Taking the Scenic Route in Marriage #4

Boone Tavern

There are indeed so many pleasures along the scenic route:  waterfalls, coffee shops, hiking trails, barbeque & bluegrass, pull-offs, picnic areas, wildlife, quiet, slower speed limits, unique food stops, antique shops, time with your spouse, etc.

Likewise, there are many pleasures in marriage, some of which were very active in the early years of your relationship, but sadly have become dormant as the years rolled by.  Let’s look at some of those pleasures, and I will be looking at them from a husband’s point of view.  After all, he is the loving, servant leader in the home.  So men, here we go!

Boone Tavern 2

Proverbs 18:22 reminds us, men, that our wives are a special treasure to us from God; they are a good thing (KJV). They are God’s grace gift to us.  We do not deserve our wives.  Therefore, by God’s grace we are to treasure this gift and treat her like a lady, like a special treasure.

Ephesians 5:25 says, Husbands love (agape) your wives, even as Christ also loved (agagao) the church and gave [paradidōmi – to give oneself up for, give oneself to death for, to undergo death for] Himself for it.

Men, one of the best ways to treasure our wives and enjoy pleasure in marriage is to die daily to Christ and to ourselves so we can live for Christ and our dear wives. Therefore, one of the first areas of pleasure in marriage is being your wife’s “knight in shining armor” whereby you protect her; she finds security in you.

God designed men and women with particular needs they cannot meet on their own. Part of the goal of marriage is for husbands and wives to meet those needs for each other.  Therefore, one of the greatest needs of a woman is for security. Her most secure environment is one in which she is married to a sacrificial, sensitive, loving, caring, godly man.  She should find her utmost security in Christ, but next of all, in her husband.

A great example of this is found in the budding relationship of Boaz and Ruth.  Read Ruth 2:8-13, and look at how Boaz treated Ruth. No wonder she ended up marrying him!!

Men, your wife will find security in open, honest, consistent communication.

Recently, I heard Evangelist David Young say, “A leader knows the way and uses words!”  Compare 1 Peter 3:1 and Ephesians 5:26.  In the first passage, a wife is encouraged to not nag or preach to her husband when he is unsaved or not living in fellowship with the Lord.  She is to be silent and let God work in her husband’s heart.  Now that is contrary to all the jokes and statements about women.  Supposedly, according to research, you know “the experts” research, that woman speak over 20,000 words-a-day, and men speak around 7,000 words-a-day.  According to Ephesians 5:26, the man is to be the leader in speaking in the home.  Just as Christ is setting apart and cleansing the church through the spoken Word of God, a husband is to set his wife apart and help her live a pure life through speaking Truth to her, praying Truth with her, and leading her by the Truth.

Husbands, Satan loves our secrets and our silence.  We must be men who talk.  Men who speak truth.  Men who speak up.  Men who do not hide in silence because we don’t want to confront sin or take risks.

Men, talking with your wife will breathe new life into your relationship.  Put down your phone.  Turn off the ballgame or fishing show. Share your heart with your wife; engage in meaningful conversation.  Be honest!  Be open!

Husbands, when you speak, also remember that how you say something says so much to your wife.  Your communication, attitude in speech, and tone are either building up trust in your wife or tearing it down. Consider the following:

  1. Think before you speak.

Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Your sight, O Lord, my strength and my Redeemer (Psalm 19:14).

  1. Choose your words carefully.

There is one whose rash words are like sword thrusts, but the tongue of the wise brings healing (Proverbs 12:18).

  1. Speak words of edification, endearment, encouragement, exhortation, and grace not destruction.

Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear (Ephesians 4:29).

  1. Do not grieve the Holy Spirit by your words.

And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption (Ephesians 4:30).

  1. Learn to genuinely listen to what your wife is saying as well as to what she is not saying.

Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry (James 1:19).

Likewise, husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you[a] of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered (1 Peter 3:7).

