Category Archives: covenant

Peace for the Storm-Tossed Family

Quite frankly, I wasn’t eager to read about “the storm-tossed family.”

But as I began to read Russell Moore’s latest book, I had to restrain myself from bombarding a friend with texted pictures of underlined passages from the book.

You may not be eager to read about the tossing of a storm, but you will definitely want to learn “how the cross reshapes the family,” which is the subtitle of The Storm-Tossed Family. Published by B&H Books, this new book on marriage and family is excellent.

Family as Problem, and Family as Solution

Moore’s opening premise is that just as storm clouds bring life-giving rain as well as devastating floods, so our families can bring to us our greatest joys as well as our deepest sorrows. The same waters that threaten to drown us can become the waters that float our boat.

storm-tossed family

“The family is not only part of the problem, … but part of the solution” (page 30). Eve’s first son murdered her second, but another Son rescues us all.

God uses His design of family to heal our families. Our marriages and families are torn apart with conflict and cruelty until we are born into God’s family, where we are loved with the lavish affection of the Father and the friendship of spiritual brothers and sisters. Through covenant vows, we receive a glorious Bridegroom, Jesus Christ. We look forward to celebrating at a Wedding Feast and living “happily ever after.”

Family as Spiritual Warfare

Moore recognizes that the family is the battleground for spiritual warfare. Our objective is not escape; it is victory. This is a battle worth fighting, and it is a war we can win.

How then shall we live in our families so that our joys are eternal instead of elusive? How can we navigate our lives so that our burdens are redemptive instead of destructive? The answer is found in the cross. Like the family sometimes, the cross is a place of pain and rejection, but it is also the door to joy and connection.

Living Crucified Lives

A cross-shaped home is an intriguing concept, but it is much more than that. Learning to incarnate the gospel in our own lives is the most important thing we can do. Many see the cross as a relic of the past, but if we are to experience transformation in the present, we must recognize that the cross is our constant pattern for daily living.

How does the cross shape us as children and siblings, as spouses and parents? I think we live cruciform lives in three ways.

1. We live cross-shaped lives as we continually die to our own self-will. Our own will is not necessarily sinful, but clinging to it always is.

2. The gospel transforms us so that we can love others sacrificially: we are willing to suffer for the benefit of another. We are willing to be wounded so that others may be healed.  As we suffer willingly and forgive generously, we re-enact the gospel.

3. The gospel renews our thinking so that we can receive our burdens as blessings. God knows how to use the snarled threads in our marriages and families to untangle the knots in our own souls.

God-ordained suffering is always redemptive, which means that God uses it to reverse the curse in the world and in our lives personally. When our spirits are yielded to God, our hardships will always prosper us spiritually. In the Hands of God, our suffering will not deprive us, demean us, or deform us; instead, it will deliver us. It will heal us and enrich us.

The cross of suffering is not an obstacle to joy for those who crucify their self-centeredness there: instead, the cross is the very means to joy. The invitation to pick up our cross (“come and die”) is the invitation to intimacy with God Himself and the invitation to share His joy.

Core Issues

I am thrilled to see fantastic truths about marriage being shared in this book, and I pray that its much-needed message will reach a huge audience. I appreciate Moore’s understanding of the unique partnership within the covenant of marriage, and I am delighted to read his discussions of masculinity and femininity, which are favorite topics of mine. Although I don’t agree with Moore on everything, I recommend this book as one of the best on marriage.

This book does not list “five tips for resolving conflict” or “six things you should never say to your wife.” Those things may be helpful, but they are secondary issues. (For those who are familiar with Radiance, you will understand when I say that The Storm-Tossed Family deals with mattress issues, not sheets.)

The primary issue in marriage is to get our own hearts right and to understand the purpose of marriage. With a sound doctrine of marriage, Moore explains the underlying principles which provide a solid foundation for dealing with secondary issues.

Let me share some great statements from several chapters.

