Category Archives: relationships

Overcoming the Overwhelming

We make complicated messes.
God gives simple instructions.
The enemy tries to confuse and bewilder and overwhelm.
We try to figure out the tangled, jumbled-up complexities;
but with each broken piece we pick up,
we become more perplexed.
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God gives simple instructions.
“Humble yourselves.”
We may not like God’s instructions, but they are simple.
“Forgive.”
They may not be easy, but they are simple.
“Serve.”
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God says, “What’s in your hand?”
With what we have, we can love.
Wash feet.
Show kindness.
Move toward.
Be for.
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We have complicated messes of “he said; she said; but he didn’t; and then she did….”
God says,
“Be still.
Know that I am God.
Trust Me,
and love.”

What Are You Celebrating?

Interested in a FUN way to strengthen your relationships, including your marriage?

Through an extensive review of studies on productivity and relationships, blogger Eric Barker discovered a common factor. He realized that this one thing strengthened friendships, boosted success in the work place, increased happiness, and strengthened motivation:

celebration!¹

celebrating

In summarizing his findings, Eric made this unexpected suggestion:

Want a better relationship? Spend more time celebrating the good things.

He explained further: “Studies show divorce isn’t usually caused by an increase in problems. It’s often caused by a decrease in positive feelings.”

Here is how Eric summed it up:

Stop trying to fix the bad and focus on relishing the good. That’s what makes marriages last.

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Of course, there may be things in your marriage that must be addressed and boundaries that must be maintained. However, we can easily become consumed with problems and fixated on the negative.

We forget the core of marriage: delighting in one another.

God delights in us, and He longs for us to delight in Him. When we forget to center our lives on enjoying Christ and savoring Him, we become spiritually dry. The Christian life becomes one of effort and plodding duty. But when we relish the generous goodness and lavish love of Christ, we thrive. We gain spiritual radiance.

Our marriages are similar. When our relationships are all effort and duty, we become unbalanced, and we snuff out the sparks of joy.

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I love seeing how much God values celebration! The words “celebrate” and “celebration” appear in the NLT version of the Bible 131 times. God created many amazing feasts for His people to celebrate every year, and He is preparing for us the most incredible celebration of all, “the wedding feast of the Lamb” (Revelation 19:7, NLT).

You weren’t about to say that you have nothing to celebrate, were you? That’s good because

you can always celebrate!

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All you need is a grateful heart. Add a balloon, or a bit of confetti, a handmade sign, a plate of cookies, or even a single candle in a muffin, and—viola!—you have a celebration.

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Celebrate the good things you have received from God. Celebrate daily victories, little joys, small steps, warm smiles.

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Relish life with the spouse you love
Each and every day … (Ecclesiastes 9:9, MSG).

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Celebrate the big stuff, and celebrate the little things, too. Celebrate with gratitude to God, who is the Giver of every good thing.

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Here’s something to celebrate: Pentecost is coming up soon! This festive holy-day will be on May 15 this year.  Be sure to take a minute–or a meal–to celebrate the awesome gift of God’s Spirit to His people.

BookCoverImageMy family and I have enjoyed celebrating God’s good gifts to us through simple adaptations of the Biblical feasts. To share these activities with others, I recently wrote a book entitled, Simple Celebrations: Practical Ways to Enjoy the Biblical Feasts.

This book provides step-by- step instructions for celebrating God’s goodness through the symbolism and festivity of the Biblical feasts. Simple Celebrations explains how to enjoy Passover, Pentecost, the Feast of Tabernacles, Hanukkah, and Purim in meaningful ways. The book is available on Amazon in both paperback and Kindle formats.

 

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So … what you are celebrating?

Blessings to you,
Tami

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¹http://www.bakadesuyo.com/2016/05/way-to-improve/

 

The Seven Rings of Marriage

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

Seven Rings

The High Value of Marriage

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

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

Champion Husbands

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

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

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

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

How to Restore Friendship in Your Marriage:

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

Image courtesy of Ambro at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

How to Enrich Your Prayer Time with Your Spouse:

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

The Model Husband

Here is some further advice from Jackie:

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Blessing: 5 Elements of a Life-Changing Gift

Earlier this month, Gary Smalley crossed the finish line and entered heaven. I was one of the many who were blessed by his writing and speaking.  As he ran the race that God had marked out for him, Gary shared some wonderful truths that he was learning along the way.

Be a Blessing!

Gary Smalley wrote sixteen award-winning books, selling over five million copies. One of those best-sellers was The Blessing, co-authored with John Trent. The Blessing explains how we can give a powerful blessing to our children, our spouses, our parents, and our friends.

Bless Your Children

Parents can give their children a life-changing blessing. In Biblical times, this blessing was a important, well-understood part of  family life.

Do you remember the Biblical story of Jacob and Esau as they battled for their father’s blessing? The Genesis account is dramatic and heart-wrenching.

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In our culture today, we are not familiar with the concept of blessing, but it is just as important as ever. If we do not receive a blessing from our parents, that sense of loss can plague us our entire lives.

Our desire for the approval and affirmation of our parents is a strong, innate longing. It is critically important to learn how to give this great treasure to our children.

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There are five elements of the blessing:

  1. meaningful touch

  2. a spoken message of love and acceptance

  3. attaching “high value” to the person being blessed

  4. picturing a special future for that person

  5. an active commitment to fulfill the blessing[i]

Bless Your Spouse

Giving a blessing to our spouses will also make a profound difference in our marriages.couple

  1. We can touch in ways that convey concern, affection, and encouragement.
  2. Every day, we can speak words of admiration, gratitude, and appreciation.
  3. We can choose to attach high value to our spouses, and we can be deliberate in expressing that high value to them.

In Hebrew, to “bow the knee” is the root meaning of blessing. … Bowing before someone is a graphic picture of valuing that person. … Anytime we bless someone, we are attaching high value to him or her. [ii]

  1. We can picture a future for our spouses that is full of hope, growth, success, and joy.
  2. We can express active commitment to our spouses. This is the “glue” that holds the blessing together.

In fact, this final element of the blessing is at the heart of “cleaving” in a marriage. When the Scriptures tell us to “cleave to our spouse” (Gen. 2:24), the root word in Hebrew means “to cling, to be firmly attached.”[iii]

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Bless Your Friends

You can bless your friends with these same five elements. The fantastic friendship of David and Jonathan provides a great model. If you review their story, you will see how they gave each element of blessing to one another. (See 1 Samuel 18 and 20.)

And Be Blessed!

The one who blesses others is abundantly blessed.”[iv]

If you are God’s child and His friend, He will give you His blessing, which is the richest of all blessings.

  1. You can feel His touch through His Spirit within you. God says that He holds your hand. (Isaiah 41:13)
  2. You can hear His words of love through the Scripture. (Jeremiah 31:3)
  3. You can be amazed by the high value which He attaches to you. (Genesis 1:27, Deuteronomy 7:6, Psalm 147:11, Zephaniah 3:17, Isaiah 43:4, Isaiah 49:15-16, Zechariah 2:8, Romans 8:32, Ephesians 1:3-5)
  4. You can look forward to the glorious future that He has planned for you. (Jeremiah 29:11, Philippians 1:6, Revelation 21:4)
  5. You can rest in His active, loyal commitment to you. (Deuteronomy 41:8, Psalm 136, Psalm 94:14)

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We are going through The Red Sea Rules on our weekly prayer call, held every Thursday. You are invited to pray with us!  You can join us HERE. You can also listen to past recordings HERE.

May God bless you and your home with His life-giving power as you celebrate Resurrection Sunday this weekend!

Blessings to you,
Tami

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[i] p. 25. Thomas Nelson, 1986.

[ii] p. 67

[iii] p. 177

[iv] Proverbs 11:25, MSG

Handling Hurt: 5 Steps for Healing

We live in a world of hurt, don’t we?

We are not quite the walking dead, but we are the walking wounded. We know how to feel hurt and how to cause hurt, but who knows how to heal?

Mercifully, “the God of all comfort” specializes in healing. As our tender-hearted Physician, God provides a five-step prescription for handling hurt. These principles are effective in treating our injured hearts, whether the wounds are minor or severe.

The first step is easy:

1. Say, “Ouch!”

Acknowledging pain is a great place to start because saying, “ouch!”  focuses attention on an area that may need treatment.

Just remember to say, “I’m hurting” without throwing any emotional punches yourself!

2. Put your wound in the Light.

As you bring the situation to the Lord, let your heart be fully exposed.

“Everything exposed by the light [of Christ] is made clear,
for what makes everything clear is light.”
Ephesians 5:13-14, HCSB

Talk to God with honesty and openness. He will talk to you with love and wisdom.

“Pour out your hearts like water to the Lord.
Lift up your hands to him in prayer….”
Lamentations 2:19, NLT

“But for you who fear [the LORD’s] name,
the Sun of Righteousness will rise with healing in his wings.”
Malachi 4:2, NLT

Just as the rays of sunshine penetrate your body with warmth when you lie in the sun, so the soothing rays of Christ will penetrate your spirit with healing as you lay your heart open before Him.

3. Allow the antiseptic of His Presence to cover the situation.

Put your eyes on your Lord, knowing that He has put His eyes on your pain. Ask Christ to put His Hands all over the situation, as you take your controlling or punishing hands off.

Take Him up on His incredible offer to “take your hits” and to be your Shield. (See Psalm 18:2, 84:11, and 91:4.) Accept His unbelievable offer to carry the weight of this situation. (See Isaiah 53:4 and Matthew 11:28.)

“But You, Lord, are a shield around me,
my glory, and the One who lifts up my head.”
Psalm 3:3, HCSB

When God belongs to you as your God, then your pain belongs to Him as His pain. Every hurt given to Christ is redeemed, for He knows how to use every drop of pain to gain a far-exceeding glory. He knows how to turn the ashes of your pain inside out into the beauty of joy (Isaiah 61:3).

