Sunday, May 31, 2009

Pouring Out Heart

I found these to be an excellent posts about prayer by David Wilkerson.

In a marriage crises, I think prayer like this is very appropriate, and I know at times I did it whether verbally or in writing.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Bride of Christ

Well, I have been farming, so not much time to blog but some good time to think.

I have been pondering more about how so much of the Bible emphasizes the Church being the Bride of Christ.

Also how many marriage words are used in the Old Testament to describe God's relationship with Israel, such as adulterers, etc.

I am beginning to think that there is a whole lot more connection between all of this marital imagery in the Bible and the message God wants us to get about our marriages here on earth.

It may very well be alot like the symbolism of the temple in the Old Testament pointing to the sacrifice of Christ as the perfect lamb.

John Piper was one of the first to get me thinking about all of this when he talked about the marriage of Christ and His bride the church being the ultimate reality, and our marriages here reflecting that reality.

Probably why God hates divorce so much.

After I am more rested from planting season, guess it would be helpful to do some more study on these concepts.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Loving Like Christ Loved the Church

In Ephesians, Paul commands men to love their wives as Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her.

So how does that apply in a distressed marriage? I often pondered all the many ways Christ loved the church to get a picture of how I should love my wife even though she wanted out of our marriage.

A few other scriptures come to mind.

I have loved you with an everlasting love.

I will never leave you nor forsake you.

While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

You are the apple of my eye.

Simple Reconciliation Strategy

Psalm 37:4 ~ Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart.

Are you separated or in a highly stressed marriage, but long for a wonderful marriage with your spouse? I encourage you to do everything possible to "delight yourself" in the Lord. During our separation, I never perfected this; I went through times of anger, rage, depression, and hopelessness, but when I made a choice to delight myself in the Lord, in spite of everything, I had more peace.

Each person is different, but here are some ways that I delighted in the Lord. Taking a walk on a beautiful day, smelling the flowers, listening to the birds - marveling at God's creation could refresh me - even if I didn't actively pray. I spent alot of time at lakes and parks. In Psalm 23, David says that God will lead us in green pastures and beside still waters.

Sometimes when I was out of sorts, I would take my CD player and put on worship music. Many nights I fell asleep with my headset on. I so appreciated worship music that was based on scripture. Some of my favorites were John G. Elliott and Twila Paris. I was often encouraged by worship at church and felt closer to God.

As you chose to delight yourself in the Lord, He promises that if we draw near to Him, He will draw near to us.

I think you will find that the more you delight in the Lord, the more you will know your next steps in loving your spouse back to your marriage. You will know which of the many resources I have listed or others have are for your situation. When you interact with your spouse, hopefully as you have been refreshed by God - they will see a new you - one who interacts with them in a more loving way.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

"I'll do anything to save my marriage!" Really?

I so often hear from men who are separated, "I'll do anything to save my marriage!" Now, I assume that means anything that is not illegal, immoral, or against Scripture.

I am becoming more and more skeptical when I hear someone say this because so often I will then give some suggestions based on my experience, and what they have told me about their situation, but I will only hear from them a couple of more times. Sometimes I will stay engaged with them over time, but very few suggestions that I make, or others with experience in distressed marriages will make, will ever be tried or followed. I usually hear that they settled for a dissolution and are already dating again.

I wish people would just be more honest with themselves and others and say something like: "I really don't want to lose my marriage, but I am not ready to go all out for it. I will try a few things, but if they don't work quickly, I am just going to go along with a dissolution and look for someone else."

Many marriages in dire straits are healed from some awful stuff, but so few couples will latch on to saving theirs with everything they have within them.

Not sure how to inspire people to never, never, never give up.

God Getting Started

Sometime during our separation, I read or heard someone say, "Do everything you can think of to save your marriage, and when you have done all that, God is just getting started."

That concept really inspired me to keep on trying different things to save my marriage, with the confidence that He was at work also. I am thankful that I kept trying. If just the resources on this blog are taken seriously, it will keep you busy working on your marriage for a long time. That will give God lots of time to work!

Marriage and College Students

I found this article about the Ruth Institute interesting.

I was really drawn to the concept that most college students today really want a life long marriage but don't know how to go about it, and many have no good role models of a good marriage.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Love Dare Titles, Scriptures, Summaries

Below you will find the Love Dare titles, scriptures and summaries listed for all 40 days. JohnK at had listed the scriptures and the summaries on their discussion board. I got it all in one document because I want to be able to post it somewhere at home where I see it as a reminder how to practically love my wife.

What I like about this is that the concepts are emphasized three times. One is the short titles that are easy to remember, second are the short scriptures - we know that God's Word does not return void, and that it is sharper than a two edge sword - and third is the action of love - which are pretty simple, but sometimes hard to do.