From “Man and Woman at the Cross”:

“Men are warned [in Scripture] … against passivity and refusal to take responsibility…. Women are warned … against signifying a lack of need for the male….” (page 86)

“Headship does not refer to power but to responsibility.” (88)

“Headship will not seem often to the outside world to be ‘being the head of one’s house’ at all. Headship will look, in many cases, like weakness. So does the cross.” (89)

“We are created for cooperation and for complementarity. We do this not through the will-to-power but through the way of the cross.” (94)

storm-tossed family

“Marriage matters then for everyone because marriage is not just about marriage. Marriage is about the cross.” (95)

From “Marriage and the Mystery of Christ”:

Moore tells engaged couples that “they can’t construct their own vows” because “apart from the rest of the community, they do not know what vows to make. … [T]he primary purpose of covenant vows is not in reference to one’s feelings in the moment but to one’s commitment in the face of the unpredictable and the unimaginable.” (104)

A wedding “is not a party for the couple, celebrating their individualized love. … Those gathered are not an audience but witnesses…. In a Christian marriage, the gathered witnesses are a sign that the church is here to hold the couple accountable to their vows before God. The marriage is not just about the couple but about the gospel. This means the marriage is the business of the whole church.” (105)

“Intimacy means that you love these realities [of your spouse’s strengths and vulnerabilities] … without either taking the other’s strengths for granted or resenting him or her for not having other strengths. Often, the ‘other woman’ or ‘other man’ in a marriage is not a real person with which a spouse is having an affair, but instead is an imagined, idealized husband or wife to which the spouse is constantly compared.” (117)

“Whether married or not, you bear a calling to support and uphold the marriages within the family of God….” (123)

We “will find joy and peace and wholeness in our marriages when we stop expecting marriage to meet all our needs, and start seeing marriage as a war to find contentment in the gospel.” (123)

From “Reclaiming Sexuality”:

“Affairs are usually not about a lack of happiness [in marriage] or a lack of sex. … The devil knows the way to take one down is not through a deficient spouse but through a deficient self” [that is, not finding one’s identity in Christ]. (143, 145)

“Ingeniously, the satanic powers have found a means to direct human erotic energy in a direction that ultimately saps one of erotic energy, and in due time, of the very possibility of human intimacy. The powers of the age will collaborate with the biological impulses to make this seem irresistible….” (150)

“In both artificial Eros and in artificial romance, there is the love of self, not the mystery of the other.” (151)

From “The Road To and From Divorce”:

“How can Christians … speak to issues of social justice and the common good without addressing what is no doubt the leading cause of ‘orphans and widows’ (James 1:27) in our midst? How can we speak … about ‘family values’ while speaking in muted tones on the issue of divorce and at full-volume on other matters?” (162)

“John the Baptist telling Herod he could not have another man’s wife is a quite rare profile in courage in almost any era.” (163)

“The shift in evangelical attitudes toward marital permanence does not seem to have come through any kind of theological reflection or conversation at all. Instead, our approach to divorce seems to have meandered just a bit behind the mainstream of American cultural patterns. … We have grown accustomed to a divorce culture….” (164)

Moore believes that marriage “is to be part of the discipline of the church” (174). He claims that every “marriage that the church solemnizes should be a marriage the church takes as its responsibility” (175).  These statements may surprise some readers and will probably raise some eyebrows. I was surprised … and pleased, and this passage raised a cheer from me! It deserved another “thank you, Russell Moore!” text.

Cherish the Blessings

Moore also addresses the topics of children, parenting, family traumas, and aging. In each chapter, he shares clarifying perspective and profound biblical truth.

The book concludes with strong encouragement:

Your family, whatever it is, will bless you, maybe in ways you don’t even notice in the blur of busyness at the moment. Stop and notice these blessings. Listen to what God is telling you through them. … Do not be afraid. … Whatever storms you may face now, you can survive. If you listen carefully enough, even in the scariest, most howling moments, you can hear a Galilean voice saying, “Peace. Be still.” (297)

Thank you, Russell Moore, for writing The Storm-Tossed Family. May a multitude of homes be reshaped by the Cross.