  1. Use your words as a grace gift to your wife because God gave you words and the ability to use them. Don’t abuse His gift.  (Genesis 1-2; 1 Corinthians 10:31)

The scenic route gives you time to pull over and talk without interruption.  That “scenic route” can be after the kids go to bed, or after supper without any electronic devices, or on the back porch as well as on a literal journey down on the scenic route.  Some of the best discussions my wife and I have had were sitting on a picnic bench overlooking the valley below, sitting in the rocking chairs on the front porch of a country store, nested beside each other in a cozy coffee shop, walking together through a quaint town, swinging together on our porch swing or sitting on the rocks by a mountain stream . . . just to mention a few.

Men, there are pleasures in marriage, and the first one is the security your wife finds in you as you talk to her, listen to her and always share your heart with her.

Men, take the scenic route.  Lead and use words.

Taking the Scenic Route in Marriage #3

blue ridge parkway overlook

CRAZY BUSY!!!  That’s how so many people respond if you ask them how they are doing.  Busy is basically the norm of life nowadays with work, school, recreation, smartphones, internet, chasing the American dream, etc. Sadly, most folks are out of breath! We have no time for God, for our spouse, for our family, and/or for eternal things.  We are crazy busy!!

Last week, I shared two blogposts with you about taking the scenic route in marriage.  The first post called our attention to the fact that the scenic route is not the normal route.  Its less-travelled and not the overwhelming choice. Just like there’s a major difference between the scenic route and the interstate highway, biblical marriages should be radically different than the world’s idea of marriage.  So our first point was to understand that God created marriage, not man. The second post added the thought that God directs marriage, not man.

Today, I want us to consider that the scenic route is a steady, slower pace.

My wife and I love riding the Blue Ridge Parkway that courses it way for 469 miles through the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia.  If you were to travel the entire route, more than 200 overlooks would be calling for your attention.

blue ridge parkway overlook2

These designated pull-offs look onto wide, breathtaking vistas, luring you to stop your car, get out, and see what God has created. You stand there and look this way, then that way as you listen to the quiet, soak up the sun, enjoy the breeze, perhaps see Peregrine falcons soar through the valley, as well as much more!

To enjoy this grandeur along the Parkway, you have to intentionally pull over, stop and get of out of the car to take it all in!

blue_ridge_parkway_overlooks

I want to ask you do something.  Would you slow down, pull over, stop the car, get out and take a fresh look at the grandeur of this grace-gift called marriage?  Sadly, too many couples are so crazy busy they have forgotten the awesome blessing of marriage!

Therefore, set a time for you and your spouse to “pull over” and read through the following passages.  Husband, you read audibly the first verse, and wife, the second, and continue back-and-forth like that until you have completed the designated passage.  When you are finished, each of you need to share what stood out to you in a positive way about marriage.  Share with each other what verse struck a chord in your heart and why.  Let the Word speak as you look at God’s creation, marriage.  This could be a part of several dates to come as you read through one passage at a time, at each “overlook.”

  • Genesis 2:18-25
  • Proverbs 5:15-19; 18:22
  • Ecclesiastes 4:9-11
  • Song of Solomon 1:15-16; 2:1-17
  • Song of Solomon 4:1-16
  • Song of Solomon 5:1-16
  • Matthew 19:4-6; Ephesians 5:18-33
  • Hebrews 13:4; 1 Peter 3:1-12

Perhaps, you have lost the overall grand vista picture of what God intended marriage to be?  Slow down.  Make time for your spouse a major priority.  Look into each other’s eyes.  Share terms of love and endearment.  Wrap each other up in your arms.

Exchange CRAZY BUSY for

crazy in love with you

Taking the Scenic Route In Marriage #2

fairhaven cottage

My wife and I love to travel over the mountainous, country roads of East Tennessee, Western North Carolina and Southwest Virginia.  What beauty!  What adventure!  What fun!

Sometimes, we come to the end of road and wonder which direction we should turn.  Many times we have lost our GPS signal.  There is a bit of hopelessness in feeling lost, needing direction.

