What does the future of your marriage look like? 3 Questions to Ask

I’m not married to the same woman I married back in 1998.

Let me clarify. I’m married to the same human, but she’s not the same person. Really, neither one of us are. Marriage wasn’t meant to be a change of a title (single to married) or a feat to accomplish. Marriage is raw material begging to be developed into something. Like a piece of clay that just landed upon the potter’s wheel, marriage screams for hands-on, intentional growth. And your wedding day is just the first in many rotations of that potter’s wheel that helps shape us.

Often, when I encounter couples with frustrations, usually it’s in an area where one (or both) are refusing to be shaped or to grow. Growth in a healthy marriage is not optional. It’s mandatory. Without it, we fall prey to marital insanity. As the old adage says, insanity is “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” And I think it’s insane to think one or the both of you think you can keep going without growing and think the marriage can stay healthy.

I listen to podcasts all week. Most of the time, I listen to what other men and women are speaking into their congregations as it both challenges me and helps shape the craft that I love to do (preaching). Last week, it was a message of Levi Lusko (Fresh Life Church) who made a statement that sent my marriage blogging mind in a number of directions (not to mention my pastoral mind). He said,

“The future you is exaggerated version of the current you.”

How many of us are currently dealing with issues personally or maritally that are not new but have been developing from the past “you.”

  • Something happened, not because you’ve stopped communicating today, but the pattern of poor communication.
  • Resentment has grown over time, not because of an incident, but because you’ve not learned to navigate through bitterness.
  • You’re seen as selfish, not because of a one-time moment, but because you are only nice when you want something.

If I really want to grasp this, Dave and Anne today are the exaggerated version of 2017 Dave and Anne, or deeper the exaggerate version of 2013 Dave and Anne (just reviewing the past 5 years). So there’s less to blame in terms of the recent season and more the evaluation of what we allow and what we live.

When it comes to your marriage, if you want to understand the product of a marriage, check out the patterns they live by. Far too often, I have conversations with people who are seeing the proverbial “tip of the iceberg” not understanding that the issue didn’t just happen yesterday. On the most part, it’s a case of “cause and effect.” You are living the dividends of what you’ve been investing (or the lack thereof). I’ll say it this way: The “future” you will either thank you or wan to cuss at you by the decisions you engage in today.

Let me give you three questions for your marriage to ask:

What growth needs to happen?
What vision do you have for your marriage? How do you want to grow? What things would you like to see happen?  The both of you should have some input into where you both can grow together. It’s not about pointing the finger but being real with where you are now and where you want to be. For that future marriage you see, you need to understand that the current version of you needs to embrace growth and change. Which leads me to…

What do I (we) need to confess? 
What you did in one season of marriage may not be the most productive way of doing it in the next season. And confessing the area(s) that you need help in shows humility, brings accountability, and grows trust with your spouse. Pointing fingers raises up defenses; owning your shortcomings develops intimacy. I love what scripture says in the book of James. “Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed.” Hiding and ignoring grows infection; confession and vulnerability to one another restores and strengthens.

What needs to happen now?
There’s no better time than the present to begin a step of change to create the direction of change you’re wanting to see. If you want to see more happen through your marriage later, you need to allow more to happen to your marriage right now. It’s not going to transform over night, but healthy marriage are not made in a 1 or 2 of moments a year but through consistent and intentional actions over time.

The beauty of marriage is the life-long journey it is meant to be. The frustrating side is the pressure of our culture on the rate of change. So often, we measure the ability to change on the rate for which we can see the change (perhaps, that needs to be next Monday’s blog).

Love you all. Praying for you as the two of you sit down to envision the future and make the changes to see that dream come to fruition.

Encourage effort.
Celebrate progress.
Feed hope.

Thanks for letting me ramble…

BTW: Check out my book. Click on the link below.

 

How Would Your Spouse Describe You? 3 Steps To Help Reshape Their Answer

I have a fascination with photography. Maybe a part of it is because my daughter has developed into an amazing photographer. I love how passionate she is and that she’s using it to get to go to a mission’s trip to Thailand (shameless plug for her).

Love my daughter's creative eye. Obviously, this was in Washington DC.
Love my daughter’s creative eye. Obviously, this was in Washington DC.

