What is God’s Standard for Marriage

 

Happy Couple

There are so many Bible verses directed at husbands and wives, it is easy to get overwhelmed and throw your hands up in defeat – “How can I do all of this”, “Why does it have to be so hard?”

Yes, there are dozens of verses and several entire passages directed at marriage and relationships in general – but there is one verse that supersedes  them all. This verse trumps all other verses and actually lays the foundation upon which all the other verses are built.

We are all familiar with the 10 Commandments given to Moses by God in Exodus Chapter 20, but we may not be as familiar with the 11th commandment given by Jesus in John 13:34…

A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another.

Yes, you may have heard that one before – but I want to draw your attention to five words that make all the difference…. “as I have loved you”. Jesus commands us to love one another (especially our most significant “one another”) in the same way he loved/loves us.

How does he love us? This answer you should know also….. unconditionally, unselfishly, completely. There is nothing we can do to make him love us any more than he already does, and nothing we can do make him love us less. He loves us….period.  We don’t deserve it; we didn’t earn it; we didn’t love him first; and he will never, ever stop.

We are called, even commanded, to love our spouse in the same way Jesus loved/loves us. If we decide to ignore or simply disobey Christ’s command – we cannot expect him to bless our marriage.

If we choose to obey his command, the next question we must ask is…how?

How exactly do we love our spouse in the same way He loves us? Let’s tackle that one next blog…..

Rob

3 Things to Never Do When You Disagree

 

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We all disagree. When a disagreement happens, the last thing you really want to do…is have it escalate into an argument. So…don’t do any of these……

Start an argument – all married couples disagree on things. This is normal. What is not normal and not Biblical, is to allow these disagreements to escalate into arguments. Arguing involves raising voices, threatening body language, anger, and harsh words – but above all, arguing involves selfishness. We argue typically because we think we’re right, or won’t bend on our demands or expectations (see James 4). So, if you find yourself in a disagreement, or should I say “when” you find yourself in a disagreement, take the time to pray together before things have a chance to escalate. Simply grab each other’s hand and ask God for direction and wisdom as you discuss the issue at hand. You will be surprised how many issues never escalate into arguments again, and also how much closer you will feel as a couple.

Assume you are right – we all have a tendency to assume we are right. Whether we’re driving, or playing or embroiled in a conversation – our way is the “best” way by default. We are born selfish and it really shows when someone challenges us or disagrees with us. As was mentioned in point #1, because of this natural bent, we dig in our heels and fight for what is “right”. It takes a real man/woman of character and maturity to have the courage to set their way aside and honestly listen and consider another person’s feelings, insights and desires. Remember – God put the two of you together to be “one” and to work together as a team to glorify Him in your relationship. Sometimes you will actually be right. Sometimes your spouse will have a way that will work better than yours. We have to be mature enough to work together and embrace each other’s opinions and feelings in order to make progress on our journey.

Walk away – when confronted with a differing opinion or challenging point of view, some of us have a tendency to simply walk away. We tell ourselves that our retreat is going to help matters by diffusing the situation and that somehow by avoiding the issue it might magically go away. Problem is – it never does. If your spouse is having a problem, or wants to talk through a troubling issue, he or she will only be exasperated by you avoiding it. This is never the answer. Even if you are a peacemaker or a harmonizer personality, you have to have the courage to hear out your spouse, accept their viewpoint as what they really think and feel – and then, in love, respond. Again, the goal is not to be right. The goal is oneness, harmony and the glory of God.

Arguing doesn’t ever solve anything. Arguing inflames. Arguing separates. Arguing damages. And arguing does not glorify God.

The only way to avoid arguing is to walk in the Spirit. A sure sign of not walking in the Spirit – is finding yourself arguing. When that happens – take the opportunity to reconnect with God before re-engaging with your spouse. What is at stake is not the problem at hand, but your personal walk with Him. Always look vertically before your look horizontally at your spouse. He/she is not the problem.

Keep these scriptures in mind when you are tempted to fight for your rights during your next disagreement….