“For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long.
Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever!”
2 Corinthians 4:17, NLT

4. Guard against spiritual infection.

Be vigilant in preventing contamination from your own unhealthy responses, such as fear or anger. The Scriptures urge great caution against the spiritual virus of bitterness, which contaminates and spreads quickly (Hebrews 12:15).

Maintain zero-tolerance for toxic bitterness, vengeance (including the silent treatment), and poisonous self-pity (which is resentment in disguise). 

“See to it … that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many.”
Hebrews 12:15, NIV

 5. Apply the potent, soothing promises of Scripture.

God promises to heal our inner wounds through His Word: “He sent His word and healed them” (Psalm 107:20, HCSB). 

“He heals the brokenhearted and bandages their wounds.”
Psalm 147:3, NLT

Soak in the healing waters of God’s truth until they seep into the very pores of your spirit.

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hurt

hurt

“Then your salvation will come like the dawn, and your wounds will quickly heal” (Isaiah 58:8, NLT).

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A Different Kind of Valentine

I just spent an hour reading Valentine’s Day cards in a couple stores today. I am quite sure that I will be seeing red hearts when I close my eyes tonight.

Valentine

Spending an hour looking at greeting cards might sound painful to you. But that’s not the pitiful part. The sad thing is that I did not find a card for my husband, after all that.

But I have an idea:
[Click HERE to continue reading the article at StartMarriageRight.com.]

Happy Valentine’s Day to you!
Tami

 

 

Christmas Prayer

In Psalm 18:35, God says that He stoops down to make us great. Isn’t that incredible?

I think that also sums up the wonderful message of Christmas: God came down to lift us up. How amazing!

I wrote about Psalm 18:35, Christmas, and marriage in “A Christmas Prayer for Our Marriages.” Click on the image to read the prayer.

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Merry Christmas!

Blessings to you,
Tami

Battling Bitterness

A Strategy to Target Bitterness

If I were your enemy, I’d use every opportunity to bring old wounds to mind. … I’d try to ensure that your heart was hardened with anger and bitterness. Shackled through unforgiveness.” (page 151)

With this insight, Priscilla Shirer begins her discussion of a prayer strategy to combat bitterness. Battling bitterness is not only a very common struggle, but it is also an especially fierce one, don’t you think?

Here are some more excerpts from the chapter entitled, “Your Hurts,” from the book Fervent:

  • Your spiritual enemy, Satan, “wants you long-term angry. And he can use even the lightest offense to do it. … He wants your heart coated with the calluses of resentment, crippled by offenses from your past. Unforgiveness is his design to ‘outwit’ you—to keep you not only bruised and bleeding but unable to experience any power in your prayers or intimacy with your Father.” (157)
  • The enemy of your soul “wants you baking in unforgiveness until your spiritual life is hard and crisp around the edges. Lifeless. Comatose. But Jesus … He wants you free. That’s what He created you for.” (159)
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  • “Unforgiveness puts us in prime position for demonic influence and activity to take advantage of us.” (169)
  • The “forgiveness you don’t have any desire to give right now can be amazingly enabled through prayer. … The real facts and details don’t change as you get real with God in prayer. But get ready for some other pieces of information to bubble up to the surface as well, as the Spirit and the Scripture come together in agreement on how you need to handle things.” (161)
  • “The enemy, of course, will want you to balk at this part. He’s been banking on keeping these solutions hidden from you and convincing you that anger and bitterness are the most productive, protective ways of managing the situation.” (161-162)
  • “Forgiveness is God’s command. And it comes with a promise that He will provide us the companion power to pull it off. Don’t expect any other solution to work or to change anything, except for the worse.” (162)

3 Steps to Victory

We can demolish enemy lies with God’s truth. We can follow the three steps of spiritual warfare to destroy the enemy attack of bitterness:

  1. When we are bitter, we are believing a lie—always. So the first step is to ask God, “What specific lie am I believing?” Perhaps we think, “Someone else is ruining God’s good plans for me,” or “I am missing out on something good.” Maybe we believe the lie that we must be in control in order to be happy, or the lie that our worth is based on how others treat us.
  2. The second step is to identify Scripture that replaces the lie with truth. I can’t believe that someone else is messing up God’s plan for me if I believe Job 42:2:bitterness
    I can’t believe that I am missing out on something good if I believe Psalm 84:11:bitterness
  1. The third step is to flood your thinking and your spirit with the water of the Word so that the lie is washed away.

A Surprising Truth about Bitterness

God is helping me to understand this startling truth:

My struggle to forgive is actually a struggle with God.

I think I am wrestling in my spirit with someone who has wronged me. But that is another lie! Here is the truth:

I am wrestling with God,
saying that He should not have allowed this to happen,
and saying that He is not taking good care of me.

When I recognize this lie, I can target the real problem in my spirit. I can reorient my thinking. God wants to transform me through the renewal of my mind (Romans 12:2).  I can choose to trust the goodness of God. I can rest in knowing that my Good Shepherd really is taking good care of me.

When I trust the goodness of God, I experience His peace.

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The light of His Presence utterly dispels the darkness of bitterness.

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May the Spirit of God enable us to keep our eyes on Jesus, to cast ourselves upon His goodness, and to rest in His immense love.

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Last call for a giveaway copy of Fervent:

prayer strategies

Just let me know by Friday, December 11, if you would like a chance to win a complimentary copy of Fervent, and I will enter your name into the drawing.

 

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.

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Mailbox image is courtesy of digitalart at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

 

Questions about Sex and Marriage (Part 3)

Today, I would like to share one last peek into Juli Slattery’s new book, 25 Questions You’re Afraid to Ask about Love, Sex, and Intimacy. Last week, I discussed a couple of those questions about sex and marriage, and today I would like to look at the last two:

questions about sex and marriage

Chapter 24: How do we fight without hurting each other?

After hearing many marriage experts say that fighting is an unavoidable part of marriage, I am cheering to hear Dr. Slattery say that fighting is actually optional. Yes! It is inevitable that two different people will have two different perspectives, but fighting is optional.

That is some good news to share! There are healthy ways to work through differences without resorting to fighting.

Here are several quotes from this chapter:

Most important issues in a marriage don’t have to be resolved today. … Although it may feel like you need resolution, find your own peace in bringing the issue before the Lord before seeking peace with your spouse. (page 203)

God is teaching me that I could win every argument and still lose my marriage. That perspective helps me practice the self-control and humility required to do conflict well. (205)

Switching from a pattern of fighting … means refusing to make your spouse the enemy and being patient to wait until the right time and setting to talk the issues through in a loving manner.  (206)

You’ll get no fight from me on those points.

Chapter 25: Why wouldn’t God want me to be happy?

This kind of thinking can really trip us up, can’t it?

Here are some of Juli’s thoughts on this topic:

My friend, it requires great faith living within our fallen world to believe that honoring God with every relationship and sexual choice is worthwhile. You may be teased, mocked, and have some lonely seasons. Even then, your loving Father is for your deepest joy. (215)

The question is not about how much God loves you, but how much you love Him. … It is in loving Him and seeking Him that you will find your greatest happiness. (215)

Yes, that’s right! God longs to love us better than we could ever love ourselves. We can trust Him.

questions about sex and marriage

Again, I recommend this very practical book by Juli Slattery.

How you live out your sexuality may seem like a personal decision, but it also tells the world what you believe about God. (214)

I have one copy of 25 Questions to give away, courtesy of Moody Publishers. If you are interested in a chance to win, simply leave a comment on this post or reply by email. You may enter the drawing more than once, but no later than November 10.

Blessings to you,
Tami

 

 

 

25 Questions (Part 2)

Last week, I recommended to you Juli Slattery’s new book, 25 Questions You’re Afraid to Ask about Love, Sex, and Intimacy.

Today and again next week, I want to share several of Juli’s gracious answers to those awkward questions.

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Chapter 1: What’s the big deal about sex?

I was interested to read Juli’s basic “theology” of sex. If someone does not have this foundational piece well-grounded in Biblical truth, then the other pieces may not be solid, either. However, I think Juli is right-on-track with statements such as these:

“[Y]our sexuality is inseparable from your spirituality. In fact, every sexual choice is also a spiritual choice. Sex isn’t just about sex.” (p. 16)

The “walls we build between the sexual and spiritual are only imagery.Confusion and hidden pain related to sex is intricately intertwined with our present relationship with God.” (16)

“God created sex and the covenant of marriage to be a brilliant metaphor of how deeply He knows us and longs for us to know Him.” (16)

“Sexual intimacy is a powerful picture of the gospel—of the degree of intimacy and ecstasy we are capable of having with God.” (17)

What an important understanding! Sex has physical components, obviously, but it is an immensely powerful force—for good or for evil—because of its spiritual dimension. We cannot determine whether particular sexual practices and attitudes are healthy or destructive without knowing that physical marriage parallels spiritual covenant. Unfortunately, in our culture and even in many churches, this is a completely foreign concept.

Chapter 16: How can I compete with porn?

MIM_WRAP_2015-03
Click on the graphic for a great list of resources for combating porn.

I want to highlight this question because October 25-31 is WRAP week, designed to focus on the fight against pornography. Porn is a vicious destroyer of marriages, families, and everyone it touches.

Longing for intimacy and affection, many wives feel they must compete with porn. However, this is a phony set-up. Porn does not provide true intimacy and has nothing to do with affection. (By the way, the ministry that Juli Slattery now leads is called Authentic Intimacy.)