I think the fascination is also fed because we have so many great photographers in our church community. Whenever I hit up Facebook, I see their work and find myself clicking on their pics, being proud of how gifted they are, and being bit envious of the “eye” they have for seeing what they see. If you ever need to get connect to one of them, I’d be happy to give references.

The other day, I was on my admin’s Facebook site (CXN Photography) and their posting caught my eye and stirred a blog thought.

Screen Shot
Screen Shot of CXN Photography.

What a cool idea and an amazing exercise for ANY couple to do. I asked Nicole about it and she told me how fun it was to describe your spouse and insightful it was to see how our spouse would describe you.

I sat back and thought, “If someone asked Anne to describe me, what would she say?” I would hope for things like, “He’s the sexiest man alive.” or “He’s a great husband, dad, preacher, etc.” What Colin and Nicole posted got my mind going into a such fun direction. Quite honestly, I may steal this idea as I think it’d be a blast to give to couples.

Then I found my mind going a bit deeper with it.

Instead of wondering what Anne would say, I asked myself, “what would a brutal honest exercise like this look like based on the material I give her to work with?” What was a fun little moment turned into a bit of a sober, introspective thought. So often in marriage, we are quick to place blame our spouse for what is/isn’t happening when, perhaps, we need to ask about the material we’re giving them to work with.

Sometimes I have to remind myself: I may not be the easiest thing to live with.

I know your spouse isn’t perfect (or any where close). But tossing blame is a childish game designed to shift the focus and responsibility upon someone else. It becomes our excuse to refuse to change until we see him/her change. Now, I won’t give a “permission-slip” to spouses for inappropriate or unhealthy actions, but I believe if I want to see change, then change starts with me. Perhaps, if couples exercised personal humility, they’d find an easier job experiencing marital unity (Proverbs 18:2). Why? Because you’d be working with material that is shapable instead of hardened with pride. It’s why scripture says,

Pride leads to disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom. Proverbs 11:2

The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but a wise man listens to advice. Proverbs 12:15

I’ve heard it said, “Humility is not thinking ‘less’ of yourself but thinking of yourself less.” So, today, I want to give you some great, simple steps to help develop some humility that will leverage marital health. The more humility you exercise, the more opportunity you have to grow. And from this, perhaps, you’ll begin to change how your spouse sees you and your marriage.

Ask for insight. If you know the motive of an individual, you know how to receive or trust what they have to say. First, ask the Holy Spirit for insight into your heart. Because our actions and words pour out of our heart. His motive for you is complete, unconditional love and we can trust that if He shows us something that needs to be tweaked or changed, He has our best interest at hand. I love the words of the Psalmist who said, “Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts!

Second, if you trust that your spouse loves you, then ask him/her about areas of personal growth. Don’t approach it from an aspect of “what areas to I lack in?” but “what areas do I need to grow stronger in?” I feel a positive and affirming approach facilitates momentum and encourages humility.  If you’re only doing this to get your spouse you respond the same way, you’re missing the point of the exercise and your motive is no longer selfless. Be the change; be an example.

Own your mistakes. Like a plow hitting harden soil, owning your faults will prepare for the investments of time, energy, and resource. Take the energy you use to defend yourself and redirect it into owning mistakes and asking forgiveness. Why waste time trying to defend what shouldn’t be defended. Own them, repent of them, and quit living in them.

Invest in healthy habits. At Kfirst, we’ve been saying every week that “Healthy habits create holy moments.” In other words, you can see God-moments happen in your life when you position yourself to walk in a healthy manner. Habits like:

  • Working on communication skills (just because you talk a lot doesn’t mean you communicate well).
  • Forgiving as Christ forgave.
  • Encouraging your spouse often.
  • Pray for AND with your spouse.
  • Getting proper rest.
  • Showing gratitude frequently.
  • consistent dates.

First, healthy habits are intentionally created and developed over time. We, naturally, flow toward what fits “self” and not what speaks to others. So you need to look at your daily and weekly life and be intentional about finding ONE area and making the change there.

