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Tag Archives: Marriage

  • Building Up Your Marriage

    Posted on March 8, 2013 by Tracie Miles

    Tracie Miles

    "However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband." Ephesians 5:33 (NIV)

    When I married my husband over 23 years ago, I fully intended to unconditionally love, respect and admire him. I had great intentions of being the perfect wife, offering kind words, a romantic kiss and dinner on the table every evening.

    But then careers took off, bills increased, children were born, laundry piles grew, and life became chaotic. Along the way I subconsciously created a measuring stick of expectations for whether my husband actually deserved my love and respect.

    When marriage didn't meet the unrealistic expectations I had before the wedding, and real life kicked in, it became easy to fall into the habit of tearing down my husband and marriage.

    It seemed the longer we were together, the easier it was to see each other's flaws, and mercilessly criticize them. This eventually led to short tempers, less tolerance, and a lack of marital bliss. Not what I dreamed my marriage would be when I said "I do."

    Maybe you can relate? Have you noticed too that as a result of these frustrations, the gifts of unconditional love, respect and admiration that we fully intended to offer become gifts we withhold?

    A few years ago I picked up a book written for wives. I was hoping to rekindle some passion in my marriage. Little did I know God would use truths shared in that book to get my attention and help me make some inward changes.

    As I read, God convicted my heart about things I had said to my husband just days earlier. Critical comments that rolled off my tongue so easily, I now regretted deeply. Although I had fully intended to be my husband's biggest encourager, I had become one of his worst critics.

    God helped me see the powerful influence I have on my husband and marriage when choosing words that build up. Words that encourage instead of discourage. Words that heal, not wound.

    As women, we can build up or tear down our husbands every day, merely by the respect we give, the words we choose, and the amount of faith in him we convey.

    Respect and admiration are two of the most powerful tools a wife has to influence her husband. Realizing I had fallen short in giving those two precious gifts to my man, I asked God to help me control my tongue. I asked Him to fill my heart and mouth with words that would make my husband feel admired, respected and loved, regardless of whether I felt he deserved it.

    I knew I'd need God's help to follow through on my renewed intentions, so I asked for a gentle nudge from the Holy Spirit when critical thoughts crept into my mind. God helped me avoid the temptation to say them out loud.

    Within just a few weeks, I saw a change — in me, in my husband's demeanor, and in our relationship. A change that rekindled unconditional love, respect and admiration within my heart, thoughts and actions toward my husband. A change that reflected what I set out to give him all along.

    Through our words of respect, and admiration, we can help our husbands become the great men God created them to be, and in turn, have we can have the marriages we fully intended to build. It will take patience, humbleness and grace, but it'll produce love, happiness and togetherness.

    Dear Lord, help tame my tongue and focus on building up my man. Help me break free of the habit to criticize, even when warranted. Open my eyes to the positive, not the negative. Draw us closer, and help us both nurture a strong and loving marriage. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    Related Resources:
    Tracie Miles' new book Stressed Less Living: Finding God's Peace In Your Chaotic World can help you have a less stressed marriage.

    Capture His Heart and Capture Her Heart by Lysa TerKeurst are great wedding presents for the newlyweds in your life! Or purchase a set for you and your husband.

    Reflect and Respond:
    Think about how important your husband's love is to you and consider how much your respect means to him.

    If your marriage seems strained right now, think about conversations with your husband lately. Have your comments been encouraging and uplifting, or discouraging and destructive?

    Power Verses:
    Genesis 2:24, "For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh." (NIV 1984)

    James 3:5b-6a, "Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body." (NIV 1984)

    © 2013 by Tracie Miles. All rights reserved.

    Proverbs 31 Ministries
    616-G Matthews-Mint Hill Road
    Matthews, NC 28105
    www.Proverbs31.org


    This post was posted in Daily Devotion, Proverbs 31 and was tagged with Ephesians, Marriage

  • Love Rejects Envy

    Posted on February 8, 2013 by Boyd Bailey

    Boyd Bailey

    Love does not envy. 1 Corinthians 13:4

    Envy is insecure. It is unsure of and uncomfortable in its identity. However, love is without envy, agape love understands and embraces its identity in Christ. Love feels the comforting fingerprints of faith wrapped around its feelings. There’s a sense of security with a soul whose sole focus is faith in Christ. Jealousy is jettisoned where love for Jesus is the motivation for words and deeds. Love sees someone’s success as cause for celebration, not competition. Envy frowns, love smiles.

