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Tag Archives: Marriage

  • 50 Shades of Irony: The Black and White of Grey

    Posted on February 24, 2015 by Family Christian

    I don't always speak up every time I see another upwelling issue in our culture — quite frankly, sometimes it's easy to become immune to what you're surrounded by daily.  But when it comes to the release of Fifty Shades of Grey, I cannot sit by in silence.  It already made 8.6 million the first day of its release, while some places (like the entire country of Malaysia) have banned it completely.
    What is so compelling about the enigmatic Christian Grey (interesting name) and his relationship with Anastasia Steele (who is softer than her name implies)?  This BDSM romance has captured the hearts of women across the country, spurring on new and unnatural sexual fantasies.  The danger is that we as a culture are normalizing the perversion, turning our gaze away from truth and we as Christians are forgetting what it means to be audacious.
    I believe we should not only boycott what I'm calling “Fifty Shades of Irony" but we should continue to speak out the truth with boldness — we don't need to read the book or see the movie (neither of which I ever plan to do) in order to be informed about it and understand its negative influence.  Here's why.
    The film presents a warped view of sex.
    For those of you who don't know, BDSM stands for Bondage & Discipline (BD), Dominance & Submission (DS), Sadism & Masochism (SM).  Sadism is the tendency to get pleasure from inflicting pain or humiliation and masochism is pleasure in self inflicted pain.  The relationship is not equal, but is consensually based on one party being the dominant and the other the receiver.
    This need to dominate or to be dominated by another illuminates an underlying longing to be led, a longing that can only be filled by the Lord.  Whatever your thoughts are on this kind of role-play, mine is simple: This portrayal of sexual gratification though pain and humiliation is not sharing the deepest intimacy out of self sacrifice, gentleness, love or true passion.  It is fundamentally self serving.  Seeking to bring pain to another, even in a consensual context, seems to deviate from Scripture's truths about love and sexuality.  Hebrews 13:4 says, "Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled, for God will judge the sexually immoral and adulterous."
    So, dear Christian, do not foster curiosity.
    Recognize that most negative aspects of our culture are warped versions of good things.  God's blessing of sex is turned into pornography, erotica, prostitution and rape.  Freedoms turn into abuses; wisdom into intellectual pride with declarations of autonomy; innovation into a reliance on man's accomplishments.
    But culture itself is not evil.  Humans are.  Our battle is not one of Christian culture vs. secular culture.  The clash is between hope and despair and the first step to this kind of epistemological humility is recognizing our deep need for God's mercy and His blessing of hope.
    Romanticizing pain delegitimizes it.
    In the book, Christian Grey has a Red Room of Pain where he carries out his sadistic pleasures.  These include handcuffs and whips.  In one scene, he takes a riding crop used for horses and strikes her.
    This breaks my heart — we are making this kind of relationship the ideal!  This is the kind of context people flee from, are wounded by, carry emotional scars from because this kind of relationship is not based on mutual respect for another individual.  And when we romanticize pain and tell women "This is what you should want!" then we delegitimize the actual pain of people who have endured abuse.  It's just that simple.  This encompasses emotional and physical abuse, sexual molestation, rape and by extension even human trafficking.  According to Equality Now, there are over 20 million adults and children in sexual bondage being trafficked around the world, forced into servitude.  I'd like to argue that we serve them the utmost disrespect in supporting a film of this nature.
    The woman's identity is found in the man's.
    Anastasia Steele, our protagonist, is a shy virgin with a low self esteem, no self sufficiency, a fear of abandonment and no sexual identity.  All of these things are fulfilled in the charismatic and controlling Christian Grey.  In the trailer, Anastasia asks him, "So you're a control freak?" and his reply is, "I exercise control in all things." Interesting.
    All of this is along the lines of the common "He completes me" relationship mentality which only makes me gag.  Her worth, identity and confidence are all dependent on one man, which is both deeply sexist and also dangerous for women who claim to identify with Anastasia.  Anyone who watches this film and resonates with her insecurities is now being told to find worth and satisfaction in a controlling figure who is both abusive and self absorbed.
    Instead, we shouldn't be dependent on others or self sufficient, but we should recognize our own inadequacy, genuine desire for relationships with others and desperate need for the relationship with Jesus, the only one which can fulfill.
    Sin supposedly leads to freedom — the ultimate lie of a fallen world.
    To see this matter more clearly, look at the titles of the books themselves.  Fifty Shades of Grey.  Fifty Shades Darker.  Fifty Shades Freed.  We start with grey - between black and white, between right and wrong in the blurred "grey areas".  Then it goes darker, accepting a lifestyle of sin.  Then freedom.
    Let me make myself clear.  Darkness does not lead to freedom.  Shackles of slavery do not lead to liberty.  Indulging in sin is not going to lead to victory over it.  This mindset is humanistic, individualized and part of the relative truth age in which we live.  In our postmodern world, we are encouraged to "love" in a way that is only accepting, encouraging, unprejudiced and never challenging.  For the world, this leads to a tyranny of immorality in which standards are scorned, and the tolerant are intolerant of dissension.  I laugh when I consider how Nathaniel Hawthorne might write the Scarlet Letter about today — our culture wouldn't ostracize immorality, they would shun purity.
    For Christians, this often means a watered down faith that is no longer bold or audacious or proclaiming truth.  The truth is hard!  The Gospel is not easy and Jesus was culturally controversial.  Why are we on the defensive?  We should stand nobly for what is honorable, virtuous and holy.  We should strive to both encourage and challenge.  Our culture, in an attempt to accept and love all, has lost sight of the beauty in tough accountability.  I'm learning more and more that to speak the truth is loving and to love is to be truthful.

