Sowing, Reaping & Prayer

When God created the world, He put into place a spiritual law called the law of sowing and reaping. We will reap what we sow. This law applies to spiritual matters, emotional matters, and physical matters. A farmer sows seed in the ground and eventually reaps a harvest of what he or she planted. A person sows money in the offering to a church or ministry they support, and God sends them increase through multiple avenues. A person sows their time into reading the Bible and reaps the fruit of faith, wisdom, and understanding which directs their life for earthly and eternal good. Let us look at Galatians 6:7-9:


Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life. And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart.


Therefore, when we sow time to the Spirit each day by obeying the Word through practicing and walking in unity, we are building fruit for eternity. This Scripture also encourages us to be diligent about sowing to the Spirit. In other words, don’t practice spiritual unity for a week or two and then forget about it. Strong physical muscles are built steadily and consistently by working out but then must continue to be maintained in order to remain strong. Likewise, strong spiritual unity is built through consistent, daily effort that results in a lifelong bond.
We once heard about a study done that showed the divorce rate among couples who pray together regularly is 1 out of every 1,152. This demonstrates great evidence that praying together provides substantial benefit for building and increasing unity. If you and your spouse currently pray alone, why not draw another step closer to God as well as each other by adding unified prayer to build your relationship even stronger.
Matthew 6:33 states, “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” When we give Him first place in our marriage relationship, He will add the other things to us by causing us to reap a harvest of spiritual, emotional, and physical unity. We have found the more years we pray together, the more we grow in the rest of our marriage. We enjoy our relationship more now than when we were first married.
Jesus said, “By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love one for another” (John 13:35). If we can exercise love at home and walk in peace consistently with those closest to us, the world will see we have love for one another.
What a great testimony for unbelievers to see a Christian marriage and home filled with an abundance of love created through spiritual unity. What an excellent testimony it also is for unbelievers to see a marriage healed through a couple turning to God and His Word, building a lasting spiritual bond. As we consistently build marital unity through prayer together, we will find ourselves living in a marital masterpiece more and more.
During our prayer time we give God praise for His goodness and we also let our requests be made known to the Lord with thanksgiving (see Philippians 4:6). Daily prayer together should be a time of enjoyment and praise, which builds an atmosphere of peace in the home.
There are several suggestions we make for couple prayer time. We advise making time together in the morning if at all possible. Praying together while still snuggled in bed is wonderful because it bonds you spiritually as well as meeting each others need for affection. It will set you both on the same page when you communicate throughout the day, as well as when obstacles may arise.  If morning is not possible, pray together as soon as you can.
We also recommend husband and wife each takes turns, going back and forth praying for anything that comes to his or her heart. Some of the things we typically cover in our prayer times are:
  • Thanksgiving for what the Lord has done for us and those around us,
  • Positive and uplifting prayers for each others day,
  • Prayer for each other and our children’s protection and wisdom,
  • Prayer for each other’s extended family (parents, siblings, nieces, and nephews),
  • Prayer for those in authority over us: our President, nation, military, and employer,
  • Prayer for our church and the marriages the Lord puts on our heart.


There are several things we caution couples of during prayer. First, do not use this as a time to criticize each other. We once had a couple say to us, “This prayer together just doesn’t work.” When we inquired as to why, we found out they ended up fighting every time because they would pray for the other one to grow or change in whatever areas they felt they didn’t measure up. We should leave our prayer time together feeling positive and built-up in the Lord.
Second, remember not to criticize each other’s families. Prayer for one another’s extended family should be done with kindness and love. When we pray for family in a positive way, thanking and trusting God to minister to them and meet their needs, we will begin to look at our spouse’s family as our own. We will then see that our spouse loves our extended family as unconditionally as we do, which also builds unity.
Third, know that sometimes couples feel awkward when they first begin to pray together. It is just like learning to ride a bicycle when you were a child. Sometimes it was difficult to get up and moving, but you eventually learned to balance and ride smoothly. So it is with unified prayer. Don’t give up! Practice for short periods of time and be patient with one another.
As we learn to pray together, we will grow in God’s kind of love. 1 Corinthians 13:5 states, “[Love] does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil…” If we think no evil toward our spouse, then we will be patient as we both grow in our walk with the Lord together. We will choose to believe that they are trying their best and, therefore, we will encourage them when they pray.
This is what we were talking about earlier when we compared unified prayer to a tennis doubles team practicing daily. When we make the effort to get ourselves unified in the small things like daily prayer, trials are much easier to overcome when we encounter them.
If you and your spouse have had challenges with prayer together, don’t be discouraged! Just start by praising God together each day and thanking Him for the good things He has done in your life and in the lives of those around you.
We truly believe this one simple change will make a lasting difference in your marriage! 
Be blessed! 
Pastors Shaun & Amy

Read more

Where does strife come from?

