Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Invest (part I)

In his book Divine Fingerprint, author and pastor Keith Craft writes about the miracle of loaves and fishes that took place during the sermon on the mount. His interesting take on the story regards who the hero is. Sure, the disciples start the conversation and point out the problem.
The disciples came to him and said "This is a deserted place, and the hour is now late; send the crowds away so that they may go into the villages and buy food"  -Matthew 14:15

and Jesus (of course) thanks God and performs the miracle…
Taking the five loaves and the two fish, he looked up to heaven, and blessed and broke the loaves, and gave them to his disciples  -Mark 6:41

but in John 6:8 is where Craft finds the hero.
Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, said to him, “There is a boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish.

“There is a boy here.”

We don’t even know his name, but a boy, one of the multitude that had come to see Jesus, had with him five loaves and two fish. When asked, he gave all he had to God, in the person of the Son, so that a miracle could happen. God steps in to perform miracles only when what needs to happen is beyond our reach, our ability, our strength. That means we have to have exhausted our human potential towards a goal and be open to God’s will. We must give all we have, in this case, to our marriage. When we do, then we become eligible for the miraculous.

I’ve heard marriage described as something that is “built” with talk of strong foundations, but perhaps it is more like something that is grown. It must be cultivated, watered, cared for and fed if it is to flourish. These activities are most effective when undertaken daily, and by both parties. Husband and wife must both bring all they have to the process, since both will bring different qualities, different skills, different gifts. It is very easy in this day and age to take your marriage for granted. Life is hectic, everyone is busy, a multitude of other activities and responsibilities - work, school, kids, church - are constantly clamoring for your attention. It can be tempting to think that since you are already married, loving your spouse can slip down on the list of priorities. Nothing could be further from the truth! That would not be giving all we have.

When that happens, the union can live up to its potential, can be a picture of God’s love for the world. A marriage thus nurtured becomes healthy and thriving, it will bear fruit; it will be a place where miracles happen.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Transaction vs. Transformation

For many, all the relationships they maintain in their life are transactional. That is, they put time and energy into the relationship to get something from it in return. When one enters into marriage with this mindset, problems ensue. Many enter into marriage this way because of how they approached dating. Even before the advent of online dating, where one gets to create a digital profile, dating could be described as the attempt to “get” a husband or wife. To that end one presents the most attractive parts of his- or herself, and possibly even modifies their behavior to be more attractive. Like fishing, one tries to offer an enticing bait to trigger a bite. This can lead to disillusionment when, after the wedding day, a person no longer exhibits those same behaviors or traits. It could also lead to compromising one’s values or losing one’s self if they try and maintain the facade, constantly feeling the need to “sell themselves” or keep their spouse “hooked” - or simply to get their own wants and needs met in return. This is the world’s standard.

In Romans 12:2 though we are commanded:

Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

We are called to transform, not conform. Marriage done right is transformational. The vows we take to love, honor and cherish the other person for as long as life shall last require us to go outside our comfort zones, beyond our skill sets in an ongoing effort to love and serve our spouses, and in the process become more like God than we would have ever become on our own. We are created in his image after all, but it takes work on our part to fulfill the awesome potential that fact entails.

Take a serious look at how you are behaving towards your spouse.
Are you regularly asking (nagging, begging) for them to do things? Is your relationship marked by bargaining or negotiating? I’ll do this if you do that? Do you do things expecting them to do other  things in return? Or say they “owe” you since they did something that hurt you? 1 Corinthians 13:5 says that love “does not seek its own way” and “does not keep a record of being wronged.”

A transformational marriage mindset is this: that you do things to bless and serve your spouse, expecting nothing back - just because you vowed to love, honor and cherish. With a transformational mindset you seek to become the partner that your spouse needs you to be. In the movie Fireproof, when Kirk Cameron’s character begins performing the daily love dares, he is initially upset that his wife is not reacting how he thinks she should. He is hurt that he is putting in the effort and being spurned, and even scorned. “Why bother?” he asks himself. It is when he starts acting without expectation - other than that he will become a better person - that the wife notices. She sees the change in him that is behind his actions, and the marriage is renewed, saved from the brink.

