Untitled Document

Succeeding In Marriage

By: Randy Jordan

New Life Bible Bookstore

Are You a Lazy Spouse?

3-19-15


Are You a Lazy Spouse?



Are you willing to swallow the pain of a troubled marriage while unwilling to chew the work of growing yourself thus your marriage? Your marriage is built upon you…your strengths and weaknesses. Marriage follows you. A better marriage demands a better you. Marriage is much like a savings account. The value in your account depends upon how well you make deposits. If you make more withdrawals than deposits, then your marriage account will not fulfil your needs and desires.



The struggle with marriage today is that we are generation that expects others to give us what we want without our willingness to work hard for it. A marriage demands a better you. As long as you are deceived in thinking that your spouse, your finances, your family, and other externals are the problem in your marriage, you will remain the number one problem. While your spouse and other things may indeed be at fault, it is your response to these things that creates either conflict or solutions.



How dare I suggest that you are the problem! The truth is…your spouse fell in love with you because of how well you spoke and how well you behaved and how wonderful you make them feel with you. No one, I mean no one…has the power over you to make you speak damaging words or behave offensively without your full cooperation. You are in complete control of how enjoyable it is to be living with you. Therefore, working on you as a mate and parent is the answer to a better marriage and family.



Rejecting the requirement in building a better you is a sort of suicide in marriage. This suicide is a slow painful death and not a sudden one. No marriage dies overnight. Marriage dies one careless word at a time…one negative behavior at a time. If you rest from the work of building you, your marriage will soon begin to rust away. While you can live with a rusted out marriage, it is not necessary.



Available to you right now…24 hours a day…seven days a week are more FREE resources to build a better you than has ever been available before. With the iPhone, iPad, and laptop comes a world of availability of every kind of resource to build your life. I am stunned and amazed at how few couples are engaged in taking advantage of these resources to build their lives and marriage.



Every marriage has a 100% chance of success and happiness with the right information and acting upon it. Without costing you a penny, enough free information is at your fingertips for a better you. The only thing that stands between a better you is laziness and pride. Instead of wasting hours on Facebook and internet games, start loving your family and marriage enough to harness the internet resources to grow you.



With today’s technology comes a huge smorgasbord of information. What you choose to eat is up to you. The following are but just a few of the many Christian websites for a better you and marriage:
http://www.focusonthefamily.com/marriage
http://www.marriagetoday.com/
http://www.5lovelanguages.com/

http://www.marriagebuilders.com/



It cost the devil little trouble to destroy the lazy man’s marriage. Laziness is such a difficult characteristic to correct because it is so self-justified. Laziness is created through excuses and explanations. One of the greatest challenges to hurdle in helping others grow is laziness. Laziness can be one of the most stubborn habits to overcome. Every sermon preached, every lesson taught, and all the information that is so abundantly available is worthless to the lazy man who chooses not to practice what he hears and reads.



The tongue of a lazy man is filled with complaining of the things he is allowing. He is like the man who chooses to only eat desert at the smorgasbord of available information as he murmurs and complains of poor health. No man will ever enjoy the same level of health with a lifestyle of drunkenness as the man who drinks healthy and beneficial drinks.



Marriage is neither difficult nor complicate. Laziness in personal growth is the real dread of marriage. The lazy man’s marriage has little hope of heaven on earth. There is no greatness apart from self-control.  A marriage that does not include self-government can only promise mediocrity to each other.






3-6-15


Rejecting A “Me Against You” Environment



Nothing will change your marriage like becoming a true synergistic team where both parties are contributing to the success of the other! Too many people are so focused on getting what they need to be happy they create a “me against you” environment.



A “me against you” environment is where one or both spouses keep score of who makes and spends more money and who does more chores around the house. A “me against you” environment is developed through self-centeredness, pride and defensiveness. Nothing good grows well in a “me against you” environment.



But a true, loving marriage is one that encourages and empowers our spouse to discover and fulfill their dreams and calling. The greatest marriage teams are when both parties have the freedom and the help to become who they really were meant to be. Team building is never an accident. It is a deliberate focus on what you can do to encourage and support the success and happiness of your spouse.



Effective pre-marriage counseling will seek to discover the true reason(s) why a couple desire to get married. The driving force behind reasons to get married that assure success in marriage is the sincere desire to provide for their spouse an atmosphere where they live feeling like a King or Queen all days of their life.



Often marriage counseling attempts only to address the symptoms of pain in a troubled marriage without determining the root cause of the trouble. The root cause will always lead to a “me against you” attitude where one or both spouses are failing to die to self.