To fully understand today’s blog post, I would encourage you to read Taking the Scenic Route #1. As we saw, the scenic route is not the normal route.  Its less-travelled and not the overwhelming choice. There we learned, first of all, that God created marriage, not man.

Today, and second of all, God directs marriage, not man.

When you take the scenic route, you better have a good map like in the old days or have faith that your GPS keeps a good signal.  Otherwise, you are likely to get lost.

So many marriages today are directionless, struggling, floundering, trying to run on auto-pilot, and so very sadly are on the verge of collapsing altogether.  Why?  Because too many couples are not getting their directions for marriage from the One Who created marriage.  Read carefully the following words: O Lord, I know that the way of man is not in himself: it is not in man that walks to direct his steps (Jeremiah 10:23).

The Bible, God’s infallible Word (2 Timothy 3:16-17), gives us the truths and principles we need for a God-honoring, role-fulfilling, blessed, satisfying marriage (Genesis 2:18-25; Ephesians 5:18-33; 1 Peter 3:1-7).  Therefore, outside of prayer, the greatest thing you can do for your mate is to be a man or woman of the Word!

You see, it takes three to make a good, biblical marriage: God, the man, and the woman.  This is beautifully illustrated by “The Triangle.”

 

Couples-and-Jesus-triangle

The closer each spouse moves to God, the closer they move toward each other.  But, the further each moves from God, the further they move from each other.

Direction in marriage is so needed every day for each spouse, as well as each other’s own personal, relational growth in Christ (Ephesians 4:12-16; 2 Peter 3:18).

How does this happen?

  1. Read & be clean by the Word (Ps. 119:9; John 15:2-6; 1 John 1:9)
  2. Study the Word (Psalm 119:33-40)
  3. Personalize the Word (Memorize/Meditate — Make it your own (Psalm 119:73-80)
  4. Share the Word (Ephesians 4:15)

There are so many ways to take in the Word of God through Bible apps (YouVersion), Scripture memory apps (ScriptureTyper), and podcasts (Love Worth Finding, Adrian Rodgers).  Be sure to journal what God is saying to you each day.  Then, gather up your journal and your Bible and have a special time with your spouse sharing what the God of your salvation has said to you (1 Thessalonians 5:11).

Broken, directionless marriages always involve at least one partner moving away from God, abandoning prayer and the searching of God’s Word.

Consider the following:

  1. Before you take the scenic route, you want to find out where you are going. I like to look at the map and I have an idea of where the road goes. The Word of God gives you a picture in your mind the roads and lay of the land in marriage. The Word of God always keeps you on the right road
  2. Sometimes on the scenic route, you let your intuition (hunch) take over. As you learn the Word and grow in the Word, you will come to rely more and more on the Word in your marriage. In essence, your spiritual instinct takes over.
  3. On the scenic route, if you get lost, you stop and ask for directions. Men usually hate to ask for directions, but in reality, men, you should be the one who is always stopping to pray (ask for directions) and point your wife toward God.

You see, just as the scenic route is not the normal route, a marriage directed by God who created matrimony is not the norm against the backdrop of this world.

Surrender to God today.  Search His Word.  Trust and live out His Word.  Enjoy the journey.

Your most important turn in marriage is the next one! —- Will it be toward God?

Taking the Scenic Route in Marriage #1

 

Homestead Inn

When I die, my wife could put several statements on my tombstone, and one of them could be, “Wonder where that road goes?”  I love taking the scenic route.

Recently, my wife and I got away for a two-night retreat in the Allegany Mountains of Virginia.  The morning of our departure, I said to my wife, “I’m going to go north and over the mountain.”  In doing so, we saw lovely horse farms, beautiful mansions, majestic mountains, quiet meadows, and long-distance vistas.

I love taking the scenic route.