    Moreover, let love lead you to serve, instead of striving for envy’s elusive status. Follow love's line of reasoning and your mind will be challenged to excellence when a colleague experiences significant accomplishments. Love avoids obsessing over how to surpass a friend’s good fortune. Do you embrace and celebrate your spouse’s successes? Or do you silently steam for lack of attention? A healthy husband and wife are secure in their individuality. Their identity is in Christ.

    A heart at peace gives life to the body, but envy rots the bones. Proverbs 14:30

    Jealousy is cruel, love is compassionate. Jealousy is shortsighted, love looks longterm. Jealousy is threatened, love is empowered. Jealousy jockeys for position, love trusts God for promotion. Therefore, look for ways to love loved ones who may be lured  by the seductive sirens of success. Remind those uniquely gifted of the Giver of their gifts (Almighty God) and how far faith in Jesus has brought them. Love is secure in calling out fools for its confidence is in Christ.

     

    Finally the way to find yourself is not to focus on yourself. Focus instead on love for Christ and be content with who you are in Him. You can love well because your Lord loves you well. You are a forgiven child of God, filled with the Holy Spirit and full of potential for Him. You are loved unconditionally by your Heavenly Father, you are saved from sin by His Son Jesus and you are sealed securely by His Holy Spirit. Your contentment in Christ is cause to love and not envy.

     

    For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice. James 3:16

    Prayer: Heavenly Father I pray for a healthy heart motivated by love, not driven by envy.

     

    Related Readings: Job 5:2; Ecclesiastes 4:4; Galatians 5:26; 1 Timothy 6:4

     

    Post/Tweet today: The way to find yourself is not to focus on yourself, but on Christ. #focus

    © 2012 by Boyd Bailey. All rights reserved.

    Wisdom Hunters Resources / A registered 501 c3 ministry

    info@mail.wisdomhuntersdevotional.com / www.wisdomhunters.com


    This post was posted in Daily Devotion, Wisdom Hunters and was tagged with 1 Corinthians, Marriage

  • Love Kindly

    Posted on February 7, 2013 by Boyd Bailey

    Boyd Bailey

    Love is kind. 1 Corinthians 13:4

    Kind love is the kind of love that shows up to serve. It always looks for ways to move beyond feeling generous to being generous. Kindness transitions empathy into action and sympathy into service. Kind love is not stuck on itself, rather it relishes  reaching out to the needs of others. It wears a smile, gives a hug, kisses a head, pats an arm, lifts a burden, prays a prayer and writes a check. Love is kind, because Christ is kind and He is love. So, love kindly and be like Jesus.

    How does it feel when you have a kind encounter with someone? Probably a mixture of respect, joy and inspiration to name a few positive emotions. Unsolicited loving kindness that comes to you when least expected, provides the most encouragement. Your kind love is the kind of support your spouse needs to get through the day and not be overwhelmed by unrealistic expectations. Your warm eyes communicate compassion to those you see with sensitivity. Kindness loves well.

    I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with unfailing kindness.

    Jeremiah 31:3

    Indeed, your kind love is attractive to all with whom you have influence. Unkindness is a repulsive smell, but kindness is a sweet aroma that fills the air it occupies. Like honey to a bee, a scratch to a dog or a caresses to a cat, your loving kindness is tasty for hungry hearts. It is security for souls that itch for intimacy. When you love kindly, you experience its fruit: peace, joy, patience, gratitude, respect and friendship. Kindness facilitates all kinds of good deeds.

     

    Lastly it is the Lord’s loving kindness that causes us to be kind. His kindness draws us to Himself and leads us to repentance. Because of our heavenly Father’s great kindness, we want to be the kind of children that He is pleased to call His own. Therefore, from our grateful hearts we are honored to honor Christ by loving our loved ones in kind ways. Yes, we pray for our home to have a relational climate of kindness. Our kind actions speak the language of our Lord’s love!

     

    I led them with cords of human kindness, with ties of love. To them I was like one who lifts a little child to the cheek, and I bent down to feed them. Hosea 11:4

     

    Prayer: Heavenly Father grow me into a kind person by Your loving kindness.