Second, habits grow well in an atmosphere of accountability. Get help from a trusted source to both encourage you and inquire of your progress. Find a counselor. Get a mentor. But have that objective Godly source that you can be honest with and can keep you connected on the road to health.

For some of you, the question “How would your spouse describe you?” is not something that you could ask out loud. But, perhaps, it’s a question that can direct you toward some deeper introspective questions to foster some personal and marital growth.

I love you all. I’m praying for you today.

Encourage effort.
Celebrate progress.
Feed Hope.

Thanks for letting me ramble…

 

Navigating through Decisions: 4 Questions to Consider

What a great day!  We have been journeying through 1 Corinthians on Sunday at Kfirst and came to a message called “Slave to My Whims” today.  Paul, in 1 Corinthians 6:12 writes a warning to the church in Corinth to help navigate through issues of sin and Christian freedom: 

Just because something is technically legal doesn’t mean that it’s spiritually appropriate. If I went around doing whatever I thought I could get by with, I’d be a slave to my whims.

 

I’ve been asked to post a few of the notes INCLUDING the four questions to ask yourself when navigating through decisions of conduct.   So here are some of the thoughts from today along with the questions: 

  • One of the greatest symbols of the grace of God is not something we hang on a wall but Jesus displayed in a life.
  • The Human conscience, like a COMPASS, is a sensitive instrument, and can easily malfunction.
    • It can get trapped in magnetic fields that pull it off course. (WHIMS)
    • It can allow itself to be PULLED in a particular DIRECTION.
    • You need a TRUE NORTH.
  • This is where the Corinth church is at:
    • Paul says, make sure whatever activity/subject/decision, it starts in submission to the Lordship of Jesus.
    • They need a TRUE NORTH to navigate through the questions of sin and freedom in Christ.
  • Paul is determined: don’t be a slave to your whims…Jesus is YOUR TRUE NORTH

When it comes to SIN and MY FREEDOM, there are 4 QUESTIONS to ask:

  1. What does the bible say about this?
    • We must be careful to NOT simply go with our GUT/WHIMS without if we haven’t CHECKED it against biblical truth.
    • Where the bible has clearly spoken…God has clearly spoken
    • Stepping outside of the boundaries of God’s wise commands never will lead you anywhere good.
    • You need to know the difference between the “Gospel according to the Jesus” and the “Gospel according to YOU”
  2. What does the Holy Spirit tell you about your freedom?
    • Christian freedom is not freedom to do what you like, but freedom from all the things that stop you being the person God really wants you to be.
    • BUT NOTE: Submission to Christ can lead you away from things that are not an issues of sin but of Lordship. 
    • 2 Thoughts:
      • My personal preference is not an absolute truth
      • My opinion doesn’t have to be a point of division.
    • On matters of freedom in Christ…remember: 
      • Just because I CAN doesn’t mean I SHOULD
      • Just because YOU CAN’T doesn’t mean I CAN’T
      • Just because I CAN’T doesn’t mean that YOU CAN’T
      • Just because YOU CAN doesn’t mean I CAN
  3. What does Godly counsel say?
    • Chapter 9: Paul shares from his own viewpoint and experience
    • If the scripture doesn’t seem quite clean and I’m seeking direction from the Holy Spirit, I’ll seek out  CLEAR a wiser person.
      • Those who have been there…further down the road 
  4. What is the wise thing to do?
    • In light of my PAST experiences, my CURRENT circumstances, and my FUTURE hopes and dreams, what is the wise thing to do?
    • In light of my AFFECT upon people…
      • Marriage, kids, co-workers…
    • In light of my TESTIMONY…
    • There are things where freedom MAY allow but wisdom DOES NOT…
  • Jesus didn’t come to get RID of the culture; he came to REDEEM it.
    • He did it by CONFRONTING the CULTURE with the KINGDOM
    • It was his REDEMPTIVE RESPONSE
  • Christ-followers should INFLUENCE a broken culture not in REJECTION…we walk in a REDEMPTIVE RESPONSE
    • We have lives that are not driven by our whims but have Christ as the “True North”
    • It’s not about me living in PERMISSION in this life; it’s about me living in SUBMISSION.

“Jesus, lead me in the life that is completely submitted to you.”