     

    So Christians, stand for what is right.  This is one time when we don't need to see the film or read the book to understand the deeply rooted issues.  Boycott this movie and speak out for purity and the sanctity of marriage.  This sense of truth and hope is what we can share to the Fifty Shades culture.  They need a million shades of light, not deeper depths of darkness.
    Bio: A sophomore at Wheaton College, Ciera is a unique blend of academic and artistic: she reads Kerouac and Chaucer, paints still life and modern art and loves writing poetry on her typewriter named Ernest.  As a writer and champion public speaker, she grew up hanging out with Christian music stars, artists and writers who greatly influenced her culturally-engaging outlook on life, which she writes about at www.cierahorton.blogspot.com.
    Ciera Horton
  • How to Rise Above the Terrible-No-Good-Very-Bad-Day

    Posted on February 10, 2015 by Family Christian

    Chrystal Evans Hurst FEBRUARY 10, 2015

    How to Rise Above the Terrible-No-Good-Very-Bad-Day
    CHRYSTAL EVANS HURST

    "Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing." James 1:2-4 (NLT)

    It was his birthday.

    We had a flight to catch.

    Even though it was a working trip for me, I planned to make our trip a quasi birthday celebration for him. We were still about to leave the house without our kids. That always spells me-and-you time, honey.

    We were supposed to wake up and look at each other with "goo-goo" eyes, remembering how much we actually like each other, because there were no distractions.

    We were supposed to travel leisurely to the airport and stop somewhere for lunch on the way.

    We were supposed to have a meaningful conversation on the plane about deep, important and beautiful things while we were soaring above the clouds.

    Instead …

    We woke up to plumbing problems, broken suitcases and a rainy day. We rushed to the airport and searched for a parking space while listening to each other’s bellies rumble. We missed our flight and had to run to catch another one that would get us to our destination on time.

    Then we sat next to each other … in complete silence … and it was his birthday.

    Part of my sullen attitude was because it really was a terrible-no-good-very-bad-day.

    Part of my bad attitude was frustration that this yucky day was my husband’s birthday, and I felt so badly about it not being special for him at all.

    Most of my gloomy attitude was because things weren’t going as I had planned, and I was pouting.

    The cramped ride on the itty-bitty plane came to an end. He helped me get my luggage out of the overhead bin, looked over at me and smiled. He walked through the airport, pulling my suitcase and his.

    It was raining in our arrival city too, but he went out of his way to make sure I didn’t get too wet as we got our things into the car. On the way to our destination, he started a pleasant conversation and kept it going until we arrived.

    Somewhere between the frustration of the morning and the smile in the afternoon, my husband made a decision. He made a decision to rise above that terrible-no-good-very-bad-day and find something to smile about. He made a decision to choose joy.

    And while it never stopped raining, the longer-than-expected-drive-time gave us more time to chat. And stopping at the drive-thru became a romantic birthday dinner for two.

    I don’t know about you, but I have lots of days that just don’t go quite the way I want. Even when I’ve done everything I can to ensure my plans don’t go awry, they still do.

    Sometimes it still rains and I’m tempted to pout.

    I’m tempted to throw all efforts at rising above my situation to the wind and sit and sulk in a quiet corner, lamenting the difficult parts of my day or life. And of course, some problems are a whole lot worse than rain or a delayed flight.

    But watching my husband reminded me of something.

    I don’t have to let the events of a terrible-no-good-very-bad-day determine my actions and attitude. Like our key verse suggests, we can choose to consider trouble as "an opportunity for great joy" (James 1:2b). Life’s challenges allow faith to be tested and endurance to grow.

    Some days are just difficult. Life can be hard. And many of those difficulties happen at the most inopportune time.

    However, let’s not forget that it’s in the most difficult places where we derive our deepest life lessons. Even from hard spots beautiful things grow.

    We can plan, prepare and put our best foot forward, but sometimes life just happens.

    Thankfully, bad days don’t have to dictate our response or the ultimate outcome.

    We get to choose.

    So my friend, choose joy!

    Father God, Help me rise above my circumstances, choose joy and find something to smile about. Even in the midst of a difficult day, Lord, help me have a joyful heart while the experiences You allow build character in my heart and produce beauty in my life. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY:
    1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, "Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus." (NIV)

    RELATED RESOURCES:
    Do you long to be a woman whose responses aren’t dictated by circumstances? Kingdom Woman by Tony Evans and Chrystal Evans Hurst can help set your heart and mind on things above.

    Stop by Chrystal Hurst’s blog for more encouragement today.

    REFLECT AND RESPOND:
    What small step can you take today to find joy in the midst of your terrible-no-good-very-bad-day(s)?

    Are there people in your life who set a good example of choosing joy despite their difficulties? Ask them what they do to rise above their circumstances.

    © 2015 by Chrystal Evans Hurst. All rights reserved.

    Proverbs 31 Ministries
    630 Team Rd., Suite 100
    Matthews, NC 28105
    www.Proverbs31.org

  • When Your Husband Has Given Up

    Posted on February 5, 2015 by Family Christian

    Lysa TerKeurst FEBRUARY 5, 2015

    When Your Husband Has Given Up
    LYSA TERKEURST

    "For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well." Psalm 139:13-14 (ESV)

    I know the heart-ripping hopelessness of a relationship unraveling.

    The silence. The rejection. The harsh words. The absence of intimacy. The questions. The lack of answers. The hurt.

    The first five years of my marriage were really hard. Two sinners coming together with loads of baggage, unrealistic expectations and extremely strong wills.

    My heart aches for anyone in a marriage that’s struggling. Many of us have been there.