So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. Galatians 5:16

Starting a quarrel (argument) is like breaching a dam; so drop the matter before a dispute breaks out. Proverbs 17:14

God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.  I Peter 5:5

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Galatians 5:22-23

 

Rob

The Top 3 Ways to Love Your Wife

 

An attractive young couple read the Bible in bed

The Bible says much about loving our spouse. Yes, this goes both ways, but God has some specific commandments for husbands. These are not “holy suggestions” as we will be accountable to Him for how well we did them.

1. Love your wife “as Christ loved the church (his bride) and gave himself up for her”. Most of us are very familiar with this passage from Ephesians 5:25, but the question is….do we actually understand what this means and do we do it?

Simply put – how did Christ love His bride? Answer? He loved her to death…he died. He gave everything up for her: his daily agenda, his comforts, his desires, – his very life. He volunteered for this assignment. He initiated. He subjected himself to a frail human body, was tempted, ministered long hours to people who never really understood him. At a young age he was unjustly accused, sentenced and suffered an agonizing death – why? Because he loved his bride (us) too much to let her suffer God’s wrath and live eternally separated from Him. We are called to love our wife – to death.

2. “Sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish”.  (Eph. 5:26-27)

We are called to sanctify or “set her apart” and protect her from being stained, spotted and wrinkled by the evil, fallen world we live in together. It is our great responsibility to pray for her, read God’s Word with her and encourage her to thrive in the gifting she has been given by God. We are to fight the enemy on her behalf. We are to keep her eyes and ears from seeing/hearing/experiencing evil , harmful things that would “stain” her. She is God’s precious daughter and we are to treat her as such.

God places us as the “head” of the home not to be the king or the bully, but to be the servant leader. We are to follow His example by humbling ourselves, putting her needs ahead of our own – and laying our life down for her. We are to protect and defend her, love and pray for her – like He does us.

3. Love your wife “as your own body” (Eph. 5:28). This verse reminds us that we are to “nourish and cherish” her in the same way we nourish and cherish our own bodies. Think about it – we treat ourselves pretty well. We eat when we’re hungry. We indulge our appetites for food, entertainment, adventure and pleasure. It comes very naturally that we think about and pamper ourselves above everyone else. We don’t have to be taught to be selfish (self-focused). When our body is tired – we rest. When we are hungry – we eat. We don’t like to deny ourselves.

What then does Jesus mean when he tells us to love our wife like this? Basically, he is calling us to a very high standard. He is calling us to put her needs, desires, agenda ahead of our own. He is telling us that her life and her needs should come first – in the same way we currently put our own first.

The commandments to husbands are not meant to frustrate or exasperate us. It is easy to see that they are impossible to obey without help – His help. That is why we are first called in Ephesians 5:18 to “be filled with the Spirit” because it is impossible to love our wife “as Christ loved the church” without His life living and loving in and through us.

Marriage was never intended to be lived apart from God. It is only as we walk with Him (every day) that we will ever experience marriage as it was created and intended by Him.

 

The One Thing – You Can Do to Improve Your Marriage

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On September 25th,  1942, Jewish physician Victor Frankl, his wife, and parents were deported to the Nazi Theresienstadt Ghetto. Two years later Frankl and his wife Tilly were transported to the Auschwitz concentration camp, where he was processed. He was moved to Kaufering, a Nazi concentration camp affiliated with Dachau concentration camp, where he arrived on 25 October 1944. There he was to spend five months working as a slave laborer. In March 1945, he was offered a move to the so-called rest-camp, Türkheim, also affiliated with Dachau. He decided to go to Türkheim, where he worked as a physician until 27 April 1945, when Frankl was liberated by the Americans.

Meanwhile, his wife Tilly was transferred from Auschwitz to the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp, where she died. Frankl’s mother Elsa was killed by the Nazis in the gas chambers of Auschwitz, and his brother Walter died working in a mining operation that was part of Auschwitz.