The opposite of the scenic route in most cases is the interstate highway system in our country.  Sadly, there are too many parallels to marriages today in America

  • Its life in the fast lane . . . and somebody behind you blinking their lights at you wanting you go faster.
  • It’s the quick route . . . like fast-food; no waiting in line – we want everything now.
  • It’s the slow route . . . stalled traffic, construction – creates tension, anxiety, anger and impatience.
  • It’s monotonous . . . miles and miles of no excitement – looks like many marriages that are dull and boring, just existing.
  • It provides many exits for you to get off – sadly, so many are looking at exiting their marriage.
  • There all kinds of signs calling for your attention (South of the Border; McDonald’s; Adult bookstores; The World’s Greatest Coffee) – oh the distractions in marriage!

Do you remember the day you were married?  Do you remember the excitement you felt together as you began your life-long journey?

How’s the trip going so far? Have you met with a few bumps and turns in the road? Has the scenery become monotonous? Do you disagree over which road to take? Or, is your journey still the same exciting adventure as when it began?

Now, when I describe marriage as the scenic route, I am not saying that it is all smooth travelling. But I do want you consider as an analogy what the scenic route looks like in marriage.

First of all, the scenic route is not the normal route.  Its less-travelled and not the overwhelming choice.

Just like there’s a major difference between the scenic route and the interstate highway, biblical marriages should be radically different than the world’s idea of marriage.

You see, God created marriage, not man.

If my car breaks down, I am not going to take it to a dentist.  He may have drills and various other tools, but unless he’s a good sideline mechanic, he is not working on my car.  Therefore, to understand marriage, to know how marriage should work, to have wisdom to respond correctly in marriage, I must go to the Creator of marriage.

Genesis 1:1 says, In the beginning, God created . . . .  Jehovah Elohim is the creator, the producer, the fashioner, the sustainer of all things, including marriage.  He is introduced in this passage as the One Who existed before anything in our universe.

Genesis 2:18-23   And the Lord God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him. And out of the ground the Lord God formed every beast of the field, and every fowl of the air; and brought them unto Adam to see what he would call them: and whatsoever Adam called every living creature, that was the name thereof. And Adam gave names to all cattle, and to the fowl of the air, and to every beast of the field; but for Adam there was not found an help meet for him. And the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, and he slept: and he took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh instead thereof; And the rib, which the Lord God had taken from man, made he a woman, and brought her unto the man. And Adam said, This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.

God created marriage, not man and with that, please consider the following concerning Jehovah Elohim:

  1. Since God existed before anything in our universe, Who can speak to marriage any better than the One Who was here before marriage?
  2. Since the name Jehovah Elohim is a plural form speaking of His awesome sovereign power, potential and possibilities, what awesome things could happen in your marriage if you brought it all under God’s sovereign power?
  3. Since God transformed that which is formless and empty into a beautiful creation, Jehovah Elohim can transform your marriage from a formless, no purpose or goal, empty, lifeless work into a beautiful creation.

Begin with God for every area of marriage.  He created marriage, not man.

Take the scenic route, it’s not the normal route.

(More on this subject in my next blog post.)

The Cats in the Cradle

Leisure

Recently while running the dial on Sirius XM, I heard a song from my teen years sung by Harry Chapin entitled “The Cats in the Cradle.”

This heartbreaking song tells of a father and son who can’t schedule time to be with each other, and it serves as a warning against putting one’s career before family. The verses start out with a natural harmony and depict the tale of a father with his newborn son. Although dad gets the necessities of child rearing accomplished, he doesn’t allow himself to put in quality time with his son because of his career. Initially, this seems like no big deal because of his hectic and oblivious life working and paying bills.

The recurring verse has the son saying, “I’m gonna be like you Dad, you know I’m gonna be like you…”

Over time, both father and son grow into a switching of life roles. The father realizes his son’s ambitions of college, grades, and driving, and wants to spend more time with him, yet slowly grasps the reality that now his son has no time for such things. In the last verse, Chapin illustrates that the son is all grown up with a fast-paced job and kids of his own. In a glaring twist of roles, we see that the son now has no time to spend with his father. With a heavy heart, dad realizes that his boy has become just like him.  (Songfacts.com)

Dads, indeed, your sons are watching and learning you.

