Tag Archive | Biblical marriage

No More Perfect Marriages

God Specializes in Restoration

Mark and Jill had been married for 25 years and had five children. He was a pastor, and she led a well-known women’s ministry. Together, they spoke on marriage and parenting.

But then he had an affair, left the home, and asked for a divorce.

restoration

However, God intervened and fully restored Mark and Jill’s marriage. In the process, they learned what had sabotaged their relationship and how they could more effectively strengthen their marriage. They share their new insights in a very practical book, No More Perfect Marriages: Experience the Freedom of Being Real Together.¹

restoration

Being Real

“Being real” is something Mark and Jill Savage do well in this book. They are real not only with one another, but also with their readers. I appreciate the authors’ openness and honesty.

Not only do they say, “Here are some things that happened in our marriage,” but they go beyond that: Mark says, “Here is some of the junk that was going on in my heart,” and Jill says, “Here is some of the junk that was going on in my heart.” Those insights are critical because until we look at our own hearts as husbands and wives, we are dealing with only surface issues in our marriages.

The truths in this book are important for all of us—whether our marriage is great, struggling, or broken—because being diligent in guarding the thoughts and motives of our heart is always the most important thing we do. One of the best things we can do for our marriages is to recognize and take responsibility for our self-talk and inner motivations.

Accepting One Another

And here is something that I love about this book: there is a consistent theme of accepting one another. That is what God does for us; He accepts us with warm welcome.

Jill explains the value of acceptance:

Acceptance has helped me honor my husband. It’s helped me celebrate who he is. … I’m not his mom. … I’m not his teacher. … I’m his wife, and acceptance has helped me to link arms with the man I love in order to walk through life together. (72)

Mark also recognized the need for acceptance:

I realized I wasn’t accepting Jill for who she is. Instead, I was working against her, trying to change her into what was easier and more comfortable for me. I was working to make her into who I wanted her to be. (72)

Fighting the Fades

The thesis of the book is that there are seven “fades” which gradually erode marriages, but there are also eight God-given tools which overcome those fades. Do you recognize any of these fades?

  1. failing to deal with unrealistic expectations
  2. minimizing your feelings or those of your spouse
  3. not accepting your spouse
  4. reacting to disagreement in damaging ways
  5. defensiveness
  6. being naïve and failing to protect your marriage
  7. avoiding emotion

Using God’s Tools

To counter the fades, God gives us eight powerful tools: courage, forgiveness, grace, love, humility, wisdom, compassion, and acceptance.

Doing things God’s way isn’t always the easiest thing to do, but it is always the right thing to do. Courage is not the absence of fear; it is determining [that] something is more important than the fear. (48)

We act courageously in marriage when we persevere rather than quit. When we act with integrity rather than letting our feelings control us. … When we talk rather than shut down. When we apologize even if we aren’t the only one wrong. … Get your courage on and push through those fears for the sake of your marriage. (51-52)

When thinking through whether something needs forgiveness or grace, ask yourself these two questions:

1) Does this hurt me or just irritate me?

2) Does this need to be corrected or simply accepted as part of being married to an imperfect person? (56-57)

Let’s be aware of the fades, and let’s keep using our tools! The Spirit of God will help us to recognize and repent of the junk in our own hearts, and He will give us new attitudes, new thoughts, and new motivations. God works miracles and masterpieces in every heart and home lifted up to Him.

You Will Not Want to Miss This:  A Prayer Call with Mark and Jill

Be sure to join us on April 20.

I am excited that Mark and Jill will be joining us on our weekly call. They will share some insights and encouragement for several minutes before leading us in prayer for our marriages.

Join the prayer call online or by phone. Click HERE to learn how. (It’s easy, and you will be in listen-only mode.)

A Book Give-Away

Interested in receiving a copy of No More Perfect Marriages? If so, just let me know with a comment on this post by APRIL 5.  Moody Publishers will mail a complimentary copy to one person, randomly chosen.

Blessings to you!
Tami

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¹Chicago: Moody Publishers, 2017.

Marriage: Holy is Happy

You may have heard the question before:

Did God design marriage to make us happy or to make us holy?

holy

My answer would be, “Yes, He did!”

Let me explain.

We tend to think of holiness as something that has to do with being good, staying in line, and doing the right things. But when we understand principles of covenant, we realize that “keeping all the rules” is an inadequate description of holiness.