In this chapter on porn, Juli writes:

“Ironically, porn can’t even compete with itself. A man using porn doesn’t go back to the same picture or video, but always wants something new …. However, we must remember that porn is NOT intimacy; it is a cheap counterfeit. Your husbands needs more than sex; he was designed for intimacy.” (134)

Juli also provides this encouraging reminder:

“As rampant as pornography and sexual addictions have become, God is still in the business of healing.” (135)

So, how do you compete with porn? You don’t! When you discover mold in your walls, do you try to compete? Of course not. Porn is not something to compete with; it is something to fight against. It is something to resist and defeat.

Interested in a copy of 25 Questions?Image courtesy of digitalart at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Compliments of Moody Publishers, I am able to give away one copy of 25 Questions.  If you would like a chance to receive this book, simply leave a reply to this post (or email me), and your name will be entered into the drawing. You may enter more than once.

Blessings to you!
Tami

 

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Image courtesy of digitalart at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

25 Questions about Sex (and 25 Great Answers!)

Hot-off-the-presses of Moody Publishers is this new book by Dr. Juli Slattery:

25 Questions You’re Afraid to Ask about Love, Sex, and Intimacy.

25 Questions

If Juli’s name is familiar to you, you may recall that Dr. Slattery was Dr. Dobson’s cohost on Focus on the Family from 2010-2012. A clinical psychologist, Juli has been married for almost 20 years, and she is the mother of three boys.

25 Questions

25 Questions You’re Afraid to Ask is easy to read and well organized. Each chapter in this paperback book is fairly short. (The longest is only nine pages.) Written in a stand-alone style, the chapters may be read in any order. The material is very practical and certainly relevant to many. Although the book addresses women, much of the discussion would be just as applicable to men.

Do I recommend this book?

Absolutely.

I recommend 25 Questions because Juli’s counsel is solidly grounded in Scripture. We may ask the 25 questions with fear, but Juli answers them with grace and insight.

Juli treads a couple “gray areas” more tentatively than I would. Once or twice, she uses a broader brush than I would have chosen, but I agree with her conclusions. Her advice is godly, springing not only from personal experience and extensive counseling, but especially from the wisdom of Scripture.

Here are some of the questions that we’re afraid to ask:

  1. What’s the big deal about sex?
  2. Who are you to judge my sexual choices?
  3. Can I be single and sexual?
  4. Is it wrong to like sex?
  5. And I waited for this?
  6. Why do guys care so much about sex?
  7. Is ____ okay in the bedroom? (You fill in the blank!)
  8. What do my temptations say about me?
  9. How do I get past my shame?
  10. How do I know he is the one?
  11. How far is too far?
  12. Is living together a good test run for marriage?
  13. What if I’m attracted to someone else?
  14. How can I compete with porn?
  15. Can I be godly and gay?
  16. How do I rebuild trust after a betrayal?
  17. Does forgiveness mean I’ll be hurt again?
  18. What if I don’t like sex?
  19. How do I make time to make love?
  20. How do we fight without hurting each other?
  21. Why wouldn’t God want me to be happy?

Over the next couple weeks, I will be sharing a few “choice nuggets” from 25 Questions and summarizing several of Juli’s responses.

Blessings to you!
Tami

5 Smooth Pebbles for You (printable Scriptures)

For you today:

I would like to share  five Scriptures that I pray will be an encouragement, refreshment, and strength to you.

When David prepared to meet the fierce giant Goliath,  he put five smooth pebbles in his pouch for his slingshot.  We need to do the same thing!  As we encounter spiritual opposition, our best weapon is the powerful truth of Scripture.

If you would like to print a PDF of these Scriptures, click HERE.

Blessings to you,
Tami

Scriptures Psalm 84:11
Scriptures Psalm 113:3 (photo credit: Mary McKee)


Scriptures Job 42:2

 

Scriptures Zephaniah 3:17

 

Scriptures Psalm 138:8

“War Room”

I saw War Room last night.

war room

This new movie has a fantastic message:

PRAY FOR YOUR MARRIAGE!

The right way to fight in marriage is by fighting on our knees through prayer. We want to fight for our spouses, not against them. We must ask God to fight the real enemy, the spiritual forces of darkness.

Elizabeth, the praying wife in War Room, reads these amazing words in James 4:7:

Submit yourselves, then, to God.
Resist the devil, and he will flee from you” (NIV).

As she ponders that incredible promise, Elisabeth sets a beautiful example of submitting herself to God in prayer. She then proceeds to resist Satan by shouting at him, which I am not ready to endorse as the best means of resisting Satan. Although she says that now she is going to let God do the fighting for her, Elisabeth actually tries to do a little direct fighting herself. The Warrior Wife tells Satan, “Go back to hell, where you belong!” It seems to me that that directive should come from Christ. I prefer to follow the example of Michael, the powerful archangel. In a dispute with Satan, Michael “did not dare bring an abusive condemnation against him but said, ‘The Lord rebuke you!'” (Jude 1:9, HCSB).

I am not wanting to be critical. I just want to add this surprising and encouraging truth:

Our submission to God IS resistance to the devil.

Pushing into God is pushing back against the enemy. We sometimes spend a lot of time and energy trying to hold the door closed against Satan. We might forget that our victory comes from something else: it comes from yielding entirely to the Spirit, allowing His Presence and Power to fill us so completely that nothing else can intrude. In other words, instead of trying to hold the door shut against the enemy, I can lay myself down in openness to the Spirit.

I encourage you to see War Room.

I am delighted to see a movie playing in the theatres that honors God, that seeks to strengthen marriages, and that promotes Scripture-based, persistent prayer.

war room

Most of all, I encourage you to pray!

Let’s pray for our own hearts. Let’s pray for our marriages and families. Let’s pray for the people that God has placed in our lives.

And let’s pray the Scriptures. In doing so, our will becomes one with God’s will, and through that unity, power is unleashed, miracles are birthed, and ashes are turned into beauty.

I also invite you to join our ongoing “war room” every Thursday (at 12:30, Eastern time). For 15 minutes, we “fight on our knees” for our marriages and families. Join online or by phone.

Battle on!

Ready for a Challenge?

Here’s one that will strengthen your marriage:  a 30-day prayer challenge.

prayer challenge

During the month of September, FamilyLife is offering a “Oneness Prayer Challenge.” For 30 days, FamilyLife will text or email to you a short devotional and prayer that you and your spouse can share together.

One of the most powerful things you can do for your marriage is to pray with your spouse. One study found that praying together reduces the rate of divorce to less than 1 in 1,000. Wow!

Praying together seems like a simple thing to do, doesn’t it? Well, it may be simple in concept, but it can be difficult to implement!

If you have not yet established a praying-together habit with your spouse, the Oneness Challenge will be a great help in getting started with that. After 30 days, you will have created a habit that will bless your marriage for a lifetime!

Praying together does not have to take a lot of time. Start with just 2 or 3 minutes.

And praying together does not have to be intimidating. You might begin by simply holding hands and praying together silently. When you are comfortable with that, try reading a short prayer aloud. Progress from there.

If you and your spouse already pray together,  the daily devotionals in the Oneness Challenge will encourage you, and the prayers will add a fresh richness to your own.

If your spouse is not willing to pray with you, you can still benefit from using the Oneness Challenge as you pray for your marriage.

“The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results.”
James 5:16, NLT

You can sign-up here to receive the 30-day Oneness Challenge by email or text:  Prayer Challenge.

Praying with you!

 

Top 10 Tips for Marriage [with graphic]

What are your best marriage tips?

I recently listed my top 10 tips for marriage here: 10 Simple-but-Powerful Ways to Build Your Marriage.

The article explains each tip, but this chart gives a summary of the ten points:

top 10 tips for marriage

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What would you add to that list? I would be interested to hear your suggestions.

Blessings to you,
Tami

Forgiveness as Resurrection

Jesus was not the first person to be raised from the dead.

forgivenessHis disciples had seen Lazarus walk out of a tomb after being dead for four days. They had seen Jesus lift a dead boy out of his coffin and back into life.

But as amazing as those things were, they did not affect the disciples the way the resurrection of Jesus did. Seeing the resurrected Christ changed His followers dramatically. They became obsessed with the resurrection of Christ. The resurrection  became the basis for their faith and the driving force for their lives.

The resurrection of Christ is absolutely unique in all of history:

Others were raised from the dead, but Jesus Christ raised Himself.[i]

He defeated death from within.

Before He died, Jesus made this startling prediction: “Destroy this temple [that is, my body], and in three days I will raise it up” (John 2:19-22, NIV). Jesus told His disciples, “No one takes [my life] from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again” (John 10:18, NIV).

forgiveness

Christ chose to walk into death and then to walk back out, demonstrating a power greater than the power of death. Lazarus and others were given a temporary reprieve from death: they were retrieved from death for a while, but then they died again.

But Christ won more than a postponement; He actually conquered death. He faced it head-on and completely dominated it.

The core of our faith, just like that of the early believers, is the Resurrection of Christ. Death is the fierce power of our sin, but there is a power that is even greater: the purity, the deity, and the love of Christ constitute an absolutely unsurpassed power.

We sometimes fear that forgiving means surrender or passivity. Nothing could be farther from the truth:

Forgiveness is looking evil in the eye, calling it what it is, and then proclaiming victory.

Forgiveness rises taller and stronger than the evil that came against it. It removes the “sting” of evil by removing the harm from the hurt[ii]. It removes the poison of bitterness and the curse of resentment.
forgivenessWhen we are hurt by others, we experience something like a death: there is a kind of grieving, perhaps the ending of a relationship as it had been, and there may even be—as Lazarus’ sister pointed out—a “bad smell” to the whole affair. But forgiveness says, “This is not the end of the story.”

After His crucifixion, the body of Christ was placed in a borrowed tomb, not His own. Similarly, forgiving involves walking into someone else’s evil, not our own. We stand for a moment in the dark “tomb” of someone else’s sin, but then, like Christ, we choose to walk out into the garden, where the Spirit makes all things new.AAM8X0DRXY

This is why Christ-followers must forgive:

Forgiveness is the Resurrection again.