How does anyone survive such an ordeal? When asked this same question years after his imprisonment, Frankl replied –

“The one thing you can’t take away from me is the way I choose to respond to what you do to me. The last of one’s freedoms is to choose ones attitude in any given circumstance.”

How do any of us survive hard times? What about hard times in our marriage? For many of us, including myself, we just stuff our feelings deep inside our soul and hope for the best. For others, they can’t/won’t tolerate hard times, so they leave. They try to avoid them by running away.

What if we practiced the secret that Frankl, and countless others, have relied upon to get them through – adjusting our attitude. Do you want to know what God says is the secret to not only surviving hard times, but enjoying a marriage relationship like it was intended to be enjoyed? Sure you do…..

“Let Christ himself be your example as to what your attitude should be. For he, who had always been God by nature, did not cling to his prerogatives as God’s equal, but stripped himself of all privilege by consenting to be a slave by nature and being born as mortal man. And, having become man, he humbled himself by living a life of utter obedience, even to the extent of dying, and the death he died was the death of a common criminal.” Phil.2:5-8

Jesus chose to humble himself and become a servant. Even when we didn’t deserve it (and still don’t) or appreciate it. He volunteered; he initiated; he scarified himself on behalf of his bride.

What about you? What about me? Is that our attitude when it comes to loving (verb) our bride? Are we ready to lay our lives down, to humble ourselves, to sacrifice anything – all for our bride – for our marriage. And all without ever demanding anything in return or any performance from our wife?

Well, that is what the Bible clearly says is the key….having the same attitude as Jesus. Remember Victor Frankl – no one else is responsible for your attitude; no one else can take it away. We (you and me) are responsible for ours. Is it like Christ’s?

Willing to die…..

Rob

Don’t Be “This” Spouse….

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Proverbs 21 mentions twice that it is better for a husband to “live in a corner of the housetop” or “live in a desert land” than to live in a home with a contentious woman. Proverbs 25 mentions again the “live in a corner of the housetop” idea.

A contentious woman is like a “continual dripping on a rainy day” says Proverbs 27:15.

It is plain to see God recognizes that a man would rather live alone, in the corner of his attic or in a desert wasteland, than have to endure a wife who continually complains and quarrels. Interestingly, the Bible even says “it is better” for him to live that way.

Proverbs 26:21 talks about a contentious man who continues to sow strife by stirring up coals that are trying to cool off and burn out. He is like someone “who keeps adding wood to a fire” instead of letting it die.

I don’t think any spouse desires to live with someone who enjoys quarreling and continually nags, complains and whines; or won’t let an issue die but keeps adding wood to the fire and stirring up strife at home. The picture that sticks in my mind is of that spouse who can never make his/her spouse happy; who never gets it right; who just can’t win. How exasperating!

So, the obvious question is – are you like this? The dictionary defines “quarrelsome” as – someone likely to cause disagreement or argument or someone with a wearisome tendency to quarrels and disputes. Do you have a tendency to pick a fight (argument)? Do you lose your temper easily or have a tendency to argue or nag?

What about completing your spouse’s sentences, or interrupting them in order to say what you want to say – or always correcting your spouse when they tell part of a story inaccurately?

Here is an idea that will help you decide if you qualify and should therefore get serious about changing your attitude and behavior…. sit down with your spouse and ask him/her a simple question – Am I a contentious spouse? If they look confused, add further clarity – do you think I am argumentative? Am I quarrelsome?

You obviously have to be man/woman enough to NOT ARGUE with your spouse if they say you are this person. That won’t help a bit. You should be willing to 1. humble yourself, 2. sincerely apologize for such behavior, and 3. ask for forgiveness.

According to our Bible, the only way to stop being this person and start being the opposite is – to “walk in the Spirit”. That is a deliberate lifestyle, a daily choice you and I have to make. But if we do, we will find our marriage improves significantly and our life as well.

Why not start today?

Rob

How to Make Love to Your Wife – Part 1

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Making love. What a familiar phrase in our society. For some, it means simply hooking up, having sex. For others, it means much more.