6 Reasons to Love Your Unrepentant Spouse

When an unfaithful spouse shows sincere repentance, the other spouse may decide to forgive and continue to love. But who would choose to love an unrepentant spouse?

Kim Pullen made that choice. And she's glad she did!

I am pleased to introduce Kim Pullen to you today as a guest blogger on MannaForMarriage. Kim Pullen is an author, speaker, and teacher who advocates for healthy marriages. She helps spouses overcome the devastation of affairs and pornography by focusing on a dynamic, intimate relationship with God. Thriving in a 26-year marriage that was once traumatized by adultery and a four-year separation, Kim shares hope and healing with spouses who feel isolated due to their partner’s sexual sin but don't know how or where to begin their recovery journey.

6 Reasons to Love Your Unrepentant Spouse

If we look to movies or romance novels for a definition of love on which to model our marriage, we’ll quickly find ourselves confused, disappointed, and embittered.

To Hollywood, love is a feeling. But that’s not real love. Real love keeps a couple together when feelings wane and passion ebbs. It keeps them committed when the world crashes in and when their bodies age and fail. Real love satisfies a couple for decades.

That’s because real love isn’t a feeling. It’s a choice.

Getting Re-educated on Love

In 2011, I discovered my husband had multiple affairs during our 19-year marriage. I was shell-shocked. “I don’t love you anymore,” he said.

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We separated—me to find answers, and my husband to pursue the world. That’s also when God, the author of love, began my re-education. The qualities of real love—truth, humility, patience, perseverance, boundaries, and repentance—became more than religious terms, and God challenged me to back up my commitment with faith and obedience.

After four years of prayer and practical application, my husband and I were reconciled. Our emotional intimacy grows daily and exponentially. It’s a marriage I never could have imagined.

Here are the six reasons why I want to encourage you to choose to love your unrepentant spouse even in the face of addiction and infidelity.

  1. We All Have Core Wounds

Every one of us had some kind of dysfunction in our childhood. Even if your parents were saints, they were still sinners like their parents before them. Where you have dysfunction, you have sin and pain. Where you have pain, you have a need to medicate.

My grandfather taught my father it was weak to show affection, so I grew up starved of the love and approval a daughter so desperately craves from her daddy. For my husband, emotional abandonment in his childhood came in the form of his parents’ ineffectual boundaries. Our parents weren’t “bad people”; they simply had core wounds from their childhood they passed on to us (Exodus 20:5-6).

Whether your spouse is a professing Christian or not, they have core wounds. In all likelihood, they are unconsciously using their sexual sin to medicate themselves from pain just like you may use food, entertainment, shopping, or control to medicate yours.

  1. We’re All Sinners

It’s hard not to think the way the world does about sin, that one crime or violation is worse than another. Our whole court system is based on it. Murder is more criminal than slander. Rape gets more shock and awe than a porn site, and embezzlement stirs up infinitely more rage than shoplifting. It’s all perspective.

But not to God. Romans 8:23 says we’ve all missed the mark or fallen short of God’s standard. Revelations 21:8 puts murder on the same level as unbelief, cowardice, and lying. Yes, there are different consequences and repercussions on this side of heaven, but it only took one of our sins for Jesus to have to go to the cross.

That doesn’t minimize our spouse’s betrayal. That particular pain is excruciating. You may fantasize about pouring coffee on his laptop, flushing his iPhone down the toilet, or even snipping off his man parts—

Uh, but there you go. You sinned according to Matthew 5:22 (anyone who is angry with another is subject to judgment). You have become just as guilty and deserving of punishment for putting Christ on the cross as your unfaithful spouse.

Sure, there’s righteous anger, but most of us aren’t angry with our spouse because they’ve disrespected God (John 2:14-16).

I know it doesn’t seem fair, but how fair was it for Jesus, an innocent man, to die for our sin? I worshiped people’s approval more than God’s, and I tried playing God in my husband’s life because I was terrified of rejection and abandonment. Bottom line: even though I professed undying devotion to God, who is the Lover of my soul, I betrayed Him as much as my husband betrayed me.