Seek to transform yourself, by the renewing of your mind. Seek God’s will for yourself and your marriage. Seek to be the person he created you to be. And watch as your relationships are transformed and renewed as well.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Hide and Seek

Consider this verse from Genesis 3:8-10
And they heard the voice of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day: and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God amongst the trees of the garden. And the Lord God called unto Adam, and said unto him, “Where art thou?” And he said, “I heard thy voice in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself.”
Were Adam and Eve hiding from God because they knew they were naked? Or was it really because they were ashamed of what they had done? Ever since that one act of willful disobedience, human beings have done things they knew were wrong. Many people are so broken they don’t even see the error of their ways. Others are proud of their misdeeds; they are unrepentant, reveling in their sin. Regardless, we have all sinned, and fallen short of the glory of God.

For those of us who have turned towards God, we regret. We are left with memories of who we were before we accepted God’s grace and forgiveness. Scripture says our records are wiped clean by Jesus’ dying on the cross for us, but it is easier to know that than it is to feel it, or understand it. After all, we know what messes we were, how bad we screwed up. The excuse that we were younger then, that we didn’t know any better is no balm for our souls. Incredulous, we wonder: how can God possibly love us? How can He forgive us? And so, we hide.

We may not literally disappear from view, but we hide emotionally, and spiritually. We live our lives with those aspects of our past neatly tucked away. We function, but we never surrender those old wrongs to God. We subconsciously repress them, but all that does it make sure we never own them; we never admit them, we never face them. It’s as if we aren’t forgiven of them at all, because we don’t forgive ourselves. We hold on to them, like a grudge against ourselves that anchors us, holds us back, keeps us from becoming all that God designed us to be.

In marriage, this issue can be especially damaging. We cannot be fully loved unless we are fully known. There’s a reason the Biblical euphemism for sexual intercourse is “to know” - because it implies complete, deepest intimacy. Shame and regret make people hide parts of themselves, episodes from their past, thinking their spouse wouldn’t love them if they really knew everything, When there are things you hold tight to and don’t surrender, it affects the relationship. If you are to truly become one flesh, that has to include all facets of both parties, good bad and ugly - otherwise the union can not be complete.

Marriage is supposed to be a place where transparency and vulnerability are safe, but too often it isn’t - or we assume it isn’t - and that keeps it from being all it is designed to be. Both spouses need to commit to fostering an atmosphere of safety, promising to forgive anything from the past. When we can admit it all, we can rid ourselves of it. We can hand it over to God and truly be who he made us to be. John Maxwell said “You know why they call grace amazing? Because it’s amazing!” When two people commit to giving it - and receiving it - from each other, knowing it was given them by God, it is rejuvenating, and transformative. It turns a human relationship into a picture of God’s love that we can show to the world.

I heard once that love happens between two people who don’t know each other, but TRUE love happens between two people who know each other completely - so strive to know one another completely. Be open. Be honest. Forgive. Show grace. Love deep.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015


Humans tend to dwell on the negative. An author will remember one bad review among a hundred good ones. People gripe about minor inconveniences. Fights start over things that after the fact seem inconsequential - if they are remembered at all. Why?

Darren Hardy, in his book The Compound Effect posits that this is - or at least, was - a survival skill. Surrounded by saber-toothed tigers and other beasts, early humans had to be on the lookout for every worst-case scenario. It was literally a matter of life and death! Existence was a never ending string of “lack or attack” situations. Our ancestors had to hunt or gather to avoid the former, and fight back or run like heck to escape the latter. We are calibrated to notice what is bad instead of what is good, since what is good doesn't require a response to survive.

Our modern lives are still sometimes difficult, fraught with peril and indeed, we have to work hard to provide for ourselves and our families. That said, constantly focusing on what’s wrong doesn’t best serve our well-being anymore. This is especially true when it comes to relationships; in fact, in that context it is purposefully focusing on the positive that becomes a “survival” skill!