Holiness is the essence of a fully honored relationship. Holiness is a covenant term which describes both the complete, undefiled union of marriage, as well as the complete, undefiled union of the Godhead.

AS GOD DESIGNED IT, MARRIAGE IS HOLINESS.

In Hebrew, the word traditionally used for marriage derives from the word for holiness.

Many Christians understand that holiness means being “set apart,” and they think about being set apart from sinful behaviors. But that is like saying that marriage is about giving up old romantic friendships. “No more girlfriends or boyfriends” is a starting point, but it is not the main point.

Holiness is being “set apart from” in order to be “set apart FOR.”

God took the Hebrew slaves out of Egypt, yes; but the goal was to get them into the Promised Land. Holiness is about far more than what we don’t have in our lives; it is also about what we do have in our lives. In marriage, we set ourselves apart from old boyfriends or girlfriends so that we can be set apart for our spouses.

Holiness means cutting out what does not belong in a relationship so that we can be devoted to what does belong.

Holiness is the “belonging” that is created within a covenant relationship. In the covenant of marriage, holiness is a man committing himself to belong to a woman as her husband, and it is a woman committing herself to belong to a man as his wife. The marital relationship belongs to them.

When everything that belongs within the marriage is present in the marriage, and when nothing that does not belong is not present, then there is holiness in that marriage. And sheltered within that holiness is a core of pleasure, as covenant partners delight in one another.

(Click HERE to continue reading.)

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Join the prayer call today!

Be sure to join us TODAY (Thursday, August 25) as I will be interviewing Jennifer Strickland on our weekly prayer call. Jennifer is the author of several books, including More Beautiful Than You Know, Beautiful Lies, Girl Perfect, and most recently, 21 Myths …. About Sex. (You can read more about that book HERE.)


During the 15-minute call, I will be asking Jennifer these questions:

  • How does body image affect marriage? What are the truths that we need in order to shape our thoughts in this area correctly?
  • What suggestions do you have for someone dealing with a spouse’s porn addiction?

Then Jennifer will lead us in praying for our marriages. Join us! We “fight on our knees” for marriages and families every Thursday at 12:30 (Eastern time).  You can join by phone or online. Here’s how:

Simply click HERE to join us online,
or call 1-323-920-0091 to join us by phone.
When prompted, enter the access code 022 5211#.

Callers are in “listen-only” mode, so don’t worry about the background noise around you. All the information can also be found HERE.

If you aren’t able to join the call live, you can always view any of the recordings HERE.

Praying with you and for you,
Tami

21 Myths about Sex

I really didn’t expect this.

I recently read an advance copy of 21 Myths (Even Good) Girls Believe about Sex: Pursuing Love with Passion and Truth.

sex

I thought I might find some good nuggets of truth to share. I expected to find things that were

  • helpful,
  • factual,
  • Biblical, and
  • much-needed.

I found that.

But I also found much that was

  • beautiful.

Yes, there were warnings, cautions, and facts. But all of it was laid on a canvas of understanding that was beautiful.

The author, Jennifer Strickland, understands that sex is much more than chemical reactions. God designed physical intimacy both to express and to strengthen a covenant relationship. Jennifer also understands that even with the brokenness that we bring to our marriages, there is something lovely and valuable at the core of who we are and at the core of what our marriages represent.

Here is some of the “beautiful”:

Love lifts another higher.

[Jesus] came as a servant, … loving in a manner that left the other person higher. Our need for a Savior mattered more to Him than how He felt. Our need came first to Jesus. (249)

We women are prone to complain about the men we love, that what they provide is not enough; we want more—as if [husbands] are God.  But surely, to love is to know the difference between a man and his Maker; to turn the palm up and let go; to trust that all that falls into our hands is a gift. Love says thank you for the manna, resides in today, and believes His faithfulness will be there tomorrow. (243)

To love is to thank, to bow low, to lift another higher. To believe in your beloved. Wait. Put trust in God. Surrender. … And to be kind. (243)

Love is patient.

In marriage we must be patient. … There will be things the prince does not do well and things you do not know he needs. There will be messes and confusion and fights, … the “not enough” of who you are, the lack—and the more you fill the lack with lack, the darker your heart will become. … The lack has to be filled with Christ, always. (244-245)

Love is kind.