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  1. We Made a Covenant with God

On my wedding day when I stood at the altar before my family and friends, God was there, too.  I vowed to my husband, my loved ones, and God, “for better or worse, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish” for the rest of my earthly life.

Our spouse’s infidelity? That’s the “worse.” Our spouse’s sexual addiction? That’s the “sickness.” My agreement to love and to cherish him didn’t include “as long as he loves and cherishes me back.”

Let’s be clear. We did not make a commitment to let our spouse treat us like a maid, a sex toy, or wall. Setting boundaries is also an act of love. God sets boundaries for us throughout Scripture so that we can stay in relationship with Him (1 John 1:5-10). Calling your spouse to repent and return to their commitment to God and to you is the most loving thing you can do for them.

  1. Love Moves Them Toward Repentance

If your spouse has secret sin, you don’t have to be the one to expose it.

Let me say that again because this thought is hard to wrap our head around: if you’ve furtively tracked your spouse’s whereabouts via GPS, secretly scoured their phones for illicit messages, or privately poured over credit card statements looking for evidence of their betrayal, STOP!

God sees all of our sin and our spouse’s sin as if we’re doing it right in front of Him (Psalm 90:8). He can’t be fooled or mocked (Galatians 6:7-8).

Instead of getting angry or hiding, what would happen if you reacted to your spouse’s sin with God’s love and healthy boundaries? Paul told the Romans they could overcome others’ sin with kindness (Romans 12:17-21). Peter agreed, saying love overcomes sin (1 Peter 4:8).

How in the world can loving my spouse like Jesus lead them toward repentance (Romans 2:4)? Think about your response to Jesus’ love for you. You didn’t deserve his love and kindness, but he gave it anyway (Romans 5:6). And because he did, you repented.

  1. Jesus Set Us an Example

From the cross, Jesus expressed love and compassion for the people who were murdering him (Luke 23:34). It may seem impossible to love like this, but if Jesus did it, so can we. It ain’t easy, but it is possible because love is a choice, not a feeling.

When my husband chose adultery over me, I chose to believe that Jesus could move the mountain of sin off his heart (Matthew 17:20-21).

When it looked like my marriage was dead, I chose to follow Jesus’ example and claim God’s resurrection power to restore it just like Jesus believed his Father could raise him from the dead (Acts 2:24).

That’s because Jesus said if I have faith, nothing is impossible for me (Matthew 17:20). He also said if I stay connected to him through his Word, he’ll do anything I ask (John 15:7). Through the Apostle Paul, he said I could can do anything when I rely on him for my strength (Philippians 4:13).

  1. God Commands It

The last and most important reason I need to love my unrepentant spouse is quite simply because God commands it.

In Jesus’ sermon on the mount, he turned Jewish tongues wagging when he flipped the Law on its head and told them they needed to love their enemies and pray for their persecutors (Matthew 5:44).

Why? Because it’s his hallmark and evidence to a sin-sick world that he’s real, and alive, and loves us desperately (John 13:34-35, 7:23). When we love like this, we are the most like Him (1 John 4:17).

For a girl that grew up desperately craving her daddy’s love and approval, how could I not respond to Him?

What Stops Us

What keeps us from loving our spouses when they aren’t repentant? Pride, fear, and unbelief.

Pride because we’ve forgotten we signed up to be a servant like Jesus (John 13:14-17).

Fear because we’re afraid of being rejected and abandoned (Deuteronomy 31:6, Matthew 28:20).

And unbelief because we’ve forgotten how powerful our Creator is (Psalm 18).

Oh, and there’s one more: because it’s hard (Hebrews 12:7, 11).

It’s hard to love with firm boundaries and respect. It takes supernatural fortitude to maintain a love that protects the truth and integrity of the commitment we made. It’s a love that sees not who we or who our spouses are, but who we can be.

Such a love is unstoppable (1 Corinthians 13:1-8).

