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!!!

1064294_10152978129825402_344554077_o

 

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…