What does it mean to die to self in marriage? Dying to self is “living” for the happiness of another.  Dying to self is the willingness to give-up having to always be right and have everything your way. Dying to self is seeking first the best for your spouse even at the expense of yourself. Dying to self is the pathway to the joys of marriage. The rewards of dying to self are far greater than the rewards of being self-focused.



It is stunning at how small and insignificant the reasons are that motivate couples to argue and fight. Small and insignificant behavior are always major issues to the one where life revolves around them.



So what does it mean to “live for your spouse?” Living for your spouse is a daily decision to be the greatest encourager and complimentary person your mate will encounter that day. Living for your spouse is the awareness of your mate’s needs and learning how to meet those needs. Living for your spouse is becoming your spouse’s greatest prayer warrior. Living for your spouse is joy in praising and blessing your spouse in words and deeds. Living for your spouse is dying to your own rights when your own rights offend your mate.



It is important to allow your spouse’s complaints to become opportunities for personal growth in becoming a better spouse. Learning to see complaints from your spouse as occasions for personal change is dying to self. However, embracing complaints with a “me against you” mentality will fuel defensive responses.



This is the essence of unconditional love in marriage. It is the awareness that you are a team supporting and living for one another. Learning to value and respect your mate’s opinions and feelings is essential for intimate love in marriage. The willingness to change, grow and die to self is foundational for success in marriage.



Fighting and arguing thrives in a “me against you” environment. One of the most profitable moments couples can share together is laying down their defensive posture to learn what they do and say that offends each other. An effective team learns how to work together solving issues. An effective team knows that isolation is an enemy that only destroys. A common experience found in a “me against you” environment is the “silent treatment.” Another is the “blame game” where accusations and fault-finding are hurled against each other.



Learning to live life as team builders is most rewarding. Becoming your spouse’s greatest support and fan is opening the door for peace and love to flourish. Resist a “me against you” environment. Become a team builder. Life is better when you walk together as best partners. Learn to see your spouse as your most valuable partner in life. And remember, dying to self is living for your mate.






2-20-15



Give Grace…Not Judgment



Married couples tend to judge each other according to their spouse’s actions, words, and behavior while judging themselves by their good intentions. Being quick to judge your spouse is the root cause of offen --se, hurt, and pain. When you judge your spouse’s actions that offended, you are judging their intention as mean, rude, and unkind. Without knowing it, couples all too often become each other’s greatest critic, accuser and judge.



In order for someone to really offend me over what they said to me, I have to assume or judge them as intentionally being unloving, rude, and unkind to me. However if I judge them as being a good person and what they said they did not really mean to hurt me, then the offense has no place to lay hold up on me. My judgment of people either gives them opportunity to offend me or takes away the opportunity to offend me...all based upon how I judge them or see them.



For an example, while driving my car, if a man pulls out in front of me in his car and causes me to slam on my brakes, then I have the choice to judge him as being a dumb stupid driver or I can judge him as just an ordinary person like me who also has pulled out in front of others but didn’t really mean to but was just not looking carefully enough. My response and my offense all depends upon how I judge the driver and his intentions.



Angry people are folks who are quick to judge and assume the worst intentions of others. There is a story of a man who was enjoying his early morning bus ride on his way to work. It was quiet on the bus and he was catching up on his reading assignment. The bus stops and picks up a middle aged father with his three children and they sit across the aisle from him. The father’s little girl was crying nonstop. His two boys were fusing and fighting with each other. The man on the bus kept waiting for the father to help his daughter stop crying and get his boys to stop fighting. But the father just sat there staring at the floor. Annoyed and angry, the man stands up and taps the father on the shoulder and said, “Sir, you need to do something to stop your little girl from crying and your boys from fighting?” The father responds as if awaking out of a trance and says, “I am so sorry sir, you see we have just come from the hospital where my wife…their mother died last night from cancer.” “I’ve been trying for hours to get my daughter to stop crying and my boys from fighting but they are just reacting to the shock of losing their mother.” The man on the bus suddenly stops judging the father as being lazy and irresponsible as his heart is filled with compassion, grace, and mercy.



How we judge our spouse and their words and behavior depends upon how we see them. When we see and relate to our spouse with grace, compassion and understanding, we tend to be far less judgmental towards the things they do and say that may offend us. The Bible says that love believes all things, endures all things, and hopes in all things. There is simply no place for a judgmental attitude to be found in love. Whomever we judge as being rude, mean spirited, and offensive, we fail to love.  There is no judgment in love. Rather, love gives grace, tolerance, and seeks to understand.