 

 

Thanks for letting me ramble…

Part 3 from our “Live Highlight Reel” service @kalamazoofirst

Highlight Reel "Live" service

On June 30th we had our “Live” service in which our plan was to share testimonies and then answer questions from the congregation. Because of how the Lord directed the service. We’ve had to re-adjust our approach to the questions by utilizing the blog to answer the questions. In Part 1, we started with four questions while we waited for the participating couples to read and give some replies.

If you’ve missed any part of this blog, check out “Follow up from our “Live Highlight Reel” service @kalamazoofirst” and “Part 2 from our “Live Highlight Reel” service @kalamazoofirst.”

I sent off the questions that were submitted to ALL 4 couples. The couples chose different questions to answer.  Here’s our answers to the final questions:

How do you successfully heal from a divorce and trust God that maybe someone else can be out there?

When reentering the dating scene after divorce, it must be according to God’s standards.

Here’s some things that may help:

1. Heal First, Date Later

As a Christian, you can’t simply separate from your spouse one day and hit the dating field the next. And as with any loss, big or small, time is needed to grieve and to reassess who you are, where you’ve been and where God wants you to go. Healing is also necessary to follow God’s command to” do unto others what you would have them do unto you,” (Matthew 7:12). If you start dating prematurely, you could be hurting – rather than honoring – those you date.

I understand the feeling of loneliness, but dating so soon will almost inevitably lead to heartache when you are neither emotionally nor mentally available. And, until you heal, you won’t be able to relax and commit your entire heart to his new partner the way God intends.

To begin healing, you’ll want to seek counsel from committed Christ-followers who are willing to walk through the grief process with you. This may mean seeking out your pastor for support, joining a Divorce Recovery group or visiting a Christian counselor.

2. Guard Your Sexual Integrity

Some divorced church-goers try to convince themselves that God’s command to abstain from sex doesn’t apply to them – that it’s for the never-married crowd. However, Scripture is clear that it doesn’t matter if someone has been married or not, sex with someone other than your spouse is still wrong.

Don’t wait to put some practical boundaries in place, such as not staying at your date’s home overnight. You can also establish an accountability group made up of those who know and love you. That way, when you feel tempted, you can call on them for prayer and support.

Be aware that when you commit to remain celibate until you remarry, there may be some people who will try to convince you that you are being unreasonable. If a date pressures you, don’t compromise. Instead, run the other direction and resolve to date only fellow believers who share your convictions. The Bible is clear about this: Maintaining your sexual integrity is not optional; neither is getting romantically involved with someone who doesn’t share your faith (2 Cor. 6:14). Above all, God wants to come first in all you do (Matthew 6:33).

3. Think Before Involving Your Kids

Scripture warns believers to “guard your heart” (Proverbs 4:23). For the single parent, this means that you will have to do some “guarding” for your children by not involving them with your suitors too soon in a relationship. Some people hold off until engagement before introducing their significant other to their kids. (Granted, this can create other complications because you want to know how your children will respond to a potential mate prior to engagement.)

4. Stick With God’s Plan

After experiencing the comforts of marriage, it can be tempting to settle for less than God’s best. You may believe the lie that you’ll never find a godly man or woman, that you’ll have to accept whoever comes along. One way to avoid the temptation of settling is to know what’s acceptable and what’s not, to both you and God, before you start looking for love.

This is where slowing down before getting into a serious relationship helps. Not only does going slow give you time to heal, but it also helps you better assess those you date. If you have taken the time to understand yourself and the dynamics that contributed to your divorce, you are more likely to make a godly choice in choosing the second time.

If you’re contemplating dating someone new, take your time in getting to know them, and if they fall short in one of your major criteria such as faith, children or sex before marriage, make the wise choice early on by saying no to the relationship. Remember, too, that navigating the dating jungle is not easy. But, if you seek God and put Him first, He will make your paths straight (Proverbs 3:5).

What was the most funny thing every happened in your marriage?