     

    Related Readings: Genesis 39:21; Joshua 2:12; Luke 6:35; 2 Corinthians 6:6; Colossians 3:12

     

    Post/Tweet today: Our warm eyes communicate compassion to those we see with sensitivity. #kindness

     

    © 2012 by Boyd Bailey. All rights reserved.

    Wisdom Hunters Resources / A registered 501 c3 ministry

    info@mail.wisdomhuntersdevotional.com / www.wisdomhunters.com

     

     


    This post was posted in Daily Devotion, Wisdom Hunters and was tagged with 1 Corinthians, Marriage

  • Love Patiently

    Posted on February 6, 2013 by Boyd Bailey

    Boyd Bailey

    Love is patient. 1 Corinthians 13:4

    Patience is a natural expression of love, as people who are loved are shown patience. However, some relationships are harder  to patiently love. An unprovoked patience requires  a small capacity for love, but a provoked patience requires  a greater grace. A common love handles effortlessly being treated well, but love requires an uncommon patience when treated unjustly. Authentic love is willing to suffer long for the sake of the one being served. So, love patiently all people.

    Are your circumstances trying your patience? Has someone gotten on your last nerve and exhausted your patience? If so, join the company of those who need a fresh perspective of God’s patient love toward us. Yes, while we were still sinners, the Lord patiently allowed His son Jesus to suffer, so we could be set free from the shackles of sin. Christ loves patiently to the point of bearing our burdens with us. We are not discarded, but loved, in spite of our inconsistencies.

    But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:8

    Therefore, by God’s grace we demonstrate patient love towards those who do not demonstrate patient love toward us. Our frustrated friends could be stuck in their own crazy cycle of sin, still in need of a Savior. They are not capable of loving patiently, because they have yet to receive the genuine love of their Heavenly Father. Indeed, those of us who commune with the Prince of Peace know better, but those lacking peace struggle with patience. Love is patient with impatience.

    Moreover, see your marriage as a laboratory of learning how to love patiently the love of your life. Take the high ground of grace when you are hurt. Explain with loving patience to your husband or wife the pain you feel you carry alone. Let them in on your fears, dreams and angry feelings. When you express your emotions with patient love, you give permission for your spouse to do the same. Your love may suffer for a season, but your patience is a portrait of God’s grace.

    Surely it was for my benefit that I suffered such anguish. In your love you kept me from the pit of destruction; you have put all my sins behind your back. Isaiah 38:17

     

    Prayer: Heavenly Father thank you for loving me patiently, so I can love others patiently.

     

    Related Readings: Genesis 19:16; Exodus 34:6; Ephesians 1:4, 4:2; 1 Peter 3:8, 18

     

    Post/Tweet today: Take the high ground of grace when you are hurt. #grace

     

     

    © 2012 by Boyd Bailey. All rights reserved.

    Wisdom Hunters Resources / A registered 501 c3 ministry

    info@mail.wisdomhuntersdevotional.com / www.wisdomhunters.com


    This post was posted in Daily Devotion, Wisdom Hunters and was tagged with 1 Corinthians, Marriage

  • Committed Love

    Posted on February 5, 2013 by Boyd Bailey

    Boyd Bailey

    “Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.” 1 Peter 4:8

    Committed love is the high bar of behavior in marriage. It is not a convenient love that only remains loyal if it has feelings of love. Indeed, a devoted wife and husband love each other deeply. It is a depth of love not shaken by financial setbacks or a child who breaks their heart. Like western pioneers, a married couple committed to love circles their wagons in wholehearted dedication and stay faithful. Committed love finds a way to forgive and move forward by faith.

    Are you looking for a way out of your covenant with God or have you both shut the door on divorce? Your first commitment is to Christ and His commands. His heart’s desire is for you to cover the sins of your spouse with forgiveness and fidelity to your relationship. Love does not pay back by inflicting harm, but  gives back by believing the best. You know you have committed love for your spouse if your motivation is to heal their hurting heart. Your love flows from Jesus’ love.

    “Again Jesus said, “Simon son of John [Peter], do you love me?” He answered, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Take care of my sheep.” John 21:16

    Peter knew first hand the depth of Christ’s love that forgave him of his multiple sins of betrayal. Indeed, it is out of our incredible sense of being forgiven much that we love much. The reality of the depth of our sin heightens as we mature in the faith. Yes, it is the Lord’s precious forgiveness that constrains us to love deeply our dear wife or husband. Our committed love to each other is built upon Christ’s committed love to us. Marriage focused on Jesus loves one another like Jesus.

