Thursday, May 14, 2009

Born Again Marriage:

By: Rick Warren (his devotional, my title)

"'Teacher,' he asked, 'Which is the greatest commandment in the Law?' Jesus answered, ''Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.' This is the greatest and the most important commandment. The second most important commandment is like it: 'Love your neighbor as you love yourself''" (Matthew 22:36-39 TEV).

Any successful marriage is built upon the biblical truth that God designed each of us with five purposes in mind: worship, fellowship, discipleship, ministry, and missions.

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I suppose you'd expect a man who's been married over thirty years to a beautiful, intelligent woman to be able to share with you the intimate secrets to having a perfect marriage.

But I'm going to disappoint you! That's because Kay and I don't have a perfect marriage. She is without a doubt my best friend, and we have a wonderful relationship, but as far as a perfect marriage, well, there's no such thing.

What Kay and I do have is a marriage centered on Christ, specifically focused on glorifying God. We remain committed to each other because we remain committed to Christ and his work within us.

Jesus said the greatest commandment is to "love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind." Then he added, "The second most important commandment is like it: 'Love your [spouse] as you love yourself'" (Matthew 22:37,39 TEV).

In this sense, you worship God when you love and sacrifice for your spouse. That brings pleasure to God, and any time you give pleasure to God, you're worshiping him. Read through Romans 12 with a view of what its applications would mean to your marriage: "Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other" (Romans 12:10 NLT).

Every person you know is unique. Each one is a complex blend of background, temperament, and giftedness. Yet, these differences are often the root of relational conflict. Uniqueness poses all kinds of communication problems—so often we simply don't understand each other! We may use the same words but with very different meaning.


We're wise when we recognize and value the differences in people. Our uniqueness requires that we use wisdom in order to relate to others in customized ways, rather than relating to everyone with the same, rigid style, as if everyone will think and respond the same way.


The Bible tells us the characteristics of genuine wisdom: "The wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure and full of quiet gentleness. Then it is peace-loving and courteous. It allows discussion and is willing to yield to others; it is full of mercy and good deeds. It is wholehearted and straightforward and sincere. And those who are peacemakers will plant seeds of peace and reap a harvest of goodness" (James 3:17-18 LB).


From these verses we learn six ways to be wise when we relate to others. If I am biblically wise...


1. I will not compromise my integrity (wisdom is pure). I'll be honest with you. I'll keep my promises and commitments to you.


2. I will not antagonize your anger (wisdom is peace-loving). I'll work at maintaining harmony. I won't push your hot buttons.


3. I will not minimize your feelings (wisdom is courteous). I may not feel as you do, but I won't ignore or ridicule how you feel.


4. I will not criticize your suggestions (wisdom allows discussion). I can disagree with you without being disagreeable.


5. I will not emphasize your mistakes (wisdom is full of mercy). Instead of rubbing it in, I'll rub it out.


6. I will not disguise my motivations (wisdom is wholehearted and sincere). I'll be authentic with you. I won't con or manipulate you.


To really communicate, you must give up three things:


1. You must give up your assumptions. We get into trouble when we start assuming we understand the meaning of what people say to us. The truth is everything you hear goes through a filter. Your filter is determined by your past experiences and your unique personality. You may not be hearing what they are really saying. Therefore, it is smart (and safe) to ask for clarification: "Listen before you answer. If you don't, you are being stupid and insulting" (Proverbs 18:13 TEV).


2. You must give up your accusations. You never get your point across by being cross. Anger and sarcasm only make people defensive and that kills communication. There are four common forms of accusation:


• Exaggerating, such as making sweeping generalities like "You never," or "You always."

• Labeling, such as derogatory name-calling. Labeling never changes anyone. It only reinforces the negative behavior.

• Playing historian, such as bringing up past failures, mistakes, and broken promises.

• Asking loaded questions, ones that really can't be answered, such as, "Can't you do anything right?"


The Bible says, "Do not use harmful words, but only helpful words, the kind that build up and provide what is needed, so that what you say will do good to those who hear you" (Ephesians 4:29 TEV).


3. You must give up your apprehensions. Fear prevents honest communication. It causes us to conceal our true feelings and fail to confront the real issues. The two most common apprehensions are: the fear of failure and the fear of rejection. But when you face your fear and risk being honest, then real communication can happen. Freedom is the result of openness. Jesus said, "You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free" (John 8:32 TEV).



I read these two devotions (one today) and (one a few days ago).  Although, this time last year, my husband was not living home.  We were having a really hard time in our marriage.  In fact we were having such a hard time, it was broken.  So broken, that divorce was coming out of our mouths, and although as Christian we say 'divorce is not an option', we were so broken, divorce almost seemed wise, forget about it being an option.  However, at nights when the calmness of our crazy emotions would settle down, in our hearts we knew we really didn't want a divorce.  We knew divorce really wasn't an options for us, for we not only made a promise to God, ourselves, one another, in front of family and in front of friends.  We also now had two small children to hold that promise to.  Not just our marriage, but our family.  