When we as believers truly understand the root cause for strife and fighting, I believe we will be more determined to prevent it from occurring in our relationships. Proverbs 13:10 gives us one great cause of strife. It says, “By pride comes nothing but strife.” This is one of the root issues – pride. Therefore, it is easy to see that when someone chooses to enter into strife, it is being instigated through the satanic realm.
Satan, who was once called Lucifer, was removed by force from his position in Heaven as one of the head angels because he got into pride and wanted to be God. Therefore, Satan is the author of pride. This is why 1 Peter 5:5 says, “God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” Until a person is willing to humble himself or herself, God will not show up on their behalf. Why? When a person gets into pride, he or she is submitting to the lordship of Satan rather than the Lordship of Jesus.
As a person causes or participates in strife, they are also neglecting Jesus’ command quoted in John 15:12: “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.” An excellent example of this is shown in Proverbs 10:12, “Hatred stirs up strife, but love covers all sins.” Therefore, if we participate in strife we are choosing to walk in Satan’s realm, which is hatred, rather than walking in Christ’s command of love. Knowing this, it is not any surprise that James said, “For where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work” (James 3:16, KJV). If we choose to walk in strife, we are also choosing to open the door to the devil, giving him free reign to bring confusion and every evil thing into our life.

James had quite a bit to say about fighting and disagreements. In James 4:1-3 he states that fighting comes from a person’s desire for pleasure, which is rooted in lust and coveting. When someone lusts or covets after something they don’t have, that is ultimately from pride because they are saying that what God has given them isn’t good enough. A classic example of this is King David. We find the story in 2 Samuel 11:2-4,


And from the roof he saw a woman bathing, and the woman was very beautiful to behold. So David sent and inquired about the woman. And someone said, ‘Is this not Bathsheba, the daughter of Eliam, the wife of Uriah the Hittite?’ Then David sent messengers, and took her; and she came to him, and he lay with her . . .


The story continues with David later having her husband killed because she was pregnant with King David’s baby. After he committed this great wickedness, he was visited by Nathan the prophet and rebuked by God. The Lord said to David,


I gave you your master’s house and your master’s wives into your keeping, and gave you the house of Israel and Judah. And if that had been too little, I also would have given you more! (2 Samuel 12:8).


It is interesting to note that in addition to addressing David’s act of adultery, God also went on to address David’s lack of contentment with what he already had as sinful behavior. Hebrews 13:5 advises us, “Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have.” God had given David so many good gifts and even with all that he possessed, he became discontented, lusting and coveting after what belonged to someone else.
This is how pride and selfishness work. No matter how much God gives someone they are not appreciative for what they do have. A person who allows pride and selfishness to rule their life will never be consistently satisfied with anything or anyone emotionally, physically, or sexually. This is why prideful people are often angry people. They are especially good at putting on a façade for those outside their family, yet they get into strife and snap at those of their own household without apology.
People living this way often don’t know why they are angry so often. It is because they have yielded to pride and selfishness and this causes a recurring dissatisfaction because nothing ever seems good enough. There may be a few temporary moments of satisfaction where pride feels a short-lived fix. A big achievement, a promotion, purchasing a new top-of-the-line car, watching pornography, or an illicit sexual encounter may give short gratification, but then the dissatisfaction is right back again and the person lashes out in anger at those they are closest to.
It is not wrong to desire something, as long as it is not against Biblical principles to have what we desire. Psalm 37:4 says “Delight yourself also in the Lord, and He shall give you the desires of your heart.” The true test is, do we invest more time thinking about how good God has been to us and how we can be a gift to others or do we invest in thinking about what we don’t have.
The good news is, if we realize that pride has been leading us, we can repent and choose to change our ways just like David did. Isaiah 55:7 gives us a wonderful description of God’s mercy, saying, “…Let him return to the Lord, and He will have mercy on him, and to our God, for He will abundantly pardon.”
God only shows us what we need to change in ourselves because He loves us and He knows that we don’t have to live a life of discontentment. He has already provided a way for all of our needs to be met and for us to have divine satisfaction when we walk with a thankful heart toward Him for the things we do have. True satisfaction comes from knowing the grass isn’t any greener on the other side; rather, it’s greenest where it is best watered and properly tended to. 
In love, 
Pastors Shaun & Amy 