    But I think the deepest hurt comes when one spouse resigns while the other is still trying. There is a panic that arises to somehow make the other person wake up, stop their resignation and help you fix this relationship.

    A situation like this is much more complicated than simple answers I could offer here. But might I give you one stepping stone upon which to stand, to stop the panic and balance yourself?

    Decide today that you are worthy.

    Because you are. Worthy. You may not feel like it. But a quick glimpse at Psalm 139 assures me, you are. You are fearfully and wonderfully made by a loving God who cares for you. Who loves you. And I’d rather depend on the solid truth of God than the rollercoaster of fickle feelings.

    You are beautiful and captivating and attractive and smart and capable. But if you are in a relationship full of unmet expectations, unresolved issues and frustrating communication, I suspect you feel a little less than all I’ve described.

    Broken-down relationships can really break down a woman.

    And if you’re anything like me, when you feel broken down, those around you get your worst. Then upon all the hurt and anxiety you layer regret, shame and the feeling that you’ve lost yourself. You’ve lost that girl inside who used to be so positive and happy and ready to take on the world.

    Can I whisper a tender truth to you? The only way to recapture her is to come up for air and remember: You are worthy because the Creator of the Universe says you are.

    Then you can act worthy.

    And step aside from the emotional yuck to make some levelheaded decisions. Get a plan. Talk to wise people who love you, provide godly counsel and will walk this tough journey with you.

    Draw some boundaries with your husband, if some are needed.

    Pray like crazy for clear discernment. Because Jesus is the best source of help.

    Honest cries for help, lifted up to Jesus, will not go unheard. He sees. He knows. He loves. And Jesus will direct you as long as you stick with Him.

    Remember, you can’t control how your husband acts and reacts, but you can control how you act and react.

    Reclaim who you are.

    I pray your relationship survives. I pray it with every fiber of my being. But if it doesn’t, I pray most of all that the beautiful woman you are rises above all the yuck, still clinging tightly to the only opinion that matters — the One who forever calls you worthy.

    Dear Lord, my marriage is struggling. I’m struggling. Help me please. I need to hold on to Your truths that I am worthy. And God, please show me what steps to take to support my marriage. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY:
    Isaiah 54:10, "‘Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor my covenant of peace be removed,’ says the LORD, who has compassion on you." (NIV)

    Psalm 34:17, "The righteous cry out, and the LORD hears them; he delivers them from all their troubles." (NIV)

    RELATED RESOURCES:
    If you’re facing a hard season but want to make God-honoring decisions every step of the way, Lysa TerKeurst’s latest book, The Best Yes, can help. Get your copy here.

    Determine to pray more words over your marriage than you speak about your marriage with the 5 Scriptures Lysa is sharing on her blog. Click here to begin speaking God’s truth over your relationship with your husband!

    REFLECT AND RESPOND:
    Write our key verse down on a sticky note or index card and put it in a place where you know you’ll see it each day. When a negative thought starts to cross your mind, say out loud, "God says I am worthy."

    © 2015 by Lysa TerKeurst. All rights reserved.

    Proverbs 31 Ministries
    630 Team Rd., Suite 100
    Matthews, NC 28105
    www.Proverbs31.org

  • Having Faith in a Marriage - Tony & Lauren Dungy

    Posted on January 30, 2014 by John van der Veen


    What is the key to an "uncommon" marriage? Tony and Lauren Dungy answer this question.

    Tony: Lauren and I have been married over 30 years now. I think our faith has been a big part of our marriage. To me, faith is so important in marriage because everything isn't going to to perfectly and you do have to come together as two people becoming one partnership. You have to trust in the Lord and you have to put the Lord first, in the center of a relationship, to make it work. That's easier said than done. When you tell other people about it or you counsel other people, it's easy to say, "Here's where you've got to have faith. Just believe and go forward." But when it is happening to you and things are coming up in your marriage, to really concentrate on the Lord and say, "I know he's in the middle of this." That becomes difficult at times, but it's what you have to do.

    Lauren: We've found that you have to really rely on your Christian principles and the biblical principles that you know and believe in, because you have to expect there will be conflict, there will be challenges in your life. That's going to happen in any marriage, but the world has a way of dealing with the challenges and problems, or you can follow God's ways, and God's ways are always going to keep you united. Even in your conflicts and challenges, there should be joy in the midst.

    Tony: We really do feel like that has been really the basis for how we have stayed together and grown, is that we have listened to the Lord and listened to the Bible, as opposed to listening to worldly wisdom or what our society says about marriage. We've tried to rely on those biblical principles and let them guide us and not what society says.

    Interested in hearing more from the Dungy's? Click here for their line of books.

  • The Surprising Secrets of Highly Happy Marriages from Shaunti Feldhahn

    Posted on January 23, 2014 by Family Christian

    Shaunti

    How a Handful of High-Leverage Secrets Unlocks Delight in Your Marriage

    The very first e-mail I received after the release of For Women Only came from an anonymous woman. I’ll never forget her note. It was just one line:

    I got a divorce five years ago, and now I know why. I read it and gasped. I knew the book revealed some surprising insights about men that most women just didn’t get. I had been continuously shocked myself during my years of research!

    But her e-mail brought home the importance of this knowledge in a whole new way.

    That was nearly ten years ago. Since then, my husband, Jeff, and I have researched and written For Men Only and other books. We have spoken at hundreds of conferences, seminars, churches, simulcasts, and stadium events. And during that time, literally thousands of men and women have come up to us at the book table or stopped us in a hallway. With a stunned look in their eyes, they say things like “I wish I had known this before I got married!” or “This book saved our marriage” or even “I’m going to cancel the divorce filing on Wednesday.”