Being quick to judge your spouse is not only a sign of the absence of true love, but it’s also an indication that the heart is filled with pride. Pride is only concerned and consumed with what it feels and how it has been hurt and how it was offended. Pride has very little tolerance and zero grace. Pride is easily offended.



The best cure for a judgmental attitude and pride is to pray for others…primarily your spouse. When you daily bless your spouse in prayer and pray for them asking God to give you understanding and compassion for your spouse…a judgment attitude will disappear and pride will fade away.



Love sees the best in others while pride sees the worst. Pride feeds judgment. Love gives grace.





2-5-15


How to Fight for Your Marriage



It was through spiritual warfare that sin entered into the world. Adam and Eve did not recognize that they were engaged in spiritual warfare. It looked like just a temptation. It had the appearance of just a lie. But it was spiritual warfare. Because they did not understand that they were in warfare, Adam blamed Eve and Eve blamed the devil for their defeat. Neither took personal responsibility and accountability.



Often couples fail to acknowledge the spiritual warfare that’s been engaged against them. Because they fail to understand the warfare, they fight against each other and blame each other for conflict and struggles. Instead of fighting against the real enemy, they actually empower the enemy in his engagement of warfare against them by doing exactly what he wants them to do.



Let me explain. In spiritual warfare, the enemy is not attacking your marriage. Nor is he seeking to dissolve your marriage or cause divorce. Rather the enemy is seeking to get you out of love and into strife. Once out of love you will destroy your own marriage. It is walking in love that the enemy hates. He doesn’t care if you stay married as long as you fail to walk in love.



Spiritual warfare against married couples is designed to get them out of walking in love. The devil is not the one causing fighting and separation. He is not the author of divorce. The devil can no more destroy a marriage than he can enter into a house while one is sleeping and pick up the kitchen knife and kill someone. He does not have that kind of authority. Rather he must influence someone to break into a house and pick up the kitchen knife to kill. The devil must find someone to work through.



Often couples fail to realize that they are working on behalf of the devil doing his work and accomplishing his goal of getting them out of love and into fighting. If the enemy can knock you out of love…you will destroy your own marriage.



So what is it about love that the enemy seeks to get you out of? Love is patient and kind so he (the enemy) seeks to make you impatient and unkind. Love is neither jealous nor full of pride so he seeks to cause you to be filled with jealousy and stubborn pride. Love does not demand its own way so he seeks to make you self-centered. Love is not rude so he seeks to make you rude with your words and in your behavior. Love is neither irritable nor resentful so he seeks to make you both irritable and resentful. Love bears all things and believes all things and hopes all things and endures all things so he seeks to cause you to act just the opposite.



Love never fails. So he must get you out of love for you to fail. As long as you’re walking in love you are fail proof. It’s impossible for you to fail in your marriage when you’re walking in this kind of love and the enemy knows it so his warfare against you is to get you out of walking in love.



No demon or evil spirit can ever destroy your marriage without your cooperation of getting out of love. Walking in love is all the defense and security your marriage will ever need to stand firm and solid against every attack of the devil. It is simply impossible for a marriage to fail when the couple is walking in love. Love never fails. Couples need to realize that they choose to cooperate with the devil to destroy their marriage or fight against the devil by staying in love. If you choose to fight against the devil then you must stay in love.



I once heard a lady say that she’s always rebuking the devil in her marriage. I quickly told her to stop rebuking the devil and start walking in love and thereby she would not only rebuke the devil but be victorious over him. The greatest weapon against the devil in warfare is being quick to forgive. Empathy and compassion serves as great weapons to defend your marriage. Communication and tenderness are incredible shields against the attack of the enemy. Love never fails.







1-23-15


Learning to Fight Right in Marriage



I would be scorned and criticized to ask a 7 year old boy to unload a pallet of 50 pound bags of feed and stack them on a shelve 4 feet high. Such a request would be irrational revealing my lack of judgment and understanding. When God in the Bible commands husbands to love their wife as Christ loved the Church, it is not irrational. God does not lack sound judgment and understanding. He is not guilty of demanding what man cannot do.



It is sad that for many, normal in marriage is fighting with each other once in a while. After all, everyone has heated arguments from time to time, right? At least this is what so many who teach on marriage imply. When fighting and arguing in marriage is cast as “normal,” are we not setting young couples up to do just that? Why not cast “normal” in marriage according to God’s standard… not according to man’s experience.