Pastor Jimmy Evans wrote recently that “Attitudes are a choice. You can't blame them on your reality.” A good attitude is a key to healthy relationships. Your attitude and thoughts determine the reality that you inhabit. A psychological study found that people who thought of themselves as lucky were measurably luckier than those who didn’t think so. The conclusion was that people who thought they were lucky were more open to and aware of the possibilities of good things happening, and thus were able to take advantage of them when they occurred.

With that in mind, what are you thinking about, as far as your marriage is concerned? That he left the toilet seat up again, or didn’t put the cap back on the toothpaste? That she bought four new pairs of shoes? That she didn’t have dinner ready, or he was three hours late coming home from work and didn’t call?

Or did you think about how great your wife’s hair looked last night? What an awesome mom she is? How great your husband is at his job? How much you love his smile? How hard he works to keep the house together? How meticulous she is tracking the finances?

Paul’s words in Phillipians 4:8 are important for life in general, but their significance is magnified within marriage:

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.

None of us are perfect, and if you set out to find fault, you certainly will. If, though, you train yourself to notice good things, as time goes by you will see them more and more. When you tune in to all that is right, you will be heartened instead of discouraged. When you constantly remind yourself of why you married your spouse in the first place, the negative things have less and less effect on your mood, your outlook - and your marriage.

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Running, Part IV

I’ve been writing about using running a race as a metaphor for life and marriage, drawing from new testament scriptures. I've covered setting short term goals for your relationship, and celebrating milestones, identifying the things that get in the way of a healthy marriage, the "little foxes" as Solomon called them in Song of Songs; being vigilant in watching for them and some practical ways to avoid them so we never feel that we “run our race in vain.

The fourth verse I’ll reference in this series is Hebrews 12:1:

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.

There are three points here that are worth noting as they apply to marriage.

“Surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses…” It frustrates me when I hear people say “I’m a spiritual person, but I don’t need to go to church” or, “My relationship with God is private.” There are two dozen places in the new testament where commands that include the phrase “one another” are stated. Pray for one another, bear one another’s burdens, comfort one another. Forgive one another, love one another. How can one fulfill any of these commands by themselves? Community is essential if we are to be the human beings God calls us to be. In the same way, we can’t do marriage all alone. We need other couples around us to encourage us, to support us, and to hold us accountable. It is critical to have in our circles of friends others who believe in God’s design for marriage - and not just people who claim to be our friends, who will tell us what we want to hear instead of what we need to hear. We need people who will lock arms with us when things are tough, who will preach truth when the world says “Serve yourself” or “cut your losses and start over.” We need people we trust, to go to when we have questions or need Godly advice. As we mature, we need to be those people to younger couples, and give back what we've been given. While a church congregation is important, so too are small groups. It is in these more intimate gatherings where relationships can go deeper, and it becomes easier to talk about marriage issues than it is with casual acquaintances.

The second point in this verse is akin to Solomon warning us about the little foxes. The apostle writes "throw off everything that hinders and the sin that entangles." The key to following this directive is to be aware of your situation. Be present, and mindful. Talk regularly with your spouse to take your relationship temperature. If it is cooler than one or both of you would like, heat it up! You have to pay attention so that any snags are noticed before they cause damage that is irreversible, so that you can both work together as teammates to deal with whatever life is throwing at you. Also, both of you should be seeking God's voice, His will for your life and your union. As Solomon writes in Ecclesiastes 4:12 "Two are better than one, but a three-fold cord is not easily broken." Three strands; man, woman and God, are what make a marriage stronger than the world, with it's entangling sin and hindering influences.

Lastly, we are exhorted to "run with perseverance the race marked out for us." God has set the course for you and your spouse. He has plans for what you, as a couple, can accomplish if you continue on; you are together for a reason. In a general sense, marriage is a picture of God's love for creation. We who choose to marry carry the responsibility to be that picture to the world, to show people what God's love is like. We are to model Christ's sacrifice and deep, abiding affection for everyone by loving our spouse like that. If you are in a spot where this sounds impossible, if this truth is not being lived out see it as an opportunity to grow. You can choose to act in love even if you don't feel it. In the garden, Christ wasn't feeling it. As he prayed, sweating blood, he asked that the cup be taken from him - but concluded his prayer with "your will be done, Father, not mine."