I hope to make these Dares a lifestyle. I am sure it will take a lifetime to truly master loving my wife as Christ loves the church.

Day 1: Love is patient
Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. ~ Ephesians 4:2 NIV
Dare: Demonstrate patience and say nothing negative to your spouse.

Day 2: Love is kind
Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you. ~ Ephesians 4:32
Dare: Do at least one unexpected gesture as an act of kindness.

Day 3: Love is not selfish
Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor. ~ Romans 12:10
Dare: Buy your spouse something that says, "I was thinking of you today."

Day 4: Love is thoughtful
How precious also are Your thoughts to me…. How vast is the sum of them! If I should count them, they would outnumber the sand. ~ Psalm 139:17-18
Dare: Contact your spouse with no agenda other than asking how he or she is doing and if there is anything you could do for them.

Day 5: Love is not rude
He who blesses his friend with a loud voice early in the morning, it will be reckoned a curse to him. ~ Proverbs 27:14
Dare: Ask your spouse to tell you three things that cause him or her to be uncomfortable or irritated simply to gain their perspective.

Day 6: Love is not irritable
He who is slow to anger is better than the mighty, and he who rules his spirit, than he who captures a city. ~ Proverbs 16:32
Dare: Make a list of areas where you need to add margin to your schedule. Then list any wrong motivations that you need to release from your life.

Day 7: Love believes the best
[Love] believe all things, hopes all things. ~ 1 Corinthians 13:7
Dare: Get two sheets of paper. On the first, write out positive things about your spouse. Then do the same with negative things on the second. Place both sheets in a secret place. At some point during the remainder of the day, pick a positive attribute from the first list and thank your spouse for having this characteristic.

Day 8: Love is not jealous
Love is as strong as death, its jealousy unyielding as the grave. It burns like blazing fire. ~ Song of Solomon 8:6 NIV
Dare: Take yesterday's list of negative attributes and discreetly burn it. Then share with your spouse how glad you are about a success he or she recently enjoyed.

Day 9: Love makes good impressions
Greet one another with a kiss of love. ~ 1 Peter 5:14
Dare: Think of a specific way to greet your spouse that reflects your love for them.

Day 10: Love is Unconditional
God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. ~ Romans 5:8
Dare: Do something out of the ordinary today for your spouse.

Day 11: Love Cherishes
Husbands ought also to love their own wives as their own bodies. ~ Ephesians 5:28
Dare: Choose a gesture that says, "I cherish you" and do it with a smile.

Day 12: Love lets others win
Do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interest of others. ~ Philippians 2:4
Dare: Willingly choose to give in to an area of disagreement between you and your spouse and tell them you are putting their preference first.

Day 13: Love fights fair
If a house is divided against itself, that house will not be able to stand. ~ Mark 3:25
Dare: Talk with your spouse about establishing healthy rules of engagement and resolve to abide by them when the next disagreement occurs.

Day 14: Love takes delight
Enjoy life with the wife you love all the days of your fleeting life. ~ Ecclesiastes 9:9 HCSB
Dare: Purposefully neglect an activity you would normally do so you can spend quality time with your spouse.

Day 15: Love is honorable
Live with your wives in an understanding way… and show her honor as a fellow heir of the grace of life. ~1 Peter 3:7
Dare: Choose a way to show honor and respect to your spouse that is above your normal routine.

Day 16: Love intercedes
Beloved, I pray that in all respects you may prosper and be in good health, just as your soul prospers. ~ 3 John 2
Dare: Pray for three specific areas where you desire for God to work in your spouse's life and in your marriage.

Day 17: Love promotes intimacy
He who covers over an offense promotes love, but whoever repeats the matter separates close friends. ~ Proverbs 17:9 NIV
Dare: Determine to guard your mate's secrets and to pray for them.

Day 18: Love seeks to understand
How blessed is the man who finds wisdom, and the man who gains understanding. ~ Proverbs 3:13
Dare: Prepare a special dinner at home, just for the two of you and focus this time on getting to know your spouse better in areas you've rarely talked about.

Day 19: Love is impossible
Let us love one another, for love is from God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. ~ 1 John 4
Dare: Look back over the dares from previous days and assess your need for God to change your heart to love. Ask Him to show you where you stand with Him, and ask for the strength and grace to settle your eternal destination.

Day 20: Love is Jesus Christ
While we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. ~ Romans 5:6
Dare: Dare to take God at His Word. Dare to trust Jesus Christ for salvation. Dare to pray, "Lord Jesus, I'm a sinner. But you have shown Your love for me by dying to forgive my sins, and You have proven Your power to save me from death by Your resurrection. Lord, change my heart, and save me by Your grace."

Day 21: Love is satisfied in God
The Lord will continually guide you, and satisfy your desire. ~ Isaiah 58:11
Dare: Be intentional about making a time to pray and read your Bible.