    I’m not making this up.

    Trust me, they’re not talking about any special wisdom that Jeff or I have conjured up. They’re talking about a before-and-after experience. What they mean is “I used to be clueless about what my spouse needed, and I didn’t realize it.” What they mean is “Knowing now what I totally missed before—about my spouse’s inner fears and needs and desires—changes everything.”

    And they are right.

    I started calling these breakthroughs of sudden insight “light bulb on!” moments. They land in your relationship like a bright orange marker. Before, you thought and acted one way. After, you think and act differently. You suddenly see what you didn’t before. How you do a relationship—how you feel about it, what you expect, and what you get from it—changes. Light bulb on! This book on highly happy marriages is packed with moments like that.

    Without a doubt, the dream of a happy marriage is one of the most consistent longings of the human heart. Most of us deeply want to experience an abundant, delightful, lifelong companionship that we can thank God for every day. Forget the bleak statistics we’ve seen, forget the bad rap that committed, lifelong marriage gets in the media—we want to marry our best friend, then enjoy our spouse and enjoy being married. And many people do!

    But I’ve also noticed that many others feel stuck in a rut and don’t know how to get out of it. Some not-yet-married couples aren’t sure they can navigate the transition to a lifetime commitment—or whether the dream of a forever marriage is even realistic.

    And many married couples—especially in times of heartache—harbor secret doubts about whether a great marriage is possible for them. Some have stopped hoping for better.

    Instead of highly happy, they’ve settled for sometimes happy or even mostly mediocre.

    But it doesn’t have to be that way. You’d be surprised what a few sudden flashes of insight can do for a couple. Let me show you what I mean.

    Why Do Some Marriages Turn…Good?

    You may have noticed that many marriage books and efforts at relationship improvement try to increase a couple’s happiness by digging into key relationship problems. Essentially, they’re asking things like, “What’s the underlying reason for this particular problem?” Or, bigger picture: “Why do marriages turn bad?” Identify the reason, identify the problem—and fix it. Indeed, this is great because all of us need that sort of help sometimes.

    For this book, though, I aimed my research in a different direction. I wanted to know: Why do marriages turn good? If a so-so union became delightful, I wanted to know what made the difference. Millions of couples truly enjoy each other in strong, rewarding relationships. What do they do right, and what can we learn from them that would make our relationships just as strong and rewarding?

    It makes a lot of sense to study the winners. Aspiring athletes who want to improve how they throw a ball, swing a racket, or twist gracefully in the air to land at just the right angle on the ice spend hours studying those who do it best. Psychologists, change management experts, and counselors have consistently found that in any endeavor of life, if we want to change, improve, or be inspired, we have to study what some call the bright spots, not just the problems. After all, if you want to be more like Jesus, you don’t spend the bulk of your time studying the Pharisees, His religious-leader opponents, in order to figure out how to not be like them. You study Jesus.


    Excerpted from The Surprising Secrets of Highly Happy Marriages by Shaunti Feldhahn Copyright © 2013 by Shaunti Feldhahn. Excerpted by permission of Multnomah Books, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

  • Gary Chapman - Believing God in All of Life

    Posted on October 21, 2013 by John van der Veen



    Married more than 45 years to Karolyn, Dr. Gary Chapman is just the man to turn to for help on improving or healing our most important relationships. His own life experiences, plus over forty years of pastoring and marriage counseling, led him to publish his first book in the Love Language series, The Five Love Languages. Millions of readers credit this continual #1 New York Times bestseller with saving their marriages by showing them simple and practical ways to communicate their love to their partner.

    I talked with Dr. Chapman not too long ago and what I found was a man that was very concerned with followers of Christ being just that - followers of Christ.

    Gary speaks to thousands of couples nationwide through his weekend marriage conferences. He hosts a nationally syndicated radio program, Love Language Minute, and a Saturday morning program, Building Relationships with Dr. Gary Chapman, that air on more than 400 stations. He also serves as senior associate pastor at Calvary Baptist Church in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.

    John: Was The Five Love Languages your first book?

    Dr. Chapman: No, it was my third book. I wrote two books before that. One was called Toward a Growing Marriage, which was been retitled To the Marriage you’ve Always Wanted. Then I wrote Hope for the Separated: Wounded Marriages Can Be Healed, which is written to people who are separated but not divorced and encouraging reconciliation. Then I wrote The Five Love Languages.

    John: The Five Love Languages certainly has taken off and catapulted your career. I think it sold over 6 million copies. Has that book changed your life, has it changed your marriage in a sense? I mean obviously it has been quite a few years since you wrote that book, but has what you’ve done some years ago impacted you today?

    Dr. Chapman: My personal life, yes. In fact in my life greatly. My language is words of affirmation. My wife’s language is acts of service, so in the early years of our marriage, I would give her words of affirmation. I would speak my language. I would tell her how nice she looks. I would tell her how much I appreciate what she did. I would tell her a dozen times a day I love you but after a while she said to me one night, “You know, you keep on saying ‘I love you, I love you.’ If you love me, why don’t you help me?” I was blown out of the saddle because in my mind I was loving her. In her mind, if I loved her I would be helping her. I would be doing acts of service. Yeah, it radically changed my life and that’s why to this day, I’m vacuuming floors, I wash dishes; I start the dishwasher. I take the trash out. I live with a happy woman.

    John: That’s awesome. I just have a few questions, basic questions. From your experience of being a counselor, when God calls two people together, why is it that they forget, together to be married, why is, Dr. Chapman, that more often than not they forget that they are still sinners being called into that marriage?