In Romans 8:28 we are told that God works all things for good, for those who believe. Regardless of what you are going through, know that God can work good from it. If we are called according to his purpose. If we persevere.

Monday, June 8, 2015

Running, Part III

Last month’s article was about being vigilant against any and all things that can come between us and our spouses, what Solomon calls the “little foxes” in his Song of Songs, the ones that ruin blooming vineyards. How do we do that?

In Galatians 2:2 the apostle Paul writes:

I went in response to a revelation and, meeting privately with those esteemed as leaders, I presented to them the gospel that I preach among the Gentiles. I wanted to be sure I was not running my race in vain.

We can draw much useful information about this verse that applies to marriage.

First, Paul "went in response to a revelation." He was writing about the churches in Galatia coming under the sway of false teachers, straying from the faith Paul taught them. Paul obviously kept in contact with the leaders of these churches, and something in their correspondence led him to feel that something wasn't right. In marriage, we need to be paying attention to our spouse and our households. That way, we too will be aware when something is off. The earlier problems are known about and dealt with, the less damage they can do.

Second, when Paul realized there were issues to confront, he confronted them! He didn’t worry or wonder; he WENT. He met with the leaders. He didn't talk to others about it... he didn't write "Can you believe these Galatians?" to the church in Philippi. He didn't meet with Barnabas to gossip about the happenings in Galatia. Similarly, we should not talk to friends, colleagues or family about our marriage, and we should certainly not post our problems on social media. We should talk to our spouse. (but if the problems are severe, please seek out a counselor, therapist, or pastor.  They can often help solve issues that seem unsolvable.)

When we do talk, we should not attack or berate, but should seek understanding and resolution. Communication needs to be open and honest, but fair and civil. When Paul talks to the Galatian leaders, what was his main tool? The gospel. He brought them back to basics, to the source faith is based on: the Word of God. In marriage, this return to basics is just as valuable. There is plenty in scripture that we can use as the foundation of our marriages. The exposition on love in 1 Corinthians 13, the guidelines for husbands and wives in 1 Corinthians 7 and Ephesians 5, and many others remind us of God's designs for marriage.

We can also look back to the beginning of our relationships, when we fell so in love with our partners that we decided to spend the rest of our lives with them. What were the qualities in your future spouse that made you think, "This is the ONE"? How did you treat each other when you were dating? Do those things again when married life seems dull or tedious, when feelings of love are faded, few and far between. By doing, you will rekindle those emotions that formed the basis of your marriage. It is easy to fall for the world’s lie that you have to feel love to act on it, but the reverse is true, especially in mature relationships. Feelings follow action. Psychologists have observed that simply by smiling, depression can be abated and positivity be revived. Use that revelation to modify your behavior, and watch the good feelings return to your marriage.

When things aren't going well, it can feel like we are running our race in vain, like the effort we have expended was wasted. Throughout the book of Ecclesiastes, Solomon calls everything 'vanity,' akin to chasing after wind. Wisdom? Useless. Wealth? Worthless. Pleasure? Meaningless. And yet he has this advice to give towards the end of the book, in chapter 9 verse 9:

Enjoy life with your wife, whom you love, all the days of this meaningless life that God has given you under the sun

In Proverbs 5:18 this advice is reinforced:

May you rejoice in the wife of your youth. A loving doe, a graceful deer— may her breasts satisfy you always, may you ever be intoxicated with her love.

Date each other again. Reminisce. Relive past victories. Revisit old dreams and goals. Remember why you married each other! With those memories firmly ensconced in the forefront of your thoughts, surely you will see that the race you are running - together - is not at all in vain.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Run, Part II

The world we live in is at times busy, hectic, confusing, and overwhelming, and it is hard to do marriage right within it. There are so many things vying for our attention that is is easy to slip on occasion, and not keep our attention where it belongs; on God, on our spouse and on making our marriage work as it was intended. In our society there are messages constantly bombarding us via all medias (TV, the web, music, literature, pop culture, etc) that marriage is unnecessary and meaningless, and Christian marriage in particular is outdated and obsolete. It is difficult to guard against these messages; we all hear them. the question is, are we listening? Are we letting the world's message in? Are we making decisions about our marriages tainted by earthly values?

