Yes, you can have a good marriage, even a great marriage. But a perfect one? No one is perfect this side of heaven.


I have a friend who many think has the perfect marriage. Her husband puts his arm around her in church, whispers in her ear and they whisper things to each other and giggle. They serve in their church and honestly they are wonderful people. Many times I've heard women in their church say, "If I could just have a marriage like that..." Little do they know, my friend has put up with the fact for many years that her husband has a pornography problem. She has been to hell and back and many marriage counselors and life has not been easy. But no one in their church knows that. All they see is what is on the outside. Many ladies comment, "if only my husband could be like hers." Some have considered divorce wanting something they perceive to be better. Remember, what God's Word says in II Corinthians 10:12 “We do not dare to classify or compare ourselves with some who commend themselves. When they measure themselves by themselves and compare themselves with themselves, they are not wise.”

Everybody’s got their “stuff” – so don’t get caught in the trap of believing that somebody else has the perfect marriage. Be happy with what you have - and again, use that "Hannah Montana theology"..."nobody's perfect, I gotta work it!" Work it, work it!

5. Many women believe the lie: "I don’t know that I can ever forgive my husband. Too much has happened."

Larry and I have had some big arguments and most of them we don't remember years down the road. What does the Word of God say?

"Therefore as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity." Colossians 3:12-14

Life is too short to stay in petty arguments that you won’t even remember one day. One day you will be beside your husband’s bedside saying your last words, or him with you – and you won’t even remember these arguments…but you will wish for just a few more moments together. Keep in mind, in most marriages people are not fighting over Biblical reasons for divorce such as adultery. Most people are fighting over much smaller, very re-solveable issues.
Many people think, “We’re fighting all the time, it’s just easier to move on.”

Statistics tell us that the more times a person is married, the less likely it is to work out.
90% of all third marriages end in divorce. Keep in mind as well that even when you have a Biblical reason GOD CAN STILL HEAL!!!

Many choose to stay even when they have a Biblical reason to let go. Remember, forgiveness doesn’t make them right, but it sets you free!

Tomorrow I will post the second half of my outline of my message. Keep in mind this is just the outline - I give lots of illustrations and practical everyday life examples which is why it's great to hear the podcast when I post it...

Looking forward to a great service tonight...the worship team is so anointed, and the speaker team as well. Here are the speakers for the weekend ~ (l-r, Pastor Sheri Hawley, Pastor Missy Monokian, Pastor Sandy Phinazee, me, and Pastor Jennifer Lee.)

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