A49952BF7AForgiveness is first the Cross raised as an identifying banner over us. Forgiveness is then the Resurrection, demonstrating the power of the Spirit of God within us. He brings the power to obliterate evil and to transform ashes into beauty.

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When given the opportunity to forgive, we can respond to our debtors with these truths in our hearts:

You hurt me, but I will not hurt you back.

My willingness to forgive you is my willingness for God to forgive me.

When God poured out the riches of His grace to me, He included all the grace that I would need to pass on to you.

I do not seek your punishment. I seek your redemption and your healing.

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How has forgiveness brought Resurrection power into your life?

{Read Part One of this series here: A Spiritual WMD.
Read Part Two here: Forgiveness as Self-Help?
And read Part Three here: Forgiveness: A Power Way to Hold Out the Cross.}

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[i] The Resurrection was an awesome performance of the Trinity, the Son acting in concert with the Father (Galatians 1:1) and the Spirit (Romans 8:11).
[ii] 1 Corinthians 15:55

Forgiveness: A Powerful Way to Hold Out the Cross

Bitterness can destroy us.

We understand that.

But do we understand why? Why does our refusal to forgive cause such serious harm to us?

Unforgiveness deforms us because it is rooted in a lie.

As with all sin, it binds us in spiritual enslavement because bitterness denies the truth that sets us free.

Resentment denies the truth of Deuteronomy 23:5, which says that God turns curses into blessings for us because He loves us.

forgiveness

It denies the truth of Jeremiah 29:11 and Job 42:2, which assure us that God’s plans for us are good and that they cannot be thwarted.

forgiveness

Bitterness also denies this startling truth: as forgiven Christ-followers, we do not have the right not to forgive. The liberating truth is that the spiritual work of atonement is finished. Physical consequences may still apply, but spiritual justice has been satisfied.

Bitterness cries out for justice. Forgiveness recognizes that spiritual justice has been served.

Forgiveness is not a matter of deciding not to press charges; it is a matter of recognizing that charges have already been settled. As I recognize that a penalty has already been paid, I can say to the one who has wronged me, “You do not owe me.” Spirit to spirit, there is no debt. Insisting on payment would actually be further injustice.

At the foot of the Cross, I stand next to those who have wronged me, for we are all sinners alike. If the blood flowing down from the pierced body of Christ is insufficient to reach my debtors beside me, then it does not reach me, either, for my sins against God far exceed the sins committed against me.

forgivenessForgiveness is full of power because it is full of truth: it is agreeing with God that the debt has been paid.

Justice has been written with whips and nails across the flesh of Christ. The full wrath of God poured out at Calvary even as red blood poured out.

Forgiveness is not something we choose to do as much as it is something we acknowledge: we recognize that the punishment for every wrong and every evil has been lashed and deeply striped across the back of Jesus.

The choice we must make is not whether or not we will forgive:

The choice we must make is whether or not we will be people of the Cross. If we choose to stand in the shadow of the Cross, then every facet of our lives also comes under that shadow of atonement.

Forgiveness, then, is not an isolated event or an extraordinary choice that we make. It is the air we breathe as believers; it is the rule of the Kingdom. It is the seamless way we live, for the Forgiving God lives within us. To deny forgiveness to someone else is to quench the Spirit within us.

It is not being wronged that disrupts the well-being of our spirits; the festering infection within us is our refusal to forgive. When I struggle to forgive someone, I am not wrestling with the one who wronged me as much as I am wrestling with the God who forgave me. My bitterness is my own rebellion against God.

God forgives us not because He denies our wrong or excuses it. He forgives our evil because He has paid the price for it. In fact, Hebrews 9:22 tells us that without the shedding of blood, there is no forgiveness. Every time we forgive, we are holding out the Cross and saying again, “It is finished.” The paying is finished.

It is the power of the Cross of Christ to move us from a place of punishment to a place of redemption. The work of transformation and restoration remains, but the work of atonement is finished.

forgivenessAs we forgive, we move from seeking punishment to seeking redemption.

Forgiving is the stamp of the Spirit upon our spirit, and it a powerful new proclaiming of the gospel. This “good news” declares that, although evil has been committed, justice has been satisfied. What remains is an invitation to healing and restoration.

Forgiveness says, “Although I have been hurt, I will not hurt you back.”

Forgiveness also says, “I will not feel sorry for myself.” This is possible because we know that God redeems our pain fully. “For our momentary light affliction is producing for us an absolutely incomparable eternal weight of glory” (2 Corinthians 4:17, HSCB).

I do not have to deny my pain or someone else’s evil in order to forgive. I do not have to wrestle with my emotions. Instead, I simply lay down the stone that I had wanted to throw in punishment, I walk away from my pity party, and I stand in the shadow of the Cross. And suddenly, I realize that I have forgiven.

The apostle Paul asked his friend Philemon to forgive Onesimus, the slave who had stolen from Philemon. Paul made this remarkable promise to Philemon:

If [Onesimus] has wronged you in any way or owes you anything, charge it to me. I, PAUL, WRITE THIS WITH MY OWN HAND: I WILL REPAY IT. AND I WON’T MENTION THAT YOU OWE ME YOUR VERY SOUL![i]

Paul was saying, “You can forgive this debt, Philemon, because I will pay it.” Paul said this because he knew that God had said the same thing to him.

When we are wronged, we can hear God say these very words to us, too. We can forgive our debtors because God has promised to repay us. He will repay what has been taken from us—and even more.

(This is the third in a series on forgiveness.  You can read Part One here: A Spiritual WMD, Part Two here: Forgiveness as Self-Help?
and Part Four here: Forgiveness as Resurrection.)

 

[i] Philemon 18-19, NLT

 

The Best Foundation for Marriage

MIMZ4PUM2FWhat creates the strongest base for an enduring, successful marriage?

We try to build our marriages on all kinds of things: on romance, on pleasure, on personal fulfillment, on financial gain, … but our success rate is not very good.

The best foundation is actually so solid that it has two layers: 1) a reliance upon Christ to meet our needs, and
2) a commitment to serve our spouse.

Click to read more: “The Double-Layered Foundation for Marriage.”

Blessings to you,
Tami

MannaforMarriage_final

 

The Glory of Femininity

What is true femininity? How can it strengthen our marriages?

Recently, I offered my salute to masculinity. Today I would like to honor femininity.

Every woman has a great strength to bring to her marriage: the “superpower” of femininity. femininityBy femininity, I do not mean pink, ruffles, or lace.

It is the great strength of femininity to offer warm welcome and deep acceptance.

{Click HERE to read more.}

As women embrace godly femininity, they regain not only a forgotten strength but also a God-revealing glory.

Blessings to you,
Tami
MannaforMarriage_final

Forgiveness as Self-Help?

Last week, I discussed forgiveness as a “weapon of mass destruction,” recognizing its immense spiritual power.  Today, I would like to continue with this theme of forgiveness, evaluating its current popularity as  therapeutic self-help. (If you missed last week’s post, you can read it HERE.)

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Trendy Self-Help

Interestingly, forgiveness has received a lot of positive press lately in mainstream culture. “Forgiveness is good for you” is a trending theme promoted by all kinds of secular sources, including physicians, psychologists, news outlets, and entertainment media. We can appreciate and even applaud this surge of support for forgiveness.

However, if we forgive only for our own sakes, then the power of forgiveness is stunted. True forgiveness is not primarily a self-help strategy, although we do benefit when we forgive. The tremendous dynamo of forgiveness is activated most fully when our motivation is grounded in truth and in love.

Diluting and Defusing Forgiveness

forgivenessIf we dilute our forgiveness by forgiving others for our own gain, then we lessen the impact of love upon the wrongdoer. We defuse the spiritual combustion that could have wreaked greater havoc on enemy forces.

Leslie Leyland Fields has written about the “therapeutic forgiveness message,” quoting those who say, “Forgiveness is a gift you give yourself.” She recalls Jesus’s parable of the unmerciful servant who was forgiven a large debt but who then refused to forgive someone else’s small debt:

That man with massive debts who is called before the king is us. We’re hopeless before the holy King. We stand there shoulder to shoulder with every other debtor, even those who owe us money and honor and … love. … Our only hope is the King himself, and he does it. He clears our debts entirely. … [The man in the parable] misses this essential fact: Forgiveness is not for his personal freedom and happiness alone. It’s to bring freedom and restoration to all, especially to those who owe him. … We may begin the journey of forgiveness to ease our own burdens. But along the way we discover a chance to live out the fullness of the gospel: loving the unlovely, forgiving seventy times seven. In so doing, we reflect the kingdom of God among us.[i]

Self-Help for God?

forgivenessDoes God forgive us so that He can give Himself a gift? No, at great cost to Himself, He forgives us so that we can receive a gift. He forgives us so that we can be changed through the power of love.

When we are given opportunities to forgive, we are being privileged to reflect God in a dramatic way.

 

(Read more about forgiveness HERE: “Forgiveness is the Gospel.”)

[i] “What We Forgot About Forgiveness.” Christianity Today. May 2014. 30-35.

Is Joy a Weapon?

The word “fight” is what caught my attention.

Fight Back with Joy is Margaret Feinberg’s latest book.[i] As you may know, I am passionate about fighting on our knees for our marriages and families, and I am convinced that worship is a powerful weapon in spiritual battle. When I saw Fight Back with Joy, I was eager to consider joy as another important weapon.