Did your marriage start out wonderful, but then the positive feelings slowly eroded, and now you find yourself wondering what happened, unsure of how you got here from there? Galatians 5:7 says:

You were running a good race. Who cut in on you to keep you from obeying the truth?

In a race, especially at the beginning when everyone is bunched together, it is imperative to be aware of your surroundings to avoid being tripped up or blocked. Even when just jogging around the block, cars can back out of driveways in your path, dogs can bolt out from open gates, and potholes or uneven sidewalks can trip you up.

In marriage, there are a plethora of things that could be at fault for a deteriorating relationship. Pornography and erotica could lead to unrealistic expectations or hurtful ideas in the bedroom. Self-centered notions of pleasure and enjoyment delivered by commercials and advertisements could be at the root of reckless spending causing financial friction. Substance abuse, focusing on work at the expense of family, and even 'good' things like volunteering and ministry can be destructive if they are prioritized above marriage. We must be on guard against all these things, and more. Solomon states it this way in Song of Songs 2:15

Catch for us the foxes, the little foxes that ruin the vineyards, our vineyards that are in bloom.

In the book Stripped Down, authors Tony and Alisa DiLorenzo have a chapter on priorities. They state in marriage it should go:

1) God   2) Spouse   3) Family   4) everything else

Whenever something causes us to get these out of order, it becomes a little fox ruining our vineyard, or another runner cutting in front of us making us break our stride. We must be vigilant, and not let anything come between us and our spouses.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015


Our third annual 5k is fast approaching! I hope you all have been training hard, and are ready to get out there and set a new personal best. As we prepare, let's think about what can race-running teach us about marriage.

I have heard it said that marriage is a marathon, not a sprint. In the context of a life together, that first day, the day we got married, is like a hundred yard dash. We spend lots of time preparing for it: booking a venue, hiring caterers and musicians, sending invitations... the list of things to do to plan a wedding seems endless! But then, finally, the day arrives - and all of the sudden it’s over. It’s easy to relax, thinking "Phew! Now it's done!" But marriage, the marathon, has just started. Have we trained for that? What work have we put in to prepare ourselves to succeed at the longer distance? Our society puts very little emphasis on training to be successful in the long term, but it is critical. 1 Corinthians 9:24 says:

Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize.

Our culture has made quitting acceptable; too few people "run in such a way as to get the prize." We need to enter into marriage with a long view. we need to believe that finishing - growing old together, until death do you part - is the goal. We must have the mindset that quitting, i.e. divorce, is not an option. So how do we get there? Preparation is one key. Premarital counseling, having deep discussions about expectations, values, goals and dreams can help remove potential obstacles from the path. For some of us, it’s too late for that kind of “training.” We are already deep in. For us, how we “run the race” is our key to success. The big picture is often daunting to comprehend or even think about, especially when things are not going well. Bill Rancic, entrepreneur and TV personality said, "I think what a lot of marathon runners do is envision crossing that finish line; visualization is critical. But for me, I set a lot of little goals along the way to get my mind off that overwhelming 26.2 miles. I know I've got to get to 5, and 12, and 16 and then I celebrate those little victories along the way.

Setting short term goals is important. It’s hard to picture your fiftieth anniversary party in year two. Retirement seems a million miles away when the kids are teething. I think all too often in marriage we forget to celebrate the little things. Birthdays, anniversaries, maybe Valentine's day sure, those are expected. I think when we celebrate unexpected victories together though, they more dramatically feed our enthusiasm about being married. From small things to big things, find reasons to celebrate! One of you get a promotion? Have a night on the town together! Find twenty bucks in an old jacket? Go get ice cream! Kid make honor roll? Pay off a debt? Complete a home improvement project? Find a reason to mark all milestones with hugs and kisses, laughter and joy. Then look to the horizon together to identify the next target - and start working towards it.