Fighting in marriage is a choice. Therefore, couples can choose to have a fight-free marriage in 2015. According to Dictionary.com, the word “choice” means… “The right, power, or opportunity to choose.” Christ never fought against the church; He fought for the church. What an incredible example to follow. If you are going to fight, fight for your marriage…not against your spouse.



Fight for the right and power to have a fight-free marriage. In so doing, you will be fighting against the following enemies of marriage. The following enemies of marriage is taken from Dr. Willard F. Harley’s book, “Love Busters.”
Fight against – Angry Words.  Once angry words leave our mouths we cannot take them back. Angry outbursts seriously impact relationships – especially marriage.  Who wants to live with someone who is a ticking time bomb, never knowing when they’ll explode?  No one does. Are you able to control your anger or is it controlling you?  There are three main responses to anger: stuff it, spew it, or study it.  Anger is usually an indicator of something else going on, but what? Because anger is a secondary emotion, it is important to see that anger is often the surface emotion to a deeper one that is actually underlying. Could it be hurt, disappointment, or rejection? Fight hard to defeat angry words.



Fight against – Annoying Habits. We all have things that annoy us which are unique to our personality. Becoming aware of annoying habits and how they affect your marriage is a mighty defense against this enemy of marriage. Recognizing these habits is the first step to developing a plan to eliminate irritations. Getting rid of unnecessary friction will help you better relate to your spouse. Try not to get offended by what your spouse finds annoying about you.  Find a good time to talk; do not follow conflict, a time of fatigue, or crisis.  To better aid your marriage, use constructive and open communication, and protect the other person’s feelings while discussing how to limit annoying behavior. Remember that most annoying habits are done innocently and not on purpose to bug you!



Fight against – Dishonesty.  LIAR! This word in itself conjures up many different emotions in us. Trust is a major foundation in marriage and therefore worth protecting.



Fight against – Dealing with Demands. Are you demanding and sometimes unreasonable? Since you are human the answer is probably yes at least sometimes. Do you make a request or demand a pre-determined outcome? Even if your request if justifiable to you and reasonable, how does it come across to your spouse? Take the time to consider your spouse’s feelings and perspective and evaluate your own reaction. Negotiation is a part of every relationship, but especially important in marriage. Learn what selfish demands look like, how they affect your relationship and how to start a pattern of different behaviors. Make positive changes in your interactions now to change future interactions and bring more peace to your home and relationships.



Fight against – Disrespectful Judgments.  Definition of Disrespectful Judgment:  an attempt to “straighten out” your spouse’s attitudes, beliefs, and behavior by trying to impose your way of thinking through lecture, ridicule, threats, or other forceful means.




Fight against – Independent Behavior.  If you are wanting more intimacy and peace in your marriage, overcoming independent behavior is a good place to start. Independent behavior is either you or your spouse doing your own thing. These are enemies that you can defeat.





1-8-15


KEYS TO BUILD A BETTER MARRIAGE



We live in a society that often sees marriage as uncertain and an unpredictable future. Marriage is not complicated but it is indeed very predictable. The truth is, marriage is as certain and predictable as knowing which direction a flag will fly when it is raised on the flag pole. What makes the direction a flag will fly so certain? Of course, the answer is the direction the wind is blowing. If the wind is blowing eastward, it is certain the flag will fly eastward.



What makes the quality of a marriage so predictable and certain are the words spoken to each other. The direction of the breath (wind) of words accurately determines the direction the marriage will fly. Why is marriage so fearful for many when we know how a marriage will fly? Every marriage will fly in the direction of the wind of words spoken. If you desire a better marriage, speak better words. What is so complicated about that?



So many couples seek to control and change circumstances and situations as if these are the factors that determine how their marriage is. This is a lie. Marriage will fly in the direction of the wind of words, not in the direction of your circumstances.



Is it really necessary to go through months of counseling to speak better words? Are words of healing, forgiveness, compassion, and empathy so difficult to communicate that is requires extensive training and soul healing? Is the power of prayer and surrender so weak and non-relevant that God cannot heal a wounded heart without the counsels of human reasoning?



Without better words, it is insane to expect a better marriage. Improve your words, improve your marriage. The Bible gives mankind the divine formula for heaven on earth in marriage: “Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O LORD, my strength, and my redeemer.”  (Psalm 19:14 KJV)
Notice something extremely important in this divine formula for success in marriage. Did you see it? Look again! The divine formula says, “Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight.”  But wait! Shouldn’t it say, “Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy EARS?”