And, boy am I so glad we did.  


I have so much peace in my heart, life and marriage these days.  We have had a loving and peaceful marriage since November.  Looking back about a year ago today, and how these words in these two devotions had such a different meaning to me then.  


The devotions themselves where the same devotions as you read today, with the same words, some meaning and same scripture.  However, I wasn't really allowing them in to do what they are intended to do in my own life and marriage a year ago.  I didn't care. I was angry.  I just wanted out.  


Its sort of funny that similar (yet the same) devotions on this kind of topic has also circled back around from a year ago.  I got to enjoy reading them and I got see how much both Mark and I have changed in our own marriage since having a God centered marriage.  


It's almost as though satan was attacking our marriage a year ago, finally realized who was going to win here.  GOD and our marriage! 


It's funny, as I sit here and type that last sentence, I can see it now. I have probably touched on satans ego a bit A LOT, and he heard a challenge offered to him.  "Oh yea, you think I would give up that easy? I am not done messing with this oh so sweet and beautiful marriage, I am only beginning." 


I know our marriage isn't perfect, it never will be and we will be attacked many times again by the enemy.  However,  I am really happy where it is from a year ago now.  I am thankful that we didn't give up on each other. I am thankful that we have both made big changes for our marriage, and I love that we are finally starting to better communicate.  


Communication is the hardest and one of the most reasons why couples and marriages to fail. I can go through the check list above and recall that both Mark and I were AWFUL as 99.9% of them.  We are still learning, still growing, still living a God centered marriage.  


The blessing at the end of our days, every single day, is that I am home with my family.  I am home with my husband who loves me, who is on my side, who protects and provides for this family.  A man that loves God.  A man that is human, but tries to always make choices with me and the kids at heart and in mind.  


Mark didn't live home for six months last year.  Coming home just after Thanksgiving.  These last six months have been night and day in our marriage.  


So the reason I wanted to share these two devotions today are for a couple of reasons.


1) I wanted to tell my husband that I love him today, more than I did yesterday. Mark, I am so happy where we have come in our marriage over the last 6 months.  The peace and love I have now.  The peace our home and family now have.  The peace our marriage has.  We owe thanks to our friends, family and GOD for always believing in us.  For always encouraging us. Oh, and for all those 'negative folks that were around too that didn't have the best interest of our marriage, our Godly marriage, our family in their hearts'.  I am sorry to disappoint you. Mark and I are fighters...and if we fight for the right reasons.... we make one dynamite team, with GOD as the strongest shield possible. 


2) Although, my marriage has had a great season for the last six months.  I know storms will come again, but this time I go in them truly knowing by experience what I have to look forward to when it blows over, so I will never give up again. 


I know there are still marriages, people and families hurting out there today.  These words in this devotional aren't magic, and won't perform miracles, but they are biblical wise. I do believe being biblical wise and allowing God to be your source of wisdom, makes for one smart person and increases your percentages by 100%.


These words I read over today, I will take them with me as a refresher and reminder of where we struggled all last year in our own marriage, and rejoice and give praise to where we are today.


I will then pray that someone out there reading this blog, that these words were needed for you today.  Maybe as a reminder, a refresher or you are right in the middle of a big storm right now with your spouse, and you have forgotten the biblical way to speak, love and listen to that one you are in the storm with.  Whatever the reason may be, I think these words can mean something today to you and if you hang in there, fight for your marriage, your family and let God in to take over the wheel. You may also get to look back a year from now and see those words differently too.


Trust me, when I say our marriage was broken.  We were broken.  My blog was pretty depressing back then if you look back.  Although, I deleted some of the post because I felt bad exposing my spouse on my personal blog in such a dark and negative time in our lives.  Let our marriage and our experiences give YOU HOPE in yours.  A year ago today, you would have seen a different couple and marriage.  It was that broken.  


Today, we find ourselves almost like a 'born again marriage'. 


God gives us choices and free will.  You have a choice in what to do today or not do for your marriage and your family.  


Although, this was no way planned, it just so happened that  I read MckMama's blog today, as I always do.  She spoke on the topic of God and our FREE WILL. So why don't you head over to her blog and get a second dose of biblical wisdom and why you do that, I am going to wrap this post us, stop and give thanks in my own marriage and blessings, and also say a prayer for all of you that are in a storm, or is under attack by satan in your marriage.  Hang in there.  


You can also have a 'born again marriage'.... a God centered marriage.  


God Bless.


I love you, honey!!!! I can't wait to see what the next six months will bring us, then the next and the next and the next.  



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