But is joy really a spiritual weapon? As I pondered that question, I focused on Nehemiah 8:10: “The joy of the LORD is my strength.” My thinking followed these successive steps:

1. The word used here in Nehemiah for “strength” is maowz, which means “place or means of safety, protection, refuge, stronghold” (Strong’s H4581). Maowz is sometimes translated as “fortress.” The prophet Jeremiah wrote, “LORD, you are my strength and fortress [maowz], my refuge in the day of trouble!” (16:19, NLT)

2. This means that the joy of the LORD is our refuge; it is a place of protection. In fact, the HCSB translates Nehemiah 8:10 like this: “Do not grieve, because the joy of the Lord is your stronghold.”

When we let go of joy, we make ourselves vulnerable to the enemy.

3. So … if joy is a weapon, then perhaps it is a shield, which offers protection. Roman soldiers had shields which would completely cover them, protecting them from attacks above or from the side.

4. The apostle Paul said that our faith functions as a spiritual shield. Could joy be a part of our faith? It is! It is a core piece, just as metal was sometimes the core piece of a Roman shield.

Joy is the faith that God loves us passionately and personally, intensely and intimately. Joy is the faith that God will keep His covenant promises to us without fail. Our conviction that we can trust God implicitly is what protects us from the schemes of the enemy.

Joy is not an emotion, although it can be expressed as an emotion. Joy is something we do: joy is choosing to believe that God loves us.

Perhaps we can say that joy is like the inner layer of metal within an ancient shield, adding strength to the wood and leather.joy

5. If joy is a weapon, then it is a shield of defense. We can choose to keep ourselves within the refuge of joy, keeping our thoughts and spirits deeply sheltered within the love of Christ—a love that is so wide and long and high and deep that it covers us fully and endlessly (Ephesians 3:18).

6. In researching Roman shields, I learned that the ancient shield was not only defensive but also offensive. How interesting! In fact, some claim that the Roman shield was primarily offensive. It was actually used to punch the enemy. It was the Roman soldier’s “main weapon.”[ii]

So … if joy is a shield, then it is also offensive. I love that! We do not only protect ourselves through joy, but we also advance through joy. We come against the enemy—we overcome the enemy–when we practice tenacious joy.

Here is how we “punch the enemy” with a shield of joy:

We will believe that God loves us. (Pow!) We will believe that God is actively loving us right now in this situation. (Crash!) We will believe that God’s love in unfailing. (Wham!) We will believe that God’s love for us is perfect, wise, and powerful. (Boom!) We will believe that God withholds no good thing from those who belong to Him. (Smash!)

7. So … yes, I think that joy is a weapon. Our shield of faith, strengthened with a core of joy, is a powerful spiritual weapon. As we believe truth, including the truths of love which strengthen us with joy, we are well equipped for victorious battle.

Ann Voskamp puts it this way:

The joy of the Lord is your strength and the person of Christ is your unassailable joy – and the battle for joy is nothing less than fighting the good fight of faith.[iii]

Take up your shield of faith, with its strong core of joy, and watch God win!

 

[i]  Worthy Publishing. 2015.

[ii] http://web.utk.edu/~cohprima/scutum.html. Accessed 6-6-15.

[iii] http://www.aholyexperience.com/2015/06/when-you-want-to-thrive-instead-of-just-barely-survive/

(Shield) Image courtesy of vectorolie at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Forget Your Marriage!

Forget your marriage.

Forget working on your checklist for the ideal marriage.

focus in marriage

Instead, focus on your spouse.

Trying to achieve a certain kind of marriage can make us crazy.  It can be very discouraging. But a lot of that hard work is misdirected energy. We are actually off-target when we focus on the marriage itself.

We have been called to love someone, not to create a particular kind of marriage. We do not take our marriages with us to heaven. We take people with us to heaven.

Focus on loving your spouse, serving according to his or her needs as God directs. As a result, your marriage will be blessed. But turning your eyes away from your spouse to focus on the marriage itself will bring frustration and disappointment.

We thrive when we stop trying to manipulate our marriages, and instead focus on valuing our spouses. They are the real treasures. Your husband is the real treasure. Your wife is the real treasure.

focus in marriage

Forget your marriage. Instead, focus on your ministry as a spouse.

When we stand before God, we will not be evaluated by the type of marriages we had. We will be accountable, however, for the way we ministered as wives or as husbands.

We torment ourselves with continually measuring our marriages against our version of the perfect marriage. We can live free from that! Instead of evaluating our marriages, we want to evaluate ourselves as wives or husbands. Let’s pray for insight into the needs of our covenant partners, and then let’s ask God to enable us to minister to those needs according to His wisdom and purposes.

     FORGET THIS:                                  FOCUS ON THIS:

  • grumbling                                                                  *gratitude
  • changing your spouse                                          *accepting your spouse
  • evaluating your marriage                                    *evaluating yourself as a spouse
  • controlling your spouse                                       *serving your spouse
  • judging, which is claiming to know                 *examining the motives of your heart
    the motives of someone else’s heart
  • pursuing your own agenda                                 *pursuing Christ, the One who fully                                                                                                         satisfies your deepest longings

 

(This material is adapted from Radiance: Secrets to Thriving in Marriage.)

Blessings to you,
Tami

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Images courtesy of Ambro at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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You can find “Forget Your Marriage!” and other helpful articles on marriage at the link-up here:
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10 Daily Vows for Lifelong Marriages

VowsPerhaps you wore a gorgeous gown or a dashing tux when you stood before God and spoke your vows. You chose someone—out of all the people on the face of the earth—to be “the one” for you. You made noble promises on a glorious day.

And then you began the daily business of marriage. You packed the gown or returned the tux, and you filed away the vows with special-day memories.

But you probably want the same thing that I want: day-by-day efforts that grow into a decade-by-decade success. If we want our daily decisions to create lifetime legacies, then this is what we must do: every day, we must choose our spouses again. Every day—maybe even every hour—we must choose again.

Every day, we choose to be committed to our covenant partners. Every day, we choose to make them our top priorities. Every day, we choose our spouses—out of all the people on the face of the earth—to be “the one” for us.

Every day, we can make five “I will not” commitments to our spouses:   (Click HERE to continue reading this article.)

Let us keep our marriage vows, which are really promises to God. Let us break our covenant promises the day that God breaks His covenant promises to us.

On Pentecost this weekend, don’t forget to celebrate the Spirit, the One who empowers us to keep our promises.

Blessings to you,
Tami

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Image courtesy of Rosen Georgiev at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

 

 

A Gift to Celebrate

There is a birthday coming up soon that you will not want to miss!

Did you know that “the birthday of the Church” is on May 24 this year? You may know the day better as “Pentecost” or as “the Feast of Weeks.” There are many things that I love about this holy-day, but if I had to pare it down to just one essential, I would say this:

Pentecost is a special day to thank God for the precious, powerful gift of His Spirit to every believer.

On the day of Pentecost, the Spirit came to God’s people like a mighty rushing wind. (See Acts 2.) The Spirit is not only God with us, but He is God within us! As we yield to God, His Spirit fills us just as the the beautiful glory of God filled the Old Testament tabernacle.

It is the weaving of the Spirit that allows us to abide in Christ as He abides in us. The Spirit guides us, challenges us, and comforts us. What a wonderful Gift to celebrate!

Like Pentecost, our marriages also have one essential:
the Holy Spirit.

The Spirit is the Mighty Rushing Wind in our marriages, too! It is through the Spirit that the glory of God fills our marriages. It is the Spirit who knits together one man and one woman within the one-flesh covenant. It is the Spirit who guides us to serve our spouses. It is the Breath of God who challenges us to love well and who comforts us in the painful places of our marriages.

The Spirit is the One who gives us power—the power to forgive, to honor, and to cherish (Acts 1:8). He gives us the ability to speak in other languages: He enables us to communicate love and respect in ways that our spouses can “hear” and receive (Acts 2:4). As God pours out His Spirit, there will be signs and wonders in our marriages (Acts 2:18, 19). There will be miracles of forgiveness, endurance, humility, and kindness.

It is the Spirit who oils our relationships with harmony. He is the Friend who longs to encourage the lover and his beloved, not only in the “Song of Songs,” but in every marriage.

Even if your spouse is not obedient to God, the Holy Spirit is able to pour redemption and goodness into your marriage through your yielded spirit.

What a wonderful Gift to celebrate!

LORD, I do thank You for the priceless gift of Your Spirit. How awesome that You would choose to live with me and even within me! I yield to Your rule in my marriage. Even if my spouse does not join me, I choose to yield to You. Fill my mind with Your thoughts; give me eyes to see what You see; and fill my heart with Your desires. Fill me with Your Presence so that Your glory radiates into my marriage. Amen.

A joyful celebration to you!
Tami

If you would like to learn more about Pentecost, I have written much more about it HERE and HERE.

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Image courtesy of Ambro at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Masculinity: A Salute to Men

How does an adult male become a masculine man?

masculinity

As a culture, we do not talk much about masculinity, and our little boys are becoming big boys instead of men.  We are seeing more passive males and fewer masculine men.

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Why is masculinity important?

In the beginning, “God created humans in his own image. He created them to be like himself. He created them male and female” (Genesis 1:27, ERV). Our human design as male or as female reflects something very important about God. We know that God is neither male nor female. However, He has attributes of both masculinity and femininity.

While being male or being female are components of biology, masculinity and femininity are components of relationship. The triune God encompasses full and rich relationship within the Godhead. When males live as masculine men, and when females live as feminine women, they are able to reveal more fully the glory of God. When we blur the distinctions of masculinity and femininity, we are blurring a critical piece of our knowledge of God. In the process, we also fail to know ourselves, for we have been made in His image.

In a culture which understands only the biological distinctions of male and female, people often act like animals, which are male or female but not masculine or feminine. When we reduce ourselves from “bearers of the divine image” to mere animals, we miss the glory and significance for which we were created. We also lose critically important tools for building strong relationships in our marriages.