Making a connection with yesterday’s blogpost, may I ask you dads, are your sons growing up to be just like you when it comes to your relationship with God?

Will they sing in church like you do?

Will they open their Bible and take notes whenever the Word of God is preached like you do?

Will they be totally engaged in worship on Sundays like you are?

Will they be a man of prayer just like you?

Will they be a ready witness for Christ as you are?

Will they know the Word of God like you do?

Will they have the Word memorized like you do?

Will they be a surrendered servant for Christ just like you?

Will stand and testify of God’s grace, faithfulness and love like you do?

Will they be diligent to add to their original faith because you are?

Will they give diligence to make their calling and election sure because you do?

Will they?

Men, we must be all-out, surrendered men of God like Christ, Moses, Joseph, Joshua, Daniel, Paul, Barnabas, Peter, etc. Not only for the glory of God but for the sakes of our sons who are watching and taking their cues from us.

“The cats in the cradle,” and he will soon be gone.  Will he be just like you?

“Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes.You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates. (Deuteronomy 6:4-9)

Train up a child in the way he should go. (Proverbs 22:6a)

The father of the righteous will greatly rejoice; he who fathers a wise son will be glad in him. (Proverbs 23:24)

Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong. (1 Corinthians 16:13)

Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord. (Ephesians 6:4)

But as for you, O man of God, flee these things. Pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness.  Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called and about which you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses. (1 Timothy 6:11-12)

Snoozing in the Pew and in Life

andy & barney asleep in church

No doubt about it, I’ve contributed to too many folks’ early Sunday nap while I have been preaching on a Sunday morning.  I know how it feels.  You are tired, you try to stay awake, and in a moment, you see two preachers standing in the pulpit instead of one, and next thing you know, your head’s-a-bobbin’!!!  Then you look around to see if anyone saw you . . . especially the preacher!

andy & barney asleep in church 2

What concerns me so much more than this are the folks who sit week-after-week in a Bible preaching/teaching church and are never moved by the Word of God. They hear the truth, but in their heart they are snoozing in the pew.  The Word does not reach their heart and subsequently their will.

Perhaps they have never been born again. “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 7:21).

Perhaps they have been converted but need the exhortation found in 2 Peter 1:3-11.

According to God’s divine power, we have been given everything that pertains to life and godliness (1:3) including exceeding great and precious promises that enable us to be daily partakers of the divine nature (1:4).

Based upon this deposit and a personal, growing knowledge of God, we are then exhorted to be diligent!  We are to give every effort to add to our original faith the list of virtues found in verses 5-7.  Quite frankly this is simply maturing in the faith.

When you give diligence to this growth, then you as believer will not be . . .

Useless (barren, 1:8) This means to be stuck, stalled, ineffective, lazy and apathetic in your Christian life.  We are asleep.

Unfruitful (1:8) Too many believers remain spiritual infants throughout their Christian life (1 Cor. 3:1).  They are satisfied to stay on the bottle, drink milk, rather than feeding on prime cuts of meat in God’s Word (Hebrews 5:12-14).  They remain unfruitful because they are worldly wise not godly wise.  We are asleep.

Unseeing (blind, 1:9) We are unable to discern our true, present spiritual condition or to live with an eternal perspective.   We are asleep.

Unmoved (forgotten, 1:9)  There is never a day that should go by that we are not reminded of the pit God brought us out of through the gospel (Ephesians 2:1-9).  That same gospel should have a daily effect upon because Christ’s death, burial and resurrection touches every facet of our everyday lives (Galatians 2:20).  Are you asleep?

Then Peter adds that we are to be diligent in making our calling and election sure (1:10) In other words, your life should be lived in such a manner that no one would ever say, “I wonder if he/she is really a Christian?  Is he/she sleeping?”

The word sure (1:10) means “to show the receipt.”  Our transparent, honest walk with Christ should be a proof of purchase (a receipt) that we have been bought by the blood of Jesus Christ (1 Peter 1:18-19).