Our Creator does not just hear our words and the meditation, He sees them. How do you see words and what a man meditates upon? Never forget this divine truth…others can SEE your words and the mediation of your heart by looking at your marriage. How so? Because the direction your marriage will fly is determined by the direction of the wind of your words. As long as you believe the lie that your marriage has problems because of money issues or others external factors, you will be fighting the wrong battle. Even if you win the lottery, you still will have lost the battle, for the battle for marriage is won with words.



Oh, the power of words. They can destroy a man’s career with just one breath of words spoken just as the wind can destroy a home in one storm. The Bible says, “A man has joy by the answer of his mouth, and a word spoken in due season, how good it is!” ( Proverbs 15:23 NKJV)



If a man has joy by the answer of his mouth, then a man has sorrow by the answer of his mouth as well. It is to your benefit that you embrace as truth what God’s word says about your words and thus speak accordingly. The quality of your marriage is built by the quality of your words that you speak to each other.



You and I can feel the wind blowing. A gentle cool breeze on a warm day is always refreshing. In the same way, you and I can feel the breeze (breath) of the words spoken to us. Spoken words can make us feel comfort or discomfort.
“Kind words are like honey— sweet to the soul and healthy for the body.”  (Proverbs 16:24 NLT)  What could be clearer? The sweetness and health of marriage is connected to kind words. May I speak freely right now? Thank you! You can improve your marriage TODAY if you would begin speaking kind and loving words. So stop whining and start speaking right.




11-27-14



"Making-Up Versus Growing-Up"


Few couples experiencing negative emotions in their marriage are blind to what it is that is being said and done that results in each other being angry and upset. Why do couples so often continue with the same behavior knowing that their spouse will be offended, hurt, and unhappy? Don’t get stuck in the mud of being humble and sweet in “making-up” while you ignore, through pride and arrogance, “growing-up.” Effective skills in “making-up” with your wounded and offended spouse may be working just fine for you; but know that without “growing-up”, “making-up” will remain your lifestyle. So many couples settle for a lifestyle of “making-up.” There would be no need to “make-up” if one had “grown-up” beyond being controlled by emotions and feelings.



Living below “growing-up” robs you, your spouse, and your family of a higher quality of life that is only available through “growing-up.” There is no greater expression of self-centeredness in marriage than to expect your spouse to tolerate your poor behavior just because you refuse to “grow-up.” Scores of spouses and families have been forced to live on a lower plane of peace, joy, and happiness all because a spouse refuses to address problems of anger, moodiness, self-centeredness, and the lack of life-training in becoming a better person. People in your life (if they remain in your life) are forced to live with whatever behavior you choose to have. A choice to remain the same is a forceful demand upon your spouse and family to live with you as you are. Your choice and effort to grow is the greatest expression of love and care for your loved ones. Make the decision to love your spouse enough to grow out of poor behavior and uncontrolled words. Love your marriage enough to grow better as a spouse, parent, and friend. Never stop growing.



During the Christmas season, spouses often go overboard in trying please or impress their spouse with their gifts of love. May I suggest that the best Christmas gift you will ever give to your spouse and family is a better you. Don’t allow this Christmas season to become just another opportunity to “make-up” to your spouse and family for the poor behavior over the last year through expensive gifts. Nothing makes up for poor behavior except personal growth that replaces poor behavior with loving behavior.



The foundation for all personal growth is embracing responsibility for your actions and behavior. The Bible so clearly teaches that the words and actions of men all flow out from within the heart of man (see Luke 6:45). Offensive and hurtful words and behavior come from within the heart of man, never from without because of negative circumstances. Your heart is responsible for every word you speak and for whatever behavior you act out. Please do not allow that to offend you, but empower you. You can change your heart with God’s help. He is always eager to help men change their hearts. God has never lost a patient that has allowed Him to perform heart-surgery.



Trying to change your spouse is always missing the real problem. Attempting to create the right environment and circumstances to improve your marriage without addressing the heart keeps the root of problems well established within the marriage.



Because we think from within our hearts and see from within our hearts and speak from within our hearts, to improve your heart involves improving how you think, see, and speak from within.  Your heart makes up the center of your thinking, seeing, and speaking. This is why words and behavior flow out of the heart.