Alone in the Garden of Eden before God created Eve, Adam was a male human being. But in relationship with his wife, Adam could be masculine. Understanding the unique strengths of both masculinity and femininity gives us an immense advantage in our marriages: not only do we gain insight into our spouses, but we also gain valuable instruction on how we can best contribute to these relationships.

While being male and female allows for physical interaction, being masculine and feminine allows for souls to be knit together.

What is the masculinity of God?

We see this type of masculinity being fleshed out through the Lover in the Song of the Songs, and we read God’s directives for masculinity in several power-packed verses in Ephesians 5. From these and other Scriptures, we learn two primary characteristics of God-revealing masculinity:

1. A masculine husband is a man of responsibility. The apostle Paul wrote that the husband is “the head” of his wife. This means that the man is to carry the weight of responsibility. God has charged the husband with nothing less than the well-being of his wife. It is the calling of a masculine man to cherish his wife, esteem her, protect her, provide for her, and love her with unconditional, tender love.

planting-865294_640Following the example of Christ the Bridegroom, a masculine husband makes it his goal to nurture his wife’s health and thriving, both outwardly and inwardly. This man does not shirk his responsibility; he stands tall to carry it well. As he shoulders the weight of this responsibility, a masculine husband gains the spiritual weight of significance and develops the strength of success.

2. A masculine husband is a man of action rather than a male of passivity. After accepting responsibility for the well-being of his wife, what does a husband do? With energy and with initiative, he acts on behalf of his wife. He moves toward his beloved to know her and to serve her. He works for her good, taking action even to the point of self-sacrifice. He lays down his self-centeredness, his self-directed interests, his self-focused energy, his self-directed time, and his own self-guided preferences. He knows that loving his wife well is the best thing that he can do for himself. When his bride is radiant, the masculine man wins. (They both win, don’t they?)

God’s loving of us first, His moving toward us to love us, His self-sacrificing action to rescue us, His ongoing pursuit of us—all of these are part of the masculine glory of God. Certainly, there are many times when women can, and even should, act in these ways, too. But God has a unique calling on the lives of husbands to be responsible for their wives’ well-being and to take energetic, loving action. Husbands who specialize in these things are wise.

How can a wife encourage her husband’s masculinity?

With the best of intentions, many women choose the worst of tactics: pushing, controlling, or leading. Not only do these approaches fail to stir up masculinity, but they can actually backfire, making matters worse. Pushing a husband tends to evoke his withdrawal or his anger—two things a wife does not want. When a wife tries to control or to lead, the husband will often become passive.

The best way to encourage masculinity is through femininity, which is the warm welcoming of a husband’s spirit. Femininity is the deep acceptance of a husband as a man of great value. (Certainly, femininity is not the welcoming of ungodly behavior, nor is it an acceptance of abuse.) A feminine woman supports and cooperates with the responsibility of her husband, and she welcomes his proactive movement to serve.

How does our culture affect masculinity?

Our culture works relentlessly to suppress masculinity. Though it may seem ironic to some, pornography is a vicious emasculator. The pornographic industry recognizes maleness, but it eviscerates masculinity. Pornography deforms a male into profound passivity; instead of moving toward his wife to give for her benefit, the husband demands movement toward himself for his own consumption. Instead of bearing responsibility, he denies it, trading away the masculine glory of God.

King David, who was a man after God’s own heart, spoke these final words of counsel to his son Solomon: “So be strong, act like a man, and observe what the Lord your God requires …” (1 Kings 2:1, NIV).

The Spirit of God is continuing to raise up such men––men of spiritual strength, action, and responsibility.

I salute these mighty, masculine men of God.

Love: Just the Basics, Please

I often need to recall the basics. Here are the basics of love, as spoken to us by Love Himself, paraphrased by Eugene Peterson. My favorite line is near the end:

Trust steadily in God, hope unswervingly, love extravagantly.

From “the love chapter” (1 Corinthians 13):

Love never gives up.
Love cares more for others than for self.
Love doesn’t want what it doesn’t have.
Love doesn’t strut, …
Isn’t always “me first,”
Doesn’t fly off the handle,
Doesn’t keep score of the sins of others, …
Trusts God always,
Always looks for the best,
Never looks back,

But keeps going to the end.

Love never dies. …

love

We don’t yet see things clearly. We’re squinting in a fog, peering through a mist. But it won’t be long before the weather clears and the sun shines bright! We’ll see it all then, see it all as clearly as God sees us, knowing him directly just as he knows us!

love

But for right now, until that completeness, we have three things to do to lead us toward that consummation: Trust steadily in God, hope unswervingly, love extravagantly. And the best of the three is love.

Here’s one more reminder:   No prayer call this week. But be sure to join us for next week’s call on Thursday, April 30.

Until then, I want to keep focusing on the basics:  “Trust steadily in God, hope unswervingly, love extravagantly.”

Blessings to you,
Tami

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Scripture taken from The Message (MSG).Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson.
Image courtesy of dan at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.
Image courtesy of nuttakit at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

 

 

The Strength of Joy for Your Marriage

Here is an amazing verse:

      Do not grieve, for the joy of the LORD is your strength.   (Nehemiah 8:10, NIV)

That is not only a command and a statement, but it is also a promise!

God is full of love, and He is also full of joy. Not only is He the greatest Lover, but He is also the most joyful Person in the universe. His love and His joy are woven together.

joy

We tend to think that if we have joy, then we can love others. But I think it really works the other way around: if we love, then we can have joy. When we give to others, we gain joy.

The exhaling of love allows the inhaling of joy.

But there is more! I think there is something else involved in this giving and this joy—something that is very important but often overlooked:

Covenantal love is a decision to enjoy another person.

While godly love is a commitment to give, it is also a commitment to enjoy.  Part of loving our spouses well is enjoying them–enjoying who they are. God does that for us, and we can do that for others. God delights in us, and we can choose to delight in others.

So I guess we can say that this, too, is a giving because we are giving the gift of enjoying. When someone enjoys who you are, isn’t that like a gift to you?

joyVery often, our joy in marriage is lacking because our commitment to enjoying our spouses is lacking. We think that enjoyment should simply come to us. It’s great when that happens, but sometimes we must make the decision—the determination even—to enjoy someone. After we take the challenge to enjoy, we can pray for eyes to see past faults and past behaviors to the core treasure of someone. We can pray to see more of what God sees and more of what God delights in.

Enjoying our spouse is part of our love. That is part of what we give. And when we give the way God does, then we have the joy that God has. Then we have the joy of the Lord as our  strength.

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Image courtesy of Witthaya Phonsawat at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.
Image courtesy of photostock at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

The Parity Principle

How would you take these two Scriptures concerning marriage and put them together in one illustration?

“You husbands must give honor to your wives.” 1 Peter 3:7, NLT
“Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord.” Ephesians 5:22, ESV

Author and pastor James Ford puts these two directives together in an unusual word-picture that he calls the “Parity Principle.” Here is how it works:

Parody PrincipleThe husband is to put his wife “on a pedestal,” so to speak. Just as a man might put a treasured heirloom on a pedestal of honor, so the husband is to esteem his wife and attach high value to her. When the wife is on a pedestal, the couple is not face-to-face.

However, …

The wife is “to bow,” so to speak,  to her husband. When the woman on the pedestal bows  in respect to the man who raised her to a place of honor,  the couple is now face-to-face in healthy relationship.

What do you think of that picture?

 

Marriage Essentials

BookCoverImageIf you had only a few minutes to share the most important principles about marriage, what would you say? What are the most critical components to understand about marriage?

Your Marriage: God’s Masterful Design is my response to those questions. I am excited to share this new resource with you! Many of you received a shorter, working version of this booklet several weeks ago. But I would like to give you now the completed version. Simply click HERE for the full PDF.

Your Marriage: God’s Masterful Design is also available as a full-color booklet on Amazon.

God’s design of marriage is masterful … and completely trustworthy!

Blessings to you,
Tami

God’s Gorgeous Design of Wives

Thank you for your prayers for the “WifeSOS” webinar this week. God blessed us with a wonderful event. As we thank Him for His help, let’s continue to pray that God will use the material to encourage and equip many wives.

If you missed the webinar, or would like to share it with someone else, here is my segment, “The Four Specialties of a Gorgeous Wife”:

May you soak in God’s amazing love for you this weekend.

Blessings to you,
Tami

A Daily Workout for a Healthy Marriage

 HOLD: hands and pray together workout 2(silently is fine)

PRESS: as many kisses as you can

LIFT: your spouse up in honor

KICK: self-pity to the curb

JOG: your memory with things you love about your           spouse

RUN: your complaints to God

PUSH: compliments and encouragement

PULL: your spouse close

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Twelve Days of Christmas Blessing

You made your list. Now check it twice: have you included a gift for your marriage?

I like the idea of celebrating the twelve days of Christmas with my true love. But have you priced a partridge in a pear tree lately? That unique-but-classic gift will cost over $200 this year. And while ten lords-a-leaping would be amusing, the $5,500 credit-card bill would not be.

ID-100222988

I am looking for something more priceless than pricey. Something more like this: “Twelve Days of Blessing for Your Marriage.”  (Click HERE to read more.)

 

 

 

Image courtesy of zole4 at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

 

What Goes Best with Turkey and Pumpkin Pie

thanksgiving-table-423560-mDo you know what is even better than being thankful?

Being thankful brings many benefits, including improved health and better relationships.  But there is something even better than being thankful:
giving thanks.