Read more

Love Never Fails

We know a certain woman who became a Christian, committing her life to the Lord after she and her husband married. Although her husband wanted nothing to do with God or church, she was always compassionate toward him. Her greatest desire was to see him receive God’s free love and forgiveness through Jesus.
We were amazed when we visited with her. She never once spoke unkind words about him even though he was often inconsiderate toward her. She always got tears in her eyes and said, “All I want is to know that one day, when he dies, he will go to heaven and not hell.”
She focused on the best in him continually and would never complain about him or their marriage. She also invested time each day praying for other marriages where the wife went to church but the husband did not. It wasn’t long before he asked Jesus into his heart and now has a close relationship with God himself!

This wife is a great example of how we are able to choose our own thoughts and words; our circumstances do not have to dictate them. When we make a conscious choice to forget the past and not meditate on wrongs done to us, we are then able to focus on and speak the promises of God over our life and the lives of those around us. When we do these two things—meditate on praiseworthy reports and pray God’s Word—we are truly able to reach forward to the good things God has in store for us. As Paul said,


Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus (Philippians 3:13-14).


You may be asking yourself, “Is it really possible to forget bad things that have happened to me?” According to Matthew 19:26, “…With God all things are possible.” When we study Scripture, we find the key to forgetting wrongs done to us is love. Love is a choice, rather than merely a feeling. We let go of past hurts by choice, and God’s love will help us do this. Let us look again at Ephesians 3:14-19:


For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, that He would grant to you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man, that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height – to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.


Often when people read this passage, they assume the “saint” mentioned above is simply making reference to a godly person here on earth, but it is not. The Hebrew word for that kind of saint is used in Psalm 116:15 which states, “Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints.” The word used for “saints” in this Psalm means “godly man, good, holy (one), merciful” (Strong’s #2623).
In Ephesians 3 the word translated as “saints” specifically refers to “God, an angel, a saint, a sanctuary” (Strong’s #6918). This means Paul is praying for believers to be grounded in and understand all forms of God’s love just like God, His angels, and the saints who already live with Him in heaven!
You may be wondering, “What does understanding God’s love like those who already live with Him in heaven have to do with not meditating on wrongs someone has done to me?” Everything and we will illustrate why.
When Shaun was having time with the Lord, preparing to preach the message for his mother’s memorial service, it was clearly placed on his heart that one of the things he was supposed to tell people was to think about the good things they had done for his mom during her life here on earth, rather than thinking of any regrets. Shaun realized this thought was very scriptural.
Colossians 3:2 encourages us, “Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth.” Everything in heaven is good and lovely because God is the focus of heaven and He is good and loving. People in heaven certainly think only of the good and loving memories from earth now that they are with Him, therefore we also can choose to be heavenly minded and only look for the good in people. We are able to do this more and more as we “know the love of Christ which passes knowledge” (Ephesians 3:19).

In the presence of God, who is love, there is no desire to meditate on hurts from the past or flaws in a person’s character. Even when Jesus hung on the cross He said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do” (Luke 23:34). When a person truly experiences God’s unconditional love in their life, they passionately desire to show God’s love to those around them so others can experience His goodness also.


It has been said that if you choose to remain in your pain, you will stay the same. We would like to add, “If you choose to meditate on what is right, you will be a vessel through which God can shine His light!” Anyone can find imperfections in people. The real skill is choosing to look past mistakes and focus on the good in others.
When we bestow honor and admiration on those around us consistently, particularly on our spouse and children, we will receive the benefit of a peaceful loving home. Our prayer for you is that you will daily choose to be a vessel of light for God, ministering His love to those in your home and to those you encounter in this world.
With love, 
Pastors Shaun & Amy

Read more

Is God in This?