Changing your heart for a better marriage begins with humility that acknowledges the need to be humble for personal development. Become aware of negative thoughts about your spouse and marriage in your heart and replace them with better thoughts. If you want to feel better feelings toward your spouse you must first think better. Stay aware of how you are seeing your spouse in your heart and make the effort to see better things about your spouse. Pay close attention to what you are saying about your spouse from within your heart and purposefully practice speaking better things from within your heart.



When you think better, see better, and talk better from within your heart, you will have better emotions. Real change always starts from the inside out.






11-20-14


“The Love Affair of the Mind”



Marriage is the greatest institution God established on earth. Because God is flawless and perfect, He created marriage as the most blessed, beautiful, and joyful relationship between man and woman.



Marriage is the legal place where “the love affair of the mind” is lived out and experienced. Marriage is an on-going affair of the mind. Marriage therefore, is as wonderful as the couple’s thoughts are about each other. Poor thinking produces poor marriages. A happy marriage does not produce happy thoughts; rather, happy thoughts towards each other produce a happy marriage. Happiness in marriage flows from consistently thinking happy thoughts. Until this is fully realized, true long-lasting happiness will be out of reach.



Marriage can be no better than a couple’s thoughts are of each other. Marriages continue to struggle where a couple seeks to improve their marriage without improving their thought-life. Though it may sound too simple to be correct; it is true, marriage is as good as a couple’s thought-life. Ongoing troubled marriages consist of poor unhealthy thoughts. It is the lack of understanding that blames outward circumstances rather than inward thoughts for a troubled marriage.



It is difficult to restore a poor marriage without changing how the couple thinks about each other. There are no pills to take to improve a marriage. There is no open-heart surgery that can be performed to change a spouse. For a marriage to improve, thoughts or thinking must improve. Marriage is an on-going affair of thoughts lived out. If you want a better marriage…learn to think better thoughts.



Marriage is NOT built upon right circumstances but upon right thinking. Money, popularity, and physical beauty are not the ingredients for a happy and successful marriage. Right thinking is. I realize this can be difficult for some to embrace. After all, you see wrong behavior and hear negative words from your spouse, so how can your thoughts be the problem? This would be true if you had no choice in responding to what you see and hear. But you and I do have a choice. When we choose to allow what we see and hear to frame or govern our thinking, we give up our power to think healthy thoughts that produce healthy feelings. Giving up your power to choose what and how you think in all circumstances is becoming a slave to what others do and say.



In her book, “Switch on Your Brain” Dr. Caroline Leaf, reveals years of scientific research confirming that our brain or mind does not control our behavior or our feelings, rather, our thinking controls our behavior and our feelings. What and how we think create feelings of love or remove feelings of love. This scientific research also confirms scripture; “As a man thinks in his heart; so is he.” God has wired the brain to produce feelings and emotions out of thoughts. This is proven in scientific research and in biblical writings.



God created our thought-life to govern our emotions and feelings. Our spirit was designed to govern our thoughts and our thoughts to govern our soul and our soul to rule over our body. Anytime we attempt to improve our life without first improving our thought-life, we find little lasting results. This is why many people marry and divorce multiple times. Getting a new spouse without improving one’s thinking is a set up for another rough marriage.



Because our thoughts control our behavior and feelings, an undisciplined thought-life will always produce inconsistent happiness and success in marriage. Conflict never hurts any marriage, rather poor thinking responding to conflict is the problem. The lack of money does not produce anxiety and stress within marriage, rather toxic thinking does.



Learning to transform your thinking through discipline where you refuse to allow even one poor or negative thought to remain in your head without rejecting it is the key to building a happy and successful marriage. The Creator of marriage has designed marriage to function through thoughts. Consider His instruction: “Summing it all up, friends, I’d say you’ll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse.” (Philippians 4:8) (MSG)



Practicing this advice will be a strong defense in the time of conflict and negative circumstances that arise in marriage. Failing to practice is a call for trouble.






10-23-14


Dying in Marriage


Marriage is a place to die. It is a place where death must occur. Without death, the life of marriage is destined for conflict, struggle and fighting. Though the wedding day is filled with joy, excitement and celebration, if death does not follow, even the honeymoon can become a journey of disappointment.



The death in marriage is where self-centeredness dies on behalf of your spouse. There is simply no place or room for self-centeredness in a happy marriage. Where there is self-centeredness, you will find a breeding ground for all kinds of unnecessary trouble. Only after death has occurred within marriage will you discovery the resurrection of a new life together as man and wife that is filled with everlasting joy and happiness.



Self-centeredness must die. This is what marriage is all about. Marriage is a contract of death to die to self for the happiness of your spouse. There are several deaths that must take place within marriage for the resurrection of a happy married life to arise.