    Dr. Chapman: I think, John, we don’t typically go around thinking of ourselves as sinners. We like to think of ourselves of being pretty good people. The reality is we are all sinners. That means that we are self-centered, which leads often to selfishness. Two people who are selfish will never have a good marriage because marriage has to do with love, which means we are looking out for the other person’s interest. I think just by nature we are selfish and we are more concerned about being loved than we are loving. Consequently, if my spouse is not speaking my love language I begin to feel like they don’t love me, then the differences arise, the irritations arise, and we get into conflicts and often into arguments about those things. Before long we don’t even like each other and we tend to blame the other person because they are not doing this, that or the other thing. Essentially they are not speaking our love language, but I think the root problem is always selfishness.

    I don’t know why, except I think it is just a good tool of the enemy to keep us focusing on the other person and it is their problem and consequently we don’t get around to looking at ourselves and where the real problem was.

    John: Dr. Chapman if someone is engaged to be married, what would you say is the single most important piece of advice that you would give them?

    Dr. Chapman: Well, I think that there are many things but if I have to choose only one… I would say that the foundation of spiritual unity would be the most important and the reason I say that is because I believe in God and I believe what God has said and I believe that how He revealed himself in Christ deeply impacts every other aspect of life. If we are not in unity on those key fundamental spiritual issues, we are far more likely to have severe problems in the marriage relationship. I wrote a book maybe two or three years ago called, “Things I wish I had known before we got married” which was my attempt to help singles by sharing with them 12 things that I know now that had I known before we got married would have made my marriage much easier. That is one of the things I will do within that book. I think the chapter title is I wish I had known that spirituality is not to be equated with going to church because so many people feel like we would both go to church. We are both Christians without really exploring what that means and what the real spiritual foundation is. I think that’s the one I would focus on.

    John: Do you think the Bible allows for people to marry an unbeliever?

    Dr. Chapman: I really don’t think the Bible encourages that. The Scriptures say, I asked the question can two walk together if they are not in agreement? I think the answer is something like, not very well and probably not very far. I just think that the fundamental issues, now let’s face it, there are many people who are married and one is a Christian and one is not a Christian. There are people who marry when either one of them is Christians and one of them becomes a Christian and the other doesn’t. There are certainly many marriages where one is a Christian and one is not, but if you are on the fly and looking at marriage I think the Bible would encourage you to discuss the spiritual issues and particularly one’s relationship with Christ and the nature of their relationship, the depth of their relationship, to make sure you are marching to the beat of the same drummer. I just think that’s fundamental.

    John: Dr. Chapman do you mind if I ask you a few questions about what you think about the church here in the U.S.?

    Dr. Chapman: No that’s fine.

    John: What do you think, are we in a healthy state when you look at … you obviously do a lot of speaking? You have a radio program. You are heard all over. There are many churches that have utilized your books. You probably know a lot of pastors as well and counselors at work in lay ministry. Do you think the church is as proactively seeking those that are having problems or troubles in their marriage and attempting to fix them as the church used to be?

    Dr. Chapman: I think, John, my short answer would be I wish we were doing much more. My goal has always been and I challenge churches to this, that every church large or small would have an ongoing marriage enrichment program; that is, that they are doing something all the time throughout the year to enrich marriages. Most churches, at least most smaller churches, a pastor will preach on marriage once a year maybe a two or three week series and that’s basically all that’s done. I just believe we’ve got to do more than that but even the smaller church can have one couple in the church who has a passion for marriage enrichment. You can send them to get training. Many marriage seminars provide them books and they can begin to lead a small group with maybe just five or six couples to start with, take them through some curriculum whatever curriculum and then one of those couples will say “Hey we can do this” and so now you’ve got another lead couple. I believe if we are taking our people through various curriculums during each year and people know in the church it’s always a place where we can go to get help in our marriage, I think they will begin to invite non-Christians to get into that kind of program. It can be a door into the church for those who are non-Christians.

    I wish we were doing much more. I think many of our larger churches do have members who are fostering marriage and family life programs in the church and I think that’s wonderful but I wish we were doing much more.

    John: Do you think the church has kind of stepped back from doing that because the church to some extent kind of follows what’s going on in culture, or do you think there is something else going on?

    Dr. Chapman: I don’t know that we’ve stepped back from doing it. I don’t think we ever did really a good job to be honest with you. Back when things were more stable in our culture, the churches I don’t think even sensed much of a need to be doing anything about marriage because the most famous were stable families, but it is as things have unraveled in our society and the family has become so dysfunctional in our society that the churches have begun to take it seriously and I think many of them are still taking it seriously. My priority would be that it would just permeate more of our churches and that more of our pastors would see the need for this. I think a part of it, John, is that pastors don’t have time to do it themselves and they don’t have quite the vision of asking God to give them a couple in their church who will have a passion for this. It just takes one couple who has a passion for it and they can begin something that will go on. I just challenge pastors to pray for that couple, look for that couple and then seek to empower that couple.

    John: Dr. Chapman you have a new book that’s hitting called Extraordinary Grace: How the Unlikely Lineage of Jesus Reveals God's Amazing Love. I can speculate about that book but I’d love to hear what your thoughts are going into it.

    Dr. Chapman: You know, John, that book grew out of a sermon that I gave at our church last Christmas on Matthew 1 on the lineage of Jesus, looking at the ancestors of Jesus who are listed in that chapter. It is very dry reading for most people. It is just the list of all these names, but I gave a sermon on that then pointed out that many of those people who were in the lineage of Jesus were people who committed really pretty bad things in their lives, experienced forgiveness and God used them and they are in the lineage of Jesus. The message of that book bottom line is I say, “Look. If God can use these people with the things that they committed, then God can use you. His grace is real. His forgiveness is real and God can use you.” I’m hoping that this book is going to help a lot of people who look at themselves and look at their history and say, “You have done this, this, this, and this … and God can never use me.” The reality is God can use anyone who turns to him in repentance and faith.