    What are some ways you can go deeper in your love for your spouse? You love deeply when you share with them the depth of gratitude you have for their love for you. You love deeply when you defend them in front of complaining children and when you show respect by not publicly criticizing them. You are capable oflovingyour spouse deeply when Christ has loved you deeply. Yes, your committed love is a compelling example of Jesus to your children and to their children.

    “Her sins, which are many, are forgiven, for she loved much. But to whom little is forgiven, the same loves little.” Luke 7:47, NKJV

     

    Prayer: Heavenly Father thank you for deeply loving me, so I in turn can deeply love my spouse.

     

    Related Readings: Proverbs 10:12; John 10:11; 1 Peter 1:22; James 5:20

     

    Post/Tweet today: Love does not pay back by inflicting harm, but  gives back by believing the best. #love

     

    © 2012 by Boyd Bailey. All rights reserved.

    Wisdom Hunters Resources / A registered 501 c3 ministry

    info@mail.wisdomhuntersdevotional.com / www.wisdomhunters.com


    This post was posted in Daily Devotion, Wisdom Hunters and was tagged with 1 Peter, Marriage

  • Marriage Intentionality

    Posted on February 4, 2013 by Boyd Bailey

    Boyd Bailey

    “Marriage should be honored by all.” Hebrews 13:4
    Successful marriages require intentionality. Indeed, most marriages that please the Lord do not happen by accident. There is a prayerful pattern of planning and wise choices that come with a meaningful marriage. The husband and wife honor one another by aspiring to each other’s interests. They connect at deeper emotional levels because they take the time to communicate their feelings. By God’s grace they understand each other's needs and help satisfy those needs.
    How can we be intentional with our spouse? Our acts of service are an example of how we can show them tangible ways we care. If we are the recipient of a deliciously prepared meal, we can insist on clearing the table and cleaning up the kitchen. If our car requires maintenance or repair, we can take the lead taking care of the need. Perhaps we collaborate over a grocery list and then quietly make a trip to the market and purchase the items. Intentional service shows love.
    “You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love.” Galatians 5:13

     

    Moreover, intentional marriages set goals to get better. You may decide as a couple to dialogue daily, date weekly and depart quarterly. Daily dialogue is a sure fire way to keep the fire of your relationship burning brightly. Consistent emotional connection between husband and wife is necessary to feel loved. Weekly date nights give you an opportunity to romance one another and have fun. Intimacy takes intentionality. Make a marriage plan so life doesn’t make plans for you.

    Above all else, have spiritual intentionality in your marriage. Take the time for prayer walks and initiate talks about spiritual matters. Volunteer together at church and/or in your community. Keep your individual quiet times a priority and then share with one another what the Lord is teaching you. Perhaps you serve on a mission trip together at home and/or overseas. Marriage intentionality honors the Lord and honors you and your spouse. So, be prayerfully intentional!

    “Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves.” Romans 12:10

    Prayer: Dear Lord give us wisdom in our marriage to model Your intentional love and care.

    Related Readings: Psalm 133:1; Philippians 2:3; 1 Thessalonians 4:9; 1 Peter 1:22
    Post/Tweet today: Intentional marriages set goals to get better: dialogue daily, date weekly, depart quarterly. #marriage
    © 2012 by Boyd Bailey. All rights reserved.
    Wisdom Hunters Resources / A registered 501 c3 ministry
    info@mail.wisdomhuntersdevotional.com / www.wisdomhunters.com


    This post was posted in Daily Devotion, Wisdom Hunters and was tagged with Hebrews, Marriage

  • The Honeymoon Life

    Posted on January 1, 2013 by Sharon Glasgow

    Sharon Glasgow

    "Strength and honor are her clothing; and she shall rejoice in time to come." Proverbs 31:25 (KJV)

    My heart sank as she told me the tragic end to her love story. When she and her husband married, they couldn't afford a nice honeymoon. Kids came and the money to do something special together just never seemed to be there. Her husband worked all the time, so for years she dreamed and planned for the trip she longed for with him—the perfect honeymoon.