If we are diligent to grow in our original faith and in making our calling and election sure, we will enjoy a grand, rewarded entrance into heaven (1:11).

So, when you hear preaching, are you “snoozing in the pew” or diligent to gain all that God wants to teach you?  Have you become useless, unfruitful, unseeing and unmoved?  The key is to be diligent to hear and quick to obey.

Being Tribulated

Joshua-940x540
(Pic from Grace Community Bible Church)

You know that when you are stepping forward for Christ, you open yourself for attack from our enemy, the devil.

Sunday evening we were blessed at BCBC to host some humble, faithful missionaries who left their secular, stable profession while in their forties to give the rest of their lives to reaching lost souls for Christ. Now in their late sixties, they are still moving forward, even asking the Lord to give them twenty more years for Him!

He shared from his recent personal study of the life of Joshua some truths that had impacted his heart.  We listened to a man who knows His God, walks by faith, and is a living testimony of the power of the gospel as seen in 1 Thessalonians 1:1-10.

He began by saying, “You won’t feel the pressure of the devil against you if you are not on the front line!”

His first principle was, “Life is hard, but God is faithful.”  Joshua was nearing 90 years of age when he became the leader of Israel. The LORD spoke the following to Joshua as recorded in Joshua 1:5-10, No man shall be able to stand before you all the days of your life; as I was with Moses, so I will be with you. I will not leave you nor forsake you. 6 Be strong and of good courage, for to this people you shall divide as an inheritance the land which I swore to their fathers to give them. 7 Only be strong and very courageous, that you may observe to do according to all the law which Moses My servant commanded you; do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may prosper wherever you go. 8 This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success. 9 Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.

Joshua needed to hear these words because hardship and trial would come; life is hard.  In the face of those trials, these truths from the LORD would help him remain faithful.  They would encourage him “to be passionate, unflinching, and moving forward with much intensity. The most important thing that God wants to accomplish through you may still be in the future.  And Joshua was nearly 90.”

His second principle was, “God is with us no matter where we are or what we are going through.”  He went on to remind us that “God may be the source of that hardship.  God is always at work in our lives.  Nothing happens to us by chance.”  [It is very likely that Joshua had served in Pharoah’s army before the Exodus. Foreigners were common in the army of Egypt. Moses considered him sufficiently battle-tested to appoint him leader of the Israelite defense against the attack of the Amalekites at Rephidim (Exod 17:8-16). Since Joshua was apparently known to Moses, he may already have been in charge of organizing the undisciplined crowd of slaves who had escaped from Egypt into orderly marching columns. Bible Gateway]

His third principle was, “Don’t forget the history of God’s faithfulness to you.”  Joshua could look back to the attack of the Amalekites (Exodus 17:8-16), and he would be reminded of such faithfulness.  “We need to rehearse in our own ears the history of God’s faithfulness.”

He said in closing that we need to recall these truths when, as a friend of his once said, “we are tribulated.”

Family Friday – Invest in Time Away

Today, I’m sharing my wife’s post from her blog, refreshher.com. Marriage is a blessed grace gift from God that He created and directs. By grace, you invest in your marriage every day. My life is rich because of God’s grace and my gal!!!!

This week during our Valentine’s dinner, I pulled out a dating journal that my husband and I kept for quite a few years. We recorded lunch dates, overnighter’s, and weeks away that we were blessed to share during the years our girls were home. Wow! It was filled with special memories we had forgotten. But one thing rang true – we missed our girls while we were away, but those times alone helped shape our relationship. It made us better parents, and it made our marriage stronger.

We literally had to scrape together every dime to go on these outings, but it was so well worth it! I’m thankful we have that journal to remind us of the joy those times away were for us. Some dates were simply a shared ice cream cone, or a picnic lunch at a nearby park. As a matter of fact, most outings were minimized in extravagance, but maximized in enjoyment AND effectiveness! It was always profitable for our relaitonshhip.