Number One: One must die to unrealistic expectations from your spouse. Expecting perfection from your spouse is a sure path to much disappointment. Giving birth to the reality that your spouse is not perfect…and that your spouse needs your patience to grow…and knowing that your spouse will need a lot of grace and mercy from you will produce years of happiness and success in marriage. Giving each other space to fail and room to grow means a death to unrealistic expectations.



Number Two: One must die to being easily offended. Death to offense is a difficult death. The feelings and emotions of offense are as a cat with multiple lives. But unless death to offense occurs, years of hurt and disappointment are certain. Offense is the proliferation of bitterness, resentment and anger. The resurrection of a beautiful and fulfilling marriage cannot take place without death to being easily offended.



Number Three: One must die to stubbornness. Stubbornness is elevating your opinions and your ways above your spouse in a refusal to even compromise. Stubbornness is having to have things your way. Stubbornness is being unteachable and unchangeable. It is self-centeredness at its core. Where you find stubbornness, you will discover pride, haughtiness, arrogance and superiority. Death must be pronounced to stubbornness. As long as stubbornness is alive, death to your spouse’s happiness is secure. A magnificent marriage will always be snuffed out by the life of stubbornness.



The individual who “dies to self” understands how marriage was created to work. The world’s philosophy says, “LIVE FOR SELF”, but marriage demands, “DIE TO SELF!”



Actually, death to self is not difficult at all when you die for someone that you are truly in love with. Love makes death to self much easier. Death to self only becomes a struggle when we are more in love with ourselves than with our spouse. “Me” is always at the bottom line of a distressed spouse.  A man wrapped up in himself seldom sees the need of others.



Please understand that dying to self is not ultimately about rules, or about self-sacrifice where you lay down all your rights and self-worth, nor is it about wimping out on holding your spouse accountable and responsible, but it is about the right relationship with God and your spouse. Dying to self is about a dynamic relationship where your love for your spouse is the motivating factor in dying to self.



Dying to self in marriage is never something that is optional for the success of married life. It is the reality of what makes marriage work. No one can have a long-lasting fight-free marriage unless there is a willingness to see the old life of “my way” crucified and begin to live a new life of putting the needs of your spouse first.



Charles Haddon Spurgeon said, “Beware of no man more than yourself; we carry our worst enemies with us.” You are the worst enemy to your marriage when you are alive to yourself as you give breath and strength to stubbornness, being easily offended, and unrealistic expectations from your spouse.



Since this is something you must do each day, it is recommended that you do it the moment you wake up in the morning. As you first open your eyes to a new day, before you do anything else, take a moment and make a quality decision to die to self so that you might live for a happy marriage.






10-8-14


Is It Time To Check Your Mouth Into Rehab?


Marriage is a lifetime conversation. Marriage is created upon conversation. What oxygen is to our lungs, conversation is to our marriage. Conversation is the bullet in a gun. Just as a gun is harmless without a bullet, so are negative circumstances harmless without negative conversation. Conversation is far more than words. Conversation is body language, facial expressions, and behavior. These all make up conversation. But words determine the impact and interpretation of body language, facial expression and behavior.


Before many marriages have any real chance for positive change, one or both of the couple’s mouth must be checked into rehab. Conversation filled with manipulation, lies, deceit, and untrustworthiness is as a bulldozer out of control in the marriage causing havoc and hurt. Until conversation is under control, marriage will remain out of control.


So what does it mean to check your mouth into rehab? Checking your mouth into rehab means that you get out of denial that your mouth or conversation is OK and not a problem. Checking your mouth into rehab is acknowledging that your mouth or conversation is out of control and that you need help. Many couples are addicted to intoxicated conversation of foul language and cursing. Others have their conversation drunk with accusations and blaming everybody and everything except their own mouth for their unhappiness.


In mouth rehab, you put your mouth into therapy training to speak words of grace and empathy. In mouth rehab you learn to detox your thinking from stinking thinking. The Message Bible so beautifully says,  “Summing it all up, friends, I’d say you’ll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse.” Philippians 4:8 (MSG)


One of the main therapy exercises in mouth rehab is putting into practice thinking according to Philippians 4:8. Conversation or dialogue flowing out of Philippians 4:8  involves two or more people who are more interested in understanding each other rather than just being right and defending their points of view. The essential nature of Philippians 4:8 conversations is that it is an exchange of ideas, feelings or points or view between people where the individuals are interested in listening to and understanding each other.