I contend that it means much more to your wife. Have you ever asked her to define what “making love” means to her? If you never do, how will you know you are actually doing it….or is it simply enough for you to have sex?

Your wife (as well as yourself) is created by God as a three-part being. She has a spirit, a soul and a body. Most men (because we are wired differently – by design) tend to naturally focus on the physical when the topic of “making love” comes up. Men’s magazines are filled with articles on techniques, tips and positions all intended to make the experience much more pleasurable physically.

In this 3-part series, I will attempt to explain how a husband might go about making love to his wife in all three arenas of her being – beginning with her spirit.

The spirit or essence of your wife is truly who she is at her core. She is so much more than a body. Her body is simply God’s designed shell for containing (for a short lifetime) her physical body – but if you have ever seen a dead person you quickly come to realize that he/she is not there – that their body is simply a shell, a covering for their true self.

So, in order to make love to your wife spiritually, we much approach her on a spiritual level. This is why if you are not a believer, or a believer who isn’t walking in the Spirit (see Gal:5), it is impossible to make love at this level. Approaching her spiritually means reaching out to set her needs on that level.

Ephesians 5 says that we (husbands) are to wash our wives with “the water by the Word”. We are to speak the Word of God over her, pray the Word of God over her and read that same Word with her. God’s Word is power, and that power will unite your spirits as you spend time together in it. It is not enough to attend church (even though very important), or even a small group meeting together. You must deliberately set aside time together to read and discuss God’s Word.

Probably the most powerful thing a husband can do to make love spiritually with his wife is pray. Pray for her, as Christ continues to do for his bride (us), but also pray “with” her. The thing that most husbands find the hardest to do is the most powerful tool God will use to unite your hearts like nothing else. Our enemy knows that as well, and that is why he is hell-bent on keeping husbands and wives from it.

Making love means making time. Making time to talk about your walk with God, read His Word and especially to pray will promote an atmosphere of oneness in your marriage that will be profound. It will also keep the two of you relating on a spiritual level when the trials/troubles of life follow you home.

Remember – Galatians 5:16 says if we “walk in the Spirit, we will not gratify the lusts of the flesh”, which are: sexual immorality, impurity, lustful pleasures,  idolatry, sorcery, hostility, quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambition, dissension and division.

Most marriage issues are caused by one or both spouses simply not walking with God. Without His help, without His Spirit living in and through us, we are doomed to live in our flesh and continue to struggle in our marriage.

Guys – become a spiritual man. Walk with God every single day. Surrender to His will, devour His Word and ask Him for divine help and power to put your wife’s needs ahead of your own. Remember, we are commanded to love her “as Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her”. Are you living like that?Are you loving her like that?

If not, we need to repent. Ask God and our wife to forgive us and determine to live deliberately and sacrificially for His glory. Horizontal issues are solved by living vertically.

Start today.

Rob

The Delights of Your Heart

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What do you delight in….really? Think about the word “delight”. The question is not, what do you like, or even what do you love – but what do you “delight in”.

The dictionary defines “delight” as “something that makes you very happy and/or gives you great pleasure or satisfaction“.

Now, think about the question again. You love your spouse, but does he/she “bring you great joy, happiness or pleasure”? Your kids? Your work? Your ministry? What in your life brings you the most pure joy or pleasure?

It’s easy for me to name a couple: my wife of nearly 40 years continues to bring me much delight, and my three sons have filled my heart with delight since they were born. Nothing could haven delighted me more than being the husband of my great wife and the father of three amazing boys. I have been truly blessed.

I am humbled and convicted though when I read the words of David and how many times he says how he delights in God’s commandments, and in His Word. Psalms is full of David’s professions. Do I delight in God’s Word like that? Does it “bring me great joy, happiness and pleasure“?

What about delighting in God Himself? Do I even do that, or am I just going through the motions and trying to be a good boy so God won’t punish me somehow? Am I being religious, or truly enjoying a relationship with my heavenly Father?

Psalm 37:4 says if I will delight myself in the Lord, He will give me the desires of my heart. So, why wouldn’t I want to do that?