Day 22: Love is faithful
I will betroth you to Me in faithfulness. Then you will know the Lord. ~ Hosea 2:20
Dare: Say to your spouse in words similar to these, "I love you. Period. I choose to love you even if you don't love me in return."

Day 23: Love always protects
[Love] always protects. ~ 1 Corinthians 13:7 NIV
Dare: Remove any addiction or influence that's stealing your affections and turning your heart away from your spouse.

Day 24: Love vs Lust
The world is passing away, and also its lusts; but the one who does the will of God lives forever. ~ 1 John 2:17
Dare: Identify every object of lust in your life and remove it. Replace it with the sure promises of God and a heart filled with His perfect love.

Day 25: Love forgives
What I have forgiven, if I have forgiven anything, I did it for your sakes in the presence of Christ. ~ 2 Corinthians 2:10
Dare: Whatever you haven't forgiven in your mate, forgive it today. Say from your heart, "I choose to forgive."

Day 26: Love is responsible
When you judge another, you condemn yourself, since you, the judge, do the same things. ~ Romans 2:1 HCSB
Dare: Take time to pray through your areas of wrongdoing.

Day 27: Love encourages
Guard my soul and deliver me; do not let me be ashamed, for I take refuge in You. ~ Psalm 25:20
Dare: Think of one area where your spouse has told you you're expecting too much, and tell them you're sorry for being so hard on them about it.

Day 28: Love makes sacrifices
He laid down His life for us. We should also lay down our lives for our brothers. ~ 1 John 3:16 HCSB
Dare: Recognize one of the greatest needs in your spouse's life. Whether the need is big or small, purpose to do what you can to meet the need.

Day 29: Love’s motivation
Render service with a good attitude, as to the Lord and not to men. ~ Ephesians 6:7 HCSB
Dare: Pray for your spouse by name and for their needs. When you see them, say "I love you," then express love to them in some tangible way. Go to God in prayer again, thanking Him for giving you the privilege of loving this one special person.

Day 30: Love brings unity
Father, keep them in Your name, the name which You have given Me, that they may be one even as We are. ~ John 17:11
Dare: Isolate one area of division in your marriage, and pray about it.

Day 31: Love and Marriage
A man shall leave his father and his mother, and be joined to his wife; and the shall become one flesh. ~ Genesis 2:24
Dare: Confess a "leaving" issue to your spouse, and resolve to make it right.

Day 32: Love meets sexual needs
The husband must fulfill his duty to his wife, and likewise also the wife to her husband. ~ 1 Corinthians 7:3
Dare: Try to initiate sex with your husband or wife in a way that honors what they have told you (or implied to you) about what they need from you sexually.

Day 33: Love completes each other
If two lie down together they keep warm, but how can one be warm alone? ~ Ecclesiastes 4:11
Dare: Let your spouse know you desire to include them in your upcoming decisions, and that you need their perspective and counsel.

Day 34: Love celebrates Godliness
[Love] does not rejoice in unrighteousness, bur rejoices with the truth. ~ 1 Corinthians 13:6
Dare: Find a specific, recent example when your spouse demonstrated Christian character and commend them for this.

Day 35: Love is accountable
Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed. ~ Proverbs 15:22 NIV
Dare: Find a marriage mentor.

Day 36: Love is God’s Word
Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path. ~ Psalm 119:105
Dare: Commit to reading the Bible every day.

Day 37: Love agrees in prayer
If two of you agree on earth about anything that they may ask, it shall be done for them by My Father. ~ Matthew 18:19
Dare: Ask your spouse if you can begin praying together.

Day 38: Love fulfills dreams
Delight yourself in the Lord; and He will give you the desires of your heart. ~ Psalm 37:4
Dare: Ask yourself what your mate would want if it was obtainable and commit it to prayer.

Day 39: Love endures
Love never fails. ~ 1 Corinthians 13:8
Dare: Spend time in personal prayer, then write a letter of commitment and resolve to your spouse.

Day 40: Love is a covenant
Where you go, I will go, and where you lodge, I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and your God, my God. ~ Ruth 1:16
Dare: Write out a renewal of your vows and place them in your home.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Emergency Wakeup for Separated

If you are separated from your spouse now, especially against your wishes, I am sorry. Please see my prior post about compassion for the separated.

However, I feel compelled to give you some warnings and some wake up calls.

For a moment, think of how you act or maybe have reacted in an emergency - maybe you come on a car accident, or one of your children or someone you know is hurt. At first, you feel really sorry for the other person, or afraid, or maybe even you are a little paralyzed as to what to do. After a few moments you realize - for this person's sake - I have got to get myself together and make some quick decisions, going with the best I know, and doing the best I can, right now.