If you identify with Kim's story, please visit her website at HopeForSpouses.com, or her Facebook page (HopeForSpouses). You can also contact Kim at kim@hopeforspouses.com. 

Thank you, Kim!

Disclaimer from Kim: Please note that we are speaking to a difficult marriage here, not a dangerous one. If you are in an environment that is not safe, we encourage you to seek help.

Does Marriage Make You Happy or Holy?

You may have heard the question before:

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

holy

My answer would be, “Yes, He did!”

Let me explain.

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

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

AS GOD DESIGNED IT, MARRIAGE IS HOLINESS.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(Click HERE to continue reading.)

Join the prayer call today!

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

Praying with you and for you,
Tami

21 Myths about Sex

I really didn’t expect this.

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

sex

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

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

I found that.

But I also found much that was

  • beautiful.

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

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

Here is some of the “beautiful”:

Love lifts another higher.

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

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

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

Love is patient.

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

Love is kind.

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

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

Love never fails.

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

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

sex

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

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

Some of the Myths about Sex

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Book Giveaway

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

Blessings to you,
Tami

Hope for a Hurting Husband

An Open Letter to a Hurting Husband

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

But you haven’t.

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

Take hope!

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

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

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

Author and pastor Dave Harvey says,

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

You can succeed.

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

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

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

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

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

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

I am completely committed to you.

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

Even if you reject me, ….

(Click HERE to continue reading.)

10 Commandments … for Marriage

When God made a covenant with His people at Mount Sinai, He clarified the guidelines which would best nurture a healthy relationship. The Ten Commandments were given as principles which would guard the covenant.

10 commandments

Just as there are principles which protect our relationship with God, our Covenant Partner, so there are principles which protect our relationship with our earthly covenant partner. The guidelines are very similar since the two covenants are parallel relationships.

May I suggest, then, the Ten Commandments for Marriage?

Click HERE to continue reading.

Image courtesy of digitalart at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

And the winner is …

We have a winner for the 25 Questions book giveaway! Moody Publishers will be mailing a copy of Juli Slattery’s new book to MELISSA soon. 🙂

To all of you who entered the drawing, thank you for participating.

___________________________________

Mailbox image is courtesy of digitalart at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

 

Move from Isolation to Intimacy in 6 Steps

Did you realize that the Old Testament tabernacle has amazing truth for marriages?

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I share six steps that move us from isolation into intimacy in this article for StartMarrriageRight.com:

“Stepping from Isolation into Intimacy.”

 

 

I would love to hear your thoughts.  And as always, you are invited to join us on Thursdays as we fight on our knees, praying for our marriages.

Blessings to you,
Tami

 

photo credit: FreeDigitalPhotos.net

 

By Your Wounds, Who is Healed?

But if you suffer for doing good and you endure it, this is commendable before God. To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps. (1 Peter 2:20-21, NIV)

This is the kind of life you’ve been invited into, the kind of life Christ lived. He suffered everything that came his way so you would know that it could be done, and also know how to do it, step-by-step.

He never did one thing wrong, Not once said anything amiss. They called him every name in the book and he said nothing back. He suffered in silence, content to let God set things right. He used his servant body to carry our sins to the Cross so we could be rid of sin, free to live the right way. His wounds became your healing. (1 Peter 2:21-25, MSG)

What is Peter’s point here?  Peter is encouraging us that our suffering may be (and always should be) God-ordained. In fact, we are called to this very thing: we are called to suffer as Christ suffered.

Christ did not suffer as a hapless victim; He suffered as a willing Victor. His suffering was a very deliberate act: it was an offensive, calculated act of war. It was the very crushing of the head of evil.

When our suffering is God-ordained and God-sustained, we are not weak victims. We do not panic; we are not discouraged. We do not abandon or reject what God is doing. God-ordained suffering is the powerful defeating of evil!