    In the book we kind of flesh out those biblical characters and just look at the real life they lived and used that as an illustration of the grace of God. I’m very excited about it. Chris Fabry my coauthor is someone, you might you know Chris. Chris is a great fiction writer and he was very instrumental in fleshing out some of those stories in the book.

    John: What do you and your family enjoy doing?

    Dr. Chapman: It is just my wife and I. The kids are grown and gone. We enjoy a lot of things. We both enjoy being involved in the life of the church. We were heavily involved in the life of the church. My wife is involved in the women’s ministry, in our music ministry. Of course, I’m still involved in counseling and various other administrative things in the church but a lot of our lives have centered around the church. We are in a large church and have a lot of staff members that we work with. I’m not the single pastor. I’m just one of the associate pastors. We enjoy that.

    We also enjoy our grandchildren. We have two and they are two and half hours away from us but we see them about every six weeks. I just took my 12-year-old grandson with me to Brazil. He wanted to see the rainforest, so my publisher in Brazil had asked me to come down. We just launched The Love Languages Devotional Bible in Portuguese and he asked me to come down. I said, “Okay, if you will arrange for me to have two days in the rainforest with my 12-year-old grandson I will come.” They did and we had a great time together.

    John: Was that your first time doing that?

    Dr. Chapman: Actually to go to the rainforest, yes. I’ve been to Brazil once before about four years ago but I’ve never been to the rainforest and so we had fun with marquees and the snakes, the alligators, mosquitoes and …

    John: Were the mosquitoes as big in Brazil as they are in North Carolina?

    Dr. Chapman: The mosquitoes were not what I had anticipated. They, maybe because it was wintertime there but still hot and is in the 80s, but maybe they have more mosquitoes in the summer time but we really didn’t have as many mosquitoes as I anticipated. Of course we took our yellow fever shot and our typhoid shot and all that. We were ready.

    John: Whatever may come.

    Dr. Chapman: That’s right.

    John: Dr. Chapman I thank you very much for the opportunity to chat with you today and we are extremely looking forward to Extraordinary Grace coming out.

    Personally speaking, I want to thank you for The Five Love Languages. You helped two scrawny very self-centered people, my wife and I. About 22 or 23 years ago we got your book and didn’t necessarily read it; got married and similar story, to be perfectly honest, as you and your wife. I was kind of doing my thing; my wife was kind of doing her thing. I kept telling her how much I loved her and she kept wanting me to wash the dishes or do something. We had a couple of kids and I continued to just tell her how much I loved her and I wasn’t necessarily taking an active role in that. You certainly helped her realize what her love language was and then she told me what her love language was and told me what mine was as well. Praise God we are still married and we have six kids and we are doing great. We are just so thankful for you and for many others who have counseled us through great books. Again I appreciate your ministry.

    Dr. Chapman: Thanks for sharing that John. I think that’s the story of a lot of people. I have just been so encouraged with the way God has used that book to help couples and I never tire of hearing stories like that. All of us, as we said earlier, are selfish. If we don’t find an answer to that, of course the answer is found in Christ, but in the practical sense of how do you express that love and love language concept really, really does help. Thanks for sharing that.

    John: You are welcome. God bless you brother.

    Dr. Chapman: Thank you. Goodbye.

  • Hurting Spouse

    Posted on September 15, 2013 by Boyd Bailey

    Boyd

    If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it. Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.
    1 Corinthians 12:26-27

    Sometimes our spouses experience hurt. It may be for a moment, for months, or in some chronic situations they may hurt over years. Hurt can come from a variety of sources. Busy parents who lacked love can lead to childhood hurt, disappointments deposit hurt, lack of control contributes to hurt, shattered dreams hurt, and health issues exacerbated hurt. Hurt may linger on the surface of your spouse’s heart, or it may have inflicted deep wounds into the soul—a soul that desperately needs God’s healing hand. Sadly, the scars of hurt can disfigure his or her countenance. So be aware because your insensitivity can compound the hurt, or your sensitivity can cure the hurt. Hurt hurts.

    When your spouse hurts, you hurt. You may hurt because of the empathy you feel for her pain, or you may hurt because of the pain he has knowingly or unknowingly imposed on you. Hurt cannot be ignored as it will expose itself mildly in public and wildly in private. Hurt will not go away unless there is healing. Your tender touch brings healing. Your extra patience eases the pain. Your kind words are an ointment that soothes anxiety. Your gracious attitude is a legion of love ready to recapture your spouse’s heart. Don’t give up reaching out to your hurting husband or wife. Yes, it’s inconvenient, and your goals may be on hold for now. You are in survival mode. Do not grow weary in doing good, for in due season you will reap God’s blessings (Galatians 6:9).
    If you are the one who is hurting, go to your heavenly Father for healing. Let Him love you through this. Lay down your burden before it crushes your spirit. You cannot bear this burden by yourself or fix this alone. Your loving Lord wants to lead you into forgiveness and freedom. Release your regrets and disappointments to Him, and let go of your need for control. Demands for control are the fruit of fear. Remember that Jesus can be trusted during this time of turmoil.
    Don’t buy into a false feeling of freedom that comes from pushing back. Instead, open up and let the Lord and your lover into your heart. Healing is the outcome from applying the outrageous love and forgiveness of God. Indeed, you may be in a mid-life reflection. You are tempted to walk away from your family, friends, and faith, but it is a long and lonely walk that only enflames the pain.
    Take your Savior’s advice, and experience His healing for you and your spouse. Jesus said to go to Him for rest in your weariness, and for wholeness for your heart. “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28).