For any married couple to spend time away together so they might invest in their relationship, will require an investment. That simply means it is costly.

  • It could require a financial investment. There are lots of things to do that don’t cost, but most overnighters aren’t free.
  • It will require time – time away from family, away from work and away from all other distrations.
  • It will require a willingness to get honest with one another so you both can make changes that are necessary.
  • The sacrifice of your pride is crucial so you can listen to your spouse without thinking about what you want to say.

After 36+ years of marriage, I would have to say that time away from pressures and demands – even for an hour – is time that helped build our marriage. It’s so easy to get on two separate tracks when things are so busy.

May I ask you – are you making a true effort to spend time with your spouse – just the two of you so you might talk in depth, pray together, have times of rest, laugh, strengthen one another in the daily grind, and pour into your marriage so you can both be ready to move forward?

Let me encourage you, if you’re wanting to share these times but your husband is reluctant, plan a short outing. Do something you know HE would love. Keep it lighthearted and encouraging. Pour into him. Bless him with what he needs. Pray about it, asking the Lord to make your time special. Keep doing these ittle outings and work your way into a weekend away. Allow the Lord to move in his heart.

God has a plan for your marriage and you can trust Him to make it what it needs to be. But again, time with just the two of your is one important ingredient. Even though there are no longer children in our home, my husband and I have to get away to really have time to talk and share uninterrupted. We still need it. We still love it!

Let me end by sharing some photos of the weekend Sweetheart Retreat my husband spoke at last weekend at The Wilds. It was a wonderful blessing to our hearts to gather with 80 couples and pour into their lives for two days! If you’ve never experienced a couples’ retreat at The Wilds, you don’t know what you’re missing! These pictures will give you an idea of the fun we shared!

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My favorite speaker!
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Fun Time is always full of the good medicine of laughter!!

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This baking skit…oh my!
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Old friends surprised us!
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Does this look like CAMP FOOD?!
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More old friends that blessed our time there!
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Love the bookstore!

Valentine’s day is behind us, but you live in your marriage every single day. Make the most of it by making investments that will benefit your relationship for years to come!

Refresh your marriage – Why not start planning now for an outing?

Who attends couples’ retreats? Where do you go?

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The Heart of Valentine’s Day

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This is a special day for those “in love.”  For married couples, it is just another day of intentionally working at their marriage with a little bit of flare added to it or sadly for some, it is a “catch up” day or a day just passed by.

Nevertheless, the very symbol of Valentine’s Day really sums up the whole of married life….as well as everyone’s life.  It is a heart issue.  In other words, the heart of every issue is an issue of the heart.  This speaks even to those of a broken heart today.

Jesus said, in answer to the lawyer’s testing question of what is the greatest commandment, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself (Matthew 22:37-39).

Before an unsaved, lost man can be born again (John 3:1-16) and then love God with all his heart, he must turn to Christ and receive Him as the Word of God clearly states.  Until a man receives Christ as the only way to God the Father (John 14:1-6), he has no desire to love God (Romans 3:9-17).  But when a sinner is born again, the perfect love of God is poured out upon him/her (Romans 5:5), and they understand the greatest love of all from the Creator and Sustainer of true love (1 John 4:7-19).  No man understands or lives out genuine love until he comes to know God through Jesus Christ alone.

That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed. For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him. For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved (Romans 10:9-13).

For a married couple that knows and understands the love of God, the heart is still the issue of every facet of marriage.  No matter what route or adventure marriage takes, loving God with all your heart is the answer.

Many years ago in Bible college, I was introduced to the simple marriage triangle.

marriage triangle

This triangle simply teaches, the closer each spouse moves to God, the closer they move toward each other. The further each moves from God, the further they move from each other. Broken marriages always involve at least one partner moving away from God.  Blessed marriages involve both partners loving God with all their heart, moving closer and closer to God.  When you really love someone, you want to be with them.  You want to move closer to them.  You want to know them.