Words can blast the kindness right off the walls…. (246)

Pride … is the biggest destroyer of love. … Humility says, “I respect your needs and desires. I want to hear your heart so that I can bless you. I want to know you and respect you deeply. What you think and experience is more important to me than how I feel right now. How can I help you?” (249)

Love never fails.

No [spouse] is perfect, but love can be. (250)

The worst times have been the times when I have expected [my husband] to be God and trusted in man instead of Christ. (250)

sex

The best times have been when I have raised my hands upward and let God be the artist painting the canvas of our future and rested in the Creator’s hands. (251)

We have a true Prince who is coming back for us one day, who loves us perfectly, without fail. The best thing we can do is lean in and listen for His still, small voice. Listen well. Love much. Fear nothing. Believe for more. (251)

Some of the Myths about Sex

The real battle in life is always to know and believe truth. As we recognize the lies that we are believing, we replace them with truth.

Here are several of the lies that are exposed in 21 Myths and the truth that replaces them:

Myth (or lie): If I’ve already been sexually active, it’s too late for me to be pure.
Truth: Forgiveness purifies you.

Myth: Abortion is the removal of unwanted tissue.
Truth: Abortion may cause trauma to the soul.

Myth: The body and soul are separate.
Truth: The body and soul are connected.

Myth: Being sexually active won’t hurt me.
Truth: Anything outside of God’s best for you hurts.

Myth: Casual sex is possible.
Truth: Sex is not casual; sex is binding.

Myth: Singleness is waiting for marriage.
Truth: Both singleness and marriage can be awesome.

These are important truths to know! I am thankful that our God shares with us the truth that sets us free, that heals us, and that enables us to enjoy Him and the lavish love that He has for us.

Book Giveaway

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Barbour Publishing is providing a complimentary copy of 21 Myths. If you would like a chance to receive the book, simply leave a comment on this post by July 2. If your name is chosen in the random drawing, a copy will be mailed directly to you.

Blessings to you,
Tami

An Open Letter

 … to a Hurting Husband

husband

I know that you are hurting in your marriage. And I realize that it might seem easier to just walk away.

But you haven’t.

I commend you for that because God doesn’t walk away from His covenant partner, either.

Take hope!

Although there has been pain in your marriage, you can have immense hope in the unfailing goodness of God. As you seek to honor God in your marriage, you can be confident that God will enable you to do that. The Scriptures give this encouragement to you:

Do not be discouraged, and do not be dismayed, for the LORD your God fights for you.

God’s heart is for you. He is for healing. God has obligated Himself to act on behalf of those who are in covenant with Him.

Author and pastor Dave Harvey says,

God is completely, totally, enthusiastically supportive of your every effort to build a strong, God-glorifying marriage.

You can succeed.

You are able to succeed powerfully as a husband. God has created your spirit for strength and for greatness. Regardless of your wife’s actions, you can excel as a husband through your commitment and devotion to her.

This success as a husband is rooted in your commitment to God. It is not based on your wife’s reaction or behavior.

Marriage is not something you wrestle out with your wife; marriage is something you wrestle out with God, just as Jacob did at the Jabbok River. Wrestle until you are able to submit to the blessing.

You succeed as a husband as you remember your pledge before God in the presence of witnesses to love this woman and to be faithful to her “till death do you part.” You remember that you made a sacred vow; and by the enabling of the Spirit of God Himself, you stand with strength to fulfill that pledge.

You commit to fulfill your solemn oath with honor and with integrity, regardless of the cost, because mighty men of God choose to act as God Himself acts. As bearers of His image, godly men uphold covenant promises as God does: with steadfast faithfulness, unintimidated by the threat of loss and undeterred by the pain of sacrifice.

You succeed as a man of strength and greatness when you say to your wife:

I am completely committed to you.

I am devoted to you and to you alone. I have no “back-up” plans.

Even if you reject me, ….

(Click HERE to continue reading.)

Blessings to you,
Tami

Soulmates, Singles, and Marriage

What Singles Need to Know about Marriage

singles

Last week, I was privileged to guest blog on Kristen Hogrefe’s fantastic website, ThinkTrueThoughts, where I shared several “true thoughts” about marriage:

  1. Marriage is a profound revealer of spiritual truth.
  2. You can have a great impact on others in the area of marriage.
  3. Purity is a valuable gift to yourself.