Lori & Scot:  Well, it may not be the most funny thing that ever happened, but it certainly was a cute thing.  When we were planning to get remarried, Scot asked Lori, “Look, I don’t want to put any pressure on you at all, so you don’t even have to answer this question if it makes you feel uncomfortable.  But, when you think about getting married again, are you thinking that is something we might do in 2 years, in 2 months, or in 2 weeks?” “Oh, I don’t think 2 years, maybe more like 2 months,” Lori replied.

“Well, what do you think about going to the courthouse tomorrow to pick up a marriage license?  I checked into it, and they’re good for 60 days.”

“OK, that seems fine.”

So the next day, we went to the courthouse, and the clerk asks “Have either of you been married before.”

“Yes, we were both married before.”

“OK, then I’m going to need a copy of each of your divorce decrees.”

Lori plunked down the document from Hell right on the counter.

The clerk got a quizzical look on her face as she waited for Scot to do likewise.

“Well, we were married to each other, actually,” Lori explained, “so there’s only one decree.”

“Oh, where were you married?” asked the clerk.

“Well, actually, right here in DuPage County.”

“Oh, well then, let me look you up in the system. Oh, wow, your wedding anniversary is coming up, in just a few days!  Gee, you could get married on the same day!”

Lori looked over at Scot and saw the impish grin on his face.  “Well, I guess it was just meant to be,” she said.

And that’s how we ended up getting married four days later – on the same date as our original wedding, in the same town, at a retired judge’s offices a couple blocks away from the church where we were first married.

Sometimes God speaks to us through other people.

QUESTION FOR SCOTT AND LORI: How has God transformed your love for one another now compared to the past?

Lori & Scot:  Realistic Expectations – As a young couple, we had such a great love for each other, that we came to rely just on each other.  We each put our new spouse on a pedestal and set expectations (for them and for ourselves) that were not realistic.  Ultimately, no one could live up to such expectations; in the end, we both had feet of clay and failed to fit the idealized image the other spouse had constructed.  Now that we have the third strand of Ecclesiastes 4:12 in our marriage, we look to God to sustain us and to fill up the empty feelings we might have when our spouse disappoints us. We accept the humanity in each other and ourselves more than we used to.  It is a more realistic love, but also a more human and accepting love.

Empathetic Conflict Resolution – We also deal with conflict much more lovingly than we used to.  One of the most important things Scot learned was that it was so much more important to understand Lori’s concerns / complaints than it is to prove them ill-founded or invalid.  Often the very act of “getting to the bottom” of the issue will help Lori understand the matter better in her own mind.  Sometimes it turns out that the initial complaint isn’t even the main issue, but rather it is peripheral to the real hurt.  Now that Scot doesn’t immediately jump into defensive or combat mode, he can draw these feelings out of Lori – oftentimes revealing an insight for her about her emotions that she couldn’t have even explained to herself.

Colossians 3:12-14 NLT

Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tender-hearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience.  Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you.  Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others.  Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony.

More Balanced Relationship – In our first marriage, the relationship was very loving, but fundamentally unbalanced.  By force of personality and strength of will, Scot dominated decision-making and even conversation. It wasn’t so much that he didn’t have regard for Lori, but he didn’t necessarily give her the time to articulate her opinions or wishes.  In our second marriage, decision-making is more collaborative.  Lori’s input comes into play more often and earlier in the process.  Scot is more conscious of giving Lori the time she needs to put her thoughts into words so that conversations are more give-and-take.

My wife and I have been married for almost five years, any advice for the next fifty?

From Jim Wesner: Advice on the next fifty? Know how to deal with conflicts. When things get loud and things begin to escalate I like to get away from the argument and think things over by myself.  If I don’t I say things that I will regret later. I don’t mean days of the silent treatment as we try to resolve and forgive one another the  same day. I married this Godly and wonderful woman and after thinking things over the things that caused the argument seem trivial and not even worth remembering. One other thought, as we get older we grow more alike to the point that we  very seldom have major disagreements. I love my Wife more now than the day we got married. Enough of my lip flapping, I hope this will help someone.