    Post/Tweet: Your gracious attitude is a legion of love ready to recapture your spouse’s heart. #hurtingspouse

    Related Resources
    Billy Graham - The Reason for My Hope: Salvation

    In The Reason for My Hope, Graham presents the core message that has guided his life and calling for more than 70 years. Filled with new stories and timeless truth, he once again calls the world back to its spiritual priority as only he can.

    © 2013 by Boyd Bailey. All rights reserved.
    Wisdom Hunters Resources / A registered 501 c3 ministry info@mail.wisdomhuntersdevotional.com / www.wisdomhunters.com

  • Messy Marriages

    Posted on August 22, 2013 by Lysa TerKeurst

    Lysa

    "But blessed is the man who trusts me, God, the woman who sticks with God." Jeremiah 17:7 (MSG)

    I threw the cup of orange juice across the kitchen. It felt good to do something, anything, to release all the surging anger and frustration. And I didn't even mind cleaning the pulpy, sticky mess.

    It felt soothing to know how to clean something. I knew how to wipe away this mess. And I liked seeing the mess disappear.

    If only my marriage mess could be fixed with soap, water and a handful of paper towels.

    I whispered, God, why does this have to be so hard?

    Have you ever been there?

    I think many of us have. Whether we're in a really tough marriage or just in a rough patch, marriage can be messy. Hurtful. Lonely.

    No one ever told me about this side of marriage before I donned the white dress and danced to MC Hammer at the reception.

    But after 20 years of learning, growing and pressing through the messes to see something beautiful form in the midst of it all, here's what I know ...

    Jesus loves those in messy marriages.

    He loves my husband, Art, and me in the midst of it all. Jesus doesn't love the mess of hurt, isolation and bitterness. Those are things He wants us to work on. But He never stops loving us.

    Jesus loves me. His grace is strong enough to extend His love into every part of me. The good parts. The broken parts. The ugly parts. The bitter parts. The loving parts. Even the parts that throw orange juice.

    And Jesus loves Art. His grace is strong enough to extend His love into every part of my husband. The good parts. The broken parts. The ugly parts. The bitter parts. The loving parts. And even the parts that look at me like I'm crazy when I throw orange juice.

    Since Jesus loves both of us, He's the best source of help for our marriage. I don't say that without a deep awareness of how stinkin' hard it is to go to Jesus when I'm mad as fire at my husband.

    And I certainly don't say it in naive simplicity. Gracious, I know some of you are facing marriage situations that rip your heart into a thousand pieces every day.

    But still, I know Jesus is the best source of help.

    Honest cries for help lifted up to Jesus will not go unheard. He sees. He knows. He loves. And Jesus will direct you as long as you stick with Him.

    Jeremiah 17:7-8 in The Message version reminds us:

    But blessed is the man who trusts me, God, the woman who sticks with God. They're like trees replanted in Eden, putting down roots near the rivers-Never a worry through the hottest of summers, never dropping a leaf, Serene and calm through droughts, bearing fresh fruit every season.

    So, how do I stick with Jesus? I proclaim I'm sticking with Jesus:

    Jesus, I'm sticking with You. I'm giving You what I don't understand and what I can't fix. I'm giving You what I don't like about me. I'm giving You what I don't like about him. And I'm giving You what I don't like about my marriage. I'm listening for Your instruction. I'm positioning myself to go where I'll hear Your truth. To talk to others who love You and serve You. And to read wise instruction from the Bible. Amen.

    Jesus loves those who are in messy marriages. I know. Though Art and I have a wonderful marriage now, we can still hit some rough patches now and then.

    But you'll be happy to know I haven't thrown orange juice across the kitchen lately.

    Dear Lord, so much of me wants to stick with my anger and frustration. But I'm choosing to stick with You. Today I'm going to hold my temper, hold my tongue and hold on to Your Truth. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    Related Resources:

    A Life That Says Welcome, Simple Ways to Open Your Heart & Home to Others by Karen Ehman

    The NIV Real Life Devotional Bible for Women with 366 devotions written by the Proverbs 31 Ministries team on everyday life.

    Reflect and Respond:
    Have you honestly waited on the Lord for His guidance? Today, make a choice to seek His wisdom through His Word and ask for wise counsel from a trusted, Christ-following friend.

    Power Verse:
    Ephesians 4:26, 29-32, "'In your anger do not sin': Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry ... Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.

    And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you." (NIV 1984)

    © 2013 by Lysa TerKeurst. All rights reserved.

    Proverbs 31 Ministries
    630 Team Rd., Suite 100
    Matthews, NC 28105
    www.Proverbs31.org

  • Stephen and Alex Kendrick Dare Couples

    Posted on August 19, 2013 by Family Christian

    A yearlong journey helping couples transform and deepen their marriages, The Love Dare Day by Day, releases in padded hardback Sept. 1. From groundbreaking filmmakers and best-selling authors Stephen and Alex Kendrick, the new release of The Love Dare Day by Day from B&H Publishing Group.

    “You’re about to learn more about yourself and your marriage—some of it encouraging, some convicting,” Alex Kendrick tells readers. “In either case, you gain a new view of where you are with your marriage and with God.”

    The Love Dare Day by Day—A Year of Devotion for Couples joins the international phenomenon of The Love Dare, with nearly 6 million copies sold. In The Love Dare Day by Day, 52 biblically based “dares”—one each week—challenge married partners to unconditional love. Daily devotions amplify each dare’s scriptural base.