    When their last child was leaving for college, they finally set up their honeymoon trip. But something awful happened right before they were ready to leave. Her husband was tragically killed in a car accident. Her dreams were shattered.

    With a lump in my throat and tears in my eyes, I stood by her feeling helpless to offer the right words. All I could say was, "I'm so sorry."

    Her story affected me deeply. Although my husband was still alive, I didn't have the honeymoon of my dreams either. On our wedding night we stayed at a state park. For years I too dreamed of the day I would have a "real" honeymoon. After hearing her story, I changed my thinking and made a new plan.

    I didn't want to pin my hopes on a fancy trip. On that day I decided to live every day as if it were my honeymoon.

    Rather than a honeymoon trip, I wanted a honeymoon life.

    Hearing her story made me worry. What if my husband died too? What if I didn't have the chance to show him how important he was to me every day?

    I went before the Lord and committed, "My husband is Yours. I don't know how long my days will be with him. But, I trust You to teach me how to spend our time wisely. I trust You that when our days are done, I will have no regrets. Teach me now how to be a lover of You first. And by loving You, I will know how to love my husband fully every day, especially when the days are hard, the storms rage, and the sun sets at the close of our life."

    On that day the Lord gave me a peace that flooded my entire being. A scripture from the Bible came to my mind after I prayed. It was Proverbs 31:25, "Strength and honor are her clothing; and she shall rejoice in time to come."

    I knew God was telling me to not be afraid of what tomorrow might bring. He would give me the strength to live the honeymoon life successfully. That truth helped me rejoice at my future knowing that I would live married life to the fullest.

    Just a few weeks later my husband and I celebrated our anniversary. We couldn't afford a special trip, but that didn't discourage me. This was the start of a new way of looking at my marriage ... of celebrating a honeymoon life every day. I packed a simple picnic of his favorite foods and the two of us enjoyed it, and each other, in the middle of our field.

    No trip around the world, no lavish hotel, nor any gourmet dish could have competed with that field, the picnic dinner, and the way God changed my perspective.

    From that day on, I chose the honeymoon life. Not just dreaming of it but living it every day. I've set my heart to cherish the simple things, like making my husband's favorite foods and eating together by candlelight, going to bed at the same time, reading and praying together. Even mundane trips to the store together.

    We've been living the honeymoon life for 16 years now and have been married for 31. With God's help, I've been able to see every day as an opportunity to love my husband in a special way. We may never go on that honeymoon trip, but I'll take a picnic in a field with the one I love any day.

    Dear Lord, give me the ability to live the honeymoon life with my husband. Help me to stop focusing on the what if's of the future and to start focusing on loving to the fullest today. Help me not to have any regrets of how I've lived out my married life. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    Related Resources:
    Capture His Heart by Lysa TerKeurst

    What a Husband Needs from His Wife by Melanie Chitwood

    Reflect and Respond:
    It isn't anniversary trips, diamonds or flowers that make our marriage. It's how we live married life every day that makes it romantic and priceless.

    What are some things you could do for your husband that would jumpstart the honeymoon life today?

    Power Verses:
    Proverbs 31:10-11, "Who can find a virtuous wife? For her worth is far above rubies. The heart of her husband safely trusts her; so he will have no lack of gain." (NKJV)

    Hebrews 10:24, "And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works." (NKJV)

    © 2012 by Sharon Glasgow. All rights reserved.

    Proverbs 31 Ministries
    616-G Matthews-Mint Hill Road
    Matthews, NC 28105
    www.Proverbs31.org


    This post was posted in Daily Devotion, Proverbs 31 and was tagged with Proverbs, Marriage

  • The Unraveling of a Marriage

    Posted on December 27, 2012 by Lysa TerKeurst

    Lysa TerKeurst

    "Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves." Romans 12:10 (NIV)

    I had a favorite sweater I loved wearing. It wasn't too bulky but was still warm and cozy. The only problem was the threads were loosely woven together. It would snag on things, so I had to be careful.

    I was mindful of the delicate nature of this sweater so I could protect it, make it last, and enjoy wearing it time and again.

    Until one day I was in a hurry, grabbed some things I needed and rushed to my car. I tossed my stuff on the passenger seat, including a spiral notebook whose metal binding wire caught on my sleeve. As I pulled my arm toward the steering wheel, the notebook came with it and pulled a huge snag in my sweater.