Ryan and Katie: Clearly at 32 years of age and after 11 years of marriage, we’re in no position to provide advice on how to get to the big 5-0. But we can tell you that, in our experience, somewhere between 5 and 7 years is where many marriage start to breakdown.  We’ve seen statistics that say the breakdown starts as early as 3.5-5 years. Either way, the trend is that the ‘honeymoon phase’ ends, you wake up thinking “Who is this person I’ve married?” and romance gets trumped by money problems and family issues. Our advice for those between 3 and 10 years of marriage is this – TAKE PRECAUTIONS BECAUSE IT CAN HAPPEN TO YOU TOO! We have many friends – most of them Christians – who divorced during this time period
and who never ever thought it would happen to them.

We recommend that you:

  • Decide – together, out loud – that you’re in this for the long haul.
  • Make time for each other and for romance.
  • Find ways to make the other person feel special – even when they’re driving you absolutely crazy. Learn your spouse’s love language.
  • Be careful about what you read, watch and listen to. Falling in love is a fabulous feeling. The media we often surround ourselves with puts this experience up on a pedestal and insinuates that hook-ups and Ross-chases-Rachel scenarios are the stuff of life. Right around the time your marriage starts feeling like old hat, too much exposure to television, movies or even mainstream music can make you ‘itch’ for the thrill dating. Sometimes affairs happen because of this ‘seven year itch’ or because one spouse feels unappreciated by the other and is looking for affirmation that they are still desirable. Media can exacerbate this situation because it gives us a pre-conceived (often false) idea of what it means to be happy, in love and desirable.
  • Communicate. Talk openly and honestly with each other, but with kindness. Be forgiving. We have always taken the ‘don’t go to bed angry’ advice to heart and it has generally made us predisposed to working through our problems rather than letting them fester. (Generally…)
  • Speak well of your spouse, even if you’re joking.  Speaking poorly about your spouse gives way to disrespect and creates an expectation from your peers that your marriage is bad, which will inevitably influence your view of your own marriage.

Did any of you ever struggle with agreeing to tithe?

Absolutely we did.  Some couples discover it together.  Some were raise completely different and understand “giving” from another perspective.

Because tithing involves money, it is a prime candidate for controversy between a husband and wife. However, if both spouses are Christians, they should have a desire to please the Lord.

It’s important for both spouses to understand God’s principles of finance. That way, they’ll know that tithing is God-ordained, not just a personal desire that one spouse is trying to impose on the other. Giving should come from the heart. As such, tithing is not a law but, rather, an indicator of obedience to all of God’s laws. Because the tithe’s purpose is to be an individual or family testimony of God’s ownership, it was never intended that everyone should give the same amount or in the same way but that each should give bountifully and cheerfully (2 Corinthians 9:6-7).

The problem becomes more complicated when one spouse is an unbeliever. Since it is the responsibility of the husband to be the leader in his home, if the wife is an unbeliever, husbands must obey the Lord’s direction. Husbands need to realize, however, that the Lord is more concerned about the wife’s soul than about money. If tithing becomes an obstacle to the wife, husbands should consider not tithing temporarily in order to win their wives to the Lord. Husbands need to counsel their wives, pray with them, and seek their opinion and direction but according to God’s Word the decision is ultimately the husband’s. Because most wives in America today are looking for the strong leadership that seems to be lacking in many marriages, husbands need to take the lead regarding tithing.

If the unbelieving spouse is the husband, the believing wife should submit to his wishes and trust that her submissive attitude will win him to the Lord (1 Peter 3:1-6). Remember it is not the money but the attitude of the heart about which the Lord is most concerned. If wives have made commitments to give and their husbands object to giving, God sees the desire of the wives’ hearts to tithe and He will honor that commitment, even though wives honor their husbands’ wishes. God will bless because of the wife’s attitude, not because of giving.

However, a wife might still ask her husband to let her give an amount smaller than the tithe for at least a year. If, at the end of the year, the family is worse off financially as a result of giving, she will agree to stop giving. If the family is better off, the husband may agree to give more. In Malachi 3:10, the Lord says to test Him in this thing (tithing). Often this is just the opportunity for God to prove Himself real to a doubting spouse.

Giving the tithe is the outward expression of inner commitment — or lack of it. It is material and financial surrender prompted by spiritual surrender. However, if couples do not tithe because one spouse objects to tithing, the subject should be placed “on the back burner,” until they are able to discuss and study the principles of tithing together.