In Philippians 4:8 conversations, there is a commitment to win-win or to the relationship winning. Philippians 4:8 conversations are constructive where no one person is attempting to win or dominate the conversation; the idea is to have a conversation that is mutually satisfying to both individuals. Each person takes care to understand the other and to listen for what new understanding is emerging in the conversation. No one person is attempting to be right or have his viewpoint prevail.  Philippians 4:8 conversations are creative in nature, both parties are usually aware that their viewpoints are just that: They are points of view. It is difficult and nearly impossible to have the experience of loving and caring connection with another person when one person has to be right about their point of view.



Ultimately, the bond of all companionship, whether in marriage or in friendship, is conversation, and conversation must have a common basis founded upon Philippians 4:8.


Over a lifetime, a married couple expresses all kinds of feelings, viewpoints, opinions, judgments, and ideas in conversation with each other. Their conversations can, at times, be creative, productive, and affirming or they can be reactive, static and conflicting. Couples may share what is going on in their lives, solve issues, create a vision for the future or make plans of action. Couples may talk about what is working or blame each other for what isn’t working. They may argue and even stop talking to each other for long periods of time. They may have conversations that express their commitment to creating partnership on a daily basis or that argue for “the way that it is and always will be” in their relationship.



The bottom line is that conversation, good or bad, flows from our thinking. As a man thinks in his heart, so is his conversation. Life and death are in the power of conversation. Conversation is the steering wheel in a car called marriage; the car’s destination is never determined by the passenger but by how the steering wheel is used. Checking your mouth into rehab can be life changing.




Read This Before
Your First Date


9-25-14



God never intended man and woman to succeed at marriage without Him. Marriage was created to include a living vital relationship with God. Unless God builds a marriage, it will never be what God intended the marriage to be. Only God can do what God can do. The best of man’s gifts and abilities still falls extremely short of what God can do with, in and through a marriage. It should not surprise anyone that marriage without God at the center is destined for many days and years of conflict and struggle.


God created fish to swim and thrive in water. When you take fish out of water, it is certain that the fish will fight hard for survival. All the survival training that can be offered to fish out of water will only fail. The best marriage counseling void of including and making God the center of the marriage will fail to provide the help that only God can provide through a relationship with Him.


The best place to begin a marriage is getting God’s will for the right spouse. By far, this is where so many miss it right off the starting line. If you do not include God in your dating choices, there is little chance that you will really include God in your marriage.


If you think you can date without God’s help and direction, you are not ready to date. You are not God nor do you come close to His wisdom. Failing to understand the seriousness of including God in your dating choices is wide open evidence that you fail to understand the seriousness of marriage.


Don’t be deceived. While God can help you make the best of a wrong choice, the best is never the best without God’s best from the beginning. Please read that statement again… While God can help you make the best of a wrong choice, the best is never the best without God’s best from the beginning. Thank God that He can make lemonade from lemons, but in this dry and thirsty world I would much rather enjoy the refreshing satisfaction of a cold class of pure clean water than the best lemonade drink.


Never forget this: God will always seek to bless and enrich your life through the right marriage partner while the devil will seek to control, steal and take away the quality of life through the wrong marriage partner. When God is Lord of your dating, He will be Lord of your marriage.


Early in my dating years, I remembered a Sunday school teacher of mine whose name was Brother Danny Cupp. Brother Danny would tell us class of boys that if we would only ask God for the kind of wife we wanted, that God would give us that kind of wife.


One night after a date went sour, I was lying in bed crying to God when I remembered what brother Danny Cupp said. So I reminded the Lord what brother Danny said and then I asked God for three things that I wanted my wife to be like.


Number one, I asked the Lord for a blonde wife. Number two, I asked the Lord for a wife that could play the piano. Number three, I told the Lord that I wanted a wife that did not want to have sex before marriage. Within three months of praying that prayer, I met this blonde haired girl selling doughnuts in the bakery at Publix Supermarket and I asked her out on a date. At the time I had forgotten my prayer. But when I learned that she could play the piano, I remembered my prayer in that she met two of the three things I had asked for. We dated for 4 ½ years and trust me, I became keenly aware during those four and half years that my third request was also being stubbornly fulfilled.


I can now testify that God answers prayer. When God gives you the best, you have the best. By the way my wife played the piano in church for over 25 years while I led praise and worship. God not only gave me a wife, but he gave me a ministry partner as well.


There is no better way to begin a marriage then to begin by making God Lord over your choice as to who to date.






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