Here in the book of Peter, in the middle of a discussion on persecution and suffering, God says that by His wounds, we are healed. We are spiritually, profoundly, healed by the wounds of Another.for-you-1354974-m

So what’s the point? Here it is:
when we follow the example of Christ,
suffering in God-ordained ways,
then others are healed by our wounds.
By the wounds of Christ, we are healed;
and
then by our wounds,
others are healed.
That is AMAZING.

Paul said, “Now I rejoice in what I am suffering for you, and I fill up in my flesh what is still lacking in regard to Christ’s afflictions, for the sake of his body, which is the church.”
(Colossians 1:24, NIV)

In our marriages, if we suffer as God directs, yielding to Him, then our suffering is bringing healing. Just being wounded is not the point! If our spouses are wounded, and then we are wounded—if that is all that is going on—then we just have more woundedness and a bigger mess than ever! If your suffering is making you bitter and full of self-pity, then the problem is only getting worse in your home.

What God is calling us to do is to identity with our spouses—that is what Christ did for us. He did not add wounds to the situation; He actually took on our wounds as His. God is calling us to recognize that our spouses’ spiritual enemy is our enemy; we are in this together. We are fighting right beside our spouses for our spouses.

Because we are in a blood-covenant with Christ, we have the blood of Christ flowing through our spiritual veins. We have His DNA—Divine Nature Activated—within us. So when we bleed in suffering, it is the blood of Christ that flows.

This is critical!

If the blood of my sin-nature flows, then what is coming from me is resentment and revenge and rejection and hatred. There is no healing in that.

But when you suffer in your marriage as God directs, then the blood of Christ flows out. The blood of Christ is LIFE—abundant life. There is healing in that! The blood of Christ is love—the willingness to give of one’s self to another. There is healing in that!

(This is a transcript of today’s prayer call. Join us online or by phone as we pray together every Thursday.  Click HERE for more details.)

Calibrating the Compass of Your Heart

We tend to think that we love someone when that person attracts us. When we no longer feel attraction, we feel that we no longer have love. We see others as magnetic-like forces with the power to attract or repel us.

But are we really helpless magnets compelled to move toward attracting forces? Could it be that love is more than attraction?

God says that love is choosing to walk toward someone. Maybe attraction is not the decisive force; maybe we are.

With God’s help, we can calibrate the compass of our heart so that we move toward our choices. Godly love is a force within us which moves us toward someone whom we have chosen; it is not an external attraction that works upon us.

If we are married, we can set our compass so that the arrow of our heart points toward our covenant partner; we can determine to walk steadily in that direction, regardless of the pulling or pushing of other forces.

Mighty Men in Marriage

Big boys are everywhere, but where are the men?

Where are the men who stand taller than passivity? Where are the men who are mighty in marriage?

There are such men. There are real men who have the strength to shoulder responsibility, the nobility to keep promises, and the character to carry leadership. Husbands of such greatness are men who “cleave” to their wives. With a commitment to “stick like glue,” these men CLEAVE:

Cover.  The Scriptures teach that a man is to “cover” his wife. He covers her like a roof when he shelters her, and he covers her like an umbrella in the rain when he protects her. He covers her like a blanket on a cold night when he warms her with tenderness and comforts her with care. With his strength and his devotion, a husband “covers” his wife’s physical, emotional, and spiritual needs.

We see this imagery in the Old Testament when Ruth says to Boaz, “Spread the corner of your covering over me” (Ruth 3:9, NLT). In this reference to Boaz’s cloak, Ruth is actually asking for the protective covering that a husband provides through marriage.

(God tells husbands specifically not to “cover” their wives with violence. “For the Lord, the God of Israel, says: I hate divorce  . . .  and him who covers his garment [his wife] with violence” (Malachi 2:16, Amplified).

Lay down. Following the example of Christ Himself, a husband lays down his life for his covenant partner (Ephesians 5:25; 1 John 3:16). He lays down his singleness, his selfishness, and his self-focus.

Encourage radiance. The goal of a husband’s ministry to his wife is to encourage her radiance.  Just as Christ works for the radiance of His Bride, so a godly man nurtures the emotional health and spiritual thriving of his wife.

