Affairs and fruit.

“I do not expect that we will ever have serious problems in our marriage.”

It’s one of the statements in the premarital counseling questioner that I have couples respond to.  Most of the time, one person will disagree and the partner will agree.  I am ALWAYS fascinated to hear the reasonings of their answers.  I then follow-up with a simple question: 

What is your definition of “serious problems”?

The majority of responses: adultery/affairs.

It’s in that moment in their first appointment where they learn a powerful thing about adultery: Yes it’s a problem. But you have to see much deeper.  It’s the fruit/result of deeper problems.  Don’t get me wrong.  I don’t take adultery lightly…and I never will.  But we have too many couples that are taking the issue of adultery and labeling it as a symptom of a bad marriage instead of the fruit of a struggling one.  

I have a thing for apples…specifically Honey Crisp Apples.  I swear, every time I eat one, I feel like I’m drinking down a glass of cider at the same time. Thus the marvel of eating a Honey Crisp Apple. I don’t know how you cannot believe in God after eating one.

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But a perfect apple doesn’t just happen.  It’s the fruit that…

…grew from a bloom…
…which grew from a branch…
…which grows from a trunk…
…which grew from a seed…
…which grew from the soil…
…which needed sunlight and water…
…which probably needed tending by someone watching over it. 

Fruit doesn’t just happen.  It’s the result of a process designed to lead to what you experience. 

You don’t fall into an affair.  It’s the result (the fruit) of a process designed to lead you into a destructive experience. If there’s any take-away from today’s blog it’s this:

Infidelity is carried out in the mind and heart much longer before you see the fruit of it carried out with your body.  

Proverbs 4:23 says, 

Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life.

In Hebraic thought, the heart was the seat of intellect and will.  We, in our western culture, picked the heart as the seat of emotion.  So when we read this scripture, it challenges us to guard our mind and will.  Why? Because our thinking/will determines the course of our life…specifically, today, our married life.

When the mind begins to conceive ideas about people not our spouse…
…when our mind begins to fantasize about scenarios with other people
…when we compare our marriage journey to someone else’s journey.
…when we get fixated on being discontent

…when we disconnect our thoughts from our spouse

…we set the course of our lives in a direction that can result in fruit you never dreamed you’d be partaking from.

Simply said: If you want to protect the life of your marriage, you need to guard your mind.  And that happens by following through with simple, intentional, biblically practical actions. Pray with AND for each other.  Keep healthy communication flowing. Don’t stop dating/pursuing each other. Keep your sex consistent.  Fight fair. Foster a light heart and laughter.

None of us are exempt from temptation. But if you’re waiting for the fruit to come to change your mind about your marriage being susceptible to “serious problems”, then you are setting yourself up for failure.  

You want to guard against the fruit of an affair?  Get rid of the seeds of it.

And it starts with guarding your mind simply, biblically, and intentionally. 

Thanks for letting me ramble… 

 

 

2 Minute Marriage Devo – Day 16

Welcome to our 2 Minute Devos. This month we are in our Annual Marriage Series at Kalamazoo First Assembly of God and we’re going through devotions for couples. Take the time to read through the passage of the day and listen to the 2 Minute Devo.

Job 31:1

I made a covenant with my eyes not to look with lust at a young woman.

2 Minute Devo Series: Book of Matthew Day 8

Welcome to our 2 Minute Devos.  This month we’re going through the Book of Matthew.  Take the time to read through the passage of the day and listen to the 2 Minute Devo.

Matthew 7:12-29

English Standard Version (ESV)

The Golden Rule

12 “So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.

13 “Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy[a] that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. 14 For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.

A Tree and Its Fruit

15 “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. 16 You will recognize them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? 17 So, every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit.18 A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 Thus you will recognize them by their fruits.

I Never Knew You

21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ 23 And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’

Build Your House on the Rock

24 “Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25 And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. 26 And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. 27 And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it.”

The Authority of Jesus

28 And when Jesus finished these sayings, the crowds were astonished at his teaching, 29 for he was teaching them as one who had authority, and not as their scribes.

2 Minute Devo: “It starts with a decision” Luke 3:7-14

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October is our journey through the 2 minute series called “Resurrecting Repentance”.  It’s as simple as viewing the vlog and reading the passage for the day.  Today’s passage is Luke 3:7-14:

Luke 3:7-14

He said therefore to the crowds that came out to be baptized by him, “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bear fruits in keeping with repentance. And do not begin to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ For I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children for Abraham. Even now the axe is laid to the root of the trees. Every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.”

10 And the crowds asked him, “What then shall we do?” 11 And he answered them, “Whoever has two tunics[a] is to share with him who has none, and whoever has food is to do likewise.”12 Tax collectors also came to be baptized and said to him, “Teacher, what shall we do?” 13 And he said to them, “Collect no more than you are authorized to do.” 14 Soldiers also asked him, “And we, what shall we do?” And he said to them, “Do not extort money from anyone by threats or by false accusation, and be content with your wages.”

2 Minute Devo: “Growing Joy” Galatians 5:16-26

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September is our journey through the 2 minute series called “Restoring Joy”.  I want to invite you to join me as we. It’s as simple as viewing  the vlog and reading the passage for the day.  Today’s passage is Galatians 5:16-26:

Galatians 5:16-26

16 But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. 17 For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do.18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. 19 Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, 20 idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, 21 envy,[a] drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience,kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. 24 And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.