    I unhooked myself and assessed the damage. I should have taken the sweater off and later taken time to repair the snag the correct way.

    But in my rush, I made the decision to do what seemed easiest in the moment. I snipped the lose threads and hoped for the best.

    That decision started an unraveling process that ended the life of my beautiful sweater.

    Recently, my husband and I got into an argument. In front of the kids. Over something so stupid. Right before we were about to head out the door to go on a date.

    In the heat of the argument he announced the date was off. He no longer wanted to go. Honestly, I didn't either.

    I wanted to sit in a coffee shop by myself and make a mental list of all the reasons I was right. All the reasons he was wrong. And justify my perspective.

    But it's at this exact moment of resistance an unraveling can begin.

    Doing what seems easy in the moment often isn't what's best for the long term.

    I pushed for us to still go on our date. It wasn't fun. It wasn't easy. There were tears.

    There were awkward stretches of silence. But we pushed through the resistance we both felt, and eventually talked.

    Talking through the snags. The pulls. The things that threaten to unravel us.

    There is a delicate nature to marriage. It's so easy to forget that. It's so easy to take it all for granted and stop being careful. Stop being mindful. Stop being protective.

    The unraveling can happen so quickly. And the unraveling doesn't just happen in marriages. It can occur with best friends, children, in-laws ... especially during the holidays.

    Yes, during what's considered the happiest season of the year, stress levels can be at an all time high. Between coordinating family get-togethers, shopping blow-out sales, and spending time with that relative you might not be friends with if you weren't related, Christmas can feel anything but merry and the New Year anything but happy. And all that's pulling at you can make tempers flare and your relationships feel like they're coming apart at the seams.

    Be intentional about catching the snags in these relationships. Today. Right now.

    For me, being intentional required an apology to my husband. By admitting I was wrong and asking for forgiveness. Repairing the snags the correct way—tying a knot and tucking it back into the weave of our relationship fabric.

    Dear Lord, thank You for special relationships. I let my emotional state get the best of me sometimes, but I want You to be in control of how I react. Please give me the spirit I need to build up people around me instead of tearing them down. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    Related Resources:
    In her New York Times best selling book Unglued, Lysa TerKeurst shares how to respond with no regrets by managing your tendencies to stuff or explode. Click here to purchase your copy.

    Do you have a few friends drowning in relationship stress? The Unglued Bible study bundle makes a great gift you can all enjoy together and study in the New Year.

    Reflect and Respond:
    What's something you can do today to invest wisely in your relationships?

    Write down two people you will commit to improving your relationship with this month. Note things that are special to them such as favorite hobbies, ways they are encouraged, places to eat, etc. Use this information to bless them in the time you spend together.

    Power Verses:
    Hebrews 10:24-25, "And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching." (NIV)

    © 2012 by Lysa TerKeurst. All rights reserved.

    Proverbs 31 Ministries
    616-G Matthews-Mint Hill Road
    Matthews, NC 28105
    www.Proverbs31.org


    This post was posted in Daily Devotion, Proverbs 31 and was tagged with Romans, Marriage

  • You Were Designed For More...

    Posted on October 22, 2012 by Family Christian

    The following is an excerpt taken from Surfing For God by Michael Cusick.

    Have you ever wondered what makes a certain act sinful and another not sinful? Why is it wrong to lie? Or kill? Or commit adultery? Who says viewing porn is wrong when our culture tries to reassure us that it’s natural and normal—in fact, based on popular consumption and the ten-billion-dollar industry it generates, you’re abnormal if you don’t view porn!

    One way of thinking about why something is sinful is to respond, “It says in the Bible that it’s wrong.” While true, God put dos and don’ts into the Bible because they reveal something much deeper about us. When God tells us not to commit adultery, He is telling us that doing this goes against our design. “Do not commit adultery” is God’s version of “Do not brush your teeth with a toaster” or “Do not grill steaks on a block of ice.” It just can’t accomplish what it was designed to do. Like sailing the seven seas in a Chevy pickup—it doesn’t get the job done, and you put yourself at great risk.

    Or consider porn this way. Wouldn’t it be rather odd if a trained fighter pilot never left the hangar for fear of not knowing how to fly the jet? Or consider a gifted sculptor who never picked up his hammer and chisel because he couldn’t find the perfect block of marble.