    “Our marriages reveal our need to grow and deal with our own issues and selfishness,” Stephen Kendrick said. “But if we are teachable, we can learn the single most important lesson in life—to love. One powerful union, our marriage, invites us to learn to love another imperfect person unconditionally. It’s wonderful, it’s difficult and it’s life-changing.”

    The Love Dare Day by Day features:

    • 365 readings on aspects of genuine love
    • 52 weekly dares to help readers better live out their love in marriage
    • Dozens of prayers spouses can pray for themselves and their partners
    • Questions to spur creative thinking about your marriage
    • More than 100 “Go Deeper” sections for personal Bible study on marriage and love
    • A link to a free online marriage evaluation resource

    The Love Dare Day by Day is for one or both spouses. Each week’s “dare” ranges from focused prayer to specific ways spouses can build each other up. A few examples:

    • “Begin praying this week: ‘Lord, teach me what real love is and make me a loving person.’”
    • “Make a list of positive attributes about your spouse, then choose one each day and thank your spouse for having this characteristic.”
    • “Ask your spouse if you can begin praying together. Use this time to commit your concerns, disagreements and needs before the Lord. Don’t forget to thank Him for His provisions and blessings.”

    Simple? Yes. Easy? Rarely. But practical, doable and potentially life-changing. The Love Dare Day by Day—A Year of Devotions for Couples can lead to new marriages with the same partners.

    Brothers, pastors, filmmakers and authors, Alex and Stephen Kendrick co-wrote the international bestsellers The Love Dare, The Love Dare for Parents and The Resolution for Men. They are among the co-founders of Sherwood Pictures and worked together to write and produce the hit Christian films FLYWHEEL, FACING THE GIANTS, FIREPROOF and COURAGEOUS. Kendrick Brothers Productions is expanding their movie productions with renewed focus on encouraging and equipping the next generation of Christian filmmakers. Alex and Stephen continue to serve on the pastoral staff of Sherwood Baptist Church in Albany, Ga.

  • Healing Your Marriage

    Posted on July 12, 2013 by Stephanie Clayton

    Stephanie

    "Jesus answered her, 'If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.'" John 4:10 (NIV)

    I try so hard, and for what? I get nothing in return.

    Things will never change. I have been praying for years. I'm ready to give up.

    Maybe I just married the wrong person. Why do I have to stay in a marriage when I am miserable?

    I just want him to notice me ...

    These are the cries of a burned out, emotionally drained wife. How do I know? Because I have been there.

    The first eight years of my marriage were rough. My husband and I were young and had a difficult time making decisions and just doing life together. He wanted one thing and I wanted another. Would we ever see eye-to-eye? Would he be able to meet my needs? Desperately desiring happiness, I began to resent him rather than dealing with the actual root of my sadness and lack of fulfillment ... which was my past.

    I entered our marriage with a great deal of hurt from my past that I refused to deal with. Unrealistically, I expected when I got married, this hurt would disappear. But it didn't. It hung on. And I became bitter toward my husband for not being enough to right the wrongs in my life.

    But the truth is, it wasn't my husband's responsibility to be my cure-all. Even if he had tried, no one and no thing on earth could have fixed the hurt or filled my emptiness. No, I had to find my healing and hope in something else. The answer to my dissatisfaction was found in John 4 in the story of another unhappy woman.

    One day this woman, who had been married five times and was now living with another man, went to draw water from a well. There she met Jesus. Seeing clear through her hurt and pain, and recognizing her heart's desire to be loved, Jesus shared this life-changing truth with her:

    "'If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water. ... Whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst'" (vs. 10, 14a).

    Jesus invited her into a relationship with Him. Not because He wanted to take the place of any husband or man in her life, but because He wanted to take a higher position within her heart. He offered to be her all-satisfying Savior.

    Jesus invited this heart-parched woman to drink from Him and be refreshed, cheered, revived, comforted, and so much more. He assured her that in Him, she would never thirst again.

    So often we look to our husbands (or other people, positions, or possessions) with unrealistic expectations, wanting them to offer what only Christ can: perfect healing, unending love, and sufficient validation.

    But every marriage has its seasons. There will be times when you feel deeply fulfilled, and there will be times you may feel stark, barren and empty. That is why it is important to look to Christ alone for your value and fulfillment. He is your only Savior.

    How do you do this? Get to know Him, just like you did your husband when you were dating! Study the Bible, pray and spend time alone with God daily. Replace thoughts of unworthiness, doubt or belittling with truth you find in Scripture.

    With time, God healed our marriage. It took me going to counseling to deal with my past and a godly man to mentor my husband. As we began to find personal satisfaction in our individual relationships with Christ, we simultaneously began to grow closer to each other. The first step to restoring our marriage, though, was accepting the Lord's exclusive invitation to drink the water only He provides.

    Will you accept it today too? He's offering you living water. Let's drink deep and allow the healing to begin.

    Father, thank You for sending Your Son, Jesus, to have a relationship with me. Help me seek Him and find my satisfaction in Him alone. As that happens, please heal me and my marriage. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    Related Resources:

    A Confident Heart by Renee Swope will help you find the soul-satisfying love and assurance your heart longs for!

     

    Reflect and Respond:
    Take an honest assessment: do you expect your husband to make the pain from your past better, to fulfill you and to be your source of happiness?

    Take time today to get to know Jesus by studying Scripture and praying.

    Power Verse:
    Isaiah 55:1, "Come, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and he who has no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without price." (ESV)

    © 2013 by Stephanie Clayton. All rights reserved.

    Proverbs 31 Ministries
    630 Team Rd., Suite 100
    Matthews, NC 28105
    www.Proverbs31.org

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