Eugene Peterson paraphrases it this way: When Christ speaks to His bride, His words “evoke her beauty. Everything he does and says is designed to bring the best out of her, dressing her in dazzling white silk, radiant with holiness. And that is how husbands ought to love their wives. They’re really doing themselves a favor—since they’re already ‘one’ in marriage.” (Ephesians 5:25-28, MSG)

Her radiance becomes his joy–it’s a win/win situation!

Always love. Husbands are called to love their wives with agape love, which is an unconditional commitment to give to another. The apostle Paul wrote, “Husbands, love your wives [be affectionate and sympathetic with them] and do not be harsh or bitter or resentful toward them” (Colossians 3:19, Amplified).

Value.  The Scriptures direct men to respect their wives as equals before God:
“[Y]ou husbands must give honor to your wives. … [Your wife] is your equal partner in God’s gift of new life. Treat her as you should so your prayers will not be hindered.” (1 Peter 3:7, NLT)

A successful man values the God-designed strengths and abilities of his wife, as well as her innate worth as an immortal spirit created in the image of God. “The man who finds a wife finds a treasure, and he receives favor from the Lord”      (Proverbs 18:22, NLT).

Enjoy!  “Relish life with the spouse you love,” said wise King Solomon (Ecclesiastes 9:9, MSG).  Any husband is wise, too, who determines to enjoy the unique gifting and beauty of his covenant partner.

The man who CLEAVEs is a mighty man, indeed! To CLEAVE is to move toward unusual greatness and remarkable success, for the calling of a godly husband is nothing less than to reveal the character of God Himself.

 

“Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh” (Genesis 2:24, KJV).

 

Delight and the Power of Yada (Part 3 of 3)

That the Creator of the universe should desire to know us deeply and to love us in the knowing is amazing. That He should desire that we know Him deeply and love Him in the knowing is staggering. God comes to us with His desire to know when we bring to Him our desire to be known. God longs for us to respond to His desire to be known with our desire to know.

Convinced that His love toward us is absolutely unfailing and completely trustworthy, we can lay ourselves fully open before the Lord. Believing that His love is perfect casts out our fear so that we are able to lay ourselves bare before God, refusing to run, refusing to create inner noise, and insisting instead on being still in His Presence. In this safe place, we find that His correction to us, if needed, is not condemnation; it is liberation. When Lazarus emerges from the grave, he is not shamed; instead, he is welcomed, and the binding strips of cloth are removed from him.

But there is more–much more. Within this yada relationship, there is this:

I lay my entire self open before God to be known and to be loved by Him. From head to toe–from inside to out–every pore of my spirit is laid open before Him. As the sun can penetrate and warm everything that is laid in its rays of light, so God comes to all of me that is willingly laid before Him–laid before Him with my full trust of Him and with my eager desire for Him. Where I submit, He loves me well, and there is healing in that loving. Where I yield, He loves me well, and there is joy in that loving.

Every part of our lives that is willingly opened to God becomes spiritual thread that God uses to weave us together in connection with Him. God uses our willingness to be known and our desire to know Him to knit our spirits in union with Himself. Such union is both the power and the delight of yada.

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To Know: the Power of Yada (Part 2 of 3)

The Hebrew word yada can be used broadly to mean “to know.” However, it can also be used in a specific way to refer to knowing personally and directly. Yada often means involvement, revealing, or relational intimacy. It can even refer to physical intimacy, as in Genesis 4:1: “Now Adam knew Eve his wife, and she conceived and bore Cain” (KJV).[i]

We learn through the Scriptures that God desires a yada relationship with us.

He wants to know us through direct involvement and committed relationship, creating spiritual intimacy with us. In Amos 3:2, God tells Israel, “You only have I known.” Yada here must refer to a special type of knowing, for certainly God has knowledge of every nation. God’s knowledge of His people is an exclusive experience.

