7 Marriage Secrets from Colossians 3

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The Bible is God’s handbook for marriage. Many verses and passages offer instruction and even commands for husbands and wives. Colossians 3 is such a passage. Prayerfully consider God’s instruction provided through Paul.

Seek God first in your life (not your wife or your marriage) and deliberately set (focus/direct) your mind/thoughts on heavenly things (from His Word).1 If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. 3 For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. 4When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.

Put to death (kill) all forms of sensuality and inappropriate passion.
5 Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. 6 On account of these the wrath of God is coming. 7 In these you too once walked, when you were living in them.

Your tongue, and the words you speak, are powerful. You must also put away (kill) the use of your tongue for hurtful, selfish purposes. Stop arguing, putting others down, cursing and lying.
8 But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth. 9 Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices 10 and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator. 11 Here there is not Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free; but Christ is all, and in all.

In place of #2 and #3 above – put on a heart like Christ’s heart. Only then can you love and forgive someone “as” He does. He will give you the patience, kindness and humility to consider your spouse as “better than yourself” and serve them as Jesus served his bride. 12 Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, 13 bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.

Above everything else you should do – put on (deliberately clothe yourself with) love. Not selfish, conditional love but unselfish, unconditional love like Christ’s. Give yourself away in service to your spouse. Follow Jesus’ example.
14 And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.

Let God’s peace, which lives in you through the Person of the Holy Spirit, rule and reign in your heart – and live every day with a thankful, appreciative heart.
15 And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful.

Devour God’s Word and allow Him to speak into your life daily. When you do, you will grasp how blessed you are to be His child and to have His power and love living in you. He will give you everything you need to enjoy a beautifully fulfilling marriage – one that will bring Him much glory.
16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. 17 And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

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.

 

How to Have an “Okay” Marriage

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My wife and I have counseled and mentored many couples over the years and one thing they all have in common is…. a desire to have a better (more fulfilling) marriage. We have also discovered the bottom line for why most couples fail to experience what they say they want……I think Solomon agreed with us.

Here is my paraphrase of the last 5 verses of Proverbs 24:

 I went past the home of a lazy spouse,
    past the marriage of someone who has no sense;
 problems had come up everywhere,
    the relationship was covered with issues,
    and their spiritual walls of protection were in ruins.

 I applied my heart to what I observed
    and learned a lesson from what I saw:
A little sleep, a little slumber,
    a little folding of the hands to rest—
and unhappiness will come on you like a thief
    and unfulfillment like an armed man.

Everyone who gets married sincerely wants a fulfilling, happy married life. Christian couples pledge to make Christ the center of their relationship and to love, honor and cherish each other in good times and bad…until they are parted by death.

The great majority, however, (myself included) don’t have any idea what it takes to actually fulfill those vows.

Truth is – we work hard to achieve/enjoy many things in life:

  • a healthy body
  • a good income
  • a nice lawn
  • a respectable golf score
  • God-honoring, well-adjusted children

And do any of these just happen? Obviously not. They take effort, hard work and deliberateness on our part. Somehow we find the time and the physical/emotional energy to work hard for things like these that we truly desire.

So, why is it that we hardly lift a finger to enjoy a deeply satisfying, God-glorifying, amazing marriage? See Proverbs 24 above. The answer is really simple (and sad)….

We simply don’t want it badly enough. We settle for an “okay” marriage. We settle for “pretty good compared to….” – because we simply don’t want to work at it.

Our marriage counseling/mentoring is simple – if you’re not willing to put in the work, then you’re wasting our time. God’s word is true and if you “sow sparingly, you WILL reap sparingly”.

We don’t need more knowledge – we need more action.

If you really want a great marriage – you will do whatever it takes to have it – and if you don’t know how, you will ask someone who does to show you.

It’s really that simple.

 

 

 

The #1 Enemy of Your Marriage

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Anyone who has been married longer than a few days will tell you…marriage is hard. Living 24/7/365 with someone of the opposite sex, for decades is extremely hard. I will go out on a limb and even say – “it’s impossible”.

Why? Because there are forces that war against our being happy, complete, fulfilled in our committed relationship. Here are my top 3: (these are actually mentioned often in the New Testament).

1. The World – the world we live in is fallen, without God and marinated in sin. The religion of the world is “to do what you want”, “do what feels good”, and no one should have the right to tell you otherwise. The world tells us there is no God, there are no absolutes (rules, morals) and that this life is all we get. Whatever years you have on this planet should be spent enjoying and fulfilling yourself, because there is nothing after this life.

This philosophy has given birth to seeking a life of pleasure. Everyone loves pleasure and if there are no morals and no God and no afterlife – then why not experience as much of it as possible. The internet and advancements in telecommunications and media have made such seeking so convenient and “private” that you can pursue pleasure from the smartphone in your pocket.

Pornography is rampant among Christian men, and is abducting them at an increasingly younger age (again, thanks to technology). Television and music are saturated with sexual images, innuendo, explicit language and provocation. It is seriously difficult to insulate yourself and your family from the forces of this world that shout to us daily.

2. The Devil – Jesus calls this fallen angel the “prince of the power of the air” and the “god of this world”. If you wonder what (or who) is behind the forces in the world we just mentioned – look no further. Satan’s goal is destruction and his weapons of choice are deception, lies and temptation. His primary and most powerful lie – is that he is not real and that there is not a spiritual war going on in our lives, our marriages and homes and in the world around us every day. If we fall for that lie (and most of the world has), then we will remain dumbfounded at the chaos around us and try our best to deal with the seemingly constant barrage of “bad luck” or “circumstances” that seem to plague us.

From Genesis to Revelation, the Bible is full of history and truth regarding our spiritual foe. More on this – From the Garden of Eden until he is cast into the lake of fire by Jesus, Satan will be hell-bent on destroying our lives, our marriages, our children and families, our reputation and our heritage. While a formidable threat, Jesus clearly tells us that we have been given “authority over all the power of the enemy” (Luke 10:19), and have superior armor and weapons with which to win the battles we face. See 2 Corinthians 10:3-5 and       Ephesians 6.

1. You. – Did you think I was going to say “your spouse”? Nope. He/she is not the problem, and never truly the #1 problem. The #1 enemy of your marriage is none other than yours truly. Selfishness is the primary killer of marriages and families in our culture. We are born selfish and even as a Christian, we wake every morning with our mind focused on ourselves and our agendas. You see, we get to choose (just like Adam and Eve) whether we will accept God and His Word as the controlling influence of our life, or turn our back on Him and live life on our own terms, our own way. Will we follow our Creator God, or seek to be the god of our own destiny?

Many a Christian has professed faith in Jesus Christ, has attended church on a regular basis, has read the Bible and taught Sunday School – only to fall for the temptations of the world and the devil…because they chose to. The devil doesn’t make anyone “do” it…we decide to sin. We decide to watch, to listen, to flirt with sin and we are no match for the dark side when we do. We think we can “have our cake and eat it too” – but that too – is a lie.

Read the gospels and the Book of John and see for yourself how desperately Jesus lived. He modeled for us what a life surrendered to the Father looked like. He didn’t have supernatural powers that we don’t have. That would have been unfair for us to try to emulate. He lived in a state of daily desperation. Desperate to hear His Father’s voice, to seek His wisdom and direction, and to obey what He said.

That is what He asks of us. We will never have the life we desire or the marriage we are created to enjoy, until we learn to walk the same way. Jesus said “without Him we can do….nothing”. Don’t fall for the lies anymore….. seek Him tomorrow, listen to Him and do what He tells you.

Then, do it again the next day.

 

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

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