Many Americans will take a moment to be thankful this coming Thursday. Perhaps they will even list several things which they appreciate. But there will be fewer Americans who actually give thanks, who actually acknowledge and say, “thank You” to our Creator and Sustainer.

thanksgiving-arrangement-2-1229576-m

Gratitude creates joy,  but an even greater joy comes when we move our eyes from our gifts to the Face of the Giver. Instead of merely liking our gifts, let us thank and adore the Giver of every good gift.

the-gift-1259246-m

from Psalm 100 (The Message):

On your feet now—applaud God!
Bring a gift of laughter,
sing yourselves into his presence. …

 Enter with the password: “Thank you!”
Make yourselves at home, talking praise.
Thank him. Worship him.

For God is sheer beauty,
all-generous in love,
loyal always and ever.

bye-bye-sun-588373-m

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I misspoke on last week’s prayer call. We will not have our usual “Fighting on Our Knees” this week on Thanksgiving Day. If you missed last week’s call, you can listen to the conversation and prayer with Vicki Rose HERE.

 

 

Move from Isolation to Intimacy in 6 Steps

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

ID-10027742

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

 

“The Harry Potter Girl,” Marriage, & God

ID-10035357 (1)In her speech at the U.N. headquarters last week, Emma Watson announced the #HeForShe campaign, which encourages men to support women’s rights.

I wrote about the new movement, feminism, and marriage in this article for StartMarriageRight.com.

Click HERE to continue reading.

 

Image courtesy of photostock at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

And the winner is …

EveryReasontoLeaveCover… Selena!

Moody Publishers will be sending  to Selena a complimentary copy of Every Reason to Leave, and Why We Chose to Stay Together by Vicki Rose.

Selena, be sure to email me (MannaForMarriage@gmail.com) with your mailing address. I pray that this book will be a blessing to you.

And I pray God’s special encouragement for all of you who are “choosing to stay.”

 

She Had Every Reason to Leave

Vicki Rose had every earthly reason to leave her broken marriage.

But she discovered that she had an even greater reason to stay.

Vicki explains this in her new book, entitled,EveryReasontoLeaveCover
Every Reason to Leave: And Why We Chose to Stay Together,
published by Moody. Vicki shares not only the reason to stay that trumped all else, but she also shares the important steps to take that enable husbands and wives to stay and that allow marriages to mend.

Although the book is easy to read, it is packed with powerful truth. Vicki simply tells the story of her life, but because she has allowed God to be the Author, it is an incredible story of reconciliation and transformation, the kind that only God can perform. The restoration of the Roses’ marriage showcases the healing power of God.  The changes that God sculpted in the lives of Vicki and her husband are so profound and dramatic that they offer strong hope to readers who are struggling with their own reasons to leave.

This book depicts for us, first, the emptiness and dark futility of lives and marriages existing apart from God. But then we witness the abundance and rich fulfillment that is found through a wholehearted pursuit of God.

Vicki’s central premise is that the key to joy in life and to success in marriage is to “seek first the kingdom of God.” This book is full of Scripture, which is the only unfailing source of the guidance, strength, and comfort that we need.

My heart resonates with Vicki’s when she says that she wants to encourage others to “seek God for restoration and victory,” whether they are married, separated, or even divorced. Vicki says to her readers, “I want to cheer you on to prevent the regret that comes from walking away from something God can heal.”  Count me in on that cheering, too!

Cheering for you in your marriage,
Tami

(The giveaway contest for this book has concluded. Thank you to everyone who participated.)

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.)

Join us!

prayerYou are invited to join us as we “fight on our knees” every Thursday at 12:30 p.m. (Eastern time).  Join us either by phone or online as we pray for marriages and families. The call lasts only 15 minutes.

To join us by phone, simply  call 1-323-920-0091. When prompted, enter the access code 022 5211.

(Callers are in “listen-only” mode, so you need not worry about being put “on the air” or about having background noise around you.)

 To join us online as we pray, click HERE.

I look forward to praying with you on Thursday!

 

Marriage according to the Master

summer-fun-on-the-lake-1-834491-mLooking for God’s direction concerning
your marriage? Here is some clear instruction from 1 Corinthians 7—along with some encouragement and challenge, too:

Marriage is not a place to “stand up for your rights.” Marriage is a decision to serve the other….

[I]f you are married, stay married. This is the Master’s command…. If a wife should leave her husband, she must either remain single or else come back and make things right with him. And a husband has no right to get rid of his wife.

… If you are a man with a wife who is not a believer but who still wants to live with you, hold on to her. If you are a woman with a husband who is not a believer but he wants to live with you, hold on to him. The unbelieving husband shares to an extent in the holiness of his wife, and the unbelieving wife is likewise touched by the holiness of her husband. …

bike-friends-1008533-m[I]f the unbelieving spouse walks out, [God calls us to handle this] as peacefully as we can. You never know, wife: The way you handle this might bring your husband not only back to you but to God. You never know, husband: The way you handle this might bring your wife not only back to you but to God.

And don’t be wishing you were someplace else or with someone else. Where you are right now is God’s place for you. Live and obey and love and believe right there. God, not your marital status, defines your life.

“Scripture taken from The Message. Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002. Used by permission of NavPress Publishing Group.”

What Fills Your Marriage?

Here is a book that I would recommend even if it were nothing more than its title: Grace Filled Marriage. But now that I have finished reading Grace Filled Marriage, I am glad to say that I can recommend not only the title but also the entire book!

If “grace” refers to all the gifts springing from goodness and love—gifts such as acceptance and forgiveness and kindness—then grace is exactly what every marriage needs.  In this hope-filled, easy-to-read book, author Tim Kimmel explains what it means to fill a marriage with grace.

Here is a collection of quotes from the book:

GraceFilledMarriage[M]ost marriage don’t struggle from a lack of love; they struggle from a lack of grace. (3)

Love is the commitment of my will to your needs and best interests regardless of the cost. (65)

[We can be spouses who believe that] divine grace [is] bigger than human disgrace. (113)

The primary feature of a heart of grace is that it lives to trust God. (118)

When you and your spouse are talking your way through tough issues, the goal of the discussion should always be unity, never victory. … If you consistently win arguments with your mate, guess what you get to sleep with every night? A loser! (161)

… God is glorified when we fight for our marriage, pray like mad, and trust him to deal with our unrepentant spouse. (161)

He’s a bigger God than any mess you or your spouse could have made. (172)

[Problems are] opportunities to enjoy a front-row seat to [God’s] sustaining grace. (186)

Love that comes from God is unique: … it’s delivered in abundant quantities … and graciously (as though it’s an honor on the part of the giver). (217)

True greatness is a passionate love for Jesus Christ that shows itself in an unquenchable love and concern for others. (218)

Jesus passionately met our needs. He wants his love pouring through us to passionately meet our spouse’s needs. (221)

There’s a lot resting on your mariage. Big stuff. God’s kingdom stuff. Even though you record your marriage in years, there’s an eternal dimension to what your union represents to God’s grander redemptive story. There are a lot of people whose lives will be impacted by how you live out your love—even people in generations way on down the line from you. (234)

Your marriage is worth all the grace that you can pour into it.  May God fill your life today with His generous, lavish grace.

A very blessed Thanksgiving to you!

The Kindle edition of Radiance: Secrets to Thriving in Marriage RADIANCEwill be FREE on Amazon from November 29 through December 3. Learn God’s amazing design of marriage, women, and men. Whether your marriage is great or struggling, God is able to make you thrive right where you are. This encouraging book will share with you the secrets of a healthy, radiant spirit.

If you have a Kindle and also AmazonPrime, you can borrow the ebook for free during November and December.

May your spirit feast bountifully on the goodness of God during this special week of giving thanks to Him, the Source of every good gift.

23 Online Resources for Conquering Addictions

click-223338-mDid you know that the use of pornography increases marital infidelity by 300%?
Did you know that most divorces involve an addiction to pornography?*
Did you know that God is able  to break any addiction and to heal any marriage?

Today I am sharing with you some online resources (with links attached) that are available for those struggling with addiction. Many of these offer help to those struggling with either sexual or chemical addictions and to their spouses:

Beggar’s Daughter (“Communicating God’s grace to … women trapped in sexual sin”)

Bethesda Workshops

Biblical Counseling Coalition

Celebrate Recovery

Christian Counseling and Educational Foundation

Covenant Eyes       This site offers a number of free ebooks,  including the following:

  • “The Porn Circuit: Understand Your Brain and Break Porn Habits in 90 Days”
  • “Porn and Your Husband: A Recovery Guide for Wives”
  • “Hope after Porn” (encouragement for wives)

Faithful and True Ministries

Fight the New Drug (a secular group)

Focus on the Family

Free in Christ

Freed by Truth (includes secular resources)

Hope for the Heart

Genesis Counseling (Joe Dallas’s ministry)

Just 1 Click Away

L.I.F.E. Recovery

Mind Armor

New Life Ministries

Pure Hope

Pure Intimacy

Pure Life Ministries

Purity Online

WifeBoat (provides online support groups for wives)

XXX Church

Click HERE for an informative poster about pornography addiction from “Fight the New Drug.”

 

*statistics from www.Just 1 Click Away.com

“Her” Prayer

Last week, I shared with you a husband’s prayer. Today I want to share with you a wife’s prayer, based on Scripture. May God honor your prayers as you honor Him.Differently His and Hers

I thank You, LORD, for my husband and for Your awesome design in creating him; thank You for shaping him for greatness, for strength, and for success. Thank You for using my husband to bless me, and thank You for giving me the privilege of serving You by serving him. Help me to serve him well.

By Your Spirit, I submit today to my husband’s needs. Give me insight into those needs; give me the desire and the ability to minister well to those needs. Help me to bring him good, not harm, every day of my life. I pray that he would be able to have full confidence in me and that he would lack nothing that I could provide for him.

Help me to respect my husband today in ways that are meaningful to him; show me how to encourage him, affirm him, and add strength to him. Help me to supply to him what he cannot supply to himself. Keep me in awe of who You made him to be.

