Love To Die For

I wanted to share a great devotional I recently read.  A Love to Die For by Robert Nolan

Dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all He has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice — the kind He will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship Him. Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect. — Romans 12:1-2 NLT

Day to day in marriage, there are the simple requests, such as, “Can you pause your TV show for a few minutes and help me with something?” Then there are the hassled but harmless asks, like, “I know you’re really busy, but could you possibly leave early today to pick up the kids?” And finally, there are the potential game changers: “Some things are really bothering me about our relationship, and I think we need to talk tonight.”

Marriage constantly requires and challenges us to place our spouses before our own needs. But this is exactly God’s plan to change us into His image — His personal holiness prioritized over our passing happiness. After all, what could be better for a self-centered sinner than to continually place someone else first in the name of love?

Today’s scripture talks about “a living and holy sacrifice.” A “living sacrifice” is an oxymoron, meaning two words that seem mismatched together. If a sacrifice is laid on the altar to die in the place of someone else, then how can it possibly continue to live?

Paul was talking about a state in which we live on the altar of Christ, giving up our “rights” to Him and serving His purposes instead of our own.

As humans, constantly sacrificing for someone else will eventually burn us out and we will fail, always in time defaulting back to our own desires. But as Christ-followers, submitting our will to God keeps us motivated and moving toward the service of others for His sake. That is a totally different perspective and one that is necessary for a growing and healthy marriage.

Think for a moment about the strongest marriages you know in your circles. Consider the marriages that you would most want to imitate. There is a strong chance that those couples also commit to being living sacrifices to the Lord, as well as continually dying to self with one another.

A great evaluation would be to filter your relationship through today’s scripture to ask: Are there any areas of our marriage in which we “copy the behavior and customs of this world”? And then the follow-up question: What area of our marriage has been the most transformed by the Lord?

Creating Connection

Today, simply affirm one another. Speak not only compliments but also encouragement regarding any recent places of growth and change that you have not recognized before. Learn how to speak blessings to one another, as we often read of people doing in the Bible. This gesture will always be humbling, will push back pride, and will create a “die to self” moment, when all focus is placed positively on the other person.

How did your affirmation and encouragement affect each other?

Was there anything shared that seemed to have a strong impact?

How might continuing to voice positives encourage a “living sacrifice” marriage?

If you think a compliment of your mate, speak the compliment to your mate.

Advertisements

Have you ever noticed….

What you focus on in your life eventually materializes and becomes your reality?
If you focus on negative things or things you don’t want, then you tend to notice and attract much of those things in your life. If you focus on positive things or things you want, you tend to notice and attract much of the same in your life.

But… you may be wondering why I am telling you all of this? How does this apply to my marriage?

In order to have the marriage you want, you need to focus on the kind of marriage you want vs. focusing on the kind of marriage you don’t want. It’s as simple as that. By focusing on what you want – the positives in your marriage – you start to notice more positive things in your marriage and also, end up creating a more positive marriage.
If you focus on a quality you don’t like about your wife, then I bet you could think of even more qualities you don’t like about her. As a result, you may see her and treat her based on your already negative perception of her.

If on the other hand, you focused on qualities that you admire and like about your wife, then you could think of even more qualities you like and admire about her. As a result, you will see her and treat her based on positive realities of her. This change leads to you treating her in a positive way which could lead to her making changes in the way she sees and treats you.

A good quote to remember and apply:

“The person who works well four days out of five ought to be praised four times as often as he’s dumped on. But guess what. That’s exactly the opposite of what happens. The 80% of the time that he works well will simply go without comment because that’s what he’s supposed to be doing.” – Fran Tarkenton

Be Strong. Act Like Men

Anything But Ordinary

It was an ordinary night with ordinary sheep and ordinary shepherds. Then the black sky exploded with brightness. Trees that had been shadows jumped into clarity. Sheep that had been silent became a chorus of curiosity. One minute the shepherd was dead asleep, the next he was rubbing his eyes and staring into the face of an angel!

The night was ordinary no more. The angel came in the night because it’s when lights are best seen and when they are most needed. It all happened in a most remarkable moment—a moment like no other. God became a man. Divinity arrived. Heaven opened and placed her most precious one in a human womb. God had come near!

In the mystery of Christmas, we find its majesty. The mystery of how God became flesh, why he chose to come at all, and how much he must love his people!

“And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill toward men” (Luke 2:13)

Get In Over Your Head

A nice article by Shaunti Feldhahn:

“Our culture doesn’t always make it easy to stay married, does it? One of the most bogus messages we hear about marriage is that husbands and wives should keep a little piece of themselves private. You know, like feelings you keep from your mate but share with some other friend. Or a secret bank account where you keep a little stash on the side “just in case.”