What’s your favorite brand of chicken soup?

Lori & Scot:  Homemade!!!

Ryan and Katie: It’s a secret recipe. I’d spill the beans, but I’m bound by a stringent Non-Compete Agreement.

 

I want to thank these couples for putting there hearts and lives out there to speak of God’s grace, strength, and love in their marriage.  We’ve had so many reports of people, both single and married, that have been greatly encouraged. Blessings upon you four couples!!!

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Follow up from our “Live Highlight Reel” service @kalamazoofirst

Highlight Reel "Live" service

It’s hard to put into words the powerful service we had yesterday at Kfirst. There have been so many comments give about the service from people who were there as well as the many who were away on vacation.

“It was one of the best services ever!”

“Blows my mind how God’s healing power has healed so many marriages including my own. He does for us what we could never do.”

“Only God can change our test to Testimony. The best Service ever! thank you all!”

“It was so amazing. I am truly blessed by all of the testimonies. God knows what we need to hear. So encouraging.”

“If your going to do this again please supply Kleenex boxes in each row… Every other seat!”

“I’m bummed that I had to miss the service this morning. From what I’ve read it was GREAT. Do you happen to know if it was recorded or a video made? Sure hope so.”

“Amazing service this morning. Thank you to the couples for humbly sharing their imperfections!”

“We were away on vacation but have seen this all over facebook. I can’t wait to listen online.”

“Yesterday’s service was incredible! I am sure it gave many people the faith and encouragement they need to not give up on their marriages. I needed a Kleenex and our marriage is in good shape.”

To the type of responses we got, for what happened yesterday, we “do all to the glory of God.”

I’ve sent off the questions that were submitted to ALL 4 couples.  I’m awaiting their response back to me.  So what I’m going to do this week is to take a few of the questions and give a reply as we wait for these wonderful people to reply to today’s questions as well as the rest of the ones submitted.

Here are a few questions from yesterday…

Do you feel important to have the same beliefs and views before you enter into marriage? Why or why not?

Absolutely!  These are conversations that couples fail to have before marriage that lead to misery after marriage.  Why? When it comes to worship styles, denominations, theology, etc, we bring who we were and what spiritual atmosphere we were raised in into our marriage.  When it comes to choosing where you will worship with your spouse as a church home, major contention can arise because of expectations that were not communicated and/or understood.  Then you add children into the mix.  It’s amazing how many couples want to fall back on where they were raised in their childhood and how they want their kids raised in a similar fashion regardless of how their mate grew up. 

The top question I have: Does the “potential spouse” follow Christ? Philippians 2:2 “complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind (one in spirit and purpose).”  Even thought the context is the body of Christ (the church), the principle of our marriage is there.  Your joy in your marriage will never be complete if you both are not in one accord in your thoughts, love, and spirit. You can’t have the “same minded” if you love Jesus and he/she doesn’t. If you don’t have the “same love” of you love Jesus but she/he doesn’t. Being one in spirit and purpose is extremely difficult if you know Jesus and he/she has no connection at all.

Please don’t say, “but he/she believes in God”.  Awesome.  The bible says in James that the demons believe and God and tremble. Please don’t let the “he/she believes in God” as your standard. All it does is it puts them on the bottom rung of standards. Raise them up and find a Christ-follower.

Please don’t say, “He/she loves God! They’re just not into the church thing.” I’ll reply with this: if he/she isn’t dedicated to a church, I’m going to question the strength of their walk with God. I’d want to see the commitment they have to the body of Christ.  I’d want to see how they serve. If he/she isn’t committed to a church community, there’s serious “red flags” that would be there for me.

What is the best advice to keep the “flame burning” for young couples with children?

Anne and I are on the other side of this with Cammi being a teenager and able to watch Ethan. We understand the frustration.

I want to get some great advice from the book of Revelation

Revelation 2:2-5 “‘I know your works, your toil and your patient endurance, and how you cannot bear with those who are evil, but have tested those who call themselves apostles and are not, and found them to be false. I know you are enduring patiently and bearing up for my name’s sake, and you have not grown weary. But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first. Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first. If not, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place, unless you repent.”