God has given us His Holy Spirit to be our counselor and our helper. The Holy Spirit is here in the earth to guide us into making the right decisions. The key is that we must take time to listen and obey. Following His peace and guidance will save us from much heartache and pain. Sometimes we have to face our fears in order to obey, but the end result is extremely worth the wait.
Proverbs 2:10-11 states, “When wisdom enters your heart, and knowledge is pleasant to your soul, discretion will preserve you; understanding will keep you.” God’s Holy Spirit brings us discretion. He says “Caution! Caution!” through a lack of peace when there is danger ahead. He also directs us what to do or not do in an effort to preserve us from harm.
This inward guidance from God is most often experienced by those who have a close relationship with Him through daily Bible reading and prayer. The closer we draw to God, the more we will sense His Holy Spirit’s direction. As James 4:8 confirms, “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.” The more we pray with confidence, believing God wants to give us wisdom and direct us, the more we will have peace or lack peace regarding a situation.
Proverbs 3:16-18 states, “Length of days is in her right hand, in her left hand riches and honor. Her ways are ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace. She is a tree of life to those who take hold of her, and happy are all who retain her.” The Holy Spirit encompasses all of the wisdom of God, and one of the ways He manifests His wisdom to us is through peace when we are making the right choice or a lack of peace when we are making the wrong choice.
We should mention here that we have seen young adults get married prematurely because they wanted to get away from parents who did not nurture a peaceful home environment. They thought the logical way out of their parents’ disordered home was to get married themselves. If your parents’ home is unsafe, it is important to find a place of safety rather than approaching marriage as a way out.
If your underlying reason for marriage is escaping a damaged home, you will just create a marriage mess of your own that your kids will want to escape someday. It is better to live in your parents’ home, even if it’s not ideal, than to get married before you are ready or to marry someone who isn’t a good match for you. Make sure you are getting married for the right reasons!
Dating couples are often more concerned about keeping the relationship than having a healthy relationship. When a person wants so badly to get married, they will frequently hide or choose to ignore their significant other’s issues. Most often it’s the female who not only denies serious problems in the relationship but even tries to over-compensate or hide those issues from others. She hopes the problems or behaviors will eventually resolve themselves rather than confronting the issues directly. This kind of thinking is evidence of someone who needs to work on strengthening their emotional health and confidence.
We once heard a marriage counselor say that people will always marry someone who is at the level of their own emotional health. This is so true! People with emotional baggage have a way of finding each other.
The initial gauge to find out if you have emotionally dysfunctional tendencies is your parents’ marriage. Did your parents stay married? If they did, was their relationship truly happy and stable? Were either of them alcoholics, drug users, or gamblers? Did they have some other form of addiction? Was one of them extremely passive and the other one very controlling? Was there frequent yelling or the silent treatment in your home? Did you have any kind of consistent positive relationship model growing up?
What about your childhood? Did you suffer any kind of abuse? If you were molested, verbally abused, or experienced some other harm, it can affect how you feel about yourself and who you gravitate towards in a spouse. The good news is, God is a healing Father! Through His Word and His guidance, you can pursue and receive a renewed mind and a restored heart.
When you see red flags in yourself or in someone you are dating, don’t ignore them! One of the biggest flags to consider, as we mentioned earlier, is a half-hearted commitment to Christ. Going through the motions, such as going to church but lacking genuine desire for serving Christ, should be a red flag.
Beyond attending church, are they peaceful and kind when no one else is around? Are they respectful, polite, and encouraging to their family members and friends? How do they treat servers at restaurants who make a mistake? Are they patient, gracious, and polite or are they irritable and rude? Dysfunctional people frequently belittle you or others and make comments to imply you need them. God is your ultimate source. Always remember, no person can take God’s place.
Also stay on guard for people who like to go drinking or partying with their buddies. We have personally observed that people who get together with friends to drink on a regular basis are often the same people who cheat on their spouse or, due to intoxication, don’t protect their children from dangerous situations. Remember, addictions, control issues, demeaning comments, poor friendships, and half-hearted attitudes will be magnified after marriage.
We want to interject here, if you are reading this and are already married, don’t allow yourself to ask, “Did I marry the right person?” The covenant of marriage is just that – a covenant. God says at the marriage union that the two become one flesh (Gen. 2:24). He isn’t solely referring to physical intimacy. There is an actual union that God makes in the spiritual realm where the husband’s and wife’s spirits join in a union, much like the trinity – multiple parts but one spirit.
One of the enemy’s top strategies in breaking up a marriage and family is to get one of the spouses to start questioning, did I really marry the right person? Once the marriage union occurs, God never looks and says, “Well, those two aren’t getting along as well as I had hoped they would. Maybe she would have been better off with that old boyfriend she had in high school.”
We once heard a pastor say that six months after he got married, he started having the recurring thought he had married the wrong woman. She didn’t look at him or talk to him as kindly and friendly as she did before marriage. Little things about her were beginning to bother him and make him feel disrespected.
His parents had divorced, and he knew that there was a negative spiritual pull towards children of divorcees getting divorced themselves when things got tough in marriage. Fortunately, he had enough wisdom to know how to resist the temptation of divorce. He started meditating Proverbs 31:10-31 daily.
He would put his wife’s name into these verses as he read aloud. For example, “Shelly’s worth is far above rubies. My heart safely trusts Shelly, and I have no lack of gain…” Each day he would declare this in his private prayer time. Within a couple of months, their marriage began to dramatically improve!
What really happened was that, by praying and meditating this scripture over his wife daily, he applied consistent faith to his marriage. Praying and meditating the Word in faith over a situation daily produces success. He realized he wasn’t married to the wrong person. He just needed to actively apply faith to his marriage rather than passively allow the thorns of life to take over the garden that God meant for good. A woman can use Ephesians 5:25-33 to pray over her husband in the same way.
If you are currently single, remember that it’s best to be proactive about marriage. Ladies, pray and meditate Proverbs 31 over yourself right now, speaking in faith about the great wife you will be when that day comes! Likewise, men, it is wise to faithfully pray and meditate Ephesians 5 over yourself now, preparing to be an admirable husband someday.      
When we ask couples who have been happily married for many years, “How did you know?” many say that within the first three to six months of their relationship, “it just seemed right.” We believe the more someone has prayed in faith over this area (or others have prayed for them), the easier it is for a person to recognize the right one.
James 1:5 reminds us, “If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you” (NLT). During any dating or courtship time, pray and believe that God will make it very apparent whether someone is right for you or not. Better than that, pray diligently for your future spouse before you meet them! Even if no one has ever prayed over this area for you, you can pray for God’s clear direction in your own life, and He will cheerfully give it you.
If God knows who the right one is (and He does because He is omniscient), then He knows how to direct your prayers. We fully believe, after hearing numerous stories of couples who prayed for their future spouse, as well as parents who prayed for their children’s future spouse, that prayer brings noticeable clarity to knowing the right one to marry. God knows which couples would be a mess and which couples would be a match! Just ask Him for wisdom, then follow it!
In love, 
Pastors Shaun & Amy