When you take the time to reconnect at random intervals like this, you remember why you married each other. When spirits are high, it’s easy to see everything you saw in your spouse at the beginning. Also, it will be less likely that emotional drift occurs, years pass and suddenly you and your spouse feel you don’t know each other anymore. These moments of togetherness (and happiness) give you the chance to synchronize your dreams and goals, and the pace at which you are going. Hold hands and run, lock-step into your future.

Monday, March 9, 2015

(Daily) Choice

In the church-wide study that our church did as a congregation last month, the author, Bob Crossman, challenged us to commit - or recommit - ourselves to Christ in six different ways: prayer, reading the Bible, worship, sacrificial giving, witnessing, and service. This call to recommit, or rededicate ourselves is a reminder that having a relationship with Jesus does not happen in an instant. It is not a one-time event. Yes, we are saved when we accept him into our lives, and our sins are forgiven… but our story doesn't end there; it can’t! It takes a lifetime to come to terms with and understand what those things mean. It is the beginning of a new life, the start of a journey. Marriage is the same. There is much to celebrate on the wedding day, as two people make a public and holy vow to spend the rest of their days together, but that is the beginning, not the end. The rest of their lives are spent in understanding the full extent of what they promised to each other.

It is no coincidence that Christ and the church are analogously referred to a bridegroom and bride, and that marriage ceremony imagery is used in Revelation when God and His creation are reconciled and rejoined. Both journeys - individual and savior, and husband and wife - need to be marked by certain disciplines. Both paths need to be chosen day in and day out. Indeed, salvation and marriage are more ways of being, states of mind, than they are events that happen but once. Both require waking up each morning and choosing the path over and over again.

To echo the Crossman study, I’ll suggest six ways that husbands and wives can choose marriage daily. These are areas of your life together that they can focus on in an effort to recommit to a marriage that blesses your spouse and honors God.

Cherish. Your spouse is a gift from God, and needs to be treated as such.
"Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be." Matthew 6:21
“Who can find a virtuous and capable wife? She is more precious than rubies.” Proverbs 31:10
“Like the finest apple tree in the orchard,  is my lover among other young men.” Song of Songs 2:3

Praise. Tell your spouse often why you love them. Sing their praises publicly as well!
“Kind words are like honey— sweet to the soul and healthy for the body.” Proverbs 16:24

Forgive. We are forgiven only as we forgive, so...
"keep no record of wrongs." 1 Corinthians 13:5

Serve. Strive always to out-serve each other in your marriage.
"Whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant" Mark 10:43

Forsake all others. You two are one flesh, after all.
“Rejoice in the wife of your youth. May you ever be intoxicated with her love.” Proverbs 5:18-19
“My beloved is mine, and I am his” Song of Songs 2:16

Work on the preceding five areas, and the sixth will surely follow.
“Faith, hope and love remain. And the greatest of these is love.” 1 Corinthians 13:13
“Love never fails.” 1 Corinthians 13:8

Tuesday, February 10, 2015


When some people enter a room, no one pays any attention. Others though, when they enter a situation people take notice. Conversations pause, eyes follow, even if only briefly. That person is said to have “presence." John Maxwell, author and leadership guru named "most influential person on the planet" by Inc. magazine recently discussed the idea of "presence" in his "Minute with Maxwell" video blog. His conclusion was that presence had more to do with a person's confidence than any other factor. Confidence can come from many places. You can be confident in who you are, you can be confident in your purpose, whether in a specific situation or in general. Knowing your surroundings, being comfortable with a group of people, being familiar with a scenario, these can all lead to confidence. As Christians, we should all strive for the confidence that comes with knowing who we are: children of God! As Paul says in Romans 8:14

For all who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God.

When we know who we are in Him, we are free to stop seeking approval or acceptance from people. In marriage, this knowledge frees us to take pressure off our spouse to validate us or to “complete us.” Those are God’s jobs, and thus are beyond any person to accomplish. If we are seeking that from anyone, including (especially!) the person we married, we have set ourselves up for serious disappointment. This may seem unromantic - after all, it goes against every rom com movie we’ve seen and love song we’ve ever heard. Remember Rose in Titanic, talking about Jack? “He saved me in every way a person can be saved…” When we take the onus of completing us off of our spouses shoulders, they are free to just love us, and we are free to do the same. Little mistakes we make are no longer earth shattering, and when we goof up, their self worth and identity is not adversely affected. We love, we accept, and show grace.