Not only can God know us in an intimate way, but He offers Molnár József: Ábrahám kiköltözéseto be known by us in a personal way. Unlike Adam and his descendants who have a propensity for hiding from covenant partners, God offers to reveal Himself to those who have committed themselves to Him. After establishing a friendship with Abraham, God asks Himself, “Shall I hide from Abraham what I am doing?” God decides that He will not hide His plans from His friend; instead, He will reveal His intentions to Abraham. God explains, “For I have known [yada] him” (Genesis 18:17, 19, NKJV).

Several hundred years later, God announces that He is going to reveal Himself further to the Israelites: for the first time, He will let His covenant people know Him by His personal Name. He tells Moses, “I appeared to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, as God Almighty, but by my name the LORD I did not make myself known [yada] to them” (Exodus 6:3, ESV). This is a profound offer of personal disclosure and relationship.

knowIsaiah writes that God’s people have been chosen to know (yada) Him (43:10). Another prophet, Jeremiah, tells us that God will give us “a heart to know [yada]” Him (24:7, NIV).

Psalm 139

Psalm 139 begins with repeated amazement that there is nothing that God does not know about the psalmist. Certainly, God knows every detail of our lives, even when we are heavily masked, cleverly camouflaged, and deeply hidden in our best burrows. Yet at the end of this beautiful song, the writer invites God to know (yada) his heart and to know (yada) his thoughts. Having first acknowledged God’s factual knowledge of him, the psalmist is now asking for God’s experiential knowledge of him. Before God, to whom all things are laid bare factually, we can bring ourselves to be known experientially through relationship.

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[i] Vine, W.E. Vine’s Concise Dictionary of the Bible. Nashville: Nelson. 2005.

 

Seen Any Pictures of Worship Lately?

How can we best understand the essence of worship? There may be no better illustration of spiritual worship than physical marriage. What marriage is between a man and woman is what worship is between God and His people. Although marriage and worship are expressed in and enhanced by activity, both marriage and worship are primarily matters of relationship.

In marriage, I choose a man to be my husband, I commit to belonging to him, I celebrate him, and I value him above all else. This tells me what it means to worship God! To worship God is to choose Him to be my God, to commit to belonging to Him, to celebrate Him, and to value Him above all else.

In our marriages, we love by eagerly serving, by giving ourselves for another’s delight, and by delighting in another. We live lives of worship as we serve God eagerly, give ourselves to Him for His delight, and delight in Him.

Marriage is how we participate in an intimate covenant relationship with another human being; worship is how we participate in an intimate covenant relationship with God.

 

To the Husband who Seeks Reconciliation

I salute you!

reconciliationYour heart for reconciliation reveals the very heart of God, and your faithfulness to covenant reflects the faithfulness of God, which “reaches to the skies.” We will break our loyalty to our covenant partners the day God breaks His loyalty to us, His covenant partners.

I commend you for your commitment, even though it means battling upstream against the culture and against spiritual forces. Instead of harming you, this struggle will instead strengthen you into the greatness for which you were created.

When a man makes a covenant vow to a woman, he is bound before God to thatreconciliation commitment until death breaks the bond. Even if his covenant partner loses heart, he can remain committed to her, regardless of what she does, and remain committed to peace. Without pushing, pulling, or demanding, he can stand with his feet planted in unshakable, unmovable commitment to the partner. Her reactions do not change his commitment. The covenant-keeping husband, even when divorced, can be a rock of commitment to his covenant partner. He is willing to suffer for her good. His goal—his unchanging goal—is to love well.

God will fully satisfy and delight you. He may use your covenant partner to do that, or He may not. It does not matter how He does it; He will do it. He will do it so that you know that He is the great Treasure; anything else would be deception and disappointment. He knows how to love you, and He knows how to love you well.

“But you, O LORD, are a shield about me, my glory, and the lifter of my head.” Ps. 3:3, ESV

“For the LORD God is our sun and our shield. He gives us grace and glory. The LORD will withhold no good thing from those who do what is right.” Ps. 84:11, NIV

Cheering for you,
Tami

 

 

 

 

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