The word to the church in Ephesus is simple: You are doing all of the stuff that you are supposed to be doing.  All of the actions meet the requirements. But something is missing.  You love/passion has gone out.

Sounds like marriage doesn’t it?

The beauty is how God doesn’t abandon them in their spinning carousel of doing the proper actions hoping that feelings/emotions/mentality catches up.  He gives them careful instruction. “…Repent, and do the works you did at first.”

The word “repent” means a changing of the mind. With Kids in the picture, there has to be patience and creativity mixed in to “fan the flame” for each other.  As Anne stated two Sundays ago, “When our kids were younger, and I was feeling “touched to death”, all day long, my body was not my own…and the last thing I wanted was one more person to touch me. Some of you are in that stage. I just want to say there will always be “roadblocks” that are established by our own flesh.” You have to purpose to recognize the “roadblock” as well as how to work around it.

Secondly, Revelation says “do the works you did at first“. You have to ask the questions, “how did I catch my spouses’ eye during courtship?”, “what get’s their attention?”, or “what is their love language?” Again, it’s getting your eyes off of your needs and getting pleasure from seeing your spouse fulfilled.  This can be a struggle for most men who want to meet their wife’s needs but discover that her needs have nothing to do with sex. It’s also a struggle when it’s only one spouse working on the marriage while trying to be selfless.

Some simple practical tips:
– Put the kids to bed and plan time together to watch a movie/show (get the popcorn out).
– Plan, at a minimum, one date night a month where you have a baby sitter.  It doesn’t have to be expensive at all.  Anne and I discover that walks do more for us than an expensive dinner or a movie.
– Find something you both enjoy and do it.
– If you are a list maker and/or heavy scheduler, plan/schedule time with your spouse and protect that.  When people have contacted me for an appointment, I’ve guarded that time.  I simple say, “I have something scheduled”.

Is interracial marriage accepted or allowed by God?

The Law (Deuteronomy 7:3-4), in the Old Testament, charged Israel not to engage in interracial marriage. However, a closer look at this shows the reasoning for this was not completely racial in nature. Rather, it was religious. The reasoning behind God commanding against interracial marriage was that people of other races were worshippers of false gods. To intermarry would open the Israelites to be led astray from God. A very similar principle is laid out in 2 Corinthians 6:14, but at a much different level: “Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness?” Just as Israel (believers in the one true God) were commanded not to marry idolaters, so Christians (believers in the one true God) are commanded not to marry unbelievers.

To answer this question specifically: No, the Bible does not say that interracial marriage is wrong.

As Martin Luther King said, he dreamed of a nation where people will “not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.” There is absolutely no place in the life of the Christ-follower for favoritism based on race (James 2:1-10). When selecting a mate, a Christ-follower should always first find out if the potential spouse is following Christ as well.  Faith in Christ, not skin color, is the biblical standard for choosing a spouse. Interracial marriage is not a matter of right or wrong, but of wisdom, discernment, and prayer as in how EVERY marriage should be approached.

What are ways you diffuse anger/frustration to keep joy in your marriage? Referring to those moments that get blown out of proportion and can ruin a day.

I understand where you are coming from.  I had anger issues late in my teens and in early adulthood.

Ecclesiastes 7:9 says “Be not quick in your spirit to become angry, for anger lodges in the bosom of fools.”

Here’s some practical things to do:

1 – Time outs (couples from premarital counseling will recognize this)
– Recognize your need for a break in your disagreement.
– Request a time out for yourself
– Relax and calm down
– Remember what’s important
– Resume the conversation
2 – Look through their eyes.
– Slip inside of their skin and see the issue from their perspective. It will give you some understanding from where they are coming from.
3 – Look at their heart.
– Even as pastors, we have to constantly look at the heart of the individual instead of their actions.  I’ve seen people lash out that I have no offense of.  Why? I could see what was lashing out was the hurt and fracture they’ve experienced.  I knew their heart and, therefore, could interpret their outburst better.
4 – Don’t go for the win for you.  Go for the win for the marriage.
– It’s not about seeing the individual get the “win”.  It’s about seeing the marriage win.

There’s the start of our questions.  There’s more to come as our couples send in their replies.

Thanks for letting me ramble…