The Flyover: 11 Marriage Conference Thoughts

I’m a pastor who loves to preach series. Why? There are so many sections of scripture, subjects, thoughts, and topics that are waaaaay too much for one sermon. And I think, us pastors, can be at fault for giving so much info packed in one message that it makes it impossible for people to digest and use in their every day lives.

So often, I’ll begin the series with a “flyover” message. Essentially, it’s a view of the main passage or thought behind the series from about 30,000 feet. In other words, you’re going to see a few things from the surface that, the closer you get, will be far deeper to tackle.

Anne and I are taking off today to do another marriage conference. And as I was on my run today, I thought to myself, “If I could boil down a marriage conference into a flyover, what would that look like?”

So here’s my post-run flyover of what I hope every couple can gather from a marriage enrichment weekend:

  1. Your marriage is more normal than you realize.
    • You’re not the only one to deal with what you are facing. You are not alone in your struggles and challenges. There are more like you that God has worked in and through.
  2. Healthy sexuality is more important than you realize and it’s nothing of what society likes to emphasize. 
    • God created sex as a gift to be enjoyed, explored, and indulged in your marriage.
  3. Communication is just like firewood.
    • I learned that in survival situations, whenever you think you have enough firewood, double it. Because what you demand for survival will be more than you think you need.
  4. There’s no such thing as too much grace and forgiveness.
    • I’m not speaking of trust nor am I asking for someone to be in an abusive situation. BUT we ought to be giving out grace and forgiveness the way God give it. He operates like Five Guys and their fries; what you ask for, He gives beyond expectation. And THAT make you keep coming back.
  5. Fun may be the most underestimated aspect of marriage.
    • We invest so much into it BEFORE marriage and we forget how necessary it is after. If it’s how you “fell in love” then why don’t we continue it to feed the passion?
  6. Marriage is brutal on selfish people. 
    • The best marriage is two servants in love. Servants live to please someone else and that someone should be Christ and your spouse.
  7. Jesus is not the “third wheel” but the “third strand.” 
  8. Trust is not the same as forgiveness.
    • Forgiveness is immediate; trust is built. In fact, trust is like breaking a piece of fine china; with patience, hard work, and care, it can’t be put back together.
  9. Believe the motives OF your spouses heart, more than the assumptions you built up ABOUT your spouse. 
    • If you know his/her heart, then let the be the filter you work though. Your mind will conjure up scenarios that will add unnecessary anger, anxiety, and apprehension to you.
  10. Not everybody needs to know your business.
    • Have healthy boundaries with parents, friends, and social media. Keep Christ as your closest and first confident and your spouse as your next.
  11. It’s not weakness to ask for help; It’s weakness to NOT ask. 
    • Pride is the only thing keeping you from seeking good, healthy, and Godly counsel. Work together and work with someone.

I hope this can encourage and help someone today.

Love you all. Pray for us this weekend as we travel to the east side of Michigan and come back to Kalamazoo for Sunday.

Encourage effort.
Celebrate progress.
Feed hope.

 

Thanks for letting me ramble…

 

Monday Kfirst Kickstart: 2 Next Steps for Week 3 of #Playlist

Today I want to give you a place to start your week. It’s Monday, and sometimes in the wake of a great weekend and long workweek ahead, you just need a kickstart to get focused.  So grab some coffee let’s start a great week together. 

Yesterday we had a fantastic day at Kfirst. We continued our series “Playlist” as we looked at Psalm 125 (Read Psalm 125) as we talked about trusting God. The one thought that has been stirring me over the past week is this: 

When we stop trusting God in an area, are we not questioning His goodness and putting more trust in our own goodness? Because if God is completely good, then we need to completely trust Him.

Here’s are two Next Steps for this week: 

  1. Trust God with ONE thing.
    • What is ONE thing you need to trust God with that you’ve been holding onto? Trust doesn’t built itself; it’s purposefully built one step at a time. 
    • Submit whatever that ONE thing is to the Holy Spirit. He can do in seconds what it may take you years to do.
  2. Exercise that trust with ONE simple step of faith.
    • God will give you the stability, security, and strength.  All you need to do is to step forward in obedience, trusting God. How can you step forward into trusting God with that ONE thing. Practical trust takes our good intentions and turns them into progress following Christ. 
    • Something powerful happens when we take God at His word AND believe that what He has in store from us is good.

Trust begins when we make God a priority and not just a passing thought. Find that ONE thing today and start the habit of trusting God. 

BTW: Here’s the song we did yesterday at the end of service:

 

Broken Trust: 8 Ways to rebuild trust back into your marriage.

He heals the brokenhearted and bandages their wounds Psalm 147:3

Trust is a necessary element and is the foundation of every healthy relationship. In fact, trust is the security that makes intimacy possible in marriage. Like an organism, it must be nurtured and not ignored. My dad taught me years ago.  

“Trust is like fine china; it’s beautiful to have but it can be broken quickly.  And to fix it, it takes a lot of time, effort, and patience to put it back together.”

That’s stuck with me for years.  I don’t know any other accurate way to describe the value and fragility of trust.

I’ve never met a relationship that hasn’t encountered difficulties with trust.  I would even argue that most difficulties in relationships stem directly from a breach of trust.  I’m not saying everyone has had devastating circumstances, but we all have had moments where trust, on some level, has been compromised.

Marriage requires strong trust.  So I’m giving you a list that may give you a few ways to build it (or rebuild it).

1 – Trust does not equal forgiveness. Forgiveness and trust are two different things. When you’ve been wronged, you should give forgiveness instantly (which is “Grace”), but you should build your trust slowly. Forgiveness by it’s very nature cannot be earned; it can only be given. Therefore, we forgive the way God forgives us: instantly. Trust by it’s very nature cannot be given; it can only be earned…built. For that, it takes time and effort (reference the opening illustration about the cup). Forgiveness has to come first and then grace can pave the way to restoration and renewed trust.