But do I even know what delighting in God looks like? How do I do that?

The best I can come up with is to compare it to something or someone I have delighted in in the my past. When I was seriously dating my wife, we would talk often during the day. I would think about her constantly. I would count the minutes until we could be together again. I couldn’t take my eyes off of her when we were in the same room. I was captivated by her.

So, do I love Christ that much? Do I run to meet Him in the morning, or eagerly engage Him in conversation throughout the day? Am I hungry to hear His voice and simply be in His presence?

The honest answer for me was …no. For some reason I had bought into the lie that He was upset with me over my past sins and that I needed to work harder to get on his “good list”.

Thankfully, God has shown me over these last few years that I do NOT have to perform or tap-dance  to win His approval or love. He loves me – period, and there is nothing I can do to make Him love me any more, or any less. What freedom this has brought to my relationship with Him. I pray the same for you.

You are loved; completely, unconditionally and irregardless of your performance. You will never deserve it, and can never earn it. You just have to accept it, appreciate it, and walk in it. Your life will never be the same.

You know what God delights in?

but the prayer of the upright is his delight. Prov. 15:8

He delights in talking with you, in hearing your voice, in sharing your heart. You and I are His delight, and we desperately need to embrace this truth….and learn to make Him our delight as well.

Rob

3 Ways to Stop Arguing with Each Other

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Amos 3:3 asks the question,  “Can two walk together unless they are agreed?” The implied response is, “no”. It is very difficult, and not very fun, to walk with someone you are continually disagreeing with.

What most couples end up doing if they disagree over money, the kids, hobbies, etc. – is argue. They get frustrated; that leads to getting angry; and so they fight, say things they shouldn’t say, hurt each other’s feelings, retreat, sulk, and walk on egg shells for days (or longer). Others get angry and simply stuff it. They avoid the difficult conversations; they don’t like confrontation; so they swallow it and hope it will go away…..but we all know it doesn’t. So, eventually those feelings of hurt and resentment resurface and things are even worse.

So, how do we keep from getting to this awful place?

1. Decide that arguing/fighting is not Biblical and you will not go there anymore. God says we argue because we’re selfish and we’re not obeying His word. Galatians reminds us that if we are walking in the Spirit we will produce fruit in our lives….and arguing/fighting is not on the list. Jesus also commands us to love each other “as he loves us”, and that means sacrificially and unconditionally. So, stop being a spoiled kid, stomping your foot and pouting when you don’t get your way.

2. Allow your spouse to complain without losing your temper, getting your feelings hurt or retaliating. Jesus loves us when we mess up, don’t do things right, or treat him unkindly. He requires the same from us. We must allow our spouse the grace and freedom to come to us and share their heart. If they have a complaint or hurt, we need to be man enough (or woman enough) to listen with grace and respond appropriately (i.e.: say we are sorry, ask for forgiveness, pray together, etc.). Your relationship is far more important than proving your innocence or that you are right all the time.

3. Make it a priority to go on an annual marriage retreat. Instead of disagreeing or battling all year long, schedule a weekend retreat together to discuss the “state of your union”. Enjoy yourselves during most of that time; have fun; relax – but schedule some time to pray, then sit together and decide you will come to agreement on the key issues you have agued about in the past – kids, money, sex, hobbies, etc. Write all this down so you can refer back to it during the year and remember that you agreed together, and what you agreed to. Pray over every decision and commit it to God and ask for His help to live accordingly.

Finally – remember neither of you will be perfect at this (or anything for that matter), so don’t expect perfection. Be deliberate about keeping your end of the bargain and choose daily to walk with Christ and agree with him when he said “without me you can do nothing” (John 15:5). Selfishness is marriage’s #1 enemy. It is our nature to look out for ourselves and defend ourselves. If you choose to “walk in the Spirit” (Gal. 5) – you will find you will stop arguing and clinging to your rights, and learn to love each other “as He loves us”.

Don’t argue…walk with Him…and love each other.

Rob