Well, if you are separated from your spouse, your marriage is in emergency mode. If you went to a first responder's class to know how to deal with emergencies, someone who has alot more experience would teach you some keys to how to most effectively respond in an emergency, and then when you do find yourself with an emergency you recall what they said and make adjustments the best you know how.

First of all you are in a spiritual battle. The apostle Paul reminds us that we wrestle not against flesh and blood but against principalities and powers and spiritual wickedness in high places and the weapons of our warfare are not of this world, but divinely powerful for demolishing strongholds. With that said - prayer, fasting, and digging into God's Word, has to be your number one priority. There are multiple resources on this website if you need help.

If you have a struggle with out-of-control anger, get help immediately. Depending on what state you are in, any hint of domestic violence, and sometimes even a false accusation of it, can get legal wheels turning in a hurry and drastically - so take this seriously if there is any hint that there is a problem.

If you want your marriage restored it has to be a top priority - marriage reconciliation does not work when it is added onto an already too full schedule. This may mean a drastic change in work commitments, ministry commitments, how you spend free time, etc. Be aware that alot of people may not understand your changes, but this is your marriage, your life, your future - they don't have to live with the consequences day and night for the rest of their lives - you do.

The sooner you can get to a 100% conviction to do all you can to save your marriage, regardless of your spouse's attitude about your marriage, the sooner your marriage is likely to heal and the less likely you are to divorce. I cannot get you to that point, but hopefully on this blog you will find inspiration to move along with the help of the Holy Spirit.

I encourage you to reach out for help - to pastors, counselors, or friends. If one person or group of people doesn't know how to help or support you - look for another. If people you reach out to have an indifferent attitude towards your desire for a reconciled marriage, look for others who will encourage you.

In the realm of finances, I would be cautious about making huge changes, unless someone is totally irresponsible with money. One question to ask yourself: If we reconcile, what would our financial structure look like? and then make adjustments in line with the assumption that you will reconcile.

This is probably going to be a hard road for awhile. I am sorry, but deep deep down, maybe even as never before, you will need to decide if your marriage is worth fighting for with all that you have. I hope you do make that decision.

Compassionate Encouragement for the Separated

If you are separated from your spouse now, either physically or emotionally, I am so sorry. I was separated for 16 months from my wife at her request, before we reconciled.

I know this is probably a time for you with alot of complex emotions such as fear, anger, sadness, regret.

One helpful illustration I saw in a Divorce Care video was a picture of a music equalizer. During normal marriage our energy ebbs and flows between our physical life, emotional life, and spiritual life, but during a separation or divorce, our energy going into the emotions spikes to the top of the chart.

That may be how you feel now. You may be feeling hopeless also, especially if this is a separation that you don't want.

I hope you find lots of encouragement at this blog, both from parts of our testimony and from other resources.

If you are a Christian, I remind you that the Holy Spirit is our Comforter.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Team of Two

A concept I originally heard from Dave and Dawn Lind of Focus on Purpose Ministries is the idea that we, as a married couple, are a team of two. This has greatly encouraged me in my own marriage.

I have been receiving marriage coach training by Jeff Williams of Grace & Truth Relationship Education. He emphasizes another concept that our marriages have a bigger purpose than just us. They are to help others.

Haven't quite got all of this sorted out yet on a practical basis in our own marriage, but we are working on it.

Bigger Picture of Marriage

I am just starting to read "From Eternity to Here" by Frank Viola. He helps the reader to think about what God's big purpose was for creation before the Fall. He contends that God created us (the church) to be a bride for His Son Jesus.

This concept ties in with some of what I heard years ago by John Piper in his tapes about Biblical Manhood and Womanhood. He pointed out that our earthly marriages are but a reflection of the real marriage in heaven between Christ and His church.

As I ponder these concepts, it raises my view of marriage and why God is so concerned about protecting it and why He hates divorce so much.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Military Vows, Marriage Vows

I have never been in the military, so I don't have first hand experience, but as I have been pondering the solemnity of marriage vows and the commitment for life, the closest I could come to a similar level of commitment as marriage was the military.

Article About Retrouvaille

Thought this was a great article about Retrouvaille.

Marriage Standards in Churches

This article by Jason Krafsky is meant to showcase effective ways to market a church's marriage ministry.

The article had an added bonus for me in that it showcased the high value that some churches are putting on marriages.

Some common features of these pre-marriage programs are:

1. A premarital inventory such as FOCCUS or Prepare.
2. Premarital counseling or mentoring.
3. Signing a purity pledge where you don't sleep together or live together until marriage.
4. Requiring both partners to be Christians.
5. Recommending 4 to 10 months of preparation before marriage.

I am encouraged that some churches are really upholding a high standard for marriage in their church.

Beth Moore - Love Teaching

Good teaching from Beth Moore about how to love, which can be applied to a spouse that is not very lovable right now.