But the highly happy couples I surveyed and interviewed weren’t buying it. They threw everything into the ring – their hearts, their wallets, and especially their hopes –risking everything and deciding to believe that it would pay off. Many of these couples had moved from being very troubled in their marriage to very happy… and this particular secret was one of the most important reasons why.

They literally removed the word “divorce” from their vocabularies. They took a deep breath and decided to not have their little stash of money on the side. They gave each other full access to bank accounts, email accounts, computers, and telephones, hiding nothing. Sure, some couples did it a bit differently – for example, if one spouse had a gambling problem, they would get counsel about what financial boundaries to put in place – but otherwise they made themselves completely vulnerable to each other and took what felt like a huge risk of getting their heart broken or losing everything.

And once they were “all in,” they found that the earlier actions they had been taking to “protect themselves” actually created the very problems they were trying to protect themselves against! As one woman I interviewed said, “What is more foolish? Taking the risk to trust him and risking the small likelihood that your spouse will betray you? Or deciding that you’re not going to fully trust him and risking the almost certain likelihood that it will build a wall between you and undermine your marriage?”

One husband who had come very close to divorce told me, “Everything changed when we decided to lock ourselves in this marriage and throw away the key. Even if only one person decides to change the commitment level at first, It is amazing how much things change when you stop saying the ‘D-word’ and instead decide that as much as it depends on you, you truly are in it until death do you part. My wife started to refuse to listen when I would throw out the D-word… and pretty soon it was catching.”

He continued, “We decided that since there was no eject seat, we had to work this out. We had no other choice. It took a few years, but we are so happy today. We love being married. I wish everyone would realize the power of true commitment.”

When it comes to marriage, you truly get what you give. We get so much more when we give our spouses our all and decide that we are going to be all in no matter what.”

Becoming a Student

What do you cherish and nourish the most? Be honest. Is it your car? Golf clubs? Dog? iPad? Yard? Because you cherish it, how do you treat it? You take care of it. You pay attention to it. You tend to the needs of it. You protect it and make sure it doesn’t get broken.

I’d like you consider the concept of cherishing and nourishing your wife.

What does it mean to cherish and nourish your wife? It means that you provide the ingredients they need for life. It may mean praying with her. It may mean reading Scripture with her. It may mean sharing what’s going on in your life with her or asking her what is going on in her life. It may mean speaking to her potential.

Are you thinking how am I supposed to figure out how to do this? After all – our wives do not come with an instruction book? I don’t remember my yard coming with a set of instructions either. I had to research. I had to learn. I had to study my yard. I had to admit my mistakes; and then learn again. Your wife is not the lawn, so save your pile of fertilizer. To be successful with cherishing and nourishing your wife – you will need to become a student of your wife. It means pursuing her heart, speaking to her potential and praying for her. Do not under estimate the power of your words and actions in your wife’s life. Be sincere. Be consistent.

“Pleasant words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones” – Proverbs 16:24

A little warning – she may not believe what you are saying to her. She may not trust it. She may not feel what you are saying to her. If she says that she is doesn’t believe it; then look her in the eye and say – “You can believe it if you want to. You don’t have to believe it, but it is the truth”

Be Strong. Act Like Men.

So Right So Wrong

Who is right? More importantly….who is wrong? I find myself getting caught up in this exact thing with my wife and children at time. Dennis and Barbra Rainey wrote about it in their devotional “Moments with You”:

“Why do you look at the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? MATTHEW 7:3

I’m sure you’ve had a disagreement (or more than one!) with each other that turned into a stalemate or brick wall. You didn’t really care if it came to a conclusion. You just wanted a truce. You wanted this thing behind you. You were tired of fighting.

Maybe it started with an argument about the checkbook. Maybe it had something to do with the in-laws. Maybe it was a difference of opinion on a parenting issue. But somewhere along the way, the conflict turned into much more. It took on a life of its own. Now you can hardly stand to be in the same room together.

Well, are you prepared to let reconciliation start with you? Are you ready to give up the notion that you’re mostly right? Deeper still, are you willing to strive to recapture the reality of what your marriage is all about—the transcendent beauty of reflecting God’s love on Earth? I know that you may be thinking, When I’m hurt I don’t care about God’s glory.

I just want to get even.

Don’t be ruled by your emotions. Instead, do it Jesus’ way: Take the log out of your eye. No matter what your spouse has done, no matter how misguided you think he or she has been, the key to real resolution is to start removing your log. Accept full responsibility for your part in this, and place the value of your mate and your relationship above the value of your own pride and your need to be right.

God wants more for you than being able to tolerate each other. He wants you to show forth His glory in the way you honor, love and respect each other.

Remove the logjam. And shoot for something higher.”