Read more

Eating the Fruit of our Lips

Why is it important to consistently speak the right things? It is important for the same reason farmers do not want weeds growing with the crops they plant in their fields. I remember growing up on a farm. We would go into the field and pick weeds when the crop was in the growth stages because my dad did not want the weeds to choke out the soybeans. He wanted a great harvest, so we worked to get rid of the weeds. Then as the sun shone and the rain watered the plants, they grew beautifully, and a bountiful harvest was attained when the soybeans were picked.
Likewise, our words are also seeds that will produce a harvest. As Proverbs 13:2 states, “A man shall eat well by the fruit of his mouth…” Whatever we are reaping right now is a result of what we have been sowing in our past. Therefore, from this moment on, if we want a harvest of excellent fruit in our life, our marriage, and our children’s behavior, it is important that we consistently speak the right words over each of these areas.
When we speak the promises of God rather than verbalizing what may be taking place in the natural, we will eventually begin to see a change. Is this always easy to do? No. Does this mean we deny reality? No. This means we stop meditating on and repeatedly speaking the problems and rather begin to speak God’s promises and God’s ability in our situation. Whatever we magnify will become a giant in our life. 

The choice God wants us to make, regarding consistently speaking loving words and God’s promises about a person or situation, is addressed in James 3:9-12. James speaks of the importance of taming our tongues by saying,


With it we bless our God and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in the similitude of God. Out of the same mouth proceed blessing and cursing. My brethren these things ought not to be so. Does a spring send forth fresh water and bitter from the same opening? Can a fig tree, my brethren, bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Thus no spring yields both salt water and fresh.


James said when someone blesses God with his or her mouth, then speaks unkind things about a man made in the image of God, it is not right. Just as a tree cannot produce fruit of a different kind than it was planted to be, so we can be confident the words we speak will produce fruit. If we speak kindness and compliments to our spouse and children, we will eventually see the fruit in their personalities because they will feel loved. If we train ourselves to speak life and blessing to others, and do not plant bad seeds by refusing to speak negative no matter how the person may act, we will eventually reap a good harvest.
It has been said that if you choose to remain in your pain, you will stay the same. We would like to add, “If you choose to meditate on what is right, you will be a vessel through which God can shine His light!” Anyone can find imperfections in people. The real skill is choosing to look past mistakes and focus on the good in others.
When we bestow honor and admiration on those around us consistently, particularly on our spouse and children, we will receive the benefit of a peaceful loving home. Our prayer for you is that you will daily choose to be a vessel of light for God, ministering His love to those in your home and to those you encounter in this world.
In Love, 
Pastor Amy Gustafson

Read more