2 – Stop dancing around the subject.  Be open and honest. Take responsibility.  “The devil made me do it doesn’t work.” Healthy steps forward begins with complete and utter transparency. The offender must own his or her sin without any “yeah-buts.” It’s not okay to say, “I’m sorry I hurt you and let you down, but . . . ” It’s never okay to rationalize or justify sin. Ever. The only way to rebuild trust is to take full responsibility for our actions. Period. It’s also critical for the offended person to do some self-assessment as well. Broken trust is rarely 100% the other person’s fault.

3 – Humility is king.  We love to cover up the embarrassment of our faults.  Don’t be defensive, righteous, or casual about the problem. It’s nothing more than a smoke screen trying to distract away from what needs to be dealt with. There must be a sincere heart as well as honest effort to work out the issues.  If you are the one who is at fault, the more defensive/righteous/casual you are, the less you are able to hear what your spouse has to say, and the worse their hurt will get.

4 – Don’t obsess.  Whether you were wronged or you were the perpetrator, take steps forward by letting go of the past. When you obsess over each insult, each act, each thing done wrong – you are not giving yourself time to heal from it. You need to heal in order to begin to trust again.  If you’re hurt by your spouse’s actions, work on releasing and moving forward.  Living in the past continues to open up the wound.  If you’re the one who did the hurting, stop fixating on your fault.  If God has forgiven you and your spouse has forgiven you, then you need to forgive YOU.

5 – Accountability; Be an open book. That means open your cell phone, calendar, email, and social media to your spouse. (Free Marriage Tip: Anytime you are feeling the need to hide something from your spouse should be a red flag…unless it’s a surprise birthday gift.) Accountability is usually the hardest part. Why? People feel entitled to privacy. The problem is that smacks against the “oneness” that marriage is called to operate in.  Be willing to temporarily give up some freedoms.  At this point, you will need to take a moment and ask yourself what is really important: your relationship or your privacy? It really comes down to that.

6 – Patience and hard work.  Time doesn’t heal everything but it applies to every part of the healing process.  Just as you can’t make a wound on your arm heal, you can’t make the heart heal overnight.  A gift doesn’t make the hurt go away. Sex doesn’t make the problem disappear.  You need a patience heart, listening ears, and intentional and consistent actions that will aid in the rebuilding of trust.   Set some goals.  Work on them together.  Review the results and reward the efforts (not the results).  

7 – Practice the three As daily: Affection, Attention and Appreciation. Communicate with words and actions to your partner how much you love and appreciate them in big and small ways every day.  Speak in their love languages and help them understand you are desiring health and healing.  If you are the offended, your spouse feels like a failure and you do NOT want to keep them there.  If you are the offender, make sure you stay engaged with your spouse.  Let them know you are a trust-builder more than a trust-breaker.

8 – Get some help.  Don’t be afraid to seek out counseling with a trusted advisor whether it’s a marriage counselor or a pastor.  Even though it’s easy to get help from a friend, you need to find someone who is non-partial and as some wisdom to speak some Godly wisdom into your marriage.  Make sure the help is for the both of you.  (Another marriage tip:  avoid involving other family members because it can exacerbate the situation.)

I return to our opening scripture, 

He heals the brokenhearted and bandages their wounds Psalm 147:3

I believe everything we do in life should model who God is. He is the healer of brokenness.  He doesn’t leave us in a fractured state.  And just as God moves toward us in that manner, we should model that in every area of our life…ESPECIALLY our marriage.

Be a rebuilder of trust. Bind up the brokenness in your marriage.

Be known as a healer…just like our savior is.  

Thanks for letting me ramble…

2 Minute Marriage Devo – Day 6

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.

Proverbs 19:1

Better is a poor person who walks in his integrity than one who is crooked in speech and is a fool.

2 Minute Devo: “Who do you trust?” Psalm 20

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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 Psalm 20:

Psalm 20

May the Lord answer you in the day of trouble!

    May the name of the God of Jacob protect you!
May he send you help from the sanctuary
and give you support from Zion!
May he remember all your offerings
and regard with favor your burnt sacrifices! Selah

May he grant you your heart’s desire
and fulfill all your plans!
May we shout for joy over your salvation,
and in the name of our God set up our banners!
May the Lord fulfill all your petitions!

Now I know that the Lord saves his anointed;
he will answer him from his holy heaven
with the saving might of his right hand.
Some trust in chariots and some in horses,
but we trust in the name of the Lord our God.
They collapse and fall,
but we rise and stand upright.

O Lord, save the king!
May he answer us when we call.

2 Minute Devo: “Fearless Trust” Isaiah 12

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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 Isaiah 12:

Isaiah 12

 You[a] will say in that day:
“I will give thanks to you, O Lord,
for though you were angry with me,
your anger turned away,
that you might comfort me.

“Behold, God is my salvation;
I will trust, and will not be afraid;
for the Lord God[b] is my strength and my song,
and he has become my salvation.”

With joy you[c] will draw water from the wells of salvation. And you will say in that day:

“Give thanks to the Lord,
call upon his name,
make known his deeds among the peoples,
proclaim that his name is exalted.

“Sing praises to the Lord, for he has done gloriously;
let this be made known[d] in all the earth.
Shout, and sing for joy, O inhabitant of Zion,
for great in your[e] midst is the Holy One of Israel.”

2 Minute Marriage Devo: “Who/What do you trust?” #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 Isaiah 31:1

Isaiah 31:1

Woe to those who go down to Egypt for help  and rely on horses, who trust in chariots because they are many and in horsemen because they are very strong, but do not look to the Holy One of Israel or consult the Lord!