God created marriage, not man (Genesis 2:18-25).  Therefore, if you desire to have a marriage that fulfills all that God intended and makes for a heart-filled Valentine’s Day every day, move closer to God through His Word, prayer, and worship; love Him with all your heart, and your neighbor (your spouse) in the same manner.

The heart of every issue is an issue of the heart.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Calling Godly Men!

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Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence. . . . I desire therefore that the men pray everywhere, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting (1 Timothy 2:1-2, 8).

Please note the following about this passage.

The Priority of Prayer (2:1)
The second chapter of 1 Timothy contains instructions for public worship. Paul has something urgent on his mind by using the word exhort as given under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit (2 Timothy 3:16; 2 Peter 1:19-21). This urgency is directed to the need of giving preeminence to prayer in public worship, and may I add, to life in general (Luke 18:1). In other words, prayer is to be first in rank, to take first place in importance.

What place does prayer hold in your life or home or school or business or recreation or marriage?

What place does prayer hold in the life of your church? How about in the Sunday worship gatherings? Mid-week gatherings? Evangelism? Discipleship? Sunday School classes and small groups? Deacons’ Meetings? Awana’s? Small group meetings in homes? Men and Ladies’ gatherings? Etc.?

You can do more than pray after you have prayed; but you can never do more than pray until you have prayed (A.J. Gordon).

The greatest thing anyone can do for God or man is pray (S.D. Gordon).

The one concern of the devil is to keep Christians from praying. He fears nothing from prayerless studies, prayerless work and prayerless religion. He laughs at our toil, mocks at our wisdom, but he trembles when we pray (Samuel Chadwick).

The Person in Prayer (2:8)
After acknowledging the only Meditator between God and man for salvation as well as prayer, the Lord Jesus Christ (2:4-6), Paul returns to public worship and the role of men (2:8).

Who are to be the leaders in prayer in our churches today?

How thankful I am for all the dear precious ladies who have given themselves to the ministry of prayer over the years! But, the church should be and must be known for the men who pray, not the ladies first. Quite frankly, the church is too feminine in many ways, and that is not a knock against ladies. Here, the exhortation is clearly laid upon men.

Men, it is time for us to be the prayer warriors, the prayer leaders, the prayer intercessors, the person in prayer!

Men are the ones to pray . . .

Everywhere – That’s exactly what it means, in every place.

With earnest desire – Lifting up hands in prayer is a natural response, a natural indication of earnest desire. Sometime take note of all the places in scripture that show the lifting up of hands as a part of praying (1 Kings 8:54; Nehemiah 8:6; Psalms 28:2; 141:2; 143:6)

With clean & committed lives – The word for holy hands refers to moral purity as well as a devoted life. Prayer is null and void if sin is unconfessed, and we not totally committed to Christ.

Without anger – Interesting that anger is mentioned here. If men are to be faithful prayer warriors, the sin of anger which so easily besets too many men must be overcome by the power the Holy Spirit and obedience to the Word of God (Galatians 5:17, 20, 22-26; Ephesians 4:26, 31-32; James 1:20). Anger is a major mental distraction to prayer. The best way to overcome anger is to pray.

Without doubting or dissension – Furthermore, when it comes to prayer there is to be unity and harmony and a proper mental attitude of faith-believing.

Men, our greatest example of prayer is the God-Man, the Lord Jesus Christ. See Him praying in Isaiah 53:12; Matthew 14:23; 19:13; 26:36-44; Mark 1:35; 6:46; Luke 11:1; Hebrews 7:25, to name a few.

At the very next prayer gathering in your church, men will you lead?

The men who have done the most for God in this world have been early on their knees. He who fritters away the early morning, its opportunity and freshness, in other pursuits than seeking God will make poor headway seeking Him the rest of the day. If God is not first in our thoughts and efforts in the morning, He will be in the last place the remainder of the day (E.M. Bounds).

God’s cause is committed to men; God commits Himself to men. Praying men are the vice-regents of God; they do His work and carry out His plans (E.M. Bounds).