Three More Marriage Truths for Singles

This week, I am honored to continue the discussion on ThinkTrueThoughts. This second part answers three questions:

Will marriage make me feel complete?
Will marriage cure my loneliness?
Will marriage provide a soulmate who will make me happy?

Click HERE to continue reading.

Blessings to you,
Tami

Singles and Marriage

On her excellent website ThinkTrueThoughts, Kristen Hogrefe encourages her readers to do just that! Is there anything more important than thinking true thoughts? Believing truth is what brings joy, inner health, and successful living.

This week and next, I am honored to be a guest blogger on Kristen’s site as I share some true thoughts for singles about marriage:

Why should singles care about the topic of marriage?

singles

If marriage is not on your radar or even on your wish list, you may think that the subject is not relevant for you right now. But regardless of your marital status, you will benefit from understanding the divine design for marriage.

Here are six important things to know about marriage.

#1. Marriage is a profound revealer of spiritual truths.

When we look at the universe, we know that there is a God. And when we look at marriage, we learn who this God is. The created world reveals the existence of God, but marriage reveals the nature and character of God. We learn that He is a God of relationship and that He is loyal and loving.

In the Scriptures, God makes a stunning claim:

For your Creator will be your husband.
(Isaiah 54:5, NLT)

God will be our husband? What does that mean?

 

This Husband Wants to Encourage Marriages

The Seven Rings of Marriage is a new book by a new author. Jackie Bledsoe has a sincere passion to share what he’s learning in his marriage to encourage others in their marriages. His fervency is the strength of this book.

Seven Rings

The High Value of Marriage

I greatly appreciate the high value that Jackie puts on marriage. This treasuring of marriage reflects the heart of God, and it is something we jettison to our own loss.

Jackie excels in speaking directly to other husbands. His style is that of a friend who is urging his buddies on and sharing advice from his own life. With an earnest voice, he maintains an unwavering focus on strengthening marriages.

Champion Husbands

Jackie does a great job of calling husbands to be heroes in their marriages. He says that he learned from Kevin Bullard that “[o]ne of the root meanings of the Hebrew word husband actually means ‘champion.’” Speaking to husbands, Jackie explains that God wants men to be champions in the way they love their wives:

“As the champion in our marriages, we have a twofold role: (1) defeat our rivals, and (2) fight on the behalf of our wives. We do this by caring and feeding her spiritually while we advance together against the enemies of our union.”

He concedes that this “won’t always be easy or even always enjoyable. But the person we are fighting for and with is worth anything we have to go through on the way.” (page 31)

Jackie is a list-maker. He includes lists of how to be a happy husband, how marriage counseling can help your marriage, 25 fun date-night ideas, why you must attend marriage retreats, habits that create unbreakable marriages, and many more. Here are two of his lists:

How to Restore Friendship in Your Marriage:

  • Go back to basics. (Show kindness and respect.)
  • Stop saying yes to everybody else.
  • Get desperate about date nights.
  • Talk, talk, and talk some more.
  • Prioritize your friendship. (121-122)

Image courtesy of Ambro at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

How to Enrich Your Prayer Time with Your Spouse:

  • Choose a time but be flexible.
  • Pray alone before praying together.
  • Thank God and praise Him for your spouse.
  • Use Scripture for your prayers.
  • Write a prayer and read it.
  • Start short.
  • Show some affection. (46-47)

The Model Husband

Here is some further advice from Jackie:

“Do you really want to love your wife and prosper in your marriage? The solution is simple. Do what Jesus did.

“Jesus loved His bride. … He gave up what was most important for Him when it conflicted with what was best for her, the church. Jesus made the ultimate sacrifice, His life. His life was important, probably more important than anything we are holding on to. The Bible shows us the conflicting emotions He had while praying in the garden of Gethsemane. He didn’t want to suffer, but He knew doing so would be the greatest blessing for His bride.

“He constantly built her up, and His relationship with her made her look even better. … Ephesians 5:27 says He makes the church look radiant (NIV). Husbands, we should constantly encourage our wives, and the result will be beautiful.” (148-149)

While the writing in The Seven Rings of Marriage could be improved, Jackie Bledsoe’s passion to strengthen marriages is faultless. Kudos to Jackie Bledsoe for being a great champion of marriages!

And may God bless YOU for being a champion in your marriage!

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Image courtesy of Ambro at FreeDigitalPhotos.net (2nd image)