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The Good That Is Never
Have you ever seen a verse in the Bible for the first time – one that you were sure you never noticed before, even though it is underlined in your Bible?
That’s what happened to me recently, and I can’t stop thinking about it. Paul prays for the Philippians. He said“..that your love would abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be able to be pure and blameless until the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness, that comes through Jesus Christ – to the glory of God” (Philippians 1:9-11)
I usually have no problem figuring out the difference between good things and bad things, but Paul prays for something greater. He prays that we would learn to discern between the better things and the best things. That is a whole lot trickier. There have been times in my life where the good things have distracted me from pursuing the best things. Other times I was so busy enjoying the good things, I got lulled into a false belief that they were the best things.
Mary of Bethany is a woman who learned to discern the best thing. She chose to spend her time loving Jesus; her sister Martha chose serving Jesus. I used to think of the Mary and Martha story as an illustration of personality differences. Martha was a worker, Mary, a listener, but I’m more convinced than ever that it wasn’t a matter of personality but of discernment. Mary’s love for Jesus taught her how to see what the best things were at the moment. Whether sitting at his feet in rapt attention or spilling her treasured perfume over her Savior’s tired and callused feet, Jesus said Mary made the right choice.
To be honest, in the busyness of ministry, sometimes I fail to take that quiet time to sit at Jesus’ feet. I struggle to be still, simply love Him, learn from Him and allow Him to fill me with His love. I’m so busy doing things for Jesus, I am not taking the time to be with Jesus.
As Christian counselor I know I’m not alone. I work with many women who feel too busy to take time to be alone with Jesus. Multiple priorities, ministry responsibilities, a hectic home life and people constantly tugging for something, keep them lost in the good that is not good enough.
Oswald Chambers writes, “The great struggle in the life of faith is not sin but the good that is not good enough.” I don’t want to settle for the good and forsake the best God has for me. I hope you don’t either.
My Pastor Said I Can't
Divorce – Now What?
Question: Two years ago, after 6 years of trying to be a “good, submissive, obedient” Christian wife, I realized that my efforts were only making things worse in our family as my husband got increasingly controlling and scary.
I started setting boundaries to protect myself and the kids from inappropriate behavior, and the situation continued to escalate with increasing demands, control, rage, and physically threatening behavior until I filed a restraining order, and he was removed from our home (a year and a half ago).
He has been seeing a counselor for about 6 months and keeps telling me that he is making changes and accuses me of not seeing them. The changes he is making seem very external (not yelling, giving gifts, etc.), but he continues to display all his old tactics of control (blame-shifting, accusations, appealing to authority, wanting me to “believe the best” about him, etc.). Based on what I see and what I’ve learned about people with narcissistic personality disorder (which I am quite convinced he has), he is extremely unlikely to ever be someone that I could have a healthy relationship with.
I felt that I could justify, even, that he’d ended our marriage long ago by breaking his vows to love and cherish, and so I’d decided to legally declare the marriage over by filing for divorce. However, when I told my pastor, he stated that to divorce him would be going against God’s will because divorce is only allowed for reasons of adultery (specifically defined as sexual relations with someone other than your spouse) and if my very life is in danger (i.e. if I’ve been hospitalized because of him, and the doctors thought I was going to die).
Neither of those things has happened. My pastor said that separation is acceptable, but divorce is not. I don’t believe that my husband will file for divorce because his NPD would not allow for a failure like that and, additionally, it would be letting go of what little control of me he has left.
Am I to continue to stay legally married in a situation like this? I want to live for God and not for myself, but I’m having trouble knowing what God really says about this.
Answer: I’m so sad for all you’ve been through. I think your gut is right in that your husband’s entitlement attitude hasn’t changed, especially since he is accusing you of not appreciating all his “changes.” If his heart had repented, he’d be more humble, patient and grateful that you were even willing to wait to see if he could prove that he had changed (Luke 3:8). That said, your question is about what your pastor has told you.
First, I believe your pastor probably has the best of intentions. He wants to be true to how he sees Biblical teaching on marriage and divorce and some church leaders, theologians and teachers agree with his point of view. However, it’s also important for you to be informed: many conservative Biblical pastors, teachers, and scholars do not share his perspective.
The Good That Is Never Good Enough
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The Secret Language Of Successful Couples
LESLIE ANSWERS YOUR QUESTION
My Pastor Said I Can't Divorce – Now What?
For more information on Leslie's coaching program, please click below:
The Secret Language Of Successful Couples
Bill and Pam Ferrel
Why is it so hard for married couples to get in sync with each other? How is it that your mate can be a source of joy and of frustration all on the same day?
Marriages operate by a secret language―a collection of key words, actions, insights, and attitudes that determine how a couple's relationship works. If that language is uncovered, love grows and flourishes. If that language remains a mystery, love gets buried behind misunderstandings and irritations.
Bill and Pam Farrel, authors of the bestselling Men Are Like Waffles, Women Are Like Spaghetti, offer biblical and practical insight into this language that God has programmed into each married couple. Laced with the Farrels' trademark humor, The Secret Language of Successful Couples is packed with ideas to help couples connect at a richer, deeper level.
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Winners of Don't Quit, Get Fit by Vicky Heath are Dana G. and Terri Z.
September 15th, 2016
September 14th – 17th, 2016
AACC Marriage Conference
October 1st – 2nd, 2016
Bethany Wesleyan Church
October 14th – 15, 2016
Becoming the Best Possible
You – Both Inside and Out
CLICK HERE to register.
November 3 – 5th
CMHC Summit Conference
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LESLIE WELCOMES YOUR QUESTIONS
Leslie wants to help you grow in your personal and relational effectiveness. Please submit your questions by clicking here.
Then, visit Leslie's Blog as she posts her responses to one question per week.
Note: Due to the volume of questions that Leslie receives, she is unable to respond to every question.