25 If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit. 26 Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.

2 Minute Marriage Devo: “Does your spouse taste fruit?” #marriage

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June is our journey through some scripture selections on the topic of Marriage.  I want to invite you to join me. It’s as simple as looking at the blog and reading the passage for the day.  Today’s passage is John 15:5

John 15:5

I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.

“Fruitful Fights”

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I can’t say that Anne and I ever fought while dating. Both of us were very compromising about most issues…well every issue. I don’t think it was because we were so compatible (see “The Myth of Compatibility“). I think we had no desire to “stir the waters”.  It could have been out of fear and avoidance. It could’ve been for a lack of knowledge of how to deal with conflict. It probably was all of the above.  But for whatever reason, conflict was restrained and nonexistent.

Then the dreaded day of days happened: Registering for our wedding shower.  It started with toasters. Apparently, the toaster I liked didn’t “go” with the kitchen she envisioned. This was new territory for us (conflict, not toasters).  Conflict was a path that we had never traveled before. We were perplexed. Personally, I felt like I had no say or opinion. She felt like I didn’t understand. We didn’t know what to do with this.

My way of resolving it: I gave in to her stupid toaster.

Then it got worse.  Out of frustration of not getting MY toaster, I took the scanner Target gave us and I scanned a bag of pretzels and a bottle of Coke. That was all it took. The gloves came off.  Right there in Target, voices were raised, tears were flowing, and two stubborn individuals went toe-to-toe. What was this fight even about?

Pretzels.

I want to give you a TRUTH: There are battles in our marriage have no reason or right to be fought. I call them “fruitless arguments”. I’m not saying you shouldn’t have disagreements.  But there are people who firmly strive for debates and arguments.  It’s what they get their identity from.  If that’s you, stop getting your spouse ticked off because it’s “fun”. Grow up and treat him/her with respect!

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2 Timothy 2:23 says, “Again I say, don’t get involved in foolish, ignorant arguments that only start fights.” The context of the verse isn’t about marriage.  BUT…there is a powerful warning that comes from it that we can easily apply to marriage.

The words “don’t get involved” comes from one Greek word paraitéomai.  The word is used in a number of ways that means refuse, deny, shun, etc. Now hang with me here…

One of the ancient uses for this particular word is excusing yourself for not accepting a wedding invitation.  Now read the verse in the context of marriage.  “In your marriage, decline the invitation of foolish, ignorant arguments.”  Don’t even entertain them.  Avoid them.  They are unfruitful.  See past them to the bigger issues.

Our stupid little scuffle was just, to use a cliché, the tip of the iceberg. If we really took a proper look at the situation, we would have seen beyond the foolishness. We needed to see past toasters and pretzels to see we had some serious breakdowns. We were not communicating expectations correctly and we absolutely sucked at conflict resolution. But what got in the way was our pride.  And pride will keep you blind to your selfishness and send you into an argument in a “when at all costs” mentality.  The problem is when couples don’t check their pride at the door and “fruitless arguments” cost the joy, peace, and possibly the marriage.

Am I saying you won’t have fights?  Absolutely not.  When two imperfect, broken individuals get married, you’re going to have scuffles. As I said last Sunday, if you two are the same all the time, then one of you is not necessary. The point is to keep clear of foolish, unproductive, and ignorant fights. There’s nothing productive to them.

How do you avoid pointless arguments? 
1. Work on your communication skills.  If you wait to work on them when tempers start rising, it’s too late.  Get working on them today.
2. Chill out and take a seat. Take a chance to calm down and think through what needs to be communicated.  What is the main point? Is that really the main point or is there a bigger issue at hand?
3. You don’t have to always win. Stop being competitive with things that have no right to be competitive about. If you are a “win at all costs” person, you will lose EVERY time.
4. Speak with respect.  Pointless arguments have no room for respect.  When you foster respect and honor, you chase away that which wants to make you unfruitful.
5. Active listening. Eye contact, head nodding, being able to identify what your spouse is feeling as well as being able to restate back to them what you’ve just heard.  Like communication, active listening has to be worked on before fights begin.

Listen to the next verse, “And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil,  correcting his opponents with gentleness.

Do you see the words given? They’re a tremendous help to defend and guide fruitless arguments and create “fruitful fights”.
1. Kind: Showing genuine kindness.  Even if we don’t think he/she deserves it.
2. Able to teach: This means stepping into the situation educated about what is going on instead of flying off the handle without knowing the facts. You can see the side of it and be objective about it…especially if you find you are at fault.
3. Patiently enduring evil: Patience is severely underestimated especially if what is being done to you is wrong/evil.  Exercise patience with your spouse and don’t let your temper feed the flames.
4. Gentleness: It’s not about being a wuss.  Nor is it sugar-coating the topic.  This is being gentle in words, spirit, and actions as to be able to convey communication in a way that your spouse will hear and receive the info.

The prize?  Fruitfulness. 2 Timothy 2:25-26 God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will.

Can you get better fruit than repentance (having a change/transformation of mind and heart) and escape from that which trapped you? I can’t imagine so.

Be fruitful with your fights.  Walk in wisdom and humility.

TRUTH: Don’t look for you get a win.  Look for your marriage to win!

Practice patience & discretion to keep the peace in your home.

Thanks for letting me ramble…