As our relationship with God grows, we should also find confidence in our purpose, for he has put each of us here intentionally. He has bought each of us at a price, and we are not our own. (1 Corinthians 6:19-20)There is work for His kingdom that no one else can do but us. Each of our jobs, though unique, has the same purpose, revealed in Isaiah 44:8

Did I not proclaim my purposes for you long ago? You are my witnesses!

We can rest in that truth, and act accordingly, outside the concern of what anyone else thinks, or how they will react. We can act with confidence.

One of the hallmarks of confidence is enthusiasm. When you know who you are, and are sure what you’re doing is glorifying God and fulfilling His purpose for your life, you tackle those tasks with gusto. You are excited to wake up each day and get to the work He has set before you. Enthusiasm is contagious. In life, people will want to follow you, and will be inspired to seek their own purpose and identity. In marriage, your purpose is loving your spouse unconditionally, and the way they want and need to be loved. Do that enthusiastically, and your spouse may just feel led to reciprocate.

What presence do you bring into your marriage relationship? Consider it. When we know who we are, know our purpose, we do everything for God’s glory. (1 Corinthians 10:31) How might that mindset change how you live out your marriage?

Friday, January 9, 2015


There was an article on the satire website “the Onion” recently, about a (fake) app you could buy for your phone. It would tell you that you ran 5 miles every day, regardless of what you did or didn’t do. It would even knock a few seconds off your time each day, so you could believe you were making strides in fitness and ability!

I read another article on why the vast majority of new year’s resolutions fail. It stated the main reason was because they are nebulous and undefined. “Eat healthier” “exercise more” “procrastinate less” and the like are all well-meaning and sound good, but without being quantifiable they are destined for failure, the good intentions all but sure to be abandoned. It is far too easy to tell yourself you are living up to your goals without doing anything of the sort. That’s the point of the fake app article. In the end, what matters most is action. In James 2:14 it says:

What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if you say you have faith but do not have works?

Resolutions to make your marriage better are no different. If you tell yourself you and your spouse will “argue less” “go on more dates” or “improve intimacy” without defining specifically what those things mean - TO EACH OF YOU - your chances of ending 2015 with a marriage that is markedly different than how you ended 2014 are slim. All resolutions require action if they are to have a positive impact on your life. Goals require action if they are to be reached, or exceeded. Start out thinking about the big picture, the broad strokes with which you want to repaint your life and your marriage, but don’t stop the conversation there! Continue talking with your spouse about how the two of you want to go about reaching your relationship goals.

Want to go on more dates? Great! Discuss specifics; how often, who is in charge of picking the venue, or arranging the baby sitter? Tony and Alisa DiLorenzo of the ONE Extraordinary Marriage blog alternate planning their monthly date nights. This is a great way for both spouses to feel desired, that they are worth the attention, time and effort of the other, and the responsibility is not always on the same person.

Want to improve intimacy? Who doesn’t! What type of intimacy do you each feel is most important to work on? Financial? Attend a Financial Peace class. There’s one coming up! Spiritual? Pick a devotional that you will do as a couple, and commit to praying for each other - and WITH each other - regularly. Talk about what you want your spouse to pray about for you. Physical? Make time to cuddle more, make it a point to hold hands in public, or even dive in to a 7 day (or longer!) sex challenge. In all areas, a frank conversation with your spouse will show you what areas the two of you need to work on. With that knowledge you can, as James 1:22 charges us:

Be doers of the word, and not merely hearers who deceive themselves.

Any of these big goals can seem daunting, especially if you think you have to come up with all the details on your own; luckily, you don’t! There is so much out there in the way of resources. There are plans to read the bible in a year, devotionals for couples, and numerous great books on how to create a better,  more Godly marriage. Search the web, the library… or ask me. I’ve been gathering information for a while now, and would be glad to share what I’ve found.