    What if a major-league baseball player didn’t show up for practice because he spent all his time playing baseball on his Xbox? Or a master shipbuilder never sailed the open waters because his fantasy of the perfect seaworthy vessel kept him on dry ground?

    This is what porn is like. It allures us with the image or fantasy of being with a woman, while preventing us from being able to actually engage with a real woman. Porn keeps us from flying the jet, getting in the game, or sailing the high seas. All because we settle for something that doesn’t exist and will never satisfy us.

    So how does porn go against our design as men and sabotage God’s dream for us to live out our true identities? C. S. Lewis spoke to the heart of this question when he wrote about the soul damage caused by sexual fantasy (whether through masturbation or pornography) and what he called “imaginary women.” Lewis described these imaginary women this way: “Always accessible, always subservient, calls for no sacrifices or adjustments, and can be endowed with erotic and psychological attractions which no real woman can rival. Among those shadow brides he is always adored, always the perfect lover; no demand is made on his unselfishness, no mortification ever imposed on his vanity.”

    Lewis began with the assumption that sex is good, not bad—a gift to be enjoyed within God-designed boundaries. He also framed his words against the backdrop that “the main work of life is to come up and out of ourselves.” Lewis assumed that God designed us to mature and become less focused on ourselves and more focused on loving others. When we fixate on porn, we choose to remain selfishly anchored to our own pleasure above all else. When we preoccupy ourselves with meeting our own needs and ignoring the needs of others—in this case, our wives, flesh-and-blood women, and not some Photoshopped model—then we stifle our spiritual growth. Lewis summed up the problem with pornography this way: “In the end, [imaginary women] become the medium through which he increasingly adores himself. After all, the main work of life is to come out of ourselves, out of the little, dark prison we are all born in. . . . All things are to be avoided which retard this process. The danger is that of coming to love the prison.”

    Lewis calls us to remember what a man is made for: our deepest longing is to know God in the center of our being, and out of that place to offer ourselves for the sake of others. Augustine taught about the theological idea of incurvatus se—a life turned in on itself. Porn successfully accomplishes this—it causes our soul to turn in on itself in self-absorbed isolation and shame. It diminishes our souls. It seduces a man to use women to meet a need in himself—without meeting any of her needs. And this act of “using” comes not only at her expense but also at the devastating cost of his own heart. We don’t realize the price we pay until we feel empty and bankrupt inside.

    You were created for something bigger than yourself.

    You were created for excurvatus se—a life lived outward. Not outward as in codependent or being a martyr. Not dying to self in a way where legitimate needs are neglected. But a life that flows from a deep source. A life that bears fruit. A life lived outwardly enhances, builds up, and causes the heart to flourish. Donald Miller has suggested that we are trees in the story of a forest. And that story of the forest is better than the story of the trees.5 Pornography perverts and upends this idea with titillating images that invite us to live as if the story of the trees were the only story, and the story of the forest doesn’t exist.

    The purpose of this book is to go beyond the common “Just don’t do it” strategy of sin management. Together, we will explore the truth of how you were meant to live and how you can get there so you can enjoy a new and better life in the forest. I invite you to stop looking at pictures of F-18s in combat and ships on the high seas, or playing baseball on your Xbox instead of eating the dust of a real baseball diamond. We’ll do much more than that. You’ll discover the thrill of getting into the game, flying the F-18, and sailing the ship so that pornography and lust lose their grip on your soul.

    Please read closely: the deepest truth about you is that you are the F-18 pilot, created for combat. God designed you to be a hero— to focus your strength and courage on behalf of something and someone bigger than yourself. You are the major-league ballplayer, created with the offensive and defensive abilities to get in the game with a team of others on a common mission. God uniquely fashioned you to win games. To hit home runs. To steal bases. God chose you to play on His team.

    Adapted from Surfing for God: Discovering the Divine Desire Beneath Sexual Struggle by Michael Cusick. Copyright ©2012. Used by permission of Thomas Nelson, Inc.