Help me to support him in the responsibility that You have given him to be the “head” woman-praying-840879-min this marriage. I recognize that he has an accountability before You that I do not have. Help me to respect and appreciate the weight that You have placed on his shoulders; help me to cooperate with him in Your plan.

Help me to be a wise woman who builds her house of marriage; please don’t let me tear it down with my own foolish hands. Show me how to use the “tool” of relationship skills that You have given me to create, not to destroy. Give me the wisdom to know how to build my husband up; give me the understanding I need to establish a strong friendship with him. Give me knowledge of my husband and of Your ways so that the “rooms” of our marriage will be filled with the “rare and beautiful treasures” of laughter, kindness, acceptance, and forgiveness.

Help me to keep a quiet spirit before my husband–a calm, peaceful spirit that trusts You. Keep me from controlling or manipulating,  condemning or rejecting. Help me to specialize in reverence and purity. Make me beautiful by making me holy, no longer belonging to myself but delighting in belonging to You. Give me the wisdom and the strength to do what is right. Help me not to be afraid but to trust You.

Help me to keep a continual “welcome!” in my spirit, accepting my husband graciously for who he is. Help me to keep choosing to like him and to keep determining to enjoy him. Allow me to see through his eyes so that we will experience the oneness that You have given us; knit us together as You desire.

Thank You, LORD.

(Genesis 2:18; Proverbs 14:1; 24:3-4; 31:11-12; Ephesians 5:22-23; Philippians 2:13; 1 Peter 3:1-6; Titus 2:4)

“His” Prayer

Do you have “his” and “her” towels at your house?his and hers
How about “his” and “her” prayers?

Today I want to share with you a husband’s prayer, based on Scripture.  Next week, I will share a wife’s prayer. And as always, I am glad to hear your thoughts, too!

I thank You, LORD, for my wife and for Your captivating design in creating her; thank You for her beautiful gifts and strengths. Thank You for using my wife to bless me, and thank You for giving me the privilege of serving You by serving her. Help me to serve her well.

By Your Spirit, I submit today to my wife’s needs. Give me insight into those needs; give me the desire and the ability to minister well to those needs.

man-praying-788582-mLORD, in yielding to Your plan for marriage, I acknowledge that You have given me the responsibility of being the “head” in this marriage: I am accountable to You  for the well-being of my wife. As You protect and provide for me, enable me to protect and provide for her.

Help me to lay down my life for her today in every way that You direct. Help me to lay down selfish ambition and self-focus. Help me to lay down my independence so that she can be dependent upon me and so that I can be dependent upon You. I choose to die to belonging to myself so that I can belong to her.

Show me how to “wash her feet,” ministering to her in ways that will make her radiant. Teach me how to care for her as for myself, nurturing her spirit so that she thrives. Show me how to love her well–with gentleness and with affection. Give me eyes to see through her eyes so that we will experience the oneness that You have given us; knit us together as You desire.

Help me to cover her as a roof covers walls, fabric-1-502205-mwilling to endure life’s harsh elements in order to shelter her; help me to cover her with tenderness and comfort as a blanket brings warmth on a cold night. Help me never to cover her with violence or even harshness–in action, word, or attitude. Instead, help me to be considerate as I live with my wife, esteeming  her as a “equal partner in God’s gift of new life.” Keep me mindful that my disrespect to her hinders my prayers to You.

May I be a faithful priest in our home, willing to sacrifice for my wife’s sake and willing to stand before You on her behalf.

Show us how to “relish life” together.

Thank you, LORD.

(Ecclesiastes 9:9, MSG; Malachi 2:16; Ephesians 5:25-33; Philippians 2:13; Colossians 2:2, KJV; Colossians 3:19, NIV or NLT; 1 Peter 3:7, NLT)

 

Fighting for Your Marriage … on Your Knees (Part 3)

How are you praying for your marriage? Here is a prayer, based on Scripture, that will enable you to fight for your marriage using “the sword of the Spirit”:

LORD, I lift this marriage to You. In the spiritual realm, I want to surround this marriage with prayer and praise, just as the Israelites surrounded Jericho. “Marching” around this marriage, I honor Your Name as holy. I acknowledge You as Sovereign Lord, and I declare that this marriage belongs to You and that I belong to You.

Lord, fight for us! By Your own right arm, intervene. Tear down every satanic stronghold in our spirits.¹ Bring it down to the dust—shattered, never to rise again.Tear down every stronghold built upon rebellion against You and built upon the lies of lust, greed, and pride.

In the Name of Jesus, I ask that  “the strong man,” the enemy of this marriage, be bound.² Bind up his lies; bind up his accusations and condemnations. In the Name of Jesus, I pray that the captives be set free.

I ask that every wicked scheme of the evil one be thwarted. I ask You to throw the forces of darkness into disarray; rout the enemy through division and confusion so that the enemy is utterly defeated. I pray that no weapon forged against us will prevail.³

Expose what the enemy is causing to fester in the dark, and reveal Yourself as the Healer and the Victor.  Make us aware of enemy tactics, and reveal to us the lies that we are believing.  By Your Spirit, flood our spirits with powerful truth, overwhelming and displacing every deception. Scatter the darkness with a mighty unleashing of liberating and healing Light.

Keep us from thinking that we are each other’s enemies; cause us to know that Satan is the enemy. Deliver us from the decaying disease of  self-centeredness, and free us to feast on Your glory. Deliver us from thinking that this covenant of marriage demands too much and takes too much from us; free us to know that giving to one another is what heals and enriches us. Break the chains that tell us we must protect ourselves and provide for ourselves; free us to know that You “withhold no good thing from those who do what is right” (Psalm 84:11, NLT). Set us free as we believe that You are trustworthy, that You are the unfailing Need-meeter, that You redeem our pain with glory, and that all our joy is found in You.

O LORD, You are my God. I will exalt You and praise Your Name, for in perfect faithfulness You have done and will do marvelous things, things planned long ago. I trust in You, and You save us. (adapted from Isaiah 25:1, NIV)

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¹ Specifically name any strongholds that God has revealed to you, such as anger, an addiction, a critical spirit, bitterness, or fear.
² Matthew 12:29
³ Isaiah 54:17
• Other Scriptures used are Isaiah 59:16, Isaiah 25:12, 1 John 2:16, Isaiah 61:1, Isaiah 54:17, 2 Corinthians 2:11, and Ephesians 6:12.

See also:
Fighting for Your Marriage … on Your Knees (Part 2)

Shared with Woman to Woman Ministries

Fighting for Your Marriage … on Your Knees (Part 2)

1408237_trees_in_fields_with_wendelstein_mountains_in_backgroundHave you prayed for your spouse today? Psalm 1 provides a helpful guide as you pray for your husband or wife, or for someone else you know.

A prayer for your husband:
LORD, I pray that my husband will be blessed today–happy and spiritually healthy in You. I pray that he will not walk in the counsel  of the wicked, listening to the lies of the enemy, but that he will walk in wisdom and in the counsel of the Spirit .  I pray that he will not stand in the way of sinners, but that he will stand in the way of saints, as a soldier of Christ with his feet planted firmly in truth. I pray that he will not sit in the seat of mockers, doubting Your goodness or scorning Your instructions, but that he will sit in reverence at the feet of Christ all day long, listening to You.

I pray that my husband will delight in Your law today, rejoicing that Your ways are good and Your instructions are trustworthy. I pray that he will meditate on Your law day and night, continually pondering Scripture, continually yielding to the shaping of Scripture, and continually looking to the Scriptures for guidance and comfort.

Make my husband to be like a tree 1402403_pinetree_on_the_beach_3that is planted by streams of water: cause him to be firmly grounded in Your love, and help him continuously to drink in the Holy Spirit. I pray that he will yield fruit in season as the Spirit produces godly character and holy living. I pray that his leaf will not wither: keep him from compromising his obedience to You in any way, and do not let him “wilt” from discouragement or despair.

I pray that whatever he does will prosper; make him incredibly successful in Your callings upon his life.  Prosper him as a husband, as a father, and as a member of his church; prosper him in the work that You have for him. May Your excellent purposes for his life be fulfilled, and may he succeed mightily as a great man of God.

1404706_mountain_creekA prayer for your wife:
LORD, I pray that my wife will be blessed today–happy and spiritually healthy in You. I pray that she will not walk in the counsel  of the wicked, listening to the lies of the enemy, but that she will walk in wisdom and in the counsel of the Spirit. I  pray that she will not stand in the way of sinners, but that she will stand in the way of saints, as a soldier of Christ with her feet planted firmly in truth. I pray that she will not sit in the seat of mockers, doubting Your goodness or scorning Your instructions, but that she will sit in reverence at the feet of Christ all day long, listening to You.

I pray that my wife will delight in Your law today, rejoicing that Your ways are good and Your instructions are trustworthy. I pray that she will meditate on Your law day and night, continually pondering Scripture, continually yielding to the shaping of Scripture, and continually looking to the Scriptures for guidance and comfort.

Make my wife to be like a tree that is planted by streams of water: cause her to be firmly grounded in Your love, and help her continuously to drink in the Holy Spirit. I pray that she will yield fruit in season as the 1403577_fall_colorsSpirit produces godly character and holy living. I pray that her leaf will not wither: keep her from compromising her obedience to You in any way, and do not let her “wilt” from discouragement or despair.

I pray that whatever she does will prosper; make her incredibly successful in Your callings upon her life.  Prosper her as a wife, as a mother, as a member of her church; prosper her in the work that You have for her. May Your excellent purposes for her life be fulfilled, and may she succeed mightily as a great woman of God.

(Modeled on the NIV translation of Psalm 1.)

See also:
Fighting for Your Marriage … on Your Knees (Part 1)
Fighting for Your Marriage … on Your Knees (Part 3)