    This post was posted in Books and was tagged with Marriage, C.S. Lewis, Michael Cusick, Pornography, Donald Miller

  • Wives Need Their Husbands… To Push The Right Buttons

    Posted on September 27, 2012 by Family Christian

    Jay Payleitner is one of the top freelance Christian radio producers in the United States. He has worked on Josh McDowell Radio, Today's Father, Jesus Freaks Radio for The Voice of the Martyrs, Project Angel Tree with Chuck Colson, and many others. He’s also a popular speaker at men's events and the author of the bestselling 52 Things Kids Need from a Dad, 52 Things Wives Need from a Husband, and One-Minute Devotions for Dads. He has also served as an AWANA director, a wrestling coach, and executive director of the Illinois Fatherhood Initiative. Jay and his wife, Rita, make their home in the Chicago area, where they’ve raised five great kids and loved on ten foster babies.

    Here are some things my bride likes: fireworks, parades, a company bathroom that’s welcoming, babies, cute babies, goofy-looking babies, well produced television commercials with cute or goofy-looking babies, scones, sparkly glassware on her Thanksgiving dinner table, hanging out with her children, bling for Christmas, warm feet, lying on a beach with a book, fresh flowers, fresh snow, frozen Cokes, lightly buttered popcorn, drinking straws, craft magazines, etcetera.

    It’s a good list. And I’ll probably think of a few more things in the normal course of life. I’ll have to make sure my editor checks with me right before going to press to see if there are a few more things to add. Actually, just writing this list has been a valuable exercise. Th inking about what my bride likes literally strengthens my marriage.

    A couple of things worth noting about this kind of list. It focuses on the positive. I could have included items such as “chili that’s not filled with cayenne pepper” and “kitchen countertops without a bunch of appliances.” But that would essentially be a list of things she doesn’t like (spicy chili and cluttered counters). Everything on the list gives off mostly positive vibes. Of course, we husbands should be well aware of what our wives don’t like, but that’s not the point of this chapter.

    The other thing about this list is that these are not emotional needs or love languages exclusive to the husband-wife relationship. These are things Rita likes anytime, anyplace, no matter who provides them. If a scone, fresh flowers, or craft magazine mysteriously appeared on our kitchen table, she would enjoy that thing simply because she likes it. Sure, part of the fun of parades and fireworks is sharing them with others, but I’m pretty sure Rita would enjoy them in the company of strangers.

    You probably know where I’m going with this. A wise husband will make a similar list particular to his own wife. Using it and updating it frequently. In random order, provide one of those items to your bride once a week for the rest of your life. Be intentional about it. Find a scone bakery on the way home from work. On movie night, make sure you have some microwave popcorn in the cabinet. Book a beach vacation.

    Or better, keep the list at the top of your mind and allow it to trigger spontaneous moments when you provide your wife one of her favorite things. While you’re waiting for a prescription, if you notice a craft magazine, pick it up. If one of those cute-baby commercials comes on when she’s in the kitchen, pause the DVR and play it for her when she returns. If you notice the sun glinting off a fresh snowfall, stop what you’re doing and share the moment with your bride.

    The goal here is not selfish. It’s easy to think, If I give her what she likes, she’ll give me what I like. That’s not it at all. The goal is to fully integrate into your marriage the “two becoming one” idea from Matthew chapter 19. Maybe think of it this way: If I give her what she likes, it gives me joy as well.

    Making sense? No? It makes total sense to me, but perhaps that is because I started this chapter out with a list specific to my bride. I’m pretty sure that if you make a similar list for yours, it will all be clear. Don’t just do it in your head. Get out a yellow pad or open a new Word doc and just start thinking about what makes your wife smile. Your mind may start to wander to the stuff that ticks her off or launches an unwelcome bout of nagging, but don’t go there. Stay positive.

    I promise, just making that list will give you all kinds of fresh insights, warm fuzzies, and a new appreciation for your bride. You’ll begin to see her as only a devoted husband can. There are things you know about her that no one else does. Which means only you can intentionally and regularly provide those moments of joy. Only you can prompt that intimate smile that makes marriage different than any other relationship in the world.

    Takeaway

    The longer you’re married, the more you know how to push your wife’s buttons. Which ones to push and how often is really your choice.

    Excerpted from 52 Things Wives Need from Their Husbands by Jay Payleitner. Copyright ©2012 by Jay Payleitner. Excerpted by permission of Harvest House Publishers. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

    This post was posted in Books and was tagged with Marriage, Jay Payleitner, Husbands, Wives

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